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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Letter #1 From Keith 

As a support service to family, friends and interested readers, I will post letters from my nephew Keith from time to time.

Brief background - Keith is an Army veteran who joined a suburban Chicago police department after his military service. After the September 11th attacks, he joined the Army Reserves, and was assigned to an MP unit. He and ten others from his Unit are now at an Army training base in the Southwest United States, undergoing training before deployment to Afghanistan. Because of his police background, Keith is being used as an instructor during this training. He was recently promoted to Staff Sergeant, hence the reference to his initiation.

Keith is the youngest of five boys, and is married to Kim. They have one son, Jimmy.

Hello All, 6/17/06

I know it’s only been a few days since you heard from me, but we have a free day today so I figured that I would take advantage of that. We completed the Detainee Ops phase yesterday with a day long practical exercise. It was our task to run a Detainee Camp, Camp Outlaw, for approximately 10 hours. They even fill the camp with role players who dress and act as detainees. Many of the role players were the same that participated in our riot training exercise.

Everything that could go wrong in a detainee camp went wrong throughout the day. This obviously is designed to manufacture stress, which for the Navy personnel that we have been training with, it did. They had to deal with everything from minor problems, to a full out riot that lasted over an hour. It was actually pretty funny. They were throwing sponge grenades, plastic bottles, tennis balls, water balloons, and at one point, a plastic rat. During the riot I took cover in the guard shack and ate my MRE lunch.

We, again, acted as assistant instructors for the Navy people, and were there to give them guidance if they needed it, and boy did they ever need it. But when all was said and done, they didn’t do too badly considering none of them have experience either in law enforcement or corrections.

Needless to say though, I am very glad that this phase is over. Our Brigade Commander, Brigadier General XXX and Brigade Sergeant Major, Sergeant Major XXX, were down here today. They came down to observe some of our training, and took some time to talk with each of us. Kind of a long trip to make just for the 11 of us, don’t you think? But it was a nice gesture, and they had kind words for all of us. Our next phase which starts on Monday is Urban Warfare, which should be fun. Tomorrow I have to make up Land Navigation training that I missed when I had to attend that Advocate training. I hope it isn’t too hot since this is Dismounted Land Navigation, on foot in other words.(ha-ha)

My eyes are back to normal, thank God. For those of you who didn’t know, I was having some difficulty with my vision after being hit with the OC, or pepper spray. My vision was blurry and it wasn’t getting better after 4 days, so I went to the Troop Medical Center. They think, and I agree, that it was just taking time for my eyes to recover since it is so dry down here. They gave me some drops and those really seem to help. I was a bit nervous about the blurriness since as I told the nurse, all I have is my eyesight and my sense of humor, and I’m not that funny.

I tried burning my first DVD with the laptop the other night, and it seemed to work. It contains some brief footage of the night fire M-4 qualification range, which I thought Jimmy would get a kick out of. It also contains some footage of people at the decon station after being sprayed with the OC. Finally there is some footage of my promotion and brief hazing. If you listen, not to the profanity, you can hear me doing Richard Gere from “An Officer and a Gentlemen” while I am being sprayed with the hose doing push-ups.

Well that is all for now. As always I will continue to keep you all updated on my progress and hopefully soon conclusion to this training. Again I must say how grateful I am to all who continue to keep my family in their thoughts. The support that you have shown through your actions and phone calls gives me great comfort. I hope that when I get home, it’s possible for me to properly thank all of you.

Talk to all of you soon
Love and miss you all.

Monday, June 05, 2006



When I entered the business world in the 1960’s, there was not much discussion about dress codes in American offices. Men were expected to wear white shirts and ties, with a business suit. Women wore dresses, or skirts and blouses. These were the expected norms, and accepted by most office workers.

The youth movements of the time began to infiltrate this stratified world with our female coworkers demanding that pant suits be accepted attire for them. The advent of the mini skirt brought another ripple into the business world, as companies began to define how short a skirt could be and still be acceptable. It was then a short trip to the once a month casual day, and then the spread of the ‘Casual Friday’ concept. By the time I left the world of office attire, ‘Business Casual’ was accepted by most corporate entities, including the most conservative banks and investment houses.

As a supervisor and manager, the most contentious discussions I had with employees concerned dress code provisions and penalties. To be honest, I never treated this part of management responsibility as a life or death matter. My sometimes cavalier attitude caused me more grief from senior management than most employees could have ever imagined. When discussing approved skirt lengths for instance, one senior manager said that four inches above the knee was the shortest a skirt should be. I first asked how that could be measured without risking a sexual harassment complaint. My second comment was to ask if the four inch rule would apply to a female employee who was 5 ft 10 inches tall with a 40 inch inseam, as well as a 4 foot 10 inch employee with a 26 inch inseam. You don’t have to be a math major to understand that an arbitrary standard length would have a significantly different result on these two examples. I was accused of not taking the matter seriously, to which I admit guilt.

The last discussions I sat in on were to determine the acceptability of jeans with strategically placed cuts and rips. I suggested issuing non form fitting jumpsuits to all employees, in standard gray pinstripe. A small company logo over the breast pocket, and a rank insignia on the left sleeve identifying their job classification would complete the look. I was invited to leave if I had nothing constructive to add. That ended my participation in dress code meetings.

What brought this to mind was a comparison of penalties for dress code violations. In most cases, employees found to be out of compliance were sent home to change. This could result in an unapproved absence, and some unpaid time off. Repeated offenders risked unpaid suspensions, ranging from one to five days, depending on the frequency of wearing inappropriate attire. Termination was not part of the discipline code, unless other work related issues were also involved.

I have recently noted news stories about students being sent home for clothing deemed inappropriate or offensive, and in some cases, suspension from school has been enforced. By and large, in all of Western society, the most severe punishment in either business or school for dress code violations is to be sent home. Embarrassing, but not life threatening.

By comparison, dress code violations in Moslem countries, and even in Western countries with large Moslem communities, can indeed be a matter of life and death. In particular, women who violate Islamic dress codes do so at great risk. I would call your attention to some of the more recent incidents involving violations of Islamic dress codes.

At least fourteen young girls were burned to death in Saudi Arabia when attempting to flee their burning boarding school. Since the fire occurred in the middle of the night, after they had gone to bed, they were not wearing the required long robes and head scarves. The religious police forced them back into the fire, where they perished.

In Afghanistan, women who dared to wear nail polish had their fingernails ripped out by religious police. Female doctors, teachers and other professionals who did not wear the burqa while at work were arrested and shot. The Taliban eventually solved that issue by forbidding these women from working at all.

In Indonesia, a supposedly moderate Moslem nation, three Christian schoolgirls were beheaded for attending a school that allowed them to wear a uniform where the skirt showed part of their lower legs. The girls were not Moslem, but the beheaders were, so I guess the Islamic rules applied.

In Iraq, two members of a men’s soccer team, and their coach, were dragged into the street and shot. The crime was wearing shorts after a soccer practice. At least we know that the penalties for dress code violations for men can be as sever as those imposed on women.

In Taliban ruled Afghanistan, men were beaten, imprisoned and flogged for shaving.

Moslem areas in Nigeria erupted in rioting, leaving over 200 people dead, when a world wide beauty contest was scheduled in that nation. Apparently, the possibility of seeing a woman in a bathing suit was enough of an incitement that killing and looting was considered a proper response by local Moslems.

As noted above, in the case of the three Christian school girls, one must adhere to Islamic dress codes even if not a Moslem. This is not only true in Moslem nations, but can now be observed in Western countries as well.

France, Norway, Sweden and Australia have experienced a frightening rise in gang rapes committed by young Moslem men, against native European women. Apparently, by not wearing appropriate clothing and head scarves, even non-Muslim women in Western countries are fair game to gangs of Muslim men, since they dress like “whores” by showing bare legs, arms and heads.

“Honor” killings in England, Germany, and other European nations have increased, as Moslem fathers and brothers are killing female family members for not wearing traditional, accepted clothing.

In Germany, female teachers have been attacked by Moslem students for not wearing head coverings in class, even though the teachers are not Moslem.

It would appear that the differences between accepted standards of punishment for something as simple as a violation of a dress code carry a much more severe penalty by the followers of Islam than most other religions and societies. Could it be, just as a matter of discussion, that there really is a clash of cultures, rather than the simple misunderstandings that the media keeps repeating? Could it also be that while Moslems continue to berate Westerners for their lack of understanding and respect for Islam, that the followers of Islam have no intention of reciprocating by understanding and respecting the culture of the West?

While we have not seen the gang rapes and honor killings experienced in Western Europe and Australia, the increasing radicalism of some Moslem communities in the United States, fostered by the fundamentalist clerics in certain mosques, is causing me great apprehension that we too could experience this trend. And I have not heard any specific condemnation of these trends from the mainstream Islamic organizations in America. Why the silence by them, and the media that supports them? As my Grandfather once said, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”. I hope that the death penalty for dress code violations is not something we should prepare for.

Tom Glennon

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