Friday, July 5, 2013

The Books: Demobilization Downsizing

"When the United States leaves a war zone, they generally don't take their munitions. It costs more to bring it back than to buy new stock."
- Lord of War
My time here in Aberdeen is drawing to a close. I'm well past the proverbial hump, and the day when I pack up the last of my belongings and board that plane to head back home to the States will come sooner rather than later. I've moved several times in the last few years, including to and from the Middle East. One of the things I've learned is that it helps to plan ahead for what you're taking with you, and what you're leaving behind. I shipped far too much stuff home from the Middle East, I kept far too much stuff from my last apartment in the States, and I brought far too much stuff with me from the States - it was great to see Gus, but most of what he brought in my second seabag hasn't been touched. I'm going to try to do better this time around, and restrict myself to my Echo Pack and one seabag. Part of that will be accomplished by leaving a lot of my clothing behind, but that won't be enough.

One thing that I always retain - usually in great quantities - is books. I brought a bunch of books with me, Gus brought several more, and I've bought a number of books while I've been here. So, where do I expect them all to end up? Well, in order to help me start organizing, I took pictures of the several places where I have books: my locker, my desk in the SOC, and my bookshelf in my bedroom. So, what are the verdicts?

Two of the books in that first picture, Defending Arabia and Arabia, the Gulf & the West, were loaned from the Director. They'll be returned soon.

I have a lot of textbooks, some of which I've read, others of which I've read in part, and still others of which haven't been so much as cracked. These are: Another Bloody Century, The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy, Intelligence in an Insecure World, Intelligence Power in Peace and War, The Penguin Dictionary of International Relations, Secret Intelligence: A Reader, Strategy in the Contemporary World, Modern Military Strategy: An Introduction, and Modern Strategy. I won't be taking any of these home with me, save possibly for Intelligence Power in Peace and War. Pretty much everything can be re-purchased back in the States if I so desire.

I'll probably leave my Gideons New Testament behind, and I may leave my copy of the The Book of Common Prayer behind - I had the latter with me in the Middle East, but it may be worth saving the weight to replace it instead of carrying it back. (I already have an identical copy that I received for my confirmation in 2008.) I also have two Oberon journal refills that I've been using (very sporadically) to take notes from risk management textbooks. If one of them is still blank when I finish up in a few months, then it'll get left behind.

I brought a bunch of travel guides, most of which probably won't even get cracked. The Internet being what it is, and given the limited amount of time I've actually spent travelling, I haven't needed Let's Go: Europe 2012, Let's Go: Great Britain with Belfast and Dublin, or Lonely Planet: Ireland, and they'll get left behind. I'll take Lonely Planet Libya and The Rough Guide to Oman home, though, in part as reference materials, and also in the hope that I wind up visiting both countries in the future. (I still haven't ruled out a hop to Oman later this year, but we'll see.)

I have a bunch of books, some of which I brought, and some of which I've since bought, that aren't school-related. These are: Commando Comics: Desert Rats, Commando Country, Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories, Saving Private Sarbi, The Art and Science of Embalming: Descriptive and Operative, The Design and Evaluation of Physical Protection Systems, and Where the West Ends. There's also the copy of Taken on Trust by Terry Waite, that I got when I met him in November. All of these will be going back home with me.

There are a few other leisure books to consider: American Sniper, No Easy Day, Starship Troopers, and Arabian Sands. These will all be left behind; Arabian Sands is already slated to be handed off to the Director, and I'll re-purchase it once I'm back in the States.

I'll also be packing a few other books that sort of straddle the line between leisure reading and academic literature: The Bear Went Over the Mountain, Cables from Kabul, Caesar Against the Celts, and Roman Britain: Outpost of the Empire. All of these will be shipped or packed.

Finally, there's a stack of books pertaining directly to my dissertation: SAS Secret War: Operation Storm in the Middle East, The Secret War: Dhofar 1971/1972, Storm Front, We Won a War, Where Soldiers Fear to Tread, and Who Dares Wins. Most of these are out of print, or just plain unavailable in the States. Plus, if I'm going to spend the rest of my life being an expert on the Dhofar Rebellion, I'd damn well better have the literary corpus to back that up with. So, every last one of these books will be either shipped, or packed.

This is just the beginning. The process of preparing for this latest demobilization and repatriation will be a long and arduous one.

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