To get to the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex — one of three sites around the world for antennas making up the Deep Space Network — I had to go through the Army’s National Training Center at Fort Irwin. Near the gate is a cluster of boulders known as “Painted Rock,” bearing the shields and colors of units who have trained here. It’s kind of amazing to think of the Mojave Desert as a last stop for so many soldiers before they head out to Iraq and Afghanistan. There’s plenty of space to practice tank maneuvers, as General George Patton discovered in the 1930s. (Some of his tank tracks are apparently still out there.) The desolation of this place certainly focuses the mind. I saw a rock painted with the motto “Send Me,” and thought about how dangerous the environment is over there. Someone has to carry out the wars our government mandates. These guys raise their hands.