Being a member of the US military in Afghanistan takes it's toll after a few years. So last week, Sergeant First Class William Ruth of the Army's 101st Airborne Division proposed an alternative mission for his soldiers: let them be the first humans to colonize another planet. In his letter (below) to an editor at LiveScience, Ruth says his unit's role as advanced scouts and reconnaissance soldiers makes them ideally suited to the rough, lonely life in the cold, barren wastes that await them on Mars, the Moon, or elsewhere.

Ruth's letter says it all:

Please forward this to the proper channels. I have read Stephen Hawking's latest remarks on space travel and the importance of it to human survival. The problem is, NASA is going about it all the wrong way.

Here is an idea: Send battle-hardened, strong-minded soldiers and marines on the long trips into space. We are conditioned to live with the bare minimal (of) life's necessities and are trained to be prepared for ... the worst conditions that any environment could throw at us.

Hell, me and my men will go, set up a colony somewhere and await colonists to arrive.

Me and most of my men are on our 3rd or 4th deployment into a combat area. We are scouts, reconnaissance specialists. We go before everyone else and spend time living off the land. Sounds just like the type of men needed for a long colonization journey.

Please pass this message on to anyone you know in the space program. (T)here are many men already trained and prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country and the human race.

Thank you for you time.

SFC Ruth, 101st Airborne Division. Afghanistan

Patriotism and desire to get out of Afghanistan aside, who better to blast alien nasties than these soldiers? Chances are there's nothing out there that can hurt us, but if there is you're going to regret not having the Colonial Marines expeditionary force along with you.