Thanks to Jon Solomon for forwarding the following Associated Press story. Spare a thought for the men & women of the US Army — I don’t care how hungover you are today, at least you don’t have to listen to the Vandals.

While Saddam Hussein spent a second New Year’s Eve in a jail cell, a Southern California rock band known for such albums as ‘Hitler Bad, Vandals Good’ and ‘Look What I Almost Stepped In’ played in the heart of his former empire.

The 3rd Brigade of the army’s 1st Cavalry Division got a one-hour show by punk perennials The Vandals during a modest Friday night party in the Green Zone.

The show was one of the few entertainments provided for U.S. troops in Iraq on New Year’s Eve, a day marked chiefly by a relative lull in violence. A nighttime curfew kept Iraqis off the street, and the only fireworks were a few flares shot out of the Green Zone and about 20 minutes of gunfire echoing across the city just after midnight.

Many soldiers sat in the dusty, darkened theatre staring in bemusement, but a handful of die-hards jostled each other in true slamdance style in the impromptu mosh pit.

“This is straight up one of the few times I get to go out and beat people up, but it’s a friendly atmosphere so we’re not getting beat up too bad,” said Pte. 1st Class Russell Holt, 20, a medic from Tampa, Fla. “These guys are up there with Superchunk.”

Celebrity visitors for every taste have touched foot in Iraq since the war began. Troops have chuckled to Robin Williams and Rob Schneider of Saturday Night Live. Pro wrestler Diamond Dallas Page taught soldiers a few moves, while pro fisherman Ray Scott, affectionately known as the Bass Boss, cast lines into the Tigris River.

The Vandals acknowledged they do not have the drawing power of other visitors like country music star Toby Keith, former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Rob Dibble or the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. But they said they were pleased with the military crowds.

“You rock out to the band you have, not the band you wish you had,” guitarist Warren Fitzgerald said, riffing on Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld’s comments to troops in Kuwait who complained the army was not getting them enough armour.

Please, enough with the false modesty. I am certain the Vandals are every bit as hot an attraction as Rob Dibble. I don’t know if TSOL are still together or not, but is there any way the USO could send them to Afghanistan? Not to perform or anything, just to go there and stay.