Saturday, June 07, 2003

IF MY INFORMATION is correct, this is the stadium where CPT Patti has set up her supply base. Most Americans don't truly understand how maniacal soccer fans are in most parts of the world.
Ammo Baba, the greatest Iraqi footballer of all time, has called on occupying US forces to remove their tanks from the country’s main stadium in Baghdad.

The Al-Shaab People’s National Stadium has been used as an army base since US-led forces entered the Iraqi capital in April. It has been a mecca for Iraqi football lovers ever since it opened in 1966 with a match between a Baghdad team and a Benfica side led by Portuguese legend, Eusebio.

The whole story is here.
TODAY'S WINNER OF THE good point of the day goes the anonymous Marine.
Of all the roles many US soldiers are playing in Iraq, acting as custodians of Mesopotamia's cultural heritage has been the most gratifying and controversial - for themselves and for many Iraqis. Americans haven't been aggressive guardians, Iraqis said, and are squandering an opportunity to earn their trust by inadequately protecting ancient sites like Babylon.

Murphy, a muralist back home, revels in sharing tales from ancient Babylon that he gleaned from Mr. Sutton's history class at Braintree High School, and more recently from ''The Complete Idiot's Guide to Iraq,'' a gift from his wife. Other soldiers, however, resent their duties at some of Iraq's 10,000 archeological and museum sites, saying they were trained to fight a war, not hunt for artifacts or stand under the hot sun monitoring treasures that hold little meaning for them.

''I know how to kill people - that's my job,'' said one Marine stationed at a historical site in southern Iraq, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ''Now we're being asked to be these people's best friends. And guard their antiquities, even as Iraqis themselves steal them.''

Read the whole thing here.
AND THEN THERE IS this story. The predictions are the once-powerful minority Sunni Muslims will be the source of the greatest problems.
Backed by their patron, Saddam Hussein, Sunni Muslims were Iraq's power brokers for a generation. But in the new pecking order of U.S.-occupied Iraq, they have lost much of their influence. Though there is no indication of organized resistance yet, they're angry.

“The future is jihad,” said Sheik Mohammed Ali Abbas, a cleric in Ramadi, 65 miles west of Baghdad. “Do you know of anyone who can accept this humiliation? Do you just let them occupy your land while you sit and do nothing?”

The story goes on to say this as well..."They consider U.S. servicewomen a deliberate insult."

EVIDENCE THAT IT INDEED continues to get worse. Praise Jesus that His was a message of love.
The imam at one of Baghdad's largest mosques urged more than a thousand listeners on Friday to wage a jihad, or religious war, against U.S. occupying forces in Iraq.

Speaking at Friday prayer services, Imam Mouaid Ubaidi denounced the Americans as "invaders" and "aggressors" and implicitly praised recent guerrilla attacks against U.S. soldiers as self-defense by people who are being "strangled."

"There are only two powers now in the world," the Sunni Muslim cleric said in an unusually bellicose sermon.

"One is America, which is tyrannical and oppressive. The other is a warrior who has not yet been awakened from his slumber, and that warrior is Islam."

Read the whole depressing story here.
THE UNPRECEDENTED JOINTNESS of the Iraqi war is responsible for the speed of the victory argues this article. And while I believe this to be true, I also think the fact Iraq had a terrible army also contributed to the speed of the victory. There is an old saying in the Army..."Never forget that the enemy gets a vote." And in many cases the regular forces voted with their feet, their ineptitude or both.
Planners at Central Command wanted to cut by half through air attacks the combat effectiveness of the Medina Division, which was deployed near Baghdad, before American ground forces reached it.

Air power was to be supplemented and eventually supplanted by artillery, rocket and helicopter strikes before tanks and infantry engaged Iraqi forces on the ground.
Franks' original time-line, according to pre-war briefings, had ground forces in Baghdad on Day 10.

Things did not work out quite that way - fortuitously, as it turned out. Iraqi resistance damaged army attack helicopters, and the 3rd Division slowed its advance to wait for its follow-on unit, the 101st Airborne Division, as well as for supplies. The weather also played a role.

But through air power, the time was put to good use, not only by redirecting strike sorties but also through the use of all-weather weapons.
THIS IS KINDA neat. Some American high schools here in Europe will web-cast their commencement exercises so some of the deployed parents will be able to watch. The entire story is here.
Many deployed parents of Department of Defense Dependents Schools seniors in Europe have the opportunity to see commencement ceremonies, if not be there, thanks to new initiatives and partnerships.

DODDS-Europe, along with commanders, communications personnel, General Dynamics, and the American Forces Network have teamed to help bring families together during graduation.

Various schools throughout Europe, hit hard by the deployment of parents, have come up with ideas to allow parents to be there — even if not in person — for the graduation ceremonies being held between Thursday and Sunday.

Ideas include videotaping and video teleconferencing ceremonies and even offering a few parents a day trip back home to let them see the culmination of their child’s secondary school career.
1AD UNCOVERS A LARGE cache of weapons. And it looks ominous.
Inside a warehouse facility, soldiers of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, assigned in part to Task Force 2-37 of the 1st Armored Division with its headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany, confiscated five AK-47 rifles, two pistols, 10 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, an assortment of mortar rounds, a heavy machine gun, a commercially made detonator, 20 gas masks, and 12 million dinar in cash, or roughly $12,000, said Capt. Reid Norris, the Apache Troop’s commander.

Arms dealing isn’t uncommon in the eastern parts of Baghdad — but Wednesday’s seizure is one Norris finds troublesome, he said.

“The guys selling on the street, they’re just trying to make a buck,” he said during a patrol Thursday of a 900,000-resident section called New Baghdad. “The guys we found last night, and the amount of weapons and type of weapons we found all in one place, tells me someone is trying to organize some kind of resistance.”

Read the rest here.
SATURDAY, JUNE 7th. The 27th day of CPT Patti's deployment. Still no word from our girl.

Friday, June 06, 2003

HALLELUJAH - BILL CLINTON'S one-man assault on the 22d amendment turns out to be, well, just about a one-man assault. Meanwhile this poll shows that Dubya would do something else his father didn't do...whip Slick Willie at the polls.
Only 20 percent of the public supports changing the 22nd Amendment, while the more widely held opinion (75 percent) is that the Constitution should not be modified to allow for a third presidential term. Partisanship is not an issue here, as Democrats and Republicans equally oppose allowing a third term. Men are slightly more opposed to making the change than women (78 percent and 73 percent respectively). Some of Clinton’s fellow baby boomers (age 51-59) are the strongest opponents at 82 percent.

In the hypothetical Bush-Clinton matchup, Republicans solidly support Bush (88 percent) compared to 62 percent of Democrats who say they would vote for Clinton. Almost a quarter (24 percent) of Democrats say they would vote for Bush while only seven percent of GOPers would vote for Clinton.

Read the whole thing here.
AND THE GOOD POINT of the day award goes to Secretary Rumsfeld comparing the search for WMDs in Iraq to the search for Saddam.
Rumsfeld notes that the U.S. military hasn't found Saddam either. one questions whether Saddam existed.
FOUND THIS AT the Instapundit site. A reader of his site sent this email:

"I am in Irbil in Kurdistan northern Iraq. Someone explained the history of this place to me today. The mountains here are bare and devoid of trees. They used be forested. Covered with trees. There used to be so many trees in Irbil that you couldn't see around corners. Now it looks like Kansas or really more like parts of Montana.

The reason is that Saddam cut down all of the trees in Kurdistan in 1988. He bulldozed 4000 of the 5000 villages in Kurdistan and the Kurds ran to the mountains for safety, so he cut down all of the trees on these mountains and killed all of the game, so that the Kurds would have no wood for fires and no food to eat. He was incredibly effective. The Kurds are now replanting the trees. You can see hundreds of tiny trees if you look closely at the mountains. I didn't notice them until they were pointed out to me. In Kirkuk they found a mass grave of Kurdish children. One of the U.N. guys offered to take us out and show it to us. I haven't taken him up on it. I have no reason to go there and I feel like it would be disrespectful to go and gawk. I guess some of the children were buried with their toys and dolls.

It makes me sick everytime I surf the net and see all these people in Europe and back home saying that the war was not justified because we haven't found 50 tons of sarin gas yet. I wish those people would come to this country and look at ruined villages between here and Kirkuk and the bare mountains. Anyone who protested against this war and defended Saddam ought to be ashamed of themselves. Its just unimaginable the things that went on here."
I've said it before...Saddam himself was a weapon of mass destruction.
OH OH - THIS WON'T sit well with the Iraqi men. But GIs will be GIs.
Affections were particularly warm outside the Baghdad Convention Center, where the cosmopolitan staff of the Iraqi Media Network, a television station, moved into new offices guarded by US soldiers, said Josh O'Connor, a freelance producer from North Carolina who now works for the Iraqi station.

''There were a couple [marriage] proposals here and there,'' said O'Connor, 29, who found himself acting as a conduit between his colleagues and soldiers. ''Usually it was the women proposing to the men. Not all of them were accepted.''

Read more about it here.
A WELL WRITTEN local story about one Marine returning home from Iraq can be found here.
"I wrote him every day," said Hauke, "but I had no way of knowing whether he was getting any of my letters...I became addicted to the news; I always had CNN on, and I was constantly searching all the news Web sites on my computer."

Yeah...I know how that feels.

UN NUCLEAR EXPERTS headed to Iraq to try to account for nuclear materials from a power plant. Fear is that the looted materials will sell on the black market as the basis for "dirty bombs".
Dr. Hamed Al-Bahili, an Iraqi nuclear scientist who helped design and open Tuwaitha in 1968, was one of the first on the scene after fleeing Iraqi troops abandoned the site.

Raising his hand 2 inches above the linoleum floor in his living room, Al-Bahili said: "The uranium was all over the floor - all over the ground outside. Piles of it. We poured cement over it inside the rooms because there was no other way to handle it."

Al-Bahili said he pleaded with impoverished villagers in the area not to touch the blue barrels the IAEA had used to store the uranium, "but there were thousands of people - they just kept coming," he said in an interview Thursday at his Baghdad home.

Read the rest here.
UNCERTAINTY OVER the fate of Chemical Ali, and ordinary Iraqi's believe Saddam escaped and is hiding. Given how afraid they are of these guys, you have to wonder what the full impact of this uncertainty is over the re-normalizing of life in Iraq. Consider what it must be like to think he might actually come back.
U.S. MILITARY officials told NBC News that they had changed the status of Ali Hassan al-Majid, the infamous “Chemical Ali,” suspected of ordering the 1988 gas attacks that killed thousands of Kurds in the northern Iraqi village of Halabja, from “believed dead but unconfirmed” to “unknown.” The officials said they made the move based on debriefing of Iraqi officials and relatives of al-Majid, No. 5 on the most-wanted list and the king of spades...

... Iraqis nearby doubted whether the soldiers would find the remains of Saddam, who they suspect was hiding at another house, just yards away.

“No, no - Saddam ran away. He’s hiding,” said Munther Meki, a grocer whose shop — its front window gone and shelves empty — is next to the destroyed house.

The whole thing is here.

A SUPERB PIECE in the Washington Post. This article is must reading. And then, again, ask yourself just which 2 divisions Secretary Rumsfeld thinks we can do without?
Asked if he had ever seen the Army so stretched, the official said: "Not in my 31 years" of military service.

The assessment by the official, who insisted on anonymity during a briefing of reporters from several major newspapers, provided a glimpse of one of the major sources of pressure on the Bush administration to hasten efforts to improve security in Iraq and recruit troops from other countries who can substitute for U.S. forces...

...The Army now has 128,000 troops in Iraq, along with 15,000 British troops and a U.S. Marine contingent that is drawing down to about 7,000. An additional 45,000 Army troops are in Kuwait providing support. The Army contribution adds up to the equivalent of just over five divisions out of a total active-duty strength of 10 divisions.

"This is a problem," the senior Pentagon official said, then quickly amended the comment, adding: "It is only a problem depending upon how quickly or how long it takes to get the coalition to come in to relieve this pressure."...

..."It's not just about fixing the equipment," he said. "It's about getting the soldiers back, getting them back to their schools, getting them back with their families and getting them refitted also."

While eager to reduce the U.S. troop level, Army officials expect that a substantial number of ground troops will be required in Iraq for some time.

They plan to manage this by rotating units in and out, as was done before the war, when much smaller numbers of Army troops were kept in Kuwait. But instead of limiting the rotations to six months, as was the case before, the rotation period is likely to be lengthened to nine months, the official said, starting with the troops currently there.
"It'll get us to a steady state over a three- or four-year period a lot quicker," the official said.

To relieve some of the pressure on the Army's active-duty force of 486,000, reservists have taken over responsibility for staffing operations in the Balkans, the Sinai Peninsula and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But Army Guard and Reserve units have also been badly strained by call-ups related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as homeland defense.

By the way...I calculated it...the 128,000 troops in Iraq and 45,000 in Kuwait is the equivalent of 36% of the entire Active Duty Army. Oh, and if the 9 month rotation holds up, CPT Patti will be home in January of 2004.


THIS APPEARS TO BE good news for these guys, based out of Fort Benning, Georgia.
Most 3rd Brigade soldiers have spent 12 of the past 15 months in Kuwait and Iraq. They are scheduled for a one-month rotation at the National Training Center in Southern California's Mojave Desert in November.

The division ordered Ward and his advance party to Camp New York on May 12 to prepare for the brigade's return home. The Pentagon put a halt to that movement following reports of continuing violence around Iraq.

The 3rd Brigade advance team said it received an ovation from activated National Guard troops as it entered the camp. The team's soldiers have spent part of the past three weeks collecting the brigade's vehicles that broke down en route to war.

Read the rest here.
IF YOU'VE EVER WONDERED what life is like from inside an M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank, check this out.
Life as a tanker is anything but easy, but soldiers who sign up for the gig wouldn’t have it any other way, some said.

It’s especially hard on the knees — three of four tank commanders of Platoon Blue Falcon have had knee surgery (the fourth being a mere 23 years old).

“Give me time,” Wilhite joked, who has not put his knees under the knife.

“You gotta be hungry for what you do,” Allsup said. “And we’re hungry.”

Riding, especially shotgun in the turret, beats being infantry, they joked.

“We don’t like to walk,” Wilhite, who hails from Milwaukee, said with a chuckle.

It’s hard on the mind, especially for the gunner who sits for hours in tank temperatures that often peak above 120 degrees, said Sgt. Lindell Montgomery, the gunner in Wilhite’s tank.

“Aw, shucks, you get used to it,” Montgomery said of the sweltering, cramped gun pit.
AND IT CONTINUES to get worse. I'm guessing these are 101st troops. But read the whole story here to learn about the assault on US Soldiers in Baghdad.
Unidentified assailants fired rocket-propelled grenades and small arms at a U.S. patrol near an air base west of Baghdad on Friday, military sources said.

The attackers fired on an M1A1 Abrams tank and a military police Humvee. The tank wasn't damaged, but the Humvee had numerous bullet holes in it, according to field reports. Soldiers returned fire, but there were no reports of casualties on either side.

The firefight in the town of Khaldiya, 45 miles west of Baghdad, is the latest in a series of hit-and-run attacks by gunmen on U.S. forces in central Iraq. Several dozen soldiers have been killed or injured.

FRIDAY, JUNE 6th, the 26th day of CPT Patti's deployment. She is in east-central Baghdad. I have not talked to her nor heard from her for nearly two weeks now. I'm beginning to pout...

Thursday, June 05, 2003

I HEARD TODAY from a friend who spends much time on Capitol Hill...we'll just call her Congressional Girl. She sent me the following rather-unvarnished peek into Congress' view on the Iraq occupation. Its a bit lengthy but read the entire thing...because the better news is sort of buried toward the end.
May 27, 2003 – 6:14 p.m.
House Members Predict Long Stay — for Lots of Troops — in Iraq
By Pat Towell, CQ Staff
Two weeks before Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K.Shinseki retires, his Feb. 25 prediction that it would take "several hundred thousand" U.S. troops to occupy Iraq was endorsed Tuesday by the House Armed Services Committee's senior Republican manpower specialist, just back from a visit to Baghdad.

And those troops are likely to be in Iraq for a long time, several members of the delegation said.

Shinseki's prediction, made during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, was repudiated immediately by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who insisted that the requirement would be much less than 200,000.

But after hearing a day of briefings on Monday by top U.S. civilian and military officials in Iraq, Armed Services Total Force Subcommittee Chairman John M. McHugh, R-N.Y., said the departing Army chief was vindicated: 'If anything, Gen. Shinseki was conservative," McHugh said to reporters at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington.

According to Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, the senior Democrat on McHugh's subcommittee, there are more than 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. "I can't see . . . that we can reduce that number very much," he said. Because troops in the country would have to be replaced periodically, the total number of U.S. troops involved would be very large, he said.

"The occupation is going to be very difficult, very costly and very long," Abercrombie said.

The eight-member House delegation spent about 14 hours on Monday in Baghdad and Kirkuk, visiting U.S. troops and interviewing top U.S. leaders.

"The impression we got is that this is going to be a long-term commitment," McHugh said. "What concerns me is that, for some artificial, emotional deadline, we leave before the job is done. . . . It's not going to happen in a handful of months. It may happen in a year or five years," he said.

Making Headway Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who led the bipartisan delegation, insisted members had seen real progress in restoring public services, with about 50 percent of the country's electrical grid back in service and about 40 percent of its drinking water supply restored. Hunter cited the group's drive through downtown Baghdad as further evidence that life in the city was becoming more normal: "It was rush hour; there were traffic jams. . . . There were people in the streets. There were food vendors out. Markets were open."

Hunter also insisted U.S. officials were making headway toward creation of representative political institutions that Iraq did not see during more than three decades of Baath Party rule. In 17 of Iraq's 26 cities with a population of more than 100,000, he said, interim governments had been set up under appointed representatives of different ethnic,
religious and political groups. "People who are talking to each other, not shooting each other," Hunter said.

Hunter and Ed Royce, R-Calif., emphasized that Iraq's oil exports would cover some of the costs of reconstruction. But Hunter, too, said the United States had to be ready to see through the postwar reconstruction of Iraq. "As rapid as this military victory was," he said, "the watchword for reconstruction is patience."

YOU DON'T HAVE TO go out of your way to find suggestions that the administration (and Prime Minister Tony Blair) trumped up the charges of WMD to justify a war with Iraq.

Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online deftly lays out the illogic of such a suggestion.
But it is far from demonstrated that Bush, in fact, lied to the American people.

To believe that Bush lied, you have to not only believe that the intelligence communities of the United States and Great Britain were wrong, but the intelligence communities of Germany, France, Israel and Russia were wrong too. That's doable.

But, on top of that, you must also believe that Bush knew these intelligence communities were wrong and lied about it. And, you must also believe that Saddam Hussein secretly destroyed his WMD but refused to admit it despite the credible threat of war and the continuation of sanctions.
I BELIEVE THIS proposal has not received much press. Needless to say, I agree 100% with the Army wives quoted in this story.
A group of Army wives took some serious jabs Monday at the Bush administration’s notions for restructuring U.S. military bases in Europe.
These weren’t just any wives. Those speaking out included Holly Petraeus, wife of the 101st Airborne Division’s commander Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, and the wives of several field-grade officers.

They testified at Fort Campbell, Ky., at a field hearing of the Senate Committee on Children and Families to talk about problems military families face during deployments.

A proposed shift of bases from locations in Germany, where families accompany service members, to new sites in Eastern Europe where families wouldn’t come along, popped up in the hearing when the women spoke about the family stress sparked by the ever-increasing pace of deployments.

Petraeus said the top concern in the minds of many at Fort Campbell is that a downsized military is being called on for too many deployments.

Moving to unaccompanied unit rotations in Germany instead of accompanied tours “will be perceived as just one more deployment added to the load that they already bear,” she said.

Echoing that sentiment was Joyce Dolinish, a retired Army major married to a 101st Airborne Division officer, who said the rotational unit plan being discussed in Washington, D.C., is “ a friendly euphemism for another deployment.”
WE CALL IT Civil Military Operations...but what is it? You can read about it here (when you get to the link, scroll down until you see the June 4th entry) It is an extensive might be surprised.
Removed 22 truckloads (about 440 tons) of trash from around local soccer fields and schools.
-- Provided dental care to 39 civilians.
-- Assessed and provided support to local medical facilities.
-- Verified the clearance of unexploded ordnance at several sites, located three sites for further excavation and removal.
-- Provided security and helped local police stop a bank robbery nearby.
MORE ON MY SUSPICIONS that it gets worse can be found here.
Riad, a lawyer who declined to provide his last name, said that the killings of residents have prompted relatives to plan revenge attacks against American soldiers. "This is our culture. Clans are strong here and it is the duty to avenge a wrongful death," he said. "People do not forget."

A group of teenagers shuffling their feet in the hot sun near a kebab restaurant added a touch of bravado to Riad's explanation. "Of all of Iraq, only Fallujah is resisting the Americans. The Americans have these big tanks. We show everybody that they are just toys," one said, declining to provide his name.

Riad added, "I'm afraid taking shots at Americans will become a sport for these types."
AMONG THE NUMEROUS duties the GIs probably never expected...walking Iraqi girls to school.
“We heard girls were getting kidnapped, so we come down to protect them,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Crosby.

The 3rd Infantry Division, which fought its way to Baghdad, now patrols the streets of the Iraqi capital like police. The soldiers’ presence at the school is more of a friendly courtesy rather than a response to actual kidnappings, said Capt. Mark Madden.

“They often exaggerate the truth to get us to respond,” Madden said. “We don’t know if it’s true. We don’t have any confirmed cases.”

The whole story is here.
THIS IS A GREAT story about one Iraqi who has lived in Iraq and the US. Guess which he prefers...
In early April, when Anas Al-Dulaimi waded through crowds outside the Palestine Hotel, he bumped into Spc. Charles Gilbreath standing guard.

The 28-year-old Al-Dulaimi, who spent his childhood in Knoxville, Tenn., was glad to see U.S. soldiers, whom he calls “fellow Americans.”

“I knew if I got into the right hands, they would do me no harm,” Al-Dulaimi said. “My heart beats American.”

See the rest here.
THIS IS A BIT hard to believe...but I've included it because if true, it appears to be colossal blunder.
More than a decade of suspicions about Iraq’s missile industry and its capabilities for delivering weapons of mass destruction could be investigated quickly now that American forces control the country.

But no U.S. weapons hunters or intelligence officials have visited the heart of Iraq’s missile programs – the state-owned al-Fatah company in Baghdad, which designed all the rockets Saddam Hussein’s troops fired in 1991 and again this year. Not only that, it’s not even on their agenda.

“We have the most sensitive documents here,” said Marouf al-Chalabi, director-general of al-Fatah. “We were sure the Americans would target us but they haven’t even dropped by.”

The rest is here.
THERE IS MUCH TO agree with in this stinging opinion piece found here. Consider if you will:

The Army is still in Bosnia. The Army is still in Afghanistan. By all appearances we will be in Iraq a good long while.

Currently in Iraq are most or all of the 1st Armored Division, the 3d Infantry Division, the 4th Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne Division. Four of the ten divisions in our Army. And Rumsfeld wants to cut two divisions? Seems ludicrous to me.
If the Army isn't broken, then why is Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld so hell-bent on fixing it?

From his first day in office Rumsfeld has fixed his sights on the Army - questioning its leadership, strategy and tactics, and its weaponry. He and his principal lieutenants, Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Deputy Secretary Douglas Feith, seemingly found nothing right about America's senior service...

...Oh yes. For the last two years the Pentagon civilians have been trying to whack two full divisions and a corps out of an already painfully thin 10-division Army stretched to the max doing America's business and keeping the peace in nasty places around the globe...

...Even as this is written a third Army division, the 1st Armored, is pouring into Iraq to join the 3rd and 4th Divisions to try to restore law and order. Among those three divisions, which two will Rumsfeld choose to kill and will he wait until they have finished the job in Iraq?
MY SUSPICION IS that the longer we are there, the more common this will become. One killed, five wounded in the 101st Airborne Division. The rest is here.
FALLUJAH, Iraq - An American soldier was killed and five were wounded early Thursday when they were hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, the U.S. military said.

The attack came a day after more than 1,500 soldiers from the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division moved into Fallujah and surrounding areas to quell increasing attacks on American occupying forces in that region.

The Army soldiers who came under attack were assigned to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, the military said in a statement. That regiment has been based in the area for weeks.
TREAT YOURSELF by taking a moment to read the three stories found here. You will be glad you did.
Medics throughout the city are spending a lot of time treating soldiers who bake all day in the 100-degree-plus weather.

One 1st AD soldier said his friend stuck a small thermometer between his bulletproof vest and his skin. He let it cook for a minute.

“It was 130 degrees under the plates,” Staff Sgt. Donte Hubbard said.

THURSDAY JUNE 5th, the 25th day of CPT Patti's deployment. She is in east-central Baghdad.

The wife of the company operations NCO spoke with her husband yesterday. He says the company is expecting to have e-mail capability either today or tomorrow. Let's hope it is true!

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

I TEND TO AGREE with the thrust of this article, although probably for different reasons than the author. If women maintain rights and freedoms in Iraq then we have ensured Iraq doesn't become another Islamic theocracy a la Afghanistan.
Women in Iraq have no voice.

And the American government, to its shame, is not ensuring that they have a voice, and making them and their concerns visible.

It is absolutely critical that Iraqi women be part of shaping the future of Iraq. Toward that end, the American government should ensure that women are part of those meeting to mold the future and the present of Iraq.

Women should have, at the very least, the rights that they had under Saddam Hussein. Dictator though he was, he allowed women to vote and be active in professions such as medicine and law. Now, there is a justified fear among Iraqi women that they will have fewer rights, not more, under a new regime.
BUT SOMETIMES TIMING is guess is these guys from the 3d ID were too far along in the redeployment process to be halted. They say its better to be lucky than good.
More than 400 soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division came marching home Tuesday night, over a parade ground sodden with rain and heavy with anticipation and into the yearning arms of family and friends.

The battle-toughened men and women returned to this Army base in the piney wilderness after a year in the Middle East, fighting Iraqi soldiers, boredom and the uncertainty of when, finally, they could come home...

...One family's joy, though, was tempered by the frustration and longing endured by the families of the roughly 16,000 3rd Infantry soldiers who remain in Iraq. The mechanized 3rd was initially expected home in late May or early June.

But military leaders decided the war-experienced 3rd was needed to maintain order in the newly liberated nation.

Those families must wait another two months, at least, until their loved ones return home.

Susan Conroy, whose husband, Jason, commands a company of soldiers
WE'VE BEEN FOLLOWING the plight of the 3d ID for some weeks now. So this comes as no surprise...
As the uproar over the 3rd Infantry Division's continued mission in Iraq continues, senior officers spent Thursday explaining the latest developments and addressing concerns about soldiers' welfare.

Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, the division commander, held a video teleconference with local media while Col. Jack Sterling, the chief of staff who just returned from Iraq, met with family members at Fort Stewart.

Mostly, family members feel betrayed because plans were in the works to bring troops home. Meetings had been held and parties planned. Then, the Department of Defense decided Iraq was too unstable and the division needed to stay.

Now, one brigade is driving toward a hot spot north of Baghdad while two other brigades continue security patrols in the city.
PERHAPS THIS IS un-Christian of me...but I hope they find him.
A team of U.S. military engineers began an intensive effort on Tuesday to excavate the site of a bombing on April 7 that military officials still believe may have killed Saddam Hussein.

The operation, involving a backhoe, two bulldozers, two cranes and 17 dump trucks, appeared to be by far the largest American effort to prove that Saddam may have been killed. Seven weeks after U.S. forces gained control of Baghdad, Saddam and his closest relatives remain missing.

Read it here..
NOTHING AT ALL to do with our usual subjects, but the connection is this is our current home town, thanks to the US Army. I think it is amusing that the police might cite this guy for failure to wear a helmet.
GIESSEN, Germany -- A naked motorcyclist wearing just a scarf, sunglasses and a pair of sandals crashed his bike after he was stung on the inner thigh by a bee.

The 36-year-old, who had been driving to the swimming area at a German nudist colony, lost control of the bike as he swatted the insect away.

He fell on to the road, but escaped with just a shoulder injury and minor cuts and bruises.

Police said they are considering pressing charges after the incident at Giessen in Hessen -- as the man was not wearing a crash helmet.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 4th, the 24th day of CPT Patti's deployment. She is in east-central Baghdad.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

PROGRESS AFTER a fashion I suppose. A newly refurbished prison opened in Iraq.
Though the prison is more livable than Saddam's squalid dungeons and torture chambers, inmates will sleep on plywood mattresses cushioned only by a blanket and eat food that is nutritious but far from scrumptious.

There won't be air conditioning, though there will be the fans denied prewar inmates, along with proper toilets instead of buckets or holes in the ground.

"They're going to be fed and looked after, but it's not going to be too nice," said Maj. Simon Wilson, a military police commander. "They're not going to want to come back."

Read about it here./FONT>
SOME DETAILS about what it is like for the soldiers manning the checkpoints in Baghdad can be found here. Seems that every cotton-pickin' Iraqi has a gun. I don't see that as a good thing.
"We can't check every car, so we try to do three at a time," said 1st Sgt. Anthony Petrone of Harrisburg, Pa. On the first day of the bridge checkpoint, the soldiers got three AK 47s and 18 handguns.

Scores of people crossed the bridge on foot instead because driving in Baghdad, which has a car culture much like Los Angeles, has become a major hassle. /FONT>
A BACKGROUND article here on the commander of the 1st Armored Division who is about to receive his 3d star and take over as commander of V Corps. It may not actually be true that in America anyone can grow up to be president...but it is true that anyone has the opportunity to make much of himself in the Army.
"We lived on welfare, in a single-parent home" in Rio Grande City, he recalled in a recent interview in his temporary office here in an old airport warehouse. Sanchez, 52, did not come from a military family, but said he decided in eighth grade that he would become a soldier. "I saw that as a means of escaping poverty."
AND THEN THERE is this article which reminds us it would be a good thing to take the weapons from the Iraqis to avoid another Mogadishu.
Baghdad also has other dangers. Every building in the city is the color of sand, including water towers that can become dangerous obstacles, especially at night.

Haphazard power lines criss-cross neighborhoods, making landing zones tough to find. Night flying presents its own hazards, including an increased risk of ground fire.

Miller said crews already have seen tracers from ground fire during night patrols.

“I cannot tell you how difficult it is to fly in this environment,” Lawrence said.
YOU READ IT here earlier that the US told the Iraqis to turn in their weapons. But this article explains why that step toward making everyone safer is fraught with its own danger to our soldiers.
The next two weeks could prove perilous for U.S. troops as the military collects high-caliber weapons and munitions from Iraqis.

The danger is not in the actual collection, but having troops discern between those turning in weapons and those who might try to take advantage of the program by carrying arms in the open with the intent to harm U.S. servicemembers, said Army Sgt. Nathan Chism.
AMERICAN GIs are nothing if not creative. Read this article about how they use cardboard boxes to create privacy and luxury in their adopted quarters in Iraq.
In northeast Baghdad, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment troops living in an Iraqi cigarette factory are using cardboard packing boxes to build some privacy.

Spc. Peter Muller, for example, has a 7-foot high cardboard wall around his cot, and he’s added a walk-in closet. A “Vietnam style” tunnel leads to his space.

“If I ever go homeless, I’ll know how to do it in style,” said Muller, 23, of Hudson City, N.J.
MAY HAVE FEWER posts than normal today...I've had limited access to the internet. Should be back to normal soon though.
TUESDAY JUNE 3d, the 23d day of CPT Patti's deployment. She is in East-Central Baghdad.

Monday, June 02, 2003

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Thousands of sacked Iraqi soldiers threatened Monday to launch suicide attacks against U.S. troops as leaders of the country's squabbling tribes told the Americans they could face war if they did not leave soon.

As tribal leaders were meeting Ambassador Hume Horan of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), more than 3,000 sacked soldiers marched on the U.S-led administration's headquarters vowing violence unless they were paid wages and compensation.

"All of us will become suicide bombers," said Khairi Jassim, a former warrant officer. "I will turn my six daughters into bombs to kill the Americans."

Read it all.
HERE IS A LATE ENTRY on the arrival of the 1st Brigade in Baghdad.
The Friedberg, Germany-based battalion staged its tanks at Saddam Hussein’s ceremonial parade ground in the city’s West End. Where the former Iraqi leader once reviewed his military, passing under a large arch made of crossed swords, American troops were shaving and brushing their teeth after 20-hour convoys.

While waiting for orders to take up positions east of the Tigris River, the 1st Brigade soldiers explored abandon buildings. Although troops have been warned against taking war trophies, the soldiers were on the hunt for souvenirs.

Read the rest here.

UPDATE ON THE EARLIER post about the possibility of cell phones coming to Baghdad. Says this article:
Already, the U.S. military has contracted MCI-WorldCom to set up a limited cell phone service in Baghdad. Access will be restricted to 5,000 U.S. officials, leading Iraqi politicians and humanitarian organizations.

Me, I'm bettin' CPT Patti isn't among the 5000.

THIS STORY comes from the Islamic Republic of Iran Brodcasting (IRIB) website. I didn't correct the grammatical errors. Iran publishing in English? Draw your own conclusion.
Baghdad, June 2 - Tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers in a massive demonstration in Baghdad streets on Monday, protest the dissolution of Iraq's army, and called on the occupiers to quit the country.

The demonstrators chanting slogans such as "Occupier go out, this is the last warn", condemned U.S. for dissolution of Iraq's army.

They threatened that: "Unless the Iraqi soldiers come back to teir posts, some retaliatory measures would be taken against the U.S."

After walking a long distance, protestors gathered in front of the residential place of Paul Bremer in Baghdad, and announced that it was their last peaceful practice.

The protest was the largest anti-US demonstration in Iraq since the occupation of the country.
A NEW ROLE FOR the Army in the future? This article believes so.
So once again, the practical experience of the veterans wins out over the press-release optimism of the civilians. And the wisdom of Korean War veteran-turned-military historian T.R. Fehrenbach is vindicated.

In his 1994 book, “This Kind of War,” Fehrenbach wrote, “You may fly over a land forever, you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it.” But, he continued, “if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud.”...

...Ted Cormaney, former congressional staffer and continuing close student of the military, espies a new division of labor between the military branches. Noting that the Marines and Special Forces have already cleared out of Iraq, he sees those elite forces as taking the lead in future ground-fighting, while the Army will increasingly be charged with ground-based peacekeeping.
I SUPPOSE THIS is a kind of personal freedom. The article doesn't mention what those clerics think of this.
Baghdad, Iraq-AP -- Baghdad's racecourse has opened for the first time since the war began over two months ago.

Hundreds of people flocked to the races, generating brisk business for bookmakers, and providing a welcome diversion from daily life in the city.

Iraqis are passionate about horseracing -- it's thought the Arabian thoroughbred may have originated in Iraq itself.
ANOTHER ATTACK on US Forces in Baghdad. Which unit is not mentioned, but based on the neighborhood, it might be 1AD troops. The entire article is here.
Witnesses say it seemed to have been a coordinated attack where a grenade was thrown at an armored vehicle while gunmen opened fired from the rooftops of buildings opposite the Abu Hanifa mosque.
ARE PERSONAL FREEDOM and Islam mutually exclusive concepts? It saddens me that one result of the demise of the dictator is a movement to further erode personal liberties. The article is here.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The list of recommendations for students attending al-Nidaa Intermediate School for Girls is difficult to miss. It's plastered on the gate.

Observe Islam's strict dress code, it says, and call on others to follow suit. Don't watch movies and TV soap operas. Make sure you pray and read the Quran every day.

Emboldened by Saddam Hussein's ouster last month, Muslim militants are wasting no time in exploiting the political void in U.S.-occupied Iraq to impose some of Islam's stricter tenets on this predominantly Muslim - but relatively liberal - nation of 24 million people.

The campaign is led by Shiite Muslim clerics who, since Saddam's fall, call the shots in most Baghdad neighborhoods and in Shiite-dominated cities across the country. While distancing themselves from violence, the clerics acknowledge that creating a purist Islamic state is their ultimate goal.
A REFRESHING outlook by Washington Times reporter Jack Kelly about the quality of the men and women of the Armed Forces.
What I saw of women soldiers — who were mostly in these reserve units — made me less wary of the concept than I had been. They performed their jobs well, and cheerfully tolerated living conditions I couldn't imagine my wife or daughter putting up with.

Race relations in the Army in the 1970s were tense. No more. It would be difficult to find more interracial harmony anywhere in the civilian world than there is in the military units with which I spent time in Iraq.

Read it all here.

THIS EXCELLENT in depth article in the Washington Post uses two reporters to measure the differences between how the US Soldiers believe they are perceived...and what the Iraqis actually say about them. And it doesn't bode well. By the way, the neighborhood mentioned in the article is in the 2d Brigade, 1st Armored Division sector.
At about 10:20 a.m., it was 98 degrees when the patrol moved out through the concertina wire that protects their outpost and past two Bradley Fighting Vehicles parked out front.

The patrol was configured so that one "fire team" of four soldiers was in front, and another in the back. In the middle, leading the patrol, was Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Haumschild, 26, of Stillwater, Minn., accompanied by the medic.

Just to their left was a mosque known for anti-American sermons. Capt. Gerd Schroeder, commander of Bravo Company, said that when he sent an interpreter to listen to last Friday's sermon, the theme of the day was, "if you're not killing the Americans and the Jew pigs, you're not a true Muslim."

There's more. Read it here.

1ST ARMORED DIVISION takes fire. I believe this is the first time since setting up shop in Baghdad. Read about it here.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Gunmen firing rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles attacked an American military convoy late Sunday in the neighborhood where Saddam Hussein made his last public appearance on April 9, the day the capital fell to allied forces.

At least one American soldier was wounded and one Iraqi civilian was killed in the firefight that erupted on the busy square in front of the Abu Hanifa Mosque, according to an Iraqi hospital official who treated the wounded.
LEARNED THIS MORNING that CPT Patti and the rest of the Gators are staying in what once was the Baghdad Police Academy. Want to see where that is? OK - follow the link to the Interactive Map of Baghdad in the links section. (Timesaving hint: When the map has fully loaded you can save it to your system so you don't have to download it each time you want to look at it.)

Find the center of the map, then move due east (to the right) a little bit less than half way to the right edge of the map. Look for a block of green. When you find the green area click on the magnifying glass tool then click the magnifier on that green block. You may need to click five or six times before you can read the text on the map.

In the green blocks you should see the words Raiahin, Shaab Stadium and Saddam Hussein Hall. Just north (above) that you will see "Police College" in the yellow area.

CPT Patti and crew are living at the Police College, and are setting up their logistics base in the vicinity of the stadium.

Also confirmed with the Rear Detachment guys that our suspicions about the cell phones were correct - the Iraqi system is not compatible with western phones. So, no phone calls from our girl for a while...but rumor says new cell phone service to Baghdad will be established in June. Don't know if that is accurate or just wishful thinking. But we also here that e-mail may be established PDQ.

Hope so.
MONDAY, JUNE 2d. The 22d day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

IRAQ'S CURIOUS CALCULUS of normal. Read the whole thing...its really well done.
Iraqi soldiers were being called to arms again in what eventually became a devastating rout, and those who dared talk to an American reporter would shrug off the looming conflict. The United Nations had launched economic sanctions against the country in what would become a decadelong period of international isolation, and Iraqis responded with government-choreographed protests. The Iraqi government imposed food-rationing again, but no one complained.

Asked to explain the predicament, Iraqis would opaquely reply, ``Everything is normal.''

So normal, in fact, that more than a dozen years after the defeat of Iraq, it took the will of another President Bush, billions of dollars and thousands of cruise missiles to uncork today's freedom -- collapsing Baghdad into nightly shooting sprees while Washington struggles to carve out some semblance of civility.

BROTHERS GO INTO hiding at ages 16 and 22 never to set foot outside for 23 years.
Two Iraqi brothers made their home a prison for 23 years to escape execution by Saddam Hussein's security forces, seeing daylight only after his fall.

She endured repeated interrogation and constant surveillance by security men looking for the two boys. Her husband, pregnant daughter and another son had already been executed as suspected members of the Shi'ite Muslim Daawa Party.

"For 23 years I lived in fear and anxiety. My tears never dried until Saddam was toppled," Zahra, 67, told Reuters at her humble home in a crowded quarter of Baghdad.

Zahra hid her sons in a room inside the house, keeping the secret even from her closest relatives. She managed to convince the security forces they were in Iraqi jails.

The rest is here.
SELLING DEMOCRACY to the Iraqis. Seems to me it will take some doings before these folks put collective good ahead of clan concerns. Maybe someone might point out that the latter is in large part responsible for the fact that they sit on the worlds greatest source of wealth, they manufacture and export virtually nothing but oil, the common arab family is among the poorest in the world and to many of them their heroes are maniacs who blow themselves up out of a blinding sense of hatred. Read the rest here.
Jeff Cantor has spent his adult life selling things — first fax machines, then pharmaceuticals. Now, in postwar Iraq, U.S Army Reserve Maj. Jeff Cantor is trying to sell something else: democracy.

It’s a different challenge entirely, and Cantor is going on instinct.

“It comes down to sales. You have to sell solutions to problems,” said Cantor, the U.S. official who helped design — and has overseen — the city council in Kirkuk, an ethnically divided oil town in northern Iraq. “The key is to get the people to buy into it.”

DID YOU THINK I was making this stuff up? Here is an AP story about what soldiers need to stay comfortable in Baghdad.
What do U.S. soldiers use to cope with the grit and heat of Iraq? Why, cottony women’s underthings, diaper ointments, pantyhose, and moist wipes with the aroma of baby powder.

Drugstore products usually reserved for women and babies are all the rage among U.S. troops in Iraq.

“In the middle of the desert, somebody would’ve traded you his sister for a pack of baby wipes,” said U.S. Army Military Police Sgt. James Karm, 29, who patrols west Baghdad in a Humvee. “You could’ve got anything you wanted.”

And baby wipes, according to Spc. Rebecca Burt, “are the only thing that takes camouflage makeup off.”

There is more - you will want to read the whole thing here.

HEY GUYS WHICH part of "The Ba'ath party is outlawed" did you fail to grasp?
American forces arrested 15 members of Saddam Hussein's banned Baath Party as they met Saturday, an American official advising Iraq's Interior Ministry said.

The members of the group were arrested at the country's main police college, where they had been holding weekly meetings, Bernard Kerik, former New York City police chief, told reporters.

Kerik said a crowd of police officers standing outside the academy broke into applause as the party members were taken out in handcuffs.

"Evidently they knew this was going on," Kerik said of the police officers. "I believe they were afraid to come forward."

The 15 people arrested included the dean of the college, five brigadier generals and one major general. Fourteen were arrested for engaging in an illegal activity, and one for resisting arrest. Kerik said no shots were fired during the arrests.

Read it here.
THIS WASHINGTON POST editorial on the state of progress in post-war Iraq has some positive, and some negative points to make. Good reading.
Some of the violence recently directed at U.S. forces may have come from military or party officials stripped of their posts and pensions, while various would-be Iraqi leaders are angrily protesting the political slowdown.

But the overall mood may have been captured by a survey recently conducted by one of Baghdad's new newspapers: Eighty-five percent of respondents said coalition forces had done a bad job maintaining order after the war; 65 percent said they should not yet leave Iraq.
TALES OF PATROLLING the streets by the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment. From pieces of information I'm cobbling together it appears the 2d ACR has the sector north and east of the 1st Brigade, 1AD sector (across the canal) in what used to be known as Saddam City.
After 11 p.m. — curfew hour — the patrol began again. As three Humvees crawled along a darkened street, an orange-and-yellow Volkswagen Passat screeched over a median in front of Schumacher’s Humvee, nearly colliding with it.

The driver, in the traditional white robe many Muslims wear, apparently was drunk. He fell to the ground as soon as soldiers opened his car door. They handcuffed him and put him into a small room in the bunker they call “the drunk tank.” A soldier drove the Passat back to the bunker.

“He’ll be out at 0500,” Schumacher said. “We’ll let him walk home.”

Read the rest here.
ONE LAST GOODBYE for two military policemen of the 1st Armored Division killed last week in a traffic accident. That story is here.
SUNDAY JUNE 1st, the 21st Day of CPT Patti's deployment. She is somewhere in Baghdad, east of the Tigris river, and apparently in one of the few places on earth where her cell phone doesn't work. Tactical situation update: 1st Armored Division is in the process of taking over military control of Baghdad as it conducts a Relief in Place with the 3d Infantry Division. By later this week that handover will be accomplished and the 3d ID guys will move to other troubled areas outside the city, although some elements may be held in reserve in Baghdad just in case.