Saturday, June 28, 2003

The (Japanese) government is considering assigning Self-Defense Forces personnel the task of cleaning and supplying water in and around Baghdad under a bill the Diet is currently debating, government sources said Saturday.

The SDF's main mission in war-torn Iraq would also include transporting personnel and goods, according to the sources...

Initially, the government considered dispatching SDF members to Karbala and other locations in south central Iraq, where Polish forces are operating, or to the southern part of the country, including Basra, for transportation and supply missions. These areas were believed to be less dangerous.

However, the government was later informed of the greater need for operations to clean and supply water for Iraqis and U.S. forces in and around Baghdad Airport--an area that is becoming increasingly safe.

In addition, the government learned that the SDF was not required in Basra or other southern Iraqi areas, as armed forces from other countries are already extending logistic support in such regions.

Bring em on. We'll be glad for the company.

Read it here.
A senior Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim cleric has issued a decree, or fatwa, ordering the killing of any Jew who buys real estate in Iraq, an aide has said.

And the really sad part is that this doesn't strike any of them as odd.

Read the whole bigoted, paranoid, hate-filled thing here.

US says Baghdad Bob was lying about being questioned by US Forces.
A spokesman for US forces in Baghdad has denied claims from the former Iraqi Information Minister, known as Comical Ali, that he was questioned by the Americans.

Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf, famed for his deadpan insistence that Iraqi forces were crushing the invading Americans, has resurfaced for the first time since the collapse of the regime in April.

In brief interviews on Al-Arabiya and Abu Dhabi TV on Thursday, he said that he had surrendered himself to US forces, who had released him after questioning.

"Through some friends, I went to the Americans, to the people in charge, and an interview took place about a number of issues relating to my work," he said.

"After the interview, I was released."

But a spokesman for US forces in Iraq said they had never questioned Mr Sahhaf, let alone had him to release.

US Central Command was also unable to confirm his claims, telling BBC News Online: "He is an interesting story teller and we look forward to hearing what he has got to say."

But here is the bit that strikes me as interesting.

Looking thinner and greyer than three months ago during his daily press briefings, he declined to tell the Arab TV stations about the final days before Baghdad fell.

"The time is not yet ripe to say what happened. When history's ready, then we can talk about it," he said.

The time isn't ripe yet eh? Is that because you believe Saddam is still listening?

Read it here.

This from the same people who brought us unbridled looting and shooting.
Leading Iraqis have denounced proposals to deploy Indian peace keepers in their country, saying Iraqis alone should be responsible for their security.

The Iraqi reactions follow continuing political and military tensions within the country, which has been occupied by US and British troops and a small Polish contingent since the end of April...

Back in New Delhi the Pentagon proposal has been rejected by opposition politicians, notably Congress foreign affairs expert K Natwar Singh, who believes that sending Indian troops to Iraq without a UN mandate would be a mistake.

Iraqis who agree with him include Dr Hamid Bayati of the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. "I don't know why they should ask India," Bayati told "It surprises me. Perhaps the Americans think it will relieve the pressure on them, but the pressure will then be applied to the Indians.

"I don't know what the Americans are up to, but they are acting as occupying forces. It's not going to be acceptable to Iraq or any other country in the region. If the Indians went in under a UN flag that would be very reasonable, otherwise they would be very vulnerable."

Bayati, who is currently touring Europe, said only the Iraqis themselves know how to tackle their security needs.

He cites the example of Kurdistan, Northern Iraq, where the two main Kurdish political parties have successfully maintained stability and prosperity since 1991.

If the Kurdish model of government was applied across the rest of the country, stability would follow, he argued.

"Only the Iraqi's themselves know how to tackle their security needs"?

Nice sentiment. Then presumably the Iraqis themselves would know how to tackle their stay-free-of-radiation-needs by not stealing storage barrels from a nuclear site. Or tackle their electrical needs by not sabotaging their electrical grid. Ditto their oil and gas pipelines.


And let's not be too quick to hold up the Kurds as the shining star example. First of all, they are Kurds. They have never been in dominance in this cobbled together country. But they have been bound together by two things.

1. They are Kurds, not Shia or Sunni. As in the lesser of my two enemies is my friend.

2. Their very existence was threatened by Saddam Hussein until the US stepped in wth the northen no fly zone. When one's survival is in question it is easy to suspend the (relatively) petty political differences.

Yeah, I'm being selfish here...bring in the Indians. Bring in all who will come.

Perhaps CPT Patti comes home sooner as a result.

Read it all here.

I wanted to get this on the record as my gut tells me this might just cost Rummy a "good point of the day" award sometime in the future.
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the almost daily attacks on U.S.-led forces in Iraq do not constitute a guerrilla war.

Mr. Rumsfeld instead blamed the deadly attacks on remnants and sympathizers of the ousted Saddam Hussein regime. He also said common criminals are behind some attacks, noting that Saddam Hussein freed almost 100,000 prisoners before the U.S.-led invasion.

Mr. Rumsfeld spoke Friday after three attacks claimed the lives of three U.S. soldiers in 24 hours.

That story is here.

For me this is simply further proof that Saddam Hussein didn't give a damn about the Iraqi people and their well being..
Saddam Hussein's intelligence agency devised a plan to challenge the allied occupation of Iraq: sabotage its own country.

The targets have included oil pipelines, the Baghdad electrical system, a liquid natural-gas plant and other key installations. With each attack, life for Iraq's roughly 24 million people has become more onerous and the mission of allied forces more complex...

Allied officials say they recently obtained a document prepared by the Iraqi Intelligence Service calling for a sabotage campaign in case of Saddam's ouster. Marked "secret" and dated Jan. 23, the document was found in the southern Iraqi city of Basra but is marked for distribution to intelligence officers throughout the country.

The "emergency plan" in the document outlines 11 steps, including looting and burning government offices, sabotaging power plants, cutting communication lines and attacking water purification plants, a familiar list to anybody who has followed events in Iraq over the past two months.

The measures are described in the plan as "steps necessary after the fall of the Iraqi leadership by the American-British-Zionist allies, God forbid."

Read the rest here.


This soldier is in the 2d Brigade area, west of the Tigris river.
Our patrols are limited due to the intense heat, which has been around 120 degrees in the day, plus we are wearing body armor, Kevlar helmets, lots of ammo and our assigned weapons.

Foot patrols are done on a voluntary basis usually on our days off, which is usually every third day but of course mission dictates. The soldiers and I who perform the patrols really enjoy them because we feel we are doing something for the people of Iraqi.

We often stop for breaks at homes and enjoy a cup of Iraqi tea called "chi," provided by the adults of course.

Most people appreciate us being out there. I'm sure it gives them a sense of security. Our primary responsibility is the security of the Media Center, which currently houses the Iraqi interim government along with Iraqi media and television employees.

Read the whole thing here.
Meanwhile, U.S. troops detained six Iraqis in connection with the intense search for two soldiers missing since Wednesday from their post about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Baghdad, a spokesman with the Coalition Public Information Center said.

CNN Baghdad Bureau Chief Jane Arraf said the U.S. military has deployed a formidable array of equipment, scouring the countryside and Baghdad with helicopters, armored vehicles and tanks.

The soldiers -- Sgt. 1st Class Gladimir Philippe, 37, of Linden, New Jersey, and Pfc. Kevin Ott, 27, of Columbus, Ohio -- were last reported traveling in a Humvee near a checkpoint when military officials lost contact with them.

The story is here. And while it doesn't identify their unit, this story says:

But soldiers from the 1st Armored Division's 2nd Brigade stationed in Baghdad said they heard in a nightly report Wednesday that the missing soldiers were from their division's 3rd Brigade.

If that is the case, these soldiers probably are based out of Fort Riley, Kansas.

Two missing U.S. soldiers were found dead Saturday 25 miles north of Baghdad (search), Centcom has confirmed.

Please say a prayer for their families.

But its effects also accrue to the US. And the face of the US to the average Iraqi is a US soldier.

The sabotage is designed to discredit the US - and if it succeeds, the soldiers will be the ones to face the anger of the Iraqi people.

Iraq’s electricity crisis won’t be getting better any time soon, the top U.S. civil administrator said Wednesday.

Millions of Iraqis across the country have experienced long periods without power since the United States and Britain started the campaign to overthrow the Saddam Hussein-led government.

In the last week, Baghdad residents have been frequently left with only a few hours of power each day — especially painful during the middle of summer, when temperatures are constantly topping 110 degrees.

Saboteurs and the former regime are to blame for Iraq’s electrical woes, said Paul Bremer, who heads the Coalition Provisional Authority. Bremer told a group of Iraqi journalists that he knows the situation is a serious one.

“I can understand the people’s impatience,” he said. “Ask my staff, they would tell you I’m rather impatient myself.”

Read it here.

Signs of progress and reminders of what impedes progress.
The 2nd ACR opened two police stations in al-Thwara, run by military police until local Iraqi police can be equipped and trained to take over.

And for the very first time, Madiha Lazim said she feels safe enough to walk after dark, but only when accompanied by other women.

“Yes, I feel safe,” she began to say. But the conversation abruptly ended when a cleric, who would only identify himself as “Islam,” yelled at the congregating women, telling them they had no business being outside, and especially should not speak to a reporter.

At his insistence, they scurried away.

Its a good story. Read it here.
Attackers killed a U.S. soldier in a convoy moving through the capital and a gunman shot an American soldier in the neck as he browsed a Baghdad market Friday, part of a vicious cycle of Iraqi attacks and ever-tougher U.S. crackdowns on resistance.

American forces, meanwhile, accidentally killed an 11-year-old boy in Baghdad.

The past two days have seen a torrent of guerrilla-style ambushes that have killed at least three U.S. soldiers, with a fourth dying in a non-combat accident. Two U.S. soldiers remained missing Friday night, three days after their apparent abduction from a guard post north of the capital.

Late Friday, attackers fired on a U.S. convoy in the Thawra neighborhood of northeast Baghdad, killing an American soldier and wounding four others, said military spokesman Sgt. Patrick Compton. An Iraqi civilian interpreter was also wounded.

Saboteurs also have been attacking Baghdad's power grid and oil pipelines, foiling coalition efforts to restore services to the Iraqi people as temperatures climb as high as 117 degrees.

"These are guys who want us to fail. They'd rather see their country burn than have it succeed," said Maj. Scott Slaten, of the Army's 1st Armored Division.

If you are trying to follow this on a map the Thawra neighborhood is the 72 square block neighborhood formerly known as Saddam City, in Northeast Baghdad just north of the narrow Army Canal. You can find it on the map link at the top of this page.

This area is the responsibility of the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort Polk...but the 2d ACR has been attached to the 1st realistically this is 1st Brigade turf.

Read the whole story here.
SATURDAY, JUNE 28th. The 48th day of CPT Patti's deployment and a very special day.

Congratulations to Kelley and Jon on their wedding day.

Wish we could have been there guys...our best to you both.

Friday, June 27, 2003


This is the website for the national Do Not Call Registry.

Go to that web site and register.

Then have dinner in peace.
On the subject of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction:

Rumsfeld feels that had Saddam Hussein actually destroyed all his weapons, "he had everything to gain and nothing to lose by cooperation with the U.N.," and would have more freely welcomed inspectors.

"Why did he continue to give up tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues, under U.N. sanctions, when he could have very simply had those sanctions lifted, simply by demonstrating that he had disarmed?" Rumsfeld questioned. "Why did he file a fraudulent declaration with the United Nations?"


Read it here.

It used to puzzle me why politicians will do this...because it makes no sense. But then I realized that it makes no sense only to those informed enough to know that they've just flipped flopped on an issue for political expedience.

And that's when it really began to bother it sinks in that they must be counting on enough uninformed voters to elect them.

Now that is scary.
Soldiers from the 1st Armored Division captured piles of top secret Iraqi intelligence documents, some of which refer to a nuclear program, in a raid on a community center in Baghdad last Saturday.

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, probably wishes he had been able to a peek at the documents before he accused President Bush of intentionally misleading Americans about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee dismissed Mr. Kerry's charge as political, and refused to join in it.

Mr. Kerry had to hope his listeners have short memories: "[Saddam Hussein] cannot be permitted to go unobserved and unimpeded toward his horrific objective of amassing a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction," Mr. Kerry said in a speech on the Senate floor in 1997.

In that speech — exhumed by Wesley Pruden, editor in chief of The Washington Times — Mr. Kerry said the U.N. should authorize a military strike on Iraq that would "materially damage ... as much as possible of the suspected infrastructure for developing and manufacturing weapons of mass destruction." And if the U.N. wouldn't go along, the U.S. should go it alone:

"While we should always seek to take significant international actions on a multilateral rather than a unilateral basis ... we must have the courage to do what we believe is right and wise," Mr. Kerry said.

Similar statements — essentially indistinguishable from what President Bush has said — were made by Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle and former House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt. So if Americans were "intentionally misled" about WMD in Iraq, Democrats originated the plot.

Harping on this issue is strange politics, because polls indicate about two-thirds of Americans think war with Iraq was justified even if weapons of mass destruction are not found. And if they are found, Democrats have walked out on a limb that will be sawed off behind them.

Read it all here.

I'm not sure...but my sense of unease is growing.
U.S. forces came under widespread attack again Thursday, with two soldiers apparently abducted and one killed in a series of ambushes in and around Baghdad.

Reports of attacks on troops streamed in throughout the day Thursday.

At midday, a trailer in a U.S. military convoy was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in southern Baghdad, and a truck was set afire by local residents protesting the U.S. presence in Iraq, witnesses said. By early evening, al-Jazeera television reported a grenade attack on an American vehicle in the southern town of An Najaf. Military spokesmen could not confirm either attack.

In another incident, a bomb exploded on a road to the Baghdad airport, killing one U.S. soldier and wounding eight others, according to Maj. William Thurmond, another military spokesman in the capital. Two Iraqi electricity workers were killed when a convoy of U.S. and Iraqi civilian vehicles was attacked with hand grenades in west Baghdad.

A static Army becomes a rich target once the locals lose their respect or fear for it. And at that point only more violence can restore that fear and respect.

But that leads to a cycle of violence and resentment.

Read about it here.


Also Friday, a gunman shot a U.S. soldier shopping for video compact discs on a sidewalk in northwest Baghdad, witnesses said. Ammar Saad, a 44-year-old vendor, said the soldier was shot in the neck at close range and appeared to have been killed. U.S. military spokesmen in Baghdad said they had heard of the incident but were unable to confirm it.

Saad and another witness, 20-year-old porter Jassem Obeid, said the assailant escaped into crowds at a nearby market.

I grow anxious.
When we step back, the broader picture of the U.S.-al Qaeda war becomes clearer. It appears to us that both sides are gearing up for a summer offensive. Each, for its own reasons, is going to try to engage in operations in a series of theaters, including in the United States. This does not mean the offensives will be successful. It does mean we can expect complex action from both sides on a broad geographic scale. These need not be individual large-scale operations, but collectively they will constitute significant attempts to get an advantage in the war.


The conquest of Iraq has created an interesting dynamic in the war. Both sides are now under pressure to launch summer offensives. Al Qaeda must demonstrate its continued viability.

The United States must exploit the victory in Iraq and disrupt al Qaeda operations globally. This indicates to us that both sides will carry out intense operations over the next few months.

If we look at the world through al Qaeda's eyes, the period since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has consisted of a series of significant reversals. First, a U.S. offensive dislodged the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Second, the hoped-for insurrection among the Islamic masses did not materialize. The primary goal of the Sept. 11 assault -- to prompt a rising in the Muslim world designed to create an Islamic regime in at least one country, to serve as al Qaeda's anchor -- did not take place. Finally, Iraq was occupied. The Baathist regime was no friend of al Qaeda, except in the sense that the two shared an enemy. Nevertheless, it appears in the Islamic world that al Qaeda has cost Iraq its freedom.

In short, al Qaeda has little to show for Sept. 11 except significant losses and failure. If this trend continues, as we argued in our second-quarter forecast, al Qaeda will begin an irreversible disintegration process, with support personnel concluding that the organization has ceased to be operational and therefore beginning to fall away. It is insufficient for al Qaeda's network to assert operational capability; it must demonstrate this capability...

It also means that if the United States makes headway, al Qaeda will have to come to life. First, if the United States is effective, it will have to protect itself. Second, if the United States is effective, al Qaeda will face a use-it-or-lose-it situation. If its assets are being rolled up, there is little incentive for the network to continue to patiently preserve those assets. It is paradoxical, but in the short run, the more effective the U.S. operation is, the greater the danger from al Qaeda becomes...

Read the whole thing here.
In the dirt and grime of the Iraqi desert, Army Reserve Lt. Dominick Filipponi and the men in the transportation unit he commands can sometimes go for a week without a change of clothes and a shower.
So when the 29-year-old soldier had a chance to ask his parents for a favor, it seemed a simple enough request: send a washboard to help the unit do its laundry.

But in a world of automatic washers and dryers, washboards have been relegated to the world of kitschy country decor and the occasional washboard band.

Joan Filipponi and her husband, also named Dominick, searched online stores and auctions from their Pasco County home. They also called department stores and hardware stores and couldn’t find a single one of the galvanized steel boards of days gone by.

It took a call to Cracker Barrel, the roadside restaurant which bills itself as the “little old country store” to resolve the dirty laundry dilemma. Years ago, Cracker Barrels across the country sold washboards in their gift shops, but the boards had long ago been relegated to the clearance bin.

The company searched its 477 stores, finding five boards, which — along with three washtubs and an assortment of games — were sent to Iraq in a care package from the Cracker Barrel restaurant northeast of Tampa, for the lieutenant and his troops...

As it turns out, the old-fashioned house ware has become a hot commodity in the desert. The Columbus Washboard Company, the Ohio factory that is the last remaining manufacturer of washboards in the U.S., has sent nearly 1,500 to the troops.

The boards are accompanied by boxes of laundry soap, clothes pins, clothes lines and small tubs. The company specially designed some boards to read “Proud to be an American.”

“They are thrilled,” said Jacqui Barnett, the company’s co-owner. “We are getting more requests.”

You can find The Columbus Washboard Company at

But where it says "510th" in the story, it is supposed to say "501st".

And that would be our guys!
The score didn’t matter.

And that was a good thing, because the soccer game Tuesday between American troops assembled from the divisions around Baghdad and a second-tier local Iraqi club was a little lopsided.

OK, more than a little lopsided. The final score was 11-0, and it was the American team that didn’t find the net.

But again, the score didn’t matter. What did matter was that the Iraqis were playing soccer again in al-Sha’ab stadium, which was turned back to them by American troops who had been using it since entering the Iraqi capital.

“Basically, you had support units using the Olympic facilities,” said Lt. Col. Antonio Coleman (CPT Patti's Boss), commander of the 510th Forward Support Battalion from Friedberg, Germany.

Coleman said the facilities have been used for a variety of purposes, including the billeting of some personnel. His unit was supposed to be the next to move into the facility, “but we found a home elsewhere.”

That allowed a series of facilities to be given back to the Iraqis.

Read it here.
FRIDAY, JUNE 27th. The 47th day of CPT Patti's deployment. And on the face of it things are getting uglier in Baghdad.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

The network said al-Sahhaf (aka Baghdad Bob, aka Comical Ali) claimed he had surrendered to American forces, was interrogated and released.

He "was exclusively interviewed in his hide-out in Baghdad," al-Arabiya said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. The network did not say where the hide-out is.

The interview will include "important information about the last war and the fall of the Iraqi regime," al-Arabiya said.

Of course they don't mention where the hide-out is. It wouldn't be a hide-out then would it?
As Charles Krauthammer cogently observed not long ago: "The toppling of Saddam Hussein freed 25 million people from 30 years of torture, murder, war, starvation and impoverishment at the hands of a psychopathic family that matched Stalin for cruelty but took far more pleasure in it."

So, let this be understood: Iraq's pervasively broken condition did not develop overnight and cannot be put together in short order.

But the conditions in Iraq that greeted the victorious army have been improved in many important respects. Indeed, many of the achievements can be measured in the postwar potential catastrophes that were prevented.

There has been no refugee crisis. There has been no humanitarian crisis. Starvation has not occurred. And a health crisis has not developed.

Just as you are never likely to read in your daily newspaper a headline declaring "No Murders in U.S. Capital Over the Weekend," it is the nature of journalism not to report on a calamity that hasn't occurred.

Well written at the Washington Times. Read the whole thing here.
The U.S. soldiers who invaded Iraq went into battle with the most modern and lethal equipment ever carried by an armed force. In some cases, they paid for it themselves.

Combat soldiers interviewed by an Army investigative team after the capture of Baghdad reported that they dipped into their own pockets to buy such accessories as pistol holsters, rucksacks, boot soles, underwear, rifle sights, global-positioning-system handsets and field radios, rather than use Army-issue versions.

The whole story is here.

Meanwhile, here is a related story...and some of the stuff is better now...but some can still use improving.

The Army has surveyed its foot soldiers for years to find out how equipment is working in battle. But only recently have Congress and the Pentagon managed to change bureaucracy-heavy procurement rules so the Army can translate what it learns into action.

Embarrassed by the specter of soldiers dipping into their modest pay to equip themselves, the Army has responded with a "rapid fielding initiative" to get improved equipment to the battlefront as quickly as possible. Over the next four years, the Army is considering spending about $400 million on improvements so soldiers won't have to spend their own money.

A similar survey of soldiers deployed to Afghanistan spurred the Army to accelerate distribution of body armor, Wiley X sunglasses, Rhino GPS units and a special multitool device that is sort of a super pocketknife. The .50-caliber XM-107 sniper rifle, which saw some use in Afghanistan, was used more widely in Iraq, where it was regarded as the single most useful weapon in urban warfare. Snipers were convinced that the rifle's firepower intimidated Iraqis who saw its devastating effects.

I think it comes down to what value one places on being as comfortable as possible in a hostile environment.

It's one thing from a taxpayer's point of view. It's another thing altogether when it is you, or your own soldier.

I know there is nothing I wouldn't buy for CPT Patti right now to make her more comfortable.


We have handed the stadium over to the Iraqi's. The logistics base is now centered at the Police College.

The US army on Wednesday handed back to the Iraqi people Baghdad's "International Stadium of the People" which it has occupied since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.

"The handing over of the stadium is part of US efforts aimed at normalising the situation in Iraq," said Ahmed al-Hajjia al-Samarrai, head of the body charged with revitalising the country's sporting activities.

"I thank the US forces for having protected this sporting centre from acts of looting and sabotage" that ravaged much of Baghdad after the fall of the Baath regime on April 9, Samarrai said.

"It is us who asked the Americans to protect the stadium. We also asked that they keep some of their troops outside the stadium to guard it. They asked us to form, if possible, a protection force."

And as a part of it all...there was this.

Az-Zawra crushed the Americans 11-0 in a symbolic match
UN-LOGIC (prounounced un-logic or yoo-ehn-logic, whicher you prefer.)

If I disassemble the bicycle and store the parts around the country then you can certify that I no longer have a bicycle.
U.S. intelligence officials have confirmed a former Iraqi scientist's claims that he buried nuclear weapons components in his rose garden in Baghdad.

Hamdi Shukuir Ubaydi told CIA officials that he was ordered to bury a gas centrifuge used to enrich uranium — a necessary piece of equipment for developing a nuclear weapon — in order to be ready to rebuild Iraq's bomb program.

Ubaydi, who was head of Iraq's pre-1991 centrifuge enrichment program, told U.S. intelligence officials he was acting on orders from Saddam Hussein's government.

As teams of U.S. officials scour the country for evidence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, U.S. officials uncovered critical parts of Iraqi nuclear technology buried under a rose bush in Ubaydi's garden.

Other items of interest found buried in his garden included:

A two-foot-tall stack of related documents.

A number of the most-difficult-to-make parts.

Examples and templates which would be used to make a large number of centrifuges. A large number of centrifuges are needed to make nuclear weapons.

Ubaydi said the elements represent a complete set of what would be needed to rebuild a centrifuge uranium enrichment program. He said he was told to bury it in his back yard until inspectors from the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency in Iraq before the Gulf War left..

Most or all of (Iraq's) nuclear program was dismantled after U.N. inspections following the first Persian Gulf War.

Wrench please.

The whole story is here.

Might as well be the name of this article covering the absolutely predictable results of the absolutely self inflicted wounds created by the looting of the nuclear site.
Environmental group Greenpeace called on the US-led coalition governing Iraq to clean up villages surrounding a nuclear site outside Baghdad that have been contaminated by "frightening levels" of radioactive material...

Carrying Arabic and English banners that read "Al-Tuwaitha - nuclear disaster. Act now!", Greenpeace activists returned a large uranium "yellowcake" mixing canister to US troops stationed inside the nuclear plant, 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of the capital.

The canister -- the size of a small car -- contained significant quantities of radioactive yellowcake and had been left open and unattended for more than 20 days on a busy section of open ground near the Tuwaitha plant, Greenpeace said Tuesday.

"No one cares about us. We are dying slowly. Our whole neighborhood is contaminated. Although Greenpeace came, it is too late," said Tareq al-Obeidi, a 41-year-old Tuwaitha city council member...

Hey Tareq...shut up. There are almost 200,000 US Servicemen in your country separated from wives, husbands, children, mothers and fathers because they are trying to step up. Meanwhile your countrymen are taking pot shots at these brave you understand what that means? Our soldiers are not dying for OUR country...they are dying for YOUR country.

And where the hell are you? You are 41 years old. You have to be the adult in your household.

How stupid do you and your neighbors have to be to steal storage barrels from a Nuke site?

And now you want to whine that no one cares? Hell, you didn't even care enough to stop something that was 100% preventable.

Meanwhile Greenpeace goes on to say:

"It is a disgrace that occupying forces can say they are taking care of human health here in Iraq and they can still allow this to lie open on the ground where children can play in it," said Greenpeace spokeswoman Sara Holden...

Greenpeace said the preliminary survey "highlights the total failure of the occupying forces to address the urgent need for a full assessment, containment and clean up of missing nuclear material from the Tuwaitha nuclear facility."

When did we say we are taking care of human health here in Iraq MS. Greenpeace?

What we said is that we are taking care of LIBERTY here in Iraq. You know the concept of liberty I'm sure. It is that level of freedom which you enjoy that allows you the choice to stand around and shoot your mouth off, or to roll up your sleeves and help.

And guess what...every Iraqi now has that same choice.

Meanwhile our undying thanks to Greenpeace for schlepping their happy selves to Iraq to "discover" what this article predicted a month ago.

According to eyewitness reports as many as 400 looters a day have been ransacking the Al-Tuwaitha complex south of Baghdad, regarded as the main site for Iraq's former nuclear weapons programme and covering an area of 120 acres. The crowd got in by simply cutting the surrounding barbed-wire fence in the absence of security patrols.

Seals placed at Iraqi nuclear sites by the IAEA during past inspections have been tampered with and metal containers of 300-400kg of natural and low-enriched uranium and uranium oxide, either stolen or tipped out and the containers used for domestic purposes such as milking cows and storing drinking water, milk and tomatoes intended for human consumption. Documents and lab equipment have been stolen, while other materials have been dumped on the floors. The environmental consequences may prove disastrous.

Criticism is easy. Helping is hard.

Come back when you can help.
The general nominated to be the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East said yesterday that the United States faces a long and difficult job ahead in stabilizing Iraq.

Army Lt. Gen. John P. Abizaid, while holding out the prospect that the number of U.S. troops in Iraq may soon be reduced below its current 146,000, warned that "we are certainly in for some difficult days ahead."

Read the whole story here.
Lt. Ramon Salas from Alamo Gordo, New Mexico, of the 1st Armored Division points to a person chosen at random for an interview to become an Iraqi police officer at the entrance of a U.S. base in Baghdad, Wednesday, June 25, 2003. "We asked the sheik for 22 people and about 200 showed up," Salas said. Salas lined up the candidates and selected 22 to start the application procedure. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
An ambush on a U.S. military vehicle killed one U.S. solider and injured another on the road leading to Baghdad's airport Thursday, and a U.S. Marine was killed and two others injured when their vehicle rolled over as they sped to the scene of another attack.

Also Thursday, two Iraqi employees of the national electricity authority were killed when their U.S.-led convoy came under a grenade attack in west Baghdad, U.S. soldiers and Iraqi police said.

The morning attack on the road leading to Baghdad International Airport apparently involved an explosive device placed on the road, said U.S. soldiers at the scene, who asked not to be named. It appeared the device was detonated either by remote control or a trip wire...

In Baghdad Wednesday afternoon, ambushers dropped grenades from an overpass onto a convoy of Army Humvees as they passed underneath, said Marine Corps Maj. Sean Gibson. There were no serious injuries.

The ambushes were the latest in a spiraling series of attacks against U.S.-led occupation forces in Iraq.

The airport road, heavily used by U.S. forces, has been the scene of a series of ambushes using trip wires dangling from overpasses or grenades tossed from bridges. Last month, two U.S. soldiers were killed and two injured when a Humvee detonated an anti-tank mine hidden under debris on the highway.

The reason that road is so heavily used by US forces is that the airport serves as the primary logistics base for Iraq. Mail, rations and other supplies are flown into Baghdad International Airport daily.

It is also where the 1AD headquarters is.

And so, predictably, the logistics folks and the senior leaders of brigades and battalions subordinate to 1AD will all use this route frequently.

This is scary. Read it all here.

If you are a family member of a US Servicemember who is or might be deployed to Baghdad, Afghanistan or other dangerous area...may I suggest that you get a passport?

Yes. You may need a passport.

Why? Because if, heaven forbid, your soldier becomes critically wounded, your soldier might be evacuated to the Army hospital in Germany or a Navy hospital in Spain.

And if it is really bad...and they can't move that soldier any more, then you already have your passport and can simply step on a plane and come to Europe.

But if you DON'T already have that passport...that is a whole other battle you have to fight.

Go get your passport.

Then let's all pray you don't have to use it.
THURSDAY, JUNE 26th. The 46th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003


It is precisely due to the very American concept of civil control of the military that we don't know how to do this stuff.
Two months after the fall of Baghdad, the critical task of postwar rebuilding and governance of most Iraqi cities remains in the hands of U.S. military personnel, almost all of whom lack expertise in government administration and familiarity with the Arab world...

"The reliance on the military has been a mistake," a senior U.S. official here said. "You need civilians in an operation like this. This is both a political and a military operation. We need to emphasize the political dimension more."...

Civil affairs officers say their problems have been compounded by a shortage of staff. Grant has only 35 soldiers -- just 16 of them civil affairs personnel -- for the entire province, which has 1.4 million people. Cromarty is the only officer assigned to Bani Sad and the surrounding areas, which are home to about 186,000 people. As a consequence, he is able to visit the town only twice a week for meetings in the former mayor's office, where he hears complaints, makes promises and delivers apologies for his inability to fulfill earlier commitments.

"We need full-time staff here working on their issues," said Cromarty, 43. "There's going to come a point when they say, 'These little meetings are ridiculous. You don't support us.' "

But Cromarty, a former paratrooper who is more willing to listen than talk, is still trying to get Bani Sad back on its feet. His meetings with a score of sheiks, technical experts and self-proclaimed community leaders have the feeling of town council meetings -- with Cromarty playing the role of mayor.

Its a good read. Find it here.
After years of all Saddam most of the time, it comes as quite a change for Iraqis to watch Tom and Jerry and the Arabic version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.

Liberated from 35 years of stilted official TV glorifying Saddam Hussein, Iraqis are snatching up satellite dishes by the thousands. Cartoons, fitness programs, movies and commercials are flooding into Iraqi living rooms.

These days, in fact, when a favorite show comes on, Iraqis on rooftops yell to neighbors to alert them.

Satellite television is one of the perks U.S.-British occupation has brought postwar Iraq. It has helped introduce them to open debate, free speech and spin, along with the culture of couch potatoes and remote-control fights.

"We're like the blind who have been offered the gift of sight," said Mahabat Ahmad, 32, a translator.

The demand for satellite dishes has continued despite a lack of electricity. Prices have dropped to about $250 from $300 two months ago. "They're buying them like they buy bread," said Mohammed al-Mulla, who works in an electronics store. "They say they're buying freedom."

The new freedom has opened doors for the country's American occupiers, who are setting up a new channel in hopes of winning over Iraqis. But it also offers an opportunity for critics to spread anti-U.S. sentiment.

An Iranian-financed TV channel slams the U.S. presence in Iraq, showing footage of Iraqis mourning two soldiers killed by American troops, shots of women being searched and a photo montage featuring Saddam, President Bush and Adolf Hitler.

The Americans have sent advisers contracted by the Defense Department to help set up the Iraqi Media Network. The network is still experimental, but it will let Americans tell their side of the story.

Just me talkin' out loud here but we ought to be able to win the TV wars if our closest competition is Iran for cryin' out loud.

Read it here.
US authorities in Iraq have been forced to change the name of the planned Iraqi armed forces, after learning that the orginal title they came up with created an unfortunate acronym in Arabic.

The planned force was originally entitled the New Iraqi Corps, whose initals in English produce a colourful Arabic synonym for sexual intercourse.

"I am told reliably but unanimously that that acronym is not a nice word in Arabic," a senior official from the Coalition Provisional Authority said Tuesday. "Therefore we had to come up with another word."

You know you are in it up to your ears when just naming things is hard.

That story here.
Halfway through an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Othello, the power at the al-Rashid Theater goes off.

An usher apologizes as the audience grumbles and the lead actor disgustedly shakes his head. But in a moment, he begins improvising, clicking his fingers and stomping his feet for sound effects, earning him an encouraging ovation.

Performing in sweltering heat and at the mercy of unreliable electricity, Ali Taleb and his Mardookh group of actors fight against all odds to complete the 45-minute adaptation, titled "Obey the Devil."

"The message we're trying to spread is that we still have life. Not all Iraqis are looters and nothing is impossible," said Taleb, the play's 28 year-old director and lead actor.

Good message. Spread faster.

Story here.
The port of Umm Qasr -- Iraq's sole gateway to the Persian Gulf -- lay eerily quiet in mid-June. Large cranes that should have been lifting containers from arriving ships were idle. A blue-domed mosque for dockworkers was empty. A grain elevator and storage silos were barren and broken.

The waters of the narrow channel are so full of sludge, silt, sunken boats and unexploded bombs from the Iran-Iraq war that large boats can't dock there.

''This port hasn't been dredged in 12 years,'' Art Fletcher, a subcontractor to Bechtel Corp., which is in charge of upgrading the port, said as he looked at a multicolored chart showing water depths. ``The water coming from the river is dirty and constantly bringing silt. It's in bad shape.''

Upgrading Umm Qasr -- just 10 miles west of the Kuwaiti border -- is crucial to reviving the Iraqi economy, since it will sharply lower the cost of bringing goods in and out of the country, including humanitarian aid.

But the constant looting makes it a "two-steps forward, one step back" affair.

Read it here.
To give directions to first-time comers, the man shouts: "At the first rocket-launcher, turn right then continue to drive until you see a Russian tank. Take a left and stop when you see an Austrian anti-aircraft gun."
At a main "roundabout," there is also a fake missile made of fiberglass that Saddam's army once meant to use as a decoy. Now, Saddam's army -- once said to be among the world's mightiest -- is no more.

Besides the major devastation suffered during the US-led war, the Iraqi army was dealt a fatal blow when the US overseer in Iraq, Paul Bremer, abolished the country's military along with Saddam's network of security services on May 23.

"Our army was the keeper of our dignity. We all feel humiliated because Saddam ordered the army to surrender," said Mohamad Hassan, referring to Baghdad's sudden fall to US forces.

Oh, ordered the Army to surrender now did he?

Was that before or after he hauled-ass out of the country?

Sorry entrusted your dignity to an unworthy keeper.

Read it here.
U.S. senators from both parties said Monday that American soldiers may need to remain in Iraq for at least five years.

The senators, who are on a fact-finding mission to Iraq, also said President George W. Bush needs to be more truthful with Americans about the breadth of the commitment and the cost required to rebuild Iraq.

"There now needs to be real truth-telling by the president and by each of us , " said Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Referring to the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq, he said "at least a five-year plan in my judgment is required."

The story is here.

I posted this because CPT Patti is living and working out of the Police College that serves as the background for this photo!

The line to have your butt handed to you, that is.
The senior lieutenant to Saddam Hussein who was detained in Iraq last week obtained passports from Belarus for himself and others, possibly including Saddam's sons, two U.S. government officials said yesterday...

Belarus, part of the former Soviet Union, is an authoritarian country with close ties to Russia and its intelligence services, including the former KGB. It has been regarded by U.S. officials in the past as a possible refuge for other fugitives. The Russian intelligence services had a long and close relationship with Saddam's government.

Read it here.

Especially when others think "its over."
Smithson said co-workers tried to console her when her family left by telling her the war was over. “I remember one of the gals at work saying, ‘Don’t worry, it’s all over, Susan. They’re coming home.’ I was like, pshaw, if only you knew,” she said.

Mary Hinojosa of Fort Hood, Texas, said her co-workers at Dell Computer used to ask her every day how her husband, Army Sgt. Gregory Hinojosa, was doing when he shipped out to Iraq in March.

Now the questions have trickled away, leaving her alone with her fears every time the telephone rings or someone knocks on the door.

In her imagination, the message is always bad news about her husband.

“When the phone rings and it’s a bill collector, I’m happy,” she said.


Read it here.
Saddam Hussein's top wartime propagandist - dubbed "Baghdad Bob" for his outlandish, lie-filled news briefings - was captured at a Baghdad roadblock, a London newspaper reported today.

Word of the capture came as six British troops were killed yesterday, in southern Iraq, the deadliest day for coalition forces since Saddam's fall.

Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf - who once claimed "there is no presence of the American columns in the city of Baghdad" as U.S. forces were moving in - was arrested Monday night by American troops, said the Daily Mail.

I've seen at least one report that he tried to surrender earlier, but was turned away by the soldiers because he "wasn't important enough".

He probably feels better now.

Story here.
BAGHDAD - Inside the Habibya Children's Hospital, 5-year-olds were slowly dying.

Out on Street 52, about 400 yards from the hospital, an elderly man was dying considerably faster.

I heard six shots, two slow, and then four in quick succession.

It was 12:25 p.m. local time and four carjackers had hit him three times with their bullets, threw him out of his vehicle and sped away.

Inside, in a hospital bed, Ismaihn Kareem was vainly trying to breast-feed her 5-month-old boy, Ali.

An interpreter said it was almost impossible to give the boy milk because Ismaihn, 18, had suffered malnutrition for years, and now her son was in line for inheritance.

Believe it or not there is some good in this story.
"These British soldiers came with their dogs and pointed weapons at women and children.

As Muslims, we can't accept dogs at our homes," Rabee al-Malki told Reuters.

So, as Muslims, you killed the soldiers.

Do ya get a lotta folks hoping to convert to Islam by chance?

Read the disgusting piece here.
Six British military police killed in southern Iraq were slain by armed townspeople angry over civilian deaths during a demonstration, local police said Wednesday.

Abbas Faddhel, an Iraqi policeman in the town, said the British troops had shot and killed four civilian demonstrators on Tuesday.

Armed civilians then killed two of the British soldiers at the scene of the demonstration -- in front of the mayor's office -- and then chased four other British soldiers to a police station, killing them after a two-hour gunbattle, Faddhel said.

A second incident on Tuesday also involved a fierce firefight between Iraqis and British troops occupying southern Iraq. That one wounded eight British soldiers, three of them seriously.

A two-hour gun battle? Where was their backup?

Read it all here.
A unit with the 4th Infantry Division arrested an Iraqi "for selling propaganda tapes allegedly showing U.S. soldiers being executed during the 1991 Gulf War," Central Command said.

Read it here.
“We want to get away from soldiers standing in front of buildings,” Heydenberk said. “We want the Iraqis to do that for themselves.”

He said showing Iraqis they could have a security force that provides stability, but also respects human rights, is an important aspect of the program.

So, soldiers such as Staff Sgt. Chris West have been instructing the Iraqis in techniques to use when force is needed.

But first, they’ve explained techniques on how to avoid using force and how to handle daily interaction with their own people.

“We tell them about respecting other people,” West said, even when they have to take custody of someone who’s causing trouble.

Respecting other people...they can teach this in two days?

Read it here.
At Smith Barracks in Baumholder, Stephanie Tosto held their son, Cameron, 19 months, as she mourned her husband.

“He just did everything to make us happy,” said Stephanie Tosto, overcome by grief. “Cameron was his world, he loved him so much.”

Michael Tosto was a soldier “who loved his job, who loved what he was doing,” his wife said.

The whole thing is here.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25th. The 45th day of CPT Patti's deployment. She called yesterday. See that story below.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003


Wow. I can't believe it. Just got off the phone with our girl. We got to talk about 20 minutes.

Don't know how she got through...don't know if it is repeatable....but right now I don't care. I spoke to her!

OK - to summarize.

She said her health is very good. She's had only two days in Baghdad when she didn't feel her best but said those were days she didn't get to eat.

She said she has adapted to the heat pretty well.

Mail is coming through very well. She has received packages from Cheryl, Dan & Amy, Kollen, Kyle & Kristi. (If you sent stuff and your name isn't on here...don't worry. This was off the top of her head...not meant to be a complete reckoning.)

Said the socks and underwear are greatly appreciated...saves her from having to take time she doesn't have to hand wash her clothes. Even though there is a Quartermaster Laundry and Bath unit nearby, they, like everyone else, are over extended.

She said to this point her company was doing supply convoys every day from their location to Baghdad International Airport. Over the weekend that changed...and the Main Support Battalion had begun delivering supplies to her location. Sadly, SPC Smith of the 123d Main Support Battalion who was killed on Sunday was in a convoy bringing supplies to the Gators.

I suspect that in the future they will alternate who travels in convoy.

She is staying in a 2 story dormitory that has neither electricity nor glass in the windows. But they all have mosquito nets. While we were on the phone some Iraqi workers came in to measure for new windows.

In the biggest coincidence to date she told me they have begun the process of giving the stadium back to the Iraqis. (We discussed that possibility here yesterday). As part of that the soldiers are competing with Iraqi athletes in a series of games.

Yesterday it was US Soldiers versus Iraqi Olympic swimmers. CPT Patti said she competed, but since the Iraqis had no female Olympic athletes, it was an all US women's competition. CPT Patti came in second ("I lost to a 20 year old", she said with an unusual amount of pride).

Today is a US/Iraqi soccer match. Tomorrow is basketball and Thursday will be tennis.

Says they are eating at least one hot meal per day...often times two.

She sounds good. She thanks everyone for your support. Has not had time to write thank-you notes yet but she intends to. But please accept this as thanks for the moment.

And that is pretty much what she had to say.

Oh...well there was one more thing...seems she's rather fond of me.

Back at ya babe.


20 Questions. Here is one of them.
15. What reconstruction is going on?

The rebuilding of Iraq is going frustratingly slow in the eyes of most Iraqis. Two months after the old regime fell, they still have no clean drinking water and uncollected rubbish is piled high in the city streets, rotting in the 40-plus-degree heat.

Coalition forces have engineers working at rebuilding schools and hospitals across the country, even in hot spots such as Fallujah, which has thus far been the centre of anti-American resistance. A loud civic cheer went up this week when front-end loaders began tackling the mountain of garbage on the streets of Baghdad.

Iraqis are experts in surviving such conditions. Safe drinking water has been scarce ever since United Nations sanctions restricted the importation of chlorine (it might be used to make chemical weapons). Imported, bottled mineral water remains the norm.

Merchants on every second street corner flog the use of their hand-held Thuraya satellite phones for several U.S. dollars a minute -- and after decades of being cut off from outside, Iraqis gleefully pay all they have to call relatives in Dubai, Jordan, Europe and North America, to say how happy they are the old regime is gone, and to complain about the new one.

Read it all here.

(Via Instapundit)
Despite the postwar tide of Islamic rigor sweeping southern and central Iraq, many women here are determined to be beautiful and sensual, even as the culture demands greater modesty.

Strappy sandals, for example, poke incongruously from the bottoms of fluttering hemlines — flashing what one U.S. colonel described as "local T&A — toes and ankles."

It is a good read and you'll find it here.
Iraq's fuel pipelines came under fresh attack on Monday by elements apparently bent on disrupting US plans to use Iraqi oil revenues to rebuild the country , as Saddam Hussein's soldiers won a pay battle with coalition forces.

The third attack on Iraq's pipelines in less than two weeks hit in the northwest of the country on what was thought to be a key fuel line to Syria, amid a warning that such attacks could become a daily occurrence.

"The ministry is aware of an attack near al-Abidiyah al-Gharbiya not far from the Syrian border," an oil ministry official said.

"It seems there are people prepared to mount such attacks every day on Iraq's pipelines," he added...

Read it here.

On a scorching afternoon, while on duty at an Army airfield, Sgt. David J. Borell was approached by an Iraqi who pleaded for help for his three children, burned when they set fire to a bag containing explosive powder left over from war in Iraq.

Borell immediately called for assistance. But the two Army doctors who arrived about an hour later refused to help the children because their injuries were not life-threatening and had not been inflicted by U.S. troops.

Now the two girls and a boy are covered with scabs and the boy cannot use his right leg. And Borell is shattered.

"I have never seen in almost 14 years of Army experience anything that callous,' said Borell, who recounted the June 13 incident to The Associated Press...

Borell said he felt betrayed by the Army, which he joined after high school. Borell's wife gave him a silver bracelet that says: "Duty, Honor, Country.' He wears it to remind him why he's in Iraq.

"After today, I wonder if I will still be able to carry the title 'soldier' with any pride at all,' said Borell.

But let's put this in perspective.

We have literally hundreds of thousands of US Servicemen and Women in that country trying to creat a better life for the Iraqi people. I don't think we can be fairly accused of callousness.

Although the story doesn't say it, I can bet you the physicians were following orders.

That is what soldiers do.

It works like this. The last time you went to the emergency room in the USA, how many hours did you wait before getting attention? If your case is typical, it was an astonishingly long time, especially considering this is supposed to be - well - an emergency room.

But the law of supply and demand is not suspended for medical reasons.

For many folks the emergency room is the only place they can get care. Even routine care.

And that clogs the system.

Consider this then. There are 24 million Iraqis in that country. Compared to that number the US Forces make up .8 percent of the population. That is, less than one percent.

And most of those drive or ride in armored vehicles for a living. A tiny tiny percentage of the US Forces are medics, even fewer are doctors.

Now, with US Forces getting picked off on a daily basis, someone has to make the hard decision to preserve the medical capabilities for their primary purpose. To tend to injured soldiers.

And you do that by establishing rules of engagement for medical services, just as you establish them for the Infantry.

Based on the doctors comments, those rules seem to be to treat Iraqi's if (a) lives are at risk or (b) if US Forces caused the wounds.

Otherwise, they must use the Iraqi medical facilities, for better or worse.

And I can all but guarantee you the two doctors did not write the rules of engagement. Remember, they swore a Hippocratic oath.

Without these rules, we treat one, the other 24 million people will expect it too. And we just don't have the assets.

It isn't kind, it isn't pretty. But it is the way it has to be.

No, wife isn't in harm's way because she is callous.

It's because she is a soldier.

And soldiers follow orders...whether they agree with them or not.

And professional soldiers don't bitch to the press about fellow soldiers following orders.

So shut the hell up already...and watch your lane.

This story puts a human face on the plight of the 3d Infantry Division.
Enough of pounding across Iraqi sand in a tank or Humvee.

Enough of meals ready to eat and 140-degree heat.

Enough already for Army Sgt. Ben Patti, 25, a Merchantville native on a protracted, onerous stay in Iraq after being in the leading force that swept the country and took Baghdad.

"It's time to go home and be with the family," Patti said Monday during a satellite cell phone call from western Iraq. "I've been away for a year with the exception of three weeks. I have about a year left (on enlistment). When it's over, I'm done."

Patti, commander of an M-1A1 Abrams tank, and the dozen men he leads thought they were coming home in May. However, their orders changed when troops continued coming under fire well after Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled.

" `Disappointment' is the understatement of the year," he said.

Bring 'em home, please.

The loud comments about Americans running roughshod around the middle east are predictable. The unknown quantity here is whether this spill over the border might be permanent.

As if we aren't already stretched too thin.
But the United States does not want the search for Hussein to widen the conflict. Officials refused today to discuss the implications of the incursion onto Syrian territory, and would give no details about how far troops thrust into Syria, how long they stayed there, or how they got into the firefight.

The administration has rankled Syrian leaders by accusing them of allowing senior Iraqi leaders to pass into Syria along smuggling routes.

A secretive group called Task Force 20 spearheaded the U.S. assault on the convoy. The covert force specializes in tracking and targeting Iraqi officials based on intelligence from the CIA and other sources, defense officials said. Made up mostly of Army soldiers, Task Force 20 has targeted Hussein and others since before the war began, one official said.

Read it all here.
Traffic might have been a little slower across the reconstructed bridge than it was before the original one was destroyed during the conflict, but it gave motorists a shorter route to the north than the one they had since the span’s destruction.

“This is the first bridge to connect Baghdad to the north of Iraq,” said Baghdassar Avedisian, an Iraqi engineer who studied at the University of Michigan years ago.

Avedisian said the bridge — which replaces a temporary structure the military erected to get its vehicles across the river — will help bring more trade from surrounding countries, such as Turkey, Iran and Syria.

“The real aspect of this bridge is that it’s going to make it easier for the people in this region to move around,” Strock said in his remarks.

It took more than 100 members of the 38th about 100 hours to take down the temporary structure and put up the two new spans. Capt. Carrington Stoffels, the company commander, said it would last “as long as they need it to last.”

Its a good story. Read it all here.
The 1st Battalion, 33rd Field Artillery Regiment has been “adopted” by the state of Connecticut and marked the event with a ceremony last week at Warner Barracks...

As part of the adoption, the 1st Battalion adds a new motto: “Connecticut’s Own,” that will be used with the regimental motto of “Servabo Fidem,” or “I will keep faith.”

Also, the battalion will fly the Connecticut state flag alongside the U.S. flag and the battalion colors wherever in the world it is — whether at Bamberg’s Warner Barracks or deployed across the globe. Recently, the unit displayed the Connecticut flag while deployed to Czech Republic for a training exercise, Tierney said.

Read the whole piece here.
“We’re out doing something good here,” said Pfc. Josh Rogers, 25, adding he was “kind of shocked” to learn of the change in mission. “We have no training for this at all.”

But the soldiers are learning quickly and have tackled the job with a zeal he’s not seen before, said battalion commander Lt. Col. Jeff Lieb, 41, who pitched in to lift 120-pound boxes of munitions — leading by example.

The soldiers have learned the proper way to stack rocket propelled grenades and to stay away from ammunition labeled with a black band, indicating the presence of highly explosive white phosphorous.

“Make no mistake about it, this is a dangerous mission,” Lieb said.

Read it all here.

I think most folks who have never worn the uniform may not understand certain aspects of why this mission might be one of extreme danger.

Previously we have discussed here the fact that a peacekeeping mission robs the US Army of two great advantages...its speed (and therefore its ability to seize and maintain the initiative.), and its lethality.

But there is more to it than that...a simpler concept we should all understand.

The US Army is not trained for peacekeeping.

Well, let me rephrase that.

The US Army is not trained for peacekeeping at any levels that even remotely approach how well trained they are for warfighting.

Let's examine this a bit.

In 1778, General George Washington, recognizing the shortcomings of the nation's young army, requested assistance from Baron Friedrich von Steuben, a Prussian officer to establish excellence in the ranks.

Through diligence, hard work and "yankee ingenuity" ultimately our Army defeated the British, a major world military power.

And though there have been lapses in training and readiness, generally speaking the US Army has done a good job in what Sun Tsu, in the oldest military treatise in the world, calls the "Art of War".

Consider the outcomes of two world wars once the Yanks entered.

Although many began counting the "savings" to be yielded by the "Peace Dividend" at the end of the cold war, in reality the US Army has been called on to do more, in more places than ever before.

When you are the only effective cop on the beat, well, the shifts get long.

As demonstrated by Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the US Military continues to break new ground - to develop new tactics, and to integrate services into a joint fight unparalleled in history.

Indeed, our senior leaders take a year from their careers to attend the Army War College. They study war.

At Fort Leavenworth there exists a school of the brightest minds in the US Army, the School of Advanced Military Studies, referred to only half jokingly as the Jedi Knights.

Every Army division based in the USA trains every year at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. And when they train, they train at war.

Here in Germany each brigade gets a rotation at the Combat Maneuver Training Center every year. Note that: combat.

The fact is that our Army has not been seriously challenged in recent history. But one can make a good argument that the US Army is currently without peer. At least in combat.

There is an old truism in the Army: Train as you fight. That is, no shortcuts in training, because there can be no shortcuts in war.

The American people understand how good our Army is. But I'm not sure they understand what it takes to make it that good.

It takes training. Serious training. And it takes a professional army, comprised of patriotic men and women who answer the nation's (and increasingly the world's) call and school themselves to learn and understand the Art of War as fully as a physician understands the art of healing.

Because war today isn't a pick-up game. The amazing ground and air weapons systems, information systems and logistics systems are precise and complex. War today can't be won by teaching Johnny to shoot his M1 Carbine, then sending him "over there".

And so we train. To fight.

Now there is an amazing ethos alive in the Army today. It is one that fills Americans with pride when they encounter it.

Nowhere in the entire US Army will one ever hear one utter the phrase "it can't be done".

In fact, as if to prove the point, the motto of the V Corps, currently in Iraq, is "It will be done."

It is an interesting result of the Army culture, and Army training, that soldiers believe in themselves and their mates to the extent that they simply assume they can do anything.

All around the Army you will hear it in common phrases and mottos. Can-do. Whatever it Takes. No Mission Too Tough. All the Way.

We saw it recently in the story about the 16th Engineer Brigade in Baghdad...when guys trained in bulldozing to create large flat spaces, or berms of earth, (called horizontal construction in Army speak) built and raised a radio tower in the midst of Baghdad.

They weren't trained for that. But the mission called for it. "Can-do, Sir."

In fact when you hear a soldier exclaim that he wasn't trained for a given job, usually it is a statement of pride. "...but I'm doing it anyway, and succeeding" is implied.

And for years it was said that it was precisely this flexibility - this Yankee Ingenuity - of our forces that stymied the leadership of the army of the Soviet Union. "We study US warfighting doctrine", one Soviet General was quoted as saying, "but the Americans never follow it."

So our forces have this marvelous Can-Do attitude. A professional soldier needs nothing more than to know that there is a mission to be done. And that soldier will pack up, leave home and family, and go do it.

Even if he's not trained for it.

Peacekeeping isn't war. We are good at war...but peacekeeping isn't war.

And we are not trained. Not like we are for war.

We don't have 228 years of experience in peacekeeping.

Sun Tzu never wrote The Art of Peacekeeping.

Jomini never wrote On Peacekeeping.

We don't have a Peacekeeping Maneuver Training Center.

We don't have the Army Peacekeeping College, nor the School for Advanced Peacekeeping Studies.

America expects much of its Army. And America's Army delivers to the best of its training, and beyond...thanks to the Can-Do ethos indegenous to the force.

But in the end there are things that Can-Do can't do.

And that is why this is potentially a very dangerous thing.

'the window of opportunity which occurred with the fall of Saddam was not seized in terms of establishing stability'.

'In the entire region - and Iraq is typical - there is a sense that America can do whatever it wants. So that if America decides to protect the oilfields and oil ministry, it can.

'And if America doesn't provide electricity and water or fails to protect medical supplies, it is because they don't want to or they don't care.'


For me personally this is the frightening piece of the whole thing. Because CPT Patti and her crew have to run supply convoys from time to time around
A South Carolina soldier has died in Iraq after an attack on his military convoy south of Baghdad, officials said Monday.

Army Spc. Orenthial Javon Smith, 21, of Allendale, was killed Sunday. He was a petroleum supply specialist serving with the Army's 1st Armored Division in Iraq.

"He was in a convoy that was ambushed by small arms fire," said Maj. Steve Stover, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon.

The officer confirmed that Spc. Smith served with the 123rd Maintenance Support Battalion based in Dexheim, Germany. He joined the Army in June 1999, Maj. Stover said.

You can see it all here.

UPDATE: Turns out this soldier was on a resupply run to replenish the Gators' stock. He wasn't from our unit...but was providing service to our unit.

We are so sorry.
TUESDAY, JUNE 24th. The 44th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Monday, June 23, 2003

In another key step toward reconstruction, U.S. officials announced early plans to bring back Iraq's army, once one of the Arab world's largest and most experienced.

Recruitment for the new force is to begin next week. An initial division of 12,000 men will be ready within a year and will grow to 40,000 within three years, said Walter Slocombe, a senior adviser for security and defense for the administration.

That would still be a fraction of the Saddam's military force of 400,000.

Slocombe also promised support payments of $50 to $150 per month to up to 250,000 ex-soldiers.

The moved is aimed at stemming anger among former Iraqi army soldiers who lost their livelihood when the U.S.-led administration disbanded the army May 23. Ex-servicemen have since staged several protests, and U.S. troops killed two last Wednesday when one such demonstration turned violent.

"I am pleased to announce this first step in creating an armed force that will be professional, nonpolitical, militarily effective and truly representative of the country," Slocombe said.

No payments would be made to the top four ranks of members of the now-banned Baath party. Anyone receiving funds must renounce Baathism, the political ideology that guided Iraq for more than three decades, even before Saddam came to power in the 1970s.

Read the whole thing here.

If I'd only have put my brain to this a couple of days ago. This is for those of us living in Germany.

Painful as it is, call Deutsche Telekom at 0800-330-1000. Tell them you want "anrufweiterschalltung" (call forwarding to you and me). It will cost you Euro 2.50 per month. Can be activated the same day if you call early in the day.

Alternatively, you may already have this feature and just not know it. If you have are paying for T Net 100 then you already have call forwarding. But you'll have to consult with DT or a knowledgeable friend on how to make it work.

Anyway - once it is in place, forward your home phone to your "handy" everytime you leave the house.

So simple.

The course of today's posting has led me to an email exchange with the author of that beautiful piece (see POWERFULLY MOVING PIECE) below.

And as you will see, I am blessed as a result of it. As part of our correspondence she sent me a copy of a column she wrote in observance of the 25th anniversary of the USA's departure from South Vietnam.

I am tense in this place, watching, watching, watching. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Walter Cronkite is there. It is a memory place lined with newscasts of gray military coffins and American flags, Agent Orange, Army fatigues, protesters spitting on young soldiers, and military funerals in small towns across America.

I am a "waiting wife" in my memory graveyard. My friends are Vietnam protesters. In this place in my memory, my infant son is crying in the background, but I shush him while I tensely watch the television set. Someone sings protest songs in the other room, and my friends speak cruelly of the men such as my young husband who have been sent overseas and emotionally abandoned by their Congress, their president, their friends and their neighbors.

It is here that I remember awaiting, each day, the unmarked Army vehicle, which blessedly never comes to my door.

I know that nearby and faraway across the country, those cars, each with two solemn men who knock on the doors of mothers and wives, are arriving daily. They arrive at the doorsteps of brokenhearted families year after year, from the 1960s to the 70s. There are 58,000 cars which deliver the news to fathers and mothers and wives and fiances who cry out in unspeakable grief as they hear the words. "Your son/husband/father is dead." I am blessed that I never see the death car at my memory's door. But I am sorrowful remembering all those who are met by it at the threshold of heartbreak.

My friends, swap some of the dated specifics in this piece and in many ways she could be speaking of our community today.

Read the whole thing here.

But do it slowly.


For reasons I can't explain sometimes, as today, there is a huge multi-hour delay between the time I update the site and the time the changes actually appear where you can see them.

I don't know why.
“You should have seen it,” said Sgt. Troy Wood, 35, a member of the Idaho Army National Guard who volunteered to deploy to Iraq with the Oregon Guard, which brought 14 boats to Iraq. “We were toting these boats clear across a desert. It was the funniest thing.”

Read this neat story about Guard Guys doing boat patrols in the Tigris River.


Now the Christian Science Monitor does too.
The attacks on American troops are disturbing, but a pattern appears if one considers: (1) the rapid collapse of Iraqi defenses in Baghdad at the war's end, with thousands of regime figures and supporters vanishing; and (2) the location of most of the attacks on US soldiers in the Sunni Muslim region west and north of Baghdad, inhabited by the core supporters of Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime.

It appears that these regime remnants, reportedly well financed and aided by foreign fighters, are organizing guerrilla warfare against US troops. This poses a Vietnam-type problem for the US military: It must root out the guerrillas from the local population without alienating that population in the process.

Read it here.
The future of Iraq may in part depend on soccer balls, jump ropes, and volleyballs.

Half the Iraqi population is under 18. This fact is important to keep in mind amid all the contradictory reports coming out of Iraq these days - that people are jubilant to have freedom but despairing over lack of security and services, resistant to occupation yet reluctant to have troops leave while chaos reigns. It is crucial, therefore, that reconstruction efforts focus on the youth.

If the children of Iraq are at the center of the planning and funding, half the country - the next generation - will be served.

"The kids are the best part of this country," a sunburned US Army sergeant in Baghdad told me. "If we can take care of the kids, the rest will take care of itself." The sergeant, who is from Boston, patrols Baghdad neighborhoods where children frequently run up and surround him, some kissing the patches on his uniform. However, he recounted how one afternoon, a boy around 16 walked toward him waving a pistol.

"Put down the gun!" the sergeant urged. The boy kept coming, still waving the gun, a big smile on his face. "Put it down!" the sergeant insisted, gesturing to the ground, as he tried to assess whether this was just a boy or a potential enemy. "PUT ... IT ... DOWN!" Finally, the boy put the gun down.

"I'd love to get them all to turn in their guns for soccer balls!" the sergeant says now. "Can you get me a thousand soccer balls?"

Read it all here.