Saturday, July 19, 2003

U.S. military in Iraq said on Thursday its troops had uncovered a mass grave near the northern city of Mosul where as many as 400 people, probably Kurds, may be buried.

A military statement said about 25 human remains -- all women and children with bullet holes through the skull -- were uncovered in a valley at al-Hatra town, some 300 km (170 miles) north of Baghdad.

Residents estimate that between 200 and 400 people could be buried there, the statement said, adding the find had been made by the 101st Airborne Division and that Army pathologists had arrived on site on Monday...

The human rights group Amnesty International says it has information about 17,000 disappearances in Iraq over the past 20 years but that the actual figure may be much higher.

Indeed, this story says it could be as high as 300,000.

You can learn about it here.
Troops on the ground in Iraq may not be thrilled with the prospect of spending more time there, but they can take some solace in raking in an extra $500 to $600 a month, thanks to several different salary supplements.

Since the Pentagon has designated Iraq a combat zone, where death and dismemberment are ever-present threats, soldiers are eligible for a bonus known as hostile fire pay/ imminent danger pay.

When the latest Gulf War began, HFP/IDP amounted to $150 per month. However, an April spending bill bumped up the payments by $75, to $225 per month.

The raise is scheduled to vanish in October, however, unless Congress acts to make it permanent.

Please note the last line.

Do you believe that hostile fire pay/imminent danger pay needs to be reduced in October?

Neither do I.

Contact your congressmen, please.
A team of reconstruction experts led by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) spent 12 days traveling through much of Iraq to research the report. Although many of the recommendations in the report’s shopping list were predictable (the need for dependable utility services, jobs, etc.), the underlying central theme of the report is that the U.S. is going to have to put its money where its mouth is – and very soon:

Among its recommendations:

Develop a series of work initiatives to keep Iraqis from being idle, with a particular emphasis on young, urban populations.

Get and keep state-owned enterprises up and running in the short-term to provide employment, while developing a clear medium and long-term plan for privatizing those enterprises.

Start micro-credit programs in all provinces immediately, placing a special emphasis on lending to women.

The CPA should do whatever is necessary to improve provision of basic services, such as electricity, water, and sanitation.

Begin developing follow-on for the oil-for-food program, as a food shortage caused by any disruption will cause a national protest. This must include the transparent handling of obligated resources under the program.

The CPA should involve Iraqis personally in the success of Iraq’s oil industry. Personal bank accounts or trust funds funded by oil revenues should be developed, to catalyze the banking system and get cash to the public.
Anti-American violence in the city of Fallujah, where U.S. soldiers faced dozens of attacks in May and June, has come to a virtual halt, the commander of U.S. forces there said Friday.

Maj. Gen. Buford C. Blount III, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, told reporters at his Baghdad headquarters that the drop in attacks has enabled him to reduce troops in Fallujah by 50 percent.

He declined to provide exact troop levels, but said as an example of the cutbacks the number at 24-hour guard posts in the city has dropped from 300 to 150. He also has withdrawn half the soldiers in the city's police headquarters.

Third Infantry soldiers moved into Fallujah in early June, after units from the 82nd Airborne, followed by the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, faced a series of attacks.

Blount said the number of attacks on his soldiers there has fallen from 20-25 a week about two months ago to zero this week.


He said it was up to the soldiers' direct commanders to decide if they should be punished.

"None of us that wear this uniform are free to say anything disparaging about the secretary of defense, or the president of the United States," he added.

Gen Abizaid gave his first press conference as CENTCOM commander on Wednesday. I watched it live on the Pentagon Channel.

And the first impression I had was that for all his talents as a soldier, a warrior and a leader...he came across as stiff, stilted and unfriendly.

Contrast that to GEN Tommy Franks down home, but very confident style.

My point isn't to criticize GEN Abizaid but rather to say I believe his press-conference demeanor will not endear him to the press. And therefore he will likely never get the benefit of the doubt.

I see evidence of that in the news since the press conference as the stories are headlined as "Complaining Soldiers May Face Punishment".

Consider what those headlines will do to morale in Iraq.

I perceive the sympathies of the American public to be with the soldiers of the 3d ID. And I believe that those among us who care to examine the situation fully believe that the 3d ID is still in Iraq and still losing soldiers because our military is not large enough to handle all the missions upon its back at the moment.

If it were, the rotation of troops would have begun two months ago.

And so, the 3d ID is still in the crosshairs long after they should have come home owing to the failure of the Pentagon and the Congress to ensure the military has the force structure it needs to do the nations bidding.

So, while GEN Abizaid is technically correct in each of his assertions, the technical correctness rings harsh in the ears of those of us who care. And the media will most assuredly continue to spin him badly.

I hope he'll soften his edges a bit in the future.

Fifty-five year old Tennessee National Guardsman gave his all.
In the center was a snapshot of a gray-haired Rowe, grinning and enveloped by his grandchildren. Ribbons dangling below spelled out their names -- Brandon, Chandler, Zachary, Bryant, Hannah, Eli and Chase. In white carnations were the words: "Papa's Pride."

"He lived for his grandchildren. They brought out the kid in him," said Mart Rowe, one of Sgt. Rowe's four children. "Sometimes we had to tell him to quit running around the pool and chasing them with a bucket of water."

They all live nearby -- some just down the street -- and spent most weekends together. Rowe had built a huge deck around the swimming pool for the grandchildren, who ranged in age from 2 to 10, and planned to build a large clubhouse when he returned.


And hope that it will be less than a year.
The military will announce a rotation plan for U.S. troops in Iraq sometime next week, Pentagon sources told CNN Friday.

Sources said the plan would identify which troops would replace the remainder of the battle-weary 3rd Infantry Division. Sources said the replacements would be "active duty Army troops."

"The first systemic opinion poll of Iraq," the Spectator stated, "finds a population full of anxiety — but also convinced that war has made their future brighter."

The magazine said the pollsters were hard-pressed "to disengage from a stream of additional comments."

"Far from being nervous about being interviewed, they [Iraqis] wanted to say more and more. This place seemed ripe for some kind of democracy."

Vacation Bible School collects school supplies for Iraqi kids.
It fit perfectly into the Bible school's "Lighthouse Kids" theme which reflects Ephesians 5:8, which teaches children "to shine God's light" on the darkness in the world.

"We have a big canoe that we've brought into the sanctuary," Betty Jo says, "and we have an ocean scene, and we're trying to fill our canoe with our kits."

So the children are busy packing a "school" kit with paper, a 12-inch ruler, pencils, an eraser, a pencil sharpener, scissors and construction paper or a "health" kit with a washcloth, towel, bar of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, adhesive bandages and a nail clipper.

This year's Vacation Bible School started last Sunday and will end tonight, "and we should have our boat full by then," she says. Each evening's session has opened at 5:30 with a discussion "of what we're doing and where the kits are going and why."


One of ours.

But based on this story, the location suggests it is not 1st Brigade.
July 19, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-58



BAGHDAD, Iraq – A 1st Armored Division soldier died from injuries received from a small arms and rocket-propelled grenade attack that occurred in the Abu Ghuraib neighborhood July 19 at approximately 1:30 a.m.

The soldier was providing fixed site security at a bank when the unit came under attack. The soldier was evacuated to a nearby aid station and subsequently died.

The soldier's name is being withheld pending next-of-kin notification.
SATURDAY, JULY 19th. The 69th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Year-long deployments, a norm during the Vietnam War, have been rare in recent years. The 1st Armored Division served in Bosnia for a year during the 1990s, Abizaid said.

''So we've done it before, and we can do it again,'' he said.

In Viet Nam the Army could rely on the draft to refill the ranks of those who exited the army and never looked back after being deployed for a year. (Thanks to Iowa Purchasing Agent Girl for that reminder)

In Bosnia we weren't talking about half the combat power of the active Army. Bosnia is inside the European Command (EUCOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR). And the Army decided that EUCOM would deal with that with indigenous forces, maintaining the global distribution of forces in pretty much a status quo.

Iraq on the other hand, has redistributed the combat power of the US Army in ways that seriously expose our flanks. Do we want that for an entire year?

And finally, the "we've done it before, and we can do it again" argument is fallacious.

Imagine if the Florida legislature said with regard to butterfly punch-card ballots, "we've used 'em before and we can use 'em again."

Sure we can. But isn't the question "should we?"

Critics of military intervention in Iraq got much of their pre-war intelligence wrong. The 250,000 deaths predicted did not happen. Nor the refugee crisis. Nor the cholera epidemic. Baghdad did not become a replay of Stalingrad, nor was the Arab world set aflame.

To make this point is not to accuse opponents of the war of lies, deception or propaganda. Doubtless, many of these same people would be greatly relieved that some of the more exaggerated pre-war fears were to prove unfounded.

For others, however, the war over Iraq is far from over. Just as Saddam's "bitter-enders" are mounting a ferocious guerilla campaign against US forces in an effort to sabotage moves towards economic reconstruction and political reform, so too are revisionists on the march in the US, Britain and Australia. Their aim? To discredit the war in Iraq as unjustified and immoral.

On the basis of a disputed British Government claim that Iraq had sought to buy uranium in Africa, there is an attempt under way to rewrite the record to read something like this: leaders of three of the world's oldest democracies lied to their people about the reasons for going to war; concocted evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; and exaggerated the nature of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime in order to provoke conflict.

It is becoming the mother of all conspiracy theories, worthy of a Comical Ali. That it appears to be gaining traction - and not just among the partisan critics of George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard - goes to show just how out of touch with reality the debate has become.

Put it that way and the whole thing seems just a bit silly, now doesn't it?
U-S Army engineers have apparently defused what they describe as a huge homemade bomb found on a highway near the Baghdad airport.

It was discovered during a routine daybreak patrol not far from where a soldier was killed during an attack on a military vehicle earlier this week. The device was in a burlap sack inside a container used to make blocks of ice.

An army officer says it was wired to what he calls a remote-controlled doorbell ringer.

Another officer says the bomb was wired to what looked like two car batteries. He was helping to block traffic on roads near the bomb, snarling traffic throughout western Baghdad.

Soldiers searched nearby homes, but made no arrests.

A disturbing headline, but a great story.
Army Spc. Marsha Sage never expected to see her husband on the road to Baghdad. But there he was: blowing kisses at her from a passing tank.

"That was something I'll never forget," said the 23-year-old Sage, one of about 300 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division soldiers who returned Thursday to Fort Benning.

Her husband, Spc. Ian Sage, a communications specialist with 2nd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, a tank battalion, returned earlier this week. He embraced his wife on American soil for the first time in seven months.

The two talked about the chance encounter on the road outside Nasiriyah the day after the war began.

"A tire fell off my Humvee -- I mean it just fell off -- and I was on the road fixing it," said Marsha Sage, a mechanic with the brigade's 317th Engineer Battalion. "The 2-69 was passing by and I waved at a sergeant. He radioed my husband and he rolled by later blowing kisses at me."

It is apparently quite the lucrative occupation...
A platoon of the 1st Armored Division raided a home in Baghdad yesterday, arrested a suspected bombmaker and confiscated about $100,000 in Iraqi currency.

"I definitely believe he was here to make explosive devices," 1st Lt. Kevin Kirchgraber said of the suspect, who claimed to be a banana wholesaler.

"We found bananas. We also found what we believe to be a mercury switch for a bomb," Kirchgraber said. "He told us he was a banana merchant. Yeah, right."


We haven't been tracking here all the shrill rhetoric over "the 16 words" in the State of the Union address.

But this is eerie.
British police found a body on Friday matching that of a mild-mannered scientist who disappeared after becoming unwittingly embroiled in a furious political dispute about the Iraq war.

The softly spoken 59-year-old had been thrust into the limelight by a row over whether the British government hyped the threat from Iraq in order to justify joining the U.S.-led war.

Kelly, a microbiologist at the Defence Ministry who had worked for U.N. inspectors in Iraq, had been grilled by parliamentarians on Tuesday after admitting he spoke to a reporter for Britain's BBC radio.

The reporter, Andrew Gilligan, said in May a senior intelligence source had told him the government ''sexed up'' data to emphasise the threat from Iraq.

Kelly's discomfort in the spotlight was evident from his demeanour at the foreign affairs committee hearing.

Speaking so softly he could barely be heard, he admitted he had met Gilligan but denied telling him Blair's communications chief Alastair Campbell had ordered intelligence on suspected Iraqi banned weapons to be hyped.

Whether he told the reporter the report wash hyped we will probably never know.

But notice that only after testifying before the foreign affairs committee and denying he said it was hyped did he wind up missing and dead.

Does someone want PM Blair and President Bush to hang so badly they were willing to kill the witness before he could validate the report was real?
Ninety-six Iraqi policemen on Wednesday rejoined the force protecting the streets of the country’s largest city. They had completed a three-week course conducted by U.S. forces and designed to teach them methods and procedures used by police officers in America.

North Korean soldiers fired four rounds at about 6:10 a.m. and South Korean border guards fired 17 rounds in response about a minute later after broadcasting warnings, said Maj. Lee Tong-chan, South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman. He said the incident occurred near Yonchon, about 40 miles north of Seoul.

Is having half your warfighting divisions in Iraq like having one arm tied behind your back?

Might find out.
July 17, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-53


MOSUL, Iraq – The remains of an estimated 200 people were found by soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) recently in a mass grave in Al Hatra, about 40 miles south of Mosul.

A mass grave assessment team, including members of the division's Criminal Investigation Division and Division Surgeon sections, confirmed the find by partially excavating the site located on a slight depression on the edge of a wadi, or dry riverbed.

Two pieces of clothing were found at approximately six-feet deep and multiple remains were uncovered at approximately 10-feet deep. About 25 sets of human remains were pulled from the hole, with an unknown number still buried.

According to reports gathered from local civilians and estimates based on the size of the depression as many as 200 to 400 bodies could be buried there.

The team now has help from specialists from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, a Department of Defense asset, which arrived in Mosul July 14.

July 17, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-54


BAGHDAD, Iraq – The 4th Infantry Division seized an extensive amount of weapons in Operation Soda Mountain in support of the effort to create a secure environment in Iraq.

In the last 24 hours, the 4th Infantry Division conducted 14 raids which resulted in 282 AK 47s, 501 grenades, 10 pistols, 20 mortar rounds, 54 crates of C4 explosives, 250,000 blasting caps, and a large amount of small arms ammunition confiscated and 30 individuals detained.

Since the beginning of the operation on July 12, the 4th ID has conducted 85 raids and detained 482 individuals, including 48 individuals identified as key former regime loyalist leaders.

The 1st Armored Division secured 437 sites and conducted 1,059 patrols. The division detained 61 people. Additionally, the 1st AD conducted 92 special escort missions. Some of the special escort missions include escorting members of the New Iraqi Army to their training sites, escorting VIP visitors escorting new Baghdad city council members and escorting government employees.

Elsewhere, Coalition forces continued aggressive patrols throughout the country over the last 24 hours conducting 40 raids, 1,048-day patrols and 844-night patrols. They also
jointly patrolled with the Iraqi Police conducting 158-day patrols and 137-night patrols. Independently, the Iraqi Police conducted eight-day patrols and two night patrols.

The total raids and patrols resulted in 206 arrests for various criminal activities including four for murder, five for car jacking, 10 for aggravated assault, 13 for burglary and two for looting.

July 18, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-55


AL HAMISHIYAH, Iraq -- A Navy sailor from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force died yesterday from a non-hostile gunshot wound.

The sailor was treated at the scene but died before arriving at a nearby medical facility.

The sailor’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The incident is under investigation.

July 18, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-56


BAGHDAD, Iraq – Operation Soda Mountain ended on July 17 with Coalition forces successfully achieving the objectives of neutralizing subversive individuals and removing potential enemy weapons from Iraq.

Coalition forces conducted 141 raids resulting in 611 individuals detained, including 62 former regime leaders. Additionally, Coalition forces captured 4,297 mortar rounds, 1,346 rocket-propelled grenades and 635 weapons as well as various other weapons.

Operation Soda Mountain, which followed Operations Peninsula Strike, Desert Scorpion and Sidewinder, continued the common purpose to deter, disrupt or defeat enemy attacks. Additionally, the operation served to identify and fund additional stability projects designed to provide or enhance long-term stability throughout Iraq.

In other activity, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) continued training and equipping Iraqi security forces, the Iraqi police force, New Iraqi Army personnel, Iraqi Border Guards, Facility Protection Services, Joint Integrated Security Company and the New Iraqi Security Forces, in order to transition responsibilities for a safe and secure environment to an Iraqi force.

The 1st Armored Division continued to support the payments to former members of the Iraqi Army by providing security. To date, more than 9,000 former soldiers have been paid.

Elsewhere, Coalition forces continued aggressive patrols throughout the country over the last 24 hours conducting 25 raids, 1,128-day patrols and 938-night patrols. They also
jointly patrolled with the Iraqi Police conducting 131-day patrols and 151-night patrols. Independently, the Iraqi Police conducted nine-day patrols.

The total raids and patrols resulted in 270 arrests for various criminal activities including one for murder, one for kidnapping, five for car jacking, 10 for aggravated assault, eight for burglary and seven for looting.

July 18, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-57


FALLUJAH, Iraq – A 3rd Infantry Division soldier was killed today as his vehicle passed an Improvised Explosive Device west of Fallujah.

The vehicle was traveling east near a traffic circle when a command-detonated IED exploded, causing a one-and-a-half foot crater in the road. The vehicle took the brunt of the impact. The vehicle crossed two lanes and went off the edge of the road.

No other soldiers were wounded in the attack.

The name of the soldier is being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin.


Here are some comments from our adopt-a-soldier volunteers.

"I would like to adopt one or two soldiers from the group. The thought of these soldiers not receiving anything while they are overseas breaks my heart. Please let me know how I can get the process started."

"Thanks for getting me two soldiers to support. I am so excited!!!! I can't wait to go shopping."

"We're on it. If you have more "uncovered" soldiers, let us know and we'll find folks to
step up."

"Would love to Tim...send me the particulars!!!."

"Please feel free to give me any name and address and it will be my honor to provide any assistance."

"I would be delighted to sponsor a soldier. Please send me the information and I will get something out to them soon as possible."

"Sir I would be honored to support a soldier. I am a soldier myself. My husband is stationed in Kuwait right now. My mother would also like to sponsor one as well. Thanks."

"It would be an honor to sponsor any soldier. Please provide with guidance what needs to be done."

"Sign me up!"

"Good luck with your efforts."

"Count me in Tim! Dan and I would be proud to sponsor one :-) "

"Sir, I would love to sponsor a soldier, send me all the details."

"Got It Sir. He will be well taken care of. I'll also provide him enough for a few of his buddies."

"I am getting ready to send my son a package to Bagdad. I can't imagine being in a place like that and not receiving any outside support. I would like to adopt a soldier in Iraq. God Bless our troops!"

Note how many times these folks say they are "honored" or "proud" to support our soldiers.

God bless you all.

I've spent a large part of the day organizing our unit's Adopt-A-Soldier program.

The company First Sergeant sent us a list of 13 names last weekend. These soldiers were receiving nothing in the way of care packages from home.

How can that happen? Well, in at least one case the soldier is part of a dual military couple, and both are deployed to Baghdad.

In other cases, well, some folks come from backgrounds that aren't like yours or mine.

And so we've arranged to have these soldiers "adopted".

As of today, we have at least 2 sponsors for each soldier.

That's a 200 % improvement over this time last week.

Way to go volunteers.
FRIDAY, JULY 18th. The 68th day of CPT Patii's deployment.

She says the heat, the stress, and the never ending work with no time off is beginning to take its toll on her and her troops.

Imagine then how much more awful it is for the 3d ID.

Thursday, July 17, 2003


Though you rarely see this side covered in the press.
Wednesday's attacks came on the eve of an important holiday during Saddam Hussein's regime that marked the 1968 coup establishing Iraq as a one-party Baathist state. U.S. forces had been warned of a possible upsurge in assaults.

Even on a typical day, a dozen or so attacks take place; overall, relatively few have resulted in U.S. fatalities.

"A curse upon the people making these attacks," said Sayef's grandmother Hasiba Debagh, crying and striking her chest in grief as she waited to learn whether the boy had died. No one had yet told her, but she already feared the worst. "God should not spare them," she said of the attackers. "The Americans are doing their best."

"Just look at this mess," said Jawad Hamed, whose son Qusai Jawad was among the injured. "Of course it is them — those people," he said, referring to loyalists of Hussein's regime.

"Iraqis are just furious because a lot of Iraqis are being hurt," said Motes Mohsen, a bank guard. "Iraqis are hurt more than the Americans."

Story is at The Los Angeles Times. Registration required.
The airport, closed to commercial traffic since the war, houses the offices of the U.S. military's top commanders, who often travel down the road to Baghdad for meetings with the U.S. civilians overseeing the occupation of Iraq. When the airport reopens to commercial flights, the road will be a vital link in the rebuilding of Iraq; its safety will be crucial for merchants, contractors, diplomats, humanitarian relief officials and others.

A senior military official said U.S. forces were "paying special attention" to the road because of its significance and had sharply increased security there. "It's a very important route," he said. "Given the amount of military traffic on the road, it's an obvious target."

The task of securing the road has fallen to the 1457th Engineer Battalion, a National Guard unit based in American Fork, Utah. Four companies of engineers and heavy equipment -- bulldozers, front-end loaders and dump trucks -- arrived here at the end of May.

They have worked to secure the roadsides and the median strip, which are both wide and thick with trees and bushes. They have filled in trenches, destroyed abandoned guardhouses, cleared and burned thick brush and removed unexploded ordnance and land mines -- some newly planted to kill U.S. forces, some dating back decades.

Read about the National Guardsmen tasked to clear and defend that road here.

Click on the link to the Army Times and once there, click on the Frontline Photos section.

Good photos from around the services. You may just see someone you know.
Ninety-six U.S.-trained Iraqi police officers became the first graduates from Baghdad's new police academy on Wednesday. Now they face the task of restoring order in postwar Iraq.
He and his wingman headed out of Baghdad and sought American lines.

"It was physically hard (to fly the plane), Ewald said. "I was manipulating everything with all the muscles in my body. I had flight control problems, I had engine problems, I had fuel-flow problems, I had hydraulic problems … not to mention that I had an airplane that was disintegrating.

I looked back once and I could see little parts falling off the engine and I thought, 'I really don't know what that is, but I think I need it.'"

Great story. Read it all here.

There is some good news and some not so good news.

And one wonders just what the Arabs would attribute all their troubles too but for oil and the Jews.
THREE in four Baghdad residents say the city is now more dangerous than when Saddam Hussein was in power, and most locals think Britain and America went to war to take Iraq's oil, according to a new survey.

However, the Channel 4 News and the Spectator survey shows that, despite these deep concerns, only a minority oppose the coalition invasion, and as few as one in eight wants the invaders to leave the country straight away.

Among the findings of the YouGov poll of almost 800 people throughout Baghdad last week was that Iraqis want the occupying troops to restore normality quickly and then hand the country back to the Iraqis.

A total of 50% said they believed the war against Saddam's regime was right - just 27% said it was wrong.

Offered a list of five possible reasons for the war, 47% said it was "to secure oil supplies", 41% said it was "to help Israel" and just 23% said the allies' aim was "to liberate the people of Iraq".

U.S. forces were on heightened alert for new trouble Thursday, marking the anniversary of the 1968 Baathist revolution that enabled Saddam Hussein's political party to rise to power -- sparking rumors that the fallen leader would make some sort of public appearance.

As troops were on the lookout for possible trouble, senior defense officials told Fox News that U.S. troops discovered documents from the Iraqi secret police, known as the Mukhabarat, stating that the current rash of postwar attacks, ambushes and organized chaos against coalition forces were planned months before the war in Iraq even began.

Though these documents have not been officially confirmed, the officials say the documents map out how to battle coalition troops after the fall of Hussein's regime, and that these secret police orders were the plan all along...

The eve of the holiday saw a marked escalation in attacks that killed an American soldier and the U.S.-allied mayor of an Iraqi city -- a chilling warning to Iraqis who cooperate with Americans.

Read the rest here.
Suspected pro-Saddam Hussein insurgents fired a surface-to-air missile at a U.S. military C-130 transport plane as it landed at Baghdad International Airport Wednesday, but missed the target, a coalition military spokesman said.

The attack occurred at 8:45 a.m. The military said it was investigating but would give no further details about whether the plane was carrying passengers or cargo.


This time from the CENTCOM commander.

Wonder what Rumsfeld will have to say about this.
Abizaid said U.S. and coalition forces face a "classical guerrilla-type campaign," the first time that description has been used by a high-ranking official. Before yesterday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other officials said there was no coordination, widespread attacks or support from the population that typifies guerrilla operations.

Rumsfeld chided reporters recently for using the terms "guerrilla warfare" or "quagmire," which he implied conjure up images of Vietnam. "There are so many cartoons where people, press people, are saying, 'Is it Vietnam yet?' hoping it is and wondering if it is," Rumsfeld said. "And it isn't. It's a different time. It's a different era. It's a different place."

About the same time, the commander of the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq strongly rejected the suggestion that U.S. troops were facing guerrilla warfare. "It's not close to guerrilla warfare because it's not coordinated, it's not organized and it's not led," said Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno.

But Abizaid yesterday assessed the situation differently. "I think that describing it as guerrilla tactics being against us is, you know, a proper thing," he said.

Almost everywhere American patrols go in Baghdad, they’re greeted by smiling and waving Iraqi children. When they see a camera, they demand to get a picture taken. Sgt. George McGraw, a medic with the 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment that’s part of the 1st Armored Division’s 1st Brigade, was happy to pose with them.

Photo credit: Kent Harris / Stars & Stripes

Read this detailed story about an evening on patrol
The patrol is winding down when Neuzil tells Adams to stop. He’s spotted a nice new car, without license plates, parked in a neighborhood that’s not so nice.

The Humvees stop, the soldiers get out and the residents looking down from a third-story balcony start a conversation with George.

Soon, all the men of the household — as well as those from neighboring homes — are gathered around the soldiers downstairs. One of them starts up the car, offers an explanation and the soldiers are satisfied.

But before the soldiers can leave, the residents start to tell them about a drive-by shooting a few nights earlier.

Someone driving a car — loosely matching the description of someone soldiers had heard of causing problems before — had gone by with guns blazing. The residents produce a child, who they say was hit in the head, and was lucky to survive. His mother was shot in the shoulder, the translator says.

The soldiers ask for a description. The residents can provide only scant information. Neuzil, seeing that he’s not going to get any details that will help catch anyone, obviously wants to get going again. But he stays a few more minutes to hear them out.

U.S. forces deploying to Iraq could go for as long as one year, Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, said Wednesday.

“I think if you look at contemplating keeping the force structure stable for a while until the security situation improves, that yearlong deployments are possible for certain units,” Abizaid said Wednesday at his first appearance at a Pentagon press briefing.

“Looking at what I contemplate being the force levels for a while, probably for the next 90 days, we need to probably say to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, ‘Here’s the maximum extent of your deployment. If we can get you home sooner, we will,’” Abizaid said.

Yearlong deployments were common practice during Vietnam, but had been scaled to typical six-month deployments in recent history. But they’re not unprecedented, he said.

The 1st Armored Division, based primarily in Germany, pulled a nearly yearlong deployment to Bosnia and Herzegovina, from December 1995 to November 1996.

“We’ve done it before, and we can do it again,” Abizaid said.

Being up front with troops about their end-dates will be a key point Abizaid plans to discuss with his military leaders when he travels to the region tomorrow, he said.

His promise comes on the heels of fever-pitch tensions surrounding the redeployment dates for soldiers of the Fort Stewart, Ga.-based 3rd Infantry Division, who twice have been told they were going home, only to have hopes dashed when word trickled down that their homecomings were being delayed [see story at right].

“We will bring those troops home by September, certainly out of Iraq by September, and they’ll be moving towards home in September,” he said.

“And a lot of it, of course, will depend upon the rotational scheme that either the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps or allied coalition forces happen to submit to us in the next week. But we’ll know the specific answers to the questions in about a week.”

Their return to the United States was delayed because of, in part, intelligence reports in which U.S. military officials expected an escalation of violence in central Iraq between July 14 and 18, the anniversary period for several Iraqi military events. “... [W]e could expect a lot of activity from Ba’athist government [supporters], and we were picking up a lot of information that indicated there were significant terrorist groups and activities we were having to be concerned about as well,” Abizaid said.

“I believe there’s midlevel Baathist, Iraqi intelligence service people, Special Security Organization people, Special Republican Guard people that have organized at the regional level in cellular structure and are conducting what I would describe as a classical guerrilla-type campaign against us,” Abizaid said. “It’s low-intensity conflict, in our doctrinal terms, but it’s war, however you describe it.”

He said he reported to Pentagon leaders that “it would not be prudent at that time” to diminish the force presence, which consists of roughly 148,000 U.S. forces and 13,000 coalition forces.

Abizaid, who assumed leadership of CENTCOM July 7 from retired Gen. Tommy Franks, echoed the Pentagon’s assertions that two brigades of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division left in Iraq will be heading home by September.

CENTCOM has not posted any additional news releases beyond those already shown below.
THURSDAY, JULY 17th. The 67th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

"The timing of how long the coalition stays here is now effectively in the hands of the Iraqi people," the administrator, L. Paul Bremer, said at a news conference here.

The 25-member, U.S.-appointed council, which was formed over the weekend, has the power to set up a commission that would recommend to the occupation authority how a constitution should be written.

Once the commission provides its views, U.S. officials said, the occupation authority, with the advice of the council, will select a group of Iraqis to draft the constitution. When it is finished, the document will be put to a national referendum. If it is approved, elections will be held and Iraq's first democratic government will take office.

"Then our job -- the coalition's job -- will be done," Bremer said. "We have no desire to stay any longer than necessary."

Although Bremer did not venture an estimate of how long the whole process would take, several U.S. officials and Iraqi political leaders have said it would require at least a year, perhaps two, to seat a new government. "We're talking about 18 months to two years from now," said Mowaffak Rubaie, a member of the council...

Di Rita added that a rotation system for replacing U.S. forces in Iraq with units based in the United States would involve Army forces and possibly Marines.

Analysts and defense officials said the system being developed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff could involve the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Tex.; the 25th Infantry Division, based in Hawaii; a new Stryker Brigade based at Fort Lewis, Wash., that should be certified for deployment this fall; and a half-dozen National Guard brigades...

In its meeting today -- the second since it was formed on Sunday -- the Governing Council said it would set up a special court to try former members of Hussein's government.

"We're going to put on trial everybody who committed crimes against humanity, everyone who committed genocide, everyone who committed a war crime," said Entifadh Qanbar, a senior official of the Iraqi National Congress, whose leader, Ahmed Chalabi, is a member of the council. Qanbar said the court would seek to try Hussein if he is captured, along with other top leaders of the former government, several of whom are already in U.S. custody.

The formation of the interim council shows that the U.S. is not pursuing any imperial dreams in Iraq. But this should not mean a short-term commitment by Washington, either. Many Iraqis believe that the U.S. presence is needed for years, during which a new generation of leaders can grow in a democratic and pluralist atmosphere.

"Frankly, I would prefer the United States to rule directly for several years," says Ghassan Aityah, one of Iraq's most respected intellectuals. "Having widely traveled in Iraq recently and talked to people from all walks of life, I can tell you that Iraqis trust the U.S. more than our own politicians."

Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the American public will support any U.S. involvement in ruling Iraq beyond the next two to three years. Thus, Bremer has little time in which to transform a society shaped by almost half a century of despotism into one based on pluralism and power-sharing.

Interesting stuff. Read it all here.
Coalition troops are dug in and watching their backs across much of Iraq, but in some parts of the country the crowds are still offering hugs and kisses, not gunshots.

At a church in Baghdad on Friday, young mothers brought their babies over to be photographed with a small group of soldiers, children squealed with delight and scrambled all around the Humvees, and older people sent their regards to George Bush.

"We are extremely happy for their liberation of our country. We were waiting a very long time, and we are sure [the Americans] will bring us a happier future for us, and particularly for the Christians," said Jacqueline Joseph, who put her 5-month-old son Laith into the arms of Sergeant First Class Jim Caldwell.

"This is just the third time in over 100 days we've gotten the chance to go out and meet some people. It makes it all worthwhile," said Caldwell, who is from Savannah, Ga., and part of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division...

"The American soldiers, they were very kind to us. They helped us with rebuilding a fence," said Siad Abraham, a groundskeeper at the Hamdullah and Toma Mosque in Baghdad, who said the troops based nearby also helped provide security to the mosque.

And across religious and ethnic divides, the coalition forces still have the potential to capitalize on their role in following after an especially brutal dictator.

"Saddam was like a vampire. He needed blood all the time," Abraham said.

Back at the Baghdad church, Abdul Masih said, "Give my peace to Mr. Bush.

"I love him," he added. "He saved us from the criminal."


Progress, though slow, is still progress.
Baghdad's dilapidated hospitals are on the mend but patchy power supplies, rampant looting and shortages of medicine are slowing their recovery.

Doctors at some of the Iraqi capital's main hospitals said on Wednesday generous aid packages have boosted their stock of basic supplies and helped restore water and electricity.

But security lapses and the lack of specialised equipment and drugs were still hampering their ability to treat the thousands of patients streaming through their doors every day.

''Our problems are the problems of Iraq,'' said Dr. Ahmed Abdul Fattah, a chief administrator at the Central Teaching Hospital for Children, one of the biggest in the country...

Hospital staff conceded conditions were better under Saddam's rule despite the crippling U.N. sanctions levied on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

But nobody is keen to relive those days of relative luxury.

''As long as that man and his regime are gone, then we are most certainly better off,'' said Yarmouk Hospital's Salman.

It's not all bad, though.

In Saddam's time, the mere act of pointing at something -- a building, a person -- risked attracting the attention of a secret policeman. Now people freely jab their index fingers on the streets. To a visitor returning, it's something of a shock.

Another shock: Car windows are adorned with glossy portraits of Imam Ali and Imam Hussein, Shiite Islam's most revered saints, depicted as green- or brown-eyed, beautifully coifed, lips sensual, lashes perfectly combed. Saddam, a secular Sunni, banned such images.

In Nimo Dinkha's beauty salon, whose customers included Saddam's second wife, Samira Shahbandar, the power was out and the room was dark and stuffy. An assistant was shaping a customer's eyebrows while another fanned her with a promotional brochure for shampoo.

An elderly woman came in asking to have her hair colored. "I don't have any water," snapped Dinkha. "I can put the dye on but you'll have to do the rinse at home."

Although her body glistened with sweat, Dinkha was one of the few Iraqis I met who did not mind the discomforts of her new life.

"Saddam is out of our lives. This is a small price to pay," she said.

"I wish I could hang him outside the salon so that every Iraqi who has been hurt by him would have the chance to slice off a piece of him," she added.

At the mention of Saddam, the dozen women in the salon erupted with stories of atrocities: rape, disappearances, torture, mass graves.

"When Saddam's wife came here, we pretended we didn't know who she was," said Dinkha. "We were too scared to bring up the subject."

"I swear to God, Baghdad is a beautiful girl, but her clothes are dirty,'' Ghani, Iraq's most celebrated living sculptor, said slowly, tugging on his shirt. "Her hair is tangled,'' he added, "but her nature is still beautiful.''...

In Ali Baba Square stands his statue of Kahramana, the medieval hero's maidservant who killed the 40 thieves. Among the towering reeds of the Tigris River, his bronze Scheh-erazade stands vigil over once-libertine Abu Nawas Street, telling her stories over 1,001 nights to a reclining Schahriah...

"You cannot say you're glad the war happened. But life had to change,'' said Ghani, one of the few prominent Iraqi artists who never succumbed to pressure to join the Baath Party.

"Everyone was waiting for the moment for the party to go, for Saddam to go.'' The car passed portraits of Saddam, still standing in the streets even after their subject's visage had been torn off, doused in white paint or riddled with bullet holes.

Slogans that once declared "God preserve Saddam and Iraq'' are now missing his name.

In Iraq, assailants attacked a U.S. military convoy on a highway north of Baghdad on Wednesday, killing one soldier and wounding two others. U.S. military officials tell VOA that a convoy of about 30 military vehicles, traveling north on Highway One, came under small arms fire and was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades early Wednesday.

The attack came on the anniversary of the date, in 1979, that Saddam Hussein seized power in Iraq. Thursday marks the day Saddam's Baath Party seized power in 1968. Both days were widely celebrated during Saddam's rule, but the celebrations have now been banned by Iraq's new governing council.

The U.S. military has been concerned about a possible escalation of violence this week against its troops by Saddam loyalists. Security has been tightened throughout the capital.


He's one of ours.
Aaron left last November for basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. After completing basic, he remained there for his advanced training in combat engineering. He graduated March 13, 2003, and was assigned to the 16th Engineer Battalion in Giessen, Germany. He was only in Germany a few weeks when his unit was deployed to Iraq. The unit is part of the 1st Armored Division and is currently stationed in Baghdad.

Aaron’s unit is working to rebuild schools in the area. Aaron has written his family that he feels good about what they are doing there. In a recent letter home, he wrote, “Most of the civilians are happy to see us. The children will remember that the U.S. soldiers were there to protect them and to rebuild their schools and playgrounds.”

Griping by soldiers is as old as warfare itself, but military officials say longer stays for soldiers such as Outen and Lynes, whose brigade stormed Baghdad in early April and played a major role in toppling Saddam Hussein's regime, are a symptom of an Army that is stretched too thin.

At a time when Pentagon strategists are considering cuts in the overall size of the Army, a broad range of soldiers — from senior brass in Washington to ground-pounding GIs in Fallouja — think that the Army should instead be growing to take on the expanding tasks the Bush administration has handed it.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that retention rates are already beginning to suffer in the face of the grueling Iraq duty, Army officials said on condition of anonymity.

There simply aren't enough soldiers for the job as it is, Army insiders argue.

"You've got to take an appetite suppressant, or you've got to size the force appropriately," an Army officer serving in Iraq said on condition of anonymity, adding that peacekeeping commitments posed a greater strain on the service than fighting wars. "If anything, this war shows we need a larger Army."...

The well-publicized woes of the 3rd Infantry Division appear to have given the nation's oldest armed service an edge in a battle within the Defense Department. Pentagon officials are expected to drop consideration of a plan to cut the size of the Army from 10 divisions to eight, at least for the foreseeable future, defense officials and military analysts said.

Sort of misses the point, though.

The problem is that 8 isn't too small, 10 is too small. Eight would be suicide.

You won't believe how hard it is to get soldiers there.

But don't wory. "We are not overextended".
Arnold and a half-dozen other soldiers in his squadron, which is supporting the Army’s 101st Airborne Division around Mosul, were selected for a temporary-duty trip to Germany for a conference July 8-9 conducted by the 4th Air Support Group at Ramstein Air Base.

Two days in safe, pretty Germany. Clean, soft beds. Hot meals. Cold beer.

Predictably, the days flew by. When the conference was over, Arnold and his colleagues went shopping for essential equipment and spare parts, as well as treats for their less-fortunate mates back in Iraq.

The group then dashed to Ramstein terminal Friday to make a 4 p.m. show time to catch a C-141 to Baghdad.

Three days later, Arnold was still there, in the terminal, waiting to get to Baghdad. He is 48th on a list of 80 people, all flying on “space required” status, and all waiting anywhere from 24 hours to five days.

And forget about flying to Kirkuk. The passenger list is even longer.

For the 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq who can’t wait to go home, difficulty getting into Baghdad sounds like a bad joke.

Read it all here.
Mail from European bases to Baghdad goes to Frankfurt, where it’s processed and trucked to Brussels, Belgium, Lynch said.

From there, DHL Worldwide Express — a unit of Berlin-based Deutsche Post World Net —flies it to Bahrain, where it’s transferred to a second DHL flight from Bahrain into Baghdad, he said.

Seems a miracle it ever gets there at all. I'm glad these folks make it happen.

Read about the postal system to Iraq here.
The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division has received conflicting messages of late, but a Pentagon official insisted Tuesday that the plan is to have everyone home from Iraq by September.

The soldiers instrumental in tackling Baghdad, some of whom have been in the region for nearly a year, have ridden an emotional roller coaster of late wondering when they’ll be coming home.

“Today, it’s planned for September,” said Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita.

“What I’m telling you, what the combatant commander and the secretary have said is that division, right now, the intent remains to have that division home by September,” Di Rita said.

Maj. Gen. Buford C. Blount III, commander of the Fort Stewart, Ga., division, is not as optimistic.

The units have been ordered to stay “due to the uncertainty of the situation in Iraq and the recent increase in attacks on the coalition forces,” Blount said Monday in an e-mail message to Army spouses that was obtained by Stars and Stripes. Blount said in the e-mail message that his “best guess is 60-120 days.”

They'll be comin' round the mountain when they come...
July 14, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-49


BAGHDAD, Iraq – A soldier from 3rd Infantry Division was killed and 10 others were injured at approximately 7 a.m. July 13 when the convoy they were traveling in was attacked by multiple rocket-propelled grenades.

The convoy was returning from a routine patrol mission when it began receiving fire. An RPG hit the two-and-a-half-ton truck in the convoy. The RPG passed through the driver’s cab into the engine causing the vehicle to catch on fire. A second RPG hit the high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle in the side and passed all the way through the vehicle.

Ten soldiers were injured in the attack, three of them seriously. The soldiers were evacuated to the 28th Combat Support Hospital for treatment. Seven soldiers were returned to duty.

Both vehicles were destroyed in the ambush.

Names of the dead and injured are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

This release updates CentCom release #03-07-47.

July 16, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-50


AL HILLAH, Iraq - A 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Marine died here July 15, as a result of injuries received after falling from the top of a building where he was standing guard duty.

The Marine was immediately evacuated to a nearby military surgical unit where he died.

The Marine's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

July 16, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-51


BAGHDAD, Iraq – A soldier from the 3rd Corps Support Command was killed and three others wounded at approximately 9:55 a.m. today in a rocket-propelled grenade attack on their convoy as it was traveling near Abu Ghuraib prison in the western part of Baghdad.

The soldiers were evacuated to the 447th Forward Support Battalion for treatment.

The names of the soldiers are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

July 16, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-52


BAGHDAD, Iraq – The 4th Infantry Division continued to lead the way in Operation Soda Mountain with supporting operation, Operation Ivy Serpent, in order to create a secure environment in Iraq.

Since the beginning of the operation on July 12, the 4th ID has conducted 71 raids and detained 448 individuals, including 38 individuals identified as key former regime loyalists leaders. Confiscated weapons include 102 AK-47s, 387 125mm mortar rounds, and four 60 mm mortar tubes.

The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force discovered and destroyed eight SA-7 missiles located in the Muhawil ammunition supply point.

The 1st MEF came to the aid of an U. S. Army convoy that was attacked with an improvised explosive device in Babil. They later captured two of the attackers and confiscated a Dragonov rifle, AK-47s and ammunition. The attackers were taken for questioning.

The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment seized a weapons cache in a town north of Habinyah. The weapons seized consisted of 400 rocket-propelled grenade rounds, 15 mortars with fuses and one anti-tank mine. A bunker complex was identified as well. An engineer unit demolished the bunker site

In other activity, a unit of the 101st Airborne Division secured the former Iraqi Military stipend payments paying 1,065 former Iraqi soldiers on the first day.

Elsewhere, Coalition forces continued aggressive patrols throughout the country over the last 24 hours conducting 65 raids, 1,347-day patrols and 1,690-night patrols. They also jointly patrolled with the Iraqi Police conducting 172-day patrols and 216-night patrols. Independently, the Iraqi Police conducted eight day patrols and two night patrols.

The total raids and patrols resulted in 360 arrests for various criminal activities including four for murder, five for car jacking, 11 for aggravated assault, 11 for burglary, and 13 for looting.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 16th. The 66th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

The Democratic National Committee is airing a TV commercial in which they show a clip of President Bush saying "Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Of course, what the President actually said was "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa".

Once again we see their tactics...repackaging what actually happened and counting on you and me to be too stupid to realize what they are doing.

Or, as I've said before, they are counting on our stupidity to get them elected.

Now, how does that make you feel?

This sort of selective cropping of the soundbite - were it not so overtly politically motivated - would be as funny as the Dr. Phil clips on the Letterman show.

If you haven't seen it, Dave takes a quote from Dr. Phil, something on the order of "You might be thinking "Goodness, you are the ugliest woman I've ever seen", but you don't come out and say that."

Dave edits that down to "Goodness, you are the ugliest woman I've ever seen" and plays the clip.


(via Instapundit)

A protest by supporters of a jailed French radical farmer stopped several cyclists competing in Tuesday's 10th stage of the Tour de France. Lance Armstrong appeared to be among them, which would cause the Tour leader to fall behind by two precious minutes.

The main pack of riders was stopped in its tracks after supporters of radical farmer Jose Bove ran into the road and blocked cyclists near Pourrieres, about 91 miles into the race.

Uh...radical farmer?

"Eef yew don' leesten to zee words I em zaying...I will be fohrced to plant zee zucheeni upsahd dohwn, yew miserable deeng dohng."

As I said earlier, sorta wish CPT Patti were at the airport.
On Burger King's first day in business in mid-June, the lines lasted more than two hours, but soldiers patiently waited for their burgers after months of plastic-sealed Meals Ready to Eat, with their set menu of processed Cheese Whiz and Beef Stew.

"One soldier just sat against a wall with his hamburger like a little boy," sighs Cliff.

Inside the 6,000 square foot (540 square metre) shopping centre, managed by AAES, Nintendo Play Stations have gone on sale in the last week, and a full supply of DVD films and compact discs, everything from albums by rapper Eminem to country singer Johnny Cash, have started to pour in.

Coca Cola and tortilla chips sell like mad, and the store plans on moving into a 20,000 sq foot facility by August.

"A month ago, things started to trickle in through the pipeline and now that'll start to mature," says Cliff, who wears combat fatigues although she is a civilian employee of the defense department.

"We're ready to move to a bigger facility."

Any of the soldiers in Baghdad are allowed to use the Burger King. Its just that unless they live and work at the airport, there is little time to get to this outlet.

CPT Patti tells me she can't get to the PX on the Police College compound where she lives and works, becuase she has too much going on every day.

A colleague pointed me to this item...something I didn't know existed. According to her husband, who is also in Baghdad...these things really work!
The Arctic Cool Kool-Off neck cooling product is designed to reduce core body temperatures fast, thus helping to prevent heat stress at work and recreation.

The bandanna tube contains safe, water absorbing polymer crystals to give hours of cooling relief from hot temperatures. Just soak the KOOL OFF item in water for about twenty minutes.

Through evaporation and air circulation it will stay cool for hours. It helps cool the neck and major artery blood flow, which keeps you more comfortable.

Arctic Bandana is a very effective neck cooling bandana. They are about 40 inches long and can be used as a neck cooler or a cooling head band.

A great item for sports too- hiking, biking, golfing, etc. KOOL OFF with an Arctic Bandana!

To activate the hundreds of cooling polymer crystals, and to re-activate the coolant, just soak it again. KOOL OFF products can be used hundreds of times. So "KOOL OFF" when it gets hot

I just ordered some for CPT Patti along with a similar product for her Kevlar helmet called THERMOTUX® COOL-AID™ COMBAT HELMET INSERT FOR COOLER HEADS Find those item at Brigade Quartermasters

ID Card holders should find Brigade Quartermasters through the AAFES web site and enter through the Centric Mall for military discounts.

Three years after Bashar al-Assad took over as president, debate is hotting up on political reforms and the role of the Baath Party which has monopolised power in Syria for the past four decades.

"It would be better for the authorities, in step with society, to carry out comprehensive reforms on a national scale rather than introduce them under orders from abroad," author Michel Kilo said...

The leadership of the Baath Party, which has been in power since 1963, called in June for its members to stop meddling in the business of the executive branch...

(The party's) power base is Article 8 of the Syrian constitution which grants the Baath the role of "leader of society and state", a factor which Kilo says has contributed to the current crisis on both the political and economic fronts.

In an unprecedented move, Syria's official media said earlier this month the state-run economy cannot be restructured without major political reforms.

Syria must "separate the branches of power, find a new relationship between the Baath and the state, promote freedoms and pluralism, democratise society and the state, amend laws, reform the economy, combat corruption seriously," it said.

An-Nur pointed to disenchantment in society as the population's living standards continue to slide.

"Most Syrians no longer take seriously the promises of modernisation, development and reforms. They are virtually sure that such words are just an illusion and only aim to appease," it said.

Ten opposition figures who demanded more freedoms and tried to breath life into the reform process were arrested in summer 2001 and have been condemned to prison terms of up to 10 years.

Amid the intense scrutiny of the world and the daily bloodshed across Iraq, the council was taking the first confident steps toward what is hoped to be a transition to democracy.

The body - comprised of prominent Iraqis from all walks of political and religious life - announced the delegation it was sending to the United Nations would ''assert and emphasize the role of the governing council as a legitimate Iraqi body during this transitional period.''

Ever since Saddam's U.N. Ambassador, Mohammed Al-Douri, left New York on April 11, Iraqi diplomats have kept a very low profile at the United Nations. Al-Douri did not resign and Iraq's U.N. Mission remains open, with the former third-ranking diplomat, Said Shihab Ahmad, in charge.

On Monday, the Iraqi governing council also formed three committees to outline an order of business for the coming weeks and work out organizational issues, said Hoshyar Zebari, a spokesman for the council. The council had planned to select a leader, but Zebari said that would be done later.
In fact, Malone and his five-member mayoral cell are tasked with just the opposite. With the help of several engineer units and a series of contractors, a U.S. military base is taking shape.

There’s a dining facility designed to feed 10,000 people under construction. Next to that will be a living facility for 4,000 troops.

Malone said those on base who currently live in the worst conditions — tents that basically just block the sun — will be the first to move into the facility, which is targeted to open in August.

However, both the dining facility and living quarters are being constructed for a short stay. The military will eventually pick the buildings up and move them to the other side of the airport. The plan is essentially to turn over part of the base to the Iraqi people for commercial air use, and keep part for military operations.

Bet she does too.

Read it all here.

1-36 Infantry soldiers from Friedberg.
The soldiers of 136 Alpha Company in the 1st Armored Division take turns sleeping in a small, dark room on the grounds of Baghdad's al-Kindi Hospital.

The face of their leader, 29-year-old Sgt. Billy Foster, brightens when the door cracks open and three young boys poke their heads inside.

The soldiers have befriended the boys. (They've even given them nicknames such as "CQ" and "Staff Duty", which are Army terms.)

The boys are a bright spot in an otherwise grim daily routine. The hospital the soldiers oversee is, they say, both corrupt and chaotic. "If someone brings in a family member to a doctor," Foster says, "and he doesn't save 'em, lots of times they come back and try to kill the doctor."

It is an interesting piece. Read it here.
A motorcycle ride through Central Indiana helped raise $7,000 for the family of slain soldier Shawn Pahnke...

Attached to the Army's 1st Armored Division, Pahnke was killed by a sniper in Iraq on June 16. He was buried in his hometown of Manhattan, Ill., on June 26.

Indulge me as I dust off this old piece by Rush Limbaugh.

If you lost a family member in the September 11 attack, you're going to get an average of $1,185,000. The range is a minimum guarantee of $250,000, all the way up to $4.7 million.

If you are a surviving family member of an American soldier killed in action, the first check you get is a $6,000 direct death benefit, half of which is taxable.

Next, you get $1,750 for burial costs.

If you are the surviving spouse, you get $833 a month until you remarry.

And there's a payment of $211 per month for each child under 18. When the child hits 18, those payments come to a screeching halt.

You do the math.

The U.S. commander in chief raised eyebrows among many in uniform last week when he promised not to stretch the military too thin, even as some 500,000 troops find themselves deployed or assigned overseas.

President Bush, when asked in South Africa about the possibility of inserting peacekeeping troops into war-torn Liberia, made a simple pledge: “We won’t overextend our troops, period.”

“Too late,” says Sgt. Robert Page matter-of-factly...

Just how the military — particularly the Army — will be able to sustain even the current force levels in the Middle East remains to be seen.

“It’s going to be very tough,” said retired Lt. Gen. Theodore Stroup, now the vice president of the Association of the U.S. Army. “With five division flags there now, we have essentially half the combat power of the Army in Iraq.”

With 10 divisions in the Army, and one of those fixed in Korea, that leaves four divisions available to relieve the forces now in Iraq and to sustain operations in Afghanistan.

“Beware the 12-division strategy for a 10-division Army,” cautioned outgoing Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, at his June 11 retirement ceremony in Washington. “Our soldiers and families bear the risk and the hardship of carrying a mission load that exceeds what force capabilities we can sustain, so we must alleviate risk and hardship by our willingness to resource the mission requirement.”

To maintain so many forces in Iraq, even for a few years, said Stroup, “the cost is going to be in morale and re-enlistment rates and recruiting. It’s something I know the leadership is worrying about.”

And few, if any, units have felt the strain of deployment more than the Georgia-based 3rd Infantry Division.

During his testimony last week, Rumsfeld said the division — whose troops have been in the Middle East for more than year now — has begun redeployment to the United States. But it will take until September before all those troops are home.

But wait - apparently after that story was put to bed, this story popped up.

Most of the war-weary soldiers of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which spearheaded the invasion of Iraq, will remain in the troubled country indefinitely, division officials announced yesterday, though Pentagon officials said they still hope to have the entire division home by the fall, as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told Congress last week.

Richard Olson, a spokesman at Fort Stewart, Ga., where the 16,500-soldier division is based, said two of its three brigades will not be returning home in August and September as scheduled.

Rumsfeld told Congress last week that one of the division's two remaining brigades would be home in August and the other in September.

So, were you lying to me then, or are you lying to me now?

This is just wrong. And it is happening for a couple of simple reasons.

Recall the fall of the Berlin wall. Recall discussions of a so-called "Peace Dividend" that would allow the USA to cut defense forces and spending.

That is the genesis of our ten-division Army.

No one knew what a post cold-war world would look like.

No one could predict the extent of the Global War on Terror.

Certainly nobody, but nobody could predict then, as we slashed the size of the US Army, that on July 15th 2003 the US Army would be performing missions worldwide in 120 countries.

One-hundred-twenty countries.

And one-half the Army is in only one of those.

America prides itself in having the best Armed Forces in the world. We got that way in part through the All-Volunteer Force. We obtained and maintained an Army of professionals. We don't go to war with a pickup team, unlike much of the world.

Our men and women in uniform are soldiers...and they will "soldier on". But they are men and women first. And over half of them have families. And families need their soldiers everybit as much as a nation does.

Our forces are fighting a global war today with force levels designed for a peaceful, post-coldwar, pollyanna vision.

America must be willing to pay the price to have what it expects.

Let's make no mistake about it...soldiers accept that service demands some time away for training and real-world missions. These are not in dispute.

But when time away exceeds time with family, well, don't you see that as being just a bit too much to ask?

In the end one or both will break: Forces, or familes...and who will decide which is worse for America.

July 14, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-49



BAGHDAD, Iraq – A soldier from 3rd Infantry Division was killed and 10 others were injured at approximately 7 a.m. July 13 when the convoy they were traveling in was attacked by multiple rocket-propelled grenades.

The convoy was returning from a routine patrol mission when it began receiving fire. An RPG hit the two-and-a-half-ton truck in the convoy. The RPG passed through the driver’s cab into the engine causing the vehicle to catch on fire. A second RPG hit the high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle in the side and passed all the way through the vehicle.

Ten soldiers were injured in the attack, three of them seriously. The soldiers were evacuated to the 28th Combat Support Hospital for treatment. Seven soldiers were returned to duty.

Both vehicles were destroyed in the ambush.

Names of the dead and injured are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

This release updates CentCom release #03-07-47.
TUESDAY, JULY 15th. The 65th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Today marks the beginning of what the Iraqis call "Furnace Days." Furnace days will continue from today until September 15th (CPT Patti's birthday!).

Not surprisingly Furnace Days get their name from being the period of peak temperatures in a country where non-peak temperatures are extreme to us.

Forecast for today in Baghdad is 112 degrees. That is up to 115 by the weekend.

Please send anything you can think of to help her stay cool.

Monday, July 14, 2003


Expect we will hear a lot on this subject in the future.
In a July 9 memo to the four service secretaries and the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Mr. Rumsfeld said he wants to reduce the need for calling up large numbers of reservists in a war and to do away with it altogether in the first 15 days of a crisis.

He also does not want any unit called up for more than one year in any six years.

"I consider this a matter of the utmost urgency," Mr. Rumsfeld said in the three-page memorandum, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.

He wants the military's plan by the end of this month as he continues to adjust the total force for a long global war on terrorism.

One of the practical problems associated with moving forces from the reserves to active duty is the reservist soldier probably will not come onto active duty. And that reserve unit that existed in a given town will either disappear, or, more likeley, be converted to a different type unit.

Which means all those reserve soldiers who are counting on their reserve duty as a future retirment plan, will have to take on a completely different military occupational specialty.

Defense Contractor Guy sent me a copy of the Secretary's memo last week. And frankly, we can't figure out how to do what Rumsfeld wants done without actually adding to the active duty numbers...something Rummy definitely doesn't want done.

And did you notice he gave the services three weeks to get a plan?

Al-Samarrai said the toppled leader had been able to escape capture because the area was heavily populated and had thick vegetation. "He is hiding in an area about 60 kilometers long and about 20 kilometers wide according to my information", he told the paper in an interview at his house in Samarra.

It will be interesting to see if the former head of Iraq's Military Intelligence has any real intel.


How to read a map when you don't read Arabic.
You won't find Canal Road, California or Coors Street on the commercial street maps of Baghdad, but this is the new Iraq, where American soldiers are redrawing the city one English name at a time.

"Just go down Main Street until you hit Virginia Avenue and take a left," a Military Police (MP) officer recently told a correspondent, drawing a finger along a glossy US Defense Department satellite map spread across the hood of a Humvee in downtown Baghdad.

The black-and-white, metre-square map was overlayed with neon-coloured city streets whose names looked better placed on a layout of Washington.

Oklahoma and Pennsylvania replaced street names in the industrial section of the old city framed by historic Al-Rashid and Khulafa streets.

Read the rest here.
A German cultural facility will re-open "as soon as possible" in Baghdad, officials in Munich said Friday.

A delegation from the Goethe Institute and the German Foreign Office will likely go to the Iraqi capital in late August to assess the situation, it was said.

"We want to re-open the centre as soon as possible," said Goethe Institute President Jutta Limbach.

Jutta failed to mention that the "possible" in her statement is a result of US and British efforts, while her government merely trashed us from the sidelines all along the way.
Deputy Chief Constable (DCC) Douglas Brand, of South Yorkshire Police travelled to Iraq on 4 July to act as senior mentor to the Iraqi chief of Baghdad Police.

He has been joined by Assistant Chief Constable Stephen White, of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, who will work as senior police adviser in Basra.

The Foreign Office said that both were selected for their knowledge of reform and retraining in police services.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the deployment was a further example of "the UK delivering on our promise to help Iraqis build for themselves a stable, free and prosperous Iraq".

Read it all here.

The story is here.
A group calling itself a wing of al-Qaeda claimed responsibility Sunday for attacks on American troops in Iraq, as U.S. forces killed five Iraqis in raids aimed at preventing such violence during two Iraqi holidays this week.

The claim, made in an audiotape aired on Dubai-based Al Arabiya television, insisted that allies of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had played no role in the recent attacks.

The tape, whose authenticity could not be verified, also warned of a new attack in the coming days that would "divide the back of America completely."

Concern about intensified violence prompted the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division to launch a new series of raids Sunday for Saddam sympathizers whom U.S. military officials hold responsible for the attacks...

Today is the anniversary of the 1958 coup that toppled the Iraqi monarchy, and Thursday is the anniversary of the 1968 coup that brought the Baath Party to power.

"Intelligence that we've gathered has told us that former Baath Party leadership, subversive elements, are planning to attack tomorrow and on the 17th," Maj. Josslyn Aberle, a 4th Infantry Division spokeswoman, said Sunday.

The release Sunday of the tape, by someone claiming to represent the previously unknown Armed Islamic Movement for al-Qaeda, the Fallujah branch, added to the jitters over the anniversaries.

"I swear by God no one from his [Saddam's] followers carried out any jihad operations like he claims. They are a result of our brothers in jihad," said the taped voice, which was not identified.

There is a lot to consider here.

Let us begin with the tape. Does it come from an Iraq-based cell of al-Qaeda? Well, it is either yes or no.

If it is yes then it would be independent confirmation of Secretary Powells assertions before the UN security council in January.

And therefore means that nothing has changed from the perspective of those prosecuting the war because they believed all along the group existed in Iraq.

OK - but what of the claims on the tape that the attacks have all been the work of al-Qaeda and not of Saddam Hussein's loyalists?

Note the language: "no one from his [Saddam's] followers carried out any jihad operations like he claims".

First off, like who claims? I've seen nothing to indicate any one taking claim for the operations except this tape.

Secondly, the language is absolute..."no one...carried out any..."

What is the likelihood of that? Recognizing such absolutism may be a common aspect of arab rhetoric, at face value the statement attempts to "prove a negative". Highly doubtful.

So, what is the most likely case here (where we are assuming the tape to be from whom it claims to be)?

The principle of Occam's Razor suggests that this group might be a small part of the attacks, or even simply claiming credit where none is due.

And the result of this line of logic? One might hope to gain "esteem" for doing battle with the USA, and indeed one might so achieve. However, another result would be to expose your organization (and your home town!) to the world, much of which still doubted that there was an Iraq/al-Qaeda connection.

Net result: A lot more folks looking for these guys with intent to do them harm.

So - how probable is this line of reasoning? Not very, in my opinon.

Which takes us back to the question, did this tape come from who it claims to come from? If this time we answer no, then we need to ask who did send it?

Well, it appears that one intended result of the tape is to ease the pressure off the Ba'athists since it claims they have been behind none of the attacks.

And who would have the most to gain by easing the pressure off the Ba'athists? Hmmm - well, that would be the Ba'athists.

Consider also that this week represents the anniversaries of "the anniversary of the 1958 coup that toppled the Iraqi monarchy, and...the anniversary of the 1968 coup that brought the Baath Party to power".

Intelligence says this will be a week of heightened foolishness on their part. Indeed Operation Ivy Serpent (Ivy, because the 4th ID is called the Ivy division) anticipates just such increased attacks.

From the Ba'athists perspective this is exactly the time you want the USA to go off searching for a group that the USA has always believed to be in Iraq (and which Saddam Hussein denied ever was), and take its eyes of of the Ba'athists.

Saving space (and your patience) here so I won't go through the logic of the tape originator being anyone else.

In the end, it seems to me the simplest explanation that the Ba'athists are behind the tape.

Finally, it tickles me to no end that the last transmission we got from Baghdad Bob was from Abu-Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.

The tape was aired by a Dubai based television station.

I'll give you one guess where Dubai is...