Saturday, August 02, 2003


Iowa troops stationed in Iraq will soon get a taste of summer back home. The Iowa National Guard has made arrangements for troops in Baghdad to have a super-sized sweet corn feed next week.

Sergeant Bob Steffes of the Fort Dodge-based 133rd Test Squadron says the sweet corn feed started with the idea of sending some corn to fellow squadron members stationed in Baghdad. Steffes says Ruan Transportation and Garst Seed, both headquartered in Iowa, agreed to help.

Members of groups linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network may have taken part in attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, a British diplomatic source said on Friday.

The source said that while the attacks were largely the work of Iraqis loyal to deposed dictator Saddam Hussein ''there is some evidence that they've been joined by groups that are loosely connected with the al Qaeda network.''

The source, who asked not to be named, did not specify the evidence, but said there were undoubtably ''some foreign elements'' targeting U.S. and allied troops in Iraq. He said there was nothing to show that Saddam, who is thought to be in hiding, or his two sons, killed by American troops last week, had been directly organising the attacks.

''I haven't seen any signs that Saddam Hussein or his sons were responsible for orchestrating that activity,'' he said.
Breaking ranks with many of its European neighbors, the Netherlands has sent 1,100 Dutch peacekeepers to southern Iraq so a nearly equal number of American marines can go home.

The Dutch force, which officially deployed late this week, is a response to American and British requests for help in the relatively secure Shiite-populated province of Muthanna, bordering Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

"For us there was no choice," the defense minister, Henk Kamp, said in an interview. "The Americans helped us in the Second World War. Now they are helping the people in Iraq."

The Dutch contingent is considerable for this tiny country and the mission has aroused a range of reactions. Some supporters say it reflects renewed gratitude for American help in liberating the Netherlands from the Nazis.

A British soldier serving in Iraq tried to escape from the sweltering heat by sleeping in a walk-in fridge but ended up being treated for hypothermia.

The lance corporal, an army medic in his 20s, had sought shelter from the blazing summer sun but was found asleep in a dangerous condition by a colleague and was taken to hospital, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported on Saturday.


Weapons of mass destruction?
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A close aide to Saddam Hussein says the Iraqi dictator did in fact get rid of his weapons of mass destruction but deliberately kept the world guessing about it in an effort to divide the international community and stave off a U.S. invasion.

The strategy, which turned out to be a serious miscalculation, was designed to make the Iraqi dictator look strong in the eyes of the Arab world, while countries such as France and Russia were wary of joining an American-led attack. At the same time, Hussein retained the technical know-how to restart the programs at any time.

Both Pentagon officials and weapons experts are considering this guessing-game theory as the search for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons continues. If true, it would indicate there was no imminent unconventional weapons threat from Iraq, an argument President Bush used to go to war...

According to the aide, by the mid-1990s "it was common knowledge among the leadership" that Iraq had destroyed its chemical stocks and discontinued development of biological and nuclear weapons.

But Hussein remained convinced that an ambiguous stance about the status of Iraq's weapons programs would deter an American attack.

"He repeatedly told me: 'These foreigners, they only respect strength, they must be made to believe we are strong,' " the aide said.

Well, if this is true, turns out his own vanity and miscalculations served to murder his sons, and to liberate 25 million Iraqis.

I wonder if Kim Jung Il has read this article...
The Army is trying to figure out what is causing a rash of serious pneumonia cases, including two fatalities, among troops serving in the Iraq war.

A six-person team of specialists traveled to Iraq on Friday to investigate 15 cases of pneumonia so serious that patients had to be put on ventilators to breathe and were evacuated from the region, the Army Surgeon General's Office said.

Though 15 cases were considered serious, about 100 cases have been diagnosed since March 1 among troops that began deploying late last year to the Persian Gulf area.

In the Army, pneumonia cases serious enough to warrant hospitalization happen in about 9 of 10,000 soldiers per year. Given the number of troops deployed, the 100 cases "do not exceed expectations," the Surgeon General's Office said.

If the expected infection rate is 9 per ten-thousand soldiers, then up to 135 cases might be expected over the course of an entire year.

Here we have 100 cases in 5 months...seems slightly high to me.
The U.S. military tomorrow will begin a major excavation in search of banned weapons components an Iraqi informant said were buried by Saddam Hussein's regime at a Muslim clerics's house in Najaf in December, three months before the war began.

If the informant's information proves true, it means Saddam was actively hiding weapons components at the very time U.N. inspectors had re-entered Iraq and were conducting searches. That team left Iraq shortly before President Bush ordered the March 20 invasion...

Pentagon sources said that after Mr. Kay received the information, he asked the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), to study the Najaf site. A comparison of before-and-after images showed that the ground had been disturbed.

And if they find it, expect that the privileged status of "clerics" in Iraq to be washed into the sewer.

And be grateful they got out alive.
Saddam Hussein's eldest daughter Raghd has accused close aides of her father of betraying the former Iraqi president and says he told her to leave Baghdad as U.S. forces closed in.

Describing the collapse of her father's 24-year iron rule in April, Raghd told Dubai-based Al Arabiya television in an interview on Friday she was in Baghdad with her sister Rana sitting by the radio all night following the news and praying.

Apparently not official Iraqi radio, however, since Baghdad Bob swore to the end there were no US Troops anywhere near Baghdad. Does this mean that Raghd knew Iraqi radio was mere propaganda and could not be trusted?

Raghd, 36, who along with Rana, 34, was offered asylum in Jordan after arriving in Amman on Thursday with their nine children, did not give a date for Saddam's instruction to quit. U.S.-forces captured Baghdad on April 9...

The husbands of Raghd and Rana were both killed in 1996 on the orders of Saddam, whom she described as a "very good father", after being accused of giving information about Iraq's weapons to the West...

Your father lied to you and your husband then had your husband killed for trying to do right by the rest of the world (ditto for your sister's husband) and you contend he was a "good father"??? You are as sick as the rest of your pitiful, worthless, may-they-burn-in-hell family including your psychotic brothers.

"This is an act of treason," she said. "It was a big shock. It was clear, unfortunately the people who he had absolutely trusted, his right hand men... as I understood, the main betrayal was by them.".

Raghd was clad in black and a white veil in a sign of mourning. Her two brothers Qusay and Uday were killed by U.S. forces last month.

"If somebody doesn't like you, they should not betray you. Betrayal is not a trait of Arabs," said Raghd.

Betrayal is not a trait of Arabs? But apparently it is OK to maim and torture and kill tens of thousands of Shi'ites and Kurds and enemies of the Ba'ath party - its OK to do that because that IS a trait of Arabs?

Just shut up. Please, just shut up.

My guess is that a whole lot of Arabs would like you to just shut up too.
Saddam Hussein's feared sons Uday and Qusay, killed last month by U.S. troops, were buried in the deposed dictator's home town of Tikrit on Saturday in a swift and heavily guarded ceremony, locals said.

They said the bodies were wrapped in Iraqi flags and buried in a local cemetery after arriving from Baghdad in an ambulance. There was a heavy U.S. army presence and journalists were prevented from photographing or filming the burial.


Small request from parents who lost their son.

Spc. William J. Maher III’s family members in Lower Makefield Township, Pa., have already gotten the worst news they’ll ever get.

Now they’re hoping for something better — letters from Maher’s 1st Armored Division comrades-in-arms in Iraq.

Maher, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment based at Ray Barracks in Friedberg, Germany, died Monday in Baghdad when guerrillas on an overpass attacked his convoy, dropping an explosive device into the soldier’s Humvee. Three other soldiers were injured.

“We would like to hear from people who were with him that day,” said Dan Massimini, Maher’s brother-in-law, in a phone interview. “Just a letter. We don’t want to intrude. We’d just like to write them. We’d love to do that. To know more about what happened ... and to just let them know we support them.”


But they are learning a lot more than that.
Once those patrols were running smoothly, Hodges gave Donckers a new mission: Teach the Iraqi cops American policing standards.

So Donckers and her senior NCOs developed a two-week training schedule.

“We looked at what we’d want one of our privates to know coming from [basic training],” she said.

Those skills include clearing buildings, search techniques, appropriate force levels and some ethics training.

The soldiers created a mobile academy of sorts that moved from town to village, training several dozen people at a time. Five classes have taken the course and one more is schedule to take it before a more permanent police academy is created in Mosul, Donckers said.

There is a lot to cram into two weeks, and the schedule is intensive, Donckers said.

“We do PT in the morning and smoke ’em, then move right into training,” she said.

That said, the training project has had its share of challenges, Donckers said.

One major issue has been literacy.

“The average policeman in my region has four to six years of school, and he still can’t read or write,” Donckers said.

To get around the problem, the MPs “began giving oral exams, instead of written,” she said.

Another barrier was language. Both Arabic and Kurdish are spoken in the region, and neither language bears any resemblance to the other.

Translators helped, but so did the mime skills the military police created.

“It is just amazing to me to watch my platoon,” Donckers said. “They’ve grown so much in breaking the language barrier. They’re using hand and arm signals that are just the coolest. You can see their passion to make sure the [Iraqis] do it right.”

The MPs also had to make some adjustments regarding weapons. The U.S. military is outfitting the Iraqi police with cleaned and reconditioned Soviet-made weapons captured from illegal caches.

“So what we did was to find someone in each group who is proficient and let him teach marksmanship to the others,” Donckers said.

The MPs also quickly learned to assign each class an Iraqi group leader.

“It instills a sense of Iraqi ownership” in the training process, she said. “They’re not answering to us if they’re late or something, they’re answering to one of their own.”
August 1, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-01



BAGHDAD, Iraq – Possible attacks were foiled and prevented as Coalition forces disrupted a rocket-propelled grenade attack on a fuel convoy and located a large weapons cache in northern Iraq.

A rocket-propelled grenade ambush attack in northwest Iraq was foiled by soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at approximately 5 p.m. on July 31 by engaging and wounding an individual before he could fire the RPG accurately. The individual was captured and received medical care for leg wounds at a Coalition medical facility.

A large amount of ammunition and weapons were found and confiscated at a refugee camp located approximately 80 km northwest of Kirkuk by the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 101st AAD on July 29. The 101st AAD declared an amnesty period, when weapons could be turned in without fear of punishment, on July 30.

The total confiscated weapons cache included 745 RPGs, more than 3,730 rounds of ammunition, 41 fragmentary grenades, 11 air defense artillery missiles and a number of various other weapons.

The confiscated ammunition is systematically destroyed by EOD as caches are brought in. The small arms weapons are checked and usable weapons are reissued to Iraqi Policemen, the New Iraqi Army and members of the Coalition Provisional Authority security force.

In the last 24 hours, coalition forces conducted 27 raids, 692 day patrols and 618 night patrols and conducted 112 day patrols and 169 night patrols jointly with Iraqi police.

August 1, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-02



TAMPA, FL – Coalition forces were issued altered photos of Saddam Hussein on Thursday to better help them recognize the former dictator who may have changed his appearance to elude capture.

Copies of the photos can be found by clicking the Saddam Pictures link at

August 1, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-03



BAGHDAD, Iraq – A 1st Armored Division soldier died August 1 of a gunshot wound received at approximately 7:30 p.m. on July 31.

The soldier was standing outside when a bullet, fired from a celebrating Iraqi, struck him.

The soldier was evacuated to the 28th Combat Support Hospital and subsequently died.

The soldier’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 2d. The 83d day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Friday, August 01, 2003

There is no question that the United States must finish what it started with the invasion of Iraq. Success there is the foundation upon which any meaningful policy in the Middle East must be built and the bedrock upon which the war on terrorism must be based.

The American military presence there is going to cost us $4 billion a month for the near future. Most countries are not rushing to provide soldiers or money to help rebuild Iraq.

A few on Capitol Hill have suggested -- to the horror of Defense Secretary Donald L. Rumsfeld and his civilians who run the Pentagon -- that the Army end-strength needs to be increased by as much as a fourth, or as many as 114,500 more troops.

As painful as this may be in a time of huge budget deficits, it may well be time for those who have gotten used to spending defense money for other things to prepare to do the right thing.

If we are to police the world -- and no one besides our British cousins seems eager to help -- then we need enough police officers to do the job.

BAGHDAD, July 31 -- U.S. troops in Iraq have grown grimly accustomed to guerrilla-style assaults by nameless, faceless attackers who toss grenades or fire mortars at them on an almost daily basis.

But Iraqis who live along Baghdad's busy Haifa Street refused to let such an attack go unsolved this morning. When someone shot an antitank weapon at a U.S. military armored vehicle, wounding one soldier, local residents identified a teenager from the neighborhood as the assailant, and the boy's father handed him over to U.S. troops, witnesses said.

"Those soldiers were very nice guys," said Salim Saheb Alwan, 55, a retired military officer who witnessed the attack. "We used to talk to them and play with these people."

Did you see this story in your newspaper? Have you asked yourself "why not?"
After a formal request from US Central Command, the team of 14 officers and senior non-commissioned officers visited all the key American divisions in Iraq to expound the British way of winning hearts and minds. The acknowledgment from the Americans that they might have something to learn from the British experience of dealing with internal security operations, like Northern Ireland, is not expected to lead to an immediate change in strategy.

Until now, the Americans, most of whom serve in heavyweight armoured divisions which fought in the conflict, have maintained their warfighting appearance, wearing helmets and flak jackets for protection.

Critics of the American approach to postwar peacekeeping in Iraq have claimed that the perceived hostile attitude of the US troops has antagonised the Iraqi people. They also point out that since the war officially ended on May 1 more than 50 American soldiers have been killed in almost daily attacks by pro-Saddam gunmen, compared with six British troops shot dead in one incident in southern Iraq in June.

The British team, now back from five weeks of instructing American officers in Iraq, tried to outline different options for dealing with the country’s internal security, described as the “non-lethal” approach. One member of the team from the Operational Training and Advisory Group (Optag), attached to the Army’s Land Command, said: “We gave advice about adopting a lower profile in internal security operations, such as trying the handle of a door before putting your boot in. It’s a different way of doing things.”...

During the special “softer-approach” courses, attended by about 550 American military instructors, the British team visited the 1st US Armoured Division in Baghdad, the 4th Infantry Division in Tikrit, the 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment in al- Ramadi, and the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul. Colonel Loudon and his fellow instructors taught how British troops in Ulster and other internal security operations carried out house searches, combining “friendliness with thoroughness”, and also urban and rural patrols, using low-level, not high-profile, tactics.

Credit: The London Times, August 1st 2003.
More than 2,000 Polish soldiers left for Iraq yesterday, the first in a series of deployments from a Europe that has proved willing to send troops to Iraq despite anti-U.S. pressure from France and Germany.

The soldiers will be part of a 9,200-strong Polish-led multinational division ensuring security in one of postwar Iraq's four zones.

"Democracy, liberty and respect for human rights would not have existed in Poland and in Central Europe if Western democracies had treated us with indifference 14 years ago. We have a duty to pay our political and moral debt," President Aleksander Kwasniewski told his troops as they prepared to depart.

Good man.

Interesting comments from a recently retired USAF officer on the nature of the Defense Department under Secretary Rumsfeld.

Some of it isn't pretty.
If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of "intelligence" found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the post-Saddam occupation has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one need look no further than the process inside the office of the secretary of defense. I can identify three prevailing themes.

• Functional isolation of the professional corps. Civil service and active-duty military professionals were noticeably uninvolved in key areas of interest to Under Secretary for Policy Douglas Feith, Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld. In terms of Israel and Iraq, all primary staff work was conducted by political appointees. These personnel may be exceptionally qualified. But the human resource depth made possible through broad-based teamwork with the professional policy and intelligence corps was never established and apparently never wanted.

• Cross-agency cliques: Much has been written about the role of the founding members of the Project for a New American Century, the Center for Security Policy and the American Enterprise Institute and their new positions in the Bush administration. Certainly, appointees sharing particular viewpoints are expected to congregate, and that an overwhelming number of these appointees have such organizational ties is neither conspiratorial nor unusual. What is unusual is the way this network operates solely with its membership across the various agencies -- in particular the State Department, the National Security Council and the Office of the Vice President.

I personally witnessed several cases of staff officers being told not to contact their counterparts at State or the National Security Council because that particular decision would be processed through a different channel.

• Groupthink. Defined as "reasoning or decision-making by a group, often characterized by uncritical acceptance or conformity to prevailing points of view," groupthink was, and probably remains, the predominant characteristic of Pentagon Middle East policy development. The result of groupthink is the elevation of opinion into a kind of accepted "fact," and uncritical acceptance of extremely narrow and isolated points of view.

Iraq continued to inch Thursday toward a future without Saddam Hussein, his government or his family.

In Baghdad, the U.S. administrator said a new constitution could be written and accepted by the Iraqi people in a referendum, followed by general elections by the middle of next year.

Officials also said they want a cell phone system in operation by November; the landline system is still a shambles after coalition bombing.

Italian soldiers will be rotated from Iraq every four months to maintain their motivation, the head of the Italian armed forces said in an interview published on Friday.

''The forecast is that (troops) will be in the theatre of operations for four months before being replaced,'' General Giulio Fraticelli told La Repubblica daily.

''Which means that we need a lot of men. For every man in the field we need three at home preparing to relieve him. And now, with about 8,500 troops involved in international missions, we are almost at the limit of our capacity.''

Since Baghdad was seized by U.S.-led troops, Italy has sent 1,700 soldiers to Iraq. It also has more than 5,000 troops in the Balkan states and some 2,000 soldiers in Afghanistan.
After facing criticism for its early failures to find any conclusive evidence of weapons, the administration has turned to Kay, a former U.N. weapons inspector, to take control of the process and launch a more sophisticated and thorough search. And Kay is clearly wary of losing credibility by publicly discussing evidence before he is certain of its authenticity.

"We do not intend to expose this evidence until we have full confidence that it is solid proof," he said.

Despite his caution, however, Kay did say that tantalizing finds might be just around the corner. "The American people should not be surprised by surprises," he said. "We are determined to take this apart and every day, I must say, we're surprised by new advances that we're making."

Of the 30-odd responses, about half didn't quite conform to our strict rules. Only troops actually on the ground within Iraq's borders count, which excludes nations that have promised to send peacekeepers next month or this fall. So, our apologies to the reportedly soon-to-arrive forces from Georgia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mongolia, Ukraine, and elsewhere. And we're looking for more-or-less exact figures of verifiable authenticity, so sketchy tips about South African mercenaries, alas, had to be disregarded.

Finnish reader Kerkko Paananen noted that Explainer gave short shrift to 43 Estonian soldiers who are serving under Centcom's operative command. That includes 32 infantrymen on patrol in Baghdad's Abu Ghuraybi district and 11 logistics specialists at the U.S. Air Force base in Talil. Paananen went the extra yard by adding that the Baghdad-based Estonians are outfitted with Galil SAR automatic rifles, MG-3 machine guns, Carl-Gustav and AT4 mortars, Browning pistols, and hand grenades.

Another reader pointed out that 28 Macedonian troops are among the peacekeepers, having arrived in the Taji (about 30 kilometers north of Baghdad) in early June. No word on specifically what sidearms they'll be brandishing, though the Web site does note that the Macedonians will be tooling around in several Hummers.

Read it all - it gets weirder.
U.S. forces in charge of one of Iraq's most restive regions told tribal elders on Thursday they would offer a reward of $500 to any Iraqis who hand in shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.
The United States will begin training Iraq's new military this weekend.

Officials said the training program will begin on Saturday. They said the program was delayed because of intense U.S. search-and-destroy operations of Sunni insurgents northwest of Baghdad.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, head of the U.S. military in Iraq, said more than 11,000 people have expressed interest in enlisting for the new Iraqi army. Sanchez said on July 23 that the first battalion of the new Iraqi army would begin training within 10 days.

Officials said 12,000 Iraqis will be trained in 2003 for the new army. By the end of 2005, the Iraqi army is projected to number 40,000, Middle East Newsline reported.

At the same time, the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division is training Iraq's paramilitary forces. Officials said the 101st is training a new class of officers for the Iraqi Facility Protection Force, which provides security at power plants, water treatment plants and other public works facilities.

"Before, judges had no freedom to make decisions. Now I have freedom," says Salah Khadar al-Jubouri, chief judge of the Salahaddin Provincial Court. "Gradually, like a recovering patient, the laws are being applied with justice," he says in his spacious Tikrit chamber.

In fits and starts, the gears are starting to churn again in Iraq's antiquated court system, badly looted and broken in the aftermath of the war. Already, about 150 of the nation's 400 courts have reopened for business. Reestablishing the justice system and rule of law is vital to efforts to build a democracy in Iraq, where general elections could take place as early as mid-2004...

For the first time, judges such as Mr. Jubouri in Tikrit say they are free to hand down decisions without interference from the regime. Before the war, Hussein and his relatives and associates were "untouchable," says Jubouri, recalling a case he handled in the central city of Balad where a murderer was ordered released by the regime. Today, he says, no one is above the law.

"Before, many criminals escaped. Now all people have equality under the law and the judge tries his case to the end," Jubouri says.

Renovating the station, located on the southwestern edge of Al-Sadr City -- formerly known as Saddam City -- is just one of the many jobs completed by the 94th Eng. Bn.

Led by 2nd Lt. Jessica Durbin, a platoon leader in the 94th Eng. Bn., the unit's carpenters, masons, electricians and plumbers began work on the station June 15.

The Americans and Iraqis worked side-by-side on the station while sharing and learning construction techniques. The Iraqi contractors were pleased to learn that the U.S. troops had skills other than soldiering, and were willing to use them to renovate local facilities, officials said.

Throughout the project, soldiers and contractors worked hand-in-hand. For example, while an Army electrician installed a light fixture, an Iraqi electrician was wiring it in. As the work progressed, the engineers formed solid professional working relationships with many of the Iraqi contractors...

Americans and Iraqis alike said the job was a great learning experience. Faris commented that the Iraqi contractors were better at masonry than their multi-tasked U.S. counterparts. Due to their vast experience, Faris said, the Iraqi masons could "run laps around" the engineers in plastering the station's walls.

"This is not only about building a police station - it is about building relationships," said Durbin.

On the banks of the Tigris River in Baghdad, a combat zone only weeks ago, a row of art galleries showcase abstract art, made in Iraq.

Clients are scarce at the galleries on Abu Nawas Street. Only a few wander in on a July afternoon, what with looting and shooting prevalent after the toppling of President Saddam Hussein. ``We can't put a high price on a painting, because no one will buy it,'' said Abdullah Omar, co-owner of the Al-Meezan Gallery, pointing to a geometric work he said is worth twice the $300 price tag.

Omar and other gallery owners are betting on a rebound as soon as Baghdad Airport reopens and artists and dealers travel abroad. Art sellers say they long for the freedom of expression and commerce that regime change can bring. The hope, too, is that Iraqi artists living abroad will soon sell works in their home country.

Already, Omar said he is taking 200 paintings by a group of Iraqi artists to Berlin for a temporary showing, a trip that would have been unthinkable under Hussein.

"Call me whenever you can - we need to know you're still alive."

My family and friends take their cues about life here in Iraq either from the television crews still in the country, or from the "war zone" classification that is a reality for the military and a bonus- generating fiction for civilian administrators.

Many of the American businessmen interested in the opportunities here are still huddled in Kuwait.

The truth is that while US forces will be under intermittent guerrilla attack for some time to come, most Americans and other Westerners are reasonably safe as long as they follow simple precautions.

While Iraqi society is still adjusting to the end of the Saddam regime and the sputtering beginning of the US civil administration, a stranger can count on the locals' civility and hospitality. Most of the time, anyway.

Don't go out too readily in Baghdad after 9pm, given that the street lights probably won't be on and the thousands of criminals Saddam released from prison are on the loose. Watch for bandits on the roads to Jordan and Kuwait.

Frankly, though, I am not as concerned as I would be in parts of Detroit, Washington or Los Angeles.

Security, while not great, is improving and is better than in many places where companies and investors already operate. This is not Colombia or Russia; whacking your rival is not an acceptable business practice here.

The United States has plans to create a special tribunal composed of Iraqi judges to try Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity if he is captured, State Department officials and administration legal advisers said Thursday.

"We're looking for an Iraqi-led process to deal with these abuses," a senior State Department official said. "It's important that we bring ownership of these matters to the Iraqi people."...

Merritt said the judges could be chosen from the several who were dismissed or exiled while Saddam controlled Iraq. He said a principal proposal was for a three-judge panel of newly reinstalled jurists.

Search teams looking for Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction have found something else -- dozens of fighter jets buried beneath the desert sands.
July 31, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-92



BAGHDAD, Iraq – One 1st Armored Division soldier was killed and three were wounded when their M-113 Armored Personnel Carrier hit a landmine on a road in Baghdad at approximately 12:20 p.m. on July 31.

The soldiers were evacuated to nearby medical facilities for treatment.

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

The incident is under investigation.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 1st. The 82d day of CPT Patti's deployment.

August. In Baghdad.


Thursday, July 31, 2003


Occasionally I have made reference to the Family Readiness Group (FRG) to which I belong. The FRG is an alliance of willing military spouses banding together to handle issues that pop up while our soldier-spouses are deployed.

To be honest, many spouses have little regard for the FRG, and choose not to participate in the meetings and cookouts that are designed to create a bond between one another. But some of us do...and every now and again it pays dividends.

Case in point: My phone rang at 11:00 pm last night. It was one of our active spouses, Maritza. She told me that a German ambulance was in her housing area picking up a spouse from our company. Let's call the injured lady "Susan".

Susan had been hit by a car while rollerblading in the housing area. She had multiple fractures, dislocations and abrasions.

Forty-five minutes later I was at the hospital. Expecting that I would have to sit and wait for information I was surprised to find Susan's 15 year-old sister absolutely alone in the emergency room waiting area. Sister is visiting Susan from Bulgaria. I speak no Bulgarian. But in pidgen English and German we were able to communicate a bit.

Of course, I needed no linguistic skills to recognize that Sister was distraught.

I also knew we needed a plan to touch a lot of include what to do with Sister.

Sister thought she wanted to sit in the hospital overnight...though I tried to get her to understand that Susan was already on morphine and would be given sedatives once the bones were set. I wasn't getting through.

I conferred again with Maritza, the one who called me originally. Told her about Sister, and gave her an update on Susan. Ten minutes later, Maritza calls me back. She and Jolie would be leaving for the hospital just as soon as Jolie could arrange for someone to watch her two young sons. (By now it is about 1:00 am).

Who is Jolie?, I asked.

Oh - she is another military spouse who comes originally from...Bulgaria.

Two spouses from Bulgaria on the same block??? Only in the Army.

Long story short...Maritza and Jolie convince Sister to come home (no doubt helped by Jolie's language skills), and by 8:30 this morning we had notified Susan's employer, begun the notification process to let her husband in Baghdad know, had also notified everyone in the Family Readiness Group - so that visits and flowers and cards and caring begins flowing to Susan today.

And I'm confident that by this afternoon Maritza and Jolie will have devised a plan for taking care of Sister.

In a word, the FRG did exactly what the FRG is designed to do.

Now, I don't know...because I've never worked there. But do you think the employees at Wachovia bank have such a safety net, should something happen to their loved ones while the employee is on the road?

THE BBC - NICE TO TYRANTS, NASTY TO DEMOCRATS: So, here's what Tony Blair said (as he responded to a question asking whether he would continue to serve as prime minister in a third Labour term in government): "There is a big job of work to do - my appetite for doing it is undiminished."

And here's what the BBC reported in its lede: "Mr Blair, who said his appetite for power remained 'undiminished'...."

And not to let a good distortion go, the website then links to the story thusly: "Tony Blair sidesteps questions on the David Kelly affair - but says his appetite for power is "undiminished"."

(via Instapundit)
Legislatures are not the best institutions for directing research, economic or otherwise. The banished Pentagon program didn't deserve this sort of treatment.

The press coverage and the criticisms of many Democrats seem based on an assumption that Iraq is somehow a rerun of Vietnam. But the facts on the ground in Iraq should not be squeezed into the Vietnam template. Progress is being made in establishing the first rule-of-law democracy in an Arab country-an example with the potential of changing the whole region for the better. You may have to search hard for it in most American news media, but there is good news coming from Iraq.
Iraq's U.S. administrator, L. Paul Bremer, said Thursday that general elections could be held in Iraq within a year to replace a U.S.-appointed Governing Council whose legitimacy has been questioned by the international community...

"It is certainly not unrealistic to think that we could have elections by mid-year 2004," Bremer said while touring the partially refurbished Iraqi Foreign Ministry with members of the interim government he appointed on July 13.

"And when a sovereign government is installed, the coalition authority will cede authority to the government and my job here will be over," Bremer said.

And so too, hopefully, a whole lot of our troops.

An interesting and amusing, if twisted, look at the dead Husseins debate.
Maybe Iraqi culture needed tuned up worse than an '86 Chevy Caprice Classic with blown gaskets, but when it comes to demanding proof positive, they're ahead of the curve - no matter how graphic and disturbing it is to sensitive American eyes.

As odd as it may seem, let's be culturally sensitive enough to realize these people have been violated for years. They've seen things most of us have only seen in "Faces of Death: Vol. 1-27." A couple dead guys on prime time can't hurt now. They need proof so give it to them.

When in Rome, eat spaghetti. When in Kabul, play goatball. When in Baghdad, drag Husseins through the streets. Let's face it, as Americans, we aren't that far removed from this kind of behavior. We aren't more than 110 years away from public hangings, posses and, oh yeah, genocide, so let's not be too shocked.

And any American knows deep down that a guy on the lam caught with $400,000 U.S., a bottle of Viagra and condoms deserves whatever he gets - cocky jerk.


From the same article as below. Just to highlight the spin that simply washes over most readers.
This is the mindset of most Iraqi people, the Jumailis say firmly, despite the daily reports of US casualties that underscore a stubborn resistance to the American occupation and a growing tide of criticism against the US-sanctioned Governing Council.

If you assert that your child has grown over the summer, to prove it you probably stand the child against a mark on the door frame made in April.

To say the deficit has grown, we go back to compare it to a known point six months ago.

But the author appears to believe he needs no such reference point to measure public sentiment in Iraq.

Here the author asserts in a rather off-handed manner that the criticism of the Governing Council is a "growing tide".

Says who? Compared to what? How do we know it is growing? What about the possibility that it exists, but at a constant rate...or even is diminishing?

Keeping this web site is an exercise that leads me to read over one-hundred news stories each day. The result is this sort of sleight of the journalistic hand just jumps out at me these days.

In the past I never even noticed this soft-spoken editorializing. And that is the leaves its pessimistic mark without many knowing it is there.

Frankly it reminds me of the trick we played in school in the eighth grade. At lunch break one boy sidles up along side the other, slaps him on the back and says "nice touchdown you made on Thursday night" and walks off.

Meanwhile, the honoree is clueless that he now wears a sign on his back reading "loser".

It is a sort of drive by offense...and if you aren't attuned to it, you may find yourself pessimistic without even knowing why.

Don't fall for it.
The Jumaili men insist they are typical of postwar Baghdad. Not too poor, although they run the 15-person household on $160 a month. Not too rich, although they live in a handsome house with a garden. And not very political, having shunned the Ba'ath Party under Saddam Hussein and now watching American policy with a wait-and-see wariness.

Religion is paramount, and the house is filled with framed verses from the Koran and glossy images of Mecca. God will determine the family's fate, the men stress.

This is the mindset of most Iraqi people, the Jumailis say firmly, despite the daily reports of US casualties that underscore a stubborn resistance to the American occupation and a growing tide of criticism against the US-sanctioned Governing Council.

"You can destroy a house in two days," said Khaled al-Jumaili, 36, a veteran who served in the Iran war. "But to build a house, it takes months and months and months."...

No one criticizes the American presence. The soldiers are praised as polite, which came as a revelation to the women, who had been warned by the government that the troops would abuse them. The family agrees that reconstruction is difficult, and that the Americans should be given a chance.

Hussein, meanwhile, is vilified as a monster who instilled fear in every household. "If we had invited you here before," Shehaly, the lawyer, says to a visitor, "we should all be put in jail."


It is what the American soldier does best.
After months of pre-packaged, ready-to-eat meals, U.S. soldiers in Baghdad longed for warm, cooked food.

So when Sgt. April Brown arrived in May and started cooking, the soldiers could hardly believe their luck.

"(A hot meal) helps the morale here. It's the only thing we have to look forward to," the 37-year-old Glen Burnie resident said in a recent telephone interview from Iraq with The Capital.

Sgt. Brown was initially deployed to Iraq as an administrative specialist, but when she was asked in May to cook for her unit, the 352nd Civil Affairs Command, she was happy to oblige. Even though Sgt. Brown works for the U.S. Postal Service in Odenton, she cooks for weddings, receptions and change-of-command ceremonies.

That background has enabled her to adapt well in Iraq, where she prepares dishes like teriyaki chicken, lasagna and steak, in addition to desserts like apple cobbler and rice pudding for 100 to 150 soldiers.

The cooking begins in mid-morning and by 6 p.m. the soldiers are chowing down on a hearty meal. Fried chicken is requested frequently and grilled steaks are another favorite, she said.

"Fried chicken is the most popular because we don't get that that often," Sgt. Brown said.

Cooking in the middle of a war has challenged Sgt. Brown's
creativity. She's been forced to find a variety of substitutes to cooking staples, using biscuit mix for a pie crust and Kool-aid lemonade mix in place of lemon extract in some dishes. Sugar is sparse and only available in packets.

Though they differ on much in the 2004 defense spending bill, both houses of Congress agree that servicemembers fighting America’s war on terrorism should be able to carry 120 days of leave to the next fiscal year.
If they can’t get to Kuwait, servicemembers in Iraq now have a special trip to help them escape. The land component command began offering four-day trips starting two weeks ago to Qatar, where servicemembers can have a beer and escape high threat levels.

The Army camp in Qatar isn’t Club Med — they still stay in a tent. But there’s a pool, air conditioning, recreation and, of course, beer.

Up to 120 troops are taken to Qatar on a military flight every day from one of three airfields in Iraq. Individual commands decide who can go on the trips, which are free.

The trip compensates for the fact that troops have no escape in Iraq because of the mission and dearth of commercial travel options.

“It gets them out of the combat environment,” Rowan said. “It gives them a chance to put down their weapon and relax.”
Despite the e-mails from grateful soldiers and the media attention Mayo has received, she thinks her efforts are “no big deal.”

“All it takes is to do it,” Mayo said. “My mom is here. She’s 75, and she tells me about [similar efforts in] World War II, and this would’ve been no big deal.

“I sound hokey, but I’m just so sick of people being unpatriotic.”

Her patriotism has moved her to set up a “family-run” organization that has thus far enlisted the help of Home Depot, which donated 20 units; her local volunteer fire department, whose members help her box items; the Bear, Del., post office; and her brother Steve Nichols, who owns Nichols Excavation and offers the company’s heavy equipment when big shipments need to be moved.

Until recently, her 10-year-old daughter, Olivia, was her Webmaster. Things have gotten so crazy that Mayo needed to farm that out.

A ten year old web-master? Suddenly I'm embarrassed at my efforts.

Read the whole thing here.
July 30, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-89



BAGHDAD, Iraq – Aggressive measures were taken yesterday by Coalition forces in efforts to create a safe and secure environment in Iraq.

In the last 24 hours, coalition forces conducted 51 raids, 953 day patrols and 737 night patrols and conducted 142 day patrols and 145 night patrols jointly with Iraqi police. Iraqi Police conducted 16 day patrols and nine night patrols.

The total raids and patrols resulted in 559 arrests including two for murder, four for robbery, five for aggravated assault, 39 for theft two for controlled substance violation, 235 for weapons violations and 272 for various other crimes.

Three artillery pieces and some 50 caliber rounds that were found in the Fallujah area were destroyed by a 3rd ACR explosive ordnance team.

July 31, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-90



TIKRIT, Iraq – One 4th Infantry Division soldier was killed and two were wounded in a small arms attack at a tactical operation center July 30 at approximately 11:45 p.m. about 40 km east of Ba’qubah.

The soldiers were evacuated to the 21st Combat Support Hospital for treatment.

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

July 31, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-91



BAGHDAD, Iraq – The Karbala city council members publicly expressed their support for Coalition forces actions during recent demonstrations in the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force area of operation on July 29. The Karbala city council said the Coalition is handling the security situation in Karbala properly.

At a Husaybah border-crossing checkpoint, an attempted improvised explosive device attack was prevented when 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment soldiers discovered it. The IED consisted of a propane cylinder connected to electrical wires and had wires connected that ran into an alley nearby. The local Iraqi Police dismantled and removed the IED.

During the last 24 hours, coalition forces conducted 44 raids, 1011 day patrols and 817 night patrols and conducted 136 day patrols and 136 night patrols jointly with Iraqi police. Iraqi Police conducted 16 day patrols and nine night patrols.

The total raids and patrols resulted in 161 arrests including 16 for murder, one for kidnapping, 10 for carjacking, eight for aggravated assault, four for burglary and eight for looting.

THURSDAY JULY 31st. The 81st day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003


I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this topic as it is only tangentially related to our focus here.

But just a word or two.

It occurs to me that very, very few people get up in the morning and set as their day's goal "to do something completely and ourtrageously stupid."

Yet, if you listen to the knee jerk reactions to the Terrorism Futures Market idea by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) you might be tempted to believe that someone at DARPA did just that.

Well, they didn't. In fact, if one takes the time to study the proposal one finds this to be an astonishingly refreshing example of "out of the box thinking" by the defense establishment.

Too bad the knee jerks killed it before even entering a debate (or studying the proposal for crying out loud).

Read about the idea here and here. And see what we missed.

In my view it beats the hell outta "Red, Orange, Amber, Yellow, Green".
Critics of these prediction markets, however, are simply attacking something they don't understand: Such markets have a good track record, could help tremendously in protecting the nation from terror, and pose no moral quandaries that Americans don't already grapple with.

To begin with, there's a good reason to think that idea futures would work pretty well when it comes to predicting terrorist attacks. Consider the following existing prediction markets:

The play-money Hollywood Stock Exchange (run by bond-trading firm Cantor-Fitzgerald) is much more accurate than movie studio's own models in predicting movie's box office grosses and stars' career trajectories.

The now defunct play-money Foresight Exchange accurately predicted that the Y2K computer glitch wouldn't be a big deal as early as 1997.

The Iowa Electronic Markets, which take real-money bets on political candidates, frequently outperform polls when it comes to predicting election outcomes. Several months before the 2000 elections, even as Al Gore showed a significant lead in the polls, his stock and Bush's traded at the same levels in the markets.


Perhaps he should have reconsidered his strategy. In an unwitting move, Saddam just helped our side.
Skeptical Iraqis seem to be coming to grips with the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons.

Some are now convinced Odai and Qusai Hussein are dead because of an audiotape that aired on the Arab satellite network Al-Arabiya on Tuesday. A voice said to be that of Saddam called them martyrs.

One Iraqi man said he believes the brothers are dead because Saddam is confirming it. Another who heard the tape is dismissing the latest call to arms against U.S. forces. As he puts it, “Saddam is nobody these days. He has no power, no army, no friends, what can he do now?”

Ambushes of our troops in the Sunni triangle have been described in excruciating detail on the evening news. Pessimism has been expressed as a nightly ritual, and the angry crowds in Baghdad have colored our country's view of Iraq's future...

Although the hit-and-run attacks continue, with every passing day, more militants are running than are hitting us. One of the aphorisms that our seasoned combat veterans routinely share with younger soldiers on approaching long deployments is especially fitting here: "Let's make things a little better each day."

This advice might just as well be proffered to media commentators, Congress and a concerned public regarding their expectations for progress in Iraq.

When you see soldiers on the street patrolling with the new Iraqi police officers, you know there is great hope. When you have seen the stark difference between the empty and frightened streets of early April and the bustling markets of today, you feel the hope. The well-publicized incidents of violence are spasms of resistance to a concept so compelling it cannot be denied -- freedom. The attacks themselves are generated by small bands of militants and hired guns at the behest of "return party" chieftains and terrorist financiers.

And when you have the chance to see the steely determination of American and coalition soldiers serving here through the heat of each day, you cannot help knowing that hope has already defeated tyranny.


In the sun-scorched compounds occupied by 130,000 Army troops in Iraq, soldiers have two potential sources of water.

One is bottled in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia or Greece and shipped to Kuwait, where stevedores wrestle crates of it off ships. Then, in giant, windswept marshaling yards, forklifts labor in ankle-deep desert grit to stack the stuff into cardboard-box mountains. Next, it is loaded onto tractor-trailer trucks that groan north in snaking convoys -- pallets of cartons, 12 bottles to a case, truck after truck after truck.

The military buys so much bottled water, from so many vendors, through so many different agencies, that no one knows precisely how much, at what cost, it takes to slake its thirst.

But oh, that water is sweet.

The other, traditional source is the 400-gallon steel tank sitting on a trailer in the desert sun. That's a Water Buffalo, in Army lingo.

The Buffalo holds water that's been purified by the ROWPU boys -- the soldiers who man the Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Units. Miracle workers of a sort, they can drop a hose into any green-scummed swamp or saltwater ditch and pump out something drinkable.

ROWPUs work by forcing water through a series of filters, which strain out various poisons and "most" smelly stuff, according to a recent Pentagon assessment.

Still, after the ROWPU water has been pumped into a Smifty (that's a Semi Trailer Mounted Fabric Tank -- basically a huge, rubberized bag on a flat-bed truck), hauled to a battalion headquarters and transferred to a Water Buffalo, what comes out when a thirsty grunt turns the spigot may be less than palatable.

Worse, in some units this summer, ROWPU water got a rap for something other than tasting bad: It was rumored to be making soldiers sick.

Has your soldier asked you to send powdered drink mixes? If so, it is for perhaps two reasons.

Drink mixes help the 100 degree water go down easier...even the good stuff.

And the drink mixes mask, to some degree, the strong chlorine taste (and "off smell") of ROWPU water.

Granted, the bottled water is a logistical pain - although hell, we contract food service in many places, seems we could contract water delivery as well. Ultimately though, ROWPU water that isn't consumed does no one any good at all.

I was once in charge of the Army Food Program...we did everything possible to MREs to make them better and better. And they are pretty good...but not for 90 days in a row. The plan called for MREs only for no more than 30 days in a row and then fresh food would replace them.

Seems to me that's the trick we are in with water. You can't drink pool-water for 90 days in a row (or more) especially when you require a gallon or more of it every day.

And as for "mental toughness" GEN Keane...somehow I think working every day for months on end with no day off in 115 degree heat and eating mostly MREs probably serves to meet the "mental toughness" threshhold.

At least, it would for me.

Saddam's home town...but the tide turns there as well.
Events culminating in Tuesday's raid, witnessed by this reporter, highlight what US commanders say are strong links between some of Hussein's most ardent loyalists and the well-armed militias that are carrying out lethal attacks on American soldiers in Tikrit and across central Iraq.

Over the past 10 days in Tikrit, four-man cells of paramilitary fighters known as Saddam Fedayeen have launched a string of attacks on US soldiers using RPGs, explosive devices, and small arms.

Wearing black clothing - including black veils - and operating at night, some of the men's hands bear the three-dot tattoo of the Fedayeen.

US commanders were especially struck by the fact that many of the Fedayeen fighters they are apprehending or killing have close family ties to Hussein associates or bodyguards.

On July 23, for example, a team of Fedayeen in black garb riding in a white pickup truck loaded with munitions fired RPGs at US soldiers in Bradley Fighting Vehicles in Tikrit. US troops returned fire, killing all four assailants. Local Iraqis helped identify one of the dead as the nephew of Mr. Musslit, and those details helped lead, in turn, to Musslit's capture in Tikrit early Tuesday.

"Those closely associated with Saddam appear to be very desperate - they are sacrificing their own 20-year-olds," Russell said in the aftermath of the raid.

Read the whole thing here.

Good rundown by commodity on the status of postwar-Iraq.
SCHOOLS: The coalition has completed 585 projects to rehabilitate schools, many of which lacked maintenance for at least a decade under Saddam's government. But many schools have been looted, and some parents say they won't send their children to classes until the streets are safer. Most universities have reopened, and have just finished final exams that were delayed by the war.

With Washington Post reporters on what they've seen in Iraq.
Frankfort, Ky.: Do you think the resistance of the Baathist party members will be eliminated when Saddam is captured or killed?

Anthony Shadid: That's definitely the pressing question here. My sense in spending time in the area north of Baghdad, where the attacks are concentrated, is that Hussein's death or capture will diminish the resistance. But I don't believe it will end it, and I think one trend that may emerge in the coming months is a more apparent Islamic opposition -- both home-grown and imported -- that we've only started to see recently.

A 35-year-old township native who joined the Army five years ago to find himself and lately only wanted to come home for a backyard barbecue with his loved ones is among the latest soldiers killed in Iraq.

Spc. William J. Maher III died Monday when his Humvee vehicle, traveling in a convoy, was rocked by a homemade bomb dropped from a highway overpass in central Baghdad.

His battalion, which is in the 36th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Armored Division, is training new Iraqi policemen, Maher's family said last night...

Billy Maher was the one who made their family proud and was their living symbol of patriotism.

"I love America, and I love Americana," Kelly Massimini said of the dozens of collectibles that dot her town house. But her other brother, 33-year-old Bryan, said it best in a letter to Maher III recently.

"I'm proud to be an American. My brother is in the U.S. Army, and I can't wait to shake a veteran's hand," Kelly said, reading a passage of the letter to Billy, who was so moved by his brother's words that he wrote them to Kelly.

Please pray.
"But I'm going to take a little risk here and I'm going to tell you that, you know, intuitively I think we need more people," General Schoomaker said with far more candor than usually is on display at confirmation hearings. "I mean, it's that simple."

The Chairman-select of the Joint Chiefs to the Senate Armed Services Committee on whether we need a larger Army.

Interestingly this doesn't fit in with the perception that Secretary Rumsfeld isn't keen on the idea of a larger Army, coupled with Schoomaker's being hand-picked by Rumsfeld even though the General had been retired for two years.

We'll have to keep an eye on the Secretary for clues on this.

Story here.

No small matter - that is 45,000 sticks of dynamite that can no longer be used against our troops.

BAGHDAD, Iraq — The deaths of Saddam Hussein’s sons has created a new wave of informers willing to help American troops, said Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

After arriving in Iraq on Sunday and talking with soldiers in the north, Myers said that an element of fear among citizens has been lifted.

“What I found today was in the number of Iraqis coming forward,” Myers said. “There’s been a big spike in the numbers that are coming forward providing evidence of weapons caches, of where people are.”...

He pointed to the find of 45,000 sticks of dynamite and a cache of ground-to-air missiles as further proof that more Iraqis are willing to help coalition troops.

It is just the beginning of things to come, Myers hinted.

“More Iraqis now are feeling freer to come forward,” he said. “I mean, fear ruled this country. You wouldn’t dare come forward in the past without fear that your children or some member of your family would be tortured or killed or drug off to jail. So, as you remove elements of fear, things become possible.”


Quality of Life. And the brass seems to be taking it seriously in Iraq.

Of course - they need to.
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Commanders for the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) have new marching orders from their leader, Gen. David Petraeus: After getting the mission done, make quality of life a priority for your soldiers...

“Anything they can do, as long as it’s not illegal or dangerous,” is allowed, he said.

In Iraq, where summer temperatures soar to more than 120 degrees during the day and rarely drop below 90 degrees, even at night, the priorities are simple, Hodges said: Make sure there is enough power to air-condition sleeping quarters; there is running water for toilet and shower facilities; and there is plenty of clean, cool water.

“The goal is to get one refrigerator per platoon,” Hodges said.

Beyond those goals, Petraeus’ other metrics include Internet and telephone access, timely mail, and the chance every few days to purchase safe and tasty meals that bear no resemblance to Meals, Ready to Eat, Hodges said.

Troops should also be offered rest-and-relaxation trips, “so they sleep between sheets and shower eight times, if they want to,” Hodges said.

At issue, whether soldiers can keep unused leave days beyond the "peace time limits' if deployed for long periods in the Global War on Terror.
Though they differ on much in the 2004 defense spending bill, both houses of Congress agree that servicemembers fighting America’s war on terrorism should be able to carry 120 days of leave to the next fiscal year.

For almost two years, troops engaged in the war on terrorism have been able to seek waivers to carry up to 90 days of annual accrued leave, a month more than the 60-day peacetime limit.

But the war on terrorism has committed more and more troops to regions far from home, and now the Army is calling for yearlong deployments to missions in Iraq, prompting some lawmakers to seek ways to better compensate those deployed troops, said aides for both the House and Senate armed service committees.

The measure is tucked into the 2004 defense budget proposal, now in conference as the House and Senate work out differences. The bill won’t be worked again until House members return from their summer recess on Sept. 2.


Neighborhood councils.
There are 88 neighborhood advisory councils in Baghdad alone. None of them existed a few months ago. Representatives from each neighborhood were chosen to form eight district councils. From there, a few were picked to form the city council, which is currently meeting twice each week...

The councils aren’t exactly running the areas they’re responsible for.

Rather, they serve as a forum to discuss issues and try to resolve problems. They make recommendations to the military units in their areas or to the appropriate Iraqi ministries.

“This will get Iraqis to respond to Iraqis,” said Lt. Col. P.J. Dermer, another officer assigned to the Coalition Provisional Authority. “Instead of 10,000 screaming Iraqis in front of a ministry building, they have a body now where hopefully they can work things through”


First mention of R&R for the troops in Iraq. As of now it is meager, but I'm sure every bit helps.

BAGHDAD, Iraq — To bystanders, the blue- and-white bus that pulled into the dusty headquarters of the “Bastogne Bulldogs” early Monday morning looked like any other old bus.

But to the small crowd of 101st Airborne (Air Assault) soldiers gathered at Qayyarah West Airfield, a former military air base about 30 miles south of Mosul, it was far from any old bus.

It was “The Big Blue Bus” — destination, two nights’ fun, rest, and freedom from stress, worry and work.

“Basically, we get to relax,” said Pfc. Cristal Schorn, a 20-year-old from Schaumberg, Ill., who was busy repacking her bag before boarding the bus.

July 29, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-88



BAGHDAD, Iraq – Possible attacks were prevented through the removal of enemy weapons during multiple raids throughout Iraq on July 28 by Coalition forces in support of the effort to create a secure environment.

Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) conducted a raid on a local café in search of a person who allegedly attacked various police stations in the Mosul area. The soldiers detained 10 individuals and confiscated two AK-47s and 400,000 Iraqi Dinars.

A large weapons cache was located at a café in the Layal area by the 4th Infantry Division. The soldiers confiscated a number of weapons including two 120 mm mortars, two 82 mm mortars, two 60 mm mortars and three rocket-propelled grenade launchers. More than 2000 RPG rounds and an unknown number of 82 mm and 60 mm mortar rounds remain in the café, which is being guarded by Coalition forces.

Coalition forces detained three Iraqi males and confiscated one van, three AK-47s, and ammunition when the 4th ID closed an illegal checkpoint in the vicinity of one of its base camps. Another 4th ID patrol confiscated 1,000 grenades that were hidden in a haystack in the vicinity of Salman Pak.

Another 4th ID patrol located a cache of weapons in Samarra in an area normally filled with vendors. All of the vendors fled the area as the patrol approached. Confiscated weapons include two tubes of C4 plastic explosives, eight AK-47s, 18 strips of detonation cord, 32 silencers, 49 blasting caps, 15 sticks of dynamite, three improvised explosive devices, two grenades, 2,500 various small arms rounds and an ammunition container filled with NATO 5.56 rounds.

Possible attacks were prevented by a 1st Armored Division explosive ordnance disposal team who conducted a controlled detonation of 10-107 mm rockets in the Baghdad area.

In the last 24 hours, coalition forces conducted 58 raids, 973 day patrols and 797 night patrols and conducted 167 day patrols and 137 night patrols jointly with Iraqi police. Iraqi Police conducted 20 day patrols and 11 night patrols.

The total raids and patrols resulted in 176 arrests for various criminal activities including 17 for murder, two for kidnapping, five for car-jacking, five for aggravated assault, 10 for burglary and two for looting.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 30th. The 80th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Philieas Fogg would be home by now. CPT Patti is not.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Today's Raped-By-Uday Count Stands at Zero

Go see it here.

(via Instapundit)
BAGHDAD, July 29 — Sitting at a rickety desk with only a ceiling fan to cool Baghdad's searing summer air, Sajida hopes learning English will help her talk to the U.S. soldiers she sees as saviours.

It could also save her life.

She and the four other students in her beginners' English conversation class at Baghdad's Mamoun language institute are trying to gain an upper hand in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq -- where the streets are largely ruled by U.S. soldiers.

Few soldiers have a command of Arabic and misunderstandings have been blamed for more than one fatal checkpoint shooting.

But Sajida has other aims in learning a language she feels will open up a world previously closed to her by Saddam.

''If I have any information about Fedayeen or Saddam's followers, I must tell them. We must make friends with the Americans. I see them as angels. I call them God's army,'' said Sajida, a Shi'ite Muslim who says her two brothers were killed by Saddam...

At Mamoun, around three dozen students hope the barely audible decades-old language tapes they are using will help win them jobs at U.S. companies they expect to pour into Iraq.

''Saddam Hussein made us backward,'' one student said. ''We didn't learn the computer. We didn't learn English language very good.''

Asked if they feel anything other than gratitude toward U.S.-led troops who have occupied Iraq for more than three months, the students clam up and avert their eyes.

But when pressed, they say they are less than satisfied though keen to get along.

''The electricity is not very good. The water is not good,'' said Jaafar, a student trained as a maths teacher who said he was denied work under Saddam.

''We have not seen anything from the United States of what they promised,'' he said. ''I want to help them help me.''

You know what brother? We can work with that.

(via Instapundit)

"It's not too often you have three receivers who can all run 4.3 40s," Walker said. "We all complement each other. The way we are, defenses can't really key on one person because we all have the speed to be vertical and we have the speed to go the distance. With a quarterback like Brett, hopefully, we can perform like we are all capable of, and he'll stick around even longer knowing what he will have to throw to."

Less than two hours into the first practice of camp, Favre rifled a 30-yard spiral that teased Ferguson, who zipped behind a defender but needed to extend his body in the air for the catch. Packers fans went agog at the sight of the reception. Favre got a brief second of inspiration and moved on to the next play.

"By far, this is the most talent at that position that I have ever played with as a whole," Favre said. "There is a lot of inexperience. In some ways, it's fun. There is a lot of energy. It is a lot easier to deal with guys when they make mistakes at full speed. I think the potential is there to put up a lot of points. It's much like the Rams several years ago. There is a lot of size, speed and ability."

I failed to note, until today, that football teams are in training camp.

Me, I happen to like the Packers (the Army had me 3 years in Wisconsin, during which time they won the Super Bowl...uh, I sort of HAD to become a fan out of sheer self preservation...)

Anyway - with CPT Patti in Baghdad, it tends to be the weekends that stretch out interminably for me. Start of the Football season should help that problem a bit.

For the record, though...CPT Patti is a football fan too.

Her favorite team? Whoever I'm pulling for. What a wonderful wife.

C'mon home soon, darlin'. I miss ya.

An open letter to Saddam by Art Buchwald.
I know you are not happy that the U.S. Army preferred to have your sons dead, rather than alive. You have every right to be unhappy. There were hundreds of soldiers outside their house and not one read them their rights.

Saddam, I know you are having a tough summer. But as time goes on the pain will heal.

You must be getting thousands of sympathy cards and e-mails. You may not even read this one. But I had to write it.

I know that when someone dies, he will be greeted by 17 virgins. Despite the number of virgins the Hussein boys deflowered on Earth, I am sure the two will demand their share when Allah meets them in Heaven.

You have my condolences,


Thanks to Defense Contractor guy for the tip.

While CPT Patti says her company will all be air-conditioned this week, the Brits seem to have a problem further south.

They are a lot closer to the gulf, and it would seem suffer higher humidity rates than those found in Baghdad.
Concerns include tents with no air-conditioning in 120F, having to drink "blood-temperature" bottled water because of a shortage of refrigerators, and fly-infested chemical toilets.

While the cash-strapped Czech Republic has provided its military police detachment under UK command with cooled sleeping quarters and cold drinks, British troops are suffering exhaustion from working in temperatures of more than 110 degrees during the day and then being unable to sleep in humid night conditions where the thermometer seldom falls below 70 degrees.

One military policeman, recently evacuated by air suffering from heat prostration, said: "There were 40 others from the brigade in the same condition on my flight alone. Servicemen and women are being expected to live in conditions which have not improved since the war.

"The only thing that's changed is the temperature. It's gone up by 30 degrees."

A corporal added: "If you can't sleep because of the heat, your efficiency and general health decline rapidly. People are in a state of collapse after three or four days. Most of us are still 'bird-bathing' in water from bowser trucks poured into metal or plastic basins.

"The chemical Portaloos are unusable between eleven in the morning and five at night. They become individual ovens, stinking and filled with flies. We were better off using shovels to create our own individual toilets out in the desert."

A Scottish private said: "The biggest problem is having to get at least 10 litres of water down your neck every day to avoid dehydration. None of it is cool. Most of it is blood temperature. Even the EFI, the forces shop, doesn't have enough refrigeration capacity.

"During the conflict, everyone expected to have to rough it. Three months down the line, you'd think the Ministry of Defence would at least get us a few more fridges ... The people in Whitehall should try living here for a few days."

Oops! Wonder if that last comment will invite punishment much as did the candid remarks to reporters by US troops...
BAGHDAD, Iraq July 29 — Iraq's Governing Council, the 25-member body set up by the U.S.-led coalition to run Iraq as an interim administration, elected a nine-member presidency Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, American soldiers overpowered and arrested a bodyguard who rarely left Saddam Hussein's side and said they obtained documents and information that could help them close in on the former dictator.

Read the whole story...good details here.
A new audiotape attributed to Saddam Hussein and broadcast Tuesday on Arab satellite station Al-Arabiya acknowledges the death of the ousted dictator's two sons last week.

The tape - the third attributed to Saddam this month - begins with a verse from the Quran. The speaker says Odai and Qusai, killed in a gunfight with U.S. forces in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul, would be martyrs in heaven.

"Thank God for what he destined for us, and honored us with their martyrdom for his sake,'' the speaker said in the broadcast, which was monitored in Cairo.


I admit I haven't read the Q'uran lately, but if the heaven it proposes includes those two, well count me out.
"It's quite extraordinary to see the way American soldiers are welcomed. To see the work that they're doing — and not just rolling up these filthy networks of Ba'athists and jihadists — but building schools, opening soccer stadiums, helping connect to the Internet, there is a really intelligent political program as well as a very tough military one."

Because the daily lives of Iraqis are improving and political stability is increasing, Wall Street Journal editor Paul Gigot reports from Najaf that, "The majority aren't worried we'll stay too long; they're petrified we'll leave too soon."

This is in Fallujah, the most dangerous of Iraqi cities.
Alarmed at attacks by angry relatives, U.S. Army officers in Fallujah did something unusual for the American military but common in rural Iraq. In an effort to ease the desire for revenge, they delivered formal apologies to local tribal sheiks and paid blood money for every dead and injured person deemed not to be a combatant.

The compensation payments -- $1,500 for a death and $500 for an injury -- are regarded by Fallujah's political, tribal and religious leaders as one of several bold strategies employed by U.S. commanders here over the past few weeks to appease a city brimming with discontent. Officers have ordered soldiers to knock on doors before conducting most residential searches. They have also permitted the mayor to field a 75-member armed militia and doled out nearly $2 million on municipal improvements instead of waiting for private American contractors to arrive...

In the turquoise-domed Abdelaziz Samarrai mosque, prayer leader Mekki Hussein Kubeisi used to rail against the presence of U.S. troops in this city. On Friday, he urged hundreds of men in ankle-length tunics to "be patient" and not to tolerate people who resort to violence.

At city hall, the U.S.-endorsed mayor, Taha Bedawi, said residents "have become much happier because they don't see as many American Army vehicles on the streets."

"The tension is reducing every day," he said. "We are seeing a change. People are starting to realize that the soldiers are not here to occupy Fallujah forever -- they're here to help us rebuild."

Even Saleh, whose right foot was amputated after the school shooting, has mellowed. "I have nothing against them now," he said as he showed off five crisp $100 bills he received from the U.S. military by way of the mayor.

He said that U.S. soldiers have visited his house four times -- to apologize, to provide a medical check-up and twice to assess damages to his property. "They've changed my opinions," said Saleh, 41, who hobbles around on crutches. "I used to hate them, but now I realize they made a mistake and they really want to help us."

Read the whole thing here.

Giving us a glimpse of reunion.
His mother recognized the difference immediately. Physically, Army Pvt. Michael Chavez was a little thinner, a little older looking. He walked with more confidence, and his maturity found its way into every conversation.

War had changed Chavez. The sleepless nights. The close call when a mortar shell exploded 15 feet from his truck. The two weeks without a shower. The children begging for food. The new appreciation for having a roof over his head.

"He's actually a man now," Rebeca Corona said of her 21-year-old son.

Corona and Chavez are among the families in the Northern San Joaquin Valley reuniting after months of worrying and waiting during war.

Sunday at his house in Newman, Chavez dressed in blue jeans and a blue plaid button-down shirt -- a nice change from the brown Army uniform he had lived in for months.

"I thought about home everyday," he said. "You appreciate everything a lot more after coming through something like that."

Chavez's unit -- the 123rd Signal Battalion -- was one of the first groups to arrive in Kuwait in early January. In the months before the war, the troops spent the days training in the desert.

"Every now and then we'd build a sand castle just to keep the morale up," he said.

Moqtada Sadr is an angry young man. He is also a suspect in a double murder investigation, but that's not official yet. For now he is simply a pest.

He is a pest to the point that the United States' First Marine Division has designed a psychological operations campaign just for him, which they are relatively quite about. They don't want to confer the legitimacy as an anti-American firebrand that he seems to crave. So they publicly ignore him, and in subtle ways undermine him where they can.

"He's more of an annoyance than a threat," says Lt. Col. Christopher Conlin, the commander of the Marines' 1st battalion, 7th regiment, in residence at a dusty technical college on the outskirts of the city.

Conlin doesn't look like your stereotypical Marine. He's lithe and small, with thick black brows that arch over clear gray eyes and make him look perpetually bemused. Conlin is credited by both headquarters and the lowest grunt in his unit for his deft touch with the notoriously touchy Iraqis. The city, the spiritual center for Shiites the world over, should have been a powder keg for the U.S. occupiers. Instead it has been an oasis of tranquility relative to Baghdad, just 60 miles north.

Take last Sunday: Some 4,000 of Sadr's supporters (though Sadr says there were 10,000) staged a demonstration on the college that serves as home to the small military team charged with restoring Najaf. It holds the tomb of Ali, who, as the son-in-law and cousin of the Prophet Mohammad, is the martyred father of Shiites.

Conlin is all for pubic demonstrations -- what better way to practice democracy? But this one was getting ugly. Marines in town had been roughed up, and a quick reaction force had to be called out to guard the barracks.

Conlin has worked long and hard to win the trust of the people of Najaf through his soft-power approach: His Marines don't wear body armor when they are out in town. They pass out candy to kids. They take off their sunglasses when talking to people, so they can look into the Americans' eyes and know they are not threat. It works. Not a single Marine has died in Iraq from hostile fire since April 20. The Army has lost nearly 40.

These demonstrators -- hooligans, by Conlin's estimation -- were not from Najaf. They had come down in buses and cars from Baghdad and Fallujah at Sadr's urging, specifically to cause trouble.

The Friday before, Sadr preached at the nearby Kufa mosque against the Americans, feeding the fears and hostility of his predominantly out-of-town congregation. Before they boarded buses for home, some of them beat up a newly minted blue-shirted Kufa police officer who had been directing traffic.

On Saturday, Sadr called the local television station -- there is only one -- with a cry for help. His house, the house of his late and beloved father, was under siege by the Marines. They had surrounded him and were going to take him to jail, or worse.

The station manager aired the report, despite the fact his reporters on the scene were unable to detect an American presence, Conlin said.

"We don't even know where he lives," he said. "We weren't there."

Sadr's followers came to his rescue the next day, marching on the partially built university that serves as home to the government support team, soldiers and Marines overseeing the rebuilding of hospitals, schools, roads, sewers, electricity and much more.

As the crowd surged toward the compound singing songs in praise of Sadr, Conlin had his Marines sing back to them the songs they use to keep time when running. Not the baudy ones, he noted with a sheepish smile.

"We were trying to orchestrate a theater of the absurd," Conlin laughs.

But when the crowd turned angry, he ordered the guards to "fix bayonets" -- strap a knife to the end of their rifles and prepare for hand-to-hand combat. It would kill fewer people than using the guns. If these demonstrators wanted trouble, they were going to get it.

"You don't hear that order every day," one of his officers laughed later. "Pretty much not since World War II."

The threat of bayonets did the trick. The crowd, made up of young men who have lived with the constant threat of violence under the Saddam Hussein's Baathists for so many years, backed down, and Conlin told them his men did not surround the house.

"You write up your statements, and I'll write up mine, and we'll present them to Sestani and let him decide," Conlin told the demonstrators. They did not take him up on his offer.

They boarded their buses for the north -- many for "Sadr city" the vast Shiite slum in eastern Baghdad, but not before Sadr had accomplished his goal. The dramatic footage from the protest condemning the U.S. occupation of Iraq was broadcast around the world on CNN and al-Jazeera. Sadr was now one to watch in the eyes of the media.

The station manager, apparently in league with Sadr, resigned his post on Monday. The Marines found out he was pocketing a large percentage of the generous salaries they had arranged for the 42 employees in an attempt to kick start a free media. He was given a choice: Retract the statement and resign, or they would tell the staff about the money he had been stealing from them. He recanted the report and quit his job.

Back at the Marine post, the crowd had trampled a local farmer's new crop and broken his irrigation pipes. The Marines paid for their repair.

"He's got little green shoots already, did you see it?" Conlin said.

Read the rest will be glad you did.