Saturday, October 11, 2003


Taking the media to task for their spinning the truth and expecting us to buy it.

Read the whole thing here.
No one that I spoke to in the administration who supported the war quibbled with the use of the term "imminent threat." It's simply not a quotation - it's a summary of the president's assessment.

Boston, Mass: No, Martin: it's a bold face lie, an untruth from beginning to end

(via Instapundit)
Letters from hometown soldiers describing their successes rebuilding Iraq have been appearing in newspapers across the country as U.S. public opinion on the mission sours.
And all the letters are the same.

A Gannett News Service search found identical letters from different soldiers with the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, also known as "The Rock," in 11 newspapers, including Snohomish, Wash.

The Olympian received two identical letters signed by different hometown soldiers: Spc. Joshua Ackler and Spc. Alex Marois, who is now a sergeant. The paper declined to run either because of a policy not to publish form letters...

It's not clear who wrote the letter or organized sending it to soldiers' hometown papers...

Sgt. Todd Oliver, a spokesman for the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which counts the 503rd as one of its units, said he was told a soldier wrote the letter, but he didn't know who. He said the brigade's public affairs unit was not involved.

"When he asked other soldiers in his unit to sign it, they did," Oliver explained in an e-mail response to a GNS inquiry. "Someone, somewhere along the way, took it upon themselves to mail it to the various editors of newspapers across the country."

However, given the nearly uniform response by soldiers to the negative media coverage of their efforts in Iraq, it doesn't surprise me if a soldier tries to battle that by such means.
"Who can possibly think that the world would be better off with Saddam Hussein still in power? Surely not the dissidents who would be in his prisons or end up in mass graves," Bush told a military crowd.

"Surely not the men and women who would fill Saddam's torture chambers or the women in his rape rooms . . . There is only one decent and humane reaction to the fall of Saddam Hussein: Good riddance!"

Bush's remarks, in Portsmouth and Manchester, could be seen as a slap at leading Democratic candidate Howard Dean, who once dismissed Saddam's fall by saying, "I suppose that's a good thing."


...among the whole bunch only one is duly elected by the people.
A conference of government leaders from the world's Islamic nations has begun with a call to end "foreign rule" in Iraq.

Instead the United Nations should take over the administration of Iraqi affairs, said the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) secretary-general Abdelouahed Belkeziz.

The conference of the 57-member OIC is taking place in Malaysia and comes ahead of next week's summit, when heads of state from up to 35 countries are set to gather.


The Veep takes off the gloves.
After several weeks of domestic and international criticism of Bush's policy of pre-emptively attacking potential threats, Cheney struck back forcefully by calling the U.N. Security Council's 50-year tradition of giving permanent members a veto a "policy of doing exactly nothing."...

Cheney blasted the criticism "that the United States, when its security is threatened, may not act without unanimous international consent," a clear reference to U.N. procedures, under which "the mere objection of even one foreign government would be sufficient to prevent us from acting."

"Though often couched in high-sounding terms of unity and cooperation, it is a prescription for perpetual disunity and obstructionism," Cheney said, adding that this would "confer undue power" on dissenters "while leaving the rest of us powerless to act in our own defense. Yet we continue to hear this attitude in arguments in our own country - so often, and so conveniently, it amounts to a policy of doing exactly nothing."

Cheney's speech was an uncompromising argument that far exceeded what other figures in the administration have asserted. Cheney, for example, dismissed a dozen years of inspections, patrolling of no-fly zones, and strikes against military targets in Iraq, saying "all of these measures failed."
Thin reeds now sprout on the glassy surface. Aquatic birds build nests on tiny islands. And lanky young boys in flowing tunics spend the first few hours of each day as generations of adolescent males in their families have: gliding across the water in narrow wooden boats to collect fish trapped in homemade nets.

"The water is our life," Kerkush said as he gazed at the marsh that now comes within a few feet of his house and stretches as far as the eye can see. "It is a gift from God to have it back."

Well, yes it is. And He used the Brits and Americans as His delivery agents.

By the way...I've never actually heard one of these on the radio. Have you?
Following World War II, it took three years to institute a new currency in West Germany. In Iraq, it has taken only six months. And the new currency symbolizes Iraq's reviving economy.

Iraq has a strong entrepreneurial tradition, and since the liberation of that country, thousands of new businesses have been launched. Busy markets are operating in villages across the country. Store shelves are filled with goods from clothing and linens to air-conditioners and satellite dishes. Free commerce is returning to the ancient region that invented banking.

With our assistance, Iraqis are building the roads and ports and railways necessary for commerce. We have helped to establish an independent Iraqi central bank. Working with the Iraqi Governing Council, we are establishing a new system that allows foreign investors to confidently invest capital in Iraq's future. And we have helped restore Iraq's oil production capacity to nearly two million barrels a day, the benefits of which are flowing directly to the Iraqi people...

Americans are providing this help not only because our hearts are good, but because our vision is clear. A stable, democratic, and prosperous Iraq will no longer be a breeding ground for terror, tyranny and aggression. And a free Iraq will be an example of freedom's power throughout the Middle East. Free nations are peaceful nations. By promoting freedom and hope in other lands, we remove direct threats to the American people. Our actions in Iraq will increase our safety for years to come.


"A line of ululating women"

Look it up...I had to.
The wedding party was streaming out of the Al-Hamra Hotel Thursday night in Baghdad, with the bride's white train trailed by a line of ululating women in sparkling dresses and a cake bearer balancing a huge coconut-frosted sphere.


This was a big story over here.
After spending three cold nights outdoors, two missing (American) 13-year-olds were returned to their families Thursday, after being spotted by a German woman at a shopping center.

The teens, Bryan Enochs and Reagan Womble, went missing Monday from Benjamin Franklin Village. They were found Thursday morning at the Kurpfalz Centrum in Leimen, a Heidelberg suburb, according to Joerg Hofer, a Heidelberg police spokesman.

“The teenagers have been reunited with their parents,” said Christine Gebhard, a spokeswoman for the 293rd Base Support Battalion. “We are so glad they are home safe. They appeared in good health. They were tired, but other than that they were unharmed.”

German police said the couple’s odyssey began when Bryan arrived home late and feared punishment. The two fled together, spending Monday night under a bridge in Mannheim, police said.


Very cool.
Blaring oompah music, bratwurst sizzling on the grill, the strong aroma of sauerkraut and a sparkling mug of Bavarian beer — all the elements of a typical day at Munich’s Oktoberfest.

Except these — minus the beer — were to be enjoyed in the sands of Iraq.

Family Readiness Group members of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment out of Friedberg figured since their soldier husbands couldn’t make it to the biggest beer-drinking festival in the world, they would send the festival to them.

All the fixin’s for a portable Oktoberfest were sent to Iraq, except the beer. Decorations, T-shirts, mugs, music CDs and lots of food were packed up, along with instructions on how to cook it the Bavarian way. Even some traditional games of strength were added to the boxes of goodies to help lifts soldiers’ spirits...

They asked ways of getting the necessities to the troops without any spoiling. A butcher responded by specially making bratwurst and canning them so they would be good for up to a year, making shipping much easier.

Breweries in Munich provided authentic T-shirts, mugs, coasters and decorations.

“I just explained to them what we were trying to do and they said ‘OK, sounds like a great idea. We like Americans and Americans like this fest and beer.’ They gave us everything for free,” Lowe said.

And yesterday the mayors of the German communities in which the 1st Brigade lives threw a free Oktoberfest for all of us "left behind" by our soldiers in Iraq. There was music, games, beer and food.

This wouldn't seem to square with the German governments fierce antiwar position, but there is a direct connection between the Germans and the Americans living among them. And although I missed the remarks made by one of these mayors at the opening of yesterday's event, I was told that he expressed his support for what our soldiers are doing in Baghdad...and the Germans in the audience (who understood what he said before it was translated) applauded loudly.

Ain't that just a kick in the pants?
The overwhelming senatorial support for a bill to extend military health care benefits to activated Guard and Reserve members and their families just might be what is needed to get the White House to do an about face, two senators said.

“This train has left the station, and in some ways, I think they’d have no choice but to hop on board,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said of the administration’s leadership.

Extending the health coverage to Guard and Reserve units has been a contentious topic, and one that in the past, has not been supported by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld or the White House.

In April, the Pentagon tweaked its system so that, when mobilized for more than 30 days, National Guard and Reserve forces and their families are eligible for coverage under Tricare, the military’s health insurance.

The benefits extend for 90 days after the unit’s demobilization, and extend up to 120 days for those with more than six years of service.


But do it as cheaply as possible.
“I got a 500-unit card that’s not AAFES,” he said. “I talk 28 to 29 minutes on that. On AAFES’ 200 unit cards I get 15 minutes [of talk time]. I save money having these compared to Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club cards.”

AAFES wants military members to know what Bernal already has found out — purchasing less expensive phone cards may end up costing more in the long run because of hidden fees and charges.

A sign outside the Baghdad airport’s main exchange compares Wal-Mart and AAFES cards. It says that a 500-minute Wal-Mart card costs military members $1 per minute, but a comparable AAFES 550-unit card costs 90 cents per minute...

AAFES is working with AT&T to open permanent phone centers at bases throughout Iraq. Six satellite phone centers are already operating. The latest, on the airport’s west side, opened Friday with 48 telephones...

An AAFES press release states that the land-line costs will drop to as low as 35 cents per minute to the United States, but only if callers use the exchange phone cards.

Costs to Europe will be more expensive than those to the States, about 43 cents per minute, because the calls are routed through the States.

And guess what! Even if you are not an authorized PX user, you can still help your soldier make these calls using the AAFES Exchange cards. Go to and click on "Gifts from the Home Front" or simply follow this link.
October 10, 2003
Release Number: 03-10-01



MOSUL, Iraq – Coalition soldiers and non-governmental organizations partnered to rebuild more than 800 schools in the Ninevah Province, current home of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

The division’s Commander’s Emergency Relief Program, which draws from Iraqi government funds seized after the first Gulf War, has to date spent $2,040,513 on 330 completed school projects including the recently opened Ninevah Province Education Headquarters in Mosul.

The 101st has made nearly a daily hobby of opening schools throughout Northern Iraq since August. Lt. Col. Kevin Felix, 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery commander, opened three schools in the town of Tal Abtah Monday.

Oct. 1 marked the first day of school for all public primary and secondary school students throughout Iraq.

Schools in need of simple supplies and new windows, or a complete renovation, have received a helping hand from 101st Airborne Division CERP funds and Non-Governmental Organizations working with the soldiers.

“The students are eager to go back, especially those who are going to new, renovated schools,” Sgt. First Class Rocky Upchurch of New Deal, Texas, 431st Civil Affairs Battalion, said. Upchurch has worked with the education headquarters and numerous schools during the summer rush to rebuild schools

Upchurch has also worked with several NGO’s all over the globe, including the United Nations Development Program. The NGO’s have provided additional muscle with “a lot of the little stuff.”
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11th. The 153d day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Six months from the day Baghdad fell to American troops, George W. Bush told Americans yesterday that the situation in Iraq is "a lot better than you probably think."

And it sounds as if they have found a nice balance.
But to visitors from Baghdad the city is a breath of fresh air.

It operates without a curfew unlike the capital and its streets throng with people until late evening, when Baghdad residents fearing criminal attacks have long since gone home...

Mosul is a much smaller and less complex city than Baghdad. It is also outside the heartland of support for Saddam north and west of Baghdad where attacks on U.S. forces are most common.

''People know each other here. It's a smaller city,'' Akil Haydar, an employee at a factory making propane bottles, said in a small store selling shiny black olives in the city centre.

But the 101st Airborne has also gone out of its way to try to ensure anti-American hostility does not build up.

After troops mount nightime raids to arrest someone, they return next day to explain the operation to local people. If a door has to be broken down, soldiers will fix it later.

Often troops surround a house and then knock on the door and ask the occupants to come out. Petraeus says only Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay, killed in a gunbattle in the city on July 22, have put up a fight when faced with that situation.
'Based on what happened to them, I don't think there will be too many more that will do that,'' he said.
America is creating jobs for Saddam Hussein's "nuclear mujahideen" and weapons experts to stop them selling their expertise to others, a senior US official said yesterday.

John Bolton, an under-secretary of state responsible for international security, said America planned to offer mid-level scientists immunity if they agreed to divulge Saddam's arms secrets...

Mr Bolton said that Saddam had developed his programmes "as close as possible to a weapons capability without being detected".

This included keeping about 1,000 scientists, known as "nuclear mujahideen", ready for the day when they could resume work on an atomic bomb after sanctions were lifted. The coalition fears that this know-how could be "sold to the highest bidder".


Location indicates these might be 1st Brigade guys.

Needless to say we all hold our breath when such reports come our way.
Two U.S. soldiers on a routine patrol in Baghdad's Sadr City were ambushed and killed Thursday night, according to the Coalition Press Information Center...

Four other soldiers from the 1st Armored Division were wounded in the ambush, CPIC spokeswoman Nicci Trent said...

Thursday's suicide attack was the first of its kind in the sprawling neighborhood, which used to be called Saddam City but was one of the places where the former Iraqi leader was most hated.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10th. The 152d day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Thursday, October 09, 2003


If they have time for this sort of stuff...
Iraq's top gym changed its name yesterday to "The Arnold Classic" to honor Arnold Schwarzenegger's win in California. From the man in the street to aspiring bodybuilders, Schwarzenegger has long been a near icon in the country.

"Before anything he is a champion," owner Sabah Mehdi said at his gym, where the country's top athletes have trained.

"He was a star of the movies. So it is no surprise that he is a champion politician. We need a strongman, a leader like him, in our country at this moment," said Mehdi.


Now that is progress!
For the first time since Baghdad fell April 9, the capital city and most of the country have enjoyed four straight days without a significant outage.

Coalition officials are optimistic they can keep the lights on because sabotage and looting has dropped and electricity output is near prewar levels. Cooling temperatures have also helped.

"The power situation has not been this good since before the Kuwait war," says security guard Majid Abdul Reza, 27. Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.


Great it all here.
Donning dark glasses behind the wheel, he sits on his flak jacket in case he rolls over a land mine or explosive device. Each morning, he varies his route to throw off possible attackers.

Unlike most expatriates working here, he drives his own Land Rover, trusting the defensive techniques he's honed over years of dodging danger more than the skills of the average driver. And he insists that a guest take the back seat: If he has to draw his gun, he doesn't want an unarmed person sitting in his line of fire.


But not targeted at us.
A suicide car bomber drove through the gates of police station in northeast Baghdad and detonated an explosive Thursday morning, killing eight people and injuring 28, police and the U.S. military said. The car's driver and a passenger also died in the blast.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, a Spanish military attache was shot to death Thursday by a group of men as he was opening his front door, Spain's Foreign Ministry said. Jose Antonio Bernal Gomez was an air force sergeant attached to Spain's National Intelligence Center, according to a ministry statement.


Speaking of Christmas, we in the Gator's Family Readiness Group (FRG) want to send a Christmas tree down range. We are making special ornaments for the tree, something we feel will bind the unit together at that special time of year.

Thing is, we don't have a tree. We are looking for an artificial tree, in a box. The vision is a full size (6 foot +) Christmas Tree. Not the sort of thing they can pick up in the Baghdad Wal Mart...

I've priced them over here and they are just too expensive for our little bitty budget (all the money raised by our FRG is being spent on the ornaments and a Christmas party for all the kids in the battalion.)

So - have you been thinking about upgrading to a better tree this year? Would you have an extra Christmas tree taking up space in the attic?

If you have a tree you'd like to donate please drop me a note at cptpattiinbaghdad AT yahoo DOT com.


To be sure it gets down range before Christmas.

Me, I'll have CPT Patti's packages in the mail by Thanksgiving.
Send early, often and in smaller packages in order to get presents to their intended recipients on time for the holiday season, said Mark DeDomenic, chief of Operations for the Military Postal Service Agency.

“The thing I stress … is mail early. The earlier you make it, the better,” DeDomenic said. “Mail early and mail small packages rather than large boxes. … Generally speaking, smaller packages move through faster because they’re easier to handle.”

At the latest, packages being sent to or from military addresses should be at the post office by Nov. 13. First-class letters and cards should be out the door no later than Dec. 11, according to recommendations by the United States Postal Service.

Speaking during the Association of U.S. Army’s annual Dwight D. Eisenhower luncheon, Schoomaker indicated that he intends to move away from former chief Gen. Eric Shinseki’s almost single-minded focus on technology as the engine of Army “transformation,” as service officials call the plan to modernize the force.

Instead, “we must always remember that humans are more important than hardware,” Schoomaker said, taking one of his Special Operations community’s bedrock mottos and applying it to the entire Army. “We’re capitalizing [the word] ‘Soldier’ now.”

Just a word on leadership.

GEN Schoomaker, you may recall, was recalled from retirement to take the position of Army Chief of Staff, a highly unusual move. Such a move might have prejudiced some in the ranks against the general.

But here, early on the General connects with Soldiers by stressing his commitment to the humanity of those who serve.

I contrast that to the early days of the Clinton administration. I was in uniform then, and the first three things soldiers heard from the then new administration were:

1. The candidate/President's "loathing" of the military and his refusal to serve in uniform.

2. The request from a White House staffer that there be fewer military uniforms worn around the White House.

3. An attempt to peg military pay raises to 1 point below inflation.

Quite the contrast in leadership wouldn't you say?

GEN Schoomaker, thank you for your leadership. I'm capitalizing the word Soldier now too.

OK - another personal update.

Nearly 2 weeks ago I described how CPT Patti had called to ask for my support for her to extend her tour in Iraq long enough to bring her soldiers home.

Well, I had adjusted to that idea...I understood her desire to continue to serve her soldiers.

But, the battalion commander had other plans.

As a matter of policy he has said no to command extensions (this affects at least one other company commander in the battalion as well).

So, I learn this morning that we are back on the original timetable...CPT Patti is scheduled to change command in March and then return home to me near the middle of that month.

I suspect the battalion commander wants to give other young officers the chance to command companies under deployment conditions. I also suspect he recognizes the extraordinary pace at which the company commanders are working and wants to avoid total burnout.

Its a selfless decision by the battalion commander - who would not have been criticized for keeping his team intact for the duration.

Me - I feel like I just got a Christmas present!
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9th. The 151st day of CPT Patti's deployment. was three years ago today that she and I were engaged at a scenic overlook on Skyline Drive in Virginia.

CPT Patti called today (she had tried yesterday...the one day I forgot to carry my cell phone).

She sounds just super! I gotta say that I am blessed with not only the sweetest woman on the planet as my wife...but one whose spirit is remarkably effervescent. I mean one could not blame any of our soldiers for being a bit surly or grouchy given their circumstances...but not my darling CPT Patti. She calls from the war zone and lifts my spirits.

An amazing woman.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003


Better late than never I suppose. At least the Turks aren't insisting on a handover to the UN as a precondition to help.

But then, one might say they owe us something if they want to reclaim their status as an ally of the USA.

Oh - and the Iraqis aren't real sure they want these guys there.
Turkey's parliament voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to give the government permission to send troops, which would be the first contingent of Muslim peacekeepers in Iraq.

The vote does not mean that soldiers will immediately be dispatched. The government is still negotiating the terms of deployment with the United States, which could take weeks or even longer.


These guys have to contend with stuff a bit more serious than "gloom of night".
Convoys were originally protected by M16-armed Soldiers riding “shotgun,” with the drivers in the truck cabs.

Force protection is now provided by Army transportation units driving gun trucks -- 5-ton trucks modified with M-60 machine-gun mounts -- with a truck in the front, middle and rear of each convoy. Each truck has a driver, assistant driver and a gunner who must stand in the back of each truck on the lookout for trouble.

“I go out almost every day. This mission is highly interesting -- and highly dangerous,”said Sgt. John Flamer, a driver with the 547th.

Read it all.
The United States military has been unable to locate a large number of shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles that were part of the arsenal of Saddam Hussein, officials say, compounding the security risks for airports and airlines in Iraq and around the world.

The lack of accounting for the missiles — officials say there could be hundreds — is the primary reason the occupation authorities have not yet reopened the Baghdad International Airport to commercial traffic, officials said. The terminal has been rebuilt and the runways repaired, and Australian soldiers are running the air traffic control system.

But portable missiles were fired at incoming planes several times in recent weeks, one senior official said. Most of those incidents have not been reported to the public. The missiles missed their targets widely, suggesting that the people who fired them had not been extensively trained.

US troops backed by armoured vehicles on Tuesday sealed off a Baghdad neighbourhood, following what police said was a tipoff that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was spotted in the area.

An Iraqi policeman said one person claimed to have seen the fugitive ex-leader in a car in the area.

An employee at the Cedar Hotel, within the area sealed off with barbed wire and several dozen armored military vehicles, said US troops asked him whether he had seen Saddam.

A Turkish guest at the hotel, Gulin Pasturk, said a US soldier deployed outside had told her Tuesday evening "Saddam was seen here 10 minutes ago."

That's gotta come in handy.

1-37 Armor is based here in Friedberg.
Helmy’s Arab ancestry carries a lot of weight with the Iraqis, Bishop said.

“He’s more trusted than the ... Iraqi translators who are doing it for the money,” said Bishop. “They have not been 100 percent accepted.”

With Helmy, Iraqis know exactly where he stands.

“They understand they are talking to a soldier,” Bishop said, “a soldier who speaks Arabic.”

Many Iraqis think Helmy is an Egyptian who just works for the Americans, Helmy said.

“I think to them, it means a lot that he’s an Arab brother,” said Bishop. “He’s opened up more doors” than an Iraqi interpreter could.

But Helmy has provided more than just help with the language, Bishop said.

“The big thing I used him for, more so in the beginning, was his understanding of Arab culture,” he said. “He was born and raised in Egypt and understands it. He’s taught me about Arab culture and social mores.”

Oh...and then the story mentions this...

Bishop’s first mission of the day was to deliver the desks to two Baghdad schools that had been renovated and repainted by soldiers, Iraqis and nongovernmental organizations. The 501st Forward Support Battalion donated the desks and the Bandits’ family readiness group in Germany donated school supplies.


The 1-37 Armor commander makes an important ally.
“I gave him what I believed and felt is my basic belief,” he said. “I enjoy my job and I believe in this mission and my soldiers and the destiny of this country.”

Through his translator, Egypt-native Spc. John Helmy, the commander told the sheik, “My presence and your presence are intertwined for the future of Iraq.”

Then, on a hunch, Bishop told him that he knew he had weapons.

“I know you have guns, and I know you have weapons. [We’re] tired of fighting, and you can’t win,” he told the sheik.

Bishop then took off his flak jacket and said that since he was in his house, the sheik was responsible for his safety.

The show of trust worked.

The sheik admitted that he had been planning for months to carry out an attack on Americans. He did have weapons but hadn’t used them yet.


These folks got a LOT of support.

Me - I sent CPT Patti another package as part of Operation Ramen Noodle yesterday.
There are a dozen or more pallets in all, all 4 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet: pallets full of balls and board games and racquets; two pallets devoted just to squirt guns.

Other pallets are full of popcorn, Kool-Aid, candy and 2,000 Bibles donated by a former contestant on the TV-show “Survivor.”

“And there are still truckloads coming,” Jenny Jeffery said.

Called “Operation Remember Me,” the effort is one of numerous grass-roots charitable works for U.S. servicemembers. Among other recent efforts are Operation Comix Relief, which sent comics to soldiers in Afghanistan; Operation Playmate, which allows soldiers to e-mail Playboy models; the self-explanatory Operation Air Conditioner; and the mysterious Operation Underwear.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 8th. CPT Patti has been deployed for 150 days.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003


Thanks to a reader who sent me this story about Giessen's own 2-3 Field Artillery helping out a hospital in their sector.
The 2-3 FA’s support reached its climax recently, when an explosion at a nearby detergent factory caused a release of chemicals in the air, which affected the local residents.

“We got a call that there were mass casualties involving inhalation injuries,” said Davila. “They needed medication, intravenous tubing, catheters and so on. The problem was that the incident happened late at night, and there was no way the hospital could get what it needed.”

As fate would have it, the 2-3 FA had already stockpiled medical supplies at their base camp. Because of a new Iraqi army training program there on post, the 2-3 FA had recently visited an Iraqi medical warehouse and picked up supplies to start a “mini aid station” where Iraqis could treat heat casualties and other injuries.

“It was a life saver to them,” said Davila. “Afterward, we all said, ‘man, how lucky we had all that stuff!’”

To hear a number of leading Democrats tell it, the report issued last week by David Kay, the chairman of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), was proof positive that President Bush had effectively committed a war crime: He launched a war of aggression on the pretext that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and now, thanks to Dr. Kay, we know that wasn’t true.

There is only one problem with this highly partisan attack, and the parallel media reporting that has taken a similarly pollyannish line about the Kay report: No responsible reader could take any comfort from its findings, let alone construe them as an indictment of the Bush Administration and its decision to liberate Iraq.

While the President’s critics may not wish to be bothered by the facts, they are, as the saying goes, “stubborn things.” And those laid out by Dr. Kay and his colleagues paint a picture of Saddam Hussein as despot relentlessly engaged in the pursuit of the most devastating weapons known to man...

It is one thing to ignore the facts available, and their ominous implications. It is, however, another thing altogether to pretend that David Kay has shown that there is no danger from Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, when the facts are otherwise, and bothersome indeed.


According to the man who wrote it.
Kay said on CNN's Late Edition, "We have actually found quite a bit, although we have not yet found shiny, pointy things that I would call a weapon." Kay said his team found evidence of "a vast network of undeclared labs engaged in prohibited activity" related to biological and chemical weapons.

The comments were stronger than the language in a statement released by the CIA. It summarized Kay's testimony to House and Senate panels Thursday. In the statement, Kay said investigators were trying to determine "the extent to which this network was tied to large-scale military efforts" such as making biological weapons.

Also Sunday, Kay cited two Iraqi officials who said Iraq was equipped to produce fuel for Scud missiles long after it claimed to have none of the missiles. And he said people have overlooked that Iraq conducted research on agents "applicable" to making biological weapons.

In a conference call with reporters Friday, Kay disclosed that Iraq had paid North Korea $10 million as a first installment on components for long-range missiles. In 2002, though, North Korea said it couldn't deliver.


Are the major media outlets deaf to this repeated message?
Michigan State University President Peter McPherson and 13 others helping establish democracy in Iraq briefed President Bush on Monday at the White House about their efforts.

McPherson, who assisted in rebuilding the Iraqi financial system, said there is a large gap between what he saw on the ground and what is being reported by the U.S. media. American news accounts are filled with reports about terrorist attacks and guerrilla-style fighting.

"I've been back only a few days and what is so striking to me is the disconnect with the feeling of progress broadly in Iraq as opposed to what I hear back here. There's just no connection at all," McPherson said.

"It's almost like they're reporting the bank robbery as opposed to what's going on in the school system."

McPherson said the real story is that schools, clinics and banks are reopening and a new currency is ready.

Don Campbell, a New Jersey Superior Court judge who served as an adviser to Iraq's judiciary, echoed McPherson.

"You emphasize the 10 percent of negative things that are happening and de-emphasize the 90 percent of positive things," he said.

The US invasion briefly shut down Baghdad's cafe culture. It has suffered since because of the plague of nighttime carjackings and theft that swept the capital after the collapse of the regime.

But in one sign last week that security is improving, the US-led coalition authority moved the start of curfew from 11 to midnight. Thousands took advantage of the extended evening last Thursday, the end of the Iraqi workweek.

Though far from the prewar war throngs, business is picking up at Baghdad's cafes, where men have gathered around tiny glasses of cardamom-flavored coffee to trade gossip and political rumors for centuries. Many Baghdadi's say they're free to speak their minds in the cafes these days, without fear of being denounced by the informers that were everywhere under Saddam.

"Praises be to God, it's finally safe to come out again,'' says Haider Saffa, a beetle-browed tool salesman who left his house at night for the first time since a few days after the invasion, when a young tough with a rifle pushed him from his car. Tonight, he is kicking back with a few pals and a strong cup of cardamom- flavored coffee.

Spreading his girth on his low-couch, Saffa says he loves everything about the cafe: the burgundy Persian carpets, the red-velvet wallhangings, the fruit-flavored smell. A Saddam loyalist, he hates the American presence in the city, but concedes that conditions have improved in recent months.

"They've got more Iraqis out on the streets as police now, and that's making a difference,'' he says. "We've got to return to a normal life."


One Captain writes from Iraq.
This work is supremely important to our ultimate success. It is largely being carried out by aggressive young commissioned and non-commissioned officers, men and women in their late 20s and early 30s, who every day go out into the villages, towns and cities, meeting the sheiks, the town councils and the mayors.

Far from Baghdad and around the country, these soldiers truly are the face of America for most Iraqis. But their story doesn't seem to interest reporters, editors or TV producers.

It isn't all ambushes and roadblocks here. There are risks. But there are also opportunities, because there is a generation of Iraqis who know what repression means and who welcome the opportunity to build something better for themselves and their children. Our soldiers have shared meals with them, tea with them, photographs and trinkets with them. So there's hope for Iraq and for the Americans here.

Too bad that hope doesn't seem to make for good TV.


Phone service coming soon. I hope this makes it easier for the soldiers to stay in touch.
Iraq awarded its first nationwide mobile telephone licenses to three Middle Eastern companies on Monday, saying it expected service to begin by the end of the month.

Iraq awarded the phone contracts to Orascom of Egypt and Atheer Tel and Asia Cell, both largely Kuwaiti-owned.

"The service should start in a few weeks, we have been told by the end of the month," said the interim telecommunications minister, Haidar al-Abbadi.

But officials from the companies selected said it would take longer before the service could be operational in Iraq, where mobile phones were banned in the 1990's under trade sanctions imposed by the United Nations.

The mobile network should restore some constancy to the country's phone communications, which were severely damaged in the American invasion of Iraq in the spring.

Orascom's concession will include the crucial Baghdad area.


And it appears this event took place across the river from the 1st Brigade area, inside the 2d Brigade, 1AD area.
A projectile was fired Tuesday at the offices of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, causing a large explosion but no casualties, witnesses said. Iraqi guards fired rifles in the air shortly after the midmorning blast.

Five U.S. Army Humvees and two armored personnel carriers sped to the scene in western Baghdad, and several streets in the area were sealed off. The U.S. military press office said it was aware of "a situation" at the Foreign Ministry but had no details

Witness Hussein Amin said the projectile -- either a rocket-propelled grenade or a mortar -- apparently exploded in the ministry compound, causing minimal damage but sending employees streaming out of the offices, located about a half mile from the palace headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition.

The ministry is also about a half mile from the Al-Rasheed Hotel, where many U.S. officials live. The hotel was attacked by small rockets or rocket-propelled grenades on Sept. 27, causing no casualties and minimal damage.


The battalion’s history starts at the bottom of the mural with the unloading of the units in Kuwait. It evolves into their move through the Iraqi desert north, and their eventual settling at the logistics base a few hundred meters north of Baghdad International Airport.

“A lot of us got to know the camels,” he said. So, he added some camels. On convoy they saw some of Saddam Hussein’s palaces, so one of those is on there.

The entire right half of the mural represents Logistics Base Seitz, their home for the past five months.

In the center of the mural is a map of Iraq and Kuwait, where Valdivia painted the names of all battalion units. He’s also marking the route they took from Kuwait to Seitz.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 7th. The 149th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Monday, October 06, 2003


A million bucks of his own money for whoever captures Saddam.
O'REILLY: So, from your vantage point, you saw some good that the U.S. is doing, yet...

WILLIS: I saw a lot of good.

O'REILLY: You don't read about that in the L.A.Times or The New York Times.

WILLIS: You don't read about it anywhere in the United States. And I was actually watching, you know, the news here in Washington last night, and it's -- it's just baffling to me that after we've, you know, successfully taken down a known gangster, known terrorist, who was in power in this country for 30 years, that anyone would suggest that we just abandon, you know, the Iraqi people now. It's just crazy to me.

O'REILLY: No. It is.

Now, you offered a million dollars of your own money to the guys who get Saddam Hussein. You might have to pay that because...

WILLIS: They'll get it. You heard about that. Well, fortunately, and maybe unfortunately, the military themselves are unable to collect on that. If that...

O'REILLY: I'm going over with my guys from Long Island now and we're going...

WILLIS: Good deal for you. You could actually pick up the check. But if it does happen through military sources, I would -- I intend to donate the money to either a school or a hospital.


More on the interim report of the Iraq Survey Group by David Kay

If you care to understand the report there is no substitute for actually reading it. You can find it here.

In my view the report might be summarized as: We still have much work to do under difficult circumstances to finish the investigation, however to this point while we have yet to find WMDs per se, there is much evidence that Iraq repeatedly violated the terms of the UN sanctions.

Here are some quotes from the report:
Iraq's WMD programs spanned more than two decades, involved thousands of people, billions of dollars, and were elaborately shielded by security and deception operations that continued even beyond the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

It is important to keep in mind that even the bulkiest materials we are searching for, in the quantities we would expect to find, can be concealed in spaces not much larger than a two car garage...

We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002.

Let me just give you a few examples of these concealment efforts,...A clandestine network of laboratories and safehouses within the Iraqi Intelligence Service that contained equipment subject to UN monitoring and suitable for continuing CBW research

...Reference strains of biological organisms concealed in a scientist's home, one of which can be used to produce biological weapons.

...New research on BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin were not declared to the UN.

...we have been faced with a systematic sanitization of documentary and computer evidence in a wide range of offices, laboratories, and companies suspected of WMD work. The pattern of these efforts to erase evidence - hard drives destroyed, specific files burned, equipment cleaned of all traces of use - are ones of deliberate, rather than random, acts.

Debriefings of IIS officials and site visits have begun to unravel a clandestine network of laboratories and facilities within the security service apparatus. This network was never declared to the UN and was previously unknown.

...two key former BW scientists, confirmed that Iraq under the guise of legitimate activity developed refinements of processes and products relevant to BW (Biological Warfare) agents.

One noteworthy example is a collection of reference strains that ought to have been declared to the UN. Among them was a vial of live C. botulinum Okra B. from which a biological agent can be produced. This discovery - hidden in the home of a BW scientist - illustrates the point I made earlier about the difficulty of locating small stocks of material that can be used to covertly surge production of deadly weapons. The scientist who concealed the vials containing this agent has identified a large cache of agents that he was asked, but refused, to conceal. ISG is actively searching for this second cache.

For example, there are approximately 130 known Iraqi Ammunition Storage Points (ASP), many of which exceed 50 square miles in size and hold an estimated 600,000 tons of artillery shells, rockets, aviation bombs and other ordinance. Of these 130 ASPs, approximately 120 still remain unexamined.

There is a lot more...but I didn't want this post to go on forever. You really need to read the report.

And then you may want to read the analysis by Andrew Sullivan which includes this bit:

The administration claimed that Saddam had used WMDs in the past, had hidden materials from the United Nations, was hiding a continued program for weapons of mass destruction, and that we should act before the threat was imminent.

The argument was that it was impossible to restrain Saddam Hussein unless he were removed from power and disarmed. The war was legally based on the premise that Saddam had clearly violated U.N. resolutions, was in open breach of such resolutions and was continuing to conceal his programs with the intent of restarting them in earnest once sanctions were lifted.

Having read the report carefully, I'd say that the administration is vindicated in every single respect of that argument. This war wasn't just moral; it wasn't just prudent; it was justified on the very terms the administration laid out. And we don't know the half of it yet.

I think he just about nails it.


A surgeon writes from Iraq.
''Saddam Hussein allowed his people to exist in the conditions of the 19th Century while he surrounded himself and his family with opalescence. Read on and see what a difference your money is making in the lives of people who have never known something we take for granted - like a hospital surgical suite.

Then there are the other things they are getting for the first time such as sewage treatment, water on tap, electricity, telephones in their homes, schools, books, storm drains to stop flooding and the things you grew up expecting to have outside of your door have not been built in Iraq in the last 35 years.

We didn't break them in the war - they just were not ever there.''...

Every so often I get a chance to watch CNN and its continued ''reporting'' of only the negative comments has turned my stomach...

I am just one man, but I have heard nothing but happiness expressed by the Iraqis that I have come in contact with.

Case in point; I was walking to the CPA late this afternoon with one of the soldiers from the unit, and this gaggle of kids (probably 10 of them) was walking towards us. All of a sudden, one of them broke from the pack and ran over to me. He couldn't have been any more than 10 or 11, and he came up to me and gave me a ''high five,'' which I returned. He then grabbed my hand, kissed it, and said, ''I love you, thank you, thank you very much.'' And the rest of the kids chimed in with their, ''thanks to the Americans.''

Where the hell was CNN for that? Where was CNN when I was eating lunch the other day at the newly opened ''Cofe Shoppe'' - a local restaurant operating in what used to be a gas station about 500 yards from the CSH - and the locals were coming up to us and thanking us for freeing their beloved Iraq from the hands of the madman Saddam. ''No other country could have done this,'' they said. ''We waited for the Americans to come, because no other country cared about us, and no other country could have done this as the Americans did.''

Bradford Arkansas hit hard by reserve call-up.
The mayor, police chief and school librarian are all leaving for military duty Monday that is expected to take them to Iraq, and the residents left behind in this tiny town of 800 are scrambling to fill their roles...

At city hall, meanwhile, officials have been rushing to prepare paperwork necessary to transfer the mayor's power to a 78-year-old retired school teacher...

In addition to Mayor Paul Bunn, Chief Josh Chambliss and librarian Nolan Brown, five other citizens of this farm town have received orders to report to Fort Hood, Texas. There, they will prepare for a tour of duty in Iraq that is expected to put them in Iraq by Christmas.

Grebe Edens, the town's recorder-treasurer, will take over for the 35-year-old mayor. Previously, she spent 24 years as Bradford's fourth-grade teacher.

"Most of the people on the city council now, she's paddled them before," Bunn said.


"We have actually found quite a bit, although we have not yet found shiny, pointy things that I would call a weapon." Kay said his team found evidence of "a vast network of undeclared labs engaged in prohibited activity" related to biological and chemical weapons.

The comments were stronger than the language in a statement released by the CIA. It summarized Kay's testimony to House and Senate panels Thursday. In the statement, Kay said investigators were trying to determine "the extent to which this network was tied to large-scale military efforts" such as making biological weapons.

Like Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida colleagues, Hussein and his fellow Baath Party leaders protect themselves with money and with powerful codes of honor that demand loyalty to tribe and clan, as well as hospitality and sanctuary to guests. Those protections have appeared to break down less in Tikrit than in Mosul, where the mixed population includes many anti-Hussein groups, such as the Kurdish security forces who arrested Ramadan. The 101st Airborne has set up a telephone hot line in Mosul and gets a steady stream of tips from citizens on the suspected location of ex-Baathists.

U.S. officials have tried to use tribal tradition, too, putting members of the Jabburi tribe into office in the Tikrit region. The tribe for years gave critical support to Hussein, but fell out with him in 1990, when a group of Jabburis tried to assassinate him.

"We ... have good reason to believe he's still in this area," said Col. James Hickey, commander of the 4th Infantry's 1st Brigade.
American soldiers have been attacked again in Fallujah the day I visit the smoldering core of revolt in Iraq’s “Sunni triangle.” But what is worrying Sheikh Khamis Hassnawi, the leader of one of the region’s largest tribes, isn’t the possibility that the US occupiers might stay, but that they might leave.

“It would be a disaster,” says Hassnawi of a quick American pullout. “If coalition forces withdraw now, the strong will eat the weak and people will start killing each other in the streets.”

Fallujah is the last place I thought I would hear Iraqis plead for the United States to stay the course. But the tribal leader’s comments are an illustration that things in post-war Iraq aren’t always what they appear from a distance.

What angers most Iraqis isn’t the US invasion ­ which nearly everyone I met still describes as liberation from a hated regime ­ but America’s surprisingly poor performance in delivering services and security...

“If the coalition forces will leave us now, people will say that Saddam was right. The Americans came and destroyed the country, and then left the country and went home without any solution,” Hassnawi warns.

And as for the "poor performance in delivering services and security", well, the US Military tends to do well that which it is trained to do.

They are trained to fight, which no one can dispute we did well. But this nation building stuff, I'm afraid that's a bit outside the training regimen of the Infantrymen, Tankers, Artillerymen and Quartermasters now in Baghdad.

But someone has to do it...and I don't see a whole lot of volunteers stepping up.
Six months after American tanks stormed Baghdad and obliterated Saddam Hussein's regime, there are two realities here: The continuing war and a return to normality.

For those of us reporters who drift between these two galaxies, the dichotomy now passes for regular life, so much so that we fail to remark on it. The roar of tanks and attack helicopters competes with the din of jackhammers as streets are repaired and storefronts reopened.

One can swim laps in a sparkling pool to the sounds of a gunfight taking place a block away from the Palestine Hotel, a hulking 1970s high-rise with a panoramic vista of urban turmoil. Bombs and shootings intrude on mundane diversions. One night, a giant explosion from a trash-can bomb momentarily drowned out an "Ally McBeal" rerun on Lebanese television...

It may seem strange, but this city is suddenly throbbing with street life, even as the guerrilla insurgency drags on. Baghdadis have become tired of waiting for order to be restored, and have decided to get on with life.

Traffic jams are monstrous, as drivers burn nickel-a-gallon gas. Some drive used, spit-shined BMWs and Mercedes Benzes imported -- basically tax-free, since there's no government -- from relatives or salesmen in the rich Gulf states. Many mornings, it can take an hour to drive from the shopping districts of east Baghdad to the leafier residential neighborhoods west of the Tigris River.

Last week, U.S. officials shortened Baghdad's curfew by an hour, making it from midnight to 4 a.m., saying that the city's security had improved.

But Senaa Street, a strip where Mr. Muhanad has his store, is one of those pockets that offers a note of hope.

On the east side of the busy two-lane road, a dozen dusty buildings house the Technical University of Baghdad, an engineering school with 14,000 students. The new semester has just begun. On the west side, two-story office buildings house scores of computer stores, while on the sidewalk shoeshine boys and tea vendors vie for customers.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has said that 5,000 new businesses have opened in Iraq since May 1. There is no way to know exactly, but the consensus on the street is that business has improved since American troops ousted Saddam Hussein.

United Nations sanctions have ended, meaning that the stores can import computers more easily, and, without tariffs, prices are falling. A 17-inch color monitor that sold for $125 before the war is now $100.

"It's better now," said Najwa Sahib, co-owner of Al Khabeer, which translates as The Expert, on the second floor of Baghdad's equivalent of a minimall. Like other merchants on the street, Ms. Sahib closes each day about 3 p.m. because she fears armed robberies. Still, she sells about 40 computers a month, mainly to American businesses, relief organizations and students.

At Al Khaiyal — The Imagination — a dingy store whose floors are crowded with disassembled computers, Aqueel Naji and two employees sell pirated copies of Microsoft Windows for 1,750 Iraqi dinars, or less than $1. Mr. Naji said his income had risen since the war ended, in part because he no longer had to bribe Mr. Hussein's security officials.


Not CPT Patti's unit...but a very similar mission.
The more than 1,000 soldiers from 11 quartermaster, maintenance, transportation and chemical companies provide support for what Silverstein estimates is 18 percent of the entire coalition force in Iraq.

They prefer to be called ‘Logistics Warriors’ — as in suppliers of food, fuel and water.

“We do every class of supply the Army does except for class 8 and class 5,” Silverstein said. “Class 8 being medical [supplies] and class 5 being ammunition.

“Every vehicle in greater Baghdad that needs fuel comes to us, military or [coalition-driven] civilian,” he added. “ [We’ve delivered] about 19 million gallons of fuel in a five-month period. We’ve made over 27 million gallons of water in a five-month period.”

They’ve also issued nearly 1.5 million Meals, Ready to Eat and 452,098 cases of bottled water. To make all these deliveries, they’ve driven about 750,000 miles.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 6th. The 148th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Guess what! The forecast says the high will only be 95 degrees in Baghdad today!

Sunday, October 05, 2003


Poland's defence ministry expressed "regret" last night over the reports, first made on Friday evening, that it had uncovered missiles which could only have been supplied to Iraq in breach of the United Nations weapons embargo...

Mr Chirac is particularly prickly about accusations that French weaponry had reached Iraq as recently as this year, even if via a third country, as France has a poor reputation for selling arms to dubious regimes.


This guy got married.
Spc. Dupree kept that pledge this weekend in a brief ceremony punctuated by tears and laughter before 120 family members and friends.

The 24-year-old Army reservist was part of the first contingent of U.S. troops to touch down Sept. 26 at Baltimore-Washington International Airport for 15 days of rest and relaxation.

For Spc. Dupree the past week has been anything but rest and relaxation. After all, he had a wedding to help plan.

"It's been hectic," he acknowledged a few days before Friday-night's ceremony. "I haven't had time to relax much."
Iraqi students began a new school term Saturday, and the first lesson at the al-Yakhda primary school was that Saddam Hussein has been ousted.

''Saddam is gone for good and our problems have been solved,'' English teacher, Meliha Hussein, 45, told her class of 20 sixth-grade girls at al-Yakhda, located in a middle-class Shiite Muslim neighborhood.

''Saddam was bad,'' the girls chanted back in unison...

The U.S. military hired Iraqi contractors to rebuild al-Yakhda. Two months and $40,000 later, the school has been completely refurbished. Walls have been freshly painted pink and white, and new ceiling fans spin overhead.

That's quite different from the conditions when the 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment of the 1st Armored Division arrived here in the aftermath of Saddam's downfall. They found the school a gutted ruin of crumbled walls with bullet casings strewn around.

''We saw that we could make a difference,'' said Lt. Col. Garry Bishop of Philadelphia. ''For the first time in 35 years, these children will be educated free from propaganda.''

As first graders strained to learn to hold pencils, U.S. soldiers outside unloaded truckloads of new desks and chairs for al-Yakhda. Pupils not in class swarmed around them, tugging at their uniforms and crying out: ''We love you.''

''The kids like us the most,'' said Spec. Rivera Moises of Santa Rosa, Calif. ''With them, it's a winning situation.''

The US-led coalition says it has raised electricity levels above what was provided to Iraqis before US troops overthrew Saddam Hussein.

"We have surpassed pre-war levels," said coalition spokesman Charles Heatley.

The coalition is now providing 4,500 megawatts of electricity per day, as opposed to the 4,200 megawatts supplied by Saddam in the months before US forces stormed Iraq on March 20.

Iraq unveiled its new banknotes on Saturday with pictures of an ancient Babylonian ruler and a 10th century Iraqi mathematician in place of the smiling face of Saddam Hussein.

The Babylonian ruler Hammurabi, credited with creating the first written code of laws in human history, graces the new pink 25,000 dinar note, worth about $12. The other side shows a smiling Kurdish farm worker holding a sheaf of wheat.

Astronomer and mathematician Abu Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham, born in Basra in 965 and known as Alhazen to medieval scholars in the West, is on one side of the 10,000 note, the only other human figure on the new notes.

Other bills show a waterfall in northern Iraq, date palms and Islamic monuments. One has a picture of a wheat silo...

Iraqis have three months from October 15 to exchange their old bills at 250 bank branches across the country, at a rate of one new dinar to one Saddam dinar and 150 new dinars for each Swiss dinar.

The U.S-led administration in Iraq has ordered all images of Saddam to be removed from monuments, murals and school textbooks. But in the months following the war it was forced to print billions of dinars of banknotes bearing the face of Saddam, to ease a shortage of low-denomination banknotes.

And I think its super that this new army no longer segregates Iraqis by ethnicity or religion.

Gee...sort of like America.
Almost 700 recruits completed their basic training on Saturday as the first battalion of a new Iraqi army, a small step in the US effort to replace the giant force that disintegrated under US-British attack six months ago.

The US administration of President George W Bush proposed to spend USD 2 billion to create a 40,000-member Iraqi military by the end of 2004. A second battalion begins the nine-week course on Sunday.

In a gritty desert training camp, 85 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, the graduating battalion marched in review on Saturday, high-stepping past dignitaries including the US civilian administrator for Iraq, L Paul Bremer, and Iyad Allawi, current president of the interim Iraqi Governing Council...

(T)hey will be assigned to help the US 4th Infantry Division with security on the Iranian border, 30 kilometres (20 miles) east of Kir Kush.

"Our army will be for the defence of our nation and all our citizens regardless of ethnic background," Allawi told the recruits.

Afterward, Allawi told reporters that the army would serve the nation and not be used "in oppressing people."

GEN Sanchez says:
"So … it's going to be a few years before we can draw down as the security situation here stabilizes, as you can build additional coalition capacity to allow the U.S. to draw down some of its forces over time."


Those who continue to describe our efforts as illegitimate - and those who call for us to now vacate Iraq might do well to listen to the Iraqis.
From the very beginning, the anti-war lobby has refused to listen to those Iraqis who supported war over continued tyranny. Banners saying 'Freedom for Iraq' were confiscated at anti-war rallies and photographs of Halabja, where Saddam gassed 5,000 Kurdish civilians, were seized.

No voice was given to people such as Freshta Raper, who lost 21 relatives in Halabja and wanted to ask: 'How many of you have asked an Iraqi mother how she felt when forced to watch her son being executed? How many know that these mothers had to applaud as their sons died? What is more moral: freeing an oppressed, brutalised people from a vicious tyrant or allowing millions to continue suffering indefinitely?'

In the summer I spent more than a month in Iraq. What I found did not correspond to what was being reported - most crucially, that the liberators were already widely denounced as occupiers. As a rule, that simply wasn't true. In Baghdad, where US forces had permitted looting (although not as much as reported) and where security and services were virtually non-existent, attitudes towards the Americans were mixed. But even in Baghdad, even with Saddam and his sons still at large, the sense of relief at the toppling of the regime was palpable.


A creative solution to the difficulties of retail operations in a war zone halfway around the world.
The 5-, 10- and 25-cent coins are essentially AAFES gift certificates and redeemable only at AAFES stores and vendors.

AAFES began issuing the cardboard coins in November 2001 at exchange stores in Afghanistan and elsewhere during Operation Enduring Freedom. Thirty-eight stores have been opened in support of OEF and Operation Iraqi Freedom, McDonald said, including 11 in Iraq.

The red, white and blue, coated-cardboard coins have gotten mixed reviews from troops in Baghdad, who would otherwise have their purchases rounded up to the nearest dollar and not receive any change at all.


But it appears that soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will not have their extra pay cut.

Read the whole complicated story here.
The Department of Defense has asked Congress to roll back the Jan. 1 increases in Family Separation Allowance and Imminent Danger Pay enacted in April for deployed forces and, instead, to raise Hardship Duty Pay only for military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If Congress agrees, FSA for tens of thousands of personnel would fall in January, from $250 a month down to $100, and IDP would drop from $225 a month down to $150. So, depending on individual circumstance, the pay cut could range from $75 to $225 a month.

Among deployed forces, only troops in Afghanistan and Iraq would be spared an actual pay cut.

Indeed, many in those theaters could see a pay gain. Their HDP would be raised Jan. 1 by at least $225 a month, an amount to match any combined drop in FSA and IDP. HDP, in fact, could be raised as much as $300.


Part of 1st AD turf is designated Zone 18 by the military, the most target-rich sector in Baghdad, said Lt. Col. Bill Rabena, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, Giessen, Germany.

“That’s not open to deliberation. That’s fact,” he said.

But the longer he’s here, and the more sources he develops, the more reliable information from people closer to the problem he’ll get, Rabena said. What’s clear is that American soldiers don’t have the language skills or the invisibility to blend in, to gather crucial intelligence themselves, said Baker. Only natives can do that.

Operating out of Odai Hussein’s former romantic getaway in Baghdad’s Al-Adhamiya district, one way Rabena separates worthless tips and leads from the gold nuggets is by using a former Iraqi army brigadier general “who fell out with Saddam back in 1991,” he says. “He’ll look at something and say, ‘This is worthless, but this is interesting.’”

So where do you find former generals to vet your intelligence? Rabena smiles and says, “Ah, networking. You can’t stand back and expect it to happen. You have to embrace people … go out and ask them if you can help them with something.”


A long way from what our soldiers are trained to do. America should be proud at what they are accomplishing.

However, most 1st AD officers said that neither they nor their men are trained to rebuild nations, only to destroy America's enemies.

“You learn it as you go,” said Lt. Col. Bill Rabena, battalion commander for the Giessen, Germany-based 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment of the 1st Brigade. “And there’s a lot to be said for staying here longer.”

Some involved in trying to bring stability worry American officials are relying too much on an Army designed for warfighting.

One 2nd Brigade officer said it’s not uncommon for him to scour reserve units, trying to find, for example, engineers who can fix water systems. “Everything we do is different from our military occupational specialty,” said one young 1st Brigade captain. “The surprising part is that we do it better than the people trained to do it.”

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 5th. The 147th day of CPT Patti's deployment.