Saturday, November 22, 2003


CPT Patti has been in Baghdad for 195 days...and hasn't seen her mother in an even longer period.

Me, I'm sitting right here with my mother...teaching her to blog.

Friday, November 21, 2003

In the new Iraq even the Communist Party has adopted the politics of religion.

Karl Marx may have denounced it as the opiate of the masses, but Iraqi communists are promoting religion as a central part of the national fabric.

"We are a country where the absolute majority are Muslims and we cannot ignore the fact that Islam could be in many ways important for us," said Minister of Culture Mofeed al-Jazaeri.

Jazaeri, a member of the Communist Party's politburo, says the priority for Iraq today is not the secular separation of religion and state, but promoting a culture of democracy that accommodates Iraq's delicate ethnic and religious mix.

"We are trying to create a new democratic Iraq," he told Reuters in an interview.

Religion? "A new democratic Iraq"? Communists???
A home-made launcher fitted with 30 rockets has been found in a street near the Italian embassy in Baghdad, Iraqi police chief General Ahmed Ibrahim told AFP.


But according to our rear detachment commander, no soldiers were injured.
More than a dozen rockets fired from donkey carts slammed into Iraq's Oil Ministry and two downtown hotels Friday morning — brazen, coordinated strikes at some of Baghdad's most heavily protected civilian sites that defied a U.S. crackdown.

Two more rocket launchers mounted on donkey carts were found within hours, one of them 30 yards from the Italian Embassy, the other near the Academy of Fine Arts, both in the Waziriya neighborhood north of downtown. Neither appeared to have been fired.

And because noone was hurt, allow me this bit of levity.

Does this give a whole new meaning to the phrase "Blow it out your a*s"?

And then there is this:

Ziyad, a 25-year-old Iraqi man who was staying with his bride Rownaq at the Palestine for their wedding night, was two doors down from one of the areas hit on the 15th floor.

"We were sleeping when we heard the sound of a rocket," he said. "This is our wedding present."

Note to Ziyad: Dude, I hope you weren't intending on a career as a honeymoon travel consultant...

And by all personal accounts with the folks I've spoken to, he was an exceptional young man.
First Lt. Benjamin J. Colgan always stood out.

“Superhuman and fearless,” is how Lt. Col. Bill Rabena described Colgan, 30, of Kent, Wash. Rabena, battalion commander with the 1st Armored Division’s Giessen-based 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, tried to define Colgan by his long list of achievements, but concluded that words “fall woefully short.”

“To me, Ben was the bravest, most decent and selfless man I’ve ever known,” Rabena wrote in Colgan’s eulogy, which was read Nov. 11, Veterans Day, at Colgan’s funeral in Aurora, Mo., his wife Jill’s hometown.
November 20, 2003
Ma Barker?

Release Number: 03-11-35



FALLUJAH, Iraq – Soldiers from 1st Battalion 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment captured an anti-coalition cell leader and six others in a cordon and search yesterday in Fallujah.

Kurdia Turkey Ali and her six sons were operating an independent anti-coalition cell. The group is responsible for planning attacks and disrupting coalition activities. They are also suspected of coordinating an attack against a civilian convoy near Fallujah that killed two government contractors.

The seven individuals are currently being held for further questioning. Kurdia Ali, the female, is being guarded by female military police.


Posting today, that is.

In a few minutes my brothers and I will gather up Mom and head down to Clinton, SC to see her father who just yesterday turned 92 years old.

CPT Patti has been physically outside the family circle for 194 days during her deployment to Baghdad.

Me, I had dinner in that family circle last night. There is magic in that circle.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Families hoping to send a Christmas package to soldiers in the Middle East have only two weeks to get the items mailed so they show up in time for Christmas.

The Postal Service said last week the deadline for packages sent to the Central Command area for Christmas delivery must be mailed by First Class or Priority Mail by Dec. 4.

A fraction of the cost of the Iraq war would be enough to feed the world's poor and help boost peace and security, the head of the United Nations food agency said yesterday.

"We look at tens of billions being spent today in Iraq, the conflict... (With) even a small percentage of the commitment that the world has made to Iraq, you could feed every hungry child in the world," James Morris, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), told a news conference.

Oh, good point Einstein. A fraction of the cost of the Iraq war will feed the world?

What about a fraction of the freakin' UN budget of which the USA pays the lions share?

How about a fraction of what Osama Bin Laden has spent to finance Islamofacism around the world?

How about a fraction of the billions poured into Saddam's garish houses as a result of the United Nation's own "Oil for Palaces Program".

All you have established Mr. Morris, is that a fraction of a very large number can still yield a very large number.

Where you are an idiot, Mr. Morris, is that you choose to imply that the liberation of 25 million oppressed Iraqis is an opportunity cost to the feeding of the world's hungry.

Mr. Morris, a fraction of the oxygen that you breathe would sustain newborn babies for days. But that doesn't make it a sensible argument now does it?

God help us if we convict this man.
An Army officer fought back tears Wednesday as he acknowledged threatening to shoot an Iraqi detainee to extract information about a planned attack, saying that to protect his troops he would "go to hell with a gasoline can in my hand."...

During breaks in the hearing, sympathetic soldiers approached West and offered support. Some asked that their picture be taken with him. A female soldier approached West and hugged him outside the hearing room.

West also got some support from Washington. Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, said unless new information emerges, he thinks the officer "should be commended for his actions in interrogation that prevented an attack on the soldiers of his command. That's my feeling, and I think others may share it but may not want to say it."

If there's one thing Country Insurance and Financial Services has learned after a Carol Stream employee's second extended military leave in two years, it's this: Never say you fired him.

"We're very, very sorry this has caused confusion," said Country Insurance spokeswoman Cathy Oloffson. "Our intent has never been to hurt anyone on active duty."

Wednesday, the Bloomington, Ill.-based insurance company dropped a longstanding policy of firing servicemen on tour for longer than nine months.

Even though the firm said those fired while serving military duty have been rehired when they return, the company nonetheless retracted its policy after news reports that an employee had been fired twice while on active duty.

Anthony Marcukaitis, 56, of Carol Stream has been serving in Iraq with the Army Reserves 814th Military Police Company since February. Before the 2001 terrorist attacks, the insurance adjuster had never been away from work at Country's Schaumburg office for an extended period.


Let's hope it brings big results.
U.S. authorities on Wednesday offered a $10 million reward for information leading to the capture or killing of Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, the most wanted man in Iraq after deposed dictator Saddam Hussein.

Reading grafitti in Baghdad.
Hussein loyalists shout their yearning for the deposed dictator - "Saddam will come again" - followed by the coda on the same line from a detractor: "Through my behind!"

There are other good lines here...such as

"Saddam the dirty, the son of the dirty, in which septic tank are you hiding now?"

Read the rest here.
Mecham told of going to a part of the prison that Saddam Hussein used as death row.

“It was a run down prison, very surreal,” he said. “It was the same feeling I had when I went to Dachau. You could almost hear the voices of the people as you saw the Arabic writing on the walls.

The Arab translators told us it was emotional writings honoring the people who were being put to death wrongfully. Saddam took the life of about 300 Iraqis a day by hanging them.

The ‘Death Room’ had these huge rings welded to the ceiling. They had huge metal trap doors that would just clang after they opened. The whole prison could hear the doors clang open. If the people didn’t die, they would be dropped down to a floor below and then thrown into a room and gassed.

The Iraqis plan to make that part of the prison a memorial.”

This guy says it was immoral. The prison and the murders? No...stopping it.

Anti-war protesters did manage to make their voices heard. As Mr Bush was introduced to dignitaries, demonstrator Joe Gittings produced a loudhailer and heckled him until he was drowned out by the band playing the US national anthem.

Mr Gittings, 32, a physics PhD student, said: "This is a completely immoral and unjustified war that is already having disastrous consequences."

Disasterous consequences such as the estimated 60,000 not being killed by Saddam Hussein since he was toppled .

Bonus points to the British musicians who "drowned him out" by playing the Star Spangled Banner.


Bloggers, apparently.
I feel sure if learned the United States Army was responsible an incident such as this you would feel obligated to publish the story and condemn the act.

In this case I respectfully suggest you have an obligation to do somewhat more.

Find out what the NY Times obligation is here.
A car bomb exploded outside the home of a tribal leader in a city west of the Iraqi capital on Wednesday, killing a child, in the latest in a series of attacks aimed at U.S. allies.

The explosion in Ramadi targeted the house of Amer Ali Suleiman, according to his cousin, Yasser Ali. Suleiman is a leader of the Duleim tribe, one of the largest Sunni Muslim tribes in Iraq. He is a member of the city council and is close to the Americans. Suleiman was not injured but at least one child was killed, Ali said.

And more evil

Bomb blasts have hit the British consulate and a London-based bank in Istanbul, Turkey, and officials say at least 25 people have been killed and nearly 400 injured...

The explosions came five days after 25 people died in suicide bombings outside two Jewish synagogues in Istanbul. The bombers in those attacks have been identified as Turkish men who share the philosophy of the al-Qaida terrorist network.

An unidentified caller to Turkey's Anatolia news agency claimed that al-Qaida and a Turkish Islamic militant group jointly were responsible for Thursday's blasts. The claim could not be confirmed.

Bombings. Iraqi city councilmen. Turkish synagogues. British banks in Turkey. Bali night clubs. And on and on.

The war is global, whether you've joined it or not.

And consider this...if they are striking this regularly outside of the says to me that we are doing something right in making it damned difficult to strike within the USA

1st Infantry Division gets ready for their rotation.
“The things that are happening here [at the training area] are the same things happening in Iraq. Are they happening with the same intensity? Probably not.”

Among the Iraq-specific scenarios were encountering improvised explosive devices and convoy ambushes, and clearing mines from roadways, Naifeh said.


And it involves one of our own!
Cruikshank’s mother, Teresa, is married to Lateef Al-Saraji, who fled Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. When Cruikshank arrived in Baghdad in May with the 1st Armored Division’s 16th Engineer Battalion, she had an interpreter call her relatives, who live 10 minutes from her camp.

“The next day they ended up showing up at the front gate and asked to see me,” said Cruikshank, a Portsmouth, Ohio, native based in Giessen, Germany, with the 1st AD. “I was really surprised; I didn’t think they’d show up that quick.”

For the next two weeks she met with her stepfather’s brothers, using a dictionary and drawing pictures to communicate. On her 22nd birthday, they threw a party and brought a three-tier cake and kebabs to the base, located at the former Baghdad Island amusement park.

During their daily meetings, the Iraqis offered to help the soldier. But it was she who helped them by talking to her first sergeant and others about finding them work. In June, the family opened a general store on base — next to the post exchange — to sell snacks, cigarettes, rugs and DVDs.

November 19, 2003
Release Number: 03-11-32


AR RAMADI, Iraq – In a raid last night, soldiers from 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment of Task Force “All American” captured the individual believed to be responsible for the attack on the Ar Ramadi police chief’s son two nights ago.
Coalition forces believe the captured man has also been carrying out attacks on soldiers in the region.
Local Iraqis tipped off coalition forces on where the attacker was located. Tips on anti coalition activities have increased six times since last month. Iraqis continue to take security into their own hands by cooperating with the coalition.
In a separate incident near Iskandariyah, soldiers from 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment captured 16 individuals in the act of preparing an improvised explosive device. The men were found preparing multiple mortar tubes, mortars, grenades, and rocket propelled grenades for an attack.

November 19, 2003
Release Number: 03-11-33



AR RAMADI, IRAQ – The 82nd Airborne Division conducted operations to seek out those that destabilize the country and try to prevent coalition forces from carrying out their mission in Iraq. By accomplishing their missions, coalition forces continue to make Iraq a more stable and prosperous place for its citizens.

In the past 24 hours, soldiers from the 82dAbn. Div., also known as Task Force “All American,” went on 160 patrols, nine of which were joint patrols with members of the Iraqi Border Guard and Iraqi police. Five offensive operations were also conducted; all were cordon and searches. These operations resulted in six enemy killed, three wounded, and 15 captured.

Soldiers engaged two criminals who were looting a munitions factory, near Iskandariyah. One looter was killed and the other was wounded. The wounded looter was taken to Forward Operating Base Chosin for further treatment. Following treatment he will remain in the custody of Coalition Forces. The incident is under investigation.

Tomorrow, the Al Anbar Trucking Company contract will be signed at 1 p.m. This initiative will create employment opportunities for hundreds in Al Anbar and generate additional revenue for the local economy, as local contractors will now begin moving non-essential supplies for coalition forces.

Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Infantry Division, and 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment continue to combine their efforts with the new local Iraqi government to make a safer place for its inhabitants and coalition soldiers.

November 19, 2003
Release Number: 03-11-34



TIKRIT, Iraq– The 4th Infantry Division and Task Force Ironhorse conducted 42 planned attacks last evening as part of “Operation Ivy Cyclone II.” Utilizing, 155mm artillery, 120mm mortars, AH-64 “Apache” attack helicopters and direct fire from Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M1A1 “Abrams” tanks, 4th Infantry Division soldiers destroyed 12 anti-Coalition safe houses and buildings and suppressed 14 mortar-firing locations, as well as, four ambush sites.

Additionally, in six separate coordinated raids 4th Infantry Division soldiers captured 36 individuals suspected of anti-Coalition activities.

During several specific missions Task Force Ironhorse soldiers diminished the capabilities of anti-Coalition forces by targeting specific locations known to be used as platforms for coordination and control of enemy operations.

4th Infantry Division AH-64 “Apache” attack helicopters targeted an athletic field in Samarra that is a known mortar firing point. Three other locations in the same area were also targeted because of their proximity to Coalition positions and the fact that the locations have been used to launch mortars against the Coalition in the past.

As a part of the AH-64’s standard armament, 30mm cannons were used to hit enemy targets, as well as, two 500 lbs. bombs from F16 “Falcons”. Additionally, an artillery battery from 1st Battalion, 66th Armor fired numerous 155mm artillery rounds at specific targets in the same area.

In the Tikrit area Coalition Forces employed artillery, mortars and attack helicopters to target locations that are used by former regime loyalist and insurgents to attack 4th Infantry Division positions.

Operation “Ivy Cyclone II” is the ninth operation associated with the elimination of non-compliant forces with in the 4th Infantry Division and Task Force Ironhorse area of operation.


It's been a while since I was here. There are things we forget...and there are things that are new and unknown.

Looking out the window of the plane as we approached landing. "My goodness", I thought, "the dirt is really red here."

I knew that...but I forgot that.

One step off the plane...into that square tube I think they call the "jet way". It isn't a tight seal. And I felt it...even remarked out loud about it...

Humidity. Not heavy, not is November after all. But there, like an old, worn t-shirt with a smell that takes you back to high school.

And the acccent. In Giessen I don't run into it nearly as much. There are southerners in the Army and many of them in our little corner of Germany. But I'm not talking about a "southern accent" here...there isn't such a thing. There are as many accents across the south as there are regions and shades of regions. I'm talking about the regional lilt that exists within about a 100 mile circle of where I grew up.

In poor Hollywood productions the adopted, overwrought "southern" accents would have my name pronounced "Tee-yum". But that isn't really it. Like much of Hollywood its overdone, too simplistic revealing more about Hollywood's expectations than about the south itself. A native from around here pronounces it more like "Teh-em" in a similar approach to our pronunciation of my home town, "Grehn-vull".

It is soft and warm, like the pastor's hand when you shake it while passing out the door after an excited Sunday sermon.

And there is a certain unhurried comfort...remarkably achieved inside an airport of all places. Scattered throughout the Charlotte airport are circles of rocking chairs. Painted white, and intermixed among large potted ficus trees, they aren't for show...they are for use. I sat in one for an hour...watching the people, watching the sunset, rocking back and forth as if I were sitting on Charlotte's front porch. It was surprisingly therapeutic...I'd forgotten the power of a rocking chair. Sitting here now I wonder if rockers in an airport are an incongruity to some.

If they are...well, they just ain't from 'round here.

Those are the initial impressions...rememberences of parts of my own soul that have sat on the shelf for most of the 24 years I've lived somewhere other than here on behalf of the US Army.

But it isn't all fresh peaches. The down sides exist.

Like pennies.

In our little American economic community in Germany - the community that consists of the PX, the Commissary, the on-post Burker King, the AAFES Shopette, the Bowling Lanes and the self-service auto repair garage...we've eliminated pennies. We don't use them...although prices will still read "69 cents" or "$1.52". We just round it up or down to the nearest nickel.

I suppose some statistician out there could take the time to figure out that prices get rounded up say, 58% or the time thus increasing actual cost of living by .046% on average. And the time required to figure that out is about as long as it takes to get over thinking about it and learn to enjoy the fact that all your change is silver, and it all spends easily.

I'm home 12 hours, I have a pocket full of pennies I do not want. Sorry Abe, if I want to see you, I'll pull out a Five.

And then there is the Party Line. I'm not talking about a common story to which we all subscribe. I'm talking about the rural phone lines of 50 years ago...when multiple families were on a single telephone arrangement in which family A could be having a conversation on the phone with family B across town and family C (next door) could listen in by simply picking up the handset in family C's own home. You shared the same phone line...and, if you were a busybody, you could share the information too by silently listening in.

It seems we've come nearly full circle. There are some technical changes of course...we aren't on the same line and I can't necessarily hear both sides of the conversation. But the cell phone has returned elements of the Party Line to our lives.

While sitting in the airport yesterday awaiting the connecting flight, I listened in on no less than five telephone calls.

I learned that she initially intended to have a simple print dress, but fell in love with this huge formal wedding gown afterall and is now uncertain whether she should pack it for flying to Ohio, or ask a friend to drive it.

I learned that in spite of the testing results to the contrary by the independent laboratory this certain gizmo apparently doesn't work at low temperatures. At least the customer seems to think so...and it would appear a law suit for breach of contract could be in the works unless the vendor comes up with a fix and pretty fast.

I learned that...well, I think you get the picture. And I think that you may be feeling that you don't really care what I learned by overhearing these conversations seemingly shouted into cell phones.

And that is the point. Neither do I.

I was not a willing participant to any of these phone calls. But that doesn't seem to matter to the denizens of the Charlotte Douglas Airport...

No one who reads here regularly can call me a Euro-phile. Unlike les nouveaux-voyageurs I've lived in Europe long enough to understand those bumps are European warts...not beauty marks.

But when we arrived in Germany this time it was clear that everyone has a cell phone (the Germans inexplicably call a cell phone "ein Handy"). There were at that time easily more handies per capita in Germany than in the USA. So they know cell phones, and they do cell phones.

And apparently they've figured out that the engineers have conquered that gap between the end of the cell phone at near mid-cheek level, and the eminations of vocalizations that come out of ones mouth.

Or, put more simply...they've learned they DON'T HAVE TO YELL INTO THE CELL PHONE!!!!!!!!!!

We need some serious catch up in the etiquette of cell phone usage.

If it rings at the table in the restaurant, take it outside.

If you can't take it outside, move someplace out of hearing range.

If anyone can hear your side of the conversation other than the person on the other end of the phone, friend, you are wrong.

I don't know whether to file this under noise pollution or personal space invasion.

I can sit next to you in an airport waiting room...we can be physically within 6 inches of one another and we can coexist. If we talk, we tend to adjust our voices so that only the most persistent of eavesdroppers can overhear. We have figured all this out and have a cultural norm regarding our personal space.

When you shout into your cell phone, indeed if not shouting...but you are having that conversation in such a way that I can't help but hear you know just what a pompous, self-absorbed ass you appear to be? You aren't cool...I'm not impressed that you are getting married or just bungled a multi-million dollar deal...and I'm wondering just how on earth we used to ever get along without knowing precisely the second the airplane that you are on came to a halt at the airport gate.

No - when any of this happens you are the aural equivalent of Ernie, poking at Bert.

Poke poke poke poke poke.

I wouldn't stand for physical pokes...and you wouldn't consider physically poking me.

Why, then, do you poke me in the ear?

And such are the ruminations of a jet lagged insomniac who is glad to be home with family, and a bit inquiet that my darling wonderful wife isn't here. They love her. I love her...and she makes me a better person when she is around.

CPT Patti has not laid eyes upon a single relative for the 193 days she has been deployed.

Me - I'm now back in the States...have seen my mother, brother, sister-in-law and nephew so far. More to come today.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003


Must see.

(Via tryingtogrok)

I borrow the refrain from Rocky Horror to remind all that on Wednesday I will be traveling to the USA down to the Palmetto State (show of hands...who had to look that up?) for a couple of weeks with the kinfolk.

Effectively, for readers who remain in their usual locales, I will be traveling backwards in time by six hours. And the postings will be similarly delayed for the duration of my trip.

Additionally, I will be relying upon the good nature (and hopefully broadband connection) of my brother and sister-in-law for access to the internet. By all appearances they still seem to have "real lives" and just may not understand the Jupiter-like gravitational force that exists between me and a computer keyboard these days.

I'll give it my best I promise...but it might be different for a couple of weeks.

I was watching the American Music Awards last night (stuff on TV over here is sometimes time shifted a day, week or decade or two). And this country singer whose name I can't recall was singing about how much he "loves this bar."

Well, he's got has hatbrim broken in just the right places so it breaks down over his eyes. He's shuffling and boppin' with the beat. His lead guitar player is wailing, leaning back as if the sound from the on stage monitors was a category 5 hurricane. The drummer is flailing, bouncing and intently wailing the tar out of the drum set.

In short...they all look very cool on stage. Each was expressing himself as visually cool, using their instruments as objects of their expression.

And then I saw the guy on the pedal steel guitar. And I think that in the history of the world, the poor schlub who plays the pedal steel guitar is the least cool musician on stage, ever.

And that includes folks who play the triangle and the piccolo.

The pedal steel guitar...the sound of which defines country music, just isn't cool...doesn't look cool anyway.

Looking something like an autoharp on an ironing board, there is just no way to "love" with the pedal steel. It's not the sort of instrument you can lean back and can't very will bounce and sway either.

In fact the physical position one adopts while playing the pedal steel is visually indistinguishable from the position adopted by homeowners sewing new pillow covers on Trading Spaces.

I think Junior Brown recognized this when he invented his double necked "guitsteel" instrument - and then had to have his neckties specially made with a little pocket in them so he has a place to hold the slide when playing the 6 string. It was an improvement certainly...although I always worried he would drop that slide while switching from one instrument to the other.

Meanwhile, to the best of my one else has made any serious headway in figuring out how to make the pedal steel players look cool.

Perhaps someday...if Ferrari jumps in to redesign Singer products...perhaps then there will be some hope for the least cool musician on stage.

Sarah has an interesting discussion going on in which Bloggers take a moment to remind themselves that not everyone is paying attention to the stuff we are paying attention to.

In my heart I knew she (and the others in the discussion) are correct.

But I didn't know to what extent.

Today I was on the phone ordering CPT Patti some more contact lenses.

I spoke with a friendly, outgoing and seemingly very competent sales girl located somewhere in the USA. As she negotiated the required fields for the mailing address, I mentioned that I was ordering for my wife..."a soldier in Baghdad".

As we went through the strange APO address exchange obviously her computer screen wanted her to fill in the country to which the shipment is directed.

"Your wife is in Baghdad, Sir?"

"Yes she is."

"Strange...I'm not showing Baghdad as a country in my database"

Stunned, bemused and a little taken took me a moment to gently indicate that Baghdad is the capitol of Iraq.

Some folks are not paying all that close attention, indeed.
Something borrowed, something blue. Something old, something flown back from Iraq.

Tessa Flitton received an unexpected wedding present Saturday.

Just as the procession started, her father, David Flitton, a Utah National Guard member on duty in Iraq since January, stepped in to escort her down the aisle.

"I think I'll take it from here," David Flitton told his brother and stand-in, Lawrence.

The astonished bride gasped, put her hand to her mouth to suppress a scream and started crying. Father and daughter embraced. Neither knew what to do next.

"Take your dad's arm," her mom, Renee Flitton, coaxed.


Now we're being pimped by Fiji?
The United States wants Fiji to send soldiers to Iraq but is not willing to pay their wages.

Fijians have served as peacekeepers around the world, but this month the Government cut the military budget and shows no willingness to send troops to Iraq at its own expense.

Iraq's U.S.-led administration is ready to take over distributing food to millions of needy Iraqis when the U.N. oil-for-food program expires this Friday, a U.S. official said Monday.
Pentagon leaders have accused the media of "largely ignoring" progress while dwelling on problems. "It isn't all terrible. There's some darn good stuff happening," said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Many Americans agree. A Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll taken early this month, for example, found that 41 percent of Americans believe the media's Iraq coverage is too negative, 15 percent say it is too positive, 36 percent say it is balanced.

Yet US editors and media analysts counter that the spreading guerrilla attacks on the US-led coalition are rightfully major news in Iraq today, and take precedence over coverage of repairing schools or restoring water. Iraq is not a PR problem, but a policy problem, they say.

"No matter how many reporters are there, you are always going to have more coverage of Americans dying than [of] an electricity grid coming up," says George Condon, Washington bureau chief of Copley Newspapers. "That's how it should be, because that's what Americans care about."

Is that right, Mr. Codon? Americans don't care about the progress being made, they only care about the slip-ups and the set backs? Are you sure that is what Americans "care about" Mr. Condon?

Or is it what you and your fellow media managers care about? Because what you choose to report, Mr. Condon, shapes the attitudes of the American people. That "is how it should be" Mr. Condon?

I question your motives, Mr. Condon. And in the future I will thank you to cease presuming to know what this American cares about. Because in this case, Mr. Condon, you couldn't be any more wrong that you are.
Ruth Ann Young, of Kirkland, Wash., organized a group that established a goal of sending 1,000 packages to soldiers overseas. The group surpassed that goal by collecting material for about 6,200 packages.

The packages, weighing about 40,000 pounds, arrived at Fort Riley on Monday in two semitrailers...

"They raised over $210,000 worth of contents for the packages, so it's pretty monumental," he said. "The whole town of Kirkland, basically, was involved in it."
An American commander is preparing to pull troops back from Ramadi, a city at the center of guerrilla activity, and turn it over to Iraqi officers, an experiment that could change the course of the occupation of Iraq.

The commander, Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., of the 82nd Airborne Division, said in an interview last week that troops stationed in Ramadi might be ready to withdraw as early as January. About 18,000 Americans are stationed in Anbar Province, with several thousand of those in Ramadi, military officials said.

The plan, if it works, would represent a significant shift in American efforts to pacify areas dominated by Sunni Arabs, who benefited the most from the reign of Saddam Hussein. The plan seems to dovetail with Washington's recent push to accelerate the transfer of political responsibilities to the Iraqis.

General Swannack said his troops would "stand back" outside the town, ready to help the Iraqi police when needed, but otherwise leaving policing duties to them. To help prepare the Iraqis, he said, the G.I.'s have begun joint patrols with them.


And some of the world is responding...
Australia should prepare for car bomb attacks such as those that have rocked Istanbul, Baghdad and Jakarta during the past three months, al-Qa'ida has warned.

If his claim is true, that would mean Adnan spent his teenage years in the presence of Faisal II, the cousin of Jordan's late King Hussein, who was executed by the Iraqi military. Whether true or not, Adnan's bubbly personality and why-speak-when-you-can-shout conversational style make him a welcome change from the normal surly lot of Baghdadis...

Adnan's antiques boutique is an eclectic holding house of time-worn treasures and outright junk. Adnan does not use persuasion to lure customers in so much as main force. His tree-trunk arms allow no polite demurrals. When he heard me speaking English last year, he decided we would be friends. My opinion was not sought.

''Be professional, be polite and be prepared to kill them,'' said Colonel Russ Gold, commander of the 1st Armored Division's 3rd Brigade which conducted the operation, describing his instructions to his troops for striking the balance.
When the Spearfish Spartan football team took the state championship Saturday night, a whole unit of soldiers cheered the team from half a world away.

"Way to go Spartans! That is awesome that they won, we all knew that they could do it," wrote National Guard soldier Noah Siebenaller from base camp near Baghdad, Iraq.

The South Dakota National Guard 842nd Engineer Company learned what was happening throughout the game via e-mail updates.

"Thank you so much for keeping us posted on the game!" Siebenaller wrote.

They could not see or hear the game in real time, but that didn't make their enthusiasm or support any less real. E-mail updates were sent to the troops at halftime, as soon as the Spartans scored their first touchdown and with the final seconds ticking off the clock. "The entire 842nd Engineer Company is very proud of the Spearfish Spartans and would like to congratulate them on winning their second state championship, way to go! Aberdeen didn't stand a chance," Siebenaller said.


Or...perhaps, the headlines are being given away.

A very thoughtful piece from a small town paper in Kentucky. Worthy of a read.
Yet, as I thumb through the dozens of photos that froze but one tiny moment of my time in Iraq earlier this year, I am reminded that thin line that divides love and hate is often all that keeps peace from becoming chaos, and chaos from becoming peace.

The chaos that has crept northward from Baghdad into Mosul, a city the size of Chicago controlled by the 101st Airborne Division, has supplanted the relative peace that never quite made headlines. Certainly, Saturday's single-most deadly event of the war is deserving of a nation's attention, but the day-to-day missions of the thousands of men and women of Fort Campbell now in Iraq has not changed since I was able to spend time among them in August.

The highly-trained soldiers of the 101st with their high-tech equipment and skills to employ that machinery have essentially been reduced to police, security guards, city administrators, painters, carpenters, traffic cops, etc. … all in an effort to help the Iraqi people get back on their feet and begin making a new life after Saddam...

Unfortunately, those who never wanted us there in the first place and continue to battle our presence are stealing the headlines over everything good accomplished by coalition forces.

Whether you agree or disagree with our decision to enter Iraq, we are there now, helping a people cope with something they have never before experienced -- freedom.

Ask our soldiers if they want to come home, and they'll say, "Yes."

Ask them if their purpose has been accomplished and they will most likely say, "No."

If America had turned tail and retreated with every tragic loss of life, every heart-breaking casualty and each daunting task that lay ahead, our stature in the world would be little more than existent.


CPT Patti has been on her never-ending Iraqi adventure for 191 days.

Me, I'm preparing for a quick couple of weeks back in the US of A. I'll be traveling on Wednesday.

Monday, November 17, 2003


I'll confess up front that I don't understand everything I know about this story.

I've never watched American Idol...which apparently puts me in a disctinct minority.

But I'm told this fella, Clay Aiken sang really well and came in runner up. I'm sensing this caused a bit of a controversy since there are other web sites out there with names like "" and such.

OK - suffice it to say that this guy has a remarkable fan base...and they seem to be in contact with one another (the fans) via the internet.

And if I understand the story correctly they've decided it is their mission to ensure that Clay has the biggest selling debut record ever. And they will do whatever it takes.

Enter "Betty". I don't know Betty's real name, I just know her as the mother in law of one of CPT Patti's Soldiers. Betty - who happens to live not far from us in Germany - is a huge fan of Clay...and apparently recently flew back to the States to attend 3 of his concerts in 3 different cities. (Can you say "stalker"?)

Betty was engaged with her online Clay fans when she jumped into the discussion about how they could elevate his record sales. Betty mentioned CPT Patti and the Gators in Baghdad and suggested that the die hard fans could help out both Clay and some US Soldiers by purchasing CDs to give to the Soldiers.

Well, apparently Clay appeals to a rather patriotic brand of American because the combination of spiking his sales and giving to soldiers just sent them into spasms.

Betty's daughter tells me that to date we have received over 90 copies of Clay's CD (CPT Patti has about 60 soldiers at the moment...) But it doesn't stop there...the "Clayniacs" wanted to know what else the soldiers need. And they have begun to give and to send and to give and to send.

We've received well over thirty seperate mailings from Clay fans so far. Last Friday when Betty's daughter went to the mail room to pick up her mail the mail room staff told her to come back when she had borrowed a truck!

Games, dartboards, snacks, socks, candy, cards and well wishes. You name it - and Clay's fans have sent it to us - and we are sending it forward to CPT Patti and all the Gator Soldiers. And in huge quantities (apparently a lot of Clay's fans shop at Sam's club...)

Well, Clay - I'm sorry I never watched the show...and thus I can't comment on whether you deserved to win or not.

But your fans certainly are a bunch of winners. And so are the Gator soldiers, thanks to the fanaticism and generosity of your fans.

And it isn't just the Clay is the class of second graders in Des Moines who are making Christmas stockings for CPT Patti's Soldiers. It is the Boy Scouts in North Carolina who are putting together goody boxes for the Gators...and the Attorney's firm in Omaha that sent gifts for Veteran's Day and are now gearing up for Christmas...and it is the fact that nearly 2000 of you have clicked into his web site to check on CPT Will's progress since he was wounded in Baghdad.

I am touched by this complete outpouring of support and giving by the American people. I have a dual perspective on this, as an old soldier myself, and the waiting husband whose wife is in Iraq. Please know how much this all means.

God bless you all...
Just as Grant and his generals woke up from Shiloh on April 8 to a new world, so did Americans on September 12.

In a blink the old idea of easy retaliation by using cruise missiles or saber-rattling press conferences seems to have vanished. With the end of that mirage, the two-decade fear of losing a single life to protect freedom and innocent civilians also disappeared.

Past ideas of restraint, once thought to be mature and sober, were now in an instant revealed more to be reckless in their naïveté and derelict by their disastrous consequences.

In the years to come we may well see far more nightmarish things in our military arsenal than bunker-busters and daisy-cutters.

Americans once feared to retaliate against random bombings; terrorists now wonder when we will stop — as the logic of September 11 methodically advances to its ultimate conclusion. Aroused democracies reply murderously to enemy assaults in a manner absolutely inconceivable to their naïve attackers.


Simply evil beings.

There is no justification. There can be no effective apology. No rationalization.

Al Qaeda is evil.

Osama bin Laden is evil.

Islamofascists terrorists are evil.

Simply evil.

And if we don't stop them, evil will rule and consume this world.
Al Qaeda claimed responsibility yesterday for the savage truck-bomb attacks that killed 23 people at two synagogues in Turkey.
In a statement to an Arabic-language newspaper in London, the terror group said it carried out the blasts because agents of the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, were at the synagogues.

It was not known if that was the case.

The claim of responsibility came as new details of the Istanbul attacks emerged, including that one of the bombers got away unscathed.

Israeli officials said the terror fiend drove his explosives-laden truck to the steps of the Neven Shalom synagogue and parked it there, explaining to a cop who stopped him that he was having car trouble and needed to go get help.

The vehicle then detonated after he walked away, killing the cop and others.


As you see the non-stop coverage of the anti-Bush/anti USA protests in Britain this week.
But our enemy is not America.

It isn't America that gives the most effective support to Sharonic intransigence - it's Israeli insecurity that does that.

It isn't America that sends ambulances to blow up aid workers or Istanbul synagogues.

It is America, above all, that is bearing the cost of helping to create a new Iraq - a new Iraq which, despite the violence, is being born in towns such as Hilla and cities such as Basra.

And yet some of our writers and protesters - betraying their own professed ideals - identify with bombers and not teachers, administrators and policemen who are building the country.

Good piece. And while I don't agree with much the Author has to say...his big picture points are spot on. Read it all here.

(via Instapundit)

Well written. Read it.
Al Franken calls Karl Rove "human filth," Ari Fleischer a "chimp," and John Ashcroft "something of a nutcase." Michael Moore calls President Bush a "nitwit" and (in the voice of God, no less) a "devil." Molly Ivins manages to insult millions at once when she approvingly quotes William Brann's crack that "the trouble with our Texas Baptists is that we do not hold them under water long enough." Mean-spirited, you say? No, it's all in good fun, the authors say...

Ironically, the three authors attack the alleged dishonesty of the president and his supporters but apparently have very few scruples about their own practices. Each relies almost exclusively on insults, unsubstantiated allegations, and misrepresentation of the facts to "prove" that conservatives are liars. Why not? This is satire, after all—the more outrageous, the better. Strangely, for all his talk of "kidding on the square," Mr. Franken never mentions what is most obvious: It's an essentially deceptive strategy. Kidding on the square lets us say whatever we want without having to own up to it. If someone takes offense, we don't have to give an answer. We can just wink and ask, "Can't you take a joke?"

All in good fun? Not really. Consider that this book stayed at number one for weeks - and was recently nudged out by another book of innuendo without proof, The Da Vinci Code - the book that implies Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.

The sad thing is that these books may be the nearest things much of the population will come to reading real political discourse or the Bible this year.
A rapid collapse of America's commitment to Iraq would:

* Create a power vacuum in the region. Ba'athist loyalists, terrorists (al Qaeda and others), Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Syria would rush to fill the void.

* Likely precipitate an Iraqi civil war between the Sunnis, the Shi'a and the Kurds. Iraq could be come another Bosnia, a country fractured by ethnic and religious civil war that has now been a ward of the international community for eight long years.

* Shatter American credibility worldwide, but especially in the Middle East.

Not to mention its effect on the War on Terror. Leaving before the job is done could also produce a new terrorist breeding ground: As in pre-9/11 Afghanistan, an abandoned Iraq could beget the likes of the Taliban and al Qaeda.

We can't afford ever again to cede terrorists a safe haven where they can gather, train, plan and operate. That is not what we want for the Iraqis, for ourselves or for the Free World.


It's not like writing an effective constitution is something these guys do everyday.
The American chief administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, has said the United States will help draft a new Iraqi constitution that embodies American values.

Speaking on US television, he added the new constitution would include guarantees that were not written into the country's fundamental laws previously.

Bremer also said there would be a side agreement concerning the presence of US and coalition forces in Iraq, which should see troops remaining in the Middle East.
Two lessons emerged from two Middle East bombings that claimed many lives.

The helpful lesson in Saudi Arabia is that the devastating bombing attacks are not the product of any legitimate struggle against "imperialism." Rather, fanatical Muslim terrorists are quite willing to drive a car bomb into a housing complex filled with fellow Muslims....

The wrong lesson was learned from the Iraq attack, though, by some timorous governments abroad.

Shortly after the bombing, Japan put on hold its plans to contribute troops to a peacekeeping force. Other nations might also try to keep their soldiers out of the line of fire, leaving more of the burden to be shouldered by the United States and its few allies.

Governments that want to run from the responsibility of the world community are playing right into the hands of the terrorists.

Can you sit on the sidelines in a "global" war on terror?

Well, yes you can. And in doing so you aid the other side.

N'est-ce pas?
A former police chief who is helping organize a law enforcement training academy in Iraq said there will be instruction on criminal investigation, traffic control and human rights.

Ronnie Dodd, a former police chief in the Chattanooga suburb of Red Bank, departed late last week as part of an advance team that will set up the academy intended to provide police training for more than 30,000 Iraqis....

''The only misgiving I have is that I am not a hot-weather person, and the term 'hot, arid desert' keeps coming up on the Web sites I research.''


It tests the community. It brings out the essence of people
On this drizzly gray, saddest of days, the headline stretched out across the top of the Fort Campbell Army post's weekly newspaper reads, "Fallen Eagles: Black Hawk crash victims remembered."
Dr Al Gasseer will oversee the multinational team which is trying to get Iraq's hospitals, clinics and other health services back into shape.

She aims to take charge on December 15, with Amman as a temporary base, from where she will make frequent trips into Iraq.

Dr Al Gasseer will manage all WHO activities within Iraq, bringing together and mobilising teams from the UN, the US, Europe and Iraq.

"It will be my responsibility to mobilise available resources to achieve the overall health policy and programmes for Iraq and the Iraqi people," she told the GDN yesterday, from her office in Geneva.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin has said power should be handed over to a provisional Iraqi government by the end of the year, calling a mid-2004 timetable favoured by the United States too slow.

Sometimes its about growing tomatoes...
Last week, the British administrators got word that farmers in the region were roiling with anger. They met with the farmers to see what the problem was and found that one issue was the lack of plastic sheeting to cover tomato plants.

The sheeting was not available in markets amid the postwar chaos but was urgently needed, the farmers explained, to protect the ripening crop before it perished. The British ordered $400,000 worth of the sheeting. They did not simply give it to the farmers but instead released it to shop owners, effectively flooding the market with plastic sheeting.

This brought prices way down so that farmers could afford it but also allowed the store owners to make a profit while providing what was needed.

"Why would we get involved with something like that? Because if the farmers are up in arms, then we could have a potential security problem," Synnott said.


But I get the Pentagon channel here in Germany...scintillating it ain't.
The Pentagon plans to launch a 24-hour satellite channel from Baghdad hoping local US television stations will use its footage to present "a more comprehensive picture" of events in Iraq.

The channel will offer uncut images of government briefings and military ceremonies, and local stations will be notified when an event or interview occurs that is relevant to their geographic area, the Washington Post reported.


It is Arabs standing between Iraq and progress. Arabs and only Arabs.

Spin it any way you want...that is the unavoidable conclusion.
As another relief agency closed its doors in the capital this week, a group of Iraqis and Americans in this city 100 miles southeast of Baghdad poured concrete for the foundation of another elementary school.

The moment was not just a measure of the progress that has been made to rebuild this run-down provincial capital but also, increasingly, of what is going undone in Baghdad and in the embattled cities of central Iraq.

While a wave of attacks in and around the capital has either chased relief workers out of town or behind high walls, in much of the rest of the country, the huge American-led reconstruction effort is rolling forward.

The result, increasingly, is a two-tiered rebuilding effort, one proceeding with ease across the south and large sections of the north, and the other, in the so-called Sunni Triangle in central Iraq moving forward with great difficulty.

The Iraqi scientist who headed Saddam Hussein's long-range missile program has fled to neighboring Iran, a country identified as a state sponsor of terrorism with a successful missile program and nuclear ambitions, US officers involved in the weapons hunt said.

But then we hear about this:

The Bush administration is working on a $16 million plan to keep Iraqi scientists occupied with peaceful research at home instead of taking their expertise to countries or terrorist organizations that could threaten the United States, according to a draft proposal obtained by The Associated Press.

We are mounting Iron Hammer...and the Iraqis are helping.
Then, two deadly attacks set off a surge in tips from Iraqi citizens: the Oct. 26 insurgent rocket attack on Baghdad’s Al Rashid Hotel and the attack a day later on the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz escaped injury in the hotel attack, but an Army lieutenant colonel was killed.

“After that there was a spike in the walk-ins,” said Capt. David Gercken, the division’s chief spokesman, referring to the number of Iraqis offering tips. “‘Hey, this group of people is carrying out these attacks from near my house.’ So now, instead of the time-date on the map … you have a name.

“We’ve been doing the pattern analysis for a while; shows us where and when … and all of a sudden you get a flood of intelligence. … You combine the two, now you can put the names,” said Gercken.

By the might interest you to note that you can frequently know who is doing what by the name of the operation. 1st Armored Division's nickname is "Old Ironsides". The "iron" in Operation Iron Hammer indicates it is a 1AD operation.

Similarly there is Operation Ivy Cyclone II. The 4th ID is the Ivy Division (Ivy - after IV...get it?). So you will know this is a 4th ID operation.

It doesn't always work this way....but frequently it does.

From personal experience I know just what wonderful ministers these guys can be.

Take a moment to read the entire article...I bet you will learn something you didn't know.
At Dragoon, Buckon prepares for his second Mass in the theater that is the camp chapel.

Riedel, a Southern Baptist, said he has performed baptisms at the camp and had several people rededicate their lives to Jesus Christ.

Soldiers at the camp have more time to think about important matters, he said to explain why so many come forward during his services. Back home, he said, there are too many distractions — shopping malls, family concerns, friends.

“Even though you are busy here and you are working, you have a lot of time to think,” he said. “Those deep penetrating questions really sink in.”

November 16, 2003
Release Number: 03-11-26



AL FALLUJAH, IRAQ – Paratroopers from 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment captured two brothers in a planned operation earlier today.

Latif and Salif Ibrahim, the brothers of captured Lt. Gen. Khamis Salah Ibrahim Al Halboosi, were detained for their part in an improvised explosive device attack on a U.S. Army convoy, which destroyed an ammunition truck near Al Fallujah in October.

When the brothers were detained, the paratroopers seized an AK-47, an RPG launcher, two RPG rounds, and 36 million dinar (approximately $24,000).

Previously, the former regime loyalists had organized and supplied money for attacks against coalition troops in Iraq in the past.

The capture of these brothers severely hinders the ability of local former regime loyalist cells to organize and implement attacks against innocent Iraqis and coalition forces.

CPT Patti has been losing weight on the Baghdad Diet for 190 days now.

I just spoke with her First Sergeant who is home on R&R. He's about the 19th person to tell me how much weight she has lost.

Me...uh, one will be under the misimpression that I've been to Baghdad lately...

Sunday, November 16, 2003


I drove to Landstuhl today to visit CPT Will. Landstuhl is about 125 miles from Giessen...and it was a rainy, yucky, sloppy day...the kind that will test your nerves especially out on the Autobahn.

Relating back to yesterday's link, let me tell you the Fisher House is just fabulous! It has a large library/tv room, another parlor like room, and a kitchen worthy of any Food Network show.

The guest rooms are simply furnished but very comfortable and well thought out.

CPT Will is doing super! Yes, his leg is injured and that will take some patience, some time to heal and some rehab. But his head is clear and his heart intact.

Until I went to visit him I was thinking of him as Will, the-wounded-in-battle. After seeing him today he seems more like Will, the guy with a bad leg.

But let me say this...I wasn't there 30 seconds before he was talking about all the folks from around the world who left kind words of encouragement on his website. He is truly and deeply touched. Will is a humble guy anyway...and I think the overwhelming show of support has meant a lot in his recovery.

So - if you are among those who answered the call from this blog, or others, to leave a comment in his online guest book, please accept my testimony that such a small act of kindness on your part paid huge dividends in the life of that soldier.

And if you haven't taken the time can now.

That is the German word for "weather".

And if you live here today you got a good sense of just how accurate the word is.

Quack quack...
November 15, 2003
Release Number: 03-11-22


MOSUL, Iraq (15 November, 2003) - Two UH – 60 Blackhawk helicopters assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) crashed in West Mosul at approximately 6:30 p.m. today.

The status of the crewmembers and passengers is unknown at this time.

The crash sites are currently secured by soldiers from the 101st, Iraqi police and Iraqi firefighters.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

November 15, 2003
Release Number: 03-11-23



MOSUL, Iraq (15 November, 2003) - Two UH – 60 Black hawk helicopters assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) crashed in West Mosul at approximately 6:30 p.m. Nov. 15.

17 soldiers died in the crash, 5 were wounded, and 1 is unaccounted for. The wounded have been evacuated to the 21st Combat Support Hospital at the Mosul Airfield.

One aircraft was carrying an aerial quick reaction force; the other was carrying soldiers on a transport mission within the Northern Iraq area of operations at the time of the crashes. The aircraft impacted approximately 250 meters from each other in a residential neighborhood.

The pilots of both aircraft were qualified in limited-visibility flight operations with Night Vision Goggles.

Soldiers from the 101st have secured the crash sites; Iraqi police and Iraqi firefighters are also on the scene.

The leaders and soldiers of the 101st extend deepest sympathies and condolences to the family members and friends of the dead and injured.

The 101st remains committed to accomplishing its mission of maintaining a safe and secure environment in Northern Iraq so that reconstruction and establishment of governmental institutions can go forward. The quick, joint response by 101st and Iraqi emergency units is a tribute to US-Iraqi teamwork and the progress achieved in the region.

The cause of the incident is under investigation. Names of the deceased will be released once next-of-kin notification is complete.


And CPT Patti has been 189 days without access to fresh broccoli...her favorite food other than rice.

Me...I've been 189 days without fresh broccoli too...strange...I haven't missed it...