Friday, November 28, 2003


Blogging will be late, if at all today. We are packing up the car for our annual trip to the mountains of NC to select and cut the Christmas tree.
There was explosive, euphoric reaction here. These soldiers, men and women, are extraordinarily homesick, so any familiar face from home would have been welcome. And, of course, the president's their commander in chief. So all the more so.

I spoke with more than a few soldiers about all of this, and they said they were especially touched because he came to show how he really felt about us.

Another report says this:

"That is absolutely awesome," said Sergeant Aaron Hildernbrandt, from Claremont, Florida, as he watched news of Bush's 2-1/2 hour swing-through on television in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.

"I think that shows real personal courage," said his companion Sergeant Gilbert Nail of Oklahoma, both of whom had just returned from a patrol through Saddam Hussein's hometown.

And they seemed especially to appreciate this line:

"We did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart of Iraq, pay a bitter cost in casualties, defeat a brutal dictator and liberate 25 million people, only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins," he said.


CPT Patti has been on deployment for 201 days.

She called about 10:00 pm our time on Thanksgiving night (early Friday Baghdad time).

She had a full and meaningful Thanksgiving day.

Her company had been tasked to provide two soldiers to go to the Airport to have Thanksgiving day lunch with "a senior Iraqi delegation". Of course, that turned out to be President Bush. CPT Patti said all her troops were pretty stoked to have the President come visit, even if he couldn't make it to her camp.

She said morale went through the roof.

We passed the telephone around when she called. She got to speak with brothers and sisters in law, nieces and nephews. She got to hear a whole lot of love poured in her direction.

God bless you, Darlin'. We miss you.

Thursday, November 27, 2003


Thanksgiving Day. And day 200 of CPT Patti's deployment.

She had the rare opportunity to write an email part here is what she says:

Happy Thanksgiving!! ...Today started with pulling a guard shift at 0000-0200 so that my soldiers didn't have to do it. LT B pulled the shift with me.

Then 0200-0400, it was SSG B and SSG By - and all the following hours for today will be my Specialist Promotables and above. It works out that all E4 and below will have the day off. Also, we have ping-pong and pool tournaments plus weightlifting contest and movies all day going on. We did have sports, but the weather here is nasty. It has been raining for the last three days. Also the temperature has dropped. It's pretty chilly in the mornings for PT. On Monday, I could actually see my breath.

Well, I gotta get dressed to go to church and lead the music then SSG B (acting 1SG) and I will go to the Dining Facility and serve chow....I will try to call you later today because of the time difference...

In case you wonder what I'm thankful for on this day it is two fold.

I'm thankful that this nation has soldiers made of stuff like this, just like CPT Patti, representing the USA and the concept of liberty around the globe. We could do much, much worse.

And I am thankful to God for sending this darling woman my way...even if the nation has had to borrow her for the last 200 days.

I won't be blogging today...I'll be celebrating with family and thanking God.

And on behalf CPT Patti let me wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003


Excellent piece here laying out the backdrop of the Global War on Terror.

Required reading if you want to understand the larger context. And all of us should.

Thanks, John.
If the United States and coalition partners are to succeed in changing the way the world thinks about terrorism, we'll have to ensure that terrorism is punished rather than rewarded and that state sponsors of terrorism pay a price for their activities. The Taliban and Saddam Hussein regimes have paid an especially large price.

But our efforts also have to target the recruitment and indoctrination of terrorists. No matter how successful we are at killing and capturing terrorists or intercepting their weapons or funds, we can't win the war on terrorism unless we can reduce the supply of new terrorists. So what are the circumstances that create fertile ground for the recruitment of terrorists?

I see many of the usual answers as off the mark.

Consider, for example, the phenomenon of suicide bombers -- terrorists who perform acts - attacks that they know they cannot survive. Many commentators have asserted that such terrorists don't calculate the cost and benefits of their action. Westerners commonly assume that only a person in deep despair could do such a thing.

This diagnosis implies its own solution, that the world should address what I call the root causes of terrorism -- the poverty and political hopelessness that many people imagine are the traits and motives of the suicide bombers. This diagnosis, however, doesn't correspond to our actual experience and it blinds us to the opportunities we have to confront terrorism strategically.

When we look at the records of the suicide bombers we see that many aren't drawn from the poor. Mohammed Atta, for instance, a key figure in executing the September 11 attacks, was a middle class Egyptian whose parents were able to send him to study abroad. His education meant that he could look forward to a relatively privileged life in Egypt -- hardly grounds for extreme despair.

Rather, what characterizes terrorists seems to be a strange mixture of perverse hopes. First of all, some bombers cherish a perverse form of religious hope. The promise of eternity in paradise is a tenet of many faiths. A noble incentive and consolation for millions of people. It's as typical as it is sinister that leaders of al Qaeda, Ansar al Islam, Hezbollah, Hammas, and other groups convince young people that eternity in paradise is available as a reward for murder.

Democrats are outraged — outraged! — that Republicans are defending President Bush against critics who have attacked his direction of the War on Terror. After more than a year of pummeling the President’s handling of the war with every criticism they could think of, suddenly they are offended that he is mixing politics and foreign policy.

What has the Dems miffed is an ad that includes a clip of President Bush saying, “Our war against terror is a contest of will in which perseverance is power,” then displays upon the screen the sentence, “Some are now attacking the President for attacking the terrorists.”

Presidential candidate Wesley Clark complained that the ad “violate(s) the pledge the President made not to exploit 9/11 for political purposes.”

Oh, hogwash. Where were the Democrats when former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-GA, accused President Bush of knowing that the 9/11 attacks were coming but letting them happen anyway? She lost her seat in Congress over her accusations, and now she claims she was ousted from office in a Republican conspiracy. Just last week she told an audience that the White House is developing some race-based bio-weapons they can use against minorities and political enemies.

Where were the Democrats when Gore Vidal, Noam Chomsky and other kooks accused the President of conspiracies similar to those alleged by McKinney?

Where were the Democrats when Sen. Ted Kennedy called the Iraq war a “fraud” and accused Bush of concocting the Iraq war plans in Texas purely for political gain?

We could go on, but you get the point.

"Iraq in 2010 won't be a Jeffersonian democracy, but it will be much better off than when it started," he said.

Apostolou is also director of research for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, as well as a former writer for The Economist.

Citing "Germany and Japan as misleading examples," he predicted a future Iraq resembling modern Italy — "not the freest or fairest nation," but relatively stable.

The Army does many things well, among them is "planning". I use the quotation marks because the level of planning involved I think surpasses anything that you or I do in our daily lives.

Have a look here.
"There will be a lot of movement, a lot of forces in transit," one Army officer said. "This raises serious force protection issues for us."

While recognizing these risks, American commanders in Iraq say proper planning could result in significant advantages that could help offset the dangers.

According to Pentagon and military officials, commanders are planning to take advantage of the overlap of arriving and departing soldiers, which offers a natural, if temporary, increase in troop strength without the politically contentious process of requesting additional forces.

Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of American and coalition forces in the region, is said by senior Pentagon officials to be well into planning for new operations intended to help stabilize Iraq and to capture or kill anti-American fighters during the rotation period. Officers declined to discuss specific plans being considered.

Norwegian soldiers serving in Iraq are baffled by politicians calling their mission a "humanitarian action". Norway's forces consider themselves at war and report that they have been instructed to fire if they feel threatened, newspaper VG reports.

"This is a lack of decency from Norwegian politicians," Didrik Coucheron of the BFO (Officers Organization).

On the BFO's web site there is a presentation of e-mails received from Norwegian soldiers serving in Iraq, and the group concludes that their reality has very little in common with how the situation is being presented.

"The mission in Iraq is not a humanitarian one, here war continues, no matter what some politicians have said about the war being over," one soldier wrote.


A sober piece on the lack of response by much of the world to the war that has been foist upon us.

Good piece, read it all.
Unfortunately, this isn't a ghoulish exercise in game theory but an analogy to what has happened over the past few months as the war in Iraq has become more deadly and more international. The logic of uniting to fight a common enemy could not be clearer, yet the political discord continues.

Last weekend it was British bankers and diplomats in Istanbul who were attacked, along with Turks who happened to be nearby. The toll of dead and wounded reached nearly 500. The previous week it was two synagogues in Istanbul, where six Jews and 19 Muslims were killed and more than 300 wounded. The week before, it was 19 Italian troops who were keeping peace in central Iraq; before that, it was a Polish officer in the United Nations-mandated multinational force.

The U.N. headquarters in Baghdad has been bombed twice. The International Committee for the Red Cross has been bombed. It seems the potential target list includes anyone who is trying to help the Iraqi people. And still the international community quarrels or looks the other way...

A traveler in Iraq two months ago could still find Iraqi children in many towns running alongside U.S. military convoys and waving to the soldiers. But someone has recently been spray-painting warnings in Baghdad: "The hand that waves to the soldiers will be cut off."

It's a war, and a diabolically vicious one. And yet the world so far has mostly stood on the sidelines and watched, muttering about how the Bush administration brought the disaster upon itself by invading Iraq in March.

The French, for example, have talked vaguely about helping train Iraqi police, but have done nothing concrete. They insist on transferring sovereignty to Iraq in five weeks, a political timetable that many experts (especially Iraqis) regard as dangerously unrealistic. The more the United States moves toward French proposals, the more standoffish the French become. They won't take "oui" for an answer...

The world needs to look at terrorist roulette for what it is -- a threat to everyone. Historians can debate whether the Bush administration blundered in invading Iraq. But right now, that truly isn't the issue. Tomorrow or the next day, another player in this game will be taken out and shot. The world needs to unite and stop the killers now, and worry about assigning blame later.


The Army's Quartermaster Corps trains soldiers to be Mortuary Affairs specialists.

Here is a story about those soldiers.
"You need to have a very bad short-term memory to do this job," said Pfc. Mark Beals, 22, of Kansas City, Mo., and the 54th Quartermaster Company, based in Fort Lee, Va. "You try to forget about what you saw, you think about what you're going to do tomorrow rather than today."

The newspaper run by Sharon Stone's ex-hubby is considering sending left-leaning actor Sean Penn to Iraq, where he would write a column about life in the battle-scarred land.

San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein, a well-known Penn pal, read the notes the star made during his controversial trip last December to Iraq, where the actor met with that country's deputy prime minister and blasted U.S. policy.

Oh, please.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his top military adviser said Tuesday they have evidence the Arab television news organizations Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya cooperated with Iraqi insurgents to witness and videotape attacks on American troops.

Rumsfeld said the effort fit a pattern of psychological warfare used by remnants of the Baathist government, who want to create the impression that no amount of U.S. firepower can end the insurgency.

"They've called Al-Jazeera to come and watch them do it (attack American troops), and Al-Arabiya," he told a Pentagon news conference. "`Come and see us, watch us; here is what we're going to do.'"

Pressed for details, Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both indicated that U.S. forces in Iraq had collected more than just circumstantial evidence that one or both of the Arab news organizations might have cooperated with the attackers.

Baghdad doesn't feel like a city under siege, says World Editor David Scott, who recently returned from a trip to Baghdad (see story). Traffic is heavy. Businesses are bustling. There's construction going on. But then come the reminders that, for brief moments almost every day, there is conflict.

"A pair of Bradley Fighting Vehicles can be seen occasionally sliding into a traffic rotary, and the goggled machine gunner on top is crouched over his sights, swinging his weapon at this target and that. Or, you'll be eating dinner or breakfast, when a thump, thump, thump can be heard in the distance," says Dave.

But when it comes to spin, facts would seem to be irrelevant to the AP.
A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad told E&P Online Tuesday afternoon that he blames the Associated Press for spreading a sensational, and now disputed, story this week about two U.S. soldiers having their throats slashed and bodies mutilated by an angry mob in Iraq.

The AP story on the incident -- along with similar accounts from other outlets -- drew wide play in newspapers across the country on Monday, before the military jumped in to challenge it later that day.

"Personally, I would fault the AP as a member of the coalition and really as an American citizen," Coalition Spokesperson Sgt. Danny Martin said. "The AP is an American-based media outlet. They have the right to freedom of speech, freedom of press. They pretty much print what they like. I do find it somewhat irresponsible in their journalism that instead of perhaps showing some patience and waiting for the initial military report, that they just went from eyewitness accounts that have proven in just about every instance here to be exaggerated, embellished, or just false."


As set by the Iraqis themselves.

I wonder if M. de Villepin will whine about this one too...
Iraq's interim authority has submitted a timetable for self-rule and asked the UN Security Council for a new resolution that would end the US-led occupation in June...

In a letter to the Security Council on Monday, Jalal Talabani, president of the Iraqi Governing Council, promised to establish the "principle of civilian control over the Iraqi armed and security forces."

The US-appointed council said it would select a "provisional legislative body" no later than May 31 next year, which would elect a provisional government by the end of June.

Then "the Coalition Provisional Authority will be dissolved and the occupation ... will end," Talabani's letter said.

U.S. forces in Iraq say they have arrested the wife and daughter of a top Iraqi fugitive suspected of masterminding attacks against coalition forces. A military spokesman says the wife and daughter of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri were taken into custody Tuesday in the town of Samarra, north of Baghdad.
Mr. al-Douri was a longtime associate of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. He was deputy leader of Iraq's ruling Revolutionary Command Council and reportedly played a key role in cracking down on political dissent and in overseeing Iraq's use of chemical weapons against ethnic kurds in 1988.

The United States has offered a reward of up to $10 million for his capture. He is number six on the 55 most wanted officials from the former Iraqi regime.


Fascinating account of the steps our guys take to deal with the bad guys lobbing mortar rounds in our direction.

Read it all.
“Red Rain! Red Rain! Red Rain!” the first soldier called out, alerting the TOC that the division’s Firefinder radar has detected the launch of a projectile — a mortar perhaps or a surface-to-air missile. Soldiers quickly swung toward their computer screens while others prepared for the information about to flow into the TOC by radio and computer.

“… Three-niner-six. … Impact Three-one-two-seven-eight-five.”

“Target two-zero-zero”

“S-2, not clear.”

Other voices crackled over the radio as troops from other parts of the division’s network called in their part of the mission.

“It’s that same guy that’s firing,” one sergeant said, looking at his computer screen.

“Steel Main, Steel Main …”

The battle captain made eye contact with the operations officer and announced:

“Negative on S-2. Negative on humint (human intelligence). Recommend end of mission.”

November 25, 2003
Release Number: 03-11-43



TIKRIT, Iraq – At approximately 6:45 a.m. on Nov. 25, attackers using mortars fired upon Task Force Ironhorse soldiers guarding a forward operating base. In response to the attack, soldiers fired artillery rounds based on a radar system pinpointing the location used by enemy to mount the mortar attack. The mortars fired against Task Force Ironhorse soldiers were fired in close proximity to residential buildings.

A quick reaction force maneuvered to overtake the attackers and discovered two casualties. One person was found unresponsive and one was wounded. The injured person was treated at the scene and was evacuated to the Balad hospital. The person’s condition is unknown.

Additionally, soldiers responding to the attack captured 24 men found near the location of the attack. Soldiers confiscated two AK-47s, 15 AK-47 magazines, 450 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, one ammunition bandolier, and an aiming stake used to target mortars.

The task force is investigating reports that civilians may have been injured during the course of the artillery counter-fire against the enemy mortar position.

And CPT Patti, my sweet darling wife, has been away from home and hearth for 199 days.

That her spirit seems to remain intact is testament to the goodness from which she is made.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The Iraq Survey Group (ISG) recently discovered a clandestine Iraqi chemical and biological weapons research program that operated right up until the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom in April 2003. Briefing Congress about the discovery, ISG leader Dr. David Kay, a former UN weapons inspector, also discussed the calculated destruction of hundreds of computers and thousands of linear feet of paper documention related to Saddam's WMD programs that contiunued even after the Iraqi military had capitulated as well as Saddam's continued pursuit of ballistic and cruise missiles.

``What struck me was that it was not American soldiers running to the scene and doing things that would control the situation,'' he said. New Iraqi police officers, ``these folks in their blue shirts, were actually controlling the scene. This is actually becoming a working police force.''

That's particularly important to Falkner, a Pinellas County lawyer who's a long way from home these days. In Iraq, he's an Army Reserves colonel working with the U.S. civil affairs operation to bring democratic forms and functions to a former dictatorship.

What bothers him, he said Monday in a telephone interview from Baghdad, is that he thinks few Americans see what he sees through the daily violence of postwar Iraq.

``Why are we focusing on the vehicle that blew up outside the building when there are ... buildings being constructed, water lines being built, people's lives being improved?'' he asked.

A friend recently reminded me that newspapers' jobs are not to keep you informed...newspapers jobs are to sell newspapers.

And it seems that stories of progress don't sell newspapers...

Keep that in mind as you read the gloom and doom coverage.
Today, he said, freedom is spreading across Iraq, and the rebuilding effort is well under way.

"Today, there is more electricity throughout Iraq than there was under Saddam's regime," he said.

Kerik said if you ask 10 Iraqis today if they know someone who has been the victim of a violent crime, three or four might answer yes.

"Pre-Saddam, if you'd asked 10 people, all 10 would say, 'Me,' " he said.

Though enemies have tried to dismantle his resolve, the President continues in the same vein. There is no turning back. There is no abandonment of the millions of Iraqis set free. Though other countries such as France, Germany and Russia have done little but carp, US-led coalition keeps on keeping on. Though US Democrats have done little but complain, US-led coalition keeps on keeping on.

The same is evidenced in New Iraq in the latter part of November. Overseeing the attacks against neighborhood enemies in particular is 1st Armored Division Brig. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. He summed up his efforts by stating to media: "What I want to make sure the enemy knows is that there is no sanctuary in Baghdad."

It’s called Iron Hammer. It means business. It’s calculated with state of the art analysis and precision. It’s combing the areas, going after specific terrorists, then hammering them out of hiding or out of existence altogether.

The result: "Enemy attacks against the coalition in and around Baghdad have dropped by 70 percent since Operation Iron Hammer began November 12," according to John D. Banusiewicz, reporter, American Forces Press Service.


The Army cooks never take a day off. And every Thanksgiving - especially when deployed, they pull out all the stops.

Most units are even able to access a special pot of money to buy special table cloths and other decor just for this most American of holidays.

If you have a soldier can bet they will eat every bit as well as you will on Thanksgiving day.
As soon as the supplies arrive, Army cooks will be helping to put the finishing touches on the Thanksgiving feast by putting up decorations, setting up tables, assisting the chefs and using their culinary skills to erect sculptures out of chocolate and ice.

The Thanksgiving Day dinner will be available for all soldiers working in the 82nd Airborne area of operations, Sumler said.

With the extra surprises planned, as well as the extra effort being put forth by Army cooks, Sumler said he hopes it will allow soldiers to forget about their current situation for a short while.

“You take a moment, five minutes, an hour, a day, to realize what you are thankful for, make the soldiers feel like they are back home, and be thankful for what they have,” said Sumler.

“The goal is to take care of the Soldiers,” Sumler said. “A lot of planning has gone into this, and the chain of command has given us all of their support.”
"While I was home on emergency leave, I was again upset at the footage I saw on our TV, in that the people back home don't get the whole picture of what it is like here in Iraq," he wrote.

"I had no idea the fear that most Iraqis had lived in before we arrived here. You can't see that on TV. Or the most scenic views with waterfalls and riverside cafes, you don't see that on TV. The tight family groups that want to reach out and tell you they are Christian and (want) not to have to be so afraid, you don't see that on TV. Some of the translators we hired were the best examples of that, especially when I was able to sit down and talk to them about things they have been through," said Bongard.

"Some people back home may think it is about oil or weapons of mass destruction or simply that we shouldn't have gotten involved," he said.

"I can tell you that after four days of being in a neighborhood and seeing the way some Iraqis live, none of that really matters and I have been grateful to be helping them. Little things we take for granted, such as sewage systems right in the street. Kids not going to school because they are one of eight or nine children and they have to work. Most families live off of 20 to 30 American dollars a month," Bongard said.

"It was very interesting to see soldiers from all different backgrounds try to help grow these cities and conduct different aspects of business. I've seen artillery, infantry, armored cavalry officers running different committees on city funding, budgeting, marketing and banking," he said.

"I've seen non-commissioned officers who are computer programmers and firefighters back home run banking and commerce groups. I've seen college students run education groups and power workers get transportation companies off the ground. The list goes on. It has been a great effort to make this place a wonderful country," added Bongard.

It may seem an odd way to thank U.S. servicemen in Iraq, but a truckload of instant oatmeal is on its way to Sergeant First Class John Burke and others.

His father, Dennis Burke of Norwich, acknowledged the unusual nature of the gift as he loaded 27 cases of instant oatmeal into the back of his pickup truck.

Burke is serving with the Connecticut National Guard's 248th Engineering Company based in Norwich and asked for the oatmeal in a phone call home a few weeks ago.

Stop and Shop supermarket donated $500 of instant oatmeal, or 27 cases that account for 324 boxes.

The shipment heads to Iraq in about three weeks.

Defense Contractor Guy has contacts around the world. In response to yesterday's story about how life is so bad for Iraqi donkeys he sends this supporting evidence.

Thanks Dave
Iraqis call it the Baghdad Boil or Black Fever - and it's attacking American soldiers.

In its most virulent form, the rare parasitic disease, known officially as Visceral Leishmaniasis, or VL, infects the kidneys and spleen and is usually fatal if left untreated.

A milder form leaves ugly lesions on the skin that can lead to permanent scarring...

With the mild form of the disease, multiple sores typically form on the legs, arms or face several weeks after the victim is bitten by an infected sand fly. Those sores can persist for years if not treated and eventually form scabs that leave ugly scars.

Those struck by the virulent form typically experience high fever, weight loss and an enlarged spleen and liver. Soldiers with confirmed cases are being shipped to Walter Reed Medical Center, where they are treated for at least three weeks with intravenous drugs.


Beware reporting by those who so desperately want to equate Iraq with Somalia or Vietnam. The tend to get it wrong.

Confusion swirled Monday as a U.S. military official retracted his earlier report that the throats of two U.S. soldiers had been slashed during an attack on Sunday in the northern city of Mosul.

The official, who said he was receiving his information from written military reports, said the two soldiers had died of gunshot wounds to the head, and that their bodies had been pulled from their car by Iraqis and robbed of their personal belongings. He said that, contrary to some news service accounts Sunday from Mosul, the bodies of the men had not been mutilated or pummeled with rocks.

The gruesome initial accounts had been seized upon by cable news channels and tabloid newspapers as a virtual replay of the 1993 attack in which the bodies of U.S. soldiers were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia. That attack, popularized in the movie "Blackhawk Down," was seen as one of the principal reasons the United States quit its military operation intended to bring order to the Somali capital.

In Monday's account, the military official said the victims, both soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division, were not set upon by a mob but were shot by unidentified gunmen who stopped their car in front of the Americans' car, forcing it to halt. The assailants got out and fired at the Americans through the windshield.

Another Army truism here applies: Initial reports are always wrong.

And how far wrong tends to be a function of just how sensational such reports are. Consider how wrong the initial reports of PFC Lynch's combat heroics were.

Interesting analysis...reminds me of some of the required reading at Command and General Staff College.

Read is insightful.
An insurgency requires several elements to succeed. Chief among those requirements are popular support, then money, weapons, and finally a safe haven to hide and train, and to plan the insurgent campaign. In all areas except arms, the Baathist insurgency is either weak or possesses limited resources.

A review of the President's speech at Whitehall in Great Britain.

It seems the Brits were impressed.

Me too.
The president broke with decades of American foreign policy in declaring, "As recent history has shown, we cannot turn a blind eye to oppression just because the oppression is not in our own backyard. No longer should we think tyranny is benign because it is temporarily convenient. Tyranny is never benign to its victims, and our great democracies should oppose tyranny wherever it is found."


Let's hope this shortage quickly disappears.
The fund used to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure has temporarily run dry, creating an embarrassing setback for U.S. troops overseeing it.

"It is a tough pill to swallow," Col. Ralph Baker, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Armored Division, told USA Today. "One of the hardest things I deal with right now is coming face to face with the (Iraqi) contractors who we still owe money."...

"Money is our ammo," says Col. Joseph Anderson, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul. "We had many plans based on good faith, and people expect results. We are now having to explain why we can't follow through."


Meet this Army Captain up close.
Prior chairs the neighborhood council, mediating disputes and otherwise trying to convince locals, through his words and deeds, that the occupying Americans have their best interests at heart.

"Some people are just born to do something," he told the magazine, adding that he loves Army life.

"The sappy reasons people say they're in the military -- those are the reasons I'm in," he said. "When the Peace Corps can't quite get it done and diplomacy fails and McDonald's can't build enough franchises to win Baghdad over, that's when the military comes in."


On a couple of fronts. Its great that they have turned their attention away from our soldiers...but the fact they have to change tactics is even better - proving their previous efforts did not achieve what they were hoping.
Attacks on American troops in Iraq have declined in the last two weeks and insurgents are increasingly targeting Iraqis working with the U.S.-led coalition in an effort to intimidate them, the top U.S. civilian and military leaders here said Tuesday.

L. Paul Bremer III said the insurgents' recent attacks on the coalition itself were not having the desired effect, so they were turning to the Iraqis who help occupation forces.

"The security situation has changed," Bremer said at a press conference with Gen. John Abizaid, the chief of the U.S. Central Command.

"They have failed to intimidate the coalition," he said. "They have now begun a pattern of trying to intimidate innocent Iraqis. They will not succeed...If Saddam taught the Iraqis nothing else it was how to endure the depredations of thugs."

November 24, 2003
Release Number: 03-11-41



AL FALLUJAH, Iraq—Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 16th Mechanized Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, attached to 82nd Airborne Division, killed three enemy personnel emplacing an improvised explosive device last night at approximately 8:30 p.m.

The soldiers were conducting a patrol along the intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 10 when they observed two individuals digging a hole in the median. A sedan arrived shortly after. Three personnel exited the car and began walking towards the two individuals digging. One of the individuals from the sedan was carrying a large object to the hole.

The observing troops determined that the individuals were emplacing an IED and initiated direct fire.

Three of the personnel were killed. One of the individuals fled to the north with the unknown object, while another escaped to the south.

Soldiers immediately contacted the local police force. They arrived at the scene and took possession of the vehicles and bodies. No Coalition soldiers were injured in this incident.

November 25, 2003
Release Number: 03-11-42



TIKRIT, Iraq – 4th Infantry Division also known as “Task Force Ironhorse” has over the past 24 hours, conducted 199 patrols, seven raids and captured 18 individuals.

One of those captured was wanted for anti-coalition activity. Thirty-three of the patrols were joint operations conducted with the Iraqi Police, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the Border Guard in an effort to continually improve the safety and standard of living for the Iraqi people.

Weapons and equipment confiscated in raids and patrols throughout the Task Force Ironhorse area of operation include (17) AK-47 assault rifles, one machine gun, (11) rifles, one pistol, three rocket propelled grenade launchers, (24) rocket propelled grenades, (53) grenades, (50) blasting caps, 6 containers of artillery propellant, (60) 120mm and (250) 60mm mortar rounds, (10) blocks of C4 explosives, (10) sticks of TNT, (50) mortar fuses, (40) spools of wire, used to detonate improvised explosive devices and five improvised explosive devices.


CPT Patti has had no opportunity to shop anywhere but the little tiny PX in Baghdad for 198 days.

Me, last night I went to Sam's club to shop, its as big as Baghdad, with 198 aisles.

The land of plenty, indeed.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Jurors decided Monday that John Allen Muhammad should be executed for masterminding the deadly sniper attacks that terrorized the Washington area for three weeks last fall.

And now we are the producers of Turkey and Gravy flavored soda...
In the latest food fad to emerge in the United States, Seattle specialty soda maker Jones Soda Co. scored a hit this week with the introduction of a limited batch of Turkey & Gravy-flavored soda.

The tan-colored soda sold out in just three hours after an initial batch was put up for sale on the company's Web site Friday, a spokeswoman for the company said...

This isn't the company's first experiment in exotic carbonation. Fish tacos and ham flavors have also been offered as promotional soda flavors.

© Copyright 2003
In the end, after the secret investigations, the middle-of-the-night arrests, the obsequious genuflections to Saddam Hussein, a common passion drove these members of Iraq's Baath Party to excel at their special occupation.

It was all about the money.

Just as soon as any of them apprehended a malefactor and saw to his execution, or immediately after rounding up an army deserter, amputating his ears and arranging to have food rations denied to his family, Baath Party functionaries filled out forms in triplicate, then forwarded them to headquarters with a note asking: please send my bonus.


Reuters and MSNBC actually have filed this report on the internet...noting that life is now worse for donkeys in Baghdad...

Somewhere I hope some school of journalism is revoking a diploma...
Life worsens for Iraqi donkeys under U.S. suspicion

By Michael Georgy

BAGHDAD, Nov. 24 — Since guerrillas used donkeys to outwit the high-tech defences of the U.S. military in Iraq, the life of the beast of burden has never been so miserable.

Attackers used donkey carts to launch Katyusha rockets at the Oil Ministry and two fortified Baghdad hotels on Friday. Two other donkey carts were stopped -- one carrying more rockets, the other a donkey-bomb wired up with explosives.

Every donkey in Baghdad is suddenly under suspicion as U.S. President George W. Bush wages a global war on terror.

In a crackdown on an animal that already suffers multiple daily whippings, U.S. soldiers with automatic rifles regularly stop and search donkey carts for weapons.


We've discussed this type issue here before. It centers on Al Jezeera and Al Arabiya being used by Saddam as his mouthpiece.

He puts together a tape calling for Iraqis to murder coalition troops...but it is never broadcast anywhere except on these so-called news networks. Effectively that makes them his mouthpiece, and makes them complicit in the crimes committed in his name. By broadcasting these tapes when there is no other outlet for them, these networks cross the line from reporting news to creating news.

And in my mind that act removes them from any legitimate claim of protection under "freedom of the press".

As Paul Harvey says, self government cannot work without self-discipline.

Iraqi police shut down the Baghdad offices of Dubai-based Al Arabiya on Monday, and the country's Governing Council said legal action would be taken against the Arabic satellite channel for inciting violence.

''We're going to open a court case against Al Arabiya...because it...disseminates Saddam's propaganda,'' Jalal Talabani, who currently holds the rotating presidency of the Governing Council, told reporters.

''Al Arabiya broadcast in Saddam's voice an invitation to kill members of the Governing Council. Saddam in our eyes is a criminal, a torturer, a war criminal, and whoever disseminates for him exposes himself to legal punishment,'' he added.

The channel has broadcast several audio tapes purportedly from Saddam Hussein, calling on Iraqis to drive out occupying troops and attack U.S.-led forces.
“It’s finally getting to the point where it’s becoming a fair system,” said Maj. Scott Fuller, a National guardsman from the 156th Military Police Company detachment from Logan, W.Va., and assigned to the 503rd MP battalion of the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade.

He and Staff Sgt. Rick Nottingham, battalion liaisons at the jail, are working with Mosul judicial officials to establish a system that makes sure suspects go before a judge within 24 hours of arrest.

Under the old system, suspects remained jailed without a bond hearing while investigators gathered information.

“It was a mess,” said Fuller, 42, from Huntington, W.Va. “If they found out someone was not guilty during the course of the investigation, that person spent three to four months in jail when they could’ve been sitting at home.”


CPT Patti has been serving our nation for 197 days in Iraq.

Me, I just finished painting my brother's kitchen. It is service on a lesser scale.

Sunday, November 23, 2003


That would be Christians and Jews especially...according to Jonah Goldberg.
The Western press suggested al Qaeda was simply confused and thought Americans lived in that foreign worker compound. That always struck me is as unlikely considering how good Qaeda intelligence must be inside Saudi Arabia.

It turns out the attacks killed mostly Lebanese Christians. Marshall makes the case that the press often obscures these distinctions behind phrases like "Arabs and Muslims were killed" which includes Christian Arabs.

For example that suicide attack at Maxim's in Israel did kill Arabs, but Catholic Arabs. The point is that al Qaeda has declared war against "infidels" which includes all Christians, Jews and many secular Muslims.
Even as Meyer’s attention is focused on the war effort, he finds time to keep tabs on his favorite professional football team: the Green Bay Packers.

Meyer, whose parents, Donald and Hanayo Meyer, live in Neenah, is among a number of Packers fans serving in Iraq who have held tailgate parties and watched games on satellite television this season. Games that are televised at noon in Wisconsin air at 9 p.m. in Iraq.

“Ever since I was a kid, I have always loved to watch the Packers play,” Meyer said via e-mail from Iraq. “As for us Packer backers, we usually try to watch the games on satellite TV. If we cannot watch the game, we get the highlights and score off the Internet.”


Since April, the military says, at least 17 Americans -- 15 Army soldiers and two Marines -- have taken their own lives in Iraq. The true number is almost certainly higher.

Emphasis added.

Note how the Associated Press just assumes, and apparently believes you will assume, the Army is handing out false information?

We are not the enemy here...but it seems the AP needs reminding.

Then apparently you've missed just another opportunity to blame America first.
By leaning on Turkey to be more of a help in Iraq, the United States inadvertently may have helped to nudge its Muslim NATO ally into the cross hairs of Islamic militants.

Many experts say the United States bears some blame for the circumstance in which Turkey now finds itself: targeted by Al Qaeda and other groups bent on destabilizing the country.

This is the continued liberal drivel of the theme that America is the root of all evil and if the big bad Americans would shut up and go home, the world will be safe again.

But of course, it won't. And shame on the so-called "experts" for attempting to blame Freedom's Beacon for the acts of the evil and depraved.

Shame on them.


But they don't fall down...
Germany is open to forgiving some of Iraq's massive foreign debt to help the country's chances of economic recovery, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in remarks published Saturday that signaled an easing of Germany's stand...

"The immediate issue in the Paris Club is debt rescheduling," Schroeder told Der Spiegel. "We'll see what else is needed. I don't want to rule out a partial debt write-off."


They, once occupied by Saddam's forces, give the thumbs up for American led change in the region.
In this room, America and democracy come to dominate conversation. Isn't America too pushy in the Middle East? Not pushy enough, says Abdullah Abdurahman al-Taweel, the minister of commerce. ''If Iraq becomes a liberal democracy with a functioning civil society, it will have a major effect throughout the area,'' he says. Ask the Syrians, he adds. ''They're scared witless.''

Home sends Christmas to them.
Surrounded at the U.S. Army Reserve Center by donated gifts of everything from DVDs to animal crackers, Jennifer Stegeman was moved to tears. "It's warmed my heart," said Stegeman, who with the help of a local business group, Saco Spirit, organized the donations to be shipped to the 94th Military Police Company, which has a platoon based here.

Stegeman, who lives in Dayton, said she realized that something special had to be done for the troops in Iraq once their families realized they wouldn't be home for Christmas.

By the way...the 2nd Graders in Cedar Rapids finished the stockings for CPT Patti and her Gators...and they also collected some 61 pounds of candy and goodies to stuff the stockings with.

God bless the little ones...and teacher Roberta for leading them on this expedition of giving.
In his House office closet, Tiahrt has about 12 boxes of gear donated by Major League Baseball, youth leagues and equipment manufacturers. His plan is to get them overseas on flights used for congressional visits to the Iraq region.

He hopes that the equipment will eventually go to youth leagues in Iraq.

Tiahrt said that when he was visiting Iraq in September, he met with an Iraqi official interested in jump-starting baseball in Iraq. Baseball "could be part of the westernization of Iraq," he said.

Coalition forces in Iraq have at least 307 suspected foreign fighters in detention, mainly Syrians and Iranians, a US military official said yesterday.

"Two days ago the number was 307," the official said, listing 140 Syrians, 70 Iranians and small numbers from Yemen, Chad, Saudi Arabia and the West Bank.

Sgt. White: "When you get into my Humvee as turret gunner, what's your primary job, Smith?!"

Pvt. Smith: "My job as your turret gunner is to be a target, sir!"

White: "And what's your job once we start rolling down the road, Smith?"

Smith: "Then my job is to be a moving target, sir!"

White: "And what will I have to do if I ever get shot, Smith?"

Smith: "Sir, if you ever get shot, you're going to have to shoot me in the a--, sir!"

White: "And why am I going to shoot you in the a--, Smith?"

Smith: "Because I will have failed to do my job as a target, sir!"

Go read the entire article.
A missile struck a DHL cargo jet yesterday as it took off from Baghdad airport, the first time Iraqi guerrillas have hit an airplane. The plane made an emergency landing at the airport and its three crew members escaped unharmed.
The U.S. European Command has shifted roughly 600 specially armored Humvees to Iraq, where they will be used to fill a shortage of the urgently needed vehicles, according to a Pentagon spokesman...

The shift is part of a plan to get nearly 3,000 of the specially outfitted Humvees to Iraq, where they can protect U.S. troops from insurgents using conventional firearms, improvised bombs and grenades that can cripple a regular Humvee.

Of the roughly 120 U.S. combat-related deaths in Iraq since May 1, about 30 were the result of attacks on vehicles either by a bomb or small-arms fire...

An armored Humvee has a 2-inch-thick windshield and windows and a metal-composite skin that can stop bullets. The underside, front and rear are also reinforced for protection against mines and grenades.

According to the company that produces the armored Humvee, American Motors General, the idea is that, although the vehicle may be destroyed, the occupants would survive the attack.


And his match is wicked.
“The Mad Mortarman” is the nickname some in his unit use for the faceless Iraqi insurgents who have been keeping a steady routine of hit-and-run attacks on the U.S.-led coalition here.

U.S. brass grew so fed up with the attacks that they moved to discourage them by launching Operation Iron Hammer on Nov. 12. They try to learn where the attackers are, then hit them on the spot with artillery, airstrikes, ground troops or some combination of means.

Ritacca operates a radar called the Firefinder, which can do something that might well astonish veterans of Vietnam or earlier wars: It can detect the firing of an enemy mortar, rocket or artillery round, pinpoint its map location, predict where it will land, and even offer a guess as to what type of weapon is involved, all within mere seconds.

November 23, 2003
Release Number: 03-11-38



ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq – Iraqi civilians warned personnel from the Iraqi Railroad of an improvised explosive device placed on the tracks near Iskandariyah early this morning. The Iraqis flagged down the train to show them exactly where it was located.

The IED was made from three 155mm artillery rounds, all linked together. An explosive ordnance disposal team, attached to the 82nd Airborne Division, arrived at the scene and disarmed the IED. The rail line reopened at approximately 1:00 p.m.

Assistance between the people of the Al Anbar Province and the 82nd Airborne Divsion is increasing each day. The Iraqis’ cooperation with coalition forces is helping the continued effort to turn Iraq into a democratic country.

November 23, 2003
Release Number: 03-11-39



TIKRIT, IRAQ— In two separate incidents, car bombs were detonated near police stations in Ba’Qubah and Kahnbanisad Nov 22.

Initial reports indicate that seven Iraqi police officers and two civilians were killed and 20 people were wounded in the 8:10 a.m. explosion in Ba’qubah. In the other incident, six police officers and three civilians, including a four-year-old girl, were killed and 10 were wounded in the 8:30 a.m. explosion in Kahnbanisad. Three police officers are still missing in Ba’qubah. No Coalition soldiers were injured.

Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commanding general of the 4th Infantry Division and Task Force Ironhorse, expressed his deepest condolences to the families and friends of the murdered police officers and civilians and voiced his outrage, calling the attack a “criminal act.” “The people responsible for this Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence have no regard for innocent lives,” Odierno said. “The families of the police officers killed, along with tens of thousands of other police officers who have taken an oath to bring security and stability to Iraq can take solace in the fact that because of their sacrifice, Iraq will know peaceful freedom and enduring democracy.”


CPT Patti has been deployed for 196 days.

I've been in the states a couple of days now...and find there are so many distractions that I'm losing touch with the situation in Iraq.

And I've got a wife there.

How out of touch must most people be?