Saturday, January 03, 2004


Question: When was the last time your church stored gunpowder, TNT and mortars out of sight of the authorities...

Mosque - right... I'd say a better term is "armory".

Doesn't matter...most of them will get indignant anyway.
US soldiers seized a large cache of weapons when they raided a mosque in southwestern Baghdad on Thursday and arrested a number of people, the coalition's deputy director of operations, Brigadier General Mark Kimmit, said on Friday.

Three packages of TNT explosives, a 60 mm mortar tube, eight improvised grenades, bomb-making equipment and two bags of gunpowder were recovered in the raid, he told reporters.

Kimmit said 32 people were arrested in the raid on the mosque, which he said was believed to have been used for "terror activities".


One Member of Parliament (MP = Congressman) from Britain's Labor Party who signed up for a mission lets his true elitist colors shine through.
It was trailed (hailed) as a "unique chance to rewrite the law of the land". Listeners to BBC Radio 4's Today programme were asked to suggest a piece of legislation to improve life in Britain, with the promise that an MP would then attempt to get it onto the statute books.

But yesterday, 26,000 votes later, the winning proposal was denounced as a "ludicrous, brutal, unworkable blood-stained piece of legislation" - by Stephen Pound, the very MP whose job it is to try to push it through Parliament.

Mr Pound's reaction was provoked by the news that the winner of Today's "Listeners' Law" poll was a plan to allow homeowners "to use any means to defend their home from intruders" - a prospect that could see householders free to kill burglars, without question.

"The people have spoken," the Labour MP replied to the programme, "... the bastards."

If they were "bastards" when they voted this...were the same folks "bastards" when they elected you?

My guess is probably...

Right, Minister?
In a move that U.S. commanders hope will push more day-to-day peacekeeping responsibilities over to Iraqis themselves, the Army is organizing raids to hunt down terrorists using overwhelming numbers of local paramilitary troops.

On Monday, about 35 members of the Florida National Guard provided security and intelligence for an operation into Baghdad conducted by about 80 members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps...

“This is a complete role reversal,” said Capt. Rodney Sanchez, commander of Company A, 3rd Battalion, 124th Infantry of the Florida National Guard. Typically, the number of Iraqis would mirror the number of Americans on such a mission. Ramping up the participation of Iraqis essentially doubled the captain’s forces...

Soon the men marched and the black sky shuddered with the sound of helicopter rotors. The Americans kept to the perimeter; the Iraqis massed along the street. Drivers stared. It was not a stealth operation.

Soon it began and the Iraqis used bolt cutters to open a gate. Inside, the Iraqis and U.S. troops found apartment dwellers armed like the Republican Guard. Everyone had an AK-47. This, it turned out, is actually normal.

Sanchez asked one harried man, apparently a building manager, about one of the guns. It’s for security, the man replied. Each household had only the number of weapons permitted.

Sanchez asked the Iraqis to ease up on kicking in doors.


Day 236 of CPT Patti's experiment in liberation, despot elimination and democracy creation.

Me...I'm just happy to be documenting the whole thing.

Friday, January 02, 2004


You think stuff like this won't pay dividends in the future?

CPT Elizabeth Scioletti attached to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) talks with a group of orphaned Iraqi children as other soldiers prepare to give out school supplies and gifts from soldiers and American sponsors. The soldiers visited two locations in Mosul.

Photo courtesy of Army Knowledge Online

Ironic, is it not...the one man in all of France trying to tell the truth is fired from his newspaper for it.

I know where my loss of confidence is directed...
Reporter Alain Hertoghe's book accused the French press of not being objective in its coverage of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. His newspaper fired him.

The book, ''La Guerre a Outrances'' (The War of Outrages), criticizes the French reporting for continually predicting the war would end badly for the U.S.-led coalition.

''Readers can't understand why the Americans won the war,'' Hertoghe said in a telephone interview. ''The French press wasn't neutral.''

The book, published Oct. 15, charges French reporters were more patriotic than journalistic and what was written amounted to disinformation.

It examines daily coverage by five major French dailies, including Hertoghe's own La Croix, in the three weeks from the first strikes on Baghdad on March 20 to April 9 when Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s regime fell.

"As soon as there were a couple of wounded, of dead, they were talking about Vietnam, Stalingrad,'' Hertoghe said.

In contrast, work by journalists traveling with U.S. troops indicated that ''the war was advancing well,'' he said.

Hertoghe, a 44-year-old Belgian, said reporters reflected the emotional high in France more than realities on the battlefield, becoming caught up in France's central role in leading the opposition to the war at the United Nations (news - web sites).

''The French public was so carried away,'' he said. The journalists, he wrote in the book, ''dreamed of an American defeat.''...

Over three weeks, the five papers carried 29 headlines condemning Saddam's dictatorship and 135 blaming Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites).

Hertoghe was fired on Dec.15 for a ''loss of confidence'' following publication of the book. La Croix, in a letter, cited four points, including damaging the newspaper's reputation, Hertoghe said.


Not resting on its laurels, the Army revamps itself, beginning with the 3d ID.
The 3rd will be the first of the Army's 10 active duty divisions to reorganize its primary fighting forces, the brigade combat teams, into smaller, more mobile units that are expected to retain their firepower and lethality.

But in order to do that, said Maj. Gen. Glenn Webster, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, "we've got to break some china."

That means the Army will have to set aside many of its conventional theories and practices, and many long-held traditions. It will also have to work more closely with the other services, relying heavily on the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy to do jobs it once did...

Actual reorganization for the 3rd Division will begin Jan. 15 with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, the unit that led the Army into Baghdad last April.

During the war the 2nd Brigade had about 5,000 soldiers in two armor battalions and one mechanized infantry battalion. The division's other two brigades were combinations of armor and mechanized infantry battalions.

Under the reorganization, said Webster, each brigade will have only one armor and one mechanized infantry battalion. But each will add engineer and artillery battalions and will have other assets such as intelligence, communications and transportation permanently assigned to it.

Brigades normally add these assets when they go to war in what the Army refers to as "task organization." When they return to their home posts, these assets go back to their own units.

The new plan has the brigades being permanently task-organized so they regularly train with additional assets in place.

"These brigades will now be able to operate independently or semi-independently out on the battlefield," said Webster.


Fascinating story about a deadly business.
"You don't think about it," said Specialist Wilson, 24, of Muncie, Ind., speaking at an austere base camp near here after a late-afternoon mission. "You just think about the lives of the guys to your left and right."

Sergeant Davis nodded in agreement: "As soon as they picked up a weapon and tried to engage U.S. soldiers, they forfeited all their rights to life, is how I look at it."

America's self-interested largess shaped, as nothing else could have, today's world — which now faces the threat of religious fascism as the most recent permutation of tyranny. However, there is a real probability success in Iraq will signal the decline, for a century or more, of tyranny's quest to engulf humanity.

Disingenuous and facile people always point to war as the ultimate evil. This position is intellectually bankrupt and is one of the main reasons why tyranny repeatedly reconstitutes itself to threaten liberty...

In the end, we win the war on terror wherever and however it is fought by killing those who violently oppose us wherever and whenever we can find them. More importantly, we win by making sure our words of resolve are supported by our actions and that the Iraqis and others get the message...

The Bush administration's actions so far show it is committed to securing clear victory over the tyranny we now face. The Democrat Party's candidates, in the aggregate, are "AWOL."

A very good read by a very smart man.
For weeks Basam Faras has been selling cellphones and collecting $100 deposits, promising hundreds of eager, middle-class customers that they soon would have service. But like most Iraqis, the electronics store owner really had no idea when Iraq would be connected.

That changed Monday when Iraqi officials said cellphone service would begin immediately with a one-week test in Baghdad and then extend across Iraq after New Year's. Cellular phone service only is available now to the U.S. military and the Iraqi government.

The downside to this is that the bad guys get to use the cell system too...which might improve their efficiency...

But how many in the Arab world are listening?
Had he fallen into the hands of Iraqis his fate would almost certainly have been the same as that of the Iraqi royal family in 1958, or of Nuri Al-Said and Abdul- Karim Qasim -- people whose mistakes are nothing compared to those of Saddam. He would have ended as a mutilated corpse...

Some Arabs saw Saddam's capture as an intentional insult to all Arabs and Muslims. Such a view implicitly assumes that Saddam was a symbol for Arabs and Muslims, that he was a legitimate leader supported by a majority of his own people, and that he was promoting the aspirations and goals of Iraqis and Arabs. But he wasn't. Saddam was never a role model or symbol for Arabs and Muslims. He never had any real legitimacy...

The real insult, beneath which we should all smart, unfolded well before Saddam's capture. It has to do with the political and social conditions prevalent in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world, conditions that allowed someone like Saddam to become vice president in 1968, then bloodily usurp the presidency in 1979. These conditions allowed Saddam, after assuming power, to make decisions that proved catastrophic for Iraq and all Arabs. He single-handedly turned Iraq from a leading Arab country to one of the poorest and most indebted...

What is humiliating is not Saddam's capture in 2003, but his remaining in power from 1979 to 2003. What is humiliating is that Arabs -- including intellectuals and writers, the supposed conscience of the nation -- accepted and applauded him. What is humiliating is that the Americans and British ended Saddam's regime and captured him while promoting their own interests and objectives. This was something that we, Arabs and Iraqis, should have done had we wanted to defend our dignity and interests.

Another Iraqi patient arrives. An accompanying soldier from the 1st Armored Division briefs the surgeons in the resuscitation room as other medics prepare the operating room.

“He apparently was running away from the scene of a car bomb when the car exploded.’’

Shrapnel wounds covered the patient’s naked body. Within seconds, a portable X-ray machine scanned the Iraqi’s bloodied chest while a nurse attached an IV drip. The surgeons washed their hands, a medic slipped a ventilator into the Iraqi’s mouth, and yet another medic read out blood pressure numbers: “110 over 65 and dropping.”

The surgical team responded to the frenzy methodically, knowing exactly what to do and when to do it.

And, even if they thought it, no one questioned aloud whether this Iraqi individual — now precariously balanced between life and death and in the best care the U.S. Army could offer — was either an innocent victim of a car bomb, or, himself, the insurgent who planted the bomb hit by his own evil deed.

For the men and women of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment Forward Surgical Team, those questions don’t matter.


1AD Commander describes operation Iron Grip.
The general briefed reporters on Operation Iron Grip, the ongoing division effort against cells of Saddam Hussein regime loyalists. The primary targets are the former regime cell structure.

Intelligence gleaned from Saddam's capture told the division that 14 cells operate in the city, linked by a financial and planning network. Operation Iron Grip is aimed at disrupting and ultimately destroying the cells and the network.

The division has captured 185 enemy personnel as part of Iron Grip.
In preparation for ending its occupation of Iraq, the United States is making plans to create the largest U.S. diplomatic mission in the world in Baghdad, with a staff of more than 3,000, according to The Washington Post.

The transition would mark the hand-over of responsibility for dealing with Iraq from the Pentagon to the State Department, which will then help oversee the next steps in creating Iraq's first freely elected democratic government.


The Marines are ready.
Members of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines said Tuesday that learning they may be heading back to Iraq, even though they just arrived on Okinawa for a Unit Deployment Program stint, doesn’t worry them.

The unit — which calls Camp Pendleton, Calif., home — arrived on Okinawa just more than a week ago but may not stay long. Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Dan McSweeney said there are “strong indications” the unit, with two others, may head to Iraq between February and April.
The war in Iraq has put on hold at least one major V Corps move affecting about 300 military slots.

The 421st Medical Evacuation Battalion Headquarters is staying put in Wiesbaden — 1st Armored Division headquarters — possibly through mid-2005, said Bill Roche, a spokesman at V Corps headquarters in Heidelberg...

The 421st headquarters and one of its companies — the 159th Air Ambulance — were scheduled to move to Katterbach Army Air Field near Ansbach from Wiesbaden Army Airfield in west-central Germany. A second 421st company, the 557th Ground Ambulance Company, was to move to Barton Barracks in Ansbach from Wiesbaden airfield.


Our guys respond.

Eight Iraqis dead...35 wounded. No US Forces even touched.

This is not "resistance". This is terror. This is evil.

What Ratledge would see over the next few hours appalled him. But he knew he’d need to keep calm, stay focused, and let his training take over.

Sections of wall and ceiling had caved in. A steel beam hung exposed. Dining tables and chairs lay upturned. A wall clock hung aslant, its hands motionless at 9:18.

“We started digging,” said Ratledge.

One of the victims was just inside the break in the wall on the blast side of the building. It was an Iraqi woman in a Muslim head scarf, buried chest high in rubble.

A few feet over, a man sat slumped and lifeless like a broken department store mannequin, a gash across the top of his head.

“He was gone,” Ratledge said.

“I checked her,” he said of the Iraqi woman. “She had a pulse.”

Troops and Iraqi rescue workers started pulling away chunks of masonry and other debris.

“I kept my head together,” said Ratledge. “Let them know she was still alive – so they could keep digging.

“But you take into consideration that the rubble is on top of her and that’s what’s keeping her alive,” said Ratledge. “They take the rest of it off her and that’s when her pulse started weakening.”

The woman died, but the rescuers in that corner of the restaurant kept digging, looking for victims.

Iraqis line up outside the gates of Range 54 daily, ready to hand over weapons in exchange for cash.

Just don’t call it a weapons buy-back program.

Under coalition guidelines, a weapons buy-back program is not allowed, said Lt. Col. Hank Arnold, commander for the camp’s 2nd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.

“What we call it is a ‘weapons reward program,’ for guys that turn in caches,” said Arnold, 39, from Pensacola, Fla. “We can’t give you $20 per RPG [rocket-propelled grenade]; that’s a weapons buy-back program. What we can do is give you a reward for locating and helping us … find a cache.”

So nearby villagers collect a bunch of weapons that qualifies as a cache. About 40 Iraqis a week turn in loads of weapons to the camp in northern Iraq; half of them are members of the Coalition for Iraqi National Unity (CINU), said Capt. Jeff Csoka, assistant operations officer.

The group, which says its purpose is to promote peace and unity among tribes and coalition forces, scours the area for weapons, Csoka said...

“Personally, I think it’s a wrong idea to say we’re not going to buy back weapons,” Arnold said. “The argument from the big guys is, ‘Well, if we start buying weapons, then we become part of the weapons market and people smuggle them in just to turn them into us for money.’”

But Arnold said, “Hey, they’re smuggling them anyway. I would much rather get an RPG rocket given to me that I bought for $20 with the safety pin in the nose than have the son of a bitch fly at me 300 feet per second with the safety pin out.”


MOSUL, Iraq – Soldiers of the 801st Main Support Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), spent Tuesday afternoon at the Al Busaif Primary School presenting the school’s bright-eyed students with shoes for their feet and supplies for their minds. By the end of the day, hundreds of little feet were crowned with brand new shoes, while little backpacks were filled with new writing utensils, notepads, coloring books and other school supplies.

The school supplies were sent to soldiers in Iraq from U.S. citizens. Coalition Forces paid for the shoes at a price tag of nearly $6,000 for the school’s 1,300 children.

The 801st is part of a division-wide project called Operation Adopt-a-Village. Soldiers have spent the last month helping restore the primary school, along with a smaller nearby intermediate-level school.


MOSUL, Iraq – Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) discovered weapons caches Dec. 30 in and around the city of Mosul.

In the 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT) area of operations a source led soldiers to a group of freshly dug holes, one of which contained two bags full of 82-millimeter mortar rounds. Also a local civilian guided forces to a cache consisting of 185 60-millimeter mortar rounds and 160 82-millimeter mortars.

In both instances explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams destroyed all rounds in place.

Day 236 of CPT Patti's middle east adventure. She has 59 more scheduled days of command.

Wednesday, December 31, 2003


I've been worried sick most of the day because the first news of the day from Baghdad was word of a US Convoy being attacked and one HUMMV being destroyed.

I feared it was her convoy from the Baghdad International Airport.

But she sent to me an e-mail very recently saying she had arrived at Camp Provider (her Forward Operating Base [FOB])

So...she is once again as safe as she can be in Baghdad.

I beg all of you to continue to pray for the safety of CPT Patti and her soldiers. They have been blessed so far...may they continue to be so.

Praise to the Lord for His goodness.

Here is a copy of the email she sent to me.
I'm here! I made it back safe and sound to the FOB at 1910. I had to talk toeveryone and everyone asked me how my leave was. Of course, I told them how it was TOTALLY AWESOME!! I miss you so much! I love you very, very much!! :)

Please note that everyone wanted to speak with her...not necessarily a given for company commanders.

And...please note how fond she is of me. She is either blind or an extremely good judge of character.

I can live with either...

Stumbled into this website...someone actually has documented the 10 stages of the transformation of Michael Jackson's face (and I use the term "face" loosely here...)

Complete with witty commentary and amazingly good reference photos.

I laughed out loud. Frequently.

I've had thoughts like this when I see simple shirts going for $65 at the PX (that is the PX's discounted price mind you...)

But I never wrote about it this well...
Just because I happen to live with my four brothers and sisters in my mom's two-bedroom South Side apartment, work at Taco Bell, and don't have a car, some ignorant types assume that I don't have much money. But, as you can clearly see from my $220 Fubu jacket and $95 Tommy Hilfiger sweatshirt, I could not possibly be poor.

The kind of name-brand clothing I wear is very expensive. See these Karl Kani jeans? Eighty-eight dollars. Would I spend that kind of money on a pair of jeans if I were poor? Of course not. If I were poor, I'd think $88 was way too much to spend on a pair of jeans that, with the exception of a tiny Karl Kani logo embroidered on the front right pocket, are practically indistinguishable from a plain old pair of $25 Levi's. But I don't think that's too much to spend because, for a well-off person like myself, money is no object.

Sure, I make $5.90 an hour at Taco Bell, but that couldn't possibly be my only source of income, could it? If my total weekly take-home pay were only $175, why in the world would I spend practically that much on a Nautica sweater and pair of Timberlands? That would mean I'd have spent 40 hours slinging Chalupas just for that one shopping trip to the mall. That'd just be plain stupid. So, obviously, I must be rolling in dough. And I am. You can tell by my special non-poor-people clothing.


From a reader, a soldier's mother...
The Pope is visiting Washington, D.C and president Bush takes him out for an afternoon on the Potomac, sailing on the Presidential yacht, the Sequoia.

They're admiring the sights when, all of a sudden, the Pope's hat (zucchetto) blows off his head and out into the water. Secret Service guys start to launch a boat, but President Bush waves them off, saying, "Wait, wait. I'll take care of this. Don't worry."

Bush then steps off the yacht onto the surface of the water and walks out to the Holy Father's little hat, bends over picks it up, then walks back to the yacht and climbs aboard.

He hands the hat to the Pope amid stunned silence.

The next morning, the Headlines in New York Times, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Buffalo News, Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal, Minneapolis Tribune, Denver Post, Albuquerque Journal, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle proclaim:

"Bush Can't Swim."

See for yourself what the Iraqis think...without BBC's spin.

What is the fair judgement you believe Saddam deserves?

Execution 56%
Imprisonment 25%
Clemency 19%

(via Instapundit)
Katie Couric: Feminist woman first, journalist second. Interviewing two Time staffers the morning after the magazine named “The American Soldier” as its “Person of the Year,” Couric’s very first concern was “why there's no woman on the cover?"

In fact, one of the three soldiers on the cover is a woman.

(via The Corner)
I will always remember the man to whom I'd casually waved, just after the fall of Hussein's regime, in the Shiite slum of Sadr City (formerly Saddam City). He'd been riding a motorcycle looted from Uday Hussein.

He waved me over and asked whether I was American. I warily admitted I was, unsure of the consequences of the answer. The man, young but old-looking, with a beard bristly as a pine forest, grabbed my shoulders, snapped me toward him and kissed me. On both cheeks. He smelled of rotten meat and 3-day-old fruit.

"Thank you, America," he said.

Then he lifted his shirt. A virtual rail yard was etched in scars on his back. His legs were no better. The hair would never grow back where his skull had been split by a lead pipe.
In 2004, more dumb things will be said by more educated people about the trial of Saddam Hussein than all dumb things about all other major subjects combined.

Already, we're hearing how Saddam "deserves" to be treated with more fairness, humanity, and dignity...

So let's clear up a few things. First, Saddam "deserves" nothing. Yes, he should have a fair trial (and a fair execution). But that's because he's a prop. If we can squeeze some good out of this evil man by giving him a decent trial we should do it — because the Iraqi people deserve it, not because he does. I'm in favor of a big legal circus, if a big legal circus will help put that brutalized nation on the path to a decent life. However, if it were clear that loofahing him with a cheese grater would do even more to improve Iraqi life, than I'd be for that...

Due process and the legal protections therein are not and should not be conceived as protections for guilty people. Rather, they are necessary safeguards against falsely convicting the innocent. It is never "unfair" to the guilty if they are convicted without due process. The protections afforded the guilty are the necessary costs of making sure the innocent are protected.

But Saddam — duh — is guilty...

The BBC News Online has informed its staff that they must not refer to Saddam as a "dictator." The designation "deposed former President" is preferred because Saddam had been supported in a national referendum in which he received 100 percent of the vote. By this standard, Hitler — who actually won a real election — should be referred to as the "deceased German chancellor" since he wasn't even deposed. But this is a but a morsel compared to the cornucopia to come in 2004 when Saddam stands in the dock.


The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports on themes appearing in sermons given throughout the year by paid employees of the Palestinian know, the ones we are trying to assist with the "roadmap for peace".

Among the highlights:

Allah wreak vengeance on the Jews and the Americans...

Allah, destroy the U.S., its helpers and its agents. Allah, destroy Britain, its helpers and its agents...

Sermons often call for Palestinians to become martyrs, or Shahids. Within the sermons, it is told that those who become a Shahid feel no pain and receive rewards in the afterlife, such as 72 black-eyed virgins. Family members of the Shahids are also praised in sermons...

The concept of educating children to become martyrs occurs regularly in PA sermons. Sheikh Ibrahim Madhi, one of the most popular Imams, is especially vocal on this issue. During one sermon, he repeats the following discussion he had with a child who approached him about becoming a suicide bomber: " A young man said to me: 'I am 14 years old, and I have four years left before I blow myself up'…

He is an Arab, and the editor of an Arab newspaper...
But at a great moment of historical reckoning and potential change, the Arabs...ducked....

Rarely in modern history had so many Arabs simultaneously and jointly participated in an exercise of mass confusion and indecision as they did in 2003 vis-a-vis the Iraq crisis.

A sample:
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. He votes for the Iraq war resolution. He carps about President Bush proceeding to use it. He espouses a "bold, new vision" of leadership. He says "f--k" on the record. He agrees to appear on Jay Leno's show. He complains about having to follow Triumph the Insult Comic Dog puppet. You're a war hero, Senator. Wipe your nose and act like one.
EVEN if terrorists attack our homeland before the stroke of midnight, 2003 will still have been a year of remarkable progress on every front in the global War on Terror - and the greatest year for freedom since the Soviet Union's collapse.

A decisive government in Washington, backed by the courage and common sense of the American people, worked with allies around the world to carry the fight to the terrorists' home ground. We continued to seize the strategic initiative from the most implacable enemies America has ever faced.

Unless we choose to defeat ourselves, there is no chance of a final terrorist victory...

Consider just a few of our achievements:

* We deposed and captured one of the world's worst tyrants, liberating 25 million people and demonstrating the inherent weakness of dictatorships.

In doing so, we destroyed a regime that had terrorized its own people and the region. We drew an unmistakable line between America's reinvigorated support for the liberation of the oppressed and "old Europe's" cynical defense of the status quo.


But it isn't, uh, where you might think...
Startling new Army statistics show that strife-torn Baghdad - considered the most dangerous city in the world - now has a lower murder rate than New York.

The newest numbers, released by the Army's 1st Infantry Division, reveal that over the past three months, murders and other crimes in Baghdad are decreasing dramatically and that in the month of October, there were fewer murders per capita there than the Big Apple, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.


A year-end column with a difference.
Where's the real "ignorance and conceit" here? No one who's spent 10 minutes with any Iraqis would compare Wolfowitz with the Soviets.

The real story of this last year is not Saddam, but something deeper, symbolized by the bizarre persistence of the "antiwar" movement even after the war was over. For a significant chunk of the British establishment and for most of the governing class on the Continent, if it's a choice between an America-led West or no West at all they'll take the latter. That's the trend to watch in the year ahead.

Not just is a real commitment
Eerie lights cast a green glow on the dust on Balad’s tarmac as Cox and Masteller discussed what motivated them to return to the combat zone.

Like most soldiers, it’s not the pay or the military orders that pressed them to fly back just before New Year’s Eve. It was their dedication to the mission, a yearlong endeavor for most.

“I just don’t want to leave things left undone Iraq,” Cox said.

“There’s still so much for us to do in Iraq,” Masteller agreed.

You need to know two things about this.

The first is this attitude is almost unprecidented in my experience in the Army.

Second is - he seems to mean it.
Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to bases in Europe won’t turn wrenches for at least 45 days under a new U.S. Army Europe plan to reintegrate soldiers into family and garrison life.

For the first seven days back at home, returning soldiers will work half-days, followed by a month’s vacation, USAREUR commander Gen. B.B. Bell said.

“I don’t care about equipment or training,” Bell told rear detachment commanders recently in Mannheim. “We are going to heal the warrior’s spirit.”...

When troops get back from their time off, they enter the second 45-day phase of reintegration geared toward repairing their “personal kit,” Bell said.

During that time, soldiers may have their records updated and undergo further medical care or counseling. It’s also a time for them to straighten out their uniforms and gear.

“If I find you doing land navigation in the second 45 days, you’re wrong,” Bell told commanders in Mannheim...

During the Mannheim visit, he said he would “hunt down” and “nuke” commanders if he finds a returning soldier at the port or the motor pool.

CPT Patti won't get the benefit of any of this as she is scheduled to return ahead of the rest of the 1AD. But a whole bunch of soldiers will find this to be a heckuva welcome home present.

TIKRIT, Iraq – Task Force Ironhorse Second Infantry’s Arrowhead Brigade soldiers discovered a significant weapons cache southeast of Samarra in the morning of Dec. 29. Some of the items located were found in a false wall.

The cache consisted of 43 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 79 rocket-propelled grenades, 19 AK-47 assault rifles, one machine gun, one 40mm grenade launcher, six 60mm mortar tubes with base plates, 7,920 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, more than 160 mortar rounds, 34 100mm BMP rounds, six rifle grenades, 40 82mm fuses, two 40mm grenades, 25 fragmentary grenades, five pounds of artillery propellant, 16 mortar primers, a significant amount of C4 and TNT, one assembled improvised explosive device and materials to make additional devices.

Al Qaeda literature and videotapes were also found as well as a British made ceramic body armor plate with a bullet hole. This is an indication that the enemy faction was testing the personal protection plate’s ability to withstand expended anti-personnel ammunition.

I've recalculated. CPT Patti has 61 scheduled days left in command. This is the 234th day of her deployment.

She made it as far as Kuwait on Tuesday.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003


Has anyone else noticed a dramatic drop in "spam" at their Hotmail account?

Mine has gone from 40 per day to less than 10.

Does anyone know why?

UPDATE: Tom writes that "Hotmail has revamped their website/email & appears to making a dent in the volume of spam!"

Indeed it would seem so. Has anyone else noticed? Got any more details as to how/why?


The Saudi's seem to have just too much time on their hands...
Morality police in southern Saudi Arabia plan to conduct raids to ensure that shops do not sell flowers, candles and gifts to those planning to celebrate New Year, a local newspaper reported on Monday...

"Patrols will be dispatched to gift and flower shops in the next two days before the New Year to ensure that ornaments are not sold for New Year celebrations," al-Watan quoted the local APVPV head as saying.

Amen, sister.
But then Sept. 11 happened. Our nation needed the strength of a leader, and I wondered where we'd find one.

It wasn't until the president stood with firefighters and rescue workers at ground zero that I began to wonder if perhaps I'd misjudged him. Previously wooden while delivering prepared speeches, the man who shouted into the bullhorn from where the World Trade Center had stood demanded to be heard. And I listened - the whole world listened.

I began to hope that our country finally had a leader who'd have the moral fortitude to say to our enemies around the world: Enough.

For nearly 25 years, America has been under attack by Muslim fundamentalists - attacks virtually unanswered by all presidents as far back as Jimmy Carter.

We've somehow confused the systematic massacre of Americans for random acts of violence, though the collective onslaught - catalogued even incompletely - seems in retrospect to be a clear declaration of war:

• 1979 - The US Embassy in Iran was overrun by Islamic extremists who captured 66 Americans and held 53 of them for 444 days.

• 1983 - The US Embassy in Beirut was targeted by a truck bomb that killed 63.

• 1983 - The US Marine barracks in Beirut was destroyed by a truck bomb that killed 242 Americans.

• 1988 - US Marine Lt. Col. William Higgins, on a UN mission in Lebanon, was abducted, tortured, and hanged.

• 1988 - A bomb on Pan Am Flight 103 went off over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 on board and 11 people on the ground.

• 1993 - Terrorists drove an explosives-laden truck into the basement of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing six.

• 1993 - Followers of Osama bin Laden killed 18 American soldiers in an ambush on the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia.

• 1996 - The Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia was destroyed by a tanker-truck bomb killing 19 Americans.

• 1998 - US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were simultaneously attacked by truck bombs killing 301.

• 2000 - The USS Cole was attacked in the port city of Yemen; 17 died.

Halfhearted rescue attempts, trade embargoes, and a smattering of cruise missiles thrown at the problem by former leaders had no follow-through, no long-term commitment necessary to stave off the continued systematic attacks. Not until George Bush vowed to protect the US from those who sought to destroy it - even if he had to stand without the support of UN allies.

I can't rely on the contenders from my own party to follow Bush's course. Only three of the nine running in Democratic primaries are viable candidates, and none is willing to risk political comfort to pledge a presidency to the messy business of routing terrorists and their sponsor nations. Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, and John Kerry are now all against the war in Iraq, though both General Clark and Senator Kerry supported it once, and may again.

But I'm tired of presidents fluent in the language of doublespeak.

Bush isn't timid about disappointing a nation used to instant gratification. He has reminded us repeatedly that the war on terror will be long, and people will die in the process.

Or, it could be disinformation to make the bad guys sweat...
A member of the Iraqi Governing Council told two Arabic newspapers that Saddam Hussein has given interrogators information about where he has hidden money and how to find weapons arsenals used by those attacking coalition forces.

The Arab dailies Asharq Al-Awsat and Al-Hayat reported Monday that Dr. Iyad Allawi told them in interviews the former Iraqi leader admitted he invested stolen Iraqi money -- which the Iraqi Governing Council estimates at $40 billion -- in Switzerland, Japan and Germany, among others, under fictitious company names.

Allawi also told the papers that Saddam is giving the "names of people who know the location of hidden arsenals used in terrorist attacks against coalition forces and the Governing Council."


Today's terrorist apparently knows that Bismarck is the capitol of North Dakota...
The FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning.

Please go read the whole thing...its the best thing you will read today.
And while Arabs once may have been exterminated by Syrians, gassed in Yemen by Egypt, ethnically cleansed in Kuwait, lynched without trial in Palestine, burned alive in Saudi Arabia, inside Israel proper they vote and enjoy human rights not found elsewhere in the Arab Middle East.

Go read all of this...scroll down to the December 29th entry
And so it came to pass that in the wake of September 11, 2001, peace broke out in many odd parts of the world. And hardly anyone noticed.

(via Instapundit)

(via Instpundit)

Sarah finds someone else who isn't paying attention...

Iraqis grow weary over the terrorists streaming into their country.
Karbala residents pointed the finger at foreign perpetrators -- by implication, Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network -- and Wahabis, followers of an austere brand of Sunni Islam practiced mostly in Saudi Arabia. But they refused to blame Sunni Muslims who have most to lose in a new Iraq.

"Karbala was a quiet city. They had to ruin it," said Dawood al-Zubaidi, the father of the two children, and a guard at Karbala University, where he had a small shack.
Japan said Monday that it was prepared to forgive most of the billions of dollars of debts that Iraq owes Japan in order to help rebuild the economy, if other creditors did the same...

Mr. Baker secured agreements from France and Germany, the two countries most fiercely critical of the war in Iraq. Iraq owes France about $3 billion and Germany about $2.5 billion, not including interest and penalties.

Russia, which also opposed the war, said recently that it would waive some of its $8 billion in Iraqi debt in return for contracts to help rebuild Iraq and produce oil there.

The Paris Club nations hold about $40 billion of Iraq's estimated $120 billion in loans; Arab nations hold most of the rest.

It will be interesting to see what those Arab countries do...

Remember, these are the ones who lost the most when Saddam fell from power.

TIKRIT, Iraq—Influential spiritual leaders from Saddam Hussein's hometown — a bastion of anti-American sentiment — are joining forces to persuade Iraqis to abandon the violent insurgency.

The effort marks a new, open willingness to co-operate with U.S. forces — a shift in the thinking of at least some key members of Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority, which lost political dominance with the fall of Saddam and has largely formed the most outspoken and violent opposition to the U.S.-led occupation.

Sheik Sabah Mahmoud, leader of the Sada tribe, said yesterday he and 10 other tribal elders have formed a reconciliation committee in Tikrit to speak to other Iraqi leaders about trying to persuade rebels to put down weapons. He said he took that message last week to a group of scholars, religious leaders and other prominent figures meeting in Baghdad.

"It's about time we put our differences aside and looked to the future," Mahmoud said. "I told them, `The reality is they (U.S. forces) are here on the ground; the past is dead. Give the Americans a chance to see what they are going to give us.'"
Operation Iraqi Freedom was about liberation, long before it became a corrosive occupation.

It was also, in the annals of warfare, precedent-setting — the first time that compassionate relief arrived concurrent with ongoing military operations, even to the detriment of military resupply.

That's not oft noted.

In time, if the Americans get this right — and they've little experience with nation-building, President George W. Bush actually campaigning against the very idea before the 2000 election — it is liberation that will endure as the dangers and deprivations of transitional Iraq begin to recede.

But time is the issue, impatience the enemy...

Give the Americans this much: In the modern world, there are precious few peoples willing to die for strangers, for someone else's tribe, which is the fate of soldiers doing the bidding of politicians.

Pity so many other governments didn't feel that a Muslim nation merited the human, economic and political sacrifice.

An invasion on humanitarian grounds — deposing Saddam because of the horrors he inflicted on his people, the evidence in all those mass graves — had to be politically dressed up as a defensive intervention, with America and Great Britain cranking up alarm over the existence of weapons of mass destruction.

Saddam Hussein was the weapon of mass destruction.

Saddam Hussein as a weapon of mass destruction? Sounds is why.
The bodies of two Thai troops killed in Iraq have been retuned to Bangkok in a solemn ceremony...

Amporn Chulert and Mitir Klaharn, both sergeant-majors, were among 19 killed in car bomb and mortar attacks in the Iraqi city of Karbala on Saturday.

They were the first Thai troops to die in Iraq, sparking calls for withdrawal.


Syria. Again.
A trading company closely linked with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad smuggled sophisticated arms to Saddam Hussein in the three years before his overthrow - all in violation of a U.N. embargo, it was reported today.

SES International Corp., headed by one of Assad's cousins, helped illicitly transfer weapons and military hardware to Iraq, the Los Angeles Times said.

And at least one of those shipments was done with help from Syria's government, the newspaper said.

A bomb apparently aimed at a US convoy has exploded in Baghdad, killing one Iraqi civilian and wounding another.

No Americans were hurt in the blast which went off in the Iraqi capital's densely populated Karrada district, on a street lined with market stalls.

"They've not killed any Americans, just Iraqis as usual," a grocer told AP news agency as traders surveyed the damage.

1-36 Infantry out of Friedberg.
U.S. forces are reporting a major success in their latest operation to blunt the guerrilla insurgency in the Iraqi capital.

As part of Operation Iron Grip, U.S. forces carried out a large-scale series of raids in the period from Tuesday night through Christmas Eve night. At one point, the troops carried out 13 separate operations — the most conducted in a single night in Baghdad since the war began, according to the coalition...

Capt. Marcus Wildy, 32, of Charleston, S.C., is commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, one of the 1st Armored Division units that carried out the house-to-house searches the night of Christmas Eve and early Christmas Day...

Also found during the battalion’s searches were an SKS rifle with an adaptor that allows launching of grenades “which makes them [the insurgents] extremely mobile,” Wildy said. “Just fire those grenades and haul butt out of there. We got some people off the street that shouldn’t be on the street.”


CPT Patti and I learned some things during the wonderful 8 days she was here.

For instance, I learned that most of our Soldiers in Iraq do not have access to the big picture. Most don't know that since the capture of Saddam the Iranians and the Libyans have come clean about their WMD programs. The Soldiers don't know they are having that kind of effect on the world.

And that is too bad.

CPT Patti learned what we family members have known from almost the very beginning...namely that there is little one can do upon hearing in the news about casualties. The details just have to come out at their own pace.

She said she doesn't hear the news reports of casualties at Camp Provider. Most of the soldiers quit watching the news a long time ago due to the slant the news agencies put on their stories. Thus, when she and her Soldiers do hear of casualties, those tend to be from within their own Brigade. And, of course, the soldiers pass the word about who it is and what unit it is...information that we in the rear don't get for days.

She noticed the flag at half-staff a day or so after she got here. She didn't know then that more often than not that means our brigade took a casualty. Once I explained that she was almost frantic to know more. She was able to reach the brigade rear detachment and get what few details that were available (and they gave her those only because she is a commander within the brigade...we spouses can't get that sort of info until after notifications are made...)

She was distressed at how family members in the rear only hear that there were casualties...and have to wait days sometimes to confirm the casualties were not our very own loved ones. She didn't know about the fences we build to cope.

We both learned that no one is untouchable. She got a phone call from Baghdad after we returned from church on Christmas Eve. That call informed us of the death of the Brigade Command Sergeant Major. Patti wept desperately on the phone with the friend who called. They both knew the CSM...Patti had sought his advice and counsel on numerous occasions. And just like that he is gone.

If you are not very familiar with the inner workings of the Army let me explain to you that the Brigade CSM is the senior enlisted man in an outfit of perhaps 4000 soldiers. The CSM is a position of considerable influence, authority and power. The CSM is the command partner and frequently the most cherished advisor to the Colonel. In the eyes of young Soldiers and young officers the CSM has a certain mystique. And on Christmas Eve ours was taken by an IED.

No one is untouchable.

And I learned that spending 8 months without my wife allows my head to fill with notions and ideas that have no basis in reality. I was very concerned about what changes I would see in her, wrought by so long under such stress and conditions. I had imagined all manner of awful possibilities, and attempted to prepare for them.

But there is no appreciable change in her. If anything she may have lost a fraction of the presumption of good in all people - yet she is still far, far from being as cynical as most folks I know. So I guess I learned that the core of who she is is solid...she is who she is, and I'm just delighted about it.

I learned that being married to Time magazine's Person of the Year is a very, very cool feeling.

I learned that my real life with her is so staggeringly superior to my on-line life as a blogger that it is very doubtful I will continue to do this once she safely returns to me.

And finally, I learned that my cousin is right. You just don't forget how to kiss.

This is good news

And this looks like good news as well.


The 233d day of our adventure. Sixty-one days remaining in CPT Patti's command.

She had a pleasant stay in Sicily - said the pizza is really good there and that the Navy lives well.

She expects to be on a flight to Kuwait later this morning.

Monday, December 29, 2003


CPT Patti called at 10:30 this morning...

For some reason their plane put down in Cicily. She expects to be there overnight.

One just never knows...

At least she is not in harm's way...

2:58 a.m.

That was the time on my watch when I walked away from the "tent city" at Rhein Main Air Base after saying good bye to CPT Patti. She had boarding pass in hand for the flight to Kuwait.

She was home 8 days. In some ways it seems like 8 hours.

It was an amazing 8 days. I'll have more to say on that later...but right now it is a little after 4:00 a.m. and I really should be getting to bed.

It's going to feel awfully empty there...

By the way...according to the schedule she has 62 more days in command. And she should be home very soon thereafter.

Please continue to pray for her and her soldiers.

And for me.