Friday, May 23, 2003

I HAD BEEN wondering along these same lines lately. This commentary posits that recent Al Queda attacks actually demonstrate how well we have done so far in the war on terror.
If we look at the targets chosen in each of these cases, what they have in common is both their defenselessness — their "softness" in the current jargon — and their failure to damage the power or image of the United States. If al Qaeda were truly resurgent, and had both the leadership and resourcefulness evidenced by its initial attacks on U.S. embassies, warships, and the World Trade Center, there is no doubt the organization would be attacking targets of this quality. But the fact is that these targets are now largely out of reach — in part because the United States and the rest of the civilized world have increased the quality their defenses but also because, as President Bush has said, the organization is on the run.

AND NOW FOR something completely different. Found this little funny on the National Review Online blog called The Corner
At Heathrow Airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a compass, a protractor, and a graphical calculator. Authorities believe he is a member of the notorious al-Gebra movement. He is being charged with carrying weapons of math instruction."
AN INTERNATIONAL force is being assembled in Iraq says this story. Note the activity from the former Eastern Bloc.
Coalition forces from several eastern European countries are expected to join a British division and a Spanish brigade already in Iraq. A Polish army division, along with a Ukranian brigade, is expected in the coming weeks. A Georgian contingent is on the way to bolster 4th Infantry Division forces in northwestern Iraq. In addition, a Baltic contingent composed of Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians may be located in northeastern Iraq, said the V Corps officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
THE BEST ONLINE map I've found of Baghdad so far can be found here. Note that you can zoom in on this map to find a good bit of detail.
A TRAGIC STORY. He was just days from coming home.
A career soldier has died in a multi-vehicle accident in Iraq. Lt. Col. Dominic R. Baragona, 42, died Monday near Safwan, Iraq, the Department of Defense said Tuesday. A tractor-trailer jackknifed on the road and collided with Baragona’s Humvee.

BRADLEY AMBUSHED and two Iraqis killed in ensuing firefight according to this story at the Army Times. It is still a dangerous place.
ACCORDING TO THE ARMY TIMES appears the military will get about a 4% pay raise next year. Whoo Hoo!
COOL RUNDOWN on some numbers associated with the war over at The Command Post. Sample:
Approximate costs for the air operations portion - $917,744,361.55, or roughly 46 minutes, 10.5 seconds of the 2001 US Gross Domestic Product
ANOTHER GOOD GLIMPSE of life at heat-stricken Camp Udairi. Plus in this article you catch a glimpse at the extreme political correctness that the Army could probably do without.
When the chatter turned to gripes, the topic was set on the strict orders about operations in Iraq. Highest on the list was an order not to name tanks. Normally, tank crews paint a name on their 120 mm cannon. They think up catchy monikers that begin with their troop letter, such as in Troop A where tanks were named “Above the Law,” “Assume the Position” and “A Girl’s Best Friend.”

A female colonel at the port saw the names and insisted they be removed, the soldiers said. Despite complaints from the crews, the command ordered that no names be stenciled on the gun tubes, said Staff Sgt. Tony Meyers, 30, of Monroe, Mich.

“That’s an armor tradition,” Meyers said. “The order affects morale and espirit de corps.”

GEN FRANKS is about to retire. There is a good story about him here.
Like President Bush, Franks grew up in Midland, Texas. He attended the same high school as first lady Laura Bush, who was a year behind him. Tommy Ray, as he was known while growing up, loved fast cars, Elvis and hunting, according to boyhood friends.

After two years at the University of Texas at Austin, Franks dropped out and joined the Army. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1967 as a graduate of the Artillery Officer Candidate School at Fort Sill, Okla., and in short order he was serving with the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam.

UN LIFTS SANCTIONS lets US and UK run Iraq says this story. Well duh...guess it would have been a bit pointless to vote against that which is already happening. Still, its nice to see some of these security council members can be something other than dogmatic.
AN ENJOYABLE story here about how some of the soldiers at Camp Udairi are passing the time, especially in the hottest part of the day.
AND HERE is another cool site sponsored by the VFW where you can send a phone card to deployed soldiers or simply donate some money so someone else can send a card.. Some soldier's loved ones out there may not know about this...share it with 'em.
NOW HERE is a really cool site set up by the 1st Armored Division where you can post a public message to CPT Patti for her to see once she gets to Baghdad and finally gets access to a computer. Its easy...follow the instructions carefully about including her full name and rank. Note also that you can click on a listing button to see an alphabetical listing of names of soldiers who have messages waiting. Go ahead and read the one I wrote.
FRIDAY MAY 23d, the 12th day of CPT Patti's deployment. Last confirmed location was Camp Udairi in the desert of Kuwait. Today's forcast is for a mere 107 degrees.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

FURTHER EVIDENCE, as if you needed it, that Jesse Jackson is an outright idiot. Shut up already. And yes...oddly enough, it has to do with the military in Iraq.
OH OH...FIRE destroys parts of Camp Udairi says this story...fortunately no one was hurt. But the poor troops can't catch a break...
The three large tents were recently erected for morale activities, Bosse said. One was slated to be an Internet cafe and phone center. Another was going to hold a large-screen television.

“That’s all going to be put on hold now,” Bosse said.

HERE IS A STORY that will tug at your heart strings about an 8 year old boy and his selfless concern for a soldier wounded in the 507th Maintenance Company ambush during the war.
Bobby said he wasn’t finished. He told Mrs. Emery that he had a special flag at home that he wanted to put on the cover.

The following morning the teacher stood quietly as Bobby took a small, American desk flag about the size of his hand out of his backpack and unfolded it.

“What makes this flag so special, Bobby?” asked Mrs. Emery. She choked back tears as he answered her question.

“My dad gave it to me to remember him by while he’s deployed,” Bobby replied.

READ A GOOD DESCRIPTION of a camp similar to the one CPT Patti is at in this short article here. It matches what CPT Patti has told me...although the article doesn't mention long lines nor scorpions...
THURSDAY MAY 22, the eleventh day of CPT Patti's deployment. Last known whereabouts was Camp Udairi. Forecast high for today in Kuwait City is 111 degrees.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

BAGHDAD IS A very dangerous place.

Within 90 minutes of setting up a traffic checkpoint on a sweltering street in the east part of the city, the 3rd Infantry Division troops had seized 20 weapons, including three AK-47 assault rifles, three revolvers and two 9 mm pistols, said Staff Sgt. Richard Rosado.

“Everybody’s got a weapon,” said Rosado, 37, of Manatin, Puerto Rico.
Not only that...they are using them against our patrols in the city. See that story - and understand the danger - here.
IF YOU EVER WONDERED...Yes, there are differences between soldiers and marines.
Army troops could only shake their heads when they recalled odd things Marines did in combat. While waiting to fight, some Marines tested their flak vests by stabbing each other with knives, asccording to Army Pfc. Christopher Montgomery, 20, of Slippery Rock, Pa.

“They found out a knife goes through it,” Montgomery said. “We did dumb stuff, too. It comes with boredom.”

See the whole thing here.
HERE IS an interesting article about joint policing of Baghdad by US Military Police and Iraqi police. Except there seems to be some troubles with Iraqi police actually being thugs. Hey - this setting up democracy thing isn't a cakewalk.

Anyway - it highlights the tentative nature of things right now.
CPT PATTI phones home!

Heard from CPT Patti on Monday night. Called about 1030 pm my time, 1130 pm her time.

She is doing well. I was really impressed by how good she sounded. Her spirit is fully intact...and her spirit is her best barometer for judging her well being.

She remains at Camp Udairi...however she has some troops working at the port in Kuwait City recovering the equipment from the ships. Meanwhile, back in Camp Udairi there is not much to be done...and this is a blessing in some ways as it allows them all to slowly acclimate to the extreme heat.

They are eating three hot meals (Army speak for food from a kitchen, not an MRE) per day and as we spoke on Monday they were heading out to pick up thier first shipment of mail since leaving Germany. Huge morale boost there.

The current plan will take the battalion from Kuwait to Baghdad in three separate convoys. CPT Patti has been named convoy commander for the first of these, currently scheduled to depart Kuwait on May 27th. The convoy will take approximately 25 hours of driving. This will be accomplished over two days with rest breaks all along the way.

And she wants everyone to know she is doing well and is grateful for your prayers.

Me too.
I REALIZE I've skipped a couple of days of posts...not from lack of interest...but have been caring for a sick relative. Should be back to normal in a day or two.
TUESDAY MAY 20th. Day nine of CPT Patti's deployment. CPT Patti is still at Camp Udairi in the Kuwaiti desert. Forecast for today includes a high of 109 degrees. Low, a balmy 85 degrees.