Saturday, May 31, 2003

SOMETIMES YOU JUST don't know what it is that you just don't know. Referring to the "Proxy Marriage" article posted on May 28th in which the Mother of the Bride stood in for the Groom who was deployed, an old Army buddy of mine wrote
"Hey, Just finished going thru latest update to the 'CPT Patti' page. I must comment on the Army times article on the Proxy marriage of the deployed soldier.

You might be interested to know that you actually know someone who was married this way over 19 years ago. The situation (husband, a dashing no-time-in-grade 2LT, sent to Germany for first assignment, while future wife...[waited behind in the USA]...made it necessary for the couple to use the proxy method.

We became aware of this method when a Russian Dissident made the news by using it to escape the USSR. His girlfriend made it to the west and he was able to use the Montana Proxy thing to legally leave the USSR."

Curiouser and curiouser.
I'VE BEEN CRITICAL of the ORHA in the past because Iraqi anger will ulitmately be taken out on our soldiers. I know it is easy for me to sit here and snipe about what is happening over there, but it seems to me that - with a couple of million folks out of work in the city - a suitcase full of dollars could probably organize some sort of impromptu garbage service. And the power still isn't on?
In the tightknit Kemp al Arman section of central Baghdad, there are often just two hours of electricity a day.

Many families have been forgoing meat for more than a month, water only trickles from the taps, and garbage is piling up knee-deep on the street corners.

Read the rest here.
HELLO IRAN, anyone listening? Secretary Rumsfeld authored this piece for USA Today.
No one with a knowledge of history would expect Iraq to go from a Stalinist system to a stable and secure free nation in a matter of weeks, or even months, or to do so without facing a series of difficulties.

Coalition countries are working effectively to help Iraqis restore order and essential services. It is a task that will take time and patience, trial and error. But this much is certain: The world community has a stake in Iraq's success -- because if Iraqis can build a free nation on the rubble of Saddam Hussein's tyranny, the effects on the region and the world could be significant.

Emphasis mine.
I KEEP SEEING stories like this in various media outlets. I don't know if this is literally true...if it is, those of us living here have not been told about it. What we have been told is this community will close in three years and will relocate to Bavaria. That is significantly different than reported in this story.
This change is occurring swiftly and dramatically. The 17,000 member 1st Armored Division, most of which was sent to Iraq from Germany, will not return there. The Pentagon will be removing most of its troops from the old cold war bases in Europe and basing them in the territories of its new found friends. It will be former communist countries like Poland, Romania, Hungary, and the Czech Republic that provide the new bases for U.S. power in the region and a growing voice of support for the United States in the game of global politics.
GETTING TO KNOW Baghdad, taking those first tentative steps, the second brigade is about a week and a half ahead of our own first brigade. Mansur is in the Southwestern quadrant of Baghdad. Read the whole thing here.
For the next six months, and probably longer, 1st Lt. Ed Lauer’s platoon will essentially own a 6-square-mile zone in downtown Baghdad.

The unit’s area includes Mansur, a well-to-do district of restaurants, fine homes and bustling businesses; the Grand Mosque, Saddam’s largest and still-unfinished center of Muslim worship; and a complex of bombed out Iraqi Intelligence Service buildings now inhabited by dirt-poor squatters.

“It’s like Tijuana,” said Lauer, a San Diego native who speaks Spanish. “You have the First World right next to the Third World.”

This is the new home of the Baumholder, Germany-based soldiers.
ANOTHER GLIMPSE into the disappointment of the 3d ID can be found here. But one battalion commander sort of sums up the bottom line.
“They may not like it. Even I don’t like it,” Marcone said. “But we’re soldiers and understand our duty.”
SATURDAY MAY 31st, the 20th day of CPT Patti's deployment. She is somewhere in Baghdad, east of the Tigris river.

Friday, May 30, 2003

AS IF THE 22d Amendment ever had anything to do with one's longevity...Sheesh, what an idiot.
Clinton said the amendment, passed after Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to a record fourth term, should be changed simply to keep a person from being elected to more than two consecutive terms as president.

"I think since people are living much longer ... the 22nd Amendment should probably be modified to say two consecutive terms instead of two terms for a lifetime," Clinton said.

Read the rest here.
INTERESTING COMMENTARY by one of my favorite columnists, Jonah Goldberg.
The Civil War wasn't just about slavery, World War II wasn't fought to end the Holocaust and Saddam wasn't toppled solely to stop the barbarity of the Baathists. But in the aftermath of such efforts, the moral arguments swamp all other considerations.

Someday Hollywood, or its equivalent, is going to make movies about the horrors of Africa and North Korea taking place right now, and people like you and me are going to be stunned that so many good and decent people didn't do more to stop it.

Read the rest here.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING completely different. Did you even know you could buy one of these?
I GUESS WE have officially arrived in cyberspace. We are now recognized by Google. Just search on CPT Patti.
YEAH. That'll happen.
Communism in Iraq: Country's oldest party blasts U.S. occupation, plans swift comeback.
AH YES, THE VAUNTED Arab Solidarity. I find it interesting that OPEC is sitting on its duff when it comes to rejuvenating the Iraqi Oil Industry.
Thamer al-Ghadhban, the (Iraqi Oil) ministry's interim chief executive, also said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press that he feels estranged from his counterparts in OPEC as he struggles to restore Iraqi oil production to prewar levels.

None of the other 10 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has contacted Iraq's oil ministry since al-Ghadhban took over.

Read about it here.
ALRIGHT! JUST received an "official" update from the 1st Brigade. Here are the highlights.

1st Brigade has "closed" on Baghdad...that is Army speak for all units are now in Baghdad. It was a 590 Kilometer trip (366 miles) from Camp Udairi.

1st Brigade's sector is Central Baghdad, from the east bank of the Tigris river. Their sector includes approximately one million Iraqis. 1st Brigade actually takes over authority for that area on June 5th, conducting a relief in place with their counterpart in the 3d ID

Status of telephones is really in about none. However the Brigade is projecting they will establish e-mail communications in a week or ten days. How nice would that be!

Everyone is living in buildings and is eating one hot meal per day (the other two meals are MREs)

The shops downtown are opening. The Iraqi people themselves are cleaning up their streets, replacing glass, picking up garbage, etc.

People wave at you.

Main soldier desires are for baby wipes and disposable cameras. (Note, CPT Patti could use baby wipes - I hear the Lever 2000 brand is the most preferred because they leave the least residue on the skin and are thus cooler - but CPT Patti has a digital camera with her down range, so no need for the disposables, unless you want to donate one to a soldier.)

They received 7 five-ton trucks full of mail yesterday. All for 1BDE. It really boosted morale. (This is a HUGE step forward...)

Mail from Germany was taking 3-4 weeks to get to Kuwait. We believe it will take an additional 2-3 weeks from mail to move from Kuwait to our soldiers in Baghdad. They ask that you do not mail liquids....water, ice tea, gatorade. It is very possible that some of it will be broken and any breakage will damage a lot of other mail. The kool-aide and gatorade powders are very popular.

Mail to the Brigade from the States is also taking longer due to the volume going through the Frankfurt Air Terminal mail center (FRAT). We are approaching volume levels normally only associated with the Christmas period and have comparitively reduced resources to deal with it.

That is the best of the update. I hope that makes you feel better. Sure does me.
THEN THERE IS the "Scumbag" factor. Interestingly, I have found this story only from non-US media...and the place I've found it most is in the Arab media...draw your own conclusions.
"There are still some regime thugs," said Major General James Mattis, commander of the 1st Marine Division. "They are not significant and are relatively easy to take out," he said, describing them as ill-trained "scumbags."
SOMEBODY FORGOT to tell the Iraqi's the war's over, says a Sergeant in the 1st Armored Cavalry Regiment in this story.
The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, said the war "has not ended" and described the attacks as combat activities organized by small but determined holdouts of Saddam's regime.

"We are not fighting a conventional army," he said. "Those who oppose the coalition are dressed in civilian clothing and are using terrorist techniques."
A SURPRISINGLY FRANK discussion here about the tension in the ranks of the 3d ID. Important to us because if the 3d ID convinces V Corps it is too broken to go to the hot spots, guess who may go then...
Senior leaders and logistics experts in the 3rd Infantry say most of the division is not ready for combat. They complain that they have received almost no spare parts to repair damaged tanks and armored personnel carriers _ what the military calls Class IX supplies _ since they left Kuwait on March 22.

"He is going to get U.S. soldiers needlessly killed if he expects us to go into battle," a senior noncommissioned officer in the 3rd Infantry said of McKiernan. He spoke on condition he not be named for fear of retribution.

The 3rd Infantry's supply line was a constant problem during initial fighting for control of Iraq. After the fall of Baghdad, senior officers determined the division would be leaving within weeks _ and its vehicles would be taken out of service _ so they never filled orders for parts.

One battalion's operations officer said he has more than 2,600 parts on order and that all the tanks in his unit require extensive repairs. A commander said his Bradley Fighting Vehicles all had two-page lists of parts that were ordered but never delivered.

"None of my Bradleys are fully mission capable," said Capt. Chris Carter, an infantry company commander.

Maintenance personnel report that the treads that propel tanks forward are worn, and the vehicles' suspensions are badly damaged. That means the tanks could be easily immobilized in battle and could not move well under fire.

One brigade-level officer wrote a four-page letter to the division commander detailing why his unit was not ready for combat operations, a senior officer said on condition of anonymity.

Asked about spare parts for the division, McKiernan insisted there were plenty of supplies available.

"I wouldn't say they are lacking repair parts. I would say a lot of them were shot up during the campaign, a lot of them have had to have maintenance performed on them," he said. "Those soldiers, if they are asked to go and occupy another piece of ground in Iraq and conduct combat operations, they will be all over it."

Officers in the division said they will follow any orders, but all expressed concern about the possible cost.
THEY ARE CALLING it "The Order From Hell". Understandably.
"This will mean that most of the 3rd Infantry Division will stay through August," he said.

Lt. Col. Mike Birmingham, the division's spokesman in Baghdad, said the 1st Armored Division had trained to take its place. However, small pockets of resistance east and north of Baghdad are preventing the transformation of Iraq.

"The 3rd ID is being directed to those trouble spots because it has demonstrated its abilities to close with and capture or destroy the enemy," Birmingham said.

You can read the rest here.
FRIDAY, MAY 30th, the 19th day of CPT Patti's deployment. No confirmation yet that the convoy arrived in Baghdad, however the absence of any news stories that can be interpreted otherwise probably bodes well for our girl.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

A REMINDER AS to why we are doing this.
"No one knows what freedom means," said Salima al-Majali, 29. "When were born, we opened our eyes to Saddam and everything was forbidden. Our life was all about fear."

Once-banned books, satellite dishes and video CDs are now sold on the streets. A throng of freewheeling newspapers, radio and television stations have sprung up to replace the turgid, sycophantic media under Saddam.

Read the rest here.
PERHAPS YOU CAN appreciate why my heart stopped when I saw this story. I see that the soldier is referred to as "he". So I'm OK but someone else isn't.
A U.S. soldier was killed by hostile fire Thursday while traveling on a main supply route in Iraq, a military statement said.
OH OH, I CAN see it now. The next thing the PX will be out of over here is mouse traps. Bet on it.
The V Corps Public Affairs Office at Camp Victory in Baghdad is the envy of many a soldier living at the massive palace complex.

Situated on an island in a manmade pond, the building benefits from a lakeshore breeze that eases the sweltering heat.

But there’s a downside to all this largesse: Rats.

And we’re not talking about the pesky journalists who swarm the place.

“We’ve killed nine rats so far,” said Capt. Tom Bryant, public affairs operations officer. “And this morning we got a mouse.”

Thankfully, the rats, measuring about a foot from nose to tail, are on the wane. The PAO’s have strategically placed rodent traps around their compound.
MORE TROOPS ON THE streets, more exposure to potential harm. Read about it here.
In recent days, a U.S. soldier was knocked to the ground in Baghdad by an irate woman swinging an empty propane tank at a refueling station, a 10-year-old boy was wounded when he got caught in the middle of a gun battle in a busy market, and an Iraqi trying to steal fuel from a gas station near Nasiriyah tossed a hand grenade at military police officers that didn't explode.
A CHANCE TO WALK the turf of the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad is in this article.
They were likely to hear a fair amount of gunfire, Sgt. Lorino told Sgts. Jaramillo and Ronneberg, but most of it is nothing to worry about. "Just about every Iraqi has a gun," Lorino said. "The Iraqis shoot [into the air] when they are happy. They shoot when they're sad. They shoot when the [electric] power comes on. They shoot when the power goes off."

Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division told their 1st Armored Division counterparts that they had never been shot at since hostilities ended, but there was a good deal of Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence.
A GREAT FIRST HAND account of what life is like for soldiers in Baghdad can be found here. But here is a tease.
Somebody said the other day it's almost like a country club prison, except there they get three hot meals a day and conjugal visits.
AS WE HAVE been keeping an eye on, the troops of the 3d ID can't get a break. And I'd say that is bad news for the locals that we will send the "war-hardened" 3d ID into "trouble spots outside Baghdad". In addition to being they are pissed off as well. Read the whole article here.
Faced with armed resistance that has killed four American soldiers this week, allied military commanders now plan to keep a larger force in Iraq than they had anticipated and to send war-hardened units to trouble spots outside Baghdad, senior American officials said on Wednesday.

Instead of sending home the 3rd Infantry Division, which led the charge on Baghdad, American officials are developing plans that call for most of its troops to extend their stay to quell unrest and extend American control.
THURSDAY, MAY 29th, the 18th Day of CPT Patti's deployment. If everything went according to plan she should have arrived in Baghdad yesterday. I haven't heard...thus I presume no news to be good news. The forecast for Baghdad today is a high of 99 and a low of 72.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

AN UPDATE ON THE COL Collins story. This is just sad.
THE US Army reservist who accused Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Collins of war crimes during the Iraq campaign did not witness any of the alleged incidents for which the British officer is being investigated.

Major Re Biastre, 37, a school guidance counsellor and part-time traffic policeman — who is still serving in Iraq — made the allegations after being publicly reprimanded and arrested by Colonel Collins for handing out sweets to Iraqi children in defiance of the British officer’s orders. Another US reservist who was attached to Colonel Collins’s regiment during the war accused Major Biastre of acting out of “spite”.

Colonel Collins is on leave after relinquishing command of his regiment, a scheduled move. He has let it be known that he is frustrated at not being able to talk about the allegations because of the investigation.

Major Stan Coerr, a US Marine reservist, said: “Major Biastre is the sole reason this is happening. It is his spite for Colonel Collins that started this whole thing. I loved Colonel Collins and would serve with him again. This whole thing is a travesty.”

A REMINDER TO us all, me included, to remain skeptical of the hysterical media. An excellent article from The Telegraph here. This is the British Colonel who gave such a stirring speech before the war and was subsequently charged with "war crimes" by one US reservist and a HOST of media outlets. Read it.
Col Collins - or so it is said - asked for his guns, and when Nasir said he didn't have any, the colonel is said to have hit him with his pistol. Then Nasir remembered: ah yes, he had a couple of Kalashnikovs. When Nasir's son Nawfel hesitated about retrieving the guns from the garden, the colonel is alleged to have fired a shot into the carpet, at which point Nawfel found he had a perfectly clear memory of where the guns were.

Look. It is simple. There were two rival organisations vying for power in the village of al-Nukhaila in the immediate aftermath of the war. One was the party of terrorist gangsters who had been responsible for the deaths of about two million people in the past quarter of a century. The other was the British Army. There was no third civil or judicial power to turn to.
FOR A LITTLE AMUSEMENT you simply must read this article. doesn't involve alcohol, but it does involve deployment.
“Are we married?” he asked.

“Yes, we’re married,” Sabrina replied.

“Did we have fun?” he asked.

JUST TRY TO IMAGINE living like this for 20 years. Thanks to The Command Post for the lead to this article.
After two decades in hiding, an Iraqi man has finally emerged back into the real world - squinting at the unaccustomed light.
Twenty-one years ago, Saddam Hussein placed an execution order on Jawad Amir for supporting an outspoken Shia cleric.

Mr Amir escaped - not into a far-off town or neighbouring country, but into a space sandwiched between two walls in his parents' home.

He said for the whole of his hiding he never left that small, dark space and had only a tiny peephole to view the outside world.
INTERESTING VIEW of the long term solution in this global war on terrorism is at this Salt Lake Tribune Op Ed Piece.
The liberation of Iraq cannot be viewed in a vacuum: win the war, set up an interim government and bring the troops home. As we have said before, it is part of a larger mosaic, a mosaic that requires a sea of change in Middle East politics. Governments in Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia will either fall or be dramatically altered. The status quo cannot stand because with it stands bigotry, hatred and the logical consequence: terrorism. So it is critical that we understand our objective. We made the mistake in 1991 of limiting the objective to ousting Saddam's forces from Kuwait, and when the Iraqi Shiites rose up in rebellion at the end of that war, we stood by and allowed Saddam to slaughter them, gaining their enmity in the process.
ONCE A THUG always a thug. Palestinian diplomats in Baghdad arrested by US Soldiers for carrying illegal weapons. See it here.
THE POLES are sending 7000 peacekeepers into Iraq in July. Every little bit helps.
A FRANK DISCUSSION of the flagging morale of the 3d ID soldiers still in Iraq after six months. Included in the article is a discussion of efforts made to improve the soldiers' living and working conditions.
There are indications that the stress of combat, compounded by weeks of chasing looters and dealing with Iraqi demonstrators, has affected the troops. Leaders report more heated arguments between soldiers and more soldiers declining to re-enlist....

Blount said the Army is working to improve living conditions for the soldiers, making sure none are still living in tents and that they have running water and electricity. He said they have also begun distributing ice to soldiers to help keep them cool during walking patrols with more than 30 pounds of combat gear in 100-degree heat.
WEDNESDAY MAY 28th, the 17th day of CPT Patti's deployment. If everything is according to plan, CPT Patti and her convoy will arrive in Baghdad some time today. Forecast for Baghdad is hazy with highs of 99 and lows of 74. I have to believe that 74 degrees will feel like winter to our girl after the extreme heat of the Kuwaiti desert.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

FOR TROOPS IN IRAQ Memorial Day has a new meaning.
In the driver's room at the 2nd Brigade command post, where the average age is just 21, the men lost two colleagues in a missile attack and say Memorial Day will open wounds that haven't healed.

"It's not going to be a very good day for us," said Pfc. James Luhrs, 20, of Orlando, Fla. "We miss our friends, but we can't do nothing about it. We're still here."
AN EXCELLENT ARTICLE in the Washington Post on the challenges of building a real economy, not just democracy, in Iraq. Read the whole thing here...its a good one.
"A free economy and a free people go hand in hand," said Bremer, who arrived two weeks ago to run the occupation authority. "History tells us that substantial and broadly held resources, protected by private property, private rights, are the best protection of political freedom. Building such prosperity in Iraq will be a key measure of our success here."

Bremer spoke four days after the U.N. Security Council lifted economic sanctions imposed on Iraq more than 12 years ago after the Persian Gulf War. U.S. officials had complained that the sanctions, which they once favored as a way to force Hussein to comply with U.N. arms inspections and perhaps foment an uprising against him, had become a severe hindrance to postwar recovery.

But dismantling Iraq's state-managed system holds big risks for the occupation authority at a time when most Iraqis are struggling to get by. During Hussein's 24 years as president, he and his Baath Party drew on Iraq's oil wealth to subsidize the cost of basic items, creating something like a welfare state, and people came to expect these low prices. Many free-market advocates contend that subsidies distort economic incentives, retarding growth and ultimately harming consumers....

"This place was probably affected less by the forces of supply and demand than any place I have ever seen," said Peter McPherson, who is on leave as president of Michigan State University to serve as the senior U.S. adviser to Iraq's Finance Ministry. "This was an integrated economy -- pathological, but integrated. You can't really take one piece out, fix it, and put it back. It will have to be taken all apart, and you will have to allow the forces of supply and demand to function."...

"After decades of manipulation and management, the road to a free and flourishing economy will not be an easy one," Bremer said . "But we have already taken one big step, which was the end of the sanctions."

In the short term, however, Bremer said he plans to continue elements of the old system. On Sunday, the U.S. occupation authority will distribute the first food rations across Iraq since the end of the war.

Although severe economic problems remain, security has appeared to improve in recent days. The U.S. troop presence in Baghdad has risen dramatically in the past week, with the 1st Armored Division replacing the weary 3rd Infantry Division that fought its way into Baghdad on April 9. More and more Iraqis appear to be venturing outside their homes, even in the evenings, and shops are opening their shutters with more frequency.
A SUPERB ARTICLE found here likens the mission in Iraq today to that of the occupying forces in post-war Japan. And note the sanity check from an Army Officer near the end of the extract below.
In recent weeks, commanders have redirected a larger share of the U.S. troops in Iraq to the chores that accompany controlling and operating any large city such as Baghdad: patrolling the streets, staffing prisons, guarding valuable real estate, imposing gun control, restoring electricity and water distribution, and supervising trash collection.
"For the U.S. military to be occupying a country, trying to take charge of basic services, trying to keep order, really trying to make the country work from scratch, this is something we haven't seen since the 1940s," said Thomas Carothers, a foreign-policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former legal adviser to the State Department.
In some ways, Mr. Carothers said, the task for the U.S. military in Iraq, a country of more than 20 million, is more daunting than that faced by Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Japan 58 years ago. Unlike Iraq, Japan was a more unified society and had a fairly vibrant economy, with people who knew how to run it.
"I think we are just going to see a long, slow road to reconstruction," Mr. Carothers said. "Nothing will happen fast. There will be gradual improvements."...
An Army officer said in an interview that despite negative articles in the U.S. press about Baghdad's reaction to the occupation, the vast majority of Iraqis gladly accept the American presence.
"Only those that accompany troops on patrol see a different reaction of the population from those reporters that write their stories from the Palestine Hotel," said the officer, who asked not to be named. "In the hotel, they cook up stories of chaos and animosity toward our troops. The truth is that 99 percent of the locals are glad we're there."

THIS IS A NERVOUS day for me. Don't mean to be gloomy, but ignoring this possibility doesn't make it go away. Read it all here.
The latest assaults on U.S. troops in central Iraq yesterday -- the third in the past week -- occurred as the 1st Armored Division arrived to join the 3rd Infantry Division to double patrols in the Iraqi capital.

Attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns and small arms at an eight-vehicle supply convoy in what military officials described as an ambush at 6:15 a.m. near Haditha, 120 miles northwest of Baghdad, killing one soldier from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and injuring another.

Hours later, one soldier was killed and three wounded when a Humvee near Baghdad International Airport either ran over a land mine or was hit by another type of explosive that had been hurled at it, military officials said
PROGRESS IN THE form of an actual local election. See the rest here.
Sgt. Troy Ezernack, also of the 173rd, didn’t discount the importance of the day’s events — but had other reasons to take joy in seeing the election process come to fruition.

“It’s good they’re electing officials. It’s democracy come true, but I’m also happy for selfish reasons,” said the 37-year-old from Waskom, Texas. “I want to go home and the sooner they take control of their own city, the sooner I’m outta here.”
WHERE DO THEY get this stuff? And according to this article, this was the second such truck stopped this week.
KIRKUK, Iraq — U.S. soldiers seized $80 million to $100 million worth of crudely made, non-minted gold bars Sunday and detained three Iraqis heading east, possibly for the Iranian border, officials said Monday.

TUESDAY MAY 27th. The 16th Day of CPT Patti's deployment. If all goes according to plan today is the day CPT Patti will lead the first convoy of her battalion on the journey from Kuwait to Baghdad. They expect to arrive in Baghdad sometime on Wednesday. When they get to Baghdad they will see daytime high temperatures below one hundred degrees for the first time since arriving in Kuwait.

Monday, May 26, 2003

GOOD READING in this article discussing the significant differences in the way the 1st Armored Division will do things versus the 3d ID. Let's hope it gets better.
NIGHT OPERATIONS and foot patrols will be increased throughout the capital, commanders said. Also, by early June, the Army will fly helicopters over Baghdad for the first time, they said. The aircraft generally will not use their weapons but instead will conduct surveillance and support ground forces with searchlights, according to a series of command briefings.

As part of an effort to change the image of the U.S. force and make it seem at once more pervasive and less threatening, the big M-1 tanks that have dominated many major intersections and checkpoints for the past six weeks will be withdrawn and replaced by smaller Jeep-like Humvees, officers said.
BUT AS this article shows, we have yet a long way to go just to restore the basics in Baghdad
On Baghdad's streets, Iraqis have little praise for Bremer's fledgling administration.

"Things have become worse since he arrived. Gas lines are longer, garbage is piling up, there's no electricity, and security is so bad that people are too scared to allow their children to go to school," said Alaa Rasul, 47, a Baghdad handyman with 5 children.

"This is not freedom," he said. "This is chaos."

US GIVES ORDER for Iraqi civilians to turn in their weapons according to this story.That idea makes me feel better about CPT Patti being there...but I suspect we will find it harder than we believe to disarm this culture.
THE BEST DESCRIPTION I've seen so far of the conditions CPT Patti will live and work in once in Baghdad can be found here..
A large group of people here is going without electricity and running water, subsisting on barely palatable food and sweltering unhappily under the stunning Mesopotamian summer sun. The group, which counts thousands of loyal members in and around Baghdad, is heavily armed, but it does not pose a threat to the U.S. Army - it is the Army.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

JUST CHECKED THE forecast - on Tuesday, the day she is supposed to arrive in Baghdad, the high is to be 102 degrees. In Kuwait City? 109 degrees. It will feel like SPRING to CPT Patti when she gets to Baghdad. Yay!
YEE HAH! Just got a phone call from CPT Patti. She sounds compeletly wonderful, all full of spirit and happiness. She is still at Camp Udairi but will be leaving for Baghdad on Tuesday to arrive on Wednesday. She says that they will be sleeping in buildings (hooray!) and working out of the Iraqi Olympic Stadium - which has a 12 foot wall all the way around it. Folks, this is GREAT news!!!!
She also said she is adapting to the heat pretty well, and that she is eating well. The food at the contract dining facility is pretty good, according to our girl.

I can't tell you how good I feel after talking to her. It is amazing!