Saturday, June 21, 2003

POSTING WILL BE LATE ON SUNDAY. I will be away from my computer for much of the day.
At Friday prayers, imams preached anti-American sermons, claiming Jews are buying up real estate in Iraq. Based on groundless rumors, the warnings from pulpits, on leaflets and in Iraqi newspapers reflected Iraqis' fear and anger over the U.S.-led occupation.

Hmmmm - wonder why that whole "Allah wills it" thing doesn't seem to apply to our being there???

Get to the whole story by way of The Command Post.


Read about Hillary's revelations in her new book, as reported by The Onion.
INITIATIVE ALERT! There is a go to guy in Baghdad.
Just a few months ago, Ali Hammid Abdullah thought his life, at 42 years, was over. A lieutenant colonel in Saddam Hussein's army, he offended the regime and was slammed into prison, his family terrified, his own future narrowing to torture and a painful death...

With no government to turn to, Ali and his neighbors decided to make their own, forming a neighborhood council and taking responsibility for getting power and water up and running, cleaning up the sewage, arranging delivery of cooking gas canisters, clearing the schoolyards and every other detail of municipal life.

And the headache of it all -- the nitty-gritty, unsolvable, hair-tearing frustration of trying to run a city neighborhood with no money, office, phone or car -- fills Ali with pure elation...

Caffrey, a Hartford, Conn., lawyer and veteran civil affairs specialist serving as a reservist, finds the councils' emergence miraculous.

Under Saddam, he said, "anyone who displayed any initiative, anyone who stood up or stood out, was either killed or neutralized. These people have lived in fear for years, and the fact that they are standing up now is just astounding.

"It gives you an idea of how deeply these people want to be free."

Its a good story. Read it here.

(via Instapundit)

Even though public attention to Iraq has waned since the major fighting ended, Lagor-Silvia said more than 150,000 U.S. military personnel remain on duty in the country and remain in harm’s way.

"They are still there but we don’t hear anything about it," she said.

Their story is here.

In letters home, Kristopher, a 1996 graduate of Woonsocket High School, said his role in the war zone is challenging and yet rewarding.

"It truly is an experience everyday," Kristopher wrote his mother in a May 28th letter.

"I play judge jury and police. Yesterday and the day before that I solved civil issues regarding government property or government contracts that had been violated because of the war," he wrote.

In one case, he mediated between an Iraqi Oil Ministry official and a former Iraqi soldier in possession of an Oil Ministry vehicle.

Impressive, for a 25 year old State Trooper:

A top lieutenant to Saddam Hussein has told U.S. interrogators that the Iraqi leader and his two sons survived the U.S.-led war in Iraq and that he himself had fled to Syria with the sons after the conflict, Defense Department officials said on Friday.

Hmmm, would that be the same Syria as in this story?:

(June 9, 5:05 p.m. ADT) - Syria's president, seeking to allay U.S. concerns, said Monday his country stopped fleeing Iraqi officials at the border and turned back those who had slipped in.

U.S. officials had threatened sanctions against Syria, accusing it of harboring fleeing members of Iraq's ousted regime and of providing Iraq with military equipment.

Well, might be. Seems ACE did get expelled. As quoted from the first story above:

But Mahmud's claim that he and the sons had spent time after the war in Syria before being expelled by Syrian authorities adds a new element to that working theory...

Along with the information about Saddam's sons, the U.S. officials said he was providing information about Iraq's suspected program of weapons of mass destruction, and that he had contradicted evasive accounts from other former senior Iraqi officials now in U.S. detention.

Well this is most interesting. Seems to me we have a potential gold mine here. Because the only way Ace of Diamonds can ever bargain his way back to a life in this world at all is to give up Saddam.

If he doesn't cooperate, we lock him up for life. But if he does...he won't sleep well outside of prison unless Saddam is locked away or dead.

The plot thickens.

"I'm not going to lie to you," he said. "Every time you go out the gate, you get nervous, especially when people have been shooting at you for two months."

Col. Robert Knapp, a psychiatrist with the 113th Medical Co., said it was not unexpected that soldiers would begin to experience combat stress now, after the worst fighting ended. The searing reactions to combat, the fear, exhaustion, grief and guilt, are often suppressed in the heat of battle, he said, surfacing only when the pace of operations slows.

"They're told to suck it up and drive on," he said. "Sooner or later, they have to work it out."

Find out how they do that here.

U.S. forces broke into an abandoned community hall early Saturday and found piles of intelligence equipment and top secret documents bearing the seal of the former Iraqi secret service.

Upstairs above the hall, which also was used as a funeral parlor, the troops found two large rooms stacked with cryptograph machines, secure transmission devices and binders of documents, with more papers strewn on the floor.

Some of the documents made reference to Iraq's nuclear program, including manifests for the delivery of communications equipment to the Iraqi nuclear agency. One letter, dated Feb. 7, 1998, from the National Security Council of Iraq was addressed to the Iraqi Nuclear Organization, with a carbon to the Mukhabarat, the secret intelligence service.

Most of the equipment appeared to be old models, but some were still in their original boxes and had apparently never been used. They included equipment made by prominent U.S. and European companies like Motorola and Thompson...

About 50 soldiers from the 1st Armored Division, belonging to a unit nicknamed "the Gunners," sealed off part of Baghdad's Azamiya district with seven armored vehicles and stormed the building around 1 a.m.

After trying to break through the door with a sledgehammer, the troops were surprised when a squatter opened the lock from the inside and welcomed them in.

Read it all here.

About 100 soldiers turned out at the memorial service for Private First Class Shawn Pahnke of the 1st Armored Division, who was shot in the back by a sniper Monday...

Some wept as they remembered the 25-year-old soldier, whose helmet hung over his rifle, wedged upright into sandbags with his boots and name tags. His platoon sergeant, Dennis Duell, knelt alone by the pile of mementos after the service.

Seventeen American soldiers have been killed in hostile action in Iraq since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1.

Read it here.

This soldier was stationed in Friedberg as well.
Clutching photos of her slain son on Friday, Kim Smith had a couple of words for those with loved ones still on duty in Iraq.

"Baby wipes, folks," the woman said in all sincerity. "That was one of my son's biggest requests."

Smith was remarkably upbeat considering her plight. On Wednesday, she was informed that her son, Army Pfc. Robert Lewis "Robby" Frantz, 19, was killed in Baghdad when assailants attacked an undisclosed location he was guarding. A grenade tossed over a wall fatally injured Frantz, who enlisted in August 2002 and went to the combat zone only five weeks ago.

Read the whole story here.

SATURDAY, JUNE 21st. The 41st day of CPT Patti's deployment. Last contact with here was a card received last Tuesday. However, it was 6 days old at that point, so it's more like a couple of weeks.

But every little bit helps!

Friday, June 20, 2003

Regarding my post on the 18th which included the news item quote "For under Saudi law no woman--even an American--is free to leave that country if her father or husband forbids it."

Heard from a dear friend Never Been PC Guy who had this to say:
I had no problem with the story on the Saudi husbands/fathers being able to prevent their women from leaving the country.

Hell, I'd just like to be able to prevent mine from going to the mall :-)

And for that we award NBPC Guy with the coveted Good Point of the Day Award.

THE SINGLE BEST EXPLICATION I'VE READ OF THE MIDDLE EAST CONDITION. Victor Davis Hanson is a genius. Read him daily at National Review Online.
In reaction to this depressing daily fare, I often receive dozens of e-mails, phone calls, and questions during interviews that I could sum up as something like: 'Why don't we just leave them to themselves and go home?' The more systematic thinkers, sensing that such a solution is at best knee-jerk and incomplete, will add, "And then if they still attack us again, we can always hit back, bomb them, and leave."...

The answer to this dilemma is to accept that whatever we do, we shall be blamed for either too little or too much attention. Such are the inevitable wages of envy and resentment that the successful always earn from the weak and failed. That being said, there are also a number of other reasons why at the present juncture we must press ahead, contain our anger, and try to finish the nearly impossible — and absolutely thankless — task of defeating terrorists, and in Afghanistan and Iraq restoring humane government to tyrannized people.

First, the events of September 11 demonstrate that Clintonian lip biting and a few cruise missiles amid Middle East aggression earns disdain, not thanks, for magnanimity. Leave a Taliban Afghanistan alone or let Saddam's Iraq be, and in a decade you win 20,000 al Qaeda operatives training with impunity and the sons of Saddam re-armed with nuclear weapons, unless one prefers another twelve years of 350,000 sorties and $20 billion in no-fly-zones — three or four times over. The Middle East is not static and will not cease its anti-Americanism if left to its own good graces — inasmuch as the conditions that promote terror do not derive from American provocation, but arise out of indigenous pathologies...

So the problem is with their hypocritical and vocal leadership, not us — specifically their ambiguous relationship with the West and their creepy desire for Western material comforts, but not the underlying foundations of secularism, gender equity, consensual government, freedom, capitalism, and transparency that alone produce such prosperity. The best way to get America and the West out of millions of Islamic lives is not to burn effigies of George Bush in the Arab Street, but would be for Arab governments to prohibit immigration to the West, to stop importing Western material goods, and to bar decadent Westerners from entering Arab countries.

Any takers? The bitter truth is that the Middle East wants the West far more than the West the Middle East.

Indigenous pathologies indeed.

Take the time to read the whole thing here. You will be smarter and feel better for it.
On the ground floor of Al-Baday, a primary school in eastern Baghdad, 425 young girls spent their morning studying math and science lessons June 11. Above their heads, soldiers taking part in Task Force Neighborhood worked to make their school day a little more comfortable.

Projects for the day included replacing looted ceiling fans and electrical fixtures, rewiring damaged parts of the electrical system, replacing and re-hanging doors and repairing desks.

Read it here.


More on the Ace of Diamonds.
The night before his arrest, Mahmud, who once shuttled among presidential palaces, had slept on the floor in the living room. He was reduced to eating lumpy yogurt to calm his stomach, and complained of asthma, Awad said.

Read the whole thing here.
YEAH...THAT IS THE PROBLEM, ISN'T IT. We're not peacekeepers.
Some soldiers complain they are playing roles for which they are ill-prepared. In Baqubah, the domain of the 4th Infantry's 2nd Brigade, combat engineers who specialize in weapons demolition and building bridges have been given a new mission: to drive around in their M113 armored personnel carriers to fight crime.

"I don't know why they're keeping us around here," said Cpl. Anthony Arteaga, 25, of Hammond, La., who is assigned to the 588th Engineer Battalion. "We're not peacekeepers. We're heavy-combat engineers."

Good story as usual at the Washington Post.


Somebody check Revelations for me...
Israel will supply fresh produce and food to American forces serving in Iraq, Israel Radio reported. Agriculture minister proposed that the food be transferred via Jordanian suppliers.

Agrexco director Shlomo Tirosh will head the team in a deal reported to be worth hundreds of millions of shekels annually.

See the extract and find the link at The Command Post.

RECENTLY, a number of senators who are usually clean and sober suggested that American troops should be inserted to separate the Israelis and Palestinians.

That just may be the worst idea raised by any Americans since our public-housing authorities proposed building high-rise ghettoes for the poor. All men and women of common sense and conscience should resist sending our over-stretched forces on a hopeless mission that would butcher our soldiers for nothing...

Let's be straight: There is no peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and there will be nothing beyond brief truces until the Arab terrorist organizations are destroyed - and until Israel dismantles its most offensive settlements in the West Bank and Gaza...

But American troops, if dispatched to the West Bank and Gaza, would only separate those who already want peace, while providing the hardliners among the Arabs with a fresh and galvanizing provocation. Our soldiers would be a magnet for every terrorist between Marrakech and Manila.

The best way to promote peace isn't to create a shooting gallery featuring G.I. Joe. It's to hunt down and kill every single terrorist. The terrorists, not the average Ari or Ahmed, are the problem. They want every Jew dead, and then they want the power to impose their perverted religious views on the rest of the Palestinians.

If you want to make peace, you must make it over their corpses...

The fact is that we have a very small military for our global obligations. The Army in which I served - during the Cold War - had 18 divisions, plus numerous independent brigades and separate regiments. Frankly, we didn't have much to do but wait and watch the Russians get drunk across the thousand-mile fence that divided yesterEurope.

Today's Army consists of 10 divisions. Half of those are committed to Iraq. More forces serve in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Korea and, in smaller numbers, in dozens of other countries. The Army's strategic reserve here at home is just about large enough to execute a Saturday night raid on a mid-size whorehouse.

For the missions we already face, we need an Army of at least 12 divisions. But the Army won't get those additional forces. Stymied in his attempt to chop several divisions from our already-lean ground forces, Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld now proposes to transfer a quarter of a million military jobs to the private sector as a gift to big business.

I promise you: None of our soldiers wants FedEx delivering the ammunition during a firefight, which is essentially what Rummy's scheme proposes. It's a low-down shell game, designed to cheat our soldiers and our citizens.

Well - I don't know if it is designed to cheat the soldiers and citizens, but that would seem to be the effect.

A great read. Find it all here.

WOW. Great job at Camp Lejeune.
"They're coming back to a barracks that literally has nothing in there," said Michael Saunders, assistant coordinator of the Single Marines Program at Camp Lejeune. "This is just our way of saying, 'Hey, we're thinking of you guys and America's thinking of you.'"

Saunders said program officials have been working for three weeks, packing more than 10,000 bags with donated items that could fill four trucks.

Most of the bags that will be placed in barracks will contain a letter and small tokens from children thanking someone they've never met.

What you may not be aware of is that before the soldiers deploy, those who live in the barracks have everything they own packed up and put in a crate as if they were shipping the stuff overseas. So the barracks rooms really are totally empty, and these welcome home gifts are a super idea.

If you are a member of a Family Readiness Group, you might want to steal this idea for your company when the troops return.

The story is here.

Tradition helped shield top Hussein aide
In show of respect, family protected house guest

Associated Press
Originally published June 20, 2003

TIKRIT, Iraq - Saddam Hussein's top aide managed to evade U.S. forces for a few days by sleeping on a mat in the home of an Iraqi family who refused to turn him in because of the tradition in Arab and Muslim countries of protecting guests.

But Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti surrendered quietly Tuesday morning after informants' tips led U.S. forces to the home of Kafi Awad and her husband. Mahmud was Hussein's personal secretary and No. 4 on America's list of 55 most-wanted former regime figures.

"We couldn't tell him to leave our house," said Awad, whose husband, two adult sons and two brothers were also arrested. "We are Arabs. We always respect visitors to our house."

Only where there is no good nor bad - no right nor wrong - can one justify virtually anything. Are there any morals in this land?

Read the whole responsibility-dodging, just subscribing to custom claptrap here.

Franks used deception to pin down 13 Iraqi divisions in the north by keeping the equipment of the Army's 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) floating in the eastern Mediterranean Sea long after he knew he wouldn't be able to open a northern front. The Turkish government delayed and eventually denied permission to U.S. forces to move through its territory into northern Iraq.

"Part of that issue had to do with the fact that there were 11 regular Iraqi Army divisions and two Republican Guard divisions in the north, and I wanted them to stay there. ... We wanted some uncertainty in the mind of Saddam Hussein ... so I kept the force waiting long past the point where I knew it would not be introduced in the north," Franks said.

Read it all here.

RESTORING THE INTERNET TO BAGHDAD. I wish - but doubt - that this would result in improved communications for CPT Patti from Baghdad.

Following a two-month war hiatus, Iraq's Uruklink website is expected to return to the Internet this week.

Formerly the official homepage of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime, the site has been scrubbed clean of any traces of the fallen dictator, according to officials with Iraq's State Company for Internet Services, or SCIS.

Purging the government-controlled ISP of Saddam loyalists, however, is proving more difficult, says Ala'a Hassan Harif, 29, lead system administrator and research-and-development manager for SCIS.

"The problem is very global and very dangerous," said Harif. "The Iraqi people can't accept people who used to serve the old regime."

Interesting story...especially for tech-heads. Read it here.
TACTICS THAT HARKEN BACK TO VIET-NAM. There is no word for my level of disgust for those adults who involve their children in acts such as this.
"There is an increased danger," said Army Spec. Eric Harvey of Rochester. Until two days ago, Harvey was happy to accept soft drinks from boys hanging around his guard post outside the headquarters of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, which is running Iraq. On Wednesday, though, soldiers were ordered to stop doing so because some cans contained grenades.

Harvey, who has been in Baghdad since April, has witnessed all manner of sinister strikes. While driving down a street recently in a convoy, he watched as a boy waved cheerfully at soldiers with his right hand, then tossed a grenade into the road with his left.

It's another disadvantage the Army has in these types of missions versus full on combat.

In combat US doctrine is offensive in nature. We seize the initiative and never let it go.

Among the most effective aspects of US warfighting doctrine is the speed with which we fight and the lethality we bring to bear. We are never in one place for very long, always pushing forward to some objective and when dealing with enemy forces we have the firepower to force them to capitulate or die.

Contrast that to the static nature of the current mission which eliminates the speed advantage, and the lack of defined enemy forces at which to direct all that lethality.

We therefore find ourselves in an inherently defensive situation.

And that is much more dangerous.

Read it all here.
FASCINATING POSSIBILITY WITH FRIGHTENING POTENTIAL. If he is guess is it will be a human being, not communications intercepts that provides the key to finding him
Former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein is probably alive and hiding somewhere in Iraq, judging from intercepted communications among his supporters, The New York Times said on Friday quoting US officials.

Besides the lack of physical evidence that he died in two US airstrikes on Baghdad - on March 20 and April 7 - during the war on Iraq, the officials believe Hussein is behind the surge of armed attacks against US forces.

"These guys are growing in resistance, and they're still being troublesome, and you have to ask what's motivating them," a defence official said, adding that recent intelligence reports indicated that Hussein and his inner circle were trying to garner support inside the country.

See it all here.

NEFARIOUS FORCES AT WORK IN IRAQ. While sabotaging utilities they are at once also sabotaging what little patience remains of average Iraqi citizens.

Stir up more trouble and resentment against the US for its "failure" at reconstruction...and those who oppose the US Vision for Iraq (democratic, free, prosperous and secular) progress toward their own causes.
Khalil said it was possible the rocket was intended for the American tanks but missed and slammed into the transformer behind them. Employees were assessing the damage to see what could be salvaged.

Sabotage against power and water installations has been a key element of the anti-American resistance, which has been growing in recent days despite U.S. officials insistence that it is not being organized centrally.

Despite efforts to increase electricity generation, the U.N. Development Program reported Thursday that power delivery to Baghdad fell to 800 megawatts from 1300 megawatts two weeks ago. It attributed the fall to the sabotage of power lines and breakdowns caused by daytime temperatures reaching 113 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read the entire story here.
GOOD UP-CLOSE ACCOUNT of the attack on the 3d ID this week.
A sweet tooth might have prevented injury or death to the soldiers of 6th Platoon, 3rd Military Police Company, and 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, both of the 3rd Infantry Division.

The soldiers stopped a few moments before their planned 11 p.m. rendezvous to buy cups of soft serve ice cream from a local vendor — about 800 meters from the police station.

At 10:58, “Ka-boom!”

Short bursts of what sounded like an AK-47 followed.

“We gotta go,” team leader Sgt. Ron Mbuthia shouted to his team as they scurried to two armored Humvees and dashed up the street to investigate. “Go, go, go!”

After briefly inspecting the police station, and the roughly 2-foot crater in the graveled front yard, the MPs and infantry soldiers gave chase to a suspicious white car.

Read the whole thing here.
In Manhattan, Ill., flags are flying at half-staff for Pvt. Shawn Pahnke.

Now, the 3,100 or so people in this town near Chicago are waiting for him to come home.

Pahnke (prounced PANK-kee), 25, was killed Monday night outside Baghdad, the 50th American soldier to die in Iraq since May 1. Pahnke was assigned to the Friedberg, Germany-based Company C, 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, part of the 1st Armored Division‘s 1st Brigade.

He was on patrol, riding in the back of an unarmored Humvee when a sniper shot him in the back at about 11:50 p.m., according to military officials and media reports.

Family, friends and residents “are basically awaiting word” of when Pahnke will return, said Karen Cimarolli, assistant to Shawn Pahnke’s father, Tom Pahnke, Manhattan’s village administrator.

By the way...the flag is at half-staff here in Friedberg too.

The rest is here.

NEXT TIME YOU ARE LOOKING AROUND FOR A WORTHY ORGANIZATION to donate to...try the USO who we have to thank for this event.
There’s nothing like a couple of rock stars, a Playboy pin-up model, a Hollywood movie star and a few sports celebrities to get a hangar of 7,000 troops hoopin’ and hollerin’ — especially when the superstars are there to say “thank you.”

Hangar 42 at Baghdad International Airport became a sweaty sea of brown shirts and desert cammies Thursday as Kid Rock, Leann Tweeden, Gary Sinise and others took center stage to perform.

I can't be sure if any of the Gators got to go to this USO sponsored event. I hope they did.

And though this wouldn't do much for CPT Patti...most of the troops in Iraq would find Leann Tweeden to be a marvelous morale booster...n'est-ce pas?

FRIDAY, JUNE 20th. The 40th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Or...scripturally...40 days and 40 nights.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

UPDATE: I missed this report earlier in the week.

It regards Private Pahnke, the young man killed by sniper fire on the 17th in Baghdad.

He died at the 501st Forward Support Battalion Aid Station. Those are our guys.

I know they are just heartsick they couldn't save him.

A soldier assigned to the First Armored Division died of a gunshot wound from enemy gunfire early this morning in the Northwest section of Baghdad.

The soldier, taking part in a patrol, was sitting in a military vehicle, when he was struck in the back by a small caliber bullet at about 11:50pm (local).

The patrol leader immediately secured the area and a combat medic began first aid to the wounded soldier. The patrol then transported the soldier to a nearby military compound where he was transferred to a ground ambulance and transported to the 501st forward support batallion aid station where he later died.
At least one American soldier was killed and two others were wounded Thursday in a rocket-propelled grenade attack on a U.S. military ambulance in southwest Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

The ambulance was transporting a wounded U.S. soldier to a medical facility when it was hit at about noon while on a highway in al-Iskandariyah, about 20 miles south of Baghdad.

The wounded soldier who was being transported in the ambulance was not the one who was killed, said Capt. John Morgan, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad. The casualties were members of the Army's 804th Medical Brigade and their identities were being withheld pending notification of relatives.

The wounded were taken to an Army support hospital in southwest Baghdad. It was not immediately clear if the ambulance was traveling as part of a convoy or if fire was returned.

There is more. Read it here.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN LEADERS fail to do their duty and pass their problem soldiers along.

Testimony on SGT Akbar. And it isn't good.
Evangalista, a platoon leader, testified that he had reason to suspect that something was wrong with the sergeant, who Evangalista said had a lengthy history of foul-ups and strange behavior.

''He would pace back and forth, staring at the ground, talking to himself like he was in another world,'' Evangalista said. ''It would give everybody an uneasy feeling.''

Evangalista said he often had to repeat orders to Akbar several times. ''He was looking at me, but when I was done I'd say 'Sgt. Akbar, have you got that?' I'd have to explain it all over again,'' he said.

Testimony from 10 witnesses presented yesterday added to an unflattering portrait of the accused noncommissioned officer.

• Staff Sgt. Billy George Rogers testified that Akbar had called him before deployment to ask if American soldiers would ''rape and plunder'' Iraqi women and children. ''We won't be raping anybody or anything like that,'' the staff sergeant testified he told the soldier.

• Akbar's performance was labeled ''substandard.'' First Sgt. Daniel E. Bates said Akbar was a soldier who needed ''a lot of teaching, coaching and mentoring.''

• His poor leadership skills led some to question whether Akbar should be left at Fort Campbell with the unit's rear detachment when the engineer unit deployed.

Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Kumm testified that he recommended that Akbar be left at home.

''I did not want him to deploy. If there had been a job at Fort Campbell, that's where I'd want him to be,'' Kumm said.

Kumm said his request to leave Akbar behind had been denied.

He said superiors replied: ''You will take him. We need the numbers. We need to be at full strength going into Iraq.''

Kumm said he had reason to want to leave Akbar behind.

''Mine was the fourth platoon to get him,'' Kumm testified.

Overall, Kumm said, Akbar was a poor performer in the unit.

''I didn't want him to go because of his inability to lead soldiers and his incompetence as a NCO (noncommissioned officer),'' Kumm said.

Read the rest on this loser here.
An Arabic-speaking Army general of Lebanese descent has been nominated to replace Gen. Tommy Franks as head of U.S. Central Command, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

Abizaid, a grandson of Lebanese immigrants, speaks fluent Arabic, which he studied at a university in Jordan. He also holds a master's degree in Middle East studies from Harvard and has said he loves the region's people and culture.

See it all here.

I can't link to the story, its a registered site. But the New York Times reports...
Between 20,000 and 30,000 allied troops from more than a dozen nations will begin arriving in Iraq in mid-August to replace some of the American forces leading the military occupation there, Pentagon officials said today.

The international forces — from countries including Italy, Spain, Ukraine and Honduras — would join divisions led by Britain, Poland and perhaps another country, possibly India, and assume responsibilities for parts of central and southern Iraq.

How many American troops will remain in Iraq depends largely on the security situation there and how many other nations ultimately send forces, officials said. There are now about 146,000 American troops in Iraq, just 5,000 fewer than at the peak of the war. About 12,000 troops from Britain and seven other countries are also on the ground.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee today, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and Gen. Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pentagon was aggressively recruiting dozens of countries to contribute forces for peacekeeping and reconstruction duties.

"We have about 20,000 additional coalition troops that have been volunteered by countries to go to theater within the next 60 to 90 days," General Pace said. He said discussions were under way with another unidentified country to provide 10,000 troops.

But both officials acknowledged that prodding other nations to sign up has been difficult, even after a United Nations resolution last month cleared the way for other countries to begin contributing.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday that the United States is considering a plan to offer plea bargains to captured Iraqi officials who could help locate chemical or biological weapons.
"It's a perfectly reasonable proposal, and lawyers are considering it," Rumsfeld said during a news conference at the Pentagon.

A decision hinges on whether giving Iraqis some form of immunity would be worthwhile. "What do we think we can get by way of information or validation or assistance in exchange for what we'd have to give up? Those are the calculations," Rumsfeld said.

It is completely predictable however, the moment we begin cutting deals, those on the other side will howl with mixed messages.

One will be that we are going easy on those guilty of crimes against humanity. Another will be that any information obtained in such a deal is trumped up, tainted, suspect or invalid.

All in all I think we need to squeeze the Ace of Diamonds a bit before we start cutting deals.

Read the whole thing here.


At the same time I'm getting the feeling that folks will say just about anything to the press.

Or the press can find folks who will say just about anything. So I'm reading this story with a grain of salt, just in case.
A top American ground commander, Maj. Gen. Ray Ordierno, chief of the 4th Infantry Division conducting anti-resistance raids north of Baghdad, described his enemy as a mix of Ba'ath Party loyalists, Fedayeen Saddam paramilitaries, ex-intelligence service members and poor Iraqis who are being paid to kill Americans.

"They're being paid by ex-Ba'ath Party loyalists, who are paying people to kill Americans," Gen. Ordierno told reporters at the Pentagon via a tele-press conference from Iraq. "But from a military perspective, it is insignificant. They're having no impact on the way we conduct business on a day-to-day basis in Iraq."

The Washington Times in Tuesday's editions quoted an ex-Iraqi military officer as saying the resistance was offering more than $700 to kill an American. Since May, 42 American troops have died in Iraq in accidents and hostile fire.
AN INSIGHTFUL LOOK AT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A JOURNALIST and his Iraqi "minder" before and after the war.
Eventually there were so many reporters and crews in town that government officials were seconded from different ministries. Sadoun was one of them. Soon he became our dedicated minder.

Of course it was an odd relationship. It seemed he liked working with us - but this was a man whose job it was to prevent me doing mine the way I wanted.

Conversely, I was always pushing him not to do his job to the best of his ability...

... Considering we worked so closely, I got to know remarkably little about the man. He told me he was married with children. I never asked him too much about his personal life, neither did he about mine - and thank goodness.

I always had to pretend I lived in Amman, Jordan. In fact, I live in Jerusalem, in the hated "Zionist entity".

Now Saddam has gone, and the Sadoun in front of me is a changed man. For a start, he looks five years younger.

Its a real good read. See it here.
THE SCOPE OF MR. BREMER'S JOB is mindboggling. To create a democracy in a country without such create a private economy in a country where 90% of workers were previously employed by the state. Daunting.

Here is a pretty good rundown on the man upon whose shoulders the long term success seems to ride.
In the end, a bond was forged. "We are with you," the sheik declared.

Dispatched to Baghdad five weeks ago by President Bush to lead the U.S. effort to rebuild Iraq, Bremer has emerged not just as the day-to-day administrator of the occupation but also as the central architect of Iraq's political future.

He is using negotiation, persuasion and outright fiat to recruit a new crop of leaders who he hopes will lead the country of 25 million people toward democracy.

But until then -- national elections could be two years away -- Bremer has made it clear that he is in charge.

In the past few weeks, he has signed a range of far-reaching executive orders to waive import tariffs, seize Baath Party assets, ban heavy weapons and claim licensing power over telecommunications services.

When several college presidents asked him to lift a travel ban that had been imposed on academics by Saddam Hussein's government, Bremer promised to do so by the end of the day.

POSTING MAY BE A BIT LIGHT TODAY. My ability to reach the internet is limited today.
THIS ISN'T GOOD. And in some ways demonstrates how the US Army finds itself at a disadvantage in these types of situations.

You may recall back during the war our artillery was all over the place. And during the war the Field Artillery guys had some very nifty radar devices that connect to the Artillery systems in order to perform what is known as counter-battery fire. This radar detects mortar fire (among other things), triangulates the position of the offending mortar, then our artillery tubes rain down upon the poor slobs in a matter of moments.

But it is a whole lot more difficult to make that work when you no longer have a sense of a line dividing our side from theirs. And in the peacekeeping mode, well, we just are sorta plopped in there amongst them.
A mortar shell has hit a coalition office in a town north of Baghdad, killing one Iraqi and injuring 12 others.

The US military said the 82mm mortar round crashed onto the Civil Military Operations centre in Samarra, an office that co-ordinates military and civilian humanitarian aid.

American soldiers said they heard three explosions. Local police arrived at the scene and found the dead and wounded.

"Soldiers were unable to respond or find the perpetrators," US Central Command said in a statement.

Read it here.
THURSDAY JUNE 19th. The 39th day of CPT Patti's deployment. That is 39 v - e - r - y --- l - o - n - g days.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

American forces have captured Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti, Saddam Hussein's presidential secretary and No. 4 on the U.S. most-wanted list of Iraqi leaders, the U.S. military said Wednesday...

...Third in power only to the former Iraqi president and his younger son, Qusai, Mahmud controlled access to Saddam and was one of the few people he is said to have trusted completely, a U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

American troops raided two farmhouses and found $8.5 million in American cash, 300 million to 400 million Iraqi dinars and an undetermined amount of British pounds and Euros, said Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of the Army's 4th Infantry Division. The troops also found more than $1 million worth of gems and jewels, he said.

The troops captured one of Saddam's bodyguards and up to 50 other people believed to be tied to Saddam's security or intelligence forces or paramilitary groups, Odierno told Pentagon reporters in a video news conference from his headquarters in Tikrit.

``I believe over the next three to four days, you will hear much more about the number of senior Iraqi individuals we have detained here over the last couple of days,'' Odierno said...

Yes. Let us hope so.

UPDATE: Heard and interesting commentary on the radio about this. Says that if this guy failed to get out of Iraq and into some posh hiding place...then something went very very wrong with the escape plans of the regime elite.

Again...let us hope so.

SORRY I CAN'T LINK TO THIS OPINION PIECE but the web site reqires a subscription. So I'll extract the pithy points.
With his candid, on-target observations on Belgium and its attempts to book U.S. military men for "war crimes," Donald Rumsfeld has again reinforced his image as the grandfatherly face of Ugly Americanism. To anti-Bushies everywhere he is now the very emblem of the evils they impute to the administration: hubris, mixed with disregard for others and a dangerous naivete about the ways of the world.

But in fact, for someone said to be oblivious to other societies, the Pentagon chief was displaying a keen understanding of one small country half a world away from his own. His comments at a press conference here last week were merely statements of fact. They were, moreover, restrained.

The facts were irksome enough: a radical provocateur by the name of Jan Fermon has filed a completely baseless suit in a Belgian court against the Iraq war commander, General Tommy Franks, and a Marine Colonel, Bryan McCoy, alleging that they were responsible for war crimes in Iraq. Oh, and these suits came on the back of others against former President George H.W. Bush, General Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded the first Gulf War, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell...

Now, Belgium can fancy itself a "plucky little country" that allows leftist lawyers to file frivolous suits against world leaders. Or it can take its responsibilities as host of NATO headquarters seriously (along with the half-billion or so dollars that come with it in benefits, each year). But it can't do both. A military headquarters is after all where soldiers mill about. Mr. Rumsfeld raised hackles by merely observing that if Belgium continued to be inhospitable to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the alliance may have to find new digs...

..."Now, it's obviously not for outsiders, non-Belgians, to tell the Belgian government what laws it should pass, and what laws it should not pass," he said. "With respect to Belgium's sovereignty, we respect it -- even though Belgium appears not to respect the sovereignty of other countries. But Belgium needs to realize that there are consequences to its actions."

"This law calls into serious question whether NATO can continue to hold meetings in Belgium and whether senior U.S. officials, military and civilian, will be able to continue to visit international organizations in Belgium. I would submit that that could be the case for other NATO Allies, as well."

Given the insolence of this law, Mr. Rumsfeld's comments were even courteous. But right on cue, some Europeans were offended. German Defense Minister Peter Struck accused Mr. Rumsfeld of "theatrics." "NATO is doing fine in Brussels," he asserted. Nor were the Europeans alone. American critics of Mr. Rumsfeld and of the Bush administration in general were sent into a deep blue funk... (credit, Wall Street Journal Europe)


Some British troops sent to the front line in Iraq were issued with only five rounds of ammunition, soldiers have told visiting MPs.

James Gray, whose North Wiltshire constituency contains a large number of Army garrisons, said soldiers from the Royal Logistics Corps were given so little ammunition that they pooled it to give those on the front line more...

..."It's pretty silly to be given just five bullets in case you are shot at," Mr Gray said. "It's all or nothing really and with five bullets you may as well have nothing.

Were this an American congressman this would have been "an outrage". But Mr. Gray says "it's pretty silly."

The whole story is here.

If that link doesn't work it is because the Telegraph requires registration. Believe you can do that at

The deputy director at Raleigh-Durham International Airport is retiring, but plans to start work next month as the head manager at Baghdad International Airport.

R.C. Shackelford, 56, has been at RDU 16 years. He was hired for the Baghdad job by Serco, the private British company contracted by the United States to oversee five Iraqi airports.

"This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and you need to seize it," Shackelford said.

His job will be to restart commercial and cargo operations at the battle-scarred airstrip.

Read it here.
FROM THE PEOPLE WHO PROMISED US THE MOTHER OF ALL BATTLES. Found this story at Fox News, but no sign of it on the Washington Times website yet.
Muslim extremists and Saddam loyalists (search), despite their dislike for each other, are now joining forces in Iraq for what one former Iraqi brigadier general calls a "spectacular" act against coalition troops.

The Washington Times says leaflets and papers circulating in Baghdad call for "either victory or martyrdom" in a cooperative effort that will go well beyond the shootings in the past few weeks.

But it's apparently not just mutual hatred of the United States that's bringing these groups together. The brigadier general says he agreed to join the Islamist extremists because "otherwise they'll come tomorrow and throw hand grenades into my house and at my wife and kids."

The U.S. military says two attackers shot and killed an American soldier and wounded another as they were guarding a propane gas station in Baghdad.

A witness says the gunmen approached the squad of troops at the station on foot and shot the soldiers from close range. The attackers reportedly ran to a waiting getaway car and escaped.

The soldier is the second American killed this week in Baghdad, as hit-and-run attacks on U.S. forces continue.

I can find no mention of locale of this incident and thus cannot speculate as to if this might be a 1st Brigade soldier.

But we do seem to own the worst real estate in Baghdad
IF YOU HAPPEN TO SEE THIS MEDIA CAMPAIGN touting Saudi Arabia as a "modern nation with normal people living normal lives.” you might also want to attempt to reconcile that with this story.
If only Sarah Saga were trying to crash a men's-only golf club. Then she and those like her might be guaranteed some sustained media coverage. As it is, this intrepid 23-year-old American mother is now holed up with her two children in the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah in a desperate bid for freedom.

Back in September Prince Bandar, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S., claimed in this newspaper it is "absolutely not true" that any American women were in his country against their will. Ms. Saga's flight to the consulate suggests otherwise. For under Saudi law no woman--even an American--is free to leave that country if her father or husband forbids it.

...What makes Saudi Arabia so unpleasantly distinctive is that if you are unlucky enough to be an American female, your husband or father effectively remains your jailor if he so chooses, backed up by the full powers of the Saudi state.

Normal people living normal lives indeed.
SADDAM AND THE BA'ATH PARTY as weapons of mass destruction, part 3.

Read this account by a British Member of Parliament.
Just a few days before the Americans arrived, they said, the remaining prisoners had been killed; stood in trenches up to their waists and shot through the head.

In the corridors there are murals of Saddam Hussein: Saddam with a hawk on his shoulder; Saddam with a rocket-launcher and a dove in the barrel; Saddam in a silk shirt with a cigar. His victims were taken from dark and overcrowded cells to the execution block with its ceiling hooks and levers that catapulted them to a grisly death in the pits below. Some were still alive. The guards then broke their necks by standing on them.

Good piece. Read the whole thing here.

(Via Instapundit)
FOR SOME REASON I CAN'T LINK to the actual story in the Australian press. But I found this story at The Command Post. According to Australian Prime Minister Howard:
"I had some investigations made through the Office of National Assessments and I have been informed as follows: that United States and United Kingdom intelligence agencies have concluded that at least one of the three vehicle trailers found in Iraq is a mobile production, biological weapons production facility," Mr Howard said.

Strong statement...let's see where this goes.

WELL SERGEANT, KILLING IS WHAT ARMIES DO. But rape? It wouldn't occur to most.

But then, neither would murdering ones brothers in arms.
According to Hodges, "Sgt. Akbar had made spontaneous statements related to the incident stating that he had done this act because we, or American soldiers, were going to kill and rape Muslims," Maier testified.

If they find this guy guilty, then I move we vote him off our island. The story is here.

WELL, I GET THAT. But by my count there are only 4 companies out of about 21 in the brigade that even have any female soldiers in them. CPT Patti's Gators and the medical company are going to have the bulk of those.

The entrepreneur in me sees a business opportunity for an enterprising Iraqi to put a lot of muslim women on the payroll as searchers.
"There's no doubt that unrelated men even touching Muslim women is not allowed in our religion. If they really want to respect the Muslim people, they have to use women soldiers to search women." -- Sheikh Muhammad Mahmoud al-Samarayee, a cleric at Baghdad's Imam al-Adham seminary, on incidents of male U.S. soldiers frisking Iraqi women
ITS UNCLEAR IF THIS IS THE SAME PROTEST but you can bet that when soldiers "fix bayonets" it can have a persuasive effect.
U.S. forces dispersed the crowd, using fixed bayonets.

That story is here.

SOME MORE FALLOUT FROM Operation Desert Scorpion. The article says this happened in the "Karrada" section of Baghdad. I can't find that spelling, but "Karada" is on the peninsula near Baghdad University and if that is the same area it would be in the 1-36 Infantry area.
U.S. troops opened fire Wednesday during an Iraqi demonstration outside the main gate of the presidential compound, an AP photographer reported. Demonstrators said there were several casualties, but the claim could not be confirmed.

Several hundred Iraqis gathered outside the gate and began throwing stones at the guards of the sprawling complex. Gunfire rang over the area in response, the photographer said.

The whole thing is here.

WE HAVE KNOWN FOR SOME TIME that the communities of Giessen and Friedberg will be closing. Word was that the 1st Brigade would relocate to Grafenwoehr, a major US Army training area south of here.

But this article seems to imply the 1st Brigade might relocate back to the USA - but doesn't come right out and say it.

Don't overlook the discussion of rotational units and retention (reenlistment) rates later in the story.

The Army has approved a three-year plan to shut down a cluster of bases in the Giessen area north of Frankfurt by 2008, the Pentagon announced in May. Home to the 1st Armored Division’s 1st Brigade and the 284th Base Support Battalion, about a dozen facilities in the Giessen area will be affected.

...According to a 2000 study by the Rand Corp., relying more on rotational forces in Europe “would entail substantial retention costs.”

...Comparing those units that did deploy from the States on six-month tours with those that came from Europe, the study found that retention rates plummeted among the U.S.-based units. Of those units, 39 percent fewer soldiers with families opted to stay in the Army.

Interpretation: Reenlistment rates go down as deployments increase and such a move by the Army means deployments will increase. And as I sit here with no idea when my darling wife will come home, well, that dog won't hunt.

The whole story is here.

APPEARS TO ME THE WHOLE BLEEDING COUNTRY is content to rest on its laurels. First we have unmitigated looting in a land that claims itself to be the "cradle of civilization". And then there is this story.
U.S. authorities announced creation of a new criminal court Tuesday and a panel to purge judges loyal to Saddam Hussein. The U.S. military said a sweep of loyalist strongholds resulted in 400 arrests, and an American soldier was killed in Baghdad.

The reforms announced by L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. official in Iraq, are designed to improve a judicial system that catered to Saddam's desires rather than the rule of law.

...Some judges and lawyers scoffed at what they called U.S. interference in their courts.

"The Americans are an occupation force and we are the source of one of the oldest codes of law -- Hammurabi's Code," judge Qassem Ayyash said. "It's like teaching a driver how to drive."

That's as may be, however this extract from Hammurabi's Code reads like something from a Monty Python sketch.

If any one bring an accusation against a man, and the accused go to the river and leap into the river, if he sink in the river his accuser shall take possession of his house. But if the river prove that the accused is not guilty, and he escape unhurt, then he who had brought the accusation shall be put to death, while he who leaped into the river shall take possession of the house that had belonged to his accuser.

And this link proves I don't make this stuff up.

THE FIRST FATALITY OUT OF THE 1st Brigade is identified as a young man from Indiana who had yet to lay eyes on his newborn son. He was in Charlie Company, 1-37 Infantry.
But the bullet really didn't stop there.

In Shelbyville, Ind., it shattered the lives of his wife, Elisha; their 3-month-old son, Dean Patrick, who will never meet his father; and Elisha's parents -- whose peaceful home was shaken by a knock on the door at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

"(A soldier) came to the door and asked for Elisha, and I went back to her bedroom and she was feeding the baby . . . but she knew immediately," said Merrol "Butch" Callis, her father. "It was just devastation. We couldn't believe it happened to us."

And in Manhattan, Ill., Tom and Linda Pahnke are struggling to make sense out of the death of their youngest son, whose job was to work in an armored tank.

"I wish he would have been in his tank," said Tom Pahnke. "He was so proud to be in the Army. And proud to be a tanker.

"Unfortunately, he was in a Humvee and not in his tank."

Read the whole sad story here.
JUST A REMINDER OF THE HUGE NUMBER OF TROOPS we still have in the region supporting this effort.

Between you and me...lets hope nobody else tries to pick a fight with us right now.
Large-scale military raids continued in Baghdad and across a broad arc of territory north and west of the capital, resulting in the arrest of more than 400 people since Monday, military officials said.

Several thousand troops from the 1st Armored Division, the 4th Infantry Division, the 101st Airborne Division, the 3rd Infantry Division and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment were involved in the raids, which have been mounted to try to suppress pockets of resistance that are fomenting small scale attacks on U.S. forces.

The whole story is here.

Resistance to U.S. troops is growing daily here, as Baghdad residents cope with 115-degree heat without reliable electricity, water or other utilities.

Tempers are soaring with the temperature as checkpoints choke down already congested roadways and tank convoys tear up streets.

"Americans are doing nothing for the Iraqi people," said Haider Jasim, 23, a student of Iraqi history at the Mustansiriya University in Baghdad.

"During the reign of Saddam Hussein, things were better, everything worked. We had water and power."

Uh-huh. But why stop at water and power. Why not also recall you had torturings and disappearing relatives and one maniac and his two sons stealing the profits from the world's second largest oil reserves.

Read this bit of selective memory here.
OUR GUYS DOING GOOD AGAIN. 1st Brigade and 16th Engineer soldiers. And this is one of the better good news stories I've read lateley about the situation in Baghdad .
“What we need are labs, badly,” said Amhed Jaafar, 18, a pharmaceutical student in his first year at the university. “[Looters] destroyed all of them, and now we work under heat with no lights, but we still study. … The situation is sad, and it wasn’t the [U.S.] troops, it was a reaction from the people who lived many years under oppression.”

Marwan Hamed, 25, is part of a 10-student team named the Pioneer Group, a band of students formed April 24 who, armed with AK-47 rifles, patrol the university grounds at night, watching for and confronting would-be looters and robbers.

“One night, they came to a building and they tried to burn [it]. They were threatening us with guns, and we shot at them,” Hamed said.

“This is my college, my home, my country. I love it and I won’t permit any person to destroy it.”...

...Much of the work that has been done to restore the university would not have been possible without the U.S. Army, and Al-Hiti said he owes the military a debt of gratidude.

Read the whole thing here.

WEDNESDAY, June 18th. The 38th day of CPT Patii's deployment. I got a card from her (the first piece of mail) yesterday.

Apparently the magic mail truck arrived yesterday. One of my coworkers received 8 letters from her husband yesterday covering the span of May 26th through the 10th of June.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

WHOOOO HOOOOOO! Just got back from the mail room where I got my first piece of mail from CPT Patti down range. The post mark says 11 June (only 6 days to get here!!)

In part here is what she has to say.

I got 3 more boxes from you today. You know how I love getting mail. Its even better when you send me several little boxes...its like Christmas!

Living here in Baghdad is steadily getting better. Each day we are making improvements. Our living quarters are buildings for now...

Anyway we are really doing good. Mission is very busy which makes the day pass quickly.

Keep sending your wonderful packages. Beef jerky would be nice.

I bought some beef jerky on the way home. But you can too, if you like.
IRAN WATCH. Mid-easterners taking to the streets, protesting, chanting.

Happens every day.

But this time it is pro-democracy and aimed against the theocracy.

And somehow it has a ring authenticity to it. How nice it would be if they could pull this off without us.
Westerners may have difficulty imagining what these people are like. In fact, it's quite easy: Simply remember the Taliban. The only difference is that they don't wear Afghani clothes.

In the past few nights, my peers — and our mothers and sisters — have poured into the streets of our city. Some of us have been arrested and many have been injured by the ruthless attacks of Ansaar-e-Hezbollah. These people attack whomever they see in the streets with tear gas, sticks, iron chains, swords, daggers, and, for the last two nights, guns.

It has become almost routine for us to go out at night, chant slogans, get beaten, lose some of our friends, see our sisters beaten, and then return home.

Read the rest here.
A SUPERBLY DETAILED AND WELL WRITTEN ARTICLE about what really happened to PFC Jessica Lynch, and the convoy from the 507th Maintenance Battalion.
"Crying all the time," recalled Khalida Shnan, a nurse who wept herself when describing how she tried to comfort Lynch by singing to her night and rubbing talc on her shoulders. Mahdi Khafaji, an orthopedic surgeon, said he knew that sooner or later U.S. troops would come for Lynch and "we wanted to show the Americans that we are human beings."

Its lengthy...but worth the read here.
I'VE OPENED AN EMAIL ACCOUNT TO WHICH READERS CAN send their comments. It is posted at the links block.

But since you are reading it here the address is

Note that I've simply squashed together the words CPT Patti in Baghdad.
Iraq's U.N. ambassador during the dying days of Saddam Hussein's regime now says that his government deserved to be overthrown and that he would accept a trial for the former dictator.

But Mohammed al-Douri argued in a rare television interview being broadcast Monday that the Iraqis -- and not the U.S.-led coalition -- should have been the ones to oust Saddam.

Sheesh. Read this exercise in revisionist denial here.

A group of delegates meeting this week are hoping to get Iraq's Olympics program back up and running in time for Iraqi athletes to compete in the 2004 Athens Games.

On Monday, the Olympic officials discussed ways to rebuild Iraq's sports infrastructure...

..."Our priority is to ensure that Iraqi men and women have the opportunity to prepare and compete in the next Olympic Games," said Pere Miro, IOC director...

...Iraq's Olympic committee had been run by Saddam Hussein's elder son, Odai, who was accused of torturing, jailing and even killing athletes who did not perform well. The abuses all but devastated the program, leaving the country with only four athletes at the 2000 Olympics.

The whole story is here.
A VERY WELL WRITTEN ARTICLE HERE about the efforts we are making, and the width of the cultural divide.
Constantly sweating in Baghdad's brutal summer heat, the men of the 82nd stopped traffic for old women to cross the street, ordered double-parking motorists to move on and endured, with surprisingly good humor, the swarms of children and teenagers who won't leave them alone.

They obliged passers-by who wanted to pose next to them for photographs and administered first aid to a boy with a cut on his hand. In a society that was notorious for its corruption under Saddam, they sought to demonstrate the notion of one law for everyone, admonishing a police officer in front of bemused onlookers for leaving his car in a no-park zone.

"Sir," shouted one soldier, "As a police officer, you must set an example for everyone."

But no amount of good will could quell Abdel-Hameed al-Assadi's resentment of America.

"It is shocking," al-Assadi, a 56-year-old civil servant said about the American presence outside the mosque. Pausing before sunset prayers, he added: "To see Americans standing like this in front of the imam's shrine? My God, it's a bitter medicine that we must swallow."...

...But the presence of Americans weighed heavily on the mind of Hussein Ali, a 40-year-old laborer and father of six.

"We'll force them to leave when the right time comes," he said. Then he fell silent and whispered: "How do we know that there are no Israelis among them?"

Wish I knew what the Quran says about hating folks according to their heritage. Sheesh.

WAY TO GO GUARD GUYS. One advantage of the Guard and Reserves...they have roots in towns and cities across the USA. And those roots pay off.
FARGO - Donations have paid for a satellite phone and hundreds of minutes of phone time, to try to speed up communication between the soldiers in Iraq and relatives back home.

"We went out and found some big-time donations to buy a satellite phone," said Doug Spieker, a spokesman for the support group for the Fargo-based 142nd Engineer Combat Battalion.

Read the rest here.

NOW THIS IS GOOD NEWS...should cut a few days from the mailing times to down range.
The Military Postal Service Agency has received a number of complaints about the speed of mail deliveries to and from Iraq.

The officials are aware of the problems and are already seeing changes to ease some of the stumbling blocks.

The main problem, agency officials said, was no mail facility in Iraq.

"Now there is one at the Baghdad International Airport, and we expect that will improve service," said an official with the agency.

In the past, mail from service members en route to the U.S. went from Baghdad to Kuwait, where it was placed on a commercial flight to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. Mail going to Iraq also had to pass through Kuwait.

Opening the facility at Baghdad International will speed the process and eliminate Kuwait from the mail route...

...Lt. Col. Charles Preysler, commander 2nd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, recently returned from Iraq and said communicating to loved ones is probably the single biggest morale booster to troops.

"I would like to see the Army invest in ways to allow the soldiers to e-mail home even when we are separated from the normal tactical communications systems," he said in an e-mail message to The Leaf-Chronicle.

"The technology is out there as evident by the various news agencies sending their stories home nightly.

"I think we can leverage that same technology to lessen the burden on our families waiting at home with few opportunities to talk to their loved ones."

Yes, lets. Read the rest here.

U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Shelton of Snohomish had a bad feeling about the mission from the start.

Before he and his unit left to root out troops loyal to Saddam Hussein north of Baghdad, Shelton knelt down in the desert sand and prayed.

"My major concern is to bring every one of my soldiers home," he said in a letter to his mother, Susan Locke of Snohomish. "We're ready to handle what is thrown at us."

He was right.

Shelton, 22, was shot in the shoulder during a June 9 ambush. He ducked just before two tracer rounds shattered the windshield of the truck he was driving. Somehow, he made it to safety.

"He said, 'It's amazing, Mom, that I'm here and still alive. But all that training saved me,'" said Locke, who learned Friday that her son had been wounded.

PROGRESS IS SLOW. But progress is progress.
As part of the campaign to rout Saddam loyalists, soldiers entered Halladia, a suburb of Fallujah, in helicopters, Bradley fighting vehicles and Humvees and arrested nine men, U.S. military officials said.

Troops found as many as 70 tank rounds being used to make explosives, a large number of AK-47 assault rifles and a sniper rifle, a military commander said.

"Every day it's getting a little bit better, and we're able to take the initiative away from the bad guys," said Lt. Col. Jack Hammond of the 211th Military Police Battalion in Fallujah.

"When we first got here, we spent most of the time dodging bullets and [rocket-propelled grenades] that they were firing. Now we're getting to kick in their doors and arrest them through the intelligence we've been getting," Hammond said.

Read it all here.

SELF INFLICTED WOUNDS. Keep this in mind next time you read how slow the Americans are at rebuilding Iraq.
Post-war looting and sabotage at oil facilities have delayed the resumption of Iraq's oil exports and will keep shipments below pre-war levels for months.

The country's northern oilfields are now pumping about 550,000 bpd, with southern output at 200,000 bpd, another Iraqi oil official said.

Before the U.S.-led war, Iraq -- home to the world's second largest oil reserves -- was producing about 2.5 million bpd and exporting two million.

The whole story is here.

President Bush on Monday strongly defended the U.S.-led war to topple Saddam's regime against "revisionist historians" he suggested were trying to diminish the threat once posed by the deposed Iraqi leader.

"This nation acted to a threat from the dictator of Iraq," Bush said during a speech to business leaders in New Jersey. "Now there are some who would like to rewrite history -- revisionist historians is what I like to call them.

"Saddam Hussein was a threat to America and the free world in '91, in '98, in 2003. He continually ignored the demands of the free world, so the United States and friends and allies acted."

Read the whole thing here.

MORE ON OPERATION DESERT SCORPION. This time they are talking about our guys.
Soldiers with the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, for example, have increased the percentage of their patrol times searching for weapons, said Maj. Clifford Wheeler, the brigade’s executive officer.

But Operation Desert Scorpion is more than a weapons roundup effort, Wheeler said. It includes programs to rebuild the country, delivery of humanitarian aid, and disposal of unexploded ordnance, he said.

Read the rest here.
THIS MIGHT GIVE YOU A SENSE of how important traditions are in the Army. Our guys take time to celebrate the Army's birthday in the midst of all the other things that need doing.
U.S. troops in Iraq celebrate birthdays with parties, even as battles rage.

On Saturday, festivities offered a bit of a break for some soldiers of the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division.

With cake, coffee, tunes from the 1st AD’s band and a motivational message from Gen. George S. Patton Jr. (well, a snippet from the movie “Patton” with George C. Scott), the troops marked the Army’s 228th birthday — this time in the lap of luxury.

Read the whole thing here.

THIS PUTS ME IN A DELEMMA. Reading the article below about the sniper killing a US soldier in our sector, I can rule out CPT Patti being the victim because the article refers to the victim as "he".

But I am sitting here in an office where perhaps half a dozen female Army spouses are working and might be affected. I doubt any of them have heard the news of this story.

On the one hand I feel a sense of responsibility to my fellow spouses to alert them. On the other hand I ask myself why mention it and add worry to their day.

I think I will say nothing.
OH NO. Given the location - northern Baghdad - this almost certainly is a 1st Brigade soldier, or one attached to the 1st Brigade.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A U.S. soldier on patrol in northern Baghdad was killed by a single shot from a sniper, the military said Tuesday.

The gunman escaped from the area as the soldier collapsed on the ground. He was evacuated to a first aid station but died shortly afterward, said Maj. Sean Gibson, a U.S. military spokesman.

The identity of the soldier, from the 1st Armored Division, was withheld pending notification of relatives...

...Gibson said the soldier was shot in the chest late Monday, even though he was protected by body armor. The others on the patrol did not see the gunman, and it was not clear if the soldiers returned fire, Gibson said.

The rest is here.
OPERATION DESERT SCORPION. It is a battle of wills, to be sure.
Qusai Taha, 33, a grocery store owner from Dujayl, said he heard gunfire while in his store, ran outside and saw that the last vehicle in a 15-vehicle U.S. convoy had been hit. He said he saw two U.S. soldiers being taken out of the truck, apparently wounded.

Later, Taha said, two Iraqis arrived on a motorbike and set the truck ablaze.

The U.S. Central Command blamed the ambushes on hard-core loyalists of the ousted regime who "continue to put innocent civilians at risk."

Read it all here.
THAT THE DANGER IS REAL HITS HOME. Talking to a lady in our sister office in Giessen whose husband is assigned to 1-36 Infantry.

On Sunday he was patrolling central Baghdad in his Humvee when someone threw a grenade at the vehicle. The explosion took the windshield out, but he was not injured beyond a ringing in his ears.

1-36 Infantry has the oldest part of Baghdad as their sector, and judging from the map the streets are narrow and twisted. I don't envy those guys.
GOT A PHONE CALL LAST NIGHT from the Rear Detachment. The Rear Detachment (or Rear D, as it is known) is a small element left behind while the majority of the unit deploys.

Anyway - the Rear D called to tell me they had contact with one of CPT Patti's soldiers. That soldier filled in some detail.

Confirmed that CPT Patti and the Gators are sleeping at the Police College. Found out that they even have beds (the steel frame and springs kind...not mattresses). However, oddly enough, there are no showers for the troops at the Police College. For that they have to go to Shaab Stadium. (You can find both these places on the link to the map at the top of the can also see a satellite image of the stadium - taken during the war - at the photo link.)

Shaab Stadium is where the Brigade Support Area (logistics base) for the 1st Brigade is located...thus that is where the Gators work. And shower, apparently. I'll try to find out more about that and let you know.

They are working really hard right now...getting less than five hours sleep per night.

Appears that AAFES is on the verge of establishing a PX in the vicinity of the stadium. That probably means they will bring in an 18 wheeler style trailer crammed with stuff, and little bitty aisles to walk through. That is a positive development as well.
TUESDAY, JUNE 17th. The 37th day of CPT Patti's deployment. It has been nine days since I last heard from her.

Monday, June 16, 2003

STILL SEARCHING FOR THE WMD...and now we are searching for the scientists working on those programs.
The Army Psyop (Psychological Operations) broadcasts is aimed at helping the effort to find more candidates to interview. The station, which is called Information Radio and is operated from a portable radio transmitter, has broadcast similar appeals since April.

In the past two weeks, the station has increased its appeals broadcasting them multiple times daily.

"If you choose to cooperate today, you'll get tolerance and mercy for what you've done. If you refuse to cooperate today, you'll be arrested later," the announcer repeats.

Read it all here.

A COMPELLING CASE BY THE NY POST that the Army is too small for the US role in a post 9/11 world. If it makes you want to send a note to your Representative or Senator...then so be it.
THE Pentagon's apparent desire to administer and pacify Iraq on the cheap isn't just risky policy, it's cruelly unfair to the troops on whom the burden is falling. It is especially unfair to the Third Infantry Division, which did a large part of the fighting in the war and has been serving under arduous conditions ever since.

The 3ID's three brigades captured Baghdad at the end of the first week of April, and (until the last two weeks or so) have done the lion's share of securing and stabilizing the Iraqi capital. Indeed, both the Second and Third Brigades have all been in the Gulf for at least nine months (a long deployment for an army in which most personnel are married).

They were due to go home at the end of May, to be relieved in place by fresh soldiers from the 1st Armored Division, and the 2d and 3d Armored Cavalry Regiments. (Other units that bore the brunt of the fighting have mostly gone home already.)

But CENTCOM took massive media flak for the lack of security in Iraq's cities at the end of May, so the Army promised to increase the number of troops on the ground. It did so not by bringing in a fresh division, but by the quick fix of keeping the exhausted Third Infantry in and around Baghdad...

... Leave aside the questionable logic of sending in a combat-weary tank unit - albeit one which has performed policing tasks magnificently - to perform tasks better suited to armored cavalry and infantry. Why send worn-out soldiers - quite possibly at the end of their tether - to a matchbox like Falluja when there are thousands of fresh combat troops all over Iraq?

Not to mention the 1st Cavalry Division, the 1st Infantry Division or the 25th Infantry Division, and significant parts of other units like the 82d airborne - all or most of which are sitting pretty at home.

It may be that there are genuine strategic reasons for keeping these units in reserve, rather than rotating them through Iraq. There may also be a convincing argument even for using the battered 3ID to do the heavy lifting in places like Falluja, instead of relatively unblooded units like the 1st Armored.

But all of this seems to show that the U.S. Army not should not be shrunk from 10 divisions to eight, as reportedly planned by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Indeed, given that its tasks now and in the future involve operations other than war, it may be that our 10-division army is simply too small for the post-9/11 era.

Read the whole thing here.
PRETTY GOOD ARTICLE here on new tactics by the good guys. But, then, the good guys are "infidels" so it might not count.
Hours after soldiers carried out raids in Baghdad yesterday, military engineers set out to build soccer fields for children in the same neighborhood...

...When commanders opened the new campaign in this city 35 miles west of Baghdad, they promised that the stick of U.S. military might would be matched with the carrot of civilian aid.

HERE WE ARE...OUR GUYS. Not just 1st Brigade guys...this is our battalion! How in the heck did a bunch of loggies get the mission to run a jail??? I can't be sure just by reading but it appears this mission is being handled by B Company...but it is still possible CPT Patti has part of this mission.
As the sun sets on the Iraqi capital, soldiers from the 501st Forward Support Battalion prepare themselves for a night of tending to prisoners captured on the city’s streets.

The Friedberg, Germany-based soldiers recently took over a makeshift jail at Baghdad’s Shaab Stadium from the 3rd Infantry Division. Each night, a dozen or more Iraqis who either break the law or the 11 p.m. curfew end up in small cages underneath the stadium seats...

...Rybus, 33, of Leseur, Minn., who normally works in motor pool supply, is now working as a jailer in Iraq. He cut off the plastic handcuffs and told soldiers to reapply them looser so they don’t hurt prisoners’ wrists.

“I just want to make sure they’re not mistreated. After all, they are still people,” Rybus said. “While they are here, they’re treated well.”

Well said, brother. Read the whole story here.

MONDAY, JUNE 16th. The 36th day of CPT Patti's deployment. Last word from CPT Patti came a week ago Sunday.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

AND SINCE IT IS A SLOW NEWS DAY we come to this. If whatever happens in one's life is because "God wills it" well that fairly absolves one of any responsibility now doesn't it? Courtesy of News of the Weird.
Officials in Saudi Arabia recently began to campaign against the culture of intrafamily marriage, which is practiced by almost half the country, according to a May New York Times dispatch.

"Saudi Arabia is a living genetics laboratory," said an American researcher stationed there. Several genetic disorders have festered, but in many tribes, such disorders (attributed to God's will) have not in any way diminished the ideal of first-cousin marriages. [New York Times, 5-1-03]