Friday, September 05, 2003

For those without relatives in the military, war news can become a blur of daily press briefings and TV news reports. For Teri Merickel, the conflict got up close and personal during a flight from Chicago.

She walked aboard her United plane to San Diego behind a Marine captain who was with a young woman. The officer was carrying what appeared to Merickel to be a beautiful trophy in his arms. The two passengers were seated directly across the aisle from her. Merickel admired the "trophy" but didn't have a chance to ask what it was because another passenger quickly came back from the first-class cabin and invited them to come up to that section. After they moved, the passenger returned and took one of the empty seats. He started sobbing.

After a few moments he composed himself, apologized to Merickel and explained: He, too, was a Marine en route home from Iraq. He informed her that the beautiful "trophy" she had seen was actually carrying the remains of a fallen Marine. The wife of the deceased and the urn were being escorted home by the officer.

The story doesn't end there. Merickel soon learned that the fellow who had done this good deed was returning home to San Diego on a brief 26-hour turnaround for the first time in nearly a year.

His 9-year-old daughter had saved all her money to help buy a first-class ticket for her dad. But when he saw the grief-stricken widow and her Marine escort sitting in coach seats, he asked a flight attendant if he could give his seat to the woman, and if the captain could take the empty seat next to it.

When the plane touched down, the pilot announced that a fallen Marine was aboard. Everyone was silent and the passengers remained in their places while the widow and her escort disembarked. As Merickel said goodbye, she asked the Marine passenger next to her if he was going to tell his daughter he gave up his first-class seat.

He thought and then softly replied, "Maybe someday."

via Instapundit
Some 250 more policemen graduated Thursday from a crash course aimed at transforming a once corrupt and brutal force into a key element of the US-led coalition's efforts to fight crime and terrorism in post-Saddam Iraq.

"Remember that every day when you put on your uniform the citizens of Baghdad will look to you to do the right thing," US Army Brigadier General Curtis Scaparotti told them.

He was speaking at a ceremony held in the capital's police academy, just a few hundred metres (yards) from the spot where a car bomb on Monday ripped through a police parking lot and killed an officer.

Scaparotti and the Baghdad police chief, Hassan al-Obeidi, shook the graduates' hands and handed them their Transition Integration Programme diplomas as they filed past, to the rhythms of bagpipes and drums played by a police band...

"I learned a lot," said proud graduate Sergeant Salah Al-Ridha. "We learned about human rights and respect between the policeman and the citizen. None of that existed before."

Would that all of us find our citizenship such a blessing.
A soldier wounded in Baghdad became an American citizen Sept. 2 during a ceremony in Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s healing garden...

A former Pakistani national, Kahn moved to the United States when he was 20 years old for “a better life.” He said becoming an American citizen is something he has wanted to do for some time.

“I’m so excited,” Kahn said. “I was waiting for this for five years, but I couldn’t do it because I was busy while I was doing my job in the Army.”

Kahn joined the Army as an artillery specialist because he “likes adventure.” On June 1, he was wounded in a sniper attack while providing security for a market in Baghdad.

“I volunteered for that shift,” he said. “I was guarding a check point, it was two soldiers and me. At 4:30 p.m. I went to check the radio and discovered we didn’t have communications with headquarters. I sat down inside the vehicle and picked up a bottle of water. It almost touched my lips. I don’t know what happened after that.”

A rocket-propelled grenade struck the vehicle he was in before he could get his drink...

“Normally, I tell new citizens they need to recognize their responsibilities to their nation,” Aquirre said. “In this case, that would be raining on wet ground. Sergeant Kahn obviously recognizes what America is all about and has already given more than most of us will have an opportunity to give.”

Since President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13269 in July 2002 — making legal, permanent residents actively serving in the United States military during times of hostilities immediately eligible to apply for naturalization — more than 7,500 individuals serving in the war on terrorism have requested expedited citizenship.

After spending more than 20 years in uniform, Staff Sgt. Joseph M. Camara turned in his retirement papers to the Rhode Island Army National Guard.

But defense officials barred the retirements of many soldiers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, including that of Sgt. Camara and others in the 115th Military Police Company out of Cranston. In February, the unit was ordered to Iraq where an exploding land mine on Monday killed Sgt. Camara and Sgt. Charles Caldwell of North Providence on a road north of Baghdad.

"He had turned in his papers and served his time, but he didn't turn his back on his country," said his wife, Ana Camara, in an interview yesterday in front of her family's McGurk Street home.

"He loved being in the Army. He loved serving in the Police Department. I've lost my soulmate. My children have lost a wonderful father," she said.
Before the paratroopers could return to rigging a towline for the overheated Humvee, an Iraqi man staggered up with his small son in his arms. The boy's head was gushing blood. The father was hysterical.

The soldiers helped the man behind their Humvee and started first aid. "We were afraid the kid was shot in the head and was going to die," Berndt said.

While other paratroopers provided security and rigged the towline, Berndt and Smittle checked the boy. They had to first pry the child - a 3-year-old - from his weeping father.

The boy seemed stunned and did not cry. He said little, his big brown eyes darting between the paratroopers as they examined the wound and bandaged his head...

Smittle and Berndt said it was the second time in a week they have taken fire from Iraqis.

All of the paratroopers kept their heads during the shooting. Afterward, they showed some frustration.

"It was a terrible thing that the kid got hit; we are trying to help them and this is another example of the day-to-day crap we put up with," Thagard said.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - As soon as the first Humvee bristling with weapons rolled up, the black-market operation was over.

Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division descended on the Dora propane station in southern Baghdad like a police SWAT team on Tuesday. Three air defense Avengers - Humvees armed with a .50-caliber machine gun and Stinger missiles - blocked traffic while the paratroopers fanned out across the market, grabbing propane canisters left behind.

In nine minutes, the paratroopers had seized 65 propane canisters. Staff Sgt. Jose Gonzalez commandeered a small tractor loaded with them. The owner ran off and left it running when the paratroopers showed up.

While 1st Lt. Peter Thayer loaded the propane on a trailer, Sgt. 1st Class Wayne Meija and the other paratroopers kept a watch on the crowd. Most of the Iraqis who stuck around after the paratroopers showed up seemed pleased. Meija said one of the Iraqis said to the unit's interpreter, "God bless you for doing this."...

But paratroopers said that a lot of propane is not getting to the people who need it because black market operators are buying up much of the supply and reselling it illegally at inflated prices.

"They are keeping poor Iraqi citizens from getting the propane they need to survive," said 1st Lt. Karlton Dempsey, the executive officer of Bravo Battery.

Iraqis have to stand in line at propane stations. The black market operators stack the lines with women and children working for them, getting much or all of the supply.

Making Iraq safe is a job for Iraqis, and no more U.S. troops are needed in the country, Rumsfeld said after meeting in the capital with top military and civilian officials of the American-led occupation.

"Security is a problem, but it's a problem that, ultimately, the Iraqi people will deal with, with the help of coalition forces," Rumsfeld said at an impromptu news conference.

Rumsfeld arrived in Baghdad on Thursday afternoon for his second visit to Iraq in four months. He said coalition forces had completed more than 6,000 humanitarian projects since then.

"It is getting better every day. I can see a change since I was here," Rumsfeld said. "That is not to say it is not dangerous. It is. But it seems to me that the trajectory we're on is a good one."

Despite problems in restoring and repairing Iraq's electrical system, Baghdad at night glows with light, Rumsfeld said after returning on a Black Hawk helicopter from one downtown compound to an American base near the city's airport.

"For a city that's not supposed to have power, there's lights all over the place. It's like Chicago," Rumsfeld said.


According to Alan Dershowitz, they have a poor record vis a vis terrorism.
For more than a quarter of a century, the U.N. has actively encouraged terrorism by rewarding its primary practitioners, legitimating it as a tactic, condemning its victims when they try to defend themselves and describing the murderers of innocent children as "freedom fighters." No organization in the world today has accorded so much legitimacy to terrorism as has the U.N.

Consider the following:

• There are numerous occupied peoples around the world seeking statehood or national liberation, including the Tibetans, Kurds, Turkish Armenians and Palestinians. Only one of these groups has received official recognition by the U.N., including observer status and invitations to speak and participate in committee work. That group is the one that invented and perfected modern international terrorism — namely, the Palestinians...

These rewards were first bestowed in the 1970s when the Palestine Liberation Organization was unabashedly committed to terrorism. In fact, Chairman Yasser Arafat was invited to speak to the U.N. General Assembly in 1974 at a time when his organization was seeking to destroy a member-state of the U.N. by terrorism.

By rewarding Arafat and the PLO for such behavior, the U.N. made it clear that the best way to ensure that your cause is leapfrogged ahead of others is to adopt terrorism as your primary means of protest. The Tibetans, whose land has been occupied more brutally and for a longer period than the Palestinians, but who have never practiced terrorism, cannot even receive a hearing from the U.N.

• The U.N. has for years refused to condemn terrorism unequivocally, while encouraging and upholding "the legitimacy of the struggle for national liberation movements" against "occupation" — in other words, the use of terrorism against innocent civilians to resist occupation. This has sent the message to aggrieved groups that terrorism is legitimate.

• The U.N. has allowed Palestinian terrorists to use U.N.-sponsored "refugee camps" like Jenin as terrorist bases. This has sent the message to the world that the U.N. closes its eyes to terrorism.

• The U.N. has repeatedly condemned efforts by Israel to prevent and respond to terrorism. For example, the Security Council condemned Israel for isolating Arafat in the West Bank last year, even after it was proved that Arafat remained complicit in acts of terrorism.

This has sent the message to the victims of terrorism that if they fight back they risk sanctions.

• The U.N. has allowed states such as Syria that sponsor terrorism to sit on the Security Council and to chair important committees, while denying Israel these same rights. This has sent the message that the U.N. applies a double standard when it comes to terrorism.

The bottom line is that the U.N. has served as an international megaphone for the perverse message that any people who feel that they are occupied have the right to resist occupation by randomly murdering innocent civilians anywhere in the world.

And Jed Babbin sees it this way:

In Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz confirmed that, "Among the hundreds of enemy that we have captured in the last months are more than 200 foreign terrorists who came to Iraq to kill Americans." Wolfowitz understands what Powell and Armitage don't: Iraq is now the central battle in the war against terrorism, and to give control of Iraq to the U.N. will result in our defeat in Iraq because the U.N. is not committed to the defeat of terrorism. Many terrorist states — Iran, Syria, Libya, and North Korea, among others — are members in good standing. They and their sympathizers are able to control U.N. action.

Even if we got a U.N. resolution providing troops and funding — which by now only Powell and Armitage don't understand that we cannot — just what could the U.N. do to help? We don't need more troops on the ground — as Gen. Abizaid has said often enough — and the major nations of the U.N. don't have much to offer even if we did. The French and Germans are already overextended, and have little to offer other than administrators and shopkeepers to ensure that Total Fina Elf and Siemans get the chunk of Iraqi business Saddam had promised them. The French could send the Foreign Legion, by all reports capable fighters and also some of the most familiar with the torture of prisoners and abuse of civilians. They are an excellent means of turning the average Iraqi against us.

One day after Iraqi governing council member Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim directly blamed the U.S. for the death of his brother, one of the most prominent religious leaders in Iraq, and scores of others in last Tuesday's bombing in Najaf, Al-Hakim has changed his mind.

He now says Saddam Hussein loyalists are to blame, calling them, "enemies of Iraq." In addition, he has promised that…contrary to any former implications…Shiite Muslims who want the, "occupation of Iraq" to end will not go so far as to take up arms against coalition forces.


BAGHDAD, Iraq — When Brig. Gen. Martin Dempsey took the stage last night, it was like he was channeling Frank Sinatra.

“This is advertised as a competition, but there will be no competition,” Dempsey said to the 1,000-plus crowd at the Bob Hope Dining Facility.

He wasn’t kidding. Dempsey, new commanding general of the Wiesbaden, Germany-based 1st Armored Division, launched into a rendition of “New York, New York,” that would have done the Chairman of the Board proud.

How good was he?

As one soldier noted, “If this command gig doesn’t work out, I think he’s got a pretty good fallback.”
FRIDAY, AUGUST 5th. The 117th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Thursday, September 04, 2003


Way off topic here, but some of you will recall my fondness for the wit and wisdom of Jonah Goldberg at National Review.

He gets today's Good Point award.
I don't particularly care that Johnny Depp has unkind things to say about America or the Bush Adminsitration. To date, not a single thoughtful person in Christendom has found it necessary to consult his views before making an informed decision.

That said, what I do find hilarious is that all of the Europeans do care. I mean, these are the same folks who say that American culture is leading to the cretinization of the world and that Hollywood values are shallow, low-brow and materialistic. And yet, the second an American movie star opens his mouth on politics these people applaud.

That the military will self-criticize. But in truth it happens after every mission, whether it is training or "real world".

Its called collecting the lessons learned.
THE CLASSIFIED report on lessons learned in the war says U.S. commanders were so busy preparing to defeat Iraq’s military and directing the fight that they were given too little time to properly prepare for “Phase IV” peace, according to the officials.

It also flays planning for so-far fruitless efforts to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The threat from such chemical and biological weapons was cited by President Bush and the Pentagon as a major reason for the invasion.

“It is a brutally honest report,” one of the officials, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters. “It shows that the military is self-critical — not just satisfied with 93 percent effectiveness in combat.”

However, I have a bone to pick with the concept that post-war planning is purely a military affair. Seems to me if that were the case, we wouldn't have Mr. Bremer "running" the reconstruction effort.

I'm not sure where post-war planning belongs...certainly a mix of military and State Department agencies to say the least, but it goes well beyond the walls of the Pentagon.
The first contingent of Thai soldiers has left Bangkok for Iraq, where they will join a 10,000-strong Polish-led multinational peacekeeping force.

Her mother speaks:
"I don't ask for assurances - it's her life," said Samira Amees, Jassm's mother.

"There is only one God, one judge. You can see good people from the Muslims, from the Christians, from the Jews. And you can see bad people from all of those groups.

My daughter doesn't have a future here. These are the best years of her life and she has seen nothing but war. I am happy for her."

A known criminal, suspected guerrilla and most likely both, Dayikh lived on the fringes of Baghdad’s underworld, where residents say U.S. officials and their Iraqi allies are unprepared and ill-equipped to face resistance that has persisted for months.

With attacks against American forces averaging a dozen a day, U.S. officials have suggested that some of those strikes may be freelance operations, as loyalists of former president Saddam Hussein team up with outlaw networks that have shaken residents with increasingly bold kidnappings, carjackings and robberies. In an economic landscape becoming bleaker, they say, money is the common denominator. “In all probability, some of them may have linked up with former Baathists,” said Col. Guy Shields, a military spokesman, referring to the Baath Party, which ruled Iraq under Hussein.

Added Baghdad police Capt. Sabah Nijm, who investigated the bombing: “There are people giving them money to prepare the bombs against the Americans, maybe the police or even other Iraqis. They are young, they have no work, so they deal in danger. Everything that is forbidden is lucrative.”

As residents recall, Dayikh was the neighborhood ne’er-do-well. He brawled a lot, stabbing a neighbor in the shoulder two months ago. Even his family acknowledges he drank to excess. And he was notorious for brandishing his AK-47 assault rifle around the neighborhood, a gaggle of boxy, three-story apartments built in 1973 to house workers of a nearby state-owned factory.

“He was a dirty, filthy person,” said Mohammed Salim, a relative of one of the boys. “You could smell his filthiness a long way away.”

Enticed by money, residents said, Dayikh was drawn in 1998 to Saddam’s Fedayeen, a Baath Party militia that celebrated its purported suicidal zeal. He was spotted in the neighborhood dressed in the militia’s trademark black uniform, with the patch that listed its priorities: God, country and leader.

Frankly, I'm underwhelmed at the amount of coverage given to this milestone event.

In my view, this further strengthens a momentum for that nation which will be hard for the miscreants to break.
Seventeen of the 25 Cabinet members made it to the high-security ceremony at Baghdad's Convention Center. The other eight were unable to break off foreign travel or get to the capital just two days after they were appointed.

Still, the gathering inside a half-mile circumference of sandbags, barbed wire, sharpshooters and explosives-sniffing dogs was cause for celebration.

"This is one of my happiest days," said Governing Council Secretary-General Muhyi K. Alkateeb, noting that the Cabinet is both ethnically diverse and predominantly Western-educated. "Now we have a government of ministers; we do not have to fear."
Peace always comes at a price. Some World War II veterans recently reminded me of that. One, who was in charge of rebuilding Germany recounted how many of his buddies were killed long after the war.

Americans didn't question the value of what we were doing then. We shouldn't grow impatient with what we're doing now. I guess it's far easier to write damning stories about all that's going wrong, than for one solitary moment, to consider all that is going right.

I didn't say that. The greatest generation taught me that. And their children and grandchildren fighting in Iraq show me that.

I'm not fit to judge them, but I am fit to thank them. And let them know their work is good, their progress is real and their mission is right.

Take a minute and read this entire piece.
Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division held a ribbon-cutting Wednesday for three renovated schools in northwest Baghdad.

The schools were renovated by local contractors hired by the 1st Battalion of the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. The work was interrupted and the buildings were damaged by the bombing of the Jordanian Embassy last month.

The embassy bombing broke all of the newly installed windows in the schools. But paratroopers from 1st Battalion were able to get replacement windows and open the school on time.

Iraqi children return to school at the end of the month.

"Because of the work done here, these students will have a better place to learn as we all move forward to a better Iraq," said Maj. Paul Fellinger, executive officer for the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. "With this kind of dedication and resolve, there is clearly nothing the Iraqi people cannot do."

The schools will employ 91 teachers and serve 1,200 students. It took four weeks to repair the schools at a cost of $26,470.

About 20 teachers and community leaders attended the ribbon cutting. Afterward, the guests drank cold soft drinks and ate cookies with the soldiers.

Amal Yaryts, headmaster of one of the schools, said the school was in severe disrepair before the paratroopers helped renovate. "It is great to have a good new school," she said. "God willing, it will help us teach the students better."

His orders were simple — to work out agreement between local sheiks and Iraqi customs officials to restore trade with Syria. What was unusual was that the decision had been initiated not by the State Department or civilian administrators in Baghdad, but by Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander of the Army's 101st Airborne Division and the dominant political figure in Mosul and the surrounding areas in northern Iraq.

Three months later, there is a steady stream of cross-border traffic, and the modest fees that the division set for entering Iraq — $10 per car, $20 per truck — have raised revenue for expanded customs forces and other projects in the region.

A five-day trip through the 101st Division's large area of operation showed that American military, not the civilian-led occupation authority based in Baghdad, are the driving force in the region's political and economic reconstruction.

The ethnic makeup of the north — a diverse blend of Arabs, Kurds, Turkoman and tribes — is less hostile to the American presence than the troublesome Sunni triangle around Baghdad, although it has the potential for ethnic strife. But that only partly explains the military's relative success here.

Other elements are the early deployment of a potent American force large enough to establish control, the quick establishment of new civil institutions, run by Iraqis, and a selective use of raids to capture hostile groups or individuals while minimizing the disruption to local civilians.

Another factor has been an American commander who approached so-called nation-building as a central military mission and who was prepared to act while the civilian authority in Baghdad was still getting organized.

"I was less than 1,000 meters from the United Nations headquarters when the bomb went off," Kelleher wrote in an e-mail. "It shook the ground."

The 21-year-old is a member of the 16th Engineer Battalion, which was sent to Kuwait in the middle of May. The unit spent two weeks in Kuwait before moving to the capital of Iraq.

The Aug. 19 attack killed 22 people including Brazilian diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello, the international body's special representative for Iraq.

"I can't say it changed the way we operated," Kelleher wrote. "We are always at the highest state of alert."

Kelleher enlisted after graduating from Billings High School in 2000, and his four-year tour of duty is set to end in June 2004. He does not plan to re-enlist, but that is not evidence that his experience has left him disillusioned. If anything, the dangerous conditions in Iraq have strengthened his patriotism.

"I am proud to be here serving my country; this is what I enlisted for," Kelleher wrote. "I've always felt that we as Americans are lucky to enjoy the freedom and opportunity that comes with being born here, but freedom isn't free, and Americans paid for it in blood. That is why I serve: to follow in their footsteps and do my part in preserving our freedom."

He is most concerned about his wife, Anne, who is German. They met while he was stationed in Giessen, Germany, and were married Feb. 28, 2003.

"I miss my wife very much," Kelleher wrote. "This deployment is very hard on her. I'd even say harder for her than me."

On most nights, by 10 p.m., the temperature has dropped as much as it is likely to, dipping, on a good night, to just below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The dogs, leaping to defend their colony in the river grass, start to howl. Sometimes, there is gunfire.

It could be worse. Running in a third-world war zone is often less jog than steeplechase. The area along the Tigris is a kind of Iraqi skid row, where the underside of Baghdad life often reveals itself. Thieves — affectionately called "Ali Babas" here — lurk in its environs, not to mention Islamic radicals opposed to Westerners.

This city has grown menacing and bleak of late. The bombings of recent days have given life a heavy feel. In the heat and haze, with the possibilities of death swirling about, it is not a happy time to be an American soldier.

Yet even on the worst days here, the city carries on, in the crazy, chaotic Middle Eastern way. Most Iraqis still show their friendly side. They insist that a visitor sit with them and share a glass of tea. A foreigner, even an American, provided he is not wearing a uniform, can go about the normal business of his life. He can even run.

But there are grim reminders of the constant menace. One night an American soldier at a checkpoint said simply, "Be careful, last night we found a guy with his head bashed in."

Its a good story. Read it all.
In all of Iraq — itself a candidate for worst place in the world — this little corner of paradise 120 kilometers west of Baghdad sets a whole new standard for “God-forsaken.”...

Yet, there is a place on Fallujah base where tranquility reigns: J.C.’s Barber Shop.

Staff Sgt. Joseph Chapman runs J.C.’s Barber Shop out of a backroom in a vast complex that was, until the war, a base for mujahedeen fighting the Islamic republic in Iran. With few resources, Chapman has managed to turn the room into a convincing recreation of a back home barbershop, down to the clippers and the magazines.

Most importantly, he has the defining barber quality: “I’m a good listener.”

Haircuts are $1, and all the money — including an average $4 tip — goes to a Squadron fund for a big pool party at the base, which has indoor and outdoor facilities. Chapman and Spc. Ashlea Baker, 16th Signal Company, have taken in $450 in just a couple of weeks.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4th. The 116th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

It has been two weeks since I last heard from her.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

U.S. Marines handed over control of a patch of central Iraq on Wednesday to a Polish-led multinational force in a ceremony in ancient Babylon.

The handover is part of efforts by Washington to relieve the burden on its troops occupying Iraq since the war that ousted Saddam Hussein in April.
The Bush administration now thinks one way to turn this around is by increasing the number of international forces. President Bush today signed off on a proposed resolution seeking U.N. approval for a multinational force under U.S. command, a U.S. official told ABCNEWS. Under the proposal, the U.S. would cede some political authority to the United Nations

In addition, the U.S. administration in Iraq is speeding up the three-month training process for members of the new Iraqi police force.

"We're actually going to try to do it in eight weeks," said Paul Bremer, the U.S. civil administrator of Iraq. "So we're trying to cut a month off that in view of the urgency of building up the police force."

Meanwhile the Congressional Budget Office seems to believe the Army can't keep up this pace either.

A U.S. occupation of Iraq that relies on the creation of two new Army divisions could cost up to an estimated $29 billion annually, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.
Relying on existing soldiers serving one-year tours would cost as little as $8 billion a year but would mean the force would steadily shrink as troops were rotated out of Iraq, the study said.

The report, released today, was requested by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., one of Congress' most outspoken critics of Bush administration policy in Iraq. In remarks on the Senate floor, Byrd said the report "is quantified evidence that the long-term occupation is straining our forces close to the breaking point."

The nonpartisan budget office said the Army could not keep a force in Iraq of its current size beyond March 2004 if it retains its current policy of rotating most troops out of the country after a year. The force would have to shrink to no more than 64,000 under that policy — down from the more than 180,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq and neighboring countries, the report said.

Creating two new divisions would allow a force of up to 129,000 personnel, CBO said.

There is no democratic tradition in Iraq or anywhere else in the Arab world on which to draw. Theirs is a society permeated by lies and deception, and a religion that is dancing with extremism. These are not good candidates for democracy, and Iraq is never going to be Indiana. But if, in 20 years, it looks more like Turkey than like Syria, Iraqis and the rest of the world, not least the United States, will be far, far safer.

You will want to read this entire article found here.
In the wake of the recent bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, we heard, yet again, that the sky was falling, that our involvement in Iraq is damned and doomed. One online "intelligence" service even predicted a vast Arab uprising, from Morocco to the Iranian border, that would bury our soldiers beneath the desert sands.

Well, the Arab world can barely get out of bed in the morning, let alone rise up against America. Remember how the "Arab Street" was going to go on a rampage if our troops invaded Iraq, how our influence in the Middle East would be lost forever?

The more we listened to the debates about the UN bombing, the less we knew. Meanwhile, some remarkable facts about the lead-up to that attack and its aftermath have gone unreported.

Why? Because the truth involved American heroes. Wouldn't want that sort of thing to get mixed in with the constant accusations of American incompetence from the hackademic legions of the Left. (I'm waiting for Noam Chomsky, Radio Pacifica and Al-Jazeera to blame the UN bombing on the Israelis. Or on us.)

Here's the truth, relayed from within the UN compound:

In the weeks before the truck-bomb attack, the UN's veteran security officer on site struggled, argued and begged for better protection. He knew the Canal Hotel was a vulnerable and likely target - but the UN chain of command refused to acknowledge the dimensions of the threat.

The U.S. military did offer protection - repeatedly. But UN bureaucrats turned it down. They didn't want to be associated with those wicked, imperialist, ill-mannered Americans. After all, everybody loves the United Nations, don't they?

Repeatedly stymied by prejudice and inertia, the UN security chief - a retired U.S. Army Special Forces officer with a wealth of prior experience - nonetheless managed to cajole his superiors into letting him build a wall around the hotel...

Now that the damage is done, the U.S. Army's welcome. A company of our 82nd Airborne Division took over external security for the site last week.

But what were the first complaints we heard from the media "experts"? That the U.S. Army was to blame, because it failed to provide adequate security.

In fact, we offered the UN armored vehicles. They told us to take a hike. U.N. bureaucrats put more trust in the good will of terrorists and Ba'athist butchers than they did in GI Joe.

But when the U.N.'s own people lay bleeding, they were glad enough for our help. As one UN employee, speaking from inside the Baghdad compound, put it to me, "It was a proud day for the U.S. Army."

Of course, no one at UN headquarters had any public thanks to offer our soldiers. By the end of last week, the French delegation had already warned its U.N. colleagues not to be tricked into supporting American and British efforts to help the Iraqi people just because of a terror bombing.

And our own media didn't give five seconds of coverage to the superbly professional rescue efforts our military made after the bombing.

One is tempted to say, "Next time, let the French do it." But we're Americans, of course. We'll save your sorry backsides, even after you trash us.

If the United Nations won't say it, I will: "Thanks, GI."

The largest Guard deployment since Korea.
You might think Raymond Anthony had already done enough for his country. During four tours in Vietnam with the Marine Corps, Anthony was wounded six times.

He bears a long bayonet scar on his face. He was shot in the chest with an enemy AK-47, strafed by jets and blown out of a landing craft by North Vietnamese artillery.

But the 57-year-old state office worker, who joined a California National Guard unit here eight years ago so he could qualify for military retirement pay, was severely wounded again in July when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his Humvee during a night patrol outside Baghdad.

News reports last week noted that the number of U.S. casualties during the occupation of Iraq has surpassed those suffered during the initial 6-week invasion. Increasingly, those in harm's way are not from elite regular Army and Marine fighting units. Rather, like Anthony, some casualties come from mobilized National Guard and reserve forces sent to provide security...

According to National Guard spokesman Dan Donohue, there are about 30,500 guardsmen and women serving in Iraq and Kuwait — about 18% of the total 166,000 U.S. forces.

Records show this to be the largest National Guard battlefield presence since the Korean War. During the entire Vietnam conflict, for example, only 7,040 National Guard soldiers and fliers went to war.

With more than 1,500 men and women stationed in Iraq, the California National Guard is one of the largest state contingents of these "citizen soldiers" stationed in the Iraq-Kuwait theater. (Florida, with more than 2,000 soldiers and airmen posted there, is the largest.)

Some won't understand why she longs to be with her unit.
It's 9:30 p.m. in Baghdad, and Cari Beetham's fellow soldiers are back in the bombed-out building and tents that they call home.

She's sitting on the patio of Uptown Espresso in San Luis Obispo, and the midmorning sun has just broken through the cloud cover.

Even the coffee she's drinking makes her feel guilty.

How can she be here when they're in so much danger?

Beetham, 37, of Atascadero, is a sergeant first class in the Army National Guard. She's mother to Brooke, 8, and Travis, 16. And she wants nothing so much as an order to report to Baghdad.

Beetham is off-duty, wearing tan capri pants and a fleece sweatshirt, her dark blonde hair spilling over her shoulders. She leans forward intensely and speaks with disarming openness.

She's the kind of person who's so humble, so sincere, that she can talk about honor and duty and patriotism and make you rediscover what those words meant before they became cheap cliches.

When most of the 649th Military Police Company was called to Iraq nine months ago, Beetham struggled with her anger at being told to stay behind as the rear detachment commander. But with her husband then deployed to Afghanistan with the National Guard Special Forces, it was a blessing to be with her kids.

Now things have changed. Her husband, Brian, a sheriff's deputy as a civilian, has returned. And one of her close friends in the company, Sgt. David Perry, has died.

This story also inadvertendly highlights something else interesting about the deployment:

About once a week, she gets a call from Capt. Kevin O. McKenzie, her commanding officer. He doesn't have access to an official phone line, so he pays an Iraqi man $5 a minute to use a satellite phone.

I'm still amazed at how little communications the troops in Iraq have with us back here. But here is an officer for whom it is part of his DUTY to call back to his unit...and he pays out of his pocket to do so.

And unfortunately, although this problem isn't unique to the National Guard and Reserve units....its another in a long list of shortcomings thrust upon those guys
A Johnston County soldier celebrated a special homecoming Tuesday. Sergeant Clint Moore just returned from Iraq and spent the day at his alma mater, South Johnston High School.

When Moore's unit rolled out, the school put up a ribbon as a small tribute to a 1998 South Johnston graduate fighting for freedom so far away.

“Every day you'd walk in and you'd glance up and think about what's happening over there and you'd say a little prayer for him and hope everything's going good,” student body president Whitney Yates said.

Sgt. Moore thought he was coming home to cut down that ribbon after the 3rd Infantry took Baghdad. Instead, he found himself in Fallujah.

“Probably once a week we'd get ambushed,” Moore said. “The worst part is just waiting for it. You know it's coming. Once it happens, it's cool but just waiting, that's when you're scared.”

Moore's family was scared too. South Johnston sophomore Casey Adams is his brother-in-law.

“We were just worried about him coming home to take it down,” Adams said.

On Tuesday, Moore was able to take the ribbon down.

“It makes you feel good that somebody's thinking about you,” Moore said. “Some boys, I don't think they got a letter the whole time they were gone.”

A unit of the 82nd Airborne Division ran across a large cache of weapons just south of Baghdad on Tuesday during an early morning patrol, Fox News has learned.

Fox News' Mike Tobin, embedded with the division's Charlie ("C") Company of the One Panther Battalion reported that paratroopers seized wire-guided TOW anti-tank missiles, FA7 anti-aircraft rockets, a recoilless rifle, bagfuls of various improvised explosive devices, home bomb-making equipment and other weapons.

Shortly after the discovery was made, the 82nd Airborne was fired upon at its forward operating base south of Baghdad, in another round of possible guerrilla warfare.

American troops couldn't see who was shooting at them, but forces responded by firing flares and scrambling the quick response team to locate the source of the hostility and eliminate the threat. They determined that three rounds were fired at 82nd Airborne troops.


Trying to get a good picture on this is difficult. But this story indicates the bombing was across the street from the Academy, and at the Police HQ.

If that is true I take a slight bit of comfort in the target not being the Americans (including CPT Patti) at the academy.
The car bombing occurred before midday at the Rasafa police station in western Baghdad. It is a major police headquarters for the capital.

VOA reporter Selwan al-Naimi, an eyewitness, was thrown across his car by the blast. "I saw many casualties, people injured, many ambulances, car ambulances, and American helicopters. Humvees came, suddenly," he said.

The station is the headquarters of Baghdad's Acting Police Chief, General Hassan al-Obeidi. It is located across the street from the police academy where part of Iraq's reconstituted police force is being trained.


A few hours later, a member of the U.S.-appointed Iraq Governing Council - the brother of the cleric who was killed in Friday's much larger bombing in Najaf - angrily called for an end to the American-led occupation.

"The occupation force is primarily responsible for the pure blood that was spilled in holy Najaf," Abdel-Aziz al Hakim told hundreds of thousands of people who had gathered at the funeral for his brother, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al Hakim. The cleric died Friday along with as many as 120 others when a bomb exploded outside one of Islam's most revered Shiite mosques.

"Iraq must not remain occupied and the occupation must leave so that we can build Iraq as God wants us to do," Hakim said in Najaf

Meanwhile, looks like the Iraqis need to tighten up their own security.

Anyone wanna take odds on there being a bribe involved?

Iraqi police were investigating how the pickup truck containing the bomb got past a police checkpoint and into an impound lot next to the headquarters, said a U.S. adviser who asked not to be named. Iraqi police said it wasn't a suicide attack, and that the bomb might have been detonated by remote control.

"How it got there is suspect," the adviser said. "All cars that go in there should be checked."

Iraqi police officials said Baghdad police chief Hassan Ali, whose office was damaged, appeared to have been the target of the attack. Ali wasn't in the building at the time, police said.

The building, known as the Iraqi Police Academy, serves as a training center and headquarters.

On the other hand, perhaps it wasn't a bribe...just sheer incompetence.

Colonel Hussein said the Chevrolet pickup truck had been towed to the compound by the city's traffic police, a separate force that uses the parking lot to store impounded vehicles.

The police guard manning the checkpoint at the entrance to the compound, which included a police academy, failed to perform the requisite search, Colonel Hussein said.

"The guard said he thought the traffic police had already searched it," Colonel Hussein said. The police intended to investigate who in the traffic police was responsible for delivering the car to the lot, and how it came to be parked so near the chief's office, Colonel Hussein said.

"Anyone entering the compound would have had to show a police badge," he said. "We have many questions to ask."


Thoughts of an Assyrian Christian minister returning to Iraq.
People, especially young people, say that for the first time in their lives they can travel overseas, surf the Internet, make international calls, and watch satellite TV. It is a wonderful time for the average Baghdadi.

What is really happening is the movement of Iraq from a "police state" to a "normal" country. During Saddam's time, life in many ways was stable, crime was low, prices were low.

But we are in a time of dramatic change. People have to learn to adjust to the "fringe benefits" of a free society. These changes include higher prices, the need to work, room for creativity, having choices, basic street crime, locking doors -- and a range of TV channels...

Those who naysay everything are very interesting. The people are very clear on who they are -- they all were connected to Saddam. For the first time in their lives, they are going to have to work; no more handouts. The easy life is over. But the numbers are staggering. People estimate nearly 20 percent or more of the population was in some form on Saddam's gravy train, some by choice, others by force. And nearly all of the population had been getting free food, tea and sugar.

As for the crime, they emptied the prisons so nearly 50,000 hard-nosed criminals are on the streets.

Another problem is just as it was before the war -- the outsiders. I cannot understand why the United States has not done two basic things: sealing the borders and setting up a TV station.

There is no border check so Iraq is becoming the magnet for every one that wants to get a chance to fight with Americans. This is a great puzzle to me.

What is happening, including the bombings, as far as people who I talked to are concerned, is the work of foreign nuts -- the same people who were the only ones to fight for Saddam at the later part of the war.

They are coming from all over the world like they did in Afghanistan to get a chance to fight Americans. I always remember how in Jordan everybody loved Saddam, whereas in Iraq everybody hated him.

The Iraqi people, in spite of all that is said, love the Americans. They are deeply grateful and are giving the United States the benefit of the doubt.

September 2, 2003
Release Number: 03-09-01



BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two 220th Military Police Brigade soldiers were killed and one was wounded approximately 3:19 p.m. Sept. 1 when their High-Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicle struck an improvised explosive device along a main supply route south of Baghdad.

The wounded soldier was evacuated to the 28th Combat Support Hospital for treatment.

The names of the soldiers are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

September 2, 2003
Release Number: 03-09-02



BAGHDAD, Iraq - One 1st Armored Division soldier was killed and another was injured in a helicopter accident early Tuesday morning.

The accident occurred at Camp Dogwood at 12:30 a.m. Both of the soldiers were medically evacuated to 28th Combat Support Hospital. The accident occurred when the UH-60 helicopter rolled over after making a hard landing.

The soldiers' names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3d. The 115th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003


Regarding the bombing outside the police academy.

I checked with our rear detachment guys...the bombing was outside the compound where CPT Patti and the Gators live and work. However, none of our guys were hurt (though nerves might be a bit on edge at the moment).

Story I get says that it was close enough, rattling enough for the troops to wonder if all hell had broken loose inside the compound. But in the end, all were happy to find it was outside and did little damage.

Thanks to those of you who conveyed your worries to me. It is really, really nice to know that I don't worry about these things alone.

Please read it all here.
In the wee hours of May 21, an Army Humvee on night patrol in Iraq hit a bump and flipped. An American soldier was crushed to death, and the driver - a 25-year-old sergeant from Dundalk with an infectious smile - faces the possibility of life in prison.

Sgt. Oscar L. Nelson III's fate will be decided this week at a general court-martial in Tikrit, Iraq, where Nelson is charged with unpremeditated murder and other serious charges in the death of Spc. Nathaniel A. Caldwell Jr., an aspiring minister.

Whatever the outcome of the Army trial - and one expert questions the key charge - the case has devastated two families. In the military, dying in the fight is considered a noble sacrifice. There is nothing noble about a senseless death. And being accused of causing one is akin to being labeled a coward.

At best, Caldwell, 27, died in an accident; at worst, it will be deemed murder. If nothing else, Nelson must grapple with the fact that he was behind the wheel when a man died. If convicted, he could be locked up at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., for the rest of his life.

At a time when soldiers are dying in Iraq nearly every day, Caldwell's death is one more variant on a recurring tragedy.

US forces backed by helicopters entered the al-Arabi neighbourhood in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul Sunday, residents told AFP, adding that deposed president Saddam Hussein could be hiding out in the area.
US forces, acting on information that Saddam may be hiding in the district, are deployed en force there and helicopters are hovering overhead, the witnesses told AFP's correspondent in this Kurdish city southeast of Mosul.

"There is a heavy presence of US troops, acting on information that Saddam may be hiding in the al-Arabi neighbourhood," one resident said.

"The word in town is that Saddam is there," said another.


From a GI newly arrived in Baghdad.
Portions of the letter are as follows: "Arrived in Qatar around 1:30 a.m. and as soon as the door was opened the humidity and heat rushed in like somebody had walked over your grave. (Welcome to the Sand Box). Air Force tells the Army guys headed to Baghdad there are no flights for three days. And we need to check into temporary quarters. We all travel to tents, and bed down at around 2:30 a.m.

" Next day, Air Force informs me some planes are going to Baghdad. I observe the Air Force personnel are overwhelmed with questions.... Additionally, they are forgetting to tell folks where to eat, go to the restroom and rest, and this causes me to find the Air Force boss and bring this to his attention. "The next day we find an aircraft headed to Baghdad at 6 p.m. with enough room for one pallet and room for all the Army soldiers. We load up and as soon as the aircraft starts under its on power, a very large rattling sound starts right next to me (AC turbine), and begins to smoke.... We abandon the aircraft without incident, but it was exciting to watch the firemen and medics show up. So much for going to Baghdad.

" We get back to the PAX terminal, it is 8:30 p.m. and the Air Force informs us... we will need to stay at the terminal.... Call at 02:50 a.m. "We finally got on another aircraft and off to Baghdad we went.

" First day: My flight in on a C130 spiraled at a high bank directly over Baghdad to avoid MANPAD’s (Man Portable Air Defense) missiles that have been fired at U.S. aircraft. One hell of a ride. Disneyland hasn’t got anything on this. Checked in and met up with the 315 th TPC (my unit). "I will be the operations officer for the unit and also will be in charge of the media center. This will be a pool of journalists and photographers writing articles for the Baghdad newspaper.

" My first time outside the compound was to interview journalists for a paper.... I interviewed 10 applicants and they were mostly editors for other papers. They all believe that paper is propaganda, but are willing to help us change the format to more of an Iraq story. "Second time downtown... kids were everywhere. They all want to talk to you. The guys call it OBC: Overcome by Children.... They want to talk to you in what little English they know and want to touch everything as well. This is a little scary: We are bristling with knives, bullets, pistols and grenades.

" I observed one boy standing over another boy beating him. I immediately separated them, and sought to aid the one being beaten. He was crying and could not speak English, but you could see the relief in his face. "The other children... began to explain to me (the best they could) by saying mother, father, brother and sister had been killed. They did this by pointing their hand like a gun and saying, ‘Bang!’ I gave him a hug and this made us both feel better.

" The boy that was beating up the one I was assisting rushed up and starting yelling at me and cursing — very angry for such a young boy, and probably a future terrorist. But it felt good to help. "

Grench explained that his hectic schedule will likely keep his future e-mails much shorter, but added," My thought was that maybe some of you might be interested. It is hard for me to get much rest, because of the new environment and the heat. So I think of home a lot, "he wrote.

" Please do not worry about my safety. Everything is OK here and everything is meant to be, whatever happens. "I would like to thank everyone for your prayers and support.... It means more to me than I can express in words, and makes me want to work harder.

" Take care. "Your G. I. John in Iraq,

" John. "


Note the differences in introducing the same story.

Reuters, a British based news agency with, in my opinion, anti-US feelings, specifies the Iraq police force is "U.S.-backed" while Fox News simply refers to a police station and a senior Iraqi police official. Question to Reuters...what other Iraq police force is there?

The spin is subtle, but the Reuters presentation encourages the reader to make a connection between the explosion and the United States...a connection that has yet to be established.

A car bomb ripped through a major complex for Iraq's U.S.-backed police force in Baghdad (Reuters story)

Two huge explosions from a car bomb rocked a central Baghdad police station on Tuesday, and Fox News has learned that the blast was targeting a senior Iraqi police official. (Fox News story)
A car bomb ripped through a major complex for Iraq's U.S.-backed police force in Baghdad on Tuesday, wounding 14 people, witnesses and hospitals said.

The explosion damaged the office of the U.S.-appointed Baghdad police chief, Hassan Ali, who was not in the complex at the time of the attack, they said.

Police Brigadier Saeed Muneim said Ali was probably the target of the blast.

In the latest guerrilla attack, two U.S. soldiers serving with a military police unit were killed when their vehicle hit an explosive device on one of Baghdad's main supply routes, a U.S. military spokeswoman said.

In Baghdad, witnesses said a large explosion targeted the Rasafa police headquarters in eastern Baghdad at 11:15 a.m. (0715 GMT), starting a large fire and sending a cloud of black smoke into the sky.

''A car bomb blew up inside the complex,'' Iraqi police First Lieutenant Nihad Majeed told Reuters.

Major Salem Abdul Zahra said the car was in the station's car garage.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, it now appears to me that this bomb did go off right outside the Baghdad Police Academy where CPT Patti and her crew are based. However, I've seen nothing to indicate any injuries to Americans inside the compound. See this story:

A car bomb that exploded Tuesday outside the Iraqi police academy injured 10 people, at least one seriously, a police official said.

Police Det. Basim al-Ani said the 11 were injured when the bomb detonated at 11:15 a.m. local time outside the walled perimeter in front of the police academy. A U.S. soldier said one person was killed, but that report was unconfirmed.

There also was an unconfirmed report that the bomb was inside a sport utility vehicle parked outside the wall of the academy, just east of central Baghdad. The building is next to the main U.S. Army field hospital, which was undamaged.

And this story:

A car bomb exploded Tuesday at a police station in the Baghdad's main police compound in the Rasafa district causing an unknown number of casualties, an officer in the station said.

The attack occurred right next to the capital's top police academy and across the street from the police headquarters and the ministry of interior ."A car bomb went off at about 11:30 am (0730 GMT). Most of the injured are policemen," said Lieutenant Khaled, but he refused to give any more details.The blast went off in a parking lot for stolen vehicles kept at the police station, Khaled added.

"It was a car bomb. Thank god, no one has died. There are only wounded," said Najim Mona, forensics chief at the station.

And this story indicates the explosion was adjacent to the Police Station, which is "next to the police academy", puts just a bit of distance between this bomb and our troops.

A car bomb has exploded near a police station in western Baghdad, injuring up to 10 people and wrecking nearby vehicles.

It went off outside the police station in the Rasafa district at around 1130am. Most of the victims are thought to be police officers.

The attack came as leading Shi'ite cleric Mohammed al-Hakim, killed in a car bomb masacre in Najaf, was being buried.

The blast started a large fire and sent a cloud of black smoke into the sky.

The police station, which is next to Baghdad's police academy and opposite the Interior Ministry, was not badly damaged.

According to Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television, there were two explosions.

A police spokesman said the station's chief, General Amer, had a grenade lobbed at his house on Monday night.

Speculation here is that the intended target was the Iraqi Police Chief. If so, I hope we've dodged a bullet and that security will be such as to prevent another attack at this location.

I hope.


And not a bit like The Great Santini.
“He’s real nice — you could talk to him about anything. I kind of feel different now, like I’m the man of the house and stuff.

“I’m scared,” Stanley said. “Like if he never comes back, life is going to be real hard.”

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2d. The 114th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Monday, September 01, 2003


Iraq finally has a cabinet.
The U.S.-picked Iraqi Governing Council named a 25-member Cabinet on Monday, a much-delayed move that could accelerate the return of some powers from the American occupation administration to local authorities...

U.S. officials have voiced frustration at the slowness with which the council has gotten to work, especially in regard to taking a greater role in Iraqi security and gathering intelligence that might block attacks on American forces and prominent Iraqis.

The council said it had been prepared to announce the government list late last week but delayed it because of the Najaf bombing.

The naming of the government was the third major achievement of the council since it was formed in July.

After considerable delay, the council settled on a nine-member presidency with officials serving on a rotating, monthly basis. The council also has set up a commission to study how the country will proceed toward selecting members of a constitutional assembly to write a new legal framework for Iraq.

Iraqi police say they appreciate some of the new equipment and training Americans are providing, but they resent being lectured by US soldiers half their age. They ridicule Americans as too soft on the bad guys and have shown more than once that they know best how to catch criminals of the sort they've been chasing for years. Iraqis also worry that the United States is trying to impose a Western-style justice system that doesn't always translate in their Muslim-dominated culture.

"We have the same aim: to prevent crime. But we don't understand some of their ways, and they don't understand ours," said Jasim, a 19-year police veteran. "Somehow, we managed to do it before the Americans were here."

Americans counter that the old Iraqi police system, often used as an instrument of oppression during Saddam Hussein's regime, was undisciplined and plagued by corruption. Suspects were routinely beaten, US officials say, and police solicited bribes to compensate for the low police salaries.

According to Kerik, Iraqis need to learn some basics. "It seems normal to us, but you have to explain to them that you can't do things like torture and physical abuse," he said.

So far, the authority's limited presence in the south has not been a show-stopper because the Marines moved to fill the nation-building gap. But a look at the multinational force taking over from the Marines shows that this is not a homogenous division — it will have a Polish headquarters and brigade, a Spanish brigade and a Ukrainian brigade.

The Polish-led divisional headquarters will be based at Camp Babylon in Hillil. The Spanish will be based in Diwaniyah and the Ukrainians in Kut. There will also be smaller contributions from a host of nations, including forces from Eastern Europe, Asia and Central America. Even Mongolia is sending a small contingent...

The symbolism of having forces from a wide array of nations is impressive, but stitching all those odds and ends together to make an efficient division will not be a simple task. These are forces that are not accustomed to working together, have little or no experience in this region and varying degrees of experience in civil affairs.


I'm certain this is not the intended outcome - to delay the US Marines from leaving Iraq.

The United States Marines have postponed turning over control of the area around the city of Najaf to Polish-led forces after last week's devastating bombing at the city's holiest Shiite shrine.

A spokesman for the United States Central Command, Col. Ray Shepherd, said the planned transfer had been delayed by at least two weeks. He said the American military authorities in Iraq were working out the details of how many members of the force would remain in Najaf.

In Najaf, Maj. Rick Hall, spokesman for the First Battalion, Seventh Marines, said the transfer of the south-central territory around Najaf to an international force led by Poland, set for this week, had been put on hold.


Meanwhile, the Saudi government has challenged assertions that Saudis were involved in the bombing.

Which raises the question to me...what happens when it is proved to be so?
Saudi Arabia yesterday challenged those who claimed its citizens were involved in the bomb attack in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf to produce the evidence. "Some sources in Iraq have said that Saudi citizens were involved in the terrorist incident which claimed the life of (prominent cleric and politician) Mohammad Baqer Al Hakim," a foreign ministry spokesman said, quoted by the official SPA news agency.

"These sources did not present any proof for their claims.

"The government of Saudi Arabia hopes these sources will reveal the information they have and pass it on to the government of the kingdom instead of making unsubstantiated allegations," he added.


If there is any truth to this it is in some ways amusing.

Terrorists who are apparently smart enough to pack a car with explosives and put it in exactly the right place to kill their target then cannot contain their excitement and attract all kind of attention by waving money around an internet cafe.
Two Saudis arrested after the Najaf attack in Iraq that killed leading Shiite cleric Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim were picked up after sending an e-mail saying "mission accomplished: the dog is dead", The Times reported today quoting a source close to the Iraqi inquiry.

The men were grabbed by a crowd and taken to the nearest police station after being seen sending the e-mail from an Internet cafe, the source said.

The bombing on Friday in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf killed at least 83 people including Ayatollah Hakim, regarded as a moderate Shiite.

The two suspects apparently attracted the attention of the son of the cafe owner after having "offered a larger than usual sum of money to use a computer", the British daily said.

It was then that the son saw the men send a message saying "mission accomplished: the dog is dead".

August 31, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-64



BAGHDAD, Iraq – Life gets a little better in Iraqi towns due to Coalition assistance. Coalition forces are helping Iraqis by installing a generator at a water lift station, by providing jobs for Iraqis who have technical and mechanical skills and by providing a local law enforcement agency with hand-held radios.

Navy Seabees helped install a 1.3-megawatt generator at the Kish Water Lift Station that provides water to about 50,000 hectares of farmland in south central Iraq. The station was supposed to be reworked three years ago but the parts ordered didn’t fit. As a result, the project was abandoned.

The new generator, which is so large it had to be moved into place with a crane, was refurbished in Kuwait this summer and transported to the city of Ad Diwaniyah to await installation at the plant.

In Umm Qasr, a port town in southern Iraq, many townspeople are employed by the British Army and enjoy working alongside their military counterparts. The Iraqi employees who work with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers proved their mechanical skills by completing two days of practical tests. The role requires mechanics to complete major vehicle repairs, such as engine and gearbox changes.

In Mosul, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) recently purchased 49 hand-held radios for the Mosul Police Department. The radios will be used to help the newly trained police force communicate throughout the Ninevah Province.

Additionally, the 101st is helping the Iraqi Public Safety Office draft a contract for $10 million in communications assets to go to ambulance services, fire departments and the Ministry of Civil Defense, as well as other police officers.

The communications systems will help the Iraqi public safety organizations rebuild their infrastructure and will allow them to play a larger role in providing a safe and secure environment in Iraq.

August 31, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-65



TIKRIT, Iraq – One Task Force Ironhorse, 4th Infantry Division soldier drowned and two were wounded when the military vehicle they were riding in, while on routine patrol, fell into a canal in the Tikrit area at approximately 6:15 p.m. EST on Aug. 29.

The two injured soldiers where evacuated to the 21st Combat Support Hospital where they were treated and returned to duty.

The names of the soldiers are being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin.

The accident is under investigation
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 1st. Labor day...and the 113th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

Sunday, August 31, 2003


I have my suspicions about his motivation.
Mohammad Bahr al-Uloom, a Shiite dignitary on Iraq's Governing Council, announced on Saturday he was suspending his membership of the interim body in protest against Friday's bombing in this holy city that claimed the lives of a top Shiite leader and 82 others.

"This indifference (about protecting Shiite holy sites) prompts me to suspend my membership of the Governing Council, which was unable to assume its responsibility of ensuring that coalition forces protect our people, holy sites and religious authorities," Bahr al-Uloom said in a statement.

If we are to avoid a debate over who "lost" Iraq, we must act urgently to transform our military success into political victory.

We fought a just war in Iraq to end the threat posed by a dictator with a record of aggression against his people and his neighbors and a proven willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against both.

Iraq's transformation into a progressive Arab state could set the region that produced Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, and al Qaeda on a new course in which democratic expression and economic prosperity, rather than a radicalizing mix of humiliation, poverty and repression, define a modernity in the Muslim world that does not express itself in ways that threaten its people or other nations. Conversely, a forced U.S. retreat from Iraq would be the most serious American defeat since Vietnam...

Having liberated Iraq, we must demonstrate the tangible benefits of occupation, which the Iraqi silent majority will tolerate if it successfully delivers services, law and order and a transition to Iraqi rule. The danger is that our failure to improve daily life, security, and Iraqis' participation in their own governance will erode their patience and fuel insurrection.

We do not have time to spare. If we do not meaningfully improve services and security in Iraq over the next few months, it may be too late. We will risk an irreversible loss of Iraqi confidence and reinforce the efforts of extremists who seek our defeat and threaten Iraq's democratic future.


Couple had five children in the Army in Iraq.
Ron and Mary Harper perhaps feared the war in Iraq the most. Five of their children, all in the Army, went to the embattled country, and they worried each day about them all.

Now, all five — a daughter, three sons and a son-in-law — are safely home.

"How many people can say they sent five children out to war and got them all back?" Mary Harper said Friday. "You send five over there. You hear of all these killings every day, and you wonder, Are they going to come home alive? We're thrilled they're all back. We're blessed."


I'm no fan of this guy...but I appreciate his message here.
"They have a saying in the news business," Geraldo Rivera related this week. "Reporters don't report buildings that don't burn."

And with that introduction, he told a TV audience about the story that is being systematically denied to our entire nation: the success story of post-Saddam Iraq.

Are we losing some soldiers each week? Yes. Is there some frustration in the public about electricity and water service? Yes.

Are some Saddam Hussein loyalists scurrying throughout the land, making trouble? Yes. Has this opened a window for some terrorist mischief? Yes.

But that's all we hear. No wonder the country is in a mixed mood about Iraq.

If you hear about the buildings that are not burning, though, it is a different story indeed...

"When I got to Baghdad, I barely recognized it," he began, comparing his just-completed trip to two others he made during and just after the battle to topple Saddam. "You have over 30,000 Iraqi cops and militiamen already on the job. This is four months after major fighting stopped.

"Can you imagine that kind of gearing up in this country? Law and order is better; archaeological sites are being preserved; factories, schools are being guarded."

But what about the secondhand griping that the media have been so efficiently relating about power, water and other infrastructure?

"To say that Iraq is being rebuilt is not true," answered Rivera. "Iraq is being built. There was no infrastructure before; we are doing it. I just think the good news is being underestimated and underreported."

At this juncture, one must evaluate how to feel about the voices telling us only about the bad news in Iraq, whether from the mouths of news anchors or Democratic presidential hopefuls.

At best, they are underinformed. At worst, their one-sided assessments of post-Saddam Iraq are intentional falsehoods.


Seems to be that it's time for the US to get over it and ask the UN for help.

Not sure how I feel about that from a big picture standpoint, but the selfish part of me wants us to do most anything to bring CPT Patti back home soon and safe.
Detroit Free Press: While more and more Americans might be so inclined, the grim truth is that the United States cannot simply walk away from this mess, which was partly of its making. However, it is time to stop worrying about who's going to be in charge of Iraq, since at present, it seems no one is. It is time to invite, or entreat, the United Nations to deliver a substantial peacekeeping force to augment and relieve exhausted coalition troops. If that takes a joint command structure, so be it. It is time to stop expecting that Iraq can be rebuilt under the direction of the United States and give the United Nations a substantial role in this project.

The Iraqi people, the vast majority of whom are relieved to be rid of Hussein and are simply anxious for better days, need more than America has been able to deliver. The American people, while understanding the long-term commitment that has been made, are anxious to see Iraq made more secure for our forces, and for as many of them as possible to be coming home.

New York Times: ...If you think we don't have enough troops in Iraq now — which we don't — wait and see if the factions there start going at each other. America would have to bring back the draft to deploy enough troops to separate the parties. In short, we are at a dangerous moment in Iraq. We cannot let sectarian violence explode. We cannot go on trying to do this on the cheap. And we cannot succeed without more Iraqi and allied input...

Our Iraq strategy needs an emergency policy lobotomy. President Bush needs to shift to a more U.N.-friendly approach, with more emphasis on the Iraqi Army (the only force that can effectively protect religious sites in Iraq and separate the parties), and with more input from Secretary of State Colin Powell and less from the "we know everything and everyone else is stupid" civilian team running the Pentagon.

The Arizona Republic: The administration is seeking U.N. sponsorship of a multinational military force that would bolster the 138,000 U.S. troops there, as well as the significant British and Polish contingents. The Bush proposal reflects a new flexibility on the administration's part regarding U.N. involvement in Iraq. It's a welcome change.

Memphis Commercial Appeal: American forces in Iraq are stretched too thin. Shortages are especially acute in such specialties as military police, engineers and civil administration officials - the personnel who are most essential to the rebuilding effort.

If the administration is reluctant to commit more U.S. troops, money or other resources to Iraq, it could call upon the UN, NATO and Arab countries to contribute peacekeeping and security forces. It could ask other nations to shoulder part of the cost of rebuilding Iraq's battered economy - an estimated $100 billion over five years.

But that would require the United States to cede some of its authority over the postwar transition - at least political and economic matters, if not military and security ones - to international organizations. That's something the White House appears loath to do, despite the President's comparison last week of the Iraqi occupation to the post-World War II reconstruction of Germany and Japan, which he conceded "took years, not months."


But it seems we aren't too keen on the idea of arming and organizing a whole bunch of Iraqis into quasi-military groups.
Stung by Friday's deadly car bombing, American and Iraqi officials said Saturday that they are discussing the possibility of forming a large Iraqi paramilitary force to help stabilize the security situation in the country.

Iraqis involved in the talks said the force could consist of thousands of Iraqis already screened by the various political parties for prior affiliations with Saddam Hussein's government. Iraqi officials said such a militia could ultimately take control of Iraqi cities from American soldiers.

Some Iraqi leaders said a force of several thousand men, most of them with military experience, could be ready in little more than a month.

American officials acknowledged that discussions were under way but declined to talk about details. They suggested that for the talks to succeed, they would have to address American worries about unregulated, untrained bands of armed men operating under separate commands around the country.

Security details "should be unified, and they should be recognized as Iraqi security forces and not belonging to individual groups or parties," said Charles Heatley, a spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority here.

The fear among the Americans has long been that the militia groups, far from bringing order to Baghdad, would attack one another.

Plans for an Iraqi militia have been in the works to guard such things as power plants and troop convoys. But the Iraqis said the force under discussion could be much more ambitious. One difference being discussed, they said, is to deploy members to various parts of the country, instead of relying on local unregulated militias.
US forces and Iraqi police have arrested 19 men in connection with the car bomb attack that killed a top cleric and scores of his followers, a senior Iraqi investigator said yesterday...

Prominent among the dead was Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer Al Hakim, a moderate religious and political leader who had advocated cautious co-operation with the occupiers.

The official said two Iraqis and two Saudis were detained shortly after the bombing on Friday, admitted Al Qaeda ties and gave information leading to the arrest of the 15 others. They include two Kuwaitis and six Palestinians with Jordanian passports. The remainder were Iraqis and Saudis the official said.

"Initial information shows they (the foreigners) entered the country from Kuwait, Syria and Jordan," the official said.

In a related story, this:Iraqi police have arrested four men for the bombing of Iraq's most holy Shiite Muslim shrine, and all four have connections to al-Qaida.

CBS News reported Saturday that the suspects, two Iraqis and two Saudis, were caught shortly after the car bombing that also killed one of the most important Shiite clerics in Iraq. The dead cleric, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, had been cooperating with the American occupation force.

CBS News, in Baghdad, said the alleged involvement of Saudis "in itself reinforces what the Bush administration and Iraqi officials have been saying, that the terrorist attacks are the work of outside groups in league with pro-Saddam Iraqi conspirators."

A senior police official told CBS that the prisoners told of other plots to kill political and religious leaders and to damage vital installations such as electricity generation plants, water supplies and oil pipelines.
August 29, 2003
Release Number: 03-08-60



AR RAMADI, Iraq - Soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and a team from 490th Civil Affairs Detachment inspected on August 24 three schools currently under renovation in the neighborhood of Sofia.

Soldiers from 3rd ACR sponsor the renovation of the schools and arrange and pay local contractors to renovate and repair them. The schools have fallen into disrepair due to neglect and lack of maintenance. Coalition forces are repairing the schools in order to draw students back and encourage them to further their education.

Contractors are finishing the renovation of Tawheed Primary School. Reconstruction of Atamatu Secondary School is also underway. In addition to improved classrooms, renovations at Atamatu include a brand new lavatory facility. The reconstruction has been in progress for approximately one week and will be completed within the next two weeks.

The Risala Secondary School was in poor condition from years of neglect and poor materials used in its original construction. Renovation already in progress shows vast improvements. The local citizens informed Coalition forces that it was the first time in the school's history that anybody had done any repairs or renovation to the school.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 31st. The 112th day of CPT Patti's deployment.