Saturday, November 15, 2003


Und don't bosser us mit der facts und realities...
The German government on Saturday reiterated it would not send troops to help stabilize Iraq, contradicting EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who said Berlin was no longer opposed helping out militarily.

Germany, one of the staunchest opponents of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, remains steadfast in its refusal to send soldiers to Iraq, despite growing worries amongst the international community that the country is becoming increasingly unstable.


There is a touch of old-fashioned American evangelism in President Bush's explanation of his fundamental decision to go to war in Iraq.
He views it as a natural and essential part of a critical mission — or as he puts it, "the calling of our time, the calling of our country" — to convert the world to democracy.

Freedom, he declares in speech after speech, is not a right granted by governments, it is a right granted by God. And he believes that in some way God has "called" America to be the bold champion of freedom across the world so that eventually all people can be free.

Thus, he believes that America is doing God's work, although he doesn't directly say it that way. He put it like this in a speech last Monday in Little Rock:

"It should be clear that the future of freedom and peace depend on the actions of America. This nation is freedom's home and freedom's defender. We welcome this charge of history, and we are keeping it." ...

Presidential historian Robert Dallek, who admits to not being a Bush fan, calls the president's mission "American evangelism run wild."

Whatever it is, Bush is articulating a vision that deserves closer examination and debate, not just dismissal. The future of freedom could be at stake.
Syria says no militants crossing its border to Iraq

DAMASCUS, Nov. 15 — Syria denied on Saturday that foreign militants were crossing its border to fight U.S. forces occupying Iraq.


Thinking the Iraqi Governing Council to be acting like the "nouveau riche" with all their jetting about and glad handing while there is real work to be done...the President lays it down.

Can the Iraqi's pick it up?
The plan would mean the end of the U.S.-led coalition administration in Iraq, but not the end of the American troop presence. American administrators will hand over sovereignty to a new transitional government by June, the Iraqi Governing Council announced in Baghdad.


The head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. John Abizaid, has ordered hundreds of his staff members to move to CentCom's forward headquarters in Qatar to cope with the increased pace of military operations in Iraq.

The shift in staff - with Abizaid himself expecting to spend more time in the region - reflects the military's view that large-scale operations will continue in Iraq for an extended period.

The latest of those operations - dubbed "Iron Hammer" - continued Friday as a U.S. Apache helicopter gunship killed seven suspected guerrillas near Tikrit. On Thursday night, F-16 fighter jets destroyed a building near the Syrian border that was suspected of being used to stage attacks.

Senior Army officers, who asked not to be named, said 300 to 400 staff members would return to Qatar and join 150 staffers who've been there since active combat ended last spring. The size of the forward headquarters staff has ebbed and flowed with the pace of operations.

The Army officers said Abizaid already was spending two-thirds of his time in Qatar and Iraq.

AN American gunship killed seven Iraqis about to rocket a US base yesterday.

The Apache helicopter was on patrol north of Saddam's hometown of Tikrit.

It destroyed a flatbed lorry carrying a large rocket and a pick-up truck loaded with 50 rockets.

After the strike soldiers found more than 600 missiles and rockets hidden in two nearby bunkers.


I'd call this progress. You?
Women and children stared down at the ruckus from sheet-covered balconies. Startled peddlers stood frozen by their donkey carts.

"God bless the police!" shouted a shopkeeper as the men in blue passed by.

"What took you so long?" called out another.

Such a happy scene would have been unimaginable a year ago. The Iraqi police force was as tainted as the rest of Saddam Hussein's security forces, feared for its casual brutality and powers to spy, residents said.

But there in person was the police chief of Baghdad, Hassan al-Obeidi, smiling as he walked with his troops past the ramshackle car repair shops with mufflers hanging from the doorways like sausages. Even more astonishing to the onlookers, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim, deputy interior minister and boss of the Iraqi national police, strode along at the head of the procession, asking, even pleading, for people to help him fight crime.

"Help us to protect you and preserve security," General Ibrahim, wearing a black bulletproof vest and a black Gauloises cap, shouted through a megaphone above the din.


You may not have known about these.

I'll be visiting one on Sunday to visit CPT Will. He and his family are in one in Landstuhl.

Worthy of a donation, don't you think?

Read it all.
His wife stayed in the Fisher House at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., the hospital where Alaniz spent his first weeks. His parents stayed at the Fisher House next to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Alaniz one day was allowed to visit.

“My mom cooked,” he said. “That’s when I really realized what it was.” His parents stayed three weeks. A home away from home, he said.

That was the vision of New York building contractor and philanthropist Zachary Fisher and his wife, Elizabeth. Between 1990 and his death in 1999, Fisher had 26 houses built for military and veteran families, taking his cue from Ronald McDonald homes for families of ill children. But the Fishers wanted to expand on their history of helping service families.

Each home has eight bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, living room and laundry. Six more have opened since Fisher’s death, financed now though fund-raising, private contributions and the Combined Federal Campaign. New homes are being built at a pace of one every eight months.

Troops traveling from the war zone on a little R&R will not have to foot the bill for plane tickets home.

A new law diverts $55 million from the Army’s Operation and Maintenance fund into a personnel fund so that the service can pay for domestic flights for troops coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan on the military’s 15-day Rest and Recuperation program...

From Iraq, vacationing troops leave Camp Champion in Kuwait and fly free on military-chartered civilian planes to one of four designated airports: Rhein Main Air Base in Frankfurt, Germany; Baltimore Washington International Airport, Maryland; Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport in Georgia or Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Texas.

From there, troops were on their own in paying for airline tickets to hometowns or wherever they chose to spend their two weeks of R&R, until the provision — an amendment to the $87.5 billion Iraq supplemental and sponsored by Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., and Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., and which was signed into law Nov. 6 by President Bush.

It specifically states that the funding applies only to troops leaving Iraq and Afghanistan from approved debarkation points on the R&R program and tickets are paid for flights to those troops’ home of record, said Adam Peterman, senior legislative assistant for Rep. Ramstad.

And it is retroactive, which means the hundreds of troops who already have taken leave can seek reimbursement for those tickets, Rep. Moore said.


CPT Patti has been surrounded by various shades of sand, taupe, khaki and dust for 188 days now.

Our girl called this morning (Whoo Hoo!!). We talked for nearly an hour.

However, mostly we talked of our I don't have nearly an hour's worth of stuff to report to you.

But she sounds terrific. She says that her FOB (Forward Operating Base...that is, where they live and work) has been fortunate in that so far there have been very little in the way of attacks. She contrasts that to nearly every other FOB in the 1st Brigade.

When I asked her if she knew why their's was so fortunate...she says the popular theory is that they employ so many Iraqis that their FOB is perhaps protected by a sense of good will.

I hope she's correct.

Me...I am preparing for to travel to the USA on Wednesday. And there is just too much to do. Today I spent all day trying to chase down computer equipment and ensure everything can talk to everything else so we can make the special Christmas ornaments for our soldiers at Monday's FRG meeting. As well, I packed up six boxes to be mailed today. One to Pastor Paul and Sweet Sue (my In-Laws) and 5 to CPT Patti (she sent me a shopping list...)

Tomorrow I will be visiting CPT Will who is recovering in Landstuhl - so there is another day in which I will not have the luxury of sitting at the computer and sharing the news with you.

I'll get back to it I is just that my real life is interfering with my on-line life these days.

By the you may have already guessed...come Wednesday when I fly to the USA...the CPT Patti site will undergo a Time Warp.

Since I will be on the east coast of the USA my postings will be at least 8 hours later than they normally happen. Not too bad for those of you in the USA...but my dear friends here in Deutschland...well, effectively that may mean an entire day's time shift.

Unless I get up about 2:00 a.m. to post.

Which ain't gonna happen.

I like ya, but I never said I luv ya...

Friday, November 14, 2003


And there is no way the kids know how wonderful the soldiers think this is.
For students at Chilton Elementary, there is a major change at school this year. Their principal is gone, serving in Iraq with the U.S. Army reserves.

While Rich Appel is on the other side of the globe, his presence is still at the school. The students are learning a lot more than reading and math.

"We miss him, and it's really sad," student Ashley Schoenborn said.

Students spent Thursday making CARE packages for Appel and his fellow soldiers.

"This would be something I bet they'd really like," one student remarked as they put the packages together.

Todd said his brother would always wear Vikings shirts and Vikings hats, so he decided to send his brother a big Vikings flag for the holidays.

Todd called the team office and offered to buy one, asking if some of the players would sign it for the soldier.

Todd was thrilled when he received a flag signed by some star players (pictured, right), including quarterback Daunte Culpepper and wide receiver Randy Moss.

Read the entire story of this noncommissioned officer. It's guys like him that make NCOs the "backbone of the Army"

And note the dig at the all-terrorists-all-the-time network...
While recuperating in the hospital, he was approached by a U.S. military officer in search of a photo opportunity. Obligingly, Walden posed with the officer from his hospital bed.

After the snapshot, the officer instructed 34-year-old to call home and tell his family "it’s not true." At the time, Walden said he had no idea why the officer made such a strange request. It was only later that he found out Arab TV station Al Jazeera had reported Walden and his Bradley members dead.

Today, alive and well, he carries a copy of the news report with him, along with the Purple Heart he earned to remind him of that Independence Day.
“You get over there and it is a totally different world. It’s not about the big country (of) Iraq being free. It’s about the individual father, mother, child in Iraq getting their life back. (Our soldiers) see it; they know it.”

But then, when you've already defiled your holiest city and your holiest religious observance, what's an ambulance or two?
Three ambulances packed with explosives, one with as much as 1,000 kilograms, were discovered by US and Iraqi forces here in the past few days, a senior US military spokesman said on Thursday.

"Terrorists have taken on a new ambitious tactic in recent days. Iraqi and coalition security forces have foiled numerous attacks involving ambulances," said Lt-Col George Krivo. "Two Iraqi ambulances were stopped at a checkpoint in Baghdad. While the first ambulance was being searched, the second one sped off," he said.

Krivo said "once the ambulance was searched, it was found to contain over 500 pounds of explosives." He said Iraqi police found in Baghdad’s southern Al-Dura neighbourhood an ambulance filled with 1,000 kilograms of explosives.

Consider the situation this puts the Iraqis well as our soldiers. A speeding ambulance now is something to question.

How many Iraqi's will now die because ambulances must now be stopped and searched?



Because one wouldn't want the Iraqis to thrive in peace and freedom....
At least two of the four suicide bombers who struck Baghdad on Oct. 27 appear to have been Saudis, another sign of the growing role of foreign fighters in the Iraqi insurgency, a senior Iraqi security official said.


Or so says this Arab writer.

It is a very good piece...go read the whole thing here.
President Bush's current commendable democracy initiative in the Middle East is no less ambitious than teaching donkeys how to talk.

The Arab world is cursed with 17 dictatorships. They have been there for so long that extracting them is no easy matter.

None of them will fade away without a fight.


This school class "prayed every day" for the soldiers.
Steering clear of unfamiliar animals ... finding huge caches of money ... passing the time with pickup games of flag football.

Those were snippets of the days spent in Baghdad by Tiffin resident and member of an Army firefighting unit, David Baker.

Home on a two-week leave, Baker came to share his experiences with St. Mary's School third graders in Marsha Marinis' class Thursday afternoon. His daughter, Clairese Huffman, is in the class and had asked her classmates to pray for him.

"We wrote him a letter and prayed every day for him,'' Marinis said.


Looks like they defeated Japan.
Japan put off a decision today to send troops to Iraq, a day after the deadliest attack on coalition forces since the war, and South Korea capped its contribution at 3,000 soldiers: new setbacks to U.S. hopes for easing the pressure on its forces.

But they didn't defeat Italy.

Senator Zell Miller of Georgia that is. Here he makes happen that which was long overdue.

One soldier’s death, a determined family and Georgia lawmakers touched by their story set in motion a bill that would automatically grant posthumous U.S. citizenship to non-naturalized troops killed in combat.

Both houses of Congress now have blessed the bill, embedded in the 2004 Defense Authorization Bill; the Senate passed it Wednesday and the House of Representatives on Nov. 7. The bill now goes to the president for a signature...

“Although Diego wasn’t born in this country, he and many others have died on the battlefield fighting for it,” said Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., who co-sponsored the bill with a fellow Georgian, Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

“I am pleased they will all now have this final honor,” Miller said.


Another reason for Americans to be proud of our soldiers.

Staff Sgt. Thanh Phan has put the sparkle back in the eyes of a 7-year-old Iraqi girl named H’ora.

Until last week, H’ora’s one good eye stood out from the dark, sunken socket where her right one used to be.

She now has matching brown eyes after Phan spent $125 for a new glass eye and the surgery to put it in.

“She’s a beautiful, beautiful child,” said Phan, an air ambulance team sergeant for the 57th Medical Company’s detachment...

“It looks pretty good, pretty natural,” he said. “You know, it was like seeing some of our patients after we drop them off at the hospital … and a couple of days later they’re doing a lot better.”

H’ora not only has a new eye, she’s got a new sense of self-confidence.

“The girl’s mother said she’s very happy,” he said. “More happy and outgoing. They thanked me and were telling me ‘thanks’ to the American forces.”

The mother told Phan that she would pray for the American forces’ safe return to their families back in the United States.

“She commented on the generosity of our people and the soldiers in general,” he said.

Phan said he felt it was the least he could do.

“I spend more money buying stupid stuff,” he said. “It doesn’t make a big impact on me, but it makes a huge difference to her.”

Another jewel has just been added to SSG Phan's heavenly crown.
November 13, 2003
Release Number: 03-11-13



BAGHDAD, Iraq – Task Force 1st Armored Division kicked off “Operation Iron Hammer” Nov. 12 with two separate actions on enemy forces.

The first strike occurred at approximately 8:30 p.m. in the vicinity of Abu Ghuraib. A van suspected of launching mortar attacks against Coalition sites was given chase by ground forces. The van made stops at several sites. Aerial support followed the van out of the village and an AH-64 Apache helicopter conducted an attack on the vehicle. The attack resulted in 2 KIA, 3 WIA, and 5 individuals captured. At a search of the first site where the vehicle stopped, 1st Armored Division soldiers recovered one 82mm mortar launch tube. A search of the other sites is ongoing.

The second strike occurred at approximately 9 p.m. in the vicinity of Al Sadia when an AC-130 Spectre Gunship targeted an abandoned warehouse suspected by intelligence reports to be used to plan and launch attacks on Coalition Forces in the vicinity. There are no reports of personnel in the vicinity of the warehouse at the time of the attack. The building was destroyed.

Operation Iron Hammer is a joint operation to target enemy operating areas, deny the enemy the opportunity to stage weapons for use against Coalition Forces and the citizens of Baghdad, and destroy enemy forces conducting enemy mortar attacks against Baghdad.

Operation Iron Hammer is ongoing.

November 13, 2003
Release Number: 03-11-15



MOSUL, IRAQ– Iraqi children led soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) to two improvised explosive devices in Mosul Nov. 11, and soldiers discovered a third device before it exploded.

In the first incident, two children led members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team to two IEDs near the Qayyarah Civil Military Operations Center at about 7 p.m. Nov. 11.

In the second incident, a patrol from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team found an unexploded IED in Mosul near one of the five major bridges at about 8:15 p.m.
In an unrelated incident, a civilian turned in 68 rocket-propelled grenades, 96 anti-tank RPG warheads, 16 anti-personnel RPG warheads, and 107 RPG propellant charges to the Division Headquarters in Mosul.

Additionally, soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team discovered 100 rounds
of 82mm mortar in east Mosul at around 10:45 a.m. Nov. 12.

The continued efforts of the citizens of Mosul to turn in weapons and identify hostile areas to Coalition Forces help maintain stability and security in the area.


CPT Patti hasn't worn perfume for the past 187 days while she has been deployed to Baghdad.

Me...well, it didn't stop me from buying her some while I was in Italy last weekend.


Thursday, November 13, 2003


CPT Patti has been working 15 to 18 hours per day for 186 days.

I got the rare email note from her today...and in part it read I sang a solo at the Battalion Prayer Breakfast and led the Congregational Hymn. It went well.

Then, I had a new client in my office, a staff sergeant who had just returned from Baghdad. He was assigned to a tank unit there.

I mentioned my wife was in Baghdad...and showed him her picture. He exclaimed, "I know her! She is THE nicest person!!!

So how about that. After 186 days she still has the spirit within her to make strangers feel good...she still has the spirit in her to sing praises to God.

There is nothing I can read or write today that can improve on what I've already learned.

So I won't try.

Please visit again tomorrow...after I've finished having a good cry over my astonishing good luck at being married to the Sweetest Woman on the Planet.

And thanks for understanding.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003


Comic Relief

I believe this guy speaks for many of us. (Thanks, Frank)

And if there has been a better song parody than this one, I've not heard it. (Appreciate it, John)

MilBlogs is a web ring of bloggers who have a direct stake in the global war on terror.

The MilBlogs motto is
MilBlogs: Free Speech from those who help make it possible.

If you are not familiar with Web Rings...they work like this. All members of the "ring" are sort of linked together in a circle. By clicking on the "Previous, List, Random, Next" buttons under the logo you will be taken to visit another military related blog in the ring. And the byword of the ring:

"Members are aware of the liklihood of difference of opinions between fellow members, and although we may not agree with each other on everything we say we will fight for the rights of each other to say it. "

Go take a ride on the MilBlog ring.

And thanks to Greyhawk for getting it all started.

Dresden and Hiroshima? Examples of how, when we've had to, we've been willing to do what had to be done to defeat the enemy.

Victor Davis Hanson has this to say about the recent phenomenon of the US trying to "out-nice" our enemies:
We should accept that they are at war with us and cease the intellectual dishonesty and moral cowardice that makes us worry about bombing during Ramadan in Afghanistan while our religious enemies seek to inaugurate these same holidays with the murders of Americans.

When you are at war and you care more about the sanctity of your enemies' religious holidays than they do, you are in serious trouble.

Emphasis mine.

With that in mind, consider this chilling message from another source:

There exist ways to compensate for such [intelligence] limitations, to be sure, but an army that would court-martial Lieutenant-Colonel Allen West for scaring a prisoner into a confession with a harmless pistol shot does not have the stomach for them.

If our commitment to the war on terror is less than our aversion to necessary tools of victory, we will most certainly lose.

UPDATE: And now I read the story of CPT Hornbuckle...who is evidently as legitimate war hero as SGT York or Audie Murphy...but his name is unknown to us, while that of PFC Lynch is known to everyone. Why is that? Well, we don't have a stomach for war...and we have come to somehow revere "victims", says this article:

Asked why the Army didn't do more to publicize Capt. Hornbuckle's feats, Richard Olson, a public-affairs officer for Capt. Hornbuckle's battalion, says the thought never occurred to him. "An aspect of a soldier is that he's trained to kill," he says. "And I don't know that the public is comfortable with that."

"There's a funny shift," says John A. Lynn, who teaches military history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "We want to fight wars but we don't want any of our people to die and we don't really want to hurt anybody else.

I've kept my mouth shut about Ms. Lynch's book...but from an old soldier's perspective well, here goes.

I appreciate her honesty in not taking credit for things she didn't do. But that must then focus us on what she did do.

In various interviews and book excerpts we have learned that the "gun jammed", that she "never fired a shot" and that she "dropped to her knees and prayed".

A Soldier is a part of the team. The team is only as strong, to use the cliche, as it's weakest member. Every Soldier is a rifleman first. Every Soldier is trained in "immediate action drills" to correct a weapon jam. Any Soldier will tell you the number one cause of a jam is failure to maintain the weapon keep it cleaned and serviced.

I wasn't there. I've never been in a firefight. I may be as wrong as it is possible to be.

But if I'm on a team in a firefight and a team member fails to maintain a weapon and that weapon jams and that team member is incapable of the simple steps to clear the jam...if that team member does nothing to engage the enemy and contribute to saving the team...well, that team member is, to say the least, not helpful...and is in fact a detriment to the team.

My point: it seems a bit unseemly in my mind to be publicly rolling in the dough as a result of one's inaction which may have contributed to the deaths of other Soldiers on that team.

To criticise the Army as "manipulating" the story of the rescue and "using" go on TV show after TV publish a book, to authorize a movie...and the implication of your best message is "I failed as a rifleman when my fellow Soldiers most needed a capable rifleman" is unseemly.

Forgive me if you disagree with me. See my caveats above. But an instinct born of a lotta years in uniform leads me to these conclusions.

Go read the story of CPT Hornbuckle...a soldier's hero.

(thanks Smash, for the lead)

Please note that this is the official news organ of the Palestinians.

A Logistician's lament.

After action reports from the 3d Infantry Division's involvement in Operation Iraqi Freedom includes the following critique:
Combat service support units intended to resupply units on the battlefield were unprepared for security requirements, and lacked machine gun mounts and adequate communications equipment. Because the supply units could not secure themselves during convoys, combat units had to divert assets to secure them.

This critique comes from OIF but could just as well have come from Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea or World War II.

Because the Army cuts corners on logistics. And all the lip service that will inevitably follow this report will do zilch to change it will be exactly and only that...lip service.

The problem is this: The battlefield is a complex place and increasingly no longer resembles the extended fronts of WW I and WW II. The 3d ID raced willy nilly from Kuwait to Baghdad virtually non stop.

Logistics units that provide the "beans and bullets" (not to mention the fuel, the repair parts, the water...) have to keep pace with the "killers" (Infantry, Armor, Artillery). But inevitably these same logistics units are understaffed as a result of deliberate decisions made by the Army leadership...and the predictable, but apparently unlearnable result of this is...well, exactly the complaints listed above.

Let me use this real world example from recent history to explain:

You have read or heard about the new Stryker brigades that will be deploying in the near future. I worked very closely with the guys at Fort Lee, Virginia, home to the Army's Quartermaster Corps - the heart of Army logistics, as they designed the logistics package that would support the Stryker brigade.

The Quartermaster guys, working closely with the Transporation and Ordnance guys, undertook a tactical and operational analysis of support that would be required given the size of the fighting force in the Stryker brigade, and the equipment within it.

They presented the results of their analysis to the Army leadership...saying we need X Quartermaster Soldiers of these various specialties...Y truckers, etc., in order to do the job you are tasking us to do.

The response of the leadership was at once inconceivable and routine.

No...they said. That is too many people. You will cut that number by over half.

Grasp that. The professionals who know what it takes to support the pointy end of the spear analysed the needs based upon the capabilities required to develop the number of troops needed.

But the leadership picked a number out of thin air and told the Logisticians to figure out how to make that number of soldiers do the required mission. (Actually the number isn't plucked from thin air...the number is arrived at this way: X equals the notional number of troops we will put in this new Stryker brigade. Y is the number of "Killer" soldiers required based upon the operational analysis of the Killers. Z is the number of spaces left over to be doled out for the Logisticians and other Combat Support and Combat Service Support troops. It isn't picking it out of the air, but it might as well be)

Imagine this: You tell me our mission is to drive the 243 miles between Charlotte and Atlanta and ask how much fuel we will need. I calculate the requirements based upon the actual miles per gallon performace of our vehicle. I return to tell you it will require 8 gallons of gas to make the trip.

You then shout "No! No! You only get three gallons of go drive us to Atlanta".

And then you are shocked, surprised and more than a little annoyed when we coast to a halt somewhere about Anderson.

This is exactly what happened in the design of the Stryker brigade. I was there.

Historically, every commander wants to reduce the number of logistics soldiers on the battlefield. They call it "improving the tooth to tail ratio" (with the loggies being the "tail" naturally).

And the so-called Killers always "win" this battle of the design of the force. Why? Because the most senior leader in the Army...the Chief of Staff of the Army is always, always a "Killer".

And when the battle comes, and those who were there for the design fight are long gone, the Killers say the same thing...the logisticians can't keep up, they can't protect themselves, and they don't provide us the right stuff at the right time.

And, ironically, right now...right bleeding now...Secretary Rumsfeld is looking for a way to reduce the number of logistics soldiers in the force even further, seeking to farm these functions out to civilian contractors.

Well, slap me and call me stupid, but I want to see the contractor that is willing and able to take the place of the 507th Maintenance company. the end, you get what you pay for. You want it on the get it on the cheap.


And LTG Sanchez intends to win it.

"We are taking the fight into the safe havens of the enemy in the heartland of the country where we continue to face former regime loyalists, criminals and foreign terrorists, who are trying to isolate the coalition forces from the Iraqi people and break the will of the international community," General Sanchez told a heavily guarded news conference in the Iraqi capital. He added, "They will fail."...

Dispensing with euphemisms favored by many Bush administration officials in recent months, General Sanchez, commander of the 130,000 American troops in Iraq, described what they were facing as a war.


And talks about his three weeks as a POW. You may not have known that the Army even has training on how to be a POW - it is called "Code of Conduct training."

Obviously this Soldier paid attention.
Hudson says he survived by remembering the three stages to being a POW.

"Fellowship with fellow POWs, survive, and return home with honor," he cites. "That's what we knew we had to do."

Hudson returned home not just with honor but to celebrations. While Hudson struggled with the loss of his friends, his hometown rallied around his family...

Hudson, who reenlisted for two more years, received a purple heart, a bronze star, and POW medals for his service. He keeps in touch with all his fellow former prisoners of war from the 507th and says they all talk every weekend.

In the land of the wise men.
Wrapping paper, ribbon, and mounds and mounds of stuff, transformed a simple meeting room at the local American Red Cross into a Christmas scene Wednesday.

"The GI Moms" -- Yvonne Pintane, Tamara Levintza, and Linda Edgington, joined by several local elves -- shared military stories while wrapping everything from rolls of toilet paper -- "a luxury," to yellow rubber duckies wearing sunglasses and Santa Claus hats. Local GI Moms also include Diane Pulliam, Elizabeth Blower and Candace Blower.

These items, along with razors, soap, deodorant, compact discs, cameras, toothpaste and floss, socks, T-shirts, baby powder, peanuts, chips and salsa, cookies, Campbells soup, dart games, hacky sacks, books, 65 Christmas stockings and much more, will be shipped to some of the troops spending Christmas in Iraq...

"Four 12-foot Christmas trees have already been shipped," Levintza said. As have "at least three huge mailings" of packages, she said.

She said the trees and the presents will go to four local soldiers -- and their units...

"Aren't they cute?" Edgington said, holding up one of the rubber ducky Christmas tree ornaments. "I think we have as much fun doing this as they have getting it. And it keeps us occupied in a fun way," Edgington said.

I mailed the tree to CPT Patti last week...a 7 footer. Ornament decorating by family members happens this week.

A second grade class in Cedar Rapids has adopted the Gators for Christmas and are preparing construction paper stockings for each of CPT Patti's soldiers. (I can't wait to see what a 2d grader determines to be the best Christmas stocking design for a bunch of soldiers...)

Even more than usual this Christmas is shaping up to be so much about giving.

When I wrote earlier today that "CPT Patti has been outside the range of any decent pizza delivery service for 185 days." I didn't know about this.
GIs in Baghdad are able to get a taste of home -- thanks to Walid Mahmoud.

He owns a pizzeria in the Iraqi capital. Most Iraqis have no idea what pizza is -- and certainly wouldn't know how to make one. But Mahmoud has worked in a family-owned pizza shop in Rome.

When the Americans came to town, he scraped together enough money to open his own pizzeria.

The Wall Street Journal reports on a good day he sells nearly 200 pizzas. But orders can drop to a handful depending on terrorist activity. He hopes after the American soldiers leave, there will be enough contractors left behind who'll want a pizza to go.

Say...what is a fair tip for the pizza delivery guy in a war zone?

This makes me nervous.

Mortar fire - especially as used here - can have a peculiarly random effectiveness. And it is that sort of randomness that is difficult to defend against.

It was mortar fire that wounded CPT Will...And that is entirely too close to home...
Insurgents battling U.S. forces in Iraq struck at the heart of the American occupation authority Tuesday night for the third time in a week, hitting a presidential palace compound with a series of rockets that sent the interim government's leaders running to basement shelters.

The attack on the heavily fortified "Green Zone," as the U.S. headquarters area in Baghdad is known, came hours after Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said insurgents had switched tactics in an effort to inflict more damage and casualties on U.S. troops while escaping unharmed. At a briefing for reporters, Sanchez said the fighters were increasingly using more "remote" tactics, such as firing mortars and rockets, rather than engaging in direct combat with U.S. forces.


Saturday's terror bombing in the Saudi city of Riyadh killed and maimed over 100 people.

Apologists for the terrorists say it is all a mistake...that they meant to kill and maim "westerners".

Al Qaeda says their bombs were correctly targeted, but say the Saudi claims that mostly Arabs were killed or maimed is incorrect.

Excuse me...does this debate make any sense? If there is a person on the face of the planet who believes it is somehow better or worse that terrorists kill and maim 100 people based upon the color of their passport - then I have little hope for humanity.

For the hundreth time...these are terrorists. They do not honor the tenets of civilized humanity. There is no excusing their killings, be those killings of Arabs, Jews, Christians or Buddhists.

Those who see a difference are complicit in the murders of innocents from Beirut to Khobar Towers to the World Trade Center to Riyadh.

Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for last weekend's deadly bombing of a neighborhood in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, according to a statement posted on the terrorist network's Web site.

Saudi officials had initially blamed al Qaeda for Saturday's blast, which killed 17 people and wounded 122. The victims were mostly Arabs. Five of them were children.

In the lengthy statement, al Qaeda disputed that, claiming the compound was rented by employees of the FBI and that several of the victims were American, French and German. It also denied that a large number of children died, unless there was a nursery on site.

The statement claimed more than 55 people were killed in the blast, including 30 Saudi security forces.

A man in Saudi custody told investigators that al Qaeda made a mistake -- that it believed it was targeting a neighborhood housing Americans and didn't realize most of the victims would be Arabs, Saudi government sources told CNN.

Two Saudi officials rejected that suggestion.

"If their intent is to kill Americans, it doesn't answer the question as why are they involved in activities in Mecca," said Saudi government spokesman Nail Al-Jubeir.

"Why do they have bomb factories in the holy city of Mecca that only Muslims go to? Why do they have traps in Mecca?"

Nail Al-Jubeir said the attack was not meant as a "symbolic attack" against the royal family: "Their target is humanity."

Another shame upon the USA.
In a dispute over display of holiday symbols, New York City schools are allowing Jewish menorahs and Islamic crescents but barring Christian nativity scenes, alleging the depiction of the birth of Christ does not represent a historical event.

In pleadings with a federal court in defense of the ban, New York City lawyers asserted the "suggestion that a crèche is a historically accurate representation of an event with secular significance is wholly disingenuous."

The Jewish and Islamic symbols are allowed, the district says, because they have a secular dimension, but the Christian symbols are "purely religious."


And it isn't one religion either...
A leading Saudi government cleric and author of the country's religious curriculum believes Islam advocates slavery.

"Slavery is a part of Islam," says Sheik Saleh Al-Fawzan, according to the independent Saudi Information Agency, or SIA.

In a lecture recorded on tape by SIA, the sheik said, "Slavery is part of jihad, and jihad will remain as long there is Islam."

His religious books are used to teach 5 million Saudi students, both within the country and abroad, including the United States.

Al Fawzan – a member of the Senior Council of Clerics, Saudi Arabia's highest religious body – says Muslims who contend Islam is against slavery "are ignorant, not scholars."

And this guy isn't just some schmoe....he gets paid by the Saudi government to spread this sort of dangerous dogma.

Citizens petition the Army, the DOD, Congress and the President on behalf of LTC West.

You can too. Here.
Thanks, Beth, for the tip.

On what was supposed to be a rare day off.
With Humvees sealing off the roadway at both ends of the underpass, other troops dismounted and walked in to where they found a small deposit of crumbled masonry and sections of wall pitted with shrapnel.

They stopped, probed the pittings with their hands and picked up a few pieces of debris in an effort to gauge whether the blast damage was fresh or old.

They radioed word of what they saw, and got ready to return to Firebase Melody. They were uncertain how long before the blast had happened, but it was not now a threat, they said.

People have a tendency to forget.

That pangs Gregg Garvey.

The grieving father, whose son died in Iraq this summer, decided he wouldn’t wallow in sadness this Veterans Day, or let slip the memory of his son.

He will mark this Veterans Day not only doing what the nation as a whole does — stop and remember the fallen heroes — he will continue work on a project to keep memories of those killed in this war alive.

The former construction worker has designed a memorial with a goal of having one erected in every hometown that has lost a hero in Afghanistan, Iraq and associated missions...

The memorial of an inverted rifle and helmet on a 20-foot slab of concrete also features an American Flag and plaque emblazoned with the honorees’ names and units.

“I just started thinking, the simplicity of it means that we can put one of these memorials in the hometown of every war hero who pays the ultimate price,” Garvey said.

You can donate to this vision, and see the memorial design at

Is from another soldier who has already been there.

Here is some advice.
There isn’t a field manual out there that can give anywhere near as good advice as what can be found from talking to soldiers.

Stay vigilant...

Stay safe always...

When you’re traveling through Baghdad and there’s nobody [civilian] at an intersection, it’s not a good place to be...

Pay attention to the civilian population...

Bring a whole lot of hand sanitizer...

Baby wipes are even more important than hand sanitizer, and specialized clothes will help make a soldier’s stay a little more comfortable. Hadsell recommended special undergarments that draw moisture away from the body, especially during the long, hot summer...

Bring books or Game Boys; there are lots of PlayStations and Xboxes...

I’d say bring extension cords,” he said. Power will be available but not necessarily right at a soldier’s tent or room. Power’s the key, he said, to making life more comfortable...

Bring cold-weather gear.

“It gets cold down here. Don’t think it don’t get cold,” he said.

And Wright said troops shouldn’t focus on the time left in their rotation. That can be a downer.

“Just take it day by day,” he said...

bring extra uniforms...

Keep the fiberglass doors on [the Humvees],” he said. “They catch a lot of shrapnel...

Soldiers shouldn’t expect these IEDs to be sitting in the open, either.

“They’re resorting to using dead animals alongside the road"...

Don’t take anything for granted

Word of caution...before loved ones begin mailing extension cords down range, check with your soldier to find out if their power is 110 or 220 voltage.

This is a sister office to the one in which I work. I suspect we'll be doing some of this soon.
“We want to personalize it,” Buchs said. “It’s one thing to get reintegration training. It’s another thing to personalize it.”

On Wednesday, soldiers chose between lasagna and spaghetti. There were salads and soft drinks. And, of course, dessert.

The diners were grateful, if somewhat disoriented, as they enjoyed a moment of “normalcy” after having not known anything but anxiety for six months.

Back in Germany for a week, Spc. Rethy Nouv was still getting used to wearing BDUs instead of desert camouflage, to seeing green forests instead of brown sand.

And to still being alive...

He finished his meal, but didn’t go for seconds. “I lost some of my appetite in Iraq,” he said.

November 11, 2003



TIKRIT, Iraq – In three separate incidents on Nov. 9, Task Force Ironhorse soldiers located large weapons caches that had the potential to be used against innocent Iraqis and Caoalition forces.

The 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor soldiers received a report from an AH-64 helicopter that identified a location south of Baji as a possible weapons cache site. They went to the site and discovered storage structures that contained approximately 800 BM 21 rockets. The site was secured and the rockets are scheduled for destruction.

In another find, approximately 150 rockets were confiscated from a cache located north of Tikrit.

An additional weapons cache of 1,500 rounds of 155mm artillery shells was located north of Balad. This discovery was the result of an observation made by crewmen in a 1st Battalion, 10th Cavalry Regiment helicopter. The munitions will be destroyed in place.

November 11, 2003



ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq – Coalition Forces recently met with Iraq’s Fuel Committee to address the selling of fuel on the black market. Fuel vendors must now follow certain actions to receive and distribute their product.

Every fuel vendor has been assigned one fuel card per container. The vendors use these cards to receive fuel from the distributors. These must be turned into the council in order to get additional cards. Also, signs will soon be emplaced at each vendor location, displaying the proper price of propane.

The exact quantity of fuel being sold illegally is unknown, but reports show that it is great enough to have an impact on an Iraqi’s way of life. An Iraqi buying fuel on the black market is paying three to five times the normal price. By implementing these regulations, Iraqis can now spend their money on other essential items.

Local police, in conjunction with Coalition Forces, will conduct patrols to verify that vendors are in fact selling the fuel at the designated price.


CPT Patti has been outside the range of any decent pizza delivery service for 185 days.

Me, I had the thought while riding through the countryside that I sure am glad God created trees. As a thought experiment while driving around today, mentally subtract the trees from what you see.


Tuesday, November 11, 2003


CPT Will writes you a note.

Read it here.

Back from Italy.

Wen't to Nove, a place that calls itself the land of ceramics.

It's odd...I've lived in Europe off and on for 9 years. Never heard about the place. Learned of it three weeks ago...started asking around...apparently I've ruined was the largest conspiracy to "not tell Tim" in history since everybody BUT me has already been.

That or...well, I can be clueless.

Nove lies between Venice and Verona, not far from the US Army base at Vicenza. Visited the factory stores of the places that actually make stuff for Lenox and Sonoma-Williams.

Phenomenally inexpensive. Extraordinarily beautiful.

I bought CPT Patti some gorgeous stuff.

Flew to Italy aboard Ryan Air...the Ireland based "no frills" airline making a splash in Europe for their whacky pricing structure. Since it is no frills if you want something to eat you either bring it yourself or you purchase it from the crew.

I noticed that a muffin and cup of coffee would cost about $4.50. Had I bought inflight snack would have cost more than my airline ticket from Germany to Italy. At least before the government put their hand out.

The actual cost of my ticket was about $3.50 each way...although once you add in the taxes I actually paid about $40 for the round trip flight.

I suppose this demonstrates why we Irish do not yet rule the world. We don't know you can't fly people all over Europe for the price of a happy meal.

What the Irish don't know about pricing, they make up for through the imposition of hardship. This isn't so much an airplane as it is a Blue Bird school bus with wings. The seats don't all, presumably because the passenger behind might be inclined to chew on the close together are the seats.

And to say they use creative license in naming their airports is charitable. To save money Ryan Air does not fly into the major airports...but finds smaller airports in areas "outlying" the cities in which the larger airports lie. I departed from "Frankfurt-Hahn" and flew into "Venice-Treviso". In the states this would be something akin to flying from "Atlanta-Miami" to "Dallas-San Francisco", the distances between the former name (where you think you are going) and the latter name (the place you end up) being reasonably similar.

While browsing in the second story showroom of the largest ceramics showroom in Nove we heard the sound of cowbells through the open window (it was pleasantly warm in Italy). My traveling companion went to look - and laughed. I leaned out the window, looked down to see at least 500 sheep, 80 goats, 20 burros, 2 humans and 3 sheepdogs...passing through a narrow road that connected the fields with the town. The mass of the flock was staggering as the narrows allowed for perhaps only 8 sheep abreast to pass through. The parade went on for what seemed like 20 minutes.

As we stood there watching the sheep kept stopping to nibble from the ornamental privacy shrub at the villa next door. The owners came running out clapping their hands in fits of pique to scare the animals off. It worked on some sheep. Others seemed to view it as some sort of standing ovation by the humans and redoubled their consumptive efforts.

Sheep are not quiet least these were was a cacaphonious chorus of bleats and baas. One sheep, and only one sheep apparantly was an independent thinker. He turned around to make his way "upstream", as if he'd suddently realized he's dropped his wallet back a block or two. His insistence to go against the flow earned him the nickname "blacksheep". We were going to name him "stupid" but felt that name was already in use...about 499 times.

I can only assume the goats were there to demonstrate to the sheep that there are worse things to eat than grass. My friend told stories of a goat that once ate the grill off a car. I wondered if that car were a Chevy. I might be able to contemplate eating Impala off the grill, but the other way around seems - well, goatlike.

I don't know what larger purpose the burros served...except one. The special burro was wearing an apparatus made of canvass...worn like a saddle blanket, the canvass had three pockets on the left and right sides. Inside these pockets were lambs...lambs so tiny they could not be more than a day or two old. Cute doesn't begin to describe the "aw" inspiring power of the hay-powered lamb taxi.

When the flock had managed to squeeze through the narrows, they paused for a moment upon the lawn of the now apoplectic villa owners...I suppose to take a little, and give back a little - as it were - then the dogs and the humans led the flock onto the main thoroughfare of the town of Nove...a 2 lane road normally populated with Fiats the size of sheep (but with considerably less horsepower).

There was a lot to like in Italy...and I bought much of it.

I'm will return to full posting mode on Wednesday.

Oh...and my chapstick...made the whole voyage with me. Very odd.

I think it is a stalker.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 11th. Veteran's Day.

CPT Patti has been at her appointed place of duty for 184 days.

Please say a special word of prayer for her and her "Gators" on this day.

Oh - and a word of thanks to some Vet you know would be in order.

They gave much.