Friday, January 09, 2004


It ain't just me.

Jay Nordlinger at National Review Online has this to say:
May I begin with a brief comment on journalism? Won't be too boring, I promise. A Reuters report out of Washington yesterday began, "Looking to draw more Hispanics behind his re-election bid, President Bush on Wednesday will propose a temporary worker program to help millions of immigrants work legally in the United States, officials said."

Notice that the very first words of this news report are commentary: "Looking to draw more Hispanics behind his re-election bid . . ." That is sheer speculation, or analysis, if you like. It may be perfectly correct. But it is the lead in a news item.

The next sentence begins, "Facing a possibly close election next November, Bush is reviving an issue put on hold . . ."

More commentary — in the news story of a wire service! Journalism is becoming badly degraded, when we can hardly tell the difference between straight newsies and opinionists (like me).

The more we know about the manipulation techniques, the less likely it is that we will be maniulated.

Lately I received a notice from Greyhawk asking military bloggers to offer their two cents worth on this story being linked to at the site of an Iraqi blogger.

First, the bottom line of the story. What is said to be an Iraqi mother writes about the murder of her son at the hands of American forces. In part the story goes:
And this is where the first chapter of the tragedy takes place.

An American army patrol stood in their way, and after they went through the whole procedure of searching my son and his cousin, and inspecting the cargo load, they tied them up both and led them to an area about three kilometres from the scene front of one of the gates of the Tharthar dam where water flows at its strongest rate and to my son and his cousin's horror, they ordered them to jump into the water, it was midnight and the cold was unbearable, when they hesitated, they were pushed by the soldiers. Unfortunately my boy cannot swim, even though swimming at this time of the year wouldn't have helped.

Yet my sons cousin survived miraculously after he got stuck in a tree branch to give us his account of this tragic event which could have went untold. He tried saving my son, but the water current was stronger than him...After days of search we found my sons jacket floating with the stream, it shall remain with me as a memory and a symbol of the injustice brought against him by soldiers of the United States of America's army, who came to our country under the banners of human rights and democracy only to send my son to his demise on his wedding days...

My opinion?

Well, they say if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a is probably a duck.

I wasn't there...but I bring my own 27 years affiliation with the US Army to the table and have to conclude that if it smells like BS and it sticks to your shoe like BS ... it is probably BS.

Consider the context of the story, from the point of view of a US Soldier. Since we've been in Iraq we have:

- just nearly courtmartialed a fast rising Battalion Commander (LTC West) for merely discharging his weapon in the vicinity of an EPW in order to obtain information to immediately save the lives of his solders.. Instead we stripped him of command, throttled his career, fined him a month's pay and made him retire.

- courtmartialed and stripped of their status as US Soldiers three enlisted folks - including a couple of WOMEN - for mistreating Iraqi Enemy Prisoners of War (EPWs).

- might be courtmartialling two Florida Guardsmen for taking a moment out from patrols to get married for crying out loud.

And now these folks want us to believe a story involving deliberate, premeditated murder on the part of our soldiers...

Sorry - I did a lot of years in uniform...and haven't been out that long. CPT Patti is commanding a company in Baghdad right now...she was home for one week over Christmas. I consider myself in touch.

And this modern day story about US Soldiers requiring some hapless Iraqi teenager to essentially walk the plank...It doesn't add up.

This is the same Army that refused to engage the mortarmen who earlier this week wounded 34 at Log Base Seitz because the shelling came from a built-up, populated area.

This is the same Army that respects their bleedin' Mosques more than the Iraqis do for crying out loud.

What such allegations do are two fold:

First, they appeal to the seemingly endless capacity of the Arab mind to deceive itself when it is convenient.

Secondly, from the enemy's perspective it conveniently puts the US Army in the impossible position of disproving a negative (that is, proving it "didn't" happen.)

No such burden of proof has been required of the one who alleges this nonsense.

While that might not be sufficient to mollify Zeyad, or whatever the Iraqi blogger's name is, the fact is he has certain responsibilities as well...among them is the responsibility to be able to exercise a modicum of judgment.

I don' t for a minute doubt that some touchy-feely Berkely type can cite a hundred reasons why such "urban, cultural symbolic stories arise", much of which no doubt centers on the veritable overnight meltdown of the Arab mythology, the crumbling of the house of cards that has served as so-called Arab "leadership" for three or more decades and the lack of a noble leader since Saladin (who was a Kurd, by the way...go figure...) but the point is still to be made. We live on this Earth. It behooves each of us to finagle some grasp on the rational and the true. And it will continue to benefit us all to prosecute those who libel and slander due to their "agenda".

We've all grown up being advised that if it "sounds to good to be true" it probably is. Well, that advice works the same when trying to pin attrocities on your enemies.

I, for one, don't suffer the lame accusations of fools lightly.

I won't say it absolutely couldn't happen...but I've lived long enough to know that the highly unlikely is...well, highly unlikely.

I will publicly apologise and admit my mistake if this ever, EVER is proven to have happened.

Until then, sign me...


Hell, I live in Germany and have seen enough unwanted coverage to know this guy offed his wife.
Scott Peterson Gets Change Of Venue
Judge: Jury Can Be Found In 15 Larger Counties

A judge overseeing the Scott Peterson murder trial ruled Thursday that the defendant can't get a fair trial in Stanislaus County. Now, the question becomes, where will it be held?

Knight-Ridder headline for today:
Taxes replace Iraq as top issue among Democratic candidates


Note that this is a Shi'ia Mosque in a Sunni area.
At least five people have been killed and dozens injured by a bomb blast during Friday prayers at a Shi'ite mosque in the central Iraqi town of Baquba, hospital sources say.

Local police and witnessess said the bomb exploded outside a small mosque in a residential area. Officials at a nearby hospital said they knew of 39 people injured.

Witnesses gave conflicting reports about whether or not the explosion was caused by a car bomb.

Baquba, 40 miles north of Baghdad, is in a largely Sunni Muslim area which is a hotbed of resistance to the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. U.S. forces have mounted major operations in and around the town to try to capture insurgents.


"Many inexplicably bearing the flags of the USA, Great Britain, Spain, Poland, Japan..."
Japanese troops heading for Iraq in coming weeks will be equipped with everything required by a modern army: portable anti-tank rocket launchers, recoilless machine guns, flak jackets and...hundreds of soccer balls.

The weapons will be used to defend against attack.

The balls, emblazoned with Japan's rising sun symbol, are part of a strategy of winning friends among residents of Samawa, the southern city where Japan's 600 or so troops will be based.

Deprived of most world news since their capture, some of the hundreds of prisoners at (Guantanamo Bay) expressed shock when told recently of the capture of Saddam Hussein, a U.S. general said yesterday...

"We told them we had a war with Iraq, we told them the United States won, and we told them we captured Saddam Hussein," he said.

"There was some shock."

Do yourself a favor...go read the whole thing here.
Iraq has a net zero immigration rate. Vietnam has a negative immigration rate. These rates were no doubt caused by Iraq's socialist and Vietnam's communist governments, which are vastly different, in that socialist nations are often ruled unfairly by one guy and communist nations are ruled unfairly by, like, as many as seven guys.

What's more, Vietnam's median age is an elderly 24.5 years old compared with Iraq's 19.0. Yes, the average citizen of Iraq is the same age as NBA star LeBron James, with but a fraction of his ability to take it to the hole. (Except Saddam, who did an excellent job taking it to the hole, as it were.)

Money is another difference between the countries. In Iraq, the traditional currency is the dinar. In Vietnam the currency is called the dong. According to the CIA World Fact Book, it takes 15,300 dongs to make a dollar.

(Did you know that the CIA keeps tons of information like this on its Web site? Way to keep things under wraps, CIA! Like every idiot who types the word "dong" into a search engine will never find your top-secret site.)


I wish this story would tell us why these particular retired guess is they are Civil Affairs types...the overwhelming majority of which are in the Reserve Component and most of which were used up by Afghanistan, and OIF1.
As the Pentagon digs deeper into its pool of civilian soldiers, retired reservists are being notified that they may be reactivated for duty in Iraq.

Some 270 retired reservists have been called up to active duty since the 9-11 attacks, said Julia Collins, a civilian public affairs specialist at the Army Human Resources Command in St. Louis.


Meaningless comparisons.

From the Associated Press
The number of American troops who have died in Iraq since the war began last March is nearing 500, more than U.S. losses in many regional conflicts of the past several decades: the Gulf War, Lebanon, Somalia, Panama, Grenada, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

The meaninglessness of such statistics becomes clear if we make a few simple direct substitutions into the "logic".

The reason for this "statistics" can only be one of two. (A) You are presumed to be ranking Operation Iraqi Freedom among all the military operations executed by the USA in terms of casualties...or (B) spin to sensationalize the body count.

The unspoken "logic" says that any war is comparable to any other war, which is, of course, BS.

What happens if we use the same logic to, say, compare the cost of automobiles.

"The cost of the recently purchased HUMMER 2 is $45,000, more than we've paid for other 4X4 vehicles including the Ford Escape, the Kia Sportage and the Jeep Liberty."

Pointless. Unless you tell the uninformed that the Hummer is 3 times as big, has about 12 more cylinders, can climb the Eiffel tower, and can withstand potholes the size of the Grand haven't conveyed any meaningful information to the reader.

One can't compare based on the selection of one single variable unless all one wants to do is rank order the elements, by one isolated variable.

But that doesn't stop the AP from writing these stories.

Again...they aren't in the business to provide us with news...they are in business to make money. The provide the news that maximizes their bottom line.

And it has begun.

And I'm happy not to be one of the transportation planners on this one...
"This is the biggest move we've done since World War II," said a Pentagon official, who asked not to be identified.

The approximately 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq now will be heading home over the coming four months, to be replaced by a more mobile, less heavily armed force of about 110,000. That force will include about 20,000 Marines and an increased proportion of National Guard and Reserve troops.

Only a day after Coalition Provisional Authority administrator Paul Bremer announced that the deposed Iraqi president was in custody a rumour that US forces had grabbed the wrong man, and that Saddam himself had broadcast to his followers from western Iraq, set off perhaps the largest display of pro-Saddam street power since the invasion.

Cars drove through the streets of Sunni neighbourhoods, with passengers firing their weapons in the air, shouting: “It wasn’t him! It wasn’t him!” Shopkeepers responded with celebratory fire that in some cases went on for hours. In Adhamiya in north Baghdad protesters, including armed men dressed in the black uniforms of the Saddam Fedayeen, marched through the streets until they ran into Iraqi police and US troops. Clashes broke out in which at least four civilians were reported killed. In the town of Faluja, west of Baghdad, demonstrators stormed municipal offices and erected Saddam’s picture on the roof.
But Ibrahim was spared that indignity, he said, because his crime was less serious than theirs. He only heard a joke about Saddam and was suspected by the government of belonging to an underground Shiite religious movement.

To be precise, he heard a friend in a coffeehouse tell a joke about Saddam. Six months later, after joining the army, he was arrested and brought before a military court, where he was asked why as a loyal Iraqi he had not informed on the person who told the joke.

His manners did not permit him to do such a thing, he recalls saying. He later learned it was his friend who fingered him, allegedly after undergoing extensive torture.

Note the "loyal Iraqi" reference.

Another reason to be glad we express our allegiance to ideals, not to a dictator.

So says one Senator.
"Freedom is sprouting up, and it's just a question, like in Russia, of how long it takes everyone to realize no bad guy is going to come back to take over," Bunning said.


See here.
A Blackhawk medivac helicopter, clearly marked with a red cross signifying its medical mission, crashed Thursday after a witness said it was hit by a rocket, killing all nine U.S. soldiers aboard.

And then there is this:

New information has emerged about a mortar attack on a U.S. supply base outside Baghdad that claimed the life of one American soldier and left 30 others wounded. A senior Pentagon official has revealed U.S. forces quickly determined the site where Iraqi attackers fired mortars into a coalition logistics base west of Baghdad late Wednesday.

But this official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says commanders declined to order so-called counter-battery fire that could have disrupted the attack and possibly killed the assailants.

The official tells VOA this is because the mortars were fired from a heavily-populated area where any American counter-attack could have caused civilian casualties.

Say it with me here..."We are not the bad guys..."


It's nice to have a friend in the area...
Jordan said on Thursday it would start training dozens of junior Iraqi diplomats as soon as the United States prepares to hand over power in Baghdad.

U.S. ally Jordan is already training hundreds of Iraqi army officers and police recruits as the U.S. occupation forces try to build up neighboring Iraq's institutions ahead of transferring power before an end of June deadline.


An alleged spy for Saddam is on trial - his cover - why Press, of course.

They don't understand our freedoms, nor do they appreciate them. But they sure as hell will try to exploit them to their ends.
An intelligence dossier found in Baghdad implicated the publisher of an Arabic-language suburban newspaper in a scheme to spy for the government of Saddam Hussein, prosecutors alleged yesterday in a trial that is shedding light on Hussein's efforts to gather intelligence against Iraqi opposition leaders in the United States.

Khaled Abdel-Latif Dumeisi, 61, was charged in July with being an unregistered agent of Iraq. According to the government, Dumeisi traveled to Iraq to learn the trade of spying, passed on phone records and other sensitive material about Iraqi dissidents, produced news credentials for Iraqi intelligence officers, and alerted his spy handlers to Hussein opponents who phoned in complaints to Dumeisi's newspaper because of coverage favorable to Hussein's regime.

Dumeisi has asserted that he's simply a journalist who cultivated contacts in Iraq as part of his job.

Prosecutors introduced what they said were incriminating documents against Dumeisi during the testimony of a man they said was a former high-ranking intelligence official. The reputed spymaster, identified in court only as "Mr. Sargon," had no personal knowledge of Dumeisi but vouched for the document's authenticity.

Defense attorneys tried to suggest that Dumeisi was not the newspaperman mentioned in the documents, and they had objected to allowing the dossier into evidence. But Judge Suzanne B. Conlon sided with prosecutors, noting that three pages in the dossier were in Dumeisi's handwriting.

No one was hurt in Friday's dawn attack on the Burj al-Hayat hotel in central Baghdad, which is used mainly by foreign businessmen and U.S. army contractors. Three rockets hit rooms around the fourth floor, smashing windows, security guards said.

The guards said they exchanged fire with men in a car as the hotel came under attack...

On Thursday, scores of soldiers had a narrow escape when the C-5 Galaxy military transport plane, one of the world's largest aircraft, returned safely to Baghdad airport after what was possibly a missile hit.

Officials said the plane, carrying 63 passengers and crew, was hit by ground fire soon after take-off from Baghdad, causing an explosion in one of its four engines.

A military official in Washington told Reuters a missile might have struck the transporter. The U.S. military said later that guerrillas appeared to have hit the plane but that it was not clear what weapon they used...

In the town of Falluja west of Baghdad, a bastion of anti-U.S. guerrilla activity, a Black Hawk helicopter crashed on Thursday, but it was not clear whether it was shot down.

Nine soldiers were on board and all were killed, the military said.

One witness said he saw the helicopter in flames before it came down and news reports said it appeared to have been hit by a rocket. The U.S. military said it was investigating the cause...

In Tikrit, the hometown of the ousted dictator, some 300 soldiers from the army's 4th Infantry Division backed by Bradley armoured vehicles and military aircraft raided houses to search for suspects and for weapons and other incriminating material.

"It was a good night," Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Russell told reporters after 13 people were captured in the raids, which lasted for most of the hours of curfew in town between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. "Tikrit will be a safer place tomorrow as a result."


This was a HUMMV in Baghdad.

Al Mansour is so treacherous that the Baumholder, Germany-based unit has pinned Purple Hearts on 10 of its 90-some soldiers. One soldier even has two. Last month, its medic died during a grenade attack and a hard hail of gunfire.

“It’s crazy around here, sir,” says Cpl. Wayne Santos, pulling guard duty out front. He pulls back his Kevlar collar to expose a bulging lozenge of a scar. “I was lucky, because I’ve got a 1½-inch hole that goes through the back of my neck.”

Yes, lucky. Lucky to be alive

Photo credit: Ward Sanderson / Stars & Stripes

Most of the links you find here can be considered news rather than objective analysis. However, I receive wonderful emails occasionally from an organization called STRATFOR. They do analysis.

And it is amazing stuff.

If you truly want to gain a better understanding of this war on terror - with no political filter applied, then go here and read the whole thing.

However...before you do please note you will need 15 minutes of quiet reading time...and you will need to have your brain fully engaged.

If you like what you read, you can subscribe to the same analysis email for free...information is near the bottom of the document.


The avalanche of bad news (for al Qaeda) did not stop there.

Libya, fully aware of the trends in the region, decided this was a propitious time to move closer to the United States.

In the Arab world, only Syria remained outside the process. The Syrians had badly misread the situation during last summer, betting that the United States would get bogged down in Iraq. They bet on the guerrillas.

Suddenly, as December wore on, they realized that they had not only guessed wrong, but had become completely isolated in the Arab world and surrounded on all sides by enemies.

Damascus began to make accommodating gestures as the New Year began, inviting Likud Knesset members to Damascus and sending President Bashar al-Assad off to Turkey.

The 242d day of CPT Patti's on-site Arab culture sensitivity training.

And presumably this marks right about the 2/3ds point, 66% completion of her newly extended deployment.

Me...I just hope one day they quit moving the goal posts...

Thursday, January 08, 2004


It is still very much a war zone.
Anti-American insurgents fired mortar rounds at a military camp, killing one American soldier and wounding 34 others, the U.S. command said.

Six mortar rounds exploded about 6:45 p.m. Wednesday at Logistical Base Seitz west of Baghdad, in the so-called Sunni Muslim triangle that is a stronghold of resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq, a spokesman said.

Thirty-five soldiers were wounded in the attack, and one of them died overnight, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said Thursday.

"The wounded soldiers were given first aid and have been evacuated from the site for further medical treatment," the statement said. The Pentagon added that the soldiers were from the Army's 541st Maintenance Battalion, based in Fort Riley, Kan., and part of the 3rd Corps Support Command.

The mortars hit "a living area where they have their sleeping quarters," the spokesman said.

I notice these are suport Soldiers...called Combat Service Support or CSS in Army speak. That is what CPT Patti is. It is what I was during my career. It is what the soldiers of the 507th Maintenance Company (PFC Jessica Lynch, et al.) are.

Once upon a time support Soldiers were referred to as REMFs. The first two stand for Rear can figure out the last two. But these days we find there is no rear echelon...the support Soldiers move right with the so-called warfighters.

And beginning with Desert Storm, the instances of large casualties have tended to accrue to the support types.

During Desert Storm one Iraqi SCUD missile made its way to a US Barracks. 13 members of the 14th Quartermaster Detachment died that night.

We add to that the 507th Maintenance Company and the 541st Maintenance Battalion from Operation Iraqi Freedom and we add 14 dead, 53 wounded in single incident losses for each unit.

Support Soldiers have earned the respect of all...but all have not yet given their respect.

Do so.
Last Friday, as enemy mortar shells rained down on Forward Operating Base Eagle, Capt. Eric Paliwoda rushed to his mobile trailer to don his gear.

One of nine shells that fell that afternoon sent shrapnel into Paliwoda, snuffing the life out of a company commander described by his troops as a gentle giant who took good care of them...

As troops were reeling from the loss, Iraqi insurgents struck again Monday. Thirteen mortar rounds fell on their camp. Working from a local informant, soldiers are holding six more Iraqis who are now being interrogated.

An Iraqi artillery officer is suspected of helping the enemy mortar crews fire effectively, said Lt. Col. Nate Sassaman, commander of 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment.

“The last two attacks have been fairly accurate,” Sassaman said, adding that he intends to take out the mortar cell.


"Not so fast there, Tim".

Gulp! The Stop Loss/Stop Movement (SL/SM) is official.

CPT Patti will NOT be coming home in March. She might be home in late April or sometime in May.

And we are not returning to the USA in April. Now it looks as if it will be sometime in July or August.

I've spent much of the day reading the Army message that announces all of this, then doing some interpretation...swapping email with CPT Patti...and just now she called.

The new plan...she will still relinquish command on 1 March. She's not so wild about that...but I am. From her point of view, if she's got to be there, well, it's good to be in Command. From my point of view, she suffered the stress of moving the unit from here to there. Someone else can be the DBC (Designated Basket Case) to get them from there to here.

She will be reassigned a position on the Providers staff as of March 2d.

Sorry I've been away from the postings today. I've been out in search of silver linings.

You may be happy to know that I've found several.

(You can read the official Army message here.)

This is day 241 of CPT Patti's missionary work with what Ray Stevens once called "A-hab the A-rab"

I'm guessing Ray couldn't get that record released today...

Me? Well, read the next post, above.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

"Kucinich Shows Pie Chart on Radio Debate"

(via Drudge)


Howard Dean is less than 5 foot 9 inches tall, but on stage with former NBA star Bill Bradley, it looks like he GRUESOME.

See how its done here

Is David Blaine in the house?

...than the one that kicked their butts last year.

They call it the "No Better Friend " Plan, which, as the web site says, is to indicate to Iraqis there is "no better friend than a Marine."

Anyway, its another way for you to donate, if you are so inclined.

Hillary is about to get the Trent Lott treatment...right?


Uh, I mean she did just make a joke using racial stereotypes to we'll all howl and hound her out of her committee seats...right?
The New York Democrat made the remark at a fund-raiser Saturday. During an event here for Senate candidate Nancy Farmer, Clinton introduced a quote from Gandhi by saying, "He ran a gas station down in St. Louis."...

The director of a U.S. center devoted to Gandhi's teachings said the remarks amounted to stereotyping and were insensitive.

After being approached by The Associated Press to clarify the remarks, Clinton suggested in a statement late Monday that she never meant to fuel the stereotype often used as a comedic punch line that certain ethnic groups run America's gas stations.


Says to tell you he's discovered the universe does NOT revolve around you after all.

Bernd Stange, the German coach of the Iraqi national soccer team...continues his award-winning whining.
Iraq national coach Bernd Stange said Tuesday he would be sticking with the team until after the 2006 World Cup qualifiers but admitted he fears for his life in the war-torn country.

"I want to lead the team until the 2006 World Cup but the security conditions in the country have to improve.

I must be the only foreigner who does not have protection in Iraq," said the 56-year-old German

Longtime readers will remember Stange for these other makes-you-want-to-hug-him quotes:

"The national football stadium, the heart of Iraqi football, is left by the Americans like a dustbin."

"We have not one role model for the youth in Iraq."

"Sometimes I would be happy," he said, "if someone in the coalition said 'Okay, boys you did a good job' or 'Come on, we have a party together or a barbecue' but nothing happens - not one word."

Let me just comment - again - on this idiot. The Provider battalion, to which CPT Patti is assigned occupied the stadium he speaks of above. They moved in along side a support battalion from the 3d Infantry Division.

CPT Patti set up most of her supply base around that stadium...and then, within 60 days, picked the whole thing up and moved it again, while trying to support the then 4000+ soldiers in her sector. Meaning...they didn't have time to pack up and move, but they did it anyway.

And why?

Because the American leadership decided it would be a great symbol to give Iraq back its football (soccer) stadium.

And this guy just wants to whine about its condition?

Hey pal...have you checked out the Iraqis living in buildings with live bombs still embedded? Have you looked at the tent cities and makeshift barracks our GIs have dug out of the rubble.

Dude, you just need to learn to shut up...because every time you open your sorry mouth you just give me more fodder to show you up as the self-centered idiot that you are.

They might say the Actives lack experience...
Jack Sharkey, a Chinook pilot with the Army National Guard, was ready to retire when he learned his unit was going to Iraq.

I had to get a waiver," said Sharkey, a Vietnam veteran who will be 61 next month...

At Wheeler Army Airfield yesterday, Capt. Joe Laurel, Company C commander, said veterans such as Sharkey, a retired Aloha Airlines

pilot, seem to be more commonplace in guard units than among regular Army units, and are almost guaranteed to have served longer together.

"At any particular time, I can look at the guy to my right or the guy to my left and say I've flown with him for 10 years," Laurel said.

Take a moment to go read this entire piece. You will find it lacks the hysterics of the mainstream media.
The case made against the two long-established and well-respected American corporate giants is based on their links to the Bush administration, to which they made relatively large campaign contributions. Hence, Iraqi reconstruction contracts (US$2-billion plus for Halliburton, $1-billion plus for Bechtel) are alleged to be an example of egregious and corrupt mutual back scratching.

But nowhere have critics indicated exactly how President Bush or his "cronies" might have steered contracts the way of either company. They just keep repeating that that Vice-President Dick Cheney used to run Halliburton.

The main alleged "smoking gun" has been the charge that Halliburton subsidiary KBR overcharged for importing fuel into Iraq from Kuwait. But it has emerged that KBR was forced to deal with a single Kuwaiti supplier. KBR also pointed out that higher prices were justified by transportation dangers (It's also worth noting that the "exorbitant" price charged for Kuwaiti gasoline was similar to that paid by Canadians! But we know who the bandit is there: Just read that little pie chart on the pump).

When KBR located Turkish suppliers who could provide fuel much more cheaply, Pentagon auditors merely multiplied the difference between the Kuwaiti and the Turkish price by the volume of Kuwaiti imports and -- shazam -- you had an alleged US$61-million rip-off...

More significantly, however, the whole notion that the U.S. administration is concerned solely -- or even partly -- with lining the pockets of its corporate "cronies" is both facile and ultimately repulsive.

Emphasis added.
PepsiCo Inc., driven from Iraq by United Nations economic sanctions in 1990, reached a franchise agreement with one of its former Iraqi bottlers, Baghdad Soft Drinks Co., and will relaunch its cola there, Wednesday's Wall Street Journal reported...

To many Iraqis, Pepsi-Cola never left. For more than a decade, Baghdad Soft Drinks and street vendors have kept the brand alive in Iraq by selling homemade cola in leftover Pepsi bottles..
The U.S. Army is still investigating whether its troops in Iraq came under attack by guerrillas posing as journalists after an American helicopter was shot down last week, a senior officer says.

But Major General Charles Swannack, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, said on Tuesday four Iraqis working for Reuters and the U.S. television network NBC who were detained in the area were probably "in the wrong place at the wrong time".

The military said on Friday that men wearing protective jackets marked with the word "Press" opened fire on U.S. troops securing the helicopter crash site near Falluja, where the 82nd Airborne is responsible for security

Did you read COL Mansoors comments (see the links block)? If so you read how he observed that the press can't tell you much about what is going on in Baghdad because they won't leave the confines of their safe hotels.

Seems to me this Reuters headline sort of confirms what the Colonel said.
Blasts in Baghdad Likely to Be Controlled Explosions

Likely? Would we settle for such reporting if the head line was

"LSU likely beat Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl"

No...we wouldn't. We'd say the reporters aren't doing their jobs.

Here Baghdad...we can make the case the reporters aren't doing their jobs.

And treat all we read from them with the level of suspicion they deserve.
The second battalion of a new Iraqi army graduated Tuesday at a ceremony with traditional songs and dances, and a U.S. commander and Iraqi politicians said they soon will choose a civilian defense minister to lead the soldiers in securing a democratic nation.

Had this guy not already been on a watch list...what then?
The U.S. television channel ABC reported Tuesday that the man, who failed to show up for an Air France flight from Paris canceled on Christmas Eve, was suspected of having links to the al Qaeda network and might have a small bomb to attack planes.

"I confirm that we are looking for someone. I cannot tell you anything more," Perben told RMC radio.

French media reported that the man was a Tunisian whose name matched that of a man who was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan but later escaped.

This morning (Central European Time) CNN had Paula Zahn's show on in which Paula breathlessly explores the question "Are We Safer?" with regards to extra security measures in the airline systems.

Is it just me or does it also strike you that these rhetorical questions serve to cast doubt? Anyway, what little I saw of the show was along the lines of "but this is still broken and that hasn't been done..."

And I'm wondering...excuse the question "Are we safer?" or is the question "Are we perfectly safe?"

And CNN seems intent to ask the former question while answering the latter.

And I just hate that.

God bless the Stars & Stripes...virtually the only news outlet trying to bring us closer to the humanity of our soldiers in Iraq.

When Spc. Amy Henry walks through the mess hall, soldiers often do a double take — especially when her twin sister, Amanda, is walking beside her.

The same thing happens to Jamie and Justin Stearns, twin brothers.

All four soldiers serve with the 142nd Engineer Battalion, a National Guard unit tasked to make improvements on this former Iraqi air base north of Baghdad.

“These are hand grenades,” Kimmitt said, narrating the video. “Lots of TNT … a significant amount of weapons found, far beyond that needed for self-defense.”

When asked whether the video would further inflame Arab sentiment, Kimmitt said the use of a mosque as a weapons stash should do so, instead.

“That’s the picture, I think, that strikes one watching the video.”


Note the progress on closing the border, and a brief appearance by Al Stupidah

RAMADI, Iraq – The 82nd Airborne Division and its subordinate units continued missions over the last day to bring peace and prosperity to the residents of the Al Anbar province.

During the last 24 hours, the 82nd Airborne Division and subordinate units conducted 203 patrols, 12 of which were joint patrols with Iraqis, and carried out four offensive operations. During these operations one enemy was wounded and 18 captured. Entry was denied to 55 personnel at Trebil all due to insufficient documentation.

Paratroopers from 3rd Brigade conducted a cordon and search in Fallujah. While conducting the operation, an Iraqi male walked out of a house with an automatic weapon and pointed it at the soldiers. The paratroopers immediately engaged and wounded the man. He was evacuated to FOB St. Mere for surgery and is in stable condition. The operation resulted in the capture of five enemy personnel, including one of the primary targets – a weapons dealer who has conducted attacks on coalition forces in the past. Also confiscated in the target area were an AK-47, 300 rounds of ammunition, a pistol, and a bayonet.

And she has two weeks of pent up observations to share. Go see her and prepare to take a drink from a fire hose.

Welcome back Sarah.

COL Mansoor is CPT Patti's brigade commander, commander of the Ready First Combat Team also known as 1st Brigade, 1AD.

Last night he addressed Family Readiness Group members in Friedberg. I've posted my notes from that briefing under the links section.

Read them to find out how many Iraqis get killed by bullets falling from the sky after "celebratory gunfire".

Reat them to find out how Stalinist economic policies are clashing with free market forces to create long gas lines in Baghdad.

This is the 240th day of CPT Patti's camel ride.

She has 54 more days scheduled in command. But since the possibility of the Stop-Loss popped up yesterday, we are not sure when we should expect her home.

Pessimistically I'm thinking May.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004


I'm shedding no tears...NONE...over the photographing and fingerprinting of visitors to the USA.

Two years and three months ago we were savagely attacked by terrorists who had taken advantage of our open society. They studied us and determined they could use our own societal standards against us.

We're Americans...we tend to presume the goodness in all people because, frankly, most Americans are good people.

So when bad people come around and use that against us, well, something has to change.

Let me hand you a trivial, but point making example. Yesterday I purchased a bag of cheese cubes at the commissary. Through the bag they looked OK. And the expiration date was still a week out.

I got them home...opened them, even ate one or two when I discovered that several of the cubes in the bag had green mold growing on them.

See - on the surface everything was in order...the view from outside the bag and the sell-by date were in order.

When Hajid the bomber makes his way into the USA he might have done sufficiently good work so that his view from outside the bag is OK, and his passport might appear to be in order...(as in not yet expired).

While shopping for that bag of cheese cubes the rules in the commissary did not allow me to treat some of those cubes differently than the rest. I wasn't able to open the bag, pull out the "bad ones" and keep those that didn't look bad (presuming one can identify such things visually),

And so, as a result, I am returning the entire bag (less those two I ate). That is how we handle such merchandise.

Individuals from most of the nations of the world who decide to get worked up into a lather over this photo/fingerprint thing will do so ultimately on personal terms.

By that I mean eventually all their arguments come down to "but I'm not a terrorist." can attempt to argue that this is a step backward for the freedom represented by affront to citizens of many nations" all you want...but in the end the argument boils down to "I'm not a terrorist".

The murder of 3000 Americans was a step backward for the freedoms represented by America...and an afront to those who cherish liberty and goodness all over the world.

And since you look pretty much like every other cheese cube in the bag, you get treated as all the others. Pretty simple to me.

And...if the fact that we now have a better record of who came in and who didn't go out is inconvenient for you, well, you may not be a terrorist, but you had poor intentions anyway.

So why are the 28 countries different...we don't require their citizens to be photod and printed? Seems to me the US Government has a special level of faith in the governments of those nations to treat them if these friendly and modern governments...the products of mature and stable democracies have demonstrated a seriousness about fighting terror that the rest of the world isn't up to yet.

Or maybe it is that you take just a bit of extra special care when dealing with your closest friends. I worry about it frankly, because Hamburg Germany seems to be a magnet for muslim thugs who are looking to study terror tactics...because the entire country of France is awash in muslim refugees who fit the profile of the footsoldiers in this unholy war they are waging on us.

But I just really wanted to go on record as letting you know that Brazil can go tit-for-tat on the fingerprinting thing all bothers me not one bit. Because when Brazil comes to my house, and I want to make sure I know who I'm dealing with or have the tools to fix it if I find I've been duped. well, I don't have trouble sleeping nights for taking such measures.

Whine all you want. You get no tears from me.

Consider where this country would be if all Americans defined "serving" this way.
I mean, I support our troops. I'm from the Vietnam generation. I didn't serve. This is my way of serving. I tell a few jokes and leave very quickly.

Just how many of those who beat and raped PFC Lynch do you suppose would have been similarly reprimanded by the former Iraqi government?
The U.S. Army has discharged three soldiers for beating and harassing Iraqi prisoners of war in southern Iraq, a U.S. military spokesman said yesterday...

Brig. Gen. Ennis Whitehead III, acting commander of the 143rd Transportation Command, found the soldiers - Master Sgt. Lisa Girman, 35, Staff Sgt. Scott McKenzie, 38, and Spc. Timothy Canjar, 21 - had maltreated prisoners at Camp Bucca, in southern Iraq, on May 12....

In Atlanta, Lt. Col. Gregory Julian, an Army spokesman, said Girman was found guilty of knocking a prisoner to the ground, repeatedly kicking him in the groin, abdomen and head and encouraging her subordinate soldiers to do the same. She received an "other-than-honorable conditions" discharge, Harris said.

McKenzie and Canjar held a prisoner's legs apart while others kicked him in the groin, Julian said. They also were convicted of making false sworn statements to army investigators. Both were demoted and received "general, under honorable conditions" discharges.

The soldiers said they acted in self-defense.

Senior figures in the Baath party of toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein gathered at a US military base near the northern town of Mosul yesterday to denounce attacks against the military coalition.

In a ceremony at the Tall Afar base, some 60 former high ranking Baath officials also handed over weapons distributed before the US-led invasion in March, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Pease of the US 101st Airborne Division said.


It appears GEN Bell knows something about changes afoot in the uniform regulation that the rest of us don't know.
These colors don’t run and, from now on, they don’t come off uniforms either.

That’s the message from the Army’s top commander in Europe, who is ordering troops returning from deployments to the Balkans, Middle East and other hot spots to keep the U.S. flag patch on their fatigues.

Soon, Gen. B.B. Bell hopes all soldiers will be wearing the Stars and Stripes full time, whether deployed or at home.

“In light of our expeditionary operations and in recognition of the Army’s commitment to the (global war on terrorism), it is now appropriate and proper for all soldiers to proudly and permanently wear the American Flag on their field/combat uniform — whether they are committed to an operation or in garrison,” Bell wrote in a Dec. 15 message to Army commanders stationed in Europe.


These are terms that describe temporary states the military services can impose under which everything you thought you knew about your retirement date, your service exit date or your change of duty station date gets thrown out the window.

The Stop Loss as you may infer indicates servicemembers may not leave the service while in effect, regardless of the terms of their enlistment contracts.

Stop Movement is usually a tag along order that means servicemembers must remain with their current unit until the end of the Stop Movement period.

So what does that mean to you and me?

If your soldier belongs to the 1st Armor Division, for instance, and was scheduled to leave the service, retire, go off to the Sergeant Major's Academy, go off to the Officers Advanced Course or Advanced Non Commissioned Officers Course anytime between now and say, late July 2004...well, all indicators are that it won't happen.

For 1AD soldiers the best guess timeline right now is this: The 1AD redeploys (aka comes home) over the course of April and May. All soldiers currently assigned to 1AD will be required to remain with the 1AD until 90 days after redeployment. So...first moves/retirements/end of service dates are 90 days after April/May meaning July/August.

Here is what the Stars and Stripes has to say on the story. And here is the Washington Times Story.

Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) forces continued their first independent operation east of Ar Ramadi along Highway 10. The mission was to prevent enemy forces from emplacing IEDs and selling black market fuel along the highway.

In the Catholic areas of Germany they are celebrating Drei Koenigs Tag or 3 Kings Day.

Today is the 239th day of CPT Patti's Arabian trek.

And today is a day of confusion that my experience tells me will give way to less than wonderful news.

Various news outlets are speaking of a new Stop Loss/Stop Movement order to be released by the Pentagon.

I'll explain those terms later...but for right now suffice it to say that if the reports are true (and they most likely are) and if the dates are right (no way yet to tell) then CPT Patti will not be returning home in March as was the plan...

Chances are she will still give up command on 1 March...but will be required to remain with the unit until 90 days after the unit comes home.

That means she would redeploy with 1st Brigade, 1AD probably about the end of April, first week of May.

And then we would be here in Germany until about August.

All this is speculation...the Army hasn't released the official "message" yet...but - again, my experience tells me it will probably work out just as I've described it here.


Monday, January 05, 2004


One web site tries to get a handle on how many Iraqis have not been killed since we deposed Saddam.

Go see it here.

(via Instapundit)

I've included a lot here...but you will really want to read the entire thing.
But in the last ten or fifteen years, another voice has been developing in the Middle East. It's still very small and weak, but it's the voice that we all should be supporting. That's a group of liberal democratic Arabs who have been standing up and saying, "These two alternatives are both equally bankrupt. Our choice should not be Mubarak's Egypt or the Ayatollah's Iran. Why can't we do what 140, 150 other countries around the world have done and start to democratize, open up our economies, and build a free-market economy and a democratic system? We can build a democratic system that is perfectly compatible with Islam and with traditional Arab values."

It's a small, still voice right now, and if we get Iraq wrong, that voice is going to die. Because right now, as far as the Arabs are concerned, what we're doing in Iraq is embarking on a grand social-science experiment to try to build a democratic free-market society in an Arab state. Iraq is a pretty good Arab state. The Arabs know that the Iraqi population is among the most secular, best educated, most progressive, and most industrious in the Arab world.

The Arabs say, "If you want to try to build democracy somewhere, Iraq is probably a pretty good place to try it." If democracy fails in Iraq, it won't matter how we explain why the effort failed. To the Arabs, all that will matter is, "The U.S. tried to build democracy and free-market economics in Iraq, threw 130,000 troops and $100 billion at it, and failed." And all the autocrats and all the Islamic fundamentalists are going to say, "If the Americans couldn't do it in Iraq, then it can't work anywhere in the Arab world. So the only alternatives you have are us." That's a lot at stake...

It's not a matter of dominoes falling, it's something somewhat different. For the first time ever Arabs will be able to look at Iraq and see an Arab democracy. Often when we say democracy, Arabs hear Britney Spears, sex on TV, same-sex marriages and hip-hugger blue jeans. They know they don't want any of that. But once you get that first democracy formed in a region, it has a remarkable transformative effect. This is what the East Asian historians say about Japan. Fifteen, twenty years after the occupation of Japan was over, when there was a functional democracy in Japan, it changed a lot of perceptions throughout East Asia. For the first time East Asians could look at Japan and say "That's the kind of state that I could imagine living in."

Before Japan, East Asians thought about democracy the same way that Arabs do now. They thought of it as being an American or a European thing. Those were the only examples they had, and they knew they didn't want that. But then Japan came along and proved that you could build a democracy that was very different from a Western-style democracy.


A US sex therapist's imprecise speech may have been the spark that led to the bombing of the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad.

The allegations can be heard almost everywhere in Turkey now, from farmers' wives eating in humble kebab shops, in influential journals, and from erudite political leaders: American troops have raped thousands of Iraqi women and young girls since ousting dictator Saddam Hussein.

Articles in Turkey's Islamist press reporting the allegations have fanned opposition here to the US invasion of Iraq to white-hot anger -- and even, apparently, to murder.

Nurullah Kuncak says his father, Ilyas Kuncak, was boiling about the rumored rapes just before he killed himself delivering the huge car bomb that devasted the Turkish headquarters of HSBC bank last month, killing a dozen people and wounding scores more.

"Didn't you see, the American soldiers raped Iraqi women," Nurullah said in a recent interview. "My father talked to me about it. . . . Thousands of rapes are in the records. Can you imagine how many are still secret?"...

The articles in the Islamist press are based in part on comments allegedly made by a US sex therapist who denies having written or said anything about soldiers raping women. The therapist, in an online column, explicitly and graphically described the US invasion as a rape, but says that this was clearly a metaphor unrelated to the actions of individual US soldiers, and that she has no knowledge of any physical rapes.


Count on Al Jazeera to be bin Laden's stooge...again.

He's powerless to get the message of death and destruction out on his own...but the so-called Arab press is always willing to lend a hand.

The Arabic television channel Al Jazeera has aired a purported audio tape from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in which he urge Muslims to fight against the U.S. occupation in Iraq...

The tape criticised Gulf Arab governments for supporting the U.S. invasion of Iraq, urging that the fight against U.S. forces should be with arms not through dialogue.

The speaker on the tape on Sunday also called on Muslims to fight against what he called conspiracies against Islam.


No shortage of witnesses either.
A ship's captain dipped into nitric acid wants to offer his wrecked body as evidence of Saddam Hussein's crimes. A janitor wants to tell the world how the dictator ordered her husband killed and her son tortured.

A new tribunal created to try top former Iraqi officials doesn't have custody of Saddam Hussein. It doesn't have courtrooms, judges or prosecutors either. Things like charges and witness lists remain months away.

But already Iraqis are lining up for a chance to testify against the man who to them personifies the evil of a regime that destroyed its people.
It is a sign of how far southern Iraq has come that while Tony Blair was addressing the troops yesterday Iraqi tourists were taking a pleasure cruise past Saddam's ruined yacht.

"I left Iraq 22 years ago because of Saddam," said Mohammad Ali, a chemistry teacher on a cruise with his Iranian wife and family. "I'm so happy to be back. The British did us a favour. They got rid of the biggest dictator in the Middle East."

In contrast to the daily mayhem in the rest of Iraq, the British-occupied south of the country is - comparatively - a tranquil place. Locals hope it could eventually regain its reputation as Iraq's riviera.

A few weeks ago, U.S. soldiers controlling the area west of Baghdad discovered a new kind of enemy when they hired 150 locals to pick up garbage in this unruly city of factories and mosques.

When workers mentioned to soldiers how much they had been paid, the Army realized that the local official it had hired to oversee the cleanup had pocketed a couple thousand dollars of the workers' salaries.

"That was accepted practice here," said Capt. Chris Cirino, a Holbrook native with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. "He just didn't understand when we fired him."

Soldiers and civilian administrators trying to stabilize Iraq are realizing that in their effort to build local governments, they are battling a political culture so steeped in corruption that its participants don't consider it corrupt. The task is further complicated by tribal leaders who often resolve disputes using violence and show little penchant for compromise.

Heard on the radio this morning on the way to work. A CNN news caster was discussing how the heads of Pakistan and India met, talked and shook hands while both attending the three-day summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

The CNN reporter went on to explain that the summit of South Asian Nations was seeking to establish south asia as a "trade free zone".
As part of Task Force Right of Way, Company C, 489th Engineer Battalion is clearing vegetation and debris from Iraqi Highway 1, known to troops as Main Supply Route Tampa. Enemy insurgents have attacked troops along the route with the improvised explosive devices, crude bombs detonated on command.

The engineers want to give passing troops a fighting chance to spot IEDs by flattening medians and shoulders along the thoroughfare.

“It makes it harder for Haji, the enemy, to come out and hide an IED because there’s nothing for him to hide it behind or under,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ed Fletcher said. “Soldiers that are traveling down the highway can see [IEDs] easier.”



Day 238 of CPT Patti's trip to the Big Sandy. She has 56 more scheduled days in command.

She has been writing to me via email with more frequency since she returned to Baghdad (this is due, in part, to her learning what it is like to be in Germany - get bad news from the TV set and NO news from down range).

She began the pre-inventory on the 2d of January...just as scheduled. She says it is going well but that there is just a LOT of stuff.

Fortunately CPT Patti has just about the world's best supply sergeant, SGT Taylor, to help her.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

THE MAN TO HEAD THE WAR ON TERROR? wouldn't appear so...

Presidential hopeful Howard Dean, who accuses President Bush of being weak on homeland security, was warned repeatedly as Vermont governor about security lapses at his state's nuclear power plant and was told the state was ill-prepared for a disaster at its most attractive terrorist target.

The warnings, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press, began in 1991 when a group of students were brought into a secure area of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant without proper screening. On at least two occasions, a gun or mock terrorists passed undetected into the plant during security tests.

During Dean's final year in office in 2002, an audit concluded that despite a decade of repeated warnings of poor safety at Vermont Yankee, Dean's administration was poorly prepared for a nuclear disaster.


A meteorite has hit northern Iran causing minor damage to property but there were no immediate reports of casualties, state radio has said.

It said the impact sent locals in panic onto the streets in the northern town of Babol in Mazandaran province...

It said the impact was felt up to one kilometre away.

Iranians are currently mourning at least 30,000 people killed by an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale which struck southeastern Iran on December 26.
A NASA rover plunged through the atmosphere of Mars and bounced down on its rocky surface last night, beginning a mission to roam the red planet seeking evidence it was once suitable for life.

A cheer went up at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory after signals showed the spacecraft had reached Mars. The Spirit rover signalled Earth after landing.

Spirit appeared on track to make a "bull's-eye" landing within a cigar-shaped ellipse inside Gusev Crater, just south of the Martian equator, navigation team chief Louis D'Amario said.

"This is essentially perfect navigation. We couldn't have possibly hoped to do better," he said.

Previously, about two of every three attempts to land craft on Mars have failed.

The latest apparent failure was the British Beagle 2 lander, which has not been heard from since it was to have set down on Mars Dec. 25.

The Beagle 2 was actually launched by the European Space Agency.

(Emphasis mine)
South Korean researchers report they've cloned cattle that are resistant to mad-cow disease.

South Carolina Guardsmen heading to have over half of all SC Guard Guys.
A National Guard battalion assigned to Iraq received a rousing farewell Saturday, and a community vowed to watch over their families while they are away.

A flag-waving crowd gathered outside the county courthouse to send off more than 300 guardsmen from the 3rd Battalion, 178th Field Artillery.

"If this is a farewell, I can't wait for the homecoming," the battalion's Capt. David Brooks told cheering onlookers in downtown Lancaster...

The deployment of the Lancaster-based unit means 2,400 South Carolinians, 60 percent of the S.C. National Guard, have gone to Iraq since March, said Maj. Gen. Stan Spears, adjutant general of South Carolina.


Tells the media what he thinks of them.
The Democratic candidates can be expected to ignore these facts, but for the media to do so is, in my view, a dereliction of duty.

He's got a good list of "non-messes" here...good reading.

Where I grew up, I mean.
Helicopter pilot Capt. Kimberly Hampton of Easley was killed in Iraq Friday, making her the first female pilot casualty.

Saturday, her parents wrapped themselves in the memories of her warmth and smile, and her patriotic leanings.

"She believed in what she was doing over there," said her dad, Dale Hampton. "She was a commander of helicopters over there."

He said Hampton wrote of her desire to fly when she was in third grade.

A 1994 graduate of Easley High School, Hampton was deployed Aug. 31, her father said.

Hampton said he hoped his daughter's death would "get some people to pay attention to what's going on over there."

I hope so too, Sir...I hope so too.
Prime Minister Tony Blair flew into Basra today for a surprise visit to British troops in Iraq.

Mr Blair landed in an RAF C17 Globemaster transport plane which had ferried him from his Egyptian holiday resort of Sharm-el-Sheik after a family Christmas break.

I attended the memorial service yesterday for CSM Eric Cooke, Command Sergeant Major of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1AD. CSM Cooke was killed by a roadside bomb on Christmas Eve.

Traditional radio call signs in the Army designate commanders as "6" and their most senior enlisted counterparts as "7". Because he belonged to the "Ready First Combat Team", CSM Cooke's call sign was Ready 7.

At the end of his remarks, the Brigade commander - Ready 6 - closed with these words:

"Ready 7...mission accomplished. Thank you...we'll take it from here."

Here is a story about CSM Cooke
...Cooke was regarded as the definitive soldier, Walkley said. “You knew he was a sergeant major — even if you saw the guy in civilian clothes.”

A commanding, inspiring presence and quiet authority defined Cooke’s 25-year career, Henry said.

“I never once [heard] him raise his voice,” Henry said. “You did something for Sgt. Maj. Cooke because you knew it was the right thing to do.”


Now extended to help families cover the costs of visiting their wounded.

Very cool.
“Sometimes, the love and support of family is the best medicine to help an injured troop recover from his or her injuries,” said U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., the lawmaker who kicked off “Operation Hero Miles,” a program in which travelers can donate their frequent flyer miles.

With a donation of 680 free plane tickets from beermaker Anheuser-Busch Inc., the program has expanded to now funnel some of the donated tickets and frequent flyer miles to families visiting wounded or ill troops at one of the 29 Fisher Houses set up at military hospitals in the United States. There also are two facilities in Landstuhl, Germany.

The free tickets will be given out first to families “in need” and who cannot afford to pay their own way, said Fisher House spokesman Jim Weiskopf.


Saving lives.
Using recently fielded mine detection vehicles, soldiers from Company C, 489th Engineer Battalion are hunting roadside bombs similar to those that have killed and maimed dozens of U.S. troops in Iraq over the past six months.

Equipped with South African-designed vehicles — the Meerkat and the Buffalo — the Arkansas-based Army Reserve troops have taken an Army side project to the forefront in the military’s efforts to counter the threat of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.


ABOARD USS PELELIU, At Sea (1 JAN 2004) – Fifteen individuals were detained and an estimated 2,800 pounds of hashish (approximately $11 million street value) was seized by U.S. and coalition maritime forces following the interception of a dhow in the North Arabian Sea.

These forces were operating in international waters in the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility in support of expanded Maritime Interception Operations (MIO) designed to deny use of the seas by terrorists under the auspices of the Global War on Terrorism.

This interception is the third in two weeks by coalition maritime forces...

“Many terror organizations have been assessed to use drug money to fund their operations,” said Vice Adm. David C. Nichols, Jr., Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet. “It is easy to see how al Qaeda could use this money making network to fund their operations,” Nichols continued.

Day 237 of CPT Patti's Arabian adventure...with 57 more scheduled days in command.

Me...I'm enjoying the nice little snow storm we are having here in Giessen this morning.