Friday, January 23, 2004

Public support for the war in Iraq remains strong, with almost two-thirds of the American public saying that going to war was the right decision, a poll out Thursday found.

The number who said going to war was the right decision, 65 percent, is about the same number who felt that way in December, soon after the capture of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.


Hits a diplomatic grand-slam in the Arab states.

Not to mention his other homers and RBIs around the world.

Good job, Sir.
The Gulf countries pledged to waive a substantial amount of Iraq debts after "successful" talks with US special envoy James Baker.

After securing promises from a number of European and Asian countries to ease Iraq's crippling $120 billion debt burden, Baker made a whirlwind tour of four Gulf states to win over promises of writing off owed funds, despite their apparent reluctance to make financial concessions to Iraq.

"The mission in the four countries was very successful," a US adminstration official said in Saudi Arabia, the last stopover on Baker's tour which also took him to Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar.

Charles A. Duelfer, the former No. 2 United Nations weapons inspector for Iraq, is likely to be named soon to succeed David Kay as the leader of the American team searching in that country for evidence of illicit weapons, according to senior American officials.

Mr. Duelfer recently expressed deep public skepticism that any chemical or biological weapons would be found in Iraq, and he has suggested that the task ahead for American inspectors may be understanding Iraq's intentions on illicit weapons rather than any actual arsenal.

For that reason, Mr. Duelfer's choice could be disputed among those in the Bush administration who have stuck to the view that illicit weapons ? cited by the administration as a principal reason for going to war ? will eventually be discovered.

I recognize this is an old and extremely polarized debate, but pardon me if I jump in just a bit late.

I'm awfully disturbed that a whole swath of the world looks at this issue and arrives at the conclusion that "the President lied." As has been pointed out over and over again, if President Bush lied, then so did President Clinton , so did Wesley Clark. and so did the United Nations and many of its members.

Me...I doubt that is likely. Yes...people lie. Sometimes Presidents lie. But it is highly unlikely that they would all lie the same way about the same thing.

It seems childish to me that when a widely held belief appears not to be true we lapse into taunts of "liar liar".

I think the sober minds among us would stop to ask "why did we believe what we believed?"

Now - I'm not ready to concede there were no WMD in Iraq. I also find that to be unlikely. Apparently Vice President Cheney (who, say what you may about him, is undeniably one very smart guy) isn't ready either.

So...if we rule out the improbable (they all lied the same lie...) we are left with something that on the face of it was credible enough for our leaders and others to believe it. Secretary Powell, for instance. I served on his staff when he was a 4 star general...and I would testify today to the strength of his ethics.

So - how did we get to the WMD belief to begin with would seem to be the prudent question to ask.

And I won't run down the chain of events/resolutions in the UN that supported that conclusion...other blogs and pundits have written that into the ground. It was solid enough, apparently for the UN body.

But what about the evidence to support the events and resolutions? What can we say of it? In other words, what assessment can we make of the sources for that supporting evidence?

What can we say about the intelligence apparatus of the USA?

Let us assume for the moment that there are, in fact, no WMD in Iraq and there weren't any there in the Autumn of 2002 when this debate was hot in the UN. Recognizing that one can't prove a negative, wouldn't we at least hope that our intelligence assets would put the preponderance of evidence on that truth? But they didn't.

And look at what they got right. Harken back to the Powell briefing in the UN. Satellite imagery got right the fact that the test stands for missile rockets were larger than allowed by UN resolution. That was proven on the ground. Later on we intercepted a North Korean vessel carrying missile parts bound for Iraq based upon our intel assets. So there is reason to have some confidence in our ability to gather intel.

So how could the intel have been so wrong about Iraqs WMD?

Logically we are faced with two conclusions, once we rule out the highly unlikely. EITHER, our intelligence folks are not up the task we ask of them OR Iraq had WMD in some form and has managed to keep us from proving it.

Either way, then, we should be concerned. All of us. Because a weak intel apparatus has serious implications for the security of the USA in an age of exportable terrorism and suitcase sized nukes. And, as we are seeing all over bleedin' Iraq, weapons will find their way into the hands of those who wish us harm and whose lack of scruples will allow them to use them.

In my mind the grown-ups in this country need to get past the "liar liar" stage and try a little critical thinking.

Because the conclusions of that thinking have much graver consequences than imagined lies.

The Army makes the same mistakes...again...and leaders push troops up front without the logistics structure to ensure they have what they need...again.

And...again...somebody says they are going to fix it.

We'll see.
Battalions of tanks and armored vehicles, dashing forward under grueling conditions, got no repair parts for three weeks. Broken-down vehicles had to be stripped of usable parts and left behind. Some units ran dangerously low on ammunition and couldn't get resupplied; others in desperate need of M-16 and machine gun rounds got unneeded tank shells instead, according to logistics officers. Some troops had virtually no water while receiving truckloads of stuff they didn't need and couldn't carry...

In a devastating self-critique, Christianson and his staff have produced an analysis that concludes, in essence, that the Army's logisticians can't see what is needed on the battlefield, can't respond rapidly when they do find out what's needed, and can't distribute what they have when it's needed...

But the supply problems were exacerbated, officers said, by the decision of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to deploy mostly combat units in the weeks before the invasion, and to hold back Army and Marine Corps logistics and support units until weeks or months later -- gambling that the war would be over quickly enough that sustained resupply wouldn't be needed.
But then there is always the absolutely indispensable and resourceful Supply Sergeant who manages to get things this guy.
If you need it and it is in Baghdad, Iraq, Sgt. Steve Litten can get it. He spent the last year scrounging supplies and comfort items for the paratroopers in the 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment.

Last summer, he got pizza for the paratroopers in Bravo Company. He also got the battalion cell phones and mattresses. One of the most coveted places to have access to in Iraq is the Coalition Provisional Authorities' compound. The dining hall is one of the best in the country, and it is where Paul Bremer, the United States administrator in Iraq, has an office.

The only soldiers allowed in the coalition offices are the soldiers who work there and Litten. He was able to get a security badge but did not say how he did it. The pass allowed him to meet Bremer and other high-level dignitaries as well as get supplies for the paratroopers.

Litten gets what he needs through charm. Once, while walking through the Coalition Provisional Authority offices, Litten saw a female brigadier general. Instead of just walking by, he stopped and talked to her. He said she was a bit cold until he congratulated her on making general.

"That is a great accomplishment," he told her. The general spoke to Litten for the next 10 minutes, despite her aide's protests. She told him to contact her if he needed anything.

Army Gen. Tommy Franks watched ground forces advance toward Baghdad on dozens of high-definition, flat-panel plasma monitors.

On one screen, the former commander of the Central Command observed a blue icon representing friendly forces moving across a plasma television, far ahead of its squadron and approaching enemy territory.

“It was moving boldly toward downtown Baghdad,” Franks recalled.

Franks began to fear that the troops were too far ahead of supporting units, but he soon got word that the blue forces on the screen were only 30 minutes in front of a reconnaissance force headed for Saddam International Airport. That airport, Franks was informed, would be seized in less than four hours.

The message and the technology used to convey it got the same reaction. “Oh my God!” ...

“(The networked system) for the first time in history gave ground commanders a precise sense of forces,” Franks said.

The same was true in Afghanistan, Franks said...

“Operating in a netcentric way completely destroyed the Taliban in 75 days,” he said.
Col. Kurt Fuller, the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade, says Iraqi insurgents no longer pose a great threat in southern Baghdad.

"We have really put the smack-down on them," said Fuller, whose unit is headed home this week after a year in Iraq.

He spoke Tuesday in Baghdad about the efforts of his soldiers and the improvements they have made in Iraq.

Fuller, who took command of the brigade in July, saw some of the bloodiest months in Baghdad that followed the end of the war in May. In the last couple months the paratroopers have made great strides in destroying cells of former regime loyalists, he said.

The main threats now in Baghdad come from Sunni religious extremists and foreign terrorists.

Fuller blamed a recent string of car bombs on the terrorists.

"In the long term, this is what we are going to be dealing with," he said.

what may be an acid test for investor confidence in postwar Iraq, a revamped Baghdad Stock Exchange is due to open later this month and may have more than 100 companies listed by the end of the year.

Financial and technical advisers with the U.S.-led civilian authority in Iraq have been working for months to get the exchange back on its feet after it shut down nearly a year ago and its listings were frozen...

"We're on track to get it done by the end of the month," Michael Pierson, a spokesman for the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority which is overseeing the exchange's relaunch, said this week.

According to bankers familiar with the project, the plan would be to relist 10 to 15 stocks a month, with companies only being requoted once their accounts have been verified by internationally recognized auditors and checks have been made into major shareholders to weed out former regime members.


If you are a reservist, this is worth a read.
Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, chief of the Army Reserve, said he is working with Army leaders on a plan to apportion the Army Reserves into eight to 10 fully manned “Army Reserve Expeditionary Packages,” or AREPs, that will cycle through a predictable schedule of training and preparation, eligibility for deployment, and rest and reconstitution.

The goal is to develop a system in which reservists would be eligible to deploy or be deployed “every four to five years,” Helmly told Pentagon reporters.


Some days I wonder - if we truly grasped the enormity of the task...would we think it impossible?
So far, 1,200 have graduated basic training and another 2,500 are in training. The monthly pay ranges from $120 for junior enlisted to $240 for senior officers. The attrition rate is 20 percent to 25 percent...

Equipping the battalions with new gear will take a long time, and will be costly. Instead, some of the hardware will be updated weapon systems. For example, Eaton said, updating a 50-year-old Soviet T-55 tank runs about $1 million, versus buying a new M1A1 Abrams for $600 million...

In addition to training in tactics and procedures, the soldiers also are schooled in tolerance and values, Eaton said.

“This is not the old Army … that oppressed and terrorized people.”


Can you believe it has been over 4 weeks since Christmas?

Can I believe that CPT Patti has been gone 256 days?

Should I limit myself to two rhetorical questions per post?

Thursday, January 22, 2004

NASA's Spirit rover stopped transmitting data from Mars for more than 24 hours, mission managers said Thursday, calling it an "extremely serious anomaly."

NASA last heard from Spirit early Wednesday. Since then, it has returned just random, meaningless radio noise — and only then sporadically, scientists said. Initially, the scientists said they believed weather problems on Earth caused the glitch. They now said they believe the rover was experiencing hardware or software problems.

"This is a serious problem. This is an extremely serious anomaly," project manager Pete Theisinger said.

Spirit is one half of a $820 million mission. Its twin, Opportunity, is scheduled to land on Mars on Saturday.

NASA last heard from Spirit as it prepared to continue its work examining its first rock, just a few yards from its lander.

Serious bummer

If you are Howard Dean, you buy it.
Braun campaign manager Patricia Ireland -- the former National Organization for Women president who was never able to energize the feminist community behind Braun -- started talking to Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi at the end of last week. Trippi turned her over to Dean senior adviser Jon Haber.

That means during Sunday's debate in Iowa, when Braun defended Dean after he was attacked by Al Sharpton for his lack of minority hirings while Vermont governor, Braun was already crafting her exit strategy with Dean.

By early this week, Ireland was in negotiations with Haber on the details of Braun's departure. Braun's issues: She has a big campaign debt, and the trickle of money she was getting would dry up once she quit the contest. ...

"We are going to help her with the debt," Haber told me. The debt tab could be in the neighborhood of some $300,000 and Dean's camp will help Braun raise the money to pay it off.

Braun will campaign for Dean three days of the week, with the Dean campaign picking up her travel expenses.

Emphasis added.

(via The Corner)
And when I say, “It’s OK,” then it’s OK, period.

- GEN (Retired) Wesley Clark

There is a difference between leadership and arrogance, general.

Last time I checked the Pope was the only one presumed by a large number of folks to be infallible.
For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible, and no one can now doubt the word of America.

- President George W. Bush

Give the world a break here, would ya?
A lawyer for the two women said they were humiliated and degraded almost three years ago when the attendant said: "Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; pick a seat, we gotta go." Citing an old racist version of the rhyme, the sisters said it was aimed at them.

The attendant said she had used the rhyme before, didn't know its history, and didn't mean to offend anyone.

The women decided to sue out of frustration after Southwest Airlines would not take their complaint seriously.

And neither did the jury...recognizing, as did Southwest Airlines, as did most of us that this is an attempt at social extortion by two would-be opportunists.

Reckon I might figure it that way too.
A judge suspended the remainder of a convict's work-release sentence because of his military service in Iraq.

Allen Superior Judge John F. Surbeck Jr. issued an order releasing Matthew C. Foster last week.

Foster, 22, returned to Allen County Work Release to complete the sentence in December after he returned from Iraq, where he served as a sergeant in the Indiana National Guard's 1st Battalion, 293rd Infantry.

Foster was serving a one-year sentence on charges of residential entry, theft and invasion of privacy when he was temporarily released to join his Guard unit in November 2002.

Coalition troops have already seized an estimated 2 million tons of aging explosives, but there's still another million believed spread around the country.

"One big weapons dump," is how the Americans describe the Iraqi countryside. "[They're] everywhere," Haggan said. "Every little village we go into on collection missions. There's buildings, there's houses being used to store ammunition."

This particular load was being layered in the crater like seafood and corn for a New England clambake. On the bottom were the large artillery shells, topped with mortar shells of varying sizes and then the lean, rocket-propelled grenades.

Haggan expertly weaved inch-thick blocks of plastic explosive among the rusting munitions, then topped off the explosive store with a couple of RPG launchers, and an armful of 60's-era rifles.

Soldiers climbed into a Humvee and drove back to a safe observation point 500 yards away.

A radio called out to clear the area of helicopters and other low-flying aircraft. A few minutes later the shout of "Fire in the hole!" was heard and a 200-foot-high blaze of searing orange flame erupted from the crater.

Iraq's crude oil exports, which are the country's biggest source of revenue, should jump 73 percent this year to $16.6 billion from $9.6 billion in 2003, the U.S. government said Wednesday.

Osama got his jihad orders mixed up...
The large number of Muslim deaths caused by al Qaeda terrorist attacks in Iraq has created p.r. problems for Osama bin Laden, who now appears to be having second thoughts about his holy war against coalition forces there, The Post has learned.

New articles in al Qaeda's biweekly Internet magazine Sawt al-Jihad, or "Voice of Jihad," are urging al Qaeda supporters to stay out of Baghdad and concentrate on hitting U.S. military targets in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, according to terrorist expert Rita Katz, whose SITE Institute monitors al Qaeda propaganda on the Internet.

"My instructions to the people of the peninsula [Saudi Arabia], young as old, men as women, is to fight Americans in their homes and the people of Yemen should fight the Americans in their bases, battleships and their consulates," wrote an al Qaeda propagandist named Muhammad bin al-Salim in an article titled "Do Not Go To Iraq."


This author believes they've forgotten their roots.
This is certainly not the example set by the world’s great battlefield humanitarians: Henry Dunant, founder of the International Red Cross; Clara Barton, Civil War nurse and founder of the American Red Cross; or Florence Nightingale, who braved Russian shelling during the Crimean War to bring aid and comfort to Britain’s battlefield wounded...

It has now been six months since the UN departed Baghdad. Little has changed in Iraq. Violence and mayhem remain unchecked throughout the country. Everywhere, Iraqi civilians are in dire need of humanitarian aid. It may be some time before Iraq resembles Vermont.

Both U.S. and Iraqi officials have pleaded with Secretary General Kofi Annan to authorize the return of the UN, but to no avail. Citing ongoing security concerns, the Secretary General has balked at sending a survey team to the Iraqi capital until the Coalition could guarantee its safety.

But safety is not what the UN and the ICRC are all about. Their missions are to assist the needy, relieve suffering and help to bring order out of chaos -- regardless of the risk. Yet when it comes to Iraq, both organizations seem to have forgotten that these tasks are written into their job descriptions...

More sobering is the hypocrisy the UN and the ICRC show towards the United States as it battles to bring law and order to a chaotic corner of the world. Americans must ...endure the sniping of those in the international community who are unable, or unwilling, to bear the cost in either lives or treasure for the principles they espouse.

Ever since September 11th, ICRC spokesmen have publicly chastised the Bush Administration for its decision to hold terrorist suspects in military detention at the U.S. base in Guantanamo, Cuba. They have upbraided Washington for using what the Red Cross calls disproportionate and indiscriminate force on the battlefield and have faulted the Pentagon for occasionally permitting both Iraqi and Afghan POWs to be photographed after their capture.

Most egregiously, the ICRC also has been quick to condemn the U.S. for the deaths of non-combatants during the Iraq campaign. Yet it has been less than forceful in highlighting the perfidious manner in which Saddam’s soldiers routinely fired upon Coalition forces from within schools, mosques and hospitals in their efforts to avoid reprisal.

As a result, the U.S. sustained higher casualties in the Iraq campaign than was necessary because the Pentagon’s rules of engagement sought to minimize the intentional loss of civilian life. "We choose targets carefully to avoid civilians," noted a spokeswoman for the U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in a news conference on April 10th."Our ground and air forces take similar care to avoid damaging neighborhoods, hospitals and religious sites."


The ubiquitous Iraqi rumor mill.
Troops are discouraged from correcting the local legend that a nightly alarm from the U.S. military base in the city means U.S. soldiers have their guns trained on all moving targets. And Iraqis will just have to keep guessing whether air-conditioned uniforms are the real reason American soldiers keep their cool on 12-hour shifts.

But soldiers are doing all they can to make sure the real version of Hussein's capture hits the streets -- mostly the real version anyway. When doubtful residents question why their former president looked so disoriented in images of his arrest, troops sometimes say it's because of newfangled electrical weapons that temporarily stun the victim.

''Yes, it's science fiction. Yes, it's a little bit of an elaboration, a tiny lie,'' said Vincent, a public affairs officer for the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade. ``But Iraqis love the rumors and the gossip. It's going to get out one way or another.''


Lobbing mortars, targeting women.

Color me not-very-impressed.
Two U.S. soldiers were killed in a barrage against a camp in central Iraq, and the security chief of Spanish troops was seriously wounded Thursday during a raid south of the capital, officials said.

Elsewhere, gunmen ambushed a vehicle carrying Iraqi women to work at a U.S. military base, killing three of them, relatives said. it appeared the women were targeted because they worked for the occupation force.

In Baghdad, Iraq's top Shiite Muslim cleric also signaled flexibility on holding early elections, suggesting he will follow any U.N. recommendation on whether a direct vote is feasible, an Iraqi official said early today.

Very much alive and well in Iraq
Some Iraqi women think the American guys are cute, said Aisha Emad, 22. But she and her friends avoid soldiers, fearing others will say they are trying to sleep with the enemy.

“We may say things between each other, but we never tell the soldiers,” Emad said, as her smiling brown eyes darted between a group of Iraqi men watching nearby and the soldiers standing beside her. “They are invaders.”

Iraqi men use the rudest terms to say that female students want sex with Americans, said Ali Fareed, 24. Many of his friends are angry and jealous of soldiers on campus, Fareed added...

While Iraqi women are not allowed to flirt with the Americans, the Iraqi men on campus had no trouble calling out to Spc. Erin Romero, 21, of Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Romero, a fair-skinned, blond-haired woman, ignored the comments.

“They say, ‘You’re beautiful, an angel,’ ” Romero said. “It’s just they are not used to women with blonder hair, bluer eyes and lighter skin.”


Compared to the bombed out buildings the 1AD moved into upon its arrival.

I hope the soldiers of OIF2 appreciate these efforts.
Engineers from the 1st Armored Division are midway through an $800 million project to build half a dozen camps for the incoming 1st Cavalry Division.

The new outposts, dubbed enduring camps, will improve living quarters for soldiers and allow the military to return key infrastructure sites within the Iraqi capital to the emerging government, military leaders said.

Already, several hundred mobile trailers, to be used as soldiers’ living quarters, are laid out in rows. Each soldier will have 80 square feet of living space. Rooms inside the trailers will have beds, a table and lamp, and a closet. Between the two rooms, within each trailer, soldiers will share a shower, sink and toilet.

This is day 255 of CPT Patti's sojourn to Iraq. Wouldn't you like to see a road map of her life that brought her from her birthplace of Seoul, through the USA and on to this little side trip?

Wednesday, January 21, 2004


Speaking to Senator Bob Dole on Larry King Live Clark says:
Senator, with all due respect, he's a lieutenant and I'm a general.

Let me just say this...pulling rank is for rookies. And that is in the Army.

If, by the time an officer leaves his Lieutenant years he hasn't figured out how to lead except through rank-pulling...he is considered a loser by his fellow officers and, more pointedly, by those he is supposed to lead.

Besides...his rank today, like mine, is (Retired).


as in:
I wonder what Dean?s position is on Weapons of Self Destruction?

At National Review Online: David Frum writes about the rejection of Howard Dean in the Iowa Caucuses. The article is titled:
Have the Democrats gone sane?

Now, no one asked me, but my take on this Iowa result is fairly simple.

A segment of the Iowa populous jumped on the Dean bandwagon early on because it felt good. It feels good to be angry. It is righteous. We get to wallow in our desire to just shake our finger at someone who has in some way offended us.

It is the way children respond when they perceive they have been wronged.

But most of us understand...if we need the occasional reminder, that civilization didn't get to be civilization because we allowed ourselves to run around willy nilly spewing our angry venom all over the place. It got to be civilization exactly because folks learned to refrain from that sort of hypo-evolved behavior and we subjected ourselves to the rule of manners. Civility.

It is why the Senate has a tradition (seemingly in peril) of referring to colleagues as the "distinguished gentleman from South Carolina" instead of "That pinheaded jerk from Charleston".

And so, as we humans do...we scratch the itch a little feels so good! We let our anger roil just a bit...but as the time approaches to go on record....especially in the caucus stand before our neighbors and declare...well, cooler heads prevail.

Anger works on TV drama series.

It doesn't work as a leadership style.

No one needs help being angry. We all manage to do that pretty well. Where most of us can use a little help is in rising above the fray. Being bigger than the issues. Being bigger than our basest impulses.

And in my mind that is what most folks seek in their leaders.

I know I do. And I believe that in the end that is why only 18% of Iowans went on record for Dean.

And then...true to form...he proceded to explode.

I'm thinking its over for Dean.

And I've got company.

Dan Goldberg, a marketing executive with an independent film company in New York, said he had been planning to volunteer for Dean in New Hampshire. After watching the Monday night speech, Goldberg said, he changed his mind.

"Any chances I would vote for Dean were completely erased by that speech last night -- scary," he said. "I thought mirrors in my apartment would shatter. Especially in contrast with Edwards, who was fantastic."

Happily, civility is not yet dead.

The top British official in southern Iraq says business is booming in what Iraqis hope will once again be known as the Venice of the East -- at least measured by the traffic jams that paralyse the streets of this port city. "Six months ago, it took me 20 minutes to go to the hospital, this morning it was 45," Sir Hillary Synnott told AFP in his office in the palace of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on the western bank of the Shatt al-Arab waterway.

"In August they (businessmen) said, business is good. Today, they say business is booming," he said.

See him up close. Good read.
On most missions, the raiders of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment are accompanied by Dan Knight, a strapping captain with a shaved head, an aw-shucks drawl and an awesome résumé: 12-year Green Beret, Persian Gulf War combat veteran, Special Forces company commander, demolitions expert, high-altitude jumper and deep-sea scuba diver.

Knight carries no weapon, though he mightily wishes he could. Instead, tucked in his rucksack is a book covered in camouflage canvas that says "Army of the Lord."

Knight is the regimental chaplain, a soldier's soldier who switched gears in mid-career, spent two years at a Louisiana seminary and reappeared in Afghanistan and Iraq carrying a military-issue Bible.

"Being a noncombatant is not exactly my cup of tea, but if it's what God wants me to do, I'll abide," said Knight, 37, whose duties are to nurture the living, comfort the wounded and honor the dead. "I don't crave combat, but I fight to get on every mission I can. There's nothing more rewarding to me than being on the battlefield, praying with a wounded man."


With the conclusions we drew yesterday.
The majority Shiite Muslims in Iraq want power so badly - after decades of brutal suppression by Saddam Hussein and the Sunni minority - that they have taken to the streets, demanding direct elections within six months, even if the voting would be messy.

Not possible, say the US occupiers, who asked the UN on Tuesday to support their plan: an interim government chosen by local councils, with a constitution and elections later.

The UN has already hinted it agrees that fair elections cannot be organized so fast in a nation still in conflict and turmoil. Its final decision, perhaps coming next week, is likely to carry enough legitimacy that the Shiites' grand ayatollah, Ali Sistani, will call off the protests. Some 100,000 people marched in Baghdad Monday.

Mr. Sistani must know he is in a bind. As an unelected leader, he hardly has the legitimacy among non-Shiite Iraqis to call for quick democracy. His authority lies in one sect of Islam, not in secular governance.

And the fact that he would incite demonstrations just reinforces the perception that Shiites would be as domineering as Sunni leaders if they were to win a badly run election without a constitution in place that safeguards minority rights.


Sunday's massive truck bombing in Baghdad, which took at least 24 lives and wounded 60, was surely a dreadful tragedy - but hardly the success its perpetrators sought.

That's because the bombers failed to get into what was almost certainly their target: the main Coalition compound.

Stringent security protocols at the entrance did what they were supposed to - so the bombers had to detonate their half-ton of explosives some 50 feet outside the gate to the Coalition Provisional Authority's headquarters.

Alas, this meant some 200 Iraqi civilians awaiting entrance to the area, including Coalition staff and folks seeking work, took the full force of the blast.

The results were horrific. But had the bombers managed to penetrate the checkpoint and detonate the bomb near a building filled with Coalition workers and troops, it might have been not just a human tragedy, but also a setback for the whole U.S.-led effort in Iraq.

Instead, the bombing - no doubt timed to coincide with talks between Coalition Provisional Authority head L. Paul Bremer, delegates from the Iraqi Governing Council and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan - is unlikely to make much of a dent in U.S. policy in Iraq.

Nor does the bombing at the "Assassins Gate" (named for the first unit to control the area - A Company of the 4/64 Armored Regiment) indicate in the least that the Coalition is "losing" the counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency campaign.

Though this is the deadliest single terrorist strike in Iraq since the one on an Italian base in November, attacks on Coalition forces have dropped significantly since the capture of Saddam Hussein last month.


I've scoured the internet and online map stores for a decent map of Baghdad so I could keep up with the news. Everything I could find was old and outdated.

If your soldier is preparing to leave for may want to get each of you a copy of this.
Maptech (Amesbury, MA) and LeadDog Consulting (Corinth, VT) introduce a new dimension to knowing where you are in Iraq. Baghdad City Streets offers soldiers, military personnel, journalists, and workers stationed in Baghdad or other Iraqi cities a better means of navigation.

The product is perfect for military families who have family members based in Iraq, allowing them to see a map of where their loved ones are. In addition to the latest, most detailed street maps for Baghdad, the CD includes the major roads and highways for the entire country including the seventeen major cities.

If it truly were a hopeless quagmire...would we be reading this?
Despite the upheaval of recent months, Iraq will play in Asia-Oceania zone's Group 4 of the Davis Cup in Jordan in April, and new officials have taken over the Iraqi tennis federation since the downfall of the dictator.

"With the new regime, everything's changed," said Dave Miley, director of development of the London-based International Tennis Federation. "I don't recognize any names on the new list from the previous guys. It's going to be a huge learning experience." The federation last month dispatched balls and rackets to Iraq, and plans to send an expert to Baghdad when the security situation improves.

Now...if we can just agree on how to get from here to there.
"Saddam is a criminal who killed many thousands of people. All Iraqis want him to hang," said Karim Darani, 43, a marcher from the large, impoverished Shiite community in northeastern Baghdad known as Sadr City. "We want Iraq to be a peaceful, united nation for all ethnic groups — Shiites and Sunnis, Kurds and Christians and Turks."


Hey...suddenly everyone is doing it...

MOSUL, Iraq – Former high-ranking members of the Ba’ath Party renounced affiliation with their political party in today Rabiah on the Syrian border, in a meeting with the leaders of the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade (Stryker), 2nd Infantry Division, attached to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

The meeting took place in a schoolroom filled with 120 Ba’athists, and was led by the town mayor and Lt. Col. Buddy Carman, regiment commander. Before the Ba’athists stood to take an oath renouncing the party, Carman made it clear what taking the oath meant.

“This pledge is voluntary, there will be no payment, no promise of jobs,” he said.

The 254th day that CPT Patti has been "over there."

Today's posts are sponsored by the Rapid German Study Foundation...saving you time by letting you know what you don't need to know.

Today's phrase not worth learning refers to hair color for women.

Women's hair color kits in Germany come in every shade from traffic cone orange to plum puple. It may save you time to learn that and not waste time with the following phrase:

Gibt es etwas natürlich vorhandene Farben?

Or, in English, "Do you have any colors that appear naturally in nature?"

Silly girl. Anyone can be born with blonde, ash or chestnut hair. But hair in a color that isn't even named yet by Crayola, ah...that is the prize.

No...we don't. Go away.

Save yourself the time...get your hair color right before you fly over here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

US and Iraqi officials urged UN Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday to send a team of specialists to Iraq to determine whether direct elections can be held there in the coming months.

Last night, delegates exiting a Security Council meeting on the subject expressed the belief that specialists eventually will be sent.

Annan told reporters that he is considering the request but has not made a decision about whether the world body would return to Iraq before power is transferred to an independent Iraqi government June 30. UN staff left the country after a bombing at the agency's compound in Baghdad in August killed 22 people.

Here's my take. I know these folks have a unique opportunity to set their nation on a different course. You know it too. Trouble is, we're not sure they get it.

The guy who speaks loudest in Iraqi neighborhoods tends to be the cleric of the day. And the cleric tends to want to establish an Islamic Theocracy a la Iran (a rational answer to the question "why?" would be anyone's guess.)

But if the USA knows anything better than anyone else in the worlds it is that Theology makes a lousy foundation for a national government.

Direct elections right now would probably result in a whole lot of folks blindly following the cleric's commands at Friday prayers.

And that would squander the opportunity to allow these folks to rise above everyone of their Arab neighbors.

But of course, if the USA says they aren't ready for these type elections, well, that's because "we want their oil".

But if the vaunted UN says a similar thing, well then, of course, it must be so. opinion is we are seeking help here so as to prevent the newly freed from reenslaving themselves.
Saddam Hussein's former U.N. envoy accused the United States of deliberately sowing chaos in Iraq to prevent democracy from taking hold.

In interviews with The Associated Press on Saturday and Monday, former Iraqi U.N. envoy Mohammed al-Douri denounced a U.S. plan to create an appointed legislative body in Iraq and demanded free, direct elections instead.

He accused the United States of creating chaos in occupied Iraq as an excuse to avoid direct elections of a new government because that vote could lead to the United States losing control of Iraq's oil wealth and strategic location.


a. We wouldn't even be talking about democracy in Iraq without the intervention of the USA...Idiot.

b. If you know so much about demanding direct elections then explain please how your last leader was in power for 30 years and the only "election" ever held found him with a remarkable 100% of the vote, Idiot.

c. Do you think you might want to have a constitution in place so the folks you elect might have some idea just what standard you will hold them to, Idiot?

d. Or would you prefer that 25 million folks who don't have a clue about government by consent of the governed just jump in and elect the same Islamofascists who are currently murdering sellers of alcohol and attempting to stuff women back into ignorance according to the models that have worked to swimmingly for your Arab bleedin' neighbors, Idiot?

But please notice that this is the same event "alerted on" yesterday by the Reuters web site "Alerting Humanitarians to Emergencies"

I guess the folks at Reuters "forgot" to mention that the Iraqis turned these guys in, one guy blew himself up and there was a weapons cache in the house.

Humanitarian Emergency my ass.
For six months, the Arab foreigners lived quietly in a Baghdad neighborhood with their wives and children, until neighbors tipped off U.S. forces they could be insurgents.

On Monday morning, American soldiers came to the door of a brown-brick house and — speaking in Arabic over a loudspeaker — ordered those inside to surrender.

When the raid was over, three men were dead, a Syrian and two Yemenis. Two of the men were shot trying to escape; the other blew himself up in the front yard. Inside the house, U.S. troops found a weapons cache.

THE United States military has recently drawn up "a much clearer picture" of the guerrilla network operating in the Iraqi capital, two senior officials said yesterday.

They said the military had "non-specific intelligence" that car bombs were being prepared in Baghdad. But the information was not detailed enough to prevent Sunday’s suicide bombing outside the US-led coalition’s headquarters.

"We think in the past month we have made some significant advances against their organisation. We have a much clearer picture of the network and who their cell-leaders are," said one official.

He did not say how long it will take the army to wipe out the network, which officials earlier said was made up of 14 cells, each with ten to 100 members.

The new picture has emerged from intelligence gathered from almost 600 suspected insurgents arrested since November by the 1st Armoured Division, which is in charge of the Baghdad area. Saddam’s capture on 13 December also helped add clarity to the picture, the official said.

The cells are made up principally of former members of the Baath Party. The insurgents also include criminals and "others", among them religious extremists and foreign insurgents.

And apparently the 1st Armored Division isn't letting any grass grow under its feet:

US military officers said they had kicked off a new offensive in Baghdad, called Operation Iron Resolve, aimed at landing a knockout blow against insurgent leaders and financiers in the capital.

"Operation Iron Resolve... is really an offensive operation ... to attack the former regime insurgent cell leaders and the financiers" based on intelligence gathered in the last month, said a senior military officer.

The operation, which also involves the new Iraqi army and the Iraqi civil defense corps, looks to follow up on a flurry of major intelligence coups boasted by the First Armoured Division since November.


Good for ya, guys.
Troops came from as far away as Kuwait to tackle the “Terror de Tikrit,” also known as “The World’s Most Dangerous 10k Poker Run.”

They ran for prizes of knives and gift certificates. They collected cards along the route to use in a poker match afterward, vying for a trip to Las Vegas. The event was sponsored by Runner’s World magazine, Surefire, Pepsi, CamelBak and Stars and Stripes.

Though Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, is reputed to be dangerous, the huge soggy frontier surrounding Speicher made it an ideal place for a rugged 10k...

You could hear a hankering for home in their voices. One woman who won a prize told the crowd her unit was headed back in a week. The crowd booed; she smiled.

Arey wished them all good luck, regardless of rotation date.

“Thanks to everybody, had a great time,” he said. “And hopefully, we don’t see you next year.”

US GI's to say good-bye to the shopping bargains of Itaewon and the - er - other distractions up the hill.
The United States and South Korea completed military talks in Hawaii on Friday with an agreement to move all U.S. troops out of Yongsan Garrison by 2007, ending a 50-year presence in Seoul.

After the second day of the sixth round of Future of the Alliance talks, the two sides agreed to move U.S. Forces Korea headquarters, the U.N. Command and the Combined Forces Command out of Seoul and onto new U.S. bases in the Pyongtaek and Osan areas, officials said.


This story is actually about the aftermath of the huge bombing on Sunday. But I thought this part of the story a very interesting statement on the nature of the American GI.

Recall that until this month the only working cell phones in Iraq were limited to 500 phones owned, controlled and operated by the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Well, it seems one GI had other uses for the controlled phones.
Al-Bayati, 38, learned to make pizzas in Rome. He and his brother Wa’il opened the shop June 27, 2003, hoping to attract soldiers and foreigners. Someone within the U.S. military community even gave al-Bayati a cell phone that runs on a military network within Baghdad. It’s number is included on his take-away menu, along with 19 varieties of pizzas written in English.

The pizza shop makes deliveries, some of them to the checkpoint across the street, also known by troops as MOAC — the Mother of All Checkpoints.

On Monday, soldiers were wary of photographs and interviews for fear that they would get in trouble for ordering out. “But it’s great pizza,” said one soldier from the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, asking not to be identified.


Led by the comment that this story might keep you intrigued for a long long time.

Jodie Lane was walking her dogs in a snow and slush of NYC when her dogs yelped in pain as they crossed a metal grate.

Jodie saved the dogs, but was mortally electrocuted herself in the process.

According to the story as written in the Washington Times:
Thirty-year-old Jodie Lane, a doctoral student at Columbia University, was walking her two dogs when she stepped on the electrified metal cover of an electric utility box.

According to a witness: All of the sudden she started walking, took a few steps and said, 'I get what this is now,' and fell down."

As Mr. Gross pointed out as he filled in for Paul Harvey, with "I get what this is now" as her dying words...did she perhaps have a glimpse at that understanding we believe will happen by and by?

CPT Patti has been doing her part for the liberation of Iraq for 253 days.

The Rapid German Study Foundation is taking the day off so that we can bring you a small advance in the English language.

I have a new word - one that didn't exist prior to this morning - but one that will occasionally have application in your life. It occurred to me while watching the news on TV this morning.

It describes cabel news on those rare occasions that the story being addressed by the newscaster is the same as the story crawling across the bottom of the screen on the ticker.

The word is "synchronewsity".

I'm betting you will remember this word the next time synchronewsity happens to you!

Monday, January 19, 2004


Even though he hosted Dem hopeful Howard Dean in Plains, Georgia on Sunday, former President Jimmy Carter annoyed Dean's senior advisers when he claimed that Dean was not invited!

"He called me on the phone and said he'd like to worship with me," Carter explained. "I did not invite him, but I'm glad he came."

Carter said he has also visited with retired Gen. Wesley Clark, and hopes he will again.

The embarrassing Dean moment came after Dean was pressed in recent interviews on why he would leave Iowa at a crunch time.

Dean said he could not turn down an invitation to appear with a former president he admires, the WASHINGTON POST reports on Monday. But when a visitor to the Marantha church thanked Carter for inviting Dean, Carter quickly interjected, "I did not invite him!"
An explosive device being transported in a car exploded near a U.S. Army patrol, killing two Iraqis in the vehicle including a relative of Saddam Hussein, the military said today. There were no U.S. casualties.

The blast in a white Mercedes car happened late on Saturday on a street in the former dictator’s home town of Tikrit, said Lt. Col. Steve Russell, commander of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division.

Russell said the car exploded some 150 yards from his patrol, which had pulled to a halt at a shop in downtown Tikrit just minutes earlier to talk to its owner.

“It was not a suicide bombing. It was a failed attempt to attack coalition forces and they (the car’s occupants) killed themselves,” Russell said.

U.S. soldiers have been searching for the same vehicle, which is believed to have been involved in several other bombings, including a December 16 explosion in Tikrit that wounded three American soldiers.

Russell said one of the two men killed was a nephew of one of Saddam’s brothers, and was carrying a homemade bomb comprised of artillery shells and plastic explosives in his lap that detonated prematurely, killing him instantly and fatally wounding the driver. He would not further identify the bomber.
An exiled Syrian dissident has reiterated claims that Iraqi biological and chemical weapons were smuggled into Syria just before the start of the United States-led attack on Iraq in March last year.

"The Iraqi chemical and biological weapons were at first put in (Syrian) Presidential Guard depots, at its headquarters in Damascus," Nizzar Nayyouf told the French-based Internet news site, which specialises in news from the Middle East.

He said the operation took place "between February and March 2003, when Saddam Hussein realised that the Americans had decided to act" against Iraq.

The operation took place under supervision of General Zoul-Himla Shalich, the head of the guard in Syria and considered close to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Nayyouf said, citing as his sources "superior officers who themselves took part in the operation."

'I know they were still there January 7. I don't know anything else'

Nayyouf first made his allegations in early January on British television, but US officials quickly played them down. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said there had not been "any hard evidence that such a thing happened," but refused to completely dismiss the charges.

In his comments to the website, Nayyouf repeated the accusations made on Channel Five TV that the weapons were transported from Iraq to neighbouring Syria "in ambulances of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent."

He added that the weapons were later taken to "three highly-secured sites in central Syria: Misyaf, Tal Sinan and Shinsar... I know they were still there January 7. I don't know anything else."

Follow this link...and be amazed.

Not for the story you will find there. But that the wire service Reuters would actually confess its spin on this website.

I've railed against Reuters before - and their heavily anti-American reporting.

But here their web site is labeled "Alerting humanitarians to emergencies".

So, now a news service has appointed itself as the arbiter of what is a humanitarian emergency. And, no big surprise, this story is about US GI's killing Syrians and Yemeni in Baghdad.

The "humanitarian emergency" doesn't seem to be that these out-of-country Jihadists are in Baghdad blowing Iraqis to smithereens.


I didn't know this.
...the Assyrians are the original people of Iraq - remember Jonah and the whale and Nineveh? Nineveh is Mosul...

Click here to read the rest. An Assyrian Christian Minister describes Sunday's bombing in Baghdad.

Yemen would seem to be maneuvering itself into a position to get its butt kicked.
A new colony is quietly establishing itself in the Yemen capital of Sanaa as, one by one, Saddam Hussein’s close family and senior loyalists settle into a new life as political exiles.

“Little Baghdad” was discovered by DEBKAfile’s exclusive Persian Gulf sources, who note that almost every incoming flight from Damascus, Amman or Beirut - or even Baghdad - drops one or two members of the old regime at the Saudi airports of Jeddah and Riyadh, where they change over to Saudi or Yemeni planes bound for Sanaa. Sometimes, an entire clan of 15 to 20 members deposits three generations in Sanaa. Up until mid-December last year, Saddam’s fleeing supporters entered the southern Arabian republic in a trickle and were lodged in the few luxury hotels the Yemeni capital boasts. But in January, as their numbers jumped to hundreds, the Yemeni authorities began housing them all together in the Wadi Asrah suburb on the eastern edge of the town.

Like Damascus, Aleppo, Palmyra, Beirut and Dubai, the Yemeni capital can now boast its own “Little Baghdad,” inhabited by some 600 Iraq expatriate officials.

Leading lights of the new Baath community, according to DEBKAfile sources, are Saddam’s first wife Sajida Kheirallah Telfah, mother of the late Uday and Qusay and three daughters and her two brothers. Their late father was Saddam’s uncle and mentor...

Yemeni president Abdallah Salah is happy to make the refugees of the Saddam regime at home for three reasons:

1. He was always on friendly terms with the Saddam regime’s heads...In December 2002, weeks before the war, Salah, always on the lookout for profitable deals, put together a plan for a North Korean freighter carrying illegal Scud missiles for Iraq to secretly unload its cargo in a Yemeni port and have it transported overland to Iraq. The plan did not come off. A Spanish vessel acting on information relayed by US spy satellites intercepted the North Korean ship in the Indian Ocean before it reached Yemeni shores. It was boarded by US special forces and the missiles impounded.

2. Salah believes that providing ex-Saddam regime insiders with sanctuary adds to his credibility in his secret dealings with al Qaeda and lends him an image boost in the Arab world. At the same time, he claims to the Americans that this posture helps him maintain contacts with Osama bin Laden’s people for the purpose of gathering intelligence.

3. Salah’s overriding and constant motivation is the profit factor. Iraq’s evicted regime leaders arrive in Sanaa with bags of money, some smuggled out of Iraq, some salted away in secret Arab, Persian Gulf and European bank accounts. DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report that in the last two months, the Iraq expatriates of Sanaa’s Little Baghdad have deposited an estimated $350 m in Yemeni banks. There is most certainly more to come. The Yemeni president has high expectations that the vast sums of Iraqi cash reposing in Syrian banks will follow the affluent Iraqi refugees and end up in Yemeni banks.

A suicide bomber who killed nearly two dozen people in Baghdad on Sunday attempted to enter a heavily fortified zone around coalition headquarters and may have used eight unsuspecting Iraqis in the back of his truck to disguise his intentions, a security source told CNN.

The security source said the bomber was carrying eight Iraqis, who appeared to be day laborers, in the back of the truck.

"We don't think they knew it was a bomb," he said.


You need to read all of this.
“We were just rolling along, man, and it was all good,” Marklein remembered. The Humvees rolled past a market and just began to enter a neighborhood. Then Marklein saw a “big, orange ball” and heard a distant boom, like a firecracker at the end of a long tunnel.

But the explosion wasn’t far away: It was right there.

The blast was so bright Marklein didn’t perceive brightness, just color; the sound so loud he hardly heard it.

The driver blanked out. Then, head back up, he took in the damage. Tires, flat. Steering, zero. Gas, gone.

But Marklein realized the incredible. He was fine. Somebody had detonated an artillery round maybe three meters from the Humvee — it was shredded with shrapnel — yet Marklein was in one piece. He called out to Cooke, happy they made it.

The sergeant major was silent.

The Humvees in front advanced out of the blast area, then the troops got out and came running back. Bonura, the chaplain, knew inside that Cooke was all right. Sergeant Major always was.

Bonura helped load Cooke into the ambulance.

“I held his hand,” the chaplain said. “But there was no movement. Nothing.”

They talked to him in case he could hear.

“Sometimes,” Bonura said, “they can.”

Back at the base, soldiers were starting to party. A karaoke and R&B Christmas Eve. Bells dangled from the ceiling. The tree sparkled in the corner.

Then the rumor started: Sergeant Major was dead.

Stevens left the tactical operations center and told troops in the mess hall that nobody knew. Cut the gossip.

But by 10:30 p.m., Stevens and the other soldiers in the TOC knew. Cooke died before he arrived at the hospital.


The most common misperception is that those affected, like CPT Patti, absolutely will not PCS for 90 days after they get back.

As this one will be forced to move within 90 days...but they can if they want to.
For those who get back in time and are in a hurry to move on to their next assignment, or begin civilian life, Renfroe said they would be allowed to depart as soon as they complete reintegration processing and normal out-processing requirements.

“Soldiers are authorized a minimum of 90 days of stabilization at their current unit after returning from downrange before leaving the Army or any reassignment,” said the U.S. Army Europe’s assignment manager, Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Ramsby.

“If the soldier doesn’t want to stay for the full 90-day period that he is authorized, he can get with the commander to waive that,” said Ramsby.

That 90-day period begins with the return of the unit’s main body.

“Some guys might come back two months before the main body, but that’s not when it starts. The 90-day window begins when the main body returns.”

Renfroe explained there is a misconception among many family members “that their husband or wife will return from Iraq early because they were initially scheduled to PCS in the near future. This is not the case since stop move prevents anyone affected from PCSing.”
A suicide bomber driving a white Toyota pickup truck pulled up to a U.S. checkpoint at the gates of the U.S.-led coalition headquarters Sunday and detonated an estimated 1,000 pounds of explosives, killing at least 23 Iraqis and wounding more than 60 people, according to U.S. military officials.

Military officials said among the wounded were three U.S. soldiers and three American contract workers...

Each morning, Iraqi civilians line up outside the entrance to the Green Zone, headquarters for the Coalition Provisional Authority. Soldiers call the entrance Assassin’s Gate or MOAC — the Mother of All Checkpoints — because of the dangers they face.

The truck was in line to be checked for bombs when the explosives detonated.

Investigators believe the driver was attempting to take the device inside the Green Zone, according to Col. Ralph Baker, commander of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division. Baker’s troops, deployed from Baumholder, Germany, are responsible for security in the area...

The gate is popular for demonstrators and the press, Baker said, adding that a bomb explosion there would gain international attention. He also said the fact that the insurgents could not breach the Green Zone spoke highly of the military’s security.

Attacks against troops had decreased over the past six months, Baker said.

“You’re going to continue to see anomalies like car bombs that occur by what I believe are terrorist forces hoping to discredit the reforms and progress taking place,” Baker said.

But the explosion clearly frustrated soldiers who saw innocent civilians killed.

Staff Sgt. Robert Jones, 37, of Fayetteville, N.C, challenged terrorists to take the fight out of the city.

“Here’s an open invitation,” Jones said. “Let’s take this out in the desert.”


TIKRIT, Iraq – Soldiers from C Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment searched three locations simultaneously, north of Balad before dawn on Jan 17. They were looking for individuals the suspected are responsible for attacks against Coalition forces. Soldiers captured seven individuals and confiscated six AK-47 assault rifles, one bayonet, six AK-47 ammunition magazines, one shotgun and one bolt-action rifle.

C Company, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment patrol saw missile fins sticking out of the ground in Kanan in the afternoon of Jan. 17. The soldiers investigated and uncovered 146 57mm rockets. One person was detained for further questioning. It was later determined this person was not involved with the buried cache but was wanted for his suspected actions in another incident. Initial assessments indicate that the rockets had been buried prior to the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The rockets were taken to a nearby forward operating base and will be destroyed.

Information provided by an Iraqi citizen about a possible cache of mortars led soldiers to a location 1km southeast Jasimiyah in the afternoon of Jan. 17 where they found 269 82mm mortar rounds. The munitions are scheduled for destruction.

An improvised explosive device detonated prematurely in an automobile in downtown Tikrit, at approximately 10:00 p.m. on Jan. 17, killing two individuals and wounding another in the vehicle.

The wounded person was taken to Tikrit Hospital under guard. The three were apparently transporting the IED with intentions of emplacing the device. No Coalition forces or Iraqi civilians were wounded in the incident.

MLK Day. And the 252d day of CPT Patti's Arabian Adventure.

Today's postings are brought to you by the Rapid German Study Foundation - saving you time by letting you know what you don't need to know.

Today's German phrase you don't need to know (this one is for Women aged 18-35 only - shopping at a German clothing store.

Diese Hosen sind zu fest. Gibt es irgendwelche Hosen, die nicht so fest sind?

In English: These pants are too tight. Do you have any that are not so tight?

You don't need to know this phrase because the short answer is "no".

The long answer is "no, no, no, no, no" (Actually, "nein, nein, nein, nein, nein"...but you get my meaning...)

In fact it would appear they sell no pants to women except those that can be applied with a vacuum seal.

Mind you...I'm not complaining...but our mission here is to save you valuable study time.

So don't bother to learn that phrase.

Sunday, January 18, 2004


The 251st day of CPT Patti's most-expense paid trip to Iraq.

Thought for the day...I heard this on the AFN radio Sunday ministry show:

"An atheist's worst moment is that in which, gripped by an overwhelming since of gratitude, he has no one to whom to say thank-you."