IN WHAT IS BEGINNING TO RESEMBLE PILING ON, ANOTHER SOLDIER HAS HIS SAY ABOUT THE MEDIA COVERAGE
We've got something on the order of 135,000 soldiers there. Reckon how many reporters CNN, and the networks have there combined? Can't be more than 50, 75 tops.
Our soldiers are on the ground, every day, in some way interacting with the Iraqi people.
Their reporters tend to stand on top of hotels with pretty views in the backgrounds of their shots.
Who would you believe?
As I head off to Baghdad for the final weeks of my stay in Iraq, I wanted to say thanks to all of you who did not believe the media. They have done a very poor job of covering everything that has happened. I am sorry that I have not been able to visit all of you during my two-week leave back home. And just so you can rest at night knowing something is happening in Iraq that is noteworthy, I thought I would pass this on to you. This is the list of things that has happened in Iraq recently. Please share it with your friends and compare it to the version that your paper/TV is putting out:
* Over 400,000 kids have up-to-date immunizations.
* School attendance is up 80% from levels before the war.
* Over 1,500 schools have been renovated and rid of the weapons stored there so education can occur.
* The port of Um Qasar was renovated so grain can be off-loaded from ships faster.
* The country had its first 2 billion barrel export of oil in August.
* Over 4.5 million people have clean drinking water for the first time ever inIraq.
* The country now receives two times the electrical power it did before the war.
* 100% of the hospitals are open and fully staffed, compared to 35% before the war.
* Elections are taking place in every major city, and city councils are in place.
* Sewer and water lines are installed in every major city.
* Over 60,000 police are patrolling the streets.
* Over 100,000 Iraqi civil defense police are securing the country.
* Over 80,000 Iraqi soldiers are patrolling the streets side by side with US soldiers.
* Over 400,000 people have telephones for the first time ever
* Students are taught field sanitation and hand-washing techniques to prevent the spread of germs.
* An interim constitution has been signed.
* Girls are allowed to attend school.
* Textbooks that don't mention Saddam are in the schools for the first time in 30 years.
Don't believe for one second that these people do not want us there. I have met many, many people from Iraq that want us there, and in a bad way. They say they will never see the freedoms we talk about, but they hope their children will. We are doing a good job in Iraq and I challenge anyone, anywhere to dispute me on these facts.
So if you happen to run into John Kerry, be sure to give him my email address and send him to Denison, Iowa. This soldier will set him straight. If you are like me--very disgusted with how this period of rebuilding has been portrayed--e-mail this to a friend and let them know there are good things happening.
Ray Reynolds, SFC
Iowa Army National Guard
234th Signal Battalion
"YOU GUYS CARRY GUNS, WE CARRY SOAP"
CPT Patti, and many other soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st AD are now located at Camp Victory North.
And now...so is a pretty good PX. Good for 'em.
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service opened the doors to their new 30,000-square-foot Post Exchange (PX) late last week in the Division Life Support Area of Camp Victory North.
According to David Schloss, the AAFES general manager for the Baghdad area, plans are underway to develop a diverse food court. Right now, Burger King is the only confirmed food concession for the PX, but other restaurant chains are awaiting approval...
The store at the Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) that closes this Friday has 7,000 square feet of selling space. The new PX is more than four times that size. The building's dimensions also include storage areas and offices, according to Jonathan Tokar, the general manager for all AAFES operations in Iraq.
Other concessions that tend to be around a PX won't be encased within the 30,000 square-feet of the building, AAFES officials noted. Concession shops such as barber, beauty, sewing and alterations, food concessions, and gift shops will be outside the structure.
An array of local venders will also be found outside the new PX. The current plan is for all the venders at BIAP to move to North Victory, Schloss said.
AND IT ISN'T BECAUSE THE TERRORISTS HAVE ALL SUDDENLY FOUND JESUS
There were 190 acts of international terrorism in 2003, a slight decrease from the 198 attacks that occurred in 2002, and a drop of 45 percent from the level in 2001 of 346 attacks.
The figure in 2003 represents the lowest annual total of international terrorist attacks since 1969.
SATURDAY, MAY 1st
Day 356 of CPT Patti's deployment.
YOU NEED 15 MINUTES OF QUIET AND A BOX OF KLEENEX
Because this REQUIRES your attention.
And out of respect for him, and for others like him, his will be the last posting of the day.
Sarah finds a great read. Read it here...well worth your time.
ITS GOOD TO HAVE FRIENDS
A London academic who risked his life to save military colleagues in Iraq has become the first foreign civilian to be given a US medal for bravery.
Dr Andrew Rathmell, 37, repeatedly ran into the line of fire to treat injured soldiers during a mortar and rocket attack while visiting a base north of Baghdad in January.
He was knocked over and temporarily deafened by the assault, which killed two US soldiers.
Another Army Surgeon gains some.
In addition to service members, the doctors treated Iraqi prisoners and civilians, some of whom had chronic conditions that had been left untreated for years.
"That was a very rewarding part of being over there, to provide some of the medical care to the civilians," he said.
Since returning in February, Matsumoto said he has gained new perspective on the trials of non-combat life, such as waiting in lines or getting stuck in traffic.
"I'm sitting in traffic and I'm like, 'Hey this is great,' " he said.
A CASE STUDY
Why on earth should it take 59 years to erect a monument to "The Greatest Generation" and their contributions to freedom?
Certainly, I believe, it takes a while for the import of such an undertaking to transform from "event" to "historical watershed" in the minds of nations. And no doubt immediately after WWII there was war fatigue that couldn't abide further reflection on the war to dampen the national celebration of its end.
But there is more to the story.
A handful of folks who do not come from The America I Live In blocked this monument citing EPA regulations and architectural style objections at a time when the Veterans of this war were dying at a rate of 1100 per day.
Finally a resolute congressman stepped forward and did what, undoubtedly, an overwhelming majority of Americans felt was the right thing to do.
As a result, The Greatest Generation has its memorial. As it should be, but would not be if we continued to allow a minority to dissuade us from doing that which is right.
Led by the National Coalition to Save Our Mall, foes of the project objected that it marred the open sweep of the Mall and intruded on the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial.
They also complained that the National Park Service violated federal laws and regulations by pushing through the project without undertaking the proper environmental impact studies.
Others complained that architect Friedrich St. Florian's original design was too massive and resembled the neoclassical Fascist style used by German architect Albert Speer for Nazi monuments and buildings.
Numerous lawsuits were filed to block the World War II project, but none succeeded. Some 22 public hearings were held, many marked by angry debate.
Finally, in 2001, in 2001, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, a World War II veteran, introduced legislation that virtually exempted the memorial project from any law, federal regulation or judicial review. It was approved overwhelmingly.
"We want to be there when this memorial is opened," Stevens said.
"WE DON'T WANT TO HURT ANYONE WHO DOESN'T DESERVE TO BE HURT"
Just before 10:30 a.m. Thursday, 1st Lt. Nicholas Bradley crouched next to an Iraqi boy, telling him he’s going to live. The boy, about 12, was bleeding from shrapnel wounds in his back, near his spinal column, and his arm.
The boy couldn’t move his legs, couldn’t feel anything as Bradley probed his feet. But the platoon leader kept talking to him soothingly as medical help arrived. Bradley held the boy’s hand while repeating, “Hey, buddy. You’re good. You’re gonna be all right,” sounding like he believed it, too.
It wasn’t supposed to go like this...
Rolling through the Al Khadrah neighborhood just outside the Blackjack’s gates, Bradley, a 27-year-old from Salt Lake City spotted the fresh pile of dirt on the side of the road.
“The trash starts to look familiar, believe it or not,” Bradley said of the second nature scanning skills many soldiers learn.
So, his platoon pulled over to deal with a roadside bomb. With the area secure, bomb explosives soldiers from the 752nd Ordnance Company out of Fort Sill, Okla., arrived and prepared to detonate the bomb’s 155 mm artillery shell.
As they worked, locals gathered. Between turns at trying to unsnarl traffic, Bradley and his team — Sgt. Jeremy Lewis and Spc. Timothy Heim — talked about how this fit a recent pattern of attacks in which insurgents wait until bomb disposal teams arrive, then attack with mortars.
Seconds later, their fears came true.
Three mortar rounds landed only about 50 feet from their up-armored Humvee.
Miraculously, no soldiers were injured. But two small Iraqi boys lay dead. A third, older boy tried to drag himself to safety.
Bradley, Heim, Lewis and the rest of the soldiers somehow stayed almost supernaturally calm. Although they expected rocket-propelled grenades to follow the mortars, they rushed to check the bodies of the children, and to drag the wounded boy to safety.
“God, that’s horrible,” Bradley said quietly after the situation stabilized...
Despite their outward nonchalance, Bradley, Heim and Lewis would like more than anything to fight the enemy straight up.
“We don’t want to hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve to be hurt,” Bradley says.
Insurgents lobbing mortars into a crowded neighborhood “shows they don’t care,” he says. “IEDs, RPGs and mortars guarantee civilian casualties,” he adds.
“If they really cared, they would wait till we were in an open field, and say, ‘Let’s do it.’ But they’re terrorists.”...
Thursday was an especially bad day around Baghdad. But on the positive side, they found and destroyed two roadside bombs.
“If there’s any good that came out of it,” Bradley says, “that’s two IEDs that won’t blow up convoys and kill soldiers.”
In the process, they somehow held onto their humanity and to their morale.
A BAD DAY
I don't know to which units these soldiers belonged. However, I can tell you they were not from the 1st Brigade. That is all I know at this point.
Eight soldiers from a Germany-based 1st Armored Division unit were killed Thursday when a car bomb exploded as the soldiers cleared a road of explosives south of Baghdad, military officials said.
The bombing that killed the eight 1st AD soldiers happened at 11:30 a.m. near the town of Mahmoudiyah, where the team was removing roadside bombs from a key highway south of the capital, officials said in a statement. A driver in a station wagon neared the team then ?detonated an explosive device,? killing eight soldiers and wounding four, the statement said.
THE CARE WE TAKE...THE RESPECT WE DON'T SEEM TO GET
My thanks to John for these links.
Referring back to Secretary Rumsfeld's remarks on Wednesday referring to the LA Times prejudicial headline.
According to BG Kimmet
Kimmitt said the Marines called in the strike only after taking fire from the minaret the second time that day and realizing that their return fire was not enough to take out the enemy. This, he said, left the Marines with a choice:
And now, I want you to see for yourself the before and after pictures of that mosque. Go look here now.
"Am I going to let my fellow Marines die, or am I going to recognize that that minaret has lost its protected status under international law and is being used as a firing platform and needs to go away?"
The Marines "made the right choice," Kimmitt said, by calling in precision strikes that toppled the minaret but inflicted "a minimal amount of collateral damage ... to any other part of that mosque."
And ask yourself...did you read this story and see these photos in your newspaper or on your TV news show?
FRIDAY, APRIL 30th.
This is day 355 of CPT Patti's deployment.
CUT ON THE BIAS
Heard from Bran at Blog-Irish (my boys! Alright!) who points out that the LA Times headline "Mosques Targeted in Fallujah" is not the first misleading inflammatory headline by the Times.
The Los Angeles Times headline Mosques Targeted in Fallujah to which Donald Rumsfeld called attention was nothing compared to the April 8, 2004 LA Times headline U.S. bombs Mosque in Fallouja - in view of the fact that in paragraph 15 we learn that what was bombed was a "perimeter wall". Bran sorts it all out in great detail. Start here to go read it all.
A GOOD NEWS STORY - ACTS OF KINDNESS
Mark Romanych, a retired Army Major who served in the Balkans and Baghdad told me that U.S. soldiers were unique in that way. He said that in the Balkans people were glad when U.S. soldiers showed up in their neighborhood for U.S. soldiers gave things away while others took things. I do not know about other soldiers, but I do know that your soldiers in Iraq commit many acts of kindness and generosity. And in so doing, they may yet change the face of Iraq.
Received a note from Toni, a longtime reader of CPT Patti's site, and her observations on one difference between Americans and non-Americans.
In part, here is what she says.
What I noticed was that people from other countries don't ever have anything which indicates a nationalistic spirit. Here I am with a flag lapel pin, probably a t-shirt or cap with some sort of flag or troop support on it and I'm not unusual. At least in the South.
I too have noticed it is generally true that Americans seem to display symbols to demonstrate a patriotic spirit while others I've encountered don't.
I even had a tour guide at the Jack Daniels Distillery compliment me on my tshirt. I chuckled at that one and there were 6 guys from Germany on that tour and not ONE had anything to indicate their country of origin on their being. I just found it interesting and once noticed I made a point of looking for it with non-Americans.
Pretty consistent if you ask me. For people who seem to think we Americans are such cretins it's amazing how they like to visit here.
On any particular day, be it the 4th of July, or not, how many Stars & Stripes might you see around your neighborhood or on your drive to work. My experience in the USA is mostly in the South (as is Toni's) and I can tell you down there you will ride past plenty. Several in the residential areas, plus quite a few at churchs or businesses. Auto dealers, I've found, seem to love having the tallest flag pole with the largest flag on it.
I drive 26 miles one way to work here in the German state of Hessen. I do not pass a single German flag on display.
I don't know if there are laws against it...as Sarah recently pointed out, they have laws about everything here including what you can name your baby. But I doubt there is a law...because one will see enthusiastic displays of the German flag during international soccer matches when it is Germany against somebody else.
(Interestingly, during that same drive to work I pass no less than 3 rainbow flags overprinted with the word PACE ("Peace") on them.)
But I've yet to see a German flag displayed at a private home, nor at a business, nor attached to the car antenna or as a window decal.
Now, I'll grant you that Americans invented the T-shirt culture and nobody else lives it like we do (some, doubtless, prefer it that way.) So...one can't actually say that lack of display of patriotic symbols indicates a lack of pride...for it might only indicate a lack of inclination to display symbols at all.
On the other hand (I enjoy arguing with myself) I note the British and the Irish are pretty darn happy to display national and cultural symbols. In fact, it seems most of the Anglosphere are so inclined. And the Italians love plastering their green, white and red tricolor over their major explorts (pizza and Italian ice.) So...there isn't a total European aversion to patriotic symbol display.
What about you...have you also witnessed that which Toni observes? How do you account for it? Are we just more patriotic?
VIEW THROUGH A SURGEON'S EYES
One might imagine a US Army surgeon might see the worst of it all come through his ward.
Here is one who writes home.
This is a note from our cardio thoracic surgeon friend who was in practice with Win. He volunteered at the age of 56 to enlist in the service. The Army took him and has him stationed at a hospital in the middle of Baghdad... (Tim's note: Surgeons don't "enlist", strictly speaking...they are commissioned as officers.)
Apr 20, 2004, at 9:33 AM, Charles Edwards wrote:
Everybody: thank you once again for keeping me in your sights. I thrive on the messages and appreciate each one.
The pace has slowed dramatically and the number of American casualties has fallen. I spent the afternoon operating on a prisoner at the Iraqi prison who was mortared by his own terrorist friends separating him from his leg and a large chunk of his shoulder. Caring for these terrorists is the biggest challenge I have.
We have been told that all of us will be extended until further notice. I was scheduled to leave Iraq on May 11 but that may not happen at this point.
I know that the news is bad from here but it is exaggerated and the troops I see are in good spirits. The majority of the Iraqi people want what we have and unfortunately there is a group that has been displaced and they don't like it. The next two to three weeks will be decisive here and hopefully things will calm down.
The judicial courts are all open, the electricity is flowing at greater than prewar levels, the children are going back to school and the Iraqi police and Army are getting stronger. It will not all be a happy progression and it really is up to the Iraqi people to confront the evils in their society. I worry that the core values needed to govern fairly and wisely have never existed here and to develop a sense of justice at this late hour is a tall order.
I will close with one last thought. There is one lasting impression in every Arab nation, every Arab leader and citizen and it has nothing to do with negotiations, cease fires, weapons of mass destruction, etc. It is the indelible image of the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq and that unbelievable firepower that did in 28 days what the Russians could not do in 12 years and what annihilated the Iraqis on their home soil in a month.
This will endure and prove to spare American lives in the future at home and abroad.
Keep the faith.
I'm hoping my father-in-law, Pastor Paul sees this. He was a soldier before he became a minister. Had the two coincided, he'd have been a heckuva Chaplain.
Sitting on the ramp of a military vehicle on the lawn of Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace, Lance Cpl. Jeff Guthrie’s eyes welled with tears that streamed down his muddy face.
He had just stormed the gates of the palace in a gruesome fight with his fellow Marines and claimed victory.
Lt. Carey Cash, a chaplain with his battalion, saw Guthrie’s distraught face and walked up to him.
Cash, in a new book, “A Table in the Presence” released April 7, takes his readers onto the hot, dusty, Iraq battlefield to learn how God worked miracles and answered prayers in individual lives of Marines like Guthrie.
“Sitting down on the grass in front of him, I asked what was wrong,” Cash writes in the book, recalling a few life-changing moments spent with Guthrie.
“‘Sir ... I’m, I’m just so sorry,’ he said, tears welling up in his tired eyes.
“‘Sorry for what, Guthrie?’ I had no idea what he was talking about.
“‘It’s just what I’ve done in my life. All I can think about is that I’ve just been through the worst experience of my life, and yet, God protected me through it all. But why did He do it? How could He do it after all the things—the bad things—I’ve done? I don’t know what else to say, what else to feel. I’m just so sorry.’
Surrounded by 20 Marines, Cash, 33, led the young soldier to Christ.
The next day, April 13, 2003, Cash baptized Guthrie in the palace.
Cash wrote, “... I baptized Jeff Guthrie, a new creation, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. As the waters of baptism poured over his head and onto the marble floors of the palace, the symbolism wasn’t lost on anyone... A place that had been known for the presence of darkness and treachery had become a place of the presence of God—a table in the presence.”
Before his tour was over, Cash had the privilege of baptizing 59 men in his battalion.
“I watched God use that environment to behold His Son,” Cash told Baptist Press. “It was awesome.”
YOU KNOW WHAT, SYRIA...ONE DAY THIS IRAQ THING WILL BE OVER
And from your record over the last year, I'm thinking there is a lot of reckoning in your future.
Syrian President Bashar Assad described armed attacks against U.S.-led troops in neighboring Iraq as legitimate "resistance" against foreign occupation.
His remarks, aired Wednesday on the Qatar-based pan-Arab al-Jazeera satellite station, are likely to strain already tense U.S.-Syrian relations.
WELL THIS IS KIND OF A COOL IDEA
Presuming it doesn't get hijacked by those with an agenda. And with the inclusion of Victor Davis Hanson...we can be assured the conservative view has an outlet.
"Operation Homecoming" will make some of this country's most prominent authors available to servicemen and -women, for workshops and lectures intended to help them express and record what they've seen and felt in combat.
Well, yes, so they are. But there have been oh, a hundred thousand soldiers or so who have already returned from this war. And the local press seems to be able to find those with voices fairly well.
The program is part oral history project, part literary talent search, and part a writing-as-therapy program for troops, particularly those in Iraq, who have been under extraordinary stress in America's first protracted war since Vietnam.
The 16 writers who agreed to participate by visiting military bases include Tobias Wolff, Tom Clancy, Victor Davis Hanson and McKay Jenkins. Ten other writers, including Shelby Foote and Richard Wilbur, have contributed reminiscences and readings to a compact disc and Web site the Endowment has produced.
The NEA project will add to extensive oral history projects supported by the military, and to a Library of Congress initiative to collect material, including journals and letters, from veterans of the two world wars, and the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars. "Operation Homecoming," which will anthologize the best of the material it collects, is focused on soldiers fresh from the ongoing conflict.
"These are not voices we would easily hear, otherwise," NEA chairman Dana Gioia says. They haven't been heard for a number of reasons, most important of which is that America's military men and women are preoccupied with fighting.
So, I'm not buying all the way into Ms. Gioia's explanation.
A home grown opposition to al Sadr's thug army.
Could be good...but it also could be bad. I'm not sure having a half dozen independent "armies" running around Iraq is the path toward peace and democracy.
Still, it may represent a grass roots movement to recover their city from the hands of this maniac.
FOR the past month they have been the rude young pretenders, a rag-tag slum army ruffling the quiet dignity of Iraq’s holiest city.
For every day that the United States army fails to act on its threat to crush them, the Shiite militiamen of the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have grown in confidence in their stronghold in Najaf.
Now, however, a shadowy resistance movement within might be about to succeed where the 2,500 US marines outside the city have failed.
In a deadly expression of feelings that until now were kept quiet, a group representing local residents is said to have killed at least five militiamen in the last four days.
The murders are the first sign of organised Iraqi opposition to Sadr’s presence and come amid simmering discontent at the havoc their lawless presence has wreaked.
The group calls itself the Thulfiqar Army, after a twin-bladed sword said to be used by the Shiite martyr Imam Ali, to whom Najaf’s vast central mosque is dedicated.
Residents say leaflets bearing that name have been circulated in the city in the last week, urging Sadr’s al-Mahdi army to leave immediately or face imminent death.
"I haven’t seen the leaflets myself, but I heard about it when I was down there two days ago," said Ahmed Abbas, a carpenter from Najaf who visited Baghdad yesterday.
"It has got some of the Mahdi guys quite worried, I tell you. They are banding together more, when normally you would see them happily walking on the streets alone. I think their commanders have ordered them to do that."
As is the case with most fledgling resistance groups, further details are sketchy. Nobody knows yet who is really behind the group, if the deaths of Mahdi men are its handiwork or, indeed, if it really exists.
Madeline Belarde is packing her footlocker with the essentials: family photos, a Bible, her father’s military flag and a bottle of Miss Clairol.
The 51-year-old Pueblo West grandmother is headed to Iraq for a year.
She leaves Colorado on Monday with her younger comrades in the 1835th Medical Detachment Combat Stress Control Unit.
She’ll trade in her sensible nursing shoes for combat boots to provide mental health services to troops...
“Clinically, as a psychiatric nurse, I am ready,” she said. “Militarily, I am getting ‘trained up,’ as they say. When I have a meltdown, I might cry a little while, but I am able to pull myself together. My brother-in-law always told me to enjoy the journey, whatever the journey is. So that is going to be my motto.”
And, she added, “I am going to get buffed.”...
“If anyone can do it, she can do it,” said her daughter, Julie Aragon.
This is, after all, the Nana who tries to get family members to jog with her at 5 a.m.
Usually she doesn’t have any takers, but this weekend she will.
The Marines in Iraq soon will get a new high-tech flying drone to help them spot potential threats in the volatile city of Fallujah, thanks to some quick work by the Navy's top innovators.
The Navy has purchased four small unmanned spy planes and is sending them directly to the Marines, a senior Navy official said. The new unmanned aircraft should be ready for use in Iraq by mid-May, the official said.
"This is going to change the way the Marines do things," the official said, speaking on background.
The new unmanned aerial vehicle, called Silver Fox, is about 6 feet long, with 8-foot wings and weighs 20 pounds, the Navy said. Powered by a large model airplane engine, it can be launched by a portable compressed air catapult.
Flying at its usual operating altitude of 1,000 feet, Silver Fox would be virtually invisible to an enemy. But its state-of-the-art camera and small transmitter can relay high-resolution images of objects on the ground to a Marine using a laptop computer. It can stay in the air for several hours, the Navy said, guided by global positioning satellite signals or by an operator on the ground.
STUPID STATE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES...DON'T THEY KNOW ITS A QUAGMIRE?
Americans are getting killed and kidnapped in Iraq, but at least one select group of U.S. citizens can't wait to start living there.
More than 200 of the State Department's Foreign Service diplomats applied for some 150 openings at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, which is expected to open July 1 upon transfer of power to a new Iraqi government, department officials said.
But the applicant total doesn't tell the whole story. Interest in Iraq was so high that many job seekers took advantage of a rule permitting them to apply for more than one opening. They flooded the department with more than 1,000 bids in all, said Louise Crane, acting president of the American Foreign Service Association, the Washington-based professional group for the State Department's overseas employees.
A Pentagon intelligence report says many bombings against Americans and their allies in Iraq, and the more sophisticated of the guerrilla attacks in Fallujah, are organized and carried out by members of Saddam Hussein's secret service, who planned for the insurgency even before the fall of Baghdad.
The report says officers of Saddam's Special Operations and Anti-terrorism Branch, known as M-14, are responsible for planning roadside explosives and some of the larger car bombs that have sown chaos across Iraq.
In addition, suicide bombers have worn explosives-laden vests made before the war under the direction of M-14 officers, according to the report, prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Its findings were based on interrogations of high-ranking M-14 members who are in U.S. custody, as well as on documents found by the Iraq Survey Group...
"They carefully laid plans to occupy the occupiers," said a U.S. official who has read the report. "They were prepared to try and hijack the country. The goal was to complicate the stabilization mission, and democratization."
PREPARE FOR THE BACKLASH
But please note that this is not a new story...you read about it here months ago. And the Army has already begun proceedings against these soldiers.
The only thing new here is the CBS got hold of some photos.
Six Army reservists shown in graphic photos mistreating and humiliating Iraqi prisoners at a sprawling prison west of Baghdad are assigned to the 372nd Military Police Company based in Cumberland, family members and officials said last night.
In a story that aired last night, CBS's 60 Minutes II aired a series of pictures showing naked Iraqi prisoners who were forced to huddle in a pyramid or simulate sex acts with other prisoners. The pictures showed laughing male and female U.S. soldiers, some giving the thumbs-up sign, and a few were recognized by their Western Maryland neighbors...
The six reservists could be court-martialed. The New York Times says three of the six reported last month to be facing preliminary charges have been recommended for court-martial trials. According to the newspaper, a senior Pentagon official said late last night that the three have finished the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding.
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a military spokesman in Iraq, told 60 Minutes II that he was "appalled" by the conduct displayed in the photos.
"These are our fellow soldiers," he said. "These are the people we work with every day, and they represent us. They wear the same uniform as us, and they let their fellow soldiers down."
AN AIR FORCE NCO SPEAKS PLAINLY
Please go read this story...especially the sections titled "Working in the JOC" and "Life and Death On the Front Lines"
Let me be redundant...our service men and women are just good people.
When that NCO expressed his fears that nothing we're doing in Iraq matters, I held my tongue. For the most part, I live by the credo "every person has the right to his or her own opinion." However, looking back on it, I wish I would've told him, "it does matter." At least, it matters to me. I know it sounds schmaltzy, but I'm grateful my forefathers stood up so I could enjoy my freedom. I don't like the thought of serving in a far away land any more than the next guy. But if a price must be paid, so be it. No one's children should have to grow up in a world full of thugs and extremists who terrorize innocent people.
LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO SEND THE SOLDIERS BESIDES GATORADE?
This will help. And anyone can buy them.
Now anyone can help troops deployed overseas call home.
Any individual or organization may buy prepaid calling cards for deployed servicemembers through any of the three Armed Services Exchange Web sites: the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Navy Exchange Service Command and Marine Corps Exchange.
The Defense Department recently allowed the exchanges to sell AT&T’s military exchange 550-unit global prepaid calling cards to customers not otherwise authorized to make purchases through the exchanges’ online stores, the agency announced in a news release this week.
The “Help Our Troops Call Home” program is designed to help servicemembers call home while serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
GOOD FOR SOME FAMILIES...AND THANKS TO THE LEADERSHIP
Army families whose soldiers were recently extended for another four months in Iraq will be allowed to move back to the United States without the servicemember, according to a new Army policy issued Tuesday.
According to the policy, any family that was originally scheduled to rotate back to the United States between May 1 and Sept. 31, but whose soldier’s tour in Iraq has been delayed, is authorized to return before the servicemember comes back from deployment.
Army officials said the new policy is specifically designed to ease the burden on families of the Germany-based 1st Armored Division, which makes up the bulk of the 14,250 active-duty soldiers whose Iraq tours were officially extended by Pentagon officials on April 19...
During a town hall meeting in Baumholder, Germany, last Friday, 1st AD spouses told Gen. B.B. Bell, commander of Army forces in Europe, that the extension will force many children to miss the start of classes in their new U.S.-based schools.
Bell promised that families in this position would be allowed to make the move back to the United States before their husbands redeployed.
“We’re just going to make that happen,” Bell said.
The new policy “is something that USAREUR [U.S. Army Europe] requested,” acknowledged Lt. Col. Stan Heath, an Army personnel spokesman in Washington.
“It’s never been done before, to my knowledge,” Heath said. “But we have families with school-age children, and we want to give them full latitude in their decisions” about whether or not to come back to the United States in advance of their soldier’s return.
I'D RATHER HAVE THE HUGS AND KISSES
But if I can't...well, we won't refuse this.
About 20,000 Soldiers who have been involuntarily extended beyond their expected 12 months of duty in Iraq or Kuwait will be eligible for extra pay of $1,000 a month.
The incentive package includes an additional $200 in hardship duty pay (above the $100 already being received) and $800 monthly in Assignment Incentive Pay, or AIP. This pay will be available to Soldiers in 42 units required to stay in theater past their expected rotation date due to operational needs, officials said.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced the unit extensions April 15, saying the period would be for up to 90 days in Iraq plus another possible 30 days in theater before redeploying home.
The extra pay will only be available once a Soldier exceeds 365 consecutive days in the Central Command theater. That?s 12 consecutive months or 365 days out of a 15-month period, explained Lt. Col. Gerald Barrett, chief of Compensation and Entitlements, G1.
?This is the Department of the Army?s way of providing for Soldiers in the identified units who were promised that they were leaving at a certain time, but because of operational requirements, they were required to stay longer,? Barrett said earlier this year when the incentive-pay program actually began.
THURSDAY, APRIL 29th.
This is day 354 of my darling wife's deployment.
I'm really late getting started on the blog today because CPT Patti called this morning!
She sounds absolutely fantastic. She is enjoying her new job...says their new location (Camp Victory North, near Baghdad International Airport) is wonderful.
For the first time in a year she has her own room, in an air conditioned trailer...some privacy at last!! She says it isn't 5-star accommodations, but she'll give them 3 1/2.
The food in this camp is actually better than in the previous location...which was already good. She says she has to discipline herself not to eat everything they give her. "It's funny", she says "I go through the chow line...I smile at the contract employees on the line, and next thing I know I've got these HUGE portions on my plate".
Go check out that smile on her photo...wouldn't you respond that way? Of course, asking CPT Patti not to smile is like asking a duck not to swim. Ain't gonna happen.
So...I'm fully recharged...listening to the sparkle in her voice I know her spirit is intact...and mine has been rejuvenated.
My thanks to Sarah for this link outlining the insidious methods used to slant media stories.
Some journalists might simply say:
I've been trying to describe these with this simplicity...but I can't do better than the link.
"George W. Bush is a dangerous idiot, who only thinks in black and white."...
It is somewhat more satisfying to create the impression of an avalanche or at least the beginning of an avalanche:
"More and more people call George W. Bush a dangerous idiot, who only thinks in black and white." (Tim's note: CNN uses this all the time...they seem to prefer "Some" as in "The Predidents approval rating is up again this week. However some feel he is a dangerous...")
That's ok for a plain vanilla biased article...Still, if the avalanche concept is used too often in reporting - and it is used excessively in the German media - it's becoming stale, boring, unconvincing...
So for a stronger effect German journalists look for quotes from real people, for instance experts. Like this one:
(Fill in name) calls George W. Bush a dangerous idiot, who only thinks in black and white." (Tim's note: e.g. Bob Woodward)
"Experts" who would testify against Bush any time, whether day or night, are in rich supply, and therefore they come cheap...
Of highest value for the German media are experts with close ties to the Bush administration who are willing to testify against Bush. It doesn't matter if they still have close ties - it is sufficient they have had a working relationship. In this case the reporting would look like this:
"Even (Fill in name), former (please choose one: CIA agent / FBI agent / member of a Pentagon think tank / etc.), calls George W. Bush a dangerous idiot, who only thinks in black and white." (Tim's note: e.g. Richard Clark, fired former staffer and book author.)
That's great. A former Bush employee supports your prejudices - nothing better could happen to you! This lifts up your article from the stinking pits of biased reporting to the high-brow level of neutrality.
The other aspect to spin not covered in the link is the words that indicate "concession of the truth", when in fact the only struggle involved is in the mind of the reporter.
One very popular word used in this approach is "admitted". Interestingly when I searched the news for the words "Rumsfeld admitted" look at the news outlets that came back as four of the first five in my search.
1. "Working for a Change" (Very Left, very anti Bush website)
2. "Dissident Voice" (Hint...anytime a website has "dissident" or "Alternative" in its title it leans way left)
3. "Muslim American Society" (Hint - compares Bush to the al Qaeda leaders)
5. "al Jazeerah" ('Nuff said).
These sites help prove the point, but you will see this approach on the network news outlets, CNN and the so-called main stream press. Here is such a statement in action from the Houston Chronicle.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld admitted Thursday that he has been surprised by the heavy toll in blood inflicted on American forces in recent days. Without the bias (that is...if the reporter didn't see the whole thing as a struggle to force Rumsfeld to say something he'd rather hide) the statement might easily read "Rumsfeld said Thursday he has been suprised..."
But the press won't say it that way usually...because "said" doesn't carry with it the "A-Ha!" factor, the "Gotcha" factor that "admitted" does. One can almost imagine the press conference in which the reporter jumps to his feet (like a harried prosecutor in an old Perry Mason show) and shouts "A-Ha!...So you ADMIT that you were surprised..."
I'd be interested in your stories of spin and attempted spin. Perhaps we can share them with Ranting Profs .
Meanwhile, count the number of times the media attempt to spin you today.
Here in 1st Brigade land we attend memorial services, walk by the flag at half-staff for weeks on end and steel ourselves everytime the phone or doorbell rings.
These folks...they react that way to the comics.
For the first time in his comic-strip existence, B.D., one of the original characters of the Doonesbury strip, appeared last Wednesday without his trademark helmet.
And without his left leg.
The former college quarterback was sent to Iraq by his creator, Garry Trudeau, then left unconscious from the blast of an apparent roadside bomb. The fictional B.D. joins more than 3,630 real soldiers who have been wounded in Iraq, according to the Pentagon...
Last Wednesday, the sight of B.D. maimed, minus his ever-present helmet (college football, Army, Rams third stringer, highway patrolman, Army again, football coach, etc.), left e-mailers to the Doonesbury Web site "breathless," "crying," and feeling "like it happened to a friend." A former combat medic in Vietnam pleaded, "Bring B.D. home alive."
Another fan wrote that the strip "puts a finger of reality on the cold news of today, and contrasts starkly with the blather from the White House."
WE AREN'T IMAGINING THE BIAS...WE ARE HIGHLIGHTING IT
Note the stinging pointed barb aimed squarely at the Los Angeles Times by Secretary Rumsfeld yesterday.
There are two ways, I suppose, one could inform readers of the Geneva Convention stipulation against using places of worship to conduct military attacks.
Well done, Sir.
One might be to headline saying that Terrorists Attack Coalition Forces From Mosques. That would be one way to present the information.
Another might be to say: Mosques Targeted in Fallujah. That was the Los Angeles Times headline this morning.
More of us need to be calling them on the carpet.
OUR HUMAN ARMY
She remembered that the first night, she rescued her unit from small rats and large spiders because she wanted to show off.
Zdunowski, who is 5-foot-4 with long brown hair, pink fingernails and a large diamond ring, said she had to beat up a few military men who would not leave her alone.
At one point, Zdunowski traveled to Baghdad to receive training on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
The briefing was held in Hussein’s palace.
“It was beautiful,” Zdunowski said. “There was a chandelier the size of my house, and it was all marble.”
While she got to see her husband for a day, it wasn’t until Christmas that she spent considerable time with him.
Both their units arranged a break for them so they could share the holiday together.
“We were walking down the streets of Baghdad holding hands and bombs and gun shots were going off. But we were in our own world,” Zdunowski said.
Although she was in the heart of the war, the reality of the situation didn’t hit Zdunowski until her husband called one day and said a friend had been killed in a car bombing.
“That’s when it became real to me,” Zdunowski said. “Real human beings were dying. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, that was the 500th. That sucks.’”
After hearing the news, she had to tell a colleague that his best friend had been killed.
“He didn’t believe me,” Zdunowski said. “He is the toughest guy I know and he cried like a baby.”
STRYKER...SHRUGGING 'EM OFF
The midday explosion engulfed the vehicle in a cloud of smoke and dust, knocking two soldiers from their perch and rattling those inside the armored cocoon.
But like a scene out of an action movie, the cloud parts to show vehicle and occupants unscathed and ready for retribution. Although a car is seen fleeing the area, the squad opts to report the incident and press on, as if nothing happened, though clearly something had: further validation of a new Army vehicle named Stryker.
“This is what it was designed for from the get-go,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ciaran Allison, a platoon sergeant with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment.
Sarah told me her husband was one who had to leave his tanks behind...and he's really eager to receive them now that this decision has been made.
Responding to a request by field commanders, military leaders are increasing the delivery of armored vehicles to Iraq because deadly roadside bombings have not diminished as expected.
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday that a request for more heavy armored vehicles — Abrams M1A1 tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles — has been made by commanders in Iraq. The Pentagon is considering sending more tanks and is accelerating production of armored Humvee utility vehicles.
BUT THEY ARE JUST A MOB...HOW CAN THEY FIGHT OUR MARINES?
It occurred to me last night that some readers who have little in the way of formal military studies in their backgrounds might just ask the question above.
So today we'll speak briefly on why the mob can fight the Marines and, more importantly, why the Marines haven't just crushed the mob already.
It is obvious that all warfare is not the same. We witnessed the remarkable achievements of the 3rd ID and the 1st MEF during the ground war phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). It is generally conceded around the world that the United States has the most talented and effective fighting force on Earth for the conduct of all out warfare.
But there are levels of warfare that fall below the standard of all out war. The Pentagon defines these levels in a chart you can view here. By my assessment the situation we face in such locations as Fallujah and Najaf fall within the SSC (Smaller Scale Contingency) band...a band you will note that spans the spectrum from war to military operations other than war.
Perhaps you've heard someone ask "why don't we just bomb them back into the stone age and be done with it?". Intuitively you have known that such overblown action would not support the political goals we are trying to achieve. (Military History 101: Every cadet learns this quote first...now you can too: War is merely the continuation of politics by other means" - Carl von Clausewitz) Despite the average "dove's" belief (and Hollywood's portrayal of the military...doubtless where many receive their "education" as to the nature of US Soldiers), the US Military does not trade in wanton destruction and indiscriminantly targeted weaponry. Certainly we could subdue Fallujah in short order with heavy handed tactics...but that would do little to liberate the majority of peace minded civilians living there.
And so we find ourselves engaged in a fight that takes longer than we would like, draws more news footage than it probably deserves vis a vis its strategic importance, and possible makes the US military look ineffective in the eyes of those who do not have an appreciation for the complexities of warfare including the restraint exercised by our warriors.
Not surprisingly the military has a name for the type warfare happening in Fallujah today. It is called Assymetric Warfare.
Asymmetric warfare describes warfare in which the two belligerents are so mismatched in their military capabilities or accustomed methods of engagement that the militarily diasadvantaged power must press its special advantages or effectively exploit its enemy's particular weaknesses if they are to have any hope of prevailing.Assymetric warfare is often explained as David vs. Goliath. Certainly in a toe to toe sword battle, Goliath would have won. So David attacked from a distance, using the unconventional tactic of a slingshot (a standoff weapon) rather than the sword (a close-engagement weapon). In so doing he was able to defeat Goliath. (Of course, one wonders what might have happened to David had he not been keenly accurate with his slingshot in the first place. Point? Tactics are one thing...but competence in those tactics contribute greatly to the outcome.)
The reference goes on to point out a key element of assymetric warfare.
If the inferior power is in a position of self-defense; i.e., under attack or occupation, it may be possible to use unconventional tactics, such as hit-and-run and selective battles where the superior power is weaker, as an effective means of harassment without violating the Laws of war...
Obviously with the insurgents in Iraq hiding behind civilians and using mosques for weapons storage sites as well as sniper locations, they have disregarded any thought of the Law of Land Warfare as established by the Geneva Convention.
If the inferior power is in an aggressive position, however, and/or turns to tactics prohibited by the laws of war ... its success depends on the superior power's refraining from like tactics.
For example, the Law of land warfare prohibits the use of using a flag of truce or clearly marked medical vehicles as cover for an attack or ambush, but an asymmetric combatant using this prohibited tactic depends on the superior power's honoring the corresponding rules prohibiting attacking those displaying a flag of truce or a medical vehicle.
Similarly, laws of warfare prohibit combatants using civilian settlements, populations or facilities as military bases, but when an inferior power uses this tactic, it depends on the superior power respecting the law that they are violating, and not attacking that civilian target.
So...what is my point in all this? Simple. I want you to know that unlike the breathless reporters bringing you "dramatic footage" and wringing their hands over "increasing battles between the insurgents and US troops" the military actually studies this stuff and isn't surprised by what is going on. Indeed the military has named it and written doctrine for it. The Army and Marines train for MOUT - "Military Operations in Urban Terrain". The military leaders know what they are doing...and their expectations (as compared to those of the reporters) are that this is a methodical, time consuming process.
Is it dangerous? Yes...anytime you have loonies launching bullets in your direction with malicious intent it is going to be dangerous.
But are the insurgents "on par" with our Marines in Fallujah? No...it isn't as close as one might believe listening to the reporters whose nation has the finest warriors in the world in Iraq, yet whom seem to believe the teenager off the street with an AK 47 is the equal of our Soldiers and Marines.
Keep faith. We'd hoped we could avoid this particular fight...well, we couldn't.
But can we win it? Certainly. And the Marines fighting in Fallujah know this will take time and patience.
Wish our reporters and our public could accept that as well.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28th.
This is day 353 of CPT Patti's deployment.
THAT DEPENDS ON WHAT THE MEANING OF "OWNS" IS
I had to look twice...I thought this was a joke.
Does John Kerry, who supports higher automobile fuel economy standards, own a gas-guzzling SUV? He does, but says it belongs to the family, not to him.
Certainly...unless they are SUVs. But not those SUVs built in America owned by a person...just those - you know - that The Family has.
During a conference call Thursday with reporters to discuss his upcoming jobs tour through West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, the Democratic presidential candidate was asked whether he owned a Chevrolet Suburban.
"I don't own an SUV,'' said Kerry, who supports increasing existing fuel economy standards to 36 miles per gallon by 2015 in order to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil supplies...
Kerry thought for a second when asked whether his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, had a Suburban at their Ketchum, Idaho, home. Kerry said he owns and drives a Dodge 600 and recently bought a Chrysler 300M. He said his wife owns the Chevrolet SUV.
"The family has it. I don't have it,'' he said...
"We're going to keep jobs in America and help the industry be more competitive with foreign manufacturers that are building those cars today,'' Kerry said...
"I want cars to be made in Michigan, made in America, made'' by the United Auto Workers, Kerry said.
Sheesh...does this guy have a conviction on anything?
A HOPEFUL SIGN
I just ran across this on the Fox News Channel web site...a new feature to run on Linda Vester's DaySide.
You don’t get to see all the good things soldiers are doing over there and you don't get to see the many Iraqis who are thrilled and grateful.
Folks...I intend to watch. Do so if you can...and if it is worthy...and if it does what it says then please respond to Fox News with a note or letter...or call their local affiliate.
So, as of today, you're going to see something new on “DaySide.” Something called "Only on Fox", because that's the only place you'll see it. Dispatches directly from soldiers (with photos -- the miracle of e-mail!), showing the GOOD news in Iraq.
You deserve more balanced coverage -- and I, for one, will bring it to you.
We know the media in general doesn't understand Truth...but we also know they understand ratings.
If this effort by Fox is worthy...lets make some noise.
Sorry for the lack of posts today...lots going on in my real life.
Better tomorrow I bet.
THEY ARE BAFFLED
I want to continue my discussion from yesterday about the media and their unwillingness or inability to grasp the truth about this war. My thanks to Eleanor who pointed me to this poll
Despite the continuing violent attacks against coalition troops, a 65 percent majority supports the U.S. having taken military action in Iraq, up four points in the last month...
The bad news for the media types is that a majority of Americans don't buy their doom and gloom coverage of the war. What is amusing is to note how they just can't believe it. Consider this from the Washington Post.
Many Americans think the military’s response to the violence against coalition troops has not been aggressive enough (42 percent) and almost as many say it has been “about right” (41 percent). Few — eight percent — think the military has been too aggressive in responding to the attacks by insurgents in Iraq...
Images of kidnapped soldiers are more than twice as likely to make the public feel the U.S. military should “fight harder” (59 percent) than to feel American forces should “pull out” of Iraq (25 percent)....
Americans would rather get the job done than set a time limit on how long U.S. troops should be stationed in Iraq. A 55 percent majority thinks U.S. troops should stay in Iraq as long as it takes to establish a stable government over having troops stay in Iraq only a specified amount of time (39 percent).
Finally, 41 percent of Americans think President Bush has a clear plan for handling Iraq while half say he doesn’t. When asked the same question of Sen. Kerry, 22 percent think he has a clear plan for handling Iraq, 59 percent say he doesn’t and 19 percent are unsure.
With skillful use of language and images, President Bush and his aides have kept the American public from turning against the war in Iraq despite the swelling number of U.S. casualties there.
Excuse me...is this the same President the left has made fun of for nearly four years for his inability to speak with eloquence? What other President in recent memory has had web sites like Bushisms, more Bushisms (1988 to present) and Bushspeak not to mention being lampooned on late night TV weekly on the subject.
Even with the loss of more than 700 U.S. troops in Iraq, recent uprisings against the U.S.-led occupation there, a dwindling number of allies and the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, a majority of Americans still believe that going to war in Iraq was the right thing to do. By 52 percent to 41 percent, Americans trust Bush more than Democratic challenger Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) to handle the Iraq situation, according to last week's Washington Post-ABC News poll -- a double-digit improvement for Bush from a month before.
Political strategists and public-opinion experts say a good part of this resilience of public support for Bush and the Iraq war stems from the president's oratory.
And yet now the Washington Post, in its need to find some reason other than the truth to explain why the American people aren't thinking the way the Post thinks they should, suddenly credit Bush with the gift of "oratory"
And did you notice the reference to "more than 700" casualties, as if the post somehow holds that up as a threshold? Can you imagine what would happen in the press these days if something like this ever happened again?
A D-Day invasion rehearsal in which hundreds of US servicemen were killed has been remembered in a series of events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the tragedy.
And the Post seeks explanation from the usual suspects...so they quote the Kerry camp:
A total of 749 US military personnel were lost when German E boats launched a surprise attack on an Allied convoy.
The US soldiers were killed in the English Channel on 28 April, 1944.
Bush's opponents say he is building support for the Iraq war -- and himself -- by deceiving the public. "He has not leveled with the American people about the true cost of the war, how long we'll be there, or the number of troops that will be needed," said Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. "Americans would rather see sound policy rather than just positive rhetoric."
A staggeringly audacious statement coming from the home of "I voted for it before I voted against it."
Is that what they mean by sound policy? Does Kerry have a bleedin' crystal ball in which he can fortell teh cost of the war?
Kudos to the American people for not buying it. Hang on...they are going to try harder.
A STEP UP FOR THE 1ST CAV
The first of a series of shipments of brand new and refurbished M1114 Highly Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HUMMVEE) arrived in Baghdad this week. The M1114s include extra armor, a heavy-duty chassis and other safety features designed to better withstand explosive blasts and increase protection from other threats.
First Team Soldier’s patrolling the streets of Baghdad encounter frequent attacksfrom small arms fire, improvised explosive devices (IED’s) and rocket propelled grenades. The new M1114s will augment other armored HUMMVEEs that are already used in theater.
“The M1114 is extremely well suited for countering the IED threat on the road,” said Lt. Col. Larry Phelps, the division’s chief logistics officer. “It offers the soldier 360 degrees of protection inside the cab.”
In addition to it’s sophisticated armor package, each M1114 comes equipped with a turret mount, the latest in Army communications system technology and a turbo-charged motor system.
“It’s the robust vehicle that you need when you are working the streets of Baghdad,” Phelps said. “[M1114s] allow us to move quickly around the urban terrain. And they give the best force protection posture that we can have while out on the road.”
PROTECTING CPT PATTI
They probably don't know it...but that's the way I see it as she is now at Camp Victory North.
Do good, guys!
But McCarver must control the area abutting Camp Victory North to the east to deny sanctuary from which to attack this division headquarters on the edge of Baghdad’s international airport.
“One way or another, I’m going to own this,” he said, sitting in his Humvee and surveying the area, which includes a former veterinarian college, a one-time Iraqi air base and a bombed-out middle-class neighborhood. “This is the right way to do it.”
The expedient move, McCarver said, might have been to evict the 1,500 or so Iraqis living in his Victory North sector, headquarters for the 1st Cav’s 2nd Brigade Combat team.
But the right thing — for the moment — is to work with the varied pockets of people spread over an approximately 10-square-mile area in hopes that both Americans and locals can benefit in a symbiotic relationship.
Evicting the people — all squatters — has its own risks, said Capt. Matthew Hintz, a civil affairs officer for the FSB.
“CNN doesn’t shape public opinion. Rumors do,” Hintz said. If the Gamblers had pushed them out, that would have been 1,500 more people spreading anti-American hatred, he said.
This way, dispossessed people get security while 1st Cav gets a built-in early warning system.
But this is not, McCarver is quick to say, naive “Hands Across the Desert tree-hugger stuff.”
He says his soldiers always are asking themselves, “Are we being played?”
Still, there is altruism at work. Why, McCarver asked, can’t this area, which soldiers have dubbed “Compton” after the troubled Los Angeles suburb of the same name, be the first brick in the foundation of a new society?
HOW A GI "UP ARMORS" HIS HUMVEE
The Army has a term for this type adaptation. It is call a "Field Expedience".
With sand spread deep and as far as the eye can see, soldiers in Kuwait have found something useful to do with the stuff.
While preparing to convoy north to Iraq in February, 1st Infantry Division troops filled sandbags, piling them aboard hundreds of Humvees and trucks from their bases in Europe. They want to put as much shrapnel-absorbing sand as possible between themselves and any improvised explosive devices that guerrillas might plant in their path.
“Anything you can do to lessen the effect of an IED, it’s better,” said Pvt. Kenny Bryant, 20, of Charlie Company, Task Force 1-77. “If you’re prepared, then at least you give yourself a chance.”...
Soldiers headed for Iraq differ on how much safer it makes them to crouch behind sandbags.
“Do you think sandbags are going to save you? No,” said Spc. Alexander Hernandez, 24, of Trenton, N.J., a sandbag skeptic from Task Force 1-77’s Charlie Company. “Do they give everyone warm fuzzies? Yes.”
But some of his friends disagree.
“If it can stop a piece of shrapnel from going into my jugular, then [expletive] yes, it’s worth it,” said Pfc. Justin Piessens, 20, of Chicago, another Charlie 1-77 soldier.
TUESDAY, APRIL 27th.
Day 352 of CPT Patti's deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
As they say back home...gettin' pert near a year.
I just returned from the memorial service for SFC Bradley Charles Fox held here in the Chapel at Ray Barracks in Friedberg. I did not know SFC Fox...but he was one of our own.
SFC Fox was a platoon sergeant with 1st Platoon, C Company, 1-36 Infantry Battalion.
Two junior sergeants stook and gave tribute to SFC Fox. These two had at one time served under SFC Fox's leadership. Their tributes painted a picture of a man who lived the "mission first" ethos of a true Soldier, a man of uncompromising standards when it came to ensuring those in his charge were trained to the highest standards. They paid his leadership high praise.
And I was reminded that many carry more than the title of Soldier. SFC Fox also carried the titles of Son, Brother, Husband and Father.
Go read his story.
I sent the Army a long-haired, pot-smoking beach bum with no direction, and I got back an absolutely wonderful young man," his mother, Pat Dartt of Adrian, said Wednesday after she finished writing her son's obituary and prepared to spend the weekend with relatives.
She said her son was a "wonderful human being."
"He wasn't just over there for himself," she said. "He was over there for you and I and everyone else."
It may take a while to load...but you'll enjoy watching this. Speakers on please.
The lyrics are a bit hard to discern...you may wish to print these out to follow along.
In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing and the sky is clear and red.
When the summer’s ceased its gleaming,
When the corn is past its prime,
When adventure’s lost its meaning,
I’ll be homeward bound in time.
Bind me not to the pasture, chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I’ll return to you somehow.
If you find it’s me your missing, if you’re hoping I’ll return.
To your thoughts I’ll soon be list’ning, in the road I’ll stop and turn.
Then the wind will set me racing as my journey nears its end.
And the path I’ll be retracing when I’m homeward bound again.
Bind me not to the pasture, chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I’ll return to you somehow.
In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing,
I’ll be homeward bound again.
ANOTHER PATRIOT GIVES HIS ALL
I'm of mixed emotions about the media's frenzy over this Soldier's death.
See...soldiers have been dying in the Global War on Terror for some time now. But it takes one who is "famous" for a "Patriot's Payment to Liberty" to rise above stories of Michael Jackson and American Idol in the news. And that is sad.
Still, if it helps the American people focus again on our Soldiers, well, at least that is something.
Pat Tillman, who walked away from a multimillion-dollar NFL contract to join the Army Rangers, was killed in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Friday. Tillman, who served with the Army Rangers, was 27.
Although the military had not officially confirmed his death, the White House put out a statement of sympathy that praised Tillman as "an inspiration both on an off the football field."
Former Cardinals head coach Dave McGinnis said he felt both overwhelming sorrow and tremendous pride in Tillman, who "represented all that was good in sports."
SEEKING A SOLUTION
I can't wait until we can render the primary offensive weapon of these thugs nearly useless.
Of all the threats U.S. troops face in Iraq, improvised explosive devices are the most pervasive, deadly and difficult to counter.
Defense Department and service officials are pouring millions of dollars into IED countermeasure research, troop training and awareness, and better protection, but the carnage continues.
“IEDs continue to be the greatest casualty producer among our troops in the field,” Army Gen. John Abizaid said during a March 3 House Armed services committee hearing.
Together with the Army’s Chief of Staff, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, Abizaid has pulled together an “IED Task Force” to look at every aspect of countering the deadly devices.
Activated in October 2003, the task force “maintains teams in Iraq and Afghanistan to directly the support theater commanders,” Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Yakovac Jr., military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, said in a Wednesday hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.
Little information is available about this task force. But the Pentagon’s top civilian who is focused on countering IEDs, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict Thomas O’Connell, told Congress on March 10 that he regularly receives updates from the group, and that he has appointed his “senior EOD,” or explosives ordnance disposal, expert to work directly with the task force.
O’Connell told House members that DOD is reaching out to other government agencies for help with the IED problem, and that the FBI “has been extremely helpful.”
ITS GOOD TO BE KING
GEN Bell, the US Army Europe commander, listens, aims, shoots and scores.
“We’re not going to just check the block and say we did our part and then go on with our mindless business,” he promised.
Its a continuation of the same story...good folks trying to do good things under trying conditions.
“I know we cannot wait a month to solve your problems,” said Bell to another gathering. “I think 75 percent of the things that are bothering you we can solve by next week.”
Meanwhile, like only a four-star commander can, Bell fixed many individual problems on the spot, while jump-starting fixes for wider issues.
One rear detachment soldier told him that the Army was trying to send her away from Germany to her next duty assignment before her husband, also a soldier, returns from duty in Iraq.
Calling to his top personnel officer, Brig. Gen. Russell Frutiger, Bell said, “This soldier has got a problem that needs to be fixed right away. She’s getting screwed. … She’s going to stay here until her husband gets back.”
A MARINE'S REQUEST FOR YOUR HELP
And this one won't cost you a dime...so everyone can help.
I'm very pleased to have you among the circle of readers who come here in search of the better news about Operation Iraqi Freedom. We are a tight little community and I'm proud to call you my friends.
But does it ever strike you as unseemly that you, whether you are in Minnesota, Michigan, Texas, Alaska, South Carolina or where ever, had to stumble into this site (or hear about it from a friend who stumbled into it) so you could get your nearly daily dose of hope and positive perspective on the efforts of our brave Soldiers on behalf of this nation, the Iraq nation, and the vision of the President of the United States?
As I said...I'm proud you drop by and read the results of my searching...and I'm flattered you listen to the thoughts of a retired Lieutenant Colonel. But doesn't it stike you that as an American you shouldn't have to go to such lengths to get a glimpse into the truth of what is happening over there?
Time after time after time we have read right here the stories of Soldiers who tell reporters "you guys are not telling the whole story...in fact you are telling only the worst parts of it".
But it doesn't seem to change.
Well, now a Marine officer has stepped forward and asked for your help.
Please read every word of this...and then take action. Note up front that I've added emphasis to certain passages.
Request For Help from Marine Serving in Iraq
What is worse is that the media at large seem to be following the lead of Al Jazeera, the most disgusting example of a so-called news organization on Earth.
Marine Corps Counterintelligence Association | 4/21/04 | 1st Lt. Robert L. Nofsinger USMC
Hello Everyone, I am taking time to ask you all for your help.
First off, I'd like to say that this is not a political message. I'm not concerned about domestic politics right now. We have much bigger things to deal with, and we need your help.
It seems that despite the tremendous and heroic efforts of the men and women serving here in Iraq to bring much needed peace and stability to this region, we are losing the war of perception with the media and American people. Our enemy has learned that the key to defeating the mighty American military is by swaying public opinion at home and abroad. We are a people that cherish the democratic system of government and therefore hold the will of the people in the highest regard. We love to criticize ourselves almost to an endless degree, because we care what others think. Our enemies see this as a weakness and are trying to exploit it.
When we ask ourselves questions like, "Why do they hate us?" or "What did we do wrong?" we are playing into our enemies' hands. Our natural tendency to question ourselves is being used against us to undermine our effort to do good in the world. How far would we have gotten if after the surprise attacks on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor, we would have asked, "Why do the Japanese hate us so much?" or "How can we change ourselves so that they won't do that again?" Here in Iraq the enemy is trying very hard to portray our efforts as failing and fruitless. They kill innocents and desecrate their bodies in hopes that the people back home will lose the will to fight for liberty. They are betting on our perceived weakness as a thoughtful, considerate people. Unfortunately our media only serves to further their cause.
In an industry that feeds on ratings and bad news, a failure in Iraq would be a goldmine. When our so-called "trusted" American media takes a quote from an Iraqi doctor as the gospel truth over that of the men and women that are daily fighting to protect the right to freedom of press, you know something is wrong. That doctor claimed that out of 600 Iraqis, that were casualties of the fighting, the vast majority of them were women, children and the elderly. This is totally absurd. In the history of man, no one has spent more time and effort, often to the detriment of our own mission, to be more discriminate in our targeting of the enemy than the American military. The Marines and Soldiers serving in Iraq have gone through extensive training in order to limit the amount of innocent casualties and collateral damage.
Yet, despite all of this, our media consistently sides with those who openly lie and directly challenge the honor of our brave heroes fighting for liberty and peace. What we have to remember is that peace is not defined as an absence of war. It is the presence of liberty, stability, and prosperity. In the face of the horrendous tyranny of the former Iraqi regime, the only way true peace was able to come to this region was through force. That is what the American Revolution was all about. Have we forgotten? Freedom is not free and "peace" without principle is not peace. The peace that so-called "peace advocates" support can only be brought to Iraq through the military. And we are doing it, if only the world will let us! If the American people believe we are failing, even if we are not, then we will ultimately fail.
That is why I am asking for your support. Become a voice of truth in your community. Wherever you are, fight the lies of the enemy. Don't buy into the pessimism and apathy that says, "It's hopeless," "They hate us too much," "That part of the world is just too messed up," "It's our fault anyway," "We're to blame," and so forth. Whether you're in middle school, working at a 9-5 job, retired, or a stay-at-home mom you can make a huge difference! There is nothing more powerful than the truth. So, when you watch the news and see doomsday predictions and spiteful opinions on our efforts over here, you can refute them by knowing that we are doing a tremendous amount of good. Spread the word. No one is poised to make such an amazing contribution to the everyday lives of Iraqis and the rest of the Arab world than the American Armed Forces. By making this a place where liberty can finally grow, we are making the whole world safer. Your efforts at home are directly tied to our success. You are the soldiers at home fighting the war of perception. So I'm asking you as a fellow fighting man: Do your duty. Stop the attempts of the enemy wherever you are. You are a mighty force for good, because truth is on your side. Together we will win this fight and ensure a better world for the future.
God Bless and Semper Fidelis, 1st Lt. Robert L. Nofsinger USMC Ramadi, Iraq
While it is difficult to isolate a single cause, the shift in opinion does not appear to be motivated by either an increase in the popular mandate of Muktada al-Sadr's cause, or by any alliance of convenience between the Sunnis and Shias. Rather, it is a backlash -- a visceral negative response to the perceived wrongs committed by the Coalition. It is, in other words, the Al Jazeera effect.
What can you do? Anything you can to advance the cause of truth.
Following the Marine offensive in Falluja, Iraqi journalists began grilling Coalition officials at nearly every briefing as to why Americans were targeting women and children, and why the Americans were punishing so many innocent Iraqis for the wrongs committed by the few who desecrated the bodies in Falluja. Coalition spokesman Dan Senor and Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt explained that the Coalition is not executing a campaign of collective punishment, is targeting only those who had demonstrated themselves to be violently anti-Coalition, and is following strict rules of engagement and stringent policies concerning the use of force. But these assurances fell on deaf ears. The journalists had seen the purported proof of the Coalition's barbarity: they had watched satellite networks like Al Jazeera and Al Arabia.
Upon modest examination, however, the evidence of Coalition inhumanity turns out to be a combination of half-truths and no-truths. For example, these networks reported that the Coalition dropped a JDAM on a mosque in Falluja. This much is true, however many news sources failed to report why the bomb was dropped, or incorrectly stated that the action was unprovoked. In reality, anti-Coalition forces had overtaken the mosque, and were using the high ground of the minarets to fire on Coalition forces. The bomb was dropped to permit the Marines to breach one side of the mosque, and thereby to return order. By omitting any reference to the gunmen in the mosque, media outlets were able to neatly transform an act of self-defense on the part of the Marines into a purported violation of the Geneva Convention.
A good start would be a letter to the editor. Quote the Marine Lieutenant if you need to...let the media know you see through them.
Follow the example of the Lutz Patiots...band together...wave the flag...show others that you are behind our Soldiers and our cause.
Drop a note to your Senator or Represenatative...let him or her know that in fact you support the cause of liberty...goodness knows they're getting an inordinate amount of mail from the other side.
If you get an email forward that spouts the usual leftist pablum about Oil and Haliburton and Bush Lied...reply to all...and refer them to CPT Patti's website...or Sarah's or Greyhawk'sor Hook's or Smash's or Patriette's or any of the other excellent sites on the MilBlogs Ring.
We cannot, must not allow history to repeat itself. Consider this excerpt for a moment:
(After the TET offensive) Support for the war eroded and demands that we get out reached a crescendo. The irony in all this is that the Communist insurgents were beaten decisively during the Tet offensive. But what they lost in battle in Vietnam the Communists won in the American media and in public opinion shaped by the media.
Think what you will of him, but on November 3d, 1969 President Richard Nixon addressed the American people - and on this he was not wrong:.
In later years, after the Communists were firmly in power in Vietnam, they admitted that the Tet offensive was a military disaster for them. In a 1995 interview in the Wall Street Journal, a Communist official stated frankly that the key to their victory was the American home front, and that they were encouraged to fight on by all the anti-war demonstrations in the United States.
If a vocal minority, however fervent its cause, prevails over reason and the will of the majority, this nation has no future as a free society...
Well, today the Soldiers and Marines need our support.
And so tonight -- to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans -- I ask for your support.
You have seen the filter the major media apply to the news from Iraq. What that teaches us is that every day there are folks actively working to limit the true message coming out of Iraq.
There must be a counter force...and we must be it.
I ask myself today...what have I done to counter this message? Mostly I preach to the already converted. We've got to do better than that...all of us. We must be silent no more.
The media prophecies of Iraq becoming another Vietnam are a tip of the hand that the media themselves intend to duplicate their subterfuge they performed in the 60s.
Don't let them.
Soldier after Soldier after Marine have been quoted (ironically) in the local press that the news media are telling the worst possible version of the story. CPT Patti has told me that her Soldiers were thrilled to get TV...only to become rapidly disgusted at the news they stopped watching it.
So ask yourself...who do you trust more? Soldiers who do what they do because they are good, honest, hometown sort of Americans...or the heads of CNN, ABC, New York Times, AP, Reuters, etc?
No contest, from where I sit.
Do something...now matter how small...today. And again tomorrow. Let us be silent no more.
Remember - they are working to get out their disinformation. What are we doing?
(My thanks to Bobby Sr. for the link and the Lutz Patiots for the letter.)
MONDAY, APRIL 26th.
The 351st day of my darling wife's deployment.
If all went according to plan the HQs of the 1st Brigade "jumped" (a military term for "relocated") last night after midnight to their new location at Camp Victory (or Camp Victory North - not quite certain...but essentially the same place) which is adjacent to Baghdad International Airport.
We've been without communication the last couple of days due to the pending jump. But last I heard, that was the plan. I expect it will be at least a few days before they reestablish all their comms in the new location. When I hear from our girl though, you can bet I'll let you know.
Anyway...if they are at the new location then I am pleased. And the Good Lord willing, this is where the 1st Brigade can stay as they serve out their extension.