Friday, June 18, 2004


Hey ya'll...I'm having one of those days in which my real life is interfering with my on-line life.

I'll be back when I can!
Soldiers in Iraq will start getting an addition to their Interceptor body armor systems this fall: a set of pads that cover and protect the upper arm and armpit area.

Dubbed Deltoid and Axillary Protection (the deltoid is the muscle that runs along the top of the upper arm; axillary refers to the area in or near the armpit), the detachable pads can stop penetration of shrapnel from a large fragmentary round, or a bullet up to 9 millimeter, Brig. Gen. James R. Moran said Monday at the Pentagon.

The Army plans to send 50,000 sets of pads to Iraq beginning in late September, said Moran, who is head of Program Executive Office Soldier (PEO Soldier), the Army’s Fort Belvoir, Va.-based development center for advanced soldier equipment.

Photo courtesy of Point Blank Body Armor

Day 404 of CPT Patti's Iraqi Liberation Tour.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Rebel cleric orders army to disband

Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shia cleric who has been leading a revolt in southern Iraq for more than two months, yesterday bowed to intense peer pressure and told his followers in his Jaysh al-Mahdi militia to return home.

Mr Sadr's order comes amid intensive efforts on the part of local Iraqi leaders and even the US president to end a bloody insurgency in the run-up to the transfer of sovereignty now only two weeks away.
Lesson for those paying attention: Using your pulpit to raise an Army to make you a "strong man" is no longer an acceptable scenario in this new country.
Never has American prestige in Europe been lower.
Recent quote from the New York Times?

No...Life Magazine, 1946.

The President evoked history yesterday in his speech at McDill AFB. Here is more evidence of that history. And it is worth reading.

Those who stamp their feet and wring their hands over Iraq choosing to dwell on the difficulties while ignoring the significant progress being made their are not unlike children who cry from the back seat "Are we there yet?"

As I've said here a hundred times what we are doing in Iraq is hard to do. And it comes with its competition and its setbacks. But it is worth doing and can be done so long as we have the will to do it.

History proves this over and over. The ante-bellum period of any conflict is hard. Recall the former Confederate states after the US Civil War. Sherman had left a scorched earth in his wake. The economic systems in the South had to be completely revised and reborn. Reconstruction was a bitter battleground between the President and the Congress. It took five full years before the final four secession states were readmitted to the Union. FIVE YEARS!

Take a moment and go read these headlines from the ante-bellum period of WWII: Gloom and despair! Compare them with the headlines you read and hear today. The similarity is startling.

I've been thinking it is frequently more important to know what processes are at work than what symptoms those processes display. Parents do that all the time, attributing certain common behaviors in children to "the stage he's going through" instead of declaring "OH NO! My child is the spawn of Satan himself and is destined to be a criminal and a lout!" and flow...and of course politics...lets not overlook politics. The processes are at work. And the symptoms are, as history shows us, strikingly familiar (a bad mouthing, hyper-negative press, partisan bickering, predictions of "losing the peace".

It would do me good to remember more frequently that this is normal. I'm disappointed that this is normal...but normal it is.

And with any luck at all perhaps many of the American people will recognize this as normal too.


The President has it right.
I want you to remember this. In 1947, two years after the Nazi surrender, there was still starvation in Germany. Reconstruction seemed to be faltering. The Marshall Plan had not yet begun. Soon Berlin would be blockaded, on the orders of Joseph Stalin. Some questioned whether a free and stable Germany could emerge from the rubble.

Fortunately, America and our allies were optimistic. They stood firm. We helped the German people overcome these challenges and resist the designs of the Soviet Union. We overcame many obstacles, because we knew that the only hope for a secure America was a peaceful and democratic Europe. And because we persevered, because we had faith in our values, because we were strong in the face of adversity, Germany became the stable, successful, great nation that it is today...

With each step forward on the path to self-government and self-reliance, the terrorists will grow more desperate and more violent. They see Iraqis taking their country back. They see freedom taking root. The killers know they have no future in a free Iraq. They want America to abandon the mission and to break our word. So they're attacking our soldiers and free Iraqis. They're doing everything in their power to prevent the full transition to democracy. And we can expect more attacks in the coming few weeks, more car bombs, more suiciders, more attempts on the lives of Iraqi officials. But our coalition is standing firm. New Iraq's leaders are not intimidated. I will not yield, and neither will the leaders of Iraq.
The OGA bar has a dance floor with a revolving mirrored disco ball and a game room. It is open to outsiders by invitation only. Disgruntled CPA employees who haven't wangled invites complain that the CIA favors women guests.
Fun article about the Green Zone's nightlife.

Just like we said we would...
Iraq's new leadership will take control of a rehabilitated Baghdad International Airport in the next few weeks. The hand-over is expected to open the door for the first normal commercial service since the U.S. invasion 15 months ago.

For the past year, American experts and Iraqi technicians have been working to repair and update the former Saddam International Airport...

Now one of three main terminals has been restored, improvements to the main runway and the radars are underway and Iraqi air traffic controllers returned to the tower two weeks ago. They are handling most of the roughly 50 cargo charter flights a day. There also is a daily charter passenger flight from Jordan.

In advance of the June 30 turnover of sovereignty to the Iraqi government, the U.S. military is handing back the airport's 40 service buildings and 35 acres of land.

By July 15, with the departure of the Army's 1st Armored Division, the commercial side of the airport will be Iraqi-run.
EVENTUALLY A FULL STOMACH WEIGHS MORE THAN FEAR OR HATRED is slow going...but make no mistake about is going...and going in the right direction.
Now, he said, the U.S. military is trying to enable Iraqis to do the work for themselves. U.S. and Iraqi elements are choosing projects, such as locations for Iraqi military camps, and Seabees are rough-drafting the projects, putting them out to bid and managing their progress.

“This is to give the Iraqi businesses a chance to develop,” Kubic said.

“It’s going to be slow, but over the long term having a bottom-up strategy will be the key to the future of a successful Iraq. As long as the people in Baghdad can set the political and economic condition, and we can mesh our military strategy with that — allowing [progress] to come from the bottom up — we’ll be very successful.”...

But business is picking up in spite of the danger that sometimes comes with doing business with the U.S. forces.

Kubic said that projects such as building schools, courthouses and police stations used to attract from only two or three Iraqi contractors. That eventually grew to seven or eight bids.

“Now we routinely get 20 to 30 bids for a job,” Kubic said. “For one road project we just ordered, we had 104 bids.”

The 403d day of CPT Patti's deployment.

One year, one month, nine days.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


To Deborah Orin at the New York Post. Go read it all.
But part of the issue is simply that Saddam's tortures, like al Qaedas tactics, are so awful that they're unbearable to watch.

If I couldn't watch them myself, I'm hardly arguing that others should have to. Yet it raises a very complex problem in the War on Terror. It's worse than creating moral equivalence between Saddam's tortures and prisoner abuse by U.S. troops. It's that we do far more to highlight our own wrongdoings precisely because they are less appalling.

In this era, a photo is everything. We highlight U.S. prisoner abuse because the photos aren't too offensive to show. We downplay Saddam's abuse precisely because it's far worse — so we can't use the photos. And that sets the stage for remarks like Sen. Ted Kennedy's claim that Saddam's torture chambers have reopened under "U.S. management."

Terrorism is sometimes called asymmetric warfare — America had to adjust to new tactics to deal with small bands of terrorists who were able to turn our airplanes into weapons against us. Now it turns out that we also face asymmetric propaganda — where the terrorists gain a p.r. advantage precisely because what they do is so horrific that our media aren't able to deal with it.

The U.S. military hasn't figured out a strategic way to deal with this problem.

But neither has the press.

Read this piece and come to your own conclusions.
At the heart of the tale is the role of the militias, called janjaweed -- "the men on horses." Across Darfur, they have unleashed their fury on black African tribes linked with rebels.

According to survivors, hundreds of janjaweed arrived in the Kailek in February. They galloped from village to village, slaughtering hundreds of black Africans, all Muslims like themselves. Truckloads of government soldiers helped them.

They razed houses, crushed mosques and tore up hundreds of copies of the Quran, Islam's holy book. They whipped women and children, surrounded Kailek and took everyone hostage.

"It was a concentration camp," said a U.N. official who visited the area in late April. "They were eating, sleeping and dying in their own feces because they weren't allowed to go out."

There was a method to the violence. Arabs were left alone, survivors said. Some joined the janjaweed to prey on their neighbors.

Sumia Rahman, 16, and her brother Anwar, 10, fled toward the mountains after they saw their younger brothers die. But their stepmother, Fatima, 30, was caught. She was taken, with dozens of others, to the woods and beaten. Then she was raped.

"If I was an Arab, they would not have raped me," said Fatima.

Meanwhile, her husband, Hamid, and several hundred men had fled into the mountains. As he climbed, he heard explosions in the distance. Planes, he realized, were dropping bombs.

Ten days later, the janjaweed sent representatives to urge them to return to Kailek. They brought along an elder to vouch for their sincerity.

Without food or medicines, they had no other option. Soldiers, he said, escorted them down the mountain. But in Kailek, they were placed under house arrest, along with an estimated 1,700 other villagers.

The janjaweed began to execute one or two of the strongest men every day, said survivors. Children died of hunger and thirst, while scores of women endured a living death.

"In the night, the janjaweed would go into houses and select ladies and take them away to be raped," village elder Adam Muhammed Adam recounted as villagers around him nodded their heads solemnly.
(Thanks, Beckie)

Spain: more laughable by the minute.
Generals don't usually get medals for organizing a retreat.

But in Spain they do, or at least the defense minister did. Jose Bono was recently given a medal for the role he played in pulling Spanish troops (search) out of Iraq.

As you may remember, Spain withdrew its troops from Iraq shortly after Al Qaeda killed nearly 200 people in Madrid. The terrorist bombings were timed to affect Spanish elections and many say they did, throwing out the party that supported the coalition in Iraq and bringing in the Socialists, who called for immediate withdrawal.

The Cross of Military Merit, which Defense Minister Bono was to receive for organizing the retreat of Spanish forces, entitles the recipient to wear a white sash and be addressed as, "Your most excellent lordship."

But Mr. Bono apparently won't get his sash.

The ruckus over his award intensified after a newspaper reported that Mr. Bono had arranged for the medal ceremony himself and had pressured cabinet members who opposed the decoration.

Last week, Mr. Bono returned the medal and the prime minister praised his defense minister as a man of "much sensibility."
So today I was taking our lawyer to do some business in companies registry office when he told me that nobody can imagine the number of private companies being established and registered these days, they are more than lawyers can register and more than private chartered accountants can do accounting...

After I got out of Tahreer Sq. and avoided traffic jam I passed the building of Baghdad Stock Exchange which we (my partners and I) spent a long time in as stock brokers (my basic profession) and I remembered what my partner said last Friday about it “its going to be opened this month and they practiced a test exchange last Saturday, and there was a great job done by the coalition helping the Iraqis old team to reopen as soon as possible”.

Laws was changed, a new board of directors without government representatives, a new place, a new techniques of exchange, and of course many more job opportunities for the market staff and for brokers companies and for the investors.

For us as a stock brokers firm, it’s a dream to reopen and establish stock exchange, especially when the American experts who helped to reopen the market are saying “we are trying to develop new, modern exchange facilities”.

Any way I will keep the site visitors informed about what’s new in ISX (and thats Iraq Stock eXchange)reopening and its all on
Go check out the Iraqi Stock Exchange website...and ask yourself why you didn't get this news from those "professionals" in the "news business".
With the completion of new transmission projects and the rehabilitation of a turbine unit at Haditha Dam in Haditha, Iraq last week, for the first time since 1990 all six turbines were in full operation and the clean hydropower plant operated at full capacity, generating 660 megawatts.

"The incredible progress at Haditha is just one example of the huge strides made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its partners to increase the overall capacity of the Iraqi power system," said Army Maj. Gen. Ronald L. Johnson, commander of the corps' Gulf Region Division.

For the past month, Beth Frank has been gathering paperback books. "Mostly mysteries," the Courtland High School rising senior explains. "Some fantasies."

At the end of June, Beth will gather all the books, box them up and ship them overseas to her Marine uncle for distribution to the men and women in Iraq serving in the 2nd battalion, 2nd Marine regiment.

Tagging along with the books will be letters written by school children at Courtland Elementary School. Beth thought letters from the youngsters would let the soldiers know that "not only old people" are thinking about them.

The paperback book and letter-writing activities are part of Beth's project for the Girl Scout Gold Award. The Gold Award is the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve. It is comparable to the Boy Scout Eagle Award.

The book collection has taken off. As of yesterday, Beth was processing nearly 1,800 books. Drop-off spots were at Borders book store in Central Park, Christ Episcopal Church, and Courtland High and Elementary schools. Boxes are still available at Borders and the church.

When it came time to choose a project, Beth knew she wanted to do something for the servicemen in Iraq.

"Mom knits and sends hats and stuff to the troops overseas during the winter," she said during a pause in processing her books. "I can't knit or crochet, and I wanted to do something."

Those who don't "get it"...that we are involved in a global war (albeit, a global war many are trying to ignore) might want to listen to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs for a moment.
"Past wars have been like having pneumonia. It may leave a bunch of scars on your lungs, but you get cured of it," General Peter Schoomaker told reporters. "This [war] is a little bit like having cancer. You may get it in remission, but it's never going to go away in our lifetime."

The threat from Islamic extremism is particularly worrisome for its potential of an attack involving weapons of mass destruction, he said.

"I can't remember a time that, honestly, was more dangerous than what we're in today because of the nature of this threat," Schoomaker said in a wide-ranging interview with a group of reporters.
There was some good news about Iraq Tuesday, which is unusual. Of course, there was bad news, too, which is not.
I've spent the better part of 13 months culling the good news from Iraq...and I'm just one guy with an internet connection. Too bad the Detroit Free Press doesn't have my endless resources so they can find the good news too.

This move denotes Iraq's signficance and the importance of our success there.
General George W. Casey Jr., the Army vice chief of staff, has been nominated for a newly created post that would make him the top US commander and only four-star general in Iraq.
Although Iraqis are divided on whether their country is currently better (42 percent) or worse (39 percent) off than before the invasion, “there is striking optimism regarding the country's long-term future” after June 30.

Nearly two-thirds of all Iraqis say they believe their country will be either somewhat or much better off five years from now than it is at present, “while just one Iraqi in 10 foresees the country being worse off five years hence.”

Also worth noting: “the fact that these positive expectations were expressed by Shiites and Sunnis alike.” Only 12 percent say they expected Iraq to be worse off five years from now.

A public opinion poll of Iraqis done by Oxford Analytica (and touted by the U.S. government) showed similar results: a majority of Iraqis feel that they are better off today than they were a year ago. And 70 percent said they think they'll be even better off in 2005.

Americans are a notoriously optimistic people. Are we exporting optimism with our fifths of Jack? As we prepare for this fall’s big vote, and amid otherwise gloomy current polling on Iraq, Americans at the least seem to share the Iraqis’ rosy view of the future.

A Washington Post poll in May found 62 percent hopeful about Iraq, but 67 percent worried. Over half say they’re optimistic about the situation in Iraq.
The Iraqi Air Force purchased its first new aircraft this week, but the planes will be used for surveillance, not war-making, according to a U.S. official.

U.S. military spokesman Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt announced Tuesday in Baghdad the purchased by Iraq of two of a planned force of 16 observation and surveillance aircraft from Jordan.

The planes are intended to help the country protect its electrical and oil assets from sabotage and help control its borders. An oil pipeline was apparently sabotaged Tuesday near Basra.

The planes will be delivered in mid-July.

Much of Iraq's old air force was found buried in the sand after the war, an apparent attempt to camouflage the planes and keep them from being bombed by U.S. aircraft.


Enforcing the traffic laws.
Traffic police are cracking down on the reckless driving that has thrived on the chaos and congestion that followed last year's U.S.-led invasion with new fines, car confiscations and a media campaign to restore a degree of order.

"We'll return the rule of law to the streets," traffic police Director-General Brigadier Jasim Tahir told Reuters.

"Only this morning I caught someone driving the wrong way down the road, and told my men to arrest him," said the police chief, who sports a pistol in a white leather holster.

"We confiscated his car for 10 days. Now he'll have to walk to work. Every time his legs ache he'll remember not to break the law," Tahir said, speaking at traffic police headquarters.
The 1st Cavalry's answer is to pour half a billion dollars into Baghdad over 90 days. The money will be distributed through 100 different projects to build sewers, ensure potable water and rebuild electricity infrastructure. Iraqis will be contracted to implement the projects.

"I really take issue ... with folks that say first you have to provide security and then we'll rebuild the infrastructure. Because I can't get there from here. ... I've got to do both of them at the same time," Chiarelli said.

In Sadr City, many power lines are thin, jerry-rigged cables strung so low across roads that U.S. Army vehicles have inadvertently ripped them down. The 1st Cavalry will replace many of them with strong, high-voltage cables, Chiarelli said.

"What we're trying to do is to pull some of these people that are our enemy ... and make them part of the process, and understand that whatever the insurgency is offering, we're offering them something better," Chiarelli said. "Every Iraqi that we can put to work is probably an Iraqi that we may not have to worry about fighting the coalition."

Wow...someone said thanks.
In an upbeat and emotional speech before Congress, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan thanked Americans yesterday for confronting "a great evil" by removing terrorism and the Taliban, but also alluded to continuing instability and the need for increased foreign assistance.

"You have supported us with your resources, with your leadership in the world community, and most importantly, with the precious lives of your soldiers," he said, later adding: "Ladies and gentlemen, together we have a long road ahead, but we will move forward to make the world a better place."

At a time when instability in Iraq has dominated the attention of many in Congress, Karzai's message of relative stability in Afghanistan received a hearty welcome.

Day 402 of CPT Patti's deployment.

I spoke with her on the phone last night. She had worked extra late (by Brigade HQ's standards), working issues so they do not jump up later and delay the redeployment.

Good idea, Darlin'!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


That's Victor Davis Hanson's thesis in this piece, which deserves your undivided attention.
Nearly three years after 9/11 we are in the strangest of all paradoxes: a war against fascists that we can easily win but are clearly not ready to fully wage.

We have the best 500,000 soldiers in the history of civilization, a resolute president, and an informed citizenry that has already received a terrible preemptive blow that killed thousands.

Yet what a human comedy it has now all become.

Sarcasm often doesn't play well in print...but in this case I think it hits the mark.
Dear Arabs,

I am truly sorry that Americans decided to take up arms and sacrifice their own youth in the defense of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, and the first Gulf War. After we clear up this mess in Iraq, we will refrain from any such activity in the future.

I am truly sorry that I did not hear any of you call for an apology from Muslim extremists after 911. After all, the hijackers were all Arabs.

I am truly sorry that Arabs have to live in squalor under savage dictatorships throughout the Middle East. I am also sorry that the “leaders” of these nations drive their citizens into poverty by keeping all of the wealth in the hands of a select few.

I am also sorry that these governments intentionally breed hate for the U.S. in their religious schools while American schools do the exact opposite...

I am sorry that the U.S. has continued to serve as the biggest financial supporter of poverty stricken Arab nations while wealthy Arab leaders blame the U.S. for all of their problems...

I am sorry that foreign trained terrorists are trying to seize control of Iraq and return it to a terrorist state. I am sorry we have not yet dropped at least 100 Daisy cutters on Fallujah in order to stop that effort...

I am sorry that every time the terrorists hide, it just happens to be inside a “Holy Site.”

I am sorry that Muslim extremists have not yet apologized for the U.S.S. Cole, the embassy bombings, and for flying a plane into the World Trade Center, which collapsed in part on Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which is one of our Holy Sites.
Go read the whole thing here.
"I'm proud to have fought for my country and to protect America," she said, "but I'm more proud to help those people have the same freedoms we have."

Schools have been rebuilt, textbooks purchased and hospitals restored, she said.

"Everything we blew up or they blew up, we're fixing," she said.

News reports don't focus on troops' efforts to provide electricity and clean water to Iraqis.

"It's those things that no one wants to talk about. The whole thing is not about politics. It's about people."

"The media will never show you the guy in the street that gives you a hug and kiss and says, 'Thank you, please don't leave my country.' That doesn't get TV ratings."

Nothing unusual in that...except she's a soldier, in Baghdad, marrying a soldier in Colorado...ah, just read the story.
Staff Sgt. Shadow Evans, 30, and Sgt. Rick Everton, 29, married Friday evening in Durango, but for the bride - who was north of Baghdad, Iraq - it was early Saturday morning. She appeared at her wedding only as a foot-tall image on a video screen.

Evans is in Iraq on active duty with the National Guard. She watched her husband and the judge who married them from a laptop.

It's the first time a wedding has been conducted by video from a war zone between two soldiers.
And here is a story about the charitable foundation that provided the video equipment to our soldiers.
Free video teleconferencing (VTC), high-speed Internet systems with e-mail and Web-based phone lines are available to Camp Cooke troops to take them virtually anywhere.

The first facility using donated technology from a not-for-profit organization called the Freedom Calls Foundation will officially open Monday, but many troops have already used the technology to see events they would have otherwise missed.

So far people on camp have seen a live birth on a big screen TV, been married by proxy over VTC, and have seen numerous graduations, all thanks to the foundation and Durost, who has worked double time to get the center prepared for Monday.


That is the mantra of Army training. This is a great article on the training being given all National Guardsmen at Camp Grafton training area in North Dakota. Training that prepares them for the non-traditional enemies in Iraq.
It used to be that Camp Grafton personnel would drive into Devils Lake to dryclean the cooks' uniforms, said Lt. Col. Adams. Now, any time any vehicle leaves camp, it must be in, at a minimum, a three-vehicle convoy -- two of the vehicles being armed Humvees called "gun ships."

"Devils Lake in our scenario is considered just like a Fallujah," Adams said, referring to the restive Iraqi city.

Guardsmen regularly drive to the south end of the camp in convoys, where they are ambushed by teams of three to seven experienced Guardsmen role-playing insurgents, according to Maj. Jeff Holzworth, the 164th's executive officer. They set up improvised explosive devices, hiding them in a carcass of a dead animal or in a pop can, just as in Iraq. They shoot guns and rocket-propelled grenades. They strike at inopportune times such as at corners and intersections, just as in Iraq.

The point Holzworth said, is to train Guardsmen to look for unusual signs that indicate an ambush.

Soldiers? Certainly. But this story is about spouses.

You must read the whole thing.
One day in early April, Hummel got a short e-mail from her husband, 1st Sgt. Alan Hummel, whose Company A troops are attached to Task Force 1-18 in Tikrit.

One of my soldiers is injured, he wrote. Go to Landstuhl and see him.

She invited Twist to help with the 190-mile drive. When they arrived and began navigating the crowded hallways packed with injured troops, they felt as if they’d landed on the set of a TV medical drama.

“We walked right into the middle of turmoil,” Hummel said. “There was stretcher after stretcher. There was a limb missing here, an eye missing there.”

They carried a handful of snacks for Staff Sgt. Eugene Simpson — the 1-77 Armor soldier they’d come to visit — feeling naked. The troops, they said, looked scared and alone, their eyes begging for some reassurance.

“It all changed that day, when we saw those searching faces,” Twist said.

So Hummel and Twist pooled their money and headed for an Army and Air Force Exchange Service shoppette. They spent all they had buying snacks, and returned to the ward to hand them out. The enthusiasm of the troops moved them to tears — some of the wounded even offered to pay them...

In the two months since, the pair’s effort has blossomed into Operation in FAITH (Friends Aid Injured Troops Hospitalized). Seeking to expand their effort, they gained the support of Lt. Col. Keith Wright, chaplain for the Schweinfurt-based 280th Base Support Battalion.

Wright said, coincidentally, he’d received a request from his counterpart at Landstuhl, asking for help in meeting immediate needs of injured soldiers who were then arriving by the planeload.

Hummel and Twist’s effort is in keeping with their strong Christian faith.

“The need is not always ‘Come and talk to me about Christ,’ ” Twist said. “It’s soldiers who have an immediate need, and we can meet it. Sometimes that goes a lot further.”
The 2nd Infantry Division is experiencing a surge in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among soldiers who rotated here from assignments in Iraq or Afghanistan, says a senior health official...

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that occurs when a person is exposed to a traumatic or life threatening event such as war, assault, sexual assault, natural disasters or disasters in general, Dorritie said.

Symptoms include panic attacks, nightmares, insomnia, hyper-vigilance, flashbacks, outbursts of anger and irritability, concentration and attention problems and the inability to relax, she said...

Thirty percent of soldiers who serve in combat zones develop full-blown PTSD and 25 percent have at least some symptoms, Dorritie said. “So at least half of the soldiers in combat zones will have (some form of) PTSD.”
I want to tread lightly here...because I do not want to appear to assign this problem less gravity than it is due.

However, whether it is misquoting by the reporter, or misspeaking by the health official, it seemed to me that the statistics quoted in this article are high.
The article concludes that at least half of our soldiers will have some form of PTSD.

I can't get the site to open, but Google preview allows me to see this statement:
PTSD is observed in up to 30% of those who have been in combat zones
In my mind there is a huge difference between "up to 30%" and "30% will develop".

Then there is this statement from a University of Alabama Birmingham (Good Med school there by the way) site:
About 30 percent of men and women who have spent time in war zones experience PTSD.
Which would seem to discount the "half our soldiers" comment.

My point? Let's not ascribe illness to those who don't have it, let's not create "victims" where they are not and moreover, let's not sow panic where it is not warranted.

Hey ya' is Sarah & Russ's 2d Anniversary. Russ is deployed to Iraq with the 1st Infantry Division, so they are spending this anniversary apart. A lot of us have done this...but that fact only adds to misery's doesn't reduce the misery. me a favor. Pop over to Sarah's and say a kind word. She's had a lot of negative comment traffic of late - folks who compensate for their inability to hold their own against her intellect by using the internet to call her very nasty names.

Let's change that tone. Send her your best.

Day 401 of CPT Patti's deployment.

One year, one month, one week.

A soldier who was under CPT Patti's command, but did not deploy with the unit contacted me yesterday to see if I would remove the personally owned items from the office that was CPT Patti's when they left. (The office will belong to the current Gators commander upon their return.)

I spent an hour doing so. The scene reflected our total lack of understanding of just what we were in for, 401 days ago.

We had left her office if she were gone for the weekend. Diplomas, pictures and plaques on the wall. Toothbrush, toothpaste and contact lens solution at the sink. (Yes, the commander's office has a sink. Like a bathroom sink. The inclusion of a sink in the office I believe anticipated the normal occurence of a company commander being at work around the clock on many days. Also nearby and available for the commander and 1SG...showers and laundry facilities. Nine - to - five this ain't.)

I viewed the office and chastised myself a bit for our naivete'. Four-hundred and one days ago the 1AD families looked to Bosnia and Kosovo as the model for deployments, and expected a six month absence. I was the pessimist, predicting it would be 9 months. How wrong we were.

But perhaps that was a blessing. Had we known from the outset this deployment would stretch beyond a year, well, I'm guessing the pessimism and depression may have been much deeper and more rampant than it actually was.

That may be the big difference between the 1AD deployment and those who came later, like the 1st Infantry Division and the 1st Cav. They have no illusions of a short stay.

Monday, June 14, 2004


I got carried away with today being day 400, the significance of the date blew by me until just now.

The United States Army is 229 years old today, thanks to the second Continental Congress.

Younger than most nations armies...but second to none.

Oh...and as Sarah reminds us...its Flag Day too. Give a salute to Old Glory today.

Meet the Press host Tim Russert foresees a bloody summer in Iraq as insurgents try to kill off officials of any new government-in-waiting.

"So, too, in Afghanistan," he told Rich Kellman just before Sunday's Meet the Press broadcast. "The warlords are still very much in control of much of the country. The opium production is sky-high, turning the country, in effect, into a narco state," he says.
Who the hell cares what Tim Russert has to say on the subject? He's a talking head on TV...he's supposed to ask the questions. What makes him an authority? Why does the press believe that his opinion is newsworthy?

The so-called press has forgotten everything it ever knew about true journalism.

Iraq will impose visa restrictions as part of its campaign to bolster internal security after the country regains its sovereignty at the end of this month, the interior minister said Sunday.
"Hi everybody. I'm new to this business, so you have to cope with me!"
With this casual introduction, Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar, the first president of Iraq ever to visit Washington, launched into a news conference at the National Press Club after meeting President George W. Bush and other world leaders at last week's G8 summit in Georgia.

Politicians and analysts alike agree that Mr Yawar - an interim appointee whose term will last until elections early next year - made a strong impression in his first foray into international diplomacy...

A Sunni with a strong tribal base, who more recently worked as a telecoms executive in Saudi Arabia, Mr Yawar has been critical of the US failure to ensure security in Iraq.

But standing alongside George W. Bush at the Sea Island summit, Mr Yawar warmly thanked the US president and people for their support, and affirmed their common goals of establishing a "free, democratic, federal Iraq; a country that is a source of stability to the Middle East".

In Washington, he bristled at areporter's suggestion that the caretaker government would exercise only "alleged" sovereignty after the June 30 handover of authority.
And good for you for registering your displeasure at a reporters bias disguised as a question!
For the medics of the 31st Combat Support Hospital there is added torment. This hospital not only treats American soldiers. It treats Iraqis, too. Many are innocent civilians. Others, however, are enemy prisoners of war — lying in beds next to the Americans they were trying to kill. It is an ethical conundrum of immense proportions.

"Even if they try to hurt us, we still have to take care of them," explains Delgado. "That's what we do. Even though we're trying to help them and they're laying there on the bed, they yell at you and they look at you like with a mean face, like, 'What are you doing.' I had one the other day trying to hit us when he was all hurt and we were trying to help him. That's just hard."
Isn't that, in some ways, a metaphor for the larger issues in Iraq? Saddam was the cancer, which has now been eliminated, but the establishment of democracy is akin to the painful physical therapy required to restore the patient to full health. Yet, though it results in less than full functioning, some would reject the therapy citing it being "easier just to go on as before."

Easier, yes. Better, no.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday that Iraqis must be willing to kill their own insurgents for order to be restored in the post-Saddam era.

It's going to come as quite a surprise to those who haven't been paying attention.
With less than three weeks to go before sovereignty returns to Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi officials are saying that much of the transfer has already happened.

The new interim Iraqi government has been formed, the old Governing Council has been dissolved and the majority of the ministries, including some crucial ones such as oil, transportation and foreign affairs, have been turned over to Iraqi management.

Walid Saleh, planning director for the Water Resources Ministry, said his ministry used to be controlled by a team of six U.S. water experts. Now, Saleh said, these advisers have become "consultants."

"They work for us," Saleh explained. "They are very good technicians and they give us expertise. But we make the decisions."

Yet the process...provides the clearest preview yet of what the U.S.-Iraqi dynamic will be like after June 30.

On that day, Paul Bremer, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq, will most likely present a written declaration to the chief of Iraq's judicial council recognizing the nation's sovereignty and formally ending the occupation. After that, the two countries will resume diplomatic relations...

U.S. advisers say they have no more major decrees to issue. All the substantial political changes have been put in place. Several senior advisers to the Iraqi ministries are even leaving the country before June 30 because they say their work is done.

"June 1st was the big event," said one U.S. official, referring to when the new interim Iraqi government was announced.

Marc Sievers, a State Department official and senior adviser to the Iraqi foreign affairs ministry, said Iraqis recently chose diplomats to serve in the nation's 47 embassies. "We were shown the list, we weren't asked," he said. "That's a sovereign decision."

One way to look at this: One who previously believed he could bully his way to the top with his own "army" now seems to accept the only way to the top is through the democratic process.

That looks like progress to me.
Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is planning to establish a political party that could participate in democratic elections next year.

Qais al-Khazali, a spokesman for radical cleric, made the announcement today in the Iraqi holy city of Al-Najaf.
Iraqi authorities say they have broken up a gang that has been selling ancient artifacts illegally dug up from the area of the ancient city of Babylon.

Four men were arrested in a sting operation early last week, and hundreds of items ranging from statuettes to bowls to tablets with cuneiform writing were recovered, Gen. Muhssin Ali, a senior official in Iraq's Interior Ministry, said Sunday.

Archaeologists and art lovers worldwide have been concerned about the disappearance of Iraq's antiquities into the black market during the U.S. occupation...

Iraqi police were tipped off to the gang, which was dealing in freshly unearthed items. The police then posed as buyers and tape-recorded the transaction with hidden microphones.

A reporter talks about...well, nothing really. But a nice little story anyway.
Very dark, very eerie, very alone, very much in a war zone, albeit in a forward operating base that does have pretty tight security out front, but less on the sides and rear.

That's when a pack of wild dogs came after me, barking and snapping and generally being feral.

When I say a pack, I mean two. Fairly small dogs, actually. But still.

I scrambled up on a Humvee, cutting the nellymuffins out of my shin, and surveyed my options. Then I told the two little mutts to "Get the bleep out of my bleeping way or I'd bleep their bleep," in my deepest voice, hopped down, and went on, eventually finding the hovel we call home.

Day 400 of CPT Patti's deployment.

Let's let that sink in a minute.



F-O-U-R H-U-N-D-R-E-D.

One wonders: How much does one change in 400 days? What does 400 days apart do to a marriage?

What does she miss that I haven't thought of?

How does 400 days in a war zone affect one's outlook? How about 400 days spent worrying about one who is in a war zone?

But then...perhaps I think too much. I reread this entry from December 30th.
And I learned that spending 8 months without my wife allows my head to fill with notions and ideas that have no basis in reality. I was very concerned about what changes I would see in her, wrought by so long under such stress and conditions. I had imagined all manner of awful possibilities, and attempted to prepare for them.

But there is no appreciable change in her. If anything she may have lost a fraction of the presumption of good in all people - yet she is still far, far from being as cynical as most folks I know. So I guess I learned that the core of who she is is solid...she is who she is, and I'm just delighted about it.

I learned that being married to Time magazine's Person of the Year is a very, very cool feeling.

I learned that my real life with her is so staggeringly superior to my on-line life as a blogger that it is very doubtful I will continue to do this once she safely returns to me.

And finally, I learned that my cousin is right. You just don't forget how to kiss.
Let's hope.