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October 23, 2004
Intensities in Tent CityBy Greyhawk
A cool dawn in Baghdad this morning as the temperature fell below 60. Since that's 50 degrees lower than our highs a couple weeks ago it feels cold. Caught a bit of the news on Armed Forces Network TV, delivering via satellite a national news show from CNN. The weather is on, and there's a Doppler radar map of the US, the whole country's weather on display in real time. We're years away from that in Iraq, of course (they're years away from that in Europe for that matter) so for now all we have is it feels cold (rare) or it feels hot (usually) or sometimes I can't see my hand for all this blowing sand... or I sure hope that 'boom' was thunder... (It usually isn't.)
That's our Doppler weather radar.
Speaking of chill, an IED (Improvised Explosive Device, for the slow kids) was found on the road between here and there the other day. I know this because an announcement came over the public address system: "Attention in the camp, until further notice travel to there is not allowed." No further explanation was offered, but we're in the loop in my little corner of here, so we knew why.
Earlier we'd sent some troops to there - before the boom boom was discovered. We'd later learned they were caught in the traffic jam on the return trip. During the wait they familiarized themselves with Iraqi radio ("Their beats are as up-to-date as ours", I'm informed by way of de-brief). They had plenty of time to make an informed decision as the device was safely removed and taken elsewhere for analysis and eventually a controlled detonation. That's the fate of the majority of IEDs - discovered, de-fused, destroyed.
A fact I'm sure all Americans are as familiar with as they are the state of Baghdad's hip-hop scene. "Another IED Fails to Kill Anyone" being such a common headline above pictures of smiling Iraqi school kids these days. I'll link an example when I find one.
All day every day we hear distant booms. Nine times out of ten (make that 99 times out of 100) it's a controlled detonation of captured or surrendered ammunition. In Sadr city the truce and arms turn in has been (from first indications) a massive success. Ordnance is being removed by the truckload, and it's the real deal, not junk. All this means that either Sadr is serious about "going straight" and pursuing a political route to power or that he has so much stuff laying around that he can afford to hand in a couple tons.
But even collecting the stuff has it's dangers. Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's recent visit to Sadr City was preceded by a mortar attack - and the round actually landed in the football stadium where the collected ammo was stored.
Lt Dave Swanson of the US Army's 1st Cavalry Division, surveying the items that had been given back in return for cash, said: "These are RPG rounds. These are 60, 82 and 120mm mortars.
Is it safe? Good question. No is the only answer. Mortar rounds fired at piles of surrendered mortar rounds pretty much captures the madness of the situation. This might be good advice: If an 'insurgent' surrenders his grenade make sure the pin is in before you accept it."
Meanwhile, probes and jabs continue in Falujah:
The U.S. military has arrested a "senior leader" in the network run by Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, along with five others during overnight raids in the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, officials said Saturday.
So Ramadan has thus far been relatively quiet. Attacks on ING forces, Iraqi Christian churches, and a couple of explosions in the International Zone being notable exceptions. And of course, one event is sufficient escalation if it involves you - ask Questing Cat about Ramadan and you'll get the answer from his perspective,
You want to know the most terrible moment of a disaster? It is that split second when it begins. When all of a sudden there is a bright flash, that is nothing special except that it is the big break with reality to the f----d up world you are about to begin. A split second of bright light, and for the briefest second, there is no thought in your head, everything in you braces for....for what?
Which is exactly what everyone's trying to be ready for here - for what. But the truth is the month has not lived up to expectations - yet. Is this just the calm before the storm? Who knows. But there's an eye on the calendar and tension in the air, an alert readiness that leads to discovery of IEDs and survival of wounded troops and captures of insurgents and peace treaties with would-be messiahs negotiated at the point of a gun.
The bad guys could be saving their best shots for those final few days before the elections in the States. I've seen more than a few stateside pundits tired of the political campaigns counting the days 'til November 3rd, but I think no one would like to see the occasion pass more than the Iraqi citizens and American GI's waiting for that one brief flash...
Posted by Greyhawk / October 23, 2004 3:37 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
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