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November 8, 2004
The Forecast Calls For FogBy Greyhawk
The fog of war, of course.
Expect everything you read everywhere about Fallujah for the next few days to be wrong. It's certainly not true - some things will inevitably (and inevitably accidentally) be right - but start with that basic premise of wrong and you'll have a good understanding of the very fluid situation there. (Spare me the links to web sites of experts - I've seen them. Thanks.)
That said, the past weekend was an ugly one, as insurgents launched rather feeble yet deadly attacks outside Fallujah, ostensibly to draw off the impending assault. These accomplished nothing of any tactical military value but did give sympathetic reporters the ability to publish sentiments similar to this: "Widespread lethal attacks prove that even as coalition forces mass for the inevitable battle in Fallujah, control of the broader situation remains elusive for the Americans and their allies". The attacks have no other purpose save to provide those lines to the media, without whose support the insurgency in Iraq would fall.
That same media tends to ignore the insurgent attacks that fail; witness this CENTCOM news release:
CAMP RAMADI, Iraq ? An Army unit assigned to I Marine Expeditionary Force, discovered and defused an explosive-laden youth center in Ramadi Nov. 4, which was rigged by insurgents to detonate and potentially kill dozens of Iraqi children. They also discovered more than two tons of explosives hidden in a mosque.
A Marine officer near Fallujah describes similar atrocities in an email home:
The enemy inside the town have come to fight and kill Americans. Nothing will sate their bloodlust and hatred other than to kill everyone of us or at least die trying. It is hard to fathom as a Westerner as rational thought would dictate that we will only be here for a relatively short blip in their history and while we are here, billions of dollars in investments will pour in and opportunity that is beyond comprehension will open up for anyone willing to work. This is not Kansas and this enemy does not think like that.
Iraqi troops backed by U.S. Marines have seized Falluja's main hospital, the first objective in a push to retake the city from insurgents, hours after Iraq's interim prime minister declared a 60-day state of emergency across most of the nation.
Expect a different sort of backlash and outcry to result from that action.
Meanwhile, far from Iraq, Kofi Annan times his actions to match the opening shots in the long-anticipated campaign:
Annan's warning, contained in a letter sent Sunday, has angered some officials here.
"This is an issue for the government of Iraq," said British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry. "It's easy for those not in Iraq to underestimate the overwhelming concern the Iraqis have for security. There cannot be an area as big as Fallouja which is allowed to be a base for terrorism."
Some diplomats said Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi was "furious" when he received the letter. Iraq's new U.N. ambassador immediately sought to meet with Annan to argue that the U.N. was interfering. Allawi recently criticized Annan for not doing enough to help Iraq prepare for elections. The world body's officials say Iraq is not secure enough for more U.N. workers to help organize the nationwide vote.
Here's Lt. Col. David G. Bellon again, explaining Fallujah from the view of one US Marine on the ground, on the scene:
Now, their own ignorance and arrogance will be their undoing. They believe that they can hold Fallujah. In fact, they have come from all over to be part of its glorious defense. I cannot describe the atmosphere that exists in the Regiment right now. Of course the men are nervous but I think they are more nervous that we will not be allowed to clean the rats nest out and instead will be forced to continue operating as is.
Annan's motives remain unclear.
Posted by Greyhawk / November 8, 2004 12:39 PM | Permalink
Nov. 10 - Mudville Gazette is back up and even though Greyhawk says The Forecast calls for Fog (of War) he cuts through some of that fog decisively with reports on the kind of "insurgent" attacks on Iraqi civilians that... Read More
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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