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February 11, 2006
Meanwhile, Back at the FrontBy Greyhawk
Blame it on the Rain edition.
Yesterday we looked at the LA Times profile of Mike Yon. The Times seemed a bit dismissive of his efforts - his total numbers of readers being far, far below the figures for big media sites like... the LA Times.
We say they're right!
By himself, Yon represents no threat to the LA Times. He doesn't have the inside scoop on the Lakers, offers no clue as to whether his readers will need an umbrella tomorrow, and offers no advice whatsoever for the lovelorn.So it's time for our roundup of one week of developments in Iraq - and the home front. Much of this week's edition is brought to you by military bloggers. Often dismissed for their "soda straw" perspective, we think that applies to mainstream media reporters, too - but that enough such views offer a fairly complete picture.
News? We got it.
Ashura is a Shi'ite Muslim holy day commemorating the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Mohammed. Killed in battle near what is now the Iraqi city Karbala, for many years Saddam Hussein suppressed the observation of the day. Restrictions ended with the US invasion.
But in 2004 - the first year after the fall of Saddam, multiple terrorist attacks killed 180 people gathered to observe the day of mourning. Last year another 50 were killed.
The Iraqi government has worked very hard to ensure the safety of pilgrims this year. Last year, there were many coordinated attacks on celebrants. Keep your eyes on the news today - how Iraqi security forces deal with today’s events will be used by both pro and anti-war pundits as a yardstick to measure progress or lack of progress in this nation.
Of course, you probably heard how it all turned out on the local news, right? If not, click here.
We've had thunderstorms and rain that have soaked much of Iraq, and most of the areas I am in are a foot deep in mud.Sports - you bet:
So, Im in my sleep coma and life is good. Then the alarm clock from hell part two sounds off at 0130 Monday morning. The Super Bowl pre game is starting and I asked myself, self why am I getting up?? The Cowboys aren’t playing, the Broncos aren’t playing (the two greatest teams that exist-in that order I might add) so why get up? Knowing I could watch the game and enjoy a cold haji Pepsi and cigar was a good enough excuse to get up and check it out.And more...
Here are a couple of long-time milbloggers enjoying a bit of good natured "one-upmanship". As a bonus, there's an Army-Navy angle too.
In Iraq, you define your status by where you fit in a hierarchy of suck. Paradoxically, those who have it best inhabit the bottom of the ladder -- those poor souls in Kuwait or Qatar or Bahrain who get the combat patch and tax-free income without the risk of being in Iraq. Next up on the ladder are the "Fobbits". These are soldiers who live and work on the big FOBs like Speicher, never to leave the wire nor be placed in any real danger. Although the large basecamps do occasionally take incoming rocket or mortar rounds, it's rare that those inflict any casualties. Fobbits get to live in relative luxury, whether at Speicher, LSA Anaconda or in Baghdad. In short, they earn the perquisites of a combat tour with none of the risk; the worst hardship for them is being away from home.Which has Ed at Hardtack and Havoc a bit vexed:
I Am Still A Fobbit...Aren't I?Read the whole thing - Ed's just moved in with his new Iraqi pals. I think you'll want to visit often.
That discussion reminds me of this blast from the past:
All in good fun, from long before the Iraq war. (The first Iraq war, you young whippersnappers...) But I must grant the last word on Fobbits to Phil:
Nonetheless, these people don't get to see the same Iraq that other soldiers do, which in my opinion is too bad. Two of the things I like most about my job advising police are the ability to interact with Iraqis, and to see the fruits of my labor on a daily or weekly basis.
For another update on the weather, here's Sandgram:
I once wrote about the hazards you face while out here on Combat duty. You worry about the rockets and stuff, but it’s the simple things that can really hurt you around the base. Take for example the rain.Yes, take the rain... please.
Every deployment I've ever been on has seen days like that. (Korea comes to mind.) I'm sure every remote outpost through history has been the same. It's one of the reasons this blog is called Mudville.
With the FOB unsafe, it's best to go outside the wire - if you can.
I cant prove it, but Im beginning to think that about half of our time is spent waiting to get permission to go outside the wire.Funny, the things Milbloggers complain about.
Like the weather:
It's raining, it's pouring...Boy do I hate this place!Okay, rain or shine - here's a chance to escape the confines of the FOB:
A couple days ago my squad had to take some of our replacements to another camp through the "Red Zone" as we like to call it. These guys are fresh off the plane and this is their first time outside the International Zone (or Green Zone), so it is kind of a big deal for them. You can see the slight nervousness in all of them - we all had the same thing, but my squad has run this particular route probably 30 or 40 times and we know it to be a very safe road. I am (or was) the lead driver in all of our convoys, which I enjoy and miss very much.
Okay, weather changes fast in these days of global warming. Is it still raining?
Yeah – it’s still wet here. I am down to 2 pairs of soaking boots and a pair of flip-flops...Of course, rain and the Air Force aren't the only things to complain about:
You have to love VIP’s, those Very Important People who cause all sorts of chaos around the area as they just stop by for lunch and some “I love Me” pictures with the Marines etc. I received a call from higher headquarters somewhere out in the green zone that we had 6 congressmen arriving who just wanted to pop in say hi and then go tour another base. I said, “that’s fantastic, give them my number, I’ll say hi and they can stay there with you!” He just laughed at me “Nice try bubba, they are coming to you, I’m tired of dealing with them, and so I’m passing this monkey to your back.”Which is why some folks don't mind getting off the FOB:
As I’ve stated many times in this blog, I am a communications officer. My job on this deployment is to keep my Battalion connected through various means. I advise the Commander and staff on all things Signal. Still, the Commander feels it is important for even his staff officers and NCOs to get out and participate in operations. This doesn’t happen all the time. We are usually highly engaged in organizing our sections, planning, and prioritizing the workload. But some days, when asked, I go out and help where I can.There's just no escaping it...
This is the rainy season in Iraq. When it rains it pours all the low areas fill up and the water does not soak in as fast as the soil is like clay.And you'll have to forgive me, but I've been setting up this story all the way:
Iraqi, U.S. troops aid flood victims in Iraq
Think milblogs are one-dimensional? Here's an interesting post from a Marine in iraq:
The two individuals whose photographs appear today, Michael Phillips of The Wall Street Journal and Hollywood documentary film maker Pat Dollard, were my battle buddies while at Ar Ramadi's Observation Post Horea. These two gentlemen, though fundamentally different creatively and politically, have fearlessly shared the common lot of the Marines here in Iraq. Mike was here on his fourth visit and Pat his third. Mike, a seasoned photo-journalist, works diligently to maintain the aloof impartiality of a judge even while enduring all the dangers and hardships faced by the Marines he covers.
The guy that wrote that is also the guy who drew this.
"I am the artist in residence for the United States Marine Corps. I'm currently deployed in Iraq creating a body of artwork reflecting the experience of fellow Marines engaged in the War on Terrorism."Good stuff.
So far that's News, sports, weather, and an art department.
Now for our Travel section
During a delay on a recent mission, I was able to visit the ancient city of Ur. It is located just outside of the city of Nasiriyah. What a neat place. Other than it being the birthplace of Abraham (revered as a patriarch in the Bible, Torah and Koran) and the starting point of his migration westward to Palestine in about 1900 B.C., I really didn’t know much about the city . But, the tour guide there, Muhsen, gave us an informative, close up tour of this amazing place.And crime reporting, from CSI Baghdad:
Today I visited the MCU HQ in Baghdad. The MCU is equivalent to the FBI. They solve major crimes such as kidnapping, murder, terrorist attacks, and narcotics. Part of our Brigade's mission is to train these guys so that they can be more responsive and effective in solving crimes.Human Interest:
Packages for the Abu Ghraib elementary school children arrived...And personals
In the past few weeks, I have been tossing around the idea with Kristen about putting in an active duty packet under the new "seamless transfer". Basically I put in a packet to the National Guard Bureau and they let me know which jobs I hold that the Army would take me back in.Arrivals
Still not to my final destination. In fact, I now don't know what my final destination will be. I am currently doing the WAITEX at the Regional Support Unit (RSU) that supports the Garrison Support Unit (GSU) I am supposed to dispense questionable advice too. The problem is the RSU is still a BSU which is what we called GSUs last week....and departures:
Recently there have been several comments from people who do not necessarily support the troops, or who just believe we should not be here. That is fine. It was citizen soldiers like me who guarnteed you your right to speak your mind by fighting for freedom and democracy since the Revolutionary War.And that's just a few from one week.
Peace Prevails In Iraq As Shiites Observe Holy DayUSA Today
BAGHDAD — Iraq's largest political alliance has narrowed its field of prime minister candidates to two.The London Financial Times:
US Colonel Sees Cut In Fighters Coming To Iraq From Syria(Okay, so they tried to make it a bad news story. Old habits die hard.)
ON a Baghdad street last month, one of the darker visions of Iraq's future suddenly materialized.It's almost getting hard to tell these guys apart from the reporters for Stars and Stripes
TAL AFAR, Iraq — In a region conquered and shaped by a succession of history’s most fearsome armies, this centuries-old city was fast becoming an example of how not to fight a modern- day insurgency.
Sunni Tribes Turn Against JihadisThat's an act of raw courage, as these next stories make clear.
Sunni Leader Killed For Joining Ceasefire TalksAnd The Washington Post:
Gunmen Kill Head Of Fallujah City Council
But for each story like that, there are stories like this
Iraqi Neighbors Join Together To Stay SafeAnd with each story like that, there's hope for the future.
Damp In Numbers But Not In FervorBlame it on the rain.
Of course, I'm told the Swedes have a saying: "There's no bad weather, only bad clothes".
Soldiers Chafe At Extra Weight Of Body ArmorBut they better not lose the pieces they don't use:
A former soldier injured in Iraq is getting a refund after being forced to pay for his missing body armor vest, which medics destroyed because it was soaked with his blood, officials said Wednesday.Refunded - good. But it was a non-story from the get-go. A paperwork snafu in a world where stories of GIs selling armor on ebay earlier in the war led to a program of accountability that made such an event inevitable.
In fact, Rebrook's father explains that his son just didn't want to wait for the paperwork to be completed:
Edward Rebrook said his son would have had to stay in the Army, continue to live on base at Fort Hood and wait possibly weeks while those forms were processed. Instead, he chose to pay cash for the missing items and get out of the Army.Speaking of wounded troops (and rain):
Army Sgt. Orlando Gill wasn't going to let a little rain keep him off his snowboard Friday. After all, he didn't let losing part of a leg keep him from living his life.
For A General, A Tough Mission: Building The ArmyHis toughest opponent? Perhaps it's the US Army:
Davidson was 19 when he met with a recruiter in July 2004 to discuss joining the Army.But he's in now:
A man whose tattoo led the Army to reject him as a recruit--and who spent $1,000 in an attempt to erase it--has learned he can join the service under a newly revised tattoo policy.And that's our happy ending for the week.
Posted by Greyhawk / February 11, 2006 11:28 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.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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