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February 13, 2006
Saluting the 3rd ACRBy Greyhawk
Via email from a 3rd ACR family member, a letter from the Mayor of Tall 'Afar, Iraq to the men and women of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and their families.
In the Name of God the Compassionate and MercifulMembers of the Regiment are now returning home to Ft Carson, Colorado.
The above letter was forwarded to me by Scott Ott, perhaps best known on the internet for his site ScrappleFace. Those who are familiar with his work know he's one of the finest news satirists around. But recently he put up a rare non-satire post - a tribute to his grandmother, the woman who raised him. Her name was Jessica Rachel McMaster, and if you recognize that last name it's because it's the same as the commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. Her husband is his uncle.
News such as the letter above moves rather quickly among (rightfully) proud family members. Scott and I have been friends for some time. He knew that letter contained a story that needed to be told, and I'm honored he chose to forward it on to me.
As he did this picture:
That's Col McMaster in Tall Afar with (from left to right) Mayor Najim, Col Khalid (Mosul Emergency Battalion) and BG Saba (Tall Afar Police Chief), among others.
I've had a few people ask if that's the same McMaster who led the attack in the Battle of 73 Easting and wrote the book Dereliction of Duty : Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam.
The answer is yes.
A few other folks have questioned the authenticity of the letter. I suppose that's to be expected. All I can offer by way of response is this, sent to me today and independent of Scott's contribution
This letter is not a fake it was given to my husband the commander of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment. This is the second letter written .The first was written to GWB and Gen Casey asking if the 3ACR could stay and finish what they started. Why is it so hard to believe that the American soldier could have done so much for Iraq and in turn the people of Iraq? The Iraqi general who served along side our great men and women also sent a letter:I'll close by adding that one person who didn't seek to publicize this in any way is Col McMaster. But such stories need to be told.
Now that the authenticity of the letter is less in doubt, the naysaying has taken on a different form - "Well, okay then, he was somehow forced to write it", or variations on that theme.
You can't reason anyone out of an opinon they were never reasoned into, (and if you're arguing that you know Iraq better than the people there then you are indeed without reason) but I suppose some background is in order. Here's a quick year-plus in review:
Fast forward one year, to September 2005.
Then check this video update from January of this year. Watch the Colonel in the video above and you'll see a guy who isn't seeking glory; he's forthright in acknowledging the contributions of many who made the events of the past year possible, from his troops to their Iraqi allies.
It's not surprising that the letter was written.
It's disappointing, but absolutely not surprising, that many folks can't believe it. Search for Tall Afar on the New York Times web page and you'll discover the following headlines are on the only stories there this past month that mention the town:
This Washington Post piece is a bit better. It's getting accolades from the blogosphere - but it's flawed. The story attempts a bit too hard to single out Col McMaster as the primary factor in the success in Tall 'Afar.
Even now, McMaster said, he understands that his success is "fragile." The city's mayor, Najim Abdullah Jabouri, is unhappy that McMaster and his unit are leaving Iraq this month. "A surgeon doesn't leave in the middle of the operation!" the mayor said intently to McMaster over a recent lunch of lamb kabobs and bread. He waved his finger under the colonel's nose. "The doctor should finish the job he started."No word of any letter, and we're left to ponder the bitter disappointment of the mayor betrayed.
But this will be the argument put forth in the same press that ignored the 3rd ACR this past year: They benefitted from an exceptional commander, their success can't be duplicated, or even maintained after their departure. I can save you the trouble of reading their reports in the upcoming year - they will assure us they were right.
Stop by here from time to time and you might hear different. Or not. Since we're the guys with the most to lose it behooves us to tell the truth. (Here's our latest week in review, if you're interested. And here's the latest daily roundup. And there's always something new on the front page.)
This story isn't about Col McMaster - but it's only right to give him the final word. From his January press briefing, to the reporters at the Pentagon:
MR. WHITMAN: Colonel, we've reached the end of our time, but I wanted to give you an opportunity to have the last word, if there's something you wanted to tell us.
Posted by Greyhawk / February 13, 2006 9:49 PM | Permalink
Mayor of Tall 'Afar, Iraq writes a letter for the men and women of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and Read More
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Saluting the 3rd ACR Greyhawk Via email from a family member, a letter from the Mayor of Tall 'Afar, Iraq to the men and women of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and their families. In the Name of God Read More
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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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