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April 14, 2006
Meanwhile, Back at the BaseBy Greyhawk
Last week, news sources outside the US were abuzz with this report:
Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the most feared commander in the Iraqi insurgency, may have been forced to surrender his leadership by rival groups, angered by his tactics and the interference of foreign fighters in the Iraqi conflict.But if you believe Washington Post staff writer Thomas Ricks' report earlier this week, al Qaeda's front man in Iraq was never really much of a threat:
Some senior intelligence officers believe Zarqawi's role may have been overemphasized by the propaganda campaign, which has included leaflets, radio and television broadcasts, Internet postings and at least one leak to an American journalist.The story includes background on Zarqawi:
There has been a running argument among specialists in Iraq about how much significance to assign to Zarqawi, who spent seven years in prison in Jordan for attempting to overthrow the government there. After his release he spent time in Pakistan and Afghanistan before moving his base of operations to Iraq. He has been sentenced to death in absentia for planning the 2002 assassination of U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley in Jordan. U.S. authorities have said he is responsible for dozens of deaths in Iraq and have placed a $25 million bounty on his head.Ricks also tells the result of the alledged US propaganda campaign:
Officials said one indication that the campaign worked is that over the past several months, there have been reports that Iraqi tribal insurgents have attacked Zarqawi loyalists, especially in the culturally conservative province of Anbar. "What we're finding is indeed the people of al-Anbar -- Fallujah and Ramadi, specifically -- have decided to turn against terrorists and foreign fighters," Maj. Gen Rick Lynch, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said in February.The Washington Post seems a bit outraged at this.
Today the New York Times reports an attempt to rally the faithful:
Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant has released an Internet video calling on Iraqi insurgents to remain strong in the fight against Americans and praising the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who directs Al Qaeda's operations in Iraq.And the Washington Times has some interesting news:
Zarqawi, Al Qaeda Are Heading Out, U.S. General SaysGeneral Vines also offers some intriguing coments about Iran's role in Iraq - visit the link.
That story also includes this:
Gen. Vines' statement came as news broke that coalition and Iraqi forces had killed an associate of Osama bin Laden's during an early morning raid near Abu Ghraib about two weeks ago.In other dead terrorist news,
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, April 13 — A senior figure in Al Qaeda who was accused of taking part in the bombings of the United States Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 was killed late Wednesday night in a Pakistani airstrike on a compound in the region along the Afghanistan border, two senior security officials said Thursday.
Posted by Greyhawk / April 14, 2006 6:14 PM | Permalink
I hope this news is true. Al Qaeda in Iraq and its presumed leader, Abu Musab Zarqawi, have conceded strategic defeat and are on their way out of the country, a top U.S. military official contended yesterday. The group’s failure to disrup... Read More
While I certainly hope this to be true, we cannot underestimate the durability of the insurgency and the tenacity of al Qaeda to hold on a while longer. If anything, now is the time to redouble efforts to stamp out the insurgency and al Qaeda element... 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...)
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