Greetings! You are reading an article from The Mudville Gazette. To reach the front page, with all the latest news and views, click the logo above or "main" below. Thanks for stopping by!
May 6, 2006
Progress Report: IraqBy Greyhawk
As this story from the Mideast Stars and Stripes makes clear, the "readiness" of Iraqi troops to take responsibility for security is difficult to define:
MOSUL, Iraq — The sun had barely risen above the concrete blast walls of police headquarters Thursday and Col. Abedul al-Kareem Mohammed Khalaf was already logging the day’s first terrorist arrest and chastising three young lieutenants for letting another evil-doer escape.On the one hand, shortfalls in desired performance by troops. On the other, a determined commander. American military veterans would acknowledge familiarity with the situation, as they would with one in which an unprepared commander was placed over capable troops. These are universal scenarios.
But that snapshot isn't the full story:
As the Iraqi police chief of operations for Nineveh province, Khalaf helped direct more than 1,500 Iraqi police and army units during the massive cordon-and -search operation under way in Mosul.Iraqi police officers and soldiers are learning to work as a team in Mosul. Tactics employed:
As Iraqi army units secure intersections and bridges within the city, Iraqi police conduct searches on most residences, but not all. U.S. advisers call the searches “passive searches” and say they’ve hit roughly 60 percent to 70 percent of the homes in a given neighborhood.Perhaps the most significant indicator of optimism, the response of citizens grown tired of chaos:
“Already, civilians are stepping forward with information,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Lucas, 27, of the 549th Military Police Company. “Things are quiet and the locals like it that way.”But that “...million dollar question" lingers. "How much longer do they need our support to function here?" It's a question asked throughout the AOR - and beyond. There's uncertainty about the answer, but cautious optimism evident in this Los Angeles Times account of the decision to delay deploying a unit to Iraq:
Brigade's Iraq Mission Put Off To Assess NeedSome numbers:
In late December, the Defense Department announced it was canceling the 1st Brigade's deployment and sending the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Armored Division to Kuwait as a quick reaction force. Those announcements cut the number of troops now in Iraq from 138,000 to 133,000.Though not the only determining factor in troop levels, turnover of responsibilty to Iraqi forces is undoubtedly the most significant decision point. In a speech ignored by national media last January President Bush announced a "goal of having the Iraqis in control of more territory than the coalition by the end of 2006." Also ignored by the media, Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli stated in March that "...by this summer, about 75 percent of Iraq will be in -- that battlespace will be owned by Iraqi units."
This may be the biggest story of the year, but it's also a complex one that will play out over a long, slow period. (A "long, hot summer", if you prefer.) Much like attempting to follow the plot of a movie by examining a few still frames, it will be difficult to grasp in full from the occasional reports received from a media that tends to be "miserly" in reporting progress, and reluctant to convey "good news" at all. The unglamorous hard work will be ignored, while the violent punctuations will grab headlines.
Violence will continue in Iraq, but Iraqi troops will increasingly respond and bear the brunt of combat. As they do, we can expect a significant upswing in pronouncements of American "failure" - and a surge in increasingly ironic claims that the US doesn't have enough "boots on the ground". Too many parties have invested themselves - politically, emotionally, and spiritually - in terrorist victory in Iraq.
Posted by Greyhawk / May 6, 2006 12:50 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.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
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.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com