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May 21, 2006
The Battle for Tall AfarBy Greyhawk
Dear Greyhawk,That's great to hear. Mayor Najim was in Colorado Springs this weekend - visiting the home base of the 3rd ACR.
Ever since we first published Mayor Najim's letter to the troops of the 3rd ACR his city has been under attack by journalists (who either view it as an unrepeatable, isolated success or as a failure touted as success) and terrorists alike.
Shortly after it's appearance, Washington Post reporter Tom Ricks declared "Yes, the mayor gave me a copy of the letter when I had lunch with him. But one thing Americans have done in Iraq is take things too much at face value." And the Post never printed the story.
But to their great credit, the New York Post investigated the story, going straight to the source:
March 13, 2006 -- WASHINGTON - An Iraqi mayor says he was motivated to write a letter praising the performance of U.S. troops in his city because he believes the American public is not getting the full story about the "heroic" work they are doing.And ultimately President Bush discussed the letter in a speech on Iraq:
One of the most eloquent is the Mayor of Tal Afar, a courageous Iraqi man named Najim. Mayor Najim arrived in the city in the midst of the al Qaeda occupation, and he knows exactly what our troops have helped accomplish. He calls our men and women in uniform "lion-hearts," and in a letter to the troopers of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, he spoke of a friendship sealed in blood and sacrifice. As Mayor Najim had this to say to the families of our fallen: "To the families of those who have given their holy blood for our land, we all bow to you in reverence and to the souls of your loved ones. Their sacrifice was not in vain. They are not dead, but alive, and their souls [are] hovering around us every second of every minute. They will not be forgotten for giving their precious lives. They have sacrificed that which is most valuable. We see them in the smile of every child, and in every flower growing in this land. Let America, their families, and the world be proud of their sacrifice for humanity and life." America is proud of that sacrifice, and we're proud to have allies like Mayor Najim on our side in the fight for freedom.The speech enraged journalists and terrorists more so than the original letter. A Newsweek headline asking "Is This a Strategy For Success? Washington's good news in Iraq isn't quite what it seems" was typical of the coverage. No one said the battle for Tall Afar was over - but if you pretend they did so you can argue convincingly that it's not true. For although terrorist activity has been generally ineffective there, journalists aren't the only ones outraged by the courage demonstrated by Mayor Najim:
But though it doesn't grab headlines like terrorist attacks do, progress goes on:At least 17 civilians, including women and children, were killed late today by a suicide truck bombing in Tal Afar, a northwestern Iraqi city, according to President Jalal Talabani's Kurdish political party.Which is exactly why one bomb can be so effective there. That bit about what the President said in March was probably included in the al Qaeda press release announcing the blast.
TAL AFAR, Iraq, May 2, 2006 — Located high above the city, in what is known as “The Castle,” Iraqi police are receiving much needed assistance in their fight against terrorism. Nestled safely behind the wall of this castle is the Tal Afar Joint Communications Center, a joint environment where Iraqi police, Iraqi army and coalition forces work together to monitor the city’s police frequencies as well as their power and utilities systems....at the cost of lives of Iraqis and Americans alike. And this weekend - with little media fanfare - that bond of freedom was acknowledged in Colorado:
COLORADO SPRINGS - An Iraqi mayor stood before troops lined up on the lawn at Fort Carson on Friday morning and said only two words in English.I wish I could say "the end" - but the battle goes on.
(Those interested in the strategy, tactics, etc. are encouraged to visit here.)
Posted by Greyhawk / May 21, 2006 2:48 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.
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