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December 21, 2006
January, 2006By Greyhawk
In the blogosphere news seems to be "old" after about 15 minutes. But here at Mudville, we think the passage of time often reveals even more about a story than was immediately clear when it was new. With that in mind, it's time to take a look back at the year that was, as we reported it here. Like me, you might rediscover some forgotten stories here, or see some that you can't believe are already a year old. You might even find something you missed the first time around, back in January, 2006.
Of 16,472 wounded, 7,625 were listed as unable to return to duty within 72 hours.Most stories simply cite "x thousand casualties" (or "x thousand maimed") without explaining that most "victims" were back on duty a few hours later.
One of the reasons casualties in Iraq are so low is body armor - unprecedented advances in procurement and logistics ensured that gear was available to all troops in country. While to this day you'll still hear about GIs sent to war without proper equipment, when the Army tried to compensate those many troops who reportedly had purchased their own, very few took the offer.
Just 29 Army soldiers have sought reimbursement so far for body armor and other equipment they bought to protect themselves on the front lines.So the narration had to change slightly: "If everyone has armor, it's not good enough."
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton claims that hundreds of U.S. soldiers may have died "needlessly" in Iraq because of inadequate body armor and wants the Senate Armed Services Committee to hold hearings into the safety of the standard armored vests issued to troops.The Armed Services Committee did hold hearings - but prior commitments kept Senator Clinton from attending. She didn't really start the fire on this one, however. This (then-) new version of the armor uproar began when the organization Soldiers for the Truth obtained and released a copy of a classified military report detailing the vulnerabilities of the body armor (it doesn't protect every square inch of the wearer's flesh). The story was the biggest of the day in January 2006, and while now all but forgotten, the subsequent increase in successful sniper killings of US troops has been well covered.
For a lot of reasons, I still believe everyone could use better earplugs.
In fairness, this may be one reason so few opted to seek reimbursement for gear purchased on their own dime:
Nearly three-fourths of military reservists called to serve in Afghanistan and Iraq are taking home more money on duty than in their civilian jobs, according to a study on military pay released Wednesday.Earlier stories on Guard and Reserve troops tended to focus on the hardships they suffered due to pay cuts experienced when switching from their civilian jobs to full time military duty. But by the end of the year politicians would grab headlines by claiming that only (or at least "disproportionate numbers" of) the poor and uneducated joined the military.
The National Guard Bureau, the Pentagon office that administers the Guard, issued a statement outlining a turnaround in recruiting and predicting that it would continue to rise this year. In the last quarter of 2005, the Guard signed up 13,466 recruits, above its goal of 12,605. It was the first time since 1993 that the Guard exceeded its goal in that period.The if hot story in 2005 was recruiting shortfalls - the overlooked story was this
Army re-enlistments in 2005 were the highest they've been in five years, with more than 69,500 soldiers choosing to continue their service, the Secretary of the Army said here yesterday.
But this story pushed that one to the back pages:
Senator Jack Reed today joined former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former Secretary of Defense William Perry in a press conference for the release of the report "The US Military: Under Strain and at Risk."Speaking of John Murtha - he had his own story to tell - and it, too, pushed the realities of military recruiting and retention out of the news:
"Would you join (the military) today?," he was asked in an interview taped on Friday.In spite of his efforts to reverse the trend, 2006 recruiting goals would be met.
But January was also the month Mr Murtha would get a bit of a surprise. He appeared at an anti-war "town hall" event organized by fellow representative Jim Moran. The two spent their time repeating the oft-reported mantra of Iraq - not enough armor, poor training, troops aren't getting medical care, only poor people join the army... in what they thought was a friendly environment. And as usual after such events, members of anti-war "veterans groups" (most are comprised of a mix of real and false veterans - more on that later) brought in for the purpose stood and praised their courage. But this time a surprise was in store. An actual local veteran was in the audience too - and he made his way to the microphone...
"Yes sir my name is Mark Seavey and I just want to thank you for coming up here. Until about a month ago I was Sgt Mark Seavey infantry squad leader, I returned from Afghanistan. My question to you, (applause)Our story on Sgt Seavey spread through the blogosphere, to talk radio, and on to television. But another veteran in attendance that night drew less attention.
Just before the end of the meeting, Vietnam veteran General Louis C. Wagner spoke on behalf of a friend who had been ignored by the congressman. Unfortunately Murtha had excused himself and departed a few minutes prior.
Hello Mr Moran I'm General Wagner. I'm here tonight, I decided to come at 7:30. And I'll tell you the reason I came at 7:30 is because I want an answer to a letter, to a friend of ours. She wrote this letter to Mr. Murtha, where she pointed out to him that he was causing the insurgents to bring more activity against the soldiers in Iraq, just as the traitors did during the Vietnam war. I was fighting in 1972 with the Vietnamese when people were cavorting with the North Vietnamese.Elsewhere, other surviving family members of the fallen were ignored, too:
Few readers here will forget Robert Stokely's moving tribute to his son Mike. Shortly after we published that the Washington Post ran a piece titled "A Life, Wasted" written by the father of a Marine who was killed in Iraq.It wasn't just "big media" that shoved the troops and their families aside. A socialist "for the troops" website ignored a request for removal from a soldier whose photograph they had appropriated for their own use. We'd meet them again later in the year.
In the USA, January meant election year was getting under way...
President Bush prepares for next week's State of the Union address, he faces widespread discontent over his job performance and the nation's direction that could threaten his party in the 2006 election, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.But...
Just 36% expressed a favorable opinion of congressional Democrats, whereas 45% viewed them unfavorably. That's statistically the same as the showing for congressional Republicans, who were viewed favorably by 38% and unfavorably by 44%.Republicans probably felt a bit confident back then.
Although not up for re-election, Senator John Kerry had a comeback plan. Although this was on his campaign website in 2004...
In light of the unacceptable statement about the death of Americans made by Daily Kos, we have removed the link to this blog from our website. As John Kerry said in a statement earlier this week, “My deepest sympathies are with the families of those lost today. Americans know that all who serve in Iraq - soldier and civilian alike - do so in an effort to build a better future for Iraqis. These horrific attacks remind us of the viciousness of the enemies of Iraq’s future. United in sadness, we are also united in our resolve that these enemies will not prevail.”In January, 2005 he published his first essay on that very same Daily Kos.
I’m glad I can be a part of this – and frankly I’m not worried about taking some slings and arrows along the way. I’ve faced worse!
Meanwhile, back in Iraq...
Interesting developments in Anbar Province:
Ramadi's Sunnis have formed a provincial security council of local leaders, and at least one key sheik has expressed regret publicly for having allowed into the local anti-U.S. resistance such extremist elements as al Qaeda in Iraq.Residents of the area were turning against al Qaeda. In the Arab media this would be depicted as exactly that...
The Anbar tribes’ campaign to rid the province of Zarqawi’s terror organization, al-Qaeda in Iraq is in its 2nd day and so far, 270 Arab and foreign intruders have been arrested.In the U.S. media, reports would explain that insurgents were fighting among themselves:
In Ramadi, in western Iraq, he said, armed clashes have erupted between local Iraqi insurgents and al-Qaeda operatives in recent months. At least one high-ranking al-Qaeda member, Abu Khatab, was recently run out of Ramadi by insurgents loyal to the local tribe.Things weren't looking too good for al Qaeda in Iraq. Following three elections in 2005, negotiations on the formation of the nation's new government were getting under way. As with John Kerry, drastic measures would be needed to turn the situation around.
In book news...
President Bashar al-Assad of Syria secretly incited Iraq's top Shia leader to declare holy war against US and British forces, according to Washington's former administrator in the country.And that was January in Mudville. Eleven more to go...
Beginning with February, and that starts right here.
(And 12 next year. Hey, somebody's gotta do it!)
Posted by Greyhawk / December 21, 2006 11:30 AM | 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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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