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December 22, 2006
February, 2006 (Part I)By Greyhawk
(Our review of January, 2006, is here)
February, 2006 began with some relatively good news:
The death toll among U.S. troops in Iraq dropped back to average levels in December and January after a bloody autumn, and U.S. officials said on Tuesday insurgent attacks have been waning since October.Here we tempered our optimism:
I'm hopeful, but also inclined to agree with the quoted experts on this one:But, while hardly peaceful, things in Iraq were peaceful enough that at least one Brigade found itself in a sort of limbo in Kuwait, where they awaited further instructions...
[Lt. Col. Rich] Anderson said the commanders continue to plan for a range of possible missions that may include bringing the entire brigade or a portion of it into Iraq later this year. Formally, Army officials say the 2nd Brigade should expect to stay in Kuwait for an entire year, serving as a rapid response force for any regional crisis in Iraq.But while Iraq may have been getting safer, America had not.
Senior Airman (Air Force E4) Elio Carrion is a USAF Security Police troop who recently returned from Iraq. On leave in San Bernadino County, California, his welcome home included three rounds from a sheriff's deputy - but we don't mean free drinks.
Carrion was the passenger in a blue Corvette that had led the deputy on a brief high-speed chase Sunday night. The chase ended when the driver crashed into a fence on a residential street. Neither Carrion nor the driver had any weapons, sheriff's officials said.The deputy shot SrA Carrion three times at point blank range...
The sergeant who spoke to Webb shortly after the incident said the deputy had told him that Carrion "tried to get up and lunge" at him. A Chino police officer who also arrived at the scene moments after the shooting said Webb had told him that Carrion "tried to attack" him.
What they saw was SrA Carrion on the ground, pleading with deputy Ivory Webb Jr. "I'm on your side" he told him. Finally, Webb ordered Carrion to get up, then shot him three times as he attempted to comply.
Among other things bleeped out of the above video are Webb's comments to Carrion as he lay bleeding on the ground and moaning in pain: "You mother f-----r! you try to attack me? Shut the f--k up! I'll (garbled) your (garbled) ass!"
Later we learned more about Jose Luis Valdes, the man who captured the shooting on video:
Valdes said the incident was a chilly reminder of his own youth in the Cuban military: After returning home to Havana after two years of fighting in Angola, he said, police severely beat him for visiting a prohibited store.But in the wake of the Carrion shooting, Valdes himself was arrested for an outstanding warrant for assault. His bail was set at $100,000.
The life of Valdes, 38, who sells used cars in El Monte, has turned upside down since the shooting. Now he is in jail, away from his family, including two daughters aged 11 and 4.Since then we've failed to follow developments in the story - but getting caught up is one reason why year in review entries are worthwhile.
In April, a police department spokesperson announced the completion of the shooting investigation:
"Once the investigation was complete, we were informed that Deputy Webb no longer worked here," she said.Later:
A felony charge has been dropped in Miami against the Chino man who videotaped a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy shooting an unarmed Iraq war veteran in January.And
A trial date for Ivory J. Webb Jr., the former sheriff's deputy charged with shooting an unarmed man after a high-speed chase, was set for Jan. 5, 2007.SrA Carrion continues to recover from his wounds.
February's new Iraq war urban legend: Several female service members have died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day due to fear of being raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women's latrine after dark.
This is absurd for countless reasons - the most obvious being that death by dehydration takes a little longer than a couple hours without fluids, even in the hottest conditions.
But this fabrication has an interesting source: Col. Janis Karpinski, former commander of the unit responsible for torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib. And she's found a sympathetic forum in which to tell the story: The "Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration" - a mock trial sponsored by "Not in Our Name", a group originally founded by members of the Revolutionary Communist Party to protest the US-led war in Afghanistan.
Said Karpinski to the judges at the show trial:
Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women's latrine after dark.Of course, their are a few problems with Karpinski's fantasy. It takes several days to a few weeks for death to occur by this means - if no liquid is ingested at all. At some point prior to that time, someone would have noticed the individual's deteriorating condition and complete inability to function.
To believe Karpinski's account you must accept that a mature individual (a master sergeant is an E8 - one rank short of the highest possible rank an enlisted member can achieve) who had achieved a place of great significance and responsibility in the US military had foregone all fluids for several days without anyone noticing her failing health before her death - because she was afraid of being raped (by junior troops or senior officers?) on her way to the latrine at night.
And she also would have had a 9mm at her disposal.
And, oh by the way, no female master sergeants have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
None of which stopped any of her new hard-core leftist pals from believing everything she said.
Karpinski's story had grown from an earlier version she first told to Soldiers for the Truth - the same group who in January had released the secret report on vulnerabilities of American body armor. Ironically, they were also the same group responsible for public release of the now famous photos taken by Karpinski's torture squads at Abu Ghraib.
Speaking of body armor - new side plates were on the way...
Only days after receiving a $70 million order from the Army, Ceradyne of Costa Mesa this week sent its first shipment of ceramic armor side plates to U.S troops in Iraq....to mixed reviews:
“You think about how much of a pain in the neck your maneuvering will be. You will feel like a robot. You will feel like R2D2 in a turret. Forget that junk,” said Winchester, a member of the Savannah-based 118th Field Artillery Regiment Task Force stationed at Al Asad Air Base.Still, many commanders were planning on ordering their troops to wear the additional gear:
Cpl. Henry Patterson, 25, a Marine from Stone Mountain, said he definitely will wear the plates if he gets them. Patterson is headed back to Iraq this month...In late January, ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt were caught in an insurgent attack in Iraq. Fortunately they were wearing armor:
Doctors say the immediate treatment Woodruff and Vogt received in Iraq, and the fact that both were wearing body armor, were crucial in their survival.Details of the attack...
Woodruff, Vogt, and their four-man team were in the lead vehicle traveling in a convoy with Iraqi security forces. They were standing up in the back hatch of their vehicle taping a video log of the patrol at the time of the attack.Reminded us of insurgent target selection training materials we'd seen previously:
(Shoot)... the reporter carrying the camera. First because the camera can be used as binoculars; second, it is the most difficult thing to hide the death of a reporter in Iraq.Meanwhile,
Al Jazeera television broadcast a second videotape of the kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll, and the captors of four members of "Christian Peacemaker Teams" abducted in November renewed their threat to kill the hostages if all Iraqi prisoners were not set free.There's no denying that western reporters travel to Iraq at their own risk.
Reporter Joe Galloway, whose experience in the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam led to the book "We Were Soldiers Once, and Young", is no friend of the US administration, nor is he a "supporter" of the Iraq war. But in February he too took that risk of reporting from Iraq:
In some places the news was bad: The insurgents had surged back into rural areas of the Triangle when a unit responsible for the area hunkered down in their outposts and left it to the enemy. Now a successor unit was fighting hard to take the countryside back and was suffering casualties almost every day.Stars and Stripes had additional details on Tal Afar:
In a region conquered and shaped by a succession of history’s most fearsome armies, this centuries-old city was fast becoming an example of how not to fight a modern- day insurgency.There were other grim signs for the insurgency. Newsweek reported that American officials in Iraq were in face-to-face talks with high-level Iraqi Sunni insurgents. Although "back door" diplomatic efforts had been reported before,
This marks the first time either Americans or insurgents have admitted that "senior leaders" have met at the negotiating table for planning purposes. "Those who are coming to work with [the U.S.] or come to an understanding with [the U.S.], even if they worked with Al Qaeda in a tactical sense in the past—and I don't know that—they are willing to fight Al Qaeda now," says a Western diplomat in Baghdad who has close knowledge of the discussions.But al Qaeda had a plan, too. And in February we hoped to help increase awareness of it
But Cordesman also depicts an insurgency especially skilled at morphing as necessary to counter advances by its enemies, and consistently successful in exploiting the Arab and foreign media, pushing assorted symbolic "hot buttons," and fostering conspiracy theories that U.S. forces have trouble debunking.Quite a month it already was - and it wasn't over yet.
Posted by Greyhawk / December 22, 2006 3:22 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.
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