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June 5, 2008
Genesis (II)By Greyhawk
Part two in a series - part one is here.
On reasons for success in Iraq - from part one:
In reality both the increase in US troops and the development of "awakening councils" were crucial. For example, recall that with no safe havens in Anbar, al Qaeda fled to Baqubah in Diyala Province. Months would pass before that could be addressed, but as Mike Yon would report, the combination of US surge forces and the 1920's Revolution Brigades (who like the Anbar tribes had turned on al Qaeda) were able to secure the area.
THE SURGE IS NOT WORKING... The reduced violence in Anbar Province is the result of cooperation between American forces and Sunni tribes, which started more than 18 months ago, long before the surge.He's wrong on all counts of course, including his guess at how long ago the people of Anbar had joined our fight against al Qaeda. Like most Americans, Barack Obama knows very little about Iraq.
In fact embracing (or perhaps outright creating) the "Awakening" movement did prove to be the lynchpin in the success of "the surge" - without which the Awakening Movement would have failed.
Here I must acknowledge what some may perceive as a bias. I was part of the surge. In the Winter of 2007, as I explained the surge and discussed tipping points I was also preparing to go. By Spring I was in Iraq with a unit in Multi National Division-Center, the division formed as part of the surge.
I was glad to see the model of the Awakening Movement embraced from the earliest days:
What I have the opportunity to do now with my soldiers is get out and engage with the population. For example, in MND-Center's battlespace, we have 23 sites where coalition forces are living amongst the population. And we have a chance to engage with the population. They're tired of the violence. They're tired of the attacks. And now they're mounting forces to help us and help the Iraqi security forces evict the extremist networks from their country.That key point was ignored by a media that instead fixated on this:
Q: General, this is Andrew Gray with Reuters. You mentioned that as you surge, you see the enemy surging as well. Can you give us any examples of that?You may recall the "Enemy is surging too!" headlines that followed.
But by August, the important trend would be obvious:
And that's what's happening as we work these surge operations. We get to an area, the locals there, the first question they ask is, "Are you staying?" And once they're convinced we're staying, the question then becomes, "How can we help?" What we see as a result of that commitment is Iraqi citizens are coming forward and they're indeed saying, "What can we do to help?"(The end result can be viewed here.)
But it should be no surprise that the 3d ID had successfully embraced the awakening movement in their battlespace. Major General Lynch was also in Iraq the year before, as the ongoing effort to recruit Iraqis against al Qaeda began to see results. From February, 2006:
In Anbar Province, an insurgent hotbed that borders Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, US and Iraqi officials say they have a new ally against the Al Qaeda-inspired terrorists: local tribal leaders like Jadaan and home-grown Iraqi insurgents.Even then the project was nothing new. In fact, the American effort to recruit Iraqis (Iraqi insurgents, in fact) to turn against al Qaeda began much earlier, as Time Magazine's Michael Ware reported in February, 2005:
"We are ready," he says before leaving, "to work with you."The London Times updated the story in June, 2005:
AT a summer villa near Balad in the hills 40 miles north of Baghdad, a group of Iraqis and their American visitors recently sat down to tea. It looked like a pleasant social encounter far removed from the stresses of war, but the heavy US military presence around the isolated property signalled that an unusual meeting was taking place.The issue of timetables might have been one reason results did not follow immediately thereafter. And according to the Times, by the next meeting the Americans were making demands of their own:
This meeting did not go well. "The tone of the Americans was different," the Iraqi insider said. "They were talking with a tone of more superiority, arrogance and provocation."
Posted by Greyhawk / June 5, 2008 10:00 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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