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July 29, 2008
MilBlogs TV: Anbar Rising (part two)By Greyhawk
To embed this video on your website (and please do...) copy and paste the following code:
<embed src="http://blip.tv/play/AcWCZI3NKg" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="400" height="285" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"> </embed>
Part one of this series is here.
Major Smith and Colonel MacFarland's Military Review article can be found here, and should be read in its entirety.
The Guardian video can be viewed in full here.
A Stars and Stripes homecoming tribute (pdf) to the Ready First Combat Team can be found here.
Recent Mudville entries on this topic:
Earlier coverage cited in the video series:
Saluting the 3rd ACR (February, 2006)
Anbar Rising (September, 2006)
Close Air Support (November, 2006)
Links to most other reports cited in the video can be found in the above links, but additional links will be added to this post as time permits.
MilBlogs TV is funded by readers like you. Please help MilBlogs TV grow.
Colonel MacFarland did brief the media on September 29, 2006. Unfortunately, with congressional elections looming little news from Iraq beyond the death toll was provided to Americans at the time.
For example, Time magazine covers from the month following featured the looming war with Iran, a reporter wounded in Iraq, evolution, the end of the Republican Party, and a feature on "the next president". The New York Times front-page Iraq stories detailed a new book claiming that President Bush ignored warnings on Iraq on the 29th, and a story that the US might cut funding to the abusive Iraqi police on the 30th.
So with great pride we now present the world premier of Colonel MacFarland's September 29, 2006 briefing to the American media from Ramadi...
Ignored by traditional western media, the story of the Anbar awakening was told only in Arab media and in American milblogs at the time
While Colonel MacFarland didn't use the term, as reported in part one of this series, The story of what would come to be known as the "Anbar Awakening" was first revealed in a little-noticed February, 2005 Time magazine article by Michael Ware.
A June, 2005 London Times report headlined "US in Talks with Iraq Rebels" would cause a bit more of a stir. (A follow-up story in the Washington Post would reveal the "insurgent outreach" program had been approved in August, 2004.)
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld answered questions about the effort on Fox News Sunday that week. The secretary announced that such meetings "go on all the time" and described efforts to "split local insurgents off from the al Qaeda/foreign fighters group."
He dismissed any need for additional US troops in Iraq, stating emphatically that Iraqis - not American troops, were going to win the battle against the insurgency in their country.
His confidence was based on expectations that the Iraqis would very soon reject the brutality practiced by the radical groups in their midst.
Reports of conflict between al Qaeda and Sunni groups would surface periodically thereafter, but would often blend into the emerging "civil war in Iraq" theme.
In June, the death of Abu Musab al Zarqawi in a coalition air attack would result in a new leader for the group, and within days of Colonel MacFarland's announcement of the Anbar sheik's movement (limited at the time to Ramadi but then known as the "Anbar salvation council") Abu Ayyub al Masri would offer "amnesty" to the sheiks if they would return to his control before the end of Ramadan.
His response came from Sheik Sattar Abu-Risha. - Though little known outside Ramadi, the Sheik was in the process of turning the tide of the war in Iraq
"I do not know what kind of authority he enjoys." The sheik stated, "Is he a prophet? Did he receive a messenger from God to give us a pardon? Are we criminals like him? Are we killers like him to be given a pardon? Or did we ask him for pardon? On the contrary, he should ask us for pardon, because he killed Iraqis, Sunnis and Shi'is. Who is he? He is only an inferior criminal. We should not grant him a pardon."
A profile of Sheik Sattar From an early 2007 BBC report...
As Smith and MacFarland would relate in their 2008 review, Sattar was a dynamic figure willing to stand up to al Qada at a time when victory was far from certain. On 9 September he organized a tribal council attended by over 50 sheiks and the brigade commander, declaring the awakening underway and beginning a snowball effect that resulted in a growing number of tribes declaring open support for the movement or withdrawing support from al Qaeda in Iraq.
The establishment of the Awakening was not spontaneous; it was an evolutionary movement developing over years in Iraq. But dramatic events along the way ensured its success. One of the most significant of these was the battle of Sufia, retold by Smith and MacFarland in Anbar Awakens...
Once again,, other than milblogs readers, few would know of these events at the time. Coincidentally, the same milblogs story would include a report of Senator John McCain challenging General Casey on the need for additional troops in Baghdad and Anbar.
For while the Awakening movement was altering the course of the war in Ramadi, the terrorists fleeing that area were helping spread violence throughout Baghdad, Mosul, Baqubah, and other areas in Iraq.
In early 2007 the "surge" was announced. General David Petraeus was named commander of Multi-national force Iraq. Among his first agenda items on assuming command was a meeting with sheik Sattar.
From the earliest days of the surge, efforts were underway to recreate the success of the Ramadi movement, and spread the awakening model throughout the country.
General Petraeus' first press conference from Baghdad...
AS Smith and MacFarland would later explain
"The Anbar Awakening was the result of a concerted plan executed by US forces in Ramadi.
The conclusion of their report sums their unit's key lesson's learned from Iraq
Accept risk in order to achieve results.
Once you gain the initiative, never give the enemy respite or refuge.
Never stop looking for another way to attack the enemy.
The tribes represent the people of Iraq, and the populace represents the "key terrain" of the conflict. The force that supports the population by taking the moral high ground has as sure an advantage in COIN as a maneuver commander who occupies dominant terrain in a conventional battle.
They close by noting,
In the end, probably the most important lesson we learned in Ramadi was that, as General Petraeus said,
"Hard is not hopeless."
The Ready First Combat Team returned to its home station in March 2007 as the first of the "surge" Units were positioned in Iraq. Over the course of about 14 months on the ground, 31 of the brigade's soldiers were killed - among them, Capt Travis Patriquin, credited by Smith and MacFarland as the man responsible for the initial contacts and ultimate cementing of the American bond with the Ramadi Sheiks.
A police station in Ramadi is named in Capt Patriquin's honor.
Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha was killed by a roadside bomb at the outset of Ramadan in the western calendar year 2007. Contrary to expectations at the time, his movement survived him.
In June, 2008 his brother and new awakening leader Sheik Ahmad al-Rishawi came to America, though his visits to President Bush and members of the US Congress received little media attention.
He told the New York Sun that his message to Congress was that American soldiers should stay in Iraq for at least as long as it takes to rebuild Iraq's national army - but also repeated his brother's earlier offer to join the battle against al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
"Al Qaeda is an ideology," Sheik Ahmad told the Sun. "We can defeat them inside Iraq and we can defeat them in any country."
Posted by Greyhawk / July 29, 2008 5:37 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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