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December 3, 2008
The Red Pill (Part 1)By Greyhawk
This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
This is The Red Pill.
My friend Grim, from somewhere very near Baghdad:
Back in September, I talked with Colonel Caraccilo, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne. His brigade had replaced 2/0 MTN when it came to Iraq. Later, 2/3 HBCT left, and 3/101 assumed their battlespace as well as what they held from 2/10. He told me that his brigade was leaving soon, and would be replaced only by a transition team of about 1,000 soldiers: a battalion-sized element, replacing what had been the territory of two brigades only a year before.I can decipher that a bit for you. The units mentioned above were all part of Multi-National Division-Central (MND-C), the U.S. Army Division that was in charge of an area south of Baghdad commonly called "the belts", and also containing what was once called "the triangle of death".
MND-C was "the surge Division". The surge, some may recall, was initially announced as five additional Brigade Combat Teams for Iraq. Later, a Division Headquarters was added, a bit later still an Aviation Brigade. A few other bits and pieces were tacked on along the way. The Tenth Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (2/10) was in Iraq before the surge - but their tour was extended from 12 to 15 months. That's the reality of the surge, as all here should know - there were actually no additional Brigades sent to Iraq. The five "surge" Brigades were already scheduled to go. Some of their deployment dates were moved up. Their tour lengths were extended to 15 months, and all the Army units already in Iraq had their tours extended from 12 to 15 months. That is how the surge was accomplished - by tour extension, not by sending additional troops to Iraq. As explained to those who'd already taken the red pill at the time,
Some troops are going a couple months early, others will stay late. Stop the "surge" and the same troops will go to Iraq - just on their normal schedule and in time to hive-five the folks they will replace instead of reinforce.But in addition to the increase in troops numbers came a change in strategy. Instead of being concentrated on large Forward Operating Bases the members of the Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) were moving into smaller outposts dotted throughout their areas of operations (AOs). No more commuting to work, as General Petraeus would say.
One of our most notable accomplishments is seizing the Yusufiya thermal power plant, a former Russian project to provide power to the Euphrates River Valley... And it really was a large concrete, almost Stalinistic, structure, a project between Saddam and the Russians. But really it was a moral rallying point for al Qaeda in this valley. It’s only 30 percent complete. Because of its massive size, and with there being no security there, it became sort of an al Qaeda way point for terrorists moving from the predominantly western part of the country into sanctuaries to attack Baghdad.Part two is here.
Posted by Greyhawk / December 3, 2008 3:56 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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