Greetings! You are reading an article from The Mudville Gazette. To reach the front page, with all the latest news and views, click the logo above or "main" below. Thanks for stopping by!
May 25, 2009
The Red Pill (Part Two)By Greyhawk
From December, 2008...
"On 23 October, we seized it with a two-company assault from the Golden Dragons, and since then it's been known as Patrol Base Dragon."
October 23, 2006 - before "the surge" began. That's from the post-deployment "wrap up" by Colonel Mike Kershaw, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division ("Commando"). Its become all too common these days to approach declaring everything before the surge as "failed" in Iraq - in spite of the fact that all of the tactics used during the surge were tried and proven in the years prior, in Tal Afar and Qaim and Ramadi and other locations throughout the country, and nowhere had American troops surrendered the battle.
"We initially looked at this is a classic counterinsurgency, and we moved in and secured the people. We had several examples we were able to follow and studied the counterinsurgency doctrine that our Army has been pushing to the forefront and were able to apply that immediately upon getting here." Colonel Kershaw wrote, and added praise to the previous unit in the AO: "our predecessors from the Strike Brigade of the 101st literally had their way into the heartland of this al Qaeda sanctuary. Their hard fight really put us in a good position to launch our counterinsurgency operations, which commenced 20 September 2006, as we assumed this area of operations from our Strike brethren."
In December, 2005, Robert Stokely wrote me an email that began with this:
Came across your blog this morning, and thought I'd share my thoughts as the dad of an American Soldier killed in action four months ago. My son was standing cover flank for two buddies checking out a suspicous location in the roadway while on patrol at 2:20 A.M. 16 Aug when an IED exploded. He was the only one killed. Two soldiers suffered serious injuries and are now home on permanent medical leave, but both will live normal lives after they finish med rehab and surgery.We miss him so much. Robert wrote. "We hurt inside. But we burst with pride in our son and brother. His memory will not fade nor will our love for him."
Mike didn't die for a "just cause", he died JUST BECAUSE - just because he loved his country enough to want to serve it since the time he was in middle school; just because he loved his family enough to want to protect them; just because he loved his friends enough that he would rather fight a war "there" than here; just because he believed in our order of government whereby the civilian government rules and the military obeys, and when the President, with lawful authority, calls upon soldiers to go and fight, he believed it was not only his duty, but his honor to go; just because he wouldn't let his fellow soldiers - his guys - go it alone; and just because he wanted to do for others - the Iraqi people - what he would do for his own country....and he signed that email
Robert Stokely, Lucky and Proud to be the Dad of- The very area that would later pass to the control of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain.
And they had not forgotten.
In July, 2007, I was able to send Robert Stokely this email from Baghdad:
One of my guys was on a trip down south and this was likely taken at one of the fiyahs - they were waypoints on his trip.Robert knew the circumstances of why each name was on that memorial:
Hollar and Draughn killed Sept 1, 05 by IED while on patrol near their FOB at Mahmuhdiyah, while Mike was killed 16 Aug 05 8 miles west near his FOB at Yuufiyah - they were CAV Scouts with E Troop 108 CAV; Saylor, Strickland and Dingler died 15 Aug 05 due to combat related vehicle roll-over into a canal near Mahmuhdiyah and were CAV Scouts with the 108th Armor. Mike's unit had been detached to and assigned to work with the Armor unit.Robert had a plan though. He wanted to collect school supplies to send to the children of Yusifiyah - the location where his son had died. I told him I'd see what I could do to help make that happen, and although 2/10 was (as implied above) then otherwise engaged that perhaps the time for such an effort might come soon.
"Otherwise engaged" - as also described in this news story from November, 2008:
Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins of Bozeman was killed in Iraq in June 2007 when he tackled a suicide bomber and saved the lives of three other soldiers.The Commando Brigade lost 54 soldiers killed and over 270 wounded in action in Iraq.
Now we've begun to see what's been called the Anbar awakening in other parts of Iraq spread to our AO. That happened about four or five months ago. My reconnaissance squadron, the 189 Cavalry, began working with some local leaders that were becoming disenchanted with the way that al Qaeda was terrorizing the local area. And what was first a marriage of convenience for the local insurgents and al Qaeda, from really a nationalistic resistance, really became splintered.And,
One of the legacies I think we'll also leave behind here is our shared partnership with the 4th Brigade of the 6th Iraqi Army. It's a very capable brigade. It's very well-led. They've conducted almost 138 air assaults, 53 brigade-level operations, 69 battalion-level operations. And in fact, we really conduct almost no operations where we do not have Iraqi forces either embedded with us or where they are in the lead.By the fall of 2007, 2/10 had completed their tour of duty in Iraq, their replacements from the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne were inbound.
"What we're trying to do is bring a sustainable lasting peace to this area and to date the results have been very favorable, although, really, they're still tenuous," Colonel Kershaw wrote. "You can rest assured that although we've had some heavy sacrifice, that our contributions have been significant and that we're going to leave south Baghdad better than we found it."
Related: This was the Surge
Posted by Greyhawk / May 25, 2009 4:59 PM | 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.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
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