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February 28, 2009
Back in September, 2008, the Seattle-Tacoma News Tribune reported that the newest Stryker Brigade was (almost) ready for action in Iraq...
Fort Lewis 5th Brigade almost ready for battle
But - reflecting the shift in operational focus that had occurred over the previous year (from kinetic/combat ops to "winning hearts and minds", rebuilding infrastructure and training and support of Iraqi units) that Stateside training had a heavy focus on non-combat aspects of the mission:
Like previous Stryker brigades, the 5th Brigade has put dozens of its troops through intensive, 10-month Arabic language training. They were tested in exercises last month where they had to help their commanders negotiate with native-speaker role players at Fort Lewis' urban training center, Leschi Town."This is the only way our brigade logistics can really be tested," 5th Brigade commander, Col. Harry Tunnell told the News Tribune. "These are things we have to do in Iraq, but that are really hard to do in the United States."
That focus was born out of his own experiences on his last deployment to Iraq, when he commanded the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment and jumped into northern Iraq in March 2003."The Army hasn't made an official announcement", the Tribune reported, "but the 5th Brigade is expected to be in the mix for duty in the Middle East in the latter half of next year."
In fact, two days later the DoD announced:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 825
In the weeks that followed, and as a result of gains achieved over the previous year, more Provinces were turned over to Iraqi control, small "Task Forces" were assuming control over areas previously watched by multiple Brigades, and Brigades were departing Iraq without replacements moving in (see links embedded above). The Status Of Forces Agreement and Strategic Framework Agreement were signed (originally available on the White House web page, both documents have been removed from public view there by the Obama Administration), the drawdown was planned, American units were departing Iraq weeks ahead of their original schedule and others scheduled to replace them tapped for Afghanistan instead. But all these events of the final months of the Bush Administration occurred with little to no attention from the American media.
Fast forward to February 17, 2009, when headlines announced President Obama's Afghanistan Surge - Barack Obama diverts 17,000 soldiers from Iraq to Afghanistan:
Mr Obama indicated that the units being sent to Afghanistan had been earmarked for Iraq, saying the drawdown of US forces there "allows us the flexibility to increase our presence in Afghanistan"."The Afghanistan Surge" would actually be just two units and support personnel. The official DoD announcement revealed that one of them would be the 5th Stryker Brigade:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 102-09Of course, "intensive, 10-month Arabic language training" and "exercises... where they had to help their commanders negotiate with native-speaker role players" were now useless - but if they were no longer needed in Iraq, so be it.
Besides, CNN reported, Americans were wildly enthusiastic about the new President's plan:
A new national poll indicates that a majority of Americans support President Barack Obama's plan to send 17,000 more U.S. troops to the war in Afghanistan.Indeed. "Let me say this as plainly as I can," the President dramatically announced, "By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end." That provides an enterprising young reporter a great opportunity to ask exactly how many troops in Iraq have seen combat over the past year - but don't expect one to do so any time soon.
Certainly some have seen combat - and certainly there's still a need for Stryker Brigade Combat Teams there. Otherwise the Obama Administration - with massive media coverage of his "ending combat" announcement - wouldn't quietly be substituting identical Brigades for the ones who have been "switched to Afghanistan" as part of his wildly popular surge:
Gen. Odierno will receive a Stryker Brigade to replace the incoming replacement brigade diverted to Afghanistan just a week ago. That means that he will continue to maintain the current level of two Stryker brigades in Iraq. The light armored vehicles are favored by military commanders for their mobility as a quick reaction force while providing greater protection for the troops.Hopefully there's still time to get them to that 10-month Arabic Language school. That little tidbit of information (which if accurate, exposes everything you've heard about troop deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan over the past two weeks as an absolute hoax on the American public) can be found buried deep in this blog entry from ABC.
Instant update: the original claim from ABC has been 'disappeared' without explanation from their web page. Here's what it says now:
ABC News has also learned that Gen. Odierno will continue to maintain a Stryker Brigade presence in Iraq through the upcoming elections as he had requested. There are currently two Stryker Brigades in Iraq. When their tours end later this year, only one of those departing brigades will be replaced by an incoming Stryker Brigade.And here's the Google cache (while it lasts) of the original version.
Update two: The Google cache link now goes to the modified version, so here's a screen grab of the original (click image for larger version):
Update three: the ABC story is back to its original version - which was correct all along. Details here.
Posted by Greyhawk / February 28, 2009 8:36 AM | Permalink
(Part one here.) On May 19, 2008 the DoD announced seven brigade combat teams would deploy to Iraq, a process that would "begin in the fall and continue until the end of the year." On June 30, 2008 the DoD announced four brigades and two regimental com... Read More
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...)
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