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October 1, 2009
The last of the few: the Marines leave IraqBy Greyhawk
Looks like America's 1st Sgt. at Castra Praetoria (greast posts there - go check 'em out!) might have the honor of being the last Marine milblogger from Iraq. Here's why...
Six-year Legacy of Marine Corps Regiments in Iraq Followed by an Army Brigade
Casing the colors:
Regimental Combat Team 8, commanded by Col. John K. Love, and RCT-6, commanded by Col. Matthew A. Lopez, the last two remaining Marine Corps regiments to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, transferred authority of the areas of operation...
Uncasing the colors:
...to the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Advisory and Assistance Brigade, commanded by Col. Mark R. Stammer, aboard Camp Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 26.
IRAQ - Marines and Soldiers stand ready in formation. Distinguished guests begin to filter in. Among them are prominent Iraqi government leaders, paramount sheikhs, Iraqi police and Army generals, and U.S. military members from all services and units across Iraq. The air is thick with excitement, and more importantly, hope.
More than six years of Marine perseverance led up to this single indispensable moment - the moment the last Marine Corps Ground Combat Element in Iraq would depart, having completed their mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The transfer of authority ceremony marked an occasion that is quite possibly the most historically prominent event for Marines in Operation Iraqi Freedom since the initial invasion in 2003.
"It is an understatement to say that we have witnessed historic events in Iraq this year, and today's ceremony is certainly an example of positive change as we transition U.S. combat forces to a new formation - one whose name is synonymous with its mission, the Advise and Assist Brigade," said Maj. Gen. R.T. Tryon, the commanding general of Multi-National Force - West. "These gains have been accomplished not because of what the U.S. forces have done, nor because of what the Iraqi security forces have done. Rather, these achievements are a result of what we have done together in partnership with one another."
RCT-6 and RCT-8 have served as the ground combat element for the Marine Air Ground Task Force in western Al Anbar province for the last nine months, but as of Sept. 26, the Advise and Assist Brigade became the new ground combat element for MNF-W.
"There is an old saying that success is born of a thousand fathers, but that failure is an orphaned child," said Lopez. "The success of the past nine months is indeed the work of a thousand fathers, those Marine and Army units that have gone before the RCT in the east, as well as our [Iraqi security forces] brothers."
Standing on the shoulders of those who came before them, RCT-6 and RCT-8, working " by, with and through" their Iraqi counterparts, accomplished many great successes. Among that long list of deeds are building schools for Iraqi children, bringing fresh drinking water to more than 100,000 people, providing the city of Karma with a development center, facilitating the provincial elections, promoting security initiatives in the East, and establishing district development strategies in the West.
"This historic period of time in Al Anbar could not have come to fruition without the hard work and dedication of Iraqi leaders, Iraqi security forces, and our Marine brothers-in-arms," said Love. "[The Marines] have performed magnificently, working alongside their Iraqi counterparts to help forge a new way of life for the citizens of Al Anbar, and indeed, all of Iraq."
As RCT-6 and RCT-8 head back to Camp Lejeune, N.C., they can proudly reflect on their accomplishments, knowing they have helped to provide the citizens of Iraq with a reason to look toward a future of peace, stability and prosperity throughout their sovereign nation.
The Marines are gone, but the Army units replacing them will ensure there are still just under 130,000 troops in Iraq - more than enough for the most important battlefield of America's war on terror.
Posted by Greyhawk / October 1, 2009 7:36 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...)
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