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December 8, 2009
Meanwhile, back in IraqBy Greyhawk
Horrific news from Iraq today: Coordinated Bombings in Baghdad Kill at Least 121. Here's what American forces are doing in the aftermath:
American helicopters, drones and airplanes circled the city in the immediate aftermath, while sporadic gunfire could be heard. In addition to the aircraft, American troops, including explosives-removal teams, joined Iraqi security forces responding to the attacks, a military spokesman, Maj. Joe Scrocco, said in a statement. In the attacks in August and October, Iraqi forces kept the Americans at arm's length, allowing them to play a minimal, and belated, role in helping assist the wounded and collect forensic evidence.
The account also notes "the attacks came as Iraq's Presidency Council announced a date -- March 6 -- for the country's long-delayed parliamentary elections." That was a good news story from Iraq yesterday:
But that wasn't the only news from Iraq yesterday - there was also this report:
For perspective, that Reuter's story also noted that overall "violence in Iraq has fallen dramatically in the past 18 months. Civilian deaths last month totaled 88, their lowest since the 2003 U.S. invasion, according to government figures."
But apparently they're on the rise again. Though certainly nowhere near the levels of 2006/2007, any increase is troubling, to say the least. If there's an upside, it's that the Iraqi government and people would prefer to handle that with minimum American involvement - something that's been apparent at least since Joe Biden's ill-adivsed visit to Iraq last July to "help the Iraqis resolve what they have to resolve."
At the time, an Iraqi government spokesman "publicly rejected the American's offer to help with national reconciliation, saying it's an internal affair." On that point there was unity. Abdul-Kareem al-Samarrai, head of the Iraq parliament's Accordance Front Sunni bloc said the issue "should be activated by Iraqis themselves not by others' recommendations." And in the streets, Iraqi citizens welcomed Joe's efforts to help them resolve what they have to resolve with demonstrations:
"That's not what the prime minister said," Biden assured George Stephanopoulos after the visit. "The prime minister said that we may need you to get involved."
But by the end of July headlines indicated Iraq didn't want very much military assistance from the US either.
"The basic message is, 'you're not wanted, go back to your base,' " an Army captain in Baghdad said by email.
Fast forward to December and you'll find American troops doing what they can to help. Following an explosion in Tikrit last Friday that killed four Iraqi police and an Iraqi civilian and injured 21, "helicopters were dispatched to provide overwatch security during casualty evacuation." In addition, "US soldiers provided additional security and immediate medical assistance to the Iraqi people." Beyond that, US Forces were standing by:
For more on what the US military is doing in Iraq, click here. In the meantime, on the civilian side, according to "officials familiar with the negotiations" quoted in yesterday's Washington Post account, Americans are helping the Iraqis resolve what they have to resolve.
And "American helicopters, drones and airplanes circled the city in the immediate aftermath, while sporadic gunfire could be heard..."
There's much on the line, and one might conclude that the mission of 120,000 US troops in Iraq is critical - with violence an obvious ever-present threat. Those who would launch such brutal attacks are probably well aware of Joe Biden's pledge: "President Obama asked me to return with a message -- that the United States is committed to Iraq's progress and success," Biden said in a statement aired by Iraqi state television after his meeting with Maliki. Although he also warned Iraqi officials Friday that the American commitment to Iraq could end if the country again descended into ethnic and sectarian violence.
More from Iraqpundit: "Spineless Killers"
Posted by Greyhawk / December 8, 2009 3:55 PM | Permalink
Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our daily roundup of information on the War on Terror and other topics - from the MilBlogs and various sources around the world. If you're a blogger, you can join the conversation. If you link to any of these stories, add a ... 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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