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The American soldier is the most dangerous man in the world, and the Iraqis had to learn that before they would trust or respect us. But it was when they understood that these great-hearted warriors, who so enjoyed killing the enemy, are even happier building a school or making a neighborhood safe that we really got their attention.Mike Yon, Moment of Truth in Iraq.
I couldn't help but recall that quote when I saw these photos of fire stations, markets, municipal buildings, schools, roads, canals, clinics...
This remarkable series of before and after pictures documents the rebuilding efforts of Task Force Marne, aka Multi-National Division Center, aka "the surge" Division in Iraq, 2007-2008. The Division's area of responsibility included some of the most violent areas on the southern edge of Baghdad (the "Baghdad belts") and in addition to peacemaking efforts in the region the Division's mission included halting the flow of "accelerants" into the city. Areas such as Salman Pak, Yousifiyah, Arab Jabour, Jisr Diyala, Mahmudiyah, and Iskandariyah may not be familiar to Americans (they were generally - and erroneously - referred to as "Baghdad" in many press reports) but they were the scenes of some of the most intense combat of the past year - and years before.
The Associated Press (perhaps unknowingly) summed up the surge last month:
ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq (AP) - When the 3rd Infantry Division arrived in Iraq's once infamous "Triangle of Death," violence was so intense that hundreds were dying daily and the country was virtually in a state of civil war.Task Force Marne's mission in Iraq began in March, 2007 and ended with the transfer of authority from Headquarters, 3d Infantry Division to Headquarters, 10th Mountain at the beginning of this month. The individual Brigade Combat Teams - the folks who walk the line to make this possible - will rotate at other times, and the MND-C mission will continue, but Task Force Marne has come home.
Now as the Fort Stewart-based division heads home at the end of May, the region stretching south from Baghdad and across central Iraq has become a showcase for what the US military hoped to achieve in Iraq. Violence in the area has plunged by 89 percent since last year.
Lynch paused to remember 152 soldiers killed during the deployment and honored the heroes who continued the cause.This was an MND-C story, too - in more ways than one:
"We held memorial services for each soldier killed and I attended 152 services. Someone who knew them would eulogize the soldier and everyone would be crying including the division commander. After the memorial services, we all donned the battle gear and went back out to fight the insurgents."
Mike Stokely (a member of Georgia's 48th Brigade Combat Team) fell in combat during the 3d ID's previous deployment to Iraq, and is one of over 400 Soldiers now memorialized on Ft Stewart's Warrior's Walk. It was particularly fitting that an MND-C unit was able to distribute these school supplies in his honor this year.
Soldiers of Company C, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), distribute school materials donated by the Mike Stokely Foundation at a school in Mullah Fayad March 27. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Tony M. Lindback, 3rd BCT, 101st Abn. Div. (AASLT))
Stokely, from Sharpsburg, Ga., served with the 48th Georgia National Guard. After his death, his father began the Mike Stokely Foundation.
The organization put together a shipment of school supplies for citizens of the communities where Stokely lived and died. It took an Army five-ton truck to deliver the supplies to the school.
Friends and neighbors, this was the surge.
Thanks for your contributions, too, and the continually fantastic blogging :)Posted by Lisa in DC at June 4, 2008 03:27 AM
God bless the 152 and their families, as well as all of the recovering TF Marne Soldiers who were injured in combat.
They made a difference, and we'll always remember.
Well done and welcome home, TF Marne!Posted by MaryAnn at June 4, 2008 02:08 PM
Change You Can Believe In!Posted by Andi at June 6, 2008 12:12 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(3) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)