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Here is another sign that USFK Commander General Bell has been doing his job exceedingly well, he has officially pissed off the Korean Foreign Ministry:
South Korea expressed concern over "undiplomatic" remarks made by the top U.S. military officer here regarding possible delays in the relocation of U.S. military bases, a Foreign Ministry official said yesterday. Earlier this month, Gen. Burwell Bell, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, said he would "fight" any further delay of the planned base movement. "The comment (made by Gen. Bell) could produce unnecessary misunderstandings, so we delivered an indirect message asking him to be cautious about making comments," the ministry official said on condition of anonymity. The ministry expressed its concern regarding the matter to U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Stephens while she was visiting Seoul last weekend, the official said. But it was not an official warning per se, he added.
You can read General Bell's prior comments here.
Why do I say General Bell is doing his job well you may ask?
It is because he is pissing off the Korean government which is a sure sign that he is not about maintaining the status quo, business as usual USFK relationship in Korea and the Foreign Ministry knows it. Remember the Korean government is all about maintaining the status quo for reasons I have listed before here. Apparently the Foreign Ministry doesn't have the courage to tell General Bell what they think about him themselves, so in order to under cut him, the ministry has decided to complain to the State Department representative visiting Seoul about him. I hope the State Department won't entertain this crap from the Korean Foreign Ministry, but the State Department has a track record for entertaining characters that they shouldn't. Need I bring up Madeline Albright toasting Kim Jong-il for one obvious example?
If the Foreign Ministry wants to talk about being "undiplomatic" let's discuss it. First of all, isn't unilaterally declaring that the Camp Humphreys relocation is going to be delayed by 5 years from the agreed upon date between the US and Korean governments and then the USFK commander first finding out about this by reading the newspaper just a bit undiplomatic? Isn't unilaterally cutting agreed upon money for the upkeep of the US-ROK alliance only weeks after making the agreement undiplomatic? Isn't giving over a billion dollars this year to North Korea while denying USFK the agreed upon money for the upkeep of the US-ROK alliance, which is no where near as much money as the Korean government is sending to North Korea, undiplomatic? Isn't the fact that US pilots had to fly to Thailand to conduct pilot training because the Korean government closed USFK's only bombing range in Korea due to anti-US protesters and then denied the US Air Force co-use of a Korean Air Force bombing range undiplomatic? Isn't the fact that the commanding general of the US Air Force in Korea had to threaten to pull the Air Force from Korea just to get co-use of a Korean Air Force bombing range that the Korean government continued to deny him undiplomatic?
You want more undiplomatic? How about this classic post from One Free Korea listing the undiplomatic comments that leading figures in the Korean government have made towards the US:
* Kim Won Ung, the unmedicated nutcase who holds a senior foreign policy post in the National Assembly, and who threatened to throw our Ambassador out of Korea, railed at Bell for suggesting that North Korean missiles could be viewed as a threat to the South, and even asserted territorial claims on Manchuria;
* Kim Dae Jung, who blamed America for North Korean nuke tests and urged other poliiticians to adopt the same fraudulent spin;
* Current Foreign Minister Song Min Soon: ”[The United States] has fought more wars than any other nation in the history of its establishment and survival ….”;
* “Comrade” Chung Dong-Young, who as UnFiction Minister, published this rambling, illogical, error-riddled screed accusing the U.S. of responsibility for Japan’s occupation of Korea, over a peace treaty it helped broker in 1904, and which won Teddy Roosevelt one of the first Nobel Peace Prizes;
* Chang Yong-Dal, the Uri representative and standing committee member who praised the 9/11/05 thugs who tried to tear down a statue of General MacArthur for their “deep ethnic purity” (the lead thug is now under arrest as a North Korean agent);
* Jung Chung-Rae, the pervy Uri rep who compared the USFK to unclean sperm;
* Presidential Candidate and Uri Leader Kim Geun Tae, who dances for the amusement of the North Koreans the week after they test a nuke; but declares an insult to national pride when the U.S. declares that it will actually implement UN Security Council Resolution 1718;
* Ex-Unification Minister Lee Jong-Seok: “The Bush administration of the U.S. is fundamentalist in nature, and it has been raising questions about drugs and human rights abuses since it took office.”
Read the rest of OFK's post for more great commentary about the demagoguery by the South Korean government towards the US government.
If anything the only one being diplomatic in Korea is General Bell.
The drive by diplomats from the US State Department don't have to put up with the daily demagoguery and anti-US maneuvering by the Korean government that General Bell has had to deal with. General Bell was able to create momentum for the USFK transformation in the past because he had strong backing from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in Washington. Once Rumsfeld was replaced last December the Korean government immediately took this as an opportunity to back out of all USFK transformation and alliance cost sharing agreements.
So far the only one speaking out on the South Korean governmental betrayal of the US troops sent to Korea to help protect the country is General Bell. The Pentagon is so blinded by Iraq that it appears they don't want to even be bothered with USFK related issues. The drive by diplomats from the State Department have been of even less help. American politicians have been just as worthless. Once Congressman Henry Hyde retired from office, the lone voice in Congress that understood what was going in Korea was gone. Why isn't Hillary, Pelosi, Murtha, and the rest of the crew not visiting the 30,000 soldiers helping keep the peace in Korea? Could it be because they care more about being seen by the media in the Green Zone then having any real concern about the welfare of US soldiers, especially ones being betrayed by the US's so called blood allies? The media is no where to be seen in Korea unless Kim Jong-il is launching a missile or testing a nuclear bomb. The inattention to the plight of the USFK commander by the US military brass, political leaders, and media is disgraceful. It appears General Bell truly is a lone voice and the Korean government knows it.
WASHINGTON — James Baker, the co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, on Tuesday endorsed President Bush's troop surge in Iraq, urging the Senate to "give it a chance."As Hillary Clinton said, "The Iraq Study Group has spoken... Even the President’s nominee for Defense Secretary has spoken. Now it’s time for the President to listen and change the course in Iraq.”
"The president's plan ought to be given a chance," Baker told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Just give it a chance."
Baker, a former secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush, said it was wrong for the Senate to confirm Army Gen. David Petreaus to lead the new Iraq mission at the same time it was moving to pass non-binding resolutions opposing the deployment of at least 21,500 U.S. forces to improve security in Baghdad and Al Anbar Province. Some of those forces have already been deployed.
Baker's endorsement could well alter the political dynamic dealing with Senate debate on the president's new Iraq plan. Many critics have cited the ISG, which in November published 79 recommendations for getting the United States of Iraq successfully, as the basis for opposing the troop surge. References to the ISG's military and diplomatic recommendations are cited in both leading resolutions opposing the new Iraq plan.
Who knew she was such a strong supporter of the surge?
In response to outraged New York Times readers, Philip Taubman, the paper's Washington bureau chief, has admonished a correspondent for "stepping over a line" and uttering comments that Taubman declared "were an aberration" - "poorly worded", "his comments on the show went too far.”
T'was the paper’s chief military correspondent, Michael Gordon, who drew his editor's fire. His crime?
Asked on a television show if he believed American victory in Iraq was possible, Gordon replied:
“So I think, you know, as a purely personal view, I think it’s worth it [sic] one last effort for sure to try to get this right, because my personal view is we’ve never really tried to win. We’ve simply been managing our way to defeat. And I think that if it’s done right, I think that there is the chance to accomplish something.”Mr Gordon has promised to never so dishonor his paper or profession again. All done!
Some scattered links from Instapundit that really deserve a compilation, and a closer look. (By the way, this in no way implies Glenn Reynolds shares these opinions/observations - the trendspotting here is all mine.)
One - the NBC video:
Good stuff - you should hear guys like these off-camera.
But here's a gem from the comments section on the youtube page for the video:
You're forgetting that the military has lowered its standards to keep recruitment up. The Army now accepts Neo-nazis and psychiatric patients fresh out of the ward as recruits. This is the result of "people who don't trust their leaders anymore" deciding the military is a bad choice.Back to that in a moment. First, link two - from the NY Times:
There were a few tense moments, however, including an encounter involving Joshua Sparling, 25, who was on crutches and who said he was a corporal with the 82nd Airborne Division and lost his right leg below the knee in Ramadi, Iraq. Mr. Sparling spoke at a smaller rally held earlier in the day at the United States Navy Memorial, and voiced his support for the administration’s policies in Iraq.Sad that the Times reporter didn't have time to confirm that Sparling was indeed an Iraq vet, not just a guy who "said he was". And he is recovering from wounds he recieved "over there". Here are two pictures (linked to sources) from the day of the protests.
Later, as antiwar protesters passed where he and his group were standing, words were exchanged and one of the antiwar protestors spit at the ground near Mr. Sparling; he spit back.
Capitol police made the antiwar protestors walk farther away from the counterprotesters.
“These are not Americans as far as I’m concerned,” Mr. Sparling said.
In the counter-protest:
...and signing an autograph:
Link three includes an email from an Instapundit reader who had wandered through the protest crowds - the whole thing is well worth a read (and appeared in an update that you too may have missed) but here's a quick clip:
I saw three groups of counter protesters. One in front of the National Art Gallery, one just north of the Capitol, and a small group of young Marines standing with a life-size cutout of President Bush. The Marines were taking quite a beating from the crowd, and were definitely keeping their cool quite well.The conclusion is one I draw from more than just these three isolated incidents. I hate to see this, but we're witnessing the ongoing evolution of a trend I spotted almost a year go
...most low ranking military members currently serving joined after the invasion of Iraq, virtually all people serving at this time have either enlisted or re-enlisted in a military at war. One obvious conclusion from this that I didn't put in writing is that this eliminates the "anti-war" crowd's treasured canard that the troops are victims who thought they were signing up for a college financial aid program and were shocked to be handed a weapon and taught how to shoot.Believing that makes it much easier to spit at wounded GIs. The "support the troops - not the war" line can only work for so long. Yes, organized attempts to perpetuate the GI as victim myth (and thus "supportable" for some) are ongoing - but their "success" is nowhere near what was hoped. And yes, deceptive attempts to portray the GIs themselves as admitting they've been handed their asses in Iraq are also ongoing. But eventualy people will notice that when you've got to "fly Iraq veterans to the home states of Republican senators" in order to lend credibility to your protest it might indicate a shortage thereof.
The death of this claim necessitates a new attack - a predictable evolution of the old. To put it in simplest and honest terms it goes like this: the folks that are joining now are lowlifes...
But there must be a reason for that, and it must be that these are lowlifes and Nazis! And the spitting begins.
Is this behavior pervasive in America? Of course not. It is becomming more common - for reasons I state above, and will become more so with time. And there are well meaning people out there who have convinced themselves the troops in Iraq simply lack the benefit of deep knowledge the average American has gained of the situation from headlines and soundbites, and that these poor troops need to be brought out of there for their own good. But eventually these folks (perhaps aided by accurate reports like NBC's above) might realize the absurdity of that position. And while those who really do give a damn about the troops might actually come to support us (beyond the bumper-sticker level) as a result of that epiphany, those whose motives are purely political will find themselves forced to follow the path to the dark side illustrated above.
A path that seems increasingly well travelled.
Update: A travel agent speaks.All done!
Investigating and hopefully punishing leaks of sensitive materials is the intelligence and security version of the "broken windows" theory of crime reduction. If you don't sweat the small things, neither will those inclined to leak.
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- The Marine Corps said Monday that it has ordered a probe into how a government report on the killings of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha was leaked to the news media.
Leaks are kind of like Illinois Nazis, I hate em both.
...you can't measure our success by the number of attacks received because our increased activity, "taking the fight to the enemy," has as much to do with the level of violence as does enemy will/actions. We could reduce attacks on our forces by staying on the FOBs, but that's not how you win a COIN fight. Many commanders are describing the insurgents as fighting desperately to hold onto areas and neighborhoods that they once controlled without question.
A Marine who went to Harvard? I think my head might explode.
I kid, I kid. It's common knowledge that ALL servicemembers who get stuck in Iraq are dumb, not just the Marines.All done!
Contentions, the blog for Commentary Magazine, is having a "week-long discussion of the state of the Iraq war and its regional and global implications." Boot is a bit more pessimistic than Hanson, but here are some excerpts from the opening exchange.
From Hanson's first post:
So where does that leave us? In a race of sorts. On the one side, the Democrats realize that anger over the perceived stasis in Iraq has brought them the Congress and possibly the White House in 2008. On the other side, the administration’s personnel changes, the surge, and a belated public-relations counteroffensive have bought six months to a year (at most) to secure and quiet Baghdad. Democratic critics claimed that they wanted more troops, Rumsfeld’s resignation, and mavericks like General Petraeus in charge—thinking, probably, that President Bush would probably never accede. Now that he has, it will take a few weeks for the Democrats to re-triangulate and refashion credible new opposition to their own earlier demands. (And they must tread carefully while doing it: if the surge works as planned, the Democrats will end up looking foolish on the eve of the 2008 election.)
From Boot's first post:
There hasn’t been a whole lot to cheer since the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon and the elections in Iraq in 2005. In fact both achievements have been undermined in the past year by relentless violence on the part of anti-democratic militias—Hizballah in Lebanon and various Sunni and Shiite factions in Iraq. Lebanon is on the verge of a civil war (as is the Palestinian Authority) and Iraq is already in the early stages of its own civil war.
I am especially crestfallen to see how the situation in Iraq has deteriorated over the past few years. According to the UN, over 34,000 Iraqi civilians died violently last year, more than 36,000 were injured, and more than 470,000 were displaced from their homes. It is scant comfort to say that the violence is confined to four or five provinces out of eighteen. Even if that were true (and recent fighting in Karbala and Najaf undermines the claim), it would be like saying of 9/11, “What’s the big deal? Only two American cities were struck. Hundreds of others remained safe.”
Worth checking out.
The anxiously hyperventilating title of 'Battle suggests new sectarian divides in Iraq' (CS Monitor) is mildly amusing. For the ink spent trying to justify the headline, there are some good bits of information in there. I'm not a dedicated 'Iraq Hand' and there are many far more knowledgable on the various groups, sects and clans than I, but I know enough to do some legwork and listen. So, then, the skinny:
It's not sectarian violence, much to the dismay of every reporter who has written of the Najaf...thing. Murphy calls it "cultish" in the article. Quite generous of him, I guess. Look, it's a cult. Think of Abu Qamar al-Yamani and Jund al-Sama (Army of Heaven) as Jim Jones, David Koresh and Hal Lindsay in a mosque and you'll get the picture. As wrong as he is on so many things, Juan Cole actually makes an important point that Murphy failed to drive home enough to paint an appropriate picture.
"In Shiite Islam there is this very strong millenarian trend, similar to Christian movements that think Christ is about to return,'' says Juan Cole, a professor of Middle East history at the University of Michigan. "So just like some millenarian evangelicals think that the pope is the antichrist, they would see the ayatollahs as ... usurpers of his rightful role."
And that is central to what this whole....thing...was about. But then the wheels come off Cole's wagon.
While Professor Cole is skeptical of the view that such millenarian movements are always triggered by social or economic upheaval, he says, "I'm comfortable in saying that in this particular case this movement that's fighting outside of Najaf is certainly enabled by the chaos in Iraq for the past decade and a half."
In a sense, he's right. But it wasn't the 'chaos' of the last decade and a half. It was the fact that Abu Qamar al-Yamani and his Jund al-Sama ('Qamar' has the connotation of meaning 'The Sign' [of the return of the Mahdi]) so hated the Shi'a mullahs of Iran that al-Yamani and his merry cult sided with Saddam. Thus, this particularly nutty band of commune-dwelling apocalyptic sky watchers had the rare Shi'a distinction of protection from the Hussein regime. And it grew.
And al-Yamani (of Basra, not Yemen) was the lucky recipient of reprieve from another ruthless Sunni killer, AQI's al-Masri. Recall the chastising that Zarqawi received from bin Laden & Zawahiri for not reaching out to the local tribes & clans and being too bloodthirsty. Al-Masri came in and began mending the fences. He likely figured he just might find some use for al-Yamani and his bizarre little cult. But it allowed him to extend the hand to the Shi'a without, well, really doing it with anyone that mattered.
There's a reason that we've never heard of Jund al-Sama and it's Arab Jim Jones. They've never done anything, really.
They storm Najaf during the Ashura pilgrimage...on horseback. Picture the scene in Najaf during this time....thousands and thousands pouring into the city for a religious holiday where the streets are filled with not only travelers, but all kinds of performances with plays and re-enactments of the old times, etc. And here comes this cloud of dust with horses racing towards the city. After all, the Mahdi is coming. Charge!
As the article states, they are intent on killing the religious leaders, including Sistani who is viewed as a sort of 'anti-Christ' for lack of a better term. Apparently, along the way, they didn't mind taking swipes at the pilgrims as they made their way in sort of a Holy Cultic Cavalry Charge...on horseback...with swords.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to do the math: Lunatics on horses with swords vs. Iraqi police & army troops with AK-47's and surely some heavier lead spraying devices. I'll look a little harder, but I am sure that there is a report somewhere of more Iraqi police or army casualties.
It conjures images of the scene in Lawrence of Arabia where Fisal's truly brave horsemen raise their swords and charge in futility after the Turkish bi-planes dropping bombs on their tents.
Question: How is it that "500 rifles were confiscated along with mortars, heavy calibre machine guns, and Katyusha rockets" while about 350 of them were killed and yet only a handful of Iraqi troops were wounded?
Answer: By attacking a walled city on horseback with swords.
No reports of fired Katyusha rockets, mortars or machine guns. Just captured. Odd, no? They obviously weren't used by the Pale Riders storming Najaf. So...whose were they?
But even still...
"It's the sectarian violence, stupid! What's Bush going to do now?"
Sometimes, things happen in the world that actually have nothing to do with America, Americans or even their hated president. Go figure.
Relax. It's (was, sorry) a cult, stupid. Who's going to be the new Arab Jones-Koresh-Lindsay now?All done!
By the way, in the speech, you spoke about the Democrats. You said, you congratulated the Democrat majority. And I notice your prepared text said Democratic majority. I surely think that you know that for the Democrats, they think when you say Democrat, it's like fingernails on the blackboard. They don't like it. They like you to say Democratic.We certainly don't want to upset the Democratics.
Man, do I need a training program to get you guys up to speed on this whole innernets movie phenomenon?
If you want folks to follow your links, you gotta give a sample of what awaits (especially during the MilBlogs Movie Festival...)
No official word from US sources yet:
MR. WILLIAMS: All right, Mr. President, the reports that 300 militants were killed, an American helicopter shot down yesterday in Najaf – that's one of the deadliest battles of the war, what can you tell us?But regardless of the numbers, a significant action has occurred - and Iraqi forces were very much involved.
PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, Juan, I haven't been briefed by the Pentagon yet. One of the things I've learned is not to react to first reports off the battlefield.
You'd think it might be hard to turn victory into defeat, but where there's a will there's a way:
The incident is a reminder of the swirling agendas now at play in Iraq and the turbulent political waters US troops are wading into as more soldiers arrive and President Bush has vowed to stand by Shiite Islamist Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.That from a Christian Science Monitor story headlined Battle suggests new sectarian divides in Iraq.
I have a soft part in my heart for Fisher House.. having been a guest at the Landstuhl Fisher House for a few days. However, the Fisher Family began and supports a number of Foundations that support our military and our veterans and their families... And not just in name, but in intent and their ability to get things done. There, of course, is the Fisher House Foundation. And then there is the Intrepid Foundation which supports a number of noteworthy causes: the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which provides financial support for the families of United States military personnel who have been lost in the line of duty, and Fleet Week, a celebration honoring the men and women of our nation's military.
Recognizing the need for a state-of-the-art facility for the rehabilitation of disabled veterans -- not just resulting from the Iraq and Afganistan campaigns but for all veterans with a need -- the Intrepid Foundation set out to get that facility designed, funded and built. THEY DID IT!!!
The best part?? This facility was built with money donated by the American people. 600,000 people built this facility for American Heroes.
Read more at Some Soldier's Mom
Don't forget to DONATE... there is still lots to be done!
After watching Sen. Clinton and the Speaker of the House: I think we could all use some comic relief.
I got this idea from Bubblehead. Miss having Midwatch? Want to remember what it was like at sea? Never been to sea? About halfway through Episode 4 of "Hey Shipwreck" - you have the Sailor to English translator that will make this Monday go a lot easier.
Three days in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan have made House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even more certain of her view that moving troops out of Iraq is the best way to bring stability to the region, she told The Chronicle on Sunday.
Speaking from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, Pelosi said the nation owes its troops a better policy than the one now being pursued by President Bush, and emphasized the importance of reconstructing the war-torn region.
"Sadly, there was nothing that we saw there that would say that the plan we have been proposing should be changed,'' Pelosi said of her visit.
But Nancy supports our troops. She traveled all the way to Iraq to make that known.
Pelosi said the prime mission of the trip was to offer support for the troops, whom she said were quite interested in meeting with the delegation.
"Our purpose was to salute our troops and commend them for their patriotism, their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of their families.''
Yeah, yeah, yeah....
There is a fundamental contradiction in all this non-binding resolution talk. It kind of looks like this:
First, the "this is a vitally important vote!" position:
"This is a tough business. But is it any tougher, us having to take a tough vote, express ourselves and have the courage to step up on what we're asking our young men and women to do?" (link)
Versus the "Hey, we're just talkin'" position:
"It is not the American people or the U.S. Congress that is emboldening the enemy. It is the failed policy of this president" (source)
And now, a hypothetical:
Suppose the Senate passed a resolution, non-binding of course, stating that it was the collective opinion of the Senate that the War was fought under false pretenses, that our military is there illegally, and incidents like Hamdania , Abu Ghraib, and Haditha were not isolated crimes but rather indicative of the military operation in Iraq writ large as a whole (naturally the fault of Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney). As a result, all members of the military currently in Iraq are probably guilty of some type of war crime (reminiscent of "Jenjis Khan").
Now, this resolution wouldn't have any binding effect. There'd be no change in current policy; no decrease in funding; and no promise or threat of pending legal action against these "war criminals." But might such a resolution (remember, non-binding, gotta keep throwing that in there), have SOME effect on (1) how those deployed perceive the level support they receive at home; and (2) how those opposing us might feel about their prospects?
The number is now 300.
Something has happened, a battle did take place. But my first take on this is that the numbers are as believable as Jamil Hussein (6 Iraqis burned to death in the street) or the Association of Muslim Scholars (184 mosques destroyed.) But I admit I could be wrong. Unnamed ministry spokesman have been proven wrong before, but thus far the media is covering this without question.
CENTCOM or MNF-I should be able to make a statement today. It will be interesting to see what follows. If it plays out like the Hussein/Association stories did, "roaring silence" is the answer. Somehow I don't expect that.
...on the protests and counter-protests in D.C. this past weekend.
Among the counter-protesters, Pfc Joshua Sparling.
This flick has promise.
Of course I'll admit I'm biased. I'm a sucker for Vietnam films that manage to avoid the "military ruined my life" narrative.
This submarine helped revived a type of ship that U.S. Navy really hadn't used in 100 years. And lead to "grams" and bases in places like Adak, Newfoundland, Bermuda, Guam and more. And boring, but very important duty.
And a spy helped devalue it for military purposes.
I'd shout this from the rooftops but where are them what have ears to hear?
Just posted a new version of that vacation video - didn't realize how low the volume was the first time as I used headphones when setting it up.
Live and learn. (At least, some of us do.)
Is this accurate?
U.S.-backed Iraqi troops on Sunday attacked insurgents allegedly plotting to kill pilgrims at a major Shiite Muslim religious festival, and Iraqi officials estimated some 250 militants died in the daylong battle near Najaf."Iraqi officials estimated" is the key phrase...
(For the record, in case I'm not clear here, this isn't very likely.)
A plot to kill Grand Ayatollah Sistani triggered the intense fighting when Iraqi security forces intervened to stop the plot. Iraqi officials estimated that 600 gunmen were involved in the battle that it now says is 90 percent complete.The media likes to over-hype Sadr's role among Iraq's Shi'ia. He holds sway over a large gang of thugs, but Sistani is the real deal, and revered by millions of Iraqis. This may get very interesting.
Meanwhile, here are a few verified stories from MNF-I.
Iraqi Police and Marines completed Operation Three Swords in an area south of Fallujah Tuesday. The purpose of the operation was to detain members of murder and intimidation cells within the rural area of Zaidon and the villages of Albu Hawa, Fuhaylat and Hasa.8 HOSTAGES RESCUED, 9 TERRORISTS DETAINED IN ARAB JABOUR
It was led by the Iraqi Police with support from the Marines of Regimental Combat Team 6 and Marines and soldiers of I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) Headquarters Group.
During the operation, members of the Fallujah police Department and Coalition Forces discovered a torture house and rescued three individuals. Two of the hostages were transported and treated at Camp Fallujah. The third hostage was transported by helicopter to Camp Taqqadum for further treatment.
Torture devices were found and confiscated. The house was demolished by Coalition Forces in order to remove the reminder of such violence from the landscape. Also, one of the victims asked that it be destroyed so that no one will ever be taken there and tortured like him.
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition Forces rescued eight Iraqi citizens who had been tortured while being held hostage in Arab Jabour Wednesday. During the same operation, ground forces also detained nine terrorist suspects while conducting a raid targeting a vehicle-borne improvised explosives devices network.FOURTEEN INSURGENTS KILLED, FOREIGN FIGHTER SAFE HOUSE DESTROYED SOUTH OF BAQUBAH
According to the hostages who were tied up and hidden in an underground bunker, they were tortured, beaten, deprived of food and water and told they were being held for ransom. One of the hostages reported he had been held hostage for 50 days, and another for 47 days. Another hostage indicated the terrorists had captured other Iraqis and tortured them before receiving ransom payments.
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition Forces killed 14 terrorists, detained two suspected terrorists and destroyed a known foreign fighter safe house Saturday morning during a raid south of Baqubah.Iraq Army Saves Iraqi Family from Terrorist Threat near Taji
Intelligence reports indicated that a foreign fighter facilitator responsible for conducting multiple attacks on Iraqi and Coalition Forces was operating in the area.
BAGHDAD – Special Iraqi Army Forces conducted operations with coalition advisors Jan. 25 near Taji to save an Iraqi family who was being threatened by terrorists linked to al Qaeda in Iraq.IA Captures Leader Of Terrorist Bombing Cell in Mosul
Iraqi forces were able to evacuate all six family members from the hostile environment to the safety of an Iraqi Army compound in Baghdad. One person was taken into Iraqi custody for questioning.
BAGHDAD – Soldiers of the 2nd Iraqi Army Division captured the suspected leader of a terrorist bombing cell, during operations with Coalition advisors Jan. 26 in Mosul, who is allegedly responsible for coordinating and participating in multiple mortar, small arms and improvised explosive device attacks against Iraqi Forces and Coalition Forces.IP Captures Leader Of Terrorist Bombing Cell Near Haswah
The cell leader was allegedly involved in an IED attack carried out against an Iraqi Police convoy in Mosul last year. He is also implicated in coordinating and conducting IED.
BAGHDAD – Special Iraqi Police Forces captured the suspected leader of a terrorist bombing cell during operations with Coalition advisors Jan. 25 in northern Babil Province near Haswah. The cell leader is responsible for coordinating and carrying out improvised explosive device attacks against Iraqi civilians and security forces in the area.Nine insurgents killed during weapons distribution
The cell is suspected of being linked to al Qaeda in Iraq and facilitates AQI efforts in targeting Iraqi Security and Coalition Forces in IED and indirect fire attacks. The cell is believed responsible for several attacks against ISF and CF convoys in Babil Province. The cell is also suspected of murdering Iraqi civilians in sectarian attacks and ambushes.
Iraqi Forces detained eight additional suspects for questioning.
There was minimal damage done to the objective. There were no Iraqi civilian, Iraqi Forces or Coalition Forces casualties.
CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq –American Soldiers observed six insurgents unloading AK-47 rifles into a building near the gas station in Central Ramadi Jan. 23. The soldiers attacked the insurgents with grenades and gunfire killing three and wounding the other three.CCCI convicts 11 insurgents
Another adjacent Coalition post was subsequently attacked by six insurgents later the same morning. The Soldiers defended themselves and killed three of the attackers and wounded another three.
There have been false reports of Coalition Force members killing six Iraqi civilians waiting in line at the gas station. One report suggested Coalition forces killed 10 Iraqis.
“While we do everything we can not to harm civilians, we will do all we can to both eliminate insurgents distributing weapons and defend ourselves against attack,” said Coalition spokesman Maj. Alan F. Crouch.
Two hours later in the same area, the same Coalition Force members observed additional insurgents distributing hand grenades to approximately seven others near the same building as before. The insurgents then attacked the Coalition outpost. Coalition force members defended themselves killing three of the assailants and injuring three more.
A total of nine insurgents were killed and nine were injured the morning of the 23rd in Ramadi. There were no Coalition or civilian casualties.
BAGHDAD, Iraq – The Central Criminal Court of Iraq convicted 11 security detainees from January 13 to 18, for various crimes including possession of illegal weapons, taking advantage of someone else’s legal documents and illegal border crossing.There are plenty more stories, of course, but I wanted to limit this to just this past weekend. All done!
The trial court found one Iraqi man guilty of illegal possession of special category weapons in violation of Order 3/2003. Multi-National Forces conducted a raid of the defendant’s compound near Tameem, Iraq. MNF searched the buildings and found numerous explosives including 35 pounds of ammonium nitrate. On Jan. 15, the trial panel sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment.
Well, probably not a theater.
Representative John Conyers attended yesterday's [fill-in-the-blank] rally. To continue Greyhawk's weekend at the movies theme, looks like a new film is in the works.
Jane Fonda returned to the peace movement, calling upon Americans not to forget the lessons of Vietnam. I had a chance to speak to Sean Penn and Tim Robbins, who have also used their celebrity as movie stars to bring the media focus to the growing anti-war movement.
PDA, Code Pink and the Institute of Policy Studies all made significant contributions to the events today.
But perhaps the most powerful voices heard today were those from military families, grieving for lost loved ones. Their personal stories cut at your heart like nothing else.
I spoke with some filmmakers doing a piece for the Huffington Post today so I am hoping that you may get to hear directly from some of these military families on the pages here later.
The brewing fight in Congress over continued funding of the war in Iraq will not be the country's first. It's an ominous reminder of 1975, when Congress cut off funding for the Vietnam War three years after our combat troops had left.
With the assistance we promised South Vietnam in the 1972 Paris Accords — U.S. equipment, replacement parts and ammunition — it had won every major battle since we left. But Congress lost the will to keep our promise and killed the appropriation. The result was a bloodbath.
In military jargon, simply fighting terrorism is not strategic; it is tactical. In crafting a larger national security strategy, Congress needs to know and inform the will of the people.
We never did this during the Vietnam War, nor has any Congress or administration in recent memory seemed willing to trust the American people to understand and make choices about what is at stake and what we are willing to pay in time, money and lives.
Congress must also realize that if there is no settlement in the Middle East, the price of oil will more than double. Lawmakers must recognize the threat this poses to our economy.
Melvin, I appreciate your efforts at attempting to educate the people. A couple of points however.
Using the economy as an argument is problematic.
In the US, there is no collectively memory of what a "bad" economy looks or feels like. The last time annual unemployment was in the double digits was 1940. People have forgotten that the last time there was a Worldwide Depression, the World held a Worldwide War to fix it.
The price of oil isn't a very good argument either. People refuse to believe supply and demand effects the price of gas at the fuel pump, they want to believe it is the evil oil companies that refuse to give it away.
A better argument is that Germany and Japan have no oil. When the oil fields of the Middle East are all in flames, the Germans and Japanese will be cold ,unemployed and angry. Point out that the last time the Germans and Japanese were cold,unemployed and angry, they held a Word War, and invited everyone to participate.
(Updated: Now with EXTRA VOLUME!!!)
MilBlogs weekend at the movies continues with a vacation video from Nancy P & Co.
Update: At about the :55 second point in the video, a quick clip shows Ms Pelosi addressing the troops in Iraq: "...let's talk about the intelligence that got us into war... that'll be interesting to start with..." Whatever she said before or after that line is not on the video.
It's a very tricky situation for a GI in combat to engage a politician on this topic, but given that the Speaker began the discussion I believe this might be an appropriate and safe response:
"I'm not concerned about that. Whether they were there or not, I salute the president for the goal of removing weapons of mass destruction."
You can even credit the original source. It's Nancy Pelosi.
"The infidel Major John is tired, and he is a day late - but he still has the News, curse him!"
More from the Pentagon Channel - a look at this week's action in Baghdad:
“The face of antiwar is not what it was in the ’70s,”
- antiwar activist quoted in the following story.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 — Tens of thousands of demonstrators are set to arrive in the capital this weekend for a major antiwar march, staging the first of several protests intended to persuade the new Democratic-controlled Congress to do more than simply speak against President Bush’s Iraq policy.The socialist action group MoveOn.org is leading the charge, but this time they've got new sponsors:
Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, a coalition of labor unions, MoveOn.org and other groups that have traditionally rallied against wars, has raised $1.5 million since it was formed two weeks ago. The group is singling out Republicans and Democrats who have spoken out against the war, but who have so far declined to pledge support for a resolution denouncing Mr. Bush’s plan to increase the number of troops.Now they'll be using airplanes instead of buses to compensate for the shortage of anti-war vets:
Americans Against Escalation in Iraq receives its organizational and financial muscle, at least in part, from the Service Employees International Union, the largest labor organization in the country, which wields significant influence in Democratic politics. For the first time, the union is speaking out against the plan to increase troops in Iraq.
“There was an election that showed clear consequences,” said Andrew L. Stern, the president of the union. “It’s incumbent on Democrats to express their disagreement with the president.”
Next week, the group intends to fly Iraq veterans to the home states of Republican senators who serve on the Foreign Relations Committee and voted Wednesday against the resolution condemning the administration plan, including Senators Norm Coleman of Minnesota and John E. Sununu of New Hampshire. Television advertisements are scheduled to be shown in some of the same states in an effort to apply pressure before the Senate vote on the resolution in early February.As a public service to any novice protestors who might attend, here are the Do's and Don'ts of protesting.
If members of Congress are slowly finding their voice opposing the administration’s Iraq plan, aides to lawmakers say, it is in no small part because of the face-to-face lobbying campaign that is a central piece of the strategy employed by Americans Against Escalation in Iraq. The group plans to spend up to $9 million, said its spokesman, Brad Woodhouse, which they expect to raise through Internet solicitations and individual donations.
Mr. Soltz and nearly a dozen other veterans have been walking the halls of Congress, and they have had no problems getting appointments. One day last week, they held back-to-back meetings with Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, Democrats who are running for president in 2008.
Washington -- A small number of active military troops will take part in today's rally in Washington against the Iraq war, co-founders of an active-duty protest group say.All done!
One of the founders of Appeal for Redress, Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto, said he planned to speak at the protest on the National Mall.
The difference? One is straightforward news, a presentation of facts, and the other is an opinion piece masked as news. In defense of the Times effort, it does relieve the reader of the burden of thinking for themselves.
Via the Pentagon Channel, Secretary of Defense Gates on the potential impact of congressional resolutions opposing military operations in Iraq.
The reason for the setting? Secretary Gates wants a less formal environment than the briefing room to address the media.
Something to remember when you hear someone say Bush "ignored the Iraq Study Group": Gates was a member.
We're happy to help publicize.
One word, though, boys and girls.
give away buy the farm just to be on TV.
The Military Channel is seeking personal videos from members of the U.S. Military to let soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines tell their story directly to viewers. Real-life moments captured on film by service members will be broadcast on the Military Channel as part of a new on-air programming initiative. Servicemen and women anywhere in the world who brought a camcorder with them on a recent deployment, or those who currently have a camera with them on the frontlines, can submit their videos directly to the Military Channel.
Additional information is available from a recent DOD release:
As well as a recent piece that aired on the Pentagon Channel:
Personal videos can be submitted online at www.mywardiary.com, or mailed to the address below. Or email email@example.com for more information.
8045 Kennett Street
Silver Spring , MD 20910
The Military Channel is owned and operated by Discovery Communications, Inc. More information about Discovery and its businesses can be found at www.discovery.com.
Sorry to hog all the space here today, but what a busy news day this is turning out to be.
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., has scheduled a hearing next Tuesday in his Judiciary Committee subcommittee to explore whether Congress has the authority to cut off funding for the U.S. military campaign in Iraq. The move comes as Congress prepares to vote on a congressional resolution opposing President Bush's escalation of the war.
Feingold, a fierce war critic, will force Democrats to consider an option many consider politically suicidal: denying funds to the military and U.S. soldiers to force a quicker end to the war. Democratic leaders have privately called on members to restrain from cutting off funding and focus on congressional resolutions condemning the Bush policy. The resolutions are nonbinding and therefore symbolic.
Yep. Very easy to hold symbolic votes then run to the cameras and proclaim your support of the troops. But...putting ones true beliefs to the test, in public and on the record, without nuance.... Well, a much harder thing for most politicians to do.
"Congress holds the power of the purse and if the president continues to advance his failed Iraq policy, we have the responsibility to use that power to safely redeploy our troops from Iraq," Feingold said in a statement released by his office on Thursday. "I will soon be introducing legislation to use the power of the purse to end what is clearly one of the greatest mistakes in the history of the nation's foreign policy."
Let's have this debate. I'm all for it.
I feel for the troops who will be spending some time with their latest guest.
Update: Lookie, lookie. Now I feel even sorrier for the troops.
A U.S. embassy official said Pelosi, the first woman speaker of the House, had arrived in Iraq at the head of a six-member congressional delegation for meetings with Iraqi and U.S. officials but did not plan any public appearances.
The delegation includes John Murtha, a Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania, who has also been vocal in his criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the war.
I hope he stays away from the Marines....
Sen. Charles Schumer, architect of the new Democratic Senate majority, argues that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the 2008 elections will not center on Iraq.
"I think Iraq will not be as strong an issue in the 2008 elections," said the senior senator from New York, as he enters his second straight cycle as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "I think the surge will fail and the president will have no choice but to begin removing troops."
What happens if the so-called "surge" works and undeniable progress is documented and all the political naysayers are left with egg on their faces. In that case, of course the elections will not center on Iraq, now will they?
Since its creation, Military.com has proven itself as an excellent clearinghouse for soldier support and related resources. That they’re also a good friend to MILBLOGS and MILBLOGGERS and military families, earns them special praise.
They tipped me off to two services that I wanted to highlight for MILBLOGGERS and their readership, if they haven’t already seen them.
From a Military.com mailing:
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Website LaunchedThe PTSD website sounds like a very helpful addition in an area of great need. No matter how attentive the military remains, and no matter how much the Veterans Administration (VA) tries to help, undiagnosed and unidentified sufferers of PTSD refuse to avail themselves of treatment options, especially if they involve any official recognition of their condition. Contrary to what war protesters and other anti-military types might allege, this has nothing to do with a “callous and uncaring military,” and everything to do with the soldiers themselves, their character, tendency to “tough it out,” and desire to remain in service.
Barbara Romberg, a psychologist with a private practice in Washington, D.C., has created a single website to link licensed counselors with U.S. troops affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from serving Afghanistan and Iraq. More
Program Serves Wounded Warriors
The Army's Wounded Warrior Program, dubbed AW2, is designed for soldiers severely wounded in the war on terror. AW2 provides information and assistance to aid soldiers and their families through the recovery process and beyond. More
Not that the military or VA sometimes doesn’t contribute to soldier reluctance; many of the guys in treatment talk about the difficulties they encounter, such as when they get classified as 100% disabled. For soldiers still seeking a meaningful return to civilian life – or even to remain in service for that matter – such classifications and the limitations they impose can be frustrating. In any case, having a clearinghouse of resources that soldiers can access on their own has got to be a helpful addition to the panoply of services available.
The AW2 Program sounds like another excellent program. Many of us are familiar with Project Valour-IT and scores of other Soldiers Angels networked services, many of which specifically support wounded veterans and their families. AW2 provides another level of support for these who have sacrificed much in service to their nation.
And again, thanks to military.com for bringing these fine services to wider attention.
(Cross-posted at Dadmanly)
In thinking about the Long War I know that all the different kinds of Islamists work together: Thai, Indonesian, American, Chechnyan, et cetera. The Shiite fighters also work with the Al-Qaeda types when they see it fit to not kill each other instead. Hezballah's information ops success in Lebanon is teaching lessons to both sides.
Troops Battle Insurgents In Central Baghdad
With attack helicopters circling overhead, U.S. and Iraqi forces waged an intense battle Wednesday to clear armed men from high-rise buildings in a strategic Baghdad neighborhood that had been the scene of a similar day of combat two weeks ago.
The fighting along Haifa Street, a Sunni-dominated area on the west bank of the Tigris River, began before dawn and lasted well into the day, with insurgents firing down from tall buildings, U.S. military officials said.
"We have intelligence information that the terrorist group is back and trying to take some other places," said Ali Dabbagh, a spokesman for the prime minister. "It's a very strategic and important location. It's in the middle of Baghdad; it has a view of all of Baghdad."
Explosions could be heard coming from the area and thick black smoke rose above the high-rises that line the street. The military said it seized a cache of weapons, including numerous rocket-propelled grenades and antitank rounds, during the raid.
More than 30 "terrorists" were arrested during the operation and roughly 25 were killed, Dabbagh said Wednesday night. A U.S. military spokesman, Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, said he was aware of seven arrests and did not know whether anyone had died.
Iraqi Official Offers Terms From Militia To Avoid FightUpdate: Yes, it throws off the title of the post, but here's a third, and it's one of the best pieces of reporting I've ever seen on the war.
An Iraqi official authorized to speak on behalf of field commanders for the country’s most powerful militia has approached Western military officials and laid out a plan to avoid armed confrontation, senior Iraqi and American officials said this week.
The official is Rahim al-Daraji, the elected mayor of the Sadr City district, the vast grid in the northeast corner of the capital that is the stronghold of the militia, the Mahdi Army. Mr. Daraji has met twice in the past two weeks with Lt. Gen. Graeme Lamb, a British officer who is the deputy commanding general in Iraq, said a senior Iraqi official in the office of the prime minister.
During the meetings, which took place on Jan. 17 and, most recently, on Monday, Mr. Daraji laid out a proposal from what he said were all the major political and militia groups in Sadr City, the senior Iraqi official said. The groups were eager to head off a major American military offensive in the district, home to two million Shiites, as the Americans begin a sweeping new effort to retake the streets of Baghdad.
Did ya'll catch Sen. Webb's Eisenhower quote during his response to the SOTU?
As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate. "When comes the end?" asked the General who had commanded our forces in Europe during World War Two. And as soon as he became President, he brought the Korean War to an end.I think I have one that beats him.
We have yet to complete the job, he so well advanced at such great cost; for victory in war is barren until a secure peace has been established. Young men who have not yet done their share must now come forward to help bear the burden. May the memory of what the fighting man accomplished inspire in us a high resolve to see the job through.Full transcript and video of Ike's speech in '46 over at my place.
...and a gracious human being. Franco Harris - yer a good man.
...at the 2007 MilBlog Conference.
We're getting close to making some announcements, see here for the latest.
It should be read in its entirety, but a small sample:
These are the "liberal" candidates for everlasting guilt when the next holocaust occurs:
-- All you "supporters of our troops" who root for the insurgents because American deaths will embarrass Bush and all you "supporters of Israel's right to exist" who root for Hizbollah because Israeli deaths will embarrass Bush; you are both treasonous to your home and treacherous to your friends. There is no lower place in the human condition, whatever your religion, faith, or philosophy. The suffering you deserve will come.
An article (very incomplete) in McPaper yesterday had me doing a little digging about who in Congress actually has a family member serving in the military. You wouldn't know it by the WaPo and NYT, but Senator Web isn't the only one. I think I figured out why the Marines do so well when it comes to Congressional issues. Look at the breakout: Total count 10 USMC, 7 Army, 3 Navy (+ 2 at Annapolis). 0 Air Force. 0 Coast Guard.
More details below the fold.
I think Missouri is holding its own. Notice that they all come from the Mountain West, Mid-West/Plains, and the South with one California in the mix.
Killed in Combat:
Baucus-D-MT: nephew (USMC)
Family members serving:
Biden-D-DE: son (Delaware National Guard)
Johnson-D-SD: son (Army)
Musgrave-R-CO: son (Navy)
Wilson-R-SC: 3 sons: (2 SC National Guard, 1 Navy)
Skelton-D-MO: 2 sons (Army and Navy)
Aiken-R-MO: son (USMC) plus another son about to graduate from Annapolis
Webb-D-VA: son (USMC)
Emerson-R-MO: stepdaughter (Army)
Hunter-R-CA: son (USMC)
Ros-Lehtinen-R-FL: stepson (USMC) and daughter-in-law (USMC)
Brownback-R-KS: niece (USMC) and nephew (USMC)
Hulshof-R-MO: brother-in-law (Army)
Bond-R-MO: son (USMC)
McCain-R-AZ: son (USMC) plus another son about to graduate from Annapolis
This was a tad tough to put together. If I missed anyone, let me know and I will update.All done!
A look at results from that Military Times poll.
Some results from other topics below the fold. Lesbians and feminists will be particularly disappointed.
Do you think openly homosexual people should he allowed to serve in the military?
Yes — 283
No — 560
Don’t know — 100
Should the U.S. start drafting men into the military?
Yes, permanently — 12
Yes, temporarily — 34
No — 288
No Opinion - 620
Should the U.S. start drafting women into the military?
Yes, permanently — 104
Yes, temporarily — 91
No — 694
No opinion — 65
Not sure why unlike the draft question they weren't allowed to have "no opinion" on the homosexual issue, but could claim ignorance if they wanted.
The last two members of the Axis of Evil are at it again:
North Korea is helping Iran to prepare an underground nuclear test similar to the one Pyongyang carried out last year. Under the terms of a new understanding between the two countries, the North Koreans have agreed to share all the data and information they received from their successful test last October with Teheran's nuclear scientists. North Korea provoked an international outcry when it successfully fired a bomb at a secret underground location and Western intelligence officials are convinced that Iran is working on its own weapons programme.
A senior European defence official told The Daily Telegraph that North Korea had invited a team of Iranian nuclear scientists to study the results of last October's underground test to assist Teheran's preparations to conduct its own — possibly by the end of this year. There were unconfirmed reports at the time of the Korean firing that an Iranian team was present. Iranian military advisers regularly visit North Korea to participate in missile tests.
Now the long-standing military co-operation between the countries has been extended to nuclear issues.
Some how I don't see the UN, Europeans, or the Democrats doing anything to stop the obvious violations by Iran of the UN sanctions placed on North Korea last year because of their ballistic missile and nuclear weapon tests. Could it be that the Iranians are trying to speed up their nuclear weapons program because they feel a US or Israeli attack is imminent?
You don't deploy an extra carrier group and PATRIOT missiles to the Middle East to fight an insurgency.
The Corner tipped us off to a most valuable confluence of thoughtful analysis and serious attention to the threat of Islamist terrorism, over at City Journal. For there, Christopher Hitchens reviews what he (or the editors at City Journal) characterizes as a welcome wake-up call, in Mark Steyn’s America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It.
I’ve just finished Steyn’s scrappy call to arms. I enthusiastically recommend it to anyone with a serious concern about militant Islamic theology, Islamic inspired terrorism, and the global propaganda networks that spread hate and violence to a world-wide audience.
Hitchens, though appreciative of Steyn’s cultural analysis and equally alarmed about the threat in general, faults Steyn for what he sees as an inadequate comprehension of divisions and “conflicts of interest” within the Muslim community, as well as overly simplistic (perhaps jingoistic?) prescriptions for what we ought to do about it, once we acknowledge the danger.
I am a big fan of both these writers, and account them both among the most important voices among those who see the threat for what it is, and advocate an aggressive Western response to that threat. That doesn’t mean they don’t have their differences.
(More of Hitchens review of Steyn's great book over at Dadmanly.)
ABC newsman Chris Cuomo narrowly escaped harm in Iraq yesterday when a roadside explosion crippled the armored Humvee he was riding in but the shrapnel failed to fully penetrate the vehicle.Video report here.
"I got very, very lucky," Cuomo, 36, said in a telephone interview from Baghdad. He praised "the greatness of the soldiers" involved, saying: "I know if I had been there with any other group of individuals, I would not be able to have this conversation."
Cuomo, the news anchor of "Good Morning America" and the son of former New York governor Mario Cuomo, was embedded with a U.S. military police unit in Baghdad when his convoy of four Humvees responded to a report of a burning Iraqi police car. On the side of the road, the unit noticed some bodies, which turned out to be booby-trapped with an improvised bomb. The device exploded with massive force.
"It rocked the entire vehicle, blew out the tires on two of the vehicles, destroyed much of the glass, rocked the vehicles in a very, very big way," Cuomo said on "Good Morning America." "A piece of shrapnel was barely stopped by this armored door. It came within fractions of an inch of going through the entire vehicle."
The unit came under heavy small-arms fire, and Cuomo was trapped inside his disabled Humvee. He said another military unit arrived and provided cover while his and another crippled vehicle were towed to safety. No soldiers were wounded in the incident.
A hubcap-size piece of shrapnel broke the glass of one of the Humvees, creating a five-inch indentation in the armor, Cuomo said. He said his vehicle had less armored plating and that the situation could have been "catastrophic" if it had been hit by shrapnel of that size.
What impressed him most, Cuomo said, was the way the gunner, still spitting glass from a shattered window, sprang into action without complaint.
By the way, this is the enemy: On the side of the road, the unit noticed some bodies, which turned out to be booby-trapped with an improvised bomb.
This is us: the gunner, still spitting glass from a shattered window, sprang into action without complaint.
In advance of the President's State of the Union Address, I was invited to be a guest for a 7-9 minute segment on a show called "Top Priority" (a show on "women's issues") on ABC's News Now... According to the show's producer, I was being invited to discuss one of the biggest issues facing our nation -- Iraq -- as the President prepared for his State of the Union Address. They said they were looking forward to hearing about my experiences as the mother of a soldier and how I felt about the situation in Iraq. Just a chat between moms. So I agree to the interview... after all I write a blog about what it's like to be a mom of a soldier.... After the first question and response from the other mother...
I'm thinking, Great. I have Hillary or Nancy in the other chair! Close. Turns out it was Barbara Boxer’s friend, Anne Roesler (thanks MaryAnn for the heads up!) not to mention Nancy Pelosi’s darling. While there was a small legend that appeared and quickly disappeared under Ms. Roesler’s picture, turns out that Anne Roesler is no ordinary, average “military mom”, but a practiced anti-war speaker and writer -- AND HAS BEEN SINCE BEFORE THE WAR ACTUALLY BEGAN. And -- as it turns out -- not just any anti‑war speaker, but a member of Military Families Speak Out, a contributor at MichaelMoore.com… a friend of Ms Sheehan… and she’s also a spokesperson for United for Peace & Justice. She’s even been honored as a “social activist” by the Communist Party.
oh yes.. there's more... with links... the whole thing over at Some Soldier's Mom
...and by the way, shut up, because who the hell asked you?
Hadn't caught this detail before:
When questioned directly, Petraeus said he would not be able to do his job as commander of MNFI without the additional 21,000 troops President Bush has pledged to Iraq.Odd - the General has universal "support" in congress.
But apparently the troop number question is no longer a military issue.
After you've read the second link above let's set the wayback machine to November, 2006:
Last April a group of six retired generals made headlines with a call for the dismissal of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld... in the months that followed few stories about any aspect of Iraq would lack a quote from one of the "gang of six".These, of course, are the generals who are now rarely quoted but often alluded to - the generals who criticised Bush's handling of Iraq, and the generals Bush wouldn't listen to. Rather unfortunate that now that they've gotten their way - and now that active duty generals (who acknowledge those additional troops they advocated for are essential) actually are publicly being told to stfu about Iraq their reporter pals have lost their phone numbers. (Read this, too)
...Senate Democrats were able to arrange unnofficial hearings a mere five months later - just a few weeks before the U.S. elections.
...Strangely enough, although the anti-Rumsfeld generals had been frequently quoted over the intervening months, and the elections were looming large on the American calendar, the "show trial" received scant notice in the American media.
One likely reason? The generals were able to give more specific information regarding what they would do differently than Secretary Rumsfeld - and those actions were not to the liking of their assumed supporters:...Batiste and his colleagues offered their solution: more troops, more money and more time in Iraq.Although getting Rumsfeld out of the picture was only step one, media coverage of the demands of those particular retired generals will probably vanish now that half their goals have been achieved - the remaining steps of the plan are an embarrassment to those who previously offered a large platform and amplification system for their call to arms.
Or as I said more briefly in the title of that November post: "So long, and thanks for all the fish".All done!
From a senior personnel perspective, this was the greatest single kill event the jihadis have managed since 9/11. While no death is better or worse than the others, the Army Aviation community took a big hit on January 20th.
No. 081-07 IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 24, 2007 Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132 Public/Industry(703) 428-0711
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of 12 soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died in Baghdad, Iraq, on Jan. 20, when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter they were in crashed.
Col. Brian D. Allgood, 46, of Oklahoma, who was assigned to the 30th Medical Brigade, European Regional Medical Command, Heidelberg, Germany.
Staff Sgt. Darryl D. Booker, 37, of Midlothian, Va., who was assigned to the 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard, Sandston, Va.
Sgt. 1st Class John G. Brown, 43, of Little Rock, Ark., who was assigned to the Arkansas Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 185th Aviation Regiment (Air Assault), 77th Aviation Brigade, Camp Robinson, Ark.
Lt. Col. David C. Canegata, 50, of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, who was assigned to the Virgin Islands Army National Guard, Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Command Sgt. Maj. Marilyn L. Gabbard, 46, of Polk City, Iowa, who was assigned to Joint Forces Headquarters, Iowa Army National Guard, Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa.
Command Sgt. Maj. Roger W. Haller, 49, of Davidsonville, Md., who was assigned to the 70th Regiment, Regional Training Institute - Maryland, Maryland Army National Guard, Reisterstown, Md.
Col. Paul M. Kelly, 45, of Stafford, Va., who was assigned to the Joint Force Headquarters of the Virginia Army National Guard in Blackstone, Va.
Staff Sgt. Floyd E. Lake, 43, of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, who was assigned to the Virgin Islands Army National Guard, Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Cpl. Victor M. Langarica, 29, of Decatur, Ga., who was assigned to the 86th Signal Battalion, Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
Capt. Sean E. Lyerly, 31, of Pflugerville, Texas., who was assigned to the Texas Army National Guard's 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, 36th Infantry Division, Austin, Texas.
Maj. Michael V. Taylor, 40, of North Little Rock, Ark., who was assigned to the Arkansas Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 185th Aviation Regiment (Air Assault), 77th Aviation Brigade, Camp Robinson, Ark.
1st Sgt. William T. Warren, 48, of North Little Rock, Ark., who was assigned to the Arkansas Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 185th Aviation Regiment (Air Assault), 77th Aviation Brigade, Camp Robinson, Ark.
Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.
In discussing his "no" vote on the non-binding "no surge" resolution of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Republican Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he didn't support the resolution because he didn't believe it would affect administration policy. Instead, he said next time he talks to Tennessee soldiers he will tell them, "I oppose what you are doing but I thank you for your service."[emphasis mine]
and if Bob ever does say it, I sure hope no one is carrying... or at least they're not locked and loaded. Nothing like supporting your troops, eh, Bob?
Update: Yes I see that they have chaged the quote in the story (do you think it really was misquoted or someone asked them to change it? ok, how cynical can I get on press coverage? I think the sentiment remains the same.)
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has passed a resolution condemning the president's plan for more troops in Iraq.
The vote on the Democratic resolution, which says the troop buildup “is not in the national interest,” was 12-to-9.
Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel was the only Republican to support the nonbinding resolution.
Like Abraham Lincoln in 1860, Chuck Hagel is rising amid a more glamorous and well-known crowd, and, like Lincoln, Hagel is setting himself apart in substantive and visionary ways, for Hagel’s political motives lie in his heart, not in his ego.
Hagel speaks of issues with a candor and clarity his contemporaries cannot match. His appearances on TV news programs are devoid of the sycophancy reliably on display from John McCain, Hillary Clinton and the other usual political suspects who overpopulate those shows. Hagel’s eyes are steely serious when he speaks of Iraq, of the need to return to Republican core principals, of energy independence, and of myriad other issues long neglected by Washington.
Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, has deeply rooted common sense, inherent courage and the proper measure of humility.
History can marry a man and a moment like nothing else. That moment has arrived for Chuck Hagel, the emerging leader, the emerging president.
And how about this? Wiill the "maverick" become an "Independent?"
Feel free to hum along with my latest:
The Iraqi army as a whole is probably never going to be mistaken for The Unit, but they are for the most part capable and willing to carry out what is asked of them. It's encouraging to see them finally transition to uparmored Humvees from underarmoured Toyotas; (less so when you factor in that the enemy has since mastered converting our H1s into CO2).
You see, our dilemma from day one has been with quality control: the coalition fixation with increasing the quantity of the indigenous Iraqi forces without much regard to their quality. They have been rushed into production since 2004 in a nod to our own domestic politics to an extent that fast forwarded to 2007 we now find ourselves faced with a devastatingly huge and potential Dell-like power supply recall of a shamefully defective detective force. This was never as evident in the northern provinces, but in the capital city (the linchpin on which all our efforts hinge) it was as painfully explicit as amateur porn on HDTV.
Find the rest waiting for you here.
How to succeed at a Warfighter EX. See here.
Man, am I tired.
We've all heard the term "strategic corporal," that breed of soldier/marine that is able to process the larger picture and make the correct moral decision with the quick discipline and confidence in its rightness that he can make the correct tactical decision. Chester has a good example of such a corporal.
The September 2006 issue of The Army Lawyer (the real Army Lawyer, I'm just a pretender to the throne) has an interesting article by COL Kelly Wheaton titled: Strategic Lawyering: Realizing the Potential of Military Lawyers at the Strategic Level (PDF). An excerpt:
More provocative is the notion of "lawfare," or the use of the law (international and the law of armed conflict) as a weapon to be wielded both by and against US forces.
Doctrine recognizes that judge advocates in the 21st century will be challenged in accomplishing their objectives. In particular, to accomplish missions, Army judge advocates must thoroughly understand the military mission to better forestall and resolve legal issues affecting the mission and “must become more involved in the military decision-making process in critical planning cells, and at lower levels of command.” In accomplishing their objective of enhancing legitimacy, judge advocates will have to transmit their thorough understanding of U.S. values and constitutional and international law to assist commanders in integrating these laws and values into military operations.
So how should the "strategic JAG" operate?
Lawyers at the strategic level, at a minimum, must be able to recognize lawfare when it occurs and react appropriately. Optimally, military lawyers should address lawfare that may damage U.S. defense interests before the damage occurs. Legal issues are decided by application of the law to the particular facts in question. Proactive lawfare, therefore, is working in advance of issues to shape the law and facts in such a way that the military attorney’s clients’ interests will be adequately supported once the issues arise.
Commanders’ decisions must be considered in light of legal considerations to ensure that the enemy is not given ammunition to destroy the will of the people (defensive lawfare). Furthermore, legal decisions must be considered in light of national strategy to ensure that they support that strategy (offensive lawfare). Additionally, to win the war on terrorism, military decisions must be sound and derive from U.S. values. While it is recognized that the fundamental values of American society are consistent with the role of the American military professional, military adherence to and spreading of the fundamental values of American society also are necessary to win the war on terrorism. Every time the actions of the United States and its military are seen as incompatible with the values the military espouses, the United States hands radical Islamism a round of ammunition.
The increasing importance of law in this conflict makes this an intriguing article and worth a read. All done!
General Patraeus will be confirmed by the Senate soon.
Probably by close to a unanimous vote.
He has said he needs more troops to secure Baghdad.
Various Senators, who will vote for General Patraeus as the "Man to Accomplish the Mission", will then vote to deny the man the tools he has told them he needs.
Then we wonder why after decades of trying to find solutions to the problems if the Middle East we are standing at square one. In the insanity called Washington, the "Man with the plan" is denied the tools to do the job, while the "Man with no plan" gets all the tools he needs to accomplish nothing.
The Lance P. Sijan Air Force Leadership Award annually recognizes U.S. Air Force Airmen who demonstrate outstanding leadership abilities. The four recipients for 2006 have just been announced.
Wanted to take a moment and highlight one:
Master Sgt. David John is the winner for the Senior Enlisted Category. The Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, sergeant was responsible for more than 800 convoys during his deployment in support of OIF. His expert leadership resulted in the convoys traveling more than 450,000 miles across Iraq without a single casualty or injury.Let's repeat that: "convoys traveling more than 450,000 miles across Iraq without a single casualty or injury."
That task would be impossible in the Iraq you read about in the papers - draw your own conclusions. As for me, I wonder what kind of insurance break that would get you Stateside.
On a related note, below the fold you'll find a brief bio of Lance P. Sijan. If you've never heard of him, I highly reccommend this.
Captain Lance Peter SijanRead this, too. All done!
Lance P. Sijan was the first graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy to receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for heroism above and beyond the call of duty. His spirit and determination inspired a fellow prisoner of war to nominate him.
Sijan was born in April 1942 and graduated from Bay View High School in Milwaukee, Wis. He originally planned to attend the Naval Academy. However, he was attracted to the prestige and quality education of the Air Force school, plus he had developed a love of flying. He played football, but quit the team in his senior year to concentrate more on his studies. After graduation in 1965 from the academy, he attended pilot training. Then he was assigned to the 366th Wing, at Da Nang Air Base, Vietnam.
On his 52nd mission, 25-year-old Sijan ejected from his F-4C Phantom after it was hit Nov. 9, 1967, over North Vietnam. A search-and-rescue crew, Jolly Green 15, radioed to Sijan that they were sending down someone to assist him, but Sijan refused to put another person in danger. He asked that a penetrator be lowered instead. However, he couldn't grab the dropped steel cable, and after 33 minutes the rescue team faced enemy fire and had to leave.
Even with no food and very little water he managed to avoid capture for 45 days. Because of a serious compound fracture of the left leg, he was unable to walk but did manage to pull himself backward through the jungle. Even with a broken leg, a skull fracture and a mangled right hand he was able to escape shortly after his initial capture. Upon recapture he was taken to Vinh and thrown into a bamboo cell. He was 'interrogated' repeatedly, and in spite of his captors technique of twisting his damaged right hand he refused to disclose any information but his name.
Sijan was soon moved to a POW camp at Hanoi. Even in his emaciated condition, he attempted more escapes all meeting with failure. His physical condition continued to weaken without proper food or medical attention . He developed additional respiratory problems including pneumonia in January 1968. After many months of ill treatment, his health broke. Sijan was removed from his cell during the night of Jan. 21, 1968 and died the following day at Hoa Lo according to his Vietnamese captors.
He was promoted posthumously to captain on June 13, 1968. On March 4, 1976 President Gerald Ford presented the Medal of Honor to his parents, Sylvester and Jane Sijan.
The U.S. Air Force Academy named Sijan Hall, a cadet dormitory, in honor of him on May 31, 1976. Additionally, the U.S. Air Force honors Air Force personnel who exhibit the highest example of professional and personal leadership standards with the Lance P. Sijan Award.
Democratic Response at Drudge
With respect to foreign policy, this country has patiently endured a mismanaged war for nearly four years. Many, including myself, warned even before the war began that it was unnecessary, that it would take our energy and attention away from the larger war against terrorism, and that invading and occupying Iraq would leave us strategically vulnerable in the most violent and turbulent corner of the world.
As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate. “When comes the end?” asked the General who had commanded our forces in Europe during World War Two. And as soon as he became President, he brought the Korean War to an end.
Anybody see irony in Sen. Webb invoking our "exit" from the Korean War since we're still there 50 years later?
Additionally, had Webb's logic been followed then, we never would have stood up to North Korea and South Korea would have been far less...ummm...existing.
From the White House:
On the war on terror:
“For all of us in this room, there is no higher responsibility than to protect the people of this country from danger…[T]o win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy. From the start, America and our allies have protected our people by staying on the offense. The enemy knows that the days of comfortable sanctuary, easy movement, steady financing, and free flowing communications are long over. For the terrorists, life since Nine-Eleven has never been the same.”
“[O]ur military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance of success. Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq – because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far reaching.”
“The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others. That is why it is important to work together so our Nation can see this great effort through.”
“Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation. And this is why I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties. We will share ideas for how to position America to meet every challenge that confronts us. And we will show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory.”
If you watch the video on the original story you'll see that Fox really hammered on that "sleeping on the ground" issue, even bringing in an expert on how horrible it is.
More importantly, they acknowledge that the business owner has said he terminated the employee that sent the response - something that should be noted in blog coverage too.
More from embedded Tony Perry of the Los Angeles Times...
RAMADI, IRAQ — At 35, he is younger than many sheiks. And his Sunni Arab tribe is not one of the largest in Al Anbar province. But Sheik Sattar Bazeaa Fatikhan projects the aura of power and seriousness that comes to a man who has taken a stand.
After Sunni insurgents killed his father and four of his brothers last year, Fatikhan declared war against the insurgency.
He convened a summit of about a dozen prominent sheiks. From that meeting came a document called "The Awakening," in which Fatikhan persuaded all but one sheik to join him in opposition to the insurgency.
As I suspected, Sergeant Hess is inundated with offers to help. I sent him an email and asked him if he needed any help.
Here's his response:
Fox got fax wrong but the company did say what fox said. I was looking for flooring for a conference room and not for soldiers to sleep on. If you don't mind creating a draft email that says thank you for you support and everything is under control that would be great. I'm trying to email about 100 people in regards to what fox said but every time I get 5 out 3 come, fox is going to do a followup hopefully to make things straight. Thank you.
As you can see, the good Sergeant is not only busy fighting a war, he's now busy fighting his email, and all the good-hearted people who want to help.
Those of you who sent emails or left comments offering assistance - Sergeant Hess says, well, why paraphrase?
thank you for you support and everything is under control
Sergeant Hess is also a Sergeant at war, so I will cease forwarding him your offers of assistance - unless he needs something else and asks me to.
Let's let the young man do his job, eh!
But all y'all been really good about this - and I appreciate it, too.
If by chance, you have *no idea* what this post is about - start here.
Washington Post: Petraeus Confident in New Iraq Strategy
New York Times: General Calls Iraq Situation ‘Dire’
(Senate Armed Svcs Cmte Page here)
AR RAMADI, Iraq – The 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division officially took charge of independent operations in west Ramadi during a ceremony at Camp Ali Jan. 22.
This is the third battalion in the 1st Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division to assume authority over another area in the city during the past five months, signifying the continued progress of the brigade.
While the official release of the names of the casualties of the downed helicopter hasn't hit my email, we know the notifications have been made.
Castle Argghhh! was hard-hit in the crash of that aircraft - I'll let co-blogger Bill, who has some new ghosts on his shoulders, pick up the tale. -John of Argghhh!
About two months before we left Bosnia, our Task Force XO decided to play with his new CD burner and give everyone in TF Pegasus a memento; a disk recapping what we'd seen and done (and why) and including at least one picture of everyone in the unit -- planners, pilots, mechanics, our infantry squad, Bosnian interpreters, the schoolkids we'd scrounged pens 'n' paper 'n' such for -- everyone. He left before I got my copy, but he e-mailed me the whole thing a month later -- three megs at a time.
Took forever to download all 93 megs and even longer to reassemble it. I poked through it a couple of times last year just to keep the name-face links intact.
Somehow, I didn't really consider I might be pulling up pix from it for another reason entirely...BAGHDAD — At least 19 U.S. troops were killed in a helicopter crash and insurgent attacks across Iraq on Saturday in the deadliest day for the American military here in nearly two years. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * The day's deadliest episode was the crash of a Black Hawk helicopter northeast of Baghdad on Saturday afternoon, killing all 12 U.S. soldiers aboard. The military initially had said 13 were killed but revised it to 12 early today. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * U.S. military officials said the cause of Saturday's crash had yet to be determined, but Iraqi sources said it was shot down. A witness said he saw ground fire bring down the aircraft, and an insurgent group claimed responsibility for the attack in an Internet posting that could not be authenticated.
Aviation is the Two-Degrees-of-Separation Branch of the Army -- I no longer know most of the folks in it, but I know those who do. And at 3pm Baghdad time on Saturday, 21 January 2007, there were two fewer of them...
I'd like you to meet COL Paul M. Kelly, 29th Aviation Brigade, Virginia Army National Guard.
COL Kelly was our TF commander. There were five of us Viet Vet Warrant dinosaurs living in a cluster of SEAhuts somebody in IFOR had christened "Raziac Ranch" -- COL Kelly started calling it "Jurassic Ranch"...and it stuck. To show our appreciation, we made him an honorary CW2 and he griped that he'd spent enough time sitting around drinking coffee to qualify for CW3.
He was the only field grade commander I'd seen since 1972 who spent as much time checking on the troops' welfare as he did in his office. And he had the good sense not to be a squad leader while he was doing it...
I'd also like you to meet SSG Darryl D. Booker, 29th Aviation Brigade, Virginia Army National Guard.
Sergeant Booker was my Flight Ops / Tac Ops NCOIC and the only Minister I know who could cite the Old Testament to prove that Rap Music was one of the Ten Plagues visited upon the Egyptians. He kept the TOCettes in line, made sure nobody got less time off than the two of us did and we took turns watching the bottled water on our desks freeze solid after nightfall.
We lost touch after he took leave to visit his daughter -- I heard she'd gotten married and made him a grandpa, which was the one thing he really, really wanted out of life...
Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.
If I smell green tobacco when I'm on the path to Fiddler's Green, I'll know somebody's saved me a seat...
Over at the Castle, co-blogger Bill has been doing some pro bono work at the New Jersey Militia Museum.
Where he found this:
You should come over and read that post - and then, after you've tried your hand at it - you should check out the answer to Bill's "Whatziss" - and see his new one.
And, in keeping with "Someone you should know" posts, here's a variation on that theme: Meet Elmer Lindsey.
Raising TRICARE fees - it's baaaaack! As we knew it would be. For what it's worth - though I don't care for more than doubling it overnight, essentially, the fact that the fee structure hasn't changed in 10 years is rather unrealistic. As I said before - I think lumping *all* officer retirees in one group is unfair to the company grade retirees. If *I* were "SecDef for a Day" I would make some breaks in the officer ranks, as we did the enlisted. Company Grade/WO1-CW2 - same cost as the senior enlisted (most of those guys retired pay is roughly equivalent to the Senior Enlisted retired pay band), Field Grade/CW3-CW5 - the current proposed cost, and Flag Officer - whatever, but more than the Field Grades are paying. That seems fair to me.
If, to disclose information to a reporter, you have stay anonymous, don't do it!
Like every active-duty officer and Pentagon official interviewed for this article, he asked not to be identified by name, noting the sensitivity of the situation as Petraeus awaits confirmation.
Even when such quotes are positive, they're never helpful. Because the next time Tom Ricks wants a quote, this time a negative one, oh, he's coming back to you, jerkoff.
If there has ever been a time when your support is crucial for the success for your troops it is now. Through different outcomes and events in theater, your troops are taking action that will make a difference in the near future. If you have been on the fence or have wavered, you had better cinch up and get on the team for the win. Support your troops!
Geopolitical Diary: Al-Sadr's Calculus
Some 25 U.S. troops in Iraq were killed in a single day this weekend,
making it the third bloodiest since the war began. Also, Muqtada al-Sadr
announced he was ending his boycott of parliament and that he was
therefore rejoining the political process. There is not a direct
connection between these two events, but there is a connection
To begin, the deaths of the U.S. troops did not occur in any one sector,
but in several. Twelve of the 25 were killed in the crash of a Blackhawk
helicopter northeast of Baghdad. Some were killed in Anbar province by
Sunni insurgents. Five were killed in Karbala, in Shiite territory. The
geographical diffusion of the deaths is important: The United States is
increasing the tempo of its operations around the country. Troops are
moving around, they are holding meetings (as was the case in Karbala)
and carrying out patrols. In the current phase of operations, as more
troops move into Baghdad, the increase in troop strength is less
significant than the increase in the tempo of operations. As the U.S.
military becomes more aggressive, it will incur more casualties.
From the standpoint of al-Sadr and his Mehdi Army, there are three
considerations in all of this.
First, the United States is clearly targeting al-Sadr and his
organization. He cannot be sure that it won't be successful in that
mission. If the U.S. military is prepared to take casualties, al-Sadr
has to calculate that he can be, at least, badly hurt. The more damage
the United States does, the less leverage the Mehdi militia has among
Second, there is the potential for the opposite outcome. Assume that the
United States surges the operational tempo, goes after al-Sadr, fails to
take him out and takes massive casualties in the process. It is not
inconceivable that domestic American politics will force the United
States to reverse course and begin the withdrawal process that is being
discussed by the Democrats.
In both of those cases, rejoining the political process makes sense for
al-Sadr. If things go against him, being part of the political process
in Iraq prior to becoming desperate allows him to negotiate a place for
himself and his faction while still at full strength. If, on the other
hand, U.S. troops attack and fail to destroy him, while taking massive
casualties, his involvement in the political process puts him in a
position to become a defining character in postwar Iraqi politics.
The third consideration involves the chance that al-Sadr could deter an
American attack. After all, if he is now being a good citizen,
participating in the government, the United States is going to find it
much harder to justify launching an offensive against him. The United
States cannot simultaneously demand that al-Sadr reach a political
accommodation and try to destroy him while he is in the process of doing
In a way, al-Sadr is playing directly into the Bush administration's
hands. U.S. President George W. Bush is hoping to revive the political
process in Iraq by using the threat of attacks to motivate cooperation
from the various factions. But al-Sadr is only partially playing into
Bush's hands, because Bush is still running the huge risk that
casualties will break the back of American will. Bush is on politically
thin ice. If casualties were to rise to Vietnam levels (several hundred
in a week) for an extended period of time, his runway might turn out to
be too short. In that event, al-Sadr would have snookered Bush -- by
showing himself capable of dominating the Iraqi political process and
giving the Americans the worst possible outcome.
An uptick in American casualties and al-Sadr announcing that he is
returning to parliament are, therefore, linked together. As the U.S.
strategy unfolds militarily, al-Sadr's political strategy shifts to
avoid and take advantage of the new dimensions.
...for Times staff writer Tony Perry's account of Husaybah today in the Wild West of Anbar...
"Business is good," Ahmed Ratib, the town cobbler, said as he nailed new heels on a pair of shoes. "Not like in the past."
Two years ago, the same streets were fraught with roadside bombs and snipers, and sellers and buyers stayed away. The area was considered too dangerous even for a quick tour by a U.S. general in his armored Humvee.
The Qaim region was routinely described, including in The Times, as an out-of-control "wild west" where the Marines were fighting with only limited success to control the smuggling of insurgent fighters and weapons from Syria.
Today, Marines walk the downtown beat, chatting with residents, fielding their complaints, encouraging them to contact the Iraqi police if they suspect insurgent activity.
In a country studded with areas where the U.S. has either failed or made only limited progress toward stabilization, Husaybah and the surrounding Qaim region stand out as a success, officials said.
...Mohammed Ali was out shopping for dinner when Marines stopped to talk. He had a plastic bag of greens and radishes and offered the Marines a taste.
"Do you want the Americans to go home?" the captain asked.
"Someday, but not yet — too many Ali Babas [thieves] are still here," Ali said.
After more talk of the radishes and the good weather, Ali asked, somewhat tentatively, whether the Marines would be leaving soon.
"Inshallah," the captain answered.
Thanks, Tony, for noticing and reporting that somewhere in Iraq a bomb didn't go off. Cheers to your editors for letting it run.All done!
“America's accusations against North Korea are on very shaky ground ... A rumor has circulated for years among representatives of the security printing industry and counterfeiting investigators that it is the American CIA that prints the Supernotes at a secret printing facility.”
Yes foks an unsubstantiated rumor that cannot be proven in anyway means that American sanctions on North Korea due to it's counterfeiting of US currency is on "shaky ground". How can an editor at a major German newspaper agree to print something like this? I heard a rumor that Elvis was living with space aliens does that mean the German media will print that as front page news as well?
The basis of the German claims is that North Korea is too poor and technologically backward country to be able to produce such high quality counterfeit notes, nevermind that they have the technology to operate an advanced ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs. Also never mind the fact that North Korean diplomats have been caught with US counterfeit currency. Despite all the overwhelming evidence proving that the North Koreans are counterfeiting US currency the FAZ of course believes it is the CIA that is counterfeiting our own US currency to fund secret operations around the world. No word yet from the German media if they believe that the counterfeit US notes from the CIA were used to purchase the demolition charges that brought down the World Trade Center.
I think this post from One Free Korea best explains this article:
On the one hand, it’s pretty damned disturbing when this kind of steaming sheisswurst gets wrapped in newspaper and served worldwide, and it sort of puts all of that talk about Iraq having “alienated our European allies” in context. On the other hand, enlightenment is never bad, and in this case, I’ve been enlightened a bit more about how history plays on a continuous loop: dour German intellectuals identify and smear a scapegoat; the smears then spread, fester, and break out into painful sores for next several decades. Today, Americans have become the world’s new Jews, and it’s no point asking why they hate us. What matters is that they’ve made up their minds to.
Yes folks Americans may very well be the new Jews.All done!
You have to give credit to the Commandant of the Marine Corps - he knows his job - and has a good ear for both inside and outside the beltway.
"If we're going to grow the force on the one hand, we've got to be able to justify it to the bean counters ... how we have 66,000 Marines that haven't been to Iraq or Afghanistan," he said.You have to wonder what the Army numbers are. You don't want to know what the Navy's numbers are.....I would love to see them broken down by paygrade. I will say this though - the Marines have earned a plus-up.
About half of those who have not yet deployed are potentially slated for future Iraq deployments, meaning this new policy would target the remaining 33,000.
Conway says many Marines want to go into combat but are denied. This new policy would relieve Marines who are on their third and fourth deployments.
He made the comments on Meet the Press this morning.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain on Sunday said he might vote against Gen. George W. Casey's nomination as Army chief of staff, saying he had "serious concerns" about the man who has overseen the Iraq war since 2004.
"I have very serious concerns about General Casey's nomination," McCain said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
For what it's worth, Pat Leahy on CNN said that despite McCain's comments, he expects Casey to get confirmed.
A "Loon" hanger on a submarine?
A Glenn Ford movie?
All part of the history of the U.S. Navy's first missile submarines here.
Refusing to deploy was his duty, they say.
More than 400 people turned out Saturday for a forum on the legality of the Iraq war that felt like part congressional hearing, part teach-in and part religious tent revival.
Speakers were sworn in while placing their hands on the U.S. Constitution. They quoted Henry David Thoreau, playwright Berthold Brecht, President Ulysses S. Grant and the prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes trial. There were standing ovations, impassioned speeches and appeals to leave a few bucks in the collection basket.
There might have been people there who disagreed with what was being said.
But most seemed to endorse testimony that the invasion of Iraq violated international and U.S. law, that it’s a rerun of Vietnam, if not worse, and that military officers like Army Lt. Ehren Watada don’t have just a right, but a duty, to refuse orders to fight it.
Read the whole thing and pay particular attention to the "witness" list.
Security is mostly perception. People who might become victims believe the security forces will prevent it,failing that, both they and the culprit the security forces will catch the culprit.
Last summers Baghdad Security plan was a "Final Exam" for the Iraqi National Police. They failed. Some of it was poor training, poor leadership, political interference. Some of it was that the forces of evil made a concerted effort to make sure that the INP was perceived as corrupt, incompetent and worse...part of the problem. The "perception" of security became non-existant in Baghdad.
As far as I can tell from all the various pontifications, the "New" Baghdad security plan will be 4 tiered. Baghdad will be divided into 9 district. Each District with Local Police, backed a Brigade of Iraqi National Police, backed by a Brigade of Iraqi Army,backed by a Brigade of US forces...with HEAVY embedding of US Mitts at every level.
If there is a problem with any of the Units at any level, it will be noted and dealt with in an expeditious fashion.
The goal of the "New" Baghdad security plan is to establish trust relationships between the various ISF units and the Iraqi people. Any "perceptions" of less than profressional conduct of the ISF must be dealt with swiftly and surely if the plan is to succeed.All done!
By now you're no doubt aware a helicopter crash in Iraq yesterday claimed the lives of 12 US servicemembers. On hearing the news I considered a post predicting the media response.
Watch the media hype this one, I would have said, as one of "the bloodiest days for the US since whenever". I refrained - because in spite of past experience I didn't really think the press would stoop to that level.
Saturday's toll was the third-highest of any single day since the war began in March 2003, eclipsed only by 37 U.S. deaths Jan. 26, 2005 and 28 on the third day of the U.S. invasion. U.S. authorities also announced two U.S. combat deaths from Friday.
The Washington Post page one headline: 20 U.S. Troops Killed In Iraq - Day Is 3rd Worst Since War Began
On one of the deadliest days for United States forces since the Iraq war began, an American Black Hawk helicopter crashed in a Sunni area north of Baghdad on Saturday, killing all 12 soldiers onboard, the United States military said today.The LA Times leads it's coverage with this:
At least 19 U.S. troops were killed in a helicopter crash and insurgent attacks across Iraq on Saturday in the deadliest day for the American military here in nearly two years.March 23, 2003, was the day of the attack on the 507th Maintenance Company - Jessica Lynch's unit - near Nasiriyah. Most of the deaths that day were a result of that action.
On Jan. 26, 2005 "the worst day of the war", 37 American service members died. Thirty-one were killed in a helicopter crash.
In reality today's news is another reminder that the toll in Iraq has been extraordinarally low. A helo crash makes "the bloodiest day since the last helo crash" - a future bus crash could break the record; a plane crash may someday result in "the bloodiest month (or even year) of the war".
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. -- Former POW Jessica Lynch became a mother on Friday, giving birth to a girl whom she named in honor of a fallen comrade.All done!
Dakota Ann Robinson was delivered by Caesarean section at a local hospital at 5:10 p.m. The infant weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces, said Lynch's publicist, Aly Goodwin Gregg.
"She's fabulous and fat," Gregg said. "She's beautiful."
Lynch and her boyfriend, Wes Robinson, named Dakota in honor of Lynch's friend, Army Spc. Lori Piestewa of Tuba City, Ariz., who was the first woman to be killed in combat in Iraq. Piestewa's middle name was Ann, and Dakota means friendship or ally, Gregg said.
Hosni Mubarak came to power and maintained it well understanding the power of mass communications--in his case radio.
Don't let anybody fool you that Egypt doesn't understand or accidentally minimizes the importance of their actions in supporting the Nilesat uplink.
Via comments below:
Two items of commentary by Dave Kilcullen at the Small Wars Journal Blog that may be of interest here:I agree.
(Thanks to Dave Dilegge)
Coming to you live and in color, with lots of help from Egypt and Syria.
BAGHDAD, Jan. 20 — The video starts with a young American soldier patrolling an Iraqi street. His head is obscured by leaves, so a red target is digitally inserted to draw the viewer’s eye. A split second later, the soldier collapses, shot. Martial music kicks in, a jihadi answer to John Philip Sousa. The time and place of the attack scrolls at the bottom of the screen.
Such tapes, along with images of victims of Shiite militias and unflattering coverage of Shiite leaders, are beaming across Iraq and much of the Middle East 24 hours a day, broadcast by a banned Iraqi satellite television station that has become a major information center for the Sunni insurgency — and the focus of a cat-and-mouse hunt that has exasperated and infuriated American and Iraqi forces.
Making the situation even more galling for the authorities, American and Iraqi officials say that money stolen from the United States probably helps pay for the station.
Where does Syria fit in? Easy, it's the current stomping ground of the channel's founder.
The channel’s founder, Meshaan al-Juburi, is a former Sunni member of Parliament who was indicted last February on charges of embezzling millions of American dollars meant to pay for a vast pipeline protection force he had been assigned to help build with recruits from Salahuddin Province. He was accused of collecting salaries for thousands of soldiers who did not exist.
He denied the charges and went into hiding, fleeing to Syria.
Baha al-Araji, a Shiite member of Parliament familiar with efforts to cut off the station, said the Iraqi government had also asked Nilesat, the Egyptian broadcaster responsible for transmitting the station via satellite, to cancel its contract with Al Zawra. So far, the company has refused, and the Egyptian government has rejected requests to intervene.
Iraqi officials said Nilesat promised not to renew Al Zawra’s contract, though they did not know when it would expire.
One wonders why the reporters didn't call Nilesat themselves and ask when Al Zawra's contract expired, but oh well.
Keep info like this in mind when people talk of "international conferences" with Iraq's neighbors to ensure "stability" as the solution.All done!
Standard Deduction For Health Insurance
"So in my State of the Union Address next Tuesday, I will propose a tax reform designed to help make basic private health insurance more affordable – whether you get it through your job or on your own."
– President George W. Bush, Radio Address, 1/20/07
Additional Information About The President's Proposed Standard Deduction For Health Insurance
· The President's primary goal is to make health insurance more affordable, allowing more Americans to purchase insurance.
· In his State of the Union Address, the President will propose a "standard deduction for health insurance" – just like the standard deduction for dependents.
· Under the President's proposal, families with health insurance will not pay income or payroll taxes on the first $15,000 in compensation and singles will not pay income or payroll taxes on the first $7,500.
· At the same time, health insurance would be considered taxable income. This is a change for those who now have health insurance through their jobs. The President's proposal will result in lower taxes for about 80 percent of them. The 20 percent of them with more generous policies will have the option to adjust their compensation to have lower premiums and higher wages to offset the tax change.
· The President's proposal levels the playing field for Americans who purchase health insurance individually rather than through their employers, providing a substantial tax benefit for all those who currently have health insurance purchased on the individual market.
· This proposal lowers taxes for all currently uninsured Americans who decide to purchase health insurance – making insurance more affordable and providing a significant incentive to all working Americans to purchase insurance coverage, thereby reducing the number of uninsured Americans.
· As we reform the Federal tax code, we will also support the innovative measures that States are taking to address the problem of the uninsured. Governors across the Nation have put forward plans to make basic private health insurance more accessible for their citizens.
· In his State of the Union Address, the President will announce a new effort – led by Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt – to help governors reduce the number of people in their states without private health insurance.
Any smart guys with informed opinions here?
I'm trying to see how it will affect we military types who use the military system, TRICARE, in all it's forms.
The government *does* pay into it, but I don't think they do so in the same way that, say, General Motors or Sears does - those policies, procured from specific companies, will have price tags attached.
I do see the Pentagon seeing a way to set the cost at the high end (where it may, in fact, be) in order to force as many of us as possible into the "The 20 percent of them with more generous policies will have the option to adjust their compensation to have lower premiums and higher wages to offset the tax change." group so that those of us who can will jump to employer-provided coverage.
Heh. The devil will be in the details. On a first read, by unsophisticated me, it doesn't sound that bad - but... I sense a pay cut or benefit cut coming my way, at one end or the other, simply because I'm in a group that doesn't appear to be really covered here in the vision. We'll see. It's got to get past Congress, first.
Former Clinton Administration Defense Secretary William Perry is once again advocating starting a war with North Korea by bombing it’s nuclear reactor:
Former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry proposed Thursday that the United States should consider military action against North Korea if China and South Korea refuse to prod Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons program, according to a report by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Although the move is dangerous, there is no alternative left if China and South Korea, the two key economic lifelines to North Korea, do not join any U.S.-led “diplomatic coercive’’ action against Pyongyang, he told the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.
AFP quoted Perry, the Pentagon chief under former president Bill Clinton, as saying that the U.S. should consider destroying a large reactor under construction in North Korea capable of making about 10 nuclear bombs a year.
Remember Perry was the same guy who co-authored a Washington Post editorial before July’s North Korean missile test that advocated bombing North Korea’s missile program. I said then that it would be ridiculous to bomb the missile sites because the US had more to gain from the North Koreans firing the missiles compared to if the US attacked North Korea. By firing the missile the US was able to accurately gauge exactly how far along the North Korean missile program was, which ended up being no where near advanced as thought. The US would have never learned this by bombing North Korea. Plus the test continued the isolation of the Kim regime with additional sanctions put on the country and Kim becoming even more of an international pariah.
Compare that to a bombing campaign that would have put Kim Jong-il in a more sympathetic light. Remember their were people who were sympathetic with Saddam Hussein, don’t think Kim Jong-il won’t get the same treatment. Cindy Sheehan and her ilk would be toasting Kim Jong-il in no time. The media would show images of killed civilians from the bombing campaign over and over again while ignoring all the civilians dying right now in North Korea, as I type this, due to the Kim regime’s systematic starvation program. Even more dangerous than the political and diplomatic consequences would be the military consequences of a full scale war breaking out on the Korean peninsula. Any war on the Korean peninsula would cause casualties that would dwarf the Iraq War. Especially US casualties with the 2nd Infantry Division continuing to remain located near the DMZ.
The consequences of bombing Kim’s nuclear program today would be the same as what I listed above for bombing Kim’s missile program. However, fear not, there will not be a bombing campaign on North Korea and Perry knows it. Remember he was the guy in charge of the Pentagon during the 1994 nuclear crisis when the Clinton Administration decided not to bomb North Korea. He knows President Bush cannot attack North Korea for the very same reasons President Clinton didn’t, which makes it easy for him to come out looking like a hawk on this issue. The Democrats have long been viewed as weak on defense so in order to build their defense credentials, they are looking to take hawkish positions on issues that they know President Bush cannot act upon. North Korea is the best example. Notice you see no one from the Democratic Party advocating bombing Iran which is a much greater danger to the US than North Korea. What’s the difference between advocating bombing Iran compared to North Korea? The only difference is that there is a very real possibility that President Bush may bomb Iran in the future compared to North Korea.
Many Democrats are only hawkish when they know they don’t need to act on it. Another example of this was for the past two years the Democrats have been all over TV advocating for more troops in Iraq and made sure to keep bringing up General Shinseki’s name every time they did. They did this to bolster their defense credentials because they didn’t think President Bush would ever actually act upon it. However, Bush did act and sent more troops to Iraq and what did the Democrats do? Condemn Bush for sending more troops to Iraq and threaten to cut funding for the soldiers there. Perry’s latest article is just another example of a long line of Democratic demagoguery of national security issues.All done!
General Casey answers questions on "the surge":
Watch the video, then check the extended section for the resulting headline.
AP reporter Robert Burns, who actually asked the question, says:
General: Some Troops Heading To Iraq Could Be Home In MonthsAccurate reporting? I don't think so. One, it assigns an "optimism" I don't think the General exhibits. Two, while troop numbers will return to the current levels in the future, the troops deploying as part of the surge aren't deploying for weeks or months - they're deploying for at least a year. Any coming home this summer will be those who were extended by the surge - not those who deployed a bit earlier then planned.
TALLIL AIR BASE, Iraq - The U.S. commander in Iraq predicted yesterday that some of the extra troops President Bush is sending could make an impact and start returning home by late summer, an optimistic note in contrast to skepticism of the plan back home.
The question posed demonstrates a misunderstanding on the part of the reporter as to how "the surge" is being accomplished - a misunderstanding shared by a majority of Americans, and apparently by a large percentage of their congressional representatives. Clarifying that is not a difficult task, any reporter wanting to understand what's happening prior to filing their next story on the topic could discover this with about 15 minutes work - but I'm going to make it even easier and do it for them here.All done!
From the story HERE
Al-Sadr said that 400 of his men had been arrested and that he is also being targeted, prompting him to move his family to a secure location, the Italian daily La Repubblica reported.
The Shiite cleric said he is being targeted.
"For this reason, I have moved my family to a secure location. I even have had a will drawn up, and I move continuously in a way that only few can know where I am," he was quoted as saying by Repubblica.
I thought dying for your faith was what Muqty was all about... you know, killing infidels and those that do not toe the line and pay money... er, believe as he does... I'm betting on a spidey hole
There is probably no better way to get China's nationalists to demand a Great Leap Forward in military spending than to tell them they are two decades behind the United States.I think you are misunderestimating the Chinese and the helpful hint they just gave us. Think real hard about how much we rely on satellites. Real hard. Imagine that they go away. How long until we can use our technological advantage with back-up systems to the same level we need to? How much "fog" would their loss cause? Can we afford that? Have we exercised "off-line." Do you like the sound of crickets?
The American public may now be lulled into a false sense of security by the "been there, done that" attitude prevalent in some quarters; or it may be sent into a panic that a new communist rival is about to replace it as Top Nation. But China's leaders will not be taken in by either myth, and will instead keep a cool eye on what really matters.
Despite appearances, what really matters to China is not whether its military and its space programme can catch up with America's.
They looked up and saw America's single greatest strength — the extraordinary satellite technology that enabled it to know where its enemies were and bomb them. And they realized its greatest strength was also its weakness, because while a human can fight back, a satellite cannot.
This is a great opportunity to ponder: we shouldn't dismiss it.
Against global warming.
Close, so close.
This is one way to do it, I suppose...
Key figures in Iraq’s Sadrist movement said on Friday that US forces had detained one of its top members, the latest in a series of signs that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had authorised a crackdown on the radical Shia movement whose militias are blamed for a large share of the country’s sectarian violence.
The Sadrists identified the detainee as Abd al-Hadi al-Darraji, the movement’s media director in Baghdad.
Update (20 Jan): Turns out there's a bit more to the story. It's Sadr's organization that claims Daraji is simply a " media director" - others say he's much more. The story is still developing. Here's General Casey responding to early questions from reporters:
And here's today's news on the story:
The aide, Abdel Hadi al-Daraji, a powerful cleric whose official position is as a spokesman for Mr. Sadr but who also is accused of running a Mafia-style crime empire in northeast Baghdad, was arrested in a mosque close to his house in the neighborhood of Baladiyad. He was detained with two of his guards. A third was shot dead in the raid.According to the NY Times, Daraji has been in hiding since the fall, "when the military began actively pursuing members of Mr. Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi Army, a central driver of sectarian violence here." Has the Times reported on this months-long active pursuit of members of Sadr's militia before? If so, I missed it.
The American military did not identify Mr. Daraji by name, saying only that it had captured “an illegal armed-group leader,” and that he was suspected of having been involved in “the organized kidnapping, torture and murder of Iraqi civilians.” A spokesman for Mr. Sadr confirmed that Mr. Daraji was the aide who was arrested and denied the charges of criminal activity.
Mr. Daraji was a central figure in Mr. Sadr’s organization during its battles with the American military in 2004, leading his vast army of spokesmen and media advisers. But as the years passed, he staked out territory of his own in his native Sadr City, a sprawling grid of cement-block houses in northeast Baghdad, and local residents said he had been involved in some of the worst militia crimes.Sadr city residents are glad to see this guy go, and Sadr had "disavowed him" in recent months. But now Sadr is caliming he was just a "media director" and using his arrest to rouse public anger at the coalition - a win/win for Sadr. "Information war" indeed. All done!
Iraqis who knew him said he had grown rich from his power in the neighborhood. He was known as a middleman, arranging government contracts with local businessmen and taking commissions, and also receiving secret Iranian financing. He had built a fancy new house in Baladiyad, near the mosque where he was arrested Friday morning.
His involvement in crime became well known in the neighborhood and in recent months Mr. Sadr disavowed him, but some still consider him a top aide. He went into hiding, and in October had all but stopped answering his cellphone and responded only to previously arranged agreed-upon patterns of rings.
Many welcomed the news of his arrest.
“It’s a good thing,” said one Iraqi who knew people around Mr. Daraji and who spoke anonymously out of concern for his family’s safety. “He’s No. 1 in all this city.”
If you want to know whether a surge of U.S. troops in Baghdad will make a difference, listen to Iraqis like taxi driver Ali Mansoor, 38. Last fall Mansoor's neighborhood in central Baghdad, a mixed Shi'ite-Sunni area known as al-Sadoon, became a sectarian killing zone. The streets around his house were the scene of scores of murders and abductions every day. And then, for one week last October, the violence stopped. "There was a big change in the security situation. Everybody noticed," says Mansoor, who asked not to be identified by his real name. "In my area, there was not a single kidnapping or killing."In other surge news: Pelosi Says House Democrats To Oppose Surge
So what happened? For the first time since the war began, U.S. forces had locked down the Baghdad slum known as Sadr City, haven to the militias and death squads loyal to rebel Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Looking for a missing U.S. soldier, the Americans cordoned off much of Sadr City, preventing hundreds of killers from slipping out. On Oct. 24, the daily murder rate fell roughly 50%. It stayed down for more than a week, until Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki demanded that the U.S. end the blockade around Sadr City. After the U.S. pulled out, the body count in Baghdad returned to its previous levels, and life for Iraqis like Mansoor became hell again. "I think most of the bad guys came from Sadr City," says Mansoor. "The Americans should attack that place today, not tomorrow."
Please tell me it wasn't "Keep on lovin' you".
Meanwhile, John J. Miller says "the blame-America-first crowd is wasting no time in blaming America first":
Michael Krepon, president emeritus of the Henry L. Stimson Center, another non-profit involved with security issues in Washington, called the Chinese test a likely — and unfortunate — response to American space policies.
"The Chinese are telling the Pentagon that they don't own space," he said. "We can play this game, too, and we can play it dirtier than you."
Krepon said the Chinese test "blows a hole through the Bush administration reasoning behind not talking to anybody about space arms control — that there is no space arms race. It looks like there is one at this point."
Bet he's not an REO Speedwagon fan either.
Holy prolificacy, Batman! Buck has not only posted more than once this month already, but twice this week?! Alert Glenn Reynolds! Someone text Drudge! Quick, somebody update his Wikipedia profile! Belay that -- quick, somebody create his Wikipedia profile! D'oh! Stupid pseudonymity...
Seeing as how Buck is soon to be a master's candidate in Military Studies with a concentration in Strategic Leadership (granted, a stretch for a lowly noncom), expect all future posts to get brainier, more pompous, and even more compellingly unreadable than ever before. All telling, more of all the wonderful qualities that routinely awarded him B minuses at his beloved alma mater Liberal Groupthink University.
But until he becomes a regular on Fox News -- to the point where Roger Ailes begins seriously pondering how well "Hannity & Buck" would roll off the tongue -- keep enjoying him for free here.
"The situation in Baghdad and several provinces is dire... The level of violence is high and growing. There is great suffering, and the daily lives of many Iraqis show little or no improvement. Pessimism is pervasive."
Indeed it is. Especially in this report!
China has shown it can destroy a satellite in orbit. What could the U.S. do to stop Beijing, if it decided to attack an American orbiter next? Short answer: nothing.
It takes about 20 minutes to fire a ballistic missile into space, and have its "kill vehicle" strike a satellite at hypersonic speed -- over 15,000 miles per hour -- in low-earth orbit. That's far too quick for anything in the American arsenal to respond, in time. There's "no possibility of shielding" a relatively-fragile satellite against such a strike. "And it is impractical [for a satellite] to carry enough fuel to maneuver away even if you had specific and timely warning of an attack," Center for Defense Information analyst Theresea Hitchens notes.
Meh. Welcome to 1985, Chicoms. The year when --presumably with REO Speedwagon cranked-- we sent an F-15 soaring to the edge of space to kill a target sat.
While I'm sure this will get the gears turning at places like the Space Warfare Center and RAND, there's simple solutions here, methinks. I'm not sure how long it takes to plug a burn into one of our keyholes to dodge one of these red rockets, but surely we could do it in under 20 minutes? Hitchens says we don't have the fuel for such a move, maybe she's right. But seeing that hitting an orbital vehicle from the ground is the rough equivalent of tossing a pebble into a coke bottle from end zone to endzone in the Superdome, I'm not so sure that this isn't something a simple delta-v maneuver couldn't cure. Suppose the simplest solution would be to spend a little extra on rocket fuel and send our new birds into orbits with perigees that are out of range of the Chinese arsenal.
Oh and if this piece of junk ever works, I guess we could work it into the calculus of defensive counterspace as well.
...like the sound of that too. Let's just hope it isn't the sound of one hand clapping ourselves on the back.
If this story turns out to be true, then all I can say is:
It's about damn time.
Failing to target the Mahd Squads is the key to everything that has been going wrong the past year in Baghdad. They outnumber the Sunni insurgents there by at least a 10-1 margin and their intentions are just as nefarious. They are the very reason the civilian bodycount is so high still on a day-to-day basis.
The Iraqi government must take JAM on directly before the people will ever take their elected officials seriously, much less the ISF.
I got a letter my my bank today offering every assistance in recovering from the Disaster that apparently occurred where I live. I don't watch television news and don't get the local newspaper...I was completely unaware that a disaster had occurred.
I've done some research - From FEMA
“The recovery process for survivors of the November floods begins by calling FEMA’s registration number, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week
Survivors??? Huh?? I would have heard about some sort of mass casualty event
So more research -From Seattle Times
One man was killed in the flooding, and two other deaths were attributed to rain-slicked roads.
One guy standing on a river bank got whisked away by the river, and there were two fatal vehicle accidents.
How did this become a "National Disaster"? Why has the Federal Government dispatched "Disaster Recovery" people to help the "survivors?"
Have we so overused the term "disaster" and "crisis" that the people who "survive" the disaster don't even know they were victims?All done!
...like the sound of this, too.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Mahdi Army fighters said Thursday they were under siege in their Sadr City stronghold as U.S. and Iraqi troops killed or seized key commanders in pinpoint nighttime raids. Two commanders of the Shiite militia said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has stopped protecting the group under pressure from Washington and threats from Sunni Muslim Arab governments.(Via Instapundit.)
Update: Here's a slightly different version by the same AP reporter in the Prescott, Arizona Herald (a great town, from what I hear...)
Another tidbit from that Fox poll: "By 59 percent to 36 percent, Americans oppose sending more U.S. troops to Iraq."
That's right in line with other polls on the topic - so much so that it's hard to refute the results. USA Today/Gallup Poll: "those surveyed oppose the idea of increased troop levels by 61%-36%." Times/Bloomberg found 36% approve, 60% disapprove of the plan. CBS reported 33% favor sending more troops and 59% oppose.
That, my friends, is consistency. And it's also the peg upon which many politicians are hanging their political hopes. (I'd say "betting their political futures" but I suspect that given American media it's a safe bet - they'll get "cover" regardless of what transpires.)
Now let's revisit that other question from Fox: Do you personally want the Iraq plan President Bush announced last week to succeed?
Yes 63%, No 22, Don’t know 15
Democrats 51% 34 15
Republicans 79% 11 10
Independents 63% 19 17
That 22% of respondents personally want failure is appalling, indeed - even if the inclusion of "President Bush" in the question triggered a Pavlovian response among the BDS crowd. A bit less disturbing explanation might be that some (even if free of BDS symptoms) may have simply interpreted the question to mean "do you want The Plan to be executed" not "If executed, do you want the plan to succeed". (Although if so, they mis-read the question.)
Regardless, consider the majority. Sixty-three percent (including most Democrats) personally want the pan to succeed. Given that this number exceeds the number of people who "oppose the plan", and virtually doubles the number who "support the plan", there's a significant signal here - and it's not faint. Nearly 30% of people want the plan to succeed, but profess they don't support/approve of it. This isn't self-refuting data. Unless these people are lying when they say they personally want it to work (and some are - but not all), they simply have some other reason for opposing the plan beyond their own "wants".
I can propose a few possibilities:
1. They think most people are opposed to the plan, therefore they are willing (or programmed) to go along with the majority.
2. They want the plan to succeed but think the plan will fail, and don't want to be on the "losing side".
3. They think the plan puts an undue burden on the troops.
4. Failure, while personally undesirable, would be good for The Party (or some other entity) for which they are willing to subborn their own desires.
For those in the first group - guess what? The majority actually want the plan to succeed, and we're glad you're with us. Don't be afraid to say so.
Second group: the plan will certainly fail without your support. We need you, too.
Group three: I've addressed you here, but will say it again. Some troops are going a couple months early, others will stay late. Stop the "surge" and the same troops will go to Iraq - just on their normal schedule and in time to hive-five the folks they will replace instead of reinforce. Those newly arrived troops will be completely up shit creek, of course, as no one in Iraq is going to take them at all seriously. At this point it isn't the surge that's going to break the troops - it's the message to the enemy we'd send otherwise that will.
For all three of those groups: Iraq is "winnable" - if that's the term you need to hear. And "winning it" matters - if I didn't think so, I'd retire and draw my pension instead of returning there this year. As to why I think so - I've been there, and I know a lot of folks who have been since and are there now. And by the way, no matter how we vote, we ain't laying our lives on the line for the benefit of one political party.
Speaking of which, for group four: Go f@#k yourselves. And by the way, even if the coalition "wins" Iraq you might still win the White House in '08 - just ask Bill Clinton about '92.
If I were an elected official who was quick out the gate with some anti-troop increase proposals this week I'd be a bit concerned with these numbers. And if I were among the majority of elected officials who haven't done so (""There is very little chance in the short run that we are going to pass any legislation," Clinton confided during her news conference. Asked to elaborate, she explained: "I can count."") I'd start responding - now.
I suspect future polls won't be asking this question (or if so, media coverage of future polls won't be mentioning it) but if this country had any leaders, they would reach out to this large group (and the 15% that "don't know" if they want American success or not) who're waiting for some actual leadership - quick.All done!
Via Insta, a State lawyer blogging on subjects we've been talking about.
In a Pentagon news conference today, Daniel J. Dell'Orto, the Defense Department's principal deputy general counsel, said the new procedures faithfully follow the Military Commissions Act and ensure that "alien unlawful enemy combatants" who are suspected of war crimes receive "all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people."
Dell'Orto also announced that Susan J. Crawford, the former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces, will serve as "the convening authority for military commissions." Crawford formerly worked in the Pentagon, serving for a time under then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.
Air Force Gen. Thomas L. Hemingway, legal adviser to the Pentagon's Office of Military Commissions, said detainee trials at Guantanamo that had been suspended will now go forward before the special military tribunals. He said 10 cases had been underway when the process was halted by a challenge in federal court and that a total of 14 cases had been "in various preparatory stages."
Here's a link to the Manual for Military Commissions (PDF--238 pages)
Much has been made of the rules of evidence present in the commissions and the extent to which "coerced" and hearsay statements are admissible. From the Manual's Preamble:
(g) Statements obtained by torture are not admissible (10 U.S.C. § 948r(b)), but statements “in which the degree of coercion is disputed” may be admitted if reliable, probative, and the admission would best serve the interests of justice (10 U.S.C. § 948r(c)). In addition, for such statements obtained after December 30, 2005, the methods used to obtain those statements must comply with the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, enacted on that date (10 U.S.C. § 948r(d)(3)).
[ed: I.E. recognizing that coerced statements may not be reliable, the rules permit challenges to that evidence based on reliability and probative value.]
(h) In addition, rules may provide for:
(3) admission of an accused’s allegedly coerced statements if they comport with § 948r (10 U.S.C. § 949a(b)(2)(C)); [ed: again, must be reliable, probative, and admission must be in the interests of justice]
(4) authentication of evidence similar to Military Rule of Evidence (Mil. R. Evid.) 901 (10 U.S.C. § 949a(b)(2)(D));
(5) admission of hearsay evidence not meeting an exclusion or exception under the Mil. R. Evid. if the proponent gives notice and the opposing party does not demonstrate that the evidence lacks probative value or reliability (10 U.S.C. § 949a(b)(2)(E)); and
[ed: note that BOTH parties may offer hearsay evidence; again it's out if it's neither reliable nor probative]
In addition to these rights, the accused has the right to counsel, be present at trial, examine and respond to evidence, cross-examine witnesses who testify against him, obtain and present evidence, and not be required to testify against himself.
If a society has ever afforded such a panoply of due process to those accused of waging unlawful war against it, I am unaware of it.All done!
This is stunning. In response to the poll question: "Do you personally want the Iraq plan President Bush announced last week to succeed?"
Twenty-two percent (22%) said "No."
A full third of Democrats (34%), one-fifth of Independents (19%) and one-tenth of Republicans (11%), respectively) said that no, they actually want the "surge" to fail (PDF). Not whether they think it is likely to fail or succeed, but that they personally want it to fail.
Let that sink in for a second.
BAGHDAD, Jan. 17 — Facing intense pressure from the Bush administration to show progress in securing Iraq, senior Iraqi officials announced Wednesday that they had moved against the country’s most powerful Shiite militia, arresting several dozen senior members in the past few weeks.
It was the first time the Shiite government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had claimed significant action against the militia, the Mahdi Army, one of the most intractable problems facing his administration. The militia’s leader, the cleric Moktada al-Sadr, helped put Mr. Maliki in power, but pressure to crack down on the group has mounted as its killings in the capital have driven a wedge into efforts to keep the country together.
Although the announcement seemed timed to deflect growing scrutiny by an American administration that has grown increasingly frustrated with Mr. Maliki, American officers here offered some support for the government’s claims, saying that at least half a dozen senior militia leaders had been taken into custody in recent weeks.
In perhaps the most surprising development, the Americans said, none of the members had been prematurely released, a chronic problem as this government has frequently shielded Shiite fighters.
“There was definitely a change in attitudes,” in the past three to four weeks, a senior American military officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Though the story notes the Iraqi government engaged in a bit of..."puffing" with respect to how many total militiamen had been arrested.
Non-military progress reported in Iraq, from Reuters:
U.S. aims to restart 10 Iraqi factories in weeks
BAGHDAD, Jan 18 (Reuters) - U.S. officials have drawn up a list of 10 former state-run Iraqi factories they hope to restart within weeks to employ 11,000 people, kicking off a plan aimed at giving potential insurgents an economic reason not to fight.
Paul Brinkley, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for business transformation, said the factories on the "top 10 list" are among 200 major factories around Iraq that used to employ more than 300,000 people before the March 2003 U.S. invasion.
U.S. policy immediately after the invasion was to promote privatisation so most state-run factories closed.
That left their employees surviving on stipends of about 30 to 40 percent of their former salaries and had a ripple effect on the economy, for example on farmers whose produce was no longer bought by food-processing plants, Brinkley said.
"The core effort right now is to restore employment to as many of the Iraqi people as we can," Brinkley told a news conference in Baghdad. "We think that will improve stability. It will undermine insurgent sympathy."
Conceding that U.S. policy had been based on the false assumption that Iraq's industry was "Soviet-style" and inefficient, Brinkley said a gradual transformation to the private sector was now favored over rapid privatisation.
That story prompts a surprising headline in the NY Times: Iraqi Factories, Aging And Shut, Now Give Hope
RAMADI, Iraq, Jan. 16 — Inside a huge shuttered factory on the gritty western fringes of this outlaw desert town, thousands of ornate porcelain sinks, toilets and other fixtures sit in row after row next to the automated ovens and assembly lines that once churned out the products but lie silent under a thin film of yellow desert dust.The Times story is also carried - with the same headline, in The International Herald Tribune and Speigel Online.
However, neither the fancy ceramics nor the machines appear to be damaged, a miracle that no one can quite explain in one of the most dangerous cities of a country that looters have ravaged since 2003.
Whatever the explanation, some American and Iraqi officials believe that surviving factories like this one — once considered inefficient, government-subsidized behemoths — could present a last chance of sorts for dealing with two problems that have remained stubbornly unsolved since the invasion: Iraq’s reconstruction and its insurgency.
And in fact, the Times has a double shocker for its readers today:
Iraqis Answer Global Critics By Tackling Troubling IssuesElsewhere in Iraq:
Iraqi political leaders stepped up efforts to persuade the world that they were tackling the country’s thorniest problems on Wednesday, highlighting crackdowns on militias, pressing for more rapid arming of Iraqi troops, and underlining progress on a national oil law and new examples of reconciliation with former Baathists.
BAGHDAD — Iraq's leaders will need at least a few more months to hammer out political deals central to President Bush's security overhaul, the outgoing U.S. ambassador said Wednesday.All done!
In an interview with USA TODAY, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad laid out a timetable for Iraqi politicians to resolve long-simmering disagreements, such as how to share Iraq's oil wealth.
The initiatives include:
•An oil law. Drafters finalized an energy bill Tuesday that would define how Iraq's oil wealth would be distributed to different regions, Khalilzad said.
Sunni-dominated territories possess a relatively small percentage of Iraq's oil reserves, and Sunni politicians want to make sure they receive a share of future royalties.
The bill needs Cabinet approval before the parliament votes on it and will probably take a month to pass into law, Khalilzad said.
•De-Baathification. U.S. officials are reviewing a draft law that would partially lift a ban that prevents former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, most of them Sunnis, from holding government jobs. The law is probably two months away from passage, Khalilzad said.
•Constitutional amendments. A bill that would outline how Iraq's constitution could be amended — a point of heated debate between Iraqi sects — is being studied and is "several months" from completion, Khalilzad said.
(aka Re: The plan comes together)
Here's what President Bush didn't mention about "the surge": It's nothing more than an adjustment in rotation dates. Some troops are going a couple months early, others will stay late. Stop the "surge" and the same troops will go to Iraq - just on their normal schedule and in time to hive-five the folks they will replace instead of reinforce. Those newly arrived troops will be completely up shit creek, of course, as no one in Iraq is going to take them at all seriously.
But simply naming this action without explaining it completely - perhaps in an effort to avoid the "nothing new here" response that would predictably follow - provides something "tangible" to oppose: more troops in Iraq who wouldn't otherwise be there.
Which brings this response instead:
A strong majority of Americans opposes President Bush's decision to send more troops to Iraq, and about half of the country wants Congress to block the deployment, a Times/Bloomberg poll has found.
Americans were not swayed very much by President Bush's speech Wednesday night outlining his new strategy for the war in Iraq, according to a CBS News poll.
Half of those who saw the speech said they disapprove of the president’s proposals in general, while 37 percent said they approve.
A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday shows a daunting sales job ahead for the White House, which is considering a plan to deploy up to 20,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq.Countdown to political response in 4... 3... 2... 1...
Those surveyed oppose the idea of increased troop levels by 61%-36%. Approval of the job Bush is doing in Iraq has sunk to 26%, a record low.
"You cannot run a war by committee," Vice President Cheney said over the weekend. Oh? Just watch them. Lawmakers were introducing Iraq legislation at a mad pace yesterday, at one point in the afternoon scheduling news conferences in half-hour intervals.Count votes, at least:
Early risers saw Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) in the Senate television gallery introducing his proposal to limit U.S. troops in Iraq to 130,000 and to hold a vote on whether to reauthorize the war. Those who lingered until lunchtime could catch Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) and other House liberals demanding a withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq within six months.
Booking the Senate TV studio at 2:30 p.m. were Sens. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), with their own Iraq resolution. They had to vacate the room at 3 p.m. for the arrival of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.); Clinton floated a variation of the Dodd plan. Minutes after that session, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) issued a statement announcing legislation ordering a "phased redeployment" of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Even Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who gave up his Senate seat, tried to get a piece of the action yesterday. His campaign sent out a fundraising appeal, asking: "Please chip in to help stop this escalation today."
But the excitement was misplaced. For all the bills introduced yesterday, none is likely to force President Bush to change course in Iraq. Proposals such as Biden's are "nonbinding" and others don't have enough votes to pass. "There is very little chance in the short run that we are going to pass any legislation," Clinton confided during her news conference. Asked to elaborate, she explained: "I can count."
WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday called President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq “a losing strategy” and proposed placing new limits on the White House’s conduct of the war.All done!
Starting at 7 a.m. with back-to-back appearances on NBC and CBS, Senator Clinton devoted her day to a choreographed effort to press the Bush administration to change its Iraq policy and to outline a set of views that might bring her more in sync with Democratic primary voters.
Mrs. Clinton, who is expected to announce plans to run for president soon, sought to tap into the intense and bitter emotions that many Democrats feel about the war, as she promised to introduce legislation to cap the number of troops in Iraq and to place restraints on the administration’s policy.
“I’m really passionate about getting the administration’s attention because they hold most of the cards,” Mrs. Clinton said during an interview in her Senate office here. “And I don’t want to keep losing these young men and women.”
Her new political offensive on Iraq came one day after Senator Barack Obama of Illinois announced that he had formed an exploratory committee for a presidential bid and three days after another likely rival, former Senator John Edwards, took an indirect swipe at Mrs. Clinton and other members of Congress for not doing more to oppose the war in Iraq.
Or at least, news of promises:
Khalilzad also said the United States was "committed to going after" Iranian operatives in Iraq, who he said were responsible for supplying sophisticated bombs used against U.S. forces.These are the keys to making "the surge" work (militarily, at least).
Khalilzad said Iraqi leaders have agreed to allow U.S. forces unfettered access to Baghdad neighborhoods. Such access is key to disarming militias. "We'll have the freedom of action to go anywhere in the city in pursuing these objectives," he said. "We have to wait and see whether what has been agreed to, which is quite satisfactory, is actually implemented."
The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing next week on Lt. Gen. Petraeus' appointment as the next military commander in Iraq.
According to the LA Times, this will be a "blow to the White House" (and a "setback", too).
White House officials are concerned that Congress may try to "scapegoat" Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who has overseen the Iraq war since 2004 and has been nominated as Army chief of staff, the service's highest post. Army and administration officials had planned for Casey to be considered first, in the belief that the urgency of appointing Petraeus as his successor would dissuade lawmakers from engaging in a long and divisive fight over his handling of the war.
Although Defense officials had indicated Casey's nomination would go to the Senate first, White House officials sent over three nominations simultaneously Tuesday — those of Petraeus, Casey and Navy Adm. William J. Fallon, who has been nominated to head the U.S. Central Command, which oversees all U.S. military activity in the Mideast.
On Wednesday, Senate Democrats, at McCain's urging, moved to put Petraeus' confirmation hearing on the committee's calendar. Casey's has not yet been scheduled.
But the swift consideration of Petraeus could mean a rougher time for Casey, who has been criticized by McCain and others for failing to seek additional troops or commit existing forces to Al Anbar province, a stronghold of the Sunni insurgency.
The obligatory Vietnam comparison follows:
The nomination of Casey as chief of staff has drawn comparisons of him and Gen. William C. Westmoreland, the controversial commander who oversaw the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1968. When Westmoreland was replaced in Vietnam, he too was nominated as Army chief of staff and served in that post for four years.
A question on Ehren Watada, from comments here:
Wonder when someone will inform him that the legality of the war has no bearing on his obligation to deploy when ordered.Answer: January 16, 2007:
On Tuesday, however, Lt. Col. John M. Head, the military judge in the case, rejected Watada's request to debate the legality of the war at his court-martial next month. Although Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, had sought to open the question so the soldier could explain why he defied his deployment orders, Head ruled that the war's legality was a political question irrelevant to the charges at hand.Watada, who joined the Army after the invasion of Iraq, faces up to six years in prison for failing to deploy last year and criticizing President Bush and the war in statements to the media and at a peace convention.
Do you fear your experiences in Iraq will cause your idealism to fade?
No, I don't think they will. I'm here in part because of my idealism - because I believe everyone should be given the chance to choose their own path in life, and because I felt I needed to back that belief with action. I don't see my time here changing that.
The mainstream media must be awfully proud of themselves these days. They've laid the groundwork for stories like this.
A group of senators including a Republican war critic announced agreement Wednesday on a resolution opposing President Bush's 21,500 troop build up in Iraq, setting their marker for a major clash between the White House and Congress over the unpopular war.
The non-binding resolution, which was also gaining interest from a second key Republican, would symbolically put the Senate on record as saying the U.S. commitment in Iraq "can only be sustained" with popular support among the American public and in Congress.
"I will do everything I can to stop the president's policy as he outlined it Wednesday night," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican and potential 2008 presidential candidate, who joined Democrats at a press conference on the resolution.
No, things in Iraq haven't always gone according to plan and no, the media isn't to blame for everything, but isn't it nifty how the media shapes public opinion and then writes stories about the "unpopular war" and erosion of "popular support," something they've had a hand in flipping? Jerry Springer-like, me thinks....
Whew, thank goodness. For a second I was worried people might start to have a bad impression of lawyers.
A Pentagon official who criticised US law firms for representing detainees at the Guantanamo Bay US base in Cuba has apologised for his remarks.While it was clear that Stimson wasn't representing DOD policy re these "Gitmo firms," the lengths to which people saw his remarks as "threatening" these law firms was impressive.
In a radio interview, Charles Stimson said he found it shocking that US law firms would represent inmates at the detention centre free of charge.
He also said the firms might suffer financially when corporate clients found they were involved in the cases.
Mr Stimson now says he did not intend to question the lawyers' integrity.
Neal Sonnett, the head of the American Judicature Society [ed: you ever heard of em? Me neither], a non-partisan group, said Mr Stimson's remarks had been "shameful and irresponsible".
He had made a "blatant attempt to intimidate lawyers and their firms who are rendering important public service in upholding the rule of law and our democratic ideals", he said.
How Stimson's comments constituted intimidation or a threat is beyond me. At last check, the government employs its own attorneys and doesn't farm out legal work to BigFirms(tm). And unless I missed something, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs lacks legislative authority.
At best, any "threat" to a Gitmo firm would indirect and against those companies that employ/retain a Gitmo firm. And again, as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs can't pass laws, that kind of limits the ability of DOD to "punish" Gitmo firms vis a vis their corporate clients to the awarding of government contracts.
So that means, stick with me here, a Raytheon wouldn't get the multi-billion dollar defense contract because at one point they retained BigFirm on a wholly unrelated matter who has, in one of their global offices somewhere, an attorney that is doing pro bono work on behalf of a Gitmo detainee.
Sure, that's plausible.
Alternatively, the local smaller scale government contractor (who, like all small gov't contractors has BigFirm(tm) on retainer) won't get the Fort Drum grass-cutting contract because the local contracting officer has the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs on speeddial and is just THAT TUNED IN to risk violating a whole bunch of statutes by dorking with the gov't contracting process.
And why? Stimson! He is that powerful.
As a threat, Stimson's comments suck. Indicating they weren't a threat at all.
Russia 2015-2022 is what is giving me fits as of late.
There are ten million people in Moscow. Do you know how many of them are Muslim? Two and a half million. Or about a quarter of the population. The ethnic Russians are older; the Muslims are younger. The ethnic Russians are already in net population decline; the Muslim population in the country has increased by 40% in the last 15 years. Seven out of ten Russian pregnancies (according to some surveys) are aborted; in some Muslim communities, the fertility rate is ten babies per woman. Russian men have record rates of heart disease, liver disease, drug addiction and Aids; Muslims are the only guys in the country who aren’t face down in the vodka.How do you write "Peas be upon him" in Cyrillic? I think it is, "Горох, быть на Вас."
Faced with these trends, most experts extrapolate: thus, it’s generally accepted that by mid-century the Russian Federation will be majority Muslim. But you don’t really need to extrapolate when the future’s already checking in at reception. The Toronto Star (which is Canada’s biggest-selling newspaper and impeccably liberal) recently noted that by 2015 Muslims will make up a majority of Russia’s army.
What a train wreck coming around the bend. Don't forget all that Russian you learned as a JO yet....
No Political Fallout for Bush on Weapons(Via Mesozoic Mudville)
Few Democrats are challenging Bush on the forbidden weapons, preferring to put the war behind them and focus attention on the economy, health care and other domestic issues.
This week, Pelosi said it is "difficult to understand" why the weapons can't be found. Yet she did not seem concerned about whether any are found. "I am sort of agnostic on it; that is to say, maybe they are there," Pelosi said. "I salute the president for the goal of removing weapons of mass destruction."
Similarly, Senate Democratic Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), who on the eve of war accused Bush of failing "miserably" to win international backing, now talks of giving the president "great credit" for winning the war.
Why the reticence to remind Bush of the rationale for the war? Public opinion may be one reason.
According to a May 1 Gallup poll for CNN and USA Today, 79 percent of Americans said the war with Iraq was justified even without conclusive evidence of the illegal weapons, while 19 percent said discoveries of the weapons were needed to justify the war. An April Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 72 percent supported the war even without a finding of chemical or biological weapons. Similarly, a CBS News poll found that 60 percent said the war was worth the blood and other costs even if weapons are never found.
"If I were a Democratic candidate, I don't think I would be pushing this issue,' said Andrew Kohut, of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People and the Press...
"Inasmuch as we've already done the deed, the need for that as a rationale is less," he said.
For those of us on a first name basis with the military's taping system, there is hope:.
Six weeks ago, I began what has become a huge obsession of mine. It is called the “Wii Sports Experiment” (Read my original announcement of this from Early December ‘06). I outlined a 6 week game plan for myself, the idea being that I would continue ALL normal activity and eating habits, and simply add 30 minutes of Wii Sports to my day. For the past month and a half, I’ve stuck to these guidelines very strictly.The dude lost 9 lbs and almost 2% body fat.
An Appeal For Redress
"Given the dubious constutionality of General Order #1, as well as "mistakes" made by the administration of 1862(specifically ending the rum ration) we the undersigned demand compensation for compliance with General Order #1 at the rate of 1/8th pint of Rum (the pre-1862 Rum ration) for each day subjected to General Order #1."
I wonder if I can get 1,000 signatures??? I wonder if the NY TImes and WaPo will write artices about it?
The WaPo picks up the "Appeal for Redress" story:
Working from within, Hutto, Rogers and others have established AppealforRedress.org , a Web site that enables active-duty, reserve and National Guard troops to appeal directly to Congress to withdraw military personnel from Iraq. On Monday, the group held its coming-out news conference in Norfolk, announcing that more than 1,000 people have signed appeals. On Tuesday, the pleas will be presented to Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) on Capitol Hill...The story doesn't specify which of the sailors is from Kucinich's district.
Kucinich will meet today with representatives of the group to receive the appeals for redress and present them to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
In fact, the story leaves out quite a few details - but that "simple sailors protesting war" is a much better angle than the whole truth - but the odds of the truth about this one ever appearing in the Washington Post are slim to none.
Note, however, that the Post is only willing to claim that "more than 1,000 people" have signed the petition. Other sources have noted that "mainly active duty members of the military" have signed. The group originally claimed they would check the signatures to "verify that they are legitimate service members". The numbers are small, but there's a numbers game being played here.
Organizers estimated that about two dozen active-duty members showed up at the Norfolk event, in a church near the naval base here. They were expecting 50.When "organizers" of this sort of thing "estimate", an inflation factor of 10 generally follows. I suspect the number was closer to "two" than "two dozen". Given the military population of the area, it's an incredibly low figure either way.
But apparently worthy of Washington Post coverage.
USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) is deploying today from Washington state on her way to the Indian Ocean and beyond. Expect this news to ignite a whole new round of "we're about to attack Iran" idiocy. We've got the Eisenhower off Somalia, the Stennis on her way, and the Eisenhower's normal relief will probably show up in April or so. That'll be three. I'm planning on continuing to yawn about an "attack on Iran" until we get four real carriers in the Fifth Fleet AOR (the amphibs don't count -- neither does the eastern Med).
A week or two back I posted a quick reaction to the Kagan/Keane proposal, spurred on by CDR Salamander's post. Since people are drawing parallels to Kagan/Keane and the President's speech (and critiquing them thusly), I should link to both Phibian's and my takes on the proposal.
Heh - you should see what Mudville looked like circa '03. No - actually no one should.
(back on topic: the new design looks good)
Sadr's Mahd Squads are producing Muslim body counts in Baghdad at a rate that would impress Jack Bauer circa Season Four.You are the man.
But site design? Heh - you should see what Mudville looked like circa '03. No - actually no one should. Point being I'm the wrong guy to talk about that.
Greyhawk's always lamenting the fact that so many milbloggers close up shop after returning home from the war. While I understand the reasons why (so much more to do with your free time here than sit in front of the keyboard), I do believe I've finally overcome the tractor beam of stateside sloth.
I'll try to get back to my old form ASAP. But until then, please bear with me.
Whenever you hear someone state that there is "no military solution in Iraq, only a diplomatic or political one," consider that code for "I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about."
Let me know how the new site design looks and feels. Constructive feedback, people.
On February 21, 2005, before all of his unit had arrived in Iraq, Army Staff Sgt. Thomas Stone and his advance party of California National Guard soldiers stopped to help another group of soldiers after a Humvee accident in downtown Baghdad. Stone shepherded the other unit's dazed troops into a proper security perimeter and called in a helicopter for the injured. But as the chopper landed, an insurgent detonated a hidden roadside bomb that shredded nine men. Stone ran back and forth, braving sniper fire, to grab first-aid supplies. Then, as a second medevac helicopter arrived and the survivors braced for another blast -- a common tactic of Iraqi insurgents -- Stone curled himself around a badly wounded friend, covering the soldier with his own body. "If it goes off, you're going to be OK," Stone told him. "Hug your wife and kids, and don't ever forget me."Rest here.
The WaPo has a great new term for surrender in Iraq: "Alternatives centered around pulling out troops".
"We recognize that many members of Congress are skeptical," Bush said in his radio address yesterday, adding: "Members of Congress have a right to express their views, and express them forcefully. But those who refuse to give this plan a chance to work have an obligation to offer an alternative that has a better chance for success. To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible."
Many Democrats, in fact, have proposed alternatives centered around pulling out troops, an idea Bush flatly rejects.
...in an earlier post, since corrected. But it's a bit down there now, and this is a must-read.
...before reading the quote below.
Saddam Hussein's half brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, head of Iraq's Saddam-era Revolutionary Court, have been hanged. Originally convicted along with Saddam, apparently they were originally scheduled to swing with him, too.
A lawyer for the two men told The Associated Press recently that they were taken from their cells and told they were going to be hanged on the same day Saddam was executed.Link via Jules Crittenden, who says (regarding Saddam) "The AP fails to mention that the predicted outburst of pro-Saddam violence never happened, and that Iraqi street reaction leaned heavily to favorable."
Issam Ghazawi, a member of Saddam's defense team for the past two years, said he met individually with Ibrahim and al-Bandar recently, and that Ibrahim told him they were escorted from their cells and told they were also going to be executed.
"The Americans took me and al-Bandar from our cells on the same day of Saddam's execution to an office inside the prison at 1 a.m. They asked us to collect our belongings because they intend to execute us at dawn," Ibrahim reportedly said.
He said the two men were also told to write their wills.
Al-Bandar and Ibrahim were taken back to their prison cells nearly nine hours later, according to Ghazawi.
"Their execution should be commuted under such circumstances because of the psychological pain they endured as they waited to hang," he said.
The official video of hanging of Saddam Hussein's co-defendants screened for reporters Monday showed the former leader's half brother lying headless below the gallows, his severed head several yards away. The video shows Barzan Ibrahim, Saddam's half brother and former intelligence chief, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, being hanged side by side.
They wore red prison jumpsuits. As they reached the gallows, black hoods were put on their heads and five masked men surrounded them.
After the trap doors opened, al-Bandar could be seen dangling from the rope. Ibrahim's body was lying on the floor, chest down, his severed head resting several yards away...
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the gallows were built to international standards and in accordance with human rights organizations.
His business is failing. His wife may have to sell the house. There is no insurance, because they still don't know if Jeff Ake's alive or not. It wasn't exactly Halliburton; smaller businesses can't do much when the boss is kidnapped and disappeared.
They need some help.
From today's editorial:
It was surreal how disconnected President Bush was the other night, both from Iraq’s horrifying reality and America’s anguish over this unnecessary, mismanaged and now unwinnable war.
Not exactly new or surprising, but I don't even think the NYT has stated it so succinctly. Stand firm Grey Lady, stand firm. And lest you nattering nabobs of NYT negativity think nary a new solution is proposed, we have the much-vaunted international conference:
Mr. Bush should reinforce that message by convening a conference of all of Iraq’s neighbors to discuss how they can help stabilize Iraq — and what they can do to contain the wider chaos should it come.
I've got that warm fuzzy feeling, myself.
A ship with horns? What is it doing?
Old fashioned port protection, as set out here.
Update: A modern technique.
It was remarked that their release was a gift from President Carter, which it was, in a way, but it was also a gift from Reagan to himself, since Reagan's own tough stance on the hostage issue had almost certainly caused the mullahs in Iran to feel they had better make a quick deal with the outgoing Administration. The joke going around the Capitol was: "What’s flat and glows?" The answer: "Iran on Inauguration Day." The joke was apparently not lost on the Iranians.
I think the Iranians have forgotten.
I've noticed the resurgence of the term "warbloggers" (a term in no way related to milbloggers, btw) in the Leftist discussion of Jamil Hussein. It's rather quaint and absolutely outdated - until Rosen and others started tossing it around again I hadn't seen it used since 2003. (See here and here.) "Back in the day" it applied to bloggers of every political persuasion who wrote about the post-9/11 world, and separated them from the pure diarist or tech-blogger or celebrity-gosip-blogger or whatever. It fell into disuse because it was an utterly inaccurate descriptor - even Welch's "farewell" came a couple years after the term had all but faded from memory of anyone not involved in the gestation. I doubt anyone who first found the blogosphere in 2004 or later had ever even seen the term. But now it appears again. Are Rosen and his sort trying to pretend they are far out of touch with the blogosphere while simultaneously responding to every rumble from its depths?
Wherever you find the boot of totalitarianism smashing endlessly into the human face, you'll find a "jounalist" praising the resulting "stability":
Pelley: But wasn't it your administration that created the instability in Iraq?(Part of a series.)
Bush: Our administration took care of a source of instability in Iraq. Envision a world in which Saddam Hussein was rushing for a nuclear weapon to compete against Iran... He was a significant source of instability.
Pelley: It's much more unstable now, Mr. President.
Jay Rosen says in a very long series of posts (the link is the latest) that "warbloggers" are in a "culture war" over reporting, with a "retreat from empiricism", using some convoluted appeals and assumptions with which I do not agree and see as intermittently counterfactual. Jason van Steenwyk of Countercolumn is the (usually) lone dissenting voice but nobody (including Rosen) seems to want to understand in favor of misdirecting on the Jamil Hussein imbroglio.
On the other hand, Bill Ardolino interviews a Marine in Iraq. This interview is a little easier to understand.
Update: Argh! Wrong guy named "Bill" embedded in Iraq and blogging. My apologies; fixed. Uh, I did that on purpose...as a joke. Yeah, that's it.
...and step away from the DFAC, fat boy:
Military Personnel Eating, Drinking More, Survey SaysDamn that free food.
U.S. troops were fatter and drank harder in 2005 than before the Iraq war started, according a Pentagon survey of more than 16,000 service members released yesterday.
Just over 60 percent of respondents in the 2005 survey were overweight; in the previous survey conducted in 2002, 57.2 percent were. The Iraq war began in March 2003.The story doesn't give details, but based on those figures I'd guess they might be using 25 BMI as a definition of "overweight" - a threshold that defines all but the scrawniest of human beings as "overweight". (Including, at 6'3", 205, yours truly)
Jonathan Hutto officially (and predictably) joins the "Stolen Valor" crowd:
"With recent calls for an escalation of troops in Iraq, Congress should listen to those of us who have been and who will be directly affected by this policy change,'' said Norfolk-based Seaman Jonathan Hutto.Except, he's never been there and never will be, so he ain't one of us.
The Appeal messages will be delivered to members of Congress at the time of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January 2007.But like Ehren Watada's efforts, the campaign has been an unqualified flop:
Over 1,000 signatures of mainly active duty members of the military have been gathered.By the way, the original story (when Fenton Communications launched the project with a major media event last fall) was that the group would check the signatures to "verify that they are legitimate service members".
Note the latest version is that "mainly active duty members of the military" have signed - some of whom have been to Iraq. Even with the additional padding, the number is incredibly low.
This one's even lower:
Event organizers said they expect roughly 50 active-duty military personnel to be on hand to ask Congress to short-circuit the president's proposal, unveiled in a nationally televised address on Wednesday, to send an additional 21,500 troops to the country.
But hey, they got "Lisa" on board:
"Lisa" -- 20 years old, E-4, USAF, Stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii:
I joined up two weeks after I turned 17 because I wanted to save American lives. I wanted to be a hero like any American child.
I supported the war when I joined because I thought it was justified. Only after my own research and the truth coming out did I learn how wrong I was, how -- for lack of a better word -- how brainwashed I was.
Now I know the war is illegal, unjustified and that our troops have no reason for being there.
Too bad she didn't do research here.
What we're not asking is actually the central question. We're getting distracted by the shiny political knife fight. What we need to be asking is, what happens if we lose? And no one will answer that question. If we lose, how are we going to mitigate the consequences of this?
It's so much easier for us to cover this as a political horse race. It's on the cover of "The New York Times" today, what this means for the '08 election. But we're not asking the central national security question, because it seems that if as a reporter you do ask the national security question, all of a sudden you're carrying Bush's water. There are national security questions at stake, and we're ignoring them and the country is getting screwed.
Guantanamo detainees don't lack for legal representation. A list of lead counsel released this week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request reads like a who's who of America's most prestigious law firms: Shearman and Sterling; Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr; Covington & Burling; Hunton & Williams; Sullivan & Cromwell; Debevoise & Plimpton; Cleary Gottlieb; and Blank Rome are among the marquee names.Which leads to the question:
A senior U.S. official I spoke to speculates that this information might cause something of scandal, since so much of the pro bono work being done to tilt the playing field in favor of al Qaeda appears to be subsidized by legal fees from the Fortune 500. "Corporate CEOs seeing this should ask firms to choose between lucrative retainers and representing terrorists" who deliberately target the U.S. economy, he opined.
When Marine Lt. Ilario Pantano was facing court martial--and potentially, the death penalty--over his conduct on the battlefield, did any of these law firms offer to send down a pro-bono attorney for him?
James Taranto asks: Are There Two Different Fort Bennings?
"Bush Cheered at Fort Benning: FORT BENNING, Ga.--President Bush, surrounded on Thursday by cheering soldiers in camouflage, defended his decision to send 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq and cautioned that the buildup will not produce quick results. 'It's going to take awhile,' he said."--headline and lead paragraph, Associated Press, Jan. 11To be fair, a later report from the NY Times acknowledges the overwhelming support of the troops for the mission.
"Bush Speaks and Base Is Subdued: FORT BENNING, Ga., Jan. 11--President Bush came to this Georgia military base looking for a friendly audience to sell his new Iraq strategy. But his lunchtime talk received a restrained response from soldiers who clapped politely but showed little of the wild enthusiasm that they ordinarily shower on the commander in chief."-- New York Times, Jan. 12
Unlike in Congressional corridors and across the civilian landscape of the country, there seems far more support than outrage, more cheer than cheerlessness, and a hope that maybe this will do it.
They quote soldiers at Fort Lewis
Corporal Hubert, 22, a reconnaissance specialist, said the troop increase made sense. “It seems like they’re really starting to have a stronger focus and to embed troops, which I like to see,” he said. “It’s more aggressive and more supportive.”And elsewhere:
Sgt. James Mayotte, an infantry leader in the Fourth Brigade who was visiting Galloping Gertie’s the other morning, was more restrained. “If it works, it’s a great idea,” Sergeant Mayotte said. “I don’t personally like having anyone over there, but if it’s good for the country....”
At Fort Benning, Ga., where several combat units are returning early to Iraq, soldiers generally seemed supportive of the change.And they found two guys who opposed the move
“I think we have to do something about what’s going on in Baghdad,” said First Lt. Jonathon Draper, 28, who has already spent a year in Iraq. “We’ll get the job done, whatever the president says.”
Staff Sgt. Shwon Brooks, 29, who has yet to go to war, said, “I kind of figured it was going to happen, but I thought it was going to be in the summer.”
Specialist Douglas Block, 40, a father of four... “The more troops you have, the better it is,” Specialist Block said. “If they would have done this from the beginning, we’d be out of there by now.”
Sgt. Kyle Cullen finished a deployment to Iraq a year ago and is not happy about returning. “I think sending more troops is not the way to go,” Sergeant Cullen said. “That will just be adding more to get killed.”One of whom only joined to get an education:
“I think they should let them all come home; they’re over there for no reason,” said Pvt. Diana Ware, 20. “I know I don’t want to go. I joined the National Guard to go to college.” Private Ware’s goal is to become a nurse.So of course, the headline - the only part of the story most people will see - that the editors placed over the story of "more support than outrage, more cheer than cheerlessness" is this:
Among Troops And Families, Mixed Reaction To American Expansion In IraqAll done!
In December, 2003, Hillary Clinton visited Iraq to deliver a message to American troops: Americans don't support your mission.
The morale of the troops, she said, "is very high," but she said the military personnel with whom she spoke in meetings and during "two turkey dinners" wanted to know "how the people at home feel about what we are doing."She then appeared on every network Sunday talk show to get that message to the American people, too.
" "Americans are wholeheartedly proud of what you are doing,' " Clinton said she replied, " "but there are many questions at home about the (Bush) administration's policies.' "
What happened is that when I was in Afghanistan and Iraq speaking with a lot of our soldiers who I think are doing an extraordinary job under dangerous and difficult circumstances. They asked me on one particular occasion well you know what will people think of us and we're doing back home? Now I'm not going to lie to an American soldier particularly a soldier from the 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, New York.
However, she insisted it was the Commander in Chief, not the troops, who Americans don't support.
We are wholeheartedly supporting our troops, and that is exactly as it should be. The American people I think understand that they are performing superbly under difficult and dangerous circumstances. But you know these young men and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, they are on the Internet, they get the media. They know very well that there is a debate about our policies.But forget all that - it's old news, long forgotten. She went back to Baghdad this week, with a "new" message for the troops:
BAGHDAD, Jan. 13, 2007 — In an exclusive interview with ABC News in Baghdad, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., called the situation in Iraq "heartbreaking" and said she doubts Congress and the American people believe the mission here can succeed.Given the spread of communications media in Iraq over the intervening years, you can bet this time the message got to the Iraqi people as well.
"I don't know that the American people or the Congress at this point believe this mission can work," she said.
And of course, anyone else over there.All done!
Everybody's talking about the war, but nobody's doing anything about it. That's the message from Ehren Watada, who has apparently discovered the difference between "having an opinion" and "giving a damn" now that his expected public support has failed to materialize.
Public Inaction Dismays WatadaAt least if he gets internet access in prison he can cruise cool web sites.
Seven months ago, Watada made headlines when he refused to deploy to Iraq with a Fort Lewis-based Stryker Brigade, saying the war was illegal. His decision drew the attention of the anti-war movement, and eventually charges for conduct unbecoming an officer and missing a troop movement.
On Friday, Watada continued to talk, wondering about the lack of public outrage over the nearly four-year-old war.
"Could it be that ... many people don't care about the illegality of this war?" Watada asked students and others who packed a hall at Seattle Central Community College. "It is my belief that the American people have relinquished their responsibility."
Somebody came to my site after doing a search for Armywrong.net
From the site's own press release:
ArmyWrong is a new front in an escalating insurgency to counter the $200 million per year the Army spends on campaigns squarely aimed at the youth of America--packed with images of power and hyped across the full media spectrum.
This nationwide effort, led by Texans for Peace, battles growing militarism while also pointing out how today's military-industrial complex "perverts the ideals of Democracy, Freedom, Justice and Liberty," says Charlie Jackson, ArmyWrong creator.
In the tradition of Vietnam-era satire, ArmyWrong turns military slogans on their face. "There's Wrong and There's Army Wrong" is the motto of the new campaign. The project's website and materials heap payloads of satire and humor on military issues ranging from daily army life to the lack of volunteers from neoconservative groups.
But make no mistake, counter-recruiting efforts like ArmyWrrong [sic] are hoping to do something more serious … obstruct the creeping militarism of America and war policies by encouraging youth to find other forms of service.
For the first time, the Pentagon released the figures of US and British casualties in Iraq from the extra-lethal explosive devices manufactured in Iran: 198 dead and more than 600 wounded
At hearings yesterday, Mr. Levin forced Mr. Gates and Lieutenant-General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Okay..so I'm nitpicking...the most senior member of the worlds third largest military has what rank? Should a guy who can't tell the difference between a 3 star general and a 4 star general (one wears 3 stars..the other 4 stars) be considered an authoritative source on a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing?
President George W. Bush made clear on Saturday he would not back off his plan to send more troops to Iraq despite bipartisan hostility to the idea and he accused his critics of failing to offer an alternative.Odd that although the plan has "bipartisan support" and "bipartisan hostility" Reuters chooses to acknowledge only the later.
But it's easier to be "anti-war" once you've been trained to believe that only George Bush has anything to lose.
A translation from Iraqi media, via Haider Ajina.
Bush's speech was delivered in the pre-dawn hours, Iraq time, and initial US media coverage accurately noted "no response yet" from the Iraqi government.
I don't know if any American outlets have subsequently covered Talibani's response, but the AP did have this today:
Days after President Bush accused Syria of encouraging the violence in Iraq, President Jalal Talabani on Sunday will become the highest-level Iraqi official to visit this country in more than 24 years.
I highly recommend everyone follow the links in the next two posts down.
There may be a few folks who don't know it (and she doesn't mention it) but Some Soldier's Mom's soldier son was wounded in action during his last trip to Iraq. The Mrs and I got to meet both her and her husband at Landstuhl, where he had been evac'd for medical care. (Unfortunately, that was the only way we got to meet fellow milbloggers while we were in Germany. Fortunately the number wasn't high.)
There are two sides in this war. You can't call for defeat of one without simultaneously calling for victory for the other. Obviously I'm not addressing those who simply voice concerns over the whole "surge" concept - I'm among that number myself. But if you live in the United States or enjoy the protections we afford so many other nations, then you have a stake in this war, and will bear both the unforeseable and predictable consequences of failure. Sadly, too many - perhaps because of those very perceptions of protection here and abroad - feel too much distance from that threat, and can summon adequate "courage" to participate in a simultaneous (and safer, at least as far as immediate likelihood of a participant's physical injury or death) political "war".
The stakes are high in that more genteel battle too, but I fear those who think victory in that sphere will somehow justify defeat in ours are in for a rather rude awakwening should they grasp that brass ring of their fondest dreams.
Wednesday morning, the phone rings. “Who the heck is calling at this hour?” As I turn over to reach for the nightstand, I glance at the windows in the room. They’re still dark; no hint of light. And I mutter under my breath, “It’s never good news if it’s dark.” As I reach for the phone, the green numbers on the clock say 5:30. I pick the phone out of its cradle and push the “on” button.
“Hey, Ma.” I mentally calculate, 7:30 Georgia time.
“Hey. Everything OK?”
“Shit.” Great. Not even out of bed and I’m already cursing.
“Do you know when?”
“Can’t say exactly. Looks like March. Be sure to watch the President's speech tonight."
I think, as if we’d miss it??
“Is it official? Did you get orders?”
“Not yet.” And then he tells me a tentative date.
Damn. Just Damn.
Follow along at Some Soldier's Mom
I SAW IT IN MY INBOX this evening. It was an email from a familiar name, someone very close to me. But it was the subject line that got me really steamed:
FW: Oppose Escalation in Iraq
Opening it, I read this single line from a loved one:
Let your conscience decide....
What followed was, as the subject line suggested, a forwarded petition urging Congress to cut off funding for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Continue reading "Et Tu?"
By using the Mekong River to move oil instead of the Malacca Strait. Why?
As noted here
Piracy is not the only perceived vulnerability though. Beijing has also concerns that in a potential conflict with US fuel shipments through the waterway could be choked off, hence the importance of the Mekong.
Update: I should note that instead of viewing the Mekong route as an alternate to the Malacca Strait, it may be more appropriate to view it as an alternative to the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait as I mention in an update to the final link set out above.
"41st edition of the News! Curse that Crusader, Major John!"
Breaking News... From CNN
ATHENS, Greece (CNN) -- An explosion shook the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece, on Friday, an embassy spokeswoman told CNN. No injuries were reported.
The spokeswoman did not give immediate details on the cause, size or scope of the blast, but local media reported it occurred around 5:55 a.m. (10:55 p.m. ET).
and at FOX
...Corporal Jason Dunham, USMC, became the first Marine to earn the Medal of Honor in Iraq.
Chuck Simmins has followed the story from the beginning, you can read it all here.
Greg Gutfeld's got another contest running. You may want to look at that one.
Comments are piling up at the Daily Gut version of the post. I like the running gag about the bus.All done!
...at The Huffington Post:
How many U.S. troops will be killed in Iraq in the next year?What a sad little freak show they've got over there. But it does reaffirm the thought that anyone with a shred of conscience, dignity, or intelligence departed "the Left" a few years back, leaving only this sort behind.
Submit your best estimate here...
I'll keep track--our memories are long--and we'll notify the "winner" one year from today.
Our collective prognostications might just serve as a public declaration that the Commander-in-Chief cannot make Iraq into a crapshoot with our kids.
So submit your estimate here. Put a number to it. On January 10, 2008, how many additional men and women in the U.S. services, do you think, will be dead for this cause?
I don't know about you, but an hour and a half of listening to the same Happy Flowers song sounds like a good deal to me.
Oh, wait. I like the Happy Flowers. That pretty much was my college radio show, back in the day. Wonder what Chief Wiggles would think of that?
The local Fox affiliate gave this deadlined MILBLOGGER some airtime this am, for reaction to the President's speech last night. Video here.
Nowhere near as detailed, nor exhaustive, as Greyhawk, but maybe every little bit helps to dispel the ignorance...
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran and Syria on Thursday denounced President Bush's new Iraq strategy that blames them for fueling violence in the war-torn country, and they said the plan to send more U.S. troops would only increase bloodshed
I wasn't all that thrilled about the plan, but if it upsets the usual suspects, Iran and Syria, it must be good.
Below the fold, the White House fact sheet sent to media in advance of tonight's speech.
The Highlights of the Iraq Strategy Review Slideshow is now available on the White House website in PDF format.A quick clip from the speech itself:
Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.Somewhere here I believe I've already indicated my agnosticism on the "surge". But a part of that was due the "restrictions" piece. I'm surprised to see it mentioned here.
Of course, a better definition of exactly what "restrictions" were acknowledged as excessive would be nice too. (I'm betting it ain't General Order One he was talking about, but other than that who knows?) I'm not sure we'll see one though - but once again, I didn't expect "restrictions" would be addressed at all.
But I'll bet that in all the "surge" hype, even in the "President acknowledges mistakes" hype that's sure to follow, this "restrictions" bit gets overlooked by most. The smart kids will notice.
Updating: A slightly different take - Byron York caught it, but thinks it will lead to "more pointed questions than ever before". I suspect he believes there are lots of smart kids out there.
More: Meanwhile, back in iraq, where the President's speech played at 0'dark hundred...
Iraq PM Tells Shiite Militias to Give UpThese might be the aforementioned "restrictions":
Iraq's prime minister has told Shiite militiamen to surrender their arms or face an all-out assault by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces, senior Iraqi officials said Wednesday, as American and Iraqi troops prepared major military operations aimed at ending sectarian warfare in Baghdad.
The move came as President Bush said he will send an additional of 21,500 American combat troops to Iraq, according to excerpts of a speech the president was set to deliver later Wednesday.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, head of Iraq's Shiite-led government, previously had blocked several U.S. attempts to crack down on fighters controlled by his most powerful political ally, Muqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shiite cleric.
"Prime Minister al-Maliki has told everyone that there will be no escape from attack," a senior Shiite legislator and close al-Maliki adviser said. "The government has told the Sadrists: 'If we want to build a state we have no other choice but to attack armed groups.'"
In the past, the Iraqi government has tried to prevent American military operations against the Mahdi Army, while giving U.S. forces a free hand against Sunni militants. The Bush administration has pushed al-Maliki, who took office in May, to curb his militia allies or allow U.S. troops to do the job.And for those interested in why Sadr is still around, there's this.
Although al-Maliki withdrew political protection from the Mahdi Army, there was no guarantee the Shiite fighters would be easily routed from the large and growing area of Baghdad under their control.
I have another concern about the surge though, but if whoever I eventually share a cot with at least smells nice it won't be too awful bad.
Final update: Full transcript here.
The New Way Forward In IraqAll done!
The President's New Iraq Strategy Is Rooted In Six Fundamental Elements:
1. Let the Iraqis lead;
2. Help Iraqis protect the population;
3. Isolate extremists;
4. Create space for political progress;
5. Diversify political and economic efforts; and
6. Situate the strategy in a regional approach.
- The Consequences Of Failure In Iraq Could Not Be Graver – The War On Terror Cannot Be Won If We Fail In Iraq. Our enemies throughout the Middle East are trying to defeat us in Iraq. If we step back now, the problems in Iraq will become more lethal, and make our troops fight an uglier battle than we are seeing today.
Key Elements Of The New Approach: Security
· Publicly acknowledge all parties are responsible for quelling sectarian violence.
· Work with additional Coalition help to regain control of the capital and protect the Iraqi population.
· Deliver necessary Iraqi forces for Baghdad and protect those forces from political interference.
· Commit to intensify efforts to build balanced security forces throughout the nation that provide security even-handedly for all Iraqis.
· Plan and fund eventual demobilization program for militias.
· Agree that helping Iraqis to provide population security is necessary to enable accelerated transition and political progress.
· Provide additional military and civilian resources to accomplish this mission.
· Increase efforts to support tribes willing to help Iraqis fight Al Qaeda in Anbar.
· Accelerate and expand the embed program while minimizing risk to participants.
Both Coalition And Iraqi:
· Continue counter-terror operations against Al Qaeda and insurgent organizations.
· Take more vigorous action against death squad networks.
· Accelerate transition to Iraqi responsibility and increase Iraqi ownership.
· Increase Iraqi security force capacity – both size and effectiveness – from 10 to 13 Army divisions, 36 to 41 Army Brigades, and 112 to 132 Army Battalions.
Establish a National Operations Center, National Counterterrorism Force, and National Strike Force.
Reform the Ministry of Interior to increase transparency and accountability and transform the National Police.
Key Elements Of The New Approach: Political
· The Government of Iraq commits to:
o Reform its cabinet to provide even-handed service delivery.
Act on promised reconciliation initiatives (oil law, de-Baathification law, Provincial elections).
Give Coalition and ISF authority to pursue ALL extremists.
· All Iraqi leaders support reconciliation.
· Moderate coalition emerges as strong base of support for unity government.
· Support political moderates so they can take on the extremists.
o Build and sustain strategic partnerships with moderate Shi'a, Sunnis, and Kurds.
· Support the national compact and key elements of reconciliation with Iraqis in the lead.
· Diversify U.S. efforts to foster political accommodation outside Baghdad (more flexibility for local commanders and civilian leaders).
Expand and increase the flexibility of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) footprint.
Focus U.S. political, security, and economic resources at local level to open space for moderates, with initial priority to Baghdad and Anbar.
Both Coalition And Iraqi:
· Partnership between Prime Minister Maliki, Iraqi moderates, and the United States where all parties are clear on expectations and responsibilities.
· Strengthen the rule of law and combat corruption.
· Build on security gains to foster local and national political accommodations.
· Make Iraqi institutions even-handed, serving all of Iraq's communities on an impartial basis.
Key Elements Of The New Approach: Economic
· Deliver economic resources and provide essential services to all areas and communities.
· Enact hydrocarbons law to promote investment, national unity, and reconciliation.
· Capitalize and execute jobs-producing programs.
· Match U.S. efforts to create jobs with longer term sustainable Iraqi programs.
· Focus more economic effort on relatively secure areas as a magnet for employment and growth.
· Refocus efforts to help Iraqis build capacity in areas vital to success of the government (e.g. budget execution, key ministries).
· Decentralize efforts to build Iraqi capacities outside the Green Zone.
Double the number of PRTs and civilians serving outside the Green Zone.
Establish PRT-capability within maneuver Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs).
· Greater integration of economic strategy with military effort.
Joint civil-military plans devised by PRT and BCT.
Remove legal and bureaucratic barriers to maximize cooperation and flexibility.
Key Elements Of The New Approach: Regional
· Vigorously engage Arab states.
· Take the lead in establishing a regional forum to give support and help from the neighborhood.
· Counter negative foreign activity in Iraq.
· Increase efforts to counter PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party).
· Intensify efforts to counter Iranian and Syrian influence inside Iraq.
· Increase military presence in the region.
· Strengthen defense ties with partner states in the region.
· Encourage Arab state support to Government of Iraq.
· Continue efforts to help manage relations between Iraq and Turkey.
· Continue to seek the region's full support in the War on Terror.
Both Coalition And Iraqi:
· Focus on the International Compact.
· Retain active U.N. engagement in Iraq – particularly for election support and constitutional review.
There's a hell of a quote buried in Bill Ardolino's interview with Captain Eric "Disco" Dominijanni, USMC, a New Yorker currently serving as a Company Commander in Iraq:
I asked him who the enemy was:Bill doesn't belabor that "like back in NY" bit, but it's something anyone who's driven extensively through any major American metropolitan area understands immediately.
"A lot of (those who plant IED's) are poor farmers who have no money. Some just drop them off on their way to work. A local insurgent leader or ringleader will say 'hey, here's $5 to drop an IED against the Americans," sometimes more if they video them dropping it. It's also almost like a rite to manhood out here. We're getting kids, like 18 and 19 years-old that are trying to look like men, get that symbol of manhood and establish themselves as local leaders in the community. And what's the best way to do that? It's to fight the infidels."
I suggested they join football teams instead.
"Well actually we're doing that, we're handing out soccer balls, and you can actually see the impact in some areas with the younger kids. All kids want candy, but when you see them and they are waving when you drive by, that's a key indicator - but only when no adults are nearby, because some of them will slap their hands down. Some areas are friendly and some are not; you'll feel it, like back in NY. When everyone scatters, something is about to go down."
Read the whole thing, along with this revealing interview with a citizen of Fallujah:
INDC: So the majority of the insurgency here is religious radicals?These brief quotes don't capture the real substance of either discussion - read 'em both, and check back often for more. All done!
Yusef: "People in Iraq fighting, they are kids. They have no knowledge, they are ignorant from both sides, about their religion and education-wise. They (the radicals) buy them with money, so why not? Some guys who work with insurgents and start killing people, when they begin and kill one, they cannot leave."
INDC: What do you mean, they can't stop killing?
The interpreter explains: "It's like when you join a gang in the states. Once you do something, that's it, you cannot leave."
It looks like there might be a reasonable explanation for the USS Newport News colliding with the Japanese tanker after all. This article says that Navy is thinking that the sub was drawn up into the tanker by the "venturi effect" as the tanker overtook and passed over the sub. The explanation passed the smell test as far as I'm concerned -- I discuss it a little more over at my home submarine blog.
Warning, some profanity in this one. I have also posted this at my own place...
Recently I received notification of a coment being made on one of my posts. Imagine my surprise when I opened it up and saw this:
DEAD FOR USA AND THE SHIT GODLESS US SOLDIERS !!!
ONE DAY WE FLY IN YOUR SHIT BUILDINGS AGAIN !!!!
REMEMBER 11 SEPT: THAT WAS A GREAT DAY !!!
OVER 3000 DEAD AMERICANS !!! HOW NICE !!!
AMERICAN SOLDIERS ARE KILLERS AND RAPIEST`S OF LITTLE KIDS AND WOMEN !!!!OHH WHAT FOR HEROES !!!!!
DIE MOTHERFUCKERS !!!!
AMERICANS ARE THE REALLY NAZIS !!!!!
AMERICANS ARE THE REALLY GREAT ASSHOLES FROM THIS WORLD !!!
THEY DON`T FIGHT FOR FREEDOM ONLY FOR OIL AND CONTROL !!!!!!
USA IS A SHAME !!!!!!
It came from "iris" at firstname.lastname@example.org
So, how to respond? I decided to try a bit of sarcasm and a bit of humor. I replied:
You should probably brush up on your English before trying to post commentary...
The response was fairly predictable:
"I don´t want to speak the shit English Language right !!!!Go and rape the little girls !!!!!Killer !!!!!we bomb you dead in Iraq!!!!my friends killed six US Soldiers in Iraq !!!And they are going on to kill soon more US Soldiers in Iraq!!!I am so proud !!!!!
Seeing that I had elicited the desired effect, I kept it up...
If your desire is to not speak English well, consider yourself successful.
All I got back was:
"My Friends from the Islamist group get you and then they kill you !!!! Fucking dirty american !!!!"
A little looking around found that I am not the only blogger she has been trolling. Oh well, not exactly the height of discuss and debate. Before this, I had only attracted a few UFO and conspiracy enthusiasts, and in politics the cranks were US based (and both Righty and Lefty). Whee.
The top U.S. military commander in South Korea said Friday that he would "fight" any move to delay the much-awaited relocation of U.S. forces to a base south of Seoul.
"I am opposed to any decision to stretch this out for any reasons, whether it’s political or it’s fiscal… or whatever it is," Gen. B.B. Bell, commander of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) told a news conference at his office at the Yongsan Garrison in Seoul.
He stressed that the expansion of Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, 70 km south of Seoul, should be completed by 2008 as scheduled.
The commander was responding to media reports that the South Korean government has decided to postpone the relocation move until as late as 2013 due to a backlash by residents and financial constraints.
Expanding on Chap's post below, here's the Fifth Fleet press release. Apparently, the Newport News was submerged when she hit the supertanker; those things can draw 100 feet at the keel, so it's possible the U.S. sub wasn't even at PD, but rather was cruising at depth. I have some more info over at my home submarine blog.
Sounds like nobody hurt, but a submarine and merchant collide in the Arabian Gulf, according to this news report.
Update: As usual, the Sub Report has better info, naming the boat (USS Newport News) and giving details..
Since I won't be at the White House on Wednesday or at Fort Benning on Thursday...
Dear Mr. President: Common sense and reason tell me that just sending more soldiers and Marines without some fundamental change in the approach would be a mistake. If you are planning to send more troops, I hope you can make a clear and convincing argument… but be prepared if it’s just more of the same as I will be the first one to stand and tell you if I think you’re full of.. it.
There's also a plea to Americans about supporting the troops... all at Some Soldier's Mom
A look at CJTF-HOA here. Excerpt:
The lead actor in this case has been Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, or CJTF-HOA. Headquartered at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti--a sweltering speck of a country wedged at the intersection of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and the Gulf of Aden--the U.S. military presence does not look like much: a rough and tumble collection of air-conditioned tents, prefab trailers, and plywood shacks, perched between the scruffy Djiboutian capital and a volcanic desert. A French colony until 1977, Djibouti remains home to Paris's largest overseas military contingent. Foreign Legionnaires jog on the perimeter of the U.S. compound, while Mirage fighter jets fly overhead. (U.S. troops note their neighbors have a special fondness for buzzing low over Camp Lemonier early on Sunday mornings.)
At the White House on Thursday, President Bush will present Cpl. Dunham's parents with the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for military valor, the first such award for a Marine since Vietnam. The ceremony will enshrine Jason Dunham for posterity as one who loved his brothers more than himself.
How Do You Repay A Hero's Sacrifice?All done!
Three years ago, a fellow Marine gave his life to save Kelly Miller. It has been a hard road since; Two mothers join forces.
By Michael M. Phillips
EUREKA, Calif. -- Kelly Miller has the dream once or twice a week.
He's on patrol in Iraq, searching a white Toyota Land Cruiser. The driver lunges out and grabs Cpl. Miller's squad leader, Jason Dunham, around the neck. The Iraqi and Cpl. Dunham tumble to the ground in a ferocious hand-to-hand struggle. Cpl. Miller beats the insurgent with a police baton. Another Marine races over to help. The Iraqi drops a hand grenade.
The force of the explosion lifts Cpl. Dunham into the air, his back arching before he falls back toward the brown-dirt road.
Cpl. Miller wakes up.
Almost three years have passed since that grenade exploded for real. But the images are never far from his mind -- the insurgent, the explosion and the friend who intentionally took the brunt of a live grenade and gave his own life to save Cpl. Miller's. The adrenalin of combat, the pain of hot shrapnel, the guilt of making it home alive.
At the White House on Thursday, President Bush will present Cpl. Dunham's parents with the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for military valor, the first such award for a Marine since Vietnam. The ceremony will enshrine Jason Dunham for posterity as one who loved his brothers more than himself.
In the audience will sit Cpl. Miller, a 23-year-old still struggling with what it means to receive that much love.
When American forces rolled into Baghdad in April 2003, Kelly Miller was living with his parents in Eureka in their modest shingled home, within sight of the smoky columns rising from the local paper mill. His mom, Linda, was an energetic doctor's-office manager with practical short hair. His dad, Charlie, was a quiet man who delivered mail for 31 years, then retired to care for his grandchildren.
Kelly Miller, sandy-brown-haired and six-foot-one, spent his days with friends, fishing for crabs and racing his car by the beach. On weekends he managed the night crew at the local supermarket.
But the news from Iraq made him wonder about his own courage. How would he perform in combat? One morning after his shift ended, he walked into the Marine recruiter's office at the strip mall and enlisted in the infantry.
So just after noon on April 14, 2004, he found himself a grunt in the Fourth Platoon of Kilo Co., Third Battalion, Seventh Marines -- and Cpl. Dunham's point man on a patrol through a trash-strewn Iraqi neighborhood near Karabilah, on the Syrian border.
HE WAS STILL what the Marines called a boot, a private first class fresh out of boot camp. Many senior enlisted men made life miserable for the boots. But Cpl. Dunham was different. When the boots had to fill sand bags in the hot sun, Cpl. Dunham filled sand bags beside them. Cpl. Miller and other boots loved him for it.
The insurgents had already gotten the jump on the patrol that day, firing a rocket-propelled grenade at the squad's Humvees. The grenade had missed its mark, and Cpl. Dunham's men climbed out of the vehicles to hunt down the shooter.
As point man, it was Cpl. Miller's job to spot roadside bombs and ambushes before it was too late. The responsibility weighed on him as he moved carefully past stone walls and silent, half-built homes. He worried that any mistake would get his friends killed.
The patrol stopped to search a line of vehicles that seemed to be fleeing. Cpl. Miller and Cpl. Dunham approached the white Land Cruiser, where Cpl. Miller saw a rifle poking out from under the rear floor mat. He looked up just in time to see the driver attack Cpl. Dunham.
The insurgent's hand grenade sprayed Cpl. Miller and Cpl. Bill Hampton, the other Marine who rushed to Cpl. Dunham's aid, with jagged pieces of metal. Cpl. Miller heard a ringing in his head, the echoes of a burst ear drum. His face flushed hot, and his mouth tasted of blood. A red stream dripped off his left hand, and he was confused to find that he couldn't pick up his rifle. Pieces of shrapnel burned in his face and arms.
"My mom is going to be … pissed," he told another Marine as he wandered away from the scene, according to both men.
Despite the shrapnel that peppered Cpl. Hampton, he, too, was able to stagger away. But Cpl. Dunham lay still, a fragment embedded deep in his brain. He would die eight days later at a Naval hospital in Bethesda, Md., with his parents at his bedside.
Cpl. Dunham's commanders soon figured out that he had placed his helmet over the grenade to protect his friends, an act of bravery described in a front-page story in The Wall Street Journal on May 25, 2004.
The Marines sent Cpl. Miller to recuperate in Eureka, where he became withdrawn and quick to anger. He couldn't get it out of his head that, as point man, he was supposed to protect the Marines behind him. He was the first one to get to Cpl. Dunham's side, but instead of saving Jason, Jason saved him.
He had a tattoo artist ink a helmet-and-rifle memorial honoring Cpl. Dunham on his right arm with the words: Remember the Fallen 4-14-04. When he was well enough to play softball, Cpl. Miller taped his wrist to give him strength to swing the bat and wrote "Cpl. J.D. USMC" on the wrap.
"Mom, goddammit," he told Mrs. Miller after a couple of beers one night, "I should have done more to save Jason."
Mrs. Miller, now 59, became long-distance friends with Cpl. Dunham's mom, Deb, a 46-year-old with shoulder-length red hair. Mrs. Dunham taught home economics at the only school in tiny Scio, N.Y., patiently coaching students in such survival skills as child-care and bachelors' cooking. At home she baked pies, made fudge and did battle with three dogs.
When she first dated Dan Dunham, a farmhand, the locals thought them an unlikely pair. She was a self-described good girl; he took pride in being a hard-drinking bad boy who gave the local police headaches. He had already been married once and was raising two young boys, Jason and Justin, on his own on $600 a month. She fell in love as much with the boys as she did with Dan, and ever after raised them as her own. The Dunhams had two more children together. For years, Mrs. Dunham couldn't rest until she knew all four children were safe in their beds.
Mrs. Dunham wasn't surprised that Jason had given his own life for his friends; she would have been surprised if he had done anything else under the circumstances. In a letter to Cpl. Hampton's mother, Mrs. Dunham wrote: "When you next get a chance to hug your son please give him one from me. He does not need to know it is from me, but I would appreciate if you would do that for me."
Far from begrudging Cpls. Miller and Hampton their survival, Mrs. Dunham felt that their lives added meaning to her own son's death. Soon Deb Dunham and Linda Miller began referring to Cpl. Miller as "our son."
"We believe that Kelly and William are both very special," Mrs. Dunham wrote to Mrs. Miller. "I do not know what is in their futures but I (we) firmly believe that Jason did what he had to do and they have some important purpose here and he has his to do in Heaven."
But for months Cpl. Miller couldn't get himself to talk to Jason's parents. When they finally met at the Marines' desert base in Twentynine Palms, Calif., Cpl. Miller spoke with them for 15 awkward minutes, unsure whether to thank them or apologize.
AS HE REGAINED STRENGTH and sensation in his arms, Cpl. Miller returned to Twentynine Palms obsessed with trying to rejoin his old platoon mates before they shipped out for their next tour of Iraq in the second half of 2005. It troubled him that his friends had finished their full seven months in the combat zone, while he had not.
Cpl. Miller's commander allowed him to resume light duty as Kilo Co.'s clerk, but even in Iraq that would be a rear-echelon job without the camaraderie of the front lines. So several times a day Cpl. Miller pestered the captain to allow him to rejoin Fourth Platoon as a rifleman, doing five quick pull-ups outside the office for emphasis.
The captain would allow Cpl. Miller back into a rifle platoon only with permission from his surgeon, his physical therapist, the battalion medical officer and his mother. Cpl. Miller collected the letters, including one from a very reluctant Mrs. Miller.
In March 2005, the captain cleared him to rejoin Fourth Platoon, and Cpl. Miller traveled home to Eureka to break the news. Mrs. Miller was in her room, folding clothes on the bed, when he told her that he would soon return to Iraq.
"Why do you feel you need to go back?" she asked him. "You don't have to."
"I have to finish something I started the first time," Cpl. Miller told her. He left the room, returning a few minutes later. "I have to go and finish what Dunham started, and bring my guys home," he said.
SOON ENOUGH, Cpl. Miller found himself in Ramadi, the most hostile city in the Sunni Triangle, for what proved to be months of grueling cat-and-mouse games with the insurgents. The Marines of Kilo Co. hid in abandoned buildings to ambush bomb makers. They manned an isolated, bomb-gutted outpost that was a frequent target for mortar and rocket attacks. They watched as Iraqis in civilian clothes casually dropped explosives on the main road through the city.
On three occasions Cpl. Miller called home from Iraq to report that he had been hurt. Once he injured his ankle playing basketball on base. Another time he stepped into a hole while on patrol. And another, his Humvee was destroyed by a roadside bomb. Each time he called, Mrs. Miller would report back to Mrs. Dunham, and they would fret together.
After he returned from Ramadi, Cpl. Miller decided he had had enough of the Marine Corps, and on his Web page he put a clock that counted down to the end of his enlistment in June, 2007. When the clock hit zero, he hoped to join his older brother as a sheriff's deputy back home in Eureka. He liked the idea of uniformed service, but without the long overseas deployments that made it hard to raise a family as a Marine.
Over the years, Cpl. Miller grew more comfortable around the Dunhams, and made a habit of calling Mrs. Dunham on holidays, such as Christmas and Mother's Day, when he knew that Jason would have called. They'd chat about his dating life and the doings of the Dunham family. He had long talks with Jason's younger brother and sister. Mrs. Dunham noticed the brotherly, teasing tone of their conversations, as if Kelly were trying to fill the gap left by Jason. He talked to Kyle, then 15, about the pros and cons of enlisting in the Marines, reminding him that going to college first would give him more options in life. Enlisting meant a four-year contract.
One night last summer, Mrs. Dunham hit a low spot, home alone and desperate to talk to Jason. In tears she phoned Cpl. Miller. He had friends over, but kept her talking until she was laughing again.
On his Web page, Cpl. Miller wrote, "Who I'd like to meet: The most Honorable Man I have ever had the privilege of meeting: Cpl. Jason Dunham. To have a chance to talk to him one more time would be priceless."
At the same time, Mrs. Miller felt that her son's personality had darkened. Her Kelly had been such a happy-go-lucky kid; now he seemed at ease only with other Marines or with two Eureka friends who served in the Army. His voice-mail message was a droning monotone: "You've reached Kelly. Whatever."
On his Web page, he posted a photo of himself in Ramadi, aiming a rifle at the photographer. He described his Nissan sports car and wrote: "I love to pitch it sideways or scream through a windy mountain pass."
One weekend last September, Cpl. Miller left base and drove to Eureka to see his girlfriend, Kellyn Griffin, a 21-year-old junior at Humboldt State University. On Saturday night, they went to the apartment of one of his Army buddies to play a movie-trivia game. Ms. Griffin drank rum and Cokes. Cpl. Miller drank Maker's Mark bourbon. They left just after midnight.
Cpl. Miller made it about a mile before he lost control of the Nissan and flipped it over at a "high rate of speed," according to the police report. The car took to the air, sheared off a wooden utility pole 20 feet above the street and came to a rest on the driver's side, crunched up like a paper napkin after a dinner party.
Ms. Griffin was found in a pool of blood fifty feet away from the Nissan, with a broken arm, a lacerated liver and a concussion that dulled her thinking for days.
Police found Cpl. Miller walking in circles in a nearby parking lot. When a state trooper interviewed him, the corporal volunteered that he "(messed) up and am screwed for drunk driving" and said he had to take responsibility for his mistake, according to the police report. The officer arrested him at 2 a.m. after a test that police say revealed a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit.
The crash broke Cpl. Miller's nose, a front tooth and his left shoulder blade and socket. At the hospital, Cpl. Miller was frantic for news of Ms. Griffin. Blood still covering his face, he found her hospital bed, felt his head spin and stumbled out of the room.
Cpl. Miller was released a few hours later. That night Mrs. Miller called Cpl. Dunham's mom. "Well, our boy did it," Mrs. Miller said.
A few days later, Mrs. Dunham called back and laid into Cpl. Miller. "You need to stop, Kelly," she recalls saying. "You need to learn to like yourself because Jason gave you a gift. Your mom and I can't lose anybody else."
"I know," he said. "I'm sorry."
"Whether you do something spectacular or not, you still haven't completed your purpose in this life," she continued. "Whether it's you or your child or your great-great-grandchild who does something phenomenal, you have a purpose here, and your destiny isn't done yet."
Cpl. Miller was on heavy painkillers at the time and soon forgot the details of the conversation. But later he remembered how angry Jason's mother had been, and how ashamed he had felt.
The police charged Cpl. Miller with two drunk-driving felonies that carry a maximum combined penalty of six years in prison. A felony conviction would kill any chance of joining the sheriff's department.
Shortly after doctors removed the staples closing the wound on her back, Ms. Griffin and Cpl. Miller lay in bed in his childhood room. "I feel really bad, because in essence someone gave his life for me, and then I turned around and instead of making use of it, I quite possibly put it to waste," he told her.
Near the bed was a photo of Cpl. Miller in his dress blues and Purple Heart medal, a reminder of Cpl. Dunham's sacrifice. "I have to do good by more people and live up to the potential of both of us," Cpl. Miller told her.
THE CORPORAL'S FELLOW GRUNTS have rallied to his side. When Maj. Trent Gibson, commander of Kilo Co. when Cpl. Dunham was killed, heard about the car accident, he felt he had let Cpl. Miller down. Even though the major had changed jobs in the Marine Corps, he knew that Kelly had been having nightmares about the grenade attack. He knew Kelly had been getting reckless.
He wished he had said something earlier. Now, he emailed his men:
For those of you who haven't heard, Cpl Miller had another near-death experience this last Sunday. He's goddamned lucky. Let's all give him a phone call...or shoot him an email...and let him know that we care about him and that he's got to keep his head on straight if he's going to make good on the gift that Cpl Dunham gave him....
Marines who had served under Cpl. Miller in Ramadi sent letters and emails to the judge who would hear his case. "This Marine has only to begin his life," wrote LCpl.Robert B. Bullard. "To rob him of what he has done for me, my platoon, and country would not only be morally incorrect but a criminal act against a mistake."
Mrs. Dunham wrote a lengthy letter telling the judge how Cpl. Miller had rushed to her son's side that day in Iraq. She described how he had since stepped in as a surrogate brother to her youngest children.
She also described how Kelly "has been chasing his personal demons" since Jason sacrificed himself. "I wish you would consider that Kelly is an honorable young man who volunteered to serve and protect those weaker than himself," she wrote.
On Nov. 10, at the opening of the Marine Corps museum in Quantico, Va., President Bush announced his decision to award Cpl. Dunham the Medal of Honor. Leaving the ceremony, Mrs. Dunham talked about the legacy of her son's death. "I'm worried about Kelly," she said. "It's a gift. Strings aren't attached to it. Guilt shouldn't be attached to it. They should just do the best they can with their lives."
The Dunhams have invited dozens of Kilo Co. Marines to Thursday's Medal of Honor presentation in the East Room of the White House. The award, they say, isn't just for their son; it's for all of the young men who served beside him.
Two weeks later, Cpl. Miller is due back in court . His lawyer is trying to persuade the judge and prosecutor to reduce the felony charges to misdemeanors, which would probably allow the corporal to avoid prison. If they agree, and he keeps his record clean for a few years, he could still apply to be a sheriff's deputy.
On his Web page Cpl. Miller writes: "I can't wait for the time to come for a new chapter in my life."
PARIS, Jan. 5 — In a scathing attack of the American-led war in Iraq, President Jacques Chirac said Friday that his predictions that the war would spread chaos and more terrorism had come true.
“As France had foreseen and feared, the war in Iraq has sparked upheavals that have yet to show their full effects,” Mr. Chirac said in his New Year’s address at Élysée Palace to the foreign diplomatic corps.
“This adventure has worsened the divisions among communities and threatened the very integrity of Iraq,” he said. “It has undermined the stability of the entire region, where every country now fears for its security and its independence. It has offered terrorism a new field for expansion.”
...goes to Cuba:
Sheehan arrived in Havana on Saturday with a dozen other peace activists and plans to attend a human rights conference in the eastern Cuban city of Guantanamo on Wednesday. On Thursday, the group is to hold a protest outside the U.S. Navy's Guantanamo base, where nearly 400 men are being held on suspicion of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban.But this might cause some embarassment to the visitors and their hosts:
Wives and mothers of Cuban political prisoners urged U.S. peace activist Cindy Sheehan on Monday to visit the island's state-run jails during her weeklong trip to Cuba to call for the closure of the U.S.-operated Guantanamo prison.Maybe she can determine whether Castro is dead or alive, too. All done!
The Ladies in White, a group of women demanding the release of their loved ones, described what they called "inhumane" conditions at Cuba's prisons in a letter for Sheehan that was sent to international reporters. The group said it was trying to get a copy to Sheehan as well.
"At the same time you and your noble followers fight for the closure of the U.S. prison at the Guantanamo naval base ... just a few miles away at the provincial Guantanamo prison in Cuban territory, peaceful and defenseless political prisoners suffer inhumane conditions, (living) without potable water and with poor nutrition, deficient medical assistance, insects and rodents, limited visits and precarious communication," the letter said.
A U.S. Air Force gunship has conducted a strike against suspected members of al Qaeda in Somalia, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports exclusively.
The targets included the senior al Qaeda leader in East Africa and an al Qaeda operative wanted for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in Africa, Martin reports. Those terror attacks killed more than 200 people.
The AC-130 gunship is capable of firing thousands of rounds per second, and sources say a lot of bodies were seen on the ground after the strike, but there is as yet, no confirmation of the identities.
Kerry was at that table to conduct an off-the-record breakfast discussion with two reporters, so there would have been no reason whatsover for troops to be sitting with them. In fact, Kerry and the reporters even sought out empty seats, I'm told.If you ever sit down to breakfast with Marc Santora and Mark Danner you'll want to make damn sure there aren't any troops nearby to overhear your conversation.
Wonder what they talked about, while eating that free Haliburton food?
In the first seven days of 2007, the number of bodies found dead in Baghdad streets as reported by Reuters has ended in the number 7 four times. Twice 47 bodies being found in Bagdad has been reported by Reuters in the first seven days of 2007.
An interesting story about propaganda-gone-bad.
An Iraqi insurgent propaganda video, containing what is described as a Christmas message from a U.S. soldier taped just before he was killed, appeared on dozens of Web sites and on the al Jazeera network.
But a lot about the video does not add up, including the fact that ABC News found the supposedly dead soldier is "alive and well" and present for duty, according to a U.S. Army spokesman at Fort Campbell, Ky.
"There are a whole bunch of lies on that tape," said Lt. Col. Ed Loomis at Fort Campbell. "It is nothing but a total fabrication."
Check out the comment section.
...is a good thing.
I saw Ellicia for the first time today. First time since she'd died and they'd wheeled her away.
Was nervous. But, went right up to her...
She was covered in a sheet (up to her neck) because they didn't have clothes yet. The clothes I'd brought, even though she'd recently worn them, didn't fit anymore. I'd gone shopping for her, and selected a few outfits. (As an aside, Ellicia and I enjoyed doing clothes shopping, but men, I have to tell you... if you think clothes shopping is difficult, it's really hard when she can't try them on. Takes a lot of imagination.)
I think it's a beautiful outfit, and she'll look lovely in it.
Breaking story on truck with some unlisted (and lied about) passengers.
Port security was, in this instance, on the ball.
Curious indeed. Persons of interest identified as U.S. citizens of Iraq and Lebanese descent.
Press conference coming.
Update: Sounds a little like something from the Vince Flynn book Memorial Day.
Update2: 1730 EST- The press conference clears up a great deal of misinformation from initial reports- the cargo of the truck does match the manifest and there were no mysterious "55 gallon drums" as reported by the Miami Herald. On the other hand, the explanation of finding a couple of additional people in the truck as a "miscommunication" seems a little weak.
Maybe it was all innocent fun, but it could have also been a probe of the security at the port on a Sunday in January. From what I have seen and heard, Miami Port security passed the test...
US casualties in Iraq actually were lower in 2006 than in 2005.
Here's how the Boston Globe chose to ignore that story:
N.E. Toll In Iraq Nearly Doubles
Most of 40 killed in '06 were men under age 25
The number of New Englanders killed in combat in Iraq nearly doubled last year to 40, mostly men under age 25 cut down by increasingly lethal hidden roadside bombs, according to a Globe analysis.
Military analysts said the numbers underscore a troubling aspect of the war: Insurgents have been able to outwit American forces by improving roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices, resulting in a steady stream of deaths among the young soldiers and Marines typically assigned to daily patrols.
In New Hampshire, 2006 was particularly difficult for military families. The number of Iraq deaths jumped from two in 2005 to eight, and five of last year's dead were younger than 25, leaving a trail of unfulfilled aspirations.
Following PM Maliki's promise to increase efforts to crack down on sectarian violence in Baghdad, Iraqi troops "fought with gunmen in an area where several residents had been killed and their bodies hanged from street lampposts", the New York Times reports.
A spokesman for the Defense Ministry, Muhammad al-Askari, said that an Iraqi Army unit had gone into the area after receiving reports that Sunni fighters had set up a fake security checkpoint and were taking Shiites aside and shooting them.So, does this headline accuratetly fit the story? "30 Dead in Baghdad Clash; Bodies Hanged on Lampposts"
The bodies of many of those killed at the roadblock were then hanged from the lampposts, Mr. Askari said.
He said that Iraqi soldiers had moved in and surrounded the fighters at the checkpoint. In initial fighting there, 30 of the men were killed and several more were arrested, Mr. Askari said, adding that the neighborhood remained locked down.
Hassan al-Suneid, a key aide and member of Mr. al-Maliki's Dawa Party, said the Iraqi leader had committed 20,000 soldiers to the operation and would call upon American troops and air power only when needed.
Prime Minister Tony Blair believes that the way in which former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was executed was "completely wrong", his official spokesman at Downing Street has said.
The start of the new Congress brings us opportunities to work together on the critical issues confronting our country. No issue is more important than finding an end to the war in Iraq. December was the deadliest month of the war in over two years, pushing U.S. fatality figures over the 3,000 mark.
Our troops and the American people have already sacrificed a great deal for the future of Iraq. After nearly four years of combat, tens of thousands of U.S. casualties, and over $300 billion dollars, it is time to bring the war to a close.
Ships at sea reporting on the weather.
And geting sunk by U-boats.
Being the only U.S. surface ships to capture an enemy surface vessel during WWII...
Boring holes in the ocean...
And performing a rescue at sea that "must rank with the Coast Guard's outstanding rescue feats."
Not as if it matters, but just to tweak people...
Navy Times says the proposed 2008 raise will be 3.5%. The proposal doesn't tend to go up over the year; it tends to go down...
R's come in spending big on military and get smaller over time. D's tend to come in spending small on military and get bigger over time. We've had an R for a while...
-- -- --
...it's flat out the most disgusting administrative snafu I've ever heard of:
The Army said it will apologize to the families of about 275 officers killed or wounded in action who were mistakenly sent letters urging them to return to active duty.
The letters were sent a few days after Christmas to more than 5,100 Army officers who had recently left the service. Included were letters to about 75 officers killed and about 200 wounded.
I find most talk from Washington these days disturbing - I'm not a supporter of surge or retreat. But perhaps that talk is designed to disturb someone else:
Iraqi PM Announces New Security Plan for Baghdad
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has announced a new security plan for Baghdad aimed at curbing the raging insurgent and sectarian violence that is plaguing the capital.
In a speech marking the anniversary of the Iraqi army Saturday, Mr. Maliki said Iraqi forces will begin cracking down on militants in Baghdad, regardless of their sectarian or political affiliation.
"The Baghdad security plan will not offer a safe shelter for outlaws regardless of their ethnic and political affiliations, and we will punish anyone who hesitates to implement orders because of his ethnic and political background," al-Maliki said in a speech at the 85th anniversary celebration of the Iraqi army.All done!
On Saturday he asked Baghdad residents for patience during the operation.
"We are full aware that implementing the plan will lead to some harassment to all of beloved Baghdad's residents, but we are confident that they fully understand the brutal terrorist attacks Iraq faces," al-Maliki said.
The capital city has been plagued by mostly sectarian violence in recent months, and Washington intends to release a long-awaited new strategy next week to quell the violence by Sunni insurgents and Shiite death squads.
U.S. President George Bush spoke with al-Maliki for two hours on Thursday, possibly in an effort to hammer-out the details of the strategy.
This speech from April 2006 (Tory defence spokesman Liam Fox) indicates the depth of the rot. And it's not really only "due to Iraq costs", it's more a case of the bills coming due. Here's a teaser:
This year we will spend only 2.2% of our GDP on defence. This is the smallest proportion of our national wealth that we have spent on defending our country since 1930. By the time we finish the new Wembley Stadium, we will be able to seat the ranks of the whole of the British army inside it. The Royal Navy will be smaller than the French navy. And the RAF Museum at Hendon will have more attack aircraft than the RAF does now…
Figures from Defence Analytical Services Agency show 14,460 personnel left the Army in 2006.
Tory MP and former Army officer, Patrick Mercer, told the Sun newspaper: "This is the greatest emergency facing the Army for many years, yet the government continues to talk about recruitment as if it is improving."
He added: "The facts are staggering. Battalions are reaching the point where they can hardly do their jobs in war - but they continue to be sent to the front.
"This can only put soldiers' lives in greater peril."
The Sun newspaper cited a leaked document revealing that infantry battalions were 2,788 men short - three times worse than in December 2004.
The revelations come a day after a senior officer criticised the standard of living accommodation for soldiers and their families.
Adjutant-general Lt Gen Freddie Viggers condemned cramped and decaying living quarters in barracks, saying soldiers and their families deserved better.
There are a couple of articles in the Telegraph this week that seem almost implausible, but I couldn't find anyone disputing them. The first says that the British Government is planning on drastically reducing the number of operational ships in the RN by "moth-balling" several frigates and destroyers; now, they're claiming that the Royal Navy will be putting a five year freeze on officer promotions for LCDRs and above. (Articles from the Daily Mail here and here seem to support these claims.) Is this the end of the Royal Navy as an effective force? And should we celebrate this as our final victory over the embarrassers of USS Chesapeake, or wonder why even our closest allies are expecting us to pick up more and more of the worldwide missions in the middle of a war?
Via Tim Blair, who notes
Wood is obviously a very forgiving man; his piece appears in the Age, the same paper that previously condemned him as insensitive, a graceless, undignified, blustering buffoon, and unreliable.
Looks like Steve and I want to suck up all your spare time this Saturday!
Good ideas are all over the place. In case you missed it, yesterday Frederick W. Kagan and General Jack Keane (USA, ret.) presented their plan at a conf. hosted at the AEI. Also speaking were Senators McCain and Lieberman. They have produced a compact Executive Summary and 50-page OPLAN, but you can also listen or watch the whole conf. All the appropriate links over at my place. A quick snip of the opening of the ES, with the rest of the ES after the jump.
Victory is still an option in Iraq. America, a country of 300 million people with a GDP of $12 trillion and more than 1 million soldiers and Marines, has the resources to stabilize Iraq, a state the size of California with a population of 25 million and a GDP under $100 billion. America must use its resources skillfully and decisively to help build a successful democratically elected, sovereign government in Iraq.The whole thing is worth your time.
Victory in Iraq is vital to America’s security. Defeat will likely lead to regional conflict, humanitarian catastrophe, and increased global terrorism.
Iraq has reached a critical point. The strategy of relying on a political process to eliminate the insurgency has failed. Rising sectarian violence threatens to break America’s will to fight. This violence will destroy the Iraqi government, armed forces, and people if it is not rapidly controlled.
Victory in Iraq is still possible at an acceptable level of effort. We must adopt a new approach to the war and implement it quickly and decisively.
We must act now to restore security and stability to Baghdad. We and the enemy have identified it as the decisive point.
There is a way to do this.
* We must balance our focus on training Iraqi soldiers with a determined effort to secure the Iraqi population and contain the rising violence. Securing the population has never been the primary mission of the U.S. military effort in Iraq, and now it must become the first priority.
* We must send more American combat forces into Iraq and especially into Baghdad to support this operation. A surge of seven Army brigades and Marine regiments to support clear-and-hold operations that begin in the spring of 2007 is necessary, possible, and will be sufficient to improve security and set conditions for economic development, political development, reconciliation, and the development of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to provide permanent security.
* American forces, partnered with Iraqi units, will clear high-violence Sunni and mixed Sunni-Shia neighborhoods, primarily on the west side of the city.
* After those neighborhoods are cleared, U.S. soldiers and Marines, again partnered with Iraqis, will remain behind to maintain security, reconstitute police forces, and integrate police and Iraqi Army efforts to maintain the population’s security.
* As security is established, reconstruction aid will help to reestablish normal life, bolster employment, and, working through Iraqi officials, strengthen Iraqi local government.
* Securing the population strengthens the ability of Iraq’s central government to exercise its sovereign powers.
This approach requires a national commitment to victory in Iraq:
* The ground forces must accept longer tours for several years. National Guard units will have to accept increased deployments during this period.
* Equipment shortages must be overcome by transferring equipment from non-deploying active-duty, National Guard, and reserve units to those about to deploy. Military industry must be mobilized to provide replacement equipment sets urgently.
* The president must request a dramatic increase in reconstruction aid for Iraq. Responsibility and accountability for reconstruction must be assigned to established agencies. The president must insist upon the completion of reconstruction projects. The president should also request a dramatic increase in Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) funds.
* The president must request a substantial increase in ground forces end strength. This increase is vital to sustaining the morale of the combat forces by ensuring that relief is on the way. The president must issue a personal call for young Americans to volunteer to fight in the decisive conflict of this generation.
* The president and his representatives in Iraq must forge unity of effort with the Iraqi government.
Other courses of action have been proposed. All will fail.
* Withdraw immediately. This approach will lead to immediate defeat. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are entirely dependent upon American support to survive and function. If U.S. forces withdraw now, the Iraqi forces will collapse. Iraq will descend into total civil war that will rapidly spread throughout the Middle East.
* Engage Iraq’s neighbors. This approach will fail. The basic causes of violence and sources of manpower and resources for the warring sides come from within Iraq. Iraq’s neighbors are encouraging the violence, but they cannot stop it.
* Increase embedded trainers dramatically. This approach cannot succeed rapidly enough to prevent defeat. Removing U.S. forces from patrolling neighborhoods to embed them as trainers will lead to an immediate rise in violence. This rise in violence will destroy America’s remaining will to fight and escalate the cycle of sectarian violence in Iraq beyond anything an Iraqi army could bring under control.
Failure in Iraq today will require far greater sacrifices tomorrow in far more desperate circumstances.
Committing to victory now will demonstrate America’s strength to our friends and enemies around the world.
For consideration and review among peers, MilBloggers and readers may be interested in reading a Center for Threat Awareness report we have written and published at ThreatsWatch. It was clearly inspired by our dissatisfaction with the recommendations present within the Iraq Study Group Report. But we began crafting it only after our equal dissatisfaction in the lack of a comprehensive response with a comprehensive set of alternative recommendations guided by a desire to achieve victory rather than the ISG report's guiding principle of achieving 'success' through negotiation with Iraq's principle outside state instigators and without pressing al-Qaeda in Iraq to its own defeat. There was no shortage of criticism, many with an alternative or two, yet many also without recommendation beyond complaint. But there was seemingly no organized and broad alternative to the ISG's body of work when we began the process.
The introduction to the report can be found here: PrincipalAnalysis: Achieving Victory in Iraq
The Full Text Original Doc is here: Achieving Victory in Iraq
Rather than a withdrawal and handing over of the pursuit of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQAM) and the insurgency to the nascent Iraqi military, we call for a surge and a redefined mission of routing AQAM. Finding value in a regional initiative to support Iraq, we call for such but with the intent and open exclusion of Iran and Syria unless they reverse course, stop importing violence into Iraq and end their terrorist-supporting ways elsewhere. There is absolutely no value in smiling diplomats around a table fantasizing about how Iran and/or Syria are going to assist Iraq's security and stability until such time.
From early on, our first four recommendations (below) address this:
1. Building International Support The United States has the ability to bring a great deal of credibility and substantive incentives to nations not yet committed to Iraq's reconstruction and success. Along with Iraq, the United States should initiate an aggressive effort to find and nurture support from Iraq's neighbors - as well as key regional and international states and international organizations - with the resources available to influence the outcome in Iraq.
RECOMMENDATION 1: The United States and the Iraqi government should invite states to join the effort to resolve the crisis in Iraq as part of an International Select Iraq Support Initiative (ISISI). The initiative should under no circumstances be open to nations suspected or known to be overtly or covertly engaged in actions leading to instability in Iraq. Invitations should be contingent on the agreement of both the US and Iraq, as well as other states taking a leading role in the rebuilding of Iraq. Initial invitations should include: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Australia, and Poland – as well as unofficial representation from the UN, WTO, and the World Bank.
RECOMMENDATION 2: Each nation taking part in the International Select Iraq Support Initiative should be offered diplomatic, economic and/or defense support from the United States and other members. In return, each should offer their national resources to aid in debt relief, reconstruction, security force development, arming and training, and - most significantly - the development of organized professional public and judicial service capabilities necessary to a credible Iraqi government.
RECOMMENDATION 3: The United States should in every way encourage such nations to establish and commit to the defense of Iraq against external threats posed by the jihadiyun ideology, Iranian influence and instigation of sectarian violence and weapons proliferation, Syrian trafficking of weapons or persons participating in the insurgency and other foreign attempts to destabilize Iraq. This should include both incentives – economic and diplomatic – as well as disincentives for states not a party to the ISISI.
RECOMMENDATION 4: Under no circumstances should the ISISI - or any other group of nations expressly aligning to support Iraq - be open to all nations or to organizations not actively and substantially capable of fulfilling its obligations. The United Nations, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Arab League and other international bodies should be consulted and engaged where they can assist in resolving the individual interest of independent nations – such as Turkey's concerns relating to a strongly autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, or the greater issues relating to the jihadiyun threat to Islam and non-Muslim peoples.
This section goes on to detail precisely and directly what should be required of Iran and Syria. Also, among our 40 recommendations, you will find that, rather than recommend personal desires of seeing a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and manhandling it into a non-existent Iraq War context, we have chosen to redirect those efforts into a far more important and directly related endeavor in a section titled "Winning The War At Home."
It is not a quick read, nor do we promote it as perfect or bulletproof. We openly acknowledge and stay within the bounds and limitations of our own expertise, access and understanding. However, at the same time we do not feel unqualified to submit the input that we have assembled. We believe that good ideas are not limited to or requiring the traditionally accepted pedigree. To that end, we hope that - agree or disagree with specific conclusions or recommendations - this document can serve as an example of how the average American citizen can contribute constructively to our war efforts in this conflict.
For those MilBloggers and MilBlog readers inclined to consider the Achieving Victory in Iraq report, your review and feedback would be greatly appreciated.All done!
A senior official in the Somali government's new Ministry of the Interior told ABC News government forces had recovered "dozens of foreign passports," including several American passports, on the bodies of al Qaeda fighters killed in combat between forces affiliated with the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) and Ethiopian forces in Somalia.
According to the same source, most of the foreign passports were Sudanese, Pakistani and Yemeni, but several American, British and Australian passports were also recovered.
Meanwhile, the cave-hopper is sounding off again.
Ralph Peters on Petraeus.
"We have to get back to the FOB, I hear the News is up!"
Michael Ledeen, in the Corner, reminding us that persuading other countries isn't always binary "diplomats talking or soldiers invading".
Victor Hanson pushes back against some conventional wisdom. "Worn Out" means different things to different people...
'Hawk, I think your point is well taken...and more importantly, the timeline outlined in the links you put together is essential to understanding the "why" for our faltering in that part of the year. (I also learned something; I don't think I will ever look at SFTT the same way again, even though I didn't like it that much when Hack was alive.)
At the time of Abu Ghraib, press reports indicated President Bush's anger at being surprised by the press frenzy, even before the New York Times put the story on the front page for months on end. Recently Secretary Rumsfeld mentioned--at his last town hall meeting--that the worst day of his time as Secretary was when Abu Ghraib came out. I don't know what was going on at CENTCOM but I remember the monomania on the story (as indicated in your timeline) and that can't be good for focusing attention. This kind of turmoil rocks back a leadership team and makes it less effective--and thus the story's hyping, as an information fire, killed many people. (Although imagine the reaction of telling Mapes or Hersh of the blood on their hands!)
Bottom line: The leadership team needs to be hardened to this stuff. It needs to be able to fight through loud but small scale scandal. No scandals are best, yes, but be able to fight hurt in the information sphere or more will die.
The other thing that is worth mentioning is the small scale of the actual bad actions was irrelevant in terms of inflaming sentiment because there was one heck of a force multiplier with pictures and status as newsy entertainment. This is a good reminder of the statement that "any reason will do" to cause riots in Algeria, as one wag put it.
I'm definitely punching above my weight here, but that's my $.02...
-- -- --All done!
Check out the early comments at the link. There are some very, uhhh... interesting people getting their news from ABC.
We almost lost Fallujah because we pulled back. We had to have a Second Battle of Fallujah because our enemy almost got the benefit of our lack of will to be violent. About this time, we had Sadr in our posession and let him go. This weakness is damaging.I'm going into tangential discussion mode off that quote, Chap, because if I had a dollar for every time I've seen someone ask "Why didn't we get Sadr back when?" I would have a wallet too fat to sit on. You aren't asking that question - but you did remind me I've been meaning to respond.
There are several two word answers. The least arguable is "Abu Ghraib".
April 9, 2004, Iraq:
U.S. troops fanned out across Kut, southeast of Baghdad, after meeting little resistance in the city, witnesses said, in a major foray by the American military into the south, where U.S. allies have struggled to deal with the uprising by the al-Mahdi Army, led by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.That same day,
...the Article 32 hearing (in which evidence is presented, witnesses are called, and the decision to pursue court martial is made) in the case against Sergeant Frederick was convened.That same day
I [Mary Mapes] got about a dozen photos on Friday, April 9. In Dana's tiny office in New York, we sat grimly and looked at picture after picture. Dan [Rather] came rushing in from across the street and the three of us looked huddled around the desk, flipping through the photographs silently. Jeff Fager and Patti Hassler came to Dana's office to see the pictures and had the same reaction we did. They just stared.Those photos came from Frederick's uncle Bill
"The Army had the opportunity for this not to come out, not to be on 60 Minutes," he said. "But the Army decided to prosecute those six G.I.'s because they thought me and my family were a bunch of poor, dirt people who could not do anything about it. But unfortunately, that was not the case."Later:
The prison abuse story also pushed Sadr's rebellion to the back pages. MajGen Dempsey had backed Sadr and his bruised militia into a corner in Najaf. Instead of arresting him, the Iraqi politicians agreed to let him go free. The reason they gave was that the Coalition could ill afford to make him a martyr at a time when the Arab press was showing the Abu Ghraib pictures as proof that Americans were the oppressors in Iraq. Sadr was allowed to leave Najaf and resume his plotting, with the warrant for his arrest abated.And oh by the way, the hasty decision to abandon the assault on Fallujah was made then, too. All done!
ABC News links, nothing official in my inbox but clearly someone's been talking:
Whole lotta Hussein stuff tonight, but as with most things, I always like to end my night with a game of "What about Watada?"
I love me some puff pieces. There's nothing quite so enjoyable as an article that doesn't even try to play it straight. Take this wonderful piece in WaPo about 1LT Ehren Watada's mother's trip to Capitol Hill on behalf of her shytebag son.
Carolyn Ho is a mother on a mission.
Good start, nice and neutral.
She was acting purely on instinct, wanting to do everything in a mother's power to protect her son. "I'm here to get what I can," said Ho, who is from Honolulu. Dark hair pulled back. Dark eyes that moisten when she speaks of her son. Soft voice. "I'm going to put it out there."
When someone makes to punch you and you flinch, that's acting on instinct on instinct. You don't travel 3000 miles across the country, flanked by "seasoned lobbyists," to engage in a concerted political effort.
On the Hill, Ho handed out information packets. She passed around photos of Watada, who is taller, fuller of face than his mother, but shares her smile.
Not only does he have them pearly whites that only the pure of soul and spirit possess, but Ehren Watada is also a certified sooper-genius:
Her son "based his decision on facts," she said. He studied the war in Iraq and decided it was illegal. He tried to resign and leave the service with dignity, but the Army wouldn't let him. He asked to be shipped to Afghanistan; his request was denied. He was offered a noncombat position in Iraq; he said no thanks.
Y'know, I've studied the facts and have decided that Carrot Top is the greatest actor of the past 30 years. We do get one obligatory paragraph on page 2 outlining the basics of the case against Watada:
Piek said, "He joined the Army and swore an oath, and that includes following the orders of the officers appointed over him. His unit was placed in a stop-loss category, which meant that everybody currently in that unit would deploy. You don't get to pick and choose, especially if you are a junior officer, which places you get to go to."
Pretty much covers it doesn't it? But wait, there's more!
To Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, the situation is more complicated. "The United States talks out of both sides of its mouth," he said. "We've prosecuted soldiers in other countries for following orders to commit war crimes. But God forbid you should use that refusal as a defense in this country."
I hate to break it to Seitz and other lefty donkeynuts, but the act of deployment is not a war crime.
Again and with feeling: The mere act of deploying, even in service of an "illegal" war, is not a war crime. The war might violate international law (it doesn't), but for the soldier, merely setting foot in country is not a war crime. What they order you to do while over there may constitute a war crime, ex: "put this baby on a spike!" (h/t Eddie Izzard), but other than that, just being there isn't a war crime. But Mama Watada nevertheless got kind of the cold shoulder:
...congressional staffers were polite and receptive. She came at an inopportune time, she was told several times. Congress had adjourned for the holidays and there was not much time before the court-martial.
Even Democrats are realizing that promoting mutiny within the armed forces might not be that wise a political move. And for those that want to taste their lunch again on the way up, there's this:
Though Watada's father did not serve in the military, several uncles were in World War II. One of his uncles was killed in Korea. Another relative was in Vietnam. "There is a history of service in our family," he said.
"Selective service," indeed.All done!
I really hate saying this: Don't say I didn't warn you.
By the way, this is not good:
Khalaf told the AP that an arrest warrant had been issued for the captain for having contacts with the media in violation of the ministry's regulations.Not good on free speech issues, and because it leads directly to this:
Hussein told the AP on Wednesday that he learned the arrest warrant would be issued when he returned to work on Thursday after the Eid al-Adha holiday. His phone was turned off Thursday and he could not be reached for further comment.
Hussein appears to have fallen afoul of a new Iraqi push, encouraged by some U.S. advisers, to more closely monitor the flow of information about the country's violence, and strictly enforce regulations that bar all but authorized spokesmen from talking to media.Let me be the first to send this message: FREE JAMIL.
Let me also assure you all the AP welcomed the Jamil Hussein focus - encouraged it, even. It masked the issue of false reports from Iraq. Were six people burned? Probably not. Were four Mosques burned? Demonstrably not. Did one of those Mosques contain 18 people who were killed in the fire (as the NY Times claimed)? No. Were 184 Mosques attacked last February? No again. Does any of this matter now? Nope. This huge victory (in a battle that shouldn't have been fought) in the information war has essentially given the AP a free pass to report anything without fear of question for months to come.
I'll also assure you this "humbling of bloggers" will be very well covered by the media in the weeks ahead. The AP set 'em up with their "he exists because we say so" responses, (in hindsight, this move was exceptionally well played, just before checkmate) and they'll just love knocking 'em dowm.
And most bloggers walked right into the punch.
Update: Nevermind, that's what they've all been saying all along, apparently. I prefer ArmyLawyer's response.
Now that the AP has located him, they might want to ask him why he can't effectively police the neighborhood he is assigned to without substantial US assistance. We've heard a lot of news from Jamil Hussein about how violent his neighborhood is, but we have heard nothing about what he intends to do PERSONALLY to stop the violence in his neighborhood.
Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who had previously denied there was any such police employee as Capt. Jamil Hussein, said in an interview that Hussein is an officer assigned to the Khadra police station, as had been reported by The Associated Press.Our resident Academy graduate-cum-troll Jadegold queried:
Khalaf offered no explanation Thursday for why the ministry had initially denied Hussein's existence, other than to state that its first search of records failed to turn up his full name. He also declined to say how long the ministry had known of its error and why it had made no attempt in the past six weeks to correct the public record.
"Will we see apologies from the keyboard kommandoes?"If true, then yup. I was wrong. The man exists.
Hat Tip: ArmyWifeToddlerMom.
The newest aircraft carrier now being designed at Northrop Grumman Newport News will bear the name of former President Gerald R. Ford.
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld let the news slip Wednesday during his eulogy at Ford’s memorial service in Grand Rapids, Mich., when he spoke of giving the former president a souvenir last year.
“Without giving away any secrets, I can report that during (a) visit with President Ford, I brought him a cap with ‘USS Gerald R. Ford’ emblazoned across the top of it,” Rumsfeld told the crowd. “How fitting it will be that the name Gerald R. Ford will patrol the high seas for decades to come in the defense of the nation he loved so much.”
Navy officials, who had kept the name of the newest flattop a closely guarded secret in recent months, were caught off guard and left scrambling by Rumsfeld’s sudden revelation. Later in the day, the Navy confirmed that the ship would indeed be named the USS Gerald R. Ford. The announcement had not been expected until Jan. 16.
Because the new carrier is a first-in-class ship, the Ford name will be associated with carriers for decades to come - even long after the ship is retired. Just as the nine ships following the USS Nimitz are known as “Nimitz-class” carriers, the new batch of what could be 10 ships will carry the “Ford-class” designation.
If this is true, then it appears the Devil is gaining company at a quick pace lately.
The effect on Iran's actions - I fear very little. But any opportunity for Iran to improve, by having a beast like Khamenei demise, is fine by me.
"Hey, am I dead or what?"
We’ve been at this so long now, and have spent so much in blood and treasure that it’s possible to forget how this all started and the resolve we first brought into the fight: Tired of taking hits, more tired still of trembling in anticipation of the next blow we decided to change the rules of the game: Put them off balance. Strike fear into their hearts. Drive them into caves. Seal up the entrances.
Flush ‘em out. Flush ‘em down.
...is going to Iraq.
We need to get some Lefty bloggers over there for balance. Any volunteers?
This began as a comment on a MilBlogs post, but the more I read about it the more I realized this (mostly unknown) story was more than worthy of it's own space.
The bottom line: We need a Long Telegram.
I'm thinking that Greyhawk's idea is useful. A format that might work would be something like den Beste's 2002 Essential Library, but focused on the needed resources.
A great resource of this type is the front page of the Small Wars Journal. Problem is that it's so full of information that the page will drown a newbie in links and reading.
What we need is a way to deaggregate ourselves to learn, teach and grow COIN experts more effectively than the hirabists pump out new converts to destruction. Grim got me to thinking about how the National Defense University once was an incubator for Cold War thinking--and it wasn't a military only organization by a long shot.
Apparently the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Defense have different rules. Personally, I'm shocked. Pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request, the FBI released the results of their internal inquiry into whether FBI employees had observed "aggressive mistreatment, interrogations or interview techniques of GTMO." While some of the incidents described probably warrant further investigation, it's important to keep some perspective:
A survey of 493 FBI personnel who were asked whether they observed aggressive mistreatment, interrogations or interview techniques of GTMO yielded 26 positive responses and several additional responses that were "not purely negative."
The most questionable incidents described include the use of a dog to intimidate detainees (a tactic since determined to be a no-no); two instances where detainees' heads or faces were wrapped in duct tape; and allegations (though no witnessing) by detainees of having been beaten.
While the report will certainly be grist for the mill for certain fundraising groups, the report lacks anything that calls into serious question existing DOD interrogation practices, let alone anything in the way of "torture." While many of the interview techniques are noted as being within DOD policies (loud music, sleep deprivation, cold room, etc), but outside FBI regulations; things like the duct tape incidents do not have that qualifier.
What's notable about the response from groups like the ACLU is the charge that the FBI "ignored" the allegations or otherwise "failed to followup." Yet people seem to miss the FBI's determination:
...that there was no FBI involvement in the target interview techniques -- only outside entities.
Accordingly, any investigation will be done by those "outside entities." Standard procedure when you have multiple agencies working together. Unless the ACLU cares to inform us all how the FBI intends to investigate the DOD?
But whatever, it's more fun to allege an FBI coverup.
Well done, Grim.
I think we need a permanent (hyperlinked) list of essential documents for understanding the war on terror somewhere in the right or left column here. I'd suggest The Management of Savagery be included in that list, perhaps under a "Know the Enemy" sub header.
I'm thinking texts that are available in their entirety online, free of charge (and hopefully free of political hyperbole).
Other recommendations are welcome.
I have composed the thoughts I had about Chap's recent article on global COIN. You can read them here.
Al Arabiya is reporting that a Kuwaiti businessman offered any amount in order to buy the rope that hanged Saddam Hussein. The businessman was told that he has to negotiate with the person who now owns the rope: Muqtada Sadr!
Over at my place, doesn't post often enough, but is pretty funny when he does.
Every now and then I stumble across this old chestnut.
Suitably updated, naturally, from Being All that It Could Be in the Army of One to being Army Strong.
"Sir! Why, Sir, did the chicken cross the road, Sir?!?"
USAAVNC: The purpose is to familiarize the chicken with the tasks, conditions and standards inherent in road-crossing. Road-crossing should be performed only between the hours of sunrise and sunset. Solo chickens must have at least three miles visibility and a safety observer. Special considerations: MOPP Level IV Not Authorized.
HQ, DA: Due to the needs of the Army, the chicken was involuntarily reassigned to the other side of the road. This will be 1-year unaccompanied tour and the chicken will have a stabilized 3-year tour upon its return. The chicken will not be eligible for re-deployment until at least three months after its return. Every chicken will be required to accomplish one road-crossing during its career, which will not affect its opportunities for future promotion.
TRADOC: This event will need confirmation by repeated iterations of road-crossing using various chicken breeds, road types and weather conditions in order to confirm whether it will consistently occur within the parameters specified for chickens and the remote possibility that they might be tasked with crossing Thruways/Interstate Highways. Commanders will insure that a Risk Assessment Worksheet is completed for each set of specified conditions.
USAREUR: The purpose is not important. What is important is that the chicken remained OPCON to SFOR and was not sliced to KFOR on the other side of the road. Without slicing, the chicken was able to achieve a seamless road-crossing with near-perfect, real-time, in-transit visibility.
USASC: The chicken was instructed to "Hold Short" of the road. This Road Incursion incident was reported in a Hazardous Chicken Road-Crossing Report (HCRCR). Commanders will re-emphasize that chickens are required to read back all Hold Short instructions.
CECOM: The legacy "stovepipe" chickens of today will be replaced with multi-functional, supportable, affordable, integrated and interoperable world-class Warrior and Supporting-Element Chickens (WSEC), enabling them to dominate the digital roads of today and tomorrow. However, previously-committed funding for legacy Comanche software development will require the Service to further slip initial fielding of the WSEC to the right by two-to-four years unless Congressional plus-ups are approved.
CENTCOM J-6 Chicken Systems Program Office (C2J6-CSPO): In a partnering relationship with the client, CSPO assisted the chicken in rethinking its physical distribution strategy and core-paradigm processes, thereby enabling the chicken to implement change in order to continue meeting its mission. However, the actual crossing of the road has not yet occurred due to the number of action items still open from the meeting.
SOCOM: Chicken? What chicken? You did *not* see a chicken, understand?
Acronymed out? See Flash Traffic...
Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »
USAAVNC -- US Army AViatioN Center, aka, The Schoolhouse, aka, Mother Rucker.
HQ, DA -- Headquarters, Department of the Army. The head head in the head shed. Key piece in the Puzzle Palace.
TRADOC -- TRaining And DOctrine Command. Or, sometimes TRAining and DOctrine Command. It doesn't matter, so long as you maintain internal consistency within the document.
USAREUR -- US ARmy, EURope. The only major command (MACOM) that will be able to fit in a squad dayroom once all the unit juggling is finished.
USASC -- US Army Safety Center. It used to be the US Army AViatioN Center/School and Aviation Safety Center, but one morning, the sign fell down and they had to whack it up to get it out of the boxwoods.
CECOM -- Communications and Electronics COMmand. They make some really neat prototypes that nobody knows how to activate -- or if it's even safe to do so.
CENTCOM -- CENTral COMmand. If I told you, I'd have to kill you. Or at least place you in the holding cell beneath the stage at Cap'n Jack's in Doha...
SOCOM -- Special Operations COMmand. Acronym? What acronym...?
Or an attempt to begin a "Bush blames the military" narrative? The NY Times:
Over the past 12 months, as optimism collided with reality, Mr. Bush increasingly found himself uneasy with General Casey’s strategy. And now, as the image of Saddam Hussein at the gallows recedes, Mr. Bush seems all but certain not only to reverse the strategy that General Casey championed, but also to accelerate the general’s departure from Iraq, according to senior military officials.(Via The Corner).
The shifting of blame has been predicted, and whether or not it occurs it shouldn't surprise anyone if the media declares it has. A new version of the " Shinseki myth" may be in the making, as Iraq tours don't last forever.
For the record, the strategy is a good one:
The original plan, championed by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top commander in Baghdad, and backed by Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, called for turning over responsibility for security to the Iraqis, shrinking the number of American bases and beginning the gradual withdrawal of American troops.To abandon that is to commit to Iraq forever. That would be a bad plan.
In an op-ed published in Tuesday's New York Times, John M. Shalikashvili, retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says Congress should give "serious reconsideration" to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the ban on openly lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel. Shalikashvili, who supported the ban on open service in 1993, writes that "I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces," and goes on to say that "Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job."
Full story here.
Colombian police say the murder rate in the South American nation has fallen to its lowest level in two decades.
Police chief Gen Jorge Daniel Castro said that a total of 17,206 people suffered violent deaths in 2006, 517 fewer than in 2005. (emphasis mine)
The Colombian Government has stepped up efforts to reassert government control throughout the country, and now has a presence in every one of its municipalities. However, neighboring countries worry about the violence spilling over their borders.
via the LA TimesLA Times
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA — To say 2006 was a good year for the Colombian economy is to describe native pop phenomenon Shakira as a reasonably successful singer. ...economic output here could finish the year having grown 6.3%
How much economic growth must there be in Iraq to say "It was a good year"?
How low must the violent death rate in Iraq go before the "war" adjective adjective is removed?
What level of violence in Iraq is "An internal matter for the Iraqi government"?
As I write this, no government is discussing "surging" 20,000 combat troops to control the violence in Bogata.
Iraq's GDP growth of 13 percent in 2006 – which followed a record year in 2005 of 17 percent.
In all, the Iraqi ministries of Health, Defense and Interior reported a total of 13,896 Iraqi civilians, police and soldiers died last year
I'm asking a serious question, what is "Good Enough"? It took a generation to reduce the NYC daily murder rate from 8 to 2. No one called in the Army or National Guard. A pretty hefty chunk of the world considers an unemployment rate less than 20% to be good and an economic growth rate over 5% to be great.
Benjamin Cheever set out to do a story on military running for Runner's World magazine. Included in the package: a trip to Baghdad. But even before he got there he'd learned more than he expected.
Among other reasons I hope to make it to DC for the MilBlogs Conference, I really want to do a few miles in that town.
Update: Warning on page one of the manual for my new watch:
It is your responsibility to us this in a safe manner and to maintain full awareness of all conditions and surroundings at all times. Consulting the watch while moving is unsafe and could result in collision or other accident causing damage and personal injury to yourself or others. Thw watch contains memory functions that should be used to record your speed and distance data for later review.Have they put warning labels on chewing gum yet?
IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO USE THIS PRODUCT PRUDENTLY.
The Boston Globe looks at one way to make Big Army bigger:
The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks -- including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they volunteer -- according to Pentagon officials.Note that while meeting recruiting goals every month since mid-2005 was certainly not effortless, "struggling to meet recruiting goals" is an interesting frame for the discussion.
The Globe also indicates the most likely opposition/media response, should this plan become reality:
Foreign citizens serving in the US military is a highly charged issue, which could expose the Pentagon to criticism that it is essentially using mercenaries to defend the country.As tempting as the image of Leftists being sliced open in the mosque square might be for some, most of us won't let it happen. But obviously if too few Americans deem their country worthy of defense, those of us who do will make every possible effort to find others willing to contribute to the cause. (Before conscripting those who aren't willing - but that's another issue altogether.) This step might only delay (not prevent) the fall of Rome, but so be it.
The "shortages of volunteers" the media talks about, does not exist. In the last fifteen years, the military kept raising its standards (mostly in terms of education, and scores on military aptitude exams) in order to exclude recruits it believed would be less successful as soldiers. Lower the standards back to 1991 levels, and you have all the troops you need.Tangential historical discussion here.
But the military, particularly the army, likes the higher standards. This is something that is little discussed, and largely unknown outside the army itself, but those stratospheric recruiting standards has produced the most professional and capable military in American history.
Many senior officers in the army do pay attention to history, and want to maintain the highest standards. Thus there are now proposals to recruit more foreigners... This brought forth protests from those opposed to, well, whatever. Historically, the American military has usually had more foreigners in the ranks, than it does now. During the American Civil War, about twenty percent of the Union Army was foreign born troops.
Maybe not a good idea, but Ethiopia has little ability to sustain a prolonged military action.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Jan. 2 — The prime minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, said today that his country, one of the poorest in the world, could not afford to keep its troops in neighboring Somalia much longer, and that Somalia’s stability depended on the quick injection of foreign peacekeepers.I recommend Ethiopia talk to Iran. No real reason, but I'm feeling particularly James Baker-ish today.
In a speech to parliament, in which his tone alternated between humble and triumphant, Mr. Meles said that Ethiopia had accomplished its mission to wipe out Somalia’s Islamist forces, which just two weeks ago controlled a large chunk of the country and were regarded as a regional menace.
“We will now leave as soon as possible — it could be weeks, it could be months,” he said. “We don’t have the money to take this burden individually.”
Diplomats in the region are now hurrying to cobble together an African peacekeeping force to take the place of the Ethiopian forces. But despite murmurs of commitment from several countries, including Uganda, South Africa and Nigeria, no force has yet materialized.
UPDATE: Same speech--slightly different take: Ethiopian troops to stay in Somalia weeks
MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Ethiopian troops will stay in Somalia for another few weeks to help the victorious government pacify the Horn of Africa nation after a two-week war to oust militant Islamists, Addis Ababa said on Tuesday.I'm telling ya, talk to Iran, it's all about Iran these days. They're the ball bearings of the Middle East.
If an Iraqi police captain by the name of Jamil Hussein exists, there is no convincing evidence of it - and that means the Associated Press has a journalistic scandal on its hands that will fester until the AP deals with it properly.Perhaps they could take a que from the LA Times. Patterico: "L.A. Times (Almost) Admits Ramadi Airstrike Didn’t Happen".
Added thought: Has anybody heard anything from Jamil Hussein lately? Seems odd that the AP, who quoted this guy in over 60 stories between April and November last year would suddenly stop doing so after stating emphatically that
Hussein is well known to AP. We first met him, in uniform, in a police station, some two years ago. We have talked with him a number of times since then and he has been a reliable source of accurate information on a variety of events in Baghdad.But I don't believe they've quoted him since.
UPDATE: Holy Cow - the AP responds to Jordan:
Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor, told E&P today that she had not read Jordan's latest item, posted Monday, and likely would not. But she stood by the news organization's previous statements backing the existence of an Iraqi police captain, Jamail Hussein.Because what you don't read can't hurt you, I suppose.
The latest mark in the US death toll from Iraq drew a bit of media attention:
His father, David, learnt that his son’s death was the 3,000th by logging on to the internet after reporters began calling at his home....although the actual combat (or "killed in action") death toll is about 2,400, with the additional 600 from non-hostile causes.
“We had no idea why we were getting, within an hour, almost eight or nine people at the door,” he said. “That was a surprise to us because none of them mentioned why they were there. Perhaps they were embarrassed. One guy was standing there shaking like a leaf.”
But a much more significant "milestone" was reached last month - and virtually ignored.
The number of military service women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan has reached 70, more than the total from the Korean, Vietnam and Desert Storm wars.Given their rabid fixation on tracking numbers and comparing this war to previous conflicts it seems odd that the media would chose to ignore such an event.
We should note a second pay raise scheduled for April this year, though only mid-grade enlisted and warrants will see a boost in that one.
If your experiences have been anything like mine during this Bowl season, you've repeatedly discovered Michigan fans crumpled to the ground in a puddle of their own tears whimpering softly and incoherently over the fairness of life and a system that denied them an opportunity to play Ohio State just one more time to prove that they are actually the bestest team in the whole wide world. Being a sensitive, caring type, I've (until now) studiously not kicked or even stepped on them while passing by in their moment of endless bitter anguish.
But now, courtesy of USC and Bugs Bunny, I'll have something different to say tomorrow.
Expanding the Army is a bad idea. That's the central premise of this WaPo opinion piece by Gordon Adams and John Diamond. The authors give three reasons:
(1) It won't make a difference in Iraq. (right)
(2) It'll cost too much. (wrong, or rather, tangential)
(3) Voters in November rejected an expanded mission for the Army. (way too big a leap to make)
The budgetary concerns are misplaced insofar as they are dependent on how important you think the mission (however defined) is. If you think the mission is important, you're willing to shoulder the increased costs. Adams and Price argue that an increased Army will costs too much largely on the basis of increased retirement and health care costs. But that's hardly a justification for foregoing a mission central to national security--if you think the mission is central to national security. If you don't, well, then it's an easy choice to make. Additionally, arguments about increased retirment costs and healthcare fail for the simple fact those costs don't kick in until much later in time (i.e. when the new bigger Army is "older" and hence, closer to retirement and in greater need of medical care).
The authors do a good job in pointing out that Democrats, and their voters, are missing the forest for the trees when they call for an increased Army since they oppose the mission in Iraq anyway.
At a more fundamental level, proponents of enlarging the Army, particularly the Democrats, avoid the basic question of what the mission of this larger Army would be. Are the supporters of Army expansion, many of whom opposed the invasion of Iraq in the first place, now arguing that we need an Army to better carry out more Iraqs somewhere else in the world?
This goes back to the question of how important you think the mission is. I think it's fair to say that those on the left side of the aisle don't think the Iraq mission is all that important. Of course, when presented with the question of what the Army should be doing, there's a deafening silence or some general platitudes about Osama still being "on the loose." But anyway...
While I favor increasing the Army (more people to legally advise!), so many of the proponents of a permanent increase confuse a permanent increase with the "surge" option whereby more troops already part of the force are sent to Iraq. The authors of the WaPo piece do a good job explaining why the two are very different:
First, deciding to add to the Army today would do nothing to deal with the stress of Iraq. The hype about our Army is true: Our troops are the world's best. And it takes time to make them so. The lag time for recruitment, training and deployment means that new forces would be available far too late to ease the stresses now facing the Army in Iraq. Even on a fast track, it might be as long as five years before an additional combat-ready brigade would be ready to deploy there.
The piece goes screwy, however, with their "solution":
A program of troop reductions and phased redeployment from Iraq would in effect increase the size of the Army by relieving the force of a burdensome, costly and unproductive mission.
The authors don't address how effective the Army was in countering terrorism prior to Iraq and hence, how simply leaving and returning to the antebellum status quo will improve things. But then again, from reading the piece, Adams and Diamond don't seem too inclined to even consider defeating terrorism to even be part of our mission.All done!
Because 2.2% is better than nothing. I'm excited. How about you?
...is off to a good start:
Ethiopian forces backing Somalia's weak transitional government took control of Kismaayo, the last stronghold of the country's Islamic movement, and on Monday chased the remnants of the Islamic militia along the Indian Ocean coast toward the Kenyan border about 100 miles to the south.Interesting the Post considers Somalia to be "of great strategic importance to the United States" - an appellation I've never seen applied to Iraq.
In the final stage of a dramatic power shift inside a fragile nation of great strategic importance to the United States, the Islamic fighters abandoned their heaviest weapons early Monday morning and took off for villages in the forest with Ethiopian and government troops in hot pursuit of key leaders, including three suspects in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
The nation is far from stable, of course. But perhaps the UN - an organization that sputtered ineffectively as the acknowledged government was all but ousted by the Islamic fundamentalists then contemplated a cry for a cease-fire just before those Islamists were crushed by Ethiopia, might now feel secure enough to pass some additional resolutions declaring support and solidarity.
The top U.N. envoy to Somalia urged the Security Council to demand an immediate cease-fire between Ethiopian forces backing Somalia's weak government and the powerful Islamic militia that has controlled much of the country.Meanwhile:
The Security Council couldn't agree on a draft presidential statement circulated by Qatar calling for an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of all foreign forces, specifically Ethiopian troops.
With the most hard-core militiamen headed their way, Kenyan authorities on Monday tightened security along their 250-mile long border with Somalia.In other news from Somalia today:
The leaders of the Council of Islamic Courts claimed their readiness for talks with the interim government, recognized by the United Nations, but on the condition that the Ethiopia's troops leave Somalia.By the way, if you follow the above links, you'll find the media invariably described the Isalmists as "powerful" and the government of Somalia as "weak"- even today. Draw your own conclusions.
A milblogger has lost his wife to cancer. The blogosphere helped out when hospice care was needed and not covered by the government; now there are three little kids without a mom, and an Army specialist who's starting a new year much more alone in the world.
If you like, condolences are in the comments. He and his family have recently moved stateside from Germany, and living in Ft. Eustis; if you are in the area, you may want to meet a milblogger.
Joining Greyhawk in wishing everyone a very happy 2007.
And asking "Please bring us Peace as soon as you can. Amen."