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September will be even more interesting than I thought. The Democrat Whip just validated The Salamander Postulate,
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Monday that a strongly positive report on progress on Iraq by Army Gen. David Petraeus likely would split Democrats in the House and impede his party's efforts to press for a timetable to end the war....of late there have been signs that the commander of U.S. forces might be preparing something more generally positive. Clyburn said that would be "a real big problem for us."Always have to note that "us" means different things to different people. Always good to evaluate both yours and others "us" and "we."
I'm fed up with Congress and their bad attitude... and their unwillingness to listen to all sides and make a reasoned attempt at finishing what we started in Iraq.
I figure none of the "there's no points in it for me if we win" crowd will actually read these stories because they are long and take some concentration (although none of the words seem too big for elected officials to understand.) They won't read the multitude of stories in Uncle Jimbo's post because they are proof positive that all the efforts of our military -- including the recent "Surge" -- are working and that the Iraqis are helping and supporting our efforts.
How pathetic is it that the Iraqis (finally) "get it" and people in our own Congress do not?? No, the anti-Bush (it's not about the war) Democrats and Republicans won't read these stories because they absolutely refute the "boondoggle" and the "we've lost" pronouncements of these politicians who don't know shite from shinola these days... It's so much about the "I me mine" factor and hasn't been about "we us ours" in way too long.
All of it with some "we're making progress and you should read these" at Some Soldier's Mom
Well, it may involve some sort of "skivvy waver", but no, it's not that kind of party, but one where the key player "... should be preferably bad tempered, and certainly dictatorial by nature."
As examined here.
UPDATE: Fixed the "skivvy waver" link. Oops.
That is a paraphrase from one of the enlightened staff guys at, ahem, The Columbia Journalism Review. Paul McLeary advertises how much he researches his subjects. Speaking of the Milblog reaction to the "Scott Thomas" affair;
How dare a college grad and engaged citizen volunteer to join the Army to fight for his country! (Which is something that most of the brave souls who inhabit the milblog community prefers to leave to others.)Should we send our C.V. to his @cjr.org email address or sump'n?... Naw, you know the phrase. If you wrestle with pigs.....
As for the other comments McLeary makes in his bit, perhaps he should have tried to exchange a few emails with 1SG Hatley.
UPDATE below the fold
I was careless in my choice of wording when I wrote the piece. What I meant was the whole community of blogs that have sprung up in the same universe as milblogs -- Hugh Hewitt, etc., who act tough about the war, but have never served, and have never left the comforts of their air-conditioned offices to see what might be going on in Iraq or Afghanistan.I respect his desire to revise and extend his remarks - heck we all have woke up and "ungh" something we typed that didn't quite come out the other end the way we wanted - so there is his correction.
I think though that he is making a critical mistake, one that Greyhawk warned us about. I think he is too focused on the messenger and not the message. STB may or may not have been what he said at the beginning of the whole bucket of FOD, but the core problem was the disconnect with his story and reality. Likewise, Mr. McLeary is too focused on discrediting the messenger (the old 'Chickenhawk' tactic) than the message. If one served or not makes little difference on the validity of one's argument or story - it is the substance of the product. Former British Prime Minister Lady Thatcher never served a day in the military, but does anyone think that STB's opinions hold more weight than her thoughts on national security issues - just because he wears the uniform?
Being in uniform does not make you immune from examination and a critical review of what you say. Just the opposite - you should be held to a higher standard.
Additionally, Mr. McLeary still has a profound, foundational misunderstanding what the MilBlog community is all about if he thinks that H2 grew up in the same primordial digital goo that MilBlogs did. Not sure what his comment there really means. Maybe that could be a 2008 MilBlog Conference side-bar discussion - "MilBlogs and the Left side of the argument: why a different universe?"
I think he has extended a hand, has worked in the past with MilBloggers - and was in Iraq in '06 for a spell, so maybe the dialog can continue.All done!
The liberals say they support our troops,
Which they’ve a funny way of showing;
Like publishing false atrocity scoops
Bout which they’ve no way of knowing.
They’ll gleefully publish unverified crap
From the dark mind of a wannabe writer,
Hoping they’ve set another antiwar trap
With crimes claimed by a liberal fighter.
The troops that liberals truly admire,
Aren’t the brave who fight uncomplaining,
But deserters who flee, avoiding the fire,
And the misfits can’t handle the training.
But liberals save their true veneration,
Like front page at the New York Times,
For soldiers willing to attack their own nation,
Trumpeting charges of brutal war crimes.
This pattern was set during my own war
By a traitorous, vainglorious politician,
A treasonous, poisonous, political whore,
Feeding future presidential ambition.
Liberals back then sucked up his schlock,
Proving to the world that they’re dupes,
Establishing a pattern now become stock,
For these America-hating Schlock troops.
"This one" being the best thing I've read so far about the whole Scott Thomas affair. Short, sweet and dead-on.
Actually, all she'd have to do is show up in Iraq wearing a set of those effing ridiculous "ABU"s to win hands down.
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Air Force Capt. Alysun Kossow is what you might call “fashion-challenged.”
When not in uniform, you’ll likely find the Spangdahlem-based officer in ratty Converse tennis shoes instead of Prada heels. And if she does dress up, she breaks out her favorites: a pair of pink polka-dot heels.
Those who know her say her style of dress matches her personality: quirky, cute and comical.
The 27-year-old aircraft maintenance officer might just be the worst-dressed woman in America.
Kossow is one of 10 women selected as finalists for People magazine’s worst-to-best-dressed contest. Readers can vote on the publication’s Web site for the woman they think most needs some help in the fashion department.
Speaking of military uniforms unfit to wear in a desert environment, don't fret! The Air Force has a solution: cut the pockets off to make it cooler!
These are “OK if you want to carry some stuff,” Brady said. But when the pockets are empty, there are three layers of material in the top, making the uniform blouse hotter.Leaving you to suffer in 120-degree heat in just one layer of triple heavyweight fabric designed to hold a spiffy crease without ever being ironed. Believe me - feedback from deployed Airman is "Get me out of this piece of shit!"
Feedback from deployed airmen indicated that the pockets are “not something people want or need,” he said.
The pockets “seemed like a good idea at the time, it turns out it wasn’t,” Brady said. “We’ll get rid of it.”
For airmen who already have been issued the uniform and don’t like the pockets, Brady recommended they do to the interior pocket what Athnos has done to hers: “cut it out if you don’t like it.”
Once again, sign me "Not just looking cool in my ACUs".
As reported here, the aircraft carrier museum ship USS Intrepid is available to be used as a contingency Emergency Operations Center for New York in the event of a disaster or attack.
As noted here, about 50% of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coast (and a larger percent within 50 miles of navigable waters).
After the Katrina experience, in which disaster relief from the sea played a major role, should we be looking at more contingency plans involving the use of disaster relief ships and floating command centers (like Intrepid )?
Shouldn't earthquake prone areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles and hurricane risk areas ((Miami) have designated emergency relief vessels (with supplies of food, water, shelter and communications gear on board) on stand by within a few hours sailing? Especially during known risk periods such as hurricane season. Or is the expense too great given the relatively low probability of very serious danger?
Of course, the same ships could be used to respond to terrorist attack scenarios...
The King is dead, Taliban just being Taliban, jirga-mania and Iranian meddling all found in this weeks installment of the News.
In light of the news, I have decided to add a panel to the 2008 MilBlog Conference titled, "Milbloggers Gone Wild," starring Scott Thomas.
Now, who to moderate that panel?
Oh wait, I have an idea...
Tried several times to go to TNR's the Plank and all I can get is the "The page cannot be displayed" error. HMMMM
Here's what Scott Thomas has to say:
My Diarist, "Shock Troops," and the two other pieces I wrote for the New Republic have stirred more controversy than I could ever have anticipated. They were written under a pseudonym, because I wanted to write honestly about my experiences, without fear of reprisal. Unfortunately, my pseudonym has caused confusion. And there seems to be one major way in which I can clarify the debate over my pieces: I'm willing to stand by the entirety of my articles for the New Republic using my real name.
I am Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp, a member of Alpha Company, 1/18 Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division.
My pieces were always intended to provide my discreet view of the war; they were never intended as a reflection of the entire U.S. Military. I wanted Americans to have one soldier's view of events in Iraq.
It's been maddening, to say the least, to see the plausibility of events that I witnessed questioned by people who have never served in Iraq. I was initially reluctant to take the time out of my already insane schedule fighting an actual war in order to play some role in an ideological battle that I never wanted to join. That being said, my character, my experiences, and those of my comrades in arms have been called into question, and I believe that it is important to stand by my writing under my real name.
--Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp
I'm sure Greyhawk will have something to add. When he has time to pull away from the duties of war.
It's really sad to see someone claim they have ultimate moral authority to insult women and kill dogs without anyone questioning their character just because they've been to Iraq.
UPDATE: TNR's The Plank is back up
UPDATE: It's down again
Say "If you haven't clicked over lately, Greyhawk has been stirred from slumber and has a lot to say about recent attacks on American soldiers - by their fellow soldiers."
(Part one here.)
Think soldiers in the US Army aren't capable of bad behavior? Think again. Before jumping into any discussion of accusations of crimes leveled at US military members, one should probably keep the following headlines in mind:
Details Emerge in Alleged Army Rape, Killings
The U.S. military said last week that authorities were investigating allegations of a rape and killings in Mahmudiyah by soldiers of the 502nd Infantry Regiment, part of the 4th Infantry Division.
2 U.S. Soldiers Charged With Murder of an Iraqi
...in northern Iraq, two American soldiers were arrested in connection with the death of an Iraqi man in June. The military said the two have been charged with premeditated murder, and their battalion commander has been removed from his job.
US troops on Iraq murder charges The US military in Iraq has charged two of its soldiers with the murder of three Iraqis between April and June in the Iskandariya area, south of Baghdad.
3 U.S. Soldiers Charged With Murder The U.S. Army has charged three soldiers in connection with the murders of three Iraqi men who were in military custody in Iraq in early May, the military said Monday.A truly disheartening roundup. But read beyond the headlines and opening paragraphs, and buried in the text you'll invariably find another report on the behavior of US soldiers. In order, from the above stories:
But on June 23, three months after the incident, two soldiers of the 502nd came forward to say that soldiers of the unit were responsible, a U.S. military official said last week. The U.S. military began an investigation the next day, the official said.
Military officials said that investigators began probing the death, which took place June 23 near Kirkuk, 160 miles north of Baghdad, after they were alerted to suspicious circumstances by other soldiers from the unit.
Charges were brought after fellow soldiers alerted the authorities.
The investigation was requested by Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, commander of multinational forces in Iraq.This quote invariably included in military press releases on these topics is worth bearing in mind, too:
Chiarelli's request and the decision to open the probe were announced Thursday in an e-mail from Baghdad. Chiarelli acted on the basis of suspicions raised by soldiers about the deaths.
The soldiers are presumed innocent unless until they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of any alleged offenseBut contrast the reports above with those included in anti-war veterans groups' claims of American atrocities:
But they nevertheless described such acts as common and said they often go unreported--and almost always go unpunished.Invariably these veterans claim they didn't report the various atrocities they now claim to have participated in or witnessed while they were on active duty because the military wouldn't do anything about them.
The U.S. military's criminal investigation into potential abuse of Iraqi detainees by U.S. soldiers at Abu Gharib prison in Iraq now includes reports from soldiers that military police took photographs showing soldiers hitting detainees, CNN has learned.Of course, no one was paying attention. Four months later Mary Mapes claimed the story as her own.
Earlier, several Pentagon officials who declined to be identified by name confirmed to CNN that investigators were looking into the reports -- all coming from fellow soldiers -- of photographs showing male and female detainees with some of their clothing removed.
(Still more to follow...)
In about the way I expected.
On a night four years ago, five soldiers back from three months in Iraq went drinking at a Hooters restaurant and a topless bar near Fort Benning, Ga.Judge a movie by the friends it keeps.
Before the night was over, one of them, Specialist Richard R. Davis, was dead of at least 33 stab wounds, his body doused with lighter fluid and burned. Two of the group would eventually be convicted of the murder, another pleaded guilty to manslaughter, and the last confessed to concealing the crime.
Now some in Hollywood want moviegoers to decide if the killing is emblematic of a war gone bad, part of a new and perhaps risky willingness in the entertainment business to push even the touchiest debates about post-9/11 security, Iraq and the troops’ status from the confines of documentaries into the realm of mainstream political drama.
On Sept. 14, Warner Independent Pictures expects to release “In the Valley of Elah,”Paul Haggis, whose “Crash” won the Academy Award for best picture in 2006. The film stars Tommy Lee Jones as a retired veteran who defies Army bureaucrats and local officials in a search for his son’s killers. In one of the movie’s defining images, the American flag is flown upside down in the heartland, the signal of extreme distress. a drama inspired by the Davis murder, written and directed by
Other coming films also use the damaged Iraq veteran to raise questions about a continuing war. In “Grace Is Gone,” directed by James C. Strouse and due in October from the Weinstein Company, John Cusack and two daughters struggle with the loss of a wife and mother who is killed on duty. Kimberly Peirce’s “Stop-Loss,” set for release in March by Paramount, meanwhile, casts Ryan Phillippe as a veteran who defies an order that would send him back to Iraq.
In October, for example, New Line Cinema will release “Rendition,” in which Reese Witherspoon plays a woman whose Egyptian-born husband is snared by a runaway counterterrorism apparatus. Paul Greengrass, the director of “The Bourne Ultimatum,” in which the bad guys belong to a similar rogue unit, is adapting Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s book about the Green Zone in Baghdad, “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” for Universal Pictures.
Brian De Palma’s “Redacted,” focusing on an Army squad that persecutes an Iraqi family, is to be released in December by Magnolia Pictures. And Sony Pictures is developing a film based on the story of Richard A. Clarke, the former national security official and Bush administration critic.
Despite some obvious fictionalization — the Fort Benning case did not involve the authority-challenging local detective and single mother played by Charlize Theron — the film hews closely enough to fact that Mr. Haggis is considering a dedication to Specialist Davis.
But whether the case truly speaks for returning veterans will not be easily settled, even with help from Warner Independent. The studio plans to supplement some of its promotional screenings with panel discussions of post-traumatic stress disorder, a factor raised in the movie.
“The issues are similar to what a lot of us are coping with,” said an approving Garett Reppenhagen, an Iraq veteran who saw “Valley of Elah” last week at one of the first such screenings in Washington. Mr. Reppenhagen, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, helped recruit viewers for the screening.
By contrast, Dennis Griffee, a wounded veteran who is national commander of the Iraq War Veterans Organization, said he turned down a request to become involved with the film after learning that Susan Sarandon, a vocal opponent of the war, had a prominent role.
“At the very least it is offensive,” Mr. Griffee said of what he sees as a widespread refusal to acknowledge the troops’ pride at achievements in Iraq. He added that virtually every member of his platoon wound up in college, not jail, on return.
Crossposted at CDR Salamander.
From Hotair comes news that "Loose Change" producer Korey Rowe was picked up on a deserter warrant. I came about THIS close to prosecuting him. Here's how desertions work:
Depending on where he deserted from, he would either return to his parent unit or to a Personnel Control Facility (PCF). My understanding is that he deserted from a FORSCOM unit at Ft. Campbell, accordingly, he was returned to Ft. Campbell.
Had he deserted from Hawaii or another OCONUS (outside continental US) station, then he'd have been returned to a PCF. Specifically, he'd have been returned to the PCF here at my installation. And the PCF falls under my jurisdiction. I like prosecuting deserters.
True, the Army doesn't prosecute most AWOL/desertions since most are trainees or very junior soldiers that leave early in their term. Those get administratively discharged in lieu of court-martial. But depending on the facts of each case, decisions are made accordingly.
The length of time is always an important factor. A 2 year desertion is well worth a court-martial and I'd have argued strongly for it had he come to our PCF, irrespective of his other activities.
Big Army may not prosecute em, but I do.
Some time ago I advised folks not to focus on whether Jamil Hussein was actually an Iraqi police officer and instead concentrate on the accuracy of his claims. I'll now suggest avoiding the argument as to whether "Scott Thomas" is or isn't a soldier. The exhumation of a graveyard has already been corroborated, that alone leads me to believe Thomas is indeed a soldier here.
Rowan Scarborough gives us another data point to the fact that the National Security Structure that is supposed to tie the Civilian and Military parts together is simply broke. If it did work – this wouldn’t need to happen.
More and more officials began attending the sessions. Even Vice President Dick Cheney came. "We took the results of our planning session immediately to people in the administration," said AEI analyst Thomas Donnelly, a surge planner. "It became sort of a magnet for movers and shakers in the White House." Donnelly said the AEI approach won out over plans from the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command. The two Army generals then in charge of Iraq had opposed a troop increase.People vote with their feet. More of the same is rarely a plan. Even if this outline is 75% correct - what does it say about the performance of the Senior Uniformed Leadership - and the Military wing of the National Security Structure?
Keane already had done some ground work. He won a private meeting with then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in September. The retired four-star bluntly told him that he would lose the war unless he changed tactics.Time to put the talk of adopting "Business Best Practices" to work and benchmark other more successful Military structures. Why wasn't the military able to give the civilians what they needed - and therefor they had to go shopping?
Methinks the last few years have shown us that there is a good chance the Goldwater-Nichols/JCS/Combatant Commander model we are using just may not be what a Global Empire should use. (NB: yes, I used the "E" word - that is the way we function; in a Post-Modern way. I'll take a better, more accurate phrase if you can create one in 4 or fewer syllables).
There are other models out there that might better optimize how the JCS and Combatant Commanders serve the nation. Are we looking?
Amendment 1 Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The right to question government officials belongs to the people.
We'll just never
sink reach journalistic standards. We're only out to tell positive stories and what's seen on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, we're so transparent (sigh). AND we were hand picked by the Pentagon...who knew?
The Surrogates unit arranges regular conference calls during which senior Pentagon officials brief retired military officials, civilian defense and national security analysts, pundits, and bloggers. A few moderates are invited to take part, but the list of participants skews far, far to the right. The Pentagon essentially feeds participants the talking points, bullet points, and stories it wants told.
Before these bloggers start to complain that they’ve done nothing wrong, I’d like to ask how they would feel if a group of handpicked, administration-friendly liberal bloggers had done the same thing during the Clinton years. I believe they would have objected vociferously–and I would have agreed with them. No one, on any side, should let themselves be used to spread the administration’s gospel. At least not anyone who can pretend to journalistic standards.
Ken, I have some advice for you. READ MILBLOGS!
It is not the Pentagon trying to spread it's gospel, IT'S THE TROOPS IGNORED BY THE MSM, FIGHTING AND DYING TO GET THEIR VOICES HEARD!
Mr. Silverstein is a professional journalist, and is here mostly attempting to defend his guild. There is, Black Five readers well know, no weight to the charge that these Roundtables are about parroting Administration anything. For the one thing, we don't talk to Administration officials, but to career military men. The journalist is the one in error, by treating career servicemen as if they were political figures. The journalist is also in error by suggesting that it is a disservice to the public to let the public read the actual words of military officers, instead of our filtered narrative. We ask them questions, often questions that readers have asked us to ask them; then we post the transcript, and readers can judge for themselves.
"You're not a real journalist" is his way of saying "only professionals like me should be allowed to talk to high officials, not uncredentialed folks like you." This is about protecting the idea that "the press" has a special status or stature, and that mere bloggers or citizens do not deserve access to important people.
Our readers are quite capable of drawing their own conclusions, I wonder if Silverstein would trust his to do the same. One thing is for sure, reader's of Harper's would be well served by exposure to what this country's military officers have to say about the war--it isn't always positive, and, in fact, the calls typically include frank discussion of the significant challenges the military faces in Iraq. I'd suggest Silverstein interrupt his busy writing schedule to do just a little bit of reporting and join us for a call (anyone 'who needs such information' can contact me via email). He might be surprised to learn what actually goes on: bloggers putting hard questions to commanders in the field and writing up the answers without spin. Scandalous!
And if you're interested in reading the transcrpts of past or future Roundtables you can read them here in this "public Forum"
Just when I think I can't be surprised anymore, something comes along that surprises me. I must say that the line about me (and all you military families out there) being fat and whiney has done significant damage to my self-esteem. I see years of therapy in my future. I'll catch up with the rest of you folks in oh, say, 2015. I should be "fixed" by then. Good luck with that whole War on Terror thingy.
Oh, by the way, somedoby's being punished for all this. But guess who:
I contacted the only unit in our brigade that has Bradleys, 1-18 IN, and advised their XO of the situation, recommending that they talk to their Soldiers about Army values and the Warrior ethos, reminding them of the rules for blogging in uniform and also reminding them of integrity and telling the truth. The bottom line: If you put something out there you should be willing to put your name next to it and stand by it. That he and New Rpublic are insisting on anonymity is very telling here.Death by PowerPoint, and another reason not to blog.
So anyhow, some old guy up in the rfront started yakkin' on about integrity and shit, but me and my buddies was having a fart lighting contest in the back of the room and we didn't pay him no nevermind. Then we went out to do some rapin' and stuff.
Amid at the political posturing in Washington, John Burns of the AP figures out that the "strategy" in Iraq is shifting.
BAGHDAD (AP) - In a move that could portend a strategy change, the commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq said Sunday he has proposed reducing his troop levels and shifting next year to missions focused less on direct combat.
Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon told The Associated Press that if current trends hold, he would like to begin this troop reduction and change in mission in Ninevah province, where he said Iraqi army forces already are operating nearly independently. He has proposed shifting the province to Iraqi government control as early as August.
Anyone who knows how detailed Army planning is would come to the conclusion that Maj Gen Mixon must have begun his planning process well before Sen Lugar "defected" and demanded the administration begin planning for a shift in strategy immediately on June 25th.
I do have to give a little credit to Robert Burns of the AP for initiiative in calling the folks in Ramadi and seeing if they were making any plans as well -
Col. John Charlton, commander of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, who leads a task force of 6,000 U.S. soldiers in a section of Anbar province that includes Ramadi, said in an interview Friday that by January he might be ready to take a 25 percent troop cut if the Iraqi police, numbering about 6,000 now, are made stronger by then.
Back in November 2006 the WaPo opined...
Under the hybrid plan, the short increase in U.S. troop levels would be followed by a long-term plan to radically cut the presence, perhaps to 60,000 troops.
Somehow I think the "strategy" included shifting to a "new" strategy from the onset.All done!
300,000 war time miles. Eighteen battle stars. The first U.S. Navy capital* ship to enter Tokyo Bay at war's end.
And despite being in the thick of battle, unscathed and almost unknown.
She was The Unbeatable Ship.
SSG Thul at Foreign and Domestic finds this waiting for him when he get's home.
Less than 12 hours since arriving home, and I find that I am forced to defend my honor, and that of every US soldier and Marine in Iraq, from what appears to me to be another fraud.
First, I never saw an instance of soldiers in Iraq digging anything, let alone the outlines for a combat outpost, or COP. First off, even small COP's are larger than any house in the US. The notion of US soldiers digging thru the hard pack in Iraq is silly-we have engineer units for that. And if the engineers aren't available, we would call KBR or even the local sheik before passing out e-tools.
Second, even my least intelligent soldiers could identify, at a glance, the uniform of any female on base. Army ACU's, Army DCU's, Army mechanic's coveralls, Marine cammies, Marine flight suit, Marine mechanic's coveralls, it didn't matter. Natural curiosity was the main factor, but my guys desire to not say something stupid in front of a higher rank was a close second. The thought that these guys would poke fun at someone who could, for all they knew, be a US general, is patently absurd. And in black and white, military personnel carry weapons, while almost all of the civilians do not. Someone who he "saw every day" would be categorized quickly on this basis alone.
Third, while I don't doubt the black humor contained in the story, I do doubt that the US military would have someone obviously disfigured by an IED on a US base. My experience was that the coalition gets wounded troops out of country fast, not only for medical reasons, but for morale. Wounded troops make soldiers wonder and worry. A person disfigured as described in the article, if in theater, would be well known and described to all the troops so as to avoid the awkward situations that were described. I can easily hear the warning coming from my battalion CSM, thru my company 1SG, thru my PSG, down to me-there's a local Iraqi who is disfigured, don't you f***ing stare or you'll spend the day in the front leaning rest.
Fourth, while you and I might call them Bradley Fighting Vehicles, joes that drive them call them BFV's, or Brad's. Brad's are a light armored gun platform crossed with a infantry carrier. They do NOT take to cornering out buildings with ease. This more than anything was enough to make me disbelieve the story. A Brad could, in theory, take out a corner of a building and still continue, but there is plenty of stuff on the outside that will break. Like turn signals and headlights and mirrors. Any accident has to be accounted for. The Army always has to have someone to blame, even if only for paperwork purposes.
Stray dogs in Iraq are numerous, and I don't discount joes killing them on purpose. At Trebil, killing stray dogs with your rifle was almost a duty responsibility. But killing them by running over them with your Brad means washing the remains off, which is difficult since washpoints are hard to come by in Iraq. In 16 months, I had the privilege of washing my truck just once. Otherwise, the smell quickly becomes a problem.
Welcome home SSG Hul.l Thank you for your service.
J.D. Johannes has our back, giving a heads up to the FOB Falcon PAO, who debunks :
Per COL Boylan's request, I have prepared the following:
1. There was no mass grave found during the construction of any of our coalition outposts in the Rashid District at any time. Such a discovery would have prompted an investigation and close attention paid at levels higher than ours to making sure that the victims were properly interred and attempts would have been made to determine their identities. It is difficult to fathom that a unit's leadership would condone Soldiers disrespecting the remains of anyone in the fashion described.
2. Due to the threat of IEDs, our combat vehicles are driven professionally and in control at all times. To be driving erratically so as to hit dogs or other things would be to put the entire vehicle's crew at risk and would be gross dereliction of duty by the noncommissioned officer or officer in charge of the vehicle. Drivers aren't allowed to simply free-wheel their vehicles however they see fit, and they are *not* allowed to be moved anywhere with out a vehicle commander present to supervise the movement. Therefore- claims of vehicles leaving the roadways to hit animals are highly dubious, given the very real threat of IEDs and normal standards of conduct.
3. As for the alleged woman with severe burn scars, we have nobody matching that description here at FOB Falcon. As Soldiers, we practice the value of Respect: "Treat people as you want to be treated." If the blogger and his friends can't live the Army value of respect, I have little doubt that someone around them who does would have made an on-the-spot correction. The Falcon dining facility is not a spacious one. Anyone being rude, loud or raucous calls immediate attention to himself. It is hard to fathom that anyone would be able to get away with such callous behavior without somebody intervening and stopping it from happening.
Time to put 'em on the table, TNR.
We dismounted the plane and I stepped into harsh blazing sunshine.Yup.
You know how it feels when you get into a black car in the afternoon with the windows rolled up in July? It’s an inferno outside, but inside the car it’s even hotter? That’s how Iraq feels in the shade. Sunlight burns like a blowtorch. If you don’t wear a helmet or soft cap the sun will cook your brain. First you get headaches. Then you end up in the hospital.
The funny thing is, you eventually get used to it. Heat remains a threat, and you're never comfortable outside, but you drink lots of water and become accustomed to the extreme. You become "climatized" to temperatures in the one hundred-teens - and higher. It's still hot - believe me - but you can deal with it. I once had a month-long stay in a tent city in Egypt. It was August, and we had no air conditioning back then. But we got used to 110 degree heat, and shivered when night time temperatures plunged into the 70's.
Point being, if you haven't caught on yet, that after a couple weeks you get used to it - the body is amazing that way.
Back to Michael:
After having spent several days Baghdad’s Green Zone and Red Zone, I still haven’t heard or seen any explosions. It’s a peculiar war. It is almost a not-war. Last July’s war in Northern Israel and Southern Lebanon was hundreds of times more violent and terrifying than this one. Explosions on both sides of the Lebanese-Israeli border were constant when I was there.You get used to that, too, but it sucks worse than the heat.
You’d think explosions and gunfire define Iraq if you look at this country from far away on the news. They do not. The media is a total distortion machine.
But stick around long enough, and you'll find the war. Or it will find you.
Oh, and by the way, if you're a blogger headed to Iraq and would appreciate a better welcome then the one Michael received, contact me before you depart, I'll see what I can do. (I can't lower the heat, but otherwise...)
July 21: Soccer fans wave the Iraqi flag in central Baghdad, Iraq, after Iraq defeated Vietnam 2-0 in the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup, in Bangkok, Thailand.
So if you were out doing weekend sports stuff and you're whining about "how hard this is"... quityerbellyaching...
GO IRAQ GO!
Shouldn't someone be doing more to protect the information of our military personnel?
Possible Tricare Data Compromise
Personal information of certain uniformed service members, family members and others was placed at risk for potential compromise while being processed by SAIC (NYSE: SAI) under several health care data contracts for military service customers, the company said today.
SAIC remedied the security lapses upon learning of them and began working with the customers to mitigate any potential impact. Forensic analysis has not yielded any evidence that any personal information was actually compromised; however, the possibility cannot be ruled out. SAIC is notifying approximately 580,000 households, some with more than one affected person.
"Our focus is on offering services and support to those who may be affected by the potential compromise of their information," according to Arnold Punaro, Executive Vice President, the company official leading the support effort.
The company has responded to this situation in a comprehensive way by taking the following actions:
-- conducted a detailed forensic analysis of the server and data, which included assistance from some of the company's and the government's top experts in computer security;
-- launched an internal investigation using outside counsel to determine exactly how this security failure occurred and placed a number of employees on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation;
-- established a company-wide task force to ensure that the company responsibly addresses any adverse impact on the company's customers and any affected individuals;
-- initiated a systematic, company-wide assessment to assure that such lapses do not exist elsewhere in the company and determine whether any changes in policy, methods, tools and monitoring are needed to make sure that such a lapse does not recur.
More (FAQ, Q&A, Press Release, etc.) HERE
President Bush met with troop support organizations and military family members today. He was in very good company.
Our very own Becky Davis, President of Military Families Voice of Victory was present. You may remember that Becky was on the family panel at the MilBlog Conference.
Also present was Sgt. Mark Seavey, the same Mark Seavey who eloquently took Murtha and Moran to task at a town hall meeting:
And, our old friend Eric Egland was part of today's meeting.
A lot of talented folks flanked President Bush today.
ok, we're going to set the rules for a neighborhood protection association between competing factions. Here are the rules everyone is asked to agree to live by:
1) Protect your community...
2) Accept peaceful Catholics, Muslims, Protestants and others.
3) Protect only in your neighborhood...
4) Take an oath of allegiance to the Constitution...
5) Register with local government security forces
6) Wear a standard uniform and markings
7) Receive hiring preference for Police and Army....
There's also an Oath you'd have to take to be an accepted member of the local neighborhood watch...
Well, except that the people sitting around discussing and negotiating these rules and the Oath are Coalition soldiers, Iraqi security and local insurgents... and Michael Yon as a witness.
And today in that meeting... and in that moment I knew that Iraq could make it.
Another fascinating and thought-provoking piece from Michael Yon
Must-see TV interview with Badger 6 from Iraq and Mrs. Badger 6 from home on their local TV station.
He says, "We have made such progress that instead of being a lost cause, al Anbar is talked about as the model for what Iraq could be." ... The progress Coulson sees goes hand in hand with the frustration he feels. He dislikes the political infighting, the all-nighter on Capitol Hill, and those he feels are making uninformed decisions.
I for one would like to know whether "Scott Thomas" and his buddies are the sick little pieces of shit described in The New Republic or simply figments of some other sick little piece of shit's imagination.
My suspicion is this was written by a Soldier in Iraq who wanted to see just how outrageous a story he could write and actually get it published. The problem is it will never be disproved and even if "Scott Thomas" comes forward and admits it to be a fabrication many will read it and it will form their impression of US Army Soldiers regardless of the veracity of the story.
UPDATE II: Bader 6, in Theater, says this story doesn't pass the smell test.
If someone as severely injured as described was there, she surely returned to Iraq of her own accord. Do we think someone, and particularly a woman with the mettle to just be in the world of an Army in combat, to have suffered such grievous wounds, and the return to theater to continue on would be run out of the Dining Facility by a bunch of snot nosed punks? Does that pass the smell test? To me it rings hollow.
UPDATE III: TF Boggs who recently has returned home from Iraq has this to say:
...For starters I believe the entire New Republic story to be a fake, no soldier would ever be able to get away with the things that the author says he did. Not even taking into consideration that most of what he said is basically impossible i.e. running over dogs in a Bradley (a Bradley cannot maneuver quick enough to run over a moving dog), a soldier wearing a human skull on his head (how exactly does a human skull fit like a hat?), and making fun of a woman scarred by an IED (a soldier who said something like that would get his ass kicked by anyone in the vicinity, including me).
...If the “soldier” who “told” TNR these stories is real, his stories are not. Sure there have been some unfortunate occurrences in Iraq but nothing like what the author of the article talks about. A story like this one will only do harm to the reputation of American soldiers abroad, and could quite possibly cause physical harm to them as well.
UPDATE IV: Dadmanly's thoughts:
And I’d add the following circumstantial evidence. Commenters note a similarity between some of what’s described here and events depicted in the (anti-war) movie Jarhead. I’d add that one of the New Republic’s other published story from this poseur describes dogs feeding on corpses. I just watched The War Tapes, in which one of the documentary’s subjects describes taking footage of such, and being told by his superiors to destroy the footage and try to prevent that kind of event in future. The soldier in question says, he’s not really bothered by that. That he figures the suicide bomber deserved no better, why not let the dog fill his belly.
UPDATE V: Eighty Deuce On The Loose in Iraq emails his thoughts:
After reading a few of the accounts, I find it simply disturbing; whether or not these stories are true. The thing is I do not think that what the author of these stories is saying is actually truthful. I find it shameful that this person would even discuss in a non-truthful, joking manner, the things he discusses, especially the story concerning the IED victim. I wonder if this guy has any idea of the negative repurcussions from his actions. I would imagine so if he submitted the stories to be published. Makes me wonder what his motives were to do such a thing.
In the end though, I cannot believe that these stories are truthful.
For 1, the IED story would NEVER happen. I dont care who you are or where you are at, if someone were to do something like that in a chowhall withone someone as injured from an IED as that, there would be either a) a sever ass whooping and/or b) actions taken against the individual from their or others chain of command. Theres no way that this would go on under the watch of everyone else in the chowhall.
The mass grave story is just flat out ridiculous. The story of finding such a thing, where a COP was being built, not saying anything about it, and then the actions of the private and the lack of action of EVERY other soldier. Again, although there may be soldiers that are so deprave, theres no way that all of them would stand by to all these actions.
Finally the Bradely story is another obsurd story. Driving eratic is one thing, but to be utterly destroying things in the wake would not be accepted. If that vechicles TC did nothing surely another would say something.
In the end I find it ridiculous that someone would feel the need to fabricate such a story, but I think there is some motive for this individual. Maybe they were left witha bad taste of the Army or something. Either way it is disgusting and dispicable. I wish such an individual would show up at my unit for just a day... I just hope
Americans believe in the greater good of the American soldiers.
That story about American soldiers at FOB Falcon sounds like complete garbage. I spent time with them this year, and in fact keep them on the front page of my site. 1-4 CAV is an excellent unit. I emailed the commander, LTC James Crider, about the story.
Please put that horrible reporting into context of something accurate. I humbly submit this: Desires of the Human Heart, Part One
UPDATE VII: Ray Robinson from American Thinker has some interesting conclusions:
"Scott Thomas's" real name is Clifton Hicks
...The evidence that links these two identities is strong but not conclusive. Clifton Hicks was quoted in a Newsweek article, Probing a Bloodbath, which focused primarily on the "Haditha massacre". Of great interest is the name of the Newsweek reporters: Evan Thomas and Scott Johnson. Keep in mind that our TNR writer took the pseudonym "Scott Thomas". Is this a coincidence?
UPDATE VIII: The New Republic responds:
NOTE TO READERS:
Several conservative blogs have raised questions about the Diarist "Shock Troops," written by a soldier in Iraq using the pseudonym Scott Thomas. Whenever anybody levels serious accusations against a piece published in our magazine, we take those charges seriously. Indeed, we're in the process of investigating them. I've spoken extensively with the author of the piece and have communicated with other soldiers who witnessed the events described in the diarist. Thus far, these conversations have done nothing to undermine--and much to corroborate--the author's descriptions. I will let you know more after we complete our investigation.
A couple of months ago, KCET’s Juan Devis, left a comment on my blog, he’s the producer of KCET/PBS Television’s New Media division of Southern California. He does a show called Web Stories “KCET’s multimedia webzine exploring the stories , culture, and attitudes of the people who live here”. This months project was on how new media technologies had changed how the war was being covered. The focus was on the local Southern California Milbloggers and the stories we had to tell.
He was requesting an interview for a podcast, so one afternoon, with approval from the PAO, he and I had a talk that lasted for a half hour or so and the fruits of that conversation can be found here.
On that page, Holly Willis writes about Milblogs and compares and contrasts the difference between Michael Herr’s “Dispatches” about the Vietnam war and the phenomenon of Milblogging. One of the clearest essay’s I’ve seen on the subject, definitely a smart lady.
On the war in Iraq, no one in the Senate is clearer than CAPT John McCain, USN (Ret.).
...we members of Congress, must face our responsibilities honestly and bravely. What is asked of us is so less onerous than what we have asked from our servicemen and women, but no less consequential. We need not risk our lives, nor our health, but only our political advantages so that General Petraeus has the time and resources he has asked for to follow up on his recent successes and help save Iraq and America from the catastrophe that would be an American defeat.
That is not much to risk, Mr. President, compared to the sacrifices made by Americans fighting in Iraq or the terrible consequences of our defeat. For if we withdraw from Iraq, if we choose to lose there, there is no doubt in my mind, no doubt at all, that we will be back – in Iraq and elsewhere -- in many more desperate fights to protect our security and at an even greater cost in American lives and treasure.
Little is asked of us to help prevent this catastrophe, but so much depends on our willingness to do so, on the sincerity of our pledge to serve America’s interests before our own.
Actually I just graduated from ILE-CC. Intermediate Level Education - Common Core, more commonly known as "The reason a whole bunch of Guard and Reserve Officers will never make LTC". It takes a bit of a time committment to finish the course - if you go to a Reserve unit for instruction, you are away from your own unit for a long time, so that option is not very attractive. If you take it correspondence/web based, then it is like picking up a Masters degree on your own time (oh, and you have an 18 month time limit).
Man, am I glad I got that bad boy over with.
BTW - to all the submariners; thanks for the commentary on my choices of books on interwar sub development. I turned in a neat little paper on the subject and got some kind remarks from the grader.
Port Chicago, California, ripped by an explosion- 320 Americans killed, 400 injured.
15% of African American casualties in WWII suffered.
By now, readers of MILBLOGS should know about Vets for Freedom and their Call to Action for veterans of OEF and OIF, and other supporters of the US military.
Vets for Freedom has organized a rally to press against the Surge against the Surge. OIF and OEF Vets are strongly urged to join Vets for Freedom in Congressional visits and media appearances on Capital Hill on Tuesday, July 17th.
Not being able to make the trip due to work requirements, I contacted my local Fox affiliate, and proposed the following current events as the subject for an interview:
1. Congressional attempts to halt the surge and schedule a date certain for withdrawal;
2. Counter-insurgency operations ongoing in Baghdad and the belts around Baghdad, and the many significant successes resulting from those operations; and
3. The Vets for Freedom call for OIF and OEF Veterans to urge Congress to hold firm, support the “surge,” and allow GEN Petraeus and his military commanders time and room for success.
They said, come on in. I should sit for the live interview sometime shortly after 7:00 am, Tuesday, July 17th, on the Fox 23 News Daybreak Program.
(Cross-posted at Dadmanly)
On Sunday, the NYT published a story "As Loved Ones Fight On, War Doubts Arise" on families "turning against the war"... more tripe. Vets for Freedom brought this story to my attention and I wrote to the Editor at the NYT, pointing out that there are ten times as many family members of organizations that SUPPORT the mission in Iraq than those organizations mentioned and wondered why these organizations' members hadn't been quoted??
I draw to your attention:
The story mentions a group called 'Iraq Veterans Against the War', which was started in 2004 and boasts 500 members, but it failed to mention Vets for Freedom, which was started in 2006 (two years later) and already has over 5,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans members who believe in the mission. (www.VetsforFreedom.org)
The story mentions a group called 'Military Families Speak Out', which was started in 2002 and boasts 3,500 member families, but it failed to mention Families United for our Troops and Their Mission, which was started in August 2005 and already has 37,000 members who believe in the mission. (http://www.familiesunitedmission.com)
The story mentions a group called 'Appeal for Redress' which was started in September, 2006 and boasts 2,000 members, but it failed to mention the Appeal for Courage, which was also started in 2006 and already has over 3,300 members who believe in the mission. (www.AppealforCourage.org)
In my letter to the Times and in the fax letter to my two US Senators (in addition to phone calls to each last Friday), I said,
Of course we families want our husbands, sons and daughters home -- but when the MILITARY says the mission is complete -- not when the politicians decide there are more points in defeat than in victory.
We want to be sure that when Our Guys come home, they NEVER have to go back.
We support the troops AND their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Support the surge. Complete the Mission.
I encourage everyone to contact their Senators and share their feelings (politely) with their Senators. I'm not sure there will be an issue of greater importance in our lifetimes -- or the next. Participate in your government.
HERE is the Senate contact directory.
x-posted at Some Soldier's Mom
I meant to get this up on time, but better late than never.
Happy Birthday ArmyWifeToddlerMom!
Hope your Birthday was fantastic and that you had a little time to try all those wonderful recipes.
Mrs Greyhawk's Vegetable Beef Soup for the Troops
Makes about 5 qts
1 1/2 pound beef stew meat (prime rib meat works best)
1 /2 Tbls of oil for browning meat
1 large beef soup bone (bone w/ marrow)
46 ounces V8 juice
16 ounces of water
2 pounds frozen mixed vegetables or 5 cans of mixed vegetables (drained) -- [carrots, potatoes, celery, green beans, peas, corn, lima beans]
1 beef or vegetable bouillon cube
Add in Secret seasonings.(see below) ;-)
Cut meat into bites size pieces, sear meat in oil until brown in a 6 quart stock pot.
Add V8 juice, water, vegetables, bay leaves, and bouillon cube. Bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to low. Add in Secret seasonings. Cover and simmer for the very least 4 hours, longer is better, but no longer than 8 hours is necessary.
-- This can also be done in a large crock pot.
2 - 3 packets of Goya Sazon con Azafran This can easily be found in the ethnic food aisle of your grocery store.
2 tsp of sea salt
1tsp of pepper
2 tbs of sugar
3 bay leaves
1tsp of parsley,
1tsp of onion powder
1tsp of paprika
1/2 tsp of thyme
1/2 tsp of marjoram
Cayenne pepper to taste for added spice.
1 tsp of Accent This is found in the Spices of your grocery store.
AND THIS IS OPTIONAL:
Just before you serve the soup, stir in as much as 1/2 tablespoon of nutritional yeast for each quart of soup. Don't simmer the soup afterwards or you'll destroy the B vitamins, iron, and phosphorus. The yeast will thicken the broth slightly and will add a fullness to a hearty tasting soup. Troops need their vitamins. :-)
Serve with hard bread (french bread or german bread) or Ritz crackers....and beer of course
Nope, not me. I'm keeping a low profile these days.
Castle Argghhh! Denizen 1SG Keith is entered in the New York Institute of Photography photo contest.
Go take a look at 1SG Keith's efforts - photos he took while deployed to Afghanistan. If you like 'em, vote for 'em, and let's see if we can't get him into the finals for at least one category!
Go. Look. Vote if you like 'em. H/t, Fuzzybear Lioness for the reminder.
Now she drills for oil and gas in deep water. Her construction story may have inspired parts of an international treaty.
And once she had the central role in a bit of the Cold War drama, as explained here.
Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, spokesman for Multi-National Force – Iraq, comments: "Around here, folks like to read Small Wars Journal, Blackfive and The Mudville Gazette."
Military blogs offer readers a front-row seat into the camaraderie, pride and challenges of those in uniform. No one can better represent the experiences of a soldier than soldiers themselves, and "milbloggers" deployed to the frontlines of the war on terror offer first-hand insights into their service and sacrifice.
Why does this matter? Because milbloggers uniquely reveal the human face of our forces, from a young trooper patrolling Baghdad neighborhoods to a doctor saving lives at a Combat Support Hospital. First-hand accounts are an important way to communicate the creativity, commitment, and the lighter moments of those who are placing their lives on the line. In the past decade, new technologies from satellite phones to Internet technology have changed the relationship between information and warfare. The military's former inclination to control information has been replaced by an appreciation of the risks, but more importantly the opportunities of cyberspace.
One example is when soldiers, of their own initiative, create and maintain personal blogs about their day-to-day experiences. Since blogs have the potential to reach a global audience, we have established clear guidance to ensure that blogging does not violate operational security, individual privacy, military policy or propriety. Our troops are fast learners, so while we have had a few breaches there have been many more positive experiences shared.
By no means do all military blogs paint a positive picture, nor should they. Each posting represents an individual's musings at a particular point in time. We are waging a historic fight against a ruthless enemy. It is also a campaign that historians will be able to learn more broadly about from anecdotes and insights in today's military blogs.
Glad to hear some are reading Milblogs. Now if we could get those in Congress to.
The “surge against the surge” in Washington politics reached a seeming high tide this week. As the rhetoric swells, Congressional surfer dudes (and even some Republicans) fixate on polls, presumed mandates, and each new breaker of partisan advantage.
War opponents bob up and down on the “wave,” and the media frames the action at the beachfront with an almost universal storyline of the surge against the surge, reflected in “increasing GOP resistance to the war.”
Please. The “presumed GOP” the media points to in their caricatures are the same fair-weather Republicans indistinguishable from the Democratic colleagues in bluer than blue state constituencies. No surprises at all with any of them. (Has Senator Specter supported his fellow Republicans on any substantive policy issue in the pas 4 years? Just asking.)
Two opinion pieces from Friday make strong and compelling arguments to urge the President and what Republican support remains for possible victory to hold firm.
Mario Loyola, writing at National Review Online, succinctly summarizes where we stand in Iraq:
Just weeks into the decisive counteroffensive of the war, we are breaking the back of enemy resistance across that central third of Iraq that was always the focus of the war. Thousands of insurgents have been captured and hundreds killed; the Shiite death-squads have been overawed, and have gone largely into hiding; the al Qaeda leadership is being annihilated before our eyes; and whole tribes — formerly bitter enemies of the Coalition — are coming over to our side wholesale, swelling the ranks of the Iraqi security forces. Anbar province, which just months ago was thought an unassailable base for al Qaeda, is fast becoming an unassailable pillar of the new Iraqi state.That surge, the new counterinsurgency strategy led by GEN Petraeus, is showing great progress in achieving security objectives and laying a real groundwork for the political salvation of the Iraqi experiment in Democracy.
(AP) WASHINGTON As if the insurgency in Iraq and the fight against terrorism wasn't enough, U.S. diplomats are now struggling with a new threat: menacing "killer" wasps that have infested areas around the State Department's headquarters.
Large numbers of the fearsome looking insects, which can grow to about two inches, are congregating in the vicinity of State's Harry S. Truman building and causing distress to employees, according to an internal memorandum obtained by The Associated Press
Giant NWO Lizards unleashed are Eating and Terrorizing Amerikans
Pet owners in Cape Coral, Florida are being warned to keep a close eye on their animals. Recently monitor lizards have been appearing more often in Cape Coral, and some believe they're eating cats.
Have we all resorted to Weapons of Mass Animals?
I doubt it, I just think the animals want to dominate the world.
At 3:00 EDT, some members of the band Drowning Pool will join us on SpouseBUZZ Talk Radio to discuss their performances for our troops in Iraq, Kuwait and Seoul as part of their USO tour, their "This is for the Soldiers" campaign and their affection for the military. You can call in and ask questions of the band. Details here.
UPDATE: I've just been informed that the entire band will join us at 3:00 (in 25 minutes). You can click here to listen live.
"We need a surge of facts." That's good. Really good....
Taliban hurting and killing kids (gee, that is something new), follow up on the censorship case, banking, food and PRT in Helmand - all here.
By now, many have taken in The Washington Post editorial today, describing “wishful thinking” on both sides of the latest debate over our efforts in Iraq. The Post offers helpfully:
If American men and women were dying in July in a clearly futile cause, it would indeed be immoral to wait until September to order their retreat. But given the risks of withdrawal, the calculus cannot be so simple. The generals who have devised a new strategy believe they are making fitful progress in calming Baghdad, training the Iraqi army and encouraging anti-al-Qaeda coalitions. Before Congress begins managing rotation schedules and ordering withdrawals, it should at least give those generals the months they asked for to see whether their strategy can offer some new hope.TigerHawk, noting the Post’s editorial, suggests an apparent advantage for advocates of retreat:
The advocates of retreat have more supporters because they are asking that we take a risk in return for a certain benefit -- fewer American casualties and lower costs today. The retreatists also have more credibility than the Bush administration, which has made one incorrect prediction after another since before the war began.In fairness to the rest of TigerHawk’s assessment, he also speculates as to whether supporters of the war were right to entrust the effort to President Bush.
The problem, of course, is that retreat also allows for the possibility of genuine catastrophe, not just in Iraq but in the region. That risk has to be weighed against the costs of continuing the fight, which after four years are pretty well-defined. We know that compared to our national income and population, the costs of remaining in Iraq are relatively low. In both human and financial terms, Iraq has been and will probably continue to be an inexpensive war for America to shoulder.1
1 Total defense spending, including Iraq, remains a much smaller proportion of GDP than it was even during the 1980s, much less the height of the Cold War. Casualties remain low, even including the seriously wounded. Yes, it is "stretching" our military, but only because in the recent reorganization of our military we guessed the next war would look like the Gulf War rather than Vietnam or the Philippines. We could fix that, and should.
Other voices have joined in expressing similar cautions about a “precipitous withdrawal” from Iraq, or the dire consequences that follow there from, but often from the same set of assumptions that Iraq is a disaster, there’s a native-grown (rather than externally provoked or potential) civil war, and that we have failed in our efforts until recently.
I challenge these assumptions as largely ignorant, political motivated, naïve, or ill-informed. Iraq was never the mess the media made it out to be, we have had stunning successes, even in Iraq politically, and our enemies grow more and more desperate every day. This is all before one takes into account the very significant progress resulting from surge operations and a full fledged assault against Al Qaeda in Iraq.
There’s a kind of backwash of reflection going on in some quarters, where one could otherwise reliably count on to criticism of President Bush, every office and workstation of his administration, or supported public policy. One wonders if all these sober reflections are merely eyewash for a much hoped for “Grand Bargain” whereby the President surrenders his will (and integrity) in some vain hope for a constructive way out of the “mess that is Iraq.”
National Public Radio (NPR) has been running an ongoing series on service, and the latest two installments have touched on mandatory national service, which would include (but not be limited to) a potential draft, and military service at a time of war.
In the latter, NPR’s Morning Edition ran a piece today, annotated as follows:
Army Ranks See Imbalance in Iraq War SacrificeI guess an “abstract,” if that’s what you’d call this, can’t possibly capture the entirety of a larger whole, but this seems a selective characterization of a quite remarkable interview. You should listen to the whole thing, available at NPR.
Morning Edition, July 12, 2007 • Army Maj. Gen. Mark Hertling, Commander of the 1st Armored Division, which is soon to deploy to Iraq, has two sons who are Army officers and have served in Iraq. Hertling says many in the military are recognizing, if not resenting, a growing imbalance of sacrifice in the war in Iraq.
Interviewer Steve Inskeep started off his portrait by contrasting the perspective of Hertling’s wife back in 2003 and now, and asked her if she feels any different now versus then. She carefully reflected that it is harder to relate, and shared the example of a conversation about what products to use for lawn care. She remarked that concerns (for a military family) are different.
Inskeep really did an exceptional job in this interview, he drew out of Hertling and his wife an honest and engaging portrait of this family, who together have sacrificed so much, and still have so much at potential risk.
Inskeep used the example of his own fatherly concern for a young daughter, and contrasted that with what Hertling and his wife must experience with his sons, both now commissioned officers, when they deploy to Iraq.
Hertling’s wife has had to endure the deployment of Hertling or either of his two grown sons to Iraq for the all of the past 4 years, with only a 3 month respite. Mrs. Dadmanly described her won version of that experience something like this:
“Soldiers, you know when you’re in danger, and when you’re [relatively] safe. We families don’t know. For us, we worry for the entire time you’re gone. Even when we talk to you on the phone, or email or instant message, if we don’t actually hear the booms, we can hear the stress and concern in you. You can’t hide it that well, at least not all the time.”(For more commentary on NPR's pieces on sacrifice, and some further thoughts on military service, read more at Dadmanly.)
On a related note:
Article 99—Misbehavior before the enemy
Any member of the armed forces who before or in the presence of the enemy—Sometimes you gotta wonder about folks that would so willingly consign millions of innocents to a brand of brutality that gives even the most hardened of warriors pause. And to do so when you alone have the power to prevent such medieval viciousness all under the guise of claimed "support" just makes you look askance at such people and ask "Who ARE these people?"
(1) runs away;
(2) shamefully abandons, surrenders, or delivers up any command, unit, place, or military property which it is his duty to defend;
(3) through disobedience, neglect, or intentional misconduct endangers the safety of any such command, unit, place, or military property;
(4) casts away his arms or ammunition;
(5) is guilty of cowardly conduct;
(8) willfully fails to do his utmost to encounter, engage, capture, or destroy any enemy troops, combatants, vessels, aircraft, or any other thing, which it is his duty so to encounter, engage, capture, or destroy;
shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.
Sometimes you just gotta wonder...
The International Herald Tribune's Choe Sang-hun has a must read article about the life of a former North Korean political prisoner in the notorious Camp No. 14:
Shin, now 24, was a political prisoner by birth. From the day he was born in 1982 in Camp No. 14 in Kaechon until he escaped in 2005, Shin had known no other life. Guards beat children, tortured grandparents and, in cases like Shin’s, executed family members. But Shin said it did not occur to him to hate the authorities. He assumed everyone lived this way.
He had never heard of Pyongyang, the capital city 90 kilometers, or 55 miles, to the south, or even of Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader.
"I didn’t know about America, or China or the fact that the Korean Peninsula was divided and there was a place called South Korea," he said. "I thought it was natural that I was in the camp because of my ancestors’ crime, though I never even wondered what that crime was. I never thought it was unfair."
Make sure you read the rest of this defector's chilling accounts of pure evil here.
The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point is sponsoring a "National Security Essay Contest" on "Can you deter al-Qa'ida?" (well, actually, the question is ""How can the U.S. credibly and ethically deter adherents of extremist religious ideologies from engaging in terrorist activity?") -
Essays will be judged on scholarly rigor, creativity and innovation. Authors are encouraged to be interdisciplinary in their thinking. The author of the essay judged by the CTC Faculty and Senior Fellows to be the best will receive a $5,000 research grant.Link here
Entries should be postmarked no later than 1 September 2007 and mailed in hard-copy format with a copy of the author’s curriculum vitae to:
Combating Terrorism Center
National Security Strategy Essay Contest
United States Military Academy
West Point, NY 10996
The members of the band Drowning Pool are staunch supporters of our troops. Currently, they're working on a campaign to make sure that mental health resources are more readily available to our troops returning from combat zones. Our troops love these guys. Check out the new vid below, which features our troops.
For more on the story, see here. I have much more to add about this band and their cause, but I'm in the middle of a PCS move, so it will have to wait. For now, enjoy the music. I'm off to pack more stuff....
I once said, "I have never been to war, but I have sent a child to war." It's an elite club... and today, I am welcoming a new member to The Club... at Some Soldier's Mom
I'm sure Ms Cooney is feeling very loved because Andi welcomed her earlier this week...
(I corrected the links... sorry!)
Some thoughts on what to do about the seemingly never-ending crisis involving getting food to Somalia by ship here:
Well, hand-wringing ain't going to get it done. What's needed are escorts, convoys and probably armed guard forces for any WFP shipping... There are enough small, fast, suitable ships available to handle escorting food ships to Somalia- and they don't have to be U.S. ships to do the job. Perhaps if the U.S. would agree to pay the costs of using Dutch or South African or Indian or Pakistani frigates, corvettes or whatever it could come to pass.
Ship shown is from the South African Navy, as found here.
I get email... and it seems Maj. Gen. Lynch of the 3ID has ruffled the feathers of a unit in his AO that would like to remind him that they have been there fighting the fight for quite some time...
The lack of Iraqi security forces remains a pressing issue for Maj Gen Lynch. There is "a significant shortage of Iraqi security forces," particularly police, he said. The Arab Jabour region has essentially been ignored by the Iraqi government and Coalition forces for the past three years, and the local police collapsed. The rebuilding of the local security forces and the movement of federal security forces into the region will take time.
The soldier's...ummm, "response" over at Some Soldier's Mom
Natan Sharansky opines in the WaPo
Following in the footsteps of George Bernard Shaw, Walter Duranty and other Western liberals who served as willing dupes for Joseph Stalin, some members of the human rights community are whitewashing totalitarianism.
Mr Sharansky's use of the phrase 'some members of humans the rights community' is somewhat generous.
The truth is that in totalitarian regimes, there are no human rights. Period. The media do not criticize the government. Parliaments do not check executive power. Courts do not uphold due process. And human rights groups don't file reports.
By consistently ignoring the fundamental moral divide that separates societies in which people are slaves from societies in which people are free, some human rights groups undermine the very cause they claim to champion.All done!
An idea by a Hollywood actor just started the innovations that created an important warfare area, as set out here and at the links therein.
And that thing above? The CIGAR.
Just as a data point, the most recent issue of Proceedings had a big obit spread on Halberstam that was a sloppy wet kiss to a 'dear friend' of the editor.
The LCDR Blue Angel who also died that month got a small note around page 78.
Just so's you know where the layout and editorial priorities lie.
This part of America will always be with us. Time to work on the awards citation...
Steven Zegrean, 51, reportedly an out-of-work painter who is estranged from his family, opened fire in the casino, wounding four people, authorities said. He was reloading his 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun when he was tackled by off-duty law enforcement officers, two military men and casino security officers, said Koenig, a former public safety officer from Ballwin, Mo.Bravo Zulu guys.
Las Vegas police spokesman Bill Cassell said Zegrean was taken down with the assistance of National Guardsman Justin Lampert of Crosby, N.D.; Navy reservist David James of Jacksonville, Fla.; and brothers Robert and Paul Ura, special agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, among others.
Halberstam, Sheehan, and Karnow inadvertently caused enormous damage to the American effort in South Vietnam—making them the most harmful journalists in American history. The leading American journalists in Vietnam during 1963.......Most of the information they passed on was false or misleading, owing in part to their heavy reliance on a Reuters stringer named Pham Xuan An who was actually a secret Communist agent.
One has to wonder how much of the information coming out of Iraq is being provided by stringers working for the 'other' side. Saddams buddies studied Vietnam closely.
From Michael Yon's latest dispatch:
Since my reporting of the massacre at the al Hamari village, many readers at home have asked how anyone can know that al Qaeda actually performed the massacre. The question is a very good one, and one that I posed from the first hour to Iraqis and Americans while trying to ascertain facts about the killings.
Speaking through an American interpreter, Lieutenant David Wallach who is a native Arabic speaker, the Iraqi official related how al Qaeda united these gangs who then became absorbed into “al Qaeda.” They recruited boys born during the years 1991, 92 and 93 who were each given weapons, including pistols, a bicycle and a phone (with phone cards paid) and a salary of $100 per month, all courtesy of al Qaeda. These boys were used for kidnapping, torturing and murdering people.
At first, he said, they would only target Shia, but over time the new al Qaeda directed attacks against Sunni, and then anyone who thought differently. The official reported that on a couple of occasions in Baqubah, al Qaeda invited to lunch families they wanted to convert to their way of thinking. In each instance, the family had a boy, he said, who was about 11 years old. As LT David Wallach interpreted the man’s words, I saw Wallach go blank and silent. He stopped interpreting for a moment. I asked Wallach, “What did he say?” Wallach said that at these luncheons, the families were sat down to eat. And then their boy was brought in with his mouth stuffed. The boy had been baked. Al Qaeda served the boy to his family.
The whole thing HERE
Be not too discouraged, for Michael also reports on PROGRESS, SUCCESS and the now happy smiling children of Baqubah...
Floating physical barriers preventing or slowing water-borne intruders are valuable, if properly deployed. There is some controversy about the Navy acquisition of some such barriers, see here. See also here.
Creating “space” around our Navy bases is also vital so that short-range weapons are not as great a threat. See here.
So, how much do you dismiss this missive from the The Daily Telegraph?
"We are 45 doctors and we are determined to undertake jihad and take the battle inside America.Why pick on Mayport and the Navy? If you think about it - if you wanted to strike the US military on US soil, what is the easiest to get to?
"The first target which will be penetrated by nine brothers is the naval base which gives shelter to the ship Kennedy." This is thought to have been a reference to the USS John F Kennedy, which is often at Mayport Naval Base in Jacksonville, Florida.
More importantly, are we ready for a no-warning, 30-50 knot target at 500 yards in area code 904 that looks like Joe Cracker from Oceanway going fishing? Good weekend pondering.
The replacement aircraft for the presidential helicopter - Marine 1 - successfully flew its maiden flight Tuesday.
Pinch says farewell to a warrior and leader here.
PRT! Freedom Watch from Bagram, Taliban denying they kidnapped someone or burned a school (huh, I mean WTF?) and something I sure hope isn't censorship... all here.
Our friend Chuck Z says he [used to] carry too much sh*t -- a complaint I heard regularly from my son and still hear from Our Guys in the Sandbox... So I'll bet y'all will get a kick out of this:
DoD Announces "Wearable Power" Prize Competition
The Director, Defense Research and Engineering, John Young today announced a public prize competition to develop a wearable electric power system for war fighters. The competition will take place in the fall of 2008 and the prizes are $1 million for first place, $500,000 for second place and $250,000 for third place.
The essential electronic equipment that dismounted warfighters carries today - radios, night vision devices, global positioning system - runs on batteries. This competition will gather and test the good ideas for reducing the weight of the batteries that service members carry. The prize objective is a wearable, prototype system that can power a standard warfighter's equipment for 96 hours but weighs less than half that of the current batteries carried. All components, including the power generator, electrical storage, control electronics, connectors and fuel must weigh four kilograms or less, including any attachments.
Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams in a final competitive demonstration planned for the fall of 2008. At this "wear-off," individuals or teams will demonstrate their prototype systems under realistic conditions. The top three competitors that demonstrate a complete, wearable system that produces 20 watts average power for 96 hours but weighs less than 4 kilograms (~8.8 lbs) will win the prizes.
A public information forum will be held in September in the Washington, D.C. area to brief potential competitors on the technical details, the competition rules, and qualification requirements. Competitors must register to participate in the prize program by Nov. 30, 2007. The competition is open for international participation; however the individual or team leader must provide proof of U.S. citizenship. Details on the forum, as well as contest registration and rules are posted on the Defense Research and Engineering Prize Web site http://www.dod.mil/ddre/prize .
But, ok... if the "new" device must be less than 8.8 lbs., someone please tell me what the current stuff weighs!
Friend of Milblogs Steve Schippert has a new article up discussing Pakistan's future.
I think he has some good points, providing an interesting counter to the Red Mosque attacks going on now. Exit question: If the Pakistan Ulema Council offers "Sword of Allah" status on Osama bin Laden, and bin Laden's declared war on the US, that means what with respect to the relations between the Ulema Council and the US government?
We get this nonsense
Paper With Strong Military Readership Calls for Iraq Pullout
The paper is The Olympian in Olympia, Wash. Nearby are Ft. Lewis (which has sent tens of thousands of troops to Iraq) and McCord Air Force Base. Daily circulation is about 32,000.
Olympia has a population of 44,000 people. While it is true that it is within commuting distance of Fort Lewis, Lakewood(pop 57,000) and Tacoma(pop 190,000) are closer and largercommunities.
Olympia http://www.theolympian.com/news/story/70634.html isn't known for being a "Military Cummunity", it is more famous for the antics of its city council.
via The Olympian
TACOMA - Olympia City Councilman TJ Johnson won't face charges for his role in protests Sunday against a military shipment at the Port of Tacoma bound for Iraq.
The Dominant Paper for the Fort Lewis area is "The News Tribune", with a circulation of 120,000 according to Wikipedia
There is this old joke about how people name their children "Fe ma le" because they saw it on their daughter's birth certificate... And I dare say that there must be thousands of people who named their children "anonymous" so that the government would never know who they are... and one of those "brave" people named anonymous left this comment yesterday -- on the 4th of July -- on my May 2007 "Still Hard to Be a Soldier's Mom" blog entry:
Yeah maybe they shouldn't going there because a psychopath and liar president tells them to go and fighting a useless war that already looks like Nam 2.But I guess people these days are too young and stupid and thinking they join the army to actually change something in good.I got some news:you will never change anything in that damn hellhole.... and for what,ohh yeah for "doing whats right"....pffft
So, dear "anonymous"... in case you or anyone else is wondering whether our guys in Iraq think they're doing what's right and whether it's "worth it" and whether they can change something for the better: take a look at this:
588 STRONG... re-enlisting... in a battle zone... and 161 who were not even born in the USA thinking this is a great country and willing to defend it... and fight for it... and a grateful Nation that said "Thank You!" with the greatest gift we can give Citizenship. The story HERE
And Blackfive has the B-roll video up... HERE
Received this email from Robert Stokely, father of Sergeant Michael Stokely who was KIA by IED near Yusufiyah south of Baghdad 16 Aug 2005:
We often hear this term: Freedom isn't Free. But, what does that really mean and if Freedom isn't Free, then what is the cost and who pays it?
The cost is watching someone you love go away for a long period of time where there is little contact as they endure the rigors and hardships of training.
The cost is watching someone you love serve for pay that doesn't always cover what it takes to live a standard of living most civilians enjoy and suffering a financial impact that can negatively alter a military family's prosperity for a lifetime.
The cost is deployment to combat.
The cost is a loved one leaving whole but coming home less than whole, physically, mentally or both.
The cost is a a loved one who never returns from a mission and is never found.
The cost is having to take another's life, even if they are the enemy, and living with that the rest of your life.
The cost is watching a close friend die, maybe even holding them in your arms, helpless to save them and living a life of remembering that moment and feeling guilty that it wasn't you who died instead of the close friend.
The cost is a family waiting and watching 24 / 7, hoping and praying as they watch daily newscasts about our military personnel dying.
The cost is a knock at the door no family wants but is a special privilege of sacrifice and if not borne by some, then who would bear it?
The cost is a lifetime of love.
Freedom isn't Free and the cost is high.
The Fourth of July is a special time to celebrate the freedoms we have, hard fought and won at a great cost. Well we all should enjoy this day, and every day we have to live free, for to do less would be to waste the high price paid that we might.
UPDATE: Greyhawk sends this picture from Iraq
Halfway down the trail to Hell,
In a shady meadow green
Are the Souls of all dead troopers camped,
Near a good old-time canteen.
And this eternal resting place
Is known as Fiddlers' Green.
Marching past, straight through to Hell
The Infantry are seen.
Accompanied by the Engineers,
Artillery and Marines,
For none but the shades of Cavalrymen
Dismount at Fiddlers' Green.
Though some go curving down the trail
To seek a warmer scene.
No trooper ever gets to Hell
Ere he's emptied his canteen.
And so rides back to drink again
With friends at Fiddlers' Green.
And so when man and horse go down
Beneath a saber keen,
Or in a roaring charge of fierce melee
You stop a bullet clean,
And the hostiles come to get your scalp,
Just empty your canteen,
And put your pistol to your head
And go to Fiddlers' Green.
Greyhawk responds to Mr Stokely:
If I had simply seen Mike's name and taken the picture myself it wouldn't be quite as cool a story as I'm about to tell. One of my guys was on a trip down south and this was likely taken at one of the fiyahs - they were waypoints on his trip. I'll try and find out for sure next time I talk to him. I first saw the photo myself today, and I can't even describe the chill I got on seeing Mike's name, especially after seeing your 4th of July message just yesterday. I was just looking through a shared computer drive here for some pictures I could send my wife and kids and that was the first one I saw. The guy who took the picture has no connection to the 48th, doesn't know about my web site, and probably has never heard of any of the guys whose names are recorded on that memorial. Such tributes are all too common here, so common that it doesn't occur to most people to take a picture. He was just passing through, probably wanted a momento of another place where he stopped along the way.
If you believe in such coincidences, that's a pretty amazing one in my book. But that chill I mentioned above was mostly because some things are just too coincidental to be purely coincidental.
Both Mahmudiyah and Yusifiyah are now receiving a lot of attention. When you hear of the battle for the Baghdad belts, they are two of the key points. The 3ID has the lead in that part of Iraq - though now in Iraq the Division is referred to as Multi-National Division Central (MND-C) and is basically comprised of most of the surge Brigades announced last Winter.
The last of us got here in late May, the batlle wasn't truly joined until mid June, and though I doubt you are hearing much of it we are taking it to the enemy hot and heavy in this AO - so Georgia's own are here carrying on.
Mr Stokely comments on Mudville
...Fourth was a good day, although bittersweet. While some blame in bitterness, our family has chosen to remember with honor, and pride, the life we shared, and that was given so willingly for this country....
We first heard from Robert Stokely here.
Happy Independence Day!!
I'm celebrating Independence Day over at Some Soldier's Mom...
and I thank Sgt. Mike Stokley and all those before him for this opportunity to celebrate another Independence Day... and thanking Robert for reminding us all.
Gen Rick Lynch on the 3ID... in case you missed it in the MSM... sarcasm>
The 3rd Infantry Division has been all over the news as your soldiers are aggressively taking the fight to the enemy in Operation Marne Torch. They are expelling Al Qaida from a safe haven, and they are capturing insurgents to make the population secure.
But the fight is not just theirs; it is shared with the Iraqis. Everywhere Task Force Marne operates, the Iraqi soldiers are strong and their leaders are stronger.
Every time I meet an Iraqi leader, they are doing the right thing. Our division is paired with the 6th Iraqi Army Division and the 8th Iraqi Army Division - who are always focused on doing the right thing. Their commanders are magnificent Iraqis, not Shia, not Sunni. They lead soldiers to do the right thing.
Operations are joint, patrol bases are shared, and planning is done in coordination with the Iraqis.
When I visit our joint patrol bases, I can't tell which building belongs to the Americans and which building belongs to the Iraqis. Iraqi company commanders are fighting alongside American company commanders, performing the same functions under the same responsibilities.
Last week, I met a young Iraqi lieutenant who had been in the Army for four years. Because his enlistment paperwork was lost, he was never promoted or received a pay increase during those four years. When I asked him what he was going to do, he told me he was going to keep being a soldier - his country needed him and he felt honored serving alongside our American troops.
Be sure to read all of it HERE
When you think you have a long hard day...
This article is a brief synopsis of a day in the life of a US Army Forward Support Medical-Evacuation Team (FSMT) in Iraq. The team has sixteen soldiers and three helicopters. The soldiers are eight pilots, four mechanics, and four medics. The pilots are all commissioned officers or warrant officers. The mechanics and medics are enlisted personnel; mostly sergeants. The flying machines are Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawks. Each can carry up to six litter patients, or four litter patients plus four ambulatory patients. In the summer heat of Iraq, where 110F is the mid-day norm, the Hawks fly at about 130 knots (twice as fast as your family car on the highway).
The duty cycle for our team is 1st Up, 2nd Up, Chase, Off. Each of these is a 24-hour period, so we are on duty for 72 hours then off for 24 hours. Off is not really off as we have housekeeping chores and home improvement projects going all the time. Currently, we're filling and stacking sand bags around our housing trailers to protect us from near-miss indirect fire attacks such as incoming mortars and rockets. The Anti-Iraqi forces lob a few of these missiles at the base every week.
Read the rest at Some Soldier's Mom...
Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich., and Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass., were declared missing-captured June 27.
From a WSJ Online Opinion Page
Most Britons understand that terrorists wage war on them and their freedoms--and are not, per the fashionable left, voicing opposition to British policy in their own way. This weekend's plotters intended to kill partygoers at popular nightclubs in London's West End and school children departing Glasgow for summer holiday. These cities are thriving, cosmopolitan, tolerant and open--which is a main reason the Islamists want to bomb them.
On Thursday, his first full day in office, the Prime Minister sought to distance himself from just-retired Tony Blair's unpopular commitment to the "global war on terror" by unveiling a cabinet with prominent Blair critics. But Mr. Brown appears to be a quick study. Yesterday, in an interview with the BBC, he was nothing if not resolute: "We will not yield, we will not be intimidated, and we will not allow anyone to undermine our British way of life." Welcome to the fight.
Of course, following the developments in the U.K. -- more suspected VBIEDs... a physician ('first, do no harm") trained in Iraq under arrest...
One of our milbloggers, Justice Soldier, who's preparing to come home from Iraq reports:
Tragedy and fate have dealt a tough blow to one from our Brigade. I was privileged with the opportunity to get to know one of the best officers in the Red Bulls. I quickly grew to respect and admire Capt. Carta during my time on Anaconda. I was flattered when he told me on several occasions he “wanted to make me a Wildcat”. Having volunteered to work a few shifts in their TOC and playing softball on their team, I saw the love he held true for each of his men. Capt. Carta is a great officer and a great man. After arriving home from this long deployment, his wife and two children met him at the airport. On the way home, tragedy struck when strong cross winds drove their vehicle off the road, causing it to flip repeatedly, claiming the life of his 8 year old daughter. The news reports his wife is still hospitalized with her injuries. I am deeply saddened at his loss and pray for his family during this terrible time. It is such a shock to hear of such a terrible event on the way home from the airport- the happiest moment turns to the worst imaginable. A link to the story is here.
Life is so unfaIr. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family.
On his submarine's battle flag was the symbol of a railroad train which his crew "sank."
He was picked "least likely to succeed."
He was awarded the Medal of Honor and four Navy Crosses.
He was a great motivator.
And he has left us.
GH sends an email to Glenn Reynolds from Iraq.
Not to be outdone by various Shiite claims...the usual Sunni suspectschime in
The Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni political faction in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's cabinet, published a statement on Sunday alleging that more than 350 people have been killed by a US military operation in Baquba to hunt down al-Qaeda-affiliated members.
But alas, Reuters ruins the whole thing with a single headline
Iraq's June civilian death toll down sharply
Michael Gordon is a NYT reporter who is in the battle. Gordon will be an important resource. ... From what I've read so far, Gordon has been very accurate and on target.Strategy Page:
When pressed, a journalist or editor will dismiss the opinions of the troopsYon again, emphasis added:
(of all ranks), because they are "too close" to see "the big picture." For
the same reason, reporters who send back material agreeing with the troops,
find their stuff twisted into an acceptable shape, or not used at all.
Michael Gordon from New York Times is still slugging it out, and his portions are accurate in the co-authored story, "Heavy Fighting as US Troops Squeeze Insurgents in Iraqi City." (Long title.)Gordon does present an outdstanding and detailed account:
Fighting was heavy in parts of Baquba on Wednesday as American troops continued to squeeze a large section of the city in an effort to rid it of insurgents believed to be part of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.But in that story you can easily see the point where Gordon's report ends and the spliced-on efforts of the second reporter begin. Her quotes from unnamed officials and her use of a "apparent violence meter" provide the "twist", in case you start actually cheering for our guys.
Soldiers moved block by block through the city, the capital of Diyala Province, clearing houses and removing roadside bombs. As they pressed in, American troops discovered a medical aid station for insurgents — another sign that the Qaeda fighters had prepared for an intense fight. The hospital, uncovered by troops from the Fifth Battalion, 20th Infantry, was equipped with oxygen tanks, defibrillators, generators and surgical equipment, as well as pieces of insurgent propaganda.
Elsewhere in Diyala Province, attacks continued on checkpoints and civilians. At least six civilians were killed, two of them by fire from allied troops, according to an Interior Ministry official in the province.
South of Baghdad, in Shiite-dominated areas, violence appeared to be on the rise.
Same story, different stories.
U.S . kills 26 militants in BaghdadThe Associated Press:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. troops killed about 26 suspected militants in Baghdad's Sadr City on Saturday in one of the fiercest clashes in the Shi'ite stronghold since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Residents of the east Baghdad slum district, a bastion of fiery Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mehdi Army militia, said the fighting lasted six hours and involved helicopter-fired missile strikes.
The U.S. military said American forces staged two separate raids into Sadr City targeting militants suspected of close ties to "Iranian terror networks" and who were responsible for bringing Iranian weapons into Iraq.
"Coalition Forces killed an estimated 26 terrorists and detained 17 suspected secret cell terrorists during the two operations," a U.S. military statement said. There were no civilian casualties, the U.S. military said separately.
A witness at a Sadr City hospital said nine civilians were wounded. Other residents said several cars were burned and they insisted all the people killed in the clashes were civilians.
U.S. raids Baghdad slum; 26 Iraqis die
BAGHDAD - American soldiers rolled into Baghdad's Sadr City slum on Saturday in search of Iranian-linked militants and as many as 26 Iraqis were killed in what a U.S. officer described as "an intense firefight."
"The Iraqi government totally rejects U.S. military operations... conducted without a pre-approval from the Iraqi military command," al-Maliki said in a statement released by his office. "Anyone who breaches the military command orders will face investigation."
"Everyone who got shot was shooting at U.S. troops at the time," said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, the spokesman. "It was an intense firefight."
Seventeen suspected militants also were detained in the operation, which consisted of two separate raids, the U.S. military said in a statement.
Witnesses said U.S. forces rolled into their neighborhood before dawn and opened fire without warning.
Hours after the raids, a funeral procession snaked through the streets of Sadr City's Orfali district. Three coffins were hoisted atop cars.
One resident who goes by the nickname of Um Ahmed, or "mother of Ahmed," stood outside her home as mourners passed by.
"We are being hit while we are peacefully sleeping in our houses. Is that fair?" she cried. The woman gave only her nickname, fearing reprisal.
U.S. troops have been mystified at how differently the war they fight in Iraq is portrayed by the U.S. media back home.
...the Japanese psychological warfare effort during World War II included radio broadcasts that could be picked up by American troops. Popular music was played, but the commentary (by one of several English speaking Japanese women) always hammered away on the same points;
1 Your President (Franklin D Roosevelt) is lying to you.
2 This war is illegal.
3 You cannot win the war.
The troops are perplexed and somewhat amused that their own media is now sending out this message.
When pressed, a journalist or editor will dismiss the opinions of the troops (of all ranks), because they are "too close" to see "the big picture." For the same reason, reporters who send back material agreeing with the troops, find their stuff twisted into an acceptable shape, or not used at all. Historians will have a good time with all this.
This is all so predictable:
The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog has clarified how to monitor the shutdown of North Korea’s nuclear facility and it is now up to Pyongyang and its five negotiating partners to decide on a date, an official said on Saturday.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) official Olli Heinonen said negotiations in North Korea had achieved an understanding on how to monitor the sealing and shutdown of the Yongbyon facility.
But he stressed the timing of the long-negotiated shutdown needed consultation between North Korea and other countries in six-party talks to iron out the details.
"The next logical step is that they talk with each other and agree on technical arrangements. The IAEA doesn’t have any role on that," Heinonen, IAEA Nuclear Safeguards Director told reporters in Beijing after several days of talks in Pyongyang.
What is so interesting about this is that there is already a date set for the reactor shutdown that was agreed upon in the February 13th agreement between the US and North Korea. In the deal North Korea agreed to shutdown their reactor 60 days from signing the deal. April 13th came and passed with no signs of North Korea shutting down their reactor without receiving first $25 million dollars in money frozen by the US Treasury Department in a Macau bank due to the money being obtained through counterfeiting and money laundering. The return of the money was never in the original agreement and was something North Korea added after signing the February 13th deal.
The US government, desperate to cut a deal with Kim Jong-il, bent over backwards to return Kim Jong-il’s ill gotten money, but no banks wanted to do business with North Korea; that is how dirty his money is. The US government was so desperate they asked the US Wachovia bank to launder North Korea’s money for him. Unsurprisingly Wachovia declined. So the US government was left to use the US Federal Reserve to launder his money through a Russia based bank. Even with the Federal Reserve laundering the money the Russian bank was still very hesitant about accepting the deal. Incredibly the US government went through all this hassle to launder money for Kim Jong-il and circumvent US counterfeiting laws in order to meet a demand by North Korea that was not even in the original deal. Even more incredible is the fact that the US government agreed to these demands due to a vague promise from North Korea to use the money to buy humanitarian aid. The odds of Kim Jong-il using this money to buy humanitarian aid is about equal with the odds of him dismantling his nuclear program, which is none.
It didn’t take a prophet to know that when this agreement was signed in February, Kim Jong-il had no intention of keeping it. At some point when Kim Jong-il cannot get any more concessions from the US and other six party talk members he will then shut down his reactor. This current ploy for more six party talks is just a tool for further delay and to test the waters to see how desperate the US is to get him to comply. The North Koreans know the US government is desperate for a deal and will thus demand a premium price for any concessions on their part. To the North Koreans shutting down the reactor is not a big deal because they can always kick out the IAEA inspectors and restart the reactor any time they want. They have already done it once before.
Now getting them to dismantle their nuclear program is going to be the impossible part of the February 13th deal. It is unlikely North Korea will admit to their secret uranium program as well as it is totally unlikely they will actually dismantle the nuclear weapons they currently possess. A second goal of the North Korean strategy for using the six party talks is to buy time. The more the North Koreans delay the more time they buy for their scientists and researchers to further develop their infant nuclear program and improve the capabilities of their tactical ballistic missile program. In just the past few month the North Koreans have been conducting regular missile tests of their newly developed missiles. Once the North Koreans have developed their nuclear and missile programs to a level they feel would ensure the regime’s survival from external attack they will then begin to implement the policy of Strategic Disengagement.
So why is the US government so desperate to keep this deal at all costs? The reason is to keep the myth of "progress" alive. The Bush administration is desperate for a non-military foreign policy success in order to bolster their diplomacy credentials once the eventual showdown with Iran over their nuclear program materializes. So in order to keep the myth of a "diplomacy success" alive, the Bush administration is willing to appease the North Koreans and mortgage the North Korean problem for the next US presidential administration to handle. It is 1994 all over again and this time Jimmy Carter wasn’t even needed.
However, the big difference from 1994 is that when North Korea decides to act up again under the next US presidential administration to test and see what they can get out of them, they will be playing with a much stronger hand with possession of nuclear weapons and a tactical ballistic missile program to deliver them. The payoff next time for appeasement will come at a much higher cost.All done!