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Many readers here might travel to visit the troops in Kuwait some day. And in planning such a trip they might wonder "after having my picture taken with the troops and eating in the DFAC, what else can I do while I'm there?"
There are more options than you might think, and regardless of your "personality type" there's probably something to do that you'll consider "fun". With the help of Barack Obama (Jul '08) and Sarah Palin (Jul '07) we proudly offer the following suggestions, and hope you'll consider them while making your decision.
...I might have a chance to meet famous musicians. They were right!
WASHINGTON — The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, has given his military superiors and Defense Secretary Robert Gates his initial recommendation on when to resume a U.S. troop withdrawal and at what pace, a senior military officer close to the process said Friday.
The officer, who spoke to The Associated Press only on condition that he not be identified, said Petraeus was still analyzing the situation and had not yet submitted a final set of recommendations. That is expected to happen within the next week or so, but there is no firm deadline. [emphasis added]
What is gained by this leak immediately before the Republican convention? Not sure it was a sanctioned leak, but sure takes the wind out of the "no end in sight" crowd... Story here...
Here's the full late-2006 "surge" question you may have seen quoted (in whole or in part - but it's so brief I can't imagine why folks would want to edit it down) elsewhere:
ABM: We've lost a lot of Alaska's military members to the war in Iraq. How do you feel about sending more troops into battle, as President Bush is suggesting?That interview is dated early December, 2006 - just after the 2006 elections but with the announcement of the "surge" a month away - it was just one possible action among many (an "exit plan" being another) at the time.
Palin: I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq. I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place; I want assurances that we are doing all we can to keep our troops safe. Every life lost is such a tragedy. I am very, very proud of the troops we have in Alaska, those fighting overseas for our freedoms, and the families here who are making so many sacrifices.
I've seen that quote reduced to "I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq" - very much reminiscent of the chopping done to the McCain "100 years" remark. I'm not sure how many State governors have made memorable comments on Iraq. I'm not sure how many would use the other Party's talking points ("exit plan" in this example) in doing so. I don't fault Governors for answering questions, and if they choose to do so by pointing out the difference between State and Federal priorities (or demanding the assurances that Palin does above) I won't fault them for that either. Likewise if they - like so many others - have changed their opinions over the past two years (this interview is that old) I'm okay with that, too. Beyond all that, actions speak louder than words.
The full interview requires registration, covers other two year old topics, and can be found here. Other early national buzz on Palin centers on the "reformer" topic, with a few other mentions of her "libertarian" leanings based on a veto of a bill limiting some rights of same-sex couples. Both are mentioned below.
ABM: Why did you decide to run for office?I think comparing that to this equally informative piece on Biden - while more revealing of personality than head to head match up on issues - is a worthwhile exercise. All done!
Palin: Alaskans desired a change; you could feel it. The fact that Alaskans were looking for a positive change was evident to members of the public. Observations were being made about ethical lapses in government, and the public's trust being eroded. I had a couple of opportunities to speak out for Alaskans on ethical issues, and thought that I could offer another choice in the governor's race. I've always been committed to trust and transparency in state government, which I believed, and other Alaskans obviously believed, was lacking in the (Murkowski) administration.
ABM: You've only been in office a short time, but already, you've 'undone' a number of actions that former Gov. Murkowski put into place before leaving-for example, the Lynn Canal contract, and 11th-hour appointments to several state boards. Why did you feel that it was important to act on these issues so quickly?
Palin: Governor Murkowski had a 19 percent approval rating in his own party-it's pretty evident that something was wrong. And when something's wrong, it means actions have been taken that have led the public to distrust the administration. Actions which are pretty obvious, such as appointing your son-in-law to a post in the waning hours of the administration, and letting a contract on a road that is not supported by the public, or by the department who will be letting the contract. We had to undo these actions to get off on the right foot-we needed to let the public know that we are not afraid to tackle the issues that have led to their distrust.
ABM: You recently vetoed the bill that sought to block the state from giving public employee benefits, such as health insurance, to same-sex couples. This is despite the fact that you disagree with the state Supreme Court order that directs the state to offer benefits to same-sex partners of state employees. How would you like to see this issue handled?
Palin: I see this as a legislative issue. It was the prior administration's issue, but they didn't handle it well, so it got handed to us. There was not a lot of cooperation between the former administration and the Legislature on this issue. What came from their Legislature, their proposed solution, was unconstitutional. We just followed the constitution and did what was legally necessary. I believe that this issue should return to the Legislature, and we will work with them to find a solution. This could be an advisory vote, put before Alaska voters in April, which asks voters whether they want to see a constitutional amendment to more fully define what marriage is. In 1998, voters defined marriage in a traditional way, as between a man and a woman, and I think most people believed that inherent in that vote was that benefits presently supplied to couples would be exclusively supplied to married couples. If there is a future challenge in court, an advisory vote might allow the Legislature to have the confidence to put the constitutional amendment question to voters in 2008.
Here - or in the continue reading section below - is a story on a mom seeing her son off to Basic at Benning. I'm sure if you've read one you've read 'em all, and even though this mom is the Governor of Alaska the story is familiar to us milblogger types. (In fact "one of us" is what ran through my mind while reading.)
I'm not trying to get into apples/oranges or one-upmanship here, but I think it's worth noting that Track Palin enlisted* after High School. Journalists aren't going to catch that distinction between him and Biden and McCain's sons** - or even McCain himself.
And I don't want to get into details of MOS/unit/mission here either, but I'm sure that's going to be on the TeeVee before the weekend is out. I'd hope not - likewise with Biden's son - but enterprising reporters is what they is and do what they do and people have a right to know, alluh akbar.
Added: To add a bit of perspective - at the time of this story - September 2007 - I (along with 160,000 other Americans in uniform) was in Iraq, General Petraeus hadn't yet delivered his report to congress, death tolls were still high, the consensus from mainstream media reports was that we were fighting a losing battle, and the conventional wisdom was that John McCain's support for the surge had cost him his political career - he was down in the polls and had no chance of winning the Republican nomination and could forget about the oval office. There was no New GI Bill (not even talk of it), congressmen (and others) were accusing troops in Iraq of slaughtering women and children, and Iraq Vets were getting a reputation in news media (and a spate of Hollywood "blockbusters") of being psychotic thugs with a host of other health problems who were being ignored by "the Army" and the VA. None of that was close to reality, of course, and "of course, we all knew all along the surge would work..." but it took a lot of guts (and/or faith) to enlist in September, 2007, and in many ways I'm sure it took even more to watch your 18 year old son do it.
*'Enlisted': John Kerry knows the difference: "You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
** Via Malclave, in comments: "One correction... only one of Sen. McCain's sons enrolled in Annapolis. The other in uniform, Jimmy McCain, enlisted in the Marines at 17."
Palin's son leaves for Army boot camp TRACK: Governor supports enlistment "for the right reasons."All done!
By STEVE QUINN
The Associated Press
Published: September 19th, 2007 06:57 AM
Last Modified: September 19th, 2007 05:47 PM
JUNEAU -- Gov. Sarah Palin's son, Track, left on Tuesday for infantry boot camp in Fort Benning, Ga.
The 18-year-old enlisted last week on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Track is the oldest of Palin's four children and her only son.
"I support my son's independence, and I am proud of his decision because he made it for the right reasons -- to serve his country," Palin said.
In July, Palin went to Kuwait where she visited the Alaska Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 297th Infantry, a unit that is made up of about 575 Alaska men and women.
She said she wanted an up-close look at the sacrifices made by Alaska-based troops in the Middle East so she accepted the offer of a two-day tour sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Ultimately, it may have been a closer look at what awaits Track.
Palin said she has come to terms with the idea that Track could be deployed next year to Iraq, Kuwait or Afghanistan, where thousands of U.S. troops are based.
Last week President Bush approved a gradual reduction of U.S. forces, which stand at the highest level of the war, about 168,000 troops.
"With this quasi draw down, there may be shorter deployments, which is encouraging for Track; in fact, that's encouraging for all of our troops," Palin said. "But more likely than not, Track will end up in the Middle East."
Since her son enlisted, Palin said, she has received several e-mails from women whose sons or daughters have either enlisted or are serving overseas.
While proud of their children's decision to enlist, they have not lost sight of the prospects of losing a loved one in the war.
"I certainly have thought about it; the mixed emotions we all feel will be something that binds us together," Palin said. "But we don't regret that our son or daughter has made this decision."
Track Palin joins Wasilla High classmate John Bates at Fort Benning. The Palin family threw the teens a party on Sunday evening.
Palin said the party was not a farewell, but a thank you for the young men's commitment to serve.
"We want the boys to know that we support them and we've got their backs," Palin said.
We're sitting around the house of Greyhawk's talking about all the political brouhaha, and our middle child makes an insightful prediction.
For demonstrating inspirational service and citizenship in founding Soldiers' Angels, Patti Patton-Bader received the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) 2008 James E. Van Zandt Citizenship Award last week at the VFW 109th National Convention in Orlando, Florida. Through Soldiers’ Angels, Patton-Bader has inspired hundreds of thousands of volunteers to display their citizenship by actively support American military personnel in this time of war. With over twenty different teams and programs addressing a variety of needs, the organization’s 200,000 members assist the deployed, families on the homefront, the wounded, and families of the fallen.
Patton-Bader sees the award as a testimony to the efforts and effectiveness of the volunteers she leads. “I am so appreciative that the VFW honored Soldiers’ Angels with this wonderful award, she said. “Each of our volunteers create ripples of kindness that add up to an ocean of greatness in support of our heroes, and it fills my heart that veterans know they are loved and appreciated.”
The Van Zandt Citizenship Award is given in recognition of selfless service and dedication that inspire Americans to better citizenship. The citation reads
Way to go Patti!
Okay, when Obama picked Biden we glanced at the veep candidate's position on the Patriot Act (he wrote it - Ashcroft stole it: "...the bill John Ashcroft sent up was my bill"), on Arabs, Persians, or whoever those people were who attacked us on 9/11 (America needs to show the Arab world that we're not bent on its destruction. "Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran," <...> Biden's admirers spin his undisciplined chatter as a kind of John McCain-esque straight talk), and on Iraq (split it into 3 countries).
So in fairness, now that McCain has made a choice, we should examine her positions on the same. But I got nothin'. I know she - like McCain and Biden - has a son who is going to serve (or already has) in Iraq, though unlike the elder statesmen, her son is a junior enlisted troop. And I just heard her praise McCain's unswerving support to Iraq, so there's that.
But since she's a newcomer to the national stage there aren't a whole lot of quotes available. So in an attempt to remain politically neutral, here's the official Obama response to McCain's pick: "Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency".
Veep debates will indeed be interesting. I have no idea how she (or anyone) will be able to respond off the cuff to the sort of unexpected verbal hand grenades the venerable Biden might launch (first guess: stunned look of confusion or disbelief) and I'm not sure if all the coaching in the world can prepare anyone for what might come. Should be fun to watch.
For what it's worth: McCain and Palin certainly looked more comfortable in their first public hug then Obama and Biden did. (But please don't take that as an endorsement of anyone or anything.)
A short time later, the Secret Service opened the door and President Bush walked in. I thought we might get to shake his hand as he went through. But instead, he walked up to my wife with his arms wide, pulled her in for a hug and a kiss, and said, "I wish I could heal the hole in your heart." He then grabbed me for a hug, as well as each of our sons. Then he turned and said, "Everybody out."
A few seconds later, the four of us were completely alone behind closed doors with the President of the United States and not a Secret Service agent in sight.
He said, "Come on, let's sit down and talk." He pulled up a chair at the side of the room, and we sat down next to him. He looked a little tired from his trip, and he noticed that his shoes were scuffed up from leaning over concrete barriers to shake hands and pose for photos. He slumped down the chair, completely relaxed, smiled, and suddenly was no longer the President - he was just a guy with a job, sitting around talking with us like a family member at a barbeque.
One of the somber moments was when he thanked us for the opportunity to meet, because he feels a heavy responsibility knowing that our son died because of a decision he made. He was incredibly humble, full of warmth, and completely without pretense. We were seeing the man his family sees.
We couldn't believe how long he was talking to us, but he seemed to be in no hurry whatsoever. In the end, he thanked us again for the visit and for the opportunity to get off his feet for a few minutes. He then said, "Let's get some pictures." The doors flew open, Secret Service and the White House photographer came in, and suddenly he was the President again. We posed for individual pictures as he gave each of us one of his coins, and then he posed for family pictures. A few more thank yous, a few more hugs, and he was gone.
The remarkable thing about the whole event was that he didn't have to see us at all. If he wanted to do more, he could've just given a quick handshake and said, "Thanks for your sacrifice." But he didn't - he put everything and everyone in his life on hold to meet privately with the family of a Private First Class who gave his life in the service of his country
Godspeed Spc. Shawn Murphy. Shawn 24, of Fort Bragg, N.C., was killed by a roadside bomb Dec. 10 in Baghdad.
Thoughts and prayers go out to all the families who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Thank you Mr. President for recognizing them.
HT: BlackFiveAll done!
Who would have guessed that Sen. John McCain would be beating the pants off of Sen. Barack Obama on the YouTube centric, political web-enabled battle space?
Anybody who knows anything about John Boyd’s conception of the OODA Loop, and knows that John McCain flew fighter jets.
Here’s the essential primer from the indispensable Bill Whittle:
Observe.Whittle is the finest of online essayists, and he’s worth your time, but for a shorter reference, see also the OODA Loop Wiki.
It’s a cycle. It’s a loop. It’s called by its inelegant acronym: The OODA loop.
Now here’s what blew my mind, as I am sure it blew John Boyd’s mind on a level I can not and will never fully comprehend:
The winner of these battles is not necessarily the fellow who makes the best decisions. More often than not, it’s the guy who makes the fastest decisions.
Agility. Speed. Precision. Lethality. Fingerspitzengefuhl: fingertip control.
McCain has gotten inside Obama’s OODA Loop. Before the worshipful coverage has barely hit its crest, McCain launches the Obama as Shallow Celebrity campaign. Before the Unity Set Piece has played itself out, McCain’s campaign is blasting away at the pounds of flesh the Clinton’s are exacting from Obama.
Biden picked as VP, and without a blink of a news cycle, Team McCain has clips available documenting all the disparaging things Biden said about Obama during his 3 second Presidential Campaign. Georgia, Rezko, Ayers, every news item that at all promises a hold on news attention, and McCain is out in front, Obama lagging and sagging behind.
Not only does the McCain campaign react instantly to every exploitable gaffe, emerging event, or unpleasantness that will damage Obama or enhance McCain, flooding the media space with generally high quality ads and videos, but now McCain plays Obama’s coronation day perfectly: McCain: Job Well Done, Barack.
McCain can afford to let it rest, while seemingly displaying the rarest of qualities: an appreciation of his opponent’s accomplishment. Because he knows he’s already won the OODA Loop.
John McCain is a fighter pilot who certainly knows Boyd’s OODA Loop. Nice to see he found how to apply OODA to running a Presidential Campaign.
(Via The Corner)
(Cross-posted at Dadmanly)
With transition of security to Iraqi Security Forces in Anbar Province, the Commandant is recommending more Marines out of Iraq and into Afghanistan.
I will never forget... I remember... so I'm inviting you to come...
Walk with us... Celebrate Freedom... and Remember... Together.
The National Freedom Walk
The tradition began with a walk in Washington DC, and the National ASY Freedom Walk continues. Now in its fourth year, the National ASY Freedom Walk draws people not only from the Washington metropolitan region, but from throughout the nation. Each person who walks has his own special reason and his own interesting story to tell. If you have a story you'd like to share, please let us know!
This year, on Sunday, September 7, the fourth-annual America Supports You National Freedom Walk will take place in Washington, DC. The National ASY Freedom Walk is free of charge and open to the public. You must register in advance to participate. Registration is easy and can be done online. But walking is not the only way you can support the cause. We're looking for volunteers to check registration, hand out t-shirts, support our walkers, and lend assistance to those in need. Find out more about what YOU can do to be a part of the America Supports You Freedom Walk.
America Supports You Freedom Walks come in many different shapes and sizes. Some feature governors and mayors, others have veterans and their families,and still others are organized and run by students and teachers. What they all have in common is people who care. If you are interested in participating in or establishing a walk in your community, this is the place for you.
The goal for 2008 is to have several America Supports You Freedom Walks in every state. The Freedom Walks will not be a platform to discuss the policy of the war, but will be a platform to reflect on the sacrifices of September 11, renew our commitment to freedom and to express our appreciation for the men and women who volunteer to serve in the military. This tradition ensures that America will never forget September 11th.
Come walk with us... Let us Remember... and Let Us Celebrate FREEDOM!
The Big 'L' Libertarians will love this one:
In the wake of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Biden did, in fact, champion an anti-terrorism bill similar to the one now before Congress (though it was, as he complains, badly watered down by anti-government conservatives and leftist civil libertarians). And Biden doesn't let you forget it. "I introduced the terrorism bill in '94 that had a lot of these things in it," he bragged to NBC's Tim Russert on September 30. When I spent the day with him later that week, Biden mentioned the legislation to me, and to several other reporters he encountered, no fewer than seven times. "When I was chairman in '94 I introduced a major antiterrorism bill--back then," he says in the morning, flashing a knowing grin and pausing for effect. (Never mind that he's gotten the year wrong.) Back in his office later that afternoon, he brings it up yet again. "I drafted a terrorism bill after the Oklahoma City bombing. And the bill John Ashcroft sent up was my bill."That October, 2001 New Republic article is worth reading in full. I'm not being facetious when I say that.
It includes this gem, too:
In fact, the only thing Biden likes better than reminding people about his anti-terrorism bill is reminding them that he predicted the September 11 attacks. On September 10 Biden delivered a foreign policy speech to the National Press Club complaining about the administration's fixation on missile defense. "The real threat comes to this country in the hold of a ship, the belly of a plane, or smuggled into a city in the middle of the night in a vial in a backpack," Biden said. So give the man credit. Just not as much as he's been claiming. "Literally as recently as yesterday, I spoke to the National Press Club and talked about the fact it is just as easy to fly from National Airport into the White House as it is to, you know, do the same thing in New York," Biden told ABC News. Unfortunately Biden said no such thing. His speech didn't mention National Airport or the White House--or any kamikaze scenario at all.A regular Nostradumass.
Whether or not you intend to vote for Obama, you must admit he's relatively young, intelligent, and black. Picking an experienced white moron as veep certainly balances the ticket in that regard.All done!
The month after the 9/11 attacks, The New Republic profiled Biden and caught this brainstorm:Maybe Israel then?At the Tuesday-morning meeting with committee staffers, Biden launches into a stream-of-consciousness monologue about what his committee should be doing, before he finally admits the obvious: "I'm groping here." Then he hits on an idea: America needs to show the Arab world that we're not bent on its destruction. "Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran," Biden declares. He surveys the table with raised eyebrows, a How do ya like that? look on his face.The staffers offer various objections, but no one notes the obvious one: Iran is not Arab and is the enemy of most Arab regimes.
The 2001 New Republic story introduces Biden as "the current chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Democratic Party's de facto spokesman on the war against terrorism" and includes this observation: "Biden's admirers spin his undisciplined chatter as a kind of John McCain-esque straight talk."
General Petraeus, interviewed in Newsweek:
Just back to Al Qaeda a little bit. Why so shy about declaring victory over them, if they're in such bad shape?More at the link, including the quote used as the title to this post.
Well, first of all we truly think it would be premature, honestly. And then I think there still is a very lethal and very deadly and very barbaric enemy out there. Again, sufficiently barbaric to strap [explosive] vests onto women.
Which in a way is a sign of their weakness, too. They can't find enough men to do it.
Well, yeah, you can interpret it that way. We'll let you do that. And again, honestly, [U.S.] Ambassador [Ryan] Crocker and I explicitly, from day one, together, said that we have got to be coldly realistic and as absolutely objective as we possibly can and not let our enthusiasms or perhaps normal optimism creep into our assessments, frankly. And so we've been very, very careful to ensure that what we say is as absolutely credible as we can make it, and also not open up the assessments to charges of spinning.
the Donovan FbL, who adds "The interviewer asks good, educated questions and generallly gets honest and substantial answers. But it was interesting to see Petraeus dance around the fact that the minute we declare the war a success, all it will take is one significant attack for the media and politicans to call it all a lie. It's amazing to see the interviewer more positive about developments than the General himself."
I think FbL hit upon one of the General's primary causes for reluctance, but sadly I think that in addition any display of optimism could also lead to accusations of political partisanship at home too (see "not open up the assessments to charges of spinning" quote above) and that's too bad. (But nothing new.)
Maj Pain has made it home safe and sound.
Get over there and welcome him home.
I'm not one to use the "Love it or Leave it" line in political discourse. But really...these people calling for solidarity with Sadr at the DNC protests should really get out of the damn country.
Obama has signed up with Biden's plan for Iraq. Unfortunately, the Iraqis rejected this disastrous plan of fracturing the country in three back in September.
Recognize this ship?
It owes its design to something from the American Civil War...
As sorted out here.
Personally, I think someone has a little too much time on their hands.
LiveLeak video of military-themed bloopers that's pretty funny stuff to kick off the weekend. Reminds me of the time one of our exercise torpedos had its guidance wire wrap around a cleat on the aft part of the boat causing the test shot to get all wonked up. The important people were furious! But, of course, the rest of us were laughing.
Long time milblogger Baldilocks, gives an interview regarding Obama and a small school in Kenya named after him.
She has a lot in common with Obama - who might be the next president. Both were born to Kenyan fathers of the same tribe (the Luo) from the same province (Nyanza), who as boys came to America aboard the same airplane.
IMHO here's a possible reason we don't want Iran (or others) to believe it was sucessful.
Iran Aerospace Organisation head Reza Taghipour, said Iran wanted to help Muslim countries to launch satellites.
"I am announcing now that Iran is ready to launch satellites of friendly Islamic countries into space," Taghipour told state television.
Taghipour said Iran was planning to build and launch more satellites by 2010.
"We are working on these satellites and gradually they will be put into orbit," he told the semi-official Mehr news agency.
He said construction of the Besharat (Good News) satellite would begin in Iran once it had financing from the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, adding that high costs were an obstacle to space development.
Good news from Iraq in the WSJ that U.S. troops will be fully withdrawn by 2011. It's not official, but WSJ probably wouldn't run it on page one without a bunch of credible sources. This shows the improvement of the Iraqi Security Forces and newfound confidence, and shouldn't be mistaken that we are "withdrawing in defeat".
What a great public service. He's not even asking for tips.
Prolly common knowledge 'round these parts already, but Michael Yon is heading to Afghanistan. He's obviously not going to sort out the whole mess by himself, but given the vague third-hand reports that pass for headline news from that corner of the world I'm glad to see there will be at least one reliable source in-country - I think it kinda sorta matters, you see. (One source in addition to the milbloggers who've never stopped telling the story from their corner of the happy fun camp, I should add.)
Vaguely related - something to cheer in Afghanistan:
Rohullah Nikpai defeated world champion Juan Antonio Ramos of Spain on Wednesday to earn the bronze medal in the men's under 58-kilogram taekwondo competition, sparking applause, wide smiles and laughter in homes, restaurants and ice cream parlors around the country.Afghanistan's first Olympic medal ever.
So far it looks like their President is responding in the correct way. Tough day for a nation trying to be a better ally and leader.
In unusually large and well-coordinated attacks in eastern Afghanistan, Taliban insurgents killed 10 French paratroopers in a mountain road ambush and at least six suicide bombers attempted to storm a NATO alliance base, NATO and Afghan officials said Tuesday.This is the height of fighting season and it was AFG independence day on the 19th so ... let's hope our INFO OPS and Strategic Communications guys over their are playing their A-game.
The ambush, the deadliest single attack on the French military since 1983, led French President Nicolas Sarkozy to fly to Afghanistan to offer condolences and emphasize that France would stay in the war despite public misgivings at home. France recently sent 700 more soldiers to the country.
Pfc. Vincent Hancock has won a gold medal in skeet shooting.
And Spc. Glenn Eller also won a gold medal last week in Double Trap.
There is an http://www.militarytimes.com/military-olympians/blog.phpAMU commander who is blogging from Beijing for the Military Times. You can check back there every so often for an update on how our Army Olympians are doing.
But when your family doesn't support you?
Well, two Brits (Bryn & Emma) with a group of their friends decided to raise money for a new pool and gym for the wounded:
Last October, Emma and I, together with a small team of friends, decided to do something practical to help the wounded coming back from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The original idea was to raise £500,000 by doing a bike ride. Our offer of help was welcomed by General Sir Richard Dannatt who directed us to Headley Court, the Rehabilitation Centre, where they urgently need a new swimming pool and gym complex.
Our non political appeal for help was heard by thousands and a simple idea grew into a tidal wave of support. As a very small team we were unable to lay on many fund raising events ourselves so the ethos has been to ask everyone to ‘do their bit’, to lay on an event and send us the money. That simple approach and the very obvious need has caught the imagination of thousands of ordinary, decent people and I am delighted to say that with the help of Royalty, Celebrities, the Armed Forces and The Media, we have received over £8 million so far. The first £6 million is put aside for the pool complex, the plans are submitted and by next year, the wounded will have their own pool.
The RFU has given us Twickenham Stadium on the 20th September this year. The Legends of rugby have agreed to play in a once in a life time match. We will see the great turn out in Help for Heroes shirts; Dallaglio, Johnson, Gibbs, Greenwood, Lomu, Phil de Glanville, Ieuan Evans and many more, as well as the stars from the three services and other top players. It will be a great day and, here is the point of this, if we can fill HQ, that is 82,000 seats, we can make £1Million for H4H and that will all go to the wounded.
There's more information about the organization at their Help For Heroes website... and you can find info on H4H RUGBY CHALLENGE HERE.
These soldiers have fought beside our American Heroes... let's see if we can help a bit from this side of the Pond.... with some publicity and perhaps some American sponsors who would like to extend our thanks!
These soldiers have fought beside our American Heroes... let's see if we can help a bit from this side of the Pond.... with some publicity and perhaps some American sponsors who would like to extend our thanks!
x-posted at Some Soldier's Mom
Seriously, what the hell was Tom Arnold thinking. Roseanne makes ridiculous accusations against the military in her attack on Voight and Brangelina with the worst celebrity blogorrhea since the Rosie O' Donnell haikus.
How's this for starters?
ISLAMABAD: A human tide of more than 300,000 civilians has fled the al-Qa'ida badlands, amid indications that the fighting there has reached unprecedented levels, with the Pakistani army using massive firepower to attack jihadi militant strongholds.He chose option "A".
Helicopter gunships, fixed-wing strike aircraft, tanks and heavy artillery have been used in the onslaught that followed the visit last month by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to Washington, where he was berated for Pakistan's failure to wipe out the militants.
The offensive runs counter to perceptions that Pakistan's new civilian Government is "soft" on Islamic extremism.
This will reassure Washington, whose ally in the war in terror for the past nine years, President Pervez Musharraf, was given by the Coalition Government until midnight last night (4am today AEST) to resign or face impeachment proceedings beginning tonight in the National Assembly.
Read the whole thing, as they say. I haven't seen this story elsewhere, but even on the day Musharraf resigned this should be the big story from Pakistan.
There are probably inaccuracies in the report - for instance, 300,000 is a big number, implying someone either did some very fast counting or tossed out a wild arse guess. But if correct - or near correct - it seems to me that's a crowd it would be easy for more than a few jihaddis to get "lost" in.
Again, read the whole thing, bearing in mind that early reports are often wrong. But right or wrong, this quote conveys a lot of information:
The offensive, launched without fanfare to avoid conveying the notion it was done at the insistence of Washington, is targeting primarily Bajaur, slated as the most likely hiding place of Osama bin Laden.Update: I suppose I should add - for the benefit of those who don't see things immediately the way I do - that there's nothing good about 300,000 displaced persons. I note only that if true, the number indicates something as to the scale of this offensive - this isn't a case of sending a few guys in to fire a few shots into the air. And if I haven't been clear, "if true" and "I haven't seen this story elsewhere" are also key points.
And more: there are references to fighting and/or refugees in the region in this NY Times report and this Christian Science Monitor story, but both give the impression that "the Taliban" are calling the shots.
The Afghan government said Monday it hoped the resignation of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf would bring stability to its neighbour, while commentators welcomed the end of his "two-faced politics."But:
The former army general, who announced he would step down in a televised address Monday, was regarded with scepticism by Afghan officials who accused him of not doing enough against extremists behind an insurgency in Afghanistan.
"We hope that the resignation of President Musharraf... leads to a strengthening of the civilian government and democracy in Pakistan," foreign ministry spokesman Sultan Ahmad Baheen told AFP.
Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, quit as his civilian government was preparing impeachment charges against him.
"Afghanistan is in favour of a democratic and stable Pakistan which is based on the rule of law," Baheen said.
The office of President Hamid Karzai said it had good relations with Pakistan's civilian government and would continue to work with it to fight terrorism and fundamentalism.
They accuse Musharraf and his government of deliberately not doing enough to clamp down on militant sanctuaries along its border with Afghanistan.I'm not detecting the slightest hint of sadness there. All done!
"He promised to fight Al-Qaeda but played many games and was not honest about eliminating Al-Qaeda nests located in Pakistan," said Kabul University political science lecturer Wadir Safi.
"At least we will be free of Musharraf's two-faced politics and an obstacle against the 'war in terror' will be removed, which will directly affect our country," he said.
Prominent Afghan legislator Daud Sultanzoi also accused Musharraf of a "two-faced policy."
Sergeant Michael Stokely KIA August 16, 2005 near Yusifiyah, Iraq
It seems so fitting that today, 3 years and 3 days after Mike’s passing that I posted the letter from Major General John Kelley about Sgt Michael Ferschke, a letter that could very well have been written about Sgt Michael Stokely of E Troop 108 CAV 48th BCT Georgia ARNG. A letter that could very well describe the dedication and devotion to Duty, Honor and Country that Sgt Stokely exhibited through out his entire life. A letter that despite the belief by many liberals that our soldiers are nothing more than automatons following orders proves that they are anything but, for their devotion is unmatched by any other but those that wear the uniform of the US Military.
I never met Sgt. Stokely, but have been introduced to him through conversations with his father Mr. Robert Stokely. After only one conversation with Mr. Stokely it’s obvious that Mike was one of those men that you should have known: a devoted son he helped his father canvas for votes in his first election for County Solicitor, a son who according to his doctors was not supposed to live, but who in the end lived a life so full and purposeful that he touched, in a positive way, the lives all those with whom he came in contact.
Son, a simple three letter word, but one that is so full of meaning, a word that explains the conundrum of Mike Stokely and so many of those who have died in war and peace - a word that by itself in one breath defines the link to the father and the path to the future. It’s not hard to imagine after spending a few hours with Mr. Stokely the kind of son that Mike was, and by extension the kind of man he had become. Mike Stokely was without a doubt a man sure of himself and his place in this world. He knew not what to expect when he agreed to become a Scout in the U.S. Army, but he accepted that challenge like he accepted the challenge placed upon him by God. He lived his life’s purpose.
Mike like those before him, and the thousands of those who will follow, chose to leave the comforts of home and hearth, the predictable daily life of a civilian and took up the path of a warrior in service to his country. A life fraught with danger but also immense satisfaction and camaraderie, a life that most American’s will thankfully never know because men like Mike, serve while many debate.
Service - that is the life Mike chose. Service to an ideal greater than any known to man for not only did Mike serve his country, he served his God. He accepted his purpose in life and lived it without question and in doing so he gave his only life in service to his God so that his brothers might live.
Sgt Mike Stokely died 3 years and 3 days ago in a place called Yusifiyah, Iraq but the memory of Sgt. Mike Stokely will never die for it lives on in all of us that continue his work, spread his message and live our life’s purpose. I can only hope that one day I grow up to be the man he expects me to be.
Sgt. Mike Stokely died Aug. 16, 2005, in Iraq. He was one of those extraordinary young men who have a tremendous impact on so many people even though his time among us was cut short. To honor his memory, Stokely's family has organized the Mike Stokely Foundation for the purpose of helping children and others who might not otherwise be able to afford it gain access to good books and the skills needed to read them for pleasure and learning. "Mike loved to read, from the time he was a small child till the day he died in Iraq. In fact, during the last call his Dad received on Aug. 8, 2005, he talked in glowing terms about how much he appreciated reading material sent to him."
In March of 2008 the Mike Stokely Foundation delivered nearly 1,000 pounds of school supplies via parcel post to Capt. Starz of 101st Airborne Division for distribution to schools in Yusifiyah. When the locals learned that the parcels had come form the family of a US Soldier killed there they wanted a picture of Sgt Stokely so they could use it as an example of forgiveness and understanding. Just another example how the life of Sgt Stokely, even in death, touched the lives of others, is it any wonder that his family totaly believes in Romans 8:28 - “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.”
I urge you to help honor the memory of one of America's fallen, by supporting The Mike Stokely Foundation. Your donation can be mailed to:
The Mike Stokely Foundation
P. O. Box 833
Sharpsburg GA 30277.
The telephone is 678-416-1387
I recommend these two posts (and associated links therein) at Abu Muquwama on the topic of Kirkuk and the broader issues of provincial elections in Iraq. My take: these are the issues that have been on the "back burner" in for some time. If they are now the "headline" stories from Iraq that's a good thing.
But in this context (the situation remains political - not military) "headlines" are hypothetical. Real headlines are reserved for suicide bombers, and Iraq watchers are correct to be concerned with the likelihood of a spectacular attack and/or "escalation in violence".
Related aside: the Iraqi Parliament is on summer vacation - as they were last year at this time. If only the US Congress wasn't also the members of that august body could pretend to be outraged.
A recent Al-Sahab release from Zawahiri is directed towards the people of Pakistan. After watching Die Hard last night, the best meme to counter this Al-Qaeda propaganda might be a plea to Pakistan: "Don't Be Ellis!"
Note: Ellis is the coked-up business guy who negotiated with the terrorists (video here)
A ship that had to be somewhere but had a problem.
An "acquisitive" Executive Officer.
And a little ingenuity.
While watching a BBC report over at my place on the attack on the Georgian Navy in the port of Poti, one of my readers SurfCaster proved his worth as a buddy on RECCE Quiz Jeopardy. At about the 1:20 point, he spotted the pic on the right.
PS: remember, when a C-17 drops off lots of goodies, it would be a crying shame to let it go home with a big, empty cargo hold. Plenty of room for geedunk.
The superb IraqPundit takes a break from slamming Obama and warns of trouble on the horizon with Kirkuk. Provincial elections seem to be the most important political issue in Iraq right now (even more so than the disputed Hydrocarbon Bill) and it would be foolish to neglect the potential for conflict.
A week old, but missed it when it was new: Bartle Bull argues against a surge in Afghanistan. Not a popular opinion these days.
I'm reminded of this comment from Bing West:
The steady -- but not total -- withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq is freeing up forces to fight in Afghanistan. But Afghanistan is not the central front in the war on terror. Al Qaeda is hiding in Pakistan, a nation we are not going to invade.
You don't want to miss it. Click on Blogtalk radio widget to listen.
We are joining up with our military bloggers this week to talk about their conference which will be held in Las Vegas along with Blog World and New Media Expo. We are joined by Andi Hurly full time Mom and founder of Spouse Buzz, organizer of the Milblogging Conference, Greyhawk of the Mudville Gazette and Mrs. Greyhawk, and Bill Roggio of the Editor of the Long War Journal and President of Public Mulitmedia, Inc. We have a very full plate and our show is going to be packed with info about military blogging and about their conference taking place in Las Vegas.
UPDATE 1 - SURPRISE! Andi has pulled it off again with big names at the MilBlog Conference. Pete Geren, Secretary of the U.S. Army, and General George Casey, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, join us via phone for the Blogger's Roundtable panel.
And I hear there are more surprises ahead.
UPDATE 2- ANDI has an important note:
We've received some email from folks claiming they're going to attend the conference, but who haven't requested registration codes. Just an FYI - you can't show up on the day of and gain admittance. BWE has a registration policy and we need to comply with that. Those of you who are registered and are bringing spouses or family members who are not, they will need to register.
So, if you're planning to attend but haven't requested your code and registered (free for milblog attendees), please request your code.
Can both of these statements be true?
Military contracts in the Iraq theater have cost taxpayers at least $85 billion, and when it comes to providing security, they might not be any cheaper than using military personnel, according to a report released Tuesday.
Government security contracts in the Iraq theater have cost taxpayers at least $3 billion since the war began, but offer substantial taxpayer savings, according to a report released Tuesday.They're both referring to the same report - but one comes from the AP and the other was written by a blogger - and one of them wants you to know where the rest of that $85 billion is spent.
You'll probably want more details before making up your mind, but here I'll only add two: It's not at Mudville, but the blogger is me.
A lot of anti-military people seem to be make a lot of derogatory comments against minorities too. This is an ongoing phenomenon that needs to be explored at CHUD Busters.
The New York Times highlights the brutality of the enemy on the highway between Kabul and Kandahar. What is an effective strategy to stop it?
Talk about a recipes for intrigue: Julia Child was a spy?
Child, whose books and TV show introduced French cooking to the American public, applied for the spy post after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Then age 28, documents show she revealed to her future employers that she'd lost her previous job in the furniture industry after she could not get on with her boss.
She worked as a research assistant and file clerk, then worked directly for OSS chief Gen. William J. Donovan. She also was involved in a project to develop a shark repellent, to stop sharks from exploding underwater mines.
Later, she was posted to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) where she met her husband Paul Cushing Child, also an OSS operative. She moved with him to France and later trained in French cuisine and opened her famed cooking school.
Well, "I'll be dipped in chocolate and rolled in peecaans
The trailer for the next MilBlogs TV production debuted in The Dawn Patrol today. (I think it makes an interesting short video by itself - but obviously I'm biased.)
The actual Surge series won't focus on the war on the home front depicted in the trailer, by the way. But with newly declassified documents, a green light to share some first-hand knowledge, and a large video collection to draw from I think many of the folks involved in that debate would benefit from viewing the final product.
By the way, if you read Mudville via rss it's likely you've been missing the Dawn Patrol. Since our last major site re-design it has actually been a separate blog, although both appear side by side on Mudville's front page. And if you miss the Dawn Patrol, you miss out on a lot of fine milbloggers reporting from downrange (and elsewhere.)
Embed code for the video:
<embed src="http://blip.tv/play/AcfeQY3NKg" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="300" height="240" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true">
As always, adjust size to your specs.
Apparently, some business owners in Wilmington, NC don't want the Marines hanging around because they're afraid fights and drunken shenanigans are going to break out. This kind of reminds me of the "Dogs and Sailors Keep Off The Grass" signs you hear about from Norfolk during WWII, except Snopes isn't going to dispute the most recent evidence.
The best (perhaps the only) tactical/strategic discussion I've seen yet on the Russo-Georgian conflict.
I get a bit more understanding of why South Ossetia matters to the Georgians - a mountain range between them and Russia. The Russians, however, have clearly demonstrated why such obstacles won't stop them from acting swiftly to demonstrate their love of freedom and concern for oppressed peoples of the world.
That is exactly the trump card that Russia holds. Any objection, and they will simply roll tape on Kosovo.
Looked at objectively from the Russian perspective and with a little bit of cheese-cloth over the lens- if you put Georgia in the position of Serbia - there isn't much of a difference.
I would say, "Look at the Strategic Level OPLAN for Kosovo," to see what the risk mitigation and assumptions were - but as we all know, Gen. Wesley Clark didn't see a need for one.
There was no UNMIK strategic plan and supporting KFOR campaign plan at the outset. ... The North Atlantic Council approved operations plan for KFOR did not arrive until some forty days after KFOR arrived in Kosovo.Second & Third Order Effects. Junior War College 101. Vince Lombardi Military Planning. This is what happens when you ignore a few thousand years of experience.
Austin Bay says it well about another "unforeseen consequence" of the Kososvo gift that keeps on giving.
For Moscow’s foreign policy purposes, the troubles in Georgia fit “the Kosovo frame” – a minority group beset by an “ethnic nationalist authority” attempting to regain control. *** However, Russian diplomats warned for the last eight years claimed “the Kosovo precedent” would affect around 200 regions or territories in nations around the world. That’s a nice round figure and it may in fact be low.
Moscow’s insisted that Kosovo would establish a “separatist precedent” for spinning statelets from sovereign nations. Interestingly enough, both Romania and Greece oppose a “unilateral” Kosovo independence. Spain, with its Basque separatists, wasn’t enthusiastic.
One such warning from 2006 can be found here:
United Nations-mediated talks on the future of Kosovo present Russia with a potential opportunity to radically alter the geopolitical balance in the Caucasus. If the former Yugoslav province gains independence, Russian leaders have indicated that they might try to use the development as a precedent to secure the separation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia. *** The United States and the European Union both argue that the Kosovo question revolves around unique circumstances, and thus the determination of its status would not set any international precedent. Moscow is dismissive of such an argument. "Double standards and selectiveness in conflicts is unacceptable," Lavrov said in his Pravda interview.So, it's not like they didn't warn everybody.
According to the Russian press reports, the Kosovo scenario has become a popular concept in South Ossetia. Most South Ossetians claim that their national goal is two-fold: to secede from Georgia and reunite with their Ossetian brethren across the border in the Russian Federation. South and North Ossetians, they argue, constitute essentially one people artificially divided by the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. To deny them the right to reunification – while such right has been granted, for example, to the Germans – would constitute a double standard.
Of course, there is this:
While the Kosovo-precedent concept is currently fashionable among policy makers in Moscow, a number of Russian commentators have questioned the soundness of such a strategy. Given that Russia itself is a patchwork of ethnic territories, especially in the volatile North Caucasus, the precedent has the ability to come back and haunt Moscow. While conditions are relatively calm at the moment outside of Chechnya and Dagestan, they add, it was only just over a decade ago that many of Russia’s minority groups were clamoring for sovereignty -- not just in the North Caucasus, but also in regions such as Tatarstan and Yakutia.Read the whole thing.
It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Russia could face the uncomfortable prospect of Chechnya and other Russian regions dominated by one or two ethnic groups in the North Caucasus seeking independence through referendums. "A ‘genie of recognition’ let out by the United States and EU could cause a domino effect across the entire post-Soviet space," cautioned a commentary published in the Rossiiskiye Vesti weekly.
One more way to a bigger war...
TBILISI, Georgia — Russian tanks and troops moved through the separatist enclave of South Ossetia and advanced on the city of Gori in central Georgia on Sunday night, for the first time directly assaulting a Georgian city with ground forces after three days of heavy fighting, Georgian officials said.I think South Ossetia and Abkhazia can and should be written off as lost by our Georgian allies. Later we can all examine why that had to happen the way it did - there were certainly better ways.
But Russia on undisputed Georgian territory? If such reports are verified, a brave new world awaits us all...
I also believe Lex is right on the money here:
This was not so much a failure of Georgian strategy so much as it was a failure of worldwide imagination. Tanks do not roll overnight, and fleets do not move in a week’s time. Putin is not acting out of petulance but calculation, and the game he’s playing is as long as Russian history itself.
The beginning of a long winning streak.
As set out here.
Virtually every paragraph is worthy of much expansion and much debate.
To be sure, some units conducted effective counterinsurgency operations before the surge, including Col. H.R. McMaster's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tall Afar in 2005 and Col. Sean MacFarland's 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, in Ramadi in 2006. More generally, however, the coalition approach before 2007 was focused on rapidly shifting security responsibilities to Iraqi forces. As sectarian violence spiraled out of control, it became increasingly evident that Iraqi forces were unable to prevent its spread. By the fall of 2006, it was clear that our strategy was failing, an assessment courageously stated by Gen. George Casey and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad in their year-end review of the Joint Campaign Plan.I agree with that. But there are countless overly simplified and poorly considered conclusions that can be (and in fact have been) drawn from that collection of facts, none of which I believe the author would concur with.
One - the implication that pre-2007 we were wandering aimlessly to nowhere under the guidance of buffoons, and two - the idea that everything changed abruptly and rapidly with the arrival of the surge forces - each of whom was armed with a copy of the new COIN FM. And if "By the fall of 2006, it was clear that our strategy was failing", then I'd add that it was equally true in the spring of 2006. In fact, I'd argue that in some ways (see Awakening, Anbar) the situation was better in the fall of 2006 than it had been six months previously. The only thing more clear in the fall was that the Democrats were about to control both houses of the US Congress. This amplified a previously understated sense of urgency about the rate of progress in Iraq.
As for the 3d ACR - a unit whose accomplishments are well known in part due to my own minor efforts to keep the public informed - here's a Wall Street Journal story on their preparations to deploy, from way back in 2004::
Perhaps the most striking changes are taking place on Army posts such as Fort Carson, Colo., where the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment is getting ready for an Iraq deployment early next year. Since taking command of the 5,000-soldier regiment this summer, Col. H.R. McMaster, an early critic of the Army's vision of fast, high-tech wars, has put his troops through weeks of mock raids. He has staged convoy ambushes and meetings with role players acting as local Iraqi leaders. Such training is becoming common throughout the Army.Now fast-forward to the end of their tour:
Iraqis in former rebel stronghold now cheer American soldiers.The British Telegraph was a bit more straightforward in explaining why that wasn't going to happen:
As noted previously, the 3d ACR was a vanguard for a "new" strategy whereby "units' readiness for war should be judged not only by traditional standards, such as how well they fire their tanks, but by the number of foreign speakers in their ranks, their awareness of the local culture where they will fight, and their ability to train and equip local security forces."
It worked. But:The biggest problem U.S. troops in Iraq face is Baghdad, a city about 30 times the size of Tall Afar. With the current number of American troops in Iraq, it would be impossible to copy the approach used here, with outposts every few blocks.
"Baghdad is a much tougher nut to crack than this," said Maj. Jack McLaughlin, Hickey's plans officer, who attended Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Va. Standing in the castle overlooking the city, he said, "It's a matter of scale -- you'd need a huge number of troops to replicate what we've done here."
But the success in Tal Afar only highlights the problems of replicating it elsewhere.In short, by early 2006 we knew exactly what would work - but didn't have the political willpower to make it happen nationwide. Right or wrong, the undeniable American goal was to get Iraqi troops trained and equipped to where it could be done.
The strategy will require more troops, which is politically unacceptable right now in America, given growing public doubts about the war.
And here's where things get interesting. Mansoor: "the coalition approach before 2007 was focused on rapidly shifting security responsibilities to Iraqi forces". Indeed, and the most well known proponent of that approach was US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Asked about whether we needed more troops in Iraq in June, 2005, he replied:
We're not going to win against the insurgency. The Iraqi people are going to win against the insurgency.He was confident of that because while the Iraqi security forces were growing - albeit slowly - 1) al Qaeda (or "foreign fighters" if you prefer) were slaughtering Iraqis and turning the survivors into American allies, and 2) efforts were underway to bleed off the local "insurgents" from the al Qaeda groups - a forerunner to the "awakening" and "sons of Iraq" movements of 2006-2007.
Coalition forces, foreign forces are not going to repress that insurgency. We're going to create an environment that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces can win against that insurgency.
There were a couple of other (arguably valid) spoken and unspoken arguments against an American troop surge at that point in time. First - the theory that additional troops would be seen by Iraqis as proof that the US intended to occupy Iraq indefinitely, an argument made by the very al Qaeda elements we were trying to undermine. While even many in the United States hold fast to this dystopian fantasy, eternal occupation was hardly the plan - exhibit one: we didn't send in more troops - and I could double the length of this discussion by pointing to all the additional evidence to the contrary. But two, a majority of Congressional Dems - and probably a sizable minority from the other side of the aisle - would not have let it happen, which the British media, at least, was right in noting. NO one was making the argument for more troops in Iraq back then - right?
Wrong. Enter "the Generals":
Last April a group of six retired generals made headlines with a call for the dismissal of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Other retired senior officers quickly countered with endorsements of the Secretary - but while their positions were subsequently ignored, in the months that followed few stories about any aspect of Iraq would lack a quote from one of the "gang of six".Their calls for Rumsfeld's head appealed strongly to his political opponents and made headlines - but their reasons didn't - so you likely never read them in the paper
:...Batiste and his colleagues offered their solution: more troops, more money and more time in Iraq.But let's face it - if it was combat, they won. (Later, of course, staunch Democratic Party activist Eaton would insist the surge was a bad idea, revealing his actual motives, but most of the others can claim victory if they so choose.) Rumsfeld was gone, and the surge rolled into Iraq, providing enough troops (along with the by then vastly increased numbers of Iraqi forces, as Mansoor acknowledges) to execute - or perhaps expedite - the strategies (Awakening Movements, Sons of Iraq, neighborhood Combat Outposts) we'd developed over the previous years.
"We must mobilize our country for a protracted challenge," Batiste warned.
"We better be planning for at least a minimum of a decade or longer," contributed retired Marine Col. Thomas Hammes.
"We are, conservatively, 60,000 soldiers short," added retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who was in charge of building the Iraqi Security Forces.
The irony - in case its lost on anyone - is that those who now argue that the surge had no impact, that additional troops didn't matter (or mattered little), and that it was the Iraqis who finally rose up and threw off the bounds of tyranny - are arguing that Rumsfeld was right all along. So if you hear anyone making said argument, feel free to ask them where they were when their boy was under fire in late 2006, and why they didn't have the guts to stand up, make themselves heard, and be counted when it mattered.
Almost immediate update: By the way, the concept of ultimate victory belonging to the people of Iraq (or the people of Iraq having ultimate responsibility for the future of Iraq) has never been abandoned. The fact that the surge helped make it happen faster doesn't distract from that.All done!
1. To register for the milblogs (and and only milblogs) conference, first send an email (with "Request Code" in the subject line) to andi-at-andisworld-dot-com. You'll receive a registration code via return email. (It may take a couple of days or so for you receive your code. Please don't send follow-up email or worry about it unless it's been more than seven days and you've received no response.)
If you're a panelist, speaker or moderator, you will register as a speaker and will not need a registration code. Information on how to register will be emailed soon to all speakers. We're still waiting for these instructions if anyone else recieved these instructions let us know.
Greyhawk has all registration instructions compiled together here.
Blocks of rooms at various hotels in Las Vegas have been reserved for registrants of Blog World Expo. The discounted rates will only be good until August 18, so it's best to make your reservations now. THEY ARE GOIN' FAST!
Although an official "milblog" hotel has not been designated, according to Andi, survey seems to indicate that many milbloggers are staying at the Marriott Courtyard, or the Sahara. If you'd like to try to stay together as a group, please leave your lodging suggestions in the comment section here or the MB Conference site.
We're (I'm) staying at the Marriot Courtyard with nice fluffy bedding. Greyhawk on the other hand will be wandering and sleeping in the Nevada desert in full cammo gear with his ipod full of Metallica, killing his own food (hope he likes snakes and armadillos) and trying to add a turret to Some Soldier's Mom's vehicle. (sigh)
We plan on enjoying Vegas a little before the conference, we're arriving on the 18th and leaving on the 22nd. We're trying to have a gathering somewhere on Friday evening, so please leave a comment if you'd like to be in on this and we can coordinate times and location via emails.
FYI , If you want to stay at the Marriot Courtyard they still have rooms available outside the Blogworld expo block ($134.00/night) at a more expensive rate ($170.00/night) but if you're active duty military, you qualify for a discount outside the Blogworld expo block - at $108.00 a night except Sunday night ($229, not sure why that is). I suggest you go thru Blog Expo for this night. If reservations for Marriot are made online instead of called in, put GOV in the spot for Corporate/promotional code. You will need to show military ID upon arrival.
According to Military.com the (ahem) Hilton has military discounts as well for $97.00 a night. Be sure you ck to see if these apply to the BWE dates.
Here are some other Hotels in Vegas offering Military discounts.
Need to get rooms now. THEY ARE GOIN' FAST!
Also Southwest Airlines and Continental have the cheapest airfare, go thru them directly.
At the 2007 MilBlog Conference, we threw a huge baby shower for a severely wounded Marine and his wife. The gift table was overflowing with gifts from generous conference attendees. Semper Fi Wife had the honor of delivering a truck full of gifts to Bethesda Naval Hospital, and reported that the couple was a bit shocked to see the amount of gifts that complete strangers provided for their baby.
Soldier's Mom reminds us that we have the opportunity to throw a baby shower for another deserving couple this year. If you don't know the story of Jayme and Joey Bozik, you should study up. Jayme is due Christmas Eve. They are having a girl...Violet Skye Bozik. We'll continue the tradition this year with Baby Bozik as our inspiration.
Andi has details here.
Not everyone has to purchase something but a congrats and thank you for your service card would be nice.
Lookin' forward to meeting up with old friends and meeting some new faces. Hope to see you all there.
Anyone who wants to show their support for the milblogging community by purchasing a sponsorship package that is sure to get your company or organization noticed, and will help offset the costs of the 2008 MilBlog Conference. Corporate sponsorships are now available.
Thank you Andi again for all your efforts you put into this, hugs coming your way.
Greyhawk, you missed the best part of the article you linked to;
Ukraine also warned that it might not allow Russian ships deployed off Abkhazia to return to their base in the Crimea.My $.02 - watch oil tomorrow AM - so much for the drop in oil prices in the short term methinks .....
The conflict in the Caucasus today spread to Georgia's second breakaway province of Abkhazia, where separatist rebels and the Russian air force launched an all-out attack on Georgian forces.
Georgia says its troops have withdrawn from the breakaway region of South Ossetia and that Russian forces are in control of its capital, Tskhinvali.Uglier.
An government spokesman told the BBC it was not a military defeat but a necessary step to protect civilians.
But a Russian military spokesman said Georgia had not withdrawn its forces and the situation remained tense.
Russian PM Vladimir Putin has suggested it is unlikely that South Ossetia will re-integrate with the rest of Georgia.
Meanwhile, Russian warships are being deployed to impose a naval blockade on Georgian ports on the Black Sea coast to prevent arms and military shipments, Russian media reports say.
Separatist authorities in Georgia's breakaway province of Abkhazia mobilized the army and called up reservists Sunday to drive Georgian government forces out of the small part of the province still under Georgian control.
The move dramatically raises the stakes in the conflict between Georgia and Russia over another separatist province, South Ossetia. With most Georgian troops concentrated on fighting Russian troops in South Ossetia, it could be hard for Georgia to repel the Abkhazian offensive.
In addition, Russia troops were seen moving through Abkahzia toward the border with Georgia, which lies on the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia.
SGT Grumpy has some photos from his time in Iraq posted. Pretty cool! I liked the Sadr pic.
Colonel Mansoor discusses how the surge related to stabilization in Iraq without all the nonsensical political disputes about "What the Surge is" that you get from Washington.
The New York Times:
The Russian defense ministry said 100 planeloads of airborne troops will be brought to northern Russia and marched into the “zone of hostilities.”Since northern Russia is a few thousand miles from Georgia there should be plenty of time to prepare.
That's probably a misquote, of course. But it demonstrates why early media reports from sources like the New York Times are unreliable, at best.
Danger Room asks: Did the U.S. Prep Georgia for War with Russia?
When it comes to coverage of all things military, Danger Room rarely takes "sides" but invariably takes a provocative viewpoint.
As Sergei Shamba, the foreign affairs minister of Abkhazia, told me in 2006: “The Georgians are euphoric because they have been equipped, trained, that they have gained military experience in Iraq. It feeds this revanchist mood… How can South Ossetia be demilitarized, when all of Georgia is bristling with weaponry, and it’s only an hour’s ride by tank from Tbilisi to Tskhinvali?”Take a look at a world map and you'll quickly discover the answer to any question of whether Georgia's military training, equipment, and Iraq experience - or even its ties to the US therein - has given them the impression they can take on the Russians. They may ultimately "win" this confrontation, but the cost will be extreme (already has been, given early reports) and utterly predictable.
One of the U.S. military trainers put it to me a bit more bluntly. “We’re giving them the knife,” he said. “Will they use it?”
I'd add this personal opinion/first-hand but non-authoritative observation: the Georgians appear to be fully capable and absolutely professional soldiers, but they have had zero (or near-zero) combat experience in Iraq of the sort in which they appear to be about to engage.
But here's the part where your head explodes: Google "Abkhazia" (as in "the foreign affairs minister of Abkhazia, told me in 2006").All done!
Mentioned in Salamandar's post, but lesser known on these shores is the fact that Georgia currently has a combat Brigade serving in Iraq, in Wasit province, not far from the border with Iran. Some 'fog of war' confusion now surrounds the future of that Brigade. According to the AP
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told CNN television Friday the troops would return urgently to Georgia after fighting erupted in South Ossetia....but according to the Telegraph, the recall might or might not be total:
"One brigade of Georgian forces is in Iraq and we are calling it home tomorrow," Saakashvili said in the interview.
Georgia will withdraw 1,000 soldiers from its military contingent of around 2,000 troops in Iraq to help in the fighting against South Ossetian separatist rebels, a top Georgian official said.The Long War Journal reports the Brigade in Iraq represents one of only five in the entire Georgian Army, but even if swift redeployment were possible, the additional numbers could represent little more than a token resistance against potential Russian numerical superiority.
Georgia has asked the US military to provide aircraft to move all Georgian troops home from Iraq as fighting rages in South Ossetia, a US military official said Friday.
A good round-up here.
The Babil operation is likely a precursor to an operation in Wasit province, which may be launched in conjunction with the Diyala offensive. Wasit sits on the eastern border of Babil and the southern border of Diyala.. Ponder the situation in this manner: Georgia is already an American ally in time of war, and they've now been attacked on the homefront. The obvious question: how far will the US go to back a consistent ally in Iraq? The answer will send a message to the world.
Wasit is the only central-southern province that has not been a focus of major combat operations. The Iraqi military started its rolling offensive in Basrah in March, and then proceeded to tackle the provinces of Dhi Qhar, Qadisiyah, Maysan, and now Babil. All of these provinces are major areas of operations for the Iranian-backed Shia terror groups.
Developing, as they say.
Update - AFP:
KUT, Iraq (AFP) — Georgia will withdraw its entire 2,000-strong military contingent from Iraq within three days to help battle South Ossetian separatist rebels, a senior Georgian military official said on Saturday.And another:
"We were ready to leave today, we are ready to leave immediately but we are waiting for the green light from Tbilisi," said Emzar Svanidze, a major with the Georgian military operation in Kut, where 1,700 troops are based.
"For the moment they are asking us to wait," he told AFP, adding that 300 soldiers based in Baghdad as well as those in "another location" had yet to arrive in Kut.
The Georgian contingent has been taking part in an operation with US and Iraqi forces to clear the south-eastern corner of Diyala province, north of Baghdad, a known al-Qaeda stronghold.All done!
Some 150 Georgian soldiers also guard the Iraqi Parliament building as well as other key structures inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone.
In addition, one battalion is helping to support the Iraqi security forces in Wasit province, south of the capital, near the Iranian border.
....and not the one with all the peaches and bad football.
So much for the summer break from history - if there was ever such a thing.
Georgia, a staunch U.S. ally, launched a surprise military offensive to retake South Ossetia and reportedly killed hundreds of people, triggering a ferocious counterattack from Russia that threatened to plunge the region into full-scale war.Tough nut.
Moscow, which has close ties to the separatists, sent a column of tanks rolling into South Ossetia and reportedly attacked two Georgian air bases as it moved to assert itself as the dominant regional power.
What do babies and the MilBlog Conference have in common?
Marc Lynch discusses the provincial elections that got delayed in Iraq.
The Editors at the NY Times have long proved themselves overwhelmingly biased and nakedly partisan, throughout 8 years of relentless attacks against any move the Bush Administration has taken to fight terrorism or our terrorist enemies. They make no pretense of logic, consistency, or even sanity, as long as all slurs and insults point Bush-ward. They have no need of facts, let alone opposing viewpoints, especially not those heretical ones that refute the received wisdom of the Times.
They assume venality in every case, cause, and controversy, and have championed the alternate universe inhabited by most of the Left, whereby their political opponents are evil, every intention is ulterior and sinister, and every partisan (on the other side) is less than human. The NY Times doesn’t just drink the Kool-Aid, they concoct huge batches of it for public consumption.
But they’ve outdone themselves today, in offensiveness, insult, even slander, asserting that the US Military has aided and abetted in orchestrating a Kangaroo Court conviction of an admitted terrorist, under orders from the White House and Congress.
From the Editors of the Times comes this:
Guilty as OrderedThe Times refuses to employ real legal scholars, or any modicum of fact checking to refute your average terrorist defense attorney’s talking points, apparently preferring to rely on columnists like “economist” Paul Krugman for legal commentary. (Heck, why not? He's doing science commentary now as well.) Thus, they can allege that the trial outcome was ordered, or that the military tribunal process is “so stacked against defendants,” while in the very same editorial admit that Hamdan was found innocent of a questionable charge, and found guilty of one he admitted.
Now that was a real nail-biter. The court designed by the White House and its Congressional enablers to guarantee convictions of high-profile detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — using evidence obtained by torture and secret evidence as desired — has held its first trial. It produced ... a guilty verdict.
The military commission of six senior officers (whose names have not been made public) found Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who worked as one of Osama bin Laden’s drivers until 2001, guilty of one count of providing material support for terrorism.
The rules of justice on Guantánamo are so stacked against defendants that the only surprise was that Mr. Hamdan was actually acquitted on the more serious count of conspiring (it was unclear with whom) to kill Americans during the invasion of Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001.
This despite the views of actual legal scholars, who note that the current military tribunal process as established by the “worst bits of lawmaking in American history,” the Military Commissions Act of 2006, insisted upon by the Supreme Court and enacted by Congress on a second attempt, is actually more protective of defendant rights as anything guaranteed by the Geneva Conventions, or even that afforded US soldiers under Military Justice.
If I were one of the 6 officers who sat in that jury, I’d file a defamation or libel suit against the Times. I’d also make it big, public, and embarrassing for the Times Editors.
The Times has played anything but the role of impartial observer, negligently perpetrating untruths and fallacies about military law, and repeated Bush Administration efforts to create a legal framework for individuals who are at war with us, but act as proxies for State sponsors of terror, or other organized terror and criminal gangs.
The Times misreports on the Geneva Conventions and the Laws of War, military justice, military affairs, and often, constitutional law and jurisprudence. They insist on remaining ignorant, and perpetuating the prolonged ignorance of their readers. They sabotage Government and Military counterterrorism programs, aid and abet the disclosure of classified intelligence and programs, and they self-righteously cloak themselves in a ludicrous mantel of public service, in doing as much harm as possible to any effort taken to combat terror.
If there existed any actual, impartial credentialing authority for Journalists, their bona fides would have been yanked some time ago.
Extended commentary, some reactions from other pundits, and my recommendation for what to do with Gitmo detainees back at Dadmanly. Based on what I recommend, I don't want the Greyhawks accused of tolerating intolerant speech.
(Links via Memeorandum)All done!
(The short version. The full version is here.)
From the get go, they tried very hard to not be American. They succeeded.
April, 2003 - The Guardian:
Senior British military officers on the ground are making it clear they are dismayed by the failure of US troops to try to fight the battle for hearts and minds.
Yesterday, British officers described the very different approach between UK and American soldiers by pointing to Uum Qasr, the Iraqi port south of Basra and the first urban area captured by US and UK marines. "Unlike the Americans, we took our helmets and sunglasses off and looked at the Iraqis eye to eye," said a British officer.
While British soldiers "get out on their feet", Americans, he said, were reluctant to leave their armoured vehicles. When they did do so - and this was the experience even in Uum Qasr - US marines were ordered to wear their full combat kit.
One difference emphasised yesterday by senior British military sources was the attitude towards "force protection". A defence source added: "The Americans put on more and more armour and firepower. The British go light and go on the ground." He made it plain what approach should be adopted towards what he called "frightened Iraqis".
British defence sources contrast the patient tactics deployed by their troops around Basra and what they call the more brutal tactics used by American forces around Nassiriya.
British military sources are now concerned that the experience in peacekeeping and unconventional warfare of British troops will mean they will be in Iraq long after the Americans have left, even for years, in policing and humanitarian operations.
The concern here among military chiefs is that the experience will mean the US will want to get out of places even quicker, leaving the British and others to continue fighting the battle for hearts and minds.
October, 2004, The Telegraph:
US tactics condemned by British officers
Senior British commanders have condemned American military tactics in Iraq as heavy-handed and disproportionate.
One senior Army officer told The Telegraph that America's aggressive methods were causing friction among allied commanders and that there was a growing sense of "unease and frustration" among the British high command.
The officer, who agreed to the interview on the condition of anonymity, said that part of the problem was that American troops viewed Iraqis as untermenschen - the Nazi expression for "sub-humans".
Speaking from his base in southern Iraq, the officer said: "My view and the view of the British chain of command is that the Americans' use of violence is not proportionate and is over-responsive to the threat they are facing. They don't see the Iraqi people the way we see them. They view them as untermenschen. They are not concerned about the Iraqi loss of life in the way the British are. Their attitude towards the Iraqis is tragic, it's awful.
"The US troops view things in very simplistic terms. It seems hard for them to reconcile subtleties between who supports what and who doesn't in Iraq. It's easier for their soldiers to group all Iraqis as the bad guys. As far as they are concerned Iraq is bandit country and everybody is out to kill them."
"The British response in Iraq has been much softer. During and after the war the British set about trying to win the confidence of the local population. There have been problems, it hasn't been easy but on the whole it was succeeding."
The officer believed that America had now lost the military initiative in Iraq, and it could only be regained with carefully planned, precision attacks against the "terrorists".
"The US will have to abandon the sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut approach - it has failed," he said. "They need to stop viewing every Iraqi, every Arab as the enemy and attempt to win the hearts and minds of the people.
"Our objective is to create a stable, democratic and safe Iraq. That's achievable but not in the short term. It is going to take up to 10 years."
The phrase untermenschen - literally "under-people" - was brought to prominence by Adolf Hitler in his book Mein Kampf, published in 1925. He used the term to describe those he regarded as racially inferior: Jews, Slaves and gipsies.
November, 2005 - The Spectator:
The proverbial library of successful counter-insurgencies -- a woefully small collection -- is dominated by the near-legendary campaigns of the British, including those carried out in Malaya, Aden, and Oman.
Known as the "soft approach," the British strategy in southern Iraq centered on non-aggressive, nearly passive responses to violent flare-ups.... As a symbol of their faith in stability-by-civility, the British military took to donning the soft beret while on patrol, avoiding the connotations of war supposedly raised by the American-style Kevlar helmets.
In the immediate aftermath of the 2003 invasion, this "soft" approach seemed remarkably successful, especially when juxtaposed with the chaos that had engulfed other parts of Iraq. Basra seemed to adapt relatively well to the new order of things, with little in the way of street battles or casualties. Both the British and American media -- ever-ready to point out the comparable failures of American arms -- energetically hailed the peaceful and stable atmosphere in Basra as a significant indicator of the virtues of the British approach, upholding it as the tactical antithesis to the brutal and aggressive Yanks. The Dallas Morning News reported in 2003 that military experts from Britain were already boasting that U.S. forces in Iraq could "take a cue from the way their British counterparts have taken control of Basra." Charles Heyman, editor of the highly-respected defense journal Jane's, asserted: "The main lesson that the Americans can learn from Basra and apply to Baghdad is to use the 'softly-softly' approach."
The reporting also featured erudite denunciations of the rigid rules of engagement that governed the United States military, while simultaneously championing British outreach. Ian Kemp, a noted British defense expert, suggested in November 2004 that the "major obstacle" in past U.S. occupations and peacekeeping efforts was their inability to connect with locals due to the doctrinal preeminence of force protection. In other words, had Americans possessed the courage to interface with the Iraqi, they might enjoy greater success.
It did not take long before the English press allowed the great straw man of a violent American society to seep into their explanations for the divergent approaches. The Sunday Times of London proclaimed "armies reflect their societies for better or for worse. In Britain, guns are frowned upon -- and British troops faced with demonstrations in Northern Ireland must go through five or six stages, including a verbal warning as the situation gets progressively more nasty, before they are allowed to shoot. In America, guns are second nature." Such flimsy and anecdotal reasoning -- borne solely out of classical European elitist arrogance -- tinged much of the reporting out of Basra.
AS A RESULT OF THE EFFUSIVE media celebration, even some in the British military began believing their own hype, with soldiers suggesting to reporters in May 2003 that the U.S. military should "look to them for a lesson or two." As a British sergeant told the Christian Science Monitor: "We are trained for every inevitability and we do this better than the Americans." According to other unnamed British military officials, America had "a poor record" at keeping the peace while Basra only reinforced the assertion that the British maintain "the best urban peacekeeping force in the world."
Due to the soft-handed British response to extremist escalation, Basra now teeters on the precipice of mob rule.
November, 2005 - The New York Times:
Blair Says a Troop Cut in Iraq Is a 'Possibility' Next Year
LONDON, Nov. 14 - British officials have begun to talk, however gingerly, about withdrawing their troops from Iraq.
On Monday, Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was "entirely reasonable" to "talk about the possibility" that the troops could begin leaving by the end of next year. The discussion, he added, "has got to be always conditioned by the fact that we withdraw when the job is done."
Gen. Sir Mike Jackson, who leads the British Army, told the BBC that a British departure by the end of 2006 was "well within the range of what is realistically possible."
He said that he was "quite encouraged" by a visit last month to Iraq and that he found the political achievements there "in some ways quite remarkable."
October, 2006 - The Telegraph:
British to evacuate consulate in Basra after mortar attacks
The British consulate in Basra will evacuate its heavily defended building in the next 24 hours over concerns for the safety of its staff.
Despite a large British military presence at the headquarters in Basra Palace, a private security assessment has advised the consul general and her staff to leave the building after experiencing regular mortar attacks in the last two months.
The palace, which is surrounded by a 30ft blast wall and graced with manicured lawns, is in the same fortified compound as 800 British infantry.
July, 2007 - The New York Times:
British Pullback in Iraq Presages Hurdles for U.S.
BASRA, Iraq — As American troop levels are peaking in Baghdad, British force levels are heading in the opposite direction as the troops prepare to withdraw completely from the city center of Basra, 300 miles to the south.
The British intend to pull back to an airport headquarters miles out of town, a symbolic move widely taken by Iraqis as the beginning of the end of the British military presence in southern Iraq.
The scaling down by America’s largest coalition partner foreshadows many of the political and military challenges certain to face American commanders when their troops begin withdrawing.
Since the 2003 invasion, the British-led coalition forces have adopted a far less aggressive and interventionist stance than American troops have farther north.
In such an environment, say British commanders, removing the troops from the city center takes away a “magnet” for attacks, and deprives the Mahdi Army, led by Moktada al-Sadr, and other Iranian-backed militias of a cause to justify their continued violence. Instead there will be a transition to control by Iraqis.
“A Baghdad-style surge would be 100 percent counterproductive,” he added.
At Basra Palace, the rocket attacks at all hours of the day and night have led soldiers to christen it, with characteristic dark humor, “probably the worst palace in the world.”
August, 2007 - The Washington Post:
In the early years of Iraq's occupation, British officials often disdained the U.S. use of armored patrols and heavily protected troops. The British approach of lightly armed foot patrols -- copied from counterinsurgency operations in Northern Ireland -- sought to avoid antagonizing the local population and encourage cooperation. A 2005 report by the defense committee of the House of Commons commended the British army's performance and urged the Ministry of Defense to "use its influence" to get the Americans to take a less aggressive approach.
September, 2007 - Simon Henderson, The Washington Institute:
Leaving Basra City: Britain's Withdrawal from Iraq
On September 3, 550 British troops evacuated one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces in Basra via the Shatt al-Arab waterway, retreating to Basra airport, the last British base in Iraq. Britain remains responsible for security in the city and for the major supply route from Kuwait, fifty miles to the south. But there is an increasing presumption that British forces will soon withdraw completely, and that U.S. forces will have to replace them.
On the ground, British forces appear to have little enthusiasm left for any role in Iraq. Lt. Col. Patrick Sanders, commander of the forces that left Basra palace, told the Independent, "I could have stayed on there for another six months, we would have been able to defend ourselves, and killed a lot of people in the process, but what would that have achieved?"
Immediately before the redeployment, former British army head Gen. Sir Mike Jackson launched a scathing attack on the American handling of postwar Iraq. Describing the approach taken by former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld as "intellectually bankrupt"
October, 2007 - The Telegraph:
Message from Basra: 'get us out of here'
Gethin Chamberlain in Basra is given a simple and stark message from a senior British officer in Iraq: 'We have got it wrong'
It was as astonishing an admission as any that has emerged from the lips of a British officer in the four and a half years since the tanks rolled over the Iraqi border. The British Army, said the man sitting in a prefab hut in Britain's last base in the country, were tired of fighting.
Rather than fight on, they have struck a deal – or accommodation, as they describe it – with the Shia militias that dominate the city, promising to stay out in return for assurances that they will not be attacked. Since withdrawing, the British have not set foot in the city and even have to ask for permission if they want to skirt the edges to get to the Iranian border on the other side.
March, 2008 - Defense News/Agence France-Presse:
"U.S. and Iraqi forces are involved in a huge operation to attack an Al-Qaeda stronghold in Mosul.March 25, 2008 - Associated Press:
"But after that, the plan is to turn the coalition's attention on to Basra and we will be urging the British to surge into the city.
"If they do not have enough troops, then they will be offered U.S .Marines to help out.
"The feeling is that if southern Iraq is hugely unstable, it will affect the success of the surge in the north and destabilize the whole country."
The source added: "The proposal to go back into Basra is being examined at the highest level in Baghdad."
U.S. military commanders say that a "surge" of 30,000 U.S. troops since last January is partly responsible for a dip in violence in Iraq.
But unnamed senior British civil service sources told the Sunday Mirror that Britain would be highly reluctant to go back into Basra because of pressure at home to pull troops out.
"We do not have enough troops for a surge ourselves. The hope is that we can train enough Iraqi army recruits in the next year to cope with the inter-tribal warfare going on in Basra," one source quoted by the paper said.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said British forces were giving "important support" to Iraqi forces in the Basra area but "retain the ability to re-intervene on the ground, in the unlikely event of such a request from the Iraqis."
The spokesman added: "We have regular discussions with our coalition partners and the Iraqi government, and they support our approach."
Iraqi forces clashed with Shiite militias in the southern oil port of Basra on Tuesday as a security plan to clamp down on violence between rival militia factions in the region began.
With tensions rising, Muqtada al-Sadr's headquarters in Najaf ordered field commanders with his Mahdi Army militia to go on high alert and prepare "to strike the occupiers" and their Iraqi allies, a militia officer said.
The officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't supposed to release the information, also said the movement had ordered its supporters to join a civil disobedience campaign nationwide.
April 16, 2008 - Xinhua:
Coalition air strikes kill four gunmen in Iraq's BasraApril 20, 2008 - Associated Press:
Coalition air strikes hit insurgents' positions in Iraq's southern city of Basra early Wednesday, killing four gunmen and wounding another, a coalition spokesman said.
"A coalition aircraft conducted an air strike on a group of gunmen who were firing rocket propelled grenades on Iraqi security forces in Basra's western neighborhood of Haiyyania at about 1:30 a.m. (2230 GMT on Tuesday)," Captain Chris Ford, spokesman of the Multi National Forces in Basra, told Xinhua.
The attack killed four insurgents and wounded a fifth, Ford added.
According to the spokesman, another coalition aircraft struck a vehicle in the same neighborhood, but the casualties were unclear.
A source from Sadr office in the Haiyyania neighborhood confirmed the second attack, saying an Apache helicopter fired a missile on a civilian car carrying several gunmen of Mahdi Army militia, loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Secretary of State Rice Mocks Muslim Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as a CowardApril 25, 2008 - The London Times:
BAGHDAD — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice mocked anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as a coward on Sunday, hours after the radical leader threatened to declare war unless U.S. and Iraqi forces end a military crackdown on his followers.
Rice, in the Iraqi capital to tout security gains and what she calls an emerging political consensus, said al-Sadr is content to issue threats and edicts from the safety of Iran, where he is studying.
"I know he's sitting in Iran," Rice said dismissively, when asked about al-Sadr's latest threat to lift a self-imposed cease-fire with government and U.S. forces. "I guess it's all-out war for anybody but him," Rice said. "I guess that's the message; his followers can go too their deaths and he's in Iran."
Young women are daring to wear jeans, soldiers listen to pop music on their mobile phones and bands are performing at wedding parties again.August, 2008 - The London Times:
All across Iraq’s second city life is improving, a month after Iraqi troops began a surprise crackdown on the black-clad gangs who were allowed to flourish under the British military. The gunmen’s reign had enforced a strict set of religious codes.
For the first time in four years local residents have been emboldened to stand up to the militants and are turning in caches of weapons. Army checkpoints have been erected across Basra and traffic police are also out in force.
The security forces have also torn down many banners supporting al-Mahdi Army as well as portraits of its leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, though some still remain in militia strongholds.
Secret deal kept British Army out of battle for BasraThe full version is here. All done!
A secret deal between Britain and the notorious al-Mahdi militia prevented British Forces from coming to the aid of their US and Iraqi allies for nearly a week during the battle for Basra this year, The Times has learnt.
Four thousand British troops – including elements of the SAS and an entire mechanised brigade – watched from the sidelines for six days because of an “accommodation” with the Iranian-backed group, according to American and Iraqi officers who took part in the assault.
Under its terms, no British soldier could enter Basra without the permission of Des Browne, the Defence Secretary. By the time he gave his approval, most of the fighting was over and the damage to Britain’s reputation had already been done.
The Americans responded by flying in reinforcements, providing air cover and offering the logistical and other support needed for the Iraqis to win.
The British were partly handicapped because their commander, Major-General Barney White-Spunner, was away on a skiing holiday when the attack began.
“You can accuse the Americans of many things, such as hamfistedness, but you can’t accuse them of not addressing a situation when it arises. While we had a strategy of evasion, the Americans just went in and addressed the problem.”
Some reports are emerging that AIDS is becoming more of a problem in Afghanistan due to drug abuse.
Many folks seem to be under the impression that only Che-appareled college kids are predisposed to hate the troops, but C.H.U.D. Busters has found that antisemitic creeps are capable of this skill as well.
Iraq has always upstaged Afghanistan in the American media due to its controversial nature and larger amount of resource allocation. But don't forget Afghanistan, which The Long War Journal has some detailed, but sobering, statistics about.
New Sadrist literature calls for the Mahdi Army to use no arms at all. This has been confirmed by a Sadr spokesman and is not some rumor. Crash and Burn for the Mahdi Army.
A most remarkable man has died, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, famed dissident, writer, and philosopher. Hero against communism and communist evil, and significantly responsible for the fall of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact. Continuing inspiration for millions the world over who still struggle against communism, and fight for freedom against oppression.
Here’s a remarkable passage, so prescient it’s almost beyond belief that he gave the speech in 1978:
In today's Western society, the inequality has been revealed of freedom for good deeds and freedom for evil deeds. A statesman who wants to achieve something important and highly constructive for his country has to move cautiously and even timidly; there are thousands of hasty and irresponsible critics around him, parliament and the press keep rebuffing him. As he moves ahead, he has to prove that every single step of his is well-founded and absolutely flawless. Actually an outstanding and particularly gifted person who has unusual and unexpected initiatives in mind hardly gets a chance to assert himself; from the very beginning, dozens of traps will be set out for him. Thus mediocrity triumphs with the excuse of restrictions imposed by democracy.The world has lost not only a literary treasure, but a true champion for freedom and liberty.
It is feasible and easy everywhere to undermine administrative power and, in fact, it has been drastically weakened in all Western countries. The defense of individual rights has reached such extremes as to make society as a whole defenseless against certain individuals. It is time, in the West, to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.
Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counter-balanced by the young people's right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.
And what shall we say about the dark realm of criminality as such? Legal frames (especially in the United States) are broad enough to encourage not only individual freedom but also certain individual crimes. The culprit can go unpunished or obtain undeserved leniency with the support of thousands of public defenders. When a government starts an earnest fight against terrorism, public opinion immediately accuses it of violating the terrorists' civil rights. There are many such cases.
Such a tilt of freedom in the direction of evil has come about gradually but it was evidently born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent to human nature; the world belongs to mankind and all the defects of life are caused by wrong social systems which must be corrected. Strangely enough, though the best social conditions have been achieved in the West, there still is criminality and there even is considerably more of it than in the pauper and lawless Soviet society. (There is a huge number of prisoners in our camps which are termed criminals, but most of them never committed any crime; they merely tried to defend themselves against a lawless state resorting to means outside of a legal framework).
(Cross-posted at Dadmanly
Check out the military spokesdrone.
Heh - one year ago - almost to the day:
Now, San Fran:Good times, those.Supervisor Chris Daly wants Congress to stop the Blue Angels’ Fleet Week flyovers and introduced the resolution, citing a fatal accident at an aerial display in South Carolina last year. A hearing Monday let Veterans for Peace and other anti-war groups face off with tourism and commerce supporters. Opponents of the Blue Angels voiced their concern over the trauma the show inflicts on war refugees, the waste of fuel, and noise pollution.I'm surprised they failed to note that "Angels" implies endorsement of those religions that include such beings in their theology, and that "Blue" indicates color preference.
“The Blue Angels are totally unnecessary,” said a resolution supporter. “I believe they are sent here to terrorize this town because we are an anti-war city.”
The measure failed - those key points could have put it over the top.
"At the risk of offending the right-of-center folks..."
"Right of center" is somewhere to the right of John McCain. From what I've been able to gather, such folks might be offended by the assumption that McCain is "their man" - or even someone they need to defend rather than merely vote for - and they have no problem with anyone pointing out any of McCain's shortfalls.
Then there's this:
WASHINGTON (Map, News) - D.C. police will seal off entire neighborhoods, set up checkpoints and kick out strangers under a new program that D.C. officials hope will help them rescue the city from its out-of-control violence.(A "full description of this plan from the mayor's press release" is here.)
Under an executive order expected to be announced today, police Chief Cathy L. Lanier will have the authority to designate “Neighborhood Safety Zones.” At least six officers will man cordons around those zones and demand identification from people coming in and out of them. Anyone who doesn’t live there, work there or have “legitimate reason” to be there will be sent away or face arrest, documents obtained by The Examiner show.
"We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."
-- Barack Obama, July 2, 2008
Update: Warning! - video with one bad word in it below the fold.
Why someone wouldn't like the Blue Angels is beyond me. Who wouldn't want to hear jets breaking the sound barrier of awesome? But some in Seattle don't, check it out at C.H.U.D. Busters.
Bill Roggio says to hold off on the celebration bottle for Zawahiri's demise. Drats!
At the risk of offending the right-of-center folks on my second post here. Am I the only one that thinks McCain's "surge"-style tactics to fight crime in the U.S. are both no-good and terrible? Sure, it was a good idea for Iraq, but we don't have daily car bombs in Chicago or anything like that.