Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cheers: Iraqi Style

Apparently, everyone knows who belongs to the death squads.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S.-led strike forces seized suspected Shiite death squad bosses Tuesday in raids that tested the fragile bonds between the government and a powerful militia faction allowing the Baghdad security crackdown to move ahead.

The sweeps through the Sadr City slum were part of highly sensitive forays into areas loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has ridiculed the 2-week-old campaign for failing to halt bombings by suspected Sunni insurgents against Shiite civilians. [snip]

The pre-dawn raids appeared to highlight a strategy of pinpoint strikes in Sadr City rather than the flood of soldiers sent into some Sunni districts.

Bombings have not slackened off, with at least 10 people killed in blasts around Baghdad on Tuesday. However, an apparent success of the clampdown can be measured in the morgues: a sharp drop in the number of bullet-riddled bodies found in the streets of the capital, victims of sectarian death squads.

The number of bodies found this month in Baghdad — most shot and showing signs of torture — has dropped by nearly 50 percent to 494 as of Monday, compared with 954 in January. The figure stood at 1,222 in December, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press.

"We have seen a decrease in the past three weeks — a pretty radical decrease," said Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq.

It's interesting to see the numbers reported as an improvement, though the press does throw in that qualifier "bombings have not slackened", but they are killing less people. What is really significant to me is that the withdrawal of the Mahdi army has in fact resulted in a 50% decrease in the dead, meaning that the Shia may have been the de facto winners of the "who can kill the most" contest. It would be remiss to point out that the decrease is also due to known Sunni/ba'athist/ al qaeda insurgents either being rounded up or keeping their heads down. But, in terms of number of potential killers fielded, the Mahdi army had everyone beat by at least 2:1.

Meaning, of course, not only was Moqtada in Iran's pocket, he was heading the biggest thugocracy in Iraq.

Many Sunnis have long alleged that most of killings were by Shiite militias, such as the Mahdi Army or rogue elements within the Shiite-led police.

Frankly, Maliki probably had no choice but to turn on Sadr. Technically, Maliki was a co-conspirator or conspirator after the fact in killing his own citizens because he let Muqtada and his Mahdi go crazy. His credibility is barely hanging on from my point of view.

On another note:

Iraqi authorities, meanwhile, have arrested a suspect in the attempted assassination of Shiite Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, an aide said.

The aide said the arrest was made after reviewing security camera video from Monday's blast, which ripped through an awards ceremony at the ministry of public works and killed at least 10 people. Abdul-Mahdi suffered leg injuries.

The aide declined to give any further details about the arrest or the suspect. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

And, they are still rounding up the Army of Heaven would be assasinators of Ayatollah Sistani:

In the southern Qadisiya province, Iraqi security forces said they captured 157 suspects linked to a shadowy armed cell called the Soldiers of Heaven, or Jund al-Samaa. The group was involved in a fierce gunbattle last month with Iraqi forces who accused it of planning to kill Shiite clerics and others in the belief it would hasten the return of the "Hidden Imam" — a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad who disappeared as a child in the 9th century. Shiites believe he will return one day to bring justice

I would personally like to see some more info on that and a little proof that the people wre "Army of Heaven", largely because Qadisiya is Sadr/Dawa enclave and are known to get rid of their political opposition with all sorts of claims.

This will continue to be interesting to watch. I think the final "interesting" note is how quiet Congress is. Many blame it on Murtha speaking out of turn, but my bet is more like a "collective breath holding". Most politicos know how to hedge bets and this deafening silence is sounding like it.

Walter Reed: The Continuing Saga

February 27 Army Times -

The story ostensibly portrays many activities that the Walter Reed commander undertook as "CYA". However, I wanted to point out some things that did occur that are obviously not in keeping with the title and implications of the story.

Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.

“Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media,” one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

It is unusual for soldiers to have daily inspections after Basic Training.

Technically, these soldiers are "active duty" which means the military can tell them what they can or cannot say to the media within certain parameters. Most units have a PAO or Public Affairs Office that handles inquiries and directs media. Thus, the command is not outside of what the military does in other units or outside of its pervue. However, the direction to stop talking to the media is very likely in direct reaction to the bad publicity the military medical command received from the Washington Post series of articles and the subsequent internet barrage.

What I find interesting is the comment regarding room inspections. In general, Building 18 has been rather informal. However, the recent Post articles pointed out that soldiers were drinking heavily in their rooms, possible death or injury of one or more from alcohol poisoning or narcotics, under age drinking (against the law even in the military), possible suicides or suicidal tendencies, PTSD events and, of course, the condition of the rooms from the walls, to ceilings to bathrooms and plumbing.

While it may seem harsh from a civilian perspective, particularly in light of the condition of some of the soldiers, it is a rather military response to the conditions. The only way to know is to inspect. That may, in fact, seem like "punishment", particularly to those who were not involved in the original complaint and interview or who do have issues.

Difficulties in this process will still arise because many of the patients are not fit enough or beyond pain meds in order to perform a military type cleaning of their own rooms. Still, there are others who are simply waiting to be processed for reasons only the military can sort out that are not beyond certain capabilities.

On a side note, it has been recommended by the VA and other top psychiatric professionals that getting back to "normal" routine after a traumatic event can be a stabilizing factor. On the other hand, I can't speak for the physical or psychiatric health of all the patients currently residing there. This may be helpful to some and detrimental to others. A more refined process for identifying the "cans" from the "can't" may need to be instigated or is already available. Finally, some are awaiting the completion of their treatment, a Medical Exam Board (MEB) indicating their condition and processing back to their active duty units as "fit". It may be appropriate to maintain "good military order" and not allow soldiers to slip into conditions or activities that would be detrimental to their ability to be deployed.

Like the military instigating across the board actions, the story is also rather broad in its brush strokes implying that these actions are above and beyond or that all those at Building 18 are beyond these capabilities.

Here is another piece of the "good and the bad":

Soldiers say their sergeant major gathered troops at 6 p.m. Monday to tell them they must follow their chain of command when asking for help with their medical evaluation paperwork, or when they spot mold, mice or other problems in their quarters.

"Follow the chain of command" has a lot of implications and purposes. First, this is the military's directive in almost all situations that is supposed to insure good discipline and order. It is also a nice cover to say the military wants "first crack" at fixing things. Obviously, they hadn't done such a good job previously, but the story looks like the first "casualties" of the investigation have already been "re-assigned" or "relieved".

The soldiers said they were also told their first sergeant has been relieved of duty, and that all of their platoon sergeants have been moved to other positions at Walter Reed. And 120 permanent-duty soldiers are expected to arrive by mid-March to take control of the Medical Hold Unit, the soldiers said.

I doubt these will be the last. Officers in the administration will be next, but the process will require a slightly different tact. Needless to say, this has probably ended the career of several administrative officers, some of which may not even know it yet.

Continuing on with the "chain of command" directive, I would like to point out that, even in the military, "follow the chain of command" doesn't mean that you are forever relegated to only speaking with the platoon leader or officer directly above you. It means to follow the process first in bringing issues to your immediate "supervisor", possibly doing so in writing a second time and then seeking out the next "command" element in line, ostensibly until you get results. Much like the civilian world of management, except that breaking that chain can be much more difficult in the military. Still, it doesn't exactly mean "shut up and get back in your place".

The best parts of the article were almost glossed over, probably with no help from the PAO (Public Affairs Office - who apparently declined to return calls). The report indicated:

120 permanent-duty soldiers are expected to arrive by mid-March to take control of the Medical Hold Unit

Without additional info from the PAO, my best guess would be that these are going to be people gathered from multiple units or from a specific MPU (Medical Processing Unit) that have performed very well at their previous stations and will be tasked with quickly sorting out and moving these soldiers either out to MTF (Medical Treatment Facilities = bases with specific clinics or specialists), through their MEB (medical exam board to determine fitness for active duty), to a CHBCO (Community Health Based Care Organization - treatment near home by Tricare networked civilian healthcare), REFRAD (released from active duty) or returned to their active duty or reserve units. There are a lot of places that these soldiers could be, including home, instead of at Walter Reed and building 18.

More "good and bad" news:

They were also told they would be moving out of Building 18 to Building 14 within the next couple of weeks. Building 14 is a barracks that houses the administrative offices for the Medical Hold Unit and was renovated in 2006. It’s also located on the Walter Reed Campus, where reporters must be escorted by public affairs personnel. Building 18 is located just off campus and is easy to access.

You should have read that to mean, who knows when building 18 that actually houses the wounded was renovated, but apparently the administrative building can be renovated to make sure certain officers and administrative personnel are comfortable. It's true that Walter Reed was scheduled to be shut down and renovated completely, which may have led to the allocation of funds to the "must be renovated or repaired" to maintain working order. But, it does seem interesting that funds could be obtained for the administrative area, ostensibly by some officer or manager creating a very convincing power point, budget and improved efficacy numbers, while nearly six years into the war, no one could do the same for a place that is housing a couple hundred wounded soldiers?

This may in fact have been noted by certain people in the command structure since the other "near miss" of the paragraph says:

Building 14 is a barracks that houses the administrative offices for the Medical Hold Unit

That could be a number of things including simply identifying the best and most recently updated building on the premises to house the wounded. It could be some administrative officer got a fire lit under his freshly pressed johdpurs and decided to make the "sacrifice" as a career saving move or an attempt to improve the public image of Walter Reed. Finally, not knowing how the decision was made, it might include a little "up yours" from the brass. The brass may have decided to toss out the administration folks as a little lesson on who they were supposed to be taking care of.

The final note at the end of the article is probably also true. The military medical command wants to salvage its image. Instead of giving a full tour of Malogne House, the good AND the bad, they clamp down like a venus fly trap on rotten meat, effectively shutting out the free flow press.

However, we still have people who have been there and done that, so information will not be stopped at Walter Reed Gate.

On a final note, they are hosting a contest to rename Building 18.

My suggestion, based on the hold overs and conditions? Stalag 18.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Afghanistan: Forgotten War

Until the VP almost gets blown up. In case you "no comprende", the real issue here is not whether Cheney did or did not get blown up or even whether Al Qaeda targeted him or not, the real issue here is that security is obviously glaringly lax that the time and date of the President being there were well known. Particularly, as I am certain that it was "unannounced".

The Boston Heral also points out that Afghanistan is a Proxy War, not with Iran, but with Pakistan and India. Actually, some very good points in the background that doesn't get much other media menition.

And, finally, a little heart warming story about the Kite Makers in Kabul.

Monday, February 26, 2007

I've Been Busy...

...with other things. Things you can see on Soldiers' Angels Kansas City

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Lt Watada: The Charges and Where He Went Wrong

Found this site via, The News Tribune Blog reports Feb 23:

UPDATE, Feb. 23: The Army refiled the charges today. The original count of missing movement, and the four counts of conduct unbecoming, are back on the table following the Feb. 7 mistrial -- meaning the two counts that had been dropped are now revived.

UPDATE: I'm moving this one up near the top so that you all don't have to search too hard to find it, being as how this is the news lately and all. (I first posted this back in January during Watada's pre-trial motions hearing.) MG

NOTE: Charge II, Specifications 2 and 3 were dismissed in a stipulated agreement between the Army and Watada. MG

Charge I: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 87
The specification: In that 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, U.S. Army, did, at or near Fort Lewis, Wash., on or about 22 June 2006, through design miss the movement of Flight Number (redacted), with which he was required in the course of duty to move.

Charge II: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 133
Specification 1: In that 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, U.S. Army, did, at or near Tacoma, Wash., on or about 7 June 2006, take part in a public press conference in which he communicated the following disgraceful statement, to wit: “It is my conclusion as an officer of the Armed Forces that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law. ... As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must as an officer of honor and integrity refuse that order. ... The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of Iraqis is not only a terrible and moral injustice, but it’s a contradiction to the Army’s own law of land warfare. My participation would make me party to war crimes,” or words to that effect, his statement bringing dishonor to the Armed Forces.

Specification 2: In that 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, U.S. Army, did, at or near Tacoma, Wash., on or about 7 June 2006, give a public interview in which he communicated the following disgraceful statement, to wit: “I could never conceive of our leader betraying the trust we had in him. ... As I read about the level of deception the Bush administration used to initiate and process this war, I was shocked. I became ashamed of wearing the uniform. How can we wear something with such a time-honored tradition, knowing we waged war based on a misrepresentation and lies? It was a betrayal of the trust of the American people. And these lies were a betrayal of the trust of the military and the soldiers. ... But I felt there was nothing to be done, and this administation was just continually violating the law to serve their purpose, and there was nothing to stop them. ... Realizing the President is taking us into a war that he misled us about has broken that bond of trust we had. If the President can betray my trust, it’s time for me to evaluate what he’s telling me to do,” or words to that effect, his statement bringing dishonor to the Armed Forces.

Specification 3: In that 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, U.S. Army, did, at or near Tacoma, Wash., on or about 7 June 2006, give a public interview in which he communicated the following disgraceful statement, to wit: “I was shocked and at the same time ashamed that Bush had planned to invade Iraq before the 9/11 attacks. How could I wear this honorable uniform no knowing we invaded a country for a lie?,” or words to that effect, his statement bringing dishonor to the Armed Forces.

The additional specification: In that 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, U.S. Army, did, at or near Seattle, Wash., on or about 12 August 2006, take part in the Veterans for Peace National Convention in which he communicated the following disgraceful statement, to wit: “Today, I speak with you about a radical idea. ... That to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it. ... Now it is not an easy task for the soldier. For he or she must be aware that they are being used for ill gain. ... They must know that resisting an authoritarian government at home is equally important to fighting a foreign aggressor on the battlefield. ... This administration used us for rampant violations of time-tested laws banning torture and degradation of prisoners of war. Though the American soldier wants to do right, the illegitimacy of the occupation itself, the policies of this administration, and the rules of engagement of desperate field commanders will ultimately force them to be party to war crimes. ... If soldiers realized this war is contrary to what the Constitution extols – if they stood up and threw their weapons down – no President could ever again initiate a war of choice. When we say, ‘Against all enemies foreign and domestic,’ what if our elected leaders became the enemy? ... To support the troops who resist, you must make your voices heard. If they see thousands supporting me, they will know. ... We must show open-minded soldiers a choice and we must give them courage to act. ... I tell this to you because you must know that to stop this war, for the soldiers to stop fighting it, they must have the unconditional support of the people. ... Convince them that no matter how long they sit in prison, no matter how long this country takes to right itself, their families will have a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs, opportunities, and education. ... Now, I’m not a hero. I am a leader of men who said enough is enough. ... Never again will we allow those who threaten our way of life to reign free – be they terrorists or elected officials. The time to fight back is now. The time to stand up and be counted is today,” or words to that effect, his statement bringing dishonor to the Armed Forces.

Article 133 is very broad. However, the highlighted parts of Watada's speeches are probably what will get him in the most trouble. Several times he calls the President a liar. He goes on to accuse the military of war crimes such as "slaughtering Iraqis", torture (routine and policy driven). He also urges the soldiers to mutiny and revolt against the government as well as urging citizens to, in essence, overthrow the authority of an elected government.

I am surprised he is not charged with the following:

Article 92

Article 94

Article 117

Friday, February 23, 2007


I came across this site searching on,

Lubbock Marine Parents

Both sons are in the marines. I liked this post in particular. Favorite quote:

"As Marines, our message to our foes has always been essentially the same...'We own this side of the street! Threaten my Country or our allies and we will come over to your side of the street, burn your hut down, whisper in your ear 'Can you hear me now?' ...and then secure your heartbeat.'"
-Colonel James M. Lowe

I think you can tell this is a "current" quote. "Can you hear me now?"

Semper Fi!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

You Know You've Been in Baghdad Too Long When...

• When mortars land near your compound and you roll over in bed and think "still way off, I got another 5 minutes"
• When you start humming with the Arabic song playing on the radio on the shuttle bus
• Every woman that reports to your unit starts looking attractive
• Every guy that reports to your unit starts looking attractive
• You walk an extra 6 blocks to eat at the KBR (contractor run) dining facility to have the exact same food they are serving in your dining facility because you think it tastes better
• You actually volunteer for convoy security duty because you still haven't seen the country yet

Read the rest here

You Can Tell When the Navy's In Charge

..because three of the top five stories posted on the Centcom home page are:

Carrier Air Wing 7 (CVW7) Continues OEF Missions over Afghanistan

CVW-7 returned to conducting missions for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) on Feb. 4, flying more than 200 combat sorties over 14 days, totaling more than 1,100 hours. A Combined Forces Air Component Command (CFACC) asset, CVW-7 integrates closely with multi-national coalition forces to prevent and counter Taliban attacks, the air wing has provided close air support and put various types of ordnance on enemy positions designated by ground forces.

“I think it’s great that we’re back in action supporting boots on the ground,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) 3rd Class Matt Phrampus, Air Department. “I feel a great sense of pride knowing what I’m doing for my country.”

Exercise Eagle Salute Increases Interoperability with Egyptian Maritime Forces

MANAMA, Bahrain - Exercise Eagle Salute 07, a bilateral exercise between U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and Egyptian maritime forces, was held Feb. 3-8 in the Red Sea.

Eagle Salute continued a series of bilateral exercises between U.S. and Egyptian maritime forces, and enhanced military-to military relationships by flexing U.S. and Egyptian units’ ability to communicate effectively. The exercise also consisted of damage control demonstrations and training, and officer exchanges between
the participating units.

USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group Arrives in 5th Fleet

“The USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is here to help foster stability and security in the region,” said Quinn. “We look forward to working with our coalition partners to provide support for ground forces operating in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as conducting maritime security operations that help provide a safe environment for shipping within the region. We are ready, we are sustainable, we are flexible and we provide significant capabilities that contribute to regional peace and security.”

Welcome Aboard Admiral Fallon!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What Happens When Insurgent TV Goes Critical?

This you have to see and probably won't hear or see it any place else except on blogs.

In a recent article on the alleged abuse of an Iraqi at the NYT, a little paragraph stuck out.

Mr. Ani has other priorities, still exhausted from his detention and preoccupied with finding a permanent home. But he regularly turns his television to a new station called Al Zawra, transfixed by its running montage of videotaped attacks on American troops.

The station is owned by a Sunni, Meshaan al-Juburi, a former Iraqi politician who was indicted last year on charges of embezzling millions of American dollars; he denied the charges and returned to Syria, where he lived before the war. The station has become an information center for the Sunni insurgency and in the process has exasperated American and Iraqi forces. In an interview at his office here, Mr. Juburi said that he opposed Al Qaeda’s use of suicide bombers to kill Iraqi civilians but was soliciting support for Iraqis intent on killing American troops. When the image of a roadside bomb blowing up an American Humvee appears on the large flat screen on his office wall, his eyebrows rise and he urges his visitors to watch, “This is a good one.”

That was in the newspaper. But note the emphasized line about "opposed to Al Qaeda's use of suicide bombers". It is probably the most understated point in the entire article (which I'll discuss Wednesday). It is unclear when this interview with Juburi took place, but a recent post at Talisman's Gate indicates that all isn't well in Anbar:

I was wondering how the current spate of jihadist-on-jihadist strife is going to be revealed to the public at large, but I never contemplated that it will be done on a jihadist satellite station, Al-Zawra, and through the person of the slimy nutcase who owns it, Mishaan al-Jebouri.[snip]

But a few days ago, Al-Zawra began running some anti-Al-Qaeda messages in its news ticker, and the jihadists began to mumble and some even penned invectives against al-Jebouri.

Yesterday, however, Al-Jebouri gave a whole anti-Al-Qaeda speech and this drove the jihadists berserk: the premier jihadist organ had begun to badmouth the jihad!

Go over to Talisman's Gate and see the translation of Juburi's speech.

A few words from Juburi:

…Unfortunately, and I say this to all the Muslim audience and all those sympathizers with the Iraqi jihad, some members in the Al-Qaeda organization have begun assassination operations against heroic symbols of the resistance, unfortunately! Why? Because some groups in the Al-Qaeda organization or what they call today the Islamic State want us to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and its leader, or else you are supposed to sit aside and are barred from conducting any jihadist operation under any resistance banner apart from that of Al-Qaeda. I say to Sheikh Abu Omar: how can you force us to pledge allegiance to someone whose real name we don’t know?

That's not even the best parts. He goes on to name names of the people killed by Al Qaeda who were either associated with the insurgents or were these "notables". He also outlines other "crimes" by Al Qaeda, including murdering Juburi's emissary (gigantic no-no in the Muslim/Arab culture), murdering men, women and children regardless of their relationship to the insurgency or the "occupiers", and on and on.

Right on Jihad TV.

I think that the last sentence I highlighted, demanding Omar Baghdadi's real name, is a huge slap in the face Arab style. In Arab culture, family and tribe are everything. People marry within their own families and tribes to maintain that connection and protection. Who you are, your ability to lead, your blood lines and their relation to Mohammed can mean the difference between being a respected leader with the right to make religious pronouncements and a goat herder. It is directly related to your name.

In a few circumspect words, Juburi may have implied that Omar Baghdadi is a nameless, fatherless cur.

On Jihad TV.

Beamed into millions of homes in Iraq and around the Middle East.

Juburi is probably now a marked man by both Al Qaeda and the US. Hopefully, he can afford the kind of protection he needs.

Read the rest

Check out this news:

Violence flared on Monday in nearby parts of Iraq, leaving more than 20 people dead including 13 members of one family ambushed near Falluja on their way home from a funeral.

U.S. military officials had warned militants could strike in areas outside Baghdad while U.S. and Iraqi forces were focusing their efforts inside the capital.

In Monday's deadliest attack, suspected al Qaeda militants pulled the family of mourners from a minibus in daylight and gunned them down, including two young boys, after finding out they were from a Sunni tribe opposed to al Qaeda, police said.

The western city of Falluja is in the Sunni Arab insurgent bastion of Anbar province.

In Ramadi, capital of Anbar, two suicide bombers killed 11 people when they targeted the house of Sattar al-Buzayi, a tribal leader who has led a government-backed effort to fight al Qaeda.

One suicide car bomb hit the blast walls outside his house, then a bomber blew up his truck near the house, witnesses said.

To the north of Baghdad, a suicide car bomber targeting the house of a local army chief killed five people, including a soldier, and wounded 10.

Juburi must have ticked off Al Qaeda and emboldened some Sunni leaders. Looks like AQ is trying to quickly run down all the rest of the potential Sunni dangers while at the same time killing Shia (scroll down the report).

This is round two of the very same idiocy that basically got Zarqawi killed. Al Masri or Baghdadi, whichever, was allegedly keeping his head down and not claiming attacks on Shia as well as supposed to not make the same stupid mistakes Zarqawi did: making war on the people that are supposed to be supporting you.

Over a year and a half ago, Zawahiri had warned Zarqawi to stop killing the shia with impunity because it was making them look bad AND he had chastised Zarqawi about his zealotry in insisting the "brethern" follow their exact brand of Wahhabism. He told Zarqawi that he was pushing people away and they needed everyone. He told Zarqawi, in gentle terms, that he was not educated enough to be demanding such allegiance.

Zarqawi didn't listen. In fact, that is probably what got him killed since he was indulging in the same activities as Baghdadi and his circle of protective locations was decreasing rapidly.

Sounds like Baghdadi is on the same road. It may be why al Masri was almost wounded and his top aid killed the other day. Juburi has turned the power of the insurgent media on Al Qaeda.

It's going to get very ugly.

11 Point Plan for Victory in Iraq

From Pat Dollard the official 11 Point Plan for Victory in Iraq. Couple of items I have posted about in the past as something I would do. One of which I talked about over a year ago re: embedding with police and military right in the citie, is already happening for at least the last year.

Here are points I've noted previously on this blog.

6. A massive assault is shortly due to be launched on Ramadi, the capital of Al Qaeda, and the remnants of the Sunni Insurgency, in Iraq. Ramadi has degenerated to a sort of post-modern trench warfare, Marines and Soldiers locked away in a variety of new urban outposts, while all the schools have finally been closed and it is nigh on impossible for the average citizen to conduct his daily life. The deadlock must be broken, and Al Qaeda must finally be ejected.

You may wonder why you would announce that you were going to assault Ramadi Fallujah style. Lots of good reasons:

A) The regular citizens will be less willing to allow enemy forces to stay and may demand/force them to abandon some of their positions in town. It's self preservation. Like the propaganda about Ghengis Khan and the 40,000 heads outside the city gates, the Al Qaida propaganda from Fallujah is a two edged sword. It might have provoked many to join the insurgents/ Al Qaida and it might have made some generals and politicians leery of the "bad publicity" about alleged civillian deaths from US hands. However, the broadcast and images also reminded many that the US can bring unmitigated destruction that is less than discerning.

All in all, any citizen in a city that is about to be assaulted will want to: a) make the insurgents leave; b) join the insurgents; or c) leave the city in self defense. Either way, it has a way of sorting out the "hardliners" and resolving it once and for all.

B) Send the insurgents running. Announcing the oncoming Fallujah attack sent a number of high profile forces running from their redoubt. When they run, they are less protected. When they are less protected, they are easier to find and kill.

C) The early announcement also provides opportunity for indecision and infighting among the enemy. It may shake up the leadership. Some may stay and some may go. It may cut the forces that actually have to be dealt with inside Ramadi in half.

D) The enemy may send "re-enforcements" from other areas to fight the "big battle". Again, they move, we find them. Again, they come, the people leave, it makes it easier to pick the "bad guys" out.

9. Immediate, highly visible Infrastructure improvement first focused on the peaceful and cooperative areas of Mosul, Amara and Karbala. The idea is to make other areas around jealous of the rapidly modernizing cities, in order to incent them to tow the line of cooperation with the new Iraqi Government.

Such improvements will include, but are not limited to dozens of new bridges being built to accommodate the literally trebling of auto ownership in Iraq since the liberation; the building of many new hospitals to modern standards of medicine ( Ever been to an Iraqi hospital? Just stay home where it’s cleaner and send someone to fetch some drugs ); a massive campaign for fresh American private sector investment, and a raising of all school standards, with a centerpiece of several new universities being built.

The big discussions have been about how much money it costs to do security compared to how little is being spent on reconstruction. Here's the truth, they should have spent it about equally if not more so on the reconstruction. Highly visible reconstruction. For too long the insurgency has been governing the advancement and economics of Iraq. While we were busy letting them do that, it looked like Iraq was crumbling regardless of how many dams, hydro-electric plants, electric grids, schools, etc were being built.

Most of "what the insurgents stop" is BS anyway, but unless an Iraqi (or an American for that matter) can see it on their way to work or on their TV screen everytime they glance at it, it doesn't exist. It has to be nationally and internationally visible.

Second, it has to mean something to the people and have an immediate impact. Many discussions have gone on about the electricity problem in Iraq. Depending on who you listen to, the electrical output has collapsed and insurgents routinely damage the conduits or the infrastructure was already badly damaged, is being repaired as quickly as possible but cannot meet the demands. Both are likely true, but there are very few, if any, things that can be done that can have a huge and immediate effect. It takes years to build dams and plants, it takes years to develop the kind of output to meet the gigantic growth in demand.

Hospitals, on the other hand, are immediate, huge and needed. As Dollard notes, Iraqis only go to the hospital if they have internal bleeding, need major surgery or are comatose. Those places are death traps. Mostly because they are badly funded, in horrible structural shape, very old equipment and understaffed. But, if the hospital (not clinic) is big enough, it can be seen from everywhere and, since it serves the needs of the people immediately, it will be worth more for them to protect it. Even the insurgents have laid off attacking hospitals after the 2005 attack on the Children's Hospital. Very bad publicity.

I also recomment big government buildings and steel girded high-rises.

Yes, it makes them targets for the insurgents, but it also makes them important to the people. Also, as bizarre as it might sound, it is cheaper to rebuild anything that the insurgents knockdown than to keep paying $5bil/day for "war and security). It's a version of the "broken windows theory". Whatever is destroyed, rebuild it bigger and faster. That is how you defeat the insurgent.

You must make the insurgent irrelevant to the future of Iraq. He can fight, but he can't win.

10. Electoral Reform: The old system of national parties selecting candidates for positions was believed to have unfairly tipped the balance in favor of the Shiites and led to too many Pro-Iranian, Pro-Achmedinejad candidates ( like the nutbag terrorist Al Sadr ) receiving too many seats in the parliament. A new system of local candidates simply stepping forward and adding their name to the ballot will instead prevail.

Many have thought this was needed, but I am not sure how this is going to happen. The Iraqis have their constitution. Petraeus may try to conjole, but he certainly cannot force the national assembly to recreate the electoral process. Maybe this is in reference to local politics?

Nationally, this would have been nice if the areas had been formed into districts and individuals run for individual seats instead of this bizarre parliamentary process that simply allows the party that wins X% to fill Y seats. Some of which have no connection to or reference to the districts.

We'll see what they mean by this.

Very interesting indeed.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tonight Our Troops Dine in Hell

Look at the picture here carefully.

Gollum in the Green Zone and Other Iraq Stories

Gollum in the Green Zone (February 15th, 2007 - Scroll Down)

So we’re all starting to look like one another… And then there’s the comment that any outsider (that is, person who doesn’t work in our office) makes, pointing out that when they open the door to the office, we all look up from being hunched over our keyboards, Gollum-like (”my precioussssss”), glaring evilly at the hapless intruder, who cringes, if he/she is at all sensitive, and backs out of the room with profuse apologies. Sadly, I believe that I, too, have been guilty of the Gollum hunch and glare…

Badger Six: Badger Down - Prelude

As they rolled in, I found myself instantly irritated with 3-6. I wanted them to refuel. Yes, I know that they had not been out for very long, but you never know what is going to happen out there. I believed we needed to use this chance to reset our logistics situation and I was led to believe they had been given different instructions. Even though I know I was right to ultimately demand they come in and refuel, I regret ever feeling irritated with 3-6.

Great Day in Afghanistan and Other Nuggets

From Afghanistan Without a Clue:

Great day? Funny story there. Hamid came to Phoenix with us to get lunch, and as I walked back to my hut, I said, “Another Great Day.” Hamid looked puzzled, and I explained my little ritual. Every day I walk back alive makes it a great day.

“You should not worry about suicide bombers or the Taliban,” he informed me. “If God wants you dead, you will die. If not, no worries.”

Read the rest of why it is a Great Day in Afghanistan

The Bigger War

People have laughed at the term “War on Terror.” I don’t. It is simply too hard to define the enemy. They move from country to country, and originate from many different nations. This war is far from over. Even if by some miracle Iraq settled down and became a peaceful, united nation, we are not in the clear. Even if we succeed in Afghanistan, and a thriving democracy emerges, the war isn’t over. These are merely battles in a much bigger war. The troops aren’t coming home for good. It is a virtual certainty we’ll be going somewhere else soon. In my humble opinion.

Lifetime of Experiences

As we were driving home, dodging an unusually thick crowd of both people and vehicles, we cut across the media to avoid a traffic jam and head down the main road into on-coming traffic. Normally this might cause the pulse to race a bit, but we had a nice taxi clearing the path for us. I laughed and said, “Only in Afghanistan” as we tored through muddy, rutted roads trying to get back home. I have to admit, the sheer nuttiness of this place has a certain endearing charm of its own. Of course, after spending almost eight months in the Twilight Zone, nothing seems terribly strange or unusual, just different. Yesterday we drove around the end of the runway, and if you remember yesterdays photo, we found a huge set of landing gear lying in the field. You wouldn’t see that in the States. We tried to imagine the poor pilot who was taking off and suddenly realized some of his landing gear had fallen off. That can’t be a good feeling. If nothing else, this year will have provided a lifetime’s worth of unique experiences.

Afghanistan Without A Clue

I would direct you also to Make A Desert and Call It Peace and a round up of blogs called From the Front

High Protector
Meet Alex, our “high protector”, this dog does more for the War on Terror than many of your fellow Americans. Being our third line of defense, her bark will immediately alert us to any Tango presence. She works in tandem with another “high protector”, Daisy.

Hook, Line and Sinker

Instead of honoring the memory of these fine officers, I will divulge the details of their stupidity so that others may learn from their mistakes. Do not EVER walk up to a suspected IED and inspect it with your barehands….which is exactly what three of the ANP did, one of which was their Intel officer.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

When You Don't Mow The Lawn

Still stewing over Rep. Ric Keller's (R-Florida)"lawn mowing" metaphor and so are several other people it seems. Hugh Hewitt tries to educate him using a return metaphor, but I decided that I had a real life "moral of the story" when you don't mow the lawn.

Last summer my push lawn mower died. The weeds in the drainage ditch by my house were getting pretty high and we were having a serious mosquito problem. The weed wacker was electric and I didn't have a long enough extension cord.

The drainage ditch is technically public property, but the city ordinances say that it's the responsibility of the home owner to keep it clear.

Not wanting to get a fine and getting very irritated by the mosquitos that always seemed to find a way to bite regardless of the amount of pesticide or repellent, not to mention the constant scare of the "Nile Virus" on the news, I decided I had to do something to get the weeds under control.

A friend of the family came over and helped me fix the push lawnmower. I bought a longer extension cord and proceeded to cut the weeds in the ditch. It was hard going because it still had standing water, the weeds had grown very high making it difficult to simply mow the weeds down and the mosquitos were insanely dive bombing me every step of the way.

I had to keep lifting the front end of the mower to slowly cut the weeds down. Of course, I was wishing I had gone out and fixed the push mower earlier and cut down the weeds before they were so high. It was also about 97* and 80% humidity. I was getting very tired, but I still had 1/3 of the ditch left to mow. I knew if I stopped, I would not finish the job and would have to go out the next day, get bit by mosquitos and heat stroke again. That's if I didn't convince myself that it could wait another week or so.

As I came to the last part of the ditch where the deepest water lay, mud up to my ankles, tipping up the front of the lawnmower and about to bring it down on the weeds, I got a nasty surprise.

A very nasty water moccasin (that's a "cotton mouth" for those in the south) slithered out of the weeds and water. he was coming pretty fast so I dropped the lawnmower and jumped out of the ditch. I watched the snake race to the drain pipe and disappear.

I didn't let the kids go out to play in the yard the rest of the day and I didn't let them check the mail for weeks after that because the mailbox was right by the drain pipe.

The whole time I was wishing that I had the foresight not to drop the lawnmower and run, but run the snake over with it instead.

Needless to say, the ditch stayed mowed and I worked the drain pipes over to make sure they were not blocked so I woudn't have any standing water that would attract slithering things.

That's a real life story, straight from nature, with a very real moral: If you do not mow the lawn, hostile neighbors or not, whether you "own" it or not, you will be inundated with little biting creatures that carry deadly diseases. Not to mention nasty, venomous slithering things that might crawl out and bite you or your family on a hot summer night while you are unaware, barbaqueing in your back yard.

Drowning in Amenities

US Soldier in Afghanistan confirms Arkin's critique of the military by posting a picture of his waterbed.

"Manufactured" Iranian Support

A Major that helped prepare information on the Iranian support for Iraq terrorists was upset over the Star Tribune (and many other) editorials claiming that the president had it created to escalate war with Iran.

He wrote to Power Line and sent some slides that do not appear to be "manufactured" for anything other than pointing out the existence of Iranian arms and Iranian Qods in Iraq that have been responsible for killing American Soldiers and Iraqi civillians.

"Our overriding intent is to save lives and if this means that one soldier is saved by our going public, then it is worth it, especially if it was your son."

Frankly, I think it is obvious that someone is supplying Iranian manufactured arms to the Shia and Sunni terrorists in Iraq. I don't think the Shia are getting their arms from France or Germany, do you?

Considering the Austrian Sniper Rifles that showed up in Iraq originally and allegedly ordered for the Iranian police, I think its a very good bet (and been saying it for over a year, since Steven Vincent's death) that the Iranians are in a proxy war with us.

Why do you think the Democrats really fear "escalation" and want our troops to come home? It is Vietnam. The part where everybody knows that the Chinese (Iran) and Russians (Syria) are not only supplying arms, but men, money and intelligence.

They want to give up Iraq for numerous reasons. One of which includes getting out before the Iranians do something so outright and aggregious (President Ahmanidiot being so blatant) that the US is forced to respond, thus escalating the war in the region.

This they can keep trying to paint as something other than direct support. All accept for the ManPADS clearly stamped in Farsi, the TNT clearly stamped in FARSI, the numerous Qods officers that have been rounded up.

How do you make that "manufactured"? Apparently, you just say it is so and it is.

Referrers: Should I Be Worried...

...when a referring link to this sight comes from a search for "camouflage hijab"?

Hopefully, it is a liberated middle east woman who is looking for the appropriate uniform to kick down terrorist doors.

Probably not.

On the other hand, my highest referral link (beyond the castle) are for searches regarding the Second Amendment and the right to bare arms. Let us hope I've educated a few people on the purpose and scope including the amendment that make it impossible for Congress to actually abolish that right. (now I can't find my own post on the subject - but it is very popular in google search engines).

My other favorite referral is for the search of "feminists against abortion". Probably one of my best principled stands for why feminists like me think abortion and Roe v. Wade is the worst thing that every happened to women. Far from protecting them, it may actually be leading to their deaths and serious illness because we have not put enough emphasis on "responsibility" of sexual freedom and spent too much time on giving women a way out of being accountable.

Friday, February 16, 2007

New Al Qaida Tape

Hat tip Talking Proud

Cross referenced at the Castle

Venomous Snakes of the United States: Copperheads

The past few days, leading up to the Feb 16 debate on the Iraq war in congress has been an eye opener. The Democrat wing of congress has been planning to play both ends in order to appear to be doing something while actually not committing to any thing. I have noted they want to maintain their base "anti-war" crowd as well as chip away at the center, "we were for the war, but now it's too costly and confusing, but we don't want to lose" that cost them the last Presidential election. They are desperately trying to craft their message towards the 2008 Presidential Elections, while selling out the Troops, the Iraqi people and our allies in the region.

It's not just the Democrats. There are some Republicans that are willing to sell their (R) and their valueless souls in order to maintain their split constituency back in the home state.

There are no principles on Capitol Hill, just manouvering while our soldiers continue the mission and children are murdered by one group or the other.

The press paints all as "sectarian" fighting, trying to redefine the fight as a "civil war" while the President gives uninspiring speeches on why we should continue to the fight.

Is it any surprise the American people are thinking that this is no longer a war they should be involved in or worried about?

The entire time, very few even mention that Al Qaida is in Iraq and active.

The entire Capitol Hill is a giant snake pit of copperheads willing to sell out everyone for political position.

Rep. Murtha (D) Pennsylvania recently outlined the Democrat strategy: "slow bleed". Now that the Dems have control of the major military funding committees, they hope to limit available forces and funding to the military in Iraq by introducing individual bills that try to enforce extended times between deployment for units and individuals, try to limit the number of times a unit or individual can be deployed and limit the period of deployment.

All of which is to force the military to make do with fewer and fewer troops on the field who would still need to perform the same jobs, still be in the same danger, but would not have the amount of force protection to insure their safety or perform the mission. There is only one outcome to this strategy and it is a forced "redeployment" of troops. Lets call it what it is, a forced retreat that will mean more death and injury for our troops as it is slowly strangled by the snakes in congress.

It is not hard to understand how that will occur. It is a fallacy to believe that this "reduction" will force a depletion in missions thus keeping our troops out of harms way. To believe that is to completely misunderstand or purposefully ignore the types of missions that would still have to occur in order to supply our forces that will still be in theater as well as support the Iraqi Army and police, even if they were in a position to stand up in the manner and number necessary to do the job our forces have been doing.

Our troops are out routinely sweeping the roads for IEDs, watching for ambushes and doing reconnaisance. None of which goes away because we have "reduced" the number of troops in the field. We will still have forces in theater who will still need food, clothing, medical supplies and many other needs. Most of that comes via the roads and convoys. All of which are made safer by the aggressive patrolling of our forces who find and dismantle over 50% of all IEDs. Forces, who by their presence in the area, keep the heads low of any enemy who want to plant more IEDs.

If they are stuck on their bases because they do not have appropriate force protection, who will insure that they are not cut off from supplies or from back up by quick reaction forces by IED laden roads, ambushes and other tactics that would quickly leave individual bases vulnerable and thus huge numbers of our forces?

Worse yet, these units know they will need to protect their perimeters and have projected force into the area in order to defend themselves and keep from being attacked or over run by enemy forces, enemy forces organized and led by the continuing presence of Al Qaida that would like nothing better than to see our forces confined to bases where they can be attacked with impunity (as seen from the attack on Abu Graihb Prison).

It is only by continuing presence patrols that these enemy forces cannot gather enough men or in one place without being found and quickly eliminated. If our men can no longer leave the wire, they will not be able to maintain this security and will be vulnerable to mass attacks that will result in mass casualties.

At the same time, they denounce the Iraq forces as incapable of standing on their own, demand that they stand on their own and, simultaneously, imagine that these Iraqi forces will be able to maintain such security as to not put our men in jeopardy.

The entire purpose is to make the military's position untenable in Iraq and force the generals to abandon the strategies that protect them, protect the main population of Iraq and maintain its tenuous hold on democracy and unity. The military would then be forced to report that it was unable to continue the mission and the President would be forced to withdraw our forces or see a total disaster take place in the face of base bound forces.

In such a way, they hope to force retreat, but not call it retreat. They will simultaneous claim to be protecting our forces and saving the military while making the same vulnerable in the extreme with the very likelihood of increased casualties from IEDs, ambushes and straight on attacks.

Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record) of Pennsylvania, tasked by Democrats to direct the next step, says his approach "stops the surge, for all intents and purposes," and would "force a redeployment — not by taking money away, by redirecting money."

News to Rep Murtha, that is the same thing. If you redirect it from the troops in Iraq, then they do not have it. That is taking it away. Only a fool would be fooled by such double speak. The Democrats have a habit of likening Iraq to Vietnam, but this is the closest "Vietnamization" of Iraq you can get. That is exactly what was done to force the troops home: redirecting the money to pay for flights home instead of ammunition and deployment of reserve or replacement troops.

Former Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas, said Democrats have made a "very clear point" this week by putting the House on record against Bush's troop buildup and now must be careful not to overplay their hand by seeking to cut off funding or limit deployments right away.

"They don't want to be a scapegoat for the Bush administration's failures," Frost said. "This is Bush's war, and there should be no confusion about who's war it is, and Democrats should not set themselves up to have that done to them."

As if this entire war is about the twisted play of politics on the hill. It is only thus because the Democrats made it so.

They are not principled enough to say that they will not vote for the next war budget and demand retreat. Instead, they want to be like snakes crawling through the grass, striking from behind and then crawling away so they can pretend they are not responsible for the outcome, whether that is the death and injury of our troops, the death that will surely come en masse for the Iraqi people and the disintegration of Iraq and the region.

The venomous calculation that it takes to pretend to care about our troops, to care about the Iraqi people or be serious about national defense while zig-zagging through the morass of public opinion in order to establish a tenable position for the previous election and the next, is, frankly, astounding.

Make no mistake, there will be bleeding, but it won't be the figurative "slow" bleed of congressional support, funding or reduction of available forces. It will be the massive bleeding of our troops blood, the blood of the Iraqi people and the blood of many other people in the Middle East as our "slow bleed" leaves them vulnerable to the expansion of unchecked Islamist terrorists back into the surrounding countries. Many of which have been our allies providing intelligence to track down terrorist, stopping terrorists within their own countries and insuring the flow of vital resources to this nation, no only to enable continuing military activity in Iraq AND Afghanistan, but to insure our economy remains stable and even flourishes.

The Copperheads aren't just Democrats. On February 14, Congressman Ric Keller (R - florida) gave a speech in which he likened Iraq to a neighbor that is unwilling to mow his own grass:

Let me give you an analogy. Imagine that you have a next door neighbor who refuses to mow his lawn, and the weeds are up to his waist. You mow his lawn for him every single week. The neighbor never says thank you, he hates you, and sometimes he takes out a gun and shoots at you.

Under these circumstances, would you keep mowing his lawn forever? Would you send even more of your family members over to mow his lawn? Or, would you say to him, you better start mowing your own lawn or there’s going to be serious consequences for you?

This is what passes for intelligent thought on the subject. Iraq is not our neighbors "lawn" that needs to be "mowed". It is, in fact, a volatile country that is not simply presenting "unsightly tall grass" and driving down the value of neighboring property. That is the most you can expect from your neighbor's "unmowed grass".

From an uncontrolled and disintegrating Iraq you can expect that Iraqis will die en masse from the creatures crawling around it's "unmowed lawn". You can expect that Iraq's neighbors will be killed and made unstable from this "unmowed lawn". You can expect that these creatures will be building nests from which they can strike you and your neighbors, quite likely killing you; killing the people of the United States and any number of people around the world.

For this ignorant analogy alone, Representative Keller should be driven from Congress like the copperhead that he is.

Rep. Murtha recently stated that, when we leave, the Shia will drive al Qaida from Iraq. He leaves out the details of how that will play out. The Shia, long persecuted in Iraq and the victims of much of the violence from Al Qaida dominated attacks, will not only drive Al Qaida from Iraq, but many, many Sunni who are not involved and not responsible. There will be death on a scale not yet seen in Iraq for all the lamentations of the current conflict and its toll. While many scream of genocide regarding Darfur and lament the inaction of Rawanda and the delays of Kosovo, true genocide will again take place in Iraq. This time it will be the Sunni who pay, regardless of their affiliations or lack of.

But, not before the conflict expands as Sunni Arabs around the Middle East run to the rescue of their persecuted co-religionists. The battles will be repugnant in their barbarity. We cannot pretend we do not know as we have seen the results over and over again in the slaughter houses of Fallujah and the bullet riddled bodies in the streets of Baghdad. No one involved in this battle will ask who is "innocent" or try to stem the blood shed. They will truly force every person within the nation to take sides as the battle escalates and the barbarity goes beyond cruel.

Those that go to join the Sunni in defending themselves will be quickly swept up into al Qaida organized brigades and affiliations. For all the moaning about the number of terrorists "created" by our presence in Iraq, the number that will be easily recruited and assimilated into these organizations will be beyond comprehension.

Finally, when Rep. Murtha's one truly cognitive point comes true, where will the millions of refugees go? Where will these tens of thousands of more Al Qaida trained, financed and indoctrinated fighters go?

The refugees will go into neighboring countries where they will become an overwhelming economic and security burden on many of our allies such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia. It is also unlikely that, once tasting blood, brutality and embibing the religious ferment of al Qaida that these fighters will simply return back to their countries with no further danger. They will be rightly able to claim that the United States abandoned the innocent Sunni, along with the relative few that are culpable, to be murdered and driven out by vengeful Shia and allowed Iran to dominate the region.

There will be no need for conspiracy theories on the Arab street. It will play out for them on Al Jazeera in graphic detail. If we are worried about the "Arab street" now, it takes little to imagine the kind of hatred that will be generated after the oncoming slaughter and political instability.

By this and the foment sown by the al Qaida indoctrination, there is little stretch of the imagination to understand that the backlash will reach back into the United States. They will be even more driven to attack the US, its allies and vital resources that could result in death and injury to our citizens as well as a collapsing economy from the cost of energy resources to the restriction of all types of goods that traverse the waterways of the region.

To simply buy Rep. Murtha's pronouncement as an effective strategy is beyond stupendously ignorant.

Finally, our allies as well as our enemies will be shown that we cannot be trusted when we give them our hands in friendship, pledging defense. We will have shown, once again, that we weigh the cost to benefit ratio heavily in favor of our own political posturing while the lives and the freedom of our allies are considered less than a thistle on the wind.

When we abandon Iraq, it will not be simply ceding control to the Iranians or ceding territory to terrorist organizations, but we will have ceded a valuable position that has allowed us to offer protection to nascent democracies in Eastern Europe and break away republics from Russia.

What will we offer to them? A handshake on one hand and a copperhead in the other?

To paraphrase Congressman Keller, our neighbor's grass does need to be mowed, but our neighbor is not 9000 miles away. Our neighbor is in Washington DC and his overgrown lawn of crab grass and weeds has been hiding a snake pit full of copperheads. They need to be driven into the open so their venomous fangs can be seen as the danger they represent.

Because everybody knows, Copperheads Kill.

-Out with the copperheads! The only acceptable outcome is Victory over the Islamists!

Cross referenced at the Castle

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Paradox: Report Insurgents, Become Target; Don't Report Insurgents, Become Target

I thought this was a really interesting commentary on the complexity of Iraq and the Baghdad Security plan:

I don't live in my childhood home, but with my parents gone, I keep an eye on the modest stucco house that was designed by a pioneer of Iraqi postmodernism, Mehdi Hassani.

In early January, I went on an assignment outside Baghdad. When I got back two weeks later, my mother sent me a text message from Jordan, telling me to check on our house. When I called our neighbor, Abu Adil, he told me armed men had come through the neighborhood telling everyone to leave or be "slaughtered."

"Can you ask the Americans to intervene?" he begged.

I could not. The gunmen took over our house, Abu Adil's and others in the neighborhood. A few days later, Abu Adil's 22-year-old son went to his family's house. He argued with the insurgents. They killed him, dumping his body in the street.[snip]

A few days ago, my landlady's father was kidnapped by Shiite militias. While I was working on arrangements for his ransom and eventual release, Abu Adil called to say that U.S. forces had raided my house. They arrested the gunmen and discovered a car bomb in the garage.

The raid was good news, but the problem was now more complex. I worry that U.S. troops will think my family harbored insurgents. After all, we owned the house.

I fear that the Americans will share their information with Iraqi Interior Ministry officials, who have connections to death squads.

Duckworth's husband Iraq-bound

For those who don't know about Major Duckworth, her helicopter was shot down in Iraq (not "crashed" as the story states; shot down). She lost both of her legs and one of her arms. She ran for congress as a Democrat in Illinois, though she was defeated. She continues to work with the Department of Veterans' Affairs in Illinois. She was interviewed by News Week on her experiences as a recovering wounded soldier and her efforts with the VA.

NEWSWEEK: What kind of rehabilitation did you receive when you returned from Iraq?
Tammy Duckworth: I lived at Fisher House, at Walter Reed, from the end of February 2005, until December. It was a huge difference in the quality of my life and the quality of my family’s life on so many levels. It does that for all of the soldiers. One of the benefits of having a Fisher House on the campus of any of the Army medical centers is that they’re able to discharge you as an inpatient but you’re near enough that doctors feel OK about letting you go. It keeps you from having to stay in a hospital bed that whole time. If it wasn’t for Fisher House, I would have spent the last 13 months in a hospital bed and I would not have progressed as well as I did.

In a recent interview, she talked about realizing she could do anything after surviving the attack:

"I can do anything I want in my life," she says, "because I know ... until my last breath, I was trying to do my job as pilot, as a soldier, as an officer and I don't have to prove anything to anybody ever again. It's been very much a freeing experience to learn that when it got tough, I hung in there."

Duckworth, now 38, would need every ounce of grit during 13 months at Walter Reed, enduring dozens of surgeries, learning to walk with prosthetic legs.

She had her husband, a captain in the Guard, post a copy of The Soldier's Creed -- "I will never accept defeat, I will never quit" - on a wall across from her bed to serve as inspiration.

She was determined to be a model for other soldiers.

"I could be bone-tired and my husband would know that if he said to me, 'There's a new private in another room who's scared and needs somebody to come and talk to them,' he could get me out of bed," she says. "It's not anything heroic. ... If you sit around and feel sorry for yourself, then how do you expect an 18-year-old ... to get up and do what he needs to do if I don't set a good example?"

She's a real inspiration as a woman, a soldier and a human being.

The Chicago Tribune reports that her husband is going to Iraq with the Illinois National Guard.

While the reporter focuses on the difficulties she will face while her husband is gone and that her injuries were enough of a sacrifice, Duckworth doesn't whine.

It's Bryan's turn. He would not want someone to be deployed in his place," Duckworth told me Tuesday, seeking to head off any discussion that Bowlsbey remain behind because of her circumstances.

"It's not anything we can't overcome," she said.

But that doesn't mean the couple haven't started discussing the special preparations they'll need to make before he departs: everything from moving the heavy mixing bowl and pans to the lower kitchen shelves so she can more easily reach them to building another wheelchair ramp in the garage because he won't be around to shovel the snow off the other one.

"It's a lot of little things you don't really think about at first," Duckworth said, noting how it's usually her husband who picks up the dry cleaning and fuels her pickup truck because those tasks are difficult for her in a wheelchair.

"We'll just deal with it, I guess," said Duckworth, insisting, "all of our Guard families have to go through this."

Even though Duckworth ran on the Democrat ticket and opposed the President's policies on Iraq, she still said in the interview:

Duckworth, who has remained in the National Guard and continued to train during her recovery, told me during her unsuccessful campaign for Congress last year that she would go back to Iraq if called upon -- even though she had called the war a "mistake" and criticized President Bush's handling of it.

"I would go again, yeah," she reiterated Tuesday, but noted that her prosthesis is not in any condition for her to take on such an assignment.

From all past stories, I believe it.

Goodluck Major Bowlesby.

Life After Death: Fallen Soldier is Father Two Years After Death

I couldn't help but comment on this one since I don't know how I feel about it. It seems odd, yet normal for our current society. Apparently, wars no longer have to take the best of our young man and decimate society:

AUSTIN — Seven-month-old Benton Drew Smith is the spitting image of his father, with the same blue eyes, fair hair and infectious grin.
Bouncing on his mother's lap in olive-green overalls and slippers festooned with lizards, he also holds a special place in history: He is one of the first children to have been conceived from sperm left behind by a soldier who was killed in battle. Benton's dad, Army 2nd Lt. Brian Smith, was shot by a sniper in Iraq on July 2, 2004. [snip]

Benton was born July 14, 2006, a little more than two years after his father, 30, was cut down by a single shot while checking the treads of his Abrams tank in Habaniyah, Iraq, west of Baghdad. The bullet sliced Smith's liver, causing internal bleeding. His wife says she was told that her husband collapsed, muttered that he could no longer feel his legs, lost consciousness and died.

Death did not erase him, Carroll-Smith says. "I have a piece of Brian with me every day now."

Troop Surge: Local Soldier Quoted in AP

Reading the AP news on what's going on with the surge to secure Baghdad, I came across an article quoting a local soldier on the status of clearing operations:

Staff Sgt. Michael James, 32, of Chillicothe, Mo., said the area in northeastern Baghdad had been targeted before but not in such force.

"This is the final clearing. We're trying to hit all the major hotspots. I don't think it has ever been cleared as fully as it will be today," said James, of the 3rd Stryker Brigade, Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

James said he wasn't surprised that the troops did find more as they hunkered down in a so-called Joint Security Station in the area for the night.

"It's never clear. These guys are going to have safe-houses all over the place. Whenever we come into one area, I'm sure they just move on," he said. "Just our presence alone is enough to push the bad guys out. They're not stupid enough to fight an entire battalion, because they will lose."

My question to the angels, is anyone supporting this Stryker Brigade?

Some Iraqis are praying that our soldiers will stop the violence:

"My friends and I who are the old women of the neighborhood went to the soldiers and welcomed them and prayed that God would help them to defeat the terrorists," said Um Sabah of the Mashtaal area in eastern Baghdad. "Although, the presence of army and vehicles is not very comfortable, we welcome it because it is for the sake of Iraq."

There was little if any resistance. Soldiers even teased one young girl about her taste in music after they found her doing homework on a couch, wearing white and pink socks with a poster of Shakira on the wall.

Some people left their doors open as the troops arrived, and little evidence of hostilities turned up other than some pictures of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, an illegal bolt action rifle and a heavyset man watching an insurgent propaganda video that he said had appeared while he was channel surfing.

Shakira? We need to send better music over there! The most important part to recognize in this story is that our soldiers, regardless of claims to the contrary, are more often than not viewed in Iraq as the deliverers of justice and defense. I've never seen a poll regarding it, but I would bet that our forces are more trusted than internal Iraq forces (ie, police, army, etc). That's both good and bad since we need these internal forces of Iraq to be trusted and capable of providing justice and defense for all Iraqis in order for our men and women to come home.

Here's the tell on the operations...

At least 38 Iraqis also were killed or found dead nationwide, including four civilians who died when a parked car bomb struck a predominantly Shiite district in central Baghdad. Only five bullet-riddled bodies were found on the streets of the capital, an unusually low number of apparent victims of so-called sectarian death squads mainly run by Shiite militias that have killed thousands in the past year.

But, it's only quiet now. It is not unusual for the terrorists and militias to lay low as troops move in and continue "kinetic" operations (ie, aggressive patrolling) since there is a higher chance that these opposition forces will be noted, engaged and killed or captured. Once our forces have settled into any sort of routine, the opposition consolidates its intelligence and begins to re-organize around those routines.

Let's hope for the continued quiet and safety of our troops.

Moqtada Sadr and Osama: Wishful Thinking On Literal and Figurative Demise

I hate to go against the great blogs of our side of the war or even speak in pessimistic tones while all are hopeful that the first signs of the successes of the "final battle" are apparent in these two items at Captain's Quarters, but I must respectfully disagree with the analysis.

First, Moqtada Sadr in Iran. The Captain wrote:

And as for Sadr, this will destroy him and his Mahdi Army. ABC reports that Sadr wants to try to run the Mahdis from Teheran, but his credibility as a jihadi just tanked. Who's going to fight for someone who won't stand up for himself?

This is not the first time that Moqtada has gone off to Iran. If you've been Iraq watching, he's gone to Tehran and Qom rather frequently. It's not even the first time a large number of the Sadr leadership has gone with him, whatever the "leadership" that is with him means. It could mean advisors, etc.

It does not mean that Sadr will not be back or even that the return is a long time off. His party has thirty seats in the parliament. It seems like a bad move when he still has a lot of power to protect him, to just up and run, even if Maliki has publically gave the go ahead to dismantle the militias. Sadr has been far too wily in the last few years to simply throw that away on an unsubstantiated fear that he will get "JDAM"d in his house.

I doubt we were even thinking that considering the power within the Shia organization that he has and the serious disturbance it would cause in our "peace" efforts.

Second, I think many have forgotten that the leadership of the Iraq Shia have routinely taken refuge in Iran. Particularly, during Saddam Hussein's reign. There they were able to get money and political support that translated directly into political support in Iraq. That is why so many groups like SCIRI or DAWA were able to return post-Saddam, spin up a political structure and take power during the elections so quickly.

As for the comment:

"but his credibility as a jihadi just tanked. Who's going to fight for someone who won't stand up for himself?"

That totally disregards the Shia history and religious concepts of Jihad. Even before Saddam, the Shia were forced to be survivors in an Islamic world of Sunnis. While they may venerate Imam Hussein's martyrdom (not Saddam, we're talking 630 AD) at the hands of the Sunni, for centuries they survived by being true practitioners of the word "taqiya" or deception. After Hussein's death and long afterwards during many internecine battles of the Sunni/Shia conflict, Shia practitioners would disavow their Shi'ite beliefs in the face of an overwhelming Sunni presence in order to survive. If they hadn't, they would not exist today as a belief system within Islam.

They truly believe in "running away to live and fight another day." I doubt seriously that Sadr's departure for Tehran will be seen as a desertion of his followers. If he remains gone for any length of time, the Shia mosques will spin up a tale of the absent Imamah (Sadr) that will return to lead his people to power.

You really have to understand the culture to get that a leader in exile has even more mystical power than the presence of an ineffectual leader in the midst.

Finally, his death squads might "melt away", but it doesn't mean they won't be active. They will simply go even further underground. Even his politicos in parliament will not desert him since he will be bringing in money and support from Iran. At most, the Shia organizations that formed an alliance with him in order to insure Shia power in Parliament may feel a little less constrained by his demands. But, they will still need his party's votes if they hope to gain the necessary 2/3 votes to pass any laws or take any action.

This game is not over by a long shot.

Osama bin Laden has been called "dead" so many times, it seems ludicrous to even claim it, as much as one might desire it. However, the main point of the Captain's comments revolved around Zawahiri's latest statements that directed the "faithful" to follow Mullah Omar in Afghanistan.

This hardly denotes the lack of a "leader" (ie, Osama bin Laden). In previous speeches, Zawahiri has directed followers to get behind Al Qaeda in Iraq. Osama bin Laden told the "faithful" to join with the Iraqi Ba'athists and Sunni brethern (in Sept 2002, on the premonition that the US would attack Iraq; thus providing the back bone for Hussein's Fedeyeen) even though he was sure that the Ba'ath's time was over.

Frankly, Michael Yon and several others have been predicting a bloody Spring 2007. The tell-tale signs include the number of workers who have left the poppy-fields. In past history of Afghanistan, this is usually a gathering of the warriors to go a-jihad. With the poppy fields bursting as never before, it's fed a lot of money into the pockets of the Taliban and Al Qaeda that might eschew drugs as satan's work, but aren't adverse to selling it.

All I see from Zawahiri is a blatant call to arms. No hidden message regarding Osama or his status.

Most tend to see Zawahiri as the "second in command", but there is a rather large group of people that see him as more than the "spiritual advisor" and political master. In fact, some arguments tend to see him as the "king maker" behind the throne with all the power and OBL as simply the young and energetic man with money.

Whatever Zawahiri's personal status amongst Terror Inc, he has certainly put out his own messages routinely with Osama popping up every once in awhile like a bad Elvis impersonator every time there is a strong rumor he is dead. Last noted appearance was around election time 2004 and I expect him to show up this time as well.

However, however I disagree with the Captain's take on the rudderless Zawahiri, spreading rumors of OBL's demise is a good thing because he usually can't help but pop out and then we get another chance to pop him.

So....OBL is dead, short lives to all those that succeed him!

Cross referenced at the Castle

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Must See - Fighting Words

First, I just love Trace Adkins. Second, I love the song. Third, you can't miss all that paired up with some great photos of our Medal of Honor winners that tells a story you can't forget.

Fighting words

The last part says it all: First Amendment? First Amendment protects you from the government not from me. You can say what you want out there, but you come within 15 feet of me and I'll give ya' a good ol' fashion a$$ whoopin'.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Soldiers' Angels Snake Saturday

Lots going on at the moment. Ruminating on many points of Information War.

In the mean time, just want to remind anyone that reads here that I am with Kansas City Soldiers' Angels and we will be doing our first meeting on Tuesday to discuss our Snake Saturday Float.

Lot's of thoughts on how we can bring recognition and support to our troops.

If you're in Kansas City and want to help out, go on over to Soldiers' Angels and get involved.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Soldiers Are Us: I Was Published

I was published in our local paper. It was the letter I addressed here.

Of course, you have your usual suspects posting comments though several people did try to educate them with reports and graphs (visuals are everything in presentation), but they refused to read.

I answered several comments back, but typepad seemed to be acting up, so I don't know if it will be posted. So, I post the comment here (because I am educated enough to know to "save"):

As the author of this letter, let me clear up a few things:

1)The point of my comment is that you all seem to think there are two militaries - one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq

Apparently, either the soldiers in Afghanistan are all well educated specimens of the middle class or you think it's okay that they are stupid and poor dying in Afghanistan because you believe that war to be justified.

So, it's okay for them to be young, poor, stupid and dying in Afghanistan because they serve they national interest. You just object to them being allegedly young, poor, stupid and dying in Iraq.

They are the same troops. Many units that have served in both theaters. So, my question remains:

Are you fine with the stupid and poor dying for you in Afghanistan?

Either the answer is yes, or you are being hypocritical in casting your aspersions because of your opinions on the war in Iraq.

How much more succinct can I make that?

2) I doubt that anyone that writes such things about the "poor and uneducated" actually knows anyone in the military or knows much about the modern military at all. It's obvious that you refuse to read the reports that were sited to you above either because you are afraid it will undermind your prejudices or you think that it's from the government and thus cannot be trusted.

If you knew people in the military, had any interaction with the military and read the report, you would be disabused of such notions.

The person that talked about the NCOs is correct. In our modern military there are limited slots for NCOs (that would be corporals, sergeants and above Non-Commissioned Officers). You don't just get promoted because you are the next senior guy and have X many years in the military. Not even in our current push to increase the military.

NCOs are expected to have at least an Associates degree or have additional technical training that would serve in the outside world as CEUs (that's continuing education units for those who are "uneducated"). They are being trusted to lead men, make complex plans and operate complex, expensive equipment. It's the best man for the job, not the next idiot in line.

Furthermore, check your local universities because most of them accept time served in the military in certain jobs or capacities (I don't mean just officers, accountants and lawyers) as "real life" credits towards completing a degree.

If you think this is dumbing down the universities, then you would have to accept that all other students in the university are equally "dumbed down" and thus are equally "uneducated" (you know, they accept "real life" experience from civilians towards credits as well). Making the military on-par with the general population.

3) This is no naive patriotism or "uber" militarism that I speak from. It is because I have family and friends, both active duty and national guard, who serve. Through them and through many other organizations that put me in contact with the military, I have met what I would call a "cross section" of the military and these men and women do not support your theories on the common "poor" and "uneducated" myth. They are, as I said in the letter, policemen, accountants, the manager of your local grocery store, the mechanic, the nurse, the doctor and yes, even the guy that asks you if he can take your order.

Certainly, I am not going to tell you that EVERY member of the military is a brilliant, socio-economic specimen of our nation. If I did, then I would be equally as uneducated as you and ignoring all statistics to the contrary.

Of course, don't let my personal experiences sway you. I am a heretic. Just like once upon a time it was a commonly held belief that the sun orbited the earth and all those who opposed such beliefs were called heretics and persecuted until the "educated" leaders of the church agreed otherwise (that would be Galileo for the uneducated), so shall I remain a heretic and you will not change your beliefs until the "clergy" that feed you your beliefs tell you otherwise, all evidence to the contrary.

4) And finally, I do not believe we need "required" national service, draft or otherwise, and neither do I find such arguments of "if you believe 'this' then you should sign up for the military" to be particularly intelligent arguments regarding this debate. It is simply hyperbole meant to shut down the discussion because you cannot make your point with any facts, but rather silly assumptions we are supposed to swallow without a murmur.

But, if we must go there, let me turn the question back to you and ask, what does it say about the importance you give national defense if you believe and are willing to have serve the "poor and uneducated" while you, do what exactly besides make "uneducated" comments?

Oh, I know, you want "higher standards". Then who among you will fill the ranks of this "higher standard" military?

Disregard that question because asking it, as well as demanding others serve, makes the assumption that those reading here or posting comments would be of the appropriate age, economic and educational background required in this new, upgraded military.

As I've said previously, assumptions are poor substitutes for actual knowledge.