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January 13, 2007

News of the Kansas Guard.

The surge washes across Kansas.

SOME KANSAS GUARDMEMBERS MAY STAY IN IRAQ LONGER TO SUPPORT GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM

President Bush's announcement regarding the need for additional troops in Iraq will impact Kansas National Guard soldiers. The U.S. Army's 1st Brigade, 34th Division may be needed to continue its missions in Iraq for an additional time of up to 125 days to help carry out the president's plan.

The 1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery, headquartered in Wichita, is attached to the 1st Brigade, 34th Division. The battalion was scheduled to return to Kansas in the spring of 2007. However, the change would likely mean a return in the summer of 2007.

"Our Guardsmen know there is always a possibility that they will be needed for additional missions or an extended timeframe and we appreciate the service they provide in protecting our nation," said Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, Kansas adjutant general. "We know this means additional time away from their families and greater sacrifices for everyone involved. We will continue to support the families of the deployed soldiers and work to ensure the soldiers are brought home as soon as possible."

At this time, the announcement has not impacted other Kansas Guard units, however, additional information is expected in the coming weeks regarding other possible impacts.

The change for the 1st Brigade, 34th Division came about as a result of the Department of Defense implementing policy changes Thursday, Jan. 11, to better allow the military to succeed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The policy change will also affect the maximum mobilization time for members of the reserve forces. Currently, the policy is for a maximum mobilization time of 18 months. However, for soldiers being deployed in the future, this change will reduce the maximum mobilization timeframe to one year.

According to Department of Defense, the policy objective for involuntary mobilization of Guard/ Reserve units will remain a one-year mobilized to five-year demobilized ratio. However, a number of selected Guard/Reserve units may be remobilized sooner than the current policy goal. That deployment to demobilization ratio remains the goal of the department.

The policy change will also establish a new program to compensate individuals in both active and reserve component forces that are required to mobilize or deploy earlier than established policy goals of deployment to home station ratio times. It will also involve those service members who are required to extend beyond established rotation policy goals.

The policy change also directs commands to review their administration of the hardship waiver program to ensure that they have properly taken into account exceptional circumstances facing military families of deployed service members.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Jan 13, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

January 11, 2007

Bush on Iraq.

I've said before that President Bush leads, and that's what a President is supposed to do. Vice someone in a leadership position who lives by the poll - effectively looking for where the herd is heading, jumping in front, and saying "Follow Me!"

That's not leadership. Leadership is having a vision, and convincing people to follow you. President Bush has a vision. He's been mixed (and lately bad) on the getting people to follow part.

But give him credit for sticking to his guns, even as he takes his lumps, though I wish he was a little less loyal to close advisors and more flexible in his adaptation.

Jules Crittenden has a pretty good round up on the subject here.

Now, I await the follow-through. Will the *deeds* match the words? We've had plenty of 'leaders' who talk the talk. The question is - will President Bush walk the walk as he has in the past, but not as much lately - and, more importantly, will he be able to make the Iraqi government walk the walk.

Did, as some suggest, the President declare war on Syria and Iran last night? No. The question is - will he *make* war on them in the context of the parameters laid out last night? Will the SOF and Predators prowl in and over Syria and Iran? Will things happen on the border, or inside their borders, in those places where overt and covert support for the mooji's is provided?

If that happens, we'll have some sense of walking the walk. That's just one example. If Maliki gets Sadr to disarm his militia - or turns loose the Coalition on Sadr's Mahdi Army, we'll have some sense.

He may have boxed the Congress for the moment - but this shift in strategy, operations, and tactics is going to have to show something, and soon, in months, for him to keep them boxed.

And the long pole in the tent is... the Iraqis. Can they, will they step up? And if they do - will we support them?

That will be leadership. Unfortunately, President Bush isn't dealing from a position of strength. Now we'll see what his metal is made of. But it won't matter if he's a girder of fine steel, if the footings are balsa.

I'll do my little bit - to include, at the extreme, becoming temporarily unemployed... the money for the surge is coming out of the budget that's been funding the work we've been doing - work that was pretty much guaranteed a month ago has evaporated as the surge sucks the money into different pots and those projects are deferred to next year. This is going to be a lean year for some of us. Hey, there's a war on. S'okay, I'm not worried. Winning is more important than my current job. I'll just engineer a recall... and figure out some way to finesse the physical!


Update: AP/IPSOS Poll shows Americans "overwhelmingly" oppose the surge. I can certainly believe that a majority of Americans believe that, anyway. I know around here, the sense amongst the Auld Soldiers is "Right Plan, Too Late."

Fully 70 percent of Americans oppose sending more troops, and a like number don't think such an increase would help stabilize the situation there. The telephone survey of 1,002 adults was conducted Monday through Wednesday night, when the president made his speech calling for an increase in troops. News had already surfaced before the polling period that Bush wanted to boost U.S. forces in Iraq.

This is where leadership comes in. Of course, if the surge shows results, 6 months from now 55% of the people polled will say "Good idea!"

Show us what you've got Mr. President. The troops will do their bit.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Jan 11, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

January 10, 2007

The Summary of what the President will tell us tonight.

As sent to the bloggers on their mailing list:

The New Way Forward In Iraq

The President's New Iraq Strategy Is Rooted In Six Fundamental Elements:

Let the Iraqis lead;
Help Iraqis protect the population;
Isolate extremists;
Create space for political progress;
Diversify political and economic efforts; and
Situate the strategy in a regional approach.

Ø The Consequences Of Failure In Iraq Could Not Be Graver – The War On Terror Cannot Be Won If We Fail In Iraq. Our enemies throughout the Middle East are trying to defeat us in Iraq . If we step back now, the problems in Iraq will become more lethal, and make our troops fight an uglier battle than we are seeing today.

Key Elements Of The New Approach: Security

Iraqi:

· Publicly acknowledge all parties are responsible for quelling sectarian violence.
· Work with additional Coalition help to regain control of the capital and protect the Iraqi population.
· Deliver necessary Iraqi forces for Baghdad and protect those forces from political interference.
· Commit to intensify efforts to build balanced security forces throughout the nation that provide security even-handedly for all Iraqis.
· Plan and fund eventual demobilization program for militias.

Coalition:

· Agree that helping Iraqis to provide population security is necessary to enable accelerated transition and political progress.
· Provide additional military and civilian resources to accomplish this mission.
· Increase efforts to support tribes willing to help Iraqis fight Al Qaeda in Anbar.
· Accelerate and expand the embed program while minimizing risk to participants.

Both Coalition And Iraqi:

· Continue counter-terror operations against Al Qaeda and insurgent organizations.
· Take more vigorous action against death squad networks.
· Accelerate transition to Iraqi responsibility and increase Iraqi ownership.
· Increase Iraqi security force capacity – both size and effectiveness – from 10 to 13 Army divisions, 36 to 41 Army Brigades, and 112 to 132 Army Battalions.

Establish a National Operations Center, National Counterterrorism Force, and National Strike Force.

Reform the Ministry of Interior to increase transparency and accountability and transform the National Police.

Key Elements Of The New Approach: Political

Iraqi:

· The Government of Iraq commits to:
o Reform its cabinet to provide even-handed service delivery.

Act on promised reconciliation initiatives (oil law, de-Baathification law, Provincial elections).
Give Coalition and ISF authority to pursue ALL extremists.

· All Iraqi leaders support reconciliation.
· Moderate coalition emerges as strong base of support for unity government.

Coalition:

· Support political moderates so they can take on the extremists.
o Build and sustain strategic partnerships with moderate Shi'a, Sunnis, and Kurds.
· Support the national compact and key elements of reconciliation with Iraqis in the lead.
· Diversify U.S. efforts to foster political accommodation outside Baghdad (more flexibility for local commanders and civilian leaders).

Expand and increase the flexibility of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) footprint.

Focus U.S. political, security, and economic resources at local level to open space for moderates, with initial priority to Baghdad and Anbar.

Both Coalition And Iraqi:

· Partnership between Prime Minister Maliki, Iraqi moderates, and the United States where all parties are clear on expectations and responsibilities.
· Strengthen the rule of law and combat corruption.
· Build on security gains to foster local and national political accommodations.
· Make Iraqi institutions even-handed, serving all of Iraq's communities on an impartial basis.

Key Elements Of The New Approach: Economic

Iraqi:

· Deliver economic resources and provide essential services to all areas and communities.
· Enact hydrocarbons law to promote investment, national unity, and reconciliation.
· Capitalize and execute jobs-producing programs.
· Match U.S. efforts to create jobs with longer term sustainable Iraqi programs.
· Focus more economic effort on relatively secure areas as a magnet for employment and growth.

Coalition:

· Refocus efforts to help Iraqis build capacity in areas vital to success of the government (e.g. budget execution, key ministries).
· Decentralize efforts to build Iraqi capacities outside the Green Zone.
Double the number of PRTs and civilians serving outside the Green Zone.
Establish PRT-capability within maneuver Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs).
· Greater integration of economic strategy with military effort.

Joint civil-military plans devised by PRT and BCT.
Remove legal and bureaucratic barriers to maximize cooperation and flexibility.

Key Elements Of The New Approach: Regional

Iraqi:

· Vigorously engage Arab states.
· Take the lead in establishing a regional forum to give support and help from the neighborhood.
· Counter negative foreign activity in Iraq.
· Increase efforts to counter PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party).

Coalition:

· Intensify efforts to counter Iranian and Syrian influence inside Iraq.
· Increase military presence in the region.
· Strengthen defense ties with partner states in the region.
· Encourage Arab state support to Government of Iraq.
· Continue efforts to help manage relations between Iraq and Turkey.
· Continue to seek the region's full support in the War on Terror.

Both Coalition And Iraqi:

· Focus on the International Compact.
· Retain active U.N. engagement in Iraq – particularly for election support and constitutional review.

Of course, this is Death By Powerpoint. The devil is in the details.

Update: The Highlights of the Iraq Strategy Review.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Jan 10, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

January 08, 2007

Cpls. Dunham and Miller and Marine Moms

In an act of astonishing sacrifice, Corporal Jason Dunham saved the lives of two fellow Marines three years ago by throwing his body and empty helmet over a live grenade.

At the White House on Thursday, President Bush will present Cpl. Dunham's parents with the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for military valor, the first such award for a Marine since Vietnam. The ceremony will enshrine Jason Dunham for posterity as one who loved his brothers more than himself.

In the audience will sit Cpl. Miller, a 23-year-old still struggling with what it means to receive that much love.

Because of Cpl. Dunham's sacrifice, Cpl. Miller is brother to two families and son to two Marine Moms. It's another story of sacrifice, courage, and trying to put the pieces back together...

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

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by Denizens on Jan 08, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

January 07, 2007

A Defense of the ISG recommendations.

Ry will probably like this. Some of you others will not. I'm still pondering my navel, but there are certainly parts that make sense to me.

ASSESSING THE LONG WAR by Frank Hoffman

[January 5, 2007 Frank Hoffman is a non-resident Senior Fellow at FPRI. These comments are his own and do not reflect the position of any organization with which he is affiliated. This enote is available on line at www.fpri.org. ]

America is suffering from a national STD crisis. No, it's not the one you think -it's a Strategic Thinking Deficiency. This deficiency lies at the root of the current challenges in Iraq, an enormous miscalculation and a gross misapplication of national power. This deficiency is also responsible for our continued inability to diagnose today's global struggle in a holistic manner. Too often we look at Iraq as an isolated event, instead of one front or campaign in a larger conflict. Thus, we fail to see how the actions in one theater impact the conduct of the war in a larger or more systemic sense.

The STD limits our ability to measure what is important from what is merely expedient. What should be an American grand strategy ends up a series of policy stovepipes instead of a comprehensive understanding of the problem, and an equally holistic and integrated solution. Such a fragmented perspective fails to recognize our long-term interests and warps American policy. Key strategic interests are being ignored, and isolated actions take us incrementally away from vital requirements.

Washington is responding in classic fashion; after three years of deadly conflict with little concrete progress, a plethora of policy reviews, Congressional blue-ribbon panels, and study groups are underway. The bipartisan Iraq Study Project (ISG) led by former Secretary of State James Baker and Congressman Lee Hamilton tried to provide a remedy. But it did not offer a plan to achieve "victory" in Iraq, and thus the White House apparently has rejected the panel's recommendations. The Chairman of the Joint Staff has assembled an outside team composed of U.S. officers with extensive experience in Iraq. A spate of pundits have chimed in with their own set of options,[1] with most seeking a military solution where there is none.

The ISG was a large dose of common sense. Their report provides a polite but devastating critique of American policy in Iraq. Its 79 recommendations include a few clunkers that are not realistic. But, overall, it serves as an indictment of our current strategy and its implementation. There was nothing terribly original or bold in the report, the product of intense negotiations among ten prominent Americans of great intellect with long careers in public service. That's the nature of these bipartisan groups; the most extreme ideas are left on the editor's floor, victim to the search for unanimity.

The problem with many critiques of the ISG is that they appear to focus solely on Iraq, and thus reinforce Cold War habits. Such reviews focus on individual trees and not the forest. Any serious review needs to begin with the recognition that we do not understand the nature of our enemy or the nature of the war. We began this conflict by calling it the GWOT. This is typical Pentagonese. In essence, we declared war against a tactic, deliberately making our enemies evil and illegal at the same time--but also confusing ourselves about our objective or who really was our enemy.

Some commentators like Professor Eliot Cohen and former CIA Director James Woolsey suggest that World War IV is appropriate. This does suggest a protracted contest with numerous fronts, and the multidimensional mobilization that is needed to achieve success. But this gives Bin Laden and Al Qaeda far too much credit in terms of their total capability.

So we've settled now for the Long War. This says a lot about the protracted nature of the contest, but almost nothing about what we are trying to defeat or what we are fighting for. But it does suggest that it should be fought by the Pentagon, which misleads our strategy. We have over- militarized our counter-terrorism strategy and repeated the mistake in Iraq. In many respects, our reactions have been entirely predictable, very costly, and of great advantage to Al Qaeda. As FPRI Senior Fellow Michael Radu has observed, "When you have confusion defining the enemy, you inevitably have confusion in finding ways to fight it."

Just what have we accomplished to date in the Long War? Well, any ledger is going to identify some clear gains. Viewed objectively, U.S. policy has garnered some positive achievement. For example:

* The U.S. has recovered from a deadly attack on our own shores with two swift military campaigns. Saddam Hussein in no longer terrorizing his people and threatening the region.

* Despite what you might read, there has been progress in governance and economic development in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

* Our economy is doing well; it may sputter from time to time thanks to high energy costs, but the overall economy has grown some 15 percent since 9/11. Recall what the Dow Jones Index was on that day-it's grown from 9,650 to today's rosy 12,500. * We are working effectively in partnership with key allies-not just Britain and Australia-but thirty odd nations.

* The nation has begun to shore up our home defenses, although clearly the stand up of DHS is still a work in progress--reorganizing in the midst of war is never easy.

* Likewise, we've reorganized our intelligence system, although we're still not sure if competition between OSD and the new Director of National Intelligence create more opportunities for our enemies than it retards.

That's our progress to date. Much of this progress has taken form as organizational initiatives, which reflect a needed strategic readjustment from an outdated Cold War architecture. But the ledger has both black and red ink. On the debit side, the strategic evaluation is long and pessimistic.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

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by John on Jan 07, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

January 03, 2007

Bravo!...

Many (probably most) readers will probably disagree with me on this, but I frankly am not disturbed by the way Saddam Hussein spent his last few conscious minutes.

Last night I watched Glenn Beck commiserate with the chia pet-haired Baghdad New York Times Bureau Chief over the way the executioners heckled the murderous son of a b***h before they snapped his filthy neck. Oh, how awful it was. Oh, how insensitive, Oh, how it sullied our reputation and illustrated the ineptitude of the Maliki regime.

Bollocks.

I was first and foremost disappointed that Beck chose the NYT lizard for color commentary on the post-execution "mood on the streets." Hell, why not have Ramsey Clark on for a "fair and balanced" look, eh? Sheesh.

Second, I wish I had been on to ask Glenn: Where were the cigarette burns on Saddam's face in that hanging video? How about the sulfuric acid burns to his eyes? Any hint of broken bones? Electrified genitalia? Fingernails missing? Now THAT'S abuse, and was part and parcel of the way Saddam's goons treated fargin' WOMEN and CHILDREN, for crap's sake!

Honestly, these guys who lament such things just don't get it yet. And maybe that's a good thing, because I wouldn't wish on anyone in the world the kind of treatment Saddam visited on his own people for 30+ years. Think of it, gentle reader with children--one night a knock on your door and two thugs demand your daughter accompany them to a place where she loses her virginity to the son of your President...because they can...AND she's then killed...AND you're responsible for cleaning up the mess. The chattering classes, the media minstrels, the carnival barkers that are today's mainstream media journalists can't put themselves in the executioners' shoes because they will never, ever be exposed to that kind of horror (thank God). And so we suffer through their naval gazing...

Taunting before neck stretching? Shite, you betcha.

Personally, I thought the Shiites showed remarkable restraint in conducting the dispatch of a malignant thing who was the most deadly tyrant on the planet for the period he was alive and in charge.

I guess I was born in the wrong century...if I was developing this war's strategery I would step back and get the attention of our enemies before continuing with the civil affairs stuff, the nation building stuff and all the other hearts-and-minds stuff that is also critical to success.

I would take my cue from 1) the Romans; 2) the Mongols (BEFORE they converted), and; 3) the Borg Collective. The first believed in their civilization and its exceptionalism. The second weren't afraid to inflict maximum damage during and after the attack. The third are, albeit fictional, technologically superior, insanely adaptive and utterly implacable.

Instapilot, Token Barbarian

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by Dusty on Jan 03, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

Captain Travis Patriquin, "good in the woods".

This is old news in the sense that this broke into the news cycle around December 15 on ABC. I missed it because I was involved in the Specialist McGinniss story and it was further swamped by the death of Marine Major Megan McClung, which is interesting, since Captain Travis Patriquin died in the same IED explosion. This won't be news for some of you, but for others, it will. It came to me from a different source, so, even late, I'm posting it, if for no other reason than a cyber-memorial to Captain Patriquin and as a source for those who may not have yet seen it.

Captain Travis Patriquin's "How to Win In Anbar."

Given what has and hasn't worked thus far, there's no reason this shouldn't be on the table. Granted, Blackfive has posted on it, and it got a blurb at Milblogs, when I googled it, it was mostly news and lefty sites that came up, nature of how google operates.

I suppose I *should* do some value-added:

From Martha Raddatz's article (the ABC reference above):

In a military known for its sleep-inducing, graphically dizzying PowerPoint presentations, the young captain's presentation, which has been unofficially circulating through the ranks, stands out. Using stick figures and simple language, it articulates the same goal as the president's in Iraq.

Powerpoint - one of the greatest obstacles to communication ever created. Not Microsoft's fault - the users misuse it. Just like it isn't Ford's fault people flee crimes in a Ford, it's not really Microsoft's fault that people create crimes with Powerpoint. It's called restraint, people.

Which brings to mind an AUSA Convention I attended in the 90's. I was walking down the hall where the breakout rooms were and I saw a group of officers standing in the hall looking into a room. On the screen was a Powerpoint presentation that had all the bells and whistles - graphics sliding in from the sides, fades, dissolves, cute noises - all the things that annoy me about Powerpoint and people who can't control their urges to destroy a briefing. The kicker was two guys walking by with divisional patches on their shoulders - they took a look in the room and said "Huh, must be a TRADOC briefing. No one else has the time for that crap."

Heh.

My other pet peeve? People who don't understand the embedded meta-data in their presentations - generating 50 meg presentations they could reduce to two - if they'd just compress/convert their graphics. You know, that sexy graphic, with 200 graphic elements, each merely a re-sized full-size graphic stolen from some other presentation and "grouped," so that each contains the full data of the original.

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by John on Jan 03, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

December 31, 2006

Operation Beastmaster

Operation Beastmaster

Dec 29, 2006 BY Staff Sgt. Kason Fark, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regimen -

BAGHDAD - Staring down at an empty lot, Spc. Craig McBaine wondered how such a tranquil neighborhood could be the scene of so much carnage.

Nicknamed "IED Alley East," this 700-meter stretch of barren earth has been the scene of many attacks against coalition and Iraqi security forces.

On this day, the patch of land, bordered on three sides by once-beautiful three-story houses, is occupied by up-armored Humvees, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Abrams Battle Tanks, all in support of Operation Beastmaster.

During Beastmaster, troops from the 4th Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division cleared three large neighborhoods in the western Baghdad suburb of Ghazaliya. The sight of much sectarian violence, Ghazaliya is the battle ground for Sunni insurgents trying to push back the overwhelming Shia population in the northern and eastern areas of Baghdad.

"Alternate Supply Route Sword," the U.S. military's name for the largest road running through southern Ghazaliya, is also the in-road from Fallujah to Baghdad proper.

Having just arrived weeks ago, Soldiers of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, attached to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, have set upon the goal of taking over the security of Ghazaliya from the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.

"It's been pretty crazy already," McBaine said. The Florida native's patrol would later be hit multiple times by small arms fire, a rocket-propelled grenade and a roadside bomb.

Based out of Fort Bliss, Texas, 2-12 Cavalry is part of the 1st Cavalry Division's newest brigade - the 4th "Long Knife" Brigade Combat Team. While the unit may be new to El Paso, Texas, it is no stranger to combat.

2-12 Cavalry was de-activated shortly after its return from Operation Iraqi Freedom II in March 2005. The unit has also earned streamers in other conflicts such as World War II, Vietnam, and Desert Storm. The unit was the first U.S. unit in Leyte and Japan. The unit re-activated at Fort Bliss 18 months after returning from Iraq.

Participation in operations such as Beastmaster with the Iraqi Army is the key to handing Iraq back over to its people. The Iraqi soldiers involved were being observed by coalition forces to gauge their ability to perform urban warfare tasks.

Overall, Operation Beastmaster was a huge success. In the course of three days of house to house searches, the Iraqi Army troops uncovered seven weapons caches, numerous roadside bomb-making materials and captured a high-value target.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 31, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 29, 2006

The man certainly makes use of avenues not available to his victims.

Saddam Hussein will be executed no later than Saturday, said an Iraqi judge authorized to attend his hanging. American and Iraqi officials met to set the hour of his death. Lawyers for Saddam Hussein asked a U.S. judge to block his transfer to the custody of Iraqi officials poised to carry out his execution.

Hussein's lawyers filed documents Friday afternoon asking for a stay of execution. The 21-page request was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington before Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

Attorneys argued that because Hussein also faces a civil lawsuit in Washington, he has rights as a civil defendant that would be violated if he is executed. He has not received notice of those rights and the consequences that the lawsuit would have on his estate, his attorneys said.

"To protect those rights, defendant Saddam Hussein requests an order of this court providing a stay of his execution until further notice of this court," attorney Nicholas Gilman wrote.

A similar request by the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court, Awad Hamed al-Bandar, was denied Thursday and is under appeal. Al-Bandar also faces execution. The Justice Department argued in that case that U.S. courts have no jurisdiction to interfere with the judicial process of another country.

Read the rest here, plus another discussion of the impending event here.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 29, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 28, 2006

Milblogger wounded.

No, a wounded milblogger isn't any more important than any other wounded warrior. But these are people we know, and through whom we get a little view into the world of the deployed soldier. No more important, just more... accessible. And just like Major Z of From My Position, this is a wounded milblogger who will probably give us another window into Walter Reed and rehab, an important aspect where these soldiers show a completely different level and type of courage and struggle to overcome and adapt.

J.R. Salzman, of Lumberjack in a Desert has been wounded by an IED.

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it is hard for me to tell you all this but i was hurt by an ied here. my right arm has been amputated below the elbow, my left has four working fingers. my legs are fine so l can still logroll! i am on my way to the hospital in germany, then back to the states for more care. i am in high spirits. i am going to be ok, but i will have a long road to recovery. please remember me in your prayers, as well as those who were injured with me. i will let you know more as time passes.

This soldier was from the same unit in the Minnesota Army Guard who gave us the "Halp us Jon Carry" banner. JR wasn't one of the people in that photo, but he *did* meet the creator!

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Rest assured, the Elves (Chuck and Fuzzybear Lioness) of Project Valour-IT are already on it, having been alerted by AFSis.

Standing tall and maintaining a good attitude. These kids are every bit as tough as their forebears. The Republic is well served. Well served indeed.

Update: The Elves are quick. From email: "...it should be delivered next weekend, assuming they can get ahold of Salzman's family to arrange for the meeting. "

Those of you who contribute to Project Valour-IT - thank you ever so much.

Updated update: Hello to visitors from NRO. You'll probably appreciate the post above this one, too. More importantly... Just a note regarding the Valour-IT link: the entire Soldiers' Angels website is being redone and the server transfer left a ton of stuff scrambled on the Valour-IT section of the site. They're working on it. We apologize for the mess.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 28, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 17, 2006

Canadian Air Force Deliberately Unloads on US Positions in Afghanistan.

Bill and Dusty could relate to these guys, methinks.

The Hercules twists and turns through the mountain canyon. The gritty mountainsides seem to press in on either side of the wingtips. We run so close to the edges that paths across the hills are clearly visible to the naked eye. A Taliban fighter with a strong arm could probably hit the Hercules with a stone.

This is an aircraft nearly the size of a Boeing 737 thundering along a narrow pass between soaring peaks. For a passenger, it's like racing in an Air Canada flight between the skyscrapers on Bay Street in downtown Toronto.

Then it's time to retreat back up to the clouds. The captain pulls the plane into an abrupt, steep climb that buckles the knees of anyone standing upright. Arms and legs, even the head, become impossibly heavy.

Moments later, the plane levels off. The flight is once again calm and level. The crew is elated.

The first officer, Captain Victor Mota of Toronto, says this is the kind of intense, demanding flying he could never find working for a commercial airline.

The risks are high, but so are the professional and personal rewards of accomplishing tough missions against formidable odds.

"It's just awesome," he says.

There's a little bit of R.E. Lee in Captain Mota, as indeed there is in most career soldiers. Read the rest of the story here. H/t, CAPT H.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 17, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 15, 2006

Thanksgiving in the Wilderness

Heidi's Thanksgiving, 2006. Via Heidi's Mom.

Thanksgiving 2006 - Afghanistan

Click the picture for a larger version.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 15, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 14, 2006

Specialist McGinnis update.

From my correspondent in the 1st Cav.

John,

MOH recommendation moved up today for Division Commander’s signature. We had some bad weather in Taji, but the packet was eventually specially flown from his unit’s FOB. FYI his battalion is assigned to 2/1 ID, one of our 7 BCTs, but was task organized to 2nd Brigade, 2nd ID, another of our 7 BCTs, so a lot of units will get the privilege of honoring his heroism.

First Team.

C

As I alluded to in my post and Matthew Maynard points out in full - there are 141 precedents. And, as Matt has pointed out - the kid was a lion.

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by John on Dec 14, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 07, 2006

Heh. Sergeant Boggs speaks truth to power...

"War sucks but a world run by Islamofacists sucks more."

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by John on Dec 07, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

Band together or hang separately?

We’ve got a problem on our hands. The latest election has caused some cracks to form in the US domestic coalition supporting the war. Two camps seem to be forming and both are pointing fingers that accuse the other of being dumb or worse. One can be called ‘kick their backsides until they get tired of it and quit as the path to victory in Iraq’ while the other can be considered the ‘Ack! We need to take half a loaf and take a longer view even if means cozying up to crapheads to win in the Long War!’ And we’re starting to see some real hatred form between the two.

My stance found here and of the ‘Ack’ school of thought, makes me kind of unpopular in some circles. My unpopularity is evidenced not only be the response it got in that thread but also by Lex’s dissing it in an illustrative manner to voice his displeasure of the general position here, which puts him in the ‘my leg don’t get tired of butt kicking’ school. Luckily, I’m not alone and have good company (or more like I hide in the shadow of some choice people).

(Rest is below the fold. Modified 23:50 7/12/06)

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

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by Denizens on Dec 07, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 05, 2006

Jules Crittenden, on "The Dream of Mature Nations"

This will incite the maple-syrup swillers, perhaps.

A number of Canadians took offense recently to a Boston Herald column in which I slammed Canada and Europe in general for failing to hold up its end in this war for democracy, freedom and security. Specificially, I slammed them for being smug democracies that do little to help the truly oppressed of this world, while throwing insults at us and obstacles in our way.

Whatever I thought about their government's attitude toward Iraq, and the insults that were leveled at our president, Canadian soldiers have been fighting and dying in Afghanistan.

I would like to commend and thank the Canadians and others for what they are doing in Afghanistan, and to express my respect for their sacrifices.

But I would still like to know where the Canadians, the French and the Germans in particular were when we needed them in Iraq ... if only to get out of the way. In fact, we could use a lot more troops in Iraq right now. More to the point, the Iraqis could use a lot more troops. They could also use the knowledge that the world actually gives a damn and is willing to stand with them, rather than always against us.

Some people say they don't want the French there ... deer hunting with an accordian. Some people say coordinating a multinational force can create as many problems as it solves. More to the point, most people would say this is all idle and pointless dreaming.

But I'm an optimist and a dreamer. Why not? Tens of thousands of troops flooding in, under NATO leadership, to engage aggressively as we've seen them do in Afghanistan. Do these nations care about Iraq? They claim to. Do they care about freedom and stability in the Middle East? They pretend to. So let's end the hypocrisy. We all know what is needed in Iraq. It isn't a pullout.

Read the rest here.

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by John on Dec 05, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 04, 2006

Heh.

The first paragraph squares with my sources in the box and recently out.

The American military is fed up with Maliki. The ground commanders in Iraq felt betrayed by him this summer when he undermined a push to get control of the streets of Baghdad. The Iraqis failed to deliver on a promise to put enough troops on the ground. A four-star general who declined to be identified discussing a confidential conversation told of this encounter with Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who was in charge of day-to-day ground operations. "Do you have enough forces? Enough to clear an area and stay there to secure it 24/7?" Chiarelli replied, "Of course not." The four-star recalls replying, "It's going to fail, it's absolutely going to fail." The Americans never had enough forces to sweep even half the city, much less secure it. Maliki made their job tougher by in effect forbidding the U.S. military from taking on Shiite fighters; ordering them to lift roadblocks around Sadr City, the Shiite slum, and ordering them to release prisoners suspected of running death squads.

It's not clear whether the military made its frustrations known to the White House. Generals tend to salute and say can-do; if anything, the military has not been accurately portraying the dismal events on the ground, at least in the eyes of some White House aides. But with Donald Rumsfeld's departure, the Pentagon is entering a new era of leadership, in hopes it will be one in which the uniformed brass and their civilian bosses will communicate better. Gen. John Abizaid, the overall theater commander, and Gen. George Casey, the ground commander, are exhausted and overdue for replacement. ("There might be a sense that a fresh perspective is needed," said a senior White House aide.) Rumsfeld's former right-hand man, Stephen Cambone, has announced that he is stepping down. Others are expected to follow, stripping the Pentagon leadership of the group around Rumsfeld whose neocon certainties led to such catastrophic miscalculations in Iraq.

Read the whole thing here. I find the sublede mordantly apt: "Folks used to wonder why he didn't push into Baghdad. Baker doesn't hear that question much anymore."

The second paragraph is more troubling, if baldly true, vice filtered through Newsweek's editorial sunglasses. I suspect the truth is somewhat different, more from the effects of the normal filtering of impressions as they go up.

Just like in the intel community, when stark assessments are softened on the way up the briefing chain, the same happens in battlefield reporting.

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by John on Dec 04, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 03, 2006

A Commonwealth moment.

News of our Brothers-in-Arms from Canada and Australia.

The Canadians lost a Regimental Sergeant Major in Afghanistan. That is the equivalent in the US Army of losing a Command Sergeant Major, the senior Non-commissioned officer in a battalion-and-higher unit.

CAPT H sent me this, from the Globe and Mail:

Suicide bomber robs regiment of its soul. When Robert Girouard was killed, his unit lost more than its Chief Warrant Officer.

CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD

From Saturday's Globe and Mail

As Chief Warrant Officer Robert (Bobby) Girouard and Corporal Albert Storm came home to Canada last night, their flag-draped caskets arriving at CFB Trenton in a light rain, there was nothing to tell the non-military observer what a profound loss he was witnessing.

While the army properly grieves every fallen soldier equally, regardless of rank, the death of CWO Girouard was felt keenly not only on a personal level, but also as an enormous symbolic blow.

The 46-year-old husband and father of three wasn't just the senior non-commissioned officer of the 1st Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment, he was also the unit's Regimental Sergeant Major, the first of about 25 RSMs in the battalion's storied 123-year history to be killed by enemy action.

He and 36-year-old Cpl. Storm, a native of Fort Erie, Ont., and a father of two, died Monday when their Bison armoured personnel carrier was struck by a suicide bomber just west of the main base at Kandahar Air Field.

You should read the rest of Ms. Blatchford's piece, and can do so here.

Canada's warriors have had their own problems with the media not covering them all that well - if at all, topics mentioned elsewhere. What I think interesting in this story is how Ms. Blatchford, recognizing her lack of knowledge on the subject, chose to do some research.

She did do by using the Canadian Army Forums to gain some understanding.

Our own Damian, of The Torch, made a contribution to that thread. One that is illustrative of a good Sergeant Major. His co-blogger, Mark, has more to say on the subject.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

On a more upbeat note - Canadian Armour goes driving in the countryside. In Afghanistan. I do like The Torch's take on it.

Shifting over to Australia, Trias sends us this link showing that just day to day work in the military anywhere is dangerous. At least if you're training like you mean business.

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by John on Dec 03, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

November 30, 2006

Allies.

KEEPING WATCH — Polish army soldiers assigned to Multi-National Division Central - South, Camp Echo, Iraq, provide security for U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 3 personnel and 8th Iraqi Army Division soldiers as they search the home of a suspected insurgent, Nov. 20, 2006, in the village of Al Naimi, Iraq. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dawn M. Price


KEEPING WATCH — Polish army soldiers assigned to Multi-National Division Central - South, Camp Echo, Iraq, provide security for U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 3 personnel and 8th Iraqi Army Division soldiers as they search the home of a suspected insurgent, Nov. 20, 2006, in the village of Al Naimi, Iraq. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dawn M. Price


Other Allies: Canada in Kandahar, just can't get no respect from their press.

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by John on Nov 30, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

Fallujah, revisited.

The MSM spins things their way - here's the official government view. The truth, as always, probably lives somewhere in between.

Commentary: Fallujah Revisited

29 November 2006

By Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV
Multi-National Force-Iraq Spokesman

If you follow the news coming out of Iraq, you have seen too many headlines about the bloodshed in Baghdad in recent days. As American servicemen and women prepare to spend a fourth holiday season trying to help build a new Iraq, these headlines have led some people to conclude that our mission may be hopeless.

However, my recent visit to Fallujah has reaffirmed my strong conviction that as bad as the situation may sometimes appear, there is still reason to be optimistic for Iraq’s future.

Although it has been out of the headlines for some time, take a minute to recall why the name Fallujah resonates so strongly in our collective memory. Perhaps the most disturbing images of Operation Iraqi Freedom emanated from Fallujah on March 31, 2004, as the bodies of four murdered American contractors were desecrated and the charred corpses hung off the Euphrates River Bridge for the world to see. The “Fallujah Brigade,” a unit comprised of former Iraqi army officers, failed to prevent warlords allied with Al Qaeda in Iraq from effectively taking over the city. Foreign fighters and terrorist insurgents imposed a Taliban-like regime over the city, torturing and beheading innocent people who just wanted to enjoy the freedoms that resulted from the fall of Saddam Hussein. (One torture chamber later uncovered included cages in the basement and a wall covered with bloody handprints). With more than 100,000 explosive rounds stockpiled in weapons caches throughout the city, these invaders of Fallujah exported scores of suicide bombers bent on mass murder. The population of Fallujah fled in droves, reducing the number of residents to only 50-60,000. By October 2004, Fallujah was a city without security, without stability, and seemingly without hope.

In order to rescue the people of Fallujah and eliminate it as a base of operations for Al Qaida, Coalition forces launched Operation Al Fajr, or “The Dawn.” Led by American Marines, Coalition Forces battled 2-3,000 terrorists in fierce and sustained urban combat. Although Fallujah was liberated, half the city was decimated by the intense combat.

What has happened to Fallujah since that ferocious battle?

Last week, I saw a city of 350,000 people who have made incredible progress over the past two years. In the aftermath of Operation Al Fajr, in March of 2005, there were 3,000 United States Marines and only 300 Iraqi Security Forces in Fallujah. Today, the people of the city are protected by 1,500 members of their own Iraqi Security Force and only 300 Marines. The police are comprised of native Fallujans, and enjoy strong support from the local population. They are able to patrol their own neighborhoods, enforce their own laws, and handle the transition to responsibility for their own security and growth. Despite the sectarian violence which plagues other parts of the country, I saw the commander of the local Iraqi Army unit, a Shi’a, sit and work productively with the local police chief, a Sunni – a relationship few would have believed possible in Fallujah just a year ago.

I attended a city council meeting, where a democratically elected mayor and city council led the deliberations about the peoples’ business. To be honest, the Council’s discussion of traffic control was not exciting. But the mundane business of a functioning democracy can be uneventful when its institutions are working properly. At the same time, it was exciting to witness democracy in action on soil that once seemed entirely inhospitable. Membership of the Fallujah Business Association has grown from only 20 members last February to over 350 today, demonstrating optimism for economic growth. I even saw a processing center where Fallujah welcomes persons displaced by instability elsewhere.

Fallujah’s transition has not been easy. Terrorists and insurgents are waging a brutal campaign of murder and intimidation against the city’s government and police force. Unemployment remains high, and there is still much rebuilding to be done. But Colonel Larry Nicholson and the young Marines of Regimental Combat Team-5 firmly believe they have turned Fallujah into a model of what Iraq can become. Iraqis themselves support this hope, as families have been arriving in Fallujah en masse to seek shelter from instability in other parts of Iraq.

In October 2004, the world saw the incredible courage of the Coalition Force, as Marines did their part to create hope for Iraqis. Today, visitors to Fallujah can see the courage of Iraqis for themselves.

Difficult times remain ahead for the U.S. and Coalition Forces in Iraq. Many sacrifices remain to be made by both U.S.servicemen and women and their Iraqi partners in Fallujah. But the city is an example of what can be achieved when courageous leaders, brave security forces, and hard-working citizens unite for a common goal – a secure and unified future. The progress in Fallujah demonstrates that with time and effort, recovery is possible in Iraq in the wake of brutal violence.

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by John on Nov 30, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

November 29, 2006

What Extremists are Saying

CENTCOM sends:

“Part of winning this war on terror is to understand the nature of the enemy”

Hosting provided by FotoTime

First Issue of the Technical Mujahid, a New Periodic Magazine Related to Technology and Internet Security Published by al-Fajr Information Center

The first issue of what is indicated to be a period magazine, “Technical Mujahid” [Al-Mujahid al-Teqany], published by al-Fajr Information Center, was electronically distributed to password-protected jihadist forums Tuesday, November 28, 2006.

This edition, 64-pages in length, contains articles that primarily deal with computer and Internet security, in addition to other pieces explaining Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites and video types, editing, and encoding into different formats. The editors of the publication state that it was written to heed the directives of the Emir of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, and his call for technical support. Material such as this, regarding anonymity on the Internet, concealing of personal files locally on a computer, and utilizing all schemes of encryption, is to serve as electronic jihad, and a virtual means of supporting the Mujahideen.

Like individual postings made by jihadist forum members concerning Internet security and protection of incriminating files, or manuals that were provided by the Global Islamic Media Front for the same, the “Technical Mujahid” demonstrates the technical acumen of the jihadists. Articles like, “The Technique of Concealing Files from View” and “How to Protect Your Files, Even if Your Device was Penetrated,” were written for the intermediate to advanced user, and describe a variety of methods and software that provide security. Links to download referenced software, such as the VMware virtual machine, and key generators to unlock features are also given by the editors. Another writer discusses PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) software and determines that its encryption is not adequate for the needs of the Mujahideen.

Another article, The Last Card: We Need it in their Homeland, written by a member of the information office of the Islamic Army in Iraq , like the editorial contained in the magazine and an introductory message, emphasizes the great purpose of jihad in the information sector. This front is determined by the author to be “a main pillar in the battle of Islam against the Crusaders and the polytheist belief”. To this end, advertisements for the most recent Juba sniper video from the Islamic Army in Iraq and a news caption about its release on DVDs in Iraq, is used as an example.

For future issues, the editors urge members of the jihadist Internet community to submit articles in the field of technology for publishing. They write: “My kind, technical Mujahid brother, the magnitude of responsibility which is placed upon you is equal to what you know in the regard of information. Do not underestimate anything that you know; perhaps a small article that you write and publish can benefit one Mujahid in the Cause of Allah or can protect a brother of yours in Allah. This way you will gain the great reward with the permission of Allah”.



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by John on Nov 29, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

Pilot Earns Distinguished Flying Cross

Someone you should know, if you haven't seen this elsewhere. I'm sure the NYT didn't find it newsworthy.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2006 — Back in March in Iraq , Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lori Hill, with the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, was piloting her Kiowa Warrior when the lead chopper came under heavy fire. She drew the fire away, simultaneously providing suppressive fire for the troops engaged with the enemy on the ground.

A rocket-propelled grenade hit her, damaging the helo’s instrumentation, but instead of focusing on her predicament, she established communication with the ground forces and continued to provide them with aerial weapon support until the soldiers reached safety.

As she turned her attention to the aircraft, which was losing hydraulic power, the helo took on machine-gun fire, a round crashing into one of Hill’s ankles. Still,

with a damaged aircraft and an injury, she landed at Forward Operating Base Normandy, saving her crew and aircraft.

For her actions she was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross by Vice President Richard Cheney at Fort Campbell , Ky. , on Oct. 16.

Vice President Richard Cheney presents the Distinguished Flying Cross to Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lori Hill in a ceremony at Fort Campbell , Ky. on Oct. 16. U.S. Army photo


Vice President Richard Cheney presents the Distinguished Flying Cross to Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lori Hill in a ceremony at Fort Campbell , Ky. on Oct. 16. U.S. Army photo


“It’s was a once-in-a-lifetime thing to get the award and then have the vice president come and award it to you,” she said. “It’s just incredible for any soldier.”


Recalling that day in March, Hill reflected, “I was actually just glad I didn’t pass out and very happy I was able to help the ground guys out, and get our helicopter down safely on the ground.”

Right hand to the right eyebrow, Chief.

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by John on Nov 29, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

November 28, 2006

Uh-oh.

NEWS RELEASE

HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND
7115 South Boundary Boulevard

Title: USAF F-16 CRASH INVESTIGATION BEGINS

Description: SOUTHWEST ASIA — The interim safety investigation board convened by U.S. Central Command Air Forces has begun its efforts to gather evidence to determine what caused a United States Air Force F-16C to crash approximately 20 miles northwest of Baghdad at about 1:35 p.m. Monday.

The single-seat jet was in direct support of extensive coalition ground combat operations when it crashed in an uninhabited field.

Coalition reconnaissance assets and fighter aircraft were overhead when the crash occurred and confirmed that insurgents were in the vicinity of the crash site immediately following the crash.

Ground forces secured the crash scene Monday as soon as the extensive ground combat operations in the area had ceased. The primary concerns of USCENTAF in responding to this incident have been the safety of Coalition forces and the recovery of the pilot. The pilot was not found at the crash site and his status cannot be confirmed at this time. The investigation board has collected DNA samples from the crash site and will release results upon completion of testing.

The F-16 was deployed to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Balad Air Base, Iraq. The accident investigation convening authority is Air Combat Command.


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by John on Nov 28, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

November 27, 2006

Jonathan Chait thinks the unthinkable...

From his LA Times piece (and you should read the whole thing, not just my selective quoting):

THE DEBATE about Iraq has moved past the question of whether it was a mistake (everybody knows it was) to the more depressing question of whether it is possible to avert total disaster. Every self-respecting foreign policy analyst has his own plan for Iraq. The trouble is that these tracts are inevitably unconvincing, except when they argue why all the other plans would fail. It's all terribly grim.

So allow me to propose the unthinkable: Maybe, just maybe, our best option is to restore Saddam Hussein to power.

He goes on:


At the outset of the war, I had no high hopes for Iraqi democracy, but I paid no attention to the possibility that the Iraqis would end up with a worse government than the one they had. It turns out, however, that there is something more awful than totalitarianism, and that is endless chaos and civil war.

One can only expect that Mr. Chait finds this next quote, well, quaint, outmoded, and astonishingly naive...

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. John Stuart Mill English economist & philosopher (1806 - 1873)

Oh, there's no doubt we screwed the pooch in Iraq, and that Rumsfeld's Way of War was certainly an incomplete doctrine if you were going to do something other than fight the Big War. Rumsfeld's Way of War is really more of the Way of A Campaign, and especially a campaign that is a supporting effort.

Too many invalid assumptions were made, and weak, uncoordinated planning between the relevant US agencies, not to mention the seemingly deliberate sabotage by some elements of the US government directed at others, such as the strife between the CIA, State, and Defense. And that was all the professional bureaucrats there - the long-termers, a problem that spans Presidents and parties. But, President Bush was in charge, and he failed to take heed and bring those people to heel. Of course, I know from long experience in government myself they can be a hard breed to bring to heel.

I also know that nothing is as ever clear while it's happening as it is after the dust has settled, which is one reason I don't get as shirt-rendingly shrill as some when things turn out to have been a cock-up. I get shrill when people won't fix what is now clearly wrong, and this President seems to have left that to his successor, not that he'd get much done now, anyway. They can wait him out.

But that's a digression.

Chait is on to something. Perhaps not Saddam, but whoever rises in his place. The ultimate in realpolitik. Who cares what's going on somewhere as long as it doesn't affect us directly. The silence of the grave is preferable to chaos... at least as long as it isn't our personal grave.

Problem is, Mr. Chait - as long as your doctrine prevails, little advances, really, and the rule of law is really eroded, until we're completely back to the rule of men. Tribalism Resurgent.

I can hear the intake of breath, and see the fingers poised over the keyboards of some readers - Rule of Law? What part of torture, and illegal wars have you missed, Donovan?

Heh. The fact that we discuss torture, the fact that people can call the President a liar who made up an excuse for war and should be sent to The Hague to stand trial, the fact that terrorists are tried in courts and have lawyers (whatever limits may be placed on them because the terrs are truly dangerous people), and that Famous People and Faceless People make these claims... yet there hasn't been one "disappearance," or "death under suspicious circumstances," or mass arrests and imprisonments, and that government policies are challenged in multiple venues argues that the rule of law is actually working quite well, despite what the loons at DU think. Or the loons at Freeper during the Clinton administration.

But Chait is essentially arguing that peace at any cost is preferable.

I'm in Mill's camp.

Discuss.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 27, 2006
» The Thunder Run links with: Web Reconnaissance for 11/27/2006

November 21, 2006

Support and the Soul

Jules Crittenden's provocative column, "Quitting a Worthy Fight Would Be a Great Mistake," has created some interesting discussion on his blog. The issue of "supporting" the troops but not the war came up in the context of the reception Vietnam veterans received upon their return home.

When the U.S. military went into Afghanistan, I had a powerful personal reaction to thoughts of what was being done on my behalf. It was a reaction of overwhelming sorrow and humblest gratitude. At a level that was as yet inarticulate, I understood I was inextricably linked to what happened on the battlefield and that the aftermath of those events created in me and every other U.S. citizen a response born of moral obligation and a debt that would never be repaid. And so from that day I knew at a deeper level than ever that support for our military and its goals was my obligation now that the fighting had started.

But yesterday at Crittenden's blog, a commenter finally gave me words for what I knew in my heart five years ago. He articulated exactly why it's not only incorrect to say one can support the troops without supporting their goals, it's morally reprehensible.

I had first written in comments (in part):

...[Vietnam veteran] soldiers who came home and were told their service was either dishonorable or useless (due to us giving up) had a harder time coping with the psychological and physical aftermath of that service. Humans can bear an amazing amount of suffering if they believe it is a result of [in service of] something noble or admirable, but being told they suffer for nothing good can literally make it harder to cope.


The response from commenter NAMedic:

As a combat medic and Vietnam Veteran who is 100% disabled due to PTSD, I can confirm the general point you make. It was not until five or six years of therapy, peeling away all the layers of horror from the war, that the final root of my problems was revealed. The worst trauma was in coming home, by far, and by far it was the hardest to see, and the most painful to admit. [snip]

A nation cannot ask normal human beings to engage in warfare unless that nation, top to bottom, validates what they have to do in such extremities. Normal human beings cannot remain psychologically whole, believing that their behavior was immoral - and all warfare is internally recognized by any soldier as profoundly immoral unless it is validated by a "higher power" outside the individual soldier.


Yes, it is our obligation to fight a wrong policy with every ounce of our strength before it is implemented, particularly when it involves issues of life and death. But war is a very special case, for so many lives hang in the physical and psychological balance. Once a war has begun, there can be only one course of action. To do otherwise than embrace the soldier for what he does for you is a kind of pernicious evil that takes the selfishness of one's natural desire to avoid the ugliness of this world to a new low [quote continued from above]:

This is also why the whole pose of "support the troops but oppose the war" is so insane and naive, if not deliberately and hypocritically self-serving. The "support" that counts, the only support that counts, is moral validation. If you oppose the war, you are withholding that very validation. You are destroying the soldier’s soul.

Yes, this is a democracy and you have every right to think your soldiers are on a fool's errand. But once it's been started, shut the hell up! Let them do what they must to win so that the duration is shorter and the suffering is less.

With the military power we possess, we have the capacity to win any conflict (it simply matters how much damage we want to inflict), so you cannot argue that a war we are engaged in is fundamentally unwinnable. It simply comes down to whether or not you want to pay the cost. If you don't, or you think that the prosecution of that war is a bad thing, then fine. But the only other option to winning is losing. So face up to it and admit that you want our soldiers to lose, you want them to believe they are doing immoral things for no moral reason, you want their death and suffering to be in vain, and that you are (in the words of someone who has "been there, done that") "destroying the soldier's soul."

Don't you dare stand there and clothe yourself in the rightousness of being "anti-war!" For your actions are not only prolonging the conflict and increasing physical suffering (on both sides), but they are robbing your fellow citizens of the healing they require for what they have done in your defense. And no, short of taking up citizenship in another country, you cannot repudiate their gift to you. It is always there, staring you in the face whether you pick it up or not. And frankly it's a defining moment for your philosophy and and relationship to humanity: are you going to pick it up and embrace the giver in sorrow and gratitude? Or are you going to try to simultaneously kick aside his gift as stupid at best and try to tell him that walking the darkness with the demons was wasted on you as you assure him you "support" him?

This is why what Code Pink did in the beginning months of their protest at Walter Reed ("Maimed for a Lie," etc.) was so evil. This is why military support volunteers do what they do. This is why a wounded senior NCO at WR once said to a friend of mine: If it wasn't for y'all [the volunteers here], half these boys would be suicidal.

War is not something that happens to others on a distant shore. It happens to all of us, and all of us have an impact on how it plays out and what happens to those most directly involved. What's your impact?

If you haven't yet, please read NAMedic's entire comment at Crittenden's; he has important things to say.

[A cross-post from Fuzzilicious Thinking, with the Armorer's permission]

[Say, rather, at the Armorer's urging... -the Armorer]

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by Denizens on Nov 21, 2006

November 17, 2006

News you can use. Next OIF and OEF Rotational Units.

Operation Iraqi Freedom:

IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1169-06 November 17, 2006

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DoD Announces Units for Next Operation Iraqi Freedom Rotation


The Department of Defense announced today the first of the major units scheduled to deploy as part of the next Operation Iraqi Freedom rotation. This announcement involves one Army division headquarters and five Army combat brigades consisting of approximately 20,000 service members. The scheduled rotation for the forces identified in this announcement will begin in early 2007.

Force levels in Iraq continue to be conditions-based, and are determined based on the recommendations of military commanders in Iraq and in consultation with the Iraqi government. U.S. force rotations will be tailored based upon changes in the security situation. Iraqi security forces continue to develop capability and assume responsibility for security in Iraq.

This rotation continues the U.S. commitment to the stability and security of Iraq, yet is flexible and adaptable in order to meet the evolving requirements for the mission.

For Operation Iraqi Freedom, the major units announced today are:

3rd Infantry Division Headquarters, Fort Stewart, Ga.

4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Ks.

4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wa.

3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.

1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C

173rd Airborne Brigade, Vicenza, Italy

The department also alerted approximately 27,000 active duty and 10,000 reserve component troops in combat support and combat service support units smaller than brigade-size elements for deployment beginning in 2007.

DoD will continue to announce major unit deployments as they are identified and those units are alerted. The individual services will announce the smaller, supporting units for this rotation. For information on the units announced today or other units involved in this rotation, please contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.

Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan):

IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1170-06 November 17, 2006

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DoD Announces Unit for Next Afghanistan Rotation


The Department of Defense announced today that the 218th Brigade Combat Team, South Carolina Army National Guard, will deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to train the Afghan National Security Forces. The scheduled rotation will begin in early 2007, and will include approximately 1,500 service members as presently envisioned.

The department also alerted approximately 6,200 active duty and 600 Reservists in combat support and combat service support units smaller than brigade-size elements for deployment beginning in 2007.

This deployment reflects the continued U.S. commitment to Afghanistan. Force levels in Afghanistan continue to be conditions-based, and are determined based on the recommendations of military commanders in Afghanistan and in consultation with the Afghan government. U.S. force rotations will be tailored based upon changes in the security situation. Afghan security forces continue to develop capability and assume responsibility for security in Afghanistan.

DoD will continue to release major unit announcements as they are identified and alerted. The individual services will announce the smaller, supporting units for this rotation. For information on the units announced today or other units involved in this rotation, please contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.

Mobilized National Guard and Reserve Units:

IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1159-06 November 15, 2006

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

National Guard (in Federal Status) and Reserve Mobilized as of November 15, 2006


This week, the Marine Corps and Coast Guard announced a increase in the number of reservists on active duty in support of the partial mobilization, while the Army, Navy and Air Force had a decrease. The net collective result is 561 fewer reservists mobilized than last week.

At any given time, services may mobilize some units and individuals while demobilizing others, making it possible for these figures to either increase or decrease. Total number currently on active duty in support of the partial mobilization for the Army National Guard and Army Reserve is 78,964; Navy Reserve, 5,288; Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, 6,008; Marine Corps Reserve, 7,344; and the Coast Guard Reserve, 363. This brings the total National Guard and Reserve personnel, who have been mobilized, to 97,967, including both units and individual augmentees.

A cumulative roster of all National Guard and Reserve personnel, who are currently mobilized, can be found at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov2006/d20061115ngr.pdf .


Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 17, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

Ralph Peters and Captain (P) Dave Baer.

In my email I got the following two bits, on the same day.

Arabian Nightmares, by Ralph Peters.

With Iraqi society decomposing - or, at best, reverting to a medieval state with cell phones - the debate in Washington over whether to try to save the day by deploying more troops or withdrawing some is of secondary relevance.

What really matters is what our forces are ordered - and permitted - to do. With political correctness permeating our government and even the upper echelons of the military, we never tried the one technique that has a solid track record of defeating insurgents if applied consistently: the rigorous imposition of public order.

That means killing the bad guys. Not winning their hearts and minds, placating them or bringing them into the government. Killing them.

If you're not willing to lay down a rule that any Iraqi or foreign terrorist masquerading as a security official or military member will be shot, you can't win. And that's just one example of the type of sternness this sort of fight requires.

In a timely, but perhaps more important way, I got this, from an officer now in Iraq, training the Iraqi Army - an officer who's boss, LTC Paul Finken, was killed two weeks ago - but there's no lessening of the fight in Dave.

Mr. Donovan,

By all means send my note on to his family. Before I got this job on the MiTT, I was a mechanized infantry company commander in southeast Baghdad and I lost two soldiers so I know what it's like to write letters of condolence and what kind of loss his family must be feeling. You always hear certain people in Congress talk about leaving Iraq because of the horrible casualties we are taking and whatnot. However, they never seem to be the ones with family over here doing the grunt work. And as for casualties, each loss is a blow, but overall we have been extremely lucky to have as few deaths as we have had since 2003. No one in D.C. ever seems to ask guys like me what we think because they know that we would tell them that we have to stay until the job is done. If you want to win in Iraq, you have to take the gloves off like we did in OIF I and OIF II. We were aggressive and violently kinetic. It worked and the bad guys were deathly afraid of us and the people of Iraq respected us. Now we use kid gloves and the bad guys walk all over us and the people of Iraq don't think they should support us because we may pack up and leave and then they would be the object of reprisals. It's the hard right (lots of offensive action and firepower and not afraid to use it in a city) or the easy wrong (the kinder, gentler approach to dealing with terrorists to try and avoid casualties). I know which one works and which one doesn't. I know which one will solve this "problem". It will break a few eggs, but in the end we will have an omelet that will be passably good and tasty.

I told him he was channeling Ralph Peters' Arabian Nightmares piece (which wasn't released when Dave sent the note above).

Channeling Ralph Peters? I don't think anyone has ever paid me that nice of a compliment before. Now if you throw in Matt Ridgway and Jumpin' Jim Gavin I would really feel like a great guy. Anyway, sure you can publish anything that I put in my emails. I never send anything that I wouldn't want my boss to see. I think that the basic message that I would like to get out (and one that my soldiers heartily agree with) is that we can and will win this war if we take the gloves off and stomp the guts out of anyone that so much as says "boo" to us. The American soldier is trained and disciplined to the point that we should have no reservations as to their ability to discriminate between innocent people and legitimate targets. Massive firepower brought down on any transgressor is the answer. Sometimes you need to use a sledgehammer to crack a walnut if you want people to pay attention and learn the correct lessons in life. If an IED blows up outside someones house and the homeowners tell you that they don't know anything about, bulldoze the house and salt the ground. After you do that two or three times, Iraqis will shoot the terrorists themselves to protect their homes. I realize that this may not be totally in keeping with some people's concept of "the American way of war", but if we are in it to win it, we need to take all the steps required to totally destroy the terrorists ability to make war on us and turn the population against them. Right now, because of our kid glove approach, there is no threat to the average Iraqi that helps the terrorists or turns a blind eye. We have to make it painful to the point that the Iraqi people say, "These Americans are serious about winning and they won't stop until they have won." No Iraqi is worth the life of one American soldier. I want Iraq to have a solid stable country with an elected government. I want this more than most Iraqis do, but we can't get to that point unless we kill enough of the e bad guys that the survivors surrender, leave the country, or give up and start selling Zam-Zam on the side of the road. War is an ugly business, but it is even uglier if you don't play to win.

David J. Baer
CPT(P), IN
3/2/6 IA MiTT Team Chief

Here's one soldier whose morale is not being ground down by the enemy he faces. If it's being eroded, it's by the people who putatively support him.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 17, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

November 16, 2006

News from the Front.

Literally. I noted in a previous post that I knew LTCs Paul Finken and Eric Krueger, who were killed by an IED just before he was to return to the United States from Iraq. I received an email from one of Paul's officers.

I was reading your website and noticed that you mentioned LTC Finken and his passing. He was the 2/6 IA MiTT Team Chief and I am the 3/2/6 IA MiTT Team Chief. He was an enjoyable person to work for and certainly had a great understanding of the difficulties inherent in training and leading Iraqi soldiers. It's not always the case in the Army that your immediate superior is someone who is willing to actually listen to what you have to say and take heed of it, but LTC Finken was one of those officers. All of us will miss him and the Army is a lesser place without
him. It's just a damn shame that he died within a couple days of him leaving Iraq. On a lighter note, I have always enjoyed perusing your blog (when I have the time) and certainly appreciate the humor and insights. Keep up the good work.

David J. Baer
CPT(P), IN
3/2/6 IA MiTT Team Chief

I have had some more emails with the good Captain Baer, which you will see more of when I am able to compose a suitably well-crafted post for them. Oh, like tomorrow.

This is up today so that anyone googling for Paul Finken will hopefully come upon this. A leader couldn't ask for much better an epitaph than...

It's not always the case in the Army that your immediate superior is someone who is willing to actually listen to what you have to say and take heed of it, but LTC Finken was one of those officers.
Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 16, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

November 06, 2006

The war comes home to Castle Argghhh! again.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1123-06 November 06, 2006

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DoD Identifies Army Casualties


The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Nov. 2 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an IED detonated near their vehicles.

Killed were:

Lt. Col. Paul J. Finken, 40, of Mason City, Iowa.

Lt. Col. Eric J. Kruger, 40, of Garland, Texas.

Staff Sgt. Joseph A. Gage, 28, of Modesto, Calif.

Finken and Gage were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky. Kruger was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.

We knew about this last week, DoD doesn't release the official releases until the notifications are complete, and then gives the families a few days to adjust.

Subject: Sad news from Iraq

I received some tragic news from Iraq this evening and I wanted to share it with you all. LTC Paul Finken, who used to work for all of you, was killed today in Iraq. He was conducting a right-seat ride with the unit that was to relieve him when the HMMWV they were riding in was hit by an IED. From what I understand, all four passengers in the HMMWV were killed. Paul was scheduled to return home in two weeks from his second tour in Iraq with the 101st. During this last tour, Paul led a MITT team, supporting an Iraqi Army Brigade in Baghdad. MAJ B, another former employee assigned to the 101st Division who went to NPS with Paul and me, called me with the news this evening.

Paul's wife was notified this afternoon while their three daughters were at school. They are all now at their home surrounded by many close friends and loved ones. I'm sure they would appreciate all of our thoughts and prayers.

I will update you all with additional information as I receive it. Please keep the Finken family in your thoughts and prayers.

[edited for privacy]

What I didn't know at the time is the name of LTC Kruger, another officer I know from previous assignments.

Paul was featured in this MSNBC video clip from earlier this year. Wait for the report by Mike Boettcher.

Actually, it's been a busy email box today.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1122-06
November 06, 2006

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DoD Identifies Army Casualties


The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died of injuries suffered when an IED detonated near their vehicle Oct. 31 in Wygal Valley, Afghanistan. All soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

Killed were:

Maj. Douglas E. Sloan, 40, of Evans Mills, N.Y.

Sgt. Charles J. McClain, 26, of Fort Riley, Kan. He later died in Asadabad, Afghanistan.

Pfc. Alex Oceguera, 19, of San Bernardino, Calif.

And again...

IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1124-06
November 06, 2006

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DoD Identifies Army Casualty


The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Spc. James L. Bridges, 22, of Buhl, Idaho, died Nov. 4 in Baghdad, Iraq, when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations. Bridges was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Fort Wainwright, Ala.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

by John on Nov 06, 2006

November 03, 2006

New Marine Gear.

Just checking to see if you're paying attention...


The Marine Corps is engaged in an acquisition program to develop a Tactical Unmanned Ground Vehicle in order to provide the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) with a tele-operated/semi-autonomous ground vehicle for remoting combat tasks in order to reduce risk to Marines and neutralize threats. The Gladiator is designed principally to support dismounted infantry during the performance of their mission, across the spectrum of conflict and range of military operations. The primary function of the Gladiator will be to provide the Ground Combat Element (GCE) with unmanned scouting and reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA). Operating forward of GCE units, the Gladiator will perform scouting and reconnaissance tasks while permitting the operator to remain covered and concealed some distance away. Additional functions of the Gladiator system will be to utilize a modular configuration capable of employing the Anti-Personnel/Obstacle Breaching System (APOBS), M240G/M249 Machine Guns, and currently fielded chemical detection systems. With the development of future Mission Payload Modules (MPM), projected operational capabilities include: obscurant delivery; direct fire (lethal and non-lethal); communications relay; tactical deception (electronic and acoustic); combat resupply; casualty evacuation, or counter sniper employment. These modules will allow commanders to increase their operational capability by tailoring the capabilities of the Gladiator to best meet their mission requirements.

H/t, mostly Strategy Page with a little help from GW.

by John on Nov 03, 2006

October 23, 2006

October 23, 1983.

Smoke and dust rise from the bombed Marine Barracks at the Beirut International Airport, October 23, 1983.  The mushroom cloud probably still makes Ahmadinejad all funny in his pants and fires his dreams.

Beirut.

Abbott, Terry W. .......... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. OH .. New Richmond, OH
Alexander, Clemon S. ...... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Monticello, FL
Allman, John R. ........... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. NM .. Carlsbad ... NM
Arnold, Moses J. Jr. ...... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. Philadelphia, PA
Bailey, Charles K. ........ USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. MD .. Berlin, MD
Baker, Nicholas ........... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. VA .. Alexandria, VA
Banks, Johansen ........... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. MI .. Detroit, MI
Barrett, Richard E. ....... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. VA .. Tappahanock, VA
Bates, Ronny K. ........... USN .... HM1 .... 10/23/1983 .. SC .. Aiken, SC
Battle, David L. .......... USMC ... 1stSGT . 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Hubert, NC
Baynard, James R. ......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. VA .. Richmond, VA
Beamon, Jesse W. .......... USN .... HN ..... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Haines City, FL
Belmer, Alvin. ............ USMC ... GYSGT .. 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Bland, Stephen ............ USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Midway Park, NC
Blankenship, Richard L. ... USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Hubert, NC
Blocker, John W. .......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Yulee, FL
Boccia, Joseph J. Jr. ..... USMC ... CAPT ... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Northport, NY
Bohannon, Leon Jr. ........ USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Bohnet, John R. Jr. ....... USMC ... SSGT ... 10/23/1983 .. TN .. Memphis, TN
Bonk, John J. Jr. ......... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. Philadelphia, PA
Boulos, Jeffrey L. ........ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Islip, NY
Bousum, David R. .......... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. MI .. Fife Lake, MI
Boyett, John N. ........... USMC ... 1stLT .. 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Camp Lejeune, NC
Brown, Anthony ............ USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. MI .. Detroit, MI
Brown, David W. ........... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. TX .. Conroe, TX
Buchanan, Bobby S. Jr. .... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Midway Park, NC
Buckmaster, John B. ....... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. OH .. Vandalia, OH
Burley, William F. ........ USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. NJ .. Linden, NJ
Cain, Jimmy R. ............ USN .... HN ..... 10/23/1983 .. AL .. Birmington, AL
Callahan, Paul L. ......... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. OH .. Lorain, OH
Camara, Mecot E. .......... USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Campus, Bradley J. ........ USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. MA .. Lynn, MA
Ceasar, Johnnie D. ........ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. TX .. El Campo, TX
Cole, Marc L. ............. USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. OH .. Ludlow Falls, OH
Coleman, Marcus A. ........ USA .... SP4 .... 10/23/1983 .. TX .. Dallas, TX
Comas, Juan M. ............ USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Hialeah, FL
Conley, Robert A .......... USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Orlando, FL
Cook, Charles D. .......... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Advance, NC
Cooper, Curtis J. ......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. North Wales, PA
Copeland, Johnny L. ....... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Burlington, NC
Corcoran, Bert D. ......... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Katonah, NY
Cosner, David L. .......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. WV .. Elkins, WV
Coulman, Kevin P. ......... USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Seminary, NY
Croft, Brett A. ........... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Lakeland, FL
Crudale, Rick R. .......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. RI .. Warwick, RI
Custard, Kevin P. ......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. MN .. Virginia, MN
Cyzick, Russell E. ........ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. WV .. Star City, WV
Davis, Andrew L. .......... USMC ... MAJ .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Decker, Sidney James ...... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. KY .. Clarkson, KY
Devlin, Michael J. ........ USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. MA .. Westwood, MA
Dibenedetto, Thomas A. .... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. CT .. Mansfield Center, CT
Dorsey, Nathaniel G. ...... USMC ... PVT .... 10/23/1983 .. MD .. Baltimore, MD
Douglass, Frederick B. .... USMC ... SGTMAJ . 10/23/1983 .. MA .. Cataumet, MA
Dunnigan, Timothy J. ...... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. WV .. Princeton, WV
Earle, Bryan L. ........... USN .... HN ..... 10/23/1983 .. OH .. Painsville, OH
Edwards, Roy L. ........... USMC ... MSGT ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Camp Lejeune, NC
Elliot, William D. Jr. .... USN .... HM3 .... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. Lancaster, PA
Ellison, Jesse ............ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. WI .. Soldiers Grove, WI
Estes, Danny R. ........... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. IN .. Gary, IN
Estler, Sean F. ........... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. NJ .. Kenall Park, NJ
Faulk, James E. ........... USN .... HM3 .... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Panama City, FL
Fluegel, Richard A. ....... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. Erie, PA
Forrester, Steven M. ...... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Foster, William B. Jr. .... USN .... HM3 .... 10/23/1983 .. VA .. Richmond, VA
Fulcher, Michael D ........ USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. VA .. Madison Heights, VA
Fuller, Benjamin E ........ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. GA .. Duluth, GA
Fulton, Michael S. ........ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. TX .. Ft. Worth, TX
Gaines, William Jr. ....... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Port Charlotte, FL
Gallagher, Sean R. ........ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. MA .. N. Andover, MA
Gander, David B. .......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. WI .. Milwaulkee, WI
Gangur, George M. ......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. OH .. Cleveland, OH
Gann, Leland E. ........... USMC ... SSGT ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Camp Lejeune, NC
Garcia, Randall J. ........ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. CA .. Modesto, CA
Garcia, Ronald J. ......... USMC ... SSGT ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Gay, David D. ............. USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Harrisburg, IL
Ghumm, Harold D. .......... USMC ... SSGT ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Gibbs, Warner Jr. ......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. VA .. Portsmouth, VA
Giblin, Timothy R. ........ USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. RI .. N. Providence, RI
Gorchinski, Michael W. .... USN .... ETC .... 10/23/1983 .. IN .. Evansville, IN
Gordon, Richard J. ........ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. MA .. Somerville, MA
Gratton, Harold F. ........ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Conoes, NY
Greaser, Robert B. ........ USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. Lansdale, PA
Green, Davin M. ........... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. MD .. Baltimore, MD
Hairston, Thomas A. ....... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. Philadelphia, PA
Haltiwanger, Freddie Jr. .. USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. SC .. Little Mountain, SC
Hamilton, Virgil D. ....... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. KY .. Dayton, OH
Hanton, Gilbert ........... USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. DC .. Washington, DC
Hart, William ............. USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Haskell, Michael S. ....... USMC ... CAPT ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Camp Lejeune, NC
Hastings, Michael A. ...... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. DE .. Seaford, DE
Hein, Paul A. ............. USMC ... CAPT ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Camp Lejeune, NC
Held, Douglas E. .......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Helms, Mark A. ............ USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. NE .. Dwight, NE
Henderson, Ferrandy D. .... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Tampa, FL
Hernandez, Matilde Jr. .... USMC ... MSGT ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Midway Park, NC
Hester, Stanley G. ........ USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Raleigh, NC
Hildreth, Donald W. ....... USMC ... GYSGT .. 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Sneads Ferry, NC
Holberton, Richard H. ..... USMC ... SSGT ... 10/23/1983 .. SC .. Beaufort, SC
Holland, Robert S. ........ USN .... HM3 .... 10/23/1983 .. KY .. Gilbertsville, KY
Hollingshead, Bruce A. .... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. OH .. Fairborn, OH
Holmes, Melvin D. ......... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. IL .. Chicago, IL
Howard, Bruce L. .......... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. ME .. Strong, ME
Hudson, John R. ........... USN .... LT ..... 10/23/1983 .. GA .. Riverdale, GA
Hudson, Terry L. .......... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. AL .. Prichard, AL
Hue, Lyndon J. ............ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. LA .. Des Allemands, LA
Hukill, Maurice E. ........ USMC ... 2ndLT .. 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Iacovino, Edward F. Jr. ... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. RI .. Warwick, RI
Ingalls, John J. .......... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Interlaken, NY
Innocenzi, Paul G. III .... USMC ... WO1 .... 10/23/1983 .. NJ .. Trenton, NJ
Jackowski, James J. ....... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. S. Salem, NY
James, Jeffrey W. ......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. MD .. Baltimore, MD
Jenkins, Nathaniel W. ..... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Daytona Beach, FL
Johnson, Michael H. ....... USN .... HM2 .... 10/23/1983 .. MI .. Detroit, MI
Johnston, Edward A. ....... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. OH .. Struthers, OH
Jones, Steven ............. USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Brooklyn, NY
Julian, Thomas A. ......... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. RI .. Middleton, RI
Kees, Marion E. ........... USN .... HM2 .... 10/23/1983 .. WV .. Martinsburg, WV
Keown, Thomas C. .......... USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. KY .. Louisville, KY
Kimm, Edward E. ........... USMC ... GYSGT .. 10/23/1983 .. IA .. Atlantic, IA
Kingsley, Walter V. ....... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. WI .. Wisconsin Dells, WI
Kluck, Daniel S. .......... USA .... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. KY .. Owensboro, KY
Knipple, James C. ......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. VA .. Alexandria, VA
Kreischer, Freas H. III ... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Indiatlantic, FL
Laise, Keith J. ........... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. East Stroudsburg, PA
Lamb, Thomas G. ........... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. MN .. Coon Rapids, MN
Langon, James J. IV ....... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NJ .. Lakehurst, NJ
Lariviere, Michael S. ..... USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Perry, FL
Lariviere, Steven B. ...... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. MA .. Chicopee, MA
Lemnah, Richard L. ........ USMC ... MSGT ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Camp Lejeune, NC
Lewis, David A. ........... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. OH .. Garfield Heights, OH
Lewis, Val S. ............. USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. GA .. Atlanta, GA
Livingston, Joseph R. ..... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. IL .. Champaign, IL
Lyon, Paul D. Jr. ......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Milton, FL
Macroglou, John W. ........ USMC ... MAJ .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Maitland, Samuel .......... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Martin, Charlie R. ........ USMC ... SSGT ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Camp Lejeune, NC
Martin, Jack L. ........... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Oveido, FL
Massa, David S. ........... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. RI .. Warren, RI
Massman, Michael R. ....... USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. MI .. Port Huron, MI
Mattacchione, Joseph J. ... USMC ... PVT .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Sanford, NC
McCall, John .............. USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Rochester, NY
McDonough, James E. ....... USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. Newcastle, PA
McMahon, Timothy R. ....... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. TX .. Austin, TX
McNeely, Timothy D. ....... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Mooresville, NC
McVicker, George N. II .... USN .... HM2 .... 10/23/1983 .. IN .. Wabash, IN
Melendez, Louis ........... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. PR .. Puerto Rico
Menkins, Richard H. II .... USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Tully, NY
Mercer, Michael D. ........ USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Vale, NC
Meurer, Ronald W. ......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Milano, Joseph P. ......... USN .... HM3 .... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Farmingville, NY
Moore, Joseph P. .......... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. MO .. St. Louis, MO
Morrow, Richard A. ........ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. Clairton, PA
Muffler, John F. .......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. Philadelphia, PA
Munoz, Alex ............... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. NM .. Bloomfield, NM
Myers, Harry D. ........... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Whittler, NC
Nairn, David J. ........... USMC ... 1stLT .. 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Nava, Luis A. ............. USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. CA .. Gardena, CA
Olson, John A. ............ USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. MN .. Sabin, MN
Olson, Robert P. .......... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Lawtons, NY
Ortiz, Richard C. ......... USMC ... CWO3 ... 10/23/1983 .. OK .. Ft. Sill, OK
Owen, Jeffrey B. .......... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. VA .. Virginia Beach, VA
Owens, Joseph A. .......... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. VA .. Chesterfield, VA
Page, Connie Ray .......... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Erwin, NC
Parker, Ulysses ........... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. MD .. Baltimore, MD
Payne, Mark W. ............ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Binghamton, NY
Pearson, John L. .......... USMC ... GYSGT .. 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Perron, Thomas S. ......... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. MA .. Whitinsville, MA
Phillips, John A. Jr. ..... USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. IL .. Wilmette, IL
Piercy, George W. ......... USN .... HMC .... 10/23/1983 .. MD .. Mt. Savage, MD
Plymel, Clyde W. .......... USMC ... 1stLT .. 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Merritt, FL
Pollard, William H. ....... USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Pomalestorres, Rafael I. .. USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. Philadelphia, PA
Prevatt, Victor M. ........ USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. GA .. Columbus, GA
Price, James C. ........... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. AL .. Attala, AL
Prindeville, Patrick K. ... USMC ... SSGT ... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Gainesville, FL
Pulliam, Eric A. .......... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. IL .. E. St. Louis, IL
Quirante, Diomedes J. ..... USN .... HM3 .... 10/23/1983 .. RP .. Calcoocan City, RP
Randolph, David M. ........ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. AZ .. Siloam Springs, AZ
Ray, Charles R. ........... USMC ... GYSGT .. 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Relvas, Rui A. ............ USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. Philadelphia, PA
Rich, Terrence L. ......... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Brooklyn, NY
Richardson, Warren ........ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Brooklyn, NY
Rodriguez, Juan C. ........ USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Miami, FL
Rotondo, Louis J. ......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. Philadelphia, PA
Sanpedro, Guillermo Jr. ... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Hialeah, FL
Sauls, Michael C. ......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. SC .. Waterboro, SC
Schnorf, Charles J. ....... USMC ... 1stLT .. 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Camp Lejeune, NC
Schultz, Scott L. ......... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Keeseville, NY
Scialabba, Peter J. ....... USMC ... CAPT ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Moorehead City, NC
Scott, Gary R. ............ USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. IL .. Rankin, IL
Shallo, Ronald L. ......... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Hudson, NY
Shipp, Thomas A. .......... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Shropshire, Jerryl D. ..... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. GA .. Macon, GA
Silvia, James F. .......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. RI .. Portsmouth, RI
Sliwinski, Stanley J. ..... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. OH .. Niles, OH
Smith, Kirk H. ............ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Miami, FL
Smith, Thomas G. .......... USMC ... SSGT ... 10/23/1983 .. CT .. Middletown, CT
Smith, Vincent L. ......... USMC ... CAPT ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Soares, Edward ............ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. RI .. Tiverton, RI
Sommerhof, William S. ..... USMC ... 1stLT .. 10/23/1983 .. IL .. Springfield, IL
Spaulding, Michael C. ..... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. OH .. Akron, OH
Spearing, John W. ......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. Lancaster, PA
Spencer, Stephen E. ....... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. RI .. Portsmouth, RI
Stelpflug, Bill J. ........ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. AL .. Auburn, AL
Stephens, Horace R. ....... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. MD .. Capitol Heights, MD
Stockton, Craig S. ........ USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Rochester, NY
Stokes, Jeffrey G. ........ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. GA .. Waynesboro, GA
Stowe, Thomas D. .......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Sturghill, Eric D. ........ USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. IL .. Chicago, IL
Sundar, Devon L. .......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. CT .. Standford, CT
Surch, James F. Jr. ....... USN .... LT ..... 10/23/1983 .. CA .. Lompoc, CA
Thompson, Dennis A. ....... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Bronx, NY
Thorstad, Thomas P. ....... USMC ... SSGT ... 10/23/1983 .. IN .. Chesterton, IN
Tingley, Stephen D. ....... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. CT .. Ellington, CT
Tishmack, John J. ......... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. MN .. Minneapolis, MN
Trahan, Lex D. ............ USMC ... PVT .... 10/23/1983 .. LA .. Lafayette, LA
Vallone, Donald H. Jr. .... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. CA .. Palmdale, CA
Walker, Eric R. ........... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. IL .. Chicago, IL
Walker, Leonard W. ........ USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. AL .. Dothan, AL
Washington, Eric G. ....... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. VA .. Alexandria, VA
Weekes, Obrian ............ USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Brooklyn, NY
Wells, Tandy W. ........... USMC ... 1stSGT . 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Wentworth, Steven B. ...... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. Reading, PA
Wesley, Allen D. .......... USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. Philadelphia, PA
West, Lloyd D. ............ USMC ... GYSGT .. 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Weyl, John R. ............. USMC ... SSGT ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Wherland, Burton D. Jr. ... USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Jacksonville, NC
Wigglesworth, Dwayne W. ... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. CT .. Naugatuck, CT
Williams, Rodney J. ....... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. FL .. Opa Locka, FL
Williams, Scipio Jr. ...... USMC ... GYSGT .. 10/23/1983 .. SC .. Charleston, SC
Williamson, Johnny A. ..... USMC ... LCPL ... 10/23/1983 .. NC .. Asheboro, NC
Wint, Walter E. Jr. ....... USMC ... CAPT ... 10/23/1983 .. PA .. Wilkes-Barre, PA
Winter, William E. ........ USMC ... CAPT ... 10/23/1983 .. SC .. Fripp Island, SC
Wolfe, John E. ............ USMC ... CPL .... 10/23/1983 .. AZ .. Phoenix, AZ
Woollett, Donald E. ....... USMC ... 1stLT .. 10/23/1983 .. OK .. Barthesville, OK
Worley, David E. .......... USN .... HM3 .... 10/23/1983 .. MD .. Baltimore, MD
Wyche, Craig L. ........... USMC ... PFC .... 10/23/1983 .. NY .. Jamaica, NY
Yarber, James G. .......... USA .... SFC .... 10/23/1983 .. CA .. Vacaville, CA
Young, Jeffrey D. ......... USMC ... SGT .... 10/23/1983 .. NJ .. Moorestown, NJ
Zimmerman, William A. ..... USMC ... 1stLT .. 10/23/1983 .. MI .. Grand Haven, MI

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.


Photo by Ron Williams.


by John on Oct 23, 2006

October 20, 2006

A gloom and doom moment.

Over at "The Corner" on National Review Online yesterday, they were having an interesting discussion on foreign nationals using military service as an avenue to citizenship. Just go scan the whole day yesterday to catch the discussion. Something Mark Krikorian said caught my attention:

Re: Military Path to Citizenship [Mark Krikorian]

Not only do I agree with Derb that recruiting foreign soldiers (Max Boot has been flacking an American Foreign Legion for a while now; see here) is a terrible idea, I'd go further and ask whether even legal residents who are not yet citizens should be permitted to serve in the military (for instance, see here).

If there's a problem in persuading enough Americans to fill the ranks, then the problem may be that our foreign policy is not be in line with our national character. One of the most important considerations in crafting a response to today's global jihad is whether that response is politically sustainable over the long term — and in a democracy that means whether enough of the public will support it for the many, many, many years the struggle against radical Islam is going to last. The kinds of sustained counterinsurgency and "nation-building" we are attempting in Iraq and Afghanistan, however advisable it may seem on paper, requires the American public to go along with things, for decades to come, that are simply contrary to our national character — like bribing tribal chieftains to kill troublemakers, killing lots and lots of civilians, ripping out the fingernails of bad guys to get them to talk, lying on a scale and with a sang-froid that would make even one of congressmen uncomfortable, and in general the permanent committment of large numbers of troops in very dangerous but very ambiguous situations.

Other countries, with a less moralistic character, may well be capable of sustaining this sort of thing over the long haul. Remember the Rainbow Warrior? The French secret service blew up the Greenpeace ship in New Zealand in 1985 to prevent it from interfering with nuclear tests in Polynesia, killing one of the 12 people aboard. Here, this would have been a big deal; in France no one cared — after all, that's the kind of thing you have to do when you're a Great Power, right? (I don't want to debate whether France is a great power; the point is that the French think they are.) Heck, it seems the brother of the current socialist (socialist) presidential candidate is the one who set the bomb, and no one cares.

My point is not that there's some clear popular will that's going to tell us what strategy to follow, just that if you're going to sail to windward, you at least have to take account of the wind. The difficulty Boot notes in increasing troop levels ought to be a clue that, while we're happy to sign on to kill Saddam or nuke Japan or burn Atlanta (sorry to you Georgians out there), not enough of our people are interested in playing nursemaid to a bunch of crazies to make that a sustainable policy. To ignore that, and call instead for the recruitment of foreign soldiers, stems from the same impulse as Brecht's crack about "dissolving the people and electing a new one" — if the American people aren't interested in signing up for police duty in Araby, lets find people who are.

That brought to mind an exchange I had with Ry, which I was working into a post. It's a bit muddled, but it isn't getting any better with me staring at it, either.

I *was* uncomfortable with the invasion. I don't like to see the US in that mode, absent the obvious provocations. I wasn't happy with Kosovo for the same reason.

Doesn't mean I don't recognize that good can come out of it - but in my heart of hearts, I don't like that role for us, "regime change." Doesn't mean I'm right, and it might well mean I'm not the guy to be President... 8^)

I know the "world is different now" argument *does* apply. That said, it's one thing to go in and kick someone's a$$ because they've obviously done something to you, and quite another to go kill someone because, well, they've talked badly about you, they keep bumping you in the subway, and you know they've keyed your car and TP'd your house, and now, because they said they're going to burn your house down you decide to pre-empt by going over to kill them, and, oops, they're a Hatfield, aren't they, Mr. McCoy? And I understand that "keying your car" and "TP'ing your house" trivializes death and destruction - but in the environment of relations between states, some stuff falls into the realm of "friction" - though if you are one of the molecules in that friction, it hurts.

I'm wary of the unintended consequences.

I do know we aren't "Edwardian and earlier" Britain. We don't do "The Long Game" well, especially if it involves shooting, as the Brits did while building the Empire. We can do the Cold War pretty well, but a seeming never-ending Hot War? Of course, I don't think any major nation, in this kind of media environment, can do so except perhaps China. Taking down a nation like Iraq and rebuilding it into something more like a western democracy is a decades-long process - and whatever it grows into, it's going to look like an Arab/Middle East/Muslim Democracy, not a western-style. And no one, except Imperial Britain, has really interested in the job in that way and over those time-spans. The French, Spanish, Portuguese, Belgians... were all more about stripping the riches and shipping them home (which, ironically, is what we keep getting accused of) than developing markets, which was the Brit interest. Which is one reason why the former Brit colonies are, on the whole, more successful than those places where other colors flew.

Iraq could still tip either way, but I strongly suspect it's gone far more down the path that I thought it would likely go than it did down the path the people who decided on the invasion thought it would go.

This was more than regime change - it was a culture change. And that takes a long time - even when it comes from within, much less is imposed from without.

Unless you go the Carthage, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan route of death-dealing, which either eliminates the issue by leaving "no stone standing, one on the other," or creates a tipping point. We did neither in Iraq. And we weren't prepared to. We were expecting a response more along the lines of France in 1944 than what we got, which was Germany 1945... without the full imprint of military disaster upon the vanquished, because we weren't able/willing, nor did we want to, inflict the requisite amount of damage.

We essentially expected Saddam's people to rise in revolt. I would note the Germans didn't. And while the French did, in a fashion, after we invaded, they did so to throw out the *foreign* invader. If we had been removing an Iranian-led regime, this would have gone differently, I think. As it is, it's gone somewhat as I expected/feared in very broad terms - and while I'm willing to pay the cost, the US as a people don't have a good track record in this kind of thing... my concern from the get-go. And I don't often publish stuff like this, because the leftoids will seize on it for all the wrong reasons. That, of course, is a major problem with discourse these days - you can't have a chat like this in public, without someone trying to turn it into "See? Throw the bums out and run away!" which is not what I'm saying. But the Army AAR process doesn't work well in the political world. Which is too bad, because it really does do a pretty good job of getting at problems and solutions, and applying the lessons learned to the future. At least in the narrow sense of unit training and event analysis.

Sigh. So, the big guys can't admit to mistakes (and this doesn't matter which party is in power) without it being presented as proof positive that the whole idea was wrong, bad, evil, and in fact, the bums should be impeached and thrown in jail because they didn't do it our way (leave aside that that way hadn't worked either, that's *different*). I live in the belly of the beast. Those "what went right/what went wrong, and how do we do it better" discussions take place all the time - but stay inside, because if we let them slip out, the political opposition misuses the discussions - again, regardless of which party is in power. But if you think there is no internal self-examination going on, or that Rumsfeld completely squashes dissent, you aren't paying attention. LTG Petraeus, who has not always been complimentary of the way things happened during the initial stages of the campaign in Iraq - is in charge of writing Army doctrine and the education system. That's not where you put people to silence them. I'm sure among my military readers we can come up with other examples that are similar - and we can come up with examples of people who *have* been sidelined. My point is - nothing is ever quite as simple as it seems from the outside looking in. But the external environment makes it very difficult to engage in any form of nuanced discussion - and actually, that does lend itself to reinforcing the bubbles - which isn't what we want, is it?

My brief email exchange with Mark Krikorian ended this way:

Me:


Bingo.

Exactly my concerns about us engaging in nation building that gestates from us having destroyed the initial nation, so to speak. Not because it isn't necessarily needful, but because I'm not convinced we'll finish what we start - and if we won't, we shouldn't start.

Cheers,

Jonah's Military Guy

Mark Krikorian's response:

Yes, that's what I was trying to get at -- nation-building and the like may be a great idea in political science class, but if our national character makes it unlikely that we'll be able to stick it out to the end, don't go down that path.

Therein lies the rub. If you're President Clinton, you just go with the herd, and do what the polls tell you. If you're President Bush, you try to lead the herd down a different path.

And, as President Bush is finding out - inertia, especially when a lot of the bigger steers in the herd are stubborn and contrary simply because it's easier to be contrary than offer true enlightened opposition, can be very very hard to deflect.

Sadly - the lesson the political class is likely to take away from it is... leadership is too hard, lets just ride the wave.

Which is *not* how I define their role.

Update: I would note I wrote this *before* I read the Blogfather's piece.

by John on Oct 20, 2006

October 18, 2006

Transformation, Agility... and gun pr0n!

This is a kewl picture.

U.S. Army Sgt. Chris Walsh checks his weapon's scope while performing overwatch security in Sekeik, Iraq, Sept. 16, 2006.  Walsh is from 1st Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 300th Field Artillery Regiment, Wyoming National Guard Police Training Team. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Billy Brothers) (Released)

If you've the time and interest (Like I did, with the rifle) - here's a hi-res version.Here's the caption:


U.S. Army Sgt. Chris Walsh checks his weapon's scope while performing overwatch security in Sekeik, Iraq, Sept. 16, 2006. Walsh is from 1st Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 300th Field Artillery Regiment, Wyoming National Guard Police Training Team. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Billy Brothers) (Released)

Heh. Something old (the rifle and the crossed stick antenna segments rest (harkens back to buffalo hunters), something new - the furniture for the rifle... and the advent of "Transformation" and "Agility" in the service.

Cold Warriors - take a look at that caption... a National Guard soldier, acting as Infantry, who is a member of the 2nd Battalion, 300th Field Artillery, which has duty as the Wyoming National Guard Police Training Team.

How many of us, when we took the oath, would have expected to find ourselves in a situation like that?
The times they are a'changin'. And thank heaven's we've got the quality of troop to make it happen!

by John on Oct 18, 2006

Welcome home, Kansas Redlegs!

...and other news of militant Kansans.

First up... an award for valor to a Kansas City, Kansas native, Specialist Anthony Tonasket:

CAMP SLAYER, Iraq Spc. Anthony Tonasket (right), a native of Kansas City, Kan., is awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Action Badge and Army Commendation Medal with a (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Richard Phelps, 2nd Bn, 137th Inf. Regt. UPAR, 38th DISCOM, MND-B)">

CAMP SLAYER, Iraq Spc. Anthony Tonasket (right), a native of Kansas City, Kan., is awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Action Badge and Army Commendation Medal with a "V" device for Valor by Col. James Trafton, commander, 2nd Battalion, 137th Infantry Regiment, 38th Divisional Support Command, MultiNational Division, Baghdad, during an awards ceremony for his actions during an attack on his convoy March 7. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Richard Phelps, 2nd Bn, 137th Inf. Regt. UPAR, 38th DISCOM, MND-B)

Well done, Specialist Tonasket!

HHB (-) of the 1st of the 127th FA is coming home from Iraq on Friday:

News from The Adjutant General's Department

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Oct. 17, 2006
No. 06-109
1st BATTALION, 127th FIELD ARTILLERY COMING HOME OCT. 19
Approximately 150 Kansas National Guardsmen of the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (-), 1st Battalion, 127th Field Artillery will be welcomed home to Kansas on Thursday, Oct. 19. The ceremony which is tentatively scheduled for 1 p.m. (See Note) will be held at Lee Arena on the Washburn University campus, Topeka.

The unit is returning after a year-long deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The public is cordially invited to attend and welcome the soldiers home.

The soldiers will be released to join family and friends at the conclusion of the ceremony. The battery mobilized to Fort Lewis, Wash., in July 2005 where they received training before deploying in September 2005 to Baghdad, Iraq.

NOTE: The 1 p.m. time is based upon current travel arrangements for the unit. Due to unforeseen circumstances this time could change.

As was forcefully brought home last week with the death of Specialist Wood, the 891st Engineers still have people in Iraq. While not a current photo (the Kansas Guard doesn't show up much in the Army photo collection at the moment) it's illustrative of what they are doing - and taking casualties while doing it. (see H&I Fires for 17 Oct for funeral details for Specialist Wood).

by Master Sgt. Lek Mateo July 15, 2005</p>

<p>A South African-built Buffalo of the Kansas Army National Guard's 891st Engineer Battalion stands by to investigate a suspected IED that was spotted along the shoulder of a highway in southern Iraq.



by Master Sgt. Lek Mateo July 15, 2005

A South African-built Buffalo of the Kansas Army National Guard's 891st Engineer Battalion stands by to investigate a suspected IED that was spotted along the shoulder of a highway in southern Iraq.

In other Kansas Guard news...

Kansas National Guard Hall of Fame Induction Set

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Contact: Michele J. Henry
National Guard Association of Kansas
(785) 862-1066
Topeka-The Kansas National Guard Hall of Fame Board of Governors has announced the 2006 inductee for the Kansas National Guard Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2006 at the Holiday Inn West, 605 S.W. Fairlawn, Topeka, Kan. The public is invited to attend.

The inductees for 2006 are retired Brig. Gen. Alfred P. Bunting and retired Brig. Gen. Ronald D. Tincher.
Bunting retired from the Kansas Air National Guard with more than 42 years of service. He spent the last five years of his service as the Assistant Adjutant General and Commander of the Kansas Air National Guard. Bunting and his wife, Marjorie reside in Burlingame, Kan. They have four children and three grandchildren. Their son, Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, is the current adjutant general of Kansas.

Tincher retired from the Kansas Army National Guard also with more than 42 years of service. His last years serving in the Kansas National Guard were spent as the Assistant Adjutant General for the Army. He was also appointed Commander of the Kansas Army National Guard. Tincher and his wife, Judy reside in Olathe, Kan. They have 7 children, 17 grandchildren and one great grandson.

This marks the 28th year for the Kansas National Guard Hall of Fame induction. The 2006 inductees will make the 82nd and 83rd Kansas Guardsmen to be so honored. Guard men and women may be nominated and selected by their peers and associates for truly exceptional contributions to both the Kansas National Guard and the communities in which they live. Selection is made following a rigorous grading process by two committees and final approval by the Hall of Fame board of directors.

The Kansas National Guard Hall of Fame is located in the Museum of the Kansas National Guard, Building 301, at the main entrance to Forbes Field, Topeka, Kan. It is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, except holidays.

Now that the Kansas Adjutant General's office and I have connected, we'll try to keep up with the doings of the Kansas Guard. Now if I could just get the Missouri Adjutant General to see some utility in exploiting willing bloggers...

by John on Oct 18, 2006

October 13, 2006

Leopards spotted in Afghanistan.

Somebody else didn't get the memo... remember this little bit of cargo the AF took to Afstan? The Dutch SP howitzer?

Looks like someone else didn't get the memo on "We don't need no steenking heavy tracked vehicles to fight in the 'Stan!" that Rummy and crowd put out.

Those contrarian Canuckistanians!

One can't help but wonder that if we'd gone in with the 1st CAV and 4th ID, if they'd be going in with nothing but the PPCLI... ;^)

A Canadian Leopard tank is driven onto the C-17 Globemaster III named the

'Spirit of McChord' gives Canadians a lift

by Master Sgt. Mitch Gettle
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

10/10/2006 - MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan (AFPN) -- Normally they move people, humanitarian supplies, troop rations and equipment, but Airmen with the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron's Detachment 1 here were tasked Oct. 7 to move different equipment -- several 30-foot, 100,000 pound Canadian tanks.

The C-17 Globemaster III "Spirit of McChord" and its crew made two trips to Kandahar AB, Afghanistan, in one day to transport the equipment for Canadian ground forces supporting the NATO mission.

Col. Michael McLean, Canadian Defense Attaché, said the Leopard tanks will support Canadian troops by providing greater mobility on the ground and more flexible options.

"The enhancements will enable troops to counter threats more effectively and safely," said Colonel McLean. "The sooner we can provide the security and stability, the sooner we can help the Afghan people develop a positive and independent future for themselves and their children."

The 817th EAS, deployed from McChord Air Force Base, Wash., supports the mission of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, NATO forces, and operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

"It filled me with pride watching a (Canadian) tank being loaded onto a McChord C-17," said Senior Airman Bryan Mumma, 376th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, also deployed from McChord AFB. "We work hard to keep our aircraft operational as the supplies we deliver downrange are crucial to our troops and in this case, to the Canadian ground forces."

Other C-17s and crews, also deployed from McChord AFB, worked all week to move the much-needed equipment to the U.S. coalition partners in theater.

Preparing a tank for flight falls on the shoulders of the C-17 loadmasters, who ensure this 30-foot weapon weighing more than 100,000 pounds is properly positioned and secured in the cargo compartment.

As the tank is driven onto the C-17, the loadmaster marshals and positions the tank to ensure safety and optimal performance of the aircraft during flight.

"We make sure there is enough forward, aft, vertical and lateral restraint so the tank will not move in flight," said Tech. Sgt. John Woodard, 817th EAS Det 1 loadmaster.

To keep the tanks in place, the loadmasters use multiple 25K-rated chains, tie-down mechanisms and rings on the floor of the cargo compartment.

"Once the chains are in place, we have to calculate the restraint of each chain to make sure we have enough restraint to meet the forces of 3Gs forward, 1.5Gs aft, 2Gs vertical and 1.5Gs lateral movement," Sergeant Woodard said. "We calculate for each direction to ensure restraint is met for all directions and if more chains are needed, we add them."

"It has been an awesome deployment for us," said Maj. James Hall, 817 EAS Det. 1 commander. "We have had the opportunity to haul stuff for just about every member of the International Security Assistance Forces. The Dutch, Romanians and now the Canadians have had major moves since we have been deployed. It is a great experience working with the militaries from all over the world, especially when it is carrying something as cool as tanks for our great neighbors from up North."

You're welcome, Kate. H/t, CAPT H.


by John on Oct 13, 2006

October 12, 2006

Rotary in Action.

In this case, literally. My Rotary Club and our District support this effort. In fact, our District (starting first with our club two years ago) has been supporting efforts to help Iraqi children for over two years, via deployed members or their offspring serving in the Box.

Roger is a Kansas National Guardsman who runs the Joint Visitors Bureau (JVB), which is a high-risk job, professionally - he handles all the visiting dignitaries. And in Baghdad, it can also be high-risk personally.

Letter from Rotarian Roger Aeschliman from the Topeka Downtown Club and currently stationed in Iraq


Howdy everyone, 1 October 2006

Several times this year everything canceled right out from underneath us. Such too this week. There were significant missions scheduled and we looked to be nearly maxed out. Then one by one they all disappeared. We never know beforehand why these lulls occur but afterwards sometimes learn. Once was when Zarqawi got whacked; once when all the senior commanders demanded some relief from visitors so they could fight the war; another time was the seating of the new government ministers. Wonder what this one will turn out to be?

For the nonce, very slow for me and most of the JVB, though as predicted last week, Muslims are killing Muslims more now during their holy Ramadan than prior.

Much of my spare time this week was absorbed by the mission planning and delivery of all your boxes of health, hygiene and first aid supplies, as well as toys and soccer balls, to the town of Makasib (my desk area is tidy again after about a month of piled up boxes).

Charlie Company, one of our Wichita-based units, owns the territory outside of Camp Slayer, including the town of Makasib. I coordinated with Captain Rob Stone to insert our armored utility truck into one of his combat patrols into the town. Here at the JVB we loaded all the boxes Wednesday evening, early Thursday picked up an Army Public Affairs Reporter, then headed to the Royal Palace Complex to meet CPT Stone. Broke fast in yet another wonderful mess hall in yet another impressive palace, then received the patrol briefing and rolled out of the gates into the farmlands south of the Baghdad International Airport.

The convoy was four M-1114 gun trucks (formerly known as Hummers, now heavily armored and armed) and the armored truck (replacing all the old 2 ½ ton trucks that served the army since World War II). We wheeled by the farms and occasionally the .50 caliber machine gunners would throw a soccer ball to the children that magically cluster along the roadways. There must be some kind of ESP linking all these kids as they popped up out of nowhere to line the way ahead of us. The roads ranged from a few decent blacktops down to narrow, rutted, dike-top footpaths and we wove back and forth over an unpredictable route. This area is very calm, mostly poor Sunni farmers and not the site of any sectarian violence. Nevertheless Charlie Company troops discovered roadside bombs over past months, had a few blow up near patrols and encountered random small arms fire. This trip was blissfully uneventful other than kids fighting over soccer balls.

We made it unscathed to Makasib rolling straight into the middle of town, stopping right in front of the clinic. We dismounted just in time to see the local butcher cut the head off a living goat. By the time we were all done the goat was skinned, quartered and hanging on hooks for sale.

As foreshadowed by CPT Stone we were immediately surrounded by children – truly hundreds. They all wanted something: “hey mister. Gimme …” a pen, rank insignia, a lighter, money, whatever. Tugging at sleeves and trousers. You can’t let them swarm you as they will pick your pockets. So smile, smile, tousle hair, pat cheeks and say “La! La!” No, No.

The village headman (not actually a tribal sheik or the official mayor but nevertheless accepted as in charge by the locals) met us at the clinic and we chatted and toured. There are a dozen rooms in the building and half of them are empty. The rest have some hodge-podge of castoff furnishings and nothing else. A male and a female doctor were on hand to receive the boxes. After further discussion we allowed the headman and the doctors to decide what to do with the whole shebang. Their decision? Store everything in the clinic where it would be safe from pilfering. The people would have extra incentive to go to the clinic where they could leave with some item of health or hygiene after a checkup or treatment. The docs would also have toys to give away to their frightened young patients. The headman retains the right to distribute things amongst the populace as he sees fit.

This is a win/win/win outcome for us. Your Kansas soldiers (AND YOU!) got credit for bringing necessary and helpful things they could not otherwise afford, the clinic and the ministry of health get credit for being effective and the headman gets to exercise leadership and largess bolstering his position and maintaining tribal norms.

We talked at length about Topeka and that these gifts were from real people who care, not a governmental program. We tried to explain Rotary but the translator gave up saying that the idea of a large group of people sitting down together to do good works for others without desire for recognition or reward was incomprehensible in this culture. I found that fascinating yet hope he is wrong.

They know we will be back in a few weeks to bring the 62 boxes of medical clinic supplies and equipment collected by Topeka’s four Rotary Clubs, spearheaded by my dear friend Maria Wilson. And they are grateful. Yet they also have a sense of doubt about our motives. Why would these people from Topeka and Texas and Washington State (some of whom I don’t even know) care about Makasib? In Islam giving to the poor is required in order to go to heaven. You MUST do it; it is a fundamental pillar of the faith. So giving is not a choice made selflessly; there is a quid pro quo. This is a cultural difference that must be overcome by them as they seek to develop a civil society rather than the hunker down and avoid pain dictatorship society they have known for 3,000 years.

Makasib boxes from Rotarians Joe McFarland x 3, Anita Wolgast, and Frank Memmo (and Sandra). 112 boxes for Makasib. That’s probably it except for the 62 full of clinic supplies coming from Rotary and the many donors throughout Topeka. Thanks!

American by birth. Soldier by choice. Volunteer by God!

Roger T. Aeschliman
Major, Armor
Deputy Commander, First Kansas Volunteers

by John on Oct 12, 2006

GLORIA MERCES VIRTUTIS**

In the spirit of the Naval Service, "Non Sibi Sed Patriae!"*...

Coleseal.jpg

Ladies and Gentlemen, I say to you the Dead of the USS Cole, DDG-67:


Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Kenneth Clodfelter
Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer Richard Costelow
Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Francis
Information Systems Technician Seaman Timothy Lee Gauna
Signalman Seaman Cherone Louis Gunn
Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels
Engineman 2nd Class Marc Ian Nieto
Electronics Warfare Technician 2nd Class Ronald Owens
Seaman Lakiba Nicole Palmer
Engineman Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett
Fireman Patrick Howard Roy
Electronics Warfare Technician 1st Class Kevin Shawn Rux
Mess Management Specialist 3rd Class Ronchester Santiago
Operations Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Lamont Saunders
Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr.
Ensign Andrew Triplett
Seaman Craig Bryan Wibberley

Meet the casualties.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam of early casualties of the Global War on Terror.

Linda of Something... and Half of Something has her own take on the event up today.

Here is a link to the DoD Commission Report.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Oct 12, 2006
» EagleSpeak links with: Some remember: USS Cole attacked 6 years ago
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: Remember The USS Cole

October 10, 2006

DNA CONFIRMS DEATH OF AL-QAEDA BAGRAM FUGITIVE

A senior Al-Qaeda type who escaped from custody at Bagram, Afghanistan last year got smoked by some Brit squaddies last month in Basra. DNA confirms the kill.

BAGHDAD , – Ground forces have verified the death of Mahmoud Ahmed Mohammed Al-Rashid, also known as Umar Faruq, through DNA testing.

During a raid on Sept 25 in Basrah, ground forces killed Mahmoud Ahmed Mohammed Al-Rashid Faruq. As forces maneuvered to the objective, they received small-arms fire from suspected terrorists. Forces killed an individual wielding a firearm as they reached the objective. After taking photographs and gathering DNA evidence from the individual, ground forces left the suspected terrorist remains at the site. It was later determined through DNA gathered the individual killed was Umar Faruq.

Good.

by John on Oct 10, 2006

October 02, 2006

CENTCOM Sends

Heh. Nice weapon, Ayman. I hope you're better with it than your late not-too-lamented minion in Iraq...

Izzit just me, or is there a nice targeting reference on that forehead?

This just in: President Bush reacts to Zawahiri - encourages freedom loving people the world over to squash Dark Ages throwbacks like Zawahiri...



Ayman Al-Zawahiri Reacts to Bush, Pope; Urges Muslims to Support Mujahidin

On 29 September, a jihadist website has been observed to post several links to a new videotape for Ayman al-Zawahiri, second-in-command of Al-Qa'ida, produced by Al-Sahab Media, an underground media organization that produces Al-Qa'ida tapes. The tape is entitled "Bush, Pope of the Vatican, Darfur, and the Crusader Wars" and is dated "Sha'ban 1427 Hegira."

The following is the translation of Al-Zawahiri's statement:

[Al-Zawahiri first appears wearing a white robe and dark brown turban with an office setting in the background. He begins to speak in Arabic, with English subtitles appearing on the tape.]

In the name of God, praise be to God, and may peace and prayers be upon the Messenger of God, his family, companions, and allies.

Muslim brothers everywhere, peace be upon you and the mercy of God and His blessings.

The murderer and spiller of Muslim blood, Bush, has stated that he has secret prisons, in which he holds the dangerous leaders of the group of Qa'idat al-Jihad [Al-Qa'ida of jihad], including the mujahid brother Khalid al-Shaykh Muhammad, may God free him, and he has stated that during the three years after Khalid al-Shaykh Muhammad's arrest, the interrogators have been able to get from Khalid al-Shaykh Muhammad valuable information which has helped the Crusaders to kill and arrest a number of leaders of Al-Qa'ida. I want to ask this lying failure: Who are those leaders of Al-Qa'ida whose killing or capture was facilitated by the information extracted from Khalid al-Shaykh Muhammad? And I say to him: You lying failure, what is the size of your losses after the capture of Khalid al-Shaykh Muhammad, may God free him?

Bush, you deceitful charlatan, three and a half years have passed since you captured Khalid al-Shaykh Muhammad, so how have you found us during this time? Losing and surrendering? Or, by the grace of God, attacking, seeking martyrdom, advancing, and injuring you on a daily basis. The strikes of the mujahidin deprived you of the pleasure of quenching your thirst for revenge with the capture of our champions, those who repeat what [Islamic poet] Abu-Firas [al-Hamadani] said:

Ya wanna see Abu-Firas' poetry? And the rest of his rant? It's below the fold, in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Oct 02, 2006

The story of C Company

CAPT H sends us to this article in the Toronto Star.

It starts out like this:

The story of C Company Sep. 30, 2006. 05:44 AM MITCH POTTER MIDDLE EAST BUREAU

PANJWAII DISTRICT, Afghanistan—One must turn back time several generations to find Canadian soldiers in the state that Charlie Company finds itself today. Not since the Korean War has a single Canadian combat unit been so cut to pieces so quickly.

Either of the two events that rocked their world in the dust-caked hills of southern Afghanistan one month ago might qualify as the worst day of their lives. That they came back-to-back — one disastrous morning followed by another even worse — is a matter of almost incomprehensibly bad fortune.

The epic double-whammy — a perfect Taliban ambush of unprecedented intensity, followed one day later by a devastating burst of "friendly fire" from a U.S. Air Force A-10 Warthog — reduced Charlie to a status of "combat ineffective." They were the ones to fire the opening shots of Operation Medusa. But even as the massive Canada-led assault was gathering steam they were finished.

The soldiers left standing are not the same today as the ones who deployed to Afghanistan with nothing but good intentions barely seven weeks ago, as part of 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ont.

A few are emotional wrecks, too fragile still to speak of what transpired during that fateful Labour Day long weekend. Others bleed anger from their every pore.

Some cling to wounded pride, anxious for it to be known that if not for enormous self-sacrifice, the volume of Canadian blood shed these two mornings would have been vastly greater.

Others are disillusioned, having come to regard their work in Afghanistan as a mission impossible. And others still are more driven than ever to succeed, if only to lend greater meaning to the loss of their fallen Canadian brothers.

The survivors of Charlie Company are closer now than they were before. And the other thing they have in common is a need to tell their story, which they do today for the first time.

Read the whole thing via the link above. What makes it blogworthy is John's take on it:

This is from a "PROGRESSIVE" newspaper, whose support for the Afghan war is very soft. They tend to support the idea that we should be conducting "peacekeeping" and "development" operations in a safer corner of the country; or be trying to sort out Darfur, where we have no integral access. Any place where war is not a factor.

I was intrigued that the reporter managed to satisfy his editors with the requisite horror of "blood shed in an unnecessary cause", while hinting that C Company has not really been broken/destroyed by this battle, and the pers were regirding themselves for further combat.

Cheers
John

I went looking for pictures to support this post, and so I went to the Canadian Department of Defence news website. Two things struck me this morning.

1. Their web banner is much more... militant than the old one (which I wish I had saved, now).

© Canada Ministry of Defence

2. Their photo site (at least at the moment, these things tend to be pretty dynamic) seem spend an awful lot of space on their casualties and associated ramp ceremonies (at least if you type in "Afghanistan" as a keyword) and other picture selections and captions seemingly try to emphasize how safe they're trying to make it. Like this one.

English/Anglais<br />
AR2006-P008 0044<br />
16 Sept 2006<br />
Kandahar, Afghanistan<br />
Light Armored Vehicles (LAV’s) provide safe a mode of transportation in addition to continous perimeter security for Canadian soldiers patrolling in and around in the Panjwaii District approximately 30 kilometers west of Kandahar City as part of Operation MEDUSA. </p>

<p>Op MEDUSA was conducted with an aim to clear insurgent forces from the Panjwaii District. TF 3-06 BG was the main manoeuvre unit in Op MEDUSA, which also had significant participation from US, Dutch and UK air and ground forces, as well as the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. Op MEDUSA commenced on 2 September 2006.</p>

<p>Task Force Afghanistan is part of Canada’s contribution to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. This mission is about Canadians and their international partners helping Afghans rebuild their lives, their families, their communities and their nation. Canadian operations will work to improve the quality of life of Afghans by providing a secure environment in which Afghan society can recover from more than 25 years of conflict.</p>

<p>The Canadian Forces (CF) contribution in Afghanistan comprises about 2,000 soldiers, most of whom serve with Task Force Afghanistan at Kandahar Airfield and Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar City. Additional personnel are assigned to Kabul, various military headquarters, and civilian organizations.</p>

<p>Photo by: Sgt Lou Penney<br />
TFA OP ATHENA<br />
Imagery Technician

English/Anglais AR2006-P008 0044 16 Sept 2006 Kandahar, Afghanistan Light Armored Vehicles (LAV’s) provide safe a mode of transportation in addition to continous perimeter security for Canadian soldiers patrolling in and around in the Panjwaii District approximately 30 kilometers west of Kandahar City as part of Operation MEDUSA.

Op MEDUSA was conducted with an aim to clear insurgent forces from the Panjwaii District. TF 3-06 BG was the main manoeuvre unit in Op MEDUSA, which also had significant participation from US, Dutch and UK air and ground forces, as well as the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. Op MEDUSA commenced on 2 September 2006.

Task Force Afghanistan is part of Canada’s contribution to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. This mission is about Canadians and their international partners helping Afghans rebuild their lives, their families, their communities and their nation. Canadian operations will work to improve the quality of life of Afghans by providing a secure environment in which Afghan society can recover from more than 25 years of conflict.

The Canadian Forces (CF) contribution in Afghanistan comprises about 2,000 soldiers, most of whom serve with Task Force Afghanistan at Kandahar Airfield and Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar City. Additional personnel are assigned to Kabul, various military headquarters, and civilian organizations.

Photo by: Sgt Lou Penney
TFA OP ATHENA
Imagery Technician

It's cherry-picking, to be sure, just going with my gut on first impressions this morning.

Mind you - our national characters are different, and the DND has a much different political/social environment to operate in - I just found the difference between their pictures and captions and ours bemusing.

by John on Oct 02, 2006

I know it's mean...

...but, frankly, this headline cheered me up.

8 killed in Hamas-Fatah fighting in Gaza.

The fighting continued throughout the day and sent schoolchildren and other civilians in downtown Gaza City fleeing for cover.

"This is forbidden in Islam, we are in the holy month of Ramadan," said Majed Badawi, 33, who managed to escape after his car was caught in the crossfire. "It's a shame on Hamas, who call themselves real Muslims, and a shame of Fatah as well. Why are they fighting and over what? We are victims because of both of them."

C'mon, Majed - we both know the only people who are supposed to honor the tenet of not fighting during Ramadan... are infidels. We're just supposed to submit or take it in the neck.

Amongst yourselves... well, the rulez appear to be rather different.

Sorry that you live in interesting times over there at the moment - but until people like you, Mr. Badawi, make those other chuckleheads match deeds to words... you're in for more interesting times.

Your problem is internal. Fix it.

by John on Oct 02, 2006

October 01, 2006

It happens in every war we have...

...many soldiers, despite the hardship, the pain, the separation, the losses, develop a very strong bond with the people we're trying to help (regardless of what your thoughts are on how we are going about it).

MSG Robb Needham.  1-356 CSS, 4th Bde, 91st Div.  25+ years of service.

Meet one such soldier. MSG Robb Needham. 1-356 CSS, 4th Bde, 91st Div. 25+ years of service. A reservist of the 91st Division.

Needham was a Fort Lewis-based Army Reservist who twice volunteered for deployment to help train Iraqi police and special forces.

He was assigned to the Army's 1st Battalion, 356th Regiment, 4th Brigade, 91st Division. Needham initially felt a strong sense of duty to serve in Iraq. Once there, he developed a strong bond with Iraqis that he met, which made him want to return, according to family and friends.

"The people became the mission. I knew that part of him was left back there, and he had to go back," said Maj. Fred Miller, who served with Needham on both tours of duty and returned to Vancouver to speak at the funeral service at Living Hope Church.

Needham could be tough and always loved a good cigar, at home and in Iraq, but he was always ready to lend a helping hand.

Read more, from the Seattle Times.

Well done, MSG Needham.

BOUTEZ EN AVANT! (Push Forward). (Those who know, know).

MSG Needham certainly pushed forward, being where he was because he chose to be there.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

H/t, Heartless Libertarian. Good idea *and* Good shootin' Dave.

by John on Oct 01, 2006

This one's for Bill.

September 28, 2006 Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division and a Kiowa helicopter move past an oil fire during a convoy to Al Jawala, Iraq. Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Samuel Bendet

September 28, 2006 Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division and a Kiowa helicopter move past an oil fire during a convoy to Al Jawala, Iraq. Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Samuel Bendet

That was for Bill, this is for some others of us, too.

Basic Training - where people like Bill, myself, and the Heartless Libertarian prepared people for this, by running them, among other things, through things like this.

Caption for picture 1:

U.S. Army Soldiers move to their next objective during a morning raid in the Tameem district of Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 3, 2006. The Soldiers are with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division based out of Baumholder, Germany. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock) (Released)

Caption for picture 2.

U.S. Army Soldiers make their way through an obstacle during the confidence course portion of basic military training at Fort Jackson, S.C., Sept. 20, 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Denise Rayder) (Released)

(Yeah, it's a clumsy post - but I'm going to be doing a bunch of work on my photohost today, and bandwidth issues are likely, but I wanted to credit the pics)

by John on Oct 01, 2006

September 27, 2006

Apropos "Burying Clausewitz"...

Ori Brafman offers a different take on the subject - supportive of throwing over Clausewitz, but with a different analogy: Spiders versus Starfish.

Cut off a spider's leg, and you'll have a seven-legged cripple. Cut off its head, and you'll kill the spider. But cut off the starfish's arm, and not only will it regenerate, but the severed arm will actually grow an entirely new body. Starfish can achieve this remarkable feat because, unlike spiders, they lack central control—their organs are replicated across each arm. Starfish are decentralized.

Just like in nature, there are also starfish on the battlefield. Starfish forces don't have a leader, clear structure, or defined hierarchy. These seemingly chaotic qualities make Starfish unexpectedly resilient.

Read the rest here.

H/t, CSM M.

by John on Sep 27, 2006

Burying Clausewitz.

Ry - this post's for you. Clausewitz in Wonderland.

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment head towards an ancient caravansary in Hana Qadim, Iraq, to conduct a search Sept. 8, 2006. The search is being conducted in order to assure that insurgents do not use the structure as a hiding place for weapons caches. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eli J. Medellin) (Released)

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment head towards an ancient caravansary in Hana Qadim, Iraq, to conduct a search Sept. 8, 2006. The search is being conducted in order to assure that insurgents do not use the structure as a hiding place for weapons caches. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eli J. Medellin) (Released)

First, start off with Ralph Peters in Armed Forces Journal:

The hearts-and-minds myth Sorry, but winning means killing By Ralph Peters Mastering the languages, cultural nuances, beliefs and taboos that prevail in a theater of war, area of operations or tactical environment is vital to military success. It's much easier to kill people you understand.

Beyond that, cultural insights ease routine operations and negotiations, the training of local forces and the development of intelligence. Environmental mastery helps us avoid making unnecessary enemies. But that is where the advantages end in conflicts of blood and faith: No amount of cultural sensitivity inculcated in U.S. troops will persuade fanatic believers to discard their religion, nor can any amount of American empathy change a foreign thug's ethnic identity.

Frustrated with the difficulties facing us in Iraq after being denied both adequate troop strength and the authority to impose the rule of law in the initial days of our occupation, U.S. military commanders responded with a variety of improvisations, from skillful "kinetic ops" to patient dialogue. Nothing achieved enduring results — because we never had the resources or the fortitude to follow any effort through to the end, and our enemies had no incentive to quit, surrender or cooperate. We pacified cities with force but lacked the forces to keep them pacified. We rebuilt schools, but our enemies taught us how easy it was to kill teachers. Accepting that it was politically impossible on the home front, we never conducted the essential first step in fighting terrorists and insurgents: We failed to forge a long-term plan based on a long-term commitment. Instead, we sought to dissuade fanatics and undo ancient rivalries with stopgap measures, intermittent drizzles of money and rules of engagement tailored to suit the media, not military necessity.

It is astonishing that our efforts have gone as well as they have.

Read the rest here.

Then, shift over to Tony Corn, writing in Policy Review:

“Amateurs talk about strategy, professionals talk about logistics.” In the five years since the 9/11 events, the old military adage has undergone a “transformation” of its own: Amateurs, to be sure, continue to talk about strategy, but real professionals increasingly talk about — anthropology.

In Iraq as in Afghanistan, real professionals have learned the hard way that — to put it in a nutshell — the injunction “Know Thy Enemy, Know Thyself” matters more than the bookish “Know Thy Clausewitz” taught in war colleges. Know thy enemy: At the tactical and operational levels at least, it is anthropology, not Clausewitzology, that will shed light on the grammar and logic of tribal warfare and provide the conceptual weapons necessary to return fire. Know thyself: It is only through anthropological “distanciation” that the U.S. military (and its various “tribes”: Army, Navy, etc.) will become aware of its own cultural quirks — including a monomaniacal obsession with Clausewitz — and adapt its military culture to the new enemy.1

The first major flaw of U.S. military culture is of course “technologism” — this uniquely American contribution to the phenomenon known to anthropologists as “animism.” Infatuation with technology has led in the recent past to rhetorical self-intoxication about Network-Centric Warfare and the concomitant neglect of Culture-Centric Warfare. The second structural flaw is a Huntingtonian doctrine of civil-military relations ideally suited for the Cold War but which, given its outdated conception of “professionalism,” has outlived its usefulness and is today a major impediment to the necessary constant dialogue between the military and civilians.2

Last but not least, the third major flaw is “strategism.” At its “best,” strategism is synonymous with “strategy for strategy’s sake,” i.e., a self-referential discourse more interested in theory-building (or is it hair-splitting?) than policy-making. Strategism would be innocuous enough were it not for the fact that, in the media and academia, “realism” today is fast becoming synonymous with “absence of memory, will, and imagination”: in that context, the self-referentiality of the strategic discourse does not exactly improve the quality of the public debate. At its worst, strategism confuses education with indoctrination, and scholarship with scholasticism; in its most extreme form, it comes close to being an “intellectual terrorism” in the name of Clausewitz.

Chewy stuff in here. Clausewitz in Wonderland, by Tony Corn, in Policy Review.

Ry - you say I'm doing God's Work with tongue-in-cheek... but, in that I study the impacts of technologism... in some respects, I do.

Discuss among yourselves. Not what I do - what these guys are saying.

Cleaning up details. Having gone through and finally had a chance to read what retired Generals Batiste and Eaton, retired Colonel Hammes had to say to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee that Ry linked to yesterday in the H&I - I decided to take the transcript and post it below the fold - since it relates, in a couple of ways, to what is above the fold. Too bad I don't trust the Dems to walk the walk on this issue. Their senior leadership just isn't serious - however flawed the Republicans are on this issue, not leaving much of a choice.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Sep 27, 2006
» MilBlogs links with: Holding a wake for Clausewitz.

CENTCOM Sends: What Leading Terrorists are saying... to each other.

CENTCOM Press Release

Hosting provided by FotoTime


Letter Exposes New Leader in Al-Qa`ida High Command

25 September 2006

On 7 June 2006, American military forces executed an air strike on an al-Qa`ida safe-house near Baqouba, Iraq, killing Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, al-Qa`ida‘s commander in Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi forces subsequently acquired numerous documents from that safe-house. On 18 September 2006, the Iraqi National Security Advisor, Muwaffaq al-Rabi`i, released one of those documents to Iraqi media. As part of an ongoing collaboration with the Department of Defense to declassify, collect, and disseminate documents that provide new insights into the internal functioning of salafi-jihadist organizations, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has made this letter available at http://ctc.usma.edu.

The captured letter sheds new light on the friction between al-Qa`ida’s senior leadership and al-Qa`ida’s commanders in Iraq over the appropriate use of violence. The identity of the letter’s author, “`Atiyah,” is unknown, but based on the contents of the letter he seems to be a highly placed al-Qa`ida leader who fought in Algeria in the early 1990s. `Atiyah's letter echoes many of the themes found in the October 2005 letter written to Zarqawi by al-Qa`ida’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri; indeed, it goes so far as to explicitly confirm the authenticity of that earlier letter. `Atiyah’s admonitions in this letter, like those of Zawahiri in his letter to Zarqawi, also dovetail with other publicly available texts by al-Qa`ida strategists.

Although `Atiyah praises Zarqawi’s military success against coalition forces in Iraq, he is most concerned with Zarqawi’s failure to understand al-Qa`ida’s broader strategic objective: attracting mass support among the wider Sunni Muslim community. `Atiyah reminds Zarqawi that military actions must be subservient to al-Qa`ida’s long-term political goals. Zarqawi’s use of violence against popular Sunni leaders, according to `Atiyah, is undermining al-Qa`ida’s ability to win the “hearts of the people.” 2

According to `Atiyah, Zarqawi’s widening scope of operations, culminating with the November 2005 hotel bombings in Amman, Jordan, has alienated fellow Sunnis and reduced support for the global al-Qa`ida movement. In this vein, `Atiyah instructs Zarqawi to avoid killing popular Iraqi Sunni leaders because such actions alienate the very populations that al-Qa`ida seeks to attract to its cause.3 `Atiyah also encourages Zarqawi to forge strategic relationships with moderate Sunnis, particularly tribal and religious leaders, even if these leaders do not accept Zarqawi’s religious positions.

`Atiyah instructs Zarqawi to follow orders from Usama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri on major strategic issues, such as initiating a war against Shiites; undertaking large-scale operations; or operating outside of Iraq. `Atiyah goes on to criticize Zarqawi’s board of advisors in Iraq for their lack of adequate political and religious expertise, and he warns Zarqawi against the sin of arrogance. Because al-Qa`ida is in what `Atiyah calls a “stage of weakness,” `Atiyah urges Zarqawi to seek counsel from wiser men in Iraq— implying that there might be someone more qualified than Zarqawi to command al-Qa`ida operations in Iraq.

`Atiyah closes with a request that Zarqawi send a messenger to “Waziristan” (likely, Waziristan, Pakistan) in order to establish a reliable line of communication with Bin Laden and Zawahiri. `Atiyah confirms in the letter that al-Qa`ida’s overall communications network has been severely disrupted and complains specifically that sending communications to Zarqawi from outside of Iraq remains difficult. Interestingly, he explains how Zarqawi might use jihadi discussion forums to communicate with al-Qa`ida leadership in Waziristan.

`Atiyah’s unequivocal confirmation of the Zawahiri letter’s legitimacy, his authoritative tone, and his insider knowledge, indicate that he is among the highest ranking leaders in al-Qa`ida. But unlike most of al-Qa`ida’s known senior leadership, who remain isolated in the tribal areas of Pakistan or under house arrest in Iran, `Atiyah appears to have remarkable freedom of movement and a functional communication network.

Combating Terrorism Center
United States Military Academy
West Point, NY

The full text of the letter is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Sep 27, 2006

September 23, 2006

Meanwhile, over in Iraq...

U.S. Army Spc. Jeffery Moore prepares to exit a Bradley fighting vehicle on Camp Ar Ramadi, Iraq, following a raid in the Tameem district of Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 3, 2006. Moore is with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division based out of Baumholder, Germany. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock) (Released)

U.S. Army Spc. Jeffery Moore prepares to exit a Bradley fighting vehicle on Camp Ar Ramadi, Iraq, following a raid in the Tameem district of Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 3, 2006. Moore is with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division based out of Baumholder, Germany. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock) (Released)

An Iraqi man offers hot tea to U.S. Army Spc. Matthew Herman during a patrol in Tall Afar, Iraq, Aug. 27, 2006.  Herman is assigned to 2nd Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division, 1st Brigade Combat Team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey) (Released)

An Iraqi man offers hot tea to U.S. Army Spc. Matthew Herman during a patrol in Tall Afar, Iraq, Aug. 27, 2006. Herman is assigned to 2nd Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division, 1st Brigade Combat Team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey) (Released)
by John on Sep 23, 2006

Interesting article on casualties.

By CALVIN WOODWARD, Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON - Now the death toll is 9/11 times two. U.S. military deaths from Iraq and Afghanistan now match those of the most devastating terrorist attack in America's history, the trigger for what came next. Add casualties from chasing terrorists elsewhere in the world, and the total has passed the Sept. 11 figure.

The latest milestone for a country at war comes without commemoration. It also may well come without the precision of knowing who is the 2,973rd man or woman of arms to die in conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, or just when it happens. The terrorist attacks killed 2,973 victims in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Not for the first time, war that was started to answer death has resulted in at least as much death for the country that was first attacked, quite apart from the higher numbers of enemy and civilians killed.

Read the rest here.

Considering the source, it has... balance. It manages to work in all the usual suspects, but it does manage to make a key distinction:

Historians note that this grim accounting is not how the success or failure of warfare is measured, and that the reasons for conflict are broader than what served as the spark.

...and has other aspects I wouldn't frankly have expected in an Associated Press article.

by John on Sep 23, 2006

September 19, 2006

News from the Front.

1st: Congratulations to Captain Deiss on his promotion!
2nd: News from the front.

An Italian Soldier takes in the view atop the Ziggurat of Ur in Iraq 's Dhi Qar province. The location, in southern Iraq , is purported to be the hometown of the biblical figure Abraham. Dhi Qar is slated to be transferred to provincial Iraqi control later this month. Al Muthanna, a neighboring province, was the first of Iraq 's 18 provinces to achieve this status in July. Department of Defense photo by Air Force Capt. Thomas Montgomery.


An Italian Soldier takes in the view atop the Ziggurat of Ur in Iraq 's Dhi Qar province. The location, in southern Iraq , is purported to be the hometown of the biblical figure Abraham. Dhi Qar is slated to be transferred to provincial Iraqi control later this month. Al Muthanna, a neighboring province, was the first of Iraq 's 18 provinces to achieve this status in July. Department of Defense photo by Air Force Capt. Thomas Montgomery.



Monday, 18 September 2006
Dhi Qar: Rich past, hopeful future
By Staff Sgt. James Sherrill
124th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BAGHDAD — With all its history, Dhi Qar province in southern Iraq is looking toward the future. It’s scheduled later this month to become the second of Iraq ’s 18 provinces to be transferred to provincial Iraqi control.

This means Coalition security forces will pull back and let the local provincial Police and Iraqi military handle security of the province, a key step for the eventual withdrawal of Coalition forces from the country.

Both Coalition officials and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have said they hope to have all 18 of the country’s provinces under Iraqi control by the end of next year.

Brig. Gen. Carmine De Pascale, right, commander of the Italian Joint Task Force - Iraq , along with British Soldiers, climbs the stairs of the ancient Ziggurat of Ur in Dhi Qar province. Italian troops have shouldered much of the work in preparing the province for transfer to provincial Iraqi control later this month. Department of Defense photo by Air Force Capt. Thomas Montgomery.


Brig. Gen. Carmine De Pascale, right, commander of the Italian Joint Task Force - Iraq , along with British Soldiers, climbs the stairs of the ancient Ziggurat of Ur in Dhi Qar province. Italian troops have shouldered much of the work in preparing the province for transfer to provincial Iraqi control later this month. Department of Defense photo by Air Force Capt. Thomas Montgomery.


Dhi Qar province is an archeologist’s dreamland. It contains the site of the ancient city of Ur , purported to be the hometown of the biblical figure Abraham. Near the ruins of the ancient city stands the Ziggurat of Ur, a towering ancient temple dating back more than 4,000 years.

Iraqis and tourists are now able to freely visit this area, something they could not do under the oppression of Saddam Hussein, said Maj. Gen. Kurt A. Cichowski, Deputy Chief of Staff, Strategy, Plans and Assessment, Multi-National Force - Iraq .

Chichowski said there are four key conditions to determine a province’s eligibility for transfer: the capability of the Iraqi security forces, threat levels in the province, local government capacity, and that government's relationship with Coalition forces in the province.

The responsibility for getting Dhi Qar ready to transfer has been shouldered mostly by members of the Italian contingent there, led by Brig. Gen. Carmine De Pascale, commander of the Italian Joint Task Force – Iraq .

“This result was attained by Dhi Qar provincial authorities and Coalition forces through a long and intense period of sacrifices and efforts,” De Pascale said.

About 1,500 Italian troops, along with Romanian, Australian and some British Soldiers, have been based out of Camp Mittica , just outside Ali Base, near Ur . The task force has worked closely with the local government in the province – training and equipping the local Police and Army, mentoring government officials, and organizing construction projects like schools and clinics.

“In the next days, Coalition forces in the province of Dhi Qar will hand over the security responsibility to Iraqi civilian authorities. This result is a clear evidence of the capability of Iraqi security forces, Police (and) Army, of guaranteeing security in Dhi Qar autonomously," De Pascale said. "It is also evidence of the maturity of the population in Dhi Qar. From now on, they will be able to contribute to the security, the social and economic growth of the province of Dhi Qar and Iraq ."

The Coalition transferred neighboring Al Muthanna province on July 13. Since then, Al Muthanna’s local Police and military forces have had full responsibility for the province's security and continue to run operations there without Coalition prodding.

“I wish all the best to the provincial leaders and to the people of Dhi Qar,” De Pascale said.

A ceremony marking the transfer to Iraqi provincial control is scheduled for later this month.

Of course, for balance: Bill Lind says they're just lying.

by John on Sep 19, 2006
» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Thailand's military ousts prime minister

September 18, 2006

A note from the front.

Via email.

Subject: A note from a Marine friend
Here is a recent note from the son of a Marine friend. (Hard to believe that he got that old!!) Like father, like son. He is on his 3rd pump to Iraq but still has a little humor left. One more trip and we won't need to worry about humor.

[Opsec deletion]

While he may be surprised about us not hearing about the Ramadi battles and deaths on the news, I am not. There are no hotels worth a crap in Ramadi. (The same thing happened in Vietnam. Everyone heard about Saigon and the terrible French Quarter. Who heard of Cua Viet, Dong Ha, Camp Bearcat, Central Highlands, etc? No good hotels to rack up per diem in those places.)

While we bicker about the politics, he and the other 150,000 brave souls get to live among the bad guys. Much like the Cold War (and the many small wars under that umbrella)--everyone complains but those at the pointy end of the spear. I do note that outdoor shitters made his list (a unique smell in every war zone) and that the "Biggest Hassle" and "Second Worse" sounds haven't changed. May God protect these kids.



Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

All: I haven't written very much from Iraq. There's really not much to write about. More exactly, there's not much I can write about because practically everything I do, read or hear is classified military information or is depressing to the point that I'd rather just forget about it, never mind write about it. The gaps in between all of that are filled with the pure tedium of daily life in an armed camp. So it's a bit of a struggle to think of anything to put into a letter that's worth reading.Worse, this place just consumes you. I work 18-20-hour days, every day. The quest to draw a clear picture of what the insurgents are up to never ends. Problems and frictions crop up faster than solutions. Every challenge demands a response. It's like this every day. Before I know it, I can't see straight, because it's 0400 and I've been at work for twenty hours straight, somehow missing dinner again in the process. And once again I haven't written to anyone. It starts all over again four hours later. It's not really like Ground Hog Day, it's more like a level from Dante's Inferno.

Rather than attempting to sum up the last seven months, I figured I'd just hit the record-setting highlights of 2006 in Iraq. These are among the events and experiences I'll remember best.

Worst Case of Déjà Vu - I thought I was familiar with the feeling of déjà vu until I arrived back here in Fallujah in February. The moment I stepped off of the helicopter, just as dawn broke, and saw the camp just as I had left it ten months before - that was déjà vu. Kind of unnerving. It was as if I had never left. Same work area, same busted desk, same chair, same computer, same room, same creaky rack, same . . . everything. Same everything for the next year. It was like entering a parallel universe. Home wasn't 10,000 miles away, it was a different lifetime.

Most Surreal Moment - Watching Marines arrive at my detention facility and unload a truck load of flex-cuffed midgets. 26 to be exact. I had put the word out earlier in the day to the Marines in Fallujah that we were looking for Bad Guy X, who was described as a midget. Little did I know that Fallujah was home to a small community of midgets, who banded together for support since they were considered as social outcasts. The Marines were anxious to get back to the midget colony to bring in the rest of the midget suspects, but I called off the search, figuring Bad Guy X was long gone on his short legs after seeing his companions rounded up by the giant infidels.

Most Profound Man in Iraq - an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after being asked by Reconnaissance Marines (searching for Syrians) if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area replied "Yes, you."

Worst City in al-Anbar Province - Ramadi, hands down. The provincial capital of 400,000 people. Killed over 1,000 insurgents in there since we arrived in February. Every day is a nasty gun battle. They blast us with giant bombs in the road, snipers, mortars and small arms. We blast them with tanks, attack helicopters, artillery, our snipers (much better than theirs), and every weapon that an infantryman can carry. Every day. Incredibly, I rarely see Ramadi in the news. We have as many attacks out here in the west as Baghdad. Yet, Baghdad has 7 million people, we have just 1.2 million. Per capita, al-Anbar province is the most violent place in Iraq by several orders of magnitude. I suppose it was no accident that the Marines were assigned this area in 2003.

Bravest Guy in al-Anbar Province - Any Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EOD Tech). How'd you like a job that required you to defuse bombs in a hole in the middle of the road that very likely are booby-trapped or connected by wire to a bad guy who's just waiting for you to get close to the bomb before he clicks the detonator? Every day. Sanitation workers in New York City get paid more than these guys. Talk about courage and commitment.

Second Bravest Guy in al-Anbar Province - It's a 20,000 way tie among all the Marines and Soldiers who venture out on the highways and through the towns of al-Anbar every day, not knowing if it will be their last - and for a couple of them, it will be.

Best Piece of U.S. Gear - new, bullet-proof flak jackets. O.K., they weigh 40 lbs and aren't exactly comfortable in 120 degree heat, but they've saved countless lives out here.

Best Piece of Bad Guy Gear - Armor Piercing ammunition that goes right through the new flak jackets and the Marines inside them.

Worst E-Mail Message - "The Walking Blood Bank is Activated. We need blood type A+ stat." I always head down to the surgical unit as soon as I get these messages, but I never give blood - there's always about 80 Marines in line, night or day.

Biggest Surprise - Iraqi Police. All local guys. I never figured that we'd get a police force established in the cities in al-Anbar. I estimated that insurgents would kill the first few, scaring off the rest. Well, insurgents did kill the first few, but the cops kept on coming. The insurgents continue to target the police, killing them in their homes and on the streets, but the cops won't give up. Absolutely incredible tenacity. The insurgents know that the police are far better at finding them than we are - and they are finding them.

Greatest Vindication - Stocking up on outrageous quantities of Diet Coke from the chow hall in spite of the derision from my men on such hoarding, then having a 122mm rocket blast apart the giant shipping container that held all of the soda for the chow hall. Yep, you can't buy experience.

Biggest Mystery - How some people can gain weight out here. I'm down to 165 lbs. Who has time to eat?

Second Biggest Mystery - if there's no atheists in foxholes, then why aren't there more people at Mass every Sunday?

Favorite Iraqi TV Show - Oprah. I have no idea. They all have satellite TV.

Coolest Insurgent Act - Stealing almost $7 million from the main bank in Ramadi in broad daylight, then, upon exiting, waving to the Marines in the combat outpost right next to the bank, who had no clue of what was going on. The Marines waved back. Too cool.

Most Memorable Scene - In the middle of the night, on a dusty airfield, watching the better part of a battalion of Marines packed up and ready to go home after six months in al-Anbar, the relief etched in their young faces even in the moonlight. Then watching these same Marines exchange glances with a similar number of grunts loaded down with gear file past - their replacements. Nothing was said. Nothing needed to be said.

Highest Unit Re-enlistment Rate - Any outfit that has been in Iraq recently. All the danger, all the hardship, all the time away from home, all the horror, all the frustrations with the fight here - all are outweighed by the desire for young men to be part of a 'Band of Brothers' who will die for one another. They found what they were looking for when they enlisted out of high school. Man for man, they now have more combat experience than any Marines in the history of our Corps.

Most Surprising Thing I Don't Miss - Beer. Perhaps being half-stunned by lack of sleep makes up for it.

Worst Smell - Porta-johns in 120 degree heat - and that's 120 degrees outside of the porta-john.

Highest Temperature - I don't know exactly, but it was in the porta-johns. Needed to re-hydrate after each trip to the loo.

Biggest Hassle - High-ranking visitors. More disruptive to work than a rocket attack. VIPs demand briefs and "battlefield" tours (we take them to quiet sections of Fallujah, which is plenty scary for them). Our briefs and commentary seem to have no affect on their preconceived notions of what's going on in Iraq. Their trips allow them to say that they've been to Fallujah, which gives them an unfortunate degree of credibility in perpetuating their fantasies about the insurgency here.

Biggest Outrage - Practically anything said by talking heads on TV about the war in Iraq, not that I get to watch much TV. Their thoughts are consistently both grossly simplistic and politically slanted. Biggest offender - Bill O'Reilly - what a buffoon.

Best Intel Work - Finding Jill Carroll's kidnappers - all of them. I was mighty proud of my guys that day. I figured we'd all get the Christian Science Monitor for free after this, but none have showed up yet. Talk about ingratitude.

Saddest Moment - Having the battalion commander from 1st Battalion, 1st Marines hand me the dog tags of one of my Marines who had just been killed
while on a mission with his unit. Hit by a 60mm mortar. Cpl B. was a great Marine. I felt crushed for a long time afterward. His picture now hangs at the entrance to the Intelligence Section. We'll carry it home with us when we leave in February.

Biggest Ass-Chewing - 10 July immediately following a visit by the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Zobai. The Deputy Prime Minister brought along an American security contractor (read mercenary), who told my Commanding General that he was there to act as a mediator between us and the Bad Guys. I immediately told him what I thought of him and his asinine ideas in terms that made clear my disgust and which, unfortunately, are unrepeatable here. I thought my boss was going to have a heart attack. Fortunately, the translator couldn't figure out the best Arabic words to convey my meaning for the Deputy Prime Minister. Later, the boss had no difficulty in convening his meaning to me in English regarding my Irish temper, even though he agreed with me. At least the guy from the State Department thought it was hilarious. We never saw the mercenary again.

Best Chuck Norris Moment - 13 May. Bad Guys arrived at the government center in the small town of Kubaysah to kidnap the town mayor, since they have a problem with any form of government that does not include regular beheadings and women wearing burqahs. There were seven of them. As they brought the mayor out to put him in a pick-up truck to take him off to be beheaded (on video, as usual), one of the bad Guys put down his machinegun so that he could tie the mayor's hands. The mayor took the opportunity to pick up the machinegun and drill five of the Bad Guys. The other two ran away. One of the dead Bad Guys was on our top twenty wanted list. Like they say, you can't fight City Hall.

Worst Sound - That crack-boom off in the distance that means an IED or mine just went off. You just wonder who got it, hoping that it was a near miss rather than a direct hit. Hear it every day.

Second Worst Sound - Our artillery firing without warning. The howitzers are pretty close to where I work. Believe me, outgoing sounds a lot like incoming when our guns are firing right over our heads. They'd about knock the fillings out of your teeth.

Only Thing Better in Iraq Than in the U.S. - Sunsets. Spectacular. It's from all the dust in the air.

Proudest Moment - It's a tie every day, watching my Marines produce phenomenal intelligence products that go pretty far in tearing apart Bad Guy operations in al-Anbar. Every night Marines and Soldiers are kicking in doors and grabbing Bad Guys based on intelligence developed by my guys. We rarely lose a Marine during these raids, they are so well-informed of the objective. A bunch of kids right out of high school shouldn't be able to work so well, but they do.

Happiest Moment - Well, it wasn't in Iraq. There are no truly happy moments here. It was back in California when I was able to hold my family again while home on leave during July.

Most Common Thought - Home. Always thinking of home, of K- and the kids. Wondering how everyone else is getting along. Regretting that I don't write more. Yep, always thinking of home.

I hope you all are doing well. If you want to do something for me, kiss a cop, flush a toilet, and drink a beer. I'll try to write again before too long - I promise.

Semper Fi

I could offer some analysis - but it speaks plainly to me.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Sep 18, 2006

September 14, 2006

Let's have a debate!

by Staff Sgt. Russell L. Klika September 13, 2006<br />
Spc. Danell Herd and Pfc. Michael Ferryman, from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, greet Iraqi children during a roadside break while looking for smuggling routes along the Syrian/Iraqi border. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.

by Staff Sgt. Russell L. Klika September 13, 2006
Spc. Danell Herd and Pfc. Michael Ferryman, from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, greet Iraqi children during a roadside break while looking for smuggling routes along the Syrian/Iraqi border. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.

"These readers just don’t get soldiers or soldiering."

Over at National Review, they've been having a discussion of troop levels, both in Iraq and in the services in general. Rich Lowry posted an email from an officer, which I've excerpted here and interspersed comments - to get the whole gist you need to probably need to start here and read up...

The writer is mostly correct, though obviously an officer. As a blogger who hears from troops (a self-selecting group that *want* to say something, hence there is bias) the troops say pretty much the same thing - except they want more forceful leadership at the highest levels.

They see the senior military and political leaderhship engaged *about* the war, not *in* the war.

A lot of which is a perception issue, but with an element of truth.

"Stryker versus Heavy vs Light infantry versus SOF could lock an entire Leavenworth class in debate well past graduation. A strawman never fully developed such that a talking head or non-responsible gov’t official can later claim title as Cassandra—the strawman knocked or embraced whichever way the news takes it that day."

This is dead-on. Medieval bishops have nothing on government civilians, officers and pundits (heh, I'm both) wrangling over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin... I know, I get paid to do that. And sometimes, I get paid to provide both sides of the argument their ammunition.

"Sucks that I’ve been to Iraq twice, Afghan once, but – ya know- it aint breakin anything but paradigms in the Pentagon and in Newspapers and even in VFW halls."

I would add... "but, oddly, not breaking any paradigms in the anti-crowd, for whom the clock seems to have stopped at 1975."

This is where the between-the-lines stuff happens - and where the ghost of Vietnam wreaks it's havoc in the political debate back at home.

1. It *isn't* a draftee Army. That makes a huge difference.

2. We aren't taking a Vietnam (much less Korea, WWII, WWI) level of fatal/fully disabling casualties, being suffered by people serving against their wishes, which makes it far more sustainable.

Those two bits alone, and the inability of the aged and doddering anti-crowd to understand that difference, make a huge difference in the quality of the force doing the fighting, and the bafflement of the antis in not being able to mobilize the youth to politics - the bulk of the youth who *really care* in a big way about this particular war... are fighting it. As volunteers.

"Folks just can’t help but fear the Army stretching thin and then cracking or snapping or failing in some structural manner— its just not neat and ideal and budgetable and program-able-. "

And that is where the Administration, and senior military leadership, I think, fumbles the ball. Since the economy is different from the Vietnam-era, so that the felt-at-the-personal-level economic impacts are less obvious and intrusive, they've been able to fight this thing on the relative cheap and not had to mobilize the populace, so to speak, though the President is on that jag now, whether for the long haul, or just to scare everybody into voting Republican in November remains to be seen. In some respects, there are some similarities (and real huge differences because the whole military/political/media structure is different so you can't push this very far) to how we found ourselves fighting in the Phillipines.

Hey— Need Iran done? —the major combat ops won’t take much more than a month, then we can leave or dilly daddle around with democratizing the joint for a few years. Or not. Besides, lots of us haven’t been there yet! Just kidding about that last, there…"

And this is the kind of "Yessir, Can do" attitude that *will* break the services if the senior DoD leadership were to embrace it. I agree with the writer that we can continue what we're doing at the current pace if they'll pick up the bill for the equipment here pretty soon - but I don't believe for a minute we could do anything remotely like Iraq in Iran - especially from a post-MCO perspective - unless Ledeen is correct, and the Iranians will just step right up, take up the reins, and move out smartly. Iran is most certainly not Iraq - but is it different enough?

Of course, Derbyshire would support what I call a "smash and grab" perhaps - it's what he thinks we should have done in Iraq in the first place...

There's no doubt huge holes in this, it's early and I'm only half-way through my first cuppa joe - but that's the nature of punditry, right?

Whattaya think? This is not a fully-developed treatise - it's a high-school forensics meet improv.

U.S. Army Spc. Enriquillo Hernandez provides security as his platoon leader gathers intelligence along the Syria/Iraq border near Forward Operating Base Nimur, Iraq, Aug. 13, 2006. Hernandez is with 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika) (Released)


U.S. Army Spc. Enriquillo Hernandez provides security as his platoon leader gathers intelligence along the Syria/Iraq border near Forward Operating Base Nimur, Iraq, Aug. 13, 2006. Hernandez is with 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika) (Released)

by John on Sep 14, 2006
» MilBlogs links with: Snerkiture...

September 12, 2006

STATEMENT ON THE STATUS OF Al ANBAR PROVINCE BY MAJ. GEN. RICHARD ZILMER

Release Date: 9/12/2006

Release Number:
06-09-01P

Description:
FALLUJAH, Iraq – Recent media reports fail to accurately capture the entirety and complexity of the current situation in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq. The classified assessment, which has been referred to in these reports, was intended to focus on the causes of the insurgency. It was not intended to address the positive effects Coalition and Iraqi forces have achieved on the security environment over the past years.

That said, there is an active insurgency in Anbar. The enemy we face has no concern for the welfare of the Iraqi people, nor any peaceful vision for their future. We believe the Iraqi people want something more and are willing to fight and die for it.

We are making steady progress in the accomplishment of our primary mission to train and develop the Iraqi Security Forces to defeat the insurgency. This is due in large measure to the successful recruiting and training of thousands of Iraqi Police and improvements in the overall capabilities of the Iraqi Army.

This has resulted in the transfer of increasing responsibilities to the ISF for fighting the insurgency. Finally, the progress we have made has been due to the dedicated and heroic actions of both US and Iraqi forces.

Despite these consistent advances in the security environment, we have found making the same progress politically and economically, throughout all of Anbar, to be much more challenging. In areas where the presence of Iraqi Security Forces is combined with an effective local civil government, we have seen progress made. Not just in the area of security, but in economic development and the establishment of social order and public services. These are the conditions which must be set that will result in the support of the local people, and ultimately cause the defeat of this terrorist backed insurgency.

For lasting progress to take place, comparably effective advances must be made in the development of governmental and economic institutions at the local, provincial and national levels. Only then, will the people of Al Anbar be able to realize their goal of long-term security, prosperity and confidence in their government.

For the WashPo's view of the press conference that coincides with this press release, see here.

by John on Sep 12, 2006

September 11, 2006

9/11@ 5 years on - We Remember: The President's Address.

President's Address To The Nation As Prepared for Delivery September 11, 2006

THE PRESIDENT: "Good evening. Five years ago, this date – September the 11th – was seared into America ’s memory. Nineteen men attacked us with a barbarity unequaled in our history. They murdered people of all colors, creeds, and nationalities – and made war upon the entire free world. Since that day, America and her allies have taken the offensive in a war unlike any we have fought before. Today, we are safer, but we are not yet safe. On this solemn night, I have asked for some of your time to discuss the nature of the threat still before us … what we are doing to protect our Nation ... and the building of a more hopeful Middle East that holds the key to peace for America and the world.

"On Nine-Eleven, our Nation saw the face of evil. Yet on that awful day, we also witnessed something distinctly American: ordinary citizens rising to the occasion, and responding with extraordinary acts of courage. We saw courage in office workers who were trapped on the high floors of burning skyscrapers – and called home so that their last words to their families would be of comfort and love. We saw courage in passengers aboard Flight 93, who recited the 23rd Psalm – and then charged the cockpit. And we saw courage in the Pentagon staff who made it out of the flames and smoke – and ran back in to answer cries for help. On this day, we remember the innocent who lost their lives – and we pay tribute to those who gave their lives so that others might live.

"For many of our citizens, the wounds of that morning are still fresh. I have met firefighters and police officers who choke up at the memory of fallen comrades. I have stood with families gathered on a grassy field in Pennsylvania , who take bittersweet pride in loved ones who refused to be victims – and gave America our first victory in the war on terror. And I have sat beside young mothers with children who are now five-years-old – and still long for the daddies who will never cradle them in their arms. Out of this suffering, we resolve to honor every man and woman lost. And we seek their lasting memorial in a safer and more hopeful world.

"Since the horror of Nine-Eleven, we have learned a great deal about the enemy. We have learned that they are evil and kill without mercy – but not without purpose. We have learned that they form a global network of extremists who are driven by a perverted vision of Islam – a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent. And we have learned that their goal is to build a radical Islamic empire where women are prisoners in their homes, men are beaten for missing prayer meetings, and terrorists have a safe haven to plan and launch attacks on America and other civilized nations. The war against this enemy is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century, and the calling of our generation.

"Our Nation is being tested in a way that we have not been since the start of the Cold War. We saw what a handful of our enemies can do with box-cutters and plane tickets. We hear their threats to launch even more terrible attacks on our people. And we know that if they were able to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, they would use them against us. We face an enemy determined to bring death and suffering into our homes. America did not ask for this war, and every American wishes it were over. So do I. But the war is not over – and it will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious. If we do not defeat these enemies now, we will leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons. We are in a war that will set the course for this new century – and determine the destiny of millions across the world.

"For America , Nine-Eleven was more than a tragedy – it changed the way we look at the world. On September the 11th, we resolved that we would go on the offense against our enemies – and we would not distinguish between the terrorists and those who harbor or support them. So we helped drive the Taliban from power in Afghanistan . We put al Qaeda on the run, and killed or captured most of those who planned the Nine-Eleven attacks – including the man believed to be the mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed. He and other suspected terrorists have been questioned by the Central Intelligence Agency – and they have provided valuable information that has helped stop attacks in America and across the world. Now these men have been transferred to Guantanamo Bay , so they can be held to account for their actions. Osama Bin Laden and other terrorists are still in hiding. Our message to them is clear: No matter how long it takes, America will find you, and we will bring you to justice.

"On September the 11th, we learned that America must confront threats before they reach our shores – whether those threats come from terrorist networks or terrorist states. I am often asked why we are in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the Nine-Eleven attacks. The answer is that the regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat. My Administration, the Congress, and the United Nations saw the threat – and after Nine-Eleven, Saddam’s regime posed a risk that the world could not afford to take. The world is safer because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. And now the challenge is to help the Iraqi people build a democracy that fulfills the dreams of the nearly 12 million Iraqis who came out to vote in free elections last December.

"Al Qaeda and other extremists from across the world have come to Iraq to stop the rise of a free society in the heart of the Middle East . They have joined the remnants of Saddam’s regime and other armed groups to foment sectarian violence and drive us out. Our enemies in Iraq are tough and they are committed – but so are Iraqi and Coalition forces. We are adapting to stay ahead of the enemy – and we are carrying out a clear plan to ensure that a democratic Iraq succeeds.

"We are training Iraqi troops so they can defend their nation. We are helping Iraq ’s unity government grow in strength and serve its people. We will not leave until this work is done. Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq , the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone. They will not leave us alone. They will follow us. The safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad . Osama Bin Laden calls this fight “the Third World War” – and he says that victory for the terrorists in Iraq will mean America ’s “defeat and disgrace forever.” If we yield Iraq to men like Bin Laden, our enemies will be emboldened ... they will gain a new safe haven ... and they will use Iraq ’s resources to fuel their extremist movement. We will not allow this to happen. America will stay in the fight. Iraq will be a free nation, and a strong ally in the war on terror.

"We can be confident that our Coalition will succeed – because the Iraqi people have been steadfast in the face of unspeakable violence. And we can be confident in victory – because of the skill and resolve of America ’s Armed Forces. Every one of our troops is a volunteer, and since the attacks of September the 11th, more than 1.6 million Americans have stepped forward to put on our Nation's uniform. In Iraq , Afghanistan , and other fronts in the war on terror, the men and women of our military are making great sacrifices to keep us safe. Some have suffered terrible injuries – and nearly 3,000 have given their lives. America cherishes their memory. We pray for their families. And we will never back down from the work they have begun.

"We also honor those who toil day and night to keep our homeland safe – and we are giving them the tools they need to protect our people. We have created the Department of Homeland Security … we have torn down the wall that kept law enforcement and intelligence from sharing information ... we have tightened security at our airports, seaports, and borders ... and we have created new programs to monitor enemy bank records and phone calls. Thanks to the hard work of our law enforcement and intelligence professionals, we have broken up terrorist cells in our midst, and saved American lives.

"Five years after Nine-Eleven, our enemies have not succeeded in launching another attack on our soil – but they have not been idle. Al Qaeda and those inspired by its hateful ideology have carried out terrorist attacks in more than two dozen nations. And just last month, they were foiled in a plot to blow up passenger planes headed for the United States . They remain determined to attack America and kill our citizens – and we are determined to stop them. We will continue to give the men and women who protect us every resource and legal authority they need to do their jobs.

"In the first days after the Nine-Eleven attacks, I promised to use every element of national power to fight the terrorists wherever we find them. One of the strongest weapons in our arsenal is the power of freedom. The terrorists fear freedom as much as they do our firepower. They are thrown into panic at the sight of an old man pulling the election lever … girls enrolling in school … or families worshiping God in their own traditions. They know that given a choice, people will choose freedom over their extremist ideology. So their answer is to deny people this choice by raging against the forces of freedom and moderation. This struggle has been called a clash of civilizations. In truth, it is a struggle for civilization. We are fighting to maintain the way of life enjoyed by free nations. And we are fighting for the possibility that good and decent people across the Middle East can raise up societies based on freedom, and tolerance, and personal dignity.

"We are now in the early hours of this struggle between tyranny and freedom. Amid the violence, some question whether the people of the Middle East want their freedom – and whether the forces of moderation can prevail. For sixty years, these doubts guided our policies in the Middle East . And then, on a bright September morning, it became clear that the calm we saw in the Middle East was only a mirage. Years of pursuing stability to promote peace had left us with neither. So we changed our policies, and committed America ’s influence in the world to advancing freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism.

"With our help, the people of the Middle East are now stepping forward to claim their freedom. From Kabul to Baghdad to Beirut , there are brave men and women risking their lives each day for the same freedoms that we enjoy. And they have one question of us: Do we have the confidence to do in the Middle East what our fathers and grandfathers accomplished in Europe and Asia ? By standing with democratic leaders and reformers, by giving voice to the hopes of decent men and women, we are offering a path away from radicalism. And we are enlisting the most powerful force for peace and moderation in the Middle East : The desire of millions to be free.

"Across the broader Middle East , the extremists are fighting to prevent such a future. Yet America has confronted evil before, and we have defeated it – sometimes at the cost of thousands of good men in a single battle. When Franklin Roosevelt vowed to defeat two enemies across two oceans, he could not have foreseen D-Day and Iwo Jima – but he would not have been surprised at the outcome. When Harry Truman promised American support for free peoples resisting Soviet aggression, he could not have foreseen the rise of the Berlin Wall – but he would not have been surprised to see it brought down. Throughout our history, America has seen liberty challenged – and every time, we have seen liberty triumph with sacrifice and determination.

"At the start of this young century, America looks to the day when the people of the Middle East leave the desert of despotism for the fertile gardens of liberty – and resume their rightful place in a world of peace and prosperity. We look to the day when the nations of that region recognize that their greatest resource is not the oil in the ground – but the talent and creativity of their people. We look to the day when moms and dads throughout the Middle East see a future of hope and opportunity for their children. And when that good day comes, the clouds of war will part … the appeal of radicalism will decline ... and we will leave our children with a better and safer world. On this solemn anniversary, we rededicate ourselves to this cause. Our Nation has endured trials – and we face a difficult road ahead. Winning this war will require the determined efforts of a unified country. So we must put aside our differences, and work together to meet the test that history has given us. We will defeat our enemies … we will protect our people ... and we will lead the 21st century into a shining age of human liberty.

"Earlier this year, I traveled to the United States Military Academy . I was there to deliver the commencement address to the first class to arrive at West Point after the attacks of September the 11th. That day I met a proud mom named RoseEllen Dowdell. She was there to watch her son Patrick accept his commission in the finest Army the world has ever known. A few weeks earlier, RoseEllen had watched her other son, James, graduate from the Fire Academy in New York City . On both these days, her thoughts turned to someone who was not there to share the moment: her husband, Kevin Dowdell. Kevin was one of the 343 firefighters who rushed to the burning towers of the World Trade Center on September the 11th – and never came home. His sons lost their father that day – but not the passion for service he instilled in them. Here is what RoseEllen says about her boys, “As a mother, I cross my fingers and pray all the time for their safety – but as worried as I am, I am also proud – and I know their dad would be too.”

"Our Nation is blessed to have young Americans like these – and we will need them. Dangerous enemies have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. They are not the first to try – and their fate will be the same as those who tried before. Nine-Eleven showed us why. The attacks were meant to bring us to our knees, and they did – but not in the way the terrorists intended. Americans united in prayer ... came to the aid of neighbors in need ... and resolved that our enemies would not have the last word. The spirit of our people is the source of America ’s strength. And we go forward with trust in that spirit, confidence in our purpose – and faith in a loving God who made us to be free.

"Thank you, and may God bless you."

Heh. While we appreciate the links from Unpartisan.com, we wish their aggregation algorithm was just a *touch* more discriminating... this is, after all, simply a posting of the text of the President's speech, and nothing else. But if you followed a link from there, Hi! Feel free to scroll down for our 2966 tributes - well, come to think of it, I *can* editorialize a bit. Go to this post (the one right above this one, and check out the two-line quote at the bottom of the post - it sort of encapsulates the attitude behind the speech, in rather shorter, and somewhat more refreshing, if naughty, terms.

Or, if you're 9/11'd out, but like guns and militaria, hit the "Gun Pr0n" archive!

by John on Sep 11, 2006
» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: America Safer, But Concerns Growing

September 08, 2006

Contrary to your expectations...

...this is *not* the back 40 at the Castle. Nor does it represent an unloading of the basement. Really. Honest.

Marines from B Company's 3rd Platoon stand next to one of the many weapons' caches they dug from the ground during Operation Rubicon in Mushin, Iraq, west of Habbaniyah. The Recon Marines unearthed hundreds of mortars, artillery shells, rifles, machines guns, ammunition and improvised explosive device-making materials. Marines found so many caches, they said they could barely make it 100 meters before discovering another buried weapons' site.

Marines from B Company's 3rd Platoon stand next to one of the many weapons' caches they dug from the ground during Operation Rubicon in Mushin, Iraq, west of Habbaniyah. The Recon Marines unearthed hundreds of mortars, artillery shells, rifles, machines guns, ammunition and improvised explosive device-making materials. Marines found so many caches, they said they could barely make it 100 meters before discovering another buried weapons' site.

Just sayin'. Really, Lee, it ain't. (That last is for my local Police Chief and fellow-Rotarian)

by John on Sep 08, 2006

September 07, 2006

Exonerating the dead.

In this post about the deaths of Specialist Babineau, and Privates Menchaca and Tucker, I made the following observation:

Lastly, this result needs to inform the Courts Martial of those soldiers whose actions seemingly sparked this event, if that connection can be made with evidentiary rigor. Not in the guilt or innocence phase - but in the punishment phase.

If that connection can be made with evidentiary rigor...

Heh.

'No Evidence' Ties Dead Soldiers to Mahmudiyah Crimes American Forces Press Service | September 05, 2006

Washington D.C. - Citing media reports suggesting a possible connection between three U.S. soldiers killed in June and the alleged rape of an Iraqi girl and murder of the girl and her family in March, military officials in Iraq today issued a statement saying “no evidence” connects the dead soldiers to the incident.

“Past articles could be read to imply that the three deceased soldiers were somehow involved in the alleged crimes,” Multinational Corps Iraq officials said in the statement.

Spc. David Babineau, Pfc. Thomas Tucker and Pfc. Kristian Menchaca – all assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division – were manning a checkpoint that came under attack June 16. Babineau died at the scene, and Tucker and Menchaca went missing. Their bodies were found three days later.

Even though this article addresses a different issue - whether or not these three soldiers were involved in the rape and murders, vice a connection of their deaths as vengeance for the rape and murders, I thought it important to raise the issue back up to the front.

You can read the whole piece at Military.com.

Speaking of the soldiers in question - those accused of the rape and murders, there is an update:

Judge in Rape-Murder Case Denies Gag Order
Associated Press | September 01, 2006
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky - A federal judge rejected a gag order that could have kept lawyers and even President George W. Bush from publicly discussing the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the slaying of her relatives.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Russell said there is "no reason to believe" that a former soldier's right to a fair trial would be in jeopardy.

In a ruling Thursday, Russell also ordered former Pvt. Steven D. Green, 21, to be arraigned Nov. 8 in federal court in Louisville.

Investigators say Green and four other soldiers from the Fort Campbell-based 101st Airborne Division plotted to rape the girl in the village of Mahmoudiya. Green is accused of being the triggerman in the shooting of three family members in a room of the girl's house before she was raped and killed.

Defense lawyers had asked the judge to silence a variety of people, from the attorneys in the case to Bush.

The rest of that article is also available via Military.com.

by John on Sep 07, 2006
» MilBlogs links with: Stop by the Castle today...

Just saying - because it needs saying...

English/Anglais<br />
AR2006-G020-013<br />
05 Sept 2006<br />
Kandahar, Afghanistan<br />
Canadian soldiers pay tribute to fallen comrades, WO Frank Mellish, WO Richard Nolan, Sgt Shane Stachnik and Pte Mark Graham during a Ramp Ceremony held at the Kandahar Air Field. </p>

<p>Task Force Afghanistan is part of Canada’s contribution to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. This mission is about Canadians and their international partners helping Afghans rebuild their lives, their families, their communities and their nation. Canadian operations will work to improve the quality of life of Afghans by providing a secure environment in which Afghan society can recover from more than 25 years of conflict.</p>

<p>The Canadian Forces (CF) contribution in Afghanistan comprises about 2,000 soldiers, most of whom serve with Task Force Afghanistan at Kandahar Airfield and Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar City. Additional personnel are assigned to Kabul, various military headquarters, and civilian organizations.</p>

<p>Photo by: Sgt Lou Penney<br />
TFA OP ATHENA<br />
Imagery Technician


English/Anglais
AR2006-G020-013
05 Sept 2006
Kandahar, Afghanistan
Canadian soldiers pay tribute to fallen comrades, WO Frank Mellish, WO Richard Nolan, Sgt Shane Stachnik and Pte Mark Graham during a Ramp Ceremony held at the Kandahar Air Field.

Task Force Afghanistan is part of Canada’s contribution to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. This mission is about Canadians and their international partners helping Afghans rebuild their lives, their families, their communities and their nation. Canadian operations will work to improve the quality of life of Afghans by providing a secure environment in which Afghan society can recover from more than 25 years of conflict.

The Canadian Forces (CF) contribution in Afghanistan comprises about 2,000 soldiers, most of whom serve with Task Force Afghanistan at Kandahar Airfield and Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar City. Additional personnel are assigned to Kabul, various military headquarters, and civilian organizations.

Photo by: Sgt Lou Penney
TFA OP ATHENA
Imagery Technician

Damian, speaking at The Torch, sends us to Bruce, at Flit, who has an interesting analysis of who is paying the price in the GWOT. You should go visit both sites, for the comments are instructive, and I'll not snatch and publish Bruce's figures here, you should go look yourself - why? As Bruce notes:

I suspect most Americans would not reflexively rate Canada, Bulgaria, and the pusillanimous Spanish as their greatest allies after Britain. I do wish they'd start.

Bruce isn't speaking to me, this being the most Canadian-flavored US milblog I'm aware of - but I rather suspect he's right. Though... I'll still give the Spanish government a pass.

A commenter at Damian's notes:

cynical joe said... You make a good point about guarding against boasting about death totals, but I do wish some American commentators would stop mentioning how great an ally Australia is without at least mentioning our larger role and larger sacrifice. Of course I mean no disrespect to our Australian allies and friends just an awareness that Canada is doing its share and more.

Word.


Private Graham we've already mentioned here..

Let's put some more faces to some recent names.

Warrant Officer Frank Robert Mellish, a member of 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ontario was killed on September 3, 2006 fighting against Taliban insurgents approximately 15 km west of Kandahar City. Warrant Officer Mellish’s unit was part of Operation MEDUSA, a significant combined effort between the Afghan National Security Forces, Canada and our other NATO partners in the International Security Assistance Force aimed at removing armed militants from the Panjwayi and Zhari district region so that displaced villagers can return to their homes and re-establish their livelihoods without living in constant fear of the Taliban.


Warrant Officer Frank Robert Mellish, a member of 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ontario was killed on September 3, 2006 fighting against Taliban insurgents approximately 15 km west of Kandahar City. Warrant Officer Mellish’s unit was part of Operation MEDUSA, a significant combined effort between the Afghan National Security Forces, Canada and our other NATO partners in the International Security Assistance Force aimed at removing armed militants from the Panjwayi and Zhari district region so that displaced villagers can return to their homes and re-establish their livelihoods without living in constant fear of the Taliban.
Le 3 septembre 2006, l’adjudant Frank Robert Mellish, membre du 1st Bataillon du Royal Canadian Regiment basé à Petawa en Ontario, a perdu la vie dans les combats contre les insurgés talibans qui se sont déroulés à environ 15 km à l’ouest de la ville de Kandahar. L’unité de l’adjudant Mellish participait à l’opération MEDUSA, une opération d’envergure entre les forces afghanes de sécurité nationale, le Canada et autres partenaires de l’OTAN qui font partie de la Force internationale d’assistance à la sécurité, qui visait à chasser les militants armés de la région des districts de Panjwayi et Zhari, afin que les villageois déplacés retournent chez eux et refassent leurs vies sans avoir constamment peur des Talibans.

Sergeant Shane Stachnik, a member of 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ontario was killed on September 3, 2006 fighting against Taliban insurgents approximately 15 km west of Kandahar City. Sergeant Stachnik’s unit was part of Operation MEDUSA, a significant combined effort between the Afghan National Security Forces, Canada and our other NATO partners in the International Security Assistance Force aimed at removing armed militants from the Panjwayi and Zhari district region so that displaced villagers can return to their homes and re-establish their livelihoods without living in constant fear of the Taliban.

Sergeant Shane Stachnik, a member of 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ontario was killed on September 3, 2006 fighting against Taliban insurgents approximately 15 km west of Kandahar City. Sergeant Stachnik’s unit was part of Operation MEDUSA, a significant combined effort between the Afghan National Security Forces, Canada and our other NATO partners in the International Security Assistance Force aimed at removing armed militants from the Panjwayi and Zhari district region so that displaced villagers can return to their homes and re-establish their livelihoods without living in constant fear of the Taliban. Le Sergent Shane Stachnik, un membre du 2e Régiment de génie de combat, basé à Petawawa, Ontario, fut tué le 3 septembre 2006, pendant un engagement contre des insurgés Talibans à environ 15 km à l’ouest de Kandahar. L’unité du Sergent Stachnik faisait parti de l’opération MEDUSA, une opération de stabilisation à grande échelle de la FIAS visant à chasser les militants armés de la région des districts de Panjwayi et Zhari pour que les villageois déplacés poussent retourner chez eux et reprendre leurs vies sans craindre constamment les Talibans.

Warrant Officer Richard Francis Nolan, a member of 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ontario was killed on September 3, 2006 fighting against Taliban insurgents approximately 15 km west of Kandahar City. Warrant Officer Nolan’s unit was part of Operation MEDUSA, a significant combined effort between the Afghan National Security Forces, Canada and our other NATO partners in the International Security Assistance Force aimed at removing armed militants from the Panjwayi and Zhari district region so that displaced villagers can return to their homes and re-establish their livelihoods without living in constant fear of the Taliban.

Warrant Officer Richard Francis Nolan, a member of 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ontario was killed on September 3, 2006 fighting against Taliban insurgents approximately 15 km west of Kandahar City. Warrant Officer Nolan’s unit was part of Operation MEDUSA, a significant combined effort between the Afghan National Security Forces, Canada and our other NATO partners in the International Security Assistance Force aimed at removing armed militants from the Panjwayi and Zhari district region so that displaced villagers can return to their homes and re-establish their livelihoods without living in constant fear of the Taliban. Le 3 septembre 2006, l’adjudant Richard Francis Nolan, membre du 1st Battalion du Royal Canadian Regiment basé à Petawa en Ontario, a perdu la vie dans les combats contre les insurgés talibans qui se sont déroulés à environ 15 km à l’ouest de la ville de Kandahar. L’unité de l’adjudant Nolan participait à l’opération MEDUSA, une opération d’envergure entre les forces afghanes de sécurité nationale, le Canada et autres partenaires de l’OTAN qui font partie de la Force internationale d’assistance à la sécurité, qui visait à chasser les militants armés de la région des districts de Panjwayi et Zhari, afin que les villageois déplacés retournent chez eux et refassent leurs vies sans avoir constamment peur des Talibans.

Private William Jonathan James Cushley, a member of 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ontario was killed on September 3, 2006 fighting against Taliban insurgents approximately 15 km west of Kandahar City. Private Cushley’s unit was part of Operation MEDUSA, a significant combined effort between the Afghan National Security Forces, Canada and our other NATO partners in the International Security Assistance Force aimed at removing armed militants from the Panjwayi and Zhari district region so that displaced villagers can return to their homes and re-establish their livelihoods without living in constant fear of the Taliban.



Private William Jonathan James Cushley, a member of 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ontario was killed on September 3, 2006 fighting against Taliban insurgents approximately 15 km west of Kandahar City. Private Cushley’s unit was part of Operation MEDUSA, a significant combined effort between the Afghan National Security Forces, Canada and our other NATO partners in the International Security Assistance Force aimed at removing armed militants from the Panjwayi and Zhari district region so that displaced villagers can return to their homes and re-establish their livelihoods without living in constant fear of the Taliban.
Le Soldat William Jonathan James Cushley, un membre du 1er Bataillon, The Royal Canadian Regiment, basé à Petawawa, Ontario, fut tué le 3 setempbre 2006, au cours de combats contre des insurgés talibans à environ 15 km à l’ouest de Kandahar. L’unité du Soldat Cushley faisait parti de l’opération MEDUSA, une opération de stabilisation à grande échelle de la FIAS visant à chasser les militants armés de la région des districts de Panjwayi et Zhari pour que les villageois déplacés poussent retourner chez eux et reprendre leurs vies sans craindre constamment les Talibans. Photo Sgt Ron Hartlen

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

by John on Sep 07, 2006
» MilBlogs links with: Stop by the Castle today...

September 06, 2006

We live in interesting times...

WTF, over? This seems to be flying under the radar - Bill Roggio reporting on Talibanistan, otherwise known as “The Islamic Emirate of Waziristan.” Anybody got a view of this that explains it in other than noxious terms? Not questioning Bill - wondering why no one seems to think it's important enough to talk about outside of the blogs. At the end of July MSNBCNewsweek reported on "The Rise of Pakistan's Taliban," an article which highlights the problems of Nation-States dealing with tribes... which is looking to be the defining issue of the early part of this century.

Update: The Pakistani government asserts that General Sultan was misquoted:

AMBASSADOR MAHMUD ALI DURRANI: "General Shaukat Sultan has been grossly misquoted in a section of US media today. Let me put the record straight. Pakistan is on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and his associates. If he is in Pakistan , today or any time later, he will be taken into custody and brought to justice. No amnesty has been granted to Osama Bin Laden. The Pakistan Army is in Waziristan for reasons of national interest and not because of external pressure. The Army will continue to stay in Waziristan for as long as the security situation demands. Pakistan is a full partner with the international community, especially the United States of America , in the War against Terrorism. Our resolve is firm."

The Pakistani Embassy has posted this press release.

by John on Sep 06, 2006
» Stop The ACLU links with: Pakistan Denies Bin Laden Gets a Pass
» Flopping Aces links with: A Surrender Or Not
» Old War Dogs links with: Bill's Bites

Send in your questions!

As part of the CENTCOM program to push the military's story into more places, spaces, and Google, I've been offered the chance to interview a Marine doing Civil Affairs work in Iraq.

While I've got an idea of what I'd like to ask - I figured more viewpoints would provide a better spread of questions than a whole lot of detail questions about his weapons... (okay, I'm not going to be *that* bad) - but I'd like your input - whether by comments here, or email.

And if you're a troll of any stripe, or an anti- that's fine. You're invited to submit questions, too - just don't make 'em venal and asinine (which really goes for everybody, btw). This warrior is in a dangerous place, doing his best to get the job done, and we should treat him that way. He's a young NCO, so keep that in mind, and he's doing Civil Affairs work in Iraq. Asking him his opinion on attack helo operations in Afghanistan is going to be a little outside his bailiwick (however much he might have an opinion...).

This is all going to be email, and is going to go through the PAO, just like any interview conducted under official auspices. Which doesn't mean we won't get interesting answers, but does mean there's a filter in place that honesty requires be noted. And I'm fine with that.

Meet Corporal Sweet:

Cpl Sweet is from Meridian, Ms and is currently serving in Al Asad, Iraq as a Civil Affairs NCO with the 3rd CAG Det. The main goal of 3rd. CAG Det’s mission is to ensure positive relationships are built with the local Iraqi population. They currently have a trash project going on in the Military Housing Complex of city of Baghdadi, the MHC is an old housing complex that Sadam built and used for his elite Army Officers, this complex is now being used by Iraqi citizens of the area. They are refurbishing schools, and clinics to ensure a better future/ way of life for the local Iraqi civilians. They are also in the process for getting a road project approved in the city of Hit (pronounced Heet).

So - give 'em up!

by John on Sep 06, 2006

September 05, 2006

Sigh. Oh no, not again...

Just as in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," I find myself in this dilemma:

Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now.

I just had an "Oh no, not again" moment. This time regarding the USAF/Guys on the Ground Of Any Army and their liaison (or the whole system) for working with forces on the ground in Afghanistan, as evidenced in another friendly fire death - Canadians again.

Alan at GenX@40 sent a link to this article in the Globe and Mail:

Friendly fire claims former Olympic athlete ALEX DOBROTA AND OMAR EL AKKAD

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

World-class runner and former Olympian Mark Anthony Graham was killed in Afghanistan yesterday, mistakenly hit by fire from a U.S. warplane.

While no death is worth more or less than any others, some are more newsworthy. The war with the Taliban claimed Ranger Pat Tillman, ex-pro football player, and it was now claimed a former Olympian, Private Mark Graham of the Canadian Forces. And, eerily enough, both in friendly fire incidents.

Clearly, there's still work to be done in coordinating close air support. Absent any better news than I have now, I'm not suggesting who is at fault. It's a complex geometry controlling close air, I've done it myself, and there is plenty of room for error in the air and on the ground.

From the Canadian Ministry of Defence:

Canadian Soldier Killed, Others Wounded in Friendly Fire Incident CEFCOM NR–06.022 - September 4, 2006

OTTAWA – One Canadian soldier was killed today at approximately 5:30 a.m. Kandahar time as Canadian troops participating in Operation Medusa, 15 km west of Kandahar City, were mistakenly engaged by an aircraft supporting ISAF combat operations.

The name of the deceased soldier will not be released for another 24 hours at the request of the family.

A number of Canadian soldiers suffered non-life threatening wounds during today’s incident - all but six will return to duty. These casualties occurred on the third day of Operation Medusa, a significant combined effort between the Afghan National Security Forces, Canada and our other NATO partners in the International Security Assistance Force.

Operation MEDUSA is a large-scale ISAF stabilization operation aimed at removing armed militants from the Panjwayi and Zhari district region so that displaced villagers can return to their homes and re-establish their livelihoods without living in constant fear of the Taliban.

Regardless of the causes - it's been a tough week for the Canadians, and we'll let Private Graham stand in for all their recent casualties.

0905graham.jpg

0905graham.jpg

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

by John on Sep 05, 2006

September 03, 2006

In light of Mr. Gadahn's request...

...I was moved to this.

Islamofascism...

Interestingly enough, this poster would hang well on the walls of either side in the fight. Perspective matters.

For any visiting Muslims who are offended - Christian and Jewish imagery is abused in this fashion daily in the Muslim world - and in the secular humanist West, as well.

If you are offended, clean up your side of the aisle, and imagery like this will no longer be appropriate, merely historical.

Just sayin'.

by John on Sep 03, 2006
» CDR Salamander links with: Yea; what John says

September 01, 2006

MGS getting to Units.

Stryker Mobile Gun System at Fort Lewis, Washington, being fielded to 4th BDE, 2ID.

FORT LEWIS, Wash. (Army News Service, Aug. 29, 2006) – A long wait is over for Stryker Mobile Gun System (MGS) crews of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

The 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry, received its complement of MGS vehicles last month after more than a year of waiting. They are the first vehicles to be fielded in the Army.

“I think its going to give the infantry a whole new dimension of what they can do. Armor and infantry have kept each other at arm’s length for years and years," said Sgt. 1st Class David Cooper, an MGS platoon sergeant with B Company, 2-23 Inf. "We’ve got some growing pains, but once we get out there and they see what we can do, we’re going to be everybody’s friend.”

Each infantry company is slated to receive three vehicles, though crews don't expect to operate together except on rare occasions.

The vehicles carry crews of three, and are equipped with a 105 mm main gun and a state-of-the-art fire control system. The MGS also has an onboard coaxial machine gun that’s fire controlled.

“You can literally shoot smiley faces with it at 900 meters,” said Cooper. “Even minus the big gun we can give the infantry a lot of support.”

The 105 mm is capable of firing four types of rounds: SABOT, a depleted-uranium armor-piercing round; HEAT, high-explosive anti-tank; HEP, high-explosive plastic; and a canister round. The rounds are loaded using a hydraulic auto-loader in the rear of the vehicle.

The HEP and canister rounds give Stryker units new capabilities, especially in urban areas. The HEP can blow holes in reinforced concrete walls, but unlike the rounds from an Abrams, won’t continue through the target and into surrounding buildings. The canister provides as effective anti-personnel capability.

“The vehicle’s basic role is to support the infantry. It’s not there to take on tanks or go toe-to-toe in the wide-open desert like we did with the Abrams,” said Sgt. 1st Class William Ozmet, an MGS instructor from Fort Knox, Ky. “Its primary function is blowing a hole in the wall or blowing up bunkers.”

Over the past year, the crews have been training with TOW-ITAS Humvees or other Stryker variants. Finally having the vehicles gives the crews a chance to delve into training.

“I can actually start focusing on our training, both on our mission tasks and working with the infantry,” said 1st Lt. Christopher Lilley, the MGS platoon leader in B Co.

The MGS also comes equipped with training software that allows Soldiers to train on various engagements in their own vehicles, instead of going to a simulator somewhere else.

Once the 4th Bde. completes training, instructors from General Dynamics Land Systems will move on to equip and train Soldiers in Hawaii and Pennsylvania. Training for those units may change according to lessons learned here, but the vehicle itself is expected to remain mostly unchanged.

“I’m confident that this will turn out to be a successful piece of equipment for us, the infantry and the Army,” said Lilley.

by John on Sep 01, 2006

August 30, 2006

Transitioning for the Long Haul... with little help from the MSM.

Oh, I know, they aren't supposed to help, though hindering...

Having heard from an old colleague, BG Dana Pittard (we were Captains and Majors together) yesterday in the NYT, why not again here - from the American Forces Press Service? Interestingly... *this* was probably the press conference that resulted in this article... at the NYT (reg req, go see bugmenot.com). Heh. Compare and contrast what bias (for or against) does for what you read. And ask yourself - who actually did a better job of reporting? There will be an essay test tomorrow. Or you could just hash it out in the comments today.

Tuesday, 29 August 2006 Transitioning for the long-haul By Jim Garamone American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON — Coalition training teams with Iraqi military units, police battalions and border guard units are making a tremendous difference in the performance and professionalism of the Iraqi security forces, said the commander of the Iraq Assistance Group on Monday.

Army Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard told the Pentagon press corps in a video teleconference from Iraq that Iraqi forces are well-equipped, but require help in sustainment.

Pittard confirmed that 100 members of an Iraqi battalion had refused to redeploy to Baghdad . The soldiers were part of the 10th Iraqi Army Division, in southern Iraq ’s Maysan province.

Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division participate in a training course to improve close quarter’s marksmanship skills Aug. 16 at FOB Gabe near Baqubah. Department of Defense photo by Army Pfc. Paul J. Harris


Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division participate in a training course to improve close quarter’s marksmanship skills Aug. 16 at FOB Gabe near Baqubah. Department of Defense photo by Army Pfc. Paul J. Harris

“There were some soldiers … that said that they would not deploy as a part of the operation,” Pittard said. “A decision is going to be made whether or not that battalion will actually deploy.”

This is part of the growing pains of the Iraqi security forces, he said. The Iraqi Army now is a regionally recruited force.

“The majority of this particular unit was Shia, and … the leadership of that unit and their soldiers felt like they were needed down there in Maysan in that province,” he said.

The Iraqi government will work on how to deal with the situation, and the Coalition transition teams will support that, the general explained.

Hundreds of Coalition transition teams are operating throughout Iraq . The 11-man units are embedded with their Iraqi units from the battalion through division levels. Advisers also serve with the local Police, the National Police and the border guards. The Coalition Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines comprising these training units work with their Iraqi counterparts to plan and execute operations.

Their efforts extend beyond the kinetic.

From the readiness side, Coalition logistics personnel train up their Iraqi peers on processes and procedures, while maintenance experts work with the Iraqis to ensure their units’ vehicles remain combat-ready.

For now, logistics remains a sore point for the Iraqi forces.

“We are focusing on just basic sustainment: sustainment of fuel, sustainment of ammunition, their medical supplies and their maintenance,” Pittard said. “Those are the key areas that we're focusing on with the Iraqi security forces.”

The general said he sees a long-term job for coalition training teams with the Iraqi forces.

“Our major mission is to help develop and support the Iraqi security forces, and of course to advise them … U.S. forces will be here as long as the Iraqi government wants us here,” he said.

“But I'll tell you … after the majority of U.S. forces leave, we'll still see some level of advisory teams that'll still be here. In fact, I feel like we'll be the last men standing at the end of the U.S. presence here.”


August 25, 2006

An alternative view of the recent mess in Lebanon.

...who am I kidding - current mess.

Amir Taheri, in the WSJ:


By controlling the flow of information from Lebanon throughout the conflict, and help from all those who disagree with U.S. policies for different reasons, Hezbollah may have won the information war in the West. In Lebanon, the Middle East and the broader Muslim space, however, the picture is rather different.

Politically, however, Hezbollah had to declare victory for a simple reason: It had to pretend that the death and desolation it had provoked had been worth it. A claim of victory was Hezbollah's shield against criticism of a strategy that had led Lebanon into war without the knowledge of its government and people. Mr. Nasrallah alluded to this in television appearances, calling on those who criticized him for having triggered the war to shut up because "a great strategic victory" had been won.

The tactic worked for a day or two. However, it did not silence the critics, who have become louder in recent days. The leaders of the March 14 movement, which has a majority in the Lebanese parliament and government, have demanded an investigation into the circumstances that led to the war, a roundabout way of accusing Hezbollah of having provoked the tragedy. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has made it clear that he would not allow Hezbollah to continue as a state within the state. Even Michel Aoun, a maverick Christian leader and tactical ally of Hezbollah, has called for the Shiite militia to disband.

Having lost more than 500 of its fighters, and with almost all of its medium-range missiles destroyed, Hezbollah may find it hard to sustain its claim of victory. "Hezbollah won the propaganda war because many in the West wanted it to win as a means of settling score with the United States," says Egyptian columnist Ali al-Ibrahim. "But the Arabs have become wise enough to know TV victory from real victory."

I wish I shared Mr. al-Ibrahim's certitude. Time will tell. If you're a subscriber, you can get the whole thing here.

by John on Aug 25, 2006

August 24, 2006

Things that make ya go, hmmmm.

An emailer to NRO's The Corner:

I don't think you'll be able to engage NOW in the war against Islamofacism unless you point out that the establishment of the global caliphate will impede their ability to kill their their own children until AFTER the children are born. Even then, I don't think you can convince them that mullahs and imams are worse than W.

As one among us would note: "We have little to nothing to truly fear from the rulers and inhabitants of benighted nations languishing in past glories, unable and unwilling to drag themselves into the 20th Century, much less the 21st. George Bush on the other hand, lives down the street."

Heh.

Certainly encapsulates a good chunk of the argumentation put forward.

Come to think of it, so does this...

by John on Aug 24, 2006

August 22, 2006

Excalibur...

A press release detailing the Army's effort to continually refine (and keep tactically relevant) the artillery inventory. A subject of some discussion around here of late.

Successful Testing of GPS-Guided Artillery Projectile Puts Raytheon-BAE Systems Bofors Excalibur Closer to Fielding (Source: Raytheon Co.; issued Aug. 18; 2006)

TUCSON, Ariz. --- The Raytheon Missile Systems and BAE Systems Bofors' Excalibur team successfully test-fired two global positioning system (GPS)-guided 155 mm artillery projectiles that functioned as intended against simulated tactical targets Aug. 10. The program is a cooperative effort between the United States and Sweden.

These firings represent completion of the "Guided Gunfire B" (GGB) test series that validates system performance of tactical rounds under a variety of conditions.

"Having completed this phase of testing, we are on track for fielding Excalibur to meet the urgent need of our deployed ground forces for a cannon-delivered precision munition," said Army Col. John Tanzi, Training and Doctrine Command System, manager-cannon.

Heh. I knew John Tanzi, back in the day. The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.



Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Aug 22, 2006

Armageddon, Meggido, Apocalypse Now... whatever.

Don't forget today is the 27th of Rajab! I bought a surplus elementary school desk like the ones I was taught to "duck and cover" under... just in case. Train as you'll fight - fight as you train, is my motto! Some people's mileage differed, apparently...

Air raid drills were part of everyday life, especially for us Milbrats in the 50's and 60's. We were taught to

Air raid drills were part of everyday life, especially for us Milbrats in the 50's and 60's. We were taught to "duck and cover" under our desks and were herded into school basements and hallway for periodic air raid drills. Of course, this kept right on going into the 70's - except they were tornado drills at that point.
by John on Aug 22, 2006

August 21, 2006

More News from the Front

BAGHDAD — Efforts this week to quell violence in the capital city are showing signs of progress, but Coalition leaders say the battle is far from over.

“Abating the extremists in the capital will neither be easy nor rapid,” Multi-National Force - Iraq spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said this week of progress in the capital city. “Challenges will ensue, but efforts will march forward block by block.”

U.S. Army soldiers with 7th Brigade, 2nd Division, Iraqi National Police Transition Team and Iraqi National Police officers repair a sandbag barrier at a checkpoint in Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 7, 2006. Department of Defense photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Jonathan F. Doti.


U.S. Army soldiers with 7th Brigade, 2nd Division, Iraqi National Police Transition Team and Iraqi National Police officers repair a sandbag barrier at a checkpoint in Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 7, 2006. Department of Defense photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Jonathan F. Doti.

U.S. and Iraqi forces have been conducting combined missions in Baghdad as part of Operation Together Forward, an Iraqi-led campaign to reduce violence in the capital, while at the same time promoting economic incentives, civic action projects and the control of illegal weapons.

This past week, Iraqi and Coalition forces concentrated on four major Baghdad hot spots – mostly in the western part of the city – in an effort to reduce the number of murders, kidnappings, assassinations and car bombs in those areas. Operations in the al-Doura neighborhood of southern Baghdad continued to build on the improved security established over the past two weeks.

The combined operations on simultaneous objectives in western Baghdad are led by the Soldiers from the 6th Iraqi Army Division and policemen from the 2nd Iraqi National Police Division, supported by Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team and 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

Approximately 6,000 additional Iraqi Security Forces were sent to the MND-B area of operations in support of Phase II of Operation Together Forward, as well as approximately 3,500 Soldiers of 172nd SBCT, and 2,000 Soldiers from the 2nd BCT.

According to the Coalition commander responsible for operations in Baghdad, the concept essentially calls on Coalition and Iraqi forces to cordon off an area and search each street, house by house.

Maj. Gen. James Thurman, commander of Multi-National Division - Baghdad, this week said he is optimistic about what he has seen since operations to quell sectarian violence started.

“Security in Baghdad is the top priority for everyone working in Operation Together Forward,” added Col. Robert Scurlock, commander of the U.S. 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team. “Iraqi security forces and Coalition forces are working side by side every day to increase security in Baghdad and help the Iraqi people return to a more normal domestic life.”

Operations in the capital city have not only been successful in the security arena, but also in terms of developing relationships between the Iraqi people and Iraqi security forces, added Col. Michael Beech, commander of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

Caldwell added that the most significant developments are less easily measured.

“What really matters is the number of businesses that reopened and will remain open, the refurbished stalls … in the marketplace there,” said the general. “The drainage has improved. The rubbish is removed. And of course, like we’d all like to see, the number of children that you can see during their summer break out riding their bikes and playing in the streets.”

Caldwell said operations look beyond short-term security concerns. The mantra is “clear, hold, rebuild.” Iraqi and Coalition forces clear neighborhoods and hold them so terrorists cannot come back, and they invest in rebuilding essential services and stimulating economic growth.

“The military forces, the Iraqi security forces, the Coalition support can help set the stage for peace to occur, but they cannot achieve peace,” he said. “It’s going to take all the other factors. It’s going to take the economics; it’s going to take the governance; and, most importantly, it’s going to take the will of the Iraqi people to make this both work and sustain itself. But they’ve absolutely got the commitment.”

In Ameriya -- a key neighborhood in western Baghdad -- more than 50 percent of the shops in the market were re-opened after Iraqi and Coalition forces joined this week to squelch the violence in that neighborhood, Iraqi Army Brig. Gen. Abdul Jaleel said during a press conference Aug. 16.

Jaleel is the commander of 1st Brigade, 6th Iraq Army Division, the unit that took the lead during a recent sweep of the town with support from the U.S. 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

Iraqi and Coalition forces searched about 6,000 houses and buildings in the Ameriya neighborhood, including the market area.

During the joint press conference, Jaleel and Scurlock said they see reclaiming the market as a way to repair a neighborhood that was torn apart by violence.

“We want to get the stores open and get people back to a normal life,” said Scurlock. “With unity and security, there will be prosperity.”

Although combined Coalition and Iraqi operations here have done much to reduce violence and bring stability to the area, the ultimate solution depends on the Iraqi people’s willingness to reject violence and cooperate with Iraqi security forces, according to Beech.

“The security situation confronting the capital is a complex one, and the solution must be long-term,” he said. “The Iraqi government, Coalition forces and Iraqi security forces are dedicated to establishing peace in Baghdad.”

Along with providing essential services, he said the current security plan makes provisions for long-term stability within this area.

“To ensure the population (that) is living in these neighborhoods knows who's responsible for securing them, we have worked to establish habitual relationships between particular Iraqi security forces, U.S. forces with a particular neighborhood.”

Neighborhoods within Baghdad are being paired with a particular Iraqi Police company and a U.S. military company.

“This is in an effort to establish true community-based policing and security and build trust and confidence in the national police and the people that they protect,” added the colonel.

One indicator that the Iraqi people trust their security forces more is the increase in communication between the people and the Iraqi Police, explained Beech. He said the Iraqi brigade commander in his area has been receiving more and more phone calls from concerned citizens with tips, and imams of the local mosques are talking to him more readily.

As the security plan for Baghdad moves forward, and Iraqi citizens gain trust in their security forces, operations are beginning to see tangible results.

In addition to large munitions cache discoveries, this week Iraqi and Coalition forces thwarted a number of kidnapping attempts, captured several key insurgent leaders and numerous terrorist suspects, and sponsored several civic and humanitarian-assistance projects to help provide for the needs of Baghdad residents.

by John on Aug 21, 2006

News from the front.

We'll let the the others do the bad news. We'll report the other stuff.

IRAQI CITIZENS HELP IA, MND-B SOLDIERS RESCUE 4 KIDNAP VICTIMS, NAB 3 KIDNAPPERS, DISCOVER WEAPONS CACHE

BAGHDAD – Iraqi army soldiers conducted a raid and rescued a kidnap victim after receiving a tip from a concerned Iraqi citizen that led them to a location in Baghdad’s Adhamiyah neighborhood Friday night. The Iraqi citizen lead soldiers from 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, to a house where the victims and a weapons cache were located. Inside the building they seized two rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 20 RPG rounds, nine RPG propellant charges, an AK-47, two sniper rifles and 12 hand grenades.

Two suspected terrorists were detained in connection with the kidnapping.

In a separate event, Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers rescued three kidnap victims after receiving a tip from an Iraqi citizen southeast of Baghdad Friday afternoon.
Soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, were approached by a young man who informed an interpreter there were kidnap victims inside a nearby house.

MND-B Soldiers moved to the house, where they found three victims tied up, blindfolded and lying on the floor with a kidnapper watching over them.

Soldiers entered the house and rescued the victims and detained the kidnapper.

by John on Aug 21, 2006
» Locomotive Breath 1901 links with: What? I can't hear you! pt. 9

August 19, 2006

Denizen Ry's View of Civilian Casualties...

...and some other stuff.

Ry demonstrates why he doesn't blog.... i.e., an endless post. Brevity, thy name is not Gollum. That said, it's a worthy read, I don't agree with all of it, and I will respond later.

I find a serious flaw in the argument put forward in the comments so far (carry over from the threads on this post and this post for those wondering what the farqing hell I'm talking about) in that all the focus is entirely upon the value of innocent dead and the concept that the existence of innocent dead meaning something nefarious and illegal happened.

There is no talk of the necessity of bad things to happen to end a horrible situation. Something that happens in everyday life whether it be divorce where families are torn asunder to lead to a state of greater stability for both kids and adults; or in a chemical reaction where at the point a reaction, the metamorphosis, really takes place is the most destructive time in the whole process. It denies by inference that really terrible but legal actions were taken in fights that the proponents of this position would support, like the attack on Thionville during WW2. This line of thought has become devoid of capital J Justice, bereft of the idea that there are costs for everything (TANSTAAFL) [There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - a Heinlein reference for those who were scratching their heads. -ed] and Justice in particular, and ignores what the rules (largely Geneva, which embodies the ethical and legal philosophy of war) actually say about pursuing goals and the costs of a civilian populace may be submitted to during war.

Instead all we have is talk about dead civilians and how horrible it is, how evil it is that they died. We’re receiving commentary that seems to infer that no matter what the injury was and is it can never justify things like the attack on Qana or the horrific scenes of warfare we’ve seen in Lebanon. Yes, these things are terrible. Civilians who didn’t deserve to die are dead--- some by sheer accident while others by true spite--- but that in and of itself does not change it from jus ad bellum or jus in bello to war crimes and an always illegal act. We’ve lost sight what some of our predecessors, The Great Generation, took as a given: life isn’t fair, bad things happen to good people, and sometimes terrible---but not in themselves essentially evil-- things must be done to secure a better world. The forces of change are always destructive in one sense or another. Change has costs.

We've gone from one flawed paradigm (caring only about winning that existed before Abraham Lincoln came up with what became the Laws of Land Warfare, and interest only in the Rich and Powerful and Large Events) to another terrible paradigm (over stressing populism and Avg. Joe; and making success and failure be about how few civilians are killed regardless of objectives and other real world results---and it happens on both sides of the aisle around here---with a hefty helping of anti-colonialist induced self-hatred tossed into the mix.). By now focusing solely on civilian casualties, by going utterly and irredeemably populist with our prism we’ve lost the ability to see the bigger picture and how Justice is secured in that bigger picture. The bad guy is measured solely in how many civilians killed. He who kills more is the bad guy. By forgetting the bigger picture we’ve said bye-bye to reason and waved at Justice as we blew the popsicle stand.

We’ve moved to a shallow rubric by which we decide good and evil. A rubric that is so shallow that it allows for nothing more than deploring death in time of war as evil and always evil instead of an unfortunate event that should be mourned and treated with dignity. Creating a better peace is not something to be considered. Initial injury is not to be considered. Aims of the war, the necessity of harm to achieve said aims, and questions of jus ad bellum are not to be considered. Just civilian death is the metric. Every discussion will be, and must be, brought back around to innocent dead as nothing else matters. All because we have moved beyond the thinking of our benighted predecessors who only thought about the Mighty and Great Events and have begun to focus on The Ordinary Guy Who Gets Trounced.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Aug 19, 2006

August 18, 2006

Answering the mail, part 3.

Target attack criteria, bad choices in.

I've already had this discussion in the comments of my two previous posts on artillery this week, but it won't go away, so I'll bring it to the front.

Bob Owens of Confederate Yankee (who got me the trip to Mexico to retrieve the Rodgers, may his tribe increase!) sent me this link, wanting to know if, in fact, this was a cluster bomblet.

It isn't, in a narrow technical sense. But before we rush off to crow about inaccuracy in the media, let's take a break. That is an M80 M42 [good catch from an otherwise pointlessly rude commenter - the M80 has a self-destruct mechanism - and one is being retrofitted to the M42/48 series of grenades. -the Armorer] Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munition. While not from a cluster bomb, it *is* from an artillery round. I'm familiar with the round, and it's contents, these being held in Castle stocks in their inert form.

<s>M80</s> M42 submunitions

If the Israelis were shooting DPICM into inhabited areas, they are open to just criticism of their fire orders.

Bad decision on the part of whoever made the call to shoot DPICM. If you are shooting DPICM, you are automatically creating a low-density minefield, due to the dud rate (officially 2-4% depending on the conditions in the target area) of the submunition.

I can see an argument being made by the Israelis that in fact, there is less collateral damage than if you shoot HE at a target in an urban area. Perhaps, depending on construction of the buildings - but HE has a much lower dud rate (nothing is perfect), the effects are over after it hits, and there is no lingering explosive package awaiting discovery by children. And an unexploded HE shell is a lot harder to pick up than a DPICM submunition.

Recording your targets... I don't expect this to happen - but the Israelis should also share their mission fired reports with the Lebanese government, so that EOD can go clear areas targeted with DPICM.

It's just not a good shell for attacking areas that are/will be occupied by non-combatants or OWN TROOPS. The use of dud-producing munitions such as DPICM during Operation Iraqi Freedom in early 2003 caused maneuver problems for the Marines, and caused lingering casualties among Marines and civilians in those areas after operations were ended. This may have been true for Army units as well, I don't have any info on that. Target attack decisions have to be made with cognizance of subsequent operations and events. I know we used to train this with Fire Support Officers back in the day - I assume we still do. I discussed some of that in my post yesterday.

Mind you - if Hezbollah didn't *shoot* from inhabited areas, the Israelis would have had less reason to shoot back into inhabited areas, too.

While I don't support the Israeli choice of ammuntion, I do support their right to shoot back. And find it disingenuous that most of the whining is about what the Israelis shot, and not equally about wherefrom Hezbollah shot.

by John on Aug 18, 2006

August 17, 2006

Answering the mail, part 2.

Owen asks this question (in the discussion to this post below) and I thought I might as well pull the answer up into the light, especially since answering it took a good chunk of normal blogging time!

I also have a technical question for John. You note that the Israeli guns are accurate and the Katyushas not. Like all rockets, they change trajectory somewhat in the air. But since the Israeli counterbattery radar is following their terminal trajectory, doesn't that mean that a fire control computer calculating backwards from it is unlikely to lead you exactly to the launch site?

Also, since the fire control computer calculates ballistic trajectories, surely there will be an error in calculating rocket trajectories, which only go ballistic after the motor dies?

Presumably, just it's tougher to predict where a projectile will land when it's an inaccurate one, wouldn't it also be tougher to track back to the firing point, the more inaccurate and erratic the incoming projectile was?

So wouldn't accurate counterbattery fire against Katyushas be impeded by the inherent inaccuracy and wobbliness of the Katyushas themselves?

Not a criticism, just a technical question.

[Note to self, always beware Owen when he says... "Not a criticism, just a technical question.", journos are *not* trustworthy... remember that reporter from your wrestling days]

A little yes and mostly no, and it also depends on the ROE.

CF radar catches the rocket/projo on the ascending arc, when the angular error is smaller and there is less cumulative error inherent in the trajectory, which of course gets greater the farther along the trajectory you are. You only catch things on the descending arc (least accurate for backplot to origin) if you are doing impact prediction. As for impact prediction of rockets - by the time they are on a descending trajectory, they are ballistic, and the impact prediction is easy. The problem with using your radars for that purpose is that unlike tracking your *own* rounds, where you know when and from where they're going to be fired, with the rockets you don't know that. With the generally random (to the outside observer) launch site and time, there is a very limited window to catch the rocket, do the impact predict on the descending trajectory -when you have very little time left - and get a warning out.

It's not at all like a SCUD, where you catch them on ascending trajectory, sound the alarm getting people in the military environment moving to shelters - civilians who don't have local, almost in-house shelters are a different story - and can then refine your plot as the missile falls, and thus have a comparatively lot more time.

Accuracy is also enhanced by catching multiple launches from the same location, such as ripple fire, and by multiple radars observing the launch, but I would guesstimate a 50 meter CEP to be an outside ballpark number.

After that, it's ROE. In conventional combat, I'd fire battery volleys on a radar target like that.

In this environment, *if* I had a UAV in the air and close, or an armed aircraft, I'd vector them to try to get eyes on the target to confirm - but since these guys shoot and scoot, that's a very tight window.

War is an ugly business at this point, Owen.

Unless my maps showed a school/church/hospital/culturally sensitive area, and those rockets were headed to my civilian areas, if the attack guidance matrix/ROE allowed it, I would shoot back. If they are hitting my military areas with enough regularity and impact, I would shoot back.

If it was near those sensitive sites, I would be keeping a running log and doing some pattern analysis - and if that turned into a pattern, i.e., shooting from sensitive sites, I would then start orienting assets like SOF, UAVs, etc, to observe those sites and set them up for guided weapons, or, try to occupy the areas.

If I'm taking real casualties from launches from those areas, and I couldn't get assets to get eyes on, I would probably come down on shooting back with single/two gun volleys, and I would have all the documentation I would need to drop on your desk and say "tough noogies, sorry about that, but they're the ones who aren't playing by the Convention - and I am. And do please condemn their violations of the Conventions if you are going to yell at me about them."

And before you launch into a tirade... remember, we're talking about me, in my job as a fire direction officer, defending my targeting and ROE decisions. At that level, the overall question of the war itself doesn't enter into it, so don't go down *that* rathole. 8^)


by John on Aug 17, 2006

August 16, 2006

Heh. It's a gloomy day at Castle Argghhh!

Being depressed of late with the state of the world in general and politics in particular, and having an especially depressing email exchange with Owen yesterday - this bit from National Review was actually rather bracing.

Today you wrote:

"It's hard to be optimistic at all about Iraq..."

Optimism is for people who believe in progress — in other words, not conservatives. The world sucks, permanently, but let us do our best to bend its suckiness to our advantage, as that is the most we can hope for. I think we have done that in Iraq, with greater and lesser success, but done it we have.

Now, let us count the ways we prefer post-invasion Iraq to pre-invasion Iraq.

1) Saddam, not so much a dictator anymore.

2) Uday and Qusay dead — sad to say and not very Christian of me, but sometimes the world is better when really bad guys get iced.

3) Speaking of bad guys, I like that they seem to be attracted to Iraq as a place to come and visit violence on we Americans. We have fine American fighting men and women in Iraq who can shoot them in the face. This is, on balance, preferable to them coming to Hoboken to blow up shopping malls and then lawyering up.

Please don't contribute to the negativism. Courage. Life sucks, but we're Americans, and that's still as good as it gets.

Indeed. As the troops in the Sandbox observe: "Sometimes, you just have to embrace the suck."

Which inspires me to post this picture... again...

Followed with the Blogfather's observations -

Whatever the merits of the charge that Iraq is a "distraction" from the war on terror, the reality is that arguments about Bush are a larger distraction from the war on terror. For much of the past five years, Democrats not in the Joe Lieberman wing of the party — which is to say the Democratic Party, minus one — have repeatedly pointed to Osama bin Laden's ability to elude capture (as opposed to, say, his inability to once again murder thousands on American soil) as proof that Bush's anti-terror efforts have been a failure. It would surely be nice to see bin Laden's head on a pike, but this is childishly partisan.

When U.S. forces killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, bin Laden's "prince" in Iraq, Democrats presented Zarqawi's demise as good but trivial news. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla. — who might (shudder) take over the House Intelligence Committee should the GOP lose the Congress — explained, "It won't stop the insurgency. I have found if you liken it to the drug lords, for example, as soon as you imprison one, kill one, another takes his place."

Why shouldn't this same logic apply to bin Laden and the global Islamic insurgency? Does anyone believe that this polyglot army of jihadist murderers will disband and become TV repairmen the moment bin Laden is dead? This is as naive as believing that U.S. withdrawal from Iraq wouldn't be scored as another jihadist victory. Not only have Hezbollah, Hamas and the rest of the League of Extraordinary Murderers never taken marching orders from bin Laden, but like all jihadist groups they always view such withdrawals as an invitation to even more brazen terrorism.

Indeed. I think I'll go polish a Polish rifle.

by John on Aug 16, 2006
» CDR Salamander links with: Embrace the suck

August 15, 2006

More news from Iraq.

It's not all bad.

BAGHDAD — Iraqi forces took control of another area of Baghdad on Monday after the latest in a series of transfer of authority ceremonies near the capital.

Army Col. Claude Ebel, commander of the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division said responsibility for Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah South, a base of operations for security forces south of the capital, was transferred to the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, dubbed the Desert Lion Brigade. The Iraqi unit will have full responsibility for the Baghdad areas of Mahmudiyah and Rutifiyah, Ebel said.

The ceremony, which included a demonstration of Iraqi military capability and martial prowess, comes as joint Coalition and Iraqi operations continue to rid the capital of death squads and insurgent violence.

“They’re a superb unit. They’re the most developed unit since we first arrived,” Ebel said of the Iraqi brigade.

“What really makes (the brigade) special is their soldiers. These are the sons of average Iraqi citizens who choose to fight for all of Iraq.”


Soldiers of the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, aka the Desert Lion Brigade, march in a pass in review ceremony at Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah South Monday. The unit is now in control of battlespace in south Baghdad.

Ebel said the brigade has taken initiative by bringing supplies to schools and clinics without Coalition prodding. He also said the brigade has been recognized for their good behavior and humane treatment of detainees.

“That’s a difficult task when you recognize that many of these individuals (detainees) actually tried to kill them,” the colonel said.

Army Lt. Col. Eric Conrad, the military transition team chief advising the Iraqi brigade, said Coalition troops and

members of the brigade have been conducting operations together for some time.

“We’ve learned their culture and become brothers in arms. Once they get the resources and the confidence, they can do anything. Back in the United States we take a year to establish a new brigade. These guys are doing the same thing under combat conditions. It’s truly remarkable what they have been able to accomplish,” Conrad said.

Conrad gives a lion’s share of credit for the Iraqi unit’s success to Iraqi Army Col. Ali Jassim Mohammed Hassen Al-Ferajee, commander of the Desert Lion Brigade.

“These guys aren’t just sitting on (traffic control points). They’re also going out and doing offensive combat operations,” Conrad said.

Conrad said the Iraqi soldiers are brave men who are willing to shed blood for their country.

The Iraqi brigade was established in early 2005 by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. It was the final brigade to be established in the 6th Iraqi Army Division. Monday’s transfer of authority is the latest in a series of handovers as Iraqi security forces continue to assume more responsibility for their own national and local security.

The mixed Sunni and Shia’ area of Baghdad around Mahmudiyah has been the source of much insurgent activity and sectarian violence plaguing the capital in recent weeks and is located in the area often called "The Triangle of Death" or "The Sunni Triangle."

by John on Aug 15, 2006

Really. I have *such* confidence.

State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack Says Middle East Cease Fire Will "Strengthen Democracy In Lebanon." "The U.N.-declared cease-fire in Lebanon, if fully implemented[emphasis mine], would be a strategic setback for Iran and Syria because it would strengthen democracy in Lebanon and stabilize the border with Israel, the State Department said Monday. 'You will not have Hezbollah roaming freely in the south of Lebanon,' spokesman Sean McCormack said. 'Iran and Syria will not have had the ability to rearm Hezbollah.'"

(Barry Schweid, "U.S. Touts Mideast Cease-Fire Prospects," The Associated Press, 8/14/06)

If the peacekeepers are simply a larger version of the toothless, feckless UNIFIL troops already in position... this is just pi$$ing up a rope, and our hands are getting wet... I've seen nothing in the administration of the UN under Mr. Annan to suggest this force will have any better organization, teeth, ROE and success than previous efforts in the region or further south. This situation isn't analogous to the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai - where Egypt and Israel have been generally behaving themselves since 1973.

C'mon, Mr. Annan et cie - surprise me.

by John on Aug 15, 2006
» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Cease-Fire Sends Lebanese Streaming Home

August 11, 2006

The spiral continues...

Olmert orders expansion of ground offensive Email this Story

Aug 11, 11:38 AM (ET)


JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered the army to expand its ground offensive into Lebanon on Friday, asserting there was a lack of progress in U.N. talks on a truce, political sources said.

"We said two days ago that we would stop the fire, either militarily or diplomatically," an Israeli political source said. "We see that the ceasefire deal in the U.N. is not making the required progress, and therefore we have authorized the military action."

So, izzis 1914, 1939, or just 1973?

by John on Aug 11, 2006
» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Israel Accepts Cease-Fire Deal

The antiwar Left wants to wield American power...

From Andy McCarthy on NRO today:

The jihadists want to destroy it … and us. All of us.

The antiwar Left has a conveniently flexible moral compass. Consequently, the Clinton era Echelon program was fine, but Bush’s NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program is an impeachable offense.

Mishandling classified information by a Clinton CIA director was worthy of a pardon, and destroying classified information (and lying to investigators about it) by a former Clinton national-security adviser was worthy of a pass, but leaking the unremarkable fact that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA is the crime of the century.

Bombing Kosovo without U.N. approval was a moral imperative; invading Iraq after over a dozen U.N. resolutions is a violation of international law.

Renditions conducted between 1994 and 2000 were just good national-security sense; renditions conducted between 2001 and 2006 are war crimes.

Indicting Osama bin Laden in 1998 and then doing nothing to capture him while he bombed two American embassies and an American naval destroyer, killing hundreds, was aggressive yet intelligently modulated counterterrorism; allowing Osama bin Laden to evade capture in Tora Bora while killing and capturing hundreds of his operatives and decimating his hierarchy is irresponsibly incompetent.

Bueller? Bueller? Anyone care to argue the point?

Read the whole thing here.

From Michael Ledeen: Robert Tracinski's "5 Minutes to Midnight."

by John on Aug 11, 2006

CAIR doesn't CAIR, con't.

CAIR is annoyed about the term "Islamo-fascist"

U.S. MUSLIMS CONCERNED ABOUT BUSH'S USE OF 'ISLAMIC FASCISTS' - TOP CAIR: 'Today you equated the religion of peace with the ugliness of fascism'

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/10/06) - A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today expressed concern over President Bush's use of the term "Islamic fascists" in a news conference about the arrest of 21 suspects in a plot to bomb airliners flying between Britain and the United States.

SEE: Religious Group Bristles at Bush Term 'Islamic Fascists' (Reuters)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14290351/

In a letter to President Bush, Parvez Ahmed, board chairman of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wrote in part:

"American Muslims have consistently condemned all acts of terrorism, whether carried out by individuals, groups or states. We repudiate anyone who plans or carries out a terrorist act. The American Muslim community remains dedicated to the protection of our nation's security. . .

"Unfortunately, your statement this morning that America 'is at war with Islamic fascists' contributes to a rising level of hostility to Islam and the American-Muslim community. Just today, Gallup released a poll indicating that four out of ten Americans feel 'prejudice' toward Muslims.

SEE: Anti-Muslim Sentiments Fairly Commonplace
http://poll.gallup.com/content/?ci=24073

"You have on many occasions said Islam is a 'religion of peace.' Today you equated the religion of peace with the ugliness of fascism.

"The use of ill-defined hot button terms such as 'Islamic fascists,' 'militant jihadism,' 'Islamic radicalism,' or 'totalitarian Islamic empire,' harms our nation's image and interests worldwide, particularly in the Islamic world. It feeds the perception that the war on terror is actually a war on Islam. . .

"American Muslims stand ready to serve as a bridge of understanding to the Islamic world. We can best fulfill that role by offering advice that can help prevent misperceptions and misunderstandings between different nations and cultures."

CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Hmmmm.

"You have on many occasions said Islam is a 'religion of peace.' Today you equated the religion of peace with the ugliness of fascism.

"The use of ill-defined hot button terms such as 'Islamic fascists,' 'militant jihadism,' 'Islamic radicalism,' or 'totalitarian Islamic empire,' harms our nation's image and interests worldwide, particularly in the Islamic world. It feeds the perception that the war on terror is actually a war on Islam. . .

Perhaps, just perhaps, if the individuals involved in Islamofacistic terrorism didn't wrap themselves in their Korans the term wouldn't have evolved the way it did.

Just sayin'.

by John on Aug 11, 2006

August 10, 2006

CAIR... doesn't get it, or they just don't CAIR...

(WASHINGTON D.C., 8/10/06) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today issued the following statement at a news conference in Washington, D.C., in response to the arrests of 21 individuals for allegedly plotting to use liquid explosives on passenger flights traveling from the United Kingdom to the United States. (NOTE: CAIR's news conference was taped for later broadcast by C-SPAN.)

In its statement, CAIR said:

"American Muslims have consistently condemned all acts of terrorism, whether carried out by individuals, groups or states. We repudiate anyone or any group that plans or carries out a terrorist act. We welcome early actions by law enforcement authorities against credible threats to the safety of the traveling public.

"The American Muslim community has always been dedicated to the protection of our national security. It is also important that our fellow Americans understand that Muslims are law-abiding citizens who should not be targeted or singled out because of their faith or national origin.

"We have been contacted by federal law enforcement authorities who are taking steps to ensure that there is no backlash against the American Muslim community. We commend them for their pro-active efforts. We ask local Muslim communities to step up security measures at mosques and other Islamic institutions. We also urge local law enforcement agencies to coordinate with Muslim leaders to deter hate crimes.

"It is important, based on past counterterrorism cases that did not lead to terror convictions, that we withhold judgment until all the facts of this case come to light. We also ask public officials and commentators to avoid using stereotypical and ill-defined terminology when referring to this and similar cases.

"As the largest American Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, it is our religious and civic duty to reach out to all Americans to reaffirm Islam's teachings of peace, justice and tolerance for all."

CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 32 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

What is missing from that statement?

We do have this:

“We ask local Muslim communities to step up security measures at mosques and other Islamic institutions. We also urge local law enforcement agencies to coordinate with Muslim leaders to deter hate crimes.”

We do NOT have this:

“We ask local Muslim communities to cooperate with local, state, and federal authorities to root out the cancer in our midst that causes us to be put at risk of being lumped into dangerous stereotypes and sets back our efforts to integrate ourselves into the American dream…”

Nope, don’t see *that* anywhere…

by John on Aug 10, 2006

Wanna see some combat?

Real combat? Complete with calls of "Medic!" and the f-word?

Okay.

Watch the Canadian Red Devils in action in Afghanistan.


"Right on boys! They're definitely going to wonder who the Canadians are from here on out, that's for sure."

Get some, fellas!

by John on Aug 10, 2006

The current kerfuffle over carry-on bags and the plot the Brits uncovered.

Not having anything to add to the current barrage of news on the subject, Castle Argghhh! provides this transcript of Secretary Chertoff's press conference announcing new security measures taking effect in the immediate and near future.

Washington, DC, August 10, 2006. (Castle News Service) In a hastily-called press conference conducted on a New Orleans levee today, Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff announced today strict new measures to prevent suicide bombing of airliners. Rather than just keep incrementally banning things that can be brought aboard as carry-on, *all* baggage must be checked, and, instead of flying with the passengers, will proceed to the passengers destinations on chartered cargo aircraft. Secretary Chertoff noted that "Given the record of FedEx, UPS, Airborne Express, etc, bags will have a greater chance of reaching their proper destination on time than they, or passengers, do currently." In addition, he noted, "...to meet the increased pilot demand, these aircraft will be crewed by condemned prisoners, so who cares if they blow up?" The ACLU immediately planned to file an injunction, saying that allowing prisoners to live under the threat of uncertain death was cruel and unusual punishment and they should just remain locked up 23 hours a day, which was safer and better for them.

Continuing his discussion of new security measures, Secretary Chertoff announced that all airlines had one month to prepare their aircraft and aircrews for conversion to the "Naked Air" standard, and was giving the airlines a month to get some weight loss programs instituted to slim down the crews.

Secretary Chertoff said that the Constitution and memories of his Aunts and "Big Bertha" from high school drove the decision that airline passengers, vice crew, could refuse to fly naked[NSFW notice]. However, those passengers refusing to do so would fly in special, limited seating, called "Hannibal Class."

Secretary Chertoff concluded with this comment and recommendation. "From now on, the only thing travelers will be allowed to board an aircraft with will be... their towel."

The shade of Douglas Adams contributed to this report.

Update: Cassandra has more...

Scrappleface notes a UK panel asking... "Why do they hate Airplanes?" Navin R. Johnson, call your office...

by John on Aug 10, 2006
» She Who Will Be Obeyed! links with: Damn

August 08, 2006

Another Iraqi Division takes control

Things are still plugging along.

From CENTCOM (Sorry, Owen, no Pulitzer-level writing here, either).

JOINT STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR KHALILZAD & GEN. CASEY ON 4TH IAD HANDOVER Today, in another sign of progress toward a stable and secure Iraq, the Fourth Iraqi Army Division Headquarters officially assumed the lead in its area of responsibility from the 101st Airborne Division. This achievement represents the Division halfway mark of our joint goal of putting all Iraqi Security Forces in the lead in coordinating, planning and conducting security operations in Iraq. We congratulate the Iraqi people and the Government on Iraq on this important milestone.

Five of the Iraqi Army’s ten division headquarters, 25 brigade headquarters, and 85 battalions in the Iraqi Army now have the lead for security responsibilities in their areas. Additionally, to date 48 of 110 Coalition Forward Operating Bases have been transferred to Iraqi control.

These turnovers from Coalition forces to Iraqi security forces reflect the increased operational capacity of the Iraqi security forces. Although these forces are increasingly capable of planning and conducting security operations independent of the Multinational Forces, we pledge our continued support to them and the Iraqi Government as they seek to provide peace and prosperity for all of Iraq’s peoples.

May God bless the people of Iraq.

The rest of the story.

BAGHDAD — As further evidence to the continued progress of Iraqi security forces, the 4th Iraqi Army Division will officially assume the lead for security operations Aug. 8 in most of Salah ad Din and Kirkuk provinces, previously controlled by units from the 101st Airborne Division.

The handover of forward operating bases and security lead demonstrates the progress being made by the Iraqi security forces, reiterates successes, and highlights the progress of the legitimate Iraqi government as a positive move toward full national sovereignty and self-reliance, said a Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman.

This transfer occurs as the Iraqi security force takes charge and shows it is capable of coordinating, planning and conducting security operations with Coalition forces acting in a support role. According to a 101st Airborne Division spokesman, the 4th IAD has demonstrated it is fully capable of assuming security responsibility by taking over security operations in provinces covering major cities of Tikrit, Kirkuk and Samarra.

The 4th IAD is the fifth of 10 Iraqi army divisions to assume security responsibility, which represents the halfway mark of Iraqi divisions assuming responsibility for providing security in their country. In total, Iraqi security forces are in the lead with five Iraqi army divisions, 22 army brigades, and 76 army battalions, and the Iraqi National Police have two battalions, for a total of about 275,000 trained forces.

According to Coalition officials, 48 of 110 Forward Operating Bases have been transferred to the Iraqis; the result of the increased capacity of the Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi government.

“This (handover) is a brave quest and significant milestone toward garnering security self-reliance for the Iraqi citizens, the Iraqi security force, and the government of Iraq,” said Coalition officials.

According to a fact sheet released by the 101st Airborne Division, “more than 275,000 trained and equipped Iraqi security personnel work every day to protect Iraq and its people. These numbers continue to grow as more troops are scheduled to assume independent control in the coming months.”

As evidence to the 4th IAD’s capabilities, about 3,000 Iraqi security forces, with support from Coalition troops, recently detained 154 terror suspects and seized a large weapon cache during Operation Gaugamela west of Kirkuk.

The 10-day operation was conducted to search for suspected al-Qaida terrorists in and around the cities of Hawaija and Riyadh.

Following a request from local Arab leaders to rid the area outside Kirkuk of terrorists, the 10-day operation - covering 25 cities and villages spanning more than 900 square miles - began with a series of smaller Iraqi Army operations targeting 20 objectives in the Rashad area, southwest of Kirkuk.

Using their own intelligence information, Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division planned and conducted the missions, detaining nine terror suspects and seizing a cache of weapons.

"This was the first time the Iraqis in our area have self-sustained during an operation," said Capt. Krista Jekielek, a U.S. logistics representative to the Iraqi security forces. "It was a significant validation, showing they are capable of moving the necessary personnel and supplies required to perform their mission."

Capt. Lyn Graves, an Army spokesman who patrolled Hawija with the Iraqi security forces during the operation, said the Iraqi forces were extremely proficient and professional.

In addition to taking terrorists and weapons off the street, the discipline of the soldiers involved in the mission truly stands out, according to Maj. Greg Bishop, a 1st BCT spokesman.

“The Iraqi and Coalition Soldiers went into two of the most contentious cities in the Kirkuk province, searched hundreds of homes and buildings and detained more than 150 suspects with no violence whatsoever,” said Bishop. “That’s an incredible success and a true measure of the professionalism of everyone involved in the operations.”

by John on Aug 08, 2006

August 04, 2006

More news from the Front.

ShowLetter.jpg

An Iraqi Soldier raises the national flag during a pass and review ceremony held yesterday at Camp Taji. The Iraqi Army's 6th Motor Transport Regiment conducted a transfer of authority ceremony that released control by the 4th Sustainment Brigade.
Story and photo by Sgt. Trevor Snyder 124th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi Army 6th Motor Transport Regiment took control of its own operations in a ceremony July 3 at Camp Taji, a sprawling joint Iraqi-Coalition facility just a few miles north of Baghdad.

The regiment has been working closely with the 4th Sustainment Brigade since October 2005. The transfer of authority is another milestone in Iraqi progress towards providing its own security. The 6th Motor Transport Regiment’s mission is to transport Iraqi Armed Forces members and cargo throughout Iraq as directed by the Ministry of Defense.

“It’s a completely Iraqi show,” said Lt. Col. William Schiek, commander of the 4th Brigade Support Battalion. “It’s been a real pleasure working with them because not only do we share ideas with them, they are sharing ideas with us.”

“Who is better at working in the local area than the folks that grew up in this area,” Schiek said.

The 6th Motor Transport Regiment consists of seven companies including a headquarters company, four light transportation companies, a security company and a support company. Their equipment consists of more than 100 trucks.

Recent areas of operations have included Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk, Fallujah and Ramadi.

“We’ve built some friendships here,” responded Maj. Roger Glenn, a force protection officer who works with the 6th Motorized Truck Regiment. “(The Coalition’s) role has really switched from being warfighters with them when we first arrived here. Now they are conducting all of that mission on their own.”

“It’s nice to see them receive some credit and recognition.”


by John on Aug 04, 2006

August 03, 2006

Civil War in Iraq.

Frankly, it took one for us to mostly settle our internal inconsistencies. And another hundred years after that to get key things started by the war finished... and we still have reverberations. Perhaps the Iraqis have to do that as well. To expect it to all be better in a few years, given their history, is to ignore the western experience, whether in Europe or North and South America. I suspect it's going to be just as hard for the Iraqis to settle theirs - for many of the same reasons it was hard for us. Just as soon we didn't find ourselves in the middle of it, however.

"Shiite and Sunni are going to have to love their children more than they hate each other," Pace said, before the tensions can be overcome. "The weight of that must be on the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government."

You can read the rest of the Generals thoughts as reported by the AP, here.

by John on Aug 03, 2006

August 02, 2006

Lisa Vincent...

...the widow of murdered-by-Islamofacist-thugs journalist Stephen Vincent, has her own take on how the war against Islamofacism should progress:

Same War [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

Lisa Vincent sends the IDF pizza

To honor and remember my beloved husband Steven Vincent, the freelance journalist kidnapped and murdered by Islamic fundamentalist thugs in Basra, Iraq on August 2, 2005, I send these pizzas as a tribute to your bravery, courage and dedication to the fight to rid the world of such monsters.

Steven adored pizza, and would have completely approved of the IDF response to Hezbollah's evil, so I thought this was the perfect tribute to both him and you. God bless you all, and may He keep you safe...



From Kesher Talk, via The Corner.

by John on Aug 02, 2006
» Media Lies links with: Today is the anniversary....

August 01, 2006

Huh. The world didn't stop while I was gone.

Worse, it doesn't seem to have noticed I wasn't there.

Maj. Jennifer Bailey, from the 101st Abv Div G4 shop, where she works as the Division-Level Aviation Maintenance Officer is seen here on a Civil Action Missino organizes by the 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion.  Major Bailey reads a children’s book to Iraqi girls during a humanitarian mission near Tikrit, Iraq. Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Klika.

Maj. Jennifer Bailey, from the 101st Abv Div G4 shop, where she works as the Division-Level Aviation Maintenance Officer is seen here on a Civil Action Missino organizes by the 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion. Major Bailey reads a children’s book to Iraqi girls during a humanitarian mission near Tikrit, Iraq. Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Klika.

In more News You Won't See in the MSM:

COALITION FORCES CAPTURE FIVE TERRORISTS

COALITION FORCES SUCCESSFULLY TARGET TERRORIST IN BAGHDAD

COALITION FORCES CAPTURE WANTED TERRORIST LEADER

COALITION FORCES DETAIN TWO SENIOR AL-QAIDA IN IRAQ LEADERS

Just click the titles to go to the stories. I've got to get back on my head - but I thought you'd like the pic!

It's swimming against the bad news the MSM does report - but since they report that and very little of the rest... I'll take that niche.

by John on Aug 01, 2006

July 28, 2006

News from the various fronts in the GWOT.

A group of Marines from 1st Battalion, 25 Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, move an insurgent rocket found while conducting Operation Spotlight. The operation took place in the Fuhaylat, south of Fallujah, Iraq where three hostages were rescued and several weapons caches were located and destroyed by Marines.

A group of Marines from 1st Battalion, 25 Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, move an insurgent rocket found while conducting Operation Spotlight. The operation took place in the Fuhaylat, south of Fallujah, Iraq where three hostages were rescued and several weapons caches were located and destroyed by Marines.

The same kind of rockets raining on Israel, I would note, among other types, I believe this is the most common.

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – Marines from Regimental Combat Team 5’s, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, and soldiers from 2nd and 4th Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, rescued three Iraqi hostages in an intelligence-driven operation July 23.

The three were personal assistants and bodyguards to Dr. Rafa Hayid Chiad Al-Isaw, an Iraqi government official in Baghdad.

“We are extremely pleased we were able to recover these three Iraqi citizens,” said Col. Larry D. Nicholson, commanding officer for RCT-5. “The safety of Iraqi citizens to move freely about their own country without fear is a priority for U.S and Iraqi forces and we will continue to assist the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police in ensuring their citizens have a future that is free of terrorism.”

The three were held captive by al-Qaeda insurgents in a spiderhole complex for 27 days. The hostages were beaten with electrical cords, bitten and threatened with their lives at gunpoint by their captors. They were treated by Coalition Forces medical personnel.

The three were taken hostage by al-Qaeda insurgents west of Zaidon, a rural area south of Fallujah. They were rescued near Fuhaylat, southwest of Fallujah.

Also recovered nearby was a significant weapons cache, including a fully-assembled suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. Marines also recovered IEDs and IED-making material, mortar tubes and round, artillery rounds, machine guns, bulk explosives, anti-tank mines, rocket-propelled grenades and launchers, AK-47 assault rifles, small-arms ammunition and video cameras.

Regimental Combat Team 5, partnered with Iraqi Security Force units, is currently conducting counter-insurgency and security operations in the greater Fallujah area.

Meanwhile, over in Afghanistan...

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – A Coalition patrol killed seven extremists on July 25 after they attacked Coalition forces in the Garmser District of Helmand Province.

There were no Coalition casualties in the fight. The Coalition unit received small arms, rocket-propelled grenade, machine gun and sniper fire from a group of extremists. The Coalition force returned fire, killing five insurgents

Later in the same area, insurgents fired small arms at an Afghan National Army mortar team, with a Coalition embedded tactical training team attached. The combined unit responded with machine gun fire and killed the remaining two insurgents.

“If enemy extremists fire upon Coalition forces, we will respond with deadly accuracy,” said Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, Combined Joint Task Force -76 spokesman. “If they attack Afghan civilians, we will respond just as forcefully. We remain committed to engaging any threats to the peaceful future of the Afghan people.”

Afghan National Security forces continue to maintain a strong presence in the area of Garmser and provide security that will enable reconstruction and humanitarian aid projects to be delivered that will improve the lives of the Afghan people.

I may be in Mexico, sneaking a destroyer out from under the other groups who would like to have her, but I'm not completely isolated... and I get to watch german movies with spanish subtitles. What's not to like?

by John on Jul 28, 2006

July 25, 2006

The War of the Tribes...

...1938 edition.

The War of the Tribes [John Derbyshire]

Thought for the day (after reading JPod's fine bellwether column in this morning's newspaper.

"You cannot be objective about an aerial torpedo. And the horror we feel of these things has led to this conclusion: if someone drops a bomb on your mother, go and drop two bombs on his mother. The only apparent alternatives are to smash dwelling houses to powder, blow out human entrails and burn holes in children with thermite, or to be enslaved by people who are more ready to do these things than you are yourself; as yet no one has suggested a practicable way out."

—George Orwell, reviewing Arthur Koestler's Spanish Testament for the magazine Time and Tide, Feb. 5, 1938.

Note the date. WW2 hadn't even officially started.

Of course, then, there, the target was an identifiable nation-state and its allies.

The problem being faced here is what would France and Britain have done had, say, the Nazis *lost* the 1933 elections, revived the Freikorps, and gone reiving, in cahoots with, oh, Mussolini's Blackshirts?

That is the dilemma we're facing now - Weimar with the Brownshirts a state-within-a-state. Yet, not a state so easily targetable in itself, without trampling upon others.

Will we learn the lesson? Sadly, there's nothing in the history of the region or the players (in and out of the region) to suggest so.

Because *before* the event, it's never so clear as *after* the event, when historians have sifted through the rubble and made it all seem so clear.

As John Podhoretz notes:

July 25, 2006 -- WHAT if liberal democracies have now evolved to a point where they can no longer wage war effectively because they have achieved a level of humanitarian concern for others that dwarfs any really cold-eyed pursuit of their own national interests? What if the universalist idea of liberal democracy - the idea that all people are created equal - has sunk in so deeply that we no longer assign special value to the lives and interests of our own people as opposed to those in other countries?

What if this triumph of universalism is demonstrated by the Left's insistence that American and Israeli military actions marked by an extraordinary concern for preventing civilian casualties are in fact unacceptably brutal? And is also apparent in the Right's claim that a war against a country has nothing to do with the people but only with that country's leaders?

Can any war be won when this is the nature of the discussion in the countries fighting the war? Can any war be won when one of the combatants voluntarily limits itself in this manner?

Read the rest here.

Alan? Trias? Jack? What's the sane liberal response?

by John on Jul 25, 2006

July 21, 2006

TWO IRAQI FORCE RAIDS IN BAGHDAD NET FOUR INSURGENTS

From CENTCOM PAO.

BALAD – Iraqi security forces conducted two separate operations in Baghdad on July 20, capturing four insurgents who may be involved in ‘extra judicial killing,’ or EJK cells.

The first operation by Iraqi security forces, a raid on back-to-back objectives in southwest Baghdad, netted three primary targets. The first individual was a key insurgent leader believed to plan and coordinate insurgent operations in Baghdad. The second is allegedly involved in financing operations and supplying weapons to insurgents. And the third is believed to be involved in kidnapping Iraqi citizens, Iraqi police and Iraqi soldiers for ransom to finance insurgent activities. He is also allegedly involved in murdering kidnapping victims and participating in attacks against coalition forces.

Iraqi forces also seized three AK-47 assault rifles and three nine millimeter pistols.

During a second raid in southern Baghdad, Iraqi Army forces captured an individual known to deal improvised explosive devices, or IEDs and small arms to insurgent groups.

Coalition force advisers were on hand during both operations, and both occurred without incident.

No Iraqi or coalition forces were injured during the operation.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT MULTINATIONAL CORPS PUBLIC AFFAIRS AT MNCI-PAO-VictoryMainJOC@iraq.centcom.mil.


by John on Jul 21, 2006

Israel vs Hezbollah.

Compare and contrast.

The Israelis are dropping leaflets encouraging residents of rocket storage areas (read: Legal Targets) to leave the area - a tactic that has been working. Yes, homes are being destroyed - homes in and about where Hezbollah has stored weapons in contravention of the rules everybody expects Israel to follow, but, well, it's okay for Hezbollah to store their stuff where ever they want.

Hezbollah's response is to attempt to force people to stay in the area. Hezbollah *loves* those collateral civilian deaths. *LOVES* them.

As a part of their military response, does Hezbollah launch rockets at Israeli troop and materiel targets that are concentrated in range?

No. They launch at cities.

But the MSM and the Usual Suspects in Euroland are focused on Israeli behavior (all in all, a behavior consistent with international convention) and seemingly dismiss Hezbollah's behavior.

One could almost stomach that if it was couched in terms of "You (the Israelis) are adults, Hezbollah are children, and we're going to have to deal with the adults..." Except they demand we treat Hezbollah as adults, but don't extend any accountability for adult behavior.

Here's a PowerPoint Show making the rounds of Hezbollah rocket attacks on Haifa. No, I'm not going to put up any balancing pics of damage in Lebanon. Go visit any MSM outlet and you can find all you need.

Right click here and "Save As" please, for the PPS from Lenny.

by John on Jul 21, 2006
» Flopping Aces links with: The Latest From Israel

July 20, 2006

Operation Gaugamela

From CENTCOM:

IRAQI ARMY, MND-N SOLDIER LAUNCH OPERATION GAUGAMELA

Release Date: 7/20/2006

Release Number: 06-07-02P

Description: KIRKUK, Iraq (July 20, 2006) – Thursday morning, Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division and Bastogne Soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division simultaneously surrounded and entered the cities of Hawija and Riyadh, just west of Kirkuk, searching for suspected al-Qaeda terrorists as combined Operation Gaugamela (gaw'guh-MEE-luh), gets underway.

The ongoing operation, requested by local Sunni Arab leaders, follows a series of terror attacks in the area, and comes as there are reports indicating the presence of al-Qaeda terror cells in the area. In the past five weeks, 31 Iraqi soldiers have been killed in terrorist attacks in the region and just three days ago six policemen were killed in Hawija.

In Hawija, Bastogne Soldiers and Iraqi Security Forces surrounded the city, blocking off escape routes, as another combined force air assaulted into the market in the heart of the city. The units are cordoning off the area and searching for terrorist forces. Meanwhile, Iraqi Security and Coalition Forces surrounded the village of Riyadh, approximately 10 miles away, and are also searching that city.

Operation Gaugamela is named for the battle in which Alexander drove the Persian army from the city of Gaugamela.


They understate it a tad.

Gaugamela:

Alexander:
7,000 cavalry
40,000 infantry

Darius III: Approx. Various estimates are given... The size of Darius's force is not accurately documented - estimates range from 45,000 cavalry and 200,000 infantry to 200,000 cavalry and 800,000 infantry with around 200 scythed chariots and 15 war elephants.

Outcome:

Alexander: Around 150 infantry and 1,000 cavalry killed and wounded.

Darius III: Depending on who you read - just about everybody. 300,000 is a figure tossed around a lot (which makes that low estimate of troops for Darius a bit troublesome unless there was some double-counting going on...).

If you want some more detail on the original Gaugamela, try Wikipedia. Be nice if we could split Iran.

by John on Jul 20, 2006

July 19, 2006

"Broken Windows" Community policing... Iraq style.

If the "Broken Windows" referent was meaningless to you - click here. That advanced degree in CrimJust doncha know. Some things *did* stick.

MND-B, Iraqi government clean up Baghdad
By Spc. Rodney Foliente
4th Inf. Div. PAO

BAGHDAD — Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers, in coordination with local Iraqi governments, continue their efforts in Operation Baghdad is Beautiful, which is a joint operation aimed at helping to restore and improve Baghdad through the removal of trash, debris and barrier materials. A recent milestone in the operation occurred Wednesday with the completion of a monthlong project to clean up the Karada Peninsula.

Cleanup.jpg



BAGHDAD – Baghdad Soldiers, in coordination with local Iraqi governments, continue their efforts in Operation Baghdad is Beautiful, which is aimed at helping to restore and improve Baghdad through the removal of trash, debris and barrier materials.

The Department of Cleaning for the municipality of Karada played a large role in the process and was primarily responsible for cleaning the main streets of the peninsula, said 1st Lt. Jared Miller, a resident of Asheville, N.C., and effects coordinator, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, who has been pivotal in efforts to beautify and revitalize the Karada Peninsula. The local government was impeded from performing routine cleaning on many secondary streets due to large non-negotiable barriers and masses of debris.

The responsibility for facilitating the removal of unnecessary barriers on both secondary and main streets, as well as disposing of huge piles of accumulated rubbish and debris, fell to the MND-B Soldiers of the 4th BCT, said Miller.

In an effort to both clean up the area and help bolster the local economy, MND-B hired local contractors to conduct the work, he added. The brigade’s main task laid in assessing what needed to be done, providing security while the work was being carried out, and then verifying that the contractors performed their duties to standard, he said.

It was important to clean and clear up all of the roads to help facilitate the handing over of security responsibility for the Karada Peninsula to the Iraqi police, said Miller. The completion of the operation not only provides an improved platform from which to govern, but will also help the local government to police the area.

“Cleaning up (the streets) also opens up traffic flow and makes it easier for the (Iraqi Security Forces) to respond to any (situations) that arise,” said Miller. “(Operation) Baghdad is Beautiful helps the population by cleaning the neighborhoods to give them more pride in their community,” he said.

The municipality of the Karada Peninsula will take over the responsibility for keeping the streets of the area clean, said Miller.

Throughout Baghdad , the process of bringing back the beauty of the city continues, said Lt. Col. Tris Cooper, reconstruction officer, civil military operations, 16th Engineer Brigade, attached to MND-B.

There are approximately 50 such projects completed to date, with an approximate $6 million price tag paid from the MND-B Commander’s Emergency Response Fund. The CERP is an appropriation approved by the United States government that enables commanders to respond to urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction requirements within their areas of operations by identifying needs, then originating and paying for programs designed to immediately assist the local populace, said Cooper.

“(Civil Affairs’) main focus is to work with the (Iraqi government) to help them coordinate their essential services with (Iraqi) contractors and personnel to rebuild their infrastructure and help their own people,” said Staff Sgt. Sean Dowdy, a resident of Deerlodge, Mont., who serves as a civil affairs noncommissioned officer, Company B, 414th Civil Affairs Battalion, attached to 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT.

“When other districts see what can be done, they will want to get more involved with similar projects,” continued Dowdy. “If you can demonstrate success in one area, it’s easier to convince other areas that the project can be done.
“Civil Affairs is a very important part of stability in the lives of the Iraqi citizens and they seem to appreciate the help. I am glad to be a part of it.”


by John on Jul 19, 2006

Snerk! Given the meaning of the word "engagement" in a military sense...

...it was amusing to receive this email:

Hello from CentCom's Electronic-Media Engagement Team (E-MET)

Greetings,

As of this week, the U.S. Central Command Public Affairs E-MET has switched hands. The mission of the previous group has been handed to us, and we look forward to corresponding with you throughout the year, getting press releases and news items from CENTCOM’s Area of Responsibility straight to your inboxes.

If you should have any questions of us concerning CENTCOM or press releases, feel free to contact us. We are:

1LT Anthony D.
SPC Patrick Z.
SPC Chris E.

Thanks for your time,

Spc. Chris E.
Electronic Engagement Team
U.S. Central Command Public Affairs

I stripped out the last names and emails. Should you want to get on their list, drop me a note or sign-up on the CENTCOM website. No reason to make 'em spam-magnets! These guys are a little more active in the email news release than the last group was...

(That's a good thing, guys)

Now, if they'd like to engage the NYT, et.al., you may commence firing!

by John on Jul 19, 2006

Israel and Hezbollah.

Remember, as the newsies keep reporting the civilian deaths in Lebanon that most of them are occurring in Hezbollah-controlled areas, where Hezbollah distributes and hides it's weapons, and, by some accounts, does not allow the residents of the area to leave.

Keep that in mind when (if) someone gets all Geneva in a conversation - the convention explicitly allows for a combatant to attack areas where another combatant is hiding forces and storing munitions - even if they are doing so among non-combatants.

Remember that as Hezbollah fires rockets in the general direction of cities and civilians, and not at concentrations of Israeli military personnel or equipment. Israel is not carpet bombing, not randomly firing rockets and artillery, and not using artillery in "zone and sweep" missions, but is firing at point targets.

And the Israelis are going to hurt innocent people. The difference is Hezbollah targets innocent people (yes, I know, if we aren't with them, then we're not innocent, and therefore targetable in their eyes, yadda yadda yadda). Keep that in mind as you ponder how do we deal with people who reject most of the rules we choose to abide by policy and custom?

That's not a call to abandon restraint - it's just an observation that I'm not interested in listening to Israeli-bashing moral equivalency arguments unless you've got something better to offer than that.

Just sayin'.

It would be nice if the Lebanese government could exercise control over it's territory, but Iran chose to finance and equip it's proxies, Syria and Hezbollah, not the Lebanese government and people.

Not that I expect much of that from regular visitors to this space. But I do get some irregulars...

by John on Jul 19, 2006

July 18, 2006

Israel and the Doctrine of Proportionality

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The blogfather has this discussion up on NRO this morning:

Israel's Fragile Existence [Jonah Goldberg]

I get this sort of thing a lot every time Israel comes into the news:

Jonah,
A common statement of the Israel Hawks is that Israel's existence is fragile, like you said earlier today. However, they have air superiority, the best weapons, the most disciplined troops and the bomb. Yet, you make it sound like they'll collapse the second they don't respond in an overheated way. They beat 3 bigger Arab countries once and they still have a significant military and economic advantage over everyone else. So why the lie about their fragile existence?

Me: First, I really can't stand the way people assume that if someone has a different perspective they must be lying. This is particularly common on the left these days. Why not just say I'm "wrong," or "misguided," etc?

Anyway, I can't speak for other people but here's how I've always thought about the question. Whenever it's necessary to use force to stay alive your position is precarious. And if you have to use it constantly just to live, that's a sign your "existence" is under serious threat (the humans in the "Living Dead" movies are always well-armed, none of them feel their existence isn't fragile).

In other words, the point is that Israel must maintain a very high level of military preparedness and vigilance merely in order to survive. If they didn't have that capability they'd be gone in a week. If they let down their guard for a moment, we've seen what happens. That's a pretty thin line if you ask me. Most countries don't have the ability to fight off all of their neighbors simultaneously but that's because they don't feel the need. According to the Israel-is-strong view, Belgium's existence is more fragile than Israel's because Israel is better armed. Who in the world thinks that's the case? I can assure you that most Israelis would rather have the "fragility" of Belgium's plight than the "stability" of theirs.

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The Council on Foreign Relations has a tidy little primer up on the subject of the Doctrine of Proportionality.

Introduction

Israel's offensive into Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, in response to the abductions of two of its soldiers by Hezbollah and one by Hamas militants, raises a number of difficult legal questions. Among them: Did the Israeli response violate the principle of proportionality? UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has accused Israel of "disproportionate use of force" in its air strikes aimed at infrastructure including bridges and power stations, attacks which cut off clean water and electricity to Palestinian civilians. Legal scholars say armed reprisals against civilians are against the 1949 Geneva Conventions and not permissible under international humanitarian law. But Israel says its countermeasures are within its right of self-preservation, given the nature of its national security threats, and claims it is morally and legally bound to protect its nationals abroad. Israel's prime minister called Hezbollah's latest attack and seizure of two of its soldiers "an act of war," which raises even further legal questions about the nature of the current conflict.

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What is the doctrine of proportionality?
The doctrine originated with the 1907 Hague Conventions, which govern the laws of war, and was later codified in Article 49 of the International Law Commission's 1980 Draft Articles on State Responsibility (PDF). The doctrine is also referred to indirectly in the 1977 Additional Protocols of the Geneva Conventions. Regardless of whether states are party to the treaties above, experts say the principle is part of what is known as customary international law. According to the doctrine, a state is legally allowed to unilaterally defend itself and right a wrong provided the response is proportional to the injury suffered. The response must also be immediate and necessary, refrain from targeting civilians, and require only enough force to reinstate the status quo ante. That said, experts say the proportionality principle is open to interpretation and depends on the context. "It's always a subjective test," says Michael Newton, associate clinical professor of law at Vanderbilt University Law School. "But if someone punches you in the nose, you don't burn their house down."

The whole thing can be read by clicking here.

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by John on Jul 18, 2006

July 17, 2006

Why Mr. President, your language!

The President of the United States engages in some private (oops, no it wasnt') straight-talking.

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - A microphone picked up an unaware President Bush saying on Monday Syria should press Hezbollah to "stop doing this shit" and that his secretary of state may go to the Middle East soon.

Since the Prez said it, the PG17C will allow it.

Of course, the writer and editors had their own fun, intentional or not, didn't they?

That noted, the sheepdog in me says the wolf population in that particular neck of the woods could use some thinning. Not that this couldn't bubble over into something larger, but all those Sunni Arab nations aren't going to mind seeing some Shias working for non-Arab Iran get spanked - even by the Israelis. There's been no sleep at CENTCOM this week, and little prospect for any anytime soon, either. And, as CDR Salamander noted elsewhere - there's no sleep in EUCOM, in whose territory this falls. And I rather suspect a tug-of-war for resources, too, if this goes on too long. The whole NEO thing (go read the posts at Milblogs) is going to eat up what little slack there is.

You can read the rest here.

Update: This is, for Europe, an uncharacteristically blunt statement - and word order matters. German Chancellor Merkel:

"We demand first that the Israeli soldiers be returned to Israel healthy, that the attacks on Israel cease, and then naturally for Israel to halt military action," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters.

Many times in the past, the order was "Israel cease, and then get (fill-in-the-blank). This is a significant change, I think. The Euros see the Iranian Lurker-in-Shadow.

More here, from ABC.

by John on Jul 17, 2006

Reading the tea leaves...

SWWBO and I have been off vacationing, and that meant, vacationing...

We're back. I've been catching up on the news.

Israeli M109 155mm howitzer at work

It looks to me like the Israelis have been isolating the battlefield. Sealing off the sea approaches, cratering Beirut Int'l runways, destroying key bridges on the flanks.

Trying to minimize the ability of Hezbollah to get reinforced or resupplied.

Or to run.

It looks like the Israelis are going to send in the infantry and armor.

I would guess they intend to do some serious damage to Hezbollah, and capture some of those 10K (minus a couple hundred fired-so-far) rockets Hezbollah is reputed to have. And probably hope that the Syrians try to do something about it, though I doubt anyone on the Israeli General Staff would mind if the Syrians stayed out of it.

Tough patch of dirt to do that in - but the Israelis have *much* better intel in the region than we've ever had anywhere, which will help.

by John on Jul 17, 2006

July 07, 2006

One year ago today.

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On year later, the Brits, after their initial shock, don't seem to have made much headway in addressing root causes.

Of course, it's not like we've mastered it, with more years and more dead to both motivate and hinder us.

Despite a rather Montague Milquetoast "elite" - there is still some iron in the core of the British nation - if they choose to be Brit, and not just let their immigrants assimilate *them*.

John Bull's Iron at Castle Argghhh!

by John on Jul 07, 2006
» Shining City Atop a Hill links with: Important Lessons From The London Bombings
» Planck's Constant links with: You Have to Be Catholic to Get to Heaven

July 06, 2006

Max Boot on the two campaigns of the GWOT.

Writing in the LA Times he opens with:

Max Boot: Our enemies aren't drinking lattes July 5, 2006


'AMATEURS TALK strategy. Professionals talk logistics." That well-worn saying, sometimes attributed to Gen. Omar Bradley, contains an obvious element of wisdom. Modern militaries cannot fight without a lengthy supply chain, and the success or failure of major operations can turn on the work of anonymous logisticians.

Yet there is a danger of professional soldiers becoming so focused on supply lines that they lose sight of larger strategic imperatives. In Afghanistan and Iraq, we may already have crossed that threshold.

There is undoubtedly a kernel of truth in the question he raises. US Forces are unparalleled logistician - it is a reflection of our society and economy, and an embedded feature of our warmaking - and has been at least since the Civil War.

In a piece I can't find anymore, from sometime last week, Boot or a similar pundit was talking to a Vietnam Vet contractor who was at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, looking over at the Golden Arches of a McDonald's and saying "When it gets this big, you've lost."

That vet's perceptions are shaped by his war, methinks. Doesn't make them wrong - but it *does* make them a single datapoint, hard to extrapolate trends from.

American forces, since the Civil War, have *always* built huge support infrastructures as quickly as we could, consistent with the demands on shipping assets. One has only to look at the 'boring' pictures from WWI, WWII, Korea, to see that as soon as we are able, we build large camps, filled with recreational facilities and troop comforts. It has oft times caused our enemies, and allies, to call us soft, even as we were steamrollering them into the dirt and surrender - if anything, it added to their annoyance.

What's happening over in Iraq (and less so in Afghanistan) is a logical byproduct of the deployment and modern logistic capabilities, especially in an environment where the war in question is very self-contained, and much of the materiel moves in civil airframes and ships until (and even in) the combat zone. It's not like we're losing ships to the U-Boat menace and other threats that smacked Convoy PQ-17.

Nor is as much being diverted from the war effort as you might think - MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) activities are not funded using appropriated monies (though they do leverage facilities). Those activities are funded via donation, contract services, the profit from the Exchange system (on-base department stores) and revenues from MWR activities. For example, here at Castle Argghhh! the Equine Family Members live in the stables at Fort Leavenworth - a service we pay for. That activity does *not* pay for it's building (the old 1909 Quartermaster Stables) but do pay for any new construction, electricity, employee salary, etc - and, since 2001, we've been hit with a surcharge of 10% - that goes directly to fund the overseas MWR activity for deployed troops. We tax ourselves, in a sense. So the diversion of assets is minimized - but certainly there - and in this war, as in Vietnam - there is certainly this aspect Boot observes that deserves consideration.

In the middle, we find this:

Among the more surrealistic moments of my travels was pausing at a base near Baqubah — a far-from-pacified Iraqi city that was Abu Musab Zarqawi's last base of operations — to enjoy a fresh-brewed iced latte at a Green Beans coffee shop. It hit the spot, but when I later told a Marine captain about the experience, he took away some of my enjoyment by asking, "I wonder how many men had to die to get those coffee beans to Baqubah?"

Probably not many, if any, but it begs the question - should any have died? They'd still be dying - the convoys also bring in food and munitions and troops, but exposure would certainly be less. That doesn't mean we should go back to tents and start digging wells, either.

Boot's real point is in his closing:

Successful counterinsurgency operations require troops to go out among the people, gathering intelligence and building goodwill. But few Iraqis are allowed on these bases, and few Americans are allowed out — and then only in forbidding armored convoys.

Most of our resources aren't going to fight terrorists but to maintain a smattering of mini-Americas in the Middle East. As one Special Forces officer pungently put it to me: "The only function that thousands of people are performing out here is to turn food into [excrement]."

How to explain this seemingly counterproductive behavior? My theory is that any organization prefers to focus on what it does well. In the case of the Pentagon, that's logistics. Our ability to move supplies is unparalleled in military history. Fighting guerrillas, on the other hand, has never been a mission that has found much favor with the armed forces. So logistics trumps strategy. Which may help explain why we're not having greater success in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Perhaps. But the commanders - and more importantly, the troops, are trying to figure out ways to do that better - and want the comforts of home, too. And the troops are going to find ways to get 'em, whether or no Boot likes it - as this article JTG sent me regarding "Hajiinets" - troop run ISPs to deal with the lack of Internet access.

It should come as no surprise, then, that some enterprising military personnel have engineered an alternative. Hajjinets, the common term for troop-owned ISPs, have sprung to life on almost every base around Iraq. A typical Hajjinet is built and maintained by one or two soldiers and can provide nearly 24-hour internet access (until the region is stabilized and electrical lines can be installed, generators must occasionally be powered down for maintenance). Most Hajjinets are small, serving between 20 and 30 troops, but ISPs serving as many as 300 are known to exist. In a country wracked by war, where even the capital city receives only intermittent electricity, where people's lives are in constant peril, and where even basic necessities are scarce, this is no small victory. A Hajjinet's key elements are satellite service from an international provider, a satellite dish to send and receive data, and a central location inside a base where network hardware is safe from attack. Like an internet-age Frankenstein, a Hajjinet's hardware must be purchased from an international source, shipped in, then cobbled together by military personnel, many of whom have little previous experience running a network.

A lot of what you see building out there is also maintaining a measure of control.

It's just not as simple as Boot would like to think - we can't win the war we don't want to fight, so we'll just sit around and jerk ourselves off. Which is the bottom line of his reasoning, starkly put.

There is food for thought there - and most people don't know about what the services are doing to try and fight these campaigns better while maintaining the ability to fight other kinds of battles as well. A lot of that is OPSEC, and a lot of it is boring. And none of it lends itself to much in the way of sardonic bon mots for pundits.

Aside from OPSEC, it's one reason I don't write about it much - all y'all don't really want to read it.

I should note Max Boot is a supportive voice - but I think he's trying too hard here.

The whole LA Times piece is here.


by John on Jul 06, 2006

July 05, 2006

Fight! Fight!

Well, such as there is at the Castle. Knowing that a lot of you *don't* go burrowing through the comments, I thought I'd bring a conversation from the comments up into the light.

The post that generated the commentary was this one, on Supporting the Troops.

The discussion revolved around perceptions of right wing vs left wing support for the war and the manifestations thereof - along with some side commentary about political assumptions being made about the political leanings of the soldiery. I'm going to leave that aside and will bring up here the discussion between Castle Contrarian and Leftish Canadian Alan of GenX@40 and our own rightish buried-in-the-academy Ry, currently guest-posting at Kat's place, The Middle Ground.

Alan starts out:

To be fair, there are a lot of right winger civilians who do not exactly care deeply about the lot of the military either, asking it to do far more without the civilian side of the community pulling its weight behind the effort in the war on terror through increased taxes, bonds, etc. You see some community outreach in a town like Watertown, NY near me as Fort Drum is so close but you might find a greater national effort might also find that soldier feeling less like no one cared.

Ry Responds:


The points Alan and SD are making are exactly why I have tried(proll'y in vain, knowing me) to not make my essays on the subject over at Kat's a partisan issue. Rogers did, in the end he really did because it comes down to getting the people in power now instead of looking at how the system is messed up. [Armorer's note - "Rogers" refers to another comment thread on a different post that you don't have to be read in on to follow this discussion]

People do tend to just put up the yellow sticker and think the jobs done. It ain't. Not by a long shot. These same jokers did the same in '91(and voted for Bush the Elder in 1992), but by '94 wanted Slick Walrus(having voted for him) to slice off 4 divisions and cut the Navy in half because they thought they had better uses for it than letting the Mil have it(and when you're strapped for getting current gear, repairing gear, and getting the pipeline for future gear decision makers aren't going to worry about things like the VA so much, particularly when it isn't being stressed so hard in peacetime.).

But, to be fair, the anger at 'liberals' is fair too. Nine times out of ten it is 'liberals' who want to cut mil spending to fund something like Headstart for everyone(instead of just for really impoverished or disabled children).

Al, I always have a problem with the 'war tax' argument. You do realize that we took in more tax revenue last year than just about any year ever? That we funded WW2 with lesser taxes? And temporary taxes usually aren't---just like temporary presidential powers typically become permanent(like the power grab by FDR, over which a SCOTUS battle was being fought and to win said battle FDR was going to pack the court, that means every pres now has immense pull on domestic issues when they didn't prior to FDR). There's enough revenue coming in to do this without a war tax. How about we get rid of Amtrak, a perennial in the red service? Sell it to a private provider. There's a ton of other things that could be axed because they are entirely unnecessary before we need a war tax.
And again(have you read my essay Al?), a war tax now really wouldn't fix the problem. It'll take a few years before that cash infusion will begun to be seen in the field. And then, when the war in Iraq is over, the public will demand we scale back again---producing the late 90s situation all over again, and this all over again the next time a pres decides to go to war without a 5 year build up.
I really think we've mythologized WW2 and the rationing scheme too much. My Mom lived thru it and the way she talks about it it wasn't a great thing. It was hated. It sucked. 3 years of it had people in backwoods Wisconsin(and other places) talking about voting in someone who would get us out of the war(which makes me question why so many are so in favor of a war tax. Is it because they know it will kill support? Rather a cheap trick to get your way if so ain't it?).

SD and Trias, most of my childhood friends joined, myself being the only one who went to college(Craig went to The Point after being JROTC) instead. They do write/call me saying how pissed off they are that they are being turned into a political football, how much they hate us Normals because we don't understand and can't understand. One side arguing that they more authentically care about 'The Troops' more. This guy and Beth have a point(though, I would be a little more kind to Murtha. He may want to pull out any time there's trouble but he typically votes to get the gear.). While they, my buddies and their Brothers, like seeing that yellow bumper sticker they're also aware of the triteness of it. It's bitter sweet for them(We're remembered, but, damn, why's that $itch driving an f'n Hummer, with perfectly manicured nails and coiffed, dyed blonde hair, and wearing Gucci sunglasses while my buddies and I had to sleep in 115 degree heat, eat crap food, and mickey mouse $hit?). And they absolutely want to skull hump those who say things like, 'Support the troops. Bring them home.' Because it's cheap to do either. Because it's easy. Because it isn't substantive help(though it is a psychological boost to some when they first came home.).

I've known some of these guys longer (Moran(20 some odd days longer) and Boner(yes, his last name really is Boner and I've known him a few years longer)) than my wife's been alive. the group's collectively gotten into spittle inflected rages over this. Support shouldn't start when Bush said we're going to war and it shouldn't stop when the last man steps of the Starfrog ladder Stateside. That's what they're pissed about: the easy stuff's being done now, but none of the hard stuff was done years ago when it could've mattered. They're tired that they have become a political football.

And yeah, it's a lot easier to point the finger at someone else. It's a lot easier to try and make our own efforts seem much grander than they really are. (I could've made arguing budgeting in places other than living rooms and restaurant tables the last 15 years). So let's not fault Beth for this overmuch. We sacrifice what we can without making utter messes of our lives. That's all we can do at this point. We can't undo the late 90's.

Later today or tomorrow, I will post the next installment in the series. While I really like just having fun in the comments, it's stuff like this that differentiate blogs from the other forms of media. Especially when people follow the Rulez and it doesn't degenerate into a Sunday Morning Talk Show/Daily Kos/LGF shout-fest.

by John on Jul 05, 2006

June 29, 2006

Someone you should meet.

The six soldiers walked out to the chopper and lifted Sergeant Lisk's body into it. The door went back up. The helicopter flew away.

The soldiers saluted a final time.

In the darkness, as the sound of the helicopter faded, Colonel MacFarland addressed his soldiers.

"I don't know if this war is worth the life of Terry Lisk, or 10 soldiers, or 2,500 soldiers like him," Colonel MacFarland told his forces. "What I do know is that he did not die alone. He was surrounded by friends.

"A Greek philosopher said that only the dead have seen the end of war," the colonel said. "Only Terry Lisk has seen the end of this war."

The soldiers turned and walked back to their barracks in the darkness. No one said a word.

The NYTimes isn't entirely worthless. Even if I possibly walked away from this story with a different take than they intend. But, maybe not.

Read the rest here. H/t, Cassandra.

Speaking of Cassandra - she had a *lot* more time to put words to the thoughts today on this subject than I did.

by John on Jun 29, 2006
» Villainous Company links with: The Cost Of Freedom
» Villainous Company links with: The Cost Of Freedom
» Villainous Company links with: The Cost Of Freedom

June 27, 2006

General Gordon Sullivan on Billpayers.

In the H&I post today, I discussed the upcoming budget crunches and ways they are going to be met, mostly, I predict, by mortgaging the future and the warfighters.

Here's a little insider email running around the opinion makers of the retired General Officer corps, from former Army Chief of Staff Gordon Sullivan.

Friends---I have been observing very carefully the ongoing saga regarding the approval of the Supplemental for 2006. What my analysis suggests to me is the signals for the future of our Army are not good. Oh, I know there are many in town who will tell you that it is too soon to tell how things will evolve but I see too many signals to conclude otherwise. Needless to say this bothers me because by any measurement the Army as an institution has accomplished every mission it has been assigned. Furthermore, the leadership has looked to the future in a very enlightened and programmatic way which suggests to me a forward look which is both imaginative and practical. Yet the near future funding profile is beginning to look and smell a lot like what we lived through in the early 90's when Army leaders were forced to dramatically reduce the size of the Army, increase mission responsiveness and attempt to move onto the information age while being told we were in a strategic pause and fiscal resources available to the DOD would be used to fund other programs which I feel are nice to have, but not required. Just my opinion.

Think about what our Army leaders and Soldiers have set in motion and are accomplishing:
+ Fighting /Nation Building- Iraq, Afghanistan, elsewhere
+Sustaining the force/Recruiting -Retention- Reset
+Resourcing the augmentation of the Southern Border/Expanding Homeland security missions
+ IGPBS- Integrated Global Presence /Basing Strategies {Come home from Europe /Asia - rotation to Eastern Europe}
+ BRAC
+Transformation

I am starting to see signs indicative of a shifting of priorities in the funding steam without a change in strategy or requirements. Without appropriate fiscal resources, provided in a consistent stream, the Army cannot be expected to execute the national strategy and every other mission in as effective a manner as originally intended. This funding stream must flow for the next six years at least or the responsible parties must recast the National Defense Strategy as well as accept that all enabling programs are not feasible. Unless all appreciate the relationship of dollars to programs priorities will dictate tough choices and Army capabilities will diminish.

Part of my concern is that many opinion leaders in Congress and elsewhere believe that as long as the war goes on, their funding focus must be on current operations and not funding modernization programs like the Future Combat Systems, modularity and equipment reset so critical for active and reserve force readiness. Likewise, while all would applaud a successful outcome in Iraq and Afghanistan I fear that should hostilities end, the funding stream will end abruptly in order to recreate the illusion of a "peace dividend" instead of continuing funding for reset for at least two years as well as funding for the Army to refresh itself. In the coming days, I believe we must begin to speak out and let the public know that Army funding must be supported in the near term, but viewed in the long term during which multiple, high cost, long term missions of increasingly complexity such as those envisioned in the QDR and National Defense Strategy will continue.

Now when it should be only too obvious that our endeavors in Iraq and Afghanistan must be supported it is becoming painfully and clearly obvious that some are taking their eye off the ball. For instance, we have seen dithering over supplemental funding critical to Army operations which must maintain a steady state. Additionally, I also detect an indication that weapons which were either killed or modified during QDR deliberations are somehow creeping back into the FYDEP planning process. This doesn't surprise any of you I am sure, but watch how the numbers dance. I have no access to POM fiscal guidance 08/13 but the way folks are hedging their bets is not a good sign.

I am no longer in a position of responsibility and am simply one of those proud to be a Soldier. As such I am concerned that in the heat of battle aka "LONG WAR" Army leaders will find themselves forced into making choices between today and tomorrow and unfortunately could wind up being forced to make decisions with negative long term impact. I understand the Army ethos and our oath and the primacy of mission just as I understand that the defense of America is a shared responsibility between elected, appointed and uniformed people as well as our citizens. I believe now is the time to accept facts as they are--we are in a fight which must be continued to a successful conclusion and we must be prepared to face unknown crises. We are about to see if the resources are available to those who are carrying the load on the ground, Army and Marines, are forth coming.

I hope I am wrong, but I fear I am not. It is time to watch things very closely and accept the fact we might soon be facing a serious strategy resource mismatch which will in turn stretch our magnificent Army to the breaking point .

Gordon Sullivan

I should note I'm not on General Sullivan's email list, and probably got this with at least six degrees of separation. (Note to Sir - feel free to add me, however!)

by John on Jun 27, 2006

Castle Argghhh! Style Manual Change

From today's Stand-to:

In dealing with Islamic extremists, the West may be giving them the advantage due to cultural ignorance, maintain Dr. Douglas E. Streusand and Army Lt. Col. Harry D. Tunnell IV. The men work at the National Defense University at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C.

Okay. So, whattaya mean, fellas?

A case in point is the term "jihadist." Many leaders use the term jihadist or jihadi as a synonym for Islamic extremist. Jihad has been commonly adapted in English as meaning "holy war." But to Muslims it means much more. In their article, Steusand and Tunnell said in Arabic - the language of the Koran - jihad "literally means striving and generally occurs as part of the expression 'jihad fi sabil illah,' striving in the path of God."

This is a good thing for all Muslims. "Calling our enemies jihadis and their movement a global jihad thus indicates that we recognize their doctrines and actions as being in the path of God and, for Muslims, legitimate," they wrote. By countering jihadis, the West and moderate Muslims are enemies of true Islam.

The men asked Muslim scholars what the correct term for Islamic extremists would be and they came up with "hirabah." This word specifically refers to those engaged in sinful warfare, warfare contrary to Islamic law. "We should describe the Islamic totalitarian movement as the global hirabah, not the global jihad," they wrote.

jihadist Hirabah.

Another word constantly misused in the West is mujahdeen. Again, in American dictionaries this word refers to a holy warrior - again a good thing. So calling an al Qaeda terrorist a mujahid legitimizes him.

The correct term for these killers is "mufsidun," Streusand and Tunnell say. This refers to an evil or corrupt person. "There is no moral ambiguity and the specific denotation of corruption carries enormous weight in most of the Islamic world," they wrote.

mujahideen mufsidun. Okay.

I'll be implementing this at Castle Argghhh! (to include, over time, editing the archives).

Read the rest here.

Addendum: Bollixed link fixed (in case anybody wondered why you got linked to your e-mail). The original report is available here--do the "right-click, save as" trick... --cw4(ret)billt

by John on Jun 27, 2006

June 26, 2006

News from other fronts.

Task Force Rebuilds School, Clinic in Yemen

By U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Robert Palomares

Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa

ADEN , Yemen , June 20, 2006 — The quiet, yet steady, humanitarian efforts of U.S. and coalition forces continue to foster stability in the region.

Thomas Krajeski, the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen , and U.S. Navy Capt. Stephen Johnson, the chief of staff for Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa , were on hand to officially dedicate the Zenab Girls’ Secondary School and the Al Mansura Clinic here on June 6.

"We believe the school will inspire young women to learn and we are confident that it will provide educational opportunities for future leaders. This work represents another step towards peace and prosperity throughout the region", U.S. Navy Capt. Stephen Johnson.

“I am happy to be here with you all today to dedicate - or rather, to rededicate - the Zenab Girls’ School,” Krajeski said.

“This project is for you,” he said to the young women who will study at the school.

“We - the United States, our coalition partners and Yemen together - believe in your potential, and have great hopes for your futures,” the ambassador added.

The $256,000 project, which was sponsored by Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, included adding a third level to the existing building, replacing all electrical and plumbing fixtures, reinforcing all of the walls and painting the building.

“Yemeni women are scaling new heights in their achievements and their opportunities,” Krajeski added during his remarks. “But we have more to do to ensure that our young women have as many doors open to them as our young men.”

"We believe the school will inspire young women to learn and we are confident that it will provide educational opportunities for future leaders,” Johnson said. “This work represents another step towards peace and prosperity throughout the region.”

Hosting provided by FotoTime

After the school dedication, the ambassador and chief of staff then traveled to the Al-Mansura Clinic, where the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa civil affairs team repaired the roof, repainted the clinic rooms, upgraded all of the windows and doors, and installed brand new electrical systems.

Dr. Elham Fahim, director of the clinic, welcomed Krajeski and Johnson and took them on a tour of the facility.

“This clinic represents a long-term investment in future generations of this community, the country of Yemen , and the entire region,” said Johnson.

“The clinic sees up to 200 patients a day,” Dr. Fahim said.

“That is less than we used to see, because there are more clinics being built around the city. But there is a need for more,” she said.

“The clinic provides a variety of needed services to the community, such as primary care, general practice, pediatric care, as well as vaccinations,” Dr. Fahim said.

“This clinic is good here, but there is a great need for care in the rural areas, because the mothers do not have the means to come here,” she concluded.

Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, which is based at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti , is focused on detecting, disrupting, and ultimately defeating transnational terrorist groups operating in the region.

by John on Jun 26, 2006

June 23, 2006

MSM, Canadian Style.

CAPT H sent me this link.

From the Globe and Mail.

I don't know my Canadian papers, the Globe and Mail might be the Washington Times of Canada. Or the New York Times of Canada. Or something inbetween.

But wouldn't it be nice if a Big Media type in the US would produce something like this, not just the Yons, Roggios, and Norths. Of course, woudn't it be nice if Yon or Roggio could *be* big media types, as a matter of course, vice growing into what they've become by their own sweat, blood, and treasure.

Canada has a potential Ernie Pyle reporting on the war. Graeme Smith. As close as we're likely to see in this day and age, anyway.

by John on Jun 23, 2006

June 22, 2006

Live from Iraq Trivia Question.

Castle Denizen Blake, a retired soldier who works as a DA Civilian log weenie "somewhere in the United States" is currently in Iraq, working a unit redeployment. Here's his spotrep:

I've been over here in Iraq for two weeks now. I'm no longer jet-lagged, and we're starting to get work done. That having been said, we're still in the middle of a war here, so I'm reluctant to talk specifics about where we are, who we're working with, and when things are happening. The bad guys use the Internet to communicate all the time. It would be stupid to assume that they don't read it, too.

I suppose I can say that we're at a large Coalition base some distance north of Baghdad, more or less in the area the news media call "the Sunni Triangle." The terrain around the base reminds me of nothing so much as the High Plains of Texas, out around Lubbock, Leveland, and Plainview. Flat, flat, flat, as far as the eye can see. This plain we're on is too high above the Tigris valley for irrigation prior to the invention of mechanically-driven pumps, so this area was likely mostly originally inhabited by nomadic goat and camel herders. Goats and camels are about all that could live on what passes for plant life here anyway: it's mostly scrubby grasses and knee-high shrubs. If you see a
tree it's because some human being put it there on purpose. And hot. And dusty. And hot. Afternoon temps are pushing up toward the 120 degrees F mark, and it's not even the end of June yet. That old saw about "But it's a dry heat..." tends to lose its meaning one it gets up past 120 or so. And when the humidity is down in the single digits one can dehydrate just sitting in the shade and doing nothing.

We're still in a shooting war here, of course, and the base occasionally catches some mortar fire. What little artillery we have here fires occasional H&I missions on the known open areas from which the insurgents occasionally lob the odd shell or six over the fences. This has evidently convinced many of the locals to discourage the insurgents from shooting at us from some of the local villages, the villagers not wanting to wind up on either the H&I rotation, or on the receiving end of a counterbattery mission.

Because we still catch the occasional shell, most everything of importance on the base has revetments around it. The preferred method seems to be sectional reinforced concrete walls rather like traffic barriers on steroids. Some older sites are protected by "Hescos," big wire mesh baskets lined with a felt-like synthetic fabric which are named after the company that makes them. Hescos come in a variety of sizes, and are easy to install. They arrive folded up on a pallet. A squad unfolds them and stands them up, and then a bucket-loader fills them with dirt. Instant revetment. The tent I'm living in right now is protected by a revetment made of 2-meter Hescos. That is, these Hescos are cubes 2 meters on a side. Having 2 meters of dirt between me and any possible shell fragments does tend to let me sleep more soundly at night. See the attached picture.

Hescos are yet another proof that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Marshal Vauban, the great 17th-Century military engineer, would have no problem recognizing Hescos as a variant of something that he used all the time. Here's a good trivia question for the grognards at the Castle: what term would Vauban have used for Hescos, and what would his version have been made of?

by John on Jun 22, 2006
» The Cool Blue Blog links with: Star Chores: Infiltration
» The Cool Blue Blog links with: Star Chores: Infiltration

June 21, 2006

A letter from the spouse of a deploying soldier...

This will be up all day. I'd hate to have anyone miss it. New stuff comes in below.

1LT Watada,

I read your letter in the Honolulu Advertiser and, as a military spouse whose husband is set to deploy in the next few weeks to do the job you so conveniently have chosen not to do, I feel it is my duty to point out a few discrepancies in your arguments. I would not want you to go to trial with such a lacking defense. You might find yourself with a one way ticket to uptown Fort Leavenworth and that would be unfortunate.

Your assertion that your responsibility is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States is correct. However, you cannot pick and choose what articles or amendments you wish to protect and defend. You must protect and defend all of them. And that includes Article I, Section 8 which states that Congress has the power “To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;” At this point in time, United States forces are currently in Iraq according to the mandate set by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1637 which was passed unanimously and considered at the request of the Iraqi government. Our troops are in Iraq in full compliance with both international and domestic law.

As an officer in the United States military, you do not have the authority to decide what is legal and what is illegal. And your DUTY, with regard to unlawful or illegal actions or orders is to report up your chain of command or to JAG. Have you done either, sir? Last I checked the media is not in your chain of command. Last I checked the media is not the entity that will decide what is lawful and what is not. Your DUTY was to take your concerns to your chain of command or the JAG. To do otherwise is to shirk your responsibility as an officer of the United States military.

You argue that the war in Iraq is “unlawful and immoral” and that there was “never any just cause”. I beg to differ Lieutenant. If you will refer to the Coalition Provisional Authority’s webpage which discusses UNSC Resolution 1546 (http://www.cpa-iraq.org/transcripts/20040609_UNSCR_Text.html) you will read “Following is the text of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546, adopted unanimously June 8, which endorses the new interim government of Iraq, allows the multinational force to provide security in partnership with the new government, sets out a leading role for the U.N. in helping the political process over the next year, and calls upon the international community to aid Iraq in its transition:

Recognizing the request conveyed in the letter of 5 June 2004 from the Prime Minister of the Interim Government of Iraq to the President of the Council, which is annexed to this resolution, to retain the presence of the multinational force,

Recognizing also the importance of the consent of the sovereign Government of Iraq for the presence of the multinational force and of close coordination between the multinational force and that government,

Welcoming the willingness of the multinational force to continue efforts to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq in support of the political transition, especially for upcoming elections, and to provide security for the United Nations presence in Iraq, as described in the letter of 5 June 2004 from the United States Secretary of State to the President of the Council, which is annexed to this resolution,

In addition, our current presence in Iraq is legal in international terms based solely on Saddam Hussein’s failure to comply with the armistice agreements made following Desert Storm back in 1991 and his repeated and continued violation of FOURTEEN separate UN resolutions over a twelve year period. Never any “just cause”? I don’t think so.

Whatever your argument against our mission in Iraq and its legality, those statements should smooth your moral fiber and allow you to return to work immediately. Otherwise, what you are doing is illegal and my hope is that, while my husband does the duty he was sworn to uphold and that you are refusing to do, you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.


Sincerely,
HomefrontSix

Word.

by John on Jun 21, 2006

The Grave of the Hundred Head -

Interestingly, Kipling's poem came up in office conversation a couple of weeks ago. We have fascinating conversations at the office, waiting for the data to process...

They made a pile of their trophies
High as a tall man's chin,
Head upon head distorted,
Set in a sightless grin,
Anger and pain and terror
Stamped on the smoke-scorched skin.

Subadar Prag Tewarri
Put the head of the Boh
On the top of the mound of triumph,
The head of his son below-
With the sword and the peacock banner
That the world might behold and know.
Thus the samadh was perfect,
Thus was the lesson plain
Of the wrath of the First Shikaris-
The price of white man slain;
And the men of the First Shikaris
Went back into camp again.

...what may have worked then (there are plenty of counter-examples) will certainly not work now. And, I submit, we don't want it to work for us.

Nor is it a good idea to give vent to your anger over the deaths of Private First Class Kristian Menchaca and Private First Class Thomas L. Tucker screaming for the heads of the jihadis to be piled high in the streets - and doing so for the Joy of Google. I imagine the jihadis are having a good chuckle. (Hi, a$$hats! What's that whistling noise?)

It's a war. War sucks. Being blown into large chunks, but still concious and bleeding out isn't a much better fate. Burning to death in a vehicle isn't a better fate than befell our two soldiers.

And the calls, as I've seen them elsewhere, for "3 heads for every one!" isn't useful and only plays into our enemy's hands, however much it sounds like a satisfying revenge to our lizard brains.

The costs, to our soldiers and our nation, far outweigh any unlikely benefit. We're already fighting people who want to die fighting us. The manner of their death, fantasies of wrapping them in pigskin notwithstanding, simply isn't the deterrent some think (or wish) it will be. Blowing Indians from the guns certainly makes for pride-swelling reading if you're a Brit, doesn't it? Proud to tell your grandkids that story? Results matter. But how we achieve the results sets the stage for later. As the Germans found out when they went into Russia, and paid the price on the way out.

The Germans tried reprisals. What did it gain them? Allied Armies in Berlin, and the East in ruins. Same-same Japan. It didn't work out well for the French, either. And in those areas where it has worked, sorta, it has been between opponents who are very much not like us.

Don Sensing has covered this terrain before.

I personally don't think we can get that much tougher, without throwing restraint aside and becoming a terrible mirror of our foe. We're already killing them at a rate greater than three to one, and they revel in the dying, do the jihadis.

I don't mind killing them, truth to tell. But to repay savagery with savagery will put a burden on our soldiers and ourselves that will not be repaid with success on the battlefield. If we were to react as some wish - it would, I believe, kill the mission in Iraq, and guarantee the Global Opinion Golem would stomp it flat. And that when it was all said and done - just as many many people can recognize My Lai and almost no one but those who were there and geeks like me can relate NVA/VC atrocities in Hue - everybody would remember an American equivalent of "The Grave of the Hundred Dead" and no one, other than those who were there and geeks like me would remember Private First Class Kristian Menchaca and Private First Class Thomas L. Tucker.

It is *not* the American Way of War - which is precisely why it is memorable when we do it, and "Yeah, so?" when they do it.

It isn't always easy, it isn't always fair, as the song goes.

It's a hell of a leadership challenge that now faces our most junior leaders. Keeping their figurative heads, so that those about them don't lose their metaphysical heads.

And if what happened to those two soldiers harden's the public resolve to continue the fight - *that* would actually be good!

For those who keep hearing about it but haven't read the poem - it's in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jun 21, 2006

Recharacterizing The War On Terror

Why has public support for the war on terror, once at 70%, eroded so severely?

"Experts" like John Murtha, whose moral authority to speak for the military is unimpeachable (and don't you dare question his patriotism either!) will quickly tell you: the war is "a flawed policy, wrapped in an illusion". Murtha continually repeats a few easily-digestable stock phrases and the media unquestioningly give him front page coverage, inexplicably ignoring the many times his statements have contradicted each other or been demonstrably false:

Back home, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a prominent defense hawk, called for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq over six months. In a speech Thursday, Murtha said, "Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency."

Even the most cursory follower of the war should be able to spot the flaws in this one. Open a newspaper on any given day and you'll likely read of explosions, kidnappings, and headless corpses. Who are most of the victims? Not our troops. Most of us instinctively recognize terrorism. We don't have to have the word defined for us - it's well established in the popular lexicon. But lest we draw the wrong conclusions about "so-called terrorism", CNN, Reuters, and the BBC hasten to assure us that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter". After all, if United Nations cannot seem to define terrorism, let alone confront it, who are we to differ?

This must be another instance where the media "can't find" information cleverly hidden in obscure spots like Merriam-Webster; places too dark and dangerous for an investigative reporter to go without a military escort:

terror: (3)violence (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands

The simple truth is that Iraq's insurgents are not fighting for their own freedom. They fear the courage of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who braved sniper fire and explosions to get to the polls. They are afraid the will of the people will one day be heard in Iraq, and they fight desperately to prevent democracy from taking hold, fight to impose the will of the minority on an entire nation by force. The defining characteristic of terrorists is that they intentionally pass up legitimate combatants, preferring to target innocent men, women, and even small children. We deliberately target the insurgents, and sometimes innocent civilians get killed. The insurgency, for the most part, deliberately targets innocent civilians. How, then, did our troops become "the primary target" of the insurgency? How did we become the bad guys?

The answer, of course, is that we aren't. So why do the media, who challenge the administration and the Pentagon at every opportunity, continually give Jack Murtha a pass? Why don't they question the obvious inconsistencies in his public statements? Why do they perform bizarre gyrations, working even months-old quotes into every single wartime report?

The answer, we are told, is context. The American public needs context to fully understand the complexities of war. We need the kind of context the media deliberately refuse to provide when they relentlessly hype every setback or accusation without balancing these reports with the acts of incredible heroism or compassion. This is completely understandable. Such accounts might serve to remind us that not all our troops are, as we are daily reminded, murderers who "... overreact because of the pressure on them, and ...kill innocent civilians in cold blood.”

In order to keep the war in perspective, Americans are constantly told that we squandered the support of our allies, who would have been on our side, had we been less arrogant:

...during the first ten days of the war, Iraq asked Russia, France, and China not to support cease-fire initiatives because Saddam believed such moves would legitimize the coalition's presence in Iraq.

Furthermore, UN sanctions were working, weren't they? We should never have invaded without the approval of France, Russia, and China:

Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz described the dictator as having been "very confident" that the United States would not dare to attack Iraq, and that if it did, it would be defeated. What was the source of Saddam's confidence?

Judging from his private statements, the single most important element in Saddam's strategic calculus was his faith that France and Russia would prevent an invasion by the United States. According to Aziz, Saddam's confidence was firmly rooted in his belief in the nexus between the economic interests of France and Russia and his own strategic goals: "France and Russia each secured millions of dollars worth of trade and service contracts in Iraq, with the implied understanding that their political posture with regard to sanctions on Iraq would be pro-Iraqi. In addition, the French wanted sanctions lifted to safeguard their trade and service contracts in Iraq. Moreover, they wanted to prove their importance in the world as members of the Security Council -- that they could use their veto to show they still had power."

Saddam wanted the sanctions lifted too-- according to the Iraq Survey Group, so he could begin manufacturing WMDs again. But lest this news lead us to the wrong conclusion, we are once again reminded that Iraq posed no threat to us:

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by Cassandra on Jun 21, 2006

June 17, 2006

heh.

You've probably seen this elsewhere. I just got it yesterday.

Got this from an old Army buddy.

A Naval Academy classmate of mine who is a retired Air Force general officer recently attended a conference at Fort Carson which was a briefing on the Iraq War. This is the report he sent out about the conference. I thought you would be interested in reading Dick's report Knowing the author of the report, I know it is factual.
Regards,
Joe
_____

Earlier this week I attended a retired general and flag officer conference at Fort Carson, hosted by MGen Bob Mixon, the 7th Infantry Division Commander which calls the Fort its home. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ft. Carson, it is a huge installation located to the south of Colorado Springs; it's in the process of becoming one of the larger Army installations in the country (26,000 soldiers); and it is the test location for the new "modular brigade" concept that will reflect the Army of tomorrow by 2008. It is also the home post of the largest number of troopers who have served multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and, regrettably, the largest number of troopers who have died in combat there over the past three years. There are Ft. Carson units going to and returning from the combat area virtually on a monthly basis.

The conference was primarily organized to explain the modular brigade concept, and it featured a panel of officers who had either very recently returned from commands in the combat zone or were about to deploy there in the next two months. Three of the recent returnees were Colonel H.R. McMaster, Colonel Rick S., and Captain Walter Szpak.

McMaster is the commander of the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, the unit that, through very innovative and population-friendly tactics, rid the city of Tal Afar of insurgents. The mayor of Tal Afar came back to Carson two weeks ago to thank the troopers and their families personally for "freeing his people". (You say you didn't hear about that in the mainstream media?) McMaster is considered the foremost U.S. expert on modern insurgent warfare, has written a book on the subject which is widely circulated at the war colleges and staff colleges, and he was asked to testify before Congress when he returned from the 3rd ACR combat deployment. He is obviously one of the great combat leaders that has emerged from the war and is highly respected (some would say revered) by his troopers and his superiors alike.

Colonel S. is assigned to the 10th Special Forces Brigade and he headed up all of the 31 Special Forces A-teams that are integrated with the populace and the Iraqi Army and national police throughout the country. Many of these are the guys that you see occasionally on the news that have beards, dress in native regalia, usually speak Arabic and don't like to have their identities revealed for fear of retribution on their families (thus the Colonel S.) Captain Szpak was the head of all the Army explosive ordnance teams in Iraq. He and his troops had the job of disarming all the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and explosive formed projectiles (EFPs) that were discovered before they were detonated. They also traveled around the country training the combat forces in recognizing and avoiding these devices in time to prevent death and injury. IEDs and EFPs are responsible for the vast majority of casualties experienced by our forces.

Despite the objective of the conference (i.e., the modular brigade concept), it quickly devolved into a 3? hour question and answer period between the panel and the 54 retired generals and admirals who attended. I wish I had a video of the whole session to share with you because the insights were especially eye opening and encouraging. I'll try to summarize the high points as best I can.

* All returnees agreed that "we are clearly winning the fight against the insurgents but we are losing the public relations battle both in the war zone and in the States". (I'll go into more detail on each topic below.)

* All agreed that it will be necessary for us to have forces in Iraq for at least ten more years, though by no means in the numbers that are there now.

* They opined that 80% to 90% of the Iraqi people want to have us there and do not want us to leave before "the job is done".

* The morale and combat capability of the troops is the highest that the senior officers have ever seen in the 20-30 years that each has served.

* The Iraqi armed forces and police are probably better trained right now than they were under Saddam, but our standards are much higher and they lack officer leadership.

* They don't need more troops in the combat zone but they need considerably more Arab linguists and civil affairs experts.

* The IEDs and EFPs continue to be the principal problem that they face and they are becoming more sophisticated as time passes.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jun 17, 2006

June 15, 2006

Winning the battles, losing the infowar...

[Armorer's note: Denizen Ry originally had this in the H&I post, but since he was getting all wordy and intellectual and stuff, ruining the general low standards set for that item, I moved him out here all on his own.]

The view out there of Afghanistan, GWOT, and Iraq is changing. And, importantly, not just in our own media. Global opinion can matter you know.

John Robb would recognize the flavor of this story about a resurgent Taliban presence in Waziristan. Looks like systems disruption. That isn't good.

This story claims that the mission was flawed from the beginning because the US was too soft in how it prosecuted the war in Afghanistan. I can see it, sorta. When you have the chance to put someone out of the game you give them a chance to re-arm and be nasty. But, it also ignores that the US couldn't attack mosques without a major political risk. Global opinion can matter.

Here's one that's pushing the line that Haditha isn't all that isolated.

What they believe over there shapes what happens. If they believe it's going to hell in a handbasket we're screwballed. If the populace there doesn't believe in it then it probably isn't going to happen.

But, at the same time, a few offensives and a few news stories aren't the whole battle, the whole war, or the whole picture. Let's see what it's like in two weeks once the Canadians are truly set up and up to speed in Afghanistan. I feel bad for the Jihadis already. Let's see what happens on the 'massacre' front in a few months. This, like the bombing of a wedding by US forces, could turn out to be baloney and just fade away as an infowar ploy.

by Denizens on Jun 15, 2006

June 14, 2006

Haditha and rumors of Hadithas

This is a thorny one.

First - read Michelle Malkin's post about the Camp Pendleton 8 . Follow the links.

However - for a slightly more reasoned, and perhaps *informed* view - check out what Army Lawyer has to say over at Milblogs.

Apropos of that, I got this in an email this weekend, from Kevin F. in Houston.

A Plea for Context in War Reporting

Context is vital in all news reporting, because without it one cannot make reasoned judgments about the importance of any event. Sadly, context is almost always lacking in coverage of both the Iraq conflict and the War against Islamo-Fascism. As the events surrounding Haditha or future such incidents unfold, the public will be subject to countless impassioned harangues from commentators and reporters. Far too many of these efforts will fail to provide a context to understand the events in question.

What makes incidents like No Gun Ri, My Lai and perhaps Haditha noteworthy is not the scale of death, but that such incidents are so very rare. The US military takes its obligations under both the Rules of War and its own Rules of Engagement very seriously. All personnel are accountable, unlike our current enemies, for upholding these standards. Those who do not, a remarkably tiny number of people, will face consequences ranging up to criminal punishment. This accountability is painful to watch and even provides succor to both our enemies and our critics. These groups however fail to grasp the fundamental truth: today the US holds itself to a high standard of conduct. Whenever violations occur the US is moving to ensure that the resolution is swift and transparent.

The same cannot be said of our enemies: the Islamo-Fascists and rejectionist Baathiststs. Contrast the US incidents, which were committed by isolated groups without policy sanction, with those committed by our enemies. These groups target as a matter of policy and procedure innocents and often random noncombatants. Consider the weapons that are the hallmark of our enemies: IEDs, blades, and passenger planes.

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), hundreds and hundreds of IEDs, ranging from car bombs to homicide bombers to roadside bombs continue to be used in Iraq and around the world. Despite the method of delivery high explosives are indiscriminate killers. Indeed, many thousands of Iraqis: men, women, children, and elderly have been killed, maimed, and traumatized by the IEDs of our enemies. These IEDs have created a toll of carnage vastly exceeding the US troop losses, which is a fact only very rarely noted in media coverage of the conflict.

Blades are yet another weapon of choice for our enemies, but not for combat. They employ blades for the torture and murder of their prisoners. Our enemies butcher, there is no other word for it, they butcher their prisoners The Islamo-Fascists not only behead their prisoners as a matter of policy, but broadcast the grisly spectacle on the internet and film for a worldwide audience. Note the pride of our enemies in this activity and contrast that with the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib incident, where those responsible are facing judicial proceedings. A simple question: By which group would you rather be held captive the worst of the Americans at Abu Ghraib or the leaders of the Islamo-Fascists?

Any of you remember 9/11? The Islamo-Fascists hijacked 4 passenger planes, which contained scores of noncombatants, and used them for their kamikaze attacks. Reflect for a moment on the cold blooded planning and equally cold blooded execution which was required to carry out this plan. Years of preparation and sizable, for Al Qaeda, commitment of resources went into this terrorist plan. The result: nearly three thousand dead noncombatants and our enemies only regret, that many more thousands of noncombatants were not killed.

These and many other factors should form the basis on which to evaluate events occurring in our continuing struggle against Islamo-Fascism and the Baathist rejectionists.

by John on Jun 14, 2006

June 09, 2006

On the importance of that high school diploma!

See kiddies? This is why it's important to finish high school:

Ahmad al-Khalailah’s childhood was characterised by fighting constantly with other boys and he left school at about 16 without obtaining a certificate of secondary education. There followed a series of short-term menial jobs and petty crimes that allowed him to drink heavily and aspire to a life in the West. According to official records in Jordan, he spent some time in prison “for sexual offences”.

...or you too, can grow up like Zarqawi.

Update: It appears that the Zark-man ain't getting his ashes hauled quite as he expected in Paradise. He briefs his AAR at Iowahawk.

by John on Jun 09, 2006

The NYT performs an inadvertent service.

Pointing out an idiot Pentagon official:

According to a Pentagon official, the Americans finally got one. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the raid are classified, [emphsis mine - perhaps there's a *reason* such details are classifed?] said that an Iraqi informant inside Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia provided the critical piece of intelligence about Mr. Rahman's [i.e., Zarqawi's "spiritual adivser"] meeting with Mr. Zarqawi. The source's identity was not clear — nor was it clear how that source was able to pinpoint Mr. Zarqawi's location without getting killed himself. [Unclear to the Times, perhaps, you can bet al-Qaeda will have figured it out by now - as Dr. Johnson observed " "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." They have the incentive]

"We have a guy on the inside who led us directly to Zarqawi," the official said.

Not any more, we don't. Hopefully because we extracted him, vice other, more grisly, options.

Boy, I shoulda been an anonymous blogger. There's so much more I could talk about, going waaaaay back to the beginning of my career! And here all this time, all I hadda be was anonymous!

Hey, the hafway sophisticated among us were able to connect those dots, certainly. Still, when you are trying to recruit insiders, it just strikes me that having semi-official confirmation of details like this, doesn't make more confidence building among the target audience. Even if we *did* bring this guy in from the cold.

Just sayin'.

But I'm not a high-powered defense official. I only play one on this blog.


by John on Jun 09, 2006
» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Berg: No Good in Al-Zarqawi's Death
» The Right Nation links with: Message From Above

June 08, 2006

Zarqawi - an alternative view.

Or really, a look from a different perspective.

From a mailing list I inhabit, from an intel analyst:

Call it the James J. Angleton in me, and not to look a gift horse too closely in the mouth, al Zarqawi's death is a mixed blessing. I am certainly glad that he has gone to the land of the forty virgins, no mistake about that. al Zarqawi had, I believe, outlived his usefulness, He had outlived his utility and had been attempting to aggrandize his position -- authority over Jordan, etc. Osama bin Laden is the father figure for al Qaeda, He needs not a first born son. The whole concept of al Qaeda is a flat organizations very loosely interrelated, any attempt to create a hierarchy goes against the bin Laden rules. al Zarqawi's death releases all the nascent al Qaeda influenced groups to operate as he envisaged. The danger is still there. Therefore, it would be most interesting to track back the intelligence sources which revealed his movement and position. Small additional point: whether 500 lb. bombs or Hellfire missiles, what has been obliterated is not only the target and his aides, but also, most probably, a set of very valuable records. These would include his penetration both the provincial hierarchies but also the national government, and any relations with other countries.

Big D, in a comment over at Milblogs, offers up this counter:

Considering that he was in relatively one piece when they dragged him out, I'd suggest that they might have pulled some other things of interest when they sifted through the rubble.

Also, the 17 raids that they launched when they no longer needed them as stakeouts for the Z apparently got them a lot, too.

Now, the whole thing about whether AQ was ready for Z to go is another issue; they might not mourn him much either at this point.

I see this portrayed on TV as a victory that may lead to further victories, but IMHO it's the other way around... this is a direct result of the successful negotiation with most of the Sunni parties, who are now handing over some of their bargaining chips, particularly the ones that have outlived their usefulness.

by John on Jun 08, 2006
» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Berg: No Good in Al-Zarqawi's Death

Snerk! Got him.

"You are cleared in hot."

'Roger, clear for target engagement."

"Pickle"

BAWHOOOM!

"Cue Munchkins"

"Ding-dong, the bitch is dead!"

Ding dong, the bitch is dead!

Hey, it ain't over, someone/thing will rise to take Zarqawi's place. But we can savor the moment, can't we. Well done, guys and gals!

However, in a secret meeting room, somewhere deep in the Adirondacks, gloom prevails.

Secretly, deep in the dark recesses of their political hearts, some people are devastated.

Chippy McChirpy, Staff Aide, observes, "Wow! We really dodged a bullet! I'm surprised they didn't keep this a secret until the week before the elections!"

Enjoy your raisins, dude.

by John on Jun 08, 2006
» The Thunder Run links with: Web Reconnaissance for 06/08/2006
» A Healthy Alternative to Work links with: Ingredients: Mechanically-separated Abu Musab al Zarqawi
» A Healthy Alternative to Work links with: Ingredients: Mechanically-separated Abu Musab al Zarqawi
» Stop The ACLU links with: ZARQAWI IS DEAD!
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: Another One Bites the Dust
» Don Surber links with: Thank you, Air Force
» A Blog For All links with: Grand Slam

Oh, no! Say it isn't so!

The magazine of Hamas, the democratically-elected 'government' (such as it is by *my* standards of government) publishes a cartoon that says, essentially, "Piss on Democracy." D-uh.

The current issue of the Hamas weekly has a cartoon of a Palestinian child urinating on the Statue of Liberty, which is holding a book labelled 'Democracy'. This expression of utter disdain for the US and its democracy follows other recent slurs in the PA media. For example, the West was condemned in March at a Palestinian rally: <br />
'for many years of trying to penetrate Islamic youth with dubious things such as the ideas of democracy.' (Al Hayat Al Jadida, March 4, 2006)



Think the Danish cartoons. Moslems complain about our not respecting them over a cartoon, well, its our turn to be upset.

The current issue of the Hamas weekly has a cartoon of a Palestinian child urinating on the Statue of Liberty, which is holding a book labelled "Democracy". This expression of utter disdain for the US and its democracy follows other recent slurs in the PA media. For example, the West was condemned in March at a Palestinian rally:

"for many years of trying to penetrate Islamic youth with dubious things such as the ideas of democracy."
[Al Hayat Al Jadida, March 4, 2006]

I dunno. I feel curiously unmoved by criticism from this quarter. I certainly don't feel like rushing out and destroying my neighbors and fellow-countrymen's property, much less killing them in a riot.

What's wrong with me? Oh, that's right. The fact that I *don't* feel like that is evidence of my moral decline and depravity.

Otay. Gimme summa dat.

H/t, Strategy Page.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jun 08, 2006

Yanked from the comments

This from uruloki early this morning:

TINS: Zarqawi is dead. Sorry for the comment instead of email, but best way to communicate for me... I have the press release up on my site, feel free to snag it.

So, I snagged it. The CNN update is there, too.

by CW4BillT on Jun 08, 2006
» Stop The ACLU links with: ZARQAWI IS DEAD!

June 06, 2006

Canada@War

[Armorer's note: The Presidential Unit Citation is awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the United States and allies for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy on or after 7 December 1941. The performance of the unit in question must display such gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions so as to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign. The degree of heroism required is the same as that which would warrant award of the Distinguished Service Cross to an individual.]

Announcement is made of the following award:

U.S. Presidential Unit Citation Presented to Joint Task Force Two NR-06.025 - June 2, 2006

OTTAWA – The Canadian Forces unit (CF) Joint Task Force Two (JTF 2) was presented with the United States Presidential Unit Citation from the United States Ambassador to Canada in a ceremony today. JTF 2 received the citation for its outstanding contribution to the multi-national Special Operations Forces task force in Afghanistan in 2002.

“This presentation of the United States Presidential Unit Citation serves to recognize the outstanding work and contribution of all members of JTF 2,” said Minister of National Defence, Gordon O’Connor. “This unit continues to play a pivotal role in the safety and security of Canadians at home and abroad through its efforts in the campaign against terrorism.”

“JTF 2 has proven to be a significant enhancement to our combat forces in the campaign against terrorism,” said Chief of the Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier. “This recognition, one of few publicly recognized events we’ve had due to the unit’s counter-terrorism role, serves to highlight the significant impact that JTF 2 continues to have on behalf of all Canadians and our allies.”

On December 7 2004, the President of the United States presented the Presidential Unit Citation to the Commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force – SOUTH (JSOTF-SOUTH) for its success during operations in Afghanistan from October 2001 until April 2002. Canada’s JTF 2 was one of several international units in JSOTF-SOUTH who have been formally presented with this citation.

The United States Presidential Unit Citation is awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the United States and allied nations for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy occurring on or after 7 December 1941. The unit must display such gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions as to set it apart and above other units participating in the same campaign.

JTF 2 is a Canadian Forces Special Operations unit responsible for federal counter-terrorist operations. It provides a force capable of rendering armed assistance in the resolution of an incident that is affecting, or has the potential to affect, the national interest. The primary focus is counter-terrorism; however, the unit can expect to be employed on other high value strategic tasks.

by John on Jun 06, 2006
» Quotulatiousness links with: JTF 2 awarded Presidential Citation

Thoughts relevant to the issues of the day.

Military power wins battles, but spiritual power wins wars.
- George C. Marshall, 1880 - 1959

Next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained.
- Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington, 1769 - 1852

Keep those in mind as you read this from the (not New York) Times.

The wrong target: Terrorism, not America, is a real and present threat to our freedoms.

Al-Haditha, a town on the Euphrates northwest of Baghdad, is still a place where fighters blend into the populace and literally use civilians as cover. Coalition forces may shoot only when threatened, ground rules that call for exemplary discipline and courage in conditions where their observance increases the risk of injury or death.

And just because I like it:

Nobody will ever win the Battle of the Sexes. There's just too much fraternizing with the enemy.
- Henry Alfred Kissinger

H/t, Jim C.

And you really should read Dadmanly's post ("The Wrong Target" trackback link below) on this subject.

by John on Jun 06, 2006
» Dadmanly links with: The Wrong Target

May 25, 2006

Marines may face a court...

...over what can only be called a war crime, if the events are as thus far depicted - remembering the defense has not been presented.

So let it be. If there's sufficient evidence, charge 'em and let them present a defense (since the case is already being tried in the media and halls of Congress). If their defense isn't a good one - they can come take long tours here at Fort Leavenworth, where they would belong. If their defense holds up... well, it won't make any difference to the Usual Suspects anyway, so screw 'em.

I have no problem with it. It *is* a major difference between us and our military foes, even if our political foes can't see that.

A dozen Marines may face courts-martial for alleged Iraq massacre

By Gayle S. Putrich
TIMES STAFF WRITER


A key member of Congress said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if a dozen Marines faced courts-martial for allegedly killing Iraqi civilians Nov. 19. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., told Marine Corps Times that the number of dead Iraqis, first reported to be 15, was actually 24. He based that number on a briefing from Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Mike Hagee on Wednesday.

Hagee visited Capitol Hill in anticipation of the release of two investigation reports, which are expected to show that among the 24 dead civilians, five of the alleged victims, all unarmed, were shot in a car with no warning, Murtha said. The killings took place in Hadithah, 125 miles northwest of Baghdad.


At least seven of the victims were women and three were children.

“If the allegations are substantiated, the Marine Corps will pursue appropriate legal and administrative actions against those responsible,” said Col. David Lapan, a spokesman at Marine Corps headquarters.

“The investigations are ongoing, therefore any comment at this time would be inappropriate and could undermine the investigatory and possible legal process,” he said. “As soon as the facts are known and decisions on future actions are made, we will make that information available to the public to the fullest extent allowable.” Murtha, an outspoken war critic and retired Marine colonel, has maintained for several weeks that the reality of the Hadithah incident was far more violent than the original reports suggested.

Read the rest here, in the Marine Corps Times.

Let the chips fall where they may. In war, shite happens. And when it crosses an admittedly fuzzy, vice bright, line, then you deal with it.

by John on May 25, 2006

Afghan Violence Reflects Afghan Troops' Progress, Taliban Frustration

Afghan Violence Reflects Afghan Troops' Progress, Taliban Frustration By Donna Miles American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, May 23, 2006 – The recent surge in violence in southern Afghanistan reflects the fact that Afghan security forces are extending their reach and that the Taliban, in desperation, are trying to stop them, a senior military official told Pentagon reporters today. Army Brig. Gen. Carter F. Ham, deputy director of regional operations for the Joint Staff, called the "significant fighting," particularly in the south, a sign that the Taliban wants to stop "the expansion and the filtering of the reach of the Afghan national government."

"My suspicion is that the Taliban ... recognize that if they don't try to do something about that now, then they may not have a chance to do something about it later," Ham said.

"One of the reasons I believe that there are more incidents in the south is that the Afghan forces are going more places," he said. "They are going places where they didn't go before and certainly meeting some resistance."

Read the rest in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on May 25, 2006

May 21, 2006

Something you won't see in an Arab Military writing collection.

Thanks to the nature of the MSM - and it's consumer base, and, to a lesser extent blogging, too (we want traffic, boring-but-important-stuff doesn't generate traffic, it's just some of us don't care as much about traffic as others, thanks to Google), what we don't see, absent the pronouncements of the Generals and Secretaries (the post below) there is actually a *lot* of paddling going on under the surface. By those order-taking unthinking Myrmidons the left is so, um, well, you know what I mean. Anyway - here's something you won't see much of in Arab professional journals. No, not the subject matter - the author, and the whole underlying premise tied up therein. And *if* we make that change in the Iraqi military, we will have done some potential, long-term, society-changing good.

Such as this article, *featured* in the US Army Professional Writing Collection.

Winning the Nationbuilding War While I was in Samac, Bosnia, an Assistant Secretary of Defense visited my unit- A Troop, 1st Squadron, 104th Cavalry, Pennsylvania Army National Guard. One of the things he said was, "We have gotten pretty good at killing people." In retrospect, this was an understatement. As Saddam Hussein found out, the United States can reach almost any corner of the world with real power. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be quite as efficient at nationbuilding.

Construction is more difficult than destruction, and nationbuilding operations can be long, complex, and expensive. America's mission in Bosnia has lasted several years, and no U.S. official has yet mentioned terminating operations. U.S. forces also are still in Afghanistan, and U.S. forces in Iraq have suffered more casualties since the end of major military operations than during initial operations.

As a Vietnam-era veteran, I doubt the United States has the financial capability or the political will to occupy large segments of the world semipermanently. Yet, the potential costs of not engaging in nationbuilding might be horrific. How can we shorten the commitment and reduce the cost of nationbuilding? How can the U.S. military be as efficient at nationbuilding as it is at killing people? The answer is to have the right tools, the right people, and the right processes for the job at hand.

Read the rest - and meet the author, Staff Sergeant George E. Anderson III, by clicking here.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on May 21, 2006

May 19, 2006

A voice from the Front.

The Castle has several readers who are deployed, been deployed, are deploying. All have been offered this space to tell their stories - starting with Master Sergeant (now 1st Sergeant) Keith, who regaled us (and teased me with guns) with Tales From The Pjanshir Valley.

Comes now Flip, from Iraq.

The other day I received an offer to post my inside view on the state of the Iraq war on this site. Considering that the political minefields are far worse than the IEDs I initially declined. However, checking the news after my mission today I decided some things needed to be said.

The first article to grab my attention was the UNHRC report. In which such stalwarts of human compassion and due process such as Azerbaijan, China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe are kind enough to give us lessons on the humane treatment of prisoners. Amongst the UNHRC’s demands were the closing of camp Gitmo and that we “broaden the definition of acts of psychological torture.”

The irrelevance of the United Nations grows greater every day. Condemnations of US prisoner treatment from countries that routinely jail and torture dissidents and even host the occasional genocide are amazing. Of course what else would you expect from an organization that believes that welfare is a human right?

The general facts about what exactly happens to a prisoner in US custody are deemed irrelevant when the agenda is simply to backstab the United States. The first misconception is the status of these prisoners. They are not POWs (or in current military parlance, EPWs-Enemy Prisoners of War) they have no uniform no insignia, no clearly identifiable rank or chain of command. In plain black and white the Geneva Convention specifically denies them EPW status. With that said the US has in all documented cases not condoned torture. Abu Ghraib was a reprehensible event. However, it was the work of miscreants and not SOP. Additionally it seemed a lot milder than what I hear the squids have to go through the first time the cross the equator.

Examining the “tales of torture” one cannot find a shred of evidence amongst the claims. I especially like the allegation that we send victims of extraordinary rendition to countries such as Syria and Egypt, allow their security services to interrogate them by torture and then reap the rewards. Highly believable since the US and Syrian intelligence communities have such close ties.

The United States military has prosecuted 103 service members by courts martial with 89 convictions. I can tell you from experience that it does not take much of an allegation for CID or NCIS to come knocking on your door. Recently a soldier on my FOB was investigated and spared courts martial only through bad paperwork for detainee abuse. His crime? The horrific torture of writing the word “pussy” on a detainee’s forehead with permanent marker.

Every detainee is photographed and examined by the medics immediately upon intake, this documents the condition in which he arrived. The detainee then may be held for no more than 18 hours before he must either be released or transferred. As I have just returned from a detainee run, allow me to explain the process. From my FOB to the next higher detention facility is a 67 mile one way trip. The road is abundant with concrete patchwork to fill in the holes from the ubiquitous IEDs. The trip must be made with no less than four vehicles so that it may self extract and self medivac if it is ambushed en route. The round trip for four trucks burns at a minimum 100 gallons of JP8. The run must be made daily, even if there is only one prisoner in the holding cell.

Twelve men and four vehicles that could be better put to use patrolling our sector are squandered on these excessive detainee runs. We traverse a heavily mined road risking life, limb and equipment and needlessly waste resources in order to avoid even the possibility of suspicion.

War may be an extension of politics, but that gives politicians no right to dictate its execution.

by John on May 19, 2006

May 18, 2006

Canada@War

With the death in combat of Captain Goddard fresh in their minds and the news, the Canadian Parliament last night voted to extend the Canadian Forces commitment to the GWOT for two years, though not without some, er, rancor and the usual politics (just like we do).

Good on 'em.

A commenter on Damian's post of Captain Goddard had this to say:

Observor69 said... It behoves Mr.Harper to allow parliament an appropriate amount of time to discuss reasonable questions that arise in approving the deployment of our personal for another two years. No one that I am aware of lacks a desire to "support our troops" rather there is a desire to act in their best interests. As was stated this issue should stand above politics.

True enough - though I caveat that thusly:

Observor69: Canada's Parliament, on this issue, I would think should not "act in their best interests" if the interest in question is that of the soldiers.

They should act in Canada's best interest. The two are not automatically congruent.

The issue in question is far greater than that of the health and welfare of the soldiers.

Just ask the guys who waded ashore at Juno, or Omaha.

Emphasis added.

Girl On The Right nails it, I think.

The newspapers today have screaming headlines about how a woman was killed in combat. Where are the feminists, now? Just like there are no athiests in the foxhole, there are no women on the battlefield. She ceased being a woman on the day she first saw action. She became a soldier.

Someone lost their daughter, but Canada lost a soldier.

Regardless, a moment of Gunner Zen. In honor of "Captain Nic".

Hosting provided by FotoTime

Update: In re Ry's comment below - here is Alan's post on the subject.

by John on May 18, 2006
» The Cool Blue Blog links with: Star Chores: Alien Abduction

May 17, 2006

Ubique

rca.gif

Close Station. March Order.

Canada loses her first female soldier since World War II.

A Gunner.

Captain Nichola Kathleen Sarah Goddard.  Photo courtesy Canadian Ministry of Defence

Canadian Soldier killed in Afghanistan CEFCOM NR–06.009 - May 17, 2006

OTTAWA – A Canadian soldier was killed during a firefight with insurgents that occurred approximately 24 kilometres west of Kandahar. The incident occurred at approximately 6:55 p.m. Kandahar time (10: 25 a.m. EDT) on 17 May.

Killed was Captain Nichola Kathleen Sarah Goddard who was serving with Task Force Afghanistan as part of the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (1 PPCLI) Battle Group. Captain Goddard was stationed with the 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in Shilo, Manitoba; her next-of-kin have been notified.

Canadian Gunners. Photo courtesy Canadian Ministry of Defence


H/t, Damian, of The Torch.


Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

Smokey Smith probably already has a beer poured. And Jimmy Doohan is there to explain why there's not enough power, Captain!

Now - will Canada stand firm? Or, waver?

by John on May 17, 2006
» MilBlogs links with: Canada@War.
» Girl on the Right links with: The Fallen

May 15, 2006

The dirty little jobs of war...

Boquisucio - this one's for you, it's about your homies.

Spc. Vincent Rivera (left), Sgt. Derrick Johnson and Staff Sgt. Eric Patterson (right), all of the 597th Quartermaster Company prepare shipping containers to redeploy to Puerto Rico after nearly a year of constantly changing missions. Taken On: 03/31/2006  Photographer: Sgt. Jason Mikworth  Photo courtesy US Army.

Spc. Vincent Rivera (left), Sgt. Derrick Johnson and Staff Sgt. Eric Patterson (right), all of the 597th Quartermaster Company prepare shipping containers to redeploy to Puerto Rico after nearly a year of constantly changing missions. Taken On: 03/31/2006 Photographer: Sgt. Jason Mikworth Photo courtesy US Army.


Soldiers first, all other duties second:
Spc. Jose Perez, a laundry specialist with the 597th, said a group from the unit’s 2nd Platoon was re-tasked from normal SLCR team operations to operating gun truck security for the 57th Transportation Company before entering Iraq.

“We were at Camp Al Asad for about six months providing gun truck security,” Perez said. “Some of our runs were about 12 hours long.”

Perez said he still remembers the first time he encountered an improvised explosive device.

“The first scary moment was when we were driving under a bridge that was under construction,” said Perez. “An IED hit the last truck and wounded the gunner.”

Perez described another incident when the Marines encountered an IED and called for assistance.

Keep that in mind as you read the rest.

Shower, Laundry Unit Cleans Up Soldiers, Marines Written by Sgt. Jason Mikeworth, 207th MPAD

CAMP AL TAQQADUM, Iraq - The 597th Quartermaster Company contributes to the health, safety and morale of Soldiers and Marines with their services across western Iraq.

An Army Reserve unit from Puerto Rico, the 597th helps to provide showers and laundry services for servicemembers at Camps Fallujah, Habbinyah, Al Taqqadum and Corregidor. They also provide clothing repair services to Soldiers and Marines to keep uniforms in serviceable condition.

The accomplishment of the shower, laundry and clothing repair (SLCR) mission is only part of what the unit has been assigned.

Spc. Jose Perez, a laundry specialist with the 597th, said a group from the unit’s 2nd Platoon was re-tasked from normal SLCR team operations to operating gun truck security for the 57th Transportation Company before entering Iraq.

“We were at Camp Al Asad for about six months providing gun truck security,” Perez said. “Some of our runs were about 12 hours long.”

Perez said he still remembers the first time he encountered an improvised explosive device.

“The first scary moment was when we were driving under a bridge that was under construction,” said Perez. “An IED hit the last truck and wounded the gunner.”

Perez described another incident when the Marines encountered an IED and called for assistance.

“We were running to make a small quick reaction force,” Perez said. “The ambulance was driving faster than the other trucks when an IED went off. The driver was wounded, and Sergeant Jameson was killed.”

The Combat Medic Training Center at Logistical Support Area Anaconda is named in honor of Sgt. 1st Class Tricia L. Jameson.

“It was a horrible day,” Perez said.

After driving more than 30,000 miles in six months, the Soldiers of the 597th traded in their gun trucks and resumed their roles on SLCR teams.

“Fallujah is the bigger mission,” said Perez. “They get about 1,200 bundles of laundry a day, and they complete it in less than 24 hours. Sometimes the people there are working up to 14 or 16 hours a day.”

He said he has mixed emotions about his experiences in Iraq.

“Our experience over here has been good and bad,” said Perez. “It’s a good experience that you don’t want to live again.”

Sgt. Ramon Roldan, a team leader with 2nd Platoon, said the Soldiers adapted quickly to their new mission.

“We were at Al Asad doing convoy escort missions from there to the Jordanian border and back,” Roldan said. “That was our first mission. After a few months, we started doing cordon and search missions too.”

Although performing gun truck missions isn’t what he expected to do in Iraq, Roldan said the 597th didn’t shy away from the assignment.

“I just thought, ‘Ok, that’s going to be our mission, so let’s do what we have to do,’” said Roldan. “We’re Soldiers before anything else.”

Roldan said the hardest part of the mission was looking out for IEDs and keeping the traffic under control, but teamwork made the mission easier.

“My Soldiers did a very good job. The gunners were always alert and the drivers paid attention to detail, especially when we were running the ‘rat patrol’ position as the scout vehicle,” said Roldan.

Roldan said transitioning from laundry services to operating gun trucks wasn’t difficult. He noted the unit’s normal wartime mission would keep them close to the front.

“The purpose of laundry units is to go to the front lines and give direct support to the infantry coming in and out of their missions,” Roldan said. “We are one of the first ones called when any conflict starts.”

Master Sgt. Omar Rivera, the platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon, said the mission change wasn’t shocking.

“We were getting ready to drive in from Kuwait, but once we heard we were going to do the gun truck mission we had to focus a little more,” Rivera said. “We had to adjust ourselves to be outside of the wire most of the time.”

Rivera admits he was concerned at first, but said his Soldiers performed well.

“I was a little worried at first, to tell you the truth, but once we started focusing on the mission things began to flow easier,” Rivera said. “The 57th commander loved our guys. They never missed a mission. It was a tough run, a tough mission. I truly believe that they did outstanding.”

After the gun truck mission was completed, Rivera’s Soldiers returned to Al Taqqadum and were reassigned to SLCR teams supporting 5 different camps.

“During that time, we had Habbinyah, Fallujah, Corregidor, Dogwood, and Iskandariyah,” said Rivera. “During that mission, they performed above standards. Our doctrine says we have to return clothes within 48 to 72 hours. We have been able to do that in 24.”

Rivera said he is proud of the SLCR mission.

“It’s providing morale for the Soldiers,” Rivera said. “You need to have clean clothes and showers to operate better.”

Roldan offered advice for any Soldiers preparing to deploy who think their mission is already set in place.

“They have to be here to understand the mission,