Friday, April 16, 2004


I've just returned from a briefing by a senior officer from the 1st Armor Division who flew back here especially to talk to family members in light of the recent extension.

It was a good briefing...and frankly, he took some liberties and shared with us a surprising level of detail.

Out of concern for the security and well being of our Soldiers I'm not going to publish those details on the world wide web.

Instead, I'll give a summary...and if you've come to trust me over the time you've been reading here...then now is the time to apply it. Generally these comments are about 1st Brigade. I have no information on 2d Brigade.

1st Point: If we are sad that the 1st Brigade has been extended there is, from my perspective, very good reason to be HAPPY about the (currently planned) mission of the 1st Brigade and their location to be.'ll just have to trust me. No place in that country is without danger...but there are more dangerous locations and missions than those we are inheriting. For some in the Brigade, sleeping, showering and dining conditions may actually improve soon over what they've been used to. Wait for your soldier to contact you and chances are you will get the details that will make sense of this.

2d Point: If you see it in the popular media there is a 90% chance that it is wrong or incomplete on some important detail. Why? The media doesn't "get it"...meaning they don't understand military operations, terrorism, the vagueries of birthing democracy. The media isn't embedded with the soldiers seeing from the inside...the top notch reporters, as a rule, have been pulled out of the area, leaving us with young, hungry guys who want to make a name for themselves....and how do you do that? Well, it isn't by reporting happy stories, apparently...nor buy covering the big stories that aren't "convenient" to cover. He said "I've been studying military history for 30 years...and the recent battle of Kut, which no one reported, is the most significant military reversal in the shortest time I've ever heard of. You'll be impressed when somebody finally writes the story."

3d Point: Our guys may go through a period in which their ability to communicate with the loved ones at home may decline. However, a special task force in the Division is already working on additional quality of life initiatives.

4th Point: The G1 (Personnel Officer) of the Army has said that assignments that were programmed but affected by this extension will be honored...if you thought you were going to Fort X, you will go to Fort X.

5th Point: We are fighting 4 enemies in Iraq. Islamic extremists from within the country, terrorists who have come to Iraq, former Baath party dead-enders and finally, criminals.

6th Point: The uprising last week was "relatively minor". And if you've seen reports that al Sadr is offering to negotiate, well, there "ain't gonna be any negotiations".

Take heart...the saga of the Ready First Combat Team is better than it might look from where we sit.

I trust'll have to trust me.

Day 341.

And I apologize, but my real life is requiring my presence my online life is almost nil. Between the dentist and clients and Generals from 1AD coming to speak to family members, there is just no time to update today...although if I find a spare minute, you know I will.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

An official Iranian delegation arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday to mediate between Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the United States, a Shi'ite political source said.

The source said the delegation, led by senior diplomats, met Iraqi officials and was expected to travel soon to the holy city of Najaf, where U.S. forces are preparing for a possible offensive to capture or kill Sadr.

Iran said the United States had sought its help in tackling the violence in Iraq. Sadr's political foes say Iran helps finance the anti-U.S. cleric.

This weeks most absurd headline.

Tossing back live grenades. Wow.
The Marines in the armored vehicle fled into a nearby building, where they waited to be rescued. They threw back grenades that insurgents tossed over the wall and listened to gunmen whisper outside.
Its a good story about the tactical situation in Fallujah. Have a look.
The top Army command in Europe says a final decision on extending 1st Armored Division soldiers in Iraq has been made. Details, however, aren’t being released.

A spokeswoman for Gen. B.B. Bell, the chief of U.S. Army Europe, said soldiers and family members were being notified Wednesday through family support networks and command channels.

“The families and soldiers have been notified of the status of 1 AD. However, we are awaiting the official announcement from Washington,” Lt. Col. Jane Crichton said Wednesday.

“We expect an announcement shortly,” she added, declining to elaborate.
Indeed, we family members have been notified. The notice says, in part
The commander. US Central Command has requested, and the Department of Defense has directed that soldiers of the First Armored Division remain in Iraq for up to an additional 90 days. Redeployment through Kuwait will add an additional amount of time to the total deployment.
Watch for a press release from the Pentagon today.

UPDATE: Guess it has already happened.
The bulk of the retained force consists of combat troops: 14,300 from the 1st Armored Division (including an attached aviation unit) and 2,800 from the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

Filling out the list are smaller supporting elements, including three units of engineers totaling 1,150 soldiers; an air ambulance crew with 130 members; an aviation company with 114 troops; 70 military police, and 20 surgical workers.

In addition, officials said, 12 transport companies and one maintenance company will be kept in Kuwait. Each company has about 150 troops...

Pentagon officials have raised the possibility that the next rotation of forces into Iraq, currently planned to start in September and run through January, could be moved up to sustain the higher troop level after the current extensions end.
And note that last paragraph...
THURSDAY, April 15th.

This is day 340.

Our girl called last night! First communique since Sunday. She's been given a job upgrade. As of last night she now bears the callsign "Ready Four". Which means that her job new job is that of S4 (logistics officer) on the Brigade Staff.

She has moved from her old camp to the Brigade HQ...has new digs, more responsibility, the whole nine yards.

I'm glad for is a lot of work, but she's not afraid of work...and it gives her a new challenge to sink her teeth into.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Folks...I got an email tonight from a young lady in the States. Her brother is in the 16th Engineers.

She recently learned of his extension...and apparently only today has also stumbled upon CPT Patti's website.

She asked if there were someway to have access to the information that 16th Eng families get...and I'm thinking certainly one of you could help get her on the FRG email distribution.

So...if you have a connection with the 16th Engineers...please write to me so we can help this gal. From reading her note, it seems as if she and her brother are all the family they have for one another. Let's get her in the information loop please.

Contact me at cptpattiinbaghdad @ yahoo . com


To visit the America I live in.

Here is a link to Andy Rooney's latest missive...I wont do him the honor of quoting him on CPT Patti's website. You can read the absurdist writings at the link.

But I will answer in part:

To question 1 regarding our doing the right thing. Says the LT
"I am proud of my soldiers and the job we are doing. I am proud of my country, and believe in the decisions of the President who asked me to be here."
To questions 2 and 3 regarding doing what we are supposed to be doing and the sensibleness of the orders, The nurse said
"I didn't talk to a single soldier that didn't know why we were there and think we should be," said Palmer. "Good things are being done in that country. We are helping them get back on their feet, and they do appreciate what we are doing."
To question 4 regarding a medal or a trip home, which is like asking if you'd like one shoe or would you rather have the pair, the Specialist replied
If I said that I wasn't happy to be goIng back to Germany, seeing my family when they fly over to see me, then continuing to take 30 days leave and having this HUGE house party that my mom planned for me, I would most definently be lying. I have missed my friends and my family more then anything in the world since I have been over here, and I am ecstatic to see them, no doubt.

However, knowing that I am leaving behind fellow soldiers really takes a toll on me too. So many of my friends and the people I have considered my family for the last year are still over there. These people who I have taken care of, had their backs, like they had mine, for the last 365 days--are still out there. It hurts me, and in a way I feel like I abandoned them.

So as much as I'm happy to be able to be safe, these people will be on my mind every minute of everyday, until they, too, are home safely.
And to question 5, regarding the encouragement by folks who support the soldiers, several soldiers respond in letters to the Lutz Patriots
Hello, I'd like to start off by thanking you all for what you are doing for us. It means a lot to me and my soldiers to know that someone cares. I'll tell you a little about myself and what is going on here where I am. I am married with 2 children, and I've been in the military for 14 years. I've been a paratrooper for 14 years and stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina for 11 years. I'm a jumpmaster and the 82nd Airborne Division Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year for 2003. We are in the town of Fallujah West of Baghdad.... We will not give up hope. We will keep trying. We will defend at any price. We are part of the best division on earth... the All American Division... America's Guard of Honor... The 82nd Airborne Division ! Never Forget Us ! SFC Johnson

...I'd like to say thanks for your support. That means a lot to me. I really appreciate it....

...It is truly astounding that so many people would support what we are doing over here in Iraq. For that I cannot begin to express my thanks...

...I want to say thank you for your support to us. It is very pleasant for me to know that we got people like you that are interested in helping us thru this hard time...Well one more time THANK YOU A LOT ! And one day I will like to say thank you in person. God Bless You !...

(note: taken from an email shared with me by the Lutz Patiots, quoting letters written to them thanking them for their support)
Oh...and CPT Will answers question 5, while also addressing the issue of being a "Hero". Recall that CPT Will was wounded by a mortar round, had skin graft surgery on his leg, and returned to Baghdad. CPT Will says (see November 10th entry)
Want to thank everyone for their messages of support. They have really helped me keep a positive attitude and continue to heal. Although I am not comfortable in being called a Hero it is great to see support for soldiers. Don't think it is to heroic to be discussing issues with my supply sergeant and then having a mortar round explode next to me. It is by the Grace of God that I can walk and have all of my body parts.
Do any of these soldiers sound like victims, Mr. Rooney? They don't to me. They are Soldiers, proud of their service.

Mr. Rooney, you chose to cite one statistic...suicides among our forces. Sir, may I invite you to look for other statistics? How about these for instance
The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) celebrated America's 227th birthday in grand style the Fourth at the division headquarters, located at the palace overlooking the banks of the Tigris River.

The Independence Day festivities culminated in a mass reenlistment ceremony, where 158 Screaming Eagles stepped forward, raised right hands in front of their fellow soldiers and swore to continue defending the Constitution of the United Sates.
You cite Mr. Rooney another statistic...that 40 percent of our soldiers are in the Guard and Reserve which they joined for money and never expected to be called up. To that, again, a young first-term soldier wrote to the Lutz Patriots
I originally joined the Army so that I could pay for college. That way I could work on my writing skills and reach at least one of my goals by publishing at least one book. My true goal is to become a graphics designer. I guess I'm here in Iraq because ... well I was told I had to go. Either way though I'm proud to be here trying to help out the Iraqi people
It appears you underestimate the American Soldier, Mr. Rooney. It appears you assign to them the status of victim where they do not consider themselves such.

You impugn ribbons and medals, when you miss the point that those are testaments of a job well done, one to be proud of. You call them tricks, Mr. Rooney. And in so doing you insult every Soldier who strives every day to do his job and to do it well...a slap in the face for achieving excellence. Medals are symbols of accomplishment Mr. Rooney. A sign to the Soldier and the world that says "Look...I strive to do the right and best thing, because they are the right and best thing...not because I seek wealth." In the America I live in Mr. Rooney, that's a pretty admirable thing.

And it would seem Mr. Rooney that in your world an oath, such as is taken upon enlistment, means very little. Well, sir, to Soldiers...including the Guardsmen and Reservists, an oath still represents "my word". And in the America we live in, Mr. Rooney...our word is our bond.

Drop by, Mr. Rooney...drop by to visit the America I live in. From here you can see the youth of America who aren't perforated and doing drugs, From here you can see husbands, wives and parents who still cover their heart with their hand when the National Anthem plays...and whose eyes mist over at the same time.

And from here, Mr. Rooney...if we stand high enough atop the bluff...from here you can see straight back to Fort McHenry, Valley Forge, clear to Bunker Hill.

And that noise, Mr. Rooney...that noise you hear...why that is the echo of the shot heard round the world.

We hear that everyday in the America I live in.

You know what Mr. Rooney...I've never ever heard of someone who did something heroic lay claim to the title of hero. Like CPT Will, they tend to say, "I was just doing my job" or, "anyone in my place would have done the same thing". No, Mr. would seem that hero is in the eye of the beholder.

I consider our soldiers, including my wife to be heroes for what they've done on behalf of the American and Iraqi people. I consider them heroes, Mr. Rooney, not for being where we sent them as you put it...but for what they've done while they are there. In the America I live in, Mr. Rooney, lots of folks consider them heroes.

Why can't you?

Tony Blair on why we cannot abandon Iraq.
I have come firmly to believe the only ultimate security lies in our values. The more people are free, the more tolerant they are of others; the more prosperous, the less inclined they are to squander that prosperity on pointless feuding and war.

But our greatest threat, apart from the immediate one of terrorism, is our complacency. When some ascribe, as they do, the upsurge in Islamic extremism to Iraq, do they really forget who killed whom on September 11, 2001? When they call on us to bring the troops home, do they seriously think that this would slake the thirst of these extremists, to say nothing of what it would do to the Iraqis?

Or if we scorned our American allies and told them to go and fight on their own, that somehow we would be spared? If we withdraw from Iraq, they will tell us to withdraw from Afghanistan and, after that, to withdraw from the Middle East completely and, after that, who knows? But one thing is for sure: they have faith in our weakness just as they have faith in their own religious fanaticism. And the weaker we are, the more they will come after us.

It is not easy to persuade people of all this; to say that terrorism and unstable states with WMD are just two sides of the same coin; to tell people what they don't want to hear; that, in a world in which we in the West enjoy all the pleasures, profound and trivial, of modern existence, we are in grave danger.

There is a battle we have to fight, a struggle we have to win and it is happening now in Iraq.
Reporters Without Borders today condemned the virulent criticism expressed by the US army and by Muwaffak al-Rubai, formerly a member of the Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council, towards the two Arabic satellite TV news stations Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera, which they accused of inciting violence, lying and being "anti-coalition."

The organisation said the accusations "overstepped the limits" and "denied the right to editorial independence."

It also urged the governing council not to impose any new restriction on the ability of these two Arabic-language news media from working freely in Iraq. At the end of 2003, Al-Arabiya was banned from working and its bureaux in Baghdad were closed for two months. In January of this year, Al-Jazeera was banned from covering the activities of the governing council for a month.

Reporters Without Borders said that, despite legitimate security concerns, it was "unacceptable" that the commander of the US forces and other senior US officials in Iraq describe certain news media as "anti-coalition."

Such remarks were dangerous just three weeks after two journalists with Al-Arabiya were killed by US gunfire while on the job, the organisation said. They could be interpreted by troops, who are having a trying time in the field, as meaning that some journalists are enemies and therefore legitimate targets.
Here is a news flash, reporters. Soldiers have a job to do. The soldier's mission supercedes all other missions. It simply has to be that way. Stay out of their way and you should be OK. No soldier is going to target you. They don't target non-combatants. Occasionally bad things happen...rarely a soldier steps out of line...but it is highly unlikely that a soldier will target you as a reporter being a reporter.

Now...consider the flip side. These so-called news agencies you point out as being discriminated against...they show endless loops of Americans being burned and mutilated in the streets. Every thug and terrorist who can't be heard from across the room normally knows that they can simply drop a tape off at your door step and instantly their vitriolic hate filled message inciting the masses to rise up and kill our soldiers will be given wide and endless play from those louse-filled outlets. can't have it both ways. Afraid our actions will make your guys targets, when you don't have any compunction about your actions making our guys targets.
About 2,500 U.S. soldiers have massed outside Najaf, prepared for a showdown with radical Shiite Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who sounds defiant and says he is ready "to sacrifice my blood."

Al-Sadr told a Lebanon TV news station that he would pursue his continue "popular revolution" to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

"I fear only God. I am ready to sacrifice my blood for this country," he said.
To which numerous recently extended soldiers of the United States Army no doubt replied "Good, we're happy to oblige." I note however that this pinhead's death will not be "for this country" will be for his own aggrandizement. Meanwhile,
The U.S. sounds ready to answer his call. Earlier, Lt. Gen. Richardo Sanchez, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said the mission is to "capture or kill" al-Sadr.

The American units have set up a perimeter around Najaf to prevent militants from leaving.

Meanwhile, Iraqi leaders have launched frantic negotiations to try and head off a U.S. assault on Najaf. As the site of the Imam Ali Shrine, Shiite Muslims consider it to be the third holiest city in Islam.

Al-Sadr was seen leaving the shrine Monday night, after meeting with the sons of Iraq's three grand ayatollahs including Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani. Despite tough talk from the Americans and al-Sadr, those talks appear to be continuing in an effort to prevent bloodshed.

The U.S. commander of the force said his unit was aware of the political complexities of an assault on Najaf.

"Look at this as the Shiite Vatican," Col. Dana J.H. Pittard told The Association Press.

Al-Sadr's militia, the al-Mehdi Army, has fought with coalition troops in recent days. At one point it took control of some government buildings and police stations in three southern Iraq cities.

However, his fighters have pulled back somewhat in Najaf, Karbala and Kufa.

The U.S. wants the al-Mehdi Army to disband, a demand that al-Sadr has rejected.
What the Pinhead fails to grasp is that he isn't in much of a position to bargain. The Iraqi Governing Council gets that option. The 135,000 soldiers of the US Army in Iraq intend to see to it that democracy in some form happens under an orderly process.

One rabble rouser whipping up the riff raff in the streets in order to gain power? No thanks, al-Sadr. One Saddam per millenium is quite plenty.

Still, the story unfolds
An Iraqi envoy appointed by Moqtada al-Sadr said on Wednesday the Shi'ite cleric had asked him to convey a set of peace proposals to U.S. officials.

Sadr's supporters have been rising up against the U.S.-led occupying forces in south and central Iraq.

The United States has said it will kill or capture Sadr and destroy his militia, and has brought extra troops to the outskirts of Najaf, where the radical cleric is thought to be.

"Sayyed Moqtada made positive proposals to end the crisis. I cannot disclose the details. He realizes that an armed confrontation is not in anybody's interest," Abdelkarim al-Anzi told Reuters in Baghdad.
True...least of all, his.

Remember the piece by John Galt in which he said
Ants. A wise man once told me about the ant theory to control people. You put some sugar on the table. The ants will gather around it and look. One ant will eventually venture forth and go for the sugar. You take a huge hammer and smash that ant. The others get the message and go elsewhere. It’s a bumbling homily but fairly correct.
Well, it would appear its Hammer Time. And we have just the guys to do it.
Iraq is planning to open the Baghdad and Basra airports to regular commercial flights at the beginning of July, Iraq's civil aviation director, Fakher Faraj, was quoted as saying here Tuesday.
"We plan to reopen Baghdad and Basra airports for civil use in the beginning of July as part of a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate all Iraqi airports and reopen them," Faraj told the official KUNA news agency.

The plan also stipulates reopening Mosul airport, the development of Arbil and Kirkuk airports, as well as constructing a new modern airport in the Shiite religious city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, he said.

Charlie Daniel's to perform in Wiesbaden...that is the garrison home of the 1AD.

Wonder who will attend now? Perhaps a lot of family members...I might.
The Charlie Daniels Band will perform May 6 at Wiesbaden Army Airfield in what could have been a roaring welcome home party for 1st Armored Division troops.

Many of the post’s soldiers were supposed to be returning from Iraq following a yearlong deployment, but many have been told to expect to remain in the combat zone into the summer. So the airfield — which serves as the headquarters for the “Old Ironsides” division — sits nearly empty.

The concert had been announced in March as part of the division’s reintegration program for returning soldiers. But officials have shelved plans to call the concert a “reunion celebration.”

A spokesman for Gen. B.B. Bell, the Army’s top commander in Europe, denied the concert was ever intended as a welcome home bash.

The division’s planned return “had nothing to do with the fact that [Charlie Daniels] is playing at Wiesbaden,” said Robert Purtiman. “The only reason they chose that place is because of its central location.”

Not so, say officials for the Army’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation European division, which is sponsoring the concert.

“Originally, this was supposed to be a welcome home party for the division,” said Laura Waid, who’s helping organize the concert for MWR. “The idea was to make this a reunion celebration, but now it doesn’t look like that’s the best title for it.”

I'm disturbed that the spokesman for the US Army Europe commander says this wasn't to be a welcome home bash...and goes on to say the site was selected for its "central location". Wiesbaden is central to Army posts in Germany as West Virginia is "central" to the United States.

I hope he just got bad information...we don't need spin from our own guys.

This is day 339 of CPT Patti's deployment.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004


An extract from an email sent by one soldier to her mother...upon the news that her unit will be returning to Germany very soon...and leaving others behind.
Finally this morning we got a call from General Dempsey saying that 1-4 ADA WILL deactivate as a WHOLE unit, and they will NOT pick and choose certain individuals to go back to Iraq, so this morning the Chaplain and the PA were reunited with us, and in about a week we should all be heading back to Germany, as one.

You might think that I should be happy about this?

Am I?

If I said that I wasn't happy to be gong back to Germany, seeing my family when they fly over to see me, then continuing to take 30 days leave and having this HUGE house party that my mom planned for me, I would most definently be lying. I have missed my friends and my family more then anything in the world since I have been over here, and I am ecstatic to see them, no doubt.

However, knowing that I am leaving behind fellow soldiers really takes a toll on me too. So many of my friends and the people I have considered my family for the last year are still over there. The places that my unit and my battalion have kept unharmed for the last year are getting bombed and shot up everyday. The people who we trained to take over our positions are dying in the same spots where we stood not even a week ago. These people who I have taken care of, had their backs, like they had mine, for the last 365 days--are still out there. It hurts me, and in a way I feel like I abandoned them.

So as much as I'm happy to be able to be safe, these people will be on my mind every minute of everyday, until they, too, are home safely.

Please remember that this war is still going on. Now, more then ever, people are dying, people are getting hurt. It's not a joke. It's not something that is fake. This is a reality. I came to that conclusion 3 days ago when I stood outside my 5 ton seeing the bullet hole that easily could have killed me. It's not a joke, its not something that "doesn't happen to me." It's happening to YOUR sons and daughters, to your friends and families, and they need your support. Don't forget them in your prayers every night.
Beckie, we are glad your daughter is homeward bound...and proud to have such a wonderful person on our team.

It paints "the military" as some faceless big brother organization destined for mind control.
The new technologies have had a potent impact on the military, ending its monopoly over the supply of news and entertainment for American troops serving in a foreign land whose borders include a language barrier.

Senior officers have responded with daily newsletters for unit commanders and the troops via e-mail. The American Forces Network continues to splice official messages into its satellite TV programming and mingle them with the songs on its radio station here.
Note the references to AFN radio and TV. The NYT would have you believe these messages "spliced in" are some sort of psycholigical warfare against our own troops. The author doesn't have the journalistic curiousity to find out that AFN wouldn't exist if it wanted to play the commercials in those slots.

We get programming for free from the networks and cable precisely because no advertiser is making a dime off the transmissions around the world. Leave the commercials in, and AFN is out of business because there is no budget to buy the programming. So, yes, they fill the "holes" with various spots targeted at the force...there are "tobacco is bad" spots, "don't drink and drive" spots, and news breaks with the leadership in DC, Florida (CENTCOM HQs) and Iraq getting their message across. What decent organization doesn't try to keep its workforce in formed? The last thing we want/need are soldiers who are just clueless and in the dark...rather like you, Mr. NYT Reporter.

Monopoly on news Mr. NYT reporter? The AFN News channel collects the feed directly from ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN and Fox. Explain how the "military" holds a monopoly on the news, Mr. NYT Reporter.

And we have, and have had since WWII the Stars and Stripes newspaper. It writes stories on the military that the NYT doesn't...stories that require the reporter to get right in the thick of things and learn these soldiers names. But Stripes also pulls stories from the AP and other wire services, as it has done for over 50 years, Mr. NYT reporter. So this doesn't represent a "new" technology to erode the "military's monopoly" over media, now does it genius? Interestingly, when CPT Patti was home for the brief period in December, she told me that most soldiers won't read Stripes because of all the negative and inaccurate stories in it. But when we disected that objection we found it was actually the Wire Service reports that torqued off the soldiers.

Frankly, you are so full of ignorance and bias you make me sick, and you do a grave disservice to the only national asset that can guarantee you the right to get up and freely speak your inaacuracies again tomorrow.

Thing is, there is a story to be told about the technology advances. Except you couldn't bring yourself to write it without slipping in your ignorant, liberal bias.

On 1 April 2003, he wrote about Iraq -- only two weeks after the fight began -- using nearly identical words: "Is it just me or is there a smell of Vietnam in the desert air?" Baghdad fell just over a week later. (Answer: it was just you.) The every-war-is-Vietnam meme has spread throughout the Left like a malevolent virus, until every minor setback facing our troops anywhere in the world is almost gleefully hailed as "the new Vietnam," though most of our armed forces weren't even born when Vietnam ended.

Why the fascination with Vietnam? Simple: it's the only war the LEFT ever won. And they did it -- intentionally or not -- by propping up our enemy and demoralising our own troops with vehemently anti-American rhetoric. In his book Telltale Hearts: The Origins and Impact of the Vietnam Anti-War Movement, Adam Garfinkle of the Foreign Policy Research Institute detailed how the anti-war protesters actually prolonged the Vietnam War. Their strident and visible attacks on American resolve both damaged the morale of American troops and spurred the North Vietnamese to fight on. In his 1985 memoir about the war, North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap credited protest groups -- like John Kerry's Vietnam Veterans Against the War -- for helping him achieve victory. Now, the Left is doing it again...

Meanwhile, John Kerry attacked President Bush for shutting down al-Sadr's revolution-inciting newspaper Hawza, calling it "a legitimate voice in Iraq" (before taking back the word "legitimate"). Kerry then went on to say of al-Sadr, "he has clearly taken on a far more radical tone in recent days and aligned himself with both Hamas and Hezbollah, which is a sort of terrorist alignment." Sort of?

When the Democrats and Islamo-fascist terrorists are singing from the same hymn book, and the Democratic candidate for President can't even recognise terrorist groups as terrorists, how can anyone help but wonder who's really on America's side?
Some fifteen Bulgarian soldiers have filed requests to quit Bulgaria's infantry unit in Karbala after a week of fighting with radical Shiites.

Amid mounting public pressure for Iraq pullout Defence Minister Nikolay Svinarov announced that the Bulgarian camp can be relocated some fifteen kilometers away from Karbala center.

No definitive decision on the issue has been taken yet, he added.

The minister is expected to make a report on the situation in Karbala to the parliamentary foreign policy, defence and security commission on April 22.

There are several requests from Bulgarian soldiers to return home. This comes as no surprise and may happen everywhere in the world where international missions are deployed, Foreign Minister Solomon Passy told private bTV channel earlier in the day.

He said that anybody who wants to return from Karbala is free to do so as the mission has been recruited on a voluntary basis.
Protesters may shout and relatives of the hostages plead, but Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi really has only one viable option: keep his troops in Iraq.

Where ya been? And might you add murder and mutilation to the list?
An anti-kidnapping fatwa issued by Muslim clerics failed to prevent 11 Russian civilians from being abducted Monday in Iraq, and efforts to broker a full cease-fire in Fallujah were reportedly making slow progress.

Seven Chinese men were freed by their captors Monday, but the fate of some 20 other kidnapped foreign civilians, including the Russians, remains uncertain...

Meanwhile, Mohsen Abdel Hamid, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, said other hostages had been released this weekend after the Committee of Muslim Clerics issued a religious edict, or fatwa, against kidnapping.

"Islamic clerics and parties and all the wise people of Iraq have strongly denounced the act of taking hostages, and they issued a fatwa banning this act," Hamid said.

"And yesterday night, we made contacts with some people at these places, and we hope that the rest of the hostages would be released today, God willing, as we all believe that it is not in the interests of the Iraqi people and does not reflect their morals," he said.
“Over here, facing death, so many [Soldiers] have died just this past week,” Moran continued. “We are not facing Easter the same way. I think that makes today a very poignant celebration. It helps us to look at Easter the way they did the first time and to listen for Christ calling our name.”

As they struggled to explain the unnerving drop-off in Shi'ite support for the occupation, some U.S. officials suggested a familiar foe might be helping to stoke the uprising. "We know the Iranians have been meddling," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters last week. "And it's unhelpful to have neighboring countries meddling in the affairs of Iraq."
Can't say for sure...but the Iranians certainly have proven they love the kidnap tactic...and all of a sudden there are all kinds of kidnappings.

In downtown Baghdad
A red Hyundai sports coupe graces Iraq's first new-car showroom, opened last week as violence rose to levels not seen since the war.
"We have sold 38 Hyundais already, but no coupes. They are considered too flashy in these circumstances," said Nihad Abdul Rahman, assistant general manager of Al-Kasid, exclusive agents for selling Hyundai Motor Co. cars in Iraq.

"Iraqis are looking for something affordable and reliable, and Hyundai fits the bill," he said after selling a $10,200 Elantra to a retired officer...

"We are merchants, and part of our profession is taking risks. The country is still in a war mode, but at least Iraqis have choice," Rahman said.


And who can blame them...I'm tired of it too.
Many troops in Iraq say media reports coming out of the country — and arriving on the television sets or doorsteps of their families’ homes in the States — aren’t capturing the whole picture. Some days in Iraq are much better than stories typically portray.

“You can’t judge 15 million people by the actions of 10,000,” says Spc. Brent Brendel, a member of the 1st Armored Division’s 1st Brigade from Friedberg, Germany. “I see the news media doing that a lot. That the Iraqis don’t want us here. And that’s just not the case.”


Regarding the selection of which units stay in Iraq...GEN Abizaid tips his hand pretty good.
“I know everyone wants me to name the units and where it’s coming from, and how it’s coming, and I’m simply not going to answer that question, because I don’t know,” Abizaid said.

However, Abizaid said, “I think all of us, especially those of you that are in Europe, understand that we’ve already added forces outside of the 1st Armored Division’s normal area (Baghdad), down into the south, into the Al Kut area,” he said. “And it’s logical to assume that there will be a delay in the arrival of some of those forces … home.”

“As far as what comes next and for how long, I don’t want to get into that,” Abizaid said.

An aide to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was detained by U.S. troops in a Baghdad hotel on Tuesday and taken away in an armored U.S. military vehicle, witnesses said.

An Iraqi policeman and other witnesses said Hazem al-Araji, a cleric and aide to Sadr for a northern Baghdad district, was led out of a service entrance of the Palestine Hotel and into a waiting vehicle before being driven off...

Sadr, a virulently anti-American cleric, has led a violent Shi'ite uprising in some areas of Baghdad and across southern Iraq. His Mehdi Army militia briefly seized control of several southern towns and is still said to be in control of the holy cities of Kerbala and Najaf.

U.S. commanders have moved additional forces to Najaf and Kerbala and said their mission is to kill or capture Sadr and destroy his militia forces, believed to number around 5,000.
A top US military commander has requested the equivalent of two mobile combat brigades to help the campaign to put down Iraqi insurgents.

General John Abizaid, the head of Central Command, did not say where the new troops would come from or whether it would add to the number of troops in Iraq, though experts said it could require up to 10,000 extra forces.

General Abizaid said from Baghdad that the return of some troops from Iraq to the United States would almost certainly be delayed.

The General has made a request to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to the Defence Department in Washington for the combat brigades.

"In terms of capability, what I have asked for is essentially to have a strong mobile combat arms capability," General Abizaid said.

Day 338

Monday, April 12, 2004


This from Mark Steyn, who has a matter of fact way of calling them as he see's them.
That's the point to remember: The Iraqi people don't want to be on the American side, only on the winning side. Right now, those two positions happen to coincide; 99.99 percent of Iraqi Shiites aren't involved in the troubles of the last week. This guy Sadr is a junior-league blowhard. ''If they come for our leader,'' says one of his commanders, ''they will ignite all of Iraq." No, they won't. The vast majority of Iraq will remain un-ignited.

Look at those pictures of the atrocity in Fallujah: the remains of four corpses, and a bunch of savages dancing around them. In all those photographs, can you add up more than a hundred men? And half of them are punk kids under 11. There are 300,000 people in that city. A few score are depraved enough to cheer on the killers of four brave men; 299,900 of the town's population were either disapproving or indifferent.

And in the Arab world, the indifferent are the biggest demographic. They sit things out, they see which strong horse has jostled his way to the head of the pack, and they go along with him. The Turks. The British. The British-installed king. The thug who murders the king. The thug who murders the thug who murders the king.
I'm awarding him bonus points for getting in a right hook to the ribs on Senator Kennedy
Here's a good rule of thumb: The Pentagon's demonstrated in two wars now that it's got beyond Vietnam. If a politician or pundit can't, pay him no further heed. If Sen. Kennedy wants to give rhetorical aid and comfort to the enemy, he could at least be less lazy about it.

Watched with interest I am sure by families of 1AD Soldiers.
A radical Shiite cleric has pulled his militia out of police stations and government facilities in three cities they took control of last week, partially meeting a U.S. demand for ending the standoff in southern Iraq, the cleric's representative said Monday.

Police on Monday were back on the streets and in their stations in Najaf, Kufa and Karbala for the first time in days since the al-Mahdi Army militia of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr rose up last week in bloody fighting against U.S.-led forces in much of the south, witnesses said.
Makes me wonder if the blunt, straight talk of LTG Sanchez might be a contributing factor when he says
"The mission of U.S. forces is to kill or capture Muqtada al-Sadr. That is our mission,"
It would get my attention.

All the news stories are covering the low hanging fruit...focused on Sadr and Fallujah and a mortar or two in the vicinity of Green Zone. There seems to be no perspective today other than shouts of "Blasts Alarm Coalition" and "Vietnam".

So...I'm off. Over the weekend I made a vow to myself. More Jogging...Less Blogging.

It's another gorgeous spring day...I'm not going to let the headlines ruin that for me.

I'll be in touch later.

Bill Bennett has a word to say on Iraq, Vietnam, Rwanda and the Democrats.
The Democrats need to get their story and their policy together. This week, Bill Clinton wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post lamenting that he did not act sooner in Rwanda, trying to stop the genocide there that claimed 800,000 lives. Kennedy, knowing of Saddam Hussein's slaughter, torture, and aggression that led to the gruesome and vile deaths of hundreds of thousands of Arabs and Muslims, berates our efforts to oust Hussein.

My question for the Democratic Party: Was Iraq a Rwanda that we intervened in to prevent from becoming a living hell? Or, is it Vietnam, where we regret the deaths of so many because we tried to intervene and save the South Vietnamese? They can't have it both ways - Iraq is either a mission we salute based on past inaction we regret, or it's a mission we denigrate based on past action we lament.

President Bush speaks with one voice on this. Clinton and Kennedy do not. That is for them to solve. In the meantime, we carry on with the honor and dignity our mission deserves.

I don't point that out to be hopeful that they will come on home...rather to point out we may not be done with the changes.
While the Pentagon has not confirmed whether the division will be kept over its planned 365-day tour, defense officials told The Washington Post that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld halted troop movements and gave U.S. commanders five days to sort out which units are needed to contain the violence in Iraq.

V Corps, the division’s higher headquarters in Germany, has no official word of an extension, said Lt. Col. Kevin Gainer, a V Corps spokesman.


This is day 337.

I'm having trouble getting started today. The news is so focused upon the engagements ... I'm still trying to get used to the fact that we are four months away from that which, only last week, was on ly days away.

But I'll give it a shot.

Sunday, April 11, 2004


Another piece from John Galt. It will help you gain perspective to know that John lives and works inside the Green Zone.

He wrote this on Friday...soon after the local hotheads have "vowed" to storm and retake the Green Zone. He doesn't come across as terribly concerned about that particular promise.

He also thinks little of the coverage as well.
Well. Very quiet. The bad guys promised to attack and occupy the Green Zone, take over the major cities and storm the Sheraton hotel.

I was on the back veranda of the Palace after supper when we heard the mortar fired across the river to our right. Stood there for a bit & then heard it land off to our left. Later we determined that it landed near the Sheraton. So all last night we saw repeated film of one darn mortar hole at the tennis courts next to the Sheraton. Over & over. Then the announcers ask various talking heads – Is it over? Have we failed?

One mortar produces a lot of gloom & doom.

The 1AD reacted well to the threats yesterday in Baghdad. First, they went around with loud speakers & said that there would be no rallies, etc. The Coalition militaries cordoned off the key center where Saddam’s statue was toppled. That is a big PR place for all the western news although it’s really a minor location. Same with the Sheraton hotel. The foreign press is at the Sheraton so the bad guys were going to storm it. New principle of war: Don’t attack the military – attack the press.

Also the Iraqi police were broadcasting from their cars that anyone seen on the streets with an AK would be shot. No warning. Gee – no one on the streets.

Marines are clobbering the bad guys at Falluja. The Marines offered a unilateral cease of hostilities but the bad guys keep shooting, even shooting their own humanitarian vehicles. The Marines resumed offensive operations.

This weekend is also a big anniversary when the Moslems remember a martyr. There will be a traditional march to the main mosque. Again, threats by the hot heads about a big rally to thow out the Coalition. Should be interesting to see how it plays out.

Iraqi security. Still doing fairly well. Not perfect & we will keep training more to bring them up to strength. But, again, not the gloom and doom that is preached on US TV.

Coalition has retaken many cities. Some interesting sights as the main population is glad to get rid of the thugs that brought about the latest violence.

But then, that's not a sound bite or film clip.

Anyway, it was a good Friday.


Got a note from Susan overnight. Susan has a son in the 1st Armor Division.

She passes along a note written by Lieutenenant in the 1AD...a note that offers more perspective on the situation.

I thought you'd like to see it.
With recent events in Iraq, and news coverage being what it typically is, I would like to take a few minutes out of everybody's time to say a few words.

There are two major things going on right now that have lead to the dramatic increase in fighting in the last few days. The first is happening in places like Faluja. The sunnis in this area have always been fighting American occupation, but after a year of handling them with kid gloves due to policies set by the higher ups in politics and the military, they have become emboldened. Basically, they have forgotten what a Bradley 25mm
will do to a car load of armed insurgents. Right now the marines "pacifying" this area by force.

The second cause pertains to what is happening in Baghdad, where I am. A Shia cleric, who happens to be the son of a popular cleric killed by Saddam, made a last ditch effort at a power play before the handover of power to an Iraqi government by making a religious decree to fight Americans. This has lead hundreds of out of work 19 to 25 year old males to grab there RPG's and AK's and attack both Americans, but also police stations and Iraqi government facilities. In places, this has lead to heavy fighting not seen since the war. However, we are fighting a dismounted, unorganized force, who are simply not capable of standing against a professional, mechanized force such as the First Armored Division.

The news blurbs about the fighting that I have seen on CNN have if anything downplayed the fighting (it's hard to know what is going on when you only do reports from your hotel room), and have enphasized American casualties. There is no gentle way to put it, but American forces have on average, as near as I can tell, killed about 150 enemy fighters per day (never mind the wounded), all in the street to street, house to house fighting that critics have said we are so unprepared for. What is going on in Baghdad right now is by no means a Vietnam. The enemy in Vietnam was far more effective, better equiped, and more determined than the enemy here.

As near as I can tell from actually being on the streets on patrol these last few days, the average Iraqi is not interested in forcing the Americans out. Only the following weeks will really tell how determined Sadr's army really is.

In short, try not to buy into spin motivated by political goals and the ghost of Vietnam. This is the desert, not he jungle. We are fighting to put down an uprising of religious fanatics of the same kind that flew two planes into the world trade center. The enemy that we are fighting today would, if given the chance, would be more happy to kill Americans in America.

I am proud of my soldiers and the job we are doing. I am proud of my country, and believe in the decisions of the President who asked me to be here.

"long live the fighters"
Susan...thanks for sharing that. That is one level headed young leader there.

Day 336.

Hallelujah, He is risen.