Saturday, June 28, 2008
(Link to NY Times Article) The following is excerpts from the NY Times Article:
The action was limited, with security forces shelling territory outside Peshawar held by an extremist leader. Army forces were not used, and the intent apparently was merely to push the militants back from the city’s perimeter.
But the shelling was the first time the new civilian government, which has been committed to negotiating peace accords with Pakistani Taliban and other Islamic militants, resorted to military action.
In response, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, announced that he had suspended his participation in peace talks
This may not be to the extent what was needed but it is a very positive sign of movement in the right direction. Since the formulation of the new coalition government in Pakistan there has been much more emphasis placed upon talking with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda rather then dealing with them and preventing them from influencing Afghanistan and Pakistan with their message of hate. This is the first time that the new government has taken offensive action against them and shown signs of wanting to prevent them from operating from within their borders. It also shows that Pakistan has serious issue with these groups as well.
In Peshawar, senior military officials said that a regional security force had fired mortar shells against two bases of an Islamic militant known as Mangal Bagh, whose well-armed fighters have taken control over much of Khyber agency adjacent to the city.
“The ultimate objective is to establish the writ of the government where it is challenged,” Mohammed Alam Khattak, inspector general of the Frontier Corps, said at a news conference here.
General Khattak said the operation had been undertaken in response to “growing public demand” for a show of force against militants who have kidnapped city residents on an almost daily basis over the past several weeks and intimidated surrounding towns by shutting down the courts.
From reading these comments, I see only confirmation that the insurgency within Afghanistan has not only been extremely successful in utilizing Pakistan as a base of operations, but they are also trying to assert their dominance. Pakistan seems to be at a fulcrum point where they must truly decide what to do; continue their usage of negotiations and risk losing complete control of their country in the coming months, or take the fight to these extremist elements and make their country safe for all people.
In their actions, will spell decisions that will influence Afghanistan and a large area of the Global War on Terror. I hope that they continue this line of action and effort and continue to choose wisely.
God Bless America
Photo is from the NY Times Article and taken by Tariq Mahmoud / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images. Sphere: Related Content
Thursday, June 26, 2008
According to data compiled by Andrew Tyndall, a television consultant who monitors the three network evening newscasts, coverage of Iraq has been “massively scaled back this year.” Almost halfway into 2008, the three newscasts have shown 181 weekday minutes of Iraq coverage, compared with 1,157 minutes for all of 2007. The “CBS Evening News” has devoted the fewest minutes to Iraq, 51, versus 55 minutes on ABC’s “World News” and 74 minutes on “NBC Nightly News.” (The average evening newscast is 22 minutes long.)
CBS News no longer stations a single full-time correspondent in Iraq, where some 150,000 United States troops are deployed.
I am left with the question; is this because there is no longer huge amounts of casualties and violence to put on the television's of Americans? One of the reasons given for significant cut downs in coverage is that it costs so much for security reasons to keep staff in Baghdad. I can understand that, but why not imbed with a unit then. Your entire security situation is taken care of at that point. The other side of the argument given was that the Presidential Race was taking precedence over the war coverage. I would think though that keeping Americans accurately informed as to what is happening in the war is just as important considering that it is one of the major issues of the election this fall.
I also go back to the question of why then would you only cover bad news stories during your coverage of the war while it was being covered in great detail? There was much argument over this facet of the coverage, and the demands that the main stream media cover the entire story and not just the bad news stories. But now we are left with 95% good news coming out of Iraq, and they have dropped their coverage to almost nil. I understand their reasons that they have put forward but their actions are not backing up their rationale. Following the line of logic created by their actions, if July 08 had a car bomb explode everyday then they would be increasing their coverage ten fold, but an orphanage or school opening everyday would only serve to decrease the coverage.
I thought that journalists took an oath as they graduated from Journalism School to always strive to be fair and balanced in their reporting and to tell the people the truth of what was happening. In no way, shape, or form do I believe anyone is not being truthful. But are we truly being fair and balanced when we leave out an entire side of the story? I sincerely hope that the situation changes, the American People deserve it.
God Bless America
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/23/business/media/23logan.html?_r=1&dpc&oref=login Sphere: Related Content
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
The ISI was the primary supporter of the insurgency within Afghanistan during the Soviet Occupation, and functioned as the primary conduit for many nations to support the fight against the Soviets. They also were one of the main supporters of the Taliban and the Islamic Extremist movements that took over Afghanistan in the post Soviet Era; not least of which was Al Qaeda. To this day many foreign policy experts believe that they are behind many of the support activities of the insurgency from within the little controlled frontier provinces of Pakistan. But as I said above this is completely a different situation.
This is not just giving a safe haven or arming the insurgency. This is not just funding and running the madrases to school the next generation of suicide bombers. If this is true then this is an agency of a sovereign government that just acted in, supported, and helped execute a plan to assassinate their neighboring countries leader. This is an unbelievable affront to the Nation of Afghanistan and if true would only serve to concrete and solidify President Karzai's plan to use Afghan troops more offensively on the border.
If there was ever a time for the United States to engage Pakistan on the matter of this and the problems with the border, it is now. Pakistan has long been touted as a critical ally in our Global War on Terror, well now is the time to engage them and find out what truly is going on. The insurgency within Afghanistan can never be fully defeated without taking away this safe haven they now enjoy across the border. The question becomes though, what happens from here, and what will Pakistan do to fix this situation?
God Bless America
Photo is from the NY Times Article and taken by Massoud Houssani / Agence - French Presse Getty Images. Sphere: Related Content
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
For too long, John McCain has gotten away with an answer that is fantastically hypothetical — that United States troops can remain in Iraq without being shot at. Few believe this is a real possibility in the foreseeable future, and the comparison to the United States presence in Germany, Japan and South Korea is both absurd and historically inaccurate.
When we established permanent bases in those countries, there were no insurgents shooting at our soldiers. Most Iraqis and many foreign policy experts believe that our presence is one cause of the violence. But John McCain’s position seems to be that we should stay to quell the very violence that our presence is catalyzing, so that we can stay when there is no violence.
The first issue I have with this statement is that many foreign policy experts agree that we are the root cause of the continuing violence in Iraq. The first problem with this is that if US Troops had not been present during the mini-civil war that occurred between Shiite and Sunni Factions almost two years ago, the country would have torn itself apart. The fragile Iraqi Government, Police, and Army would have been destroyed along with all the great strides that our service members have paid in blood, sweat, and tears for. The situation is different now, the government of Iraq is on much more solid ground and doing a great job. The Iraqi Army and Police are also doing an excellent job but at that time could not have handled that situation alone.
The second problem is that foreign policy experts are divided on this issue. I have read some that say that our presence is causing some of the violence. I have read others that say without our presence we would not even have a country of Iraq anymore. There are even others that say yes we are fighting many foreign terrorists there but if we were not fighting them there we would be fighting them in our own country. As much as I'm an optimist I would prefer to plan for the worst case scenario and say that we are fighting the terrorists there instead of here, and our presence is still needed to ensure things do not fall apart. Would move-on prefer that we just wing it and say we hope that everything works and just pull out? That doesn't sound like a sound foreign policy to me.
The third issue is that if we leave Iraq prematurely and follow the advice of this minority of experts what happens then? Do we leave the country ripe for the picking by their neighbor Iran? Do we leave and then watch them start to fall apart due to sectarian violence and then have to redeploy there again with the UN to try to re-establish order? It would make much more sense to me to stay the course, do the job the right way the first time, and leave a solid independent Iraq that is a viable member of the world community.
Finally as I discussed in another post, these operations take time. Rebuilding a country does not happen over-night. Defeating an insurgency does not happen over-night. Educating people, rebuilding schools and infrastructure does not happen over night. We as a country fought a War of Independence, fought the War of 1812, and then were embroiled in our own Civil War all in less then 85 years. Out of all of this came a world power that would serve as a beacon of hope to millions of oppressed people world-wide. In five years though we want to believe that a country that was physically beaten down for decades is going to be functioning perfectly. I'm sorry, but that's just not the case. Their will be road bumps, their will be challenges, but this is a mission that we must see through to the end. The American People must understand that it will take time.
Mr Pariser also had this back-pedaling to do on his comments on the military:
All American parents realize that their children may have to serve in the military and pay the ultimate price. We honor all those who have served and wish to serve. Our ad simply gives voice to the fear of millions of parents that John McCain will ask generations of Americans to serve in an unwinnable war, with a failed strategy based on lies, maybe for as long as 100 years.
First off, no one has to serve in the military. We are an all volunteer force, and every single one of us raised his right hand and swore an oath to defend the Nation and the Constitution by his own free will. Secondly, you are not answering the questions that you left us with last night. You state that you honor all who serve and wish to serve. Is your idea of honoring us playing TV Commercials that try to tell parents not to let their children enlist? Is your idea of honoring us calling into question who enlists, or what type of people enlists? As I said last night if this is your idea, that this sweet young babe will never enlist; then who will defend your freedom to make TV Commercials like this?
Secondly John McCain has never called upon generations of American's to die in Iraq. In all honesty he can only serve for a maximum of eight years. I also believe that part of Senator McCain's platform for President is to look at troop numbers, take the recommendations of the warfighting commanders in Iraq and at CENTCOM, consult with the Iraqi Government, and make decisions based upon that. It sounds like a very logical train of thought to moving forward with this operation. Again, military operations such as these take time, and consulting these experts and making decisions from there based upon the situation on the ground is the only way forward that I can see.
Lastly Move-On loves to throw out the phrase that the War in Iraq is based upon lies. Now by no means was I sitting in the White House when the decision was made, but here is what I can see from my foxhole. The decision to go into Iraq was based upon weapons of mass destruction, a tyrant of a leader that was absolutely brutalizing his people horribly, a leader who was in direct violation of UN Security Council Mandates for over ten years, and a government that was giving assistance to terrorist groups that had helped attack the United States Homeland on 9-11. Out of all of those four reasons, the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction did not materialize. The rest are absolutely true. In addition here is a government that tried to assassinate one of our former Presidents, routinely fired upon our aircraft patrolling the northern and southern no-fly-zones, and finally up until the last moments committed genocide against the Kurds and Yezidi in the north of Iraq. I really cant think of many more good reasons to remove this government and give the Iraqi People a chance to live in a country where they are not raped, tortured, and killed for fun. I would be very curious to see what Move-On believes we should have done about that.
Move-On has a right to their beliefs. It is a right to freedom of speech that I completely believe in and support with my service. But, here they are just wrong. The facts to back up their argument are incorrect, and their intentions and thoughts towards our military men and women are still very much in question. I again invite any of the members of move-on that might read my blog to let me interview them and try to find out exactly what they believe.
God Bless America
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/24/opinion/l24kristol.html?_r=1&oref=login Sphere: Related Content
Monday, June 23, 2008
Their new and improved message is presented in a 30-second TV spot, “Not Alex,” produced in conjunction with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. It’s airing for a week on local broadcast stations in markets in the swing states of Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, and on two national cable channels, with a reported buy of over half a million dollars.
The ad is simple. A mother speaks as she holds her baby boy:
“Hi, John McCain. This is Alex. And he’s my first. So far his talents include trying any new food and chasing after our dog. That, and making my heart pound every time I look at him. And so, John McCain, when you say you would stay in Iraq for 100 years, were you counting on Alex? Because if you were, you can’t have him.”
My reaction to this is summed up entirely by William Kristol and later on by a mother from Blue Star Mothers:
Here’s what the mother of an actual soldier has to say about the remarks of the mother of the prospective non-soldier in the ad:
“Does that mean that she wants other people’s sons to keep the wolves at bay so that her son can live a life of complete narcissism? What is it she thinks happens in the world? ... Someone has to stand between our society and danger. If not my son, then who? If not little Alex then someone else will have to stand and deliver. Someone’s son, somewhere.”
This is the sober truth. Unless we enter a world without enemies and without war, we will need young men and women willing to risk their lives for our nation. And we’re not entering any such world.
I am a proud father of two little boys so I do not write this piece in a vacuum. But I know that when I left for Military School, for my first duty assignment at Fort Bragg and the 82nd Airborne, and each time I have gone to war, it has been horrible on my parents. My mother just for loving and caring for me, and my father for seeing it before and knowing the hell-storm that I was heading for. I believe it was Abraham Lincoln that made the historic comment, "I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom." How will our nation go on if our brave sons and daughters do not volunteer to go forward to defend her, and how will we go on if we do not allow our sons and daughters to volunteer for service and to defend her?
This is a Republic, the foundation of democracy in our world. We truly stand for all that is right and good on this earth. We do not just fight to defend ourselves, we fight to bring freedom to people who have been persecuted for decades. We fight so that our own children and grand-children will not know that type of persecution. But I believe that William Kristol was exactly correct in his statement that there are evil men in this world. There are men who would wish to do great harm to both our nation and to our children and people. That is why I raised my hand and volunteered as a soldier. I believe in America, and I believe she is still a beacon of hope to people around the world. I have seen that myself with my own two eyes. I gladly stand watch over our nation at personal cost to myself and to my family. If I should fall, then I fall knowing that I made a difference in this world, and that our nation will be defended. I know that would hurt my family deeply, and especially my parents, but I know the pride that they have in what I do, and I know they would understand, especially my father.
The other question I am left with is does Move On and this mother in the TV Ad want to be defended but as long as its by someone elses child? I'm confused by them. Looking at what Move-On wants, they still want a country called America. I'm quite sure they still want all of the freedoms to express themselves as they do. So who's children should defend them? Should it be people that don't think like them? People that are different then them? I don't know, but I would love to see them answer the question. Are those of us that have volunteered for the military and especially those that have fallen in combat just "those" people? Personally I'm offended and angered. I was angry with it at first, but now after thinking more on it, I'm very angry. Does Move-On think they are better people then the ones who volunteer for service? Right now that is the perception that I am left with. I would invite them to respond to this, because I would really like to know, for myself and for all of my soldiers.
God Bless America
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/23/opinion/23kristol.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin Sphere: Related Content
Sunday, June 22, 2008
NATO and Afghan troops backed by warplanes on Wednesday attacked about 400 Taliban militants who had seized Arghandab, a strategic valley dotted with orchards within striking distance of Kandahar.
Afghan soldiers killed 56 Taliban fighters during the operation, including a number of foreigners, Gen. Zahir Azimi, the spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, said at a news conference. The provincial governor put the militants’ death toll at more than 100.
The first reason that I say that this is important is that it ties directly to President Karzai's comments about a week ago talking about the problems with the Afghan Border with Pakistan. President Karzai hit the nail on the head when he stated this was one of the largest issues facing Afghanistan. He is exactly right, the Taliban and other extremist groups must have a safe haven that they can move to, and the Afghan / Pakistan Border is facilitating that.
The second reason is the foreign fighters bring a whole new dimension to the fighting. As I said in another post, some of the tactics that were being used did not make sense. That is fully explained by the foreigners presence. Taliban favor hit and run type attacks, foreign fighters have a greater preponderance to stand and fight. Though this in many ways just makes it easier for the coalition to find them, fix them, and then destroy them.
Many times when you see foreign fighters enter the battlefield it is because the local insurgents are losing steam in their campaign. I'm not saying this is the case yet, but it is a very interesting concept to confirm and then if true to exploit.
If it is the case though, it is because of our Afghan Army and Police brothers in arms. The ISAF Coalition can only do so much, at the end of the day it is on the shoulders of the Afghan Army and Police that this mission will succeed. I know in my heart, with them at the helm, it can only succeed.
God Bless America
Sphere: Related Content
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Within Iraq we see similar operations taking place. (Link to NY Times Article) The Iraqi Army has been moving into positions around the southern city of Amara for the last week and a half. Amara is one of the last bastions of the Mahdi Army and Sadr's supporters. After a number of days of opportunity given for amnesty, Iraqi troops began moving into the city today. Again, just as in Basra and Sadr City, the Iraqi Army conducted these operations completely separate of US Forces. In addition to that good news story every time we turn around there is further proof that Prime Minister Maliki is truly moving his country away from a sectarian approach to politics to truly a government that represents all people within Iraq.
This approach is extremely important for Prime Minister Maliki. Beyond the fact that his Army and Police are operating extremely well, he must show that he represents all Iraqi Citizens. If he were not seen as taking a fair and balanced approach to all parties it would not matter how many troops the US or Iraq had committed to a fight, we would still be losing the support of the people. In this type of operation, the support of the people, is absolutely decisive to success. Maliki is bringing together his country quite well, and with the positive effects from the surge, and the outstanding job his Army and Police are doing, it is exactly the right recipe for success.
In all honesty I believe that the fate of how this will turn out will be in the hands of our new Commander in Chief in his first year in office. I also believe, that no matter who that is, as long as we proceed with planning our future efforts with Prime Minister Maliki and our senior military officers, and proceeding with common sense and not political rhetoric, we will see all of our designs come to fruition.
God Bless America
Photo is from the NY Times Iraq Article and taken by Essam Al-Sudani / AFP-Getty Images Sphere: Related Content
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
On a very cold day in Kabul, Afghanistan we received word that we had a casualty flight inbound to the airfield. I was puzzled at first over why a casualty flight would be coming to us, Bagram was the main hospital, and to bring them here made no sense. As more information made its way through though it became very clear. I ran down to the gate and was greeted by the Belgian Security Forces and led to where the Afghan family was waiting. The interpreter caught up to me at this point, which was a very lucky thing since I'm not exactly fluent in Dari. I would say more kindergarten or nursery school level in my abilities.
I met the mother of the young boy, and a number of his other brothers and sisters. As the story developed everything became very clear. The young boy was with his father, as he traveled in the eastern part of Afghanistan delivering furniture that he crafted. He had wandered away from the truck at a stop into some fields when he detonated an anti-personnel mine. American Forces were in the area and had immediately responded. That was as much information as she had, but it was enough. We moved out towards the flight line and received the 10 minute warning on the inbound Black Hawk.
As the Black Hawk landed the young boy was rushed to a waiting ambulance and his family joined him. The father was right at his side the entire time holding his hand as were the medics from the helicopter. Their was one medic that was out of place though. As I talked with him briefly he was one of the combat medics in that area and had without any doubt saved that young boys life. Without his quick intervention, the blood loss alone most likely would have taken his life. But here was a young man, rushing through what could have still been a mine field to get to the boy, saving his life, and treating him all the way into Kabul. For a brief moment time sometimes slows down, and you can see the big picture. In the middle of a war zone, you have a military service and its soldiers saving a young Afghan boys life, flying him into a hospital, linking him up with his family, and in the end saving his life. I can think of no greater act of compassion.
This is not an isolated incident though. These are the stories that happen everyday throughout Afghanistan and Iraq. This is what your sons and daughters are doing. This is why I am proud beyond words to be counted as one of them, a United States Soldier; and why all American's should be deeply proud of them.
God Bless America
Bryan Sphere: Related Content
The Taliban “do not appear to have the foothold that they have apparently claimed,” Lt. Col. Dave Corbould, commanding officer of the Canadian battle group in Kandahar, said in a statement issued by the NATO force.
The Taliban were already on the defensive and would not resist much longer, the governor of Kandahar, Asadullah Khaled, said at a news conference in Kandahar on Wednesday evening. “We are taking many precautions not to hurt civilians and that’s why the operation is slow,” he said.
First off that is great news, and a testament to both the soldiers of the coalition forces (ISAF) and the Afghan Army and Police. I'm almost left wondering if all of the reports of massive amounts of Taliban were nothing more then the prisoners fleeing the prison break that happened this last weekend in Kandahar? The wire reports are inconclusive right now, and there is definitely not enough information to formulate any opinions from here, but I'm very curious to see what comes out in the after action reports.
The other take-away is I am still stunned that the Taliban would mass this amount of forces in one area for a dedicated fight. From my experience in Afghanistan they did not like bringing together more then a platoon of insurgents since it became very easy for them to be fixed and then destroyed by coalition firepower. If the reports were true and there is much more to this then what is showing right now, then I question why the departure from their previous tactics? The coalition has not changed, but has the Taliban changed? Are we seeing a change in leadership styles that can be exploited, or are they becoming desperate due to the successes of the Afghan Army? I don't have the answer right now, but it is an answer I will be seeking in the coming weeks.
There was another essential element of good news also from this report from the front, and that was Afghan's taking care of Afghans.
Mr. Khaliq said he had evacuated his family to the city the previous day but had returned to his village, Tabin, because the wheat was ripe. “What can we do,” he said. “I am very worried about my wheat harvest, if fighting is prolonged we will lose the harvest.” Muhammad Salim, 40, from the village of Charqulba, said he left everything and fled Tuesday with only his cattle, even though Afghan troops tried to stop him.
“I told them they are so expensive and if I don’t bring them down they will die,” he said. “If they die it means my family will die because they are the only resource that my family relies on.”
Ahmed Wali Karzai, head of the Kandahar provincial council, said thousands of families had fled Argandab district for the city in the last few days. The council was drawing up lists and would provide them with assistance, he said.The people and the government of Afghanistan have come so far in their development as a nation. It is no longer formulate a list and turn it over to the Americans or the Coalition; it is we are drawing up a list, and will assist these families. This is a huge good news story, one that probably deserved its own article. That is the entire reason we are there, to bring stability to Afghanistan, and to help the Afghans stand for themselves. This is just another sign that they are, and that they are doing a great job of it.
God Bless America
Photo is from the NY Times Article and taken by Marco Di Lauro / Getty Images. Sphere: Related Content
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Argandab District does give them many places to hide amongst the grape vines and pomegranate groves but it is a double edged sword. If they destroy these farm lands through their actions then they take away a food source for themselves, they take away food and income for the farmers, and they turn the people against them. Not that the Taliban have ever really cared about the common people in Afghanistan; but now it is imperative for them to have even a small amount of tacit support from some people so they can hide and receive supplies. If they fight there, I do not think they would even keep that. The devastation that would be imposed by their actions has the potential to be catastrophic on these farmers, and they would remember it.
The fact also that the Afghan Army, Police, and the US and other Coalition Forces conducted a five hour patrol through part of the district and did not make any contact with Taliban forces is also uncharacteristic. Many of the Taliban operate under the Pashtun Code that in part says that not to attack an enemy if given the opportunity means losing face and honor amongst your men. I would not use this as evidence to support a hypothesis but it is a very peculiar point that I would want more information on. The two major questions that immediately spring to my mind are, 1. are the Taliban actually there? 2. could these be foreign fighters that have come in from Pakistan that do not follow this code?
The next few days should provide answers to many of these questions, and I will be watching it closely and keeping you informed in addition to my regular posts, but I am waiting to see on this one as much as you. The one take-away at this point that I can say without any reservation is that Afghanistan needs more troops committed to it. I was quite pleased to see the UK stepping up and committing more troops, I don't think we have any better ally and friend then Great Britain. Ive worked with many of their soldiers to include the Royal Marine Commandos and I can not say enough about them. But Afghanistan must see a surge similar to the one in Iraq, and then we must sustain our operations there. To do anything less would be slighting our allies and our friends in both NATO and Afghanistan.
God Bless America
Photo is from the article, and taken by Ahmad Masood with Reuters. Sphere: Related Content
Monday, June 16, 2008
Even more decisive though was the actions by Sadr to split his militia into a military arm and a political wing. There were even supporters that were abandoning his party and throwing their allegiances with other political organizations within the Iraqi Government. The decisive part of this is that historically speaking when insurgencies split their military and political wings it is because they are in very hard times. They realize that to survive they must separate the two, so that some will be able to carry on. To look at it in a purist Mao tradition it is a reversion back along the steps of an insurgency to a much less powerful organization.
All of these actions bode well for Iraq; we will have to continue watching the reports to see where this goes, but it is a very optimistic sign.
On the Afghanistan front we saw more and more talk, back and forth across the border about President Karzai's comments yesterday. (Link to Fox News Article) As I talked about last night in the post about Afghanistan the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is one of the largest challenges that we face there. Just to give an idea this was released today from Pakistan and is from the Fox News Article:
A spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Pakistan's Taliban movement, warned of an escalation in Taliban attacks against NATO and Afghan forces if Karzai sends forces across the border.
Spokesman Maulvi Umar also said the Afghan army would face defeat at the hands of thousands of tribal fighters. Umar said Karzai is becoming "nervous" due to an increase of Taliban attacks in Afghanistan.
This is just an example of the frustration that accompanies the complexity of the situation. Here you have the sworn enemies of Afghanistan, living in a safe haven across the border, crossing the border and attacking you, and then returning to that safe haven to re-arm and re-group. To make matters worse, their are groups in that nation that are assisting them and the sovereign government of that nation is not significantly impeding them. I can only imagine the frustration that President Karzai is feeling. I honestly do not know what is going to happen next, but I am watching it very closely. This is a situation that without a doubt will impact our young servicemen and women, and one that we need to remedy and fix now.
God Bless America
Photo is from the NY Times Article and taken by Andrew E Kramer and Alissa J Rubin. Sphere: Related Content
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Afghanistan is comprised of many different ethnic groups of people. The largest of these being the Pashtun, and followed by the Uzbek's, the Tajik's, the Turkomen, the Hazara, the Nuristani, the Balochi, and the Pashai. The challenge is worse then just that though. An Afghan first has loyalty to his family, then his tribe, and then his larger tribe, then to the clan. So a Pashtun living in one mountain valley may not even speak to a Pashtun in a neighboring mountain valley. They live in small microcosms and are quite happy that way. But their opinions on matters will differ greatly, and the idea of doing something to help another group may not be enough incentive to them. Compounding all of this for our soldiers is the various languages and dialects that are spoken in the country. Even amongst people of the same ethnic background there may be different dialects that hinder communications. All of this makes operating in Afghanistan much more difficult for our soldiers.
All insurgencies need a safe haven they can run to. As we saw from President Karzai's comments this morning, the Federal Administered Tribal Areas and North West Frontier of Pakistan are just such a place. In Iraq the border is semi-solvent, and the insurgents will go to Iran for equipment, money and training but it is much more difficult. In Afghanistan the border in many of these areas between them and Pakistan simply does not exist. The Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters have a much higher degree of freedom of movement between the two areas and once in Pakistan they are sheltered by a highly sympathetic population that arms, treats, and takes care of these insurgents. As we look at the political situation in Pakistan, many different groups support these insurgents. This is not surprising at all since they have been supporting these groups since the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The Madrases in this area are also specifically set up to brain wash, and turn out young men who will do whatever is asked of them by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Afghanistan is also not like Iraq in its development of national infrastructure. During the Soviets Occupation and then during the Taliban Regime, much of the country was completely destroyed. Everything from schools, to power stations, to roads and government buildings were completely destroyed. The Taliban were even game for destroying anything historical that was not Islamic; IE the enormous Buddha Statues in Bamyian Province. To drive around the country is high adventure, but not just because of the possibility of attack but the condition of the road networks. The longest I have had to rise in a HMMWV in Afghanistan was three hours, and that was long enough to make every bone in my body ache. All of this put together means that the rebuilding efforts are much greater and in a much higher demand then in Iraq.
There is also the problem with mines in Afghanistan. The Soviets during their war in Afghanistan decided that if they killed or caused the population to leave the country then anyone left would be an insurgent an easy to kill. To this end, they littered the entire country with anti-personal mines, many if not most of which are still in the country today and operational. I remember flying into the country and seeing explosions on the far side of the airfield and asking what was going on. The response was that they were still trying to clear out areas around the base that still had mines. This was five years after we first got there, if that shows you just how many there are. Entire swaths of land are un-usable for the sheer purpose that to walk on them means death or at best an amputated leg. Not a very good trade off for a farmer and father of 8 children.
The final piece that the Soviets did is destroy the infrastructure of the country that enabled the Afghans to grow food. There are absolutely huge aqueduct systems in western and southern Afghanistan that had been built hundreds of years ago. These were the only way that the people of these regions were able to irrigate their lands to grow food on them. In another act of brutality the Soviets destroyed the aqueducts and reduced the amount of land that was able to sustain farming by over 33%. Again, the goal was to kill the civilians or force them to flee to another country.
The Taliban also destroyed this society. They would have public mass executions of men and women for crimes like not having a beard that was long enough, or a burkha that was too short and showed an ankle. They swept into power promising stability and security but in turn became even more brutal leaders then the DRA and Soviets ever were. All of this ended in 2001 though.
Do not take any of what I have said in a negative way. I think Afghanistan is a very beautiful country with a very wonderful and steadfast people who I respect greatly. But the challenges in helping them get back to the point that they were at prior to the Soviet Invasion is much more difficult then just routing out and destroying the insurgents. Saddam brutalized his people, but he never came close to what the Afghan people went through under the Soviets and the Taliban. Afghanistan is also five times more complex then Iraq with its various ethnic and family groups that inhabit the country. All of this combines to be a very potently challenging mix for our soldiers to succeed in. Make no mistake we will succeed; with our Afghan brothers in arms and the Afghan Citizens, I know in my heart that Afghanistan will once again be a great and beautiful country that I look forward to visiting in the future and being able to say I helped create this. But as we talked about before, rebuilding the country takes time. The American People and our politicians need to fully understand how much our soldiers our doing, and that it will take time to see the mission complete. But, it is a mission we will complete.
God Bless America
I took the photo, November 2007 looking out at the foothills of the Hindu-Kush Mountains. I am standing at aprox. 6000 feet elevation, the mountain tops you see in the picture are between 13,000 and 14,000 feet in elevation.
Below is a quick link to Wikipedia that goes into much greater detail on Afghanistan. Its a great starting point to learning more about the country.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghanistan Sphere: Related Content
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai threatened Sunday to send Afghan troops across the border to fight militants in Pakistan, a forceful warning to insurgents and the Pakistani government that his country is fed up with cross-border attacks.
Karzai said Afghanistan has the right to self defense, and because militants cross over from Pakistan ''to come and kill Afghan and kill coalition troops, it exactly gives us the right to do the same.''
Speaking at a Sunday news conference, Karzai warned Pakistan-based Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud that Afghan forces would target him on his home turf. Mehsud is suspected in last year's assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
''Baitullah Mehsud should know that we will go after him now and hit him in his house,'' Karzai said.
''And the other fellow, (Taliban leader) Mullah Omar of Pakistan should know the same,'' Karzai continued. ''This is a two-way road in this case, and Afghans are good at the two-way road journey. We will complete the journey and we will get them and we will defeat them. We will avenge all that they have done to Afghanistan for the past so many years.''
Photo is from the NY Times Article and taken by Rahmat Gul/ Associated Press.
God Bless America
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Afghan-Karzai.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin Sphere: Related Content
Saturday, June 14, 2008
As I read this article three points resounded to me over and over again. The first being that as a Nation and as a Military we need to ensure that we are always explaining to our citizens and to the world why we are executing the operations that we are. The American People deserve this, and the citizens of the world must understand so that we do not allow the terrorists the opportunity to turn them against us. The second part is that as we address the American People we must accurately depict to them and convince them why the operations that we are conducting are correct. To have a split opinion at home does more to hurt our military operations then anything else I can think of. Lastly we must realize that the terrorists and insurgents that we are fighting will conduct their own information campaign targeting the American People and the citizens of the world and we must be able to answer that and negate it. This campaign is essential to their operations and it must be stopped by our honesty and rationale thinking that shows why we must stop them, and the evil that these groups have done under a guise of misconstruing their faith.
I believe that much of this falls upon us within the military and our government in general. It is essential to both our success and to what is right. We must do a better job of telling our story to the American People. The American People deserve this, and they deserve to know why we are putting our young men and women in harms way.
God Bless America
Photo is from AP and part of the article. Sphere: Related Content
Friday, June 13, 2008
In recent weeks in both Iraq and Afghanistan we have seen the insurgent elements, while beaten back by the military forces, turn to a significant Information Operations Campaign. This is a natural part of insurgencies, but its implications are far reaching for us here in the United States. Mao said that insurgencies are comprised of four distinct operations; the conventional forces, the unconventional forces, the political leadership, and the information war to attract support to the insurgent and to take support away from the opposing conventional force. In every major insurgency within history the insurgents have at a critical time taken to trying to effect the will of the people within the conventional force's nation to continue the war; in Iraq that is the United States. We can look at the Philippines Uprising, the French in Indo-China, the French in Algeria, and our own war in Vietnam, and we see these same results.
Now as we look at Iraq and Afghanistan, we can see this very same trend presenting itself. There has been an effort in this area since the beginning, but as we go into the election season it has intensified, and it will only intensify more. The Mahdi Army while beaten militarily has withdrawn to staging large protests over the upcoming status of forces agreement that is in negotiations between the US and Iraq. In Afghanistan we have seen a recent upswing in violence that has attempted to maximize the usage of high profile targeting. These type of events are not coincidence, but rather part of a larger campaign. If the insurgents can effect us, can effect our will to stay the course, even though they lose every military battle, they can win the war.
The questions remains though, what does this mean for the American People? The answer is that we must look at the big picture, and not allow ourselves to be effected by the ramblings and attempted efforts of our enemies. As I have talked about before, fighting a counter-insurgency takes time. It is not something that is done or accomplished over-night. Our enemies know this, and will do anything to try to wear us down over time. They will also specifically try to target us during this very critical time of our national election. The best thing that all of us can do is to look at the big picture, and to think for ourselves, and not listen to our enemies or idle political rhetoric. To quote one of my favorite movies, The Patriot, "Stay the Course." It is not an easy thing to do, but it is the right thing to do, and our young Soldiers and Marines are counting on it.
Picture is from Alissa J Rubin / NY Times.
God Bless America
Bryan Sphere: Related Content
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
As I talked about in the first article about Iran, the country has a youth population that is enormous. Well over 50% of their country is under the age of 30. Due to factors such as globalization, the internet, and education levels rising amongst this group, they are well in tune with western culture. They frequent You-Tube, they download music, and they watch our television shows. This is a perfect example of an area where utilizing the information spectrum can help us. Launch a concerted effort to target this group of people and explain that the United States is not against them but rather the current leadership. Engage them and show them that life is better when not living in a totalitarian regime. Convince them that pursuing nuclear weapons is not a viable way forward and show them the alternatives. In short, show them why they should again begin to rise up against their government in protest and non-violent regime change. But the only way to do this is to reach out to them through these mediums.
The second way is that of diplomacy and economics mixed together. The reason I believe they should be combined is that one can not be executed in this situation without the other. We need to diplomatically engage our allies and neutral countries through direct diplomacy and the United Nations to create diplomatic treaties and United Nations Security Council Resolutions on the matter. Only in this way can we exercise sanctions and embargo's against Iran that would be effective. Without both UN SCR's and direct diplomacy we would be in a similar situation to pre-OIF Iraq, where certain countries were still trading with Iraq and giving them technology. That is unacceptable, and that is why I believe President Bush is in Europe this week. Utilizing direct diplomacy, he is laying the ground work for new sanctions within the United Nations. Exactly what he should be doing.
Once diplomacy has solidified the situation, then the United Nations Security Council can speak to the world as a whole. Iran is again told they are in violation of directives and that they will have even more stringent and severe sanctions put in place. Iran's economy is already feeling the pinch of the original sanctions. Companies are beginning to fail, non-durable supplies are in high demand and low quantity, and jobs are getting harder to come by. As sanctions become more stringent these conditions will only worsen. Then we complete the circle as we re-engage the population through information campaigns telling them that they do not have to put up with this, and they can bring about regime change.
Military options are always the very last resort. They are what is used when all else has failed. As Clausewitz would say, "war is the continuation of politics by other means." I do not believe that this is a means that is needed in this situation. As the United States and as a world community through the United Nations, we can utilize all of our National Strategy Means to accomplish stopping Iran's nuclear development, cease their sponsorship of terrorism, and watch a new regime that is not a totalitarian one come into being. It just takes leadership, a clear vision, and being able to explain to people why its important and what needs to be done. Something that as the United States I know we can do.
I have a lot more ideas on both Iran and how we should be leveraging all of our aspects of National Power and Strategy that I will be discussing in future posts.
God Bless AmericaBryan Sphere: Related Content
God Bless America
http://www.ourmilitarykids.org/ Sphere: Related Content
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
An excerpt from the article in the NY Times is below:
United States Marines pushed the Taliban out of this village and the surrounding district in southern Helmand Province so quickly in recent weeks that they called the operation a “catastrophic success.”
Yet, NATO troops had conducted similar operations here in 2006 and 2007, and the Taliban had returned soon after they left. The marines, drawing on lessons from Iraq, say they know what to do to keep the Taliban at bay if they are given the time.
“There is definitely someone thinking out there,” said Capt. John Moder, commander of Company C of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, speaking of the Taliban. “That’s why we need these people to be at least neutral to us,” he said, gesturing to the farmers who have been slowly filtering back to harvest their fields.
Originally sent to Garmser District on a three-day operation to open a road, the marines have been here a month and are likely to stay longer. The extension of the operation reflects the evolving tactics of the counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan, building on the knowledge accumulated in recent years in Anbar Province in Iraq.
I don't think that anyone would argue that in any counter-insurgency operation the people are the center of gravity that all operations must revolve around. This center point has far reaching implications for the military, the American people, and politicians to understand. In western society, we want to see immediate results. This is further compounded by the fast paced technologically enhanced world that we live in. If my email takes more then 10 seconds to download I'm starting to get angry. But, in a counter-insurgency, everything you do takes time. It is not as simple as just walking into a village, saying love and trust us, we're Americans; that trust must be earned. The steps that we must take, and that these Marines are taking right now, take time. It is time well spent for a lasting victory.
As was talked about in the article, this area of Afghanistan has seen these operations before. The difference is that when the operations ended, the troops left. This time is different, the Marines are staying. They are establishing combat outposts and living amongst the people. They see them everyday and interact with them everyday. This intense relationship cultivates trust and motivates action. The citizens of that village learn to police themselves, establish their own police, and work with the Afghan National Police. Projects that improve their way of life, and give them jobs and money also flow into the village with this. But in the end, time is that one precious commodity that can not be short-changed.
LTC John Nagl in his famous book, "Learning To Eat Soup With A Knife", has a tremendous example of this. He discusses how during the height of Viet Cong power in Vietnam, a young Marine Captain was sent into a very dangerous province to restore order and destroy the Viet Cong operating there. He did something radically different though. Instead of barricading his men in a Fire Base, he moved them out into the villages and lived there. This was a calculated risk, but it paid off. Within 6 months Viet Cong activity in his sector had dropped to almost zero. They had some firefights with them in the first two weeks of moving into position, but after that, there was nothing. The people learned to trust them, and started to turn in the Viet Cong. His story is that of a resounding success, but again, the most important factor is that it takes time.
As people again clamor to withdraw troops, and embrace an attitude of lets get this over with; we need to remember the big picture. We went into two countries, deposed their governments, destroyed their militaries, and much of their infrastructure in the process. Whether you agree with attacking in the first place is irrelevant, we are their now, and by international law we are responsible for re-establishing these countries. I have seen both of them come a great distance, in just my time there. But we can not jump to conclusions and be hasty, there is still much more to be done. These operations take time to do them right, and do them right we must. As I talked about last night with the country of Iran, they are just waiting for a chance to destabilize Iraq and destroy all that has been created there with American and Iraqi Soldiers' blood, sweat, and tears. That is a price that I simply can not pay, and can not stand to see happen.
God Bless America
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/10/world/middleeast/10embed.html?ref=world Sphere: Related Content
Monday, June 9, 2008
Below is an excerpt from the the NY Times Article about it, the link is at the bottom of the post.
Iran's supreme leader told Iraq’s visiting prime minister on Monday that the American forces in Iraq are the biggest obstacle to Iraqi stability.
The message from the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was the most authoritative public word to date on Iran’s objections to long-term security agreements currently under negotiation between the Bush administration and the government of Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.
The American military has been operating in Iraq under a United Nations mandate that has been renewed annually. The current pact Dec. 31, 2008.
“The most fundamental problem of Iraq is the presence of the foreign forces,” Ayatollah Khamenei told Mr. Maliki, according to excerpts of their meeting reported by the Iranian Students News Agency.
“The Iraqi government, Parliament and all the authorities who have been elected with public vote should take charge,” the ayatollah said.
Iranian officials strongly oppose the American military presence in Iraq, which they consider a major threat on their border. Yet it was the American-led effort that overthrew their hated enemy Saddam Hussein and brought about a coalition government in Baghdad dominated by Shiite political leaders, including Mr. Maliki, with strong ties to Iran.
The most surprising part of this comment is that Iran and Iraq were bitter enemies. They fought a long and extremely costly war, and then engaged in a semi cold war for years. So the question becomes why would you be mad when your neighbor gets rid of a brutal totalitarian regime for a democratic style of government? And, moreover, why would you try to destroy that democratic style of government by funding, supporting, and backing the insurgency in that country?
In all honesty, the answer is quite simple. When you, yourself are a totalitarian regime you don't want democratic governments on your borders. Iran now has two, Iraq and Afghanistan. Make no mistake, the Iranians are up to no good in Afghanistan as well. The same tricks and ploys that they are attempting to pull in Iraq are also feeding into the insurgency in Afghanistan. The problem for all totalitarian regimes is that when your neighbors are democratic and people have rights, your own people can see that. It serves as a catalyst to them asking the question, "Why do I have to live like this?" Then the answer is, "I can do something about this, I can change the way I live, just look at Iraq". That is the entire crux of this problem. The complete insecurities of another brutal totalitarian regime that keeps people in line with force and coercion and now sees the writing on the wall that it is no longer a valid state and fears for its own existence.
Iran has another large problem, their youth. Currently over 50% of their population is under the age of thirty. These young people enjoy the internet and western culture. They are far from ignorant and can imagine what it is like to live in the free society they see springing up around them. It was these very same students and young professionals that led various demonstrations in years past calling for reform. The Iranian Government's only way now of dealing with them is trying to find a large external enemy to point to as a threat, and to keep them in line through use of force and threat of force and imprisonment. This problem is their worst fear, and as the ruling members of government grow older, they will have to deal with this problem; and they are scared.
Finally, Iran has been snubbing its nose at the international community for a little over four years concerning its nuclear program. While the United States is half a world away, there is a small buffer of security that they feel safe in. But, with almost 175,000 US troops within a short aircraft flight, I am sure that they are a bit more worried. So what do you do? You fund and equip terrorist elements to try to destabilize your neighbors. You train these militias in being more effective at suicide attacks and blowing up convoys. In short, you train them to kill American and Iraqi soldiers, and civilians. I must say, not a very neighborly thing to do, more so the actions of a scared regime that has seen its day and now sees its own future crumbling in front of it.
The Iranian people are a proud and accomplished society. Their history is one of the oldest in the world and one of the most interesting and wonderful. It is time that they remember who they are, and deal with the totalitarian dictators that are oppressing them and rejoin the world community as an upstanding member of it.
God Bless America
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/10/world/middleeast/10iraq.html?ref=world Sphere: Related Content
Friday, June 6, 2008
Tonight I wanted to pay tribute to a very special man, and that man is my father. On a professional side he has set out and accomplished everything that he wanted both within the military and a civilian corporate life. On a personal note I could not think of a better father and friend. I have learned much from him, both from actual lessons and just watching and observing as a child. In all honesty I don't know where I would be today without his guidance, mentorship, and fathering. He's a Vietnam Veteran and I have picked his brain a great deal on the current situation and it has always unbelievably helped me. He has guided me through some of the toughest times in my life, and I am eternally grateful. In short Dad, Happy Birthday, thank you for everything, and I love you and miss you.
God Bless America
Bryan Sphere: Related Content
Thursday, June 5, 2008
I was going to discuss tonight what the average day is like for an American Soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan; but, I just read about this book, and had to make note of it. The title is called, "Final Salute", and is written by Jim Sheeler. I am sure most of you probably recognize the photo to the left of this, from the internet email that went around about a year ago. It was a very moving, sad, and for me personally, a very proud story about my brothers in the Marine Corps and how they handled the death of one of their Lieutenants. It talked in depth about the grief of his wife but also what the Marines did to take care of her in this horrible moment. This is just one of the stories that he wrote and is entailed his book.
Here is just a short excerpt from the article about this book:
“The scenes in this book are true,” Jim Sheeler writes of “Final Salute,” his book about fallen military personnel. “I witnessed most of them firsthand, and have the tear-smeared notebook to prove it.” Nobody who reads Mr. Sheeler’s account of just how the families of the dead are notified, the lost loved ones enshrined and their memories preserved and honored will have any question about where those tears came from.
I am by no means pushing his book. The times I have assisted families in these situations where a loved one has died have been some of the most heart wrenching in my life but an honor that I was extremely proud to do as a fellow soldier. I would highly recommend to anyone to read this book, check it out of the local library, or if you feel so inclined to buy it. I think the stories in it speak directly to what these young men and women stood for, how we as the military feel about our fellow soldiers, and how we take care of their families.
God Bless America
Photo is from Todd Heisler / The Rocky Mountain News Sphere: Related Content
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
I remember being on patrol one day in Mosul, and stopping to talk to an elderly lady that I had gotten to know quite well. She had a number of daughters, grandaughters and grandsons, and I was curious why I had only met the grandchildren. They were a very modern family and the women were not kept secluded from society, but we had never met them. She told me that she meant no offense, but years before she had another daughter that was taken from the University, raped, tortured and then killed by Saddam Hussein's thugs. They found her body by the river a few days after she dissapeared and she was barely recognizable. So even thought she did not believe that we would do this, she basically said she was never taking that chance again. I thanked her for her candor, and then she asked me again if I was insulted. I told her no, and that I was very sorry, and I valued her friendship very much. We went and had tea and nothing more was said about it.
The worst part of that story is that it was not an isolated incident. I do not know how many times in Mosul we met families that had daughters that had been kidnapped and horrible things done to them before they were killed. I have been to Uday and Qusay's palace and seen the, "pleasure room" ; I thought I was going to be sick at the sight of it. Just the sheer thought that hundreds of young women were taken away, and terrible things done to, is just a horrible, horrible thought. That is just one of the reasons we are in Iraq. We are there to ensure that the Iraqi people are a free people and they never have to live through that horror again.
I also worked extensively with the Kurds when I was in Iraq. I cant say enough about them, they are just an all-around great people. One of the memories that is still very seared into the Kurdish collective memory is the use of gas against them by Saddam. I have spoken to many Kurds who had family that were gassed and killed, or themselves witnessed the destruction and murder from a distance. I have seen the photos and video, I have read the reports, and through my training I know what gas does to a person as it kills them. It is absolutely horrible. This was the destruction and torture that Saddam Hussein unleashed on his own people. This wasn't just Kurdish soldiers though. This was men, women, children, and animals. Saddam would kill everything in these mountain villages during these attacks, no mercy, and no remorse; moving on to do it to another village the next day. We are in Iraq to ensure that there is a representative government so that no minority group is ever oppressed like that again. That no group is ever tortured and killed like that again.
My last example is from my tour of duty in Afghanistan. Very simply put in Afghanistan under the Taliban if you were a women you never knew what your day held in store. You could be a very respected school teacher, wearing a complete Burka; but the wind might catch it the wrong way and next thing you knew you were being shot to death. You could be a widow and have no family and you sit on the street begging for money so you will survive another night, and a Taliban fighter comes up to you and shoots you. You could be a young man whose beard wasn't long enough so the Taliban came and killed you and took your wife for themselves. These aren't made up stories, or stories that I saw on the news; all of these are first hand accounts from people who witnessed it. Now under the new Government in Afghanistan all people are treated fairly. Women hold positions within the government and even minister level positions. One of the greatest honors I had in Afghanistan was being able to meet the Minister of Women's Affair's. She was an absolutely incredible lady. But this is why we are there, people that for so many years that only knew death and destruction and brutality now have a chance for a real life. They have a chance to enjoy freedoms that we sometimes have come to take for granted as they just exist.
We fight to defend our nation, but we also fight so that the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan never have to go through this again. As many fathers and mothers have told me there, we are so glad that things have changed, and that our young sons and daughters will never know that pain. I am equally glad, all people deserve that, they all deserve to be treated like human beings. That is the other reason we are fighting.
God Bless America
Bryan Sphere: Related Content
Excerpts from the article:
South of Baghdad, Iraqi villagers and soldiers unearthed at least 13 bodies from a shallow, dusty grave in farmland on the outskirts of Latifiyah, a mostly Sunni town that also has some Shiite residents. The bodies were first discovered Tuesday, but digging continued a day later.
Associated Press Television News footage showed Iraqi troops and civilians clawing through dusty soil with shovels. At least three severely decomposed bodies could be seen in side-by-side graves. One had a turban or bandage tied crudely around his head.
The U.S. military could not confirm the discovery, but said its soldiers, acting on a tip from a local citizen, found at least 10 decomposed bodies Tuesday in a separate location, in the sewer shaft of a building in east Baghdad. Those victims appeared to have died more than two years ago, said Lt. Col. Steve Stover, with the Army's 4th Infantry Division. Iraqi police have taken over the investigation, he said.
Latifiyah, which lies about 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of Baghdad, was taken over by al-Qaida-linked militants a few years ago, and became a hotbed of Sunni militant activity before U.S. and Iraqi forces regained control late last year, said Iraqi Maj. Faisal Ali Hussein, who supervised that digging Tuesday.
Link to the site is located below.
God Bless America
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,362807,00.html Sphere: Related Content
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
"Well, the purpose of the surge was to provide a secure space, a time for the political change to occur to accomplish the reconciliation. That didn’t happen. Whatever the military success, and progress that may have been made, the surge didn’t accomplish its goal. And some of the success of the surge is that the goodwill of the Iranians-they decided in Basra when the fighting would end, they negotiated that cessation of hostilities-the Iranians."
Now I am not going to ridicule The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, she is a member of our legislative branch of government and I am a uniformed service member, and I simply will not do that. But I will point out the fallacies in the statement and where it is incorrect. First the statement says that the Iraqi's did not accomplish the goals to their mission. Second it states that the only reason that their was a seemingly accomplished mission was that the Iranian's stepped in and executed it. I don't even know where to begin.
Well, yes I do. First off the Iraqi Army executed these missions almost completely independent of the United States Army. Most of the missions conducted were by themselves, and a small amount were with advisers. So in a three year span the Iraqi Army goes from not being able to conduct complicated platoon and company operations and now are conducting ten thousand man movements and attacks but that is not a success? I would say that is incorrect and that it is a success.
Second in the city of Basra the Iraqi Army had some very hard fought battles. They effectively attacked, and accomplished their missions. They utilized USAF and US Army Attack Aircraft through their advisers and operated in combined arms formations utilizing their own tanks and armored personnel carriers. Three years ago the most I saw was 4x4 trucks with automatic weapons mounted in the back. Again I would call this a success.
Third in Sadr City the Iraqi Army flowed through the breaks in the concrete barriers that we had established and seized every single one of their objectives completely by themselves within 36 hours. They took minimal casualties, and where they made contact they reacted aggressively and destroyed the enemy elements. Again, I would call this a success.
Now I will temper these comments with the problem of a couple of police stations in Basra abandoning their posts during the initial fighting. From all news reports I have seen, it looks like a very true situation. The counter-argument to that though is how many stations manned their posts and fought back. By my math from just reading the news that would be a ball park number of 90% manned their posts and fought well. The Iraqi Government replaced those police station commanders that fled and brought in new police, and from all reports they are doing very well. Again I would say a victory.
Finally the issue of the Iranians. It has been talked about in every major news affiliate that the Iranians are actively supporting the insurgency in Iraq. Just today we see this off of a FOXNEWS Article:
The military said it also captured a suspected Shiite militia leader Tuesday south of Baghdad. The U.S. refers to such fighters as members of Iranian-backed "special groups" who are defying a cease-fire order by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Many of them are believed to have fled recent fighting in Baghdad's Shiite militia stronghold of Sadr City.
I truly believe that it has been made public enough by the Military and the Administration of this country that the Iranians are supporting the insurgency movement in Iraq. By international law, and United Nations mandate a very serious offense when dealing with sovereign nations. So to say that the Iranians are helping anything is just completely incorrect. The only thing they have been doing is train and equip the insurgents.
Finally the idea that Prime Minister Al-Maliki had nothing to do with the success of this operation is down right wrong. Here is a countries leader that not only took a hard line against men of his sect of Islamic faith, but he also flew down to Basra to oversee the operation. Now we can argue how much of that was for show, but the fact was that he was there. He knows enough about leadership to be where the decisive point is, and that was a decisive point for the Iraqi Government. Again, a huge success story.
Personally my deepest and sincerest congratulations go out to the Iraqi Military for what they have accomplished over the last month and a half. I am very proud to have worked with them and call many of them my friend. They are most definitely a success story in all aspects.
God Bless America
From the article by William Kristol:
More striking is Obama’s sin of omission. In the rest of the speech, he goes on to detail — at some length — the “so many ways to serve” that are available “at this defining moment in our history.” There’s the Peace Corps, there’s renewable energy, there’s education, there’s poverty — there are all kinds of causes you can take up “should you take the path of service.”
But there’s one obvious path of service Obama doesn’t recommend — or even mention: military service. He does mention war twice: “At a time of war, we need you to work for peace.” And, we face “big challenges like war and recession.” But there’s nothing about serving your country in uniform.
But at an elite Northeastern college campus, Obama obviously felt no need to disturb the placid atmosphere of easy self-congratulation. He felt no need to remind students of a different kind of public service — one that entails more risks than community organizing. He felt no need to tell the graduating seniors in the lovely groves of Middletown that they should be grateful to their peers who were far away facing dangers on behalf of their country
God Bless America
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/02/opinion/02kristol.html?bl&ex=1212638400&en=1eb8810aa368ce95&ei=5087%0A Sphere: Related Content