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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Few Notes FromOur Soldiers to the American Public

I will start with my promise from yesterday about enlistment and re-enlistment.

Nov.1, 2006- Record setting pace for re-enlistment.

Dec. 13, 2006- Military meets or exceeds recruiting goals.

The soldiers speak with their boots on the ground. That should say it all.

The soldiers also have messages for the American Public, words I don't see splashed all over the media outlets, because what they say is somehow passed right over and ignored by some. What follows are not my words, it is theirs, I am simply giving it another forum so that new people can see what they have to say. For those who care.

This is from Pro Deo Et Patria- An Army Chaplain: I am a chaplain in the US Army, serving in Iraq.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006-:

Not a war, but reconstruction

One of the things I've noticed about the coverage of the war in Iraq, back in the US, is the absolutely negative way in which everything connected to it is being portrayed. This includes the media, and members of both political parties. And it comes from people who lack a very basic knowledge of the region or its people. Read this article on CNN for an example. Now, I understand that not every American knows that Al Qaeda is a Sunni organization, but shouldn't the guy who will be heading up the House Intelligence Committee know this?? Seriously... and these politicians are the ones telling us we're "losing."

What bothers me is the way that members of both parties have, a) Turned the war political, and b) Begun to talk about winning or losing in ways that we cannot. Coming back to the States for a bit, and seeing the TV coverage blows me away. What's getting lost in the mix are the Iraqis.

Let me offer a different way of thinking about this: We won the war in Iraq. Yes, past tense: we won. You see, militarily, we invaded Iraq, defeated their Army, and captured their leadership. On this point, we had a crushing and overwhelming victory. No questions about it. We did what we said we were going to do: invaded the country and deposed Saddam (remember, right before the war started, we gave Saddam 48 hours to leave office), and we inforced the weapons inspections. That was the "war." We won that.

What is happening now is the reconstruction and reconstitution of Iraq. In other words: putting it back together. We helped the Iraqis democratically elect a government. Check. We have trained and Army and Police Force. Check. The problem is that the government and military of Iraq are not doing a good job. That is the point on which things are failing. We have to stop thinking about this phase as winning or losing a war.

Over the past two years, we had one political party (the Democrats) pretending that nothing was going right over there, and we had the other political party (the Republicans) pretending that everything was going right over there. (In other words, BOTH are to blame) In the meantime, the Iraqis get hurt by our own self-obsession.

Things are failing because we have been so self-focused that we have failed to stop and ask "what do we need to do to improve the situation?" We have sat and argued about pre-war intelligence, about whether we should call it a civil war or not, about whether the Iraq war is part of the greater war on terror or a separate war, etc. In the meantime, we seem to have forgotten about.... the Iraqis.

What I find interesting about the Iraq Study Group report- which works under the assumption that we're "losing"- is that the people who seem to object to the report the most are the Iraqis. The reason: I think they see that America is getting bored, and is getting ready to leave them in a precarious position. It's kind of like a mother having a baby, and wondering why the baby isn't full grown after three years, and deciding that the best option would be to send the baby off on his own.

I wonder if we have the virtuous resolve to complete our committments, even when they turn out to be more difficult than we first believed?

Now would be a good time to mention that Bill Roggio is embedded with the military in Iraq, so keep up with his blog. You are constantly seeing what the media outlets let you see, but Roggio is there with the soldiers and giving you their perspective, good and bad.

Also some reaction to John Kerry and his little visit to Iraq that is upcoming.

From Andi's World:

Remember Kerry's "botched joke?" Remember the reaction from our troops? Despite that reaction, John Kerry is heading to Iraq.

Sen. John Kerry, whose botched joke about U.S. troops in Iraq dealt a blow to his presidential ambitions, will travel to Iraq this weekend to meet with soldiers, political leaders and military officials.

"I've talked to plenty of guys who've come back from Iraq, who are there now, who understand exactly what happened," Kerry said of his joke in a telephone interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. "They laugh at it."

Ha Ha Ha, Ho Ho Ho....

They're laughing AT you, not WITH you, Senator.

Takes a lot of guts to go into hostile terroritory. Somehow, I don't think this is about guts, but rather Presidential ambition. What part of "had my chance and blew it" does Kerry not understand?

UPDATE: We should ship some of these out to our troops before Kerry arrives...

This next one isn't about Iraq, it is simply about our military. It is from a blog called War in the Sandbox --The adventures of a Sailor in Afghanistan.

An Absolute Outrage

So I was poking around on the web, and I came upon a story proclaiming that members of the American Military are Seriously Overpaid. I simply couldn't imagine the logic behind such an article, so I decided to read it. What I found was both astonishing and outrageous. The level of ignorance Mr. Michael Crook demonstrates not only about the military, but live in general is simply abhorrent.

I am used to reading articles from people who don't support the Military, and who think any one who would join the military today must be a war-monger. Most of these stories are simply due to misunderstandings on the writer's part. But Michael Crook goes one step farther... He says "I simply cannot feel gratitude for the military, past or present. As far as I am concerned, they did not matter in the past, they do not matter now, and they will certainly not matter in the future."

Talk about ignorance. The military didn't matter in the past? Tell that to the colonists under English rule. Tell that to the slaves that were freed at the cost of so many MILITARY lives. Tell that to the occupants of Brittain, France and Poland during the World Wars. I normally encourage people to think for themselves, and to not follow the mainstream, but when making your own path, it should make sense. Learn some of the history and facts behind your writing Mr. Crook.

What is just as ridiculous is that he proposes that service men & women be paid $1,100 per month regardless of rank or time in service. He claims that this is more than enough for military members to live off of and support their families. I'd like to know where he thinks $1,100 per month is enough to live off of. He'd have our service men and women in poverty! Where does such arrogant disrespect and lack of appreciation come from? He claims that "those who cry that $1,100 per month is too little pay are the ones who joined with the intent to get rich off the American taxpayer."

Oh yeah Mr Crook... You sure are correct there! I am just raking in the dough... I am going to buy a Fortune 500 company next week. Bill Gates called me up and asked me for a loan. What are you smoking sir? Get rich? In what fantasy world do you think we are getting rich?

And to claim that we do no work, and do nothing to earn our pay is so insulting it physically revolts me. I challenge you sir to go to your nearest military facility and ask to spend one day in the life of a soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine, then tell me how easy you think it is...

What is it that you do that is so great for society Mr. Crook?

My challenge to my readers is to read his original article, in it's entirety and then contact this guy and let him know how you feel. Someone needs to open his eyes.

Things like this really make me wonder about some people and their need to insult our troops, the very same people who fight to protect them and all the rest of us. These people risk their lives every day and deserve respect, gratitude and at the very least, they deserve to have their words heard and to be spread around so the American Public can get a better idea of the truth than what they are learning from the major media outlets.

No one is saying that all is rosy and the picture is pretty in Iraq, but as these people will tell you, their successes get ignored, the progress they make goes unheard and I think that is SO unfair to them.

In news from Baghdad- Departing MNC-I commander discusses progress in Iraq

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

BAGHDAD — The Multi-National Corps – Iraq commanding general held a roundtable interview session at the CombinedPress Information Center here Tuesday as he prepares to relinquish command.

“I happen to believe that we have tremendous strategic interests in what we're doing over here,” said Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, MNC-I commanding general. “I happen to believe this is the most important conflict that we've been involved in the last 50 years.”

During the interview session Chiarelli expressed his views on the overall situation in Iraq.

“I hope we can start to focus with the new government, as it continues to get its legs underneath it,” Chiarelli said. “And I think it's absolutely essential that we give the Iraqis an opportunity to do exactly what they want to do, and that's to form their kind of democratic government here in Iraq. And no matter what we say back home, it's going to take time.

“I hope it will start to focus on some of the things that I'm talking about that I think will have as great an impact as say, increasing the number of Soldiers we have over here,” Chiarelli continued

One of this issues Chiarelli discussed was the security situation in Baghdad.

“As you get down into the individual police stations, one of the great things that happened with the Baghdad security plan was being able to basically have a police training team for every single one,” Chiarelli said. “We are about one to one. They're helping to train them, make them better, and start to fix some of the issues that we first saw when we got into the police, in a very focused manner that the police training teams allowed us to do.”

From training to equipping Chiarelli feels progress is being made. While the Coalition continues to equip the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Army continues to equip itself.

“I mean, that is something that is ongoing, a monumental task in building an army this size over this short period of time,” Chiarelli said. “Bringing it up both to a level of training and equipped to the level that it needs to fight this kind of fight.”

The overall situation in Iraq is very complex, Chiarelli said, and even though he is leaving, he said will continue to work toward the future of Iraq.

“I think it is singularly unique to our history,” Chiarelli said. “I know it's hard. I know how hard it is. And one of the things that I'm going to try to do when I get back is try to figure out a way to make it easier, because this is a relationship that we've got to continue.”

Chiarelli and his staff will be handing over the reins of MNC-I during a ceremony scheduled for Thursday.

Here is a link to find military blogs for those that are interested in what the soldiers have to say on a regular basis.

Last but not least we have the Saudi's now warning us about the ramifications of the US leaving Iraq before stabilizing it.

Saudi Arabia has told the Bush administration that it might provide financial backing to Iraqi Sunnis in any war against Iraq’s Shiites if the United States pulls its troops out of Iraq, according to American and Arab diplomats.

Captain Ed states the consequences quite well:

However, the advice is correct in this case. The result of an American withdrawal would be catastrophe for the region. Either the surrounding nations would have to use the sectarian groups to fight proxy wars with each other or they would have to actually send troops into Iraq to stop the violence, perhaps all the way to Baghdad. In that case, the various factions would pull Iraq apart, and Iran would gain valuable oil resources in the south and nearly surround the strategic nation of Kuwait. That would put tremendous pressure on another American ally and raise the stakes for control of the Persian Gulf.

The Saudis understand that the only power that can enforce some sort of coordinated security and keep Iraq from flying apart is the United States and its strategic allies in the Coalition. Our disappearance would fulfill all of the gloomy prophecies being offered as analysis now, and will create a vortex in the region that could easily touch off the war that critics want to avoid.

There you have it folks, re-enlistment numbers, enlistment goals being met, soldiers words and the consequences of our actions should we leave before completing our mission in Iraq.

Others discussing Iraq:
Captain's Quarters.
Hot Air.
Right Wing Guy.
My Way.