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Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Good, the Young and the Brave

A couple news stories caught my eye this morning....the first about a few of our fallen soldiers.

One was a Navy medic, the other a Marine sergeant. Both begged to go back to Iraq for another tour of duty. A third followed her brother into the Marine Corps and, eventually, into the war.

All three died this week as stepped-up security operations intensified fighting.

Begged to go back to Iraq after having already been there....why?

If, as the critics claim, it is "unwinnable", if things were as bad as the MSM would have you believe by telling you all the bad and deliberately hiding the good news from you, why would these brave young men and women keep going back? Why would they volunteer and "beg" to go back, even over the objections of their families? (Link above fixed)

Because they believed in the mission. Because they believed that the Iraqi's deserve a chance to live in freedom.

Seaman Manuel Ruiz, 21, from Maryland's Eastern Shore was among seven people killed when a Marine transport helicopter crashed in Anbar province Wednesday, his family said.

Marine Sgt. Joshua J. Frazier, 24, from Virginia's Spotsylvania County was killed by a sniper Monday as he stood on a rooftop in Ramadi, the Pentagon and his family said yesterday.

And Marine Cpl. Jennifer M. Parcell, 20, of Bel Air, Md., died Wednesday in Anbar province in what the Defense Department described as "supporting combat operations."

Ruiz, whose mother, Lisa, also served in the Navy, was 14 days into his second tour in Iraq when he died, said Adam Lusk, a family friend who fought back tears as he described Ruiz's dedication to his job, helping to save lives. "He pretty much demanded to go back."


Likewise, Frazier believed so deeply in his mission in Iraq that he ignored pleas from his family and begged, pleaded and knocked on doors to get the Marines to send him back to Iraq. It was his third time in combat after previous tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

What is it that they saw while in Iraq that we, here in the US, are not seeing?

We hear the cries to bring our troops home, yet the reenlistment rate is high, showing that the troops know something we don't, otherwise why keep reenlisting?

July 10, 2006: The U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division, after recent action in Iraq, broke a record for the percentage of eligible troops who signed up for more years of duty. Normally, the reenlistment rate would be 30 percent. But this time around, the 101st had 61 percent of eligible troops reenlisting.

We see death and destruction in every news story coming from Iraq.....they see the progress they make and the successes.

Last night, 4th Platoon won a small victory in the battle against AQI. Under the command of Lieutenant Anthony Friel, four Marine humvees on patrol spotted a white Toyota parked close to a house along the Euphrates River. Both the Toyota and the house looked suspicious. Quickly, the Marines surrounded the latter, and knocked on the door.

Inside the house were several young men (with dubious identification), women and children, as well as an older man. The squad leader, Corporal Jon Bates, and his Marines thoroughly searched the young Iraqis. After discovering one ID marked in English “Progressive Mosque Security,” a subsequent search of the young man's Toyota turned up sophisticated IED triggering devices, a pressure plate and an AK-47. Two were detained.

At the same time, another pair of locals were pushing a small skiff up the river, and seemed to be moving to land at the house. The Marines on the riverbank spotted an AK-47 in the boat’s bottom, and they fired a pyrotechnic flare. The locals turned the boat around and fled downriver. The Marines chose not to pursu

As it turned out, the older gentleman was the real prize. He was Sheik “X”, the local Okhash tribal elder, and he was fully aware of how the Marines and Sheiks were cooperating in rebuilding Ramadi thirty miles west (ON Point reported from Ramadi last week). Having tribal connections in the Ramadi area, Sheik X said that he wanted to use it as a model for Marine assistance to drive AQI and the others from his city. He said that he had been “biding his time” before contacting them.

Calmly, the Sheik watched as the Marines detained the two young men in the house, volunteering that if they were “bad guys” he was happy to see them go. “You and I are going to find a way to work together to make this area better,” he told Lt Friel, “like Ramadi.” The Sheik added that it was “Iranians and foreigners” who were destabilizing his tribal area. “Iranians are forcing out the doctors and teachers. Soon this town will look like Afghanistan.”

He invited the Lieutenant and others to share his dinner, where the discussions and negotiations continued. Sheik X wants the “same deal” as the Marines and Sheiks cut in Ramadi. In that area, the Marines handle overall security, and permit the locals and tribal elders a degree of freedom to handle local security.

The Sheik repeatedly emphasized his interest in working with the Marines in order to protect his tribe against the Shia. Next to halting AQI’s brutal terror campaign against the Sunni tribes, the largest worry in Anbar Province is that Shia – a generic term ranging from Iranians to the Prime Minister Maliki’s government in Baghdad – will stamp out the Sunni in Anbar.

In their own small-scale way, the residents of Saqliwiah are pushing back against both AQI and the Shia. They’ve re-opened a maternity clinic, a kindergarten, and are filling potholes and repaving the streets. Golf Co. supports such endeavors if asked, but Sunni contractors and workers are still regularly targeted by AQI snipers. The work progresses, however slowly.

We see our soldiers deaths thrown at us as "proof" that we are in an unwinnable conflict....they see the deaths of the enemy and the smiles on the faces of the Iraqi's in the many areas that we have seen success in.


BAGHDAD – Coalition Forces conducted an air strike Thursday evening after receiving heavy enemy fire during a raid targeting al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists and foreign fighter facilitators.

While receiving enemy fire from several directions, ground forces called in for air support. Eight terrorists barricaded themselves inside one of the buildings and continued to fire at the ground forces. Coalition aircraft dropped precision bombs on the building, resulting in its destruction and the deaths of the eight terrorists.

No Coalition Forces or innocent Iraqis were injured during the air strike.

The operation was part of ongoing efforts to eliminate terrorists and disrupt their operations in the Arab Jabour area.

We see the areas of Iraq that have the majority of fighting and insurgents on our televisions and in the news every night.....they see the areas they have taken control of, stabilized, built schools, started businesses and are thriving. In other words...they see their success, we do not. That is definitely the fault of the media for not showing the complete picture in Iraq.

* Did you know that 47 countries have reestablished their embassies in Iraq?

* Did you know that the Iraqi government employs 1.2 million Iraqi people?

* Did you know that 3100 schools have been renovated, 364 schools are under rehabilitation, 263 schools are now under construction and 38 new schools have been built in Iraq?

* Did you know that Iraq's higher educational structure consists of 20 Universities, 46 Institutes or colleges and 4 research centers?

* Did you know that 25 Iraq students departed for the United States in January 2004 for the reestablished Fulbright program?

* Did you know that the Iraqi Navy is operational? They have 5- 100-foot patrol craft, 34 smaller vessels and a navel infantry regiment?

* Did you know that Iraq's Air Force consists of three operation squadrons, 9 reconnaissance and 3 US C-130 transport aircraft which operate day and night, and will soon add 16 UH-1 helicopters and 4 bell jet rangers?

* Did you know that Iraq has a counter-terrorist unit and a Commando Battalion?

* Did you know that the Iraqi Police Service has over 55,000 fully trained and equipped police officers?

* Did you know that there are 5 Police Academies in Iraq that produce over 3500 new officers each 8 weeks?

* Did you know there are more than 1100 building projects going on in Iraq? They include 364 schools, 67 public clinics, 15 hospitals, 83 railroad stations, 22 oil facilities, 93 water facilities and 69 electrical facilities.

* Did you know that 96% of Iraqi children under the age of 5 have received the first 2 series of polio vaccinations?

* Did you know that 4.3 million Iraqi children were enrolled in primary school by mid October?
* Did you know that there are 1,192,000 cell phone subscribers in Iraq and phone use has gone up 158%?

* Did you know that Iraq has an independent media that consist of 75 radio stations, 180 newspapers and 10 television stations?

* Did you know that the Baghdad Stock Exchange opened in June of 2004?
More recent success seen even as our politicians are playing with their non binding resolutions against the new strategy.

"Early progress has been made," he said. "We are beginning to see good, solid evidence across all the lines of commitment made by the Iraqi government, but it is very early in the operation. We are just in the opening days. So, in summary, so far so good, but we are in the very early days of what will be a very deliberate campaign that will unfold only over several months. We should not expect quick, easy or dramatic results."

General Lute says the Iraqi government has begun to meet its commitments to increase troop strength in Baghdad by an additional three brigades. Lute says one brigade has arrived in the capital, and the other two will deploy later this month.

U.S. officials say the lead Iraqi brigade arrived at 60 percent of its full strength, something Mark Kimmitt, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, calls adequate.

"There was never an expectation that these units would come in at 100 percent," said Mr. Kimmitt. "Thus far, the units that are coming in are coming in at adequate levels for them to perform the Baghdad security plan. The number that they come with was fully anticipated by the planners and it is still within the range that they believe is going to prove successful in the Baghdad security plan."

We see our senate and congress and politicians showing despair.....they see hope in Iraq and only see despair from the US.

Alluding to Washington’s partisan battles over Iraq, Abizaid said that when he visits the U.S. capital he senses a “despair” that does not exist in Iraq when he visits with Iraqi officials or with American troops and their commanders.

How is it that they see what many here insist is not there? Hope. Faith. Progress. Success.

How do we reconcile the two visions when they are so different?

The more important question in my mind is: What version are we to believe? What the politicians that have elections to worry about say? The half truths that the media deign to show us?

Or our soldiers that have their boots on the ground?

The answer is simple for me.....who do YOU believe?

More from Michelle Malkin.