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Friday, April 13, 2007

Good News From Iraq: Mixed Bag of Treats

Below you will find the press releases from Centcom that your news media organizations deliberately do not tell you about.

But first.....

For those that want to see any successes and progress that our military is seeing in Iraq, they have already realized they will not get the news from the media, today, in order to get the facts weeded out from a reporters opinion, one must do the fact checking themselves.

Sad but true.

I read a couple of very good pieces today, which I will start with and below I will then show you some of the daily press releases that come out that no one bothers to report on, because we all know that for OUR mainstream media, if it doesn't bleed, it doesn't lead.

The first piece tells us what our soldiers and military think of how the media is handling the job of reporting the truth from Iraq, with some helpful suggestions to counter the "Military's Media Problem".

My main problem with this is that our military has a job to do and they are doing it spectacularly, fighting for our country, they shouldn't also have to worry about fighting the media war. If reporters were doing their jobs instead of trying to shape public opinion, they wouldn't have to either.

From Max Boot:

I’ve been traveling around Iraq for more than a week, spending time with U.S. forces. One constant is complaints about the news media. “Why doesn’t the press show the good we’re doing?,” soldiers ask. They wonder why the coverage seems so slanted.


The conventional military mindset sees the media as a potential enemy to be shunned at all costs. Officers who get quoted too much are derided behind their backs as “glory-seekers” or “self-promoters.” The focus is always supposed to be on the team, not the individual, and there is a general assumption that good deeds will speak for themselves. General George Casey, the former U.S. commander in Iraq (now about to become Army chief of staff), exemplified this point of view. He seldom spoke to the media and tightly limited who could speak on behalf of his command.

The result of such caution is to cede the “information battlespace” to critics of the war and even to outright enemies such as Osama bin Laden and Moqtada al Sadr, who have shrewdly manipulated press coverage. General David Petraeus, the new U.S. commander in Iraq, wants to engage more actively in what are known as “information operations,” and he’s off to a good start. He is, for instance, taking reporters with him on tours of the battlefield. On Saturday he had a correspondent from the San Antonio newspaper along when he traveled to Baqubah. (I also accompanied him, as did Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute.) But to be successful, Petraeus will have to get more officers to follow his example.

Some officers I met with earlier this week at Task Force Justice in the Khadimiya neighborhood of northwest Baghdad offered useful suggestions for what should be done: (1) require all battalions to set up a secure, comfortable room where reporters can stay and file stories; (2) contact media organizations to invite them to send embeds; (3) distribute lists of media contacts down to battalion and even company level and encourage officers to contact the press directly, bypassing the ponderous public-affairs bureaucracy; (4) grade battalion, brigade, and division commanders on how well they engage the press.

To this I would add one other idea: troops on the ground who see inaccurate reports about their operations should contact the media outlets in question and demand corrections—or take other steps to publicize the facts as they know them. In short: stop griping about the press in private and start doing something about it in public. That’s just what some military bloggers are already doing, but their activities are often frowned upon.

Read the whole thing....

Great suggestions here but once again, we are asking our military to fight our media battles, which is where WE come in.

Our military has made daily press releases available for us, good and bad news, not only our military and coalition deathtolls, which the media is very good at blasting, but also our enemies captures and deathtolls, which our media consistently ignores.

These are the releases I use for my Good News From Iraq series as well as other reports that I find online and off.

More about those press releases in a moment.

The next article I read was from Lt. Col. David Kilcullen, the Australian counterinsurgency adviser to Gen. David Petraeus:

With this kind of inept political action by the insurgents, it’s small wonder that in al Anbar, where only one out of 18 major tribes supported the Iraqi government a year ago, today 14 out of the 18 tribes are actively securing their people, providing recruits to the Iraqi police and hunting down al Qa’ida.

Please read the whole thing because the excerpt I showed here is only a small part of the progress they are seeing in Iraq.

The next item I will give you with a bit of warning, don't let your heart stop because this news of progress WAS shown in Wapo, although it takes digging to find it, we do see that our military is seeing the tide turn but they have been cautioned against "happy talk" by Robert Gates.

The title is "Marine General: Anbar Getting Better".

Still, on his visit Conway was told by numerous American commanders throughout Anbar that the tide had shifted against the extremist group al-Qaida in Iraq when Sunni tribal sheiks who previously opposed U.S. forces decided to start cooperating instead.

Some commanders said the extremists' key misstep was to interfere with the locals' black market trading, which al-Qaida co-opted in order to finance itself. Anbar stretches west from Baghdad to the borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.


The new cooperation has enabled U.S. forces in recent months to clear extremist elements from even the most violent areas, including Ramadi, and to put more Iraqi forces on the streets, Conway was told. Cooperation by the sheiks also has quickly created a Sunni police force in areas where none existed before.

Conway, dressed in his desert flight suit, noted that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has cautioned against "happy talk" about short-term improvements in Iraq that might not be sustained.

"I was guardedly optimistic in December," before Bush ordered an extra 21,500 American combat troops to Iraq, including 4,000 Marines to Anbar province, Conway said. Four months later he said he sees a decisively improved situation in Anbar, adding, "That's not too optimistic or too much `happy talk.'"

Conway's weeklong trip took him from one end of the province to the other, and to Baghdad for meetings with the top U.S. commanders and Iraqi defense officials.

Even more amazing was Barry McCaffrey, a retired Army general who has been a critic of the Bush administration's approach to the war, who wrote:

wrote in an assessment for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point after visiting Iraq last month that he found in Anbar a "real and growing groundswell of Sunni tribal opposition" to al-Qaida in Iraq.

"This is a crucial struggle and it is going our way _ for now," McCaffrey wrote.


Conway said he was encouraged to hear from Brig. Gen. John Allen, the No. 2 Marine commander in western Iraq, that he has begun bringing together international businessmen and Iraqi government representatives to discuss investment prospects in resource-poor Anbar, including possible oil exploration deals.

"Possibly we're on the verge of something very important there," Conway said.

If Conway's upbeat interpretation of recent developments in Anbar proves correct it will raise questions about the intelligence assessments last summer and fall of Col. Peter Devlin, who was the top intelligence officer at Marine headquarters in Anbar. Devlin reported that the political and security situation was grim and getting worse, and he said there was almost nothing the U.S. military could do to stop the insurgency.

"I think Colonel Devlin was wrong," Conway said in the interview.

Even Bush critics are finding signs of progress occuring all over Iraq.

In another buried article released from Wapo on March 25th, we see the title "Sunni Sheiks Join Fight Vs. Insurgency".

RAMADI, Iraq -- Not long ago it would have been unthinkable: a Sunni sheik allying himself publicly with American forces in a xenophobic city at the epicenter of Iraq's Sunni insurgency.

Today, there is no mistaking whose side Sheik Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi is on. Outside his walled home, a U.S. tank is on permanent guard beside a clutch of towering date palms and a protective dirt berm.

The 36-year-old sheik is leading a growing movement of Sunni tribesmen who have turned against al-Qaida-linked insurgents in Anbar province. The dramatic shift in alliances may have done more in a few months to ease daily street battles and undercut the insurgency here than American forces have achieved in years with arms.

The American commander responsible for Ramadi, Col. John W. Charlton, said the newly friendly sheiks, combined with an aggressive counterinsurgency strategy and the presence of thousands of new Sunni police on the streets, have helped cut attacks in the city by half in recent months.

In November 2005, American commanders held a breakthrough meeting with top Sunni chiefs in Ramadi, hoping to lure them away from the insurgents' fold. The sheiks responded positively, promising cooperation and men for a police force that was then virtually nonexistent.

Money quote from this article is from Al-Rishawi:

The killings left the effort in limbo, until a turning point; insurgents killed a prominent sheik last year and refused to let family members bury the body for four days, enraging Sunni tribesmen, said U.S. Lt. Col. Miciotto Johnson, who heads the 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment and visits al-Rishawi frequently in western Ramadi.

Al-Rishawi, whose father and three brothers were killed by al-Qaida assassins, said insurgents were "killing innocent people, anyone suspected of opposing them. They brought us nothing but destruction and we finally said, enough is enough."

It may have taken time, more time that the American public thought it should, considering they are "forced" to sit back in their comfortable homes, watching their television and becoming the experts they think they are because news outlets like CNN are shoving complete crap down their throats and they are buying it, hook, line and sinker, but the ending of the article says it all.

"I was always against these terrorists," al-Rishawi said in an interview inside his American-guarded compound, adjusting a pistol holstered around his waist. "They brainwashed people into thinking Americans were against them. They said foreigners wanted to occupy our land and destroy our mosques. They told us, 'We'll wage a jihad. We'll help you defeat them.'"

The difficult part was convincing others it wasn't true, and that "building an alliance with the Americans was the only solution," al-Rishawi said.

That is how the tides starting turning in Iraq. One Sheik at a time, one neighborhood at a time, one family at a time.

Krauthammer has an op-ed piece and a few lines stuck out to me:

How at this point -- with only about half of the additional surge troops yet deployed -- can Democrats be trying to force the United States to give up? The Democrats say they are carrying out their electoral mandate from the November election. But winning a single-vote Senate majority as a result of razor-thin victories in Montana and Virginia is hardly a landslide.

Second, if the electorate was sending an unconflicted message about withdrawal, how did the most uncompromising supporter of the war, Sen. Joe Lieberman, win handily in one of the most liberal states in the country?

And third, where was the mandate for withdrawal? Almost no Democratic candidates campaigned on that. They campaigned for changing the course the administration was on last November.

Which the president has done. He changed the civilian leadership at the Defense Department, replaced the head of Central Command and, most critically, replaced the Iraq commander with Petraeus -- unanimously approved by the Democratic Senate -- to implement a new counterinsurgency strategy.


From ABC's World News Tonight: (With video)

While it remains dangerous for Westerners to travel out of doors in the city, ABC's Terry McCarthy has spent the past week visiting five Baghdad neighborhoods where the locals said life is slowly coming back to normal.

McCarthy visited Haifa Street, otherwise known as "Sniper Street," as it has been considered one of the most dangerous parts of the city.

Now, people who live on Haifa Street say the violence is subdued enough that they can venture back onto the street.

At one tea shop a group of men actually asked the ABC News crew to film them to show life as it returns to normal.

And the improved conditions are already starting to benefit business, according to one shop owner.

"When people heard that it was safe they started coming out and spending money again," said Baghdad store owner Hussein Jihad.

Other signs of improvements: a mosque in Zayouna that was fire-bombed is now open for prayer, and Baghdad's biggest amusement park in Zawra is open again.

"It's safe here," said 12-year-old Abdullah. "There used to be some bullets, but not anymore."

Nobody knows if the small safe zone will expand or get swallowed up again by violence. But for the time being, people here are happy to enjoy a life that looks almost normal.

The Iraqi people are stepping up, at great risk to themselves and their families and one has to wonder why we are forced to hunt for these stories, these improvements instead of being able to open our front pages of our newspapers and having them jump out at us.

Are our papers so biased that they cannot bring themselves to honor our troops and coalition forces and instead continue to bury any good news?

Now, as promised, the news releases from Centcom, you tell me if you can find any of these on the front page of any major news media outlet.





These are just a few that I randomly picked, Centcom is a site people should visit daily if they want all the good news and all the bad news coming from Iraq and Afghanistan instead of the half truths and partial news they are getting from the MSM.

It is up to us, the American people, to insist on full coverage as well as help our military in the media war because it is not fair that they volunteer, repeatedly, some have reenlisted two and three times, knowing they will be returning to Iraq, it is not fair to ask them to also fight our information battles here at home.

They are doing enough...let us get up off our collective asses and help a little.