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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Iraq Embeds:Risking Life and Limb to Bring Us Truth

Snooper has already mentioned Michael Yon's latest piece in the previous post and as usual, he points to someone that is risking his life for no other reason than to bring us the truth here at home.

After following links from all over I am looking at 14 tabs in the mozilla/firefox browser, all discussing Iraq and the latest offensive the U.S. forces and the coalition and Iraqi army have begun against al-Qaeda.

Starting where the Previous post "Be Not Afraid" leaves off, we return to Michael Yon.

For those familiar with Yon's work, it is understood that he doesn't pull any punches in discussing the mistakes that have been made in Iraq by our administration, he bings us the bad news as well as the good news from Iraq and his analysis have been on target in a consistent manner.

This campaign is actually a series of carefully orchestrated battalion and brigade sized battles. Collectively, it is probably the largest battle since “major hostilities” ended more than four years ago. Even the media here on the ground do not seem to have sensed its scale.

Al Qaeda and associates had little or no presence in Iraq before the current war. But we made huge mistakes early on and are pumping blood and gold into the region to pay for those blunders. When we failed to secure the streets and to restore the stability needed to get Iraq on its feet, we sowed doubt and mistrust. When we disbanded the government and the army, and tolerated corruption and ineptitude in reconstruction, we created a vacuum and filled the ranks of an insurgency-hydra with mostly local talent. But when we flattened parts of Fallujah not once, but twice, primarily in response to the murders of four of our people, we helped create a spectacle of injustice and chaos, the very conditions in which Al Qaeda thrives.

He also shows us that al-Qaeda in Iraq is strong but they have alienated the Iraqi people by raping their women and beheading innocent civilians, alienated them to the point where the iraqi Tribal leaders are working to expel al-Qaeda.

Today Al Qaeda (AQ) is strong, but their welcome is tenuous in some regions as many Iraqis grow weary enough of the violence that trails them to forcibly evict AQ from some areas they’d begun to feel at home in. Meanwhile, our military, having adapted from eager fire-starting to more measured firefighting, after coming in so ham-fisted early on, has found agility in the new face of this war. Not lost on the locals was the fact that the Coalition wasn’t alone in failing to keep the faith of its promises to Iraqis.

Whereas we failed with the restoration of services and government, AQ has raped too many women and boys in Anbar Province, and cut-off too many heads everywhere else for anyone here to believe their claims of moral superiority. And they don’t even try to get the power going or keep the markets open or build schools, playgrounds and clinics for the children. In addition to destroying all of these resources, and murdering the Iraqis who work at or patronize them, AQ attacks people in mosques and churches, too. Thus, to those listening into the wind, an otherwise imperceptible tang in the atmosphere signals the time for change is at hand.

Yon then goes on to discuss General Petraeus as well as admitting how close he has come to joining the "Out of Iraq" faction of our country. He also considers General Petraeus as the only "doctor" that he believes can save the "patient" (Iraq).

Throughout 2006, my belief grew that Petraeus should be running this war. And though I had reached my own conclusions, others thought the same. I had seen and written about much progress during 2005, but had repeatedly written that the Civil War could undermine the effort. During 2006, people finally began to admit that there was Civil War in Iraq, and that it was growing, but as 2006 drifted into 2007 without any measurable response to increasingly untenable conditions on the ground, my confidence was eroding rapidly. At the rate things were going, I figured I might soon be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with deeply and richly experienced people like Joe Galloway, who thinks we should be out of Iraq yesterday.

The Turnaround:

But today, based on what I know first hand about this war, I respectfully disagree with Joe and the crowd of people who share his view that this war cannot be won. On this one point, because I just happen to be a person who has seen this doctor operate on a part of this patient, and I was able to see first hand that the work he did in 2003/4 is still holding today, I think we don’t call the code unless and until Petraeus says so.

n the short time since Petraeus took charge here, Anbar Province – “Anbar the Impossible” – seems to have made a remarkable turnaround. I just spent about a month out there and saw no combat. I have never gone that long in Iraq without seeing combat. Clearly, some areas of Anbar remain dangerous—there is fighting in Fallujah today—but there is also something in Anbar today that hasn’t been seen in recent memory: possibilities. There are also larger realities lurking up on the Turkish borders, but the reality today is that the patient called Iraq will die and become a home for Al Qaeda if we leave now.

You need to read his whole piece, I have only shown you portions, he discusses the political, the negative, the positive and the ramifications of a premature withdrawal.

The thing I notice about Yon and others that embed, such as Bill Roggio from the Fourth Rail, is they do not sit comfortably in the Green Zone and rely on stringers to get their information as our media outlets do, they are there, where the fighting is, where the bombs go off and they are giving us a firsthand look into the battle that rages around them.

Why would they do this?

To bring us, here at home, the truth. Bad and Good. Failures and Successes.

When you are done reading Michael Yon's piece, then head on over to Bill Roggio's site because, he too, is telling us what is happening in front of his eyes.

With the last U.S. combat brigade to hit the ground over the last two weeks as part of the surge, Multinational Forces Iraq has declared the beginning of “major combat operations” in the belts regions surrounding Baghdad. The Baghdad Belts, which included Eastern Anbar, northern Babil, and southern Salahadin and Diyala provinces, has long been a staging area for al Qaeda and insurgent operations into Baghdad, and a key part of the Baghdad Security Plan is denying these regions to the enemy.

In the June 16 briefing given by Defense Robert Gates, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, General Petraeus explained that the past four months have set the stage for the "large, coordinated offensive operations" which kicked off over the weekend. The combat, logistics and intelligence pieces have been "put in place over the past several months," while a clear intelligence picture was developed of the regions surrounding Baghdad. "We have been doing what we might call shaping operations in a lot of these different areas [in the belts], feeling the edges, conducting intelligence gathering, putting in special operators."

The picture on the Battle of the Belts is still developing. Based on the available open source information, current operations are ongoing to the north, west and south of Baghdad. Multiple U.S. and Iraqi units are operating at the brigade and division level.

He then goes on to give us specifics about the operations North, South and West of Baghdad as well as what he calls the "Endgame Baghdad".

These two men are must reads if one wants to know exactly what is happening in the battle zones of Iraq, for those that want all the information instead of just the death tolls.

Over the last couple of months we have seen some of our politicians claim that "the surge isn't working" they do this with complete intellectual dishonesty because they fully know that the last of the troops that are part of the surge, JUST ARRIVED THIS WEEK and as Yon and Roggio have told us, they immediately started their major offensive.

Even Wapo and NYT, the dueling duo that has participated in that intellectual dishonesty of reporting failures of a surge that hadn't begun operations because the full contingent hadn't arrived yet, is NOW admitting that the "Major Offensive" is just beginning.


BAGHDAD, June 19 -- U.S. troops backed by helicopters and Bradley Fighting Vehicles launched a major offensive Tuesday to clear the Sunni extremist group al-Qaeda in Iraq from its new stronghold in Diyala province north of the capital, the U.S. military said in a statement.


The Diyala offensive involves about 10,000 U.S. soldiers, making it one of the largest military operations since the Iraq war began more than four years ago. The operation, code-named Arrowhead Ripper, is focused in the area around Baqubah, the capital of Diyala, a mixed Shiite-Sunni area that in recent months has become one of the most violent regions in Iraq.

The offensive began under cover of darkness "with a quick-strike nighttime air assault" by the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, the military statement said. "By daylight, attack helicopters and ground forces had engaged and killed 22 anti-Iraqi forces in and around Baqubah," it said.

There were no reports of U.S. casualties.

The statement said that the operation was "a large scale effort to eliminate al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorists operating in Baqubah and its surrounding areas."

"The end state is to destroy the al-Qaeda influences in this province and eliminate their threat against the people," Brig. Gen. John M. "Mick" Bednarek, deputy commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division, was quoted as saying. "That is the number one, bottom-line, up-front, in-your-face, task and purpose."


The explosion came on the second day of a major offensive against Sunni insurgents in and around Baghdad. More than 10,000 coalition troops pushed their way through Diyala province and thousands more engaged in operations near the capital.

I have to wonder sometimes if the editors of those two rags get their emails asking them how they could report, on a consistent basis, that the surge was not working, when they had the knowledge that the full amount of troops hadn't even arrived yet and the major operations for the surge hadn't even begun.

I would like out Democratic politicians to answer that same question.

It is time, well past time, that we force our MSM to start reporting objectively and to live up to the standards that our embedded journalists, Michael Yon and Bill Roggio have set.

It is also well past the time that we hold the Democratic politicians, like Baghdad Reid, accountable for their public words meant to deliberately encourage our enemies and demoralize our troops.

We are a nation at war.... perhaps it is time to declare to the world as one, that we will not surrender and we did not start this war, but we sure as hell intend to win it.

That is a message I have not heard from one Democratic politician, even those with presidential aspirations.

Who on earth would vote for someone to become President of the United States of America if they were proposing to surrender to the enemy as their first presidential act?

The Telegraph and Operation Iraqi Freedom are reporting on the major offensive also.

Other bloggers giving analysis of the new offensive:

Flopping Aces, Neptunus Lex, Captain's Quarters, QandO, Confederate Yankee, Black Five, Jules Crittenden, Macsmind, Michael P.F. van der Galiƫn and Mudville Gazette.

A Shot in the Dark doesn't give commentary but does suggest that Michael Yon's report get mailed to Harry "Bagdad" Reid.... DAMN good suggestion.

Here is Baghdad Reid's contact form.