Friday, July 28, 2006

Mid-post hiatus

It’s hot. Across the world we are in the middle of global warming’s throws. Some places are hotter than others apparently. Parts of Europe are experiencing record highs and I saw on the news where California is using power in record numbers in order to escape the heat. People are dying from the heat and are complaining that it is the fault of those who failed to heed the calls from the Al Goreites in the world. If only we would have signed that damn Kyoto Protocol.

Now, as was the case on my first deployment, I can do nothing but laugh at the people who think 100 degrees Fahrenheit is hot (37.7 degrees Celsius for those more refined readers). I understand that not everyone has lived in the desert so I don’t expect those people to understand when I say that 100 degrees is refreshing. As I sat outside the other night when my power was out I thought to myself that “You know Tim it is pretty refreshing right now, I wonder how hot/cool it is?” So I went over to a thermometer and saw that it was 100, and oh what a cool 100 it was.

My first deployment was a far cry from what I am used to now. In 2003 there was nothing in our desert arsenal to provide relief from the overbearing heat. I slept on a cot in a tent in the middle of a southern Iraq desert. We had no AC, no fans, no nothing that was in the least bit comforting. I slept in boxers on three towels placed under each area where my skin touched my cot in order to soak up the sweat throughout the night. Each morning I arose with the sun and flies around 6am because it was too hot to sleep. One morning I stayed in my cot killing flies until 7am and when the hour was said and done I had killed 70 flies. I neatly piled them up and afforded them a proper funeral befitting the greatest of Athenian or Trojan warriors: I burned the hell out of them and sent a message to their compadres that I was no longer going to take their crap. I don’t think they got the message.

In 2003 there was a heat wave in France that killed some thousands of people. We read about it several times in the Stars and Stripes and each time could do nothing but laugh. I know it isn’t funny when people die but when they are dying from 97-degree heat and you are averaging 130 during the day it has to elicit some semblance of a smile. The hottest I saw it get in 2003 was 147 and that was on a thermometer right outside my tent. I wish I had the picture because I know there are going to be some skeptics out there.

With this most recent heat wave spanning the globe I once again am reduced to laughing. Ignorance is bliss they say and it is never truer when one thinks 100-degree weather is unbearable. Soldiers deal with 120 plus heat on a daily basis wearing 40-50 pounds of gear. Our body armor acts as an oven to intensify the heat so that each time we open our vests it is akin to opening the oven door to check on that Thanksgiving turkey. Blasts of heat wash over us and we quickly shut our vests so that our midsections are left alone to bear the brunt of what I like to call “The Body Armor Factor.” The BAF works something like wind chill does in the winter. You know when you hear the weatherman say something like “Well folks it is a cold one today. Your high will be 10 degrees while the low will be –5 with a –18 degree wind chill factor.” Well the same factor works in the desert. It may be 132 outside but inside your body armor it is closer to 150. Anyone want to lose that gut that seems to never go away? Do you have love handles that you would rather your lover never handle again? Sign up for the army and spend a summer wearing body armor. If you still have fat around your midsection after that I fear that you may need to visit your local plastic surgeon.

The great thing about this deployment compared to my first one is the trailers (chews) that we live in. I have my own AC that I control and have showers that I can take at the end of each day. The luxuries of home that some say make us too soft are what keeps us from going insane. I managed one year without a bed, real shower, good chow, AC, unbearable heat, etc. and I am glad that I don’t have to do it again.

So all your Brits and Californians out there take heart! You aren’t the only ones dealing with the heat. There are thousands of soldiers standing with you in your battle against the oppressive nature of God’s most recent wrath upon civilized humankind. I stand with you and say that enough is enough. Everyone join me in telling God that we will no longer stand for this kind of heat. We want San Diego weather and we want it now. This war would be much easier to fight in 70-degree weather. But until that day happens I will strap on a pair and keep my complaining to a minimum and realize that I am only doing this for a year at a time and the Iraqis live here for their whole life. No wonder they are so angry all the time.

Monday, July 24, 2006

In A Nutshell

After my last post I conversed back and forth with my father about the position I took and whether or not he thought my argument was well thought out. I am not sure if we exactly see eye to eye but for the most part we are on the same page. He wrote this email that follows to me in response to my wanting to post another comment further explaining my point. In a nutshell this is exactly how I feel about things right now.

“You got me. I don't see how this clears up anything that wasn't already clear. I don't see where you can make your point any better than you did. People are either agreeing or disagreeing down party lines. If there's anything you might do, its let it be known what you think about the usual position of the anti-Iraq crowd- that its an illegal war, that we went there for oil, WMD or Bush's daddy, that we ought to be isolationists and nuke people that attack us, etc., etc.

I get so tired of people that can't see that we were attacked because we gave radical Muslims the mistaken belief that we're so soft they could bring us down. WMD, democracy in Iraq, and so on have always been icing on the cake to me. After 9/11, we needed to change course and bring somebody down from the malarial swamp we call the Middle East. I would have been happy, after the Taliban, to have attacked anybody over there- Saddam happened to be my favorite. Our doing just that was brilliant to my mind, then and now. I don't expect things to be easy and Bush, et al, NEVER said it would be. Our showing the Middle East, and indeed the world, that the consequence of thinking of attacking the U.S. is more than you should ever dream of bearing, was NECESSARY and has produced much of the fruit we could have hoped for. I think a big part of the reason that much of the Arab world is being relatively compliant about Israel aggressively defending itself, is that we have convinced the rational Muslims that continuing to oppose us is a bad idea.

We are in Iraq to change the mind of the world that Vietnam was the exception, not the rule, for America. We need to stay not just so the fledgling democracy in Iraq can get a real start, but so that the rest of the world knows that America has the will to defend itself and therefore that to become our enemy is to commit suicide. Peace thru superior firepower is part of it, but we need to demonstrate beyond doubt, that this new idea of asymmetrical warfare against the US is as stupid as taking us on conventionally. There are other potential enemies out there who are studying this war to discover how to undo us. If we are to have much of a future, we need to convince others that they are better off pursuing peace than war against us, and by extension, our friends (i.e. other non-totalitarian countries).

There are lots of radical Muslims left to convince. If we stop this war before we destroy or otherwise pacify most, if not all of them, the swamp will quickly become malarial again. The swamp must be drained. The leaders of Iran, one way or the other, must be brought down. Do that and I suspect the people of Lebanon and Syria will straighten out their countries. If not, we do it for them. After that, there are more in Asia, Africa and South America that need killed. If we take them on one by one, steadily grinding away, I think entire regions of the world will take ownership of the fight themselves, much the same as General Ali has in Qayyirah (or whatever its called). I think far from being a reason to come home, the number of our losses is among the reasons for staying with this fight. We keep figuring out more and more how to fight these guys efficiently, minimizing loss of life. There's a deployment plan that will help keep from burning our forces out and we need to rapidly implement it.

In this real world we live in, there are no options that allow us to solve these problems without some of our people sacrificing their lives. As a society, we should hope these come from our fighting forces. If you're not prepared to do this, then stay out of the military. For those that are, the rest of us need to impress the world with how we esteem and care for our war fighters. You guys should take the place sports heroes have in our society. Little boys should grow up hoping to be soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen, before pursuing other dreams. Those of us who eschew this great calling, should live out our days with regret for only half lived.

I can see no other hope for the world to enjoy some measure of peace and stability. Is there another candidate for dealing with evil in the world that makes any sense?”

I am not sure why he hasn’t started his own blog yet as I think he has a lot of good things to say, but until he does I’ll continue to steal and post his ideas as if they were my own. As far as another way for dealing with evil I can only think of one: create a reality TV show called “Extremist Russian Roulette” and invite six new terrorists on each six week series and tell them that whoever survives until the next week will receive a lifetime supply of cell phones and detonation cord. The last man standing after each series gets to go onto the next series and so on and so forth.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Supporting The Troops…Or Not

Many patriotic Americans want to say that it is impossible to support the troops while not supporting the mission they are currently undertaking. They think if you argue against the war there is no possible way that you can possibly appreciate the work soldiers do day in and day out. I disagree. I know my saying this will probably anger more than a few of my readers but bear with me and consider my reasoning.

Not too long ago I was a subscriber to this train of thought. I often wondered how people could support what we were doing if they thought what we were doing was wrong. It sounded like a logical impossibility to me. There is no way I could support someone while they continued to do something that I wholeheartedly disagreed with. That would be like supporting Nazi soldiers at concentration camps who didn’t necessarily agree with what they had to do but did it anyway because they were commanded to. How could anyone do such a thing?

Over the past couple of weeks though, I have come upon two individuals that have changed my opinion: Ben Stein and Cher.

Ben Stein has been a tireless supporter of troops and is almost unequaled in his admiration for the job troops do. He frequently posts on American Spectator and has several wonderful articles about his respect for troops. Here is an excerpt from his article titled Greetings From Rancho Mirage.

“And, friends in the armed forces, this is the story of all America today. We are doing nothing but treading water while you guys carry on the life or death struggle against worldwide militant Islamic terrorism. Our lives are about nothing: paying bills, going to humdrum jobs, waiting until we can go to sleep and then do it all again. Our most vivid issues are trivia compared with what you do every day, every minute, every second.”

I doubt anyone can say it better than Mr. Stein does in that article. But while Mr. Stein supports the troops he also has some not so kind words for the President. In an article entitled “Keeping The Faith” he talks about Iraq being a mistake.

“Iraq was a mistake. And it’s turning out badly. We lack the national will to win this war. We had no good reason to be there in the first place. (Thank you, CIA.) We were supposed to not get into any more wars we did not absolutely need to be in. If we did get into them, we were supposed to go in with enough force to win. We screwed up every part of this and it’s a mistake.”

Cher is another example of someone who can tirelessly support the troops while continuing to disagree with their mission. I read an article about Cher the other day in the Stars and Stripes that mentioned how she became a spokesperson for Operation Helmet, which is an organization that supports getting better military helmets for soldiers. As a result of her involvement she has visited many wounded soldiers and plans a trip to Iraq in the future. In the article she expresses her admiration for soldiers but when asked how she could be for the troops and against the war she replied:

“I don’t have to be for this war to support the troops because these men and women do what they think is right. They do what they’re told to do. They do it with a really good heart. They do the best they can. They don’t ask for anything. They just do what they’re supposed to do. So, my beef is not with them at all.”

What makes Mr. Stein’s and Cher’s disapproval of the war while at the same time applauding the troops okay in my book is their unwillingness to undermine the war effort. There is a difference between disagreeing with the war on reasonable (or not so reasonable in most cases) grounds and disagreeing with the war while at the same time providing aid and comfort to the enemy like so many people do when they publicly denounce the war and America for fighting it.

Take for example people like Cindy Sheehan, John Kerry, John Murtha, Joe Biden and the whole slew of the anti-war crowd. They often purport to support the troops while at the same time undermining our efforts in the Middle East. By their actions and words-leading anti-war rallies that include groups such as Code Pink ANSWER and speaking out against the actions of troops, they encourage terrorists to keep up their fight. Code Pink and ANSWER, while claiming to be anti-war, are merely Communist front groups who wish ultimately to see the demise of democracy and capitalism. They do not care about the American soldiers fighting and dying each day in Iraq and Afghanistan they merely want to sow as much hatred towards the beacon of freedom and liberty that is the United States of America by using any and every controversy that might divide us. They aren’t particular if it gives them the hope that it might bring violent revolution to our streets.

These anti-American groups embolden the very people who are fighting against the troops that they claim to care about. When they take out ads in Iraqi papers, as Code Pink has done, to denounce the war they only show support and solidarity for the cause of the Islamofacists. Apparently these groups know their recent history. This type of “support” caused the Vietcong to keep up their fight until the American military withdrew from Vietnam and claimed defeat even though in every sense of military victory they were winning. The old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” no longer holds true. Sticks and stones will bounce off my body armor but the words of Americans will encourage our enemies and discourage our supporters to no end.

So while people like Ben Stein and Cher oppose the war but claim to support the troops I will welcome them with open arms. I disagree with their assessment of the war, as I am happy to be in Iraq fighting for peace and see a purpose for what we are doing, but I am thankful that they can appreciate what we are trying to do. As long as you are not actively seeking to undermine what we are doing here you are harmless. However, when you cross the line like Code Pink and ANSWER have done you are no longer a supporter of the troops: you are a corroborator with terrorists and are just as responsible for the blood of Coalition soldiers as those who pull triggers and lob mortars.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Oh So True

"So again, we have almost up to the last instant trusted the newspapers as organs of public opinion. Just recently some of us have seen (not slowly, but with a start) that they are obviously nothing of the kind. They are, by the nature of the case, the hobbies of a few rich men. We have not any need to rebel against antiquity; we have to rebel against novelty. It is the new rulers, the capitalist or the editor, who really hold up the modern world. There is no fear that a modern king will attempt to override the constitution; it is more likely that he will ignore the constitution and work behind its back; he will take no advantage of his kingly power; it is more likely that he will take advantage of his kingly powerlessness, of the fact that he is free from criticism and publicity. For the king is the most private person of our time. It will not be necessary for any one to fight again against the proposal of a censorship of the press. We do not need a censorship of the press. We have a censorship by the press."

-G.K. Chesterton

This new millennium has been fraught with misrepresentations by the press. Talk to any soldier and you will hear the same. How many countless milblogs and soldiers have told you the truth is not being reported by the MSM? How has the current administration’s support for war been hampered by faulty reporting and blatant disregard for the truth? Why has the media been allowed to run roughshod upon the great Americans who sacrifice so much for our Constitution? What would have happened if the media reported this way in the
past? Why has so much hate been thrown towards Israel who is fighting the same battle as we are? Why do people have an insatiable lust to see the right side of the fight against terrorism lose? And therein lies the real question: Why is it so hard to see the truth at a time when it should be black and white?

Those who make sport out of cutting innocent people’s heads off are wrong. Those who use real torture (not like the games that took place in Abu Gharib) and mutilate bodies, by doing such things as sticking people’s genitals in their mouths, are wrong. Those who willingly murder women and children because they are too ignorant to make a point without terror are wrong. Those who murder Iraqis simply because they cook our food or cut our hair are wrong. Those who lob missiles into areas populated by civilians hoping to hit something are wrong. Those who use their religion as a reason to try and take over the world are wrong. Nothing gray about any of those statements, only black and white.

The media perpetuates ignorance among the American population because they fall into the trap of only reporting bad news. Also, as I have said before and will say again, they are ignorant of the subject matter they report on. How many ex-veterans are working in the MSM right now? Take away Oliver North and who are you left with? If non-military types are reporting on the actions of the military then they are bound to get their stories wrong. I wonder why the major news organizations don’t hire more military correspondents? Of course there are the retired generals that comment on television but where are military voices in print? I know several news organizations have made attempts at getting soldiers to do occasional blogs for them but nothing of any importance. What the public needs to hear is the truth-the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am not against showing death and destruction on TV but at the same time there should also be stories about growth and reconstruction. A nation is being rebuilt in Iraq and people are getting on with their lives but you would never know that from what you read in American newspapers or watch on American TV.

In the passage I quoted above Chesterton notes that newspapers have become the hobbies of a few who essentially censor what we hear by only reporting on what they want. I agree whole-heartedly with him although I would expand from “a few” to say it has become the hobby of the majority. If the MSM were truly objective we would hear from people all over the spectrum concerning the important issues of the day. No longer would we just have Hannity and Colmes where people from opposite sides of the spectrum argue in order to get ratings. We would have a group of people dedicated to spreading the truth. The news would sound something like “It was a typical day in Iraq today. In Ramadi there were several clashes between soldiers and terrorists leaving 20 terrorists dead and one soldier severely wounded. Mosul continues to get safer and safer each day and is gaining a lot of support from surrounding villages. Overall Iraq looked very much like a country dealing with rebuilding itself from the ground up. However, anyone who has been in Iraq from day one knows that despite occasional setbacks Iraq has improved leaps and bounds from the days of Saddam. The people of Iraq realize that life is tough now but they are thankful they will never have to live under the oppressive rule of a tyrant like Saddam Hussein. (End satellite feed)”

What we need in today’s world of instant news are journalists willing to do their job of reporting the truth. We don’t need uninformed beauties with their hair blowing in the wind telling us what has been scripted for them to say by others. We don’t need editors ripping the guts out of any good story up for print because it doesn’t fit their agenda. We need more men like Michael Yon who are going to report the good, the bad, and the ugly no matter what people will think of them afterward. We need men like Bill Roggio and Pat Dollard who will pay their way to a foreign country in order to report the truth. What good is our media if they are upstaged daily by amateurs who, at their own expense, travel to a distant country so that Americans can learn what is really going on in this crazy world of ours.

Like Chesterton said almost 100 years ago “We do not need a censorship of the press. We have a censorship by the press." If you really want to know what is going on in the world today you must read blogs. It is sad that is has come to not being able to trust the media but that is where we are now. It is not that the media always seeks to suppress the truth, they are just often times unqualified to give it to you.

I know I am often preaching to the choir here about the media, and I know I have done so often but I feel that it is important to know that you are not able to get the truth from the media. Maybe you can get some of the truth but overall the media is run by people who are unwilling to report on stories if they don’t properly fit into their agenda. Now if I can just figure out what my agenda is…

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Crazies and the Letters They Write

I am no stranger to occasional hate mail but I have received several emails lately that made me laugh. The thing about hate mail is that it inspires me to keep writing. I don’t exactly know what it is but there is something inexplicably fun about riling people’s feathers to the point that they take the time to write incoherent emails to you. It is almost as if they have nothing better to do with their time…

With that said I want to share a few exceptional letters I have received over the past couple of weeks. I’ll mention no names or give out email addresses but hope that the people that wrote them will read this post and send me some more hate mail.

Perhaps my favorite tactic used by the hate-mailers is the train of thought that “This person cannot possibly exist” when talking about milbloggers. I have heard several milbloggers say that they have been accused of nonexistence and it recently happened to me. I was scanning my sitemeter when I happened across a link from a forum for Backpacker magazine. Of all places I don’t know why I was being discussed on a forum for an outdoors magazine but maybe the people were outdoors when they read my blog. Someone mentioned that they thought I wasn’t real and that someone ought to investigate me further to make sure I wasn’t a concoction of some neocon. While they discussed the ontological hullabaloo surrounding T.F. Boggs I laughed out loud. “Why someone in the military who can read and write-Impossible!” cried the Murthacrat.

Everyone knows that people in the military: “Are nothing but cannon fodder serving with your body, but with an empty head” as another angry reader of my blog quipped to me in an email. The person who wrote me that carried on:

“I pity you. You are as brainwashed as a suicide bomber who thinks the best way to support his cause is to blow strangers up. Found any connection to 9/11 in Iraq, soldier? Found any WMD yet, sir? Found Jenna or Barbara Bush serving next to you, soldier? Go home now then!!! There’s no honor killing in the name of the Liar in Chief.”

Take a moment to digest the wisdom of that email.

One of the best things about blogging is that you are able to reach an international audience. I received an email from a man in France the other week that replied to my interview of General Ali.

“However, sorry to say, as to your activities in Iraq, well, I think you will not prevail. The tide of history is very much against you. Your venture was-or is-to bring freedom and democracy to a country with well over five thousand years of continuous history. 5000 years, sergeant!”

Whatever that means, he continues on:

“And now you come and propose democracy but trying at the same time to grab the only riches they have, oil. You are bound to fail, not by military defeat but by continuous small losses of human life and by the enormous cost of this venture. Sooner or later your politicians will come to the conclusion that all this is meaningless. Then you will return home…”

Frenchie continues on by alluding to Vietnam and ends the email with a nice cartoon that has the military portrayed by a giant turtle that he “imagines I’ll like.” How nice.

By far my favorite comes from an oh-so-informed Red Diaper Baby who chose to respond by commenting on my blog.

“…I suppose that the blogger thinks that al-Qaeada exists and believes other things the government tells him. That's his choice, but I do hope that he realizes his folly before the totalitarian takeover is complete. It's already chugging along at a steady pace…. In case you haven't noticed, the terrorists are not the ones killing the American soldiers.”

Quick someone nominate this guy for public office. I would tell you how he went on to allude that the Illuminati are finalizing their takeover of the American government in a push to consolidate the world into a global community with one currency in order to support the antichrist at his reawaking ceremony but that would only be some expert speculation on my part. I also want to take some time and thank him for letting me know that terrorists are not the ones killing soldiers. I suppose they are dying as a result of not getting the proper counseling needed in order to rid their brains of alien life forms that keep them from reaching their full potential. (Hat tip Tom Cruise)

What planet do people like this come from? It is actually quite saddening. On the surface level it is pretty funny but when you start to think about the thought process that goes on behind these ideas it is frightening. No terrorists? No al Qaeda? Are you kidding me? Who are these guys that we see here in Iraq everyday? Who have we been fighting? Is this some sort of drug-induced hallucination I have been on for the past 4 years? I knew that Bin Laden guy was fake, no one has a nose that big!

One consistency I have found in hate mail is the lack of coherent sentence structure. Case in point: an email I got in response to my letter to the NYT from a self-described

“72 yr.old retired janitor; served US Navy, 1952-56, never left the U.S. I was a Hospital Coprsman, Psychiatric Technician (orderly), have worked in V.A. system, Mclean Hospital (Belmont, Ma.) private psych hospital for 19 yrs. Trained at St. Elizabeth’s hospital near Washington D.C. (vomited on side walk outside white house and never knew where I was?) Chelsea Naval Hosp. 3 and a half yrs., Psych ward, Portsmouth Naval Hosp. (Prison Ward) 6 months. I went into the navy even with hearing loss in right ear. Puss was running out of my ear when they accepted me. They cured it by removing my tonsils at 18 yrs of age, day before Thanksgiving, Brainbridge Naval Hospital…”

I didn’t know I was accepting his resume. However, I couldn’t possibly make this up so you know I am telling the truth here. Emails like this one are priceless and immediately go into a separate folder where I stash emails that I want to save. What point exactly this retired janitor was trying to make still eludes me but lets look at his email further.

“…we attacked Iraq on false statements made by everyone in this administration, (This is a war for control of oil…Saddams best friends were/is the Bush #41 (George H. W.) (Poppy bush) drug lord of the world…the poppy trade (opium) has grown by more than 300% since we took over Afghan. The Taliban had almost got rid of it….I have never seen a president such as this so close to Hitler (even Nixon) did not come that close…I could go on with the bush family history that would knock your socks off…and why are we spending so much money on a new Embassy the size of Rome...we spend 9.7 billion dollars a day now…in Iraq. Take care of your self.”

Wow, just wow. “Oil, grumble, oil, grumble, Hitler, grumble, praise for the Taliban, grumble, rich pricks, grumble, have a good day Sgt. Boggs.” Aww thanks old man. I’ll have to admit this email almost had me convinced to join the dark side. The fact that he left me his home phone number kind of creeped me out but maybe I’ll visit him next time I shoot up some of that Bush-made heroin and am looking for a history lesson about the demonic Bush family.

I know there are millions of people in America that support the troops and what we are trying to do in Iraq and Afghanistan. These people have fully functioning brains that are capable of seeing the truth. The people that write hate mail are in the minority but at the same time seem to be coming out in larger numbers everyday. The internet has allowed everyone to share their opinion with the world whether or not it is an informed one. At a time when people are threatening others for what they write on their blogs we should all take the time out, moonbats included, to thank the soldiers that have made this type of expression possible. I gladly invite these hate-mailers to move to a country where the government doesn’t stand for dissent. If you like the Taliban so much go live under their rule. If Saddam was such a great guy go to Iraq and protest his trial. If there is no such thing as al-Qaeda come to Iraq and hang out in Baghdad, I am sure there are plenty of terrorists (or I mean totalitarian tools) willing to cut your head off to make a political statement.

Until then keep writing to me, I am always up for a good laugh.

Some Kinda Genius

So Buck Sargent from American Citizen Soldier has another great post up today. Today he does something unusual for a milblogger and gives us a little poetry. Here is an excerpt:

Jundis and shurtas, Iraqi patrollers,
Shot down and blown up or pelted with mortars.
Security forces trained from the boots on the ground up,
Uncredited valor amidst body count roundups.

Foreign jihadists and tribal omertas,
Turn on each other, both routed, Inshallah.
Though Arab versus Arab and Muslim on Muslim,
Long driven by the Prophet mo (Peace Be Upon Him).

Shifty attacks from those dressed none more black,
Thy nature of the beast roaming free the Middle East;
Baghdad... Samarra... Fallujah... Ramadi...
Our rank and file hunters on insurgent safari.

Toting carbines and ‘fifties, 240s and SAWs,
Flashbangs and flex cuffs, and Kevlar and gauze;
Strykers and Bradleys, Kiowa gunships and tanks,
MREs, IEDs, Humvees... (no thanks!)

Though the instrument of warfare that 'ever dwarfs any gun,
To win the trust of the people once the battle is won.

For the rest of the post go visit his site, you won't be disappointed. Leave him a comment and wish him luck as he goes back home. Iraq will miss him.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Part II: Interview With An Iraqi General

This is the second part of my interview with General Ali. As before I hope you share this interview with as many people as you can because all people need to hear the truth coming out of Iraq.

Do you think your soldiers have learned from American soldiers?

General Ali: Yes they have learned from the soldiers and so have I. I learned many things from the coalition forces.

What do you see as problems for the Iraqi army right now?

General Ali: The Iraqi army does not have clear leaders right now. This is bad. The coalition also supplies everything for us right now and the Iraqi government does not supply anything for us. We get fuel and uniforms from the coalition, but we do not have leaders checking what we need for the future.

When the Americans leave what will happen?

General Ali: No problem we will be able to take care of ourselves.

What would you say to the American people who think it was a bad idea for us to come to Iraq and whom think we should leave now?

General Ali: This message is from the terrorists. The terrorists encourage the media and they encourage the U.S. people. The U.S. soldiers who came to Iraq are heroes. The media do not convey the real picture of what the US soldiers are doing. Our problem from the very beginning has been the media. They think the U.S. soldiers just came to fight the Iraqi people. After this interview we will go to Qayyarah and help the people. We will talk with the people and do things for them. The U.S. media only show the bad to the U.S. people. And also the U.S. media is very bad, they are against the US people because they make sure only to show the bad and not the good of what the US heroes do here. They help the Iraqi people, they make projects, they make the Iraqi army and police, and make jobs here but the media does not show this. They only show car bombs, and they even change digital pictures to show Americans attacking Iraqi families (Haditha). The US people only see the bad they don’t see Qayyarah, only the dangerous areas. They did not see how the US soldiers shop in our market and meet the people and help the kids. They don’t see how the soldiers give gifts to the kids. The media do not show this, or how they do projects for schools, water, and roads. They only show the units that fight the bad guys and do not show the other units. This is a big problem. We fight the terrorists, and the terrorists are not just against the Iraqis but also against the whole world, all humans.

I want to say first hello to all the US people and second I need their trust and for them to encourage their soldiers who help us fight and also to encourage the Iraqi people. We need them to encourage the soldiers to do projects to help us. Encourage them to have a trust between them and the Iraqi people because we have a good future. Third I need them to believe me that the terrorists are down in Iraq. I only see terrorists on Al Jazerra, where are the terrorists? Show them to me! I go to Mosul by myself-no bad guys. I need to see terrorists. I have not been attacked in three years, except for once in April of last year and he only killed himself and did not hurt me. Where are the bad guys? We need the American people to know the truth.

Please tell the American people the terrorists are down. When we killed Zarqawi where were the media? They did not report on it. Where is Zarqawi?

At this point in the interview General Ali began speaking Arabic after my interpreter interrupted by saying Zarqawi went to hell. General Ali said in Arabic that Zarqawi went to the “historical trash bin.” Sounds good to me.

Do you think Iraq will look favorably upon American soldiers and what we have done here?

General Ali: This depends on the leaders of Iraq. If the leaders are good men and do good things for the Iraqi people then the people will believe him when he tells them about the Americans, they will trust him. But if we have bad leaders the people will not believe him. But if I work with the coalition and help make projects for the people then they will believe us. We will tell them “Look the terrorists destroyed all of these things, they killed civilians. But look at what the coalition did. They helped us.”
This picture will come in the future. We work to serve the people. God willing the story will be told right in the future about how the coalition helped the civilians. I am happy about our future and I think it is an excellent future.

What do you do for fun if you always work?

General Ali: I go home two days a month to see my family. I change the times I go home though. I do not have time to lie around. I see my family. I have 11 kids and one wife. I tried to get two wives but that didn’t work (chuckles).

Do you think it is a good idea for IA soldiers to protect their own villages and cities?

General Ali: Right now yes but not in the future. The U.S. army is from all over not just from Washington. We need to be like that. The most important thing now though is to encourage the people from the towns to protect their own towns. When the security becomes good we will change. We will send different units to different places. You can move my battalion to Basra, to Baquba, to Ramadi, to Nasariyah with no problem, just like the American army. But right now we keep the soldiers in their own area because their own people help them to find terrorists. Right now we do not have a real army. Right now we just find the terrorists. A real army comes from all the people.

Do you think Arabs and Kurds can work together?

Yes I have Kurdish and Arab soldiers in my battalion. We can work with Sunnis and Shiites no problem. We are one people and one army. My tribe is the military. I serve my country and do not wish to split up the army.

At this point I read to General Ali a note given to my by The Real Ugly American who asked me to share with him. The note is as follows:

“Americans support the people of Iraq. We want them to live in safety and freedom. When we hear news of Iraqis being killed our hearts break the same as when American soldiers are killed. People we love are fighting and dying beside you and your men. Do not throw away this precious opportunity that so few people in the world are given. History is calling on you and your men. Freedom needs you to be strong. The people of Iraq need you to be strong. The world needs you and your men to be heroes. May God bless you and your men”.

General Ali responded by saying “this is our hope too. My wishes and regards for this person and I am very hopeful for the future. I am sure we will get the victory”. He then asked me to ask him why Iraq is going to win against the terrorists.

Sgt. Boggs: Why are you going to win against the terrorists?

General Ali: Cause where are the terrorists!? Show me the terrorists!

At the end of the interview General Ali told me that the soldiers in his battalion call him “The Old Brother” because not only is he their commander but because he is a brother to them. After talking with this great man I understand why he is called “The Old Brother” because I feel that we are suddenly not so different anymore. He may be an older man who speaks a different language and lives on the other side of the world but we both yearn for freedom and are willing to give our lives for others. General Ali has my utmost respect because he is a lone beacon for hope in the midst of so many enemies of all faces that want to see him fail. He has single handedly changed the face of his town and given hope to all Iraqis that it is possible to stand up in the face of evil and prevail. If only there were more men like him in this world.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Interview With An Iraqi General

I wrote a story for Michael Yon’s Frontline Forum a week ago about the town I am stationed in right now named Qayyarah. Qayyarah is a model for other Iraqi cities because it was once a haven for terrorists but is now safe enough for anyone to travel around in without fear of terrorists. The main reason for the safety of Qayyarah lies with one man: General Ali. He is a myth-like figure around our base and everyone knows his name. He is a strict military man but is the type of man Iraq needs so desperately right now. I hope people the world over will read this interview and learn just what kind of men are in Iraq right now willing to take control of their own country. What follows is the truth. It comes directly from the mouth of a man who knows intimately what is going on in Iraq and knows where Iraq has come from and where it needs to go. I intend to post the interview in two installments due to the length and urge everyone to bookmark this page and come back for the rest of the interview.

General Ali in his office

How long have you been in the military?

General Ali: I first went to the army in 1976, I became a staff brigade general in 1997. In 2001 I left the army because there were many problems between my tribe and Saddam’s regime. He fired many of the officers and put some of them in jail. I am one of the officers who was put in jail for ten months and afterwards I was put out of the army. When the coalition forces came to Iraq in 2003 I worked with the 101st (Airborne American army unit) in Qayyarah (*the town I am in now and where he lives) as an advisor. In 2004 the terrorists destroyed all of the Iraqi police stations and in that time the terrorists controlled all of this area. They controlled Mosul, south Mosul, and 40 km from where we are now. In that time no one came to help. All of the people and soldiers were scared and went home. I came to help and the Americans invited me to come command this battalion. The name of this battalion was the 102nd ING before they changed the name to the 1st battalion 3 brigade Iraqi army. At that time I only had eight soldiers with my battalion. They could not go out in their uniforms because they were scared of the terrorists. If they went out on a mission with the coalition they wore facemasks because if the terrorists saw them they would kill them. First time I started training my soldiers I made 1000 soldiers in my unit. After one month I went out on a mission with them and captured all of the terrorists leaders.

At this point I asked kind of jokingly, kind of seriously “Really, on the first time out?” He replied in all seriousness:

Yes the first time.

I worked day and night, 24 hours 7 days a week to clean my area because my area at that time was very dangerous. No one could move at that time, no market, no police, no Iraqi army. We continue to work with the Americans, we captured many bad guys, more than 800. We found caches we found mortars, many weapons. They attacked my house many times. They did not send messages to me but instead sent car bombs and mortars to my family. But I did not stop my mission. I encouraged my family but I did not go home. For three months I did not see my family, I stayed with the coalition to serve my country because my country needed me.

I was in this same position as battalion commander in 1987 during the war between Iraq and Iran which started in 1980-88. In that war I was injured 7 times and have 17 medals for courage. I did not go to Kuwait in 1991 because I did not believe in the old regime and also my tribe did not believe the old regime. He killed many people in my tribe from the military. But now that all the people believe me they work with me and help me.

As two local Sheiks sit across the room from us listening in on our conversation General Ali turns the conversation to them for a minute.

You see those two sheiks? They came to thank me because I made their area secure. They are very happy when they see the work being done in their area. When they see people working at night, people driving. Basra and Baghdad are dangerous but my area now is very safe. In my area the security is excellent. Now I can guarantee that you can go by yourself in your uniform with no armor, no helmet, no weapon, and I’ll give you my vehicle so that you can go to Qayyarah to shop in the market and come back to here and you will be safe. This happened because before the terrorists were in control there was no trust between the Iraqi army and the people. They just believed the terrorists but when I came I controlled this area and I had a meeting with all the sheiks and all the people and all the doctors and I made clear to them that all the terrorists and all the criminals were killers against Islam and they believed me and helped me. They gave me information and even caught terrorists and brought them to me. This is excellent. I told them that it was their job, that it was their country. All Iraqi people must fight the terrorists because it was not just the job of the Iraqi army. The terrorists were killing civilians and because of it the people believed me and they came to work with me.

How did Saddam treat you since you were in a different tribe than him?

General Ali: He was a bad guy against all of the Iraqi people not just my tribe.

Have you liked working with the American soldiers?

General Ali: Yes, yes, yes. They believe me and I believe them. All the soldiers that have worked here know General Ali. I invite them to my house to eat with me and to train with me. I know they came to help the Iraqi people. That is why I work with them, that is why I tell my people the truth about the coalition. Before they might have disliked the US army because they did not have the real picture of the soldiers. I told the people though how the US army fought for us and also how they did projects for us. They fixed the schools, made roads, and made many things for the people of Iraq. The people see how we caught the terrorists, how we made it safe, they see that is more comfortable then under Saddam’s regime.

Do you have a different picture of Americans now then before we came?

General Ali: It is the same for me because I know exactly why the soldiers came to Iraq. I am not a small officer (*Just incase: Brigadier General is a high rank in any army). I work with the soldiers day and night. If you work with people for three years you get to know them. You see them more than your family. You work with them more than your brother. I believe and like the soldiers. If they make mistakes I tell them because they are my friends. If they don’t know about the Iraqi people I tell them. I am a soldier and an advisor. Sometimes the soldiers did not know about the Iraqi people. I also told my friends about the soldiers: how they speak, how they shake hands, how they sit down with them. Which subject they speak on because I know the US army soldiers read before they came over here. When they came to help though they needed advisors. If there were other good advisors like me then there wouldn’t be terrorists. My people help me because they believe in me and like me. And when the terrorists came they did not believe the terrorists, they fought against the terrorists. When the terrorists came from Mosul, Ramadi, and from any other town the people would call me on my cell phone and tell me about them.

At this time in the conversation I mentioned to General Ali about the day before when I saw him coming in the main gate to our base with three terrorists in the back of a truck. He laughed and told me he received a tip from some locals and he and his men dropped everything they were doing and went out to catch the men. They were assisted by an American helicopter in the capture, which made it a combined effort. He explained to me that those same sequences of events happen often and exuded confidence in the efforts of his men and of his fellow townspeople.

The rest of the interview will be posted on Wednesday. In the second part of the interview General Ali shares his feelings about the American media, the future of the Iraqi army, and shares some words for the American people. Please spread the word about this interview. I believe what General Ali has to say needs to be heard by the whole world.