Friday, November 18, 2005

Another Great Letter from Iraq

SGT Rausch and his buddies in 1st Platoon just crafted a masterpiece that needs to be seen by everyone you know. I've been trying to say this stuff for years now, but I couldn't quite figure out how to put it all into words. Well, these guys just cracked the code. Thanks to Becky C for bringing this to my attention:


I am passing this on from a dear friend of mine. Her son wrote her this email and asked her to get it out to everyone. So she told me to send it to you too. Here is his email he wrote to her today. God bless those 101st soldiers. We love em all. Hope you will share his email with your readers.

Becky C

I will gladly pass this on, Becky. Thanks for doing your part in helping to spread the good word...


SGT Rausch's email follows:


Be my voice. I want this message heard. It is mine and my platoon's to the country. A man I know lost his legs the other night. He is in another company in our batallion. I can no longer be silent after watching the sacrifices made by Iraqis and Americans everyday. Send it to a congressman if you have to. Send it to FOX news if you have to. Let this message be heard please.

My fellow Americans,

I have a task for those with the courage and fortitude to take it. I have a message that needs not fall on deaf ears. A vision the blind need to see. I am not a political man nor one with great wisdom. I am just a soldier who finds himself helping rebuild a country that he helped liberate a couple years ago.

I have watched on television how the American public questions why their mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters are fighting and dying in a country 9000 miles away from their own soil. Take the word of a soldier, for that is all I am, that our cause is a noble one. The reason we are here is one worth fighting for. A cause that has been the most costly and sought after cause in our small span of existence on our little planet. Bought in blood and paid for by those brave enough to give the ultimate sacrifice to obtain it. A right that is given to every man, woman, and child I believe by God. I am talking of freedom.

Freedom. One word but yet countless words could never capture it's true meaning or power. "For those who have fought for it, freedom has a taste the protected will never know." I read that once and it couldn't be more true. It's not the average American's fault that he or she is "blind and deaf" to the taste of freedom. Most American's are born into their God given right so it is all they ever know. I was once one of them. I would even dare to say that it isn't surprising that they take for granted what they have had all their life. My experiences in the military however opened my eyes to the truth.

Ironically you will find the biggest outcries of opposition to our cause from those who have had no military experience and haven't had to fight for freedom. I challenge all of those who are daring enough to question such a noble cause to come here for just a month and see it first hand. I have a feeling that many voices would be silenced.

I watched Cindy Sheehan sit on the President's lawn and say that America isn't worth dying for. Later she corrected herself and said Iraq isn't worth dying for. She badmouthed all that her son had fought and died for. I bet he is rolling over in his grave.

Ladies and gentleman I ask you this. What if you lived in a country that wasn't free? What if someone told you when you could have heat, electricity, and water? What if you had no sewage systems so human waste flowed into the streets? What if someone would kill you for bad-mouthing your government? What if you weren't allowed to watch TV, connect to the internet, or have cell phones unless under extreme censorship? What if you couldn't put shoes on your child's feet? You need not to have a great understanding of the world but rather common sense to realize that it is our duty as HUMAN BEINGS to free the oppressed. If you lived that way would you not want someone to help you????

The Iraqi's pour into the streets to wave at us and when we liberated the cities during the war they gathered in the thousands to cheer, hug and kiss us. It was what the soldier's in WW2 experienced, yet no one questioned their cause!! Saddam was no better than Hitler! He tortured and killed thousands of innocent people. We are heroes over here, yet American's badmouth our President for having us here.

Every police station here has a dozen or more memorials for officers that were murdered trying to ensure that their people live free. These are husbands, fathers, and sons killed every day. What if it were your country? What would your choice be? Everything we fight for is worth the blood that may be shed. The media never reports the true HEROISM I witness everyday in the Iraqi's. Yes there are bad one's here, but I assure you they are a minuscule percent. Yet they are a number big enough to cause worry in this country's future.

I have watched brave souls give their all and lose thier lives and limbs for this cause. I will no longer stand silent and let the "deaf and blind" be the only voice shouting. Stonewall Jackson once said, "All that I have, all that I am is at the service of the country." For these brave souls who gave the ultimate sacrifice, including your son Cindy Sheehan, I will shout till I can no longer. These men and women are heroes. Their spirit lives on in their military and they will never be forgotten. They did not die in vain but rather for a cause that is larger than all of us.

My fellow countrymen and women, we are not overseas for our country alone but also another. We are here to spread democracy and freedom to those who KNOW the true taste of it because they fight for it everyday. You can see the desire in their eyes and I am honored to fight alongside them as an Infantryman in the 101st Airborne.

Freedom is not free, but yet it is everyone's right to have. Ironic isn't it? That is why we are here. Though you will always have the skeptics, I know that most of our military will agree with this message. PLease, at the request of this soldier spread this message to all you know. We are in Operation Iraqi Freedom and that is our goal. It is a cause that I and thousands of others stand ready to pay the ultimate sacrifice for because, Cindy Sheehan, freedom is worth dying for, no matter what country it is! And after the world is free only then can we hope to have peace.

SGT Walter J. Rausch and 1st Platoon
Charlie Co. 2/327 Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)

Monday, November 14, 2005

101st Airborne Back in Action

The Screaming Eagles are back in the Land of the Awful Sand. I'll be posting periodic updates in an effort to document their progress. The following update comes from SFC David Abrams...

U.S. combat ops continue to defeat terrorists on street, BAGHDAD, Iraq, November 13, 2005 6:54

Operation National Unity, an on-going operation by Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces to root out terrorists in the Baghdad area, continues to meet with great success, said Task Force Baghdad officials.

"Iraqi and U.S. Soldiers are bravely carrying out their mission to provide a safe and secure environment for the democratic process to grow in Iraq," said Lt. Col. Robert Whetstone, Task Force Baghdad spokesperson. "Terrorist activities continue to attempt to derail that process, while Iraqi Security Force and Coalition Force successes occur daily."

In one 96-hour period alone in November, Task Force Baghdad conducted more than 1,030 patrols, carried out 100 cordon-and-searches and raids, and set up more than 400 tactical checkpoints during aggressive combat operations throughout the capitol city.

While the threat of improvised explosive devices still lingers for Soldiers on patrol, Task Force Baghdad officials report the number of successes far outweigh the number of IEDs struck by humvees and other military vehicles.

During combat operations Nov. 6-11, Coalition Forces detained more than 250 terror suspects, found seven weapons caches, and discovered 37 IEDs before they could be detonated.

This is typical of the missions U.S. Soldiers in Baghdad engage in every week as they work to create an environment where a strong Iraqi Security Force can contain and eventually defeat the insurgency, Whetstone noted.

Task Force Baghdad officials cite operations on Nov. 11 as examples of how U.S. and Iraqi forces are "taking the fight to the terrorists."

For instance, Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment interrupted a suspected assassination attempt in progress in the Ghazaliyah district. Around 6:30 p.m., the U.S. patrol reported taking small-arms fire from three individuals running from a store where they were believed to be intimidating or attempting to assassinate civilians inside. The Soldiers returned fire on the fleeing terrorists, killing two of them. No civilians were harmed in the incident.

Earlier in the day, an Iraqi-U.S. patrol northwest of Baghdad turned an IED strike into an opportunity to nab a terror suspect. The patrol from 2nd Battalion, 70th Armored Regiment, and 2nd Mechanized Battalion, 1st Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division hit the roadside bomb around noon and immediately took small-arms fire from two nearby cars. U.S. Soldiers returned fire and chased the vehicles from the area. The Soldiers returned to the IED site and found a secondary device. An explosives ordnance disposal team was called in to destroy the 155-millimeter round. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Soldiers noticed an individual throw a possible trigger device into a nearby canal. The suspect was detained and processed into the Iraqi judicial system. There were no injuries to Iraqi or U.S. forces during the incident.

In another example of Coalition troops responding with a show of force to a terrorist attack, a patrol from 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry killed a terrorist who fired on them with an AK-47 assault rifle around 7 a.m. south of the Abu Ghraib Prison Facility.Iraqi forces with 1st Battalion, 4th Public Order Brigade operating in Doura reported a success of their own around 5:30 p.m. when they caught a terrorist emplacing an IED along a major highway. A U.S. EOD team recovered the 107-millimeter rocket and the Iraqi Army unit detained the terrorist for questioning.

Other potential IEDs were discovered by U.S. Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team working the streets of east Baghdad.

Around noon, Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment reported finding a 130-millimeter round in the median of a major road. They secured the area and called for an EOD team. The Soldiers also found a secondary device consisting of 120-millimeter and 100-millimeter rounds encased in concrete. EOD recovered both devices.

In another location, Iraqi civilians waved down a patrol from the 26th Forward Support Battalion and told them of a suspicious device at the intersection of two main roads in the area shortly after 3 p.m. The U.S. Soldiers cordoned off the site and called in an EOD team to recover what turned out to be a potentially deadly IED.

"We (U.S. Forces) are not the determining factor with respect to the ultimate defeat of the terrorists—the Iraqi people are," said Col. Joseph DiSalvo, 2nd BCT commander. "The terrorists have no chance as long as the Iraqi people stand up against them." Task Force Baghdad Soldiers also seized weapons and munitions during combat operations Nov. 11.While searching a house, Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division found three cases of 20-millimeter anti-aircraft ammunition, about 7 million in dinar (equivalent to nearly $5,000), and two loaded AK-47 assault rifles. Two terror suspects were detained at the house and held for further questioning.

Another 2nd Bde., 101st Airborne Div. unit found a cache consisting of four 3-foot rockets at a site southwest of Baghdad.Task Force Baghdad officials said Nov. 11 is just one example of how Operation National Unity is succeeding on all levels to keep the city’s terrorists on the defensive.

By Sgt. 1st Class David Abrams
Task Force Baghdad PAO

Sunday, October 30, 2005

House becomes a home for (Iraq war) hero

By VICKI BERRY, C-T Lifestyle Editor

He received a hero’s welcome when he returned to his newly renovated home Wednesday, however, Bobby Isaacs does not refer to himself in that manner at all.

"I was just doing what I was told," he said, matter-of-factly.

Retired Cpl. Bobby Isaacs, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky. was initially given an imminent death retirement because he wasn’t expected to recover from injuries he received while serving in Iraq.

And just as understatedly, the Roxboro resident was prompted to join the armed forces following the 9/11 tragedy.

Isaacs said he had tossed around the idea of joining the Army prior to the 9/11 attacks. "That gave me the push," he said.

In March of 2003 Isaacs was deployed to Iraq. After serving in several Iraqi cities, events led to an occurrence that would change the young man’s life forever.

Isaacs recently recalled the events of that day near Mosul. Isaacs and others in his division were part of a convoy. He explained that he was standing behind his staff sergeant who was sitting in the passenger’s seat. The convoy was ambushed with small arms fire and a roadside bomb that shattered the bones in both of Isaacs’ legs and severed the femoral artery.

"My staff sergeant was killed," he said.

Isaacs too, came very close to losing his life. "I was resuscitated three times," he said.

Following a few days in a field hospital, Isaacs was taken to Germany before being sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the U.S. There, he spent the next year, lost both legs and underwent 39 operations. While it doesn’t sound like fun, Isaacs said he was happy to be there.

"I was just glad I was in a hospital and not in a body bag," he said.

During his stint in the hospital and through a fellow patient, Isaacs fatefully met John Gonsalves, founder of Homes for Our Troops. Although Isaacs was not aware of it at the time, that meeting was the first of several to follow that would have a positive impact and outcome.

Isaacs left Walter Reed Hospital and moved back to Roxboro to live with his mother, Pat Isaacs, and although he was out of the hospital, he was not finished with the medical visits. It was necessary for Isaacs to go to Veterans Hospital in Durham for his prosthesis and follow-up care. And that is when Isaacs had another fateful encounter.

He met Charlotte Riggle, who works as a technician with the Center for Orthotic and Prosthetics at Duke University.

"She makes the legs," he said.

That was then. Now, together, plans are being laid for a wedding ceremony for the two on July 1.

Future plans for Isaacs include returning to school in the spring, probably at a local community college, he said. From there, he is considering a career as a physician’s assistant.

However, his plans do not involve moving.

When Isaacs left Walter Reed Medical Center to come back to Person County, he was told by Gonsalves to begin looking for a house and, if possible, Homes for Our Troops would buy and adapt the house to meet his special needs.

This past June, he found the house and Homes for Our Troops made the purchase along with plans to renovate the structure so that Isaacs could move in by December.

That move-in date was stepped-up a notch when Homes for Our Troops combined forces with the ABC network television show Extreme Makeover Home Edition and, in a blitz-like fashion, the house was adapted, renovated, furnished and ready for its new occupant in 48 hours.

On Wednesday, amidst television fanfare, Gonsalves handed Isaacs the key and the deed to his new home – a charitable act from Homes for Our Troops to help the veteran achieve his future dreams.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Business as Usual

Just a quick passage from a recent Time Magazine article:

It was then that Lt. Nelson took the decision that could jeopardize his service career. "We decided to burn the bodies," one soldier recounts, "because they were bloated and they stank." News of this cremation may have remained on these scorching hills of southern Afghanistan, had the gruesome act not been recorded on film by an Australian photojournalist, Stephen Dupont. Instead, when the footage aired on Australian TV on Wednesday, it unleashed world outrage. A Pentagon spokesman described the incident as "repugnant" and said that the army was launching a criminal investigation into the alleged desecration of the corpses, which is in violation of the Geneva Convention on human rights.

I'll say this once- if the American media machine continues to drag our military through the mud with all of our "violations of the Geneva Convention," we will lose this war. That's not a guess on my part- it is a fact.

Nice job, Newsweek. Let's not talk about cutting the heads off of living human beings. Forget about blowing up dozens of young children as they attempt to collect candy from U.S. soldiers- that stuff just happens and so who cares, right?

Literally hundreds of U.S. soldiers have risked their own lives in order to save the lives of fellow soldiers, innocent civilians, and even enemy terrorists who were only minutes earlier trying to kill them- and you see fit to report...none of it. Nada. Zip. It's boooor-ing. So last century. But when U.S. troops decide to burn a couple of already-dead terrorists- stop the presses! It's almost as big a deal as when they put underwear on someone's head!

Muslims traditionally bury their dead, and as one Kabul cleric Mohammed Omar told newsmen, "The burning of these bodies is an offense against Muslims every where. Bodies are burned only in Hell."

That's a great point you make there, cleric guy- but where do people typically get their heads cut off? Is there a place in Hell for that? Did the Newsweek reporter ask you that question? When an American gets his/her head sawed off by one of your fellow faithful, is that an offense against Americans everywhere?

Al Jazeera does a swell job of making Americans out to be the "real" terrorists- but Newsweek and the rest of America's MSM are really giving them a run for their money. I have a challenge for somebody out there. I'd do it myself, but I'm just way too busy these days. Find out how many "Abu Ghraib-type" stories graced the front page of the New York Times, and then chalk up the number of times they fronted stories about American heroism and valor. I think the results will be stunning. Or not.

I'm not asking for flag-waving and apple pie.

I'm not seeking fame and glory for myself or anyone else.

I just think we'd better stop treating our own people worse than we treat head-chopping, baby-bombing terrorists. That's not so much to ask...

If you haven't read LTC Tim Ryan's assessment yet- read it.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Holy Bush-Bashing, Batman!

The AP really went all out with their latest assault on the current administration and anyone even remotely associated with it. Deb Reichmann's latest masterpiece managed to slime the President, the Pentagon, and of course- the soldiers! I'm not quite sure what soldiers ever did to the AP (unless you believe Eason Jordan's assertion that American troops systematically slaughter journalists), but Deb really seems to go out of her way to make these troops look stupid:

A brief rehearsal ensued.

"OK, so let's just walk through this," Barber said. "Captain Kennedy, you answer the first question and you hand the mike to whom?"

"Captain Smith," Kennedy said.

"Captain. Smith? You take the mike and you hand it to whom?" she asked.

"Captain Kennedy," the soldier replied.

And so it went.

Duhhhh...and my name is Bob and I'm really stoopid! I can't think for myself and I need Allison Barber to tell me what to think and what to say and who to hand the microphone to and- uh oh! I went poopie in my poopiepants!

Nice work, Deb- I'm sure the soldiers appreciate all the blood sweat and tears you poured into making them look like a bunch of diaper-clad thumb-sucking idiots.

And what about the Iraqi soldier? Let's pass him off as a lovestruck groopie!

The president also got praise from the Iraqi soldier who was part of the chat.

"Thank you very much for everything," he gushed. "I like you."

Are you kidding me??? He gushed????? Who in the wide world of sports wrote this garbage? A valley girl?

And here's my favorite insult- some yahoo named Paul Rieckhoff fancies himself as a "support the troops" kinda guy:

Paul Rieckhoff, director of the New York-based Operation Truth, an advocacy group for U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, denounced the event as a "carefully scripted publicity stunt." Five of the 10 U.S. troops involved were officers, he said.

"If he wants the real opinions of the troops, he can't do it in a nationally televised teleconference," Rieckhoff said. "He needs to be talking to the boots on the ground and that's not a bunch of captains."

Well said, Paul. Tell you what- send me an email and let's arrange a meeting. I'd like to give you the opportunity to tell me to my face that I haven't earned the right to give a legitimate opinion about what I saw and what I experienced over there.

I want you to tell me to my face that my opinion isn't "real" because of the rank I held while I was over there.

I want you to tell me that my "Captain" friends who died while fighting for something they believed in are somehow less important than soldiers who carry a different rank.

I want to see just how much courage you really have, Paul.

Go ahead- send me an email. Let's set up the meeting, and let's find out how completely and pathetically gutless you really are.

Thanks for bringing this joke of a man to my attention, Deb. Now go back to doing what the AP pays you for- but please stop insulting our intelligence by trying to pass off your poorly written slop as "news."

For all you folks out there who would like to read an honest account of what happened at that "staged" teleconference, I give you Sergeant Ron Long :

Yesterday, I was chosen to be among a small group of soldiers assigned to the 42ID’s Task Force Liberty that would speak to President Bush, our Commander-in-Chief. The interview went well, but I would like to respond to what most of the mass-media has dubbed as, “A Staged Event.”

First of all, we were told that we would be speaking with the President of the United States, our Commander-in-Chief, President Bush, so I believe that it would have been totally irresponsible for us NOT to prepare some ideas, facts or comments that we wanted to share with the President.

We were given an idea as to what topics he may discuss with us, but it’s the President of the United States; He will choose which way his conversation with us may go.

We practiced passing the microphone around to one another, so we wouldn’t choke someone on live TV. We had an idea as to who we thought should answer what types of questions, unless President Bush called on one of us specifically.

President Bush told us, during his closing, that the American people were behind us. I know that we are fighting here, not only to preserve our own freedoms, but to establish those same freedoms for the people of Iraq. It makes my stomach ache to think that we are helping to preserve free speech in the US, while the media uses that freedom to try to RIP DOWN the President and our morale, as US Soldiers. They seem to be enjoying the fact that they are tearing the country apart. Worthless!

The question I was most asked while I was home on leave in June was, “So...What’s REALLY going on over there?” Does that not tell you something?! Who has confidence in the media to tell the WHOLE STORY? It’s like they WANT this to turn into another Vietnam. I hate to break it to them, but it’s not.

Tomorrow morning, the Iraqi people will vote on their constitution. The success of our mission or the mission of the Iraqi security forces is not defined by the outcome of that vote. If the people of Iraq vote this constitution down, that only means that the FREE, DEMOCRATIC PROCESS is at work in Iraq. They are learning to voice their opinions in the polling stations, not through violence. If it is voted down, they will have the chance to draft an even better version; One that may better serve the people of Iraq. This is up to them. It is history in the making and I will not let the media or anyone else (who has not spent more than two weeks here) tell me otherwise. I have been here for almost a year. I have seen the progress made in so many ways from January’s elections to this referendum. Don’t tell me what the Iraqi people can or can’t do. They will tell you with their VOTES!

If you would like to see our interview with President Bush, you may get it HERE.

Nice try, AP...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

101st Airborne Getting Ready to Return to Iraq

By Ryan Lenz

The Associated Press

FORT CAMPBELL - Combat soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division will begin deploying to Iraq in the next week, two years after the division helped topple Saddam Hussein, Army officials said Thursday.

The Army is processing nearly 1,000 soldiers a day at Fort Campbell. The 3rd Brigade is preparing to be among the division's first combat units to replace the Army's 42nd Infantry Division. It operates out of Tikrit, in north central Iraq.

For many, it's a moment filled with nervous excitement despite having been to the battlefield before. For others, it is a sobering dose of reality to wait in long lines to check everything from vaccinations to mental health.

About 3,600 troops from Fort Campbell are already in Iraq, including hospital and artillery forces. The departure of units from the 3rd Brigade, known as the Rakkasans, marks the beginning of a deployment many had expected.

"It's easy going over there," said Sgt. Jeff Desrosier, 34, of Grand Forks, N.D., as he laughed and told jokes with fellow soldiers. "But what's hard is when I'm in the kitchen and my son comes up crying and hugging me."

On Thursday, soldiers filed into an old gym at Fort Campbell to update personal records including contact information for next of kin, personal information to help officials identify them if captured, even details for the type of funeral they'd like to have.

"I'm just ready to go to Iraq and get it over with," said Sgt. Sheroda McLendon, 27, of Macon, Ga., after receiving one of several shots that the Army requires of soldiers going to Iraq.

About 19,000 soldiers from the division deployed to Iraq in 2003. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the division was assigned to the Mosul area of northern Iraq.

The nature of the conflict has changed since then, said Maj. John Calahan, the brigade's executive officer. He was waiting in line with enlisted soldiers to receive one of the many medical checks. But the Rakkasans are ready, he said.
"The entire time we were there last year, the enemy was constantly evolving. And they've continued to evolve," he said. "But on the same token, we have also evolved."

For those soldiers deploying for the first time, finalizing their affairs all at once drove home the coming deployment.

"It really made me step back and ask what is it that's worth leaving my family for," said Staff Sgt. Jesse Riggin, 24, of Middletown, Del. "It basically comes down to waking up every morning and having a purpose."

The movement of the 101st and 159th Aviation Brigades and the division's four combat brigades - more than 20,000 troops - will be carried out in stages, possibly through November, Army officials said.

Monday, October 10, 2005

No Better Friend...

October 10, 2005

Release Number: 05-10-32



ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A United States Air Force C-17 delivered the first relief supplies here within 48 hours of the devastating earthquake that has left thousands dead and thousands more injured and displaced.

The aircraft and its crew from the 7th Airlift Squadron, McChord Air Force Base, Wash., delivered 12 pallets -- weighing almost 90,000 pounds -- of food, water, medicine and blankets from Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.

With only a few hours notice, Airmen and soldiers at Bagram, successfully worked to palletize the humanitarian relief supplies and prepare them for the flight. Three aerial port specialists were also on the flight to coordinate and manage the cargo once it arrived at Islamabad.

"This was a total team effort," said Col. Mike Isherwood, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Vice Commander. "Our hearts go out to all those affected by the earthquake and we are thankful we were able to help out."

Pakistan Army Brig. Gen. Imtiaz Sherazi, director of logistics, is coordinating the relief efforts as supplies arrive and ensuring rapid distribution of assistance to areas that need it most.

Said General Sherazi, "These items are very valuable to us because there are lots of people in great distress."

As relief efforts are ongoing worldwide, United States Central Command will continue to identify and provide additional capabilities for airborne reconnaissance, heavy lift ground equipment, medical support, shelters, rations and water to aid and assist the people of Pakistan.

Friday, September 16, 2005

McMaster Tells It Like It Is

CENTCOM just posted a friendly message from Terrorist-du-jour Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi. Check it out, and see how the other side thinks. Here's a peek:

Since yesterday, the battles for revenge started all over the land of the two rivers. The raid for avenging the Sunni people in Tall far has started.

Celebrate and sing the praise of God, O nation of Islam. The battalions of monotheism have set out, pledging to die in support of the faith and its people. They were spearheaded by the best of the battalions, the Al-Bara Bin-Malik Battalion.

Approach us, O paradise. O brigade of martyrdom-seeker: Celebrate and sing the praise of God, for tomorrow you will meet the beloved ones, Muhammad and his companions. You have never accepted injustice, O lions of monotheism. This is your day. Go after the heads of the infidels, the Jews, the Crusaders, and the descendants of Ibn al-Alqami [derogatory term for Shia named after Ibn-al-Alqami, a Shia minister who was accused of betraying the last Abbasid caliph Al-Musta'ism during Hulugu's attack on Baghdad in 1258]. Do not show any mercy toward them.

Sounds like he's throwing down the gauntlet, huh? I think I know what's got him so ruffled. It seems that my old history professor, COL H.R. McMaster, decided to put some roadblocks on Syria's terrorist expressway. Here's a clip from the COL's recent press briefing (thanks to Mike for sending):

Q: You've painted an extremely rosy picture of your campaign so far. Have you taken and secured Tall Afar, and are you going to be able to hold it and keep it?

COL. MCMASTER: Yeah. Those are great questions. Nothing's rosy in Iraq, okay? So I don't want to give you an unrealistic perspective here. What I tried to describe with you was a continuous interaction with the enemy that we've had since our arrival, but an interaction that has been in our favor. We've maintained the initiative over this enemy.

So is Tall Afar secure? No, it's not secure. Is the enemy on the run in Tall Afar? Yes, the enemy's on the run. And we're going to conduct some follow-on operations in the next week or so to relentlessly pursue the enemy across the city.

The standard for success for us here is to ensure that the enemy can no longer wage an effective campaign of intimidation over the population of Tall Afar. And to get to your question, in terms of can we permanently secure it, the answer is, yes, and we're taking all measures to do that. In fact, it's the most complicated part of the mission, is how we provide permanent security. We're introducing Iraqi security forces into the center of the city. Iraqi army will have access to the population. They'll be in patrol bases in the interior of the city.

I think my old prof sounds more intelligent than Zarqawi, but maybe I'm biased. Bottom line- Zarqawi is upset. Which brings me to my next point. During my last few posts, I invited some thoughtful debate about why our government decided to remove Saddam from power. I saw some good points from all sides, and I appreciate all the emails and comments. My thoughts on the subject are simple- the terrorists want us to fail in Iraq. They have decided that their very survival depends on turning Iraq into another Mogidishu. If this were to happen, it would be the unthinkable. This is why our troops are there. This is why failure is not an option. It doesn't matter what Saddam had or didn't have. It doesn't matter what he was planning to do in the future. That's all been settled. The fight is with a different enemy now- an enemy that has very little to do with Saddam (they didn't like him either), and everything to do with the ongoing fight against terrorists.

More on this later, but for now I'd just encourage everyone to read COL McMaster's entire press briefing- it's good reading and it really puts the current situation in perspective. And please- read the news releases on the CENTCOM page. This conflict has entered a new phase, and the MSM has no clue what's going on.

More bad news for Zarqawi and the gang- the 101st Airborne Division is heading back to Iraq. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Armed Forces Retirement Home

I found the following post at Rick Lippincott's site. It caught my attention because I'm quite familiar with AFRH's in DC and Gulfport. There are many worthy causes to contribute to in the wake of the Katrina disaster, and I'm just throwing this one out there because I think it's a good one...

The Armed Forces Retirement Home facility in Gulfport, MS has suffered severe damage from Hurricane Katrina.

The AFRH is the facility that cares for veterans (both men and women) in their declining years. The Gulfport facility was built in the early 1980s, originally as the US Naval Home before the military retirement home systems consolidated a few years back.

As a result of the damage to the Gulfport facility, the AFRH has to relocate over 400 aged veterans to the other AFRH facility in Washington DC. As I write this, they're on buses heading north.

According to this story (originally from the Washington Post), quote:

Timothy C. Cox, chief operating officer in charge of both homes, said 10 feet of water surged into the ground floor of the Gulfport home, ruining the kitchen, dining room, bowling alley and long-term care facility and submerging the emergency generator. The hurricane also blew down the home's water tower...

Scores of people volunteered to help prepare for the newcomers, Cox said. Sheila Abarr, a spokeswoman for the home, said others interested in volunteering can call 202-730-3410. Donations of such toiletries as soap and shampoo also will be accepted, she said. Donations can be made by calling 800-422-9988.

He said the homes, which are operated jointly, did not have money in the budget to pay for housing the Gulfport residents in Washington but did have money in a trust fund. The homes are operated with funds from a $119 million trust fund and together have a $58 million annual budget.

The AFRH will accept donations to the trust fund, or the donations of the toiletries and such.

Donations may be sent to:

13053700 N. Capitol St. NW
Washington, DC 20011-8400

You can call for further information at: (800) 332-3527.

There are many organizations working to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and donations to any one of them will do good. But a donation of relatively small, simple items will go directly into the hands of an elderly vet.

My grandfather spent the last dozen or so years of his life in Gulfport, and it literally was his home. The residents there all view the quarters as their home, and they've been taken from it just as traumatically as the thousands of civilians who have also lost their homes. These old vets have nowhere else to go. Some of them don't have families, either.

These men and women fought for our freedom. The least we can do is send down a few cans of shaving cream and a couple of bottles of shampoo.

And while you're at it, consider throwing in a short note that says "Thanks for serving."

Friday, September 02, 2005

RM Steps Up

Commenter "RM" stepped up to my challenge, and here's what he said:


With all due respect, an implication or inference is not something you can prove. All President's speeches are highly crafted to send multiple messages to broad constituencies. Different people hear different things and rarely is it unintentional.

Many people simply "heard" Bush make a connection between Iraq and 911. Were they stupid? Poor listeners? Who knows. They are voters however and the President needed them to support the war.

Evidence aside, your gut should tell you that Bush did everything in his power to build the case for war, including implying a connection to 911, and raising the specre of a nuclear attack. What exactly about Bush would make you think he would shy away from bending the facts to make his case?

I don't know why people cant just acknowledge that he manipulated the public, and THEN debate if it was necessary or not, and what the effect of that manipulation might be for American society.

The closest thing to proof of his desire to link 911 to Iraq is the assertion, "fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them here". As the London bombing proved, the statement is patently absurd, and even contradicts his own words that more attacks on the US are inevitable. If this is a global war then how can it have a front line?


Thanks for your input- you lay out your argument in an intelligent and thoughtful manner, and for that I commend you. Now here's where you're wrong-

Yes, Bush did everything in his power to make his case for war- if I were President, I'd have done the same thing. I would not expect any President to say, "Hey, I'm going to invade a country right now- trust me it's the right thing to do, and I'll tell you all about it later."

Of course he's going to lay out his case! And he's going to have thousands of staffers get together and form a PR campaign that essentially says "here's why we're going to war."

As a member of the 101st Airborne Division, I knew that I'd be one of the first to go over there, so I listened CAREFULLY. I'm going to say it again- not once did I hear anyone in his administration even imply that Iraq was involved in planning and/or executing the attacks on 9/11. To do so would have been absolutely absurd. Anyone who knew anything about 9/11 knew that the 19 hijackers were mostly Saudi (none Iraqi) and that it was an act of bin Laden's AQ network- I wouldn't insult anyone's intelligence to suggest otherwise, and I wouldn't expect our governement officials to do so either.

I agree with you- some people may have been "poor listeners" or just "too stupid" to grasp the literal meaning of what was said. That's their problem- if they can't pay attention or if they hear only what they want to hear, that's great- they just need to be prepared to lose any debate that they decide to engage in. If they hear Bush say "9/11" and "Iraq" in the same sentence and then conclude that he must have meant that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, then I can't help them. But when they tell me (a person who actually listened to him) that Bush said "Iraq was responsible for 9/11," I'm going to call them out every single time. I'm going to tell them that they're wrong. I'm going to ask them to show me where he said that or even implied it. And when they say "well, I can't really think of a specific time when he said it, but I know for a fact that he used '9/11' and 'Iraq' in the same sentence!" then I'm going to devaluate their argument- severely. I'm going to tell them that maybe they should listen to the whole sentence- better yet- the whole speach, before attempting to argue about what Bush said or even "really meant to say." If those people had been on the verge of a deployment, they probably would have listened a little more carefully. Last thing- I don't think it's a coincidence that the vast majority of those "poor listeners" are card-carrying Bush-bashers.

Did he bend the facts? No. He did not. I've not seen one shred of evidence to suggest that he "bent any facts"- our intelligence matched up with every intellegence agency in the world. He did, however, present a lot of reasons (some turned out to be better than others) for going to war. Is this manipulation? I suppose you could call it that. I'd call it "doing his job."

Here's where you're right-

I think you were alluding to this debate:

"If Bush did lie/cheat/steal in order sway public opinion in support of this war, why does that automatically have to be a bad thing?"

I agree with you 100%- this is an excellent topic for debate. It brings up a ton of points to consider. Here's just a few...

1) Is political correctness a factor? You know- in the sense that we can't just come out and say "Hey we need to transform the middle east before that place becomes infested with Islamic fundementalists." Iraq would be the logical first step because Saddam is hated and despised by the vast majority of his constituents for obvious reasons (he kills them a lot, etc.), and so we build our case for going in without ticking off the entire Muslim world...

2) Does this mean it's okay for our government to lie to us? If it's in our best interest? For the sake of national security? Certainly it's been done before, right? Are there times when we have to act on a certain geopolitical agenda, even though it would outrage our overly-politically correct culture (especially the "poor listeners" who really just can't seem to get a handle on things)?

Just a few questions that can be debated until the end of time.

I agree with you about the "we fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here" stuff, but I think you read a little too much into it. I don't see anything in that statement that suggests Iraq was responsible for 9/11. I think it's pretty obvious that he's making the point that there are terrorists over there who are fighting like hell to keep Iraq from becoming a free society- and it's better that they are engaged in that fight instead of planning and executing attacks on US soil.

I don't like the way he phrases that statement, because it implies that it's "OK" for terrorists to be raising hell in some other country- as long as they're not in our back yard. It's sort of a selfish way of putting it. I can tell you that the Iraqi people (whom we are there to help) would rather we be fighting those terrorists in Iowa instead of Baghdad and Mosul, and I certainly don't blame them. But most of them accept that it's a battle between good and evil that needs to be fought and won by the good guys (the good guys being us and the Iraqi Security Forces).

I believe that we will prevail in Iraq- and when we do, the Iraqis will begin to enjoy life again. The entire middle east will follow them towards the path of freedom, and the world will be a better place. And I'll just be glad to have been a part of it...