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June 2004

Thundering Third! - New Marine Commander Impressions of Iraq

The following is an email that I received from LtCol "Willy" Buhl who's battalion just entered Iraq and is settling in around Fallujah:

Sent: Thursday, June 24, 2004 12:10 PM


The Thundering Third is completely on deck in Iraq, with our rifle companies moving out to firm bases. Our main firm base was rocketed the first day we had the entire Battalion together, which generated the "Fallujah Shuffle" to bunkers and shelters - by the Grace of God there were no casualties. This was a first class wake up call for our Marines to let everyone know we're in a combat zone. The attack was coordinated with rockets coming from two directions just a minute apart... the enemy appears to know that the Thundering Third is on deck!!

Our Division CG, MGen Jim Mattis and our Regimental Commander, Col John Toolan have spoken to the men and given their commander's intent. We are currently conducting right seat/left seat training with our Brothers from 1/5 and have already begun assuming responsibility for various functions like the BAS, camp guard, etc.

I have been out and about extensively throughout our sector, have visited all of the firm bases, have sat in on several city council meetings with local sheiks, imams, etc., have met with ICDC and Iraqi Police, etc. Fascinating area with many complexities and challenges. Our Marines and Sailors went right to work despite 22-hr trip from Riverside. Temps around 110, with added heat in flak and helmet. Equipment is pretty good shape but will require close supervision, care, and maintenance in harsh environment. Interpreter support better than expected. Living conditions better than expected with decent chow. Marines can contact home through Internet and Internet phone connections.

In my observations over the first week here, I've seen mixed reviews from locals around our sector. Many do appear to be upbeat and friendly to us and all of the city councils and tribal leaders have pledged to help us if we continue to show tangible civil affairs projects and improvements. We are working closely with ICDC (which will now be called National Guard) and Iraqi Police Forces in the Karma, Abu Ghraib, and Nasser Wa Salem areas. Some Iraqi security units are better than others and we have to take this one step at a time - there are many Iraqi patriots serving at great personal risk to themselves and their families, others are suspect, and still others immediately appear incompetent. In saying all of this, I have a more positive impression and outlook than I did coming in to this mission. Regardless, we have a lot of work to do and the experiment is very fragile. This area of operations is at the same time fascinating and very dangerous - "absence of the normal, presence of the abnormal."

I have been busy as heck with all the immediate duties expected, to include turn over with LtCol Brennan Byrne, CO 1/5. More to follow as time permits - your Marines and Sailors are doing great things for our Nation and the Iraqi People.

God Bless and Semper Fi,
Willy Buhl

LtCol W.A. Buhl, USMC
3d Bn., 1st Marines

I'm working on getting a list of units to send care packages to...more to follow later.

No Effort Is Insignificant

Seamus forwarded this letter on to me. All I can say is that every military job speciality can make a big impact on the War. Every job is what you make of it. Just ask Sgt. Hook.

No Insignificance Here
By Paul "Devil Dolphin" Prehodka, US Navy, HMX-1 (Quanitco) By MGySgt Billy D. Stewart Jr. Aviation Supply Chief at the Pentagon

Since arriving in Iraq, Master Sergeant Adams just didn’t feel like himself physically. He had apparently developed some kind of upper respiratory infection, but like most Marines, he passed it off and just worked through it hoping it would subside. He was in great shape and usually had no problem exercising his way through such minor set backs. Little did he know that the progression of his illness would bring him to an experience that would have extraordinary meaning for himself, as well as all Marines that would be privileged enough to hear about it..

A few months had passed and MSgt Adams found himself on a trip from Al Asad to Taqaddum (TQ), Iraq, a base in close proximity to the town of Fallujah. On his second day there, some down time gave him the opportunity to finally get checked out medically. After walking into the “sick call tent,” greetings came from a nearby corpsman asking “what’s the problem?” After some discussion, the Master Sergeant removed his gear, sat and waited his turn. Shortly thereafter, another young corpsman escorted him to a “make shift” exam room with a field gurney, and a poncho liner for a curtain. Vital signs were taken, and the corpsman left the room. On the way out, the corpsman closed the curtain leaving it slightly open.

The situation had slightly shifted in the tent. Through the opening in the curtain, Marines in their body armor paced to and fro. The sound of incoming casualties began to fill the air. MSgt Adams knew that constant clashes with insurgents were all too common for Marines located at Fallujah, and he began to sense that there were Marines that needed much more medical attention that he did. Suddenly, the faint sound of a medical officer’s voice asked a young Marine “what is your name?” The Marine replied LCpl Phillips sir.” Next came a series of questions and answers that could only describe a far too common sight.

First, the doctor asked the LCpl Phillips how he sustained a deep burn on his lower back. The young leatherneck replied that he and his team were receiving small arms fire, when a rocket impacted the area close to his and a piece of hot shrapnel became lodged under his body armor which cut and burned him. Unfortunately, the doctor was not done.

Continue reading "No Effort Is Insignificant" »

Is the CIA Anti-Bush?

An anonymous CIA Officer, who was removed from the hunt for OBL in 1999, wrote a book titled "Imperial Hubris" that questions and attacks the policies of the current administration - specifically related to Iraq. "Anonymous" is still employed by the CIA. I'll have some further discussion after the article.

Anonymous and Angry
Unnamed CIA Official Takes Aim at Bush’s War on Terror
By Jake Tapper

June 23 , 2004 — A new book written by a senior CIA official using the pseudonym "Anonymous" offers a scathing indictment of how the United States is fighting the war on terror.

Still an employee of the CIA, the author was only allowed to write the book, Imperial Hubris, and talk to the media on condition that he not reveal his identity.

"I wrote it because I think America is in trouble," he said. "We have not yet appreciated the dimensions of the problem or the size of the problem."

He also slams the war in Iraq, calling it "an avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat."

Continued in the Extended Section

Continue reading "Is the CIA Anti-Bush?" »

Taking Chance - Media Alert

"Taking Chance" is LtCol. Michael Strobl's poignant memoir of his experience escorting home the remains of PFC Chance Phelps of Clifton, Colo., who was killed in action April 9, 2004 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom while serving with 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

LtCol Strobl will be on BBC Radio's "The World" with Lisa Mullins, today, Thursday, June 24, 2004 at 3 p.m. EDT. Check local listings for exact station and times.

In the Washington D.C. area, WAMU, 88.5 FM, and, in Chicago, WBEZ 91.5 FM.

Dems Pay Felons To Register Voters

File this one under "Extremely Bad Judgement Calls":

Felons Paid in Voter Registration Drive
By DAVID A. LIEB, Associated Press Writer

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A Democratic group crucial to John Kerry's presidential campaign has paid felons — some convicted of sex offenses, assault and burglary — to conduct door-to-door voter registration drives in at least three election swing states.

America Coming Together, contending that convicted criminals deserve a second chance in society, employs felons as voter canvassers in major metropolitan areas in Missouri, Florida, Ohio and perhaps in other states among the 17 it is targeting in its drive. Some lived in halfway houses, and at least four returned to prison.

ACT canvassers ask residents which issues are important to them and, if they are not registered, sign them up as voters. They gather telephone numbers and other personal information, such as driver's license numbers or partial Social Security numbers, depending on what a state requires for voter registration.

Felons on probation or parole are ineligible to vote in many states. Doug Lewis, executive director of the Election Center, which represents election officials, said he is unaware of any laws against felons registering others to vote.

A review of federal campaign finance and state criminal records by The Associated Press revealed that the names and hometowns of dozens of ACT employees in Missouri, Florida and Ohio matched those of people convicted of crimes such as burglary, forgery, drug dealing, assault and sex offenses...

There's more of the article (hit the title link) but just think about felons with possession of your phone number, driver's license number, social security number, and home address. Think about the implications about sending felons house to house to register voters.

Do I need to draw a picture for these people?

Maybe they just hired NBA players to help...

Iraq Video - Ohio National Guard on Patrol

For those of you with high bandwidth - cable modem, T-1, or DSL, here is official Army B-Roll video (Windows Media Player) of Ohio National Guard soldiers serving with the 1st Infantry Division on patrol in Eastern Iraq.

The soldiers are from 1-252 Armor, and the video was taken by Sergeant Kent Taylor of the 196th MPAD.

During the 8+ minutes of footage, you'll see the soldiers meet up with their Iraqi Civil Defense Corps counterparts, patrol through a village, test fire weapons, and patrol in the desert.

You'll never see this kind of stuff on the nightly news - especially, the look and feel of the village.

Update: Sometimes you'll get an error message. I got it a few times, too, before seeing the video. It should launch Media Player and start buffering the video. Too many connections are probably causing the error message: Could not log viewing session.Duplicate entry '127' for key 1

The Blue State Blues - Illinois Republicans

I live in Illinois. It's tough for Republicans in Illinois. After decades, DECADES, of Republican Governors, we had a corrupt Republican administration with George Ryan and lost the governorship.

Senator Peter Fitzgerald - who beat Democrat Senator Carol Mosely Braun by spending $12 million of his own money - had decided not run for re-election. He wouldn't have won, anyway. Dry toast would have done better.

The Republican voters of Illinois made a bad decision. I blogged about the Primary in which Jack Ryan, another millionaire, won the nomination. State Senator Steven Rauschenberger is the smartest candidate - but then he's neither rich, nor charismatic. He's more like the best accountant you ever knew with a sense of humor.

Anyway, now Jack Ryan's divorce records have been made public. The Chicago Tribune editors decided to publish his divorce records in which he is accused by his ex-wife of trying to get her to have sex with him in various sex clubs in New York, New Orleans, and in Paris. His ex-wife is Jeri Ryan of Seven-Of-Nine fame from Star Trek Voyager and lately of Boston Public. It's ugly. Spoons and Donnie have some opinions about it.

Ryan's competitor is Barrak Obama - a charismatic guy who was light years ahead of Ryan in the polls BEFORE this all came out. Now it's definitely a foregone conclusion. No need for debates now. The best thing that Jack Ryan could do would be to step down and let someone else run against Obama.

The other guys (who lost the Republican Primary to Ryan) are millionaires who, at best, are nothing to write home about...they are sure to lose and haven't been scrutinized too closely by the media (meaning that we don't know what skeletons remain out there). So what the hell should Illinois Republicans do?

Either find someone quick to get in the race or vote for Obama. Find someone with instant name recognition. Someone who will force debates and thought about the race. Someone who offers a choice to Illinois voters.

Hello? Calling Jim Thompson...

Strength - The 24th National Veterans Wheelchair Games


Last weekend, in St. Louis, the 24th National Veterans Wheelchair Games were held. The competitions included swimming, table tennis, weightlifting, archery, air guns, basketball, softball, quad rugby, bowling, handcycling, wheelchair slalom, handcycling, track and field. Track events included 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500 and 5000 meter races. Field events included club throw, shot put, discus, and javelin. Trap shooting was an exhibition event this year (one I hope makes it to competitive level next year).

You can read more about the individual athletes and their determination here and here.

Finally, an Army soldier who was paralyzed in a traffic accident in Iraq won the gold medal for weight lifting.

Veterans go for gold in Wheelchair games
By Courtney Hickson

WASHINGTON (Army News Service June 21, 2004-- One Iraqi Freedom veteran who lost the use of his legs when his Humvee was sideswiped in Iraq, has taken home a gold medal at the 24th National Veterans Wheelchair Games, in St. Louis, Mo.

Sgt. Johnnie Williams won the gold medal in weightlifting and is also competing in air gun shooting, the discus, shot put and javelin, all field events.

Williams had only been in Iraq for four months when he was injured in May of 2003. He is currently undergoing spinal cord therapy and rehabilitation at Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tampa, Fla., his hometown.

"Live life to the fullest because you never know if you’ll live to see tomorrow," he said...

So go check out the profiles of these tough competitors.

Those Irish Discriminating Bastards...

The Irish are discriminating against the religion of peace (my ass!) by not allowing polygamy. This article via Nick S.:

Irish outlaw Muslim second wives By Thomas Harding

Muslims who marry Irish women have to make a formal declaration that they will not take more than one wife on being granted citizenship.

The Irish government confirmed yesterday that it has ordered all men from Islamic countries seeking residency to sign a sworn affidavit rejecting polygamy.

Muslim men also have to agree they will not seek residency for a second wife if granted Irish citizenship. A man must swear he has "one spouse only" and "has no intention of entering into a simultaneous marriage".

A spokesman for the Department of Justice in Dublin said: "Obviously, we don't recognise polygamy under Irish law."

The Irish Council of Civil Liberties said the enforcement was "despicable". A Lebanese army officer was refused residence for both his wives and 13 children.

Yep, that's pretty darn despicable.

Update 03-09-05:  Note to Irish visitors - I am being sarcastic.

Are We Sorry?

The below rant/sentiment is anonymous. I've found it (via Google) on various sites - the earliest was at a Harley forum on June 5th. Any help identifying the author would be appreciated. This one was sent to me via a Marine General. I wish I had written it:

For good and ill, the Iraqi prisoner abuse mess will remain an issue. On the one hand, right thinking Americans will abhor the stupidity of the actions while on the other hand, political glee will take control and fashion this minor event into some modern day My Lai massacre.

I heard some Arabs and Muslims are asking for an apology. I humbly offer mine here:

I am sorry that the last seven times we Americans took up arms and sacrificed the blood of our youth, it was in the defense of Muslims (Bosnia, Kosovo, Gulf War 1, Kuwait, etc.).

I am sorry that no such call for an apology upon the extremists came after 9/11. I am sorry that all of the murderers on 9/11 were Islamic Arabs.

I am sorry that most Arabs and Muslims have to live in squalor under savage dictatorships.

I am sorry that their leaders squander their wealth.

I am sorry that their governments breed hate for the US in their religious schools, mosques, and government-controlled media.

I am sorry that Yasir Arafat was kicked out of every Arab country and highjacked the Palestinian "cause".

I am sorry that no other Arab country will take in or offer more than a token amount of financial help to those same Palestinians.

I am sorry that the USA has to step in and be the biggest financial supporter of poverty stricken Arabs while the insanely wealthy Arabs blame the USA for all their problems.

I am sorry that our own left wing elite, our media, and our own brainwashed (from elements of our society like radical professors, CNN and the NY TIMES) masses do not understand any of this.

I am sorry the United Nations scammed the poor people of Iraq out of the "food for oil" money so they could get rich while the common folk suffered.

I am sorry that some Arab governments pay the families of homicide bombers upon their death.

I am sorry that those same bombers are brainwashed thinking they will receive 72 virgins in "paradise."

I am sorry that the homicide bombers think pregnant women, babies, children, the elderly and other non-combatant civilians are legitimate targets.

I am sorry that our troops die to free more Arabs from the gang rape rooms and the filling of mass graves of dissidents of their own making.

I am sorry that Muslim extremists have killed more Arabs than any other group.

I am sorry that foreign trained terrorists are trying to seize control of Iraq and return it to a terrorist state.

I am sorry we don't drop a few dozen Daisy cutters on Fallujah.

I am sorry every time terrorists hide they find a convenient "Holy Site".

I am sorry they didn't apologize for driving a jet into the World Trade Center that collapsed and severely damaged Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church - one of our Holy Sites.

I am sorry they didn't apologize for flight 93 and 175, the USS Cole, the embassy bombings, the murders and beheadings of Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl, etc....etc!

I am sorry Michael Moore is American; he could feed a medium sized village in Africa.

America will get past this latest absurdity. We will punish those responsible because that is what we do. We hang out our dirty laundry for all the world to see. We move on. That's one of the reasons we are hated so much. We don't hide this stuff like all those Arab countries that are now demanding an apology.

Deep down inside, when most Americans saw this reported in the news, we were like - so what? We lost hundreds and made fun of a few prisoners.

Sure, it was wrong, sure, it dramatically hurts our cause, but until captured we were trying to kill these same prisoners. Now we're supposed to wring our hands because a few were humiliated? Our compassion is tempered with the vivid memories of our own people killed, mutilated and burnt amongst a joyous crowd of celebrating Fallujans.

If you want an apology from this American, you're going to have a long wait. You have a better chance of finding those 72 virgins.

I know that this post is going to upset some of you...


Update: Thanks to Chris Mayhew - It appears that is was taken from this Mike Adams piece on Townhall. As usual, it was changed a bit (probably from emailer to emailer) until the watered down version reached me.