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December 2005

Marines Report on the Elections

Received these two emails via Seamus a few days ago (couldn't post due to hosting issues).  The first is from Captain Steve in Iraq.  Here's part of it:

...We're hearing the same here on the ground.  Even the Sunnis (who boycotted the last major election) are turning out in droves.  WE ARE MAKING SUCCESS!  Also, today I met a middle aged American of (I believe) Iraqi descent who has been here for a year acting as a translator for the military.  He was all smiles talking about how he'd probably aged ten years in the last year working his ass off, but that today the number of Iraqis going to the polls proved it was worth it.  His comment I loved the most was, "Today, democracy is perpetuating itself."  Cool.


And this is from a Sergeant Major who has some concerns about the media:

...We had a little rocket fire this morning.    Nothing too bad. 1 Marine was wounded.  I heard the shot, the whistle and the boom.  I told these guys it was incoming, but, they found out soon enough.  I was watching CNN and they show you all these insurgents on the street shooting and running around.  With the subtitle "election day in   Iraq -- polls now open". Well the footage is over 1 year old.  It is very calm here.  There is sure to be a few attack but let me tell you the polling stations are packed...

Spiritual Warfare

Via Seamus, Anita Brenner sends her piece about chaplains at Bethesda (her son was recovering there) from the La Canada Valley Sun (California):

In Every Place


Our family, like many others in America, is multi cultural. We are also interfaith, with the emphasis on "faith." When our kids were little, we constantly made choices. Nothing was a given. Nothing was assumed. Extended family members often gave unsolicited advice and our parents fretted. Not an easy path, by any means.

I often wondered where we fit in. Saying grace at Thanksgiving required great diplomatic skill. Would the "holidays" bring us closer together or move us apart? How would our kids fit in? There were not a whole lot of Chicano-Catholic-Jewish-Marine Corps veteran families living in La Cañada.

We blundered along. Somehow, our kids turned out to be nice people, a quality that we consider to be more important than grades, SATs or wealth.

Like they say, mission accomplished.

But there were still days when we felt ...well ...a little different.

It all came together one rainy week at the Navy hospital in Bethesda, where we began to encounter chaplains of several different faiths. The on duty chaplain would go room-to-room, bed-to-bed. He or she would ask, "Would you like to pray?" And we did. It was always meaningful. It always gave us strength.

It is a given that military chaplains will render pastoral care to servicemen and women from many different faith backgrounds. On deployment, in battle, or at a hospital, there may not be a chaplain from the serviceman or woman's own faith. So it is important that all the chaplains be able to pray with and respect people of different faith backgrounds.

Army Chaplain Abdul Rasheed-Mohammed once explained, "Most people will initially accept a chaplain of any faith, particularly when the chaplain projects sincerity and a willingness to meet patients on their own sacred ground. My personal belief has always been, with faith in God, all things are possible."

After several weeks at Bethesda, praying with various chaplains, one day we ran into all of them at once. We were walking back from the cafeteria, down a long hallway. Outside, it was raining. There they were, a rabbi, a Catholic priest, an Episcopalian priest and a Protestant minister. At one point or another, each of the chaplains had met with us, prayed with us, and counseled us. But we had never been together, all of us, in one place.

The priest tried to introduce us to the others, but stopped mid-sentence and asked the rabbi, "Do you know them?" They began to joke about which chaplain we "belonged" to. Who had the right to claim our family as one of theirs?

Continue reading "Spiritual Warfare" »

A Free Iraq - "Worth Dying For"

Of all things, the Chicago Tribune's Editorial about today's historic Iraq election ends thusly:

...It's become something of a mantra to tick off the amazing political accomplishments of the new Iraq--from its "independence day" in June of 2004 to its political awakening.

The progress has been astonishingly swift. The invasion and toppling of Saddam Hussein was the first act. The second act witnessed the rising insurgency, the election of an interim parliament in January and the grueling negotiations for a new Iraqi constitution.

Now the curtain rises on the third, and pivotal, act. Iraq's security forces and its emerging political leaders are working to build a strong and democratic Iraq. With each national election, more Iraqis invest in the goal of a country worth fighting for. Worth dying for.

That's what a lot of military men and women believe, too.  Don't take my word for it.  Here's one you should read - Marine Corporal Jeff Starr's last letter home before dying in Iraq:

"I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."

Letter From A Battlefield Hospital

Received this letter via COL (ret) Joel Leson.  It's a must read.  LTC Barnes is someone you should know:

Letter From A Battlefield Hospital, Scott D. Barnes, LTC, MC, USA

Date: Tuesday, 13 December, 2005 17:42

Well, as promised, with this letter I have kept my commitment to do better in keeping you informed of what I was doing over here in Iraq. Since I had only sent one letter previously, with this update I have doubled my correspondence. Again, if there is anyone else you think would want to get a copy of this letter, please feel free to pass it along.

I had every intention of trying to get this out just around Thanksgiving but very soon after that holiday, things seemed to pick up at work and I have just been trying to keep pace with the influx.

November has been an interesting month. Certainly not as busy as October but patients would come more in waves than a steady stream. During the month of October, the 86th Combat Support Hospital (CSH) was the 3rd busiest trauma center in the world! You read that correctly, only the trauma centers in Miami and Los Angeles did more work that we did. Just think of all the trauma hospitals in New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and those in Europe, Asia, and Central/South America.most of which have 5-10 times the number of staff which we have here. It's amazing what you can get done when you eliminate the burdensome task of JCAHO (hospital regulating organization) and the exponentially expanding administrative tasks that have grown like Kudzu (weed that has overtaken much of the highways in the southeaster US) as they choke off efficient patient care. That and the fact that if you work 24 hours a day and live in the hospital while being locked down to about two square blocks seem to help us see more patients...

Continue reading "Letter From A Battlefield Hospital" »

Election in Iraq


Tomorrow is the big day in Iraq.  Iraqi soldiers and police voted earlier this week so that they would be on hand to protect voting centers...and keep Iran from sending truckloads of fake ballots.


Throngs of Iraqi army soldiers head to the polls in Taji, Iraq on the morning of Dec. 12, 2005. Nearly six-thousand Iraqi army soldiers based in Taji were expected to cast ballots in the early election held for Iraqi Security Forces. Elements of the 9th Iraqi army division patrol the Taji area north of Baghdad with 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division. (All photos by: Staff Sgt. Kevin Bromley, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division PAO)


Iraqi army soldiers chant and sing after they participated in early voting Dec. 12, 2005.

Hopefully, you'll see a lot of this tomorrow.

FLASH TRAFFIC: Need your help

Just received this message from Chuck Ziegenfuss of TCOverride:

Hi there. My name is Captian Chuck Ziegenfuss, and for those of you who don't know me, I was wounded during OIF. And, for the last six months have struggled to regain my health. During that time, I helped to found Project Valour -- IT... I was the test bed/guinea pig. You can read more about me and a long strange trip it's been from Iraq to my living room at http://tcoverride.blogspot.com/ .

But that's not why I'm writing you today. I am begging you to please post about an organization called Salute America's Heroes. They are donating $500 to every wounded Soldier, Sailor, Airmen or Marine who registers with them in the next few days. I don't know when the end date is on this, but they did extend it beyond the date listed on their web site. This has been approved by and coordinated through the Department of Defense office of General Counsel Standards of Conduct office.

I'm simply trying to get the word out about this project. Please help me by writing something about it in your blog, and telling any wounded veterans that you know about this. If you prefer, you can simply link to my post on it:


I was called this morning by a representative from the Veterans Administration, who pointed me to this site so I myself could register. I felt that I would be doing a disservice to my fellow wounded veterans if I did not do everything that I could to spread the word about this program.

Thank you very much for your time,


Spread the word, people.

Update:  Chuck sends this follow up message:

I called the Wounded Warrior Program to ask them how wounded soldiers would go about getting the authorization code, and was told that the Coalition to salute America's Heroes gave them a list of authorization codes and people to call.  Apparently, it works like this:

Coalition to salute America's Heroes somehow selects who they want to donate to DS3/WW2 is given the list of names to contact with authorization codes Soldiers get contacted by DS3/WW2, given their authorization #, and asked to register.

I'm not sure how many people the Coalition to salute America's heroes have or are going to give this to, or how they generated the list of names, etc.

Washington Post tells "The Truth on the Ground"

I am starting to wonder about the Washington Post, every time I smack them down recently, they pop up with some responsible journalism. Obviously they can't be called fair and balanced, who can? But they have kept on showing signs that they and the rest of the media/left alliance realize they have failed to lose the war through bias. Now they must show that they are a "credible" source for information, and they took another step in the right direction today with a column on the Op-Ed page from USMC Maj. Ben Connable:

"When I told people that I was getting ready to head back to Iraq for my third tour, the usual response was a frown, a somber head shake and even the occasional "I'm sorry." When I told them that I was glad to be going back, the response was awkward disbelief, a fake smile and a change of subject. The common wisdom seems to be that Iraq is an unwinnable war and a quagmire and that the only thing left to decide is how quickly we withdraw. Depending on which poll you believe, about 60 percent of Americans think it's time to pull out of Iraq.

How is it, then, that 64 percent of U.S. military officers think we will succeed if we are allowed to continue our work? Why is there such a dramatic divergence between American public opinion and the upbeat assessment of the men and women doing the fighting?"

Go read the whole thing and he will explain how this can be. Guarded kudos to the Post, although I fear they will revert to form and minimize the effect of the elections, but you never know. Maybe we have reached a media tipping point? Maybe they have determined that the public is not in the mood for defeat-mongering? I'll keep an eye on 'em.

5/7 Cav busy with elections in Iraq

Without the tremendous resources and editorial support of the Washington Post, I was forced to spend a grueling 5 minutes on the internets to find the newsletter for 5/7 Cav, they are part of 1st Bde. Combat Team and are still in Iraq, not back as I wrote yesterday, which means the WaPo story I mentioned yesterday detailing their "Fitful Year" caught them right in the middle of election prep. Not only are they not sad and demoralized they are taking care of business, thanks for the help there WaPo.

I got an email back from the Public Affairs Office at FOB Speicher
Tikrit, Iraq and the writer politely agreed that the story wasn't much of a representation, but was also very proper in not slagging the media.

"We've seen the article and, of course, everyone over here is ready to
form an opinion on it.

One narrowly focused story certainly doesn't represent the 5/7 CAV's
efforts, especially not this article.  The squadron has done a stellar
job in the Balad area over the last year.  They've made significant
progress training Iraqi Security Forces, working with the local government on a multitude of civic projects, and working with the Iraqi Security Forces fighting the insurgency.

I suppose if a reporter wanted to do a story on a unit's time in Iraq
it would be book length, complete with setbacks and successes.  I think
it would show an obvious progress, though, through all the diversity. 
For anyone who's spent the last 11 and a half months here like I have,
day in, day out, it's obvious that we're moving in a positive direction."

That is an excellent response and reminds me how good I used to be at smiling through gritted teeth while excusing some clueless idiot, kinda like Matt and his cheese-eating surrender monkey.

Having spent the minutes to locate the newsletter, I was stunned to find multiple examples of good things happening to the troops of 5/7 Cav and 1st Bde Combat Team in Sadaam's hometown and surrounding areas.

"FORWARD OPERATING BASE PALIWODA, Balad, Iraq- Recently units in the 5_7_night_capture_1 Iraqi army have started taking over the role of Coalition Forces by spearheading operations. Using its intelligence assets to gather information, Company D, 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 4th Division is
now planning, rehearsing and executing missions with little or no Coalition Forces help. “They are almost completely independent of our support,” said Army Capt. Phillip Poteet, commander, Troop C, 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Liberty. “The only reason we’re there is to coordinate air medical evacuations in case the event arises and to ensure quality control.”

So they have actually trained Iraqi troops, taken them on confidence-building missions and now are watching them bring the pain straight to the bad guys. Kinda sounds like that ole non-existent plan W keeps jaw-flappin' about huh? There's more:

Continue reading "5/7 Cav busy with elections in Iraq" »

5/7 Cav back from "Fitful Year" in the Quagmire

I knew in my heart that the few instances of good news slipping past the MSM censors couldn't last, and today the WaPo delivers a beaut. They have a feature story called "A Unit's Fitful Year at War"  and stunningly everything that happened to them was bad, all the (several) soldiers quoted appear to question the cause, and their relatives, even more so. The only actions highlighted are IED's that kill members of the unit and these are properly horrifying, well they did manage one quick bit about a girl tortured for talking to the Americans. But not one positive aspect to an entire year spent in Iraq could be found and highlighted.

5_7_cav_fitful_year The Post's Steve Fainaru reports on the 5th Battalion of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, an "average unit that was confronted with extraordinary events." From left: Spec. Russell Nahvi was killed by a roadside bomb Oct. 19; three soldiers and an Air Force firefighter drowned in a Feb. 13 Humvee accident; activist Cindy Sheehan comforts Nahvi's sister, Nina, during a recent war protest.

The title of the piece is a tip off and this journo simply poked around until he heard what he wanted. He even found a pic of the sister of one of the poor deluded dead troops being comforted by Cindy Sheehan. And to complete the construct, they trotted out the Vietnam vets who served with 5/7 Cav in Vietnam and were sponsoring the new generation, solemnly watching another bunch of kids sent to die for the rich man's war. I have lowered my expectations of fairness so far that I was looking at any bit of good news as a breakthrough, but this wagonload of dung is a stark reminder of just how much there is to break through.

The unit is 5th Bn. 7th Cav 3rd. ID from Ft. Stewart and I want to know if anyone from that unit has a different view of the "Fitful Year" they spent in Iraq. If so please comment here or you can email me directly at jimboATunclejimbo.com.

Fake site attempts to steal AKO user-name and password

Received this message from a few of you about attempts to steal AKO user-name and password:

The enemy has created a fake Army Knowledge Online (AKO) web page to lure you into giving up your AKO user name and password and stealing your identity. DO NOT GO TO THIS SITE.
You may receive email, with a link, that directs you to go to this fake AKO site and log on. 

The only link for AKO is https://www.us.army.mil/ .
The following site is intended to look like the AKO portal. It was setup to gather usernames and passwords of AKO users (Bitmap deleted). We have received one report of an email sent to an AKO user that linked to this website. In the event that you receive such an e-mail, do not open it; delete it immediately. If you enter your password to this site, it will be captured and could be used by an intruder to access the AKO portal and any other Army website that relies on AKO credentials.
Our enemies will try any method to gain access to our networks.  Thank you for doing your part, and thank you for your patience as we continue to work on keeping the network secure and reliable.