I've been occupied with some offline business, but I want to bring you up to date on the OASD "Blogger Roundtables" we've been running. Though I have missed a few of them that happened early this week, there have been some outstanding conversations that you may find of interest.
The most immediate interest will probably be the roundtable with Colonel Andrew Poppas about Operation Ithaca. Matt had a post about that operation a few days ago; the transcript of the conversation is here.
Rear Admiral Fox spoke to the roundtable about taking down Al Qaeda cells, dealing with the Jaish al-Mahdi, and the problems of having a political class that is 'waving its arms' back home. The transcript is here.
US Army Corps of Engineers Brigadier General Walsh talked to us about rebuilding the Iraqi infrastructure (transcript here). I asked him about the problem of how ancient Saddam's technology was, and what strategies they'd employed to deal with that. He noted that they had replaced a lot of the ancient generators with turbines, that could be put into place quickly, but that require diesel fuel (of which Iraq has relatively little). Seems like a feature rather than a bug to me: diesel fuel imports then become a political leverage point for the future Iraqi government, as gasoline imports are for Iran (which, in spite of all its oil, has limited refining capacity).
Finally, I promised a link to the transcript of our conversation with General Bergner. I had a post about that here, when it happened, but haven't gotten to the transcript until now. That can be found here.
General Bergner was asked about certain Congresspersons, and whether it was frustrating that they don't seem to be understanding anything he's saying about operations. He replied:
[MilBlogs and their readers] follow this story very closely, and you follow it to the point that you can understand the nuance and the sophistication and the complexity of some of the issues here. Those of us that live over here understand those same levels of detail because this is our lives.... [S]o I have great empathy, actually. I mean, this is a hard thing to understand, and it is complex. It is -- it is a dynamic environment.
That underscores the importance of -- as a veteran once said -- studying hard and making an effort to be smart. People who would like to appreciate the nuance and sophistication of our COIN operations might wish to begin with this round up post.
BlackFive readers, of course, are already up on what they need to know.