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February 2008

Mall Ninjas

A co-worker sent this link to me - its about mall ninjas (or the king of the mall ninjas).  Be sure to not use Internet Explorer if you want to read it.  I had seen it a long time ago, and it's still hilarious.  It is freaking hilarious.  Have a great weekend.

[My favorite parts are either the shootout at the Orange Julius or the rescue of the mayor's nephew (it was hush-hush).  Feel free to share yours in the Comments.]

I Gotta Get Me One-a Dese!...

New trailer out on IRONMAN.  Suppose this 'suit' is what the MC Commandant or the Corporal meant when they said they needed better protection?  I hope so.  This would REALLY make it easy to get thru Tora Bora...  I suppose though, that those currently cruzin' thru in Hummvee's aren't really listening to AC/DC- or Black Sabbath, for that matter.  Bit too old-school, I'd imagine.  Me?  I'm blaring Techno or Club...


News from Iraq

Megan Ortagus from Freedom's Watch is in Iraq with the troops reporting on the continuing counter-insurgency operations. And definitely head over to NRO and read Pete Hegseth's piece on the same city.

Special thanks to CPT Smith, LT Acosta, CPT Reinke, TSGT Anthony, TS Huffey and A1C Callaway for the bird’s eye view of Baghdad.

Reporting from Doura

Doura is located in Rasheed, a district in southern Baghdad, and before the Surge was a case study on insurgency and asymmetrical warfare.

Prior to the Surge, Sunni residents sided with AQI (Al Qaeda in Iraq) because they feared for the lives of their families from competing Shia militias that promised the same indiscriminate killings. For security, Doura Sunnis looked to AQI for protection and many even gambled with blood money – planting IEDs to kill Americans for $50 – just to feed their families. However, by December 2006, AQI’s ruthless and inhumane tactics eventually wore on the minds of the predominately peaceful community and they looked to the U.S. military for protection.

It was clear that winning the hearts and minds of the population required a binary strategy: dismantling AQI’s operating abilities and protecting the population.

Doura had been cleared (killing and capturing of the enemy) several times during Operation Together Forward I & II in 2006, but the gains never held. Insurgents would creep back in once the Coalition Forces left the mullahs and returned to their base.

From January to July 2007, 5 surge battalions again cleared Doura but this time there was no rush back to base. Instead, Joint Security Stations were established in partnership with the Iraqi Security Forces. With a heavy presence of Coalition Forces, the population began to return to a cautious-yet-normal life: shops re-opened, schools held regular class times and a feeling of community began to flourish.

There’s no question that life remains difficult, and the tenuous gains still need maturation before any serious drawdown of American troops should be considered. In every Iraqi home I visited, the locals knew the American soldiers accompanying me by name. They offered us tea and told us of family life, but begged for the U.S. to stay and protect them. As the debate over the Iraq War continues, it is the Doura residents who will have to live with the tragic consequences of premature withdrawal.

Having spoken with commanders at all levels, it is clear that the 2007 victories were more exceptional than anticipated.  Despite this incredible progress, the work ahead will be long, arduous and will take the dedication of America’s best and brightest to finish what we started.

Paratroopers Fighting in Afghanistan Need to Hear from You!

Not too long ago, Blackfive readers, joined by thousands of readers from other blogs, sent over 30,000 emails of support to Marines in Iraq.  The Marines had to shut down the email address because you all were causing bandwidth issues with the support we were sending.

Now, as if the Taliban and Al Qaeda, bad weather, and lack of support here at home weren't bad enough, the New York Times has published a one-sided view of the paratroopers tour in Afghanistan.

And so now we have cause to band together again and send massive support down range.  Here's why:

Even though spring hasn't officially arrived the snow line is beginning to move up the mountains in Kunar and surrounding provinces in Afghanistan.  The Taliban have already begun attacking the KOP, Firebases and Observation Points where elements of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team from Bamberg and Schweinfurt, Germanicenza, Ily, are deployed.  Almost 4,000 Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne), 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne) and 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry were deployed to Kunar and surrounding provinces in Afghanistan in May 2007 for a 15 month rotation.  This region of eastern Afghanistan in the Hindu Kush mountains bordering Pakistan has been designated the most dangerous place on earth for military personnel.


A Paratrooper from 2nd Platoon, Able Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), navigates a steep incline during a patrol to Omar in Kunar province in Afghanistan Jan. 11.  Date Taken: January 11th, 2008.  Location: Kunar province, AF.  Photographer: Sgt. Brandon Aird, Joint Combat Camera Center

This winter has been particularly harsh.  Many of the Soldiers are living in mud huts and tents with little or no heat, no running water, intermittent use of generators, supply drops via air to drop zones that require a hike of up to 40 minutes each way in order to retrieve the supplies, 30+ days out on missions at the firebases without showers or daily hot meals before rotating back to the KOP or Camp Blessing for hot showers, hot meals and the ability to communicate with their families and friends.

Photo courtesy of a Sky Soldier

The Sky Soldiers have trudged through up to seven feet of snow on patrols day in and day out often at altitudes of 7,000 feet and higher. Each Soldier carries between 60 and 100 pounds of gear on these patrols. They Soldier-On each day despite the loss of many friends and comrades and substantially high numbers of wounded.  Untold numbers of great Americans have provided amazing amounts of support to these Soldiers during this deployment.  Public, private and civic organizations have provided direct support or indirect support. 

A recent article by Elizabeth Rubin in the New York Times painted one Platoon of this Brigade in a less than favorable light.  The article sensationalized the facts in a negative way, which served only to cause undue stress on the Soldiers and family members.  The author failed to mention successes within the Brigade such as substantial humanitarian aid (tons of food and clothes) delivered to local villages, medical care for local children and adults, road projects, clean water projects, training of Afghan National Army personnel, distribution of school supplies, etc. [Don't worry, friends, Deebow is preparing a more detailed take down of Elizabeth Rubin.  Stay tuned for that.]

Historically, spring is a time of heavy fighting in this region as the terrorists and insurgents emerge from their caves after the harsh winter temperatures and snows.  Let's show these Soldiers how much support they have from home to help them through the spring and the remainder of this long and dangerous deployment.

Our paratroopers are in the fight of their lives and they need to hear that America loves them.

Please send an email of support to [email protected]

Or you can mail cards to:

    Leta Carruth
    P O Box 100
    Cordova, TN  38088

Due to security reasons in Afghanistan please do not put addresses or phone numbers on any correspondence.  All emails will be printed out here in the US and mailed to Afghanistan as they do not have the resources to receive a large number of emails.  All letters and emails will be vetted to make sure there are no negative comments.  These are letters of support, so please keep them positive and uplifting.

A Huge THANK YOU to the proponents of (and the leaders of) this effort - Tanker Babe and Mrs. Diva!

Bias, Bias Everywhere...

Posl07_afghanistan0801LW sent this over to me and he obviously has no concern as to how high my blood pressure could possibly get.

"I went to Afghanistan last fall with a question: Why, with all our technology, were we killing so many civilians in air strikes?"

Up, Up, Up it goes... not even a break.  Like 3 paragraphs into the story.

Elizabeth Rubin, in this writer's humble opinion, has published an article and it is a load of bull-pucky, centered around true events.  The article covers Battle Company, commanded by Captain Dan Kearney, son of Lt. General Frank Kearney, Commander of SOCCENT (Special Operations Command Central Command) and their actions while fighting in the Korengal. 

I take it on the chin here, along with some of the fellas here at B5 for having to read things like this.  It comes with the territory.  Bottom line was that it pissed me off, bad.  Not because it is not true, but because I think it doesn't tell the whole truth about the war we are fighting there.  I was truly disappointed in the angle she took on this story, because Sebastian Junger has an article on the same guys in the same area over at Vanity Fair.  Read this one too, so you have an idea about the difference.

Continue reading "Bias, Bias Everywhere..." »

Yes, I Have Been Holding Out On You

On several fronts, as a matter of fact.

Last week, I was honored to fly to Pasadena and attend the first Soldier's Angels executive meeting. It was great to finally meet a number of people in person, such as Dell Babe (dellbabe68) who comments here. Soldier's Angels is a wonderful organization that does so much on so many fronts for our troops (and even those of other nations) and their families. My embeds were made possible by two groups: you, our readers; and, Soldier's Angels and its members.

I don't consider myself fast on my verbal/mental feet in person, but did get to give a pretty good line early on. When given the chance to say a few words to the people assembled there, I told them that I thought they were insane to claim me, but that I also kept waiting for Matt to sober up and ask me "Who are you, and what are you doing posting at my blog?" I went on to say I felt that time was at least three years away, however, and hoped that the same period of time might be true for them.

If you visit my site you will notice that my "Have Shared a Bite" group has grown. One of the benefits of such a gathering was getting to meet a wonderful group of SA bloggers and a good group of Milbloggers as well. No matter what the Air Force may think of blogs as reputable sources, I know that when I want the straight skinny I am going to this group and not the Shady Lady that is the New York Times.

While there, I also got to do something I have been trying to do for several years now. It was a delight and pleasure to finally meet Baldilocks. This gracious lady was kind enough to come out and visit for a while, so that we could discuss past times and people, current times and people, and lure unsuspecting youth into blogging. Yes, she is a Milblogger though recently she has been concentrating on the situation in Kenya, a thing near and dear to her heart. Yet, if you don't think Kenya and related issues have an impact on our military and our global security, you need to think again.

I also got to visit with my godsons, Chance and Calculation, who I think are now part of Soldier's Angels.

As I talked about here, it was interesting being in a room filled primarily with doers. Patti Patton-Bader is simply amazing, and the together with the people in that room, the synergy (and energy) is outstanding. Patti has taken something she was doing and gotten a few friends involved. Those friends now number more than 180,000 volunteers. Soldier's Angels is growing and changing, and I will leave it to them to describe those changes. I reiterate my belief that, for all they have done, the best is yet to come.

I also have more posts to come from both embeds. Yes, I am behind as work and life seemed determined to beset me at the oddest times. I also hope that my next embed will break the tradition of having a relative die everytime I return. And that my bosses won't decide to drop multiple large projects on me as a reward for returning safely. While I am wishing, I also wish my home would become self-cleaning... It's a dream.

More soon.


M-16s for Kalashnikovs: An Alternative Future

Bob Owens seems to think the recent decision by the Iraqi Army to trade in their faithful AKs for the M-16-type weapons is fishy.  I don't have anything like an inside line on this; I had nothing to do with anyone involved in the decision, wasn't aware of it until I read it in the press, and don't have any ties to Colt or other weapon merchants.  I haven't talked to anybody in the military about this issue.

That said, why would it be a good idea besides making money for contractors?  Here's a reason:  it creates another interoperability between the Iraqi Army and the NATO supply chain. 

Envision an army trained by the United States, with extensive counterinsurgency experience, an internal structure increasingly in line with the NATO standard (cf. the new NCO academy) -- an Arab, Muslim army that integrates Sunnis and Shi'ites in cooperation toward a goal of a modern state open to peaceful trade and prosperity.  Now imagine this army in a future world with a happier Iraq, and no longer needing such large force numbers internally.  Now imagine that army can tie into NATO supply chains, and partially deploy in support of future Coalitions dealing with furter COIN operations -- an army that, like the army of El Salvador, remembers kindly American sacrifices that brought its people out of tyranny and chaos.

We've talked a lot about what future challenges face the world.  Imagine what that army would be worth, in a decade or two.  What investment would be worth having that army, that ally?

"Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony."

As Morpheus says, "Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony."

Now the record shows that in spite of the slogans and chants delivered in high-pitched screams, when Medea Benjamin wants to put the enemy on the run, she yells for the same relief called upon by the citizens of many trouble spots in the world: America’s brave Marines.

Yes friends, the bawling, brawling screaming, communist, libtard banshee who runs Code Pink apparently called for help from...

You guessed it, the United States Marines....

Eamon Kelley, the young Marine who is featured in Move America Forward’s TV commercial that ran on Fox News earlier this week, could hardly believe his own ears when Benjamin called on the Marines for help.

“While we were at the protest in Berkeley from 12 to 4 p.m., a white Volvo drove by and a man spat upon CodePink,” Kelley wrote in an email to MAF’s Melanie Morgan.  “They chased him down the street and got into a verbal altercation.  The police were NOWHERE in sight. 

“That’s not the best part, ready for this?

“Medea Benjamin yelled and I quote “Marines!” She actually yelled for our help because this man had stepped out of his car.  I even asked her if she was yelling Police and she told me, “I said Marines” then put her arm around my friend Allen.

Anybody else wish that guy that got out of his car was an Al-Qaida sleeper cell member?  That is the only thing that would have made it complete.

All the rest here.

Angelina Jolie: The Surge Is Working!

Wonder what Harry Reid and the rest of the pusillanimous poltroons on the Potomac think about this?  Plus, Obama's love-fest with Hollywood may not like this little OP/ED.

1_22_jolie_iraq01_3 Angelina Jolie Says Troop Surge Creating Opportunity to Help Iraqi Refugees

Thursday , February  28, 2008




Actress and humanitarian activist Angelina Jolie said Thursday that the reinforcement of U.S. troops in Iraq has created an opportunity for humanitarian programs to boost assistance for Iraqi refugees.

In an op-ed piece published by the Washington Post, titled "A Reason to Stay in Iraq," Jolie details the plight of refugees and says their conditions have not improved since she visited the country last August to urge governments to provide more support.

Jolie, who has been a U.N. goodwill ambassador since 2001, was in Baghdad earlier this month to again highlight the refugee problem. She talked with Gen. David Petraeus, the American military commander in Iraq, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the U.S. Embassy said.

Petraeus "told me he would support new efforts to address the humanitarian crisis" as much as possible, "which leaves me hopeful that more progress can be made," the actress wrote.

She said she stressed to Iraqi officials there must be a coherent plan for helping some 2 million Iraqis who are taking advantage of the downturn in violence to begin trickling back to abandoned homes from havens elsewhere in the country. A similar number fled Iraq to escape the bloodshed.

"It will be quite a while before Iraq is ready to absorb more than 4 million refugees and displaced people," Jolie wrote. "But it is not too early to start working on solutions."

The actress, who works on behalf of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, urged America's presidential candidates and congressional leaders to step up financing for aid to displaced Iraqis. UNHCR has asked for $261 million this year — "less than the U.S. spends each day to fight the war in Iraq," she wrote.

Addressing the question of whether the "troop surge" has worked, Jolie said that "I can only state what I witnessed."

"When I asked the troops if they wanted to go home as soon as possible, they said that they miss home but feel invested in Iraq," she wrote. "They have lost many friends and want to be a part of the humanitarian progress they now feel is possible."


Good On Ya, Harry

The news that Prince Harry, third in line to the throne, is fighting on the front lines (as he wanted/insisted) is very good news. He is to be commended for his determination to do what's right and to be a real soldier. The media agreement in place to protect him and those serving with him and/or under his command was an excellent idea and kudos to those who made it happen. A raised finger salute to the people who leaked it to Drudge, and to Matt Drudge for willfully endangering the Prince and those with him. May you and those who leaked it to you soon find yourself in an enclosed space with SAS and others who care to express their opinion in a very, very personal manner. No linky love to you, a*****e.