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June 2009

Out of the Cities

"So, Grim, you're just back from Iraq... what does it mean that we're 'out of the cities?'"

It means that the ISF -- especially the Iraqi Army, and the National Police -- are the first line of defense for urban Iraqis.

"Will it work?"

No.  The ISF know what they have to do, but they don't want to do it yet.  They're a proud people, and though they've been well-trained, they believe they know their country better than we do.  So, they're going to be bullheaded at first, which will leave seams that AQI and others will exploit.

That means you should expect to see a spike in mass casualty attacks for a while.

"So this is all doomed?"

Not exactly.  The fact is that only the Iraqis themselves can "win" the counterinsurgency campaign.  We've taught them the techniques, but now they have to decide to do it. 

They need to fail to learn -- Thomas Barnett once said that our own army only learns when it fails, and that may well be true of any large organization.  Plus, whereas the IA are Shi'a-led, the NP are the only part of the apparatus that wasn't de-Baathified -- which means they need to learn to work together, and are likely to do it only under fire.

Expect to see them fail, because they have to fail to get over the next step.  The thing to watch is whether they learn.  They know what they have to do; the time has come to see if they will do it. 

My money's on them.  They just need a good whack to the head, now that they know the weight is on their shoulders.

The Black Watch Air Assaults Into Taliban Stronghold

MOD HQUKTF20090049076_2

Soldiers from 1 Platoon, A Company, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, deploy from a Chinook helicopter at the start of a operation.
[Picture: Cpl Rupert Frere, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

The 3rd Battalion (The Black Watch) of the Royal Regiment of Scotland is on the move...

3rd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland Launch Massive Air Assault Into Taliban Stronghold
International Security Assistance Force HQ Public Affairs
Date: 06.23.2009

KABUL, Afghanistan – International Security Assistance Force soldiers have launched an assault on one of the last Taliban strongholds in one of the largest air operations in modern times.

Twelve Chinook helicopters, supported by 13 other aircraft including Apache and Black Hawk helicopter gunships, a Spectre gunship, Harrier jets and unmanned drones, dropped more than 350 troops from the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, into Babaji, north of Lashkar Gah, just before midnight, June 19.

The aim of the operation, called Operation Panchai Palang, which means Panther's Claw, was to secure a number of canal and river crossings in order to establish a permanent ISAF presence in the area, which has previously been a Taliban stronghold.

The troops were quickly followed by another company of soldiers from the Black Watch arriving by Viking armored vehicle plus royal engineers and counter-improvised explosive device teams who have spent the last two days building a number of checkpoints on the main routes in and out of the area to stifle any movement by insurgents. In total more than 500 troops took part.

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A soldier from 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland deployed on Operation TORA ARWA in the Zhari district of Kandahar province.
[Picture: Sgt Chris Halton RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

Over the last two days insurgents have launched a number of attacks against the Black Watch but each one has been repelled allowing the troops to secure three main crossing points: the Lui Mandey Wadi crossing, the Nahr-e-Burgha Canal and the Shamalan Canal.

In addition, on June 22 they also found 1.3 tons of poppy seed and a number of IED and anti-personnel mines before they could be laid.

Continue reading "The Black Watch Air Assaults Into Taliban Stronghold" »

The Warriors Return

Warriors return

Left to right; U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Brown, Staff. Sgt., retired, Bradley Gruetzner and Sgt. Christopher A. Burrell, soldiers wounded in combat while deployed to Iraq, walk through “Hero’s Highway” at Air Force Theater Hospital before returning to Camp Victory after a visit to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, June 25, 2009. Brown, Gruetzner, Burrell and four other soldiers had the opportunity to return to Iraq and to visit the places they once served. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Brian A. Barbour

US Troops Pull out of Iraqi Urban Centers

    It really is a sovereignty day. I agreed with Maliki. It is a very important day in our history. But we are still worried about security. We hope that our forces will be able to handle security. The way will be a long one.” - Balqis Eidan, a 30-year-old state employee

There's a lot of discussion around the US pull out of Iraqi cities today.  Iraqi President Maliki has declared today a day of celebration.  Iraqis, who haven't had much of a reason for national pride, might enjoy today.  Of course, insurgents who are very desperate to gain attention (and credibility from the media) will try to disrupt the "celebration". 

I believe that General Odierno does not get enough credit for the Surge and the way Iraq has changed over the last two years.  There are also a large number of strategic corporals and captains to thank for the progress.  I also think that there are a lot of Iraqis who deserve credit too.

That said, I did not agree that pulling out from all cities on the exact same day and time was a strategically sound idea.  I would have liked to have seen a phased approach.  The majority of the urban centers could have been turned over today without a problem and with a very reasonable assurance that the Iraqis could handle their own security.  But there are a few hot spots that might need our attention - Sadr City being just one. 

GEN Odierno might feel the same way, but he has his orders and he has his plans to enact.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all people who strive for a secure Iraq today.

Update:  Here's an Al Jazeera broadcast about today from an embed in Mosul.

Hugs for TSO, benefits to WLF

The USO Girls are scheming again and the victim is This Ain't Hell's TSO.

The official Huggin' and Kissin' Grandmas are going to be for the first time in history giving hugs for donations to the Warrior Legacy Foundation! These aren't your average grandma hug, their hugs simoltainiously fill you with joy and make you feel like the most special person in the world. Their hugging reputation spans the globe! So Friday for a $2 donation you will get a hug and kiss from each Grandma (and for an extra dollar they might even goose you!).

As many of you know TSO has an aversion to hugging, so if you are not able to attend our festivities this Friday let me encourage you to make a donation to the Warrior Legacy Foundation in the name of "Hugs for TSO." Not only will you be doing good for a wonderful foundation, but you will also be helping one of our own!

Party with a Purpose in Dallas

Although it was already announced on the massively popular USO Girls site, I figger I should mention it here. There is a Warrior Legacy Foundation fundraiser party this Friday in the Big D, actually Grapevine.

Join us for happy hour from 4pm - 7pm next Friday July 3rd, at the Tap In, on Main Street in Grapevine TX!
Stop by and see us next Friday, Jamie and I will be the two singing patriotic songs at the top of our lungs in the corner!

You are all cordially invited, so I hope to see some B5 readers there.

US Negotiates With Murderers?

Reader Dave G., suggests we comment on the decision to exchange (officials say "release") of Iranian Quds Force terrorists that executed American soldiers for British hostages...More from Bill Roggio at Long War Journal.

My opinion?  I'll just echo the father of one of the murdered US soldiers, Danny Chism, "Somebody needs to answer for it".

PVT Johnathon M. Millican
PFC Shawn P. Falter
SPC Johnathan Bryan Chism
1LT Jacob Fritz
CPT Brian S. Freeman

Remember them. 

Free Sergeant Nelson

    "Out of every 100 men, ten shouldn't even be there, Eighty are just targets, Nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back." - Hericletus, circa 500 BC

Sergeant Jermaine Nelson, far right, with his legal team and Sergeant Ryan Weemer

For background, here are the historical links from BlackFive:

RE:  Marine Jailed Over Memorial Day Weekend for Exercising 5th Amendment (May 28, 2008)
RE:  Update - Marine Jailed for Exercising 5th Amendment (June 17, 2008)
RE:  Marine Jailed For Refusing to Testify Against Squad Leader (June 25, 2008)
RE:  UPDATE - The Judicial Waterboarding of our Marines (July 2, 2008)
RE:  Judicial Waterboarding of Our Marines - UPDATE SGT Nazario Acquitted! (August 28, 2008)
RE:  Sergeant Ryan Weemer Acquitted! (April 9, 2009)

Sergeant Jermaine Nelson needs your help.  Sergeant Nelson is still awaiting trial and all signs point to the prosecution using unfair tactics against him.  We want Sergeant Nelson freed.

Capt Nicholas Gannon, a young, inexperienced J.A.G. prosecutor, has attempted to disadvantage Sgt Nelson's defense by retaining experts to testify on behalf of the prosecution against Sgt Nelson, but refusing to allow Sgt Nelson to present similarly experienced and qualified experts.

On two separate occasions Capt Gannon denied Sgt Nelson's defense team a forensic expert, despite the fact that the prosecution was presenting their own experts. In addition, Capt Gannon attempted to retain an international expert on P.T.S.D. to testify for the prosecution, while refusing to provide the defense team's request for a qualified P.T.S.D. expert of their choice. The judge presiding over the case ruled that the prosecutor's actions did in fact prejudice Sgt Nelson's defense and ordered the prosecution to provide qualified experts to the defense. As a direct result of the prosecution's improper actions, Sgt Nelson's trial has been delayed twice, causing him additional undue emotional and psychological stress.

The bottom line is that former Marine Sergeant Jose Nazario, Sergeant Ryan Weemer, and Sergeant Nelson were charged with the murder of prisoners during the Battle of Fallujah in November of 2004.  Jose Nazario and Sergeant Weemer have been acquitted of all charges. 


There is now a petition that is being sponsored by GI Wilson, a veteran of Al Anbar province and retired Marine, William McNulty, the Secretary of the Marine Corps Intelligence Association, and me, as Chairman of the Warrior Legacy Foundation.

Our mission is to build support and help Sgt Jermaine Nelson with the ultimate goal of having the charges against him dropped.

We are asking for everyone to sign the petition to drop the charges (hit that link for the online petition or download this PDF file - NELSON PETITION). There is also a Facebook page to Free Sergeant Nelson.

Please print it and pass it around your unit, neighborhood, friends, etc.  Then fax or email to Attorney Joseph Low.



Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Nyman and Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Bob Haines pause on their way up Mount McKinley, sometimes known as Denali, June 9, 2009. Haines was part of the team that supported Nyman and three other wounded warriors during their effort to ascend to the summit. U.S Army courtesy photo