Saturday, August 18, 2007

Muslims were here before Columbus!

You know what that means, don't ya? Once a Muslim land, always a Muslim land.

Jihad Watch.

Bush: All politics is local

I've written about this before. Here, and again, here.

Tip O'Neill, the former Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, gave us the famous quote: "All politics is local."

In today's Radio Address, President George W. Bush resonates with the same message: Political reconciliation will come from the local level. It will work from the ground up, not vice versa.

Transcript (with emphasis added):

In recent months, American and Iraqi forces have struck powerful blows against al Qaeda terrorists and violent extremists in Anbar and other provinces. In recent days, our troops and Iraqi allies launched a new offensive called Phantom Strike. In this offensive, we are carrying out targeted operations against terrorists and extremists fleeing Baghdad and other key cities -- to prevent them from returning or setting up new bases of operation. The terrorists remain dangerous and brutal, as we saw this week when they massacred more than 200 innocent Yezidis, a small religious minority in northwestern Iraq. Our hearts go out to the families of those killed, and our troops are going to go after the murderers behind this horrific attack.

As we surge combat operations to capture and kill the enemy, we are also surging Provincial Reconstruction Teams to promote political and economic progress. Since January, we have doubled the number of these teams, known as PRTs. They bring together military, civilian, and diplomatic personnel to help Iraqi communities rebuild infrastructure, create jobs, and encourage reconciliation from the ground up. These teams are now deployed throughout the country, and they are helping Iraqis make political gains, especially at the local level.

In Anbar province, at this time last year, the terrorists were in control of many areas and brutalizing the local population. Then local sheikhs joined with American forces to drive the terrorists out of Ramadi and other cities. Residents began to provide critical intelligence, and tribesmen joined the Iraqi police and security forces. Today, the provincial council in Ramadi is back, and last month provincial officials re-opened parts of the war-damaged government center with the help of one of our PRTs. Thirty-five local council members were present as the chairman called the body to order for its inaugural session.

Similar scenes are taking place in other parts of Anbar. Virtually every city and town in the province now has a mayor and a functioning municipal council. The rule of law is being restored. And last month, some 40 judges held a conference in Anbar to restart major criminal trials. In the far west town of al Qaim, tribal leaders turned against the terrorists. Today, those tribal leaders head the regional mayor's office and the local police force. Our PRT leader on the ground reports that al Qaim is seeing new construction, growing commercial activity, and an increasing number of young men volunteering for the Iraqi army and police.

In other provinces, there are also signs of progress from the bottom up. In Muthanna, an overwhelmingly Shia province, the local council held a public meeting to hear from citizens on how to spend their budget and rebuild their neighborhoods. In Diyala province, the city of Baqubah re-opened six of its banks, providing residents with much-needed capital for the local economy. And in Ninewa province, local officials have established a commission to investigate corruption, with a local judge empowered to pursue charges of fraud and racketeering.

Unfortunately, political progress at the national level has not matched the pace of progress at the local level. The Iraqi government in Baghdad has many important measures left to address, such as reforming the de-Baathification laws, organizing provincial elections, and passing a law to formalize the sharing of oil revenues. Yet, the Iraqi parliament has passed about 60 pieces of legislation.

And despite the lack of oil revenue law on the books, oil revenue sharing is taking place. The Iraqi parliament has allocated more than $2 billion in oil revenue for the provinces. And the Shia-led government in Baghdad is sharing a significant portion of these oil revenues with Sunni provincial leaders in places like Anbar.

America will continue to urge Iraq's leaders to meet the benchmarks they have set. Yet Americans can be encouraged by the progress and reconciliation that are taking place at the local level. An American politician once observed that "all politics is local." In a democracy, over time national politics reflects local realities. And as reconciliation occurs in local communities across Iraq, it will help create the conditions for reconciliation in Baghdad as well.

Thank you for listening.

This is no fluke, and I am not the only or the first one to begin recognizing how grassroots efforts can make such a huge difference in Iraq. Michael Yon has written extensively on it. It will take time. There will be successes, failures; good days and bad. But the best system of government reflects the consent of the governed, and that, apparently, is what is being built in Iraq.

Beauty in the Dirt

Last night was beautiful.

Iraqi cities look something like others that I've seen, and the fertile stretches along the river are less impressive than green farmland back home. The desert, though- the desert is different. The sky was clear of dust and haze- we were far past the lights of the city, and the stars shone soft and brilliant. The Milky Way stretched out overhead like a band of cotton. I heard bats launch from their hiding places in the abandoned buildings, and shrill aloft on their hunt for food. Somewhere overhead and out of sight, an owl hooted and stooped for his own dinner.

Acute Politics.

Now this is a soldier who not only understands and appreciates his duty, but also knows how mighty is his pen. Compare and contrast, dear reader, with the sputum of one Scott Thomas Beauchamp, the "Baghdad Prevaricator."

Confederate Yankee: Yet Again: AFP's Photo Woes Continue

Fresh off of being caught trying to pass off unfired civilian ammunition as evidence of soldiers shooting into the home of an elderly Iraqi woman, the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) has been caught once again in a photography scandal involving the U.S. military, this time misidentifying a U.S. military photo taken by a member of the 173rd Airborne in Afghanistan last month as one of their own.

Confederate Yankee:

Friday, August 17, 2007

Badgers Forward: This is Not An ESPN Highlight Reel

Badgers Forward: This is Not An ESPN Highlight Reel

Men like this will lead this country one day.

Be thankful and be prayerful.

The Influence Peddler: Democrats Livid that Bush is Obeying the Law

The Influence Peddler: Democrats Livid that Bush is Obeying the Law

"The Left is angry that -- according to the LA Times -- the White House will prepare the September 15 report to Congress on progress in Iraq."

Imagine that. The President will comply with the terms of HR 2206, the emergency supplemental funding bill that authorized the reports to be given next month.

I handicapped the potential winners and losers in advance of that report, but failed to note that the report will actually be given by the Administration, as required by law. The odds stay the same.

17 August SWJ Op-Ed Roundup


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Brave Baqouba Teacher Risks Life for Students

This is one of those stories that just must be told, but that the mainstream media will just yawn about and ignore. The bravery of the Iraqi people is one of the most underreported aspects of Operation Iraqi Freedom. -- Dave.

Thursday, 16 August 2007
By Sgt. Armando Monroig
5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

She carried a bag full of what she considered to be precious cargo – precious enough for her to risk her life delivering its contents.

She made several trips across the Diyala River, armed only with a pistol and a few friends as body guards.

This woman braved the dangers of traveling in a combat zone, where coalition forces and Iraqi security forces waged war against al-Qaida terrorists who used Baqubah as a stronghold.

She couldn’t travel on the roads because of the dangers of encountering roadside bombs, or sections of the city being blocked off by military personnel conducting operations.

So, she took a different avenue of approach – she crossed the Diyala River.

“I didn’t want the students to be deprived of the rights to take the tests like all other students in the state,” said Mouna al-Umairi, the teacher who found a way to facilitate the test process.

The former dean of a women’s institute in Diyala, who is currently a provincial council member, crossed the river several times to deliver national standardized tests to elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools in the greater Baqubah area during the recent testing season.

The tests are taken annually, and the results determine whether or not students pass to the next higher level of education.

The directors of the schools refused to come get the tests and supervisors of the exam districts refused to give the tests, all due to security concerns. No one else was willing to go get the tests, so she took it upon herself to get the exams.

Most of the roads were blocked to transportation. She thought the best way to move around the city would be by the river – there are no blocks on the river, she said.

“I took the initiative to be the bridge to those areas and make success of these exams,” said al-Umairi, “and so the students don’t lose their morale and don’t think they are being left behind because of the situation.”

“They had a legal right to take the test, and that’s a right of any human being to get education and continue with education,” she added.

The first hurdle she had encountered was picking up the exams. To do this al-Umairi used any means of transportation possible – boat, donkey cart, walking, car, and even an ambulance.

She was 10 minutes late at the pick-up point to receive the exams. The personnel at the test distribution point contacted the Center of Education in Baghdad. They were told not to give her the exams for being late.

So, she contacted the minister of education in Baghdad, and explained the situation. She told him the students were ready to take the exams.

“The minister of education told me, ‘Tell the director of education that you are the minister of education in Diyala and I am authorizing you to take the tests. You will be my representative in the state,’” al-Umairi said.

When she finally acquired the exams and got to the students, she was so overwhelmed with having accomplished her task that she began to cry tears of joy.

Had she not picked up and dropped off the tests, almost 1,300 students from 13 schools would have been deprived of taking the exams.

“Mouna is an outstanding individual who sees the big picture for the future of Diyala,” said Capt. Jan Rose, a nurse with Company C, 431st Civil Affairs Battalion, from Little Rock, Ark., who has worked with al-Umairi.

“She knows that education is the road out of the ways of the past. She is especially passionate about helping females. I asked her once where her desire to help people comes from and she looked at me and simply said, ‘God.’”

Mouna helped students and schools in the villages north of Baqubah in the Diyala River Valley. She said that day was a victory for her and the students.

“I would like to thank coalition forces because they recognized and appreciated my efforts,” said al-Umairi.

“It’s something that makes me happy because I brought joy and a smile back to these students. I felt that I was a mother to all these students.”

Rose said al-Umairi is one of Baqubah’s tireless leaders and a hero.

“Mouna is an elected provincial council member. She represents all of Diyala, not just Baqubah. She leads by example. The people see her out doing her work.”

Security and Justice Projects Helping Secure Iraq

By Erich Langer
Gulf Region Division

Thirty two court facilities are complete as well as 93 fire stations with still more security and justice projects anticipated to come on line soon, according to officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division (GRD). Correctional facilities, training academies, witness protection facilities and secure document storage sites are on the way also.

These ‘brick and mortar’ projects as well as their impact on the Iraqi people were the discussion topic at a recent Iraqi media roundtable press conference featuring Government of Iraq (GoI) and U.S. government security and justice subject matter experts. Biweekly media engagements feature subject matter experts from the U.S. Embassy, GRD and other entities responsible for helping rebuild Iraq’s antiquated infrastructure.

“You can construct lots of buildings and structures but at the end of the day what truly is the significant impact on the Iraqi people?” asked U.S. Navy Cdr. Johnny Wolfe, GRD Security and Justice (S&J) Sub Sector Lead. “Well, in our fire station program, for instance, we have completed 93 of 95 new construction and rehabilitation projects. These fire stations are serving communities across Iraq and directly impacting 22.8 million people.”

During Saddam Hussein’s former regime, little attention nor financial investment was given to infrastructure maintenance or repair. According to long-time Iraqi firefighters, civil defense and fire fighting were among the lowest of the low priority government jobs. In the ‘pecking order’ of civil servants, firefighters ranked below street sweepers.

Early World Bank estimates revealed it would take nearly $60 billion to rehabilitate Iraq’s antiquated infrastructure – newer figures indicate the cost may be more than $100 billion. In GRD’s Facilities Sector, alone, World Bank estimates Iraq’s need at $11.7 billion with the U.S. tax payer contribution being $3.55 billion.

“Specifically, the S&J program includes 273 Iraq Relief Reconstruction Fund (IRRF) projects costing $506.1 million with the goal of each to further establish the rule of law and provide security to Iraq,” said Wolfe. “Two hundred and fifty seven projects are complete and 16 are in progress. The last S&J project, the Hillah Courthouse, is scheduled for completion in August 2008.”

Training academies are an essential component of GRD’s security and justice program. According to Wolfe, GRD built four training centers that are complete, operational and being administered by GoI. “Under Saddam, very little money was spent on training, fire training equipment, personal protection equipment or facility repair/upgrades,” said Wolfe.

In June, GRD completed Iraq’s new $3.5 million Iraq Fire Training Academy in the Karkh district of Baghdad. Lodging accommodates 50 cadets and 12 instructors. Office space, bathrooms and kitchen/dining areas can support at total of 100 people. The facility has several classrooms, a firefighting training tower and hose training area with storage facilities to accommodate training gear and high-tech equipment.

“The facility is the first fire training academy in Iraq. In the past, training has taken place in Jordan and at other sites outside the country,” said Wolfe. “The Iraqi Civil Defense Directorate (ICDD) now has the capacity to conduct high quality training right here. The academy will reduce expenses for ICDD and facilitate training for more firefighters.”

According to Wolfe, the facility hosted its first HAZMAT training class in June and the first full firefighter training class is currently underway. Joining Wolfe on the panel were James Santelle, DoJ/DoS Legal Attaché; Wilson Myers, Rule of Law Attorney, Baghdad PRT; and Dr. Tahseen Asheikly, MoD Baghdad Security Plan spokesman. Courthouses and correction/detention facilities are also much in demand.

“To help facilitate ‘Rule of Law’, GRD has undertaken an ambitious courthouse construction program. More than 30 courthouse projects are complete and construction underway at sites in Al-Karkh, Rusafa, Basrah, Mosul and Hillah,” said James Santelle, U.S. Department State Legal Attaché. “The ultimate goal of the courthouse program is to provide Iraq with a fully functional judicial system.”

The additional capacity provided by these courthouses, witness protection safe houses, correctional/detainee facilities and secure document storage facilities was hammered home by Santelle who serves as the U.S. Embassy’s liaison to GoI Minister of Justice officials. “The added court rooms and related facilities are key components of the Iraqi judicial system and are responsible for increasing the efficiently of the judicial system. Providing safe, secure locations for Iraqi judges to administer justice is paying off,” said Santelle. “Safe houses for judges and witness protection facilities are paying dividends to help GoI quickly adjudicate cases.”

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better...

Ahmadinejad:  George W. Bush has dispatched CIA hit men to take out the Islamic Messiah!

Kamingir, an Iranian blogger living in Canada, has translated a media report quoting Ahmadinejad as saying he believes American Muslims are hot on the trail of Imam Mahdi, the legendary 12th Caliph.

If this were true, Islamists can relax.  The CIA is teh suck when it comes to assassinations.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ahmadinejad: Islam Must Rule the World

Kabul, Afghanistan. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said here Tuesday that rule of Islam on mankind is the only way for salvation of human beings.

"There is no truth on earth but monotheism and following tenets of Islam and there is no way for salvation of mankind but rule of Islam over mankind," said Ahmadinejad in a meeting with Afghan Sunni and Shiite ulama at Iranian Embassy in Kabul.

President Ahmadinejad said nations are today distancing themselves from culture of materialism and selfishness and look for a new way for their prosperity, that is the path of Islam.

He said that the world is on verge of a great upheaval and ulama at this juncture shoulder a heavy responsibility that is introducing genuine Islam as it is.

"Nations today have no haven but religion," the Iranian president announced, cautioning Muslim nations against enemies' divisive plots.

He said, "All of us have the duty to resist the enemy by closing our ranks." He said that the Iranian nation today feels more than ever the need to stand beside the Afghan nation.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has kindly received their Afghan brothers and will continue to do so in future. Minor issues will cannot affect Iran's policies on Afghanistan," he added.

The president said Islam belongs to all generations and Muslims should get ready for global mission of Islam.

Popular Islamist Website Publishes "How-to" Guide on Kidnapping Americans

Site hosted in Texas by

The popular Islamist-jihadist forum, hosted by RealWebHost in Texas, U.S., recently posted an anonymously written document from 2003 titled "The Excellent Summary of the Rules of the Art of Kidnapping Americans." The 60-page guide describes each stage of the kidnapping, explaining how to select the target and then how to follow him, seize him, transport him to a safe location, and hold him there, as well as how to conduct negotiations. The guide also explains how to execute the hostage should negotiations fail.

The following are the details:

The guide begins by enumerating goals that a kidnapping can achieve, including the release of prisoners, extraction of information from the hostage, weakening the enemy's morale and creating deterrence, raising international awareness of conflicts in which the kidnappers' organization is involved, blackmailing the enemy for money, and generating anti-government sentiment in the hostage's country of origin.

In the section dealing with selecting a target, the guide recommends choosing someone of importance to the enemy (such as a high-ranking military officer or a prominent businessman). However, he should not be a physically strong person who can put up significant resistance. In order to ensure that the operation goes smoothly, it is recommended that he be knocked out with tranquilizers.

As for the kidnappers, the guide states that they should be devout and in good physical condition. In addition, they must be familiar with the locale, and must be able to disguise themselves and to blend in with their surroundings. The guide gives various scenarios and explains how to deal with them - for example, what to do if the target enters a building or turns around suddenly while being followed. The guide states that, ideally, the kidnapping should be carried out at night, and in an isolated spot.

Next, the guide explains how to transport the hostage to the hideout. It recommends using a vehicle of a type that is common in the locale, and that it be prepared by removing the handle on the inside of the door where the hostage will sit. As for the hideout itself, it must be a large apartment with several exits, and the hostage must be kept in a windowless room. The apartment must not be on a road where there are checkpoints.

The last section of the guide deals with the demands stage, and states that after stipulating their demands and setting a deadline, the kidnappers must conduct negotiations using a mobile phone registered under a false name, or else a pay phone (a different one for each call). The guide also explains that if it becomes necessary to execute the hostage, this is best done by hanging or poisoning rather than by shooting. This is because soldiers regard death by shooting as an honorable death, and because shooting leaves considerable bloodstains at the scene.

Watch your Six O'Clock.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The "Petraeus/Crocker" Report: Handicapping the Winners and the Losers

Oh, this much anticipated report. What will they say? Will progress be the word of the day? Or, more of the same? If I were a gambling man (and I am), I'd lay some odds that some folks will come out of next month's report on progress in Iraq as winners, and some will come out losers. Here are the odds of various outcomes and what could be at stake:

David Petraeus: Winner. No matter what his report actually says, this man comes out looking like a shoo in for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. At age 56, he's even a likely candidate for 2012 if he wants a shot at the Big Chair. The "scholar-warrior" has done a remarkable job of soldiering and politicking in an environment that has become something of a graveyard for those who sport more than two stars on their resume. 10-to-1 Winner.

Ryan Crocker: Tossup. While Crocker has done a generally good job of working the Washington-to-Baghdad connection, the sense is that he has not done quite the job of fostering reconciliation among Iraq's sectarian divides. But frankly, he's been given a more difficult job than Petraeus. While Petraeus need only conduct a counterinsurgency as a military leader, Crocker has had the difficult task of attempting to help forge political reconciliation at a national level, something that few have ever asked of an Ambassador. 7-to-6 Winner.

Nouri al-Maliki: Loser. Make no mistake about it--this man is just a placeholder. When the last U.S. combat troops leave Iraq, Maliki is unlikely to be the Prime Minister. Sunni Arabs see him as a deeply biased sectarian leader. The Kurds tolerate him, but just barely. He has shown favoritism to Shi'a sects in ways that have still not been published. He's an honestly brave man, as his life and the lives of his family are on the line daily. But he is just not suited for the tasks he's been given, and rather than letting a true unity government coalesce around him, he has managed to alienate everyone. He told the American press that the surge stopped the Iraqi civil war. That civil war was one he would have been complicit in allowing. He is no statesman. He is just a placeholder and even a glowing report by Petraeus cannot save him. 8-to-3 Loser.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: Loser. "This war is lost." pfff. Not even close. 12-to-1 Loser.

Nancy Pelosi: Loser. Standing side-by-side with Harry Reid was one thing. Traveling to Syria to meet with an unrepentant human rights abuser was another. Holding vote after vote to let left wing Democrats show their moonbattiness was almost too much. Scratch that. It was too much. 10-to-1 Loser.

President George W. Bush: Winner. Steadfast in his support of underlings, even to a fault. Bush will keep trying to find the right people for the right job no matter how withering criticism of his previous choices, some of which have been somewhat embarrassing. Sanchez and Abu Ghraib. Casey and the refusal to fight a counterinsurgency with counterinsurgents. Bush has always trusted the men who worked for him to tell him the truth, and finally he has found one who tells the real truth: That Iraq is a dangerous place and calls for a serious effort to address the real issues. Grant saved Lincoln. Will Petraeus' appointment save Bush? Sometimes you swing at two pitches before making resonant contact. Regardless of how Petraeus comes out of next month's testimony, Bush appears to be a good bet to come out looking better than anyone expected. If Iraq actually emerges from this as a stable democracy, some coins will be minted with his likeness. 5-to-1 Winner.

Hillary Clinton: Slight Loser. She has so far deflected criticism of her initial support of the war. But the onslaught of the left against it has cost her dearly. As a result, she's flip-flopped worse than a green ling on a center console in the Gulf of Mexico. Her "I will end the war" canard during late 2006 and early 2007 and anti-surge rhetoric has cast her as someone who can't be trusted to do anything more than stick her finger in the wind to test the breeze. 7-to-5 Loser.

Barack Obama: Loser. As someone who has never waivered from his anti-war stance, having such a respected General come to the Senate and explain how well things are going in Iraq--and just how wrong Obama has been--is an unmitigated disaster. He has already shown considerable naivete in his statements on a willingness to meet anyone, anywhere, anytime and then coming this close to threatening an ally who is hanging onto power by a thread. Even if Petraeus' report is a middling thing, Obama comes out on life support. 8-to-1 Loser.

John Edwards: Loser. Ok, the $400 haircut joke aside, the man was for it, then against it, and then for it again, then against it again. He's a trial lawyer so no one expects the truth out of him to begin with. But his comments about the Global War on Terror being a bumper sticker slogan resonated with exactly 20% of the electorate. He can't come out of anything other than a disastrous report looking good. He just can't. 10-to-1 Loser.

Blue Dog Democrats: Slight Winner. While nominally moderate but generally supporting the military, this group of middle roaders has been sorely tested the last seven months. Sorely. Their party affiliations have led them against their principled beliefs, and some have waivered. As a whole, they will probably come out Ok. A few of them could see serious problems if Petraeus' report is even better than expected. My gut sense is that these people mainly have their fingers on the pulses of their constituents. They should come out no worse for the wear. 9-to-7 Winner.

Snowe, Hagel, Warner, Lugar, Voinovich: Losers. Though they vote Republican in organizing the Senate, they don't come across as a trustworthy bloc of support for anyone. They have called for policy changes in ways that annoy the GOP faithful but don't quite toe the Reid line. Lugar and Warner will likely be hurt the worst. They had been strong supporters of Bush's policy in Iraq and lost faith at the worst possible moment. It is always darkest just before dawn; he who loses faith at that moment suffers the worst. 8-to-5 Losers.

GOP "Top Tier" Presidential Candidates: Winners. While platitudinally voicing support for the Global War on Terror, most of the GOP candidates for President have managed to gain a modicum of separation from Bush while the counterinsurgency devised by Petraeus has run its course. Each has spoken glowingly about our men and women in uniform. Each has pledged support for maintaining an offensive strategy in the conduct of the effort. Whether by political mastery or sheer dumb luck, they've had enough separation from the current administration to let them voice support while not getting too close. The exception is John McCain who, while badly damaged by his stance on the doomed immigration bill and occasional criticisms of Bush's overall policy in Iraq, has remained one of the President's staunchest war allies on the Hill. An overwhelmingly positive report could allow McCain to jump start his campaign and compete seriously next winter and spring. Guiliani's support for the war is unquestionable. Romney's ramblings are worrisome. Thompson's position is unbloody known. 11-to-8 Winners.

Major New Offensive Underway

MNC-I conducts Operation Phantom Strike
Multi-National Corps – Iraq PAO

BAGHDAD – Multi-National Corps-Iraq launched a major offensive, Operation Phantom Strike, on August 13 in a powerful crackdown to disrupt AQI and Shia extremist operations in Iraq. It consists of simultaneous operations throughout Iraq focused on pursuing remaining AQI terrorists and Iranian-supported extremist elements.

Recent Coalition offensive operations, such as Fardh Al-Qanoon and Phantom Thunder, have reduced the effectiveness of extremist groups. The operations denied AQI safe havens, disrupted extremist support zones and supply lines, captured or killed significant AQI and Shia extremist leaders, and liberated large segments of the Iraqi population from AQI. These combined operations included the coordinated and synchronized efforts of Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces, appreciably improving the lives of the Iraqi people.

“Coalition forces and Iraqi Security forces continue to achieve successes and pursue security throughout many areas of Iraq”, said Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq. “My intent is to continue to pressure AQI and other extremist elements throughout Iraq to reduce their capabilities.”

Operation Phantom Strike is a joint Iraqi Security and Coalition Forces operation to eliminate remaining elements of AQI and other extremist groups, preventing them from causing further terrorism and inciting sectarian violence. Additionally, it will intensify pressure on extremist networks across the entire theater.

Phantom Strike comes on the heels of Operation Phantom Thunder, the first major offensive undertaken by coalition forces after the deployment and positioning of the five new brigades of combat troops known as the surge.  Between Phantom Thunder and Phantom Strike, coalition forces undertook a series of shaping operations, designed to push insurgents into areas of the country where Phantom Strike held near complete advantage.

Unlike prior offensive engagements, U.S. commanders were quite nondescript in the locations where the operations were to take place and few details were given on which units were to be involved.

Another key difference in Phantom Strike is a new focus on Shiite insurgents, which the U.S. Commanders accuse of being linked to, trained and supplied by Iranian Quds Forces.  Shiite militants laid low during Phantom Thunder and Operation Fardh Al Qanun, only to emerge from obscurity after Al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents had been neutralized.  Phantom Strike is a simultaneous operation against both sectarian groups of militias.