Saturday, September 1, 2007

Isn't She Adorable?

What a little sweetheart.  She's about the same age as a child of my own.

Who, by the way, has never held an automatic weapon, toy or otherwise.

And Fatah is supposed to be the more "moderate" of the two rival Palestinian factions.

Infiltrated Police Unit Disbanded

Multi-National Force - Iraq:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi, National Police officers and Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers disbanded the Iraqi Police station in the western neighborhood of Khadra Aug. 29.

Iraqi Police officers at the station were given their last pay check and told to report to the central Baghdad Police Station for reassignment. The station was disbanded after the local Iraqi Police force failed to prevent insurgent and
criminal activity in the area.

Improvised explosive devices were often found no more than 100 meters from Khadra IP checkpoints on main roads throughout the neighborhood. The IP station’s inability to decrease crime led National Police authorities and Coalition
Forces to conclude that the policemen there were complacent with local insurgency efforts.

National Police from the 2nd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd Iraqi National Police Division, with the help of Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, transformed the old Iraqi Police station into a National Police outpost. A joint security station already exists in the Khadra neighborhood, where National Police and Coalition Forces work side by side.
Good bye, and good riddance.

UPDATE: Fox News has picked up the story.

Geraldo: I’d spit on Michelle if I saw her


A fundamental trait of intellectual dishonesty is not being able to remember the lie you told yesterday. Or, last week. Or, last month. Or, last season. Or...

You just can't remember how much foolishness you've spread, period.

Now I want you to go watch this clip from Cavuto's show last week; skip ahead to the middle to hear him whine about how "this kind of personal, kind of gutter rhetoric is the product of this hate campaign directed against illegal aliens."

Read the story here.

Reid Has No Good Option on Iraq

The Influence Peddler:

Keen insight on the conundrum faced by Reid and anti-war Democrats:

The problem is simple math, really. The President will veto any bill with which he disagrees, and so far Congress has not resorted to the option presented them under the Constitution: cut off funding. Whether because Reid and Pelosi refuse to take the political risk of denying needed resources to troops in the field, or whether because they have counted votes and know that a bipartisan majority would override and embarrass them, they have not done so.

And since they can't or won't cut off funds, they are forced to pursue a strategy of imposing conditions on the White House. But the challenge there is that since the President will veto onerous legislation, they need 67 votes in the Senate and 290 votes in the House. That's virtually impossible.

Iraqi Provincial Volunteers help secure Radwaniyah

Multi-National Force - Iraq:

Saturday, 01 September 2007
By Spc. Ben Washburn
4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Public Affairs

BAGHDAD — The goal has always been to return control back to the Iraqis. In recent months, an increasing number of Iraqis have stood up to the challenge of reclaiming their country from terrorists and insurgents by joining the Iraqi Provincial Volunteers.

A trip with the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Briagde, 1st Infantry Division, attached to 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., into Radwaniyah provides a glimpse of what is happening not just there, but in other parts of the country. There, IPVs are manning checkpoints along the roads to stop al-Qaida and insurgents from operating in their area.

Their checkpoints are often simple. A few sandbags piled up into a makeshift bunker. Some rubble or scrap metal pulled across the street to force cars to slow down. Whatever supplies they can scrounge up, with a bit of assistance from the Coalition force, is all it takes for them to secure their roads. The IPVs work throughout the day, through the heat and the sun, to secure their own neighborhoods.

“It’s a big step towards giving control back to the people. I feel a lot safer.” said Spearfish, S.D., native Spc. Russell Harmon, a team leader with Company C, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, attached to Company E, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment.

“There’s a lot more of them. They’re a lot more organized,” said Pfc. Anthony Mondelli, a gunner with Company C, 1-28 Inf. The IPVs are making progress, despite their limited resources. As the time passes, they will be more able to protect their roads and neighborhoods. They’ve done a great job so far, forcing the insurgents to stay away.

“We drive around now and don’t even get shot at. I think it’s because of them,” the gunner and native from Copiague, N.Y., said.

Because the IPVs are from the area they guard, they know who is and who is not from the area. That’s a big advantage that the Coalition force doesn’t have, and is one reason the IPVs are better able to control the checkpoints than anyone brought in from outside the area, one non-commissioned officer said.

It’s that knowledge which has forced the insurgents to stay away. Sgt. 1st Class John McGlothin, of Company C, 1-28 Inf., said that’s why they are effective.

“The reason it works so well with them is they know the people who live in their area. So if we get someone that’s not from the area around, they’re going to be the first to know it,” said the platoon sergeant from Bradford, Ohio.

The IPVs do more than just secure the roads to keep insurgents out. They have proven reliable in preventing improvised explosive devices.

“We don’t have to concentrate on route clearance as much,” Harmon said. By allowing the Coalition force to concentrate more on finding insurgents and weapons caches, the IPVs have proven themselves to be a combat multiplier for the Coalition force.

The residents of Radwaniyah also see the increased security, feeling more comfortable out of their homes and on the roads.

“A big difference is we see people out on the roads. When we first got here we saw a lot less people,” Mondelli said. The people realize that violence doesn’t have to be a way of life.

“I think they finally realize there could be hope for the country, and they’re just trying to do their part,” said Pfc. Christopher Novak, a gunner from Stewart, Fl., assigned the 1-28 Inf.

The IPVs have done a great job since they began manning checkpoints.

“So far they’ve been really successful, very few incidents since we stood them up. Things seem to be getting quieter,” McGlothin said.

Despite the success, the most important aspect is that it’s the Iraqis taking charge of security and allowing the Coalition force to step back and assist where necessary. Radwaniyah is just one area, but is a sign of hope for all of Iraq.

Mondelli summed it up with one sentence.

“It’s been a dramatic change since they’ve been here.”

Web Reconnaissance 09/01/2007

Thunder Run's Daily Web Recon:


Brian De Palma…Jackass

DrewM, blogging at Ace of Spades HQ has a brilliant and searing post about Brian De Palma's tour de idiocy, Images Redacted:

Now what happened at Mahmudiyah was a crime of almost unimaginable horror. It’s also one that has been thoroughly investigated and prosecuted. Those involved (with the exception of one defendant who is still awaiting trial) have been tried and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 5 to 100 years.

Apparently De Palma couldn’t find any stories that interested him of American heroes, men who gave their lives to save their fellow Americans or who try and make the life of Iraqi children a little better. I doubt he even bothered to look for them.

Media Misleads with August Death Toll Figure

Iraqi civilian deaths rise slightly in August - Yahoo! News:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Civilian deaths from violence in Iraq rose slightly in August, with 1,773 people killed, government statistics showed on Saturday.

The figures from various ministries showed 87 police and army personnel reported killed in August, a big drop from the previous month when 224 were killed. The civilian toll was up 7 percent from 1,653 people killed in July. But it was unclear how the figure was affected by the death toll from massive truck bomb attacks against the minority Yazidi community in northern Iraq on August 14.

More than 500 people were killed in those bombings, the Iraqi Red Crescent has said. The provincial governor of the area has put the death toll at 344 with 70 still missing."

It's official: Reuters believes you are stupid enough to be misled by this report.

The Yazidi village hit by the August 14 bombing is in the Kurdish region, near the border with Syria. It is so far out in the boonies that no U.S. troops have been in the region for months. Estimates say 400 people were killed in the attack, with the Red Crescent figure approaching a questionable 500 killed. At the same time of this attack, tens of thousands of Shiites were making a pilgrimage through Baghdad, along streets lined with Sunni neighborhoods and former Al Qaeda safe havens. Al Qaeda and irreconcilable Sunni insurgents chose not to attack that pilgrimage.

Why? Because security was so tight that attempting a spectacular attack would have been futile. Instead, AQI chose a remote village in the middle of nowhere.

It is certainly NOT unclear how that attack affected the civilian death toll. If you split the difference and say 450 were killed in the attack, and take that figure out of the 1,773 killed in August (a number which itself is impossible to verify), then the death toll would have come in at 1,323, which represents a sharp decline from the July figure of 1,643.

If we accept the Provincial Governor's toll of 344 dead in the Yazidi incident, the figure for August would have been 1,429. Still a large number, but still a decrease from July.

In a population of 24 million, 1,429 represents a death rate of 0.0060%. That's six-thousandths of one percent, or about six people per 100,000. These are infinitesimally small figures. Large events like the Yazidi bombing impact these numbers significantly. A small change in a small number can have a large impact.

Reuters, and the other news outlets that tell you the death toll is rising may be technically accurate, but are certainly misleading.

Pirate Attacks Increase Worldwide. Arrr.

The Tank on National Review Online:

Spike in Pirate Attacks Worldwide

At least five seaborne pirate attacks — one off Guinea, one off Somalia, three off Indonesia — have been reported to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) over the past two weeks. Last month, IMB reported a spike in piracy worldwide. Weekly Piracy Report here. Piracy Map here.

The links in the post above are a valuable resource. The live IMB map is particularly cool.

Before you yawn and utter a "so what," consider that on the live IMB Piracy Map, the density of the attacks in the Indian and west Pacific coincide with the areas of the globe that have seen the most intense Al Qaeda activity.

Several intelligence reports identify piracy and seaborne terrorism as a serious threat to global political and economic security. Tremendous amounts of the global oil supply are transported through key straits in the region, the disruption of which would send shockwaves across the globe.

Remember how easy it was for Al Qaeda to nearly sink the USS Cole? While US Navy vessels are presumably much more difficult to approach now, the same can not be said about the massive fleet of tankers, lighters, freighters and other key parts of the merchant fleet.

Iraqi Air Force conducts first mission without U.S. help

Multi-National Force - Iraq:

CAMP TAJI — The Iraqi Air Force (IAF) recently flew its first mission without the assistance of its American partners.

Iraqi pilots flew a mission to survey and monitor the power lines here during a mission appropriately called “Operation Power Line,” Aug. 25, said Brig. Gen. Sati, commander of the IAF, Taji Wing, who asked to be identified by only his last name.

“We did our duties today for the very first time and it was a 100 percent Iraqi mission,” he said. Sati announced the mission at a partnership event Aug. 25 between the IAF and 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, in which the American and Iraqi service members enjoyed dinner.

The mission came about because insurgents have been causing unrest throughout the country by cutting power lines, thus cutting off electrical power to the Iraqi people, said Washington Court House, Ohio native, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bryan Bartlett, commander of the 770th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron and the Coalition Air Force Transition Team.

“There’s (a proposed) Iraqi law about people keeping their distance from power lines since there are so many dropped,” said Bartlett.

The IAF is taking action on this problem by surveying for downed lines and also watching for anyone violating the stand-off distance, he said.

“The mission is to go outside and patrol the power lines and to get the word out that the Iraqi Air Force is flying,” said Bartlett.

Sati feels that there are two reasons why the IAF have had this recent success.

“As I informed my close, dear friend (Col. Dan Shanahan, commander of the 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div.), there are two reasons behind that,” said Sati.

“Number one, is because (of) the ability of our Iraqi pilots to understand and digest the information and because of their (aviation background),” the Iraqi general said proudly.

“The second reason is because the continuous day and night help from our American brothers who did everything we asked of them. They didn’t deny us any efforts to accomplish what we wanted,” he said.

Sati described the moment they completed their first Iraqi mission.

“The whole base is very happy today – extremely happy. We feel like a graduate who just graduated and got his diploma,” he said.

The progress is obvious when one looks at the numbers, said Bartlett.

“To put it in context, last year this wing flew a total of 300 hours. Most of those hours were on a couple of these (Bell 206) Jet Rangers,” he said.

“Last month, they flew 200 hours just in the (Bell UH-1H) Huey II alone. So far they’ve got about 700 hours on the aircraft and they’ve only really been flying them since the end of February, first of March,” said Bartlett.

Along with keeping a watchful eye over the power lines, the IAF has also moved Soldiers and dignitaries and visitors across the country.

“They are also moving passengers. They’ve moved about 500 passengers so far this year,” said Bartlett.

Sati and other officers of his command commemorated their victory with their American partners with a static display of their aircraft and then a dinner later that night. The IAF pilots and crewmembers set up three helicopters in a hangar and answered any questions the Americans had about them. U.S. pilots crawled in and out of the IAF helicopters with an Iraqi aviator close by to answer any questions as well as talk about their common bond of flying.

Afterwards, the mix of Iraqi and U.S. aviators went to the U.S. side of the Forward Operating Base and had a time of fellowship while dining and then smoked a few cigars.

(By Spc. Nathan Hoskins 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Analysis: Fewer casualties may portend surge's success

While using casualty figures as a benchmark for the success of combat operations is fraught with risk, this former spook shows that recent trends are certaintly headed in the right direction. The risk of using casualty rates exists because, with casualty rates this low, a short period of high combat casualties can skew the numbers. A small change in a small number can make a big difference.

There are approximately 160,000 US troops in Iraq. With an August KIA total of less than 100, we are looking at one of the lowest casualty rates ever measured in the history of modern armed conflict. The combat casualty rates seen today rival the peacetime accidental death rate.

US Military BANS Defeatist Blogs

Thinkprogress is whining that readers cannot use US Government computer networks to view its terrorist propaganda outlet.  

Apparently, ban affects both civilian and military networks. I just spoke with a colleague of mine who works as a DA civilian. He can not access the site either, and made me promise to buy him a beer just for asking him to try.


Prosecution Rests in Holy Land Case

Counterterrorism Blog:

DALLAS— After six weeks of testimony, prosecutors finishing presenting evidence Thursday in the terror-support trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) and five of its top officials. Jurors heard testimony from 10 expert witnesses, saw hundreds of exhibits including videos and documents taken from HLF and their associates and heard secretly recorded conversations involving various defendants.

The defense spent Wednesday and Thursday cross examining FBI Agent Lara Burns, the government’s final witness. Defense attorney Nancy Hollander, who represents former HLF chief executive Shukri Abu Baker, repeatedly pointed to portions of exhibits Burns did not highlight in her testimony. For example, Burns had testified about HLF-funded zakat, or charity, committees earlier this week. Hollander pointed to a fax taken from her client’s home which illustrated the relationship between HLF and The Islamic Charitable Society of Hebron. The government describes the Hebron group as “part of the Hamas social infrastructure.” It also was featured in "Faith, Hate and Charity,” a 2006 documentary on Hamas-linked charities produced by the BBC program Panorama.

The fax described the celebratory opening in 1999 of a children’s library that was a joint project of the HLF and the Islamic Charitable Society. Baker delivered a speech over the phone. Hollander asked Agent Burns to read a line from that fax. Burns: “Under the auspices of Chairman Arafat who was represented by Ahmad Saeid Al-Tamimi…” Hollander stopped Burns and asked ‘Who was Arafat?” Burns said that he was the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority at that time, and agreed with Hollander that the Tamimi who represented him was Palestinian Authority official. By establishing the PA’s endorsement, Hollander seemed to be implying the charity wasn’t connected to Hamas.

By far, Counterterrorism Blog has provided the most in depth coverage of this case. The MSM has essentially ignored it, despite the impacts the case could have on whether "co-conspirators" might be charged in future cases. Of particular note in this case is that one of the unindicted co-conspirators is the Council on American and Islamic Relations, or CAIR.

Needless to say, they and other soft Jihad groups are watching this case carefully.

Petraeus: The Surge is Working! (GASP!)

How dare he say such a thing before reporting to Congress!

"We say we have achieved progress, and we are obviously going to do everything we can to build on that progress and we believe al Qaeda is off balance at the very least," General David Petraeus told the Australian in an interview after briefing Australia's defense minister, Brendan Nelson, in Baghdad.

You can expect a howl of protest from the anti-war left over these comments. Petraeus is not supposed to be talking to anyone but Congress, they will say. How dare this Bushie General give an interview to an Australian newspaper, a paper not firmly under the thumb of Soros and his merry band of moonbats?

Petraeus is, of course, telling the truth. But if you're a moonbat, it's not the truth that matters. Stretching, twisting and torturing the truth is Ok if it's done within the incremental strategy of ending the war, bringing the troops home in defeat and humiliation, and hanging the whole affair on President Bush.

Remember, losing the war is not the overarching objective of the anti-war Democrats. They don't want to win in Iraq, because they want to win next November.

UPDATE: At 13:30, ThinkProgress calls Petraeus a liar in a venom-filled diatribe. I will do no linkage so that your innerwebs stay clean and healthy.

Web Reconnaissance for 08/31/2007

The "Happy Friday" edition of Thunder Run's daily reconnaissance.

What's cool, what's hot, what's interesting.


Culminating Point

In his seminal book, On War, Prussian military strategist Carl von Clausewitz refers to a point in any military campaign at which the outcome becomes known and inevitable. In medieval times, it typically happened when one side or the other, under flag of truce, asked permission to collect the bodies of its dead. In the Napoleanic Wars, it came when the English or Russian armies found the knapsacks (in which they carried everything needed to sustain the fight) abandoned by the rapidly retreating French troops. The time at which the outcome is decided is when the truce is agreed upon. That is different from the point at which the victor realizes that the battle is done and the day is his.

Counterinsurgency, while still at least partially a warfighter's task, does not have the characteristics of large, conventional military campaigns. Al Qaeda is not likely to ride up under a white flag of parlay and ask permission to collect their dead. There will still be a Clausewitzian "culminating point," and signs are that the point is nearing. In COIN, that point will come somewhere between an apex of offensive operations aimed at securing the populace from the insurgency and the turning over of security to indigenous forces. From a military strategy standpoint, the culminating point of victory comes when the enemy realizes that his own culminating point of victory will be denied to him. It comes at the point at which he realizes that he cannot win; that he can not achieve his objectives by force of arms.

How will the enemy learn that his culminating point will be denied him? When the populace determines that his is not the righteous cause and shifts almost wholly to the counterinsurgency. Some of those promising signs are showing up in Iraq, now. Consider:

These are just three of the recent developments in the ongoing counterinsurgency in Iraq. In each of these stories, groups of people who had been either fighting with or were subjugated by the real threat in Iraq--Al Qaeda--have turned against the islamists and are now pointing their weapons at the Iraqi affiliate of Osama bin Laden's loosely organized terrorist group. Earlier this year, bloggers and some media outlets began reporting on what was called the "Anbar Awakening," which saw tribal leaders in the Sunni-dominated Anbar province join forces against Al Qaeda. Groups that were shooting at coalition forces on a daily basis began allying themselves with the U.S. led coalition after getting fed up with Al Qaeda's hard line, fundamentalist approach.

Early on in the post-Saddam era, the coalition erred in ignoring and attempting to marginalize the tribal influence in Iraq. It alienated the tribal leaders, and that led some to join forces with the enemy of their perceived enemy. Al Qaeda, however, committed a much graver mistake than mere alienation. They tried to disrupt and reorganize centuries old cultural mores into their brand of radical islamic law. Tribal sheikhs, who even under Saddam wielded considerable influence over local and provincial affairs, found themselves subjected to brutal repression and decided that they'd had enough. When coalition forces rescued a popular and powerful Sunni sheikh and restored him to his tribal region, the tide turned. Al Anbar province is now void of Al Qaeda influence. The populace in Al Anbar, within a matter of weeks, realized that Al Qaeda's islamic fundamentalism was not the righteous cause. The coalition, who finally understood how Arabs function as a society, won the day. The culminating point of victory came when groups like the 1920's Revolutionary Brigade stood shoulder to shoulder with U.S. combat forces, and slew Al Qaeda fighters by the dozens. Sunni and Americans fought together, died together, and denined the enemy his own culmination point.

It is still too early to tell if the culmination point is imminently upon the theater. However, given the fact that the average insurgency lasts between seven and eight years, and given the fact that we have only been fighting this as a COIN operation for about a year and a half, such promising trends like the Anbar Awakening and the developments reported above hold great promise. As the enemy's grip on the populace loosens, the fear of retribution is lessened. As that fear fades, ordinary Iraqis will be emboldened to provide an ever increasing flow of intelligence. Those who are out of place will be pointed out. Roadside IED locations will be reported. Caches of explosives and weapons will be revealed. The process, if it plays out as others before it, will grow somewhat slowly in size and intensity. And then quite suddenly, a "tipping point," a Clauswitzian culmination, will come.

Watch for it. It will be a historic moment.

Marines send 12 to Allah

Multi-National Force - Iraq

August 31, 2007

Marines kill 12 AQI near Karmah
Multi-National Force-West

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – Marines from Regimental Combat Team 6 observed and engaged an armed group of al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists killing 12 and destroying two vehicles near the town of Karmah Aug. 29.

A group of three men was seen loading objects into a bongo truck from a nearby growth of weeds 11 kilometers northeast of Fallujah, in an area known to be a historical weapons cache site. A second group of four men arrived in another bongo truck, followed by a third group of six men on foot through the reeds.

A team of Marines was dispatched to better observe the scene and a third cargo truck carrying three men waving weapons and wearing ski masks approached the group a few moments later.

The Marines called for air support and a section of AV-8B Harrier jets dropped two precision-guided bombs, destroying the initial two cargo trucks. Marines called for artillery fire on the dismounted enemy personnel immediately following the air attack.

Twelve members of al Qaeda were found dead upon investigation of the scene. Numerous weapons and roadside bomb making materials were also found.

All unexploded ordnance was removed from the scene and transported to a Coalition base for investigation and disposal.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Global War on Terror Reconstruction Report

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Regional Division, has released its Global War Reconstruction Report, and no doubt some of the report's contents will be part of the meta-report the Administration will present to the Congress on September 15.

The report documents impressive progress.

The Basra Children's Hospital, a project that had fallen woefully behind schedule late last year, is now about two-third's complete and is now ahead of schedule.

Completed GRD petroleum infrastructure projects have met goals of increasing crude oil production capacity to 3.0 million barrels per day, liquefied petroleum gas production capacity to 3,000 metric tons per day, and natural gas production capacity to 800 Standard Cubic Feet per day.

The Nasiriyah Water Supply Project is essentially complete (99%) and when it goes online, will begin serving approximately 555,000 people with sanitary potable water supply. For many of these people, it will be the first time they've ever had running water.

Excellent progress is reported in Afghanistan as well, with water supply, transportation and healthcare projects either reported to be coming on line or nearing completion.

The GWOT Reconstruction report is brief and informative.

You can get a PDF version here.

Essayons, Y'all.

A Pathetic Preemptive Strike

Bill Kristol takes Congress and the Washington Post to task for their white flagging. In today's edition, the Wa Po cites a "leaked" draft report from the GAO and calls the conclusions "strikingly negative."


And what are the benchmarks that Congress set up? Do they include criteria that matter? No. Grassroots political progress? Not in the GAO report. The turn of the Sunnis against the insurgency? Not in the GAO report. The stabilization of Anbar province? Not in the GAO report. And progress against al Qaeda--the single most vital and direct American national interest in Iraq? Not in the GAO report.

The benchmarks they do use are often absurd. To take one example: "Increasing the number of Iraqi security forces units capable of operating independently." This is particularly silly. No one expected that Iraqi military units would surpass the capabilities of our NATO allies, most of which are also unable to operate fully "independently" of the American military.

Congress brings this report with dirty hands. It controls GAO and only the Congress can direct studies such as the one prepared by the office on Iraq. Like any good trial lawyer, Congress controlled the witness' testimony by carefully controlling the question. GAO is only doing what Congress directed it to do, and by asking loaded questions (such as whether arbitrary benchmarks have been "met"), Congress directed GAO to waste money, time and precious attention.

Obligatory link back to Hurricane Katrina and it's victims: Why is Katrina "victim" Jefferson still in office?

Mark your Calendars: September 10 & 12, 2007

According to wire reports out now, the White House has set the dates for
the congressional testimony of General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan
Crocker. The dates, according to White House spokescritters, are
September 10 and September 12, 2007.

Not that we don't know exactly what these two gentlemen will say: "We're
kicking ass, we're taking names, we're making more progress now than ever
before. However, there is still much work to be done and we respectfully
ask that you stop playing politics with our troops and let us do our
fucking jobs. Thanks for letting us testify today."

UPDATE to spell "thanks" right.  :D

Basra Reports "fabrication at best," says General

More Big Picturing from Protein Wisdom, reporting on Hugh Hewitt's interview with LTG James Simmons, Deputy CG, MNF-Iraq:

JS: [Those reports] are not accurate, and that is a fabrication at best. This was a planned turnover of the Palace and the PJCC to Iraqi control, to the Iraqi legitimate government forces. It was done to standard with, and to well-trained, well-equipped Iraqi Security Forces. There were some peaceful demonstrations that were celebratory in nature, but at no time was any Coalition forces threatened, and the local Iraqi officials under General Mohan, kept a good handle on the situation in Basra.

HH: So what is the situation then in Basra, because that Washington Post story made it sound like the Wild West without the saloons.

JS: It was a demonstration of OMS, or Shia people there that were celebrating, to the best of my knowledge, the return of an Iraqi landmark to the Iraqi government.

Web Reconnaissance for 08/30/2007

Thunder Run's Daily Run Down of the best of the web.

Thunder Run Web Recon, 8/30/07

Yes, still a daily must read!

Coalition Generals: "We're Kicking Ass, Taking Names"

BAGHDAD — Two Coalition representatives held a press conference at the Combined PressInformation Center Wednesday.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik, commanding general, Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq and U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner, Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman talked about recent events in Iraq and the road ahead.

Bergner opened the conference with an update on several Iranian citizens detained near the Abu Nuwas market in Baghdad Tuesday. They were observed possessing weapons and none had authorization to be armed.

“Those individuals were released early this morning after the Coalition had an opportunity to determine the circumstances that were taking place,” Bergner said.

Bergner also mentioned progress around Iraq. Operations in Tarmiyah resulted in the death of Abu Ibrahim, an al-Qaeda in Iraq leader who oversaw terrorists’ operations in the northern belts of Baghdad. He died after he grabbed a Coalition Soldier and attempted to detonate a suicide vest. Bergner said Ibrahim was an al-Qaeda emir for Tarmiyah who coordinated VBIED attacks in Baghdad and also led al-Qaeda in Iraq operations in the Taji area.

“He kidnapped and murdered Iraqis including a nine-year-old girl to intimidate local citizens,” Bergner said, noting that Ibrahim’s group is likely responsible for the April 12th bombing of the Sarafiya bridge in Baghdad.

“This operation is just another example of the importance of operating simultaneously against the networks in Baghdad and the belts outside the city where terrorists like this are positioning themselves,” Bergner said.

Bergner introduced Dubik, noting his achievements as commander for I-Corps and the 25th Infantry Division. Dubik took command of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq in June, where he oversees the Coalition's assistance to the Iraqi government in developing, organizing, training, equipping, and substantiating Iraqi Security Forces.

“There is no one better prepared to assist the Iraqi security forces to transform, to grow in capacity, and to continuously adapt to the new realities here on the ground,” Bergner said.

Dubik said his role in the war effort focuses less on fighting forces and more on “ministerial capacity.”

“That is the ability to raise, to equip, to train and sustain, to provide bases and to provide adequate funding for the security forces over the long term,” Dubik said.

Dubik said there has been progress and challenges on this front. From 2005 to 2006, the ministries of defense and interior spent more than $2.5 billion more on defense of Iraq than the year before. There was another $2 billion increase in 2006. The ministries continue to deal with many challenges, but Dubik said they, along with Coalition forces, will keep pushing on.

“These are all very hard problems. No doubt about it,” he said. “But as my boss had said sometime ago, ‘hard doesn't make it hopeless it just makes it hard.’”

(Story by U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew McLaughlin, Combined Press Information Center)

Two Tango Leaders Greased, Dozens Surrender

I honestly love starting the day with these stories.

Two terrorists killed, 29 suspects detained; Coalition disrupts al-Qaeda ops

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition Forces killed two terrorists, including a terrorist leader, and captured two other suspected terrorist leaders during raids Thursday targeting the al-Qaeda in Iraq operations network.

During an operation south of Tarmiyah, Coalition Forces killed the military emir of Tarmiyah, who was responsible for directing attacks against Coalition Forces and Iraqi civilians in the area. When the ground forces moved toward the target building, they observed an armed man in a neighboring house maneuvering into position to engage the assault force. Responding in defense against the hostile threat, Coalition Forces engaged the man, killing him. Another armed man moved to the roof of the target building, where Coalition Forces responded to the hostile threat by engaging and killing him. The terrorist on the roof was determined to be the terrorist emir targeted in the operation. The ground forces detained 11 individuals with suspected ties to the al-Qaeda in Iraq network.

Operations in Baqubah and Mosul targeted al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders to disrupt their attack networks. Coalition Forces captured an individual in Baqubah who is believed to conduct operations to incite sectarian violence, provide weapons to al-Qaeda in Iraq and attack Coalition Forces. The ground forces detained nine additional suspects for their ties to the terrorist network. In Mosul, Coalition Forces captured an alleged al-Qaeda in Iraq leader who recently fled to the northern city and is believed to provide financial support to al-Qaeda in Iraq, facilitate the movement of foreign terrorists and control terrorist operations in an area south of the Baghdad airport. Coalition Forces detained seven of his suspected associates as well.

“We will continue to dismantle the terrorist networks that threaten the security of Iraq,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, MNF-I spokesperson. “The people of Iraq continue to demonstrate their desire to build a secure future, without the influence of al-Qaeda in Iraq.”

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sadr calls for Mahdi Army ceasefire

Bill Roggio's Fourth Rail has an excellent post on Moqtada al-Sadr and the
news of his suspension of violence. Roggio not only gives the news the
right way, he also lays out a very good snapshot of the various groups
that make up his Mahdi Army.

Mahdi Army at Fourth Rail

Government Lays Out Financial Connections in HLF Case

More of Counterterrorism Blog's excellent coverage of the trial in Dallas:

Dallas—FBI agent Lara Burns remained on the stand Tuesday as the government continued to detail the ties between Holy Land Foundation (HLF) officials and charity committees they funded. Prosecutors must prove that the defendants knew the millions of dollars they funneled from the HLF to the Middle East was really going to Hamas.

During the last two days exhibits outlining both financial and ideological ties between HLF directors and their beneficiaries overseas were entered. The prosecution highlighted the fact that many transactions came well after both January 1995, when President Clinton issued an Executive Order formally naming Hamas as a terrorist organization (making it a criminal act to assist Hamas in any capacity) and its 1997 designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).

Counterterrorism Blog

A Thorough Indictment

How would you like to see a comprehensive convincingly well documented analysis of how poorly the mainstream media has done its job on coverage in Iraq?

Protein Wisdom has just such a post here.

I counted 152 links embedded in the post. Not all of them link to examples of media bias or shoddy journalism, as quite a few of them show how bloggers and conservative media outlets have largely either gotten it right or took on the task of correcting MSM gaffes.

I'm bookmarking the post--it is a one-stop library of source material to back up allegations of journalistic failure.

Answering ANSWER

Michelle Malkin has a great post on her blog about the upcoming anti-protest scheduled by Gathering of Eagles.

As retired Army Col. Harry Riley explains, “Unlike the 60s and 70s, the anti-war lemmings will not have the streets or the political stage to themselves. This time, Eagle Americans — we who support our troops, understand the stakes in the War on Terror and the true nature of our enemy, who aren’t blinded by an insane hatred of our way of life and our form of government — will also be in Washington, D.C., to show Congress that we will not tolerate another betrayal of our own forces or our allies…While the anti-democracy forces are well-funded by pro-left, anti-Americans, we Eagles have steadily been building our own coalition to stop ANSWER in its tracks, and keep Congress focused on winning the war, not their political ambitions.”

Gathering of Eagles is a non-partisan, non-violent, non-confrontational group, whose focus is on guarding national memorials and their grounds. They believe those memorials are sacred ground and should not be used as props for political statements or treated with solemn respect.

Recent anti-war protests have been staged on or near these national treasures, and GOE seeks only to defend their sacred honor.

Support GOE by joining, donating, blogging.

Web Reconnaissance for 08/29/2007

Today's installment of Thunder Run's Web Reconnaissance.

Daily must read!



Anatomy of a Tribal Revolt

Amid all the talk swirling about the "bottom-up" reconciliation phenomemon comes this post from the Small Wars Journal Blog, Dave Kilcullen:

To understand what follows, you need to realize that Iraqi tribes are not somehow separate, out in the desert, or remote: rather, they are powerful interest groups that permeate Iraqi society. More than 85% of Iraqis claim some form of tribal affiliation; tribal identity is a parallel, informal but powerful sphere of influence in the community. Iraqi tribal leaders represent a competing power center, and the tribes themselves are a parallel hierarchy that overlaps with formal government structures and political allegiances. Most Iraqis wear their tribal selves beside other strands of identity (religious, ethnic, regional, socio-economic) that interact in complex ways, rendering meaningless the facile division into Sunni, Shi’a and Kurdish groups that distant observers sometimes perceive. The reality of Iraqi national character is much more complex than that, and tribal identity plays an extremely important part in it, even for urbanized Iraqis. Thus the tribal revolt is not some remote riot on a reservation: it’s a major social movement that could significantly influence most Iraqis where they live.

Kilcullen's post is a long one, but a worthwhile read nonetheless. It is noteworthy because it addresses some of the issues many observers have identified in questioning the conduct of counterinsurgency in a Muslim country.

The tribal culture among Arabs is older than Islam and while it doesn't necessarily transcend religion, it certainly runs parallel with it. Insulting an Iraqi's faith is likely to get you killed. Insulting an Iraqi's tribe or family carries an identical risk. There are deep sectarian and political divisions in Iraq, but tribal ties may--emphasis on may--be used to overcome the political division enough to mitigate the sectarian differences. Indeed, there are many tribal entities in Iraq that have both Sunni and Shi'a branches. It is a delicate and paradoxical matter that underscores the nature of counterinsurgency, which itself is governed more by paradox than absolute.

David Kilcullen, Ph.D., is a retired Australian Army Lieutenant Colonel. He now holds a Senior Executive Service (SES) position at the U.S. State Department and serves as Senior Counterinsurgency Adviser, MNF-Iraq. It is a civil service position and part of General David Petraeus' staff.

His occasional posts on SWJ Blog are worth waiting for.

National Police welcomes newest NCOs

Multi-National Force - Iraq:

Wednesday, 29 August 2007
By Pfc. Nathaniel Smith
4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs

BAGHDAD — In the U.S. Army, the Non-Commissioned Officer corps is known as the “Backbone of the Army.” While the Iraqi Security Forces are forging their way ahead, the National Police strengthened their own corps by recently welcoming a group of new NCOs to their ranks.

A class from the 7th Brigade, 2nd Iraqi National Police Division, graduated from the newly developed Warrior Leader’s Course in a ceremony at Joint Security Station Doura in southern Baghdad.

Of 19 ‘shurta,’ the Arabic term for policeman, that started the course, 17 completed it successfully. Those that met the requirements were promoted to the rank of corporal at the end of the graduation ceremony.

Brig. Gen. Karim Abud, the commander of 7-2 NP, told his new NCOs they work for one thing: the citizens of Iraq.

“We are the police of lawful people,” he said. “We have to work by the law. We are not sectarian or party-affiliated.”

Karim continued by making it clear that generals like himself accomplish nothing without their troops on the ground.

“I cannot do my job without the soldiers,” he said. “I am nothing without the soldiers. Any commander with no soldiers can do nothing.”

Lt. Col. Edward Rowe, the deputy commander of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, from Gaithersburg, Md., advised the police to relish in their success but to remember what they work for.

“Enjoy this day; enjoy this recognition,” he said, “but remember: you must do your duty to Iraq, to your unit and to your commanders.”

Lt. Col. Michael Lonigro, the commander of the 7-2 NP Training Team from San Antonio, had more advice for the graduates.

“Your job is to do the right thing all the time, whether your (police) agree or not,” he said. “The right thing is to support the government of Iraq.”

Cpl. Wamir Jubr, one of the graduates of the course, felt the instruction he had received could help him do his job on the streets of Iraq.

“The challenge is to help on a day-to-day basis,” he said, “but I overcame this by getting more training here.”

Some of the training Jubr and his fellow NCOs received consisted of first-aid, weapons and maintenance, basic NCO development, and tactics, techniques and procedures.

Jubr felt he can do more to help his fellow policemen by instructing them on everything from first-aid to proper weapons maintenance.

“Going through all the training, I’m beginning to learn more and more,” he said. “I can pass that onto them.”

As anyone who has ever worn a uniform can attest, you can't have an effective fighting force withouth qualified, experienced NCO's. While the experience issue can only be dealt with over time, this story indicates that the ISF is developing well.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Only Clinton Could Solicit from China

Say it ain't so. Queen Hillary taking shady campaign contributions from shady Chinese businessmen using funny addresses?

Looks like it.

One of the biggest sources of political donations to Hillary Rodham Clinton is a tiny, lime-green bungalow that lies under the flight path from San Francisco International Airport.

Six members of the Paw family, each listing the house at 41 Shelbourne Ave. as their residence, have donated a combined $45,000 to the Democratic senator from New York since 2005, for her presidential campaign, her Senate re-election last year and her political action committee. In all, the six Paws have donated a total of $200,000 to Democratic candidates since 2005, election records show.

Ace has got this one, too.

Whereas Allah doesn't seem to think that any campaign finance laws have been broken, some folks at AOSHQ think so.

What strikes me as odd is that after the fiasco of the Buddhist Temple fundraisers, someone at the campaign should just know better. Shouldn't they?

John McCain: Senator, Patriot, Warrior

From a speech to the National Guard Association of the United States:

“We have new commanders in Iraq, and they are following a counterinsurgency strategy that I have advocated from the beginning of this war, which makes the most effective use of our strength and doesn’t strengthen the tactics of our enemy. This new battle plan is succeeding where our previous tactics failed. Although the outcome remains uncertain, we must give General Petraeus and the Americans he has the honor to command adequate time to salvage from the wreckage of our past mistakes a measure of stability for Iraq and the Middle East, and a more secure future for the American people. To concede defeat now would strengthen al Qaeda, empower Iran and other hostile powers in the Middle East, unleash a full scale civil war in Iraq that could quite possibly provoke genocide there, and destabilize the entire region as neighboring powers come to the aid of their favored factions. The consequences would threaten us for years, and I am certain would eventually draw us into a wider and more difficult war that would impose even greater sacrifices on us.


“I have many responsibilities to the American people, and I try to take them all seriously. But I have one responsibility that outweighs all the others – and that is to use whatever meager talents I possess, and every resource God has granted me to protect the security of this great and good nation from all enemies foreign and domestic. And that I intend to do, even if I must stand athwart popular opinion. I will attempt to convince as many of my countrymen as I can that we must show even greater patience, though our patience is nearly exhausted so we can defeat our enemies. That is how I construe my responsibility to my country. That is how I construed it yesterday. It is how I construe it today. It is how I will construe it tomorrow. I do not know how I could choose any other course.

Read the entire speech here. While Mr. McCain has now almost no chance of winning the Republican nomination for President, this is the kind of resolute leadership we will need in the White House from January 2009 forward.

UPDATED to provide the link to the speech text.

Weapons, Weapons, our Brothers

Counterterrorism Blog's continuing coverage of the Holy Land Foundation's trial in Dallas, Texas.

One document, seized from the home of unindicted co-conspirator Ismail Elbarrase was dated August 1992 and handwritten in Arabic. The missive came from the Islamic Relief Committee, a recipient of HLF funds and described by the U.S. government as “part of the HAMAS social infrastructure in Israel and the Palestinian territories.” The document discussed, among other things, meetings that took place in June and July of that year; the suggestion of a consultative committee and “Activities of the Intifada:”

You do not know how happy people become when they watch those Mujahideen and how proud they feel when they parade in their uniforms and weapons and the extent of their honor when they carry out their Jihadist operations against the Jews and their tentacles. It is a feeling that no taste or enjoy its flavor except the ones who live it. Jihad in Palestine is different from any Jihad; the meaning of killing a Jew for the liberation of Palestine cannot be compared to any Jihad on earth. This is the meaning that I came out with from there…about your brothers over there in our beloved Strip. They live now in permanent alert and cry out to you with their loudest voice: ‘Be with us and live with us. Do not rest, and do not twinkle until you care about us and provide us with what helps us of funds and weapons. Weapons, weapons, our brothers.

Dawn Patrol

Mudville Gazette's daily roundup of news and commentary on the Global War on Terror.

Along with Thunder Run's Web Reconnaissance, a daily must read.

Khalis Waterway Opened, 33 Jihadists Meet Allah

33 insurgents killed, Khalis waterway open
Multi-National Division – North PAO

DIYALA, Iraq – 5th Iraqi Army Division partnered with Coalition Forces conducted an air assault into the town of Gobia to restore essential services to Khalis, Aug. 27.

The pre-dawn assault, involving several hundred Iraqi and Coalition Forces, defeated numerous small-arms attacks throughout the day resulting in a combined 13 insurgents killed.

CF attack helicopters and close air support supported the ground forces, killing 20 more.

The objective of the mission was to open the spillway, which regulates water flow to the town of Khalis, restoring the essential service of water.

The action by the IA and CF termed “Operation Church” also netted three caches containing 150 lbs of home-made explosives, two 130mm rounds, a ZU-23 with 2,000 rounds, a rocket-propelled grenade with eight rounds, a PKC, and seven AK-47s.

Three detainees were captured at one of the cache sites and water is currently flowing unimpeded to Khalis.

JihadWatch and the Iraq Conflict

Jihad Watch's Hugh Fitzgerald writes:

Finally, along with the sectarian (Sunni-Shi'a) division inside and outside Iraq, there are possible further unsettlements and sectarian strife in Pakistan, in Saudi Arabia (the oil-bearing Eastern Province), in Lebanon, in Bahrain, even in Yemen. Instead of being welcomed -- since when does one attempt to prevent division and demoralization in the camp of one's enemies? -- these are actively being deplored, in warnings from the Great and Good, that an American withdrawal will bring, could bring, might bring, that deplorable thing called "chaos" to the Middle East. Nonsense. Not "chaos" -- not with those kinds of despotisms willing to use their kind of force with their kind of secret police. Not chaos, really, but perhaps a using up of men, money, and materiel, and attention -- but this time they would all bear the initial adjective "Muslim" rather than "American," and that is a highly desirable change.

This is an interesting perspective. And one with which I respectfuly disagree. is one of my favorite sites. A widget over on the right displays the site's feed here and I am a regular reader (and listener, when I can be) of Spencer and Fitzgerald. For a pair of infidels, they have a keen grasp of Islam and the threat the theocratic adherents pose to freedom.

I think they miss the point on Iraq. Or, I think Fitzgerald does with this post.

Osama bin Laden and his right hand boy Zawahiri have declared that the central battlefront on Islam's War against America is Iraq. Their schpiel is that Muslims suffer so greatly because of their fraternization with the west. We are corrupting them and turning them away from Allah.

It is only when Muslims completely reject western ideals of "imperialist" democracy and "exploitative" capitalism and throw the decadent infidels out of Muslim lands that the faithful can prosper and flourish, we are told.

Having infidel Americans work side by side with Sunni and Shi'a Muslims to defeat other Muslims, and install a thriving, productive Iraqi democracy would be a complete repudiation of everything radical Islam stands for.

Make no mistake about this: Al Qaeda is having its head handed to it in Iraq. As in Afghanistan, the radicals completely underestimated the military capabilities of the United States. But more importantly, Al Qaeda also completely underestimated the desire of ordinary Iraqis to simply live in the peace and freedom of conscience that millenia of social evolution have instilled in all of us.

As I write this, Muslims are fighting side by side with Americans, driving other Muslims out of the historic and cultural center of ancient Islam. For Al Qaeda, it is an unmitigated disaster to see their forces beaten like squalling pigs by other Muslims, fighting in sworn alliance with the forces "Great Satan." As bad as that is for them, it will be even worse when the nation that emerges from the conflict begins to thrive economically, politically and culturally.

The stated goals of Operation Iraqi Freedom are not as farfetched as Fitzgerald believes they are. They are extraordinary difficult to achieve however, and I am not convinced that Mr. Bush will see much of them met by the time he leaves office. But at least one goal--showing the Muslim world that everything Al Qaeda stands for is a lie--is worth pursuing until accomplished.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Turkish Military Issues Stern Warning

According to the Associated Press:

Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, Chief of General Staff for the politically potent Turkish military, published a statement  on the military's Web site, sternly warning that "our nation has been watching the behavior of those separatists who cannot embrace Turkey's unitary nature, and the behavior of 'centers of evil' who systematically try to corrode the secular nature of the Turkish Republic."

"Nefarious plans to ruin Turkey's secular and democratic nature emerge in different forms everyday.  The military will, just as it hasthrough history, keep its determination to guard social, democratic and secular Turkey."

This is no idle threat. The Turkish Armed Forces are granted special status by that nation's Constitution, and it views itself as the steadfast guardian of Kemalism, the ideology embraced by Mohammed Kemal Ataturk.

The military has staged coups in 1960, 1971, 1980 and most recently, 1997. Each time the military has returned the reins of political power to civilian authorities after a brief period of control by military junta. The 1960 coup was staged by junior grade officers. The 1971 coup was staged after the military learned of an impending leftist coup attempt. The 1980 coup took place after the military had established Martial Law in 1978. Each time, the military invoked the Kemalist tradition of secularism and state unity, proclaiming themselves the defenders against communism, fascism, sectarianism and religious fanaticism.

In 1997, just the sight of tanks in the streets was enough to cause the government to step down. However, it remains to be seen if Islamists will be so meek in the face of the military.

The current Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, is in a bid to become President of the Republic. The military has accused Gul of being too closely tied to Islamist factions, foreign and domestic. Gul is expected to win the office. The military will watch his actions closely, and if there is even the slightest indication that the civilian authorities will institute islamic principles, the military will intervene in the fifth putsch of the post WWII era.

Still Invested in Failure

SWJ's Dave Dillege writing in The Washington Times

The media's coverage of two recent events — the release of the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq and Sen. John Warner's call for a symbolic reduction of troops by Christmas — serves to illustrate the perverse symbiosis between defeatist politicians and a news media that is heavily invested in an American failure in Iraq. Read carefully, the updated NIE provides some ammunition for both supporters and opponents of the war, presenting dour predictions about the level of violence in Iraq and the ability of the Iraqi government to achieve national-level political reconciliation, but also pointing out that "measurable" security improvements have been made in Iraq since January and will expand modestly in the next 12 months with continued pressure on the insurgents.

Dillege is spot on, of course. A freshman journalism student conducting his first textual analysis can find numerous examples of this investment in any of the day's "straight" news stories.

For example, in a "straight" news story today from Agence France Presse:

The dissident views now being expressed by prominent Republican figures like Warner have piled pressure on the Bush administration for a change of course in Iraq as the mid-September report looms.

Recall that earlier this summer, the lock-step dailies were remarking on the coming "Republican Revolt" over Mr. Bush's intransigence over policy in Iraq. A parade of Republicans were supposed to be bolting from the President and joining the anti-war Democrats.

Is this the Revolt they were predicting? If the "pressure" on Mr. Bush consists of rhetoric from a retiring Senator, a newly elected Phrench President and two partisan Democrats, then the revolutionaries seem to have surrendered without shooting much of a wad.

Attacks Down, Economic Development Up in Iraq

— Recent strides in Iraq’s economic development, including the reopening of a flour mill last week, are occurring as Iraqi and Coalition forces disrupt al-Qaeda and other terrorist elements, a senior military spokesman in Iraq said Sunday.

“Local production of flour in a previously dormant mill is a small but meaningful step in Baqubah that demonstrates that as al-Qaeda in Iraq is driven out, economic growth emerges,” U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Mark I. Fox, deputy spokesman for Multi-National Force-Iraq, said at a news conference Sunday.

The flour mill in Baqubah, closed for nearly a year, is capable of producing 200 tons of finished flour per day and will employ about 100 mill workers and several truck drivers. The reopening of the mill was the result of a collaborative partnership between the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and Diyala provincial leadership, Fox said.

“As we focus on pressuring al-Qaeda, we gain tactical momentum and economic developments and reconstruction are now possible,” Fox added. “As al-Qaeda is driven out, normal activities like banking and commerce flourish.”

Disrupting al-Qaeda while trying to develop an economy and a democracy takes a dose of diplomacy.

On the diplomatic front, the State Department’s Provincial Reconstruction Teams, interagency expeditionary teams designed to develop stable economic and political environments at the provincial level, are also making meaningful strides, according to the State Department’s counselor for public affairs, another featured speaker at today’s news conference.

“The role of the Provincial Reconstructions Teams is to help provincial governments develop a transparent and sustained capability not only to govern, but to increase security, rule of law, promote political and economic development, and provide the administration necessary to meet the basic needs of the local population,” said Philip Reeker.

There are now 29 Provincial Reconstruction Teams at work throughout Iraq’s 18 provinces. A conference that begins tomorrow in Baghdad will gather provincial governors from the four northern provinces, Reeker added.

“A great example of the progress we’re making is the conference of northern province governors. It is an opportunity for delegations to share issues that affect the four northern provinces and discuss solutions,” Reeker said.

Turning to operations, Fox told the Baghdad press corps that joint operations between Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces have doubled compared to this time last year. He added the total number of attacks against civilians and security forces are at the lowest level since August 2006.

“Although we have made progress, we know we face a tough fight against an enemy that is willing to indiscriminately kill innocent men, women and children,” Fox said. “We will continue to work closely with the government of Iraq and Iraqi Security Forces to pursue the enemy and build on our tactical momentum.”

OO-RAH! HOO AH! It's all good...

The Tank on National Review Online:

A whiny jarhead belly aches over how the United States Army has seemingly co-opted the Marines' "OO-Rah!" utterance and butchered it into "Hoo Ah!"

Don't these damned jarheads have some Halls of Montezuma or Shores of Tripoli to invade? Gahh.

Web Reconnaissance for 08/27/2007

The Thunder Run

Monday morning edition of the blogosphere's most comprehensive roundup of news and commentary.


Burning Another Beauchamp

At Confederate Yankee, a lively and fascinating discussion is taking place over an accusation of conservative media dishonesty by Harper's Scott Horton. Horton accuses a prominent conservative commentator of creating "pure fabrications," and cites as evidence his direct experience at the location in question:

I have no idea whether Beauchamp's story was accurate. But at this point I have seen enough of the Neocon corner's war fables to immediately discount anything that emerges from it. One example: back last spring, when I was living in Baghdad, on Haifa Street, I sat in the evening reading a report by one of the core Neocon pack. He was reporting from Baghdad, and recounted a day he had spent out on a patrol with U.S. troops on Haifa Street. He described a peaceful, pleasant, upscale community. Children were out playing on the street. Men and women were out going about their daily business. Well, in fact I had been forced to spend the day "in the submarine," as they say, missing appointments I had in town. Why? This bucolic, marvelous Haifa Street that he described had erupted in gun battles the entire day. In the view of my security guards, with which I readily concurred, it was too unsafe. And yes, I could hear the gunfire and watch some of the exchanges from my position. No American patrol had passed by and there were certainly no children playing in the street. This was the point when I realized that many of these accounts were pure fabrications.

CY denizens respond by demonstrating that Horton was probably not in the area at the time the alleged "fabrication" was written. There is a good chance that the piece Horton refers to is either this NYSun Op/Ed by Fred Kagen:

It is true that the overall level of violence in Iraq remains high, and American soldiers are still dying. Scores of terrorists flow into Iraq every month, detonating suicide car bombs against civilians, Iraqi security forces and American troops. This is the core of the security problem faced by our troops and by innocent Iraqis.

But looking at these casualty numbers alone distorts reality. Security is improving across Baghdad, even in traditionally bad areas. In early May, I walked and drove through these neighborhoods. Haifa St., scene of day-long gunfights between Al Qaeda terrorists and coalition forces in January, is calm and starting to revive. Its market is open and flourishing.

Or, it could be this Weekly Standard Op/Ed by feared and hated William Kristol:

"We went through two of the worst Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad... heavily infested with al Qaeda and other terrorists who terrorize the population and drive them to support or at least tolerate attacks against us. But the kids on the streets--and there were many--waved, smiled, asked for candy. The locals give us tips and ask us to get the terrorists out of the area and, above all, to protect them. We walked through a market off of Haifa Street--remember, the site of that long-running gun-battle back in January that made so much news? The market was thriving, flourishing, the local U.S. commander knew everyone and everyone knew him. The kids thronged around us, laughing, asking for candy... .

Both of these items describe conditions as seen by the scribe in May of this year. However, there is no evidence at all that Horton was even in Iraq in May, 2007. In fact, Horton has apparently not been in Iraq since Spring 2006.

Meanwhile, kat-missouri of Middleground painstakingly documents how Haifa Street has been in a state of flux almost since the beginning of the insurgency, with the most recent reports indicating that Kagen and Kristol's accounts were accurate. Given their professional relationship and Kristol stating that he was relating the observations of a friend, the two accounts could be of the same events.

We have no journalistic accounts of Haifa Street by Horton in 2007.

What fascinates me about CY's discussion is that Bob originally started out with an intellectually honest question about whether a conservative writer was "Beauchamping" his story. Instead, it appears the worm has turned and it is the liberal who gets burned for dishonesty.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Assault of Moonbattery...

Hot Air-HuffPo genius to Peter Pace: Arrest this man and relieve him of command:

"Like Fisk’s embrace of Trutherism in the course of denying he’s embracing Trutherism, this turd’s found a rich vein of “nuance” in calling for a partial military coup. Bush would continue to execute his civilian domestic duties, he assures us; it’s just that he’d presumably have to do so from a brig, after he’s been court-martialed and imprisoned. An advanced case of BDS here, to be sure, but they’ve been known to happen."

This is a perfect example of the HuffPo, Moveon and Daily Kos mentality.  If these are the kinds of people pulling the strings on the left, then a GOP victory next November is a slam dunk.

You just can't make this stuff up.  You just can't.

British Soldiers Withdraw From Basra Command Center

Brits Bail, Mahdi Jihadis take over

In typical AP fashion, the story doesn't touch on the fact that the Brits have turned tail and run in Southern Iraq. Basra, Iraq's key oil terminal in the Persian Gulf, is Iraq's second largest city and a key strategic location.

I wonder if the Brits have been infiltrated by the Phrench...

Badgers Forward: New Glass

Badgers Forward: New Glass

Badger 6--an Army Engineer currently stationed in Anbar Province--blogs on a recent "road trip" from Ramadi to Fallujah. These two places used to be among the most dangerous in Iraq. Badger 6's observations are revealing.

Sometimes, progress is measured in ways that we take for granted.

Food for thought.

The Thunder Run: Web Reconnaissance 08/26/2007

The Thunder Run: Web Reconnaissance 08/26/2007

The undisputed best of the daily rundowns on the GWOT and other topics of interest.



If we don't quit, this will not only be a huge practical win - it'll be the information victory we've been aching for.

No matter what the Middle Eastern media might say, everyone in the Arab and greater Sunni Muslim world will know that al Qaeda was driven out of Iraq by a combination of Muslims and Americans.

Think that would help al Qaeda's recruitment efforts? Even now, the terrorists have to resort to lies about their prospective missions to gain recruits.

With the sixth anniversary of 9/11 approaching, how dare we throw away so great a potential victory over those who attacked our country?

Forget the anti-war nonsense you hear. The truth is that our troops want to continue this struggle. I know. I'm here. And I'm listening to what they have to say. They're confident as never before that we're on the right path.

Ralph Peters from Anbar Province, Iraq.

Multi-National Force - Iraq - Clearing operations in Samarra strike hard at insurgency

Sunday, 26 August 2007
By Sgt. Joshua R. Ford
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs

SAMARRA — Paratroopers from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, have been patrolling and operating in Samarra for more than one year and recently supported the Iraqi security forces in a clearing operation to rid the city of the al-Qaida presence terrorizing Samarra and its citizens.

The operation was dubbed “Operation Jalil” in honor of Col. Jalil Nahi Hasoun, Samarra’s former police chief, who was killed May 6, 2007, during a suicide car bomb attack.

The operation led Maj. Gen. Rashid al-Helfy, commander of Iraqi security forces in Samarra, his men, and paratroopers of Company C to the discovery of weapons caches, bomb making materials and the detainment of more than 80 suspected terrorists, including suspects responsible for the June 13, 2007, bombing of the Askirya Mosque.

The Askirya Mosque, also known as the Golden Dome Shrine, was first bombed Feb. 22, 2006, and sparked a wave of sectarian violence throughout the country. The explosion collapsed the dome.

The June 13 bombing destroyed the two remaining minarets flanking the golden dome of the mosque.

Since then, more than 2,500 Iraqi soldiers from the 4th Iraqi Army, and policemen from the 6th National Police Division, have been deployed to the city to create a stable security situation. Including Operation Jalil, Company C has detained more than 200 insurgents since the second mosque attack.

“When the Iraqi national police first arrived in Samarra, they received anything but a warm welcome,” said Capt. Buddy Ferris, commander, Company C. “The people of Samarra were very hesitant to receive the policemen.

“Now the citizens of Samarra are very receptive to the national police, and the paratroopers from Company C have seen this through the vast amount of information they receive everyday from the people in Samarra about terrorists operating in their neighborhoods,” he added.

“(The paratroopers) like to see that the Iraqis are taking the lead,” said Ferris. “We will continue to push forward the Iraqi security forces so they can provide a stable enough environment so we can start developing a legitimate government that functions and is tied in with the (Salah ad Din) province.”

The 150-paratrooper force is responsible for securing a city of more than 150,000. Two years ago the U.S. Army needed a whole brigade of more than 3,000 Soldiers to secure the city.

Since the paratroopers of Company C have been in Samarra, they have killed more than 50 terrorists and detained more than 300.

“The paratroopers of Company C have done an outstanding job in Samarra since they arrived in August 2006,” said Sgt. Tim Curry, team leader, Company C. “They always have a good attitude in wanting to help the citizens in the city.”

“(The paratroopers) have been holding the lid on the city of Samarra for a year. This company has been able to hold Samarra in one piece, so to say, and has actually been able to make progress and it speaks volumes,” said Ferris. “(The paratroopers) are tired; we are at month 13, but we know we’re making a difference.”

Riding with 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division (The Fourth Rail)

Wesley Morgan, embedded in Iraq.

For my last embed, I went back to the unit I’d visited with Gen. Petraeus: Col. Jon Lehr’s 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, based at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad. After waiting around at the landing zone for a couple of hours, the sergeant coordinating the flights finally barked out that the First Team Express –- the Black Hawk shuttle that circulates to the various Forward Operating Bases of the 1st Cavalry Division –- was arriving, and as a pair of birds descended onto the tarmac the other passengers and I filed out to board them.

Two soldiers, three female KBR workers, and I climbed into one helicopter, and a moment later came the familiar feeling of liftoff as the wheels left the ground. I had a good seat on this ride: the rear left one, which doesn’t have too much wind (in the rear right, for some reason, the rotorwash is so strong that it squashes your glasses back across your face and can easily take your helmet off if it’s not buckled) and from which you can see ahead along the flight path. I love night flights, and from this seat it was even better – all I could see out the door, all the way to the horizon, was the twinkling white lights of Baghdad, so beautiful and at odds with the scorching, chaotic reality down below, and the lines of little orange lights that marked the perimeters of US bases. One strange but comforting thing about Black Hawks is that when they’re blacked out and flying at night, you can hear the roar of their rotors, obviously, but you genuinely cannot see them from the ground; they appear suddenly out of complete blackness, making night flights basically safe from insurgent fire. Fifteen or 20 minutes later the birds landed at Taji.

Rest is here.