Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Bully Pulpit

From President Bush's Radio address today:

Next week, after consulting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, my national security team, Members of Congress from both parties, and Iraqi leaders, I will speak directly to the Nation about the recommendations General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker have presented to me. I will discuss the changes our strategy has brought to Iraq. I will lay out a vision for future involvement in Iraq -- one that I believe the American people and their elected leaders of both parties can support. By coming together on the way forward, we will strengthen Iraq's democracy, deal a blow to our enemies, secure interests in the Middle East, and make our Nation safer.

Give the man some credit. He who supposedly borrowed Karl Rove's brain has done it again. He has outmaneuvered the anti-war left, positioning them in what amounts to the path of an angry Fabulist's roaring Bradley.

Petraeus and Crocker will testify in events bookending 9/11 memorials. On Thursday, he speaks to the nation. On Friday, he delivers the much anticipated report mandated by the very doe-eyed Congress he's set to mow down.


Hunter UAV Makes History

Multi-National Force - Iraq:

TIKRIT, Iraq – A Hunter unmanned aerial vehicle engaged and killed two suspected improvised explosive device emplacers overwatching a major thoroughfare for Coalition Forces during a historic flight near Qayyarah, Iraq, in Nineveh province Sept. 1.

A scout weapons team from 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, observed the two unknown enemy fighters in a tactical overwatch near the roadside. The SWT requested support from the Hunter UAV.

The pilots guided the Hunter operator to the scene where it set up for a strike mission and dropped its precision munition, killing both unknown enemies and marking a first in Army Aviation history.

“It’s very humbling to know that we have set an Army historical mark in having the first successful launch in combat from an Army weaponized UAV,” said Capt. Raymond Fields, commander, Unmanned Aerial Surveillance Company. “This would not be possible without my Soldiers and civilians working hard day in and day out in Iraq to accomplish this feat.”

Fields continued, “I think that this success will set the tone for Army Aviation in years to come. We will see more weaponized Army unmanned vehicles being used instead of manned platforms to save not only our aviator brethren but our Army ground brethren from enemy contact.”

“This accomplishment adds a precise and discriminate means for our Army to successfully engage the enemy in counterinsurgency warfare,” said Col. A.T. Ball, commander, 25th CAB.

Engineers provide clean water to 500,000 residents

Multi-National Force - Iraq:

Mohammed Aliwi, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region South

BAGHDAD — The Gulf Region South district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed one of the largest water projects in here - a $266 million facility in Al Shatra to provide thousands of Iraqis with clean drinking water.

At a recent ceremony, officials from the Iraqi Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works and the Nasiriyah Governate Council gathered to mark the completion of the Nasiriyah Water Treatment Plant by opening the city connections at an elevated storage tank and allowing water to flow into the distribution network.

The plant and distribution system will help provide clean water to more than 500,000 residents of Dhi Qar Province in southern Iraq serving five major communities in the province: Nasiriyah, Suq Ash Shuek, Al Diwaya, Al Shatra, and Al Gharraf.

Safe drinking water will prevent the spread of disease in an area that historically has suffered from a lack of clean water and the resulting adverse health consequences. Southern Iraq has an extremely high mortality rate for infants and other children under the age of 5 due largely to preventable water-borne diseases.

Gulf Region South awarded the contract in 2004 for the water project to FlourAMEC, a joint U.S.-British venture, to design and construct the facility at Al Shatra. The plant is capable of producing 10,000 cubic meters of treated water per hour, according to Navy Cmdr. Mike Lang, Adder Area Office, Gulf Region South.

"The overall project included the construction of a water treatment plant with 10 clarifiers, three booster pump stations, five elevated storage tanks, five river crossings, and a pipeline of more than 100 kilometers," Lang said.

FlourAMEC was recognized in August 2006 for its outstanding efforts in the prevention of job site accidents in connection with the project. For more than two years, from August 2004 to October 2006, 793 days and 4.5 million contract hours were put in without a recorded workday accident.

Iraq leaders broker oil deal

WASHINGTON - Just in time for next week's Bush administration report to Congress on Iraq, most of the top leadership council in Iraq has reached a breakthrough agreement on a new oil law -- the thorniest of the political issues blocking political compromise in that cauldron of a country.

A Kurdish official predicted Friday to Newsday that if a final agreement can be announced to coincide with Army Gen. David Petraeus' testimony to Congress on Monday, it would be a major boon to President George W. Bush's argument that progress is being made in Iraq.

In recent days, Democrats in Congress have focused on the lack of political progress to counter Bush's claims that military progress is being made on the ground.

It was not clear Friday whether Iraqi Sunnis had approved the agreement yet, but it has been the Kurds -- not the Sunnis -- who have blocked progress. The Sunnis, who have little or no proven oil deposits in their region of Iraq, have long argued for central control of Iraq's oil and equitable distribution of the revenues by population.

Without it, experts on the region say, the country is likely to break apart.

According to one Middle Eastern source, the agreement would allow centralized control of the oil by the government in return for a larger share of the profits for the Kurds than originally proposed. Significantly, the agreement would cover future discoveries of oil deposits in addition to known oil fields, contrary to the vague provisions in the Iraqi constitution that seemed to leave such oil totally to the regions.

The Kurdish official confirmed the agreement, but said it calls for the central government and the regions to set policy together. Under the agreement, a federal council -- with both regional and federal government membership -- would be in charge of all the oil and gas in Iraq, he said.

Kurdish leaders had wanted Kurdish oil fields to be totally under their control. The Kurdish official, who asked not to be identified but was involved in the discussions, said Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, would continue to control contracts for oil exploration in their region, a major sticking point, but in coordination with the new council and its policies. The main point, the official said, is that "the center (Baghdad) cannot prohibit development in the North," as it did in the days of Saddam Hussein.

The deal was hammered out in recent days between the leaders of the two main Kurdish factions and two main Shia factions, with the Sunnis, who have been boycotting the government, not yet represented.

Friday, September 7, 2007

A look at Operation Lightning Hammer II in Ninewa and Salahadin

 The Long War Journal:

With Operation Lightning Hammer II underway in Iraq’s north, the provinces of Ninewa and Salahadin are a major focus of the latest offensive. Over half of the troops allotted to Lightning Hammer II are operating in Mosul, Tal Afar, and a region known as the Za'ab triangle in northern Salahadin province. Most of the troops conducting offensive operations in Ninewa and northern Salahadin are Iraqis.

“The Za'ab triangle is the main effort for our operations,” said Col. Stephen Twitty, the commander of the 4th Infantry Brigade, 1st Calvary Division during a Pentagon press briefing on September 7. Twitty runs the battlespace in Ninewa province, and recently assumed command of segments of northern Salahadin province in support of Lightning Hammer II. “[The Za'ab triangle] is an area that has seen very little coalition presence in previous months.” The Za’ab triangle is delineated by the Tigris River and Ninewa, Irbil, and Kirkuk provinces, and has served as an al Qaeda safe haven.

Outstanding coverage of a new offensive that the mainstream media has either refused to, or cannot, cover.

Bill does.

You can support PMI's efforts here.

The Last Principled Liberal

If he were not human, he'd be on the Department of Interior's Endangered Species List.

From today's press clippings:

Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Senator Joseph Lieberman opposed a compromise measure suggested by top Senate Democrats that would mandate a starting date for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq while imposing no deadline for completing the pullout.

Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has proposed the less- restrictive measure as a compromise move to entice Republicans and others who, while skeptical of the war, haven't backed earlier Democratic proposals to force a withdrawal.

Lieberman, a Connecticut independent and ardent supporter of a continued troop presence in Iraq, said he won't support Levin's plan. ``The answer is a respectful no,'' Lieberman, 65, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television's ``Political Capital with Al Hunt'' scheduled to air this weekend.

Lieberman's opposition makes it less likely that Levin's measure, co-sponsored with Rhode Island Democrat Jack Reed, could muster the 60 Senate votes needed to defeat a threatened Republican filibuster or the 67 required to override a presidential veto.

Congress has yet to successfully force any restrictions on the troop presence in Iraq. Two previous measures Levin sponsored with Reed to try to mandate a troop reduction failed to secure the necessary votes.

Most recently, a Levin-Reed proposal that would have required most troops to be withdrawn by April 30, 2008, fell eight votes short of the 60 needed to end debate and move to final consideration in July.

Petraeus Report

Army General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker next week will give a report that many lawmakers have said will determine whether more Republicans join Democrats in demanding a timetable to withdraw the 168,000 American military personnel in the country.

A study, produced by a commission headed by U.S. military commanders, said yesterday the U.S. could start withdrawing some troops from Iraq early next year if Iraq's army continues to improve its combat capability. Iraq's armed forces were dismantled in May 2003 after the U.S. invasion and are being gradually reconstituted.

Lieberman said there was no longer an appetite for mandating a troop pullout. ``The time for calling for a deadline for total withdrawal, that doesn't seem to be in sympathy here right now,'' Lieberman said. ``That change of political mood'' on Capitol Hill ``is a response to the facts that are improving on the ground in Iraq,'' he said.

Siding with the Bush administration, Lieberman said Iraq is ``significantly more stable than it was six months ago'' thanks to an increase in U.S. troops there. He said he expects the U.S. to have some troop presence in Iraq for a ``number of years.''

Iranian Bases

Lieberman repeated his view that the U.S. should consider taking military action against bases in Iran, where the Bush administration says Iraqi extremists are being trained before being sent back to Iraq to carry out attacks.

``We've said to the Iranians, `you want to have a better relationship, start by stopping this proxy war you're running against us and so far there's been no evidence of that,''' Lieberman said.

``If they don't listen to and respond to these demands of ours, then we have to consider taking military action against those bases where they are training the Iraqi extremists to go back and kill American soldiers,'' Lieberman said, adding that he isn't calling for any ``wide-scale invasion of Iran.''

I am rightfully called a conservative. I believe in conservative values and I stick to them intellectually and honestly. Joe Lieberman is rightfully a liberal. He sticks to his values just as intellectually and just as honestly.

Truth be told, this operation in Iraq should unite Americans of both primary ideologies. The people we fight against are a threat to us all. We are in a fight that affects the next generation, not the next election. We are all Americans. We should all have principles. I am saddened by the fact that Mr. Lieberman seems to be the last man on the left with any principles left.

LOOK! A Straw! Quick! Grasp at it!!!

For your reading pleasure, two prominent wire services offer their take on a letter from General David Petraeus to the Troops serving in Iraq:

Reuters: Petraeus sees mixed security gains in Iraq: letter

Associated Press: Petraeus: Iraq buildup falls short

And here is the letter itself: Petraeus' Letter to the Troops.

You don't need my interpretation to grasp the sense of utter desperation. The left, and their media shills, will leave no stone unturned or unspun to cast the events of next week in the worst possible light.

Next week is gonna be a whole helluva lot of fun.

Osama bin Laden:
All we gotta do is get rid of democracy!!

UPDATE: Dollard has the video.

I'm all for lower taxes, but his platform is a bit out of touch with the mainstream, if you ask me.

"The second is to do away with the American democratic system of government. "It has now become clear to you and the entire world the impotence of the democratic system and how it plays with the interests of the peoples and their blood by sacrificing soldiers and populations to achieve the interests of the major corporations."


"To conclude, I invite you to embrace Islam. There are no taxes in Islam, but rather there is a limited Zakaat [alms] totaling 2.5 percent."

ABC has a good excerpt of the transcript here.

UPDATE: MSNBC has the full transcript of the tape.

Pretty blatant appeal to the left. He shames the Democrats for not being able to end the war, which should have the Code Pinkos in a near orgasmic state of delight. He even gives a hat tip to Rosie, throwing out the 650,000 dead figure, and praises Noam Chomsky.

UPDATE: Dollard has the video. Part I.

Former Dallas Congressman Testifies at HLF Trial

The Investigative Project on Terrorism:

DALLAS - Former Congressman John Bryant (D-Texas), who served both as a lawyer and lobbyist for the Holy Land for Relief and Development (HLF), testified Thursday in the defunct charity's terror support trial. Bryant said HLF became a client in 1997 following news reports about an ongoing investigation into charity's alleged ties to terror.

Bryant said he sought several meetings with the Department of State and FBI officials asking for guidance about Palestinian charities which had terror ties and those which did not. HLF routed its donations through local Palestinian groups called zakat committees and he wanted federal officials to tell him whether HLF was doing anything illegal. If so, he wanted to know what the charity could do to take to change the situation.

He received no response, Bryant said.

More of Counterterrorism Blog and IPT's outstanding coverage of the Holy Land Foundation trial, ongoing in a Dallas, TX federal court.

Read IPT's full report, here.

Religion of Peace Reigns in Gaza

JEBALIYA REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip — Hamas security forces armed with rifles and clubs beat Fatah supporters trying to hold street prayers to protest the Islamic group's rule in Gaza, witnesses said. Hamas men also assaulted at least seven Palestinian journalists and detained five.

An explosive device thrown into the middle of one protest rally in southern Gaza injured four people.

The prayer protest was the latest episode in friction between the groups since Hamas' bloody seizure of power in Gaza in June. This week Hamas banned all public prayers after Fatah supporters began holding worship sessions that quickly escalated into raucous protests against Hamas rule.

In the northern Gaza refugee camp of Jebaliya, dozens of Hamas security men in uniform and civilian clothes were stationed in the streets to head off any attempt by Fatah supporters to gather. They fired in the air to keep Fatah supporters away, beat several people and detained one man, witnesses said.

Rescue workers said two people were brought to the hospital, one wounded by gunfire and another who had been beaten.

Across Gaza, seven journalists covering the clashes were beaten and two of them were later detained, witnesses and reporters said. Two Associated Press staffers and another news photographer were also briefly detained by Hamas men.

In Jebaliya, a security officer told reporters, "If a single shot is on TV, you know what will happen." He then drew his finger across his throat. At one point a Hamas security man tried to take a photographer's camera.

"I identified myself as a journalist and showed him my card, my journalist card, I told him, 'If you want the tape take the tape, I don't care,' but they kept on beating me and took the camera," Muhammad Abu Sido, a cameraman for a Palestinian news service, told AP Television News.

Similar incidents of harassment against journalists took place during previous weeks' Fatah protests.

Taher Nunu, a Hamas government spokesman in charge of coordinating media coverage, said the reports of harassment of journalists "were individual cases and won't be repeated," and that he was working to free the detained reporters.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appealed for calm from the West Bank, where he and his Western-backed government have ruled since Hamas took over Gaza.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, about 750 Fatah supporters gathered with Abbas for prayers to demonstrate solidarity with Fatah in Gaza. Thousand of Palestinians gathered at similar prayer rallies elsewhere in the West Bank.

Marine Hero: "Stop Playing Politics with the Troops"

Marco Martinez, recipient of the Navy Cross:

You can tell a lot about a nation by whom it trusts.

I am a former gang member-turned-Marine, not a statistician. But when I read that a Pew Research Center survey recently found that 76% of Republicans "have confidence" in the U.S. military to give an accurate picture of the war vs. only 36% of Democrats, the long-range consequences of a divided country became clear: We've become a nation that sees its soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines as political pawns, not patriots. Like thousands of combat veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I am now home, working and attending college. Yet it is the pre-presidential election climate I see stateside that concerns me most for my brothers and sisters in arms.

Gen. David Petraeus, who has faced Herculean challenges of mortal consequence, will issue his report on progress in Iraq next week. Regardless of what he reports, it's worth reminding the American people — and all politicians in Washington — that the troops must not become the rope in a political tug of war on Capitol Hill.

When I hear members of Congress, such as House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., say that progress with the surge might create a "real big problem for us" in moving toward withdrawal, I think back to the hellish fighting my fellow Marines and I endured — and I feel ashamed that any American would make such a seemingly reckless political calculation. Knowing that a politician might view success in Iraq as an electoral problem is political zealotry in the extreme. Does Clyburn's remark, though his alone, reflect a growing anxiety among Democrats that success in Iraq might complicate plans for ending the war?

Political dissent is healthy, especially when the issue is as critical as the Iraq war. But so is human decency. When an anti-war protester at the college I attend found out I was an Iraq veteran, she called me "a disgusting human being." I felt sorry for her, so blinded by politics that she had abandoned basic civility. Thankfully, she doesn't represent most Americans who oppose the war. But I worry about those still on the battlefield, and the individuals they will face when they return to a nation embroiled in election politics.

Many combat veterans, like me, have the luxury of watching the political debates from the safety of America. Not true for the 190,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Undermining the efforts of those whom one claims to support is the height of hubris.

Is it too much to ask that politicians view U.S. progress in Iraq as positive and not negative? I pray not.

USA Today, 9/7/2007, p 11a.

Blowback Redux

On August 22, in this post I wrote about how the upcoming administration report and congressional testimony by Crocker and Petraeus threatened to rip the Democrat party right down an ideological fault line.

The Democrats are properly terrified by the spectacle that is coming next week. General Petraeus--Scholar, Warrior, Patriot--is set to provide one of the most memorable congressional hearings in recent history. His testimony, and the report delivered by the Bush Administration one week from tomorrow, were required by language in a piece of legislation congressional Democrats insisted on when they passed the emergency supplemental.

At the time, no one on the left believed that a surge of troops could have had the effect that it has. This is due largely to the fact that none of the offensive operations made possible by the surge had begun yet. PL 110-28 was signed on May 25. Operation Phantom Thunder, the first offensive clearing operation began June 15. Give some credit to President Bush, who seems to have outmaneuvered Democrats again. It's likely that no one on the left knew what the brass at MNF-Iraq and CENTCOM had in store with those additional 30,000 troops, but some of them should have guessed. General Petraeus is a veteran combat commander(He took the 101st Airborne on the most aggressive, longest and most successful airborne armored assault in the unit's history, rolling through Iraq to Mosul in a breathtaking display of military brilliance).

The Democrats hadn't heard of Anbar Awakening yet. In late May, when they were crafting legislation requiring a series of reports they thought would ultimately humble the President and force a calamitous withdrawal from Iraq. They were doing it with the same mindset created by the Al-Askiriya Mosque Bombing and the year's worth of sectarian bloodshed that followed. It was hip to be anti-War. They had already jumped for joy in defeat and eagerly looked forward to hanging that defeat on Mr. Bush. That, they planned, would then be used to solidify and expand their majority in Congress and seat a Democrat in the White House in 2008.

But, a funnny thing happened on the way to that defeat. Our guys started kicking ass and taking names. Tribal Sheikhs started allying themselves with U.S. troops and fighting Al Qaeda side by side with our guys. The Sunni insurgency is now all but defeated. Al Qaeda is on the verge of a humiliating rout. Al-Sadr is caught between his own Scylla and Charybdes. And for the first time in Iraq's 16-month history, reconciliation is breaking out all over the place. There are even signs of reconciliation appearing at the national level.

Petraeus, Crocker and President Bush are going to explain all of that--in careful, pointed and incontravertible terms--next week.

Ahhh, the sweet smell of Blowback.

UPDATE: The Politico covers the fault line split I told you about last month. Next week is gonna be fun.

Iran Plan for Iraq

Counterterrorism Blog:

Walid Phares is a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington, D.C., and director of the Future Terrorism Project.

Dr. Phares has sketched a very grim outline of Iran's plan for Iraq, should the United States "catastrophically" withdraw from Iraq before that nation's government stabilizes and can defend itself. Grim is a euphemistic description of the future Phares believes Iran has in store:

1) The pro-Iranian militias (SCIRI, Badr Brigade, Muqtada al Sadr, act.) would seize the control of two thirds of Iraq between Baghdad and Basra. The militias would create "security enclaves," perform several terror acts and assassinations leading to a crumbling of the central Government, and a pro-Khomeinist regime established.

2) Most moderate Shiite politicians and liberal elements in those areas would be eliminated, as did Khomeini with his partners in the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Within less than a year, most Shia partners of the Pro-Iranian forces would be eliminated.

3) And as it was practiced in Lebanon in 1990, the pro-Iranian future regime of Iraq will call in Iranian "brotherly" forces to assist in security and in the defense of the borders. The Pasdaran and the Iranian army will deploy in the southern Oil fields, along the borders with Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan and would connect with the Syrian forces across the borders. The latter will be asked to help in the Anbar province.

4) The Sunni areas will be left to be dealt with later, along with Syrian interventions.

5) The Kurdish areas will be submitted to isolation, pressure and internal divisions, in a concerted effort with Syria and the Islamic Government of Turkey.

In this post, I noted the strategic objectives remaining for the U.S. led coalition:

1) Complete the neutralization of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

2) Flip Moqtada al-Sadr and bring his militias into the coalition fold (al-Sistani's Badr Brigades are not fighting the coalition).

3) Eliminate or neutralize the Iranian backed JAM forces.

A fourth strategic objective should be discussed--crippling Iran's ability to supply finance and logistics support to its proxy forces in Iraq. Sooner or later, the U.S. will have to draw down and leave a largely special forces and civil affairs COIN presence. When that happens, we have to make sure that Iran does not step in and attempt to fill the void. We can not let Iran gain another ounce of influence, and we can not let them solidify anything gained to date.

Dr. Phares probably has a stronger basis for wariness of al-Sistani's Badr militia than I do. I frankly don't see al-Sistani as an Iranian puppet mullah, as he threw his support in with the new government fairly early on. It was al-Sadr who seemed to be the chief ally of Iran in Iraq, which is why flipping him becomes so important.

Very interesting, and clearly critical, times lie ahed.

Read Dr. Phares full article.

Hsu Caught in Colorado

Well, Damn.

I was kinda sorta hoping that he would flee the jurisdiction and disappear, giving us all the chance to speculate what the Clinton Machine did to Hsu to shut him up. Cement Hsu's would have been a richly wonderful conspiracy theory to plunder and enjoy.

Michelle Malkin: Captured.

Hot Air: Immigration angle?

Lightning Hammer II Launched

Multi-National Force - Iraq:

TIKRIT, Iraq – Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces continued their relentless pursuit of al-Qaeda in northern Iraq by launching Operation Lightning Hammer II, Wednesday evening.

The operation, involving approximately 14,000 ISF, partnered with more than 12,000 CF, is spearheaded by Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, partnered with members of the 2nd and 3rd Iraqi Army Divisions, and Iraqi Police forces stationed throughout Ninewa province.

In addition to the thousands of Soldiers and their ISF counterparts participating in Lightning Hammer II, attack helicopters, close-air support, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Stryker Vehicles and tanks compliment the combined effort. This operation follows Lightning Hammer I in the series of offensives to deny al-Qaeda safe haven in the provinces of Salah ad Din, Ninewa, Diyala and Kirkuk. Operation Lightning Hammer I, from Aug. 13 to Sept. 1, succeeded in driving enemy elements out of the Diyala River Valley, northeast of Baqouba.

“Al-Qaeda cells were driven from Baqouba in Diyala due to Operation Arrowhead Ripper in June and July and then pursued in the Diyala River Valley during Operation Lighting Hammer in August,” said Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of Task Force Lightning and Multinational Division-North. “Our main goal with Lightning Hammer II is to continue to pursue and apply constant pressure to the terrorist cells operating in MND-N, and destroy them where they attempt to hide.”

“Our combined forces’ commitment to hunt al Qaeda and its operatives remains as strong as ever,” said Mixon. “We will not rest until al Qaeda in Iraq is driven from northern Iraq, and Iraqi citizens have a safe and secure homeland.”

Confederate Yankee had this story yesterday, speculating that the major media outlets may have been caught flatfooted.

It should come as no surprise, since most of the MSM reports come from "correspondents" camped out in the grueling, squalid conditions of the "Rashid Bureau," well inside the Green Zone.

In an update to the post, CY notes:

Update: I checked in with the Task Force Lightning PAO, and he told me that there are a total of 11 embedded journalists in Northern Iraq. A grand total of one is from a major wire service, and five of them are in Diyala. The remaining northern provinces of Ninewa, Salah Ad Din, and Kirkuk have a total of two embedded journalists each.

How many of them are actually covering operations related to Operation Lightning Hammer II is unknown.

Stay tuned to the blogosphere if you want up to the minute reports...

Long War Journal, Bill Roggio's new home, is certain to have complete, up to date information.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Zogby Poll: 42% of Democrats are 9/11 Truthers

Zogby release is here.   Raw polling data here.

However, 75% of Republicans believe the official story.

I scanned the raw polling data. People who shop at Wal Mart or identified themselves as NASCAR fans polled better than Democrats.

Captain Travis Patriquin - "An American Martyr"


One reason why the words of Senator Schumer piss me the hell off is because of the blood of soldiers like Captain Travis Patriquin. He was killed in Iraq last year in the midst of making a little known, but very impactful difference. It looks like Patriquin's sacrifice didn't end his work in the region...perhaps there is not a better epitaph for a man like Patriquin. He truly freed the oppressed.

Via Michelle Malkin, here is Ham Nation's tribute to Captain Patriquin's ideas on how to win the war in Iraq (via the first link above, he had put together a succinct presentation on how to win in Anbar). Thanks again to the most excellent MKH.

Guess what? He was right

Great post by BLACKFIVE. Patriquin was arguably the man who solved the Sunni Triangle problem with an ingeniously simple understanding of Arab culture and a humorously simple PowerPoint presentation.

As Democrat after Democrat rushes to microphone over the next two weeks or so, please don't forget that real Americans are in Iraq, solving real problems using good old American ingenuity.

Hoo ah, Captain.

What's Wrong with the GAO Report

Weekly Standard's Fred Kagan writes about the GAO Report, rightly pointing out that GAO was sent on a "fool's errand" in preparing it.

Congress sent the GAO off with this directive, essentially: Fit a square peg in a round hole, ignore any sense of reality, and tell us stuff that we know you know you can not know how to to measure. Wink wink.

Congressional Democrats, as blithelessly clueless as ever (since only a handful have even been to Iraq in the last four years), have naturally seized upon the predictable outcome of the report and are now claiming that the surge has failed.

It's the "this war is lost" deja vu all over again.

HLF Witness Doesn't Accept Evidence Linking Charity to HAMAS

The Investigative Project on Terrorism

Can a crook be a dhimmi? Apparently so, as Edward Abington, one-time lobbyist/moutpiece of Yasser Arafat and the PLO, refused to accept convincing evidence that the "charities" supported by the Holy Land Foundation were infested and controlled by HAMAS.

Counterterrorism Blog and the Investigative Project on Terrorism have provided detailed coverage of HLF's ongoing trial in Dallas. The prosecution rested last week. Abington was the first defense witness and his cross examination continued Wednesday.

Abington, served as counsel general in Jerusalem under Clinton, and was later paid $750,000 to lobby on behalf of the PLO.

Regional security stimulates economic growth

BAGHDAD — Coalition security efforts here are making progress, a fact reflected in other areas, including an improvement in the economic environment. That relationship was cited by Ambassador Charles P. Ries, Coordinator for Economic Transition in Iraq and Minister for Economic Affairs, and Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner, Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman earlier this week at the Combined Press Information Center.

Maj. Gen. Bergner started the conference earlier this week by outlining the recent improvements in security here.

Overall the occurrences of ethno-sectarian deaths have decreased country-wide, evidenced by the lowest numbers of security incidents in over a year.

“In the coming months, Coalition and Iraqi forces will keep the pressure on the enemy, while also supporting important economic and reconstruction efforts in areas (where) we have already secured the population,” Bergner said.

Ambassador Ries said that greater economic stability is closely linked with the security of the country. “The improvement on the security side that General Bergner described is having an impact on the economic side.”

The Ambassador described several priorities his team will focus on in the up coming months. Their first priority is and will remain developing a sustained and sustainable economy in the areas being secured by the surge.

Most important in developing a strong Iraqi economy is allowing the Iraqi government to make most of the decisions involving privatizing businesses, budgeting and regulating energy industry.

The Framework Law is hydrocarbon regulation legislation for the country, which along with the Revenue Sharing Law, will be reviewed by parliament this month. If parliament approves those laws, they will set up a basic frame work for the country in regards to oil and gas revenue sharing.

In addition the electrical supply here has improved, Ries said. The country’s electric power generation capacity has increased 2000 megawatts over the last three years. Coalition forces are working closely with the Iraqi government to repair and maintain transmission lines damaged by insurgents.

The Iraqi government will make the final decision on privatizing electrical services, but in Baghdad many citizens currently receive their power from private generators on a cost sharing basis.

The bulk of private investment here is represented by 3.75 billion dollars being paid for cell phone licenses, another indication, Ries and Bergner say, that the economic and security situations are improving here.

(U.S. Army story by SPC Megan J. Burmeister, Combined Press Information Center)

The Iraq Doomsday Report

At Young Americans, Pat Dollard blogs on the Doomsday report from Stratfor.

Pat writes:

According to local press reports verified by a confidential military source in Iraq, the real story behind Muqtada Al Sadr’s order for the Mahdi Army to “suspend” its attacks, and his stated goal of “reorganizing” it, is that he is attempting to purge it of Iranian-backed agents who now control huge chunks of the organization. Much like the Sunnis found out that their ally Al Qaeda was no more than a nefarious invader looking to wrest control of their territory, Al Sadr is discovering that his ally Iran is engaged in doing the same thing to him.

Clearly, al-Sadr lives as a free man because the United States and the Iraqi government believe al-Sadr can be flipped. If he is flipped, the last of the serious enemies in Iraq will have been isolated and targeted for destruction. The key players in Iraq's dual insurgency have always been the Sunni dominated Al Qaeda group and the Iranian backed Shiite Jaish al-Mahdi elements. Al Qaeda is nearly finished as a fighting force. Jaish al-Mahdi still has enough political and financial support to fight on.

The clock is counting down to March, when at least some of the surge troops will rotate out of Iraq and draw our forces down to pre-surge levels. That leaves three strategic objectives:

1. Complete the neutralization of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

2. Flip Moqtada al-Sadr and bring his militias into the coalition fold (al-Sistani's Badr Brigades are not fighting the coalition).

3. Eliminate or neutralize the Iranian backed JAM forces.

A fourth strategic objective should be discussed--crippling Iran's ability to supply finance and logistics support to its proxy forces in Iraq. Sooner or later, the U.S. will have to draw down and leave a largely special forces and civil affairs COIN presence. When that happens, we have to make sure that Iran does not step in and attempt to fill the void. We can not let Iran gain another ounce of influence, and we can not let them solidify anything gained to date.

The enemy is to the east of Baghdad, and it is the same enemy Leonidas and Alexander the Great faced. The enemy is Persia.

Hellfire and Brimstone: Killing al Qaeda in Samarra

Jeff Emanuel, embedded in Iraq:

“We’ve been told that ‘no al Qaeda sleep in the city,’” Captain Buddy Ferris, commander of the 82nd Airborne’s Charlie Company 2-505 (the battalion is also known as “2-Panther”), told me. His Company is the lone conventional unit responsible for the city of Samarra and the entirety of the sparsely populated (and therefore perfect for hiding people and weapons) surrounding countryside. “They know that we’ll hunt them down and kill them.”

Go read the full post.

We are fortunate to have so many brave journalists willing to endure the rigors of war to bring us the stories that the "Rashid Bureau" of the MSM can not or will not tell. Michael Yon. Michael Totten. Jeff Emanuel. Wes Morgan. Matt Sanchez.

The constant drone of negativity and defeat, interspersed with spectacular stories like the Haditha trial, the Yazidi bombing and the shootout in Karbala last month, create an environment in which the American public expects failure. The dispatches we get from the embedded journalists tell a very different story.

Our guys are winning this thing, and creating a very differnt environment on the ground in Iraq.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Israel says no Gaza offensive, for now

AP via Yahoo! News:

JERUSALEM - Israeli leaders ruled out a large-scale military response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip but threatened on Wednesday to cut off electricity or other vital supplies to the impoverished area if militants keep up attacks.

Pictures of panicked Israeli children and parents running for cover as the school year began in the battered town of Sderot have dominated news in Israel this week. The government has been forced to address growing anger and frustration over the inability of the high-tech military to counter the crude Palestinian weapons.

Israeli media quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying the need for a large operation in Gaza is approaching. But the Security Cabinet, made up of senior ministers, rejected an all-out offensive to move Israeli communities out of range by taking control of the areas where militants fire rockets.

Emphasis mine, so that I can call "Bravo Sierra."

First of all, these are not crude weapons at all. They are Katyusha rockets or Iranian made mortars. They have very good targeting hardware on them and the mortar/rocket crews are well-trained.

Israel has the same counterbattery technology that the United States and other western militaries do. Those counterbattery systems have high resolution RADAR capability and computerized tracking systems. As soon as the round leaves the launcher, the RADAR acquires it and the system begins developing a firing solution for the launch location. The firing crew would have about enough time to get one more round off before a 155mm counter artillery round is on its way to send the terrorists to Allah.

The Israelis don't return fire for the same reason Coalition troops hold fire--the terrorists are firing from civilian areas. If the IDF returned fire, civilians would likely be killed or wounded and the international press would be all over that story.

Like the U.S. in Iraq, Israel can not expect informed, much less unbiased, coverage from the media.

Wars do not work like your i-Pod.

In his Private Papers, Victor Davis Hanson sets an "angry reader" (i.e., moonbat) straight on how things work in real wars in the real world:

Unfortunately you know nothing of history and so like most on the Left think that your age, your circumstances, your views are always unique and transcend some 231 years of our America past. Do you know anything about the winter of 1776? Or the summer of 1864, or Spring 1917? Or the Pacific in 1944, or the Bulge, or November 1950? There an "incompetent group of people" did not manage a war that lost 3,000, but almost 100,000 dead and wounded alone in 2 months in the Ardennes, or 50,000 casualties in 6 weeks on Okinawa.

We can imagine your sarcastic letters after the hedgerows, or the 1942 B-17 attacks, or Tarawa, or Choisun, but fortunately until this generation yours was always a minority view. Unfortunately wars do not work like your i-Pod.

Sadly, that comes as a cold shock to a large majority of Americans. This society has had it so easy for so long that we are seemingly unable to stomach even the least sacrifice.

Americans like music and video on demand. They can walk into a Starbucks and get a double cream somethin' somethin' in a snap. They like microwave popcorn, instant replay... And Democracies built in a day.

Americans are impatient with the operation in Iraq, because Americans have been conditioned that patience is something they do not need. The "I want it, and I want it now" mentality makes easy prey for the anti-war left, who exploit impatience with the constant drumbeat of defeatist, anti-American rhetoric.

If Americans could demonstrate the patience and fortitude it took to persevere through historical conflicts, we could certainly see this one through.

Iran Buying Advanced SAM System from Russia

Press TV :

"Vice Chairman of Russia's State Duma Vladimir Zhirinovsky has urged the fast delivery of the magnificent S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran.

Speaking at the open session of Russia's State Duma on Wednesday, Zhirinovsky stated, 'S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems should be delivered as early as possible to enable Iran to defend its air space.'

The S-400 is a new generation of anti-aircraft / anti-missile weapon system developed by the Russian Almaz Central Design Bureau.

The S-400 is capable of detecting and destroying targets out to a range of 400km (250 miles), such as aircrafts, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, including those with a range of 3,500 km."

Hsu Fly

Allahpundit: Norman Hsu skips bail hearing.

Until this development, this had all the scents and markings of a story that the Clinton Machine wanted out by Labor Day 2007 so that it wouldn't be damaging by Labor Day 2008.

But with the primary perp now a tempting target for a skip tracer, maybe this thing will run for a while. At least until A&E can get Duane Chapman and a camera crew together...

O’Reilly Picks Up Dollard's Mark Cuban Story

Young Americans:

Pat Dollard did the heavy lifting, exposing Mark Cuban as the money bags behind De Palma's wind bag film, Redacted.

O'Reilly picked up the expose and ran with it last night. Pat has the segment linked on his page.

Former Ambassador Spins HLF

Counterterrorism Blog and IPT's Coverage continues.

DALLAS--A former U.S. diplomat spoke in glowing terms Tuesday about the Palestinian charities supported by the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF). Edward Abington, a former counsel general at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, was the first defense witness in the terror-support trial of the Richardson Tex.-based foundation and five of its former officers.

Prosecutors spent the past six weeks detailing links between the Palestinian charities, known as zakat committees, and HAMAS, a designated foreign terrorist organization. While much of the money went to humanitarian relief, anything that went to benefit HAMAS violated U.S. law, the government contends.

Jurors heard a much different account from Abington...

For full blog click here to visit the website of the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).

If the name Edward Abington rings a bell, it's because he was Yasser Arafat's mouthpiece in Washington, DC. Ed Abington was a paid lobbyist for the PLO.

Additional coverage from NY Sun here.
UPDATE:  Prosecution moves in opposition to the amicus brief filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Coalition Collars Quds Capo

Multi-National Force - Iraq:

Coalition forces grab high-value IRGC-QF affiliate

– During a pre-dawn raid in Karbala Wednesday, Coalition forces captured a highly-sought individual suspected of being an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) affiliate.

Coalition forces also detained another individual for questioning.

The detained individual is suspected of coordinating with high-level IRGC-QF officers for the transportation of multiple Iraqis to Iran for terrorist training at IRGC-QF training camps. He is also a known logistics facilitator providing lethal aid to terrorists operating in central Baghdad. It is likely that the affiliate is closely linked to individuals at the highest levels of the IRGC-QF. Coalition forces are still assessing his possible connection to the Special Groups.

Intelligence derived from other security detainees led Coalition forces to the residence of the individual. Ground troops confiscated computer equipment, communication devices, miscellaneous documents and photographs. It is believed that the captured documents may lead to information on other IRGC-QF illicit activities intended to disrupt security operations in Iraq. There were no Iraqi or Coalition forces casualties during the precision raid.

“As Iran continues its proxy war against the people of Iraq, Coalition forces will continue to build on recent operations to disrupt the flow of illicit, lethal materials from Iran into Iraq,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, MNF-I spokeman. “The capture of individuals affiliated with the IRGC-Quds Force is an integral part of dismantling terror networks that seek to kill innocent Iraqis and security forces.”

Emphasis mine.

Heh. Nice work, guys!

I'll bet that computer didn't have a copy of Scorched Earth on it.

UPDATE: Bill Kristol responds in the Daily Standard:

It's great that the military is having success in capturing "affiliates" of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Iraq. But it's also clear from this statement that the training of the terrorists is being  done in Iran: "..the transportation of multiple Iraqis to Iran for terrorist training at IRGC-QF training camps." A senior administration official last week discounted to me the importance of going after such targets in Iran--while not denying they exist and that we know where they are. The explanation wasn't convincing at the time. In light of this fresh evidence, and in light of the fact that the Iranians have been shelling targets in Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, that they claim are supporting violence in Iran, one has to ask: "Why are terror training camps in Iran, camps that are directly training terrorists to attack U.S. troops, off limits?" After all, if Khameini (to whom the IRGC reports) has already established the principle of cross-border attacks against accelerators of violence, who are we to disagree with the wisdom of the Supreme Leader?

Iranian State-run Website Using Moonbat Posts as Propaganda

Iran's state-run Website, Press TV, is using leftist and conspiracy nut comment posts as pro-Iran, anti-U.S. and anti-Israel propaganda.

Press TV quotes unabashed tin foil hatter, Jim McPherson:

Who is the rogue country in the middle east? Israel has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and allows no inspections by anyone. Israel has hundreds of nuclear warheads. If we use the same criteria on Israel that is applied to Iraq and Iran, then, in the words of US General George Patton, "Hey, we're fighting the wrong guys!" Jim McPherson Roswell, Georgia

McPherson is one of those conspiracy theorists who believe the Apollo Moon Missions were staged; that 9/11 was an inside job and that the Zionist conspiracy is almost ready to take over the world.

I know, he's obviously a wiener short of a can of Vienna Sausages, but he is an American and the target audience is not exactly going to care much about our Black Helicopter Contingent.

Press TV also quotes a Canadian, Kenneth T. Tellis:

There is very great need for the truth about Iran being disseminated and made available, so that it is not blurred by those who do not see Iran's interest as being for peace. There are of course, other sites which information from those who promote anti-Irani propaganda and create the false impression of Iran being a threat to world peace.

We will let the absurdity of these statements stand for itself.

"Halimah," presumably an individual of "Middle Eastern descent," chimes in from the United States as well:

I don't know why the USA does not just call Israel its 51st state! The Zionists get more aid than have of all of the USA states is an outrage!

Press TV recently added a comment feature to their website, allowing readers to post comments on articles and op/ed pieces carried by the network. These stories are predictably anti-American and anti-Israel, drawing the usual self-loathing westerners and reassuring them that hating the U.S. is Ok.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Iran says US Troops Vulnerable

Iran's former IRGC Commander says 200,000 US troops are in weak positions in the Middle East and Iran has identified all their locations.

Senior Advisor to the Leader for Military Affairs, Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, made the remark Monday in a meeting with Imam Hussein University faculty in Tehran.

He is apparently responding to news reports over the weekend regarding a super secret Pentagon plan to obliterate the entire Iranian military in 3 days.

With regards to Iran having identified all of our troops locations, it's not like we're difficult to find. We've been in the neighborhood since November 2001 and basically have Iran surrounded.

Victory Caucus Stand by the Mission Petition

The Victory Caucus


The Victory Caucus has joined with a coalition of other pro-victory groups to sponsor the Stand by the Mission Petition at the link.

VC asks that you add your signature to the petition so that we can demonstrate to Congress and the world that the American public is committed to victory.

This post will stay as a widget on (see left) until the petition is submitted.

Y'all know what to do.

Choose Your Preferred Narrative, but Quit Attacking the Troops

Confederate Yankee provides another typically keen commentary on the debate over Operation Iraqi Freedom, and takes the left to task for their incessant assault on the character and integrity of our Armed Forces.

In addition to this public meeting of leaders in an area once deemed lost just a short time ago, U.S. casualties in Iraq have dropped in half at a time they were expected to actually rise, al Qaeda-aligned terrorists and insurgent groups have either turned, or become hounded and hunted in al Anbar, Diyala, and elsewhere. Some supporters are suggesting that what future history may regard as the turning point towards victory is either occurring, or may have already occurred.

For war detractors in our political classes, in the media and on the activist left, the war was lost long ago, and every day merely means another American mother will lose her soldier-child in a lost cause. To them, the war possibility of a turn-around in Iraq is unthinkable, any apparent progress is an illusion, or merely a matter of temporary gains before an inevitable fall.

Both sides are looking to make what they can of the much-anticipated "Petraeus Report" (which, as Matthew Sheppard points out, is actually something of a myth).

I will go the next step--the constant attacks on members of the military (including today's shameless Associated Press story on war crimes accusations) are deliberate and calculated.  The goal is to demoralize the troops, undermine their will to fight, and turn them against the President's policy.  This would presumably lead to more troops speaking out in opposition.

They are waging a deliberate psychological warfare campaign against the men and women of the Armed Forces, an institution which study after demographic study shows is no Democrat constituency.  The military is too white, too conservative, too Christian, too "red state," and too well educated to heed their polluted ideology.  

The left views the military as a political adversary, despite the fact that most of the men and women of the Armed Forces view themselves as apolitical and view most politicians with the healthiest doses of suspicion.  Nevertheless, the left believes that the military is aligned with the right because as I write this, the military is fighting in a conflict that the left disagrees with.

It is a twisted world view, and their desire to see the troops come home humbled and defeated is unadulterated treachery.

Dana Perino...

... IS HOT.

That is all.

Web Reconnaissance for 09/04/2007

Tuesday Thunder Run Web Recon Post


You need a good breakfast, too.

Combat Engineers Out Front

KALSU — Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces came together recently to help improve road conditions and make travel safer for citizens and Soldiers in North Babil.

Engineers from Company A, 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, along with personnel from 8th Iraqi Army Division and Babil police, conducted Operation Cotentin, a joint effort focused on improving the safety of the roadways near Iskandariyah and Haswah.

“Our mission for Operation Cotentin was to conduct route sanitization in order to make the roads safer,” said 1st Lt. Samuel Chamberlain, a platoon leader with Company A. “Route sanitation involves the clearing of trees, debris, or other thick vegetation that may be used to emplace roadside bombs targeted at the area’s security forces.”

The two-day operation covered about 14 kilometers of road.

During the operation, the engineers moved up the roads in RG-31s and other mine resistant vehicles, knocking down trees and cleaning up debris in their paths using armored graders, bulldozers and other earth moving equipment to make the area easier to view roadside bombs.

While roads were being cleared, Iraqi Security Forces managed traffic and shared security responsibilities with the engineers.

“Clearing the roads make it obvious for other security forces to see any threats that may have been placed to harm them,” Chamberlain said.

“The operation went very smoothly,” said Sgt. 1st Class Beau Shaw, a platoon sergeant and native of Coeur d ‘Alene, Idaho. “Our engineers knew what to do and executed proficiently.”

The engineers have been conducting route sanitation and route clearance since being deployed to the area in October 2006. Since then, 3rd Platoon has an average of at least two IED strikes per Soldier, some with three or more.

“All of our guys love what they do,” Shaw said. “They know they are helping not just their brigade but every single person who travels the roads in our area of operation.”


I'm sure they're almost as good as the 299th CE Btn was. Heh...

Monday, September 3, 2007

HLF Case Heavy on Detail

Counterterrorism Blog, and The Investigative Project on Terrorism, have provided outstanding coverage of the Holy Land Foundation trial, ongoing in Dallas, Texas.

The MSM has not so much as given this four lines in a digest section. CTB and IPT have been on top of it from jury selection.

It is one line among thousands of pages of evidence in a Dallas courtroom, but it summarizes the government's terror-support case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) and five former leaders.

"Caution should be practiced not to reveal true identity."
It comes from an internal security manual found at Infocom, a computer business run by defendant Ghassan Elashi. Prosecutors say Elashi and his HLF colleagues deliberately funneled money to HAMAS, a designated foreign terrorist organization, consistent with the objectives of the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee. And, prosecutors claim, they did everything they could to keep that a secret.

Defendant Shukri Abu Baker, HLF's former chief executive, put it another way during a secret 1993 meeting of HAMAS members and sympathizers in Philadelphia: "War is deception."

Full report here.

By all means, bookmark Steve's new page.

Commander In Chief

Just sayin' ...

Army Sends 32 Tangos to Allah

Fifty-five more detained

Pat Dollard's Young Americans:

Anbar, Sept 3, (VOI) – U.S. army forces killed 32 members of al-Qaeda Organization in Iraq and arrested 55 others during security raids in the suburbs of al-Karma in north of Falluja, a police source said.

“The U.S. soldiers waged incessant ground and air attacks during the past three days in the areas where al-Qaeda members are holed up in al-Karma and Zhiraa Dijla, some 15-20 km north of Falluja,” the source, who declined to have his name mentioned, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).

“Most of the killings occurred by aerial bombardment while the arrests by ground patrols,” the source said.

The source pointed out that the U.S. army “would not have been able to have the upper hand over the gunmen had it not been for the local residents’ refusal to harbor them,” adding “this prompted the gunmen to resort to remote desert areas, which made it easier for the U.S. forces to sort them out from the civilians and directly target them.”

Falluja, one of the largest cities in the Sunni province of al-Anbar, lies 45 km west of Baghdad.

Stories like this indicate how dire the situation is for AQI. With no place to hide and no means of sustaining the logistics needed to continue the fight, they will be hunted down like dogs. They are being killed or arrested by the score now.

Contrast this with the conditions on the ground in January, just eight months or so ago, when AQI had all but surrounded Baghdad.

Our guys are winning this fight. The only way they lose this is if we decided we don't want them to win.

It really is that simple.

Photo of The Week

President Assembles 'War Council' in Anbar Province

Armed Forces Press Service:

President Assembles 'War Council' in Anbar ProvinceBy Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Al ASAD AIRBASE, Iraq, Sept. 3, 2007 – President Bush has assembled his “war council” here in a surprise holiday weekend-meeting, at this remote airbase, in what is probably the group’s last meeting before the president makes his decision on next steps for U.S. involvement in the war.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Adm. William Fallon, commander of U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker are all slated to meet with top Iraqi political leaders over the next several hours.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, President Jalal Talabani, Vice President Tariq al Hashimi, Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi, and Massoud Barzani, president of the semiautonomous Kurdish region, are all slated to meet with the U.S. officials.

“This will be the last big gathering of the president’s top military advisors and the Iraqi leadership before the president makes a decision about the way forward,” said Geoff Morrell, Pentagon press secretary. “This is very much a decisional meeting. This meeting will put him [the president] much closer to making a decision, if he hasn’t already.”

The president and his top decision-makers traveled here to discuss progress in Iraq “face-to-face” with key leaders on the ground as he prepares his recommendations for the next steps in the theater, officials said.

The meeting comes days before Petraeus is scheduled to report before Congress on progress made here.

Gates did not address the press during the overnight flight, but a senior Defense Department official traveling with the secretary, speaking on background, told reporters the trip is all within the “context of making a decision” about future plans for Iraq.

“Nothing beats looking your commander in the eye … and saying ‘What do you think? What do we need to do? How’s this coming along?” the official said. “I think it’s instrumental to the decision process, for what the military recommendations are going to be, and the defense department’s recommendations are going to be to the president.”

The group is also slated to meet with local tribal leaders to discuss the recent surge of support for coalition forces in the region.

This is Gates’ second trip to this western-most province in Iraq that was once considered hopelessly lost to the insurgency. In recent months, though, tribal leaders and forces have begun siding with U.S. and Iraqi forces to repel al Qaeda in Iraq.

The official said Gates has read and heard military and media reports on the emergence of support for coalition forces in the former insurgent stronghold, but wanted to see the progress first-hand.

“This is an opportunity for him to get a perspective on it while he’s out there,” the official said. “These are other people that are reaching out to work with the coalition, work with the Iraqi government. And even though they are unofficial at this point, it’s important for all of us to hear what they have to say and recognize that they can be, and have been up to this point, a healthy part of stabilizing Anbar and other parts of western Baghdad.”

Gates is also slated to meet with about 700 Marines at the base during his visit. Nearly 35,000 Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen serve in Multinational Force West.

Al Asad Airbase is the second largest airbase in Iraq and is about 120 miles northwest of Baghdad.

You have to love Mr. Bush's choice of locations. Anbar Province is a predominantly Sunni region. Nouri al-Maliki is a Shiite who has come under criticism for pursuing a sectarian agenda. Bush's choice both highlights the bottom up phenomenon of political reform and the desire of the U.S. to see a more conciliatory tone in Iraq.

DrewM at Ace of Spades HQ has this angle, too.

There could also be a security issue involved. Remember that last week, a C-130 carrying a Congressional delegation reportedly took AA or RPG fire as it left Baghdad International.

Ahmadinejad Pouts over U.N. Vetos

Press TV:

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has criticized the veto right of certain countries at the United Nations.

Addressing the ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran on Monday, he said, "The veto right is a vivid example of inequality, discrimination and injustice."

He went on, "Today, certain powers use the veto right as a tool to bring the votes of nations under question showing disrespect for the rights of other countries."

"They exert pressure on the democratic Palestinian government and strive to topple it by subjecting it to economic sanctions," Ahmadinejad said.

The chief executive noted that the US violates the rights and the lives of Iraqi people and still calls for the change of the independent Iraqi government.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad is pouting over the UN Security Council permanent members' veto authority. Any of the five permanent members--China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States--can veto a UNSC resolution.

There's a good reason for that, of course. It's to keep rogue nations like Iran from hijacking the council and passing scurrilous motions.

"We are from all over Iraq."

BAGHDAD — The strength of any democracy is the equal representation of various cultural interests; thus, the power of a military force can be measured by diversity as well. American culture takes pride in boasting equal opportunity in public service roles.

Iraqi culture mirrors this attitude, and the warriors of the Iraqi Army’s 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Division – currently conducting a force integration with Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines – are a simple, flawless example of strength in diversity.

Speaking from an office at Combat Outpost Golden in Al Anbar Province here, Iraqi Army Col. Ali Jassimi, 1st battalion commanding officer, explained the cultural representation within his unit.

“My staff is Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish. We have officers from many different areas of Iraq; Mosul, Baghdad, Ramadi – and we’re all here working together,” he said. “There are many people around the world who would think this would be a problem. We are a perfect example that it is not.”

Jassimi, a native of southern Iraq, said there is a preconceived notion in some global media circles that various sectarian issues create problems within the new Iraqi Army. To combat this, he said, he avoids prejudice by ignoring religious preference altogether.

“When I get a new officer, I do not ask him if he is Shiite or Sunni. I don’t care,” he said.

The recent history of the diverse organization’s success in Falluja (a primarily Sunni area), conducting security and stability operations is a testament to the camaraderie of junior enlisted troops (Juundis) who come from all walks of life, said Jassimi.

“We’ve had great success in Falluja, and it’s because of the Juundis-- they’re all brothers,” he said.

The colonel went on to explain that junior enlisted troops in his battalion ignored sectarian issues during operations.

“If anyone needed help, we helped them. We visited mosques, and no matter if it was Shiite or Sunni, we prayed with them,” Jassimi said.

Iraqi Army Captain Mustafa Al Jaaf, a Kurdish staff member of 1/2/1, echoed his commander’s sentiments.

“We are from all over Iraq, and it makes a stronger force. You can see now Falluja is a much safer place,” Jeaf said.

Originally from Ramadi, Iraqi Army Capt. Basim Ashumari said his anger over foreign fighters – Al Qaeda subordinates historically from Egypt, Jordan and Syria – caused him to join the new Iraqi Army and fight for his countrymen, no matter what religion they were.

“In Ramadi, I saw men from another country come and kill civilians, so I decided to join the new Iraqi Army. No matter what religion they are, these officers here are on a mission to keep the Iraqis safe. We are one team with one goal,” Ashumari said.

U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Woody Hesser, Military Transition Team commander, said within the MTT, the ethos of “one team, one fight” is clearly evident during joint operations. Hesser and his team have shadowed 1st Battalion since January, and he says with each patrol a shared interest in Iraqi security is obvious.

“We’re here fighting a war, and when we go on patrol, it’s one fight. There have never been any sectarian issues,” Hesser said. “Really, it’s almost like another Marine unit taking over, but it’s not about Marines and Iraqis, it’s about good guys versus bad guys.”

As Marines have always kept close the ethos of “brothers in arms,” the Iraqi Army shares the exact ideal. During a nightly dinner with 1st Battalion staff, uniforms and language are the only visible difference between 3/1 Marines and Iraqi Army forces here. The staff laughs, jokes and singles out members with good-natured scrutiny. At the end of the night, they shake hands and go on with business. Officers constantly duck in to the commander’s office to have forms signed and plans authorized. The parallels between US and Iraqi forces are striking.

For the Iraqi Army, however, it is not a mimicking act – it is an old way of life.

“I’m from the north and I’m a Sunni,” began Iraqi Army Maj. Istabraq Ashawani. “That man over there,” he gestured, “is a Shiite. That man over there is Kurdish … everyone in this battalion is a family. We eat together, sleep together and pray together. Anything you hear on the news about us being different is not true,” he exclaimed. “Ask any Juundi or officer … we’re all the same.”

(Story by U.S. Marines Sgt. Andy Hurt 13th MEU)

Still A Gunfight

Badgers Forward:

The next 90 minutes are very long. There are many questions about what is happening, but first and foremost in my mind is the evacuated men. How are they? Where are they going? I also need to know about the equipment and the rest of the patrol, but for now I decide to let my leaders on the ground evaluate and make the decisions they need to and then ask questions.

Gripping post from Badger 6. Yes, things are better in Iraq. Yes, it's still a very dangerous place.

You should just read it.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Coalition Forces Grease 22 Terrorists Sunday

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Coalition forces killed 14 terrorists and detained six suspected terrorists during an operation north of Muqdadiyah Aug. 29-31 targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq operatives and bed-down locations.

While in the target area, Coalition forces heard a blast from a nearby road. The ground forces investigated and found that an improvised explosive device had detonated; ground troops also found a trigger wire leading into a nearby house. Previous intelligence indicated the house was a safe house for foreign terrorists. Inside, Coalition forces detained two suspected terrorists.

Another Coalition forces patrol discovered a terrorist safe house with locks on the outside. Inside were two men who had been bound and beaten. At the house, Coalition forces also found bomb-making materials, extremist propaganda and attack planning materials. Coalition forces called in an air strike to destroy the explosives and the terrorist jail.

The ground forces continued their patrol and received heavy small arms fire from a nearby palm grove. Responding to defend their force from the enemy, Coalition forces returned fire and called for close air support to engage the armed men. After suppressing the enemy fire, the ground forces assessed eight terrorists were killed in the engagement. The ground forces found a nearby bed-down location with extremist propaganda, maps marking planted bombs, military-style assault vests, radios, weapons, mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades, first aid materials and an ambulance.

As Coalition forces moved forward on their target, an armed man charged toward the assault force, which responded by engaging and killing the armed terrorist. The ground forces encountered more small arms fire and returned fire in self-defense. Coalition forces assessed five terrorists were killed in the engagement. Four suspected terrorists were detained in the area.

Intelligence reports and Iraqis living nearby indicated a mosque in the area was controlled by al-Qaeda in Iraq. Local residents also said al-Qaeda brought in a new imam each week and held terrorist meetings after mosque ceremonies. Coalition forces investigated the area and discovered a command trigger wire leading from the mosque to a hole in the road created by an IED detonation. A village elder led a ground element into the mosque, where they took great care in securing the building before departing. Coalition forces found extremist materials in the courtyard.

Just north of Baghdad, Coalition Forces raided a building where terrorists were holding illegal terrorist court proceedings in Tarmiyah. Al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders imposed vigilante law on residents in the Tarmiyah area, often executing them for violating the terrorist group’s rules. Coalition Forces found nine Iraqis inside the building, some who had been there for 30 days, bound and awaiting sentencing by the illegal court system. The former hostages were examined and found to be in relative health.

After liberating the hostages, Coalition Forces moved to secure another building nearby. Surveillance elements observed five men armed with rifles and machine guns maneuver into tactical positions in a nearby palm grove. Defending against the hostile enemy force, Coalition Forces engaged the armed men and called in close air support. Two of the armed terrorists were killed by ground fire, while three were engaged and killed by the aircraft. In the palm grove, Coalition Forces discovered a bed-down location with two suicide vests and other weapons.

Inside one of the buildings, Coalition Forces found 12 tons of ammonium nitrate soaked in propellant, ten drums of petroleum, bomb-making materials, weapons and extremist media. The building also had a complex tunnel system beneath it. Coalition Forces destroyed the volatile explosive materials on site.

Coalition Forces also targeted an al-Qaeda in Iraq cell leader near Salman Pak. As the assault force secured the area, they observed a man with a pistol draw his weapon. Coalition Forces responded by engaging the armed man, killing him. The assault force also engaged and killed two armed men who moved into position against them. The ground forces detained four suspected terrorists for their alleged ties to the terrorist cell.


Website Hosted in Minnesota: How to Join Al Qaeda


Although the site appears to be inactive, one still has to wonder exactly how many US Webhosting companies are allowing this shit to go on. These people have sworn themselves to be our blood enemies and will not stop their global campaign against civilization.

The following are excerpts from the site:

"You feel that you want to carry a weapon, fight, and kill the occupiers, and that it is our duty to call for jihad as much as to call for prayer... All that is required is a firm personal decision to fulfill this obligation, and participation in jihad and the resistance...

"Do you really have to meet Osama bin Laden in person in order to become a jihad fighter? Do you have to be recognized by Al-Qaeda as one of its members to become a jihad fighter? If Al-Qaeda commanders should be killed, would the jihad be eliminated? What would you do if Al-Qaeda did not exist today? How is Osama bin Laden different from you? - [yet] he managed to establish the world jihad organization. Who provided training to Osama bin Laden and Abdallah 'Azzam when they went to Afghanistan to become the first Arab jihad fighters?

"The answers to these questions are the following: I don't have to meet Osama bin Laden to become a jihad fighter. Moreover, there is no need to meet even one jihad fighter to become one. Neither do I need recognition from Al-Qaeda...

I Don’t Want My Son to be Stop-Lossed Either

MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy:

"My son has been stop lossed and his tour has been extended now for the 3rd time. He has been in Baghdad for over a year now and I want him to come home. I want to see him and talk to him. I want to hear his voice. I want him out of that dangerous and violent place. I want those things because he is my son. I check his MySpace page daily just for the reassurance that he’s been online and I can rest knowing he’s okay for one more day. At the same time, I understand that he is a grown man and he made an informed decision to do what he is doing. I could tell he was disappointed about having to stay longer in Iraq each time his tour has been extended. I have jokingly asked him if he wanted me to call his commander and complain. He and I both knew that I was kidding and he laughed. We both knew I was referring to the days when he was very young and I intervened on his behalf in situations. Those days are long gone. They are just a memory and a source of affectionate banter between us now. I would never infantilize my son by doing anything of that sort."

A poignant post by a very, very brave woman.

"Supporting the troops" doesn't just mean overwhelming email servers, sending packages to soldiers stationed overseas and posting on innerweb blogs and message boards. It also means supporting the families who are making a sacrifice most non-military families just can't comprehend.

If you know of a mother, father or other relative with a family member serving in this great cause, say a small prayer for them as you kneel in worship today. They are as brave as their loved one and their sacrifice is as great as any.

A pat on the back. A smile. A "how you doing?" It makes a difference, as my cross-street neighbor will attest. She got her husband back last June.

Anbar Water Projects Online

FALLUJAH, Iraq – Families in a number of rural communities in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province are enjoying filtered drinking water for the first time ever. Master Sgt. Kevin Mayer, Gulf Region Central district, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is overseeing the construction of 22 water treatment facilities along the Euphrates River Valley near Fallujah. Four have been completed and Mayer inspected the 200 cubic meter per hour facility at Shuhada Aug. 21 which now is producing enough water for over 10,000 residents in that area.

Mayer met with the operator, Omar, and the individual who donated the land for the site, Mohammad. Both expressed their community’s thanks. “We hosted a Grand Opening and area families brought food for a feast to celebrate. Our only choice before the facility was to take raw water from the canal, posing serious health risks for our families. This will safeguard our children and grandchildren. Our residents sincerely appreciate the investment made here,” Omar said.

“I’m proud to have been able to give up a piece of my land for this project and happy the way it turned out,” Mohammad said. “This is an important improvement for everyone living here – we all benefit.”

Mayer complimented Mohammad on his unselfish decision to donate the land to help his community. “Stepping up and doing this clearly defines what kind of person you are,” he said.

Mayer is helping construct rural water treatment facilities in communities ranging
in size from 2,500 to 10,000 residents. “This was the kind of work I was hoping to
be involved with, improving the lives of Iraqi families,” he added. Mayer is a member
of the North Dakota National Guard’s 34th Infantry Division and began his oneyear
deployment in April.

In his civilian career, he has served a public works supervisor for 16 years in Casselton, North Dakota, a town of 2,200 residents. He is in charge of the city’s water and sewer system, road work, park repairs, and trash/garbage pickup.

“There’s something very satisfying in helping others.” Mayer appreciates the unwavering support from his family and the entire city of Cassleton. “My wife Fran and my two daughters, Brittany and Brooke, are proud of what I am doing to help rebuild Iraq.”

An odd surge of hope in Baghdad

Times Online's Marie Colvin, in Baghdad:

"When the surge in this part of Baghdad began last March, the area was controlled by Mahdi Army followers of Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shi’ite cleric, who ambushed and killed coalition soldiers seemingly at will. The locals complied with their demands for money or out of fear. The second battalion soldiers who moved in were the first to base themselves in the area since 2003, the year of the invasion. They set themselves up in Base Rustamiyah, an old Iraqi army school, and implanted small companies of men in the worst neighbourhoods. By June they were engulfed in all-out war. Mortars and rockets pounded the base and its small outposts relentlessly. Soldiers were killed and wounded by snipers and roadside bombs. “It was more war than I ever want to see again,” said Major Brent Cummings, the second-in-command. Then the rain of mortars relented and during the past two weeks the roadside bombs, their enemy’s most potent weapon, have almost disappeared."

Stories like this are coming so often now that they threaten to become a bore. While the US media outlets and wire services issue a steady drum beat of "dire" conditions and "stark" developments, "underscoring the deeply unpopular" nature of this operation, Reports from Marie Colvin, Michael Yon, Michael Totten and Matt Sanchez tell a very different, and real, picture.

Report: Pentagon Has 3-Day Plan to Knock Out Iran's Military

Goals of plan are to annihilate Iran's military capability in 72 hours.

The Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert in Sunday’s edition in the Times of London.

Click here to read the full story from the Times of London.

Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for “pinprick strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military,” he said.

Debat was speaking at a meeting organized by The National Interest, a conservative foreign policy journal. He told The Sunday Times that the US military had concluded: “Whether you go for pinprick strikes or all-out military action, the reaction from the Iranians will be the same.” It was, he added, a “very legitimate strategic calculus”.

President George Bush intensified the rhetoric against Iran last week, accusing Tehran of putting the Middle East “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust”. He warned that the US and its allies would confront Iran “before it is too late”.

One Washington source said the “temperature was rising” inside the administration. Bush was “sending a message to a number of audiences”, he said to the Iranians and to members of the United Nations security council who are trying to weaken a tough third resolution on sanctions against Iran for flouting a UN ban on uranium enrichment.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week reported “significant” cooperation with Iran over its nuclear program and said that uranium enrichment had slowed. Tehran has promised to answer most questions from the agency by November, but Washington fears it is stalling to prevent further sanctions. Iran continues to maintain it is merely developing civilian nuclear power.

"It's like the hand of God..."

Multi-National Force - Iraq:

CAMP AL QA’IM — The ground shook ferociously as the 81 millimeter mortar round ripped through it, propelling debris everywhere and destroying any living thing in its area of impact. Forward observers up on a hill viewed this destructive force through their binoculars, ready to call in air support.

Weapons Company, Company C, and Headquarters and Support Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, proved their devastating capability of denying any offensive against Camp Al Qa’im during the Fire Support Coordination Exercise.

“It’s like the hand of God,” said Sgt. Randy L. Whitmore, a Reno, Nev., native, and forward observer field instructor with Headquarters and Support Company. “It reaches down from the heavens and brings death to the wicked.”

“Indirect fire is a combined team effort,” said Gunnery Sgt. J Boyle, an artillery operations chief with the battalion’s Mobile Assault Platoon 3, Weapons Company.

Unlike a rifle, considered an extension of a rifleman, indirect fire is a being combined of three parts.

“Forward observers are the eyes, fire-directional control is the brain, and the gun line is the brawn,” Boyle said.

As much as this mechanical life-taker destroys the enemy’s spirit and fighting force, it is also a savior to its allies.

“In battle, infantry units can use this long-range weapon to give them a bigger cushion, saving lives and keeping people out of harm’s way,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Walk, a fire-directional controller and Sierra Vista, Ariz., native, with MAP 3.

Marines who were new to calling-for-fire trained in the art of forward observation while communicating with fire-directional controllers near the gun line. The FO would use a compass to find the distance and direction for their chosen target, communicating this information to the FDC.

“This is these Marines’ first time calling for fire and they are making a good effort,” said Whitmore.

The FDC would input the direction and distance of the target into a specially designed notebook computer, which outputted data explaining air temperature, barometric pressure, air density and wind speed.

“All four of these affect the trajectory of the mortar,” Boyle said.

The computer can also find the accurate target location comparing the distance of the mortar’s location to the inputted information. This new system gives much more information to the FDC than the M16 plotting board, traditionally used by FDCs.

“You still want to check your grid with the M16 plotting board because the mortar ballistic computer is usually correct but it’s good to double-check your coordinates,” Walk said.

Mortarmen adjusted their M252 81mm mortar tubes to the FDC’s new coordinates. One Marine dropped the 81mm mortar round down the tube, crouching down below the explosive noise while another Marine simultaneously braced the bottom of the tube for a more accurate impact.

”I was really nervous the first time I dropped the mortar down the mortar tube,” said Lance Cpl. Blake Gorecki, a Minneapolis Native, and machine gunner with MAP 3. “My hands were sweating and my heart was racing.”

This long-armed creature, in theory, should work perfectly, hitting the target on precisely the same spot each time; but it is still effective even when it doesn’t hit the target, as long as it impacts near the enemy. The thunderous noise smashes easily through the sound of rifles cracking, reminding the enemy how fragile their bodies really are; if they are still alive after impact.