Iraq is ... like being in 1500 A.D. with cell phones. Check out my buddy's new blog Cop & Soldier thoughts.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
I've seen it in Bosnia, i've seen it in Iraq, and i've seen it in New Orleans - that look from a child young enough to believe you are Superman, or a being from another land capable of the miraculous. Unless you are a fireman, you probably have no idea what it is like to have children stop and watch you pass in rapt attention with a look of awe and admiration on their face.
That look . . . it holds the hope, the wish, the prayer that you will live up to their belief that you can save the day. That you can keep them safe. That you can make it okay.
That look. It is is the glory and the horror.
grumbled by Sergeant Grumpy around or about 01:08
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
US media has handed Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an unbelievable PR victory. Instead of refusing him the press time he was looking for, we have played right into his hands. This is especially true of the students at the supposedly "liberal" institution of Columbia. We can be sure the applause they gave him will be replayed on Iranian TV ad-nauseam.
They cheered a man who sanctions the murder (often by stoning) of homosexuals, men and women who have sex out of wedlock (in one case a couple was killed for holding hands in public), has advocated the destruction of Israel, and questions the Holocaust. Apparently, being a liberal does not mean you are a defender of Human Rights, only that you support anyone who opposes US policy. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Che all mass murders who were darlings of the left. Dictators around the world can take comfort from their concern for liberty.
In Iran, the media response was to celebrate Ahmadinejad's defiant visit to the "Lion's Den". Below are some quotes from the official Iranian news agency:
- amid standing ovation of the audience that had attended the hall where the Iranian President was to give his lecture as of early hours of the day
- The audience on repeated occasion applauded Ahmadinejad when he touched on international crises.
- Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday that the US has turned to a large prison where the media are keeping the American people away from truth.
- "Iranians are the freest and the most intellectual nation in the world and are well informed of the daily news."
A man is known by the company he keeps . . .
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe discuss the need for unity of the developing states against the US and British neocolonialism.
With President-for-life Assad
Best Buddies Mahmie and Hewie
Just can't keep my hands off those Latin Lefties!!!!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
It's been a little while since my last post, but really there isn't a lot to say. The last few weeks have been non-stop weapons and tactics training. So much so that I have probably shot more in the last 2 weeks than in my entire Army career - I am talking about 10 solid days of shooting all day. Not sitting around all day to take your turn shooting 40 rounds, but shooting the whole day with multiple weapons systems. I also got to attend a prestigious shooting school in the Rocky Mountains I may post about in the future - but probably not [;)
This post is also a test of Blogger's e-mail posting since I can't be sure the Army won't turn off access to blogger.com, so I want to be sure I can get e-mail posts out. The only other problem will be internet access, since I will be forward.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Sergeant Grumpy is going to be away for a while, I'll post again as soon as feasible.
With the protests in DC recently, and the antics of MoveOn.org I am reminded of how fascist some on the far left can be. The have captured the Dems agenda thru aggressive intimidation. Many heroes of the left were mass murders, and if we had listened to these fools millions of people would still be enslaved by Communism in Europe.
And the recent desecration of the Vietnam Wall reminds me of a warning we received months ago at our Family Readiness conference as we were leaving home. We were advised to tell our families not to put out yellow ribbons or blue star flags. The reason it seems is that some sick people have been targeting homes with either of these and telling them their soldier had been killed in Iraq, or falsely asking for money for veterans. Sick and cowardly. I'd like to get my hands on one of these SOBs.
grumbled by Sergeant Grumpy around or about 19:10
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Rant Warning! OK, so I haven't been posting these weekly, but hey, there has been plenty of absurdity, trust me. The challenge is always where to start. So here's a few recent choice items.
- My favorite quote from last week was "Ok, that's enough. Don't ask any more questions, it's complicated" So, let me get this straight - it's complicated, so in order for me to understand what it is I am supposed be doing I should not ask any questions. Hmm. Or is it that you don't understand and don't want a Staff Sergeant making you look stupid.
- Most good leaders understand their subordinates are the one who make them succeed or fail, and seek out their buy-in and advice for major decisions - often we aren't even informed of major decisions until after the fact.
- Being told we couldn't go to a questioning class because we have a lot of range time in September we can't miss. The problem is the training was in August. Trying to explain that to the SGM only gets you called a "whiner."
- Sending the guys with the most experience to training and holding those who could use the training most in the rear to do admin bull.
- Then sending off to another school the one guy who knows how to do the admin crap.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Today I am adding Michael J. Totten to the Sergeant's Required Reading. Not that he needs my endorsement, nor that he is just earning it - it has been delienquency on my part for not adding his site sooner. But with the workload lately I am only able to blog because I can't sleep.
I encourage everyone to read Michael's piece Anbar Awakens Part I: The Battle of Ramadi, especialy Soldiers going down range now with us. It provides great back story to the points being argued over in Washington the last two days.
Ramadi is the capital of Anbar, and the Al Qaeda proclaimed "Capital of the Islamic State of Iraq.” This is the province and city those arguing for withdraw pointed to as hopeless and proof we would never suceed in Iraq. I sat dumbfounded today as I listened to those same persons write off the success in one of the worst areas of Iraq because it is primarily Sunni. Meaning these tactics just won't work with Shia or mixed areas.
So if we lose we lose, and if we win we lose? Again politicians suck. Even if you favor withdrawl don't buy everything these people are selling, the truth is that both extremes are full of it.
Anyhow, do read his post for some on the ground truth you won't hear elsewhere.
“I didn’t realize until I got here that the problem in Anbar Province was 100 percent Al Qaeda,” he said. “The old Baath Party insurgency here is completely finished. That war was won and Americans, including me, had no idea it even happened.”
If you want to dig in more jump over to Michael Yon's four part Ghosts of Anbar - although it will make more sense if you have a basic understanding of Counterinsurgency(pdf), it stands well on it's own.
Read and discuss amongst yourselves.
Monday, September 10, 2007
I can't add much to the debate following the Petraeus / Crocker report, other than to say the attacks on the General's integrity are below despicable. Soooo, instead I thought I would share some humor.
One thing I didn't mention from my Iraq trip is the latrine poetry - we've all seen it, whether in High School, airports, or sports venues. But I have to tell you, and my brothers and sisters in arms will vouch for me here - nowhere has it been elevated to such an art form as in the military.
It was the second thing everyone was talking about after the heat - did you see the art work in stall 6, yeah, what about the Nasty Girls rant in stall 2. But what seems to be as omnipresent as "I was here" are Chuck Norris facts.
What the hell are Chuck Norris facts? Well, here a few examples:
- Chuck Norris doesn't shoot erhabee (Iraqi for terrorist), he stares them down until they explode.
- Chuck Norris does not sleep, he waits.
- Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried. Ever.
- The quickest way to a man's heart is with Chuck Norris' fist.
- Contrary to popular belief, America is not a democracy, it is a Chucktatorship.
- Time waits for no man. Unless that man is Chuck Norris.
Can't get enough and want more, well someone has taken the time to compile Chuck Norris facts for your reading pleasure.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Well the latest here is that our unit is being carved up, all of our teams are being attached to a different company, and about half of the non-eighteen series guys are being sent either to battalion or echelons above reality. I am the only intel Soldier left, and so all the admin crap T had been doing dropped in my lap. I hate admin crap. Usually, when something like this is happening to a unit, people fight to stay on the team, but not here, no. Everyone wants out, and I'm stuck. My reward for work well done maybe?
Not sure where I want to be now. On the one hand, I will be close enough to the action to be able to influence action on the ground, but only in one small geographic area. Being at a higher echelon doesn't always translate into great impact, since every unit distrusts the echelon above it, and are convinced they are out of touch with reality.
There's a moral here about human interaction, something that holds as true on the battlefield as it did when I was developing software with remote teams. Nothing replaces meeting people face to face. I could provide a team with the same intel as the analyst at battalion, but because he never leaves his desk and walks over to the team room, they think "he doesn't know shit, sitting up there with his head up his 4th point of contact"
That's my ramblings for the day, in the end it's not up to me where I go, but it does suck having all my friends pulled off the team.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
I am just back from a short trip to Iraq to survey the area my unit will be deploying to and doing some initial coordination with the unit we will be replacing. This is a standard thing, but it is still a lot of travel time compared to a relatively short time on the ground. Nonetheless, we learn a lot about our AO, the current situation and what short of equipment and facilities we will inherit.
A quick overview of the trip is that we flew from Ft Campbell to Kuwait with a stop in Europe on a chartered commercial aircraft. All the military chartered commercial trips I have been on have been with airlines I have never heard of, this time it was North American Airlines, which oddly flies to African cities. We landed at Kuwait International and were transported to an Air Force base awaiting a flight to Baghdad.
What Kuwait is like I couldn’t tell you, except for the sand and heat, because that’s all we saw. When I woke up the first morning we were there, and stepped out of our air-conditioned tent, I couldn’t see it was so blinding bright – and I had my dark WileyXs on! The heat was as bad as any I’ve felt in the summer of Arizona, like sticking your head in an oven and trying to breathe without burning your lungs. Eventually we caught a hot, sweaty flight on a C-130 in full combat gear to Baghdad International. There we rested for a few hours, then assembled at an HLZ to await birds to take us to our destination. We stood, sat, and finally laid there for hours on the tarmac, under the moon and stars of hot dusty Baghdad night while our pick up time was moved several times. Then almost without warning two birds came in fast overhead and the rotor wash blew our gear (and some of us) all over the place.
Despite all the BS and deprivation we have to put up with, we also get to do some of the coolest shit in the world – and for me the helo flights in and out of our Firebase were one of those moments. Flying over the Iraqi countryside with the doors open and lights off, all of us sitting in silence, - well it is hard to explain what that’s like. Much like my 1st jump I guess. Anyway, that’s how we got in, and pretty much the reverse of that is how we got out.
While en route we were put up in one of Saddam's old palaces, and got to visit a couple of others that are occupied by our forces. The places were so overdone with marble and chandeliers, just what you would expect from a thug-king. Opulence without a trace of elegance. And of course you could only imagine what horrors may have occurred there, especially in any of the homes used by his sadistic sons.
But the base that was our real destination was nothing like that. It reminded me very much of Camp Doboj, where I served for a while in Bosnia. Not that it looked like it at all, but in the way it was primitive - no amazing chow hall run by KBR, no PX, no movie tent, no top-notch gym. What it lacks in facilities though it makes up for in freedom, like the fact there are no Sergeants Major uniform police - the type I ran into in Baghdad who will spend 18 months in country and never leave their air conditioned office, and whose biggest concern is whether or not my boots are properly bloused.
The days spent at with the Soldiers we will replace was productive, and there was a ton of information to digest, a lot of our questions were answered, but of course, a whole new set now confronts us, and I expect there will be a lot of changes soon.
"I can't help but feel a little betrayed"
The unit we will replace is not in the current limelight of the fight against Al-Qaeda in Iraq, they are focused on the other side of the insurgency - the Shia militias, and their support networks. These folks are primarily responsible for the deadly IEDs called EFPs, for which there is really no defense. These nasty devices have killed some of their friends, and they want nothing but to take these networks apart. But our current focus on the Sunnis and our aversion to confronting al-Maliki over his support of Sadr and the Shia militias makes it very difficult to go after these guys.
So it is politically expedient to let our Soldiers and Marines die rather than to deploy the extra troops needs to shut down the Iranian border, patrol the areas the British have given up on, attack the Shia when they attack us, and force Sadr to finally decide to move into the political process or get wiped out. And why we tolerate Iranian involvement to me borders on traitorous.
I know many may believe Iranian involvement is overblown or fabricated by our current leadership, but for the Soldiers tracking these issues in Iraq there isn't any question. And that is what generated the quote above.