The Command Post
Iraq
June 29, 2005
Transcript: Bush Speech on Iraq

via Fox News

Thank you and good evening. I am pleased to visit Fort Bragg — “Home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces.” It is an honor to speak before you tonight. My greatest responsibility as president is to protect the American people, and that is your calling as well. I thank you for your service, your courage and your sacrifice. I thank your families, who support you in your vital work. The soldiers and families of Fort Bragg have contributed mightily to our efforts to secure our country and promote peace. Americais grateful — and so is your commander-in-chief.

The troops here and across the world are fighting a global war on terror. This war reached our shores on September 11, 2001. The terrorists who attacked us — and the terrorists we face — murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent. Their aim is to remake the Middle East in their own grim image of tyranny and oppression — by toppling governments, driving us out of the region, and exporting terror.

To achieve these aims, they have continued to kill — in Madrid, Istanbul, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Bali, and elsewhere. The terrorists believe that free societies are essentially corrupt and decadent, and with a few hard blows they can force us to retreat. They are mistaken. After September 11, I made a commitment to the American people: This Nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will take the fight to the enemy. We will defend our freedom.

Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war. Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home. The commander in charge of Coalition operations in Iraq — who is also senior commander at this base — General John Vines, put it well the other day. He said: “We either deal with terrorism and this extremism abroad, or we deal with it when it comes to us.”

Our mission in Iraq is clear. We are hunting down the terrorists. We are helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror. We are advancing freedom in the broader Middle East. We are removing a source of violence and instability — and laying the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren.

The work in Iraq is difficult and dangerous. Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed. Every picture is horrifying — and the suffering is real. Amid all this violence, I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it, and it is vital to the future security of our country. And tonight I will explain the reasons why.

Some of the violence you see in Iraq is being carried out by ruthless killers who are converging on Iraq to fight the advance of peace and freedom. Our military reports that we have killed or captured hundreds of foreign fighters in Iraq who have come from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and other nations. They are making common cause with criminal elements, Iraqi insurgents, and remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime who want to restore the old order. They fight because they know that the survival of their hateful ideology is at stake. They know that as freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty as well. And when the Middle East grows in democracy, prosperity, and hope, the terrorists will lose their sponsors, lose their recruits, and lose their hopes for turning that region into a base for attacks on America and our allies around the world.

Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate. Hear the words of Usama bin Laden: “This Third World War … is raging” in Iraq. “The whole world is watching this war.” He says it will end in “victory and glory or misery and humiliation.”

The terrorists know that the outcome will leave them emboldened, or defeated. So, they are waging a campaign of murder and destruction. And there is no limit to the innocent lives they are willing to take.

We see the nature of the enemy in terrorists who exploded car bombs along a busy shopping street in Baghdad — including one outside a mosque. We see the nature of the enemy in terrorists who sent a suicide bomber to a teaching hospital in Mosul. And we see the nature of the enemy in terrorists who behead civilian hostages and broadcast their atrocities for the world to see.

These are savage acts of violence — but they have not brought the terrorists any closer to achieving their strategic objectives. The terrorists — both foreign and Iraqi — failed to stop the transfer of sovereignty. They failed to break our Coalition and force a mass withdrawal by our allies. They failed to incite an Iraqi civil war. They failed to prevent free elections. They failed to stop the formation of a democratic Iraqi government that represents all of Iraq's diverse population. And they failed to stop Iraqis from signing up in large numbers with the police forces and the army to defend their new democracy.

The lesson of this experience is clear: The terrorists can kill the innocent — but they cannot stop the advance of freedom. The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September 11 … if we abandon the Iraqi people to men like Zarqawi … and if we yield the future of the Middle East to men like bin Laden. For the sake of our Nation's security, this will not happen on my watch.

A little over a year ago, I spoke to the Nation and described our Coalition's goal in Iraq. I said that America's mission in Iraq is to defeat an enemy and give strength to a friend — a free, representative government that is an ally in the war on terror, and a beacon of hope in a part of the world that is desperate for reform. I outlined the steps we would take to achieve this goal: We would hand authority over to a sovereign Iraqi government … we would help Iraqis hold free elections by January 2005 … we would continue helping Iraqis rebuild their nation's infrastructure and economy … we would encourage more international support for Iraq's democratic transition … and we would enable Iraqis to take increasing responsibility for their own security and stability.

In the past year, we have made significant progress:

One year ago today, we restored sovereignty to the Iraqi people.

In January 2005, more than eight million Iraqi men and women voted in elections that were free and fair — and took place on time.

We continued our efforts to help them rebuild their country. Rebuilding a country after three decades of tyranny is hard — and rebuilding while at war is even harder. Our progress has been uneven — but progress is being made. We are improving roads, and schools, and health clinics … and working to improve basic services like sanitation, electricity, and water. And together with our allies, we will help the new Iraqi government deliver a better life for its citizens.

In the past year, the international community has stepped forward with vital assistance. Some thirty nations have troops in Iraq, and many others are contributing non-military assistance. The United Nations is in Iraq to help Iraqis write a constitution and conduct their next elections. Thus far, some 40 countries and three international organizations have pledged about 34 billion dollars in assistance for Iraqi reconstruction. More than 80 countries and international organizations recently came together in Brussels to coordinate their efforts to help Iraqis provide for their security and rebuild their country. And next month, donor countries will meet in Jordan to support Iraqi reconstruction. Whatever our differences in the past, the world understands that success in Iraq is critical to the security of all our nations. As German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said at the White House yesterday, “There can be no question a stable and democratic Iraq is in the vested interest of not just Germany, but also Europe.”

Finally, we have continued our efforts to equip and train Iraqi Security Forces. Wehave made gains in both the number and quality of those forces. Today Iraq has more than 160,000 security forces trained and equipped for a variety of missions. Iraqi forces have fought bravely — helping to capture terrorists and insurgents in Najaf, Samarra, Fallujah, and Mosul. And in the past month, Iraqi forces have led a major anti-terrorist campaign in Baghdad called Operation Lightning — which has led to the capture of hundreds of suspected insurgents. Like free people everywhere, Iraqis want to be defended by their own countrymen — and we are helping Iraqis assume those duties.

The progress in the past year has been significant — and we have a clear path forward. To complete the mission, we will continue to hunt down the terrorists and insurgents. To complete the mission, we will prevent Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists from turning Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban — a safe haven from which they could launch attacks on America and our friends. And the best way to complete the mission is to help Iraqis build a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself.

So our strategy going forward has both a military track and a political track.

The principal task of our military is to find and defeat the terrorists — and that is why we are on the offense. And as we pursue the terrorists, our military is helping to train Iraqi Security Forces so that they can defend their people and fight the enemy on their own. Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.

We have made progress — but we have a lot more work to do. Today Iraqi Security Forces are at different levels of readiness. Some are capable of taking on the terrorists and insurgents by themselves. A larger number can plan and execute anti-terrorist operations with Coalition support. The rest are forming and not yet ready to participate fully in security operations. Our task is to make the Iraqi units fully capable and independent. We are building up Iraqi Security Forces as quickly as possible, so they can assume the lead in defeating the terrorists and insurgents.

Our Coalition is devoting considerable resources and manpower to this critical task. Thousands of Coalition troops are involved in the training and equipping of Iraqi Security Forces. NATO is establishing a military academy near Baghdad to train the next generation of Iraqi military leaders — and 17 nations are contributing troops to the NATO training mission. Iraqi Army and Police are being trained by personnel from Italy, Germany, Ukraine, Turkey, Poland, Romania, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Today dozens of nations are working toward a common objective: an Iraq that can defend itself, defeat its enemies, and secure its freedom.

To further prepare Iraqi forces to fight the enemy on their own, we are taking three new steps:

First, we are partnering Coalition units with Iraqi units. These Coalition-Iraqi teams are conducting operations together in the field. These combined operations are giving Iraqis a chance to experience how the most professional armed forces in the world operate in combat.

Second, we are embedding Coalition “Transition Teams” inside Iraqi units. These teams are made up of Coalition officers and non-commissioned officers who live, work, and fight together with their Iraqi comrades. Under U.S. command, they are providing battlefield advice and assistance to Iraqi forces during combat operations. Between battles, they are assisting the Iraqis with important skills — such as urban combat, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance techniques.

Third, we are working with the Iraqi Ministries of Interior and Defense to improve their capabilities to coordinate anti-terrorist operations. We are helping them develop command and control structures. We are also providing them with civilian and military leadership training, so Iraq's new leaders can more effectively manage their forces in the fight against terror.

The new Iraqi Security Forces are proving their courage every day. More than 2,000 members of the Iraqi Security Forces have given their lives in the line of duty. Thousands more have stepped forward, and are now in training to serve their nation. With each engagement, Iraqi soldiers grow more battle-hardened, and their officers grow more experienced. We have learned that Iraqis are courageous and that they need additional skills. That is why a major part of our mission is to train them so they can do the fighting and our troops can come home.

I recognize that Americans want our troops to come home as quickly as possible. So do I. Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis — who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops — who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy — who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out. We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed — and not a day longer.

Some Americans ask me, if completing the mission is so important, why don't you send more troops? If our commanders on the ground say we need more troops, I will send them. But our commanders tell me they have the number of troops they need to do their job. Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight. And sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever — when we are in fact working for the day when Iraq can defend itself and we can leave. As we determine the right force level, our troops can know that I will continue to be guided by the advice that matters — the sober judgment of our military leaders.

The other critical element of our strategy is to help ensure that the hopes Iraqis expressed at the polls in January are translated into a secure democracy. The Iraqi people are emerging from decades of tyranny and oppression. Under the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Shia and Kurds were brutally oppressed — and the vast majority of Sunni Arabs were also denied their basic rights while senior regime officials enjoyed the privileges of unchecked power. The challenge facing Iraqis today is to put this past behind them, and come together to build a new Iraq that includes all its people.

They are doing that by building the institutions of a free society — a society based on freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and equal justice under law. The Iraqis have held free elections and established a Transitional National Assembly. The next step is to write a good constitution that enshrines these freedoms in permanent law. The Assembly plans to expand its constitutional drafting committee to include more Sunni Arabs. Many Sunnis who opposed the January elections are now taking part in the democratic process — and that is essential to Iraq's future.

After a constitution is written, the Iraqi people will have a chance to vote on it. If approved, Iraqis will go to the polls again, to elect a new government under their new, permanent constitution. By taking these critical steps and meeting their deadlines, Iraqis will bind their multiethnic society together in a democracy that respects the will of the majority and protects minority rights.

As Iraqis grow confident that the democratic progress they are making is real and permanent, more will join the political process. And as Iraqis see that their military can protect them, more will step forward with vital intelligence to help defeat the enemies of a free Iraq. The combination of political and military reform will lay a solid foundation for a free and stable Iraq.

As Iraqis make progress toward a free society, the effects are being felt beyond Iraq's borders. Before our Coalition liberated Iraq, Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons. Today the leader of Libya has given up his chemical and nuclear weapons programs. Across the broader Middle East, people are claiming their freedom. In the last few months, we have witnessed elections in the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon. These elections are inspiring democratic reformers in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Our strategy to defend ourselves and spread freedom is working. The rise of freedom in this vital region will eliminate the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder — and make our Nation safer.

We have more work to do, and there will be tough moments that test America's resolve. We are fighting against men with blind hatred — and armed with lethal weapons — who are capable of any atrocity. They wear no uniform; they respect no laws of warfare or morality. They take innocent lives to create chaos for the cameras. They are trying to shake our will in Iraq — just as they tried to shake our will on September 11, 2001. They will fail. The terrorists do not understand America. The American people do not falter under threat — and we will not allow our future to be determined by car bombers and assassins.

America and our friends are in a conflict that demands much of us. It demands the courage of our fighting men and women … it demands the steadfastness of our allies … and it demands the perseverance of our citizens. We accept these burdens — because we know what is at stake. We fight today, because Iraq now carries the hope of freedom in a vital region of the world — and the rise of democracy will be the ultimate triumph over radicalism and terror. And we fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens — and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we will fight them there … we will fight them across the world — and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won.

America has done difficult work before. From our desperate fight for independence, to the darkest days of a Civil War, to the hard-fought battles against tyranny in the 20th Century, there were many chances to lose our heart, our nerve, or our way. But Americans have always held firm, because we have always believed in certain truths. We know that if evil is not confronted, it gains in strength and audacity, and returns to strike us again. We know that when the work is hard, the proper response is not retreat, it is courage. And we know that this great ideal of human freedom is entrusted to us in a special way — and that the ideal of liberty is worth defending.

In this time of testing, our troops can know: The American people are behind you. Next week, our Nation has an opportunity to make sure that support is felt by every soldier, sailor, airman, coast guardsman, and Marine at every outpost across the world. This Fourth of July, I ask you to find a way to thank the men and women defending our freedom — by flying the flag … sending letters to our troops in the field … or helping the military family down the street. The Department of Defense has set up a website — AmericaSupportsYou.mil. You can go there to learn about private efforts in your own community. At this time when we celebrate our freedom, let us stand with the men and women who defend us all.

To the soldiers in this hall, and our servicemen and women across the globe: I thank you for your courage under fire and your service to our Nation. I thank our military families — the burden of war falls especially hard on you. In this war, we have lost good men and women who left our shores to defend freedom — and did not live to make the journey home. I have met with families grieving the loss of loved ones who were taken from us too soon. I have been inspired by their strength in the face of such great loss. We pray for the families. And the best way to honor the lives that have been given in this struggle is to complete the mission.

I thank those of you who have re-enlisted in an hour when your country needs you. And to those watching tonight who are considering a military career, there is no higher calling than service in our Armed Forces. We live in freedom because every generation has produced patriots willing to serve a cause greater than themselves. Those who serve today are taking their rightful place among the greatest generations that have worn our Nation's uniform. When the history of this period is written, the liberation of Afghanistan and the liberation of Iraq will be remembered as great turning points in the story of freedom.

After September 11, 2001, I told the American people that the road ahead would be difficult — and that we would prevail. Well, it has been difficult. And we are prevailing. Our enemies are brutal — but they are no match for the United States of America — and they are no match for the men and women of the United States military.

Thank you. And may God bless America.

June 28, 2005
Car Bomb Kills Iraqi Shiite Legislator
A suicide car bomb killed an Iraqi Shiite legislator, his son and two bodyguards near Baghdad as they were headed to a parliamentary session in the capital Tuesday, officials said.

Dhari Ali al-Fayadh and his son were killed while traveling from their farm in Rashidiya, some 20 miles northeast of Baghdad, said legislator Hummam Hammoudi, who heads the parliamentary committee charged with drafting Iraq's new constitution.

Two of al-Fayadh's bodyguards were also killed, and four were wounded, police Maj. Falah al-Mihamadawi said.

Al-Fayadh, who was in his late 80s, was the oldest member of the new parliament that was installed about three months ago. He had acted as speaker until one was elected.

He was a member of the country's largest Shiite political party, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The party is the senior member in the ruling coalition.

Read more…

June 27, 2005
Good News from Iraq, 27 June 2005 (vol. 30)

Note: Also available at “The Opinion Journal” and Chrenkoff. Many thanks to James Taranto, Joe Katzman, and all of you who supported the series through all its 30 installments so far.

A prominent politician has recently penned this opinion piece for a major American daily:

Today I am traveling to Brussels to join representatives of more than 80 governments and institutions in sending a loud and clear message of support for the political transition in Iraq.

A year ago, in Resolution 1546, the U.N. Security Council set out the timetable that Iraq, with the assistance of the United Nations and the international community, was expected to fulfill. The Brussels conference is a chance to reassure the Iraqi people that the international community stands with them in their brave efforts to rebuild their country, and that we recognize how much progress has been made in the face of daunting challenges…

As the process moves forward, there will no doubt be frustrating delays and difficult setbacks. But let us not lose sight of the fact that all over Iraq today, Iraqis are debating nearly every aspect of their political future…

In a media-hungry age, visibility is often regarded as proof of success. But this does not necessarily hold true in Iraq. Even when, as with last week's agreement, the results of our efforts are easily seen by all, the efforts themselves must be undertaken quietly and away from the cameras.

Who is this unreconstructed optimist who, going against most media reports, refuses to acknowledge that Iraq is fast descending into hell? If you answered George Bush, Dick Chaney or Condoleezza Rice, you're wrong. If you answered Tony Blair, you're wrong too. The correct answer is Kofi Annan.

Two years and a democratic election later, the international community, deeply sceptical if not hostile at first, is now increasingly coming onboard to help Iraq make the transition to a normal country. While stories of violence dominate the news, these international and domestic efforts to rebuild Iraq after decades of physical and political devastation continue to pick up pace. Below is a selection of past two weeks' worth of stories which, if get reported at all, usually drowned by the tide of negativity.

U.S. Helicopter Crashes in Iraq
A U.S. military helicopter crashed around 11 a.m. in a field north of Baghdad Monday morning, killing two people, FOX News has confirmed.

The helicopter's pilot was killed immediately; the copilot was alive until a second phosphorus explosion occurred, FOX News has learned. It's not clear if the second victim, the copilot, died on the ground or on the way to being treated. U.S. military witnesses told FOX News that the apache helicopter may have been shot down.

The helicopter went down in Mishahda, 20 miles north of the capital. The helicopter was in flames on the ground. Heavy gunfire was heard at the time of the crash, and white smoke billowed from the helicopter before it burst into flames and slammed into the ground. Gunfire was also heard after the crash.

The military confirmed that a Task Force Baghdad helicopter crashed at the time in question in northwest of Baghdad.

Read more…

Winds Iraq Report: June 27/05

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.

TOP TOPICS

  • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld highlighted a hard fact in Baghdad on Sunday: success in Iraq rests not on America defeating the insurgency, but turning Iraq over to native forces trained well enough to withstand an insurgency that is likely to last many years.
  • Terrorists hit Mosul hard over the weekend, killing dozens with suicide attacks on a police barracks, an army base, and a hospital. Meanwhile the propaganda war heated up with the ambush of a convoy in Fallujah that killed six Marines and Sailors, four of whom were female. The attack caused the greatest loss of female troops since the Second World War.

Other Topics Today Include: a new martyrs's brigade; Zarqawi aide killed; reconstruction highlights; Carnival of the Liberated; Iraq wants Syria shut down, backs US vs. Iran; President Bush makes the case for staying the course; Kucinich & the insurgents; Tariq Aziz takes a pass on Saddam trial; another milblogger heads to Iraq.

Read the Rest…

June 24, 2005
Marines Killed in Fallujah
A suicide bomber in a vehicle killed two U.S. Marines and left four troops unaccounted for when it exploded near their convoy in Falluja, the volatile city west of Baghdad, a U.S. military official said Friday.

Thursday night's blast wounded 13, the military said.

Some of the casualties were women, the official said. The troops were assigned to the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force.

A Marine statement confirmed two Marines were killed and listed three Marines and a sailor as “duty status whereabouts unknown.”

Earlier reports said as many as six Marines were killed.

Read more…

June 23, 2005
15 Killed in 15 Minutes
Three car bombs killed at least 15 people and wounded 50 more in Baghdad this morning, including a boy who appeared to have lost a leg.

The co-ordinated attack on the central Baghdad shopping district of Karradah followed last night's bloodshed that included four car bombs within 15 minutes of each other, killing at least 23 people in the Shula district of western Baghdad.

Police said a suicide car bomber killed three policemen and
wounded two when he drove at their patrol at around 7am (0300 GMT). Two other cars exploded in the same area, each several minutes apart, one close to a Shia mosque.

Read more…

June 20, 2005
Winds Field Report: A Springtime of Ops in Iraq

Over the course of the past week, Coalition forces conducted four separate battalion size plus operations in Iraq, two in Anbar - Spear in Karabilah and Dagger near lake Thar Thar, one south of Mosul in Tal Afar, and one south of Baghdad - White Shield. Force estimates for Spear and Dagger are at about 1,000 combined Coalition and Iraqi forces each, about 4,000 troops for the Tal Afar operation and 2,000 troops, split between American and Iraqi forces for White Shield.

The past week of operations follows a spring of military offensives designed to disrupt the enemy’s activities in the Anbar province, starting with Matador, which was followed by New Market and then Thunder/Lightning in Baghdad. The difference is the earlier operations were conducted sequentially while the past week’s operations are being conducted simultaneously, indicating American forces are being freed up at greater numbers than in the past.

Wretchard at Belmont Club asks “So where do are US forces getting the manpower to up the pace of attack?” He looks at the options, and concludes the spare forces are due to Iraqi forces entering the battle. Omar at Iraq the Model points us to an article which states an Iraq brigade has assumed most of the responsibilities the province of Salahideen, which includes the cities of Tikrit (Saddam’s home town and tip of the Sunni Triangle), Beiji and Dujail.

Read the Rest…

Winds Iraq Report: June 20/05

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.

TOP TOPICS

  • The pressure to withdraw from Iraq is growing. Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike are starting to raise the issue in higher profile forae. War supporters argue withdrawal would throw away all the United States has sacrificed to date, while war opponents argue that staying in Iraq is simply throwing away more lives in a hopeless cause. General John Abazaid notes that he can find more confidence in the Iraq mission in Iraq than in Washington. Doubtless the Iraqi people will watch this debate closely.

Other Topics Today Include: more on Mosul; Raven 42; the right number of troops for Iraq; another Al Qaeda member arrested; where are the Iraqis; Carnival of the Liberated; French journalist freed; the Downing Street Memo; new ambassador for Iraq.

Read the Rest…

Suicide Bomber Kills 20 Police
A suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of morning roll call today outside traffic police headquarters in the northern Kurdish city of Irbil, killing at least 20 and wounding 50 more, police said.

The bomber disguised himself as a policeman and joined the early morning gathering of some 200 traffic policemen, said police Col. Mohammed Saleh and Lt. Col. Abdul-Salam Zibari.

Read more…

June 19, 2005
Suicide Bomber Kills 23
Wearing a vest of explosives, a suicide bomber detonated himself and killed at least 23 people Sunday at a crowded Baghdad restaurant where Iraqi police and security forces were eating lunch, Iraqi police said.

Seven police officers were among the dead, and 36 people were hurt, police said. The blast wounded 16 police officers.

The Kabob restaurant is in central Baghdad near a checkpoint leading to the heavily fortified Green Zone, seat of Iraq's government and U.S. operations.

Read more…

Downing Street Excerpts

The Boston Globe has excerpts of the Downing Street memos here.

Militaryphotos.net

Here's an interesting site: Militaryphotos.net. Iraq galleries here; Afghan galleries here.

Posted By Alan at 08:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Other Awards For Raven 42 From The 617th

As a follow-up to this post comes this email from Joseph Shelley at Camp Victory, Iraq:

Alan and Michele

I totally enjoy your web site. Your Story on SGT Hester is great and she is a Great American warrior. I just wanted to let you know that the following Soldiers were also recognized for their Achievements during this battle. SGT Hester and SPC Pullen are both female, SPC Mike was the Medic and all the others are Military Policemen.

Here are the other troops recognized at the same ceremony:

SSG Nein, Silver Star
SGT Morris, ARCOM v/V
SPC Casey, Purple Heart and Bronze Star w/V
SGT Rivera, Purple Heart and ARCOM w/V he is recovering from injuries in KY
PFC Mack, Purple Heart and ARCOM w/V he is recovering from injuries in KY
SPC Haynes, Purple Heart and Bronze Star w/V recovering from injuries in KY
SPC Mike, Silver Star
SGT Hester, Silver Star
SPC Pullen, Bronze Star w/V
SPC Ordunez, ARCOM w/V

Speedy recoveries, and thanks for stepping into the breach.

Posted By Alan at 08:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
June 17, 2005
Kentucky Woman Earns Silver Star

Congrats Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester!

The Online Edition of Stars and Stripes reports this Hunter of Kentucky hails from Bowling Green and serves our Great Commonwealth in the Kentucky National Guard. She was serving our Country in March of this year when a bunch of barbarians insurgents ambushed her unit on a dead end road. Her actions in the resulting battle has earned her the Silver Star. She is the first woman to earn the award since WWII.

Sergeant, here’s a Hunters of Kentucky for you(with appropriate mods):

The Hunters of Kentucky.

Ye gentlemen and ladies fair, who grace this famous city,
Just listen, if you’ve time to spare, while I rehearse a ditty;
And for the opportunity conceive yourselves quite lucky,
For ’tis not often that you see a hunter from Kentucky.

Oh, Kentucky! the hunters of Kentucky.
Oh, Kentucky! the hunters of Kentucky.

We are a hardy free-born race, each man to fear a stranger,
Whate’er the game we join in chase, despising toil and danger;
And if a daring foe annoys, whate’er his strength and forces,
We’ll show him that Kentucky boys girls are alligator horses.

Oh, Kentucky, &c.

I s’pose you’ve read it in the prints, how Packenham attempted
To make old Hickory Jackson wince, but soon his schemes repented;
For we with rifles ready cocked, thought such occasion lucky,
And soon around the general flocked the hunters of Kentucky.

You’ve heard, I s’pose, how New Orleans is famed for wealth and beauty
There’s girls of every hue, it seems, from snowy white to sooty.
So Packenham he made his brags, if he in fight was lucky,
He’d have their girls and cotton bags in spite of old Kentucky.

But Jackson he was wide awake, and wasn’t scared at trifles,
For well he knew what aim we take with our Kentucky rifles;
So he led us down to Cyprus swamp, the ground was low and mucky,
There stood John Bull in martial pomp, and here was old Kentucky.

A bank was raised to hide our breast, not that we thought of dying,
But then we always like to rest unless the game is flying;
Behind it stood our little force, none wished it to be greater,
For every man woman was half a horse and half an alligator.

They did not let our patience tire, before they showed their faces—
We did not choose to waist our fire, So snugly kept our places;
But when so near to see them wink, we thought it time to stop ‘em,
And ‘twould have done you good I think to see Kentuckians drop ’em

They found at last ’twas vain to fight, where lead was all their booty,
And so they wisely took to flight, and left us all our beauty,
And now if danger e’er annoys, remember what our trade is,
Just send for us Kentucky boysgirls, and we’ll protect your ladiesboys.

Sunnis Accept Compromise

This NY Times report seems like it should be a big deal:

Iraqi political leaders broke weeks of deadlock on Thursday, with Sunni Arabs accepting a compromise offer to increase their representation on the Shiite-led parliamentary committee that is to draft a constitution.

The agreement was a significant step forward in Iraq's political process, which has been mired in arguments between Shiite and Sunni Arabs over how many Sunnis to include on the committee. Still, it fell short of being final, as political leaders have not yet agreed which Sunnis would be chosen as members.

The offer - 15 additional seats and 10 adviser positions for Sunni Arabs - was first made last week, but was rejected by many Sunnis, who said they wanted more seats. Since then, Shiite committee members sweetened the offer, saying the committee would approve the new constitution by consensus and not by vote, making the precise number of seats held by each group less important.

June 16, 2005
Heroism Under Fire: Serena Maren Di Virgilio

From the latest issue of Stars and Stripes, this follow-on to our recent discussion of heroism. Staff Sgt. Di Virgilio has been awarded the Bronze Star with “V” for valor, a Purple Heart and a Combat Medic Badge. Note how her training kicked in and then check out the last sentence in the story.

It was only supposed to be a mission to deliver a tire to an MP patrol that had come under heavy fire along Alternate Supply Route Sword near Baghdad.

But Staff Sgt. Serena Maren Di Virgilio's convoy drove right into an ambush. Their three-truck convoy had been hit with a rocket- propelled grenade.

“I heard myself screaming, but I couldn’t hear anything else,” Di Virgilio said as she looked away, as if watching a scene from the movie of her life. “Everything was black, and there was smoke everywhere. I’ll never forget that smell.”

And even though the medic from the Headquarters, 230th Military Police Company, was covered with shrapnel wounds, she took care of every soldier in her unit before caring for herself.

Read the Rest…

The New Iraqi Army: June 2005

In Yesterday’s post, Training the Iraqi Army, we took issue with New York Times characterization of the Iraqi units as not being 'operational':

The article documents the current and projected manpower in a section misleadingly titled “Few Battalions Are Operational”… It appears the author is referring to combat readiness, defined as “a unit's ability to perform in combat. Includes the status of personnel, logistics, morale, and training.” A deficiency in any of the areas mentioned would make a unit less than ‘fully operational’, however this does not mean the units cannot perform certain duties such as patrols, garrison or others. The battalions which are not rated ‘fully operational’ are not able to operate independently of Coalition forces. This is the reason the military transition teams have been created. Also, many of the Iraqi units are currently deployed in the field and have been ‘sistered up’ with Coalition units… These Iraqi units may not meet the New York Times definition of ‘operational’, but they certainly possess the characteristics of an effective fighting force.

Fortuitously, Colonel Austin Bay, who touring the Middle East and is currently in Iraq, reports on a briefing he attended which included an assessment of the Iraqi Army's capabilities:

Read the Rest…

June 15, 2005
Australian Hostage Released Rescued

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has just announced in Parliament that Australian Hostage Douglas Wood has been freed.

More details as they come to hand.

UPDATE : From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

I am delighted to inform the House that the Australian hostage in Iraq, Mr Douglas Wood, is safe,” Mr Howard told Parliament.

Mr Wood was recovered a short while ago in Baghdad in a military operation that I am told was conducted by Iraqi forces in cooperation in a general way with force elements of the United States.

To all of Oz's Iraqi allies - Ta Mates. And a thanks to the Usual Suspects who gave us support.

June 13, 2005
Good News from Iraq: 13 June 2005

Note: Also available at “The Opinion Journal” and Chrenkoff. Many thanks to James Taranto and Joe Katzman, and all of you for your continuing support. Please also note that because of the change in publishing schedule brought about by last week's Memorial Day weekend, this issue contains good news and positive developments from the past three week, and not two, as is usually the case.

“You can't fix in six months what it took 35 years to destroy.” These words, spoken by Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Iraq's first democratically elected Prime Minister in half a century, should be inscribed in three-foot tall characters as a preface to all the reporting from Iraq. Sadly, the underlying reality all too often seems to escape many reporters caught in the excitement of “now”.

In an opinion piece in “The Christian Science Monitor”, A. Heather Coyne concurs with the gradualist view:

Having spent the past two years in Iraq, first as an Army officer and now as the head of the Iraq office of the Washington-based US Institute of Peace, I am struck by the determination and steadiness of Iraqis as they struggle to build a stable, democratic country, and by the continuing, firm commitment of Iraqis to participate in - and manage - that process.

In spite of a constant threat from the various insurgencies over the past year, Iraqi government agencies, political parties, and civil society organizations have gradually expanded their capabilities and activities. They will tell you how much more they could have done had they not been constrained by security threats or - almost as important - the lack of reliable infrastructure, but what they have accomplished already is admirable, as is their unflagging determination in the face of these threats and constraints.

There is a phrase I hear in almost every conversation with Iraqis that captures the mood of this process: hutwa bi hutwa, or “step by step.”

Below, some of those often overlooked or under-reported steps that people of Iraq and their foreign friends have been taking over the past five weeks.

Winds Iraq Report: June 13/05

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.

TOP TOPICS

  • The weekend saw a rare sight in Iraq: air strikes against insurgent forces. The western Iraq town of Qaim is reported to be an insurgent stronghold, so Marines did not hesitate to call in air strikes against them as they battled for control of a road near the town. The United States claims 40 insurgents killed with no American fatalities, although with Qaim still in insurgent hands, how accurate the casualty claims are is open to question.
  • Iraq's Sunnis complain that things in Iraq have never been worse, an unsurprising claim given their privileged status under the Hussein government. Regardless of the objectivity of the complaint, the Sunnis do have the ability to sink the referendum on the new Iraqi constitution being written if it does not consider their concerns to a sufficient degree.

Other Topics Today Include: a death toll milestone; insurgents look to trade guns for ballots; reconstruction highlights; An Najaf airport set to reopen; infrastructure attacks; Sunni politicians reject compromise; Carnival of the Liberated; Downing Street memo blowback; al-Zarqawi, social leader.

Read the Rest…

June 12, 2005
The Gift Of Valor

FYI, I've posted a review of Michael Phillip's excellent The Gift of Valor, the story of U.S.M.C. Corporal Jason Dunham in Iraq, on the Publisher's Desk.

Also, visit the Jason Dunham Memorial Scholarship fund.

Posted By Alan at 11:10 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
June 09, 2005
The Syrian End of the Ratline

Syria’s involvement in facilitating the Iraqi insurgency has been apparent for some time. Recent intelligence indicates al Qaeda in Iraq has conducted a meeting within Syrian territory. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has accused Syria of “allowing its territory to be used to organize terrorist attacks against innocent Iraqis.” Syria responded by severing military and intelligence ties with the United States and claiming that they have arrested or deported over 1,200 jihadis who were attempting to enter Iraq. The United States is just ungrateful for the efforts, according to the Syrian government. The situation along the Syrian-Iraqi border has gotten so bad there are rumors that a buffer zone will be created to seal the border.

A guide for aspiring jihadis willing to fight in Iraq surfaces on the Internet. The guide states that Syria is the main transit point, and the Syrian security services alternate between cracking down on the infiltrators and looking the other way.

“These Salafite jihadists send small groups to Iraq through Syrian territory, but be aware of the Syrian regime which has begun to make entering and leaving the country more difficult. Enter Syria through Turkey, but you will need the help of people who know the procedure,” it advises.

Read the Rest…

June 07, 2005
Four Car Bombings Kill 18 in Iraq
Four bomb attacks inside of seven minutes killed at least 18 people and wounded 39 in northern Iraq early Tuesday, a day after the government announced it has detained nearly 900 suspected militants in a two-week sweep in Baghdad .

A car bomb also exploded in northern Baghdad Tuesday, causing an unspecified number of casualties, Iraqi police said.

[..].

The first explosion, caused by a roadside bomb, rocked Hawija, about 40 miles south of Kirkuk, at around 9:30 a.m., killing three civilians, Brig. Gen. Anwar Mohammed Amin (search) said.

Three [suicide] car bombers then struck in quick succession, attacking in Bagara, Dibis and at the entrance to Hawija. Amin said three soldiers were killed in the Bagara bombing.

“The three car bombs attacks were coordinated because they happened almost at the same time and in the same way, where the drivers of the suicide cars waited in queues of traffic before reaching the checkpoints before exploding their cars next the soldiers,” police Col. Ahmed Hammoud said.

Read more….

June 06, 2005
Iraq Report, June 06/05

Welcome on this 61st anniversary of D-Day edition of the Iraq Report! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.

TOP TOPICS

  • American troops have secured a complex of bunkers in western Iraq they claim insurgents were using to hide and resupply themselves. The complex was apparently empty when it was secured, indicating that the insurgents could have been tipped to the raid.
  • The Iraqi government admits it is may have targeted innocent Sunnis in its latest bid to restore some measure of security to Iraq. While perhaps understandable given where the insurgency finds much of its support, this admission may heighten tensions between Iraq's ethnic groups and bring the country nearer to the dangers of full civil war.
  • Meanwhile, Bill Roggio provides an update on Operation Thunder (aka. Operation Lightning) - and al-Qaeda's even more disastrrous Sunni “hearts and minds” policy. Anbar provinces's leading Albu Mahal tribe is not happy with the insurgents, and intends to do something about it.

Other Topics Today Include: another Al Qaeda leader captured; 38 dead in a day; shutting down infiltration routes; Operation Lighting; Zarqawi's health; helping Iraqi business; Hussein's trial approaches; Carnival of the Liberated; Syria, the U.S. and the EU.

Read the Rest…

Read the Rest…

Operation Thunder/Lightning Updates

Almost one week has passed since Operation Thunder (also referred to as Operation Lightning) was executed on the heels of New Market in Haditha and Matador on the Syrian Border. The purpose of Thunder is to secure Baghdad, then expand operations and the presence of Iraqi security forces into the Sunni Triangle. Evidence surfaces that Thunder is freeing up forces in other areas of Iraq to pursue the offensive, and perhaps expanding operations outside Baghdad.

South of Baghdad in the Triangle of Death, a region delineated by the towns of Yusufiyah, Latifiyah and Mahmudiyah, Coalition and Iraqi forces conduct a sweep and arrested 108 suspected insurgents. In Mosul, the Coalition bags a senior aide of Zarqawi, who is thought to be high in the command structure of the terrorist group Ansar al-Sunnah. There are excess U.S. forces to spare in Mosul as well.

Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition forces on Friday arrested Mullah Mahdi and five other suspected terrorists — Mahdi's brother, three other Iraqis and a Syrian…This week, the U.S. military increased its numbers in the province to about 4,000 troops and began a sweep of the area, looking for insurgents who might be using the remote region as a staging ground for terror attacks across Iraq.

Read the Rest…

June 02, 2005
Three Car Bombings Kill 17 in Iraq
Three homicide car bombings killed 17 people in northern Iraq on Thursday, including a top municipal council leader and a bodyguard of Iraq's Kurdish deputy prime minister, police said.

[..]

At least 10 people were killed and 40 wounded in a massive explosion targeting a restaurant at 8 a.m. in Tuz Khormato, 55 miles south of the northern city of Kirkuk, said police Lt. Sabah Hidayat.

The homicide bombing tore apart the town's Baghdad Restaurant, where bodyguards of Iraq's Kurdish deputy prime minister, Rowsch Nouri Shaways, were eating, said police said police Brig. Sarhad Qadre.

Read more…

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