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Update from a Soldier in Iraq

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Scriptor Ignotus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 02:20 PM
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Update from a Soldier in Iraq
I received the following in a newsletter from Dave Morgan at Mediapost.com, a non-political website about Media and Advertising. I thought this was an interesting, honest take from a soldier in Iraq, trying to make the best of a very bad situation. Also check out the link to another post in the author's first paragraph, especially this part:

"I am being called up to serve for 545 days reporting first to Fort Jackson and then to Fort Bragg and then likely to Iraq. Yes, I guess it has gotten so bad they are calling up 38-year-old, beer-bellied has-beens. Basically, 4-6 months of training and a one-year tour. I have been in the IRR (Individual Ready Reserve) for 12 years. I haven't been associated with any unit or been a part of any training whatsoever. I haven't had a uniform on since October of 1993, so, I never imagined that this would happen.".

Man, what the hell is going on here?


Thursday, August 3, 2006
Our Soldier Tom Deierlein
By Dave Morgan

Late last year, I wrote a column about a good friend and one of our industry's key leaders, Tom Deierlein, the chief operating officer of Dynamic Logic, who was taking a leave of absence to return to active duty as an officer in the U.S. Army with an expectation that he would be headed to Iraq for a year-long deployment. You can read the column here With everyone's attention these weeks on the summer and beaches and mountains and relaxation, and having just received one of Tom's monthly e-mail updates, I thought it was timely to remember Tom in a column. I think his message speaks for itself. Here are excerpts.

I have now been boots on ground for 13 weeks, or 92 days out of the required 365.

This has been a rough month for the war. The month started off with the bombing of a crowded marketplace in SadrCity, killing more than 60 people and wounded even more. The hard part to deal with is that women and children shop in markets--so the person who planned and executed the bombing was clearly targeting women and children. I had been in that exact market only days earlier, meeting vendors, talking to locals, and collecting "atmospherics." SadrCity is a Shia and a jaysh al-Mahdi militia (JAM) stronghold, so when the Sunnis want to strike back they plan attacks there.

Personally, it just gets harder and harder to swallow. So, why all the violence you all are reading about? Well, as reported quite a bit in the past week, and I have mentioned numerous times, we have been trying a strategy of letting the Iraqi Police (IPs) and Iraqi Army (IA) (collectively called the Iraqi Security Forces--ISF) pick up security. They have been in charge of all crimes, including the multitudinous sectarian-motivated murders and bombings. The bottom line, is that they are not yet up for the task, are failing miserably, and we need to step back in. Thank God. I have lamented to my friends here that it is down right unAmerican to stand by and let innocent people get hurt. Isn't that part of why we are here? I believe it is. I for one am VERY happy that we are beefing up the military forces here in Baghdad to help isolate and protect the neighborhoods where this violence is occurring--both sides. We can continue to build, train, and equip the IPs and IA in the meantime, until they are ready to handle it on their own....

We "roll up" and "detain" bad guys instead of killing them. We have to let them go if we don't have enough witnesses and evidence. We are treating them as only criminals instead of combatants, and granting them too many rights. This is war, I know that many times the insurgents just laugh as we arrest them knowing we are going to have to let them go. We are playing by a completely different set of rules. I recommend more teams proactively going after not just the big names and key leaders, but anyone who commits crimes.

That is how law and order was established in the subways of NYC--non-tolerance of even the most minor offenses like fare skipping or toll jumping, and cleaning up the subways the very same night that graffiti went on. Unfortunately, as I have mentioned, the police and army are infested with men loyal to various insurgency groups and tribes. By American standards, they are 99 percent corrupt--even the good ones. But, before we judge the Iraqis, let's not forget our own recent history, especially the large cities--corrupt politicians, corrupt police, rival religious and tribal-based gangs. Civil War. Sound familiar?...

The War Strategy and Recent News

The best way I can describe our current strategy has been one of "Ready or not, here transition comes.... Once again I feel that the military has been caught right in the middle of a game of political and media positioning.


Everyone wants to do the right thing, and wants to help us get to the transition point, but they are afraid to admit that things aren't going well or on track. Many people want us out of here--I understand that, I truly do. But, a vocal minority is pushing policy and the military is asked to act upon those ideas. In my opinion, we are far from ready to leave this place if we want to leave a stable, functioning democracy. I do not want to see more American soldiers die, but we simply have to finish (properly) what we started. Who knows, the end solution may not be a unified Iraq, but instead the three separate states everyone has been talking about, one Sunni, one Shia closely aligned with Iran, and one Kurdish in the north.

Morale and the Media


It is hard to continue day after day without seeing faster progress, or having little successes. But, when you look, truly look, they are out there. In my short 90 days the streets are cleaner, there is more fresh water, less sewage in the streets, and more electricity every day, and the government is actually starting to work. There are also now two more planned health clinics going up in SadrCity, bringing the total for Sadr to seven within a year's time.

Last Saturday, the battalion I am assigned to lost a soldier to a road-side bomb. It cut him in half. Members of my company were on a different mission, but diverted to the scene to help with security during the casevac (casualty evacuation). Some of our guys saw that soldier and have been deeply affected since. It was bad the first couple of days, but you can sense it still lingering. It is natural to question your purpose and your resolve. But that is part of what makes a soldier special, the ability to shake off those horrors, the doubts and drive on with the mission assigned to us by the U.S. and our leaders.

Progress

On the progress front, the Ministry of Electricity has finally picked up speed and is laying in $90 million worth of electrical cable throughout SadrCity. I see new ditches opening and closing all the time. People still have intermittent services, but they also have a fivefold increase in demand since pre-war with air conditioners and satellite TVs.

Humanitarian Aid

Thanks for all the packages--keep them coming. We went to an orphanage of 50 boys last week and dropped off a bunch of items including clothes, toys, vitamins, school supplies, and of course, soccer balls. Right now, I am working with the IAC to locate all the orphanages in SadrCity and find the most needy neighborhoods for us to do a drop.

Please send all packages "book rate." It is the cheapest route I have found so far. So, no matter what you are sending, put "books" on the label and send them book rate.

We need: non-winter clothes (all children's sizes, including teens); shoes, all sizes; children's vitamins (generic in volume is best); toys; blankets; basic school supplies; coloring books and crayons; used musical instruments. Blankets are the newest addition to the list--I will give these to the IAC and have them give out to the poor seeking aid. While my soldiers like doing the drops and it is good for troop morale, this is one avenue we are using to help the most needy AND help legitimize the local government at the same time.



Thomas J. Deierlein


HHC 506th RCT, 101st ABN DV


A/414 CA BN FOB Loyalty


APO, AE 09390


TD

ThunderCat6

Dave Morgan is Chairman of Tacoda.






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ceile Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 02:34 PM
Response to Original message
1. Thanks for posting this.
Good to hear about the things soldiers do to help the kids.
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