Tuesday, July 28, 2009

US troops continue to patrol Mosul

Nearly a month after American troops officially withdrew from urban areas in Iraq, they are quietly going back in again, patrolling the streets of towns and cities where, despite improvements in security, violence remains an everyday occurrence.
By the US military's own reckoning, Mosul and its surrounding region is the most dangerous area in Iraq.
On average they calculate there are four attacks here every day - explosions, shootings, suicide bombings. That is down from six per day in January - progress, of sorts.
Since 30 June, Iraqi forces have been entirely responsible for maintaining security in urban areas. But the Americans want to keep a close eye. So they are maintaining a limited number of joint patrols inside cities like Mosul.

The above is from Gabriel Gatehouse's "US troops back on patrol in Iraq" (BBC News) and the June 30 pull-back is revealed as not quite what it was promoted as -- but that's been the case throughout the illegal war so, at this point, it's not that the US government fooled anyone, it's that people willingly went along with the latest propaganda. There's not a great deal of difference between "We're out of Iraq cities!" and "Mission Accomplished!" So those who were foolish enough to believe the lies really need to take some accountability and dial down the mock surprise.

The willful stupidity is why waves of Operation Happy Talk work. It's why a retired colonel feels he can offer ditherings and not be laughed out of the public square, John M. House "Situation in Iraq is different" (Ledger-Enquirer):

American troops often act as backup for Iraqi Army units on patrol, rather than leading those efforts. We still have soldiers training Iraqis on how to be a professional army, but we aren’t leading the combat operations at the level of a year ago. There will still be plenty of bad days because the loss of every soldier causes a bad day.
[. . .]
My main point is that the situation in Iraq is better. Less news time seems dominated by the war. That’s a good indicator that the situation has improved.

So as long as the news doesn't reach him, Hall argues, things are going good. Do you get the feeling that a lot of news and reality don't reach Hall?

The networks, tired of covering the illegal war they helped sell, wanted to withdraw from Iraq which is what they did. They shut down operations. ABC made a deal with the BBC to carry BBC reports from time to time. But the American broadcast networks left Iraq. That's why you get so little coverage of Iraq. The lie -- and it was a lie -- was that they were moving into Afghanistan. They didn't. Not in terms of the same number. They played it cheap and sent a tiny portion of news staff to Afghanistan. They don't care. It's cheaper to cover celebrities death and lie that they're offering news (hello, Cynthia McFadden!). They're not covering anything. They're reading a bunch of headlines based on wire reports and newspaper reports and not doing much of anything. They should be ashamed of themselves. The country has two ongoing wars (and the undeclared one on Pakistan) and they're not covering it.

Because they're cheap and because they're personalities passed off as journalists.

The BBC, not CBS, not ABC, not NBC, is reporting on US troops staging patrols in Mosul. So John House can kid himself that things are going great. And the criticsm of the poor job the media's doing? Not confined to me. Thomas E. Ricks covered the war on the ground in Iraq (he was a military reporter) for the Washington Post and he's written two books on the war. Note this from him in yesterday's "Iraq, the unraveling (XIX): Friends like these" (Foreign Policy):

Also, more bad news in al Anbar -- a big bomb went off in Fallujah, as well as a smaller one near the headquarters of the Iraqi Islamic Party, and one at a funeral between Ramadi and Fallujah. And a bunch of police were shot up in Abu Ghraib. Is the Anbar Sawha going off the reservation? I still don't understand what is happening out there, and have been surprised by the lack of news coverage of it. It makes me wonder if in budget cutbacks, news bureaus let go their stringers in Anbar. If so, what a sad turn for the news business. Suppose they gave a war and nobody covered it.

"It makes me wonder if in budget cutbacks, news bureaus let go their stringers in Anbar"? He's "been surprised by the lack of news coverage" on the Sahwa?

The Iraq War hasn't ended. US troops have not left. The Boston Globe's Bryan Bender today speaks of the tactical needs in removing 143,000 troops. Most are using the figure of "approximately 130,000." What's 13,000 here or there apparently? And those who leave? They're replaced by troops sent over. David Bauerlein (Florida's Time-Union ) reports:

Until Sunday, Vietman War veteran Wayne Metcalfe had kept a pocket-sized Bible for 40 years as a memento of his military service.
His edition of the New Testament has a metal plate inserted in its front cover, giving another layer of protection when it's tucked into a shirt pocket over a solider's heart.
At a family fun day Sunday at Camp Blanding for the 631st Maintenance Company - slated to leave soon for a deployment in Iraq - Metcalfe handed the Bible to his younger brother, Staff Sgt. Mike Malone. Malone, a Keystone Heights resident, is among about 170 members of the 631st Maintenance Company who will leave for a one-year mission.

Krista Perry (Natick Bulletin & Tab) reports that the National Guard 211th Military Police Battallion of Lexington is gearing up for their one-year deployment in Iraq:

Spc. Michael Alves, 30, of Natick, is leaving a newborn son, a 3-year-old, an 8-year-old and a nervous wife.
"That will be the toughest part, not seeing my kids and not seeing them grow," he said. "You never know what is going to happen, but we've had great training."
Alves said he and the rest of his unit are prepared for Iraq.
"That's what the military does, prepares you mentally and physically for situations like these. In joining the military, you have to be prepared to go at any given time," he said.
After having served in the military for about three years and working there full-time, Alves knows he is giving back to his country.
"I'm most worried about my family, I know everything will be OK, but not knowing what to say when you can't see your wife or your kids, it's hard," he said.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist's office released the following statement yesterday:


~~ ~Unit to serve as 24-hour maintenance support for Operation Iraqi Freedom~ ~~

July 27, 2009


(850) 488-5394

Governor Crist Honors Florida National Guard 631st Maintenance Company Deploying to Iraq
Unit to serve as 24-hour maintenance support for Operation Iraqi Freedom
STARKE -- Governor Charlie Crist today expressed his gratitude to members the Florida National Guard’s 631st Maintenance Company for their service as they prepare to deploy for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The ceremony was held at Madison Street Baptist Church Activity Center in Starke with nearly 200 guardsmen and women and their families, primarily from North Florida area, in attendance. The 631st Maintenance Company will depart Camp Blanding Tuesday, July 28, for Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, for advanced training and preparation before heading overseas.
The 631st Maintenance Company specializes in maintenance of wheeled vehicles, weapons, communications equipment and night vision gear. During their 2003 deployment, the 631st supported every National Guard and Reserve unit that processed through Fort Stewart, Georgia, on their way to and from operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The company processed more than 50,000 pieces of equipment to ensure each unit going to and from combat zones was "fully mission capable." Additionally, in 2004, 2005 and 2006 the 631st Maintenance Company also served for state active duty in support of hurricane missions.
Earlier this year, Governor Crist praised the brave men and women of the Florida National Guard 779th Engineer Battalion prior to their deployment in May 2008. Earlier this month, Lt. Governor Kottkamp thanked the Florida National Guard 144th Transportation Company during a deployment ceremony in Tallahassee. Collectively, nearly 300 guardsmen and women are deployed.
Starke is known as a "good National Guard" town and has a history that can be charted from the early 1880's. The company was last relocated to Starke in 1996 from Crystal River, Florida.

The Iraq War has not ended. Kristina De Leon (San Antonio's WOAI) reports on the funeral held yesterday for the 20-year-old Brandon Lara who was killed in Iraq July 19th. While his family mourned him in Texas, Cpl. Meg Murray (Military News) reports a service was held earlier in Iraq, "Service members traveled from bases across Al Anbar province to join Marines and sailors of Police Transition Team 4 at a memorial service aboard Contingency Operating Location Ubaydi as they paid their respects to their fallen comrade, Lance Cpl. Brandon T. Lara, July 24, 2009."

The Iraq War hasn't ended and it's disgraceful enough when the hitchikers on the highway of causes (Susan Sarandon, for example) abandon the issue but it's even more appalling when a retired military colonel wants to spin the public. It's shameful. The lack of awareness -- which people have to take responsibility for -- is appalling and shameful.

The Iraq War is not over. Last Thursday, Angelina Jolie made another goodwill visit to Iraq on behalf of the United Nations and she pointed out, "There are still three million people displaced, innocent families," she added. "We have still many young men and women from our country who are fighting every day, there are men and women from all countries who have lost their lives, and this is a time to try to make some positive change." Angelina is the UNHCR's Goodwill Ambassador and she was making her third trip to Iraq Thursday. The San Francisco Chronicle quoted her stating, "There are some changes. There are returns of displaced people, not a big number, but there is progress. This is a moment where things seem to be improving on the ground, but Iraqis need a lot of support and help to rebuild their lives." The UN notes (link has a great photo of a young Iraqi boy and Angelina in Baghdad) that she is calling "for greater support for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who remain displaced."

The UN has posted video of her visit.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends