Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What do I think about Iraq?

I get a lot of questions from family and friends these days about my opinion on the troop surge in Iraq and whether it will change events there. Sometimes I get these questions at my American Legion Post, at the VFW or other places where veteran's from other wars tend to gather.... they seek to understand the dynamics and viewpoint apart from the nightly news liberal viewpoints I guess.

Its easy to discuss the pride in a tough job being tackled by our soldiers over there... they are doing incredible work with little other than Defense Department support. The conditions and guidelines are challenging to say the least. If you have scanned my other posts, you already know that I'm not as positive about the Iraqi part of the solution.

We will make progress with the surge - we will restore some order to Baghdad as sought. However we will eventually be required to hand over control to Iraqi security forces and their preparation and desire to uphold the laws and securrity of the country is key to our long term success and departure from Iraq. The Iraqi Security forces are capable of meeting the task, but they must understand the requirements and realistically plan for the work. At the highest level of the government of Iraq, this planning and work effort seems to be lacking either genuine concern or suffers political malfeasance. Prime Minister Maliki must focus his coalition within the government to governing the country without conflicting agenda.... and there lies the real event that should signal our final departure.

At any rate - this being my view - our soldiers will endeavor to train their counterparts concurrent with the political debates in the US and Iraq. The soldiers from both countries will suffer losses in completing their tasks. I was in a similar position a few months ago - frustrated at progress at some levels, but pleased in the face to face encounters with Iraqi soldiers that stood to lose so much more to serve their country. I also saw the conditions and lives of many poor Iraqis that were trying to just exist in the country. Like many soldiers I harbored a sincere desire to make things better for people on the street rather than listen to politicians in both the US and Iraq speak empty rhetoric and crap that prolonged the ordeal. In that vein, I put together a slide show that was my snapshot of what it was like in Iraq then. I assembled this at about the 9 month point of my deployment to Iraq.


I guess that when I'm asked what I think - I'll continue to come up with the positives regarding our soldiers. They have a tough job... support them... I can't say that I can speak as highly for the political processes in play.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Fellow Blogger and Tanker


Reading Master Gunner's Blog which seems to regularly pop up on Stand-To!

Master Gunner is the term for a senior highly qualified enlisted member of the Armor community. Master Gunner's are the folks that help all tankers efficiently operate their vehicle - particularly the Fire Control systems. As such they have highly sought skills within the community.

Well if you visit his blog you'll see why I think he is on track in his blog as well... He is a prolific writer and contributor. His skew on many topics comes down to the functional and practical advise to support soldiers which is on target.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Petraeus heading MNF-I

I'm proud to have had the opportunity to work for Gen Petraeus in the past when he was commander of MNSTC-I. He was an inspirational and highly courageous leader.

He is clearly the best choice for MNF-I commander and I hope he will make a difference and change the course of events in Iraq. However, I am concerned the task will be beyond what he and his assigned soldiers can bear in country. The problems associated with a disfunctional government and lack of equal support from our own State Department and other US agencies are overwhelming. I heard it attributed to Gen Petraeus that "hard is not hopeless" - but what does hard look like?

It's up to the leadership of Iraq (Maliki) to really control and manage the Iraqi entities charged with securing their own country. For the Iraqi government it remains business as usual - graft, corruption, laise faire work ethic and performance from the Iraqi Police and military, which cannot be continued, but is currently accepted. Their country is at war. Petraeus is, in essence, buying time for Maliki to demonstrate some basic competence and allow the political process breathing room. In Iraq and Baghdad today the problems can be attributed to the deals and political crisis Maliki has made for his government. You can figure that allowing a one sided remedy from the Shites in Iraq will include black market deals with the likes of Sadr and others.... this is a recepe which will continue the sectarian civil war and continue the political deadlock.

Good Luck sir, you will need it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Interesting site of fellow Blogger

This site works to build continued support for our military. They sell some unique T-shirts from which 20% of proceeds go to military family support. Consider supprting them and buy yourself a neat shirt in the process....


Monday, January 08, 2007

Soldier who said no to war

The Washington Post published an article titles "A Mother Fights For A Soldier Who Said No To War" written by By Linton Weeks, Washington Post Staff Writer

It describes the actions of a mother of Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq. Seems 1LT Watada will be court-martialed on Feb. 5 at Fort Lewis. Lt Watada's mother is lobbying congress for the LT in some hope of getting the LT off the charges of missing movement with his unit to Iraq.

As the article explains, her actions are based on the fact that her son "based his decision on facts ... He studied the war in Iraq and decided it was illegal. "

As a result Lt Watada's mom is asking Congress to intercede and make the Army dismiss all charges.

Well - I understand the mother's desire to keep her son from serving prison time or having a bad mark on his record... but does she believe all soldiers should vote on what conflicts they feel compelled to serve in? LT Watada was a volunteer soldier, serving with other soldiers in the unit... does he think that they are now war criminals? LT Watada is quitting based opon opinion that the war is illegal... based upon what expert knowledge (legal opinion, international judgement, etc?)

LT Watada is ill suited to serve in the same Army I proudly served. When he made the decision to void his sworn contract to the Nation, he dishonored the unit he served, he certainly did not display the traits of a Military Commissioned Officer, and he should be prepared to accept the consequences. He has abandoned the soldiers that trained with him, rely upon his leadership. Presumably, some other American had to step in to take his place with short notice.

I can't label 1LT Wataba a Coward, for what he did took a lot of guts. But he violated the confidence of his unit, his soldiers, his country - all sworn in oath of office when he joined. I don't feel sorry for him at all... he should at least spend as much time behind bars as his soldiers will spend carrying his share of deployment burden as well as their own in theater.

As a retired soldier previously