Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Interesting Trivia

From a middle eastern women that has legally immigrated to the U.S. who called in to the "El Rushbo" radio show today.

Lots of baby boys born in Iraq over the last several years have been named George.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tipping point?

If you review history, you know what a tipping point is. Great battles are often decided with one. One side gets continually beat back and seem to be fighting a war that can't be won. Then, certain events happen and what wasn't winnable becomes winnable. A lot of times it's random events that take it to "tipping point", and sometimes it's great planning. Recognizing the tipping point when it occurs seldom happens and the historians find it somewhere down the road.

Something in my gut tells me, the Asia Cup soccer tournament might just be that moment in this battle. Look back to the Anbar Salvation Council. I had a gut feel there that it might be huge, and it turned out to be. The Asia Cup soccer tournament has the same feel to me.

What might end up making the Iraqi's grab hold of their country and cast off all outside influence's might be an innocent soccer tournament. I can see a Nation being born out of this.

The Soccer game

It looks like a lot people are picking up on the Iraqi win in the Asia Cup soccer tournament. One really cool part I didn't notice earlier is that Iraq won 1-0 and the line that scored the goal was 1 Shiite, 1 Sunni, and 1 Kurd. It just doesn't get any cooler than that.

Omar has a great read at Iraq The Model you have to check out.

Our players, tonight our heroes, learned that only with team work they had a chance to win.
May our politicians learn from the players and from the fans who are painting a glorious image of unity and national pride, and let the terrorists know that nothing can kill the spirit of the sons of the immortal Tigris and Euphrates.

The fear is gone, the curfew is ignored, tonight Iraq knows only joy...

That might be a pretty good description of pride.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The key things

In order to judge whether Patraeus strategy is going to work or not, there are some key items we need to understand and evaluate.
  • Does the plan bring security to Iraq. This one is what I'm spending the most time on watching, as it seems to me that it has to happen first. We're seeing this working even better than most people envisioned when Petraeus was sent out in February. The Iraqi tribes turning on Al Qaeda really had a huge influence here as they add more military on the ground fighting the terrorists. The Iraqi Army and police stepping up are big keys too. That's why we want to watch how they are as working units.
  • Will there be an Iraqi government of substance that starts to emerge and provide a viable government for the Iraqi people. This means nationwide, not just in Baghdad. Seeing Maliki go out to Diyala province was a great sign on this front. Anbar province is also joining in with the national government too. Having the provinces form their own local governments and police forces is a great answer to this issue. They stop the sectarian fighting and become "Iraqi's first". This one looks to be going surprisingly well too.
  • The economic element also needs to develop. We need to see progress with electricity, water delivery, fuel delivery, medical aid, and sewage/waste disposal. The people of Iraq need to feel that the fight is worth fighting and life needs to improve for them or they will tend to fall back into "my tribe against all other tribes" mentality. This one is happening also. You will see me link you to new power station posts, or medical aid stations, or water pumping stations from time to time because this needs to be noticed too.
  • The Sunni, Shia, Kurd, Christian part needs to be watched also. If the Iraqi's feel they are Sunni first, then Iraqi, then this strategy will have a lot less chance of success. We really need them to feel that they are Iraqi Sunni, or Iraqi Kurd, or Iraqi Christian, or Iraqi Shia. Be Iraqi first. That is the answer to the last key point.
  • Nationalism. We need to see the Iraqi's band together and make a country. Everything is laid right out there before them. The Iraqi victory in the Asia Cup soccer tournament was huge in this regard, and again, nothing that Petraeus could have counted on. The Iraqi people do this one on their own. We only need to see if it happens. I don't see us having any influence on this directly, but huge influence on this through the other key items.
In my opinion, these are what we need to watch and that's what my scattered post links are pointing to. I know it's hard to piece together without a map, but I just try to see if anything fits the keys when I post....

Iraq update July 29, 2007

First off, Iraq wins the Asia Cup! Gotta be a good day to be Iraqi. This celebration went well, with all injuries due to bullets falling from the sky. For the life of me, I'll never understand how firing your AK47 into the air in celebration ever seemed to them like a good idea. What can you say though, it's there country.

Prime minister makes first trip to Diyala since taking office. Maliki visits Diyala from MNF-I. The Diyala Awakening gets immediate support from the central government so this one should work even better than the Anbar Awakening as getting the political wheels turning was the slow part in Anbar.

During the meeting, Maliki addressed the peoples’ ability to rise above terrorism, assuring those present that the central government will continue to work closely with the provincial government and is committed to the people of Diyala.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

General George S Patton

He's apparently alive and well and has a message.

Iraq update July 28, 2007

Things in Ninewah province still seem to be going very well and turnover to full Iraqi control is still on schedule for August some time. MNF-I has this Improved Ninewah security may mean fewer U.S. troops in future.

The tribes in Diyala province met last week and 17 of the 25 tribes agreed to end hostilities against each other and join with the Coalition forces to fight Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in an effort to run them out of the province. Diyala Awakening is officially born. MNF-I reports on more efforts in Diyala and Operation Olympus.

I'm not positive, but I believe Babil province is on the verge of Awakening. MNF-I reports on Local residents lead Soldiers to huge weapons cache which is south of Baghdad and which I take to mean Babil Province.

And, on the political side, MNF-I reports on Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Teams in their report Provincial Reconstruction Teams rebuild Iraq from bottom up. This part is almost as critical as the security part that we are watching.

I think the anti war surrender monkeys have a bit of a problem on their hands as there's too much visible progress being made to claim we've lost and must tuck our tails between our legs and crawl home...

An interesting read

On the 3 types of people in the world. It's called On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs, by Dave Grossman.

Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools.

But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.

It's not too long of a read, so check it out.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Blogging and Pain Killers

I had surgery on Wednesday and have been doing pain killers since then. Pain Killers seem to mean nap time for me, so I haven't spent much time on the web.

I did notice that the Iraqi soccer team made the finals for the Asia cup and Al Qaeda managed to get a couple of suicide bombers into the celebrations. I'm pretty sure they do more for nationalizing Iraq then anything else when they do that. They will give some ammo to their allies in our government with that though.

I did find out that Karma in Anbar province seems to be an Al Qaeda safe haven right now, so I need to see if there are any operations going after that. I'm guessing there are. It might be task force 88.

I'll see if I can get back to blogging tomorrow.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Understanding these Iraq Awakenings

I need to give you some background on how these work. You need to realize that the starting point is pretty ugly. Al Qaeda takes over a community and establishes Sharia law. They immediately kill to prove they are in charge and convince the people to "toe the line". That is commonly the beheading of the local sheriff. Sharia law means a lot of things, but to give you an idea, if you smoke in public, they cut off your smoking fingers. There's a whole lot more to it, but that gives you an idea how it would be, living under Sharia law.

Well, that doesn't sit well with the Iraqi's in general Most of the population smokes. You combine that, and the other Sharia laws (no CD's, no TV, no Internet... etc.etc) and you get the picture of how life is when they come to town. Then, Al Qaeda detonates a bomb in the local market and kills innocent Iraqi's to get the Congress in the United States to vote to leave the fight. The community starts to simmer. Another beheading happens, or another smoker is arrested, or their daughter didn't go out in public properly covered, and Al Qaeda metes out their justice...

The tribal Sheiks understand that it is now up to them to save their tribes. They communicate to other tribes in the area and see if they are ready to act, too. Evil is defined and they come to the realization that when "Al Ameriki" was here, it was different. The Al Ameriki tribe came in, they chased off Al Qaeda and built schools. They cleaned the streets, they talked to the Sheiks to see what else the could do to help, and they brought calm. Then, they left because they needed to go to the next village, or back to their central base. Al Qaeda has returned, but the Sheiks understand how it could be. They decide to gather the different tribes and throw Al Qaeda out of their areas and protect their people. They also understand that they will have to be as serious about it as Al Qaeda is. They take up the sword...

That's how it starts. This is Awakening. Add to that the fact that, when they go this route, they understand that some of them will die. They don't know who, but they understand that Al Qaeda will do everything possible to derail it. The Anbar Salvation Council had to endure several suicide bombers killing many sheiks to get to where they are now. Al Qaeda has no other option to stop it other than to hope some of their young tribal recruits will take on a suicide mission and take out the tribal leaders.

Understand what it takes for these men to do this.

Understand also, what little men Al Qaeda's allies in our government actually are.

This war is not lost. As long as Iraq keeps awakening, then the Harry Reid's, Nancy Pelosi's, Jack Murtha's, and the other anti war surrender monkeys will just be background noise. The real story is in the Awakenings...

The surge has brought back Al Ameriki to a lot of these areas.

Iraq update July 23, 2007

The Anbar Salvation Council and The Anbar Awakening are still something we need to watch, as it's the model being used throughout Iraq. I remember a couple of months ago, the Sheiks of the Anbar Awakening went to other provinces to sell the idea of The Iraq Awakening, but I haven't seen that referred to that way yet. I have found a couple of related items though.

  • Teflon Don at acutepolitics has a post up called Militias which relates his front row seat view of the Anbar Salvation Council when they first came into existence, and even how it's working today. It's a great piece that I'll add a link to it in the original post to help us a keep track of what might be the key moment (totally missed by the old media) of the surge and related operations.
  • Another note about Teflon Don. He came back from leave a few weeks ago and I'm not sure he liked the old media coverage he saw while back here all that much. The tone of his posts since returning are of a more serious note and he seems to be wanting to get the word out about his corner of this war. I'll keep an eye on what he's putting up and continue to point you there.
  • The Sunni and Shia tribes meeting at Camp Taji I told you about on Saturday, has resulted with them deciding to name their movemant "The Salahadin Awakening". They are now under attack by both Al Qaeda and and the Mahdi Army. An Al Qaeda suicide bomber penetrated a meeting yesterday and killed 5 senior tribal leaders and wounded 12 others. The Mahdi army has also attacked family members of the group. The Iraqi army is in the area conducting operations. All the other Awakenings have gone through the same treatment, so hopefully, this steels them and they continue on. Again, I think this one we keep an eye on. It'll be the first combined Sunni/Shia Council so, if it works, it will indicate that nationalization for the Iraqi's is not that far fetched of an idea.
The Victory Caucus has retooled their site and you need to check it out. It's going to be a daily check for me, I think. They have maps and tons of good info.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A couple fo Baghdad viewpoints

Michael J. Totten has just arrived in Baghdad to embed with the 82nd Airborne. An excerpt:

You’d think explosions and gunfire define Iraq if you look at this country from far away on the news. They do not. The media is a total distortion machine. Certain areas are still extremely violent, but the country as a whole is defined by heat, not war, at least in the summer. It is Iraq’s most singular characteristic. I dread going outside because it’s hot, not because I’m afraid I will get hurt.

Omar at Iraq The Model has a short post updating conditions in his area of Baghdad:

The main even that's been keeping me excited an entertained is the participation of our national soccer team in the Asian Cup. The results are excellent so far including this afternoon's match in which the team won 2-0 over Vietnam. This means for a change lots of the gunfire we hear in Baghdad are celebratory these days. Two hours after the match ended I still hear some gunfire but I can't tell whether or not it's still of the celebratory type.

A couple of Iraq reads

The Multi-National Force - Iraq website has a couple of good reads up today.

The first one is in regards to an Iraqi Army patrol through a part of Ramadi and how the soldiers treat the citizens, and the second one is from the Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division commander about the infrastructure rebuilding they are doing.

More on the anti war crowd

Or is it "those morons"? I can never remember.

William Kristol at The Weekly Standard has a good article covering the state they're in now, with the surge showing signs of success.

With the ongoing progress of the surge, and the obvious fact that the vast majority of the troops want to fight and win the war, the "support-the-troops-but-oppose-what-they're-doing" position has become increasingly untenable. How can you say with a straight face that you support the troops while advancing legislation that would undercut their mission and strengthen their enemies?

You can't. So those on the cutting edge of progressive opinion are beginning to give up on even pretending to support the troops. Instead, they now slander the troops.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Gunfire in Baghdad

Lots of gunfire erupted on the streets of Baghdad today. It was in celebration as Iraq beat Vietnam in the quarterfinals of the Asia cup soccer tournament. Iraqi's took to the streets and rejoiced, big time. To not see an Al Qaeda suicide bombing in amongst that indicates to me that security is definitely improving. I don't believe that would have happened even a month ago.

Al Qaeda's allies in our government were pretty active this week, which triggered Al Qaeda to become active in Iraq. Kirkuk had to endure the consequences. Many innocent Iraqi's die so that Al Qaeda's allies in our government can try and gain seats in Congress. It happens every time. Could they possibly just sit down and shut the hell up until September? Probably not, that might help the situation and we can't have that, now can we....What pompous ass jerks.

Al Qaeda has a problem though. They are pouring resources into this battle since, as they claim, it's the main front on the war against us, and Task Force 88 is taking out large numbers of them. They can't trust the Iraqi's they've requited, so they have to move in people from the global network to continue the fight in Iraq. The conundrum for AQ is, when do they give up the fight here and try and move it elsewhere? Iraq is VERY important, so I expect them to continue on until September and see if their allies in our government can find a way to hand Iraq to them. If that somehow gets derailed, they'll be moving on. That is setting up to be the key time frame.

Al Sadr's Mahdi army (sometimes referred to as JAM) is still getting dismantled piece by piece, so Iran has similar problems to Al Qaeda. Al Sadr is still in Iran awaiting new marching orders.

All in all, isn't having Al Qaeda pouring resources into Iraq to fight our military somewhat better than them pouring resources into fighting us civilians here in the continental United States? I mean, I'll grab a gun and fight, but give me a little room....

...my eyesight ain't what it used to be.

Iraq battle update, July 21

A lot going on all around Iraq, but here's a little roundup. For a more detailed update, Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail updates more comprehensively.
  • A new operation in Anbar province - Operation Mawtini launched on July 15th involves more than 9,000 CF and IA forces with a goal to "neutralize any future attempts by Anti-Iraqi Forces to re-establish a presence in key urban areas along the Euphrates River valley". This is a follow up to Operation Harris Ba'sil "which provided a better picture of enemy movement patterns and safe havens".
  • Task Force 145 is now Task Force 88. I'll try and remember that for future reference, but equate the two of them in case I continue to call them TF 145. This is the main group fighting the "shadow war" and appear to be really active since the major operations started 30 days ago. They are all over the place, from what I can tell.
  • Several tons of explosives where found on the outskirts of Mosul. An air strike had to be called in to blow it up. That should slow down the IED making by the anti-Iraqi forces for that area at least.
  • Abu Ghraib area news - Local Sunni and Shia tribal sheiks are meeting to reconcile and end violence in their villages. Coalition forces visited the area on Thursday on a trust building project. Of course, the anti war surrender monkey's will tell you this can never happen and they Shia and Sunni are only interested in killing each other.
  • And lastly, in addition to the province we've heard getting turned over to full Iraqi control in August, one General stated this week that 7 others might get turned over by the end of this year. That would make it 15 of the 18 provinces in full Iraqi control. No mention on which provinces those are though.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Task Force 145 update

I ran across a little more about Donkey Island and added it as an update to the Donkey Island post.

Task Force 145 - The Hunter/Killer teams that are taking out Al Qaeda leadership and dismantling the AQI network have been pretty busy for the first 30 days of the operation. They captured the top Iraqi in AQI on July 4th. Sounds like he hasn't stopped yappin yet. The big items are, ali Baghdadi, who was said to be the Iraqi leading Al Qaeda in Iraq, was a fictional character and the orders came straight from Al Qaeda in Pakistan. Direct link now proven. Also, apparently AQI is finding it harder to trust the Iraqi's they've recruited as so many of them turn, that they are relying more and more on their foreign fighters. He also said that Zarqawi, before Task Force 145 took him out, had told him that democracy in Iraq was inevitable. TF 145 has taken down several high level AQI and the upper level of "management" is said to be pretty fragmented now. They still feel AQI has plenty of potential to do the spectacular attacks, but they believe AQI is on the run and really have no place to go. All the major population centers have forces ready to deal with them when they show up.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Baqubah Guardians

Just had to stick in a quick "Michael Yon's latest dispatch is up" post.

It's titled 7 rules: 1 oath and is a must read about a meeting he attended in Baqubah today.

Iraq update July 19, 2007

On the economic side:
  • The village of Mrezat, a small agricultural village in the Basateen neighborhood of Baghdad's Adhamiya district, celebrated the opening of the Mrezat Water Pump Station on July 10th. The community primarily subsists on palm-date groves. Next up for them are projects to to refurbish two schools and repave roads. This is all happening due to the fact that the area has become peaceful and secure. Neighboring Suffiya is working on some power generators which will act like band aids until the Iraq government fixes it's power grid.
  • In Diyala province, fuel supply trucks have arrived and distribution is being set up.

On the security side:
  • The west side of Baqubah is secure and food and other services are being provided to the residents. CF and IA are doing a slow, deliberate sweep of the east side to clear it of IED's, wired houses, and Al Qaeda. The emphasis is on slow and deliberate as that keeps the CF and IA casualties down.
  • In al Anbar province, Al Qeada, using two VBIED's, brought down two bridges. Iraqi authorities and the coalition are working together to repair the damage and alternate routes have already been established. AQ just lost another "hearts and minds" battle. Also, there are 4 military operations going on in eastern Anbar, but I can't find any information on them.
  • The major operation in Babil province - Sounds like it is against anti Iraqi government elements. That reads al Sadr and his Mahdi army. Well, technically they refer to them as "rogue elements" of al Sadr's group. One operation was a cordon and search of Jabella by 550 IA and 100 CF to root out Mahdi army, who had been using a murder and intimidation campaign to terrorize the cities populace. The city is now secured.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Uncle Jimbo

After doing a quick cruise of the normal sites, I think tonight I'll have to point you over to Black Five where Uncle Jimbo has stuff up.

First off:

Gen. Petraeus & Uncle J- Eye to Eye on Dead Tangos
Posted By Uncle Jimbo
It's always nice to know that the guy holding the clue bag is singing the same song.

And the second is related to the Osama Bin Laden stuff that's resurfaced the last couple of days. Set to the tune of Monty Python's "Pet Shop":

FFS people snap out of it, bin Laden is no more He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-TERRORIST!!

Yes, I did figure out how to link Black Five stuff...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Baghdad Awakening?

The different Awakenings in the Iraq provinces are obviously working. Baghdad itself was supposed to be a tougher nut to crack though, as the tribe influence for the population was thought to be less of an influence. The whole city is a mixed up bag of tribes and religions. We apparently read that situation wrong and the people in Baghdad are following the lead of the Anbar Salvation Council.

From MNF-I

“We’re maintaining a presence in the neighborhoods and gaining the trust of the Iraqi residents,” Campbell said.

That trust, coupled with Iraqi residents grown tired of extremist violence, Campbell said, has led to tribes in areas of Baghdad to align themselves with Iraqi Security and Coalition Forces. These security force volunteers, who previously may have supported Al Qaeda or other extremist groups, are being vetted to join the Iraqi Police or other security forces.

Campbell said efforts in the Abu Ghraib, Ameriyah and Tarmiyah areas in northwestern Baghdad have the potential to be a key element for the security of Baghdad, as residents begin to reconcile with their government.

And Diyala province contiues to Awaken

Setback for al-Qaida operatives in Diyala from the MFN-I website.

“This operation was vital as we continue to deny al-Qaida freedom of movement and space,” said Col. David W. Sutherland, 3-1 Cav. commander. “In Diyala, the enemy has no safe haven; and our forces are committed to aid the Iraqi Security Forces in their fight to provide a safe and secure environment for the people.”

Pat Dollard has more on Operation Ithaca.

Local Iraqis fed up with al Qaeda had delivered hand-written maps and other information about the enemy that were used during pre-operational planning, Poppas said.

And Senator Reid just can't seem to surrender nearly fast enough.

New operation in Babil

South of Baghdad 35 miles or so another major offensive is underway. 5,000 US troops and 3500 Iraqi troops are involved in Marne Avalanche. According to the dispatch from Stars and Stripes:

The area is one of the most politically and tactically complicated in Iraq, military officials have said: It straddles the Shiite-Sunni fault line south of Baghdad.

I'm thinking we need to keep on eye on this one.

* Added *

The Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System has some video.

General James T. Conway

Blackfive has a great, albeit long, post up on a recent speech by General James T. Comway to Marines’ Memorial Association and World Affairs Council in San Francisco on July 10th. It's Blackfive so scroll back up to the top...

He gives you more background on the Anbar Awakening and the aspects of it (economic and political) that we need to know to judge if this model is workable going forward.

There's a whole lot more though:

Another reason that Marines and Sailors feel good about their mission and themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan is that they are certain that they are defending this Nation against terrorism. They feel that the reason the country has not been attacked since 9/11 is because they are killing the same terrorists in both places that might otherwise be attempting to find their way to the U.S. Most would agree that a direct attack on terrorism was not the initial reason for going into Iraq in 2003, but it took a little less than three weeks for us to see religious extremists there.

It's a long read, sorry about that, but I think you need to take the time to read the whole thing.

Iraq Security Forces

The Teflon Don at Acute Politics has a good post up explaining the ISF. He's a Marine who is stationed in al Anbar province. He had a front row seat for the Anbar Awakening and is there watching the progress day to day now.

I knew the Iraqi version of "Neighborhood watch" was different from ours, but now I know how it ties in with the ISF. It's a short read so check it out.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Donkey Island

I guess I need to back fill a little, since I keep referring to it. When Operation Arrowhead Ripper began and Al Qaeda in Iraq was pushed out of Baqubah, some of them surfaced 3 miles south of Ramadi in al Anbar Province. They massed at Donkey Island, around the end of June, and had intended to attack Ramadi to try and regain Al Anbar province. The Iraq Police notified the Coalition Forces in the area that AQI was massing and where, then the CF and IP, in a joint operation, went there and attacked them. The first step was to call in a couple of air strikes to seal AQI in, then they went in and killed and captured what was left. The one thing in the reports I read that stood out to me was the fact that we trapped them there first so they couldn't run, then went into battle. Hopefully that helps fill in a piece.

* Updated 7/20/2007 *

Just found more on this today.

When the CF and IA forces arrived at Donkey Island they found more than expected. This wasn't just Al Qaeda massing, it was a staging point. This was the point they were going to carry out continued attacks on Ramadi.

Also, in case you didn't see it. There was a story right around this time about an Apache helicopter team that happened to see a wounded soldier on the ground and no medivac aircraft in sight. They landed and put the wounded soldier in the front seat (it's a two seat aircraft) and "following a seldom-used technique" one of the pilots strapped himself to the wing and they flew the wounded solder to an area he could be attended to by medics. That was here.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

COIN. What is it?

Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive has a great post up which explains COIN. That's Counter Insurgency warfare that we are now actively doing. It's a great description of it and he also compares it to what we were doing from 2004 - 2006 that had failed badly and why that had failed.

You'll need to scroll back to the top of the post as the BlackFive links always go directly "below the fold".

Iraq update July 15, 2007 * DVIDS link added*

General Benjamin R. Mixon who is responsible for 6 northern provinces, including Bagubah reported in a press release that it may be possible to draw down troops in his area starting in early 2008 and that Nineva province is almost ready to be turned over to Iraqi control

Speaking about Iraq’s Nineva province, the general said the provincial government and security forces there continue to grow and improve. Mixon said he has observed the 2nd and 3rd Iraqi Army Division and Iraqi police providing security to provincial residents requiring scant coalition assistance.
“Based on this assessment, I have recommended that Nineva province go to provincial Iraqi control in August,” he said. Though a handover to the provincial government is a sign of progress, Mixon added that it alone won’t usher in a reduction of U.S. troops, who will continue to partner with Iraqi security forces there, he said.

MNF-I has a progress map tracking this, but I can never find it. I'll have to route you to Bill Roggio as that one I can find. That will be the 8th province out of 18.

And, just to show you I can find the "warm fuzzy" stories too. Here's one regarding a celebration in al Anbar you'll enjoy. It's about a celebration of the Anbar Salvation Council/Anbar Awakening and it's accomplishments. The Alwani Tribe of Ramadi planned the conference to build community ties and celebrate the unity with coalition and government forces, while denouncing insurgent activities. This happened just days after Donkey Island, so they certainly seem to have some resolve. The whole thing is an excellent read. DVIDS video of the Promise of the People Conference

I'm also trying to figure out where we need to be watching now. I think we need to watch Baghdad, for obvious reasons, Baqubah because it was less than a month ago that Al Qaeda claimed it as their capitol of the caliphate they were intending to build in Iraq, and Ramadi, mainly because I keep hearing that everything coming in from Syria has to go through Ramadi. That will make it a major prize for all sides. Something tells me AQI will be trying to go back after it again.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

And now, it's the old media's turn

Now that Al Qaeda's allies in our government have managed to pass their latest surrender bill, the Al Qaeda allies in the old media have their turn. It looks like their process is to resurrect an old, disproved theory and see if they can make if fly again. What you'll be seeing from them is that we aren't fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq, just left over Baathists.

Bill Roggio sorts through all the muck.

Make sure you check out the map on the right side. It's a captured Al Qaeda operations map marking where their ongoing operations were at the time.

For the record, we are battling 3 main enemies in Iraq.

1. Al Qaeda. Think Anbar Salvation Council and Baqubah (1920's revolutionary brigade) siding with CF to fight against AQI. Petraeus indicated this it the main threat.

2. Moqtada al Sadr and his Mahdi army. Al Sadr wants to be the next tyrant in charge so they will fight on until their numbers are too small to matter, or al Sadr is killed. Maliki must believe they are "reconcilable", so that might be an option too.

3. Iran. The secret cell network is how they refer to it. It's the transporting of weapons into Iraq from Iran and the transporting of insurgents to and from Iran for training purposes.

Michael Yon telephone interview

No, not with me, you yahoos...

With Hugh Hewitt yesterday. The full transcript is here.

To understand why his opinion is important on this, you need to know that Yon's belief is that this is a war we shouldn't have gotten in to. That makes him an invaluable resource, in my view.

I know, I know, you want me to go over the whole thing and then give a short, easy to read, one paragraph summary.

I guess I better start reading...


The short, easy to read, one paragraph summary is....

The dude is way better at writing than he is at talking on the phone...

To give him his due though, he will probably go down in history as taking the photo of the Iraq war. I'm linking it because I'm pretty sure most of you haven't seen it nor read the story behind it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Anti War Surrender Monkeys

The Al Qaeda allies in our government, a couple of months ago, looked us square in the eye and told us that they would agree to hold off on surrendering right now and then reevaluate again in September, after reviewing the progress report General Petraeus is scheduled to present. Apparently, Al Qaeda wants it done now and their "peeps" changed course and passed a surrender bill this week. The other theory I heard was that Pelosi did this because Cindy Sheehan came after her. The way I feel about them is that either theory is plausible.

Also, if you review the roll call numbers, remember that 10 them voted Nay because the surrender wouldn't happen fast enough.

Did we ever figure out if they actually have to stand up and raise both arms when voting to surrender?

Thanks to the intrepid detective work of NightTwister, I think we now know. He grabbed this photo of one of them, shortly before the vote, who had stepped outside to limber up.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Iraq update July 12, 2007

Overall, it sounds like there's been a slight shift in tactics. All the different operations are continuing as before, weapons cache uncovered, and Al Qaeda network dismantling is continuing. The shift is that we're shifting the focus a little more to the Mahdi army and the Iranian secret cells. Mind you, it's just a slight shift the way I see it and we are still nailing AQ constantly, but a noticeable shift.

In one of the Iraq report card benchmarks that had been met there was one caveat. Maliki has refused to allow us to take out one individual. I think that means al Sadr. That would explain why he's still living. If my guess is correct, then that's why Petreaus has been just attacking the Mahdi army, and not doing anything about the Iranian puppet.

So, "whack a mole" it isn't. Sherween village and Donkey Island prove that, once we move AQ out we are making sure they don't just settle in somewhere else. The mole head pops up and there's a shotgun pointed at it. I'm betting the old media will probably, once again, fail to report that to you though.

Somebody tell Harry Reid...

...to sit down and shut up.

Initial Benchmark Assessment Report is available:

Printable PDF

White House website

You know, the one that supposedly tells us that no benchmarks have been met by the Iraqi's.

Looks to me like there are 8 met, 8 unmet, and 2 too close to call.

But, what do I know...

Sherween village, Iraq

Operation Arrowhead Ripper is still ongoing in Diyala province, but it sounds like Baqubah is mostly free of Al Qaeda. AQ has been pushed out into the farmlands north of the city. A small Shiite village named Sherween in the north part of Diyala province was one place AQ tried to relocate to. The AP had a story on it yesterday. Unfortunately for their readers, they put a wrap on it way too early and have now gotten the story totally wrong. AQ tried to take over the village and no CF or IA had a presence there, so AQ probably figured they could just walk in and set up shop. The villagers were having nothing of it and grab guns and attempted to do what they could to defend their city. That's pretty much as far as the AP wanted to go with it and evidently left their readers with "Al Qaeda is winning" perception. Had the AP just watched the situation awhile longer they could have nailed the story which is, CF and IA together quickly assembled a force and went to the village. Air strikes were called in to knock down the 3 bridges leading out of the area, and they now have AQ trapped. What's going on there at the moment is the story. I'm thinking this will probably go the way "Donkey Island" went a couple of weeks ago. How many AQ killed versus captured may be different, but this is an act we've seen before. Keep an eye on whatever news sources you use for Sherween village or Iraqi's attacking Al Qaeda. I'll include the wrap up to the story in a later Iraq roundup as soon as it surfaces.

I'm not exactly sure on the spelling of the village name as it's a "pick one and go with it" deal with most of this stuff. I'm guessing the issue has to do with the translation from one language to another, but not sure.

Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail is all over it in his Iraq report. While you're there, if you have any spare change you could drop in his tip jar, he'd really appreciate it. He's a highly valued reporter for us and he's trying to expand his operation to get us even more news.

While we're at it, same deal with Michael Yon. Due to the conditions he has to deal with he's constantly breaking camera lens, cameras, computers, and other badly needed items.

Both of them are doing what they do out of their own pockets. Well, pockets and tip jars.


I guess it was probably out there when I posted this, but it went "Donkey Island" alright. A joint US and Iraq task force working side by side with the villagers. 20 AQI killed and 20 AQI detained. 2 weapons caches and 12 improvised explosive devices discovered.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Backgound noise

Earlier in the week, Al Qaeda gave Iran their "two month" notice to stop their actions in Iraq. Iran responded today with "screw you".

I haven't really put a lot of thought into this as I have a preconceived notion that it's more about dogs peeing on trees to mark their territory for when we surrender and leave. It seems to me to be more about who is going to run the genocide that will follow more than anything else.

It might be something else which I'll leave to you bigger brains to sort out.

And, just when I think old media has shriveled up and died, CNN actually found something to report.

Iraq update July 11, 2007

Michael Yon has his latest dispatch up. He describes what I'll refer to as the Diyala Salvation Council. I'm not going to attempt to summarize it for you because, as with any of his dispatches, that would be the same as me taking a piece of paper and a couple of crayons out and drawing the "Mona Lisa". It ain't happening.

I will mention one point he brings up that was interesting, and that is the fact that the Sunni's and Shia in Iraq do NOT consider Al Qaeda as Muslim.

Kimberly Kagan at the Wall Street Journal has an article up called "Moving Forward in Iraq" and John McCain addresses the Senate about Iraq in the Defense Authorization Act. Both will give you great background on what's going on. Although, with the major operations of "the surge" just now mid way through week three, I still say it's way too early for anyone to declare it won or lost, but that seems to be the theme lately. So, balance out what the old media gives you on the "it's lost" side with what McCain and Kagan present on the "it's won" side. Me? I think I'd like it to see it run until September when the agreed upon report from the General in charge is due to come in.

Syria is obviously still a problem and will need to be dealt with at some point.

I have some friends that want info specific to the Green Zone, but I'm just not finding a lot about that. I'm not sure why, other than it's supposedly loaded up with old media that apparently just don't feel like reporting. What I've come up with is that a few months ago, daily mortar and rocket attacks were the norm. Now it seems like it's less often, but on a larger scale. I'd have to say it's probably about the same, just different. I'm thinking if you know anyone there, encourage them to head to the bunkers when the alarms go off. I've got no read on at what point this issue will clear up.

Cool, if I stop here, it'll almost be a readable post!

Consider it a wrap...

Iraq government fails to meet all benchmarks

I've seen several versions of this headline in the old media which headline articles quoting some of our members of Congress, which leaves me with a dumbfounded look, staring at my computer monitor, thinking "and exactly what benchmarks have you dysfunctional idiots met since the surge in Iraq began?"

Witch hunts on the Bush administration don't count

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Anbar Salvation Council

Some of you know what the Anbar Salvation Council and the Anbar Awakening are, but if you don't, it's pretty vital for you to have that knowledge if you are going to make any kind of an educated analysis of whether General Petreaus's "surge" strategy is making progress, or has any chances of bringing security to Iraq. Here's the way I understand it after watching it happen 6 or so months ago and piecing all the different post references of it together:

The first part of the strategy was for the Coalition leaders to get out into the Iraqi communities and establish relationships with the local leaders, in order to win their trust and cooperation in running out the anti-Iraqi forces in their area. The first instance of this that I caught wind of was in al Anbar province. Al Qeada had taken the province over and the Coalition leadership had written off the province as a "lost cause" in mid 2006. In late 2006, the tribal Sheiks started meeting and a handful decided to band together and turn on Al Qeada. From my best estimates, there are approximately 30 or so tribes in al Anbar, which is physically the size of Utah. They called themselves "The Anbar Salvation Council" and joined with the CF in attacking and attempting to run off Al Qeada. After some initial successes, more tribes started joining the Council and eventually 27 or so were members. Al Qeada was pretty much run out of Anbar province and most of the Iraqi's there returned to a peaceful life. The coalition, not wanting to have an armed militia uncontrolled laying around convinced the Sheiks to roll the Anbar Salvation Council militia into the local police department. The did and then they were trained at the IP training camps and are to this day mostly providing their own security in Anbar province. The Coalition still needs to be there and handle instances of Al Qeada trying to come back in to retake any part of the province, but are augmented by having the tribes doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

The Anbar Salvation Council can be considered the military branch of this model and the political branch named themselves "The Anbar Awakening". The Awakening started to deal with the Iraqi national government to get economic recovery going and to improve the conditions in the province for the Iraqi people.

This model appears to have been an overwhelming success and is being replicated now in other provinces. This is critical information the mainstream media should have been reporting to you if any of them had an interest in providing you with any kind of unbiased reporting. Unfortunately, they and the anti-war surrender monkeys are apparently heavily invested in a defeat in Iraq.

See also Militias by Teflon Don at acutepolitics

Bumper sticker

Seen on a car on an Indian reservation:

"America, love it or give it back"

Monday, July 9, 2007

Iraq update July 9, 2007

I didn't do much on the computer over the weekend or I would have gotten an update out sooner. This will probably not end up being as short as I'd like it to be, but I've got to cover some ground to make for lost time.

Let's start of with the status of Baqubah. Michael Yon has an update from 05 July 2007:

Standard Michael Yon warning. This one has a pretty hideous Al Qeada story related to him, via an interpreter. Other than that paragraph, he really gets you a view on what is going on there.

Michael has another update out today where he comments more on the Al Qeada reports and comments on the mainstream media not reporting what's really going on called second chances. Great story on General Petreaus in that one too.

Al Qeada had a pretty big weekend. I noticed the MSM all reported the various bombings as coming from "Some Sunni groups" which is a deceptive way to report it. Yeah, Al Qeada could be considered "a Sunni group", but in their desire to help the anti-war surrender monkey's get their loss in Iraq, they lead the reader (or TV watcher) to believe it's a possible Civil War, rather than just Al Qeada being Al Qeada. IT'S AL QEADA, STUPID! Also, with the huge truck bomb that killed over 100 in the north, Al Qeada has once again killed innocents in an effort to give their allies in our government and our media something to take and run with to promote the "surrender now!" agenda. Unfortunately, that part works, but on the other hand, the governor of the area is encouraging all the civilians to pick up arms and help what little Iraqi police they have on hand to protect their cities and to go on the attack against the terrorists. Sounds like another Anbar Salvation Council model has now been created. The Coalition can help them with ammo and then bring them into the local police force so that they can be controlled and Al Qeada will have done tons more harm to their cause than what little good their allies in our government and media can provide them.

An overall view on the ongoing operations, from Bill Roggio's The Fourth Rail, summarized by yours truly:

Phantom Thunder is still rolling strong. Coalition and Iraqi forces are still going after the Al Qeada network, and al Sadr's fractured Mahdi Army, along with some Iranian backed "secret cells". Lots of activity all over, from what I can glean. The Washington Post reported on a suicide attack in Fallujah which never happened. I've checked every source I have, and the WaPo is the only source that believes it happened. You'd think those people living in Fallujah would be paying more attention to what's going on around them...

Al Sadr has fled back to Iran. He attempted to form several protests, but had less than 10,000 show up to the first 2 and then he just canceled the last one. I think we are watching him melt off into nothingness.

Task Force 145, which is now sometimes referred to as Task Force 88, killed 4 more Al Qeada and captured 9 in Khan Bani Sa'ad, wherever that is. Somewhere in the "Baghdad Belts". Bill Roggio has the full report for those that have the time to delve deeper:

Another note on the Diyala province. There were two suicide bombings out near the Iran Iraq border. Speculation by some is that Al Qeada is trying to keep an exit door open. Al Qeada exiting into Iran is drawing some thought from me lately. Iran is Shia, and Al Qeada is Sunni. I'm convinced that Sunni and Shia can actually live together in Iraq, but I'm not real convinced that Al Qeada's version of Sunni can live side by side with Iran's version of Shia. I also saw a report where Al Qeada has given Iran 2 months to stop their operations in Iraq. That one I can understand. Al Qeada believes they, with the help of their allies in our government and media, will be the big dogs in Iraq as the U.S. will be pulling out. I'm just not understanding how, if plan A fails because we stay, plan B of relocating to Iran after telling them to keep their noses out of "Al Qeada" business is going to work all that well.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

What's going on in Iraq?

Another Senator jumps on the "surrender in Iraq" bandwagon today. For the life of me, I can not see what in the hell they're looking at when they all come up with that "We obviously need to change direction in Iraq" line. What we're doing is just now into week 3 and, from what I can tell by checking the milblogs and the Multi Forces - Iraq website, things are most definitely NOT going badly. I'm not sure if ultimate levels of success can be determined this early, but wouldn't you need some kind of set back for you to determine a change of course is needed? Also, why is the change of course always to go back to the exact strategy that was failing from 2004 through most of 2006?

That's a real tragedy. No matter what your viewpoint of George W Bush is, no matter whether you believe we were right or wrong with our reasons to go into Iraq and remove Sadaam, and no matter what your wishes for the outcome of the 2008 Presidential election is, the simple fact is, this is an historical oppourtunity to help a people build a brand new nation. The Iraqi people are displaying multiple instances every day that they are willing to risk their lives to build this into something for their children that will endure for ages. Our troops are right there doing the same thing. There's also a whole lot of our troops that are "re-upping" to go right back over there to continue. I'm not real sure they actually even WANT our Congress to "save" them from this task.

Glad the French government didn't act like ours is now, back in 1777. Sure, they took their time trying to decide if we were serious about the whole endeavor, but once they commited, they stood by us through the good and the bad, saw it through to the end, and played a key role in us winning our independence.

I think that's a history lesson we should be following.