Starting with OpFor and a chat with General David Petraeus.
For those that do not know who General Petraeus is, he is now in command of the new strategy, the counterinsurgency effort that has, so far, shown tremendous success in Iraq.
In 2003, Petraeus, then a major general, commanded the 101st Airborne Division during V Corps's drive to Baghdad. In a campaign chronicled in detail by Rick Atkinson of the Washington Post's book "In the Company of Soldiers," Petraeus led his division through the battles of Karbala, Hilla, and Najaf (where he came under fire during an ambush by Iraqi paramilitary forces). The 101st was not, as had been expected, called upon to lead urban combat in Baghdad, leading to some limited criticism of the division's role in the campaign. Instead, as V Corps's lines of supply came under threat from attacks by irregular forces in the cities of the Euphrates river valley, the division's three brigades, reinforced by an armored battalion, took the lead in clearing the cities of Najaf, Karbala, and Hilla. Other notable roles filled by the 101st during the campaign included an armed feint toward Hilla to cover the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized)'s drive through the Karbala Gap, an armed reconnaissance by the division's brigade of Apache attack helicopters, and the relief of beleaguered elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment at the Haditha Dam. Following the fall of Baghdad, the division conducted the longest heliborne assault on record in order to reach Nineveh Province, where Petraeus and his 2nd Brigade would spend much of the next year (the 1st Brigade was responsible for the area south of Mosul and the 3rd Brigade for the region stretching toward the Syrian border). Despite his later deployments to Iraq with the Multinational Security Transition Command and the Multinational Force, Petraeus wears the "Screaming Eagle" of the 101st on his right shoulder as his combat patch.
An often-repeated story of Petraeus's time with the 101st is his habit of asking embedded reporters to "Tell me where this ends," an anecdote many journalists have used to portray Petraeus as an early recognizer of the difficulties that would follow the fall of Baghdad. Indeed, it was during the year after the invasion that Petraeus and the 101st gained fame for their performance in Iraq, not for the combat operations in Karbala and Najaf but for the rebuilding and administration of Mosul and Nineveh Province. Described by one former subordinate as "the most competitive man on earth," and by another as "phenomenal at getting people to reach their potential"; these two traits of intensity and cultivation of subordinate officers have widely been reported as key to his success in Mosul. Although Petraeus oversaw a program of public works projects and political reinvigoration that made the city one of the most peaceful in Iraq during the first year of the war, during 2004, after the 101st replacement by I Corps's Task Force Olympia, Mosul became a major battleground in the fight against the Sunni insurgency that erupted that spring. Petraeus and his supporters point to the assassination of the governor of Nineveh the following July, five months after the 101st departed, as the catalyst for the 2004 violence, not the unit's redeployment.
In June 2004, less than six months after the 101st returned to the U.S., Petraeus was promoted to lieutenant general and charged with the task of training the new Iraqi Army and security forces as commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq. During his stay at MNSTC-I, Petraeus oversaw the expansion of Iraqi military and police from nearly zero-strength to considerable size. Critics point to the incomplete state of the Iraqi forces at the time the general handed the command over to Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey in September 2005. Yet despite criticism of Iraqi troops' performance, most accounts of Petraeus's time at MNSTC-I note the sheer scale of the increase in the Iraqi Army's size during the general's tenure. Moreover, Petraeus gained a reputation at MNSTC-I as an effective motivator of Iraqi troops, making many visits to frontline Iraqi units to perform inspections and boost morale, and during his January 2007 Senate testimony, he described both punitive measures he took against Iraqi units that did not live up to expectations and rewards he gave to those units that performed well. One officer who served under Petraeus at MNSTC-I wrote that after working for the general, he was convinced that "He will re-energize a tired U.S. mission in Iraq and refocus their objectives. He is a superb counterinsurgent, and the American people will start to see results in Iraq instead of stagnation."
His Decorations and Awards:
* Defense Distinguished Service Medal
* Distinguished Service Medal (with Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Defense Superior Service Medal (with Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Legion of Merit (with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Bronze Star Medal (with “V” Device)
* Defense Meritorious Service Medal
* Meritorious Service Medal (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Joint Service Commendation Medal
* Army Commendation Medal (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Joint Service Achievement Medal
* Army Achievement Medal
* Combat Action Badge
* Expert Infantryman Badge
* Master Parachutist Badge
* Air Assault Badge
* Ranger Tab
* Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
* Army Staff Identification Badge
* NATO Meritorious Service Medal
* State Department Superior Honor Award
* Gold Award of the Iraqi Order of the Date Palm
Petraeus was confirmed as a four-star general and MNF-I commander by a unanimous vote on January 27.
Confirmed by unanimous vote but Congress and the Senate are tring to deny him the tools and funds he needs to complet the mission they voted to give him.
Back to OpFor's interview with this brilliant man. The General is under no illusions, understands his mission is more than difficult, but believes the job is "doable".
Go read it, all of it.
The we have John McCain and Lindsey Graham saying what I have said here consistently from the day I started this blog.... Americans sitting in fron of their computers or televisions are NOT seeing the full story in Iraq, the story that our soldiers constantly tell us that our media is deliberately keeping from the average citizen here in America.
BAGHDAD -- Sen. John McCain criticized reports out of Iraq he said focused unfairly on violence, saying Sunday that Americans were not getting a "full picture" of progress in the security crackdown in the capital.
McCain, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, was combative during a press conference in the military's media center in the heavily guarded Green Zone, and responded testily to a question about remarks he had made in the United States last week that it was safe to walk some Baghdad streets.
"The American people are not getting the full picture of what's happening here. They're not getting the full picture of the drop in murders, the establishment of security outposts throughout the city, the situation in Anbar province, the deployment of additional Iraqi brigades which are performing well, and other signs of progress having been made," said McCain, of Arizona.
He said the Republican congressional delegation he led to Iraq drove from Baghdad's airport to the center of the city, citing that as proof that security was improving in the capital. Prominent visitors normally make the trip by helicopter.
The delegation was accompanied by heavily armed U.S. troops when they were not in the Green Zone, site of the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government. They traveled in armored military vehicles under heavy guard.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, criticized congressional Democrats who passed spending legislation that would set deadlines for pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq. He said President Bush would veto the measures and should.
"It will be a huge mistake to set a deadline. It (the U.S. troop surge) is working. We are doing now what we should have done three years ago. ... The Iraqi people want their own destiny but they don't have the capabilities yet," he said.
The delegation, which also included Rep. Mike Pence, a Republican from Indiana, and Rep. Rick Renzi, an Arizona Republican, spoke glowingly of an hour they spent in the Bab al-Sharqi market which was hit by a suicide bomber on Jan. 22. At least 88 people died in the attack.
The congressmen said they were impressed with the resilience and warmth of the Iraqi people, some of whom they said would not take their money for souvenirs the delegation bought.
Now many would like to hide this truth or try to discredit by pointing out that Senator McCain and Graham had protection along with them on their stroll.
That does not change the fact that earlier, even WITH protection, they could not have made this little stroll.
Because of the recent successes and progress that has accompanied the new security plan and strategy being implemented inIraq by General Petraeus, it makes it even more imperative for the Democrats to do everything in their power to try to force defeat upon America sooner rather than later.
They need to do this before the majority of the American people become aware of how well this new security plan is working so far.
Which brings us to their new plan of forced defeat.
(a) Transition of Mission - The President shall promptly transition the mission of United States forces in Iraq to the limited purposes set forth in subsection (d).
(b) Commencement of Safe, Phased Redeployment from Iraq - The President shall commence the safe, phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq that are not essential to the purposes set forth in subsection (d). Such redeployment shall begin not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
(c) Prohibition on Use of Funds - No funds appropriated or otherwise made available under any provision of law may be obligated or expended to continue the deployment in Iraq of members of the United States Armed Forces after March 31, 2008.
(d) Exception for Limited Purposes - The prohibition under subsection (c) shall not apply to the obligation or expenditure of funds for the limited purposes as follows:
(1) To conduct targeted operations, limited in duration and scope, against members of al Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations.
(2) To provide security for United States infrastructure and personnel.
(3) To train and equip Iraqi security services.
Please note the line I bolded and ask yourself a question.
Does anyone think al-Qaeda wears a uniform or badge or any other identifying mark that would allow our troops to be able to identify them as "al-Qaeda"?
Someone shoots at you, make sure you stop, ask them if they are al-Qaeda and if they answer no, DON'T SHOOT BACK AT THEM!!!!!!!!!!
That line alone shows the stupidity that is Feingold and Reid.
Utterly laughable if it weren't so sad.
From Confederate Yankee:
Meanwhile, on the ground in al Anbar, soldier/blogger "Teflon Don" speculates that the insurgency may be reaching a tipping point.I'll try to keep writing about the winds here in Al-Anbar. I'll go out on a little bit of a limb and say that the insurgency is quickly approaching a tipping point. If things continue as they are right now, our military won't need a surge to chase the terrorists out of Anbar- the citizens will do it for us, which is as it should be. It's beginning to show already: more local tips, more police recruits (far more than anticipated), and sadly- in bigger and more desperate Al-Qaeda attacks.
He concludes this thought-provoking post by stating:It's a big job, but I think we may have finally learned enough forgotten lessons from places like East Timor, Vietnam, Ireland, Malaysia, and others that it just might work this time.
Color me hopeful.
It might not come as much of a surprise to discover that others on the ground in Iraq are also seeing these same hopeful signs, which is perhaps why Reid and Feingold are so desperately trying to push to lose the war now before signs of a positive change become more widely known.
The media runs with the following goal, if it bleeds it leads, the soldiers simply tell us what is happening on the ground, the bad and the good.
Once again, I believe our soldiers because they are on the ground speaking facts while the news outlets are trying to sell papers and make money and our politicians are trying to score political points.
Barack Obama, for everyones talk about his lack of experience, has the common sense to understand that endangering our troops lives with political games will do nothing but harm his party.
If President Bush vetoes an Iraq war spending bill as promised, Congress quickly will provide the money without the withdrawal timeline the White House objects to because no lawmaker ``wants to play chicken with our troops,'' Sen. Barack Obama said Sunday.
``My expectation is that we will continue to try to ratchet up the pressure on the president to change course,'' the Democratic presidential candidate said in an interview with The Associated Press. ``I don't think that we will see a majority of the Senate vote to cut off funding at this stage.''
Given that Bush is determined to veto a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, Congress has little realistic choice but to approve money for the war, Obama said.
``I think that nobody wants to play chicken with our troops on the ground,'' said Obama. ``I do think a majority of the Senate has now expressed the belief that we need to change course in Iraq.
``Obviously we're constrained by the fact that a commander in chief who also has veto power has the option of ignoring that position,'' Obama said.
In another article by Dick Morris (I am not a big fan of his) and Eileen McGann, we see where this "game of chicken" is likely to lead.
April 2, 2007 -- DEMOCRATS in Congress are heading into a game of chicken with the Bush White House akin to the Gingrich-Clinton government shutdown battle of 1995-96. The roles are reversed this time - so the Republicans are likely to prevail.
The consequences will be lasting. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will find their party shattered. Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will be forced to choose sides in their party's schism.
The game will unfold predictably. The House and the Senate will compromise on the differences in their legislation funding the Iraq War; the end product, carrying poison-pill language that sets a deadline for troop withdrawal, will go to the White House to face an inevitable presidential veto. The Democrats' override attempt will fail - and a deadlock will ensue.
Then the Democrats will threaten to withhold funding for the war in Iraq unless the White House agrees to some form of deadline. The Bush administration will reply that it will never agree to a schedule for troop withdrawal - and both sides will glare at the other across an abyss.
But Bush will, inevitably, win the game of chicken. Pelosi and Reid have too much sense to be caught denying funding to troops in combat. Bush will make the price of obstinacy too great for the Democrats to bear.
Nobody will want to be in the position of cutting off funding and appearing to undermine the troops during a war.
The article then goes on to state the obvious ramifications to the Democratic party from the course they have chosen to follow.
Read the whole thing.
We are seeing progress where we saw failure before this new security plan was implemented.
The blogs based IN Iraq show us this, our militray commanders show us this, our soldiers are telling us this.
Is it any wonder why no one trusts the Dems with our National Security?