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j-dawg 08-22-2007 11:32 AM

"The War As We Saw It"
A few weeks back the New York Times published an article by Michael E. O'Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack about our potential chances of "stability" in Iraq. Many folks touted this article as "proof" that we were "winning" in Iraq. It even was discussed on this board.

So last week the New York Times published an article written by infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon to be heading back home.

In it they voiced their skepticism of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest they see every day.

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the ?battle space? remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers? expense.

To suggest these views are null to the insights of Iraq is laughable. These guys would know the situation better than any reporter out there.

Cape Cod Steel Head 08-22-2007 11:35 AM

Re: "The War As We Saw It"
I suggest if you want an insiders point of view( the ones who are doing the fighting and dying) watch The War Tapes.

j-dawg 08-22-2007 11:43 AM

Re: "The War As We Saw It"
I've watched that... the military channel has solid programming. I don't understand your reference here though... unless it was to suggest that the writers of this article aren't insiders. They've been in Iraq for the past 15 months fighting and dying as well.

Cape Cod Steel Head 08-22-2007 02:11 PM

Re: "The War As We Saw It"
No, just that that was a very well done project and would bring IMO a better sense of whats going on than a news article.

lamberts-lost-tooth 08-22-2007 02:58 PM

Re: "The War As We Saw It"

Soldiers: Withdrawal From Iraq Would Be A Disaster

When the boots on the ground start talking like this we all need to listen.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SYKES, Iraq, —For the U.S. troops fighting in Iraq, the war is alternately violent and hopeful, sometimes very hot and sometimes very cold. It is dusty and muddy, calm and chaotic, deafeningly loud and eerily quiet.

The one thing the war is not, however, is finished, dozens of soldiers across the country said in interviews. And leaving Iraq now would have devastating consequences, they said.

With a potentially historic U.S. midterm election on Tuesday and the war in Iraq a major issue at the polls, many soldiers said the United States should not abandon its effort here. Such a move, enlisted soldiers and officers said, would set Iraq on a path to civil war, give new life to the insurgency and create the possibility of a failed state after nearly four years of fighting to implant democracy. . . .

The soldiers declined to discuss the political jousting back home, but they expressed support for the Bush administration’s approach to the war, which they described as sticking with a tumultuous situation to give Iraq a chance to stand on its own.

Here’s what the troops themselves had to say.
Lt. Col. Mark Suich:

“Take us out of that vacuum—and it’s on the edge now—and boom, it would become a free-for-all,” said Lt. Col. Mark Suich, who commands the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment just south of Baghdad. “It would be a raw contention for power. That would be the bloodiest piece of this war.”

Capt. Jim Modlin:

Capt. Jim Modlin, 26, of Oceanport, N.J., said he thought the situation in Iraq had improved between his deployment in 2003 and his return this year as a liaison officer to Iraqi security forces with the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, based here on FOB Sykes outside Tall Afar. Modlin described himself as more liberal than conservative and said he had already cast his absentee ballot in Texas. He said he believed that U.S. elected officials would lead the military in the right direction, regardless of what happens Tuesday.

“Pulling out now would be as bad or worse than going forward with no changes,” Modlin said. “Sectarian violence would be rampant, democracy would cease to exist, and the rule of law would be decimated. It’s not ‘stay the course,’ and it’s not ‘cut and run’ or other political catchphrases. There are people’s lives here. There are so many different dynamics that go on here that a simple solution just isn’t possible.”

Maj. General Benjamin Mixin:

“This is a worthwhile endeavor,” said Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of Multinational Division North and the 25th Infantry Division. “Nothing that is worthwhile is usually easy, and we need to give this more time for it to all come together. We all want to come home, but we have a significant investment here, and we need to give the Iraqi army and the Iraqi people a chance to succeed.”

Capt. Mike Lingenfelter:

Capt. Mike Lingenfelter, 32, of Panhandle, Tex., said that U.S. troops have earned the trust of residents in Tall Afar over the past couple of years and that leaving now would send the wrong message. His Comanche Troop of the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment is working with Iraqi forces to give them control of the city.

“We’ll pull their feet out from under them if we leave,” Lingenfelter said.

“It’s still fragile enough now that if the coalition were to leave, it would embolden the insurgents. A lot of people have put their trust and faith in us to see it to the end. It would be an extreme betrayal for us to leave.”

Sgt. Jonathan Kirkendall:

Sgt. Jonathan Kirkendall, 23, of Falls City, Neb., said he fears that many Americans think that building the country to viability will be “quick and easy,” when he believes it could take many years. Kirkendall, of the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division in Baghdad, is on his third deployment to Iraq and celebrated his 21st and 23rd birthdays here.

“If they say leave in six months, we’ll leave in six months. If they say six years, it’s six years,” said Kirkendall, who is awaiting the birth of his first daughter, due next week.

“I’m just an average soldier, and I’ll do what they tell me to do. I’m proud to be a part of it, either way it goes, but I’d like to see it through.”

A lot of critics of the war in Iraq go on and on about how it’s a failure and how we cannot achieve victory, yet I think the point many of those critics miss is that victory in Iraq is actually a very simple thing. All we have to do is leave the representative Iraqi government in a position to be able to defend itself so that Iraq does not fall back into the hands of extremists and terrorists.

Granted, that is probably going to take two or three more years, but it is an achievable goal. We can get there, we just need to give the mission time. These soldiers recognize that even as they’re laying their very lives on the line every day in Iraq. I wish more Americans got it as well.

So based on THESE statements....I guess the point of the New York Times article would be that if one looks hard can find soldiers who disagree with the war.

Now THAT'S some investigative reporting!!!!:thumbsup:

lamberts-lost-tooth 08-22-2007 03:38 PM

Re: "The War As We Saw It"

Originally Posted by Cape Cod Steel Head (Post 282232)
I suggest if you want an insiders point of view( the ones who are doing the fighting and dying) watch The War Tapes.

I would suggest if you want an accurate insiders point of view ... you should consider that this article is based on the liberal leanings of only 7 soldiers from 82nd...made up of the following Battallions, Brigades and Teams:

Makeup of the 82nd Airborne Division Units:

Division Special Troops Battalion
1st Brigade Combat Team
1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment
3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment
307th Brigade Support Battalion
1st BCT Special Troops Battalion

2nd Brigade Combat Team
1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment
2nd Battalion, 325 Airborne Infantry Regiment
1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment
2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment
407th Brigade Support Battalion
2nd BCT Special Troops Battalion

3rd Brigade Combat Team
1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment
2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment
5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment
1st Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment
82nd Brigade Support Battalion
3rd BCT Special Troops Battalion

4th Brigade Combat Team
1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment (Former 3-504)
2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment (Former 3-325)
4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment
2nd Battalion, 321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment
782nd Brigade Support Battalion
4th BCT Special Troops Battalion

Combat Aviation Brigade
1st Battalion, 82nd Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance) AH-64D Apache Longbow
2nd Battalion, 82nd Aviation Regiment (Assault) UH-60L Black Hawk
3rd Battalion, 82nd Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation)
1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance)
122nd Aviation Support Battalion

82nd Sustainment Brigade
Sustainment Brigade Special Troops Battalion

82nd Division Special Troops Battalion
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 82nd Airborne Division
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 82nd Division Special Troops Battalion
Alpha Company (Signal Company)
82nd Airborne Division Band
82nd Airborne Division Advanced Airborne School

(I for one would be happy to let the soldiers in the field decide if we should stay in Iraq....I doubt if the left-wingers would be willing to do the same..which sorta makes the whole New York Times article a moot-point doesnt it?)

revefsreleets 08-22-2007 06:39 PM

Re: "The War As We Saw It"
Following is a very interesting and enlightening article that shows exactly how delicate the situation is both for our military and the Iraqi's they support.


FALLUJA, Iraq — Falluja’s police chief, Col. Faisal Ismail Hussein, waved aloft a picture of a severed head in a bucket as a reminder of the brutality of the fundamentalist Sunni militias that once controlled this city. But he also described an uncertain future without “my only supporters,” the United States Marine Corps.

Nearly three years after invading and seizing Falluja from insurgents, the Marines are engaged in another struggle here: trying to build up a city, and police force, that seem to get little help from the Shiite-dominated national government.

Fallujans complain that they are starved of generator fuel and medical care because of a citywide vehicle ban imposed by the mayor, a Sunni, in May. But in recent months violence has fallen sharply, a byproduct of the vehicle ban, the wider revolt by Sunni Arab tribes against militants and a new strategy by the Marines to divide Falluja into 10 tightly controlled precincts, each walled off by concrete barriers and guarded by a new armed Sunni force.

Security has improved enough that they are planning to largely withdraw from the city by next spring. But their plan hinges on the performance of the Iraqi government, which has failed to provide the Falluja police with even the most routine supplies, Marine officers say.

The gains in Falluja, neighboring Ramadi and other areas in Anbar Province, once the most violent area in Iraq and the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency, are often cited as a success story, a possible model for the rest of Iraq. But interviews with marines and Iraqi officials in Falluja suggest that the recent relative calm here is fragile and that the same sectarian rivalries that have divided the Iraqi government could undermine security as soon as the Marines leave.

Rank-and-file marines question how security forces here would fare on their own, especially when the vehicle ban is lifted.

If Falluja were left unsupervised too soon, “there is a good chance we would lose everything we have gained,” said Sgt. Chris Turpin, an intelligence analyst with a military training team here.

Marine commanders emphasize there is no hard-and-fast date for leaving the city. “A lot of people say that without the Americans it’s all going to collapse,” said Col. Richard Sim****, the commander of Marine Regimental Combat Team Six in eastern Anbar. “I’m not that negative. I’ve seen too much success here to believe that.”

Most of the fuel, ammunition and vehicle maintenance for the Falluja police is still supplied by the American military, said Maj. Todd Sermarini, the marine in charge of police training here.

Some police officers have been forced to buy gasoline from black-market roadside vendors. “Ammunition is a big problem, weapons are a problem, and wages are a problem,” said Capt. Al Cheng, 34, a company commander working with the police here.

Many Sunni leaders here contend that the Shiite-dominated government is neglecting them for sectarian reasons, and the bad feelings at times boil over into angry accusations. In interviews conducted in early August, some said that factions in the Interior Ministry were taking orders from Iran, or that the government was withholding money and support because it did not want to build up Sunni security forces that it could end up fighting after an eventual American withdrawal from Iraq.

Iraqi officials in Baghdad deny shortchanging Falluja, saying they have authorized more than enough police forces for Anbar. “We’d like to support them, but that does not mean we can respond to their requests or demands,” said Sadiq al-Rikabi, political adviser to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. He said the government had problems supplying the police throughout Iraq.

The Marines operate as a “shock absorber” between the locals and the central government, said Brig. Gen. John Allen, the deputy Marine commander in Anbar Province. The animosity toward Baghdad among the Sunnis here “worries me, but I don’t despair of it,” he said, adding that he thought the government’s lack of support was more a result of bureaucratic inefficiency than sectarian hostility. “The challenge for us is to connect the province to the central government.”

But first, marines in Falluja have to connect residents with their own police force. On a recent weekend, that involved establishing a joint American-Iraqi security outpost in Andalus, one of the city’s worst neighborhoods, where the pockmarked buildings still bear the scars of the 2004 American assault.

In just 24 hours, marines cut enough electrical cable and plywood to turn a shell of a building into a functioning outpost, one of the 10 they are building, one for each precinct, and to wall off the precinct behind concrete barriers, leaving only a few ways in or out.

The next step was to recruit an auxiliary force to help the police. After careful screening, they hired 200 Iraqis to serve in a neighborhood watch for the precinct, part of an effort to bolster the undersized force of slightly more than 1,000 police officers for the city and surrounding area. The members of the new force are paid $50 a month by the Marines to stand guard — mostly at checkpoints at the entrances to the neighborhood — with weapons they bring from home, typically AK-47s.

Seven of the city’s 10 precincts have now gotten the same treatment as Andalus. The idea behind the outposts was to roust the Iraqi police from their central headquarters, which they seldom left, and get them into the neighborhood outposts.

The new plan makes it easier for marines to act as mentors for the policemen, whose heavy-handed tactics remain a concern. The police need to learn not to arrest “a hundred people” for a single crime, Colonel Sim**** said. “What’s going to stop Al Qaeda is not having 99 people angry at the police because they were wrongfully arrested,” he said.

revefsreleets 08-22-2007 06:39 PM

Re: "The War As We Saw It"

Despite the marines’ best efforts to screen recruits, Captain Cheng said, “it wouldn’t surprise me that a lot of the guys we used to fight are in the neighborhood watch.” But he says the new force has already made a difference, turning in active insurgents and guarding precincts that have only 10 or 20 police officers on patrol at any one time.

Captain Cheng says the plan to turn Falluja’s security over to the police is on track, but he points out how much the marines still do. “We are the ones emplacing the barriers, we are the ones hiring the neighborhood watch,” he said. “We are the ones establishing the conditions for them to succeed.”

Violence has dropped sharply in the city, where no marines have been killed or wounded since mid-May. But deadly skirmishes have been common around the nearby village of Karma and in remote areas north of Falluja.

Twenty-five service members have been killed in Anbar Province since the beginning of July, according to, making it by far the deadliest province after Baghdad.

The struggle to supply the police overshadows another important element in the American military’s gains in Anbar: contracts awarded to Sunni tribal allies in rural areas.

The tribes have relatively little influence in Falluja but dominate elsewhere in the province. Their decision to ally with the Marines helped stabilize the entire region, and men from tribes now serve in provincial security forces to help keep insurgents at bay.

One Marine civil affairs officer estimates that a quarter of the $10 million his unit has committed to spending around Falluja since March has gone to the Abu Issa tribe, which is centered west of Falluja. The Jumaili, a tribe near Karma, has received $1 million, the officer said. The contracts are typically for water treatment plants, refurbishing clinics and similar projects.

“The politics here are very much governed by greed, and this is the real alliance in Anbar,” said an American reconstruction official here who worries the contracts are only a temporary glue with the tribes and who was not authorized to speak publicly. If the Iraqi government provided more, “everything would be much more sustainable.”

The last security outpost is set to be finished in September, followed by four new police stations scattered throughout the city. If all goes as planned, the marines should begin leaving the city early next year, said Lt. Col. Bill Mullen, who commands the Second Battalion, Sixth Marines, the unit that patrols Falluja.

In effect, the Marines are predicting they can leave Falluja on the same timeline many in Congress want to see troops pulled back to larger bases or leaving altogether. Troops who would have patrolled Falluja would deploy into outlying areas by April, but close enough to reinforce the city in a crisis, Colonel Mullen said. Small police training and liaison teams would also remain.

“Everything we are doing is oriented toward our ability to leave,” he said, adding that the most likely obstacle to leaving by April would be the continued failure of the Interior Ministry to supply the police. “You can’t help hearing stuff going on back in the United States, and Congress reaching for the chain to pull the plug out of the bathtub. The smart money says there is finite time.”

The Iraqi Army has already been pulling out of Falluja. The last battalion is scheduled to leave in September. Though the marines here say the Iraqi soldiers were a good unit, there has been tension between the police and the soldiers, who one marine commander said were 90 percent Shiite. Marines say guns-drawn confrontations have occurred, though none recently.

The tensions briefly boiled over on a recent joint patrol through Andalus, when the police accused Iraqi soldiers of stealing blankets from large bags of supplies being handed to residents from the back of trucks.

As people from the neighborhood looked on, the soldiers accused the police of being “moles” and “spies” for insurgents, and the Iraqi Army commander shouted and shook his finger in the faces of policemen. The police shouted back, accusing the soldiers of serving as Iranian agents. Afterward, the police and army commanders calmed down their troops and shook hands.

If the Iraqi government provided a large and steady supply of men, weapons, vehicles and equipment, the police could secure the city, said Colonel Hussein, the Falluja police chief. But he complained of little support from the government except for salaries, which he doubted would be paid if the Americans were not here. He said he also needed four times more policemen. “Without the role of the Marines, I’ll fail,” he said.

Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, a senior Interior Ministry spokesman, called Colonel Hussein’s comments “unprofessional.” In an interview, he said if the Falluja police had an equipment shortage then they failed to request enough gear earlier.

He added that if Colonel Hussein is so fond of the Marines, perhaps he should apply for American citizenship.

Wisam A. Habeeb and Abdul Razzaq al-Saiedi contributed reporting from Baghdad.

j-dawg 08-22-2007 07:43 PM

Re: "The War As We Saw It"

Originally Posted by lamberts-lost-tooth (Post 282303)
I would suggest if you want an accurate insiders point of view ... you should consider that this article is based on the liberal leanings of only 7 soldiers from 82nd...made up of the following Battallions, Brigades and Teams:

(I for one would be happy to let the soldiers in the field decide if we should stay in Iraq....I doubt if the left-wingers would be willing to do the same..which sorta makes the whole New York Times article a moot-point doesnt it?)

sure... because these soldiers express their concerns about the importance of a political solution they're "liberals".... you bet, and there's only SEVEN of 'em... shessh...

as for the entire 82nd voting on the mission... they do, they vote for the politicians in our government... might have something to do with the democrats taking congress... but such a point is moot anyway, cause we both know the military would never allow the troops to vote on weather or not they should stay in Iraq.

revefsreleets 08-22-2007 08:40 PM

Re: "The War As We Saw It"
This situation has moved way beyond partisan politics. What's done is done, and we are there. There are two alternatives. Leave and watch it rot, or stay and continue on. I think if we leave then every single American life was wasted, and I don't toss the word "wasted" out there willy-nilly like Barack Obama did, I mean it in it's truest sense. We will have thrown away our young soldiers lives for next to nothing. I think even most of them sense that now.

The UN is going to get involved, which I think is necessary, even though I'm not a huge fan. What it does is admit a truly neutral player onto the field. I think we will see some real changes in Iraq over the next few months.

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