Inventories are the bane of just about everyone in the military. I hesitate to say everyone because somewhere out there is a masochist who just loves to crawl through dusty storage closets and squint his beady little eyes to read serial numbers on widgets just so that he can get another bullet on his evaluation. I, however, am not one of these creatures, but I do make a concerted effort to do a good job because if I don't I could go to jail.
There are some pieces of equipment that if lost through my negligence I could become a guest of the federal government at sunny Ft. Leavenworth where I would get to make big rocks into little rocks for a number of years. I keep this cheery thought in the front of my mind whenever it comes time to do inventories and it does a lot to motivate me to do a good job. On the other end of the spectrum, there are some things that if lost I would simply have to fork over the money to replace them. While this isn't as motivating as not going to a federal "pound-me-in-the-_ _ _" penatentary, I'd still rather not have to spend the money.
For this inventory, not only did I not lose any equipment, but neither did any of my Soldiers. None of us have to pay for new equipment and none of us will become Bubba's special lady. That makes me happy.
In much more significant news ... when was the last time you heard a civilian body count? I sure haven't been hearing those headlines of "Hundreds die every day in Baghdad" like I used to. Could that maybe be because civilians aren't being killed by the hundreds? ... curious
Maybe it has something to do with the Iraqi Security Forces. Listen to what MG Caldwell had to say about them:
Yeah ... it's quite the quagmire here. Ya know, I don't claim that the strategy or our execution of it is perfect, but what I do claim is that it is working. People portray things as lost and beyond control, that everything we're doing is 180 degress off course in order to further their agenda, whatever it may be. These people are wrong. There may be a better way to win this war, but this is the way we're doing it and we are winning.
In total today, there are six of 10 Iraqi army divisions in the lead, 30 of 36 Iraqi brigades, and 90 of 112 Iraqi battalions in the lead. And we operate in support of them. All across Iraq, we continue to see an increasingly capable Iraqi security force continuing to take the lead. [And let's not forget two whole provinces!]
There have been isolated clashes recently in locations around Iraq between the militias and government of Iraq forces, such as in Amarah, Diwaniyah. We've seen sectarian violence in Balad and Saba al-Bor, primarily between Sunni and Shi'a. These clashes have garnered sensational headlines, however, they are not clashes that had uncontrolled continued violence. What we saw, to the credit of Iraqi security forces and local leaders, was some action. In each case, Iraqi security forces, acting on their own, played a critical role in quelling the violence within days. Local leaders, both political and religious, in coordination with Iraqi security forces, came together to take action necessary to prevent the violence from spiraling out of control.
So what we see in actions taking place all over Iraq is that Iraqis are taking charge of their country, and they're doing it valiantly. Violence will flare up again in areas that are under Iraqi control. The question will be, can they handle these situations themselves? In all these incidents they did; they responded and they returned calm to the areas. The Iraqis brought an Iraqi solution to an Iraqi problem, which is precisely the strategy for Iraq.