Mark continues to grow. I beam with pride every time a new person stops by to meet him and gasps at how large he is. While Katie doesn't necessarily share my level of pride in his size just yet, (afterall, she was the one carrying him around for 9 months, going through 36 hours of labor, and finally getting a C section) but she is just as proud of the little guy as I am. The people whose reaction I'm the most amused by are the nurses. I don't know if they're supposed to act like every child is the most amazing they've ever seen to stroke the parent's ego, but so far upon hearing that he was 9.5 pounds and 21.5 inches each one has made a face of amazement and said, "Ach, nein!" which losely translates to, "NO WAY!"
Since I'm on R&R at the moment, I'm able to spend most of my time in the hospital with Katie. I took my computer to her room so we can watch DVDs while Mark sleeps which has been a contributing factor in my not having posted in a while. I have been taking all sorts of pictures with my new camera bought specifcally for the occasion, but since the computer is at the hospital I'm not yet able to publish them as I don't have all the parts I need in one place. I'll get creative tonight and figure out a way to put some of the better pictures online, I don't think anyone's too concerned to see the picture of Mark wiggling so much that his arms disappear in the blur making him look like a burrito with a noggin on top.
You'll also be happy to know that I finally defeated the poopy diaper! Emboldened by my wife's close observation and advice I managed to "ick" my way through several rotations of dirty diapers. Thankfully he has finally gotten most of the tar stuff out of his system ("out of his system", that used to be a figurative term) and it's much easier to clean up now, though much more stinky.
Something that's been creeping up on my lately is having to go back. I still have about a week left here so it's not too close yet, but I'm already finding ways to prepare myself mentally for having to say goodbye to my sweetie again and my son for the first time. What I like to do is focus on the positive things, like being able to be back with my Soldiers. It kills me that I'm here and they're still there. Another "positive" thing, though very likely selfish, is that I won't have to clean up diapers for about another five months. Naturally diaper detail is well worth the benefits of being there to see him grow, but I'm trying to focus on the positive, remember.
I'll also get to carry a pistol again. After living with a pistol strapped to my hip for 7 months I feel vulnerable without it. A common theme for Soldiers freshly out of the desert is weapon loss anxiety (I made up the name, but it's an accurate description). This is when at seemingly random moments, the troop panics and frantically looks around to see where the weapon was left only to realize that it was been turned in weeks ago. So far the funniest thing that's happened to me as a result of having been deployed is that after a particular German victory in the World Cup, I was walking down the street to my house when a kid lit a string of firecrackers and tossed it out into the road behind me in celebration. Upon hearing the first "BANG" I jumped behind the closest car I could find. After realizing that those weren't gunshots I looked around to see if anyone had seen me, a foregone conclusion when you're 6'5". I got some funny looks, but it seemed that most people just though I had simply been frightened and didn't realize that I was a Soldier.
As for the news from Iraq, I must confess that I haven't really been paying attention lately as I've been absorbed with Mark and Katie. I did catch a headline at Iraq the Model though saying that mentioned that some of the insurgent groups are beginning to talk reconcilliation. Very interesting stuff over there at ITM.
I have begun to put together my paper outlining how we're achieving victory in Iraq. I'm eager to get it finished, but I'm more eager to get it right so I'm taking it slow. You can be assured that I'll be publishing the whole thing here, though likely in installments over time as it would probably be too long for a single post.
And speaking of long posts, I'm gonna wrap this one up. I need to get myself cleaned up to go to the hospital and be with my family again! Thanks for all the kind posts everyone, they do brighten my day!
So there I was! Surrounded by fluffy blankets, diapers, and baby wipes. Having just heard a loud noise come from the direction of my son's rear end, I decided that the best course of action was a frontal assult.
As I approached the changing table with my son in my arms, my sweetie called from her hospital bed, "Do you want me to help?"
Calmly looking over my shoulder I said, "Nah, I got this one." After all, I just saw this done yesterday, I can do it!
I lay little Mark on the table and prepared to launch my attack. Quickly, I opened the diaper and was met with a sight I will never forget. I was shocked and awed. I stood still for a moment wondering if it had seen me.
"Umm..." I said decisively.
I looked right and left, searching for reinforcements, but none were to be had. Things went from bad to worse as I was reminded of the tactic that little Mark had used against the doctors shortly after arriving into the world. I reached out to grab something, anything that I could use to deflect any potential urine attacks. Just as the situation was looking desperate and I was preparing to call for an evac, the door opened and my rescuer arrived.
"Help," I cried meekly while holding my son's legs so as not to dip his bum back in the tar-ish goo from whence it came.
With bold and confident motions my rescuer worked quickly, calling in baby-wipe support and continuing the attack that I had fumbled, no doubt saving my son's bum from continuing yuckification. I watched with amazed curiosity hoping to learn enought so that I too can one day be able to change a poopy diaper.
Yeah, so, newborn poo is nothing like what I had expected. It looks a lot like tar. I was stunned. If my wife's friend hadn't walked in at that exact moment I would have been in serious trouble. I'll head back tomorrow for round two and see how it goes.
If cruise missiles and smart bombs are half as effective at shocking and aweing people as this was they're well worth the investment!
On 25 June 2006, at 1750 local time in Mannheim, Germany, my son Mark entered this world!
After roughly 36 hours of labor, the doctors decided that he was too big for a natural birth and opted for a C-section, after which both Mark and my sweetie are doing fine. Weighing in at a hefty 9.5 pounds and standing (ok, laying) at a height of 21.5 inches, Mark is already intimidating lesser babies. Ok, ok, I'm exaggerating, but only that he intimidates lesser babies, he really was 9.5lbs and 21.5 inches (that's 4330 grams and 55cm for you metric folks out there).
Pictures of Mark will be posted tomorrow.
I'll be spending a lot more time in the next week or so at the hospital with my new family, so Little Known Facts of Victory will be less frequently posted, but no less frequently occuring. Just because you're not seeing it on B36 News doesn't mean it isn't happening. If you'd like to view some of the sources that I draw my material from during my reduced operations, here is a list of those sites:
First, and much more importantly, still waiting for my son to make his way into the world. We spent the whole day at the hospital today with my sweetie hooked up to this funny baby-and-contraction monitor. Just like in Iraq, she shows signs of progress, but it's not over yet.
Second, and much less importantly, still waiting for someone to present a well thought out, fact-based argument showing that we are losing in Iraq. I have yet to hear one single logical explanation that shows we're losing. So until then, shut it you defeatists!
Since I'm in a hurry to get back to the hospital after collecting some things for an overnighter, let me leave you with a cartoon and an observation I made today while researching our impending victory.
First, the cartoon. From Cox & Forkum:Sums it up nicely I think.
And now, the observation: In the letter that was found at Zarqawi's formerly-safe house, ol' Zarqy writes about seven ways that the terrorists are losing. After comparing these seven points to the strategies detailed in the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, I find that the first six of Zarq's points are direct results of the strategies of "Isolate, Enagage, Build" along the Political track and "Clear, Hold, Build" along the Security track. The National Strategy for Victory in Iraq was published in November 2005, Zarqawi's letter was found near his dead body in June 2006. The conclusion I draw is that the plan is working and of all people, Zarqawi openly admits it.
An interesting side note, the seventh point that ol' Zarqy makes is that the terrorists need to avoid making mistakes that the Coalition can take advantage of in the media a'la him fumbling with the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. I guess the PsyOps boys are doing their thing!
I was recently forwarded an email from my friend Andrea that she received from Senator Norm Coleman. It does a wonderful job of sumarizing a lot of the progress we've made so far in Iraq. It's so long and detailed that I thought it would be more effective to just post the highlights of it. You'll notice that many of his points have already been made here before, but that shouldn't lessen their impact. So here they are:
On January 30, 2005, millions of Iraqis participated in their first free election, defying the threats of insurgents who sought to deny them their opportunity for democracy.
A constitutional referendum was held on October 15, 2005, with high voter turnout reported in Sunni majority provinces.
On December 15, 2005, Iraqi voters went to the polls to elect a Council of Representatives.
Currently, over 223,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped, with 34 Iraqi Army battalions assuming primary control of their own areas of responsibility.
According to a poll conducted in December, over 70 percent of Iraqis surveyed oppose the immediate withdrawal of American troops.
USAID is providing support to the Ministry of Trade to deliver more than 480,000 tons of food each month.
Over 2,800 schools have been renovated and over 47,500 secondary school teachers have been trained.
Health care funding has increased 30-fold since Iraqwas freed from Saddam Hussein.
USAID has immunized 98 percent of children under 5 years old against measles, mumps, and rubella and 97 percent of children under 5 against polio.
Over 1,200 primary health clinics and 240 Iraqi hospitals are in operation.
I'll post the entire email in the comments section of this post for your viewing pleasure!
Who dares say we are not accomplishing the mission? I challenge you, prove me wrong!
Here is my challenge. Pass this story to everyone whose opinion of progress in Iraq matters to you and see how long it takes to make hit the main stream. This kind of story is a primary enabler of force drawdown! It paves the way to victory and, thereby, to bringing troops home Let me suggest the headline for the MSM:
COALITION TROOPS TO LEAVE MUTHANNA PROVINCE BY JULY
SUCCESS IN IRAQI PROVINCE OF MUTHANNA
The short and sweet of this story is that security responsibilities for this entire province are being transferred back to the Iraqis and is expected to be complete by the end of July. Muthanna is the second largest province in Iraq and within about a month it will be able to secure itself independently of Coalition forces. THIS IS PROGRESS! WE ARE ACCOMPLISHING THE MISSION! WE ARE WINNING!
JP over at Milblogging.com did me the honor of making me the milblogger of the week. Hopefully this will help me show more people that dispite all the bad news and body-counts that the main stream media put out there, we are actually doing a lot of good.
Here's some of that good news that you won't see on any of the major media outlets:
Coalition forces killed 15 bad guys and caught 6 including a senior al-Qaeda leader. It just seems like thes guys are dropping like flies lately! Also, note that even though these cowards were hiding amongst the women and children that none of the innocents were harmed. In fact, the coalition troops led them back to their houses and made sure that there weren't any more bad guys hiding out in their places. (read more)
More al-Qaeda bad guys bite the dust and another leader is captured. If you read the whole report you'll see that 34% of the operations conducted across the country this week were Iraqi led missions, 52% of those operations were combined Iraqi-Coalition missions, and only 14% were strictly Coalition. Progress anyone? (read more)
Iraqi Police reopen a police station in Mosul. This is an example on the micro scale of exactly how we (the collective "we") are winning the war. More and more brave Iraqis are standig up and volunteering to secure their own cities. Despite brutal attacks and intimidation by a lawless enemy, these guys know what they have to do and they're doing it! These are the steps towards victory. (read more)
I may have already linked this story in a previous article, but it deserves another look. In the article above, a success story of an Iraqi police station is highlighted, in this article the success of the Iraqi Army is shown. Just as their brothers in the police force, the Iraqi Army is making huge strides towards being able to operate independently of Coalition aid. The men described in this story are the future of Iraq. (read more)
And on the home front, Junior is teasing us with contractions, but still no grand appearance. Every time my sweetie takes a sharp breath and holds her belly we all look over eagerly, but sadly they pass. Maybe today's the day!
A quick note before I head off to bed: (still no young'n, dag-blast it)
Today at Camp Taji (just a bit north of Baghdad), another Iraqi unit took the lead in conducting operations. This kind of event is so important and gets such little coverage in the MSM. It's a travesty. Iraqis are continuing their march towards self-reliance and with each step they take forward is another step we take towards home.
ATTENTION MAIN STREAM MEDIA!!! If you're looking for a draw-down then you ought to pay attention to this kind of thing! (Iraqis Stand Up)
Soldiers understand this fact, you'd think that the media elite would be able to deduce it. (Smart Soldiers)
Thanks to a link provided by DJ Elliott, I managed to get my hands on the newest progress report out of Iraq. This is the report that was presented to Congress pursuant to Dept. of Defense Appropriations Act 2006 (Section 9010). I've archived the previous reports and am in the process of comparing statistics from them all so that a quantifiable proof of progress can be shown.
While I work on that, here are some of the quicker facts that I could find:
Iraqi Security Forces continue to assume responsibility for their country. Below is a diagram showing exactly what parts of Iraq have been transitioned back into Iraqi hands:
This graph shows the total number of ISF that have been trained and equipped to combat insurgents. Despite the barbaric attacks by these insurgents against police and Army recruiting stations, brave Iraqis still volunteer to defend their country:This graph shows the progress the ISF are making over time.What some people don't realize is that the success of the Iraqi Security Forces is the success of the Coalition. If the ISF win, we win. The ISF are winning, and so are we!
***UPDATE1*** Thanks to the Mudville Gazette, I found another blogger, Andi, who cites polling data from the Pew Institute that shows that Americans are increasingly optimistic concerning the situation in Iraq.
While this progress on the home front is very encouraging, at best only about half of those polled believed that we were winning. My mission to show that we're making progress, that we're accomplishing the mission, that we're winning continues.
***UPDATE2*** Operation Forward together is working! More badguys are being caught and killed every day. Take Noori Abu Hayder Al-Oqabi for example. This guy led an assassination cell responsible for the kidnapping, torture, and murder of Iraqi civilians and Soldiers.
Junior still hasn't shown up yet. My sweetie's mom came over to be here during the birth when we all expected that I would still be in Iraq and now it's closing in on time for her (my sweetie's mom) to head back home. It would be extremely unfortunate if the little guy didn't show up while she was here. We went for a walk yesterday in hopes that it might speed the process along. There were moments where it seemed like it might have done the trick, but alas, the night ended quietly. The prospect of inducing labor or an elective c-section has pretty much been dismissed as everyone is of the opinion that it should be given every opportunity to be a natural birth.
On the bright side, because the baby didn't show up on the predicted date, I've been able to feel him kick from inside my sweetie's belly. It's one of the strangest and most amazing things I think I've ever seen. It's funny when her belly suddenly extends out to accomodate the foot or knee as he kicks, kind of reminds me of the movie "Aliens" but in a much more pleasant way =)
While I'm at it, let me throw a few more Little Known Facts of Victory at ya:
There have been three democratic elections in Iraq, each marked with more success than the previous one:
January 2005 - 8.5 million Iraqis voted (that's 58% of eligable voters)
October 2005 - 10 million Iraqis voted
December 2005 - 12 Million Iraqis voted (that's 77%, how does that compare to American voters?!)
In the al-Anbar province, home of Ramadi and Fallujah, only 2% of the Sunni population voted in January 2005. After seeing the success of the elections and having seats granted to the Sunni politicians who lost the vote in an effort to reconcile Sunnis, 86% of registered Sunnis voted in the December 2005 elections.
Polling data indicates that over 75% of Iraqis identify those who carry out attacks agains civillians as "terrorists" or "criminals".
B36 News is going to be undergoing some changes while I'm on R&R. To compensate for the cool Google Earth function I'm going to be posting additional stories of success from Iraq.
Little-Known Facts of Victory
The assessment of Iraqi Security Force status is done on the following scale
Independent - At this level the unit conducts operations independently of the Coalition. This is the desired endstate for all Iraqi Security Forces.
In the Lead - At this level the unit is responsible for planning and conducting operations and is supported by the Coalition.
Capable - At this level the unit participates in operations that are planned and conducted by the Coalition.
Training - At this level the unit is just forming and is being trained.
In a four month period between October and February, the number if Iraqi Army battalions assessed at levels 1 & 2 rose 32% to a total of 53. This means that these units are responsible for securing their country, not the Coalition. - article about unit transition from level 3 to level 2.
In a poll conducted during the same period, it was shown that more than two thirds of Iraqis believe that the Iraqi Security Forces are winning the battle against terrorism. TWO THIRDS OF IRAQIS THINK WE'RE WINNING!!!
Over a 10 month period, actionable tips from Iraqi citizens rose nearly 800% from 483 to 3840. The Iraqi people realize the dark future in store for them if the terrorists win and are helping the fight.
All of this information is contained in a report that was presented to Congress in February 2006 and can be found online here.
Sorry for the absence for the past couple days. I was busy making my way back to see my sweetie for R and R. In a grand total of 2.5 days of travel, I had roughly 8 hours of sleep total. Guys my size don't fit nicely into the seats on airplanes so sleep is infrequent and painful when you wake up.
(me and my sweetie back in Germany!)
Junior still hasn't made his way into the world yet. We're not supposed to worry about it for at least another week or so. It seems that first children rarely make the prediction and mine is no exception.
I put the research on pause for the minute, but I'll be getting back into it once I get settled in here again. I've also decided to start publishing little-known victory facts. These are things that should be making headlines, but aren't and as I come across them in my studies I'll be publishing them here in an effort to show that we are in fact winning.
Here's today's fact:
Baghdad, site of the current Operation Forward Together designed to drive terrorists out of the city, was responsible for roughly one-third of all insurgent attacks in Iraq based on a report presented to Congress in October 2005. This means that the rest of the country, the other 16 provinces in Iraq, account for only about two-thirds of the violence in the country. This is progress. Take the insurgents out of Baghdad and you've drastically reduced the capabilities of the insurgency. We are winning!
I decided to link some of the articles that I came across during my research. Unfortunately this will be the last news update for a few days as I'll be traveling back to see my sweetie and son as soon as he's born.
The non-Google Summary:
MNSTC-I Here's one you won't read about in the news, but is just as important as being able to plant bad guys. LOGISTICS. You can't have an effective military without logistics. This story shows how the Iraqis are making it happen!
MNSTC-I A good article about how the new Iraqi military is being formed.
MNSTC-I Back in May, security responsibilities for the city of Hillah were transferred back to the Iraqis. Did anyone hear about this on the news?
In my continuing efforts to document the success of the Coalition in Iraq I've come up against a significant speed bump: I'm collecting so much information that shows progress that I'm going to have to push back my timeline on producing my article in order to go through it all.
There's SO much information showing progress that I'm still collecting it all. My plan is to continue to collect as much as I can before I head back to Germany for my son's birth and R&R. While I'm there I'll go through it all and start summarizing it. I plan to work up two versions of it, one that is detailed and in-depth (the long version), and another shorter one that sumarizes and references the long version. If a person has a question about something in the short version they can reference the long version for greater detail. Just like the MSM only broadcasts the sound-bites, people want to get the "Cliffs Notes" version of things.
Here's your random progress factoid for the day:
98% of Iraqi children under the age of 5 have been vaccinated for polio.
Think of all the support functions that go into something like that.
WE ARE WINNING!!!
***UPDATE*** There is so much out there showing our progress that I've decided to link some of the sites that I'm using to collect my information so you guys can see some of what I'm looking at:
Don't worry if you're overwhelmed by the amount of information these sites contain, I'm in the process of working through it all to package it into a nice and neat summary.
***UPDATE 2*** What you see here is the 352 pages of articles, publications, and government documents that all point towards progress. This is just the stuff I printed. I guess there will be no shortage of reading material on R&R.
Chron.com Prime Minister al-Maliki is putting a plan in place. Obviously we have to wait and see the outcome of the plan, but it makes sense. Guess what? If the Iraqi government is winning, WE ARE WINNING!!!.
Examiner Because we got Zarqawi, this has happened: 1 - 452 raids - 255 of 452 were joint Coalition & Iraqi - 143 of 452 were strictly Iraqi 2 - 104 dead bad guys 3 - 28 significant arms caches 4 - 759 bad guys caught
WE ARE WINNING!!! What are your questions?
Washington Post Shortly before ol' Zarqy got his 500lb lobotomy he worked up a document outlining his concerns with the lack of progress of his organization in Iraq as a result of the fact that WE'RE WINNING THE WAR!
Also of note is that Zarqy believes that should America be drawn into a war with Iran that America would win. Does this mean that the most prominent terrorist leader in Iraq has more faith in the American military than the American media does? Read for yourself.
CNN - House TownHall - Senate Well, well, well... The House shoots it down 256 to 153. The Senate shoots it down 93 to 6. Of all the politicians who voted, over two-thirds voted in favor of conditions based withdrawl... How do you type a stunned silence...
The bun is still in the oven. I'm still on pins and needles every time my phone rings. Katie's mom is there with her now which is very comforting to me. I should be back in Germany in a few days now and I'll get to meet my son!
As for my efforts to produce an article that shows how we're winning the war, I'm still collecting information. Right now I'm focusing on the definition of victory from the various points of view, after all, if there is no way to measure it how can you say it's being achieved. An initial review shows that one of the larger insurgent groups is focused on removing the US from Iraq. Watch this: "An initial review shows that one of the larger [American political] groups is focused on removing the US from Iraq." Naturally, the insurgents and the cut-and-run crowd have drastically different tactics for withdrawing the US, but their goal is the same. Don't get me wrong, getting the US out of Iraq will be a good thing, but it should be a side-effect of victory, not a cause of victory.
*** UPDATE *** It's HOT here today! The next installment of GOOD NEWS.
Non-Google Earth edition:
CBS News Operation Forward Together. Is it possible that one of the "alphabet networks" is covering progress in Iraq??!?
FoxNews The streets that intersect this marker have been renamed recently in tribute to fallen Soldiers from this area. Read more about what this community is doing to honor it's fallen.
FoxNews It seems that Japan's Prime Minister is on the same page as President Bush. Japan made a bold statement by sending troops to support us here. My understanding is that the Japanese constitution prohibits deploying forces outside Japan.
The new poll found that 48% believe the United States probably or definitely will win the war, up from 39% in April. It also found that 47% believe things are going well in Iraq, up from 38% in March. (USA Today)
I do my best to avoid blanket statements and point out when I'm making generalities leaving myself a little breathing room in case someone finds that one factoid that can disprove the universality of the statement no matter its accuracy. With this in mind, let me make the following challenge:
Find one troop over here who thinks that the Coalition ISN'T winning. Anyone who tries to do that will be in Iraq a lot longer than any Soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine. Every deployed troop will tell you that we're winning.
Also, let me make it clear that my frusteration is not at the American people, but the media. People are smart enough to make good decisions, but it's the media that feeds them the information that they use to make those decisions. Though I may not have the audience of FoxNews, CNN, or the USA Today, please do me the honor of letting me be on the front lines of the battle to inform the public of the success of the Iraq campaign. Help me inform the public who claims at every turn to support the military, that the military is getting the job done! Help me reach the 52% who aren't certain that we are winning.
I've decided to work on an article that I'll post here that will better define how we're winning. I'll build in large part off of previous posts I've made here to that end focusing more on measurable progress and successes. So stand by, I don't have a time-line for when exactly it will be ready, but it's in the works.
Soldiers are consistantly ranked as the most trusted individuals of any profession in America, a fact that I don't take lightly and make every effort to uphold. Please believe me, WE ARE WINNING!!!
WBAL Radio HOOAH! This guy is 75 years old and is headed BACK to Afghanistan! That's some staying power. See the patches on his chest above and below "US ARMY"? They include Combat Medic and Airborne. This guy is hardcore!
FoxNews So, Zarqawi gets whacked and this guy steps up and asks to be next to get a couple 500 pounders dropped down his chimney. I hope they get this guy on video too.
FoxNews Remember Afghanistan? Yeah, we're still kicking butt there too.
As of this post I still haven't gotten word that Junior is about to make his grand appearance. Still 10 hours left in Germany and he'll be able to be born on the Army Birthday and Flag Day. Do your thing sweetie! =)
To dogpile onto the list of recent significant events, today marks 7 months that I've been deployed. I'll see ya soon Sweetie!
WAIT!!! I just remembered another, yesterday was my Gramma's birthday. Happy Birthday Gramma!
This is the question that every troop I talked to asked.
If you're looking for evidence of the level of security in Baghdad, try this. News of the President's presence in the IZ broke at roughly 1600 local time. He was publicly on the ground in the belly of the beast for roughly five hours and there were NO mortar or rocket attacks. I don't care what excuses a person comes up with, fact is the insurgents didn't attack. Whether they couldn't organize quick enough or they couldn't maneauver with all the security, they couldn't do so because of the level of security in Baghdad.
Is it the final test? Obviously no, it's not. It is, however, an testament to the success of both Iraqi and Coalition forces.
I can personally verify that the President of the United States is in Baghdad, Iraq! Shortly after finishing the speach that FoxNews is broadcasting, he made the rounds shaking hands and I managed to work my way to the front and shake his hand.
I reached forward, we made eye contact, as I took his hand to shake it I told him, "I'm praying for you Sir!" He looked me in the eye and said, "You're doing a good job!".
I'll put up pictures as soon as I can!
***UPDATE 1*** I'm currently collecting pictures and videos that I'll be posting here shortly. Unfortunately, the camera that I had was low on batteries and came out fuzzy so the pictures that I post will be ones that other people took. I'm holding out until I find one with me in it.
***UPDATE 2*** PICTURES! Again, I didn't take these pics, I had to hunt to find one with me in it. The best I could do now is one with my arm in the side. Hopefully the low quality of the pictures shows that I was actually there:
The proof picture - this is the best I could do at the moment to show a picture of me and the President in the same room.
If there are any questions about what the military thinks of this President, look at all the cameras!
You won't see this picture anywhere else, no self-respecing journalist would publish something so grainy, but I'm no journalist so here it is.
Two official photos that you'll likely see in the press soon.
More to follow as I find them (maybe some video too if you're lucky)
***UPDATE 3*** Last update before I pass out on the keyboard (it's 0035 here, that's midnight to you non-Armyese speakers):
It's not on par with what you'll see on FoxNews, but here it is. A short video of President Bush addressing us in the IZ.
Big news today! Not the biggest news though, hopefully Junior will arrive tomorrow, Army birthday and Flag Day, would be cool to have him be born on that day. Baby Watch continues, keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow!
The other news of the day. The President decided to visit us! Yep, President Bush stopped by to meet the Prime Minister of Iraq today in the building that I work at!
***!!!FLASH!!!*** I was just watching FoxNews and saw my trailer from the rear gate of the helicopter that carried the journalists covering the President's trip into Baghdad. If you see that video, know that that's where I live! ***!!!FLASH!!!***
Up until we got word that he was in Baghdad, my part in the meetings that he was having from Camp David was highlighted by FoxNews in the article highlighted below:
Yep, my part in the conference was to make sure that the link between the IZ and Camp David stayed green. It's rare that commo guys get any kind of media coverage and this is the best kind! For the conference that was held yesterday while the President was in Camp David, when he was recapping the meeting and said the the conference was successful he meant that much was accomplished during the meeting, but I took it to mean that the link was green throughout. Afterall, nothing could have been accomplished if they couldn't talk. This is one of those things that makes it worth it.
FoxNews President Bush is holding talks with senior cabinet advisors in Camp David to discuss the situation in Iraq. Attending these talks via video-teleconference (VTC) are senior military leaders and the newly elected and appointed Iraqi government officials in the International Zone.
Yep, VTC in the IZ. That's my responsibility. =) I was watching FoxNews yesterday and heard President Bush say that the conference went well. Of course he meant the substance of the meetings, but as far as I'm concerned that means that my contribution to those meetings was a success!
FoxNews Update! - It seems that my VTC link is no longer required now that President Bush is here! =)
Google News Bad guys save us the trouble, what's the problem?
ABC News A couple days ago I was emailed a video of a couple Soldiers in Ramadi who produced a rap music video spoof. 'Lo and behold, it seems to have made quite an impact even outside military circles.
Baby watch is in full effect and will be for the next couple weeks! We are days away from the predicted date of birth for our first child. If all goes as planned I should be able to be back shortly after the baby is born or shortly before, we planned my R&R to coincide with the back half of the prediction window to increase the likelihood that I'll get to meet Junior before I have to come back to Baghdad. I'm so excited!!!
As for the video, I must say that I'm very happy with the reception that my Zarqawi tribute video has received. I submitted it to a number of military-friendly websites and they've all been kind enough to link it on their sites. I've compiled a list of other websites that link/reference the video and ask that those of you who read my blog read these as well. Thanks for your support!
Here's today's news. It'll be tough to top the news about Zarqawi, but hopefully the pieces that I'm highlighting here will help show the progress we're making in Iraq. I threw in another article that caught my eye as well. Have a look!
A drug lord in Mexico just made quite a name for himself. The US is now offering a $5 million bounty on him. Makes me think being a bounty hunter wouldn't be such a bad job. Ol' Zarqy had a $25 million bounty on his head.
MNF-I The steady process of handing over responsibility for Iraq to the Iraqis continues. Al Anbar is one of the more violent provinces right now since both Ramadi and Fallujah are in this province.
Ol' Zarqawi was killed in an airstrike by Coalition forces.
Defense Industry Daily The good folks at BAE Systems continue to support the military. They're working on producing specialized vehicles for IED clearing teams. These trucks are designed with the expectation that they will be hit by IEDs and provide impressive protection against them.
FoxNews On top of killing Zarqawi, today the Iraqi Prime Minister also named the heads for the Ministries of Interior and Defense. That's like President Bush naming Condaleeza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld to their positions.
According to CNN International, Sky News, BBC World, ABC News, and FoxNews broadcasts, Zarqawi has been killed in Iraq!
This is GOOD!
Puts a big smile on my face! =)
Oh, let's not forget, the Ministries of Defense and Interior now have appointed secretaries. To help explain this to people who don't understand, it's like appointing Donald Rumsfeld and Condaleeza Rice to head the Dept. of Defense and Dept. of State.
*edit* Did you hear the cheer that went up after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said, "Today, al-Zarqawi was terminated." Those weren't Americans in that news conference, those were Iraqi journalists. I haven't seen peopel around here so happy in a long time. All you have to do is smile and say, "Did you hear the good news?" *end edit*
On 18 June 2003, Ehren Watada made the following statement when he entered boot camp,
"I, Ehren Watada, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
Shortly after this he also made the following statement,
"I, Ehren Watada, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of Second Lieutenant do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter. So help me God."
Now that he's about to get sent to Iraq, he's making the following statement,
"I refuse to be silent any longer. I refuse to watch families torn apart, while the President tells us to 'stay the course.' ... I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression. I wanted to be there for my fellow troops. But the best way was not to help drop artillery and cause more death and destruction. It is to help oppose this war and end it so that all soldiers can come home."
For those who don't have the history of the Iraq war memorized, American troops first rolled into Baghdad in April 2003. Two months after Baghdad falls, 1LT Watada holds his right hand high and makes an oath. Now, shortly before heading to Iraq himself, 1LT Watada calls the war illegal. Let me simplify; he joined the Army during the war, but when it's time to head off to that war he tucks his tail and runs.
Note that he left the word "soldiers" with a lower-case 's'. You can read more about this spineless coward on a website that has been setup to document his cowardice.
So much news is put out that is negative about America, Americans, and the American military and in light of this unfortunate bias, I'm going to make a concerted effort to include primarily good news about America. I'll still include articles that I find interesting along with my comments, but I'm going to try and showcase articles that show the good that America, specifically the military, is doing.
In a recent post to his blog, "The Will to Exist", Trevor talks about the same thing. So if you want to hear good news, check us out =)
This isn't fair and balanced or unbiased news that I'm putting out. It's pro-America news, it's the Good News. I've also added a permenant link on the right to the news archive so you can view all the news so far.
Washington Post According to a new report, Iraqis have faith that their new government will take the necessary steps to secure their country. To use a football analogy, we're in a running game here, it's not pretty or fancy, but we're making steady forward progress.
LA Times Soldiers from the AK National Guard are getting called up to go to Iraq. I found this interesting since I'm from a small town (Barrow, AK) much like the one described herein. My experience there is somewhat different that what's talked about here, but it's still a cool read.
Washington Post Peter Wehner goes into detail about the good things that America has had a direct influence in. He addresses national security issues about half-way through the article.
Christian Science Monitor Don't be mistaken, this is a good thing. The Iraqi government needs to make decisions in the best interests of Iraqis, not the US military, and that's what they're doing. The fact that the new Iraqi government is conducting an independent investigation is good.
Christian Science Monitor John Hughes from the CSM and I agree. He goes into good detail here on the good stuff that the American military does.
As a teaser for an upcomming bit of news; in the next couple days I'll have a personal and funny story to post, but at current I need to hold off. So stand-by for the funny!
Download my .kmz file for the day. This is the file that contains the news that I compiled.
Open Google Earth and then drag and drop the .kmz file onto the globe window of Google Earth.
In the "Places" window of Google Earth, you'll see a list of links under the header of "B36 News". You can click on each article and it will take you to the spot on the globe where the article occured and give a short summary of what it's about. I also include links to relevant articles, primarily from Google News and FoxNews so that if a person gets interested enough they can read for themselves.
This process is going to have to do until I can find a way to streamline it. Until then, please bear with and enjoy =)
I can't stand them. Usually they're smelly, unkempt, and weak. Several years ago I was talking with a friend during a basketball trip. He was upset because he wasn't getting much time on the floor, basically he felt like he was a benchwarmer. I don't remember how it happened, but somehow during the course of me trying to encourage him I started talking about how everyone played a role in everything and I used the example of Greenpeace.
Since we came from a town on the northern coast of Alaska where the locals still hunted whales, we were both very familiar with the Greenies and I explained how they needed the whalers because if the whalers stopped whaling, the Greenies would have to go find a real job. Also, the whalers needed the Greenies because if they just went off and killed every whale they could they'd eventually run out and couldn't whale any more. Both sides, though directly opposed, helped the other side by doing what they did.
I kept thinking about that, trying to apply it to other scenarios. As I've always been intrigued by all things military I tried to think of how this theory could apply there. Here's what I came up with:
Those that oppose the military (we'll call them Hippies) do so with varying degrees of severity. Most will acknowledge that there is a need for an armed military force, but wish that it was smaller and strictly defensive, while other, more extreme hippies think there should be no organized military at all. Now the question, how do hippies and the military help eachother? First the most obvious answer, the military helps the hippies by making sure that bad guys don't kill them. I think everyone can agree to that. So how do hippies help the military?
Well, most still pay taxes which funds the military, but beyond this, when you see a group of hippies staging a protest against whatever shiny metal object happened to catch their eye that morning you wonder, how does that help the military?
Here's how. Due in large part to the hippies protest against tactics and weapons such as carpet bombing and napalm, American weapons researchers looked for ways to hit targets and not cause as much collateral damage. Now we have things like smart bombs, cruise missiles, and satellite imagery that we can use to locate and destroy bad guys anywhere on the planet. We can hit our target as he's riding in his car on his way to a meeting with another bad guy in Iraq by pushing a button in a control center in the US. Because hippies showed us pictures of the horrors of massive bombing campaigns (necessary as they may have been), the decision makers decided to authorize funding for the research and development (paid for by taxes, thanks again hippies) to make more effective weapons.
So you see, in their own special way, hippies deserve credit for the part they played in the development of the military into the fearsom fighting machine that it is today. Thanks again you smelly, shaggy free spirits. In return for your help destroying the world's bad guys, you get to keep protesting those who pull triggers, push buttons, and make the decision to do so.