Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blue Man Group

No, not these guys.

I mean these guys...

You cannot seem to go anywhere here without seeing the people who are building, fixing, cleaning, painting and maintaining everything....wearing blue jumpsuits. Seriously, did someone accidentally order 1,000,000 of these, and nobody said anything because they didn't want to rock the boat?
One of the Navy officers here referred to them as "Blue Man Group" when they were working on part of our HQ. I rather liked the name, and it has stuck.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Peace Day in Afghanistan

"It's crazy, but apparently the Taliban sent out an email saying they were going to abide by it if we were, and we definitely are," he said.
"It's a great day to show Afghans exactly what peace is like and how their everyday life would be if they just booted out the bad guys."

Sgt. 1st Class Joel Peavey

Friday, September 19, 2008

POW/MIA Day 2008

Never Forget.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Jus' ta lighten yer mood. I wanted ta be remindin' ye all that today, the 19th day of September in the year of our Lord 2008 be International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Won't the locals be cornfused, ha ha.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mickey Mouse is a soldier of satan and must die, says a Muslim cleric.

A FATWA has been issued for the death of Mickey Mouse. No comments from his fellow celluloid comrades. He has been taken to a safe house in Orlando. More to follow....

Monday, September 15, 2008

Computers delivered to Afghan Primary Students

A US charity organization and a private telecom operator in Afghanistan will provide 6000 computers for primary school students in Kabul. The computers will be delivered through to the Education Ministry.
A contract to this effect was inked among Education and Telecommunication Ministries, the American charity One Computer Per Child and the Roshan Mobile Company here on Saturday.
Education Minister Muhammad Hanif Atmar told a news conference after the contract-signing ceremony the total cost of computers worked out at $1.5 million. The computers, manufactured by a US firm, could be recharged with solar energy.
He said 5000 of the computers were granted by US company were the part of 10000 computers pledged by the company to Afghanistan.
While hailing support from the NGOs, the minister added the computers would be distributed to children at 500 schools in Kabul over a period of three months. Up to 100 Kabul-base schoolteachers will be imparted essential computer training so as to prepare them for instructing students.
The Roshan mobile company has pledged to provide free Internet service to all schools across the country, according to Atmar, who said the USAID would install and maintain the computers.

Baghdad, Iraq or Baghdad, Mars?

If the gravity was lower, I'd swear I was on Mars, rather than in Iraq... This is the view outside this evening. I thought these kind of dust storms were only down South.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

GEN Petreaus Farewell Letter

The Boss, "P4" for short, has said farewell as the Multi-National Force Iraq Commander. He is moving up to run the fight in the whole CENTCOM area. This good for all of us, but I will miss seeing him at the morning updates. We are lucky that a really good man is replacing him too.

It reads:

Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Civilians of
Multi-National Force-Iraq:

It has been the greatest of privileges to have been your commander for the
past 19 months. During that time,we and our civilian and Iraqi partners have
been engaged in an exceedingly complex, difficult, and important task. And in the
face of numerous challenges, we and our partners have helped bring new hope to a
country that was besieged by extremists and engulfed in sectarian violence.

When I took command of Multi-National Force-Iraq in February 2007, I noted
that the situation in Iraq was hard but not hopeless. You have proven that
assessment to be correct. Indeed, your great work, sacrifice, courage, and skill
have helped to reverse a downward spiral toward civil war and to wrest the
initiative from the enemies of the new Iraq.

Together, Iraqi and Coalition Forces have faced determined, adaptable, and
barbaric enemies. You and our Iraqi partners have taken the fight to them, and
you have taken away their sanctuaries and safe havens. You have helped secure
the Iraqi people and have enabled, and capitalized on, their rejection of
extremism. You have also supported the Iraqi Security Forces as they have grown
in number and capability and as they have increasingly shouldered more of the
responsibility for security in their country.

You have not just secured the Iraqi people, you have served them, as well.
By helping establish local governance, supporting reconstruction efforts,
assisting with revitalization of local businesses, fostering local reconciliation, and conducting a host of other non-kinetic activities, you have contributed significantly to the communities in which you have operated. Indeed, you have been builders and diplomats as well as guardians and warriors.

The progress achieved has been hard-earned. There have been many tough days
along the way, and we have suffered tragic losses. Indeed, nothing in Iraq has
been anything but hard. But you have been more than equal to every task.

Your accomplishments have, in fact, been the stuff of history. Each of you
should be proud of what has been achieved and of the contributions you continue
to make. Although our tasks in Iraq are far from complete and hard work and tough
fights lie ahead, you have helped bring about remarkable improvements.

Your new commander is precisely the right man for the job. General Ray
Odierno played a central role in the progress achieved during the surge. He
brings tremendous skill, experience, and understanding as he returns to Iraq for
a third tour and takes the helm of MNF-I just seven months after relinquishing
command of MultiNational Corps-Iraq. I have total confidence in him, and I will
do all that I can as the commander of Central Command to help him, MNF-I, and our Iraqi partners to achieve the important goals that we all share for the new Iraq.

Thank you for your magnificent work here in the "Land of the Two Rivers." And thank you for your sacrifices-and for those of your families--during this crucial phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I am honored to have soldiered with you
in this critical endeavor.

With great respect and all best wishes

David H. Petraeus
General, United States Army

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sad, Grumpy and Reaching for Perspective

I don't quite know why, but I started the day in a bit of a foul mood. The morning update went long (GEN Petreaus was saying farewell and giving awards to two departing staff) and I have a pile of work waiting for me that seems to be everyone else's responsibility, but I am doing it all...
Then we had the September 11th rememberance ceremony this morning. That didn't help my mood any. I'm already grumpy, and then I added sad to the mix. Maybe a little bit pissed off too - I'm still not real happy that I have been sent, twice now, far from my family and home to go fight 7th Century minded savages who seem to do naught but kill the innocent. I wish they would bloody well mind their own business and stop trying to impose their crude vision of how the world should work on everyone else. Blowing up the innocent, all for the Greater Glory of the Almighty... bah.

I really should snap out of it, and remember that today should be more about what happened and who paid the price for it 7 years ago...

I guess it is a good thing I have less than two months to go in this deployment. I hope I don't have too many more days like this one. If I do, I'll be sure to spare you any venting here at least.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Rain on the Open Belt of Dune?!

OK, not exactly. But we did have a bit of a thunderstorm here in Baghdad today. The first big thunderclap did scare the beejebus out of me. Once I got over it, I went outside to gawk at the first rain I had seen in months.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Rank Confusion

And I don't mean a lot of confusion here at Headquarters - that is nothing worth reporting...

I was selected for a Lieutenant Colonel position in my State's National Guard. While this was occurring, my file was sent to the Federal board to select Lieutenant while Uncle Sam is looking over my qualifications, my State will be putting everything together to have the National Guard Bureau get my selection Federally Recognized. Somewhere they will have to get my packet back from the Feds... End result - somebody is going to promote me to Lieutenant Colonel in the next 3 to 5 months. Easy, right?

Come to me, my Precioussssss

Friday, September 05, 2008

Extending the Fighting Season......

Usually we have let the enemy set the rhythm for this fight. When the snow falls, the enemy goes to ground, rests and refits, and plans for the thaw. Violence increases as the spring brings the next Fighting Season. It is an ancient pattern of warfare in this part of the world. If we keep the pressure on them during the winter, we may deny him his Winter Wonderland safe havens. If only we can convince the Afghan Army to stay in the Field with us over the winter also....

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Some Parting Thoughts from Major Thomas Sadiq

Major Sadiq was a terrific help to me when I moved up to Baghdad and started my new position. Always hard working and friendly, he made time to help every time I asked. Now he has finished his 12 months here and is leaving us. But he left us with a parting message I thought was worth sharing:


I am about to leave MNSTC-I. I have worked closely with you during our time together as we helped the Nation of Iraq develop. I thank you all for the time and effort you expended on my behalf.

I volunteered for the deployment, and it’s been a long road. Let me tell you what has changed since I arrived. I’ve been through the days when we were told we had lost. The Senate voted on a resolution to divide Iraq into three parts. Foreign Affairs ran an article asking not if Iraq had been lost, but attempting to place blame on who lost it. General Petraeus was belittled in the press and in the halls of Congress, and the surge was deemed destined to fail by many. We’ve been though the days when steel rained from the sky, when some said that the best option was to plaster bomb Sadr city and slaughter all those inside. But we didn’t, and have emerged from that trial bloodied but stronger, and with our integrity intact.

We were told that Muslims in general and Iraqis in particular lacked the genetic makeup for democracy, that such an egalitarian form of government was be reserved for those born in the western hemisphere. Yet, in the end, the abiding wisdom of our Founding Fathers rang out: For there are still those among us who committed to the idea that certain truths are self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they
are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these
are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Welcome to the new Republic of Iraq.

I cannot predict what will happen in the next year, but I am sure that your efforts will continue the progress that has been made. Nation building is not easy, nor for the faint of heart.

There will be a brief good-bye ceremony at the MNSTC-I flag pole at 1500 today. If you cannot make it, I wish you health and safety as you complete your tour and travel home.


Maj Thomas Sadiq

I couldn't have said it any better myself...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Finally, some relief!


Whew! Looks like it will finally start cooling off around here soon. I might have to break out my black fleece jacket or the long underwear...

Say, have I ever mentioned that I don't like hot weather?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Not much happening around here...

Just switching over from Generals Petreaus to Odierno - The former to CENTCOM, the latter here, to MNF-I.

Oh, and it is the start of Ramadan (celebratory "incoming" not unexpected, historically).

So, anything going on back home?
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