Iraq War News

Wednesday, December 10, 2003
David Brooks link added to "Opinion" blogroll.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Two Columns of Interest in the Sunday Washington Post -- One is from Rumsfeld on the War on Terrorism and Iraq, the other is from Gary Schmitt, Exec. Dir. of the Project for the New American Century, which is chaired by William Kristol (also of the Weekly Standard).

Rumsfeld argues for the President's traditional sense of a war on terrorism, especially that we must bring the fight to terrorists and the countries that harbor them.

Schmitt questions whether we are using a winning strategy in Iraq. Specifically:

Does the United States have the right military strategy in place to defeat what its own generals admit is an increasingly sophisticated insurgency?

Schmitt continues to state that a successful counterinsurgency campaign...
"would concentrate forces in the Sunni regions that are the hot spots. Rather than reducing the U.S. presence, it might require putting an even greater American face on the war in those places. That could mean that, in the short term, the Pentagon might have to put on hold its plans to reduce the number of troops in Iraq to lessen the burden on the Army. The Marine Corps also might need to send fresh units back into Iraq.

Thoughts anyone? -- DAN

Thursday, October 23, 2003
From CPT Mike Monaco at Bayji, Iraq

Thursday, October 16, 2003

The Bayji Water Treatment Facility Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony went extremely well today. You probably won't see it on the news back home because all the news crews decided to film pieces of the memorial services that happened this morning instead. We had Fox and CNN laid on but they didn't show. Generally, they tend to focus on negative aspects of this operation I guess. Iraqi news crews and newspaper press were at the event so that might be a stronger showing in the long run.

Today was perhaps one of the best days I've had since being a part of this operation (6-7mos). Approximately 120,000 folks of the industrial town of Bayji can drink from the 15 million gallons of fresh chlorinated and filtered water being treated at this major facility. Saddam built the facility back in 1984 and the facility went to hell because nobody maintained it, nor did they have the ability to receive $$ from their government for repair parts, etc. That is basically the norm for ever major public works facility I've seen in the 4ID AO. Saddam spent all the $$ he had on Guns, Ammo, and Palaces instead.

We had the Bayji Town Mayor, several tribal sheiks, the contractor, the military ground unit - 3-66 AR S-3, combat camera, several folks from my Division Engineer Section, the facility manager, the workers, and about 20-30 local Iraqi Police present along with many folks from the town. Our DIV EN section initially assessed the facility, wrote up a statement of work document, then acquired funding approval from the Coalition Provisional Authority in the amount of $471,000. We solicited bids from 4 major Iraqi contracting companies and then signed a contract with the most promising one - Al Thuraya. Al-Thuraya rehabilitated the water treatment plant for the past 2 months and their results have absolutely amazed me! $471,000 can fix a ton of stuff! The plant actually works now and it's pumping out so much pressure that some villages and towns now have water pressure for the first time in 10 years!! Their sheik's actually thanked us today during the ceremony for our help if you can believe this!!

The ceremony was well planned and actually carried out by the contractor. The Bayji Mayor thanked everyone and agreed to accept responsibility for maintaining the plant and resupplying it with necessary chemical supplies in the future. They slaughtered a sheep and spread its blood on the facility grounds for good luck (a custom thing). COL Nicholson (my boss, the DIV EN) and I drunk a nice (4ID Stenciled Pint Glass) of freshly chlorinated "Bayji" water with the town mayor, the facility manager, and the town engineer. The water tasted good and I'm not sick yet!! Our combat camera and military press folks took plenty of photos and I'm supposed to receive them tomorrow...I'll be sure to send. [...]

CPT Michael Monaco
4th ID Engineer Targeting Officer
USMA '98

From CPT Mike Monaco at Bayji, Iraq

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

It was a good ceremony, one of many that happen here in Iraq each week. Whether it's courthouses, schools, hospitals, water treatment facilities, government buildings, border patrol outposts, police stations, etc., the 4th ID is helping to rebuild Iraq along with ridding it of bad guys.

Some photos... [Each opens in new window.]

Ribbon cutting ceremony
COL and mayor
Toast - COL mayor and contractor
Working pumps
Director explaining procedures
Discussing water treatment

CPT Michael Monaco
4th ID Engineer Targeting Officer
USMA '98

Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Tim Blair link updated in blogroll:

Wednesday, April 23, 2003
They Said What? (WSJ: Editorial)
Here's a heaping helping of crow for the Iraq naysayers.
With Saddam Hussein's regime now ousted, it is instructive to look back on the writing that ensued in the early (and sometimes not so early) days of the war. Though only a small selection, the snippets below illustrate the extent to which the war was misjudged, or, in some cases, spun, by analysts and reporters alike...[...]

Thursday, April 17, 2003
Who’s Next? (NRO: Amir Taheri)
The uniqueness of Iraq.
This is the question now asked in teahouses all over the Middle East. As men puff at their hookahs and play backgammon they speculate about the next regime likely to be targeted by the United States and its allies once the Iraqi business is wrapped up. There are two answers to the question.

The first is: no one.

The second is: everyone...
Amir Taheri is an Iranian author and journalist.

French can sneer, but 'Les Anglo-Saxons' world's best hope (Mark Steyn)
Well, this whole quagmire seems to be getting worse, eh? I see the Bush junta has now been reduced to staging fake scenes of supposed jubilation on the alleged streets of what purports to be Baghdad.

Oh dear, oh dear. I do hope this column isn't going to get bogged down in a gloating quagmire. Let us turn instead to the shape of the postwar world. Watching that statue of Saddam understood immediately that here was the great symbolic image of this war: the one that they'll be playing in the TV news round-ups of the year, and the decade.

The only question is: What precisely does the great symbolic image symbolize? Is it the Middle Eastern equivalent of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, an act that rippled across half a continent? Or is it something smaller, more contained, a crack in the ice but the hard face of the rest of the lake remains frozen? You could hear the bafflement in the coverage of the Arab state TV networks as their commentators struggled to explain the pictures of joyous Iraqis cheering the first Western troops to march in to occupy a major Middle Eastern city since General Allenby took Jerusalem for the British 85 years ago, and the first to take Baghdad since General Maude's Indian Army the year before. The Baghdad of 1917 was a very different place from the grim Saddamite sprawl of today: It was the second great Jewish city of the Middle East, a lively urban mix of races and religions. Muslims, Jews and Christians. Victory in Mesopotamia was a first stage in the unravelling of the Ottoman Empire. This week's liberation marks the beginning of a similar epochal, transformational shift.

That kind of talk unnerves some people...

Political Shock and Awe (WSJ: James Schlesinger)
We've won a war--and taught the Middle East a lesson.
With the process of establishing a new dispensation in Iraq proceeding apace and the remaining pockets of resistance gradually being crushed, it is time to reflect upon the deeper strategic significance of the second Gulf War.

To be sure, Saddam Hussein, with his megalomania and confidence in his own survival, provided crucial tactical assistance...

Yet, the longer-run strategic meaning transcends the essentially three-week war itself. The outcome will alter the strategic--and psychological--map of the Middle East. The war has most dramatically conveyed the following realities:

1.) The U.S. is a very powerful country.

2.) It is ill-advised to arouse this nation by attacking or repeatedly provoking it--or by providing support to terrorism; and

3.) Regularly to do so means a price will likely be paid. Far less credence will now be placed in the preachments of Osama bin Laden regarding America's weakness, its unwillingness to accept burdens, and the ease of damaging its vulnerable economy, etc...

Many have argued that greater self-criticism or better understanding of the roots of terrorism would magically dispel the hostility displayed in much of the Arab world...

All that has now changed. The rapid collapse of what many had expected to be a long and stout-hearted resistance has altered the tone in the Arab world. While the whining in the press continues, it is now quite different: How long will the Americans stay? Will they successfully build an (infectious) democracy? Will they apply pressure to neighboring states? Who might be next? The dismay and shame in the region that the Arabs did not put up a better fight stands in remarkable contrast to the joy of the Iraqis that Saddam is finally gone...
Mr. Schlesinger is a former secretary of defense, CIA director and secretary of energy.

Body Count (Weekly Standard: Josh Chafetz)
Inside the voodoo science of calculating Iraqui civilian casualties.
It's almost as if some people want Iraqi civilians to die. So eager are they to score political points that you can almost see them licking their chops as they desperately seek out any reports--however sketchy--of Iraqi casualties. For their political agenda, the only good Iraqi is a dead Iraqi.

I'm talking, of course, about the small but heavily publicized portion of the antiwar movement that predicts and counts civilian casualties...

A Regime of Payoffs and Persecution (WaPo: Susan Glasser)
BASRA, Iraq, April 16 -- The bookkeepers of the police state were meticulous. Payoffs to tribal leaders, quotas for cheering crowds on Saddam Hussein's birthday, long lists of "bonuses" paid to party members on every state occasion, reports on suspicious families and pro-Iranian Shiite "traitors" in their midst -- at the Mother of All Battles Branch of Iraq's ruling Baath Party, they wrote it all down.

Here at the chief party headquarters for Iraq's second-largest city, near the party villas and the date palm groves and the decayed elegance of the Shatt al Arab waterway, officials kept a hand in nearly every aspect of daily life. They tracked thousands of army deserters and demanded still more recruits, they kept copious files on every comrade in their ranks, and they passed on intelligence warnings about spies and saboteurs.

No detail was too small to escape the party's attention...

U.S. Generals Meet in Palace, Sealing Victory (NYT: Gordon/Kifner)
BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 16 — Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander of America's war on Iraq, sealed his victory today by convening a meeting of his top allied land, air, naval and special-operations officers in what was once one of Saddam Hussein's proudest palaces, now a symbol of his vanished grip on the country.

The bevy of commanders who gathered today at Abu Ghraib palace -- an extravagant amalgam of marble, tile, gold fittings and massive chandeliers, all surrounded by an azure moat -- discussed how to maintain security and rebuild Iraq now that Mr. Hussein is gone, and agreed to meet again in General Franks's headquarters back in Qatar in several days to complete plans...

The two-hour session, which concluded with a video conference with President Bush, was the first such gathering since war erupted four weeks ago and was laden with symbolism. It made clear that the Americans now dominate Iraq...