Thursday, August 21, 2008

U.S. announces agreement with Iraq featuring troop withdraws

According to an AP report posted on the St. Petersburg Times Web site, the U.S. and Iraq announced that they have reached a security agreement and U.S. combat troops will move out of Iraqi cities by next June.

The Times of London reported last week that the agreement was imminent, and I commented on the ramifications at that time.

The mainstream media, exemplified by the AP story, continues to portray the agreement as a huge reversal by President Bush.

The negotiations over a withdrawal timetable follow long insistence by President Bush that setting any schedule for U.S. troops to leave would be dangerous. The draft agreement with Iraq would link troop reductions to achievement of certain security milestones, although the details have not been made public.

At the time Bush was insisting that he would not accept a timetable for withdraw, the situation was not stable. Prior to the surge, the Democrats continually called for an immediate troop withdraw and Bush insisted he would not pull troops out until the situation warranted a withdraw.

But as this blog has documented, the security situation has improved drastically over the last six months. The Iraqi army and police have successfully taken over more and more of their own security.

What the AP and other mainstream media fail to understand, or simply refuse to report, is that the situation in Iraq has evolved to the point that a U.S. withdraw is possible and prudent.

The fact that security milestones will also dictate the pace and implementation of the U.S. withdraw makes this agreement vastly different than the "pull out now" proposals by the Democrats that Bush opposed.

This agreement represents a major milestone in the war. It reflects the success of the surge and the overall U.S. strategy in Iraq. It represents a major victory for Bush and more importantly, for the United States.

Condoleezza Rice's comments indicate she understands the true significance of the agreement.

"We're not sitting here talking about an agreement to try to get out of a bad situation," Rice said, asserting that the draft "builds on the success we have had in the last year. This agreement is based on success."

But instead of focusing on U.S. success, the mainstream media insists on sticking to its bash Bush political template. They would rather paint Bush as a loser, forced to back down from his "uncompromising" position than report what this agreement truly represents - a win for the good guys.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kurdish forces return home

Iraqi army forces took over security responsibilities in the Qurat Teba district in Khaneqeen district in Diala Iraq, after the 34th force battalion of the Peshmerga forces returned to Kurdistan, according to a report in Aswat Aliraq, an independent Iraqi news agency.

The withdraw was part of an agreement between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and a delegation from the Kurdistan’s government in Baghdad, according to an Iraqi security source.

The Diala Province extends northeast from Baghdad to the Iranian border.

The Iraqi army recently launched a large scale campaign in Diala called Bashaer al-Kheir in attempt to hunt down members of Al-Qaeda trying to establish a stronghold in the area since forces drove them out of western Iraq.

Kurds use the term Peshmerga to describe armed Kurdish fighters. The word literally means those, "who face death."

Iraqi Kurdistan stands as the only Kurdish area recognized internationally as an independent federal area.

Saddam Hussein was particularly brutal towards the Kurds in northern Iraq. Hussein launched an attack against the Kurds utilizing poison gas in March, 1988.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

U.S. military continues to meet or exceed recruiting goals

All branches of the U.S. military met or exceeded recruiting goals last month, according to the July recruiting and retention numbers released by the Department of Defense earlier this week.

The Marine Corps led the way, signing up 4,783 recruits, 117 percent of their 4,094 goal.

The Army reported 10,141 new soldier recruits, 141 over their July goal.

All six reserve components exceeded their recruiting goals as well.

The DoD report also says that Army, Navy and Marine Corps met or exceeded their cumulative retention goals for fiscal 2008 through July.

The recruiting success continues despite higher expectations for 2008. All branches increased their recruiting goals this year.

The Army signed up 9,972 new soldiers in July 2007, which was 222 over last year's goal of 9,750.

Young men and women continue to sign up for military service despite knowing they will likely face combat. While American's sign up for a myriad of reasons, the success of military recruiters indicates that despite relentless reporting from the media about the unpopularity of the war, many young American's view serving their country as worthwhile.

We should commend each young man and woman who signs up to defend the freedom's we all enjoy.

clipped from
July 2008











Marine Corps




Air Force




blog it

Friday, August 15, 2008

Troops supporting Obama with their wallets?

An entry on the St. Petersburg Times military blog touted as breaking news on the Times' homepage reports that troops deployed overseas have contributed six times more money to Sen. Barak Obama's presidential campaign than to Sen. John McCain's.

The story appears designed to imply that military service members do not support their own mission and have thrown their support behind Obama, who has opposed U.S. involvement in Iraq from the beginning.

But the blog entry omits some important information.

A chart on the OpenSecrets Web site shows the total number of donations to each candidate.
There were 135 donations for Obama and 26 for McCain. With over 170,000 military personnel deployed in Iraq alone, the total percentage donating to Obama stands at a wopping .00008 percent.

That doesn't even take into account the fact that the donations represent all troops deployed over seas, which include personnel stationed in non-war zones.

Statisticians call small numbers like that insignificant.

The real story here is that over 99 percent of all military personnel deployed overseas have made no campaign contributions to a presidential candidate.

Of course, that doesn't make for a very interesting story - and doesn't make a political point.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Aid to Georgia continues

Pentagon officials said the humanitarian aid to Georgia will move into longer range help in the future at a news conference today.

A second C-17 Globemaster III transport plane flew into the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. More flights will follow, but none are scheduled just yet, according to the Pentagon.

The Bush administration's decision to send military aircraft with medical supplies and other aid into Georgia also sends a subtle message to the Russians. Flying in aid allows the U.S. military to project force in the region without appearing provocative.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates also had strong words for the Russian's, saying they took advantage of an opportunity to send a message to other former Soviet republics.

He said the Russian military action was directed against Georgia, but Kremlin leaders wanted nations in all parts of the former Soviet Union to understand the dangers of integrating with the West.

“I think that they had an opportunity to make some very broad points [to these nations] and, I think, [the Russians] seized that opportunity,” Gates said.

Gates holds a doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University.

Georgia, a small nation of about 5 million people has strong ties to the west and has also supported the U.S. in the war on terror. Until recently, Georgia had troops in Iraq. They were recalled when hostilities broke out with the Russians.

London paper says U.S. combat troops to withdraw from Iraq within three years

The Times of London reported today that the U.S. military will pull out of Iraq within the next three years under a draft agreement between the two countries, provided the violence levels remain low.

The Times cites Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, as saying the U.S. will pull out of Iraqi cities next summer, and that U.S. troops would no longer have the authority to unilaterally mount attacks within the country beginning next year.

The Pentagon declined to comment, according to the report.

“Our negotiators and the Americans have almost brought it [the accord] to a close. It is not a closed deal but it is very close," Zebari said in an interview with the British paper.

The agreement would next need approval from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani and other Iraqi leaders, which could occur this month. The Iraqi parliament would then need to give its approval. The body will reconvene in September.

The Times story goes on to say:

The “time horizon” for the exit of US troops would depend upon the ability of the Iraqi police and army to maintain security gains in Iraq after a surge of US forces in 2007 helped to push violence to its lowest levels in 4½ years.

Therein lies the difference between the Bush administration plan and the withdraw plans forwarded by Democrats and liberals over the last two years. The plan recognizes the fluidity of the situation and the need to evaluate conditions on the ground.

Nobody imagined the possibility of troop pullouts a year ago. These negotiations highlight the success of the surge strategy and vindicate Pres. Bush's determination to stand up in the face of political pressure.

In an ironic twist, the liberals may soon get exactly what they wanted, but instead of pulling out of a "hopeless situation", the U.S. will leave Iraq relatively stable, and will have shown Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists that America does possess the will and determination to see things through to victory.

If things continue to progress, the U.S. will leave a winner, not a disgraced failure, and Al Qaeda will come out the loser in place they chose to make the focal point of their strategy.

Many will view this as a political defeat for the left, and while I can't help but have a tad bit of glee about that, the real victory belongs to the Iraqi people and the men and women of the armed forces who persevered when things looked bleak and never waivered in their commitment to the mission.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

300 new police officers in Afghanistan

More than 300 new Afghan Uniformed Police officers from Farah and Helmand provinces will soon begin service in Afghanistan after completing an eight week training program led by members of Task Force 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

The rigorous training program conforms to international and U.S. State Department standards and emphasizes counter-terrorism operations, according to a Marine report.

A Marine spokesman said the training is helping to build AUP capabilities, transform the police loyalties, establish the "Rule of Law," develop a "prosecutor-driven justice system," strengthen AUP linkages to higher headquarters, improve Afghanistan Interior Ministry capabilities, and enable GIRoA and MoI to more effectively serve the people of Afghanistan.

The U.S. has had success with similar programs in Iraq, where local police have taken on increasing security responsibilities.