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.

Information likely extracted by waterboarding leads to Al Qaeda operative's capture

Check out Bryan's post at Sublime Bloviations.

He makes an excellent point about waterboarding "torture".

U.S. military sends humanitarian aid to Georgia

U.S. military transport aircraft began ferrying humanitarian aid into war torn Georgia today.

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft flew into the city of Tbilisi carrying medical supplies, shelters, bedding and other supplies, according to the Department of Defense.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said other flights will follow as the U.S. assesses the needs in Georgia and what type of assistance they can provide.

“That will be the first flight in; there are plans for another flight tomorrow as we continue to assess the wide range of humanitarian assistance options that we might be able to provide both in the immediate and long-term humanitarian capabilities," he said in a DoD press release.

A twelve person military assessment team will arrive in Georgia within the next few days and serve as a liaison between
the U.S. Embassy in Georgia, the Georgian government, and U.S. European Command and other U.S. agencies.

Whitman said the aid shows the commitment to Georgia by the U.S.

“We’ve had a strong relationship with Georgia for many years now,” he said.

Georgia provided troops to the coalition forces in Iraq and have been a strong supporter of the war on terrorism.

Russia sent troops into Georgia earlier this week when Georgia sent their own forces into the breakaway province of
South Ossetia. The Russians claim they sent troops to protect Russian citizens in the province.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Iraqi refugees return home

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's presidential aircraft landed in Baghdad today, carrying the first group of Iraqi refugees returning home from Egypt, according to a report in Aswat Aliraq, an independent Iraqi news agency.

"This flight will be followed by other weekly flights with the aim of facilitating the process for displaced Iraqis to return to their land," Maj. General Qassem Atta said.

Maliki issued an order earlier this month giving occupants of homes owned by refugees one month to vacate them.

About 4.4 million refugees fled their homes after the U.S. led invasion, according to the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees, with around 2.2 million fleeing to neighboring countries, primarily Jordan, Syria and Egypt.

The return of Iraqi's home further illustrates the improving situation in Iraq and the steady march toward normalcy.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Liberal arrogance

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Rep. Ben Chandler D-Ky. called for immediate troop withdraws from Iraq after a weekend trip.

Chandler said the pullout should begin right away to force the Iraqi government to stand on its own, according to the story.

"I think we need to leave them with as stable a situation as we can but we need to lift off from the country as soon as possible," the Democratic congressman told the Lexington Herald-Leader in an interview. "I think it's time to start withdrawing," he said.

Leaving immediately will certainly not leave Iraq in a stable situation.

The Iraqi government has made great strides over the last year and have shown themselves increasingly able to take over their own security. But they have not reached the point where they can handle it on their own.

A parent does not expect a child to swim until they have developed the ability to do so. Would any parent throw their child into the pool to force them to swim? Would any parent risk their child's life in such a reckless manner?

As Bush and other leaders have repeatedly said, the U.S. cannot and should not pull out the troops until the situation on the ground warrants a reduction in forces.

Chandler exhibits an arrogance typical of many politicians. He spent less than 24 hours in Iraq. Now wants to use this experience to establish credibility in order to bolster the same wrongheaded policy that the left has advocated for over a year, as if his whirlwind trip makes him better able to determine military strategy than the generals who have spent the last several years fighting the war.

Ironically, if conditions in Iraq continue to improve, the "pull out now" strategy will soon become the right strategy, and I'm sure the liberals will claim they were right it all along.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Why do they attack us?

Michael Medved wrote an interesting column outlining the history of the Barbary Wars, the first foreign conflict involving the United States.

Rulers from the Barbary states in Africa (Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli—today’s Libya) relied on piracy as a way to enrich themselves. European nations paid local leaders in these countries "tributes" to protect their shipping interests. Until America's independence, British money protected American shipping, but afterward, several U.S. vessels were attacked, their crews enslaved.

President Jefferson sent ships from the navy across that Atlantic to deal with the pirates.

Medved draws a number of excellent parallels between the Barbary Wars and todays war on terror. Most notably, the fact that the pirates justified their actions based on their interpretation of their Islamic faith.

Medved writes:

Islamic enmity toward the US is rooted in the Muslim religion, not recent American policy. In 1786, America’s Ambassador to France, Thomas Jefferson, joined our Ambassador in London, John Adams, to negotiate with the Ambassador from Tripoli, Sidi Haji Abdrahaman. The Americans asked their counterpart why the North African nations made war against the United States, a power “who had done them no injury", and according the report filed by Jefferson and Adams the Tripolitan diplomat replied: “It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.”

The rest of the column notes other similarities between that conflict and todays battle against Islamic extremists.

It's well worth a read.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bush praises military and families

President Bush praised the military and their families yesterday during a visit to Eielson Air Base in Alaska, calling the U.S. military the finest in the world.

Bush thanked the families of U.S. servicemen and women and credited them with helping to make the U.S. military the best.

"I can't thank you enough for all the sacrifices you have given. There is no question we have the finest military in the world, and one reason why is because we've got the finest military families in the world. These have been tough times on our families and I want to thank you for staying in the fight," he said.

Bush also extended thanks to the soldiers of Fort Wainwright, commenting on their toughness for training in temperatures of 50 below and fighting in 120 above.

A Stryker Brigade from Wainwright will soon deploy to Iraq.

Bush praised their sacrifice while placing their efforts within the greater context of the war on terror.

"Deployments are difficult, but they are necessary," he said. "We are a nation at war. Oh, some in America say, this is a simple law enforcement matter -- dealing with these extremists who would do us harm is law enforcement. Well, if it's a law enforcement matter, that means you react after the crime. I think it's important, and I know most of you here think it's important, to stop the crime from happening in the first place."

Bush said the Stryker Brigade heading into Iraq faces a situation much different than the previous Stryker Brigade, due to the successes over the last year.

"About a year ago people thought Iraq was lost and hopeless. People were saying, let's get out of there; it doesn't matter to our national security. Iraq has changed -- a lot -- thanks to the bravery of people in this hangar and the bravery of troops all across our country. The terrorists on the run. The terrorists will be denied a safe haven, and freedom is on the march. And as a result, our children are more likely to grow up in a peaceful world. And I thank you for your service and I thank you for your sacrifice," he said.

Bush said freedom flows from the Almighty and urged American's to remember the power of liberty.

"It is important for the United States of America never to forget the transformative power of liberty. I believe there's an Almighty, and I believe a gift of that Almighty to every man, woman, and child on the face of the Earth is freedom. And I know free societies yield the peace we all want. It's in our national interest to keep the pressure on the terrorists, to give them no safe haven, no place to hide, to keep them on the run."

Task Force 49 Stryker Brigade from Fort Wainwright was one of the first units to spend 15 months in Iraq.

Bush announced Sunday that Army will reduce the length of deployments to 12 months.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Army shortens tours in Iraq

The Army will return to 12 month deployments in Iraq beginning today.

The DoD said the continued decrease in violence in Iraq drove the decision to shorten the tours from 15 months to 12.

President Bush announced the change yesterday, noting that July marked the third straight month of decreased violence.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the shortened tours will have a positive impact on both the mission and the soldier's families.

“It’s a significant step, because 15-month deployments took an extraordinary toll,” Mullen said. “So to bring that back to 12 months for every active duty Army unit, I think, is a huge step in the right direction.”