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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

THIS is execellent news: Iraqis permitted to compete in Beijing

I've always loved the Olympics, and after living midst all the activity during the Atlanta games, I've enjoyed them even more - especially the more obscure sports like team handball or curling.

However, it's been harder to get excited about them this year. This decision by the International Olympic Committee was particularly depressing. Read the whole article to understand why the Iraqi government's action were quite understandable and not deserving of rebuke. I was just complaining about it to a friend tonight as we talked about getting together to watch the opening ceremonies on the 8th.

Which is why the news that the IOC has reversed that silly decision has made my day. Go, Iraq!

Night, all.

Not for Nothing, Take 8 (or so)

Remember this photo?

I wrote about it last Thanksgiving. I eventually ordered my own 3x5 print.

Michael Yon has other photos that get more visibility, but this one is still one of my favorites because the caption gave me chills. The good kind.

I was reminded of that photo, of Iraqi Muslims sitting in a Chaldean Catholic church in Iraq showing support for the church and urging Iraqi Christians to come home, when I read this story via The Tank. Not only are there Iraqi Muslims willing to sit in a Christian church to show support for fellow Iraqis, at least one Sunni sheik was willing to say...

"...that anyone who killed a Chaldean will be regarded as one who has killed in a member of his tribe (under the medieval Islamic concept of qisas this is a capital offense), and money will be provided from the Sahawa al-Iraq treasury to rebuild the churches and cemeteries that al-Qaeda destroyed. He justified this by quoting from the Qu'ran and stating that there should be no compulsion in matters of religion because truth stands free from error. "
As Steve Schippert at The Tank comments:

"So is there progress in Iraq? You betcha.

Armed Sunnis and Shi'a protecting Iraqi Catholics? Who'da thunkit?

Well . . . Who'da reported it for anyone to know?"
Well, now you know.

Our troops are fighting for a peace that permits some semblance of religious freedom.

And by fighting for Iraqis, our side continues to champion the ideals on which our own freedoms are based:

United States Constitution, Bill of Rights
Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Thank a vet. Their work is not all that is required, but it is - quite often - a minimum requirement.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Not for Nothing, A Follow-up on the Sky Soldiers in Afghanistan (the details you might otherwise miss...)

Angel Mary Ann has point in providing TLC for our wounded in Landstuhl. She also has kept a close eye on the Sky Soldiers of Chosen Company, 2/503 Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team who have been in Afghanistan for the last year.

It was Sky Soldiers that fought that pitched battle in Afghanistan last week and who lost 9 of their own before they prevailed. Some of their wounded have found their way to Landstuhl and MaryAnn.

As expected, there's much more to the story than made the headlines. Mary Ann has a round-up of links at the end of her post.

I saw this story earlier today among the news links at Long War Journal in which the 173rd's commanding officer, Col. Charles "Chip" Preysler, provides a detailed explanation of just what kind of "base" the Taliban attacked

And if you can overlook the incorrect use of "FOB" (as Col Preysler explains in the previous story, this was no fortified Forward Operating Base [FOB] that was attacked), this Stars and Stripes reporter relays first hand accounts from those who fought off the enemy and survived. It also gives you a glimpse of some of the men we lost. Valiant is the word that comes to mind.

Godspeed, gentlemen. My prayers and condolences to their families.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Not for Nothing: Celebrating Success in Iraq

From Greyhawk....

Which seems really appropriate when we have commentary like this (HT: Greyhawk, who has a series of post you should read, too) and news like this (HT: A Major's Perspective), although The New York Times is spinning the story for all it's worth. If I were you, I'd read Major C's post instead of the whole NYT article.

Milbloggers to the rescue once again.

And for a laugh, go watch the video at the very very end of today's Dawn Patrol. I knew our troops were talented and always step up to a challenge, but the ability to dance while wearing all that stuff is truly.... amazing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Not for Nothing, and Knowing It: A Special Thanks to Milbloggers (again)

I've written on this topic a couple -- oops! -- a FEW times before here and here and here and here.

You'd be correct to guess that this is a topic near and dear to my heart.

Whether it's because I want to have an informed opinion on proposed new strategies in Iraq or Afghanistan or Lebanon, or because I want to know how things are going where my "adopted" troops are deployed, or because I want more than a sound-byte about US casualties in Afghanistan, I turn to - without fail - milblogs.

So why post about this again?

Just a few days ago, I saw the sensationalist headline from the AP (Associated Press) reporting that a US base in Afghanistan had been overrun and nine US troops killed. I went immediately to The Long War Journal website. Why? Because a US base being "overrun" sounded extraordinary. If nine US troops had been killed, something significant had happened. Why would I think that? Because our guys are really good at what they do. We do not lose nine in one day very often any more. So, I knew there was more to this story than a notable death toll.

The first clarification I found was that the Taliban attacked a remote combat outpost - one that was still under construction. And while there was a heartbreaking loss of nine of our own, the US and Afghan forces, numbering just 70, repelled a "complex attack" by 200+ Taliban fighters (some estimates put the attacking Taliban force as large as 500).

That's news. The success of the out-numbered good guys wasn't the AP headline, but it was discussed in detail at the Long War Journal and it was the emphasis of another milblog report here. Hat Tip on that second write-up goes to Mrs G's Dawn Patrol (I now have a link at the top of my blog to the Dawn Patrol so that you'll be reminded to peruse her latest round-up of milblog-type reporting on the web on a regular basis).

The thing I've learned is that you can't rely on the major news outlets (print, web or TV) for good war reporting because their coverage is inconsistent at best. But that's okay, because we're fortunate to have a lot of volunteers and a bunch of new professionals dedicating their time to consistent reporting. That consistency is crucial to providing adequate context for the latest blaring headline or sound byte on the evening news.

If you're as appreciative as I am of these alternate news sources, considering donating to keep these folks up and running:

The Long War Journal and Public Multimedia, Inc (donations are tax-deductible!)

The Mudville Gazette [home of Greyhawk and Mrs. G]

Michael Totten

Michael Yon

The daily and ultimate sacrifices made by our troops and their families are not for nothing. Our troops are accomplishing terrific things around the world, and we wouldn't be nearly as well informed about their endeavors without the efforts of milbloggers and independent journalists covering the wars.

My thanks to them all. Again.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Run for the Fallen

Some Soldier's Mom posted a reminder about this effort, which is a tribute to our fallen veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom:

"Beginning June 14, 2008, a small team of runners will run across America to raise awareness about the lives of those soldiers who fought, to activate their memories and keep their spirits alive, to support organizations that help wounded veterans and the families of those killed (Wounded Warrior Project, Yellow Ribbon Fund, Gold Star Family Support Center, and the 1st Lt. Michael J. Cleary Memorial Fund), and to aid the healing process for those Americans whose lives have been affected by the war."
The miles logged on July 4th included one for JP Blecksmith. If you've read this blog before, you might recognize that name, as JP is one of the graduates of the United States Naval Academy and former Navy football players memorialized on the shirt that I now wear every Memorial Day. Details HERE. More about JP and what his sacrifice has inspired his family to do can be found HERE.

Consider supporting the runners in "Run for the Fallen" by showing up somewhere along their route (I hope to be there as they finish at Arlington Cemetery on August 24th) or by donating to one of their chosen troop support organizations.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave

Remembering and Celebrating - Happy Birthday, America!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

*Still* need emails for those Sailors, too!

Send your email messages for the USS Russell to: letters@thinking-right.com

This ship has an awesome motto for a 4th of July activity:

"STRENGTH IN FREEDOM." The real strength of our country is that,for over 200 years, Americans have fought and died for the ideals of freedom anddemocracy. Hence, "Strength in Freedom."

Start typing! :-)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Send a Message... to a Marine (link fixed!)

Request from Major Pain for support for some of our guys who don't get regular mail:

They sleep in WWII era wooden huts and sleeping bags, as the constant blowing dirt finds its way into everything they own. They cherish the basic things most take for granted in the states. Operating flawlessly in the 100+ weather is not the exception, it's the expected. They are a tight group that redefines the phrase, "No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy".

Don't know what to say? Well, maybe something like this?

Emails go to dirtpeople AT gmail DOT com

Deadline is July 10th!

Not for Nothing, Take 7

As usual, Angel Mary Ann finds a gem of a photo.

It's why we fight, and why we win. (HT: Mrs G at Mudville Gazette)