Thursday, May 31, 2007

Today's Reading List: 31 May 2007

WS. The Fourth Rail. Iraq Report: Kidnapped by Mahdi; Salahadin Salvation attacked. 30 May 2007.

Badgers Forward. MRAP is Just Fine or All Bombs are not Created Equal. New vehicle vs. new weapon. Context for USA Today article (which I did not read).

The Fourth Rail. Podcast with Surge progress. Slow progress with Iraqi government, but progress nonetheless. On MSM: lack of understanding, laziness, playing to the lowest common denominator.

The Fourth Rail. Featured Report from Iraq: The Intellectual Grunt – Part One. By Gene E. Blanton, embed with 3/6 Marines in Habbaniyah. The insurgency in Al Anbar is fought in four distinctive elements: disruption, permanent persistent presence, transition, and handover.

* The Fourth Rail. Featured Report from Iraq: A look at the surge from Baghdad. By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, embedded with the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery in western Baghdad. The Strategy: strategic disengagement.
Virtually all the U.S. officials with whom I spoke feel that American strategy now boils down to a single goal: strategic disengagement. That is, the U.S. wants to strengthen the Iraqi government to the point that it is self-sustaining enough that the country will not collapse into chaos as U.S. troops are brought back home. . . .

U.S. strategy is not just military in nature. Rather, it is designed to eliminate some of the underlying conditions that sap the average Iraqi’s faith in the country’s civil society.

Right now our country is embroiled in a critical debate about setting a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Unfortunately, this is one of the most intellectually impoverished political debates that I have ever witnessed, with both sides often resorting to sloganeering and demagoguery rather than substantive argumentation. One thing that my time in Iraq underscored to me is that, in looking at the country, many people see what they want to see. I would often think about the stories that journalists might write if they went where I went and saw what I saw. For example, after my first night on patrol—when the civilians we saw were clearly happy to see U.S. troops and felt comfortable around them—a conservative journalist might write a piece countering the stories about Iraqis hating us and wanting us to leave. Fine—but what about polls indicating that a shockingly high percentage of Iraqis think it’s okay to kill American troops? What about neighborhoods where U.S. troops would encounter a very different reception? On the other hand, a liberal journalist could write a very funny piece about the Iraqi army’s sloth and trigger-happy approach to the world, and conclude that we need to leave immediately because the Iraqi security forces are hopeless and at least a withdrawal will put some fire in their belly. Fine—but what about Iraqi soldiers’ improvements? What about the likelihood that pulling out would guarantee the Iraqi army’s failure?

There is some truth to both the right-wing and left-wing narratives above. But policymakers and analysts need to do better than having some truth to their positions. The Iraq debate is so important that politicians and opinion-leaders shouldn’t simply latch onto evidence that supports their pre-existing view. My intention in this report is to provide an objective assessment of a number of critical strategic trends in Iraq—and in that way help to advance public debate beyond where it currently sits.

A Blue Moon Tonight? Not So Fast

You may have heard that tonight there was a blue moon, or the second full moon in a calendar month. Yesterday, I heard this piece on NPR about the origin of that name. Fascinating how someone can do some shoddy research and someone else relies on it and perpetuates the mistake.

All Things Considered, May 30, 2007 · There is a prevailing myth about what a blue moon is. Thursday, May 31, will bring the second full moon of the month. But that does not constitute a blue moon, as is popularly believed.

Kelly Beatty, editor of Night Sky magazine and executive editor of Sky and Telescope, tells Robert Siegel that a blue moon actually refers to the phenomenon of having four full moons in a season, which ordinarily has three.

Beatty also acknowledged that his magazine had a hand in giving the misconception credence. Sky and Telescope magazine recently put out a press release explaining its role in perpetuating the myth. It read, in part:

Our 1946 writer, amateur astronomer James Hugh Pruett (1886-1955), made an incorrect assumption about how the term had been used in the Maine Farmers' Almanac, where it consistently referred to the third full moon in a three-month season containing four. (By this definition there is no blue moon in May or June 2007, and the next one happens in May 2008.)

24 Reasons to Love Jack Bauer

Sarah sent me this link. I like it sooo much that I am posting it here too. That's my Jack!

  1. In 96 hours, Jack Bauer has killed 93 people and saved the world 4 times. What have you done with your life?

  2. There have been no terrorist attacks in United States since Jack Bauer has appeared on television.

  3. Jack Bauer teaches a course at Harvard entitled: "Time Management: Making the Most Out Of Each Day."

  4. When Special Forces raided an afghan training camp, they found an empty camp and a pirated copy of 24 Season 4.

  5. If everyone on "24" followed Jack Bauer's instructions, it would be called "12".

  6. Superman wears Jack Bauer pajamas.

  7. The 2007 budget for the US Military covers Jack Bauer, two pistols and four billion rounds of ammunition.

  8. Jack Bauer once opened a can of whoop ass. All he found inside was a mirror.

  9. When Jack Bauer ran out of ammo, he caught 3 bullets in his chest and used them to reload.

  10. Some people see the glass as half full. Others see it as half empty. Jack Bauer see the glass as a deadly weapon.

  11. When bad things happen to good people, its probably fate. When bad things happen to bad people, it's probably Jack Bauer.

  12. Jack Bauer never retreats, he just attacks in the opposite direction.

  13. Jack Bauer let himself be drugged, beaten, and captured inside a crate on a Chinese ship heading out of the USA with no way for help to find him. Now he has them right where we wants them.

  14. Jack Bauer sleeps with a pillow under his gun.

  15. 1.6 billion Chinese are angry with Jack Bauer. Sounds like a fair fight.

  16. When Kim Bauer lost her virginity, Jack Bauer found it and put it back.

  17. Superman is one of the few individuals who could possibly survive a confrontation with Jack Bauer. But that is only because he can fly away.

  18. In order to control illegal immigration in the United States, the president installed cardboard cutouts of Jack Bauer along the US/Mexico border.

  19. American Idol is only popular because it has a commercial for 24.

  20. Osama bin Laden's recent proposal for truce is a direct result of him finding out that Jack Bauer is, in fact, still alive.

  21. The city of Los Angeles once named a street after Jack Bauer in gratitude for his saving the city several times. They had to rename it after people kept dying when they tried to cross the street. No one crosses Jack Bauer and lives.

  22. Jack Bauer once wrestled Superman. The stipulations were the loser had to wear his underwear on the outside of his pants.

  23. . . . and on the seventh day Jack Bauer said, "I'll take it from here."

  24. "You don't know Jack" is a blessing among terrorists.

New Scam Targets Military Spouses

Debbi sent me this link to the article. I am posting the whole thing here.

New Scam Targets Military Spouses

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2007 - The American Red Cross is warning military spouses about a new identity-theft scam that targets family members of deployed troops.

The Red Cross was alerted of the scam earlier this month, said Devorah Goldburg of the Red Cross.

The scam involves a person with an American accent calling a military spouse, identifying herself as a representative of the Red Cross, and telling the spouse that her husband was hurt in Iraq and was medically evacuated to Germany. The caller then says that doctors can't start treatment until paperwork is completed, and that to start the paperwork they need the spouse to verify her husband's social security number and date of birth.

It is hard to determine how many spouses have been targeted by this scam, Goldburg said, as there are many ways for spouses to report problems like this. However, one confirmed report was enough for the Red Cross to act, she said.

"We know that it happened to one person; it was probably going to happen to others, and we wanted to be prudent and alert people," she said.

American Red Cross representatives typically do not contact military members or dependents directly and almost always go through a commander or first sergeant, according to a Red Cross news release. Military family members are urged not to give out any personal information over the phone if contacted by unknown individuals, including confirmation that their spouse is deployed.

In addition, Red Cross representatives contact military members or dependents directly only in response to an emergency message initiated by a family member, the news release said. The Red Cross does not report any type of casualty information to family members; the Defense Department will contact families directly about family members' injuries.

It is a federal crime, punishable by up to five years in prison, for a person to fraudulently pretend to be a member of, or an agent for, the American Red Cross for the purpose of soliciting, collecting, or receiving money or material, according to the news release. Any military family member that receives such a call is urged to report it to their local family readiness group or military personnel flight.

Good News from Iraq: 31 May 2007

From The Fourth Rail, Awakening in Babil.

. . . Awakening movements have now been effectively established in the four provinces surrounding Baghdad. The Government of Iraq is funding the military arm of the movements, and incorporating the local tribal forces into provincial police forces. This movement is an integral part of the attempt to secure Baghdad and the outlying belts, where al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents have established networks from which they launch deadly suicide attacks inside the capital. The movements in Babil, Diyala, and Salahadin are still in their infancy, and the Iraqi government and Multinational Forces Iraq must take care to protect their leaders and support their efforts in the military, political, economic, and reconstruction spheres.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Today's Reading List: 30 May 2007

WaPo. William Arkin's Blog. More on Baseball and Blogs. Uh, what was his point, again? "I would prefer that all Americans saw themselves as team owners: that was the point of my column." Then why didn't you just say that in the first place.

NYTimes. Strife in North Iraq as Sunni Arabs Drive Out Kurds. Story focuses on Mosul. Compare to yesterday's good news posts from Irbil (Arbil) to the east of Mosul. Does this really qualify as positive sign, that NYT is posting something using the word "positive" about Iraq? Of course, it is buried in the story when it should BE the story. No further comment on this positive sign.

There are some positive signs, American commanders say. As in Anbar Province,
some Sunni militants are chafing at the Islamist agenda of
, said Lt. Col. Eric Welsh, leader of the Second Battalion, Seventh
Cavalry, the single American combat battalion in Mosul.

MNF-I. Engineers clear way for new school. Damaged outpost in Baqubah demolished. Army guys do like to blow stuff up. And the author of the article must too cause that's the focus.

Good News from Iraq: 30 May 2007

From MNF-I, Farmer now serves as Ramadi policeman.

“I didn’t think I’d be an Iraqi policeman either,” [Sgt. 1st Class Falah Hassan] laughs. “I wanted to continue farming but I had to change that because my city needed me.”

He said that while he was farming one day he noticed things were getting real bad around Ramadi so he heeded the call and joined the growing police force around Al-Anbar province.

“I did it because I wanted the terrorists out of this area, and
I’ll keep working until I see Ramadi safe and secure again.”

One Iraqi making a difference one day at a time.

Words to Consider

Thank you to Claire at Knee Deep in the Hooah! for posting this. It is something good to consider so I am posting it here too.

Dear Lord,
Lest I continue
My complacent way,
Help me to remember that somewhere,
Somehow out there
A man died for me today.
As long as there be war,
I then must
Ask and answer
Am I worth dying for?
~Eleanor Roosevelt

Dear Doggie Daddy

Here's this week's note from the doggies to Jack Bauer. Note: The dogs normally have the run of the backyard all the time and are rarely up until now left inside.

Dear Daddy,
Things changed here last week. Mommy is leaving us inside the house when she goes out. We spend the day patrolling the internal corridors of Camp Toenges. We haven't seen any signs of insurgents but we are looking. We are sure that's why we are left inside - to combat a new threat - even though Mommy says something about Moo needing to rest her shoulder.

Also, Bear has started doing patrols outside Camp Toenges alone with Mommy. We're not sure what the point of that is. Moo doesn't like being left behind. She is stepping up the internal patrols during this time.

We wish you were home with us cuz we miss you very much.

Lots of love,
Moo & Bear
& the cat too.

P.S. Daddy, I need your love too - Cat

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Final Stretch

Plans are apparently underway for Jack Bauer to come home on time. So I guess I better get busy doing all those things that I wanted to do before he gets home. Somehow I'm not convinced that I will be able to lose 50 pounds, but it is just that kind of thinking that is holding me back, right?

I got back into my routine today. Walked Bear. Moo had to stay home because of a shoulder injury. Went to Pilates intermediate mat class and signed up for a new equipment class starting next Tuesday. So after a 50-minute walk and a 60-minute mat class, I guess I deserve to be tired.

Good night.

Today's Reading List

In an effort to help me remember where I read/heard/saw a particular piece of information, I am going to start keeping a list of what I read/hear/see that relates to this war. It will contain the good, the bad, and the ugly. I anticipate it being mostly from MSM, but there will probably be blog posts too. They are not recommended readings unless I point that out specifically, which will be done with an asterisk before the entry. The list may be long or short or non-exisitant. It may be helpful to you or not. I figure I might as well publish the list rather than letting it sit in a file somewhere.

* recommended reading.

*Opinion Journal (by way of Trying to Grok). America's Honor: The stories behind Memorial Day. Great pieces of astounding heroism. Tear warning.

Opinion Journal. The Conservative Mind: The American right is a cauldron of debate; the left isn't. "Consider Iraq. The split among conservatives has widened since Saddam was toppled in the spring of 2003. . . . "

Opinion Journal. Best of the Web. New York Times: 2 papers in 1. Cindy Sheehan goes home to children. More on Kerry flip-flop.

The Weekly Standard. The Army We Need: We can't fight The Long War with the forces we have. Even Hillary and Obama calling for increase in size of Army and Marines.

The Weekly Standard. Don't Abandon the Iraqis: The high stakes of the war. Al Qaeada and Iran.

Good News from Iraq: 29 May 2007

From MNF-I, Security in northern Iraq aids economic opportunities.

Irbil - . . . In northern Iraq economic promises have boosted confidence in the population, international businessmen and investment potential. . . .

A view from the tenth floor of the new Naz City Apartments in Irbil, located near the new state-of-the-art convention center and Irbil  International Airport. A group of international investors traveled the stable northern region of Iraq and continued to meet with local business leaders, members of chambers of commerce and key government officials as some arranged for return trips to begin projects Friday. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Juanita Chang, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

Card Crazy

Yep, I am sending off more cards to MaryAnn at Soldiers' Angels Germany to give to patients at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. This is my 3rd shipment of cards of encouragement.

Running total: 39

Maybe I could get 200 done my the time Jack Bauer gets home. That would be great.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 28 May 2007

From MNF-I, Warrior Battalion defeats 18 IEDs in 48 hours.

BAGHDAD — Tips from local citizens led Iraqi Security Forces and Multi-National Division–Baghdad troops to discover 18 improvised explosive devices in the Rashid District of Baghdad May 23 -24.

Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division, together with Companies A and B of 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, found the devices after following tips from citizens in the Doura neighborhood of the city.

“We found these IEDs thanks to peace-loving Iraqis who are obviously tired of the violence and danger in their neighborhoods,” said Col. Ricky D. Gibbs, commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. “Their trust in the Warrior Battalion to successfully act on the information given them is a great news story in East Rashid and serves as a great example for others to follow.”

. . .

#1 Google Search

I am currently the #1 hit for "Memorial Day commercials" on Google. I feel so honored.

Searching for Hope on Public Radio

Sunday evening, after I dried the tears that welled up as I drove past a Memorial Day display of small crosses on a small patch of grass outside a local American Legion chapter, This American Life came on the radio. Usually full of odd, but fascinating gripping stories, it started off just that way. Except this Sunday it was about the Army and The Center for Lessons Learned. Ira Glass, the host of the show, said he couldn't help but feel hopeful after talking with the folks at the Center for Lessons Learned. He called the center "the US Army at its best." They decided to do a show based on this hope because "we wanted to feel a little hopeful for a change."

Shortly after I heard these words, I arrived at my destination and had to leave my car. But I too was hopeful. Hopeful that I would be able to get home and download and listen to the entire show. Then I too would be hopeful about the situation in Iraq.

Act I: Oops! We forgot to listen to the guy who said that we need to think about the occupation of Iraq after major combat operations were concluded. Hmmm. Lesson learned.

Act II: What's going on with the civilians? What are they thinking? Hyperfocus by the "liberals" on laying blame for us getting there. "Conservatives" calling for an alternative solution to the current predicament. I hear the same thing EVERYDAY. Hmmm. Not helping me be hopeful.

Act III: Withdrawal? What withdrawal? What will that mean? Will it be better or worse if we withdrawal? Thomas Ricks speaks from Baghdad. I don't think he actually answered any of these questions. Hopeful? Only becuause the guys who were in charge on the ground a couple of years ago are no longer in Iraq. Unfortunately, they are in Washington now. Does that inspire hope in you?

Hopeful? Any of it? Well, sometimes I really stretch to find the good news. They did the same here to find hope.

And BTW, the download is free for 1 week.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 27 May 2007

I heard about this on the news in my hotel room this morning and I knew that it would be my "Good News" of the day even though I wouldn't be posting it until late this evening. This is WONDERFUL news.

From the Washington Post, US Forces free Iraqis held by Al Qaeda in Iraq.

U.S. forces raided an al-Qaeda in Iraq hide-out northeast of Baghdad on Sunday and rescued 41 people who had been kidnapped by the insurgent group, some as long as four months ago, a U.S. military spokesman said.

. . .


Trip was fun, but too short.

Unfortunately, there is not much to blog about. Here's the sum total:

  • Almost got stuck on an overly full elevator with a woman who started to freak out.
  • Managed to not killed by my BFF's driving.
  • Ate extremely well (Cajun, Persian, Garrett's Caramel Popcorn, and home BBQ).
  • Wrote a few more cards to Soldiers for Soldiers' Angels Germany.
  • Made a woman realize that she had not yet met the wife of a deployed Soldier, which gave her great pause to think about how little the war has impacted her.
  • Paid $3.499 per gallon of gas, which is about $0.35 more per gallon that I had ever paid before (I'm not complaining, just being observant about it).
  • Tried a "test" batch of Doritos; they tasted like a cheeseburger with all the trimmings including ketchup, mustard, pickles.
  • Visited the American Girl store and remembered why I don't have children; I am sufficient to provide my own sense of wonderment about the world.
I hope that is enough "highlights" for you, especially it being a 36-hour trip including 10 hours of driving and 10 hours of sleeping (which was wonderful).

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Out of Town

Taking a little mini-vacation.

So I am trusting you all to not post obscene material in the comments while I am gone and I'm turning off comment moderation.

Let's see if how well that works out!

Good News from iraq: 26 May 2007

From MNF-I, Al-Anbar rejection of al-Qaeda creates economic, political opportunities.

“The Al-Anbar province is in transition,” said [U.S.Marine Corps Brig. Gen. John] Allen. “The recent improvement in the security situation across the province has created significant political and economic opportunities.”

Recently, Al-Anbar citizens have made several big steps engaging al-Qaeda in the province and have grown politically and economically closer with the Iraqi central government.

“There are dramatic changes in Al-Anbar,” said Allen. . . .

“The security improvements have been brought about by a groundswell of opposition to al-Qaeda, represented in the fact that just in a year, the police forces in Al-Anbar have grown from about 2,000 to 14,500,” he added.

As tribal and elder leaders in Al-Anbar province offer their sons to combat terrorism through the Iraqi Army or Iraqi Police, Coalition forces are optimistic about the overall situation in the province.

“A partnership exists today in Al-Anbar province between Coalition forces, the Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army,” said Allen. “By and large, al-Qaeda has been expelled out of the population centers.”

As efforts in security progress, the economy in Al-Anbar province is expected to pick up.

“In 2006, we finished more than 160 projects all over the province,” said [Al-Anbar province governor Mamoun Sami Rashid] Al-Awani. . . .

Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Fun Fact

I almost forgot to publish a Friday Fun Fact!

Let's see . . . I am sitting here with my MacBook on my lap, my feet propped up on the ottoman, and the first thing I see when I look up is . . .

Ah. My feet.

I wear a 10.5 AA shoe.

Skis. That's what I got for feet. A PITA really. Luckily, I grew up near the largest Nordstorm's women's shoe department. Nordies started off as a shoe store and they have remained dedicated to providing excellent footware. If you have an odd sized foot, go there. Their shoes are online too.

Good News from Iraq: 25 May 2007

From MNF-I, Iraqis taking the lead at Al Suleikh.

BAGHDAD — Capt. James Peay was starting to feel like a third wheel.

Peay, a battery commander with the 82nd Airborne Division from Nashville, Tenn., was accompanying Iraqi police chief Lt. Col. Ahmed Abdullah on a combined engagement patrol through the east Baghdad neighborhood of Suleikh.

Whenever they stopped to speak with people on the street, Ahmed did most of the talking. Peay stood off to the side, listening as his interpreter translated. His comments were mostly limited to hellos, goodbyes, and thank-yous.

This was Ahmed’s show, and Peay was more than happy to give him the spotlight. It’s not that he is shy, Peay said later, it’s that, ultimately, stability in Iraq depends on the Iraqi security forces – and people like Lt. Col. Ahmed - taking the lead.

Successfully negotiating that difficult transition has become one of the major focuses of the entire war effort, especially since the kick-off of the new security plan for Baghdad, which has placed thousands of additional U.S. and Iraqi forces in Baghdad communities, often living together in the same compounds.

Peay commands one of those new shared bases – the Suleikh Joint Security Station. For more than three months, paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division have been living and working side-by-side with the Iraqi police and Iraqi army at the JSS to coordinate security efforts in Suleikh. . . .
More evidence of Iraqis stepping up.

Where I love to eat!

Michelle at Military Mommy tagged me for this. Hmmm. I am only doing this because Michelle asked.

Instructions: "List out your top 5 favorite places to eat at your current location."

1. Whole Foods Market. We've got a great big, fairly new Whole Foods here with a big salad bar, a hot food bar, a deli, sushi & rice/noodle bowls, pre-made sandwiches and salads, pizza, panini bar, and gelato in addition to the rest of the great stuff found in the bakery and the rest of the store. Definitely great to hit to get salads. The rest of the stuff that I've had there is wonderful and dangerously high in calories.

2. Kaldi's Coffeehouse. There is a little one right down the street from my acupuncturist/chiropractor and I will be going there for lunch after my massage today. This particualr location is a vegetarian coffeehouse, but I don't hold that against them.

3. Modesto. Tapas. Great way to get to taste lots of wonderful things and keep the portions under control. Jack Bauer and I have been celebrating anniversaries and birthdays there for some time. I take my out of town guests there. But the best is to sit at the bar and have Roxanna serve me and Jack Bauer. Very intimate in a busy, bustling restaurant. I like to sit on the far side of the bar so I can look at the small painting of the black bull on the red background and be transported into The Sun Also Rises.

4. The Pitted Olive. Just because it is my BFF's favorite place to go.

5. Hardee's. As it is called here in the middle. I grew up with Carl's Jr. on the west coast. Then I moved to North Carolina and was faced with McD's or Hardee's. McD's always won. Back then Hardee's had only good breakfast biscuits. Then there was some sort of merger/acquistion thing and now Hardee's is Carl's or vice versa. Regardless, they have great hamburgers now and that's all that matters.

Out of fear of rejection, I am not going to tag any one to do this. But if you are interested, consider yourself tagged by me! :D

More on Memorial Day

I have a new post up over at The Lemon Stand. Check it out here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Memorial Day ads are here. Arrgghh!

Those would be the Memorial Day ads. It is especially frustrating to hear about LaZ-Boy furniture and their Memorial Day Sale!!! At least Buick/Pontiac/GMC dealers are attempting to combine patriotism and supporting our troops with sales. Unfortunately, on their websites, they completely fail to mention the A Million Thanks organization that is promiently displayed in their TV commercials. Just promoting their cars and sales. Cuz that's what Monday is really all about.

While I am on the topic, check out a few posts about Memorial Day that are already beginning to pop up:
Blackfive: Memorial Day - How to Honor the Real Heroes
Badgers Forward: Memorial Day: Observed

Every day is Memorial Day for us in the milblog community.

Another Democrat Supporting Victory in Iraq

From The Opinion Journal, The Left's Iraq Muddle: Yes, it is central to the fight against Islamic radicalism. By Bob Kerrey

. . .

American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq's middle class has fled the country in fear.

With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy. . . .

Good News from Iraq: 24 May 2007

From MNF-I, 'Battlefield docs' hone skills in Iraq. As a recovering ER nurse, I must say this is fascinating stuff.

BALAD AIR BASE — More than 40 "battlefield docs" - surgeons and physician assistants from around Iraq - converged at Air Force Theater Hospital May 21 here to hone their already razor-sharp surgical skills at the Tri-Service Extremity War Surgery Symposium. . . .

Survival rates for U.S. patients here have reached 98 percent -- unheard of in past wars -- and surgical procedures here rival any performed in trauma centers stateside.

"One of the ways we've been able to achieve that 98 percent survival rate was defining and perfecting a standardization of care that prevents, or at least reduces, unwarranted practice variations," said Col. Brian Masterson, the [Balad Air Base] hospital's commander. . . .

With the current generation of body armor and all its enhancements to better protect troops, the highest percentage of combat wounds in this war are to troops' extremities," said Lt. Col. Raymond Fang, the co-director of the intensive care unit at the AFTH. He deployed from the 435th Medical Squadron at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. . . .

I spared you the gory details that medical people eat bloody steak dinners discussing.

License Plate Game: UPDATE #3

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that I dropped this silly license plate game thing. But nope, I've been diligently searching Middleville high and low (mostly low - you know, bumper level) for those few remaining states that have not appeared . . . until now.

Here's the next installment of the progress of the game.

Total: 47

Remaining states: MT RI WV

Good News from DC, again?

Bush Supports $120 Billion Iraq War Compromise (registration may be required).

. . . The bill funds the war through September as Bush wanted and does not set a date for U.S. troop withdrawals. In exchange for dropping restrictions on the military, Bush agreed to some $17 billion in spending added by Democrats to fund domestic and military-related projects.

''By voting for this bill, members of both parties can show our troops and the Iraqis and the enemy that our country will support our service men and women in harm's way,'' Bush said in a Rose Garden news conference. . . .

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

First Sign of Summer

Fireflies are out tonight!

Having grown up on the West Coast, I never saw a firefly until I was in my 20s. But the first time I saw one, I was struck with a child-like wonderment. Fifteen years later, I am still struck silly when I see the first one of the summer. Impossible not to smile. And that happened tonight.


Another funk?

For the last couple of weeks, I just haven't felt like sharing much. Humphf! Here's a list of my current concerns/issues (OK, just some of my issues - I don't want to crash the blogosphere with the WHOLE list):

1. I'm getting anxious about JD Jack Bauer coming home in a few months when his post-deployment employment situation is not clear yet. He does have a fall-back plan so it really is just a matter of WHERE we will be. The plan is to have the house in decent enough condition to sell if necessary upon Jack Bauer's return.

2. Revelations about my parents from when they were just here. Go figure - my mother is not perfect! Lyn (therapist) is going to love this. I think this starts some of that basement cleaning I've mentioned before. Yikes!

3. Taking care of myself. I have not been walking the dogs. My excuse? Moo's hurt her shoulder. I have not been eating well. My excuse? Lazy? Stress? Anxiety? Some of each? I haven't been to a weight watchers meeting in weeks and I need to go to meetings. Just putting other things ahead of going, like watching the milblog conference. I have not been sleeping as good as usual and I usually sleep very well. Too much caffeine? Stress? Anxiety? Talking with Jack Bauer too late? Some of each? I need to renew my commitment to myself.

Hmmm. Well that's a quite a bit. No wonder I am feeling down.

Let's go to yoga! :)

Good News from Iraq: 23 May 2007

I get really tired of folks - obviously not my highly informed readers - saying that the Iraqis need to step up and fight. Hello!! They are!! Here is some more evidence of it.

Battling al Qaeda in Iraq - The Iraqi Army is stepping up the fight against terror.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Google Searches

One of the most fascinating things about blogging is the sitemeter, especially google searches. I've had a couple of very google searches result in folks clicking on this blog in the last 24 hours.

1. "ied caramel macchiato starbucks recipe" - go figure, I am the only hit. Where else are you going to info on IEDs and Starbucks? This is the place. Alright, so that person was probably looking for an "iced" drink recipe, but there are no accidents in life, right?

"oops westville ok" - well it turns out there is a Westville, OK. That's not the Westville JD Jack Bauer was in. Not sure what the person was looking for with "oops".

Very interesting.

Good News from Iraq: 22 May 2007

Ten myths about OIF.

(found at Blackfive).

Monday, May 21, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 21 May 2007

Over at Badgers Forward, Badger 6 has a post and CNN video about the great strides in increased safety that Ramadi has seen. It is amazing to think that a reporter is able to walk the streets of Ramadi, what had been dubbed one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

Check it out.

More Cards to Soldiers

As I mentioned here and here, I am sending cards to Soldiers' Angels Germany. Today I sent 13 cards in the mail. I am having a good time finding butterfly note cards. I found some at the Botanical Gardens this past weekend, and I restrained myself and did not buy ALL of them. Once Jack Bauer (f/k/a JD) gets home I won't be spending so much money on cards to send to him so I can spend it on cards to Soldiers.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Day Off

Just taking a day off here. Doing stuff around the house. Keeping busy. Taking a nap. Enjoying the weather. I hope you all are doing the same.

See ya tomorrow.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

JD has a new name

I've decided that it is time to call JD something else: Jack Bauer.

When we IM, he is insisting on calling me Chloe. Hmmm. Of course, all Jack ever does is yell at Chloe to get the information faster so I am a little skeptical about this new identity. But if it entertains him . . . I guess that's all that matters.

Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone

My parents were in town recently to help around the house and spend some time with me (they don't get to see me but a few times a year). My refrigerator and pantry are pathetically stocked for company. Drinks: water, bottled spring, tap, or distilled; milk, skim; margarita mix. Food: fat free plain yogurt; eggs, 7; cheese, sliced cheddar, parrano wedge; snow peas; broccolini; sprouted grain english muffins; strawberries, oranges, grapefruits, apples, bananas. No alcohol to go with the margarita mix. No diet coke for my addicted mother. No juice. No real bread to speak of. Pathetic hostess I am. (I won't even tell you about forgetting to make up the guest bed - oops!)

So my poor mother wanted a diet coke. We went to Whole Foods earlier in the day, but they don't carry products with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, so no diet coke there. She wanted to know how far she had to walk to get a diet coke.

BW: Well there is the Save-a-Lot at the end of the street. About 4 blocks. But I have never been in there and the in-laws said it was scary when they went in 4 years ago.

Mom: OK. I'm sure they have diet coke. You're going with me.

BW: Hmmm.

We walked the 4 blocks, it was a gorgeous day, perfect weather I ordered up special. Then crossed the big neighborhood street (jaywalking is mandatory in this middle city). Crossed the broken down cars in the parking lot. As we entered the store, I thought, "I have lived in this neighborhood for 4 and a half years, and I have managed to stay out of this store, but there is no going back now."

We made our way through the aisles made of stacked boxes. No frills. Simple signs. Very different from the upscale Whole Foods of suburbia. Down the first aisle we found a reason t return: authentic eastern European and Mexican food. My opinion of this white-trash, inner-city, can't-get-a-decent-latte store changed quite quickly. OK. So you can't get a latte there, but they did have some sort of latte snack bars.

Of course, they had the diet coke.

And I might even go back to get some tortillas.

I wonder what other little gems I've been missing out on by sticking rigidly to my routine.

Good News from Iraq: 19 May 2007

Always nice to be able to report Good News from the New York Times. U.S. Forces Seize 6 Linked to Armor-Piercing Bombs.

BAGHDAD, May 18 — American soldiers on Friday captured six men in northeast Baghdad suspected of involvement in smuggling materials for deadly armor-piercing bombs, the military said. . . .

The military said that two of the six suspected insurgents arrested Friday, who were not identified, were considered “key leaders” of a “secret-cell terrorist network,” one of whom was involved in “numerous murders, kidnappings, assassinations” of Iraqis and coalition troops.

The group was also “known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or E.F.P.’s, from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training,” the military said in the statement. . . .

Friday, May 18, 2007

Ahem - Who Called the Mango?

Linda from the MacDonald Clan sent me the link to this article about importing mangoes from India, specifically the Alphonso mango.

This is mango's moment. For the first time, India, the world's largest producer of the world's favorite fruit, has been granted access to the U.S. market. Best of all, it's the particularly coveted Alphonso variety that is on its way to grocers.
So be on the look out as mangoes are all the rage, as I predicted several weeks ago.

Good News from Iraq: 18 May 2007

From MNF-I, progress in the Iraq economy.

While the intra-Iraqi economy begins a cycle of creating jobs and industries to restart the economy, international businesses are beginning to show interest in what an industrial Iraq has to offer.

“We continue to work contract negotiations with Western retailers as well as heavier industrial operations in the West,” [Paul] Brinkley [U.S. deputy undersecretary of Defense for Business Transformation] said. “One of the most inspiring locations is a very large textile factory [in Najaf] where 1,800 Iraqis have now returned to work, and the clothing made in that factory is being reviewed by Western retail outlets.”

Friday Fun Fact

I like to wear JD's Blackfive t-shirt to sleep in. Feels like I've got the protection of the milblogosphere.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 17 May 2007

From MNF-I, GEN Caldwell and GEN Garganus report continued improvements in Al Anbar Province.

“The main enemy facing the Iraqi people in Al-Anbar is al-Qaeda,” [U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV] said. “They need for the people of Iraq to feel unsafe so that even their way of life seems preferable.”

As the community leaders of Al-Anbar stand against al-Qaeda by providing information to Iraqi and Coalition forces, progress in security has limited terrorist activities in the region.

“We’re seeing the attack numbers continuing to drop [in Al-Anbar], which is a very good indicator that the security system is getting better,” said [U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. C. Mark] Gurganus.

You know you're a milspouse when . . .

I have a new post up over at The Lemon Stand. Check it out.

Good News from DC, again?

From WaPo, Senate defeats a bill to cut off funding for troops next year.

The Senate yesterday soundly rejected a symbolic bid to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq within a year, underscoring lingering divisions within the Democratic Party over how hard to push President Bush to end the war.

Despite heavy public opposition to the conflict, 19 Democrats broke with their party's antiwar leadership to oppose cutting off funding by March 31, 2008, joining 47 Republicans and one independent in the 67 to 29 vote against the measure. The Senate's four Democratic presidential candidates were among the supporters of the measure, offered as an amendment to unrelated bill, as House and Senate leaders prepared to negotiate a spending package that would fund the war through September.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 16 May 2007

From MNF-I, Baghdad residents receive free medical care

BAGHDAD — Members of the Iraqi Ministry of Health, along with soldiers from the Multi-National Division - Baghdad, conducted a joint medical operation, May 8, to provide needed medical attention to the people in the western neighborhood of Hurriyah.

And America's Next Top Model is . . .

Well I must say that I was disappointed that Renee was booted off before the final two. "Not a fresh face" my ass. Oh well.

And the winner is . . .


Deep thoughts by . . .

I have a new post up over at The Lemon Stand. Check it out.

Surging Ahead in Iraq

From the Opinion Journal, The new strategy can work. But Washington has to give it time.

. . . Slow progress toward an acceptable modus vivendi may still be possible as long as the U.S. doesn't insist on artificial timetables to resolve complex and emotional issues. What incentive do Iraqi politicians have to make compromises if they think that American troops are heading out the door? If that's the case, Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds would be well advised to avoid making any concessions that would strengthen their mortal enemies. Thus all the talk in Washington about troop withdrawals has the opposite effect from what is intended. Instead of spurring Iraqi politicians to compromise, it leads them to be more obdurate. . . .

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 15 May 2007

From MNF-I, Iraqis in the lead.

As of December 2006, 80 percent — 8 Iraqi Army division HQs, 31 brigades, and 92 battalions — were “in the lead”; that is, responsible for their own area of operations and subordinate units, and capable of effectively conducting their own counter-insurgency operations.

The Importance of Embedding Reporters

From The Weekly Standard, The Best Ambassadors: How American troops are making some unlikely friends.

. . . Rather than simply sitting back and receiving dispatches and releases carefully crafted to "cast U.S. troops in the best possible light," embedded reporters, by the very nature of their task, see the troops with whom they are living and working at all times--the good, the bad, the heroic, the angry, the emotional, and everything else. The former claim though, that reporters will be overly sympathetic to the troops, does ring true to a degree; the debate on that count, then, is whether that is actually a bad thing. . . .

President Honors Military Spouses at White House

From DoD's Defenselink:

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2007 – President Bush today paid tribute to military spouses across the nation and presented the Presidential Volunteer Service Award to six military
spouses who he said “represent the very best of what volunteering means.”
. . .

Nice to be honored . . .

I wonder if it's the weather.

I have been feeling a little down the last couple of weeks. Just not full of energy or enthusiasm. And I know I'm not alone. I was reading another milspouse's blog and notice a couple of comments to the same effect.

Then I got to thinking (and that's where the trouble always starts) . . . I wonder if it's the weather. The weather here in the middle has been glorious. It has been a wonderfully warm with low humidity. The windows are open. The flowers are blooming. The grass is green and growing. The trees are full of leaves again. Again. But JD is not here. Again.

Spring. Growth. Hope for a new start. Life. Enjoyment. Everyone's moods are elevated. Happy people everywhere. But something is absent.

JD is not here. And I want him to be here to enjoy these things with me. Hold my hand while we go for a walk with the doggies.

So I am going to blame the weather for being too nice. ;)

Cards, Cards, Cards

And I'm not talking baseball here.

I'm talking about me going crazy these last few days buying cards to send to JD. I think I've snatched up every card with a butterfly on it. I just counted. I have 36 cards set aside to send to JD in the next 15 weeks. At 3 a week, I might have to get some more to finish up August. But then he should be on his way home!!!

Plus I bought 4 different note card sets to write messages of encouragement to our ill and wounded Soldiers in Germany. (Sent 13 out yesterday!)

And throw in the postage rate increase to boot! Oh my!

Babies of Spring

Across my view walks a gaggle of Canada geese and their new babies, all 9 of them, lined up one after another, waddling across the bright green grass, between the low hanging trees, off in search of just the right patch of lawn for munching on.

Oh they are cute!

Ya gotta love Spring . . . ahhhh.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 14 May 2007

From US CENTCOM, Anbar Villages Appreciate Water Treatment Investment:

RAMADI, Iraq – Residents north of Ramadi, Iraq will soon have fresh, potable water pumped into their homes. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Gulf Region Central district is overseeing the construction of two small water treatment plants as well as the installation of 24,000 meters of water main for Zangora, a community of 48,000 people, in central Iraq.

Those two units, each capable of purifying 200 cubic meters per hour, are located several kilometers apart to ensure the entire city has an adequate water source. “Residents tell us they’re definitely looking forward to the project’s completion this summer when they will have access to clean water for the first time ever,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Arturo Aseo, USACE Officer in Charge of the Ramadi area. . . .

“Projects like these are what it’s all about – helping people. It’s great to see the smiles from local residents– young and old. They appreciate what we’re doing,” Aseo continued. “Security is a challenge in Al Anbar Province. But in my four months here, I have seen a dramatic improvement in conditions. Local sheiks are now supporting us. They see we’re here to assist them to make things better. Contractors are excited to do the work. These are all very positive signs.” . . .

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Good news from Iraq: 13 May 2007

From MNF-I, Devil Dogs take a bite out of insurgency

ASAD — . . . In the Al Anbar Province, more specifically Al Asad, it is the four-legged Marines at the Military Working Dog Kennel taking a bite out of insurgency.

The dogs and their handlers make sure that the service members aboard Al Asad and those they accompany outside the wire, are kept safe from improvised explosive devices and other dangers. . . .

As a doggie mommy I just couldn't resist!

Happy Mother's Day

I just want to wish all the Mothers out there a very


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Letter Writing Campaign

ArmyWifeToddlerMom has inspired me to get busy with writing to our wounded soldiers through Soldier's Angels Germany.

Write Patients in Germany
The Soldiers' Angels have adopted the Combat Support Hospitals in Iraq and all the Military hospitals worldwide. Soldiers’ Angels Germany supports the patients at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. See About Medical Evacuations to Germany.

You can write letters and cards of support and encouragement to the wounded and ill troops who are being treated in and transitioned through medical facilities in Germany.

Your cards and letters will be included in Transitional Backpacks or separately as needs dictate, but in both cases distributed directly through Soldiers’ Angels Germany. You may want to include your name, address and email address in your letters.

Suggested salutations: "Dear Soldier", "Dear Hero", "American Hero", etc. are all fine!

Please place unsealed cards and letters with "Dear Hero", etc. written on the outside in a single larger envelope and send to:

21st TSC, Medical Transient Detachment
ATTN: Soldiers’ Angels, MaryAnn Phillips
UNIT 23203
APO AE 09263

- Please notify us when items are shipped.
- Include a note with your name, Email address, and short description of items sent in your packages. Without this information, we regret will not be able to confirm their receipt.
- Receipt confirmation may take up to 5 weeks. Thanks for your patience.

Thank you for your support.
I think this is a wonderful idea and a great way to do something other than sit here and type about myself. I spare 5 minutes a day to write a note card, gather them up at the end of the week, and mail them.

And in order to help me do this all, I bought note cards with butterflies on them. None too girly though.

Let's see what I can do. I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Good News from Iraq: 12 May 2007

From The Fourth Rail, Anbar Rising.

. . .

Ramadi, AO Denver on the rise

The political and security developments have had a dramatic impact on the situation in Anbar. The success in Ramadi, which used to be the most deadly city in Iraq, has been well documented. Attacks, which averaged 25 a day last summer, and spiked to as much as 50 a day according to a U.S. military intelligence source, have been reduced to 4 per day. In AO Denver, the expanse of Anbar from Hit westward to Husaybah on the border, the entire region is averaging 5 attacks per day. “The quality of these attacks are generally poor,” said Colonel Koenig.

The U.S. and Iraqi militaries are finding more IEDs that are being detonated against their forces. While weapons caches are being discovered, the security forces are finding few new caches, indicating the insurgency doesn't have the time or capacity to restock or create new ones.

Haditha, once one of the most violent towns in the Euphrates River Valley, is essentially quiet. The Souks are now open in Ramadi. The markets in Hit and Husaybah, which sits directly on the Syrian border and once was declared an Islamic State by al Qaeda, are thriving. "I am tempted to take off my vest & walk around," the open market of Hit and Husaybah, said Col [John A.] Koenig, Koenig [(USMC), the head of the II Marine Expeditionary Force G-5 (Governance and Economics)]. The government in Husaybah has been so effective that the CMOC [Civil Military Operations Center], which provided services to the civilians, has been closed. "We can sit on the roof in Ramadi and watch the sunset without fear of snipers," said Major Jeffery Pool, the lead Public Affairs Officer for Multinational Forces West.

. . .

Gift for a Doggie Daddy

I sent JD a care package today:

  • Adorable Dogs edited by Helen Exley, which is a collection of cute doggie pix and doggie quotes.
    Cover Image
    It is from the doggies and included a note:

    Dear Daddy,
    When we saw this at B&N, we told mommy that she had to get it. We jumped up and down and wouldn't stop woofing until she agreed. Then we smiled and sat down and swished our tails like good doggies. Mommy got us treats from 3DB!
    Love, Moo & Bear.

  • 2 pounds of Kaldi's coffee, whole bean: 1 pound Highlander Grogg (cuz it smells sooooo goooood) and 1 pound Dharma Lava Java (cuz JD likes Indonesian dark roasts).

  • The local weekly free paper. You know the kind that has the naughty personals in the back. teeheehee.

  • April and May 2007 issues of National Geographic.

  • Tiffany & Co. mini-catalog on Celebration Rings - just cuz. A girl can dream, right? ;)
  • LifeSavers Fruit Tart tins (watermelon, cherry lemonade, mandarin orange and grape berry, green apple, strawberry watermelon).
    LifeSavers Fruit Tarts Grape Berry - Green Apple - Strawberry Watermelon
  • 6 bags of College Farm Organic Hard Candies in Vienna Roast (x3), Chocolate Mint (x2), and Vanilla Caramel (x1). They are put in loose to fill in those crevices.
    College Farm Organic bagged candy selection
  • Dr. Bonner's Magic Soaps 18-in-1 Hemp Pure Castile Soap in Peppermint, Almond, Tea Tree, and Eucalyptus (and I triple plastic bagged those).

  • 2 body wash mesh ball puffy thingies - I wanted to get him just the pink one, but I thought better of that so I got a white one too!

  • And a special note, the contents of which only JD gets to see.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday Fun Fact

The other day I mentioned that the deployment bracelet is part of my personal armament. I wear that bracelet on my left wrist along with my Adrienne Vittadini square-faced silver watch with black leather band.

On my right wrist I wear a very precious piece cuff. It is silver, worn with generations of polishing away oxidized layers of the gray light metal. It is a southwestern Native American (probably Navajo or Hopi) stamped design of feathers and a swastika representing the whirling winds. My mother-in-law gave to me several years ago. She grew up in Arizona just south of the Grand Canyon. The cuff was her mother's (JD's grandmother). It was the first gift JD's grandmother received from her husband-to-be. It dates back to the 1920s or so (pre-Nazi Germany and the abduction of the symbol).

When I wear it, I feel like Wonder Woman. It empowers me to carry on the strength of some very determined women who have been part of my husband's family. Now I am one of them.

Military Spouse Appreciation Day

I know that Military Spouse Appreciation Day sounds completely made up, but it is in fact a special day set aside by Ronald Reagan (what a guy!).
I just want to give a shout out to all the milspouses/girlfriends/fiancees out there who support our troops from the homefront.

I started this blog 2 months ago today and the ladies linked to the right have helped me a great deal getting through this patch with their kind comments and while I was out there lurking before I started my own blog. And to them, I say THANK YOU!

I have received several e-cards from JD, my mother, my sister, and a couple of other thank you cards from folks. Bea, my dear co-worker (smirk), even brought me a little mum plant in. (I think this redeems some of her insensitive qualities.)

Good News from Iraq: 11 May 2007

From US CENTCOM, Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Southern Iraq - Progress Toward Independence.

“We’re very focused on the need to return control to Baghdad. But we’re also very focused on the need to build capacity in the local and provincial governments and to be able to deliver economic and reconstruction assistance there.”

Those words were from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a statement January, 2007, explaining the need to build up Iraq and provide its people with independence.

For some provinces of the country, that independence has been achieved. Setting a milestone on July 13, 2006, Muthanna became the first province to transition its security to Provincial Iraqi Control (PIC). The second province to transfer authority was Dhi Qar on September 21 and An Najaf on December 20. Most recently, Maysan transferred authority on April 18.

But the government in these areas is still in its fledgling stages. Having spent so much time under the Saddam-controlled central government, many officials in provinces such as Dhi Qar and Muthanna are learning how to manage and provide essential services for the people in their areas.

That’s where the Provincial Reconstruction Teams come in. The PRTs exist as a civil-military effort, which in many places become the number one interface between U.S. and Coalition allies and Iraqi provincial governments.

In June 2005, Iraq’s Prime Minister announced a joint decision to systematically hand over security authority in all 18 of Iraq’s provinces to the Provincial Civil Authorities under the control of each province’s governor. The security responsibility will then fall under the authority of the Provincial Governor, the Provincial Council and the Iraqi Police.

A fact sheet provided by the PRTs stated the Joint Committee to Transfer Security Responsibility was formed to determine when a province was ready to be transferred. The JCTSR looks to four conditions when determining whether or not a province is ready for its security responsibility to be transferred. Those conditions are threat assessment, readiness of the Iraqi Security Forces, the governance capabilities of the province and Multi National Forces Iraq force posture.

The fact sheet also highlighted as part of the President’s plan, the number of PRT personnel will double to 600 team members countrywide. In conjunction with the added staff, the capacity of the PRT program is being doubled with ten new “embedded” PRTs. These teams will work hand-and-glove in Brigade Combat Teams in synch with the military surge in Anbar and the Baghdad area.

. . .

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Testing the 5-second Rule

No surprises here. The longer the food stays on a bacteria-infested surface, the more bacteria winds up on the food.

Now any 10-year-old could have told you that.

Scott Menchin - NYT

Good News from Iraq: 10 May 2007

From The Fourth Rail, tribes in Diyala Province to join forces to expel al Qaeda.

. . . "Arab tribesmen in Baqubah have said they will form a tribal alliance to cleanse the Diyala province of foreign fighters and those of the al-Qaeda terrorist network in
. . .

Diyala has become the main hub of al Qaeda's operations. Al Qaeda in Iraq made Baqubah the capital of its rump Islamic State of Iraq. . . .

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Deployment Bracelet

Not too long before JD left the states, I came across a google ad for Deployment Bracelets. I rarely click on those links by this one had my attention. Not normally my kind of jewelry, but I was drawn to the idea of wearing a bracelet representing my support of my husband through this deployment.

I was fascinated by the idea of having a little soldier, complete with rifle, hanging off of my wrist.
I thought to myself, "If I had that bracelet, I would be protected the entire time JD is gone."

So JD got me one. Of course, it has his real name on it, not JD.
I wear it everyday as part of my personal armament.

Good News from Iraq: 9 May 2007

From MNF-I Freedom Fact on Equipment:

During the 2006, MNSTC-I brought the Iraqi Army to 100 percent of its operational requirement by purchasing more than $958 million of weapons, vehicles, and Operational Combat Individual Equipment. In all, CMATTs issued more than 97,433 weapons, 7,502 vehicles and 361,704 pieces of clothing and equipment.

Good News from DC?

Good news (of sorts - all depends on your point of view) from another front: Washington, DC. Iraq's National Security Advisor visits US to meet with congressional leaders.

WASHINGTON — Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the national security adviser to Iraq’s prime minister, undertook on Tuesday what may have been his most challenging mission yet: trying to persuade American lawmakers who have all but run out of patience that still more patience is required. . . .

“I know that they are running out of patience, and I understand this very well,” Mr. Rubaie said in a Monday interview in which he outlined his case. “And we have to play the political game. But I feel we are on the last mile of a walk toward success, and if they let go and don’t take our hand, I feel that we are going to lose everything.” . . .

“We need to start lobbying in D.C.,” Mr. Rubaie said, adding that the effort was the idea of the Iraqi government, not the Bush administration. “We need to make people understand our perspective — what are the challenges we are facing, what are the difficulties we are facing. We are not lying and doing nothing.” . . .

Mr. Rubaie also insisted that the troop withdrawal deadlines some lawmakers are seeking to impose are unrealistic and would even embolden the enemy. . . .

In the session with [Senator Carl] Levin, Mr. Rubaie stressed that Iraq was involved in a historic process to overcome the long legacy of authoritarian rule, and that the early withdrawal of American troops would lead to chaos.

Mr. Levin, for his part, stuck firmly to his position that the United States should begin a partial troop withdrawal in four months to put pressure on the Iraqi leaders to make the necessary political compromises.

I think this article shows the Democrats to be stuck in their position with very little wiggle room: Our way or . . . well . . . our way is bestest becuase we say so! (*use whiny SEN Reid voice*)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 8 May 2007

From the LA Times, in Ramadi, ragtag solution with real results.

RAMADI, IRAQ — Call it Neighborhood Watch, Iraqi-style. . . .

Together with the 4,500 police officers recruited in Ramadi since last May, the members of the Provincial Security Force, or PSF, have helped effect an improvement in security that has seen attacks on U.S. forces plummet and a surge in discoveries of insurgents' weapons and munitions caches. U.S. military officers now talk of a "tipping point" in the three-year battle in Ramadi that has left much of this city in ruins. . . .

Enlistments have grown, and the number of uniformed Iraqi police officers and provincial troops on Ramadi's streets has multiplied to 6,700 from only 200 in July. Security has improved correspondingly.

From an average of 30 insurgent attacks per day in December, such assaults had fallen to an average of fewer than four by last month, said the coalition's commander in Ramadi, U.S. Army Col. John Charlton. . . .

But even the most optimistic U.S. colonel was not prepared for the flood of recruits once the sheiks got the word out that joining the army, police and provincial force had their approval. Recently, 1,500 Iraqi youths showed up to enlist in the police, more than recruiters could take.

Charlton says he now puts recruits in the provincial force until they can qualify for army or police slots. Literacy classes are beginning in several units to help members qualify to advance.

"Kids come up and ask if they can join the army or police. We make them irregulars in the PSF until there is a place for them," he said.

Another change that helped recruiting was a policy introduced in February promising army recruits from Al Anbar that they would be based close to home if they enlisted. Within two days of the switch, 400 youths had signed up."These guys are getting to the attacks before they happen," Army Staff Sgt. Todd Bair said. "They know who the bad guys are, and they are helping us get weapons and snipers off the streets." . . .

Helping Out a Friend

Tomorrow a friend of mine is going to the hospital for a double mastectomy. She is 45 years old and a mother of 4. She was diagnosed with breast cancer last Fall and thought that chemotherapy was going to be sufficient to save her breasts. She decided to save her life instead and greatly reduce the risk of a relapse. Tomorrow her breasts come off. And in light of her last day at work today, I am wearing pink.

I recently came across The Breast Cancer Site, which encourages a daily click for free mammograms. I bookmarked the page and it resides just beneath the link to this blog so I am reminded to take 15 seconds out of my "busy day" to help women get screened.

Will you click today?

Monday, May 7, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 7 May 2007

From DefenseLink, reconstruction efforts in al Anbar Province:

. . . “The type of work we have undertaken is hard work. It takes time and constant attention,” Army Col. Deborah Lewis, commander of the Gulf Regional Central District, told Iraqi reporters during a May 5 briefing on reconstruction in Anbar province.

The Army Corps of Engineer’s Gulf Region Division is spearheading public works projects to improve Iraq’s water, oil and electricity infrastructure. The division has completed 2,279 projects to construct or renovate security and justice buildings, health and education centers, transportation arteries and communications facilities in Iraq. According to the division’s Web site, 325 such programs are ongoing.

. . .

I'm Not Really a Self-Help Nut

I've got a new post up over at The Lemon Stand. Check it out here.

Diverse Day

On Saturday I virtually attended part of the Milblog Conference. That was a great to see what other milbloggers had to say. Ultimately, a conservative crowd.

I finished off the day by attending a fundraiser at a local church for a small scholarship program for college 2 states away. My companions for the evening were 3 gay men. A much more liberal crowd than the morning folks.

Saturday night as I was walking back to my car, I thought smiling to myself, "What a day. Where else could I be involved in a relatively group of military bloggers being by the President of the United States in the morning and then spend the evening with 3 gay men discussing show tunes. Very fascinating spectrum. I love this country."

I had a good time with both events.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 6 May 2007

From MNF-I, Freedom Fact on banks . . .

Since 2003, eight banks in and around Baghdad have lent a combined $2.26 million to local businesses. These banks have encouraged the growth of local small business by transitioning from a conservative, collateral-based loan system to a more aggressive system based on the cash flow generated by businesses.

Militarty Survivor Benefits

Read this article about one widow's experience and view on Military Survivor Benefits.

That Was Odd

Sorry folks. Blogger seemed to have a problem this morning and did not like me clicking on "New Post". It thought I was an automated robot. I don't know. Whatever.

Unfortunately, now that I can type, I gotta run! I should be able to get something up later tonight unless Blogger thinks I am some sort of 3-headed monster later.


Saturday, May 5, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 5 May 2007

From The Fourth Rail, more Sunni tribes join the Anbar Salvation Council.

The Anbar Salvation Council, led by Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Rishawi, has turned the Albu Fahd tribe against al Qaeda. The Albu Fahd was one of the six original Anbari tribes to support al Qaeda and its Islamic State in Iraq. These six tribes are known in some military intelligence circles as the "Sinister Six". The Albu Fahd [described as the Bu-Fahed] has now joined the Anbar Salvation Council and pledged to throw its weight behind the fight against al Qaeda.