Saturday, June 30, 2007

The End of the Month

Another month is ending. Several months ago, I was waiting for April to get here so I could start marking off the days of my MLB baseball schedule. Now the calendar is half full of big blue "X"s.

And Jack Bauer has given me a date when he thinks he will be home. I am working on remembering to live this chapter of my life as it occurs, rather than worrying about the next chapter that is not written yet.

Well, I've got a whole heck of a lot to do in the next 2 1/2 months to get this house in shape to (presumably) sell when Jack Bauer gets home. I'll try to keep you all up to date with what's going on as "the end" nears.

Good News from Iraq: 30 Jun 2007

From The Fourth Rail, Weapons caches discovered in Thar Thar region on Anbar province.

. . . [T]he 3/1 [Marines] found three large caches on June 25 and 26. "The first cache reportedly contained more than 121 IEDs, more than half of which were already armed. The devices included 'speed bump' IEDs, often placed or buried in roads ... The second find was the largest of the three. A house search uncovered a room containing a high-explosive stack nearly three feet high draped in a United Nations flag. Battalion personnel estimate the material could have been used to construct more than 80 large IEDs ... The third cache ... [contained] various small arms munitions, a rocket-propelled grenade, 10 pressure plate IEDs and other bomb making material." . . .

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Library of our Personal History

Well I've started packing. I started with our books. Jack Bauer is a voracious reader of history, politics, and military related material. And he likes to keep books. I like to give away my books so there isn't much there I would classify as mine.

But this is housecleaning. Reduction is household goods. Somethings will have to go. I have to decide what stays and what goes. How do I decide what is really important to Jack Bauer?

The Dogs of War - stays. Federal White Collar Crime - goes. Black Hawk Down - stays. Secured Transactions - goes. Emma - stays. Adult and Pediatric Pathophysiology for Nurses - goes. Books on Reagan, Adams, Franklin - stay. Various (other) Fredrick Forsyth paperback novels - go.

I am keeping all books on the military and war-related nonfiction.

It makes me anxious thinking that I could be throwing away something that he wants to keep. But it is time to move on from our old ways and the books that trained us.

I quickly filled up 3 small boxes and made a trip to Lowe's for another 10. I better get back to work.

The New 'Do

I was over at Standing By, and Liberal Army Wife suggested I give you all a look at my new 'do, ala AWTM. Actually, it is really the same do and color, just enhanced, and dried straight which I cannot do myself. And in light of the picture I posted earlier, here I am posting a "real" picture of me. I actually took a nice one and sent it to Jack Bauer. But you will just have to do with this one for now.

Friday Fun Fact

I was telling a friend that I hate pictures of me because I never look how I feel.

When I got my MacBook, someone suggested I play around with the PhotoBooth. I had a great time taking pictures of myself because I could make all the faces I wanted and no one was going to complain. I love it. One of the features in PhotoBooth allows you to make all sorts of the distortion like you might see in a hall of mirrors at a carnival. But my favorite is the one where it places the left side on the right. A mirror image.

I snapped a picture this way that was a little off center and distorts my features just enough so that my face appears wider than it is (yeah, I don't actually have a double-wide nose or a double Hapsburg lip). I then ran it through a couple of different filters and voila! A picture of me that I really like, partially because I don't recognize physical self in it. In fact, I like it so much that it is my wall paper. I showed it to my mother when she was out here; she seemed very disturbed by it and just said it was bizarre. Hmmm.

The reason I think I like this picture is the butterfly appeal. Same on both sides. My hair is like my wings. The grittiness of the quality. The soft lighting. The longer I look at it, the more I identify with it.

Bizarre? Yeah. But that's just me.

Good News from Iraq: 29 Jun 2007

From MNF-I, CF find, redistribute al-Qaeda food store.

BAQOUBA, Iraq – Task Force Lightning Soldiers discovered a warehouse in the Khatoon neighborhood of Baqouba, June 23, filled with food seized by al-Qaeda from Government of Iraq food shipments to the city.

The stockpile of food was discovered as Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces cleared Baqouba during Operation Arrowhead Ripper.

“The theft and hording of these essential supplies by al-Qaeda is just another example of how that organization seeks to control the population by depriving it of needed provisions,” said Col. Steve Townsend, commander of 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. “By these and other actions, al-Qaeda has made it clear that it does not act in the best interests of, or have any concern for, the people of Iraq.”

The Soldiers at the site of the discovery redistributed the food to needy citizens in the area.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Cards Continue . . .

More cards going out to Soldiers' Angels Germany today.

Running total: 143

Good News from Iraq: 28 Jun 2007

I hate to keep repeating myself here, but the news is what it is. :)

From MNF-I, Iraqi Army destroys weapons cache near Nasiriyah.

BAGHDAD – Iraqi Special Operations Forces, Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army forces destroyed a large weapons cache during an early morning operation June 26 southeast of Nasiriyah. The cache is linked to a rogue Jaysh Al-Mahdi (JAM) militant group. . . .

After ensuring all civilians were moved to a safe distance, the Iraqi Forces used controlled charges to destroy the cache, minimizing damage to the surrounding areas. The cache included 30 60-millimeter rounds, 2 120-millimeter rounds, 40 155-millimeter rounds, 30 240-millimeter rounds and an anti-aircraft weapon. . . .

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Plea for Puppies

The doggies wrote a card to Jack Bauer this morning. They are so funny. I just had to share with you.

Dear Daddy,

We've been trying to write to you on Wednesdays. But last week we were soooo busy helping the plumber with the bathroom sink, we forgot. Good thing we were there to help, or else he might have not gotten the job done.

Daddy, when you come home can we get a puppy, or two? Pleeeeeezzzze!? We'll take care of it and everything. Puppies are just so special. Auntie BFF got one and we want one too! Pleeezzze, Daddy? Mommy keeps saying no. But she's no fun.

Hurry home Daddy because we need you. Mommy doesn't give us enough
attention and now she's been bad about walking us. :(

Moo and Bear

P.S. Cat says she's running away - teenagers!

My cards are here! My cards are here!

My shipment of cards, 80 of them, all with butterflies on them! I had a set personalized on the front. I suppose most people get their names on the them, but I had "Dear Soldier" put on. I think they will go over well for Soldiers' Angels Germany.

I tried taking a picture with PhotoBooth. It is ridiculous. I just need to find the camera. Here you can see my poor PhotoBooth skills. Sad, huh?

Anywho, this should keep me busy for a bit, maybe a month.

Good News from Iraq: 27 Jun 2007

Iraqis turning over weapons. From MNF-I, Taji’s “Neighborhood Watch” turns over another cache.

CAMP TAJI, Iraq — For a second time this week, a large cache consisting of improvised explosive device-making material and mortar rounds was turned over to Coalition Forces by the “Neighborhood Watch” in Taji, Iraq.

The Taji neighborhood watch contacted Coalition Forces June 25, after the driver of a truck fled the scene when the volunteers stopped a suspicious vehicle moving through the rural village of Abd Allah al Jasim. The vehicle contained 24 mortar rounds, two rockets, spare machine gun barrels, small arms ammunition and other IED-making material.

“This grassroots movement of reconciliation by the volunteers is taking off all around us. The tribes that had once actively or passively supported al-Qaeda in Iraq now want them out,” said Lt. Col. Peter Andrysiak, the deputy commander of the 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

The neighborhood watch is made up of a group of 500 volunteers, from a number of tribes in the area, who want reconciliation with the Coalition Forces and the Iraqi government. The volunteers are currently being vetted for possible future selection for training as Iraqi Police or some other organization within the Iraqi Security Forces.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Adventures in Real Estate . . .

Well, I met with our real estate agent last night to see what needs to be done around the house to sell it when Jack Bauer gets back.

Oh my. It is a long list. Of course, it was nothing (mostly) that I did not already know.
- Clean out gutters
- Scrape paint around basement windowsills and repaint; same with decorative window in attic and back door frame and kitchen window
- Put down gravel around bushes in front of house
- Clean windows
- Replace chewed up siding on garage
- Clean out basement; paint
- Sell all of Jack Bauer's tools (yes, I have permission!)
- Clean out outside drain at bottom of steps to basement
- Paint hallway and stairwell
- Have bathtub reglazed
- Paint chipping paint in bathroom, including tile
- Paint various places throughout the house to touch up cracks in paint
- Paint kitchen
- Fix kitchen drawer front where cheap covering has peeled off
- Clean out upstairs storage area
- Pack, pack, pack
- Organize, organize, organize

I will need to sit down and come up with a plan and execute it. Not "kind of" execute it if I am so moved, but really do it. I don't want this house to sit empty waiting to be sold or for me to be stuck here waiting for the house to sell. And horror of horrors, I certainly don't want the house to sell for less than what we owe! That would f*&^!ing suck!!! (Excuse my language.) But that is a big motivator.

I guess I had better get busy!

And if anyone has any suggestions/hints/ideas on how to do any of these things, please, PLEASE comment or email me.


Good News from Iraq: 26 Jun 2007

From MNF-I, Conference first step toward inter-faith reconciliation in Iraq.

BAGHDAD — A meeting of Iraqi religious leaders from various sects and faiths has opened a door for further progress on reining in factional violence in Iraq, said the top U.S. chaplain in the country.

The Iraqi Inter-Religious Congress, held June 12-13 in Baghdad, brought together 55 representatives of the most influential clerics and religious dignitaries from around the country. In doing so, it potentially set a precedent for continued dialogue on how to reconcile the Iraqi people, Army Chaplain (Col.) Micheal Hoyt, command chaplain for Multinational Force Iraq, said during a June 21 conference call with online journalists.

Hoyt said the gathering comprised the “largest representation of faith groups and geographic dispersion from north, south, east and west in Iraq at a religious conference in 37 years.” As such, “it was a pretty historic event,” he observed. . . .

Monday, June 25, 2007

Cards for Soldiers' Angels Germany

Writing these cards of encouragement has been very therapeutic. Some times I will write several at a time, other times it is just one. With each card, I take a moment to say a prayer for that Soldier and those around him/her. Maybe a little bit of positive energy will be transported on the card to all who come in contact with it.

Today I sent what looks like my 10th batch. I'm still waiting for my order of about 80 cards.

Running total: 130

How well do you sleep?

I got asked that at a party this past weekend by a friend from my old job. You know, I love it when people ask me that because I never give the answer they expect. And it reminds me of how well I am actually doing and how far I have come.

I rarely wake up in the middle of the night (except for the doggies) or have a restless night's sleep. I don't take pills or have a night cap. Just good, all-natural sleep.

I sleep very well. It is an addicting thing.

Good News from Iraq: 25 Jun 2007

From Michael Yon, Arrowhead Ripper: Surrender or Die.

. . . The combat in Baqubah should soon reach a peak. Al Qaeda seems to have been effectively isolated. The initial attack on 19 June achieved enough surprise that al Qaeda was caught off guard and trapped. They have been beaten back mostly into pockets and are surrounded and will be dealt with. Part of this is actually due to the capability of Strykers. We were able to “attack from the march.” In other words, a huge force drove in from places like Baghdad and quickly locked down Baqubah. . . .
The whole piece deserves to be read as it provides great insight into media issues as well, which seems to be standard fare from Yon.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 24 Jun 2007

I'm on a weapons-seizing roll . . .

From MNF-I, IA, CF discover IED factory after receiving tips.

TIKRIT, Iraq – Iraqi Army and Coalition Forces conducted a joint raid, discovering a large factory used to make home-made explosives, improvised explosive devices and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices Saturday, in Mosul, Iraq.

Soldiers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 2nd Iraqi Army, and Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry conducted the raid after receiving a tip on the location of the factory. The factory consisted of three main sites where each of the HME, IED and VBIEDs were manufactured.

“The successful raid and subsequent discovery was due in large part to the cooperation of the Iraqi people,” said Col. Stephen Twitty, commander, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. “They are providing us information because they are obviously tired of the violence and desire a safer environment for their families.”

The site consisted of three separate buildings with one building used to prepare VBIEDs, a second used as an HME/IED factory and the third, a storage area for VBIED and IED-making materials. Each of these buildings was connected by a tunnel that had openings into each part of the structure.

VBIED and IED factories were also found at the second and third sites. IA and CF detained 32 suspects and discovered several vehicles, one being a truck originating from southern Iraq, which was being prepared for use as a VBIED. Also in the buildings was detonation cord, bags of HME, propane tanks and other IED making materials. . . .

Is there a doctor in the house?!?

This morning we had an unscheduled leg-ectomy of a beloved teddy bear, one that I found in the animal bin and couldn't make the trip to Germany.

My poor Zazu. Moo just couldn't resist and amputated Zazu's left leg. Another casualty of war. I told Jack Bauer that Zazu needs to go to WRAMC cuz they take good care of amputees there.

Do you think a one-legged bear would be well received at WRAMC?

Hitting the Wall

Yesterday I read AWTM's post at Spouse Buzz about hitting the wall. I get hitting the wall. Been there, done that, I have the scars to prove it. To get the conversation going, AWTM asked if we'd ever hit the wall and what sort of ladder we used to get over it.

Here's what I wrote:

Oh yeah. Lots of walls. Actually for me it was more like finding myself at the bottom of a river. First, I had to realize that I was at the bottom of a river and I was drowning. Then I had to decide that's not where I wanted to be. Then I had to remember that I knew how to swim and that I was a competitive swimmer for 13 years.

Once I got my head above the water, I had to get out of the water. And that is always tricky because when you've been in the water for such a long time, it is scary to get out. Even though I did not want to be in the water, I knew, KNEW, the water. So I got my hands on the ground, then slowly worked on getting my feet out, then legs and the rest of me. Then seeing where I had just been, I ran as far away from the water as possible. Cursed the water. Swearing never to go back to the water. But when it rained I would find myself washed down by the river's edge. If the down pour was strong and unexpected, I sometimes wound up in the water. My head still above water though. I climb back out. Get away from the water again. Curse it a little less.

Of course, it rains all the time. Sometimes, it is easy to see the down pour coming and I take shelter. Sometimes it sprinkles for days or weeks on end and the journey down to the river is slow and I forget to catch myself before I get to the edge again. Sometimes, I recognize I am there and purposefully dip my toes in the water.

But each trip to the water, I learn something about myself, about the water, and about the journey.

Observing Change

Tomorrow it will have been 5 months since I had LASIK after wearing glasses since 3rd grade. When I am extremely tired, I will catch myself before I try to take my glasses off. At this point it is mostly just the thought of needing to take them off.

Yesterday, I took a close look at an old picture of me. The glasses on the face looking back at me just seemed out of place.

Glasses were such a part of me. And now they are no more. For the better I might add.

That got me thinking about the other changes I have made to myself during this deployment. My concern is whether these philosophical, internal, not-so-obvious changes will stick. Yeah, I know, they'll stick if I make that my intention. Just concerned that there will be major upheaval in my life in the next 6 months and those old habits will creep back in.

Alright! Negative thoughts out, Positive thoughts in!

It's all good. ;)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 23 Jun 2007

It is June. And that means it is wedding season. Some girls dream of having their wedding announcements in the Sunday New York Times Weddings section. Others have different dreams . . .

From MNF-I, ‘Combat Salsa’ in Iraq leads to marriage.

LONDON — An Army couple who first met at salsa dancing classes held at a British Army base in southern Iraq are to marry in Wigan this weekend.

Army Medics Major Alan Taberner, aged 50, and Captain Linda Marshall, aged 51, will marry at a civil ceremony at Haigh Hall, Wigan, two-and-a-half years after first meeting at Shaibah, near Basra, while both were serving at the military base's field hospital.

As a novel means of keeping the troops entertained, keen dancer Alan had started "combat salsa" classes, which became a popular event on camp. Linda was one of the many to enrol. The couple, who began a friendship which later became a relationship, are now set to tie the knot at a special ceremony. . . .

"Hello? BFF is that you?"

Alright. My BFF has apparently been reading here for quite some time, but we never talked about it; I never told her that I was blogging and she never told me that she was looking. Yesterday, after a few passing comments in the last couple of days really confirmed that she was lurking and knew it was me, I fessed up.

But now I am calling her out to POST A COMMENT once in a while. Geez girl! :D

I told her that she could pick whatever name she wanted seeing as I have not identified her as anything other than BFF.

Let's see if we can give her a little lovin' to stop lurking and start commenting!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 22 Jun 2007

Oh, how I love these stories!! From MNF-I, Coalition forces seize multiple weapons caches.

BAGHDAD – Coalition forces seized multiple weapons caches near Tuwaitha Sunday. Soldiers from Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Regiment, who are currently attached to 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment conducted Operation Destroyer Strike based on information gathered from local citizens. . . .

“In that area there are a lot of people frustrated with sectarian violence and al-Qaeda,” said U.S. Army Capt. Troy Thomas, a staff officer with 3-1 Cav. Regt. “They are just fed up with it.” . ..

Items found in the cache included 54 mortar rounds, two artillery rounds, 29 cell phones, 29 nine-volt battery connectors and more than 20 circuit boards, all commonly used in the manufacturing of improvised explosive devices. The cache also contained four rockets, five AK-47 assault rifles, a .50-caliber machine gun and Iraqi Security Forces’ body armor. . .

Friday Fun Fact

It is the little things in life that make it great. Here's one of the little things that makes me smile every morning.

I love the sound my Cuisanart Toaster Oven makes when I switch it off while it is beeping, indicating that it is finished with the toasting cycle. It makes this dying beeping noise. And in order to get it make that noise, I have to turn it to off at just the right moment, otherwise, there is no cute little cartoonish sound.


No greater way to leave for my commute to work than with hot food and a smile on my face.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 21 Jun 2007

From MNF-I, Roadside bombers stopped, explosives seized.

BAGHDAD — Multi-National Division – Baghdad. Soldiers stopped an insurgent team placing an improvised explosive device during clearing operations in the East Rashid security district of the Iraqi capital, June 20.

Soldiers from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment “Warriors” positively identified two individuals placing an initiator at the end of a command wire on an IED and opened fire killing one and wounding another.

Later in the day, “Tomahawks” of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment discovered a 100-pound bag of homemade explosives with wires, and improvised rocket launchers during operations.

So it is Cards on Thursday

MaryAnn of Soldiers' Angels Germany was teasing me earlier about sending her cards on a day other than Monday. I find it very therapeutic to write the cards and I'm sure someone will appreciate it so I will keep writing until MaryAnn tells me there is no longer a need.

Could you imagine such a day?

Running total: 117

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Earlier this week, I got my second pedicure of sandal season. I made my appointment before I read this post by AWTM who "live blogged" her pedicure last week.

Instead of figuring our what that might take for me to live blog the event (besides, I am not nearly as cool as AWTM is and could not pull it off as I would surely have dropped my MacBook into the tub of water), I read more of my "spiritual" reading and attempted to relax. I am super ticklish so relaxing is an absolute must. Yeah, yeah, I got some good "cheese grating" in, but I have pretty much been in sandals since March, and for me, sandal season is much harder on the skin on my feet than any other season. :(

All in all, a great relaxing, mind expanding time . . . ahhhh.

It's all good. ;)

Ah . . . Much Better

Purging. Great for the soul. I think I got the quite a bit of the toxic stuff out yesterday in my post about my anxieties about Jack Bauer having a job when he returns in a few months. Like I mentioned, I saw my therapist again today, and I think I worked out a bunch more.

I suppose we all have some defining moments in our lives. One of those for me was when I was about 10.

My dad was out of a job . . . again. Apparently, money was running out and my mother asked me, her 10-year-old daughter, for $150 from my savings account for grocery money. My world stopped spinning. The air stood still. I was scared and shocked and horrified and embarrassed.

I am cannot imagine what courage it took for my mother to ask, but she clearly needed to feed me and my sister, so she did what she needed to do.

Fast forward 23 years and there I was 4 days post-op from gallbladder surgery saying goodbye to Jack Bauer who was driving off to move to Westville to begin to prepare for this deployment. And I hadn't a clue about what to do with our finances; Bauer had done everything for so long, and although he tried to coach me on what needed to be done, I was not in a frame of mind to deal with it let alone manage it and make it work.

Luckily, I asked my mother (a finance person) for help. She set me up with a budget, and slowly, and steadily, I began to clear away the dust, and the preconceived notions, and dug in. I adopted an attitude that our money is the only thing that we will around to take of us in our old age (we have no plans for children), so I need to take care of it in its childhood, nurture it, make it secure, watch it grow.

I have worked very diligently and with a tremendous amount of effort to get us on the right financial road. We have a ways to go, but we are headed in the right direction.

So when you take our rocky financial situation, my childhood filled with unsteady employment by my father, my profound disposition for anxiety, and the uncertainty of gainful employment for Bauer once he returns, I think it is understandable that I have been a bit on edge about Bauer finding a job long before he gets home.

I must say that I am doing so much better with handling these types of anxieties than I used to even a year or so ago. Thank God for good therapist.

Good News from Iraq: 20 Jun 2007

From MNF-I, U.S., Iraqis team up in Rusafa, find 70 pounds of explosives.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq — Soldiers with the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division and Iraqi Police detained two suspects and uncovered a quantity of explosives June 17.

A jointly-manned checkpoint witnessed a vehicle stop and turn around after seeing Coalition Forces with the Iraqi Police. Soldiers with Troop B, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, based out of Colorado Springs, Colo., joined with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Brigade, 2nd Iraqi National Police Division in a pursuit of the vehicle.

After stopping the vehicle, two individuals exited the vehicles and started running away. Both individuals were caught. After searching the vehicle, more than 70 pounds of explosives were found in the trunk of the car.

The two suspects have been detained for questioning and the explosives were destroyed in a controlled detonation by an explosive ordnance team in a secure area.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Back to the Routine

I finally took the doggies for a walk. The first in weeks. Poor poochies. But that also means that it had been several weeks since I had been for a walk. Not so good for me either. We kept it short, 25 minutes. And it was very nice. Lovely day here in the middle. Upper 80s and not too humid. Not a cloud in the sky.

Gotta run to Chair Pilates class!

Is it nap time yet?

I have been really tired lately. I am sure some of it is the sudden onset of midwest summer. But I think a lot of it is due to Jack Bauer's homecoming. In 3 months, he should be home.

Then what?

We are going somewhere to do something, most likely with the Army, full-time, probably AGR. And we should know for certain around 2-4 weeks ahead of time. How's that for certainty? I'll be sending my husband off again a couple weeks after he gets home to "somewhere", where I will follow as soon as I can. Nice. Welcome to the "real" Army life! I guess.

But right now, the whole job situation is all vague and nebulous. And sometimes, it creeps in under my fingernails and infects me. The anxiety percolates for a couple of days, and convinces me that all is hopeless: "Jack Bauer will never find a job! You will be sent to jail for failure to pay your debts!"

Of course, we don't jail dead-beat debtors, but I think you get the picture. My anxiety is the result of too much abstract thinking (all that whatifland stuff that I try so desperately to stay away from). (Now if only I could harness that energy into abstract painting . . . hmmm. There's an idea!)

One thing is for certain: Jack Bauer will have a job. A good paying, full-time Army job.

And BTW, Jack Bauer and I talk about this ALL the time. This is what the vast majority of our conversations have been about lately. I mean really, he is in a combat zone, looking for a job, to ease MY mind. "A combat zone," I have to remind myself of that, because the notion of looking for a job from 6000+ miles away were there are many other things, much more important things, to worry about, is COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS!!! What kind of wife am I?????

Oh, and I see my therapist tomorrow. Phew!

Monday, June 18, 2007

More on Cards . . .

Forgive the crappy photos. I used Photo Booth cause I am just too darn lazy to figure out where the digital camera is and what needs to be done so I can get the pix off of the camera and on to my computer.

First, here is a lovely card. A pretty blue butterfly on a blue background. Ahhhhhhh.

Second, someone thought that lovely card deserved to be in this . . . envelope. I am restraining myself here. It looks like this someone barfed butterflies on a blue piece of paper.


I sent one of these to MaryAnn at Soldiers' Angels Germany already and I regret it. So I went out and bought new envelopes for the remaining 11 cards. I just cannot stand the idea of some wounded Soldier looking at that envelope. I think it would cause mental distress. What you cannot really see in the photo is that the background is also butterflies. (I am getting sick here looking at it!)

And here we have the new envelope with lavender butterfly stamp. I couldn't figure out why the stamps weren't coming out right. Then I realized I had bought textured envelopes. Doh!

Good News from Iraq: 18 Jun 2007

When I hear about these finds, I am so relieved and proud of our men.

BAGHDAD — Iraqi Army Troops and Multi-National Division–Baghdad Soldiers, uncovered a large cache of explosives and bomb-making materials in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Yarmouk Wednesday.

Iraqi troops from 2nd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division initially discovered a weapons cache while on patrol in the Yarmouk neighborhood. The cache contained 113 land mines, 63 grenades, three rockets, three mortars, two gas masks, five washing machine timers, more than 2000 rounds of AK-47 ammunition and seven boxes of
various electronics and other assorted explosives.

It is the largest weapons cache discovery by either Iraqi or Coalition forces to date in the Yarmouk area. The Iraqi troops quickly notified their liaison officer at Joint Security Station Torch, where Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition forces live and work

“This is just more proof to us that having the JSS and being out in the community is what’s allowing us to work so effectively with the Iraqi Army,” said U.S. Army Major Jim MacGregor, executive officer of 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment. . . .

Butterfly Cards

It's Monday morning, so I must be getting ready to mail out cards to Solderis'Angels Germany. I wrote most of the cards while I was waiting to have my car's oil changed on Friday. Here goes another package. This time I started marking all the envelopes with a lavender butterfly stamp. (I'll see if I can get a photo up later today.)

Hopefully, I will be getting in the next few days the shipment of cards I ordered last week. I wouldn't want to run out of cards!

Running total: 104

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Today's Reading List: 16 & 17 Jun 2007

* recommended reading

NY Times, In Iraq, Gates Says Progress Toward Peace Is Lagging.

The Fourth Rail,
1920 Revolution Brigades turns on al Qaeda in Diyala.

The Fourth Rail,
Minarets of Samarra's al-Askaria mosque destroyed; al Qaeda prime suspect.

The Fourth Rail,
Samarra Mosque bombing suspects identified; reports of violence.

The Fourth Rail,
Iraq Report: The Day After Samarra.

The Fourth Rail,
Iraq Report: Sadr's Small Samarra Protest.

* The Fourth Rail,
Securing Eastern Anbar Province.

The Fourth Rail,
Iraq Report: "Offensive Operations" now underway.

NY Times,
G.I.’s in Iraq Open Big Offensive Against Al Qaeda.

Good News from Iraq: 17 Jun 2007

From MNF-I, Abu Nuwas Street Revitalization Center opens.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY — The rebuilding of the famous market in eastern Baghdad is making progress with the opening of the Abu Nuwas Revitalization Center June 9.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, paid a visit to the market and discussed issues with local owners, June 9, 2007. Approximately 45 business owners attended the opening of the Abu Nuwas Revitalization Center in the Rusafa District of eastern Baghdad to discuss economic and security issues of the area. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Sean Ryan.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, paid a visit to the market and discussed issues with local owners, June 9, 2007. Approximately 45 business owners attended the opening of the Abu Nuwas Revitalization Center in the Rusafa District of eastern Baghdad to discuss economic and security issues of the area. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Sean Ryan.

The market is well known for serving up mazgouf fish, meaning river fish, a Baghdad delicacy cooked over wood fires while you wait and served with fresh vegetables. The wait won’t be too much longer as the information center is one of the first steps in the historic street’s revival.

The information center was opened in conjunction with local leaders from the Rusafa District along with the District Advisory Council chairman from Abu Nuwas.

This part of the city, which once provided a variety of shops, restaurants, and hotels, was world-renowned and will soon open again. Approximately 45 business owners attended the opening to discuss economic and security issues.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

I am send Jack Bauer 5 pounds of coffee. He suggested I send him 4 pounds and that might get him through the rest of the deployment, but I don't want him to run out. So I bought a big 5-pound bag of Kaldi's Highlander Grogg. It just about takes up all the space in the smaller, squarer flat-rate box.

Other contents of the box???

National Geographic, June 2007 issue. This is the cover shot. Pretty cool (literally), huh?

Big Thaw @ National Geographic Magazine

Bali's Best Coffee Candy, in Espresso, Coffee, and Latte flavors.

That's it cuz that's all that fits in the box!!

Race for the Cure

This morning is the Race for the Cure here in Middleville. I'm not there racing. I don't like crowds. (Remind me to tell you about my experience with crowds in Italy.) So if I can avoid a crowd, I will.

BUT, I am still doing my part.

I am officially "Sleeping in for the Cure". Yep, that is an option. I paid $10 more, which I would have to pay for parking, and I get a special pillowcase showing my sleeping in support!

I am Sleeping In in memory of my aunt who lost her battle with breast cancer 25 years after her initial diagnosis, and in honor of my friend/coworker who was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in September and who is coming back to work on Monday after surgery.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Test Drivin'

When Jack Bauer comes back in ~3 months, we need to get another vehicle. And he said that I get to drive the new car! How's that for cool? I am thinking that is a good idea. A little thank you for having been without him for the last (what will be) 21 months.

After I got the oil changed, emergency brake tightened, and new windshield wipers on my sweet Toyota ride today, I drove across the parking lot to Sales and took the 2007 RAV4 for a test drive.

It meets all of my criteria for a car. First, it is a car, and not a truck based vehicle. Second, it is big enough to take me and Jack Bauer and Moo and Bear and Cat (in her carrier) and some luggage, or alternately, me, Jack, parents, and luggage. (My current vehicle is a 2-door coupe and not the easiest thing to get the doggies in and out of let alone aging parents.) Third, it has sufficient enough storage capacity to make trips to Lowe's, etc. Fourth, has a sufficient enough engine to get me on the freeway here in Middleville where the fast and slow lanes are reversed from the rest of the country. (Horrible drivers here. Worst by far I've seen compared to LA, Portland, OR, and Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area.)

I am also thinking of test driving the Honda CRV. Does anyone have either of these vehicles or have experience with them? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts and opinions. (I don't promise to take your advice.)

Good News from Iraq: 15 Jun 2007

From MNF-I, West Baghdad market thrives during troop surge.

BAGHDAD — Adjusted security measures have resulted in a resurgence of economic growth in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Hateen. A local market has seen a resurgence of activity as Multi-National Division –Baghdad soldiers and Iraqi Security Forces give way to shopkeepers, and fear gives way to progress.
U.S. Army Capt. Brian McCall (left) questions a local merchant in the Hateen Market of western Baghdad. McCall, the commander of Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, is joined by Maj. Raheem Kinyab, commander of 4th Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Regiment, 6th Iraqi Army Division. The two commanders conducted a combined patrol of the Hateen Market in order to assess commerce and security. U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Neil Rice.
U.S. Army Capt. Brian McCall (left) questions a local merchant in the Hateen Market of western Baghdad. McCall, the commander of Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, is joined by Maj. Raheem Kinyab, commander of 4th Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Regiment, 6th Iraqi Army Division. The two commanders conducted a combined patrol of the Hateen Market in order to assess commerce and security. U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Neil Rice.

Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, have teamed up with members of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army to find a way to stimulate business in the Hateen Market while still maintaining security.

As a result, economic activity in the market has increased, fostering better relations between local merchants and the Iraqi Army.

The market, located in the southeastern Mansour neighborhood of Hateen, is the economic center of the area and its activity is directly tied to the economic prosperity of the residents.

Friday Fun Fact

I love, love, love fiestaware. I love the colors. I love the design. I love the shapes. I love their practicality.

The newest color being issued is Evergreen which looks like Juniper, which was in limited release several years ago and which I collect. Hmmm. I assume that there will be a noticeable difference, otherwise, there will be problems with the collectability of Juniper. (Oh, the problems I have!!! LOL!)

But I have a ton of it. And we are looking at a probable move in 3-4 months. What's a girl to do? Invest in packing materials! What else!

My, how times have changed

I subscribe to the New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Day email. Yeah, I am a writing geek.

Today's word: "IED".

Very sobering to have that word in my inbox knowing that thousands of people got the same email. I'm sure that most will never have much more connection to an IED than reading or hearing it discussed. All safely removed from the reality that IED is.

But IED hunting is my husband's mission. And has forever altered our lives.

There it sits in my inbox. Just another word for another day.

I wonder what words have similar impact on others . . .

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 14 Jun 2007

From MNF-I, Iraqi Security Forces foil suicide car bomb attack.

BAGHDAD — Iraqi Security Forces prevented a suicide car bomb attack on a Coalition forces combat outpost in Khan Bani Sa’ad, located in the Diyala province, Tuesday.
U.S. Army Spc. Marquis Dawkins, an infantryman assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, surveys more than 120 five-gallon cans of nitric acid, a component used to make bombs, discovered at a bomb-making “factory” in Baghdad’s East Rashid District Monday.  Every cache found by Iraqi troops and Coalition forces helps protect the population from future attacks. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ben Washburn, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs.
U.S. Army Spc. Marquis Dawkins, an infantryman assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, surveys more than 120 five-gallon cans of nitric acid, a component used to make bombs, discovered at a bomb-making “factory” in Baghdad’s East Rashid District Monday. Every cache found by Iraqi troops and Coalition forces helps protect the population from future attacks. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ben Washburn, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs.

Iraqi Army Soldiers received a tip and description of a potential suicide vehicle bomb and engaged the vehicle with small-arms fire as it approached the outpost. The vehicle detonated prematurely, before it could reach the outer perimeter. . . .

“The truly amazing thing is that the Iraqi Soldiers, who are mostly Shia, got the tip from local Sunnis, who had seen a suspicious vehicle driven by masked men traveling towards the outpost,” said Lt. Col. Marshall Dougherty, commander, 2nd squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. . . .

Life has been CRAZY, CRAZY, CRAZY!

Life has been moving pretty fast lately. I haven't had much of a chance to catch my breath let alone blog much. This morning after I scurred around the house to pick up for the cleaning people, I sat down to write them a note. The fact that I was writing them a note is unusual. I rarely leave them notes, and when I do, it usually says something like "parents are coming. pls vacuum upstairs." Today's note was 2 pages long. When I got done I realized it pretty well summed up my last 2 weeks.

Here's the recap:

Pinky - [no, not her real name, which is Kitty. Pinky is just her nickname, her real nickname. She is about 45 years old. She doesn't look like a Kitty or a Pinky.]

1. Dogs - Obviously, the dogs are inside. You can put them outside while you are here. Moo has the Elizabethan collar on because she has some hot spots [that cost $100+ at the vet] and I want her to have "adult supervision" while outside. Please let them back in before you leave.

2. Bathroom Sink - Do NOT use the bathroom sink. The drain pipe is NOT connected to anything. The roll of paper towels perched under the faucet is there to remind me to NOT to use it. What can I say - I'm forgetful. Please feel free to clean the sink but leave the roll of towels in the sink when done.

3. Floors - The floors need a little extra attention. The steroid shot Moo got for the hot spots seems to have caused incontinence. So she's had some "leaking" on the floor. The last few days has only done much of it on the bed and not the floor. Thus, the new sheets and mattress pad on the bed.

[turn page over]

Holy moly this is a long note.

4. Pet Sitting - Are you available to come check on Cat over the 4th of July holiday? I will be out of town and the doggies will be boarded but I would like for someone to come check on Cat. Like July 5, 6, & 7. Let me know if you are available. Here are my numbers. Please call me.


P.S. I didn't have the correct change. Sorry.

P.P.S. Have you seen my Swiffer mop? It seems to have gone missing and I was wondering if you had it. [hard to clean the floors of an incontinent dog without the proper tools, eh?]

So on top of all this, last Friday after a lovely trip to the Botanical Gardens gift ship where I bought my cards to send to Soldiers' Angels Germany (just wanted to plug them again here!), a peeble/rock/cliff hit my windshield and chipped it. No problem. I called USAA and made arrangements for a repair (at no cost to me I might add). Then today on my way to work, already late due to said cleaning and note writing, I got hit with another peeble/rock/cliff and got ANOTHER chip in my windshield. I don't know if the new heat just makes the windshield more susceptible to chipping, but anyway, a new day, a new chip. LUCKILY, and there is a luckily here believe it or not, the repair guy was coming THIS morning! He got both of them repaired in about 10 minutes.

Lesson learned: when you park your car in the summer, crack your windows to prevent cracks in your windshield. That's what the windshield repair guy said.

Oh yeah. I also forgot my snacks & water today. I am a grazer, but today I will have to eat a big lunch to tide me over until I can get home. Hopefully, I won't be hitting the vending machine at 3:00 PM. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 13 Jun 2007

From MNF-I, Soldiers seize, destroy bomb factory.

BAGHDAD — Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers seized a bomb-making factory along with a large weapons cache while on patrol in eastern Rashid District here Monday. . . .

“This is tremendous work by our Soldiers to take more than 300 [improvised explosive devices] off the streets,” said U.S. Army Col. Ricky D. Gibbs, commander of 4th IBCT, 1st Division.

The find consisted of one vehicle-borne improvised explosive device; 54 82mm mortars; 27 155mm artillery shells; a 500-pound bomb; 64 anti-tank mines; two 200-pound bombs; three 100-pound bombs; 30 130mm projectiles; 200 artillery boosters; 300 five-gallon cans full of nitric acid; 15 bags of anti-personnel mines consisting of 100
mines per bag and enough explosives-making material to create more than 300
IEDs. . . .

A (Baker's) Dozen Cards

I knew there had to be something good about sending 13 cards at a time. I'm just going to think about it as a baker's dozen. Ooooh! Cooookiiiieeesss! *drool*

So I have been feverish in my card writing campaign for Soldiers' Angels Germany. I bought myself a cute little tote to carry my cards with me. And yesterday I had a few minutes before an appointment, I used that time to write 3 cards. I guess I could have looked at a magazine or something in the waiting area, but I stayed in my nicely AC'd car with my NPR and wrote 3 cards of encouragement to Soldiers.

Running total: 91.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 12 Jun 2007

From MNF-I, Iraqi troops lead security searches in Baghdad neighborhood.

BAGHDAD — Iraqi Army troops and Coalition Soldiers conducted a joint security operation in the Hor Al Bosh neighborhood of Baghdad Wednesday.

Iraqi Army Soldiers with the 3rd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized) teamed with Soldiers from the 2nd “Stallion” Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment to perform a large Iraqi-led combined cordon and search operation, in an effort to clear the streets of extremists.

Coalition Soldiers observed the Iraqi troops as they conducted the searches. The Iraqi troops went from house to house checking for weapons caches and meeting with the people of each neighborhood. The troops handed out tip cards to locals for information on any extremists who may be operating in the area.

Coalition Soldiers only assisted the Iraqi troops when needed. . . .

Monday, June 11, 2007

Today's Reading List: 11 Jun 2007

* recommended reading

NPR, Political Struggle for Kirkuk Intensifies.

* NPR, Portrait of a Suicide Bomber. This was a very different piece of reporting. Frightening. I recommend it only as a matter of a different perspective, one that I don't hear very often.
Sunni insurgents remain willing and able to blow themselves up in crowded public places. The story of a 29-year-old man with a degree in accounting shows a suicide bomber in the making.

The Fourth Rail, Iraq Report: al Qaeda strikes the security forces.

PRI's The World,
New US strategy in Iraq. #1
[Interview] with John Burns, Baghdad bureau chief for the New York Times, about a new US strategy for fighting the insurgency in Iraq. U-S commanders are apparently arming and supporting some of Iraq's sunni insurgents to fight Al Qaeda militants.
PRI's The World, New US strategy in Iraq. #2 COL Nagl discusses counterinsurgency.
US military commanders are apparently using a new strategy in Iraq. They are trying to get Sunni insurgents to turn on former Al-Qaeda allies. Arming former enemies isn't a new strategy.
NBC Nightly News, Enemies become allies in Iraq.

*WSJ's Opinion Journal,
1968 Redux: Echoes of Vietnam in Iraq--especially from the press.
Though there are valid criticisms to be made of how our military leadership conducted the [Vietnam] war for the first three years--blunders that were worsened by disingenuous or misleading briefings at headquarters in Saigon--there is no doubt that the military finally adopted effective counterinsurgency tactics and was turning the tide on the battlefield. By then however, the early mistakes and distortions of reality by both U.S. politicians and military commanders had so undermined their credibility with the press--a press that was only too willing to go with the flow of liberal sentiment here at home--as to make it all but impossible for the administration to secure funding for the war. Sound familiar?

Magic Card Monday

OK. No magic cards, but cards to Soldiers nonetheless. Maybe they contain a little healing magic. Who knows.

Anywho, I am shipping out today another 13 cards of encouragement to Soldiers' Angels Germany.

Running total: 78.

Good News from Iraq: 11 Jun 2007

I am a visual person. A map of the directions to a new location is always much more helpful than step by step textual directions. So when I came upon these maps of Iraq today, I learned a lot and have a better understanding of the "big picture".

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Today's Reading List: 10 Jun 2007

* recommended reading

* WaPo, Military Envisions Longer Stay in Iraq: Officers Anticipate Small 'Post-Occupation' Force.

Such a long-term presence would have four major components. The centerpiece would be a reinforced mechanized infantry division of around 20,000 soldiers assigned to guarantee the security of the Iraqi government and to assist Iraqi forces or their U.S. advisers if they get into fights they can't handle.

Second, a training and advisory force of close to 10,000 troops would work with Iraqi military and police units. "I think it would be very helpful to have a force here for a period of time to continue to help the Iraqis train and continue to build their capabilities," Odierno said.

In addition, officials envision a small but significant Special Operations unit focused on fighting the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq. "I think you'll retain a very robust counterterror capability in this country for a long, long time," a Pentagon official in Iraq said.

Finally, the headquarters and logistical elements to command and supply such a force would total more than 10,000 troops, plus some civilian contractors.

Animals for Soldiers

One day a couple of weeks ago, I was bopping around the Soldiers' Angels Germany blog and saw that they could use some stuffed animals. Lo and behold, I have a bunch of stuffed animals that have been sitting in a large storage bin for years.

I used to collect Boyd's Bears, but have not done so several years now. I was thinking of shipping them to Jack Bauer's sister's kids, but I can just picture the squabbling so I am sending them to MaryAnn instead!

Here is a pic of the menagerie. I took it with my MacBook. So cute! I just love the doggie lying on his side in front. So doggie like!

33 bears, cows, cats, doggies, bunnies, and who knows what else. They all fill up a small U-Haul box.

Good News from Iraq: 10 Jun 2007

From MNF-I, New police training center promotes law, order.

Iraqi Police opened the Al Anbar Police Training Center in Al-Habbaniyah Monday.

The center is tasked with taking citizen recruits and transforming them into Iraqi Police. . . .

The new training center has the capacity to train 750 recruits through 12 courses during a 10-week training session. Some of the courses include democratic policing, the basics of crime and investigation and confronting terrorists, said Steve Ryan, an international police trainer with the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team.

The center also trains recruits in the use of firearms and defense tactics from a civilian police perspective, he said.

Trainees are also taught escalation of force from giving verbal commands to using deadly force to neutralize a threat. . . .

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 9 Jun 2007

From MNF-I, New courthouse complex takes shape. (The recovering lawyer in me is rearing her head.)

An artist’s rendering of the new Rusafa Courthouse complex that will be a 5,000-square-meter, two-story building. About 120 Iraqis are helping to build it.
An artist’s rendering of the new Rusafa Courthouse complex that will be a 5,000-square-meter, two-story building. About 120 Iraqis are helping to build it.
BAGHDAD — A new regional courthouse is taking shape to help Baghdad enforce the rule of law.

Construction on Rusafa Courthouse got under way in November and is currently 25 percent complete. About 120 Iraqis are on the crew helping build the facility that is scheduled to open in December. The 5000-square-meter, two-story structure will serve Rusafa District and neighboring areas east of the Tigris River, benefiting more than 1 million residents. A Witness Protection Facility is also part of the complex that will house up to 200 people testifying for the prosecution.

“We’re building the Rusafa Regional Courthouse for the Ministry of Interior,” said Navy Lt. Robert Leines, who is assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “It’s a key institution in Iraq’s quest for law and order."

Happiness and Success

"Happiness and success are inner processes that we bring to life's undertakings, rather than something we get from 'out there.'" - Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, Everyday Wisdom for Success.

I've also gotten into a book called, "Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality." It is spirituality book by Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello. I wouldn't have expected this kind of writing from a priest, but then what do I know about priests? Uh, not much. From the back cover:

The heart of Anthony de Mello's bestselling spiritual message is awareness. Mixing Christian spirituality, Buddhist parables, Hindu breathing exercises, and psychological insight, de Mello's words of hope come together in Awareness in a grand synthesis.

In short chapters for reading in quiet moments at home or at the office, ha cajoles and challenges: We must leave this go-go-go world of illusion and become aware. And this only happens, he insists, by becomign alive to the needs and potential of others, whether at home or in the workplace.

Here, then, is a masterful book of the spirit, challenging us to wake up in every aspect of our lives.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Today's Reading List: 8 Jun 2007

* recommended reading

NPR, Diane Rehm Show, Friday News Round-Up, Hour 2. Didn't catch all of it, but the part I heard about them (the news reporters) talking about Iraq made me ill. MSM still making me sick.

The Fourth Rail, Iraq Report: The Turkish Invasion that wasn't.

* The Fourth Rail,
Targeting the Iranian "Secret Cells".

Weekly Standard, Too Soon to Tell: Judgment on the progress or failure of the Baghdad Security Plan shouldn't be passed during its opening phase.

Chair Pilates

I started a new Pilates equipment class this past week. It involves using the "chair". And for having a name that seems to imply resting or reclining, it kicked my butt, well, it kicked my arms mostly. A big challenge. And that's just what I need. In fact I was doing what this person in the picture was doing and I got up too high and the pedals pushed me up and almost over the chair. Luckily, I caught myself and landed on my knees. Anyway, I thought I would introduce you to this new thing I got going on.

Pilates Method Exercise Machines - Pilates Chair STOTT PILATES Split Pedal Stability Chair with Handles

Good News from Iraq: 8 Jun 2007

From MNF-I, Iraqi forces take lead in operations.

In Baghdad’s Adhamiyah District, Iraqi leaders were trained by Coalition forces to take charge of the operations and patrols at the Sulikh Joint Security Station.

“We’re trying to put [the Iraqis] at the forefront as far as planning our joint patrols,” said U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Jesse Bowman, a platoon leader from Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment.

Coalition forces observed Iraqi Army Soldiers conducting joint patrols to assess the Iraqi forces’ ability to operate independently in the Adhamiyah District.

“I think [the Iraqi forces] can pull it off,” said U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Phong Tran, of 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment. “If it works at the lowest level, that gives me hope that it can work on a larger scale.”

Friday Fun Fact

Jack Bauer is a wonderful husband. And for my birthday he got me this lovely necklace. So if you see someone wearing this necklace, it could be me.

And by the way, it is Tiffany. What can I say? I am spoiled!

Cards of Encouragement

I sent another envelope of cards of encouragement (shipment #5) to Soldiers' Angels Germany. You got it. I sent 13. That's about all I can fit in the envelope.

Running Total: 65

I need to get some more cards!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Today's Reading List: 7 Jun 2007

* recommending reading/viewing

Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, the commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, says since the increase of troops in Iraq nearly four months ago, U.S. forces have gotten control of one-third of Baghdad. He says that attacks by Shiite extremists are on the rise, in part due to some influence they have on Iraqi security forces. By September he hopes to have a majority of the city under control., Counterinsurgency Expert's Iraq Advice.
Recruit more Iraqi Soldiers and increase their divisions from 11 to 20. Dr. David Kilcullen [21 years in the Australian army was a special advisor for irregular warfare during the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review, and remains a reserve lieutenant colonel in the Australian army], an authority on counterinsurgency, was appointed to advise the MNF-Iraq commander, Gen. David Petraeus. Dr. Kilcullen visited Soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade out of Fort Drum, N.Y., to take stock of the "Commando" brigade's progress June 2 and 3.
The Fourth Rail, Featured Report from Iraq: COIN, Sheikhs and Eatin’ Goat.
In today’s COIN environment, what was accomplished with the meeting was as critical as any kinetic movement. The return of Sheikh Khamis signifies not only the improvement made in the security of the region, but more importantly, the government leaders in Ramadi and Baghdad now have a recognized spokesman for the region.
Iraq Slogger, US Troops, Former Enemy Launch Joint Patrols: One-Time Foes Team Up in Baghdad's al Qaeda-Infested Amariyah Neighborhood. (h/t TFR)
Baghdad – U.S. forces have begun conducting joint patrols with Sunni resistance fighters in the Sunni enclave of Amiriyah where a group of local leaders have banded together to fight al-Qaeda, U.S. Army officials said Tuesday.
DefenseLink, Pace Meets with Families, Extended Soldiers.
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii, June 6, 2007 – Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met yesterday with some of the first soldiers and family members to be affected by the Army’s new 15-month deployments to Iraq. . . .

When troops come home, he said, they get awards and family members pretend they had nothing to do with it. “The fact of the matter is, you earned that award as much as your spouse,” he told the family members. “You serve the country as well as anyone who’s ever worn a uniform."

Pace urged the audience to ask him questions without fear of hurting his feelings or embarrassing him. He offered his signature coin to the first person to ask a question, and an aviator’s wife [our blogging gal Homefront 6] asked about incentive pay for aviators. The chairman said he would look into it and that he believed incentive pay should be the same throughout the services. . . .
NPR, 'War Czar': Iraq Surge Has Mixed Results.
Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said at his confirmation hearing that he doubts the Iraqis' capacity to make the necessary political moves to quickly calm violence and govern themselves effectively. Members of the Armed Services Committee expressed support for Lute, but several — including Republicans — expressed skepticism about the progress of the war.
* NBC Nightly News,
Jihadists pose as Americans online. Video. SPC Lee Tucker's computer was stolen and his identify was being used to promote the anti-war agenda against the "weak-minded Americans". Maybe the MSM will see that they too are part of the anti-war propaganda machine based on their choice of reporting. Any chance of that? Hmmm.

Good News from Iraq: 7 Jun 2007

From MNF-I, Shoraw village committed to higher quality of life.

KIRKUK — As the desert sun dries up the sparsely vegetated, dirt fields in northern Kirkuk, the residents of Shoraw village welcome a new source of revitalizing water. Coalition Forces, Kirkuk Provincial Council members, and Shoraw village leaders celebrated the ribbon cutting of a new water project opening Thursday in Shoraw village.

The Shoraw water project provides clean water to approximately 15,000 people of Shoraw and neighboring villages. Not only does it promote the local government’s efforts toward improving the community quality of life, it symbolizes the strength and perseverance of the people in Kirkuk.

“The opening of the water project is the central nerve for everything in Shoraw, meaning that life comes back for this area,” said Sheik Habib of Shoraw. “This is the largest project done in this area. Water comes from both sides (Shoraw village and Kirkuk). They are sharing the resources.”

. . .

Letter from the Doggies

Here's yet another letter from the doggies to their daddy. They like to write a lot. They are very silly pups. Background: Moo has a couple of HUGE hot spots on her tushy that developed while I was on my mini-vacation in Chicago, and thus, she has to wear an Elizabethan collar until they've healed somewhat.

Dear Daddy,

We love you. Will you come home soon so Moo can take off this silly collar thingy? It is plastic and big and makes noise when she bumps into things. Also, mommy isn't letting us run around the yard yet. Moo got to stop taking the "anti-inflammatory" (whatever that is) pill today. She says her shoulder doesn't hurt any more. And to make matters worse, mommy syas that we need to loose some weight (like she's one to talk!) and the super yummy treats have been cut way back. Daddy, we need you to come home so that we can be treated like real doggies again! =)

Moo & Bear
& fine . . . the cat too.

P.S. This picture [on the front of the card of a bull dog with a kitten] is how we doggies want to be with the kitty. We don't understand why she's so difficult. Humphf! - M & B

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Today's Reading List: 6 Jun 2007

* recommended reading

* The Fourth Rail, The Baghdad Order of Battle and the New York Times. A look at the progress of the surge in Baghdad. Putting it in context.

The Fourth Rail, Iraq Report: Targeting the tribes; Reconciliation and Raids. A lot of bad guys were killed or captured.

The Fourth Rail, Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle: June 2007 Update. On May 30, 2007, the Kurdish Regional Government went to Provincial Iraqi Control. That makes 7 of 18 provinces turned over. (Muthanna, Najaf, DhiQar and Maysan in south; Dohuk, Arbil and Sulmaniyah in the North.)

* The Weekly Standard, Misunderstanding the Surge.
There will be many difficult months to come, as our enemies attempt not only to make the strategy fail, but to convince Americans and Iraqis that it will fail. There is no guarantee that any military strategy will succeed, of course, which is why commanders should evaluate the progress of their strategy. But our new military commanders have understood the problems mentioned in the Times article for months, and they are actively working to solve them. The New York Times wrongly judges the current commanders by their predecessors' expectations. And it wrongly presents their efforts to solve legacy problems as evidence that the current effort has failed. It may be emotionally easier for some simply to convince themselves that the U.S. has already failed in Iraq. But success remains possible if we have the will to try to achieve it.
NY Times, Commanders Say Push in Baghdad Is Short of Goal. Since when is a "one-page assessment, which was provided to The New York Times and summarized reports from brigade and battalion commanders in Baghdad" sufficient to provide any analysis of what is going on in the terribly complex situation that is Iraq? Just asking. The next sentence: "The assessment offers the first comprehensive look at the progress of the effort to stabilize Baghdad with the heavy influx of additional troops." One-page = comprehensive?

* Opinion Journal (WSJ), Realists on Iraq: Democratic presidential candidates should listen to the "experts" they so often cite.

Consider Brent Scowcroft, dean of the Realist School, who openly opposed the war from the outset and was a lead skeptic of the president's democracy-building agenda. In a recent Financial Times interview, he succinctly summed up the implication of withdrawal: "The costs of staying are visible; the costs of getting out are almost never discussed. If we get out before Iraq is stable, the entire Middle East region might start to resemble Iraq today. Getting out is not a solution." . . .
If the Realists, neighboring Arab regimes, our intelligence community and some of the most knowledgeable reporters all say such a course could be disastrous, on what basis are the withdrawal advocates taking their position?

The American people are understandably frustrated with Iraq. But this does not mean they will be satisfied with politicians who support a path that could make matters much worse.

Financial Times, Scowcroft warns against Iraq pullout. In addition to the above . . .
In the meantime, the US should stay, but avoid becoming involved in Iraq’s internal conflict. “In creating a democracy we created a revolution; a social and religious revolution,” said General Scowcroft.

Yet, “in Iraq there is less than a quarter of the proportionate manpower (we used) to occupy Bosnia or Kosovo. (We should) gradually withdraw from inter-sectarian warfare. Shia versus Sunni is not a problem we can solve. The problem is it’s a zero sum game among the groups.”

Instead, he said, “we can train the army, back up the army. It’s a pretty cruel strategy, (but) I don’t think we can solve the civil war.”
National Review Online, Honesty About Iraq: How are we doing?
. . . Somehow “thousands have been killed” is never qualified as those mostly butchered and blown up by insurgents — since the loose use of the passive voice lends a general sense that somehow Americans are directly involved in, or responsible for, the killing.

Our soldiers are fighting brilliantly, and history will record they are defeating the enemy while suffering historically low casualties. But if the sacrifice of American youth is not tied — daily, hourly — to larger strategic and humanitarian goals by eloquent statesmen who believe in the mission, then cynicism follows and, with it, despair. . . .

NY Times, Delta Company on Patrol. "Delta Company" in Khadamiya, Baghdad. The lead-in: "In interviews with more than a dozen soldiers, most said they were disillusioned by the situation in Iraq." Slideshow with captions like these:
He and many of his fellow soldiers have come to believe that the Iraq war is a futile civil war.
They have come under increasing attack by roadside bombs placed near Iraqi army and police checkpoints.
Two nights earlier, they were ambushed with an improvised explosive device and one soldier was wounded.
He believes that many Iraqi Army soldiers are actually insurgents.

To Sergeant Kevin O’Flarity, left, a watershed moment was when he learned that in a fight between his unit and insurgents, among the dead were at least two Iraqi Army soldiers that American forces had helped train and arm.

Griffin understands the criticism of the Iraqi forces, but believes that the war effort must be given more time.

Gosh, I wonder why Americans feel so depressed about Iraq?