Those of you who read my blog regularly know that my attitude on the war in Iraq is one of “no matter how we got here, we have to deal with the current situation”.
I have actually never explicitly stated my views on the war and it’s origins, although I have made clear that anyone that belittles Sadaam’s WMD programs, or his support of terrorism (not 9/11) just wasn’t paying attention for two and a half decades.
The first and second intifada’s in Israel were largely financed by Sadaam. He cut $10-25,000 checks to the families of suicide bombers. This was well known. That may not seem like a lot to you, but even in Israel, an annual income of $25K is fairly significant. In the territories, it is a small fortune.
In addition, every intelligence agency in the world, from the Russians to the British, Chinese, etc. all believed there was an active weapons program.
So, while I don’t state my opinion on the war, I do believe the conversation is usually about the wrong things.
For that, I blame, largely, the American press.
Along those lines: One of my new readers, and a valued regular here in Blogland, is just back from serving in Iraq.
I asked him to write a piece for all of us. While I have spent quite a bit of time in what is known as the Levant, basically, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, I, like most Americans, have not been to Iraq.
chester4440 has. This is his piece, with no input from me. Whatever you think of the war, those who fight have my eternal respect and admiration, as they should yours. Please thank him for his service, and visit his blog.
Chester modestly titled his piece:
A grunt’s eye view
I was stationed at Al-Taquaddum Air Base in Al-Anbar province. It is located near the town of Habbineah, between Ramadi and Fallujah. My company was a convoy escort company that provided armed escorts to logistics convoys of military and civilian contractor vehicles. These are my observations of my own small portion of the situation in the war in Iraq. These words are my own.
We were combating an enemy that I saw once in a year. And that was a group of five that the Marines were detaining after finding six AK47’s a RPK light machine gun, a couple of RPG launchers and approximately 10,000 rounds of ammunition in their vehicles. The insurgents blended almost perfectly with the civilian population from our perspective, and stayed close to the civilian population to negate the overwhelming firepower of the U.S. Military. They maintain their position in the civilian population mainly through intimidation and reprisal killings. The U.S. is slowly removing these cells, and the Iraqi government and civilian population is coming around to ending the insurgency.
There are many strategies that were working at the time I left. The surge helped by simply providing enough troops to deny the insurgents access to the countryside. A simple fact is that if there are more soldiers on the ground you can spend more time going through an area. This also provided enough time to properly train Iraqi police and military. as we witnessed in 1991 and 2003, yes they really were that bad. The Iraqis are now capable of holding areas that the U.S. clears. The Iraqi people and the Sheiks who lead them have determined that the insurgents have had the tide turn against them and have decided to back the U.S. and Iraqi forces. An example of this was early this summer when the Sheiks of Al-Anbar declared their support.
I have a first hand knowledge that, despite what the news says, despite what the politicians say, things are improving in Iraq. To prove this i will use a simple grunts yardstick. When we first arrived we were being mortared on average every ten days and were finding IED’s five miles from the gate of our camp. When we left we hadn’t been mortared for months and Had to go almost to Baghdad to find IED’s with any regularity. Iraq will never be a Jeffersonian democracy in my opinion. It is just too different of culture. But we cannot abandon it to fall apart either. These are my observations and beliefs. You may agree or disagree but either way you may sleep safe at night knowing that me and people like me are willing to give our lives to defend your right to do either.