Monday, December 17, 2007

Canadian Forces Video Montage

During 2006 Scott Kesterton emebed with Canadian troops in Afhganistan. Kesterton ended up spending a whole year embedded with mostly American troops and is soon to release a documentary called AtWar. Some of this footage of the Canadian Soldiers fighting the Taliban is included in the documentary.

During an interview in August 2006 Kesteron, a former American Soldier from Oregon, had this to say about his experience embedded with Canadian Soldiers:

"What has resulted is a bonding of U.S. and Canadian forces never before seen. They are not just our neighbour to the north; they have proven themselves to be fighters and soldiers worthy of the highest honours that the U.S. Army offers its own...

"On our first morning of being attacked, I found myself holding back tears as I filmed Canadians fighting a fight that began on American soil on Sept. 11, 2001. In interviews that followed, I discovered the depth of commitment that these soldiers held in their hearts, as they expressed their belief in purpose and shared their emotions, at times with tears. Two countries, each proud of their roots and history, unified across the border that distinguishes each of us ...

"From patrols to attacks, and an operational tempo that pushed us all to the point of exhaustion, and even the loss of one of my cameras following a fire fight, the Canadian soldiers and I became close friends, bridging into that place that only soldiers know... a band of brothers."

Kesterton continues: "In the last engagement working with the Canadian soldiers, we were ambushed in a small village. As three of us were making our way toward the enemy, a Canadian squad leader appeared at our right flank, killing a Taliban soldier who was poised to shoot us. The Canadian saved not only the lives of two of his fellow soldiers, but the life of this American photojournalist."

A few days later Kesterton asked Canadian soldiers how they felt about this war. The answers were virtually unanimous:

"It's time that someone else steps up. The United States shouldn't have to carry the fight alone. We may be Canadians, but the attack was an attack on our common values and beliefs -- 9/11 was an attack on all of us."

Apprently the above footage was the first combat footage Kesterton shot using actual military clips. He writes:

"My first military video using actual military clips, so go easy on the judgement ;). I purposely left the sound affects (gun shots, etc) in because I personally thought the sounds version was better than just music. Also on YouTube the audo and video aren't in sync as well as they are in the original file. All video footage is by photojournalist Scott Kesterson of: Alpha Company, 2nd Platoon "Red Devils" of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in Afghanistan"

You can watch all three trailers for AtWar at:

Friday, December 07, 2007

Staying the course in Afghanistan

I recently met a Canadian Soldier while we were both getting our hair cut at our local barber shop. He had just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He is an infantry Soldier with the Queen's Own Rifles. He described the situation of the average Afghani citizen as desperate.

Thes people have virtually nothing and all that they want is to live their lives in peace, something the Taliban is determined ruin.

The chances of a NATO country stepping up to the plate to take Canada's combat role when our mandate runs out in February 2009 is slim to none. Those countries currently involved in fighting the Taliban, besides the Americans, are Britain, The Netherlands (which just recently extended their mission) and Denmark. The French and the Germans have decided to chicken out and hide on there bases in the secure north of the country.

The south is where the fighting is. The Canadian people need to be reminded what murderous scum the Taliban really are. Afghani citizens speaking in private with Canadian S0ldiers readily say that the Taliban are not Muslims. The Taliban do drugs and drink. They rape women and small boys. But the worst thing they do is torture and kill for offences that are as trivial as not having a long enough beard.

Our Canadian Soldiers are good at what they do. They volunteered for this mission. Canadian's need to know that there are Warriors among us who are ready and willing to fight, not only for the people of Afghanistan but for their country. For if the Taliban are allowed to return to power in Afghanistan then the entire Middle East dynamic will change for the worse.

Al-Qaeda will move back in with a vengeance and start training to fight a war with the west. We can not allow this to happen.

Friday, November 30, 2007


I've been following milblogs since I chanced upon Colby Buzell's blog in 2004. At that time it was called, MY WAR: Fear and Loathing in Iraq. Buzell had never written anything substantial prior to this. A friend let him in on the fact that you could write about what you were experiencing on the internet anonamously. He decided to check it out as a means to keep his sanity during very trying times and to his astonishment found that a stream of conciousness literary style of writing flowed through his fingers and onto the web, the result of which caused a number of significant reactions.

The first of these was that the Pentagon had been made aware of his writings and, rumor had it, Rummie himself was reading the blog. This led to much hand wringing at the pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of the Military with regard to just what the fuck this had to do with the war effort. The immediate effect was that Buzell's blog was shut down. (Unfortunately for him anonimity was a loose term if your writing was too explicit.) But the noteriety led to a book deal and the publishising of: MY WAR: Killing time in Iraq, for which he was awarded was awarded the £5000 Lulu Blooker prize, among other things.

Buzzell's book was reviewied by one of his literary heroes, Kurt Vonnegut:

"My War by Colby Buzzell is nothing less than the soul of an extremely interesting human being at war on our behalf in Iraq."- Kurt Vonnegut"

Black Flag's lead singer wrote of the book and blog:

"I remember reading Colby's journal entries on the internet when he was filing them from Iraq. I was amazed at how heavy the material was but what really knocked me out was how sharp and vividly intense his writing was. My War is the real deal reportage from the ground. There's no way any reporter could have brought this back. If you care about our brave soldiers in the fray and want to get an insight into what it's really like out there, My War is essential reading.” - Henry Rollins"

I've got the book. If you're into military history it's a must read. It is an important book, not just because it covered Buzell's experiences during the Iraq war circa 2004 but because it inspired so many other American Soldiers to start bloggin about their experiences in Iraq AS THEY WERE HAPPENING!!!!!

Try and imagine what an outlet for the stress of Soldiers in WWII or Vietnam if they could have written about their experiences just after they occurred! Military bloggers of today, writing form the front lines, is of historical signficance.

I follow many of these amazing young Soldiers daily. What I find so compelling about he writing is the quality of their dispatches. The talent of these young men and women often includes poetry, videography, photography and much, much more.

The muzzelled thinking of the bureaucrats at the Pentagon and senior army general staff after years of dithering have finally realized that Milblogs for the most part are a good thing. Never before in the history of warfare have the the thoughts and feelings of those caught up in the action been able to be disseminated to so many so soon after the events.

Although the Surge in Iraq is now seen to be by and large a success, the situation is still dangerous. One blogger who I have followed from his days in boot camp at Fort Lewis, Washington has just lost comrades in arms, one of whom was a close personal friend. You can follow his progress from boot camp to war zone by clicking on the link: THE UNLIKLEY SOLDIER listed near the bottom of the links on the right side of this page. Very talented. Very, very funny. Touchingly poignant.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Canada claims Victory in latest Afghan offensive

Matthew Fisher

CanWest News Service

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD -- Canada is claiming a major victory over the Taliban with its latest offensive, called Operation Honest Soldier, although one Canadian soldier was killed by an enemy mortar.

The Taliban "were surprised," Captain Stephane Masson, operations co-ordinator for Joint Task Force Afghanistan, told a briefing Wednesday. "We tightened the circle and they had to fight. We saw signs of panic."

The recently completed operation aimed to seize land to establish police checkpoints at strategically significant places throughout Panjwaii, an area long infested with insurgents, about 50 kilometres west of Kandahar City.

Operation Honest Soldier involved Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion of the Quebec-based Royal 22nd (Van Doos) Regiment, tanks from the Alberta-based Lord Strathcona's Horse, as well as Afghan army and police.

Corporal Nathan Hornburg, a reservist from Nanton, Alta., and the King's Own Calgary Regiment, who was attached to the Strathconas, died during the operation last week when he tried to repair a tank tread.

Other than confirming that there were insurgent casualties, the Canadian military, as is its policy, refused to reveal a body count.

Honest Soldier was designed to rationalize Afghan police checkpoints and convert them into more easily defended police substations.

Four of the stations have been completed. They were located in strategic locations near traffic arteries.

"The big conflict was last week. Since then contacts have dropped to about one a day," Capt. Masson said.

While the operation unfolded in Panjwaii, it also had an effect on the equally restive neighbouring district of Zhari.

There was already "a great intelligence improvement," as a result of establishing the police substations, said Capt. Masson, an artillery officer.

While the Van Doos fought in Panjwaii and Zhari, elements of the Quebec-based 12th Armoured Regiment helped Afghan authorities with what were described as "governance issues" in the eastern town of Spin Boldak, near the Pakistan border.

Meanwhile, Ahmed (Sorkai) Zia, the 12-year-old Afghan boy shot in the head by Canadian troops on a convoy on Tuesday, was doing "much better," a day after emergency surgery at NATO's hospital at the Kandahar Airfield, a military spokeswoman said.

The boy was in stable, non-life-threatening condition and had been placed in a medically induced coma to assist with his recovery, said Captain Josée Bilodeau, adding the child probably would remain in that state for at least three days.

Sorkai's older brother, Esmatullah, died instantly when he was also shot in the head in the same incident. The brothers had been riding a motorcycle near the convoy.
The shooting was an accident and "not the result of enemy activity," the Canadian military said on Tuesday.

However, military police are continuing to investigate the circumstances of the shooting, including suggestions that it may have been caused by an equipment malfunction.
After several weeks of calm, the Kandahar airfield, where many Canadian and other NATO troops are based, was hit several times by rockets on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Canadian soldier killed in volatile Afghan district

Matthew Fisher,

CanWest News ServicePublished: Tuesday, September 25, 2007

KANDAHAR -- A cattle rancher's son from Nanton, Alta., has become the latest Canadian to die in the dusty, volatile sweep of land to the west of Kandahar City that has become the main battle ground against the Taliban in this southern province.

Cpl. Nathan Hornburg, a 24-year-old mechanic with the King's Own Calgary Regiment, died when he was struck by fragments from a mortar fired by insurgents just before sundown Monday near a cluster of villages known as Zangabad in the Panjwaii district. He had dismounted from his Leopard tank to fix a tread that had come off the vehicle in what was described as very rough terrain.

Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche, the Canadian commander, expressed his "sincere condolences" to the fallen soldier's family. "There is no way to comfort his family, friends and comrades today except to say that Cpl. Hornburg believed in the mission he was involved in," Laroche said.
Another soldier, a reservist attached to a squadron of the Edmonton-based Lord Strathcona's Horse squadron, was wounded in the same skirmish as Hornburg. Three other infantrymen, based in Quebec, were then wounded by rocket-propelled grenades when they engaged the insurgents who had fired at Hornburg as they tried to carry him away from the fighting. These soldiers were "doing well" and did not have life-threatening injuries, Laroche said.

On Tuesday, another Canadian soldier was seriously wounded in a Taliban ambush. The soldier, whose name was not released, was part of a joint patrol of Canadian army and Afghan police officers. The daylight attack, 42 kilometres west of Kandahar City, involved rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. The soldier, a member of a Police Operational Mentor Liaison, was airlifted to a British military hospital at Camp Bastien in Helmand province for specialist care.

Hornburg was the first Canadian to have died in ground combat in Afghanistan since last October. Much more common are deaths by improvised explosive devices embedded in the road or by suicide bombers. More than half of the 71 Canadian soldiers who have now died in Afghanistan since 2002 have been killed in Panjwaii or the neighbouring district of Zhari.
On Monday, a battle group from Quebec's Royal 22nd Regiment, often referred to as the Van Doo, and tanks from the Strathconas, were conducting a daylong sweep dubbed Operation Sadiq Sarbaaz (Good Soldier) "to increase security in northern Panjwaii" and to establish a police station, Laroche said. The Van Doo reported several firefights during a long day of contact between the warring parties.

The fatal confrontation began close to the southern shore of the almost dry Arghandab River, about 47 kilometres west of Kandahar City. A Canadian army spokesman confirmed insurgents had also been killed during the exchanges, which involved small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars. But, in line with Canadian and NATO policy, the spokesman declined further details on enemy casualties.

Although responsible for the entire province of Kandahar, Canadians have spent most of their time over the past two years trying to wrest control of Panjwaii and Zhari districts from the Taliban.

Panjwaii and Zhari are a warren of villages with thick mud walls surrounded by irrigated farms. There was a bumper crop of opium poppies in the area this year, but the main legal crops are wheat and grapes. The area has many grape-drying huts that have been used to hide fighters and their supplies.

A persistent haunt of the Taliban, the territory was also the scene of many battles in the 1980s between the Soviet Red Army and the mujahedeen, then backed by the U.S.
Laroche said Canada will never "definitively" dominate Panjwaii and Zhari because the insurgents are engaged in a classic counter-insurgency operation that makes them hard to locate and track.

"You have to find ways to reduce the threat and create reconstruction and development," he said. The Canadians occupied much of the two districts in the summer and fall of 2006, but eventually turned over partial control to the poorly trained Afghan police.

Several weeks ago, Canada began efforts to reestablish a greater presence in the area. Part of the initiative was to reopen abandoned checkpoints on the only main road.
The Taliban vowed to send more of its fighters into the area, Afghan sources said last week. The insurgents have seldom gathered large numbers of forces to fight the Canadians head-on since suffering heavy combat losses in Panjwaii and Zhari districts late last summer during what NATO called Operation Medusa.

Hornburg's death was the first of a Canadian in southern Afghanistan since two Valcartier, Que.,-based soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb Aug. 22. He was the 27th Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan this year, compared to 36 last year and eight in total in the four preceding years. Canada has about 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

With the 82nd Airborne in Baghdad

Michael J Totten, to those of you who don't know, is a very interesting blogger/journalist. He's a Democrat but genuinely, scrupulously objective on what he reports. He lived in Lebanon for 9 months and left a couple of months before Hezbollah started the war with Israel. (It was time to go home; he had no idea the war was coming, otherswise I suspect he would have stayed.)

He covered that war from the Israeli side. He's been to Iraqi Kurdistan a couple of times and now he's just back from an embed with the 82nd Airborne in Baghdad and very surprised at what he finds there.

What follows is just the first bit. Read the whole thing. It's worth it. American ingenuity! Solar Powered Street Lamps!! Learning Arabic on the fly!!

August 20, 2007

How to Spy in Iraq

By Michael J. Totten

BAGHDAD – American soldiers arrived in Iraq in 2003 with not much of a plan and little idea what to expect. The Iraqi government, military, and police were overthrown and disbanded under de-Baathification. Most Iraqis who knew how to run the country were either sent home or imprisoned. Americans were in charge of just about everything even though they had no experience running even their own country let alone a traumatized and suspicious Arab society. They were confounded by its exotic and dysfunctional ways. When Sunni and Shia militias launched wars against each other and against the Americans, confusion turned to bewilderment.

General David Petraeus fared better than other American commanders in cracking the code of Iraqi society and reducing the insurgency in Mosul from an explosion to a simmer. I saw some of the results of his strategy’s expansion to Baghdad with troops in the 82nd Airborne Division. Instead of staying on base and training Iraqis while security disintegrated outside the wire, they moved into a neighborhood in Baghdad where they now live and work among the civilian population 24 hours a day.

Clear, hold, and build is the strategy now. The Graya’at neighborhood has been cleared of active insurgents, although there still are dormant cells in the area. The Army is working on several modest community and urban renewal projects and is planning larger ones in the near future. Constant patrols and intelligence gathering are the two crucial pieces of the hold part of the strategy.

I went out one night with Lieutenant Larry Pitts and his men one of their intel gathering missions.

“We’ll collect info on Shias in Sunni areas and Sunnis in Shia areas,” he told me. “We make the best of it by going out and meeting the local people. It works because we have a decent reputation around here that we’ve been cultivating for a long time. Reporters would get it more if they were with us from the beginning.”

We saddled up in Humvees, drove down quiet residential streets, and dismounted on a street near a palm grove.

Children came out of their houses to meet us.

The rest is great reading here:

Friday, June 29, 2007

Understanding Current Operations in Iraq

The following article was published by Colonel David Kilcullen (Ph. D), an Australian officer currently serving as senior advisor on counterinsurgency operations (COIN) to General David Petraeus in Iraq. The much anticipated 'surge' began on June 15, 2007.

I’ve spent much of the last six weeks out on the ground, working with Iraqi and U.S. combat units, civilian reconstruction teams, Iraqi administrators and tribal and community leaders. I’ve been away from e-mail a lot, so unable to post here at SWJ: but I’d like to make up for that now by providing colleagues with a basic understanding of what’s happening, right now, in Iraq.

This post is not about whether current ops are “working” — for us, here on the ground, time will tell, though some observers elsewhere seem to have already made up their minds (on the basis of what evidence, I’m not really sure). But for professional counterinsurgency operators such as our SWJ (Small Wars Journal) community, the thing to understand at this point is the intention and concept behind current ops in Iraq: if you grasp this, you can tell for yourself how the operations are going, without relying on armchair pundits. So in the interests of self-education (and cutting out the commentariat middlemen—sorry, guys) here is a field perspective on current operations.

Ten days ago, speaking with Austin Bay, I made the following comment:

“I know some people in the media are already starting to sort of write off the “surge” and say ‘Hey, hang on: we’ve been going since January, we haven’t seen a massive turnaround; it mustn’t be working’. What we’ve been doing to date is putting forces into position. We haven’t actually started what I would call the “surge” yet. All we’ve been doing is building up forces and trying to secure the population. And what I would say to people who say that it’s already failed is “watch this space”. Because you’re going to see, in fairly short order, some changes in the way we’re operating that will make what’s been happening over the past few months look like what it is—just a preliminary build up.”

The meaning of that comment should be clear by now to anyone tracking what is happening in Iraq. On June 15th we kicked off a major series of division-sized operations in Baghdad and the surrounding provinces. As General Odierno said, we have finished the build-up phase and are now beginning the actual “surge of operations”. I have often said that we need to give this time. That is still true. But this is the end of the beginning: we are now starting to put things onto a viable long-term footing.

These operations are qualitatively different from what we have done before. Our concept is to knock over several insurgent safe havens simultaneously, in order to prevent terrorists relocating their infrastructure from one to another, and to create an operational synergy between what we're doing in Baghdad and what's happening outside. Unlike on previous occasions, we don't plan to leave these areas once they’re secured. These ops will run over months, and the key activity is to stand up viable local security forces in partnership with Iraqi Army and Police, as well as political and economic programs, to permanently secure them. The really decisive activity will be police work, registration of the population and counterintelligence in these areas, to comb out the insurgent sleeper cells and political cells that have "gone quiet" as we moved in, but which will try to survive through the op and emerge later. This will take operational patience, and it will be intelligence-led, and Iraqi government-led. It will probably not make the news (the really important stuff rarely does) but it will be the truly decisive action.

When we speak of "clearing" an enemy safe haven, we are not talking about destroying the enemy in it; we are talking about rescuing the population in it from enemy intimidation. If we don't get every enemy cell in the initial operation, that's OK. The point of the operations is to lift the pall of fear from population groups that have been intimidated and exploited by terrorists to date, then win them over and work with them in partnership to clean out the cells that remain – as has happened in Al Anbar Province and can happen elsewhere in Iraq as well.

The "terrain" we are clearing is human terrain, not physical terrain. It is about marginalizing al Qa’ida, Shi’a extremist militias, and the other terrorist groups from the population they prey on. This is why claims that “80% of AQ leadership have fled” don’t overly disturb us: the aim is not to kill every last AQ leader, but rather to drive them off the population and keep them off, so that we can work with the community to prevent their return.

This is not some sort of kind-hearted, soft approach, as some fire-breathing polemicists have claimed (funnily enough, those who urge us to “just kill more bad guys” usually do so from a safe distance). It is not about being “nice” to the population and hoping they will somehow see us as the “good guys” and stop supporting insurgents. On the contrary, it is based on a hard-headed recognition of certain basic facts, to wit:

(a.) The enemy needs the people to act in certain ways (sympathy, acquiescence, silence, reaction to provocation) in order to survive and further his strategy. Unless the population acts in these ways, both insurgents and terrorists will wither, and the cycle of provocation and backlash that drives the sectarian conflict in Iraq will fail.

(b.) The enemy is fluid, but the population is fixed. (The enemy is fluid because he has no permanent installations he needs to defend, and can always run away to fight another day. But the population is fixed, because people are tied to their homes, businesses, farms, tribal areas, relatives etc). Therefore—and this is the major change in our strategy this year—protecting and controlling the population is do-able, but destroying the enemy is not. We can drive him off from the population, then introduce local security forces, population control, and economic and political development, and thereby "hard-wire" the enemy out of the environment, preventing his return. But chasing enemy cells around the countryside is not only a waste of time, it is precisely the sort of action he wants to provoke us into. That’s why AQ cells leaving an area are not the main game—they are a distraction. We played the enemy’s game for too long: not any more. Now it is time for him to play our game.

(c.) Being fluid, the enemy can control his loss rate and therefore can never be eradicated by purely enemy-centric means: he can just go to ground if the pressure becomes too much. BUT, because he needs the population to act in certain ways in order to survive, we can asphyxiate him by cutting him off from the people. And he can't just "go quiet" to avoid that threat. He has either to come out of the woodwork, fight us and be destroyed, or stay quiet and accept permanent marginalization from his former population base. That puts him on the horns of a lethal dilemma (which warms my heart, quite frankly, after the cynical obscenities these irhabi gang members have inflicted on the innocent Iraqi non-combatant population). That's the intent here.

(d.) The enemy may not be identifiable, but the population is. In any given area in Iraq, there are multiple threat groups but only one, or sometimes two main local population groups. We could do (and have done, in the past) enormous damage to potential supporters, "destroying the haystack to find the needle", but we don't need to: we know who the population is that we need to protect, we know where they live, and we can protect them without unbearable disruption to their lives. And more to the point, we can help them protect themselves, with our forces and ISF in overwatch.

Of course, we still go after all the terrorist and extremist leaders we can target and find, and life has become increasingly “nasty, brutish, and short” for this crowd. But we realize that this is just a shaping activity in support of the main effort, which is securing the Iraqi people from the terrorists, extremist militias, and insurgents who need them to survive.

Is there a strategic risk involved in this series of operations? Absolutely. Nothing in war is risk-free. We have chosen to accept and manage this risk, primarily because a low-risk option simply will not get us the operational effects that the strategic situation demands. We have to play the hand we have been dealt as intelligently as possible, so we're doing what has to be done. It still might not work, but "it is what it is" at this point.

So much for theory. The practice, as always, has been mixed. Personally, I think we are doing reasonably well and casualties have been lower so far than I feared. Every single loss is a tragedy. But so far, thank God, the loss rate has not been too terrible: casualties are up in absolute terms, but down as a proportion of troops deployed (in the fourth quarter of 2006 we had about 100,000 troops in country and casualties averaged 90 deaths a month; now we have almost 160,000 troops in country but deaths are under 120 per month, much less than a proportionate increase, which would have been around 150 a month). And last year we patrolled rarely, mainly in vehicles, and got hit almost every time we went out. Now we patrol all the time, on foot, by day and night with Iraqi units normally present as partners, and the chances of getting hit are much lower on each patrol. We are finally coming out of the "defensive crouch" with which we used to approach the environment, and it is starting to pay off.

It will be a long, hard summer, with much pain and loss to come, and things could still go either way. But the population-centric approach is the beginning of a process that aims to put the overall campaign onto a sustainable long-term footing. The politics of the matter then can be decisive, provided the Iraqis use the time we have bought for them to reach the essential accommodation. The Embassy and MNF-I continue to work on these issues at the highest levels but fundamentally, this is something that only Iraqis can resolve: our role is to provide an environment in which it becomes possible.

All this may change. These are long-term operations: the enemy will adapt and we'll have to adjust what we're doing over time. Baq’ubah, Arab Jabour and the western operations are progressing well, and additional security measures in place in Baghdad have successfully tamped down some of the spill-over of violence from other places. The relatively muted response (so far) to the second Samarra bombing is evidence of this. Time will tell, though....

Once again, none of this is intended to tell you “what to think” or “whether it’s working”. We’re all professional adults, and you can work that out for yourself. But this does, I hope, explain some of the thinking behind what we are doing, and it may therefore make it easier for people to come to their own judgment.

David Kilcullen is Senior Counterinsurgency Adviser, Multi-National Force—Iraq. These are his personal views only.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Values Message from General David Petraeus

This was first posted on Michael Yon's sight. This letter from General Petraeus deserves the widest possible dissemination. It applies to Canadians as well as Americans in this valiant fight. It should be published widely, and posted on every headquarters wall, and read aloud by every troop in Iraq and Afghanistan. We can pummel al Qaeda and other terrorists mercilessly and grind them into the dirt, but we cannot afford to turn local populations against us while we do it.

From General Petraeus:

Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen serving in Multi-National Force-Iraq:

Our values and the laws governing warfare teach us to respect human dignity, maintain our integrity, and do what is right. Adherence to our values distinguishes us from our enemy. This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we—not our enemies—occupy the moral high ground. This strategy has shown results in recent months. Al Qaeda’s indiscriminate attacks, for example, have finally started to turn a substantial proportion ofthe Iraqi population against it.

In view of this, I was concerned by the results of a recently released survey conducted last fall in Iraq that revealed an apparent unwillingness on the part of some US personnel to report illegal actions taken by fellow members of their units. The study also indicated that a small percentage of those surveyed may have mistreated noncombatants. This survey should spur reflection on our conduct in combat.

I fully appreciate the emotions that one experiences in Iraq. I also know first hand the bonds between members of the ” brotherhood of the close fight. ” Seeing a fellow trooper killed by a barbaric enemy can spark frustration, anger, and a desire for immediate revenge. As hard as it might be, however, we must not let these emotions lead us—or our comrades in arrns—to commit hasty, illegal actions. In the event that we witness or hear of such actions, we must not let our bonds prevent us from speaking up.

Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. They would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor necessary. Certainly, extreme physical action can make someone “talk;” however, what the individual says may be of questionable value. In fact, our experience in applying the interrogation standards laid out in the Army Field Manual (2-22.3) on Human Intelligence Collector Operations that was published last year shows that the techniques in the manual work effectively and humanely in eliciting information from detainees.

We are, indeed, warriors. We train to kill our enemies. We are engaged in combat, we must pursue the enemy relentlessly, and we must be violent at times. What sets us apart from our enemies in this fight, however, is how we behave. In everything we do, we must observe the standards and values that dictate that we treat noncombatants and detainees with dignity and respect. While we are warriors, we are also all human beings. Stress caused by lengthy deployments and combat is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign that we are human. If you feel such stress, do not hesitate to talk to your chain of command, your chaplain, or a medical expert.

We should use the survey results to renew our commitment to the values and standards that make us who we are and to spur re-examinat ion of these issues. Leaders, in part icular, need to discuss these issues with their troopers—and, as always, they need to set the right example and strive to ensure proper conduct. We should never underestimate the importance of good leadership and the difference it can make.

Thanks for what you continue to do. It is an honor to serve with each of you.

David H. Petraeus,
General, United States Army

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Decorated Soldier Ambushed in an Ontario Bar!!

This is just makes me see red. Cowardly bastards.

Soldier calls nasty bar beating a 'sneak attack'

Updated Tue. Mar. 13 2007 10:40 PM ET News Staff

A soldier honoured for his military valour in Afghanistan is wondering why strangers beat him up in his hometown bar this past weekend.

"This wasn't two guys on the ice dropping gloves and going, 'OK, let's go'," Master Cpl. Collin Fitzgerald told CTV Ottawa on Tuesday."This was an attack -- a sneak attack. To blindside a guy ... and hit him with an object, there's something wrong."

Fitzgerald is well known in Morrisburg, Ont., a small town about an hour's drive south of Ottawa.He says he'd been in the bar only about 20 minutes late Friday, visiting with a childhood friend who introduced him to people as a war hero, when he was suddenly struck from behind with some type of object. Four men jumped him and began beating on him.

"They were saying 'What kind of hero are you now?'," Fitzgerald's mother Arlene told CTV News."If it was true that they said that, then they're ignorant," Fitzgerald said.

Bystanders pulled the attackers off Fitzgerald and his friends drove him to hospital.The weapons instructor at CFB Trenton had his foot broken in three places and needed 10 stitches to close a cut above his right eye. Fitzgerald, 27, also suffered a broken nose and two black eyes in the Friday night attack.

"Whatever he hit me with, he could have easily taken out an eye," the soldier said. "What if he hit me in the throat? It could have been an artery." Fitzgerald is married, with a young family.

Decorated hero

Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean recognized Fitzgerald in a Feb. 19 ceremony for braving enemy fire in Afghanistan.He served eight months there. He was one of the first recipients of the Canadian Medal of Military Valour, "for outstanding selfless and valiant actions" carried out on May 24, 2006, during an enemy ambush "involving intense, accurate enemy fire."

According to the military, Fitzgerald "repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire by entering and re-entering a burning platoon vehicle and successfully driving it off the roadway, permitting the remaining vehicles trapped in the enemy zone to break free."

"Collin was safer fighting the Taliban. At least he saw the enemy coming, or knew the enemy was there," said his mother. "They are just total cowards, nothing but snakes," said Gerald, Collin's father.

Fitzgerald will need at least a month to recover from his injuries. Several of his army buddies are still recovering from injuries they suffered in Afghanistan."They don't realize how good we have it here in Canada and what we're trying to help the Afghan people have," he said of his attackers.Ontario Provincial Police have arrested 21-year-old Travis Baldwin, a Morrisburg resident and hockey player, and charged him with aggravated assault.

An investigation is ongoing.Baldwin will appear in Morrisburg court on May 1. CTV Ottawa has learned he may be the only person criminally charged in connection with the incident. With a report from CTV's Rosemary Thompson and CTV Ottawa's Chris Day

Back in the day when one of our soldiers was attacked and beaten up we would go down town and administer some justice to the perpetrators. I hope things haven't changed all that much at CFB Trenton.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pat Dollard

If you don't know who Pat Dollard is you probably should. Pat was your typical liberal Hollywood Democrat until he started questioning what he was reading in the MSM. So. At 42 he gave up everything he had in his high flying life as a very succesful Hollywood agent to embed with Marines first it The Triangle of Death and then in Al-Anbar province, armed not with a gun but a video camera. He went where the Marines went, ambushes, IED's, MRE's not showering for weeks at a time to record what was actually happening with the Marines in Iraq. He was very nearly killed. He has distilled 700 hours of raw footage into 15 hour long documentary episodes called Young Americans. follows is his reponse for the Democrats "plan" for Iraq.

Jan 11th 2007

This Civil War is On: In America, Not Iraq

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin’s official response to President Bush’s speech was literally nothing but drivel. And self-contradictory drivel, no less. Which is no mean ****ing feat. Quite an achievement to make just enough sense to contradict yourself. Which means it made just enough sense to reveal the complete bankruptcy of ideas and policies that has left the now literally treasonous Democratic Party unable to serve America, and only able to serve itself.

The Democrats’ months-old overall position on Iraq makes no sense, and therefor relies on, at best, tortured, twisted and tragi-comically shifting logic and arguments. And the biggest problem with their position ( I’d say policies, but they have none other than the domestic political play of retreat, based on an Orwellian Big Brother declaration of defeat, solely in order to have the advantage in the 2008 elections ) is that it is based not on the facts on the ground in Iraq, but instead on a propaganda soundbite, created and promoted as reality by their Propaganda Ministry ( the MSM ): Iraq is in a civil war. This very concept, created by those desperate for it to be so for the sake of political gain, lays the entire foundation for the Democrats’ position. What if it were not true? Well then, the entire Democratic agenda, quite simply a demand for a retreat, would be wrong. And guess ****ing what?

You got it. I was in Ramadi when Al Qaeda blew up the Shia’s golden-domed shrine. They blew it up with the express goals of fomenting a civil war that the Iraqis clearly were not interested in, and to create the resultant American political divisiveness you see today. The entire Jihad movement very closely monitors American politics and media. They are obsessed with it. They understand that the media war is every bit as critical as the ground war. Americans, very naive and with few alternative sources, most often simply believe what they see and hear in the media, not understanding the media’s motives and manipulations, nor how the media itself has been manipulated. When the Dome was blown up, nearly all Iraqis knew it was Zarqwai and weren’t taking the bait. Meanwhile, I watched as the MSM reported on protests in Ramadi that were not happening. They reported on many phantom events in Ramadi, including the overrunning of the Ramadi Government Center, while I stood in the middle of it, with nary a shot fired all day. Were they lying about the protests? One way or another, by intent or negligence, they were. And let’s not forget, every crime has a motive. The media’s motive is to promote defeat in order to get their client, the Democratic Party, elected. ( The time for mincing words is long gone, there is too much at stake. Treason is as treason does. )

By the time the Dome blew, years had transpired without any broad civil war sentiment or activity, in an Iraq in which 90% of the households have automatic weapons. Nor did that change after the Dome blew. As armed as all Iraqis are, if the civil war game was on, we would see it as clearly as we see the hands at the ends of our arms. Instead all that we see are the violent acts of limited, special-interest sectarian gangs, comprised primarily of, well, gangsters and not the average Iraqi. Shiite and Sunni thugs ( Al Sadr of course amongst them ) used the event to whip up as many potential gang-recruits as they could, and then to go for broke with the violence and seemingly sectarian neighborhood cleansing. And it was sectarian, but sectarian only as it related to gang warfare.

And that is what we are seeing in Iraq - widespread but limited, organized gang turf wars, not the broad, populist, armed movement that is the true definition of a civil war. As it has always been from the beginning, we are not fighting the people of Iraq, we are not fighting a populist insurgency, we are fighting criminal gangs. The people of Iraq, in fact, would like to see democracy, capitalism and modern education flower in their homeland. This is why they vote in greater percentages than we Americans.

The second biggest flaw in the Democrats’ position is the illogical and self-contradictory essence of both their arguments and operating principles. They say the solution in Iraq is political, not just military, so we should retreat. This makes absolutely no sense, or can only make sense to a facile, child-like mind. The problem with their position is astoundingly simple: no political solution is possible without the military strength to implement and protect it. Their positions are at cross-purposes. You simply cannot implement a stable political infrastructure by first eliminating the effective military force that is any such infrastructure’s lifeblood. It’s like removing the amniotic fluid from a womb: the baby is not going to grow. It is going to die.

Their position is nothing short of lunacy. The Democrats have left themselves nothing but such lunactic positions, because their goals for Iraq have nothing to do with what is best for the peace and security of the United States and the world. Their goals for Iraq only have to do with what is best for the Democratic Party: make the Republican Party look bad. And the best way to do that is to make Iraq an American defeat. I have never seen such widespread naked treason, such absolute evil, in all my 42 years. They and the MSM have tunnelvision: they only care about selling their Big Brother, false script of defeat to the American people; for years they have been in a frenzy to sell this war as Vietnam - for personal gain - and now that frenzy is at a fever pitch. In their minds, they cannot, and will not, be stopped. But good people have stopped worse. We can still prevail over the American insurgents that we are now forced to fight. Their positions are so illogical and tortured because it is very hard to make what is bad for America, and indeed what will ultimately be fatal to many Americans, look good for America. This is why you keep shaking your head when you hear the Dems and the MSM speak about this war. Because just as it made no sense for Big Brother to declare “War is Peace” it makes no sense for them to declare that what is bad for America is actually good for America.

And perhaps the final problem with the Democrats’ position I will just touch on here, but will elaborate on later. Their entire posititon is completely devoid of the concept of consequences. Nowhere do they analyze for us, let alone even address, the consequences of a U.S. retreat from Iraq. It is because those consequences are almost certainly a fresh wave of civilian casualties on American soil, at the hands of Jihadis who will then have substantial portions of Iraq’s resources to use for those attacks, as well as the freedom from focusing on Iraq and the resultant freedom to focus on our homeland. They do not want you to know this, because if you do, you will not support a U.S. retreat from Iraq. Yes, they are evil. It sounds crazy, but no other word bears as legitimate a description of their behavior. They rely on us shying from such extreme language, even though it is the truest language, out of our own fear of undercutting our credibility. Credibility is not lost by operating in the extremes, it is lost by operating outside of the truth. The contemporary Democratic Party has become the most malignant internal cancer to eat at the body of America, in the history of America.Yes, clearly the Civil War is on in America.

And to quote one of the left’s own icons, Michael Stipe of REM, “The time to rise has been engaged”.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Stopping Corruption in Iraq: Every Little bit Helps!

Bill Ardolino has just returned from an embed with Marines in Fallujah. Bill blogs from: INDC Journal. It appears that one of his posts caused quite a stir with a certain Iraqi Army General.

January 30, 2007
Ghost Soldiers Follow-Up: Backstory and Hopeful Signs of Accountability in Iraq

Posted by Bill

I'd learned about how ghost soldiers were bleeding manpower and pay from the Iraqi Army on the 17th of January, when an outgoing Military Transition Team (MiTT) member angrily complained about security operations compromised by thin Iraqi Army units that were purposefully undermanned to skim payroll. Within 24 hours, his gripe had been verified to me by several American and Iraqi sources, and it quickly became apparent that logistical and manpower difficulties partly stemming from corruption were a major impediment to the success of Iraqi Army units operating in Falllujah.
I was awakened late at night on the 18th by a marine corporal who informed me that Brigade MiTT Commander Lt. COL Clayton Fisher requested my presence as soon as possible. I walked over to Fisher's office and found the MiTT leadership in a state of slightly tense animation; the Lt. COL asked me to use my web research skills to find an article about Iraqi Army Second Brigade Commander General Khalid Juad Khadim that was apparently causing quite an uproar among the Iraqi soldiers, the Arab media and the general himself. Searching on the name of the former MiTT commander quoted in the piece, it wasn't long until I'd found Ned Parker's Times of London article exposing endemic corruption in the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and the Iraqi Army.

Having learned of the extent of this corruption in the days prior, I could see that the article was accurate except for one significant piece of information: the Iraqi general specifically accused of stealing payroll in Fallujah was not "ousted," as the article claimed, but was in fact still in command and sitting in an office 30 yards from me as I read the premature report of his professional demise. And boy, was he ticked off.

In between initially futile diplomatic missions to the general's office by the MiTT leadership, the marines staged their weapons in "Condition One" (loaded and ready) and moved me from my solo bunk to share a room with a marine; the coincidence that a journalist was embedded with the Iraqi Brigade on the same day that the Times story broke was not lost on the Americans nor the Iraqi Army officers, and the marines were prudently cautious about the potential for flaring tempers. In addition, the direct quotes in the Times article from former MiTT commander Lt. COL Teeples caused a rift of suspicion and distrust between the Khalid's staff and the current MiTT members. In my case, aside from receiving a few poisonous looks from members of Khalid's security detail, nothing came of the ill will.

Eventually the general calmed down enough to speak to the MiTT leadership, several senior officers and State Department officials. He denied all charges and demanded to file a complaint with the Marines and the US government, apparently misunderstanding the relationship between a free press and governmental entities in Western society. He vowed to fight the charges and went ahead with a planned trip to Habbaniyah the next morning. Over the next 24 hours he refused two of my interview requests, a group of men in civilian vehicles robbed his house of all valuables and the general lit a pyre of documents behind his office late at night. He then left for Baghdad early Monday morning, continuing to assert via telephone his intent to fight the charges and open the books to investigators.
On Tuesday, Iraqi First Division Maj. General Tariq Abdul Wahab Jasim announced that Khalid had been relieved.
And just this morning, I learned of the official appointment of his successor, a General Ali, who one marine describes thusly:

"He's got a great attitude and is a true leader. He's been shaking things up around here, chewing Iraqi butt like it's cool, getting the Jundi to PT and making the brigade staff ... work."
So what happened to the Iraqi Army in Fallujah?

To some extrent, General Khalid was scapegoated. While he was certainly guilty of corruption given his position's authority over the Brigade payroll, he's far from the only one; skimming is so common in the Iraqi Army and Ministry of Defense, I'd bet that you'd be hard pressed to find a senior officer without a hand in the pot. But that said, the Times article called out Khalid by name. From there, the Arab media picked up the story and ran with it, which caused quite a stir among the general's staff as well as other Iraqi Army, marine and American civilian officials. I added a very minor contribution, and within several days, the general had been relieved and replaced.

Thus begin stirrings of accountability in the Arab world.
It would be naive to think that such an event will stop corruption in the Iraqi bureacracy, but it may help curtail it; General Khalid's demise could serve as a cautionary tale to his successor and other general officers and bureacrats up the line. Instead of misreporting and skimming 50% of the pay intended for the Jundi, they might skim 20%. Instead of selling half of the fuel budgeted for operations, they may cut back to a third. And so it goes. The more the media can specifically expose individuals who prioritize criminal activity and personal gain over the establishment of Iraq's security, the better chance Iraq has to build a working government, defeat the insurgency and find stability. And it's important to note that it while the initial article appeared in a Western news outlet, it was the Arab media's repetition of the story that really generated heat among the IA officers.

Regionally, this is a new paradigm. And this exposure of and quick accountability for General Khalid's corruption were among the more encouraging things I saw during my time in Iraq.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

2nd Lt. Mark Daily from 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based out of Fort Bliss Texas

2nd Lt Mark Daily was killed in Iraq on January 15th, 2007 along wtih three other Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based out of Fort Bliss Texas. What follows is his MySpace posting to explain why an honoured college graduate such as he would join the Army and volunteer for a tour of duty in Iraq.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Current mood: optimistic

Why I Joined:
This question has been asked of me so many times in so many different contexts that I thought it would be best if I wrote my reasons for joining the Army on my page for all to see. First, the more accurate question is why I volunteered to go to Iraq. After all, I joined the Army a week after we declared war on Saddam's government with the intention of going to Iraq. Now, after years of training and preparation, I am finally here.

Much has changed in the last three years. The criminal Ba'ath regime has been replaced by an insurgency fueled by Iraq's neighbors who hope to partition Iraq for their own ends. This is coupled with the ever present transnational militant Islamist movement which has seized upon Iraq as the greatest way to kill Americans, along with anyone else they happen to be standing near. What was once a paralyzed state of fear is now the staging ground for one of the largest transformations of power and ideology the Middle East has experienced since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Thanks to Iran, Syria, and other enlightened local actors, this transformation will be plagued by interregional hatred and genocide. And I am now in the center of this.
Is this why I joined?

Yes. Much has been said about America's intentions in overthrowing Saddam Hussein and seeking to establish a new state based upon political representation and individual rights. Many have framed the paradigm through which they view the conflict around one-word explanations such as "oil" or "terrorism," favoring the one which best serves their political persuasion. I did the same thing, and anyone who knew me before I joined knows that I am quite aware and at times sympathetic to the arguments against the war in Iraq. If you think the only way a person could bring themselves to volunteer for this war is through sheer desperation or blind obedience then consider me the exception (though there are countless like me).

I joined the fight because it occurred to me that many modern day "humanists" who claim to possess a genuine concern for human beings throughout the world are in fact quite content to allow their fellow "global citizens" to suffer under the most hideous state apparatuses and conditions. Their excuses used to be my excuses. When asked why we shouldn't confront the Ba'ath party, the Taliban or the various other tyrannies throughout this world, my answers would allude to vague notions of cultural tolerance (forcing women to wear a veil and stay indoors is such a quaint cultural tradition), the sanctity of national sovereignty (how eager we internationalists are to throw up borders to defend dictatorships!) or even a creeping suspicion of America's intentions. When all else failed, I would retreat to my fragile moral ecosystem that years of living in peace and liberty had provided me. I would write off war because civilian casualties were guaranteed, or temporary alliances with illiberal forces would be made, or tank fuel was toxic for the environment. My fellow "humanists" and I would relish contently in our self righteous declaration of opposition against all military campaigns against dictatorships, congratulating one another for refusing to taint that aforementioned fragile moral ecosystem that many still cradle with all the revolutionary tenacity of the members of Rage Against the Machine and Greenday. Others would point to America's historical support of Saddam Hussein, sighting it as hypocritical that we would now vilify him as a thug and a tyrant. Upon explaining that we did so to ward off the fiercely Islamist Iran, which was correctly identified as the greater threat at the time, eyes are rolled and hypocrisy is declared. Forgetting that America sided with Stalin to defeat Hitler, who was promptly confronted once the Nazis were destroyed, America's initial engagement with Saddam and other regional actors is identified as the ultimate argument against America's moral crusade.

And maybe it is. Maybe the reality of politics makes all political action inherently crude and immoral. Or maybe it is these adventures in philosophical masturbation that prevent people from ever taking any kind of effective action against men like Saddam Hussein. One thing is for certain, as disagreeable or as confusing as my decision to enter the fray may be, consider what peace vigils against genocide have accomplished lately. Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights by placing themselves between Iraqi voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics. Often times it is less about how clean your actions are and more about how pure your intentions are.

So that is why I joined. In the time it took for you to read this explanation, innocent people your age have suffered under the crushing misery of tyranny. Every tool of philosophical advancement and communication that we use to develop our opinions about this war are denied to countless human beings on this planet, many of whom live under the regimes that have, in my opinion, been legitimately targeted for destruction. Some have allowed their resentment of the President to stir silent applause for setbacks in Iraq. Others have ironically decried the war because it has tied up our forces and prevented them from confronting criminal regimes in Sudan, Uganda, and elsewhere.

I simply decided that the time for candid discussions of the oppressed was over, and I joined.
In digesting this posting, please remember that America's commitment to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his sons existed before the current administration and would exist into our future children's lives had we not acted. Please remember that the problems that plague Iraq today were set in motion centuries ago and were up until now held back by the most cruel of cages. Don't forget that human beings have a responsibility to one another and that Americans will always have a responsibility to the oppressed. Don't overlook the obvious reasons to disagree with the war but don't cheapen the moral aspects either. Assisting a formerly oppressed population in converting their torn society into a plural, democratic one is dangerous and difficult business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from literally every direction. So if you have anything to say to me at the end of this reading, let it at least include "Good Luck"

Mark Daily

On his MySpace front page, he featured this quote:

"Patience demolishes mountains" -Arab proverb

He wanted to be a journalist.

These are the kind and caliber of men who fight for us. Twenty-three years young. God rest his soul. And never, never forget.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Canada Must Stay the Course in Afghanistan

This following column by Edmonton Sun columnist Doug Beazley who recently returned from embedding with Candian troops in Iraq. I give him full marks for supporting the Canadian troops in Iraq. Where I sharply disagree with him is his assertion that everthing that has gone wrong in Iraq is the fault of president Bush. He's also only partly right about many in Pakistan supporting the Taliban. In fact Islamist forces within the Iraqi military and intellegence service actually created the Taliban. Further Pakistan was one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban as the official government of Afghanistan. The other teo were Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

It was essential at the beginning og the war that Bush make nuclear armed Pakistan make Musharaf, president of Pakistan where his best interests lay. Musharaf is on shaky ground at the moment and has been the target of assisination attempts.

Beazely's got it right though that Canada must stay and help the people of Afghanistan get back to a sustainable way of life:

Sun, January 14, 2007

For Dion, Afghanistan is Quebec

By Doug Beazley

A cop stole my glove when I was in Kabul last month. He didn't keep it long - I'd dropped one leather glove on the sidewalk where I was conducting an interview, and a passing Afghan officer pocketed it.

He gave it back, sheepishly, when I asked for it. The event struck me at the time as being symbolic. The real problem with Afghanistan after the Taliban isn't war, or the drug trade. It's that the country remains so impoverished and mired in official graft that even police officers have to resort to petty theft to keep warm.

And it's not going to get any better any time soon - not as long as U.S. President George W. Bush stays in office, and certainly not if the Liberals under Stephane Dion take power after the next election. For Bush, the aim in Afghanistan was to crush the Taliban quickly and cheaply, and then move on to further triumphs in Iraq. We all saw how well that turned out.

For Dion, the Liberals' Afghanistan policy is actually their Quebec policy. The party badly needs to rebuild itself in Quebec and block any Conservative gains there. And the Afghanistan mission is especially unpopular in Quebec, where it is closely linked with the blundering Bush administration.

The rest of the column is here: