Saturday, September 18, 2004

Even as Jason Van Steenwyk writes about readiness problems in the guard and reserve and The notion that we need to move now to increase active duty troop levels, he attributes all reports of problems in Iraq by Big Media as due to outdated information.

The short version: the much ballyhooed National Intelligence Estimate being touted by the chicken little press corps is hopelessly out of date.

and he quotes approvingly:

On Samarrah:

You may not have even heard about the city of Samarra. Two weeks ago, that Sunni Triangle city was a “No-go” area for US troops. But guess what? The locals got sick of living in fear from the insurgents and foreign fighters that were there and let them know they weren’t welcome. They stopped hosting them in their houses and the mayor of the town brokered a deal with the US commander to return Iraqi government sovereignty to the city without a fight. The people saw what was on the horizon and decided they didn’t want their city looking like Fallujah in April or Najaf in August.

Boom, boom, just like that two major “hot spots” cool down in rapid succession. Does that mean that those towns are completely pacified? No. What it does mean is that we are learning how to do this the right way. The US commander in Samarra saw an opportunity and took it – probably the biggest victory of his military career and nary a shot was fired in anger.

Jason Van Steenwyk has made valid points about military ignorance in some media outlets, but he's often very quick to believe the Bush administration and those who quote them uncritically.

Stars and Stripes is a Department of Defense-authorized daily newspaper distributed overseas for the U.S. military community. Editorially independent of interference from outside its editorial chain of command, it provides commercially available U.S.and world news and objective staff-produced stories relevant to the military community in a balanced, fair, and accurate manner. By keeping its audience informed, Stars and Stripes enhances military readiness and better enables U.S. military personnel and their families stationed overseas to exercise their responsibilities of citizenship.
— Revised DoD Directive 5122.11

And they say:

But while the name has no meaning — it’s just one of those odd names the military has a habit of assigning things — Grape is at, or near, the top of the list of most dangerous roads in Iraq, according to Capt. Nathan Springer, personnel officer and acting spokesman for the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment at Forward Operating Base McKenzie.

ASR Grape runs almost within spitting distance of Samarra — so close, in fact, you can clearly see the sacred dome of the city’s historic mosque.

And Samarra, which is part of the 1st Infantry Division’s area of responsibility, has posed some serious problems.

After some terrifically bloody fights this spring, the city is now under the control of insurgents.

Not a single coalition unit has a permanent contingent stationed there.

In fact, until just last week, any coalition element that went into the city was virtually certain to be attacked, 1-4 Cav officers said.

The situation in Samarra appears to be calming down, as coalition and Iraqi government officials have peacefully entered the city in the past few days.

Still, a secondary condition of having no well-established coalition or Iraqi government presence in Samarra is ASR Grape.

Six 1st Infantry Division soldiers have been killed on that road. An additional five soldiers have been wounded seriously enough to be sent to Germany for care and they have not returned to duty, according to Springer.

Four of the soldiers who were killed were from the 1-4 Cav, including a soldier with Anvil Platoon, and one with Headquarters, Headquarters Troop. Two other soldiers were with the 1st ID’s 216th Engineers.

"Appears to be calming down" is something, but certainly more recent than April, which is the date Jason Van Steenwyk says the report the media quotes is dated from.

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