EVERYTHING IS WELL IN BAGHDAD! NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT!

Editorial comments in italics.
Alarming statements in bold.

Savannah Morning News
June 4, 2003

3rd ID 'Can't Leave Until The Mission Is Over'

Commander talks about division's unfinished business in Iraq during video teleconference.

By Noelle Phillips, Savannah Morning News

FORT STEWART -- As the uproar over the 3rd Infantry Division's continued mission in Iraq continues, senior officers spent Thursday explaining the latest developments and addressing concerns about soldiers' welfare.

Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, the division commander, held a video teleconference with local media while Col. Jack Sterling, the chief of staff who just returned from Iraq, met with family members at Fort Stewart.

Mostly, family members feel betrayed because plans were in the works to
bring troops home. Meetings had been held and parties planned. Then, the Department of Defense decided Iraq was too unstable and the division needed to stay.

Now, one brigade is driving toward a hot spot north of Baghdad while two
other brigades continue security patrols in the city.

"I'm not sure how long these missions will last. Some will be two or three
weeks. Some will be longer," Blount said. "We can't leave until the mission is over."

Blount explained the latest mission from a palace near the Baghdad airports while reporters sat in a conference room at Fort Stewart.

For the past six weeks, 3rd Infantry soldiers have patrolled Baghdad to
prevent looting, curb crime, supervise gas distribution and help local
civilians in hospitals, power plants and schools.

Now, the division has handed over responsibility of Baghdad to the 1st
Armored Division out of Germany. The 1st Brigade and 3rd Brigade will help the 1st Armored for now.

Meanwhile, the 2nd Brigade is rolling north to Al Fallujah to crack down on pockets of resistance from former Baath Party members and other militias.

Although the city of 200,000 is considered hostile, Blount said the mission
won't be much different from what the troops have been doing in Baghdad.

"There's not going to be any enemy combat. There's not going to be enemy tanks," Blount said. "We haven't fired a tank in almost eight weeks out here."

While there won't be tank battles, soldiers will remain in a dangerous place where snipers and suicide bombers are still lurking. On May 27, two Iraqis opened fire on soldiers operating a checkpoint there, killing two GIs and injuring nine others.

Blount said he agreed to the new mission because he didn't want the division tied down in Baghdad.

By handing over responsibility of the capital city, commanders hope it will
be easier to leave once the unrest settles, Col. Sterling said.

"We thought it would be easier to extract ourselves from some of these other missions than to extract ourselves from Baghdad," he said.

For now, Blount isn't sure how much longer his troops will be needed in
Iraq, and the decision will be made by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Blount estimated troops would be able to come home by August or September.
However, he was reluctant to pin down a date since the original homecoming time line fell apart.

"It is a changing situation," he said. "That's the plan but, as you know,
plans change."

A few hours after the teleconference, Sterling met with a theater full of
military spouses to answer questions.

Samantha Shirley, whose husband serves in the 2nd Brigade, said she left wanting more answers. The time was limited and very few people got to ask questions, she said.

Family members are worried about the soldiers' morale and mental health, Shirley said.

Blount admitted in his teleconference that morale had dropped when soldiers learned they wouldn't be going home, but said it was taking an upswing since a new mission has been handed out. In psychology, we call that the Hawthorne effect. Any perceived change brings a temporary upswing in morale and productivity, usually, but the effect soon wears off.

Shirley said family members are hearing a different story when they talk to soldiers in Iraq. Something different from propaganda? NO!!!!

"What we're hearing from our soldiers is they'd rather die than spend
another day in hell," she said.

And, reports of the end of heavy combat are misleading to the public, she
said. Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield families know the war is not
over.

"The morale has hit rock bottom on both sides," she said. "We've got a bunch of angry wives here. I'm one of them."

What families want to know

Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, held a
video teleconference with local media to address concerns about the 3rd
Infantry Division's latest mission in Iraq. Here's a glance at what he said:

Latest mission -- The 2nd Brigade is relocating to Al Fallujah, about 60
miles north of Baghdad to weed out lingering pockets of resistance. The 1st Brigade is staying in Baghdad to continue patrols with the 1st Armored Division. The 3rd Brigade is finishing its transition with the 1st Armored Division and is continuing patrols, but Blount hopes its troops soon will return to Fort Benning. Also, 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry is heading north to work with the 4th Infantry Division.

Redeployment -- No schedule has been established for bringing troops home.
The 3rd Brigade from Fort Benning most likely will be the first brigade to
return because it has been deployed 12 of the last 15 months. Blount will
not hold units in Iraq just so the entire division can be sent home at once.
As soon as a unit is no longer needed, he will ask permission to send it
home. Redeployment decisions are made by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Equipment -- The division's tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles are battle
weary. Working tanks and Bradleys will be taken from the 1st and 3rd Brigades and will be given to the 2nd Brigade so it can move north to Al Fallujah.

Artillery howitzers are being returned to Kuwait. Soldiers in 1st and 3rd
Brigades are conducting patrols in Humvees and trucks. Helicopter demand has slowed since heavy combat ended and many are going through routine maintenance phases. Read: Removing several thousand metric tons of sand from filters

Food and water -- Soldiers received their first fresh meals Thursday. They receive one hot meal a day,What? Like an MRE heater bag? with fresh food being cooked every third day.
Also, there are plenty of the military's Meals, Ready to Eat. Soldiers are
allotted three liters of bottled water a day. They are allowed unlimited
amounts of purified water. Yeah, because MRE's for four f*cking months straight doesn't get old.

Showers -- Field showers and laundry services have been established.OUT-f*ckING-STANDING!

Mail -- Mail service is running and families are encouraged to keep sending letters and packages.

Phones -- Military phone lines are set up, and satellite phones are being
distributed throughout the units. About 30 more should be delivered this
week. Also, the military is working with AT&T to set up a phone bank. Still, there are limited lines available for the nearly 20,000 people who want to call home.

Grossly editorialized to highlight my anger. Oh yeah. We won the war. And when all of our valuable combat veterans leave the service after their terms are up because they're sick of the f*cking bullsh*t, where will we be then? Operations like Haiti, Somalia, and now possibly Iraq can have lots of consequences.

Funny, I seem to recall the former Secretary of the Army bringing this up and then was politely given his walking papers by the Pentagon. Only a month or two after Baghdad''s fall, the situation for our brave men and women on the ground is going from ""untidy"" to FUBARed.

I''d like to point out that some of you should have some historical context. No one said it would work over night. The Iraqi''s are still better off now than they were under Saddam.

"Ulairi" wrote:

I''d like to point out that some of you should have some historical context. No one said it would work over night.

I''m sorry, I didn''t realize that there were roving bands of Nazis and Japanese soldiers picking off Allied troops daily after the war. And I didn''t guess that the hospitals of Berlin and Tokyo were looted. I also didn''t know that Ike and Doug MacArthur were pulled off the job less than two weeks after the took the reins in the former Axis nations. You''re right, you clearly know history more than we do. And apparently, so does the Administration because this is exactly how it happened before.

The Iraqi''s are still better off now than they were under Saddam.

I don''t believe I said anything to the contrary. In fact, it sounds like everything is improving greatly. It sounds like the average Iraqi is getting exactly what he or she needs:

...supervise gas distribution...

There''s nothing like misquoting yourself.

Rather, Ulairi, the point I was trying to make is that anyone who believes we wrapped this whole affair up in record time is sadly mistaken. Clearly, work continues in Baghdad and due to less than satisfactory planning, it will continue for quite some time.

The nature of the military is sacrafice. So crummy food and less than ideal sanitation are not uncommon. That doesn''t bother me, rather what bothers me is that people are all to content with this situation. I read the Early Bird news quite a bit and when I hear stories of company commanders, sergeant majors, and platoon sergeant''s allowing their soldiers to essentially loot what they need that says to me something is terribly wrong. When you see these true professional soldiers and lifers develop a ""f*ck It!"" attitude that''s because they''re getting shafted from above.

I have a real love/hate relationship with the US and its military. I''m proud of what our little country has accomplished in the past and I''m damned proud of our military. I don''t want to see those accomplishments get discarded by those who say they represent what America stands for.

As a little disclaimer, I will continue to do my duty and follow all the lawful orders given to me as long as I''m in the service.

"Rat Boy" wrote:
"Ulairi" wrote:

I''d like to point out that some of you should have some historical context. No one said it would work over night.

I''m sorry, I didn''t realize that there were roving bands of Nazis and Japanese soldiers picking off Allied troops daily after the war. And I didn''t guess that the hospitals of Berlin and Tokyo were looted. I also didn''t know that Ike and Doug MacArthur were pulled off the job less than two weeks after the took the reins in the former Axis nations. You''re right, you clearly know history more than we do. And apparently, so does the Administration because this is exactly how it happened before.

:roll:

There were roving bands of Nazis and JApanese soldiers attacking Allied troops. It happen 2 years after the war in Germany.

Were there mass demonstrations in the streets of Berlin and Tokyo demanding that the US withdraw? Were there various parties in Tokyo vying to take control? Outside of Patton, was there any government official making threats at the Soviet Union?

"Rat Boy" wrote:

Were there mass demonstrations in the streets of Berlin and Tokyo demanding that the US withdraw? Were there various parties in Tokyo vying to take control? Outside of Patton, was there any government official making threats at the Soviet Union?

What is your thesis?

You''re accusation of Reaper and I not putting it into a historical context is faulty. This isn''t World War II, or any of the other ""great"" conflicts of the past. Saddam Hussein is not Adolf Hitler and George W. Bush is not Winston Churchill. This wasn''t some great victory over an enemy that threatened to conquer the world; it was a quick battle to knock over a petty dictator and now the US is left to pick up the pieces of this crumbling mess.

Reminds me of something in Braveheart.

I''ll paraphrase it to make it more concise.

The victor can write history anyway he chooses.

I think that''s all secondary to Reaper''s point, anyway. I think his perspective and concerns about how Americans with first-hand experience are interacting and working in Iraq is far more interesting than the hoary old historical context debate.

Frankly, I appreciate having the kind of mentality Reaper exhibits in the US military. I can tell you from first hand experience that the guy has done his research, and I also get the impression that he is faithful in his duty. But, most important, he has a brain and a concscience.

But, most important, he has a brain and a concscience.

You should get that concscience looked at Reaper, I''ve heard people can lose limbs if they don''t deal with them in time!

...people can lose limbs if they don''t deal with them in time!

I''ve heard that called the ""shoot/no-shoot"" reaction.

Example: We''re playing Raven Shield and Elysium walks through the door. I smoke him, no qualms or moral quibbles what-so-ever. That''s the ""shoot"" reaction.

Now that''s say that Keg, someone who has accidentally TK''d me in the past, walks through the door. I may hesitate, not considering him an imminent threat. That''s the ""no-shoot"" reaction. However, he would still be evaluated as a potential threat because of past incidents.
Those critical micro-seconds in which the ""shoot/no shoot"" decision is made is literally the difference between a normal situation, death, or a full blown international incident.

...Americans with first-hand experience are interacting and working in Iraq...

I was watching a repeat of Daily Show a few mornings ago and they had run a story out of Iraq, which featured a US Army major giving an Iraqi oil engineer a (I''m not joking here) bag of cookies after the engineer reported half a million barrels of oil processed. I just about threw my copy of Military Small Arms, 7th ed. through the television.

But those were homebaked cookies from Wisconsin! Surely those are worth a few hundred thousand oil barrels or so.

We''re playing Raven Shield and Elysium walks through the door. I smoke him, no qualms or moral quibbles what-so-ever. That''s the ""shoot"" reaction.

That''s it! I take back everything nice I''ve ever said about you. You keep up that kind of smack talk, and I''ll start thinking of you in the same disgusted and hateful way I think of Certis.

I just about threw my copy of Military Small Arms, 7th ed. through the television.

Is that the one that explains how the AK47 is manufactured in Tibet by blind monks, or the one with the article ''1001 small objects to use as ammunition when you run out of bullets''.

Oh. I thought you were being sarcastic when you said all that crap. Besides Elysium I would never knowingly kill you. I''ve actually grown quite fond of your hippie, liberal ways. Plus, you''re from MN and not godless Canada.

MSA is pretty much my Bible. While not adressing your bizzare Tibetan blind monk theory, it goes into great detail on many of the various and sundry AK varients in existence.
And RE: the ""small objects"" bit, Ian Hogg, one of the authors, would argue that a submachine gun would be the ideal projectile. He doesn''t think too much of them and views them as a kind of novelty born out of WWII and made obsolete by the small caliber assault rifle.

So, in a R63 mission, he''d pick a supressed M4 over a MP5SD5?

Oh. I thought you were being sarcastic when you said all that crap.

Actually, I wasn''t being sarcastic at all. A rarity for me, I admit.

No. I think Ian Hogg would pick a supressed FN-FAL or L85/SA80. He''s British, you know.
He''s really old school, quite honestly. I''m sure after his experiences in the Korean War, he feels that the larger caliber the better.
He acknowledges the utility of SMG''s but he kind of questions the need for over 25000 different models of them. From what I gathered, he feels that all you need is just a regular MP5 and that''s about it.

Rather, Ulairi, the point I was trying to make is that anyone who believes we wrapped this whole affair up in record time is sadly mistaken. Clearly, work continues in Baghdad and due to less than satisfactory planning, it will continue for quite some time.

I don''t think anyone thought the post-war would go quickly. I thought the war its self would go fast. Building Liberal Democracies take time, I think it is worth that time.

"Ulairi" wrote:
Rather, Ulairi, the point I was trying to make is that anyone who believes we wrapped this whole affair up in record time is sadly mistaken. Clearly, work continues in Baghdad and due to less than satisfactory planning, it will continue for quite some time.

I don''t think anyone thought the post-war would go quickly. I thought the war its self would go fast. Building Liberal Democracies take time, I think it is worth that time.

Hes not arguing about time, but the condition of the soliders in Iraq. The soldiers aren''t being properly cared for and he wants to point that out. Right?

Oh, and several people thought post-war would go quickly, just not anyone on this forum. Most Americans are probably thinking its over and going back to watching American Idol.