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A Labor Day Palace Update

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Mudville Gazette has a great round-up of stories on the president’s visit to Iraq.  My friend Colonel Marc sends along a Labor Day report from inside the Green Zone:

Hello Everyone,
It is Labor Day and I hope that you are all enjoying some quality time with your families and having a great 3 day weekend.  For those of you who drink beer have one for me.  While I am in the office and monitoring our operations the tempo this weekend is very slow and it is quiet here today.  I am now well under 90 days and my time is winding down rapidly.  I am beginning to prepare for my redeployment.  While it is still early and I have pleny of work to accomplish I am looking foreward to the time I go home.
Two weeks ago I had an opportunity to travel outside the wire to Anbar Provance and accompany an Iraqi Government official on a trip.  As it turns out that weekend we were so busy we could only send one soldier as secort.  I told the planners that we need to have at least two soldiers go.  Well after we reviewed what everyone was doing it turns out that I was the only soldier who was not doing something critical so I grabbed my body armor and an M 16 and flew out to a small provincial town out west.  It was about 125 degrees out there and I ended up standing a post on the roof of the house we were in for about a half hour.  Then I had to go in and cool off and drink water.  I came as close as ever to becoming a heat casuality.  I have a much greater appreciation of what out great and dedicated soldiers go through on a routine day out in the towns on patrol.  While I was out there, all was quiet and we had a company of Marines posted in the town also providing security.  Our mission was accomplished and we returned in the early evening.  It was a change for once in my normal routine.  If necessary I will go again.  I just hope it is a little cooler next time.
  The situation here is much quieter the number of attacks are down and casualties are down with the exception of a few spectrular attacks.  Coalition casulities are thankfully way down.  We have also recognized the role that Iran is playing in supplying and funding the secterian violence and trying to bring down the government.  We are confronting that issue and limiting the ability of the terrorists to use IEDs. The Iraqi Army is becoming stronger, larger and undertaking more and complicated operations.  Many of the terrorist leadership have been captured and killed.  This has weakened the ability of Al Oaeda and smaller groups to continue the extensive and complicated attacks.  We have also seen an increase in the cooperation of the Tribal Sheiks in which they are taking back their areas and driving out the terrorists.  Now this does not mean that we will not see more spectular and high casuality attacks.  When there are fanatics willing to commit suicide and blow themselves up and any one else around them there will be continued attacks.  [# More #]
Another recent development is the annoucement by Sader for the Madahi Army or JAM to stand down and even stop attacking the Coalition.  Now we dont know how effectively JAM will follow his orders.  The Saderists are very splintered and not always taking commands from any one.  However this annoucement comes after their attack on the Holy sites around Karbla in which many civilians were hurt and JAM was trying to carry arms in to the sacred Mosques.  It was the forces of the Iraqi Government that stopped this and drove the JAM terrorists out of the city.  The public saw this and the backlash aganist JAM has been significant.  Sader is trying to moderate the public backlash and trying to gain control of the Saderists called for the ceasefire.  This act of his is one of weakness.  It will in the long run cut into his ability to carry on his undermining of the Government.  It remains to be seen if the violence will abate, however we think it will.
These are measurable changes for the better in Iraq, demonstrating the effectiveness of the Surge.  Whether or not it continues is dependent upon a variety of events, including our continued interdiction of outside support, the cooperation of the population and their leaders, the increasing effectiveness of the Iraqi Security forces, our continued presence, and the effectiveness of the Iraqi Governemnt.
  The last is probably the biggest question.  Will the government gain effective control and solve the problems of this country.  It is a big question.  However we are seeing some improvement in cooperation, some increase in discussions among the sects, and they are coming off their August recess and will address some of the critical issues we are demanding that they resolve.  However I  want you to remember that this is a sovreign government that we do not control.  From my point of view we advise, we suggest, we support, and we tell them when we are not satisified with their actions, but this is not a puppet governemnt.  They make their own decisions.  We are not controlling or running roughshod over the government.  They make their own decisions good or bad.  However the GAO grading of this governemnt by our Congress does anger me a little.  Many in Congress are now labeling the Government a failure and calling for the ouster of the elected PM.  This is not helpful and is flies in the face of all the principles that we profess about self determination.  We dont have a say about the decisions of the Iraqi Electorate whether we agree or not.  The other thing that really gets me is the failing grade slapped on the GOI by our Congressmen.  Only 3 of 18 measurable items are counted as successful, even though the Adminstration had many more as successes.  But what if we applied the same standards to our congress,  A congress that has a history of over 200 years, a congress that has many experienced memberes who have served for decades, what would their grade be.  Have they solved the tax problem, the tort problem, the health care problem.  Have they even addressed seriously the immigration problem, and there are many, many more failures of our elected, long existing and experienced congress.  In my opinion they fail.  Yet they grade a fledgling elected government trying to form a united country after decades of oppression during war and mark it a failure.  Where is their support for an allied government that we helped launch.  What great words of wisdom and significant examples do they provide, none.  We are out here trying to do the impossible and making headway and our elected officials undercut us at every turn.  We pull out and all the success, all the progress made will disappear in intentionally incited secterian violence supported as much from outside Iraq as from inside. Success in the Middle East and in the War on terror is centered on success in Iraq right now.  This is the battlefield chosen by our enemies not us.  We fight here becasue they come here to over throw an elected government to kill Americans and to try to create another radical Islamic state from which to grow and attack Wastern Civilization and Western Nations.
Well thank you all for putting up with my views and long posts.  I believe all I say.  Now it is chow time a highlight of the day.  For those concerned about my daily cigar, much to the dislike of my wife, I am still taking my cigar break.  I go up to the 1430 hours group where we smoke and solve all the worlds problems every afternoon. One of the other highlights of my day.  The third is to go to the gym.  Well now to go to the chow hall and then talk to Alice my wife for an hour or so, also a highlight for every day.  Thanks for your support and prayers.  See you in Dec.
Fighting Irish War Dog


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