News from Baghdad

A small spot to describe to a certain extent what it is like for the soldiers here in Iraq. I must remain anonymous as there may be some who would view this as an "official" posting, however, it is not. Just some personal views on the politics and public views in this war that has been to oftentimes tainted by the sensationalism of the media.

Location: Home, United States

I enjoy my job to the fullest, regardless of the political climate at any particular time. My family and my soldiers are the central focal point of my existence as well as my religious viewpoints.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

30 January 2005

As I write this, my heart is gladdened by the results of today's electoral process in Iraq. As you well know, I am stationed in Baghdad, and the turnout was more than amazing to many of us.
I was awoke this morning to the sounds of explosions throughout the city and steeled myself for a day of possible heavy fighting. As it turned out, this was in no wise the case. We went out on patrol to check on the elections and the voters and ensure that everyone was safe. The Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army did an outstanding job and my heartfelt thanks goes out to each and every one of them, who, as you very well may know, run an incredible risk even calling themselves a policeman or a soldier. Their respect, vigilance and adherence to strict protocols in the search of all voters was in large part a contributing factor in the day's success. I think that without them, this whole day could not have been as successful as it was.

As we were on patrol, an old woman, maybe 70 or 80 years old, came up to me and in broken English, with a slight German tinge to the accent, said, “Everything is going to be alright”. I will never forget those steel blue eyes as they were filled with tears. I imagine that she remembers the days when Iraq was free before Saddam and it is now 50 years later that free elections have been able to be held. It touched me deeply to know that many of the people felt this way today and it made the entire time here well worth the emotional roller coaster many of us have dealt with. Have we eradicated the entire insurgent regime? No, we have not, however, this country, in light of today's events, has shown that it is now ready to join the ranks of the free and to become a country of its own whose people are not afraid of the Fedayeen, the Republican Guard, Iraqi Intelligence or the Police. They will no longer be afraid of the terror formerly meted out by the previous regime. Today is the start of a future that hopefully will not be tainted by much more violence. The violence is sure to ensue, if even for a while, however, the PEOPLE took a stand today against the insurgents, against Zarqawi, against Saddam and his Ba'ath Party, and in one shrill voice shouted “We are free to choose”.

Just since the past couple of days the attitudes of the people have turned nearly 180 degrees. Today there was a joyous air among the majority, cheering, singing, children playing in the streets; not the various glares and insults occasionally shouted, but many “Thank yous”. Today made my heart glad, for men like Babbitt, Burke, Odoms and the 1400 others who have made the ultimate sacrifice have not done so in vain. Their sacrifice and the sacrifices of so many others, including 36 civilians (not counting the 8 bombers), who died today to voice their choice. They too have made a difference and have shown that they will be bullied no longer.
I thank each and every American who has stood behind the soldiers and made much of this possible, not only morally, but even some financially. God bless each and every one of you.

Continue to remember the service men and women still here and on their way, as dark days still are ahead, but now there seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel. At that end, may American and Iraqi alike walk through hand in hand as friend, not foe. To my friends here; all the Shahd's and Asala's, the Ra'ad's, Stevo's, Willie's, Ali's, and many many more, never forget the sacrifices made by so many. Remember the fallen and never take for granted what you have been given. Good night.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

29 January 2005

Once again, I am sorry for my belatedness in my postings. Things have been tight around here and one of the tightest things to be had is time. We all live by time and I feel that 36 hours in a day would not be enough (even though I have had more than one 36 hour day).

I would like everyone to know that I am fine. I have received a couple of disturbing comments on this site, which, whoever you are, I care not one wit. My life is threatened every day I wake up, so this in no wise bothers me. I have been personally targeted on more than one occasion, and came through just fine. You must realize that death is not one of the things that I am afraid of. If God tells me it is time to go, well, then there is absolutely nothing that I can do about it, so why worry? I would have you know, that I am fully capable of handling myself and I have 17 other soldiers at any given time willing to watch my back. In any case, if you are trying to frighten or disuade me in my opinions, go find another person to pick on. Makes no never mind to me.

I have been disheartened this month by the violent killings of innocent people. It has come to the point where now we nearly see more injured and killed local nationals, who are targeted by their own countrymen, than we do soldiers, both American and Iraqi alike. I have a lot of respect for most of the Iraqi soldiers, for they leave their posts, go home, with the very real possibility of never returning to their unit, through no fault of their own. The local national people, however, have no idea when or where it will come. This in itself is an evil which must be wiped from the face of the planet.

Success, however, reigned a few nights ago. I will not go into detail, however, suffice it to say that my men made me proud. Through their observations, we were able to catch and detain a bomber, and found a lot of things that we were able to take off the streets. Those close to me and who know who I am know what I am speaking of. I will not go into it all for security reasons. Yes, the newspapers and CNN reported the unit, however, I shall still remain silent on this point, as there is no use in giving away more than is needed.

Elections are upon us and time is short, so I must close for now. I spent the last 12 hours out and will do it all again tomorrow. God bless each and every one of you and thank you for your support. Even the "trolls" who may wish evil upon me, well, at least you read what I had to say. Oh, and one more thing. Just for you all to know, I do not know who is harassing my wife, but you are wasting your time. I will be HOME in a few short weeks and HOME is where I will stay.

Good night, and again, God bless.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

05 January 2005

As I reflect on the past year, I am faced with the changes in life that have hit so hard in many ways, and yet, have made me a better person, soldier, Non-Commissioned Officer and a leader. Being a man of high ideals, those beliefs have been strengthened through the hardships, trials, blessings and defeats over the past year. I have changed in many ways, and it shall be up to those who know me best to evaluate those changes as either for the good, or for the worse. I only hope that they are mostly for the best. As a soldier, I have experienced things that are only touched on in training. Live fire is one thing, however, one knows not how they will act when it is not an invisible laser that “kills” you in training, but a live bullet zinging past your head, or slamming into the concrete near you. One knows not how they will react when faced with hostile forces who only retain the interest in seeing you pass into the next life. I have realized that the title “Sergeant” is not just a rank that demands respect. It is a position of authority, that if abused, shall only prove the fact that while soldiers may do what you say because they “have” to or because the Sergeant “said so”, they will never, ever give 100% if you are not willing to care for them as soldiers and men, and if you do not give 110% of everything that you have 110% of the time. Leadership is rewarding if done well. I respect each and every one of my men for who they are—Professional Soldiers, willing to do a job and accomplish any task handed to them. They have grown over this year and it will be difficult to leave them upon our return back to the United States. I will always remember this time as one of the best years of my life. Yes, I have lost friends and fellow soldiers, however, I have forged new friendships that will not easily fade into the dark recesses of time. I have made bonds with men, who only 18 months ago, had no idea who I was, what I stood for and if I could do the job—both leadership, and soldiers. I have tried my best to be the best leader possible and do my job the best that I know how. I only hope that in years to come, my men can look back and evaluate me as being a good leader. It is not the senior, but rather the subordinate who rates the leader. A leader is directly reflected in the actions of his soldiers.

As the time begins to wind down and we look toward the day when we shall return to our loved ones, I am faced with the age old problem of “smelling the barn” among the troops. I can only pray that as the time draws closer and closer, that I can keep my men's frame of mind in the right place and we will all go home together, sit around the barbecue and speak of battles won, friendships made, and our future lives. I will truly miss the time that I have spent this year, but there are more soldiers to train and another generation of leaders to mold. I only hope that I can be a part of it for as long as they will have me.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

02 January 2005

Happy New Year to everyone. Time is a commodity which as of late is not plentiful. Christmas came and went, with nothing of consequence. The day was rather depressing, all things said. Normal patrol schedule, dinner alone, listening to the band in the Dining Facility play Christmas songs—nice touch, if I do say so. Since that day there have been many things happen here in theatre, an in our small piece of the country. Shootings, snipings, bombings, rockets and all of this being one heck of a way to ring in the New Year. Due to operational security requirements, I cannot go into many major details, however, suffice it to say that this year promises to be eventful, in the least. The closer it gets to the elections, the more heated the environment becomes. As most of you have already probably read in and heard on the news Al Q'aida is in league, cooperating with, and allied to the Al Sunna (I think that is right), terrorist group. Their main goals being the undermining and blockading of the elections, polling sites and the assassination or threatening of political figures; targeting of any of the local populace seen as cooperating with either the coalition or Iraqi security forces; and all of this wrapped up in a big blanket of terror in that these groups have no regard for anyone in the achievement of their goals. They care not for a free, independent and autonomous country. They care only for their one-sided, narrow-minded ideals of a militant and oppressed country aimed only at the desecration of peace and democracy. Freedom is alien to these criminals and until every last one of them is dealt with as harshly as they seem to deal with their own countrymen, freedom will continue to elude these beleaguered people. It is often times frustrating for the fact of the seeming impotence among some of the people, as I have spoken of before, to step up, take action and take a stand for what is right and for what they believe in. Until the day comes when the common man makes a stand against evil in this place, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness will be a pipe dream to many. I long for the day when the average Iraqi citizen tires of the violence and begin to speak out against that which is wrong.

As some of you already know, through personal e-mails and through family contact, my men and I have had a couple of close calls this past few weeks. My men fought through in fine fashion as not only attests to their character as soldiers, but also as men and brothers, and we are all fine and well. They are willing to take the fight to the enemy and never look back. Onward into the fray right into the teeth of the lion is the way these men operate and I could not be more pleased with them. Be proud of your sons, America. Your security is safe with them.

God bless each and every one of you in the coming year and know that we are on the front lines ensuring the safety and security for generations to follow. I fight because it is right. I am not ashamed of what I have been called upon to do. I will stay this course for as long as it takes to ensure that what happened on that terrible day in 2001, never, ever happens again. Good, night and again, God bless each and every one of you in your endeavors in the coming year. Till next time.

Powered by