Battle Blog 11 - 17 July 2004

The mainstream press is in its normal operating mode, focusing on every negative situation in Iraq, while ignoring the tremendous success stories coming out of both Iraq and Afghanistan.  This week's Battle Blog, as always, will continue to inform American Thinker readers by highlighting these stories that never seem to make it past the major press filters

In Iraq, the problem continues to be the typical terrorist tactics of car bombings and the taking of hostages.  The Iraqi Justice Minister was the target of a car bomb on July 17.  The minister was unhurt, but four of his bodyguards were killed in the attack.  A car bomb also killed 10 Iraqi civilians in Haditha on July 16th.  It appears the terrorists and former member of Saddam's military have reverted to their true selves.  Unable to directly confront forces of the Coalition and Iraqi security units, they resort to the killing of civilians and the taking and beheading of innocent hostages.  Remember, this is how the armies of Saddam defined themselves as being among the 'elite.'

Afghanistan is now entering a crucial time, as general elections approach in September.  Efforts are ongoing to ensure that all who desire to vote are registered, and are able to vote without fear of coercion and reprisal.  The people of Afghanistan will finally have a voice after suffering through decades of tyranny and violence.

Many Americans have read about the exploits of the 1st Armored Division, 'Old Ironsides,' in press accounts.  However, a good summary is presented in Iron Soldiers: Mission Complete  by the 1st Armored Division Public Affairs Team.  The division was on its way to Kuwait to return to its home stations in Germany, when Muqtada al—Sadr's militia began their uprising in southern Iraq.  Literally turning on a dime, the division marched back to Iraq and dealt Sadr's militia a series of death blows.  The article somewhat downplays the division's accomplishments in these battles.  It is estimated that the division, and its attachments, killed several thousand militiamen while restoring stability to over 17,000 square kilometers of the southern region encompassing the cities of Kut, Najaf, and Karbala.  Maj. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the division's Commanding General, said, "When our nation needed us, we were there.  We did our duty with courage, discipline, and determination.  We lived up to our name——Iron Soldiers!"

Combat is always a very personal experience, and after a series of battles in Afghanistan some weeks ago that put the Taliban on their heels, we are finally hearing about the individual perceptions of the engagements.  In 22nd MEU combat veterans recall close calls, Marines and Sailors recount their experiences in the firefights in south and central Afghanistan.  For example, Petty Officer 2nd Class Brian Dessel, a Navy corpsman, serving with Battalion Landing Team 1/6th Marines, can thank the miracle of Kevlar for saving his life.  While rendering first aid to a wounded Marine, P.O. Dressel 'felt his head knocked to the side, as if he'd been slapped in the helmet.  After the battle subsided, Dessel examined his Kevlar helmet and found a tear where a bullet had struck his helmet and glanced off, tearing the cloth helmet cover.  Dessel immediately wrote the date of the battle on the helmet, 'June 8th 2004.''

A CENTCOM news release describes the efforts of the Coalition to help with voter registration in the Khowst Province of Afghanistan.  Staff Sgt. Jeff Troth of the 1st Battalion of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, describes how the infantrymen routinely visit the voter registration sites to ensure Taliban remnants do not disrupt the elections process.  Coalition forces have been extremely successful in this operation since out of the country's 10 million eligible voters 'more than 6 million——one—third of them women——have done so already.'

Since the topic of free elections is so important to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, it is obviously no less important to our service men and women who are overseas sacrificing all to give that right to those who have been oppressed for decades.  In the last US general election, some candidates claimed they wanted to count every vote, yet discounted the absentee ballots of the very same people who guarantee that right for all US citizens.  In Postal initiative to speed absentee ballots to Soldiers, we learn that the Department of Defense and the US Postal Service have teamed up to ensure that absentee ballots are properly labeled and are expedited though the APO/FPO at San Francisco, Miami, and New York.  In addition, to preclude any 'disqualification' of the completed ballots upon return to the US, 'DoD's Military Postal System ....will ensure they receive a proper, legible postmark upon return, and will place them in easily identifiable containers.  The ballots will then receive priority processing for delivery back to county election officials.'  For decades, absentee ballots have never been given proper due process in elections.  Kudos to DoD and the USPS in their hard work to ensure that our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines' voices are heard in the next election.

The mainstream press is in its normal operating mode, focusing on every negative situation in Iraq, while ignoring the tremendous success stories coming out of both Iraq and Afghanistan.  This week's Battle Blog, as always, will continue to inform American Thinker readers by highlighting these stories that never seem to make it past the major press filters

In Iraq, the problem continues to be the typical terrorist tactics of car bombings and the taking of hostages.  The Iraqi Justice Minister was the target of a car bomb on July 17.  The minister was unhurt, but four of his bodyguards were killed in the attack.  A car bomb also killed 10 Iraqi civilians in Haditha on July 16th.  It appears the terrorists and former member of Saddam's military have reverted to their true selves.  Unable to directly confront forces of the Coalition and Iraqi security units, they resort to the killing of civilians and the taking and beheading of innocent hostages.  Remember, this is how the armies of Saddam defined themselves as being among the 'elite.'

Afghanistan is now entering a crucial time, as general elections approach in September.  Efforts are ongoing to ensure that all who desire to vote are registered, and are able to vote without fear of coercion and reprisal.  The people of Afghanistan will finally have a voice after suffering through decades of tyranny and violence.

Many Americans have read about the exploits of the 1st Armored Division, 'Old Ironsides,' in press accounts.  However, a good summary is presented in Iron Soldiers: Mission Complete  by the 1st Armored Division Public Affairs Team.  The division was on its way to Kuwait to return to its home stations in Germany, when Muqtada al—Sadr's militia began their uprising in southern Iraq.  Literally turning on a dime, the division marched back to Iraq and dealt Sadr's militia a series of death blows.  The article somewhat downplays the division's accomplishments in these battles.  It is estimated that the division, and its attachments, killed several thousand militiamen while restoring stability to over 17,000 square kilometers of the southern region encompassing the cities of Kut, Najaf, and Karbala.  Maj. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the division's Commanding General, said, "When our nation needed us, we were there.  We did our duty with courage, discipline, and determination.  We lived up to our name——Iron Soldiers!"

Combat is always a very personal experience, and after a series of battles in Afghanistan some weeks ago that put the Taliban on their heels, we are finally hearing about the individual perceptions of the engagements.  In 22nd MEU combat veterans recall close calls, Marines and Sailors recount their experiences in the firefights in south and central Afghanistan.  For example, Petty Officer 2nd Class Brian Dessel, a Navy corpsman, serving with Battalion Landing Team 1/6th Marines, can thank the miracle of Kevlar for saving his life.  While rendering first aid to a wounded Marine, P.O. Dressel 'felt his head knocked to the side, as if he'd been slapped in the helmet.  After the battle subsided, Dessel examined his Kevlar helmet and found a tear where a bullet had struck his helmet and glanced off, tearing the cloth helmet cover.  Dessel immediately wrote the date of the battle on the helmet, 'June 8th 2004.''

A CENTCOM news release describes the efforts of the Coalition to help with voter registration in the Khowst Province of Afghanistan.  Staff Sgt. Jeff Troth of the 1st Battalion of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, describes how the infantrymen routinely visit the voter registration sites to ensure Taliban remnants do not disrupt the elections process.  Coalition forces have been extremely successful in this operation since out of the country's 10 million eligible voters 'more than 6 million——one—third of them women——have done so already.'

Since the topic of free elections is so important to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, it is obviously no less important to our service men and women who are overseas sacrificing all to give that right to those who have been oppressed for decades.  In the last US general election, some candidates claimed they wanted to count every vote, yet discounted the absentee ballots of the very same people who guarantee that right for all US citizens.  In Postal initiative to speed absentee ballots to Soldiers, we learn that the Department of Defense and the US Postal Service have teamed up to ensure that absentee ballots are properly labeled and are expedited though the APO/FPO at San Francisco, Miami, and New York.  In addition, to preclude any 'disqualification' of the completed ballots upon return to the US, 'DoD's Military Postal System ....will ensure they receive a proper, legible postmark upon return, and will place them in easily identifiable containers.  The ballots will then receive priority processing for delivery back to county election officials.'  For decades, absentee ballots have never been given proper due process in elections.  Kudos to DoD and the USPS in their hard work to ensure that our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines' voices are heard in the next election.