June 11, 2007
The Chief and The Commandant
The commandant asks that stories tell themselves. He is overruled by those who rule over stories.
"I never ask you to tell good news stories on our behalf; rather I would just ask that you continue to report objectively. As the fourth estate, you owe that to our fellow Americans."General James Conway, Commandant United States Marine Corps
"This tiny remaining corps of reporters becomes a greater and greater problem for the military brass because we are the only people preventing them from telling the story the way they want it told."James Glanz, Baghdad bureau chief, The New York Times
What the military wants told is the truth. All of it.
Such as these words, spoken by combat commanders, found at the Pentagon's website, and, other than Google, scarcely anywhere else.
"Even in the face of great danger that they face every day, they come back to work. They now see and they now believe in themselves as they're part of -- they are the solution, not the coalition forces. They know that they're the solution for the future.""Our Iraqi partners have sacrificed heavily as well, with losses generally two to three times ours or even more.""it is the Iraqis that are taking the majority of those attacks, not U.S. forces. And I will tell you the Iraqis are being vigilant. They're standing up to these attacks; they're repelling these attacks.""And if they see AO Raleigh as a weak spot and a way that's the path of least resistance, they're in for a very, very unpleasant surprise. I'm very confident in our abilities. I'm very, very confident in the growing abilities of the Iraqis.""Iraqi soldiers and police are martyring themselves to protect all of the people of Iraq.""Yes, violence continues, but the Iraqi security forces, supported by our assistance, continue to prevail. I see growth daily in accomplishments of the provincial government, its leaders, and its security forces.""But the difference in this army and this police is that they're making progress while under fire. Most armies train and go into an operation or war having been trained.""This enemy cannot conduct a full-scale coordinated attack on the Iraqi security forces right now simply because the Iraqi security forces' capability.""in some cases, they will go out on their own, accomplish a mission or a task, find some insurgency, find a cache. And they'll come back and tell us later on. We didn't even know that they were out there executing that mission. That's a powerful statement, and that's huge. And those types of operations was not occurring just six to nine months ago.""Our forces will stand shoulder to shoulder, as we have now for almost four years with the Iraqi security forces, until they no longer need our support.""Kirkuk remains a dangerous place. We see daily IEDs, rocket attacks, kidnappings, murders and drive-by shootings, all used to intimidate the population and keep them out of the political process. Despite this, we see a resilience in the people, dedication on the part of the Iraqi security forces, and overall determination not to let the terrorists succeed.""the greatest successes that are going on in the city of Fallujah right now are completely attributable to the Iraqi police, Colonel Faisal and his police in Fallujah, and Colonel Ali and his Iraqi soldiers there.""It's still a dangerous place. There's a lot of violence every single day. The Iraqi security forces, though, are standing up, and I'm proud of them. We conduct operations every single day partnering side by side with them, and I think we're on the way. I'm very optimistic about the future here.""Yes, there are still problems within the Iraqi security forces -- some sectarian, some manning and some to do with equipping. But progress is being made, and it's steady.""There are some strong and good things going on, but there are obviously loyalty and training problems. But I like the trend. I'm seeing more and more indications that the Iraqi security forces are becoming more capable, more confident and more comfortable in operations."
Can the public tell the truth if it's not told the truth?
"we have certain restraints; they don't. They're willing to blow up children, girls' schools in Kirkuk.""a three-vehicle Iraqi police convoy was pursuing a suspicious vehicle in Haditha. As they drove past a 12- to 14-year old Iraqi boy riding a bicycle, a bomb in the boy's backpack detonated killing him instantly.""We freed 17 kidnap victims from these two locations. Some of them had been severely beaten with chains, cables, and hoses. One of these victims was a 13-year-old boy who had been grotesquely tortured. In addition to being beaten with whips and hoses, he had had electrical wires connected to his tongue, where he had been subjected to repeated shocks.""terrorists in Amiriyah have killed Sunni sheikhs, they've indiscriminately killed innocent people, they have shut down access to banks and other municipal services, and the people in these neighborhoods are now taking a stand to separate themselves from al Qaeda.""funeral processions, markets and mosques as their targets to create the mass casualties.""an adaptive, ruthless and thinking enemy looking to make headlines and undermine stability.""The use of poison gas on innocent Iraqi civilians discredits all of the Sunni extremist propaganda of being, quote, ‘an honorable resistance,' focused on, quote, ‘driving out the infidels.'""The increase in sectarian violence in 2006 following the Samarra Mosque bombing did enormous damage, literally tearing the fabric of Iraqi society, changing the demographics of Baghdad neighborhoods, and displacing millions of Iraqis.""I'm facing three groups of enemy here in AO Raleigh. The largest group, easily 75 percent, if not more, is al Qaeda..""al Qaeda Iraq remains a formidable foe with considerable resilience and a capability to produce horrific attacks, but a group whose ideology and methods have increasingly alienated many in Iraq.""our concern is more foreign fighters coming into Iraq at this point than they are hardened capabilities going out.""They want to go back to the 7th century, and the people of Iraq -- at least what I'm seeing in AO Raleigh on a day-to-day basis -- they don't want that; they want to move forward.""this situation would look very different if it weren't for al Qaeda.""80 to 90 percent of the suicide attacks are carried out by foreigners.""I had a map prepared that basically showed in one color all those countries where al-Qaida had cells, and then in a different color all those that had al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist cells, and then in a third color those that had cells that wanted to be affiliated with al-Qaida but had not yet earned the secret handshake. And it's a lot of countries.""the IED will probably be the feature weapons system that the enemy will attempt to use against us"
Troops see Iraq's enemies as America's enemies; the bureau chief does not.
"this is personal. Sergeant Major Coleman has a brother that is getting ready to deploy into Iraq. My director of Administration and Personnel has a son in Iraq. My director of the Rapid Equipping Force has a son that is headed into Iraq. We take this personally. In fact, one-third of the general officers in the United States Army have either a son or a daughter either in theater today or has been to theater, so it is a matter of great import to us.""I am a soldier; and our country is at war. It is my privilege to serve.""They astound me every day with their agility, lethality and compassion. And we will continue the work to drive a wedge between the insurgents and the population in partnership with the Iraqi army and police.""it makes me proud to command this group of 4,000-plus soldiers here in Nineveh province. And the morale is extremely high here. These soldiers care 100 percent about what they're doing.""every day in this fight we'll have successes mixed with disappointments. So we must take the long view on this. But the successes we're achieving are testimony to those superb young Americans serving in harm's way, and they deserve our continuous thanks and prayers.""we will respond when it's in our nation's vital interest. If there's any doubt about that, I think the world is probably a less safe place.""This region - where America has vital national interests - will not succeed if Iraq and Afghanistan do not succeed, and the U.S. plays a vital role in this cause.""it's going to get harder before it gets easier.""Our commanders are fully aware that as they apply pressure in a certain place that it will sometimes result in the movement of the threat to somewhere else.""we're all tired of Iraqis dying. We're tired of Americans dying.""despite the extreme heat -- I think today we're around 112 (degrees); I heard somebody say 123 -- often periods of little to no sleep, they eagerly step out the gate and take the fight to the enemy. And even when they take a loss, they haven't lost their determination. And what makes me proud of them is that they know what they're stepping into, and they're eager to get out there and do it.""our Marines and our soldiers, our sailors and our airmen in the theater see incremental progress on a daily basis and they want to be able to sustain that progress because they want to be able to succeed and come out with our credibility high"
The commandant believes "the truth shall set you free." The bureau chief replies, "I am the truth."