An Explanation

September 30, 2007

I know that many of you are probably wondering what happened to the post that I had up yesterday about Marcus Luttrell appearing at the Texas Book Festival in November. Prior to posting the story yesterday, I sent a preview of it to Marcus’s father. After doing some research on the moderator and on the events for the remainder of the day, Marcus and his father began to have some serious doubts about what was going to take place. When looking at the Texas Book Fair schedule for the First United Methodist Church Sanctuary for November 3rd, it was obvious that the entire schedule was filled with a decidely anti-war sentiment, from the moderator, to the author appearing with Marcus to the book reviews to follow. Marcus, after consulting with Governor and Mrs. Perry decided that they didn’t want to take part in this type of agenda and have thus decided to cancel Marcus’s appearance at the Texas Book Festival.

We’ll be sure to keep everyone abreast as events for Marcus are scheduled.

Hotel Camp Fallujah

September 30, 2007

You gotta love these videos from our Troops. This video shows, that despite the things they’re encountering in Iraq, they still manage to hang on to their sense of humor. I must say, that whoever the vocalist is, that he should continue singing, because he does a pretty good rendition of Hotel California.

Creating A Safe Place For Iraq’s Future

September 30, 2007

The children in Iraq, just like children here in the United States are full of energy and always ready to play. Because areas for children to play in have been damaged by ongoing violence, many children resorted to playing soccer in alleyways or running amongst the cars parked on the street, playing tag. Just like here in the United States, the streets and alleys aren’t the safest places for children to be playing, and many parents hesitated to allow their children to do so. For the children in Tisin, which is an ethnically mixed neighborhood located northwest of Kirkuk, there wasn’t a safe place for them to play. That recently changed, when local government leaders working with Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division’s 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the Iraqi Army’s 4th Division decided to work together and change that.

Two small girls are among the first children to enjoy one of several swings at the new Tisin Playground in Kirkuk, Iraq. The playground - the result of a joint project involving local government, 25th Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team and the Iraqi Army’s 4th Division - opened Sept. 24th. (US ARmy photo by Sgt. Mike Alberts)

On September 24th a ribbon cutting was held at a new playground that is complete with swings, slides and play towers. The idea originated almost as an afterthought at a joint Iraqi security and coalition force leaders meeting. The result is a brand new playground that addressed an immediate concern for the citizens of the community of Tisin and it serves as a shining symbol of progress and hope for the citizens of the area.

“During a meeting after a combat operation, someone remarked, ‘Now the children of Kirkuk can play in the streets,’ referencing the improved security situation,” recalled US Army Lt Col James D. Hess, battalion commander of 325th Brigade Support Battalion, 3IBCT. “In response, an Iraqi Army commander said, ‘Yes but children shouldn’t have to play in the streets.’”

Hess recalls observing the exchange and keeping that exchange sticking in the back of his mind.

“I thought, ‘OK, here’s something that my battalion, the brigade’s support battalion, and the one without a direct combat role, can become involved in to offer hope for Iraq’s future generation,’” said Hess. “It’s the children who will lead this country out of despair; it’s the children that will carry this country beyond sectarian strife.”

Four months later, when conditions seemed improved enough for this type of project to succeed, Hess then contacted the brigade’s civil affairs officer and eventually even Army Captain Justin Gorkowski and the Iraqi Army’s 4th Division got involved. Gorkowski who works in an Iraqi Army compound located at the outskirts of Kirkuk, devotes his time to training and mentoring the 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army’s civil affairs staff.

“The playground is very important,” said Major Zyad Junade, civil affairs officer, 2-4 Iraqi Army.

Junade and his staff then drafted a proposal for the project and presented it to the local government officials for their approval. He also was instrumental in finding an appropriate location for the project and worked closely with Kirkuk’s Director of Municipalities to do so.

This project will have not only an immediate impact on the community but a lasting one. The playground is located near many houses in the neighborhood as well as the largest orphanage in Kirkuk. The playground is part of a larger park project that will eventually include gardens, lighted walkways and have 24 hour security present.

“Ultimately, it was placed in a neighborhood where the people need to see their government and the Iraqi Security focusing on winning the support of the local population by providing the community with core essential services, among other things. The playground project didn’t really fall under our traditional model, but it was still something that we thought would be very effective,” said Gorkowski. “These types of projects are critical to defeating an insurgency. A family will look at this as much more valuable than security forces coming to their home in the middle of the night and asking them if they have seen any bad guys.”

This is a wonderful project which most definitely is something that will not only provide safety for the children in the community, but also show the citizens that their government and Coalition Forces are invested in the future of their country, because they are investing in the children, who are the future of Iraq. One look at the photo and the sheer joy on the faces of those two little girls, says a whole lot about the value a project like this has to a community such as the Tisin neighborhood of Kirkuk.

Defend America

Peaceful Demonstration In Rashid

September 29, 2007

A few short years ago in Iraq, when Saddam was still in power, scenes like this would never be allowed to happen. The citizens would be too frightened of the repercussions, were they to do something like that. If they hadn’t experienced the horrors that awaited someone who did something that Saddam didn’t like, they knew someone who had. They don’t have that worry any longer and it’s a huge relief to many Iraqi citizens.

Today however, the citizens feel comfortable taking to the streets and demonstrating in a peaceful manner, as was evidenced on September 26th, in the West Rashid District of Baghdad. The demonstrators, numbering between 600-1000 people, marched throught the streets of Saydiyah in the morning hours, holding signs that showed their support and approval of the ongoing reconciliation that is occurring in the area. The banners said: “The Baghdad Brigade is the best evidence for the brotherhood between Shia and Sunni.”

Toops from Company C, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment “Vangards” were on-hand and observed the event. Their presence was to ensure that the people in attendance were able to express their opinions without incident.

“A peaceful demonstration on the streets of Saydiyah is one of the most powerful symbols of a growing democracy there is,” said Col. Ricky D. Gibbs, commander of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. “Seeing the citizens marching in support of the Iraqi Security Volunteers serves as an important reminder of the positive impact the SISV are making in Rashid and how far the security situation there has come in recent weeks.”

As often as we hear the anti-war protestors claim that the Iraqi people don’t want us in their country, I wonder how they would explain this blatant show of support for the Iraqi Security Forces and the reconciliation that is occurring in their neighborhoods? It’s obvious to me, that there are many Iraqis who are supportive of our efforts in their country and the possibilities for a free society our Troops are helping to bring to their neighborhoods.

1st Cavalry Division Daily Charge, September 28, Page 1

7 Year Old Boy Singing Our National Anthem

September 28, 2007

This little boy has an awesome voice and does a fantastic job at paying tribute to our Nation. He performed this song at the opening of a local college basketball game. Unfortunately, some of the players didn’t show as much respect for our country as this little boy did. Special thanks to one of our readers for bringing this to my attention (you know who you are)!

A Supporter’s Perspective

September 28, 2007

I know that there have been some tough arguments in the past here in our threads about whether you can support our soldiers on the battlefield without actually being pro-war. Many have come to accept this as reality including the President himself. However, opinions couldn’t possibly diverge into more directions than this debate has; but seriously, can one support the troops without being in support of this war? I definitely think so. 

One great example of this would be professional wrestler, Mick Foley, a long time anti-war activist who supports the USO.  I personally came to grips with the reality of this when I was about five years old, watching my parents support the troops but never being in favor of any war. I guess the “hippy summer of love generation” that they are a part of, has something to do with why they always oppose military action. Despite the fact that I often disagree with their political stance, this is something I have come to respect.

However, cases like the one with my parents, who actually support the troops while being anti-war and don’t just say they do to score political one-upsmanship, are very rare. As much as the slogan “Support the Warrior, not the war” has become a fad of the modern “Summer Of Love Crowd”, one would have to question if they really support the troops. Quiet frankly, I think despite being anti-war and a troop supporter myself, I honestly doubt the anti-war crowd that we see today standing outside of the White House holding picket signs, yelling at Generals who are giving assessments on how things are going on the ground with our men and women in uniform, are really supporting these brave Americans.

Can they really say that they support the troops, or do they only support the troops who come to join them on their side of the debate? Accusing our military of being the sole entity responsible for the way the world cannot get along with each other without drawing their guns and filling the carcasses of innocent bystanders with bullets from assault rifles, really does not sound like support to me. What if a soldier who comes back to the home life as a civilian and he gets told he’s been a shill for people like the Halliburton Corporation because he killed so that they could steal construction appropriations? Even if this soldier had seen the donated money we gave to Iraq for construction actually go to construction programs, can they really say they support him when they talk to him like that and choose to ignore him when he rebuttles?

If the soldiers who say that the United States is over there just to commit atrocities, get all the media attention, and the one’s who disagree with this particular soldier get completely ignored, is this supporting the soldiers, or just supporting the soldiers who take the same perspective as someone’s agenda? It sounds more like attacking the soldiers than supporting them to me. It also sounds more like denying them a voice in one of the most important debates of this crucial decade in our history as a country. When they are not allowed on news programs, to voice their opinions in contrast with the ones who accuse our soldiers of crimes against humanity, that isn’t supporting the troops.

If their families who may disagree with the anti-war crowd’s respective opinion get invited to shows like Montel just to get most of their most valid replies to anti-war folks present edited out of the final version aired, then that isn’t supporting the troops.

Can they really say they support our military when they falsely claim that the Iraqis hate our troops (not considering their take on the subject) when these Iraqis no matter how poor they are help these soldiers as much as they can? Often times our troops are invited to weddings, dinners, parties, for tea, and to be a part of classroom activities.  Iraq is among the 11 countries that our troops operate in the Middle East whose people have been one of the reasons why we have killed or captured 87 percent of Al Qaeda’s fighters. They helped us catch them, by reporting to us if they felt something was out of line in their neighborhoods. Many times these facts were left unchecked by those opposed to this war.

I fully understand that they have rights to express the way they feel. However, there is such thing as crossing the line and asserting one’s freedom to such an extent that it violates the rights of those who disagree is crossing the line. Not only do the soldiers that the anti-war crowd agrees with get all the money, spotlight, and attention, but their colleagues who disagree with them get shoved back into the darkness, a prime example of  a violation of the rights of your opposition. What about the fact that anti-war special interest groups like CodePink take their politics to the extreme of hurting these soldiers who disagree with them?

CodePink’s leader and founder(I guess) Jodie Evans, admitted that she and her group supported the insurgents and Al Qaeda in Iraq in launching their attacks. Moreover, they gave material support to terror organizations in Fallujah, Iraq. Literally, giving about 600,000 dollars to insurgents. I wonder if any of them know that while U.S. troops and their allies are fighting terror organizations, rebuilding the country, trying to deliver humanitarian supplies, and trying to sustain the peace, that these insurgents are putting bombs in schools, buying guns from the black market, using innocent people as sheilds, and probably shooting propelled explosives at market places. I guess this is the new way to support our brave soldiers?

Okay, let me reiterate what I had said earlier. You can support the men and women in uniform and be anti-war. Some of the friends that CJ made while being at the Gathering Of Eagles counter protest I’m sure were not in favor of the war. Some of them were in fact not sure if we should have gone there in the beginning, despite thinking we ought to finish this fight for the sake of Iraq’s future. However, I strongly doubt that all the people who are anti-war really supported our soldiers despite the fact that they consistently repeat themselves on this topic.

The fact that the modern anti-war crowd supports the enemy with cash, and ignores the soldiers who disagree with them, validate my suspicions. I wouldn’t feel supported if I had come back from Iraq and stood next to my buddy’s bed at Walter Reed Army Hospital and saw them give their phony support with Sunday vigils while telling me what the people I had associated with during deployment think about me, only to be shut down when it was my turn to talk just for disagreeing with them. I would also feel like I wasn’t supported by these people when they paid for the bombs that injured my friends Iraqi and American alike.

I am sorry, but we’ll just have to leave this debate at this. We agree to disagree, there is no such thing as victory in war and even if we win, veterans will still miss the men they fought side by side with, they will weep for the dead, they will miss the Iraqis that died because they had failed to save them, and everyone from there-on will experience loss because that’s war. However, we are “pushed to the wall” as Jodie Evans puts it to define victory. Because the anti-war crowd demands it even when they aren’t willing to contribute to their end of the haul. Either way, don’t equate yourself to be true supporters of our men and women in uniform under the circumstances I had presented in this post, because they contradict the bullshit your bullshit artists masks themselves with. Although, I wouldn’t blame you for that last statement regarding masking yoursleves, I think it would be hard to look at myself too if I was one of you!

Airmen Earns A Bronze Star For Valor

September 28, 2007

In Ebrahimkhel, Afghanistan on August 8th, 2006 Senior Airmen Philip King encountered an insurgent attack on his convoy while serving with the Qalat Provincial Reconstruction Team. King was driving a security forces humvee when his convoy was attacked with a rocket propelled grenade which landed abou five meters from the humvee that he was in. This RPG was just the opening salvo, what was to come would be a harsher test. After the RPG attack,  gunfire from at least five machine guns hailed at the convoy from a house about three hundred meters away from the convoy’s present six.

From here, Airmen King’s training came into play. To cover his team from enemy fire, he drove the armored vehicle to cover. He then used his M4 Carbine Rifle, and his M203 40 millimeter grenade launcher to help lay down suppressing fire on the enemy’s position. Then another RPG attack came landing closer to him than the first. Since he was out of his armored vehicle, this attack left him with a concussion. This didn’t stop Airmen King from getting back into the fight. He then exposed himself to enemy fire to distract the insurgents so that his team can get to a superior firing position. The hostiles were taken out with a hand grenade thrown by an Afghan Soldier. He then went back to his vehicle to drive his team out of the danger zone. On the drive to get the hell outta dodge, his vehicle was being sniped at from rooftops.

Looking down the road he saw another ambush that was being set. The insurgents had repositioned to continue firing at the convoy. At the same time, to add to the pressure, five Afghan troops were pinned down by enemy fire. He then went to protect them and opened a hole for escape. On that day, King saved the lives of his men and Afghan soldiers without a single casualty while taking a heavy expense at himself risking his life by exposing himself to multiple shots. It is his selflessness and bravery that have earned him one of America’s highest honors, and that is the Bronze Star with a “V” device for Valor.

*If you want to read more on this, please visit the Centcom News article at their site.

Cleaning Up The Streets … One IED At A Time

September 28, 2007

As with most Soldiers that we have the opportunity to speak with, Sgt. Nicholas Denning is pretty nonchalant when lavished with praise and attention. Sgt. Denning, like most of our Troops, just feel like they’re doing their job and not doing anything special. They don’t want any special attention for doing that job. Just the knowledge that those of us here at home support them, while they do their job.

The Soldiers in Company A, Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, nicknamed the “Assassins” take their work very seriously. They currently lead all companies in Baghdad with 48 IEDs found, which is more than double the numbers of any other unit.

Sgt. Nicholas Denning checking the mechanical arm on his Husky prior to a mission
(photo by Maj. Sean Ryan 2nd IBCT, 2 Inf Div, PAO)

Sgt Nicholas Denning recently was chosen as a driver for a 3rd Husky, which is one of the most critical jobs for clearing IEDs from the streets of Baghdad. How was he chosen to be the 3rd driver you might ask. The old fashioned method of course, that good old stand-by of “rock, paper, scissors.” While that might sound like a joke, the method was chosen because there were so many Soldiers in the unit qualified for the job.

Sgt. Denning takes his job seriously, so much so that he alone is responsible for finding almost 70% of the IEDs that his unit has been credited with. To date, he’s located an amazing 22 IEDs and thus saved countless lives of US Soldiers, Iraqi Forces as well as the lives of innocent Iraqi citizens.

This isn’t the first time that Sgt. Denning has been deployed to Iraq, during his 7 years in the Army. He initially was working as a Buffalo operator. A Buffalo is another type of mine-clearing vehicle. Denning has over 300 missions to his credit and is currently serving his 3rd deployment in Iraq. Two of those were while he was Active Duty and one was when he was a member of the Iowa National Guard. So, you could say that Sgt. Denning is an “old hat” at this type of mission.

Sgt. Nicholas Denning conducting vehicle checks prior to going on a mission
(photo by Maj. Sean Ryan, 2nd IBCT, 2nd Inf Div PAO)

“The success comes from paying close attention to detail and never underestimating the enemy,” Denning said. “It also comes from knowing your equipment, the threat and great leadership,” he said.

Denning is quick to not take credit for himself and equally quick to point out that clearing the streets of IEDs isn’t a one person job and maintains that it’s a team effort and due to the constant training his platoon and company receive from his leadership, that ensures every Soldier knows and understands the battlefield they’re faced with.

“It’s also about not being afraid to stop the entire convoy if you think you see something,” he said. “Sometimes it’s worth the wait, but you can’t expect to find something every time.”

According to his company commander, Captain Robert Gordon, Sgt. Denning is an outstanding Soldier and has a vast and varied background from previous deployments, which according to Capt. Gordon is different from everyone else’s. He was quick to agree though, that success comes from the effort of everyone pulling together as a team.

“The Soldiers can tell you everything about the vehicle’s capabilities and what to look for on the streets,” said Gordon. “On one level Sgt. Denning is no different than any other Soldier we have. Everyone has to pay attention to detail. But he is the lead guy and has a lot of pressure on him to navigate, push traffic and keep everyone else aware. I’m very happy we have such seasoned NCOs. His record of finding IEDs speaks for itself,” he said.

The job that Sgt. Denning and his fellow Soldiers does is indeed no easy task. Despite the risks associated with his job, Sgt. Denning credits the support of his family at home and good equipment, to helping him be able to continue his work and remain focused.

“My family is real supportive and happy for all of our successes,” he said. “Without a doubt, the Army has supplied us with great equipment and the opportunity to save lives by conducting route clearance,” added Denning.

Dedicated Soldiers such as Sgt. Denning, are the type of men and women that we have serving our country. They take pride in their work and do it to the best of their ability. The bravely go about their days, knowing full well that one misstep could mean their death; yet they continue to proudly do what they do. I for one am thankful that we have such dedicated professionals serving in our countrys Armed Forces.

1st Cavalry Division, Crossed Sabers October 1, 2007 edition, page 20

It’s Time Their Voices Are Heard…

September 27, 2007

The media often delights in highlighting stories about veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, that are against the war in Iraq. They don’t have a problem parading around people like Scott Beauchamp and others who falsely accuse our Troops of committing atrocities. They give credence to blatant liars. They don’t have a problem telling us about the ones who participate in the anti-troop groups such as ANSWER or Code Pink. Yet, it’s not often that they let us hear from the many more who are or have served in those countries, who feel it is necessary for us to remain in Iraq and complete the mission. It’s not often that they tell the story of the Wounded Warriors who are fighting to recuperate as quickly as they can, so that they can rejoin their brothers and sisters in arms, who are still in the fight. The other day, I ran across two pieces by Soldiers who explained their views on the war in Iraq and why they feel we should remain there to finish the job we started. I’d like to share them with you.

Why I want to keep fighting in Iraq
A US soldier gives his perspective on the war.

By Chris Brady

Despite strong public appeals by Gen. David Petraeus and President Bush this month, American views on the Iraq war remain dim. The latest Pew survey shows that 54 percent say US troops should come home as soon as possible, while 47 percent believe the US will probably or definitely fail to achieve its goals in Iraq. Many experts and politicians, meanwhile, have suggested the war can’t be won.

I am a US soldier in Iraq. And I disagree. It’s not too late to succeed. The stakes in Iraq are too high not to keep fighting for progress.

As a National Guardsman serving on a Provincial Reconstruction Team, I’ve seen what is working on the ground in Kirkuk, a city in northern Iraq.

In Kirkuk, just as in any American city, people go about their daily business attempting to provide for their families. The only difference is that in Kirkuk (and throughout much of Iraq), there is a small but extremely violent segment determined to deny citizens any semblance of a normal life.

Life in Kirkuk, of course, does not fairly represent conditions across Iraq. Having served more than four months in Baghdad, I know firsthand that violence has been much more severe in other parts of the country. But I’m convinced that the progress I’ve seen here can happen elsewhere.

Kirkuk is a city of many tensions. Ethnic strains have been compounded by a planned referendum about the city’s political status. But the good people of this city have largely resisted these factors that would tend toward sectarian strife and violence. And they, like many other Iraqis, still need America’s help.

I’ve been asked by more than one Iraqi, “How long are you staying?” When I reply “At least a year,” I’m told “A year is nothing in Iraq. It is a blink of the eye.”

Local tradesmen are justifiably proud of their history and are fond of printing “Welcome to Iraq – More than 7,000 years of civilization” on hand-tooled leather goods. Time here is measured not in weeks and months, but in years and decades. How can we measure progress any differently?

For 35 years this country was under the thumb of a brutal regime that told the populace what to do, when to do it, and where. It is unrealistic to expect a battered national psyche to emerge unscathed and create a functioning government virtually overnight – especially when the concept of “democracy” is as foreign to Iraqis as tribal relations are to Americans.

What Iraqis have accomplished to date is remarkable. In just over three years they have elected provincial councils nationwide, elected and seated a National Assembly, appointed a cabinet, and implemented a Constitution from scratch. Sometimes we forget that the birth of America was equally, if not more, chaotic. The US Bill of Rights alone took more than four years of intense debate before it became the law of the land.

The Provincial Reconstruc-tion Team I serve on has equal numbers of civilian specialists and military members, led by the Department of State, who work together to help Iraqis rebuild basic infrastructure, economics, rule of law, and governance.

We work throughout the province, “outside the wire,” which means off the Forward Operating Base, on a daily basis. We see firsthand the human face of longing for a better life. That is all the Iraqis I interact with want: peace, security, and a future for their children. It is exhilarating to sit and listen while the Provincial Reconstruction Development Committee, consisting of Kurds, Arabs, Turkomans, and Chaldo-Assyrians, hashes out project proposals and votes its approval to rebuild a school or construct a playground at a local orphanage. It makes me proud to play a role in this process.

Iraqis here are nervous that the US military will leave. By most assessments, the Iraqi police and Army are just not ready to operate solo. They work hard and improve daily.

I can see it in the pride they take in morning drill at the Kirkuk Government Building, as the commander puts the security force through its paces. The Police Academy in Kirkuk runs four training classes a day, six days a week. The academy has dug its own well for water – without waiting for help from Baghdad. But these security forces simply need more time and mentoring before they can take on Al Qaeda or potentially other violent factions by themselves.

Politicians and thoughtful citizens alike decry US losses, and no one denies the fact that even a single American life is a high price to pay for the security of a foreign country half a world away. I’ve attended my fair share of “ramp ceremonies” where a thousand soldiers stand for hours at the position of attention well past midnight and salute a fallen comrade’s casket being carried aboard a plane for the final journey home. With the possible exception of family, no one feels the loss any keener than a fellow squad or platoon mate.

The reasons America got involved in Iraq may be suspect. But US forces are here, parts of the country are still broken, and regional security may hang in the balance if we don’t stay and help the Iraqis fix it. The effort is succeeding in the north, and it can in the rest of Iraq as well. America’s forefathers had help from other nations when the United States was born. Allow us to continue to help Iraq be reborn.

Lt. Colonel Chris Brady is a National Guardsman and the deputy team leader of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kirkuk, Iraq. His views are his own. This piece was subject to military review.

Both Soldiers who’s opinions I’m featuring here are National Guard Members. They both hold civilian jobs, apart from the Military, where they have the opportunity to make much more money than they do in the military, yet their committment to the military and this country remain strong. Both feel that the consequences of leaving what we’ve started in Iraq, unfinished, would be dire and invite yet another attack within our country’s borders.

A Soldier’s Feeling On The War In Iraq
by Antoinette McGowan

Joining the National Guard was not an easy decision with the war in Iraq going on. But after all things had been looked at and considered, I did make the choice to join. I, of course, will not be elgible to deploy until August of next year. But I do know how I feel as an American as well as a soldier. Also I do know that when I am eligible for deployment, I will do so without any question if my country asks it of me.

My pride in my country is what pushed me hard to become a soldier to defend my country. For many generations, Americans have stood up to fight for our freedom and to fight against injustices in other areas of the world. World War II was the first time in a long time that the enemy attacked Americans on American soil. No one protested when our government went to Japan and kicked their butts for daring to attack us on our own soil.

Now though we were attacked on our own soil September 11, 2001. So we went to kick some butt and show that we are a strong country and that we will not tolerate anyone attacking our country. Problem is though that many Americans oppose the war and oppose us defending ourselves. Why is it that now a days Americans no longer feel there is a reason to fight back? Have we become so passive and weak that we no longer care what happens to our country?

It does not matter if you like your president or not. What matters is that you care enough about your freedom to fight for it, to defend it at all costs. The majority of people believed in Bush enough to vote him into office but then turned on him for sending troops to Iraq to defend your freedoms. To me I don’t understand how we can trust him enough to vote him into office only to turn on him when he makes a judgement call that is done to defend our way of life.

The media is another area where the war in Iraq went to hell in a hand basket. The media portrays all the bad with this war but none of the good, or positive effects of this war. They have done a great job dividing Americans over this war. The only thing they are doing when they do this is tearing their own country apart. During a war time our country needs to stand together as one united country, not be divided over who supports that war and who is against the war. I have seen many people who supported the war and what the soldiers were doing change their outlook based on negative crap they seen in the media.

Presently we are over in Iraq to help them rebuild their country. Many would think that we should leave them to themselves to do this and just pull our troops home. Well look at it this way, we pull out of Iraq and they are taken over by more terrorists that are now obtaining more power. Let the terrorists obtain enough power and guess who they are coming after? They will come after us again.

When that happens many people who wanted to pull our Troops out are going to look around and wonder, ‘How did this happen?’ It happened because all those people stopped something that should not have been stopped. The more we stay on it to bring the terrorists down, the more we keep them from gaining power. The less power they have the more we as Americans can go to bed at night and sleep easier.

I personally am willing to do anything to maintain our way of life. I do not want to see another attack on American soil. I support what the troops are doing and have a lot of respect for them. They are putting their lives on the line to protect democracy and to keep us all back home safe. When the time comes I will feel honored to join them in their fight.

Author’s Disclaimer: This is written based on my personal views and beliefs. None of this represents the views of our government or other military soldiers. I speak solely for myself and no one else.

Because the media tends to not give much attention to the millions of Soldiers who feel we should remain in Iraq, it’s up to we as milbloggers and you as supporters of our Troops to allow their voices to be heard. It’s up to us to spread their messages far and wide, to all of our family and friends and ask them to do the same. These are the people who we should be listening to, not ones like Beauchamp who’s allegations have been proven to be falsehoods. It’s time then to shout out loudly for everyone to hear… Wake Up America!

Christian Science Monitor
Associated Content

New Program At Fort Campbell, Aims To Establish Baseline To Aid Diagnosis Of TBI

September 26, 2007

Prior to leaving for Iraq, thousands of Troops will now participate in a fledgling Army program that will record how a Soldier’s brain works when healthy. This will provide baseline data which will help in the identification, diagnosis and treatment of the Soldier if they suffer a TBI or traumatic brain injury.

At Fort Cambell, Kentucky the Troops who are part of 101st Airborne will line up at laptop computers and take a test, which is comprised of basic math, matching numbers and symbols and the identification of symbols. They press a button as quickly as possible, which will measure their response times.

“This allows the Army to be much more proactive,” said Lt. Col. Mark McGrail, division surgeon for the 101st. “We don’t want to wait until the soldier is getting out of the Army to say, ‘But I’ve had these symptoms.’”

The brain function tests are mandatory are are starting with the 101st at fort Campbell. It’s expected that it will spread to other military bases in the next couple of months. The commanders at each base will make the decision whether to adopt the program or not. These test will provide a standard measurement for each soldier’s reaction time, their short-term memory and other cognitive skills… things that are greatly affected by TBI’s. This data will then be used when the soldier’s return home to help in identifying mild brain trauma, that many times goes unnoticed and thus untreated.

One veteran’s group is working to ensure that the military doesn’t use the results to deny treatment, by claiming that the problems were a pre-existing contition.

“We certainly think these tests should not be used to reduce the responsibility that the Army has to treat the Soldiers who have served,” said Jason Forrester, director of policy for Vetarans for America.

Personally, I think the tests are a great idea. By establishing a base-line prior to Troops deploying, it will be much easier to identify Soldiers who might have experienced a mild TBI and thus be able to provide the much needed treatment that these Troops need and deserve. Currently, about 7,500 Soldiers at Fort Campbell have completed the tests. The exams take about 10 minutes to complete. One question that is asked of the Soldiers taking the test is that they memorize patterns on a screen and then identify them later among several other patterns. Others require that they Soldiers match numbers and symbols or complete simple addition and subtraction problems. Things that can be affected when a Soldier suffers a mild TBI.

“Everybody functions a bit differently in terms of how quickly they react to things, how well they process things and remember things and so forth,” said Dr. Robert Schlegel, a University of Oklahoma researcher who conducts the tests.

It’s become recognized that brain injuries caused by exposure to explosions, have become one of the most common combat wounds that is suffered by Troops in Iraq. Approximately 30 percent of Soldiers who have been admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center since 2003 suffer from the effects of TBI, according to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. Since 2003, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center has seen 2,669 patients in the seven facilities they have around the country. Doctors however, believe that many who suffer less obvious brain-injuries, many times go undetected and untreated.

Take Sgt. Adam Wyatt for instance. He’s been close to approximately 20-30 blasts from homemade bombs, RPG’s or mortar fire during his last 2 deployments. But he’s never been directly hit.

“The initial shock is a little disorienting,” Wyatt said. “Your first thought is seeing if anyone is wounded and suppressing enemy fire.”

The concussions from being in close proximity to those types of blasts can cause mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Soldiers may way away from an explosion and appear to have no obvious injuries. That concussion however can have lingering effects that isn’t alway immediately apparent.

“They look physically notmal, but their neurocognitive performance is off,” said Col. Mary Lopez, a physician specializing in occupational therapy.

Most of the time, the brain injury is mild in nature and Soldiers recover with rest and taking time away from the battlefield. Repeated exposure to such blasts however, make the chance that the Soldier will have lasting, life-long effects more likely. The military estimates that about 1/5 of the Troops with mild TBI’s will have prolonged or lifelong symptoms that would require continuing care.

Many things about battlefield blast exposure and the possible resulting mild TBI is unknown, so the baseline readings taken prior to deployment can become an important tool for future study. At this point, exact parameters are unknown, such as how close a Soldier would have to be to a blast, to suffer damage, or if being knocked unconscious makes a difference. Without having a baseline to go by, it’s difficult to tell if a Soldier is more impaired after they suffer a brain injury.

The Army has faced criticism for their treatment of Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, after complaints that Soldiers suffering from TBI were misdiagnosed. The Government Accountability Office is currently in the process of investigating reports they’ve received, that as many as 40 different Soldiers at Fort Carson, Colorado were misdiagnosed with personality disorders, after they had suffered brain damamge or stress-related injuries. According to Lt. Col. McGrail, mild brain injury is often difficult to diagnose, because the Troops often don’t report the symptoms they’re having, such as headaches, dizziness, momory problems or irritability.

“The Soldiers are by and large very motivated, and they don’t want their team to go back out there without them, even though they know they had their bell rung and might not be at the top of their game,” McGrail said.

Another thing that makes TBI sometimes difficult to diagnose, is that some of the symptoms overlap with the symptoms of PTSD, which is another very common condition among troops returning from the warzone. The hope is that the brain injury test will aid doctors in being able to differentiate between the two conditions.

Tests such as the ones given to the troops at Fort Campbell have already been tried in pilot programs at Fort Bragg, with paratroopers who often suffer concussions during their jumps, as well as with soldiers who’ve deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia. The 101st however, is the first unit to use these test on a large-scale for every soldier who is preparing to deploy in the near future. Soldier’s from 101st Airborne Division will soon be leaving on the division’s third deployment. Soldier’s will be split between warzones in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

I’m looking forward to seeing this new program implemented, not only all over the Army, but throughout ALL branches of our Armed Forces. I truly believe that this will be helpful in identifying those who might have suffered a mild TBI, who might otherwise go undetected and untreated.

Sign On San Diego

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