20 August 2007

Home at Last

From the time we went into Customs lock down until I stepped off the plane to see my family waiting...it took 45 hours to finally be home. Good flights and the good company of my AF brethren, who deployed on this mission with me, helped pass the time and the miles.

JM, Gio, Foggy, Orto, and Dozer I wish you all the best of luck and continued success in your careers and endeavors! "Tail Winds and Clear Sky" my friends.

My family, neighbors and church have treated me to a hero's welcome and I am grateful. Time to focus on our move. The packers arrive in two days and then it's time for our next adventure.

Once again, thank you all for your prayers, words of encouragement, and for following my adventures.

Remain vigilant and may God continue to bless America!

06 August 2007

Last Thoughts

This will be my final posting from Iraq. As such, I will leave you with a few parting thoughts:
The personal sacrifices of your men and women of the United States Armed Forces are great and many. Long missions without sleep, no showers, an undefined adversary, sniper fire, roadside bombs, and the single unified prayer of returning to base alive and in one piece as they often find themselves fighting for their lives on the streets of Iraq. Their lives have been put on hold for 12 months and now involuntarily extended to 15 months for a mission in a hell hole defined by the gruesome reality of a fight for stability and security akin to the biblical battle of David and Goliath. Time will tell whether we are David or Goliath. Maintain positive thoughts for these kids and keep them in your prayers.
For the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, their death is not in vain but rather in the provision of hope for the citizens of Iraq to lead a better life – one lived freely and without fear of oppression and arbitrary torture or execution by government death squads.
There are sights, sounds, and smells that define our experiences here in Iraq. There are ones we wish to remember, many we wish to forget, and some we will never escape as long as we live. Such is the reality of war. While on this mission, we gave our all...inevitably leaving a bit of ourselves behind while a part of our hearts dies within for the comrades who will never return.
Until we leave Iraq, may the Lord bless our troops. May those called home to the Lord be honored and their families comforted. To them, we will always owe our debt of freedom.
To my family, church family, and friends who have followed my mission - my sincere gratitude and thanks for your prayers and good words. They have gone far in upholding my spirit and determination.
Apart from returning home in the near future, I am now: MISSION COMPLETE.

Remain vigilant and may God continue to bless America.


30 July 2007


I have been looking at pictures of my youngest daughter who just turned 1 last Thursday. When I left for this mission, she was a little ball of flesh. Now she is nearly walking, has about 4 teeth, and is using sign language to communicate for "more" or "all done"...when she feels like it. All four children have been on fast forward development since I have been gone...most all of it good. Although I lament my seven month absense from family, I know I have less of a reason than my Army colleagues who are here for twice as long - 15 months.

This upcoming year will be one of critical decisions for the future of my family. We'll be happily moved in our new home just long enough for the Air Force to decide what it wants to do with me when the next promotion board meets in November and the results are released in Mar 08.

The Air Force has also reduced it's allotted recovery time for us from six months down to four. The flesh peddlers who sit at their desk all year and don't deploy feel 120 days at home is enough for any one to be rested before being selected for the next 180 - 365 day deployment to where ever a warm body is needed. Long story short, I'll know right around Christmas time this year if I am selected to deploy again. The fact that I have been gone for 330 days out of the last two years is only an unfortunate trivia nugget for the Air Force.

Switching topics to the US Congress. There was a recent victory in the passing of a Homeland Security bill based on most of the recommendations from the 9/11 Commission. Fortunately, we've had relative safety - enough for the ordinary American to become apathetic and complacent about terror acts in the US - for the last 5 years to get these measures identified and now signed into law by President Bush. In my opinion, the two most important features will be an upgraded and mostly state of the art communications capability and the scanning of shipping containers at sea. Any law enforcement, emergency management, explosive ordnance, and/or military professional will tell you nothing means more than the ability to clearly communicate in the fog of war and crisis. I can only hope the new law will provide for many agencies the new equipment and survivable backbone necessary to carry out their duties. Also, the sheer brute number of shipping containers entering our country daily is a harbinger of doom for port security and US safety. Any number of weapons or terrorist teams can be sneaked into the country with relative ease. You've seen it in the movies and episodes of 24...it's not far from reality. The ability to scan these containers at sea and prior to docking in a US port will be a great improvement in deterrence.

One last thought on Sen Murtha's bill to have US troops begin pulling out of Iraq in 2 months and allowing the President a.k.a the Commander-in-Chief to decide the final withdrawal dates. Based on what I have seen and experienced here in Iraq, nothing would be better than to call mission complete and pack up for a speedy return to the States. It's just not that easy.

Even though the Iraqi Parliament has done nothing to help itself and decided to break for the entire month of August in a spiteful move against President Bush, the United States of America is a super power in this world and it has the responsibility to finish what it started and not be a cut and run country. Just as we have checks and balances in our government, the United States Armed Forces provide a check and balance to this region keeping countries like Iran and Syria in line and from carrying out, to the fullest extent, their devious and nefarious plans for conquering and dividing this region.

Strangely enough, this is no longer the 1200's time period where kingdoms conquered other kingdoms just because they could. Most nations in this world are pretty happy with peaceful coexistence today. I can't place my finger on it, radical Islam or the heat baking their little brains, but there is something about this region that stopped evolving hundreds of years ago.

On top of that, you add the radical Islam plan for world domination, an Iranian leader is who is bent on bringing back the 13th Imam (lucky 13!) through fire and chaos, and you have a region creating a worldwide powder keg. For those who believe in the End Times, this may be just the beginning if we don't keep this region in check.

Enough politics and world events for today. Time keeps on ticking...(come on, sing the rest) in to the future. My time on station is shortening and the date of departure is nearing. The military calls it decompression: I am enjoying being able to sleep whenever I am tired and basking in the quiet of my trailer in between meals, working out at the gym and checking email at the morale tent. We will have packers arriving within four days of my return home. I need to out-process the base before our move. There will 5 very special people and 2 dogs battling for my attention and time as I try to make up for lost time with my family. I think this is very likely the calm before the proverbial storm!

Stay vigilant and God Bless America.

22 July 2007

Cresting the Summit

The weather is just plain hot. Orto and I were discussing the other day the best way for folks to understand the sensation of our weather. We decided you should have a friend turn a hairdryer on you full blast and then toss bits of sand and dirt in the air flow...now you're in Iraq!

I took Michael's advice, maintained focus and ensured my replacement had the full benefit of my experience and corporate knowledge. Fortunate for me, Bear is a smart man, an experienced Officer and a quick study. I have been relegated to less than part time assistance and advisory services. In this case, it's good to be excess baggage.

Since I began my work with the Squadron, I have kept track of the human cost during my mission here. According to the Stars & Stripes newspaper daily article, US Deaths in Iraq, 473 US Service men and women have paid the ultimate sacrifice and over 3,400 have been wounded in action. Unfortunately, my job included reading and knowing the details of the why's and how's for those men and women. My heart goes out to the families left behind to deal with the tragic loss of their loved ones.

Pressured by the need to show strength and progress to the International Community, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki announced earlier this week Iraqi forces are ready and foreign troops may leave"anytime they want". As he has softened his stance, we have also heard from one of the deputy Prime Ministers lamenting the early US withdrawal would be a disaster for Iraq and the region. There is great fear in learning to go it alone without the handholding of a super power nation like the US. In my opinion, our presence here only minimizes the Iranian and Syrian efforts to undermine and adversely influence Iraqi police, military and every echelon of Iraqi government. The Shia's still thirst for revenge for the years Saddam (a Sunni) kept them oppressed. If the US removes combat troops soon, the extra judicial killings and potential ethnic cleansing will be unreal and force the country into a real civil war. This region has been governed for centuries by brute force and the "might makes right" rule. How can we expect them to know or conduct themselves any different?

I saw a picture of an Iraqi detainee weeping while being questioned by Iraqi soldiers. The other Iraqi soldiers in the immediate vicinity looked at him with a combination of curiosity and disdain. From my position it is easy to refer to every Iraqi with our slang word, Haji, and believe they are all guilty and rotten to the core. I am reminded by viewing this picture of the weeping man that it is the corps of rotten, filthy, bastard extremists and radicals who are truly the enemy here. They will force the average Iraqi - who is just trying to survive and provide for his family - to carry out acts of violence against Coalition Forces. Although he normally wouldn't do this, he has been coerced through the threat of his entire family being exterminated (while he watches) if he doesn't submit to the radicals. This example is one of many factors seated in the heart of failure for this region.

One last thought pertaining to success v. failure for Iraq. For those members of Congress trying to "help" US troops by clamouring about bringing troops home early...one phrase for you ..."Silence is golden". Actually, I mean to say "Shut your pie hole" but this is a family friendly blog. The enemy here knows there will be a critical report due to Congress in September and they are doing all they can to turn up the heat and lethality. Senator Clinton, this may be hard for you to understand from your plush office in Washington D.C., however, YES you provide aid and comfort to the forces bent on our destruction with your overt political wrangling for troop withdrawal plans. It takes more than your 36 hours on the ground in this combat zone for you to understand this fact. But then you and your husband never cared for the military anyway. We are no more than a political pawn on your chessboard of selfish gain and your worldwide taxi service.

Have a great start to your week, stay vigilant to your surroundings, and may God continue to bless our country. More posts in the days to come...

15 July 2007

Maintaining Vigilant Focus

Thanks to my family & friends for the comments on my last blog and for your emails of encouragement. With regard to the count down clock, I have been advised it is an operational security risk indicating when personnel will be moving from the area of operations. Speaking of operational security, I can no longer blog from work either and must come to the MWR tent to compose my blog. Believe me, you'll know by my blog entry the day I am headed home.

A big event in the news lately. The Dept of Homeland Defense has publicized the findings of a draft National Intelligence Estimate. "Among the key findings of the classified estimate, which is still in draft form and must be approved by all 16 U.S. Intelligence agencies:
— Al Qaeda is probably still pursuing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and would use them if its operatives developed sufficient capability.
— The terror group has been able to restore three of the four key tools it would need to launch an attack on U.S. soil: a safe haven in Pakistan's tribal areas, operational lieutenants and senior leaders. It could not immediately be learned what the missing fourth element is.
— The group will bolster its efforts to position operatives inside U.S. borders.

In public statements, U.S. officials have expressed concern about the ease with which people can enter the United States through Europe because of a program that allows most Europeans to enter without visas.

The document also discusses increasing concern about individuals already inside the United States who are adopting an extremist brand of Islam.

National Intelligence Estimates are the most authoritative written judgments that reflect the consensus long-term thinking of senior intelligence analysts."

This report is not to be taken lightly. There is no better defense for America than an alert public willing to call the authorities about suspicious or out-of-the-ordinary activities.

The Liberal Left and ACLU will call this Profiling, but what the heck, it's our country! If you see people of Middle East appearance acting suspiciously, have a mosque in your city, or if you know of Americans who have converted to Islam...keep a watchful eye. The jackasses who carried out the Sept 11 attacks lived quietly in our neighborhoods & enjoyed our freedoms while they deliberatley planned their attacks with a money stream piped in from the Middle East.

Who staged the first World Trade Center attack? Who staged the USS Cole attack? Who blew up two US Embassies in Africa? Who crashed the jets in to the World Trade Center towers? Who are we fighting over here every day after they stream across porous borders? I am afraid the answer is not some red headed freckled face European. No. They were radical Islamists from the Middle East. In Afghanistan and here in Iraq we roll up saudis, yemenis, syrians, iranians, pakistanis, afghanis, morrocans, algerians to mention a few. Are they white and pure as apple pie? Uh, NO.

Bottom line: We all need to maintain our vigilance. The US government takes this very seriously and so should every American. Our own porous borders and inability to account for the numerous people illegally in our country only aids the enemy in their plans to bring destruction to our country. As I have mentioned before, this world is becoming polarized and the radical Islamist absolutely seethes with hatred for America. It is my belief they will attempt an attack or series of attacks to dwarf the consequences of Sept 11, 2001. We can only do our best to identify them before they strike.

10 July 2007

Transition Time

The light at the end of the tunnel has gone from the width of a pin, to the width of a pencil, and now I'm seeing light of day.

My replacement, Bear, has arrived and is currently in our progammed class for all new members of the squadron. Sunday will be a day of rest for everyone.

Effective Monday, I'll be in the teaching phase for one week and then shadow phase for the next. Lastly, I get some down time to decompress, rest, and change my sleep pattern in order to be on Mountain time when I return.

The fatigue has taken its toll and my last several posts have been from a soap box and have not been kind to the country I love. My place is not and should never be from a soap box. This is the life and duty I volunteered for and the freedoms I swore to preserve and protect. I have found the humble side of me and wish to thank you all for your continued support and prayers.

09 July 2007


Troop Rallies Held Across U.S.
Associated Press
July 09, 2007

OKLAHOMA CITY - With a son-in-law in Iraq and a son who served in Afghanistan, Kathy Johnston says she wants to make sure her five grandchildren know it's important to support U.S. troops, no matter how they feel about the war.
That's why she, her daughter and daughter-in-law took them Saturday afternoon to the Oklahoma version of Operation America Rising, a nationwide event touted as a nonpartisan way to express appreciation for the job that U.S. Soldiers are doing.
"Her husband wants to be here (at home)," Johnston said, motioning toward her daughter-in-law, Melissa Morning of Fort Bragg, N.C. "But he knows what he is doing is right.
"There is a lot of good going on over there, and we hear about it firsthand, even if the media doesn't report it," she added.
The rallies - some numbering in the hundreds, others with a handful in attendance - took place from California to Connecticut.
The Oklahoma event, held at State Capitol Park, included three speakers and six bands. All the participants offered their services for free, said Ren Schuffman, the lead singer for Oklahoma City band StoneWater and one of the event's organizers.
"It's not anti-war. It's not pro-war," Schuffman said. "It has nothing to do with war."
In New Hampshire, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and his rock band, Capitol Offense, entertained 600 to 700 people beforehand, event organizer Jennifer Horn said.
"Good people can disagree about policy and politics, but ... when we have children or neighbors or co-workers who are serving in active duty, we stand united behind them," Horn said. "We don't ever want there to be any misunderstanding that as Americans we are a united nation."
In Bristol, Conn., several hundred people milled under tents, ate picnic food and listened to bands on a school lawn. In Sacramento, Calif. about 600 people, including 16 military and veterans groups, gathered near the state Capitol, event organizers said.
Hundreds of motorcycle riders from a group of Harley-Davidson owners roared past the city hall in Dover, Del., carrying American flags.
At least 100 people gathered in Baton Rouge, La., next to the plaza where the battleship museum USS Kidd is docked. Organizer Janet Broussard described it as "speeches, music; just a good-time kind of get-together visit with our veterans."
The names of the 182 Pennsylvania service members who died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan were read aloud to a silent crowd in Ford City, Pa. The Veterans of Foreign Wars honor guard then fired a 21-gun salute.
Speakers told the crowd that they can support the troops in tangible ways. Navy Warrant Officer Willie Grier, who served in Iraq, said troops look forward to getting packages containing everything from baby wipes and candy to paper and pens.
"Nothing goes wasted over there," Grier said. "If we do have an abundance of stuff, we'll give some of it to the Iraqis, the children. It's great for morale."
In Colorado, Douglas County sheriff's officials estimated 60 people attended a four-hour event at a park south of Denver, with musicians and speakers.
"One of best things about the event, even though it didn't turn out as big as I would've liked, is the people who were there were genuine and care more about supporting our troops and being there for others than they do about their own comforts," said Robyn Hill, 44.

07 July 2007

Guardians Angels on Duty

Psalm 91:11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;

Had the closest call yet two days ago. Orto and I had just dropped a friend off at 1st Cav HQ. As we made a turn on to the main road, our perimeter defense weapon fired and blew a 107mm rocket out of the sky over our heads. Had we lingered any longer with our friend and if the rocket weren't intercepted we would have been on the receiving end of that rocket. Unfortunately more rockets came a couple hours later and 1 Soldier was killed and another 10 people wounded. So much for thinking, "big base, little me".

The news from America hasn't been positive lately with many people going missing & murdered, flooding, heat waves, fires, brutality to children, tainted toothpaste, 2 teenage kids kidnap the neighbor's 1 yr old and hold the baby for $200,000 ransom, and the political mud slinging well in advance of the next elections. What are we doing to each other? As we can see, only horrific and violent tragedy makes headline news.

04 July 2007

4th of July

This is the day when it all began. 231 years ago, our founding fathers declared they would not live under tyranny or oppression.

From David McCullough's book 1776:

"In a ringing preamble, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the document declared it 'self-evident' that 'all men are created equal' and were endowed with the 'unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' And to this noble end the delegates pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor."

It is with great honor that I continue the tradition of protecting our freedom whether it is at home or across the seas helping further freedom in a land once oppressed. Our freedom is the envy and ideal of many countries in the world and the scourge of the so-called peaceful religion of Islam.

I am an American and completely proud of it.

The honor of carrying the lit torch of freedom, paid in full by many who have given the ultimate sacrifice, is mine on your behalf.

Enjoy this day and all of its meaning to you, generations to come, and our country. May God continue to bless the United States of America.

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offencesFor abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

02 July 2007

Iran is Making Trouble

First, thanks to all for the emails of support and care!

Second, how can we expect to make progress over here with security and stabilization if the Iranians keep messing with the works. The are taking advantage of the situation and doing their best to destabilize the region and challenge us for the regional power.

Read on from the Associated Press report:

Iran Linked to U.S. Troops' Deaths

Associated Press July 02, 2007

BAGHDAD - Iran is using the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah as a "proxy" to arm Shiite militants in Iraq and Tehran's Quds force [Special Forces] had prior knowledge of a January attack in Karbala in which five Americans died, a U.S. general said Monday.

U.S. military spokesman Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner said a senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative, Ali Mussa Dakdouk, was captured March 20 in southern Iraq. Bergner said Dakdouk served for 24 years in Hezbollah and was "working in Iraq as a surrogate for the Iranian Quds force."

The general also said that Dakdouk was a liaison between the Iranians and a breakaway Shiite group led by Qais al-Kazaali, a former spokesman for cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Bergner said al-Kazaali's group carried out the January attack against a provincial government building in Karbala and that the Iranians assisted in preparations.

Al-Khazaali and his brother Ali al-Khazaali, both captured in March, have told U.S. interrogators that they "could not have conducted it (the Karbala attack) without support from the Quds force," Bergner said.

Documents captured with al-Khazaali showed that the Quds Force had developed detailed information on the U.S. position at the government building, including "shift changes and defense" and shared this information with the attackers, the general said.
U.S. officials at the time of the Karbala attack said it was unusually sophisticated, with the attackers dressed in U.S. uniforms to get close to the building, and suggested Iran may have had a role in it.

The U.S. military in the past has accused the Quds Force - the external arm of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards - of arming and financing Iraqi extremists to carry out attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces. Tehran has denied the U.S. accusations.

Bergner said Iraqi extremists were taken to Iran in groups of 20 to 60 for training in three camps "not too far from Tehran." When they returned to Iraq, they formed units called "special groups" to carry out attacks, bombings and kidnappings, he said.

Dakdouk helped train and organize the groups, making four visits to Iraq in the past year after a May 2006 trip to Iran, the general said. Hezbollah, he said, helps the Iranians as a "proxy ... to do things they didn't want to have to do themselves in terms of interacting with special groups."
"Our intelligence reveals that the senior leadership in Iran is aware of this activity," he said. Asked if Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could be unaware of the activity, Bergner said "that would be hard to imagine."

29 June 2007

Blog Interview

It's almost the end of June already...one full month left before the out-processing and travel begins. My replacement is going through his weeks of combat training as I had to do before arriving. My patience is wearing thin as the fatigue grows in the monotonous daily routine of a combat zone. I can't imagine what the Soldiers endure as they spend their 12 turned 15 month tour in this place. I guess it's different when you train your mind and spirit to expect a certain amount of time being deployed.

I received an email from a gentleman who writes a weblog called VAJoe. He cruises through all of the military blogs and highlights the ones that have caught his attention. The address is www.vajoe.com/blog/ if you are interested in checking out blogs authored by military personnel.

Here's the excerpt of my interview found on the 26 Jun entry of VAJoe's blog:
June 26, 2007
Stoli of Mission Iraq - Round 2

Posted in: Military Bloggers, MilBlogger Interviews, Iraq, Air Force — valane @ 11:06 am

Stoli talks about his milblog Mission Iraq - Round 2.

Question: How long have you been blogging and why did you get into blogging?
I have been blogging since January 07 when I started this deployment. This is an easy way for family and friends to stay up with what I am doing in Iraq.

Question: What is your military experience?
I have been in the Air Force for 16 years and have worked many different types of jobs…although lately been doing a lot of staff work. I have been to Korea, Japan, England, Germany, Italy, Bosnia, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, and Iraq.

Question: What are some of your other favorite Milblogs?
The One Wire, The Landlocked Sailor, and the AF EWO in Iraq. They are linked on my blog. I should probably expand my blog horizons and check out some others.

Question: What has been the biggest factor in helping you create and publish a successful blog?
My children are growing up without me while I serve over here. Thus, the blog lets them see what I am doing, seeing, and thinking while 8,000 miles away from home. It gives them something tangible to keep for later in life in addition to memories of my phone calls and emails.

Question: Do you have anything else you would like us to mention about you, your blog, or your readers?
I really appreciate the random emails of support and thanks from people back in America. Our presence has become unpopular both in America and in Iraq, yet it’s good to know we have a loyal following of support from home.

My last two answers are important to me on several levels. When I finally return home from this mission, I will have been gone for 207 days from my family. In the last two years, I have been away from my family for a total 330 days. Having this blog, pictures, emails, and daily phone calls has helped me stay in touch and be a part of my wife and children's lives. My legacy will be in the way my children grow into adults and the path they choose for their lives. I can't be a part of their development when I am constantly 8,000 miles away. It's a painful reality.

My folks have been with me the whole way with daily emails and helping to take care of my family in my absence. I owe them a great debt of gratitude. The commitment and bonds of family have escaped my sister though. I called her last night out of concern for the flooding I have been reading about where she lives. She and her family are fine, but she just didn't think I was in harms way here in Iraq. That must be the reason I haven't received even an email of encouragement from her.

For the rest of my extended family, in-laws, friends, and those of you I have never met...a heart felt Thank You for your letters, emails, cards, and care packages that have raised my spirits and let me know we are still supported and prayed for back home.

25 June 2007

Some Food for Thought

It's been a deadly week in Iraq as the Army prosecutes its operation to rid the Diyala Province of al Qaeda in Iraq insurgents. On our way back from lunch today we saw two separate plumes of smoke and the Medevac choppers moving at top speed to get where they are needed.

I am anxious to return home and separate myself from the news for a week or two in order to balance out the last 5 months of death and destruction. Speaking of going home, I am a step closer as time requires my efforts in double-checking the change over list and briefing for my replacement.

I read this article last week and would like to put some of the pieces out for you to read, think about, and maybe even pass it on. The article is written by Melvin Rhodes and can be found in the Good News periodical.

Here's the link to the entire article:

Has World War III Already Begun?

What's behind the call by Iran's new president for the United States and Israel to be wiped off the face of the earth? Are Western nations blind to the growing threat from radical Islam?

by Melvin Rhodes

"On Oct. 26, in advance of Jerusalem Day—instituted by Iran 's religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 to express the Muslim world's ambition to "liberate" Jerusalem — Iran 's new president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for the complete annihilation of the nation of Israel.
...Not only did President Ahmadinejad promise the annihilation of Israel, he also assured his followers that the world would also soon be rid of the United States and Britain.
...Threat to the West
A little over 25 years ago America was first confronted with militant Islam when the pro-Western shah of Iran was overthrown and U.S. embassy personnel there were taken hostage for 444 days by followers of the late Ayatollah Khomeini. The theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979 and has been a thorn in the side of the United States ever since.
It has also helped spread radical Islam and aided militant terrorist groups in repeatedly attacking Israel . Present at the "World Without Zionism" (meaning "without Israel ") conference at which President Ahmadinejad made these comments were representatives of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Society for the Defense of the Palestinian Nation, three terrorist organizations. Also present were members of the Islamic Students Union and hundreds of other students.
What makes this verbal attack particularly frightening is that Iran is, in the estimation of many national intelligence agencies, working on developing nuclear weapons in flagrant defiance of international law...When it has nuclear arms, Iran could easily use them against Israel , only 500 miles away at its closest point. ( Iran could also target American bases and oil supplies throughout the Middle East .) No wonder that former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for immediate action to be taken against Iran before the possibility of a nuclear attack on his country.

...Short memories and long memories
Most people in Western countries like the United States and Britain have very short memories. Many people sincerely believe that the threat from Islamic terrorism is due to the actions of the Bush administration, when the immediate problem goes back decades and the roots of these difficulties go back thousands of years.
While the West may have a short memory, this is not the case in the Middle East, where some Muslims trace their own family history back to the time of the prophet Muhammad in the seventh century. Memories of the European Crusades against the Islamic world almost 1,000 years ago are often invoked to justify fears of the modern state of Israel today.
Notice how far the Iranian president went back in this section of his speech: "In this historical war, the situation at the fronts has changed many times. During some periods, the Muslims were the victors and were very active, and looked forward, and the World of Arrogance was in retreat. Unfortunately, in the past 300 years, the Islamic world has been in retreat vis-à-vis the World of Arrogance . . .
"During the period of the last 100 years, the walls of the world of Islam were destroyed and the World of Arrogance turned the regime occupying Jerusalem into a bridge for its dominance over the Islamic world . . . This occupying country [ Israel ] is in fact a front of the World of Arrogance in the heart of the Islamic world. They have in fact built a bastion [ Israel ] from which they can expand their rule to the entire Islamic world."
When Mr. Ahmadinejad refers to "the situation at the fronts" changing many times, he is referring to the 1,400-year history of the recurring conflict between Islam and Christendom.
This is a perspective on history that is not shared by people in the West who in the last 40 years have increasingly embraced idyllic multiculturalism. The basic theory behind this ideal is that all peoples are basically the same and that all people, no matter what their religion or culture, can live peaceably side by side.
History does not support this idea, particularly where Islam and Christianity are concerned. These two civilizations have clashed repeatedly, starting in the years immediately after the death of the founder of Islam, Muhammad, in 632. As the new religion spread across the Middle East and North Africa, it came into conflict with both the Sassanid Persian Empire and the Christian empire of Byzantium , the eastern division of the Roman Empire.
These were the two superpowers of their day. Both suffered defeat at the hands of Muhammad's forces within a few years of his death. Eventually, both fell as the Islamic empire expanded.
...A new period of conflict
Waves of conflict followed by periods of peace have been the norm between these two religions. Europe today can hardly be called Christian, but its secular values are, if anything, even more offensive to the Islamic world, and a major clash seems inevitable.
Indeed, it is already taking place. Britain and Spain have experienced devastating terrorist bombings by Islamic radicals within the last two years. In October and November, cities across France suffered three weeks of nightly riots by young, mostly Muslim immigrants who are unable to reconcile their religion with the values of secular French society. The Islamic element has been downplayed in the media, which is dominated by multiculturalists who cannot seem to face what is really happening.
When the Iranian president refers to the "World of Arrogance" he is primarily speaking of the United States. But his references to historical events centuries ago, events that predate the existence of the United States as a country, show that in his mind the United States is simply a continuation of the European Christian powers that sent the Crusaders to the land of Islam almost 1,000 years ago. "

The world is polarizing. Today we see an Islam v non-Islam conflict on a low boil growing stronger. The Muslims have immigrated to every country possible, procreated with reckless abandon in order to out number the non-Muslim population, hold nations hostage if anyone dares speak out against Islam, and will eventually position themselves to offer surrender to the rest of the world.

In Islam, surrender is offered before warfare where the recipient chooses to convert to Islam, pay heavy fines for the rest of their life, or die defending their religion.

We can no longer deny the threat of Islam looming on the horizon. In our country, we will have to eventually choose sides and defend ourselves, once again, for the freedoms that make our country so great.

21 June 2007

Payback, the Threat, and Jackassery

From Fox news:
"BAGHDAD — Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops pressed forward for the second day Wednesday with an operation aimed at clearing out a Sunni insurgent stronghold northeast of Baghdad. The U.S. military said at least 30 Al Qaeda fighters were killed and several bombs and weapons caches destroyed as the soldiers fought their way through the streets of Baqouba.
The U.S. military operation that involves some 10,000 American soldiers in Diyala province, an Al Qaeda bastion to the north and east of Baghdad, matched in size the force that American generals sent against the insurgent-held city of Fallujah 2 1/2 years ago. By late Tuesday, the military had reported only one American death, a Task Force Lightning soldier killed by an explosion near his vehicle."

Thank goodness the Army has finally found some teeth, working some payback, and are taking the fight to the enemy. It has been frustrating watching the Army convulse from inaction while the insurgents continually pound away at us. I guess the Army finally found its "De Cohones Acero".

Speaking of the threat out there...this is from a Time Magazine article due out this week. It is probably the most descriptive I've seen to demonstrate what your armed forces are facing on a daily basis.:
"Saif Abdallah says his inventions have helped kill or maim scores, possibly hundreds, of Americans. For more than four years, he has been developing remote-control devices that Sunni insurgents use to detonate improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the roadside bombs that are the No. 1 killer of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The only time he ever felt a pang of regret was in the spring of 2006, when he heard that the Pentagon, in a bid to fight the growing IED menace, had roped in a team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Abdallah, an electronics engineer by training, once dreamed of studying for a Ph.D. there. "I thought to myself, If my life had gone differently, who knows? I might have been on that team," he says, his eyes widening as he imagines that now impossible scenario. Then he shrugs. "God decided I should be on the other side."
...The insurgents have upgraded their weaponry. A field commander of the Islamic Army told me his men had produced "hundreds" of huge IEDs more destructive than the armor-piercing bombs that, the U.S. believes, are being smuggled into Iraq from Iran. He said the new bombs are being buried deep in dirt tracks on the outskirts of Baghdad that are likely to be used by American patrols. Some of the bombs are planted in sewers and irrigation culverts; their concrete lining would direct most of the force of an explosion upward — enough to "turn an Abrams tank into an airplane."
...General Richard Cody, Army vice chief of staff, told Congress in April that finding and defusing roadside bombs is not a long-term solution. "The real issue about defeating IEDs ... is not at the point of impact," he said. "We have to go and find the guys making them and kill them. We have to find the guys who are getting ready to place them and kill them. That's how you defeat IEDs." Abdallah concurs. "They are not going to defeat me with technology," he says. "If they want to get rid of IEDs, they have to kill me and everyone like me." If they don't, Abdallah is only going to get better at what he does, with deadly consequences for American soldiers. The terrorism geek has come a long way since our previous meeting. To demonstrate his prowess, he produces a black briefcase-size device with Japanese markings and flicks a switch on its side. He claims that the device is similar to those used by U.S. troops to block cellular signals around IEDs and disable bombs wired to detonate with a cell-phone call. Abdallah says he was given the device by a Saudi militant who asked him to find a way around jamming signals. He invites the four people in the room to try to use their cell phones; none of us can get a signal. "I've jammed you all," he says, tapping the black device. But his own phone, a cheap Nokia, shows a full-strength signal. "I made a few small changes inside," he says, holding up the phone and grinning triumphantly. "It took me just one day to figure it out." It is grim evidence of the perils facing the U.S. in Iraq that men like Abdallah can still make killing Americans look easy.

The other Jackasses who are killing America are Sen John Kerry and Sen Edward Kennedy. I have previously mentioned the Immigration topic is going to be a hot button of debate and campaign trails. These two have captialized on the misery of one woman and are using it to grandstand the Immigration topic. If you read the following, it's obvious they dug this one out like the underhande swine that they are:

WASHINGTON — The wife of an Army specialist missing in Iraq could be deported because she is an illegal immigrant, but U.S. authorities say they have no intention of doing so in the foreseeable future, FOXNews.com has learned.
Army Spec. Alex Jimenez, 25, has been missing since May 12, when his unit was ambushed by insurgents. His wife, Yaderlin, was a resident of the Dominican Republican and entered the country illegally in 2001. The two married in 2004 and now live in Lawrence, Mass.
Procedures that could lead to her deportation began in 2006, but U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials alongside the Jimenez family attorney halted those proceedings before a deportation order could be issued, ICE spokeswoman Jamie Zuieback told FOXNews.com.
Yaderlin Jimenez's lawyer says she could still face deportation because ICE could reopen the case, but the case is in an inactive status in a New York immigration court, Zuieback said. "There would have to be a proactive effort to reopen it, and that's not something that's been done in the last year and a half," and there are no plans to do so, Zuieback said.
The case has drawn the interest of Massachusetts Sens. John Kerry and Edward Kennedy, both Democrats. Kerry on Wednesday sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security asking that Yaderlin Jimenez not be deported while the search for her husband continues, and Kennedy said he has been in contact with DHS and is "very concerned" about the situation.

I am anxious to come home from this tour. I am however, disgusted by the state of our country.

Too many people are overly concerned about what's happening in their soap operas, the life of the rich, spoiled actors, and what's happening on their favorite comedy show on Fox or the WB. Jay Leno goes out to the streets to make fun of people who have no idea of geography or current events.

While all this is happening, colossal asses like Kennedy and Kerry run amuck soiling our country with their antics...amoung many other members of Congress. The fact they are elected by the people to represent the people baffles me and makes me wonder what type of people are actually voting for these low lifes.

The worst part of all is the number of kids whose ultimate sacrifice, in the name of freedom and democracy, has paid for their fellow Americans to be apethetic and free to not give a s#!& about what's really important and worth caring about.

17 June 2007

My Tribute for Father's Day

Advertisements for Father's Day gifts have traditionally been about golf accessories and BBQ equipment. Although my Dad played golf at one time and can grill a mean steak, his life is not defined by golf or cooking on the grill...he's a Family Man.

His care and love for his family extended into his professional life at Proctor and Gamble where he was well and widely known for his professional acumen, fair accountability, and his personal skills treating office and international colleagues as brothers and sisters. He is directly responsible for the promotion of many skilled office colleagues through the ranks of P&G by his own mentoring.

Dad has been my coach on the field for countless seasons of soccer, baseball, basketball, and football. He's most importantly been my coach and mentor off the field passing his beliefs and advice to me as I grew into a man, Officer, and now as a father to my children. My most fond memory of growing up is in the midst of post-dinner homework time (for both of us) I'd grab a seat in Dad's den. We'd talk about everything and anything for an easy hour. Thankfully, those conversations have never stopped and continue to this day.

For everything you have taught and passed down to me; making me the man I am today...Thank you, Dad! You are more than a mentor, you're my best friend. I love you.

14 June 2007

Explosions and Geese

Yesterday was a bit of a close call with inbound 107mm rockets. We had one drop in 900ft W/NW of our building and another drop in 1/4 mile at the water purification plant! Good stuff.

On the flipside, our boys were returning the favor with large diameter artillary this morning...at 5a.m.!! Talk about a rude awakening. The artillary is just across the way from we live so when they go off, it's as if they are just outside my door. I was in the midst of prairie dogging from behind my concrete barrier when the 3rd round went off. In the still of the morning air, I could hear the round after it exited the tube and arced overhead on its way to make a bad day for Hadji. It was a really neat sound that I am unable to do justice in words. Of course all outbound artillery rounds are awesome, but in the stillness of the moment this one was really cool.

I went out looking for the blast crater of the 107mm rocket that landed near us today before lunch. It's miserably hot outside (110 degrees in the shade) and a strong hot wind like car exhaust blowing in your face. I was sidetracked by the fix-it lot for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team. The picture below is one of their response vehicles. It was hit by an EFP (copper spear shaped slugs traveling 4,000ft/sec, slices through armor like a hot knife through butter, and igniting the inside of the cabin on fire as it passes through). They have stripped it down for spare parts due its unavailibility for salvage.

Along my travels in search of blast craters, I came across the Camp Victory Geese Family.

Heading into the pond for a little cooling off.

The adult geese provide barrier defense and keep the youth close to the shore.

Sleep is good for growing and weathering the heat. I would like to have nap time again!

10 June 2007

Current Events & Some Opinion

Well, it's about time I typed something up!

Things are runnning smoothely here and the light at the end of the tunnel has grown from the width of a pin to the width of a #2 pencil.

We have begun our negotiations with the AF folks who own us at Balad AB (primary AF base and hold on all things AF in Iraq) for the outbound journey. As of today, I should be rolling home in accordance with my count down timer.

Interestingly enough, the Sunni tribes in Baghdad have declared they are more interested in fighting the al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) than the Coalition Forces. They realize we will eventually leave, but the AQI may never leave unless driven out or killed. That's good news for Coalition Forces in the near term.

The Shia, heavily controlled and financed by the Iranians, are recruiting young Iraqi teenagers (cheaper than hiring foreign fighters) to battle Coalition Forces and are even approaching elementary aged school kids - in school- to tell them the U.S. is their greatest enemy and the Iranians are the way of Iraq's future.

It's a sad day in American news reporting when Paris Hilton is the top running story. What has happened to us? Why should we care about the high maintenance, ignorant daughter of priviliege doing jail time? She broke the law and probation(twice) and is being measured under the law like everyone else...albeit her treatment in jail is far from common. I don't care much for Martha Stewart either, but at least when it was time to go to jail, she did her time quietly and moved on. Unfortunately, I think too many Americans have latched on to really bad role models. On the other hand, the folks doing good, moral, and charitable things aren't geting any press either.

Two big issues for the upcoming elections will, in my opinion, be the American troop presence in Iraq and laws on immigration. No mater how you slice it, we will be in Iraq for quite some time in one fashion or another to preserve the government model we have helped to establish and maintain a regional influence against Iran.

On immigration, I recently read an opinion piece discussing how America has created a welfare state for illegals (what part about ILLEGAL doesn't register with people??) to receive health care, schooling, and benefits that should be reserved for American citizens. I am in complete agreement!

On top of that, instead of my children learning Spanish out of pure curiosity, they will have to learn it out of necessity because ILLEGAL immigrants refuse to learn English. Although I serve this country as an Officer in the USAF, with the oath of my office to protect the Constitution and the rights it preserves, I take great umbrage to ILLEGALS flying their national flags to demonstrate against how America has treated them and for how we may dare to enforce the immigration laws. We are a great nation of ideals and way of life. Along the way, we will have to get strict and clean house for America's financial and security sake. Just my opinion.

I leave you with one of our former President's belief on immigration to America:

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Theodore Roosevelt 1907

06 June 2007


GRANDMOTHER by Sheria Barnett

Her words were like a golden thread that bound our family, her wisdom like an art she shared so generously, her feelings like a quilt that warmed us like no other, the hands of one so dear- the one we call Grandmother.

Today, my Grandma, Ernestine, would have been 100 years old.

The summer marks a birthday and passing of 3 of my 4 Grandmothers with February closing out the four. Ernestine, Anne Marie, Edna and Ruth all grew up and endured two World Wars and the Great Depression among many World shaping events. Whether it was on a farm, post-war Germany, or post-war America, they raised their children with strict love and sacrificed their own well-being to feed and clothe their family without ever a complaint. They each had a tenacity and inner strength that defined their generation.

One fond memory for each among many pleasant:
Ernestine- your homemade donuts for my visits
Anne Marie- the snowballs you made as large as softballs with bare hands at my bus stop
Edna- your perseverance and your love for the birds & Pelican talks to the school kids
Ruth- your love you poured out to every infant in the family and church nursery

To these fine women, a loving tribute to their incredible strength, enduring love and grace. You are infinitely missed. We are much better people for the gift of You given so lovingly to us.

05 June 2007

4 Days of Rest & Relaxation

Back in the saddle now that I have had four days off from the constant grind. It is quite amazing what sleep can do for a person. I realized this when I stopped in to work on Sunday to teach a class to our new EWO's. My colleagues sat at their desks with obvious fatigue in their faces and demeanor. Orto said i could come back on Tuesday and make fun of the tired people in the office. I replied, "No way! Y'all are tired, cranky, and heavily armed!"

My days were spent rolling out of bed around noon, grabbing a bite to eat at the dining facility, visiting with my Ugandan friends, working out at the gym, hanging out at the Morale tent checking email, grabbing some dinner, calling home, and then back to my trailer to read the book 1776. I did accomplish the complete cleaning of my trailer by sweeping and mopping, arranged my gear for turn in when I arrive in Kuwait, and packed a few boxes to ship home.

The war continued without me with tragic results and great violence. Just as the War on Terror has reared its head with the plot to blow up the fuel depot for JFK airport. The fight is not dead no matter where we go. We hadn't dealt with any terrorists from Trinidad...thus the term Global in the Global War on Terror.

Until next time, when I should have some pictures to share, God Bless America!

30 May 2007


The dragonflies are out in abundance around here. This one was hanging out on the aerial of our truck for a while. This is 16x digital zoom from my Canon Power Shot A630.

Our Camp Victory baby geese are growing up quickly!

US Military forces have captured the sister of Khalid Sheik Mohammed.Thought to have known about the destruction of the WTC's on 9/11 as well as helping to hide and secure her bother she has finally been found!

She is best at spreading lies and deceit - for years she has been known as the "Mother of Propaganda."

Sorry! I really just couldn't help myself on this one!

27 May 2007

Some thoughts and Memorial Day

There hasn't been much happening since my last post. We call it Ground Hog Day - comes from the Bill Murray movies where he wakes up repeatedly on Ground Hog Day in PA and won't move on in life until he becomes a better man. I find it to be a hilarious movie and a convenient description of my time here on some days.

Earlier this week, the Department of Defense released a story about a captured Al Qaeda Torture Manual discovered in one of the raids. The story was presented along these lines:

"In a recent raid on an al-Qaeda safe house in Iraq, U.S. military officials recovered an assortment of crude drawings depicting torture methods like “blowtorch to the skin” and “eye removal.” Along with the images, which you’ll find on the following pages, soldiers seized various torture implements, like meat cleavers, whips, and wire cutters."

My first thought was, "How terribly inappropriate to release this story when two of three soldiers from the 10th Mountain are still missing". Their families don't need to read about such things in this time of crisis. I am glad to see this received only one day of press and I had to work at finding it again for this post.

My second thought: "This, my fellow Americans, is what we are up against here in this forsaken land." I have previously written about this region's lack of compassion and value for life. They do this to each other - the pictures in this manual show Arab men as the victims. You can bet your retirement on the treatment rendered to American soldiers is extra-judicial in the application of the torture techniques. No matter how many insurgents we pick up or kill, there are at least 2 more to take the last ones place. It is akin to a virus spreading through your computer infecting and corrupting every file until you are left with nothing but a box and no internal workings.

It's hot here. It was 112 in the shade at lunch, there's is no wind today, and the amount of dust and pollution in the air has created a low ceiling that traps the heat between the earth and the solid haze that hangs over us. With no relief from the heat, it's no wonder people fight all the time. Their brains bake in this heat and they can't think straight.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. If you would, please take an extra moment of quiet thought and say the word "Thanks" for the kids who have paid the ultimate sacrifice here and for the brave American men and women who fought and forged our nation and this world through their efforts, tenacity, ingenuity and sacrifice. Land of the free and home of the brave. America's freedoms and rights of the individual are the example and the hope of every nation on this planet. To my fellow Veterans and their families who endured...Thanks! May God continue to bless our country.

24 May 2007

My Mom's Birthday and the Toby Keith Concert

First and formost, Happy Birthday to my wonderful Mom...she's 65 years young! My card may not make it to you on time, but I'll call you bright and early to be certain I am the first to wish you a good day!

Happy Birthday also goes out to Andra's Dad, Bill! His birthday was on the 20th.

Last night we were entertained by Toby Keith. He put on a one hour show for us and really put his heart in to it. I am not much of a country music fan, but I will gladly listen to any Toby Keith music from now on. There were around 400 soldiers and civilians who came out to hear the show. He's travelled all around the Middle East playing for soldiers in some of the most remote areas on his USO tour. He told us 21 days out of his year was the least he could do for the rest of us serving over here away from our families and in the name of American ideals and freedom. He even sat in on a re-enlistment of a bunch of soldiers too.
Enjoy the following pictures...

Leave it to the Aussies to bring the fun to the party! It was a matter of 10 minutes from when the crowd formed for the concert that they produced the Aussie flag beach ball.

Toby was given an ACU uniform shirt with his name and bunch of unit patches. He opened the concert wearing the shirt and a 3rd Infantry Division hat for about 5 numbers. It was still around 95 degrees at 8pm when the show started!
With little vinettes between songs, some of the numbers he played were: A Little Less Talk and a lot More Action, Not as Good as I Used To Be, Whiskey Girl, Runnin' Block, and about 12 more. I was about 125 ft back from the stage but was able to get good digital zoom with my camera for these pictures.

One more week until my 4 day pass. Those 4 days will be the only days I have had off since my arrival and the only ones I'll get before I leave Iraq in August.

21 May 2007

100 Days

Now that I have gone back and used spell checker and clarified my thoughts: 100 Days revised

Normally in the government sphere, there is some significance about the "First 100 Days". Being the captive audience, government employee that I am, I'll reflect on my first 100 days on this second trip to Iraq.

My first observation is that I have actually been gone from my home for 122 days. The first 22 days of training didn't count into this deployment...they were just combat and electronic warfare training. The clock finally started ticking when we set foot in Kuwait for our advanced training before arriving in Iraq.

I read through five different intelligence summaries called INTSUMS (creative, huh?) every day and three of them have, on average, 25 post-patrol reports. To date, I have read through 156 INTSUMS and 5,750 patrol reports about IED's. It's through these reports that I learn about the loss of soldiers in horrific detail and pictures. Those details, pictures, and some times the names of the lost are snapshots in time that will never leave and forever weigh heavy on my heart and mind.

My schedule runs about 13 hours each day. It could be much more, but at a certain point, you just have to say 'enough' and know that everything will still be there in the morning. The length of time spent at work is exacerbated by the fact that I work in a Navy-run organization. They have the "Boat Mentality". When you are adrift in the ocean with nowhere to go, you simply stay at work for 18 hours and then go back for a couple hours of sleep and do the same thing the next day. I do my best to be an example to my colleagues and break that paradigm of endless droning hours at work in order to go back to my trailer and have some 'non-work just me reading a book or calling home ' time. Working 7 days a week with no days off, you'll drive yourself into an unstable state of mind if you can't change focus. It's all about Balance, Grasshopper...

Both during and after work, I have availed myself to the gym and to church. Both locations are a salvation in and of themselves. Although I read from the Bible nightly, I can't always say the same for going to the gym. I'll have to make the change to my schedule in order to make more time to work out. Sunday's church services and fellowship have been good for a spiritual uplift from the death and destruction I read about and report everyday.

Technology is a wonderful thing...when it works...and resources must be used to the fullest extent. Networks are set up for people to share information and there is often a share drive set up on the server for the network. Golden rule #1 ALWAYS back up your files to an outside source such as CD or the share drive. One never knows when a hard drive for their computer will suddenly become corrupted and all the hours and effort of creating and saving for future reference is forever wiped away. So now, I copy every new document over to my folder on the share drive...

Being deployed exposes you to so many new people. I am very fortunate to work with the personalities of the men in my office. Granted there are days when the humor and farting is a bit too much to handle (results of my own fatigue) but across the board I am fortunate to work with top-notch professionals who make being at work as worthwhile as the mission we complete.

I am also very fortunate to be friends with the Ugandans who provide security on our base. Magala, JohnBosco, Festo, Joseph, Emmanuel, and Allen are just a few who have befriended me and work to help me become fluent in Swahili. They all have great personalities and are happy to meet me half-way in learning not just the language, but about their tribes and country. These men are all very educated and unfortunately do not have many jobs to choose from in Uganda. Thus, they take contract jobs outside the country for work and money. Magala and his friend have started a school in their village. His work here earns money to pay for the land and building of their school. My family and I have committed to supporting his school with supplies and books in the near future.

Lastly, is close encounters of the explosive kind. Throughout the day we hear explosions and gunfire on the other side of the perimeter wall...from which we are situated about 75ft away. Volume and shock wave are the two factors we use to judge the proximity of explosions. Inside our office, we have a dry erase board hanging in front of our window. Explosions that are close enough will actually bow the window and shake the white board. We'll look at each other with raised eyebrows and say,"Nice one!". Two nights ago, I had the utmost in "Holy Smokes!! I need to duck" experiences ever. Usually, I go prairie dogging after an explosion, but not this one...at least not for 5 minutes! At 1:40 in the morning, this explosion actually lit up the inside of my trailer -despite the brown towel I have hanging in the window to block out morning sunlight - and the shock wave went through my trailer like an earthquake. I actually expected to see some huge smoking hole in front of my trailer. I don't know what it was or where it took place, but it was by far the largest explosion I have been exposed to yet.

Basically, I am safe where I work and do not face the dangers and death that Army kids deal with day in and day out for their 15 months here. I often feel guilty for my desk job and leaving after only 6 months. As Pastor Mike prayed over me before my departure in January, "The Lord has a plan for my presence here..." I keep praying for the insight to realize the Lord's plan and His intentions for my personal and professional work. I am satisfied and content that I have valuable work and contribute to the counter-IED mission...albeit from a desk. I have supplied intelligence directly to units used for mission planning and have been pleased to read the results of their missions.

This was once the fertile crescent and the birthplace of humanity...with the believed location of the Garden of Eden. This country (and the entire region of the Middle East), in my opinion, is the belly of the Beast. We are trying to provide Western values and policies to a place so locked in an environment that stopped evolving over a thousand years ago. The disparity is so great that we can't expect to succeed in my lifetime. The biggest difference we face is in the value of life. Western cultures cherish it and the hard liner's & extremists see other's lives (not their own) as expendable...using women, children, and animals to blow up American soldiers. I have no answers (other than the use of fissile weapons to wipe the slate clean) but know the battle will continue for a very long time. If the mass populace wants a real reason to complain to their Congressman about the US involvement here, have them complain loudly about the Iranians. While they are at it, they should also ask our courageous Democratic led House and Senate "leaders" to take a break from bashing the President and come up with a plan to deal with filthy Persians. Just my opinion.

100 days down, 82 to go...

16 May 2007

CAT and Geese and Mourning

My cousin, Kevin, works for CAT and travels the world over. Thought he would like to see there are CAT heavy lifters here too. Come to think of it, my cousin Jeff works for CAT too. Enjoy lads!

On my way to the palace today I had the opportunity to see the Camp Victory geese and their new arrivals taking a field trip. I think they were off to swimming lessons...

The Lord giveth and He taketh away.
This week we will mourn the loss of USAF SSgt Self who was killed in an EFP attack on his Military Police convoy. If he is the same fellow I am thinking of, we just gave him a farewell at church where he played guitar and sang with the Praise Band Joyful Noez. I'll find out for certain on Friday. Either way, I saw the post blast analysis and my heart goes out to his family as they too mourn his loss.
Life is fragile, friends. Enjoy the blessing of this day.

13 May 2007

My Tribute for Mother's Day

The formative period for building character for eternity is in the nursery. The mother is queen of that realm and sways a scepter more potent than that of kings or priests. ~Author Unknown
My beautiful, loving and strong wife, Andra, is indeed the Queen and the Source of all things good in the Stoller household. With great patience and equality, she is raising and home schooling our four children by example of love and Christian values. Due to my constant deployments, Andra has accomplished this monstrous and phenominally important task single-handed and with great finesse. Andra is also my very best friend and complete balance. She is always the logical to my emotional, the brains to my brawn, and a staunch supporter when I venture out with another new idea. Bless her heart, she still laughs at most of my jokes too. We have undertaken the biggest adventure of our lives...married each other for better or worse, expanded our union with 4 uniquely different children and always dealing with changes of duty station and deployments at the whim of the Air Force. I couldn't imagine going through this life without the blessing of Andra by my side. Thank you, my Love, for being the awesome friend, counselor, wife, and magnificent mother you are and for the way you have made all of our lives so much better with the depth and strength of your heart.

All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother. ~Abraham Lincoln
My Mom, Inge, is the other Saint who has blessed my life beyond measurable bounds. She has been my solid rock of support and best of all...my greatest fan. Not one concert or ball game was missed by Mom...ever. I am fortunate my Mom stopped working at Proctor & Gamble and essentially went to High School with me. She managed the sports team pictures, ticket sales for all the sports game at lunch time, and dedicated herself to chauffer duties for both my drumset and me. We were named co-Best Spirited for the senior class of 1987. In college, Mom suffered as much and most likely more than I did with each end of quarter final exams. Throughout the my time in the Air Force and the rasing of Andra's and my children, Mom has always been there with advice and help that came straight from her heart and with immeasurable love. On top of all she gives to my family and me, she has over 11,000 hours of volunteer time at Anderson Mercy Hospital in the Surgery Waiting Room where she keeps order and takes care of each family as if they were her family waiting in the room. At times, Dad will say, "You're just like your mother..." What better compliment could I possily ask to receive? I love you Mom for all that you are and all the love you have to give so unselfishly to all who receive it.

11 May 2007

Kodak Moments

I was taking a training class over the last three days and went walking around Camp Slayer during an extended lunch break. Luckily I took these pictures on a good day. The weather hasn't been all that stellar the last two days with the wind blowing the dust in and everything seemed to be in a haze. Enjoy some the pictures below:

Mom, Dad, and the kids out for a paddle.

All the trees and bushes are now in full bloom.

Victory Over America Palace in its still unfinished state reflected nicely off of calm waters.
Cool looking red flower...
Camp Slayer Mosque
The Perfume Palace

08 May 2007

It's Officially HOT

It's already 90 degrees at 9:30am this morning on the way into work.

Last night on our way to dinner at 6:30pm, it was 100 degrees in the shade of our front awning to the building. Yesterday's high was 112, no clouds, and the wind felt like a hair dryer blowing in your face. Spring has sprung and left us high and dry for the heat of summer. I am convinced the persistent problems of the Middle East are exacerbated by the heat slow cooking the brains of everyone out here until they can't think straight. Just an opinion.

There was a USO concert here on Sunday by the all female rock group named Bandshe. The flier that was distributed around base looked kind of 80's ish and so we checked them out on Google Images. Frightened by what we saw, we checked out the concert after dinner out of pure morbid curiosity... and long enough for a couple of pictures.

Google image:

the actual band who performed:

Objectively, they were a talented group who sang everything from the Allman Brothers to Christine Aguilera. They chatted up a couple guys from the audience in between songs. The keyboardist on the right is a 40 something school teacher from California...said she hoped her students would take some pride in their country and serve like we are doing now. Nice touch...she is leading her students by example.

The following photo was posted on the Multi-National Corps-Iraq website. We have a few organizations on base (not sure which ones) who make their way out to the community orphanages and local communities. Yet another example of Americans opening their hearts to the locals, making a difference, and you'll never see this on CNN or the liberal news media who only want to sabotage what we do.

Enjoy the heartfelt smile of joy on this child's face.

04 May 2007

Thank you Miss Suzie and Kacee

I had the pleasure of receiving rice krispie treats from Suz and a nicely crafted card from Kacee in her class. Note Suz's nifty powder blue construction paper wrapping in the right of the picture. Thank you both for your thoughtful card and kitchen prowess! :)

This is approximately 2/3 of the treasure trove of Vita Splash my Mom sent to us. We had received a couple boxes from someone else in a care package and I mentioned to my folks how much we liked it. Mom went immediately to the Vita Splash website and arranged a plethora for us. My office is the envy of the unit and there was much rejoicing when the box arrived.
I have been experimenting with some of the Google Gadgets for weblogs. I appreciate your patience as I work out the new functionalities for this blog. For some things, I should just stick with the tried and true...like the clock. So back to basics for that one, the count down timer stays, and the new weather that updates itself will stay as well.
It's Friday...I finally broke into double digits for the countdown...my hair is growing back...what a great day!