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!