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...