29 June 2006

Not in Ramadi!

Insert Happy Dance. I made it out of Ramadi on a Marine CH-46 last night, along with a young Topog who is attached to my company, and two young sappers from B Company. We got in, spent the night in a transit tent, and manifested this morning at 0800. Unfortunately, the flight isn't until this evening. And I might not make it on since I'm not "supposed" to fly out until tomorrow.

I have one thing to rectify. Jen (teasingly) grumped at me for writing a 7 page screed on some war she'd never heard of, and no mention of her. So I threatened to write something about the tatas. They are wonderful. They rock. It's half the reason I married her. The other half being that she's crazy enough to say yes.

(For those of you that don't know me well enough by now, the last paragraph was entirely in jest. I really married her because she was the first hetero female gamer I've ever met who was under 300 lbs.)


Mudville Gazette has an interesting story about the Iraqis suggesting to the US Army that our approach in one city is too nice, with too much emphasis on civic development rather than teaming civic development with an effective military strategy which will also put pressure on the populace. I seem to recall recently writing a long discussion of that point cleverly disguised as a short history of the Phillipine Insurrection.


Castle Aaargh arguing against referring to the enemy with terms based on "jihad" or their troops as "Mujahadeen". I prefer rendering them both into saheeds (martyrs) with great expediency thus rendering academic the debate on what to call them. But the argument hinges on one simple idea, that the terrorists AND THOSE WHO SUPPORT THEM are bad Muslims. You cannot simply argue that the terrorists are bad Muslims because they do not have the authority to wage war on behalf of the Muslim community (as some "progressive" or "moderate" Muslims will argue) while teaching your children that Christians and Jews are the enemies of God and that if there were a "truly Muslim" state it would have a duty to fight the Christians, Jews, apostates, and pagans. You also have to attack the worldview that underpins this violence. That worldview is the idea that Islam is the only legitemate religion and that those who have been offered a chance to convert to Islam are the enemies of God and Muslims if they reject that chance. Further, the idea that Law and Religion have anything to do with each other must go out the window at some point. Only then can we start talking about what is or is not "real Islam" in the sense of meaning that "real Muslims" are people I wouldn't mind owning firearms, flying airplanes, or living near my family.


I'm amused. Because some of these things ARE provided for in international law.

Let me explain. No, let me sum up.

Have any of you ever READ the Geneva Conventions?

The Fourth Convention is a good one to start with.

Art. 5 Where in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State.

That to me sounds like, "If you are a civillian who gets involved in the fighting, you just gave up your protected status."

Art. 28. The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.

Art. 68. Protected persons who commit an offence which is solely intended to harm the Occupying Power, but which does not constitute an attempt on the life or limb of members of the occupying forces or administration, nor a grave collective danger, nor seriously damage the property of the occupying forces or administration or the installations used by them, shall be liable to internment or simple imprisonment, provided the duration of such internment or imprisonment is proportionate to the offence committed. Furthermore, internment or imprisonment shall, for such offences, be the only measure adopted for depriving protected persons of liberty. The courts provided for under Article 66 of the present Convention may at their discretion convert a sentence of imprisonment to one of internment for the same period.

The penal provisions promulgated by the Occupying Power in accordance with Articles 64 and 65 may impose the death penalty against a protected person only in cases where the person is guilty of espionage, of serious acts of sabotage against the military installations of the Occupying Power or of intentional offences which have caused the death of one or more persons, provided that such offences were punishable by death under the law of the occupied territory in force before the occupation began.

The death penalty may not be pronounced against a protected person unless the attention of the court has been particularly called to the fact that since the accused is not a national of the Occupying Power, he is not bound to it by any duty of allegiance.

In any case, the death penalty may not be pronounced on a protected person who was under eighteen years of age at the time of the offence.

Art. 69. In all cases the duration of the period during which a protected person accused of an offence is under arrest awaiting trial or punishment shall be deducted from any period of imprisonment of awarded.

Hey, let's talk the Third Convention. Guess what it says about legal and illegal combatants and the protections due a prisoner of war?

Art 4. A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:
(a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) that of carrying arms openly;
(d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

(3) Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.

(4) Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization, from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.

(5) Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions of international law.

(6) Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

Now, I'm no frickin' JAG weenie, but it sounds to me like folks who don't carry arms openly aren't covered by the Geneva Conventions. Which kind of excludes terrorists and insurgents. Hmmmm. . .

Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

Oh, we have to have a tribunal. That's easy enough. Note that it doesn't say "Supreme Court Decison" or "Jury Trial" or anything like those bastards down in Gitmo are going to end up getting. Yup, according to the Geneva Conventions the military tribunal idea is perfectly legit.

Well, what happens to folks that don't fall under the Geneva Conventions. I'm confused. What is the controlling legal document here?

Well, we're signatories to the 1907 Hauge Conventions. I wonder what they say?

The qualifications of belligerents
Article 1. The laws, rights, and duties of war apply not only to armies, but also to militia and volunteercorps fulfilling the following conditions:
1. To be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
2. To have a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance;
3. To carry arms openly; and
4. To conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
In countries where militia or volunteer corps constitute the army, or form part of it, they are included under the denomination "army."

Art. 2. The inhabitants of a territory which has not been occupied, who, on the approach of the enemy, spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading troops without having had time to organize themselves in accordance with Article 1, shall be regarded as belligerents if they carry arms openly and if they respect the laws and customs of war.

Art. 3. The armed forces of the belligerent parties may consist of combatants and non-combatants. In the case of capture by the enemy, both have a right to be treated as prisoners of war.

Sounds familliar enough.

Art. 29. A person can only be considered a spy when, acting clandestinely or on false pretences, he obtains or endeavours to obtain information in the zone of operations of a belligerent, with the intention of communicating it to the hostile party.Thus, soldiers not wearing a disguise who have penetrated into the zone of operations of the hostile army, for the purpose of obtaining information, are not considered spies. Similarly, the following are notconsidered spies: Soldiers and civilians, carrying out their mission openly, entrusted with the delivery of despatches intended either for their own army or for the enemy's army. To this class belong likewise persons sent in balloons for the purpose of carrying despatches and, generally, of maintaining communications between the different parts of an army or a territory.

Ooh, this sounds promising. If a person is in civillian clothes and is doing recon for a terrorist attack, he can be shot under this article. We have to give him a trial but it doesn't say it has to be a civillian court or a jury trial. Sounds fair to me. Problem solved.

25 June 2006

Schoolbooks and Krags

“It was wonderful and fully explained the ease with which our friends, the enemy, have, when beaten, been able to escape destruction. . . He has shed all signs of the soldier, grabbed a white flag and some agricultural tool and gone to work, hard, in the nearest field and shouted “viva America” when the hot American soldier again hove into sight. I caught many wearing two suits, one military, the other, underneath, civilian, so as to be ready for the quicker transformation.”
--COL Robert Lee Bullard

“It has occurred several times when a small force stops in a village to rest the people all greet you with kindly expressions while the same men slip away, go out into the bushes, get their rifles, and waylay you further down the road. You rout them and scatter them they hide their guns and take back to their houses and claim to be amigos.”
--John L. Jordan

Schoolbooks and Krags: The United States Army in the Philippines, 1898 – 1902
John Morgan Gates. Published in 1973 by Greenwood Press, Inc. ISBN 0-8371-5818-4
This book was recommended to me as a study of the issues of Counterinsurgency operations several years ago. I have spent considerable time attempting to secure a copy, and after almost two years on backorder, Amazon.com finally produced it for me recently.

The issue of the performance of the Army in the Philippines is one that is utterly unfamiliar to most even within the service. Those who have heard of it are familiar primarily with the actions and supposed atrocities in Samar and perhaps have heard the ditty alleged to be a popular marching song regarding civilizing the “filthy, khakiac ladrones” with a Krag. As a side note, the ‘Krag’ is the Krag-Jorgenson single-shot breech loading rifle that had a brief service life and was the first rifle adopted by the Army which used smokeless powder and small high velocity bullets.

The immediacy of this study in 1973 and again today is obvious. For all that the vituperation heaped on the United States Army in the Philippines by anti-imperialists at the time and post-modernist or revisionist historians today, we did one hell of a job. The Philippines were not only incorporated into the United States’ Pacific empire, but less than 40 years later were our most enthusiastic supporters and fought the Japanese tooth and nail on our behalf. Even today, a significant number of Filipinos serve in the United States Armed Forces.

So what happened between the surrender by the Spanish to Admiral Dewey and the final surrender of Malvar in April of 1902? This tightly written and fascinating study tells the story well and quite readably.

In 1899, the first significant contingents of the Army arrived in the Philippines. They took possession of Manila and a handful of other locations, but the Filipino insurgents were in effective control of the rest of the islands. Hostilities eventually broke out when Aguinaldo finally realized that the Americans were planning to keep the Philippines. In a short, sharp operation, the Filipino army was defeated utterly, and it was proved incapable of resisting any American force of significant size. Discipline, training, and equipment were too dissimilar for there to be any real contest. Even when assaulting fortified positions, the Americans took few casualties and killed many of Aguinaldo’s troops. The Army, believing that the insurgency was dying, focused on what are today referred to as “civil-military affairs”. The now-familiar acronym of SWEAT was not yet invented, but the same areas of concern were in the forefront of the minds of the American officers. Schools were built, and often staffed by officers and NCOs of the American forces. Sanitation was a major concern due to the risk of disease, and as the liberal idea that we should “respect their culture” was not yet invented, the Army wrote sanitation codes which resembled those in use in American cities at the time. Unemployed men were hired in droves to clean up trash. As a result, the death rate from disease dropped by as much as 60% in some areas. Medical treatment and vaccination programs were set in place and consumed much of the time of Medical Corps officers. The Spanish friars were put in their place, being removed from control of local government and of the school system. Again, where the Filipino culture was an obstacle to good government, the Americans tended to run it over. However, much was preserved where it was not objectionable. Initially the legal system was run along Spanish lines for the civil courts, with military tribunals serving as criminal courts. As the court system matured, more jurisdictions over criminal cases were transferred to them. The Americans did introduce such novel concepts as the inadmissibility of hearsay evidence and other protections of the rights of the accused.

Unfortunately, the insurgency was just beginning. The Filipinos were discarding the conventionalized force structure created to combat and defeat Spanish colonial troops, and instituting a decentralized guerilla structure which operated by means of terror and ambush. Their primary emphasis was on Filipino civilians, because like all guerillas, taking on people who can shoot back is something they just don’t have the guts for. An American unit could roll into a town and do whatever they pleased, but the minute the troops left, anyone who cooperated with them would be at risk of getting their throat cut, buried alive, or beheaded.

This intensified in 1900 in preparation for the presidential election of November of that year.
“[A]dopt all means. . . advisable for strengthening our army, in order that, in this manner the imperialists of the United States will have no cause to contribute to their success at the next Presidential election.”
--Aguinaldo, in his instructions to his generals prior to the 1900 election.

Then, like today, the “anti-Imperialists” were hard at work to sabotage the war effort. They sent propaganda to the Filipinos and even to American troops to attempt to demoralize them. They accused McKinley of being more or less the root of all evil. The insurgents were very aware that if William Jennings Bryan were elected president, the Americans would pack up and leave all the “Americanistas” to the dubious mercies of their fellow countrymen. Oddly enough, the Army was quite aware of this as well, and letters are preserved from some of the officer corps expressing disgust with the anti-Imperialist crowd.

By mid-1900, the policy of benevolent pacification and governance were put in jeopardy. Since the average Filipino was playing both sides against the middle, attempting to placate both the insurgents and the Americans, this caused a great deal of frustration on the part of many officers. The Macabebe (Filipino tribe) scouts that were attached to American units engaged in the “water cure” and other forms of terror. Official policy was strongly against such behavior. In Leyte, a Circular was issued by the Headquarters of First District, Department of Visayas, that instructed that Filipino were to be treated “with the utmost kindness and consideration unless it is positively known that they are insurgents.” In Luzon, an order was published that reminded the troops that “no end can be so desirable or important to justify a departure from the recognized laws of war or a resort to any deliberate measures of cruelty.” Still, incidents occurred.

In late 1900, there was a great deal of discussion of a change of policy. Especially for officers who had seen a great deal of benevolence and seemingly little return in terms of intelligence they could use to root out guerillas, harsher reprisals seemed to be required. In the words of General Loyd Wheaton, “You can’t put down a rebellion by throwing confetti and sprinkling perfumery.” To be fair, he also was of the opinion that if the majority of the Filipino people could be protected from insurgent violence and terror, that they would accept the authority of the United States and not cause further trouble.

One issue was that the American forces were acting with far greater consideration that was necessary under the Laws of Land Warfare. At that time, the controlling document was General Order No. 100, 1863. This, in paragraphs 82-85 authorized the death penalty against murderers, highway robbers, persons destroying property, spies, conspirators, and the part-time guerilla. These persons did not have the right to a military tribunal or the privileges of a prisoner of war, but could be summarily executed. This order had widespread international approval, having been adopted in 1870 by the Prussian Army and having been used as the framework for the Hague Convention in 1899.

For a comparison, look at the amount of paperwork required for military personnel to detain a person in Iraq, as compared to the strict law of the Geneva Conventions, under which a person taken in civilian clothing who participated in attacks against military targets (easily provable with ex-spray) can be executed by the sentence of a summary court-martial conducted in the field.

General Order 100 recognized the right of retaliation and classified guerillas in the same heading as “highway robbers or pirates.” Any person having communication with them could be subject to severe penalties, including death. Meanwhile, Washington was pressuring the military high command to do something to end the war quickly, preferably before the elections. The civil government commission, headed by William Taft, did not clarify matter much. He favored leniency and harsh treatment at the same time in different communications.

General MacArthur, under a great deal of stress and pressure, was not short of advice. It came from every quarter. The most useful bit of it came in the form of a study by 1LT W. T. Johnston on insurgent methods. To his everlasting credit, the General refused to compromise his basic belief in the efficacy of ‘beneficent republican American institutions’ and his policy retained the emphasis on benevolence towards the majority of the Filipinos. Another bulwark of the new policy was on the expansion of the educational system. Illustrating another unchanging facet of America’s relationship with her military, General MacArthur was now soundly criticized by Taft for being too lenient, where formerly he had been blasted by the same politician for being harsh and arbitrary.

Because American policy in the islands was tied to the election of 1900, General MacArthur decided to begin his offensive upon receipt of the news of McKinley’s reelection. This was a blatant attempt to capitalize upon the presumed demoralization of the insurgents, whose propaganda had been stressing the idea that it would only be necessary to hold out until Bryan was elected. By mid-December, there were 70,000 troops in the Philippines, most of whom were veterans. On December 19, MacArthur issued an order which stated that the objective of the forthcoming campaign was to “interrupt and, if possible, completely destroy this system,” by which he meant the shadow government network which provided supplies and recruits to the insurgents. He also issued a proclamation which outlined the provisions of the laws of war based on General Order 100. Persons who engaged in terrorist attacks upon civilians residing in occupied territory who were cooperating with the Americans were to be tried by the military. They would be charged with murder, assault, or arson as applicable, but would also be charged as ‘war rebels’ which could carry the death penalty. He also explained to the part-time guerilla something which could be usefully explained to certain people today.

“Men who participate in hostilities without being part of a regularly-organized force, and without sharing continuously in its operations, but who do so with intermittent returns to their homes and avocations, divest themselves of the character of soldiers, and if captured are not entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war.”

Compulsion, intimidation, or fear would not be accepted as excuses, in an attempt to make cooperation with insurgents as dangerous as refusal. Even Taft noted that as a result, “it has ceased to be a good joke to be an insurrecto.” Filipinos detained were held in prisons in Manila or deported to Guam and it was made clear that they would continue to be held until the cessation of hostilities. And for the first time, a Division of Military Information was set up in Manila, which began by analyzing the mounds of captured insurgent documents.

Garrisons were set up in many more localities, increasing from 400 to 502 within a few months. They occupied every important municipality and strategic point, and also set up blocking positions on trails used by insurgents. On the island of Marinduque, the American commander began concentrating the populace in those towns that were garrisoned due to his lack of troops to put out more detachments. Aggressive scouting and patrolling was also part of the offensive. Pushing detachments into mountain trails previously considered inaccessible located numerous hidden supply caches.

By mid-1901, most insurgent bands were reduced to terrorizing their own people and firing shots at random into town garrisoned by the Army in the middle of the night. Their outside support was shut down by a tight naval blockade which enforced a system of licensing commercial craft and the guerilla’s influence in the hemp trade was curtailed. At this point, MacArthur began the first program in the Philippines which was intended to replace every road in the islands with a system of good all-weather roads.

In response to a War Department order to return 28,000 Volunteer troops to the United States, he put an emergency priority on developing the Filipino police forces, and instructed his commanders to recruit as many scouts as they felt safe arming. Nearly 12,000 Filipinos became either Scouts or police by June 1901.

While the more severe policy was described enthusiastically by some as substituting “the effective noose for the ineffective schoolbook,” this is not the case. The men who committed crimes and cruelty against Filipinos were a minority, and were punished when discovered. The work of organizing municipal government, sanitation and public health, reform of the fiscal system, and public works continued with no change. Vaccination programs reached their millionth inhabitant before the end of 1901. School affairs were transferred to the Taft Commission on September 1st, 1900 but continued along the lines originally proposed by Captain Todd and the military continued their role as school organizers, builders, and teachers.
Filipinos insurgents were encouraged to surrender voluntarily and paid well to do so. The payment of $30 (Mexican silver dollars) for each weapon surrendered was enough to give them a chance to return to peaceful existence in the community. Or, a surrendered weapon could earn the release of a prisoner. Wives, sweethearts, and parents purchased their insurgent’s freedom with his weapon.

The formation of the Filipino Federal party by conservative Filipinos was an important alternative to Aguinaldo’s independence movement. The party was supported by middle- and upper- class Filipinos who considered that continued conflict only brought economic ruin.
The response of the insurgents was more terror. They vented their rage by torturing, mutilating, and slaughtering civilians caught in the process of aiding the Americans. Aguinaldo’s government proclaimed a death sentence for any Filipino joining the Federal Party, turning in a weapon to the Americans, or any other act which could be construed as supporting the Americans. Towns organized against them. In Zambales Province, three towns met jointly and passed a resolution to be transmitted to the rebel leaders in the area notifying them of the formal withdrawal of support. They also suggested that the insurgents should surrender their weapons and promised that if they did not do so, the townspeople would lead American forces to their hiding places. Another town president upset a revolutionary leader by bombarding his troops with comparisons of the great hardships of guerilla campaigning to the easy life in town under American protection. The Federal Party organization was in direct competition for Filipino support, and as it was in favor of peace and stability, it had great appeal to the local people. The tally of surrendered and captured guerillas is testimony to the results of this loss of control of the municipalities.

The operation which captured Aguinaldo was a good example of the new spirit of cooperation. Aguinaldo dispatched some letters to his local commanders, and one of the messengers was persuaded by a town president to surrender to the Americans. A handful of officers commanding a force of 81 Filipino Scouts used the messenger as a guide to Aguinaldo’s headquarters, and captured him.

By the end of September 1901, nearly the entire archipelago had been pacified with the exception of Samar and Batangas. On the previous island there was an incident which nearly upset the good groundwork laid for the future government of the islands. The inhabitants of the town of Balangiga, in combination with bands of insurgents, turned upon their garrison, 3 officers and 71 men of C Company, 9th Infantry. Only 26 men survived. Unfortunately, the command in the Philippines had recently transferred to General Chafee and General MacArthur had been sent home. The Army in the Philippines had a certain amount of suspicion of the Filipinos and there were some reactions, arbitrary arrests and similar occurrences. Chafee was convinced that the Philippines were a powder keg, ready to explode at a touch. More accurately, most of the islands were in excellent shape. Cebu was pacified by an aggressive campaign from September to November 1901, and then Bohol was pacified by December. 75% of the population was in areas under civil authorities and the Philippine Constabulary was doing an adequate job of keeping the peace other than in Samar and Batangas.

Samar was never controlled completely by the Spanish in the centuries of their occupation, and it was 5,276 square miles of crap terrain and 250,000 inhabitants scattered in tiny coastal towns and villages. The hinterlands were jungles crossed by poorly marked trails. The guerillas harvested hemp and sold it to foreign firms in exchange for cash and contraband which made them better supplied than most. General Jacob H. Smith and his Sixth Separate Brigade were given orders by General Chaffee in a face to face conference. “We have lost 100 rifles at Balangiga and 25,000 rounds of ammunition. You must get them back. You can have $5,000 gold. Capture the arms if you can, buy them if you must; whichever course you adopt, get them back.” Smith and his troops were animated by the spirit of revenge. He declared to Major Waller, a Marine officer, that he wanted “no prisoners.” He wanted to make the interior of the island a “howling wilderness.” This overlooked the fact that it pretty much already was, but such orders in a pacification campaign are unfortunate at best and criminal in any case. He regarded all Filipinos as enemies and instructed his officers to treat them as such until they proved themselves friendly by providing useful information. He destroyed buildings, killed draft animals, and otherwise mostly terrorized the inhabitants. The Judge Advocate General of the Army observed that only the good sense and restraint of the majority of Smith’s subordinates prevented a general reign of terror. Smith interfered with civil government, and infuriated the acting governor, Commissioner Wright. After three months, even General Chaffee recognized that he was causing more problems than he was solving and he pressured Smith into restraining himself. Whether he modified it himself, or was ordered to do so, his new policy from January 1902 was now modeled after that on Batangas and carried out by General Bell. Eventually Lukban, the insurgent commander on Samar, was captured on Feb 18, 1902 and his successor, upon seeing the new program surrendered himself by the end of April. Smith’s policies inspired parts of Leyte to revolt, which was answered by Captain Allen and the Constabulary. In early April he was relieved of his command and sent to Manila for an investigation that would end his career.

General Bell’s operation in the southern Luzon province of Batangas was something quite different. The goals were to isolate the guerilla from the popular support, protect all Filipinos seeking freedom from the revolutionaries, and punishing swiftly those who aided the guerillas. He carefully repudiated any use of torture, burning, or unauthorized severity. He set up protected zones and relocated the population into them. Those suspected of supporting the guerillas were arrested on suspicion, though it was noted that once a suspect was confined evidence was obtained easily. American units scouted and patrolled constantly, destroying caches of food or stores found outside the protected zones. Anyone found outside protected zones was detained and escorted back. The application of General Order 100 and the arrest of members of the elites who supported guerillas put a great deal of pressure on the people to help the Americans to bring about the end of the war. The constabularies in other provinces patrolled the border to prevent terrorists taking refuge outside of the sector, and a pass system to control movement was instituted. The leader of the Philippine insurgents and successor to Aguinaldo, Malvar, was in direct control over the province, and surrendered on 16 April 1902 after finding himself separated from his escort by a sudden American attack and with his entire staff already captured. General Bell used a mere 10,000 troops to capture over 1,000 guerillas and accept the surrender of 3,700 more. Over 4,000 firearms were captured as well. It is not provable but probable that the force on Batangas had at least another 4,000 guerillas who simply faded back into society.

At this point, the civil and military authorities began to think in terms of amnesty and reconstruction. The amnesty was published on July 4th, 1902 and covered all Filipinos who participated in the revolt, excepting those who had been convicted of murder, rape, arson, or robbery or who committed crimes after 1 March 1902. At the same time the War Department ended the office of military governor and gave the civil authorities supreme authority in the islands. A number of ex-guerillas remained in the hills as bandits, but this was the problem of the civil government, which included a number of former guerillas in local offices. Ironically, it was about this time that the first reports of problems in Mindanao presaged the outbreak of the Moro revolt.

24 June 2006

What do we have instead?


I love this shit. The New York Times, instead of reporting that they have been in error for 3 years, instead breaks a story and spins it like there's something nefarious going on.

No, there are records of international wire transfers (primary method of financing terrorism) that have led directly to the capture of Al-Qaeda terrorist with blood on their hands.

What the FUCK laws were broken? Other than espionage laws broken by the reporters and editors of the New York Times, laws that if enforced would have them locked away for a very long time.

But that would be "censorship". That would be "bad".

I hope that the editor who blessed off on that story has a family member blown up the next time terrorists strike the United States.

Nerve Gas and other fun toys.


I now await with bated breath for the avalance of stories in the media wherein the existence of the "missing" WMD is trumpeted, along with sheepish retractions of the hate-filled personal attacks on George Bush and his honesty.

Wake me up when it happens.

22 June 2006

Two More Farewells

I mentioned recently that two of our own had been killed in action by an IED. Today was their memorial service.

SGT Reyes “Rey” Ramirez was born in Mexico and raised in Texas. He was on his second Iraq tour, and was a team leader in 3rd Squad, 2nd Platoon, C Company, 40th Engineer Battalion. He was married to another Soldier, SGT Sy Bulaong-Ramirez, who is in Germany because she is pregnant with his daughter. She will be born this summer. He was described as a true Non-Commissioned Officer, concerned for his Soldiers and who led by example.

SPC Robert “Bobby” Leon Jones, from Oregon, was also on his second Iraq tour. He was SGT Ramirez’s driver. He was described as the unit jokester. I think every company has one irrepressible spirit who can find humor in any situation and will go to great lengths to get a smile. SPC Jones was that spirit for C/40th.

I didn’t know either of these two Soldiers personally. C/40th Engineers has been attached to our battalion for a month now, having been called up from Theater Reserve in Camp Beuhring, Kuwait. So they were part of Task Force Catamount, our extended family here in Ramadi. I attended to honor them and their sacrifice.

There is nothing quite like a military memorial service. We have gotten good at them, having conducted memorial services for 231 years, on every continent, and under every circumstance imaginable. Much as a Soldier’s funeral is intended to bring closure to his family, the memorial is the final goodbye for his other family, the one he died with. His First Sergeant calls the roll, with no answer to the three calls for SGT Ramirez and SPC Jones, then the firing party fires their three volleys. They are gone. Grown men, hardened warriors, weep, then stand in front of two pairs of boots, two rifles, and two helmets, and render their last honors. Each man present salutes them, the traditional greeting from one Soldier to another, then prays, kneels, crosses himself, or whatever his beliefs impel him to do, and moves on.

It is a time of great pain for C/40th, and especially for 2nd Platoon. The grief of those who served alongside these Soldiers was obvious. What would surprise civilians, but not any Soldier who ever lived, was the other major theme of the day.

Determination. Yes, we remember the fallen and honor them. But in their name, we carry on the work for which they gave their lives. We ‘drive on’ and ‘charlie mike’. His platoon will go out on the same type of missions in the same way, perhaps a little sharper, a little more ‘nervous in the service’. But they will not quit or fail, because to do that would be dishonor their brothers. It would be to say, “You were wrong to dedicate yourself to the mission and to your comrades, and your enemy was right to have slain you in a cowardly manner.” And if another of them should fall, they will fall facing the enemy, taking care of each other, and with their focus on the mission.

We are Soldiers. Death is bad, but failure is worse. Dishonor is worse. Until you understand that, you know nothing of our breed.

21 June 2006

Eternal Memory

PFC Kristian Menchaca

PFC Thomas L. Tucker

Sleep well, brothers.

Know that you will never be forgotten by those of us who are your comrades, your friends, your family.

Know that you will be avenged a hundred times over.

Know that you have not died in vain.

To the perverted little cowards who chose to abuse, torture, and murder my brothers,

Know that we are coming for you.

To their friends and supporters, including those who choose to hide under the cloak of American civil liberties, two things.

Know what it is you support.

Know that your day will come as well.


20 June 2006

Too busy for words

The past few days have been busy. The pace of operations has picked up greatly, though you probably couldn’t tell from looking at the news. Lord knows I haven’t heard of a single reporter in the Brigade AO.

Two Soldiers from C Company were killed by an IED a couple days ago. While responding to one IED call, they hit another one. That, some of you may have heard of if you follow happenings in Ramadi closely, or obsessively read the DoD death notices. With that came the usual communications blackout. And NIPR is having Issues right now so I couldn’t even use the internet in the TOC.

So the time I got in MWR I've been hoarding, and besides I couldn't think of much interesting to write. Unfortunately, the commo blackout caused me to miss writing articles for both the birthday of the Corps of Engineers (16 June 1775) and Father's Day.

We’ve got some Marines attached to us with a small boat unit, and I’m trying to drug deal my way onto one of their missions by hooking them up with Stuff. Just passed them some short barrels for their M-249s.

My leave date is in something of a flux, as due to some swapping out, I may be coming home in time for the 4th of July. Jen and I are still planning on having a housewarming party on the 15th of July, which is also the feast of the Great Prince Vladimir, Enlightener of the Russian Lands.
I may be somewhat anti-social otherwise. Will be busy.

http://www.ejectejecteject.com/ has a new thang up, read it.

Oh, and what on Earth are the Presbyterians thinking? http://www.guardian.co.uk/uslatest/story/0,,-5897341,00.html

14 June 2006

Two announcements, and a philosophy of history

Two announcements:

1) Lime-flavored Tic-Tacs are revolting. Really revolting. Lime-flavored mints of any kind is a bad idea.

2) My brother is a mad genius who thinks entirely too much about dragons.

Today we rolled out the gate on a two million dollar wild goose chase, but it had to be done. You don’t let two million dollars just float away without at least trying. I’m highly amused by the entire little saga, but not sure how much I can write about. After all, the 15-6 has begun.

Since then, discovered the Radio Tango is still ongoing, but none of the attention is directed my way. Radios are NOT arms room property and so I am not accountable for a single one. And had to hang up on Jen because the mortar alarm sounded, but they can’t even hit the camp most days and this was no exception.

Finally finished The Varieties of History, which is a collection of essays written by historians about history. I disagree with most of them. Part of my disagreement lies in the fact that I am no historian, but an enthusiastic amateur.

First, History in and of itself is basically intellectual masturbation. I mean, really, what practical good does it to know the nuances of Spanish currency of the 17th century? None what so ever. Unlike the physical sciences it does no practical good for a collection of eggheads to circulated learned monographs amongst each other. In the physical sciences these learned monographs add to the understanding of the universe and get applied by some practical engineer, and become a device which betters my life whether I understand it or not. I need not be an electrical engineer nor botanist to operate my coffee machine and enjoy the result. But to get value out of history I have to know it myself.

History, if it is to be said to have any ‘value’, is primarily valuable as education. Understanding the origins of modern society makes one better able to understand the nuances. How can one understand the modern gun control issue without understanding the historical place of firearms in American culture and the history of our frontier? And how can one understand that without understanding the roots of that place in the English common law relating to self defense and the obligation of free men to defend their communities? And that goes back to primitive Saxon tribesmen and their understanding of free men as those who bear arms. And so on and so forth. That’s a rough example.

However, this use of history is rightly viewed with skepticism because it is difficult to draw any correct conclusions without a large quantity of accurate information. And direct historical analogy is nearly always highly suspect. For instance, the constant refrain comparing the USA to the Roman Empire, with the implication that a “fall” is imminent is an example that grates on me every time I hear it. The vast majority of people who make that analogy know nothing more of the Roman Empire other than that it existed and that at some point it “fell.” The reasons for this are more complex than can be taught in grade school, so mythology is taught in grade school.

History is also entertainment. And the better the history, the more it entertains. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have read Treadgold without having first read Norwich. And before Norwich came Harry Turtledove’s fiction. Without a fascination for the Roman Empire born of Norwich’s ‘bad’ sensationalistic history, the more intellectual and learned and objective history of Treadgold would have been too boring to finish.

If history neither entertains nor educates, than it is nothing more than the pleasant pastime of someone learned in archaic languages for his own self-gratification.

Having said that, I think there are a couple fallacies in some of these essays which should be addressed.

History isn’t a science. Science requires the scientific method which requires experimentation. You can’t experiment with history. You can have what might be called a scientific mindset, where evidence is examined with skepticism and compared against other evidence and whatnot, but you can’t have an experiment. No experiment, no science.

Splitting history up into fields of political, social, economic, blahblahblah is stupid. These are methods, means, not ends in and of themselves. Approaches would be another word. But you can take practically any set of facts and draw conclusions from them that apply to each field. Land ownership is the basis of political power, the basis of economic production, and the determining factor of social status simultaneously for much of human history. How can you study one aspect without others? You can do a particular study on the economic aspects of what ever you like, but drawing conclusions without considering all aspects of the question leads to skewed crap like Marxists produce.

Further, I'm going to beat a drum that is my own pet peeve. Most folks can't write military history. The vast majority of people who have no military experience at all really don't understand enough of the psychology of soldiers to write good military history. There are some exceptions, but I cannot count the number of things I've read that contained fallacies that anyone who had completed basic training could have identified. Not technical details per se, simply the nature of the beast. Keegan is like that. Just MHO.

13 June 2006

Finally left the wire

I went out today as crew on the 1SG's truck. Routine run, nothing happened. We took the safe route which doesn't run through downtown Ramadi. Lots of brown. Tal Afar actually had some scenery but this place is a dump. I'd be angry if I had to live here too.

I had a throbbing headache when we got back, but it seems to be gone now.

Not much exciting going on here right now. The Radio Tango, wherein multiple radios were unaccounted for is pretty much over. Turns out that the last one has been in the TOC the whole time. Like I TOLD EVERYONE. I need a vacation. Tentatively, that will be next month.

Oh, and the TOC NIPR computer is missing the spacebar. I'm pressing the little spot where the key pushed in. This would not impair many people, but I can actually type. That was the single most useful thing I learned in High School.

10 June 2006

Haditha, the Big Picture, and the Little Picture



Mike Yon's input. He understands what was going on, and communicates it better than most.


Two writeups discussing the questionable side of this story. There is a real lack of credible evidence that anything untoward happened in Haditha, other than a bunch of terrorist bastards who attempted a combined IED-Small Arms Fire ambush, killed a bunch of civillians, and then had it go all pear-shaped when the Marines kicked their goat-smelling asses. Read the entire second article, all the way to the end. A simillar stunt was pulled on the British Army, which put two of its own on trial for murder.

Roger Brice, solicitor for defendant Pte Samuel May told BBC News there had never been a case to answer.
"What the judge has done today is stop the case when the prosecution have concluded... there was never a case for any of the defendants to answer.
“He summed up the fact that the evidence as it came out in these last two months has been one of acknowledged lies."

The British Ministry of Defense spent the equivalent of about $18 million on the investigation and the trial which collapsed in November, 2005—29 months after the initial incident.

Funny how all this works.

I'm still withholding judgment until the conclusion of the investigation, but let's face it. Iraqis lie, and anything I am told by an Iraqi is automatically suspect. The fact that all in information that is negative has passed through pro-insurgent Iraqi hands at some point is not a key indicator of its reliability.


Here's a little something on the Big Picture in Iraq.

Today's little picture: I did manage to call my wife. Talked for a bit more than an hour. Apparently I was distracting her from homework. :) My bad.

I'm moving into a halfway decent place (by Iraqi standards) but the area I'm moving into doesn't have interior walls. So tomorrow I'm going to take the cordless saw and drill, hammer and nails, and build myself a barracks room. Bob Villa I am not, but this is going to be simple work. I also gets me out of the arms room for a little while, thus staving off the otherwise inevitable mental atrophy.

Busy Day

Sensitive Items inventory, wheee. . .

Wouldn't be so bad except that I issued out several sets of NVGs at the last minute before the convoy down here. I have hand reciepts, but I didn't update the excell spreadsheet that I really use to track weapons, because who wants to sort through 120 hand receipts? But I did today, and tracked down the last of the items in question. Go me.

Finally have barracks. I'm moving in tonight some time. More to follow.

09 June 2006

Busy News Week

Zarqawi Tape

Zarqawi insulted al-Sistani. Ummm. . . dude. Wow.


Zarqawi also got blown up by two 500 lb bombs. Busy man, Zarqawi.


Here we have a major piece of winning this war. Habbinyah is now Iraqi.


Iraqi Ministers of Defence and Interior have been nominated. A Shi'ite interior minister and a Sunni defence minister. That's just how this country is going to have to be run.



The stupid bastard MSM has pretty much tried and convicted these Marines. Now, I know a little bit about al-Anbar Province. I know a little bit about missions finding 7 or 8 IEDs in a night. I know a little bit about VBIEDs hitting checkpoints. I know a little bit about how folks react when Soldiers or Marines get killed.

Now, let's look at what we know.

An IED went off. Until you have experienced that, you really have nothing useful to say. If an IED goes off, it is one hell of a surprise. Even though the front of your brain knows the only reason for a loud noise and a fireball is an IED, you still go, "What the fuck was that?"

The Pope would say, "What the fuck was that?" It doesn't matter.

A Marine Lance Corporal died. Another was wounded. Until you have seen that happen to men you know and work with and depend on and often, love like a brother, you don't have anything useful to say. What does it feel like? I can't describe it. If you know, you know. If you don't, NOTHING will make you understand.

Two dozen Iraqis were hanging around an IED strike site, and were killed by the Marine reaction.

What we don't know:
Was the triggerman among them?
Were any of the Iraqis armed?
Did the crowd do anything to demonstrate hostile intent?

All these pieces of information are necessary. All of them will come out in the afteraction reviews, the critical incident debriefs, and the 15-6 investigation. I guess the Marines don't call it a 15-6, because that is the Army Regulation relating to command investigations. If the command investigation turns up that the shooting was a violation of ROE, then it will go to an Article 32, IIRC. That's the UCMJ equivalent of a Grand Jury thing. And then the Marines get a court-martial. And then AND ONLY THEN can we start talking about these guys as murderers.

The Battalion and Company commanders have already been relieved. Why? Who knows. Political pressure, or perhaps there is an assesment that their command climate contributed to the incident. But it is a sign that the Marine Corps is taking this seriously. You don't hang an O-5 out to dry just for giggles. If these guys violated ROE and get charged with murder or manslaughter, they are going to jail for a long time.

You want a personal supposition? These guys knew the IED was there. No IED gets laid out in a neighborhood and surprises the folks in the neighborhood. They were waiting around to see what happens and possibly start something. They were hostile by my understanding. Whether or not they demonstrated hostile intent within the meaning of the ROE, that is a subject for discussion by people in posession of the facts. But I know a little about al-Anbar province and Iraq in general. Iraqis fall into three categories. Either they are for us, they are against us, or they are trying to play both sides against the middle. There are no real non-combatants in Iraq. Just people who havn't met the engagement criteria YET.

On a personal level, the weapon list got changed out to take the M-4s away from Fobbits. I nearly choked an operator who apparently took apart a weapon and lost some parts. He gave me some song and dance, but I don't buy it. Other than that, not much going on in my life.

We had a couple incidents where our guys in the brigade have taken it on the chin, consequences of the new operating environment. But we are getting our own back too, and that's as much as I can say.

06 June 2006

Arms Rooms and Democrats

I finally got my sensitive items container yesterday. I went nuts emptying it and setting up my new arms room. I was impaired by three problems. First, I have an Iraqi arms room. The floor is really uneven, and I can't stack the weapons racks. I also had a ton of ammo the last unit left in the arms room. Also, I have a lot of commo gear that I had in the MILVAN for the trip. That needs to go soon.

Today I ripped out a set of shelves from the wall in the XO’s office and set it up in my room. It solves a lot of my space problems, especially after Support Platoon made the last of the ammo go away. I also cracked open a jar of home-made apple butter. Oh, wow. That is good stuff. I mean, I like apple butter as it is commercially. But this is so much better, with little bits of apple in it and everything. I hope it keeps well enough to last for a little while. It took an act of will not to sit here with a spoon and eat the whole jar.

I have been set up with a family in Sudbury, MA by the Adopt-a-Platoon organization. They send me junk food and so forth (just like my own parents and my wife) and chatty letters describing their family, which seems like a pleasant enough bunch. I even managed to get off my lazy butt and write them a letter the other day.

Anyway, in their last box they included the May 8, 2006 issue of Time magazine. It had the ‘100 most influential people’ issue, only a handful of which had any impact on my life at all.
What I liked was the essay from Caitlin Flanagan titled, “We’re Here, We’re Square, Get Used to It: Why the Democratic Party is losing the housewife vote.” Mrs. Flanagan describes herself as a 44 year old woman from Berkley who was a lifelong liberal, believing strongly in feminism, environmentalism, against the invasion of Iraq, blahblahblah. Yet she feels as if she is being forced from the Democratic Party because the elite of the Democratic Party despise her for the lifestyle choices she has made. In her words,

”I am a happy member of an exceedingly traditional family. I’m in charge of the house and the kids, my husband is in charge of the finances and the car maintenance, and we all go to church every Sunday.”

As a result, it is assumed by every reporter and reviewer that she is a conservative Republican.

“The image of the Democratic Party that used to come to mind was of a workingman and his wife sitting at the kitchen table worrying about how they were going to pay the bills and voting for Adalai Stevenson because he was going to help them squeak by every month and maybe even afford to send their kids to college.
“The Democrats made a huge tactical error a few decades ago. In the middle of doing the great work of the ‘60s—civil rights, women’s liberation, gay inclusion—we decided to stigmatize the white male. The union dues-paying, church-going, beer-drinking family man got nothing but ridicule and venom from us. So he dumped us. And he took the wife and kids with him.
“And now here we are, living in a country with a political and economic agenda we deplore, losing election after election and wondering why.
“It’s the contempt, stupid.”

It’s the contempt, stupid. Now the obligatory disclaimers are in order. Not all liberals are like this. Some of the nicest people I know are liberals, real liberals. Real liberals are more interested in being treated fairly and treating others fairly than they are in the victim politics and divisiveness of splitting folks up by gender, race, socioeconomic class, ethnic origin, religion, and sexual preference. To that other sort of Liberal, the kind that runs the Democratic Party, people are not people. They have lost their individuality and specificity in favor of group identification. This is why Democrats, those alleged proponents of diversity, are so incredibly hostile when a black man or a woman acts in ways that do not fit their group label. A black man who says that welfare destroys the black family structure is attacked in as vehement terms as a liberal can muster. He is said to not ‘really be black’ or to be a ‘race traitor’. Although they repeat the rhetoric of individual choice and freedom, liberals do not really believe in such things. Your entire identity is subsumed in the mass identity. Thus to strip you of your membership in your designated group (‘not really black’) is to remove you, to deny your existence as the Democrats define it.

And that is the key failure of the Democratic Party. By removing individuality, they remove the vast majority of what is positive about people. They remove the sympathies created by our similarities.

Example time. Gay folks are a good example for me. I was raised in a fundamentalist Baptist background and gays were not quite as bad as communists and abortionists, but they were almost on the same level. Maybe like drug users or something. Now, reality is that someone raised in this background isn’t going to question it unless they have an experience which forces them to challenge the assumptions and stereotypes. What changed my opinions? Not a rally or a gay pride march or continuing court battles to affirm gay rights. Not a one of those things presents homosexuals as individuals that I can sympathize with. They all presented them as members of a class, which class was fundamentally opposed to my beliefs. More on the myths of opposition later.

No, it was working with a number of people of wildly varying sexual orientations when I bussed tables at a dinner theater. Once you get to know some people in a normal setting, where you interact with them as individuals rather than as members of a faceless “class,” you can’t help but find points of similarity. So ‘Mark’ was involved with another actor rather a girl. They both tipped out well and that was what mattered more. It was also having a guy in Iraq (last tour, not this one) come out to me and discovering that I really didn’t care whether he was straight or not. And so now one of my regular readers and good internet friends is a butch leather dyke and I happen to think she’s a wonderful person, because our similarities outweigh our differences. For one thing, we both happen to like women with strong personalities. Haha. But I could not have reached that conclusion if I had only encountered her as a representative of a faceless class of “GLBT People” rather than as a person, who is a lesbian.

End Result: Yet another South Park Republican, who is defined as a person who is libertarian on most social issues, but conservative fiscally and in defense policy. I couldn’t care less if gays share health insurance and inherit each other’s property and get hit with each other’s bad debts and all the other usual legal consequences of marriage. I don’t even care if they call it ‘marriage’, although I prefer completely disjoining the legal institution of marriage from the term ‘marriage’.

Myths of opposition, that’s another key platform in the Democratic ideology. By this I mean the idea that the interests of the various classes and categories are opposed to each other by their very nature. For instance, there are a lot of so-called “feminists” who believe that to advance women, you must attack men. Ginmar, who I will not dignify with a link, is of this type. They are not interested in building women and the position of women in society up, but in tearing the position of men down. To this end, they brand all heterosexual sex as rape, and all marriages as abusive. And if a woman argues that her husband is neither rapist nor abuser, then obviously she is “anti-feminist” and a traitor to her gender. These people believe in life as a morality play, where one group (there are no individual actors, remember) is inherently beatific and the other diabolic. In order to advance the position of the minority student, we must hinder and the white student by requiring the white student to score better on tests. This has a series of fallacies behind it, such as the fact that a poorly prepared black student who is attending an institution he couldn’t attend if he were white is far more likely to fail and never complete college than he would be to finish college if he were attending a less demanding institution. But this isn’t the essay to attack the stupidity of affirmative action as a whole, but to attack the underlying assumption of hostility. The Democrats have managed to instill in Blacks this sense of permanent opposition to the supposed interests of non-Blacks. It has infected some others as well. But this sort of hostility is totally manufactured. First, hostility has never and will never be persuasive. You just won’t convince me by telling me how awful I am. Second, by setting up a zero sum game and identifying the interests of one group as being opposition to the interests of another group, you guarantee lasting opposition. After all, if Group A tells me that their interests are antithetical to mine, I am going to fight Group A with all my effort.

But really, the interests of the groups the Democrats claim to champion are not truly antithetical to the interests of the majority, if those interests are stated correctly. If the object of feminists were, as the originators of the concept proclaimed, limited to the idea that women are people too, to be treated with dignity and respect and admitted to the workplace as equals, then by that standard nearly everyone who isn’t a total mouthbreather is a feminist. But modern feminists do not do this. They wish to restrict women’s choices to any EXCEPT wife and mother. These “feminists” wish to set themselves up in opposition to those who find that a traditional marriage fulfills them. They mock, scorn, and attack women who desire to have children with a man in a mutually faithful monogamous relationship. Men are not individuals, with characteristics of their own, with whom a woman may fall in love. They are the despicable Enemy, a faceless class of evil rapists bent on subjugating women. And the properly conscious woman would not wish to associate with them, but to fight them. And that brings us back full circle to the reason that Mrs. Flanagan feels that she is being forced away from the Democratic Party.

Further examples I have unfortunately seen over the past two years. For those of you just now tuning into this little drama, my wife is the most amazing person on the face of the planet Earth. I love her fiercely, as I have loved nothing and no one before. She has no idea that I’m writing this essay or that she is an example. But she has undoubtedly changed in the two years since we met for lunch at Wendy’s. Jen used to be a self-described neo-Pagan, a feminist, and a liberal. The perfectly Democratic woman, in opposition to that which the Democrats said she should be in opposition to. Not interested in marriage or monogamy, much less in settling down with a sloping-forehead professional killer with political views in line with Basil II ‘Bulgaroctonus’ and who practiced an obscure form of highly traditional Christianity. Even if I do have a cute butt. But in a sequence of events that to this day I can hardly credit, it happened. Along the way, she embraced Orthodoxy and also finally admitted to herself that a woman who owns and enjoys shooting a .45 is not a liberal in the 21st century definition of the term. She never stopped being a feminist, but the obligatory man-hating had to go.

She has had numerous people she thought were her friends either quietly stop returning her emails, or pen scathing denunciations of her lifestyle choices and poor taste in “religious fanatic” men, then stop returning her emails. I am forced to conclude that there were people who liked her not for herself, but for that fact that she was a member of a class or classes which these people liked. When she began to change, these people had a choice to make. Either they would understand her as an individual which would make these changes comprehensible, or they would see her as representative of a new and hostile “class” which they felt was the enemy. To their great credit, many people did not do this. But the number who did is indicative of the level to which this class-identification worldview has infected the United States.

If the Democrats want the great majority of the United States to begin taking them seriously as a choice in elections, then the Democrats need to begin figuring out how advance broader interests. As long as the Democrats loudly proclaim they are anti-white-male and anti-religion, anti-straight, and anti-anything else, they will find that the voters take them at their word. If one candidate tells me he hates me, when there are only two candidates running, it makes my decision in the polling booth pretty easy.

04 June 2006

Liturgy yesterday rocked. Unfortunately, the only reliable chanter leaves real soon now. Guess who Father forced into singing? Yeah, I CAN'T SING. But someone has to. I've always liked singing, but I'm not deluding myself or others. I'm bad. Really bad. But I'm all we have right now.

Still waiting on some pieces to my puzzle, but I have an arms room now. For-real, not just a MILVAN with some locks on it (40 foot metal shipping container). It's even air conditioned, although that one poor AC unit just can't handle the weather in the afternoon. No NIPR yet. Also no printer, but my XO swears he is going to get me one.

Had an IED course today. I doubt I'm giving away any crazy military secret when I say that if EOD recovers an IED intact and it is something new, then they bring it back to the FOB and set it up as close to the original conditions as possible to use for training purposes.

The AIF around here (IIRC, mostly native Sunni insurgents) use some more sophisticated stuff than we saw up in Tal Afar. Not the stuff that gets major attention, because the really fancy crap is in Baghdad. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Baghdad is where the reporters are, and the best of the Al-Qaeda in Iraq foreign fighters go there to try and get some headline time. Ramadi, however gets the second string varsity players. Up in Tal Afar we were up against the freshman team and it showed.

Mail is arriving, forwarded from Tal Afar. However, I do have a new address. Bug my wife, she has it.

02 June 2006


I'm here. In one piece, oddly enough. The convoys were long and tedious. We spent a bit of time parked alongside the road waiting for EOD (and in at least one case, a crew from 5th Engineers) to clear IEDs ahead of us. No enemy contact or IED attacks, just IEDs located by other units.

The thing you have to remember about counter-insurgency, the central fact that defines all existence, is tedium. The bad guys don't spend all their time attacking us. Most convoys are without incident. If there are 10 incidents a week on a particular piece of highway, and 20 convoys a night pass through that spot, then there are 130 convoys where the main threat is falling asleep at the wheel and driving off the road. (These numbers were selected at random and do not represent any piece of highway I know of in particular).

This fact is all that keeps the insurgency alive. Complacency kills, plain and simple. If you know what you are looking for, you can frequently spot IEDs way before they are in the effective kill zone. If you have highway hypnosis going on, then it isn't so much so. And enough convoys where nothing happens will lull some people into a false sense of security. And that's when they roll right past an IED and 'boom'.

Camp Ar-Ramadi is. . . well, it's a dump. Until the unit we are relieving goes back to Pennsylvania, we are living in a tent. One frickin' huge tent, but it has nearly every enlisted Soldier and NCO in HHC living in it. On the plus side, it is much smaller than Sykes and you can walk everywhere. We've been mortared once since we got here, but it didn't even hit the camp. Hajji gets lucky every now and then, but mostly he can't shoot. Oh, and this place is full of Marines, which always adds a touch of class.

The one huge, burning bright spot in my dreary existence is this:

The Marines have a chaplain. That chaplain is one of three, count 'em three, Orthodox chaplains in theater.

I can finally go to liturgy.