Prague Twin

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Stryker Report

My favorite milblog is American Citizen Soldier. It is run by Buck Sargent, a member of the very successful 172nd Stryker Brigade. I've sang his laurels before. Summarizing, Buck is honest about his opinion, is a dedicated soldier, and respects dissent. He has engaged my opposition with thourough, intelligent responses and he admits his mistakes.

Lately, he has been pretty upset with his personal situation as he feels his time is being wasted and he is being lied to. It started when he found out about his redeployment from Yahoo! News. Suffice to say he is not feeling the love right now. His latest post lamblasts Rumsfeld for his incompetence and lack of integrity. Here are my favorite quotes....

The Army has sent our veteran Stryker brigade -- on the cusp of a long-deserved homecoming -- instead back to Iraq to begin the equivalent of a third consecutive Marine tour of duty. The security of Baghdad is the official reason, but if you read between the lines, it is actually to generate positive headlines for the upcoming midterm Congressional elections. The administration is living under the fantasy that the Iraqi capital can be secured with photo-op half-measures that will somehow miraculously translate into positive media coverage of the results. On both counts, they could not possibly be more wrong.


The only thing that can pull the city back from the brink is to allow us to do the job we were purportedly sent here to do. That means open season on the Shiite militias, whether it’s popular for al-Maliki with his political base or not. Anything less is a waste of everyone’s time: his, theirs, and especially ours.


In the very first week of ground operations our company alone uncovered enormous caches of offensive weaponry stashed or buried on the grounds of the mosques we searched in the presence of local Iraqi forces. We also randomly searched the headquarters of one of the Islamic political parties and uncovered enough of an arsenal to outfit a small army.

Since then, we’ve done little else but "clearing ops" which amount to us cordoning off entire neighborhoods and searching every single residence, talking with the people who live there, and collecting census data. This face to face communication and rapport building is indeed important, and was at the heart of our previous success in Mosul, but is only half the solution for a fractured area like Baghdad. There are several rogue militia groups operating with near impunity, responsible for much of the "sectarian strife" that produces not only hundreds of corpses weekly, but dozens of proclamations of "impending civil war" by nearly every news agency on the planet.

Why every mosque in the Baghdad area was not simultaneously raided on a brigade-level scale within days of uncovering insurgent mother lodes right off the bat, I cannot tell you. What I can tell you is that we were purportedly sent down here to "get tough on terrorism" in the city, yet so far we have yet to be let off the leash. We’ve cleared entire neighborhoods house by house and block by block, performing census work far more often than targeted raids. Call me crazy, but I figure that when houses of worship are being exploited to house weapons of war, that is when Muslim sensitivities need to take a back seat to modern realities.

Release the hounds, sirs. Don’t force us to chew through our own leash. Because right now we’re choking on it.


The locals have repeatedly conveyed to us horrid tales of shop owners being pulled from their places of business and executed directly outside their storefronts, or mysterious uniformed men driving up and snatching people right off the street, never to be heard from again.. Most of the wealthy homes now stand empty, their owners having fled to less politically free but certainly less volatile Middle Eastern countries.

If you are left wondering, if this is not a civil war, then how will we know when or if it is? I’ll gladly provide you the answer. If Iraq is broken up into it’s three main ethnic categories -- the Kurds in the north, the Shia in the east and south, and the Sunni in the west -- then, and only then, will you be witness to a full-scale civil war worthy of a Beirut circa 1982 or Bosnia circa 1995. Distinct battle lines will be drawn, the spoils of victory will be clear, and the disputed territory will be fought over viciously and without restraint. And that’s without even factoring in the likelihood of neighboring Iran, Syria, and Turkey entering the fray to extract their own pound of Iraqi flesh. If you think the situation is ugly now, you won’t be pleased by what it easily could become if Iraq were to head down the path of religious and ethnic sovereignty. Malice toward all, charity toward none.


When asked by one 172nd wife why the unit was performing house-to-house searches in Baghdad rather than the combat ops they specialize in, Rumsfeld "disputed her assertion, saying that 95 percent of the house-clearing operations are being done by Iraqi troops."

Stop the tape.

"95 percent of the house-clearing operations are being done by Iraqi troops." If this is an accurate quote (no longer a given with our agenda-driven media), then a healthy dose of WD-40 is direly needed within the gears of the civilian-military chain of command, because it’s squeaking worse than the cot I currently sleep on or my bowels after dining at "Chez Haji." His statement isn’t merely a whopper, it’s a bacon double whopper w/extra cheese and a side of total bulls**t.

Baghdad, we’ve got a problem.

Mediocre chow, the worst living conditions we‘ve had yet, sweating our asses off in triple-digit heat all day in order to perform a task that other Army units (cough, cough, 4th ID... 101st...) should already have been doing all year, and then receiving zero credit for any of it?! Wait, I stand corrected. "The Donald" did allow us recognition for a whopping "5%." But if you were to follow us on the ground during the brutally hot days, you would understand my incredulity. Yes, Iraqi police forces tag along with us and do assist in the cultural aspects of interacting with the populace to some extent (although the majority of this falls on our overstretched and invaluable U.S.-contracted interpreters); however, if they were truly performing "95%" of the workload then based on our own results thus far all of Baghdad would accordingly have been cleared by now.

Perhaps our brigade had been spoiled by the relative competence of the Kurdish IA recruits we trained and worked with all year in Mosul. After all, the Peshmerga already had a fairly long institutional history as a cohesive militia in opposition to the former regime. But the predominantly Arab security forces in the capital make the Pesh look like Delta Force. These guys are lazy, totally without discipline, training, or motivation, and about as haji-on-the-spot as Mel Gibson’s designated driver.

Baghdad should have been the main focus from the very beginning, but clearly it’s been left to its own devices and whatever progress that has been made in this vital heart of the country has become as stagnant as a street level sewage pond.

Bottom line: the city needs work. A lot of work. And if we are not able to leave it in capable Iraqi hands when we eventually leave, all of our efforts will have been for naught. Iraqization is the key, yet it remains the weakest link in the chain. Until that is addressed openly and honestly, we're just spinning our tires here.

And Strykers have eight of them.

Obviously I've focused on the parts that serve to verify what some of us have been saying in cotradiction to the official government line. Read the whole thing for a more non-baised picure.

I find it compelling that this is coming from someone who believes in the effort and up until now has been arguing that things were quite good in Iraq and that the media was protraying things much worse than the reality dictated. Reality is what Buck is dealing with now, and it is doing the dictating.

As always, I wish the best for him and all the soldiers, and a safe return home....soon.


  • That is an interesting blog. Thanks for the pointer.


    By Blogger mikevotes, at 12:12 AM  

  • The blog works even with a peace-facist like me. It's no nonsense, straight from the heart and without those nauseating recycled slogans that are in vogue with the war-facists. I have already spread the word among some neo-facists and Islamo-facists and will do so with the rest of the other sort of facists in due time.:)

    By Anonymous pekka, at 10:15 AM  

  • Thanks guys. I'm glad you agree.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 3:37 PM  

  • Hear and attend of Best Beloved:

    What did Buck Sargent actually say?

    That there are three main categories of "Iraqis:" Kurds to N.; Shia to the E. and S.; and Sunnis to the W."

    "Iraqization is the key, yet it remains the weakest link in the chain."

    Considered for your opinion: Iraqization is an impossibility because there are no "Iraqis."

    There are Kurds; there are Shia; there are Sunnis. But yes, we have no Iraqis, we have no Iraqis today!

    If only W, Dickie, Rummy, Wolfie, and Condi had stopped by their local libraries and borrowed a cup of history, all of this might have been avoided. But hey. Who needs history when you have a vision.

    Who needs history if you have the Bible and God talks directly to you, giving you his plan.

    Who needs history if your Fundy cattle rasining pals are trying to breed the red heifer.

    History is only useful if you are a contestant on Jeapardy.

    "Alex. I'll take Land Wars in Asia for $1000."

    God keep you Buck Sargent as I don't see you and your mates coming out of harm's way any time soon.

    What's in a name? A civil war by any other name would sound as sweet. Apres nous...

    By Anonymous The Loop Garoo Kid, at 1:17 AM  

  • The reason I became concerned about the effects of the bombing of the "Golden Mosque" in Samarra was what the generals there were saying. I couldn't agree more with what the good Sargent says about fighting the Shia militias. It is a mistake by the Iraqis not to let us fight them. They'll pay the butcher's bill for that.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 2:55 AM  

  • LGC (that sounds so hip-hop: yo, chilling in the LGC),

    Funny you should ask what he said because I was replaying his post in my mind last night and trying to come up with the most concise version.

    1. Yes, no Iraqis.

    2. Shia militias must be neutralized one way or another

    3. The Pentagon is not allowing the soldiers to do this (#2).

    4. Rumsfeld is a lying sack of s***.

    5. The Iraqis (at least two versions of them) are not doing the necessary to get on track. That starts with Maliki and goes all the way down to police recruits.

    6. He aint coming home anytime soon.

    I think that about covers it.


    Better they pay the butcher bill than us. Cold? Maybe. Fair? Definately.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:05 AM  

  • To be honest I skimmed his post...but it seems like all the other milblogs, which insist that if we just made more of an effort, we could fix things in Iraq. I don't think that's true. The one point where I agree with him is that I also believe that if we split Iraq up, it might actually make the violence worse.

    Whatever we do in Iraq, it's going to be a mess.

    My problem with people like "American Citizen Soldier" is that they seem to have no sense of the history of U.S. foreign policy. We have done so much damage in the region, that we can't just step in and clean things up...not only has vast damage been done by our past policy of supporting Saddam Hussein, but our ongoing support of Israel in its attacks on Lebanon and Palestine ruined our credibility. The ignorant American soldiers have no grasp of that and therefore they are amazed that the Iraqis aren't trusting them and pitching in to help the way they should. I blame the American public educational system. The most important things these young men needed to know before they were sent over there, they weren't taught. Of course if they had been taught the history of American foreign policy, they might have refused to go to Iraq!

    By Blogger Elizabeth, at 3:10 AM  

  • Fair assesment.

    However what struck me is the dissatisfaction with the current plan. I think taking on the militias is foolhardy, but if there is any hope of stabilizing the country eventually, this would have to be done.

    Mostly, it is interesting to see a guy who used to down play the problems realize that there are in fact huge problems.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 9:37 AM  

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