Last Flight Out

The last American Military forces* depart Iraq.

December 17th marked the last flight and convoy of American military forces leaving Iraq, marking the end to kinetic military action in America’s foreseeable relationship with Iraq.

It also brings the somber news of the last KIA of an American Soldier in the war, Spec. David Emanuel Hickman was killed on 14 November by an IED in Baghdad, marking the 4,474th name to be added to the war memorial in Kirkuk, Iraq. [Read more...]

What Ever Happened to Kirkuk

A key Iraqi city teeters on the edge after I (and the rest of the military) left.

I won’t comment on this very much as too many of my friends, Iraqi and American, died in and about our base. But CNN has a nice article on the second most important city in the country (politically speaking) where the Kurds and Arabs clash under the meddling eye of Iran. I have my fingers crossed that Iraqi won’t be a repeat of Vietnamization because if Iraq disintegrates, my money is that it will start in Kirkuk.

(Source: CNN)

 

The Art of War

Website collects pictures, port-a-john scrawls, and art from a decade of war.

Every war has its art. Farewells to friends, celebrations of victory, escapes from reality, and bitching about the boss are common subjects. Art in war is a coping mechanism, a way to express feelings that are difficult to talk about in the American warrior caste. Graffiti of War, is a project to preserve some of my generations conflict art, works by American Soldiers and civilians, Coalition partners, and the citizens and Soldiers of Iraq and Afghanistan. [Read more...]

Islamaphobia and Islamists

The devil is in the details. One last post before getting out of dodge.

I have written several articles about Islamaphobia in American, the Arab Spring, and Islam inside the Middle East. Sometimes earing the ire of the Far-Right for my views. But today I took some time to watch fellow FtB blogger Maryam Namazie give a speech in Copenhagen (The video can be found on her post entitled “Simplicity is killing us”).

She spoke about how some in the left have been hesitant to criticize Islam due to a perception that any such criticism is seen as racist, to which I have asserted that the far right’s claims of “Creeping Sharia” in America are racist. This deserves some explanation from myself. [Read more...]

A “Cakewalk”

                Iraq, how I love thee. I hate to admit, but when you started I couldn’t take my eyes off of you. I watched the opening round on TV, glued to the images of destruction and the reports of embedded reported. I signed my contract with the military before you began. When I started military school, I was lauded for being a ‘real American’ by signing up at a time a war. I had hoped to go to Afghanistan, but you stole that from me.

                You loomed over my college days. My unit started a remembrance wall, last seen during the Vietnam War for those lost. The smiling faces of upperclassmen that graduated and then shipped off were followed by Silver Taps as we remembered them when they fell. Each one hurt, this war became a personal tragedy early. Those who made it came back changed, either fed up with the stupidity of the venture, hardened in spirit, or emotionally shattered. Still we were lauded by our school. How brave we were. Brave… I still was getting paid to go to class. And then I too graduated.

                Though, I disdain getting into to a war, I love fighting one. It is a contradiction that I wrestle with. War is terribly beautiful. But it should never be conducted without doing everything one can to avoid it.           

 It is great fun until someone gets hurt. We laugh when rockets slam into our midst, joking about the insurgents’ terrible aim, but then the odds come up. Someone dies, a brother-in-arms, turned to meat by an unlucky combination of a rocket’s drift, the wind, and the firer’s luck. We cry. Then we do it all over again.

So what, after almost nine years have we learned? We learned how to effectively fight an insurgency, knowledge that if preserved from Vietnam would have enabled us to not rebuild those ideas from scratch. Everything that Hackworth wrote in my father’s generation, we now know again. Paid for in blood, again.

What did it cost? Well we won’t learn that for years to come. Here is what we know so far:

8 years, 260 days since Secretary of State Colin Powell presented evidence of Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons program

8 years, 215 days since the March 20, 2003 invasion of Iraq

8 years, 175 days since President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln

4,479 U.S. military fatalities

30,182 U.S. military injuries

468 contractor fatalities

103,142 – 112,708 documented civilian deaths

2.8 million internally displaced Iraqis

$806 billion in federal funding for the Iraq War through FY2011

$3 – $5 trillion in total economic cost to the United States of the Iraq war according to economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Blimes

$60 billion in U.S. expenditures lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001

0 weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq

(Source: Think Progress)

Army Implements Program to “Root Out Toxic Leaders”

The Army has known for a while that some of its leaders are terrible. The number one reason cited by junior officers and NCOs when leaving the Army continues to be, “Bad Leadership.” Now the Army is moving to make a little used voluntary evaluation mandatory.

The evaluation takes input from peers and subordinates into account, sifts through those results and weighs them against a unit’s overall opinion of the local command climate. Hopefully this will give leaders a better understanding on how our actions and attitudes affect the lives of our Soldiers and co-leaders. [Read more...]