Sunday, June 29, 2014

Interesting Links On Iraq

My professional crush Emma Sky recently authored an article asking the question, "who lost Iraq?" Spoiler: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is primarily to blame.

Are the Kurdish Peshmerga any good? Yes...when they are fighting in the mountains and defending their fellow Kurds. On the plains in among the Arabs...not so much. As my old squadron XO used to say, "even a Girl Scout troop can defend the mountains of Kurdistan."

Remember that Caliphate thingy that ISIS is claiming it is fighting to create? They just formally announced it. What does this mean? Probably nothing.

The hardest part of all of this is watching everything I spent my 20s fighting for falling apart as I sit here incapable of doing anything about it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Civilian to Veteran Interactions: Part IV

Part I

Part II

Part III

One day I hope to no longer have anything to add to this series of posts, but today is not that day...

If you come across a veteran that you have just met or don't know very well do not...I not ask about their mental health. Two reasons:

1. It's fucking rude.

2. It's none of your business.

That is all.

Ok, that's not all. Please go to the following links:

Wes Moore: How to talk to veterans about the war.

Why don't civilians ask veterans more questions?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

UPDATE: ISIS Takes The North

Holy hell. I turn my back for a couple of days and Iraq's security forces completely break down. Six days ago the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (yeah, you know the acronym by now) began an assault on Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. Yesterday, the city fell after security forces fled, leaving not only the city for the insurgents, but massive amounts of weapons and ammunition.

Iraqi security forces have already been stretched thin dealing with ISIS in the Anbar Province. ISIS has taken over Fallujah, several towns, and nearly captured Ramadi as well. ISIS forces have apparently been operating in Abu Ghraib, just west of Baghdad.

But it gets worse, today ISIS fighters captured Tikrit, the capital of Salahaddin Province as well as the town of Bayji...which is the location of a massive oil refinery. On top of all that, ISIS is moving in on towns in the Kirkuk Province.

I suspect Samarra, a short drive south of Tikrit, will fall either tomorrow or the next day. From there ISIS can take Balad and the large airbase outside of that city. After that is the sizable military base Taji. Baghdad is a stones throw from there.

Prime Minister Maliki will likely shift forces from Anbar to prevent further ISIS movement south, but that will just allow an emboldened ISIS to move on Ramadi and the Sunni towns south of Baghdad. I give it three weeks before Baghdad is virtually surrounded...assuming no miracles occur.

But a miracle may the form of the Kurds. The Kurds will defend their territory tenaciously and any perception that that territory is under threat will bring Peshmerga reinforcements. Kirkuk is a disputed city and if ISIS attempts to take it the Kurds will most likely move in to prevent that from occuring. The whole situation is a win-win for the Kurds because with the Iraqi military collapsing, the Maliki government is likely going to ask for Kurdish assistance...and the Kurds will likely gain Kirkuk for helping defeat ISIS.

Hmm, I wonder if this was the Kurds' plan all along?

UPDATE: Kurdish Peshmerga forces have taken Kirkuk. ISIS/ISIL is threatening Samarra and the extremely holy Shia shrine there.

UPDATE 2: My old stomping grounds of Jalula and As Sadiya have fallen to ISIS/ISIL. Insurgents are now likely sleeping in my old room on the former FOB COBRA. This irks me.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Please, No More Wandering Off the Base

Popping in from my self imposed break due to an event that occurred over the weekend. If you weren't paying attention to the news, Bowe Bergdahl was released by the Haqqani Network in exchange for five Taliban prisoners. Bergdahl was a soldier who was captured by insurgents back in 2009 and has been held by Haqqani/Taliban since then. He is the last remaining missing/captured soldier from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and I'm quite glad that he has been released.

However, having said that, there are numerous questions that well as many others...have about the situation leading up to Bergdahl's capture and what transpired while he was detained.

First of all, it's likely he went AWOL.

Now I wasn't there, during this time I was dealing with Iraq and quite happily ignoring Afghanistan. I was not paying attention to the situation and currently I am no where near having all of the facts. But just for fun...and because this is my are the various rumors I have heard come down the grapevine from multiple individuals who were either in Afghanistan at the time, or were there later and assisted in trying to hunt down Bergdahl's location:

- He walked off his patrol base because he was drunk. (Official Army line at the time was that he was captured when he fell behind during a combat patrol.)
- He walked off his patrol base because he was high on drugs.
- He walked off his patrol base because he was drunk AND high.
- He walked off his patrol base to get alcohol or drugs.
- Bergdahl left the base and actively sought out the Taliban in order to defect.
- Bergdahl was actively helping the Taliban in conducting attacks against American forces to include getting on the radio and assisting the Taliban with directing mortar fire.

There's also some concern that the US gave up some high level Taliban guys for just one soldier. I don't exactly have a lot of issues with this because 1) the US should do everything it can to bring back everyone...including assholes; and 2) those Taliban detainees have been out of the fight since the beginning of the war. They lack what we in Iraq would call "wasta" and honestly I don't think they'll have much impact on US operations in Afghanistan or the tactical fight there.

I hope one day the true story of events comes out, but that may take awhile.