Thursday, February 15, 2007

Local Soldiers in the News: Sgt. James from Chilicothe

Reading the AP news on what's going on with the surge to secure Baghdad, I came across an article quoting a local soldier on the status of clearing operations:

Staff Sgt. Michael James, 32, of Chillicothe, Mo., said the area in northeastern Baghdad had been targeted before but not in such force.

"This is the final clearing. We're trying to hit all the major hotspots. I don't think it has ever been cleared as fully as it will be today," said James, of the 3rd Stryker Brigade, Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

James said he wasn't surprised that the troops did find more as they hunkered down in a so-called Joint Security Station in the area for the night.

"It's never clear. These guys are going to have safe-houses all over the place. Whenever we come into one area, I'm sure they just move on," he said. "Just our presence alone is enough to push the bad guys out. They're not stupid enough to fight an entire battalion, because they will lose."

My question to the angels, is anyone supporting this Stryker Brigade?

Some Iraqis are praying that our soldiers will stop the violence:

"My friends and I who are the old women of the neighborhood went to the soldiers and welcomed them and prayed that God would help them to defeat the terrorists," said Um Sabah of the Mashtaal area in eastern Baghdad. "Although, the presence of army and vehicles is not very comfortable, we welcome it because it is for the sake of Iraq."

There was little if any resistance. Soldiers even teased one young girl about her taste in music after they found her doing homework on a couch, wearing white and pink socks with a poster of Shakira on the wall.

Some people left their doors open as the troops arrived, and little evidence of hostilities turned up other than some pictures of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, an illegal bolt action rifle and a heavyset man watching an insurgent propaganda video that he said had appeared while he was channel surfing.

Shakira? We need to send better music over there! The most important part to recognize in this story is that our soldiers, regardless of claims to the contrary, are more often than not viewed in Iraq as the deliverers of justice and defense. I've never seen a poll regarding it, but I would bet that our forces are more trusted than internal Iraq forces (ie, police, army, etc). That's both good and bad since we need these internal forces of Iraq to be trusted and capable of providing justice and defense for all Iraqis in order for our men and women to come home.

Here's the tell on the operations...

At least 38 Iraqis also were killed or found dead nationwide, including four civilians who died when a parked car bomb struck a predominantly Shiite district in central Baghdad. Only five bullet-riddled bodies were found on the streets of the capital, an unusually low number of apparent victims of so-called sectarian death squads mainly run by Shiite militias that have killed thousands in the past year.

But, it's only quiet now. It is not unusual for the terrorists and militias to lay low as troops move in and continue "kinetic" operations (ie, aggressive patrolling) since there is a higher chance that these opposition forces will be noted, engaged and killed or captured. Once our forces have settled into any sort of routine, the opposition consolidates its intelligence and begins to re-organize around those routines.

Let's hope for the continued quiet and safety of our troops.

- May no soldier go unloved