Friday, March 31, 2006

Get Some!!!

Convoys will now stand and fight when attacked in Iraq

By Seth Robson, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Friday, March 31, 2006

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany - In a change to Army tactics, U.S. soldiers will stand and fight instead of shooting and pressing on when their convoys are attacked on Iraqi roads, according to Harvey Perritt, spokesman for the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va.

"In the first two years of Iraq, convoys (under attack) just fired and kept rolling," said Maj. Roger Gaines, the battalion's operations officer said Thursday. "That gave bad guys the perception that Americans run away. Now, convoys will stop and engage the enemy."

The change is part of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker's underlying philosophy of a more rigorous response to attacks, Perritt said in a telephone interview Thursday.

The training is mandatory for all soldiers, regardless of their military occupational specialty.

Members of the 1st Armored Division's 141st Signal Battalion tried out the new policy while practicing live-fire convoys this week at the Grafenwöhr Training Area.

"We are training to take the fight to the enemy," said Gaines, a 45-year-old Portland, Ore., native. "If you stop and fight, you can at least neutralize them or take it to the point that they disengage."

On Thursday, 35 soldiers from the battalion's Company C convoyed across a range, responding to simulated roadside bomb and several small-arms attacks. Each time the convoy was attacked, soldiers leapt out of their Humvees and took cover before unleashing a hail of rifle and machine-gun fire on pop-up targets.

Company C's 3rd Platoon leader, 2nd Lt. Joshua Mendoza, 26, of Chandler, Ariz., said shooting on the run did not send insurgents the right message.

"They have been seeing how convoys are being attacked and driving off," he said. "The enemy has felt like they might be winning. Now we are going to take them out."

The change in tactics is necessary because insurgents are getting smarter, said Sgt. 1st Class Charles Ahlborn, 36, of San Diego.

"They know our reactions to certain things. Two years ago, they would never try and stop us," he said. "But now IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are becoming more prevalent on the battlefield, and they are doing anything they can to try and stop the convoys.

"So what we are trying to do is plan for any type of contingency or scenario that insurgents might throw at us. The objective is not to chase them down. Just protect yourself and neutralize the threat that is immediate to your convoy."

Sgt. Joel Arbour, a Company C soldier, served in northern Iraq from 2004 to 2005 with 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment.

The 28-year-old Santa Fe, Texas, native said he’s been attacked by small arms, rocket-propelled grenades, roadside bombs, car bombs and suicide bombers during convoys in Iraq. Back then, units would put down suppressing fire and keep moving.

But times have changed, he said.

"The insurgents have learned that we blow on through. They know you are going to run past, so they will ambush [soldiers] down the road with a frontal ambush," he added. "This training gets us ready for multiple attacks."

click on the link to see the source. Stars & Stripes

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

What the captured documents show

President Bush has made errors, as all humans do, but one thing he has not been guilty of is bad faith. The same cannot be said of his critics.
One thinks of those liberals and Democrats who accused President Bush of "lying" about weapons of mass destruction and about ties between al Qaeda and Iraq particularly now, because two weeks ago, after an unaccountable delay of three years, the administration declassified and released thousands of documents captured from Saddam Hussein's regime. They offer more proof of what we've already learned from other sources: that Saddam was in collusion with al Qaeda; that he did instruct his people on hiding evidence of WMDs; and that he did support worldwide terror.
Before turning to the documents, though, it is worth pausing for a moment to dwell on the bad faith of Mr. Bush's opponents. The whole world knew that Saddam had used chemical weapons at least twice: once against the Iranians and once against the Kurds within Iraq. (He had also threatened to use them against Israel.) The whole world further knew that Saddam engaged in a protracted game of cat and mouse with United Nations weapons inspectors, first throwing roadblocks in their path and finally expelling them from the country (a violation of the cease-fire agreement that followed the 1991 Gulf War, which required Iraq to account for its weapons and prove that they had been dismantled and destroyed).
The entire world also knew that the U.S. and Britain had not rushed to war with Iraq. To the contrary, the build-up to the 2003 invasion was lengthy and deliberate, giving ample time to the Iraqi dictator to hide or destroy his WMDs.
And yet when coalition forces failed to find caches of weapons, the cry on the left was "Bush lied." It doesn't even make logical sense. Why would Mr. Bush want to launch a war on false pretenses? Would he purposely create a political problem for himself? Why? To enrich Halliburton? This is fever swamp talk. Yet it was heard among leading members of the Democratic Party, not just in the milieu.
Nor was it correct to claim, as so many on the left did, that Mr. Bush altered the rationale for war after he failed to find WMDs. In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in February 2003, on the eve of the invasion, the president sketched his vision of a democratic Iraq that he hoped would begin the transformation of the despotic and violent Middle East into something more enlightened and free. He mentioned "disarming" Iraq by force, but it was far from the sole rationale for war.
Three years in, we are hearing from the summer soldiers. The pacification of Iraq is proving more difficult than anticipated. Even some on the right are throwing in the towel. But as the Wall Street Journal wisely editorialized, the consequences of failure -- by which they mean capitulation on our part -- would be utterly catastrophic.
The radical Islamists will claim that they defeated the United States and chased us out of Iraq just as they defeated the Soviets and chased them out of Afghanistan. And every moderate-leaning Arab and Muslim in the world will shrug his shoulders and give up. It will embolden the terrorists tremendously to see the U.S. withdraw from Iraq. The corresponding plunge in morale at home will rival if not exceed post-Vietnam syndrome. Iran will seize the opportunity to impose a Shi'ite theocracy on Iraq, and Afghanistan will feel the reverberations and tremble on its still shaky foundations.
Oh yes, the documents. One shows that an official from Iraq's government met with Osama bin Laden on Feb. 19, 1995, with the explicit permission of Saddam Hussein. When bin Laden was forced to leave Sudan, the Iraqi documents contain a handwritten note saying, "The relationship with him is still through the Sudanese. We're currently working on activating this relationship through a new channel in light of his current location" (Afghanistan). The notes also reveal that Osama bin Laden suggested "carrying out joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia.
The documents further disclose that the Iraqi intelligence service issued detailed instructions to directors and managers of weapons sites regarding U.N. inspections. They were to remove files from computers, "remove correspondence with the atomic energy and military industry departments concerning the prohibited weapons" and "remove prohibited materials and equipment, including documents and catalogs and making sure to clear labs and storages (sic) of any traces of chemical or biological materials that were previously used or stored."

By Mona Charen
March 28, 2006

click on the link to see the source. What the captured documents show

Friday, March 24, 2006

Afghan Clerics, in Friday Prayers, Call for Convert's Execution

What would you sacrifice for your faith?

KABUL, Afghanistan, March 24 - Afghan clerics used Friday Prayers at mosques across the capital to call for death for an Afghan man who converted to Christianity, despite widespread protest in the West.

As the international pressure on Afghanistan grew, the clerics demanded the execution of the Afghan, Abdul Rahman 41, if he does not convert back to Islam. His conversion 15 years ago was brought to the attention of Afghan authorities as part of a child custody dispute.

The Bush administration and European governments have strongly protested the case as a violation of religious freedom.

In Washington, a State Department spokesman was asked whether the United States had made it clear to the Afghan government that its conduct on the issue could have consequences for its relationship with the United States.

"It has been made abundantly clear to the government of Afghanistan how the United States feels about this issue and the importance that we attach to its positive resolution," the spokesman, Adam Ereli, replied.

Asked what should happen next, Mr. Ereli said, "The next step is for the issue to be resolved by the government of Afghanistan."

Mr. Rahman's case has drawn such a strong reaction in Afghanistan because many hardline clerics believe there is no greater offense than apostacy.

One speaker, Mawlavi Habibullah, told more than a thousand clerics and young people who had gathered in Kabul that "Afghanistan does not have any obligation under international laws.

"The prophet says when somebody changes religion, he must be killed" he said.

He and others demanded that the country's political leaders and judges resist international pressure over the case, placing them squarely at odds with President Hamid Karzai, who has promised to bring democracy to Afghanistan.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters today that she had received assurances from Mr. Karzai in a telephone call that Mr. Rahman would not be sentenced to death, The Associated Press reported.

The case has exposed the contradictions within Afghanistan's constitution, which promises freedom of religion on the one hand, and on the other declares Islam supreme.

Shiekh Asif Muhsini, a Shiite cleric, emphasized that the constitution says, "No law can contradict Islam and the values of the constitution."

The case had fueled feelings among many here of a sense of assault against Islam worldwide, coming after widely publicized cases involving the desecration of the Koran in Guantánamo Bay in 2004 by American soldiers interrogating prisoners and, more recently, cartoons published in Europe of the Prophet Muhamma.

Dr. Mohammad Ayaz Niyazi, an Egyptian educated in Islamic law, who attended one of the gatherings today, said, "There have been serial attacks on the Islamic world recently, starting with insulting the Holy Quran, insulting the prophet of Islam, and now converting to Christianity by an Afghan."

Dr. Niyazi objected to warnings from Italian leaders, who threatened to protest the case by withdrawing from Afghanistan the forces who are part of an international security force here.

"Do your troops come to Afghanistan to incite apostasy?" Dr. Niyazi said. "We thought your troops were here for security." By ABDUL WAHEED WAFA

click on this link to view the source. Afghan Clerics, in Friday Prayers, Call for Convert's Execution - New York Times

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Man Overboard

This is a great article By Ruth Marcus

I have a new theory about what's behind everything that's wrong with the Bush administration: manliness.

"Manliness" is the unapologetic title of a new book by Harvey C. Mansfield, a conservative professor of government at Harvard University, which makes him a species as rare as a dissenting voice in the Bush White House. Mansfield's thesis is that manliness, which he sums up as "confidence in the face of risk," is a misunderstood and unappreciated attribute.

Manliness, he writes, "seeks and welcomes drama and prefers times of war, conflict, and risk." It entails assertiveness, even stubbornness, and craves power and action. It explains why men, naturally inclined to assert that "our policy, our party, our regime is superior," dominate in the political sphere.

Though manliness is "the quality mostly of one sex," Mansfield allows that women can be manly, too, though the sole example he can seem to come up with, and deploys time and again, is Margaret Thatcher. "Is it possible to teach women manliness and thus to become more assertive?" he wonders, but not really. "Or is that like teaching a cat to bark?" Me-ow!

"The problem of manliness is not that it does not exist," Mansfield concludes. "It does exist, but it is unemployed." Well, um, excuse me, but I think -- it's just my opinion, now, maybe you disagree, and I'm sure we could work it out -- Mansfield has it exactly backward. Manliness does exist. The problem is that it's overemployed -- nowhere more than in this administration.

Think about it this way: Is a trait exemplified by reluctance to ask directions -- "for it is out of manliness that men do not like to ask for directions when lost," Mansfield writes -- really what you want in a government deciding whether to take a country to war?

The undisputed manliness of the Bush White House stands in contrast to its predecessors and wannabes. If Republicans are the Daddy Party and Democrats the Mommy Party, the Clinton White House often operated like Mansfield's vision of an estrogen-fueled kaffeeklatsch: indecisive and undisciplined. (Okay, there were some unfortunate, testosterone-filled moments, too.) Bill Clinton's would-be successor, Al Gore, was mocked for enlisting Naomi Wolf to help him emerge as an alpha male; after that, French-speaking John Kerry had to give up windsurfing and don hunting gear to prove he was a real man. And Bush's father, of course, had to battle the Wimp Factor. Mansfield recalls Thatcher's manly admonition to 41 on the eve of the Persian Gulf War: "Don't go wobbly on me, George."

No wimpiness worries now. This is an administration headed by a cowboy boot-wearing brush-clearer, backstopped by a quail-shooting fly fisherman comfortable with long stretches of manly silence -- very "Brokeback Mountain," except this crowd considers itself too manly for such PC Hollywood fare. "I would be glad to talk about ranchin', but I haven't seen the movie," Bush told a questioner.

There are, no doubt, comforting aspects to the manly presidency; think Bush with a bullhorn on top of the smoldering ruins of the twin towers. After a terrorist attack, no one's looking for a sensitive New Age president. Even now, being a strong leader polls at the top of qualities that voters most admire in Bush.

But the manliness of the Bush White House has a darker side that has proved more curse than advantage. The prime example is the war in Iraq: the administration's assertion of the right to engage in preemptive and unilateral war; the resolute avoidance of debate about the "slam-dunk" intelligence on weapons of mass destruction; the determined lack of introspection or self-doubt about the course of the war; and the swaggering dismissal of dissenting views as the carping of those not on the team.

The administration's manliness doesn't stop at the water's edge. Pushing another round of tax cuts in 2003, Vice President Cheney sounded like a warrior claiming tribute after victory in battle: "We won the midterms. This is our due," Cheney reportedly said. After the 2004 election, Bush exuded the blustering self-assurance of a president who had political capital to spend -- or thought he did -- and wasn't going to think twice before plunking down the whole pile on Social Security.

Mansfieldian manliness is present as well in Bush's confident -- overconfident -- response to Hurricane Katrina (insert obligatory "Brownie" quote here). And the administration's claim of almost unfettered executive power is the ultimate in manliness: how manly to conclude that Congress gave the go-ahead to ignore a law without it ever saying so; how even manlier to argue that your inherent authority as commander in chief would permit you to brush aside those bothersome congressional gnats if they tried to stop eavesdropping without a warrant.

Mansfield writes that he wants to "convince skeptical readers -- above all, educated women" -- that "irrational manliness deserves to be endorsed by reason." Sorry, professor: You lose. What this country could use is a little less manliness -- and a little more of what you would describe as womanly qualities: restraint, introspection, a desire for consensus, maybe even a touch of self-doubt.

But that's just my view.

click on the link so see the source. Man Overboard