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Archive for March, 2009

by John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (March 31, 2009) – The security and political situation in Iraq continues to improve, but ethno-sectarian agendas and other obstacles remain, according to Defense Department findings.

Iraqi oil police officers fire their rifles during the ceremony for the graduation of the first 200 Iraqi oil police officers from the Northern Kirkuk Oil Police Regional Training Center, on March 28, 2009, in the Kirkuk province, Iraq.

Iraqi oil police officers fire their rifles during the ceremony for the graduation of the first 200 Iraqi oil police officers from the Northern Kirkuk Oil Police Regional Training Center, on March 28, 2009, in the Kirkuk province, Iraq.

Pentagon officials released a congressionally mandated quarterly report on Iraq that focuses on December through February, a period during which pivotal security arrangements between Washington and Baghdad took effect.

“With the signing and implementation of the strategic framework agreement, the relationship with Iraq has become more mature and what we would consider a more normalized U.S.-Iraqi relationship through economic, diplomatic, cultural and security ties,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said today. A status-of-forces agreement, implemented Jan. 1, calls for U.S. troops to begin transferring a greater share of power to Iraqi security forces, and provides a time frame for withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq.

The report to Congress, known colloquially as the 90-10 Report, characterized the transfer of authority to Iraq as “an important milestone” in relations between coalition and Iraqi forces. The agreement is highlighted by coordination on detention operations, it says.

“There have been no major issues to date in the coordination of detention operations,” the report’s executive summary states. “Multinational Force Iraq continues to release security detainees captured prior to Dec. 31, 2008, in a safe and orderly manner in consultation with the [Iraqi government].”

The report notes that President Barack Obama last month announced a plan to commence a phased drawdown of U.S. combat brigades from Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010, and spells out U.S. goals prior to that deadline.

“By this time, U.S. forces will have completed the transition from combat and counterinsurgency activities to a more limited mission set that focuses on training and assisting the Iraqi security forces, providing force protection for U.S. military and civilian personnel and facilities, conducting targeted counter-terrorism operations, and supporting civilian agencies and international organizations in their capacity-building efforts,” it reads.

The overall security situation slowly continues to improve, with security incidents remaining at low levels and a sense of normalcy returning to Iraqis’ everyday life in much of the country, the report states.

Violence levels are on par with early 2004 figures, Whitman said.

“With respect to the security situation, we continue to see that improve, though with security incidents remaining at the same low levels as experienced in early 2004,” he said. “During this reporting period, there were 35 percent fewer civilian deaths than during the last reporting period.”

The report notes that although these security achievements are increasingly positive, they remain fragile in some places, most notably in Ninevah and Diyala provinces, as well as in some parts of Baghdad.

Whitman said that the round of safe provincial elections held in 14 of 18 Iraqi provinces in January demonstrates Iraqis choosing the political process over violence. But he added that sectarian allegiances within the country’s population still play a divisive role.

“Despite some of these positive developments, national reconciliation continues to be hindered by the pursuit of ethno-sectarian agendas and disagreement over the distribution of power and resources at all levels.”

Source: CENTCOM.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts.

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LB Tea Party Moved

I’ve spoken with the Special Events people for the umph number of times, and we just found out that the Post Office cannot be permitted due to the Long Beach Grand Prix. As if this was a secret? It happens every year. It must have slipped both of our minds. Oh well.

I am moving it to Bixby Park in Long Beach. This park is located between Ocean Blvd and Cherry to Broadway and Cherry; and it is from Ocean Blvd and Junipero to Broadway and Junipero on the other side. Ocean and Broadway being the constants. I think First Street and Cherry, which is in the middle on one side, would be a good place.

I am now trying to get in touch with the Parks people. I’ve spoken to the Police, and he thinks it is wonderful. If it is going to be a small gathering of people, it should be no problem. No blocking the streets, no getting in people’s way, no misconduct period. Those are my rules, too.

We will have registration forms to sign people up to vote. I am going to try to make some signs. If you have any suggestions, now’s the time to let me know. I could really use the help!

I actually have no idea what I’m doing, but the police officer said he thought I had it all together. If he only knew! I’ve never done anything like this before, but I’ve had it! There is no Tea Party for me to go, so I’m going to throw one myself.

Everyone who’s planning on coming, please e-mail me. I have to give an estimated number of people to this nice police officer by Monday, April 13, for the party on the 15th. It’s only a precaution because they have special rules they follow.

If you feel you cannot behave yourself in front of these fine men and women who protect us day and night, don’t bother showing up. I don’t want any trouble. I just want to let these politicians know that they can’t continue to steal our money without us getting madder and Madder and MADDER!

Until that day, be blessed.

PS. Do we have a national site for the Tea Party? Maybe there is someway we could organize so that others who would like to put together a Tea Party don’t have to start from scratch. Just sayin’…Oh, I did not have to pay anything, and I did not need a permit. It is a free speech event, so it is not considered one of their ‘events’. Woohoo!

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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Gulf Region Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

WASHINGTON (March 30, 2009) – U.S. forces in Iraq increasingly are focused on educating Iraqis as they move toward returning Iraq to national sovereignty. In recent days, they have overseen job skills training of former “Sons of Iraq” civilian security group members and taken part in the reopening of two schools.

“This is an excellent example of cooperation between coalition forces and our Iraqi counterparts,” Christopher Crowley, mission director for the U.S. Agency for International Development said at the March 24 reopening of the Salman Pak Industrial School in Baghdad’s Madain neighborhood.

Former 'Sons of Iraq' civilian security group members learn basic mechanical skills while attending a demobilization, demilitarization and reintegration center in the Adhamiyah neighborhood of Baghdad.

Former 'Sons of Iraq' civilian security group members learn basic mechanical skills while attending a demobilization, demilitarization and reintegration center in the Adhamiyah neighborhood of Baghdad.

Soldiers from the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 6th Infantry Regiment, Task Force 2nd Battalion, attended the grand reopening of the school, which was made possible by $600,000 from USAID.

The school underwent major reconstruction after being virtually destroyed during insurgent-led attacks at the height of the capital city’s sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007.

The school will offer eight courses available for up to 700 students to learn skills on sewing generator maintenance, welding, automotive repair, plumbing, electrical installation, masonry and carpentry. The school also received new equipment for a women’s sewing room, a machine and metal working section and a computer room.

Iraq’s Education Ministry will maintain the building grounds, hire and retain qualified teachers, and provide a full-time guard for the school.

“This school has a 30-year history and always represented a chance for learning and helping the youth of the Madain progress, but because of the violence in the area after the war, it stopped,” Qassi Mrweh, Madain council chairman, said.

The improved security enabled contractors to rebuild the industrial school, Mrweh said.

In Baghdad’s Adhamiyah neighborhood, former members of the Sons of Iraq, the civilian security group that worked alongside coalition and Iraqi forces to secure the country, are filling the classrooms at centers opened by the coalition to provide job training.

The city’s four demobilization, demilitarization and reintegration centers teach courses in surveying, electricity, mechanics, generator repair and solar energy.

“We here in Adhamiyah are so happy coalition forces are supporting this project. The project helps the people of Adhamiyah by providing trade skills to local, unemployed people. After graduating the program, they continue to assist the people of Adhamiyah by providing a local work force,” Mokdad Hassan, a local tribal support council member, said.

Under the program, each neighborhood may nominate 10 people for attendance to each cycle of the program. Each of the four DDR centers in the district of focuses on a different trade skill.

While attending a six-month class rotation, each student receives a monthly stipend of $350. At the end of the program, after passing the final exam, the students are awarded certificates of completion.

The program is designed to take selected Sons of Iraq members from their checkpoints to the classrooms. The goal is to provide them with essential, high-demand job skills, officials said.

In Iraq’s northern city of Dahuk, 600 middle and high school students will benefit from a bigger and better school, thanks to the Gulf Region Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq.

Engineers with the division’s Mosul Area Office participated recently in a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the new 12-room, $1.1 million Shindokha School. Local dignitaries at the ribbon cutting included the provincial governor, education, police and transition team officials.

The new school greatly reduces an overcrowding problem and allows for a longer school day while comfortably accommodating 600 students in grades 7 to 12.

The school is unique in that the entire curriculum is taught in English, according to school administrators. To prepare for the English curriculum, prospective teachers must undergo four months of intensive language training, with only 50 of the top prospects offered positions at the school.

Since 2005, USACE has managed school construction projects totaling $16.3 million in Iraq’s Dahuk province. Those projects include 94 school renovations and 17 new school construction projects, according to Terry Samson, the USACE resident engineer in Dahuk.

Samson said the renovation and new school projects provide educational facilities for more than 10,000 students. These new schools also will give an economic boost to the area by offering 500 new jobs for teachers, administrators, janitorial and security personnel, said he added.

“These new educational institutions increase the scope and quality of education for Dahuk area students,” Samson said. “This, in turn, will better prepare students for the future and improve their employability, lifestyle and the living conditions of all residents. It also demonstrates that the United States is a caring nation and is extremely interested in the educational process in Dahuk and in the future of the region.”

Source: CENTCOM.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts.

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Margaret Sanger would be proud of the Arizona Supreme Court decision on Wednesday, March 23, 2009. If you are disabled or have children with disabilities, the ACLU, the Perverts for the Amerikan Way (to hell), and all other children haters have won a case Against disabled children getting a proper education, because these children’s parents chose to use their vouchers to go to a Christian school.

John and Dina Phipps and Brendan and Susan Fay, founders of Father’s Heart Christian School for the disabled, removed their developmentally and physically challenged children from the Arizona public school system because of the inadequate education they received there. Two of the children suffer from autism and the other from learning and physical challenges.

Upon receiving the customized instruction they needed at Father’s Heart, their behavior and participation improved remarkably and their academic performance rose several grade levels in just one year after leaving the government school system. The children receive vouchers through the Arizona Scholarships for Pupils with Disabilities program to attend Father’s Heart, but Wednesday’s decision from the Arizona Supreme Court effectively kills the program.

Lovely. What these ‘people’ would prefer you do, since you embarrass them and should not exist in the first place, is to shut up and take it. Don’t you know you are inferior? You should have been aborted! Well, that’s how scum think when the only thing you value is self.

Do you believe this is a religious battle? Maybe, but only against Christians and Jews.

Meanwhile your tax money is paying to install footbaths for Muslims in a public school somewhere and the ACLU remain silent. Somewhere CAIR is teaching school children about Islam, and the ACLU remains silent. However, they won’t sit idly by and allow autistic children to receive a better education. Absolutely not if it involves attending a Christian school. [Continue reading.]

Do these idiots know it was the CHRISTIANS who started this whole schooling thing when they came here so that children and adults could learn how to read the BIBLE? I don’t rightly know, but I have my suspicions. What say you?

Hat tip: John from Stop the ACLU.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ TCU, SGP and Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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by Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (March 29, 2009) – President Barack Obama said Sunday his new strategy for what he calls “America’s war” is intended to zero in on the heart of the matter at hand in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“The focus over the last seven years, I think, has been lost,” the president told Bob Schieffer on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “What we want to do is refocus attention on al-Qaida.”

Army Spc. Andrew Soria scans for possible enemy locations during a patrol in Nishagam, Konar province, Afghanistan, earlier this month. President Obama said his new strategy 'refocuses' American troops' efforts on al-Qaida.

Army Spc. Andrew Soria scans for possible enemy locations during a patrol in Nishagam, Konar province, Afghanistan, earlier this month. President Obama said his new strategy 'refocuses' American troops' efforts on al-Qaida.

Obama unveiled his new Afghanistan-Pakistan policy review March 27. “We’re going to go with a strategy that is narrowly focused, that is narrowly targeted on defeating al-Qaida,” he said. “We are going to make sure that they cannot attack U.S. citizens, U.S. soil, U.S. interests, and our allies’ interests around the world.”

This depends, in part, on denying al-Qaida safe haven in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It also means making the Pakistani people understand that the “creep of extremism” into their country is the greatest threat to them and the stability of their government, Obama said.

“One of the concerns that we’ve had building up over the last several years is a notion, I think, among the average Pakistani that this is somehow America’s war, and that they are not invested,” he said. “What we want to do is say to the Pakistani people, you are our friends, our allies. We are going to give you the tools to defeat al-Qaida and to root out these safe havens.”

The administration is prepared to help Pakistan grow its economy so it can provide basic services to its people. If Pakistan’s government doesn’t have credibility or is weakened, it will be much more difficult for its people to deal with the extremism within their borders, Obama noted.

“We have to recognize that part of our task I’m working with Pakistan is not just military,” he said. “It’s also our capacity to build their capacity through civilian interventions, through development, through aid assistance.

“That’s part of what you’re seeing — both in Afghanistan and Pakistan — I think is fully resourcing a comprehensive strategy that doesn’t just rely on bullets or bombs, but also relies on agricultural specialists, on doctors, on engineers, to help create an environment in which people recognize that they have much more at stake in partnering with us and the international community than giving into to some of these extremist ideologies,” he said.

In return for the assistance, however, the administration expects much greater accountability, Obama said.

The president also said reports that Pakistani intelligence may be communicating with the Taliban and al-Qaida aren’t new, and just one of the contingencies the United States will face in defeating al-Qaida.

All contingencies can be overcome by combining military, civilian, diplomatic and development approaches, Obama said, if the United States does a better job of coordinating with its allies. Part of the plan includes training the Afghan National Army so it increasingly takes the lead to deal with extremists in the country.

“We realize there are going to be a lot of hurdles between now and us finally having a weakened al-Qaida or destroyed al-Qaida to the point … it cannot pose a danger to us,” he said. “And we will continue to monitor and adjust our strategies to make sure that we’re not just going down blind alleys.”

Shifting to talk of Iraq, Obama said despite the current situation in the country, the plan put forward is the right one; a very gradual withdrawal schedule through the national elections in Iraq.

“There’s still work to be done on the political side to resolve differences between the various sectarian groups around issues like oil … [and] provincial elections,” he said. “I’m confident we’re moving in the right direction, but Iraq is not yet complete.”

Closer to home, the president doesn’t see the drug fighting in Mexico as an “existential threat,” but said it is a serious threat to U.S. border communities.

“[Mexican] President [Felipe] Calderon, I think, has been very bold and rightly has decided that it’s gotten carried away,” Obama said. “The drug cartels have too much power, are undermining, and [are] corrupting huge segments of Mexican society.”

With some threat to U.S. interests, namely the communities on the Mexican border, the president is considering putting National Guard troops on the borders. But before that happens, he’ll wait and see if some of the other steps already taken will quell the violence.

Source: CENTCOM.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts.

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25,000th Hit

Friday, March 27, 2009, I received my 25,000th hit. Unfortunately, I do not know who it was, so I want to thank each and every one of you for your support. I understand the chances I take when I go on vacation, and you’ve hung in there with me. Much gratitude! The post this person visited was Reaction To War Movie. A very fitting tribute. Have a blessed day.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts.

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Victory In Iraq By Omar

Some Americans say we have won the war in Iraq, others proclaim it was lost long ago. Since we are not there, why not ask someone who is from Iraq?

The Security Council resolution 1859 states, among other things, that Iraq is no longer a threat to its neighbors, region, or the world. The United States has succeeded in transforming a bellicose, autocratic state into a friendly one that is making steady progress towards becoming a self-sustaining democracy — the international community is finally coming to recognize this transformation.

This resolution is bound to make a positive impact on the domestic and regional levels. First and foremost it is a testimony to the United States’ true desire to help Iraq get on its feet and relieve it from restrictions that belong to a past era — the United States is indisputably a friendly protector of Iraq, not an occupier as many like to claim.

That, my dear friends, was written by an Iraqi. He is writing about a UN Security Council resolution that never made it to the light of day here in America or in the Middle East. Why is that? This was written on January 9, 2009. Who was president at that time? That is all you need to know. THAT IS SAD.

Everyone here wants peace for the Middle East, or so they proclaim and protest. So why is victory not newsworthy? Could it be that victory in Iraq would prove my fellow Americans wrong for believing differently than I did? Yes.

There is more written that really touches my heart.

Whereas Arab nationalists and Islamist extremists ended up with a pair of shoes, Iraqis ended up with their sovereignty, democracy, and friendship with the United States. Those hypocrites did not lift a finger to help Iraq at a time of hardship. On the contrary, they used all the means they could muster to bring democratization in Iraq and the Middle East to a halt. But despite the vicious attacks, Iraq and the United States moved hand in hand to overcome the countless obstacles and present the model of reform and democracy that is taking shape with every dispute Iraqis resolve in the parliament and every new brick they lay in a new building.

The headlines for those cynics do not go beyond the throw of a shoe, whereas my headlines look into the future and speak of a new Iraq. My headlines speak of agreements with our friends in American industries who will help us have 24 hours of electricity and equip a strong army dedicated to serving and protecting the Iraqi nation. This is a future where Iraq’s billions are used in transparent contracts to build the country and improve economic ties with our true allies and friends, not in shady deals for building palaces, supporting terrorists, and procuring tools of aggression. [Read the whole article.]

Omar and his brothers have taken us through some of their struggles and good times, and it is has been a wonderful, terrifying, worrisome, and hopeful experience for me. Maybe if everyone had been reading this blog, we would have been able to come together against the true enemy…the jihadis…instead of each other.

God bless Iraq, America, our Troops and theirs, and God bless you. May we come together now and lay down our disagreement over whether or not it was right to stop the genocide in Iraq. They are finally free and safe. I’d say that’s the best we could have prayed for, wouldn’t you?

PS. Please read the CNN article. If it is no longer available, you will find it over at Love America First-2 (it is sourced below).

Source: ITM: New Iraq Emerges from Tyranny and War, CNN and Love America First-2.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ Talon, TCU, SGP and Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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