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WIN, LOSE, OR DRAWDOWN


Headline by CPT Obvious.

Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.
-Samuel Adams


The Shortest Straw
Okay, so we got the shaft. ‘Nuff said. Time to get to work, down to business, and back in the saddle. Complaining isn’t going to help and whining isn’t going to change anything. As callous as Donald Rumsfeld’s personal style may be (he was actually quoted as saying that as much as he’d like to be, he’s "not Santa Claus," and cannot guarantee that the 172nd will be home by Christmas), he is at least correct about one thing: we all volunteered to perform the dirty work and the heavy lifting that most of our fellow countrymen would rather not do. No one ever said it would be quick, easy, painless, or pleasant. And take it from me, the majority of the time it has not been. But my own philosophy has long maintained that when the going gets rough, the tough cowboy up. And if you married a soldier thinking that you’d get to spend a lot of time together, I’ve got some unfortunate news for you: You were way off.

That being said, don’t mistake this peculiar attitude of mine for a lack of anger at our situation, because it continues to grow by the day. Here’s some reasons why:


Tying the Hands That Feed
The Shiite militias need to be disarmed, disbanded, or destroyed. This may seem obvious, but it not only needs to be repeated, it is practically begging to be translated into action.

The Army has sent our veteran Stryker brigade -- on the cusp of a long-deserved homecoming -- instead back to Iraq to begin the equivalent of a third consecutive Marine tour of duty. The security of Baghdad is the official reason, but if you read between the lines, it is actually to generate positive headlines for the upcoming midterm Congressional elections. The administration is living under the fantasy that the Iraqi capital can be secured with photo-op half-measures that will somehow miraculously translate into positive media coverage of the results. On both counts, they could not possibly be more wrong.

The situation in Baghdad is bleak not because of a hopeless military solution, but due to a feckless political one. Prime Minister al-Maliki has truly found himself caught between Iraq and a hard place. He needs the support of the Shiite coalitions to which he belongs, yet is being made irrelevant by their encroachment on his government’s rightful monopoly on force. The Mahdi Army is literally just that: an army all its own. Much like the IRA, they have a political as well as a militant wing, and they wield both to considerable effect.

If Maliki desires to become a true statesman, he’s going to have to pay the cost to be the boss. Unfortunately, it smells to these nostrils like the fix is already in.

If you get me elected, you’ll be protected.

The only thing that can pull the city back from the brink is to allow us to do the job we were purportedly sent here to do. That means open season on the Shiite militias, whether it’s popular for al-Maliki with his political base or not. Anything less is a waste of everyone’s time: his, theirs, and especially ours.


The Final Battle for Baghdad
Before we go any further, here is an abbreviated primer on the convoluted politics of war in the Iraqi capital for those of you struggling to keep score at home:

The Arab Sunni and Shia (or Shiites as they are known in neighboring Iran) are the two main sects of Islam and the majority of (dare I say) "modern" Iraq is divided among them along tribal family lines, with the exception of the northern ethnic Kurds (who incidentally, also happen to be Sunni Muslims). Still with me?

Although only roughly 20 percent of the population, the Arab Sunnis were the ruling sect under Saddam’s Baathist rule (modeled after Soviet Stalinism) due to the simple fact that he was one of them. The Shia (a worldwide Muslim minority) were marginalized at best, summarily butchered at worst under his reign, and were cut out of the inner circle of favoritism that epitomized it.

Since the fall of the Baathists and the move toward popular democracy, the Shia have reasserted themselves with their numbers and sought to carve out a new role as the ruling class throughout Iraq, to the obvious distaste of the Sunnis who have now found themselves on the other side of the glass looking in. Many former Baathists responded violently, loosely coalescing into what we now refer to as the terrorist "insurgency." Combined with foreign infiltration from al-Qaeda recruited jihadists, they sought to drive the U.S. from Iraq before a permanent government could be elected and formed. Despite their best efforts and thousands of coalition casualties, they failed.

As more Sunnis were enticed to join rather than resist the tectonic political upheaval throughout the country, and al-Qaeda alienated itself from the populace with its indiscriminately deadly tactics, the Sunni insurgency turned its attention toward the rise of the Shia majorities that assumed their rightful place as the heirs to legitimate political power. If the Americans could not be chased out by direct force, then perhaps they would flee on their own accord in the face of seemingly intractable chaos to the tune of massive civilian death and mayhem.

From the ashes of this slaughter rose the Shia militias who sought to fill the power vacuum left vacant by the transition from one of the most solitarily brutal regimes on earth to a centrally weak and dispersed system of government by democratically-inexperienced neophytes. Drawing strength from a disaffected and embattled populace, the militias provided protection in exchange for power, however illegitimate in the eyes of the newly-drawn constitution whose ink was still drying. In the past year, these shadowy groups have only grown more powerful as the governments efforts to recruit, train, and deploy it’s own security forces have failed to keep up and the Iraqi people's patience with them has seemingly dried up.

This is where we find ourselves today, in starkest contrast among the mixed enclaves and segregated neighborhoods of Baghdad. The U.S. military is not necessarily caught in the middle as many in the media insist, but are rather on the fringes of the conflict, unsure of how or when to step in and break up the fight.


Sanctuarial Science
The Baghdad press pool has been faithfully reporting on much of our initial efforts, though they seem to be leaving out the fact that the overwhelming majority of our weapons grabs have come from inside Sunni mosques that insurgents have been using as de facto armories. The Army claims to have learned from the mistakes of Vietnam -- specifically, allowing sanctuary to the enemy -- yet it seems to insist on reliving them on shuffle/repeat.

In the very first week of ground operations our company alone uncovered enormous caches of offensive weaponry stashed or buried on the grounds of the mosques we searched in the presence of local Iraqi forces. We also randomly searched the headquarters of one of the Islamic political parties and uncovered enough of an arsenal to outfit a small army.

Since then, we’ve done little else but "clearing ops" which amount to us cordoning off entire neighborhoods and searching every single residence, talking with the people who live there, and collecting census data. This face to face communication and rapport building is indeed important, and was at the heart of our previous success in Mosul, but is only half the solution for a fractured area like Baghdad. There are several rogue militia groups operating with near impunity, responsible for much of the "sectarian strife" that produces not only hundreds of corpses weekly, but dozens of proclamations of "impending civil war" by nearly every news agency on the planet.

Why every mosque in the Baghdad area was not simultaneously raided on a brigade-level scale within days of uncovering insurgent mother lodes right off the bat, I cannot tell you. What I can tell you is that we were purportedly sent down here to "get tough on terrorism" in the city, yet so far we have yet to be let off the leash. We’ve cleared entire neighborhoods house by house and block by block, performing census work far more often than targeted raids. Call me crazy, but I figure that when houses of worship are being exploited to house weapons of war, that is when Muslim sensitivities need to take a back seat to modern realities.

Release the hounds, sirs. Don’t force us to chew through our own leash. Because right now we’re choking on it.


Losing Their Religion
Our company has spent the better part of a week saturating several noted "troublespots" of Baghdad with our presence on the ground, most importantly on foot -- an apparent rarity in Baghdad proper. (Many residents expressed surprise at our presence; even more said they haven’t seen soldiers in person for months.) We’ve gone door to door and block to block in the dense urban enclaves: administering surveys, checking for weapons, and attempting to establish connections with the people and build confidences. Already it has been paying off, as the people trust us more than they do their own Army and police forces. One never knows what other nefarious militias the Iraqis in blue may secretly belong to, and will rarely, if ever, speak to us openly and honestly with a uniformed Iraqi in the room. Some district police chiefs even reportedly moonlight as Mahdi Army commanders loyal to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the fork-tongued Yassir Arafat of Iraqi politics.

The Sunni/Shia divide in Baghdad -- as it is in much of the rest of the country -- is less a religious imbroglio than a classic turf war. Take the Bloods and the Crips, combine them with the resources and influence of the Italian mafia, sprinkle them with a dash of Hezbollic fanaticism, and you’re well on your way to understanding the complex roots of the seemingly random, though in reality, expressly calculated violence throughout large swaths of the capital city. It is a classic power struggle in every way. You can call it civil war if it pleases your editors, but it is rather the Scorsese film Gangs of New York transplanted in both time and space to the present day Middle East. The only difference in Iraq’s case is that the weapons used are decidedly more deadly and catastrophic than meat cleavers and butcher knives.

The locals have repeatedly conveyed to us horrid tales of shop owners being pulled from their places of business and executed directly outside their storefronts, or mysterious uniformed men driving up and snatching people right off the street, never to be heard from again.. Most of the wealthy homes now stand empty, their owners having fled to less politically free but certainly less volatile Middle Eastern countries.

If you are left wondering, if this is not a civil war, then how will we know when or if it is? I’ll gladly provide you the answer. If Iraq is broken up into it’s three main ethnic categories -- the Kurds in the north, the Shia in the east and south, and the Sunni in the west -- then, and only then, will you be witness to a full-scale civil war worthy of a Beirut circa 1982 or Bosnia circa 1995. Distinct battle lines will be drawn, the spoils of victory will be clear, and the disputed territory will be fought over viciously and without restraint. And that’s without even factoring in the likelihood of neighboring Iran, Syria, and Turkey entering the fray to extract their own pound of Iraqi flesh. If you think the situation is ugly now, you won’t be pleased by what it easily could become if Iraq were to head down the path of religious and ethnic sovereignty. Malice toward all, charity toward none.

If you truly wish to see our forces depart Iraq, push for this option and watch the dust fly and we try not to let the door hit us in the ass. The only difference between foreign policy platforms by the time of the 2008 presidential race will be which party’s candidate can pull us out faster.


The Landfill Between the Rivers
Have we indeed made a Mess O’ Potamia? Or have we merely shone a very bright and very public spotlight on a long-troubled part of the world?

I believe the Iraqis themselves must be made to bear the lion’s share of the blame for allowing their country to remain so fractured over three years after the fall of the House of Saddam. Only Iraqis can fix what Iraqis have broken. The U.S. military can no more help them settle their differences than they could help us restructure Social Security. We can help them carry the nails, but they have to be the ones to hammer them in.

And one of the first steps -- as trivial as it may sound -- has got to be for them to finally start picking up their damn garbage. Baghdad is a veritable city of refuse. Few even bother to bag it -- they just toss it right outside their homes along the curbs or pile it up in vacant lots. I’ll acknowledge the fact that many trash collectors have been threatened or killed for simply doing the jobs they were paid to do, but there is much the ordinary citizen could do to ensure that his own property and neighborhood is distinguishable from the public dump.

If I lived here (a feeling I admittedly wish were a little more difficult to imagine), the immediate area that surrounded my home would be spotless, and I would keep it that way. With all the kids that play in the streets all day long, would it really kill them to pick up some trash while they’re at it? (Okay, so in a few violent areas it literally may kill them). However, the majority of the city is calm with thousands of Iraqis going about their business in a regular manner.

If what they desire is for their country to look like a Third World trailer park forever, then they’re doing a fantastic job of it. How can we be expected to care about improving the quality of life here when the residents themselves don’t give a hoot whether or not they pollute?


Disinformation Overload
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently met with the families of our 172nd Stryker Brigade at Ft. Wainwright, Alaska, according to Stars and Stripes. By all indications, it didn’t go well.

When asked by one 172nd wife why the unit was performing house-to-house searches in Baghdad rather than the combat ops they specialize in, Rumsfeld "disputed her assertion, saying that 95 percent of the house-clearing operations are being done by Iraqi troops."

Stop the tape.

"95 percent of the house-clearing operations are being done by Iraqi troops." If this is an accurate quote (no longer a given with our agenda-driven media), then a healthy dose of WD-40 is direly needed within the gears of the civilian-military chain of command, because it’s squeaking worse than the cot I currently sleep on or my bowels after dining at "Chez Haji." His statement isn’t merely a whopper, it’s a bacon double whopper w/extra cheese and a side of total bulls**t.

Baghdad, we’ve got a problem.

Mediocre chow, the worst living conditions we‘ve had yet, sweating our asses off in triple-digit heat all day in order to perform a task that other Army units (cough, cough, 4th ID... 101st...) should already have been doing all year, and then receiving zero credit for any of it?! Wait, I stand corrected. "The Donald" did allow us recognition for a whopping "5%." But if you were to follow us on the ground during the brutally hot days, you would understand my incredulity. Yes, Iraqi police forces tag along with us and do assist in the cultural aspects of interacting with the populace to some extent (although the majority of this falls on our overstretched and invaluable U.S.-contracted interpreters); however, if they were truly performing "95%" of the workload then based on our own results thus far all of Baghdad would accordingly have been cleared by now.

Perhaps our brigade had been spoiled by the relative competence of the Kurdish IA recruits we trained and worked with all year in Mosul. After all, the Peshmerga already had a fairly long institutional history as a cohesive militia in opposition to the former regime. But the predominantly Arab security forces in the capital make the Pesh look like Delta Force. These guys are lazy, totally without discipline, training, or motivation, and about as haji-on-the-spot as Mel Gibson’s designated driver.

Baghdad should have been the main focus from the very beginning, but clearly it’s been left to its own devices and whatever progress that has been made in this vital heart of the country has become as stagnant as a street level sewage pond.

Bottom line: the city needs work. A lot of work. And if we are not able to leave it in capable Iraqi hands when we eventually leave, all of our efforts will have been for naught. Iraqization is the key, yet it remains the weakest link in the chain. Until that is addressed openly and honestly, we're just spinning our tires here.

And Strykers have eight of them.


Wake Me Up When September Ends
It has been made known that by the end of next month (coinciding with the projected completion of this latest phase of Operation Together Forward) the Pentagon will make its decision upon whether our unit will finally come home tout de suite or instead must fulfill the remainder of our 120 day extension. In other words, they will let us know (via Yahoo! News again, in all likelihood) that they’ve upheld their original decision to keep our Stryker brigade in Iraq for the rest of our natural lives. I think our much-heralded abilities and performance will have the unintended effect of talking ourselves right into another mission. Thus far, they’re sticking to their story of having the majority of us home by the holidays (but remember, Mr. Rumsfeld is admittedly not Santa Claus). However, this time I doubt we’ll be making any plans, purchasing any plane tickets, mailing home any gear, or even discarding a single pair of worn-out socks..

Ramadi for Ramadan, anyone? I better shut my mouth before I give anyone any more bright ideas. Someone wake me up when September ends.

On second thought, better make that December.

Buck always good to hear from you. Your blogs help keep us family members in a loop and give us a little bit of perspective as to how things truly are. Stay safe, you are all in my prayers.

Thanks for laying it out there for us at home to hear. Thanks for doin' what you're doin'.

well said and insightful (really, really LONG, but insightful :-)

Thank you Buck. Truth is hard to come by any more....anywhere. We read you loud and clear here at home and will act accordingly. Your blogs are no longer read for the humor and the truth but for survival. No way to show you our appreciation but to do all we can here at home to hopefully get Americans off their unconcerned rears and informed and active in this war. Perhaps our hands have been tied behind our backs just as yours have. Prayers.
A&N

A eye-opening blog. Thank you for speaking up; your opinion is more valuable than you know!! Stay safe and God Bless!!!

Thanks for the truth!!

Buck, I have come to depend on your blog for a honest account of our situation in Iraq...Thank You.

Buck, this is the most concise analysis of the problem and its solution I could ever hope to read. It needs to be widely disseminated and read. Your bio says you are an amalgam of Ronald Reagan conservatism and George Patton patriotism; I would agree with that!! Thank-you for the truth - the initial and essential ingredient to a positive solution.

God bless you and keep you safe.

Buck, THANK YOU so much for telling us the truth. You have no idea what that means to us. You are all in our prayers everyday. Stay safe.

Great post. Thanks for telling it like it is. I've linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2006/09/re-win-lose-or-drawdown.html

Buck, I appreciate your candor and assessment. I'm furious, too, at the apparent ineptitude of our politicians and/or generals in not fighting to win. There is no excuse for some of what you describe; I will express my concerns to my elected representatives.

My brother is with your unit and I just want to thank you for adding your voice to this insane mess of a re-redeployment. Free the 172 Stryker Brigade. Free Sgt. Mike. Keep it up.

Great pictures with story about the Stryker Brigade in Baghdad on Blackanthem Military News today! Thank-you for doing such a wonderful job under trying conditions, Buck. Take care...

Regarding the Iraqi civics lesson: While your unique boots-on-the-ground perspective & analysis is invaluable to an interested American public ... (most of whom are actually -- well, disinterested -- sadly) ... it's the same picture painted for us in 1990 as the reasons for NOT going into Baghdad during the First Gulf War. The searcher can find mounds of quotes from Cheney and Rumsfeld in '91 and '92 describing, in great detail, the certainty of a turf war following the potential fall of the iron fist in Iraq.

Thusly ... the American public, having been fed a load of crap about why this war needed to occur in the first place, now finds itself being told that to leave that country in chaos would be far worse than to continue the daily chaos that we have created for ourselves at this moment. "Iraqization" never was; it is not; and it never shall be. Any undergrad with a half-assed semester course in history of the Middle East understands this fact. Our leaders chose to simply ignore it, after they themselves in the early 90s preached the horror of this truth.

It seems that the 'agenda' sure does change a lot, even if one doesn't work for the fifth column of the 'L' media ...

And regarding Rumsfeld: He's neither callous nor insensitive. He just "is". And that state of existence for him has NO connection to you, a soldier, no connection whatsoever. How could these 172nd families dare to complain? It's not HIS fault. He is only the Secretary of Defense. If you want to hear his interpretation, go ahead and listen to the recording of his meeting with the families in the gym at Wainwright. This is not a man who understands or even considers the situation of the troops he sends into battle. He just doesn't get it; he is not on that plane. He's not dealing with people; he's dealing with a map, a timeline, an assets sheet, and an election. When Rummy makes his cutesy Turkey Day flight, since you'll be nearby, I suggest you take off the protective head gear and cut out a hole in a giant laminated map of Iraq. Pop your head through, and wear it, and he might look your way from the podium.

Buck, be assured that my senators and representatives will be sent your latest essay, and harangued until they read it. How dare this nation's leadership fail to give you and your men full credit for the most exemplary job of soldiering under confused leadership in history. This nation owes its fighting men and women honesty as well as gratitude...these half-baked plan changes are outrageous.
The US Army has represented our nation with great distinction in this mess.

Be safe. Our daily prayers are with you.

Funny photo you have up Buck. You haven't lost your sense of humor totally thank goodness. Unfortunately I think this photo was in reality taken at the pentagon and was not meant to be a joke but is real life as lived there. Oh for a pea shooter. We love ya Buck. paryers

This is one of the things that piss me off about Pres. Bush. He's got the bulk of our armed forces there, but he's afraid to let them do there jobs. Is he afraid of looking heavy handed? That he'll get slammed in the media? He'll get slammed no matter what he does, so he should just do the right thing. This is just as bad as the left's refusal to fight terror. Put people in harms way and then tie one hand around their balls and drop them into a meat grinder. Buck, I'm sorry you and your fellow strykers are having to go through this. Our prayers are with you guys until you come home.
-D. Smith

Thanks for posting the truth Buck, I'm in the 'Raq too, going on 11 months, and I completely agree with you. I could tell tales about how far the insanity has sunk into the chain of command in our unit, but since we're not even supposed to blog without authorization, I'll skip it for now. 'Sides, I couldn't approach the skill you adress these very real issues with. Just thanks for saying what folks should know back home.

Thank you so much for this blog! I am an ardent supporter of the troops and regardless of the outcome over there, I know you all have done your best under the most difficult conditions. Most of us civillians just want to hear the truth over there and this blog certainly gives me some interesting insight! (I kinda suspected it was this way, unfortunately...)

I've always disliked Rumsfeld, and I wholeheartedly agree with notion that he is totally disconnected from those he "leads". How I wish things could be different for all, Buck. Especially those of you who have had to pull more than your fair share of the weight in this war due to poor planning and ineffective , er, non-existent, leadership.

It most likely doesn't make one feel any better, but it's worth saying that there are people, like those of us who follow your blog, who get it and are more grateful to you all than words could ever possibly convey.

Looking forward to your post-enlistment book and subsequent book tour, where you'll do all the talk shows, confounding the talking heads with your expansive vocabulary, extensive eruditon, hardy common sense, and abundance of wit. I look forward to the day when you show up some of these MSM losers, and, even Rummy should the opportunity present itself.

Another salient blog by the master. God speed, Soldier.

By your standards, I am sure that I come from far left. However, I find you and your comments measured and thoughtful and, By Golly!, they even make sense. This is why, I am trying right now to interest some of the most misguided souls I have ever seen to visit this site and give me some examples why you wouldn't be a gredible commentator about the situation there in Iraq. Even if I am not an American and instead of being warrior I am a lover, you have my respect. Keep safe!

Thanks for your honesty. Don't lose hope. I've always appreciated your hope. I oompletely understand all your frustrations. My boyfriend is in Kirkuk right now and he has told me many stories about his frustrations, but also many stories of the good and successful missions they have accomplished. I don't know what I would do if he was extended until December. I'm praying for you.

::Laura::

P.S. I love the videos you have posted!

Thanks so much for your posts. Clear writing, lucid thoughts, on-the-ground perspective (always helpful!). Godspeed!

Good to hear from you again. Glad to know you are well & happy. They used to say a GI wasn't happy unless they were complaining...so you must be happy as hell. I've been following the news posted at
Multi-National Force - Iraq website. They are reporting the daily progress, sometimes several times a day, and it appears from here that your unit and others are in fact making headway. They also give full credit to the forces doing the task at hand, giving credit where credit is due, Rummy ought to be a more observant reader. As with most people in high places he is only told what he wants to hear and some lower level SOB doen't have the guts to tell him what is going on. I'm glad you are back on line and telling us what is going on.

Thanks for being there and many thanks for bringing it to us. God Bless and God Speed.

Like I said in an earlier email I hope your replacements and the IA are up to speed by early November so you all can rotate out. Alibaba

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

B Will,

Wish your daughter luck for me, but don't fret too much over her next assignment. Baghdad really isn't as bad as it's painted in the press, at least, not for us. It's the Iraqi civilians here that are unfortunately bearing the brunt of the violence. We just occasionally get in the way.

I really wish we'd get the go-ahead soon to smash these SOBs. I'm pretty confident we could take down all these rogue groups within a month's time if only the nefarious "powers that be" would let us.

On a semi-related note, look for us in Newsweek starting Monday or so. My company (B co./4-23rd/172nd Stryker Brigade) should be featured rather prominently. After I read it, I'll give the lowdown on what's accurate and what is journalistic hyperbole. The initial word on the gravel is that the embed's first submission was rejected for not being "tragic enough" or focusing on all the human misery and suffering. And this is coming from the reporter himself. Turns out it may not be the journalists fault after all, but mainly editorial zeal. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Until then,

-Buck

Thank you Buck for saying it like it is - my son is also with you in the 4-23 and to read what you say helps me feel closer to him. You are the best guys doing a wonderful job - do it -get it done and get home!
Debbie
Proud Army Mom

I feel a good deal of trepidation about that Newsweek article. I know a good deal about Newsweek and its daily far left "pseudo sibling" the NY Times! I cannot imagine an article that does not play into its incredible far left bias. Perhaps it will all be OK but I really fear not, for many reasons.

It's a shame that the politics of the war (both in the USA and with internal Iraqi politics) won't allow you, and other troops, to effectively change the situation on the ground.

That was supposed to be the whole point of extending the Stryker brigade, and of placing them in Baghdad ...

It does seem that there has been some leveling off or trending downward of deaths according to the Baghdad morgue authorities: 1855 (July) to 1526 (August) deaths in the capitol. That's a 17% decrease.

Of course, the Army says that represents a 52% decrease -- and not 17%. How? The Army isn't "counting scores of dead killed in car bombings and mortar attacks as victims", according to the McClaskey News Agency. The report goes on to say "Not included, for example, are scores of people who died in a highly coordinated bombing that leveled an entire apartment building in eastern Baghdad..." The entire report is available here:
http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/15474438.htm

The war is completely politicized at this point. The Army puts out as much crap as anyone else with regard to press releases and stories. The tale related above by the blog author (Buck) shows one side. Just about every report that comes out of Iraq MNF, or Armed Services Press Agency, is equally unrepresentative.

Buck -
As a Vietnam era ex-Marine, I'm surprised at some of your comments. You and I both know that the men and women who volunteer to serve America and defend our way of life ironically give up some of the very rights for which they are fighting. Freedom of speech, for instance.

After you've fulfilled your obligation and returned to the civilian world, I am anxious to read your perspective of the the situations you've experienced on active duty. Meanwhile, however, you are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If you were under MY command, you'd be standing tall in front of my desk trying to explain some of the critisism you've leveled at those above you in the chain of command. In all probability, you'd distinguish yourself by having meritorious E-4 bestowed upon you for your actions and public comments.

I absolutely agree with every word you've said about the SecDef (and would go further still!). But you gave up the right to make those observations (at least publicly) when you enlisted.

You are a noncommissioned officer. The junior soldiers look up to you as an example of how to conduct themselves. How about providing a better example, Sarge?

I agree with many of your comments. I disagree with some -- and wonder how cavalier you'll be if someone who was scheduled to rotate already dies because of the extension. But my primary complaint is that, as a soldier on active duty, you have no business nor right to pass judgment on superiors in your chain of command. If that is unacceptable to you, to what I did -- get out and get a job in the private sector.

Then again, maybe in the Army such insubordination is acceptable. Which might be why you aren't a Marine.

Absolutely LOVE your perspective. My husband is in your unit. My issues with the war have little to do with political affiliation and more with the limits the politicians have placed on war fighting. I really wish the Iraqis could decide to give a crap and fix their own country.
Really wish the general types had given us more notice on the extension/made the decision earlier. Other than that, I would be foolish, as an Infantry wife, to be throwing daily hissy fits about this for the next however long it winds up being. Initial hissy fit and then move on.
The newsweek article has me nervous, not losing sleep, but nervous.
I'm sure we'll be hearing much from your part of the unit, as we have so far. Your 6 is all over the personal IO campaign.
Super proud of you guys. Pray daily for you all.
Stryker wife

jarhead said..."Then again, maybe in the Army such insubordination is acceptable. Which might
be why you aren't a Marine"

This comment is unacceptable in my eyes. We have many branches of the
military in Iraq, and from all some have lost their lives. Every soldier over there
is a volunteer, were the soldiers in the Viet Nam era ????? Because Buck chooses
to voice his opinion does not lessen his dedication to our country! And jarhead when
you slap Buck with an insult like you just have you not only insult him, you insult
each & every one of our soldiers, AND "us", the family members ! And I tell you
what, my son serves right along Buck & you have just made me see red with that
"holier than thou attitude" of yours, you are no better just because you "WERE"
a Marine!! I have had the Army, Navy, and the "Marines" in my family, I am VERY
proud of that.
Army has one year deployments, Marines have what, 6 or 7 months ? And now with
this extension our soldiers could be gone for about 16 months.....you got out & got a job
in the "private sector", well guess what....many of our soldiers enlisted again while
in Iraq....including my son. This is not 1960....we live in the age of technology and
communication.......it is time to quit "sweeping the dirty little secrets under the rug".
I for one am totally sick of the lies of our politicians.
These soldiers are over their sacrificing their lives, and as a taxpayer I say allow these
soldiers to speak their mind, I am helping to pay for this war, I WANT to know what
is going on! Buck is not telling Top Secret plans, he is voicing his personal opinion, everyone
has one, including our soldiers, and if that rubs you, and people at the top the wrong
way...oh well.
Our soldiers are "Getting it Done" regardless of their personal feelings and that is what
matters! So just turn the page until you can figure out what is most important.

Oh, and by the way, you would not happen to know why the Marines enlistments are down
would you???? (Perhaps if you would have joined the Army you would understand why
our soldiers decided not to join the Marines.....)

Anonymous:
Just a couple of points to follow up... the ending of my previous post was meant tongue-in-cheek, and I would hope that would've been apparent. To clear up ANY confusion, though, It doesn't matter which of our country's uniforms those warriors wear, they represent us and I am VERY proud of them and fully support them.

However, the Uniform Code of Military Justice does exist.. and it exists for many reasons. What Buck is doing is (at least arguably) in violation of the UCMJ. As an NCO, he has leadership responsibility and sets an example for the younger troops.

Although many of us may want the insight he and other deployed warriors can contribute, we aren't entitled to that perspective and encouraging him to break the law puts him at risk. They can certainly speak their minds... just as soon as they are no longer subject to the UCMJ.

One reason for those restrictions is that seemingly unimportant posts can provide the enemy intel which we would not want them to have and which can put other deployed men and women at increased risk.

From an economic perspective, it's clear that Buck is a gifted writer with a story to tell. After he has safely returned, is no longer dealing with current OPSEC issues nor subject to the UCMJ I think he can pursue another benefit of our American culture... by writing a book which I will gladly purchase or following in the footsteps of journalists/watch dogs like David Hackworth and, more recently, Michael Yon.

The Newsweek article on us is finally up:

(http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14757928/site/newsweek/)

and I have to admit, my initial intel on it was way off. It does have a bit of a downer spin to it, but Michael Hastings is spot-on with the message. He did seem to have a bit of a grudge against Rumsfeld when I spoke with him during our clearing ops (but then again, these days who doesn't?), but I think he was fair, balanced, and totally accurate in the copy he submitted.

MSM, for once I salute thee.

Sir Jarhead,

Please elucidate for us which article of the UCMJ I have so flagrantly violated in your eyes and I will happily defend myself. Until then, perhaps you should read some of the other work I've painstakingly done all year long. The reason I'm pissed now is because I've defended these clowns all year long and given them the benefit of the doubt, but now that we've come to a critical moment they're letting it all slip away.

I am critical because I want us to WIN, not lose. They are clearly not playing to win at this point, just like a previous war that shall remain unmentioned (rhymes with "knee-it palm"). Not that I think that they'll listen to 'lil ol' me, but this info needs to get out there sooner rather than later or it will be too late to salvage this effort. Too many of my compatriots have died over here just for us to piss it all away now. You'd rather I spill my guts in a tell-all Oprah book years later. Guess what, that won't do anyone a lick of good except me, and I didn't start this side-project for me. I started it because I believed in this cause, and I'll be damned if I'll sit by and allow incompetence to go unnamed and unanswered.

If that has personal consequences for me, then so be it. Bring it on. You want the truth? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH. Ring a bell?

I'll go right back to racously cheerleading the war effort (something I may actually have been somewhat guilty of at times in prior posts) when the planners get their heads out of their "fourth points of contact." Because right now they are fumbling the ball on the 2-yard line.

That is what you should be so up in arms about, sir. Find me another credible source that is saying this and I'll shut up about it.

-Buck

Thank you! If I could only say it as well as you. You guys are always in my thought and prayers.

Jarhead,
Maybe the fact that you couldn't think for yourself while in uniform is why you were a marine and not in the army. Us soldiers (and marines nowadays) do know how to do our jobs and think at the same time, that is why we are able to do things like mentor our soldiers in all aspects of life, not just what the military lets us talk about. If Buck wants to talk then let him talk. We get breifing after briefing of what we are allowed to talk about on the internet and phones and as far as I can tell Buck hasn't violated the UCMJ. Plus the Pentagon reads all the military blogs so I am sure they would have let him know by now if he did.

Buck I am glad you tell it like it is. I honestly think you have an oppurtunity to tell the truth that no one else hears. Donald Rumsfeld, I imagine, doesn't get the complete truth from the ground because no one ever likes to tell the complete truth to their supieriors. You know that as well as I do even if no one wants to admit it. Everyone wants to look good to higher ranking people and even if they don't lie they sugarcoat. This is a problem in my unit and it hurts what we do even though the real truth wouldn't. When our leaders are mislead they don't make the decisions they should and it isn't completely their fault. What we need are more people that have nothing to gain to tell the truth to whoever needs to hear it, such as you do with this blog.

Now that I only have a little time left I don't know how you guys are dealing with being here longer. I want nothing more than to get out of the suck as soon as possible and back to civilian life. Leave screwed me up because I like dressing and feeding myself each day.

This is already too long to comment on your post but of course I liked it and found it informing. Even though I am here with you I still don't know whats up with B town. Your old stomping grounds isn't treating us too well. We need you guys back.

Jarhead,

"Although many of us may want the insight he and other deployed warriors can contribute, we aren't entitled to that perspective and encouraging him to break the law puts him at risk. They can certainly speak their minds... just as soon as they are no longer subject to the UCMJ.

One reason for those restrictions is that seemingly unimportant posts can provide the enemy intel which we would not want them to have and which can put other deployed men and women at increased risk."

I think it is pretty late to stuff that cat back into the bag. Like it or not, we live in the world of an informed public, and informed military and an informed advesary.

The ultimate outcome of this fact remains to be seen. I well understand OPSEC. I understand the culture of obedience to one's superiors (I'm the mother of a jarhead & a veteran myself.)

But I WANT THE TRUTH! I know Buck doesn't have the whole picture, he doesn't pretend to. That is why I read milblogs, Iraqi blogs, even Iranian blogs. I read and watch MSM and non MSM Because when I speak with my vote-- Vietnam as my witness--I plan to know what I'm talking about.

Buck,
I just want to say that I enjoy your blog very much. As an infantry platoon sergeant in the midst of this extension I see everything that you are talking about everyday. Please keep writing and letting people know the truth because they NEED to know.

I find it interesting that those soldiers who would accuse you of violating the UCMJ have not stopped to think of the reality of the situation. That being that those senior leaders above us, who do not convey accurate information to the Secretary of Defense about the situation here, are the ones who are in violation of the UCMJ and are not living up to the Army values.

I find it funny that people would accuse you of being insubordinate when you are not the one that is misinforming your superiors.

I have served faithfully for over 16 years and I am saddned that at this point I have become so disappointed in the performance of what I used to think was a professional organization.

I was am and always will be a devout patriot, but that doesn't relinquish me from the responsibility of telling the truth and as Non Commisioned Officers it is our responsibility to stand up for what we know and believe is right.

"Truth and courage"

Buck et al,
One of the principles of our society is the right to disagree. It's a shame when that can't be done without some of the tripe that has followed my original comment to you.

Nevertheless, you asked two questions I will answer. First, you asked which articles of the UCMJ might apply. I'm no expert and certainly do not intend for this to be taken as a legal opinion. But POTENTIAL ones that MIGHT be pertinent include 82, 89, 91, 92, 117, and of course the big 134. Please don't consider this threatening... it isn't meant that way. But when we start deciding WHICH rules to follow... well there are some soldiers awaiting trial for very serious misconduct. Where do we draw the line of which rules are important?

The other legitimate you asked is about another credible source. Have you read "Fiasco"? Active duty warriors gave Tom Ricks original emails supporting many of the issues about which you are understandably upset and more. Buck, I'm not disagreeing with your conclusions. Just questioning the risk you may be putting yourself at and the example you're setting for junior soldiers. Ricks' sources that are still in uniform are properly kept anonymous.

I think you've been pretty hard on some of the families who have been displeased about the extension.

Nobody has a lock on all the answers... not even you. Reasonable people should be able to disagree reasonably. At the very least, one should honor the rules they voluntarily agreed to comply with.

"I think it’s pathetic that so many Americans put their disdain for our current President above the lives and future of 25 million Iraqis. Many of these noble people I now consider my friends and brothers, and I will do everything within my power to not see them abandoned". - Buck Sargent on another milblogg in March 2006

There were many quotable quotes from the rants this was taken from. I chose it because it makes my point about the House election. Apparantly there was a time - before the extension when you understood what motived the President. The retention of the House prevents "cut and run" and the subsequent horror that will encompass the Iraqis. It will have dire effects on us too and the good and HONORABLE man in the White House knows both these truths. Well the Pres wants them not abandoned either and he has the power to try to see that does not happen.

You implied to Newsweek that it was base political gain that was behind it and said the same here. That is so far off line as to be laughable except you said it to an international audience in Newsweek. The overall trenor was too lacrimose to be truly damaging to an intelligent reader but there were parts like the one referenced and the one about gut punching the Secretary of Defense are really beyond the pale. And you played into the drumbeat to abandon Iraq, denigrated the President and made his deep and compelling motivation into base self interest. Too bad you are too young to recall The Fall of Saigon. The Democrat House cut funding to the South Vietnamese and their war effort ground to a halt as the Soviet Client state from the North closed in for the kill. I have sleepless nights worrying about a repeat in Iraq and our future but glad to see how you wont be losing sleep for this cause - the Iraqis are a bunch of "lazy" neredowells according to you - a bit different rhetoric from when you had another point to make.

I could not force myself to look at the picture you placed at the outset of this again so will not be back. I need no downers - why I could read the NYT or Newsweek if I wanted that. I came to milblogs for truth not a self interested effort at revenge. The first casualty however is that I am totally disillusioned with you. I read all the fine words but when the going got tough, you got mean. My Dad taught me that when the going got tough the tough got going. He would have been appalled if I had reverted to anger and racor.

Buck, I appreciate your honesty with these posts. Keep it up and keep safe.

I am also really interested in your videos. I noted the release date of Give War A Chance. When can we expect that to be out?

Buck,

My son just got home last week from 7 months in Anbar (Marine). I was of course 1000% focused on my warrior's return, but 10 minutes later I couldn't shed the reality that all our soldiers sailors marines guardsmen or airmen in harm's way in Iraq and Afghan are my sons, daughters, brothers or sisters too.

Know that (despite the vocal trolls) there are many at home who thank you every day for your service and keep you in their prayers for a safe and swift homecoming.

Godspeed,
Proud Marine Dad

Okay, so I jumped the gun a bit on my praise of the Newsweak article. I was just initially shocked that they didn't make stuff up. But yeah, it pretty much fits the classic "victims or villains only" pattern of the ways in which journalism paints soldiers. In this case, fortunately, we were only the victims. I still stand behind everything it said, but I will concede that it only gave half the story. There's a lot we've been accomplishing here -- though not nearly enough IMO -- that they simply failed to even mention.

Jarhead,

You can slam me all day long for speaking the truth on the ground, but all it shows is that you haven't been reading my work for very long. I dare anyone to find another soldier currently fighting this war who has been more pro-victory than I have been. If you had any idea how much I've sacrificed just to maintain this freaking blog, much less do my job every single day for over a year straight, maybe you'd have a clue. When I see you out here with us walking the streets of Iraq, then maybe I'll consider taking your crap. Til' then, get bent.

Simply stating that war and politics are comingled is not a cynical observation, only a true and unavoidable one. It is a necessary function of democracies at war. Because that distinction escapes Newsweak, or they seek to make political hay out of it, is not my problem. What, you've never been misquoted by the media? Then I suppose you've never spoken with them.

I fail to see what any of this has to do with the President. I don't believe I've mentioned him even once in the last three months. You really need to pay more attention to detail. But then again, this is coming from someone who considers a book named "Fiasco" to be a "credible source." If that's not a loaded title, I don't know what is. I hadn't even heard of it before, but I could probably tell you precisely what it is about and what it's conclusion is without even reading it. That sounds like awesome journalism. I'll have to pick that one up. Right after I finish my copy of "Babykillers." Sound like a credible source from your war?

However, I'll go right back to my optimistic self just as soon as I can find something to be optimistic about. And no, I'm not just angry because we got extended. I'm over that already. What I'm not over, is the feeling that I could now lose my life for absolutely nothing in the long run. That's a new feeling, based solely on what we've come to find here in Baghdad, and it's got nothing to do with danger. That hasn't changed. Someone's been lying to all of us for at least the past year, and to my shock and horror, I've found that it hasn't been just the media. For the most part, their pessimism has been justified.

And for the record, our battalion has now lost our first soldier to enemy action. He was from my company and his name was CPL Alexander Jordan. He was taken from us on September 10, 2006, but he will never be forgotten.

Oh, and also the release date of GIVE WAR A CHANCE will have to be delayed until we've actually finished living it. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

-Buck

Newsweek: The First Loss

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14838064/site/newsweek/

This latest web-only article contains what also should have been part of the print edition.

It's ironic that coming to Baghdad may have made my blog obsolete. Michael Hastings is finally doing the job on the ground that was so sorely lacking all year in Mosul.

Perhaps I'll simply fill in any gaps that he may miss. Or maybe I'll just take it easy from here on out and actually get decent sleep for once this year.

Nahhhhhh... sleep's a crutch.

Buck,
OK... you got me... the author of "Fiasco" is some half wit who had to self publish. Oops, I'm sorry... after further review, it's Thomas E Ricks, a Pulizer Prize winning author and someone who has covered the Pentagon for major publications for years. But clearly, he doesn't have credentials nor writing talent that comes anywhere NEAR yours....

It's too bad that your tiny little mind cannot have a reasonable discussion without becoming insulting. It's equally a shame that you can't read and understand the rules and regs you voluntarily subjected yourself to (i.e. the UCMJ).

I only hope someday in my life I'm half as important as you seem to think you are now.

You should be ashamed of yourself. But, with your ego, that is an emotion you've never felt I suspect.

My initial intent was a friendly point of caution. Your narrow mind and inability to disagree agreeably caused this to degrade to the level of argument in which I will not engage. To dismiss an author based on the title of his book???

I hope you and the rest of our warriors have a safe deployment and come home whole. Perhaps the experience has already affected you emotionally, and I hope you recover soon.

Jarhead,

Go away. You are a fool.

Jarhead-

"As a Vietnam era ex-Marine"

If you are really as old as you descibe yourself, I wish you would stop posting since you are an embarrassment to those of us over the age of sixty who still have their intellect.

Buck,

Words cannot even begin to tell you how sorry I am about the loss of Cpl Alexander Jordan. The loss of any soldier is difficult to take but this one is especially sad.

jarhead,
Remember the adage "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig." For the sake of the blog's focus, please stop wasting your time.

Buck,

I send you all my most sincere sympathy and regret in the loss of Cpl Jordan. God keep you safe as you go about your duties. Here at home, we are deeply mindful of your service and many sacrifices.

I am sorry that you all loss SPC Jordon - my son is one of you and I know his sadness in this and how hard it is on all of you. My prayres go to the family and also all you "brothers" of his that have to keep going. You are now doing it in his name - We are so Proud of you all - HUGS from a 4-23 B Co mom
Debbie

I'm so so sorry to hear about Cpl Jordon.
Keep writing, Buck Sargent, we here at home so need to hear what you have to say. I'm sure when I say how much it is appreciated, I don't just speak for myself.

Rest in peace Cpl. Jordon...

Buck I'm sorry for your loss. May God keep you all safe, and thanks for telling it like it is.

Buck....It is a kick in the gut when you realize that most of the world doesn't have a clue about reality, and those who do don't have the balls to stand up and do what it takes to put down Islamic terrorism world wide as well as in Iraq. Maybe they are more the enemy than the terrorists are. You can't help a willingly blind world. You know the truth of what it takes to defeat madmen. You kill them. We are playing games with war because everybody has their own ax to grind. Incompetence in powerful positions hasn't helped. Most people don't want the truth, Buck. The truth might prick their consciences and force them to face reality and they would have to join in the battle. This would rock their boat. There is always a remanent who see the truth and defend right. You are one of them and some of your readers are as well. The world is going to hell in a handbasket but you never die for nothing if you are fighting evil because you love good. Please know that what you have done and are doing ultimately is not in vain. You could be a civilian, blind as a bat, usless, living the good life and helping to bring down freedom. Would that be better? It is just as difficult to get out the truth here at home and just as difficult to get politicians to see the truth or to elect those who do. Our hands seem as tied as yours are. But as with you, there are those that of us fighting every day to do just that. Sometimes I wish I had a gun and could face the enemy head on rather than fighting the war with words. You would probably be glad to trade places with me at this point...and I with you. I am sorry about your loss of Cpl. Jordan and every other man we have lost. Sorry doesn't cut it though. If I don't use all my strength to fight terrorism every day my sorry means nothing. Tell you what Buck, if you don't give up neither will I. We love ya man and it is possible to praise the Lord and pass the amunition. We will win this war and it will be by the grace of God and men like you.
Your friends, supporters and fellow defenders of truth,
Annie & Neatie
Newton, Tx USA

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Keep up the great work Buck. I'm sorry for the loss of Cpl Alexander. B. will derd; I'm afraid to say that you are not wrong. Worse is yet to come.

I love reading your posts. They are insightfull and informative in a way that other sources of military news are not. I have read your blog for a while now and understand your patriotism and concern for your soldiers. I know you want to win the war and you feel like this is an important cause. I can see how you feel about the war at this time, and yes I am concerned too. Yet, I feel like Jarhead had some legitimate questions and you and some of the other commentors were extreme and inappropriate with your responses. I have to admit that I know nothing about the military rules and regulations. I am just a middle-aged grandma who loves to support the troops, but even I thought, "Wow, I hope Buck does not get in trouble for this post." When Jarhead mentioned the same concerns, he was attacked - Just does not seem right. It was just questions with concern for Buck and his soldiers - nothing to be attacked over. I think I will stand with Jarhead on this one.

bag blog -
You might have a point. After all, the oath of enlistment is "I, (Buck Sargent), do solemly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

His derogatory comments regarding those above him in his chain of command (including referring to his opinion of SecDef "Rummy") might not be consistent with his oath. Has anyone looked at the articles jarhead provided Buck in response to his questions?

Buck, My son (TFBoggs) and I are having an argument as to whether Jarhead's real. He votes 'yes' because he's got the marine "arrogance" but I can't imagine a real marine being that thin-skinned. Tim thinks he sounds like a First Sargent but I think he sounds like a 27 yr old loser with a computer. Can you settle it for us?

tfdad - there are now a number of people who have agreed with Jarhead and I do not believe - and I point out now that I have not added my support for Jarhead before, I do not believe that he is a loser. I believe he is right. Buck has gone over the line. There are undoubtedly diplomatic ways of getting legitimate concerns across without defaming those in the chain of command over you. I would imagine that these were not explored because of the anger that Buck admits he is laboring under. Jarhead said he shared Buck's views - I do not in all cases. However, you put up a post like this one and you cannot expect universal agreement - John Q. Public has not taken an oath to support Buck blindly and in all cases. What we have, however, in common is a wish for his safety and well being over the next weeks of his extension and a safe return to his lovely wife when the demands of his duty allow.

Anonymous,

Whether Buck has gone over a line or not, I think Jarhead has, big time. He sounds like Murtha to me!, with quotes like

"your tiny little mind"

"you should be ashamed of yourself"

"I only hope someday in my life I'm half as important as you think you are"

That's all I need to know this guy (how do we know its even a "guy") isn't worthy of carrying Buck's jockstrap. His behavior toward a brave man in the fight belies any qualities I associate with Marines. In fact, the more I think about it, my money's on this jerk being a 25-30, female, who prays toward Mecca.

I've been reading Buck for quite a while and can only hope there are many more Buck's in that fight and coming home soon to straighten out those that think this war we're in can be won without offending any Iraqi's.

Buck, even Iraqi Shi'ia agree that al Sadr should have been taken out when he only had a few hundred followers. Someone in DoD stopped them, and whoever it was should be brought up on charges!

Just imagine if troops had blogs during our other wars. It's definitely a brand new world and hard to know where the limits should be. Stay safe Buck. We're with you.
One always hopes the higher ups know what they're doing. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. But we all want what is best for Iraq, best for the ME and best for the USA.

Very well said TFdad!!

tfdad,

No he does not sound like Murtha! He was not castigating everything military, the entire mission etc. He was attacked unfairly and he came out swinging. I have a very positive feeling for the US Army but I had a brother who was a career marine. He knew what and who he was: not arragance when it is true!! But enough of that. To suggest that a marine carry ANYONE'S jockstrap is beyond ludicrous - so EVERYONE, cool down stop the inflammatory remarks, we are on the same side but just having a small disagreement about what is productive and what is not. Jarhead will likely never concern himself about ramifications to a soldier again. I personnally have been a follower of the writing Buck has put out before - but this one and Newsweek I did not like or find productive to the issue at hand. I said once a while back that I was glad Buck was on our side because he is one formidible American fighting man. Still don't have to be in lock step with him and I am not. However, I am still 150% sure that I am glad he is on our side. Fight hard Buck and come home safe. The rest of you fight the enemy - there are enough to go around!! And as this heats up with an alliance between the Third World's Hard Left and the IslamoMarxists, all our energies need to be focused on what is hell bent out to destroy us all. We sure do not have time to fight each other or those up and down the chain of command.

Hey, y'all want to keep drinking the Kool Aid in the face of all available evidence, go right ahead. But I'm not like you, I actually have a spine. If you feel I've violated my oath of office or OPSEC or the UCMJ, then give me concrete, actionable examples, not innuendo. Otherwise, STFU and stay off my blog. I don't do this so couch-bound do-nothings like you can sharpshoot me all day long while I get roughly seven minutes or less to respond. In case you haven't noticed yet, I DON'T GIVE A GOOD GODDAMN WHAT YOU THINK.

When people in charge tell lies, don't be surprised when I call them on it. They have no damn right to be lying to us, our families, or pretty much anyone at this point.

Am I angry? Yes, I'm angry. We're on schedule to be deployed continuously in a combat zone longer than any Army unit since the Korean War. I'm tired, I'm burned out, I miss my wife who I now barely know, and I'm tired of busting my ass for no discernible purpose or larger plan.

Shaking hands and kissing babies is nice and makes good copy, but I've said it before and I'll say it again: THE BAD GUYS ARE NOT GOING TO SHOOT THEMSELVES. We have to be allowed to hunt them, rather than remaining the hunted ourselves. Our brigade is averaging about a soldier a day right now to sniper fire or IEDs, and we're not doing a damn thing about it except going right back out the next day to do the same thing all over again.

It's not the politicians I blame for this, it's the upper military chain that knows not of what they speak. Their ignorance and incompetence borders on the criminal. They are living in Fantasyland, not the Baghdad I see every single day.

For example, check out this nonsense:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14870306/site/newsweek/

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Buck- My prayer for you today is that you can completely ignore idiots that don't understand "STFU and stay off my blog!" Even in Ohio we know what "GOOD GODDAMN" means, as in, "We don't give a GOOD GODDAMN your Longhorns beat us in Columbus last year!"

I can understand volunteering to go to a war that needs to be fought, I just can't understand keeping up a regular blog with a comment section. You must be one sick puppy!

At some point I hope you get a shitload of pleasure out of the absurdity of your crazy-ass countrymen telling you what you should think and say.

Be well and get back here in one piece ASAP.

EVER HEARD THE PHRASE ABOUT OUR MILITARY..."THEY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE GETTING INTO WHEN THEY JOINED"...??? HA!!! YOUR DAMN RIGHT THEY DID AND THAT MAKES THEM 10 TIMES MORE WORTHY OF RESPECT THEN ANY A$$HOLE WHO WANTS TO SIT AND CRITICIZE WHAT OUR MILITARY MEN AND WOMEN ARE DOING OR HAVE DONE WETHER IT BE IN ACTIONS OR WORDS!!! THESE SAME PEOPLE WHO CRITICIZE HAVE PROBABLY DONE ZERO TO TRY TO HELP IMPROVE OUR COUNTRY OR JUST WANT TO JUMP ON A BANDWAGON BECASUE THEY CAN'T THINK FOR THEMSELVES AND RELY ON OTHERS AROUND THEM TO DETERMINE WHAT KIND OF PERSON THEY ARE, LIKE SO MANY IN THIS WORLD. JUST BECAUSE THEY CHOSE TO SERVE DOES NOT MAKE THEM ANY LESS HUMAN NOR DOES IT MEAN THEY NEED ANY LESS PRAYERS OR GOOD THOUGHTS TOWARDS THEM. IT AMAZES ME HOW QUICKLY SOME ARE TO POINT OUT THE FACT THAT "THEY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE GETTING INTO WHEN THEY JOINED", WHEN THEY ARE ASKED TO SUPPORT OUR TROOPS, OR WHEN THE SOLDIERS I CALL FAMILY FROM THE 172ND ARE EXTENDED WITHOUT WARNING EXPRESS FEELINGS AND WHAT THEY SEE IN THEIR DAY TO DAY LIFE, AND YOU ALL HAVE THE BALLS TO COME HERE AND TRY TO TELL THEM HOW IT SHOULD BE DONE. TAKE THOSE BALLS AND CHOKE ON THEM ALREADY!! THEY ARE THE ONES DEALING WITH THE DECISIONS OUR COUNTRIES SUPERIORS ARE MAKING, THEY ARE THE ONES WHOS LIVE ARE AT STAKE AND ON THE LINE WHEN THEY SHOULD BE HOME ALREADY!!! AGAIN THEY ARE HUMAN AND LETS SEE ALL OF YOU HIGH AND MIGHTY PEOPLE DO WHAT THEY ARE DOING. YOU KNOW WHAT THEY DIDNT JUST ROLL OVER AND SAY WTF-EVER, THROW THIER HANDS UP AND NOT GIVE IT THEIR ALL WHEN THEY WERE EXTENDED, THEY GOT IN THERE FULL FORCE AND READY TO HANDLE THE CHALLENGE AT HAND. WHEN THEIR GOING GOT TOUGH THEY DIDN'T HAVE A CHOICE NOT TO BE TOUGHER THEN THEY ALREADY ARE. WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH IN AMERICA THE COWARDS BACK HERE ARE THE ONES WITH THE BIGGEST VOICES!!! YOU KNOW THE ONES THAT CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH BEING TOLD, WHO JUST WANT TO PUT ON BLINDERS TO THE FACT OF WHAT OUR MEN AND WOMEN SERVING ARE GOING THRU IN TIMES LIKE THESE, AND WHAT GOES ON BEHIND THE SCENES, THE STUFF THAT ISNT PUBLISED IN NEWS ARTICLES OR ON TV, THAT WAY THEY CAN HAVE A REASON TO BE LAZY AND CRITICAL. THEY DO NOTHING BUT SIT AROUND AND LOOK UP ONLINE CREDIBLE SOURCES THAT THEY OBVIOUSLY KNOW NOTHING ABOUT SO THEY CAN PROVE A POINT TO SOMEONE THEY ARE DISRESPECTING. 9/11...HOW MUCH DID WE HEAR ABOUT AMERICA AND THE LEE GREENWOOD SONG WAS PLAYED ON HOW MANY RADIO STATIONS AROUND THE COUNTRY AND EVERYONE WAS ALL FOR AMERICA, IT WAS SO GREAT AND HOW QUICKLY THEY FORGET. IT'S SAD THAT IT TOOK SEPT 11 TO BRING AMERICA TOGETHER LIKE THAT BUT THAT PRIDE FOR AMERICA HAS SEEMED TO DISAPATE QUITE QUICKLY IN SO MANY!!! SUCH A SHAME, NO WONDER WE ARE CRITCIZED BY OTHER COUNTRIES. I AM ALL FOR PPL HAVING THEIR OWN OPINIONS, THATS WHAT IS SO GREAT ABOUT OUR COUNTRY, THE FREEDOMS WE HAVE. WHAT I AM NOT FOR IS DISRESPECT AND UNGRATEFULNESS, YOU WANNA REALLY PI$$ ME OFF ACT LIKE THAT AND I'LL TAKE YOUR HEAD OFF! IN MY OPINION MAYBE ANY WARS WE GET INTO OR ARE A PART OF SHOULD BE BROUGHT TO US SOIL, THEN MAYBE THESE PEOPLE WOULD WISE UP AND BE A LITTLE MORE GRATEFUL AND APPRECIATIVE FOR OUR MEN AND WOMEN SERVING. WHO WOULD THEY ASK FOR HELP IN THAT SITUATION??? HMMMM I WONDER!!! WETHER YOU AGREE WITH ANY WAR WE ARE IN OR NOT THERE SHOULD BE THE UTMOST RESPECT AND GRATITUDE FOR THE MEN AND WOMEN THAT CHOOSE TO BE APART OF OUR MILITARY. I AM PROUD TO BE PART OF SOMETHING SO HONORABLE AS OUR MILITARY, BEING MARRIED TO A SOLDIER IN BUCKS COMPANY. MY SERVICE IS BY FAR NOTHING COMPARED TO WHAT THE SOLDIERS DO BUT I AM PROUD NONETHELESS. THEY ARE THE ONES WHO WILL BE THERE WHEN THE SHIT HITS THE FAN WITH OUR COUNTRY, YOU KNOW THE ONES WHO VOLUNTEERED TO JOIN OUR MILITARY WETHER THEY ARE ARMY, NAVY, MARINE OR AIRFORCE!!! THEY ARE THE ONES WHO WILL STAND UP AND FIGHT FOR WHAT SO MANY HAVE DIED FOR IN THE PAST. THEY ARE ALSO THE ONES WHO SUFFER AND SACRAFICE. THEY HAVE TO BE MILES AWAY FROM THEIR LOVED ONES AND ANY COMFORTS FROM HOME, WHILE THE REST OF US JUST SIT BACK AND ENJOY. PARDON MY LANGUAGE BUT F**K ANYONE WHO WOULD DISRESPECT OUR MILITARY AND ITS VETERANS!!! IF IT WERE ONLY THAT EASY TO JUST SIT DOWN AND EXPLAIN TO OTHER COUNTRIES WHY THEY SHOULDN'T BE KILLING EACH OTHER, AND SLAPPING THEM ON THE HAND AND SAYING NO NO FOR BLOWING UP HOW MANY AMERICANS??!! WHAT BLISSFUL IGNORANCE SOME PEOPLE CALL REALITY. IF YOUR READING THIS AND HAVE EVER DISRESPECTED OUR MILITARY IN ANY WAY, MAYBE MAKE UP FOR IT BY THANKING A SOLDIER AND OUR VETERENS. WRITE A LETTER, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL VFW AND IN GENERAL JUST START RESPECTING THOSE WHO WOULD DIE FOR THE COUNTRY AND THE FREEDOMS YOU ENJOY. YOU DON'T LIKE WHAT BUCK OR ANYONE ELSE BLOGGING HAS TO SAY, USE YOUR AMERICAN FREEDOM TO JUST IGNORE IT AND MOVE ON TO SOMETHING YOU DO LIKE, OTHERWISE GO TO THE LOCAL RECRUITING OFFICE IN YOUR TOWN AND JOIN THEM OVER THERE!!! BUCK MY HEART ACHES FOR YOU GUYS AND ALL THE LOVED ONES, INCLUDING MYSELF BACK HOME AWAITING WITH OPEN ARMS. MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS FOR YOU ALL!!!

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Buck, for all the months when I agreed with you I was welcome. Now on this occasion when I am not I am told to STFU and get off your blog. I am deeply regretful that we ended up fighting each other and I recall a smart man who said some months ago that Al Qaeda follows this kind of disension and thrives on it.

I will go on keeping you in my prayers. God bless you and Pray God keep you safe.

Respectfully,

A 20 year military career wife; from a family with 4, Four X 20 year careers, with one that was 35yrs all with war time well represented!!

Sometimes it is better to listen to what a soldier has to say rather than debate whether you believe he is right or wrong about what he is experiencing. I tend to believe that Buck is telling us something we need to know. I have supported the soldiers and the mission from day one because the soldiers I know say the mission is necessary.

I was disappointed with the decision to send the 172nd sent back in to take care of the problem in Baghdad. I know how I would feel if it were my family member who had been extended at the last minute. Heck, I was furious that they delayed one of my nephew's flight for two days at the last minute. I cannot even imagine what I would feel in this situation.

Nonetheless, I have also been told that Baghdad is a place that needs to be cleaned up (and bad). And, I can appreciate that it is sometimes necessary for the military to make these decisions in order to get the job done. I do believe that the 172nd could accomplish this mission with less injuries or loss of life if they are allowed to do what they are capable of doing.

I believe that Buck also took this position (in his own way) but warned that the world would hear about it if they were extended to get a job done and then was not allowed to do the job.

All of you with various military history really have no idea what is going on in Baghdad. Yet instead of reading Bucks words for understanding, you decide to tell him how he is wrong to speak...then get your feathers ruffled when he tells you to STFU and get off of his blog. Rather than pointing out where you believe his words are inappropriate why not pay attention to what he is saying. His buddies who made it through their year deployment are now getting wounded and killed during this extention. However, the real slap in the face is that they are running around Baghdad with their hands tied while the military command is trying to give us the impression that the job is getting done. And quite frankly, that reall ticks me off too!!

strykeraunt,

Well said.

Thank you, Strykeraunt. You made my point much better and less bombastically than I am presently capable of. But once again, it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to. Don't like it? There's the door.

Either way, all I am concerned with right now is Baghdad; I'm not passing judgment on Mosul, or Ramadi, the rightness or wrongness of the war, or anything else. Baghdad.

If we're going to be sent to do a job, no problem, I'll do it. I'd run a gauntlet of bullets, rockets, and bombs if need be, provided there's a definable goal and an understandable reason.

But when something's being done stupidly, I'm going to call a spade a spade. I don't care who's listening, I don't care who it pisses off, and I don't care whose morale bubble is burst. Morale and how well or poorly the war is going are totally unrelated in 99% of soldiers. Trust me.

Also keep in mind that this post is now almost three weeks old. Give me a chance to update on whether progress is being made before you make your grand pronouncements of how you've "lost faith in me." I held steady for a year straight, but the minute I get frustrated and lose patience with the idiocy I have to live through every day here, and all of a sudden I'm damaged goods.

Nice loyalty.

Strykeraunt,

Thank you for supporting my brother and TRULY HEARING what he has to say.

Sincerely,
Buck's sister
Houston,Texas

Buck, I for one and I know most of the others who follow your blog have not "lost faith in you". We still support you and your mission. Most of us understand, if not exactly what you are dealing with, that you need to get some things off your chest. I would rather you let your frustation out in words than hold them in and wind up doing something you might regret. I believe it is also important for people in this country to know what is going on over there, good and bad. I am very much looking forward to an update whenever you find the time. You guys are in my thoughts and prayers constantly and I believe with men like you we will have victory. Thank you for your sacrifice and service. DMIL

Make no mistake, there is a story to be told and Buck likes to dance on the line of the facts he CAN put into public words & knowledge without subordinately getting back-handed. Hooah to you Buck for standing your ground! STAY SAFE!

He's right, if you don't like his blog, then find another! He doesn't need your negativity during this time.

Thank you Buck. Thank your men. Thanks isn't enough. You need to know there is an Army of civilians over here at home fighting the same war you are with as much tenacity and insight as you men have. This isn't a game we are playing and we need to be as serious and involved as you, one way or another right here at home. This war isn't like those of the past. The enemy is here as well as there and in every country in the dang world. As long as we here think you guys alone are fighting as we can depend on just you to win....we have lost it. My hope is that you and men writing like you can open the eyes up and we will all get as serious as you are. Talk is cheap on the homefront. We need more action to back up our talk. We need to be as serious as the enemy is. It looks like some are catching on though..not enough yet..but many. We'll both be praying for you and fighting ourselves, as best we can with one arm tied behind us, here on the homefront. Again, thank you.

The reason I read this and other milblogs is to hear from the soldiers with boots in country. Who am I to make judgements while sitting in my comfy kitchen with coffee mug in hand and no one shooting at me. No, I read LOTS of different milblogs because there are lots of soldiers in a lot of areas doing alot of different things. What better way to get an overview of the perspectives of so many? A perspective that I won't get from reporters sending stringers out to do their job of reporting.
Looking forward (as always) to your next post, Buck Sargent ~ we's aprayin' on ya, Soldier!

When my nephew was deployed with the 3/2 during 2003/04 he would sometimes send emails to the entire family. Some of those emails were obiously full of adrenaline and held the "grace" of a true infantryman, if you know what I mean. During a discussion with some family members we agreed that we hoped no one would suggest he tone the message down. We took the same position that you (Buck) are taking here...if you don't like them quit reading them. Period. We knew he wasn't breaking OPSEC, but was obviously getting some things off of his chest. I personally love the memory of those emails to this day because they were not a sugar coat of his experience (even though I knew we were not told everything). My point here is that it is more important and real to tell it the way you do, even if someone else believes it is bombastic. I don't see you as bombastic, just real. You are damn straight...this is your blog and you can say what you want (and thank you for having the guts to say it)!

The point that Baghdad is not Mosul is NOT something I am hearing for the first time on this blog. Even though I have heard just tidbits, your words confirmed suspicions I already held.

Today, my nephew and I are going to visit one of his old buddies from the first deployment who was injured in Baghdad a few weeks ago. I can only hope that they don't hold back in their discussions because I am in the room :D

Wow! I actually laughed and cried while reading this post. My favorite man in the world is there with you, and you conveyed his daily frustration so well. Thanks for giving us insight that we would never hear in the media.

Thanks buc i enjoy reading your blog for the uninformed as to what your talking about they need to go the department of defence site http://www.pentagonchannel.mil/ and watch the Iraq briefing from Mg Thurman sept 22. After watching it you get the idea that he is not real informed on things. As for jarhead i guess he doesn't understand how your suppose to fight a war when they dont let u shoot back , so just keep killing the cowards with kindness they will give up soon, yea right. Be safe and keep the info comming.

I can understand and appreciate your frustration at not being allowed to do your job Buck. It sucks. Big time. We're all prying for you and you men. Godspeed

I read many milblogs and often they interlock - the Strykers are in Baghdad and another milblogger has been carrying excellent map and over-view of the changes (for the better)since the combined forces began their work. Bandit at (http://bandit36.blogspot.com/) has this map and tell coverage last on Sept 21st and it is worth seeing and reading what friend Buck and entourage are accomplishing if anyone would be interested. I was thrilled to see the progress being made. Way to go Buck and Strykers!!!

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"Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed." -- Abraham Lincoln