Happy Armed Forces Day:

In honor of AFD, I've spent the day at that most frequent and herculean of military labors: shifting house. My new residence is in that part of Virginia where Mosby's Rangers were raised. I've been loading, unloading, carrying, hauling, and otherwise exhausting myself since dawn. It's now nearly midnight, and it's the first time I've had to sit down.

It's going to be good to be in the South again. Georgia, not Virginia, is my home. Still, this part of the South feels very familiar, very much like the place where I grew up. It'll be a good spot to raise my own son, for the year or two until we shift house again.

Even though I haven't had much time to think of you and yours, I didn't forget. My best to all of you out there in the service. I'll save eloquence for some day when I'm not so tired. For now, just: Good on you, and good luck.

Southern Appeal


There are a pair of essays on Rumsfeld today. You'll have seen the VDH essay, which is being broadly linked across the blogosphere. The other one is by the man who should have been the Democratic nominee for President, Joe Lieberman. It ran in the Wall Street Journal.

Both are deeply supportive of the SECDEF. The ultimate case for his continuing in office, though, comes from Baldilocks. There's really no argument against the point she raises, unless you believe that the Filibuster Congress would forgo the chance to humiliate the Administration in the months before the election. Do I believe that? Not a bit.


Big Win in USPACOM:

There is another GWOT success being reported by the AFP at this hour (no link so far).

A Filipino who acted as a conduit for funds from Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network to the Abu Sayyaf group in the southern Philippines has been arrested, the Philippine government said Friday.

Khair Malvan Mundus, 40, who studied Arabic in Saudi Arabia, was arrested last week by intelligence agents in the southern city of Zamboanga, Defense Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

Mundus was a 'direct intermediary of al-Qaeda funds,' channeled to Abu Sayyaf senior leader Khadaffy Janjalani to be used in 'bombing and other terroristic activities,' he told a news conference.

The funds financed a bombing that killed a US military adviser on Mindanao island in October 2002, he added.

Mundus told investigators he funnelled more than 3.5 million pesos (about 63,000 dollars) from Al-Qaeda to the Abu Sayyaf for various kidnapping and bombing attacks, Ermita said.

Among the attacks financed by this money was a bombing in the southern Philippines in October 2002 which killed an American soldier training local counter-terrorist soldiers and another blast in Kidapawan City later that month which killed seven people, Ermita said.

He also provided funds to buy a speedboat and weapons for the Abu Sayyaf and delivered uniforms and equipment used in the kidnapping of 21 foreign and local tourists and hotel staff from the Malaysian resort island of Sipadan in 2000.

Mundus stayed in Saudi Arabia from 1996 and 2003, supposedly to study the Arabic language, but he travelled between the Philippines and the Middle East numerous times in that period, the defense department said.

While in Saudi Arabia, he raised money for the Abu Sayyaf and had 'dealings with Al Haramain, a non-government organization that has been linked by intelligence agencies to terrorist activities,' the department added.

The Abu Sayyaf has been targetting Christians and foreigners in the southern Philippines since the early 1990s.

Washington and Manila have both linked the group to the Al-Qaeda network and in March, the government said the authorities had prevented a major terrorist attack in Manila with the arrest of several Abu Sayyaf militants.

Capturing a high-placed finance manager is always a major success in the GWOT. What is suggestive here is that this is the second one in weeks.

Yahoo! News - Marines Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stack


Marines in Fallujah are paying the diaya, which is the Arabic version wergeld:

The village leader received $15,000 on behalf of residents in compensation for dead livestock, uprooted trees, damaged fields and other losses. The Marines tried to bargain him down to $10,000, but he stood firm.

The son of a man killed by gunfire while driving in a battle zone received $2,500. And a man who said his 7-year-old daughter was killed as she tended the family's sheep also received $2,500.

Now that the fighting between Marines and insurgents has tapered off in the area, the U.S. military is attempting to make amends with noncombatants who suffered. The Americans hope cash will win friends and help bring peace in this part of the volatile Sunni Triangle.

Under Marine rules, a payment for a death goes directly to the family. Payments for community losses can be funneled through an elder, sheik or village leader.

"I know we cannot replace your loss, but we would like to offer a small apology in the form of $2,500 so we can move on in friendship," Capt. Kevin Coughlin, judge advocate general for the 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment, 1st Marine Division, told the man who said his daughter had been killed.

"I accept your apology," said Saady Mohamed Abdala.

This seems oddly mercenary to the modern Westerner, but it is how peace is made in traditional societies. Our own was no exception. The fact that the diaya is accepted means that these persons are honor-bound to respect the peace made through the settlement. It is a very positive sign.

Marine Corps Moms

Option Two:

A few days ago I asked for opinions on the moral course of action for dealing with the prisoners at Abu Ghraib in light of new evidence. It appears that the military decided on option two--and, to their credit, decided on it months ago.

US forces freed Friday morning hundreds
of Iraqi prisoners from the notorious Abu Ghraib jail, which has been the platform of prison abuse scandals.

Several buses filled with detainees, escorted by US military vehicles, pulled out of the prison, toward the high way, heading to the capital.

Since the dawn, hundreds of Iraqis were at the main gate of Abu Ghraib prison west of baghdad waiting for their thousands of detainees inside the compound.

US officials had previously said that about 300 prisoners would be released on Friday, part of a months-old programme that the new commander of the jail said this week would cut the number of detainees to between 1,500 and 2,000 by the end of next month.

About 3,800 detainees were in Abu Ghraib earlier this week.

This is what we expect to see from the US military--decisive action coupled with an institutional commitment to honor and right action. That commitment is no small thing, not a trinket nor an ornament, to be set aside when the serious business of war is at hand. General Washington said: "Discipline is the soul of an army," and also, "Nothing is more harmful to the service, than the neglect of discipline; for that discipline, more than numbers, gives one army superiority over another." It is exactly in the times of war when these habits must be ingrained if they are not to be lost.



BlackFive correctly points out the failure of leadership at Abu Ghraib that needs to be punished. There have been a number of calls for the civilian leadership to step down. This arises from a general misunderstanding about the nature of the civil/military divide.

The military is under civil authority, but the keeping of discipline within its ranks is the duty and responsibility of military men and women. The system is self-reinforcing: the military is protected from the worst impulses of standing armies both by being under civilian authority, but it is also protected from being misused by those civilians by assigning every serviceman a personal duty to the lawful order. Even if Wolfowitz had personally commanded the abuse of prisoners, servicemen are obligated by oath and military law to disobey. It is not a choice. It is their duty.

Responsibility is one thing the military is good at assigning. In this case it lies with every command, staff, and noncommissioned officer who took an oath to keep order and discipline at this station, as well as the actual violators themselves. They all swore oaths, and have broken them. Guilt is one thing that can be divided without being lessened. General Karpinski bears it in full measure.

Arts & Letters Daily - ideas, criticism, debate

The Boy Scouts:

Grim's Hall is an enthusiastic supporter of the Boy Scouts. I was myself a Scout--I had the honor of achieving Life Scout rank, and was within two merit badges of my Eagle Scout badge when my troop dissolved due to the Scoutmaster no longer being able to run it, and no replacement being available. I should have found another troop and kept after it, but at the time the letdown was enough that I drifted away from the Scouts.

The Scouts come in for a positive mention in Brad Miner's new book, The Compleat Gentleman:

Winston Churchill was a big fan of Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, and of the gentlemanly qualities of early scouting, which Churchill considered 'an inspiration, characteristic of the essence of British genius, and uniting in a bond of comeradeship the youth not only of the English-speaking world, but of almost every land and people under the sun.' Baden-Powell's 1908 book, Scouting for Boys, stirred sentiments of 'knightly chivalry, of playing the game--any game--earnest or fun--hard and fairly[.]'....

Baden-Powell enisioned 'a new organization that would draw on wartime scouting lore and ancient codes of chivalry to teach boys the Victorian virtues. King Arthur's Round Table, Baden-Powell understood, resonated in boys' souls, for it symbolized the marriage of strength and goodness[.]'

Today, Arts & Letters Daily links to two pieces on the Scouts. The first is from the Atlantic, by Christopher Hitchens sneers at Baden-Powell and his 'no smoking, no drinking, pro-God outfit.' The second article, written by a less stellar writer, is nevertheless the stronger: it is merely a factual piece about the Boy Scouts of Iraq:
Former Navy commander Chip Beck said contacts he made in the city informed him that local Iraqi scouting councils in the 18 provinces had survived attempts by Saddam to cut off sources of funding, meeting places and communication between brother and sister organizations. The scouts were alive and waiting for a chance to resurrect themselves, he said.

"You still have some older scout leaders in their 40s who had been trained by the world scouting organization and knew the ethics and training and maintained it. They kept it up," Beck told "They're emerging battered and tattered, but in relatively good shape."

"The Arab region wants to welcome them with open arms and [is] looking for ways to help them," said Gabr, who spoke to from the Arab Region Council in Cairo, Egypt, which is part of the world organization.

The long and impressive scouting tradition for Iraqi boys and girls dates back to the 1920s. Beck, who had been working with the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Pentagon on communications systems in Baghdad, set about helping the Iraqis fix their scouting system earlier this year.

He placed articles in Arabic newspapers to garner support from the world and regional organizations and found they generated excitement among scouts in and around Baghdad.

"Unbeknownst to me, some Iraqi former scouts were gathering and planting seeds in an old camp that had been burnt down," said Beck.

Mr. Hitchens may sneer as he wishes at the ideals the Scouts offer. Here we see an element of comeradeship between the West and the Iraqi; here we see an ethic that resonated so strongly in the souls of boys that, as men--thirty years on, when the great terror ended--among their first thoughts was to rekindle its flame.

Cavalry Raiders

Cavalry Raiders:

Some of you noticed that BlackFive published a short series of photos from Iraq. I have a more from the same series (thanks to the fellow who sent them). The ones I'd most like to publish are the remnant of an IED attack in which some contractors were wounded--apparently they were operating alone and without military protection, although the Marines were able to get there in time to F3 ("find, fix and finish") their attackers.

However, for OPSEC reasons I'm going to hold off on those photos for a while, as well as the others that might give position information on this unit of Marines. I do have a couple of pictures of their convoy, however:

I'm told that the Marines have taken to calling themselves "JEB Stuarts" in honor of the great American cavalryman, who served the United States in the West, Kansas and Virginia, and the Confederate States from the outbreak of war until his death outside of Richmond. It's good to see him honored. These types of raids are central to the "Small Wars" approach we've discussed here before, as they help to create islands of security by attacking the enemy supply chain. Those bombs B5 posted pictures of will not now be used against us.

TIDES World Press Reports

Fatwa on the Death of Nick Berg:

For those of you who have seen the video, you noticed that the execution was preceeded by a seven minute speech. That speech has been translated and made available by the DARPA TIDES project. It is a "virtual"--that is, a machine--translation, so shades of meaning may be lost. The overall meaning is clear.

One thing to notice is how often the "compromise" in Fallujah is cited as evidence that Allah has given al Qaeda a victory against the most powerful nation on earth. Abu Ghraib is cited as a reason to fight, but al Qaeda has to convince people also that there is the prospect of success in fighting.

Praise to Allah who honored Islam with His support, humiliated the infidels with His power, controlled everything with His Command, and tricked the infidels. Prayers and peace be upon the one that raised the banner of Islam with his sword.

Nation Of Islam,

Great news! The signs of dawn have begun and the winds of victory are blowing. Allah has granted us a great victory, in one of his battles in Fallujah. Thanks to Allah alone.

Nation of Islam,

Is there any excuse left to sit idly by? How can a free Muslim sleep soundly while Islam is being slaughtered, its honor bleeding and the images of shame in the news of the satanic abuse of the Muslim men and women in the prison of Abu-Ghraib. Where is your zeal and where is the anger for the religion of Allah? And where is the jealousy over the honor of the Muslims and where is the revenge for the honor of the Muslim men and women in the prisons of the Crusaders?

As for you, scholars of Islam, it is to Allah that we complain about you. Don't you see that Allah has established the evidence against you by the youth of Islam, who have humiliated the greatest power in history and broken its nose and destroyed its arrogance?

Hasn't the time come for you to learn from them the meaning of reliance on God and to learn from their actions the lessons of sacrifice and forebearance? How long will you remain like the women, knowing no better than to wail, scream and cry?

One scholar appeals to the free people of this world, another begs Kofi Annan, a third seeks help from 'Amr Musa and a fourth calls for peaceful demonstrations as if they did not hear the words of Allah "O Messenger, rally the believers to fight!"

Aren't you fed up with the jihad of conferences and the battles of sermons? Has the time not come for you to lift the sword, which the master of the Messengers was sent with?

And we hope that you will not intervene as usual by denouncing what we do to please the Americans. The Prophet, the master of the merciful has ordered to cut off the heads of some of the prisoners of Badr in patience. He is our example and a good role model.

As for you, Bush dog of the Christians, we promise you things that will displease you. With Allah's assistance, hard days are coming to you. You and your soldiers are going to regret the day that you stepped foot in Iraq and dared to violate the Muslims.

Another message for the collaborator and traitor Pervez Musharraf; we say to you, we can not wait to welcome your soldiers. By Allah, we will target them before the Americans and will avenge the blood of our brothers in Wana and others.

As for you, mothers and wives of the American soldiers, we say to you that we offered the American Administration the chance to exchange this prisoner for some of the prisoners in Abu-Ghraib, but they refused. We say to you, the dignity of the Muslim men and women in the prison of Abu Ghraib and others will be redeemed by blood and souls. You will see nothing from us except corpse after corpse and casket after casket of those slaughtered in this fashion.

"So kill the infidels wherever you see them, take them, sanction them, and await them in every place"

UPDATE: Some of you seem to be worried about this being here. As you can see from the link, DARPA put it in the clear by posting it on the web on an unclass site. There's no security risk: pretty much every enemy in the world already knows what was said because they speak the language, Arabic, in which it was originally broadcast. I don't know why newspapers haven't published the transcript, except that they prefer to tell you what to think rather than letting you read source documents and decide for yourself.

M14 DCM Program To Counterbalance War Costs Petition

A Petition:

Doc Russia gives us a useful petition. It urges the government to sell used military M14s to the American citizen. For those in need of a history lesson on topic, the M14 rifle predated the M16 rifle. It is a thirty-caliber magazine-fed, gas operated shoulder weapon (7.62mm NATO, to be exact), and was the issue weapon when the USMC first deployed to Vietnam.

The military, in classic fashion, bought tons of these things even after the decision to replace it was made. They have been warhoused for thirty years. Doc estimates that, for every ten dollars the gov't charges per rifle, gov't revenues increase by about three million dollars. In addition, you make available at surplus prices a reliable, accurate rifle suitable for the whole range of civilian uses, from hunting to the defense of the home, to the execution--should some future terrorist attack or disaster require them--of militia duties. Although it is antiquated, it is NATO standard, and would be compatible with existing military stockpiles of ammunition.

Battelle Panel Forecasts Top Innovations for the War on Terror

Techies on the side of Right:

There's an article from Battelle on new technical innovations, designed primarily for the GWoT:

1. Forward-Looking Intelligence will anticipate terrorist actions and translate that information into an effective response.
2. Biological and Chemical Sensors that will mimic nature (biomimetics), to enhance detection of bombs, weapons, and chemical and biological threats.
3. Non-Invasive and Non-Destructive Imaging, such as the emerging terahertz (T-rays), will identify the contents of shipping containers, trucks, luggage, and sealed packages.
4. Non-Lethal Directed Energy Weapons Systems, such as the Vehicle Mounted Active Denial System (VMADS), which will be capable of stopping people and machinery, as well as interrupting or remotely triggering improvised explosive devices and land mines.
5. Comprehensive Space, Air, Land, and Sea Monitoring will be integrated with current and new technology to form a more effective global surveillance system.
6. 21st Century Public Diplomacy will help gain a better understanding of opposing cultures and values so that the United States and its allies can develop more effective strategies to prevent terrorism.
7. Electronic Tracking of Money will use new software and tagging technology to follow and effectively shut down key operatives in terrorist organizations.
8. Distributed Forces and an Interlocking Network using "enabling" technologies -- such as advanced mini-computers and communication networks -- will turn military forces into distributed sensors, as well as combatants, and allow them to provide information back to command headquarters.
9. Encouraging Public Awareness and Self-Identification of Terrorists through innovative applications of behavioral science will combat terrorist activity. Examples might include a global "Amber Alert" system to distribute multi-lingual information on known terrorists, and a program like the "America's Most Wanted" to help find terrorists.
10. Neutralizing Explosive Chemicals through a new generation of chemistry will render the compounds contained in common chemicals unusable as bombs.
Yankee ingenuity, I've heard it called, although as a Southerner I'd like to register a gentle protest.

Yahoo! Mail -

Heads Up:

Don't know if I have any Aussie readers anymore, but I used to. A newly discovered terrorist manual has named Australians as the prime choices for terrorists in Indonesia:

The manual, Targeting the Cities, specifies which foreign nationals to target in Muslim countries such as Americans in Saudi Arabia, French in Algiers and Australians in Indonesia. Terrorism expert Clive Williams said the document was significant as it named, for the first time, Australians rather than Westerners in general as the number one target in Indonesia. Mr Williams also said it appeared Australia was increasingly named in al-Qaeda documents as a result of involvement in the war in Iraq.
Stay alert, trust no one, keep your weapons handy. I seem to remember that will be swords, in your case.

BLACKFIVE: Captain Brian Chontosh - Someone You Should Know

A Marine:

Our man BlackFive has a story of a man who fought like an Officer of Marines, and won the Navy Cross:

Brian Chontosh gave the order to attack. He told his driver to floor the humvee directly at the machine gun emplacement that was firing at them. And he had the guy on top with the .50 cal unload on them.

Within moments there were Iraqis slumped across the machine gun and Chontosh was still advancing, ordering his driver now to take the humvee directly into the Iraqi trench that was attacking his Marines. Over into the battlement the humvee went and out the door Brian Chontosh bailed, carrying an M16 and a Beretta and 228 years of Marine Corps pride.

And he ran down the trench.

With its mortars and riflemen, machineguns and grenadiers.

And he killed them all.

He fought with the M16 until he was out of ammo. Then he fought with the Beretta until it was out of ammo. Then he picked up a dead man's AK47 and fought with that until it was out of ammo. Then he picked up another dead man's AK47 and fought with that until it was out of ammo.

At one point he even fired a discarded Iraqi RPG into an enemy cluster, sending attackers flying with its grenade explosion.

When he was done Brian Chontosh had cleared 200 yards of entrenched Iraqis from his platoon's flank. He had killed more than 20 and wounded at least as many more.

One wonders what you have to do for the Medal of Honor these days. Semper Fi, Ooh-rah, out.

Edit Entry | | MOVABLE TYPE

An Ethical Question:

I had a conversation with a colleague today on the prison situation in Iraq. There is an ethical question--or rather, a series of them--raised by the recent revelations, plus the claims by the ICRC that 70-90% of detainees are detained by "mistake."

I'd like to invite the board to comment.

The issue is this: what should we do with these detainees? My colleague asserts that they should simply all be released. Her reasoning is as follows:

1) It is wrong to hold potentially (to say nothing of probably) innocent people without trial, and,
2) We not only have not tried, but have no mechanism for trying, these potentially innocent people, therefore,
3) We should release them all.

The failure to do so, she asserts, is not only a PR disaster, but a moral failure.

I am reminded, however, that there was another PR disaster which preceded this one. In the first months after the fall of Baghdad, the US adopted a hands-off approach to security, attempting to avoid serving as policemen. The consequence was widespread chaos, especially in Baghdad itself: looting, roving gangs, armed robbery, rape, murder, and general brigandage. The roadblock system, out of which very many of these detentions arose, was a direct result of that chaos.

There is, in other words, another set of moral questions aside from the one she raises. We know Saddam released his prisoners and emptied his asylums. We have seen what happens when this particular group of people is loose. On the one hand, "this particular group" probably includes quite a few innocents, who could be released without harm. On the other hand, we have moral duties not only to the prisoners, but to all the Iraqi people--a moral duty not only to sort out innocence from guilt, but also to try to protect the free majority in the meanwhile.

That said, I don't believe a blanket release of the prisoners is a moral, or a feasible, option. The question is, what is the right--the moral--option? I have a few alternatives; I'd like to know what you think of them, and if you have others.

1) The current policy could be maintained. This policy holds that we should wait until Iraqi court systems are erected to adjudicate guilt. Positives: this system respects Iraqi sovereignty. Further, it aids legitimacy of the new government by giving them a task to perform that everyone wants done, such that people are apt to cooperate with it. Further, it aids stability in the long run by putting this government on a footing of independence from the US, as its first acts will include a popular overturn of unpopular American detentions. Negatives: this system requires a great deal of time, during which innocents will remain imprisoned. Not only the courts, but the laws will have to be decided upon before such a review process becomes feasible. This could take months, or potentially, years.

2) The military could begin an administrative process to review cases of detention. Persons held by the Coalition would be examined by a military officer, the report for the reason of their detention likewise examined, and a ruling made over whether or not they should continue to be detained. Due to sovereignty issues, such a review could release someone, but not convict them--those held over would be turned over to the Iraqi courts when they become available. Positives: this would probably be faster than waiting on the courts. It also respects Iraqi sovereignty. Negatives: an administrative process is less likely than the judicial one to arrive at the truth. Reports may be lost, for example, and witnesses (many of the arrests were made by the 3rd ID) rotated out of country. The military may err on the side of releasing people, in which criminals will get free; or they may err on the side of not doing so, such that people who go to trial under the Iraqi courts do so with the stigma of having been reviewed-but-held by the Americans. This could prejudice outcomes.

3) In many parts of the country, Sha'riah courts are operative--Moqtada al-Sadr has been running them, for example. While it would be politically impossible to allow Sha'riah judgments over persons not wishing them, detainees who request a judgment could be referred to a Sha'riah court for a quick ruling. Positives: these courts exist and are functional, and their authority is widely recognized. There could be some positive PR from the respect shown to Islam by the Coalition. Negatives: there is a chance that radical clerics might vote to release actual thugs in order to recruit them. There is a certainty that, once given legitimacy in this fashion, Sha'riah will everafter occupy a place as a parallel system of government in Iraq. Separation of church and state, and the long term stability of the government, would be made more difficult.

I am not including a UN tribunal as an option, largely because the UN has shown that it will cut and run in the face of terrorist bombings, and any such process will have to be made of stronger stuff. A multinational panel isn't impossible, but it would have to address that concern, without running afoul of the concerns mentioned in point (2) above.


PH Kothegr

Ink for SOA:

A new blog has opened at this address, to discuss the idea of recycling used ink jet cartridges, the profits donated to Spirit of America. I myself have a nearly paperless office, and therefore generate few such used cartridges; but for those of you who work in paper-heavy offices, give it a look.

The Command Post - Iraq - Frisbees Over Fallujah

The Command Post:

Via The Command Post, we have a very cheerful image from Fallujah. I dropped by the Post to see what they'd dug up on last night's assassination-by-landmine in Chechnya. They have links to several Chechen news sources, which are worth looking over if you're interested in that theatre of the GWOT.

One of those had this interesting article on the importance of prostitution to Russia's economy:

Prostitution has been playing more and more important role in Russia's import of hard currency. In Istanbul, Turkey alone, let alone other profitable cities of Turkey such as Antalia, Marmaris, Adana, etc., several tens of thousands of Russian prostitutes are registered. And all across Turkey there are over 120 thousand prostitutes, who are only registered officially. With the average earnings of $ 100 a day they all earn at least $ 10 million dollars each day, which is about $ 300 million a month.

Three billion US dollars--this is the summary profit of Russian prostitutes in Turkey per year. And these are only the most conservative estimates! But if we add a number of other lucrative regions such as Europe (with about 200,000 Russian prostitutes), Indochina (40-50 thousand), etc., the annual Russian off-budget profits from prostitution will be no less than $ 10 billion US dollars.

The Islamic news service suggests that this is, of course, a sign of the moral worthlessness of the evil Russian republic. They report rumors that the government may be preparing to set up a cabinet-level ministry to legalize and encourage prostitution. Leaving those rumors aside, though, the sheer size of the industry is surprising. Ten billion US dollars is not small change for a cash-strapped nation, even if much of that money can't be getting out of the localities where it is earned.

Marine Corps News> 22d MEU (SOC) pushes deeper into Afghanistan

Marines Outside Iraq:

The 22d MEU (SOC) has opened a forward operating base--FOB Ripley--to perform security and stability operations in the Oruzgan province. There has been some factional fighting there recently. Oruzgan, one of the central provinces, is close enough to Kabul that instability there is of concern to the Afghan project as a whole, which is why the deployment of 22d MEU is justified.

Congratulations, meanwhile, to the 11th MEU, which won its SOC certification a month ahead of schedule. The 24th MEU is also going through its training cycle, preparing to deploy to Iraq.

Captain's Quarters

Marines in Fallujah:

Captain's Quarters has a piece on the Marines in Fallujah from the LA Times. Meanwhile, there's evidence in this USMC press release that the training at Parris Island doesn't prepare you for everything after all:

The bite of an Iraqi sand fly can debilitate a Marine, sailor or a whole unit, but with proper protection the parasitic infection it causes, leishmaniasis, can be prevented, according to Petty Officer 1st Class David A. Carroll, the preventive medicine chief with I Marine Expeditionary Force.
One bets they're not digging any graves for the little monsters.

Finally, the Chicago Tribune has an article (which I am quoting out of the Pioneer Press to avoid the Tribune's subscription walls--"The Internet treats censorship as damage, and routes around it") on the Iraqi brigade:

Last month, Yasser Harhoush said, he fought with the armed insurgents battling U.S. Marines.

A week ago, the wiry, clean-shaven 28-year-old dusted off his old olive-drab Iraqi military fatigues and joined Fallujah's new army brigade under the command of a former general who served under Saddam Hussein's regime.

Now he carries a shiny black assault rifle as he patrols Jolan, a neighborhood where some of the fiercest fighting took place. He mans military checkpoints. And he says he and his comrades in the 1st Fallujah Brigade are the solution to the monthlong fighting between the insurgents and the Marines.

"We are protecting the city so the coalition forces cannot come here again," Harhoush said.
A mixed result, then, so far. But considering that two weeks ago we were killing his comerades in arms by the hundreds, that's more than you might expect.