April 7, 2004

A soldier speaks from Iraq

This email is from Joe Roche. He is a soldier serving in Iraq.

...Let me tell you, it is maddening to watch the news. Even now! I've told you this before, but I'll repeat it for clarity -- My unit, the 16th En Bn of the 1st AD, covers Sadr City and the bulk of the most intense areas of downtown, mostly east side of the Tigris. If you look at a map, pretty much everything north from the Palestine & Sheraton hotels north and east. My point is that my battalion is right in the middle of Sadr's challenge.

I would like to tell you a zillion things, but for the moment allow me to tell you that none of this here is a surprise or unplanned. We've been on these very current events for several months.

However, NONE OF THIS is the disaster bad news that you are seeing on CNN and others. Let me give you perhaps one of the best examples. A police station that we covered and set up last summer in Al-Shawla made the news yesterday because, SHOCKINGLY!!! it was attacked by two RPGs. Now, Amy, here is the reality....

Last summer that very police station was HIT 2-3 times every damn night for 20 consecutive days while my battalion and the 2nd LCR were working to secure it. In this current crisis, it wasn't even hit -- the RPGs flew over the bldg, and there were only 2 fired in one night.

Basically what I think is happening reminds me of Peter Breastrup's (sp?) book, The Big Story, about the press coverage of the Tet Offensive. CNN and most others are hold-up in the Palestine and Sheraton hotels (which my unit put the "blast deflectors" and hesco bastions around!) because they can't get around the city w/ us as they'd like. They get their two minutes on tv and make it seem like they are in the middle of Tet Two.

...Ok, I could go on. Just to give you a heads up, when Sadr is captured, there may be an initial explosion like happened after Israel took out Yassin. But it will pass and the most senior Shia clerics like Sistani will re-assert control.

I liken this to going in for an operation to remove a small cancer tumor. It is a painful and disruptive procedure, but it is necessary to make things better.

…getting an accurate picture showing the positive side of things is never more critical than now.

Joe Roche

Posted by Ted at April 7, 2004 10:39 PM