Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Bagdad: 'Defining Battle' in Iraq -- A Prayer For Our Troops

As I watched the ABC World News Tonight broadcast this evening I could not help but think of  the scene in the movie King Arthur  (2004) when Arthur must tell his brave Sarmatian knights that even though they have fulfilled their conscripted service in the Roman military they cannot yet go home.    In fact, they must go on one more mission for Rome before they can be free.  And this mission may be the most dangerous that they have ever faced.  As his knights hear this news they immediately know that some of them will never go home.  
As part of it's coverage of the war in Iraq,  ABC news aired footage of Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the commanding general of the multinational forces in Iraq, telling soldiers, that believed that they were on their way home,  that they were not going.  Instead they had to spend four more months in Iraq with the goal of re-taking Baghdad.  And as they asked their questions, some knew that they may never go home. 
All I could think of as I watched that broadcast was that the Bush administration is showing no more feeling for these brave young men and women than Rome did for the Sarmatian knights of David Franzoni's screenplay.  It brought me to tears.  
Earlier today my friend Robert sent me a link to a beautiful and moving tribute to our troops  
This evening, please take a moment to view it and say a prayer for these men and women, so far from home.  
May angels surround them, keep them safe and bring them home.
Semper Fi -- Until We Meet Again
Pamela Lyn
ABC News: Bagdad: 'Defining Battle' in Iraq
Read the entire article at: http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/print?id=2288564

Peter Chiarelli, the commanding general of the multinational forces in Iraq, had the difficult duty today of telling 3,700 soldiers who had been expecting to be heading home that they were going to have to stay in Iraq a while longer.

ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz, continuing her reports from Baghdad, was with the general when he broke the news to the troops.

Chiarelli is charged with carrying out the new, sweeping plan to regain control of Baghdad.

It is considered one of the most critical missions ever undertaken by U.S. forces.

This is so critical, 3,700 soldiers assigned to the Stryker Brigade were told just moments before heading home from a year in Iraq that they would have to remain in the region for up to four more months.

Today, Chiarelli met with some of the soldiers to explain.

"I know what that means to you personally, 'cause you get over a hump and you're looking forward to going home and I know what that does to your families back home.

As General Casey says, 'This will be the defining battle,' so to speak, of this particular campaign.

And that's hard for me to say wearing these boots.

But the fact of the matter is, because of who you are and what you do and what you represent and what you bring to the fight, your speed in moving around in urban areas, your tremendous capability to gain and process intelligence, there's no doubt in my mind that you will make the difference.

And that's what we are going to do throughout the city over time.

"But once we go in and clear an area and make it safe for the people, we're going to roll in on that seventh or eighth day with the kind of things we hope will pull the population of Baghdad to the side of their government -- to give their government legitimacy.

"We are going to go -- we'll roll in with all the quick-win projects, everything from debris removal from houses that have been knocked down, to trash collection, to going around finding point brakes for sewers and for water mains and fixing them.

My number one goal is after you've completed the clearing of an area and continue to secure the area is to roll on in and employ those who are out of work.

To pump some money into the economy, to get the businesses up and running that are in the local area and what we'll see is an expanding cordon around the city until, before too long, we've got the entire city cordoned and secure.

There still will be -- there will be folks that are able to get in, but there will be fewer folks that will be able to get in and do that, number one, because we have the Strykers available and their tremendous maneuverability and capability and number two, because we think by that time we'll have the people of Bagdad on our side.

They'll support the legitimacy of their government and they will help us ensure that we don't revert back to where we are today.



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