Saturday, August 11, 2007

Incognito to 180-Out

I'm actually sitting here in front of the 'post entry' screen. It's felt like such a long time, and I have been thwarted in so many ways. I'm lucky I still remembered how to log in...

I'll start by laying out a small littany of excuses for my most inexcusable absence: I no longer have internet access, which means a trek down to the internet hut and waiting for a terminal if I want to check email or post an entry. For one reason or another, every time I have had a chance to come down here, it's either been shut down for service, shut down for maintenance, or just a general sense of desert apathy.

I have also been consumed with earning a warfare designation since June. Navy personnel attached to Marine Corps units have the option to follow Marine Corps regulations if they so choose and stand before a panel of Marine Corps officers to show their knowledge of doctrine, tactics, history, organization, weapons, tactics, ect. A few of the officers and all of the enlisted team members have been dedicated to this task for months, and included living, eating, and breathing Marine Corps. The officer board was held recently (we all passed, somehow) and our enlisted board will be held by the Command Master Chief within the next few days.

But, by far, the most noteworthy information I have to share is the current state of Ramadi's security. A stark contrast to what we saw in February when we arrived in Anbar, Ramadi is now one of the top success stories coming out of Iraq in the past six months. Iraqi Police have been working hand in hand with our units in and around the surrounding Province, and attacks have been virtually non-existent for weeks on end. The media has also keenly picked up on our successes, and have been reporting that Ramadi, and the cooperation and open exchange of information with local Sheiks we have enjoyed, should be the model considered for transforming the unstable, hold-out Provinces left in the Country.
Next month, our leadership will be answering some tough and pointed questions about the authorized surge force that started arriving in February with our surgical team. A portion of the surge is here in Ramadi and the surrounding Anbar region. And with this surge, we have seen dramatic change and success. However, general consensus is that even though the surge certainly had some positive influence to the security of Ramadi, most of the credit goes to the Anbar Awakening and local clans and Sheiks aligning with us against Al Quaida and other insurgent elements.
Sure, the extra Marine units didn't hurt, but the influence of having 20,000 local Iraqi men in uniform patrolling the streets, manning all checkpoints, and setting up curfew and roadblocks in and around the entire city warped us almost instantly into an atmosphere of calm.

In five short weeks, the replacement surgical team will be here. After unit turn-over, we will begin the journey back to Kuwait. Destination: home. The change here in Ramadi, and indeed all of Anbar over the past seven months has been amazing. Totally unexpected, but worth witnessing many times over: almost complete security from utter chaos. 180-out.


Mainer said...

WELCOME BACK!! I've missed your posts and was very excited to see a notice of an update in my email. :-) I received your note and sent out a package with your mags in it the same day. :-) I hope you can keep us updated before you head out, but if not- safe travels home!

Anonymous said...

Good news about Anbar province. It must be gratifying after all of the blood sweat and tears. Again, congratulations on a job well done. Have a safe trip home.

David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 08/12/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention updated throughout the day…so check back often. This is a weekend edition so updates are as time and family permits.

rangeragainstwar said...

Hi Carl,

Perusing Slate, and you were still there, so I now have your blog.

You have an engaging style. I will continue to visit. Perhaps you will write more upon your return.

Be well, and give Mr. Hedgehog a pat from me,


PJH said...

Thanks for the post, glad things are going well.

Your report on the conditions in Anbar carries a lot of weight with me, as the handoff to Iraqi security has been worrying me of late.

Dad said...

Dear Son,
As I read your entry, tears of joy welled in my eyes and a smile came to my face.

Bag Blog said...

The mother in me worries when you don't blog. It was really nice to see a couple of posts and read about Ramadi.

sa karin in tx said...

All who serve are seeing a page of history written before their eyes!
Always good to hear the voice from the desert :)
Be safe and God Bless.