Thursday, February 16, 2006
Victory At Tal Afar - The Mayor of Tal Afar
Be sure to check out:
The US 3rd Armored Cavalry regiment is leaving Tal Afar in a month or so. They are cycling back home to their families after a year in Iraq. They will be replaced by the 1st Brigade of the 1st Armored Division. But the mayor of Tal Afar doesn't want them to go.
"For [the 3rd ACR] to leave is like a surgeon leaving in the middle of an operation...We don't doubt there are many fine officers in the American army, but during these months, Colonel Hickey and I have created a relationship where I know what he will say even before he says it...and he knows what I will say. We have been through hard times together to forge these bonds. You should finish the job and then you can move on. An incomplete solution isn't a good solution."
"Go look in our city. The children run after the American officers. They know their names. These men are heroes in Tal Afar."
When McMaster said the mayor's idea of extending his cavalrymen's 12-month tour in Iraq would "disappoint 5,000 families," the mayor responded:
"I offer my sincere thanks to these American families. I think if they understood what you are doing here they would let you stay."
I think he means it. Here is a PDF of his letter to General Casey asking for the 3rd ACR to have their deployment extended.
Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette has posted a letter from the mayor to the soldiers of to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and their families. Go read the whole thing, but here are some highlights:
"To the Courageous Men and Women of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who have changed the city of Tall’ Afar from a ghost town, in which terrorists spread death and destruction, to a secure city flourishing with life. To the lion-hearts who liberated our city from the grasp of terrorists who were beheading men, women and children in the streets for many months. To those who spread smiles on the faces of our children, and gave us restored hope, through their personal sacrifice and brave fighting, and gave new life to the city after hopelessness darkened our days, and stole our confidence in our ability to reestablish our city.
"I have met many soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment; they are not only courageous men and women, but avenging angels sent by The God Himself to fight the evil of terrorism.
"The leaders of this Regiment; COL McMaster, COL Armstrong, LTC Hickey, LTC Gibson, and LTC Reilly embody courage, strength, vision and wisdom. Officers and soldiers alike bristle with the confidence and character of knights in a bygone era...This military operation was clean, with little collateral damage, despite the ferocity of the enemy. With the skill and precision of surgeons they dealt with the terrorist cancers in the city without causing unnecessary damage.
"God bless this brave Regiment; God bless the families who dedicated these brave men and women. From the bottom of our hearts we thank the families. They have given us something we will never forget."
This is why our soldiers (and those of every nation that has sent them) are doing God's work in Iraq today. These are the Iraqis we have partnered with to build an island of freedom in a sea of misery, ignorance, and oppression. The bloggers who aren't for that or for even trying for that can take a flying leap.
A lot of the coverage of the Mayor's letter focuses on whether the US Army's stategy of rotating troops out of Iraq after a year "hurts the war effort". This strikes me as pathetic grasping for a gray cloud in a big blue sky: anything to blame the Bush administration for screwing things up. Anyone who thinks one year is too quick to rotate troops back home has to be unmarried with no kids. A year is forever in those terms, and anymore should be desperately avoided...that is, unless we want everyone to quit the military.
If you haven't gotten enough of Tal Afar check out:
Commenter Richard Alexander asked "Why isn't this story headline news in our MSM?" Michael Barone, mentioning this story for the online version of US News & World Report, offers an answer:
"Why do the mainstream media ignore such interesting stories? A long time ago, David Broder, in his book Behind the Front Page, explained that reporters tend to look for the story where they think it is. Time is limited, resources are limited, and so like an intelligent hockey player you go to where you think the puck is headed. And where you think the puck is headed depends on how you think the world works, where you think history is headed.
"The mainstream media think we are in a quagmire in Iraq—the same quagmire, they think, as in Vietnam. The letter from the mayor of Tal Afar doesn't fit within this meme, so it doesn't appear."
However, the Washington Post has published an article (02/15/06) on Tal Afar.
In my opinion, Ricks quotes the mayor in a way that is designed to look like an attack on the US military in general. Basically Ricks treats Tal Afar as a fluke and unrepresentative of the course of the war. But at least WaPo is deigning to discuss a success in Iraq at all.