07 Apr 2004 “My Battalion is Right in the Middle of Sadr’s Challenge” — An E-Mail from Joe Roche
Joe Roche’s essay giving us a soldier’s view of what is going on in Iraq has now been run by several newspapers, cited on the RushLimbaugh.com main page (listed as “Great Letter to the Editor” in the “stack of stuff”), on the front page of Lucianne.com yesterday, on some blogs (for example, Blackfive), and elsewhere.
There’s also an amusing discussion on Free Republic as to whether Joe is real and if he has a Master’s Degree. I told Joe via e-mail about the Free Republic debate and he managed to see it (it is not easy for him to view things online because he has to rely on a weak satellite connection for his Internet access). He got quite a kick out of the thread there and has a message for the Freepers: yes, he is real, and no, he does not have a Master’s Degree.
But on to the more important issue — Joe’s comments on what is going on in Iraq right now. An excerpt from his e-mail of this morning, U.S. Eastern time:
…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.