A Soldier’s Update: “Here in Baghdad We are Facing a Serious Sustained Terrorist Offensive”; Soldier Recounts Support for Enemy from Iran and Elsewhere; Describes Fortitude and Dedication of U.S. Servicemen

The National Center for Public Policy Research has posted online an e-mail received from a soldier, Spc. Joe Roche of the 1st Armored Division, who describes from the frontlines the U.S. military’s efforts against terrorist offensives as the June 30 handover of Iraqi sovereignty draws near.

The letter has been published online by The National Center without abridgment. The full text can be found here.

Some excerpts:

“I know you are overwhelmed with news and analysis that tells you how bad things are here and how little we have accomplished. Please bear with me a little because I know the reality is far different… we have won some major victories that are having dramatic impact region-wide. I don’t think most Americans are aware of the seriousness of the threats we confronted and defeated.”

“Sadr’s Mahdi Army was backed by extensive foreign fighters and a huge amount support. Iran’s formidable Al-Quds Army… directly assisted their attacks against us. They trained some 1,200 of Sadr’s fighters at three camps they ran along the Iran-Iraq border… This was backed by what one Iranian defector to us has said was $70 million dollars a month given by Iranian agents to our enemies… The Iranian Embassy distributed some 400 satellite phones in Baghdad to Sadr’s forces, while 2,700 apartments and rooms were rented in Karbala and Najaf as safe houses. Sadr’s ability to influence the Iraqi people was further enhanced by 300 “reporters” and “technicians” working for his newspaper, radio and television networks — persons who are actually members of the Al-Quds Army and Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards. We also faced Chechen snipers in Sadr’s forces who were being paid anywhere from $500 to $10,000, depending on differing accounts, for each American soldier they hit. One sniper hit five soldiers in less then a minute-and-a-half, killing one with a shot in the neck. These mercenaries were sending this money back to Al-Qaeda-allied guerrillas in Chechnya to fight the Russians. We also have constantly faced Lebanese and Palestinian Hezbollah fighters…”

“…The enemy tried constantly to force us into killing innocent civilians. This didn’t work.”

“Specialist Rodriguez… broke his leg some months ago. He was offered the chance to deploy out of Iraq. He chose to stay. When his unit was deployed to Karbala, he cut off his cast. A person told him today that ‘we aren’t paid enough to do that.’ Immediately, he and the other soldiers responded that it isn’t about the money; that we do this for much more important reasons.”

“You saw the most recent bombings that targeted Iraqis trying to join the new police and military services. There is no denying that it is the Iraqi people who are under attack by evil terrorism. Some people get confused when they hear that other Iraqis are participating in these attacks, as if that means all Iraqis are against us. But wasn’t Timothy McVeigh an American, and in fact a combat engineer in the Army just like me? His terrorist attack in Oklahoma City never meant that Americans supported him, so why should the terrorism of a few demented Iraqis working with foreign terrorists mean more?”

“Here in Baghdad we are facing a serious sustained terrorist offensive. This we expected. Just at the point that democracy and self-determination are being advanced for the Iraqis, there will always be these terrorist offensives meant to destroy the progress. We must not cower and apologize for our being here at this time. This is, in fact, the most important time for us to show our resolve. And your soldiers are doing this valiantly… Baghdad will be the focus of the terrorist offensive for a long time. We accept that and are determined to stick it out. You at home need to remain strong in your support and faith in these soldiers.”

“One of those MP soldiers has been wounded in two separate attacks, shrapnel going through each arm. You might think he is full of fear and wants out of here. He was in fact offered the chance to leave Iraq. Instead, he chose to stay. His commanders told him that if he gets hit four times, they’re going to force him to leave. He responded, ‘then I have two more to go.'”

“The enemies we face are trying to wear us down, to demoralize us, and to take advantage of the political season now under way in America. Don’t let them succeed. I think that the weakest point of our whole campaign is actually back in the U.S…”

Spc. Joe Roche serves with the 16th Engineering Battalion of the 1st Armored Division. He and his unit have been deployed in Iraq since the start of the war. An archive of other e-mails he has sent from Iraq can be accessed at http://www.nationalcenter.org/RochePage.html online.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-partisan, conservative/free-market think-tank established in 1982 and located on Capitol Hill. It can be visited at http://www.nationalcenter.org online.

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