Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A VISIT TO BAGHDAD…

Hello, all, this is not Kurtis P. Wheeler but rather LtCol P from Op-For, a.k.a. vmijpp from Rule 308, a.k.a. The Evil Clown. KPW is having some more connectivity problems from the sandbox-- CommO, heal thyself!-- so I said I'd be happy to post this for him...

I had the opportunity to visit Baghdad this past week in order to deliver my history collections from Al Anbar province to the command historian at Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I). My time there was a complete change of pace from my usual, tactical collections orientation. The first culture shock was transitioning from dirt to polished marble, in that the Corps headquarters is located in one of Saddam’s old palaces. Despite the decadent lavishness of the place, I am told that he only stayed there a few times and had similar palaces across the country. The contrast between the gilded luxury of his palace and the utter poverty of Iraqis in many other areas was striking.

During my visit, I was pleased to discover a nearly universal appreciation for Gen Petraeus’ approach as the new commanding general of all coalition forces in Iraq. Everyone I interacted with during my visit to Camp Victory and the International Zone (IZ aka Green Zone) described him as highly engaged and focused on getting the most out of his staff and Iraqi leaders in Baghdad. Despite concerns about his orientation being very Baghdad-centric, his approach may be good news for Al Anbar as help from the capital is essential to the way ahead in the west.

Equally good news for the troops working so hard out in the field are perceptions that the Department of State and other non-DOD agencies may be soon ramping up their efforts. Some in the IZ assess recent comments and actions by Secretary of State Rice to mean that the bar will be raised for our non-DOD counterparts. This may lead to more of them getting out of the IZ and making things happen on the ground; great news for all the Marines and Soldiers who have been double-timing as warrior and diplomats for the past four years.

It was a great opportunity to see Baghdad with my own eyes, but I have to admit, I was actually a little relieved to get back to Al Anbar province… I’m not sure if it is my agricultural heritage or my years in the Marine Corps, but somehow I feel more at home with dirt than polished marble.

KPW's extremely productive tour is drawing down, and he should be oscar mike in the not too distant future. Good citizens of Cazenovia, sturdy yeomen farmers in your fields and tradesmen in your shops, will you give him the welcome home he deserves?? Allow me to close with a stanza that his Ivy League self will appreciate, and Macaulay would certainly abhor...

Shame on the false New Yorker that wallows in the loam,
When Wheeler of Cazenovia is on the march for home!

8 Comments:

At 8:01 AM, Blogger Colin said...

Great post! Hoping for your safe return soon, Kurt.

 
At 9:25 AM, Blogger the artist's wife said...

Whatever you need when you get back to Quantico, we'll get it for you. How about a nice steak dinner?
-Kelly Battles (& Sgt. Battles)

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger Lawrence said...

perceptions that the Department of State and other non-DOD agencies may be soon ramping up their efforts.

I hope so. It has seemed to me that for most of this war the DoS is marching counter to the DoD efforts.

Trying to say this nicely: I think to DoD has been getting a raw deal from peer Departments, and it's time for them to step up and help in a constructive manner.

 
At 8:37 AM, Blogger jerkoff said...

Kurt, the entire Romig family from Cazenovia to Rochester says God-speed and welcome home. Good job (as usual).

 
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