...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

March 09, 2005

New Milblog Discovery

i'm a big milblog fan. i have my favorites: Blackfive of course, and fellow Munuvians Trying to Grok (Go share Sarah's joy at her husband's safe return. i'm so happy for them.) and SlagleRock. Also some newer faves like Armor Geddon (who's an amazing diarist) and Risawn.

Now check out a new milblogger, Danjel, who's in Iraq right now. The site is appropriately named 365 and a Wakeup, which is a phrase that i believe dates back to the Vietnam War. (But you already knew that.)

i thought this bit from a February post called "The Ride North" was interesting:

Southern Iraq completely surprised me if for no other reason then the people. All along our route of march children would come running up to the vehicles waving and laughing. They were poorly dressed, and several of them alternated between waving and pointing to their mouth to ask for food. As heartwrenching as it was to ignore their request we were under strict orders not to throw food out so we responded with smiles and waves of our own. I questioned the order later and found that several children had been run over because they would run in front of a vehicle to get food. It was a far cry from what we had been briefed we would see and I resolved to do my level best to not break the trust our nation had made with the people of Iraq. I wish I could have taken a film crew with me on that leg of the trip, it would go a long way towards dispelling the skewed viewpoints that America sees on the news.
And don't miss Danjel's description of a VBIED going off, and his explanation of why checkpoints have become necessary in the first place:
There are mornings where the steady throb of traffic pulses through the streets like a metal river and others where the hum of people and commerce is torn apart by the earsplitting roar of a VBIED. These wheeled bombs exist for the sole purpose of rending equipment and shredding flesh with impunity. In their wake they leave physical scars on the survivors and mental scars on the community.

Rather then let the insurgents continue to inflict casualties whenever and wherever they want there are checkpoints scattered across Baghdad’s highways to intercept VBIEDs. In most cases these checkpoints are actually two distinct checkpoints, the first manned by the Iraqi Army and the second manned by US soldiers. The Iraqis have shown their mettle in the last few weeks and they have absorbed the bulk of the casualties when VBIEDs attempt to hit a checkpoint. But they aren’t perfect, and so the US troops manning the second checkpoint are always at the ready.

The most important thing to understand about US checkpoints is that soldiers manning them have specific ramp up procedures when they feel threatened. Soldiers don’t just blithely take aim at traffic and fill the air with lead. The procedure drilled into every soldier’s head is to meet the threat with an increasingly forceful response. As the threat escalates so too does the response.

Which brings us back to the threat of VBIEDs. The only warning of a VBIED is a vehicle attempting to rapidly close with the checkpoint – which is exactly what Giuliana Sgrena’s vehicle did. Put yourself in the boots of the soldier manning that checkpoint. You see a vehicle approaching that seems to be gaining speed as it nears. You signal the driver to stop but the car plummets on. You fire a warning shot, and then another into the engine block but the car doesn’t slow. What would you do? Don’t just give a cursory response – think about it for a moment. If you are at work imagine having your life, and the fate of all your coworkers tied to your decision. Would you gamble all those lives by giving the vehicle the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you would, but I’d be willing to bet after seeing the bloody wake of a VBIED you would have pulled the trigger too.

That's an excellent way to put the incident in perspective.

Posted by annika, Mar. 9, 2005 |
Rubric: On The Blogosphere



Posted by: JD on Mar. 9, 2005

Annika, you're a blogging fool! I just came from 365 and a wake up and have to say, you have a great blog here!

Posted by: Sean on Mar. 10, 2005