Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Blogs offer view of soldiers' lives

By Ellen Simon
The Associated Press

Spc. Colby Buzzell's squad was on a mission in a poor neighborhood in Mosul when two Iraqi boys ran up carrying old artillery shells. "Give me dollar!" they said.

Another came carrying bullets and demanding money.

"Then, all of a sudden, this really skinny Iraqi kid comes running up to us with a ... HAND GRENADE in his hand," Buzzell wrote on his war blog. " 'Drop the ... hand grenade! Drop it now!' We all started yelling. The little kid, still with this proud smile on his face that said, 'Look what I just found' just dropped the grenade on the ground, and walked over to my squad leader and said, 'Give me money!' "

The grenade didn't go off.

The squad leader explained to his men that an Army division that had been in the area earlier had paid children for weapons or unexploded ordnance.

For Buzzell, it was grist for his online war diary, cbftw.blogspot.com, whose fans range from soccer moms and truck drivers to punk band leader Jello Biafra.

Before the Internet traffic counter dropped off the site, Buzzell said, he was getting 5,000 hits a day.

Iraq war blogs, or Web diaries, are as varied as the soldiers who write them. Some sites feature practical news, pictures and advice. Some are overtly political, with more slanting to the right than the left. Some question the war, and some cheer it.

Buzzell and a handful of others write unvarnished war reporting. A few of these blogs have been shut down. Buzzell, an infantryman in an Army Stryker brigade, says he was banned from missions for five days because of the blog and has stopped adding narrative entries.

For the folks back home, the soldier blogs offer details of war that don't make it into most news dispatches: The smell of rotten milk lingering in a poor neighborhood. The shepherd boys standing at the foot of a guard tower yelling requests for toothbrushes and sweets. The giant camel spiders. The tedium of long walks to get anything from a shower to a meal. A burning oil refinery a hundred miles away blocking the sun. A terrifying night raid surprised by armed enemies dressed in black.

On the blogs, soldiers complain, commiserate and celebrate their victories and ingenuity.

What do you do if the electricity goes out while you're sitting in the latrine, leaving you in complete darkness with a dead flashlight? Blog answer: Reach into your cargo pocket and crack open a Chemlight.

The blogs offer more than war stories. They offer images from Iraq not seen elsewhere, like a sign in an office with no air conditioning: "We're in the desert. The desert is hot. Now quit your whining."

Sean Dustman, a 32-year-old Navy corpsman from Prescott, Ariz., who worked alongside the Marines in Iraq, started writing his blog, docinthebox.blogspot.com, after reading other war blogs.

"I was entranced with their stories," said Dustman, who recently returned from six months in Iraq. "This was where the real news that mattered to me was coming from, unlike what you saw through the regular media. Reading them [the blogs] helped me and my Marines prepare for the trip."
A recurring theme is the flashes of military absurdity, such as the hurried martial arts training some Marines undergo before they leave Iraq.

The Pentagon has "no specific guidelines on blogging per se," said Cheryl Irwin, a Defense Department spokeswoman. "Generally, they can do it if they are writing their blogs not on government time and not on a government computer.
Thursday, September 23, 2004


Here is an e-mail I recieved from legendary DEAD KENNEDYS frontman, and political activist Jello Biafra.

Hey Colby,
Thanks a lot for alerting us about what's going on with you. Thanks also for the respect. Believe me, it's mutual. You have a lot of guts. No pun intended, but stick to your guns. Don't believe the hype - we are the real patriots here, not the unelected gangsters and scam artists who started this war. Real patriots care enough about our country - and the world - to speak up, stand up and fight backwhen the government breaks the law, lies, steals and gets innocent people killed. Real patriots do their buddies and the people back home a huge favor when they bypass our censored corporate media and become the media themselves - telling us from a real person perspective what war and agrunt's life are really like. History is important. As long as people in the field speak up we have a chance of preserving the truth. Otherwise it's the bullshit gospel according to Fox News and The Bush-Croft regime and people'sown memory being erased even more than we've got now. To all the troops: I and Alternative Tentacles support you. We support you by saying, "Bring The Troops Home!" as loud and as often as we can.
Stay Safe
Don't Give Up,
Saturday, September 11, 2004

Article In Defence Today Magazine

Soldier Blog Shutdown? Stryker Diarist Stops Posting
By Nathan Hodge
Sometimes success can spoil a good thing.

A soldier with the Stryker brigade in Iraq who posted riveting online accounts of combat in Iraq has apparently made his last post, abruptly closing a Website that drew an untold number of readers.

CBFTW—the pseudonym of the online diarist, an enlisted soldier with the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Stryker Brigade Combat Team—won a following for his frank, profane and often funny take on the life of a soldier in Iraq. He chronicled the tedium of a lengthy deployment and the occasional moments of sheer terror, including a vicious, but largely unpublicized, firefight the Fort Lewis-based unit was involved in earlier this month.

His intense, first-person account of that battle was quoted extensively in an article by Tacoma, Wash., News Tribune reporter Michael Gilbert, who traveled with the Stryker Brigade to Iraq and has closely followed their deployment. More recently, CBFTW was profiled in a story on NPR's "Day to Day" radio program.

Visitors to CBFTW's Weblog (cbftw.blogspot.com), however, can now find only one entry, posted Friday, that quotes Johnny Rotten, front man for the legendary punk act the Sex Pistols: "Ever Get the Feeling You've Been Cheated?"
The caption on the main page (posted over a black-and-white image of of Picasso's Guernica) reads: "OVER AND OUT."

In recent posts, CBFTW had hinted that he was under threat of reprimand from his superiors; the NPR story noted that he had been lectured by his commanders for possible violations of operational security, or OPSEC. A spokesman for CBFTW's unit told NPR his blog entries would be reviewed by a platoon sergeant and superior officer before they were posted.

Before the NPR story, CBFTW posted a note that cryptically advised readers to "stay tuned," followed with the full text of the First Amendment ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ...").

If his commanders indeed have ordered him to shut down his blog, it won't be the first time. In October 2002, Defense Week reported on a Website run by soldiers of a medical logistics battalion stationed in Afghanistan. They launched the blog to keep friends and family informed, but enthusiastic strangers linked to the site; when the members of the battalion were swamped with fan mail, they decided to shut the site down.

Blogs are, in some way, a defining cultural phenomenon of the war in Iraq, much as psychedelic music provided the soundtrack to the Vietnam War. There are dozens of Iraq blogs, posted by ordinary Iraqis, civilian administrators living in the Green Zone, rear-echelon soldiers and combat infantrymen. One Iraqi blogger, known by the nom de plume Salam Pax, even saw his Web diary published as a book, The Baghdad Blog.

Families of deployed soldiers maintain their own informal support networks through blogs, and soldiers—who have access to Internet cafes—kill the boredom of deployment by posting their own thoughts online.

Some blogs are patriotic, others are personal rants. CBFTW—a native of the San Francisco Bay Area who listed his interests, variously, as "drinking, skateboarding, reading, [and] 7.62 fully automatic weapons" along with punk rock and barroom poet Charles Bukowski—favored the rant, his long posts unencumbered by spelling and standard punctuation. He was also an avid reader, peppering his posts with literary allusions as well as references to punk and metal classics (the title of his blog—"My War"—comes from a Black Flag song). In some respects, CBFTW's irreverent blog echoed the spirit of Dave Rabbit, an enlisted man who ran a pirate radio in South Vietnam called Radio First Termer.

CBFTW is not the only military blogger who has won notoriety. Army Capt. Eric Magnell, an Army lawyer in Iraq, also was profiled in the NPR story. On Thursday, he posted a few thoughts on the interview, as well as on the case of CBFTW, on his blog (daggerjag.blogspot.com).

It's worth quoting at length:
"On Monday I spoke with Eric Niiler from NPR about my blog and how the army is treating bloggers. ... I think the story perfectly illustrates one of the reasons why soldiers may want to tell their story on their own blog rather than leaving it to the mainstream media. I don't think that Eric was misleading or twisted our words but he definitely wanted to give the impression that soldiers are being persecuted by their leaders over blogs and that their free speech rights are being infringed by a command that doesn't want their stories told. I would disagree with this thesis on several grounds.

"As I said in the story, the information environment has changed so much and is so different than in any previous war or conflict. Here in Iraq we have access to so much new communications capabilities it really is mind-boggling when you think about it. When my father was in Vietnam he wrote letters and mailed home cassettes or reel-to-reel tapes to keep in touch with my mom and his family. Even thirteen years ago, during Desert Storm, the soldiers still wrote letters and had very, very few opportunities to call their families in the States. With these new capabilities come some very real concerns over operational security. ... We know that our enemies are computer `savvy' and may have the ability to intercept e-mails or other communications over the Internet. Every soldier has to be aware and concerned about saying or writing anything that could potentially give our enemies information. Even potentially innocent statements which, by themselves, mean nothing can provide intelligence for our opponents when matched with other innocuous open source information."

Magnell, however, puts in a word of support for CBFTW:
"I've read SPC Buzzell's blog and, while I'm not a security manager, I haven't seen anything that clearly is prohibited but I can understand his chain of command's concerns."

The Army, Magnell concludes, "isn't a sinister organization looking to trample invidivual freedoms but, as any large bureaucracy, it can be slow to react to new situations and changes in the environment."

An e-mail to CBFTW went unanswered.
Monday, September 06, 2004


The View From on the Ground
With American bloggers reporting on life in Iraq, the war is only a mouse click away

"Other wars produced poetry and novels and memoirs. But the war in Iraq has brought a new kind of literature. In real time, on the Internet, officers and enlisted men and women are chronicling the war on weblogs — better known as blogs. Two weeks ago, one of the most popular war bloggers, a soldier stationed near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul who identified himself only as CBFTW, was disciplined by the Army for violating "operational security." His gritty postings described both the terror and boredom of war. Last week, he removed them from his "My War" website. But the journals of many other military bloggers remain on the Web. Here are edited excerpts from the blogs of Americans serving with the U.S. military in Iraq."
Friday, August 27, 2004

Army Blogger's Tales Attract Censors' Eyes

September 9, 2004; Page B1

Army specialist Colby Buzzell figured he'd cap his yearlong deployment to Iraq by mustering out of the service this winter and easing into a new career. "I was thinking about maybe driving a cab," he says.
But that was before he launched My War, an Internet-based chronicle of his life as an infantry soldier in Mosul, where he mans a gun in a Stryker brigade. Written under the nom de guerre of CBFTW (Colby Buzzell F -- This War), the blog is a mixture of gripping accounts of caffeine-driven battle maneuvers and amusing vignettes from the dusty grind of life in Iraq's third-largest city.
CBFTW's writings are a hit in the blogosphere, with his Web page logging 10,000 hits on a recent day.
But Spc. Buzzell's writing aspirations may prove his undoing as a professional soldier. Recently, shortly after his commanders discovered My War on the Web, Spc. Buzzell found himself banned from patrols and confined to base. His commanders say Spc. Buzzell may have breached operational security with his writings. "My War" went idle as he pondered the consequences of pursuing his craft while slogging through five nights of radio guard duty, a listless detail for an infantryman. More recently, the pages again went blank, as he chafed under a prepublication vetting regime imposed by his command.
Army Spc. Colby Buzzell, a.k.a. CBFTW on his Web log, flew under military radar -- until recently.
Such prepublication censorship is rare in the modern military: Soldiers' missives haven't been routinely expurgated since World War II and the days of "Loose Lips Sink Ships." The Pentagon doesn't prescreen soldiers' communications, whether print or electronic, assigning the job of policing soldier-journalists to commanders in the field. There are restrictions against divulging references to specific troop locations, patrol schedules or anything that might help the enemy predict how U.S. troops might react to an attack. But commanders in Iraq rely on the honor system and soldiers' common sense to enforce restrictions. Infractions are in the eye of the beholder, difficult to define but easy to recognize in practice.
Censorship that does occur usually comes after the fact. Earlier this year, Army investigators were forced to go stateside to track down reams of snapshots of Iraqi prisoner abuse that Abu Ghraib guards disseminated by e-mail or sent home on computer disk. In July, an Army captain was reassigned and stripped of his leave home after writing an opinion piece published in the Washington Post.
Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman, says blogs, like other forms of communication, are tolerated so long as they don't violate operational or informational security. "We treat them the same way we would if they were writing a letter or speaking to a reporter: It's just information," he says. "If a guy is giving up secrets, it doesn't make much difference whether he's posting it on a blog or shouting it from the rooftop of a building."
Still, many bloggers, some operating in obscure corners of Iraq where traditional reporters are scarce, appear to be flying under the Pentagon's radar. There's "American Soldier," a diary compiled by an Army reservist currently preparing for his second call-up, who describes himself in an e-mail as "p -- ed, frustrated, happy and sad at the same time." A site called "Boots on the Ground" is heavy on detail about U.S. armaments. "Just Another Soldier," a National Guardsman's account, is available only by e-mail request, the author says, after his command, citing security concerns, asked him to dismantle the site.
In the age of Web cams, instant messaging and Internet telephone service, widespread censorship simply isn't possible, military officials say. "I don't see how you could censor with the instantaneous flow of information we have now," says one Army officer, "unless you're standing over someone's shoulder while they're typing. And who's got time to do that when the bullets are flying?"
Security violations are rare, says Spc. Buzzell's top commander, Brig. Gen. Carter Ham. "The commander does have a responsibility to ensure no inappropriate information is released," Gen. Ham says in an e-mail, noting that among the 8,000 men under him, only Spc. Buzzell has come under scrutiny. "While [operational security] is a very real everyday concern for us, I do not see potential violations as widespread," he says.
Spc. Buzzell's blog, riddled with misspellings and larded with obscenities, conveys the kind of raw honesty that prompts military mothers to write weepy e-mails by the score. Soldiers have told Spc. Buzzell they sometimes strip out the curse words and send his writings home as their own.
He credits as his inspiration the author Hunter S. Thompson, whose first-person articles and books about politics and drug use were popular in the 1970s. But My War probably is more reminiscent of Michael Herr's "Dispatches," a bleak, first-person account of the Vietnam War widely regarded as one of the best examples of military journalism. Mr. Herr's book took years to arrive on the mass market, but Spc. Buzzell's accounts offer near-instantaneous immediacy. And as his case demonstrates, a casual detail -- that his unit had run low on water during a maneuver, for instance -- can easily get a soldier into trouble.
The blog entry at the root of Spc. Buzzell's difficulties was an Aug. 4 piece called "Men in Black." Opening with a bland, four-paragraph squib about a Mosul firefight that he snatched from CNN's Web site, Spc. Buzzell spins a riveting account of a nasty, hours-long firefight with scores of black-clad snipers. It begins with an enemy mortar attack and a testosterone-driven scramble to arms. "People were hooting and hollering, yelling their war cries and doing the Indian yell thing as they drove off and locked and loaded their weapons," he writes. He describes a harrowing ambush. "Bullets were pinging off our armor all over our vehicle, and you could hear multiple RPG's [rocket-propelled grenades] being fired and flying through the air and impacting all around us," he writes. "I've never felt fear like this. I was like, this is it, I'm going to die."
Spc. Buzzell's account caught the attention of the News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash., the newspaper that covers Spc. Buzzell's home base of Fort Lewis. Noting that the attack got scant coverage by bigger media, the local paper drew heavily from Spc. Buzzell's anonymous account. The Pentagon's internal clip service picked up the News Tribune story and it landed in the hands of commanders in Iraq.
Within hours, Lt. Col. Buck James, the battalion commander, ordered Spc. Buzzell to his office. Spc. Buzzell quickly shaved and grabbed fresh fatigues to see the colonel he had never met. As he later recounted on his blog, he arrived to find Col. James leafing through a massive printout of his Web writings, which someone had marked up with a yellow pen. The colonel, whom Spc. Buzzell described as a cross between George Patton and Vince Lombardi, opened with a question: " 'Youre [sic] a big Hunter S Thompson Fan, arnt [sic] you?'"
Spc. Buzzell says he was called to account for two details: the observation that his unit ran low on water during the hours-long standoff and a description of the steps he took to get more ammunition as the firefight waxed on. Both were excised from his online archives.
In an e-mail exchange, Col. James says the Army was concerned about a possible security breach on Spc. Buzzell's blog, but had no desire to muzzle him. "I counseled SPC Buzzell along with his Platoon Sergeant on these points and ensured that he understood that anything he was unsure about should be reviewed by his chain of command," Col. James says. Spc. Buzzell has "performed gallantly" as a soldier, he says.
But Spc. Buzzell's trouble with the command continued. A few days later, after leaving a mocking message on his blog to the military intelligence officers he now assumed were reading along, Spc. Buzzell was ordered confined to camp. He was returned to regular duty and posted a few more times, but he recently removed all of his archives from the site, and new postings are now sporadic. He says it just isn't as fun to write, now that he has to submit everything to his platoon sergeant prior to publication. "I was never edited before," he says. "Now I am."
Spc. Buzzell said he hasn't decided whether to permanently stop posting. He says he received scores of e-mails when "My War" went silent and even got some subtle nudges from his command to continue. Indeed, Col. James seems nostalgic for Internet accounts of his men. "To be candid, I believe the widespread popularity of his writing came as a bit of a shock to him and he was uncomfortable with the attention," Col. James said in an e-mail. "Personally, I think he is a talented writer and a gifted storyteller and should pursue his talent."
Wednesday, August 25, 2004


NPR (National Public Radio) featured this website on its Day To Day show. Here is a link to the article which has a link to the radio show: http://www.npr.org/features/feature.php?wfId=3867981

Soldiers' Iraq Blogs Face Military Scrutiny

Day to Day, August 24, 2004 · Military officials are cracking down on blogs written by soldiers and Marines in Iraq, saying some of them reveal sensitive information. Critics say it's an attempt to suppress unflattering truths about the U.S. occupation. NPR's Eric Niiler reports.

A blogger with the pen name CBFTW, stationed near Mosul with the First Battallion, 23rd Regiment, says he began his My War Web log to help combat boredom. "I'm just writing about my experiences," the soldier says. "I'm pretty much putting my diary on the Internet -- that's all it is."

CBFTW says he has avoided describing sensitive information, such as U.S. weapons capabilities, weaknesses and scheduling. But earlier this month, CBFTW was lectured by commanders about violating operational security. Two other popular blogs run by soldiers have been shut down recently.

Lt. Col. Paul Hastings, a spokesman for unit CBFTW belongs to, said the soldier's blog now has to be reviewed by his platoon sergeant and a superior officer. In an e-mail to NPR, Hastings said the popularity of blogging has increased the chance that soldiers may inadvertently give away information to Internet-savvy enemies.

But some critics worry that military officials are trying to muffle dissent from troops in the field. "I really think it has much less to do with operational security and classified secrets and more to do with American politics and how the war is seen by a public that is getting increasingly shaky about the overall venture," says Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Sunday, August 22, 2004


Thursday, August 19, 2004

Stay Tuned

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

story developing...
Sunday, August 15, 2004

Mad Mortar-men Goose Chase

Saturday, August 14, 2004

The New Yorker

by Lauren Collins
The New Yorker June 29, 2009

IIn the winter of 2004, Jonathan Pieslak, a composer and an associate professor of music at City College, was researching a paper on heavy metal when he stumbled on a Web site devoted to the death-metal band Slayer. (Their songs include “The Antichrist,” “Mandatory Suicide,” and one, written from the perspective of a terrorist, called “Jihad”: “Fuck your God erase his name /A lady weeps insane with sorrow.”) On the site, a fan had written that, during the Gulf War, the band received forty per cent of its fan mail from soldiers in the Middle East. The claim turned out to be an exaggeration, but Pieslak became interested. In April, Indiana University Press published his book “Sound Targets: American Soldiers and Music in the Iraq War,” which examines the role of music in military recruiting, combat, interrogations, and morale, and explains many things about Slayer’s appeal.

First of all: listening to heavy metal, with its double-pedal bass drums and tremolo-style guitars, Pieslak writes, is a good way to prepare mentally for a mission, because it “sounds considerably like the consistent discharge of bullets fired from an automatic gun.” Colby Buzzell, an M240 Bravo machine gunner who did a yearlong tour in Iraq, told Pieslak, “I’d listen to Slayer to get all into it.” Once, Buzzell said, a guy on his patrol rigged up his MP3 player to a Humvee, and the patrol blasted theme songs from old movies—a modern-day drum-and-fife brigade. He said, “Sometimes your motivation is down and you’re like, ‘I don’t want to play soldier today.’ . . . But then you hear ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’ theme song and you’re like, ‘Fuck yeah, hell yeah, I’ll go out on a mission today.’ ” For some in the Fourth Infantry Division, Lil Jon’s “I Don’t Give a Fuck” was an anthem—soldiers called it their “getting crunked” song, and they would chant its refrain until they were ready to leave the base.

At the Borders store in the Time Warner Center on a recent afternoon, Pieslak said that in another unit “Metallica was the group of choice. Then, when they got to Falluja, it switched to ‘Go to Sleep,’ by Eminem: ‘Die, motherfucker, die! / Unh, time’s up, bitch, close ya eyes.’ ” Pieslak, wearing Pumas, a T-shirt, and camouflage cargo shorts (no significance—just “what was clean”), had agreed to poke around the music section. Passing Classic Crooners, New Age, and Jazz (“You’re probably not going to see too many guys over there with George Winston CDs,” he said), he led the way to Rock, where he riffled through the “D”s. Dropkick Murphys. Drowning Pool. “Their song ‘Bodies’ is interesting,” he said, pulling out a CD that featured a woman holding a hand across her face, the word “SINNER” written across her knuckles. “It kept popping up.” Soldiers would use it both to get pumped up for battle and “to induce irritation and frustration among detainees.” (The detainees, apparently, preferred ’N Sync and Michael Jackson.) Pieslak said that a group of soldiers had made a music video in which they set their own footage and photographs to the song. They called it “Taliban Bodies.” A pair of Arkansas National Guardsmen, Pieslak writes, recorded an album in Iraq. One track, with apologies to Jimmy Buffett, was called “Mortaritaville”: “Wasted away again in Baghdad / One weekend a month, yeah, my ass / I’d like to kick my recruiter straight square in the teeth / But I know, ‘It’s my own damn fault.’ ”

Music, Pieslak writes, has always been a part of the military experience, from training cadences (“Soldier, Soldier Have You Heard”) to battle cries (Joshua’s trumpets, “Hakkaa päälle”) and “thunder runs,” in which troops descend in force upon a given area (in Baghdad, one team blasted Wagner, in homage to “Apocalypse Now”). In the book’s fourth chapter, “Music as a Psychological Tactic,” Pieslak examines a “sonic battle” between American troops—who blasted “Welcome to the Jungle,” by Guns N’ Roses, and “Hell’s Bells,” by AC/DC—and Iraqi mullahs, who tried to drown out the metal with chants of “Allahu Akbar” and Arabic music. Standing near the “J”s, he said, “Plato thought that different musical scales could have different effects on the human condition. We tend to have a misconception about music—that it is this thing that delights the senses, elevates the spirit. While I like that idea, it is only part of what music has been.” ♦

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2009/06/29/090629ta_talk_collins?printable=true#ixzz0X8LgppMq
Friday, August 13, 2004


The News Tribune

It didn't get much media coverage, but troops from the Fort Lewis-based Stryker brigade say fighting last Wednesday in Mosul was the heaviest and most sustained combat they've seen in their nine months in Iraq.
Insurgents with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47s and improvised bombs fought a series of coordinated, running attacks against Stryker and Iraqi troops. One estimate put the number of attackers at 30 to 40, another at more than 100.
Either way, U.S. and Iraqi forces killed an undetermined number of them - the official estimate is at least a dozen - while suffering no losses themselves.
About a dozen Stryker troops were wounded; all but two returned to duty, said Lt. Col. Kevin Hyneman, the brigade's deputy commander.
The two more seriously wounded include Lt. Damon Armeni, 25, of Tacoma, a Wilson High School and Pacific Lutheran University graduate, who is reported in critical condition and is awaiting surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for shrapnel wounds, his family said Monday. There was no information available Monday about the other wounded soldier.
A soldier in Armeni's company - Blackhawk Company of the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment - said the lieutenant was injured by a rocket-propelled grenade blast after maneuvering his Stryker in to protect five infantrymen under fire.
"Needless to say, we are proud of our son's actions but hurt so very much for what he is going through, praying that he'll pull through," said his father, Dan Armeni.
In an interview Monday, Hyneman said the fighting took place on the east and west sides of the Tigris River, which bisects the city, and at a hotel near the northernmost of the city's five major bridges. The insurgents also attacked a hospital and a power plant, and ambushed Stryker convoys as they rolled past multistory buildings on the way to the fight, according to other sources.
Insurgents in Mosul typically attack Iraqi authorities and American troops with car bombs, sporadic mortar fire into U.S. camps and small-scale ambushes with small arms and RPGs.
"Anti-Iraqi forces tried a pretty widespread offensive action, uncharacteristically," Hyneman said. "I think they were surprised by how the Iraqi National Guard and the coalition fought together as a team."
The official version as reported that evening in a news release by Task Force Olympia, the Fort Lewis-based command for northern Iraq, said "multinational forces served in a supporting role, providing additional support where and when the Iraqi leaders involved in the attacks requested it."
Hyneman and the task force spokesman, Lt. Col. Paul Hastings, said the fighting drew in virtually all the troops in the brigade's two infantry battalions in Mosul, as well as elements from other brigade units in the city.
One soldier described what it was like on his Web log on the Internet. The soldier, who identifies himself as CBFTW, is attracting readers with his absorbing, personal account of Army life in Mosul.
"We were driving there on that main street, when all of the sudden all hell came down all around on us, all these guys wearing all black ... a couple dozen on each side of the street, on rooftops, alleys, edge of buildings, out of windows, everywhere just came out of ... nowhere and started firing RPGs and AK-47s at us," he wrote.
CBFTW described how a bullet passed in one side of his buddy's helmet and out the other without hitting his buddy - he suffered a concussion, is all.
"Bullets were pinging off our armor all over our vehicle, and you could hear multiple RPGs being fired and flying through the air and impacting all around us. All sorts of crazy insane Hollywood explosions ... going on all around us," he wrote. "I've never felt fear like this. I was like, this is it, I'm going to die. I cannot put into words how scared I was."
"My platoon was stuck right smack dab in the middle of the ambush and we were in the kill zone," CBFTW wrote. "We shot our way out of it and drove right through the ambush."
Hyneman said about a dozen Strykers were damaged, mostly the tires and some sections of slat armor that protects the vehicles from RPGs. All were repaired and returned to service within two days, he said.
Chaplains and mental health counselors were sent around to check with soldiers the next day.
CBFTW said he and his buddies also spent much of the next day cleaning up the brass shell casings out of their vehicle, fixing broken parts and cleaning their weapons.
"I discovered the remains of a smashed up impacted 7.62 (mm) bullet that had my name on it by my hatch. I put that in my pocket," he wrote. "If I ever have kids, and I get all old and have grandkids, I could show them the bullet that al-Qaida tried to kill me with. Have them bring that in for show and tell at school."

• To read CBFTW's account of last week's Stryker brigade battle in Mosul, go to cbftw.blogspot.com
Thursday, August 12, 2004

Sniper Fire (?)

The other day, we went somewhere, and did something
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I'm Soo Fucked

"These words I write to keep me from total madness."
-Charles Bukowski
Saturday, August 07, 2004

"Green" Gunner

I recieved an e-mail from B Abell Jurus, the author of the book Men In Green Faces, which is about Navy Seals in Vietnam, and she forwarded me an e-mail she recieved from Ed Fitzgerald, one of the Original Green Berets. He read my Men In Black blog entry, and said some really interesting things, and double taps on the confusion that happens in a situation like that. Check out what he said about the blog:

That "green" gunner captured vividly the total confusion, the terror of that situation he was suddenly thrown into. He shows us clearly something that is very true--the fact that in the middle of a firefight like that, you only can track about 1/40th of what is happening.(Maybe 1/10th of what is going on for the most experienced and coolest guyson the scene, those with many previous firefights). So often in fiction (and in the bullshit tales told by people who were never in a real firefight) we read these accounts where the "hero" both "sees" andtells you you step by step in minute detail every single thing that is taking place--in a situation where he could easily be killed or horribly maimed. Mostly, that's just crap. The way this guy described it (with all the warts--not sure what he is hitting most of the time, shooting too closeto his own men, etc.)--that is indeed how it is in a situation like that.
Too often, even in otherwise very well-written action books, there is no hint of that confused desperation which hits people when they are suddenly in it up to their eyebrows, with death or serious injury an all too real possibility. Loved the way that "green" gunner captured the reality of that kind of firefight--he nailed it right on the money. Ed
Thursday, August 05, 2004

Men In Black

Quote of the day: "I just want this day to end."
Thursday, July 29, 2004

I Dont Want To Live Alone

"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
-George Orwell
Thursday, June 24, 2004

Three Loud Explosions

I can hear small arms fire right now coming from outside the wire as I write this entry. On my way to the internet cafe that they have set up for us on this FOB (Forward Operating Base) I heard three loud explosions, about 5 minutes apart, followed by some breif small arms fire. We have cement mortar bunkers set up for us all over this FOB for us to seek cover in during an attack. From a cement shelter I observed three very large dust mushroom clouds from right outside the wire from where the explosions took place. You could feel the concusion of the explosions from where I was standing. No word yet what just happened. The craziness begins...

Soundtrack To Violance

-Kill The Poor/Dead Kennedys
-You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You / Dean Martin
-Anything and everything by SLAYER
-Stuck In The Middle With You/Stealers Wheel
-What A Wonderful World/Louis Armstrong
-Speak English Or Die/S.O.D.
-Bombs Over Baghdad/Outcast
-Theme Song from The Good The Bad And The Ugly
-Imperial March from Star Wars
-Kill Em All/Metallica
-Lets Start A War, Army Life, and Blown To Bits / The Exploited
-Stars and Stripes Forever
-Welcome To The Jungle/Guns And Roses
-Ride of the Valkyries/Wagner
-Paint It Black/Rolling Stones
-Die Die Die My Darling/Misfits
-Give Peace A Chance/John Lennon
-Shinny Happy People/REM
-Show No Mercy/Cro-Mags
-We Care Alot/Faith No More
-Danger Zone/Kenny Logins (Top Gun song)
-Countdown To Extinction/Megadeth
-It's Clobberin' Time/Sick of it all
-Iron Man/Black Sabbath
-I Dont Care About You / FEAR
-Bloody Sunday/U2
-Orange Crush/REM
-Never Gonna Stop/Rob Zombie
-Wont Back Down/Johnny Cash Version
-Seek and Destroy/Metallica
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Blogging From A Combat Zone

"War is not a practical necessity, it is also a theoretical necessity, an exigeary of logic. That war should ever be banished from the world is a hope not only absurd, but profoundly immoral"
-Heinrich von Treitschke

I found out about this blog website stuff in an article that was printed in the new Time magazine. It sounded like a good way for me to kill some time out here in Iraq, post a little diary stuff, maybe some rants, links to some cool shit, thoughts, experinces, garbage, crap, whatever. I have no set formula on how i'm going to do this, i'm just going to do it and see what happens. You think the Sex Pistols knew what the fuck they were doing when they first started jamming? They just fuckin' did.
About me: I am a 11B Infantry soldier in the United States Army, currently in Mosul Iraq. Our mission: to locate, capture and kill all non compliant forces here in Iraq. So far we've done pretty damn good. I've been here for about 8 months now, and i have no idea how much longer i'm going to be here. My whole outlook on everything has changed since being here, and i've probably aged a great deal over here. So far, this has been one hell of an experince. Lots of lows, and very little highs. Everyday is the same, a patrol, an OP, a TCP, same food at the chow hall, see the same faces, same streets, ect. Nothing really ever changes here. Times goes by extremly slow out here as well. A little about me, I am from the San Francisco bay area, SF being the Baghdad-by-the bay, as Herb Caen calls it. I've also lived in Cleveland Ohio, Los Angeles, and New York Fuckin City.

FYI: In case your wondering how and why i got the name "MY WAR" as a title to this web site, its a Black Flag song, here are the lyrics to that song:

My war you’re one of them
You say that you’re my friend
But you’re one of them
You don’t want to see me live
You don’t want me to give
Cuz you’re one of them
My war you’re one of them
You say that you’re my friend
But you’re one of them
I might not know what a friend is
All I know is what you’re not
Cuz you’re one of them
My war you’re one of them
You say that you’re my friend
But you’re one of them
I have a prediction, it lives in my brain
It’s with me every day, it drives me insane
I feel it in my heart, that if I has a gun
I feel it in my heart, I’d wanna kill some
I feel it in my heart, the end will come
Come on!!
My war you’re one of them
You say that you’re my friend
But you’re one of them
Tell me that I’m wrong
Try to sing me your ego song
You’re one of them
My war you’re one of them
You say that you’re my friend
But you’re one of them
My war.


I am the Infantry.
I am my country's strength in war.
her deterrent in peace.
I am the heart of the fight...
wherever, whenever.
I carry America's faith and honor
against her enemies.
I am the Queen of Battle.
I am what my country expects me to be...
the best trained solider in the world.
In the race for victory
I am swift, determined, and courageous,
armed with a fierce will to win.
Never will I betray my country's trust.
always I fight on...
through the foe,
to the objective,
to triumph over all,
If necessary, I will fight to my death.
By my steadfast courage,
I have won 200 years of freedom.
I yield not to weakness,
to hunger,
to cowardice,
to fatigue,
to superior odds,
for I am mentally tough, physically strong,
and morally straight.
I forsake not...
my country,
my mission
my comrades,
my sacred duty.
I am relentless.
I am always there,
now and forever.
I Am The Infantry!
Follow Me.

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