March 07, 2007

Frontline Voices

On Monday, Newsbusters brought us a post about a visit to Iraq by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, revealing the following:

Visiting Iraq, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams learned from Army officers that Iraqis want U.S. forces to remain in their country, from NBC News Baghdad reporter Richard Engel that Al-Sadr's insurgents have stepped down and are counting on pressure from anti-war opponents to provide them with victory, and from retired General and NBC News military analyst Wayne Downey that U.S. troops are proud of their mission. Traveling with Lieutenant General Ray Odierno for stories on his Monday newscast, Williams ran a clip of Army Colonel John Charlton proclaiming that Iraqis “do not want us to leave” and a soundbite from Army Lt. Colonel Charles Ferry who asserted: "The people here are very glad to see us.” Williams marveled: "You just said, 'They don't want us to leave.' That's the tenth time today I've heard that. I've got to go back to the States and do a newscast that every night has another politician or 12 of them saying, 'We have got to get out of that godforsaken place.' provides a version of Williams' story as well, closing with LTC Ferry's comments on the discrepancy between what American (mostly Democrat) politicians are saying about retreating in defeat, and the Iraqi civilian claim that they want us to stay and that they are happy we are there.

As for the morale of our soldiers, Micheal Yon noted in his dispatch "Meanwhile" yesterday (my bold):

There’s a lot of talk back at home that morale among American forces is low here. While writing this, I called Rich Oppel from the New York Times, who is in Baghdad, to ask him how morale looked from his vantage. Rich said that a lot of the soldiers are not happy with the extensions of their tours, something I have heard soldiers complain about also. However, I watch morale very closely. More closely than all else. Low morale in a particular unit can be the result of poor leadership in that unit, or just not getting mail, for instance. But gauging morale is not a simple affair of asking a few soldiers. A person has to live with them across Iraq. Having done so, my opinion is that overall troop morale is good to high. (If their morale could be bottled, it would probably would sell like crack, then be outlawed.)

Brian Williams, Richard Engle and GEN(R) Wayne Downing in Iraq experiencing some "technical dificulties" with their communications gear. Exclusive photo courtesy of Michael Yon, who is staying "just a few tents down" from them.

Iraqi civilians are telling our soldiers that they are happy they are there (something I've noticed not just in Ramadi, but in Baghdad and elsewhere). Obviously, not everyone is delighted with our presence—the militias, insurgents, terrorists, and criminal gangs in Iraq, and politicians, anti-war activists and many journalists worldwide come to mind—but the average Iraqi knows that the best chance they have of securing peace in their nation must rely on American forces backing Iraqi forces until the Iraqis alone are capable of providing their own security.

In the meantime, early reports on the Baghdad security operations thus far are carefully optimistic:

...the Bush administration says the president's decision to send more troops into Iraq is showing some "encouraging signs," though "too early" to call a success.

President Bush listed some of those "encouraging signs" in an address to American veterans.

They include the deployment of additional Iraqi army brigades in Baghdad, lifting restrictions on coalition forces to secure the capital, and rounding up more than 700 Shia extremists and large weapons caches.

The locals appear to be noting the changes as well.

Since us and Iraqi troops made their joint push into Baghdad, streets are getting busier. Stores that were closed down are re-opening and murders are down.

There has even been little resistance in Sadr City.

The last time American troops tried to secure this section of Baghdad they were met by Moqtada al Sadr's Mahdi militia.

"If there's one thing that has jumped out at me, this being the edge of Sadr City, it's been how well we've been received by the people, how friendly a reception we've gotten," said U.S. Army Captain Noll.

U.S. soldiers taking part in a search during Baghdad security operations two weeks ago. Photo courtesy of Michael Yon.

Presently, 21,500 U.S. soldiers are slowly building up in a "surge" to help the Iraqi government's security operations, and the Pentagon may request up to 7,000 more troops as operations expand into al Anbar province. As Brian Williams seemed to note in his broadcast (available at Hot Air), we can help the Iraqis secure their country, if only certain politicians would simply stop trying to undermine the effort.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at March 7, 2007 10:43 AM


Why do you have to be so PC?

Quit being a wimp and explain to your readers why nbc is even bothering to visit these "mercenaries" in Iraq!

Posted by: Dan at March 7, 2007 05:01 PM

When I heard NBC Nightly letting non-insurgent Iraqis speak (I heard this from a different room - I don't watch TV "News" anymore but rather get information from the wire services and then watch the blogs to catch their lies.) and mentioning some small amount of the good news from Iraq I assumed that NBC's news department had had a visit from a share holders committee asking why they were running all enemy propaganda and socialist nonsense. Was it something like that? The fact that they had Brian Williams doing it was even stranger since he always seemed to be on a break when some small bit of good news from Iraq becomes so news worthy that it would be conspicuous to ignore it.

Posted by: Saul Wall at March 7, 2007 07:30 PM