November 16, 2007

Getting it Wrong... Again

You've got to love our intrepid media covering the war in Iraq. Even eye-to-eye with their subjects they can still drastically misunderstand the situation.

Such was the case last Saturday, Nov. 11, when Ghaith Abdul-Ahad wrote about a commander of former Sunni insurgents (now "concerned citizens") Abu Abed in the Guardian.

Lt. Col. Dale Kuehl, the U.S. Battalion Commander that works with Abu Abed and the citizens of Ameriyah felt that the Guardian article was inaccurate enough to warrant a written response, duplicated below.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad's recent article on Abu Abed of Ameriyah does not paint an accurate picture of him nor of Ameriyah. Mr. Abdul-Ahad spent several days as a guest of Abu Abed in his home, but failed to see the totality of the security framework established within Ameriyah. While the events he describes occurred, I believe he embellished on the facts and selectively ignored the contribution of the Iraqi Army and of my Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment. His characterizations of Abu Abed as a "Sunni warlord" and the Forsan al-Rafidain as the "only authority inside" Ameriyah are completely off base.

The statement of a senior Sunni sheikh in Beirut, that this was just a way to prevent the army and police from entering the area, is absurd and reflects ignorance on the part of this Sheikh on the objectives of Abu Abed and other leaders within the Ameriyah community.

Abu Abed has demonstrated to me time and again that he is non-sectarian.
Some of his closest advisors and much of his Personal Security Detachment are Shia. He has been instrumental in encouraging approximately seventy Shia families to return to Ameriyah. His men regularly check on these families to ensure their safety.

Abdul-Ahad's assertion that the Forsan are the only authority within Ameriyah is completely false. On the contrary they are part of a security network that also includes the 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division and the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment.

The Iraqi Army commander and I have established control measures to provide oversight over the Forsan's activities. We developed a memorandum of agreement signed by myself, the Iraqi Army commander and Abu Abed that lays out how they will conduct operations to include provisions for detainees and authorized weapons. We have established a system to conduct investigations for any violations of the law. We investigate complaints, and at times I have disciplined members of the Forsan to include detaining one member for criminal activity. Abu Abed published a code of conduct for his men and on occasion has fired those that would not adhere to the published standards.

Abdul-Ahad also fails to mention the importance of local civil oversight on Abu Abed and his men. From the start, local civil leaders have been an important part of the Concerned Local Citizen movement in Ameriyah. If it was not for the endorsement of two local imams, I probably would have never agreed to work with Abu Abed.

The results of our efforts speak for themselves. We have not had a mortar or rocket attack within Ameriyah since July. Dead bodies used to litter the streets, but we have not had a murder reported since August. The last IED attack was on August 7th. Since that time, my battalion has suffered no casualties within Ameriyah, while 2/1/6 IA has had only one wounded Soldier.

With the increased security situation we have finally been able to provide essential services to the community. For the first time since 1-5 CAV deployed to Iraq last November, the beladiyah is routinely providing trash clean up. We have fixed numerous water pipes, pulled out destroyed car hulks and are working to clean out the sewer system. Likewise the local economy is gaining steam with over one hundred stores opening up the last two months.

Over time I have come to trust Abu Abed as a brother. Our men have fought together and in some cases died while fighting a common enemy that has no regard for the innocent civilians of Ameriyah. Abu Abed invited me into his home and showed me not only hospitality, but friendship and camaraderie. He has demonstrated to me that his goal is for the safety and security of the people of Ameriyah and has resisted attempts by outsiders to take credit and control of what he has been able to accomplish. He is an inspiring leader who demonstrates personal and moral courage on a daily basis. I am proud to call him my friend.

Lt. Col. Dale Kuehl
1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division

Posted by Confederate Yankee at November 16, 2007 07:19 AM

Excellent letter. The DoD should be encouraging this kind of expert refutation of the disinformation actively and maliciously being spread by the MSM. I hope this letter was also sent to the Grauniad and that our heroic Department of State officials see that it is published as an op-ed in that rag.

May I also suggest that videos of the authors of these articles be made on location for distribution on You Tube and other on-line video distributors.

Posted by: Mrs. Davis at November 16, 2007 09:01 AM

In the 1930s there was a Saturday morning radio program called "Let's Pretend" aimed at small children. I outgrew it but it must still be on the air.

I think it is time to retire the MSM acronymn and replace it with MBM (Make Believe Media)as the talking,and writing, heads who populate way too many of our news sources play let's pretend with the facts to fit either their their personal biasis or their masters agenda.

Posted by: BoiseBB at November 16, 2007 11:51 AM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 11/16/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

Posted by: David M at November 16, 2007 01:08 PM

Trying to correct the inaccuracies and distortions of the UK left-wing press is impossible. The narrative is the all-powerful US is responsible for all the world's problems and the US is impotent and about to be defeated. Facts rarely get in the way of the narrative.

Posted by: Rob at November 16, 2007 02:51 PM

Gee that is GREAT !!
The Sunni insurgents are on our side now.
But weren't they the bad guys before ? Maybe we shouldn't be giving them all those guns so quickly.
OH well, what could possibly go wrong ? I mean look at the track record so far......

Posted by: John Ryan at November 16, 2007 05:05 PM

But weren't they the bad guys before?

Yep. So were the Germans and Japanese.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at November 16, 2007 06:48 PM

"Gee that is GREAT !!
The Sunni insurgents are on our side now.
But weren't they the bad guys before ? Maybe we shouldn't be giving them all those guns so quickly."

Yeah, it is great. Anytime large numbers of the enemy defect to your side it means you're winning. And who is giving them guns, they have their own.

Posted by: andrew at November 16, 2007 08:32 PM

Great points, PA and andrew. The problem we have now is getting the word out to the average American citizen that the situation on the ground in Iraq has turned 180 degrees. How can that be done? Most people here in the US are completely ignorant of what is going on in Iraq today. Sad.

Posted by: jj at November 16, 2007 09:03 PM

Yeah, John, and why are we letting people in southern US states carry guns? They tried to secede once and started a civil war, why should we trust them not to do it again?

/sarc off

Posted by: C-C-G at November 16, 2007 09:09 PM

For the umpteenth time, John Ryan, we don't give the citizen's patrols guns. We allow them to carry their own, AFTER biometric registration of participants, training, and issuing of identity cards and some sort of identifying uniform, shirt, vest, etc. In full compliance with Geneva Conventions...Sheesh!

Posted by: j.pickens at November 16, 2007 11:19 PM

Pickens, John Ryan believes MoveOn and no one else.

Posted by: C-C-G at November 16, 2007 11:22 PM

Video of Abu Abed.

Posted by: Robert Stevens at November 17, 2007 03:07 AM

My brother is in the 1-5. It's unbelievable the progress they've made in Ameriyah and other parts of Baghdad. What a darn shame the U.S. is not hearing the real story of the war. If it bleeds it leads, but in this war we absolutely must hear the positive news. It's there, we're just not hearing it.

Posted by: lasmb1 at November 17, 2007 07:55 PM