Monday, March 10, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

It is over. The words I have been waiting to say for so long while doing this blog, I AM DONE! And a job well done. I know back in the day when President Bush made his whole Mission Accomplished speech from the Navy aircraft carrier, the mission that most Americans assumed he was talking about was the Iraq War, which at the time was no where near done. There was and still is much controversey over his decision to make such a statement. My statement is a little less bold. I don't refer to accomplished as in the war is over, send the troops home kind of accomplished. I am referring to the work that we have done, ourselves and the job we have done.

Our mission is accomplished. We received word of our deployment a few days after Christmas. We were on the deployment ready cycle at Ft Bragg where we could potentially deploy anywhere in the world on a moments notice, so it was no real suprise, at least to me, that when the murmors of a possible troop surge began rumbling, that we were probably going to be caught up in it. Sure enough we were. We would come to learn shortly after hearing about our deployment that just 2 days after New Years we would be heading for Kuwait. We hurried to rush out of there and get going on what was to be a 6 month deployment as the Iraq Theaters strategic reserve. By the time we were wheels up, it had been 6 days since we had received notification of our deployment. Soon after arriving in Kuwait, the decision was finalized to mobilize 10s of thousands of troops and flood them in to Baghdad and other parts of Iraq as a part of a new change in strategy. When the boots of our unit touched the dirty ground of Iraq, the "Surge" had begun.

It was a volitile time for Baghdad and Iraq when we began. Sectarian killing between Shiites and Sunnis was spirialing out of control. Sadr's militia was terrorize and killing Sunnis while Sunni snipers and bomb makers mutilated Shiites in ungodly numbers. They hated each other, but they both hated us. The Spring of 2007 brought some of the bloodiest months of this War. May 2007 was the 2nd bloodiest month of this conflict, followed with April and June as the 5th and 6th. The year 2007 would turn in to the single deadliest year for US troops since the begining of the War. The initial push of the Surge was in to Baghdad and the fighting between Sadr's militia, the Sunni Militia and Al-Qaeda in Iraq against the US Military was fierce. But our resolve and will did not faulter and our advantage in warfighting proved once again that they stood no chance. They began to flee the Baghdad area and push to the outskirts, where the new Surge troops would soon follow and continue to give them the crushing defeat they were sustaining in Baghdad.

With the focus no longer on gunbattles and firefights, we began going after the leaders of the militias that operated in our sector and began rolling them up one after another, after another, until the picture became clear to them. Quit, leave or get caught. Our final task was to protect the economically important markets which were in our area, and were constantly the target of massive carbombs killings hundreads of people with some of the blasts. The most economically important and largest market in Baghdad was in our sector, but between our constant presence and pressure on the militias, the attacks dwindled in size and frequency. With the militas weakened, the civilian casulties at an all time low due to a lack of car bombs and sniper attacks, the confidence of the people began to rise and their trust and appreciation of us did as well. The last vitial step was to get the Iraqis to begin to take over for themselves and our assistance in the creation of the CLC (Concerned Local Citizen) groups have done just that.

The situation in our area had taken a complete 180 from where it was when we began. The Sunnis and the Shiites began to trust one another. Killings were almost non-existant. Attacks in the markets were so rare and weak, that the resolve of the Iraqi civilians was no shaken. People were no long so fearful of working with the Americans and giving us intel. And in some areas, you could tell the people really loved us being there. I wouldn't go so far as saying it was completely safe in our area, but its getting damn close. Its amazing to think how much of a differnece 15 months had made. And it shows in the level of attacks on our troops. Dec 2007 was the 2nd lowest death toll since the start of the war, with the 3rd lowest being Feb 2008. Sadr, the leader of the Jeish Al Mehdi Army, has even noticed the change and no longer feels the need for his militia to fight and has stated himself that what the Americans have done has been good. As tough as it was for us to deploy here on 6 days notice and to deal with our deployment getting extended from 6 months to a year and then a year to 15-months, I believe it has been worthwhile and has such a profound impact on this area, that only time can truly show. I hope the trend continues with the new units that begin to replace the Surge troops and I hope peace will one day take over in this land. I want to be able to come back when I'm 50 and 60 and walk the same streets with my Kids and Grandchildern. I only pray that this may one day be possible.

So for now my time is done. I am done with missions and very shortly will be heading out of this place I called home for so long. The next time I post I will be back in the United States. Thank you to all who have read my blog, offered adivce, support or just an encouraging word through the comments and emails. I appreciated it all and I hope that you were able to get a little better picture of what life was like here in Iraq for an average American ground soldier, in the middle of the Surge! I will continue to blog once I return for some time, so don't think this is the end. Its just the end of a long long long long loooooong Chapter! :)


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28 comments:

LT Nixon said...

Congrats! Thanks for your service during these troubled times.

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 03/10/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

wifeunit said...

Congratulations! I will miss your blogging but am so happy to hear your time is done! My husband is an IA sailor attached to some of your fellow 82 surgers on their way home. He liked his team and will miss them. It always sounded to me like you guys were in the same Baghdad areas and I kept asking him stupid questions like "did you guys have to walk around with three people cause of some bullshit?" and other things based on your posts.

Anyway, Good Luck with the return. Enjoy that first cold one wherever you have it!!

Haole Wahine said...

The WORDS we've been waiting for.

Bring it on home --- Mission Accomplished, Job well done.

Your're geared up and ready for the New Chapter.

Gratitude and Prayers.
Okay a few tears, too, but they're good ones.

Sheila in Mesa said...

Have a good trip home! Thank you for all that you did for our country.

lela said...

Well done, my friend! Well done!

Arli said...

Thank you for your exemplary and much appreciated service to our country. Thank you for taking the time and making the effort required to maintain this blog. Thank you for bringing us into your life and letting us share your experience. Mostly, THANK YOU, for making the difference you wrote so beautifully about. I can't wait to hear that your boots are back on US ground! Godspeed.

Ky Woman said...

ED,
It's always nice to hear of another bunch of our guys coming home... With that in mind, just let me say,

WELCOME HOME!!!!

Glad to know that for now, this chapter is done. And please don't forget to write your thoughts upon returning. :-)

Airbornedad said...

ED,

Congrats. I saw in the Fayetteville that 2nd Brigade was leaving and didn't know if that was you. The weather is warming up and you will be home just in time for Spring.

Again, job well done!!!!

membrain said...

Congratulations Eddie on a job well done. 15 months in Iraq under the conditions you've experienced is something to be proud of. As one of your readers I know I'm proud of you and I'm sure the others are too.

I look forward to reading you when you are back home with Charlie.

Sparkel said...

Thank you for providing a concise, emotion felt window into what is really happening. I have laughed, cried, and gained knowledge and understanding. I look forward to reading your blog when you come home and unite with Charlie. God Bless You !

Steve Nicks said...

Congratulations on completing your task. Your service to the country is much appreciated by those of us at home. I wish you a safe journey home and look forward to hearing about your adjustment to life back in the United States.

Thanks again!!

Anonymous said...

Great just as amazing.I´m so glad for you, charlie and all the others. You deserve the best for the rest of your life.God bless you♥

cajenki said...

hey Ed - what can i even say -- except that I am so very proud of you and so thankful for you. I can not wait for you to be home, safe and sound, but I am so grateful for you and the others like you that have put yourselves out there to help others. You guys are a true blessing and are definitely worthy to be called Heroes!! So thank you for all that you have done and continue to do! You are in my prayers as you prepare to travel home to the USA. I can't wait to see you! :)

Anonymous said...

Hip Hip Hooray for you! Wishing you a safe journey home!!!

Anonymous said...

Excellent news! Congratulations!
Well done and many thanks for your hard work and sharing your journey.
Safe travels!
Cathy B

Anonymous said...

Congratulations man

I learned a lot about life through your milblog

Good luck back in the world

Anonymous said...

Well! I get to be first to say Welcome Home, and Thank you.
mamaworecombatboots

Anonymous said...

It is with extreme gratitude and respect that I thank you for your blog. You have provided insight and inspiration and I believe you will be read for generations to come. We all long for that day when the war is over, but the WOT will be with us for some time. You can be proud of your part. I wish I could be there for your WELCOME HOME but fair warning! If I ever hear you're here in N.M. and don't let us (PGR) know, you're in deeeep poop ;D You're welcome to ride with us anytime. SOLO

shawn said...

Good to hear your time is ending. It's been an interesting perspective to get a boots on the ground view from Iraq while I've been in the 'Stan for the past year....not too much longer for me in this country and I'll soon be hitting the gates of Bragg. See ya soon.

Tony G said...

Thanks for your service. My son was in Iraq as a Naval IA. He came home about 3 months after you got there. As a parent, it was a difficult time.

Once I started reading your blog, I began to recommend it to everyone. While difficult and scary at times, you gave us an unfiltered view of our ground forces and more importantly a much tuer view of The Surge than what we were seeing in the media.

You have given your country 2 above and beyond services.

Thanks again. I hope you get an enormous book deal.

PhoenixGuy said...

Oh man, great to see you made it out. I've enjoyed reading your trials and adventures and hope and pray you have a safe journey back.

Thank you for your service.

bmorerealtor said...

Congratulations!! Welcome home, if you are back now. My son is home now too. Thank you for a job well done.

klaus said...

well done Eddie, and welcome home (soon).

Please contact me at your convenience so I can continue to send care packages to your comrades who need them.

cheers,

klaus
www.adoptthe82nd.com

MightyMom said...

HOORAY! I get to do my "Another soldier's safe" dance again!!

thank you for your service.

welcome home.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your journey with us. You provided a way for me to keep our finger on the real pulse of what was going on. My son was in a remote location with no communications but a sat phone once in a while. Your blog helped even though you were in different places.

Job well done and Welcome Home!

BrianFH said...

D'y'know, your tour bridged the most crucial and amazing "turnaround" of the entire war? And maybe any war for a long time. You were for damshure part of making history.

As far as that "Mission Accomplished" banner, that was strung up by the carrier sailors as a boast. IIRC, GWB never even used the phrase. More snip-and-paste distortion.

Client Number 9 said...

Congrats on the completion man. I would like to thank you for your service to us. Thank you. I hope that everything works out well for you in the future.