Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Eliminate the MSM Filter

We posted an press briefing with one of our commanders in Iraq, H.R. McMaster, and another briefing, via Mike Williams and Bill Roggio, has come to our attention and is worth the read. The value of reading comments directly from battlefield commanders is that we can avoid the customary filtering and spin and editing applied by the MSM on stories about Iraq. Mudville Gazette usually has a sampling of briefings as well.

This afternoon I conducted an interview with Colonel Stephen W. Davis, the Commander of Marine Regimental Combat Team - 2 currently operating in western Iraq and engaged in Operation Steel Curtain in the border town of Husaybah.

Bill Roggio: What is the current status of Operation Steel Curtain?

Col Davis: Husaybah has been cleared and secured. Coalition forces are now conducting combat patrols. Construction is underway for basing of Iraqi and U.S. troops to maintain a permanent presence in the city, and provide security. We had a real good plan, but the execution was even better. I am pleased with the results of Operation Steel Curtain.

Bill: MNF-West states there were 1,000 Iraqi troops involved, while CNN and other news outlets reports 550. Is there an explanation for this discrepancy?

Col Davis: The number is just a hair short of 1,000. There is one full battalion of Iraqi Army soldiers, one brigade headquarters unit, units from the Desert Protection Force, and a Special Operations Forces unit, which was trained by [U.S.] Army Green Berets. These SOF units are high caliber units with a great deal of expertise and bring it to the battlefield.
(my emphasis)

Bill: How is the Desert Protection Force organized and trained?

Col Davis: These are platoon sized units recruited locally and trained in reconnaissance and scout techniques. They add a level of granularity due to their experience and local knowledge of the region. They have been very, very helpful during Operation Steel Curtain.

Bill: Last time we spoke, we discussed the morale of the Americans serving under your command. Can you give us a feel for the morale of the Iraqi troops?

Col Davis: The morale of the Iraqi troops is high. We are very fortunate to work with these soldiers and to watch them grow. The 2nd Brigade, 7th Division of the Iraqi Army is operating in the Hit/Haditha region, and the 1st Brigade, 1st Division is operating out west on the Syrian border. One of the battalions was engaged in Fallujah and Ramadi. There are some tough and battle hardened soldiers in these units. I am fortunate to have these two brigades directly under my command.

I dine nightly with [Iraqi Army] Colonel Razak, and we discuss the progress of the Iraqi troops and their ability to conduct combat operations. These units operating out here have good morale and show a high degree of proficiency in combat. They are in need of logistics assistance from us. These guys fight hard; I’ve lost six Iraqi soldiers since they have been operating out here.

These are just some excerpts, but Roggio carries the whole interview.