It is difficult to explain what it is really like here in Iraq. As much as I support the reason for the mission, I must admit that each and every day here is difficult; I always thought one year is too long to send someone away to this place… and now the active duty Army Soldiers have been extend an extra three months, on top of the year. 15 months is such a lengthy amount of time, and causes everyone to miss two of some important date… two birthdays, two wedding anniversaries, two Thanksgivings, etc
It is difficult to maintain a positive attitude for so many months when the progress moves so very, very slow (at least there is some progress). Also, there is not a day that goes by that explosions are not heard- in the distance, and often times not so far away… this, and just moving from base to base rubs on the anxiety until the nerves are about raw. The heat does not help the situation one bit.
The US military policy in Baghdad has changed over the last few months- the original plan was to have US Soldiers position around the city in support of the Iraqi Security Forces. But today, the surge has given many thousands of extra US Soldiers to live with the Iraqis in the middle of the city… often times in the worst areas. This technique is working to control much of the violence- but at a cost. Soldiers are now living on the streets they patrol, with the Iraqi Security Forces… so when the Soldier comes in to rest, they are in a location of limited security that requires them to also guard where they sleep. So not only has the time here increased, but also the time the Soldier spends in the danger zone.
The insurgents are losing the battles; they are hated by ordinary citizens; even their own tribes are tuning on them. Their fight to tear apart Iraq is now one of desperation- but still supported by Iran and often our own media (who loves bad news). But we need to win control of this while losing as few Soldiers as possible. There must be a balance... BUT we CANNOT leave the Middle East in disarray, and allow the troubles to follow us home.