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Thread: Bill Roggio (The Fourth Rail) to Iraq...

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    Default Bill Roggio (The Fourth Rail) to Iraq...

    ... he's leaving in a week and still could use some additional support - details here. I am sure a couple of bucks from SWJ / SWC members would be greatly appreciated. The link provides the PayPal information.

    Here are some additional details:

    A Journey to Anbar Province
    By Bill Roggio


    In the coming weeks I will be taking part in an opportunity that, while not risk free, is more than I can pass up. To make it happen, I will need assistance and good fortune. I'd like your assistance in sending me to Iraq.

    A couple of weeks ago I received an invitation to visit and tour the operations environment I've been covering here for the last year. That invitation, from senior Marine officers with the Regimental Combat Team - 2, 2nd Marine Division, presents an opportunity for me to provide first hand reporting from Iraq, as well as to continue to provide context to the reports coming from other sources as I've done here at the Fourth Rail.

    Current planning centers on leaving in mid-November, and I plan to be out of country for a month and in theater as long as possible. I will be taking an unpaid leave of absence from my current employment, and hopefully returning to find that I'm still employed. And I'll need lots of assistance to make this a reality. Foremost is a means to defer the significant cost of going. Additionally I am seeking the media credentials necessary for entry into Iraq.

    My daily reporting on the war will continue, although not here at the Fourth Rail. Along with Steve Schippert and Marvin Hutchens, I will continue to provide high value media content, along with other extensions to the coverage I have offered here. We will soon be announcing the launch of a new site focused on national and international security threats and the U.S. led war on terror. Some time before my departure I will move my coverage to that site – ThreatsWatch.Org.

    Further details on the trip, financial and otherwise, are available on request. Offers of assistance should be emailed to:

    billroggio@gmail.com

    And for those seeking to make a financial contribution, you may do so via PayPal or if you prefer another means, please contact me at the above email address.

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    Default Military Blogger: His Way of Serving

    23 Nov. Philadelphia Inquirer (Made the Early Bird too) - Military Blogger: His Way of Serving (Bill Roggio at the The Fourth Rail and Threats Watch.

    Roggio, 35, left for Iraq on Saturday, but he's not in uniform. He's a military blogger - milblogger for short - embedded with the Second Marine Division in western Iraq. The Marines invited Roggio to spend a month with them after they and thousands of others took note of his work at The Fourth Rail (www.billroggio.com), one of several milblogs following events in Iraq.

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    Default Bill Roggio Reports from Iraq...

    ... on Threats Watch:

    3 Dec. - The Teufelhunden of the 3/6

    2 Dec. - The Ramadi Debacle

    1 Dec. - The Sulemani

    30 Nov. - Transferring Control

    Check it out and kudos to Bill for going in harm's way in search of the stories that do not make the MSM....
    Last edited by SWJED; 12-04-2005 at 01:29 PM.

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    Default Progress in Iraq

    From Bill Roggio on Threats Watch - Progress in Iraq.

    Everything I Thought I Knew Was Wrong...

    Operation Moonlight, the first brigade sized operation in Western Anbar province ends. While the tangible results are minimal, a single weapons cache was uncovered, the fact the operation was entirely driven by the Iraqi brigade, from intelligence, planning, manpower, to execution, is significant. America’s Son, a blogger and Marine Military Policeman who worked with the Iraqi soldiers, offers a first hand account of the operation and high praise of to the Iraqi troops, using his own training experiences...

    While the Iraqi Army assumes a greater role in security, reconstruction efforts continue country wide. Mosul, Tal Afar and Sadr City in Baghdad. Margaret Friedenauer of the Fairbanks News-Miner is embedded with the 172nd Stryker Brigade in Mosul, and says “Everything I thought I knew [about Iraq and how American troops operated] was wrong.”...

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    Default Covering Roggio's coverage of war

    This is my post on the Washington Post story this moring about Bill Roggio's work with Marines in Iraq. My closing paragraph:

    The media has not done a poorer job of reporting a war since the Tet offensive in Vietnam where they turned a rout of the communist forces into a victory. They are making the same mistake again. They are attributing significance to the fact of an attack rather than the results of an attack. One of the easiest things to do in war is launch a failed attack. Anybody can do it. Yet in their reporting of the war, the violence of a failed attack is treated as a failure of US forces to prevent it. This is an impossibly stupid standard, but it seems to be the one that all the major media follow. Roggio is a rare exception. That is what makes his reporting so important.

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    Default Post Election Developments

    28 Dec. Threats Watch by Bill Roggio - Post Election Developments.

    ... The much touted “rise in post election violence” is merely a resumption of the insurgency, parts of which conducted a cease fire for the election, and other parts of which had their operations interrupted by the tough security restrictions in place during the election.

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    Default WaPo's Preemptive Strike Against Bill Roggio

    30 Dec. Real Clear Politics Op-Ed - WaPo's Preemptive Strike Against Bill Roggio.

    It was the journalistic equivalent of a drive-by shooting. The targets of Washington Post reporters Jonathan Finer and Doug Struck were two of journalism's favorites: Web loggers and the U.S. military.

    "Bloggers, Money, Now Weapons in Information War," read the headline over their story, which appeared last Monday. "U.S. Recruits Advocates to the Front, Pays Iraqi TV Stations for Coverage," the subhed said.

    "Retired soldier Bill Roggio was a computer technician living in New Jersey less than two months ago when a Marine officer half a world away made him an offer he couldn't refuse," the story began.

    The insinuation of the headline and the lead is that Mr. Roggio was recruited and paid by the Marines to write favorable things about military operations in Iraq.

    Drive-by shootings are notoriously inaccurate, and the story by Mr. Finer and Mr. Struck, which ran last Monday, contained so many errors it should be an embarrassment to the Washington Post...

    Journalists don't like bloggers because they fact-check journalists. Bloggers like Bill Roggio and Michael Yon, a former Special Forces soldier who embedded with a Stryker battalion in Mosul, expand the threat posed by the new media. They're reporting news, and doing it better than "professional" journalists are.

    Messrs. Finer and Struck weren't reporting news when they slimed Bill Roggio. They were launching a preemptive strike against a new, but increasingly muscular, competitor.
    The SWJ / SWC contributed a small ammount to Bill prior to his trip and we are glad we did.

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    Default More...

    3 Jan. National Review - Embedded Bias? by Bill Roggio.

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    Default al-Qaeda Jailbreak in Yemen

    Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail - al-Qaeda Jailbreak in Yemen.

    The escape of twenty three al-Qaeda members from a Yemeni prison raises serious questions about the nation’s ability and commitment to fight the terrorist organization. Earlier in the week, Yemen announced the jailbreak, and Interpol immediately issued an "urgent global security alert" seeking the arrest of the terrorists.

    The escapees included Jamal Badawi, the leader of the cell responsible for the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen in 2000, which killed 17 U.S. sailors, and Fawaz al-Rabe'ie, the leader of the cell that attacked the French oil tanker Limburg in 2002. Badawi has a $5 million bounty on his head. There is also the possibility that Jaber Elbaneh, a member of the "Lackawanna Six" al-Qaeda cell from Buffalo, New York, may have been one of the escapees. Elbaneh has been indicted in U.S. criminal court for conspiring to provide aid to a foreign terrorist entity and also has a $5 million reward for his capture.

    The details of the prison break are emerging, and it becomes clear there was assistance from within Yemen’s security services, and Yemen’s amnesty program for al-Qaeda members is seriously flawed. Yemen’s security services are believed to be riddled with Islamist and al-Qaeda sympathizers, and weapons used in an attack on a U.S. consulate in Jeddah in 2004 have been traced back to the Yemeni Defense Ministry...

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    Default Related...

    9 Feb Washington Post - U.S. Patrolling Yemen Coast for Prisoners.

    U.S. Navy ships are patrolling the waters off the coast of Yemen to help the country recapture suspected al Qaeda terrorists who escaped from prison early this week and could attempt to flee by sea, the Pentagon said today.

    Among the 23 prisoners who escaped from a Yemeni prison Sunday was Jamal Ahmed Badawi, the mastermind of the bomb attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, the Pentagon said in a statement from Bahrain. Also among the escapees was Fawaz Yahya Rabeiei, one of those responsible for attacking the French tanker Limburg in 2002, the statement said...

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    Default "Civil War" & Where's Zarqawi?

    The Fourth Rail blog - "Civil War" & Where's Zarqawi? by Bill Roggio.

    As further sectarian violence surfaces in Iraq, the predictions of civil war increase. Over the past few days, scores of bodies have been uncovered in the Baghdad area, many showing signs of torture and execution-styled murders. In an attempt to improve the standing of the Iraqi Police, an agreement has been struck for the Iraqi Army and police forces to conduct joint operations. This is a clear indication the Interior Ministry is under pressure to clean up its police forces, as well as an admission that the Iraqi Army is viewed in a far better light by the Iraqi people than the police forces.

    But sectarian violence, while a troubling and a destabilizing development, does not equate to civil war. Many established democracies are rife with sectarian strife, including India, the Philippines and Indonesia. This isn't intended to excuse the killings in Iraq, but it should be understood that there are very real problems throughout the world in established democratic countries. al-Qaeda is attempting to stir up sectarian violence and create the conditions for a civil war, but the political process, while frustratingly slow, is moving forward and the Iraqi Army and police forces, while far from perfect, have not cracked...

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    Default Joint Urban Warrior Small Wars Conference (JUW 06)

    From Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail.

    I have been invited to attend the Joint Urban Warrior (JUW 06) Small Wars Conference in Potomac, Maryland as a blogger and journalist. The event is hosted by the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Joint Forces Command. I will attend the conference on Monday and Tuesday (April 2 & 3), and will also participate on a panel. If you will be at the conference, send me an email...

    More than 220 participants are expected to attend JUW 06 Small Wars, including representatives from all the uniformed services, several multinational partners, NATO, and the intelligence and interagency communities. JUW 06 Small Wars is structured as a set of lessons learned sessions (US and Multinational) based on recent real-world urban operations, followed by extensive focus area workshops. Participants will apply those lessons and insights in the workshops, supplemented by an extensive body of knowledge from previous war games, as well as Service, Joint, Multinational, and Interagency lessons learned.

    With thanks to the Wargaming Division of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, and Dave Dilegge and Bill Nagle at the Small Wars Journal.

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    Default The Global Warriors

    Bill Roggio, The Fourth Rail on Joint Urban Warrrior 06 - The Global Warriors.

    The Joint Urban Warrior '06 Conference was an opportunity to hear a frank discussion on the current and future challenges in fighting against the more complex battles of the 21st Century. Insurgency, asymmetrical warfare, 4th Generation Warfare, guerrilla war - no matter what your preference is for terminology for the low intensity conflicts encountered in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Thailand and elsewhere throughout the globe, the fact is these conflicts are unique challenges to democratic nations...

    The common theme discussed among the presenters were the complex nature or "terrain" of the 21st century battlefield, which includes: terrorist groups (or non-state actors); militias; the physical terrain; interactions with neutral or potentially hostile third parties such Non-Governmental Organizations and the media; the role of religion and culture when dealing with civilian populations, the effect low intensity conflict has on a military geared to fight classical wars; war-fighter skills; the impact and over reliance on technology; human intelligence vs. technological intelligence; and the "information war."...

    Perhaps the most interesting debate came after the Singaporean presentation, which stressed technology and 'kinetic' (fighting) operations over 'non-kinetic' (humanitarian) operations. This elicited several questions and comments about the need to incorporate civil-military operations in urban war fighting and counterinsurgency operations. The audience was quite cognizant the focus on technology and combat alone is not a successful strategy for stability. The hard lessons learned in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor, Aden, Malaysia, the Palestinian territories and elsewhere are deeply ingrained among the officers in attendance...

    Day two of the conference consisted of break out sessions or "blue cells", where small groups met to discuss the issues raised during the presentations. I worked with the cell designated to address the issue of cultural awareness and the military’s need to adapt to the complex nature of the 21st Century battlefield. The cell focused on the need to understand the local and national customs and traditions, religion, language and how to train military personnel and implement outside solutions to maximize success. The group was unanimous in the belief the military needs to develop the skills of the "Strategic Corporal and the Tactical General" in order to succeed. There seemed to be a focus on internalizing the skills within the military, and a reluctance to look outside for solutions...

    Again, with thanks to the Wargaming Division of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, and hospitality of Dave Dilegge and Bill Nagle at the Small Wars Journal.
    Last edited by SWJED; 04-07-2006 at 08:45 PM.

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    Default SWJ on JUW 06 (Wed)

    A couple of quick notes as time is of a premium this week...

    It was a pleasure to meet Jack Kelly and Bill Roggio and have them participate in Joint Urban Warrior 06 (JUW 06); albeit for a small portion of the overall program. Jack had to depart Monday and I saw Bill off on Tuesday evening.

    The annual JUW program is preceded by a year-long series of what are called "pathway events" that feed and shape the week-long "big event".

    JUW 04 and 05 were traditional seminar-style tabletop war games that pitted "Blue" coalition forces (Combined Joint Task Forces) against "Red" forces (asymmetric "bad guys") with a focus on planning for and executing operations in an urban environment. Moreover, these war games concentrated on the "hard part" of urban ops - a complex and fluid Three-Block War.

    "In one moment in time, our service members will be feeding and clothing displaced refugees - providing humanitarian assistance. In the next moment, they will be holding two warring tribes apart conducting peacekeeping operations. Finally, they will be fighting a highly lethal mid-intensity battle. All on the same day, all within three city blocks. It will be what we call the three block war."

    - General Charles Krulak, USMC

    Both war games also included what was termed "Green" players who represented the indigenous population (non-combatants), the media, U.S. and Coalition governmental interagency other than military, regional and international organizations, non-governmental organizations and others who could influence friendly operations and a desired end-state in a Small Wars environment.

    JUW 06 took a different approach - attempting to take the vast body of knowledge gained through the previous two war games, Emerald Express seminars (insights and observations from operators with Small Wars / Urban Operations experience); and joint, service and other agencies lessons learned and after action reports - and "drill down" on some of the most critical issues to include:

    • Urban Operations (Three-Block War / Continuum of Operations)
    • Interagency
    • Coalition
    • Influence / Information
    • Cultural Awareness


    Each of these focus areas includes sub-focus areas intended to aid the participants in addressing the most critical capabilities required by a coalition force. For example - urban operations includes counterinsurgency operations, stability and security operations (to include humanitarian operations), training and education, intelligence, the operating environment... influence / information includes counter-IO (countering the adversary's information campaign), the media...

    The format for JUW 06 is Emerald Express seminars (Sunday - Monday - Wednesday) intended to "set the scene" for the six working groups (Tuesday - Thursday) that have been asked to apply their expertise and operational experience and produce a series of short (1-5 page) "how to think about Small Wars and urban operations" papers for planners, operators, concept developers and students.

    Bottom-line here is the environment we operate in is complex and ever-changing and rather than attempt to create a one-size fits all procedural "check-list" - that may not be relevant from one operation to the next - is to compile the results from JUW 06 into a multi-media based product that addresses the mind-set necessary and critical considerations associated with the conduct of Small Wars and urban operations.

    The JUW 06 multi-media report will include the working group papers, videos of all the Emerald Express seminars (including the healthy discussion and Q&A periods), video interviews of participants, and other material that supports or otherwise reinforces the issues and considerations addressed by the working groups.

    More later as time permits...

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    Default The Fourth Rail Watch

    Bill Roggio is once again posting at the The Fourth Rail.

    As those of you who stumbled upon the site can tell, I am now posting here full time. I'll make a more formal announcement about my return to The Fourth Rail shortly. I wanted to hold of on the announcement until I could get some site upgrades implemented.

    I'm going to update the site with two new resource areas: short, traditional links to select news and blogs, and short 3-4 sentence posts on areas in the war that merits more than just an individual link, but not a full blown post/analysis. This section will be called "Today In..."

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    Default Update...

    Back Again, For Good

    As many of you have already figured out, I have returned to The Fourth Rail and am now posting here permanently. I realize I have done a bit of shuffling around the blogosphere of late. This is a new medium, I have been experimenting a bit, and I hope you will understand and forgive me for making it difficult at times to find me. Each time, I have returned here, and I am now here to stay. No more moving.

    I am now entirely on my own, and I will be counting on your support for this project to work. Reporting and analysis, coupled with visiting the conflict zones is now my full time job. Please consider hitting the Donate button and support independent reporting and analysis, free of the partisan political atmosphere that dominates and clouds the debate. I plan on embedding in Djibouti sometime in October and then head back to Iraq sometime in the winter. I am still working out the details, and will update you with the information as soon as my plans become clearer. Again, I cannot do this without your support.

    I want to thank my good friend Andy Cochran for the opportunity to write the Counterterrorism Blog, which is the premier resource on counterterrorism issues. It is an honor to work with Andy and the experts at the Counterterrorism Blog. I will remain on board to help out with the site behind the scenes. I also want to thank my good friend Marvin Hutchens of ThreatsWatch for upgrading and designing the new look and feel of this site. I couldn't have made the changes without his expert advice and patience.

    Best Wishes,

    Bill Roggio

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    Default Fourth Rail - Iran and al-Qaeda in Iraq

    Iran and al-Qaeda in Iraq

    Further evidence of Iran's support of the Shia death squads and Sunni al-Qaeda has emerged. At the end of December, two Iranian agents of the Quds force were arrested in a SCIRI compound in Baghdad. The Iraqi government was angry over the arrests, as the Iranians were part of a diplomatic delegation, and the agents were later released and deported.

    But the Washington Post reported the two Iranian intelligence agents captured in Baghdad possessed "weapons lists, documents pertaining to shipments of weapons into Iraq, organizational charts, telephone records and maps, among other sensitive intelligence information... [and] information about importing modern, specially shaped explosive charges into Iraq." One was "the third-highest-ranking official of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' al-Quds Brigade."

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    Default

    Are you sure that wasn't a left over Christmas wish list: Little Johnny wants 20 x EFMPs, Betty wants a large caliber sniper rifle capable of penetrating body armor sort of thing? Well, OK, maybe not.

    Truth be told they are both active in Iraq. They are like carpetbaggers shopping for influence. They take advantage of conditions of fear to make their deals and compromises more attractive. It is the "what else can you do?" line that these guys are hoping for when they approach an Iraqi. They seek to influence the youg first, then pressure older family members - they are masters at manipulation under these conditions.

    There are plenty of Iraqis and TCNs who are making $$$ off the whole thing (and it spends the same no matter who the paymaster is), there is no business quite like war and strife to turn a huge profit quick. It is the bottom of morality when human beings exhibit this kind of behavior, especially when you see it against their own countrymen (and I mean right down to the ethnic and religious roots - $$$ bridges allot of divides) - did I just have a Freudian slip and include some of the US contractors over here in that? One thing I've noticed here is how $$$ facilitates self deception.

    Here is a question though. Let’s say Iran is not successful in Iraq. What is the consolation prize? How about an Iraq devoid of its best thinkers, where most of an entire generation was unable to pursue higher education? What about the collection of information and then the assassination of the most progressive and those with critical skills. I think there is more to this then meets the eye. I think we might need to stand the puzzle (or map) on end and look at it from some other perspectives. I read one of those chinese wise man type sayings the other day that said crowds can make you invisible as long as you are moving in the same direction.
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 01-08-2007 at 08:29 AM.

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