06 August 2006

Q&A

Here are answers to questions I have been asked via email or through the comments section. If you have further questions, feel free to ask! I'm more than happy to answer within the restrictions of operational security. Off we go...

Q. I have been noticing on the news about the civil war in Iraq. Are you close to any of that? What does all that mean? You hear one news station saying one thing and another saying something different. Any views you can share?

A. An excellent question, particularly coming from the states, where coverage of the war is probably not very accurate.

Let me start off with what many have called a "civil war." Is what is going on in Iraq a civil war? Many news outlets portray it as that, and the coalition would prefer not to use that term, for obvious reasons.

The difficult answer to this question is that it probably depends upon whom you ask. I hope that's not a cop-out. Shiites and Sunnis are fighting over their own country, so in that respect, we have something approaching a civil war. On the other hand, it's not really that simple. Many of the anti-coalition forces and anti-Iraqi forces are foreigners to Iraq: Saudis, Syrians, Afghanis, etc. On top of that, these groups are organized more like a terrorist network than organized armed forces.

Next. Am I close to any of this? Again, the answer is yes and no, so let me try to explain. Without going into too much detail, Camp Ashraf, where I am based, seems to be a fairly safe area. This doesn't necessarily mean that there aren't insurgents operating in the area, but in general this particular base seems reasonably safe. On the other hand, our operations are certainly not confined to the base. We have an area around the base that is patrolled, and we have other missions that leave the general area to transit to different parts of Iraq. So while it may be reasonably safe here, it may be a bit more dangerous not only somewhere we're going, but also dangerous along the way there.

I know this sounds cryptic, but I'm bordering on information which is protected by operational security cconcerns. In other words, if I said anymore, I'd potentially be giving anyone reading this blog valuable intelligence information. It's not necessarily a matter of the information being classified, it's more like each bit of information is a small piece of a puzzle, and every piece helps the enemy build a better picture. Remember, not only you are reading this, anyone with access to the Internet can read it, too. And you can bet insurgent forces are skilled at using the Internet.

Finally, the news media. The media does a fairly decent job when it comes to reporting information and specific events (which is their job, anyways). Often they get details wrong, but in general the reporting is probably accurate. However, the problem arises when reporters and media start trying to interpret the news (which is your job, not theirs). I doubt that many reporters have their ear close enough to the ground such that they can take information and events and mesh them together into an accurate picture of what is really going on. My analysis of the news media: if they say something happened, it probably did happen, but don't be surprised if some of the details are wrong or inaccurate. Their goal is not necessarily accuracy, but to get the news out faster than their competitors.

I hope this helps you a little bit to understand what's going on over here. I apologize if you're more confused now than when you started reading!
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