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The View From on the Ground

With American bloggers reporting on life in Iraq, the war is only a mouse click away

September 05, 2004

Other wars produced poetry and novels and memoirs. But the war in Iraq has brought a new kind of literature. In real time, on the Internet, officers and enlisted men and women are chronicling the war on weblogs -- better known as blogs. Two weeks ago, one of the most popular war bloggers, a soldier stationed near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul who identified himself only as CBFTW, was disciplined by the Army for violating "operational security." His gritty postings described both the terror and boredom of war. Last week, he removed them from his "My War" website. But the journals of many other military bloggers remain on the Web. Here are edited excerpts from the blogs of Americans serving with the U.S. military in Iraq.

A 'festering sore'

Lt. Col. David G. Bellon was commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps in 1990 after graduating from law school. He remained on active duty until 1998, then continued as a reserve officer while building a law practice in Oceanside. In January 2003, he went to Iraq to serve in the infantry during the invasion. He returned home in September of last year and was sent back to Iraq in February 2004. Bellon, who is serving in the volatile Sunni Triangle, has a wife and two children, ages 4 and 6. He hopes to be home by Christmas. His family maintains a website, www.thegreenside.com, on which they post Bellon's letters to his father.

Aug. 17, 2004

My regiment has been involved in a fight outside of Fallouja for the past week.

On August 9th, insurgents in the city kidnapped the two Iraqi National Guard battalion commanders within the city, subsequently killing at least one of them. It is another clear example of the savagery of the enemy here. The city is now without any coalition influence other than us. The local militia that was created as a solution to the April fighting has become a defensive army that is in collusion with the insurgents. The police are complicit with the enemy and the city is literally run by terrorists.

The Iraqi National Guard battalion commander who was killed was Lt. Col. Sulaiman Hamad Ftikan. We knew him as Sulaiman. He was the closest thing to a true patriot and leader we have found who is actually from the local Fallouja area. He was kidnapped and murdered because he had finally gotten his battalion to stand up to the criminals and insurgents who have had their run of the city all these months.

Of course his murder was not merciful. He was tortured and beaten to death. He was so disfigured by the torture that his friends could not bear to look at his body.

The city has continued to be an epicenter of terror and instability. With everything that I know, I cannot fathom a resolution of this problem that does not include us being allowed to take the city down once and for all. Time and space does not allow me to recount the horrible tales of torture and murder that have taken place inside this town.

The Marines, meanwhile, continue their heroics. I could share with you accounts of severely wounded Sailors and Marines insisting that they can still hold a weapon and are still "in the fight" and other lesser wounded Marines refusing to be evacuated. There are Marines who exit friendly lines every day and commit acts of untold bravery that would inspire you as much as they humble me.

The difference between now and April is that the majority of Iraqis that we meet now ask us to enter the city. They are tired of the lawless hell that exists inside the city and are literally willing to have us rubble it to save it. I know it sounds strange but it is the reality here.

We also have an entire battalion of Iraqi Special Forces soldiers who have stepped forward. We have trained these guys and they are a different breed of cat altogether. They don't necessarily love us but they now have a bond with the Marines and operate jointly with them everyday. They shake their head at the hesitancy to resolve Fallouja and are willing to fight inside the city. It will be a very tough fight but in the end I just don't see how we can move forward as a coalition, or Iraq as a fledgling country, while this festering sore remains open.

'Getting settled in'

Beth is a 28-year-old lab Navy lab technician with a husband and a 1-year-old son named Cody back home. She arrived in Iraq late last month. Her blog, "A Labrat's Journey," is at www.desertdiet.blogspot.com.

August 30, 2004

Pretty good day

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