- Nov 22, 2003
This is what MSM used to be like, yes even Dan Rather in Vietnam. The prose is beautiful, but the pictures are breathtaking:
...The wind hasnt blown hard in Mosul since 2005, but there are still a lot of holes in the lumber that frames its slow but undeniable reconstruction. Only about a single battalion of American soldiers is left here. There has been indisputable progress in building ISF in Mosul. I have seen it demonstrated on missions that I have not written about. But the decision to precipitously draw down American forces in Mosul was not chiefly predicated to sync with those ISF successes. In truth, we simply do not have enough nails in Iraqwe never didand so nails have been pulled from Mosul to pound into Baghdad and Anbar.
Mosul is poised. Mosul is poised to become an example of progress and success. Yet with each passing day here, it becomes clear that Mosul is at least as equally poised to fall again into the wretched chaos of crime, violence and anarchy that define certain other areas of Iraq.
This sign is likely familiar to thousands of American soldiers who patrolled West Mosul, and if they see this sign, there is a good chance they remember it in context of serious fighting near Yarmook Traffic Circle. During my first mission in Mosul in April, 2005, a suicide car-bomber filled with artillery shells and a flame accelerant rammed into a stryker killing two Americans and one interpreter.
The small contingent of American combat forces remaining in Mosul is commanded by a lieutenant colonel of limited renown. With about 700 soldiers in his battalion, he commands roughly one soldier for every 3,000 citizens. Most of the outcome of the American effort in Iraq comes down to a small number of anonymous battalions which shoulder the bulk of the combat load in places like Ramadi, Baqubah, Basra (UK), Baghdad and here in Mosul.
If Americans really wanted to know their Army, American kids would be swapping trading cards of the battalion commanders and command sergeant majors, company commanders and 1st sergeants, and those legions of unknown squad-leaders who earn three Purple Hearts and decorations for valor before they are old enough to rent cars back home....
...Lieutenant Colonel Eric Welsh commands the 2-7 Cavalry battalion in Mosul. He goes into combat every day. Orphaned at the age of nine, Welsh grew up in a foster home and became an Army infantry officer. During a tour at the Pentagon, a clue fell into his lap that led him to an uncle he never knew existed. Eric Welsh was already a lieutenant colonel when he managed to locate his previously-unknown uncle, a retired Vietnam fighter pilot who had grown leery of the press. Unsavory journalists had used all means, including ruses, to contact the uncle about his own father.
When LTC Welsh contacted his Uncle Greg, his uncle didnt know he had a nephew named LTC Eric Welsh, and so Uncle Greg greeted Eric Welsh with suspicion. Uncle Greg, it happens, is the son of Pappy Boyington, Medal of Honor recipient, former POW, so renowned for his ferocity and courage that a famous television show was built around his fighting-life, and the accomplishments of the Black Sheep Squadron he led during World War II. And so, in a bizarre twist, a huge part of what could be the end-game in the Battle for Mosul rests largely on the shoulders Pappy Boyingtons grandson, Eric Welsh...