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For Release: May 12, 2004
A Combat Soldier Writes From Iraq: "I Ask the American People to be Brave"
Letter Provides Soldier's-Eye-View of U.S. Progress
The National Center for Public Policy Research today has posted online a just-received e-mail from a soldier, Spc. Joe Roche, who is actively involved in combat missions against Al Sadr's forces in Iraq.
The letter is based on notes Spc. Roche took while on missions. It explains what Roche says are "our four main goals against Sadr" and a soldier's-eye-view of the progress the U.S. is making on the ground in achieving these goals.
Because the letter is intense and compelling, it has been published online by The National Center without abridgment (save for the removal of the name of an injured soldier).
The letter itself is over 1,700 words. Some brief excerpts follow:
"The fighting we are engaged in against the uprising of Muqtada Al-Sadr is one that is extremely sensitive and risks catastrophe. Had we entered this previously, it would not have been possible for us to win. Over the months, we have been involved in preparations and much planning. Thus, today we are scoring amazing successes against this would-be tyrant. I ask that the American people be brave. Don't fall for the spin by the weak and timid amongst you that are portraying this battle as a disaster. Such people are always looking for our failure to justify and rescue their constant pessimism. They are raising false flags of defeat in the press and media. It just isn't true."
"...today are in a climactic battle against him and his militia. When the remnants of Saddam's regime were in full uprising in Fallujah, Sadr thought his time had come to make his bid for total power and to oust the US from Baghdad. He was very wrong. It has been subtle and very well done by our leaders. You should be proud. It would have seemed impossible to have achieved our four main goals against Sadr even just a few months ago. Now today, despite the message of the pessimists who are misleading you into despair, we are have scored all the victories needed to bring this battle to a close. First goal was to isolate Sadr. Second was to exile him from his power-base in Baghdad. Third was to contain his uprising from spreading beyond his militias. And the last goal was to get both his hard-line supporters to abandon him, and to do encourage moderates to break from him. This has been done brilliantly, and now we are on the march in a way that just months ago seemed impossible to do. Sadr is losing everything."
"...Shia leaders are breaking from him now in large numbers. The overall Shia leader of Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, has left Sadr's call for jihad and uprising to flounder on deaf ears. Bremmer and Gen. Abizaid stunned the overall Shia community by negotiating a calm in Fallujah. That has tail-spinned Sadr and his efforts to intimidate Iraq's Shia leaders. They see the US hand is strong, and that therefore they are making a mistake in kowtowing to Sadr's terror and violence."
"I'm not writing you blind to the casualties this is causing us. My battalion, the 16th Armored Engineers, should be home reunited w/ family and friends after serving a full year here. Instead, we are still here where the temp is reaching 115-125 degrees. And some of my fellow soldiers have fallen. Units of my battalion are right in the front of the fighting. Your prayers are needed. [A soldier] lost his eyes and a hand last week. The surgeons are trying to salvage his hand now by re-attaching it. This tragedy is a real nightmare. Another suffered shrapnel wounds in his abdomen. Others have been cut badly. Miracle of miracles, however, Sgt. Morales on Friday was shot in the CVC (helmet) -- the bullet ricocheted around his head and fired into the back of his seat, never cutting his skin!!!"
"You need to know that your soldiers are working their hardest. My unit is just one of many in this fight. What you need to do is be strong and persistent in your faith with us. Sadr's militia is in panic and desperate, so they are dangerous, but you need to keep this all in perspective. The pessimists would have you believe this is a disaster. Don't listen to them... Eliminating Sadr's threat is part of the overall mission and we are further ensuring the liberation of the Iraqi people. This has to be done, and we are doing it. Don't be seduced by those who would rather that we sit back and just enjoy the freedoms past generations of Americans have sacrificed to gain for us. This is our time to earn it. I remember President Bush saying after the September 11th attacks: 'The commitment of our Fathers is now the calling of our time.'"
Spc. Joe Roche serves with the 16th Engineering Battalion of the 1st Armored Division, which is part of a quick deployment force tasked with dealing with sudden eruptions by enemy forces within Iraq. More information about Joe, other commentaries he has written, and information (including an address and suggested items) about sending care packages to soldiers fighting in Iraq can be accessed at http://www.nationalcenter.org/RochePage.html online.
The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-partisan, conservative/free-market think-tank established in 1982 and located on Capitol Hill. It can be visited at http://www.nationalcenter.org online.
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