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Archive for the ‘peace’ Category

So. They want us out of there, right? Then explain this:

Thanks and Praise: I[, Michael Yon,] photographed men and women, both Christians and Muslims, placing a cross atop the St. John’s Church in Baghdad. They had taken the cross from storage and a man washed it before carrying it up to the dome.

I find this quite amazing and encouraging. Do you think we’ll ever see this on the evening news? Yes. Sadly, me neither. It does not fit the mold of the sectarian civil war. That is why it is so important that we have people such as Michael Yon on the ground bringing us the truth. [He is over there with only the support we provide for him. If you like hearing the truth and would like to support to support him, you may do so here. Thank you.]

I would like to share with you a couple of paragraphs he also wrote in this post.

A Muslim man had invited the American soldiers from “Chosen” Company 2-12 Infantry to the church, where I videotaped as Muslims and Christians worked and rejoiced at the reopening of St John’s, an occasion all viewed as a sign of hope.

The Iraqis asked me to convey a message of thanks to the American people. “Thank you, thank you,” the people were saying. One man said, “Thank you for peace.” [This one made me tear up with pride.] Another man, a Muslim, said “All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother.” The men and women were holding bells, and for the first time in memory freedom rang over the ravaged land between two rivers. (Videotape to follow.) [Continue reading.]

Actually, the whole article has me beaming. Imagine a city, a state, a country who has finally found freedom after so many years, decades of oppressions.

Our men and women are the best in the world, but they do not like that label. They are so humble. THAT is why I will stand up for them when they are attacked by idiots who know not of what they speak and when they are arrested unjustly. You bet your sweet touchy. God bless you for our freedom, and thank you for all your sacrifices. When you come home, I pray it is a joyous occasion. Godspeed.

This will be Thursday’s Open Trackback. It must be shared. If you are from the press, READ HIS WARNING for this post. There are ways to find you, and he shall not be ripped off again.

If you backtrack from here, all I ask is that you place a link in your article leading back to this article. Oh yes, no porn, also. Other than that, have at it, and have a great day.

Hat tip: Little Green Footballs.

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Posts I’ve trackbacked to: Perri Nelson’s Website, Dumb Ox Daily News, Nuke’s, Right Truth, Pirate’s Cove, The Amboy Times, Leaning Straight Up, High Desert Wanderer, Right Voices, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

Trackbacks to this post (most recent tb listed first): (Be right back, 12-14. Need to boot-up again. grrr.)

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    On Tuesday, September 18, 2007, Sierra Leone made history. One of the war-torn countries of Africa is now on the first steps towards a weak democracy. While it has been a quasi-democracy in the past, they were constantly at war with Charles Taylor, war-lord ousted of Liberia by the USA.

    DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — War-ravaged Sierra Leone’s peaceful transfer of power through the ballot box bodes well for a continent that has struggled against repression and conflict for half a century.

    But violence often simmers behind the democratic facade in Africa, where corruption is rife and a dying breed of tyrants remain.

    Sierra Leone’s run-off, in which Ernest Bai Koroma defeated Vice President Solomon Berewa, saw the opposition oust the ruling party — a rare occurrence in a region where power-hungry leaders keen to stay on have long used the machinery of state to their advantage.

    Observers praised the relatively smooth transition, though street brawls accompanied campaigning and looters ransacked Berewa’s party headquarters Monday as Koroma was sworn in. Police fired into the air to disperse the crowd and two people were electrocuted in the melee.

    Still, Sierra Leone’s vote strengthens hope for democratic change in Africa.

    Hope is the backbone of many beginnings. Just as important as peace, let us not forget about Sierra Leone is our prayers.

    Prior to the election, however, there was some very nasty assualts and riots. I didn’t have the time to write it down because I was busy moving, but I do remember reading about it. I knew there was something, and here it is! This is when the president was threatening to call a state of emergency. I would still offer caution.

    Here is some more background:

    After the brutality of the colonial era and the coups and dictatorships that followed, democracy began making inroads on the continent in the early 1990s, when the end of the Cold War spelled the collapse of support from the West or Moscow that had propped up so many tyrants. Leaders allowed opposition parties and held elections to show they were changing, but many were shams.

    Today, the state of democracy in Africa is mixed. Sierra Leone’s two neighbors provide an illustration: Liberia, emerging from its own civil war, held elections two years ago and has become a shining example of good governance. Guinea, on the other hand, is ruled by Lansana Conte, an aging dictator who has clung to power for 23 years through fear and fraudulent elections.

    Don’t Miss: Sierra Leone’s new president inaugurated.

    To understand the significance of this election (or the problems that may lay ahead), I have decided to ‘borrow’ the rest of the article. Most of time, CNN moves its articles, and I want you to have a place of reference. 🙂

    “We’re not out of the woods yet,” said Charles Doukubo of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs.

    Ozong Agborsangaya-Fiteu, a Cameroonian who works for the Washington-based democracy advocacy group Freedom House, said there had been “notable progress” in the last few years, citing recent elections in Liberia, Congo, Senegal, Mali and Mauritania that have been deemed free and fair.

    When Freedom House began ranking global levels of political rights and civil liberties in 1977, only three African nations were considered free. “Today there are 11,” Agborsangaya-Fiteu said. “There’s definitely movement in a positive direction, but we need to see more.”

    Freedom House’s 2007 report lists 23 other countries on the continent as partly free, with 19 more “not free.”

    “Democracy means more than being able to hold a peaceful election,” said Gross-Umstadt, Germany-based Eric A. Witte of the Democratization Policy Council, a nongovernmental advocacy group.

    The biggest challenge for Sierra Leone now is what happens after the vote. Will Koroma’s administration be able to tackle corruption and ease massive unemployment? Will it be able to keep the peace?

    Koroma’s party, in power for the first time since a 1992 coup, carries with it the baggage of years of mismanagement and corruption allegations.

    Witte said the elections largely reflected “ethnicity and patronage politics,” with Berewa doing well in ethnic Mende strongholds in the south, and Koroma doing well in Temne areas in the north.

    The vote “did not revolve very much around the very important issues that face Sierra Leone. It was more a popularity contest, a test of loyalties among different ethnic factions,” Witte said.

    Similar criticisms have been made against upcoming elections due by year’s end in Kenya, where the governing party is running on the endorsement of the corruption-addled party it defeated five years ago — back when it was hailed as the clean opposition.

    Witte said Sierra Leone’s people were unanimous in their widespread disgust with the ruling party’s failure to curb corruption. Carolyn Norris, Dakar-based West Africa Project Director for International Crisis Group, agreed.

    “They voted for substantial fundamental change — but actually instituting that change is the challenge now,” Norris said. “The new president will have his hands full.”

    The vote also reinforced the idea that a sitting president can stand down, Norris said. “There are still people around the continent who aren’t prepared to do that.”

    Sierra Leone’s departing President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah was barred by law from running for a third five-year term. Other countries have put constitutional caps on terms in office, including Nigeria and Mauritania’s former military junta, which organized a free vote and returned power to civilian rule earlier this year. Gabon, Uganda and Chad, on the other hand, have gone the other way, amending constitutions so incumbents can stay on.

    And many have.

    Cameroon’s Paul Biya has held power since 1982, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe since 1980, Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang since 1979. Gabon’s Omar Bongo has been president since 1967, the longest-serving head of state in Africa, second in the world only to Cuba’s Fidel Castro.

    Successful elections don’t always herald peace — and can sometimes be divisive.

    Burundi’s 1993 vote installed an ethnic Hutu in power, but the president was killed shortly after, sparking a civil war that only ended recently. A long-awaited presidential poll in Ivory Coast has twice been delayed because of the cocoa-producing nation’s civil war. The vote, expected next year, is likely to be tense, and a test of whether the country can turn its back on conflict.

    Nigeria’s elections this spring were deemed flawed by local and international observers who cited ballot-box stuffing, vote-rigging, lack of ballots in polling stations and voter intimidation.

    “Democracy in Africa is a work in progress. You can take a step forward, then take two steps back,” Doukubo said. “Africa is trying to embrace change, but … it needs time.”

    Sound familiar? I hope no one intends on ‘helping’ these people. They must learn to work out their problems on their own, and they are off to a great start. They have Charles Taylor incarcerated, he will face a court of some sorts (although if it’s from the UN? Don’t hold your breath!). Of course if they ask and the need is great, can we turn such a blind eye as we did in Darfur? Think about it…

    Sources: CNN and NewsFeed.

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    Peace in the Middle East!

    No, it is not my title. It is the title of an Israeli man, Abe, who is friends with a friend of mine, Bos’un. Bos’un sent me this e-mail because Abe does not yet have a blog of his own. I am proud to post his words and thoughts here.

    That elusive thing called peace. Israelis write love-songs and dedicate poetry to peace. Children are introduced to the concept in kindergarten and grow up believing in ultimate peace in the Middle East. Songs that have come out during Israel’s many wars have a verse or part of a verse dedicated to peace.

    What is this peace and how is it viewed? Israelis have a very naive and childlike picture of peace. As one battle hardened veteran tank officer once confided in me, “Peace means that we would go to their houses and they would come to ours.” A “cold peace” such as exists between Israel and Egypt was not imagined by most Israelis. Egypt turns a cold shoulder towards Israel but maintains a condition of “no war,” which is apparently as close as it permits itself to come to “peace.”

    Jordan, the other Arab country to have a peace agreement with Israel also distances itself from Israel socially. While the country has agreements with Israel that include agricultural, industrial and transportation, the people themselves are not exactly brimming with joy at the fact. This can be explained partially by the fact that over 70% of Jordan’s population is Palestinian.

    There is another reason why the two Arab countries that have a peace agreement with Israel seem standoffish towards it: Neither one of those two countries is a democracy. Israel is a democracy, and a very loud one. As Israel’s first Prime-Minister, David Ben-Gurion, said, “It’s difficult to be a Prime-Minister in a country full of Prime-Ministers.” Israelis are very vocal in their criticisms of politicians, authors, actors and many other “performers”. A friendly discussion between Israelis looks, to outsiders, as if a full-fledged battle is about to erupt.

    Not so in Egypt or Jordan. Criticism of the government is downright dangerous in Egypt. In Jordan it isn’t wise unless you are participating in a demonstration that is pro-Palestinian and, of course, anti-Israeli. The governments of both countries are wary of having their people get too close to Israelis and pick up their cavalier attitude towards government. French soldiers, while serving in America’s War of Independence, learned about democracy and about speaking out. They were one of the many seeds that eventually produced the French Revolution.

    The Arab governments of Egypt and Jordan wish to maintain control over their respective populations and, naturally, wish to keep them away from those “independent-minded troublemakers,” the Israelis.

    What do the people think? The regular Egyptian is a very friendly individual. He hates nobody and just wants to support his family (a very, very tough job in Egypt). On my first trip to Cairo after “peace” was established, I walked up to a street-vendor of peanuts and asked him how much the peanuts cost. Noticing that my Arabic was Palestinian dialect, he asked me where I was from. When I told him that I was from Israel, he thanked Allah and the prophets for permitting him to see the day that an Israeli could legally walk the streets of Cairo. He then told me that, for me, a serving of peanuts was free of charge. He was obviously a poor man and the price was, no doubt, considerate of Egyptian third-world incomes. My income, in Israel, was astronomic compared to his, and I argued with him, telling him that I wished to pay. He wouldn’t hear of it, and called to a friend, half a block away, a vendor of cold drinks, to give me a discount on such a hot day. I ended up sitting on the curb eating peanuts and drinking ice-cold “Tamar-Hindi” (a delicious drink derived from the “heart” of the date palm), while carrying on a hearty conversation with half a dozen Egyptians. The whole picture seemed surreal (and still does).

    And how about the Palestinians?

    I’m glad you asked me that question. This calls for a story: Once upon a time in 1968, I was in a car driven by a reserve infantry officer. I was at the time a tank driver and the third occupant of the car was a fellow tanker, a gunner, from my company. We were on our way to our camp at the Mitle Pass. We were passing through Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, when the driver realized we were low on gas. We drove through the town looking for a gas station. We finally asked a local who told us there was one near the market. We drove to the open-air market and, indeed, there was a gas station. Manning the pump, we looked around. We were surrounded by Arabs, all jabbering and trying to get close to us. We had an interesting conversation while filling gas. We were at their mercy, having two Uzis and a pistol between us. The crowd could have disarmed us and torn us to pieces in seconds. Instead, we enjoyed friendly banter and a loud, “Go in Peace,” when we were done.

    Later, I became very friendly with the workers at my sister’s farm. My sister and brother-in-law operate a farm just three km from the Gaza Strip border near Rafah. The workers would come every day and were like family. They demonstrated a willingness to support their families and live in peace. The last thing they wanted was to blow themselves up and take my brother-in-law with them.

    All this, of course, means nothing when the terror organizations come into play. The “silent majority” of the population will not lift a finger against Hamas in Gaza. They are terrified of them and just bow their heads waiting for the storm to pass. In the meantime, Hamas fires rockets at Israel (including my sister’s village) and Israel holds back because of the innocent people in Gaza. Israel retaliates when Israelis get killed. There is a bit of quiet, and the story begins again within days.

    Peace in the Middle East? It can only come about when a common enemy unites the moderates. I remember in 1969 (I think) General Shlomo Goren landed with a helicopter in the middle of our tank park. The battalion was parked in two rows with a large empty area of desert in the middle. The Bell Huey landed in the center sending a whirlwind of sand down our throats. The Chief Chaplain of the IDF General Rabbi Shlomo Goren stepped out and began to speak. He was a great speaker and we were mesmerized. One thing remains stuck in my head from that speech: “The lord doesn’t rely on the Jews. He knows we can’t be relied upon. Rather, he relies on our enemies. He knows that they will not lay down their arms until we have attained everything he intends us to.”

    Maybe, just maybe, the extremists are doing just that; forcing the moderates to co-operate. The less extreme Arab countries are beginning to realize what the monster is capable of, and they see that Israel is a solid force to rally behind. Many problems can be solved under the threatening shadow of Muslim extremism.

    But then again, maybe I’m just a nai¯ve Israeli.

    Abe

    He writes very movingly, and I hope you will all visit Bos’un’s site to let him know. This way, he can encourage his friend to go ahead and set up a blog and let ‘er rip! 🙂

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    29 Aug 07
    By Cpl. Ryan M. Blaich, II
    Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
    .

    HABBANIYAH, Iraq – When a group of American military advisors deployed to Iraq and took over a small combat outpost on the outskirts of town recently, they knew the task ahead might get tough, but each day would be rewarding. The Marines and sailors that make up Military Transition Team 13, working alongside the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, are increasing the security of the area and the quality of life for local residents as well.

    They operate out of a dusty, war-faced outpost named the OK Corral. They usually work long hours, patrolling streets with Iraqi soldiers or standing post overlooking the Euphrates River. They cook each meal themselves, because there is no chow hall to feed the 14 Marines, two corpsmen and company of Iraqi soldiers. They have learned to adapt, dealt with sweltering heat and braved the roadways of a foreign land.

    Many of the men of MTT 13 have been to Iraq before, making them ideal candidates for an advisory team. The soldiers that make up 1st Battalion are veteran war fighters as well; hardened by battles past, experienced in combat operations. Perhaps that is why the people in this area trust the Iraqi soldiers.

    Habbaniyah acts as a corridor in a crucial area, known as Jazerria, located between the once terrorist safe heaven cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. Nowadays, people go about their lives freely while searching for jobs, attending schools, plowing fields and shopping in crowded markets without fear of being shot in the crossfire of combat.

    “The IAs have won the trust of the people,” said Cpl. Jason Syvrud an infantryman attached to MTT 13. “People see that they’re here, the area is safe, they are happy that their families aren’t at risk anymore. The IA is here to help the whole country and get this back on its feet. The people are loving to see the change. The country as a whole is trying to rebuild.”

    Syvrud is only 22, but is currently serving his third tour in Iraq. He has been in cities where it was difficult to trust the citizens. But now he has seen a significant change in the war and in the people. He feels pride in his advisory role, knowing each day is bringing comfort to strangers he once felt uncomfortable around.

    “I’ve seen in the three times I’ve been here this country has done a complete 180. It’s gone from everyone not knowing what to do and being scared to do anything, to them starting to come out and finding out what a democratic society would be like,” he said. “Now, they are really trying to get involved. They are building their schools up, they’re building up the mosques, their homes. They’re trying to find jobs. It looks more and more like a typical American rural area. The majority of the people seem happy. They’re doing what they have to do to survive and building a life out of this.”

    Safety is what brings out the smiles and trust of the townspeople Syvrud said. The locals are involved with the Iraqi Army now. They help locate possible terrorists. They have begun to rebuild their community by fixing up schools, roads and mosques. The province is still early in reconstruction efforts, but the transition seems to be working as planned.

    Getting the soldiers to understand the benefits of civil engagements, such as the civil medical engagements, is a priority for MTT 13 team chief, Lt. Col. Thomas Hobbs. Transition teams have assisted in several CMEs, which provide medical care to people who would normally have to travel to Ramadi to see a doctor. With more than 16 years of experience in the Marine Corps, Hobbs said focusing on civil affairs can not only counter the insurgent’s propaganda, but win the hearts and minds of law-abiding citizens.

    “This battalion tends to be very focused on conventional operations. What I mean by that is in a counter-insurgency environment they are enamored with cache sweeps, security patrolling,” Hobbs said. “They should be focusing on civil affairs information operations and focusing on the population as a whole. The security level right now allows for that, so I’m trying to teach them to think in that manner.”

    Hobbs praised the Iraqi company commanders for understanding the impact civil affairs has on the war efforts. “They have been very willing to get out and meet the population and doing civil affairs projects on their own, even without money. We’ve been really successful in getting the companies to move and they’re actually initiating a lot of things I want to change or make better,” he said.

    Hobbs said the predominately Shiite Army has been received with open arms by the Anbari locals, who are mainly Sunni. A huge reason for this may lie in the idea of getting his team of advisors to stress the importance of making the population comfortable to Iraqi leaders. It is his philosophy that if the people are happy and satisfied with their life, then the terrorists will no longer have the ability to move freely within the community. He said the company and platoon leaders have begun to buy into the civil affairs mindset. As a result, the city has not seen any escalation in force in more than two months.

    The soldiers of 1-3-1 can fight, that has been proven during the past year and a half of combat operations. Hobbs said the battalion is known throughout the Iraqi Army for its ability to engage and defeat the enemy, and that is what the terrorists should realize. The mission now is to concentrate on keeping this rural area safe and prospering. The smiles on children are evidence enough that the plan is working.

    “I feel proud when I look around and see the kids and people smiling,” Syvrud said. “They’re happy when the Army and Marines come walking around, they aren’t afraid of us anymore. They’re happy with themselves, they’re happy with the environment around them and they’re striving to get better. They’re not just satisfied with things, they want it better, just like any American does.”

    Photo – Lt. Col. Thomas Hoobs, team chief for Military Transition Team 13, talks to members of the Iraqi Security Forces during an inspection of a local bridge. Keeping roadways safe and drivable not only helps navigation of anti-terrorist traffic, but is part of a wider ranging civil affairs mission of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Iraqi Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division.

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    For those of you who do not who Michael Yon is, he is a citizen journalist who has been in Iraq and Afghanistan for most of the war with the only support coming from you and me. He is giving us the news that most ‘journalists’ are afraid to go forth and find the facts about their articles. Michael, on the other hand, goes right out there with the Marines, Soldiers, and whomever will have him.

    Here are some of his latest writings:

    These are all must reads, so I cannot say which one to prefer. If I had to, however, I think it might be the last one (but certainly not the least one!). Please find his donations tab, and help him with whatever you can. He truly appreciates any amount you can spare. Like I said, he’s on his own (with us and for us). Thank you.

    Linkfest Haven, the Blogger's Oasis Add this post to Fark Add this post to Technorati Add this post to Del.icio.us Digg!

    I have chosen this article as my Linkfest today because I really admire Michael Yon. I may not agree with him all the time, but hey? How boring that would be! lol.

    PS. If I’ve trackbacked to you and your name is not on here, that is because I went to your site and my name was not on your post. My apologies if I made a mistake. Please notify me, and I will correct it. Thank you.

    These are the posts that I have trackbacked to: Perri Nelson’s Website, DeMediacratic Nation, Adam’s Blog, Right Truth, Leaning Straight Up, Conservative Cat, third world county, Pirate’s Cove, Planck’s Constant, Republican National Convention Blog, Right Pundits, Blue Star Chronicles, Webloggin, The Virtuous Republic, Faultline USA, Big Dog’s Weblog, Right Truth, CommonSenseAmerica and Right Voices, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

    These are the great people with wisdom who have chosen to trackback to me, lol:

  • CommonSenseAmerica: Attempted Kidnapping of a 5-Year-Old Texas Girl.
  • Planck’s Constant: The AFLAC Scam.
  • Webloggin: Craig Plays the Victim.
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    8 Aug 07
    By Cpl. Eric C. Schwartz
    2nd Marine Division
    .

    HUSAYBAH, Iraq – It was a quiet morning patrol; a standard Alpha Company mission. Donkeys, attached to carts, were unmanned while their owners were just waking up to the sound of roosters making their morning calls. The Marines were heading directly to solve a mystery. Who shot up a citizen’s house and why?

    “We had an intelligence-driven patrol where a house was shot up a week ago,” said Cpl. Travis Banks, a team leader with 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marines attached to Regimental Combat Team 2.

    Marines are trained in various ways to combat terrorism, whether it is a full-scale battle, investigative searches or looking for rogue Iraqi policeman or local gangsters. “These people are tired of being threatened by the insurgents,” said Cpl. Brian McNeill, a Springfield, Mo., native and team leader with A Company.

    Husaybah used to be a hotbed for insurgency activity, but after years of fighting Marines, the townspeople now want to live in peace and realize the insurgents were only there to cause destruction. The new battle is winning the “hearts and minds” of the people here and that’s done by showing Marines care about the citizens here and by keeping fear away from their homes.

    “The big fighting is done, but the insurgents are trying to intimidate the people,” said Cpl. Peter Andrisevic, a rifleman with A Company. A handful of bullet holes in someone’s door won’t make the strong-willed citizens cower to insurgents, but the quicker the culprits are found, the quicker the people can go on living in peace.

    “This is a dramatic change from OIF II,” Banks said. “This is a one-hundred and eighty degree turn around from what I saw before.” Operation Iraqi Freedom II had major battles in large cities throughout Iraq, but this intelligence-driven war for the safety of Husaybah uses information from its people to capture insurgents and Al Qaeda in Iraq.

    “The people who know the most are the average citizens,” Andrisevic said. Insurgents and AQI [al Qaida in Iraq] know the Iraqi Army and Police, and the Marines are hunting them down through intelligence gathered by citizens looking for justice and peace, so they hide in towns like Husaybah, using guerrilla tactics. “Insurgents are hiding here as a resting area,” Andrisevic said. “They aren’t trying to find us but we’re trying to find them.”

    The enemy can’t hide forever because the people don’t want them in their town. Husaybah thrives off trade and business, and without safety and security, they can’t do either. Working with the newly formed government and coalition forces seems to be the right way in their minds.

    “An IP called in with information about a weapons cache,” McNeill said. The Marine said the IP was a former supporter of the insurgency here but has joined the police force and now fights for the peace and prosperity of his people. The people here want their families to live in peace. Coalition forces want them to have peace.

    “If we don’t stabilize the area and find the insurgents, we’ve wasted the last four years here,” Andrisevic said.

    Photo – Cpl. Peter Andrisevic, a rifleman with Alpha Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marines attached to Regimental Combat Team 2 listens to a citizen early morning about shots fired a week ago into his neighbor’s home. Alpha Company Marines had an intelligence-driven patrol investigating who shot at the citizen’s home and why. Photo by Cpl. Eric C. Schwartz.

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    Ye hum naheen; Not in our name

    This is one ‘not in our name’ I can really agree with and appreciate.

    Hat tip: Dagney.

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