Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Military Advantage

My latest op-ed column from WND.

The military advantage

Posted: September 13, 2008
1:00 am Eastern

The military is one of the most consistently respected institutions of the United States, and in this election season, you can't beat having a strong military ties when running for commander in chief.

Sen. John McCain is the best example of America's respect for those who have worn the uniform. It's a difficult year for Republicans, but the fact that voters even give McCain the time of the day is due to the many days McCain spent in a North Vietnamese prison as a POW.

This gaffe caused Kerry to give up his hopes of becoming president.

Presidential politics were not always favorable toward Vietnam veterans. Bill Clinton ran as a renegade promoting the fact that he participated in anti-Vietnam War rallies and suggested he had successfully dodged the draft. That would be unthinkable today. cont...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

AP Comes Around

The Associated Press recently released the following story that normally would make the rounds throughout the media, however it was, unfortunately, released on Saturday...the worst day for releasing a major news item.

*Michael Yon just wrote to call this dispatch a bit of "common sense".

Analysis: US now winning Iraq war that seemed lost

By ROBERT BURNS and ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press WritersSat Jul 26, 7:08 PM ET

The United States is now winning the war that two years ago seemed lost. Limited, sometimes sharp fighting and periodic terrorist bombings in Iraq are likely to continue, possibly for years. But the Iraqi government and the U.S. now are able to shift focus from mainly combat to mainly building the fragile beginnings of peace — a transition that many found almost unthinkable as recently as one year ago.

Despite the occasional bursts of violence, Iraq has reached the point where the insurgents, who once controlled whole cities, no longer have the clout to threaten the viability of the central government.

That does not mean the war has ended or that U.S. troops have no role in Iraq. It means the combat phase finally is ending, years past the time when President Bush optimistically declared it had. The new phase focuses on training the Iraqi army and police, restraining the flow of illicit weaponry from Iran, supporting closer links between Baghdad and local governments, pushing the integration of former insurgents into legitimate government jobs and assisting in rebuilding the economy.

Scattered battles go on, especially against al-Qaida holdouts north of Baghdad. But organized resistance, with the steady drumbeat of bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and ambushes that once rocked the capital daily, has all but ceased.


Friday, May 16, 2008

The media has a tendency to cast the military in Iraq as either villains or victims, but they are rarely viewed as humorous. At a checkpoint, this Marine shows both levity and bravado in a situation that can quickly turn from droll to dire.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fiction and Superheroes

Iron Man the movie is a great thrill, inspired by a comic book series that began in the 60's. Tony Stark, a weapons manufacturer, visits Afghanistan to test a new weapon system code named Jericho. Stark is kidnapped by an international group whose members look suspiciously like terrorists. This group has a compound and plenty of armament that, as fate would have it, comes from Stark's company--Stark Enterprises.


Seeing that the fruit of his labors actually causes destruction for so many innocents, Stark escapes and dedicates himself to a pacifist way of life swearing off the production of weapons. Nevertheless, Iron Man is brought into one fight after another and decides that he alone can protect the unprotected. In other words, he'd like everyone to disarm, while he (a child prodigy and MIT graduate) remains the only one with any fire power, because he has the best of intentions.

I've reads thousands of comics as a kid, but as an adult I see just how left-wing comic books have always been, and now that they are made into movies it's that much harder to avoid the simplistic cliches. A reporter chides Tony Stark for being a "merchant of death", but Stark is quick to give his pedigree as a patriot--his father was key in the construction of the atomic bomb used to end the War in the Pacific. As the movie continues, Stark's conscious even relativizes the roll his father played and wonders if the bomb was justified--as if the Japanese were going to surrender if you asked them politely enough.

Throughout the movie Iron Man, the characters are categorically skeptical of the government's motives, but are not terribly curious about what motivated the terrorists in Afghanistan. In fact, the whole conflict in Afghanistan is sanitized to exclude religion or responsibility--none of the Afghan women are shown in the socially mandatory burkha. We learn that the head honcho of the terrorists, a shaved head Arabic-speaking tyrant, wants to "rule the world" like any other generic evil dude.

I always enjoyed comics as a kid, maybe it was the storytelling, where my imagination filled in the gaps between the panels. In the movies the artistic team has more control over the presentation, so things like ideology have a much more prominent role.

Going all the way back to 1938, one of Superman's first crusades was against "war profiteers", arms manufacturers, fueling a fictional conflict in Latin America. The two youngmen who created the Man of Steel were social progressives projecting their frustrations and solutions through a superhuman character. Despite seventy years later and leap to the big screen, not much has changed.

Universal Care for Health?

Pic_0666The 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment from Camp Lejeune, set out to provide the local population, just outside of Fallujah, with basic health care. These knuckle jarheads risk their lives and limbs to bring eye drops and aspirin to people who often have no indoor plumbing, but share a feed to international satellite television with the neighbors. Iraq is a place of surrealistic contrasts, of power games that are counter-intuitive and images that can be as clear as the piercing blue sky or as grainy as the sugar powdered dirt. Between car bombs and cough syrup, many inhabitants of al Anbar have decided to just say no to violence both imported and domestic.

Continue reading "Universal Care for Health?" »

Live Leak--Video of Afghanistan

Projects, Governors and converts. Check out the sites sounds of Afghanistan at my channel.

Sheik Sattar Assasinated!

Update: Sheik Sattar was just killed by an enormous explosion that was felt on Camp Ramadi more than a mile away.


I just finished interviewing one of Iraq's most fascinating people, Sheik Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi, the man accredited with starting the Anbar Awakening. I'll print the interview in depth shortly, but a small introduction is in order.

Sheik Sattar is one of the few real sheiks in a country that currently has a lot of wannabe sheiks. An Anbari born and breed, Sheik Sattar lost his father and three brothers when al Qaeda pulled into town.

Charismatic, determined and very ambitious we may see a lot more of Sheik Sattar in the near future, his role in the Awakening could make Ramadi the next Gettysburg.

The Ramadi Run


In Iraq, everything before the fall of Saddam Huseein seems to have faded from collective memory, but in Ramadi, the Anbari capital of one of Iraq’s most important provinces, the general agreement was that an organized race in the streets of the city had not taken place for nearly a decade.

Ramadi was the focal point in the once infamous Sunni Triangle. Marines from the 1/6 and 3/7 out of Camp Lejeune and 29 Palms fought up and down the streets that were now a flag spangled race route. The Northwest bridge was the starting point, but the year before it was also prohibited territory as it provides no cover from possible sniper fire. A Marine set off the starting flare.

Runners burst down Route Michigan, once known for IED’s, leaned left toward Racetrack and sprinted to the finish line at Firecracker, within walking distance from Ice Cream and the 17th Street Joint Security Station the 3rd Battalion, 7th Lima Company Marines called home. Marines have a wry sense of humor and many of the street names reflected significant events, some good—many bad.

Corporal Mickey Schaetzle, a Marine infantryman who patrolled the streets during his last tour with the 3/7 Marines in 2006, said he could barely believe this was the same Ramadi where his fellow Marine were wounded—some killed. The Colorado native prefers this tour, “Things are a lot better this time.”

Spectators mobbed the winner of the race even before he crossed the finish line. In a sign of how much the security situation has changed, Captain Marcus Mainz, Lima’s company commander, danced with local Iraqis as everyone hailed the city’s improved security. “You just couldn’t’ have done this last year, you just couldn’t,” repeated Marine 1st Lieutenant Mauro Mujica.

It's an honor to cover the men and women here in Iraq, they are truly the best our country has to offer. I really thank all those who have supported me so far, I could not have done it without you.

I promise to keep bringing you the stories, images and details you won't find in the mainstream media, I also promise to bring you the voices of those you hear the least--the troops here on the ground.

Thanks for listening and I appreciate all the mail.

Keep those comments coming and take the polls!


Matt Sanchez

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Life In Saddam's Palace




Life in Saddam's palace

Former dictator's residence now home to U.S. military

By Matt Sanchez
© 2007

1aThe origins of the name Baghdad are almost certainly Persian, but even that is disputed by a people who see the nation of Iran as the greatest threat to the country of Iraq. Baghdad has been host to many visitors, both invited and otherwise. "FOB Prosperity" (FOB means Forward Operating Base) is an Army base in the Green Zone – and resident to the previous government. In the past, Saddam Hussein paraded his Republican Guard beneath the Hands of Victory, arches formed by two fists and dual swords. The monument was built to commemorate victory over Iran, two years before the war was declared a stalemate.

Returning military forces marched, in columns, down the parade grounds, eyes right to the former ruler. I met a Baghdadi who called those days a special event for all of Baghdad. Everyone was invited. Today, the Green Zone is named the International Zone – and its streets are reserved for the very few possessing authorized access. In Baghdad, change is inevitable, but complete upheaval is what has truly marked this city so near the cradle of civilization.

Continue reading "Life In Saddam's Palace" »

The Killing Field

The Jamia District is the home to the Baghdad "killing field". It's nothing impressive to look at, lots of trash in an empty field, but more bodies have been dumped in this plot than any other place before. Major Norrie also fought in the Haifa Street Ambush on January 6th, 2007.

I'd like to continue to provide my audience with unique first-person reports that you won't get from the mainstream media. I can only do that with your support. I've had enormous feedback and support so far and I thank you for your contribution.

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