August 03, 2004

Relieved and Sad

This is the latest from Dave. A few weeks ago while listening to NPR, I heard of the death of a Marine (and the wounding of several others) due to a car bomb and my heart skipped. The silence of Dave's parents assured me of his living, but I prayed for the fallen Marine and his family. In this latest letter, Dave intimates us with SSgt Clark and familiarizes us with this Marine's contribution to the Corps; his men; the war. He also accurately and informatively categorizes the enemy he and his Marines are fighting.

Read on.

Dear Dad -

We have been very active since my last update. Fallujah remains a closed city but we have made real progress in targeting and destroying the enemy where we find him. We know that our efforts have been effective and have a significant effect on the extremists inside the city. At the same time, we have gotten better at communicating our desire to improve the lives of the average citizens should they elect to cooperate.

The city remains divided. It is a lawless sanctuary for all kinds of criminal and enemy elements. It has a history of being relatively incorrigible and Iraqis from outside the city regularly tell us that "the only solution is to level the city." The history of the city and the animosity of other Iraqis toward it has cultivated a level of xenophobia that results in astounding levels of paranoia and isolationism.

Today the city is dominated by three different elements. The most dangerous are the extremists who are religious ideologues. These would be your classic Islamic Terrorist who's twisted view of the world is one that cannot coexist with anyone who does not only agree with their beliefs, but who willingly submit to the severe limitations of individual freedoms that the beliefs entail. To be frank, these elements will never accept a peaceful coexistence with free people. Their rhetoric and will to enforce their extremist beliefs are mutually exclusive with anything but direct conflict. We will be fighting them until a clear winner is determined.

Like so many of history's failed villains, these terrorists truly believe that free people can be broken and do not possess the will to persevere in the face of real adversity. For this very reason, they have adopted terrorist tactics and publicly celebrate their violent acts like filming beheadings and flying airliners into buildings. On the local level, they put these filmed execution on videos and sell them in the markets. In less supportive areas, they give them away. They specifically target disenfranchised young men who feel as though they have no real hope of ever overcoming their current circumstances. These men are without any real opportunity and latch onto the first real thing that A) offers them something to do; and B) gives them a sense of belonging. It is very similar to how gangs recruit and survive back in the states.

However, these "gangs" are much more lethal and committed to a global agenda of spreading their fundamentalist ideas. There is no reasoning with these groups. In fact it is alarming that mature nations have succumbed so quickly to their terror tactics and have withdrawn their troops in the face of threats. No doubt it is a cultural issue because it is impossible to fathom how these nations can believe that the very people who have acted so wickedly against them and compelled them to bend to the enemy's will on a globally humiliating stage are now capable of restraint and possibly compassion. The unfortunate reality is that by breaking ranks, these nations have diminished their own security and those of other nations committed to fight terrorism around the globe.

The second element in the city is the criminals. There are many of them. These are no different than the criminals that run loose in all of our cities except that they are better armed. The city is known throughout Iraq as a haven for criminals, smugglers and hijackers. It has been this way forever. There is simply no way that on our watch, we are going to change the criminal culture of the city. We will have to endure the second group until we can build up the Iraqi Security Forces to the point where they can police themselves.

The third and final element is the unemployed men and those who have had family members killed by the coalition. These guys fight us for a variety of reasons: to overcome their humiliation of watching their country be "occupied" so quickly; to avenge the death of a brother or son; or simply because they have very little else to do.

We are working hard to reach out to the third group and overcome the world media that fans the hatred and resistance in these men. To date we have been relatively ineffective in communicating our vision for Iraq to this element (one of a free and prosperous people who are completely autonomous). Most of us still believe that if we continue to weigh in and work at establishing a dialogue with this group, they may be less hostile and less willing to pick up arms against us. What they need now are jobs and opportunity to do something other than hang out and fight us.

The first group we will fight. There is no doubt that we must win this fight. I was going to say that if we lost, the fight would follow us home. However, the reality is that it already has. Hopefully this group will continue to underestimate our resolve. We will continue to destroy them where ever we find them while we work painstakingly to reduce the conditions that permit the third group. This week we have found many and eliminated them from the fight.

I want to close by telling you about a Marine that we lost last week. His name was Staff Sergeant Mike Clark. He was with us last year with TF SCORPION. SSgt Clark was as brave as any man I have ever known.

He was an explosives expert. Immediately after the ground war last year during the "honeymoon period" he risked his life countless times to remove dangerous unexploded ordinance from Iraqi yards, playgrounds and farms while crowds of grateful people watched. We were all amazed at his stamina and ability to connect with the people.

As the summer began, we were moved farther north and found ourselves in the epicenter of the insurgency. He was among the first men to get out and daily handle the multiple improvised explosive devices that were laid against our Marines. He also accompanied us on countless raids and detonated thousands and thousands of pounds of insurgent munitions that we captured. More than all of that, he was a truly decent man who was immensely popular with everyone in the task force.

He was killed by a car bomb. One of our units was coming off a raid site while the enemy engaged security elements staged some distance away. After a running engagement that included rockets and small arms, a car that was used by the enemy was found with rockets around it. SSgt Clark's unit responded to the scene in order to make sure the car was not a bomb. Upon his arrival, he improved the standoff of the Marines on security and then made a solitary approach to the car. As he looked in the window, he saw a detonation device and radioed it into the rest of his team and told him that he was breaking contact. As he was moving away from the car, the bomb went off and killed him instantly. He left behind many friends and a family that loved him very much.

We will miss him.

Semper Fi,


Posted by Rae at August 3, 2004 06:27 PM | TrackBack

Sigh, another Marine to guard the streets of Heaven...

Semper Fi.

Posted by: robert at August 5, 2004 06:31 AM

I agree with this soldier, it is as Mr bush said,
Your either with us or your against us.
It is time for all to stand and be counted, or get out of the way so we can clean up.
These islamic terrorists have no feelings of humanity towards any person who does not lay down like a cowering dog at their feet.

there is one thing I have noticed, the silent Moslem countries who say they support the war against terror, secretly talk about christians and westerners deserving death, and how we are inferior to them in every way, because we do not bow to their god.

But if we turn and say we will launch a crusade against the terrorists, we are labeled racist,bigoted, etc...
when will people realise they want us dead, they do not want to talk.

onya USA, while the world talks then winges, you fight on. how quickly they forget who saved their asses in WW1 & 2.

from an ex Digger in the the great southern land.

Posted by: kila at November 15, 2004 08:51 AM
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