Musings of the Chronologically Challenged™ Fourth Generation
Saturday, July 19, 2003
From The Horse's Mouth, so to speak
Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2003 10:04 PM
Subject: Current Events Letter From a U.S. Army Major in Iraq to His Church
OPEN LETTER TO THE FIRST LUTHERAN CHURCH OF RICHMOND BEACH
It has been a while since I have written to my friends at First Lutheran Church about what's really going on here in Iraq. The news you watch on TV is exaggerated, sensationalized and selective. Good news doesn't sell. The stuff you don't hear about on CNN? Let's start with Electrical Power production in Iraq. The day after the war was declared over, there was nearly 0 power being generated in Iraq; 45 days later, in a partnership between the Army, the Iraqi people and some private companies, there are now 3200 mega watts (Mw) of power produced daily, or 1/3 of the total national potential. Downed power lines ( big stuff, 400 Kilovolt (Kv) and 132 Kv) are being repaired and are now about 70% complete.
Then there is water purification. In central Iraq between Baghdad and Mosul, home of the 4th Infantry Division, water treatment was spotty at best. The facilities existed, but the controls were never implemented. Simple chemicals like Chlorine for purification and Alum (Aluminum Sulfate) for sediment settling (the Tigris River is about as clear as the Mississippi River) were in very short supply. Or not used at all. And when chlorine was used, it was metered by guessing. So some people got pool water to drink and some people got water with lots of little things floating around in it. We are slowly but surely solving that. Contracts for repairs to facilities [that are only 50% or less operational ] are being let. Chemicals are being delivered, although we don't have the metering problem solved yet (... but again, it's only been 45 days).
How about oil and fuel? Well the war was all about oil wasn't it? You bet it was. It was all about oil for the Iraqi people ! They have no other income. They produce nothing else. Oil is 95% of the Iraqi GNP. For this nation to survive, it MUST sell oil. The Refinery at Bayji is at 75% of capacity in producing gasoline. The crude oil pipeline between Kirkuk (Oil Central) and Bayji will be repaired by tomorrow (2 June). LPG, what all Iraqi's use to cook and heat with, is at 103% of normal production. And WE, the US ARMY, are insuring it is being distributed FAIRLY to ALL Iraqi's. You have to remember that only 3 months ago, ALL these things were used by the Sadam regime as weapons against the population to keep them in line. If your town misbehaved, gasoline shipments stopped .. LPG pipelines and trucks stopped .. water was turned off .. power was turned off. Now, until exports start again, every drop of gasoline produced goes to the Iraqi people. Crude oil production is being stored and the country is at 75% capacity right now. They need to export or stop pumping soon, ... so thank the UN for that delay. ALL LPG goes to the Iraqi people EVERYWHERE. And water is being purified as best it can be, but at least it's running all the time to everyone.
Are we still getting shot at? Yep. Are American Soldiers still dying? Yep, about 1 a day from my outfit, the 4th Infantry Division, most in accidents. But dead is dead. If we are doing all this for the Iraqi's, why are they shooting at us? The general Iraqi population isn't shooting at us. There are still bad guys, who won't let go of the old regime. They are Ba'ath party members (read Nazi Party, but not as nice) who have known nothing but .. and supported nothing but .. the regime all of their lives. These are the thugs for the regime that caused many to disappear in the night. They have no other skills. At least the Nazis had jobs and a semblance of a national infrastructure that they could go back to after the war, .. as plumbers, managers, engineers, etc.
These people have no skills .. but terror. They are simply applying their skills. But we are applying ours. There is no Christian way to say this .. but they must be eliminated and we are doing so with all the efficiency we can muster. Our troops are shot at literally everyday by small arms and Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs). We respond and 100% of the time, the Ba'ath party guys come out with the short end of the stick. The most amazing thing to me is that they don't realize that if they stopped shooting at us, we would focus on .. fixing things more quickly .. and then leave back to the land of the Big PX. And the more they shoot at us, the longer we will have to stay.
Lastly, all of you please realize that 90% of the damage you see on TV was caused by Iraqi's, NOT by us and not by the war. Sure we took out a few bridges from military necessity, we took out a few power and phone lines to disrupt communications, sure we drilled a few palaces and government headquarters buildings with 2000 lb. laser guided bombs (I work 100 yards from where two hit the Tikrit Palace), he had plenty to spare. But, ANY damage you see to schools, hospitals, power generation facilities, refineries, pipelines, was ALL caused either by .. the Iraqi Army in its death throes .. or from much of the Iraqi civilians looting the places. Could we have prevented it? Nope. We can and do it now, but 45 days ago the average soldier was fighting for his own survival .. and trying to get to his objectives as fast as possible. He was lucky to know what town he was in much less be informed enough to know .. who owned what .. or have the power to stop a 1,000 people from looting and burning a building by himself.
The United States and our Allies, especially Great Britain, are doing a very noble thing here. We stuck our necks out on the world's chopping block to free an entire people from the grip of a horrible terror that was beyond belief. I've already talked the weapons of mass destruction thing to death, ... bottom line, who cares? This country was one big conventional weapons ammo dump anyway. We have probably destroyed more ground weapons and ammo in the last 30 days than the US Army has ever fired in the last 30 years (Remember, this is a country the size of Texas), so drop the WMD argument as the reason we came here ... if we find them GREAT.. if we don't, SO WHAT?
I'm living in a "guest palace" on a 500 acre palace compound with 20 palaces with like facilities built in half a dozen towns all over Iraq that were built for one man. Drive down the street and out into the country side 5 miles away, like I have, and see all the families of 10 or more, all living in mud huts and herding the two dozen sheep on which their very existence depends, ...then tell me why you think we are here. WMD ? ...important .. have to find 'em wherever they may be (.. in Syria?), but not OUR real motivator. Don't let it be yours either.
ERIC RYDBOM, MAJOR
Deputy Division Engineer
4th Infantry Division