Profuse and humblest apologies for leaving you guys worried and wondering. I've been back since May. Its taken me that long to get access to my blog back after such a hiatus.
In Taji, it turned out - we had no reliable internet access. Then once my roomate and I found and paid a guy named Sadik to hook us up - my lap-top crashed completely. I got it fixed (memoryt lost) about two months later with the help of some very busy commo guys attached to our unit, but by then we were in transient housing - two weeks out from our bird back to Kuwait.
Since I've been home, I either couldn't remember my login or password, but with the help of some Google folks - somehow I'm back in. I hope I'm able to re-access it after tonight.
What have I been doing? Being a bum. A professional bum, plus some travelling - and of course - gardening. I've got oh . . . 5 months of photographs with comments to catch you up on - and I fully intend to get started on that herculanean task this week. (I'm off to the UK next week, (for pleasure, not business)).
I hope you all are well. I've still got my ten fingers and ten toes. My company back at the PRT all made it out safely, our battalion (about 330 persons) - scattered throughout Baghdad and environs suffered 9 killed and some 20-odd purple-hearts. Many of the injured returned to duty of their own accord. And of course some of them could not, (the more grievously wounded). My piece of the "surge" (myself and one other were sent to support a surge brigade in Taji) also went as well as could be expected. Our Taji-replacements are now leaving Iraq (they were on a 6-month tour), with no casualties. Although I've since learned our surge Brigade has taken some serious casualties.
My thoughts haven't changed. And I'll be able to more fully expound in later postings. Even with the surge working, it remains to be seen what Iraqis are willing to give/have/do towards a functioning multi-party democracy. It is certainly "not in the water" over there. I have never suggested pulling US troops out, except in jest - as a precursor to atomizing the entire country, but I still can't tell you what the end game is. CORRECTION: I can tell you what the notional end-game is, I just can't yet see how to get there. Pulling out is the worst of all answers. I guess the implication of what I'm saying is our presence might be required for the next 50 years or more, and if that is required - so be it.
That is not what any of us would have wished, but it is not the worst of outcomes. (I would also entertain any proposed partition).
I hope you all are well. And thanks for writing!