Thursday, August 23, 2007

Documents

As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day...

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.

As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine event. Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is that battalion commanders, even if well meaning, have little to no influence over the thousands of obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of command, who are really loyal only to their militias.


-- Spc. Buddhika Jayamala, Sgt. Wesley D. Smith, Sgt. Jeremy Roebuck, Sgt. Omar Mora, Sgt. Edward Sandmeier, Staff Sgt. Yance T. Gray, and Staff Sgt. Jeremy A. Murphy, The War as We Saw It, New York Times, August 19, 2007


The formation of "rally squads" is a common way to prepare for demonstrators by countering their message. This tactic involves utilizing small groups of volunteers to spread favorable messages using large hand-held signs, placards or perhaps a long sheet banner, and placing them in strategic areas around the site.

These squads should be instructed always to look for demonstrators. The rally squads' task is to use their signs and banners as shields between the demonstrators and the main press platform. If the demonstrators are yelling, rally squads can begin and lead supportive chants to drown out protestors (USA!, USA!, USA!). As a last resort, security should remove demonstrators from the event site. The rally squads can include, but are not limited to, college/young Republican organizations, local athletic teams and fraternities/sororities...

Once a group of demonstrators has been identified, the advance person must decide what action to take. If it is determined that the media will not see or hear them and they pose no potential disruption to the event, they can be ignored. On the other hand, if the group is carrying signs, trying to shout down the president, or has potential to cause some greater disruption to the event, action needs to be taken
immediately to minimize the demonstrators' effect.

-- Office of Presidential Advance, Presidential Advance Manual, October, 2002 (via Salon).

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