No taunts. No snorts. No whitewashing. No candycoating. No drunken snark. Just the facts from Marine-turned-journalist/author W. Thomas Smith, Jr., who’s blogging from Baghdad over at The Tank. Here’s a bit of his dispatch from yesterday. Keep scrolling for more:
BAGHDAD (3:34 am EDT — 11:34 pm Iraq Time): There’s a lot of air activity over Baghdad tonight, with a full moon, a few clouds, and lots of stars.
Those in my villa who have been here for awhile are commenting about there being “more aircraft than usual.” It’s certainly the most I’ve seen since I’ve been here.
I’m hearing and seeing Black Hawk helicopters — always in pairs — and a few Pumas flying over the house and over other neighborhoods. They are coming from all directions for 360 degrees around me. I’ve seen at least four of the more distant Black Hawks popping flares.
There have also been lots of jets coming and going for several hours now (Though they are too high to effectively ID in the dark, I can tell they are fighters), and a lone UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle)…
…There were two big explosions earlier this evening, one from the north about an hour ago that lit up the entire sky, and rifle fire has been sporadic, though nothing like the gunbattle of last night.
I’ve since learned that the window-rattling explosion I reported earlier this morning was a car bomb that killed three people and wounded 10.
And here’s his latest today on the good and the bad:
BAGHDAD (12:34 am EDT — 8:34 am Iraq Time) As I mentioned Sunday, there is much going on here — good and bad — that is not being reported.
First the bad: The fighting is heavier and the bombings more frequent than what we might imagine in the states.
For instance, we might read one day that there was a car-bombing in a Baghdad market that killed an untold number of people. The reality is there were probably four or more bombings just from my vantage point on that same day. And many more elsewhere in the country. That doesn’t include mortar attacks and gunbattles. Intermittent shooting is throughout the day. Full-blown firefights are every night.
So much is not reported, because most of the journalists — particularly in this city — are hunkered down behind the relatively secure walls of the Green Zone.
The good news is, there is indeed infrastructural progress going on. Much of the country is relatively secure. And General Petraeus is indeed the right man — militarily speaking — on the ground.
Next: Former Marine/documentarian/embed J.D. Johannes is in Fallujah and has posted compelling video and a report on suicide truck bombers.
In case you missed it, Omar at Iraq The Model blogged about a midnight visit from US troops.
More: Milblogger Badger 6 blogs from Iraq and is subbing over at Patterico’s.
I didn’t link yesterday to all of the left-wing blogger scorn heaped on John McCain or the murky Drudge story about what CNN’s Michael Ware did or didn’t do at the McCain press conference in the IZ. Some in the MSM are spending enormous energy trying to embarrass McCain for his well-intentioned and reasonable comments. I am no fan of his. His remarks could and should have been more nuanced (update: and for crying out loud, couldn’t he have left the 60 Minutes crew out of the picture?). But what he has been saying the past week is the reality we saw when we were in Baghdad in January. It ain’t a stroll in the park. It’s a war zone, for heaven’s sake. But it ain’t all Armageddon either. We didn’t need Apache helicopters and 100-plus troops escorting us in Khadimiyah. But yes, we wore body armor and drove in armored Humvees. And yes, we saw JAM guys on mopeds and remained on alert. Flashback (click to play):
We couldn’t stand still on a street corner in al Adil where Sunni snipers lurked. IP and IA infiltration remain problems. The slums are awful. On the other hand, some neighborhood councils are effective and functional. Many Iraqis are cooperative, welcoming, and grateful. There’s good. There’s bad. There’s bloody tragedy. But as Ardolino writes, there is still room for hope.
And that is exactly what ABC News’ Terry McCarthy reported yesterday after visiting five neighborhoods in central Baghdad (click to watch):
McCarthy: “Make no mistake…Baghdad is still a very dangerous city…But what we found was encouraging.”
Does McCarthy deserve scorn and ridicule for saying so?
Where we have come from: Jules Crittenden reprints his April 3, 2003 dispatch embedded with US troops headed into Baghdad.
And Lucianne.com remembers Michael Kelly, who was killed three years ago today while traveling with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division into Baghdad. Here was Kelly’s last column filed that day, “Across the Euphrates.”
Army Staff Sergeant Wilbert Davis, the driver of Kelly’s Humvee, was also killed. Remembrances here.