August 15, 2007

Name: Eric Coulson
Posting date: 8/15/07
Stationed in: Ramadi, Iraq
Milblog url:

Framed_coulson_streets1I vividly remember hitting the streets of Iraq -- not a FOB, the streets of Ar Ramadi -- for the very first time. We dismounted to help sweep a suspected cache last October. One of the things that struck me was the smell and the horrendous amounts of garbage laying all over the place.

My inference was that due to the lack of municipal services, garbage removal had simply fallen to the point where no one could even think about taking responsibility for it. Individual citizens certainly did not feel the need to do so. Why should they? Even if they did, it seemed clear their neighbors were not going to, so they might as well not either. I can imagine it feels pretty hopeless to try and clean up where you live if you have no reason to think that it will ever change. As a leader, the most challenging aspect of this was heartening my Soldiers, who would look around and ask why they should care, if it seemed like the people of Iraq did not.Framed_coulson_streets_2

I told them I thought the people of Iraq cared; I also thought they were discouraged and scared.

Approximately ten days ago we rode through the city of Falluja and I was delighted to see clean streets. Because Team Badger working in conjunction with RCT-6 has done such a great job reducing the roadside bomb threat in the city, Al Qaeda has had to resort to the car bomb as their terror weapon of choice.

After a couple of attacks the Mayor of Falluja had an answer to that problem. Simply allow no cars or trucks into the city. People park on the outskirts of the city, and walk in through an entrance control point. There are buses to move people around internally. The City of Al Falluja proper is approximately five kilometers by five kilometers -- not an onerous walk.

Framed_coulson_streets_3What was amazing to me though was how clean the city has become. As you can see from the top picture, the street in front of the shop is quite clean.

The second picture shows Fallujan's getting out and taking care of their city. There were hundreds of young men out working on crews that were hauling garbage and refuse away. Even some of my more skeptical Soldiers had to admit that we were witnessing quite a change.

Falluja clearly has a long way to go. Even though the short lived Islamist regime only effectively governed for six months in 2004, the city has been reeling ever since. This last January though, Iraqi Security Forces assumed primary responsibility for the city's security, and they have been doing a pretty good job.

That the citizens are willing to come out and help clean their city up seems evidence of that fact. The mean streets of Falluja are transforming into the clean streets of Falluja.


I'm happy for ya. The Repugs claim that those who don't agree with them are against progess in Iraq. I'm a progressive and I hope everything comes out all right in the end. I'm glad you made a difference here.

I won't bother discussing what I don't like about the military action in Iraq. Generally, armies kill people and wreak things. It's what they do. It's their job. They do it well.

I believe the US Marines were here, and they usually work with the most massive and destructive assault firepower available on the planet. I'm suprised there's anything left of Falluja.

We've committed forces, and those people need a mission, the means, and measures for the success of their actions. I want them to be ably led, suitably equipped, and excellently cared for if they are injured.

So, even this improvement in municipal services is a success for the occupation.

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Encouraging post. Thanks.

"I told them I thought the people of Iraq cared; I also thought they were discouraged and scared."

I am pleased to read of your perception. I have read other bloggers over the past years who were very derogatory regards the Iraqi people on this issue. I saw it as you did, because I understand what happens to beleaguered and downtrodden people. I also read about a mother and daughter dying in Baghdad recently cleaning trash from along a road near their home and encountering an IED. So I am infinitly pleased that along with all the other incredible improvements that have occured in Fallujah and Al Anbar Province, that the morale has improved and the streets of Fallujah are clean with civic pride abounding. I hope those, otherwise well intention, who found easy fault are ashamed. God bless you, Eric and keep you safe as you go about your duties.

It has to bring some excitement to you when the cooperation begins and they start helping you help them. This shows signs of a willingness to take action to make a better future for themselves.

According to his posting, the Mayor has banned all vehicular traffic. As a result, the citizens felt safe enough to venture outside again and began taking care of their town. I feel that, in any community, if people are actively involved and have a vested interest in something, they will take care of it. Think of a rental car you pickup for a trip, are you going to swerve around that huge pothole in the road or just drive over it. Do you worry if it has an oil change coming up…..heck no!

"After a couple of attacks the Mayor of Falluja had an answer to that problem. Simply allow no cars or trucks into the city."

Considering the situation in Iraq, this is obviously acceptable. It is an excellent illustration of how the USA intervention improved the life of people in Iraq.

"The City of Al Falluja proper is approximately five kilometers by five kilometers -- not an onerous walk."

No, especially for little children, old people and women robed in black, carrying groceries and tankards, at Iraqi temperatures. A perfect outing.

Now let me see you do the same not very onerous walk in Nevada and leave your SUV at home.

The United States of America - the cure which is worse than the disease.

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