THE YEAR IN REVIEW |

January 01, 2008

THE YEAR IN REVIEW
Name: Eric Coulson
Date: 12/31/07
Stationed in: Iraq
Milblog url: badgersforward.blogspot.com

If you had asked me in January of this year if I thought I would be writing a Year in Review post, I certainly would have answered in the negative. This year brought many interesting developments as we carried out our mission; several dark days for the Task Force and the Team; big changes in Iraq; and ultimately the redeployment of the unit and Mrs. Badger 6's and my decision for me to remain. This is how it broke down:

January

January would turn out to be the most prolific month of 2007, with 62 posts. It began with Boise State defeating Oklahoma and the boys of Team Badger being very happy about that. The Blog had really started to take off at that point. With a few links from Blackfive I had over 5k visitors in December, and would see over 10k in January for the first time. The "Surge" was just being suggested, and I reported on 24-hour missions we did.

I wrote about the banal and combat; I told you some of the things you should read; and I think made the case for the appointment and confirmation of General Petraeus. January was a time where I was finding out what worked and what didn't. Trying to regularly publish different things that would let people know what it was like to be in Iraq, without overwhelming the reader with pointless posts.


February

February would turn out to have some of the darkest days for the Task Force. The end of January brought the Task Force's first Killed in Action. Corporal Stephen Shannon was wounded on 30 January and died the next day. I wrote about our experience dealing with that here. Shortly after Team Cobra lost Corporal Shannon, Team Badger experienced our own losses. A few days later I went home on leave. Looking back, February seems a little incongruous. Writing about life and death, but also making posts about very mundane and trivial things. I suppose that is part of the nature of life; the mundane and trivial go on even in times of great sorrow. Going home on leave here recently really revealed to me how much shock I was in from this entire event.

March

March saw my return from leave and the weather starting to warm up in Iraq. Mel debuted Cool, Calm & Collected and the Don was prolific. We went back to Al Karma. Chlorine Bombs were in the news as was the Iraqi "Civil War."


I took you on a run around Camp Ramadi and speculated on whether the awakening movement would make it to Falluja. Multi-National Force-Iraq launched their YouTube channel as US military information operations screamed onto the information superhighway.

March concluded with a review of the moonlight over Ramadi.

April

In April we were out on the ground in Habiniyah engaging in some Civic Action. I tried to help get General Petraeus' "Letter to the Iraqi people" out, and I played some hoop with my guys in Falluja.

The Parliament was bombed in Baghdad and I noted that I was getting gray hair.

The headstones for Sergeant Holtom and Private Werner were installed in Idaho; the Task Force Memorial was installed at the Reserve Center on Gowen Field.


May

 
My post Michigan got some minor blog play across the internet; there was much ado about nothing in the new Army OPSEC and blogging rules; I told you about a funny incident with a Soldier in "Hand and Arm Signals."

The Task Force suffered two more killed in action and I wrote about that here.

More minor internet Milblog celebrity with my job application for the National Security Affairs writer position at the WaPo; I showed you the arrival of new MRAPs and told you about the quantifiable difference the Task Force was making.

The Doonesbury book, The Sandbox was announced and I told you about 10 Myths about the Iraq War.

Of course this was the first Memorial Day many of us had people tangible to Memorialize.

June

June 15 saw the last "surge" brigade move into place and the commencement of Operation Phantom Thunder.

We had Six Days of no Significant Actions in Ramadi proper, and those with short memories said Soldiers like me were "lucky to be in Al Anbar."

I showed you graffiti and wall symbols from the previous tenants of our FOBs and speculated on their meaning. I also brought other more serious issues to your attention. Badgers Forward also had its 100,000th visitor in June.

July

In July I introduced you to Sergeant Jesse Kelsch and you helped welcome home some Team Badger Soldiers. I talked about the home front and Iraq won the Asian Cup in Soccer.

In its second month Phantom Thunder had already started to make believers out of some, as some people agreed that Iraq was a war we just might win. I presented some Purple Hearts and ran the Run for Heroes.

August

August was the last full month for the Task Force in Iraq. Unfortunately we saw the Final Roll Call Grow and I reported on this tear jerker as well.

Sheikh Sattar had come to international prominence and Sergeant Ross Clevenger finally received his more modest due.

Ambassador Crocker visited Ramadi and my story about New Glass became the second biggest piece Badgers Forward has had. I told you how it was great to be a Soldier and what an Iraqi thought about traveling through Anbar.

I reminded you though that we were still in a gun fight.

September

September was the quietest month as we Transfered Authority to the next unit and most Badgers went home.

A mere nine posts this month, but I did give you my final thoughts on command and the experience.

October

October saw somewhat of a return to blogging; I finally had internet access regularly again. I told why I stayed and what I was doing here.

I wrote about my trip from Ramadi to here in A HET and Two Hercs.

Colonel Simcock, the RCT 6 Commander noted that AQ in Anbar had been routed.

Word came from the states that another Pathfinder Soldier had died. I also introduced to Sergeant First Class Freeman.

A glimpse of Authentic Iraq and a story on Shia Sunni cooperation were also BF subjects.

November

In November Badgers Forward was in the running for one of the best Milblogs of the year; we also supported the Valour IT project with a renewed emphasis because of their support to a Team Badger solider. (MB6's Christmas gift to me was another donation to Valour IT. Should I send her another postcard?)

The news from Anbar continued to be good and Team Badger awards continued to come in.

Iraqis in exile were encouraged to come home and I made it home to MB6 in time for Thanksgiving.

December

The last month of the year found me on leave meeting other veterans of the Ramadi campaign and lamenting not going through Dallas.

I told you what it was like to arrive home and reported on more good news from Falluja.

December also brought the one year anniversary of the death of Major Megan McClung, Captain Travis Patriquin, and Specialist Vincent Pomante.

I also reviewed the new book The Fighting 69th and encouraged you to get a copy for yourself.

And that is 2007.

What does 2008 hold in-store?

Well, it will be a return to the United States; blogging will continue much like it has in the last couple of months barring some big change in what I am doing. Posts and site visits are down. I think that is because staff work at a higher echelon simply is more prosaic; those activities are more routine and don't give you as much of a sense of what is going on in Iraq. Also I think a large number of readers were interested in Company A and the 321st Engineer Battalion. I actually considered discontinuing blogging when I came here, however MB6 was pretty insistent I keep it up.

I once wrote that I was concerned about what I will do when this deployment is over. It looks like that issue is resolved and I will return to regular active duty in a capacity that combines the Army and my other civilian skills.

Creedance Clearwater Revival had a hit with the anti-war song "Fortunate Son." I consider my self a Fortunate Son to have been here with these Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen.

Have a good 2008.

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