11 March 2010

After a bit of a hiatus I am back on the blogging scene. I am now safely nestled on a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in northern Iraq. Hopefully I can add ground perspective to some of the recent reporting coming out of Iraq.

First, this is a completely different conflict than when I left just over a year ago (almost to the day). Attacks against US Forces still happen, but nothing like I’ve seen during previous deployments. Perhaps the name change to Operation New Dawn is fitting after all. The Iraqis truly are in the lead.

The Iraqi Security Forces appear far more capable than they were a year ago. I still see the political realm being the greatest barrier to stabilizing Iraq in the short-term. Local perception of Sunday’s election appears to be quite favorable right now. Voter turnout across northern Iraq was quite impressive, with some provinces surpassing a 70% turnout. Interestingly, I haven’t really heard about any election fraud. After the results are released I fully anticipate hearing fraud claims from slighted parties. Regardless of the opinion of Ernesto Londono, I do believe that the elections were an overall success. And I’m not just saying that because I wear a uniform.

I still believe that Nigeria is in danger of slipping back into chaos after their lengthy (for their standards) period of relative stability. Sectarian killings in and around Jos are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg threatening to sink Nigeria back into chaos. Oh, and Somalia is still no picnic.

On a completely separate note, my beloved Oregon Ducks cannot seem to stay out of trouble. Chip Kelly needs to read his team the riot act and get them focused on defending their Pac 10 title this fall. Too many off-field problems, plain and simple.

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