A Journey to Iraq, One Week and Counting

(This post will remain at the top of the page for several days. Scroll down for updates.)

I will be leaving for Iraq one week from today. I am grateful for kind words and the assistance I have received from all of you, so much so that words cannot communicate my gratitude.

I’m still $3,500 short of the goal, so if you have not contributed at this time, please consider doing so. Every donation, no matter how small, will help me on my way.

Since all of you have taken the time to email and write me, and share your personal stories, it is time for me to let you see part of my personal life. The picture is of my wife Jennie, and my children, from left to right, Jaime (1 year old), Alex (5 years old) and Sarah (3 years old). I want to thank my wife for sticking with me and for giving me the strength during the difficult times over the past several weeks, and for what she will do in my absence. I have no greater support, without her unflinching support I could not have dreamed of doing this.

It will be very hard, perhaps the hardest thing I have ever done, for me to leave my family behind for the next month. But I believe in what I am doing, and feel honor bound to my country, to the Marines and soldiers, sailors and airmen fighting in Iraq, and to all of you who have placed their faith in my ability to make a difference in this war, however small. I am doing what I am doing first and foremost for my family. I want this war to end so my children will not have to fight this war.

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Thank you for all of your support and kind words of encouragement.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.

45 Comments

  • croggio says:

    It is hard for us to let you go.
    Be assured that we will look after Jennie and the kids while you are gone. We will make sure they have all the support they need. You will write daily so we will know that you are safe.
    I hope you are cooking up a batch of stew, a big pot of gravy and some of your other signature dishes. The smell of them cooking will bring you back to them.
    The girls and I, dad and Sue, and Jennie’s family will keep them safe here.
    See you tomorrow.
    Love Mom

  • Dave From Chicago says:

    Good luck!

  • TallDave says:

    Good luck Bill. Thanks for going.
    My advice is write A LOT and take A LOT of pictures while you’re there. If you can post something every day that will be spectacular and draw a lot of media attention.

  • Fightin TX Aggie says:

    Donation made.
    Bill, olympic hero Jesse Owens once wrote: ****”There is something that can happen to every athlete and every human being; the instinct to slack off, to give in to pain, to give less than your best; the instinct to hope you can win through luck or through your opponent not doing his best, instead of going to the limit and past your limit where victory is always found. Defeating those negative instincts that are out to defeat us, is the difference between winning and losing–and we all face that battle every day.”

  • Fightin TX Aggie says:

    p.s. I don’t know how to edit responses. I slightly misquoted the Jesse Owens thing — the last bit is from some one else. But I guess it doesn’t matter. The sentiment remains.
    Gig ’em

  • Super 6 says:

    Fightin TX Aggie you are right on bro…whoop

  • ghoullio says:

    Godspeed, Bill
    thank you. be sure to tell those troops that Oklahoma says thank you!

  • Jeff Wasel says:

    Bill,
    As an aside to the Texan Major’s observation of his “young” Marines at war, I wanted to provide you with food for thought. As someone who has been privilaged to command similar Marines, everyday you are with 2-2, you should try and seek out a young Marine, from Pvt. to L/Cpl, then take his picture, and get his story, even it it’s only these three questions: are you getting what you need; what’s the nature of the enemy; and lastly, are we winning? Then ensapsulate those thoughts to be presented at the highest levels, as they will truly reflect the situation. I never met a young Marine who didn’t give it to me straight, or was afraid of rank or controversy. These young Marines need to be recognized as the sharp tip of the spear that will dominate the enemy and allow for a truly free and prosperous Iraq. None of the morons in the MSM ever talks to these unsung warriors, and if they do, the Marines’ answers are so heavily edited as to be meaningless.
    Once America hears these young men (and women) speak, they will know (yet again) that the Marines have landed and the situation is in good hands. Your style is tailor made to accomplish this mission, and the end result will do immense good in finally getting the message out about what is really happening in Iraq. Take a look at the writings of Ernie Pyle, and you’ll get an idea of what I’m suggesting. Furthermore, these “snap-shots,” could comprise the content of your blog while you’re in Iraq; I certainly would enjoy “meeting” these young Marines on a daily basis, and I’m sure the others who are lamenting your absence would find these of interest as well. An exercise such as this is the next step for you Bill, and will help establish you as the standard in first-person journalism. I salute you in your mission, and I hope you can try and talk to these young Marines as I’ve suggested.
    Semper Fi,
    Jeff Wasel

  • Nicholas says:

    Bill,
    Your children look sweet! The picture is a bit blurry though (motion blur?). Did you take it recently? I would hope the photos from the new camera would not suffer from this, as that camera should be capable (in the lighting conditions I see above) of a shutter speed of something like 1/4000 sec 🙂

  • Nonny says:

    Nicholas,
    T’was not the camera! Combination of an unsteady photographer attempting to get a picture of 3 perpetual movers at once….., on a swing! Surely is a beautiful family.

  • Dave Dilegge says:

    Bill,
    Sent a C-note via PayPal from the Small Wars Journal. Wish we could afford more…
    Also placed a link on our BB (Small Wars Council) – maybe we can help in generating some last minute funding prior to your departure. Fair winds and following seas…
    Dave

  • ikez78 says:

    Finally made my payment. Wasn’t a whole lot, but I hope it helps.

  • playah grrl says:

    Small Wars, everyone with blogaccess should link this post. Let’s do a blogburst for Bill. 😉

  • AMac says:

    Jeff Wasel #9 mentioned Ernie Pyle. His dispatches from the front lines of WW2 are gripping even when read from the other side of the cultural chasm that separates us from that that time.
    Pyle’s columns are archived at Indiana University. Scan the superficial, American-casualty-focused coverage of the al-Anbar fight that will appear like clockwork in tomorrow’s paper. Then pick a Pyle column, and lament the backwards progress of sixty years of journalism.
    Then read one of Roggio’s analyses. Perhaps intelligence, skepticism, and moral compasses haven’t gone wholly out of fashion.
    Godspeed to Iraq and back, Bill. A small token via Paypal to help you on your way.

  • Super 6 says:

    “lament the backwards progress of sixty years of journalism.”
    One of my prized possessions is an old edition of Ernie Pyle’s “Brave Men”. I have asked for years, Where is todays Ernie Pyle? Big shoes to fill…The magic of Pyle’s stories was the common dogface or Marine’s point of view. Bill give it some thought…..

  • Justin B says:

    Bill,

    I wish I could do more. Remember that us squidly Navy Corpsmen are out there right beside the Marines on patrol and if you get a chance, try to capture the incredible work that these men and women in the field medical units are doing to keep as many of our young men and women alive as possible.
    Most of the Doc’s out there that get activated from their reserve unit take incredible financial pain and suffering and many have to close their practices.

  • Some quick notes before I depart

    I'm going to be away for most of this week except for periodic updates, though I should have another piece in the Weekly Standard at some point on the Amman bombings that notes that the…

  • Jeff Wasel says:

    Hello all,
    I was posting a letter to Bill, that included a few questions for him to ask the commanders of the respective units he would be exposed to. In looking at them, I thought perhaps I’d throw them out to the blogshpere as well, as we seem to have a very savvy readership, and serving/former Marines on board as well, so here they are, and I’m eager to see what folks think of these posits (My apologies for the lengthy post):
    Manpower gets bounced about as a reason for the war not going to plan, and one thing I would like you to ask the command element is this: given the success the Corps is having along the Syrian border with less than ideal troop strength, why not incorporate more units from BLT (Battalion Landing Team) and MEUs (Marine Expeditionary Units), especially those that are Special Operations Capable (MEU (SOC)), from around the globe, (Okinawa?), more extensively then is currently the case? Granted, as the nation’s 911 force, this may be heretical, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get these units blooded and experienced in what can be argued is the deciding type of combat for the 21st Century. Somalia cannot be far away, nor can other broken states and non-state geographical actors and areas. I know how boring a float can be, and this would allow some respite for the line units who have been working overtime, along with helping with retention rates and combat efficiency. I can only imagine how much more effective we’d be if properly manned in this very unremitting environment. Even when properly rested, IEDs are very trying to deal with day in, day out, and the minute one drops one’s guard, it is all over, and casualties mount. I’m sure we’re losing good men because of stingy troop allocation and the subsequent fatigue, poorly armored vehicles aside. We are violating proven doctrine as to how to hold ground and it is galling; companies do not hold battalion lines, and regiments do not secure national borders. The introduction of larger maneuver units with a greater breadth of capabilities seems like a no-brainer, and I do not think it would jeopardize the Nation’s security, as most of those who wish us harm are in this very theatre.
    Next, what about ramping-up the CAP program of Viet Nam days? The Combined Action Platoons were very successful in pacifying large swaths of the South, and Iraq seems tailor-made. Concurrently, we could create a Kit Carson Scout “lite”

  • Mark says:

    [Comment removed]

  • Mommaleigh Kaufer says:

    Good Luck to you bill and Semper Fi,
    Proud Marine Step Mom
    3/6 Wpns Lcpl

  • cjr says:

    #20
    “the political objective has been, from the start, to secure an energy source for the US economy, and possibly the western economy. Period.”
    Hum, this statement doesn’t make logical sense to me. Saddam nevers wanted to stopped sell oil, he never threated to stop exporting oil. All through the 90’s until the start of OIF, Saddam did everything he could to export as much oil as possible. If the only goal was more oil, then war wasnt needed; an end to UN sanctions was all that was needed…..Please explain.

  • John says:

    If the war was for oil, then the US would have simply been abusing the Oil For Food program as much as the Europeans were. Country gets oil, brokers get rich, Saddam gets rich. But US wasn’t involved at all. So…

  • vuc says:

    [Comment removed]

  • vuc says:

    [Comment removed]

  • Michael B says:

    Good Luck Bill,
    I have been following your site now for 3 months. I has given me tremendous solace and a great perspective that the MSM does not provide. Is it possible to find out if the commanders that you speak with believe that insurgency recruting is strengthened as a result of the scurrilous political attacks against the president? If so, I would scream
    this from the rooftops.

  • cjr says:

    Vuc:
    On January 14, 2005, I might have believed you. But after 2 elections with ~60% turnout its starting to look like those “intelligent individuals” might actually be right.

  • The Fourth Rail says:

    Please refrain from comments off topic, and from responses to those who insist on making such comments. Continued off topic commentary will result in banning.

  • President Bush says:

    Bill, thank you for your service and good luck. God bless America!
    Love,
    W.

  • playah grrl says:

    bill, are your ears burning? Wretchard is talking about you on the OSM feed RIGHT NOW!

  • Debbie R says:

    To Brian and all, Thank you for all the kind notes.I know all of you will be waiting to here from my little brother when he gets to Iraq and your thoughts and prayers will keep our family strong . Thank you again .DAR

  • Little Sis says:

    Wow!!!! Even the president knows of your blog.

  • Shawbell says:

    Bill, I don’t use PayPal or Outlook Express. How can I donate some bucks for ya?
    Claude in AZ (USAF 1964-1968)

  • Wild Thing says:

    Thank you for serving our country, thank you with all my heart for the sacrifices I know you will be making. I am very proud of our Military and you. Stay safe and our prayers are with you.

  • Mario Sechi says:

    Dear Mr. Roggio,
    good luck for your job in Iraq. I am Mario Sechi, the Deputy Managing Editor of Il Giornale, the 4th largest newspaper in Italy. Your blog is amazing, accurate, with smart analysis. My friend Michael Leeden has pointed out your blog to me.
    Ciao
    Mario Sechi

  • Big Lizards says:

    Help Send a Kid to Camp — Camp Baghdad!

    The brilliant Bill Roggio (the Fourth Rail), so full of bonhomie and bullroar, is bouncing off to Baghdad to blog the battles in just one week… but he’s still $3500 short of the necessary. He needs some donations. So consider…

  • Frank says:

    Bill,
    God speed Bill! My prayers go with you.

  • StormWarning says:

    Bill:
    Here’s wishing a safe journey and a healthy return. If you get to see my buddy…well, just say “hi” for me.
    Storm

  • SUB HUNTER says:

    Bill,
    Looks as though the time has come to show up
    the MSM,the boots on the ground need to have
    a voice in this as they are the one’s carrying
    the load…I hope the CANON does the job for
    you and when you get back we can toss a couple
    of Alaskan Ambers down the hatch, “GOD SPEED”
    SUB HUNTER
    AKA– “SALTYDOGG2U”

  • Ena says:

    take A LOT of pictures while you’re there

  • william says:

    I know that should be a presidential joke LOL.

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Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis