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November 25, 2005
Notes from the Pentagon

Morale check
In light of Rep. John P. Murtha's call for a quick troop pullout from Iraq, we asked some of our contacts in the field about whether Washington's mixed message on the war is hurting morale. Here is a response from an Army helicopter pilot and combat veteran:

"The men over there right now are mission-focused, and from what I can tell the morale is pretty good. On a day-to-day basis, it is difficult to see progress, but if one looks back over the months that you are there, you can see progress, and it makes you feel good about what you have done.

"On the other hand, it is the news that ruins morale. It's watching the news and seeing everything negative and nothing positive that hurts morale.

"I personally believe that those politicians who are being public in their demands about the war are putting soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines at more risk because they give our enemies hope that if they hold out, if they kill a few more we will quit. And to be honest, it makes me sick. It doesn't make me feel any different about what we are doing in Iraq, but it does make me more cynical about those who will do and say anything just to try and achieve political goals."

Auto pilots
In a Thanksgiving Day message to airmen, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, the Air Force chief of staff, was worried about another form of transportation.

"I urge you to enjoy this opportunity, but don't forget that this joyous time of year can be a time of significantly increased risk," Gen. Moseley said.

"I am particularly concerned about driving our automobiles and motorcycles. Despite all of our efforts, driving is among the most dangerous thing we do, and our exposure to that risk is going to increase over the holidays. We lost 46 airmen to off-duty traffic mishaps in fiscal year 2005, and we've already lost three airmen since October 1st. We cannot afford to continue losing our most valuable resource to completely preventable mishaps."

Notorious anti-American socialist Noam Chomsky has described the U.S. election system as a "system of four-year dictatorships" and has been a vehement critic of the Pentagon for decades. He once called the Pentagon "the most hideous institution on this earth." His anti-U.S. rants have caused him to be embraced by the international Left, especially its academic and Hollywood variants.

A new book just published reveals that while Mr. Chomsky has railed against American militarism, his current $2.5 million net worth was boosted by Defense Department money.

Author Peter Schweitzer writes in the new book, "Do As I Say (Not As I Do)," that Mr. Chomsky, who first made his reputation as a professor of linguistics, has been paid several million dollars in Pentagon contracts over several decades.

Among those who paid him were the U.S. Army Signal Corps, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Office of Naval Research.

Mr. Chomsky's response to Mr. Schweitzer is that he sees no contradiction in taking the U.S. military's money and his anti-military rantings, usually in speeches, books and articles. "I think we should be responsible for what we do, not for the bureaucratic question of who stamps the paycheck," he said. The book also exposes liberal activist Michael Moore for his anti-corporate hypocrisy. Mr. Schweitzer reveals that Mr. Moore has extensive stock holdings, including shares of Halliburton, the ultimate liberal bugaboo.

From the front
We received an e-mail from a Marine Corps major in Iraq giving us a firsthand account of recent operations.

The message talked about two recent operations in western Iraq that U.S. press accounts said took place in areas where American forces "dare not go," the major said.

"Well, they should learn to never dare a Marine division," he said. "Both operations were executed almost flawlessly. Most of the enemy fled upon the arrival of the Marines, but a good number of them stayed to fight. Those that did quickly found out the 70 virgins they were promised for martyrdom was bravo sierra."

The major also praised the courage and fighting of the new Iraqi forces that are battling the insurgents.

"They are dedicated, they are volunteers, and they have shown their willingness to fight and die for their country when necessary," he said.

"Iraq, whether people want to admit it or not, has become the center for the war on terrorism," the major said. "The argument that we created these terrorists because of the invasion of Iraq is an argument based upon Michael Moore's fantasies, and certainly not upon facts."

On the casualties in the past few months, the major said that a number gave their life in defense of their country.

"Please keep every one of them and their families in your prayers," he said. "I can tell you that at the division level, we are continually amazed and awestruck when we receive the accounts of bravery and heroism being displayed on a daily basis by your Marines and soldiers. I can also tell you that every loss hits hard and everyone in the division HQ feels pain for each and every one."

The message from the front is that progress is being made, but that there is a great deal of work ahead.

"It is still very dangerous. There will be setbacks, there will be mistakes, but there is no doubt of our ultimate success and victory over terrorism," he said.

Iraq brief
A few highlights from a briefing by Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, top communications strategist in Baghdad:

•The insurgents comprise three groups: foreign terrorists, Iraqi rejectionists and Saddam Hussein loyalists. The terrorists are the most lethal group.

•In the past several months, the coalition has killed or captured more than 100 members of al Qaeda in Iraq, the terror group led by Jordanian Abu Musab Zarqawi.

•The Sunni rejectionists "will stop their violence" as more of their leaders join the political process.

•Eleven of Iraq's 18 provinces average less than one attack a day. Forty percent of all attacks are in four provinces: Anbar, Baghdad, Salahuddin and Ninevah.

  • Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are Pentagon reporters. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at

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