Sunday, December 05, 2004

Change in the Air

I promised you some good news, so let’s see what I can do for you. With the elections over and most political motivations gone the military is really cracking down on the anti-Iraq forces. These forces are changing their tactics to target locals instead of the coalition forces. That is really good news because it obviously means they decide that what they were doing was either futile or not working or both! You won't see this over-published on the news, although it did find mention: the number of attacks and the kill rate has been going down!

Also, the Iraqi’s were a bit nervous before the elections because a change in American leadership might have meant a change over here. So they held on to their information. Now that they see the leadership is not only not going away but is even more committed to their safety, they feel safer about telling where the bad-guys are and we are going and getting them. When they come on base and see us building and willingly doing business with them they see we are here to stay. They also see us building up their schools, repairing and improving water and electricity, and so on. This gives them great confidence in collaboration. And it’s working! The attacks on the base are becoming less effective and far more time inbetween. Recently we got intel of a new attack and…nothing! Nothing happened. The bad-guys are on the run.

Also, recently I read an article in the Stars and Stripes paper here and it was about the effect of the war on faith. It told about some soldiers that are going to church more and a few who feel less inclination to be religious than ever. But it closed with an interview from a young man who said he had always been an agnostic. But he (his vehicle) was hit by a grenade, and IED, a mortar, and a few other things and he said each time he was uninjured. That made him think and he said that there must indeed be something that is protecting himself and others because he should have been injured or killed in each instance.

That just confirms what I have noticed about somany stories I have heard and even experienced. Too many miracles to write it off to good luck or coincidence. Too many instances of protection in dire circumstances. In church others gave testimony that the Hand of God is in this land and in this effort, which I too have felt. Don’t know what it all is exactly, but you can feel much certainty that God is moving some great purpose forward.

So the other night our shop helped some boys get their vehicle armored up--that’s what we do. We put on a few turret armor plates for them and I had a little chat and picture-taking with them. One young man told me how he was a father at age 17 (he’s 22 now) and his rough up-bringing and how he was a competitive photographer at age 8! And how they wish they could talk to their families one more time, just in case. They were all preparing mentally for their mission in the morning. I noticed it was not announced on the news so I better not say more either but they were going to a very dangerous city. Again. Their battalion is the only one that has not suffered a fatality so far and I fasted this Sunday for their continued protection. Their picture, the boys with their toys, is below.

To sum it up, I think the Iraqi’s increased trust in the liberating forces is beginning to form a bond, small as it may be, and they are beginning to hope for enduring freedom and continued protection such that they are helping out more with information on the bad-guys. Who are in turn becoming more desperate, which is causing an increase in attack intensity but is exposing them more and more. Their attacks on their neighbors will also increase the desire among the locals to root them out. The country is beginning to prosper by degrees too, making peace more attractive. And certainly, there is unseen aid and purpose from on High. That is the way I see it, for what it’s worth.

That's it for this email, hope you are excited and enjoying the holidays. Please remember those who are here missing it but for very good purposes! Ever,

Ernie

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