Thursday, October 23

Memo To Cheney And Rumsfeld

This is how it's done:

British Patrols Making Strides in Basra
Soldiers have established solid relationships based more on services than security in a city whose residents have no love for the former regime.

First, there were worries about shortages of cooking kerosene and medicine for a sick child. Then came complaints about trash removal, clogged drains and an after-dark crime wave.

During the three-hour walk last week that included talks with residents, endless chatter with children in the streets and a 40-minute visit over cool orange sodas in the home of a worried father, patrol leader Sgt. John Battersby of Burma Company, from the regiment's 1st Battalion, carefully noted the concerns and promised to pass them on to superiors.

Although heavily armed American soldiers in central Iraq continue to fight a tenacious insurgency more than six months after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, southern Iraq is relatively calm.

Battersby's men here in the nation's second-largest city wear soft berets and patrol neighborhoods at a leisurely pace, enjoying a level of contact and trust with residents that still eludes many U.S. units in and around Baghdad.

"If people saw us running around in helmets and body armor, they'd wonder what's going on," said the company's operations officer, Capt. John Harker.