There's no better feeling for American military personnel in faraway lands than the one they get when they receive letters from loved ones. But this is close competition. It's an "insider" letter to you, me and all Americans from a senior officer in our armed forces on the front lines in Mosul -- his third tour in Iraq.
God bless you, Capt. Bowers, and all who serve this Christmas season! -- Your friend, Chuck Norris
Dear Families, Friends and all Americans,
During this Christmas season, I would like to take the time to express my deepest thanks for your wishes, praises and concerns for our troopers here in Mosul, Iraq.
During this past week, Chuck Norris' syndicated column ("The Most Overlooked News Story of 2008") spoke of the success in Iraq, what the reality of it is, and how it is portrayed in the media. Some media outlets only portray the violence of Iraq, and that is fine, but I want to tell you that there are far more nonviolent acts than there are violent ones. There are daily meetings with local sheiks, civic leaders and politicians, as well as humanitarian aid and civil affairs missions that have helped shape Mosul into a better place today for the civilians. Our troop has conducted more civil affairs and humanitarian aid missions during my current tour in Iraq than I can ever recall having done here in my two previous tours.
Let me be the first to tell you, as a cavalry troop commander on the ground, that we have been very successful here in Mosul. Success can be measured in many ways. I measure the success of my ground cavalry troop by the day-to-day dealings and patrols that we conduct with the Iraqi army, police and, most of all, local civilians. Since we arrived here in November 2007, we have seen a drastic difference in Mosul. When we first arrived in Mosul, there were very few Iraqi army and police units conducting operations, civilians did not move about the city freely, and most of all, the total number of daily incidents of insurgent attacks was outrageous. This is not true today.
When people traverse the city of Mosul now, they notice the number of civilians that are moving freely about the city. This is because they now feel safe and have had security provided to them by their own Iraqi security forces. Attacks are way down compared with this time last year, and now a large majority of ISF operations are being conducted jointly between the Iraqi army and police. When our unit arrived in Iraq, our mission was to provide security to the civilians while at the same time ridding the city of insurgents. Although the city is not totally free of insurgents, the number of them and their freedom to conduct attacks are severely hampered. With Iraqi army and police forces in the lead, we have been able to establish a very competent security force for Mosul. The Iraqi army and police's ability to plan and conduct operations with U.S. forces in a follow and support role has led to this success.
This aforementioned success was obviously not something that happened overnight. This success is the result of many man-hours and sacrifices made by not only our coalition force soldiers but also all Iraqi security forces. We have spent countless hours helping them to construct new traffic control points, outposts all over the city, as well as joint operations. We have also developed relationships with not only the ISF leaders but also the local leaders and civilians. They have our trust and know that the ISF will prevail in the overall mission, even after coalition forces pull out of Iraq.
This success is what I wish that everyone could see. It is not nearly as enticing as violence, which leads in the media, but it is the real story here in Iraq. I just hope that you spread the word of what the real story is here in Iraq, and that is that the Iraqi army and police are doing a tremendous job, and it is not without the hard work and dedication of our soldiers. Our soldiers are dedicated to the mission and their duty. They understand that the harder they work now the more likely they will not have to come back to Iraq in years to come.
It is for these reasons and this success that we are thankful. It is also something for you to be thankful for during this holiday season. Please continue to support our troops, and from here in Mosul, Iraq, and on behalf of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, we wish you all a happy holiday season and look forward to a safe return in the coming weeks.
I would also like to extend my seasonal greetings and love to my family and friends. I also extend those wishes to all of my troopers' families. I wish my immediate family, Patti and Ken Johnson, Tom and Barbara Bowers and Kat and Paul Connerty happy holidays, as well. I would especially like to thank my wife, Lyza, for all her love and support, for this is our fourth holiday season to be apart since 2002.
Merry Christmas, America,
Capt. Hunter Bowers
Lightning Troop, 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment
(In the spirit of Christmas, Chuck is giving away a free chapter of his current New York Times best-seller, "Black Belt Patriotism." To obtain yours, go to www.ChuckNorrisOffer.com.)