Pride of Minnesota

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Sergeant David Thul is from Chaska, Minnesota and is serving with the Minnesota National Guard in Al Asad, Iraq. Last May we posted a call to our Minnesota readers for reading material for Sergeant Thul and his fellow soldiers serving with Weapons Company 1-133. Power Line readers from all over the country responded in full measure, so much so that Sergeant Thul subsequently reported that he had set up both main and branch Power Line libraries. He also sent us photos, including the one above. On Friday Sergeant Thul wrote to advise us of his upcoming Star Tribune op-ed column:

I think I mentioned once that the wealth of books that came for the Power Line Library was like getting a free education in conservatism. Well, I have taken that education and put it to work. I’ve partnered with a Navy Lieutenant in Baghdad to organize the Appeal For Courage. We are appealing directly to Congress to support the war and stop calling for retreat. Thus far we have just over 1650 signatures, so we should soon surpass the anti war petition that has garnered so much attention in the MSM.
This weekend looks to be big for us, as we have a statement being read at the Gathering of Eagles in Washington, and a slew of editorials around the country to mark the 4th anniversary of the war. And the Star Tribune will have a column that I wrote along with a short interview on Sunday. The ultimate goal of this is to present the Appeal to Congress, and I have been talking with Sen. Coleman’s staffers about it. Cross your fingers.
Thanks again for everything you did and are doing.
SGT Dave Thul

As usual, the thanks belong to all our readers who answered the call. Sergeant Thul’s op-ed column in today’s paper is “In Iraq, as in football, defense is crucial.” Sergeant Thul writes:

Iraq rages, it is easy for many to forget what a big stake Minnesota has in the war right now. As we close out the fourth year since the invasion, another milestone is here that hits very close to home.
March is the month that many of the almost 3,000 Minnesota National Guardsmen were scheduled to come home. But after 12 months in Iraq, and a year and a half since we left home, our deployment has been extended by up to another four months. This also puts us right in the middle of the debate of the day, the surge plan to secure Baghdad. As Congress consumes itself with nonbinding resolutions and appropriations bills with just the right mix of carrots and sticks, one of the most important opinions is being overlooked — that of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines serving here in Iraq.
I won’t pretend to speak for everyone in uniform over here, and in fact no one ever could. There are as many opinions in the military as there are in the civilian world. But I can tell you that a majority of U.S. troops want to stay in Iraq and finish the mission. How do I know this? Two ways.
The first is anecdotally, from the men and women I work with and talk to every day. I have yet to meet someone who thinks the long-term good of the United States and the Middle East would be served by an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Many of us are tired and frustrated and miss our families and just want to go home. But we want to go home after transferring our area of responsibility to another unit, whether it is U.S. or Iraqi. We don’t want to abandon our posts.
The second way I know that my fellow soldiers want to stay is that they have been saying so in a petition to Congress. At the AppealForCourage.org website, more than 1,500 service members in less than a month have signed an appeal for redress, the officially authorized method for the military to ask Congress to right a wrong, asking Congress to stop calling for retreat and to support our mission.
Day after day we see and hear our elected leaders in Washington telling us that the war is already lost or that it is not winnable. Nothing could be further from the truth. The essence of the military mission here is really quite simple. Train the Iraqi army and police to do the job that we are currently doing, give them the reins, and then take our leave. It is a slow job, but steady progress is being made. Already entire provinces of Iraq are under Iraqi military control. In more than 70 percent of the country, the Iraqi army and police are in the lead.
My dad, a lifelong Vikings fan who raised me the same way, once shared a bit of wisdom about football that I find remarkably pertinent to the situation in Iraq today. He told me that offense sells tickets, but defense wins games.
When we were invading Iraq, the media gave us nonstop coverage of every city that was secured and every Republican Guard unit that was destroyed or that surrendered. Great headlines about the offensive were everywhere. But over the past few years, we have settled into the day-to-day job of building up the Iraqi military — the slow defensive work of keeping the peace and wearing down the terrorists. Boring to the media, yet crucial to victory.
There can be no compromises in Iraq, no negotiated peace. The enemy here is radical Islam, whether in the sectarian violence in Baghdad that seeks to draw all of the Middle East into open war, or the terrorists of Al-Qaida here in the Anbar province who are looking for a new home base since we kicked them out of Afghanistan. If we pull out before the job is done, we will face not only the same chaos and genocide that we saw after pulling out of Vietnam, but we will leave Iraq in a power vacuum with greedy and ambitious neighbors on all sides.
I’ve now been deployed 2

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