An e-mail from Fallujah

Lt Col Dave Bellon sent another e-mail to his folks from Fallujah, dated November 19th. It relates some of what he saw in the battle there, and includes some photographs.

Immediately following 3/5’s attack on the apartment buildings, 3/1 took the train station on the north end of the city. While the engineers blew a breach through the train trestle, the Cavalry soldiers poured through with their tanks and Bradley’s and chewed an opening in the enemy defense. 3/1 followed them through until they reached a phase line deep into the northern half of the city. The Marine infantry along with a few tanks then turned to the right and attacked the heart of the enemy defense. The fighting was tough as the enemy had the area dialed in with mortars. 3/5 then attacked into the northwest corner of the city. This fight continued as both Marine rifle battalions clawed their way into the city on different axis.
There is an image burned into my brain that I hope I never forget. We came up behind 3/5 one day as the lead squads were working down the Byzantine streets of the Jolan area. An assault team of two Marines ran out from behind cover and put a rocket into a wall of an enemy strongpoint. Before the smoke cleared the squad behind them was up and moving through the hole and clearing the house. Just down the block another squad was doing the same thing. The house was cleared quickly and the Marines were running down the street to the next contact. Even in the midst of that mayhem, it was an awesome site.
The fighting has been incredibly close inside the city. The enemy is willing to die and is literally waiting until they see the whites of the eyes of the Marines before they open up. Just two days ago, as a firefight raged in close quarters, one of the interpreters yelled for the enemy in the house to surrender. The enemy yelled back that it was better to die and go to heaven than to surrender to infidels. This exchange is a graphic window into the world that the Marines and Soldiers have been fighting in these last 10 days.

Read the whole thing at The Green Side.
As always, you can get your Fallujah data dump at The Adventures of Chester, Winds of Change, and here.

Battle of Fallujah round-up

Our troops are advancing faster than we’d planned, killing more of the enemy than we’d expected, losing fewer of ours than we’d feared, and might be wrapping up Fallujah more swiftly than we’d dreamed.
To sift through what bits of information manage to leak out of Fallujah, read The Command Post.
If liveblogging with on-the-fly analysis is your bag, then The Adventures of Chester is your one-stop shop.
The Belmont Club pulls some loose threads together to make educated guesses about the unfolding battle.
Want maps and satellite photos? Two words: Carnivorous Conservative.
For your inspiration, Blackfive has video of Marines singing in Fallujah.
And please … say a prayer today, OK? Froggy Ruminations has an appropriate one.

Let the Russians whine

London’s Independent reports that Estonia has dismissed a Russian schoolteacher who refused to learn the language of his new country:

Estonia intensified its controversial campaign to dilute the influence of Russia, its former colonial master, yesterday by firing a prominent Russian-speaking teacher for his failure to master Estonian.

Ah, the other lefty newsrag in London weeps for the little guy, picked on by the big bad meanies in that warmongering right-wing xanadu, Estonia. *sniffle*

In a move that Russian rights activists fear may be a sign of things to come, …

(may it be so!)

… Mikhail Mikhalchenko was sacked from his job as head teacher in a prestigious Russian-speaking high school in the town of Narva which borders Russia.
He had been visited by Estonian language inspectors who have the right to test any worker’s linguistic skills and to fire them if they are found wanting.
Under Estonian law, every worker must speak Estonian and sit an exam to obtain a certificate confirming their skills. The legislation is designed to encourage the large number of ethnic Russians, who made the country their home during the post-war Soviet occupation period, to return to Russia or integrate completely.
Estonian nationalists say the legislation is reasonable, but Russian rights activists claim the language laws amount to discrimination and a breach of human rights.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Mr Mikhalchenko, who had been in his position at the school for 16 years, spoke little Estonian – like the other half a million ethnic Russians living in the Baltic state.

“What? Me, adapt?” You haven’t been in the USSR for 13 of those 16 years, perse auk. The arrogance of former communists knows no bounds.

The Russian news agency Itar-Tass said this was the first time that a Russian-speaking teacher had been sacked for having poor skills in the Estonian language, and poured scorn on the move.

Bravo, Estonia. Protect your culture, because nobody else will.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry is also likely to wade in. Ethnic Russians make up almost a third of tiny Estonia’s population of 1.5 million, and the agency said that Narva was an overwhelmingly Russian-speaking town.
“The population of Estonia’s third largest town [Narva] is 96 per cent Russian,” it said. “It’s extremely rare to hear Estonian spoken there.”

Excuse me while I check my surprise-o-meter. *tap* *tap* Hmmm, nothing.
96 percent Russian, huh? Imagine that. I wonder if that might have something to do with the fact that the Red Army rolled over Estonia in WWII, flattened Narva and other cities, slaughtered thousands of their citizens, sent thousands of surviving residents to the Gulag Archipelago, and moved in a horde of Russians to erase all traces of Estonian language and culture?
Both sides of my family hightailed it out of Estonia and Latvia as WWII started to wind down, because they knew the communists were even worse than the Nazis. My maternal grandmother walked to Germany, fortunately found herself on our side of the Iron Curtain, met my grandfather in a refugee camp, married, and eventually reached America. She was an English teacher and he was a Latvian Army NCO. Had they stayed put, she would have been sent somewhere rather chilly and somewhat east of her home (think “Kamchatka”). He would have been led to a deserted place and shot in the back of the head (think “Katyn Forest”).
My father and his parents boogied out of Estonia by sea, taking one of the last ships fleeing Tallinn for Germany. My paternal grandfather was from a middle-class merchant family (the dreaded “bourgeoisie”), so his prospects of survival were bleak if he’d chosen to stay. Let’s not forget that the “poor downtrodden Russians” living in places like Narva were moved into real estate vacated by whole families of Estonians who didn’t get out in time and got one-way tickets to Siberia. Guilt by association, doncha know. The proletarian revolutionary omelette required a few broken eggs.

The agency complained that the language inspectors did not take into account the fact that Mr Mikhalchenko taught in Russian rather than Estonian, nor of his abilities to manage the school.

Pardon my utter lack of sympathy, but you barbarians had about 50 years to work your special magic on the Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians … and boy did that go swimmingly. Your time’s past. When in Estonia, do as the Estonians do. You can always go back to mother Russia, you sniveling ingrate. Äbarik.
When the wussy Russians win the wife-carrying competition, maybe we’ll talk.
Hat tip: NRO’s Andrew Sullivan