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Inside Iraq - Santa Barbara in the Warzone

Ben Preston, a staff writer for The Santa Barbara Independent, is taking some time off from his usual duties to report from Iraq with the U.S. Army's 425th Civil Affairs Battalion, which is based in Santa Barbara. He'll be spending about a month in the war-torn country, traveling with the unit as they help Iraqis rebuild their country, and reporting about the work here on this blog.

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Traditional Transition

A little bit of military history, and some of my reasons for going to Iraq.

The Long Road Home

Military transportation has come a long way since the days of horse-drawn caissons, but by modern standards, it is best described as deliberate.

Foreigners in the International Zone

Coalition forces still have a job to do, but is there a term limit on the amount of welcome enjoyed by foreigners?

The Big Picture

The 425th's Battalion Commander sees civil affairs projects from a slightly different perspective.

Planes, Choppers, and Automobiles

In Iraq, you can't just hop in your Honda Civic and go somewhere, so what's the best way to get around?

Passing the Torch

Through training Iraqi Army soldiers and National Policemen in civil-military operations procedures, the US Army hopes to increase peoples' trust in their government.

The Future of History

Throughout history, wars have affected monuments and artifacts. How will what's left be protected?

When in Baghdad, Do as the Arabs Do

In a perfect world, God listens to Obama, and the military listens to thousands of years of tradition.

Where have all the generators gone?

Job training is supposedly humming along in Baghdad, but where is the end product?

Powering Reconstruction

As Baghdad slowly rebuilds, local companies and government agencies find themselves the recipients of increasing amounts of responsibility.

To the Victors Go the Spoils

The sight of Saddam's decaying palaces is the butt of many jokes, but a look at history reveals the weight of global economics brought to bear.

Impressions of a Mercenary Journalist

Things are never what they seem like from far away. Step a little closer and see what's really going on.

Things That Go Boom in the Night

When gunfire and helicopter noise are the norm, an occasional explosion seems a natural part of the cacophony.

The World's a Stage, Politicians Its Actors

From humanitarian aid to sewage covered soccer fields, all problems are solved by funding.

Changing of the Guard

They rotate in and out, but things are being accomplished in the long run.

Leaving the Shire

Soldier's report Baghdad being safer than it has been in a while. Perhaps business has superseded security.

Different Wavelengths

Observations about local culture and soldiers yarns can give someone who doesn't speak Arabic a unique insight into the fabric of Iraqi society.

Fobbits in Mordor

Security can be both good and bad, and movement is necessary.

The Many Faces of Baghdad

In Baghdad, cultural groups abound, but every individual has a story.

Building Trust With Burning Buildings

Sometimes the best way to suppress the fires of war is through training.

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