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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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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 Perhaps business has superseded security.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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