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Operation Spear in Anbar Province

| 19 Comments | 6 TrackBacks

US Marines and accompanying Iraqi troops return to the Qusaybah/Qaim region on the Syrian border, and launch Operation Spear in the city of Karabilah. This region is the main hub of the southern ratline from Syria, which has been inaccurately compared to the Ho Chi Minh Trail of the Vietnam War. Spear explains the reports of US troops massing on the Syrian border. Via CENTCOM:

Approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors from Regimental Combat Team-2, 2nd Marine Division and Iraqi Security Force soldiers are conducting combat operations in northwestern Al Anbar Province.

Operation Spear (Romhe) began in the early morning hours aimed at rooting out terrorists, foreign fighters and disrupting terrorist support systems in and around Karabilah. Marines engaged terrorists in Karabilah on June 11, using precision air strikes.

Elements from 1st Tank Battalion and 2nd and 4th Assault Amphibian Battalions are participating in the operation along with Coalition aircraft.

Spear appears to be of the same size as Operation New Market and Matador, which were conducted in the same region. It remains to be seen if Spear will resemble the search & destroy mission profile of Matador which covered a wide area, or the cordon & search profile of New Market. Good bets are on the latter. (See this post for background on clear & hold vs. search & destroy.)

As the press release notes, Karabilah, was the subject of recent airstrikes in which 40 terrorists were killed. The effective air strikes in Karabilah followed by a quick operation tells us the following:

  • There is solid, actionable intelligence in the region.
  • As the US and Iraqi force presence in the region is minimal, the likelihood is the intelligence was derived from local sources (Iraqis).
  • Anbar has been a base of operations for Zarqawi, and it cannot be ruled out that the current operation may be related to the hunt. Zarqawi has been thought to have been injured and received medical treatment in the region. New Market and Matador were executed to assist in the hunt for Zarqawi as well as to strike at terrorists.

The pace of operations in Anbar is also telling. This is the fourth such operation to be executed in the past two months (including the operations in Mosul). It is clear we now have the capacity to assemble battalion sized strike forces in the Anbar province when needed. The missing piece of the puzzle is the Iraqi forces to hold the areas after they have been cleared.

The operations in Anbar must also be looked at from a political perspective as well. The coalition struck a serious (but not fatal) blow to al Qaeda with the capture of Abu Talha. The terrorists continue to lose their appeal with the Iraqi people. The Iraqi Assembly has successfully completed negotiations with the Sunnis to participate in creating the Constitution, generously ceding 15 seats on the committee to a party that boycotted the elections. Negotiations with Sunni groups at the national level and the local level (particularly in Anbar) are accelerating, as the government attempts to offer the Sunnis an option to end the violence and participate in the government. The Iraqi Army is making the long, uphill climb towards becoming an effective fighting force, and is increasing its participation in combat operations against the insurgency.

The insurgency continues to be isolated politically and geographically. The pace and tempo of operations in Anbar are likely to increase this summer and during the fall in the lead up to the next round of Iraqi elections in order to come closer to achieving the goal of defeating the insurgency.

6 TrackBacks

Tracked: June 17, 2005 4:23 PM
Excerpt: We found this blog entry very interesting so we've added a Trackback to it on our site.
Tracked: June 17, 2005 7:30 PM
Operation Spear from The Fourth Rail
Excerpt: Bill Roggio at Winds of Change has an exceptional analysis of Operation Spear on the Syrian border, by making the link between the facts on the ground coupled with the larger diplomatic picture of events in Iraq.
Tracked: June 21, 2005 3:02 PM
U.S. Marines clear Karabila from Security Watchtower
Excerpt: As Operation Spear moves into its fourth day, U.S. Marines have cleared the city of Karabila, near the Syrian border. The Operation began last Friday with airstrikes that targeted insurgents, who had taken control of the city of 60,000. Bill Roggio at ...
Tracked: July 25, 2005 3:30 AM
A Springtime of Ops in Iraq from The Fourth Rail
Excerpt: Over the course of the past week, Coalition forces conducted four separate battalion size plus operations in Iraq, two in Anbar - Spear in Karabilah and Dagger near lake Thar Thar, one south of Mosul in Tal Afar (Operation Veterans...
Tracked: November 8, 2005 11:05 PM
Update on Operation Steel Curtain - V from Security Watchtower
Excerpt: After four days of fighting, U.S. and Iraqi forces have secured the town of Husaybah, along the Syrian border. Reports indicate 36 terrorists were killed and another 150 captured, many of them foreign fighters from North Africa or Asia. In securing the...
Tracked: January 14, 2006 2:01 PM
Dawn Patrol from Mudville Gazette
Excerpt: Iraq Walking the Line [Michael Yon] Sam was, by all accounts, a practical hands-on man whose grip had the grit of hard work. He started it all with little more than a barren field and some air in his pockets....


Also good was that there seems to have only been one car bomb today (on a Shi'ite mosque outside of Sadr city). What's going to count over the next couple of years is patience. If, after all, we keep up what's currently going on and leave an Iraqi army unit in charge of a place once there's one available, it would seem that U.S. forces can gradually concentrate more and more on the trouble spots in "the restive Al Anbar province."

to shut down the terrs in Anbar you need to do one of two things. You either need to be everywhere - to actually stay and occupy - so that the terrs cant run from place to place. OR you need to cordon and search with sufficient speed and surprise that they cant run before theyre cordoned. One gets into numbers of troops - its good we have enough troops to maintain this level of ops, we've come a long way since April 2004, but we seem to still be far from being able to lock down Anbar. The other issue gets to operational security, to infiltration of Iraqi forces, etc. My impression is we're not quite there yet on that either. So progress yes. Death throes, no.

The political stuff is almost unadultarated good news. AMS and IIP are now committed to participating in the political process. But, lets be realistic - this does not necessarily translate into AMS exerting its influence on the elements of the insurgency its close to lay down their arms, or even lessen attacks. It may. Or they may ask for more to get that. The Sinn Fein parallels are striking (based on what little I know about N.Ireland) So, while I cheer the Iraqi political process, it would be a mistake to sit and say - ok 20,000 insurgents, 3/4 are not Zarqis, AMS signed on, ergo all we've got left to deal with are the Zarqis, and theyre on the run.

Like i said before theres a chance the insurgency is on the point of collapse. But I think its a tiny chance. Id bet we've got one to two years of serious fighting ahead of us in Iraq.


The trick, really is to get the decent people who happen to be in the insurgency (i.e., the guys who don't blow up women and children on their way to mosque) to sign onto the political process to the point that they hang their erstwhile Wahabbi/dead end Ba'athist companions out to dry. So hopefully the political developments give both the clergy and sheiks enough of a stake in the system to get these results.

But yeah, essentially it's still gonna be another couple of years.

What the tempo and scope of operations of late tells me is that we have developed the ability to obtain a tactical and operational picture of the enemy. In other words we have, or are gaining, the intelligence edge on him.

The mistake is in thinking insurgencies collapse like a regular army. Historically they tend to either triumph or fizzle out. It usually takes years, perhaps a decade.
I think the WH has made a mistake not acknowledging this reality, and the opposition is being disingenuous demanding it as a realistic possibility.
Whats probably going to happen (unless there is a political surrender in the meantime) is over the next 2 years Iraqis will take over more and more of the garrison and patrol work, absorb more and more of the attacks (as they are the softer target), and the US will conduct more and more strikes, raids, and border defense. About that time (2 years+) US forces will be systematically drawn down to levels about what they are in Afghanistan for the following couple years, and from there either based or removed entirely depending on Iraqi wishes.
The insurgents will keep up this tempo for a number of months until the foriegners get tired of wasting money and manpower against what is obviously an organic Iraqi government. From there the attacks will fall off rapidly, but continue sporatically for a number of years until the last of the deadenders make peace or die off. The critical point will be when American forces start being drawn down, once Iraqi forces are shown to be up to handling the fighting themselves the insurgency will really fall off. Its critical that we not initiate that phase until the Iraqi government is in place, and relatively stable, and obviously the IA is up to the challenge. That wont be for a minimum of a year and a half, more likely 2 full years. For that reason calls for a pull out calender at this point are a terrible idea. What Bush should do is announce the framework similar to what i just did, with broad timing estimates.

Bush should say 'once the Iraqi constitution is written and ratified, and the official government is elected under it, we will announce the timeframe for troop drawdown, in cooperation with the wishes of that new Iraqi government'

That is entirely reasonable and should shut up some of the moderate hand wringers in congress starting to sweat at the poll numbers. The American people will accept that.

"But yeah, essentially it's still gonna be another couple of years."

The neo-cons do not have 2 years left. The growing public momentum for US withdrawal is likely to grow just as it has for the last 2 years. With 60% of US public supporting troop withdrawal today, expect support to continue to erode. When the 260 million US population cannot provide 8000 enlistees, grandiose plans to conquer Syria and Iran will never materialize.
Face the facts

"The setbacks have triggered growing concern at the Pentagon, where a senior general said he was worried about declining public support.

"It is concerning that our public isn't as supportive as perhaps they once were," said Marine Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, director of operations for the Pentagon's Joint Staff. "We'd like, I believe, to try to reverse those figures and start the trend back the other direction. Because it's extremely important to the soldier and the Marine, the airman and the sailor over there, to know that their country's behind them."

Conway alluded to the precedent of Vietnam, in which plummeting public support for the war was blamed for undercutting the U.S. effort.

A Gallup poll this week found that about 6 in 10 Americans advocated a partial or full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. This month, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that 41% of Americans approved of how Bush was handling Iraq, the president's worst grade to date.

Drawing a parallel with Vietnam, Conway recounted the story of a Marine colonel negotiating the U.S. withdrawal with his Vietnamese counterpart in 1975.

"And the Marine said to him, 'We beat you every time on the battlefield,' " Conway said. "And the Vietnamese colonel said, 'That is true, but it's also irrelevant.'

"And the fact is, they realized what I think our contemporary enemy realizes — that American public opinion is the center of gravity," Conway said. "That a democracy can't do certain things if, in fact, the citizens don't support it."

i tend to agree with Mark here.

Im not sure I agree with Tom. I dont know how old Tom is, or how versed in recent political history, so lets review some things.

in 1968, 69 and 70 there were large scale riots on numerous college campuses, from the Ivies to large State Universities about the draft and the war. In 1968 there was traumatic conflict in the streets surrounding the Demo convention. in 1970 when the Republicans were running the war, hawkish DEMOCRATIC congressmen were being beaten in primaries by doves on the Viet Nam issue. Thats how Bella Abzug got her start by the way.
Viet Nam dominated the political thoughts of ordinary folks.

Whats it like now? IF you ask someone in a poll, you get a majority saying they want withdrawl. And youve got 40, a grand total of 40, congressmen in a withdrawl from Iraq coalition. Led by that dominating figure in American politics, Max Waters.

Nah. As long as the Hilary Clintons, the Joe Bidens, etc are on board (and they ARE) the admin (which does not = the "neocons" have time.

And the consensus here is that it will take 2 years or so to substantial US withdrawls. Thats NOT what establishes the time limit. Look at the poll numbers on support for Bush on Iraq. Went steadily downward from the initial victory to April 2004, the disaster in Fallujah and the Sadr intifada. Back up in the summer, down in the autumn of violence and frustration. Up again with the Iraqi election, and down with the recent spate of bombings, Iraqi and coalition deaths. We DONT have to have a withdrawl to get the fence sitter in the US public to be patient - we DO need to show real progress. Fewer US casualties, fewer Iraqi civilian casualties, and progress on the political process. I think we could well see that in the next 6 months.

BTW, isnt there a dovish primary challenge to Joe Leiberman in CT? It would be interesting to see how that goes.

Polls, polls, polls. Heck, i'm in favor of a withdrawal. When the job is done. Now ask the American people if they are in favor of an immediate withdrawal and you get a different answer. Ask them if they are in favor of withdrawing once the permanent Iraqi government takes control and you will get a different answer still. There is a concerted media effort underway here to portray the country as out of patience, when as liberalhawk so well put it, we are nowhere near that point. The Dick Durbins of the world are severely overplaying their hands, and again LH is quite right that a lot of it stems from having a severely tainted memory of exactly what happened in the Vietnam era. You may recall that Richard Nixon won the most overwhelming victory in history in 1972, in large part a backlash of middle america against the extreme left. That was 8 years after the Gulf of Tonkin, and perhaps 45,000 deaths, in some country most of the nation had never heard of until the war started and could have cared less about when it ended.
I need hardly mention we've been in Iraq barely 2 years, no where near the level of casualties, and we're talking about a nation and region everyone agrees is of vital US interest.

So in other words, dont get your hopes up that the nation is about to stab our soldiers in the back before they finish the job they are so intent on doing. Bush needs to do a better job explaining the situation and prospects to the American people, no doubt. Once that is done there is no doubt in my mind our nation will support the next critical couple of years and beyond. Withdrawal timelines are premature, but frameworks and metrics are overdue.

And screw Dick Durbin.


Just a minor clarification on my views on the political process. The negotiations with the local Sunni tribes are far more important than with AMS and IIP, in my opinion. Getting the local tribes to reject the insurgency is the way the insurgency will lose support. And with proper backing they will even fight them, as we have seen. However, getting AMS and IIP would give these local groups the Sunni representation on a national level.

As far as the rest goes, liberhawk and Mark pretty much sum up my views on Durbin, withdrawal, American support, etc. Which is nice so I can type less.

Tom (#6), the North Vietnamese Colonel in question was Bui Tin, who had been influential in building the Ho Chi Minh trail. Interesting quote here, may have to scroll. For an interesting reverse perspective, see how he thinks the USA could have won the Vietnam war.

Not sure how it is relevant, but I am 48 years old so I remember the VietNam years well, from a different perspective than most on WOC.

Interestingly, my 14 yr old daughter (valedictorian of her middle school) just wrote a long paper about similarities and differences between the Vietnam war and the Iraq war. Since she is in a bilingual program just writing a 10+ page paper in Spanish was an accomplishment.

One of the differences that she noted was in public opposition to the two wars. Public opposition prior to the Iraq invasion dwarfed any public opposition prior to US troops arrival in Vietnam. However, once the Iraq war started public opposition (in the US) was much more muted than during Vietnam. Personally, I attribute the difference in public response to the draft.

In this context, the reduced enlistment rates will present the ruling Republicans with a choice
a) Downsize their geopolitical ambitions due to insufficient manpower
b) Institute a draft and face the ensuing uproar as an apolitical generation faces physical consequences of geopolitical ambitions.

I would agree that the current moves toward withdrawal are insufficient to impact GWB's plans. But, over the coming years, in my opinion, the most likely scenario is that we "declare victory and go home", leaving the usual mess behind us.

The enlistment rates issue is ridiculously overblown. When a corporation is 2% under its earnings estimates, it doesnt collapse. The truth of the matter is this administration has done very little to encourage public sacrifice for the war on terror. That sort of attitude has created a major seperation between the people fighting the war and the people at home, with those of us that have loved wars overseas in the middle. The upshot is that there is much room for improvement in this area. No-one has seriously pushed enlistment drives much hard than they have been during peacetime, for instance. A nation that fielded a much larger volunteer army 20 years ago is hardly in danger of seeing its recruitment collapse. More attention needs to be paid to investing the majority of the country in this war in general. Another Bush mistake.

Please remember this: "Hope for the best, expect the worst."

Let not place any hope on the AMS. Their leader, Al-Thari, is getting more confrontational everyday with the Iraqi Government. Their hatred for Shiites is too intense for them to ever participate in a Shiite dominate government.

I wonder why the AMS is not considered a terrorist entity.

"In this context, the reduced enlistment rates will present the ruling Republicans with a choice
a) Downsize their geopolitical ambitions due to insufficient manpower
b) Institute a draft and face the ensuing uproar as an apolitical generation faces physical consequences of geopolitical ambitions."

Or they could A. improve military pay, benefits, and bonuses B. drop the dont ask dont tell silliness C. Stop paying security contractors vast sums to hire people away from the military.

As for geopolitical ambititons, i think thats overblown. I dont think there was ever a real intention to go into Syria or Iran.

Congrats to your daughter, but there are several reasons for the differences 1. The draft 2. the overall level of US casualties 3. The political progress in Iraq 4. The strategic situation

I mean by the end, we were fighting in Viet Nam to stop the expansion of Asian communism, while at the SAME time, allying with China as a counter to the USSR. Now what sense did THAT make?

We wont stay there forever, but how long we stay will directly impact how much of a mess we leave behind. As Greg has been arguing, we leave NOW and its a real mess. Two years from now, it wont be perfect, but it will be much better.

Bush should say 'once the Iraqi constitution is written and ratified, and the official government is elected under it, we will announce the timeframe for troop drawdown, in cooperation with the wishes of that new Iraqi government'

Bush should also add, "and if and when, the Constitution and the (separate Iraqi) Bill of Rights meets modern international standards for human rights - secularity being an inalienable human right".

This should put an end to theocratic dreams of the religious fascists and the leftofascists.

I mean by the end, we were fighting in Viet Nam to stop the expansion of Asian communism, while at the SAME time, allying with China as a counter to the USSR. Now what sense did THAT make?

Lots, but why did Bill Clinton arm china ?

Why put Communist worshiping defective Unit "The USA need a new enemy to oppose evil American Imperialism" leftist wackjobs Hazel O Leary in charge of our nukes., and similar defectives in all our govt agencies who say as their mission to destroy america?

Moving authority on tech tranfered from the pentagon to the Commerce dept under the flacky Ron Brown, another communist wackjob.

Playing monsters off one another is not the same as putting crimes agaist humanity excusing leftist wackjob in charge of govt agencies.

I still remember the HUD secratary complaining the clinton admin was staffed by 20-something radicals, out to save the world from capitalism and "American Imperialism and racism"

Clintons feckless disregard is reflected in his choices of leftist wackjobs to run the govt.

Janet baby burner Reno, Clinton carrying water for Castro over Elian Gonzales .. the Cuban slave surrounded by cuban killers then another ring of secret service on american soil.

The cuban doctor brought in with her drug bag to dope the boy up, the violation,subversion of the court proceedings (double standard compare with terri shavo, slam dunk) the Castro with REAL gulags loving leftist media holding up the commie propaganda line.

Breathtaking double standards, in your face commie gulag love, nukes and missle tech for china, chinese army PLA money buying democrat party influence .... Clinton got the money, China got the weapons upgrade.

Al Gores sale of our navy bunker fuel reserves to his chums at occidental petrolium, a one-time-sale and then claiming a ballanced budget ... while at the same time the Chinese military got guided tours of all our military bases and instalations even unto Los Alamos,

Pakistan, Iran and North Korea and China got Hazel O Leary,s big secrets dump to the world (and reclosed by congress quickly, but too late) and started building Nukes,

Clinton responded by offering N Korea a nuclear reactor and huge gifts of fuel oil, Roger Clinton visuts the land of the madman and family death camp gulags to give a concert, Maddie Bomber Albright comments on the fine food and the dancing

Kim Jong, Teddy Bear

During the recent inter-Korean summit, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il was lionized by the establishment Western press as "a teddy bear" who has "changed his image" via a "giant makeover."

Nothing could be further from the truth. Yet patriotic Americans, especially U.S. Korean War veterans should have seen this coming after Roger Clinton -- the president's brother -- recently traveled to North Korea to play with his band in a special concert -- a presidential sibling event not seen since the days of Billy Carter, Billy Beer and his infamous trip to Libya in the 1970s.

The media swooned over their adorable mass murdering socialist gulag running thug like they always do over their beloved socialist=good heros.

We still see attempts to brush over the evil of that place by the leftist media that respects his socialist credentials, the same way they smooch Castro etc...

What, think we have forgotten ?

Commie for China, Hazel O Leary, Clinton Treason

At the same time Energy officials were exchanging information with communist leaders in early 1995, they were dismantling the security system at the nation's top-secret nuclear-weapons research labs. It was also in 1995 that intelligence officers learned that China had stolen from Los Alamos critical data for building miniature nuclear warheads…….. Some experts fear there might be a link between recent Chinese espionage and the administration's trade trips to China. Computer encryption, satellite and energy secrets would be the three most likely things compromised on the trips, they say – Investor’s Business Daily 3/30/99

Officials intercepted news that Chinese agents had returned to the United States and were successful in their efforts to steal the information they needed to develop a Neutron Bomb. The spy also provided details of how the information was transferred from the United States to China. The report prompted a federal criminal investigation

Remember ? I do ..

"The more you look into this business of the transfer of advanced, sophisticated technology to the Chinese military, which seems to be clearly for campaign contributions, the harder it is to stay away from words like treason." - Majority Leader, Dick Armey

More Chinese military stuff here

Heres one of the Gems

Charlie Trie arranged for Wang Jun, chairman of Poly Technologies Inc., an international Chinese weapons dealer, to meet with Mr. Clinton at a Democrat Party event at the White House on Feb. 6, 1996.

At the time Clinton met with Wang, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Customs Service were wrapping up an investigation which caught Wang's company smuggling at least $4 million worth of 2,000 illegal AK-47 assault weapons destined for gang members in California.

Wang's Poly Technologies Inc. is owned and run by the communist Chinese People's Liberation Army. (The New Republic, 1/20/97; Chicago Tribune, 1/5/97; The New York Times, 12/27/96)

Remember Ron Brown ?

The Justice Department began investigating Commerce Secretary Ron Brown on Feb. 19, 1995 for violation of tax and financial disclosure laws and whether he took money from people seeking to influence him. Apparently, he took bribes from almost everybody saying it is part of the way Washington works. Ron Brown was still under investigation by an Independent Counsel when he died mysteriously in a plane crash in 1996.

Former Brown business associate and lover Nolanda Hill revealed on the June 18, 1997 ABC Prime time Live that deceased Cabinet Secretary Ron Brown was set to accept a $700,000 cash payoff from Vietnam in return for pushing normalized trade relations with the communist country.

Ya know, the one thing Ive noted is a lack of scandals indictments and criminal convictions that defined the Clinton era.

And it certainly isnt because the media isnt looking for dirt to get bush ...

The lack of criminals treason and selling the country out compared to the clintonistas is a marked contrast.

Its breath taking the amount of clintonita corruption, treason, harm to the country.

So the democrats are reduced down to making up stuff ... BusHitler et all,

They run communists crimes agaist humanity regime helping, America military sliming, to deliver aid and confort, to those useing REAL not FAKE, torture that had 100s of our POWs dieing in agony waiting thru the kerry-2-year-delay cooked up in paris,,,, leftist ingrate slimeballs like Kerry for President.
Viva la Difference

Raymond, you speak like a real communist, but than what are neo-con's but old commies. I don't think that there has ever been an American president that harmed his country as much as Bush.

"The USA need a new enemy to oppose evil American Imperialism"

Sadly it is true that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

ps. The US is using real torture and i would gladly see it used on you if that is what is needed to change your mind.

"a" writes: I don't think that there has ever been an American president that harmed his country as much as Bush.

In all seriousness, your comment only reveals a shallow understanding of the history of the United States or a pathological fondness for excessive rhetoric.

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