Joel A. Arends

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Joel A. Arends, a "13-year National Guard veteran",[1] served in Baghdad, Iraq, "from 2003 – 2005 ... with the 1st Cav Division as an Infantry Platoon Leader and eventually as Company Commander."[2][3][4]

Arends is listed in May 2007 as a paid staffer for Republican 2008 presidential hopeful John McCain.[5] At an August 8, 2007, O'Brien County Republican Summer Gala in Paullina, Iowa, Arends was described as "now a surrogate for Senator McCain's campaign".[6]

Arends, "who unsuccessfully ran for the Iowa [Statehouse] while living in Sioux City in 2000",[4] is cited in an August 14, 2007, e-letter as National Field Director of the pro-war in Iraq Republican front group Vets for Freedom.[7]

Also in August 2007, Arends was identified as the replacement for Craig Dewey as Americans for Prosperity's South Dakota Assistant State Director.[8]

He is a member of[4] and has previously worked with Families United for Our Troops and Their Mission, another pro-war in Iraq organization.[2]

About the military mission in Iraq

"'Our mission was to hunt, track down and capture the enemy, and although it sounds simple, it was anything but,'" Arends told a local South Dakota reporter in February 2006.[9] "'The first problem is, you are never quite sure who the enemy is. They don't wear uniforms or carry ID and they fight in small groups or terrorist cells. They don't fight toe-to-toe, they more than likely hit you and run. It's a new kind of war for a new moment in time.'

"During his time in Iraq, and more specifically Baghdad, Arends completed more than 600 combat patrols. He said the patrols were wildly unpredictable.

"'We would go on patrols with 40 other guys. On one block in Baghdad you might be holding discussions with neighborhood leaders to get intelligence. In the second block you may be handing out supplies in exchange for information. And in the next few blocks you might be in a fire fight with the bad guys,' he said. 'It is like being a cop on a beat. You have to ingratiate yourself to the community and let them know it is OK not to be afraid, that you are there to try and get the bad guys'," Arends said.[9]

Plan to embed and blog

In August 2006, Arends wrote[2] that the was "planning a trip to Iraq through the DOD embed journalist program for the last part of August before law school starts" and was "in the initial planning stage and still gauging support at this point" with the intent "to link up with a South Dakota National Guard Unit that [had] lost four guys and [was] due to demob in October. [He] would be providing daily stories to any national media, local media here in the Sioux Falls, SD area, blogging and live phone interviews, etc... [He was] also contemplating taking a cameraman from a local t.v. station who is interested" and would "also be hooking up with a MITT team which [he] trained, after returning from Iraq, while working with the 91st at Ft. Carson. They have been training Iraqi soldiers and their progress is worth getting the word out about."

Arends was "seeking access to national conservative broadcast outlets and financing" and "access to people who can hook [him] up with nationwide radio programs such as Laura Ingraham, G. Gordon Liddy, Hugh Hewitt, etc..., broadcasters who would be interested in interviewing [him] while [he was] there and linking to blog content."[2]

It would appear that Arends was basing his plan—and budget—on that of VFF co-founder Wade Zirkle, who also returned to Iraq in 2006:

"Zirkle's budget was around 2-3k per person, of which 90% was for airfare. If I took another person I am estimating I would need 5k."[2]


U.S. Army Reserve Captain Joel Arends[10] served as Platoon Leader and Company Commander for the 1st Cavalry Division. He is a "recent graduate from the University of South Dakota Law School".[11]

In 2006 Arends was named one of the 50 Heroes in the Global War on Terror by the Department of Defense."[3]

"Then-1st Lt. Arends and his team of 30 soldiers operated in and around Baghdad from February 2004 to April 2005. They were responsible for catching a number of terrorists, including one carrying bomb-making materials, jidhadist propaganda and large sums of cash. The terrorist claimed to be a professor at a major university in the United States. They also captured one of Saddam Hussein's personal bodyguards. Another time, Arends' team rescued Iraqi civilians from burning vehicles when insurgents attacked a checkpoint near their patrol area. Members of the team rushed into the flames and pulled several Iraqi civilians out of burning vehicles and administered lifesaving medical treatment. For his efforts, Arends was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in March 2005. Arends is now a Captain in the Army Reserve."[3]


Related SourceWatch articles


  1. James Detar, "Arends Was Cool In The Heat,", June 5, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Joel A. Arends, "Help a US Soldier Spread the TRUTH About Iraq," Publius' Forum Blogspot, August 31, 2006.
  3. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Bret Hayworth, "Soldier says Iraq a place of great progress," Sioux City (Iowa) Journal (Families United for Our Troops and Their Mission), April 9, 2006: "Arends enlisted in the National Guard at age 17, and served in Iraq with the Arkansas National Guard from February 2004 to April 2005. He left his USD law school studies with the deployment, and is now back at school, just eight months from his degree."
  4. " First quarter Iowa-related spending by presidential candidates,", May 15, 2007.
  5. Don McDowell, "O'Brien County Republican Summer Gala," Cyclone Conservatives Blogspot, August 9, 2007.
  6. "Letter from Vets for Freedom," Cedar River Salmon Blogspot.
  7. PP, "I hate when that happens...," South Dakota War College Blog, August 12, 2007.
  8. 9.0 9.1 Tera Schmidt, "Veteran: Iraq War Also Fought On Homefront," Yankton Press & Dakotan, February 22, 2006.
  9. About: National Leadership Team, Vets for Freedom, accessed August 14, 2007.
  10. Joel Arends,, accessed August 14, 2007.

External articles

External resources