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March 6, 2009
Missed Anniversary (II)By Greyhawk
(Previous entry - covering 1991-1998 - here)
Within a few days many will mistakenly mark the "6th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War". They will be 12 years too late.
A brief look at a events (and media coverage) from late February/early March 1999, as the eighth year of the war in Iraq ended and the ninth began.
February 6, 1999: The Guardian:
Thus the world's most notorious pariah state, armed with its half-built hoard of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, tried to embrace the planet's most prolific terrorist. It was the stuff of the West's millennial nightmares, but United States intelligence officials are positive that the meeting took place, although they admit that they have no idea what happened.And
Saddam Hussein's regime has opened talks with Osama bin Laden, bringing closer the threat of a terrorist attack using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, according to US intelligence sources and Iraqi opposition officials.The previous month, Newsweek (see also here):
IN THE NO-FLY ZONES OF northern and southern Iraq, Saddam Hussein's gunners blindly fired surface-to-air missiles at patrolling American and British warplanes. In Yemen, terrorists seized a group of British Commonwealth and American tourists, and four of the hostages died in a shootout. In Tel Aviv, the U.S. Embassy abruptly closed down after receiving a terrorist threat. Perhaps it was just a typical week in the Middle East. But in a region where no one puts much faith in blind coincidence, last week's conjunction of Iraqi antiaircraft fire and terrorism aimed at the countries that had just bombed Iraq convinced some that a new conspiracy was afoot.19 February, 1999 (The Independent):
...Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, the popular leader of the Shia Muslims of Iraq, got into his car to drive to his house, as he did every day, from his office on the outskirts of the holy city of Najaf near the Euphrates, southwest of Baghdad. With him were his two sons, Mustapha and Mu'ammal, who acted as his chief assistants, and a driver.
In the first detailed account of the assassination, The Independent has learnt that when the car entered a roundabout, it was hit by machine-gun fire from one or more positions. Within seconds, the gunmen lying in ambush riddled the car with bullets and the men inside were dead or dying. Relatives say Iraqi security forces immediately sealed off the area and would not allow even an ambulance through.February 24, 1999, CENTCOM: COALITION REACTS TO CONTINUED UNSCR VIOLATIONS
MACDILL AFB, FL – At approximately 10:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time today, U.S. Air Force F-15E "Strike Eagle," and U.S. Navy F/A-18 "Hornet" aircraft enforcing the Southern No-Fly Zone in Iraq, struck two Iraqi surface-to-air missile sites near Al Iskandariyah, about 30 miles south of Baghdad.
The strikes were in response to an Iraqi aircraft violation of the no-fly zone and Anti-Aircraft Artillery fire directed at coalition aircraft.
In addition to the strikes reported earlier in the vicinity of Al Iskandariyah, U.S. Central Command reports U.S. Air Force F-16C/J aircraft fired two High-speed Anti Radiation Missiles in response to illumination from an integrated air defense radar site near Tallil.
Voice of America:
US WARPLANES HAVE STRUCK IRAQI AIR DEFENSE INSTALLATIONS ON THE OUSKIRTS OF BAGHDAD. IRAQI AUTHORITIES SAY A NUMBER OF CIVILIANS HAVE BEEN KILLED OR WOUNDED IN THE ATTACKFebruary 25, 1999, Transcript, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Hugh Shelton press conference:
Q: VOA: General, Baghdad has complained that the latest raid actually took place outside the no-fly zone, in fact was on the outskirts of Baghdad and is calling it a grave escalation. Do you have any comment on that?
SHELTON: Yes, first of all, let me say that anything coming out of Baghdad, I think should be questioned in terms of its veracity since we have seen very little of the truth come from Iraq in recent years. But I think that the United Nations, and indeed the international community in general, have made it very clear that Iraq must comply with the United Nations Security Council resolutions, that it must end its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and that it must comply with, for example, the no-fly zone and the no-drive zone. That ties into United States' policy of containment and continued enforcement of United Nations' resolutions and we intend to continue to do that, both the no-fly zone as well as containing them in terms of maritime interdiction operations.
Actions by our coalition aircraft that are in there are taken in self defense, in response to Saddam's acts of provocation, his aggressive acts. As you know, he declared that the no-fly zone would be null and void and consequently has, in recent days, decided to both violate the no-fly zone as well as to fire his anti-aircraft artillery, his surface-to-air missiles and light up our aircraft with radar, which are an offensive action within itself. We subsequently engaged each time that he has made those violations and will continue to do so. We will continue to enforce the no-fly zone. We operate only up to the 33rd parallel, which is basically the boundary for the southern no-fly zone, and we do not go south of the 36th. We have not, and at this point do not intend to do that as an enforcement mechanism. So the report he is running is erroneous. We have not gone across the 33rd nor south of the 36th.
February 27, 1999, CENTCOM: COALITION RESPONDS TO IRAQI AGGRESSION
MACDILL AFB, FL – At approximately 1 a.m. Eastern Standard Time today, U.S. Air Force F-15E "Strike Eagles" and U.S. Navy F/A-18 "Hornets" and F-14 "Tomcats" enforcing the Operation Southern Watch No-Fly Zone struck two Iraqi military communication facilities.
The strikes were conducted near As Samawah, which is approximately 130 miles southeast of Baghdad and Al Amarah, which is approximately 170 miles southeast of Baghdad. The strikes were in response to anti-aircraft artillery fire directed at coalition aircraft on a previous mission.
February 28, 1999: INCIRLIK AIR BASE, TURKEY -- Between 1:55 and 2:15 p.m. Iraqi time, while conducting routine enforcement of the northern no-fly zone, and in response to anti-aircraft artillery fire, a flight of U.S. F-15Es launched three AGM-130 air-to-ground guided missiles and dropped three GBU-24 laser-guided bombs on an Iraqi air defense headquarters and radio relay site.
Additonally, between 2:13 and 2:35 p.m. Iraqi time, F-15Es dropped three GBU-12 and three GBU-24 laser-guided bombs on the radio relay site, as well as on an Iraqi surface-to-air missile site.
The Iraqi radio relay site was being used by the Iraqi government to pass targeting data from Iraqi's radars to Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery guns shooting at coalition aircraft.
Coalition forces did not target nor was there damage to an Iraqi pipeline or an Iraqi oil pumping station.
The incidents happened near Mosul, Iraq.
February 28, 1999, US Army Public Affairs: Bush tells Gulf vets why Hussein left in Baghdad
Former President George Bush took the opportunity at the "8th Annual Reunion of Our Victory in the Desert" Feb. 28 to explain his reason for stopping Operation Desert Storm after 100 hours.Later PBS interview with General Norman Schwarzkopf:
Q: Everyone's always said to me "Oh, they had a very clear objective" you know, "Get rid of the Iraqis from Kuwait." Could you explain to me in headline terms, just very briefly, why wasn't that good enough?
March 1, 1999: United Nations -- The United Nations has reported that Iraq is not distributing about $275 million worth of medical supplies and a significant quantity of other goods have not been distributed or, in some cases, even ordered under the Security Council program designed to help Iraqi civilians.
In a written report to the Security Council on the "oil-for-food" program, Secretary General Kofi Annan said he is concerned over the long delays between the time supplies arrive in Iraqi warehouses and when the Iraqi Government distributes the supplies to civilians.
INCIRLIK AIR BASE, TURKEY -- Between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. Iraqi time, while conducting routine enforcement of the northern no-fly zone, and in response to several incidents of Iraqi radar targeting coalition aircraft, U.S. F-15Es dropped more than thirty 2,000 pound and 500 pound laser guided bombs on Iraqi communications sites, radio relay sites, and anti-aircraft artillery sites.
The incidents happened near Mosul, Iraq.
There was no damage to coalition aircraft.
Damage to Iraqi forces is currently under assessment.
March 2, 1999, European Stars And Stripes:
More than two months after the four days and 100 targets of Operation Desert Fox, the United States, with help from the British, continues an almost daily string of airstrikes against Iraq at the provocation of President Saddam Hussein’s air defenses.Air Force Print News:
Coalition forces strike with 'greater flexibility'
March 3, 1999: "Iraq remains a serious threat to international peace and security. I remain determined to see Iraq comply fully with all of its obligations under Security Council resolutions," President Clinton said in his March 3 report to Congress on the status of efforts to obtain Iraq's compliance with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.
March 3, 1999: United Nations -- The United States, along with the other members of the Security Council, wants to see Iraqi oil exports under the "oil-for-food" program "up and running as quickly as possible," US Ambassador Nancy Soderberg said March 3.
Talking with journalists after the head of the UN's Iraq program briefed council members privately, Soderberg said that "there was general agreement that the oil must begin to flow and that we want to get it up and running as quickly as possible."
The Iraqi pipeline "was not hit; the pumping stations were not hit; and we absolutely do not target civilians -- that's absolutely false," the ambassador said, referring to Baghdad's claims that US pilots hit the pipeline, stopping the oil exports.
"The area that was hit was, in our belief, part of the Iraqi air defense system communications area. The Iraq command and control is part of the area that is threatening our pilots," she said.
Soderberg said that she reminded the council that "US forces in the region are acting to protect the vulnerable population of Iraq."
March 4, 1999, CENTCOM: COALITION AIRCRAFT STRIKE TARGETS SOUTH OF AL BASRAH
MACDILL AFB, FL – At approximately 8:15 a.m. Eastern Standard Time today, British Royal Air Force GR-1 "Tornado" aircraft enforcing the Southern No-Fly Zone struck an Iraqi military radar site approximately 15 miles south of Al Basrah near Ash Shuaybah.
The strikes were in response to two Iraqi violations of the Southern No-Fly Zone and aircraft illuminations by Iraqi surface-to-air missile sites.
March 6, 1999, Voice of America:
U-S WARPLANES LAUNCHED NEW ATTACKS ON IRAQI AIR DEFENSE INSTALLATIONS IN THE NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN NO-FLY ZONES OVER IRAQ SATURDAY. THE LATEST CLASHES COME JUST TWO DAYS AFTER IRAQ RESUMED PUMPING OIL THROUGH A PIPELINE DAMAGED IN SIMILAR STRIKES EARLIER IN THE WEEK.March 8, 1999: UNSCOM CHIEF: SECURITY COUNCIL UNITY ON IRAQI WEAPONS ESSENTIAL
New York -- The major obstacle in ridding Iraq of its banned chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missiles is a divided Security Council, not allegations that UN weapons inspectors were spies, the head of the UN special Commission overseeing the destruction of Iraqi weapons (UNSCOM) says.
Posted by Greyhawk / March 6, 2009 11:00 AM | Permalink
A previous entry in this series here. ***** Events of March 14-21, 1999: Unacknowledged in the United States, the war in Iraq continued. ***** 14 March, 1999, CENTCOM:COALITION AIRCRAFT RESPOND TO SURFACE-TO-AIR MISSILE FIRE MACDILL AFB, FL – At appr... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com