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(Origianlly posted 2006-02-04 18:00:41 - bumped for the Moday crowd)
One week of developments in Iraq - and the home front.
Last week ended with a major operation for Iraqi troops. The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Iraqi Troops Hit A Stronghold Of InsurgentsBut before the weekend was over the news had turned grim:
Iraqi forces clashed yesterday with insurgents near the notorious airport road and in other districts of western Baghdad, arresting nearly 60 people as the sounds of a rousing song, "Where are the terrorists now?" blared from police car loudspeakers.
Woodruff, Vogt, and their four-man team were in the lead vehicle traveling in a convoy with Iraqi security forces. They were standing up in the back hatch of their vehicle taping a video log of the patrol at the time of the attack.Such an IED was likely detonated by an observer - and it's equally likely the visible news team was deliberately targeted by the attackers.
The ambush of the convoy was complex. The explosions was followed by small arms fire from three different directions. Iraqi security forces spread out looking for the triggermen while U.S. troops tended to Woodruff and Vogt.
(Shoot)... the reporter carrying the camera. First because the camera can be used as binoculars; second, it is the most difficult thing to hide the death of a reporter in Iraq.
In other news, Al Jazeera television broadcast a second videotape of the kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll, and the captors of four members of "Christian Peacemaker Teams" abducted in November renewed their threat to kill the hostages if all Iraqi prisoners were not set free.
In Britain, citizens held protests and candlelight vigils Wednesday to express anger over their country's involvement in the Iraq war.
Protests Mark Britain's 100th Fatality In IraqAnd in TV News news, CNN's Christiane Amanpour declared that: a) "The War in Iraq has turned out basically to be a disaster" and b) "journalists have paid for it."
The demonstrations came a day after the death of the 100th British servicemember in Iraq. Cpl. Gordon Pritchard, 31, of Scotland, was killed Tuesday by a roadside bomb in the southern town of Um Qasr.
Foreign Minister Jack Straw said Wednesday that there are "active discussions about how we draw down our troops on a province-by-province basis," contingent on the security situation. "I think we'll see, over the next 12 months, some good news in that respect," he told BBC Radio.
That second point might be contended on relative terms by coalition military members, their families, and citizens of Iraq, but the first bit deserves consideration.
And that's why we're here.
Lets start with some raw numbers, from that USA Today coverage of the 100th British death in Iraq:
Britain's 8,000 troops comprise the second-largest contingent in the Iraq coalition. The United States, which has about 138,000 troops in Iraq, has suffered 2,236 fatalities since the March 2003 invasion.That's almost right. Actually, Britain ranks third in number of troops in the coalition. The US, with 138,000 (down from a peak of 161,000 in October and nearly that level in December) is second, and Iraq has the most, with 227,000 trained security personnel. Ignoring Iraq as a member of the coalition is a key element in denying the reality of the situation there - and this slight is accomplished without a second thought in virtually every media report on the subject. Expect casualty figures this year to reflect those numbers, but thus far (and it's way too early to draw conclusions) attacks in Iraq have declined.
One reason for that reduction may be that last year's numbers were unsustainably high. But...
- While the number of attacks on coalition and Iraqi forces, as well as on Iraqi civilians, rose by 29 percent in 2005, the "success rate" of the attacks - those that caused casualties or damage - has held relatively constant at 24 percent.More on that report later. First, some observations from on the ground.
- The total number of roadside bomb, or "improvised explosive device," attacks nearly doubled from 5,607 in 2004 to 10,953 last year. But the success rate tumbled from about 30 percent in 2004 to just 10 percent in 2005.
Reporter Joe Galloway, whose experience in the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam led to the book "We Were Soldiers Once, and Young", is no friend of the US administration, nor is he a "supporter" of the Iraq war. But this week he too took the risk of reporting from Iraq:
In some places the news was bad: The insurgents had surged back into rural areas of the Triangle when a unit responsible for the area hunkered down in their outposts and left it to the enemy. Now a successor unit was fighting hard to take the countryside back and was suffering casualties almost every day.Read it all.
In other areas, the news was good: In less than six months Marines of the 2nd Regimental Combat Team in al-Asad and soldiers of the Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment have taken back the towns and cities along a broad swath of the western part of Iraq, along the Syrian border. The ability of insurgents to smuggle weapons and foreign fighters through a once unguarded border and mount attacks has fallen.
More than 50 new Iraq border police forts, each with at least two dozen troops, have opened along the border with Syria. With good communications and rapid reaction forces ready to come to their aid, the border police have become more aggressive, the American commanders told me.
In the ancient city of Tal Afar, where insurgents last summer blew up all the Iraqi police stations and drove the police out of town, there is almost an air of peace. New police stations have been built. More than 1,500 policemen are back on duty.
The Washington Post offers a look at Mosul, where violence is still common, but the number of reported attacks is down 57% from last year's peak. The handover of security there to Iraqi forces is ongoing:
So far, two Iraqi battalions, roughly 1,500 men, have been given authority over sectors of the city formerly patrolled by American units. U.S. commanders plan to put a third battalion in charge of another area soon. If all goes as planned, Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province will be in the hands of 24,000 Iraqi troops by November.A notable (perhaps stunning) point is made at the end of the story:
Although ethnic rivalry in Mosul has been a problem in the past -- many Arabs were upset in 2003 when, during the U.S. invasion, Kurdish militiamen entered the city -- the Iraqi soldiers, both Kurds and Arabs, say they have put aside their differences.
"What I have told my soldiers is that it does not matter who are or where you're from, as long as you protect this city," Lt. Col. Amar Abdullah, the Arab commander of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade of the Iraqi army's 2nd Division, said after his unit formally took control of a sector of Mosul in a ceremony last week.
Abdulahmed's daughter-in-law, Laela Shaikhow, was watching an episode of "Melrose Place" as soldiers entered the house. She didn't need the Arabic subtitles; born in Manchester, England, she spoke perfect English.Now lets take the highway from Mosul to Baghdad. Via email, Haider Ajina sends his translation of a story from the January 31st edition of “Sot al-Iraq”:
Shaikhow, 26, returned to Britain for six months last year, but came back to Iraq in October because she found it difficult to adapt to life in the West, especially as a religious Sunni Muslim. Despite the violence in Mosul, she said she intended to stay.
"I still prefer it here to over there," she said. "Even over there, the crime is terrible."
”Iraqi forces receive security responsibility of Major Highway”Haider comments:
‘Iraqi forces receive full securest responsibility for the main highway between Mousul & Baghdad. Iraqi army third Brigade received today Tuesday the responsibility for securing the main highway between Mousul and the capital Baghdad from the U.S. Army’s 172nd Striker Brigade.
‘The official announcement from the multi national forces said that the 1st battalion 3rd brigade 2nd division of the Iraqi army is the most recent unit to receive its area of responsibility in Mousul. Battalion Commander Ali Almola confirmed his and his men’s preparedness to perform all their security and military responsibilities in their area of responsibility’.
More evidence almost daily now that Iraqis are taking back the control of their country province by province area by area. Every time we graduate a brigade they get assigned their area of responsibility for which they were trained. This type of fundamental and methodical training and deployment of well trained competent Iraqi troops will assure the survival of the fledgling Iraqi democracy and the defeat of terrorism.Arriving in Baghdad, we find Haider offers news from that city as well:
Greetings,CENTOM offers additional details:
The following is my translation of a headline and news published by the Iraqi Arabic newspaper “Nina” on January 31st.
“Iraqi forces receive security responsibility in the Green Zone”
‘Iraqi army 5th Brigade, of the 6th Division received security responsibility for the green zone and surrounding areas and has taken over camp ‘Honor’ as their base.
‘Iraqi general ‘Mubdir’ commander of the Iraqi army 6th division (the division responsible for Baghdad’s security) said; “Receiving responsibility for the green zone is the first step to receiving the responsibility for many other areas of Baghdad, we will receive the security responsibility for the rest of Baghdad in the next few days. The defense department has put together a new plan for Baghdad access points. This plan will stop the infiltration of armed groups from other areas”. He added;” The number of foreign fighters in Baghdad is small since most of them have run away to other areas”.
‘Colonel Mohammad Wasif, commander, of the 5th brigade said; “We have an agreement with the multi national forces to deploy most of the men of the Iraqi army 5th Brigade at access points rather than deploy them at the interior of the green zone and that the U.S. and British embassies and other sensitive building will still fall under multi national forces”.
BAGHDAD, Iraq –Even more from Jonathan Finer, reporting from Iraq for the Washington Post:
The Iraqi Army’s 5th Brigade, 6th Division, assumed control of Forward Operating Base Honor from the 4th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team during a transfer of authority ceremony Jan. 31.
“This brigade is responsible for protecting Iraq’s new government here in the International Zone,” said Col. Mohammad Wasif, commander, 5th Bde., 6th Iraqi Army Div. “The brigade consists of three battalions. We will work day and night to achieve our mission for the new government of Iraq.”
FOB Honor is located in the palace district in central Baghdad and housed the former Baathist regime prior to the war.
“The turnover of FOB Honor demonstrates the increased capability of Col. Mohammed’s brigade to assume greater responsibility and security of Baghdad,” said Col. Michael Beech, commander 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div. “The 5th Brigade has earned a reputation of being a tough, well-trained and well-led unit,” he said.
The Iraqi 5th brigade’s 3rd Battalion will occupy the area in South FOB Honor and 1st and 2nd Battalions will occupy the area in North FOB Honor.
“Today is another great step forward for the future of Iraq,” said Maj. Gen. Mubdar Hatim Hazya Al-Duleimi, commanding general, 6th Iraqi Army Div. “Today we lay a new brick in the building of our Army,” he said. “We are committed to the citizens of this country and this army and will defend our homes from the threats of the terrorists as we bring freedom back to this country.”
“With the seating of the new government and the increased capability of Iraqi security forces, I’m very optimistic,” said Beech. “I think 2006 is going to be a great year for Iraq.”
The ceremony was more than a month behind schedule, and the area transferred to Iraqi control significantly smaller than originally planned: 20 buildings inside Baghdad's Green Zone instead of the fortified complex's entire perimeter.Stories like Finer's demonstrate the depth of coverage that can be provided by dedicated journalists willing to spend months in Iraq to present unvarnished truth. While the transfer of authority may not be moving as fast as many would prefer, progress is being made - and not at the convenience of the bring them home now crowd.
But for Iraqi Col. Muhammed Wasif Taha, commander of the Iraqi army's 5th Brigade, 6th Division, which assumed responsibility for Forward Operating Base Honor from U.S. forces Tuesday, it was cause for celebration.
In December, Iraq's Defense Ministry balked at confirming Taha and put forward its own nominee, a more senior officer from the predominantly Shiite city of Kut, southeast of Baghdad. As a result, the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which policed the capital for a year before rotating out of Iraq this month, lowered the Iraqi unit's readiness rating and indefinitely postponed the Green Zone transfer, which had been slated for Dec. 27.
"The handover was contingent upon their leadership remaining where it was," Col. Ed Cardon, commander of the 3rd Infantry's 4th Brigade, said at the time.
In the end, both sides blinked, though neither capitulated.
By giving the Iraqis the base, the Americans took a step toward handing over much of central Baghdad, and commanders said Tuesday that more territory would likely be transferred in the next few weeks, as the Iraqi unit's final evaluation is completed. Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry authorized Taha's appointment, while reserving the right to replace him at a later date, according to a ministry spokesman who spoke on the condition that he not be named.
But quickly enough that at least one US unit finds itself in "limbo" - sitting in Kuwait until it can be determined if they're needed in Iraq at all.
And if these efforts are successful they won't be - Newsweek reports that American officials in Iraq are in face-to-face talks with high-level Iraqi Sunni insurgents. Although "back door" diplomatic efforts have been reported before,
This marks the first time either Americans or insurgents have admitted that "senior leaders" have met at the negotiating table for planning purposes. "Those who are coming to work with [the U.S.] or come to an understanding with [the U.S.], even if they worked with Al Qaeda in a tactical sense in the past—and I don't know that—they are willing to fight Al Qaeda now," says a Western diplomat in Baghdad who has close knowledge of the discussions.Although the overall mission remains the same, more subtle changes in the US approach in Iraq will likely become evident in the coming months:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — With a new general in charge, the plan to fight Iraq’s insurgents is expected to emphasize improvements in Iraqis’ quality of life, rather than killing or capturing guerrillas.Which brings us back to the insurgents - and that report we referenced earlier.
Army Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, who became commander of Multi-National Corps Iraq last week, said he would employ across Iraq many of the strategies he used to quell uprisings in Baghdad when he led the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division in 2003 and 2004.
“It was not uncommon for the 1st Cavalry Division to be engaged in intense urban combat in one part of the city, while just a few blocks away we had units replacing damaged infrastructure, helping to foster small business growth, or facilitating the development of local government,” Chiarelli told The Associated Press in an e-mail.
The goal, he said, is to “deprive insurgents and terrorists of their support base” among disaffected Iraqis — part of a strategy that parallels U.S. political overtures to the Sunni Arabs.
Iraqi and foreign guerrillas have proven themselves masters of political and psychological warfare, but remain far from prevailing in the bomb-and-run war they continue to conduct.In addition to the findings we cited above, Cordesman's study also notes that
That is the conclusion of an exhaustive study of the insurgency in Iraq just concluded by one of the most respected U.S. military experts, Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
A frequent Pentagon critic who has made repeated research trips to Iraq to analyze the war, Cordesman contends in an analysis released Thursday that victory remains very much up for grabs.
While "insurgents continue to carry out a large number of successful killings, assassinations, kidnappings, extortions and expulsions," Cordesman wrote, the anti-U.S. forces are "not able to increase (their) success rate, establish sanctuaries, win larger-scale military clashes, or dominate the field."
- Attacks have ebbed and flowed, with marked acceleration evident before elections and other important moments. Before the Oct. 15 referendum last year on the new constitution, attacks peaked at about 700 a week. By last month, however, they had dropped by almost half, to about 430 weekly.Further, he concludes that only a strong Iraqi government - and security force - can bring stability. And he delivers what should be a wake up call to the media - and it's consumers:
But Cordesman also depicts an insurgency especially skilled at morphing as necessary to counter advances by its enemies, and consistently successful in exploiting the Arab and foreign media, pushing assorted symbolic "hot buttons," and fostering conspiracy theories that U.S. forces have trouble debunking.We reached the same conclusion last year.
The insurgents have learned that media reporting on their attacks serves as an indicator of their success and has taught them which high-profile targets to go after in the future. Cordesman calls these attacks "weapons of mass media."
They also are adept at exaggerating the number of casualties caused by U.S. attacks and know that, if they take shelter in mosques, shrines or other "high-value" sites, they can twist any American assault into an "anti-Muslim" act.
Even so, Cordesman wrote, the insurgency has little of permanence to show for its efforts.
"Much of its activity consists of bombings of soft civilian targets, designed largely to provoke a more intense civil war or halt the development of an effective Iraqi government, rather than progress towards control at even the local level," he wrote.
Iraqi Shiite Militia Blames U.S. As Car Bombs Kill At Least 11Major Charles Moore, an Army officer serving in Baghdad, writes in the Washington Times
BAGHDAD, Feb. 2 -- Black-clad members of a Shiite Muslim militia that battled U.S. forces nearly two years ago took to the streets of an eastern Baghdad neighborhood Thursday evening following a pair of car bombings that killed at least 11 people and wounded dozens.
The blasts -- the first of which erupted near a fuel truck, sending a billowing fireball skyward -- came minutes apart in the capital's Amin district. Along with several residents, members of the Mahdi Army, which staged two violent uprisings against U.S. forces in 2004, blamed American troops for the attacks, claiming they had not permitted the militia to police the area on its own.
"We formed two committees to protect the neighborhood because neither the Americans nor the Iraqis are able to do it," said Abu Zahra, 40, a fighter in the Mahdi Army, which is loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr. "They did not allow us and said they would arrest us if they saw us in the streets. And now, this is the result."
New Year's resolutions are hard to keep. I am already struggling to keep this year's resolution. I promised myself I'd give the headlines more than a scant passing as I rush about my daily activities. This year I vowed to look beyond the black clouds of death and destruction rising over Baghdad and other parts of Iraq and seek their meaning before passing judgment.Read the whole thing.
Thucydides, the renowned historian of the war between Athens and Sparta, warned us long ago that "little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." It is no easy task to avoid adopting that vulgar simplicity while watching the seemingly endless bombings in Iraq. My resolution attempts to focus my attention; in part I do this to honor the sacrifice of the fallen, but also to discern meaning from the endless flurry of the 24-hour news cycle.
On Jan. 5, during the vetting of Iraqi police volunteers, a suicide bomber exploded his vest, killing 76 and wounding over 100. The major news agencies instantly carried the update showing the obligatory frenetic hospital scenes and bewildered victims. The story was soon eclipsed by the death of 11 Americans, and almost as quickly as the blast itself, the story was relegated to the back pages. But there is so much more to this story than just wailing mourners and confused emergency rooms — if only we had time.
This bombing occurred in Ramadi, a former insurgent stronghold. The victims were mostly Sunni men applying to join the Iraqi police. The attacker was most likely a Sunni extremist demented by a virulent Islamist ideology. After the evacuation of the wounded and the dead something truly newsworthy took place. Unfortunately, the cameras were long gone by then. What happened was that the stunned volunteers got back in line. Standing among the scarred concrete blast barriers on a blood-strewn street, the predominantly Sunni men of the city of Ramadi got back in line.
Now some will instantly discount this act as a stark symptom of poverty in a country that averages 30 percent unemployment. Others, however, may see a different story. Sunni Arab men waded through the charred remains of their friends to continue their petition for service in the police at the start of what most consider the critical year for Iraq: a year in which the success or failure of the new government will rest increasingly upon the police. These Iraqis — mercilessly reminded of the dangers they will face — got back in line and refused to be cowed by the insidious act of a lone bomber.
The week - and the Iraq portion of this roundup - began with a report of Iraqi troops capturing large numbers of insurgents. It concludes with more of the same, from today's LA Times:
Iraqi police and soldiers rounded up 59 people Friday in crackdowns in Baghdad and the southern city of Basra.And so it goes.
At least 22 people were detained and weapons were seized in raids before dawn Friday in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, the Iraqi army said.
An additional 37 people, including five Palestinians and a Syrian, were arrested in Baghdad's Dora district, the Interior Ministry said. The neighborhood is mostly Sunni Arab and has seen frequent bombings, ambushes and assassinations.
The home front - support the troops edition:
One result of the wounding of ABC newsmen Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt has been some exceptional overage of the medical teams providing care to the wounded in Iraq. Here's a profile of two neurosurgeons serving at Balad Air Base. And here's a story of the care given on the medevac flight to Germany.
None of that stopped the Washington Post from running a cartoon implying that the military treats wounded troops as little more than administrative annoyances. This prompted a response from several GIs - including these guys
A Reprehensible Cartoon
We were extremely disappointed to see the Jan. 29 editorial cartoon by Tom Toles.
Using the likeness of a service member who has lost his arms and legs in war as the central theme of a cartoon was beyond tasteless. Editorial cartoons are often designed to exaggerate issues, and The Post is obviously free to address any topic, including the state of readiness of the armed forces. However, The Post and Mr. Toles have done a disservice to readers and to The Post's reputation by using such a callous depiction of those who volunteered to defend this nation and, as a result, suffered traumatic and life-altering wounds.
Those who visit wounded veterans in hospitals have found lives profoundly changed by pain and loss. They also have found brave men and women with a sense of purpose and selfless commitment that causes battle-hardened warriors to pause.
While The Post and some of its readers may not agree with the war or its conduct, these men and women and their families are owed the decency of not having a cartoon make light of their tremendous physical sacrifices.
As the joint chiefs, we rarely put our hand to one letter, but we cannot let this reprehensible cartoon go unanswered.
PETER PACE, General, U.S. Marine Corps, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
EDMUND P. GIAMBASTIANI JR., Admiral, U.S. Navy, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
MICHAEL W. HAGEE, General, U.S. Marine Corps, Commandant of the Marine Corps
PETER J. SCHOOMAKER, General, U.S. Army, Chief of Staff
MICHAEL G. MULLEN, Admiral, U.S. Navy, Chief of Naval Operations
T. MICHAEL MOSELEY, General, U.S. Air Force, Chief of Staff
In his response, the Post's editor explained that the cartoon was intended as an insult to the Army, not the troops.
This week's edition of headlines we thought we'd never see:
Turnaround In Recruiting Puts Guard On Path For ExpansionIn other Guard news,
The National Guard Bureau, the Pentagon office that administers the Guard, issued a statement outlining a turnaround in recruiting and predicting that it would continue to rise this year. In the last quarter of 2005, the Guard signed up 13,466 recruits, above its goal of 12,605. It was the first time since 1993 that the Guard exceeded its goal in that period.
SACRAMENTO — A year after it was launched to help activated National Guard families suffering financial hardships, the California Military Family Relief Fund has been a major disappointment to its sponsors.California Lt Governor Cruz Bustamante blamed the National Guard for not developing awareness of the program, which grants up to $2,000 emergency relief to needy military families. But the program requires 30% loss of income between the soldier's civilian and military income, and in most cases that doesn't occur.
In 2005, the fund paid out only $7,687 to just three families from among the 7,000 soldiers activated for federal duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and other postings that year.
The emergency fund was designed to help National Guard families facing unexpected bills, such as food, housing, child care, utilities, medical services and insurance.
Col. Lawrence Cooper, the Guard's director of personnel and human resources, said "we had 18 applications and were able to grant only three."
Other programs that offer significant help to mostly fictional soldiers include the congressionally mandated payback for armor purchased by individuals because the military wouldn't issue it:
So far, however, the official who oversees the processing of such claims for the Army said, only 30 soldiers have requested reimbursement for equipment, primarily for tactical body armor, at a cost of about $22,000.Like Bustamante, Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and sponsor of the program, is hopping mad:
"We were gamed for a high volume of claims," said the Army claims official, Maj. Paul J. Cucuzzella. "And to date, it has not been what we planned for."
A Navy spokesman said that 34 service members had asked to be paid for gear, mostly protective eyewear, hydration products and other equipment. The Navy has paid claims of about $5,000.
The Marines have received four reimbursement requests, and the Air Force has not received any, officials said.
"Our troops' welfare should be a top priority," Mr. Dodd said on Friday. "The Pentagon fought this initiative, and they had to be dragged kicking and screaming to implement its important provisions."Meanwhile,
Mr. Dodd added, "Clearly the foot-dragging appears to continue, and that is unacceptable."
A week ago, Pfc. Anthony Calla became the proud owner of the only metallic blue Ford Mustang at Ft. Benning.The story offers no word on whether the Senate has verified the safety features of the vehicles.
"There are other Mustangs," said Calla, 24, of Modesto, Calif., as he polished the chrome rims of his very first car. "But I got the only blue."
In the last month, as more than 3,500 troops of the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division have returned to Ft. Benning from a yearlong deployment in Iraq, the military base's parking lots have filled with muscle cars, Hummers, Lexuses, Dodge Rams and BMWs.
Speaking of the latest safety features...
Top Army and Marine Corps officers said Wednesday that they are buying and sending the latest body armor to troops in Iraq as fast as possible, including ceramic plates to protect against bullets or shrapnel from the side.Elsewhere:
"We are looking at everything today that is possible or available," said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, the Army's deputy chief for acquisition. Published reports last month that said troops weren't getting the armor were "at best inaccurate," Sorenson said.
Several members of Congress, including Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., pushed the Pentagon to speed the body armor to troops after newspaper accounts said the military had delayed buying the armor despite evidence it would save lives.
In testimony Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee, senior officers from the Army and Marines denied there had been any intentional delays.
Only days after receiving a $70 million order from the Army, Ceradyne of Costa Mesa this week sent its first shipment of ceramic armor side plates to U.S troops in Iraq.
The side plates, which augment chest and back plates worn by many soldiers and Marines in Iraq, were ordered by the Army on a no-bid, “urgent and compelling” basis after a report surfaced in early January that Americans were dying from side torso wounds.
Unfortunately, the troops may also need the armor at home. Senior Airman (Air Force E4) Elio Carrion is a USAF Security Police troop who recently returned from Iraq. On leave in San Bernadino County, California, his welcome home included three rounds from a sheriff's deputy - but we don't mean free drinks. The event was caught on video:
At one point, a voice on the recording appears to say "stay on the ground." Seconds later, however, the deputy appears to tell Carrion: "Get up, get up." As Carrion rises, the deputy, who is standing several feet away, shoots him three times.No comment yet from Cruz Bustamante.
We conclude with a salute. Maj. Michael Jason and his team from the 4th Infantry Division evacuated ABC News' Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt from the danger zone just minutes after the roadside bombing in Iraq. They were honored Friday by ABC's World News Tonight" as their "persons of the week"
Last week's edition of Meanwhile Back at the Front can be read here
(The author of these compilations, an Iraq war veteran, runs the blog The Mudville Gazette)
I'm happy to see that you so strongly support the people making such huge sacrifices while they are working/living/fighting in Iraq.
Your desperate pleadings that the state of affairs in Iraq isn't "disastrous" is so tired and worn that they have become "sad." It is tragic that those who support this war want so badly for it to be "good," "right," "just" and "successful" that over time you've shifted into a fantasy world.
I want our people over there to come home safely and I want terrorism to end and I want the Iraqi people to be happy and safe, but this simply isn't happening and no amount of denial or wishful thinking is going to make it happen. You are adults and you should know by now that every cloud does NOT necessarily have a silver-lining.
This jingoistic, unquestioning support for the war is harming our troops, harming our military, harming our nation and the world by prolonging this catastrophe. I realize that you feel like your support MUST be unflagging because THE LIBERALS say the war is bad and they are always wrong - and because not supporting the war means not supporting the men and women who are fighting it and not supporting the war means not supporting the President and the government. What you need to understand is that by perpetuating this horror you are doing the gravest disservice to the troops. The Iraq misadventure has been a failure and will have to be dealt with as a failure once it is all over. Let's move to confront this now and save our soldiers and the Iraqis from the months and years of death, destruction and suffering that lies ahead.
Things aren't getting better there. That is a fantasy. Accepting this doesn't mean blaming the troops - they have performed admirably. Beyond reproach.
As a nation we committed a grave error by attacking Iraq. The sooner people like you who truly, deeply support and love the troops and wish to work in their best interests swallow this bitter medicine, the better it will be for everyone.
Shucks Avenger, there's just one problem with your rant - I don't "support the troops".
I am one of the troops - and I've served in Iraq, as noted above, as have a number of friends and acquantances. And the compilation includes the positive and negative developments there - in this instance relying heavily on accounts from mainstream media reporters on the ground there now. You probably aren't familiar with Joe Galloway's work, for instance. But those of us who are have a tremendous respect for what he has to say. Google his name for a review of his other recent comments on the war and the administration and you'll likely get an appreciation for his reports from the front lines.
It's very possible I'll go back to Iraq (or Afghanistan) before I end my military career. I have no reason to portray the war as anything other than what it is - "bringing the troops home now" would certainly make my life easier. But easy doesn't make it right - and Iraq is neither a hypothetical or political discussion for those of us with an very real and personal stake in the matter. When the war is lost, we'll be the first to let you know.Posted by Greyhawk at February 6, 2006 05:14 PM
The irony (used in the popular, rather than traditional sense) in Liberal Avenger's post is so overwhelming, I'm wondering whether it's some kind of joke. Perhaps someone trying to make fun of "Liberals", pretending to be incredibly naive?
He wants our people over there to come home safely and the terrorism to end? Great, so do I. Of course, that's not going to happen overnight. It's going to be a long path towards ending terrorism, (which can probably never be totally eradicated) and it's going to require plenty of military intervention until the free people of the Middle East eclipse the oppressed and the oppressors.
So buckle your seatbelt and support the people who are making the most positive contribution - the troops.