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Take a deep breath, calm down, and be sure to read the update to the Sailors story below.
Following a rapid attack northward from Kuwaitt, American forces found themselves at the gates of Baghdad four years ago this week. While casualties had been relatively low to that point, among other expectations for protracted urban combat in Saddam Hussein's capital city was the possibility of tens of thousands of American troops "sent home in bady bags".
Jules Crittenden was embedded with elements of the 3ID during the ensuing Thunder Run - an attack that collapsed the Hussein regime in hours rather than weeks or months. His ongoing series detailing his experiences in those days offers first-hand insight into the execution one of the most audacious military plans in history.
I ran into LTC deCamp. I asked what he could tell me about the next day’s assault. He confirmed what we had heard. We were going into Baghdad at dawn. Maybe just for the day, maybe overnight. We were going to take the palaces, just to make the point. Col. Perkins, the brigade commander, wanted parking validation for 80 tanks in downtown Baghdad.
LTC deCamp had said we’d hold the palaces for five hours and pull out, just to make the point. Maybe we’d stay overnight. I didn’t want to jam the crowded M113 with my gear, so the inverters, the chargers, the laptop and all my personal gear I kept in a small backpack stayed behind.8 April.
DeCamp had also said something about Col. Perkins wanting to get parking validation for 80 tanks in downtown Baghdad. I laughed at the joke, not fully getting the point. The undeniable presence of American tanks in downtown Baghdad was Perkins’ idea to undercut the Baathist regime’s propaganda in front of the international press and signal that Saddam was done. I hadn’t been watching TV, and knew nothing about Baghdad Bob.
More than at any point in this endeavor, I didn’t have a clue what was going on. I was too far down my own personal wormhole, too detached from higher command and unaware of the unorthodox plan was being precipitously brought together at higher levels to seize Baghdad. I just knew we were going in. All the way up from Kuwait, Wolford and his tankers had said we wouldn’t be going into Baghdad. The tanks would sit outside and the infantry would go in to do the street fighting. Tanks were too vulnerable in the close confines of cities. I didn’t believe this would be the case, opining that the lesson of Mogadishu was that you needed armored support and Baghdad had a lot of big, tank-friendly boulevards. I thought the tanks would go in to support the infantry, holding intersections while the infantry went block-to-block.
The tankers were right, in that armor doctrine was on their side. I was right about the big boulevards. Perkins was taking the whole thing a step farther, convinced he could do it as a predominantly armor operation, striking directly at the center of gravity. He got the higher command to agree. What would play out over the next three days has been described as the pivotal battle of the initial three-week invasion, a bold gambit that may have brought the Baathist regime down weeks and hundreds of lives ahead of schedule. It was the historic taking of a defended capital city by lightning armored assault, with infantry in the supporting role. The plan was still coming together on April 6, and was presented that night to the company commanders who would carry it out the following morning.
“The night of the 6th, I thought LTC deCamp had lost his fucking mind when he told us the plan,” Wolford told me later.
This was the big street fight we had expected the day before, when the Iraqis collapsed and let us in. Those were the Special Republican Guard, supposedly the Iraqi Army’s elite. These were included Republican Guard, as we saw from the bodies and equipment when it was over, but also included irregulars, the Saddam Fedayeen and foreign mujahideen, who advanced toward their fight and were willing to die.Take the Thunder Run with Jules.
Around 7:30 a.m. Wolford moved his tanks back into the intersection when the Warthogs were done. He called up our Psyops/fire-support 113 from the July 14th Square so the LT could call in artillery. At last we were allowed to roll forward.
This time, Wolford put the Red and Blue platoon tanks on the right, facing east toward the Jumhuriyah Bridge. White Platoon, which had lost its platoon sergeant, held the quieter west side facing Jaffa Street and the palace district gate behind us. We arrived to find the tanks firing into buildings where snipers were still lurking. The fire had abated considerably from what the tankers had experienced earlier, but RPGs and mortar rounds continued to explode periodically in the intersection. The Gold Bradleys rolled past us to resume their position to the north, up Haifa Street.
“Earplug time,” my notes say.
Military moms meet their congressman, and get the Adam Sandler treatment. Video here - watch Congressman Paul Hodes avoid answering their questions by insisting they are too angry for reason:
Q: Do you not believe we have an obligation to these people [Iraqis]?(Via Instapundit.)
A:Um, well, there's clearly nothing I'm going to be able to say to address how angry you feel...
Q: I'm very angry, I have a nephew that has served two tours of duty, is scheduled to go back a third time. He will be in Iraq when you cut your funds, and yes, that makes me very angry.
A: You may misunderstand my motivation, and what the impact of this will be if this is passed. There's nothing I'm going to be able to say given how angry you are...
Q: I feel very strongly that you're endangering our soldiers... If this Congress was sitting during World War II, we would be having this discussion in German right now.
Local media coverage:
CONCORD – Family members of troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan poured out their anger and frustration at U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes yesterday, punctuated by emotional exchanges that illustrated the wars' divide on the homefront.The "non-war related spending items that some said were needed to get the bill passed" total $40 billion dollars, including $25 million for spinach farmers, $74 million for peanut storage, $120M for shrimp research, $283 million in income subsidies for dairy farms, $400 million to rural counties hurt by cutbacks in federal logging, $400 million in additional heating subsidies for the poor, and $1 billion to prevent or prepare for a possible bird flu epidemic.
One woman stormed out of the session; several questioned Hodes' commitment to the troops while supporting a troop pullout deadline; and another woman chided the congressman's wife for picking up a pen to write down her e-mail address.
"My son will never come home," an angry Natalie Healy said of her son, Dan, who was killed in Afghanistan in June 2005. "He would be horrified and ashamed of this country for what it has done to the troops. You can take that back to Congress and tell every single one of those men and women."
Hodes last month joined a majority in the House backing an Iraq spending bill that set a timeline for a troop withdrawal and also included non-war related spending items that some said were needed to get the bill passed.
When Gerry Duncan of Nashua asked Hodes whether the bill would have passed if the non-war items weren't included, Hodes hesitated and said, "I don't know."
"I'm done," declared an angered Duncan, whose husband, Col. Richard Duncan, chief of staff of the New Hampshire Army National Guard, was injured in Afghanistan. She then walked out.
Sue Peterson of Weare, whose son Alex is a member of the 3643rd Security Force in the Army National Guard now in Iraq, said mixing money for the war with farm and other products was a disservice to the troops.
"I am so outraged and I'm trying to be calm listening to everybody," she said. But lumping everything into one bill was to "compare Alex and all the other soldiers to milk, peanuts, fish and spinach."
In fairness to Hodes, his response to his constituents is not an original thought - it's a crafted Democratic talking point, as evidenced by Nancy Pelosi's comment to the media that President Bush should 'take a deep breath and calm down' and pass their spending bill.
For non-military, former military, and family members of active troops, The Vistory PAC
For active military: Appeal for CourageAll done!
U.S. Citizen Sentenced To Death In Iraq Loses Appeal
A federal appeals court in Washington ruled yesterday that U.S. courts do not have jurisdiction to intervene in the case of a U.S. citizen who was convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to death in an Iraqi criminal court, deciding that prior case law prevents the judges from hearing a petition challenging his detention.
Judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed a lower court's decision to dismiss the case of Mohammad Munaf, who has been in U.S. custody in Iraq since May 23, 2005. Munaf had asked U.S. courts to review the nature of his incarceration, via a habeas corpus petition, but the three judges unanimously decided that his conviction in a foreign court precludes them from stepping in.
Munaf is an Iraqi native who was granted U.S. citizenship in 2000 and moved to Romania in 2001. He was accompanying three Romanian journalists on assignment near Baghdad in March, 2005, when the group was kidnapped.
They were freed two months later. However,
BUCHAREST (Reuters) -- Romania on Friday charged the translator for three Romanian journalists who were held in Iraq for 55 days, and an Arab businessman, of orchestrating the kidnapping.
Prosecutors said the reporters' guide, Mohamad Munaf, who was seized with the journalists on March 28, and Romanian-Syrian businessman Omar Hayssam were charged with "initiating, funding and coordinating the March 28 kidnapping."
The general prosecutor's office said the kidnapping was part of an elaborate plot aimed at turning Hayssam into a hero in Romania in the hope that it would help him escape potential punishment for previous charges of organised crime and economic-financial wrongdoings.
"The abduction and threats by the Iraq group were aimed at triggering a strong psychological impact on the (Romanian) population, to depict Hayssam as a liberator of the journalists," it said in a statement.
The three returned home on Monday but Munaf remained in Iraq under U.S. custody for investigations. The U.S. embassy in Bucharest said he had information indicating "an imminent threat" to the coalition forces in Iraq.
But Munaf was also charged in Iraq.
A U.S. citizen who allegedly orchestrated the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists near Baghdad last year was sentenced to death in an Iraqi court Thursday, prompting his lawyers to ask a federal judge in Washington to block the U.S. military from transferring him to the Iraqi government.
Mohammad Munaf, 53, has been in U.S. custody since May 23, 2005, when he was arrested during a military raid to rescue the Romanian journalists nearly two months after they were snatched. Authorities have alleged that Munaf -- who had ushered the journalists into Iraq and was acting as their guide and translator -- posed as a kidnap victim but was actually involved in a conspiracy for ransom and led them into a trap.
Military officials have said in sworn statements that Munaf confessed to elements of the crime and helped arrange the kidnapping. Munaf has been held at Camp Cropper, where the U.S. military keeps high-value detainees on behalf of Multinational Force-Iraq.
Amnesty International has raised concerns about the fairness of the trial and allegations of torture of the defendants.
One wonders what stories they might tell...
Uhhh, make that sell:
THE 15 British service personnel held captive in Iran have been given special permission to sell their stories to the media, in a break with the rules that has drawn swift criticism.Pay scales for British military here. Comparason to U.S. ranks here.
"One of the great things about our armed forces is their professionalism and dignity," said the opposition defence spokesman, Liam Fox. "Many people who shared the anxiety of the hostages' abduction will feel that selling their stories is somewhat undignified and falls below the very high standards we have come to expect from our servicemen and women."
A former military chief, who asked not to be named, added: "If you are still serving with the military you do not go round flogging your story to anyone."
Among the first to benefit is Leading Seaman Faye Turney, the only woman in the party. She was not among the six sailors and marines who appeared at last Friday's news conference at the Royal Marines base at Devon where they were reunited with their families.
Leading Seaman Turney, 26, who was paraded on Iranian television during her captivity, is understood to have agreed to a £100,000 ($240,000) deal with a commercial television channel for a special program due to be broadcast tonight, as well as with a tabloid newspaper.
Update: Then there's this:
Amid the deaths and the grim daily struggle bravely borne by Britain's forces in southern Iraq, one tale of heroism stands out.(Via IP)
Private Johnson Beharry's courage in rescuing an ambushed foot patrol then, in a second act, saving his vehicle's crew despite his own terrible injuries earned him a Victoria Cross.
For the BBC, however, his story is "too positive" about the conflict.
The corporation has cancelled the commission for a 90-minute drama about Britain's youngest surviving Victoria Cross hero because it feared it would alienate members of the audience opposed to the war in Iraq.
Major General Rick Lynch, Commander, Multi-National Division -- Center (Iraq) interviewed by 3ID's "hometown" (Savannah, Ga) reporters.
Navy SEAL Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny Dietz Jr., fell in action in Afghanistan in 2005:
Petty Officer Dietz, 25, was awarded the Navy Cross, the service's second-highest award for valor after the Medal of Honor, for fighting off an ambush by insurgents in Afghanistan despite being mortally wounded. His actions were credited with helping a fellow Navy SEAL escape.
Littleton, Colorado, plans to honor his sacrifice with a statue:
Plans for the memorial began last summer when the city started working with Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, and the Dietz family. The family raised $42,000 to cover the costs, with no public funding involved.Some of the locals are, of course, protesting:
A bronze sculpture of Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny Dietz Jr. showing him cradling his rifle across his chest is scheduled to be unveiled July 4 at Berry Park here, where he grew up and attended school. The statue was modeled after a photo of the young serviceman.
But a group of parents wants the city to recast the statue or place it elsewhere, arguing that the site, near three elementary schools and two parks, is a hub for young children who could find the weapon disturbing.Read this, too.
"While our hearts go out to the family of this brave young man, we have serious concerns regarding the graphic and violent detail the statue portrays," stated a flier distributed recently in a nearby neighborhood.