|11/11/03||GI Special #131: Losing Control/Retreat|
From: “Thomas F. Barton” email@example.com
GI SPECIAL #131
BRING THEM ALL HOME NOW!
U.S. Loosing Control In Sunni Triangle;
Retreat Leaves Power Vacuum;
Joint Patrols In Baghdad Suspended Because Of Resistance Attacks
By Daniel Williams, Washington Post Foreign Service, November 8, 2003
THULUIYA, Iraq, Nov. 7 — American troops patrol less frequently, townspeople openly threaten Iraqi security personnel who cooperate with U.S. forces, and the night belongs to the guerrillas.
That is the reality in this little town 60 miles north of Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi officials say, and it reflects a shifting balance of power in U.S.-occupied central Iraq. Resistance forces move with impunity in Thuluiya and throughout the so-called Sunni Triangle, despite repeated raids on suspected hide-outs and arms caches.
There is a growing power vacuum in central Iraq,
The danger of permitting this wide-open state of affairs to persist, Iraqi officials say, is that it will spread and increase the confidence of enemies of the occupation.
“The weaker the grip of the U.S., the bigger the gap in power, and the increasing perception that the Americans are vulnerable boosts the morale of those who want to destabilize and expand a reign of terror,” said a senior Iraqi cabinet official in Baghdad. “This perception creates unease among those who cooperate with the United States.” (Translation: we’re fucked.)
“I wouldn’t say we are winning,” said Lt. Brian Caplin, a U.S. officer in charge of Thuluiya’s branch of the Civil Defense Force, an Iraqi unit set up to buttress security throughout central Iraq.
This tactical retreat has caused some grumbling among troops who say they fear it will be misinterpreted by their adversaries as a sign of weakness. But commanders tend to dismiss those worries. (That’s the commanders job, dismissing the worries of the troops. In Vietnam, there came a time when it became necessary for troops to dismiss certain commanders. The survivors learned to stop dismissing the worries of the troops. The troops learned they had they power to stop the war by refusing to fight it any more. They got to come home.)
Since the end of the Iraq war, U.S. forces have tried a variety of tactics to bring order to the Sunni Triangle — a section of Iraq running west and north of Baghdad. In Fallujah, one of the most hostile towns in central Iraq, units have alternately tried large-scale raids, search-and-seizure operations, handouts of soccer balls, monetary compensation for killings and, most recently, major crackdowns.
Troops have ringed Auja, Hussein’s native village, with barbed wire and are forcing all males over the age of 15 to obtain identity cards. In Baghdad, American forces have tried to carry out joint patrols with police but have largely abandoned them because of attacks.
None of the U.S. tactics in Thuluiya has worked. In June, the town was the target of a massive helicopter and tank sweep as troops raided houses in a search for Hussein sympathizers. Of more than 400 detainees netted in the raid, called Operation Peninsula Strike, two remain in custody, according to Iraqi police.
When U.S. commanders took a softer approach, funding repairs to schools and the police station and recruiting local policemen to provide security, attacks continued. A father killed a son who had informed on behalf of the Americans. Attacks on U.S. soldiers at a bridge prompted the Americans to bulldoze a swath of date palms and fruit trees along a major roadway. U.S. troops carried out sporadic raids; eight Thuluiya residents have been detained in the past two weeks, residents say.
Efforts to get Iraqis to handle security in town foundered under a wave of mistrust. The police have been all but sidelined. “The Americans don’t have confidence in us,” said one officer, who declined to give his name for fear of getting fired. “They think we know who is doing the attacks but are not telling them.”
The officer and his comrades said U.S. commanders no longer meet with local leaders in town but invite them to their base at a large airfield north of the town.
Since a wave of car bombings last month in Baghdad, no U.S. official has visited the police station, they said. “The Americans are afraid,” the officer said.
Enlistees in the Civil Defense Corps have supplanted the Iraqi police. The 94-man unit — scheduled to expand to 200 members by next month — is supposed to aggressively pursue attackers. Unlike the police, who are armed with pistols, the corps members carry AK-47 rifles. But they received only a week of training, Caplin, the U.S. commander, said. Many members are in their teens and have little experience with weapons.
He said Thuluiya residents are hostile to the corps, and the unit is unwilling to patrol the town on its own. “They call us the American brothers,” Jassem said.
One former corps member, who identified himself only as Abu Hamis, said he had joined the corps for money and left because he had been shot at twice while guarding the fuel depot. He had also become a pariah in his neighborhood. “They say I am a traitor, that I inform for the Americans. Everyone knows everyone here, and it is hard to go against your neighbors,” he said.
He was standing at a pharmacy on Thuluiya’s main street, where customers gathered to pick up medicines and to dispense complaints about the Americans and their allies. “No one should spy on us. If they do, they are worse than the Americans,” said Muthana, a pharmacist. “It is against Islam, it is against everything. We tell the civil defense agents so.”
He said that once night falls, Thuluiya’s streets are bare and “anyone can come in and out.” The town, which lies at a sharp bend in the Tigris River, is heavily cultivated with date palms. “The trees are no friend of the Americans either,” he said.
Everyone at the drug store insisted that attackers came from outside Thuluiya. But no one seemed to suggest that whoever was assaulting U.S. forces was unwelcome.
“We hate the Americans,” said Hawan Mohammed Khalaf, a car dealer who said his date and orange grove had been bulldozed by U.S. troops. He said that guerrillas travel around Thuluiya by car and motorcycle. “Even if I wanted to stop them, I couldn’t,” he said.
Does he want to?
“I am a farmer, not a fighter,” he said.
U.S. Soldier Dead;
Occupation Troops Kill Occupation Politician(!);
Silly General Tells Iraqis To Stop Fighting For Independence;
By SLOBODAN LEKIC, Associated Press Writer & Anthony Shadid and Fred Barbash Washington Post
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Insurgents killed a U.S. military policeman, the U.S. command said Monday, and a top U.S. general sat down with local leaders in Iraq’s most dangerous region to tell them attacks must stop. (New York City: 11.11.1777: British General Howe issued a warning today to Samuel Adams, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin that attacks on British forces by American terrorists must stop.)
In Sadr City, a poor, mainly Shiite quarter of eastern Baghdad, witnesses said a U.S. soldier shot and killed the head of the district’s U.S.-appointed municipal council in a weekend altercation.
The military policeman was killed when insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a patrol late Sunday in Iskandariyah, 40 miles south of Baghdad, a U.S. statement said.
In northern Iraq – which had been calmer than the Sunni Triangle but has seen increasing violence recently – assailants in Mosul opened fire on the car of a local oil official, Mohammed Ahmed Zibari, wounding him and killing his son, the official’s brother said.
“It’s the terrorists, I expect, because they think he’s cooperating with Americans,” Nawzat Zibari, the brother, said. “They think that any official or employee is happy if he’s dealing with the Americans.”
Iraqis marched in anger through the streets here Monday after the killing of an American-appointed local Iraqi council leader by U.S. military guards under disputed circumstances.
In Sadr City, the head of the municipal council, Muhanad al-Kaadi, was shot Sunday after an argument with a U.S. sentry posted at the entrance to the municipal building.
The council was appointed by U.S. authorities here to help govern Sadr City, an impoverished, largely Shiite section of Baghdad with a population of about 2 million people. American troops guard the council offices.
The council leader, Muhammed Kaabi, was approaching the council offices in a car Sunday.
American authorities and local witnesses agreed that he got into some sort of argument with soldiers who wanted to search the car he was driving. They agreed as well that at some point he got out of his car.
They disagree about what happened next, however. A U.S. spokesman here said the victim went for the weapon of one of the American guards and was shot by a second soldier in response.
“The other soldier shot the driver in the upper leg. The driver was evacuated to a nearby military hospital where he died of his wounds. Local witnesses said there was indeed a warning shot but reported no attempt by the leader to seize a weapon from the soldier.
Whatever the truth, the hundreds of mourners who carried the coffin through the streets draped with an Iraqi flag were blaming the Americans. They chanted and wailed and carried signs condemning the soldiers.
Al-Kaadi, who spoke fluent English, had been trying to improve relations between the Americans and residents of the impoverished community.
Iraq Helicopters Defenseless Against Attacks;
“Sophisticated” Resistance Operations Hit High Value Targets;
Choppers Lose Freedom Of Action;
Troops Will Have To Walk
November 10, 2003 By James R. Carroll, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal
The loss of the third American military helicopter in two weeks in Iraq, apparently downed by a rocket-propelled grenade, will require a change in tactics by U.S. forces and their allies, some military analysts said Friday.
“What’s new is the relative success the Iraqis are accomplishing rather than their tactics,” said Loren Thompson, defense analyst with the Lexington Institute, a military think tank in the Washington suburb of Arlington, VA.
The helicopter attack is evidence of increasingly better-organized opposition to U.S. forces that is intent on more spectacular attacks.
“This is merely the punctuation mark to a steadily building campaign,” said Marcus Corbin, senior analyst with the Center for Defense Information, a Washington-based group.
Exactly what factions are conducting the attacks isn’t known, but they “probably are getting their act more together,” said Patrick Garrett, associate analyst for globalsecurity.org, an international security organization in Alexandria, Va.
“You had car bombs at checkpoints at the beginning (of the war), and then some harassing operations,” he said. “Over time, the attacks have become far more sophisticated and have struck at higher-value targets as well as stuff that is going to make headlines.”
Shooting at military aircraft requires training and planning, said retired Army Col. Bill Taylor, a professor of international security affairs at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.
“Not just anybody in Iraq can pick up a surface-to-air missile or RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) and fire it with precision,” Taylor said. “I think we’re seeing signs of better and better organized insurgency warfare.”
The military will need to be more cautious about routine use of helicopters in hostile areas, he said. The aircraft will need to fly more at night and at higher altitudes, and more attention will have to be given to ground security near landing zones, he said.
Taylor said the Army also will have to think more about moving along the ground in vehicles or even on foot.
“It’s an evolution of tactics being employed by the terrorist groups,” Garrett said.
Those resisting the American presence may not have much trouble finding weapons to use against aircraft, according to analysts.
For example, of an estimated 5,000 shoulder-fired missiles Iraq was believed to have at the outbreak of the war, only about a third have been accounted for, Thompson said, and some of them could be in the hands of terrorists.
However, the missiles presumably are aging, which means rocket motors become less reliable and the batteries powering the weapons are getting run down, Taylor said.
“The stuff can get old. It has to be maintained properly,” he said.
But based on the results of recent attacks, the missiles “certainly seem to have whatever … operational condition is required to be a serious threat,” Corbin said.
In January 2002, Jane’s Missiles and Rockets reported that anti-aircraft missiles were spreading among terrorist and guerilla organizations around the world. Most of the weapons being sold on the black market were missiles, known as Grails, that were unaccounted for from the former Soviet Union, Jane’s said.
Rocket-propelled grenades are easy to come by in Iraq, analysts said. “There’s an infinite number of RPGs in the area,” Garrett said, adding that they are being fired at tanks and other armored vehicles as well as helicopters.
The only defense is heavier armor, which isn’t practical on a helicopter, he said.
GET SOME TRUTH: CHECK OUT NEW ISSUE TRAVELING SOLDIER
Telling the truth – about the occupation, the cuts to veterans benefits, or the dangers of depleted uranium – is the first reason Traveling Soldier is necessary. But we want to do more than tell the truth; we want to report on the resistance – whether it’s in the streets
Resistance Near-Miss On U.S. General
By JIM GOMEZ, Associated Press Writer 11.9.09
TIKRIT, Iraq – An American major general was aboard a military helicopter that flew with the Black Hawk that crashed here last week, a U.S. officer said Sunday. The Black Hawk was apparently shot down by insurgents.
The helicopter carrying the general, whom the military refused to identify, landed safely, according to Maj. Josslyn Aberle, spokeswoman of the 4th Infantry Division.
The Black Hawk helicopter, however, burst into flames Friday and plummeted into a grassy field on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, military officials said, citing witnesses. Six soldiers, including two from the Department of the Army headquarters at the Pentagon, were killed.
Shell Fired On Coalition’s Compound In Baghdad
Agence France-Presse, November 8, 2003
BAGHDAD, Nov 8 (AFP) – A round was fired toward the closed off US-led coalition’s fortress-like Baghdad compound Saturday, but the shell fell short.
A series of loud explosions was heard in the Iraqi capital late Saturday.
At least three blasts were heard in quick succession at around 8:30 pm (1730 GMT) after smaller blasts were heard earlier in the day.
The Grind Goes On: Alpha Company
November 10, 2003. By Gregg Zoroya, USA Today
Alpha Company has endured booby-trapped highways, where vegetable cans stuffed with C-4 explosives, nuts and bolts were detonated by guerrillas. Alpha’s convoys were ambushed in date palm groves erupting with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 rifle fire. And enemy fighters served up mortar fire over breakfast, then broke down their weapons and vanished in seconds.
The 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, which patrols this area and includes this Alpha Company, has experienced among the highest number of daily attacks from insurgents in Iraq. It has suffered six American soldiers killed since July, the most recent two in a tank destroyed by a roadside bomb on Oct. 28. Alpha Company has had nine soldiers wounded or injured, seven of them receiving Purple Hearts and three evacuated back to the United States.
Soldiers who were wounded or ill, whose enlistments were up or who were reassigned elsewhere left.
Others, worn down by combat and problems at home, couldn’t take it anymore. “They have become loners,” says 1st Sgt. Jose Oquendo, 40, of Ponce, Puerto Rico, Alpha’s senior enlisted officer. “They just want to be by themselves. They don’t want to mingle. We do our mission, and they go sit by themselves. And they sit.”
One was suicidal. Another abused prescription drugs. A third drank anti-freeze to escape combat. Nine in all left Alpha for reasons related to battle stress.
The company commander, Capt. Randy Alfredo, 34, of Casa Grande, Ariz., says the greatest stress was the unexpected. “Not knowing where we were going, what we were doing the next day, what we were doing the next hour if we were going out for a mission that was a simple patrol and, the next thing you know, ended up lasting 12 hours.”
Alfredo says there were few things soldiers could count when they ventured out on missions. “You go walking across these irrigated fields, looking for somebody who, you don’t know, may be the enemy, through houses you don’t know are friendly or hostile,” he says. “I think they (the battle stress cases) just thought too much about it, rather than just do what they are trained to do.”
And there was dealing with the slain enemy. Alpha has killed 47 insurgents in raids and ambush counter-attacks. Then the soldiers collected the bodies, loaded them into the back of the first sergeant’s Humvee and transported them to the local police station. This was not a task taught at Fort Hood.
IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP
General Warns Iraqis Attacks Must Stop;
Iraqis Tell General To Fuck Off;
“Neither America Nor The Father Of America Scares Us”
Nov. 10, 2003, FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) By Bassem Mroue
America’s top general in the Middle East has warned community leaders the U.S. military will use stern measures unless they curb attacks against coalition forces, an
Iraqi who attended the meeting said Monday.
Hours after Abizaid’s warning, U.S. jets dropped three 500-pound bombs in the Fallujah area after three paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division were wounded in an ambush. There was no report of casualties from the bombing.
``Neither America, nor the father of America, scares us,’’ said one resident, Najih Latif Abbas. ``Iraqi men are striking at Americans and they retaliate by terrifying our children.’’
Fakhri Fayadh, a 60-year-old farmer, said reprisal attacks ``will only increase our spite and hatred of them. If they think that they will scare us, they are wrong. Day after day, Americans will be harmed and attacks against them will increase.’’
During the meeting with Abizaid, tribal leaders asked the American commander to release dozens of clerics who were detained in the past months by U.S. troops, Bedawi said. Abizaid promised to release those not involved in violence and one was set free, the mayor said.
Seif Abed, 13, said he jumped out of bed around midnight and stayed for hours in the sitting room with his parents and seven brothers and sisters during the bombing.
“I was very scared the day before yesterday when I heard the bombings,” Abed said, as he played with friends near his house. “I hate Americans because they are infidels and I hope they will leave Iraq and keep our country for us.”
The U.S.-appointed Fallujah Mayor Taha Bedawi does not believe the use of force will change Iraqis’ minds about the occupation.
“The acts that do harm increase the number of people who oppose coalition forces,” Bedawi said. “In fact these acts increase the number of their enemies.”
Bedawi was appointed mayor of this deeply conservative city shortly after U.S. forces captured the city in April, but his own standing in Fallujah has consistently been in question since, with many of the city’s 200,000 residents viewing him as too close to the Americans.
Simmering resentment against him boiled over late last month when a band of angry Iraqis fought with policemen guarding the mayoral building in a gunbattle that left his office and car badly damaged by fire.
Bedawi’s tenure appeared to have ended then. He failed to show up for work for a few days and local tribal leaders nominated a successor to U.S. forces in the area. U.S. military commanders in the area, however, appear to have since reinstated Bedawi.
Military’s “Show Of Force” in Tikrit Makes Resistance Stronger, More Popular, More Determined;
Occupation Cop Supports War On U.S.
HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer, November 8, 2003
TIKRIT, Iraq (AP) — Houses shook, walls cracked, chandeliers swayed and children woke up screaming for their parents as U.S. planes dropped 500-pound bombs on the outskirts of Saddam Hussein’s hometown overnight.
The show of force late Friday and early Saturday was a warning to the 120,000 people of Tikrit not to support insurgents, suspected of shooting down a Black Hawk helicopter hours earlier, killing six soldiers.
But while it succeeded in scaring residents, the barrage only confirmed for many that the United States is their enemy.
“Now that it’s over, I feel we have won a new lease on life,” said a retired Iraqi general, wearing a traditional Arab robe and looking fatigued after a sleepless night buffeted by the sounds of American fury. He and other residents across the city described a night of damage and disruption.
“The sky was red with explosions and my grandchildren were screaming,” said Khalfar Raheem, a 70-year-old Bedouin woman, her face bearing the blue tattoos common in rural Iraq.
Local people called the Americans “terrorists,” “mercenaries” or “Jews” — a word used colloquially in Iraq and other Arab countries to refer to Israelis who, along with Iranians, were Iraqis worst enemies.
Anti-U.S. sentiment runs deep in this city, once a dusty backwater famous as the birthplace of the medieval Muslim general Saladin and the delicious watermelons grown along the banks of the muddy Tigris River
Since the U.S. 4th Infantry Division moved in last April, it has become known for mounting some of the fiercest resistance to the American-led occupation. U.S. officials say the 4th ID has suffered more attacks than any major command within the occupation force.
In addition to bombing the area where the Black Hawk crashed, U.S. forces also destroyed three buildings in Tikrit that militants were suspected of using.
“This is to remind the town that we have teeth and claws and we will use them,” said Lt. Col. Steven Russell, who oversaw troops destroying two abandoned houses and a warehouse with machine gun and heavy weapons fire.
Yet efforts to curb the resistance breed even more hatred for coalition forces.
American soldiers raid homes in Tikrit and outlaying villages almost daily in search of insurgents and weapons. The raids stoke the increasing resentment among Tikritis, who view them as a breach of centuries-old customs about the sanctity of someone’s home.
Cultural offense and a sense of humiliation are often cited by Iraqis when asked why they despise the Americans.
Tikrit, some 120 miles north of Baghdad, was quiet Saturday but the events of the day’s early hours prompted many to air grievances against the U.S. occupation.
“We fight them not because we lost our prestige,” said Miqdad, a 2nd lieutenant in the city’s police force (!!!) and a former officer in Saddam’s elite Republican Guard. “We fight them as a matter of honor, dignity and in the name of Islam.”
Miqdad, wearing a gray Arab robe on his day off from the $150-a-month police job, wouldn’t give his last name, but he spoke freely about the “humiliation” of living under American occupation in post-Saddam Iraq.
“I know that the lowliest of American soldiers can just handcuff me and make me lay face down on dirt,” he said with a hint of anger in his voice. “I feel like a piece of decor. But what can I do? I need the money.”
Miqdad said the American show of force began about 10 p.m. Friday and persisted until daybreak. He said several mosques did not broadcast the call for dawn prayers, and many worshippers chose to stay home rather than venture out for religious services which most pious Muslims are rigorous about performing during the holy month of Ramadan.
“Saddam will be back, God willing,” said Serajeddin Saleh, a 23-year-old student whose father and elder brother have been detained by the U.S. military since July. “It’s not impossible.”
Like many in Tikrit, the retired general refused to have his name published for fear of reprisals by the Americans. However, he was keen to recount a night of fear and anguish that brought U.S. tanks and Humvees practically to the doorsteps of his home, a one-story dwelling less than 200 yards from where the Black Hawk crashed.
He recalled that eight or nine U.S. tanks — other residents put the number at five or six — were deployed in the area around his house starting from sunset Friday. Machine guns fitted on tanks and Humvees opened up on a half-completed house nearby, which he said belonged to a police colonel serving under the U.S.-backed, Tikrit local council.
He said the youngest of his seven children, 4-year-old Mohammed, was awakened by the thud of explosions and could not go back to sleep until the shelling stopped. The general’s 70-year-old sister who lives at the same house and suffers from a heart condition trembled with fear all night, and the entire family sought to calm her down fearing that she might die.
“We Iraqis know the ethics of war and we know that knights don’t do what the Americans are doing here,” said the retired officer. “What were they shooting at anyway? I think they just wanted to terrorize us.”
“The American Army Is Our Best Friend” Resistance Fighter Says;
“We Should Be Giving Them Medals”
Patrick Graham in Falluja meets angry Iraqi tribes who say they, not Saddam’s forces, are shooting down US helicopters:
November 9, 2003, The Observer
Sarab rolls up her sleeve and looks at the thick scar across her upper arm. The eight-year-old says she was playing in the bathroom of her house when the shots were fired but cannot remember anything else.
‘It is their routine,’ said her grandfather, Turk Jassim. ‘After the Americans are attacked, they shoot everywhere. This is inhuman – a stupid act by a country always talking about human rights.’
Last September, US forces shot dead Sarab’s two-year old sister, Dunya, and wounded two other girls in her family, 13-year-old Menal and 16-year old Bassad. The family belongs to the Albueisi tribe who farm the rich land along the Euphrates river south of Falluja. The Albueisi fought against the British and even Saddam Hussein found them difficult to control. Since April, at least 10 members of the tribe have been killed by US forces, including five policemen.
While the US authorities maintain that resistance attacks are carried out by former Baathists and supporters of Saddam, they continue to ignore the tribal nature of the insurgency which has grown steadily over recent months. Deeply conservative clans like the 50,000-strong Albueisi have codes of honour which they complain the American army ignores at checkpoints and during raids on houses.
They also believe that the Koran demands jihad against foreign invaders. Asked how many American lives should be taken if one of their own is killed, the answer is: ‘As many as possible.’
Last week an American Chinook helicopter was shot down by a heat-seeking missile a few kilometres from Sarab’s house, killing 16 soldiers. It could have been worse, the neighbours say. Resistance fighters were ready to fire another missile at a second Chinook when they were stopped by worried locals.
After the crash, others in the area came out with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and Kalashnikovs, but they, too, were dissuaded for fear of retaliation. And with good reason. After Friday’s downing of a Black Hawk helicopter near Tikrit, US troops dropped two 500lb bombs and fired tank rounds at the area of the crash in a show of force.
According to Albueisi resistance supporters, the attack on the Chinook was carried out by members of the tribe, as was a second attack later in the week on a military train. One of the freight containers from the train lies behind Sarab’s house, its lettering partially effaced by handfuls of mud.
‘If the Americans came as normal citizens, we’d welcome them,’ said Khalid, an Albueisi with ties to the resistance. ‘When they came for liberation, I sent them food. Now I just want to kill them. If I didn’t have children, I’d join tomorrow.’
As a teenager, Khalid won local fame for revenging his brother’s death. A notoriously good shot, he says he is now thinking of dusting off his Kalashnikov.
‘What are we supposed to say? “Oh, the poor American soldiers died” when they kill people here every day? I expected more than just a Chinook to be shot down.’
Like everybody in the area, he believes far more soldiers died in the crash than the authorities admit. According to Khalid, the tactics and aims of the resistance in the Falluja area are different from those in Baghdad. In the countryside, foreign fighters and Saddam’s supporters play a far smaller role than tribal relationships and traditional codes.
‘The Albueisi have hot blood and will do anything without caring about the results. If something happens to one of them, they will get together and take revenge. More helicopters will go down, definitely.’
According to Khalid, last month a Russian made Sam-7 Strela anti-aircraft missile like the one used against the Chinook could be purchased for $325, mostly from tribes in southern Iraq who collected thousands following the fall of Saddam. He had heard that a new, more compact missile was on the market but did not know the name or the price.
The US troops pulled out of the Chinook crash site at the end of last week, leaving behind piles of Tootsie Roll wrappers and plastic containers for Menu 19, Beef With Mushroom. Near by, women in bright dresses and scarves wrapped round their faces weeded potato and wheat fields. Yassim Hachim smiled broadly as he wheeled by on his bike past bulldozed farmland where US troops had scooped up even the soil next to an irrigation ditch. ‘It was like Eid, because it was the best celebration,’ he said, referring to the festival that ends this month’s fasting of Ramadan.
‘I saw the missile come from the west and hit the helicopter. After the crash, people got their weapons to shoot the US soldiers, but they were stopped. Everybody here hates the US.’
Since April, at least 40 civilians and police have been killed in and around Falluja, as well as 22 US soldiers, two of them yesterday in a bomb attack west of the city. It is a cycle that does not look like it will end soon.
‘They do not understand psychology,’ said Dr Adnan Chechan, a surgeon at Falluja’s main hospital. ‘When you are violent, you get a violent reaction.’
Last week, he pointed out, six people were killed 500 yards from the hospital as they drove past a US convoy shortly after a roadside bomb exploded. Television footage from inside one of the mini-vans carrying employees of the Oil Ministry was too gruesome to be broadcast.
Adnan was sitting under posters that read: ‘Free Dr Omar Abdul Sattar.’ He said that the former head of the provincial healthcare system had been arrested for operating on members of the resistance six weeks ago and was still in jail.
People in Falluja have been particularly critical of the 82nd Airborne – which has been given responsibility for occupying the area and ordered to crack down on insurgents.
‘Previously, I had a good view of American people,’ said Adnan. ‘But we have changed our mind after seeing the aggression – the soldiers in Falluja and Khaldiya are very aggressive.
‘The people here do not do these attacks for no reason. If someone in their clan has been killed, they will take revenge.’
In the area around Falluja, the US army appears to be winning hearts and minds – for their enemy.
‘The American army is our best friend,’ a resistance fighter told us. ‘We should be giving them medals.’
OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION
BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!
Family Started Pro-American,
Now Say “Bush Is A Dog Who Is Son Of A Dog”
Nov 10, By Michael Georgy, FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters)
The Jawal family was one of the few in this flashpoint town who liked the Americans — until U.S. F-16 jets dropped 500-pound bombs near their home.
“We used to have hopes of the Americans after they removed Saddam (Hussein). We thought they would deliver on their promises,” said Khatoun Jawal.
“We liked them until this weekend. Why did they drop bombs near us? Some of my children were so scared they fainted.”
The Jawals and other families clustered in a score of cement hovels on the edge of Falluja, a hotbed of anti-U.S. fury, said they had heard no shooting before the jets roared overhead.
Their account underscores how the U.S. military is enraging some Iraqi civilians, instead of winning them over, as it hunts down guerrillas who have killed 151 U.S. soldiers since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1.
Khaled Jawal said the family were fast asleep when they were jolted awake by thunderous bombing that scattered heavy pieces of shrapnel as close as three yards from their door.
“It was so loud. The children were hysterical,” he said.
A neighbor, Maha, fainted. “I was terrified. They took me to the hospital to calm me down,” she said, pulling up her sleeve to show part of an intravenous drip still taped on.
Like many Iraqis, the Jawals were happy when the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam in April. American promises of democracy and freedom were soothing after years of iron-fisted rule.
Saddam is gone but life has not improved for the Jawals, who live in squalor amid old tires and a cannibalized military truck. With no running water, the villagers drink and bathe in a dirty well. Mangy dogs sniff through dry scrubland nearby.
The father of the family has not been able to work for years because he lost the use of an arm when Saddam sent him and hundreds of thousands of others to the war front with Iran in the 1980s.
The parents and eight children can only afford chicken once a week and other meat once a month.
Standing beside a bomb crater three feet deep and nine feet wide, about 70 yards from their hovel, Khaled screamed at his mother for mentioning how the family had once liked the Americans.
“Be quiet. Bush is a dog who is a son of a dog,” he said.
Nearby a six-year-old held up a twisted piece of shrapnel as big as his forearm. Minutes later gunfire erupted. It could have been locals, but the Jawals said it had to be Americans.
VICTORY IS SWEET:
Soldier Initially Declared AWOL Won’t Have To Return To Iraq
(CNN) —The Army is recalling a mother from duty in Iraq and reassigning her to her National Guard unit in Colorado to allow her more time to deal with a custody dispute.
Army spokeswoman Martha Rudd said Simone Holcomb, a 30-year old mother of seven whose unit has been deployed to Iraq, is being demobilized.
“The leadership there will give her time to resolve the outstanding family issues,” Rudd said.
Both Mrs. Holcomb and her husband, Vaughn Holcomb, had been deployed, leaving their seven children behind in the care of the childrens’ grandmother.
A custody battle initiated by her husband’s ex-wife brought Simone Holcomb back to the U.S. on emergency leave.
She was thrust into the national spotlight after the Army ordered her to go back to Iraq, and a Colorado judge then ordered either Holcomb or her husband to stay in the United States to retain custody of two of his children — Dustin and Taylor.
Holcomb resisted returning to Iraq for what she describes as family reasons.
“My children have always come first,” she said last week.
Rudd said the National Guard will decide Holcomb’s fate. The Army specialist was considered absent without leave, but is no longer.
Holcomb’s lawyer, Giorgio Ra’Shadd, came to the Pentagon on Monday to try to reach a resolution. He asked for “compassionate reassignment”.
The reassignment comes after Holcomb’s commanding officer called her early Monday morning to hand out punishment — said Ra’Shadd — for failure to obey the lawful order of a commanding officer and return to Iraq.
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Soldier Dies: Father Says Bush Should Bring The Troops Home
The Sunday Times (London), November 9, 2003, Sarah Baxter, New York
On the streets of Baghdad, a girl has to keep up appearances. “Dear Mom, please send me lots of shampoo and conditioner. My hair is really brittle out here. It’s like straw, “ wrote Private Rachel Bosveld, 19. She wanted to look pretty as she patrolled the city’s
most dangerous police precinct. She joked that she was working on her tan. That was not all. “Hey Mom, I’ve been dodging bullets etc,” she said in her last letter home, “but I’m really doing great. I got to drive a tank. So cool!” Some of Bosveld’s best quips were posted on the wall of the church where her funeral was held last Friday in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
She was killed on October 26 during a mortar attack on the Abu Ghraib police station in Baghdad. Bosveld was already due to receive a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during an earlier rocket-propelled grenade attack on her Humvee.
She wrote to her brother Craig: “There was fire and smoke everywhere. It was loud, there was shouting. My team leader’s seat was on fire. I found my seatbelt but it was stuck. Damn it, I knew I shouldn’t have worn it.”
She hurt her shoulder and lost her hearing in one ear for a week.
Mary Bosveld, her mother, did not want her to serve in Iraq. “I said, ‘Oh honey, anywhere but Iraq’, but she said, ‘No Mum, I have to do it’.”
Bosveld was proud to serve in such a demanding country, but after the first attack she began to count the days until she could leave Iraq. “More and more people want us to go home,” she wrote. “Believe me, we want to go home.”
Women make up 15% of the modern American army. Some of the dead fought alongside the men in Iraq; others were supposedly behind the lines in a war that no longer has a definable front. They included a single mother, a missionary and a teenager. Concerns about how and why they lost their lives present stark political problems for Bush.
Many members of the US army signed up not to fight, but “for college tuition or medical insurance or financial security for their kids”, said Pike. “They told their parents or spouses they wouldn’t get killed.”
Private Karina Lau, 20, was reluctant to venture outside her army base, 30 miles from Baghdad. “I never leave the compound because it’s safe here,” she e-mailed her sister Martha.
Her job in radio communications did not require her to go on patrol and the one time she went to Baghdad she felt vulnerable. “She was under Mom and Dad’s wings all her life and then suddenly she’s in Iraq,” said Lau’s brother-in-law, Noel Rivera, a veteran of the
first Gulf war.
Lau, a talented clarinet and flute player, had hoped to surprise them with a visit home to California when she boarded the Chinook in which she and 15 other soldiers died after being shot down last Sunday.
In another sign of the deteriorating security, Analaura “Lissy” Esparza Gutierrez, 21, was killed on October 1 only 300 yards from the sanctuary of her heavily fortified army compound near Tikrit. Gutierrez’s Humvee was blown up by a home-made bomb and fired on by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Her father, Agustin Esparza, said Bush should bring the troops home. “She didn’t deserve to die. There are a lot of young people over there and as long as they are there, they are going to die,” he said.
Jessica Lynch Condemns Pentagon;
BBC News 11.7.03
A US woman soldier who shot to fame after being taken prisoner during the Iraq war has accused the military of using her for propaganda purposes.
A video of US commandos carrying a badly injured Private Jessica Lynch from a Nasiriya hospital was released at the height of the conflict.
But the 20-year-old criticised the release of false information about her capture by Iraqi forces.
She also said there was no reason for her rescue to be filmed.
The Pentagon initially put out the story that Private Lynch – a slight woman who was just 19 at the time – had been wounded by Iraqi gunfire but had kept fighting until her ammunition ran out.
But she told Sawyer that she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that her gun had jammed during the chaos.
“I’m not about to take credit for something I didn’t do,” she said.
“I did not shoot – not a round, nothing. I went down praying to my knees – that’s the last thing I remember.”
She said she was grateful to the American special forces team which rescued her but, asked whether the Pentagon’s subsequent portrayal of her rescue bothered her, she said: “Yes, it does. They used me as a way to symbolise all this stuff. It’s wrong.”
Miss Lynch was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Prisoner of War medals while still in hospital in Washington DC.
Lessons From History
November 9, 2003 By MILT BEARDEN, Perspective |
There were two stark lessons in the history of the 20th century: no nation that launched a war against another sovereign nation ever won. And every nationalist-based insurgency against a foreign occupation ultimately succeeded.
Milt Bearden, a 30-year veteran in the C.I.A.’s Directorate of Operations, served as senior manager for clandestine operations.
What do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Send to the E-mail address up top. Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.
By William Rivers Pitt, truthout /11/3/03
Veteran’s Day is upon us. A just world would see a long parade of veterans wending its way past the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, past the Korean War Memorial, past every statue and plaque commemorating the service, and that full measure of devotion, given to this nation by men and women beyond number. In a just world, the parade would halt on the ground that, someday, will bear the names of the men and women who have died, and will die, in this Iraq war.
In a just world, George W. Bush would be required to stand upon this ground and be spat upon by every person in that long, proud parade.
“What the fuck am I doing here?” U.S. soldier, right, of Charlie company, 1-22 Infantry regiment, 4th Infantry Division, is seen on one more useless, pointless, hopeless and possibly fatal patrol in Tikrit, north of Baghdad Nov. 10, 2003. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
AFGHANISTAN: THE FORGOTTEN WAR
War On Kids
By Yvonne Ridley and Lawrence Smallman, 10 November 2003, Al Jazeera
The London-based Islamic Observation Centre recently supplied pictures to Aljazeera.net showing US soldiers frisking a four-year-old boy in an Afghan village in Paktika as part of a military operation.
A senior officer justified the action at the time saying the child could have been carrying explosives.
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