|30/07/03||GI Special #65: “More Body Bags”|
GI SPECIAL #65
A Soldiers’ Letter Home;
“Without Supplies, Without Mission, More and More Body Bags And Amputees”
Brett Hunt az.central.com, Posted 7/29/2003
Brett Hunt, a 2nd lieutenant with the Army’s 11th Signal Brigade and a Globe [Arizona] native, sent this note to his parents a week ago. His unit is north of Baghdad.
Hey Mom and Dad,
Things are fine here. It is soooooooooooo hot and nasty, but what are you going to do? It is just getting worse every day. I think I may have lice or fleas or something.
Our living conditions are just so difficult to keep clean and maintain it all. I washed my one blanket and my cot, but I do not have any hot water (well the water is hot but you know what I mean, like hot in a washing machine to kill the buggies in the clothes stuff). It has not been bad today, but I wake up with all of these tiny red bites. My hair is long and does not itch, but I think something is still going on. I am using all of your bug stuff, but I think they are stronger than what we have in the States. The mosquitoes laugh at me when I put OFF on. You have to put on the straight DEET and hope you will not have cancer in a year.
We have been hit 18 of the last 19 days. I feel like I am at Da Nang or Phu Bai. (Sounds more like Khe Sanh; see below) It just sucks. Luckily, “only” about 45 people have been hurt. Yeah, a lot, but considering how many they lob in here, that is not too bad.
It is wearing on me along with the constant oppressive heat, no sleep, no food (yeah, they shut off our food resupply without any warning, things are getting slim, we are fine but it is not a good feeling to have so little spare food and water) and spending every night and day now trying to dodge mortars. More than half a month under siege and luckily we are all still safe.
They have frozen all redeployments, so no one is going anywhere anytime soon, and our Congress goes on vacation July 25 so nothing is going to happen until mid fall. Not what we all want to hear out here. We are under siege out here, without supplies, without a mission and we can only roll the dice so many times and not get our (expletive) shot. More and more body bags and amputees will be coming home.
Really, though, I am not in bad shape. I escape to my job and my books and it keeps me sane enough to get by. I will be safe and stay healthy here.
I love you guys.
Compare The Letter Above With This Pompous Brainless Lying Bullshit From A Pompous Brainless Lying General
Troops In Iraq Undaunted, U.S. Officer Says
(Washington Post, July 28, 2003, Pg. 12) The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in Baghdad that U.S. troops in Iraq were “undaunted” by a deadly campaign of guerrilla attacks against them
Do you have a friend or relative in the service? Forward this E-MAIL along, or send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly. Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and in Iraq, and information about other social protest movements here in the USA. Send requests to address up top.
How A Movement Was Born….
Don’t Extend Them, Don’t Replace Them;
Just Bring Them on Home Now!
By STAN GOFF
On July 23rd, my son, who is assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, was told along with the rest of his company at morning formation, to get his affairs in order. They are going to replace the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq.
Jessie spent his first thirteen years around the military, from which I retired just seven years ago right there in Ft. Bragg. It’s no surprise, then, that in the face of all my protests he joined the army anyway. The military is ‘normal’ to him.
His mother and I have been scrupulously ‘normal’ for the last few days, self-consciously so. We show great attention to detail in our day-to-day activities. We stay busy.
I reassure her and myself that he is a light wheeled vehicle mechanic, that he won’t be participating in convoys when his unit goes to Iraq in September, that Baghdad airport, where the motor pool probably is, has by now been turned into an impregnable fortress, that perhaps there wasn’t as much depleted uranium fired there as in some Baghdad neighborhoods, that he won’t be obliged to take lives and lose that little piece of his soul, that he won’t fall into the habit of calling Iraqis ragheads or hajjis, that he can just save some money, do his job, and stay busy and out of harm’s way.
This is what people say to each other who are in our position, because there is no alternative way to think and still go to work, still attend to the needs of other children, still manage relationships, and still maintain some modicum of self-control.
On July 3rd, I wrote a piece for “Counterpunch” expressing my reaction to George W. Bush’s remark about “bring ‘em on”. I went after this remark for its counterfeit courage, for its puerility, for its utter hypocrisy and insensitivity. But now I am reminded, now that my son is going to go there (at his age I was already in Vietnam) that George W. Bush and his coterie are more than offensive. They are obscenities with a lot of blood on their hands, and their wretchedness is something far more terrifying and unspeakable —viewed as a parent —than this bit of schoolyard mouth.
The “Counterpunch” column about this Texas preppy’s remark elicited a stunning reaction. My email was hit by a tidal wave, hundreds of responses an hour at first, reactions of empathy and outrage that told me there is a vast reservoir of doubt, fear, and rage filling up beyond the ken of the cringing institution that calls itself the press. Around 40 percent of those responses came from troops, military families, and veterans. There is a great well of sullen anger smoldering out there against these pop-opera generalissimos. Now, as parents facing our son’s first combat tour, we are even more part of that burning.
The recent news stories about the Bush adminstration’s mountain of lies was not news to those of us who learned long ago to seek sources outside officialdom. Millions of us said they were lying over a year ago. And we parents —many of us —know that our enemies are not in Iraq. Our enemies are in office, and they have the blood of children —some of them ours —on their hands. Everyone is someone’s child, even when they are grown. Even when they take paths we don’t approve of. Even when they become soldiers, and are sent to pay for lies with their bodies and hearts and the blood of others.
I replied to every email, most perfunctorily, some at length. I skimmed at first, until I realized I had overlooked a letter from a woman whose son struggled for four years with post traumatic stress disorder before he took his own life. Not long after, his young wife did the same. This bereaved mother wrote to say thanks for giving her a voice. But it was she and others like her who are giving us a voice.
I made calls, and the people I called made calls, and within four days a small group of activist veterans and military families had formed a coordinating committee to figure out how we might find those other voices and amplify them. We bought a web domain, made more calls, wrote statements of purpose, developed outreach literature, conferred for two hours at a time on the phone from the west coast to the east.
We did more organizing in two weeks than I have seen with most initiatives in six months. As the word has leaked out, we are getting phone calls and email. What is this thing you are doing? Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Citizen Soldier, and others —these dissident military communities have networks!
So we are going to give troops, their families, and critical veterans a voice. That’s the reason-for-being of “Bring Them Home Now!” We are using our web site www.bringthemhomenow.org <www.bringthemhomenow.org/> as a communications clearinghouse to publish the voices of military communities and to link them to the networks and resources they will need to organize themselves.
We are going directly to those upon whom our would-be emperors depend to carry out their grandiose and deadly vision ---the military. A friend of mine who passed away this year once said, “Soldiers [and their families] are political scientists. No-one cares as much as they do about what it is they are asked to die for.” (Yes!) For these political scientists, ‘Bring Them Home Now!’ will be a conference room, a classroom, and a loudspeaker.
We will turn up the volume and the political pressure to bring our loved ones home, NOT ‘replace’ them with more of our children and spouses, and to leave the people of Central and Southwestern Asia to determine their own futures without Bush’s bombs and bullets.
Stan Goff is the author of “Hideous Dream: A Soldier’s Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1887128638/counterpunchmaga “ (Soft Skull Press, 2000) and of the upcoming book “Full Spectrum Disorder” (Soft Skull Press, 2003). He is a member of the BRING THEM HOME NOW! www.bringthemhomenow.org/ coordinating committee, a retired Special Forces master sergeant, and the father of an active duty soldier. Email for BRING THEM HOME NOW! is firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Send to the E-mail address up top.
Soldiers & Families Insurgency Rocks Pentagon
(Newsweek, Aug. 4, 2003) The Pentagon was beset last week by a ragtag insurgency of frustrated wives, anxious parents—and hot, thirsty, bored and disgruntled troops in Iraq. In and out of uniform, military family members are speaking up—about the mounting casualties, the hardships of the occupation and, above all, the ever-lengthening deployments.
“Somebody Has to Stand Up For the Soldiers!”
Liberator, V1, Number 4—July 28, 2003/Savannah, GA.
Her name here is “Dolly Madison”. Two weeks ago she made national and international headlines when she and fellow wives of Savannah-area military personnel still under the gun in Iraq staged a spontaneous protest.
The demand was simple: the women wanted their husbands brought home yesterday. Dolly’s man is a tank crewman, among the first to enter Baghdad. He and many other members of the Third Infantry Division have been in the Middle East since November 2002. Dolly has been married for three years. She lives on the sprawling Ft. Stewart Army complex in Liberty County-35 miles south of Savannah. With her three children, one a mere two-year old, she says it’s a struggle to get by.
Dolly Madison is one of the very few military wives still willing to speak out publicly. In this exclusive Liberator interview, conducted on the evening of July 22, you will learn why the sudden hush.
Liberator: Why are you protesting?
Dolly Madison (DM): I don’t look at it as protesting. I just see all these soldiers that are coming home that were deployed after my husband. I feel those soldiers are just as qualified to do the jobs that they have my husband doing right now in Iraq, such as guarding gates and so forth. My husband’s tank was one of the first to take Iraqi fire. He was on the front lines. He did his job. Now it’s time for the people who were sitting at the
rear to come do their jobs. And my husband should be sent home.
Liberator: How many wives are involved in your movement?
DM: You know, to be honest, I don’t know. A lot of them are not speaking out. A lot of the spouses are refusing to talk to the press now. I just think America needs to know how our quote-unquote heroes are being treated. They are not being treated like heroes.
Liberator: How did your movement get started?
DM: Basically, I was the bigmouth of the group. I just said I was sick and tired of getting misled. The last straw was when they [the Pentagon-Ed] would give us dates when our husbands would be home and then they’d just take those dates back.
But the straw that broke the camel’s back was when I was coming out of my bedroom and my five-year old saw me laughing because my oldest daughter had said something funny. And my five-year old asked: “ Are you excited because daddy is coming home?” I had discovered earlier that morning that he was not coming home. And I had to explain to her then that daddy was not coming home. She then told me that I had lied to her. And I wasn’t supposed to lie. That was the clincher. That was when I got mad.
I thought, now I want the U.S. government to look at my five-year old and tell my child: “Mommy didn’t lie to you, but the U.S. government lied to you.” If the soldiers can’t speak up for themselves to keep themselves out of trouble, then somebody else has to do it. Somebody has to stand up for the soldiers!
Liberator: Were you initially supportive of the war on Iraq?
DM: No. I was supportive of the soldiers going over to help the Iraqi people out, I thought. I was not supportive of [President George-Ed.] Bush finishing what his father started. It should have been finished the first time.
Liberator: How do feel about the war now?
DM: I feel a lot of soldiers died needlessly. There were a lot Americans who perished. There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction found. So there was a lot of bloodshed for nothing.
Liberator: Can you speak about why the wives are now reluctant to speak up?
DM: There is a rumor going around. This is second hand, but I was told that some of the soldiers over there [in Iraq-Ed.] who have spoken out against Bush have been reprimanded. Others were given extra duty and other punishments because their wives’ names have shown up in papers and whatnot. I guess what they [the U.S. government-Ed.] are trying to say is that the Iraqi people see our news and it defeats the purpose of being over there if they see that everybody is protesting.
I stand up for my husband 110%. He does the job of protecting us. We had a meeting and I asked a Sergeant-Major: Are you telling me that the 3rd ID [Third Infantry Division-Ed.] are the only soldiers we have capable of staying over there and doing the job? He nodded yes. Then I said: then we have a pretty sorry military. The only people who are safe are the Iraqis. If the military can’t handle this business, then what about [North-Ed.] Korea, the next war or whatever, what if they decide to come after us? Then we are in trouble.
Liberator: How much contact do you have with your husband?
DM: Yes, twice a week or so.
Liberator: How do you want the readers to help you?
DM: I just want them to know that we -military and civilian-need to band together and let the government know that they are treating our soldiers as less than dogs. They are treating them as less than animals because the soldiers are being kept away from their families for an extended time for no good reason. The morale of the soldiers over there is so extremely low. The soldiers need to know that we are here for them and we are going to stand up for them. They have to know that we are not going to put up with this.
Liberator: How do you know that the morale is low?
DM: You can just hear it. I can hear it in my husband’s voice. They try to make the best of it. But they were given dates to come home. For example, my husband was told that he would be home no later than the 3rd of August. He was so excited. And then, not even a few hours later, he called me again. He said, “Baby, I’m not coming home.” You could hear it in his voice. People are breaking down over there. Not only are they getting shot down by the Iraqis every day but they are being shot down by the U.S. government. It’s not fair.
-By William Pleasant www.shamon.com/lib
Disguised U.S. Soldiers Reportedly Escape From Iraq
BAGHDAD, July 27 (IslamOnline.net), By Aws al-Sharqi,
U.S. soldiers in Iraq are escaping from Iraq under the guise of Kurdish citizens, wearing the famous Iraqi and Arab al-Dashdasha (loose headdress) which has become much sought-after recently, Iraqis told IslamOnline.net Sunday, July 27.
Speaking to IOL, Saeed al-Aidany, a galabia (gown) seller, said, “We were surprised at the very beginning to see a lot of U.S. soldiers buying al-Dashdasha, but it came to our knowledge that they used it as a camouflage to make their escape to Gulf states”.
Aidany further claimed that U.S. soldiers were also seen buying Kurdish costumes to make their way to Turkey through northern Iraq.
Abdul Amir al-Hasnawi, a truck driver, alleged he helped two U.S. soldiers escape to Kuwait.
“Two Black U.S. soldiers arrived in Basra through a Christian go-between from Baghdad, who used to work as a translator with the Americans. They were in jeans and I smuggled them to Kuwait in return for $450 each,” Hasnawi told IOL.
“The go-between told me that the two soldiers did not want to be gunned down in Iraq without a cause,” he added.
Kazem al-Badri, a taxi driver, claimed that cab and truck drivers nowadays are testing the pulse of search themselves, or through go-betweens, for U.S. soldiers who want to escape from the war-scarred country in return for bucks.
“It is not a rumor or an Iraqi propaganda but it is a fact, because I myself know a lot of drivers who helped U.S. soldiers escape from Iraq,” Badri insisted, adding that smuggling rates hit first a mind-boggling $5,000 for each soldier but were now put down to $500.
Iraqi newspapers said recently that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had discovered that a number of U.S. soldiers operating in Iraq were trying to escape from Iraq through the country’s western borders. The daily Al-Qabas said that the CIA arrested those soldiers and charged them with duty negligence, adding that the soldiers were stationed in the flashpoint Iraqi towns.
MP’s Busted For Prisoner Torture
WASHINGTON, July 26 (AFP) – Four US soldiers serving in Iraq have been charged with abuse of Iraqi prisoners of war and are awaiting a decision on whether they will face a court-martial, a defense official said Saturday.
The charges mark the first time US personnel have been formally accused of mistreating Iraqi prisoners since the beginning of the US-led invasion of Iraq on March 20, the official said.
The soldiers are reported to belong to a military police unit that helped guard prisoners at Camp Bucca, near the southern Iraqi city of Umm Qasr, last May.
“They have been charged with Article 32, which is basically like a grand jury in civilian terms, based on an investigation into allegations of mistreatment of POWs,” Lieutenant Commander Nick Balice, a spokesman for the US Central Command, told AFP.
The charges are based on an incident that occurred at the POW camp on May 12, the nature of which Balice would not disclose.
But other sources indicated the soldiers, two of whom are said to be women, are alleged to have used unwarranted physical force against the prisoners.
Soldier Truck Drivers Run Deadly Gauntlet
July 28, 2003, By John Carlson, Associated Press
DES MOINES, Iowa — The drivers of the 5-ton trucks, part of an Army convoy heading through Iraq, are told not to stop. For anything.
Stopping is an invitation to grenade-throwing.
It’s been a rough 3∏ months for the soldiers of the 1168th, stationed at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, since mid-April.
They’re roasting in 120- and 130-degree temperatures and blasting winds that whip sand almost hard enough to scar the skin. They’re tired, often bored, and some are frustrated by not knowing when they’ll get home.
College students are looking at missing out on the fall semester, and the soldiers are worried about relatives and careers.
“We can’t do anything about it, so we make the best of it,” said Staff Sgt. Jim Mart, of Emerson. “We have showers and hot food and a laundry here. We could have it a lot worse. You have to keep a sense of humor about things. You’d go nuts if you didn’t.”
These men and women were working incredibly long hours early in their deployment. They’d deliver their cargo, then wait 12 or 14 hours, in the heat, in helmets and vests, for the trucks to be unloaded.
“I got two hours sleep over two days once,” said Spc. Zach Mohr, of Panora.
Female Cadets Punished For Rape Complaints
(New York Times, July 26, 2003) In the military, a commander needs to know whether a sexual predator is in the ranks and to determine how accusations against such soldiers should be prosecuted. Given the trauma suffered by young female Air Force Academy cadets who were drummed out of the service when they accused someone of sexual harassment or assault, the military is going to have to find a way to give these young people the assurance of confidentiality, at least in the early stages of a case. Without such protection, victims may decide that their only real recourse is silence.
Filipino Soldiers Stand Down After Mutiny
19-Hour Siege Ends Peacefully, But Could Have Lasting Political, Economic Effects
(Washington Post, July 28, 2003, Pg. 15) After a 19-hour siege in a ritzy Manila commercial complex, 300 rebellious Philippine soldiers agreed to stand down in the hope that their complaints about corruption and inequality in the armed forces would be addressed. The mutiny never seriously threatened the government, but analysts said that the crisis will challenge President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s credibility, weaken the value of the peso and dampen investor confidence.
IRAQ WAR REPORTS:
Marine Killed In Grenade Attack
Tim Harper, Toronto Star, 7/28/2003
One U.S. Marine was killed and another wounded early yesterday in a grenade attack south of Baghdad. The military said the attack occurred at 2:35 a.m. in the region controlled by the Marines south of the capital.
One Dead in Ambush
July 28, 2003, Associated Press
BAGHDAD, Iraq — One soldier was killed in an ambush in Baghdad on Monday and a second died in a traffic accident south of the capital, the military reported.
In the combat death in central Baghdad, the soldier died and three were injured when an attacker dropped a grenade on a convoy from an overpass, the military said.
It took the military hours to confirm the attack had happened. Witnesses had given reporters varying accounts much earlier in the day, saying at least three U.S. soldiers were injured or killed in the attack.
The witnesses said the victims were in canvass-top Humvee moving along Palestine Street in central Baghdad.
Later Monday, the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., reported the vehicle accident near the southern city of Nasiriyah in which the second soldier died and one was injured.
IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP
U.S. Estimates The Number Of Iraqi Resistance Fighters At 5,000!!!!!!
(Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2003) As deadly attacks on U.S. troops continued, senior American military officials contended that the Iraqi insurgency is limited to about 4,000 to 5,000. The officials did not say how they arrived at the figure.
(Another lie dies. Remember Rumsfeld and the Generals babbling about a “few die hard remnants” being the problem, preceded by their horseshit about “a few looters?” If they admit 5,000 armed organized resistance fighters, you can bet it’s closer to 10,000 or 20,000. That’s a fucking army. And the idiot in the White House still doesn’t get it; see the next story.)
Bush Proclaims End to Saddam’s Regime Again, and Again; Says “A Few Remaining Holdouts” Causing Trouble
WASHINGTON By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer, July 23, 2003
President Bush on Wednesday hailed the deaths of Saddam Hussein’s two sons as the clearest sign yet that “the former regime is gone and will not be coming back.” (Comment from B: “Glad to see the Prez reads 3 month old newspapers. Either that or the message from his ear finally got to his brain.”)
Bush said that “a few remaining holdouts” loyal to Saddam’s government are complicating efforts to stabilize Iraq and advance freedom.
Special Ops Chief Says Iraq Commandos “Largest Since World War II”
(New York Times, July 28, 2003) Brig. Gen. Gary Harrell, commander of Special Operations missions for the war in Iraq, said the scope of the commando operations there was probably the largest since World War II.
Troops Find Weapons Near Gates of U.S. Base
July 28, 2003, By D’arcy Doran, Associated Press
TIKRIT, Iraq — Soldiers discovered 40 anti-tank mines, dozens of mortar rounds and hundreds of pounds of gunpowder Monday buried a quarter mile from the gates of the 4th Infantry Division’s headquarters.
The freshly buried weapons, found outside an abandoned building were sufficient for a month of guerrilla attacks on U.S. troops, said Major Bryan Luke, 37, of Mobile, Ala., whose patrol found the weapons cache.
Soldiers also raided the building where they found the weapons last week, but after they left, the resistance smuggled the weapons into the site where they could moved on foot to stage attacks on U.S. forces, said Luke, a member of 22nd Infantry Regiment, which covers the city.
“They were trying to hide these weapons as close as possible to the areas that we use,” Luke said.
Besides the anti-tank mines, the cache included 30 60mm mortar rounds, 200 pounds of gun powder, 20 pounds of C4 explosive and several rocket propelled grenades.
Also in Tikrit, soldiers from 22nd Infantry had a brief gunfight before dawn Monday with a man armed with an AK-47 rifle who fired from a government building. Soldiers surrounded the building and killed the man in a brief exchange of fire, Russell said.
RESISTANCE TAKES OUT BRIDGE
By D’ARCY DORAN, Associated Press Writer, July 28,2003
North of Baghdad, guerrillas floated a bomb on a palm log down the Diala River, a Tigris tributary, and detonated it under an old bridge linking the northern cities of Baqouba and Tikrit, hotbeds of Saddam support in the so-called “Sunni Triangle.”
U.S. soldiers had built a pontoon bridge farther downstream and were renovating the old bridge, but after the explosion they closed both to the public.
“We’ve been repairing it since the end of April, but now we’ve got people trying to blow it up,” said Lt. Col. Bill Adamson, a 4th Infantry Division commander. “Because of this damage we’ve got to shut it to all the civilian traffic.”
The bomb was the first known guerrilla attack on a bridge. Bridges are especially crucial in a nation born around its two major rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. Saboteurs have attacked infrastructure such as electricity plants, water installations and oil pipelines in the past.
Retired Veterans Go After Bush
WASHINGTON – President Bush and his Republican Party are facing a political backlash from an unlikely group – retired veterans.
“He pats us on the back with his speeches and stabs us in the back with his actions,” said Charles A. Carter of Shawnee, Okla., a retired Navy senior chief petty officer.
“I feel betrayed,” said Raymond C. Oden Jr., a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant now living in Abilene, Texas.
Registered Republican James Cook, who retired to Fort Walton Beach, Fla., after 24 years in the Air Force, said he is abandoning a party that he said abandoned him. “Bush is a liar,” he said. “The Republicans in Congress, with very few exceptions, are gutless party lapdogs who listen to what puts money in their own pockets or what will get them re-elected.”
“I voted for the president because of the promises,” said Floyd Sears, a retired Air Force master sergeant in Biloxi, Miss. “But as far as I can tell, he has done nothing. In fact, his actions have been detrimental to the veterans and retired veterans. I’m very disappointed about the broken promise on medical care.”
U.S. Command Desperation Tactics;
Wife, Kid Taken As Hostages; 155 Artillery Used Against Mortars
Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post, 7/28/2003
Col. David Hogg, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, said tougher methods are being used to gather the intelligence. On Wednesday night, he said, his troops picked up the wife and daughter of an Iraqi lieutenant general. They left a note: “If you want your family released, turn yourself in.” Such tactics are justified, he said, because, “It’s an intelligence operation with detainees, and these people have info.” They would have been released in due course, he added later.
The tactic worked. On Friday, Hogg said, the lieutenant general appeared at the front gate of the U.S. base and surrendered.
Rocket-propelled grenade attacks on U.S. vehicles began in earnest near the end of the month. On May 30, a sophisticated three-point ambush was launched against U.S. troops patrolling in the town of Bayji, just north of Tikrit. As U.S. troops evaded one line of fire, they were attacked by the next. When troops fired back, the Iraqis continued to fight instead of running. (Now they tell us. This was NOT reported at the time.)
On June 7, a patrol of U.S. military police drove into the town of Thuluya, on a big bend in the Tigris River southeast of Tikrit. Iraqis there told them to leave, and warned that if they came back, they would be killed, said a U.S. commander. It was then that “we started to kick down doors,” recalled a senior Central Command official.
“I figure you can either sit barricaded in your base camp or take the fight to the enemy,” said Lt. Col. Larry “Pepper” Jackson, commander of an Army outpost on the outskirts of Bayji, which is still described as hostile by U.S. military intelligence analysts.
He said he has two patrols on the streets of Bayji at any given time. His troops are still attacked, but as a result of the new tactics, “It is a lot quieter — about half as much contact as in May.” (Other military reports are less cheery: fewer pop-up attacks, yes, but more carefully planned, troop-killing coordinated attacks using a combination of mines, RPG’s, mortars and small arms fire. That’s “quieter?” What bullshit!.)
In recent weeks, military officers said, Iraqi fighters have turned to other weapons.
“They’ve gone to standoff weapons — mines and mortars, and IEDs” — improvised explosive devices, or bombs — said Capt. John Taylor, the intelligence officer for the base near Bayji.
Last Wednesday, a tank from the base hit an antitank mine for the first time since its unit came to Iraq in April. (Yeah, “quieter.”) Lt. Erik Aadland, a former resident of Springfield, Va., was standing in the turret of his tank as it was returning to base after a patrol through Bayji. With the tank just a stone’s throw from the front gate, the mine exploded. “Everything went red,” he recalled. (Real quiet right there “at the front gate.”)
“Then we were covered in black smoke.” Aadland and his crew dismounted and stared at the damage: The right track was blown off, the fender above it twisted upward and three armored panels weighing a total of about 1,100 pounds had been hurled about 90 feet away.
In turn, U.S. forces expanded the scope of their raids. “The past six weeks, our patrols have gotten more aggressive, much more frequent,” said Healey, the infantry company commander. “Instead of doing one house, for example, we’ll do a whole street.” (Hey, don’t forget to check out the “front gate.”)
Underscoring the intense nature of the combat, Hogg’s brigade, after weeks of being pestered by enemy mortars, has begun responding with heavy artillery, and so far this month has fired more than 60 high-explosive 155 mm shells.
Some Army units have modified their equipment to help them adjust to urban warfare. At least two battalions in the 4th Infantry Division have mounted .50 caliber heavy machine guns on the back of the pickup-truck version of their Humvees, vehicles sometimes used to carry infantry troops to raids. “Gun-vees,” which resembles the “technicals” used by Somali fighters, are especially useful in battling guerrilla fighters in alleys and other tight urban spaces where tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles cannot maneuver.
The modified vehicle also provides a helpful element of surprise, said Jackson, the U.S. commander near Bayji. “A Humvee can sneak up for a raid,” he said. “A tank you can hear a mile away.” (Check out the photo above of a Humvee “sneaking up for a raid.”):
Famous Last Words From Talking Hogg: Vietnam Vets Take Note:
Senior U.S. commanders here are so confident about their recent successes that they have begun debating whether victory is in sight. “I think we’re at the hump” now, a senior Central Command official said. “I think we could be over the hump fairly quickly” — possibly within a couple of months, he added.
Hogg, whose troops are still engaged in combat every day, agreed. “I think we’re fixing to turn the corner,” he said Thursday. “I think the operations over the next couple of weeks will get us there.
How A Raid Became a Massacre
By Robert Fisk in Baghdad, 28 July 2003, independent.co.uk
Obsessed with capturing Saddam Hussein, American soldiers turned a botched raid on a house in the Mansur district of Baghdad yesterday into a bloodbath, opening fire on scores of Iraqi civilians in a crowded street and killing up to 11, including two children, their mother and crippled father. At least one civilian car caught fire, cremating its occupants.
The vehicle carrying the two children and their mother and father was riddled by bullets as it approached a razor-wired checkpoint outside the house.
Amid the fury generated among the largely middle-class residents of Mansur whatever political advantages were gained by the killing of Saddam’s sons have been squandered. A doctor at the Yarmouk hospital, which received four of the dead, turned on me angrily last night, shouting: “If an American came to my emergency room, maybe I would kill him.”
Two civilians, both believed to have been driving with their families, were brought to the Yarmouk, one with abdominal wounds and the other with “his brain outside of his head”, according to another doctor.
At the scene of the killings, there was pandemonium. While US troops were loading the bullet-shattered cars on trucks – and trying to stop cameramen filming the carnage – crowds screamed abuse at them. One American soldier a few feet from me climbed into the seat of his Humvee, threw his helmet on the floor of the vehicle and shouted: “Shit! Shit!”
There was no doubt about the target: the home of Sheikh Rabia Mohamed Habib, a prominent tribal leader who had met Saddam but who was not even in his house when the Americans stormed it. One report says they killed a guard as they entered.
“The Americans searched the house completely, very roughly,” Sheikh Habib said. “It seems they thought Saddam Hussein was inside.”
It appears the killings started as the troops were searching the building and as motorists approached the barbed wire which the soldiers had placed without warning across the road.
Witnesses said the first car contained at least two men. “The second contained two children about 10, their mother and their father who had been wounded in the Iran-Iraq war – he was a cripple,” a local shopkeeper told me. “They all died. The man’s legs were cut in half by the bullets,” he added. A third car then approached the Americans, who opened fire again. One of the occupants fled, but the other two remained in the vehicle and were killed.
When another car arrived US troops riddled it with more bullets and it burst into flames. It is believed that two people were inside and both were burnt to death. “The Americans didn’t try to help the civilians they had shot, not once,” a witness said. “They let the car burn and left the bodies where they lay, even the children. It was we who had to take them to the hospitals.”
Last night, there were reports from the southern city of Karbala that three men had been shot dead by American troops during a demonstration.
“Celebration” Stars “Iraqis With Clubs”
By NIKO PRICE and JAMIE TARABAY, Associated Press Writers, July 23, 2003
MOSUL, Iraq -As the bodies of Odai, 39, and Qusai, 37, were taken to Baghdad International Airport to be flown out of the country, several hundred people gathered outside the razor wire surrounding their still-smoking hide-out Wednesday, chanting pro-Saddam slogans.
“This is terrorism! They are killers!” screamed Saad Badr, a 50-year-old taxi driver who was pressed so close to the razor wire that his left toe was bleeding.
“Americans are unbelievers, and Saddam Hussein is a Muslim. This makes me even more angry at the Americans,” said 14-year-old Mohammed Qassem, to a chorus of agreement from the crowd.
The protesters dispersed without incident after the Americans trucked in several dozen Iraqis in civilian clothes and armed with wooden clubs.
Poles Polled: Now Oppose Sending Troops to Iraq
July 28, 2003, By ANDRZEJ STYLINSKI, Associated Press Writer
WARSAW, Poland: A poll published Monday showing more than half of those surveyed disapproved of sending troops.
The July 4-7 survey of 952 Poles was the first time Poles were asked specifically if they approved of their nations’ role in helping stabilize Iraq.
About 55 percent of the respondents were against sending Polish troops to command a stabilization zone, some 36 percent approved and eight percent had no opinion.
Warsaw, a leading European supporter of the U.S.-led military operation in Iraq, is deploying 2,000 troops to lead a force controlling a zone in southern central Iraq beginning in September.
Asked in June if they supported Warsaw’s decision to accept the U.S. proposal to lead a stabilization zone, 50 percent said yes and 33 percent said no.
Turkey Won’t Send Troops to Iraq
(Washington Times, July 28, 2003, Pg. 19) Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, returning from discussions in Washington about sending Turkish troops to Iraq, said a decision would not be made before parliament adjourns for the summer on Friday.
DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK
40% Say Bush Deliberately Lied About War Public’s Skepticism On War Concerns Bush’s Supporters
(Philadelphia Inquirer, July 27, 2003)
President Bush’s credibility, a cornerstone of his bond with the American people, is being tested by the controversy over his prewar argument that Iraq was trying to buy uranium to revive its nuclear-weapons program. Four out of 10 respondents in a new poll for CNN and Time said Bush deliberately misled them about the need for war. Potentially more troubling for the White House, a majority said they had doubts about his administration’s truthfulness.______________________________________________________________________
Rumsfeld Says He Has No Beef With Army
(And The Check Is In The Mail)
(Army Times, Aug. 4, Pg. 20) What war with the Army? “I’ve always liked the Army,” Rumsfeld said in a brief interview during a visit to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., spiritual home of the Army’s career officers. “Things that get printed about that tend to be false.”
1. Read The Wolfowitz Whine:
Wolfowitz Accuses Arab Stations Of Biased Reporting
2. Now See What Wolfowitz Considers “Unbiased.”
Iraq Seen As Central To War On Terror,
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said that he does not believe a mounting U.S. military death toll will erode Americans’ support for restoring stability to Iraq.
(Comment: All recent polls show support for the war dropping like a brick.)
Wolfowitz Defends ‘Murky’ Evidence
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz defended the invasion of Iraq as an example of how the United States had to be prepared to act on “murky intelligence” in its war on terrorism.
Al-Jazeera Refutes Wolfowitz Stupid Lie
DOHA, July 29 (Oana/QNA) – The Arabic ‘Al-Jazeera’ TV channel Monday refuted the accusations made by the US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz that the broadcaster was ‘running false reports’, and accuses US officials of being misinformed.
In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Wolfowitz said that, ‘’Al Jazeera ran a totally false report that American troops had gone and detained one of the key imams in the holy city of Najaf, Muktad Al Sadr (sic). It was a false report, but they were out broadcasting it instantly,’’ Al-Jazeerah recalled in its statement faxed to the Qatar News Agency (QNA) on Monday.
‘Al Jazeera never stated at any time that Muqtada As-Sadr was detained. Our correspondent Yasser Abu Hilala stated he had received phone calls from Muqtada Al-Sadr’s secretary and two of his top deputies saying the US forces surrounded the imam’s house after he called for the formation of an Islamic army.
The phone calls were not only made to our offices but to all the offices of Al-Sadr’s followers in Baghdad triggering a massive demonstration in front of the republican palace within 45 minutes, which we reported, along with the New York Times, CNN and a host of others.
When Mr. Abu Hilala attempted to contact the US military’s public information center they did not even know about the demonstration going on in their own backyard, let alone what was happening in Najaf. When the US military finally got around to denying the encirclement of Al Sadr’s home over 24 hours later, we duly reported it,’ the statement said.
‘Al Jazeera is accused of making outrageous and irresponsible statements we never made at all. We attribute the incredibly poor understanding and chronic misrepresentation of our reporting to the fact that almost no one actually watches Al Jazeera because they do not understand classical Arabic therefore they rely on information from 2nd, 3rd and 4th hand sources – half truths and total falsehoods about our reporting then make the rounds in Washington, Baghdad and elsewhere. In the past month alone, Al Jazeera’s offices and staff in Iraq have been subject to strafing by gunfire, death threats, confiscation of news material, and multiple detentions and arrests, all carried out by US authorities who have never actually watched Al Jazeera but only heard about it,’ the broadcaster explained.
From D. Cline, Vets for Peace:
“This is an amazing visual—an ongoing (by the second) tally of the costs of the Iraq war and occupation, with a chance to see what alternatives in health, housing, education, etc. could be bought with the same money. A great educational tool putting this in a monetary perspective, for those who don’t buy anti-war arguments based on humanitarian or ethical grounds.
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