Monday, March 15, 2004

War News for March 15, 2004 Bring 'em on: US soldier stabbed and wounded in Baghdad's Green Zone. Bring 'em on: Arab city council member assassinated in Kirkuk. Bring 'em on: Police station mortared in Mosul. Bring 'em on: One US soldier killed, 20 wounded during anti-insurgency operations near Ramadi. Bring 'em on: Four civilians wounded during mortar attack near Abu Ghraib. New Spanish Prime Minister promises to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq. "He today said that no decision on the 1,300 Spanish troops in Iraq would be taken until he was in power and without wide political consultation, but insisted he did not intend for them to stay. He told Cadena Ser: 'The war has been a disaster, the occupation continues to be a disaster, it has only generated violence.'" US troops blamed for six Iraqis killed, four wounded near Baquba. IGC now squabbling over UN role in elections. Tensions between Iraqi Shi'ites and US increasing. "The Iraqis sent a delegation to Tehran, which is high on Washington's 'enemy list', presenting it as just a neighbourly visit. But the Americans would have been stunned by the inclusion in the team of their hand-picked candidate as the likely next leader of Iraq - returned exile and former banker Ahmed Chalabi. US retaliation was swift. It closed all but three of the crossing points on the Iraq-Iran border. This was presented by the chief of the US occupation, Paul Bremer, as just another security measure, but observers saw the border tightening as a rebuke to the Iraqi Shiites who depend on the spending of thousands of Iranian pilgrims who cross daily to visit the Shiite shrine cities in Iraq - Karbala and Najaf." I suppose Chalabi is still miffed at losing that sweet $327 million security contract. Baghdad's trailer trash. "Smith was hired as an aide to the U.S. senior adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior but now works as a policy adviser in the civil division for fire and emergency services. He is helping to organize a national conference of emergency officials. Smith said he has spent most of his time in the Green Zone, where the occupation forces are based. Lately, he has been traveling more to other parts of the country as an interim government is being set up to assume control on July 1." Insurgent improve tactics and bomb techniques. "Progress in Iraq? Depends on who you ask." It sometimes seems that the Stars and Stripes is the only US news organization that actually compares the "progress reports" issued by the CPA with the perceived reality of the average Iraqi citizen. If you heard Lianne Hansen yesterday on NPR gushing during an "interview" with an IGC member, you know what I mean. Military families sound off at Dover. AWOL Guardsman plans to surrender, fight Bush's War. I saw this story earlier today, but I didn't post it until Navy Wife posted it comments and I realized that it is a relevant story. As a man, I feel sympathy for Staff Sergeant Mejia, but as a soldier I feel nothing but contempt and revulsion for an NCO who deserts his comrades in combat. Still, it's interesting that 600 soldiers are classified as AWOL after failing to return to their units in Iraq from leave. Selective Service creating procedures for "special skills" conscription. "Flahavan said Selective Service planning for a possible draft of linguists and computer experts began last fall after Pentagon personnel officials said the military needed more people with skills in those areas...The military has had particular difficulty attracting and retaining language experts, especially people knowledgeable about Arabic and various Afghan dialects." Of course, bogus counterintelligence investigations and prosecutions - like, say, Captain Yee's ordeal, and Ashcroft's targeting of those Arab-American communities that could provide a suitable recruiting base has nothing to do with the recruiting and retention problem. Move along, citizen, nothing to see here. Casualty Reports Local story: Wisconsin soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Maryland soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Utah soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Florida contractor killed in Iraq. Off Topic: Texas soldier with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. "First, the disease robbed Alford of his dignity and the career he had craved since boyhood. Not knowing the monster was consuming his brain and central nervous system, his superiors in the 2nd Battalion of the Army's 5th Special Forces Group berated and demoted him for a pattern of dereliction that included losing equipment, going AWOL and repeatedly failing to carry out commands. He was bucked down a rank and was about to be stripped of his Special Forces uniform patch, having been shipped home early from Iraq. Once the diagnosis was made, the Army made amends. Rank and pay were restored. But Alford's parents and wife wonder why no one questioned how a soldier who had earned a Bronze Star in Afghanistan in 2002 could become, 18 months later, the foul-up of the unit. They want answers, and apologies." I live about 20 miles from Midway Meats, the slaughterhouse where a cow with BSV was slaughtered and processed a few months ago. You can see it from the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 if you're driving from Seattle to Portland. I often see it when I fly because it's just north of Runway 15 at the Chehalis airport, and I use the building as a reference point to start my base turn when I'm landing on that runway. Every time I see that place I'm reminded that Lieutenant AWOL has done nothing to protect the US food supply except point fingers and shout, "Not my fault!" Now, I'll think about Sergeant Alford, too. 86-43-04. Pass it on.


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