Tuesday, April 27, 2004

War News for April 27, 2004 Bring ‘em on: US troops fighting al-Sadr’s militia near Kufa. Bring ‘em on: One US Marine killed, eight wounded in fighting near Fallujah. Bring ‘em on: Heavy fighting breaks out near Najaf. Bring ‘em on: Fighting continues near Fallujah. Two US soldiers were killed and five wounded in yesterday’s explosion in Baghdad. CENTCOM reports one US soldier died in a non-combat related incident in Iraq. Bulgaria says its troops are unprepared for fighting in Iraq. “Bulgaria's troops were unprepared for the kind of fighting they are doing in Iraq and need ‘immediate and substantial military backup’ from the U.S.-led coalition, the Bulgarian president said Tuesday. President Georgi Parvanov also demanded that the 485-member Bulgarian battalion be relocated to a new camp outside Karbala by June 30, the deadline for transfer of power to the Iraqi people.” This is a significant policy shift from the Bulgarian government. Parvanov just returned to Sofia from a visit to the Bulgarian troops in Iraq where his car was ambushed by insurgents. I also suspect his officers gave him an earful. US Army provides security for security contractors. “During the weeks he was in Tikrit, Fowler said, they were getting office space and equipment ready. ‘Basically, we were putting together our headquarters,’ he said. ‘We were the management group for the Tikrit office (and) the supervisors for the Tikrit region.’ Fowler said they had to stay on the Army base. ‘We couldn't leave without Army escorts and they were fairly busy, so it was even harder to get escorts to go off base, and the day we did, we went down to the police station,’ Fowler explained.” Iraqi group threatens to kill Italian hostages. Thailand considers withdrawing troops from Iraq. Spanish troops evacuate Najaf. River sounds off about Chalabi, the new Iraqi flag, and suggests a new national anthem. Shortage of armored vehicles reported in Iraq. “Because the Pentagon did not anticipate the urban uprisings that erupted this month, some military units recently rotated into the country left behind many tanks and other armored vehicles. The Marines, for instance, are using only 16 tanks in Iraq of their inventory of 403, and have deployed 39 of their 1,057 assault amphibian vehicles that provide protection against small arms but not rocket-propelled grenades.” When US troops were killed in Somalia in 1993, the American media went into a feeding frenzy and Republicans in Congress worked themselves into a lather criticizing Les Aspin for not sending enough armor to Somalia. This is worse. This isn’t about a failure to send additional equipment, this is about units not taking the issued equipment prescribed by the unit tables of organization. I know the Bushies love to blame the military for every disaster that happens on their watch, but military officers don’t make decisions like this. Some Marine colonel doesn’t decide to leave his tanks in the motor pool when he's taking his battalion to a combat zone. This was clearly a policy decision based on fundamentally flawed assumptions. As the article makes clear, this decision was made because “the Pentagon did not anticipate the urban uprisings.” Even if the Pentagon's civilian leadership didn't anticipate an urban uprising (which should make you wonder what the hell they did anticipate) they clearly knew that a lack of armored vehicles was causing unnecessary casualties. According a recent analysis of combat deaths in Iraq, twenty percent of US casualties could have been prevented. Heads need to roll in the Pentagon. I’m sure the media will give this story the same attention they gave to the 1993 story, and those same Republicans who were so righteously indignant about Les Aspin will demand the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. Tony Blair gets mail. “Fifty-two former British diplomats yesterday delivered a damning critique of Tony Blair's close alliance with George Bush and their ‘doomed’ Middle East policy. The former diplomats, many of whom served as ambassadors in Israel, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other parts of the region, sent a joint letter to Downing Street. They told the prime minister they had ‘watched with deepening concern the policies which you have followed on the Arab-Israel problem and Iraq, in close cooperation with the United States’. They condemned a US strategy in Iraq they see as over-reliant on force. ‘Heavy weapons unsuited to the task in hand, inflammatory language, the current confrontations in Najaf and Falluja, all these have built up rather than isolated the opposition,’ they said. “ Head wounds. "'We're saving more people than should be saved, probably,' Lt. Col. Robert Carroll said. 'We're saving severely injured people. Legs. Eyes. Part of the brain.' Carroll, an eye surgeon from Waynesville, Mo., sat at his desk during a rare slow night last Wednesday and called up a digital photo on his laptop computer. The image was of a brain opened for surgery earlier that day, the skull neatly lifted away, most of the organ healthy and pink. But a thumb-sized section behind the ear was gray. 'See all that dark stuff? That's dead brain,' he said. 'That ain't gonna regenerate. And that's not uncommon. That's really not uncommon. We do craniotomies on average, lately, of one a day. We can save you," the surgeon said. 'You might not be what you were.'" Commentary Analysis: “U.S. troops bear a heavy burden in President Bush's global war on terror, a war that Army War College analyst Jeffrey Record in January said was ‘strategically unfocused, promised more than it can deliver, and threatens to dissipate U.S. military resources in an endless and hopeless search for absolute security.’” Editorial: “Lugar correctly blamed the nation’s deteriorating standing in Iraq and elsewhere on what he called deficient diplomacy by the Bush administration during a breakfast with reporters Monday. ‘It starts with the president and proceeds, really, through the Cabinet and those who are advising him,’ Lugar said. ‘Each administration has to determine which kind of tone it wants to establish in these matters, and that obviously starts with the president.’” Opinion: “The White House faces an insoluble dilemma: It cannot leave Iraq and it cannot stay. In chess this quandary is called ‘zugzwang,’ when it is your turn to move, but all possible moves will weaken your position. U.S. interests would be best served by admitting defeat and getting out now. For Bush and his clan this would be political suicide, however. and they don't seem like the kind of people who are willing to sacrifice their own ambitions for the common good. Bush will drag out the war, increasing U.S. troop strength in Iraq. This will lead to even greater loss of life on both sides, to animosity and the growth of Muslim radicalism. If Bush wins a second term in November, he will spend the next four years helplessly trying to cope with the problems he has created, and in the end his attempts will lead to catastrophe.” Casualty Reports Local story: Arkansas Guardsman killed in Iraq. Local story: Tennessee sailor killed in Iraq. Local story: New York sailor killed in Iraq. Local story: Oregon contractor killed in Iraq. 86-43-04. Pass it on.


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