Sunday, August 22, 2004

War News for August 22, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Heavy fighting resumes in Najaf. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi killed, two wounded in attempted assassination of Iraqi official near Tall Afar. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi soldier killed, five wounded by roadside bomb near Mosul. Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqis killed, deputy governor wounded by car bomb near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Explosions, smoke plumes reported near Green Zone in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Two Polish soldiers killed in ambush near Hilla. Bring ‘em on: Pipeline ablaze near Basra. Bring ‘em on: Seven Polish soldiers wounded by mortar fire near Karbala. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi intelligence officer killed in Basra. Getting a grip on the obvious. "If there has been one message written in all that the insurgents have done, whether Sunnis or Shiites, these Iraqis say, it is a rejection of the very idea that Iraq's future can be chosen under an American military umbrella - more broadly, of the idea that America and its notions should have any place in reshaping Iraq at all. When they were done with their spinning, senior Western officials who briefed reporters on the developments in Najaf seemed to agree. Najaf, one said bluntly, represented as crucial a juncture as America has faced in Iraq: one from which Iraq could proceed, with the emasculation of Mr. Sadr's rebellion, to a new period in which Iraqi politicians, not gunmen, could begin to set the country's agenda; or, conversely, if the government became resigned to leaving Mr. Sadr's militia still rooted in the city, to a further slide into chaos. If the government takes a hit in Najaf, it would encourage the various armed groups to stand up and say, 'O.K., Najaf belongs to us,' 'Falluja belongs to us,' 'Ramadi belongs to us,' 'Samarra belongs to us,' the official said. In that case, he said, what would be left would not be a country with an accepted constitution and elections, but a ‘Lebanon-ization,’ a fracturing into separate, warlord-ruled fiefs, with the gun supplanting the rule of law.” The aftermath of April 6, 2004. Collateral damage. “Rasul shares his hospital room with another civilian casualty of the 16-month insurgency: Anmar Khalid, 8, who has hazel eyes and wispy blond hair. She was napping beside her mother, Suzan Adnan Latif, 34, at home on Monday at 4 p.m. when, relatives say, a rocket fired from an American plane or helicopter gunship pierced the lone window. But there are so many explosions one could never be sure how it really happened. ‘She doesn't know her mother is dead,’ whispered Anmar's aunt, Hadia Latif Mohammed, 48. Nor does Anmar's father, Khalid Raheem, 36, a photographer, who was critically wounded and lost an eye.” The Fallujah solution. "Sulaiman's death in large part ended the Regiment's restraint around the city. The Marines have invested so much time, energy and passion into training the two battalions of Iraqi National guards that were headquartered in and around the town. The enemy surrounded the two battalion headquarters and threatened to destroy them in total. They lured Sulaiman out with promises that they just wanted to talk and that if he exited, he could spare his men. Long story short, immediately after the commanders left their headquarters with the insurgents, the enemy poured into the buildings and beat the soldiers. After a beating, they chased the soldiers out of the headquarters and proceeded to steal all the weapons and ammunition that we had provided and loot all of the garrison property (trucks, TVs, air conditioners, etc...) that we had purchased to stand up the force. The weapons, ammunition and vehicles were taken and are now in the hands of the enemy. The garrison property was sold in the street. The leading insurgent and leading imam (go figure that) then declared that "the Iraqi National Guard no longer exists in Falluja" and that any soldiers seen in uniform should be killed. This same guy controls the Falluja Brigade as well as other insurgents inside the town.” I received this item in reader email. The writer of the article is a Marine officer serving near Fallujah. Coalition of the Wobbly. “Poland wants to pull out of Iraq as soon as possible, Defence Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski said on Sunday as he arrived at a Polish military base in southern Iraq, the PAP news agency reported. Szmajdzinski left Warsaw for Iraq overnight Saturday, on a mission to assess the political and military situation in the area under Polish command, his office said in a statement.” Send it FEDEX. “British Prime Minister Tony Blair is refusing to fly to the United States to receive a medal bestowed on him by the nation for his support over last year's Iraq war, a London newspaper reported on Sunday. US President George W Bush has put huge pressure on his closest ally to pick up the Congressional Medal of Honor in person, the Sunday Mirror said, quoting a senior British government source.” Commentary Editorial: “But Col. Dana J.H. Pittard, who commands the combat team overseeing Capt. Estrada's unit, angrily labeled the article as "aiding the enemy" and, as first reported in the Army Times, summarily transferred him to a remote post near the Iranian border, thereby denying him a scheduled leave and forcing him to postpone his wedding. What a mistake. It's true that soldiers don't have the free speech rights civilians do -- they can't release confidential information or personally attack senior military leaders, which would harm the ability of the team to do its work. But Capt. Estrada wasn't doing those things; rather, he was raising legitimate questions, and his article did nothing to aid the enemy. He cleared his article with his immediate commanding officer before it was published. An Army spokesman says he should have known to get approval from a public affairs officer too. But soldiers have been encouraged by commanders to send letters to their hometown newspapers about how successful they are in rebuilding and how they're welcomed by smiling children; surely, then, it should be appropriate to send newspapers letters about possible flaws in U.S. strategy.” In the aftermath of the Plame affair, it’s reasonable to suspect that both CPT Estrada’s and CPT Josh Rushing’s punishments originated at a level much higher than an obscure colonel. Analysis: “Watching the gallant but doomed charge of the British light cavalry brigade against the Russian guns at Balaclava during the Crimean War, French Gen. Pierre Bosquet commented acidly, ‘It's magnificent, but it isn't war.’ The same might be said of recent military operations in Iraq. Observing them, Americans might be pardoned for wondering just what we think we're doing. One week our troops are clearing Fallujah of Baathist insurgents. The next week they aren't. A month later they're clearing Najaf of Shiite insur- gents. Then, a few days later, they aren't. Meanwhile, casualties and insurgents alike multiply. Somewhere behind all this, there must be some coherent strategic intention, but for most of us it isn't easily visible. As far as we are able to judge, the war in Iraq has become a sort of military perpetual motion machine, producing plenty of activity but not much evidence of progress.” Casualty Reports Local story: Ohio Guardsman killed in Iraq. Local story: Oregon Guardsman wounded in Iraq. Local story: North Dakota Guardsman wounded in Iraq. Local story: Indiana Marine wounded in Iraq. Local story: Alabama soldier wounded in Iraq. 86-43-04. Pass it on.


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