War News for September 13, 2004
Bring ‘em on: US troops in heavy fighting near Ramadi
; ten Iraqis killed, 40 wounded.
Bring ‘em on: Thirty-seven Iraqis killed in Baghdad
Bring ‘em on: Three Polish soldiers killed, three wounded in ambush near Hilla
Bring ‘em on: US troops launch offensive near Tal Afar
Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqi policemen killed, three wounded in ambush near Mosul
Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqi security guards wounded in attack on oil facility near Kirkuk
Bring ‘em on: Five Iraqis killed by car bomb targeting US convoy near Samarra
Bring ‘em on: Fifteen Iraqis killed in heavy fighting with US troops near Fallujah
Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi soldiers killed in roadside bomb ambush near Hilla
Bring ‘em on: US patrol attacked by roadside bomb near As-Sina
Bring ‘em on: Camp Zulu
under mortar fire.
Bring ‘em on: CJTF-7 reports US troops repelled coordinated attack on Abu Ghraib
begins. “Starting Saturday night, witnesses said, insurgents fired a series of mortar shells into the International Zone, a heavily fortified area in central Baghdad where the Iraqi government and the American Embassy are based. The area is often the target of mortar fire, but rarely has the bombardment been so persistent and intense. About a dozen rounds were fired into the area through the night, said Tahir Rahim, a Pakistani who works as a chef there.”
Curfew announced in Baghdad
General Conway sounds off
. “He echoed an argument made by many Iraqi politicians and American analysts -- that the U.S. attack further radicalized a restive city, leading many residents to support the insurgents. ‘When we were told to attack Fallujah, I think we certainly increased the level of animosity that existed,’ Conway said. He would not say where the order to attack originated, only that he received an order from his superior at the time, Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the overall commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. Some senior U.S. officials in Iraq have said the command originated in the White House. ‘We follow our orders,’ Conway said. ‘We had our say, and we understood the rationale, and we saluted smartly, and we went about the attack.’ The Marine assault on Fallujah in April ended abruptly after three days. Conway expressed displeasure at the order he received from Sanchez to cease offensive operations, a decision that culminated in the formation of the Fallujah Brigade. ‘When you order elements of a Marine division to attack a city, you really need to understand what the consequences of that are going to be and not perhaps vacillate in the middle of something like that,’ he said. ‘Once you commit, you got to stay committed.’”
. “Last night, the first 20 minutes of an hour-long national television debate were devoted to national security, terrorism and the question of whether Australia's support for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has made the country more of a target. Mr. Latham, leader of the Labour Party, called the Iraq conflict a poor use of resources that, he said, would have been better used in the campaign against Osama bin Laden and regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, which is blamed for the embassy attack. ‘I have no doubt that if all the time, the effort, the money, the resources that went into Iraq had been used to break up al-Qaeda, to smash JI, to find bin Laden, the world today would be a safer place. Australia would be safer and more secure.’ Mr. Howard said the decision to attack Iraq was the right one.” First Spain, now Australia. It’s clear that one of the most disastrous effects of Lieutenant AWOL’s war is the isolation of the United States from our natural allies among the world’s parliamentary democracies because an enraged electorate will vote out leaders who support American policy.
: “President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld still refuse to acknowledge the established facts of the case, much less respond to them. Investigations by the Army of itself have predictably stopped at the rank of colonel, while the CIA refuses to cooperate with any investigation but its own. The head of the outside panel picked by Rumsfeld to deflect calls for a more independent inquiry, James Schlesinger, spoke warmly of his "35 years of association" with him. Congress is controlled by a Republican leadership with no desire to challenge the White House and the Pentagon -- even if there were not an election fewer than 60 days away.”
Rant of the Day
I don’t think I’ve ever heard a flag officer publicly sound off about civilian decision-making during combat operations like LTG Conway. Clearly, this officer is angry.
LTG Conway’s comments are significant because of the implied criticism that the Bush administration made a foolish decision to attack Fallujah despite strong opposition from senior military officers in the field. “’We follow our orders,’ Conway said. ‘We had our say, and we understood the rationale, and we saluted smartly, and we went about the attack.’” This is the closest thing to a “told you so” I’ve ever heard from a flag officer and directed against civilian officials.
“‘When you order elements of a Marine division to attack a city, you really need to understand what the consequences of that are going to be and not perhaps vacillate in the middle of something like that,’ he said. ‘Once you commit, you got to stay committed.’” Translation: “You idiots don’t know jack shit about warfare.”
More significant is what LTG Conway didn’t
say. He didn’t directly mention where his orders originated, other than through his military chain of command, because as a serving officer he is forbidden by law and regulation from criticizing civilian officials. In the context of his original mission, to pacify Anbar province by working with local leaders to arrive at political solutions - which, by the way, is the doctrinally correct counterinsurgency strategy – it’s clear that LTG Conway chose his words carefully and his criticisms are aimed directly at the Bush administration.
“Conway arrived in Iraq in March pledging to accelerate reconstruction projects as a way to subdue Anbar province, dominated by Sunni Muslims. But on March 31 he was confronted in Fallujah with the killing of four U.S. security contractors, whose bodies were mutilated or burned by a celebrating mob. Conway said he resisted calls for revenge, and instead advocated targeted operations and continued engagement with municipal leaders.
"’We felt like we had a method that we wanted to apply to Fallujah: that we ought to probably let the situation settle before we appeared to be attacking out of revenge,’ he said in an interview with four journalists after the change-of-command ceremony. ‘Would our system have been better? Would we have been able to bring over the people of Fallujah with our methods? You'll never know that for sure, but at the time we certainly thought so.’”
There’s a clear implication here that LTG Conway believes the administration’s decision to attack Fallujah was motivated more by domestic US demands for revenge than by any desire to apply a long-term pacification strategy to Iraq.
"’When we were told to attack Fallujah, I think we certainly increased the level of animosity that existed,’ Conway said.” I hope Americans listen carefully to this officer. He’s telling us that the Bush administration is incapable of comprehending the consequences of their decisions, and his Marines are paying the price in blood.
86-43-04. Pass it on.