War News for December 2, 2004
Bring ‘em on: Mortar rounds explode in Green Zone
One US soldier killed, four injured in vehicle accident in western Baghdad
Bring ‘em on: Ten insurgents killed, two police officers wounded in fight in Mosul
Bring ‘em on: Detroit Free Press
summary: One US soldier wounded in Mosul when US military group touring city to discuss election preparations came under RPG and small arms fire. Three people wounded in roadside bombing on Baghdad airport road in same place as Tuesday’s suicide bombing. Seven Iraqis wounded in suicide bombing near Latifiyah.
Bring ‘em on: AP story
covers some of the incidents listed above and additionally: Three Iraqi soldiers and two civilians wounded in gunfight in Samarra. Seven Iraqis wounded in suicide bombing in Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad (same attack listed as Latifiyah above?). Two hundred ten suspected militants arrested in joint US/British sweep south of Baghdad. One man injured when gunmen open fire on technicians repairing oil pipeline in Safrah area. Three Iraqi National Guardsmen wounded by a roadside bomb Wednesday in Kirkuk.
Breaking Their Backs
: "Seventy-one U.S. troops died in the November battle to retake the city of Fallouja, according to the top Marine commander in Iraq, a toll significantly higher than the previous count of 51 deaths. An additional 623 American troops were wounded, said Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, up from an injury count of 425 issued more than two weeks ago."
"Proclaiming the success of the operation, Sattler said that at least 1,200 insurgents had been killed. But among those neither captured nor killed were the city's best-known guerrilla leaders — Jordanian-born Abu Musab Zarqawi; Omar Hadid, Zarqawi's Iraqi lieutenant; and Abdullah Janabi, a Sunni Muslim cleric who headed the loosely governing Shura Council during the six months of insurgent control in Fallouja. "Would it have been nice to have killed or captured any of those three? Absolutely," Sattler said. "But we're still terrifically pleased…. Fallouja is no longer a terrorist sanctuary."
Some Bad News for Gen. Sattler
: "Iraqi rebels creeping back into Fallujah's secure zones: Marines at 1-3 Charlie Company's small toe-hold in the city, an abandoned school surrounded by sprawling homes in the largely affluent neighborhood, say they have been frustrated by rebels who appear beaten one day, only to turn up again another. But they also say with increasingly fewer marines -- several units have already left the city following the November attack -- there is virtually no way to keep rebels from taking up refuge in cleared buildings. "If you want to keep this place secured, you need a whole lot of bodies," said one marine corporal."
A Metric of Success
: "The U.S. military captured at least 15 portable surface-to-air missiles, capable of shooting down aircraft, dozens of mortar tubes and sophisticated anti-tank weapons among hundreds of weapons caches found in the Iraqi militant stronghold of Fallujah, according to a classified military report. The report said that one out of every two mosques in Fallujah were used to hide fighters or weapons caches during a recent offensive. Fallujah is called the city of mosques because it has at least 100 such religious facilities. “The amount of weapons was in no way just to protect a city,” said Maj. James West, a Marine intelligence officer. “There was enough to mount an insurgency across the country.”
Some Bad News for Maj. West
: "There are as many as 4,000 portable surface-to-air missiles missing — and possibly looted — in Iraq, U.S. military intelligence said. The missing missiles, which can be fired from the shoulder — one of which came close to downing an Israeli commercial airliner in 2002 — were part of Saddam Hussein's arsenal, according to an article in the Washington Post. The report has prompted U.S. military and intelligence analysts to sharply increase their estimate of the number of renegade missiles that have vanished to about 6,000 worldwide, the paper said quoting administration officials."
(Story from earlier this month but I couldn’t resist.)
Halfway to Shinseki
: "With the insurgency still a threat to Iraq's planned elections, the U.S. force is about to expand to its highest level of the war even higher than the initial invading force in March 2003. The force will grow from 138,000 today to about 150,000 by mid-January, the Pentagon said Wednesday. The expansion of the U.S. force also recalls assertions made by some Bush administration officials when the invasion was launched that although stabilizing the country would not be easy or cheap, it certainly would not require more U.S. troops than it took to topple Baghdad."
: Some Resist Call to Arms: "Parrish, a 31-year-old former Army officer, recently received a call-up letter ordering his return to active duty for deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan. Parrish attended college on an ROTC scholarship and served four years of his eight-year commitment leading a field-artillery unit. In December 2003, he resigned his commission. The Army, however, claims that it never accepted Parrish's resignation. When the Army ordered Parrish to report for active duty at Fort Sill, Okla., he filed a lawsuit in a North Carolina federal court. He believes that the Army call-up is not only unconscionable, but also politically motivated to avoid reinstituting a national draft. Presciently, Howell observed: ``They don't have any more reserves left, so we're it. All they want is some bodies to go to Iraq.''
"When the most patriotic among us turn apprehensive and voice skepticism about the fairness of selecting only certain Americans for body bags, we should all be given pause."
Too little, too late?:
"The U.S. State Department has described the airport road as one of the most dangerous routes in Iraq, and the British Embassy has banned its diplomats from using it because of the high risk of attack. The situation on the airport road has become a metaphor for the entire Iraq mission. More than 18 months after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the world's most powerful military cannot guarantee the safety of Iraqis, foreigners and its own troops who use one of the country's most important routes."
Technology to the rescue
: "Raytheon 'heat beam' weapon ready for Iraq: "It's there, it's ready,'' said Heal, who has felt the weapon's beam and compares it to having a hot iron placed on the skin. "It will likely be in Iraq in the next 12 months. They are very, very close.'' The weapon, mounted on a Humvee vehicle, projects a "focused, speed-of-light millimeter wave energy beam to induce an intolerable heating sensation,'' according to a U.S. Air Force fact sheet."
Run-up to vote underlines difficulty facing process in war-torn Iraq
"The bearded man in a white robe spoke politely but his parting words to Mohammed Abdullah, a grocer entrusted with distributing voter registration forms, carried a thinly veiled threat."
“Let the fear of God reside in your heart,” the man, who never identified himself, repeated twice to Abdullah before leaving. He had earlier tried to convince Abdullah that participating in Iraq’s January election violates Islamic law."
“I am not taking it and they can do whatever they please,” one customer, Mohammed Abdul-Rahman, shouted when Abdullah tried to hand him a form. “These elections will be held over the blood of the innocent people of Fallujah.”
Pentagon Propaganda Shop Lives On, 'L.A. Times' Reports
"The Pentagon in 2002 was forced to shutter its controversial Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) when it became known that the office planned to plant false news stories in the media. But now officials say that much of its mission, including using misinformation in the Iraq war and the war on terrorism, has been taken over by other offices within the government, the Los Angeles Times reported today."
"A senior defense official told the newspaper: “The movement of information has gone from the public affairs world to the psychological operations world," one senior defense official said. "What's at stake is the credibility of people in uniform.""
"A key recent development, according to the Times, was the decision by commanders in Iraq in mid-September to combine public affairs, psychological operations, and information operations into a "strategic communications" office. The paper obtained an organizational chart of the newly created office, which it said is run by Air Force Brig. Gen. Erv Lessel, who answers directly to Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq."
A disturbing take on the above story:
Did Bush lie about the Fallujah attack to influence the US election?
"In an LA Times story that notes that Bush lied when he said down two years ago that he'd closed down the Pentagon disinformation office, there's a very troubling paragraph:"
"It cited an incident on Oct. 14 when a Marine spokesman announced, via CNN, the start of the Fallujah offensive, which did not actually happen for another three weeks. The idea was to see in advance how the insurgents would respond. The Times referred to this as just one of the “psy-op” episodes so far."
"Putting aside the fact that the executive branch is now giving misinformation to the American media, there's a bigger problem here. Bush intentionally used the spooks to convince the American people that he was taking decisive action against the increasing turmoil in Fallujah less than 3 weeks before the US presidential election. Turns out Bush lied. He wasn't taking decisive action in Iraq. But we all thought he was. Was this done to trick the American people right before the election? To make them think Bush was taking care of the Iraq mess? Intent or not, that's clearly the effect the message would have - and even better, Bush's little attack had no casualties, because THERE WAS NO ATTACK. But we didn't know that, so Bush got kudos for no American troops getting killed, again helping him in the polls.That is incredibly disturbing news."
Here’s the actual LA Times story:
PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror
"Although most of the work remains classified, officials say that some of the ongoing efforts include having U.S. military spokesmen play a greater role in psychological operations in Iraq, as well as planting information with sources used by Arabic TV channels such as Al Jazeera to help influence the portrayal of the United States."
"Pentagon officials say Myers is worried that U.S. efforts in Iraq and in the broader campaign against terrorism could suffer if world audiences begin to question the honesty of statements from U.S. commanders and spokespeople."
"Yet some in the military argue that the efforts at better "strategic communication" sometimes cross the line into propaganda, citing some recent media briefings held in Iraq. During a Nov. 10 briefing by Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, reporters were shown a video of Iraqi troops saluting their flag and singing the Iraqi national anthem. "Pretty soon, we're going to have the 5 o'clock follies all over again, and it will take us another 30 years to restore our credibility," said a second senior Defense official, referring to the much-ridiculed daily media briefings in Saigon during the Vietnam War. According to several Pentagon officials, the strategic communications programs at the Defense Department are being coordinated by the office of the undersecretary of Defense for policy, Douglas J. Feith."
American Moral Authority
: “The administration's response to the Red Cross report was unsurprising. The military brushed off the Red Cross's complaints when they were made, just as it did at Abu Ghraib. Yesterday, Lawrence Di Rita, a spokesman for Mr. Rumsfeld, said the Red Cross had "their point of view," which was not shared by the Bush administration. The Red Cross's point of view, however, is reflected in the Geneva Conventions and in American law. The recent debate over prisoner abuse has not been brought to the courts, but the Supreme Court has ruled that Mr. Bush cannot suspend due process for prisoners of his choosing. The White House, the Pentagon and the Justice Department clearly have no intention of addressing the abuse. Indeed, Mr. Bush has nominated one of the architects of the administration's prisoner policy, the White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, to be attorney general. The general who set up the system at Guantánamo is now in charge of prisons in Iraq.”
The Human Cost
As two fall, soldiers see the cost of war
"Sitting a couple of men over on the bench of the Bradley was Bowden, whose father was in the 82nd Airborne Division and who grew up knowing he would join the Army as soon as he turned 18. His father later became a sheriff's deputy in Pike County, Pa., and his mother got a job at a factory."
"When people say that war is the most terrible thing, they ain't wrong," Bowden said. "The things it does to people. You think that killing people for your country is cool, but when you do, it just numbs you."
Unembedded: An Interview With Dahr Jamail
“Most Iraqis refer to the Iraqi resistance as "patriots." Which, of course, most of them are – they are, especially in Fallujah, primarily composed of people who simply are resisting the occupation of their country by a foreign power. They are people who have had family members killed, detained, tortured, and humiliated by the illegal occupiers of their shattered country.”
“Calling them "foreign terrorists" and "Ba'athist insurgents" is simply a lie. While there are small elements of these, they are distinctly different from the Iraqi resistance, who are now supported by, very conservatively at least 80% of the population here.”
: "Immune to evidence, the Bush administration is delusional and capable of horrendous miscalculation. The flowers with which the U.S. Department of Defense said our troops would be greeted in Iraq turned out to be bullets, rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bombs. On Nov. 22, the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, reported that its doctors have treated 20,802 U.S. troops from Iraq. Few of the injured have been able to return to their units. That is twice the casualty figure reported by the Pentagon and comprises 15 percent of the U.S. army in Iraq. In exchange, since the invasion, the United States has killed some 100,000 Iraqi civilians and perhaps 2,000 insurgents. The ultimate test of competence is the ability to admit mistakes. This the Bush administration cannot do. Steadfastly denying any mistake, Bush is promoting those responsible for the Iraq carnage to higher office. Will four more years of Bush terminate America's superpower status?"
: "There were claims after the battle for Fallujah that American marines, supported by Iraqi troops, had broken the back of the determined resistance. Certainly a large contingent of rebel fighters was erased. But away from Fallujah, the number of terror attacks has continued to grow, from 15-20 a day a year ago to 150 or more now. Parts of Iraq are far from sufficiently under control for the public to risk forming lines to vote. That would be an invitation to terrorists, who kill far more Iraqis than Americans on any given day."
: “Turkey is in a rather paradoxical situation as regards what to do and how to provide for the security of its truckers, contractors and workers -- at least for those who are left -- in Iraq. It can't send its troops to provide security for its people doing business there, nor can it take a firm and clear-cut position against the Iraqi resistance -- other than issuing messages of condemnation every time the remains of Turks murdered there are handed over to their families -- nor can it actively support the American troops trying to battle the insurgency.”
“The Turkish public and government are as well in a state of confusion. Are Iraqi insurgents -- bloodthirsty terrorists -- mercilessly beheading and shooting our truckers and torching our trucks, or are they freedom fighters trying to liberate their country from foreign occupation? Even Mehmet Elkatmis, the head of the Turkish Parliament's Human Rights Commission, was able to come up with a charge that "The U.S. administration is committing genocide ... in Iraq. Never in human history have such genocide and cruelty been witnessed. Such a genocide was never seen in the time of the pharaohs [of ancient Egypt], nor of Hitler nor of [Italy's fascist leader Benito] Mussolini."”
: "Understanding of the war in Iraq, like understanding of other wars, has changed over time - and the images we see of it play a vital role in that necessary process of re-evaluation. Very many who watched the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad's Firdaus square in April 2003 were hostile at the time - warning that while it was easy enough for the world's only superpower to overthrow a tinpot Arab dictator, it was wrong, illegal and dangerous to try to impose democracy on any other country."
: "When you are at war with someone else you are never suppose to sympathize with the “enemy.” You can’t think about how they too have a family, a job, hopes, aspirations, how they are just a simple human. Because of that, we only hear about our own men and woman maimed in war and never about innocent civilians, who happen to be Iraqi, who are killed daily. Since our government was aching to go to war, they might as well show us all sides of it, don’t you think?"
Local Story: Lufkin, LA,
wounded Marine comes home.
Local Story: Watervliet, NY
, soldier killed, another wounded in Iraq.
Local Story: Spencer, IA
, soldier killed in Humvee crash in Iraq.
Local Story: Warren, MI
, Marine killed in Anbar Province honored (scroll down).
Local Story: Three Iowa
soldiers killed in helicopter crash in Iraq memorialized.
Local Story: Winston-Salem, NC
, father dies in Anbar Province.
Local Story: Fairview Heights, MO
, soldier killed in Mosul.
Local Story: Manchester, NH
, Marine killed in Baghdad.