Friday, December 17, 2004

War News for Friday, December 17, 2004 Bring ‘em on: One US Marine killed in action in al-Anbar province. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier wounded, tank destroyed by roadside bomb near Beiji. Bring ‘em on: Three ING soldiers killed in ambush near Abu Ghraib. Bring ‘em on: Three security contractors, one foreigner killed in Baghdad ambush. Bring ‘em on: Insurgents execute Italian hostage near Ramadi. Bring ‘em on: Three Kurds killed in mortar attack on refugee camp near Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: Australian troops under RPG fire in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Three “foreigners” and Iraqi driver killed in Mosul ambush. Sadr City. “But nearly two years on, many Iraqis say, the occupation has become more than a simple ledger of tasks completed. The American experience has become like the three-inch bulletproof windshield of a Humvee -- the U.S. military can gaze through the glass while not always hearing what's being said in the streets. In Sadr City, even in neighborhoods clouded with the acrid haze of newly laid asphalt, words of appreciation are often clouded with lingering suspicions. The disenchantment is so deep in some places that it leaves a question most U.S. officials prefer not to address: Is the battle for hearts and minds already lost?” Ramadi. “Lacking partners of any sort, American soldiers try to learn about the influence of tribal and religious authorities in the city as they conduct hundreds of house searches. In this hostile environment, the battalion lives in a kind of fortified bubble, the daily target of somewhat inaccurate mortar fire and victim of random harassment as soon as they leave their compound. ‘Everything we use... is brought from the outside, and we burn all our trash,’ said Snook. Even shower water is brought in, and drinking water comes all the way from Saudi Arabia. Electricity comes from generators. As for using local manpower to look after the base, that seems to be out of the question.” Rummy’s Army. “In the latest signs of strains on the military from the war in Iraq, the Army National Guard announced on Thursday that it had fallen 30 percent below its recruiting goals in the last two months and would offer new incentives, including enlistment bonuses of up to $15,000. In addition, the head of the National Guard Bureau, Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, said on Thursday that he needed $20 billion to replace arms and equipment destroyed in Iraq and Afghanistan or left there for other Army and Air Guard units to use, so that returning reservists will have enough equipment to deal with emergencies at home.” Mercenaries. Recruiters working for U.S. contractors are hiring former Colombian soldiers -- and luring away active-duty ones -- for security jobs in Iraq, according to a former army officer who met with the recruiters. Colombia is a member of President Bush's ‘coalition of the willing’ in Iraq, although it hasn't sent any troops. Its troops instead are battling a 40-year-old Marxist insurgency with U.S. aid on its own turf. But now, instead of Colombian troops on the ground in Iraq, former Colombian soldiers are going as contractors -- and earning up to $8,000 monthly.” Morale indicator. “A U.S. Army combat veteran on leave from a unit headed back to Iraq arranged for a friend to shoot him in the leg in an attempt to avoid returning to the war zone, Philadelphia police said yesterday.” Anticipating problems. “Two doctors who are back in the Black Hills after serving in Iraq are keeping an eye on their fellow returning soldiers' well-being. Ashok Kumar and Kenneth Peterson want to see if Army and South Dakota National Guard personnel are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with similar physical or mental issues.” Surgeon shortage. “The war in Iraq could have more doctors on call. U.S. Army medical teams are dealing with the largest number of casualties since the Vietnam War. Some people say more surgeons are needed. Dr. Tom Carmody is a heart surgeon at Luther Midelfort. He was in Iraq when the war first started and could be called up again. He says surgeons are needed now more than ever in Iraq.” Commentary Opinion: “By anyone's standards, terrible things are happening in Iraq, and no amount of self-congratulation in Washington can take the edge off the horror being endured by American troops or the unrelenting agony of the Iraqi people. The disconnect between the White House's fantasyland and the world of war in Iraq could hardly have been illustrated more starkly than by a pair of front-page articles in The New York Times on Dec. 10. The story at the top of the page carried the headline: ‘It's Inauguration Time Again, and Access Still Has Its Price - $250,000 Buys Lunch With President and More.’ The headline on the story beneath it said: ‘Armor Scarce for Heavy Trucks Transporting U.S. Cargo in Iraq.’” Letters to the Editor: “To the Editor: I have only one quibble with your fine article: as an Army psychiatrist working daily with soldiers recently returned from Iraq, I assure you that the flood is not ‘in the offing,’ as your headline says; the flood is here.” Opinion: “At Fantasy Island on the Potomac, nothing matters so much as the illusion of truth. In awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to his Three Stooges, Mr. Bush praised the men ‘whose efforts have made our country more secure and advanced the cause of human liberty.’ Which is why the country is on heightened alert for terrorist threats at home, exacerbated by botched American imperialism in Iraq. The illusion continues.” Casualty Reports Local story: Colorado Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Florida Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: California Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Minnesota Marine wounded in Iraq. Local story: Alabama Marine wounded in Iraq. Local story: Pennsylvania contractor killed in Iraq. Local story: West Virginia contractor killed in Iraq. Awards and Decorations Local story: Tennessee soldier decorated for valor in Iraq.


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