Monday, December 13, 2004

War News for Monday, December 13, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Thirteen Iraqis killed in car bombing near Green Zone in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Seven US Marines killed in two incidents in al-Anbar province. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi translator working for US forces assassinated in Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: British consulate in Basra mortared. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqis wounded by car bomb in Erbil. Bring ‘em on: Oil company security executive kidnapped near Samarra. Bring ‘em on: Air strikes, heavy fighting continue in Fallujah. Another $100 billion for Rummy’s planning failure. “Twenty-one months after U.S. forces entered Iraq, the Defense Department is only now coming to terms with the equipment shortages caused by the prolonged fighting there. The Pentagon has prepared an unprecedented emergency spending plan totaling nearly $100 billion -- as much as $30 billion more than expected as recently as October -- say senior defense officials and congressional budget aides. About $14 billion of that would go to repairing, replacing and upgrading an increasingly frayed arsenal.” But wait! There’s more! “Instead, it will be a scramble just to keep the troops in the field equipped. Depots are confronting four to five times more equipment wear than the Army anticipated, McCoy said. Meanwhile, the Army is also pressing forward with a huge reorganization to break down vast Army divisions into smaller modular brigades of 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers each. The Army hopes to create as many as 15 of those brigades by 2007, and they will need to be equipped by the depots and defense contractors as well.” Oil interdiction. “Mr Ghadbane said the number of attacks on oil pipelines jumped to 27 last month from only one or two in the beginning of the year. Six wells sabotaged last month in the Khabbaza oil field, 35km west of Kirkuk, were still on fire. One well sabotaged in the same field at the end of last year burned for 45 days and cost $2 million to extinguish. The fuel shortage has been made worse by attacks on truck drivers carrying imported oil and other petroleum products from neighbouring countries, causing at least one firm to cancel its contract to provide petrol.” Blackout. “Baghdad went dark late Sunday afternoon after fire broke out in a power plant north of the capital city. The power was still out three hours later. Only the Green Zone, where U.S. officials have their headquarters, and other places with their own generators, had power late Sunday. Witnesses in several other parts of the country including Basra to the south and Najaf to the southwest were also reporting blackouts.” Saddam. “A year after he was captured by U.S. troops, some of Saddam Hussein's old lieutenants have stirred up new interest in his fate by going on hunger strike over access to lawyers and fears of being handed over to Iraqis.” Suck it up. “Dr. John Caulfield thought it had to be a mistake when the Army asked him to return to active duty. After all, he's 70 years old and had already retired - twice. He left the Army in 1980 and private practice two years ago.” Suck it up. “So the Pentagon leadership has finally recognized that they need to armor up their trucks. But they've settled on a damn peculiar way of paying for the work. They're dipping into soldiers' paychecks to do it. Let me explain. For this fiscal year, 2005, Rummy & Co. asked for $25.7 million to secure its fleet of trucks. And Congress granted the request, when it passed the Pentagon's budget in July.” Commentary Special Rummy Edition Editorial: “In addition to lying, Mr. Rumsfeld fell back on the kind of hollow pronouncements he favors. ‘You go to war with the army you have,’ he intoned, ‘not the army you might want or wish to have.’ But the United States didn't have to go to war when we did. The Bush administration went to war with Iraq because powerful voices, with Mr. Rumsfeld's one of the loudest, insisted on it. If President Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld had wanted to go to war with a properly equipped army, they could have taken the time to build one. But being prepared would have required Mr. Rumsfeld and his advisers to consider that post-invasion Iraq could be deadly. That conflicted with their ideology, so off the troops went without armor that could protect them from the attacks that have killed so many.” Editorial: “Also apparently not true are the assurances President Bush had given just the day before to families of Marine casualties during a visit to Camp Pendleton, Calif. ‘We're doing everything we possibly can to protect your loved ones...’ There is still a critical shortage of armored-up Humvees and only a tiny percentage of the nearly 9,000 military transport trucks used to supply troops in Iraq are armored. Even the Humvees with added armor remain unprotected on the top and bottom, and the added weight of the armor reportedly has increased the stress on, and failure rate of, the vehicles' transmissions. The families of those risking their lives in Iraq ought not be reassured but enraged. This was a war of opportunity, not necessity, so there is no excuse for, as Rumsfeld put it, ‘going to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have.’” Editorial: “Sadly, the funding for medium truck add-on armor kits was $0 in 2004 and 2005 funding. The same can be said of heavy truck add-on armor kits. How many times does Rumsfeld have to prove his incompetence before he is relieved of his duty? The armor scandal is another in a line of foul-ups, including the torture scandals of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the underestimation of troops and the ongoing complaints from the troops. Quick answers seem to be in line for the problems. Troops should be provided with the equipment they need to survive. President George W. Bush should reprimand Rumsfeld if he does not have the guts to fire him. How many soldiers have to die because of executive mistakes?” Editorial: “Rumsfeld's answer might have been more appropriate if the United States were fighting a war of necessity in Iraq. But it's a war of choice, making it inexcusable that the administration would send young Americans to fight without all of the equipment they need to protect them.” Editorial: “A perfect instance of Bush's failure to field an adequate military could be seen in the failure to provide armor for military vehicles, largely based on an ideological misreading of what our troops would face in Iraq. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have mouthed the usual excuses: that they're doing all they can do. But as news stories have pointed out, they are not telling the truth. The company that produces the armor has been awaiting orders from the Pentagon, but the orders haven't come. The Bush administration has exploited the issues of Iraq and terrorism dishonestly to its political benefit. The Democrats now have the obligation and the opportunity to exploit the issue honestly, which will go a long way to making the nation actually safer.” Opinion:
“This issue of insufficiently equipped soldiers being sent into battle - and in insufficient numbers - was an issue John Kerry raised pointedly during the campaign. A leaked memo written by Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez in December 2003 informed top Army officials about a shortage of spare parts, lack of protective gear and poor readiness rates for Army weapons operating in Iraq. ‘I cannot continue to support sustained combat operations with (maintenance) rates this low,’ he wrote. ”In response to Kerry's attack about ‘mismanagement’ of the war, Bush largely ignored the Iraq issue and instead reminded voters of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. This fear factor helped win Bush the election and the American voters have only themselves to blame for Bush's mismanagement of the Iraq occupation and for Rumsfeld's callous contempt for the soldiers he sends into battle, possibly to die. ”This willful ignominy of the electorate recalls H. L. Mencken's observations 84 years ago. ‘When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental - men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. ... The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through. ... But when the field's nationwide ... then all the odds are on the man who is intrinsically the most devious and mediocre - the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind's a virtual vacuum. "’The presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts' desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.’ ”Mencken appeared to have seen it coming.”
Opinion: “Right now, two groups of Americans are keeping the war in Iraq from collapsing under the weight of its own inherent contradictions: voters, mostly supporters of President Bush, who refuse to question what U.S. soldiers are doing in Iraq, and the soldiers themselves.” Casualty Reports Local story: Michigan Marine wounded in Iraq. Local story: Michigan Marine wounded in Iraq.


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