Tuesday, January 04, 2005

War News for Tuesday, January 04, 2005 "There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: Bring 'em on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation." – George W. Bush, July 2003 Bring ‘em on: Governor of Baghdad province and six bodyguards killed by gunmen in Baghdad neighborhood of Hurriyah. Bring ‘em on: Six people killed and forty wounded in bombing attack on ING barracks in western Baghdad (picture caption says 10 dead and 50 wounded). Four people killed, 25 wounded in suicide bombing of Allawi’s National Accord Party headquarters. Suicide car bomber kills six ING soldiers and wounds 14 in Balad. Bring ‘em on: Six people killed, at least 40 wounded by truck bomb at entrance to Green Zone. Bring ‘em on: US Marine killed in Al-Anbar Province. Bring 'em on: Three US soldiers killed, two wounded in bombing in Baghdad. One US soldier killed and another wounded in bombing north of Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Four employees of risk-consulting company Kroll, Inc., killed by suicide bomber in Baghdad. Six ING soldiers killed by IED in Tikrit. Some Questions for our Freeper Friends Does this: Residents of the city of Fallouja, west of Baghdad, battered by a massive US onslaught against Sunnite Muslim rebels are being allowed to gradually return to their homes despite ongoing clashes with some pockets of insurgents. But the US military and the interim Iraqi government are having to confront the rage and despair of many returning residents and the few that lived through the massive assault in November and its aftermath. Most were returning to destroyed and looted homes in a city that resembles a disaster zone with no power, heat or running water. Some are finding bodies of relatives who stayed behind. A US marine conceded to journalists that in some cases they were forced to use “alternative means” like torching or bombing homes they believed were being used as sanctuaries for insurgents. “If we couldn’t get in there, we had to use alternative means”, said Sergeant John Cross. But an Iraqi soldier nearby admitted that in some cases Iraqi troops burnt homes if they found pro-insurgency literature or material. Relate to this?: The last six months of 2004 proved the deadliest period for US forces in Iraq despite the formal end of the US-led occupation in June, with a total of 503 soldiers killed, figures showed. Rather than deflating the insurgency, the first half year of Iraqi sovereignty under the US-backed interim government saw a surge in bloodshed. Observers says the violence testifies to the insurgency's staying power and evolution. "There is no question the growing death toll indicates a growing insurgency," Jorst Hiltermann, Middle East director of the International Crisis Group, told AFP. Does this: "There is only one traffic law in Ramadi these days: when Americans approach, Iraqis scatter. Horns blaring, brakes screaming, the midday traffic skids to the side of the road as a line of Humvee jeeps ferrying American marines rolls the wrong way up the main street. Every vehicle, that is, except one beat-up old taxi. Its elderly driver, flapping his outstretched hands, seems, amazingly, to be trying to turn the convoy back. Gun turrets swivel and lock on to him, as a hefty marine sargeant leaps into the road, levels an assault rifle at his turbanned head, and screams: 'Back this bitch up, motherfucker!' "The old man should have read the bilingual notices that American soldiers tack to their rear bumpers in Iraq: 'Keep 50m or deadly force will be applied.' In Ramadi, the capital of central Anbar province, where 17 suicide-bombs struck American forces during the month-long Muslim fast of Ramadan in the autumn, the marines are jumpy. Sometimes, they say, they fire on vehicles encroaching with 30 metres, sometimes they fire at 20 metres: 'If anyone gets too close to us we fucking waste them,' says a bullish lieutenant. 'It's kind of a shame, because it means we've killed a lot of innocent people.'" Relate to this?: The head of the Iraqi intelligence service has estimated that there are more than 200,000 active fighters and sympathisers in the war-torn country. "I think the resistance is bigger than the US military in Iraq. I think the resistance is more than 200,000 people," he added. Shahwani stopped short of saying that anti-US fighters were now taking control of the situation in Iraq, but warned: "I would say they aren't losing." Are elections going to fix it?: The Bush administration, already facing a relentless insurgency in Iraq, is preparing to confront what could be an equally daunting political challenge--the possible emergence from the Jan. 30 election of a pro-Iranian government dominated by Shiite fundamentalists. Such expected dominance at the polls, coupled with the widespread belief that many of Iraq's Sunni Muslims will not participate in the election, could spawn even greater violence by Sunni insurgents, who may gain more adherents if their longtime Shiite rivals assume power. Or Vietna…er, Iraqization?: Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top commander in Iraq, is reviewing a proposal to add hundreds of American military advisers to work directly with Iraqi units, whose disappointing performance could jeopardize the long-term exit strategy from Iraq, senior military officials said. Americans are training Iraqi police officers and national guard troops to replace them in securing the country, but the results overall have been troubling, with growing desertion rates, gaps in leadership, and poor battlefield performance, U.S. military officers and troops say. The advisers would bolster the Iraqi will to fight, help train officers who would lead the troops, curb desertion and provide Iraqi forces with the confidence that American units would back them up -- in some cases fighting alongside them if needed, military and Pentagon officials said. Well, at least we're taking out Al-Quaeda in its home...aren't we?: A Saudi-owned newspaper says the suicide bomber who staged the deadliest attack on an American installation in Iraq was Saudi Arabian. The attack last month at a U.S. mess hall in the northern city of Mosul killed 22 people. The newspaper said the assailant was a 20-year-old Saudi medical student. It cites unnamed friends of the man's father for the information. The friends say members of an Iraqi resistance group contacted the father to tell him his son was the suicide bomber. The father would only say his son had gone to Iraq to fight the Americans and had died there. Support the Troops! Grisly detail: Back home in Michigan, the men of F Company, 425th Infantry, Long Range Surveillance, Michigan Army National Guard, are heroes. But in Iraq, they call themselves “The Kings of the Damned.” The detailed, 22-page AAR sent to Pentagon planners by members of F Company describes the Michigan soldiers’ training experience in grisly detail, covering everything from the MOB to the poor quality of the barracks, mess halls, medical care, training facilities, equipment, gymnasium and transportation. In addition, the AAR describes the condition of the weapons provided, the amount of ammunition F Company soldiers expended in training, and the quality of the instruction provided by the reservists of the 91st Division, a non-combat training command filled with inexperienced reservists called up to train the war fighters for missions they themselves had never performed using weapons and tactics they had never used. The kindest thing said of them in the report is that they showed up for work most of the time. Reach out and **** someone: AT&T has set up exclusive calling centers in Iraq in an agreement with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which runs Army and Air Force post exchanges there. That means that GIs wanting to use the AT&T phone centers to call home must have either AT&T phone cards or cash, according to AT&T spokesman Bob Nersesian. Phone cards issued by any other company are "no good," he said. There is also no plan in effect to trade cards from other companies for reduced value, said Nersesian. "They're gouging the guys, and it's a shame," said McGinnis, who helps administer Operation Call Home, supported locally by the Semper Fi detachment of the Marine Corps League in Deptford and nationally by Valero Oil Refining Co. McGinnis' son Brian, a Marine sergeant, was killed in Iraq in March 2003. "They took over the whole market. How is that fair?" he said. "We're trying to find out what's going on." Suicides: The deaths of at least 17 troops in Iraq have been confirmed as suicides over the last seven months, according to a recent Associated Press review of Army casualty reports. Nearly all the suicides have occurred since May 1, 2003, when President George W. Bush prematurely declared that "major fighting has ended." The real number of suicides could be significantly higher. More than 500 soldiers have recently been evacuated from Iraq for mental-health reasons. The Army has sent a team of mental-health specialists to Iraq to assess what is perceived as a growing problem of both depression and suicide. War is almost never as neat and tidy as in movies. It's a demanding business that requires sacrifice, commitment and courage. And, despite the patriotic pabulum that gets pumped out by a cheerleading administration and the pliant media, armed conflicts are seldom popular among those who risk their lives fighting them. But too many of our troops appear to be especially ambivalent about this ambiguous war. And there doesn't seem to be much the Pentagon or the president is willing or able to do to change that. Baghdad Burning Blog Riverbend: The elections are set for the 29th. It's an interesting situation. The different sects and factions just can't seem to agree. Sunni Arabs are going to boycott elections. It's not about religion or fatwas or any of that so much as the principle of holding elections while you are under occupation. People don't really sense that this is the first stepping stone to democracy as western media is implying. Many people sense that this is just the final act of a really bad play. It's the tying of the ribbon on the "democracy parcel" we've been handed. It's being stuck with an occupation government that has been labeled 'legitimate' through elections. We're being bombarded with cute Iraqi commercials of happy Iraqi families preparing to vote. Signs and billboards remind us that the elections are getting closer... Can you just imagine what our history books are going to look like 20 years from now? "The first democratic elections were held in Iraq on January 29, 2005 under the ever-watchful collective eye of the occupation forces, headed by the United States of America. Troops in tanks watched as swarms of warm, fuzzy Iraqis headed for the ballot boxes to select one of the American-approved candidates..." The Human Cost Eleven years old: An Iraqi boy who lost both legs to a bomb blast near his home in Iraq has arrived in Akron for medical care and prosthetic legs. Eleven-year-old Majid Fadhil Sabor will require surgery to remove bone shards below his knees that would otherwise make wearing prosthetic limbs painful, Dr. Paul Fleissner said Monday after the boy's first doctor visit at the Crystal Clinic. Majid's limbs are severed just below each knee. "His bones will keep growing as long as he does,'' Fleissner said, "so we're concerned that growth can come through the skin.'' Marriage problems: When Sgt. Jose Bermudez returned from Iraq, he came home to a new baby and a troubled marriage. "We were on the brink of divorce," his wife, Mandy, said as the couple ate lunch recently with their three children, all under age 3. The Bermudezes are among 300 couples with the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, Ky., who have attended "marriage enrichment" seminars put on by the Army in hopes of saving war-ravaged relationships. With studies showing divorce rates as high as 21 percent among couples where one spouse has been sent off to war, the Army is spending $2 million on various marriage programs, including vouchers for getaways. Sergeant Bermudez, 26, said it seemed as if everyone he knew at Fort Campbell was either getting a divorce or contemplating one. Many couples want to get things decided because the division has been alerted it could return to Iraq as early as midyear. Another Bush success story: Adnan Hamad, the coach of Iraq's national soccer team, had a change of fortune and a change of heart. Consequently, the man who guided the squad to the Olympic semifinals and to the Asian Cup quarterfinals has quit three weeks after being named Asian coach of the year. "I have just received a call that my home was destroyed,'' he said, "and I guess this situation is very hard for me. As for the future, I guess that I will have a break. I will surely continue my coaching career.'' Commentary Comment: The objections to a U.S. withdrawal are not persuasive. First, we are told that the coming elections are a turning point. We've been told that before. The death of Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, was supposed to be a turning point. The capture of Saddam himself was supposed to be a turning point. The transfer of power at the end of June was supposed to be a turning point. The taking back of Fallujah was supposed to be a turning point. The only turning point will be when the United States turns around and leaves. Second, we are told that if we leave, there may be a civil war in Iraq. But there is essentially a civil war going on right now. And the CIA predicts that by staying in Iraq, the United States may precipitate an all-out civil war. So why should we stay to prevent a civil war that we are creating? Third, we are told that if we leave, we will be helping al-Qaida. But it is unlikely that al-Qaida will take over Iraq, since the country has a Shiite majority, and al-Qaida is a Sunni-based movement. However, by staying in Iraq, we are helping al-Qaida to recruit more fanatics who are opposed to a U.S. occupation. The pictures of Abu Ghraib and the pictures of the United States' leveling of Fallujah run in an endless loop on television outlets in the Arab and Muslim world, inflaming hatred against the United States among a new generation. Some of these people will join up with al-Qaida, which is now 18,000 strong, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. Editorial: As the new Congress convenes today, the nation would welcome a new attitude toward the Iraq War, one that has lawmakers demanding answers from the Bush administration, rather than settling for evasion and dismissing hard questions as unpatriotic. With polls showing that a majority of Americans don't believe the war has been worth the cost in lives and dollars, lawmakers have an obligation to show the public how U.S. policies will bring the war to something resembling a successful resolution — and when. Admittedly, it is hard to explain how to do what no one knows how to do. Lawmakers, though, have created this problem. They spent too little time in 2002 debating the use-of-force resolution. Since then, the administration has carried on a war it doesn't know how to end, while Congress has let the conflict go on and the bill go up. Neither President Bush nor Republican congressional leaders have held anyone accountable for the many mistakes of 2003 and 2004. Opinion: President Bush tells us that his "War On Terror" is like World War II, a confrontation between good and evil. One difference is that in World War II, President Bush's father volunteered for military service, and pulled strings to get a combat post. Congressmen resigned to join the Army. The entire roster of the Green Bay Packers enlisted en masse. Today, the idea of one of President Bush's daughters volunteering for military service is unreal. America's blue-collar children are fighting this dirty little war with no end in sight. The children of congressmen are not fighting in Iraq. They are at home in comfort, while the war grinds on. Casualty Reports Local story: Passaic County, NJ, Marine killed in Hadithah. Local story: West Milford, NJ, Marine killed in Al Anbar province. Local story: Thousand Oaks, CA, Marine dies in vehicle accident one week before beginning third deployment to Iraq. Local story: Pullman, OR, soldier killed in Baghdad. Press release: BearingPoint, Inc., regrets the death of an employee in Baghdad bombing. Local story: Phoenix, AZ, Marine killed in Hadithah. Local story: Loyal, WI, soldier killed by roadside bomb in Iraq. Local story: Buffalo, NY, soldier killed in Baghdad and Passaic County, NJ, Marine killed in Al Anbar province. Local story: Stafford County, VA, soldier recovers from severe blast injuries suffered in Mosul bombing. .


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