Tuesday, February 15, 2005

War News for Tuesday, February 15, 2005 Part Two – The American Presence

On the bright side, I see we are still winning the war and I for one find it very encouraging that we are still winning the war and have been winning it for almost two years now and I expect we’ll win it once and for all just about any day now.

Sixty attacks a day: Intensified military raids in Iraq over the past few months have significantly battered the ranks of mid-level insurgents but have scored few gains against the 30 or so most wanted rebels, according to senior U.S. military officers here.

After a lull in the days after the Jan. 30 elections, insurgents have resumed bombings, suicide attacks and assassinations, an increasing share of them directed against Iraqi civilians and security forces. There are now an average of about 60 attacks each day, close to the rate before the elections, according to U.S. military tallies, and most remain concentrated in Sunni Muslim-populated provinces of central and northwestern Iraq.

Under the circumstances, military leaders here say, political compromise and power-sharing that emerge in coming months are likely to have as much to do with shaping the security environment as in shaping a new government and constitution. "The political outreach will have more impact on the insurgency than our military operations," one U.S. general said.

Like we can spare nurses from Walter Reed: Bad news, it looks like: about 35 nurses from different branches of the service now working at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, are being told they have 30 days to get their affairs in order. Next stop, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for about 5 weeks. Then it’s on to Iraq.

The exact destination in Iraq is not stated, but they’re being assigned to field hospitals. Whatever the destination, it’s serious enough that female nurses are getting buzz cuts.

The 35 or so nurses being shipped out are the equivalent of “one floor” of round-the-clock shifts at Walter Reed, all of whom have heavy-duty experience in the shock trauma unit or the burns ward. Apparently all or most of them, in other words, are experienced in trauma.

The Well-Informed American Public

Yes, we’re still being lied to: Training of Iraq's security forces, crucial to any exit strategy for Britain and the US, is going so badly that the Pentagon has stopped giving figures for the number of combat-ready indigenous troops, The Independent on Sunday has learned.

Instead, only figures for troops "on hand" are issued. The small number of soldiers, national guardsmen and police capable of operating against the country's bloody insurgency is concealed in an overall total of Iraqis in uniform, which includes raw recruits and police who have gone on duty after as little as three weeks' training. In some cases they have no weapons, body armour or even documents to show they are in the police.

The resulting confusion over numbers has allowed the US administration to claim that it is half-way to meeting the target of training almost 270,000 Iraqi forces, including around 52,000 troops and 135,000 Iraqi policemen. The reality, according to experts, is that there may be as few as 5,000 troops who could be considered combat ready.

This is pathetic. Not surprising, but pathetic: Most Americans guess wrong when asked to estimate how many troops have died in the U.S. occupation of Iraq, a sign that many are giving scant attention to the nation's most dangerous military operation since the Vietnam War.

Forty percent of people in the poll gave the correct answer when asked, to the nearest 500, how many have died in the six-week war and the bloody military occupation that followed. Thirty-two percent guessed that 1,000 or fewer have died, 21 percent said 2,000 or more have died and 7 percent could not make a guess.

Donald Rumsfeld, A Continuing Embarassment

This is pathetic too: U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who once described Europe's opponents to the war in Iraq as problems, sought to revoke the remark at a conference in Germany in an effort to improve trans-Atlantic ties.

Two months before U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq in March 2003, Rumsfeld had branded Germany and France as ``old Europe,'' citing persistent criticism of U.S. preparations for conflict by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and President Jacques Chirac.

``When I first mentioned that I might be traveling this week to France and Germany, it raised some eyebrows,'' Rumsfeld, 72, told a conference on security policy in Munich, Germany. ``One wag said that ought to be an interesting trip after all that has been said. I paused, thought for a moment, replied: `Oh, that was old Rumsfeld.'''

That crack was almost as funny as when Bush looked for WMDs under the cushions in the Oval Office. But on the balance we have to give the comedian kudos to George. After all, a joke that denigrates the sacrifice of hundreds of soldiers’ lives is a lot funnier than one that just trivializes decades-old alliances.



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