Tuesday, February 22, 2005
War News for Tuesday, February 22, 2005
There are some who, uh, feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: bring 'em on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation." - George W. Bush, July 2, 2003
Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqi special forces soldiers killed, 30 wounded in car bomb attack on their convoy outside of the Green Zone in Baghdad.
Bring ‘em on: One guerilla killed in attack on Shiite mosque in western
Bring ‘em on: One US Marine killed in Al Anbar province.
Bring ‘em on: Three US soldiers killed, eight wounded in Baghdad when a roadside bomb detonated near a helicopter carrying a medical team responding to a vehicle accident in which one US soldier was injured.
Bring ‘em on: Iraqi civilian killed near Al-Saqwaliya when two roadside bombs blew up after a
The Wolfowitz Metric
Apparently the new Iraq isn't a coalition member: The number of coalition military forces killed by hostile actions has declined significantly since
As of Monday, the 28 coalition forces killed from hostile fire or roadside bombs in February represented the lowest fatality rate since last March, according to iCasualties.org. The daily average of 1.33 soldiers killed in hostile actions after the election compares to 2.42 during the previous 10 months, based on Philadelphia Inquirer calculations.
Officials say Iraqi insurgents seem to be targeting Iraqi armed forces and civilians with greater frequency.
While the number of troops killed in hostile actions has declined recently, the coalition forces reported an increase in accidental deaths because of the large number of troops deploying into and out of the country at the same time. Not counting the 31 Marines and Navy personnel who were killed in a single helicopter crash on Jan. 26, the Army alone had 18 noncombat deaths in January, the second-highest monthly total since the war began.
It's ok, US casualties are down: Eight suicide bombers struck in quick succession Saturday in a wave of attacks that killed 55 people as Iraqi Shiites marched and lash themselves with chains in ritual mourning of the death of the founder of their Muslim sect 14 centuries ago. Ninety-one people have been killed in violence in the past two days.
For the second year running, insurgent attacks shattered the commemoration of Ashoura, the holiest day of the Shiite religious calendar, but the violence produced a significantly smaller death toll than the 181 killed in twin bombings in
The Saturday carnage was the deadliest of any day since last month's elections for a new national assembly in which the Shiite ticket, the United Iraqi Alliance, won 48 percent of the vote in
But they aren't American barbers, are they:
In what some describe as a Taliban-like effort to impose a militant Islamic aesthetic, extremists have been warning Iraqi barbers not to violate strict Islamic teachings by trimming or removing men's beards. Giving Western-style haircuts or removing hair in an "effeminate" manner, they say, are crimes punishable by death.
Since the threats began a little more than a month ago, at least eight barbers have been killed, and a dozen shops have been bombed, colleagues and police say.
And US hospitals are managing. No story here!: Overwhelmed by a daily influx of trauma cases from insurgent bombings and ambushes,
Just Friday, more than 50 Iraqis were brought to Yarmuk hospital following a string of suicide and other attacks on Shiite targets in and around
Yarmuk has no more than four to six ambulances available at any one time and just 13 surgical beds in its emergency department.
"Medicine is in short supply, the beds and equipment are old, and recently running water was cut for two days," said Doctor Hazem Ismail, struggling to make himself heard amid the screams of a man who suffered gunshot wounds during a robbery.
"When there is an attack, we move the other patients onto beds in the service corridor in order to free up an extra room. Sometimes, we even have to treat people on the floor," said another doctor.
Why aren't they attacking the export pipelines?: Insurgent attacks to disrupt
The new pattern, they say, shows that the insurgents have a deep understanding of the complex network of pipelines, power cables and reservoirs feeding
The shadowy insurgency is a fractured movement made up of distinct groups of Sunnis, Shiites and foreign fighters, some of them aligned and some not. But the shift in the attack patterns strongly suggests that some branch of the insurgency is carrying out a systematic plan to cripple
A new analysis by some of those officials shows that the choice of targets and the timing of sabotage attacks has evolved over the past several months, shifting from economic targets to become what amounts to a siege of the capital.
More War News
Fallujah the second: U.S. Marines and Iraqi troops set up checkpoints and imposed an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew on the rebellious city of
It was not clear if the troops of the 1st Marine expeditionary force and Iraqi soldiers, launching Operation River Blitz, would carry out a larger offensive on Ramadi, 110 km west of
Then, U.S. Marines battled for weeks to defeat insurgents, losing more than 100 men and killing an estimated several hundred militants, the
Our hope for the future:
"Its time for your morning duty. Wake up " he told an Iraqi soldier laying motionless under a blanket. "You can help us pick up the garbage and go back to sleep in an hour."
Since thousands of men deserted the army and security forces last year,
But three days with special forces last month in the former rebel town of
Prison riot: A bloody inmate riot three weeks ago at the biggest U.S.-run detention facility in
Four inmates died and six were injured in the uprising the morning of Jan. 31, the most deaths in a prison disturbance since
Howard breaks his word:
Prime Minister John Howard said the decision to deploy extra troops, to be based in
Perle’s crying now: Interim Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari was chosen Tuesday to be his Shiite ticket's candidate for prime minister after Ahmad Chalabi dropped his bid, senior alliance officials said.
Pressure from within the ranks of the winning United Iraqi Alliance forced the withdrawal of Chalabi, a one-time Pentagon favorite, said Hussein al-Moussai from the Shiite Political Council, an umbrella group for 38 Shiite parties.
“Unauthorized” “back channel” negotiations: While U.S. officials would not confirm the details of any specific meetings, sources in
Pentagon officials say the secret contacts with insurgent leaders are being conducted mainly by
Mullahs and Baathists: Militant Islamist groups that originated in Iraqi Kurdistan are responsible for most of the attacks now taking place in the northern insurgent stronghold of
The activities of Ansar al-Sunna and Ansar al-Islam, two jihadist groups with close ties, have recently overshadowed those of the nationalist insurgent cells in Mosul led by members of the former ruling Baath Party, the officials say. The nationalist fighters have quieted down since December, when the Americans increased the number of troops in
Defacto independence: Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Kurds have made known their determination to retain a degree of autonomy in the territory they have dominated for more than a decade. Now, after their strong performance in the elections last month, Kurdish leaders are for the first time spelling out specific demands.
From control of oil reserves to the retention of the Kurdish militia, the pesh merga, to full authority over taxation, the requested powers add up to an autonomy that is hard to distinguish from independence.
"The fact remains that we are two different nationalities in
Sunni perceptions: Battling the perception of many Sunnis that they will be mistreated is one of the toughest challenges for the new government, after a coalition of leading Shiite religious parties captured a slim majority of 140 seats in the new 275-member Iraqi assembly elected on January 30. A key moderating factor will be the Kurdish parties, which, with 75 seats, will be the deal-makers in the new government. They, along with Allawi's allies who won only 40 seats, will push a more secular vision.
For the first time,
But when de-Baathification was first introduced by the
Get over it, guys: President Bush appealed to Europe on Monday to move beyond animosities over
Bush did not rule out using military force in
Talk is cheap: Since the U.S. helped defeat fascism in World War II, then joined with Western Europeans in holding the line against communism, the greater goals of the alliance have overwhelmed differences.
But that Cold War bargain came tumbling down with the
As Bush arrives, the conciliatory mood music is loud. At a press conference last week, Bush went out of his way to say he cares about European concerns such as world hunger, disease and the environment. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice preceded him with a charm offensive of her own. But good intentions only go so far. The real test will be actions to bridge widening gaps.
Two Unrelated Stories
Negroponte: Congress might still have to confirm the full extent of his powers, but there is little doubt that John Negroponte’s new position in
Not only will he be in overall control of all 15 agencies involved in the war against terrorism but he will have unprecedented power in deciding and executing policy, allocating budgets and giving the authority for covert operations.
In appointing Negroponte, a career diplomat, Bush has brought a new and, to many, unwelcome twist to the
Torture: Americans, and the world, have become accustomed to accounts like Mustafa’s in connection with
US Military News
Suck it up, NG and Reserves: Older, further along in their careers and often with larger families than their active-duty peers, members of the National Guard and Reserve, experts say, have been especially affected by the demands of lengthy -- and in some cases repeated -- deployments to Iraq.
And while Pittman experienced an extreme scenario, thousands of soldiers are returning home and finding a range of difficulties -- from paperwork hassles to losing their homes and businesses -- as they try to fit back into civilian life. And officials are scrambling to solve that problem before tens of thousands more troops come home.
Suck it up some more: As America enters the third year of the
While part-time soldiers assume some risk of being called to active duty when they sign up, today they are serving tours far longer and more frequently than their counterparts in past wars.
"We've gone way over the top in the frequency and duration of deployments," said Robert F. Norton, a retired Army colonel and deputy director of government relations for the Military Officers Association of America. "Some of these units are on their second or third rotation."
Gee, who woulda thought: The active-duty Army is in danger of failing to meet its recruiting goals, and is beginning to suffer from manpower strains like those that have dropped the National Guard and Reserves below full strength, according to Army figures and interviews with senior officers.
For the first time since 2001, the Army began the fiscal year in October with only 18.4 percent of the year's target of 80,000 active-duty recruits already in the pipeline. That amounts to less than half of last year's figure and falls well below the Army's goal of 25 percent.
Driving the manpower crunch is the Army's goal of boosting the number of combat brigades needed to rotate into
Your tax dollars at work: Faced with a persistent demand for personnel in
Last month, the Pentagon said it would begin offering bonuses of up to $150,000 for long-serving Army, Air Force and Navy special operations troops who agree to stay in the military for up to six more years. The bonuses are the largest ever paid to enlisted troops. They reflect the difficulty in replacing highly valued troops such as Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs, whose training takes years and costs about $300,000 per person.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is using cash bonuses on an unprecedented scale to try to boost re-enlistments, recruiting and morale among active-duty and reservist troops. The bonuses come as the demands of three years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq have raised questions in Congress about whether the U.S. military has enough troops to fight two major wars simultaneously.
Better increase the defense budget: Swelling costs for military pay and benefits threaten the Pentagon's ability to acquire new weapons systems and may not always help in holding on to the most valuable soldiers, sailors and airmen, a new report concludes.
"If the U.S. military is to continue in coming decades to recruit and retain the quality personnel it needs, it may need to make some significant changes in the way it compensates and manages its personnel," according to the study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank.
And buy some dope while you're at it: American soldiers traumatised by fighting in
Scientists behind the trial in
(Link via SILT3. Thanks!)
An American hero:
Hersh won the magazine reporting prize for his Abu Ghraib stories 35 years after winning the Polk award for coverage of the My Lai massacre in
Editorial: Much of the $82 billion Mr. Bush sent to Congress last week as an emergency request should have been included in his regular budgets. In May, two months before Congress passed the current Pentagon budget, President Bush asked for a $25 billion supplemental. With the war clearly going way over budget, the administration still low-balled the 2004-05 budget.
For example, the new emergency request includes $5.7 billion to train and equip Iraqi troops, an increase of 10 times the amount sought in the 2004-05 budget. So the Pentagon is just figuring out that Iraqi troops haven't been properly trained?
The Washington Post, quoting Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., explains why the Bush administration prefers operating under the emergency label. "It removes from our oversight responsibilities," the senator said, "the scrutiny that these programs deserve." An example, noted in The New York Times, is $400 million for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to hand out, solely at her discretion, to countries that have helped in
The supplemental request does provide one fascinating insight: The insurgency has inflicted about $12 billion in damage on
Comment: President George W Bush arrived in
He wants more help from the Europeans in Iraq, Afghanistan, and probably in other places yet to be announced; European backing for American policy on Iran (and Syria and Israel/Palestine); and no European arms sales to China. Those are
His trip will fail because he and his administration do not understand what really divides most continental European governments from the
Opinion: So tell me again. What was this war about? In terms of the fight against terror, the war in
What is also dismaying is the way in which the administration has taken every opportunity since Sept. 11, 2001, to utilize the lofty language of freedom, democracy and the rule of law while secretly pursuing policies that are both unjust and profoundly inhumane. It is the policy of the
It may be that most Americans would prefer not to know about these practices, which are nothing less than malignant cells that are already spreading in the nation's soul. Denial is often the first response to the most painful realities. But most Americans also know what happens when a cancer is ignored.
Notification: When Army Lt. Col. Ken Leners pulls up in front of a house and steps out of his car -- every crease in his Class A uniform pressed sharp as steel -- he knows he is the last person people want to see coming up their sidewalk.
With a couple of brief sentences, the tall, soft-spoken Iowan will end the world they knew.
Leners, with the Army's 88th Regional Readiness Command based at
"It gets harder and harder and harder as it goes on," Leners said.
Gold Stars: They call themselves Gold Star Families for Peace. Organized less than two months ago, it is part support group and part activist organization, with members united by grief and the belief that their loved ones died in a war that did not have to happen. They represent a small percentage of the families that have lost someone in
The fallen soldiers' obituaries indicate that many of their families continue to support the war. But the Gold Star Families say they support the soldiers because their mission is to speak out to help bring them home and minimize the human cost of the war.
They worry that as the war verges on entering its third year, the public seems to be losing interest in it. When Sheehan tells people she lost a son in the war, she said, she is sometimes asked, "Which war?"
Another casualty: He never was inclined to talk much about the damage, at least not to his wife and children. They knew -- it was obvious -- that a land mine in
They knew that the single detonation in 1967 triggered ongoing waves of psychological temblors when
But they didn't know about the .45-caliber pistol. Or the suicide note in his laptop, written but never printed out, seven days before he used that pistol. In it, McLean, the popular rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church here, apologized to his wife, Betsy, and his children for not being stronger. The war in
He said he'd had enough.
Hunter S. Thompson