Saturday, March 19, 2005

War News for Saturday, March 19, 2005 Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi policemen killed, seven wounded in Kirkuk bombing. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed in Baghdad ambush. Bring ‘em on: US-funded Iraqi newspaper offices bombed in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: US convoy attacked by car bomb in Ramadi. Bring ‘em on: Fighting reported in Ramadi after insurgents attack municipal building. Bring ‘em on: Oil pipeline ablaze near Beiji. Bring ‘em on: US patrol ambushed by two car bombs near Haditha. Bring ‘em on: Turkish businessman assassinated near Dujail. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi soldier kidnapped near Tuz. Three Iraqi civilians killed in accident with US military vehicle near Tikrit. Things you don’t see in the US media. “Though US President George W Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have been giving the impression that the insurgency situation in Iraq is improving, the American Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), which monitors the situation daily, says it has worsened. ‘The insurgency in Iraq has grown in size and complexity over the past year. Attacks numbered approximately 25 per day one year ago,’ DIA Director Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby told the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington.” Rummy’s Army. “Two years after the United States launched a war in Iraq with a crushing display of power, a guerrilla conflict is grinding away at the resources of the U.S. military and casting uncertainty over the fitness of the all-volunteer force, according to senior military leaders, lawmakers and defense experts. The unexpectedly heavy demands of sustained ground combat are depleting military manpower and gear faster than they can be fully replenished. Shortfalls in recruiting and backlogs in needed equipment are taking a toll, and growing numbers of units have been broken apart or taxed by repeated deployments, particularly in the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. ‘What keeps me awake at night is, what will this all-volunteer force look like in 2007?’ Gen. Richard A. Cody, Army vice chief of staff, said at a Senate hearing this week. The Iraq war has also led to a drop in the overall readiness of U.S. ground forces to handle threats at home and abroad, forcing the Pentagon to accept new risks -- even as military planners prepare for a global anti-terrorism campaign that administration officials say could last for a generation.” No-go zones. “Nearly two years since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq, Baghdad is still one of the most dangerous cities in the world. It is ringed in peril. Travel in any direction a few miles outside city limits and the risks intensify. The ferocity and growth of these no-go zones underscores the need for additional Iraqi security forces in and around Baghdad as the US begins to reduce its manpower here. Because of kidnappings and murders on the road immediately south of Baghdad, that area has been dubbed the ‘triangle of death’ by journalists. The areas immediately north and west of the city that have long been called the Sunni triangle has also become shorthand for a no-go zone. While the term ‘triangle’ makes it seem as if the danger zone is a well defined area with borders, the frontier of danger around the city flexes and shifts almost daily, sometimes surging into the middle of Baghdad and at other times withdrawing to what feels like a safe distance. Fasal. “At the request of both parties, the FT put Mr Dulaimi's family and the security company in question in contact with each other. In these situations, the amount of compensation is decided on a case-by-case basis. The US military's standard payout is $2,500 - about two days' pay for a western ex-military security man, or two years' wages for a mid-level Iraqi civil servant. Many security companies (although not necessarily John's) use this as a base. ‘This is the price of an Iraqi citizen,’ snorted one Kerrada policeman in disgust. In fact, fasal - blood money - is often paid when an Iraqi kills an Iraqi, particularly in a rural area. Representatives of the victim's tribe will sit down with the killer's tr ibe and discuss among themselves the amount of compensation. In these disputes, $2,500 would be a fairly average payout. However, while Iraqis resign themselves to the tribal system of arbitration in the absence of a functioning judicial system, when foreigners get involved the process can become insulting. Tribal arbitration sessions are meetings of equals, often held in bedouin-style tents with all the pomp and circumstance of traditional Iraqi society. For a relative of an Iraqi shot by a foreigner to even find out whom to contact for compensation, he must often stand for hours outside the barbed wire of bases and police stations, endure intense questioning and weapons pat-downs. When the money is paid, it seems more like a token payout to make a problem go away.” Support the troops! “According to doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., 60 percent of the wounded soldiers coming back from Iraq have traumatic brain injuries. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has recently completely zeroed out funding for the Federal TBI Act, which provides exactly this kind of help.” Family values. “Tammy Burleson moved to Dallas last fall when her son was sent to the closest spinal cord injury center to Louisiana. By then, she'd already taken about two months off from her job at a center that works with mentally disabled people. Although she lost her $7-an-hour income, the center kept paying for her health insurance until early March. Now, she has no insurance, and caring for her son full time won't allow her to work again soon. Kristi was taking college classes in preparation for nursing school and planned to resume her studies next semester after taking some time off for the baby. Her plans changed as well, although if she returns to college someday she will receive financial help from the VA. As a 100 percent disabled veteran, Burleson will receive lifetime compensation and medical care from the VA. But the family struggles to cover other expenses. Friends, church and the community are trying to help.” Commentary Analysis: “But after two years in Iraq and Afghanistan, ‘now we have transformation defined as building more Army divisions, building more Marine divisions with lighter forces,’ Zinni said, adding: ‘Now we have a military that is malformed for the obligations thrown on it.’ Moreover, American society continues to have a complex and changing relationship with its military, he said. The relationship has gone from the ‘aura and glow of the greatest generation,’ which won World War II, to being blamed for the very confusing Vietnam War, to being ignored because it comprised professional fighters, not the citizen soldiers of decades past, Zinni said. ‘It seemed like some alien institution out there you didn't have to relate to,’ he said. But things have come full circle because citizen soldiers-National Guardsmen and reservists-are in the thick of fighting, which the media brings into American living rooms, Zinni said. Most Americans now respect the military even if they disagree with the political decision to go to war, he said. But magnetic yellow ribbons are not enough, the retired general said. ‘This is your military. This is your security; this is your protection. It is the image you project overseas,’ Zinni said. ‘You need to re-embrace that military. You need to demand that the military be the military you want.’” Link via Hairy Fish Nuts. Analysis: “At one of his rare news conferences this week, Bush was asked about a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops. He replied: ‘Our troops will come home when Iraq is capable of defending herself.’ He praised the Iraqi people for their bravery and determination to vote and form a democratic government; he said the future was in their hands; and he called the first meeting of the National Assembly ‘a bright moment in history.’ He did not talk about the fact that this was the week of the second anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. He did not talk about the mistakes and miscalculations that were made. He did not talk about these things because he wasn't asked."


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