Tuesday, May 24, 2005
War News for Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Bring ‘em on: At least 15 civilians killed and at least 20 wounded, at least 8 critically, in double car bomb attack on a tribal gathering at a Sheik’s home in Tal Afar. The gathering was a celebration of the Sheik’s survival of an assassination attempt several days ago. (Note: This South African news story puts the death toll from this attack at 35 with 25 wounded.) At least two people killed and 22 injured, including 11 children, in bombing of Shiite mosque in Mahmudiya. More casualties may be trapped in the rubble.
Bring ‘em on: Six people killed, four wounded in car bombing near a junior high school for girls in Baghdad.
Bring ‘em on: At least two Iraqis killed and at least eight wounded in car bomb explosion targeting a police patrol in central
Bring ‘em on: At least 20 Iraqis holding key government, political or religious posts have been assassinated since the government was formed April 28. The article lists the dead.
Bring ‘em on: Three US soldiers killed in car bombing in central
Bring ‘em on: Bradley fighting vehicle destroyed by a bomb in Ramadi. Three
Bring ‘em on: Four US soldiers killed in bombing in Haswa. All were assigned to the 155th Brigade Combat Team, Second Marine Expeditionary Force.
Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed when gunmen shot him from a passing car. Location appears to be central
"Squeeze Play": Thousands of
At least 285 suspected insurgents had been detained since Sunday. Bystanders were also apparently caught up in the dragnet, however.
Some Iraqis said that while Operation Squeeze Play took some insurgents off the streets, it angered moderate Iraqis while giving insurgents a friendlier environment in which to carry out attacks.
Raad Mutlek, a Sunni Muslim, was sitting in a candy shop in
"They came here and detained people randomly," Mutlek said. "The families of the innocent people who have been detained will seek revenge."
Not enough boys: The U.S. military's plan to pacify
Just three battalions of Marines are stationed in the western part of the province, down from four a few months ago. Marine officials in western Al Anbar say that each of those battalions is smaller by one company than last year, meaning there are approximately 2,100 Marines there now, compared with about 3,600 last year.
(This article is well worth reading in its entirety. It clarifies the nature of the conflict the
Triangle of death: They have lived side by side for generations, but the small farming communities south of
As politicians in
The Shias can rightly claim to have taken the brunt of the sectarian violence, which began last year with bombing attacks in packed mosques during one of their main religious festivals. In recent weeks scores of Shia bodies have been discovered near the town of
Until recently the Shias did not respond to the provocation, appearing to heed their religious authorities, who said that retaliation could plunge the country into civil war and jeopardise their political victory in January’s elections.
Now Sunnis say that restraint has ended. Last week around 50 bodies of murdered Shias and Sunnis, including 15 Sunni Arabs with links to the Muslim Scholars’ Board, were dumped in
Susceptible to corruption and intimidation: According to the Pentagon, Iraqi forces -- police, army, border patrol and an independent oil-security force -- now total more than 150,000 men and women. Over the past several months, Pentagon officials have maintained that the Iraqi forces are steadily improving and growing in numbers -- and the top brass has talked up the prospect of drawing down
But the last month's eruption of insurgent violence has underscored the weaknesses of the nascent security forces and cast into doubt Pentagon plans to bring
Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top American officer in the Middle East, pointed in particular to the Iraqi police forces, who he said lack ''sophistication, chain of command, [and] cohesion of leadership," and are susceptible to corruption and intimidation. ''I don't know how much I would say time-wise they're behind, but they are behind,'' he said, according to the Associated Press.
Some outside military experts -- as well as numerous
"I would not expect to see a significant draw-down [of
Cat eaters: The warriors of
The troops on the front line of the campaign to crush the country's insurgency roared into action on the fringes of the "Sunni Triangle" recently in a convoy of pick-up trucks. The vehicles' speedometers rarely dipped below 80mph.
"We go fast, they not hit us. No need to be worried. Iraqi soldiers are very brave," boasted Capt Haidar, although not brave enough himself to give anything other than his first name. "I am special forces," he said. "To finish training we must catch a wild rabbit or cat with our hands, kill it with our hands and then eat it raw. I have eaten five cats. See how strong is the Iraqi soldier."
Catching, skinning and eating small mammals are the least of the skills that the captain and the men under his command must master if, as the
Landing more and more work on the Iraqis will require intensive training and many more unlikely partnerships such as the one between Capt Haidar and his commander, a veteran of Saddam Hussein's army.
It also puts
Goodbye forever: Evidence of how quickly and irretrievably a country can be stripped of its cultural heritage came with the
The latest figures, presented to the art crime conference yesterday by John Curtis of the
About 4,000 of the objects taken from the museum had been recovered in
Other artefacts have been retrieved from surrounding countries such as
Other items had been destroyed or stolen from enormously important archaeological sites such as those at
But the schools! We never mention the schools!: Since they arrived in January, many of the 3,000 National Guard troops from
"Every one of those kids greet us with smiles," Bentley said. "It's very rewarding to see that."
Hundreds of schoolhouses have been damaged by the war. Thousands of school children have been left with few school supplies.
The mission of helping rebuild the Iraqi school system is drawing help from relatives and friends of the troops back in Texas, where dozens of backpacks and school supplies have been collected and shipped to southern Iraq.
The troops have had to start from scratch. Dirt floors are common in many schoolhouses. Straw roofs cover several schools, providing little protection from the elements. Students are packed in classrooms with no chalkboards or desks.
But working with the Iraqi Ministry of Education and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the soldiers have helped oversee the construction of two primary schools in villages near the Tallil Air Base. One was in Alzebn and the other in Al Kenanah.
The ambassador, Imad Moustapha, said in the interview on Friday at the Syrian Embassy here that his country had, in the last 10 days, "severed all links" with the
Mr. Moustapha said he believed that the Bush administration had decided "to escalate the situation with Syria" despite steps the Syrians have taken against the insurgents in Iraq, and despite the withdrawal in recent weeks of Syrian troops from Lebanon, in response to international demands.
He said American complaints had been renewed since February, when a half-brother of Saddam Hussein, who was once the widely feared head of
"We thought, why should we continue to cooperate?" he said.
A step away:
When a Syrian lawyer complained to Shays that the
These problems center on the accusation that
Further stoking the flames, the
US Military News
TBI: Among surviving soldiers wounded in combat in
In the Vietnam War, by contrast, 12 to 14 percent of all combat casualties had a brain injury, and an additional 2 to 4 percent had a brain injury plus a lethal wound to the chest or abdomen, according to Ronald Bellamy, former editor of the Textbooks of Military Medicine, published by the Office of the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army. Bellamy said that because mortality from brain injuries among
Kevlar body armor and helmets are one reason for the high proportion of TBIs among soldiers wounded in the current conflicts. By effectively shielding the wearer from bullets and shrapnel, the protective gear has improved overall survival rates, and Kevlar helmets have reduced the frequency of penetrating head injuries. However, the helmets cannot completely protect the face, head, and neck, nor do they prevent the kind of closed brain injuries often produced by blasts. As insurgents continue to attack
Deserter: In March 2004, the Army had 318,533 soldiers deployed in
Joshua Despain was one of them.
At one time, he was just another soldier. Despain spent about a year in the Army with
Between October 2003 and April 2004, he was stationed at Habbaniyah Air Base, in a town that continues to be a hotbed of resistance in the perilous "Sunni Triangle." He fueled tanks and helicopters, pulled guard duty and manned a .50-caliber machine gun on convoys.
Despain didn't turn tail under fire, and his record includes several decorations. But while he was home on leave over Memorial Day weekend a year ago, and anticipating redeployment, Despain decided he wanted out.
Post-mortem custody battle: A bitter dispute between divorced parents over the final resting place for a son killed in
On Monday, Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Robert Yonts set an Oct. 3 trial date for Renee Amick, the mother of Army Staff Sgt. Jason Hendrix, who was buried last month in a plot next to his grandfather in
During the brief court hearing in
"The law is arbitrary in that it chooses one parent over the other but for all practical purposes it guarantees that it's the male in most cases," said David Cherry, communications director for Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., who's sponsoring legislation that would require soldiers to designate someone to handle funeral arrangements. Earlier this year, divorced parents clashed over whether to bury Lance Cpl. Nicholas H. Anderson, 19, who was killed in
Waiting for the worst: Families of Fort Lewis-based soldiers braced for the worst yesterday as the Army confirmed that three Stryker Brigade soldiers had been killed in
Names and specific units of the three, who died in two separate attacks, were not released while Army casualty officers sought out their next of kin. A fourth soldier was injured, according to U.S. Central Command officials.
A reporter from The News Tribune of Tacoma who is embedded with the unit in
As the wait continued, hands wrung with worry or clasped together in prayer yesterday, according to messages on the Stryker Brigade News Web site, a clearinghouse of information and support for families of the brigade, which began serving a yearlong tour of duty in
Women And Combat
No front lines: In Washington, the U.S. House of Representatives is considering legislation to prohibit women in the military from serving in direct ground combat roles. The debate has put the spotlight on a controversial issue in American society, what the role of women in the
The U.S. Army and Marines have both been using women in combat support roles since the start of the
Inappropriate and inopportune: Although there's persuasive evidence that the United States has too few boots on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is renewed interest in Congress in reducing the number further by restricting the service of women in combat zones.
As of yesterday, 240 women have been wounded, and a record 33 women are among the 1,636
That's distressing to New York Republican Rep. John M. McHugh, chairman of the House Armed Services military personnel subcommittee, who recently proposed that women be barred from certain Army combat support positions.
But others in Congress and in the Pentagon, understandably and rightfully, are unhappy about an inappropriate gesture at an inopportune moment -- a time when, for example, military recruiters, due to the unpopularity of the war in
Furious: Heather Wilson, a New Mexico Republican, is the only female military veteran in Congress, and on meeting her you might well guess at that background without being told. Third-generation Air Force and a member of the third class of female cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy,
It was Friday morning, a time when
"The people who are pushing this policy change intend to close positions, not open them," she said. "I think it's offensive. We've got women thousands of miles from home doing dangerous work and for the first time in history the Congress is going to pass a law restricting how the Army can assign its soldiers? But not all of its soldiers -- just women. What are they thinking?"
Instrument of war: The media, in the modern era, are indisputably an instrument of war. This is because winning modern wars is as much dependent on carrying domestic and international public opinion as it is on defeating the enemy on the battlefield. And it remains true regardless of the aspirations of many journalists to give an impartial and balanced assessment of conflict.
The experience of the
Today’s military commanders stand to gain more than ever before from controlling the media and shaping their output. The laws and conventions of war, however, do not adequately reflect the critical role that the media play in shaping the political outcome of conflicts. International humanitarian law requires that media members are afforded the rights of civilians; the question is whether this is sustainable when the exigencies of warfighting suggest that controlling the media is essential.
Bad PR: It was a damaging week for American public relations in the Arab world.
What started with deadly riots over allegations that US interrogators flushed the Koran ended with leaked photos of Saddam Hussein in his underwear.
To The New York Post, which first published the pictures on Friday along with its sister publication The Sun of Britain, the photographs were a chance to emphasis Mr. Hussein's crimes and indulge in public humiliation of the former strongman. The Sun and The Post say a
But for the most of the Arab press the pictures are being treated as a small piece in an overall pattern of alleged American violations of prisoners' rights. And as confirmation, to many, of
Cowards: A Washington Post article exposing the specific details of several pre-war doubts by Bush Administration aides and anlaysts in the lead-up to war ran on page A1 in the early Saturday editions of WaPo's Sunday paper. By Sunday morning, however, the story had its headlined softened and was subsequently buried on page A26.
The story, by WaPo staff writer Walter Pincus, details the doubts of the administration's own intelligence analysts concerning WMD, Munitions Plants and Saddam Hussein's Unmanned Aerial Vehicles program, all of which were widely trumpeted as justifications for going to war by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and others within the administration during the build-up to the War on Iraq.
Pincus' Page 1 item, which originally ran in Saturday afternoon editions of the Sunday paper and on the front page of the WaPo website was headlined "More Evidence of Bush Aide's Doubts on
The splendid Mr. Galloway: George Galloway plans to go on the attack once more over a US Senate Committee's accusation that he took oil money from Saddam Hussein.
The MP for Bethnal Green and Bow is now demanding to see the original Iraqi government documents on which the Committee based its allegations, after claiming he was handed nothing but a sheaf of US transcripts. He hopes to demolish the case against him by proving that the originals are forgeries.
Mr Galloway won many admirers on the American Left for his spirited performance before the
A good idea, now follow through: Senior American congressmen are considering sending a delegation to
By sending investigators to
“I deplore the fact that our media have been so reticent on the question of whether there was a secret planning of a war for which neither the Congress nor the American people had given permission,” Conyers said.
“We have The Sunday Times to thank for this very important activity. It reminds me of Watergate, which started off as a tiny little incident reported in The Washington Post. I think that the interest of many citizens is picking up.”
Opinion: President Bush said the other day that the world should see his administration's handling of the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison as a model of transparency and accountability. He said those responsible were being systematically punished, regardless of rank. It made for a nice Oval Office photo-op on a Friday morning. Unfortunately, none of it is true.
The administration has provided nothing remotely like a full and honest accounting of the extent of the abuses at American prison camps in
Comment: Many Americans who are shocked by the war in
The gamble this administration has taken in
The current illegitimate policy is intertwined with our government's huge investment in military power and its rejection of alternatives to the use of that power as the final arbiter of international problems. When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, and I would add that you and your hammer become a real danger to everyone, including yourself.
Local story: Three graduates of
Many thanks to alert reader go long into the day who provided many of today's links.