War News for Friday, June 10, 2005
Bring 'em on: Five US soldiers wounded by car bomb near Beiji
Bring 'em on: Two senior Iraqi police officers assassinated in Kirkuk
Bring 'em on: Senior police officer assassinated in Basra
Bring 'em on: Kirkuk
police chief escapes assassination attempt.
Bring 'em on: Sixteen Iraqis executed by insurgents near Qaim
Bring 'em on: Oil pipeline near Beiji
Bring 'em on: Convoy carrying US supplies ambushed near Khaldiyah
; "unspecified" casualties reported.
Sunnis offered seats on Iraqi constitutional committee
three point plan. "The ongoing post-war-Iraq plan is not working. When the US administration stops lying to their people, they’ll start searching seriously for an “Exit Plan”. The US administration and other governments that took or still taking a part of the collapsing coalition should adopt a three-point Iraq Roadmap to stop the on going crisis from their side and guarantee the safety of their troops, and give the space for Iraqis to work on healing Iraq from their side too."
MG Taluto didn't get the GOP talking points
. Major General Joseph Taluto said he could understand why some ordinary people would take up arms against the US military because 'they're offended by our presence.' In an interview with Gulf News, he said: 'If a good, honest person feels having all these Humvees driving on the road, having us moving people out of the way, having us patrol the streets, having car bombs going off, you can understand how they could [want to fight us].' General Taluto, head of the US 42nd Infantry Division which covers key trouble spots, including Baquba and Samarra, also said some Iraqis not involved in fighting did support insurgents who avoided hurting civilians."
Training the Iraqi Army
An hour before dawn, the sky still clouded by a dust storm, the soldiers of the Iraqi army's Charlie Company began their mission with a ballad to ousted president Saddam Hussein. "We have lived in humiliation since you left," one sang in Arabic, out of earshot of his U.S. counterparts. "We had hoped to spend our life with you."
But the Iraqi soldiers had no clue where they were going. They shrugged their shoulders when asked what they would do. The U.S. military had billed the mission as pivotal in the Iraqis' progress as a fighting force but had kept the destination and objectives secret out of fear the Iraqis would leak the information to insurgents.
"We can't tell these guys about a lot of this stuff, because we're not really sure who's good and who isn't," said Rick McGovern, a tough-talking 37-year-old platoon sergeant from Hershey, Pa., who heads the military training for Charlie Company.
The reconstruction of Iraq's security forces is the prerequisite for an American withdrawal from Iraq. But as the Bush administration extols the continuing progress of the new Iraqi army, the project in Baiji, a desolate oil town at a strategic crossroads in northern Iraq, demonstrates the immense challenges of building an army from scratch in the middle of a bloody insurgency.
Raid in Tikrit
Acting on a tip that insurgents lived in the neighborhood, Wood's unit had planned this raid the previous night before watching a double feature of "Kill Bill" and "Kill Bill II" on a large flat-screen TV in the spacious command center at his battalion's base in Tikrit. At 4:30 Thursday morning, headlights off, American and Iraqi soldiers rolled into the dark streets in armored humvees and pickup trucks and fanned out silently, unfurling coils of concertina wire to seal off the area. "We don't have any specific houses. We don't have any specific names," Wood said. "But we usually catch some people in these raids."
As Wood, 41, trained his rifle on the black-and-white metal gate, his soldiers broke down the padlock on the gate, crossed the tiled yard where men's dishdashas and women's dresses hung on a clothesline above a small vegetable garden and rapped on the front door. A barefoot, burly man with a stunned expression on his face opened the door and let them in.
The soldiers rushed past a pair of yellow parakeets sitting in a cage by the front door and entered a dark living room saturated with the warm smell of sleeping bodies. The rays of the flashlights attached to their rifle barrels fell on thick maroon blankets strewn in disarray on the floor, bright plastic flowers in metal vases. A sleepy pre-teen boy in T-shirt and sweatpants peeked out of a bedroom.
Junior officer shortage
. "Facing an urgent requirement to field an additional 300 second lieutenants in 2006, Army officials have decided to make it easier for nontraditional officer candidates to enter that career track. Two-star generals now can sign waivers that would allow Officer Candidate School admission for NCOs who are older than 30 or who may have minor criminal or military offenses on their records, according to a memo sent to Army leaders on May 25."
. "A shortfall in recruiting is adding pressure on the U.S. military to show progress in Iraq and divert more resources toward enlistment incentives. With potential recruits opting for civilian jobs in an improving employment market, the Army is expected to report today that it missed its enlistment goal for May by about 25 percent. This bad news -- the fourth-straight monthly shortfall -- follows a Washington Post-ABC News poll this month that found three-fourths of Americans think casualties in Iraq are unacceptably high and two-thirds believe U.S forces are bogged down…An intensified sales campaign has failed to close the recruitment gap for the Army, the largest branch of the armed services. The Army missed its monthly goal in February for the first time in almost five years and fell short again in March and April. The goal for fiscal 2005 is 80,000 recruits; recruitment through the first seven months was 35,926, less than half that. The Army maintains its active force of about 490,000 by offering incentives such as bonuses. It's ahead of this year's target for retaining people and is trying to increase its size to about 512,000. 'The challenge is not keeping them in, it's getting them in,' said Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Hilferty, a spokesman for the Army's chief of personnel."
Recruitment for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps is on the brink of disaster. Indeed, along with combat, recruiting duty is now considered the worst mission in the military. Although we are in a global war against terrorism, the American citizenry is not being asked for any sacrifice. In the last election, both President Bush and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) were united in their refusal to consider a return to conscription. "Patriotism-lite" is the order of the day.
But truth to tell, a draft for the 21st Century is the only answer to our national security needs. Such a draft would have three tiers of youth service, with 18-month tours of duty for citizens ages 18 to 25. The first tier would be modeled after a standard military draft. The second tier would be for homeland security, such as guarding our borders, ports, nuclear installations and chemical plants. Included in this category would be police officers, firefighters, air marshals and disaster medical technicians. The third tier would be for civilian national service, such as the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat for Humanity, Teach for America, assistance for the elderly and infirm, environmental work and the like. Women should be draft-eligible for the latter two categories and, of course, can volunteer for military service as now.
In return, all draftees, as well as voluntary servers, would receive generous financial aid for college and graduate school modeled after the GI Bill of World War II. Non-servers would be ineligible for federal student aid. Today more than $20 billion annually in federal funds is given to students who do not serve their country. We have created a GI Bill of Rights without the "GI."
Against all odds, a national liberation front is emerging in Iraq. Washington hawks may see it coming, but they certainly don't want it. Many groups in this front have already met in Algiers. The front is opposed to the American occupation and permanent Pentagon military bases; opposed to the privatization and corporate looting of the Iraqi economy; and opposed to the federation of Iraq, ie balkanization. Members of the front clearly see through the plan of fueling sectarianism to provoke an atmosphere of civil war, thus legitimizing the American presence. The George W Bush administration's obsession in selling the notion that Iraqis - or "anti-Iraqi forces", or "foreign militants" - are trying to start a civil war in the eastern flank of the Arab nation is as ludicrous as the myth it sells of the resistance as just a lunatic bunch of former Ba'athists and Wahhabis.
The Bush administration though is pulling no punches with Iraqification. It's a Pandora's box: inside one will find the Battle of Algiers, Vietnam, El Salvador, Colombia. All point to the same destination: civil war. This deadly litany could easily go on until 2020 when, in a brave new world of China emerging as the top economy, Sunni Arabs would finally convince themselves to perhaps strike a deal with Shi'ites and Kurds so they can all profit together by selling billions of barrels of oil to the Chinese oil majors. If, of course, there is any semblance of Iraq left at that point.
: "Under Bush, the Republican Congress has abdicated its responsibilities of executive oversight and investigation. When Republican senator John Warner, chairman of the armed services committee, held hearings on Bush's torture policy in the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib revelations, the White House set rabid House Republicans to attack him. There have been no more such hearings. Meanwhile, Bush insists that the Senate votes to confirm John Bolton as US ambassador to the UN while refusing to release essential information requested by the Senate foreign relations committee. One of the chief lessons learned from Nixon's demise was the necessity of muzzling the press. The Bush White House has neutralised the press corps and even turned some reporters into its own assets. The disinformation WMD in the rush to war in Iraq, funnelled into the news pages of the New York Times, is the most dramatic case in point. By manipulation and intimidation, encouraging atmosphere of self-censorship, the Bush White House has distanced the press from dissenting professionals inside the government."
Local story: Minnesota
soldier killed in Iraq.
Local story: Michigan
soldier killed in Iraq.
Local story: New York
Guardsman killed in Iraq.
Awards and Decorations
Local story: Pennsylvania
Marine decorated for valor in Iraq.