War News for Monday, January 16, 2006
Bring 'em on: US helicopter shot down in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Convoy of civilian vehicles attacked in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Police find the bodies of seven unidentified men shot dead in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: One civilian and another policemen wounded in a roadside bomb explosion in the west of Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Talibani confirms the US are negotiating with the Terrorists
Bring 'em on: Six Iraqi policemen and a 12-year-old child were killed Monday when a car bomb exploded in Muqdadiyah
Bring 'em on: One passenger killed when vehicles carrying U.S. police trainers were struck by a roadside bomb in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Update from above: Local police officials said gunmen killed five policemen and one child and also wounded 18 people and, in a common rebel tactic, a car bomb exploded when reinforcements arrived in the town of Miqdadia
, north of Baghdad. Police had earlier said five policemen were killed when a suicide bomber rammed his car into their patrol.
Bring 'em on: Sheikh Nasr Abdul Kareem, a physics professor and a tribal leader, was shot dead by gunmen while he was heading to work in eastern Ramadi
Bring 'em on: Three civilians were wounded when a roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi police patrol exploded in Musayib, south of Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Iraqi police arrested three insurgents while they were planting bombs on a road near Iraqi police on Sunday in Iskandariya
Election Fraud Hearings
: Iraq's electoral commission announced on Monday the findings of its investigations about the alleged fraud in Iraqi general elections, throwing out ballot boxes of 227 polling stations. Abdul Hussein al-Hindawi of the commission told a news conference that the commission was voiding the results of 227 ballot boxes out of a total of some 31,500, but suggested this would not affect the overall result of the poll. The commission released the findings of the investigations of 1985 complaints about the last month's elections, including 58 serious election complaints across Iraq, said al-Hindawi.
: Former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, whose 1968 conclusion that the Vietnam War was unwinnable keenly influenced public opinion then, said Sunday he'd say the same thing today about Iraq.
The southern two-thirds of Iraq have de facto become 'the Islamic republic of Iraq,' says Ken Joseph, an Assyrian who grew up in Japan, studied in the U.S., and who has been active in Iraq since the downfall of Saddam Hussein. 'We call it `Western Iran,`' says a demoralized Joseph.
The Reverend Ken Joseph is one of many Assyrians who returned to Iraq, along with Iraqis of different ethnicities, after the U.S. invasion, equipped with high hopes that a new democratic and secular Iraq would emerge from the ashes of the old regime. Instead, he and the approximate two million Assyrians, of which many are Christian, are seeing the country divided into what Joseph calls 'Shiistan' in the south, 'Sunnistan' in the center and Kurdistan in the north.PRT - Yes a New Acronym
The idea centered on establishing Provincial Reconstruction Teams, or PRTs, a tactic promoted in Iraq by the new U.S. ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, who had built similar operations when he was ambassador to Afghanistan. He declared in November that extending a coordinated U.S. presence into the provinces was "a new addition to our strategy for success in Iraq."
Three teams were rapidly established in Mosul, Kirkuk and Hilla, largely because the functional equivalent of consulates -- known in Iraq as regional embassy offices -- were simply relabeled PRTs. But the rollout of the rest of the plan appears uncertain as State and Defense Department officials haggle over a series of tough questions, including how to fund them, how to staff them, how to provide security -- and even whether they help or hinder plans to reduce the U.S. troop presence.
Under the original timetable, 16 PRTs were to have been established by this summer. That would mean one in each of Iraq's 18 provinces, except for the three northern Kurdish provinces, which would share a single regional PRT.
Officials involved in the debate in Baghdad and Washington insisted in interviews that broad agreement remains on using the teams to coordinate U.S. aid and to bolster Iraq's provincial governments, which were given little authority under the highly centralized rule of ousted president Saddam Hussein. The idea is to staff the teams with political, development, legal and civil military specialists who can help advise local officials. Counting security guards, the teams could number as many as 100 people in each location.
"Once we make the key decisions in Washington in the next weeks, we will find a way to move forward on this important project," said Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, Rice's senior adviser on Iraq policy.
Other officials said, however, that the PRTs have become caught in a crossfire of different priorities. Rice and her aides have felt strongly that civilian officials need to pay greater attention to the provinces, a view that is seconded by military officials in those areas. Establishing the PRTs thus would be part of a counterinsurgency campaign, State Department officials said.
At the same time, the Pentagon is eager to reduce its military footprint in Iraq, making officials wary of a project that could require the deployment of troops on yet another new mission when they are trying to reduce the visibility of U.S. forces and turn over more areas to the Iraqis.MLK Day
The rising death toll among Americans serving in Iraq is one of the main reasons U.S. citizens are speaking out against the war. Over 2,000 of our men and women have been killed and it's difficult for many of us to feel that those deaths were necessary. Martin Luther King, Jr. felt the same way during the Vietnam era when he stated, "I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For, it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not, simply, the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death. For they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved."
Dr. King was not being disloyal, irresponsible or partisan when he publicly opposed the Vietnam War. He was acting as a patriotic American who loved his nation enough to admonish her when he felt she was going in the wrong direction. The same is true of the numerous Americans who have taken a stand against the war in Iraq.RPG-7
In the continuing conflict in Iraq, shoulder fired rocket propelled grenades anti-tank (RPG) were once again proven a potent weapon. RPGs performed impressively in all post WWII conflicts, especially in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Chechnya. In the 1982 war in Lebanon, Israeli soldiers were confronted on by many RPGs. Palestinian militants are also using in the occupied territories, but Israeli heavy fighting vehicles are well protected to sustain such attacks while effective tactics are used to avoid exposure of softer vehicles to such threats. Inexperienced RPG operators could engage a stationary target effectively from 150 – 300 meters, while experienced users could kill a target at up to 500 meters, and moving targets at 300 meters. Casualties and losses suffered during the Yom Kippur War, from RPGs and anti-tank missiles, caused the IDF to deploy add-on reactive armor. The Israelis have used various types of add-on armor protection for their tanks and APCs. The most modern add-on hybrid armor package for M-113 and LAV is the L-VAS, designed under collaboration between IMI and RAFAEL. The Russian Army followed the same course as a result of its experience in Afghanistan and Chechnya. The Russians have also used cage armour, to protect against RPGs in Chechnya. In post war Iraq, RPGs have caused over fifty percent of U.S. soldiers killed in action. In Iraq, the US Army is using reactive armor to protect the Bradley M2, while the new Stryker APC is using an interim Slat Armor until the new add-on plate armor will be delivered in 2005. Placement of sand bags and supplies boxes outside the turret and hull are also creating a gap between the RPG and the steel armor, that could degrade and even defeat the HEAT warhead of the RPG.
Designed specifically for close combat operations, this reliable, simple and affordable weapon poses a serious threat to even the heaviest tanks, when used by determined fighters, in urban and guerrilla warfare. In Guerilla warfare, the RPG-7 is an effective tool against convoys, isolated checkpoints, and observation posts, where it is frequently used in volleys, coordination with other shooters. RPGs are also used in certain conditions against low, slow flying or hovering helicopters, where the weapon is fired from maximum range (920 meters) utilizing the self destruct mechanism as a makeshift proximity fuze. The weapon scored few successes in hitting helicopters Afghanistan and Iraq. Thanks to Rafar in the comments section for pointing out that RPG-7's could in fact have brought down all three US helicopters this year.
Our War Correspondent called Bob:
War is hell, and Bob one of our regular posters is constantly digging up news items, some of it is counter propaganda from insurgents, but click on the link and see the horror of war. No man deserved to die like this, in a war of lies and the greed for oil.RIP Colonel Westhusing
Now, Col. Westhusing was extremely concerned about corruption, millions in missing money, overcharging the US Gov’t., (especially from the contractors who had been underpaying workers and over-billing their work), human rights violations, and the killing of innocent civilians by USIS (as reported anonymously to him before his death). He sent an email to his family saying he would talk to them about his concerns in three weeks on his scheduled return, and discuss these troubling issues of moral concern and dishonesty *IF* he made it back, he said. So, he knew his life was in danger.
The thing that really bothers me is... He was a devout Catholic, and he was a very ethical, moral and honourable man, he was also a loving husband and father, and... he was a senior US Army officer. Nothing could make a man like that commit suicide. He knew it was wrong according to his faith, he knew it was not honourable (in that situation where he had caused NO disgrace), and he knew it would greatly harm his family that he loved dearly!
All the indicators are that he was murdered. Why isn't the Army or the Pentagon investigating the murder of a senior officer in a War zone?