Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Photo: An Iraqi dries his tears as he sits next to the coffin of a relative outside Baghdad's al-Kindi hospital [February 4, 2007]. (AFP/Ahmad al-Rubaye)
Bring 'em on: A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when insurgents targeted a security post southwest of the Iraqi capital Feb. 6. While manning designated battle positions in the area, the unit received small arms fire, killing one Soldier. (CENTCOM)
Bring 'em on: One Marine assigned to Multi-National Force - West died Feb. 5 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province. (CENTCOM)
Bring 'em on: The DoD has announced a new death, one that does not appear to have been previously reported by CENTCOM. Staff Sergeant Ronnie L Sanders, 26, of Thibodaux, Louisiana, died on Saturday, February 3rd, in Baghdad of wounds he received from an improvised explosive device blast. (DefenseLink)
Gunmen in Iraqi army uniforms kidnapped a senior Iranian diplomat in Baghdad on Sunday, Iraqi and Iranian officials said on Tuesday, and Tehran said it held U.S. forces responsible for his safety. "We are dealing with this as a kidnapping," an Iraqi government official told Reuters. The official said the diplomat, the second secretary at the Iranian embassy in Baghdad, was snatched in the central Karrada district by 30 gunmen wearing the uniforms of a special Iraqi army unit that often works with U.S. military forces in Iraq.
Iranian foreign ministry on Tuesday summoned ambassadors of Switzerland and Iraq to Tehran to protest at the abduction of an Iranian diplomat in Baghdad.
One Palestinian man was killed during a rocket attack on the restaurant he works in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. Online Palestine in Iraq reported that Ala Al Shalabi, was killed during a rocket attack that targeted the restaurant he works in in downtown Baghdad city.
A police officer was killed Tuesday and three people were injured when an explosion ripped through Zaafrana in southern Baghdad.
Police said they retrieved the bodies of 25 people from various parts of Baghdad with gunshot wounds and signs of torture over the past 24 hours.
Gunmen in four cars kidnapped 11 people from one house in Sadr city overnight.
(s. of) Baghdad Governor Hussein al-Tahhan survived an assassination attempt in an attack on his motorcade on the Baghdad-Kut highway while heading for the province of Wassit, 180 km southeast of Baghdad, to attend a conference for governors there, a source close to Tahhan said on Tuesday. "Two explosive devices blew up on the Baghdad-Kut highway while the governor's motorcade was passing by," the source, who did want his name mentioned, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq. "The explosion caused damage to one of the motorcade's vehicles but no casualties were reported," he added.
A car bomb exploded in Baghdad's southwestern district of Bayaa, wounding five people.
Two policemen were wounded in a clash with gunmen in the upscale Mansour western district of Baghdad.
A car bomb exploded in the southern Doura district of Baghdad, wounding four people.
A car bomb exploded in the Mashtal district in eastern Baghdad, killing two people and wounding eight.
Two British vehicles were damaged on Tuesday morning in separate attacks in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, a local police source said.
"An explosive charge went off today morning at a British vehicle patrol in al-Maaqel area in northern Basra damaging an armored vehicle," the source, who asked not to be named, told the independent news agency. He added "another British vehicle patrol today came under attack with a mortar shell in al-Abillah area in northern Basra." "A British vehicle was damaged in the (second) attack," the source added.
Meanwhile, the source said "12 mortars were fired onto two British bases in Basra today at dawn."
Diyala Prv:
A roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi army patrol in the Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, killing one soldier and wounding three soldiers and two civilians.
(Khalis area): Seven people were killed and three others wounded in two explosive device blasts south of al-Khalis, a city 55 km north of the capital Baghdad, an Iraqi police source said on Tuesday. "One explosive charge killed five and wounded two others and the other killed two soldiers of an Iraqi National Guard patrol and wounded another," the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq on condition of anonymity.
The spokesman for the governor of Tikrit was arrested, along with his brother, a police colonel, when U.S. forces raided their house in the town of Alam near Tikrit 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, the U.S-Iraqi joint coordination centre and provincial officials in Tikrit said.
A police convoy was hit by a roadside bomb, followed by an ambush in the northern city of Mosul, killing one policeman and wounding three.
At least two Iraqi policemen were killed and four others wounded in fierce clashes with gunmen in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul early on Tuesday morning, provincial police source said.
"Police forces fought fierce clashes with insurgents in northern Mosul neighborhoods of Baker and Kafa'at," said Brigadier Abdul Karim al-Jubouri from Nineveh province. The gunmen attacked the police forces with machineguns and blew up three roadside bombs, killing at least two policemen and wounding four others, Jubouri said.
Gunmen shot dead a woman government employee in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad.
Two bombs detonated in quick succession in southern Kirkuk, wounding eight people.
Ten civilians were injured in four explosive devices in several areas in Kirkuk, 250 km northeast of the capital Baghdad, said an official Iraqi security source on Tuesday.
"An explosive device went off near the house of a policeman in al-Aaskari neighborhood, wounding his mother and causing severe damage in the house," the source, who asked not to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq. Ten minutes later three explosive charges blew up in the area of al-Urouba, 7 km north of the city, near civilian houses, wounding nine people who were all rushed to hospital for treatment., the source said.
Iraqi army forces arrested 20 oil smugglers and seized 10 oil tanks prepared for smuggling in southwestern Kirkuk.
A mortar attack hit a residential area in Fallujah, killing three people and wounding seven.
> al-Maliki ordered Iraq's military commanders to speed up preparations for a U.S.-backed crackdown in Baghdad after a string of attacks killed hundreds of people in recent days.
Addressing Iraqi generals over what he called a "delay" in a plan seen as a last-ditch effort to prevent Iraq from pitching into all-out civil war, Maliki said: "I call on you to quickly finish the preparations so that we don't disappoint people." (…)
Iraqi officials say the planned crackdown was due to have started this week but that Iraqi security forces have asked for more time to get their troops in place. A previous offensive last summer failed because too few Iraqi troops were committed. (…)
In a meeting with Iraqi generals broadcast on state television, Maliki, a Shi'ite, said much had been talked about the planned crackdown, encouraging war-weary Iraqis to believe it represented "the end of the dark tunnel." "Either we all win, or we all lose. The whole world is watching us and expecting us to win," he told the generals. (…)
Despite Maliki's call for urgency, U.S. officers say there will be a gradual build-up in the offensive.
A U.S. general urged Iraqis at the weekend to be patient. While thousands of Iraqi reinforcements have arrived in Baghdad, most of the extra troops promised by Bush have yet to arrive.
> Defense Secretary Robert Gates asserted the increase in U.S. forces in Iraq is "not the last chance" to succeed and conceded he's considering what steps to take if the buildup doesn't work.
"I would be irresponsible if I weren't thinking about what the alternatives might be," Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee. (…)
Gates did not say what other options he was considering if the addition of 21,500 troops fails to control the violence in Baghdad and western Anbar province, where the Sunni insurgency is based.
"We at this point are planning for success," he said.
> Iraqi tribes and legislators are pressing the government to conduct an independent investigation of the battle of Najaf in which hundreds of Iraqi Shiites were killed.
The battle took place on February 28 and after nine days the government is still reticent on the circumstances that prompt it to use force against what many now see were peaceful tribesmen on their way to pay homage to the shrines in the holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala.
The battle is reported to have even split the Shiite community with many Shiite Arab tribes openly challenging the growing power of pro-Iran Shiite political factions.
A senior Shiite cleric, Aytollah al-hasani al-Sarkhi, is spearheading the calls for an independent inquiry into what many in Iraq now regard as a ‘massacre’ in which scores of women and children were killed.
Some members of parliament in a session on Monday requested the formation of a tribunal to look into the bloody incident.
Some legislators urged the parliament to form a tribunal like the one which sentenced former leader Saddam Hussein and two of his senior aides to death for the killing of 148 people from Dujail.
The Baghdad municipality is finding it hard to recruit workers to clean the city and collect mounting garbage dumps from its streets.
The unwillingness to work, despite rampant unemployment, is due to the upsurge of violence in the city, which, according to the Mayor Saber al-Isawi, has claimed the lives of more than 600 municipal workers.
"This more than the number of U.S troops killed in the same period," says Isawi.
He said it has become almost impossible to persuade part-time workers, the bulk of the municipality's workforce, to take up jobs in the city particularly in very restive areas.
As a result, most Baghdad streets are littered with garbage and garbage mounds pile up in open spaces and squares.
read in full…
From the Associated Press:
Republicans Block Senate Debate on Iraq Resolution
The '06 midterm election was a clear message to politicians in both parties that the current Iraq war policy is untenable and must be changed.
65%-70% of America have decided the Bush/McCain troop surge plan is not the change they're looking for.
And yet, all Republicans except for Norm Coleman and Susan Collins joined the GOP filibuster to keep the Senate resolution on the Iraq troop surge from coming to a vote.
I wonder if GOP strategists and politicians truly understand how destructive the preznut's war policy is for the future of the Republican party?
The politics behind the Senate cloture vote on the Iraq troop surge resolution seem clear to me - Republicans of all stripes - except for Coleman and Collins - support the preznut's troop surge. And that includes Chuck Hagel, whose vote against cloture will almost certainly help the preznut send more American military men and women to die in Iraq (but not nearly enough American military men and women to actually change the security situation on the ground there.)
Nice job, GOPers - you bought the preznut's Iraq war policy all over again.
This is truly a GOP war.
I had no idea it had come this far. An extremely right-wing hawk like Joe Scarborough, sits down with other hawks like Joe Klein (a 'liberal', pffft), Pat Buchanan and Michael Crowley from the pro-imperialist New Republic, and - every one of them except Buchanan a war supporter from the start - all diss Bush and his war, and his 'surge' policy. They're particularly irked that Bush's spokesman has slandered a Republican congressman who was critical of the war's execution. I only raise this as an anecdotal example, since it reflects in a mediated fashion the divisions in the American ruling class itself. The success of the Iraqi resistance in depriving the US of stable hegemony in the country, and driving its troops out of huge areas, has compounded and intensified the growing domestic revolt. And it has left much of the American political establishment thinking that it's no longer worth the effort. Watch:
Crooks and Liars Video
Whatever It Is, I'm Against It: WE'RE GOING TO JAIL, DUDE
The British tabloid The Sun has video of cockpit footage from a US plane that shot up a British convoy in March 2003. It has the pilots laughing as they saw wounded soldiers being dragged out of burning vehicles and then not so much when they finally figure out who they’ve been shooting at. “Fuck. God fucking shit,” says one. “Fuck me dead,” says another. “This sucks.” “We’re going to jail, dude,” says one pilot, with a touching naivete.
The pilots (who were not court-martialed, and have not been identified) did everything wrong, and recklessly: when checking on whether there were friendly forces in the area they gave the wrong grid references; they were talking amongst themselves while on another frequency the convoy was trying to tell them to stop shooting; they saw the orange panels identifying the vehicles as coalition but decided they were orange rocket launchers; they attacked without permission.
The inquest into the death of a British soldier killed in the incident is going on now, with absolutely no cooperation from the US military (they refused, for example, to turn over this video, and the British Ministry of Defence won’t release it because “this recording is the property of the United States government”). Big story there, not so big here. Arguably, that sentence explains America’s image throughout the world: big story there, not so big here.
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This is the full transcript of the cockpit video from call sign POPOV36 during the disastrous friendly fire attack on the Household Cavalry patrol.
Lasting just over 15 minutes, it begins just before the A-10 Thunderbolt pilot spots the four British vehicles.
A mass ethnic genocide is taking place against Sunnis.
A genocide within a grander genocide carried out by the US occupation forces.
A ghettoization within a greater Ghetto that has become Baghdad.
Sunnis and others have been driven out, starved, imprisoned, sieged, tortured and slaughtered.Incidentally,American detention camps in Iraq count over 90% of sunnis.
Sunnis and anyone else who is perceived as standing against both the occupation and the "Iraqi" government is eliminated. That also includes shias and immigrants who have lived in Iraq for decades (syrians and egyptians) and of course Palestinians.
The ethnic cleansing of sunnis (and others) is systematic, planned and carried out by the "Iraqi" government with the collaboration and supervision of the American army.
I have said it before and will repeat it again. The Iraqi government is comprised of three main players. The Dawah party of which Al Maliki and M.Al Sadr are members and their militias Jaysh Al Mahdi. Al Hakim who is an Iranian and his militias The Badr Brigades and the Ministry of Interior (an Iranian)Jawad al Bolani with his Maghawir squads. The other members of the Iraqi government are there for a show apart from our kurdish "brothers" who are accomplices with the main players cited above.
These three groups are directly funded, backed and trained by Iran. These three groups do not represent Iraqi Shias , they represent Iran. All their criminal actions have one single aim:
- supress all dissent
- extract loyalty to the Occupation and to Iran
- cleanse and weed out all unwanted stumbling blocks (and these stumbling blocks include the Sunnis, the Arab shia's and anyone else who are both anti occupation and anti-Iran.)
read in full...
Al-Hayat this morning brings together three big Iraq stories: (1) Problems with the new security plan showing up before it even starts; (2) followup to the Syria-immigration story; and (3) the Najaf-Zarka debacle. Although the reporter doesn't make the point in any explicit way, I think in conjunction with other recent events, these can be seen as signs of the end-times, at least for the Maliki administration.
(1) Security. The Al-Hayat reporter writes:
Iraqi security officials say the armed groups are changing strategy with each government announcement about the "new plan". Interior Ministry spokesman...said "The terrorists' strategy changes as the government's strategy changes." And he added: "It is the takfiiri groups that are primarily responsible for the collapse of security, and the Sadriya calamity is proof positive that these groups have very strong intelligence that lets them know about each change and alteration that the government makes together with its security ministries".
What did he mean about "proof positive"? The following may or may not be relevant. The self-styled "Iraqi resistance reports" posted in English on Albasrah.net include this for last Saturday, after reporting on the truck-bombing at the Sadriya market:
Two days before Saturday's truck bombing, the same building was raided by US occupation troops who arrested nine people and found and took away the bodies of two Sunni youths who had been detained on the second floor of the building, which served as a Shi'i sectarian slaughter house for Sunnis.
Local witnesses said that the Americans also found Sunni prisoners being detained in the building. The Americans set the prisoners free and tuned the bodies of the two dead victims over to al-Yarmuk Hospital but made no further investigation or announcement about the Jaysh al-Mahdi death squad stronghold.
Of course it is possible that the government spokeman only meant that the truckbombers knew of the absence of checkpoints and so on. But that wouldn't be "strong intelligence".
Still on the security theme, the Al-Hayat reporter adds this:
Another military leader, insisting on anonymity, expressed skepticism about the possibilities for success of the new plan. He told Al-Hayat that terrorist operations are esclating ahead of implementation of the plan, and that in itself represents a setback, because the plan calls for eradication of these gangs.
And that reallly dovetails nicely [the reporter notes in conclusion] with what observers say about the latest US intelligence report [referring to the NIE] where it talks about the dangers of civil war, namely that it is an attempt to provide cover for the failure of the announced new security plan, at a time when there is this domestic American debate about the next strategy and the need to send more troops.
So the gist of this, on the security theme, is that the new plan has basic defects including the apparent fact that armed groups can learn of, and adapt to, each change in government strategy. Moreover, observers in the US think the NIE remarks on civil war in Iraq are an attempt to provide cover for likely failure of the new plan.
(2) Syria. Following up on remarks by Maliki-government spokesman Ali Dabbagh blaming Syria for much of the violence ("We have proof that 50% of the takfiiris and of the killers calling themselves Arab mujadideen have come via Syria"), a UIA member of parliament proposed yesterday the deporting of "Arab" residents (meaning non-Iraqi Arabs naturally) in order to ensure the success of the new security plan. To which Mashhadani, the president of parliament and a Sunni, retorted: What about deporting the non-Arabs (referring to Iranians) too?
Syria recently announced a new visa requirement that has frightened the close to one million Iraqi refugees in Syria, because it calls for only a two-week initial stay followed by a requirement to present documents including a housing-rental contract. The new rules could apparently require those failing the requirement to leave the country for a month before re-applying. There is a variety of interpretations in English on the Syriacomment.com website, but I would like to call attention to one in particular. Joshua Landis notes that the Syrian authorities recently had lengthy and friendly meetings with Iraqi president Talabani; and he says the Syrians also met recently with Harith al-Dhari of the Muslim Scholars association. Friendly relations with the non-Shiite powers in Iraq, combined with the bitter denunciations by Shiite politicians (including government spokesman Dabbagh, as noted above), suggest that the Syrians are starting to think the Shiite-led Maliki administration might not last in its current form forever, hence the importance of good relations with the non-Shiite powers. Probably it is also worth noting that Syria hosted the recent meeting of breakaway Baath party members, accused by the resistance wing of planning to "participate in the so-called political process [in Iraq]".
The gist of this is that Syria may well be contemplating the possibility either or regime-change in Iraq, or as Landis puts it, of a "meltdown", and this has so unnerved the Shiite politicians that we have the spectacle of the "deport the Arabs", "deport the non-Arabs" shouting match right in Parliament.
(3) Zarka. Juan Cole tells us this morning that Sunni members of parliament "maintain that Iraqi troops and US pilots mistook innocent members of the Hawatimah and Khaz'al tribes for insurgents and killed them along with their women and children..." But that is not the case at all. On the contrary, there was no allegation of a mistake. Rather, as the Al-Hayat reporter puts it, there were "growing accusations that the local [SCIRI-controlled] government spread the fictitious story [about the threat from the millenarian group] in order to eliminate intra-Shiite opposition." And in the Azzaman version, the letter from tribal chiefs that Mashhadani read out in parliament accused the government of trying to blame the slaughter of men women and children of the two tribes on an "imaginary group". The Azzaman reporter says there are escalating demands for an independent Iraqi judicial inquiry to bring the responsible persons to justice, and at least one member said this should be on the model of the recent trial of Saddam. The charges led to Shiite members walking out of the session.
There you have it: (1) a "new security plan" that some suggest might be doomed before it starts, (2) Syria quite likely anticipating some kind of Iraqi regime-change and the Maliki government responding angrily to that; and (3) unprecedented heat over accusations the SCIRI authorities in Najaf abused their powers to eliminate local opposition. Let's just say there don't seem to be any factors working to stabilize the Maliki administration.
read in full…
The aim of this paper is to render homage to Iraqi people, whose resistance and sacrifices accelerated the decline of the Uni-polar World Order. The Peace Movements around the world are urged to express solidarity with Iraqi resistance. the victory of Iraqi resistance is a victory for the International community in its struggle to defeat war mongers and create a New World Order based on respect of International Law and the right of peoples to live in peace. (…)
7- From the first day of its illegal and illegitimate occupation of Iraq, the US followed a destructive policy violating all its obligations under The International Humanitarian Law as occupation power. Here are some examples:_* Disbanding Iraqi Army and Security Forces, and allowing the destruction and looting of State Ministries, Military Camps, Economic Facilities, Museums, hospitals, universities, etc....
* Establishing Iraqi political institutions under the occupation, based on sectarian and ethnic division. This policy intended to change the identity of Iraqis from the national one to ethnic and sectarian one. This, incite sectarian violence and destroy the social fabric of Iraqi Society.
* Adopting , through the illegal Iraqi General Assembly established under the occupation, a Constitution aiming at dismantling the country to at least three entities on sectarian and ethnic basis.
* The excessive use of force against Iraqi civilians. LANCET medical journal report stated that 650 000 Iraqis were killed since the US invasion. US troops in Iraq committed all kinds of war crimes: Torture, rape, mass killings, destruction of entire cities ( Fallujah and Tel-Affar for example), collective punishment to the population ,etc....
* the US army used prohibited weapons against Iraqi population: Depleted Uranium bombs, White Phosphor (the use of it against civilian targets tantamount to the use of Chemical Weapons, cluster bombs.. etc.
8- The US occupation and crimes were faced by growing military and political resistance from Iraqi people. All measures taken by the occupant to contain the Resistance were not successful ( Excessive use of force ,Transfer the sovereignty to Iraqis on paper etc..) _.The following figures taken from American statements , show the growing Iraqi Resistance (the real figures are much higher):
In 2003 , the number of daily attacks against US troops in Iraq was (13) . It rose to (50) in 2005, to (70) in June 2006 and to (180) in Oct. 2006 ( see page 10 of Baker- Hamilton Report). These figures do not include the attacks, targeting other US or Foreign presence in Iraq , like the private Security teams or mercenaries, nor those targeting Iraqi collaborators with the occupation. _9 - While the Iraqi resistance is growing , the US army is missing its recruitment goals. It seems that the US military is more successful in recruiting for the Iraqi resistance than it is for the US army. The significance of this fact is that the US is not able today to fight one single war , put aside wining it!
10 - One of the originalities , some call it miracle , of the Iraqi resistance is its ability to defeat the US army with no external support. On the contrary , Iraqi Resistance suffers from isolation, distortion and demonizing , including accusations of terrorism. (…)
* The US aggression against Iraq is an aggression against humanity and its principles. Solidarity and support to Iraqi resistance will accelerate the collapse of the US hegemony on the International Affairs , which will open the path for a new more just multilateral world order.
— Ambassador Dr. Saeed Hasan Almusawi, Former Iraqi Permanent Representative to UN. Kuala Lumpur, February, 5th 2007
read in full…
Recently, the Washington Post reported that US President George W Bush's "surge" of troops to Iraq by 21,500 "would create major logistical hurdles for the US Army and Marine Corps". That's a nice way of putting it, like calling a tsunami a maritime disturbance or an earthquake a tectonic-plate adjustment.
The truth is that after nearly four years of fighting in Iraq, the US military is deeply stressed and worn out by its operations there. While most dispassionate observers are aware of this, it is not something the Bush administration likes to talk about. Nevertheless, the truth is that from a US military perspective, Iraq is increasingly burdensome.
Consider the following facts. Last year senior Marine Corps officials admitted that if the war in Iraq ended tomorrow and marine units were shipped home, it would cost US$12.8 billion to re-equip them with vehicles and gear lost in combat and through wear and tear. That outlay would take up a significant portion of the corps's yearly budget, which in 2004 stood at nearly $17 billion.
Last July, Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to Bush noting that up to two-thirds of the army's combat brigades were not ready for wartime missions, largely because they were hampered by equipment shortfalls.
Much of the equipment deployed in Iraq is beginning to wear out as a result of heavy use, harsh operating conditions, and the frequent attacks launched by insurgents. Furthermore, the quantity and quality of weapons in units away from the war zone are eroding as equipment is transferred to deploying units. The latter problem is particularly pronounced in the reserves, which already were functioning with a deficit of modern equipment when the war began.
Last February the US Army asked for $9 billion to "reset" its war-depleted stocks - most of it to replace and repair tanks, helicopters and vehicles. Just about five months later, army chief of staff General Peter Schoomaker said the army needed $17.1 billion in fiscal 2007 to "reset" or restore the service's equipment stocks.
Since the Iraq insurgency heated up in autumn of 2003, the US Army's combat losses include at least 20 M1 Abrams tanks, 50 Bradley fighting vehicles, 20 Stryker wheeled combat vehicles, 20 M113 armored personnel carriers, and 250 Humvees. The number of vehicles lost in battle comes to nearly 1,000 after adding in heavy and medium trucks and trailers, mine-clearing vehicles, and Fox wheeled reconnaissance vehicles. Nearly all these losses were caused by improvised explosive devices in Iraq.
The situation was so serious that the Office of the Secretary of Defense considered adding tens of billions of dollars to the army's base budget in the Pentagon's new six-year spending plan to address funding shortfalls that armed-service officials say could threaten the viability of US ground forces. (…)
The army has deployed significant portions of its trucks, combat vehicles and helicopters in Iraq. Much of this equipment does not rotate out when troops do, either because the army is trying to minimize transportation costs or because it wants to retain key items such as up-armored vehicles in the war zone.
As a result, the equipment is exposed to continuous use for long periods - more than two years in the case of some Chinook helicopters - and may not receive scheduled maintenance in a timely fashion. The army conducted an analysis of how such stresses affect fielded equipment, and concluded that a single year of deployment in Iraq would cause as much wear and tear as five years of peacetime use.
That is hardly surprising, given the fact that much of the equipment in Iraq is being used at a rate several times what typically prevails in peacetime. The operating tempo of helicopters is twice as high in the war zone as elsewhere. Combat vehicles such as the Abrams tank and Bradley fighting vehicle operate at five or six times normal rates. And trucks are used at up to 10 times their peacetime rates (which helps explain why so many are washed out by the end of their time in Iraq).
But high utilization rates are only the beginning of the problem, because the conditions under which systems operate in Iraq are harsher than those encountered in peacetime training exercises. For example, Abrams tanks are designed to operate in open country, but in Iraq they often travel on paved roads, accelerating wear. Their mechanical and electronic systems are exposed to sand, wind, precipitation and vibration far in excess of what would be experienced in peacetime.
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Just in case anyone needs reminding that "USA" has always stood for "United States of Aggression," here are a forgotten few from February's Files: (…)
February 1991
High above a swamp, over 60 miles of coastal Highway 8 from Kuwait to Iraq, a division of the Iraq's Republican Guard withdrew on February 26-27,1991. Baghdad radio had just announced Iraq's acceptance of a cease-fire proposal and, in compliance with UN Resolution 660, Iraqi troops were ordered to withdraw to positions held before August 2, 1990. President George H.W. Bush derisively called the announcement "an outrage" and "a cruel hoax."
"U.S. planes trapped the long convoys by disabling vehicles in the front, and at the rear, and then pounded the resulting traffic jams for hours," says Joyce Chediac, a Lebanese-American journalist. "It was like shooting fish in a barrel," one U.S. pilot said. "Many of those massacred fleeing Kuwait were not Iraqi soldiers at all," says Ramsey Clark, "but Palestinians, Sudanese, Egyptians, and other foreign workers."
Randall Richard of the Providence Journal filed this dispatch from he deck of the U.S.S. Ranger: "Air strikes against Iraqi troops retreating from Kuwait were being launched so feverishly from this carrier today that pilots said they took whatever bombs happened to be closest to the flight deck. The crews, working to the strains of the Lone Ranger theme, often passed up the projectile of choice... because it took too long to load."
"Every vehicle was strafed or bombed, every windshield is shattered, every tank is burned, every truck is riddled with shell fragments," Chediac reported after visiting the scene. "No survivors are known or likely. The cabs of trucks were bombed so much that they were pushed into the ground, and it's impossible to see if they contain drivers or not. Windshields were melted away, and huge tanks were reduced to shrapnel."
"At one spot," Bob Drogin reported in the Los Angeles Times, "snarling wild dogs (had) reduced two corpses to bare ribs. Giant carrion birds pick(ed) at another; only a bootclad foot and eyeless skull are recognizable."
Major Bob Nugent, an Army intelligence officer, said: "Even in Vietnam I didn't see anything like this. It's pathetic."
Correction: When you're talking about America, it's not pathetic...it's policy.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The success of this [surge] strategy is dependent entirely on the Iraqis' willingness to fulfill the commitments they made to us." -- US Def Sec Robert Gates testifying today at the Senate Armed Services Committee on the administration's latest budget request for the Defense Department [my emphasis -- zig]


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