Thursday, December 30, 2004

War News for Thursday, December 30, 2004 Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed, 14 wounded in heavy fighting in Mosul. Bring ‘em on: ING soldier killed in Baquba ambush. Bring ‘em on: Insurgents overrun Iraqi police station near Tikrit, execute 12 policemen. Bring ‘em on: Five ING and one US soldier wounded in fighting in Samarra. Bring ‘em on: British soldiers ambushed in southern Iraq. CJTF-7 reports a US soldier wounded in Mosul mess hall bombing has died of wounds. CJTF-7 reports a C-130 crashed on landing in northern Iraq. Fallujah. “Lakes of sewage in the streets. The smell of corpses inside charred buildings. No water or electricity. Long waits and thorough searches by U.S. troops at checkpoints. Warnings to watch out for land mines and booby traps. Occasional gunfire between troops and insurgents. ‘I thought, “This is not my town,”’ Atiya said Tuesday after going back to the abandoned Baghdad clinic his family shares with nearly 100 other displaced Falloujans. ‘How can I take my family to live there?’” ING to merge with Iraqi Army. Rummy Roulette. “But a comparative analysis of U.S. casualty statistics from Iraq tells a different story. After factoring in medical, doctrinal, and technological improvements, infantry duty in Iraq circa 2004 comes out just as intense as infantry duty in Vietnam circa 1966—and in some cases more lethal. Even discrete engagements, such as the battle of Hue City in 1968 and the battles for Fallujah in 2004, tell a similar tale: Today's grunts are patrolling a battlefield every bit as deadly as the crucible their fathers faced in Southeast Asia.” Medical support. “One key constraint for planners has been the limited number of medical personnel available in a voluntary force to support the 130,000 to 150,000 troops fighting in Iraq. The Army is estimated to have only 120 general surgeons on active duty and a similar number in the reserves. It has therefore sought to keep no more than 30 to 50 general surgeons and 10 to 15 orthopedic surgeons in Iraq. Most have served in Forward Surgical Teams (FSTs) — small teams, consisting of just 20 people: 3 general surgeons, 1 orthopedic surgeon, 2 nurse anesthetists, 3 nurses, plus medics and other support personnel. In Vietnam, only 2.6 percent of the wounded soldiers who arrived at a surgical field hospital died, which meant that, despite helicopter evacuation, most deaths occurred before the injured made it to surgical care. The recent emphasis on leaner, faster-moving military units added to the imperative to push surgical teams farther forward, closer to battle. So they, too, were made leaner and more mobile — and that is their fundamental departure from previous wars.” Thanks to alert reader jgrego for sending in this interesting article from the New England Journal of Medicine. Frivolous lawsuit. “Six members of the Navy Seals and two of their wives sued The Associated Press and one of its reporters yesterday for distributing photos of the Seals that apparently show them treating Iraqi prisoners harshly.” Commentary Editorial: “Even the spinning instincts of the US administration are faltering in the face of such stark realities. In the week before Christmas 24 people died in a bomb attack inside a US army base in the northern town of Mosul while 60 others were killed in car bomb attacks in the Shia holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. George Bush, who foolishly proclaimed ‘mission accomplished’ over 18 bloody months ago, was forced to admit that the thousands of Iraqis he had hoped would take over basic security tasks from the US were simply not ready to do so. Hundreds of police and national guard recruits and serving officers have died in the past year. Many are so frightened they now routinely wear masks.” Editorial: “As thousands of wounded and injured troops return from Afghanistan and Iraq to add to a patient load of aging veterans from previous wars, overall VA funding hasn't kept pace, even as it's been increased by $10 billion. The VA in eastern Colorado got $245 million - $1 million less than in 2002.” Analysis: “This upheaval has been particularly vivid at the Pentagon, where the usual balance between civilian and military authority has been stood on its head. The American system of civilian control of the military recognizes that soldiers' attention must be fixed on winning battles and staying alive, and that the fog of war can sometimes obscure the rule of law. The civilian bosses are supposed to provide coolheaded restraint. Now America has to count on the military to step up when the civilians get out of control.” Analysis: “He has in considerable measure imposed himself on the uniformed military, but in a way they now hate. Following his ideas about a small, light and ‘agile’ force, he has made one bad tactical and organizational choice after another, with particularly devastating consequences for the army, its reserve forces, the national guard, and the marines. Their manpower resources are being exploited and wasted in a manner that could leave the services damaged and their officers alienated for a generation. This has been the result of the Bush government's total misjudgment of the Iraq situation; its refusal to enlarge the regular army; its reliance on mobilized reserve forces on extended service in what amounts to the draft of specialist veterans from civilian life; and, since the Iraq occupation turned very unpleasant, ‘stop-loss’ refusal to let people go at the end of their contracts…Iraq is now destroying the professional army the United States recruited to take the place of its citizen army. The new army was intended to serve as the unquestioning instrument of the policies of the elected administration. This administration's refusal to supply the manpower and means necessary for its vast military and political ambitions is now having its effect on that army. Its politically inspired fear of conscription, the merciless combat rotation policy and systematic use of involuntary extensions of duty its policies impose, are devastating to troops. The incoherence of its policy in the Middle East, and lack of clearly defined objectives, is deeply disquieting to the military leadership. America's military leaders once again find themselves victims of the policies of appointed ideologues and elected amateurs. As in Vietnam, they have no alternative to propose, except Dresden.” Opinion: “The transition to President Bush's second term, filled with backstage betrayals, plots and pathologies, would make for an excellent chapter of I, Claudius. To begin with, Bush has unceremoniously and without public acknowledgement dumped Brent Scowcroft, his father's closest associate and friend, as chairman of the foreign intelligence advisory board. The elder Bush's national security adviser was the last remnant of traditional Republican realism permitted to exist within the administration.” Opinion: “If Bush succeeds in perpetuating a legacy of preemptive war and right-wing domestic policies, America will never be the same again.” Opinion: “The truth no one really wants to deal with is that this war could very easily be lost by the United States. All the insurgents have to do is hang on another year. All we have to do is what the French and the British did in their colonies: Let themselves be exhausted and finally destroyed by their hubris, their delusions and their arrogant lack of understanding of the local people.” Thanks to alert reader zig for providing this link in yesterday’s comments. Casualty Reports Local story: Louisiana Guardsman dies from wounds received in Iraq. Local story: Oklahoma soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Maine Guardsman wounded in Iraq. Local story: Alabama soldier wounded in Iraq.


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