View Full Version : Marines: 11 insurgents killed in ambush in Fallujah

04-25-04, 08:07 AM
Marines: 11 insurgents killed in ambush in Fallujah


FALLUJAH, Iraq ---- Marines in Fallujah said they killed at least 11 insurgents in an ambush Saturday after laying still and silent for hours in buildings deep inside the embattled northwest corner of the city.

"Marines can go to sleep tonight knowing they killed (some) bad guys," said 2nd Lt. Josh Jamison, leader of the 2nd Platoon, which infiltrated some 400 yards ahead of its defensive lines to finally put down some of the rebels who daily sneak up to shoot rifles and fire rocket-propelled grenades at the Marines.

One squad killed five men who were carrying machine guns, the Marines said, and another squad, assisted by a tank that rolled up to help, killed six other insurgents who tried to counter the attack.

No Marines were reported killed or wounded.

"They were definitely moving like trained military, bounding up the street using the buildings for cover," said Jamison, when he and his men returned to their lines just after 9 p.m. Saturday after hiding out and stalking the enemy for more than 20 hours. "These were definitely guys that were coming up on our pos (position) to (do us harm)."

The Marines, members of Camp Pendleton's Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, sneaked out of the houses they've occupied for nearly three weeks at 1 a.m. Saturday. They slowly and quietly crept south house to house toward a mosque where gunmen gather almost daily to lead attacks against American troops.

They said their mission was originally a probe ---- a secret move behind enemy lines to check out their defenses and identify enemy positions as targets for a possible Marine offensive.

That offensive is expected within days, according to military leaders, if rebels trapped in the city do not hand in their heavy weapons and the city's residents do not turn in those who killed four American security contractors March 31.

On Saturday, after inching their way through buildings and homes full of broken glass and household goods scattered on the floors after weeks of warfare, the Marines set in near the mosque and waited all day until almost dark.

"It was ghostly," said Cpl. Christopher Ebert, 21, of Forest City, N.C., after he and the others arrived back in their defensive position together and safe Saturday night. "We only had about three hours to go and then these six guys showed up."

After the six armed men entered the mosque, the Marines radioed what they saw to Fox Company commander Capt. Kyle Stoddard, who watched the mosque from atop a building some 400 yards away.

Moments later, at 7:10 p.m., Stoddard and others listened to the burst of fire as the insurgents ran out and Marines opened fire at close range. The deadly ambush was over in an instant.

"We got 'em!" Jamison yelled. "They're dead!"

The tank and the other squad battled back a hasty counterattack from the southeast.

Insurgents fired mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and drove three vehicles down the street with gunmen firing rifles at the Marines. Two of the vehicles were disabled, and Marines said they believed their occupants were dead or wounded.

Within an hour, the insurgents seemed defeated or had fled the area. The Marines said they then searched the mosque, searched the bodies, and lined them up in the street before they beat an uncontested retreat back to their positions in the north.

"It was a long day ---- long day," said Pfc. Philip Marquez, 21, of Coachella, having just returned from the fight. "But it was worth the wait."

The Marines returned from the fight elated, patting one another on the back and shaking hands.

Treated to a cooked meal instead of the normal packaged rations, the excited troops shed their gear in the dark and huddled around a digital video of the fighting recorded by a Marine combat cameraman.

"That's the way it's done," said Sgt. Warren Hardy, 25, of Colorado Springs, Colo.

"It couldn't have gone better in books."

Some of the young Marine leaders said Saturday's successful ambush could help boost the troops' morale and steel them for a possible final assault on the city, where military leaders say between 100 and 1,000 Iraqi insurgents and foreign fighters are trapped and preparing snares and defensive positions.

"I think it was good that everyone got to get out and stretch their legs and get back in the offensive," said Cpl. Peter Madrigal, 21, of Tucson, Ariz., who led one of the squads involved in the fighting Saturday.

Stoddard, Fox Company's commander, said Saturday's battle proved what the Marines have been saying for weeks: that the insurgents are using mosques to fight the Americans.

The insurgents were armed with assault rifles and machine guns with magazines taped together for quick reloading in combat, and were carrying grenades.

"I have no sympathy for these guys," he said, as his men were returning from the operation. "They're using holy places to conduct ambushes. It's just ---- I don't know ---- wrong."

The Marines said the ambush would be a serious blow to the rebels' morale as they face the American force of nearly 5,000 Marines who now surround the city.

"They thought they'd be ambushing us, and look who got ambushed!" said Capt. Roy "Woody" Moore, reflecting the triumphant mood of the Marines who say they've been getting frustrated sitting behind defensive barriers just inside the city for weeks now.

"When they see the bodies lined up in the street in front of the mosque ---- IDs out and weapons gone," Moore said, "they're going to say, 'Things are really starting to go badly for us.' "

Staff writer Darrin Mortenson and staff photographer Hayne Palmour are reporting from Iraq, where they are with Camp Pendleton Marines. Their coverage is collected at www.nctimes.com/military/iraq.




04-25-04, 08:09 AM
Official: Bush Confers on Fallujah

By ROBERT BURNS, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - President Bush (news - web sites) held a conference call Saturday with his senior national security and military advisers to discuss the situation in Iraq (news - web sites), particularly restive Fallujah, a senior defense official said.

The official said the purpose of the teleconference was mainly for Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, to give Bush and others an update on the situation inside the city and the U.S. Marines' readiness to resume offensive operations against thousands of insurgents hole up there.

The senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was not clear when Abizaid would determine that time had run out on efforts to achieve a peaceful end to the Fallujah standoff. He said Abizaid has the Marines "ready to go" back on the offensive at any time.

The New York Times reported in its Sunday editions that Bush and his senior advisers were expected to decide this weekend whether to invade Fallujah, even at the risk of stirring additional resentment by Iraqis in other areas.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy confirmed that the president, spending the weekend at Camp David, was given his daily national security briefing on Saturday, but noted that neither the agenda nor the contents of those briefings are made public.

"I can't say anything about what was discussed, but the president did have his daily briefing," Duffy said.

The senior defense official, who did not participate in the briefing but knew of it, said his impression was that it was not a decision-making session, but essentially an opportunity for Abizaid to update Bush and his top aides about the military situation in Iraq in general and specifically regarding Fallujah.

The official said it was his impression the president showed no inclination to override the advice of his senior military staff on the decision.

Wrapping up a day of campaigning and fund raising Friday in Florida before flying to Camp David, Bush vowed that "America will never be run out of Iraq by a bunch of thugs and killers."

The teleconference meeting came as U.S. commanders in Iraq repeated warnings that they may soon launch a new assault on Fallujah, saying guerrillas had not abided by a call to surrender heavy weapons.

L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq, traveled to the Marine base outside Fallujah for consultations Saturday, while Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt told reporters: "Should there not be a good faith effort demonstrated by the belligerents inside Fallujah, the coalition is prepared to act."



04-25-04, 08:11 AM
New Iraqi cops graduate from Marine-run academy
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification Number: 20044250559
Story by Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald

CAMP AR RAMADI, Iraq(April 22, 2004) -- The Iraqi police force is growing stronger thanks to reserve Marines attached to 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

Despite recent attacks against Iraqi security forces, the Ar Ramadi Police Academy here graduated 88 men during a morning ceremony April 22.

This is the first class Marines trained since arriving here.

The Iraqi policemen received their training from the Marine instructors, who all serve as full-time law enforcement agents when not on active duty.

"Our job in Iraq is to provide the basics of law enforcement and defense tactics to the Iraqi people," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Ron Brown, academy administration officer and instructor.

During the three-week course, students were up before the crack of dawn for physical training or self-defense classes. Then they got down to the nitty-gritty of police tactics.

"The curriculum includes classes like handcuffing procedures, communications, first aid, building clearing and weapons handling," explained Brown, a Topeka, Kan., police officer.

The men who attended the academy are a mixture of seasoned veterans and rookie policemen.

Iraqi Police Lt. Col. Rafea Muhmoud Mustafa, class honor graduate, has been a police officer for 21 years but knew he still had much to learn about his profession.

"It was interesting learning new things from the Marine police," Mustafa said through an interpreter. "They taught us new ways to protect ourselves and the people in our community."

The team of 13 Marine instructors brings a great deal of experience to the table for their Iraqi counterparts.

"Most all of the instructors have about 10 to 25 years of experience," Brown said.

One of the instructors, 1st Sgt. Jeff P. Sesak, volunteered to deploy to Iraq and realized his job wouldn't be easy.

"The people here have a relatively new law enforcement system," Sesak, a sergeant with the El Dorado County, Calif., Sheriff's Department, said. "They don't have the same level of training and education as that of American police."

Sesak said the Marines focused on the "basics and fundamentals" of what it takes to be a policeman so the Iraqis would have a jumping off point on which to build.

"The guys who come through here know they have a lot to learn from us," Sesak said. "They all come here motivated to become policemen."

Mustafa, who works at a police station in Anna, Iraq, described the draw of becoming a part of the country's fledgling security force.

"It's an honor for us to become policemen and to help make peace for our people and their property," Mustafa explained.

Just like in America, Iraqi policemen deal with everyday criminals and thugs. However, the Iraqis have the added worry of stopping anti-Iraqi fighters whose goal is to disrupt Iraq's progress.

The Marines at the academy are working to prepare the Iraqi policemen to defeat these threats.

"I do not feel scared of insurgents," Mustafa added. "We want to protect the people of our community no matter what."

Lt. Col. Daniel J. Racca, academy commandant, said he and the rest of 1st Marine Division realize the Iraqi security force members have an "extremely dangerous duty and don't receive much recognition."

During the graduation ceremony, the freshly-trained Iraqi policemen were shown that their hard work in the community putting a stop to terrorism does not go unnoticed.
Four of Iraqi law-enforcement officers were recognized by the 1st Marine Division for their actions in fighting enemy forces.

Iraqi Capt. Hatim Daham Say'l-Mutaba, Lt. Omar Wahib Jassem, Sgt. Saadi Hamid Shukur and Policeman Mutez Jasim Muhammed were given medals of valor for their separate experiences fighting terrorism in Ar Ramadi during the past year.

All of the men received serious wounds during their bouts with terrorists.

"We wanted to show the men who are leaving the academy that we are standing behind them," explained Lt. Col. Daniel J. Racca, academy commandant. "They make a major sacrifice to their country and its citizens."

Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, 1st Marine Division's commanding general, wanted to honor the men for their valor and bravery while helping Coalition forces.

Iraqi Police Maj. Anwer Khdeeb Abd said he was inspired by the awards ceremony during his graduation.

"Those policemen are courageous," Abd said. "Every policeman should want to be like them. "They should all want to risk their lives to protect the people of Iraq."

The graduates also received recognition for completing the course. They were each given a certificate, uniform and pistol with ammunition.

"My thanks goes to the Marines for helping us become trained police officers," Abd said. "Now we can all go out there and help our country grow. We will work for the community."


A graduation ceremony was held at the Ar Ramadi Police Academy here for 88 Iraqi policemen April 22. This was the first class instructed by Marines. The Marine instructors are all full-time law enforcement agents when not on active duty. Most of the Marines bring between 10 and 25 years of experience to share with their Iraqi counterparts.
(USMC photo by Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald) Photo by: Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald



04-25-04, 08:12 AM
Military mayor staff liaisons with local communities <br />
Submitted by: 3d Marine Aircraft Wing <br />
Story Identification Number: 200442521431 <br />
Story by Sgt. J.L. Zimmer III <br />
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AL ASAD, Iraq(April 25,...

04-25-04, 10:54 AM
Graphic images of war and its costs stir emotions

By John Wilkens
April 24, 2004

Time will tell if these are the war images we remember: Charred bodies hanging from a bridge in Fallujah. Flag-draped coffins in a cargo plane. A popular "Doonesbury" character losing a leg in combat.

In this, the deadliest month so far for Americans in Iraq, the images have brought the cost of war into our living rooms and onto our breakfast tables. Not everyone welcomes the company.

"We had been seeing a very sanitized version of the war," said Lawrence Pintak, a journalism professor at the University of Michigan and a former CBS correspondent. "What we're seeing now is our sanitary bubble has been punctured."

That turn of events echoed across the land yesterday as newspapers and TV news programs circumvented a Pentagon ban and showed photos of coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. A Web site first posted the photos after receiving them from the military. The Pentagon later said that the release was a mistake.

Publication of the pictures triggered a now-familiar round of open debate as editors wrestled with whether it was right to show (or not show) what they did, and their readers and viewers came forward, in letters and e-mails and calls to talk-radio shows, to complain or applaud.

With the presidential election about six months away, the controversy over the media's use of the images has taken on an increasingly partisan air, and some say that makes it harder for people to know what's real and what's spin.

"Message and image control is key to keeping people on board," said Matthew Felling, an analyst at the Center for Media and Public Affairs, a think tank in Washington, D.C. "Sometimes the decision not to run something is just discretion. And sometimes it is censorship. People don't always agree on the distinction between them."

The furor also might reflect increasing public doubt about the war. Recent polls show that a majority of Americans still believe the war is in a just cause, but two-thirds say it is going badly, and only half (down from 63 percent three months ago) say U.S. troops should remain until a stable government is formed, according to Public Agenda, a nonpartisan, New York-based research group.

Some scholars say the current agitation is similar to the emotion that swirled around disturbing photos from the Vietnam War photos that became icons and helped shape public opinion about how the war was going.

George Esper, a journalism professor at West Virginia University and a former war correspondent for The Associated Press, said two photos in particular "became the eyes of a hurricane that turned American public opinion against the war."

One was a photo of a South Vietnamese officer executing a Viet Cong fighter with a handgun. Another showed a naked South Vietnamese girl, burned by napalm, running down a road. "The fear in her face told the whole story," Esper said.

Nancy Snow, a communications professor at California State University Fullerton, remembers seeing those two images as a child and feeling moved. "There was this sense (in the photos) of not knowing who the good or bad guys were," she said, and she realized that had wider implications for the entire war. "The enemy was this kind of amorphous thing. And I think that's happening in Iraq, too."

No one can say yet whether the recent war images will have the same impact, but to some scholars they clearly represent a milestone.

The first of this month's controversial photos were published April 1. Some showed the charred corpses of four U.S. civilian employees of a private security firm being dragged through the streets, while others showed two of the bodies dangling from a bridge in Fallujah.

Reaction from the public was swift. "This is pure sensationalism on a scale so gross and offensive as to be beyond words," Kenneth Coveney of San Diego wrote in a letter to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Others disagreed. "The American people have to see these pictures so that we can fully understand the horror of this war," wrote Richard Susskind of Coronado.

Last Sunday, The Seattle Times published a photo of more than 20 flag-draped caskets on a cargo plane in Kuwait, awaiting transport to the United States. It soon spread on the Internet.

The photo was significant in part because the government, saying it wants to protect the privacy of grieving survivors, has since 1991 banned all media coverage of homecomings of the war dead. The picture was taken by a cargo worker at Kuwait International Airport. On Wednesday, she was fired by a military contractor.

On Thursday, a Tucson, Ariz.-based Web site, www.thememoryhole.com, posted 361 images taken by Defense Department photographers of coffins and funeral proceedings at Dover Air Force Base, where the military operates a large mortuary.

Network news programs used the photos in broadcasts Thursday night and many newspapers, including the Union-Tribune, ran them yesterday, rekindling a debate about whether the Pentagon's no-photos rule represents sensitivity or censorship.

Even the world of cartoon strips has been drawn into the fray. All this week, "Doonesbury" has featured an Iraq story line involving B.D., a longtime character famous for always wearing a helmet. He was wounded in combat, and part of his left leg was amputated.

Reaction to the strip was mostly favorable, according to postings at the "Doonesbury" Web site, with readers applauding how it made the war seem real to them. A few accused the cartoonist, Garry Trudeau, of exploiting the conflict for monetary or political gain.

The strong public reaction to the various images "underscores just how sanitized U.S. media coverage of the war has been," said Kevin Howley, a communications professor at DePauw University in Indiana.

"Around the world, graphic images are not uncommon and may help account for popular unrest and unease with the Iraq war. In this country, however, the mainstream press has done a very poor job indeed of communicating the human costs of war."

Pintak said this is due mostly to tight government control over media access to war zones, but also to the "group psychology" of a press corps not wanting to look unpatriotic.

"That is changing as opinion of the war is changing," he said.

Snow, who teaches a course in media history, said public discomfort with certain wartime images dates to the Civil War, when newspapers carried drawings of combat. But she and other experts said some things are different this time.

They say people might be more anxious because it's harder to measure success in a war against terrorism. Some victories are clear the capture of Saddam Hussein in December, for example but as Felling noted, "It's impossible to write a story that says, 'Liberty went up 14 percent today' or '29 more hearts and minds were won today.' "

In the absence of clear progress, Snow said, the setbacks and the powerful images documenting them can loom large, triggering angry and fearful reactions.

Pintak also pointed out that Americans, unless they know someone serving in the military, aren't directly affected by the war. There is no draft. There has been no rationing of gasoline, as there was in World War II, and there are no food shortages or recycling drives for rubber and leather.

Experts say that means it's easier for people to ignore the combat if they choose until a jarring image shows up on the front page of their newspaper, or in a comic strip, or on the Internet. Then some get upset by the intrusion.

Snow said she was looking at a White House Web site recently, reading people's comments about President Bush's recent nationally televised news conference, which focused on the war in Iraq. One of the e-mails, she said, was from someone complaining that the news conference had pre-empted "American Idol."

"It makes you wonder about our priorities," Snow said.



04-25-04, 12:20 PM
Marines return to Kharma battlefield, find town quiet
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification Number: 20044250181
Story by Sgt. Jose E. Guillen

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq(April 23, 2004) -- Marines walked the grounds April 23, where two weeks before, they killed 100 enemy.

Marines from 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment moved through Al Kharma, the same small Iraqi city where they met the enemy a week ago with devastating firepower. This time, though, the Marines were greeted with little more than a heavy task of removing and destroying improvised explosive devices.

"We're serving as a base of fire... looking for bad guys," said Lance Cpl. Thomas J. O'Leary, of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. "But we just haven't shot any rounds," added O'Leary, with disappointment, a squad leader for 3rd Squad, 2nd Platoon, Company K.

O'Leary, from Salt Lake City, said he and his squad believed the battle two weeks ago convinced the enemy to leave the fortified town.

"You can definitely tell we were here before," O'Leary said.

But coming back, Marines found that the enemy forces they once faced were gone.

"'Intel' said that when we left Karmah, the rest of the insurgents left the city too," said Lance Cpl. Keegan C. Nace, O'Leary's assistant squad leader. "They just packed up and left because they thought they would get blocked off like Fallujah."

"We're disappointed that we're not getting any action," said Lance Cpl. Bradley W. Havenar, an infantryman from Midwest, Ok. "We had a good fight last time we came, but it seems they got scared and left."

Combat engineers discovered improvised explosive devices just inches below the dirt that were later cleared for vehicle checkpoints. Explosive ordinance disposal teams were called in.

"We found some IEDs and they're all made out of artillery shells," said Cpl. Garett D. Bunkelman, of Chippewa-Falls, Wisconsin, about the 155 mm rounds. "The EOD guys will detonate them later."

Despite the uneventful operation, the grunts carried on routine duties such as identification checks of civilians at vehicle checkpoints and searching for weapons.

"Sometimes these guys walk through our VCPs with false documents that just look fake," O'Leary said.

The day, although relatively quiet for the company, was successful for the battalion. Marines from 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, discovered and destroyed 62 IEDs along key routes into Al Kharma. The find was the largest yet for Marines since they deployed to Iraq earlier this year.


Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Johnson, an infantryman with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, positions himself on a small hill in a palm tree grove to stay vigilant for any enemy personnel at Kharma, Iraq, April 22. Marines fanned out across the small city where just a couple weeks ago, they killed 100 enemy fighters.
(USMC photo by Sgt. Jose E. Guillen) Photo by: Sgt. Jose E. Guillen



04-25-04, 12:42 PM
Diplomat Cautions U.S. About Use of Force <br />
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By WILLIAM C. MANN, Associated Press Writer <br />
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WASHINGTON - The United Nations (news - web sites) envoy, who is helping draft an Iraqi interim...

04-25-04, 12:44 PM
Apr 25, 12:32 PM EDT <br />
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General: U.S. Troops Ready to Enter Najaf <br />
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By DENIS D. GRAY <br />
Associated Press Writer <br />
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NAJAF, Iraq (AP) -- U.S. troops will likely enter parts of Najaf soon to clamp down...

04-25-04, 01:42 PM
The Next Chapter
Rehabilitating Iraq will continue to be an uphill battle.

Saturday, April 24, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

In his press conference last week, President Bush laid out a time line and a vision for Iraq's future and U.S. involvement there, a plan that was further elaborated by U.N. representative Lakhdar Brahimi's report the following day. Sovereignty will be turned over on June 30 to an interim Iraqi government; the current Iraqi Governing Council will be abolished in favor of a caretaker government of technocrats appointed by the U.N.; elections for a constitutional assembly will be held no later than January 2005; a constitution will be drafted by this assembly and new elections under it held by December 2005. At that point, Iraq will have its own fully democratic and thus legitimate government. President Bush said he looked forward to the time when he could discuss regional security issues with the new democratic leader of Iraq, just as he discussed them with Japan's Prime Minister Koizumi, leader of another country that had once been occupied by the U.S.

It is very commendable that the White House has itself finally clarified the game plan for Iraq in the coming years, and it is particularly important to have a vision of what we are aiming for in that country. The upsurge in violence this month has led to dire predictions of imminent chaos that are greatly overstated. The opponents of a new Iraq are cleverly playing to American fears of another Vietnam, and it is very important to understand that the U.S. can succeed here in a way it did not in Southeast Asia. The president is absolutely right that failure here will have dire consequences for U.S. interests, and for its friends in Iraq and further afield. This is a fact of life, regardless of what one thought of the war in the first place.

At the same time, it is important to be realistic about the very significant challenges ahead, and thus the sacrifices that will be called for in the coming years. We would do well to lower our expectations of what is possible in Iraq, lest the best become the enemy of the good or the possible.
In recent media discussions of Iraq, several nonissues have received undue emphasis. One is the question of moving the June 30 date for Iraqi sovereignty. Since the U.S. military will remain primarily responsible for security after that date, its postponement will not change things on the ground and will cause a genuine political crisis in U.S. relations with Iraq.

Another nonissue is the specific composition of the interim government to which the U.S. turns over power. Current members of the Governing Council will challenge the legitimacy of Mr. Brahimi's suggested arrangements and try to preserve their own role. Of course the interim government, whatever form it takes, will not be regarded as legitimate--the current Governing Council has serious legitimacy problems of its own--but it only needs to be seen as acceptable until the constituent assembly elections at the end of the year.

A final nonissue is internationalization, which John Kerry and other Democrats in the U.S. keep emphasizing. At this point, we would be lucky to keep what coalition partners we now have in Iraq; there is little prospect of bringing in either the U.N. or NATO allies in other than symbolic roles.

Once we get past these nonissues, there are at least four very large problems that have to be solved before we get to a democratic Iraq. The first is so obvious that it does not need to be stressed here: security. A great deal of the good nation-building work of improving the electricity supply, roads, schools, and hospitals, as well as the billions of dollars the U.S. has dedicated to these tasks, are now stuck in the pipeline because many of the thousands of aid workers and contractors there find it too dangerous to leave their fortified compounds. At the same time, there is good reason to think that much of the recent violence will subside. Muqtada al-Sadr, the violent Shiite cleric whose Mahdi militia caused so much trouble throughout southern Iraq, miscalculated in staging a grab for power earlier this month. He is in the process of being isolated by his fellow Shiite clerics, and will likely be disarmed though a combination of negotiations and force.

Much less easily solved is the second major problem, that of Iraq's other militias. If the classic definition of a state is its monopoly of legitimate violence, then the new Iraq is not going to qualify for statehood anytime soon. We have seen in the past two weeks the deficiencies of the new Iraqi army, civil defense corps, and police, all of which have had units that have remained passive, refused to obey orders, or even switched to the other side. If you are a Kurd or Shiite today, it would take a great leap of faith to trust the security of your family to these new institutions.

It is thus not surprising that all of the major Shiite groups and not just Sadr's followers have been frenetically building their own militias over the past few months. The Badr brigades, which are associated with the Iranian-influenced Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and the armed cells of the al-Dawa party, are potentially more powerful than the Mahdi militia. They are biding their time and building strength even as their political wings participate in the Iraqi Governing Council. The Kurds, for their part, have had their own Peshmerga forces to defend their interests for the past decade now.

The Coalition Provisional Authority is deep into a negotiation over what is called "demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration"--DDR, in nation-building lingo--which would dismantle these militias and fold them into the new national institutions. But the Shiite groups won't disarm unless the Kurds do so as well, and in the current climate of violence it is very hard to see what kinds of incentives the U.S. can offer to bring this about.

The third major problem has to do with long-term Kurdish-Shiite relations. The Transitional Administrative Law that was signed in early March contains a provision that any article of the new constitution can be vetoed by a two-thirds vote in any three of Iraq's 18 governorates, effectively giving the Kurds veto power over the entire constitution. The Kurds want this because they remain deeply suspicious that the Shiite groups, including those associated with Ayatollah Sistani (who up to this point has been a force for moderation), will seek to impose Sharia law once the constitutional process is under way. Mr. Sistani, for his part, has been equally vehement that this provision be removed. If the Kurds and Shiites cannot figure out how to share power, it is hard to see where the political basis for the new Iraq lies.

The final problem has to do with how to integrate the Sunnis who are at the center of the current troubles in cities like Fallujah and Ramadi. Contrary to some media reports, it is not clear that a Sunni "silent majority" could not one day find representation in political parties willing to contest power via the ballot box rather than the gun. But after the demise of the Baath Party, they are the least politically developed of all of Iraq's major groups. Prior to the Marines' Fallujah offensive, various democracy-promotion groups such as the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute had been making some headway in organizing democratic Sunni political parties. How the Fallujah standoff will be resolved, and what will remain of any residual Sunni goodwill toward the new Iraq in its aftermath, are open questions now.

Everyone is understandably focused on the June 30 transfer of sovereignty, a mere 75 days away. But much less will happen that day to shift real power than on the day that the first democratic elections are held, presumably by the end of this year. Only elections--not the U.N., not the Arab world, nor any coalition of foreign countries--can legitimate a new Iraqi government. It is only the realistic prospect of elections that will motivate the Iraqis themselves to organize political parties, step forward as leaders, and take greater responsibility for their own affairs. It is preparing for these elections that should increasingly be the focus of our efforts.


04-25-04, 01:43 PM
If we make progress in solving these four problems, and if we get through the two elections outlined by President Bush, we should not kid ourselves about what will emerge at the end of the process. The new Iraqi state will be more legitimate than any other state in the Arab world, but it will also likely be very weak and dependent on outside assistance. It may be an Islamic Republic, in which religion plays a more significant role than the U.S. would like; its armed forces may be a hodgepodge of militias that will crack apart under stress; it will likely face a continuing violent insurgency fed by outside terrorists; its writ is unlikely to extend to important parts of Iraq.

Thus if part of the vision being offered to the American people is the prospect that we will be able to disengage militarily from Iraq in less than two years, the administration should think again. It will be extremely difficult to stick to the timetable outlined by the president, and even if the U.S. do it will have big lingering commitments. The American public should not be blindsided about the total costs of the reconstruction, as it was about the costs of the war itself. For all of the reasons offered by President Bush, it is absolutely critical that America stay the course and ensure that Iraq becomes a stable, democratic country.

Mr. Fukuyama, a professor at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins, is the author, most recently, of "State-Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century," forthcoming from Cornell.



04-25-04, 10:01 PM
Iraqi insurgency causes spike in number of wounded Americans

Combat injuries rise
by 595 in two weeks

WASHINGTON - The number of American troops wounded in Iraq soared in the past two weeks as the insurgency flared in south-central Iraq and in the Sunni Triangle north and west of Baghdad.

The Pentagon announced Friday in its weekly casualty report that 3,864 troops have been wounded in action since the war began in March 2003, an increase of 595 from two weeks earlier.

The U.S. military death toll as of Friday stood at 707, according to the Pentagon's count. At least 100 have been killed this month, the highest total for any month since the U.S.-led invasion began. Most deaths were in the early part of April; about 25 have died in the past two weeks.

The Pentagon has announced the identities of 99 of those killed this month. It does not identify the wounded.

As the toll on U.S. forces has mounted this month, most public attention has focused on the deaths. Less has been reported on the wounded, in part because the Pentagon has stopped providing daily updates and does not give details on the types or severity of wounds.
The only distinction the Pentagon makes in its public reports is between the number of wounded who are returned to duty within three days and those who are not. In the past two weeks, the number of wounded who returned to duty rose by 257 and the number who did not rose by 338.

The number wounded since April 1 is approaching 900, far beyond the 200 to 300 wounded in most other months of the conflict. Last month, 291 were wounded in action. The highest monthly total before April was 413 in October, according to the Pentagon's Directorate for Information Operations and Reports.

The Pentagon's figures do not include troops who are injured in accidents or felled by illness.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday that regardless of how well U.S. troops may be trained, the kind of conflict they are fighting in Iraq is bound to take a heavy toll. He singled out the Marines, saying they consider themselves well-trained to fight in urban areas; Marines have been fighting recently in and around Fallujah.

"It doesn't mean that you're going to be able to live through that in a perfect way without people being killed or without people being wounded, and the tragedy of the reality we live in is that that's happening," he said.

Some of the more seriously wounded are treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and at the Army's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

In its most recent report, Walter Reed said it had received 33 new battle casualties from Iraq last week. All arrived on medical evacuation flights from Landstuhl. Walter Reed has treated 2,976 patients from the Iraq war since March 2003, of which 585 were listed as battle casualties.

Many of the U.S. combat wounds have been inflicted by homemade bombs, which the military calls improvised explosive devices and which often are hidden along roadways used by military convoys.

Since the insurgency intensified, starting March 31, many of the wounds have come in gunfights, particularly in and around the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in the volatile Sunni Triangle. Insurgents fire rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and small arms.

By far most of the battle wounds have happened since President George W. Bush declared an end to major combat operations on May 1. Since that date more than 2,700 have been wounded in action, of which 109 were women and more than half were lower-ranking enlisted soldiers.

According to a Pentagon breakdown by age group, 579 troops age 21 and below were wounded between May 1 and April 8, the latest date for which such figures are publicly available. A total of 669 troops were ages 22 to 24; 703 were ages 25 to 30; 353 were ages 31 to 35; and 327 were over 35. The Pentagon said ages were not yet available for 104 of the wounded.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/News/Nation/C9CF4BFC804AD82A86256E8000213433?OpenDocument&Headline=Iraqi+insurgency+causes+spike+in+number+o f+wounded+Americans&highlight=2%2Cmarines


04-26-04, 03:56 PM
What we need to do is quit listening to the "experts" and just do what Marines do. It works every time.