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  1. #1

    Cool U.S. Attacks Targets In Iraq

    U.S. Attacks Targets In Iraq
    Associated Press
    December 21, 2004

    BAGHDAD, Iraq - A U.S. jet bombed a suspected insurgent target in central Iraq on Tuesday, as gunmen assassinated an Iraqi nuclear scientist north of Baghdad and a pipeline fire cut oil exports to Turkey.

    Elsewhere, five American soldiers and an Iraqi civilian were wounded when the Humvee they were traveling in was hit by a car bomb near Hawija, 150 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

    The bloodshed came a day after Iraq's interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi blamed the upsurge of violence on a campaign by insurgents to foment sectarian civil war as well as derail legislative elections set for Jan. 30.

    Allawi said the mainly Sunni Muslim insurgents, blamed for Sunday's bombings in the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, want to "create ethnic and religious tensions, problems and conflicts ... to destroy the unity of this country."

    The coordinated bombings killed 67 people and injured almost 200 in one of the bloodiest attacks on civilians this year.

    Early Tuesday, a U.S. aircraft engaged an "enemy position" with precision-guided missiles west of Baghdad, the military said.

    Hamdi Al-Alosi, a doctor in a hospital in the city of Hit, said four people were killed and seven injured in the strike. He said the attack caused damage to several cars and two buildings.

    The U.S. military spokesman could not confirm the casualties.

    In Baqouba, a city 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, unidentified assailants shot dead an Iraqi nuclear scientist as he was on his way to work, witnesses said.

    Taleb Ibrahim al-Daher, a professor at Diyala University, was killed as he drove over a bridge on the Khrisan river. His car swerved and plummeted into the water.

    And in northern Iraq, insurgents set ablaze a major pipeline used to ship oil to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, a principal export route for Iraqi oil, an official with the North Oil CO. said Tuesday.

    Firefighters were on the scene, 70 miles southwest of Kirkuk, trying to extinguish the fire.

    Insurgents have often targeted Iraq's oil infrastructure, repeatedly cutting exports and denying the country much-needed reconstruction money.

    On Monday, thousands of mourners turned out for funerals in Najaf and Karbala for the victims of the car bombing attacks.

    "These attacks are designed to stop the political process from taking place in Iraq," Allawi said. He added that his administration would not be deterred despite expecting more strikes before the Jan. 30 elections - the first free vote in Iraq since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1958.

    The worst attack on Shiite Muslims came on March 2 when at the start of the mourning period, Ashoura, simultaneous explosions ripped through crowds of worshippers at shrines in Baghdad and Karbala, killing 181.

    Shiite Muslims, who make up around 60 percent of Iraq's people, have been strong supporters of the electoral process, which they expect to reverse the longtime domination of Iraq's Sunni minority. The insurgency is believed to draw most of its support from Sunnis, who provided much of Saddam Hussein's former Baath Party leadership.

    Shiite officials and clerics blamed Sunni militants for Sunday's bombings. The strikes appeared designed to cause heavy casualties, and provoke reprisals by Shiites.

    In Washington, President Bush agreed Monday that violence remains a significant problem in Iraq and said U.S.-trained Iraqi troops are not ready to take over security duties. He also cautioned that the election is only the beginning of a long process toward democracy.

    "I certainly don't expect the process to be trouble-free," he said at a news conference.

    And in New York, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan strongly condemned Sunday's violence and called on Iraqis "to come together in a spirit of national reconciliation," U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

    "No cause can justify the killings of innocent civilians and the cold-blooded murder of election workers," Eckhard said.


  2. #2
    Vets Urged To Consider Counseling
    Miami Herald
    December 21, 2004

    Government agencies are trying to bring in out of the cold veterans all across the country who need counseling for issues that include post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Dr. Daniella David, director of the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Program at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Miami, has a key part in the effort. This is no small task. The readjustment and mental health issues of today's veteran are unique, says David, whose targets are veterans in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, Fla. And in many cases they are compounded by the perception that a stigma will attach to seeking help.

    The peculiarities of the new veteran are a product of the all-volunteer military. Adapting to the draft-free times, this force blends young whippersnappers, gung-ho but knowing little about life, with an increasing number of women and mature National Guard and Reserve troops. (The average age of a Vietnam vet was 19, compared with 24 for today's vet.)

    These weekend warriors - some in their 30s, 40s and 50s - leave behind the comforts of family and jobs and enter a regimented milieu. They are forced to regain something close to youthful vigor to survive on the battlefield. And when they get back home, they find difficulty coping.


    "Most of the older veterans are coming home to spouses and children whom they haven't seen in a year or more," David says. "They have to readjust to getting out of soldier mode to being home. And that's stressful, even for combat-support troops, because they are constantly in harm's way, too."

    Unlike his counterparts from past wars, the Iraq veteran faces physical and psychological traumas that spring from an urban battleground that combines international politics and guerrilla warfare.

    Some 2.4 percent of the 9,700-plus wounded during combat in the 20-month Iraq war are amputees. Chuck Scoville, amputee program manager at Walter Reed, told a congressional committee that the number is twice the rate of both world wars. In addition, 350 psychiatric casualties have been admitted to Walter Reed; 20 percent have PTSD. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, one in six Iraq war veterans suffers from a stress-related disorder.

    In the Vietnam War, a 10-year venture, one-third of the 2.4 million troops were diagnosed with PTSD, but the disorder was recognized seven years after U.S. troops withdrew in 1973. So proportionately, and factoring in the time frame and troop strength, the Iraq war may be producing more amputees and psychiatric cases.

    Early psychiatric intervention, David emphasizes, can prevent long-term consequences. Her flag is being carried by the VA's Outreach Program, the Vet Center and the Defense Department clinic at the VA in Miami-Dade, all of which offer free services with degrees of confidentiality. So far, the Outreach Program has contacted 2,000 veterans in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, 500 of whom have come aboard. Some of the others may have signed up with the Vet Center, which has reached 2,015 veterans and signed up 515.


    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric illness that can occur following life-threatening events such as combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents or personal assaults such as rape. Combat troops who suffer from PTSD often relive some of their experiences through nightmares and flashbacks. They have difficulty sleeping and feel detached or estranged from friends and family. Such symptoms can significantly impair the person's life. Counseling, which could include group therapy, helps the patient cope.


    Figuring sports figures would lift the spirits of war amputees, a Cincinnati man has established a program that arranges meetings between amputees and their favorites players.

    The program, Impact Player Partners, is Dick Lynch's way "to give something back to wounded vets."

    Lynch enlisted the support of Christian Okoye, a former Kansas City Chiefs running back, and Dick Lajoie, chief financial officer of Belcan Corp., an engineering company in Cincinnati.

    "We ask amputees ... who they want to meet," Lynch says. "Then we put the veterans at ease."

    That's how Army Sgt. Brian Wilhelm felt in June when he met his hero, former Chicago Bears Super Bowl quarterback Jim McMahon. Marine Cpl. James Eddie Wright was introduced to Dolphins linebacker Junior Seau. Other sports legends who've chatted with amputees include golf's Arnold Palmer and NASCAR hotshots Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson.


  3. #3
    Blair Visits Baghdad; Explosion Near Mosul

    By MICHAEL McDONOUGH, Associated Press Writer

    BAGHDAD, Iraq - British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) made a surprise visit to Baghdad on Tuesday, urging Iraqis to support national elections and describing violence here as a "battle between democracy and terror."

    Near the northern city of Mosul, meanwhile, a noontime explosion at a U.S. base caused "multiple casualties," the U.S. military said in a brief statement. The cause of the blast at the base, which is home to the Army's Task Force Olympia, was under investigation, it said.

    Blair held talks with Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and Iraqi election officials, whom he called heroes for carrying out their work despite attacks by insurgents. Three members of Iraq (news - web sites)'s election commission were dragged from the car and killed this week in Baghdad.

    "I said to them that I thought they were the heroes of the new Iraq that's being created, because here are people who are risking their lives every day to make sure that the people of Iraq get a chance to decide their own destiny," Blair said during a joint news conference with Allawi.

    Blair, who has paid a political price for going to war in Iraq, defended the role of Britain's 8,000 troops by referring to terrorism.

    "If we defeat it here, we deal it a blow worldwide," he said. "If Iraq is a stable and democratic country, that is good for the Middle East, and what is good for the Middle East, is actually good for the world, including Britain.

    Blair, whose trip to Iraq hadn't been disclosed for security reasons, urged Iraqis to back the Jan. 30 national vote.

    "Whatever people's feelings and beliefs about the removal of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites), and the wisdom of that, there surely is only one side to be on in what is now very clearly a battle between democracy and terror," he said.

    The British leader said that apart from the insurgents' violence, "there is another choice for Iraq: the choice is democracy, the choice is freedom, and our job is to help them get there because that's what they want."

    Allawi said his government was committed to holding the elections as scheduled next month, despite calls for their postponement owing to the violence.

    "We have always expected that the violence would increase as we approach the elections," Allawi said. "We now are on the verge, for the first time in history, of having democracy in action in this country."

    Blair said that as the U.S.-led multinational force, in which British troops are serving, trains and improves the Iraqi security forces, "that brings forward the day that the multinational force can leave" Iraq. The presence of foreign troops in Iraq is strongly opposed across the Arab world.

    Blair flew into the Iraqi capital about 11 a.m. aboard a British military transport aircraft from Jordan. A Royal Air Force Puma helicopter flew from Baghdad airport to the city center, escorted by U.S. Black Hawk helicopters.

    It was Blair's first visit to Baghdad and his third to Iraq since the dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled in April 2003. Blair visited British troops stationed around the southern Iraqi city of Basra in mid-2003 and in January. President Bush (news - web sites) had paid a surprise visit to U.S. troops in Baghdad at Thanksgiving in 2003.

    Blair later flew to Basra, the southern Iraqi city and province where most of Britain's troops are stationed. Britain is the second largest contributor to the multinational force after the United States.

    The British leader was a key supporter of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam. His decision to back the U.S. offensive angered many lawmakers in his governing Labour Party and a large portion of the British public.

    Before meeting Allawi, Blair met the commander of the multinational force, U.S. Army Gen. George W. Casey, and the senior British military officer in Iraq, Lt. Gen. John Kiszely.

    In ongoing violence on Tuesday, a U.S. jet bombed a suspected insurgent target in central Iraq and gunmen assassinated an Iraqi nuclear scientist north of Baghdad.

    Elsewhere, five American soldiers and an Iraqi civilian were wounded when the Humvee they were traveling in was hit by a car bomb near Hawija, 150 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

    The bloodshed came a day after Allawi blamed the upsurge of violence on a campaign by insurgents to foment sectarian civil war as well as derail legislative elections set for Jan. 30.

    Allawi said the mainly Sunni Muslim insurgents, blamed for Sunday's bombings in the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, want to "create ethnic and religious tensions, problems and conflicts ... to destroy the unity of this country."

    The coordinated bombings killed 67 people and injured almost 200 in one of the bloodiest attacks on civilians this year.

    Early Tuesday, a U.S. aircraft engaged an "enemy position" with precision-guided missiles west of Baghdad, the military said.

    Hamdi Al-Alosi, a doctor in a hospital in the city of Hit, said four people were killed and seven injured in the strike. He said the attack caused damage to several cars and two buildings.

    The U.S. military spokesman could not confirm the casualties.

    In Baqouba, a city 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, unidentified assailants shot dead an Iraqi nuclear scientist as he was on his way to work, witnesses said.

    Taleb Ibrahim al-Daher, a professor at Diyala University, was killed as he drove over a bridge on the Khrisan river. His car swerved and plummeted into the water.

    And in northern Iraq, insurgents set ablaze a major pipeline used to ship oil to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, a principal export route for Iraqi oil, an official with the North Oil CO. said Tuesday.

    Firefighters were on the scene, 70 miles southwest of Kirkuk, trying to extinguish the fire.

    Insurgents have often targeted Iraq's oil infrastructure, repeatedly cutting exports and denying the country much-needed reconstruction money.


  4. #4
    Bush: Iraq Bombers 'Are Having an Effect'

    By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent

    WASHINGTON - In a sobering assessment of the Iraq (news - web sites) war, President Bush (news - web sites) acknowledged Monday that Americans' resolve has been shaken by grisly scenes of death and destruction and he pointedly criticized the performance of U.S.-trained Iraqi troops. "No question about it," he said. "The bombers are having an effect."

    At a year-end news conference, the president also refused to say whether his strategy for overhauling Social Security (news - web sites) would entail cutting benefits, raising the retirement age or limiting benefits for wealthier workers. "Don't bother to ask me," Bush said, adding that he would not tip his hand until he starts negotiating with Congress next year.

    Bush declined to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin (news - web sites) despite concerns that he has strengthened authoritarian controls and backtracked on post-Soviet democratic reforms. Bush said he has a good personal relationship with Putin and "I intend to keep it that way." The United States and Russia have disagreements, the president added, but he said the relationship is good.

    The president also offered a warm testimonial for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in the face of spreading expressions of no-confidence by GOP senators. Rumsfeld appears "rough and gruff," Bush said, but "he's a good, decent man. He's a caring fellow."

    For 53 minutes, Bush fielded questions on international and domestic affairs. It was his 17th formal news conference, held one day before he flies to the presidential retreat at Camp David for a vacation that will stretch into early next year and include a stay at his Texas ranch.

    Bush spoke a day after the deadliest attacks in Iraq since July — killing at least 54 people in Najaf and at least 13 in Karbala — and six weeks before Iraqis vote for a transitional assembly that will choose a president and a government and draft a permanent constitution. American newspapers showed chilling pictures of rebels in the heart of Baghdad executing election workers in cold blood.

    "And so the American people are taking a look at Iraq and wondering whether the Iraqis are eventually going to be able to fight off these bombers and killers," Bush said in perhaps his clearest expression of frustration with Iraqi forces. Bush's strategy calls for American troops to protect Iraq while local police and soldiers are trained to do the job themselves, eventually allowing the United States to withdraw.

    "Now I would call the results mixed in terms of standing up Iraqi units who are willing to fight," Bush said in a candid assessment. "There have been some cases where, when the heat got on, they left the battlefield. That's unacceptable. Iraq will never secure itself if they have troops that, when the heat gets on, they leave the battlefield." What is needed, he said, is a better military command structure.

    Polls show an erosion in Americans' confidence that a stable, democratic government will be established in Iraq. "Polls change. Polls go up, polls go down," Bush said.

    He said he understands why Americans have doubts about Iraq's ability. "They're looking on your TV screen and seeing indiscriminate bombings, where thousands of innocent — or hundreds of innocent Iraqis are getting killed ..." But Bush said those pictures do not reflect that 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces are relatively stable and that small businesses are starting up. "Life is better now than it was under Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)."

    "But no question about it. The bombers are having an effect ... They're trying to shake the will of the Iraqi people and, frankly, trying to shake the will of the American people."

    Bush warned that insurgents would try to delay Iraq's elections, scheduled for Jan. 30, and intimidate the people. "I certainly don't expect the process to be trouble-free," the president said. "Yet I am confident of the result. I'm confident that terrorists will fail, the elections will go forward and Iraq will be a democracy...." He said he could not predict when American forces could come home.

    He renewed his warning to Syria and Iran against "meddling" in Iraq's political process. "I meant it. And hopefully those governments heard what I said," Bush said, without threatening any consequences.

    The president expressed fresh hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, saying "we've got a good chance to get it done." He welcomed efforts by British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) to go to the region this week and make plans for a conference to help develop a Palestinian state.

    Bush said he favored diplomatic approaches — rather than regime changes — in Iran and North Korea (news - web sites), two nations that the United States have troubling nuclear programs. He said diplomacy "must be the first choice, always the first choice of an administration trying to solve an issue of ... nuclear armament."

    On Capitol Hill, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., disputed Bush's assertion that Social Security is in crisis. She said the Congressional Budget Office (news - web sites) has concluded that Social Security is secure for nearly 50 years without any changes. She challenged Bush to give Congress "a clear and honest accounting of the difficult trade-offs among benefit cuts, tax increases and a massive escalation of record deficits."


    On the Net:

    White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov

    Defense Department: http://www.dod.gov

    Social Security: http://www.ssa.gov


  5. #5
    60 Killed In Iraq Car Blasts
    Associated Press
    December 20, 2004

    NAJAF, Iraq - Car bombs tore through a Najaf funeral procession and Karbala's main bus station Sunday, killing at least 60 people and wounding more than 120 in the two Shiite holy cities. In Baghdad, gunmen launched a bold ambush, executing three election officials, in their campaign to disrupt next month's parliamentary ballot.

    The deadly strikes highlighted the apparent ability of the insurgents to launch attacks almost at will, despite confident assessments by U.S. military commanders that they had regained the initiative after last month's campaign against militants in Fallujah.

    In the Baghdad attack, dozens of guerrillas - unmasked and apparently unafraid to show their faces - ran rampant over Haifa Street, a main downtown thoroughfare. They dragged the three election workers from a car, lay them on the street in the middle of morning traffic and shot them point-blank.

    The bombings in Najaf and Karbala, which Shiite officials suspected were coordinated, were the deadliest attacks since July. They were a bloody reminder that the Shiite heartland in the south - not just the Sunni regions of central and northern Iraq - is vulnerable to the mainly Sunni insurgents aiming to wreck the vote.

    Shiites, who make up around 60 percent of Iraq's population, have been strong supporters of the election, which they expect will reverse the longtime domination of Iraq by the Sunni Arab minority. The insurgency is believed to include many Sunnis who have lost prestige and privilege since Saddam Hussein's fall.

    The persistent insurgent violence has already raised questions over whether residents of central and northern Iraq will be able to vote. If attacks scare away voters in the south as well, it would further undermine the first national ballot since Saddam was ousted.

    In a message passed on by lawyers who visited him in his cell last week, Saddam denounced the elections as an American plot.

    "President Saddam recommended to the Iraqi people to be careful of this election, which will lead to dividing the Iraqi people and their land," Ziad al-Khasawneh, who heads Saddam's legal team, said in Jordan. An Iraqi member of the team met Saddam in detention on Thursday.

    Saddam said the elections "aimed at splitting Iraq into sectarian and religious divisions and weakening the (Arab) nation," said Bushra Khalil, another member of the defense team.

    The bombings in Najaf and Karbala, predominantly Shiite cities 45 miles from each other south of Baghdad, came just over an hour apart. The first was a suicide blast that ripped through minibuses parked at the entrance to Karbala's main bus station, followed by a car bomb in a central Najaf square crowded with people watching a funeral procession attended by the city police chief and provincial governor.

    The Najaf car bomb detonated in central Maidan Square where a large crowd of people had gathered for the funeral procession of a tribal sheik - about 100 yards from where Gov. Adnan al-Zurufi and police chief Ghalib al-Jazaari were standing. They were unhurt.

    Hospital officials said 47 people were killed and at least 90 others wounded in the blast, which went off about 400 yards from the Imam Ali Shrine, the holiest Shiite site in Iraq

    "A car bomb exploded near us," al-Zurufi said. "I saw about 10 people killed." Al-Jazaari believed he and al-Zurufi were the targets of the attack.

    The blast sheered facades off nearby buildings and brought down part of a two-floor building. Dozens of local men clambered over the rubble, digging for survivors.

    Police and Iraqi National Guard troops on Monday set up checkpoints throughout Najaf, and roads leading to the city's holy Imam Ali shrine were blocked, apparently out of fear of repeat attacks.

    The Karbala blast destroyed about 10 passenger minibuses and set ablaze five cars outside the crowded Bab Baghdad bus station. Hospital officials said 13 people were killed and 33 injured.

    It was Karbala's second bombing in a week. On Wednesday, a bomb exploded at the city's gold-domed Imam Hussein Shrine, killing eight people and wounding 40 in an apparent attempt to kill a top aide to Iraq's most powerful Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

    Also Sunday, insurgents detonated two roadside bombs and a car bomb targeting U.S. forces in the volatile city of Mosul 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, in three separate attacks during a two-hour period. Three soldiers were wounded in one roadside bomb blast, while there were no casualties from the others, according to military spokesman Lt. Col. Paul Hastings.

    An official with the leading Shiite political party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution, said the bombings in Karbala and Najaf Sunday were "no doubt" linked. "These operations aim at driving the Shiites away from the political process and toward acts of revenge to undermine the national unity," Jalal Eddin al-Sagheer said. "The whole issue has to do with elections."

    Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Said al-Hakim, one of Najaf's top four Shiite clerics along with al-Sistani, denounced the bombings, saying they aimed to "create a disturbance in security and incite sectarian sedition" and that God will "avenge and compensate" the victims.

    The Baghdad ambush was the latest attack to target Iraqi officials working to organize the elections.

    During morning rush hour, about 30 armed insurgents, hurling hand grenades and firing guns, swarmed onto Haifa Street, the scene of repeated clashes between U.S. forces and insurgents. They stopped a car carrying five employees of the Iraqi Electoral Commission and dragged out three of them. The other two escaped.

    Pistol-wielding guerrillas forced the officials to kneel in the middle of Haifa Street, while cars behind them braked to a halt, with some panicked drivers trying to reverse away. One of the officials was punched by the gunmen as he lay on the ground, while another knelt nearby, before the militants shot all three at point-blank range.

    The gunmen then set fire to the officials' car.

    The commission condemned the attack as a "terrorist ambush."

    A police official said the ferocity of the clashes prevented police from nearing the area. The attackers, most of whom wore no masks or scarves over their faces, set fire to at least one other vehicle before melting away as U.S. and Iraqi National Guard forces cordoned off the area.

    Sunni elder statesman Adnan Pachachi, who is running in the Jan. 30 elections, said the Haifa Street violence proved there should be a "short postponement" of the national polls to address the concerns of senior Sunni clerics demanding a boycott.

    Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a pro-American secular Shiite, said an increase in attacks ahead of the elections had been anticipated.

    "For sure we expect strikes and we hope the eyes of our people will be open to inform authorities and help them in doing their job," told Al-Iraqiya TV.

    Meanwhile, masked insurgents claiming to represent three Iraqi militant groups released a videotape showing what they said were 10 abducted Iraqis who had been working for an American security and reconstruction company.

    The militants said they represent the Mujahedeen Army, the Black Banner Brigade and the Mutassim Bellah Brigade, all previously unknown groups. Nine blindfolded hostages were seen lined up against a stone wall and a 10th was lying in a bed, apparently wounded.

    The kidnappers said they would kill the hostages if the Washington-based company, Sandi Group, does not leave Iraq.


  6. #6
    This is a letter from Col JK Miller USMC (Ret) to the editor of the Marine Times.

    TO: Editor the Marine Corps Times.

    After reading your editorial questioning Secretary Rumsfeld, I would suggest you leave the second guessing and snide spurious commentary to the New York and Los Angeles Times, both of which are established bastions of hysteria and hyperbole in journalism. However, if you must criticize the administration, at least have the courtesy to demonstrate to your readership that you have done a modicum of homework on your subject.

    For example, neither the soldier who was fed the question for Mr. Rumsfeld nor any of his unit (nor the reporter for that matter) has experienced the alleged need "to dig through local landfill to up-armor our vehicles." The presumption that the impressions of a battalion of Tennessee National Guardsmen which yet to deploy to combat is a reliable example of our fighting men's disaffection with the Department of Defense would stretch the imagination of the National Enquirer or the Village Voice.

    Secondly, the HUMV was never meant to be armored instead, it is a general purpose vehicle designed to replace the JEEP. The unique character of the insurgency in Iraq necessitated modifying the HUMV along with other vehicles as deemed necessary by commanders on the scene. No one could have foreseen this requirement and, uneducated opinions to the contrary, the process of hardening the vehicles is proceeding rapidly and on schedule commensurate with the budgeting, procurement, testing and manufacture thereof.

    Finally, your characterization of Mr. Rumsfeld as "nonplused" is simply a dog which will not hunt. To any objective viewer, his answers were not only extremely forthright and factual, but also concise and professional, neither sugarcoated nor vague but exactly what would be expected of one in his position of responsibility.

    Hindsight is a luxury available to those on the sidelines but denied to those who are accountable for their actions.

    J. K. Miller Colonel USMC Retired
    3300 Mexico Gravel Road
    Columbia, MO 65202 573 474 0534

    Please feel free to publish my name and address along with this letter. Thank you.


  7. #7
    Artillerymen celebrate St. Barbara's Day in Iraq

    by Lance Cpl. T. J. Kaemmerer
    1st FSSG

    CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq -- Staff Sgt. Carl E. Chambers shared a night of celebration and storytelling, with fellow artillerymen of 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment during the St. Barbara's Day Ball, held here Dec. 4.

    During the celebration, Chambers, the E Battery Company gunnery sergeant, along with three other Marines and sailors, was inducted into the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara.

    "It was a complete surprise," said Chambers, a 36-year-old native of Earlsboro, Okla. "I can't believe everyone kept it quiet."

    The Order is a traditional way to recognize those who have made a significant contribution to the artillery community.

    The St. Barbara's Day Ball is the artillery community's annual recognition of their patroness saint, and is celebrated throughout the Marine Corps, Army and other organizations claiming artillery assets.

    With hostilities continuing throughout Iraq, the artillerymen of 2/10 enjoyed a measure of normalcy as they celebrated St. Barbara's Day.

    According to an early seventh century legend, St. Barbara was a pagan who converted to Christianity. When she announced her faith, she was sentenced to death. Her father stepped forward to carry out her execution himself. As the legend holds, when Dioscorus, her father, lifted his sword to behead his daughter, a flash of lightning flew down from the heavens, turning him to ashes with "first-round accuracy."

    Barbara is believed to be the representative of those about to die without the sacraments. She is the patron saint of groups including fireworks makers, artillerymen, architects, founders, stonemasons, gravediggers, armorers, gunsmiths, and miners. She protects those in danger from thunderstorms, fire and sudden death. St. Barbara became the patroness of the artillerymen because many early artillery pieces blew up rather than firing their projectile.

    In the Marine Corps, the ball is a time when artillerymen recognize the achievements made in their field, share camaraderie and professional growth.

    "Here (in Iraq) we're doing what we've trained to do our whole career. That adds so much more meaning to this celebration," said Lt. Col. Terence P. Brennan, 2/10's commanding officer.

    A Camp Lejeune, N.C.,-based unit, 2/10 provides base security for the 1st Force Service Support Group in Iraq.

    Though they're not manning the big guns, 2/10 is still an artillery unit, and the St. Barbara's Day Ball is a time honored tradition.

    "In the states the ceremony is a lot more formal," explained Brennan, a 44-year-old native of Little Compton, R.I.

    The ceremony opened with a humorous re-enactment of the genesis of artillery, and featured a video skit, modeled after the 'COPS' television show, humorously detailing 2/10's work in Iraq as provisional infantrymen. The event also included an awards ceremony and the mixing of the "artillery punch" - a concoction of off the wall ingredients to represent different facets of the Marine Corps and patriotism.

    According to Brennan, each ball is a special opportunity to celebrate the artillery field with laughter and respect for what has been done by artillerymen past and present.

    "I feel very honored and humble," said Chambers, "Its nights like this that make me proud to be a Marine. Even in a combat zone, we can come together as brothers in arms to celebrate artillery and the Marine Corps."


  8. #8
    Iraqi Electoral Commission Presses Ahead After Killings
    and JOHN F. BURNS

    Published: December 20, 2004

    BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 20 - A day after three of its workers were gunned down on a busy Baghdad street, Iraq's electoral commission today pressed ahead with plans to hold the vote for a national assembly by choosing the order in which 256 parties and other entities will appear on the ballot.


    As Iraqi officials announced they had detained 50 people for questioning over one of two bombings that killed more than 60 people on Sunday, both the Iraqi government and the Bush administration vowed that Iraq's historic elections would take place as planned on Jan. 30.

    The two governments are effectively pinning their hopes for the election's success on whether millions of Iraqis will brave violence and intimidation by insurgents and go to the polling stations.

    The work of the commission today resembled a national lottery, with officials choosing numbered balls out of a drum to determine where the parties would appear on a ballot that could run to many pages.

    "Of course, many of them became unhappy if they were given a place at the end of the list," Adel al-Lami, a chief electoral officer, said in a telephone interview. "People are inclined to choose the first places."

    "But now it is up to the candidates to make themselves known to the people," Mr. Lami said.

    The preparation for January's voting has been a deadly undertaking. In the heart of Baghdad on Sunday, about 30 insurgents hurling grenades and firing machine guns pulled three election officials from their car in the midst of morning traffic and killed them with shots to the head.

    Unlike some of the other attacks aimed at polling stations, the Iraqi government and its forces and foreign forces, the attackers did not even bother to cover their faces.

    The Baghdad killings came just days into the six-week election campaign and on the same day that suicide bombings in Najaf and in Karbala killed up to 67 people.

    Fifty suspects have been detained for questioning in Najaf, the governor, Adnan al-Zorfi, told a news conference today.

    "Some of them are locals from Najaf, and the others are not," he said. "One of them is Arab."

    "This criminal action will not affect the preparations for the elections and the democratic process," he said.

    In new violence today, gunmen killed two members of a political party headed by Saddam Hussein's former military intelligence chief in Samarra, a Sunni Muslim city in northern Iraq.

    Taken together, Sunday's attacks represented the second-worst daily civilian death toll from insurgent violence in Iraq since the American military occupation transferred formal sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government nearly six months ago.

    The worst attack was on July 28, when as many as 70 people were killed by a suicide bomber near a police recruiting center in the city of Baquba, north of Baghdad.

    The attacks raised the specter of exactly the kind of violence that American and Iraqi officials have been hoping to minimize ahead of assembly elections on Jan. 30 that are a key part of the American-inspired blueprint for democracy in Iraq.

    Mr. Lami said that they have increased security for election workers by strengthening the police presence and giving them more weapons.

    "We will do our best," he said. "We have to coordinate with the Iraqi police and national guard. We need big plans to keep security for the elections."

    The bombings in Najaf and Karbala seemed calculated to cause maximum loss of life and a wave of anger among Shiites, who constitute about 60 percent of Iraq's 25 million people.

    In Karbala, a suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle amid minibuses at the entrance to the city's bus terminal. In Najaf, a car bomb exploded in a central square crowded with people watching a tribal leader's funeral procession, among them the provincial governor and the city's police chief, both of whom escaped unhurt.

    Accounts filed by an Iraqi employee of The New York Times and Western news agencies told of residents pulling bodies from the rubble of shops around Maidan Square in the heart of Najaf's Old City, about 100 miles south of Baghdad.

    An A.P. report today put the death toll in Najaf at 54 and the number of wounded at 142. The blast occurred a few hundred yards from the Imam Ali Shrine, one of the most sacred in Shiite Islam, which was the center of an American-led offensive in August that cleared the city of rebels loyal to the rebel Shiite cleric, Moktada al-Sadr, but at a heavy cost in civilian lives and damage to buildings near the shrine.

    In Karbala, about 50 miles north of Najaf, the bombing took place within a short walk of the Imam Hussein Shrine, another sacred site, outside of which another bomb exploded last Wednesday that killed 12 people and wounded dozens of others, including a close aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most powerful Shiite cleric.

    Ali al-Ardawi, an assistant to the director of Al Hussein Hospital, said on Sunday that 14 people were killed and 52 wounded. An A.P. report today said at least 13 people were killed and 33 were wounded.

    Shiite religious and political leaders said it was clear that Sunni insurgents were responsible.

    "They are trying to ignite a sectarian civil war and prevent elections from going ahead on time," said Muhammad Bahr al-Uloum, a moderate cleric who has worked with American officials to smooth the way for the elections. He added: "They have failed before, and they will fail again. The Shiites are committed not to respond with violence, which will only lead to more violence. We are determined on elections, as Ayatollah Sistani has made clear."

    A similar message came from a leader in the powerful alliance of Shiite religious parties that entered the campaign under the patronage of Ayatollah Sistani, who has unrivaled influence among religious Shiites. Haidar al-Ubadi, a senior official in the Dawa party, one of the alliance's most important constituents, said Najaf and Karbala were singled out because of their symbolism, and because elections had been expected to run smoothly there after several months of relative quiet.

    Mr. Ubadi blamed Sunni insurgents of the fundamentalist Wahhabi sect, who have been identified by American military intelligence as a core insurgency group. The Wahhabis' main stronghold, American officials believe, runs from the so-called Triangle of Death south of Baghdad up the Euphrates River into Anbar Province, where Wahhabi groups linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant who is America's most-wanted man in Iraq, maintained their headquarters until recently in Falluja. From this area, it is barely an hour's drive to Karbala, and not much farther to Najaf.

    "The Wahhabis are being fed intelligence from the Baathists to carry out this slaughter," Mr. Ubadi said, referring to Iraq's governing party under Saddam Hussein. "We will hand them victory if we respond in kind."


  9. #9
    5 U.S. Troops, Iraqi Hurt In Bombing
    Associated Press
    December 21, 2004

    BAGHDAD, Iraq - Five U.S. soldiers and one Iraqi civilian were injured in a car bomb explosion north of Baghdad, the military said Tuesday.

    The five Task Force Danger soldiers and the civilian were traveling in a Humvee on Monday near Hawija, some 150 miles north of Baghdad, when the blast occurred, the military said.

    A suspected insurgent was detained at the site of the attack, the statement added.

    The injured were are in stable condition, it said.

    Also Monday, U.S. Marines from the 1st Marine Division seized several weapons caches in and near the city of Al Amirya, southeast of Baghdad, during clearing operations, the military said

    The caches included mortar shells, RPG rounds and five rocket launchers. The 1st Marine Division will conduct a controlled detonation in order to destroy the weapons and munitions, the statement said.

    It also said that five Iraqis were detained for questioning at different locations in Iraq Monday.


  10. #10
    24 dead in attack on U.S. base in Iraq
    Islamist Web sites post group's claim of responsibility
    Tuesday, December 21, 2004 Posted: 2:14 PM EST (1914 GMT)

    MOSUL, Iraq (CNN) -- A lunchtime attack on a U.S. military mess hall in northern Iraq on Tuesday killed 24 people, including Americans and Iraqis, said Lt. Col. Paul Hastings at Camp Marez.

    Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, commander of Task Force Olympia in Mosul, said the attack -- a large, single explosion -- wounded more than 60 people.

    The dead include U.S. military personnel, U.S. contractors, foreign contractors and members of the Iraqi army, Ham said.

    A breakdown of the casualties was not immediately available, and Ham said the incident was being investigated.

    Jeremy Redmon, a Richmond, Virginia, Times-Dispatch reporter embedded with troops at the base, said the attack "knocked soldiers off their feet and out of their seats," The Associated Press reported. (Full story)

    Members of the Richmond-based 276th Engineer Battalion were among hundreds of people inside the tent, according to the AP.

    Islamist Web sites posted a claim of responsibility from a group calling itself Jaish Ansar Al-Sunnah for an attack on "a joint US-Iraqi Ghazlani camp near Mosul at 12 noon Tuesday 21/12/2004." The Associated Press said local Iraqis refer to the camp similarly.

    The message said that after the attack, "two helicopters were on the scene to airlift the killed and wounded." The message said the group shot video of the operation to be released later.

    CNN could not confirm the authenticity of the claim.

    During a White House briefing following Tuesday's attack, spokesman Scott McClellan said President Bush "mourns the loss of life and prays for the families of those who were killed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families."

    CNN personnel who have visited the base said the dining area is a tent-like facility with no hardened protection -- and that soldiers had specifically raised concerns that they could be targeted by insurgents at meal time.

    One had told CNN it was only a matter of time before there was an attack on the mess hall.

    Lt. Col. Hastings said: "There is a level of vulnerability when you go in there, and you don't feel like there's a hard roof over your head. And when there's mortar attacks and explosions that happen, there is a level of vulnerability."

    Overall the base has good protection, Hastings said, and a new dining facility is under construction.

    Pentagon officials said about 8,500 U.S. troops are in the Mosul area, 3,500 of them from a Stryker Brigade based in Fort Lewis, Washington.

    Mosul has been a site of repeated attacks in recent weeks. When the U.S. military launched a major offensive in Falluja in November, there was concern some insurgents had fled to Mosul and would launch attacks from there. The U.S. military recently conducted an offensive to try to flush out insurgents in Mosul, but the violence has continued.

    Tuesday's attack came shortly after British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in Baghdad on a surprise visit to Iraq.

    During a news conference with Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, Blair called the insurgency "a battle between democracy and terror," in advance of Iraqi elections set for January 30.

    "On the one side you have people who desperately want to make the democratic process work ... and on the other side, people who are killing and intimidating and trying to destroy a better future for Iraq." (Full story)

    Iraqi voters are expected to choose a 275-member transitional national assembly. That body will put together a permanent constitution that will go before voters in a referendum. If the law is approved, there will be elections for a permanent government by the end of next year.

    On Sunday, nearly 70 people died in car bomb attacks in the Shiite Muslim holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. (Full story)

    During a Monday news conference in Washington, President Bush said "terrorists will attempt to delay the elections, to intimidate people in their country, to disrupt the democratic process in any way they can."

    Still, he added, "I'm confident that terrorists will fail, the elections will go forward and Iraq will be a democracy that reflects the values and traditions of its people." (


  11. #11
    U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Durrell D. Coleman
    Motivation, High Morale Keeps Marine Ready for Anything as He Trains for an Upcoming Deployment to Iraq

    MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER, TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. Dec. 13, 2004 — Sighting on the mounds of dirt in front of him, the Dinwiddie, Va., native eagerly awaits for targets to appear so he can fire his machine gun, eliminating targets as quickly as possible.

    Motivation and high morale keeps U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Durrell D. Coleman, a field wireman attached to the Personal Security Detail of Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, ready for anything as he trains for an upcoming deployment to Iraq.

    “Having high morale helps keep us focused on our jobs,” the 2003 Dinwiddie High School graduate explained.

    With a cool, early morning breeze blowing around them, Coleman and his fellow Marines mounted the 7-ton vehicles ready to begin their training.

    He began singing along with a few other Marines as others looked on in amazement at the sight they saw. Singing all different kinds of songs is a normal routine for them, whether doing regular duties or in the field training.

    Smiling, Coleman said, “Singing and making music have always been some of my favorite things to do.”

    The Marines let their vocal cords rest as they arrived at the squad defense range. They were briefed on what training they would be participating in and how they will use it in Iraq.

    The Marines with combat experience and those who have deployed before explained how important the training is by citing personal experiences.

    Coleman and the other Marines were issued rounds to begin the first course of firing. After receiving their training and a safety briefs, the two relays went through the course twice while facing three different scenarios each time. Coleman fired an M16 A4 Service Rifle in the first two relays. After all relays were finished, he was one of 20 Marines who fired the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.

    “I am more comfortable firing the [Squad Automatic Weapon] than anything else,” Coleman said. “It just feels more natural to me when I’m firing machine guns.”

    Coleman was sent to Haiti with his battalion just shortly after he arrived at Camp Lejeune. He was fresh out of his job training and not too familiar with his job responsibilities while in a deployed environment. He was able to learn from the situations he faced and from the guidance he received from his superiors.

    U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Darrell D. Coleman fires an M 249 Squad Automatic Weapon at stationary and moving targets while training at a squad defense range at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. The Dinwiddie, Va., native prepares with his fellow Marines for their upcoming deployment to Iraq in support of the Global War on Terrorism. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Athanasios L. Genos

    Coleman met the battalion chaplain in Haiti while on post. Establishing a good working relationship with Navy Lt. j.g. Robert E. Bradshaw, he was able to go to him with any problems or discouragements. Talking with the chaplain provided Coleman with a way to keep his morale high during their deployment.

    “Just having the chaplain there to talk to, helped me with morale and keeping my motivation high,” Coleman explained.

    “If you don’t know the Marines and sailors on their regular days, you can’t know then on their down days,” Bradshaw explained.

    The experiences from Haiti have helped prepare Coleman for what he will face when deployed to Iraq.

    “While in Haiti, I was given the chance to experience my job in the field and know what I would be facing in future deployments,” Coleman explained. “I went on convoys, patrols and provided security while I was there.”

    The squad defense training, along with all previous training done during the evolution has also given him more confidence to complete his mission as a rifleman and field wireman.

    All the experience Coleman gained in Haiti, along with his extensive predeployment training has prepared him for his departure from the comforts and security of home to Iraq with his battalion.


  12. #12

  13. #13
    Published: 19-Dec-2004
    By: Mat Precey

    Tim Lambon is an award winning cameraman and journalist working for Channel 4 News.

    In November 2004, along with International Editor Lindsey Hilsum, he spent three weeks embedded with a unit attached to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force as it took part in the assault on Fallujah.

    A former soldier, Tim filmed and edited a series of powerful reports for Channel 4 News documenting one of the most controversial, and dangerous, military operations of recent times.

    His experiences with the Marines offers a rare insight into the way America fights its wars.

    What was your unit?

    The unit was an armoured assault vehicle unit. They were armoured personnel carriers, specifically designed to take Marines from ship to shore and not actually go much further into the hinterland but of course now they find themselves nearly two years later way up into the Sunni Triangle in the middle of Iraq. These vehicles have been equipped and re-equipped and maintained but they are essentially amphibious vehicles. They were used by the Marines as their main lift force, in other words, they would take up to 20 armed Marines in the back, who are essentially infantry soldiers, and move them into a position for the start of a fight where they would either dismount and move on either side of the vehicle and the vehicle would then supply heavy fire support with its turret gun or they would stay in the vehicle as the vehicle proceeded through a fire area.

    Did your unit have specific mission objectives?

    Yes. The 1st Platoon of 2nd Tracks, which is what we were with, was assigned to India Company of the 1st Batallion of the 5th Marines. India Company had a specific sector of Fallujah up in the north initially which they had certain objectives which they had to achieve within a certain time frame. So, having breached their start line, which was the railway line which runs east-west at the north of the city, they crossed that railway line having actually breached it in two places at night, in the dark, and using their night vision capabilities, then took a small part, probably about two blocks worth - of two city blocks - of Fallujah, and held that until the morning light and then started pushing forward. The way they would push forward, they would select an area that would basically have a east-west running street and they would be facing south, taking two or three lines of advance, which would be streets going down, and they would then proceed down that, clearing houses on either side until they had secured that block and they would stay in that block for that night and the next day they would push on further down.

    Going into each room of each house…?

    Going into each room of each house. A lot of the time the houses were severely damaged in that process because one of the cardinal rules of the American occupation of Iraq is called "force protection". The whole idea is that you limit the number of casualties that you take and the number of casualties that you make is immaterial.

    When did people start shooting at you?

    There was return fire right from the very first morning. I don't think there was a single shot fired in reply on the actual entrance to Fallujah, there was a lot of firing laid down but I heard very little coming back in those initial hours of darkness. The next morning there were definitely insurgents operating in areas that had not been cleared. We went up onto a rooftop and what the Americans were doing was bringing in Cobra helicopters, which are relatively armoured but you don't want to be sitting in a helicopter when there are pieces of lead in the air, you want to get as far away as possible.

    But they would use these helicopters to draw the fire with - it's called "drawing fire". In other words, they would fly them as if they were going to fly over a piece of unoccupied Fallujah and of course at it started approaching the insurgents could not help themselves but want to open fire on this thing, hoping they would bring it down with their AK-47's. By doing that of course they give away their positions which spotters on the tops of the buildings were looking for - the puffs of smoke, the flames from the ends of their rifles etc. - and they would then either send out artillery, mortars or get the helicopters themselves to launch missiles at these particular places.

    How did the Marines view their enemy?

    The Marines had been in Iraq now since the very beginning. For some this was the second tour - they called this the "second war", they called the "first war" the actual invasion in 2003. Their attitude towards the Iraqis has not changed in this embed, I'm sure that it has changed since the beginning when they were told initially that the Iraqis were going to be welcoming them and now they've found that the Iraqis are in fact just trying to blow them up. So, they now dehumanise the Iraqis, in a way that they don't recognise them as people or if they do recognise them as people, they are people who are other than themselves.

    They call the insurgents "Hajji's" and basically they treat them like any soldier has to treat the enemy, which is, if you don't kill him first, he's going to kill you, which as a former soldier, is a reasonably healthy way to look at life. However, as a former soldier who's now a journalist, I also understand the Iraqi side and know how the Iraqis live and think. I do not empathise with the insurgents whatsoever, because I think that what they do is pretty wrong, but at the same time they are in a struggle against what they see as occupation forces in their country and they're giving their best stick.

    What's your opinion of who the insurgents are? Are they local people, Baathists, holy warriors or just patriots?

    I think there is a mixture of all of those. I think there's a normal distribution curve of people involved in the insurgency. Certainly in Fallujah. I think you had a lot of ex-Baathists, a lot of Sunnis who felt disempowered and disinherited by the invasion, after Saddam Hussein's regime had been removed. If there had been foreign elements a lot of those had left. Certainly of the bodies of insurgents we found none of them had foreign id's on them although you continually heard rumours "ah we found Chechens here, we found Syrians there, Yemeni's in another place" - I never saw any of those people and I tend to suspect that information was somewhat tenuous. I'm sure that there were foreigners - there were definitely people from other places, certainly other cities like Ramadi, which is just next to Fallujah. I saw the bodies of five fighters who had Ramadi identification on them so there were people who feel themselves to be patriots as you say who are fighting against what they see as an illegal occupation of their country. There are Wahhabi jihad warriors, people who believe they are fighting for the re-establishment of the Caliphate or the ummah. There are all sorts of people in between, from bandits to hardened fanatics, basically.

    What was your unit told about who the enemy were?

    I've not particularly myself met any of these individuals but other journalists have gone and got a breakdown of who controlled what parts and who the leaders were and all that kind of stuff. As far as the Marines were concerned, they don't need to know who the leader is - all they have to do on the ground is either kill or capture them and the bottom line is to basically free the city up from the scourge of the insurgents, that's how they see it. So that's what they did, they just went in there and took these people.

    As a former soldier, I feel that their way of prosecuting this thing was not the most intelligent way. To my mind, the most intelligent way is to capture as many alive as possible. Now I know that that is very difficult when people are hell bent on becoming martyrs and do not mind being suicide targets, so it's difficult to do that but if you can you should capture every single one alive that you can because there's information, and once you have information then you start to get further down the road of freeing up the whole situation.

    What was their (the Marines) policy then?

    The rules of engagement in this particular situation had been changed. Whereas previously the rules of engagement had been - 'you had to see a weapon, there had to be a clear intention to harm coalition forces personnel' - now the rules of engagement had been changed. If you had reason to suspect that an individual may at some stage be involved in harming coalition forces, you could take him out and use whatever force is necessary. And with an M-16 there is only one kind of force and it makes big holes in you.

    Extremely few civilians were left in the city. I think that the government and the US forces were right when they said that the city was deserted. It was pretty much deserted. Those families that were there, and I saw less then 20 individuals all together, including the children and their parents and whatever, in the time that we spent in Fallujah during that operation. They were I think small anomalies and as to the number of insurgents killed - and they claimed that they killed between 1200 and 1600 insurgents - I think that that is a huge over-estimation of the number of people killed.

    Also, there was nothing to say who is an insurgent and who is not, because I think that a large number of families had left at least one male member of the family or a servant in houses that had valuables and things like that, to stop any looting. Now those individuals first of all were male, mostly of military age and thirdly, if they were found by the Marines, if they were found in circumstances in which the Marines thought they might be a threat, they'd just be killed. If they were to walk out on the street in the middle of a firefight they were going to get killed and there were situations where I'm sure people were killed mistakenly or because the Marines could not differentiate between them and insurgents.


  14. #14
    Was there any sense that many of the insurgents had left the city beforehand knowing that this force was on its way?

    Absolutely. I think that there is no question that the majority of the forces had left. The mysterious Mr Al-Zarqawi for instance was nowhere to be found although they believe that they found his headquarters in the south of the city and certainly some of the footage that came from that particular operation tended to indicate that this might have been true.

    The places that we went into which the Americans claim to be arms caches and weapons dumps and things like that … I've seen a lot of weapons in a lot of places, all over the world, all my life and I have to say that these were not large concentrations of weapons. You would have a few mortar bombs, you would have a couple of bags of anti-aircraft rounds, but you wouldn't see any weapons to fire them or heavy machine gun rounds or AK-47 ammunition, sometimes 122mm rockets, those sort of things, you know, two's and three's here and there, in places. And certainly a lot of it in such bad condition that I would suspect that a preponderance of their material had been moved out of the place a long time before this attack took place.

    Did it get dangerous for you at times? Was it ever hairy?

    Yeah, whenever you're in a combat situation it is hairy. There is no way to avoid that. If there is just one bullet that is zinging through the air at 11300 feet per second it is dangerous and there were a lot of rounds. Whether they were friendly rounds from a unit that was just off to your right that was firing across you because they'd seen something moving in the wrong direction, that makes it dangerous. Obviously when you are proceeding down a road of unknown provenance and you are walking in a line with a number of Marines, that is dangerous. Even if you're inside the vehicle, it's dangerous.

    In fact one of the most lethal dangers was not necessarily from small arms fire actually on the ground, what was most dangerous were mortars and rockets which were being lobbed into the city from outside by insurgents beyond the operational limits, and of course these things can be shot from anywhere up to 15-20 kilometres away to fall completely untargeted into the area of operation and a large number of the casualties taken by the unit that we were with actually happened because of this. Nobody targeted these people, they just happened to be standing in the wrong place when something went bang.

    I recall one particular bit of footage that you sent out of an air strike being called in, a bomb being released from an aircraft at fairly close range. When you're using that kind of heavy weaponry, almost indiscriminately it appeared, it seems inevitable that non-combatants are going to get hurt…

    Well, that is one of the reasons why they flagged this up beforehand, to try and get people to leave. And I think that they were pretty effective in doing that. One can understand why a member of the family might be left behind to stop looting etc. if they couldn't take all of their worldly possessions out of their houses and those individuals as I've said, were likely to come to grief.

    Based on the idea of force protection, in other words not allowing any of your people to get taken out, the best way to prosecute this kind of war is to lay down as much fire as possible to basically either kill or suppress any fire coming back from the insurgents before you then move through an area to search and secure the area and certainly there were moments when at the beginning of an attack in the morning on the baseline, waiting for the lines to advance to start moving forward, every single weapon would open up for, you know, sort of 3 or 4 minutes at a time and they would just take out anything in the distance.

    There were occasions when after a firefight had taken place and before they were sure an area was secure they sent two tanks down a particular road, one had its turret one side and the other had it's turret to the other side, and the commander said "I'm just making sure they put one shell into every house they go past". So the American forces in Fallujah "destroyed Fallujah in order to save it", that's how they would explain it. Every single building I would vouch, if it had been not destroyed then was certainly seriously damaged.

    What was the Marine's view of their political leadership? What was morale like?

    I did not meet a Marine on the ground in the unit at the enlisted or NCO level who had not said that they would be leaving the armed forces after this particular engagement. Not so much I think from the point of view of disagreement with the politics of the situation but rather the fact that they had not expected when they signed up in the Marines to actually have their asses on the line as they found themselves to be. One of the problems with western armies these days is that you sign up to the army thinking that you're going to get a career and a pension and various pay-outs etc.. But in fact you get thrust into a war situation, a lot of people are dying around you and that's not what you signed up to the army for and so most people basically after two tours have said, "enough's enough, I'm outta here".

    Politically, people were pretty benign basically, they were not involved in politics. They said "we are soldiers, this is the job we have been sent in to do and we do it. The thing we signed up to do was to obey and so we're obeying".

    By and large, they were very happy with the Republican victory in the elections. They were not so happy the day after the election, when instead of the pay rises that they'd been getting for the last 4 years they suddenly only got a three per cent pay rise this year. Interesting that it was released the day after the election. So there was some mumbling about that, but by and large, apart from the older senior NCO's who are black, the rest of the Marines seemed pretty much to be Republican. Those guys (the black NCO's) were democrats, and they'd say (conspiratorially) "hey listen, whatever you do, don't tell anybody else, but we're Democrats, we're the only Democrats on the base".

    Were there any kind of human moments during this period? Was there any humour, compassion…pity?

    I didn't see any humour compassion or pity involved with dealing with Iraqis. Certainly there's a lot of humour in dealing with each other and the Marines have a patois, a way of speaking, which is extremely amusing and certainly some of the things that they do in their sort of downtime we found quite bizarre, like sitting in a guard vehicle when they were off guard duty watching "South Park", a very bizarre American cartoon series on a DVD player powered by the batteries of the armoured personnel carrier. I suppose this is just a cultural thing, but they were not involved in compassion for the enemy in any way but there was huge compassion obviously for their own mates and for their own injured. When casualties are heard they were very involved in that.

    They did have what I found a slightly bizarre complete horror of anybody filming their comrades when they were wounded or killed, which, having been a soldier, I found very difficult. If anyone had wanted to take photographs of my mates I would have said "go ahead, tell the world what's going on", but these guys were very keen we did not film them although it was perfectly legal within the terms of the embed for us to do that so long as we didn't identify people or release their names before next of kin had been notified.

    What will the battle of Fallujah's legacy be to Iraq in the long term?

    You must understand that the high command and politicians said that "what we're going to do is liberate Fallujah and give it back to the Fallujans". I think that the Fallujans will be even more determinedly anti a. the government and b. coalition forces than they were previously to that because their property and their tenuous lifestyle had been deeply threatened or destroyed by this operation. I think what you'll find the assault on Fallujah did was broaden the insurrection, not necessarily in terms of getting people who lived in other places to become more angry about the occupation, I don't think that's possible at the moment - there's a level of disagreement with the occupation that cannot be improved upon - but what it did was disperse a lot of people who were actively involved in the insurgency to other places and I think that as we've seen recently the number of incidents as we progress towards the elections of which of course the assault on Fallujah was the start of the pacification process for those elections. What has happened is that the number of incidents has risen dramatically as a result of displacing the insurgents from Fallujah into other parts of the country as far north as Mosul, which is some 4 hours drive away.

    Do you think the insurgency requires a military or political solution?

    There is never a military solution to anything like this. I have been involved in a guerilla war in which the side I was on lost and the other side is that I've been to other people's guerilla wars and have seen that there is never a military solution to guerilla war. There is only ever talking at the end. Discussion, diplomacy and through that you come to a resolution and the only way to resolve the issue is to include the parties and sometimes that means you have to have the most radical ends of the two spectrums opposing each other come together and eventually when you get those two radical ends together to talk that's the only time you find peace. It's happened everywhere, from Lebanon to South Africa to Northern Ireland and it's only when you get the radicals together to talk … they'll never find common ground but if the populace gets tired enough of the war it will force the radical ends to talk and once the radical ends talk you then have peace. There is no military solution.


  15. #15
    Return to Duty
    CBS News
    Dec. 21, 2004

    (AP) This is what Frank Ryan is bringing with him to Iraq:

    Fourteen pairs of socks, 10 pairs of underwear, eight uniforms, and an alarm clock with his son Matthew's picture in it. Four razors -- the lubricated kind for dry shaving, a knife, one sweater, two hats, long thermal underwear for sleeping and more family photos on a CD.

    And that's not to mention the venison jerky for instant protein from Jan and Chuck Soulliard, friends from the post office.

    Ryan is a 53-year-old retired Marine colonel with 32 years of active and reserve duty under his belt.

    An accountant from Lebanon, he got a phone call from the Marine Corps' manpower office in August. Officials wanted to see if he would come out of retirement to serve in Iraq.

    Could he pass the physical? Was he interested?

    Yes, he said, he would be ready to go. "Being able to be part of this is very important to me," he explained.

    On Nov. 3, his orders came in the mail, marked "Involuntary Presidential Select Recall." This was no longer a courtesy call. He would deploy on Dec. 5 to serve as deputy chief of the multinational force in Iraq. Ryan's assignment: to be responsible to the chief of staff and commanding general to coordinate the planning and operations of ground forces.

    For Frank Ryan, 2004 is ending in ways he could hardly have imagined when the hectic year began.

    In preparation for deployment, Ryan started jogging four times a week to lose the 20 pounds he had gained while running for the 17th congressional district seat in central Pennsylvania. He lost the Republican nomination to Scott Paterno.

    He had to close his accounting business temporarily and refer his current clients. He had to finish landscaping the front yard. He had to prepare his four grown children and his wife, Sherrie. He was going into harm's way.

    One of the hardest parts of the deployment for Ryan was stopping the adoption of a baby girl from China.

    When he retired two years ago, he and Sherrie thought it would be wonderful to have another child, and so they started the adoption process. Just before Ryan got his orders they were told they would be paired up with a child and travel to China to get her as early as January. They chose the name Julia Rose.

    The deployment made the adoption impossible, since the Chinese adoption agency required them to pick up the baby together. The adoption will have to wait. It's for the best, Ryan said.

    "This is not going to happen, but if I became a casualty, what would it mean for the baby?" he said.

    He had already set up an education fund for Julia Rose.

    In the period before deployment, Ryan prepared himself mentally for combat.

    "I tell this to any of my young Marines: You are going into a different world and have to be prepared for just about anything," he said. "They can't afford to take anything for granted."

    For Ryan, that means breaking up normal everyday patterns, such as getting up and having a cup of coffee. "Don't have a pattern to your daily life," he said. "Patterns will get you killed."

    Another aspect of mental preparation is what he calls "personnel accountability."

    "It is real easy to wake up in the morning and say, four kids, my wife, three dogs, I'm covered," he said. "Now I need to know where everybody is every second of the day, and: Are they OK? And so you mentally have to be prepared. You can't take your eye off of one person once. Real leadership is defined by your ability to care for others."

    Ryan joined the Marines as soon as he turned 18, at the height of the Vietnam War.

    His son, Matthew Ryan, 22, enlisted with the Pennsylvania National Guard right out of high school. He will be commissioned in May when he graduates from Penn State. He has chosen the infantry and expects to be sent to Iraq.

    On Sunday, Dec. 5, Frank Ryan had a cup of coffee out of his favorite mug. He put on his new uniform and loaded his bags in the family Volvo station wagon. He gave the dogs a goodbye cookie.

    Then he and Sherrie and three fiends headed for Harrisburg International Airport. First, he'd fly to Camp Lejeune, N.C., then later to Iraq.

    As Ryan checked in at the airport counter using his one-way ticket, he struck up a conversation with another traveler, John Hatton, a retired New York police officer and former Marine. When they parted, Ryan gave a quick salute and smile, and Hatton said, "I will say a rosary for you, Colonel."


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