|06-05-2006, 07:19 AM||#1|
Angling in the Deep
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Texas Riviera, Southern Mountains
Probing a Bloodbath
Something the Bush administration does not understand. Soldiers are trained to battle enemies in war not police radical religious countries whose own people hate each other. Even if troops were better prepared to try and police these religious fanatics Rumsfeld and Bush would hamstring them one way or another.
This is why we must get our men and women out of Iraq now. It will only become worse than the cluster**** it now is. There is no battle to be won there.
Probing a Bloodbath
The Marines were well prepared for war, but not for insurgency. Did some of them snap—and slaughter innocent civilians in cold blood?
By Evan Thomas and Scott Johnson
June 12, 2006 issue - The Marines know how to get psyched up for a big fight. In November 2004, before the Battle of Fallujah, the Third Battalion, First Marines, better known as the "3/1" or "Thundering Third," held a chariot race. Horses had been confiscated from suspected insurgents, and charioteers were urged to go all-out. The men of Kilo Company—honored to be first into the city on the day of the battle—wore togas and cardboard helmets, and hoisted a shield emblazoned with a large K.
As speakers blasted a heavy-metal song, "Cum On Feel the Noize," the warriors of Kilo Company carried a homemade mace, and a ball-and-chain studded with M-16 bullets. A company captain intoned a line from a scene in the movie "Gladiator," in which the Romans prepare to slaughter the barbarians: "What you do here echoes in eternity."
Fallujah was a vicious battle. The 3/1 lost 17 men in 10 days, fighting house to house. But the Marines were prepared. They had been taught to tie a rope to a wounded man to pull him to safety and to lay down a murderous blanket of covering fire. They expected their foe to resort to ruses, like dressing as women and using human shields. But the men of the Thundering Third had been given liberal rules of engagement to make sure people who looked like civilians didn't trigger hidden roadside bombs. "If you see someone with a cell phone," said one of the commanders, half-jokingly, "put a bullet in their f---ing head." During the battle, a TV camera crew photographed a Marine shooting a wounded, unarmed man. The Marine was later exonerated.
Fallujah was another victory for a Marine battalion with a bloody, valorous history—Guadalcanal, Okinawa, Inchon, Chosin Reservoir, Hué City. But Haditha, that was different. In the fall of 2005, when Kilo Company arrived in the flyblown city in Anbar province, three hours from Baghdad, up where the jihadists slipped across the Syrian border, the young Marines were worn out. This was their third tour in Iraq in three years, but they were not quite sure what to expect. The place was alien, sinister.
The local jihadists were said to chop off the head of anyone found cooperating with the Americans. The Marines found scores of unexploded IEDs, or improvised explosive devices, but the insurgents seemed to have slipped away—or maybe they'd just gone behind closed doors, or blended into the population. Some of the locals seemed friendly enough, bringing them soft drinks and sweets and even helping them find the bombs. But could they really be trusted? And why didn't anyone warn them about those 155mm artillery shells wired to a telephone, found along the road in mid-November?
The Marine grunts of Kilo Company had been trained to kill, not to practice "counterinsurgency," whatever that meant. Not that their leaders were much better informed. Neither the Army nor the Marines had a counterinsurgency doctrine when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, and since then soldiers and Marines had received at best patchwork training in the subtle arts of winning hearts and minds. (Indeed, only now, in the late spring of 2006, when the Iraq war has been spluttering along for almost as long as the time it took America to win World War II, is the military finalizing a draft of a manual on counterinsurgency.)
Haditha, quiet but menacing for the first several weeks after Kilo Company arrived, is far more the norm in Iraq than the full-scale, all-out fighting of Fallujah. In Haditha, the Marines of Kilo Company sometimes handed out candy to kids but mostly patrolled about in Humvees, making some kind of show of force, presumably, but really just offering themselves as targets.
It is not clear exactly what happened in Haditha on the morning of Nov. 19. One Marine and 24 Iraqis died, that much is certain. Local survivors say Americans on a rampage massacred their neighbors in cold blood. The videotaped eyewitness accounts provided to NEWSWEEK and other news organizations are horrifying, hard to believe in their sordidness and brutality. The Marines at first said 15 civilians, along with Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, 20, had been killed by an IED, and that the rest died in a shoot-out with insurgents. But the official story changed, in part because of a Time magazine exposé in March. Now, according to congressmen who have been briefed by the Pentagon, the military is investigating Kilo Company for possible war crimes.
Investigators have seen grisly photographs and are pursuing allegations of a cover-up. Ominously, there are also reports of atrocities in other places, committed by young soldiers who cracked under the pressure of a war fought on a battlefield with no front lines, no easy way to tell civilians from insurgents, and no end in sight.
In Vietnam, when the doleful news came home of burned villages and slaughtered civilians, many Americans blamed the military. Vets came home to be spat upon and called "baby killers." Americans have learned from their disgraceful behavior back then, and generally honor today's Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen. But increasingly, they blame their leaders for putting young men and women into situations they were not trained or equipped to handle. As more accounts of civilian killings come to light, the pressure is likely to grow on the Bush administration to bring home the troops, not just to save their lives, but to rescue their honor and decency.
Haditha may turn out to be the worst massacre since My Lai. And Iraqis may be entirely justified in their outrage. But the scale of the tragedy should not be exaggerated. America still fields what is arguably the most disciplined, humane military force in history, a model of restraint compared with ancient armies that wallowed in the spoils of war or even more-modern armies that heedlessly killed civilians and prisoners. The 24 Iraqis killed at Haditha are a fraction of the 300-plus lined up and murdered at My Lai in 1968, just as the roughly 2,500 U.S. soldiers who have perished so far in Iraq pales against the 58,000 dead in Vietnam.
Still, Haditha underscores an uncomfortable truth of the Iraq war. Young men join the Marines to be like the warriors in those recruiting ads, brave knights in noble combat. They do not imagine they're joining a military version of the Peace Corps to be humanitarian workers. In training, they spend endless hours learning how to fire their weapons and kill the enemy. They do not spend much time learning how to be tolerant and neighborly with foreign peoples who speak a different language and practice a different religion. "I'm pissed off that they sent us over there to do a police action," says Kilo Company's Cpl. James Crossan, who was wounded when the IED exploded in Haditha. "There's still a war going on."
Last edited by Bronco_Beerslug; 06-05-2006 at 07:21 AM..
|06-05-2006, 06:34 PM||#2|
Mo' holla fo' yo' dolla!
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: In a bunker in an undisclosed location
It seemed inevitable that BushCo would eventually have its My Lai.
It's just too bad that the junta and its supporters are either too stupid or too young to remember/learn from Viet Nam.
Of course, the incompetent boobs who planned this Iraq misadventure are all individuals who went out of their way to avoid going to Viet Nam, so I guess it's par for the course.