Saturday | May 31, 2003
"Pit bulls on a chain"
But instead of going home, the 3,000 men and women of the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade have been told they will be heading instead to the volatile city of Fallujah.
The city, 50 miles west of Baghdad, has become a flashpoint for defiant Iraqis and earlier this week two U.S. soldiers were killed and nine wounded at a checkpoint ambush.
"I've had to look at my guys in the face and tell them we are not going home, that we are going somewhere else, that I don't know when we are going home. Hell, one of my guys broke down and cried when I told him this," said Sgt. Kenneth Molina, 36, of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
"They've been through a lot. ... They are solid. They will be professional. And because they are young, they will be resilient. But what they really need right now is a Club Med," said Sgt. Michelle Fournier, a mental health specialist of the 113th Combat Stress Control Unit.
"They told us to lock and load your weapons. Lube your 25s [a Bradley Fighting Vehicle's cannon]. And get ready to clean house. ... This ain't going to be a peacekeeping mission. Not for us," Molina said.
"If they kill one of our guys, it's going to be tenfold. If you shoot one round, I'll shoot 1,000. You have to make an example," said Lt. Harry Heintz, 25, of Demorest, Ga.
Pounding his fist on the table where he and his men eat, Heintz added, "We're like a pit bull on a chain. You cut the chain and you're going to have problems."
Look, every day this unit is in theater, the risk of something really, really bad happening grows. There's a growing sense of being trapped here. They have no idea when they're going home and every day they spend there is a day in combat.
So you now have a unit which has been deployed for eight months and in combat for two. Keep in mind. most WW II divisions saw 30 days of combat. The 3ID is looking at 75 days with no relief in sight.
Does it make sense to have these same, very, very angry young men come in contact with the Iraqi people, who are growing to hate America and Americans with each passing day. Especially in Falluja, an area of open tension.
I feel for the poor lieutenant, but his rhetoric sounds like a US trooper in the Philippines circa 1900. You cannot police a country with cannon fire. You need good will and if you think your solutions will come from a barrel of a gun, you will be sadly disappointed.
So Shinseki had been vindicated, right?
Steve GilliardPosted May 31, 2003 07:32 AM | Comments (143)