Friday | July 25, 2003
Heaviest week of combat since end of war
By Steve Gilliard
Jonathan Steele and AP in Baghdad
Three American soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division, whose troops killed the two sons of Saddam Hussein on Tuesday, died yesterday in an attack on their convoy.
It came under grenade and small-arms fire as it drove towards Qayara, a few miles south of Mosul, where units of the division attacked the house in which the Hussein brothers were hiding.
And the bad news only keeps coming
Washington -- The troop rotation plan announced by the Pentagon this week underscores the strain that the Iraq war has placed on the military.
The plan, revealed Wednesday, sends new waves of troops for yearlong deployments in Iraq to relieve the Army's 3rd Infantry Division and other long- serving units.
But for replacements it relies on foreign troops that have not yet been committed, on two National Guard combat brigades that have not yet been trained for the mission, on an Army division that just returned home from Iraq,
What this means is that largely untrained troops and the 82nd, which has a brigade deployed in Afghanistan as well as Iraq, will be expected to go back there in months. Which means either a lot of retirements or transfers to units not likely to be rotated back quickly.
This rotation plan may well get people killed. The gap in training, quality and experience between the active duty infantry battalions and the NG battalions is pretty large. The six month retraining alone should indicate that. Also given the fact that these men tend to be older, with families, expect to see these units lose men before deployment as well.
Factoring foreign troops which may well never show up in Iraq is also a sign that our Army is reaching its limits. Iraq is a clear drain on our national security and makes it much harder to defend against real threats. A majority of the Army is now committed to Iraq for the forseeable future, which should have political consequences, not only at home, but in Iraq, indicating an ongoing occupation which is already fairly unpopular.