Monday | July 28, 2003
Desperation in Iraq
By Steve Gilliard
Things in Iraq are becoming desperate
While commanders tell reporters that they have seen attacks halved and the think the war may soon be over, the same kinds of things said in the fall of 1967, their tactics show an increasing desperation and recklessness
Col. David Hogg, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, said tougher methods are being used to gather the intelligence. On Wednesday night, he said, his troops picked up the wife and daughter of an Iraqi lieutenant general. They left a note: "If you want your family released, turn yourself in." Such tactics are justified, he said, because, "It's an intelligence operation with detainees, and these people have info." They would have been released in due course, he added later.
The tactic worked. On Friday, Hogg said, the lieutenant general appeared at the front gate of the U.S. base and surrendered
As Atrios and a couple of people noted in comments, this is called hostage taking. It is, of course, a war crime. It also belies the evidence that resistance is dropping. Come in or we'll take your women may work in the short term, but it makes people angry. Especially in an Arab culture where messing with women can get you killed.
Underscoring the intense nature of the combat, Hogg's brigade, after weeks of being pestered by enemy mortars, has begun responding with heavy artillery, and so far this month has fired more than 60 high-explosive 155 mm shells.
So where did those shells land? Did they get the light, portable mortars, or did they land in someone's field? Did they all explode or were there some duds? Using a 155 shell, instead of oh, counter mortar fire, is risky. One mistake and you could wipe out half a village.
"During Peninsula Strike, we worked very hard for every combat action to have a 'carrot' that followed," MacEwen said. "We'd do a cordon and search in one area, and then make sure the next day that LPG [cooking gas] was available, or that a pump at a water plant was working."
I'm sure they appreciated the gas and water, but I bet they wondered why your troops had burst into their homes in the first place. They say they're getting good information, but is it about Baathists or Islamicists or both? Because if it's only the Baath Party, well, it could be using the US Army to settle a political fight and at the end of the day, the Islamicists are left with no competition.
3 Iraqis Killed as G.I.'s Set Up Raid in Hunt for Hussein
BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 27 — American soldiers fired on a Toyota passenger car in an upscale Baghdad neighborhood late this afternoon, killing at least three Iraqis, as an American Special Operations team prepared to raid a nearby house in what an Iraqi policeman later described as an unsuccessful attempt to capture Saddam Hussein....A military spokesman confirmed that the operation involved Task Force 20, which is leading the search for Mr. Hussein,
The shootings outraged local residents, who said the Americans had not offered adequate warnings before firing on the Toyota and on another car half a block away, in which three other people were wounded. The people in the Toyota were members of a family that lived near the site of the raid, said Qais Estefan Ibrahim, who said he was a neighbor.
Let's see? More civilians killed, a tribal leader who is now more than unlikely to cooperate with US Forces and more angry Iraqis, all to kill the increasingly irrevelant Saddam Hussein.
Here's a question: why are we doing this? We're not doing this for an Iraqi government, which doesn't exist. We claim to not want to own the country. So exactly what is the point of this entire exercise? People are dying and the minute Saddam is gone, our reasons for being in Iraq, at least to Iraqis, will vanish.
At some point, Iraqi patriotism will truly assert itself. People may not want Saddam, but logic dictates they don't want Viceroy Jerry either. While the generals may think their war is over, there is every reason to believe that it is just begining. Maybe the end of Saddam might bring peace, but it is just as likely to bring about a wider war, based on nationism and religious pride.
North of Baghdad, guerrillas floated a bomb on a palm log down the Diala River, a Tigris tributary, and detonated it under an old bridge linking the northern cities of Baqouba and Tikrit, hotbeds of Saddam support in the so-called "Sunni Triangle."
U.S. soldiers had built a pontoon bridge farther downstream and were renovating the old bridge, but after the explosion they closed both to the public.
"We've been repairing it since the end of April, but now we've got people trying to blow it up," said Lt. Col. Bill Adamson, a 4th Infantry Division commander. "Because of this damage we've got to shut it to all the civilian traffic."