If you have just arrived at The Library in Purgatory, the first chapter is here.

"I never found the girl, I never got rich. Follow me."

~Leonard Cohen

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Chapter V.5

This Aggression Will Not Stand

The Northern Drawdown (Journal)

Tim had originally briefed that it would only be Gurkhas who were going to go. I don’t know why he did it that way because we almost never sent them alone, especially on big missions. We were short on manpower though or maybe it was because he figured no one wanted to go anywhere with the fuckers so soon after the Great Gurkha Uprising of Ought Four. In any case, I told him that we had to send expats, knowing that by doing so I was likely volunteering myself. Tim agreed and I did.

I initially thought that James would go with me. However, by that time he was already neck-deep into ERSM and all but fucking worthless. I requested and got Chuzu though, a far better choice. With Chuzu covering my back, there isn’t anywhere in the world I wouldn’t go. Once we had been slated for a training contract to an unnamed African country. It soon became evident that the training was going to be of the operational sort, which we joked, would be me leading the patrol and him bringing up the rear to shoot anyone that tried to run away. When that one fell through, neither of us felt too bad.

I had such a feeling of dread about this movement, which involved driving up to Mosul, picking up a det of Gurkhas and their gear there, driving over to Irbil the next day to pick up another det of Gurkhas and gear, and then swinging though Kirkuk to pick up a sick Gurkha on the way back to Baghdad. All our vehicles and most of men were needed the day after that to begin a drawdown of southern locations. There was almost no margin for error or the fog of large convoy movements.

I was certain, as I wrote up the MOVEREP, that I was not going to come back from this one. The fear was palpable and sat in the pit of my stomach like a brick, casting a pall over everything. Looking back now, I don’t know if it was fear of not coming back, of fucking up and letting Chuzu and the guys down, or something else.

That last night, as I sat alone in the office, finishing up the details on the MOVEREP I listened to three songs over and over— seeking some small comfort:

Come Home to You— John Hiatt

Pancho and Lefty— Merle Haggard

Running Blind— Godsmack

(Not my convoy)

We were driving two Suburbans and one Bongo (“bongo is wrongo”) truck up and coming down with three or four more SUVs. South of Balad the fucking bongo truck broke down and I had to tow the thing all the way to Qayarrah West where we had a det of guys on a different op. The Gurkhas broke every tow strap I had but I didn’t dare put Chuzu behind the wheel because I needed him to be ready to react to anything that might happen. I can’t tell you how much driving through Balad and Samarra towing that fucking truck sucked. Ironically, by the time we hit the airfield at Qayarrah West, my driver in the bongo truck was getting the hang of it. We traded in our broken down bongo for a new one and continued on to Mosul.

Of course, they had rearranged everything at DMain in Mosul and I couldn’t find the fucking entrance. We had to drive over to another site that our guys were responsible for and get directions. A couple weeks later, some of those guys would be ambushed and killed on that road. I can’t tell you what a relief it was, finally pulling into DMain and seeing SG. What should have been a five hour trip, at most, took almost nine.

SG’s guys were HQ’d up at a small palace overlooking a little lake. There used to be two freshwater dolphins in the lake but the locals caught and ate them when they heard that Baghdad had fallen. Poor bastards. I remember sitting out back, overlooking the water with Chuzu and SG, talking about god knows what. We called it an early night and I slept the sleep of the dead that night.

We got off on time all right, but then the ASR was blocked due to an IED in the median. We had to detour, across the fucking river and through a section of downtown Mosul that looked like it was straight out of Black Hawk Down. Not a nice place. Our plan was to take an alternate route once we got out of Mosul. I had been on it once, but it had been a while since then. It was a second huge relief as I heard JS on the radio at the rally point as we drove into comms range on the outskirts of Irbil. Miraculously, a piece of the plan, generally defined as a list of thing that aren’t going to happen anyway, had gone the way it was s’posed to, in spite of the initial detour. That would be the last time I saw the Khanzad Hotel.

The trip down to Kirkuk was uneventful and we pulled into the airfield there to refuel. The next day would see us back up there with our QM to recover all our kit from the company of Gurkhas at the NOC who had decided to switch allegiance to Triple Canopy. The uniforms that TC had acquired for them were gray BDUs and all the M-240s, M-249s and M-16s that belonged to us were replaced with eastern-bloc PKMs, AKMs and AK-47s. When we left, the NOC looked like it was being defended by several platoons of North Korean regulars, just surreal. I guess that’s no funnier than some newspaper picture with a caption describing Fijians but showing a couple of Gurkhas— they really don’t look anything alike, though either may eat you.

Just south of the ridgeline CP on Hwy 2 south of Tuz Kharmanto, the replacement bongo truck went tits up and I was towing the damn thing again. We’re going as fast as we could, which couldn’t have been that much more than 35-45 mph, and I’m watching the distance indicator on the GPS, our speed and calculating and recalculating our arrival time in Baghdad. It finally became inescapable, at the max speed the bongo truck could maintain, we were not going to make it into Baghdad before dark. On top of that, the brakes on the truck were starting to go as well and the last time we stopped, they had to use the e-brake. I made a call into our HQ on my Thuraya detailing the problem with the options of laying over in Ba’qubah, which we could barely make but would still be a bitch, or cross-loading the gear on the bongo truck to the remaining vehicles and hightailing it for Baghdad at top speed. The project manager observed that the bongo truck would likely be stolen. I replied that it was pretty much a given but that we could try to recover it the next day as we would be driving back up the same route to Kirkuk. We ended up ditching it, which I was going to do anyway. There was no way in hell that I was going to drive through Baghdad at night towing a Bongo truck with no brakes. No way. In the right car, I would rather drive at night in Baghdad because it is easier to blend in. But in a convoy of Suburbans towing an inop bongo truck? No thank you; you stand out like the gimp moose in a pack of wolves.

We pulled over and Chuzu set up a defensive perimeter and the rest of the Gurkhas and I began cross-loading kit. I think that they were happy to be rid of the damn bongo truck as well, again; bongo is wrongo. Don’t ever forget it. We mounted back up and made all available speed for Baghdad. We were racing down Canal Street, in the far left lane, the dream zone and the end of this two-day trip so close I could taste it, when an Iraqi car about a hundred feet in front of us starts fishtailing all over the shoulder and right-hand lane. Suddenly the car turned hard right, skidded, kicking up a huge cloud of dust, and then the tires grabbed and it started rolling. Visibility dropped to about zero for about two seconds as we drove through the cloud of dust and debris. Krishna was my driver and he stayed on the hammer; I knew that the car had not rolled into our lane. The whole thing happened surreally slow. We cleared the dust cloud and I could see the driver, dazed, trying to crawl through the window of the car, which was on its roof. Krishna, keep fucking going, we aren’t fucking stopping!”

I would have liked to have stopped but I had to make a choice between the poor Iraqi and the guys I was bringing back to Baghdad. The Iraqi lost, though other Iraqis were stopping to, hopefully, help the guy.

The next day, coming back from Kirkuk, I was in the lead again and we were trying to get off of Canal Road and take the main road back over the river and into CP 1 or 2 of the dream zone. We didn’t get very far. Bremer had closed Muqtada al-Sadr’s newspaper (democracy in action) and there were several hundred thousand Iraqis protesting in the streets. We got lucky and some friendly Iraqi’s directed us away to prevent us from unwittingly driving into an angry mob. It would have been ugly. Four Blackwater contractors had been ambushed and killed in Fallujah that day. Once again, we got lucky.

What makes a man go out when he feels that he won’t come back, particularly in this case, where no real greater good is served, no one saved, no one to be saved? It’s a strange question and an adequate answer doesn’t come readily to mind. The main thing I would say, is that I knew if I was there, I could do a better job of looking out for the guys than if I wasn’t. I knew that if I was there and something went down, I would make a difference. And that’s it I guess.


Looking back on it now, the way I’ve written about it, it doesn’t seem like much, in fact, the whole thing seems ridiculously inane, and I won’t even say that it wasn’t. Only, that when I walked out the door to RV with my group and give the convoy brief, I didn’t think that I was going to be coming back. I don’t know where that feeling came from and haven’t really thought a lot about it since; it’s a war zone, it’s bound to happen sooner or later. When it comes though, when you get that “bad feeling” it is heavy and it is not easy to shake. There was no heroic bravery on my part. I made the best plan I could and did the best with what I had to work with. The thing that I was certain of was that if something went down and it was the Gurkhas by themselves they wouldn’t stand a chance, and if I was along, at least some would make it back. That’s it. I guess reduced to its most basic, and possibly stupidest, level, it was just the right thing to do. Obviously I still haven’t come up with an answer that satisfies me.

And maybe the whole thing, while still not making sense, comes a little clearer into focus when compared, contrasted, or held in relief to the deaths of Stephen S. Helvenston, Jerko Gerald Zovko, Mike R. Teague, and Wesley J.K. Batalona in Fallujah a day later, of which I’ll write later.

Partial Statement of Facts Surrounding the Disappearance of XX Bongo Truck #XX by Convoy Commander

29MAR04 while enroute to Mosul, Irbil and Kirkuk via HWY 1 to withdraw personnel and equipment from the previously mentioned locations, the Bongo truck attached to the convoy stopped running on the southern outskirts of Tikrit. An effort was made to jumpstart the vehicle with the result that the engine started but there was no throttle response from the gas pedal. The decision was made by the convoy commander to recover the vehicle to Qayarrah West, leave it there and continue on with the mission using a project XX Bongo truck as a replacement. Other options were considered to salvage as much of the mission as possible if a Bongo truck was not available.

After approx half an hour of towing, the Bongo truck started and ran for almost exactly fifteen minutes before stalling as before, at which point it was taken under tow again. This happened approx 3-4 times with the Bongo truck running for almost exactly fifteen minutes each time before dying.

Some three and a half hours and three tow-straps later, the convoy arrived at Qayarrah West (approx 1600L) and made contact with XX who agreed to loan the convoy Bono truck #XX. The convoy continued to Mosul with no problems and RV’d with SG per the MOVEREP at approx 1730L.

30MAR04 AM Convoy proceeded to Irbil per MOVEREP and RV’d with the Romeo brothers, picking up three more vehicles and 7 pax, and then proceeded to Kirkuk without incident. A fuel stop was made at the Kirkuk Afld.

The convoy continued south down HWY 2 and approx 40 minutes south of Tuz Kharmantou (just after the IZ CP along the ridges running east-west), Bongo truck #XX stalled and failed to start. Bongo truck #XX was taken under tow. The time was approx 1600. The convoy, now consisting of six vehicles, and approx 24 pax, was averaging a blistering 35 mph towards Baghdad. At appox 1630L, the convoy commander was notified that the brakes had now gone out on Bongo truck #XX and the only mechanism available for reducing inertia was the parking brake.

The convoy commander, at this time, contacted OPs HQ via Thuraya and explained the situation,

At 1700L the order to ditch Bongo truck #XX was given. The cross-loading of kit and supplies was accomplished in fifteen minutes without incident and the convoy, minus Bongo truck #XX, rode like the wind for Baghdad, arriving at Gurkha Barracks without incident at appox 1830L, just before last light. Prior abandoning Bongo truck #XX, it was rechecked that all gear and potentially sensitive items were removed, a ten digit grid was obtained from the convoy commanders personal GPS and two photographs were taken. The locations was approx 3 miles north of Al Khalis on the west side of the road facing south, grid 38S MC XXXXX.


BREAKING NEWS: One Eared Iraqi Special Forces Ninja Frogman Targets The Baghdad Hotel!!!!

Thought that would get your attention but unfortunately it might be true.... We picked up a guy on the Tigris today dressed all in black, including scarf, piling soda cans on a dog path leading to the river. The LN guards had seen him carrying a bag and thought he was burying something (there have been IED attempts on the path). The guy said he was part of a group that collects scrap to sell, which is plausible, but also said it was his first time in the area. Some of our guards had seen him before. His behavior (assuming the right postures, etc. for a prisoner and also saying that he had health and psychiatric problems...big indicators) and the first lie got him questioned. He was forthcoming in the initial phases of questioning and very calm. He said he is a simple scrap collector but also that he is a member of Sadr's Al Mahdi Army and was ready to fight at any time he got the call. During initial questioning about his military service he said he had been in the army for one month and then deserted (which explains the missing ear...Saddam had his own ways of dealing with AWOL). Later, he confessed that he had been in the Iraqi Special Forces and had trained in “diving, underwater martial arts, insertions and explosives”. K. questioned him and knew one of the instructors so this is valid. The cans were placed so that they would be a good marker from the river. When we were finished he was turned over to some other folks who have an interest in such matters. Can you run down anything on the previous threats from the Tigris on CPA, etc.? I remember some warnings from the summer but no specifics. Also, let your guys know to not get too complacent with the water...don't know when or if this will make it down the official dissemination chain. That's the only way to get close to the hotel and I was wondering if any of this might ring a bell with you. Thanks man....Later

From Intel Log:

2004 At 12:10 pm today a 107mm mortar round flew over the Gurkha palace in Mosul and landed 400m away. This round landed less than 200m from the dining facility which had over 500 people inside for lunch. This is the first shot in broad daylight that struck within the perimeter. This was also a very good shot for only one round. It is just a matter of time. SG. PS- Capt I, you only missed it by 4 hours!

2040 Reporter Apologizes for Iraq Coverage While the major media, from The New York Times on down, has largely remained silent about their own failings in this area, a young columnist for a small paper in Fredericksburg, Va., has stepped forward. "The media are finished with their big blowouts on the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and there is one thing they forgot to say: We're sorry," Rick Mercier wrote, in a column published Sunday in The Free Lance-Star. "Sorry we let unsubstantiated claims drive our coverage. Sorry we were dismissive of experts who disputed White House charges against Iraq. Sorry we let a band of self-serving Iraqi defectors make fools of us. Sorry we fell for Colin Powell's performance at the United Nations. Sorry we couldn't bring ourselves to hold the administration's feet to the fire before the war, when it really mattered. Concluding his column, Mercier declared, "there's no excusing that failure. The only thing that can be said is, Sorry."

2110 Bremer offers grim assessment of security challenges in Iraq In an uncommonly downbeat assessment of Iraq's security challenges, U.S. Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremer told local officials Monday that it will take at least a year for the country to hire, equip and train enough police and border guards to meet its needs. “There is no way to speed it up; it simply can't be done,” he said. “We just have to be honest about that.” Bremer's comments -- coming just three months before the American-led coalition is scheduled to return power to an Iraqi government -- made it clear that U.S. troops will continue to play the key role in maintaining security in Iraq even after the hand-over of power, scheduled for July.

Date Unknown— early APR

Email to Wendy

The sun is coming up and it brings me no joy, only another day. Below is a copy of a response that I sent to a Marine Maj. because I do not know any better how to say what is going on or the anger, despair, and pride that I feel. I am still arrogant enough to believe that I can walk out of the aftermath of this nightmare dragging many behind me in my wake, alive, one last time. My heart has been heavy this week but I would not be anywhere else and have no regrets.

I led a convoy back recently, pulled into Baghdad around sunset and for a surreal moment, it seemed like I was back in Spain or Greece on the Kennedy and I wanted nothing more than to pull over and get some “chicken and jo-jo’s”. How do I say what is on my mind? They don’t prepare you for this in school, any of them, and right now there just seem to be too many words and none of them are the right ones.


Have looked for him and made several inquiries around the palace with no joy. I simply may be the wrong person to be asking, though I will keep looking. Although never a big ego, this place has damaged mine and I doubt the ability to reach into the maelstrom and pull a kid out, which I once took for granted. I have no doubt that we have failed and it remains to be seen if it is catastrophically or not. Sadly, I am no longer the only one that fears the dream zone will be overrun in an attempt that will likely be more success than failure. There was a time when I honestly though we could make a more of a difference than not, however, I fear that time has largely passed. I still remember what you said about those kids that day in the briefing and those days seem further and further away with no return in sight.

With all due respect and fury,

Capt. Infidel, USN

Country Intel Officer, Iraq

From Intel Log: 07APR04

0009 At least 100 heavily armed Iraqi militants launched an attack Tuesday on a U.S. coalition compound in Ar Ramadi, an Iraqi city in the Sunni Triangle west of Baghdad, U.S. sources said. U.S. forces defending the compound are engaged in a fierce firefight with those believed to be followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the sources said. According to eyewitness accounts, there were a number of U.S. casualties. The network reported that the fighting started when heavily armed militants belonging to al-Sadr's al-Mahdi Army militia moved into the coalition compound, triggering an intense firefight.

1145 NASIRIYAH UPDATE- Italians suffered approx 14 WIAs yesterday in Nasiriyah and secured the 4 bridges in town. For now, an uneasy truce is in place with demonstrations taking place.

1150 Graham passes info from guys at airport that there has just been a large explosion at CP 1 at BIAP.

1310 Beth reports that CPA Al-Kut has been evacuated.

1400 Saddam moved to Qatar over rescue fears Saddam Hussein has been moved out of Iraq because of fears he would be rescued from American captivity by insurgents. The deposed dictator is being held on a US airbase in Qatar, where he is being interrogated by the FBI and CIA. He was being held under such secrecy at the Al-Udeid airbase, on the outskirts of the capital Doha, that the ruling royal family was initially not told.

1820 South African contractor killed in Iraq attack A South African working for a British security company was killed by Iraqi Shi'ite radicals in the southern Iraqi city of Kut on Wednesday, coalition sources said. The sources said he had died when the house he was living in with other contractors was attacked by Shi'ite militia forces.

2216 Explosion heard. Rich reports impact about 200m past traffic circle towards palace (tree line to the south). Heard launch and detonation. Short TOF.

2218 Chuzu reports launch and impact. POO across river towards Babylon Hotel- TOF 3-5 seconds.

2223 Rich reports a vehicle to the NW of Al Rasheed- light off. 2BCT OP on Rasheed has eyes on.

2303 ANALYSIS-Arab rulers' worst fears on Iraq come true Arab leaders had said loudly and repeatedly that a U.S. war against Saddam Hussein would unleash chaos in multi-ethnic Iraq and the region and open a Pandora's box of radicalism. With U.S.-led forces now battling Shi'ite Muslims in several cities, they now feel their ominous prophecy has come true. Many analysts say that arresting Sadr would not halt Iraq's Shi'ite uprising, saying the cause of the revolt was not the cleric, but U.S. policy.

2315 At least 2-3 launches heard, 1 impact heard- small- straight out the office window. Rich reports POI in the 14JUL circle. Rich reports sounded like one launch but two impacts. Rich reports approx 200m east of 14JUL circle. KBR reports dud in KBR parking lot.

08APR04 (Journal)

2330 local

Felt this as was writing up last night’s intel report…only able to verbalize it as I crawled into the rack. Forgot to mention it today, too much going on, what with two-thirds of the country in the process of being overrun by Sadr’s Army, if things go further south, I am done here as an intel hack. Intel will fall back into the spectrum of the pure military— if they can even do that— and the rest will be merely after action reporting. I can feel the change already in the last four days. What I have done can only be done in the middle, the gray area between success/peace and failure/war, it doesn’t work at either extreme— in the former there’s little to no need and in the latter, the military controls the overwhelming majority of the information. And so, given where I think all this is headed, I am of the opinion that my job will be fading out.

I am of mixed mind on this— I called this a long time ago and am proud of that, yet sorry it has come to pass (the paradox of the intel witch dr.). I have enjoyed my run, a truly extraordinary time to be certain. If I can swing it, I will be working with Jack on the wire, or else on a CP team; barring that, I will go home for a while and sit on my goddamned laurels until the quiet starts to drive me crazy.

The Second Coming

-- W. B. Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

From Intel Log:

(Anniversary of Iraqi Ba’ath Party Creation)

1004 “The Hart team to the north was surrounded and fought their way to a rooftop and called in for extraction. A coalition Special Forces unit was sent to the airfield. The Ukrainian commander refused to allow the SF unit to leave his base. The Hart team took a KIA and spent the night on the roof, transmitting back to the airfield who relayed to support air. The three remaining Hart team members acquired a car and made an escape to the north and are secured. The KIA Hart security employee remained on the rooftop.”

Neil now told me he was receiving heart-wrenching pleas for help on the telephone from a house not 500 yards away occupied by Hart Security, a team charged with protecting power lines from looters as they were slowly rebuilt. Sadr militia had attacked the house and killed one of them; the others had withdrawn to the roof and were now trapped. Neil remained in contact with the Hart team for hours till finally losing communication in the early morning.

1041 NOTE to Capt Infidel: Please forward the stuff below to the C2, thanks.

The Douwa Party, led by IGC member Abrahim Jafferi, is reportedly supplying weapons to Sadr City. Many mosques, especially in Zayuna, are calling for blood donations, doctors and financial support for Fallujah. A number of people are reported to be moving to Fallujah, by foot when necessary, to assist. A funeral movement starting in the al Amin district, west of Baghdad Jadida, at 1700hrs 08 AP 04 is heading toward the Baghdad Hotel, Palestine, and "other areas with Americans". The mourners are riding in big trucks and carrying weapons in the coffins. They are members of al Sadr's Jesh Mehdi. Also reported- a vehicle with loudspeakers was ivo the Sadeer Hotel broadcasting the following message in Arabic: “Everyone listen up. The Americans are killing us. Rise up and attack the Americans and be a martyr.”

1125 Graham reports that a fuel truck has just exploded at BIAP, killing one Custers Battles pax. Airport is shutdown with 4 tanks on CP. Other reporting indicates that the KIA pax was UK.

1246 No popular uprising in Iraq – Pentagon The Pentagon said on Wednesday there was no broad, popular uprising in Iraq against United States-led occupation forces, but analysts warned of a "worst-case scenario" of an insurrection by Sunni and Shi'a Muslims. General Richard Myers, the top US military officer, told a Pentagon briefing it was "important to remember what this is not. And it's certainly not a popular uprising or a movement supported by the majority of Iraqis. It is not that at all."

1550 Explosion heard, very close, smaller one 15 sec after. FP– UID C/S 2 impacts 33 degree 1000m. 1 impact inside Stadium perimeter, 1 impact just outside Stadium perimeter.

1551 Rich reports impacts near the CP just prior to the MMI.

1605 Pete reports rough grid MB XXXX- he heard both launches- said came from same general direction as last nights.

1650 CIK reports that the Germans attempting to bypass Fallujah enroute Jordan lost several vehicles and two pax. There are unverified reports of embassy staff (not USA) security personnel that are missing. These personnel were reported missing after an ambush NE of Fallujah. NFI.

1700 Beth confirms that 3 Japs, 8 S. Koreans, and an Unk # of Germans have been kidnapped trying to bypass Ramadi/Fallujah on HWY 1 enroute to/from Jordan.

Email 09APR04

Am okay, busy as hell, things here are going to shit rather rapidly, sooner than I though. Just got rocketed as I was typing this up. We lost one Gurkha today up north and have two more in critical condition. They also dropped at least one round into the gymnasium as DMAIN in Mosul; don’t even have any casualty counts on that one. However, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else and am having the time of my life.

This is the beginning of the end though— the CPA has completely and abjectly failed in a chain of events that I don’t think anyone could have foreseen and that have built upon each other in the worst kind of way. This is going to change the course of things in Iraq, forever, and it’s not going to be for the better.

The Blackwater guys— they had only four guys in two cars; that is two drivers and ONLY two shooters in the most dangerous part of the country, in soft-skins. It’s inexcusable, unbelievable. From what I have seen, it was amateur hour, even though these guys were some of the best trained soldiers in the world. Although no one deserves what they got, they completely neglected the threat and because of that, they got exactly what was to be expected. In this environment, when you fuck off or neglect the threat you get one of ONLY two things, real lucky or real dead. That’s just the brutal, unvarnished truth here and it’s just as true for the military as it is for anyone else.

We have been carrying M-249 SAWs in our convoys for months now and never have less than two shooters per vehicle. The brits, they’re high, CRG won't let them carry anything larger than 9mm, which just isn't enough out here— this is not the place for low-profile. The Spaniards tried it and you see where it got them. Ahhggg, how can people be so damned stoopid??!!

Falluja is a centre of the anti-American resistance, where even the police don't support the Americans. US soldiers don't drive through Falluja much. When they do, they have helicopter back-up and heavy armour.

'Almost every foreigner who has been killed here is an idiot,' said one ex-Navy SEAL. Soldiers often show little sympathy for those who fail to follow the right procedure.

He began listing their mistakes. To start with, they were in Falluja, in an SUV. Next, he guessed they had gone through the city before and had met no problems, but were seen leaving an American base - a routine can kill you. Later, they were followed.

'People don't realise that this is war,' he said.”

The rest of the article gets it wrong, trying to say that Iraq is safer than it was last month, oh well.

However, because idiot Americans see this crap on TV the White House says they have to bring the attackers to justice. What? Excuse me? These guys were providing security for an occupying, err, liberating force. Do we “bring justice” to every insurgent that kills a US soldier? There is no justice out here, in an in insurgency. The closest you get to it is intelligence work and then someone eats a bullet coming out of his house one morning. The White House has preempted the Marine’s plans to move into the neighborhoods of Fallujah and earn the trust and respect of the inhabitants and instead told them to crush Fallujah. Their entire strategic-focused mission has been undermined by some sorry-assed PR stunt to mollify the deaths of four individuals who should have known better than to undertake the mission they did and whose support was criminally negligent, at best.

The Marines were taking over in the area (Al Anbar Province) for the 82nd Abn, who by their very tactics, brought, conservatively speaking, half of the casualties they suffered on themselves. I couldn’t have been happier that the Marines were going in. They were planning on moving out of the base the 82nd had retreated into and moving back into the cities. They expected to suffer some higher casualties at first but by constant patrolling and helping the locals, expected to win their respect. This is what Marines do; this is what needed to have been done some twelve months ago.

So, you then have the four Blackwater guys killed. They weren’t heroes; they were just unprepared and unlucky. Some idiot in DC or maybe the CPA says we are going to bring those responsible to justice. What? In a war, you rarely, if ever, bring anyone to justice; you carry on with the mission, which is far more important than any one or few lives. IF you get the chance, as the mission progresses, you settle up scores but it NEVER gets in the way of the mission. And why are the deaths of four contractors more important than the deaths of any of the soldiers killed? You don’t hear the CPA talking about brining anyone to justice for the deaths of the approx twelve security contractors killed in the violence since the Blackwater incident.

So they tell the Marines to bring Fallujah to its knees, completely blowing off the long-term strategic mission. The Marines are not able to take Fallujah and are creating insurgents faster than they can kill them. And then the CPA initiates a unilateral cease-fire to negotiate? Whatever credibility the CPA had, it lost there. And to add insult to injury, during negotiations, they actually dropped the demands to hand over those responsible for the Blackwater debacle. Nice; a complete and total abject failure. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the Marines will now not be able to pick up where they left off. As far as reconstruction and hearts and minds go, they are combat ineffective, reduced to the same worthless role of the 82nd Abn, containment. And we have created a legend in Fallujah, which will only be truly pacified when every inhabitant is dead or locked up.

Now, Fallujah will likely have to be razed. The only way the insurgents will cease to be a threat in Fallujah is if they are all dead or locked up. As long as there remains one free citizen in Fallujah, the insurgency will be alive. Because of Blackwater and the fools that precipitated this national policy of revenge, we have now lost the lives of over fifty Marines pursuing a course that will fail. Is Saving Private Ryan more poignant or insane if Tom Hanks knows that Pvt. Ryan is dead before he goes looking for him? We shall see because this is what the White House has tasked the Marines to do.

And then Paul Bremer, who is a goddamned ego-maniac and fancies himself the king around here, grew irate with a newspaper that was the Iraqi equivalent of the Inquirer and supported/belonged to Muqtada al-Sadr. Bremer figured he’d show Sadr who was the big dick on the block, and shut the thing down— long live democracy. Only that blew up in his face as it would seem that Sadr has more REAL power in Iraq than Bremer. Then, a mysterious arrest warrant, which the CPA has been sitting on for some six months, is pulled out. Right….how convenient. I do believe that Sadr was involved on some level in the murder of Khoei, but this just looks like a ploy by Bremer and the CPA to cover their asses when the whole misguided thing blew up in their faces.

In response to Bremer’s closing of his newspaper, Sadr’s supporters took to the streets of Baghdad in force and Sadr decided it was time to make his move and the cities in south/south-central Iraq began to fall to his Mehdi Army.

For all intents and purposes, the coalition has lost ALL control of the south-central portion of the country, not to mention the west and portions of the north (Mosul/Tal Afar) and is now being shown for the paper tiger that it is. The Italians and Ukrainians evacuated under the cover of darkness, leaving behind CPA personnel to fend for themselves. The Ukrainians are assessed to have evacuated in the face of an “overwhelming” and “crushing” attack carried out by all of 25-35 pax with only RPGs and AKs. Private security personnel died because the Ukrainians would not react forces under their command to rescue them. The ‘Coalition of the Billing’ is fragmenting. The Salvadorians and Dominicans however, have been rock solid, as have the Poles and Bulgarians, who refused to withdraw from Karbala— I assessed that they would have had to withdraw two nights ago but they have refused to be beat. BZ. So, CJTF-7 has allowed this to spiral out of control by refusing to act or send reinforcements in a timely manner, insisting that they are not facing a popular uprising— we are so far out of the fucking OODA loop that it ain’t funny anymore. They have refused to make any decision, other than stating that things are under control, and when they have, it has been too little too late. Almost ALL reconstruction work in the south-central has been physically wiped out, looted, stolen, or given away…and more important, we have lost all credibility. This is just the beginning and it will only likely spread and grow. CJTF-7 has allowed this to spin and grow far more than it ever had to. They should all be sacked.

The Generals

''This is a political war, and it calls for the utmost discrimination in killing. 'The best weapon for killing is a knife, but I'm afraid we can't do it that way. The next best is a rifle. The worst is an airplane, and after that the worst is artillery. You have to know who you are killing.’’ –Lt. Col John Nagl

In March, the Marines will return to Iraq, and the man who will command the 20,000-strong force, Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, said in an interview last month with The New York Times that the Marines will use a softer touch than the Army. ''I don't want to condemn what people are doing,'' General Conway said. ''I'll simply say that I think until we can win the population over and they can give us those indigenous intelligence reports, that we're prolonging the process.’’ Referring to the Army's use of airstrikes against insurgent targets, Conway added: ''I do not envision using that tactic. It would have to be a rare incident that transcends anything that we have seen in the country to make that happen.''

“You can't separate the global war on terrorism from what is happening here in Iraq. If we can't be successful here, then we won't be successful in the global war on terror. It is going to be hard. It is going to be long and sometimes bloody, but we just have to stick with it.” – GEN John Abizaid, CENTCOM Commander

“We’re not going to read more people than necessary into our heart of darkness,” [Gen. Myers] said. “The rules are ‘Grab whom you must. Do what you want.’”

“The general (Abizaid), who is responsible for U.S. military activities in 26 countries stretching from the Horn of Africa through the Persian Gulf to Pakistan and the rest of Central Asia, said he was not convinced the price being paid in U.S. casualties in Iraq had become too high. As of Friday, 538 U.S. troops had died since the war began 11 months ago. "I don't know that the American public is counting; I know that the media is counting," he said.”

General Richard Myers, the top US military officer, told a Pentagon briefing it was "important to remember what this is not. And it's certainly not a popular uprising or a movement supported by the majority of Iraqis. It is not that at all."

Air Force General Richard Myers, chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was optimistic about security despite Tuesday's blast. "We continue to be optimistic about the situation on the ground in Iraq."

Asked if U.S. forces had been too hard on Falluja, Sanchez replied: "No, no, I don't believe so. Given the resistance that is clearly displaying itself in there, we probably didn't go in hard enough initially."

U.S. officials suggested that the decision to attack Fallujah, as well as the decision to halt the offensive, were made by civilian leaders, not by military leaders in Iraq. "We are a civilian-controlled military, and it is our business to stay out of politics," Sanchez said.

At a news conference in Baghdad a few weeks ago, an American military spokesman said he believed that 95% of Falluja residents "fully support the coalition". The reverse is probably the reality.

“"There has never been a more humane campaign... and that goes for operations in Falluja," Gen Richard B Myers said during a visit to Baghdad.”

Last week, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the eternally optimistic William Westmoreland of the current American effort, told Iraqis to "change the channel to a legitimate, authoritative, honest news station" rather than watch propagandistic Arab satellite networks that trade in images "of Americans and coalition soldiers killing innocent civilians."

“Contrary to forecasts of administration officials before the March 2003 invasion, Rumsfeld said, "It's going to take decades" for Iraq "to get the infrastructure back to where a modern country would have it."”

‘‘I certainly would not have estimated that we would have had the number of individuals lost that we have had lost in the last week,'' Rumsfeld said in answer to questions at the Pentagon.

“In the lead-up to the Iraq War and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence, and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption.”

Noble aims do not redeem killing in a war ignorantly conceived and incompetently executed.

Gen. William Odom ­ the Army's former intelligence chief and Ronald Reagan's Director of the National Security Agency - summed up back in April. Iraq is an unwinnable war, he told Nightline and the Wall Street Journal. "It's time to get out. We have failed," the conservative general declared. "The issue is how high a price we're going to pay.... Less, by getting out sooner, or more, by getting out later?"

In his book The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien said: "You can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromised allegiance to obscenity and evil."

"The art of war is a simple art and all in the execution; there is nothing vague in it, everything in it is common sense, nothing in it is ideology.” —Napoleon

Salvadoran Army Cited for Heroism in Iraq
In one of the only known instances of hand-to-hand combat in the Iraq conflict, Toloza stabbed several attackers who were swarming around a comrade. The stunned assailants backed away momentarily, just as a relief column came to their rescue.

When Toloza and 16 other soldiers arrived that morning at a low-walled compound of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, about 1.2 miles from their camp, they found its 350 occupants had melted away and themselves trapped by al-Sadr's al-Mahdi militia.

Lt. Col. Francisco Flores, the battalion's operations officer, said the surrounded soldiers held their fire for nearly half an hour, fearful of inflicting civilian casualties, even as 10 of their number were wounded by rocket-propelled grenades and bullets from assault rifles and machine guns.

After several hours of combat, the besieged unit ran out of ammunition, having come with only 300 rounds for each of their M-16 rifles. Pvt. Natividad Mendez, Toloza's friend for three years, lay dead, riddled by two bullets probably fired by a sniper. Two more were wounded as the close-quarters fighting intensified….

From Intel Log:

(Annv fall of Baghdad)

0039 Bulgarian Troops in Iraq Draining of Food Bulgarian troops were left with no food supplies, cut off from their coalition partners following the violent attacks of Shia militias against their base in Karbala. A total of 120 US troops have been sent to Karbala to reinforce the Bulgarian unit after calls for coalition assistance. World media reported that Iraq's cities of Nadjaf and Qutts are already in the hands of the local insurgent groups.

1255 11:48 hrs, 9 APR 04, XX convoy attacked via IED on Bridge in Mosul. 1 expat and 2 Fijians injured. All Ok. Medivacd to Mosul airport hospital for treatment. This was the same exact place where an identical IED hit a different convoy yesterday. Hand it to the Army, they are kicking ass on clearing the bridges! All the local IZ workers just beat feet out the gate; usually they stay the whole day on Fridays. They don't know anything I can't already guess. Loads of fun, SG.

1310 Pete passes that he received a report of 150 Syrians in Baghdad- ½ heading to Sadr City and ½ to Khadimiyah.

1317 US Security Firm Workers Were Lured Into Iraqi Ambush It now appears that the four private security contractors killed, burned and mutilated in Falluja last week were lured into a carefully planned ambush by men they believed to be friendly members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, according to Patrick Toohey, a senior executive at the security firm, Blackwater USA.

1826 2 explosions (very close and close together) sounded like RPG/mortar v Sheraton or Palestine.

1828 CNN reports that Sheraton hit by missile.

1835 CNN reports (from Reuters) that 1 mortar round landed in an attached compound to the Sheraton.

1937 At least nine dead in attack on US convoy in Iraq Insurgents attacked a U.S. convoy carrying fuel west of Baghdad on Friday, killing at least nine people, witnesses said. A Reuters photographer on the scene said he saw bodies burning inside the vehicles, which were still on fire near Abu Ghraib. He said the convoy included U.S. military vehicles and fuel tankers.

2008 4? Launches heard. AR OP 2 impacts 230 degrees 1300m- Est. POO 265 degrees 2k

2010 Chuzu reports P8 passing 2 launches and 2 impacts SSW 2500m

2036 SG (via Paul) 1 XX vehicle ambushed in Mosul- 1 KIA, 3 WIA (1 walking). Military side DMAIN (Gymnasium) mortared also with many military wounded.

2050 Confirmed- 2 Italian Dip Staff (SF) kidnapped in Abu Ghurayb.

2341 launch heard TOF 10 sec impact heard. Denny reports impact hit T-wall in front of Convention Center. OP reports impact hit the overpass b/w convention center and Al Rasheed. POO 2800 mils 2k- 190 degrees same LOB as other previous.

2346 Al Rasheed OP reports another launch. Chuzu reports launch but no impact- north.

2351 UID C/S- “Incoming”

2352 UID C/S “launch”

2356 British security guard shot dead in Iraq A former British solider working as a security guard in Iraq was shot dead as he helped civilian contractors flee from an attack, officials, his family and friends said on Friday. Michael Bloss, 38, was working for US private security firm Custer Battles. He was killed on Thursday morning protecting workers who came under attack in the town of Hit. "They were pinned down by fire," said Beth Fox, operations manager for the National Sports Centre for the Disabled in Denver. "He was protecting three workers. They were able to escape. Mike held off the attackers and Mike was killed." Britain's Press Association news agency printed extracts from an e-mail Mr Bloss had written to his former colleagues on Wednesday expressing fears about increasing unrest in Iraq. "We are expecting to be overrun tonight and we may have to fight our way to a safe haven," the email said. "Unfortunately all the safe havens are already under attack."

2359 NFETD

11APR04 (Journal)

2125 local

Happy Easter. Today I got Easter bullets— some 9 short from the Provost Marshall and 7.62 x 54mm for my Dragunov from Chuzu.

Body found on Rte Irish (BIAP road) today— forgot to ask ethnicity— it was a suspected IED. That’s a first.

“Under the absolute sway of one man, the body was attacked in order to subdue the soul; but the soul escaped the blows which were directed against it and rose proudly superior. Such is not the course adopted by tyranny in democratic republics; there the body is left free, and the soul is enslaved. The master no longer says, “You shall think as I do or die,” but he says, “you are free to think differently and to retain your life, your property, and all that you possess; but you are henceforth a stranger among your own people.”

— Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

The following quote from Conrad’s Heart of Darkness has always spoken to me, I understood it; it is the words of a man that has seen things, been somewhere, over the line and then come back. I understood it in high school and it speaks that much more to me here, now. In fact, by changing just a couple of words, it is uncanny how much it perfectly describes the overall mentality of the vast majority of those here in the dream zone. I think Conrad would be appalled. You want to understand what things are like here? Read Heart of Darkness and Steinbeck’s The Moon is Down; neither will make you very happy.

“I found myself back in the sepulchral city, resenting the sight of people hurrying through the streets to filch a little money from each other, to devour their infamous cookery, to gulp their unwholesome beer, to dream their insignificant and silly dreams. They trespassed upon my thoughts. They were intruders whose knowledge of life was to me an irritating pretense, because I felt so sure they could not possibly know the things I knew. Their bearing, which was simply the bearing of commonplace individuals going about their business in the assurance of perfect safety, was offensive to me like the outrageous flauntings of folly in the face of a danger it is unable to comprehend. I had no particular desire to enlighten them, but had some difficulty in restraining myself from laughing in their faces, so full of stupid importance.”

“I found myself back in the sepulchral palace, resenting the sight of people hurrying through the halls to filch a little money from each other, to devour their infamous KBR cookery, to gulp their smuggled beer, to dream their insignificant and silly dreams of empire. They trespassed upon my thoughts. They were intruders whose knowledge of Iraq was to me an irritating pretense, because I felt so sure they could not possibly know the things I knew. Their bearing, which was simply the bearing of commonplace individuals going about their business in the assurance of perfect safety, was offensive to me like the outrageous flauntings of folly in the face of a danger it is unable to comprehend. I had no particular desire to enlighten them, but had some difficulty in restraining myself from laughing in their faces, so full of stupid importance.”

From Intel Log:

0535 2 launches and 2 impacts heard. AR OP reports impact/s ivo IP station or trailer park behind it.

0537 Rich reports smoke ivo the back gate and small arms fire ivo CP2. POO was from west not south. POI was 50m north from back T-wall towards intersection. 1 round also impact in KBR camp MB XXXXX

0553 Giant Voice goes off.

0630 All clear

1132 as of a 10:26 report: RT XXXXX Closed - Overpasses destroyed - 4 places, 200 lb explosives still located on some overpasses. RT XXXXX Closed as a result of yesterday's ambushes

1308 Two U.S. Troops, Civilians Missing in Iraq – Two American troops and an unknown number of civilian contractors are missing in Iraq after an attack on a fuel convoy west of Baghdad, a Defense Department official said on Friday. "We do have the two U.S. service members unaccounted for, and an unknown number of contractors," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Witnesses at the scene of the convoy attack said at least nine people were killed. Several vehicles were ablaze and overturned.

1403 Two members of Germany's crack GSG-9 security police team serving with their mission in Baghdad have gone missing and may be dead, German government officials confirmed Saturday. From Amman, it was reported that the two were last seen when their diplomatic convoy was pounded by rockets and gunfire last Wednesday. A driver who had been with the convoy described how it was attacked near the rebel bastion of Fallujah.

1919 We had a call last night at about 12h00 clock from someone of C Mat in the north port that they received information that they planning a attack on the north or south port. We evacuated all the personnel back to Kuwait last night after we received the call. We also closed the construction site as from last night and will be closed to all construction personnel and any vehicles coming onto site. We will monitor the situation today and will send you full report this afternoon in my Sitrep.

2352 Bush Prays for a Drop in Iraq Casualties President Bush said on Easter Sunday he was praying for American casualties to ebb in Iraq, but he braced the public for more in a U.S.-led fight that he described as "right for the security of our country.” Asked whether he expected the violence to abate soon, Bush said: "It's hard to tell. I know this, that we're plenty tough, and we'll remain tough."

Letter circa 15APR04


I am sorry that you are leaving and I suspect that it will only sink in when you are indeed gone. I will miss dearly being able to call you up and rant about the latest ‘stupidity’ or get your opinion on whatever. It will be lonelier without you around. But on the other hand, I’m glad you’re going as things are only going to get worse.

I have been continually impressed by you (though I’ll never admit to it) and you have unwittingly screwed any number of US consuls who will follow as you have set the standard by which they will be judged— god help them.

I will never be able to thank you enough for all the help and just being around, so I won’t, but thanks anyway.

That Jimmy Buffet party, isn’t that where you ran off with Mike to deeply discuss Star Trek something or other, seems a lifetime ago— good god, who would have imagined this mess?

In any case, honestly, it has been my great pleasure to know you and don’t be surprised if I show up on your doorstep in whatever corner of the world you find yourself, insurrection or no.

Fair winds and following seas,

Capt. Infidel, S7G

From Intel Log:

0042 Iraq Kidnappers Kill Italian Hostage - Arabic television Al Jazeera said on Wednesday the kidnappers of four Italians in Iraq had killed one hostage and were threatening to kill the rest. The Qatar-based channel gave no more details.

1051 Losing Falluja Gillo Pontecorvo's brilliant 1965 film The Battle of Algiers - which details the brutal Algerian war of independence against France - was recently screened at the Pentagon, billed as "How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas". The evidence so far is that US military policy-makers learned nothing from it.

1428 2 IZ bodyguards left the MMI complex last night to pick up UID principals in a 2003 Nissan Patrol (were in the possession of 1x vehicle pass and 2x ID cards. Whereabouts are currently unknown, have been missing since last seen departing the MMI complex, did not arrive at their destination. This is an initial report.

2340 US defends tactics at Falluja "There has never been a more humane campaign... and that goes for operations in Falluja," Gen Richard B Myers said during a visit to Baghdad. Gen Myers said the Pentagon had approved a request by US commanders in Iraq for extra troops, without giving figures. Asked about the threat posed by Mr Sadr and his followers, he described the cleric as a "marginal" figure and said the violence in Shia cities this month was the work of "very small groups" which did not enjoy wide support. "This was not an uprising," he said.

17APR04 (Journal)

2006 local

They started rationing food yesterday— only ten days of stores left and that’s with offering only MREs for breakfast. It’s not funny at all but so ridiculous you have to laugh. They laughed at me when I stocked up on MREs and told them that I wanted shit-teens of H2O. Of course I never expected it quite this way or this soon…but I did expect it. And how did we get here? LP Bremer, paragon of freedom, democracy and good judgment decided to shut down a newspaper belonging to Muqtada al Sadr because it annoyed him. Now the southern supply lines are cut as the south of the country spins dangerously out of control, KBR refusing to run resupply convoys. It’s okay if soldiers die on such missions; it is their job after all; but not at all okay if contractors die (video of ambush vs KBR convoy). More brilliant planning on the Pentagon’s part— read dumsfeld. Just how many ways can this thing be mismanaged? I guess we are doomed to find out.

“I sometimes say, I'm sure he doesn't mind me saying that, Bremer is the dictator of Iraq.”

“Bremer is the dictator of Iraq. He has the money. He has the signature. Nothing happens without his agreement in this country”

“"If you want neat and tidy get a dictatorship," one official said, adding that the U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, was sitting in on the council talks.”

“But Bremer has no reputation as a diplomat. Visiting Kurdistan, he asked, "Who is that?" on seeing the portrait of Mustafa Barzani, the late Kurdish freedom fighter. This is analogous to a foreign diplomat asking, "Who is that?" on seeing the portrait of George Washington.”

“When questioned by Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback as to why the Iraqis should include the words `Islam is the religion of the State,` in their constitution, Joseph says Bremer replied, 'That is for the Iraqis to decide -- after all the British constitution is `Christian.` To which Sen. Brownback fired back that Britain does not have a constitution.”

“I've been working with -- I should say against terrorist groups for more than 20 years now…” — L. Paul Bremer, III

"Same donkey, different blanket.” Iraqi Saying

BIAP or Bust! (Journal)

Got Beth out of here this AM. Poor kid, went down to check on the route before going out to meet her and it was closed with no ETA for being open— IEDs. I went out to get her, no kit on, and she had to have known immediately that something was wrong. I told her to come up to the office and get some coffee. The poor kid almost lost it. I could tell she was already winging west in her mind and couldn’t stand another night in this god-forsaken place. She was actually ready to go with Kroll in only two vehicles down back roads— not the greatest idea in the world, especially with the main route closed.

There was an Army unit next to us who were fixing to rotate back to the states. They had a bunch of gear that they were leaving in country but regs prevented them from them just giving it to us. They had to drive all the way up to LSA Anaconda in Balad, a good haul, risking life and limb, kick the gear out of their trucks into giant burn pits and we, having driven up in their convoy with them, proceeded to grab the stuff they were dumping into the pit and threw it into our trucks. We pretty much grabbed every fucking thing they dumped and then drove back down to Baghdad in their convoy with them with all the same gear, only in different trucks now, ours. Any number of people could have been killed in this exercise in futility because of the fucking regs, the people who write them, enforce them and follow them. In many ways, the Army is self-defeating, from within. As it was, Hwy 1 was blocked on the way up because of an IED that the ended up getting blown in place after we sat there in all this Iraqi traffic for a good forty minutes. On the way back, the main gate out of Anaconda was closed due to an IED on the only road in. The convoy commander wanted to head out the back gate. I suggested that rather than driving out into the likely ambush we might want to hang around till they cleared the main route out. That idea was shot down. Unbelievable. We got lucky. There was either no ambush or we didn’t look tasty enough. In either case, the whole fucking day was a clear example of poor decision-making.

Anyway, the point of all that was that sneaking around back roads while the main route is shut down is an invitation for disaster. Fortunately for Beth, they opened Rte Irish about an hour later.

I’d had a bad feeling all morning and it wasn’t going away. You do what you gotta do though. Beth has asked us to take her, there still wasn’t really an operational DSS contingent yet and so she was left to get by as best she could. When we got on the road though, I could feel myself slipping into that altered/├╝ber state where I knew that even if things went wrong, that they couldn’t go wrong. I don’t know how else to explain it

We got her to the airport no problems and got back safely. I was sorry to see her go though. We lost a good friend and there was one fewer of us.

“"Brazil"-like levels of implausibility in the face of reality are visible at the Coalition Provisional Authority, the hub of American operations in Iraq.”

From Intel Log:

1055 We are dealing with the Army's ineptitude. Had another mortar round hit the gym, again. It just reopened. New impact was 5M from the last. What is the military waiting for? 6 more maimed people. This shit can't be a surprise, all expats have been predicting this for 3 months! SG.

1116 Rich reports that none of his IPs showed up for work today- even the four that sleep on the compound. 1 of them told him that they were ‘heeding to the warning’.

1343 Two explosions heard.

1350 Jack calls and reports that a rocket just flew over the Baghdad Hotel- TOF was about 1 second. People were pointing 1 block to the NE and travel of rocket was S/SW.

1400 Yep, it's hard to believe that our army is so inept that they have been beaten by a bunch of bare footed primitives. I rue the day. We have excellent soldiers but they have poor leaders. I talk to the kids and they are as frustrated as you and I. It was quiet here last night, we will see what happens. SG.

1414 Germans Killed in Iraq Warned Many Times for Danger of Attack According to reports of German Focus magazine the convoy of the two German anti terrorist servicemen had been warned many times of the danger of attack, reports DPA. According to the data the Germans had known the risk even before starting from the Jordan capital. The attack happened at the Iraqi town of Falluja.

2128 Iraqi Forces Resent Fighting Countrymen Iraqi security forces fighting alongside Marines in Fallujah are angry, saying they're outgunned by Sunni insurgents and resent being sent to fight fellow Iraqis. "Eighty percent of us want to leave and go to Baghdad" because they don't want to fight civilians in Fallujah, said Amar Hussein, a medic in the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. The 36th ICDC Battalion was supposed to be the elite of the U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces, with members drawn from the militias run by various members of the Governing Council in order to fight insurgents who have been attacking U.S. forces and their Iraqi allies for months.

2314 Generals weary of low troop levels In the afterword following his brilliant account of the actual war, Atkinson wrote: ''Pentagon planners in early May had predicted that U.S. troop levels would be down to 30,000 by late summer [of 2003].'' That was the first time that prediction had been seen in print by startled readers at the Defense Department. The existing 125,000 troop level (currently at 135,000 because of replacements) is considered inadequate by the generals. The uniformed military does not speak out publicly, but the generals are outraged. A former national security official considers the relationship at the Pentagon between civilians and the military as worse than at any time in his long career. Many confide that they will not cast their normal Republican votes on Nov. 2. They cannot bring themselves to vote for John Kerry, who has been a consistent Senate vote against the military. But they say they are unable to vote for Don Rumsfeld's boss, and so will not vote at all.

Follow-Up Note:

Blackwater would prove to have a slow learning curve. On 05JUN04 a two vehicle convoy was ambushed on BIAP Road resulting in 4 x KIA and 2 x WIA out of 7 total pax. Once again the convoy consisted of only two vehicles, one armored and one soft-skinned. They could have used a second armored vehicle but decided against it as the air conditioner was inop at the time. That decision cost the four their lives as all the KIA were riding in the soft-skin Suburban. It wasn’t so hot in early June that an inop AC unit should have been a factor for an approx five minute sprint. And even if it was hot as hell…hot/dead; take your pick.

“Though the major road is heavily traveled, it "seems to be one where ambushes are not unheard of in that area."”

— Chris Bertelli, Blackwater spokesman commenting on BIAP Road

While the Americans ponder their response to the killings (Fallujah), it has emerged that other US security officers in Iraq who fear they will meet the same fate are planning to strengthen their weaponry with grenades and high-powered machineguns.

Most private guards in Iraq have relied on Kalashnikovs or MP5 machine pistols and sidearms, believing that their superior military training made them a match for insurgents.

Mr Nance said his personnel would be using "massive firepower". "People are going into battle now. In military terms, we describe a grenade as a 'break-contact' device used as a final option to stop any contact in an attack.

British security companies, which tend to adopt a lower-key approach, are alarmed by the prospect of US guards increasing their weaponry.

"The last thing we need is loads of Americans running round grenading people," one manager said. "But I fear that a few may end up carrying grenades, and God knows what other weapons, too."

Different company. Three KIA in this ambush.

And Death Shall Have No Dominion

Dylan Thomas, 1936

And death shall have no dominion.

Dead mean naked they shall be one

With the man in the wind and the west moon;

When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,

They shall have stars at elbow and foot;

Though they go mad they shall be sane,

Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;

Though lovers be lost love shall not;

And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.

Under the windings of the sea

They lying long shall not die windily;

Twisting on racks when sinews give way,

Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;

Faith in their hands shall snap in two,

And the unicorn evils run them through;

Split all ends up they shan't crack;

And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.

No more may gulls cry at their ears

Or waves break loud on the seashores;

Where blew a flower may a flower no more

Lift its head to the blows of the rain;

Through they be mad and dead as nails,

Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;

Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,

And death shall have no dominion.

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