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

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chapter V.6


…We travel not for trafficking alone;

By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned;

For lust of knowing what should not be known

We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand



The Dude Abides...


Assessment for Fallujah and South-Central Iraq 25APR05


Summary

This assessment will briefly look at the events that led to the current situation in the south-central region and Fallujah and assessed probable courses of action and outcomes. The Coalition has by omission and commission found itself in two corners with no good way out of either. We are currently assessed as two incidents away from a country-wide insurrection- one that rallies the Shia and cements the Sunnis, and another that ignites the Shi’ites latent resentment towards the coalition.


Fallujah

On 05APR04, The Marines long-term mission in Iraq was hijacked and they were ordered to bring Fallujah to its knees and bring those responsible for the death and desecration of four contractors to justice. A unilateral ceasefire was announced by the coalition 10APR04 after high casualties and growing resistance. During negotiations, the coalition quietly dropped its demand that those responsible for the death and mutilation of the contractors he handed over. Since then, a tenuous peace has been held but to date, the Fallujahns have failed to meet any of the demands of the coalition for lifting the siege.


The coalition sacrificed their long term goals and mission in the Al Anbar Province in an effort to exact revenge for four contractors and has now succeeded in failing at both. However, it has managed to tie down a large portion of its available troops not in reconstruction but in a siege, exponentially increased anti-coalition resentment in Iraq, handed the insurgents a focal point around which to rally, and worked themselves into a position where the consequences of pulling back or pushing forward are equally terrifying.


South-Central

In the south-central region, Muqtada Sadr, who has been a relatively minor player in the reconstruction of Iraq, all but left out of the political process since its inception, has managed to trump all other hands and marginalize the moderate Shi’ite voice by playing his cards first. Even Shi’ites who do not actively support or even like Sadr, have come to sympathize with him and support his campaign against the coalition[1]. CJTF-7’s inability to correctly read the situation that began to emerge from reporting 04APR04 and then failing to react in a timely manner allowed Muqtada Sadr and his militia to effectively gain control of the majority of the south-central region in a coup that had likely been planned months in advance. This was a crushing blow to the coalition’s image as legitimately able to bring stability, security, and democracy to Iraq.


Currently, rhetoric by both Sadr and the coalition has escalated the situation. More disturbing, is Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani’s statements that any attempts by the coalition to enter Najaf or Karbala to arrest or kill Sadr would be met by an Iraq-wide Shi’ite uprising.


Again, the coalition has found itself in a position where it cannot turn back and does not know how to proceed, which it must. The next few days are likely to indicate how things will go in Iraq:


Assessment


§ The Fallujahns have never intended to surrender or lay down their arms and do not intend to do so now. Furthermore, they must resume the fight or lose all gains made in fighting prior to the ceasefire[2].


§ The extension of the truce in Fallujah is a ploy to allow the finalizing of positions, planning, and rearmament by the Fallujahns. The timeline specified will take them within a day of Saddam’s birthday[3] and four days from the anniversary of George Bush’s “the end of hostilities” speech.


§ The Fallujahns will likely recommence operations against the Marines the afternoon/evening of 27APR04 forcing the Marines to attempt to take Fallujah once and for all, as promised. It is possible that HMMWVs previously reported stolen will be used in attacks.


§ The Marines (approx 2,500) do not have enough personnel in Fallujah to obtain the desired ratio of three to one (attackers to defenders). Although there are only an estimated 2,000 insurgents within Fallujah, it is likely that the majority of the residents will fight with the insurgents (approx only a quarter of the 300,000 residents have fled the city.) The nature of the fighting (urban combat) will negate a number of the Marines superior assets, i.e. – close air support, armor.


§ The Marines will take Fallujah but at a tremendous cost in both friendly and civilian lives. It is highly likely that such an operation will further inflame anti-coalition sentiments in every part of Iraq outside of the Kurdish controlled north (not including Mosul) and possibly lead to a general Iraqi uprising across the entire country[4].


§ In addition to operations in Fallujah, insurgents will likely open a third front in Baghdad as has been previously threatened. This will likely include: rocket/mortar attacks/barrages vs coalition FOBs and the ‘dream’ zone, ambushes of coalition patrols, heavy fighting in Sadr City and adjacent Sunni districts, and VBIED attacks vs high-profile targets (possibly using stolen HMMWVs). As the coalition forces currently reestablishing control of MSR/ASRs will be likely required in Fallujah, Baghdad, or south-central; lines of supply will once again fall under control of insurgents who will attempt to cut those lines through physical destruction of bridges and attacks against convoys.


§ Muqtada Sadr will likely use the resumption of hostilities in Fallujah to recommence operations in the south-central. The most likely course of action would involve attempting to overrun a coalition base in Karbala or Najaf forcing coalition forces to respond in strength. Sadr knows that he will be strongest fighting from the defensive and will attempt to lure the coalition into attacking into his defenses[5].


§ The coalition may not wait for Sadr and move into Najaf on their own[6], hoping that previous threats[7] by Shi’ites of a general anti-coalition backlash or uprising are hollow. The current plan of trying to outwait him does not seem to be working and is actually damaging the coalition’s image[8].


§ Muqtada Sadr’s current campaign is assessed to have been largely planned and directed with Iranian help. It would appear that the number one reason for the success of his coup in south-central was due to extensive pre-planning and groundwork[9], conducted using his own and Iranian networks prior 01APR04. The ‘uprising’ was likely not a spontaneous event but was already in place and waiting for the proper time, which was conveniently provided by LP Bremer’s closure of Sadr’s two-bit newspaper.


§ Ba’athist remnants have realized the benefit to be gained by Sadr maintaining a second front in the insurrection and have actively assisted him in doing so.[10]


§ Muqtada Sadr is unable to engender popular support from moderate Shi’ites without conflict with the Coalition. Furthermore, although amassing some symbolic victories against the Coalition, his current position is more a result of the Coalition’s lack of situational awareness and inaction than any hard-fought battles by or on behalf of himself. He has still not cemented his name as a legitimate player or his control of power and the Shi’ite voice. He desperately needs to continue to engage Coalition forces in order to support his claims and generate support.


§ If the Iranians deem it necessary to meet strategic goals, they will not hesitate to have Sadr killed in such a way as to incite Shi’ite anger against the coalition.


§ Any prolonged fighting in the south-central or any fighting in the old city portions of Karbala or Najaf is likely to lead to increased Shi’ite participation against the Coalition. It is likely to also further marginalize Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani, who will be faced with either supporting Sadr and insurrection amid a growing popular Shi’ite movement or lose a majority of his powerbase.


§ Based upon the fact that the ‘hand-picked’ Iraqi Governing Council is to be replaced by a new hand-picked one by Lakdar Brahimi, it is likely that many Iraqis currently involved in the political process may decide that a political solution is no longer a viable option and shift their efforts to driving the Coalition out of Iraq. To date, there has been no statement by Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani on the Brahimi plan. If al-Sistani loses faith in a legitimate political solution, it is almost a given that all Shi’ites will join the insurrection in one form or another.


Conclusion:

The coalition must move forward in Fallujah and the south-central. Both are tying up critical resources, adding to the rampant instability, seriously degrading the reconstruction effort, and likely impeding any attempt to hand over sovereignty 30JUN04. However, the risks involved are considerable and one will likely influence the other. The Iraqi forces arrayed against the Coalition understand the military-political situation and will likely attempt to force the Coalition into action if the Coalition does not act on its own. The assessed most likely outcome is Iraq-wide insurrection against the Coalition, a complete halt to reconstruction, and a shift in the spectrum back to all-out warfare.



23APR04— Email fr0m Beth

Funny -- the longer I'm away from Iraq, the more relieved I am -- the mood at State is very negative and quite a lot of people believe something really bad is going to happen soon in Iraq -- I had a surprisingly frank meeting yesterday on how we're preparing (or should I say not preparing) State officers going to Iraq -- really quite disturbing.


Anyway, when you stop having fun, that's when you should consider leaving -- life's way too short -- as I sat in my kayak on the Potomac last night watching the sun set over the Lincoln Memorial, I had to ask myself whether Iraq was worth giving that up -- in some ways yes, but in many other ways no.


From Intel Log:

1410 US officer threatens to turn Fallujah into “a killing field” An unnamed senior American officer told yesterday’s New York Times that the US forces besieging the predominantly Sunni Muslim Iraqi city of Fallujah could turn it into “a killing field in a couple of days”. The statement, filled with murderous intent, is only one of the more chilling indications that the Bush administration has ordered the military to drown the city of 300,000 in blood and make it an example of what will happen in other areas of Iraq if the three-week uprising against the US occupation continues.

1446 McCain Iraq warning The U.S. would have to fold tents in Iraq and bring the troops home if the new Iraqi government tells it to go after June 30, Sen. John McCain said yesterday. "It's obvious we would have to leave," said McCain (R-Ariz.), stressing that he did not expect such a demand from the government that will be appointed to rule from July until elections can be held next year. But McCain told the Council on Foreign Relations that if the new government wanted a pullout, "I don't see how we could stay," contradicting statements made to Congress yesterday by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. In a closed session, Rice said U.S. forces would stay indefinitely even if Iraqis want them out.

2330 Don't know since I haven't seen any USAID folks since I've been back. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of USAID folks went on "R&R". Also, most of USAID's staff actually work for IRG (very few are USAID direct hires) and their one year contract has expired -- I don't know whether they won a new contract or not -- but either way, it’s a good excuse for IRG USAID staff to leave. I do know that there is a temporary hold on new arrivals to CPA, but I'm not sure why - I know one person is supposed to go as a new CPA employee (despite my dire warnings) but he's been put on hold for several weeks now. I think you're right about the lull -- they are regrouping and planning -- frankly, I hope you're not there when it explodes.



Summary of Major Contact in Al Anbar Province 12FEB04-26APR04


Major activity in Fallujah and the surrounding areas of the Al Anbar Province are not a new phenomenon. Going back to 12FEB04, seven separate incidents demonstrate a well trained insurgent force that is capable of operating squad size units in large numbers while conducting coordinated attacks on multiple axis with combined and supporting arms. Although there was mandatory conscription in Iraq, the above stated ability points to well trained, career military forces as well as probable foreign fighter involvement.


Coalition reporting has continually stated that they believe there are about 2,000 insurgents and only 200 foreign fighters in Fallujah. However, unconfirmed reporting on the street indicates approximately 2,000 foreign fighters are in Fallujah.


In almost every incident detailed below, the insurgents initiated the contact and then stood and fought, often in numbers. Prior to this, the only other stand and fight battle took place 30NOV03 in the ambush vs US Army and currency transfer assets in Samarra. It is apparent that the Marines cannot move within Fallujah without those movements being known by the insurgents and it would also appear that they are able to organize their ambushes/attacks with little lead time.



12FEB04 Ambush v Abizaid, Fallujah

John Abizaid, commander of all US forces in the West Asia, escaped injury in a gun battle on Thursday at a local headquarters of a US-sponsored Iraqi security force. No US soldiers and no one in Abizaid's traveling party were injured. Just moments after a convoy carrying Abizaid and his party pulled inside the cinderblock walls at the headquarters of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps in this city west of Baghdad, an explosion rang out. Seconds later, two more explosions were heard near the rear of the compound, and US soldiers responded with a barrage of rifle and machinegun fire. Several attackers fired three rocket-propelled grenades, and another pelted the party with small arms fire from a nearby mosque. The gun battle that lasted about six minutes. Abizaid was accompanied by Major General Charles Swannack, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division. After the gun battle, Abizaid and Swannack cancelled plans to walk into the city and instead returned to a US military base near Fallujah.


A defense official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was likely the insurgents had been tipped off to the presence of the senior general. But Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations chief in Baghdad, told journalists he wasn't ready to draw that conclusion.



14FEB04 Direct Action Assault v IP Station and ICDC HQ, Fallujah

Guerrillas shouting "God is great" staged a brazen assault on the main police station here on Saturday, blasting their way inside, killing at least 15 police officers and freeing dozens of prisoners. The attack on the police station was unusually bold and sophisticated, with the insurgents advancing from four sides, firing heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.


The assault was coupled with a simultaneous attack on an Iraqi civil defense headquarters about a mile away, intended to hold that center in check while the prison break unfolded. In all, the insurgents numbered 30 to 50, operating with heavy firepower in morning light. The goal of the raid, which lasted several minutes, was unclear, but there were indications that it was intended to free a small group held inside. American officials estimated that 70 prisoners had escaped, most of them common criminals, although the Iraqis put the figure higher. One police officer said the attackers had taken 18 prisoners with them. The attack began at 8 a.m., when many of the officers were at breakfast. The assailants threaded through the barricade wall and barbed wire that ringed the area.


The gunmen also attacked the local mayor's office, about a half mile away, police said.


Guerrillas shouting "God is great" launched a bold daylight assault Saturday on an Iraqi police station and a security compound west of Baghdad, meeting little resistance as they gunned down policemen and freed prisoners in a battle that killed 23 people, police said. Most of the dead were police. At least 37 people, all but six of them police, were wounded in the assault, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior in Baghdad. One shop owner across the street from the compound said he and his neighbors had been told by guerrillas not to open Saturday morning because an attack was imminent. Around 25 attackers, some masked, surrounded the police station and stormed the building, going from room to room and throwing hand grenades, survivors said. At the same time, another group of attackers, shouting Islamic slogans "God is great" and "There is no god but Allah," opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns on the nearby, heavily protected compound of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. Iraqi security forces, firing from the concrete and sand barricades in front of the compound, battled the attackers for a half-hour in the streets. Police Lt. Col. Jalal Sabri said 21 people were killed, almost all police. Among the dead were four attackers, two of whom carried Lebanese passports, he said. Two other attackers were captured, and the rest escaped. Around 87 prisoners were freed, the Interior Ministry said. Hamed called the attack "well organized," saying some gunmen pinned down the defense corps forces while others stormed the nearby police station where the prisoners were freed. No American forces could be seen in the battle. Of the 33 wounded, 25 were policemen, said Adel Ali, the hospital's deputy director. Hamed of the defense corps said no members of that force were killed or wounded.


Police officer Ali Mahdi was inside the compound when the raid started. "The teams were about to change shifts and they attacked as we were preparing to take our weapons. It took us by surprise," he said. The group of up 50 masked gunmen who carried out the raid had several lines of attack, back-up vehicles, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy explosives, completely outgunning the police officers and their Kalashnikovs. Mahdi and several of his colleagues guarding the bullet-riddled police station also reckoned that simultaneous attacks on a nearby building for the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) and the mayor's office were a diversion. "We are trained policemen but we need the Americans to give us weapons to defend ourselves. We are not allowed more than 14 bullets per magazine when our attackers have RPGs and better rifles," he complained.


Note- This attack is especially important for the following:

-There is reporting that indicates that some of the attackers may have been dressed in uniforms of the new Iraqi Army.


-The attack utilized mortars, RPGs, machine guns, and snipers for support, and small arms and grenades for CQB/room clearing.


-Three sites were attacked simultaneously. It would appear that the Mayor’s office may have been attacked as a diversionary tactic or to draw off reinforcements while an element attacked and pinned down ICDC personnel within their walled compound to cover the assault team which stormed and overran the Iraqi police station and released the prisoners held within. Also, other reporting indicates that blocking positions were set up on the avenues of approach, one of which engaged and drove off a US Army QRF.


-This was a well planned, coordinated, and executed assault. It is likely that the group rehearsed this assault, at least at the team/element level. It is also probable that there may be training camps within Iraq or in close proximity to its borders. Tactically, the attack was a success; strategically and symbolically it was a huge victory, which may become the new rallying point for the insurgency.


-The insurgents have successfully demonstrated all the capabilities necessary to breech a CP and assault to penetrate a CPA compound. On 11DEC03, a suicide car bomber was able to sneak a bomb hidden inside a truck full of furniture into Camp Champion in Ar Ramadi. On 18JAN04, a suicide car bomber effectively rendered CP 1 to the ‘dream’ zone inoperable and penetrable by a follow-on force.



26MAR04 Ambush v Marines, Fallujah

As many as 16 people, including a United States marine, were killed in a series of gun battles on Friday, as guerrilla violence swept the Sunni-dominated areas north and west of Baghdad in the latest show of strength by the insurgency here. In the fighting on Friday, the attackers showed sophistication and ease of movement, despite the assertions of American officers that they are close to defeating the insurgency led by members of Saddam Hussein's fallen government and are dealing with a smaller number of foreign-led Islamic terrorists. The fighting broke out when more than 300 marines entered a neighborhood on foot and were fired on by Iraqis. "The insurgents had the Americans surrounded, and they had the advantage, because they knew the neighborhood and the Americans did not," said Omar Ali, an Iraqi cameraman for the APTN television network, who was standing next to the ABC cameraman when he was killed. "When the Americans called for the reinforcements, the insurgents withdrew." "When the Americans came into the neighborhood, the guerrillas attacked them with mortars and R.P.G.'s," said Qasim Ubaid, an electrician who lives in the neighborhood. "The Americans were surrounded."



06APR04 Ambush v Marines, Ar Ramadi

The fighting here started as a series of well-coordinated Iraqi ambushes of routine Marine patrols. It turned into a day of nonstop, house-to- house, roof-to-roof fighting with Marines at times surrounded and holding on desperately. It was a cacophony of fire for five or six hours, leaving the bodies of Iraqi attackers lying mangled in the dust, one with its head gone, but still clad in a vintage U.S.-made flak jacket. American Cobra and Chinook helicopters thumped overhead, and Bradley Fighting Vehicles rumbled on the roads. At least 12 Marines were killed here, and 30 others injured. Ten of those killed were in Echo Company, which was the first unit attacked in Ramadi. "They did a very heroic, very courageous job," the unit's commander, Capt. Kelly Royer, said. The fierce daylong battle took place across this city of 420,000 people, 30 miles west of Fallujah, which is itself targeted and surrounded by coalition forces a week after four American civilian security guards there were killed, mutilated, burned and left hanging from a bridge. The ambushes were launched in bright daylight by what appeared to be four well-armed and coordinated groups of attackers in units of 10 to 15. The patrolling Marines were slammed by M-16s, heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars. The attackers appeared acquainted with the Marines' patterns of patrol. The coalition forces responded with massive fire, armor and air support. Fighting raged around one street corner in particular and extended to other areas. At one point, Marines fought house-to-house, some even leaping from one rooftop to the next as they chased and caught some of the insurgents.


In the mid-day hours of April 6, Marines from 3rd Platoon were patrolling the streets of Ar Ramadi when they began to receive fire. "We had heard that Golf Company had been hit earlier," 21-year-old Lance Cpl. John R. Huerkamp, a 2nd Squad team leader, said. "A few minutes later we heard that the guys from 3rd Squad, 3rd Platoon had also been hit." Otey described the first few seconds of the attack. "I remember when we got to our objective I started to hear 'tink, tink, tink,'" Otey, 24-year old from Louisville, Ken. "I was like, 'Man, we're being shot at. Get out of the vehicle.'" The squad returned fire for about 15 minutes. They then raided the house from where the shooting was coming. "After we were done, we loaded back up and were heading back to base," Otey explained. "But then on the way back we got ambushed." The squad's convoy was split, and two Humvee were under heavy small-arms fire Otey immediately jumped out of the unarmored vehicle and sought cover behind a concrete wall. The rest of the Marines remained inside the vehicle and returned fire. "Our vehicle was going to help (Otey's) Humvee, but we didn't make it in time," Cpl. Marcus D. Waechter, 21-year-old from Mckinny, Texas, added. No one is sure what happened in the moments before the other vehicles returned to Otey's Humvee. Time and events are jumbled among the survivors and recollections sometimes don't match up from on Marine to another. One thing is certain. By the time reinforcement arrived, all but one passenger in the truck was dead. The sole survivor was Otey who was still laying down fire from behind the wall. "When we got to the scene, we saw a Humvee canted on the side of the road with the windshield shattered," said the Vernal, Utah, sailor. "There were dead bodies all over the place and the closer I got to the vehicle I could see it was covered in blood." "We all took cover. There was firing coming from all directions," Otey said. "They were shooting AK-47s, RPK machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades." After a fierce fight, the squad was able to gain control of the situation but not before losing most of their own Marines. The remaining Marines were divided up amongst the other two squads in 3rd Platoon. The company continued to fight all over Ar Ramadi for several more hours before returning to the camp.



13APR04 Ambush v Marines, Fallujah

The marine heard shouting. He rolled up the window curtain, thinking it was US troops coming to the rescue. Instead, he faced a 20-year-old Iraqi pointing an AK-47 rifle. The enemies' shadows spilled through the crack at the bottom of the gated compound where the 15 marines sprinted to after the armored tracker broke down a kilometer (mi) inside insurgent-controlled southwestern Fallujah. An ambulance pulled up; three insurgents with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGS) poured out. "They were everywhere," the marine said. Bullets, RPGs and hand grenades blasted the three-storey house where the marines were trapped; their armored tracker burnt meters (yards) away, with the corpse of their main gunner trapped inside. "God I hope my son doesn't grow up without a father," Staff Sergeant Ismael Sagredo, 35, thought as he battled for his life in one of the deadliest firefights between the Americans and insurgents since US marines launched a major offensive in Fallujah on April 4. On Tuesday, 16 US marines in an armored tracker were trying to flush out a sniper when they ran into some 600 insurgents lounging around with rocket-propelled grenades. "We took them by surprise. If they had more time to organize they would have killed us or taken us prisoner," Sagredo said. The three-hour battle revealed an enemy fiercer and more sophisticated than the marines had expected. It also foreshadows the dangers ahead as US troops looked beyond a patchy ceasefire to resume their offensive against their wily foes. "I can see now the enemy has a lot of assets. They are able to communicate and organize quickly just like us," Sagredo said. "They are not afraid to charge through a front door. They are ballsy." The chaotic fight deep in Fallujah's densely packed maze of brown concrete flats at 3:45 pm (1145 GMT) started when two US armored vehicles ran up parallel streets toward a sniper position just beyond their frontline. Sagredo's tracker hit a dead end and had to turn south. It was then they discovered the staging ground of 600 insurgents, who ranged in age from their 20's to 50's. Their tracker was quickly hit by three RPGs and the driver sped forward. Then an RPG punched through the plated amour, ripped out a chunk of Lieutenant Christopher Ayles's leg and smashed into the vehicle's engine, setting it ablaze. The fire trapped the gunner, Corporal Kevin Kolm. The squad's medic ran into the wall of flame to try to save the lieutenant and suffered second degree burns to his face. Marines restrained him as he tried to lunge forward. They emptied a fire extinguisher to no avail. The driver floored the vehicle down a street nicknamed "Shithead ally." Smoke filled the vehicle and the marines fired shots at the insurgents chasing them. The vehicle veered east and then suddenly broke down. Marines bolted out of the top, knowing it could explode any second and set off its ammunition. The gunner's hatch was locked shut. They could hear Kolm moaning and screaming. The wounded lieutenant managed to hoist himself out and hung onto the roof. He couldn't see and groped along the railing. Sagredo and a lance corporal tried to pull him over the edge and catch him, but his bullet-proof vest snagged on a hook. They had to tear him off the tracker, catch him and drag Lieutenant Ayles to the house. Sagredo looked at Ayles leg and thought: "I hope Ayles will be able to run and play with his little daughter." They ran, carrying the lieutenant, but knew gunner Kolm was probably already dead inside the flaming tanker and they could do nothing to free him. "It was hard to watch that track burn and explode, knowing that a marine was inside," Sagredo said. "It melted like a toy car." From the white house, the troops kept firing off their M-16 assault rifles, SAW machine guns and nine-millimeter Beretta pistols. The medic, his face blistered, tended the lieutenant who bled profusely from a football-size chunk of flesh which had been ripped off his leg. Some marines were on the roof. Others on the main floor. They were down to their last two magazines. One insurgent made a death run into the yard and Sagredo shot him in the head and neck. A stray bullet punctured the kitchen's gas line and the marines thought the building might explode. It was then that 30 to 40 men, a combination of six armored Humvee from a Quick Reaction Force and four tanks rumbled down the street and started to push the insurgents back. Air strikes were called in on enemy firing positions. When the fighting cooled down, the marines dragged the tracker, with Kolm's corpse, back to their base.



17APR04 Ambush v Marines, Husaybah

Five US Marines were reportedly killed and nine wounded in one of the fiercest battles between US troops and Iraqi insurgents near the Syrian border. According to the report, nearly 300 Iraqi insurgents from Fallujah and Ramadi launched an offensive early against Marines in an outpost right next to the border city of Husaybah. The paper said at least nine Marines were wounded and more than 20 Iraqi fighters were captured in a 14-hour battle. The Iraqi prisoners were taken to the Marines' main base, Camp Al Qaim, for questioning. Cobra helicopter gunships were still strafing enemy positions around the soccer stadium near downtown Husaybah, while medical evacuation helicopters carried wounded Marines back to Camp Al Qaim, according to the report.


Lance Cpl. Dustin Myshrall knew things were going to be bad from the moment he responded to the call for help from his fellow Marines. "There was nobody on Market Street (the city's busiest thoroughfare)," said Myshrall, 22, of Baton Rouge, La. "We were flying through the alleys and there weren't any of the little kids like you normally see. But we didn't know it was going to be this big." In some of the fiercest fighting in recent weeks, five Marines were killed and dozens of Iraqi insurgents slain in a daylong battle that began early Saturday in Husaybah. Marines beat back the offensive by what was reported to be hundreds of Iraqis from another area who had slipped into this city just 300 yards east of the Syrian border. According to Marine intelligence, nearly 300 Iraqi mujahedeen fighters from Fallujah and Ramadi launched the offensive in an outpost next to Husaybah, first setting off a roadside bomb to lure Marines out of their base and then firing 24 mortars as the Marines responded to the first attack. At least nine Marines were wounded and more than 20 Iraqi fighters were captured in the 14-hour battle. Marines awoke Saturday to the flurry of mortar rounds following the roadside bomb. According to the Marines, the insurgents apparently ignited the bomb as a decoy. A Marine unit responding to the bomb pulled in front of the former Ba’ath Party headquarters here at around 8:30 a.m. local time (12:30 p.m. EDT) and were met by rocket-propelled grenades and machine gun fire. The unit radioed for help, and a second group of Marines trying to reach them were hit by heavy mortar fire as they traveled along their normal route into the city. Once the second group of Marines arrived in the city, they were strafed by small arms and machine gun fire from insurgents hiding in homes along their route. All of the slain Marines were killed in the first 90 minutes of the battle, when they went to clear a house and were ambushed by Iraqis hiding in the building. The battalion commander, Lt. Col. Matthew Lopez, said he believed he was able to crush the enemy forces by calling in reinforcements from the rest of his 1,000-plus man unit at Camp Al Qaim. Marines cordoned off the city of about 100,000 residents, halting all traffic in and out except for women and children who were fleeing the fighting. According to Marine snipers reporting to their commanders by radio, some of the insurgents fired at Marines and then hid behind children.


"We're trying to get the snipers in position for a shot," Major George Schreffler told the other commanders through tactical radio communications. "They're looking at guys in blue uniforms and others with black clothes and black masks. Some are using children to shield themselves. We will not take shots in which we could possibly hit children." By 2:30 p.m., Marines had begun sweeping through the city and closing down exit routes. "Tell the Marines `be careful,' because there are a lot of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) on the East End Road," one commander told the other officers over the radio. By 3 p.m., the entire battalion was either engaged in the fight or preparing to relieve those who were already fighting. By 4:30 p.m., Marines had called in the first Cobra gunships, which strafed a number of enemy positions and backed ground units that were converging on enemy sites. By 6 p.m., Marines had the insurgents on the run. Fire from 50-caliber machine guns, 40 mm grenades, M-16s and Marine mortars crackled and exploded through the city.



26APR04 Ambush v Marines, Fallujah

Two Marines were killed and at least 13 more wounded in Fallujah on Monday in a bloody street battle fought close enough that the combatants tossed grenades and fired pistols at each other, officials said. "It was total chaos," said Navy Corpsman Jason Duty, 20, of New Concord, Ohio, one of the medics who pulled wounded men out of buildings and streets during the worst of the fighting. "It was just gunshots everywhere." The midday fighting quickly escalated from an isolated ambush into a full-scale battle in which Marine Cobra helicopters raked a mostly abandoned Fallujah neighborhood with missile and machine-gun fire and a tank brought the towering minaret of a prominent mosque crashing to the ground. The battle began as several recent battles have: after Marines left their lines to move deeper into the city. According to 1st Sgt. Bill Skiles, the senior noncommissioned officer of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, a platoon of about 40 Marines advanced about 200 yards beyond their lines before dawn Monday to clear buildings of snipers. After the troops sneaked into their positions, the insurgents surrounded them on three sides, Skiles said, and opened fire on the houses in which the Marines were hiding, getting close enough to toss grenades through the windows.


He said the Marines were also pinned down by rebel snipers shooting from several buildings, including a nearby mosque that was later demolished by tank fire. "They waited a few hours after we went in and then they attacked," said a stunned and angry Skiles several hours after the fighting Monday, staring off and shaking his head slowly from side to side as he repeated his words: "They waited, and then they attacked." Duty and Skiles said most of the Marines killed or wounded Monday were hit with shrapnel from grenades tossed by rebels into open windows. At least two of the Marines were also shot, said Duty, whose boots were black with the blood of his comrades as he recounted the fight. Duty said he had to fire his pistol at gunmen just to get into the building where Marines lay bleeding, still fighting off insurgents, some of whom were only 10 yards away. "I walk into a place like that - everyone's down - and you just don't know where to start," he said. "You just have to calm down and think, and then it all comes to you."


Skiles said Duty saved several of the Marines, and worked to save a fatally wounded Marine by continuing cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the back of a Humvee as it sped through enemy fire over a jarring ride to a field hospital. Skiles said the day brought the number of Marines wounded to 40 in the 140-man infantry company since they arrived in Fallujah in March. Four have been killed. "The Marines fought bravely," Skiles said. "It's tragic when we lose another of our own because we're like a family here. I'm just a first sergeant who cares about my boys."


In a televised briefing a few hours after the fighting, U.S. military officials in Baghdad justified the Marines' move beyond their lines and denied that they had breached the so-called cease-fire in Fallujah.


video

Postscript:

A US Marine commander attacked his military and civilian superiors yesterday for an initially over-aggressive and then vacillating strategy towards the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah. Lt Gen James Conway, who is relinquishing his command, said he had not wanted to mount an offensive against the town after the killing of four American defence contractors whose mutilated bodies were hung from a bridge in April. "We felt that we probably ought to let the situation settle before we appeared to be attacking out of revenge," he told reporters. "I think we certainly increased the level of animosity that existed." The ending of the offensive after three days, on the orders of the White House according to military sources, and the deaths of six marines, were also disastrous, he said. "When you order elements of a marine division to attack a city, you need to understand what the consequences will be and not perhaps vacillate in the middle of something like that. Once you commit you have to stay committed."


Another marine commander said the Fallujah Brigade, a local force given control of the town while marines pulled back, had turned out to be a "fiasco". Marine officers have said assault rifles, vehicles and radios given to the brigade by American forces ended up in the hands of insurgents.



Hohenlinden

by: Thomas Campbell (1777-1844)


ON Linden when the sun was low,

All bloodless lay the untrodden snow,

And dark as winter was the flow

Of Iser, rolling rapidly.


But Linden saw another sight

When the drum beat, at dead of night,

Commanding fires of death to light

The darkness of her scenery.


By torch and trumpet fast arrayed

Each horseman drew his battle blade,

And furious every charger neighed,

To join the dreadful revelry.


Then shook the hills with thunder riven,

Then rushed the steed to battle driven,

And louder than the bolts of heaven

Far flashed the red artillery.


And redder yet those fires shall glow

On Linden's hills of blood-stained snow,

And darker yet shall be the flow

Of Iser, rolling rapidly.


Tis morn, but scarce yon lurid sun

Can pierce the war-clouds, rolling dun,

Where furious Frank and fiery Hun

Shout in their sulphurous canopy.


The combat deepens. On, ye brave,

Who rush to glory, or the grave!

Wave, Munich, all thy banners wave!

And charge with all thy chivalry!


Ah! few shall part where many meet!

The snow shall be their winding-sheet,

And every turf beneath their feet

Shall be a soldier's sepulchre.



30APR04 (Journal)

2037 local


Burn Out

Where to start? Gut all wrenched up, feel like just bawling but can’t; wish I could wake up but already am.


Clouds, high, invisible in the night except for sporadic silver flashes of static lightning— no rain tonight, a promise but no fulfillment. The waiting, the watching…that is what wears at you, what eats at you till there is hardly anything left— a little at a time so you don’t notice till it’s too late. It’s also how we have been dying here, a slow trickle.


It is all over, we have failed, miserably, classically, inevitably. All that is left is to watch how it plays out. Can it hold till the transfer of power or will it crash sooner?


Fallujah— a thousand curses upon Blackwater, which runs shallower than most people know. This week especially…I don’t know if it’s just ‘cause I’m at the wall again, fucking Fallujah or both.


My heart has been so heavy, so dark this week. A nightmare that I cannot wake up from nor escape— sleep being only a restless reprieve. I long for the simple pleasure of being a grunt on the ground, of simple worries, lacking the ‘big’ picture.


The clouds come, wind blowing, promising confrontation, catharsis, resolution— but the rain doesn’t come and the weight is oppressive, inescapable. I have been here too long, but can’t leave. Tied to the eye of the storm, the still quiet at the middle, the belief that I can make a difference, that I can reach blindly into the bloody maelstrom and pull one more life out— that I am needed.


There is no joy in being right anymore. Today Pablo compared me to Cassandra— cursed with the ability to see the future, damned that no one would listen to her.


“What I must do is all that concerns me, not what people think…you will always find those who think they know what your duty is better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in the solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he, who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson


There are those, strange compatriots, also in the storm— so far away though. And still the rain won’t come.


Once you find yourself in a hole, the first order of business is to stop digging— stop sending bodies home in bags to avenge the dead, the stupid dead. I don’t know that I can make a difference anymore. Beth said that I had no idea what I did for the foreign dip corp and the truth is, I didn’t, don’t. I wish I did, for it might be some comfort, some strength in this despair.


I dream of home, of simple pleasures that most, myself included, take for granted. But I know I would be unhappy there; knowing that there were still others here. It may be stupid fucking pride to think that I can make a difference, but I cannot leave knowing that other’s are here. But I am not an angel; salvation, deliverance not mine to give or withhold. I do not lack the courage, only to shake this dis-ease. What is it that I seek but do not see? Where is the remittance, where the salvation?



Mercenary


I want you to see this trip, to see me

through my work:

as a cog, a tool, a part of a machine,

as something entirely dispensable;

a tragic but necessary (oh really?)

write-off so this great nation

can continue to produce, sell and drive

big, gas-guzzling cars.

I only want you here to know me through my job

so that the line between me the person—

whatever that is—

and my actions blur

until you can no longer tell the difference.

Only my job, my excessive drinking,

and the afflictions and bewitchments I suffer through;

only these.

These are my life.

Shot in scratchy, haze-gray black and white

with blindingly surreal moments of color.



The Jury of my Peers

“Perhaps I am being overly simply but I think your little comments seek to sway opinion and therefore BENEFIT the enemy, this puts you on the opposite side of this thing than me. I don’t have any more olive branches to extend.


“But have you seen what the IAC puts out, which is even more pure reporting? And the UN is just out there somewhere. You’re the first reliable source I’ve found!”


“Capt Infidel, Keep up the good fight my friend. These days TF Shield relies on your reports heavily as we primarily use nipernet.”


“I got a good report from a friend here who basically said that he wanted to meet the cynical bastard who rights all this stuff and looks forward to the great entertainment (loved the donkey comment the other day) that lightens the mood. Overall everyone has been very thankful because of what you're doing.”


“Capt Infidel, this is exceptional information. I have shared it with personnel at very high levels and they are truly appreciative of the information. Again the assessments and information you are providing is truly appreciated.”


“Remember that your intreps in the evening provide the strategic insight that shapes the operational and tactical level of activity. Your advice at that level has a direct correlation with what people can expect to happen on the ground. Keep up the outstanding work but rest now and then to stay fresh and alert. You have been predicting this for some time and I wonder if people other than me really believed you?”


“Capt Infidel, Thanks for all of your support over the last few months. The Intel updates and briefs I get from you and your folks have really helped prepare and make changes to our force protection posture at the north villa.”


“Capt Infidel, I just wanted to make sure that you know that those of us up here in the North, (even though we're with the competition ) greatly appreciate the support, intel, cynical words of wisdom, and the overall dogging of 2BCT. My 2ic has said, "I like reading Capt Infidel’s reports better than Bud's...... (but don't tell anyone that I said that)”


“On the subject of Intreps thanks for the past month's efforts. Without exception the Intreps coming out of XXXX Int have been incisive, pithy and about the only Intreps worthy of the name. And often quite amusing.”


“Capt Infidel, A brilliant piece of analysis.”


“As always well written with a logic and pattern that no one could deny. You insight is truly appreciated. Thanks!”


“Late, but nevertheless, grateful thanks for the IED information you gave me when I visited you. I also have permission to dispatch our Baghdad team hotfoot to your location to deliver a suitable reward in the form of strong liquid refreshment!! Thanks again for your help”


From Intel Log:

1123 More U.S. agents track Castro than Bin Laden The Treasury Department agency entrusted with blocking the financial resources of terrorists told Congress that at the end of last year it had just four full-time employees dedicated to investigating Osama bin Laden's and Saddam Hussein's wealth while nearly two dozen were working on Cuban embargo violations.

1511 Spot Report- Activity: ACF are now marking their IED location with dangling bricks from power lines that run along roadways, in the same fashion U.S. troops, in the United States military installations, hang their boots over the wires when they get out of the service.

1525 Bremer criticized Bush on terrorism before attacks L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, said in a speech six months before the Sept. 11 attacks that the Bush administration was "paying no attention" to terrorism. "What they will do is stagger along until there's a major incident and then suddenly say, 'Oh my God, shouldn't we be organized to deal with this,"' said Bremer at McCormick Tribune Foundation conference on terrorism on Feb. 26, 2001.

1826 Pentagon's No. 2 Flubs Iraq Casualties Asked how many American troops have died in Iraq, the Pentagon's No. 2 civilian estimated Thursday the total was about 500 _ more than 200 soldiers short. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was asked about the toll at a hearing of a House Appropriations subcommittee. "It's approximately 500, of which _ I can get the exact numbers _ approximately 350 are combat deaths," he responded.



01MAY04 (Journal)

0557 local

Every life that has been taken in this god-forsaken country, every person that has fallen— I have, I don’t know— they have all been another ???? brick against this arrogance of a shithead administration and their ill-gotten and executed conflict. Yet their lives, no longer seem worth this price this country has paid. I don’t even know what I mean anymore in this early hour.


*****


I take no great pleasure in it— but I will do my duty, what is right, and nothing less than I expect of myself.


From Intel Log:

0059 US military in torture scandal Graphic photographs showing the torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners in a US-run prison outside Baghdad emerged yesterday from a military inquiry which has left six soldiers facing a possible court martial and a general under investigation.

0524 US administration failed to prepare adequately for post-war Iraq and had stationed too few troops there to maintain security during the occupation, the former chief US weapons inspector said today. David Kay, who resigned from the CIA in January and told Congress "we were almost all wrong" about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, said he expected US involvement in the country to result in more violence. "We have too few troops there," he said in a speech to the Oklahoma Bankers Association. "We had enough troops for a brilliant military victory ... But it's too few to win the peace."

0527 Legendary Vietnamese general offers warning to U.S. “Any forces that would impose their will on other nations will certainly face defeat,” said Vo Nguyen Giap, the legendary general whose strategies wore out the French colonial regime and then the U.S. army. General Giap is 92 now, the last of Vietnam's giants in a 30-year war to shake off colonial rule and unite the country under communism. Gen. Giap had no military background or training when Ho Chi Minh chose him to command the Viet Minh army. A history professor and one-time journalist, he had joined the struggle against French colonial rule at age 14. His wife had died in a French prison. But his gut instincts and natural talent were proven during the pivotal battle at the border outpost of Dien Bien Phu. As revolutionaries fighting in the jungle, Gen. Giap said that he and Ho Chi Minh simply dreamed of a country free of foreign domination.

1549 SUNNI INSURGENTS OBTAIN SA-16 MISSILE Sunni insurgents appear to have bolstered their anti-aircraft capability in Iraq. U.S. military commanders said the insurgents have the SA-16 surface-to-air missile. The SA-16 is a modified version of the older SA-7 and represents a greater threat to U.S. and coalition aircraft. (This is bad)

1704 Two foreign security contractors were killed and five wounded in a bomb attack Saturday in the northern city of Mosul, the US-led coalition said. The contractors, who worked for a security company protecting oil convoys, were killed in a roadside bomb blast as five sports utility vehicles sped through the city 370 kilometres (230 miles) north of Baghdad. "Two foreign workers were killed in a roadside bomb attack," according to a coalition spokesman. The convoy also came under small arms fire.



02MAY04 (Journal)

Baghdad

I have run up hard against the wall and am very much looking forward to some time off. I have felt like complete crap for the last week, watching this mess unfold. I don’t understand how I feel; it is outside all my experience. I feel guilty— hell, I’m not getting shot at every day, but honestly, it would be easier if I were not watching this mess and understanding the implications. I have no hope. In all the great myths, all the epic struggles, there was always hope, always a long shot. I don’t see any hope here and I sure as hell don’t think that I can pull a miracle outta my ass. All that I can offer to the debacle, short of participating in it as if there were hope, is to witness it, to remember for those who aren’t going to be coming home…and my companionship to those who have to be here- watching the city burn from the roof of the palace waiting for the last chopper out. No one goes down alone on my watch; I just can’t let that happen. In the end it is probably stupid and meaningless, but in the end, it’s all that I have.


From Intel Log:

1719 U.S. hostage Thomas Hamill is free three weeks after television pictures showed him being driven away by armed men following an attack on a convoy in Iraq, the U.S. military said Sunday. "He apparently escaped from a building," Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt told a news conference in Baghdad. "He came out of a building and identified himself to American soldiers.

1745 Rich reports that 8 helos have landed over at 31 CSH.

2342 Marine's bond with Iraqi kids lost For a brief time, U.S. Marine Clayton Schmidt's war revolved around crayons, paper and candies. Before going on patrol, the 23-year-old lance corporal would stash school supplies in his helmet to hand out to Iraqi children. If he could just make a connection with the kids, the Naperville native hoped, it could lead to a better understanding between U.S. troops and Iraqis. Those plans faltered when conflict in Fallujah, a city west of Baghdad, broke out early last month. "Every time we take a step forward, every time it seems to calm down, something happens again," said Cindy Schmidt, Clayton's mother.

2355 Iraqi school boys: Now we hate the US "I used to love the Americans, but I changed my mind after Fallujah," says Hassan, a pudgy, bespectacled 15-year-old, adding with uncertainty, "Give me a weapon and I will fight America." At Khldoon's school, the winning influence lately seems to be the Iraqi resistance fighter. A random poll of one classroom of boys showed that 28 boys said the resistance fighters were their heroes, while only four boys sided with the US soldiers. They all conceded that one year earlier, all 32 would have voted for the US soldiers. Salan, 15, says, "When the soldiers came we thought they were our good friends. They played with us. But now the Americans shoot the Iraqis. They have changed."



14MAY04 (Journal)

2257 local

Spot Bar & Grill

Sitting here in The Spot— been back a week— trying to feel something but I don’t know that there is anything there. What did I leave behind here?


There was/is this myth that grows in your mind while you are gone that you will come back to unbridled happiness. The reality is that even though you may have changed, you come back to pretty much the same place/situation you left behind. Wherever you go, there you are.


And suddenly, the differences strike me and they are considerable. The closest thing this compares to was coming back from the cruise on the Kennedy— but this is very different. Back then, we all came back together, we, more or less, experienced the same thing. And aside from our individual weaknesses and demons, we were all from similar backgrounds. This time though, it is only me. No one here has shared my experience, no one here understands.


I came home expecting refuge and instead came home to find myself and non-refuge— but that was no one’s fault but my own. Understanding/empathy is, in my opinion, crucial to refuge. Some might say unconditional acceptance. However, without understanding, it is meaningless.



Lost Quarter


A flock of parrots

silhouetted against a western sky slipping into twilight

glided over

the four greater and two lesser Mercies

who smiled on me

and my sand scarred soul

softy in the breeze.

The Gosling’s warmly

burned the back of my throat

as the first stars peaked out

of a deepening blue sky.

The tide was coming in

yet the water was smooth—

unruffled by the slight breeze.

After so many months

in a million barren Iraqi

“Lost Quarters”

the nearness of the water,

of the Ocean

felt like I was drowning

and I gladly gave into it.

I was torn, trapped

between two worlds—

one more alien yet more real than the other,

desperately wanting to forget it

and knowing that I never could.

To the south

a lone plane headed east

lights twinkling

as it went feet wet over the Atlantic.

And though I tried like hell

to deny it

I couldn’t help wishing

I was on it.


*****


They had a barber shop on the ground floor of the palace, staffed with Iraqi barbers. The guys had old-time straight razors and I was always waiting to see or have my neck slit open by some irate barber incensed at the latest military ham-fistedness in his neighborhood. The guys were making more money than Iraqi doctors at the time though, so I suppose there was ample reason for restraint. If I didn’t have a million things to do, and even if I did, I never minded the wait for a haircut. It was always cooler in there for some reason, they had fans as well and were always playing the latest crazy music from god only knows where. In some ways I guess, it was like any barber shop where men hang out, if you could see past the surrealism of it all, music or no. I usually got a pretty decent haircut too, except for the time right before my TV appearance…go figure.


From Intel Log:

0030 U.S. tanks moved onto sacred ground in the Iraqi Shi'ite holy city of Najaf on Friday, pushing deep into its ancient cemetery in a fierce battle with guerrillas loyal to insurgent cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Reuters correspondents observing the fighting saw at least three tanks blasting suspected guerrilla positions among the tombs with cannon. Mehdi Army fighters appeared to be hitting back with rocket-propelled grenades. The vast cemetery, one of the biggest in the world, also houses numerous Shi'ite Muslim shrines.

1145 Gunmen believed loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr attacked the headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition in Nasiriyah on Friday, trapping some international staffers inside, coalition officials said. The gunbattle erupted about 7 p.m. between militiamen and Italian troops supported by Filipino security guards, officials said. At least five rocket-propelled grenades were fired at the building over a half hour period. About 10 coalition staffers, including Italians, Americans and Britons along with 10 drivers and security guards remain trapped in the building, the officials said. Four Italian journalists were also holed up in the building. Earlier, militiamen pushed their way into the governor's office and were moving near a hotel, a main bridge and police stations.

1220 Rumsfeld admits US could fail Iraq United States Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld admitted for the first time yesterday that the US mission in Iraq could fail, as the prisoner abuse crisis deepened and America tried to cope with the graphic images of American Nicholas Berg being beheaded. Mr Rumsfeld told a Senate inquiry before flying out on a surprise visit to Iraq that the abuse scandal had delivered a body blow to the nation-building effort in Iraq that has cost the lives of more than 770 US troops. Mr Rumsfeld appeared defensive and emotional as he sat before the Senate appropriations committee hearing on the Pentagon's request for $25 billion more to fund the Iraq war, a figure he conceded was only part of what it would cost next year.



04JUN04 (Journal)

0026 local

Party at the Australian embassy— it’s funny to me, all these people going through the motions of having a “normal” life here. Why am I not like these people? I don’t need the trappings of civilization to get by, don’t even need the idea that I work with people who care; though maybe that is becoming important.


I am here to do a job— which by its very nature entails privation— the job gets done, no drama. I just don’t understand it. To try to impose a normality here to me seems more insane than just accepting it for what it is. It speaks to me of a weak will, of a trembling spirit. There is no blame in that. This isn’t for everyone and if it’s not for you, no dishonor; but then don’t come. Stay at home or wherever you’re comfortable. Because, to impose a sense of normality where there isn’t one, is to lose touch with what really is, which is fatal and an unpardonable sin. It is one thing to have never understood the situation, but to not understand it because you can’t see beyond your own needs and projections for safety and security, because you mistake your self-created illusions for reality because the reality behind yours makes you uncomfortable, nervous…that is criminally negligent and careless. Self-willed ignorance is the worst kind


And going to a deeper, maybe more inane level, these are people who want to experience the excitement of war, the violence without having earned that right. They want to see the blood, but never on their own hands; taste the death, but not their own or that of their companion; and in doing so, war, the last and profane refuge of the warrior is reduced to titillation, to the lowest form of pornographic entertainment for the existentially and terminally bored and cynical. I despise them. They are lower than dogs. As if all this death and destruction were for their entertainment alone. They may as well piss in the holy water, shit in the baptismal fount, jerk off all over the sacrament. There is no difference. These are people who know what they are willing to kill to get but who have no idea how to enjoy what they have acquired. When respect for honor, dignity, and death are gone, there is no respect for life either. These are the ass-clowns running the show, allegedly, here.


“I am a U.S citizen. I want to be in Baghdad on June 30th to wittiness the history that will take place on that day. Can you advise me on how to proceed? I have a valid passport. What else do I need and what do I need to do?”


—Email to the US Consul


video
04OCT05 VBIED attack v Target at CP2

From Intel Log:

1407 US starts to think the unthinkable about Iraq The consequences of US defeat in Iraq are, in the words of President George W. Bush, "unthinkable". Even so, some in the administration have started to contemplate the prospect, while other outspoken war advocates in Washington are already proclaiming failure. US officials stress, however, that while the consequences of possible failure are being pondered, the administration is focusing on supporting the newly selected caretaker government as it tries to organise legislative elections by next January. "There is no Plan B," a senior official said.

1807 Fund For Peace Study Concludes that Iraq Has Descended Into a Failed State Syndrome A report released today by The Fund for Peace (FfP) concludes that instead of addressing the fundamental requirements of rebuilding the state, post-war policies undertaken by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) focused primarily on completing the process of regime change. Consequently, Iraq has deteriorated further into a failed state syndrome. Dr. Pauline H. Baker, author of the report, describes a failed state syndrome as a condition in which a number of trends reinforce each other to produce spiraling conflict that the country has little or no independent capacity to stop. The report concludes that, a year after the invasion, Iraq is as shattered as it was the day that Saddam Hussein was overthrown, the main difference being that organized militias and terrorist groups have gained a foothold they did not have before.



The Golden Journey to Samarkand

By James Elroy Flecker (1884-1915)


We who with songs beguile your pilgrimage

And swear that Beauty lives though lilies die,

We Poets of the proud old lineage

Who sing to find your hearts, we know not why, -


What shall we tell you? Tales, marvellous tales

Of ships and stars and isles where good men rest,

Where nevermore the rose of sunset pales,

And winds and shadows fall toward the West:


And there the world's first huge white-bearded kings

In dim glades sleeping, murmur in their sleep,

And closer round their breasts the ivy clings,

Cutting its pathway slow and red and deep.


And how beguile you? Death has no repose

Warmer and deeper than that Orient sand

Which hides the beauty and bright faith of those

Who made the Golden Journey to Samarkand.


And now they wait and whiten peaceably,

Those conquerors, those poets, those so fair:

They know time comes, not only you and I,

But the whole world shall whiten, here or there;


When those long caravans that cross the plain

With dauntless feet and sound of silver bells

Put forth no more for glory or for gain,

Take no more solace from the palm-girt wells.


When the great markets by the sea shut fast

All that calm Sunday that goes on and on:

When even lovers find their peace at last,

And Earth is but a star, that once had shone.


At the Gate of the Sun, Bagdad


THE MERCHANTS

Away, for we are ready to a man!

Our camels sniff the evening and are glad.

Lead on, O Master of the Caravan:

Lead on the Merchant-Princes of Bagdad.


Have we not Indian carpets dark as wine,

Turbans and sashes, gowns and bows and veils,

And broideries of intricate design,

And printed hangings in enormous bales?


We have rose-candy, we have spikenard,

Mastic and terebinth and oil and spice,

And such sweet jams meticulously jarred

As God's own Prophet eats in Paradise.


And we have manuscripts in peacock styles

By Ali of Damascus; we have swords

Engraved with storks and apes and crocodiles,

And heavy beaten necklaces, for Lords.


THE MASTER OF THE CARAVAN


But who are ye in rags and rotten shoes,

You dirty-bearded, blocking up the way?


THE PILGRIMS

We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go

Always a little further; it may be

Beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow,

Across that angry or that glimmering sea,


White on a throne or guarded in a cave

There lives a prophet who can understand

Why men were born: but surely we are brave,

Who make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.


THE CHIEF MERCHANT


We gnaw the nail of hurry. Master, away!


A WOMAN


O turn your eyes to where your children stand.

Is not Bagdad the beautiful? O stay!


THE MERCHANTS


We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.


AN OLD MAN


Have you not girls and garlands in your homes,

Eunuchs and Syrian boys at your command?

Seek not excess: God hateth him who roams!


THE MERCHANTS


We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.


A PILGRIM


Sweet to ride forth at evening from the wells

When shadows pass gigantic on the sand,

And softly through the silence beat the bells

Along the Golden Road to Samarkand.


A MERCHANT


We travel not for trafficking alone;

By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned;

For lust of knowing what should not be known

We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand,


THE MASTER OF THE CARAVAN


Open the gate, O watchman of the night!


THE WATCHMAN


Ho, travellers, I open. For what land

Leave you the dim-moon city of delight?


THE MERCHANTS


We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.


THE WATCHMAN


What would ye, ladies? It was ever thus.

Men are unwise and curiously planned.


A WOMAN


They have their dreams, and do not think of us.


VOICES OF THE CARAVAN (in the distance, singing)


We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.






[1] “Few of our interlocutors now criticize Muqtada. A month ago it was common to hear that he was a young undereducated punk, feeding off the reputation of his father. Now, however, even relatively secular tribal sheikhs in Dhi Qar express sympathy for him. There is a general perception that the coalition, having failed to deliver on its promises of prosperity and security, is now resorting to brutality.” (24APR04- Nasiriyah)

[2] "The insurgents enjoyed unprecedented support. Iraqis, by the hundreds, Sunnis or Shia, were flocking to Fallujah with a single goal: prevent the Americans from crushing the resistance," said Abd al-Jabbar Kubaisi. "Four provinces rebelled in the south, some Baghdad neighborhoods were in a state of insurrection, villages around Fallujah were controlled by armed men, supply lines of the Americans were cut. It was the beginning of civil disobedience," he said. But news of the ceasefire "disorganized the guerrilla movement and the solidarity movement ran out of steam," he added, pointing out that new recruits who came to Fallujah to swell resistance ranks had now left.

[3] A new agreement has been reached between United States forces and Iraqi negotiators in the besieged town of Fallujah. Under the deal, American soldiers will carry out joint patrols with Iraqi police in Fallujah from next Tuesday. From that day Iraqis in the town will no longer be allowed to carry firearms. Iraqi officials in Fallujah will also continue to collect heavy weapons under an arms amnesty that began last week.

[4] A Sunni Muslim leader warned the US-led coalition it would face an uprising throughout Iraq if its forces attack the flashpoint city of Fallujah, besieged by US marines since April 5. "I have an urgent message for US forces. You have overstepped the red line. Make sure you do not strike Fallujah again," Sheikh Ahmed Abdel Ghafur Samarrai said during Friday prayers at a Baghdad mosque. "We will not allow the shedding of Iraqi blood. If you strike again, the whole of Iraq, from north to south, from east to west, will become Fallujah," Samarrai said. "I warn you against a new massacre of the population in Fallujah or against any other Iraqi city," he added, noting that Iraqis "can no longer tolerate more bloodshed." "Iraqi Muslims, Sunnis or Shiites, will not remain passive and silent in the face of a new massacre. Sunnis and Shiites are united in Fallujah and in Najaf," he added, referring to the Shiite holy city where wanted firebrand cleric Muqtada Sadr is holed up. During the sermon, several people from Fallujah began shouting: "We want acts not words."

[5] The Sadr militia has been recruiting snipers in town (Nasiriyah) and are supposedly up to 150 men. Some will be going to Najaf and others staying in town and dispersing to Amarah. They are getting set up to attack CF with no mention of NGOs etc. This was from my local staff and investigators.

[6] U.S. troops will likely enter parts of Najaf soon in a move to clamp down on the rebel militia of a radical Shiite cleric but will stay away from sensitive holy sites in the center of the city to avoid rousing the anger of Shiites, a U.S general said Sunday. Shiite leaders have warned of a possible explosion of anger among the country's Shiite majority if U.S. troops enter Najaf, and until now U.S. commanders have been saying troops would not go in. With the new move, the military seeks to impose a degree of control in Najaf, while hoping that a foray limited to the modern parts of the ancient holy city would not inflame Shiites. Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling did not say when troops would move in, or how many.

[7] Muqtada al-Sadr, speaking during the Friday sermon in Kufah, threatened to launch suicide attacks if U.S. troops attack him and his forces in the holy city of Najaf. The area is mostly controlled by his Al-Mahdi Army militia, whose members have clashed with U.S. troops several times since their uprising began on April 4. "Some of the Mujahideen brothers have told me they want to carry out martyrdom attacks but I am postponing this," al-Sadr said in front of thousands of worshippers. "When we are forced to do so and when our city and holy sites are attacked, we will all be time bombs in the face of the enemy."

[8] “As the coalition appears to bide its time, the specter of the 1991 intifada debacle is reportedly making many Najafis cynically skeptical and cautiously circumspect about cooperation with us. A few rumors are circulating that the Americans are allowing the situation to drag on in the hopes of sparking a civil war. Worse still, yesterday’s announcement about allowing Ba’athists back into civil life already has many in the city thinking that the coalition has decided to cast its lot with the Sunni.” (24APR04- Najaf)

[9] “According to our source, during the 4 April attack on police stations and government buildings, BG Hassan, Chief of the Shrine Police, instructed IPs to take their orders form Sadr’s militia. The 80 policemen at al-Karar station surrendered their arms to a band of eight militiamen. Chief Kassam at the Kufah station declared himself a member of Sadr’s militia and turned the station over without further ado.” (24APR04- Najaf)

[10] “A former Iraqi general, who was prominent in the 1991 uprising told the GC that his sources state that local former Ba’athists and others from outside the region are collaborating with Sadr militia members to promote attacks on CF.” (24APR04- Diwaniyah)


“The source reports that the size of MAS’s militia (which he estimates at 1,000 hard core fighters) continues to gradually increase, and weapons—many financed or furnished by Ba’athists—are flowing unchecked into Najaf from other cities. He says one high-level member of the former regime has returned to Najaf specifically for the purpose of fanning the flames by providing, among other things, 200 RPGs. SPG-9 anti-tank guns and field artillery weapons (NFI) are also said to be in the militia’s inventory.” (24APR04- Najaf)




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