A Raw Look at the “Surge”

Maybe this is why they’re supporting a candidate that promises to bring them home?

American soldiers describe the constant stress of living in a war zone, voice their frustrations over the politics with the war strategy in Washington, and are seen as they watch an armored vehicle burn with six of their fellow troops trapped inside, in a rare and raw look at what American troops are experiencing on the front lines in Baghdad.


“I challenge anybody in Congress to do my rotation,” said Spc. Michael Vassell of Apache Company. “They don’t have to do anything, they just come hang out with me and go home at the times I go home, and come stay here 15 months with me.”

Apache Company was sent to Iraq in June 2006 for a 12-month rotation which has since been extended to a 15-month tour.

“It’s a joke. We will have spent 14 months in contact, basically fighting all 14 months,” said Cpl. Joshua Lake. “Our battalion got right to Baghdad … first week we were in Baghdad we lost two guys in our battalion … it hasn’t stopped since.”


“Because we have people up there in Congress with the brain of a 2-year-old who don’t know what they are doing — they don’t experience it. I challenge the president or anyone who has us for 15 months to ride alongside me,” Vassell said. “I [would] do another 15 months if he comes out here and rides along with me every day for 15 months. I’ll do 15 more months. They don’t even have to pay me extra.”

In this photo, six American soldiers and an Iraqi translator are burning to death inside the armored vehicle. Cpl. Joshua Lake from Apache Company told Sean Smith, “It’s a joke. We will have spent 14 months in contact, basically fighting all 14 months…first week in Baghdad we lost two guys in our battalion, and it hasn’t stopped since.”

(Sean Smith/Guardian)

This is an unusually hard-hitting article. Also, see the video on the upper right of the linked page and the rest of the photos here.

US troops vs. Iraqi Police

AP reports:

BAGHDAD (AP) – U.S. forces battled Iraqi police and gunmen Friday, killing six policemen, after an American raid captured a police lieutenant accused of leading an Iranian-backed militia cell, the military said.

Seven gunmen also died in the fight, a rare open street battle between American troops and policemen. Washington has demanded the government purge its police force of militants, and U.S. and Iraqi authorities have arrested officers in the past for militia links. But the Bush administration said in an assessment Thursday that progress on that front was “unsatisfactory.”

The lieutenant was captured before dawn in eastern Baghdad, but the soldiers came under “heavy and accurate fire” from a nearby Iraqi police checkpoint, as well as intense fire from rooftops and a church, the military said in a statement.

As the Americans fired back, U.S. warplanes struck in front of the police position, without hitting it directly, “to prevent further escalation” of the battle, it said. There were no casualties among the U.S. troops, but seven gunmen and six of the policemen firing on the Americans were killed, the statement said.

Meanwhile, USA Today has gotten its hands on an Army report of the results of the investigation into the Karbala ambush last January that killed five US soldiers. The new details:

•Iraqi police suddenly vanished from the government compound before the shooting started.

•Attackers, evidently briefed on how U.S. forces would defend themselves, bottled up more than three dozen soldiers in a barracks and headquarters complex using a combination of smoke and fragment grenades and satchel charges to blow up Humvees.

•Gunmen knew exactly where to find and abduct U.S. officers.

•Iraqi vendors operating a PX and barbershop went home early.

•A back gate was left unlocked and unguarded.

Is there any rational response to this, other than GET OUT? Yet here are the recommendations from the Army investigation:

Investigators recommended several changes to toughen defensive positions, including the installation of closed-circuit cameras to provide better early warnings, “duress devices” that can allow overrun outposts to signal headquarters, and requirements that any arriving convoy provide identification.

Wow. Sure you can harden up “defensive” positions, but what does it say about the whole project that you’re defending against the police?

For another bizarre aspect of this war between the US and Iraqi police, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh today said Iraqi security forces “have advanced to a level that it now depends on itself in leading operations against terrorists and outlaws, with backing from Multinational forces. They are in continuous progress to reach the point of totally depending on themselves.”

The mind boggles. Get. Out. Now.

Imperial Propaganda

The Cunning Realist commits an act of authentic journalism and exposes a propagandist.


Short background on Bergner: He became head spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq in early June. His official title? Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Effects. He was Michael Gordon’s only source for this New York Times piece on alleged Iranian ties to the Karbala raid in which five American troops were killed. His previous position: Special Assistant to President Bush.

Memo to the “real” press: That’s how it’s supposed to be done.