US Military Death Toll in Iraq Reaches 900
Some Two Dozen Iraqis Killed in Baghdad, Ramadi, Baquba, Samarra Violence
AP reports that a roadside bomb killed a 1st Infantry Division soldier in Duluiyah, 45 mi. north of Baghdad when his Bradley fighting vehicle struck it. He was the 900th US soldier to die in Iraq since the beginning of the war. The author, Paul Garwood, interviews US troops who have fought at Baqubah, a persistent site of guerrilla resistance northeast of Baghdad, and found mixed feelings — an increasing sense of mortality on the part of some, a determination to make sure their dead comrades did not die in vain among others.
The roadside bomb in Duluiyah also wounded 6 other US soldiers.
AFP says that guerrillas fired a missile that tore through the 7th floor of the Adnan Khairallah hospital in Baghdad, killing two persons and wounding four.
AP also reports that guerrillas in southeastern Baghdad detonated a car bomb, killing at least 3 persons and wounding one.
In Ramadi, guerrillas fought US forces and the US military called in a helicopter gunship to fire at a building in the city. The fighting resulted in 25 Iraqis killed and many more wounded.
Guerrillas took hostage more foreign truck drivers, in a bid to drive the Kuwaiti company that employed them out of the Iraq market.
Police discovered the mutilated body of an Iraqi scientist and one other corpse in Samarra. There has been a wave of assassinations of Iraqi academics and scientists in the past few months.
AFP reports that guerrillas in Kirkuk fired rocket-propelled grenades at a police patrol, killing one policeman and wounding three.
In the eastern city of Baquba, a roadside bomb went off, wounding four Iraqi security men who were protecting electrical installations.
Garwood’s point about the toll on US military morale is underscored by Tom Lasseter of the Philadelphia Inquirer. An excerpt:
Scaling back the military and political goals in Iraq’s Anbar province has hurt morale among U.S. soldiers stationed there, and some have begun to question openly not only their mission but also the leaders who sent them to Iraq in the first place . . .
“I’m tired of every time we go out the gate, someone tries to kill me,” Staff Sgt. Sheldon Rivers said.
Asked whether most Americans had an idea of how bad the security situation was in Ramadi, Sgt. Maj. John Jones said . . . “It’s just like the West,” Jones said, “when we were trying to settle it with the Indians.” . . .
Staff Sgt. A.J. Dean [said] . . . “I don’t have any idea of what we’re trying to do out here,” he said, “… and I don’t think our commanders do either. I feel deceived personally. I don’t trust anything Rumsfeld says, and I think Wolfowitz is even dirtier” . . .
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz recently alleged that Western reporters writing on Iraq are negative because they sit in the Green Zone safe in Baghdad and report “rumors.”
Lasseter, in contrast, asked Sgt. Maj. John Jones if most Americans had any idea whatsoever how bad things were in Ramadi. He replied, “When people come over here, where do they stay? In the Green Zone. I call it the Safe Zone . . . They miss the full picture.”
That is, Sgt. Maj. Jones has the same analysis of the press reporting as Wolfowitz does, only in reverse. Jones thinks the journalists and politicians don’t have a clue as to how difficult the situation is because they mainly stay in the Green Zone.
If I have to choose who to trust on this one, I’ll take Sgt. Maj. Jones any day of the year. And, not only are those men brave to be out there in Ramadi, they are brave to talk to the press under their own names. They clearly have had it with Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and don’t care what happens to their careers. Bravo, guys.
The low opinion some of these men have for Wolfowitz is widespread in the military. One Special Ops officer once told me he thinks Wolfowitz and the Neocons are “rabid.” A lot of Marines aren’t tough enough to get into Special Ops, so when one of those guys thinks you are rabid, you are really rabid.