A US military reader in Iraq writes:
“These incidents show a benefit to the guerrillas of their car bomb attacks on US convoys, insofar as they create an atmosphere in which US soldiers and marines tend to shoot first and ask questions later, alienating ever more Iraqis by killing innocents”.
‘ I agree this may be happening. However, in my area . . . I have talked to many soldiers who are experiencing somewhat the opposite. There is an intense scrutiny of any shooting by soldiers, and because of it soldiers say they are very reluctant to shoot. Soldiers report that they have to do multiple statements for every engagement. The statements are gone over and frequently rejected as inadequate. The standard is not of soldiers in a war, but of policemen. The focus after a shooting is on gathering evidence of what happened. They are held accountable for their actions . . . This is a very legalistic war.
I was in a convoy this morning and civilian vehicles got into it, off and on. Unless there is some clear compelling reason to shoot at a car, we can’t. Soldiers were throwing rocks at Iraqi cars getting to the convoy, and some used slingshots, but this was stopped. Some were throwing water bottles, until some genius figured out how to throw it cap first and punch a hole in a windshied. Water bottle throwing was also stopped. Today we just waved at the cars, and they moved out of the way.’