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Fwd: The War as We Saw It

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  • Greg Cannon
    ... http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/19/opinion/19jayamaha.html?ex=1345176000&en=5 ...
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 19, 2007
      --- Julie Keller <julieannkeller@...> wrote:

      > To: <utepprogressives@yahoogroups.com>
      > From: "Julie Keller" <julieannkeller@...>
      > Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2007 15:40:29 -0600
      > Subject: [utepprogressives] The War as We Saw It
      > Seven members of the 82nd Airborne wrote this Op-Ed
      > piece in today's NY
      > Times, coming home from a 15-month deployment.
      > a8349a0e944e61b&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss
      > Baghdad
      > VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month
      > deployment, the political
      > debate in Washington is indeed surreal.
      > Counterinsurgency is, by definition,
      > a competition between insurgents and
      > counterinsurgents for the control and
      > support of a population. To believe that Americans,
      > with an occupying force
      > that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can
      > win over a recalcitrant
      > local population and win this counterinsurgency is
      > far-fetched. As
      > responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers
      > with the 82nd Airborne
      > Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of
      > recent press coverage
      > portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable
      > and feel it has neglected
      > the mounting civil, political and social unrest we
      > see every day.
      > (Obviously, these are our personal views and should
      > not be seen as official
      > within our chain of command.)
      > The claim that we are increasingly in control of the
      > battlefields in Iraq is
      > an assessment arrived at through a flawed,
      > American-centered framework. Yes,
      > we are militarily superior, but our successes are
      > offset by failures
      > elsewhere. What soldiers call the "battle space"
      > remains the same, with
      > changes only at the margins. It is crowded with
      > actors who do not fit neatly
      > into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists,
      > Shiite militiamen,
      > criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made
      > more complex by the
      > questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the
      > Iraqi police and Iraqi
      > Army, which have been trained and armed at United
      > States taxpayers' expense.
      > A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the
      > death of one American
      > soldier and the critical wounding of two others when
      > a lethal armor-piercing
      > explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army
      > checkpoint and a police one.
      > Local Iraqis readily testified to American
      > investigators that Iraqi police
      > and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped
      > plant the bomb. These
      > civilians highlighted their own predicament: had
      > they informed the Americans
      > of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the
      > police or the local
      > Shiite militia would have killed their families.
      > As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine
      > event. Reports that a
      > majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable
      > partners can be
      > considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is
      > that battalion commanders,
      > even if well meaning, have little to no influence
      > over the thousands of
      > obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of
      > command, who are really
      > loyal only to their militias.
      > Similarly, Sunnis, who have been underrepresented in
      > the new Iraqi armed
      > forces, now find themselves forming militias,
      > sometimes with our tacit
      > support. Sunnis recognize that the best guarantee
      > they may have against
      > Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated government
      > is to form their own
      > armed bands. We arm them to aid in our fight against
      > Al Qaeda.
      > However, while creating proxies is essential in
      > winning a counterinsurgency,
      > it requires that the proxies are loyal to the center
      > that we claim to
      > support. Armed Sunni tribes have indeed become
      > effective surrogates, but the
      > enduring question is where their loyalties would lie
      > in our absence. The
      > Iraqi government finds itself working at cross
      > purposes with us on this
      > issue because it is justifiably fearful that Sunni
      > militias will turn on it
      > should the Americans leave.
      > In short, we operate in a bewildering context of
      > determined enemies and
      > questionable allies, one where the balance of forces
      > on the ground remains
      > entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this
      > article, this fact became
      > all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an
      > Army Ranger and
      > reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head
      > during a "time-sensitive
      > target acquisition mission" on Aug. 12; he is
      > expected to survive and is
      > being flown to a military hospital in the United
      > States.) While we have the
      > will and the resources to fight in this context, we
      > are effectively
      > hamstrung because realities on the ground require
      > measures we will always
      > refuse - namely, the widespread use of lethal and
      > brutal force.
      > More at the link:
      > a8349a0e944e61b&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss
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