Saturday, October 27, 2007

Not worth another soldier's life

By Libby

John Cole has already done the ultimate snark on this story, so I'll just give you the straight up version. The WaPo posts a story on Scott Beauchamp's unit in Iraq. Scott, if you haven't been following the lows and lowers of Fringetopia has been relentlessly gangbanged by the fringenuts for months now for telling an unattractive tale of life on the front lines of the occupation. Funny, it seems his fellow soldiers are finding the occupation more offensive than Beauchamp's minor piece in a low circulation magazine.

I'd urge you to read the whole thing, it's an eyeopener, but here's a few choice quotes that sum up the harsh reality of our ongoing 'liberation' of the Iraqis.

When we first got here, all the shops were open. There were women and children walking out on the street," Alarcon said this week. "The women were in Western clothing. It was our favorite street to go down because of all the hot chicks."

That was 14 long months ago, when the soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, arrived in southwestern Baghdad. It was before their partners in the Iraqi National Police became their enemies and before Shiite militiamen, aligned with the police, attempted to exterminate a neighborhood of middle-class Sunni families. [...]

They go on to describe the present day in which town has become a bombed out wasteland.

Asked if the American endeavor here was worth their sacrifice -- 20 soldiers from the battalion have been killed in Baghdad -- Alarcon said no: "I don't think this place is worth another soldier's life." [...]

"It's just a slow, somewhat government-supported sectarian cleansing," said Maj. Eric Timmerman, the battalion's operations officer.

The focus of the battalion's efforts in Sadiyah was to develop the Iraqi security forces into an organized, fair and proficient force -- but the American soldiers soon realized this goal was unattainable. The sectarian warfare in Sadiyah was helped along by the Wolf Brigade, a predominantly Shiite unit of the Iraqi National Police that tolerated, and at times encouraged, Mahdi Army attacks against Sunnis, according to U.S. soldiers and residents. The soldiers endured repeated bombings of their convoys within view of police checkpoints. During their time here, they have arrested 70 members of the national police for collaboration in such attacks and other crimes. [...]

"This is a dangerous place," said Capt. Lee Showman, 28, a senior officer in the battalion. "People are killed here every day, and you don't hear about it. People are kidnapped here every day, and you don't hear about it." [...]

The American people don't fully realize what's going on, said Staff Sgt. Richard McClary, 27, a section leader from Buffalo.

"They just know back there what the higher-ups here tell them. But the higher-ups don't go anywhere, and actually they only go to the safe places, places with a little bit of gunfire," he said. "They don't ever [expletive] see what we see on the ground."

That's always been my beef with the rosy scenarios that come not just from the big brass but also from many of the officer class milbloggers. It's easy to be optimistic when you're sitting in some airconditioned office at the HQ and conducting press tours. The grunts on IED patrol every day, whom Rush Limbaugh would call phony soldiers, tell a whole different story and I believe them over some spinmeister officer who is protecting his career advancement any day of the week.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share


Blogger creature said...

Cole's snark was one for the ages.

5:36:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Oh creature. I missed this comment. It was indeed the best snark evah.

8:55:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home