Secretary of Defense Robert Gates got a first hand look at how conditions are worsening in Iraq when he visited Baghdad on Sunday.
Shortly after Gates' arrival a car bomb exploded in nearby Balad killing 23 Iraqi civilians and injuring scores of others.
The latest episode underscores the reason many are saying the "surge" is no longer working and violence and mayhem are on the rise in Baghdad and the rest of Iraq.
Reported by Bill Corcoran, editor of this blog devoted to telling the truth about events in Iraq and not Bush White House "spin."
Car bomb in Balad kills 23, U.S. military says
U.S. defense secretary in Baghdad to talk about future relations
MSNBC News Services
BAGHDAD - A car bomb killed 23 people and wounded 25 more in a market in the Iraqi town of Balad on Sunday, the U.S. military said.
A spokesman said the blast occurred near an Iraqi army checkpoint, adding the wounded were being rushed to hospital. Balad lies north of Baghdad.
The violence came as the U.S. military said impatience with slow improvements to basic services like electricity and water could reverse recent security gains in Iraq, especially Anbar province, a former al-Qaida stronghold.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Iraq on Sunday for meetings with Iraqi officials and U.S. commanders to discuss U.S. troop levels in the light of improving security and to prepare talks on a pact that will define future relations between Washington and Baghdad
Villages attackedInsurgents stormed two villages in northwestern Iraq on Sunday but were repelled by U.S.-allied fighters and Iraqi security forces in clashes that left at least 22 people dead, according to local authorities.
The attack began about 5 a.m. when about 25 carloads of heavily armed gunmen drove into the villages of Khams Tlol and al-Madina, about 50 miles west of Mosul, said Sheik Fawaz al-Jarba, a Sunni lawmaker and the head of the anti-al-Qaida group in Mosul.
He said villagers fought back against the militants, who were wielding rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and assault rifles, prompting clashes that lasted about five hours.
An Iraqi army officer in Mosul, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to disclose the information, confirmed the attack and said the fighting ended after Iraqi soldiers joined the battle.
Those killed included 10 militants and six members of the so-called Awakening Group in the area, as well as four women and two children, the officials said, adding that 10 civilians were wounded in the clashes.
The U.S. military in northern Iraq did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
'Essential services' lackingWith Iraq's Shiite-led government deadlocked on the 2008 budget and other major measures, U.S. military spokesman Rear Adm. Greg Smith said that Iraq needed to take advantage of security gains to improve the lives of Sunni Arabs.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates got a first hand look at how conditions are worsening in Iraq when he visited Baghdad on Sunday.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 4:16 PM
President George W. Bush on Sunday said he would seek a plan to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for "many years," but not establish permanent military bases.
Once again Bush is talking out of both sides of his mouth.
How do you keep troops in Iraq and not have them living in permanent military bases?
What does Bush want the troops to do? Live in pup tents in the desert?
Bush apparently assumes everyone is as dumb as his sycophants at FOX NEWS who buy hook, line and sinker everything that comes out of his pie hole.
From the day the Iraq war started, Bush, Cheney and the evil cabal inside the Bush White House have used the U.S. military like pawns in a chess game.
The Bush White House has tried to hold down spending for veterans returning from Iraq with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) by saying it is not a mental illness.
There are also reports on my blog http://corksphere.blogspot.com/ of a growing epidemic of bacterial infections U.S. troops are bringing back to the United States which the media conveniently has swept under the rug.
Almost 4,000 U.S. troops have been KILLED in Iraq, including five on Saturday, and there are close to 30,000 wounded veterans from the Iraq War who are not receiving the proper care at the woefully understaffed and under-equipped military hospitals in the United States.
The so-called "surge" is IMPLODING as Sunni brigades, who were friendly to U.S. forces, have gone on strike because the police chief in Diyala, Province Iraq is corrupt.
Headless bodies are continuing to be found in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq.
The Iraqi infrastructure is in chaos and there is very little fresh water and electricity.
Angelina Jolie, the superstar actress, visited Baghdad this past week (see reports on my blog http://corksphere.blogspot.com/ with YouTube videos) as a UN representative trying to get to the root of the spiraling out of control Iraqi refugee problem that has displaced millions of Iraqi citizens since the U.S. invaded and occupied Iraq.
There are now reports more Iraqis are leaving Iraq than Iraqis returning to Iraq.
And to add to the growing mess in Iraq, there is now a move to oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the puppet PM who was put up for the job by the United States government. Al-Maliki's government is totally worthless and all confidence in his rule has been lost by warring members of Iraqi tribes.
In short, Iraq is a total mess and President Bush apparently has no clue as to what to do except to say he wants U.S. troops in Iraq for an eternity.
Easy for Bush to say. After January 21 of 2009, Bush will be resting on his derriere in Crawford, Texas while the mess he has left in Iraq will be up to the next President of the United States to try and fix.
Commentary by Bill Corcoran, Chicago, editor of CORKSPHERE, http://corksphere.blogspot.com/, the ONLY place in the United States you can find the REAL truth about what is happening in Iraq and a veteran of the United States Army Combat Engineers.
US defense secretary on surprise visit to Iraq
Bush admits seeking military presence in Iraq for ‘years’ but pledges not to establish permanent bases.
BAGHDAD - US Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a surprise visit to Baghdad on Sunday for talks with top US military commanders and Iraqi leaders to assess progress on the security and political fronts.
Gates, on his seventh trip to Iraq, will meet the head of US armed forces in the country, General David Petraeus, to discuss prospects for a possible drawdown of American troops.
"I will obviously be interested in hearing General Petraeus about his evaluation, where he stands and what more work he feels he needs to do before he is ready to come back with his recommendations," he told reporters travelling with him on the plane from Germany to Iraq.
Gates, who was last in Iraq in December, is due to give his recommendations to the US Congress in April about troop numbers in Iraq, where the military currently has a force of about 160,000.
About 20,000 are expected to go home by July.
In Baghdad, Gates will also meet Iraqi leaders to discuss progress on the political front, including the adoption of legislation such as a controversial reconciliation law which allows members of Saddam Hussein's former Baath party to return to public life.
He arrived in Iraq shortly before the one-year anniversary of a US troop surge designed to improve security in Baghdad, although the country continues to battle a deadly insurgency.
Underscoring the continued violence, 23 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack in a marketplace in a village in central Iraq around the time of Gates's arrival.
The frequency of attacks on US troops in the Iraqi capital has picked up noticeably in the past weeks, with 13 killed so far this month.
Last month 40 soldiers died, almost double the number killed in December and on a par with casualty figures recorded in October and November.
A total of 3,957 have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, according to a tally based on the website www.icasualties.org.
In an interview earlier Sunday, US President George W. Bush acknowledged the United States would seek a military presence in Iraq for "years" but pledged he would not establish permanent bases.
Bush brushed aside concerns expressed by critics that a Status of Forces Agreement Washington is discussing with the Baghdad government would commit future US presidents to a long-term deployment in Iraq.
"We won't have permanent bases," Bush told Fox New television.
Last week, Gates said the United States would make no commitments to the defence of Iraq in the status of forces agreement.
Gates had previously said the agreement, which is expected to be discussed by the two sides at a meeting later this month, would not provide for permanent bases in Iraq or establish US force levels.
The opposition Democratic Party candidates for the presidency have promised to rapidly withdraw remaining US forces from Iraq, but may find their margin of manoeuvre limited by any prior agreement.
Gates said last week it would be difficult to persuade Iraq to accept even a short extension of the UN resolution to allow a new US administration to negotiate the status of forces agreement.
"They don't want permanent bases either. They are interested in asserting their sovereignty," he said.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 2:34 PM
There continues to be growing signs the "surge" is about to implode in Iraq.
Members of a Sunni brigade, who have been working with U.S. troops in Diyala Province, Iraq, went on strike alleging the chief of police of the province is corrupt.
In other parts of Iraq the violence and mayhem continue unabated with more decapitated bodies found outside of Baghdad and five U.S. soldiers killed near Baghdad when a roadside bomb blew up their Humvee.
As we have been reporting, the media in the United States continues to look the other way when it comes to reporting on what is happening in Iraq.
The shame of it all is we have 160,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq who are caught in the middle of what appears to be an insurrection with certain Sunni brigades who had been friendly to U.S. forces going on strike.
Commentary by Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE, http://corksphere.blogspot.com/, a blog which brings readers up-to-the-minute reports on what is taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan which are no longer covered by the mainstream media in the United States.
America's Sunni allies go on strike in Iraq's Diyala province
Steve Lannen McClatchy Newspapers
BAGHDAD — Members of U.S.-allied citizen brigades, which are credited with helping to tamp down violence in many parts of Iraq, went on strike Friday in Diyala province, alleging that the provincial police chief there is running a death squad.
A leader of the group said that brigade members, most of them Sunni Muslims, wouldn't resume working with U.S. and Iraqi government forces until the Shiite police chief resigns or is indicted.
A curfew was imposed, and police throughout the province ended their patrols early to avoid clashes with the U.S.-funded concerned local citizens, or "popular committees" as they're known in Diyala, who staged demonstrations against the police chief. No casualties were reported.
The strike highlights the tenuous relationship between U.S.-allied Sunni-dominated citizen militias and the Shiite-dominated, U.S.-backed Iraqi security forces.
Click on link to read full story.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 11:44 AM
The Invisible Enemy
The Pentagon created the perfect machine for saving the lives of soldiers wounded in Iraq. But then GIs started getting sick. The culprit: a drug-resistant supergerm infecting the military’s evacuation chain.
By Steve Silberman
A homemade bomb exploded under a Humvee in Anbar province, Iraq, on August 21, 2004.
The blast flipped the vehicle into the air, killing two US marines and wounding another - a soft-spoken 20-year-old named Jonathan Gadsden who was near the end of his second tour of duty.
In previous wars, he would have died within hours. His skull and ribs were fractured, his neck was broken, his back was badly burned, and his stomach had been perforated by shrapnel and debris.
Gadsden got out of the war zone alive because of the Department of Defense's network of frontline trauma care and rapid air transport known as the evacuation chain. Minutes after the attack, a helicopter touched down in the desert. Combat medics stanched the marine's bleeding, inflated his collapsed lung, and eased his pain.
He was airlifted to the 31st Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, located in an old health care facility called the Ibn Sina, which had formerly catered to the Baathist elite. Army surgeons there repaired Gadsden's cranium, removed his injured spleen, and pumped him full of broad-spectrum antibiotics to ward off infection.
Three days later, he was flown to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the largest American military hospital in Europe. He was treated for his burns, and his spine was stabilized for the 18-hour flight to the US. Just a week after nearly dying in the desert, Gadsden was recuperating at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, with his mother, Zeada, at his bedside.
The surgeons, nurses, medics, and pilots of the evacuation chain have saved thousands of lives. Soldiers wounded in Vietnam were six weeks of transit time away from US hospitals, and one out of every four of them died.
By contrast, a soldier's odds of surviving battle injuries in Iraq are nine out of 10. Unfortunately, this remarkable advance in battlefield logistics has also resulted in an increase in the number of traumatically injured patients who are particularly susceptible to infections during their recovery.
In Gadsden's case, from the moment he was carried into the Ibn Sina, the injured marine was in the crosshairs of an enemy he didn't even know was there.
At first, he did quite well. By early September, Gadsden was weaned off his ventilator and breathing on his own. For weeks he gradually improved. His buddies took him to a Washington Redskins game in his wheelchair, and the next day he navigated 50 feet with a walker. Soon Gadsden was transferred to a veterans' hospital in Florida called the James A. Haley Medical Center, where he offered to serve as the eyes of a fellow marine blinded in an ambush. The doctors told Zeada that her son might be able to go home by the end of October.
But he still had mysterious symptoms that he couldn't shake, like headaches, rashes, and intermittent fevers.
His doctors gave him CT scans, laxatives, methadone, beta-blockers, Xanax, more surgery, and more antibiotics. An accurate evaluation of his case was difficult, however, because portions of his medical records never arrived from Bethesda. If they had, they would have shown a positive test for a kind of bacteria called Acinetobacter baumannii.
Go back to link to read the full story
By Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 1:35 AM