Saturday, May 3, 2008


Baghdad -- Reports of the Iraqi Army's performance in the last month have ranged from proud to disastrous.

By Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science MonitorPosted on May 3, 2008, Printed on May 3, 2008

But with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pursuing a fight with militias that has him squared off against the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr -- and with the drawdown of U.S. troops continuing to pre-surge numbers this summer -- Iraq's security forces may be facing their biggest test yet.

The Americans, who will fall back from more than 160,000 troops to about 140,000 by August, are asking the Iraqis to do more: lead more of the fighting, man more of the checkpoints, carry out more of the security missions on their own.

The question is, are they up to it? The answer will play a crucial role in the assessment the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, will make at the end of summer to decide if the drawdown of troops should continue. More long term, it will help determine how fast the U.S. can safely withdraw most combat troops from the country.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seems to have no doubts about the answer. While in Baghdad recently to show support for Mr. Maliki's willingness to take on the militias she said that Iraqis "are, quite rightly, proud of their security forces and the way they've performed."

British officers are less optimistic

That contrasted with an assessment by British officers of the initial offensive against Mahdi militiamen in the southern city of Basra at the end of March. Their take: The Iraqi Army's performance was an "unmitigated disaster at every level." Earlier this month The Daily Telegraph quoted senior British commanders leveling those charges, and adding that the poor Iraqi performance would delay Britain's planned pullout from the southern region for "many months."

U.S. commanders involved in the fighting in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City this month have no such dire descriptions of the Iraqi units they oversee. But they do point to shortcomings the recent fighting revealed.

Among the weaknesses: a shortage of mid-level officers ready to lead troops, problems with the Iraqis properly supplying their own troops, and a lack of training and experience that shows up in soldiers shooting indiscriminately and in wild volleys when under attack.

"There have been some instances when they haven't performed as well as we'd want them to," says Col. Allen Batschelet, chief of staff for the Baghdad Multi-National Division. "We're definitely seeing some willing soldiers, [but] the mid level [of leading officers] has yet to be developed."

Click on link above to read full story.


War News for Saturday, May 03, 2008

CASUALTY REPORT: (Click on BLUE for additional details)

U.S. Army Sgt. Matt Lammers, 26, served two tours in Iraq as an infantryman, one in 2004 and one in 2007. He was injured both times, but on his second tour he lost his left arm and both legs from an explosive.

MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier in a roadside bombing in an eastern neighborhood of Baghdad on Friday, May 2nd.. No other details were released.

The Georgian MoD is reporting the deaths of two Georgian servicemen in a roadside bombing in Diyala Province on Saturday, May 3rd. One additional soldier and an interpreter were wounded in the attack.

The BBC is reporting the death of a British ISAF soldier in a mine explosion in Helmand province, Afghanistan. The other soldiers were wounded in the incident. No other details were released and we assume the death occurred on Friday, May 2nd. Here's the British MoD statement and here's NATO's statement.

The DoD is reporting a new death previously unreported by CENTCOM. Staff Sgt. Chad A. Caldwell died during combat operations in Mosul, Ninawa Province on Wednesday, April 30th. No other details were released.

The DoD is reporting the death of Sgt. Jerry L. DeLoach who died of a non-combat related injury after being evacuated from Iraq to Fort Knox, Kentucky on July 7, 2007. No other details were released.

Reported Security incidents:Baghdad:#1: U.S. soldiers killed 14 suspected Shiite militants in Baghdad, the military said Saturday, as clashes continued in the embattled Sadr City slum and surrounding militia strongholds. A U.S. helicopter allegedly fired a missile Saturday at an apparent target about 50 yards away from Sadr City's general hospital, wounding about 28 people and damaging at least seven ambulances, hospital officials said. The U.S. military did not have immediate comment on the alleged strike, but said in a statement that American forces "only engage hostile threats and take every precaution to protect innocent civilians."A US air strike damaged a hospital in the Iraqi capital's violent Shiite stronghold of Sadr City on Saturday, injuring 20 people, as American forces claimed to have killed 14 militiamen. The US military said it carried out the strike in Sadr City, a bastion of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, where US troops in separate confrontations killed at least 14 militiamen since Friday. "I can confirm that we conducted a strike in Sadr City this morning," a US military spokesman told AFP. "The targets were known criminal elements. Battle damage assessment is currently ongoing." However, witnesses and an AFP reporter at the scene said the main Al-Sadr hospital had been badly damaged and a fleet of ambulances were destroyed.On Friday, an M1A1 Abrams tanks engaged "criminals" with one round from its main gun after Iraqi army soldiers reported being attacked by small arms fire from a house, the military said."Three criminals were killed in the engagements," the military said.Later Friday, a US warplane also dropped a bomb and killed two others.Nine other militants were killed in other exchanges, some of them early on Saturday.

#2: U.S. soldiers killed four militants early Saturday elsewhere in Baghdad, the military said.

#3: The American military also announced Saturday that a U.S. soldier died of wounds sustained in a roadside bomb that struck the soldier's vehicle during a combat patrol in eastern Baghdad on Friday. The announcement comes a day after the military said another roadside bomb attack in eastern Baghdad killed a U.S. soldier.

#4: Meanwhile, two civilians were killed and seven others wounded in Baghdad's central Salihiyah district Friday evening after a mortar round apparently fired by Shiite extremists toward the U.S.-protected Green Zone fell short.

#5: Gunmen shot and wounded three members of an Iraqi television crew in eastern Baghdad, an Iraqi media watchdog said. "A group of armed men carrying pistols and automatic guns targeted our colleagues and fired at them," the Iraqi Journalists Observatory said in a statement. Cameraman Hameed Hasim was hit in the stomach and mouth and underwent an emergency operation at Baghdad's Al-Kindi hospital, a medic at the hospital said. Reporter Hassan al-Rikabi and driver Azim Habeeb were also wounded in Monday's attack in Baghdad's Al-Rubaie street. The crew work for Beladi TV, which is owned by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Dawa Party.

#6: A roadside bomb killed a civilian and wounded eight other people, including six traffic policemen, when it exploded near a traffic patrol in Jamiaa district, western Baghdad, police said.

#7: Meanwhile, two civilians were killed and seven others wounded in Baghdad's central Salihiyah district Friday evening after a mortar round apparently fired by Shiite extremists toward the U.S.-protected Green Zone fell short.


Diyala Prv:#1: Two Georgian servicemen were killed and one was injured in Iraq on May 2, the Georgian Ministry of Defense said on Saturday. Lieutenant Giorgi Margiev and Corporal Zura Gvenetadze died after their Hummer was hit by an improvised explosive device in the province of Diyala while being on patrol mission, Giga Tatishvili, deputy chief of staff said on May 3. He said that Sergeant Tengiz Mirtskhulava and a local interpreter were wounded with no life-threatening injuries.Khanaqin:#1: An official of the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP)'s local committee was assassinated by a group of gunmen in al-Saadiya area, south of the district of Khanaqin, 155 km northeast of Baaquba, on Saturday, a committee member said. "An armed group assassinated Abdul-Kareem Mahmoud, the ICP official, in his orchard in Saadiya, (35 km) south of Khanaqin. The incident is being investigated," Hawri Repwar told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.#2: Also in Khanaqin, a six-year-old child was killed when an improvised explosive device went off near a house in al-Shurta neighborhood, Maj. Ahmed Haqqi, the official in charge of the Khanaqin's investigations office, said.Shirqat:#1: A mortar killed one child and wounded two other children in Shirqat, 300 km (190 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.Tikrit:#1: A roadside bomb struck an Iraqi army patrol, killing two Iraqi soldiers and wounding four others on the outskirts of Tikrit, 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, police and army sources said.Kirkuk:#1: A roadside bomb wounded three policemen when it struck their patrol in central Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.Mosul:#1: Three policemen were wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off near their patrol in eastern Mosul on Saturday, police said."The IED targeted a patrol of the Ninewa Emergency Contingent in al-Zuhur neighborhood, eastern Mosul, wounding three policemen," a security source, who asked not to be named, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.Tal Afar:#1: Two civilians were wounded when two rockets landed into an outdoor souk (market) in central Talafar district, 60 km west of Mosul, a local police official said on Saturday. "The two rockets, which fell in al-Ulwa souk, al-Whida neighborhood, injured two civilians and caused damage to a number of stores in the area," Brig. Ibrahim al-Juburi, the Talafar district police chief, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of IraqAfghanistan:#1: A British soldier has been killed and three others injured when their patrol vehicle hit a mine in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in London announced Saturday. The incident happened when the soldiers were providing protection for a routine patrol in the Nowzad area of northern Helmand, described as the limits of Taleban-controlled territory. The MoD said the casualties were taken to the Security Assistance Force (ISAF) medical facilities at Camp Bastion when one soldier was pronounced dead on arrival. The three other Britons were receiving treatment for their injuries, which were said not be serious.#2: The United Nations on Saturday was investigating reports that a controlled explosion of old ordnance has caused more damage to one of the famed Bamiyan Buddha statues that were destroyed by the Taliban seven year ago. Najibullah Harar, chief of information and culture for Bamiyan, said the blast conducted by NATO-led troops near the smaller of the two statues on Thursday had caused cracks in what is left of the 114 foot-high ancient structure and its side walls.#3: Afghan troops backed by the international forces eliminated 17 suspected Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan's southern Zabul province, a local official said Saturday. The mop-up occurred in Shar-e-Safa district on Friday, in which17 Taliban militants were killed and three others were captured, Faridullah Khan, a senior police officer in Zabul provincial capital Qalat, told Xinhua. There were no casualties on Afghan and the international troops, Khan stressed.


WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is considering sending as many as 7,000 more American troops to Afghanistan next year to make up for a shortfall in contributions from NATO allies, senior Bush administration officials said.


They said the step would push the number of American forces there to roughly 40,000, the highest level since the war began more than six years ago, and would require at least a modest reduction in troops from Iraq.

The planning began in recent weeks, reflecting a growing resignation to the fact that NATO is unable or unwilling to contribute more troops despite public pledges of an intensified effort in Afghanistan from the presidents and prime ministers who attended an alliance summit meeting in Bucharest, Romania, last month.

The shortfalls in troop commitments have cast doubt on claims by President Bush and his aides that NATO was stepping up to provide more help in Afghanistan, where the government of President Hamid Karzai faces a resurgent threat from the Taliban and remnants of Al Qaeda.

Click on link above to read full New York Times story.


U.S. attack damages hospital, Iraqi official says

Story Highlights
NEW: Guided rockets hit target of "known criminal elements," U.S. says
At least 28 people wounded in U.S. attack near hospital, Iraqi says
NEW: Turkish military says it killed 150 Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq
Roadside bomb kills Iraqi traffic officer, wounds eight people

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- At least 28 people were wounded Saturday morning in a U.S. attack on a building near a hospital in Baghdad's sprawling Sadr City slum, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

Employees of al-Sadr Hospital were among the wounded and the facility's property sustained damage in the strike, including some ambulances, the official said.

In a statement, the U.S. military said the strike targeted "known criminal elements."
"We did hit the target, which was a criminal command and control center, which was near a hospital," the military said, adding that it was assessing damages.

The Interior Ministry official called the attack an airstrike, but the U.S. military said it was a guided multiple-launch rocket system strike. These guided rockets are launched from armored vehicles.

Al-Sadr Hospital is one of the two main medical facilities in the district, where Iraqi and U.S. troops have been battling Shiite militias loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
The strike apparently left a large hole in the ground near the hospital, video footage showed. Chunks of concrete and other rubble covered the ground, and car windows were shattered.
The southern portion of Sadr City has been walled off so that U.S. military and Iraqi security forces can control movements there.

Other developments
• Turkey's military said Saturday it had killed more than 150 Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq in an operation that ended early Friday, according to a statement on the military's Web site. Turkey has been staging attacks against rebels with the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers' Party, in the Qandil Mountain region in northern Iraq. A PKK official said Friday there were no PKK casualties.
• A roadside bomb exploded Saturday at a traffic patrol in the western part of Baghdad, killing an Iraqi traffic policeman and wounding eight others, including six traffic police officers, a ministry official said.
• Overnight, six people were killed and 25 were wounded in Sadr City, the Interior Ministry said. The U.S. military said it killed six "criminals." On Friday, U.S. forces killed eight suspected militants during 10 hours of fighting in the Shiite neighborhood, a military statement said.
• A U.S. soldier on combat patrol in eastern Baghdad was killed Friday when a roadside bomb struck the soldier's vehicle, the military said. The number of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq war stands at 4,066, including eight Defense Department contractors.


The Department of Defense statistics are alarming - one in three women who join the US military will be sexually assaulted or raped by men in the military. The warnings to women should begin above the doors of the military recruiting stations, as that is where assaults on women in the military begin - before they are even recruited.

By Ann Wright t r u t h o u t Perspective

But, now, even more alarming, are deaths of women soldiers in Iraq and in the United States following rape. The military has characterized each death of women who were first sexually assaulted as deaths from "noncombat related injuries," and then added "suicide." Yet, the families of the women whom the military has declared to have committed suicide strongly dispute the findings and are calling for further investigations into the deaths of their daughters. Specific US Army units and certain US military bases in Iraq have an inordinate number of women soldiers who have died of "noncombat related injuries," with several identified as "suicides."
Ninety-four US military women have died in Iraq or during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Twelve US civilian women have been killed in OIF. Thirteen US military women have been killed in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Twelve US Civilian women have been killed in Afghanistan.
Of the 94 US military women who died in Iraq or in OIF, the military says 36 died from noncombat related injuries, which included vehicle accidents, illness, death by "natural causes" and self-inflicted gunshot wounds, or suicide. The military has declared the deaths of the Navy women in Bahrain, which were killed by a third sailor, as homicides. Five deaths have been labeled as suicides, but 15 more deaths occurred under extremely suspicious circumstances.
Eight women soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, (six from the Fourth Infantry Division and two from the 1st Armored Cavalry Division) have died of "noncombat related injuries" on the same base, Camp Taji, and three were raped before their deaths. Two were raped immediately before their deaths and another raped prior to arriving in Iraq. Two military women have died of suspicious "noncombat related injuries" on Balad base, and one was raped before she died. Four deaths have been classified as "suicides."
Nineteen-year-old US Army Pvt. Lavena Johnson was found dead on the military base in Balad, Iraq, in July, 2005, and her death characterized by the US Army to be suicide from a self-inflicted M-16 shot. On April 9, 2008, Dr. John Johnson and his wife Linda, parents of Private Johnson, flew from their home in St. Louis for meetings with US Congress members and their staffs. They were in Washington to ask that Congressional hearings be conducted on the Army's investigation into the death of their daughter, an investigation that classified her death as a suicide despite extensive evidence suggesting she was murdered.

US Army Reserve Colonel, Retired, Ann Wright is a 29-year veteran of the Army and Army Reserves. She was also a US diplomat in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the US Department of State in March 19, 2003, in opposition to the Iraq War. She is the co-author of "Dissent: Voices of Conscience."

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Even after the New York Times revealed the military analysts seen on cable news stations are for most part making money off the war as lobbyists or on Board of defense contractors, FOX NEWS continues to give military analysts face time without any disclosure as to their ties to the defense industry.

And Fox is still airing -- without disclosure -- two of the exposed pundits, Robert H. Scales and Thomas McInerney. See them for yourself.

The New York Times publishes an exposé on the hidden ties between media military analysts and the Pentagon that most likely violate federal "covert propaganda" laws.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) calls for an investigation of the propaganda purveyors, especially those with business ties to the Pentagon.

Huffington Post, April 28, 2008 By Josh Silver

The Pentagon announces that it is immediately suspending their Retired Military Analyst Program.

Thousands of Americans are calling on Congress to launch an official investigation, and hold the Pentagon and their lapdog corporate media pals accountable.