Pressure for Iraq to pay its own way
By Jim Lobe WASHINGTON
Growing impatience in the US Congress over the enormous costs incurred by the Iraq war, as well as the Pentagon's belief that it needs more troops in Afghanistan to fight insurgents there, is putting the vaunted success of the George W Bush administration's "surge" strategy to the test.
Although the House of Representatives appears poised to approve an additional US$163 billion on Thursday for military operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan through the end of the year, most observers believe that Congress will impose unprecedented conditions on Iraq-related spending.
This could include requirements that the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki pays substantially more in reconstruction and related costs
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Pressure for Iraq to pay its own way
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 11:00 PM
WASHINGTON — More than 43,000 U.S. troops listed as medically unfit for combat in the weeks before their scheduled deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2003 were sent anyway, Pentagon records show.
By Gregg Zoroya - USA TodayPosted : Thursday May 8, 2008 12:56:45 EDT
This reliance on troops found medically “nondeployable” is another sign of stress placed on a military that has sent 1.6 million service members to the war zones, soldier advocacy groups said.
“It is a consequence of the consistent churning of our troops,” said Bobby Muller, president of Veterans For America. “They are repeatedly exposed to high-intensity combat with insufficient time at home to rest and heal before re-deploying.”
The numbers of nondeployable soldiers are based on health assessment forms filled out by medical personnel at each military installation before a service member’s deployment. According to those statistics, the number of troops that doctors found nondeployable but who were still sent to Iraq or Afghanistan fluctuated from 10,854 in 2003, down to 5,397 in 2005, and back up to 9,140 in 2007.
The Pentagon records do not list what — or how serious — the health issues are, nor whether they were corrected before deployment, said Michael Kilpatrick, a deputy director for the Pentagon’s Force Health Protection and Readiness Programs.
A Pentagon staffer examined 10,000 individual health records last year to determine causes for the nondeployable ratings, Kilpatrick said. Some reasons included a need for eyeglasses, dental work or allergy medicine and a small number of mental health cases, he said.
This is the first war in which this health screening process has been used, the Pentagon said.
Most of the nondeployable service members are in the Army, which is doing most of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Between 5 percent and 7 percent of all active-duty, National Guard and Reserve soldiers slated for combat were found medically unfit due to health problems each year since 2003, according to statistics provided to USA Today.
Unit commanders make the final decision about whether a service member is sent into combat, although doctors can recommend against deployment because of a medical issue, Army spokeswoman Kim Waldron said.
“The commander consults with health care professionals to determine whether the treatment a soldier needs is available in theater,” said Army Col. Steven Braverman of the Army Medical Command.
At Fort Carson, Colo., Maj. Gen. Mark Graham ordered an investigation into deployment procedures for a brigade deployed to Iraq late last year. At least 36 soldiers were found medically unfit but were still deployed, Graham told USA Today.
For at least seven soldiers, treatment in the war zone was inadequate and the soldiers were sent home, and at least two of them should never have been deployed, he said.
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February, the panel’s chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked Army leaders about an e-mail from the surgeon for the Fort Carson brigade that said medically “borderline” soldiers went to war because “we have been having issues reaching deployable strength.”
“That should not be happening,” Army Secretary Pete Geren told the committee. “I can’t tell you that it’s not, but it certainly should not be happening.”
Meanwhile, soldiers with medical problems have also deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan from Fort Drum, N.Y., and Forts Stewart and Benning in Georgia, according to Brenda Farrell, who is leading an investigation into the practice for the Government Accountability Office. A report from that investigation sought by members of the House Armed Services Committee is due in June.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 10:33 PM
Baghdad_(dpa) _ The Iraqi government is bracing for a big offensive against loyalists of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, according to a politician from his bloc, while three people were killed and 20 injured in attacks, including a former commander of al-Qaeda in Iraq group.
Fighting between government and US troops and al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia raging since the end of March has left around 1,000 people dead and over 2,500 wounded, many of them civilians.
"Iraqi and US military preparations are underway to move into Sadr City," Asma al-Musawi, a member of al-Sadr Bloc, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
The government has told people in two of the 79 neighbourhoods that make up Sadr City to leave their homes in preparation for a push into the area, al-Musawi said.
"The area is on the brink of a big humanitarian disaster," she warned.
The battle has intensified recently with street to street and house to house fighting. Government and US forces have so far failed to subdue the militiamen despite almost daily airstrikes.
US troops have set up concrete barriers in the southern parts of the district.
Hundreds of people have fled the fighting in the past days.
Elsewhere in Baghdad, three people were killed and 16 injured in four blasts, security officials said.
In one incident, a bomb blast on a bus left one passenger and four others injured in Baladiyat in east Baghdad.
An Iraqi army patrol was hit by a bomb near a playground in Shaab. Five army personnel were injured.
In another blast, three civilians were injured by a bomb that went off near the National Theatre in the central Karada district, which was the scene of a bomb attack Tuesday targeting the wife of the Iraqi president.
Hiro Ibrahim survived the attack, in which several soldiers and civilians were injured.
A rocket attack in the centre of the city caused two fatalities and left four people wounded.
In the northern Salahaddin province, a commander of a tribal police unit, who was formerly a senior member of the al-Qaeda terrorist network in Iraq, was wounded along with three policemen in a suicide bombing.
A suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt attacked the motorcade of the police chief of Duluiyah and his companions, including Mullah Nazim al-Juburi, the commander of the local Awakening Council, police sources told the Voices of Iraq news agency.
Al-Juburi was lightly injured in the attack, which occurred in Duluiyah.
The Awakening Councils are US-backed tribal forces formed in Sunni areas to fight insurgents of Sunni extremist groups, such as al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Al-Juburi, who is now the imam of the main mosque in Duluiyah, was himself a leader of the al-Qaeda in Iraq group for the past four years until he turned against it and set up the local Awakening Council.
Also in Salahaddin, tribal policemen killed four insurgents and found a weapon cache in Tikrit, 175 kilometres north of Baghdad, the US military said Thursday. dpa str sf ds pmc mga
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 10:16 PM
At least 42 Iraqis were killed and 71 more were wounded in the latest violence. Clashes continue in Sadr City, while bombings killed and injured many in Baghdad. One British soldier was injured. Also, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, leader of the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda, may have been captured in Mosul. Also, a Katyusha rocket landed in the Green Zone, but no casualties were reported.
A British soldier was injured during a rocket attack at the Basra International Airport; two, possibly foreign, civilians were killed. A vicious clash broke out nearby, in Zubair. There are no reports of casualties yet, but many rockets were fired at a National Police base. Also, 48 people were arrested during raids.
In Baghdad, a car bomb in Mansour killed seven people, including policemen, and wounded 19 others. Three people were killed and six were wounded during a Katyusha rocket attack on Sadoun Street, near the al-Nasr Cinema. Three people were wounded during a roadside bombing near the National Theater. In Zayouna, a roadside bomb left one dead and five wounded. A roadside bomb injured five Iraqi soldiers near Shabb Stadium. Seven people were injured near a mosque in the Jihad neighborhood. Four unidentified bodies were found. The body of a policeman was discovered in Abu Dsheer.
Seven people were killed and 20 were wounded during overnight clashes in Sadr City. U.S. forces killed 17 suspects in Baghdad and Sadr City. MNF forces, on Iraqi Cabinet orders, shut down a radio station loyal to the al-Sadr political bloc.
A suicide bomber in Dhuluiya wounded five people, including the police chief, an Awakening Council (Sahwa) leader and three of his security guards.
In Mosul, a bomb seriously injured a policeman. A dumped body was found. Also, soldiers killed a suicide bomber attempting to enter a hotel.
U.S. forces detained 17 suspects across Iraq.
Southwest of Baquba, a judge was kidnapped.
In Amara, two people were arrested and their cache of landmines was confiscated.
Two men making bombs at home in Diwaniya were captured.
Gunmen kidnapped a professor in Kut.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 6:18 PM
Baghdad and Sadr City is exploding with violence and all across Iraq the chaos and mayhem continues and STILL the media in the United States prefers to write about the possibility that Hezbollah will be attacking Israel. Who the hell cares? We don't have a single soldier in Israel. Let them fight their own battles. Our 160,000 troops are in Iraq and 30,000 in Afghanistan and not ISRAEL.
Just watch how the US media now turns all their attention to what is taking place in Lebanon and Israel. That is because the mainstream media in the United States actually HATES the United States military. You can take it to the bank.
Editorial comment by BILL CORCORAN, editor of this blog and former GI who served as a United States Army Combat Engineer.
War News for Thursday, May 08, 2008
Casualty Reports:Pfc. Jeffrey Rosas, a 19-year-old Army soldier and 2007 Carroll High School graduate, was in critical condition at a Baghdad hospital after he was shot in the chest during a training exercise this week with his unit, his parents said. "All I was told was that he had suffered a gunshot wound to the chest," said Rosas' mother, Linda Rosas, who was contacted Tuesday afternoon at work by an official at Fort Carson, Colo., where her only child's unit is based. "Someone mentioned today -- one of the captains called today -- and said he was at a training exercise and they weren't able to release any more information," she said.
Marina Cpl. Jimmy Kinsey lost one leg and severely injured the other when his Humvee was struck by an improvised explosive device.
THE FOLLOWING IS LIST OF VIOLENCE IN BAGHDAD, SADR CITY AND OTHER PROVINCES ALL ACROSS IRAQ.
ANYONE WHO SAYS THE "SURGE" IS WORKING SHOULD BE TOSSED INTO THE MIDDLE OF ALL THIS CHAOS AND THEN SEE WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY.
Baghdad:#1: Iraqi soldiers for the first time warned residents in the embattled Sadr City district to leave their houses Thursday, signaling a new push by the U.S.-backed forces against Shiite extremist who have been waging street battles for seven weeks. Iraqi soldiers, using loudspeakers, told residents in some virtually abandoned areas of southeastern Sadr City to go to nearby soccer stadiums, residents said. UNICEF says about 6,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in Sadr City, most of them from the southeastern section.#2: At least four people were killed and 13 injured in clashes late Wednesday in Sadr City, Iraqi health officials said Thursday. It was not clear whether any militants were among them.Fresh gunbattles between Shiite fighters and US occupation forces in Baghdad's Sadr City killed seven people and wounded 20 others, Iraqi security and medical officials said on Thursday.The U.S. military said it killed 17 gunmen in several clashes across Baghdad, including in the Shi'ite slum of Sadr City. It said the incidents took place on Wednesday and Thursday.#3: On Wednesday, Claire Hajaj, a UNICEF spokeswoman based in Jordan, said up to 150,000 people — including 75,000 children — were isolated in sections of Sadr City "cordoned off by military forces." She said about 6,000 have fled their homes.#4: Meanwhile, gunmen wearing police uniforms killed a police captain Wednesday after kidnapping him from a police station in Shiite neighborhood of Abu Dshir, police said Thursday. His body was found near the station.#5: A Katyusha rocket landed in central Baghdad, killing two people and wounding four, police said.2 Katyusha rockets slammed into the street next to al-Nasr cinema, Sadoon Street, central Baghdad killing 2 civilians, injuring 2 others and causing material damage to several civilian cars.#6: Iraqis employed at the British embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone claim to have been sexually abused, the Times reported Wednesday. An Iraqi woman, who worked as a cleaning lady, told British diplomats that the head of KBR had asked her to stay the night and promised to double her wage in return. Her refusal resulted in a pay cut and she was later dismissed.Two Iraqi cooks, who confirmed the woman's claims to Foreign Office staff, also lost their jobs shortly afterwards, the Times reported. They had worked in the canteen and said that KBR managers groped Iraqi staff regularly and paid or rewarded them for sex. Those who refused or spoke out were dismissed. The British embassy heard the complaints initially, but left KBR to investigate the claims. KBR later reported they were unfounded.#7: Baghdad's crumbling roads, burst sewage pipes and chronic water shortages are casualties of war that get little attention amid the daily litany of gunfights, bombs and bloodletting in Iraq. As summer approaches, the city is facing an acute shortage of drinking water despite the efforts of officials like Sadiq Shumari, its director of water services.#8: 1 Katyusha rocket slammed into the Green Zone at 9 am Thursday. No casualties were reported.#9: A roadside bomb exploded in Humat al-Watan intersection near Shaab stadium, east Baghdad. It targeted an Iraqi Army patrol injuring 5 servicemen.#10: An adhesive IED in a Kia minibus exploded killing 1 civilian, severely injuring 5 others. The incident took place in Zayuna neighbourhood, near the traffic fly over at around 3 pm Thursday.#11: A roadside bomb exploded behind the National Theatre in Karrada, central Baghdad injuring 3 civilians.#12: A parked car bomb exploded targeting a police patrol in Mansour neighbourhood, west Baghdad, near Samad restaurant in Rowad intersection at 5 pm Thursday. The explosion killed 3 policemen and 4 civilians and injured 2 policemen and 17 civilians amongst whom were 2 women and 1 child. The location is a central commercial centre and the explosion resulted in burning 4 civilian cars completely as well as the police vehicle in addition to extensive material damages to 10 stores and completely destroying the restaurant.#13: A roadside bomb exploded in Jihad neighbourhood, near Mohammed Rasool Allah Mosque at 7 pm injuring 7 civilians.#14: 4 unidentified bodies were found in Baghdad today by Iraqi Police. 1 in Nahdha; 1 in Dola’I and 2 in Abu Disheer.Diyala Prv:#1: Unknown gunmen on Thursday kidnapped a judge in Diala, a security source said.“Unknown armed group abducted judge Rasheed al-Manhal on the road linking Baldruz district and Kanaan district, south-west Baquba”, a Diala security source, who requested anonmity, told Aswat al-Iraq-Voices of Iraq.Kut:#1: In the southeastern Shiite city of Kut, gunmen on Thursday stormed the Technical Institute and abducted a professor, Nuri Kamil Khanjar, local police said. It was not clear why Khanjar was kidnapped.Basra:#1: Up to 20 rockets have been fired at the British base at Basra airport, say police in the southern Iraqi city. No British personnel are reported to have been seriously injured in the attack, thought to have happened at about 1415 local time (1215 BST). Iraqi and British Army units responded by sealing of part of the Zubair district of the city, from where the katyusha rockets had been fired.#2: Violent clashes broke out between the security forces and gunmen in al-Askari neighbourhood, Zubair district 35 km t the west of Basra city after many Katyusha rockets were fired targeting a Notional Police camp in Zubair. The fighting continues and no casualties report was available at time of publication.As a result, Iraqi army and police forces moved toward the missiles' launching location, and immediately clashes erupted with gunmen," he said."I heard explosions as security forces were approaching the area," he added. Another eyewitness from al-Rasheediya area of al-Zobair suburb said "fierce clashes broke out between the national police and gunmen for more than two hours." "Helicopters and jet fighters flew over the clashes field, but without bombarding any target," he added. "I saw an Iraqi Humvee vehicle damaged, while two houses were set on fire due to the random fire exchange," he noted. Security forces' sources could not be immediately reached for a comment.Dhuluiyah:#1: A former senior Al-Qaeda leader in central Iraq now working in one of the so-called Awakening groups alongside US forces survived a suicide bombing on Thursday north of Baghdad, officials said. The suicide bomber detonated the explosives as Mullah Nadhom Mahmud's convoy was driven by Dhuluiyah, a town some 70 kilometres (40 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraqi police official Mohammed al-Jubburi told AFP. Jubburi himself was in the vehicle targeted by the suicide bomber, but he escaped unhurt. He said Mahmud, 30, and three others were wounded.Mosul:#1: A policeman was seriously wounded when a bomb exploded near his home in the northern city of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.#2: The body of a man was found in Mosul on Wednesday, police said.Afghanistan:#1: Police say its officers have clashed with and killed six Taliban fighters in western Afghanistan. Provincial police chief Shah Jahan Noori said among militants killed during the clash Thursday was the Taliban-appointed governor for the western province of Ghor. He said about 10 militants had crossed into Ghor from the neighboring Helmand province before the clash. Noori said two police and one civilian were wounded during the firefight.#2: A suicide car blast rocked Afghan capital Kabul Thursday, injuring five civilians, an interior ministry spokesman told Xinhua. The attacker exploded his car and injured the civilians nearby,the official said, adding that the blast, of which the target has still been unidentified, caused no other casualties.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 4:50 PM
Report finds not enough counselors or psychiatrists for returning troops
FORT DRUM, New York - Fort Drum, a bleak U.S. Army base in upstate New York, is a test case for how the military is handling a looming mental health crisis.
The military and its critics agree on one thing — there are not enough therapists to treat all the soldiers who return from Iraq and Afghanistan traumatized by the experience.
The 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (2BCT) is the most-deployed brigade in the U.S. army since 2001. It served two tours in Afghanistan, totaling 11 months, and was sent to Iraq twice for tours of 12 and 15 months.
"They're kind of a canary in a coal mine," said Paul Rieckhoff, a former Army captain who founded the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "They're a good barometer to understand the human cost of the war."
A report by advocacy group Veterans for America said the mental healthcare system at Fort Drum was not meeting the demands placed on it and had prepared inadequately for the return of more than 3,500 soldiers from Iraq late last year.
Click on link for complete story
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 4:25 PM
Thousands flee as Sadr City offensive looms
Iraqi forces backed by U.S. warn residents to leave Mahdi Army stronghold
The Associated Press
updated 4:27 a.m. CT, Thurs., May. 8, 2008
BAGHDAD - Iraqi soldiers for the first time warned residents in the embattled Sadr City district to leave their houses Thursday, signaling a new push by the U.S.-backed forces against Shiite extremists who have been waging street battles for seven weeks.
Iraqi soldiers, using loudspeakers, told residents in some areas of southeastern Sadr City, which were virtually abandoned, to go to nearby soccer stadiums, residents said. UNICEF says about 6,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in Sadr City, most of them from the southeastern section.
U.S. forces have increased air power and armored patrols in an attempt to cripple Shiite militia influence in Sadr City, a slum of 2.5 million people that serves as the Baghdad base for the Mahdi Army led by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
The U.S. military is trying to weaken the militia grip in the slum and disrupt rocket and mortar strikes from Sadr City on the U.S.-protected Green Zone, which includes the U.S. Embassy and key Iraqi government offices.
Several civilians were injured in rocket or mortar attacks that hit downtown Baghdad earlier this week.
Click on link to read full MSNBC story: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24515828/
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 3:56 PM
Baghdad stadium to shelter Iraqis fleeing Sadr City danger
Official says 400 families at most have left Sadr City neighborhood
He denies reports people ordered out, says they're rumors spread by "gangs"
Former insurgent, now in U.S.-backed group, injured in suicide bombing
At least 13 killed in incidents including car bombing in Baghdad on Thursday
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A top official in Baghdad said the capital's biggest stadium is one of three locations being prepared for residents fleeing Baghdad's Sadr City, where Iraqi and U.S. forces have been fighting Shiite militants for weeks.
An Iraqi mother and daughter walk near a checkpoint at the entrance to Baghdad's Sadr City on Wednesday.
Tahseen al-Sheikhly, the civilian spokesman for the Baghdad security plan, said no more than 400 families have fled the war-torn neighborhood so far. There have been reports that thousands of people have fled.
Al-Sheikhly discounted reports that soldiers have been using loudspeakers to tell people to leave. He said "criminal gangs" are spreading the rumor to generate fears among the populace that a big strike is being prepared by security forces. He said gangs are trying to generate hatred of security forces by distributing a "fabricated" video of coalition forces assaulting a woman.
Those families that are leaving, he said, are residents who have been cooperating with security forces, families of security forces who have been threatened, and people who have been "held hostage by the criminal gangs."
He said one man left after he protested to insurgents that they were planting a roadside bomb too close to his house and the insurgents told him to leave the area.
Click on link http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/05/08/iraq.main/index.html to read full CNN story.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 12:25 PM
The Iraq War has been a dismal failure for the United States and has turned the United States into the most HATED country in the entire world....and when you look at this video you will know why.
None of this had to happen but trigger happy President George W. Bush and his draft-dodging Vice President Dick Cheney, sold the American public a pack of LIES that Iraq was a threat to the United States.
Now FIVE YEARS later, over 4,100 young Americans have been KILLED and another 30,000 lay wounded at military hospitals, and in IRAQ the pain of the war is written on the faces of the young children who were caught in the middle of the Bush/Cheney folly of LIES.
In this GRAPHIC VIDEO the images of the innocent children of IRAQ are captured in scenes that should be shown over and over again on American television, but American television is owned by corporations who have subsidiaries making big bucks off the war so the media in the United States has pulled down the curtain on covering the IRAQ WAR.
WE WON'T AND THAT IS WHY WE PRESENT THIS VIDEO FOR REAL AMERICANS TO WATCH AND NOT THE CHICKENHAWKS WHO THINK WAR IS A VIDEO GAME:
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 12:03 AM