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Field commanders tell Pentagon Iraq war 'is lost'
(Doug Thompson, Capitol Hill Blue, Jun 5, 2006)
Military commanders in the field in Iraq admit in private reports to the Pentagon the war "is lost" and that the U.S. military is unable to stem the mounting violence killing 1,000 Iraqi civilians a month. . . . Even worse, they report the massacre of Iraqi civilians at Haditha is "just the tip of the iceberg" with overstressed, out-of-control Americans soldiers pushed beyond the breaking point both physically and mentally. . . . "We are in trouble in Iraq," says retired army general Barry McCaffrey. "Our forces can't sustain this pace, and I'm afraid the American people are walking away from this war." . . . Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has clamped a tight security lid on the increasingly pessimistic reports coming out of field commanders in Iraq, threatening swift action against any military personnel who leak details to the press or public. . . . "There were problems in Kilo company with drugs, alcohol, hazing [violent initiation games], you name it," she said. "I think it's more than possible that these guys were totally tweaked out on speed or something when they shot those civilians in Haditha." . . . Journalists stationed with the unit described Kilo Company and the Third Batallion of Marines as a "unit out of control," where morale had plummeted and rules went out the window. . . . Similar reports emerge from military units throughout Iraq and even the Iraqi prime minister describes American soldiers as trigger happy goons with little regard for the lives of civilians. . . . Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki says the murder of Iraqi civilians has become a "daily phenomenon" by American troops who "do not respect the Iraqi people." . . . "They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion. This is completely unacceptable," Maliki said. The White House tried to play down Maliki's comments, saying the prime minister was "misquoted" although Maliki himself has yet to made such a public claim. . . . "Can anyone blame Iraqis for joining the resistance now? Mustafa al-Ani, an Iraqi analyst living in Dubai, told The Chicago Tribune. The resistance and the terrorists alike are feeding off the misbehavior of the American soldiers. . . . As the resistance mounts and daily violence escalates, the overstressed U.S. units are unable to control the mounting violence and conclusions escalate that the war is lost. . . . "Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood," says Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa. . . . The former commander of American forces in Northern Iraq admits incidents like Haditha add to the impression that the U.S. cannot win the war. . . . "Allegations such as this, regardless of how they are borne out by the facts, can have an effect on the ability of U.S. forces to continue to operate," says Army Brig. Gen. Carter Ham. Others say the incident just shows the U.S. has lost he "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people. . . . "When something like Haditha happens, it gives the impression that Americans can't be trusted to provide security, which is the most important thing to Iraqis on a day-to-day level," says Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It tends to confirm all of the worst interpretations of the United States, and not simply in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan and in the region."
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posted by Lorenzo 5:29 PM
Marine's wife paints portrait of US troops out of control in Haditha
(Julian Borger, The Guardian, June 5, 2006)
The marine unit involved in the killing of Iraqi civilians in Haditha last November had suffered a "total breakdown" in discipline and had drug and alcohol problems, according to the wife of one of the battalion's staff sergeants. . . . The allegations in Newsweek magazine contribute to an ever more disturbing portrait of embattled marines under high stress, some on their third tour of duty after ferocious door-to-door fighting in the Sunni insurgent strongholds of Falluja and Haditha. . . . The wife of the unnamed staff sergeant claimed there had been a "total breakdown" in the unit's discipline after it was pulled out of Falluja in early 2005. . . . "There were problems in Kilo company with drugs, alcohol, hazing [violent initiation games], you name it," she said. "I think it's more than possible that these guys were totally tweaked out on speed or something when they shot those civilians in Haditha." . . . "We are in trouble in Iraq," Barry McCaffrey, a retired army general who played a leading role in the Iraq war, told Time magazine. "Our forces can't sustain this pace, and I'm afraid the American people are walking away from this war." . . . The Newsweek account described a gung-ho battalion that had staged a chariot race, complete with captured horses, togas and heavy metal music, before the battle for Falluja in late 2004. The marines were given loose rules of engagement in the vicious urban warfare that followed. . . . "If you see someone with a cellphone," said one of the commanders was quoted as saying, half-jokingly, "put a bullet in their fucking head". . . . A Daily Telegraph reporter who visited its headquarters early this year at Haditha Dam, on the outskirts of the town, described it as a "feral place" where discipline was "approaching breakdown". He reported that some marines had left the official living quarters and had set up separate encampments with signs ordering outsiders to keep out. [COMMENT by Lorenzo: Scenes from Apocalypse Now come to mind.] . . . Three senior officers in the Haditha-based 3rd battalion of the first marine regiment, known as the Thundering Third, have been relieved of duty because of a "lack of confidence" in their leadership. . . . The officers include Captain Lucas McConnell, the head of Kilo company, which was directly involved in the deaths of 24 unarmed Iraqis there on November 19. . . . On Saturday the Iraqi government rejected the findings of a US inquiry into the death of nine civilians in a US raid in the town of Ishaqi and said it would conduct its own investigation.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:46 AM