Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Who is Fighting What and Where in Iraq?

It’s possible that reporters haven't bothered to find out how many troops are fighting in various sections of Iraq and whether they are American soldiers, Iraqi soldiers or mercenaries and what-not. But it’s far more likely that the Pentagon is not releasing that information, if it knows the answers which it probably doesn't. The New York Times reported this morning that “The American military began a major attack against Sunni insurgent positions here in the capital of Diyala Province overnight, part of a larger operation aimed at blunting the persistent car and suicide bombings that have terrorized Iraqis and thwarted political reconciliation.” The NYT article (“Military Strikes Insurgents’ Positions East of Baghdad”) by Michael R. Gordon and Damien Cave, goes on to say: “The assault — by more than 2,000 American troops in Baquba and more than 10,000 in the overall operation — is unusual in its scope and ambition, representing a more aggressive strategy of attacking several insurgent strongholds simultaneously to tamp down violence throughout the country.” Further on, the article says, “The Baquba operation is being led by the Third Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Second Infantry Division, with support from units from two other brigades. The American troops are either directly involved in the assault or in supporting efforts on the flanks, along with combat aircraft and artillery.” The article says, “In the next phase, American forces will begin the dangerous and painstaking process of clearing the city, which is still occupied by thousands of civilians. Iraqi security forces will have a role in securing the western section of the city after it has been captured by American troops, but are not involved in the initial assault.” A manual of military-speak would be useful. Stryker is a type of vehicle that is neither heavy nor light. A Stryker battalion, presumably, can move quickly. The name Stryker honors two American soldiers who were killed in action. Pfc Stuart Stryker was killed during World War II and Spc Robert Stryker was killed in the Vietnam War. A battalion has 800-900 soldiers. A brigade has 5000 soldiers and is typically made up of two to five battalions. How many of the “more than 10,000 in the overall operation” are American soldiers? How many are Iraqis? How many are rag-tag-God-knows-what-and-who? How many are mercenaries? We don’t know. The article is very careful to state that in the next phase American forces will clear the city and “Iraqi security forces will have a role but are not involved in the initial assault”. That little throwaway sentence about “Iraqi security forces” (as in, mercenaries and rag-tag-God-knows-what-and-who) not being involved means that they absolutely and for sure were involved in the initial assault. How many soldiers got killed? We don’t know. How many civilians got killed? We don’t know. How many American soldiers were involved? We don’t know. How many Iraqi soldiers were involved? We don’t know. How many mercenaries and rag-tags were involved? We don’t know and will never know. How many mercenaries were killed? We don’t know and will never know. How many sons or daughters of George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Robert Gates, Karl Rove, General Petraeus, William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Lindsay Graham, John McCain, and James Dobson have been injured or killed in Iraq? Ah...that we know. NONE.

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