Saturday, July 05, 2003

What kind of hell are our troops going thru in Iraq? This story gives the impression that all is not going as well as Chimpco would have us believe:
At first glance they appear to be the archetypal Band Of Brothers of Hollywood myth, brave and honest men united in common purpose.

But a closer look at these American GIs, sweltering in the heat of an unwelcoming Iraq, reveals the glazed eyes and limp expressions of those who have witnessed a war they do not understand and have begun to resent. By their own admission these American soldiers have killed civilians without hesitation, shot wounded fighters and left others to die in agony.

What they told me, in a series of extraordinary interviews, will make uncomfortable reading for US and British politicians and senior military staff desperate to prevent the liberation of Iraq turning into a quagmire of Vietnam proportions, where the behaviour of troops feeds the hatred of an occupied people.

Sergeant First Class John Meadows revealed the mindset that has led to hundreds of innocent Iraqi civilians being killed alongside fighters deliberately dressed in civilian clothes. "You can't distinguish between who's trying to kill you and who's not," he said. "Like, the only way to get through s*** like that was to concentrate on getting through it by killing as many people as you can, people you know are trying to kill you. Killing them first and getting home."

Of course the Army understands all this and is keeping them well supplied, right?
Even though Iraq presently costs you and me over three billion bucks a month and Generals are living in palaces, the kids are complaining about the basic stuff so important to grunts: hot chow, decent water, mail and spare parts to keep vehicles, aircraft and weapons going. They’re ragging about eating lots of dust and their Hobo Junction living conditions. Some combat units haven’t gotten mail in over 40 days, while for months many have been chowing down MRE’s -- which after a few weeks are like eating bark from a tree -- with a side of hot drinking water laced with enough chlorine to make even a lifeguard squeamish. And for those in the combat arena, spare parts are harder to obtain than a cold drink.

Relatives are responding by sending whatever they can to help -- Kool-Aid and WD-140 and decent rifle lubricating oil because the standard issue gun oil sucks.

The reason the troops need this kind of support from home is that the Pentagon went into Iraq too light, expecting it would be Slam Bam Goodbye Saddam followed by a victory parade down Fifth Avenue. Rumsfeld, Wolfawitz and their tech-loving crew believed their own simplistic propaganda and now our soldiers are paying the price on a complicated insurgency battlefield without the logistical depth to do the job.

It’s Basic Leadership 101 to look out for the troops. Surely with the amount of green being spread around the brass could put more of the budget to what that entails: Not only training ‘em hard to keep ‘em alive in the toughest contest yet invented by supposedly civilized men but also keeping their bellies full with the best food going, making sure they and their gear are being maintained in top shape for the killing job they must do and busting a gut trying to make their living conditions as decent as possible.