Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Iraq For Sale, Follow-up

Someone had blundered. Let's ride along with the Light Brigade as they charge, from the safety of our desks.

A supply convoy out of Camp Anaconda protected by APCs of the 1173rd MP unit (National Guard) took a wrong turn down a street in a wrong neighborhood, and the column came under fire. Rebels shot up the trucks, closed in on the ones they disabled, killing three drivers and wounding three others. One driver, Preston Wheeler, had his video camera with him and kept it rolling. It's unclear how he survived, but he ended up with a couple of 7.62 millimeter-sized holes in him. He eventually gave 15 minutes of video to ABC. and was fired by Halliburton two months after the incident for having "work-related injuries." This is only 7 minutes of video, I'm not sure where the full clip is. But it's bad enough as it is. There's a movie coming out called Iraq For Sale, by Robert Greenwald, which contains at least some of this same footage.

The Iraqis first started throwing rocks at the trucks as they pass a roadside vendor. Then at least one IED goes off. Wheeler is in KBR (Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, and Root) truck #5. Gun Truck #3 (an armored personnel carrier protecting the column) is directly in front of him. If you look closely in the video, you'll see a grenade come out of GT #3 and Wheeler runs over it as it explodes, causing his truck to stall. KBR #4 turns over, and GT #3 leaves its position, the column is cut, and confusion ensues. What's clear is that parts of the column are left unprotected. While it's easy for me to say, the level of communications discipline between the civilian drivers and the gun trucks is poor, and there are some glaring tactical breakdowns. The gun truck in front of Wheeler left and failed to provide covering fire for him or the driver in front of him, who was executed. Wheeler reportedly was not rescued for 45 minutes. The Iraqi attack appears to have been improvised by regular residents wielding nothing more than light weapons. This is what it looked like from the Redcoats' perspective, and the video gives a view of how easy it would be for a more determined effort to cut US supply routes in Iraq, which extend for hundreds of miles back into Kuwait.

Halliburton's response to incidents like this is to hire drivers from India and the Phillipines for less money. Ain't globalization pretty?

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