Iraq: It's The August Place To Be!
It's 117 degrees in Baghdad, and the water pumps are silent. No running water. Typhus and cholera cannot withstand the power of The Surge, but if those peaceful maladies claim any victims, they won't count. We won't hear about them. We also won't hear what the ground commander in Iraq, David Petraeus, really thinks. Because the White House is going to write his report on the Surge effects for him.
The video attached above, "Inside The Surge,"tells the story from the ground, with troopers in A Company of a Stryker battalion in Baghdad. If you want to see reporting like the best of what came out of Vietnam, watch. Soldiers speak, complete with their names and rank. They speak of being pushed beyond maximum endurance and giving out. (Their suicide rate just hit an all-time modern high.) As a reminder, Vietnam ended not because of civilian resistance at home, but because US regular Army and Marine units could no longer function as effective fighting forces in the field. They did not want to be there, and could see they were doing no good. The mission was too muddled, the fantasy was too far gone.
One can only wonder what the Iraqis are feeling as their proto-government has its August vacation. More than a vacation. In truth, many of their representatives have fled for the hills like caged badgers, and will never set foot in a parliament building again. In the video above, a taxi driver is killed, shot through the throat while looking for his fare's address because the soldiers of 2nd Platoon were nervous about snipers. They thought he might be spotting for the enemy.
I read a news article on the Huffington Post this weekend in which a journalist interviewed a disaffected PR unit and got them to go off-script. The Press Affairs Team blurted out stuff like this:
Lieutenant X: "We're just keeping beat-down soldiers in-theatre. It's a numbers game. And Jee-zus, it's hot! This war makes absolutely no freakin' sense anymore."Ok, it was a little different than that. A lot different. But having just blown a half-hour unsuccessfully Googling for the story, you can treat the quotes as apocryphal. The point is, the grunts are feeling burnt out and hopeless. The writer of the article even got some officers to go on record describing the condition of the troops. (In short: pretty damned bad.) The PR team assigned to the reporter was supposed to refer to their positive talking points, not tell him how crappy things really are. The press team just didn't give a damn, and conveyed an attitude of extreme disaffection. You can imagine how pissed the troops are if the Fobbits are at the end of their tethers. Kilroy isn't there anymore.
Specialist Y: "They keep telling us to write positive stories. But why can't we just tell you the..IED!! GO, GO, GO, GO! HIT THE HORN. HIT 'EM.
DON'T STOP!!" (Fires machine gun.)
Captain Z: "No, it's ok, we're past it. OK. Calm down. Everybody ok? OK. Pull over to the shade. Over there. That building there. On the right. Whee-ooo. I'm fixin' to get heat stroke again. Where the hell's my hemorrhoid cream?"
(Update: Found it. Originally published by the Guardian UK, it is titled "Fatigue Cripples US Army in Iraq." The Free Republic has issued an 'MSM Treason Alert' over it and their commenters are having seizures so severe two of them spilled bottles of Miller High Life across their keyboards. (You can tell by their spelling.) I highly recommend reading the article if you haven't already. It's a crack in the curtain, and that's how the light gets in. Here's a short quote:
This is a different kind of war,' says [Major Stacie] Caswell. 'In World War II it was clear who the good guys and the bad guys were. You knew what you would go through on the battlefield.' Now she says the threat is all around. And soldiering has changed. 'Now we have so many things to do...'The Army is being ground to bits, grunt by grunt, while twits like Tim Casey from the Heritage Foundation are going on media offensives saying, "Wow. It's a great thing for soldiers to serve their country. The Surge is working. And it was their free choice!" Ah-ah--reality check--the surge is not working. It's 117 degrees in Baghdad, and there's no running water. We can fill in the blanks.)
'And the soldier in Vietnam,' interjects Sergeant John Valentine from the same unit, 'did not get to see the coverage from home that these soldiers do. We see what is going on at home on the political scene. They think the war is going to end. Then we have the frustration and confusion. That is fatiguing. Mentally tiring.'
'Not only that,' says Caswell, 'but because of the nature of what we do now, the number of tasks in comparison with previous generations - even as you are finishing your 15 months here you are immediately planning and training for your next tour.' Valentine adds: 'There is no decompression.'