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What some US soldiers in Iraq say:
Hostages of the empire
Tuesday July 1, 2003
The words of Paul Bremer, Washington's overlord in Iraq, need no "sexing up". "We are going to fight them and impose our will on them and we will capture or... kill them until we have imposed law and order on this country," he declared at the weekend. "We dominate the scene and we will continue to impose our will on this country."
July 2, 2003
Bush Says U.S. Won't Waver in Iraq Mission
By John Daniszewski, Patrick J. McDonnell and Maura Reynolds, Times Staff Writers
Bremer, in his news conference, grew testy at a reporter's suggestion that many Iraqis were unhappy with the U.S. presence.
"I've traveled around this country a lot and spent four days on the road this week, and I didn't meet any of those people you're talking about," he said. When the reporter, of National Public Radio, insisted that he was not alone in hearing such opinions, Bremer answered: "Good — maybe you can do my job better than I can."
U.S. troops swelter under the Iraqi sun, endure guerrilla attacks
By Chris Tomlinson, Associated Press, 6/17/2003
''Little kids wave at us and their parents slap them in the back of the head and make them stop,'' said Spc. Anthony Combs of Hyden, Ky. ''It makes me feel like I wasted my time over here and they don't appreciate what we did.''
''We need to pull these guys out and put some other troops in here who are trained for peacekeeping, because our first impulse is to kill,'' said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Wright of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.
''My guys question why we are going from warriors to peacekeepers, because the belief in what was told to us was that we would fight and win and go home and that someone else would do this (peacekeeping),'' he said.
"Goddamnit I hate fuckin' Eye-raq and fuckin' Eye-raqis. I just wanna go home!"
19/06/03 - News and city section
'I just pulled the trigger'
By Bob Graham, Evening Standard, in Baghdad
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."
A lone Iraqi sniper nicknamed The Hunter is believed to have claimed his sixth American victim this week in a suburb of Baghdad. The man, said to be a former member of the Republican Guard Special Forces, has developed a cult status among some Iraqis. One Baghdad resident, Assad al Amari, said: "He is fighting for Iraq on his own. There will be many more Americans killed because they cannot stop The Hunter. He will be given the protection of people who will let him use their homes for his shooting."
Their attitude to these dangers is summed up by Specialist (Corporal) Michael Richardson, 22. "There was no dilemma when it came to shooting people who were not in uniform, I just pulled the trigger. It was up close and personal the whole time, there wasn't a big distance. If they were there, they were enemy, whether in uniform or not. Some were, some weren't."
Specialist Anthony Castillo added: "When there were civilians there we did the mission that had to be done. When they were there, they were at the wrong spot, so they were considered enemy." In one major battle - at the southern end of Baghdad at the intersection of the main highways - the soldiers estimate about 70 per cent of the enemy's 400-or-so fighters were dressed as civilians.
Sgt Meadows explained: "The fight lasted for about eight hours and they just kept on coming all day from everywhere, from all sides. They were all in plain clothes.
"We had dropped fliers a couple of days prior saying to people to get out of the area if they didn't want to fight, so basically anyone who was there was a combatant. If they were dumb enough to stand in front of tanks or drive a car
towards a tank, then they were there to fight. On that day it took away the dilemma of who to fire at, anyone who was there was a combatant."
Cpl Richardson added: "That day nothing went with the training. There were females fighting; there were some that, when they saw you f****** coming, they'd just drop their s*** and try to give up; and some guys were shot and they'd play dead, and when you'd go by they'd reach for their weapons. That day it was just f****** everything. When we face women or injured that try to grab their weapons, we just finish them off. You've gotta, no choice."
Such is their level of hatred they preferred to kill rather than merely injure. Sgt Meadows, 34, said: "The worst thing is to shoot one of them, then go help him." Sergeant Adrian Pedro Quinones, 26, chipped in: "In that situation you're angry, you're raging. They'd just been shooting at my men - they were putting my guys in a casket and eight feet under, that's what they were trying to do.
"And now, they're laying there and I have to help them, I have a responsibility to ensure my men help them." Cpl Richardson said: "S***, I didn't help any of them. I wouldn't help the f******. There were some you let die. And there were some you double-tapped."
He held out his hand as if firing a gun and clucked his tongue twice. He said: "Once you'd reached the objective, and once you'd shot them and you're moving through, anything there, you shoot again. You didn't want any prisoners of war. You hate them so bad while you're fighting, and you're so terrified, you can't really convey the feeling, but you don't want them to live."
These soldiers have faced fighters from other Arab countries. "It wasn't even Iraqis that we was killing, it was Syrians," said Sgt Meadows. "We spoke to some of the people and Saddam made a call for his Arab brothers for a holy war against us, and they said they came here to fight us. Whadda we ever do to them?"
Cpl Richardson intervened: "S***, that didn't really matter who they were. They wanted to fight us so they were the enemy. We had to take over Baghdad, period, it didn't matter who was in there."
The GIs spoke of shooting civilians at roadblocks. Sgt Meadows said: "When they used white flags we were told to stop them at 400 metres out and then strip them down naked then bring them through. Most obeyed the order. We knew about others who had problems with [Iraqis] carrying white flags and then opening up on our guys. We knew about every trick they were trying to do. Then they'd use cars to try and drive at us. They were men, women and children. That day we shot up a lot of cars.
"We'd shoot warning shots at them and they'd keep coming, so we'd kill them. We'd fire a warning shot over the top of them or on the road. When people criticise us killing civilians they don't know that a lot of these civilians were combatants, they really were . And they still are."
The men have been traumatised by their experiences. Cpl Richardson-said: "At night time you think about all the people you killed. It just never gets off your head, none of this stuff does. There's no chance to forget it, we're still here, we've been here so long. Most people leave after combat but we haven't."
Sgt Meadows said men under his command had been seeking help for severe depression: "They've already seen psychiatrists and the chain of command has got letters back saying 'these men need to be taken out of this situation'. But nothing's happened." Cpl Richardson added: "Some soldiers don't even f****** sleep at night. They sit up all f****** night long doing s*** to keep themselves busy - to keep their minds off this f****** stuff. It's the only way they can handle it. It's not so far from being crazy but it's their way of coping. There's one guy trying to build a little pool out the back, pointless stuff but it keeps him busy."
Sgt Meadows said: "For me, it's like snap-shot photos. Like pictures of maggots on tongues, babies with their heads on the ground, men with their heads halfway off and their eyes wide open and mouths wide open. I see it every day, every single day. The smells and the torsos burning, the entire route up to Baghdad, from 20 March to 7 April, nothing but burned bodies."
Specialist Bryan Barnhart, 21, joined in: "I also got the images like snapshots in my head. There are bodies that we saw when we went back to secure a place we'd taken. The bodies were still there and they'd been baking in the sun. Their bodies were bloated three times the size."
Sgt Quinones explained: "There are psychiatrists who are trying to sort out their problems but they say it's because of long combat environment. They know we need to be taken away from that environment." But the group's tour of duty has been extended and the men have been forced to remain as peacekeepers. Cpl Richardson said: "Now we're in this peacekeeping, we're always firing off a warning shot at people that don't wanna listen to you. You make up the rules as you go along.
"Like, in Fallujah we get rocks thrown at us by kids. You wanna turn round and shoot one of the little f*****s but you know you can't do that. Their parents know if they came out and threw rocks we'd shoot them. So that's why they send the kids out." Sgt Meadows said: "Can you imagine being a soldier and being told 'you're fighting a war, then when you finish you can go home'.
"You go and fight that war, and you win decisively, but now you have to stay and stabilise the situation. We are having to go from a full warfighting mindset to a peacekeeping mindset overnight. Right after shooting at people who were trying to kill you, you now have to help them."
The anger towards their own senior officers is obvious. Cpl Richardson said: "We weren't trained for this stuff now. It makes you resentful they're holding us on here. It pisses everyone off, we were told once the war was over we'd leave when our replacements get here. Well, our replacements got here and we're still here."
Specialist Castillo said: "We're more angry at the generals who are making these decisions and who never hit the ground, and who don't get shot at or have to look at the bloody bodies and the burnt-out bodies, and the dead babies and all that kinda stuff." Sgt Quinones added: "Most of these soldiers are in their early twenties and late teens. They've seen, in less than a month, more than any man should see in a whole lifetime. It's time for us to go home."
On whether the war was one worth fighting, Sgt Meadows said: "I don't care about Iraq one way or the other. I couldn't care less. [Saddam] could still be in power and, to me, it wasn't worth leaving my family for; for getting shot at and almost dying two or three times, there's nothing worth that to me." Even though no Iraqis were involved, and there is no proof Saddam was behind it, the attack on the World Trade Center provides Cpl Richardson and many others with the justification for invading Iraq.
"There's a picture of the World Trade Center hanging up by my bed and I keep one in my Kevlar [flak jacket]. Every time I feel sorry for these people I look at that. I think, 'They hit us at home and, now, it's our turn.' I don't want to say payback but, you know, it's pretty much payback."
Burned Iraqi Children Turned Away
Mon Jun 23, 2003
By DONNA ABU-NASR, Associated Press Writer
"I have never seen in almost 14 years of Army experience anything that callous," said Borell, who recounted the June 13 incident to The Associated Press. "What would it have cost us to treat these children? A few dollars perhaps. Some investment of time and resources," said Borell, 30, of Toledo, Ohio.
"I cannot imagine the heartlessness required to look into the eyes of a child in horrid pain and suffering and, with medical resources only a brief trip up the road, ignore their plight as though they are insignificant," he added.
What struck Borell was the children's silence. "They did not utter a single sound," he said. Borell radioed his superiors, who contacted the base hospital. Two Army doctors, both of them majors, responded. One of them, according to Borell, "looked at (Haidar) ... didn't examine him, didn't ask him questions." "(He) never looked at the girls," said Borell.
"Through the interpreter, one of the doctors told the father that we didn't have any medicine here ... and were not able to provide them care," said Borell. "And he also expounded on the fact that they needed long-term care." Borell said the combat hospital was fully stocked.
"Right before they left, I looked at the one doctor, asked him if he could at least give them comfort care," said Borell. "He told me they were not here to be the treatment center for Iraq."
"He didn't show any compassion," the sergeant added.
"Our goal is for the Iraqis to use their own existing infrastructure and become self-sufficient, not dependent on U.S. forces for medical care," Accetta said in an e-mail to AP.
Death on the road to Basra
By Tristana Moore
BBC correspondent in Basra
Saturday, 28 June, 2003
The girl is still crying - her name is Sabrina, she is 13 years old. She is barefoot and wears a ragged dress. She has dark eyes and long, brown hair.
She tells me how she saw her 11-year-old brother, Muhannad, had run up to an American military convoy trying to sell something to the soldiers, but was run over as he crossed the road.
The Americans did not stop.
"Look, this is going to get tense," I overhear an American soldier telling one of his colleagues. "We have to get the body out of here."
The US soldiers look nervous. They are wearing full body armour and carry rifles ready for action.
"We can't take any chances," one soldier tells me, sweating profusely.
Missing US soldiers found dead
Saturday, 28 June, 2003
The bodies of the two men, Gladimir Philippe and Kevin Ott, were found 32 kilometres (20 miles) north of Baghdad.
A senior military official told reporters: "The first clear message that we have to take out of here is that this war is not over. I think that is pretty clear to all of us".
Why are we still here?
Patrick J. Buchanan
June 30, 2003
"What are we getting into here?" asked the sergeant from the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division, stationed north of Baghdad. "The war is supposed to be over, but every day we hear of another soldier getting killed. Is it worth it? Saddam isn't in power anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?"
The questions that sergeant put to a Washington Post reporter are ones our commander in chief had better begin to address.
U.S. Finds War in Iraq Is Far From Finished
Guerrilla-style attacks are growing. A military official vows to stay the course in quelling resistance and rebuilding the nation.
By Alissa J. Rubin
Times Staff Writer
June 29, 2003
"The first clear message is: This war is not over. It's not ended," a senior military official in Iraq said Saturday. "All of us in uniform are targets, we're subject to being engaged."
The official said that the Americans would not give up until they had vanquished the resisters, but he added that the war would not be over until every Iraqi was working actively with the Americans to defeat what he called "the enemies of Iraq."
"Clearly, they are emboldened by success," said a senior military official in Washington. "You have to go in and tell them: 'We're gonna do what we did in Germany and Japan. We're gonna write your constitution. We're gonna install your government. We're gonna write your laws. We're gonna watch your every move for a decade, and then maybe you'll get a chance to do it yourself.' "
Between War and Peace, U.S. Soldiers Feel Strain
By Patrick J. McDonnell
Times Staff Writer
Sunday 29 June 2003
"This kind of war is a lot scarier for me," said Sgt. Douglas White, a reed-thin 21-year-old from Denver who was guiding a patrol along the lush Euphrates River here, northwest of Baghdad. "You see 9-year-old kids with guns.
"If someone comes up to you on a battlefield, you just light them up. You can't do that here."
"During the war, we didn't let anyone get too close to us," said Lt. Jay Mechtly, a 23-year-old West Point graduate now based in Fallouja, the Sunni Muslim-dominated town 35 miles west of Baghdad where U.S. soldiers have been repeatedly attacked. "Now anyone can come up to us with a handgun and start shooting."
"This duty is absolutely ridiculous," said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Edwards, a 42-year-old from Brooklyn who was on night patrol in the rural area between Baghdad and Fallouja. "We are combat troops. We are trained in combat. We are not trained in peacekeeping. We should all be home by now It's like we won the Super Bowl but we have to keep on playing."
"We fought and fought to survive, and we thought we were going home," LeGrant said as he guided his Humvee through a warren of rural alleys and along stands of palm and brush — ideal ambush sites, he noted. "You're not really fighting an enemy anymore. You're more or less fighting terrorism We thought we would go home as heroes after taking Baghdad. Now look at us."
Paras' show of force brings new Shia threat of bloodshed
By David Blair in Majar-al-Kabir
The head of the United States administration in Iraq, Paul Bremer, has warned that the coalition could expect to suffer further casualties in its attempts to make Iraq safe.
Speaking on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme, he said: "They are still fighting us and we are going to fight them and impose our will on them and we will capture or, if necessary, kill them until we have imposed law and order.
"Unfortunately we will continue to take casualties - such as the tragic attack against the British forces - but there is no strategic threat to the coalition."
Rebels turn crash into arson attack
By Stephen Farrell, July 02, 2003
Saad Abed, 30, a labourer, said: "I saw drivers run over with petrol cans and pour them on the Humvee. The soldiers couldn’t see them because of the crowd. If you want to be brave and resist the occupation you should fight them face to face, not kick them in the back."
CopyrightNews media quoted in in excerpts 2003. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .