Saturday, April 05, 2003

Latest Blogs From BBC Journalists

The Updated Butcher's Bill
The death toll has spiked suddenly due to the inclusion in it now of the rest of PFC Lynch's ill-fated squad from the 507th Maintainence Company. It now stands at 102.

Requiescat in pace.

Medina Division HQ Taken
The Third Infantry overran the headquarters of the Medina Division. I think that division can now be removed from the enemy's Order of Battle.

There Was A Report of Another Human Bomb Attack
This time at the airport. But no details are available yet.

US Troops Enter Baghdad
It appears that elements of the 3rd Infantry Divison have executed a reconnaissance-in-force to the Tigris, near Baghdad University, and returned. No word on losses. They reported tough, but sporadic resistance. This map shows the route out. Essentially, they followed the Airport Road in. Not sure if they came back the same way.

These movements are designed to obtain information on Iraqi defenses, and to demonstrate that we can go wherever we want in Baghdad, and the Iraqis really can't stop us. We demoralize the enemy, and at the same time gather information.

Friday, April 04, 2003

A Third Infantry Soldier Killed In Traffic Accident
He was driving Atlantic Monthly Editor Michael Kelly, who also died in the accident.
Requiescat in pace.

Iraq Threatens Large-Scale Guerilla Counterattack

Elements of the 101st Are Moving Into the Airport
Light infantry like the 101st, are ideal for the nature of the fighting to come.

The Updated Butcher's Bill

Latest Blogs By BBC Journalists
What I take from several of the posts is that law and order is breaking down as the Ba'ath party collapses. Part of what has happened to the Iraqi army is that it has turned into roving armed bands of marauding brigands, not interested in fighting, but in taking what they want at gunpoint. It is like Germany during the later stages of the Thirty Years' War.

Victor Davis Hanson Says We Can Expect To See A Remarkable Diplomatic Transformation After the Fighting Is Over
Hanson is always worth reading.

John Keegan Asks, "Where Did All the Iraqi Soldiers Go?"
I don't share Keegan's optimism entirely. The Iraqi army in the north is intact, and that is now a regular army operation since the Republican Guard units there fell back on Baghdad.

I think there are a lot of Iraqi soldiers who have yet to be encountered. We are trying to get to our objectives without confronting Iraqi main forces as much as possible. Baghdad and Basra probably contain a fair number of regular army.

Yes, there have been desertions. But many have been rounded up and sent back to the battle as Fedayeen under threat of harm to their families. There have been numerous reports of what appear to be civilians taking off robes to reveal uniforms underneath. It may well be that a substantial portion of the Iraqi army has been employed as guerilla fighters. It has struck me that we are encountering far too many guerillas along the line of supply to attribute them all as Ba'ath Party apparatchiks and Tikrit tribesmen, or even Special Republican Guardsmen. This must be where the Iraqi army went.

And, as described in the article carried by the Washington Times below, we are killing an awful lot of them. The enemies we have encountered so far just lack the training and equipment to make strategically significant counterattacks.

Enemy Dispositions
Elements of the Medina Divison of the Republican Guard are holding inside Karbala itself. Other elements of the same divison have apparently fallen back towards Baghdad. Elements of the Nebuchanezzer Division have re-inforced the Medinas.

Remnants of the Baghdad Division continue to resist around Kut. I heard a comment from an Air Force officer yesterday in which he opined that it would be better for the survivors of the Baghdad Division to just give up, since we are being forced to slaughter them in place. As Sargeant Simon, who was quoted in the article carried by the Washington Times, said, it is a sickening job slaughtering these forces that are hopelessly holding out.

The Al Nida Division seems to be between these two units.

There appear to be Fedayeen with all of these units, and with Special Republican Guard units in Baghdad itself.

The Hammurabi and Adnan Divisions may be present on the battlefield in detachment strength. They appear to be trying to reinforce their comrades south of the city.

The 3rd ID elements have 75% of Baghdad International Airport under control. The reporters with them say there has been no significant counterattack to take back the airport, just harassment from Fedayeen.

A counterattack on the airport is inevitable, unless the enemy is just going to give it up and concede this strategic foothold to our forces.

A Chemical Weapons Training Facility May Have Been Captured South of Baghdad
Boxes of a white powder have been discovered, along with chemical warfare manuals and antidotes.

Another Suicide Bombing
A pregnant woman appears to have been the decoy. How sickening. The briefing officer in Qatar does not have full details yet. There are reports of US casualties from this.

Update: This happened in western Iraq, not too far from the Syrian border. Syria has been forwarding volunteers to act as terrorists in Iraq. Three Allied soldiers were killed. The driver of the car which exploded was killed, as was a pregnant woman who got out of the car just before it exploded.

Our Forces Have Overcome Some Desperate Resistance
Pretty bloody fighting on the outskirts of Baghdad. No US fatalities.

Marines Take 2,500 Prisoners
The Marines approaching Baghdad from the southeast took about 2,500 young men prisoner. I assume that they are all former Iraqi soldiers. The Marines are said to be operating in their MOPP suits currently.

Oddly, the total number of POWs we are holding stays at around 5,000. We must be disarming and letting a lot go home. That may not be wise, given the availablity of weapons to the regime, and its ruthlessness in forcing people back into the fight. I know we have a small force without the resources to hold hundreds of thousands of prisoners. However, it is still better to hold all the fit men of miltary age we capture, lest they be given a new AK-47 and forced to return to the attack as Fedayeen.

Update: The 2,500 Iraqis who surrendered seem to have been Republican Guards, many of them members of the Baghdad Division which the Marines have been dealing with.

Sad News
Nine of the eleven bodies found at the hospital where PFC Lynch was rescued are believed to be American POWs. Requiescat in pace.

3rd ID Tightens Control of Airport
It is a big job just to check the place for booby traps and unexploded munitions. Republican Guard and Fedayeen units may counterattack. It is now being called Baghdad International Airport.

Winter Just Won't Go Away
We had a nice two weeks from mid-March to the end of March. But this week, it has mostly been around 40 and quite raw. This morning we woke up to a thin coating of ice and snow. Just when you thought it was safe to put away the boots and gloves and take the lining out of your field coat...

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Interesting, If Accurate
There are now reports that US forces at Saddam International Airport have discovered a tunnel system that extends to the Tigris.

I wonder if it is associated with the "Airport Road" that extends into downtown Baghdad near the banks of the Tigris opposite Baghdad University.

If we know where the tunnel goes, that means we have sent some units into it to explore. That means they were in the center of Baghdad, however briefly. And that just a few days after Peter Arnett told the Iraqis that the US plan has failed. Arnett's handlers may want to keep his belt, shoelaces, razors, and scissors away from him.

Brits have Captured Chemical Ali's Headquarters

"Where Do They Get Young Men Like This?"
Rush Limbaugh read this item, which was posted at Free Republic.com:

Martin Savidge of CNN, embedded with the 1st Marine battalion, was talking with 4 young Marines near his foxhole this morning live on CNN. He had been telling the story of how well the Marines had been looking out for and taking care of him since the war started. He went on to tell about the many hardships the Marines had endured since the war began and how they all look after one another.

He turned to the four and said he had cleared it with their commanders and they could use his video phone to call home. The 19 year old Marine next to him asked Martin if he would allow his platoon sergeant to use his call to call his pregnant wife back home whom he had not been able to talk to in three months. A stunned Savidge who was visibly moved by the request shook his head and the young Marine ran off to get the sergeant.

Savidge recovered after a few seconds and turned back to the three young Marines still sitting with him and asked which one of them would like to call home first, the Marine closest to him responded with out a moments hesitation “ Sir, if is all the same to you we would like to call the parents of a buddy of ours, Lance Cpl Brian Buesing of Cedar Key, Florida who was killed on 3-23-03 near Nasiriya to see how they are doing”.

At that Martin Savidge totally broke down and was unable to speak. All he could get out before signing off was “Where do they get young men like this?”.

Those Journalists Who Went Missing And Turned Up Again
They were imprisoned by the Iraqis, but were let go a few days ago. One of them described hearing other prisoners being tortured within the last week. Even in its death-throes, the Iraqi regime is still concerned with torturing Iraqis.

There Is a Flood Of Deserters and Refugees Fleeing Baghdad
The Marines have had to halt their advance and set up temporary camps to deal with the deserters flooding their way.

Elements of the 3rd ID Are Sitting On the Tarmac of Saddam International Airport
Apparently, the Iraqis did not even bother to crater the runways, a simple precaution always taken by professional armies when they have to abandon an airfield, to deny its use, at least temporarily, to the enemy. We seem to have taken the airport intact.

This is coming from an embedded ABC Radio reporter with the troops at the airport. The buildings are being swept. Little resistance has been encountered. Taking the airport is very important, but we will not be able to make much use of it, since it is well within range of SAMs and AAA in Baghdad itself. Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment is one of the units securing the civilian side. This airport is a large one about 30 square kilometers. Check it out on this map.

There is major road leading right into downtown Baghdad that originates at the airport. This kind of inexplicable lack of defense of a vitally important installation tells me that, if the thing be pushed...

Iraqi Information Ministry Serves Mordor
Neighbor Domenico Bettinelli has come up with another excellent Middle Earth parody.

CentCom Says We Did Not Cut The Electric Supply for Baghdad

Wow, I Got The Cuban Thing Right
Yesterday, I took a leap in the dark and put two news stories regarding Cuba together. Castro had recently visited China, and was dismayed at the decline of communist norms in that country. There has been a spate of hijackings of Cuban modes of transportation, by people trying to get to the US. Add to that the fact that Castro is not getting any younger and is determined that communism in Cuba will live past his tenure in office.

Well, the AP wire is confirming that a crack-down on dissidents is underway in Cuba. This is the first evidence of this that I have read:

Cuba pressed forward with its harshest crackdown on dissent in years, holding the first trials Thursday for dissidents rounded up across the island and reportedly seeking life sentences for at least 12 of them.

At least 80 dissidents have been arrested since March 18, accused of working with U.S. diplomats to subvert Fidel Castro's government and of being mercenaries in the pay of Washington.


Trials also were beginning Thursday for dissidents from other parts of the country, ranging from the westernmost province of Pinar del Rio to Santiago in the far east.

''This is not a trial,'' said Maria de los Angeles Menendez, a supporter of the dissidents standing outside one of the three Havana courthouses where hearings were held Thursday. ''They are going to put on a show. The sentences are already decided.''

I also stand by the conclusion I reached in yesterday's blog. After the war with Iraq is over, we are going to have to pay a lot of attentio to Cuba, lest it turn into another Cambodia. Communist tyrants are sometimes at their bloodiest just before they die.

The Night the Lights Went Out In Baghdad

We Need Regime Change In the US
Specifically in the Massachusetts congressional delegation, and most specifically in our representation in the US Senate.

Allied Troops Are Making the Best Of Current Weather Conditions
In the next few days, temps will hit the blisteringly uncomfortable area (100 degrees), and there are more sandstorms coming.

The Objective For the Moment: Saddam International Airport
We now need to switch to the tactical maps of the city of Baghdad, and the Baghdad region. This is a detailed map that takes a few minutes to load, at least the first time you go to it.

US Special Forces have been searching a palace in the Baghdad area. I am guessing that it is the Radwaniyah Palace Complex, southwest of the airport. It is on the axis of advance of the V Corps.

Latest Blogs From BBC Journalists

PFC Lynch Went Down Shooting
She did not want to be taken alive, and probably for good reason, given what happened to a female POW in 1991. She may have shot two Iraqis before being overwhelmed. She ran out of ammo.

That Hornet That Went Down
May have been shot down by one of our own missiles.

Stepping Away From the War For a Minute
Rod Dreher, who is leaving National Review today (and we wish him well in his new job) blogged a link to an article in The Corner yesterday. The article, from the Mobile Register talks about a "marriage" between a 14 year-old boy and a 42 year-old woman. At first, I was inclined to dismiss it as, well, the sort of thing that goes on among a certain class of people in a certain part of the country.

But I found myself reflecting further on what this says about some people's concept of marriage. And it is an attitude that both percolates up from the bottom, and descends from the top of the class system, invading the middle class.

What we have here seems pretty straightforward. The teenager has a crush on the divorced mother of his friend. Many teenage boys have one or more crushes like this. This one is fairly strong and seems to be focused on this particular older woman, rather than roving toward any and every attractive older woman, perhaps because he spends much time in her presence. He tells her. It appears from the article that she doesn't have too tight a grip on adulthood herself. She is willing to oblige. But she does not want to be arrested for statutory rape. They take the issue to his parents. This is where it gets odd. The parents agree.

What was going on in the parents' heads? Your 14 year-old son wants, basically, to have a long-term affair with someone your own age or older. My guess is that their reasoning went like this: we know her, she will not harm him, she is probably old enough that pregnancy is not a huge risk (maybe she has had her tubes tied), since he is going to become sexually experienced anyway, why not start out with someone fond of him who is more experienced, by agreeing to the marriage, we are just shielding her from legal liability, they are fond of each other, and if it doesn't work out, there is always divorce. In fact, one of the parents made the last of these factors explicit in the article.

They say the boy is mature for his age. But no 14 year-old is mature enough to make a decision of a mate for life.

But notice what is missing. Nobody stops to ask, "Is this morally right?" Essentially the marriage is entered into with the full knowledge that it is likely to end fairly soon in divorce. So the marriage is essentially designed to provide short-term sexual experience for the son. It is a disposable marriage. The boy will probably outgrow his "bride's" limited maturity in a few years. By the time he is old enough to go to college, if not sooner, he will be thinking that it might be better to be with someone roughly his own age. So that will be that.

If the boy had been a couple of years older, past the age of consent, there would be no marriage at all. If both parties were still inclined, they would be legally free to do what they please. But because the boy is under the age of consent, they have to go through the form of a legal marriage. The kid, and all those who know about the situation draw the conclusion that marriage is for the purpose of short-term gratification. When it stops "working for you," you just dissolve it. Lessons like that create a pattern for future behaviour. Divorce becomes, even more than it already is, the escape hatch you exit through, the magic wand you wave, the raspberry you blow when you don't like the way things are working out. And you get more of it. And the institution of marriage takes another hit.

Would that easy divorce had never come into Western society. Absent physical brutality, it is better to have to live with the consequences of important decisions, so that those decisions will not be made in haste.

The Updated Butcher's Bill
78 dead confirmed, though that does not count the losses in the Black Hawk crash last night. We also lost an F/A-18 to a SAM near Karbala. No word on the crew.

Requiescat in pace.

Republican Guard Runs Away
Most of the Republican Guard units stationed to the south of Baghdad got away from the battle, and have probably fled back into Baghdad. They will be without most of their heavy weapons. But they will still have personal weapons. One can assume that they will be re-assembled within the city, and reorganized. They can take their places alongside regular army, Special Republican Guard, and Fedayeen units within the city.

Central Command says it is not planning to take the city by coup de main. They also don't expect it to be like Paris in 1944. I think what is shaping up will seem like another pause, a phased offensive against the defenders. The city will be isolated (and reinforcements may be needed to create a tight cordon around the city). Air power will be utilized. Obvious weak points in the outer defenses will be exploited. Psychological operations will be intense. Special Forces in the city will draw the defenders' reserve from one place within the city to another, wearing them down. Then we will selectively reduce the defenses block by block. If it comes to that, it will take some weeks, and cost a large number of lives.

But what of the regime? Despite the presence of Allied special forces within the city, the roads to the north are still open. I would not be surprised if Saddam and key loyalists have already fled the city. This war may see its final acts played out not in Baghdad, but in and near Tikrit, Saddam's fiercely loyal tribal area.

Forward Allied Elements Now 6 Miles From Baghdad
And Allied special forces are within the city.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Those Disappearing Comments
Once again, Haloscan has wiped out my comments and those of other Haloscan users. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Another Reason I Like the Embedded Journalists
Since Vietnam, the American media have had considerable skepticism, not always unjustified, in the "party line" fed to them by military briefers.

But in this war, with journalists embedded with frontline troops and reporting within reasonable guidelines, those who tend to doubt the word of the military and political leadership of the United States only have to turn to the accounts of their embedded collegues. If you think the leadership is trying to con the press and the public, and sugar coat things, just ask an embedded reporter with a unit near the scene.

It creates a healthier atmosphere of trust between the press and the military. And the public is beter served by up-to-the-minute details of military operations. One has to take one's hat off to the embedded journalists. The ones I have heard have been uniformly fair to the Allied forces (unlike Peter Arnett ensconced in the Baghdad Hilton and lapping up the propaganda of the Iraqi regime). They have also been putting their lives on the line and sharing some of the risks with the soldiers on the front line.

For Your "Religion of Peace" File

Duke of Wellington's Regiment Finds Large Cache of Weapons in Southern Iraq
The agent who found the hiding place for the cache was, according to Paul Harvey, an English Springer Spaniel named Buster. And the Duke of Wellington's Regiment is the old 33rd Regiment of Foot, which served in both the American Revolution (its regimental colonel than was Lord Cornwallis) and in India and at Waterloo, when Wellington himself was its colonel proprietor. High fives are no doubt going around in the 33rd out in Los Angeles, an excellent re-enactment unit with strong ties to the Duke of Wellington's Regiment.

What Is Up With Cuban Hijackings?
In the last week, we have seen two Cuban aircraft hijacked to the US. Today, a ferry has been hijacked. What is going on?

This is just my uninformed guess.

Recently, Castro visited China, and made known his dismay and displeasure at the virtual disappearance of Communist norms in Chinese society, government, and economy. China is quietly transforming itself from Maoist dictatorship to authoritarian dictatorship. Marxist idealogy is being left behind, to be replaced by nationalist considerations, and economic prosperity.

Seeing this, Castro has decided to make sure that he leaves behind a communist Cuba that will withstand economic and social pressure to trash his legacy. People can smell a crack-down coming. Those with the means are trying to get out before Castro transforms himself from aging Brezhenev to Pol Pot. They remember that some of Mao's and Stalin's most viciously murderous periods were in their dotage. Since Castro already has tens of thousands of murders on his conscience, they figure he will not scruple at a few thousand more to safeguard his legacy.

Look for Cuban issues to come into greater prominence after the war with Iraq is over. And if you think the Vatican has been recalcitrant over the war with Iraq, wait until we have to liberate Cuba, which was pretty much uniformly Catholic before Castro started to persecute the Church.

They Deserve To Do Time
But I doubt that will ever happen.

Gee, What Does Cardinal Mahony Have To Hide?
I seem to remember that, last year about this time, he was urging Cardinal Law to step aside for not being forthcoming about pervert priests.

Sauce for the goose, Your Eminence.

The Media Culture Is Really Dysfunctional
I'm listening to a press conference with Private Lynch's parents. The first three questions were variations on "How do you feel?" I think at times like this, one can presume that they are elated, but still anxious until they have more information. Why does the press concentrate so much on "how do you feel?" Why do they persist in sticking microphones in the faces of profoundly inarticulate people and expect them to perform like trained actors or politicians? Actually, the parents are handling themselves very well. It is the press I am ashamed of. Can't they leave these poor people alone, and let them celebrate and thank God in private?

Am I just a heartless bastard because I don't really care how they "feel," but am more interested in what they think?

Military Lessons Learned So Far
The number one lesson is that the Iraqis are not the Wehrmacht, nor the Republican Guard the Waffen SS. Their fighting capacity is significantly less than we expected. Part of it is just that the Iraqis are not that good. Part of it is that we are.

But we are getting away with things that, against another enemy like North Korea or China (or both) we could not get away with. We rely too much on air power. When close air support is not fully available, our forces are at their most vulnerable. If we dominate the air and can make full use of that supremacy, we are fine, unbeatable, in fact. But against an enemy with significant air forces that would persist in challenging us, and un-degraded air defences with more capability than the Iraqis have, we might well face heavy losses (hundreds per day, which would be hard to justify, even if we were inflicting thousands of losses per day on the enemy).

And the overriding lesson of the 20th century is further reinforced. You can bomb an enemy silly, but unless well-armed guys on the ground go and occupy the enemy's home turf, he will be able to continue to resist. Air power is great. If used properly, it can set the conditions for victory. But by itself, it does not win a war. It did not conquer Germany. It did not cow North Korea or North Vietnam. It did not eject Iraq from Kuwait. It is not bringing down Saddam's regime. Guys on the ground taking the war to the enemy and taking ground from him do that.

San Bernadino Diocese Suing Archdiocese of Boston For Concealing Shanley History
I can't say that they don't deserve it. Shanley went with the blessing of Cardinal Law. He was recommended by Law, despite the fact that Law knew his history of support for NAMBLA and his own history of abuse of young boys. In San Bernadino, Shanley victimized more boys. San Bernadino is being sued by his victims there. San Bernadino thinks Boston should contribute to the victim's compensation. The Archdiocese of Boston used San Bernadino to get rid of a problem priest, just like it used the military chaplaincy, and the missions. Now it is time to pay the piper for not defrocking Shanley when the first signs of trouble emerged, back in the 1960s.

Why We Fight, Part CCXVI
From embedded BBC journalist Clive Myrie:

Abu al Khasib 1315GMT

I've been to a police station in this town in southern Iraq where Saddam Hussein's dreaded internal security police were based. Royal Marines from Alpha Company 40 Commando went inside the station, looking for clues about local militia groups.

Weapons are found, also maps and documents. And downstairs, there were cells. One was barely 4 x 8 feet with no windows and a filthy pillow and mattress. In other rooms hooks hung from the ceiling.

One room was bare but for two old tyres and an electricity cable. We were later told a torturer might use the tyres to stand on while water is poured on the floor and the prisoner electrocuted.

We later found one man, who did not want to be identified, who gave up some of the secrets of the police station.

He said there was a tariff system, if you committed a crime, but paid enough money you wouldn't be tortured. For stealing about £1000 for murder almost twice that. He said prisoners were blindfolded, tied up, hung from the hookls in the ceiling and beaten.

Just after we left the police station some Iraqis looted the building. It was a place many feared until now.

We Have Now Crossed Into the "Red Zone"

Let Me Clarify An Earlier Blog
I said down below that the V Corps is engaged at Karbala and Kut. The Marines have taken a bridge over the Tigris near Kut. They are trying to secure it, in the teeth of enemy counterattacks. The 3rd Division is encircling elements of the Medina Division and Fedayeen at Karbala. They are through the Karbala Gap, the few miles space between the town of Karbala and the Buhayrat ar Razazah lake. You can follow operations on this map. Enemy counterattacks here have been fairly ineffective, but could be stepped up after they recover their equilibrium. Elements of the Nebuchanezzer Division have been identified alongside the Medina Division.

Central Command reports that the Baghdad Division of the RG is now "combat ineffective." That does not mean that it is wiped out, never to rise again. It does mean that is it not able to function as a division currently through a combination of losses and lost cohesion and communications. Individual units of the Baghdad Division could carry on by themselves. In fact, an embedded ABC reporter just described the action in which the bridge over the Tigris was taken. There was battalion-level resistance from elements of the Baghdad Division, which was brushed aside with no US casualties.

This operation, which continues in order to widen the corridor and shunt Iraqi units out of artillery range of the bridge, opens up the one highway that leads to Baghdad on the east bank of the Tigris, or at least it gives us a blocking position across it. Just blocking that highway is important because it is also the main route south to Nasiriyah and Basra from Baghdad. It will make it more difficult for the regime to funnel more forces to these places to stiffen resistance.

Taken together, these are necessary first steps in the encirclement of the Republican Guard units south of Baghdad, or of Baghdad itself, depending on how widely we cast the net. Of course, if the net is cast wide around Baghdad, it gives the remnants of these Republican guard units the opportunity to limp back into Baghdad to continue to resist within the city. A shorter encirclement aimed at trapping the Republican Guard outside Baghdad risks a flanking attack from Baghdad itself.

You can say that this is the first serious step in the Battle of Baghdad. Our forward recon elements are said to be within 20 miles of Baghdad.

French Peace Maggots Deface British WWI Graves
The cemetery at Etaples contains the bodies of some 11,000 British soldiers, many killed at the Somme and Ypres. These were comrades of my own grandfather and great uncle, who served with the Connaught Rangers in these battles.

Among the swastikas and slogans scrawled on the memorials:

“Rosbeefs go home”

“Saddam Hussein will win and spill your blood.”

“Dig up your rubbish. It’s fouling our soil.”

As if anything were capable of fouling the soil of France. If the entire world's accumulated piss and puke for the last 50 years was dumped onto the soil of France, it would only be an improvement.

Sox Won 9-8 In 16 Innings
If they are having this much trouble with the doormat Devil Dogs, it is going to be a long season.

Latest Blogs by BBC Journalists
The most recent one, from John Simpson in Northern Iraq is very interesting. It describes the capture of a town by the Kurds, and the discovery of orders to the chemical weapons officer of the defending Iraqi unit. Scrolling down, Gavin Hewitt describes the attack on the Medina Division.

The Updated Butcher's Bill
From CNN
The total Allied deaths are 73, though less than 50 died as a direct result of enemy action. A disproportionate number died in accidents, especially helicopter crashes, and especially among the British.

Requiescat in pace.

Why I Call Them Peace Maggots, Part XLIV
I heard on WBZ radio yesterday an account of a family with a son in the Army in Iraq, who received a phone call from someone claiming to be from the Department of the Army informing them that their son had been killed in action. They were singled out by anti-war types for this lovely bit of attention because their photo and name appeared in the local paper after they had attended a Support-the-troops rally near their hometown. It was several anxious hours before they could confirm that their son had, in fact, not been KIA. The Army arranged a phone call from him to reassure them.


I've heard of Vietnam-era peace maggots pulling similar hoaxes on neighbors who dared to have sons in the armed forces.

Heavy fighting at Karbala & Kut
The 3rd Infantry is taking on elements of the Medina Division of the Republican Guard around Karbala, while the Marines are attacking the Baghdad Division of the RG in and around the town of Kut, on the banks of the Tigris. Both RG divisions have been pounded by airstrikes fairly relentlessly for the last week. Two more RG divisions, the Adnan and Nebuchanezzer are moving towards Baghdad from the north to reinforce the city's defenders.

Meanwhile, further to the south, the Marines had to take out a number of Fedayeen at Dinwaniyah (100 miles southeast of Baghdad). They report 80-90 killed and 44 taken prisoner.

The British are exchanging fire with loyalists in Basra, and have begun easing conditions in Umm Qesr. Their troops are winning hearts and minds by switiching from helmets to berets and taking other confidence-building steps.

Re-inforcements have started to arrive in the theater. Five hundred personnel of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment have been airlifted into Kuwait, and are probably going to start line-of-communications work with whatever light equipment they can scrape up (their own equipment is weeks behind them in the pipeline). This is just a guess, but they could not have arrived in the theater with much more than personal weapons and maybe some mortars and shoulder-fired anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. Their tanks, APCs, helicopters, artillery, MLRS, and trucks will take weeks to get to them.

Elements of the 4th Infantry Division have also arrived, but unloading their ships will be a slow process due to lack of dock space in Kuwait. It takes 18 hours (at least) to offload a ship. There are 30 ships with the 4th's equipment. There are, I heard, 5 docks available that can handle this kind of shipping. The 4th's personnel is trickling in by air from the US. Since the US is not impressing civilian jetliners of trans-continental range, we have to rely on military airlift and such civilian aircraft as we can obtain by contract, which is very limited. It will be more than a week (unless we are being fed disinformation) before the 4th Infantry Division, as such, is ready for action. A brigade from the 4th could probably be ready for an emergency in a few days.

The POW Rescued Was PFC Jessica Lynch
Fox News is reporting that there were 11 bodies found with her. She is as well as can be reasonably expected. We don't know yet if any of the bodies found with her were Americans. They were not killed during the rescue.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

US POW Rescued From Iraqi Captors

Back To Real News
Bishop Lennon did the right thing, and refused the offered contribution from Voice of the Faithful. He also ordered Catholic charities not to accept it. but that is a more involved proces, since "Catholic" Charities has a board that is mostly independent of the Archdiocese, and is likely to buck the Archdiocese for the buck.

This may seem like an April Fools' joke but it is not. The Red Sox went into the 9th inning of their opener with a 4-1 lead. We were dining out with my wife's brother and half-way following the game on the TV in the bar. At the start of the inning, he said the Sox could not lose this one. I said don't be too sure. They lost 6-4.

It is snowing in Boston, but lightly and not sticking.

And Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has used the "unconditional surrender" formulation. This is good. President Bush now needs to make the same statement, as does Secretary of State Powell. Annan is making disturbing noises about a cease-fire. That is not acceptable. We will negotiate over the dead body of Saddam's regime. That will be our peace table.

CNN has the updated butcher's bill. I put this up every day because these brave souls need to be remembered, and prayed for.

Bill Clinton In New Sex Scandal
According to published reports, Bill Clinton, when President, allegedly attempted to grope a uniformed female military aide aboard Air Force One. Oh, wait. That really happened. Never mind.

Alec Baldwin Moves To France
Saying he is fed up with the racist, warmongering United States, actor Alec Baldwin has made good on his 2000 promise to move to France. "I think France will be a good fit for me. It is a country with real backbone, the type of determination I admire," said the forty-something actor and liberal activist. "There is plenty of good land available here. I'm sending brochures to Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Martin Sheen, Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Lange, Ed Asner, Mike Farrell, Alan Alda, Ben Affleck, Sheryl Crowe, Michael Moore, Spike Lee, Tracy Chapman, Ed Harris, and a few other friends. Maybe we can start a wine-growing commune here. And here in the south of France, it is a very convenient trip for the drug runners from Marseilles. That would be so cool."

Hans Blix Announces Career Change
Chief UN weapons inspector Dr. Hans Blix, who previously announced that he would retire when his current term ends in June announced today that he will be making a career change. Starting in July, just before Bastille Day, he will become a spokesman for French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villipen. "This is a career shift I have long desired. It has been something of a hobby of mine for some time. I shall strive to give the job my all," Blix told assembled reporters in New York yesterday.

Yasir Arafat Blown Up By Suicide Bomber
In what appears to be a tragic accident, Yasir Arafat was killed while embracing a suicide bomber. Chairman Arafat apparently did not know, or had forgotten that the bomber was wired to explode on contact with anything. Arafat embraced him in a gesture of friendship, good will, and blessing, according to witnesses, and the whole room just exploded. Bits of Arafat no bigger than a few inches were found as far as two blocks away. "We have lost our dear chairman," said the newly appointed Palestinian Prime Minister. "He was a man of peace. A man of good will, who truly embodied the struggle of the Palestinian people. The Zionist hate-mongers are truly responsible for his martyrdom. He will be avenged."

Whitey Bulger Alive and Well and Living In Chelsea
The Boston FBI announced that it has incontrovertible evidence that fugitive Irish gangster and murderer James "Whitey" Bulger, brother of long-time Massachusetts Senate President, and current U-Mass President William Bulger has been living under an alias in Chelsea, a city no more than 6 miles from Bulger's South Boston haunts.

"We've had tips on Whitey from all over the world, but never thought he might be living as an Hispanic in Chelsea," said a Boston FBI source. According to recently released information, Whitey has been working as a bailiff in the Medford District Court, and living in nearby Chelsea under the name Julio Iglesias.

The FBI has sought Bulger for the last 8 years, and thought it had traced him to London, Moscow, and Kuala Lampur. He is the first non-al Qaeda figure on the FBI's ten-most-wanted list.

Russell Crowe Beats Up Michael Moore
Australian diamond-in-the-rough actor Russell Crowe is under arrest in London for allegedly assaulting and beating to a pulp renegade American Michael Moore for his disparaging comments about Crowe's performance in the soon-to-be-released Master & Commander. Moore had said that the portrayal of the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Wars was a typical bit of Anglo-Saxon warmongering and glorification of things military.

Crowe confronted Moore in a London bar after a few drinks, and according to witnesses, then started punching Moore. "Moore was pretty trashed. Crowe started belly punching him, but I don't think Moore noticed the first few. I don't think Russell hit anything solid. I heard him say after the fourth punch, 'This one is for the Australian SAS chaps, you sorry sack of traitorous sh-t!' Then Michael seemed to notice he was being punched. Russell then took him down to the floor, and started punching his face. When Moore got up, it looked as if his nose was broken and that he had the making of two pretty nasty black eyes."

Police took Crowe into custody and filed assault and battery charges against him. He may also face hate-crime charges for insulting Moore, who is said to be overweight. Moore was treated at a local hospital and released.

Neither had any comments for the public.

Police said alcohol was believed to be a factor in the incident.

John Kerry: Samoan
John Forbes Heinz Kerry, who upset Boston politics when he announced that he was not half-Irish as everyone had thought for the last 30 years, made further revelations about his lineage, sure to have major implications for his run for the White House in 2004. He had announced that his grandfather was an Austrian Jew who changed his name to Kerry and married a Boston Forbes. Now he claims that his grandfather in fact emigrated from Samoa to Austria and converted to Judaism from Shinto Buddhism. His grandmother, it appears, was indeed a Boston Forbes, but was known before her marriage for travelling the world as a bearded lady in a circus act. In fact, that is how his grandparents met. Kerry's grandfather was working for the same circus as a chucker-out man.

Kerry denied that the revelations have anything to do with the new Democrat straw poll in American Samoa scheduled to take place two weeks before the Iowa Caucuses.

Hilary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Rosie O'Donnell In Threesome
New York Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton announced that she is currently living part-time with media personality Rosie O'Donnell at O'Donnell's California home. When asked how President Clinton viewed this, she said, "He sort of gets into it. He pays us a visit every few weeks. He says it is improving his sex life. The refreshing thing is that Rosie is so progressive. Bill and I can fully be ourselves with her."

Pope Names New Archbishop of Boston
In a move sure to have major implications for the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, and for the Archdiocese of Boston's 3 million Catholics, pope John Paul II this morning named Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, currently bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, as the new Archbishop of Boston, replacing Bernard Cardinal Law who resigned in disgrace last December following a year of allegations stemming from his handling of sexually abusive priests.

Bruskewitz is widely known in the United States as the most conservative and orthodox of American bishops. He made news last year by issuing a blanket excommunication of members of various groups, including the Masons, Planned Parenthood, Catholics for a Free Choice, and the Pius X Society, which refuses to accept the change to the Mass in the vernacular.

What Bruskewitz' appointment means to such a liberal archdiocese as Boston, where the Church has historically had a strong relationship with the dominant Democrat Party, labor unions, and the various institutions of higher learning, is unclear. Boston traditionally has a very high percentage of Catholics, but a much lower proportion of people whose butts actually rest on pews on Sunday morning or Saturday afternoon.

In an interview with L'Osservatore Romano today, Bruskewitz is quoted as saying, "I think we'll start with the Boston Priests' Forum, and Voice of the Faithful. Then we will get to work on the pro-abortion politicians. The theology professors are on the list, except for a few. Then we will move on to the usual suspects, freemasons, feminists, sedevacantists, etc. At the same time, I see huge need in the reform of Catholic education and CCD instruction. Many of the materials used there just have to be thrown out. Thank heavens there is a Baltimore Catechism updated for Vatican II. And I'll have to keep a close eye on the seminaries. We have to get the fairies out of there, especially out of the faculty and vocations offices."

Osama Bin Laden Found
In a stunning development, New York City Police last night captured a person believed to be Osama bin Laden. Acting on a tip, the police raided a Greenwich Village bar called "Disordered Affections" and took into custody someone who has been known in the New York transgendered community for the last year as Red Hot Fatima, or to some, Hot Bottom, a willowy 6'5" brunette. "We are 99% convinced that Red Hot Fatima is, in fact, Osama bin Laden," said a New York City Police spokesman. A comparison of photos of bin Laden with Red Hot Fatima makes it pretty apparent that, after some pretty bad cosmetic surgery, the fugitive terrorist transformed himself into a staple of the Village's homosexual and transgendered community.

Secretary of State Colin Powell declined to comment on the irony of this fanatic crusader against western decadence hiding in one of the most lurid human cesspools on earth.

But Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the implications for al Qaeda were evident. "Here you have this guy who says he hates everything we stand for, especially our decadent culture, hiding in the very heart of the west's decadence. This has got to have a pretty demoralizing effect on his people. I understand the police are currently investigating men who have dated Osama in the last year. This might prove pretty interesting."

Monday, March 31, 2003

Geraldo Rivera Out
This is not a good day for "big name" journalists covering the war. Fox's Geraldo Rivera has lost his embedded status, and is being escorted to the Kuwait border by members of the 101st Division after drawing a map in the sand that gave away details about the positions and operations of US troops.

Embeds Reporting Rapid Advance Along Highway Towards Baghdad
The journalist said he was with the US Marines. Heavy fighting at Al Hindiyah (you can find it on this map) yielded a couple of dozen prisoners from the Republican Guard. It is possible that some Marine units have found the way around the Medina Divison, or that the Medina Division is no longer holding a blocking position at Karbala. A little movement seems to have been re-injected into the offensive.

There are reports that the Republican Guard Division that was moved to Tikrit before the war started, is being pulled back to Baghdad. If so, it means Saddam is abandoning the Northern Front to its fate, and is staking absolutely everything on the defense of Baghdad. That makes Baghdad that much tougher to take. But we can also pummel that divison as it moves, day or night. Once we encircle Baghdad, the fate of Iraq is decided.

Peter Arnett Fired
Peter Arnett, reporting from Baghdad under contract with NBC and National Geographic has been fired by both, after granting an interview with Iraqi TV in which he said he thought the Allied plan had failed, obviously giving substantial aid and comfort to the enemy. Old-timers like me will remember Arnett's biased, pro-Iraqi reporting in the first Gulf War.

The only surprise is that the network and the National Geographic Society acted to sever their ties with Arnett. CNN refused to do that in the last war. This time, even the notoriously dim and liberal Matt Lauer asked Arnett this morning, "What were you thinking?"

There can be no question that Arnett crossed the line in making his own views the story. He made himself a tool of Iraq's propaganda machine. His objectivity as a reporter was completely thrown away. He was on NBC this morning issuing abject apologies. But his true reaction must be bemusement. After all, what he did this weekend was just a natural follow-on to his 1991 act.

We Are Currently Probing the Republican Guard Positions
And taking some prisoners. Classic infantry work.

Latest Blogs From BBC Journalists

The Updated Butcher's Bill
Requiescat in pace.

Ahhh, Baseball
The Red Sox season opens today in Tampa Bay. Even though the season opens in a domed stadium in Florida, instead of in the open air up here in Boston, baseball's long winter's absence finally ends. Once again, we will get to watch the Red Sox soar to the lead in the American League East early in the season, only to see them fade in the stretch. In that seasonal pattern, New Englanders find grim satisfaction. It has become the governing rhythm of our lives. It has been thus almost every year since the end of World War I.

Oh, there have been some mold-breaking seasons. For years the team was known as the Jersey Street Jesters, and were perpetual cellar-dwellers. But that was before I was born. In 1946, 1967, 1975, and 1986 the team got into the World Series (only to lose, of course). There have been other seasons (1972, 1977, 1978, and a few years in the late 80s or early 90s) when they gallantly challenged for the pennant, but lost. Now they fight for something called a "wild card", an unwanted import from the NFL, a little patch of ground that hath in it no honor but the name.

But mostly, the team teases New Englanders. They win a number of games early. They build momentum. Then they crash. Inevitably, they are ground down by the huge financial resources (though historically they have been no slouches in the greenback- tossing contests, either) of the ownership of the New York Yankees, who unfortunately share a division with Boston, and some lesser cities.

But the New Englander goes back, in his heart, to those halycon days B.F., Before Frazee. Then the Red Sox dominated the American League. They won World Series after World Series in the early days of the 20th century. Star pitcher Babe Ruth was the glittering gem of a Boston team that could be mistaken for an American League All Star team of its day. Then Harry Frazee, the owner of the team, needed money. He was staging a production on Broadway of No, No Nanette. He raised his funds by selling Babe Ruth and every other star player to the New York Yankees. That was the Rape of the Red Sox.

But for every Boston fan, he can go back to the days of glory. The last crowning moment of glory was the 1918 World Series. It is the winter of 1918-1919. The prospects of the team are limitless. Defending World Champs, they are sure to win the pennant in 1919, and 1920, and 1921, and 1922, and on and on until Ruth's arm wears out. The ownership of the team is devoted to victory, and nothing else. Boston is sure to dominate baseball in the 20th century. Life is good.

In the final analysis, though we are left with this bitter motto:

The Boston Red Sox, World Champions: 1918

Iraqi TV Off the Air
Good work to the B-52, B-1, and B-2 crews who did the job. They will probably jury-rig something soon, but taking out Iraqi TV remains a major objective.

An April Fool's Joke, A Day Early
Greater Boston is waking up this morning to snow flurries and a light dusting of snow on non-paved areas. The April Fool's Day when we had a genuine blizzard (within the last decade, I think) is certainly within recent memory. Spring came just on time, with temperatures suddenly boosted to the 60s from the 20s. But this week is supposed to be colder, more typical of a New England spring.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Marine Helicopter Crashes
Four crewmen were on board. No word on their fate. The crash was due to mechanical failure, not enemy action.

Spring In New England
I just saw a chap walking on the street outside in a short-sleeved jersey and shorts. The weather forecast calls for snow tonight. Only in New England!

Laetare Sunday
This is the "pink" Sunday of Lent, the one in which some relief from the gloom of lenten penances is allowed. In pre-Reformation England, it was customary for villagers to visit the "mother" church, which had gven rise to their own parish. This custom evolved into visiting one's own mother on the fourth Sunday of Lent. It became known as "Mothering Sunday," the British equivalent of Mother's Day.

Why are we less glum today? Well, we have just a few days ago passed the half-way point in Lent. There is light at the end of the tunnel. It is time to start thinking seriously about Easter. Besides which, the new life that Easter embodies is starting to take shape. We noticed buds on the trees yesterday, and that some of the bulbs we planted last fall are starting to break through the ground.

Yesterday, my pastor said he could never keep Gaudete Sunday and Laetare Sunday straight. The Latin means just about the same thing, and both are "pink" Sundays. Many people probably have the same problem. But Gaudete means "to rejoice." Laetare means merely "to be happy." I think there is a matter of degree dividing the extent to which one is expected to rejoice. After all, there is no Good Friday between Gaudete Sunday and Christmas. Since Lent is a more somber time than Advent, we rejoice on the pink Sunday of Advent, and are merely happy on the lenten pink Sunday. There is an ancient carol called "Gaudete". And since we sing carols at Christmas, Gaudete Sunday is in Advent. If all else fails, Laetare starts with "L," just like Lent.

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