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Rules: Be polite, be professional, have a plan to kill everyone you meet

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dajoki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-18-06 09:19 PM
Original message
Rules: Be polite, be professional, have a plan to kill everyone you meet

An Army of Some

Published: August 20, 2006

The rules posted on the wall of the Marine base in Barwana concisely summed up the American predicament in Iraq: Be polite, be professional, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

Barwana was a way station for a joint Iraqi and American convoy as it traveled to a stretch of hard-packed sand overlooking the Euphrates in the Haditha triad, one of the more challenging areas in Anbar, the most dangerous province in Iraq. The convoys goal was to inspect a company of Iraqi soldiers who had been involved in an American-directed operation to round up insurgents. With Iraq engulfed in bloody turmoil, any prospect of establishing a modicum of order depends heavily on the new Iraqi Army and the small cadre of Americans that is training it. The rules at Barwana hinted at one rationale. For all of the U.S. militarys fighting skills, the Iraqi troops are better able to differentiate among the welter of tribes, self-styled militias, religious groupings, myriad insurgent organizations and militant jihadists who populate Iraq. But there are other important rationales as well. With American forces stretched perilously thin, the development of Iraqs armed forces is the best hope for putting more boots on the ground. Fielding an Iraqi military along with the parallel effort to build up the Iraqi police is also the closest thing the Bush administration has to an exit strategy.

Before arriving in Iraq earlier this summer, I got the basic facts from Pentagon briefings. There is, American officials said, to be a 10-division Iraqi force. The effort to raise and train the troops, they stated, is 85 percent complete. Statistics like these convey a sense of measurable progress in a region that otherwise appears to be a caldron of violence. The hope of the Americans, the hope of the troops, is that the Iraqis will continue to take over responsibility for the security in their country and that over time well be able to draw down our forces as conditions permit, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said earlier this month.

What I saw in more than three weeks in Anbar Province was not reassuring. Dogged efforts were being undercut by a dysfunctional Iraqi bureaucracy in Baghdad. The American advisers were able and extremely dedicated, and the Iraqi troops under their tutelage were making strides toward becoming an independent fighting element. But Iraqs Ministry of Defense has been slow to issue promotions for the new soldiers and to distribute proper pay. A goodly number of the Iraqi soldiers have voted with their feet and gone AWOL or left to join the Iraqi police, so they could live close to home.


Anbar is a vast region in western Iraq that borders on Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The Sunni-dominated area has been a base of operations for Iraqi insurgents and serves as a transit route for foreign fighters who have come to Iraq to wage jihad against the Americans. According to American statistics, there are more attacks in Anbar on a per capita basis than in any other part of Iraq.

For all this, Anbar has long been what the military calls an economy of force operation, which is a polite way of saying that troop requirements elsewhere in Iraq have led American commanders to employ fewer forces in the province than the situation warrants. As a consequence, counterinsurgency operations have taken on the quality of a whack-a-mole arcade game. Every time the Americans have massed force to put out one fire, they have created a vacuum elsewhere that the insurgents have rushed to fill. When the Marines gathered forces to clear Falluja in 2004, they drew troops from the Haditha area, where the insurgents promptly moved in and executed the defenseless local police near the towns soccer field. The Marines returned in strength to Haditha and established several forward bases, including the one at Barwana, but then many of the troops were sent to the far west when commanders decided to clear Al Qaim, near the Syrian border. And the insurgents filtered back to Haditha.
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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-18-06 09:33 PM
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1. And Here I Thought It Was the GOP Playbook!
Maybe the Marines ripped it off?
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nam78_two Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-18-06 09:43 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. "And Here I Thought It Was the GOP Playbook!"
Edited on Fri Aug-18-06 09:44 PM by nam78_two
Then it wouldn't have the 'be polite' or 'be professional' part x(
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dajoki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-19-06 10:54 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. Boy, is that the truth!!
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rubberducky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-18-06 09:49 PM
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3. What has our gov. done to these men and women??????
These people really think they are there for a purpose. Thier very lives depend on our governments decisions. "Stay the course" is so rediculous. When do we win?? what will constitute winning?? Time to pack up our boys and girls, admit the gov. made mistakes, and bring our people home. If we haven`t won by now we never will.
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