24 July 2003

Rumsfeld Needs to Go

Ralph Peters, retired military officer, pens a NY Post column blasting Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for his management of the Iraq campaign. Peters believes that Rumsfeld cares more for the fat corporate welfare privatization in the form of reconstruction contracts than he does the fighting soldiers.
Want to know how far off the rails things have slid at the Pentagon? Recently, the Army wanted to tally up how much money it had been forced to divert to private contractors as part of Rumsfeld's rush to privatize military tasks. The Rummycrats forbid it. They refused to let the Army balance its own books — because the privatization mafia knew what they would find: Contractors cost more, not less, than soldiers.

When honest budget managers in the services calculate the transition of any uniformed job to a private contractor, their working assumption is that the contract employee will cost the Pentagon $100,000 a year. A sergeant barely makes a quarter of that, and a private hardly a fifth — including benefits.

You, the taxpayer, are being cheated outrageously in the name of an ideologically driven crusade to reduce the size of government. This is corporate welfare that has nothing to do with the welfare of our troops. And guess what? Most of those contractors disappear when the bullets start flying.

21 July 2003

Smart Bribes

Even before Gulf War II began, some of the biggest battles were already decided. Quotes from Tommy Franks confirm Arab media rumors that U.S. special forces bribed Iraqi generals not to fight.
The article quotes a "senior official" as adding, "What is the effect you want? How much does a cruise missile cost? Between one and 2.5 million dollars. Well, a bribe is a PGM [precision-guided munition]—it achieves the aim, but it's bloodless and there's zero collateral damage."

One official is quoted as saying that, in the scheme of the whole military operation, the bribery "was just icing on the cake." But another says that it "was as important as the shooting part, maybe more important. We knew that some units would fight out of a sense of duty and patriotism, and they did. But it didn't change the outcome because we knew how many of these [Iraqi generals] were going to call in sick."

11 July 2003

Baghdad Blogger

The Baghdad blogger, author of the blog Where is Raed, has penned an article for the UK Guardian that contrasts British and American occupation zones and some commentary on "blood money" negotiations. I'm not sure if this his first "installment", or if it's a recurring feature that's elevated the young Iraqi from the blogsphere into the mass media realm, but it's a most interesting read, nevertheless.

The difference between Baghdad and Basra?

The other reason why it feels like you are going into another country is the British presence in the south. The first thing you notice is that everything is smaller, their vehicles are tiny compared with what the Americans are using in Baghdad. They have these cute little tanks which go really fast, our driver called them "baby-tanks". As we were entering Basra we encountered a small convoy, just a couple of vehicles escorted by the British equivalent of a Humvee. On the top sat a soldier with a BIG gun.

In Baghdad that gun would be pointing either at the car right behind the military vehicle or at the sidewalk, scanning the buildings. But the British guy wasn't pointing at anything, he was just looking around with the gun turned in, at an angle that would have shot him in the foot if it had gone off by accident. You appreciate this only after you have been driving behind an American Humvee and praying that your car doesn't backfire or make strange noises, because the US soldier has that gun pointing right at you.

Here, his advice to the British over "blood money" arrangements - to improve tribal connections and employ a better negotiator:
» read more

8 July 2003

Troop morale in Iraq hits 'rock bottom'

According to a Christian Science Monitor article, U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, in the heat and danger, are suffering from low morale that in some cases, has hit "rock bottom".

The open-ended deployments in Iraq are lowering morale among some ground troops, who say constantly shifting time tables are reducing confidence in their leadership. "The way we have been treated and the continuous lies told to our families back home has devastated us all," a soldier in Iraq wrote in a letter to Congress.

"Make no mistake, the level of morale for most soldiers that I've seen has hit rock bottom," said another soldier, an officer from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq.

Is this just whining or are these legitimate charges?