Saturday, July 14, 2007

Urban Combat, the American Experience in Iraq

The Nation has an interesting piece where they interviewed fifty soldiers about their experiences in Iraq and how common for US forces o accidentally kill civilians during operations in Iraq and how little remorse is felt about these accidental killings at the time.
The Iraq War is a vast and complicated enterprise... Fighting in densely populated urban areas has led to the indiscriminate use of force and the deaths at the hands of occupation troops of thousands of innocents.....

Much of the resentment toward Iraqis described to The Nation by veterans was confirmed in a report released May 4 by the Pentagon. According to the survey, conducted by the Office of the Surgeon General of the US Army Medical Command, just 47 percent of soldiers and 38 percent of marines agreed that civilians should be treated with dignity and respect. Only 55 percent of soldiers and 40 percent of marines said they would report a unit member who had killed or injured "an innocent noncombatant." ...

The mounting frustration of fighting an elusive enemy and the devastating effect of roadside bombs, with their steady toll of American dead and wounded, led many troops to declare an open war on all Iraqis.

Veterans described reckless firing once they left their compounds. Some shot holes into cans of gasoline being sold along the roadside and then tossed grenades into the pools of gas to set them ablaze. Others opened fire on children. These shootings often enraged Iraqi witnesses....

Spc. Patrick Resta, 29, a National Guardsman from Philadelphia... recalled his supervisor telling his platoon point-blank, "The Geneva Conventions don't exist at all in Iraq, and that's in writing if you want to see it."

|The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness - Nation| (emphasis added)
A gun is a powerful tool, but power without knowledge is just plain dangerous.

From the article, it sounds like all of Iraq is a free-fire zone for the troops. This is probably an overstatement, but in a counter-insurgency operation, civilian deaths tend to undermine the entire enterprise.

I think everyone knew that urban warfare was a nightmare before the U.S. entered Iraq, so it shouldn't be surprising that urban warfare is devestating to the troops and the civilian populace.

Tragic for everyone involved, I just wish the war could have been avoided somehow...

Via Informed Comment.

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