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GI Special 4E27: Support For War Hits New Low - May 27, 2006

....More adults in the United States are disappointed with their government’s decision to go to war in Iraq, according to a poll by TNS released by the Washington Post and ABC News. 62 per cent of respondents think the conflict was not worth fighting, up five points since March. For the first time since the conflict began, fewer than four-in-ten Americans believe the war with Iraq was worth fighting....


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GI Special 4E27: Support For War Hits New Low - May 27, 2006

Thomas F. Barton

GI Special 4E27: Support For War Hits New Low




GI Special:



Print it out: color best.  Pass it on.







Sgt. Major Chris Rodriguez pays his final respects to Sgt. Jose Gomez May 10, 2006, in New York.  Gomez died in Baghdad April 28, 2006 when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee. The soldier was assigned to the 10th Cavalry, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.  (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)



Support For Iraq War Hits New Low:

“For The First Time, Fewer Than 4-In-10 Americans Believe The War Was Worth Fighting”


76 per cent of respondents think there have been an unacceptable number of U.S. military casualties in Iraq.


May 19, 2006 (Angus Reid Global Scan)


More adults in the United States are disappointed with their government’s decision to go to war in Iraq, according to a poll by TNS released by the Washington Post and ABC News. 62 per cent of respondents think the conflict was not worth fighting, up five points since March.


For the first time since the conflict began, fewer than four-in-ten Americans believe the war with Iraq was worth fighting.


The coalition effort against Saddam Hussein’s regime was launched in March 2003. At least 2,454 American soldiers have died during the military operation, and more than 17,900 troops have been wounded in action.


76 per cent of respondents think there have been an unacceptable number of U.S. military casualties in Iraq.


Do you have a friend or relative in the service?  Forward this E-MAIL along, or send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly.  Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and inside the armed services.  Send requests to address up top.






Athens Native Killed By Explosive


May. 20, 2006 Associated Press


ATHENS, Ga. - Family members of an Athens native killed in Iraq say they're proud of the soldier's service.


Staff Sgt. Marion Flint Jr., 29, was one of two soldiers killed Monday in Iraq by an explosive, according to the Department of Defense.


Flint and Pfc. Grant A. Dampier, 25, of Merrill, Wis., died when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat patrol operations in Baghdad, the Pentagon said in a news release.


Both soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Fort Carson, Colo.


"We're all very proud of his service," said Anita Fleming, sister of Flint's mother, Matlene Christine Flint. "We think that what he did was a real, real honor to us. We really appreciate it."


Flint moved to Baltimore as an adult and was most recently stationed in Garner, N.C., where he lived with his wife, LaShaviea Danielle Flint and their two children, Dyamond, 11 and Malik, 3.


He graduated from Clarke Central High School in Athens, where he played football and basketball.


He was scheduled to complete his tour in Iraq in November.


"He was real serious about what he was doing in Iraq," said another aunt, Pat Ford.


Family members are waiting for Flint's body to be returned to Athens. No funeral arrangements had been set.



Spc. Brandon Teeters Dies In Germany


5/16/2006 By: News 8 Austin Staff


Fort Hood has released the name of a soldier who died from injuries received in Iraq.


Spc. Brandon Teeters, 21, of Lafayette, La., died May 12 in Ludwigshafen, Germany, from injuries sustained April 20 in Baghdad after an explosive device detonated near his Bradley fighting vehicle during combat operations.


Teeters entered the Army in June 2004 and was assigned to the 8th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.  In October 2004 as a Calvary scout. He was deployed to Iraq in December 2005.


Teeters' decorations and awards include; Army Service Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.



The Noose Tightens


26 May 2006 By Larry Johnson, Truthout Perspective [Excerpt]


The United States' ability to stay the course in Iraq is threatened by a fragile re-supply line, which runs from Kuwait north to Baghdad.  This road runs through the heart of Shia-controlled territory.  Everything we need to keep our Army fed and fueled comes up that road.



In The War With Iraq, All That High Tech Gear Don’t Mean Shit:

The Iraqis Troops Have Their Own Capability:

“They’re More Effectively Networked Than We Are”


It’s at this point, just beyond the edge of the American network, where the guerrillas are best connected.  Using disposable cellphones, anonymous e-mail addresses at public Internet cafés, and “lessons learned” Web sites that rival Cavnet, disparate guerrilla groups coordinate attacks, share tactics, hire bomb makers, and draw in fresh recruits.


5.26.2006 Noah Shachtman, with reporting in Iraq by David Axe, Popular Science [Excerpts]


The mission changes for Charlie Company seconds after the soldiers roll off the base.  The dreary night patrol around Balad, a shambling Shi’ite town in north-central Iraq, has just been canceled.


It’s time instead to hightail it west, to the Sunni neighborhood of Ad Duluiyah.  “Alpha Company is taking direct fire,” a voice crackles over the radio in First Lt. Brian Feldmayer’s Humvee.  “I need you to expedite."


Feldmayer, a 24-year-old Virginian with the smooth cheeks of a teenager, tries to straighten out a smile of excitement and nervous anticipation.  He stares into the glowing touchscreen at his left elbow.  The Army calls this system Blue Force Tracker, or BFT. It’s a militarized version of an automotive navigation aid, enhanced to track—and communicate with—other coalition vehicles.


Firmly tapping the screen with his gloved fingers, Feldmayer calls up the grid coordinate just radioed to him and marks it with white crosshairs. 


Zooming out, he studies the roads leading there.  He plots a course, then radios the rest of his patrol—two tanks, three more Humvees and an Iraqi Army Nissan truck—with orders to haul ass.


It doesn’t take long for Feldmayer to regret it.


Nobody on the patrol knows the roads, and he’s wary of getting lost.


Ordinarily, on his terminal, he should be able to track Charlie’s other BFT-equipped vehicles and follow the route they’re taking.  But the satellite signal that feeds BFT is weak tonight. 


And the lieutenant doesn’t exactly trust the system’s maps: It can take the Army’s cartographers up to a year to update them; in Iraq, a lot can change by then.


Feldmayer curses loudly.  He calls his command post for help, but he hears only static.


This wasn’t how the 75-man Charlie Company was supposed to operate.


It’s part of the Army’s first “digital division,” the Ft. Carson, Colorado; based Fourth Infantry Division (4ID), outfitted with the military’s latest gear: new tanks, firearms and armored vehicles, but also flying reconnaissance drones, advanced sensors, electronic jammers and battlefield data networks.  All of which should make the 4ID a model for the Pentagon’s vision for the future of combat—“network-centric warfare.” 


With the right technologies, soldiers should be able to communicate better and have a clearer picture of the battlefield. Their movements become lightning-quick and lethally effective. Think of it as combat on Internet time.


But now, more than three years into sectarian conflict and a violent insurgency that has cost nearly 2,400 American lives, an investigation of the current state of network-centric warfare reveals that frontline troops have a critical need for networked gear, gear that hasn’t come yet.


“There is a connectivity gap,” states a recent Army War College report. “Information is not reaching the lowest levels.”


This is a dangerous problem, because the insurgents are stitching together their own communications network.  Using cellphones and e-mail accounts, these guerrillas rely on a loose web of connections rather than a top-down command structure.


And they don’t fight in large groups that can be easily tracked by high-tech command posts.  They have to be hunted down in dark neighborhoods, amid thousands of civilians, and taken out one by one.


Even in the supposedly wired 4ID, it can take years for frontline soldiers to benefit from the technologies that high-ranking officers quickly take for granted.


The finicky, incompatible equipment that’s given to the infantrymen and tank drivers in Charlie Company, the guys who are spending this cold, wet February night on the front, is primitive in comparison with the gear at the sprawling military base outside of Balad, where battalion-level commanders oversee the 300 troops in Charlie and three other companies.  There, things are beginning to work like the network-centric theorists predicted, with drone video feeds and sensor data and situation reports flying in constantly.


But to the guys in Charlie Company, this technological wizardry and the Pentagon’s futuristic hypotheses seem awfully far away.


There is a simple, but significant, reason why: Bringing frontline infantrymen into the network isn’t as easy as wiring up a headquarters.  Battlefield gear has to be wireless, durable, secure, and completely effortless to use in the chaos of combat.


The network is slowly expanding to meet the grunts.  But the Department of Defense’s lumbering process for buying new equipment still virtually ensures that ground-level soldiers won’t be linked-in until early next decade.


“The fog, friction and uncertainty of war are still there, same as always,” says retired Marine Col. T.X. Hammes, considered one of the leading authorities on counterinsurgency. 


“This net-centricity helps some, but it only goes as far as the battalion.  After that, these guys are on their own.”


Feldmayer radios the tank at the rear of his patrol and orders it to the front of the convoy. It’s the latest M1A2 Abrams, one of the most advanced tanks in the world, equipped with new night-vision sensors, thicker armor and BFT’s older (and, counterintuitively) more feature-packed cousin: Force XXI Battle Command Brigade-and-Below, or FBCB2.


First built in the early 1990s for Cold War–style conflicts, where armies are tightly bunched together, FBCB2 relies on a classified radio band to communicate.  BFT, designed later for more-dispersed, unconventional warfare, uses more-open satellite transmissions; troops can share information at greater distances, but they can’t get the kind of secrecy that FBCB2 provides.


The Army is working on a bridge between the two systems so that they will be able to share some basic information, but for now they are mostly incompatible.


Feldmayer won’t be able to see where the tank is leading them, and he won’t be able to use FBCB2’s Instant Messenger-like tool to quickly relay commands.  He won’t have access to any of the communications links that increase what the Pentagon calls “situational awareness” and that ultimately power network-centric warfare. If the navigation systems were working, every vehicle could split up or speed ahead if an attack came, without getting lost.


But today they will all have to follow the tank’s taillights in a neat line, just as it was done in 1944.


Charlie Company takes off, racing toward the fight at Ad Duluiyah.  Careening around traffic circles, blowing past checkpoints, the company is primed for combat: weapons loaded, 120-millimeter cannon shells rammed into breaches.  Radio-frequency jammers form a protective bubble around the convoy, keeping remote-controlled roadside bombs from detonating.  “They better have that shit wrapped up by the time we get there,” Feldmayer shouts, “or we’re going to blow some shit up!”


Then, suddenly, the lead tank lurches to a halt.  Through roiling clouds of dust, illuminated by the tank’s headlights, Feldmayer sees a pile of concrete and earth.  The lead tank’s fancy navigation system has just led them into a roadblock, too tall for the vehicles to climb.  A dozen soldiers curse in unison.


By the time Charlie gets to Ad Duluiyah, 45 minutes later, the shooting is over.  A dozen Humvees and Bradley fighting vehicles line a muddy road leading to a rickety pontoon bridge that’s nearly swamped by a surging stream. 


And all those soldiers’ chatter is creating cacophony over the Single Channel Ground and Air Radio System, or Sincgars, the radio system connecting the Army’s fleet of helicopters and ground vehicles.  It’s the buzzing, chirping sound of information overload.


An officer from Alpha Company walks over to explain what’s going on.  Alpha was following up on leads about a stolen Iraqi police truck when the soldiers spotted a suspiciously large gathering of cars in front of a single house.  When Alpha got close, Iraqis spilled out, sprinting for their cars and shooting off tracer rounds.  Alpha didn’t have enough men to pursue.


Now the idea is to start searching houses, one at a time, for insurgents.


Charlie Company is assigned the northwest side of the stream.


Feldmayer tells his tank commanders to use their infrared sights to watch over the foot patrols.  Taking a last glance at his BFT, eyeballing the digital representation of the dark, foreboding neighborhood he’s about to penetrate, Feldmayer mutters, “Don’t need this anymore,” and switches the system off.


Picking his way through the crumbling houses of Ad Duluiyah, Feldmayer is tied to the American grid by only the thinnest of threads.  There’s no way for him to get on any collaborative Web site from here.  Most of his men are out of reach, scattered throughout the town.  Many don’t have radios; traditional Army fighting doesn’t call for individual soldiers to be separated from their squad very often.


Feldmayer follows the Iraqi soldiers he’s been teamed with across a dark, muddy, pothole-riddled yard.  A locked gate bars the way to a group of houses.  One of Feldmayer’s U.S. soldiers blasts it open with a shotgun, and the men spill into the yard in front of a large dwelling.  Soldiers crowd the front door, pounding with closed fists and yelling in Arabic.  Women and children dart around corners and disappear into rooms.  Tired men scurry outside, obviously spooked.


Feldmayer doesn’t like the aggression. “Just take it easy,” he tells the Iraqi troops through the patrol’s interpreter, to the civilians’ palpable relief.


One of the men gathered in the yard gestures to the lieutenant.  Feldmayer grabs the interpreter and shakes the Iraqi man’s hand.  “Salaam,” Feldmayer says.  The three put their heads together, muttering in English and Arabic.


Suddenly Feldmayer cuts off the conversation and urges the man and the interpreter around a corner.  “He says he knows who the bad guys are around here,” Feldmayer says.


The interpreter takes notes as the informant rattles off names and addresses.


If the Pentagon’s vision of networked forces were realized here, he would be typing into a handheld computer, wirelessly connected to a network. The names would immediately be cross-checked with databases of known guerrillas and disseminated to local commanders. 


But for now, the patrol’s interpreter writes down the Ad Duluiyah suspects on paper, using a pencil.


It’s at this point, just beyond the edge of the American network, where the guerrillas are best connected.  Using disposable cellphones, anonymous e-mail addresses at public Internet cafés, and “lessons learned” Web sites that rival Cavnet, disparate guerrilla groups coordinate attacks, share tactics, hire bomb makers, and draw in fresh recruits.


It’s an ad hoc, constantly changing web of connections, so it’s hard for U.S. spooks to know where to listen in next.


It also lets the insurgents keep a loose command structure, without much hierarchy—just like the network-centric theorists call for.


Even if their communications are compromised, only a small cell is exposed, not the entire insurgency.


"They’re more effectively networked than we are," says Hammes, the guerrilla-war expert.  “They have a worldwide, secure communications network.  And all it cost them was two dinars.”


To compensate, some American soldiers are buying their own gear: $50 Motorola walkie-talkies, so they can talk to their squad mates; $160 Garmin GPS receivers to make up for FBCB2’s gaps.


It’s quicker than waiting for the wheels of the Pentagon bureaucracy to turn.


Pencil and paper just won’t do.


After hours of barreling down highways, blasting open locked gates, and pressing terrified Iraqis for information, Charlie and Alpha companies trickle home from Ad Duluiyah.


Feldmayer’s Humvee is the last to leave, towing the sniper section’s broken-down truck.  Feldmayer stares into the cold dark of the early morning.


His shoulders sag.  In his pocket, he carries the insurgent list he coaxed out of the Iraqi informant.  His sergeant gripes about missed firefights.  But Feldmayer just nods, his arm draped on the blank screen of the BFT.





U.S. soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division at the scene of a car bomb which detonated outside a police station in Sadr City, Baghdad, May 23, 2006.  (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)






Assorted Resistance Action


5.26.06 Reuters & AP


Two policemen were killed in a clash in southwestern Afghanistan on Friday, a provincial official said.


The clash erupted after guerrillas ambushed a convoy of police in Ghazni province, southwest of the capital Kabul.


"The clash lasted for several hours," said Abdul Wakil Kamiyab, a senior police official.


Meanwhile, fighting broke out Friday between militants and Afghan security forces in Ghazni province, Gov. Sher Alam said. He didn't know the numbers of fighters involved or any casualty numbers.







Sympathy Flows At Soldier’s Funeral In Queens:

“Twenty-Five Hundred Of These Around The Country,” He Said;

“Can You Imagine?”

Maria Gomez tried to find comfort on an Army sergeant first class’ shoulder Wednesday in a church in Corona, Queens, during the funeral for her son. Sgt. Jose Gomez, 23, was killed on April 20 by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Behind her was Sergeant Gomez’s stepfather, Felix Jimenez, and Marie Canario, the soldier’s fiancée.


May 11, 2006 By MICHELLE O’DONNELL, The New York Times


At Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church in Corona, Queens, Mary, the mother of God, weeps at the feet of her son in the mural over the altar.  Yesterday, Maria, the mother of Sgt. Jose Gomez of the United States Army, wept from her seat in the first pew.


“You, more than anyone, understand the pain of the mother of Christ,” the Rev. Thomas Healy said in Spanish to Maria Gomez, whose slender shoulders slumped into the Army officer seated to her right as her husband, Felix Jimenez, wrapped an arm around her. “We are all with you in your pain.”


But she was really alone and she seemed to know it, weeping and staring blankly at her son’s coffin in the center aisle.  She had brought him to the United States from the Dominican Republic when he was 3.  Twenty years later, on April 20, he was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, during a second tour of duty there.


His death came 31 months after his fiancée, Analaura Esparza-Gutierrez, 21, an Army private from Houston, was also killed by a roadside bombing in Tikrit, Iraq.  Three springs ago, Sergeant Gomez had proposed to her.  Now both were gone.


Yesterday, church and state rose up, each in its ritualistic glory, to honor the brief life and sudden death of Sergeant Gomez.  Father Healy tenderly anointed his coffin with incense, and gave the young man his final blessings.  The ladies of Corona — some in veils — filled the pews.  Army officers flanked the right side of the church, and a two-star general presented Mrs. Gomez with the purple heart and bronze star that President Bush had authorized her son to receive.


Yet it all seemed to do little to lessen the grief of Mrs. Gomez, who appeared to grow smaller as those by her side supported her.


The loss of Sergeant Gomez hit her especially hard because he had always strived to take care of his mother.  He was saving to buy her a house.  He had called home on April 19, the day before he died, to have flowers sent to her for Mother’s Day.


And he had invented a tale that he was working and studying in Texas to hide the fact that he had been ordered to serve a second tour in Iraq, where the danger had been driven home by Private Esparza-Gutierrez’s death.


Father Healy told Sergeant Gomez’s family to persevere.  His new fiancée, Marie Canario, dabbed her eyes with a sodden tissue.


“Remember Jesus’ words,” Father Healy said in Spanish and English. “There is no greater love than to give your life for your friends.”


Maj. Gen. Bill Grisoli spoke.  He called Sergeant Gomez a hero.  He read a letter from an officer who wrote how, on April 20, after another Army vehicle was damaged by a roadside bomb in Baghdad, Sergeant Gomez and Staff Sgt. Bryant A. Herlem, 37, had moved their vehicle forward.


“It was in the act of protecting their friends that the second blast occurred,” General Grisoli said.


Mrs. Gomez bore it all quietly.  All Jose had wanted, she said in an interview last week, was to study mathematics and become an accountant.  Raised in Corona, amid a warren of brick and clapboard delis, barbershops and bodegas, Jose quickly learned one uncompromising sum: his family’s bank accounts could never support his schooling.


“We’re poor,” Mrs. Gomez had said.  She works packaging air fresheners in a factory, and her husband, Mr. Jimenez, is a truck driver.  “And if you go in the Army to get your degree, well that used to work out.”


For most of the funeral, Mrs. Gomez kept her head bowed.


The funeral ended, and Sergeant Gomez’s final trip through Queens began.  His hearse slipped past the El Nuevo Amanecer restaurant, the Valdez Deli, the mural of the unfurled American flag painted on the side of a building.


Then it was into East Elmhurst, where children played at recess on a rooftop along Astoria Boulevard, and a small jet wobbled its descent to La Guardia Airport.  At St. Michael’s Cemetery along the Grand Central Parkway, a leader led mourners down the wrong path. They scurried around the cemetery until they found Sergeant Gomez’s coffin.


It lay on a small hill covered with green burlap. Mrs. Gomez and Ms. Canario sat weeping as a man in an orange shirt led a prayer.  Mr. Jimenez wiped his face.  The twin wails of mother and fiancée rose above the din of traffic in an inconsolable dirge.


Mrs. Gomez was supported to the side of the coffin.


“Mi Jose!  Mi Jose!  Mi hijo!” she wailed.  “O Dios!”


She sobbed, and added, moaning in Spanish, “Why did it have to be my son?”

:: Article nr. 23564 sent on 27-may-2006 20:17 ECT


:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

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