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GI Special 4F25: Empty Boots - June 29, 2006


To Brian, My Beloved Son
His boots are empty now
the hopeful one who wore them
ground beneath the juggernaut of war.

Where we laid him
a stone will stay,
flags flutter, and flowers sway,
watered by tears and rain.

War is cruel,
and love must suffer long,
but can it suffer so in vain?

Do you hear their voices calling
from out those deep empty boots?
We went where we were sent,
and there we faced the worst.

Upon our bodies
dare you take a stand?
Or will our deaths,
just like our lives,
be lost in desert sand?

Rosemarie Dietz Slavenas, for my son Brian, KIA, Falluja, Iraq


[24269]



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GI Special 4F25: Empty Boots - June 29, 2006

Thomas F. Barton

GI Special:

thomasfbarton@earthlink.net

6.29.06

Print it out: color best. Pass it on.

 

GI SPECIAL 4F25:

 

 

[Thanks to David Honish, Veterans For Peace, who sent this in.]

 

 

Empty Boots;

To Brian, My Beloved Son

 

Veterans For Peace Newsletter, Spring 2006

 

His boots are empty now

the hopeful one who wore them

ground beneath the juggernaut of war.

 

Where we laid him

a stone will stay,

flags flutter, and flowers sway,

watered by tears and rain.

 

War is cruel,

and love must suffer long,

but can it suffer so in vain?

 

Do you hear their voices calling

from out those deep empty boots?

We went where we were sent,

and there we faced the worst.

 

Upon our bodies

dare you take a stand?

Or will our deaths,

just like our lives,

be lost in desert sand?

 

Rosemarie Dietz Slavenas,

for my son Brian,

KIA, Falluja, Iraq,

11/12103

 

 

 

IRAQ WAR REPORTS

 

 

Massachusetts Marine Killed

Cpl. Paul King, 23, of Tyngsboro, Mass., was killed June 25, 2006, in Al Anbar province. (AP Photo/U.S. Marines)

 

 

MARINE KILLED IN AL ANBAR

 

6/28/2006 06-06-02C06-06-02C

 

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq: A Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province Tuesday.

 

 

BAGHDAD SOLDIER KILLED BY ROADSIDE BOMB

 

6/28/2006 06-06-02CJ

 

BAGHDAD: A Multi National Division Baghdad Soldier was killed Tuesday at approximately 10 p.m. when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad.

 

 

Oklahoma Soldier Killed

 

06/28/06 Omaha World-Herald

 

Jeremy Jones, 25, died in Iskandariyah, Iraq, after he was hit with a roadside bomb on Tuesday morning, his family said. He'd been in Iraq since November, serving with the Army's 1-67 Armor based in Foot Hood, Texas. Jones graduated in 1999 from Millard West High School, where he played football and wrestled.

 

 

Fox Lake Soldier Killed

 

Jun 28, 2006 WEEK-TV

 

Operation Iraqi Freedom has claimed another casulaty from the state of Illinois.

 

The Department of Defense said Sergeant Terry Lisk died Monday from injuries sustained in Ar Ramadi, Iraq when his unit received indirect fire from enemy forces during combat operations.

 

The 26-year-old from Fox Lake, Illinois was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division based in Friedberg, Germany.

 

 

Hardin County Native Killed

 

Jun. 23, 2006 Associated Press, ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky.

 

A Kentucky native was one of three Marines killed in an explosion in Iraq this week.

 

Pfc. Christopher N. White, 23, of Southport, N.C., was killed Tuesday in Al-Anbar Province, Iraq, the Department of Defense said on Thursday.

 

White graduated from Central Hardin High School in 2001.

 

"The love he had for all of us was so strong that he gave the ultimate doing what he believed was right," said White's brother, Mike. "Chris White will live on in all of us in some way, but to me he was the greatest brother one could ever have."

 

White's parents, William and Galia, owned a farm in Hardin County where Chris grew up.

 

"Christopher was a good kid," William White said. "Everybody liked him. He was just a likeable guy."

 

His friends said they remember an athletic guy who got into weightlifting in high school, and played football for a short time.

 

"He never met a stranger," said Josh Garcia, who went to high school with White. "Everybody knew Chris White."

 

He followed his father, who retired from the Army, into military service, but his brother said he dreamed of becoming a Marine.

 

"He talked about it all his life," Mike White said.

 

White joined the Marines in May 2005. Assigned to the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif., he deployed to Iraq in January.

 

White, a machine gunner, and four other Marines were riding in the last Humvee in a convoy when a roadside bomb exploded, William White said. White and two other Marines were killed in the blast.

 

Mike White said his brother had plans to wed his girlfriend once he returned home from the war.

 

"He was going to get married the day he came back," Mike White said. "He only had a month and half left."

 

A memorial service will be held in St. Louis, the family said.

 

 

Area Marine Killed In Combat

 

06/24/2006 By Benjamin Poston, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

 

A Marine who was a star athlete and prom king at Eureka High School and whose neighbors called him "a gem," was killed Thursday in Iraq.

 

The Pentagon confirmed Friday night that Cpl. Riley Baker, 22, of the Pacific area, was killed during combat operations in Anbar province.

 

He had been assigned to the 3rd Battalion of the 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

 

 

A Brilliant Account Of A Lost War Of Occupation

 

[This is one for the textbooks. When people resist occupation by a foreign Imperial power, this is what it looks like. The rich collaborator, the scheming informers, the stubborn refusal to lift a finger to help the foreign invaders, the lies, the chaos, the confusion, the sabotage by malicious cooperation, and the inability to find out anything useful to the invading army could have been written about the German occupation of France, or the French or U.S. occupations of Vietnam, or any other failed effort to set up an Imperial military dictatorship, including the British in the USA in 1776.]

 

June 28, 2006 Tom Lasseter, McClatchy Newspapers [Excerpts]

 

TAJI, Iraq:

 

Capt. Carson Green walked slowly down the highway, simmering in the sun, looking for signs of a roadside bombing that had ripped both feet off an American soldier.

 

Green thought that if he could find the site of the bombing, he could figure out where witnesses might have been standing - at roadside groceries, houses, taxi stands - and, he hoped, ''flip'' them into giving up the names of insurgents in the area.

 

But after a half-hour of going up and down the road, Green couldn't tell the new bomb craters from the old ones. The heat had climbed above 110 degrees with no hint of wind, and the asphalt, stretching toward the horizon, felt like a stovetop.

 

Frustrated, Green muttered an obscenity. ''Let's go,'' he said.

 

Green, 26, has commanded Alpha Company of the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team since April, when a bomb killed his predecessor.

 

Most officers agree that victory in Iraq will be determined not by generals or weapons systems, but by captains like Green who decide how to fight an oft-unseen enemy in a land where they don't speak the language or know whom to trust. [Meaning the effort is fucked from start to finish, and the notion of “victory in Iraq” would be laughable, were it not for the endless toll of the dead.]

 

Four days spent with Green recently showed just how difficult that battle is.

 

At every turn Green confronted situations that seemed to defy solution. Police were uncooperative, if not infiltrated, informants were coy, if not dishonest, and death or crippling injury was just a misstep away.

 

Green decided early in his command that the best way to pacify the insurgency and the militias was to rely on informants more than on raids, to be as much a detective as a soldier.

 

''You can't fight a counterinsurgency by sweeping an area. You've got to collect intelligence on a specific cell leader,'' said Green, who has a slightly pug nose and a sharp jaw line that tenses when he's thinking. ''These big sweeps and roadblocks, you don't catch anybody doing that.''

 

But it's also hard, he said, to catch anyone when you don't know who's telling the truth and who isn't, who's on your side, and who isn't.

 

Green's days and nights in Iraq are shadowed by the death of the man who came before him.

 

Capt. Ian Weikel was riding in a patrol on April 18, crossing a bridge north of Baghdad, when a roadside bomb erupted. Shrapnel tore into Weikel's Humvee. The soldiers he commanded rushed to the vehicle and saw their captain slumped over, blood pouring from his head.

 

At the time of Weikel's death, Green was a young staff officer waiting for a company command spot to open.

 

Green seems almost obsessed with finding Weikel's killer. As he pieces together bits of information about the insurgency, and the Shiite militias it wars with, Green strains to find leads, pushing every informant for something, anything, that could lead to the insurgent who set off the bomb that killed Weikel.

 

The informants, knowing the value of such a tip, often dangle the possibility that they could help Green solve the case.

 

An informant recently led Green to a man who lived near the bridge where Weikel was killed. The Iraqi said in an initial interview that he had information about the insurgent cell that was behind the bombing. Green was planning to bring him into the base and question him for more details.

 

After searching for the bombing site that morning, Green and his men drove to the Taji police station to meet a high-ranking Iraqi officer. For three months, the officer has been giving Green information not only on Sunni insurgents, but also on Shiite militia members operating in the police force.

 

The informant - a Shiite who asked that his name not be used - has told Green several times that his police chief is a member of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army militia. Green said he wouldn't be surprised if that were true.

 

Walking into the informant's office, Green shook hands and quickly got to the point: ''There was a bomb this morning. Who did it?''

 

The informant gave three names - one of them Sunni and two of them Shiite.

 

Green raised his eyebrows. ''Shiites?'' he asked. ''Why are they working together?''

 

''Money,'' came the answer.

 

At the end of the conversation - in which the informant gave long and often contradictory accounts about local insurgent cells - Green asked the officer if everything he'd told him was true.

 

''Maybe true, maybe false,'' the officer said, giggling.

 

In the Humvee outside, Green was asked how much he trusted the informant.

 

''Who knows what his motivation is,'' he said. ''But a lot of his information has been good in the past.''

 

The next day, Green went to see another Iraqi. He waited until after dark so the neighbors wouldn't see the long line of Humvees pull up in front of Abu Haider's house. [Oh right, fucking brilliant, nobody’s going to notice “the long line of Humvees” because it’s dark, and Iraqis can’t see in the dark. Why, everybody knows that.]

 

Sometime after 11 p.m., Abu Haider walked in wearing a gray dishdasha, a traditional Arab tunic, and smoking Davidoff cigarettes. A gold watch hung loosely on his left wrist.

 

Abu Haider, who asked that his full name not be used, is a Shiite businessman and power broker who's received hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts from the U.S. military during the past three years. He's also one of Green's main informants and often a conduit to others. He lives in a compound of nice homes. [And all this is supposed to be some kind of secret?]

 

A large man given to sweeping hand gestures and the influence of sizable amounts of alcohol, Abu Haider punctuates his conversation with statements such as, ''Listen to me, Captain Green, I have worked with the coalition forces for three years and I have never told them a lie.''

 

Green was there because he needed witnesses. His men had detained an insurgent named Bashir and had compiled a collection of sworn statements about his connection with kidnappings and killings.

 

But only one of the statements tied him directly to an attack - a roadside bomb - against U.S. soldiers.

 

Unless Green could come up with another statement or two linking Bashir to attacks against Americans, he'd have to turn him over to the Iraqi police, who've been known to release suspected insurgents for money.

 

Green explained the situation to Abu Haider.

 

''I know many people who can give you sworn statements about people putting bombs on the road,'' Abu Haider said.

 

Green moved to the edge of the sofa and said to his translator, ''He says he has some witnesses. Do they know anything about Captain Weikel?''

 

Abu Haider smiled.

 

''I can give you the names of three people who lay bombs,'' Abu Haider said. ''On the same road where Captain Weikel died.''

 

''What are their names?'' Green asked.

 

''I don't know,'' Abu Haider said.

 

About half an hour later, a collection of local politicians and businessmen invited by Abu Haider walked into the living room. [Marvelous. That’s really total security. Since it’s open house for the whole world, what was all that silly bullshit before about keeping the “long line of Humvees” hidden in the dark. Looks like plenty of lies to go around, or maybe just plain stupidity.]

 

Green said hello, then made his pitch: ''In order to get Bashir in Abu Ghraib for a very, very long time, I need one more witness who has seen him put in an IED and attack coalition or Iraqi forces.''

 

Several of the men promised to produce witnesses within the week. [For a bit of Abu Haider’s cash no doubt. Witnesses are on sale this week. Just write the script, and they’ll say whatever the foreigner wants.]

 

At least one of the three Iraqis had promised to become an informant. Now they were all dead. [Oops. Looks like somebody informed on the informants.]

 

Green got the orders from brigade headquarters: Go find the bodies and then find out who killed them.

 

1st Lt. Garrett Cathcart, 24, of Indianapolis, explained: The men had been detained by another company. One had agreed to become an informer in exchange for their release. They'd been shot in a taxi either by insurgents because they were traitors or by Shiite militiamen because they were Sunnis.

 

Green and his men drove to an apartment complex - home to a mixture of Sunnis and Shiites - where the men had slept the night before.

 

''The Shiite guys for the most part aren't going to inform on other Shiites. They're going to inform on Sunni neighbors,'' said Green, who added that the same holds true for Sunnis. ''So you've got to play both sides.''

 

A funeral was being held for the taxi driver. His car was there: bullet holes through the windshield, doors and seats. Blood was smeared all over.

 

The family said an Iraqi police lieutenant had come by that morning. He seemed to be working very hard to solve the case, they said.

 

Green headed to the Taji police station. He wanted to speak with the lieutenant, 1st Lt. Nadhum Ajeed.

 

The police had bad news: On his way back from investigating the informants' murders, Ajeed had been shot to death.

 

Green asked to see Ajeed's file on the informants. It'd been sent to Baghdad.

 

Well, Green said, where are the photographs of the dead informants?

 

1st Lt. Ayad Ahmed told Green that there were no photographs.

 

''Where the . . . are the pictures, man?'' Green said. ''You guys always take pictures.''

 

Ahmed said that, on second thought, the pictures were with another officer, but he lived far away.

 

''I think you're lying to me. I think you have the pictures here,'' Green said. As for the first, brilliant fucking deduction. As for the second, they’re not that stupid.]

 

Green asked Ahmed if he found it strange that the lieutenant investigating the deaths had been killed.

 

''These killings are a coincidence,'' Ahmed said.

 

Green went to a smaller office across the hall, where a group of Iraqi officers was packed around a desk. A large photograph of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr hung on the wall behind them. On the facing wall, a smaller one showed Sadr at Mecca.

 

They said the officer who could answer Green's questions about the deaths was on the way.

 

A few minutes later, the officer walked in, saw Green and smiled.

 

''Oh man, you've got to be . . . kidding me,'' Green said.

 

Green's men had arrested the Iraqi police officer recently for setting up a checkpoint and robbing truck drivers.

 

The officer said he had no information about the killings.

 

The next day, Green checked back with police. There were still no pictures.

 

''They're being really weird about it,'' Green said. ''Maybe they killed those guys - I don't know.''

 

Green's mood was low. When Green's soldiers brought in the informant who lived near the bridge where Weikel was killed, the man turned out not to know much. Or at least he wasn't willing to say much.

 

''We didn't get what we thought we would,'' Green said. ''We're sort of back to square one.''

 

There was one bright note: Abu Haider, the informant, had delivered. An eyewitness came forward to say that he'd seen Bashir placing bombs targeting U.S. convoys. [Of course. As noted by the reporter, he’s “received hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts from the U.S. military during the past three years.” That buys, among other things, all the witnesses you could ever need.]

 

It looked like Bashir was headed for a long stay at Abu Ghraib prison.

 

That, for Green, was something to hold on to. [And that is simply pathetic.]

 

 

From The Department Of Microscopic Optimism

 

Apparently, the more accurate phrase for Operation Forward Together, "total fucking failure," wasn't deemed politically correct enough to use.

 

Jun 27 2006 By Swopa,Needlenose.com

 

Some gallows-humor material from the Associated Press this evening:

 

The U.S. military issued a sober assessment Tuesday of the Baghdad security crackdown, saying violence had decreased slightly but not to "the degree we would like to see" in the two weeks since 75,000 Iraqi and American troops flooded the capital.

 

The evaluation came as 18 more Iraqis fell victim to sectarian and insurgent violence, including five people whose bodies were found dumped in Baghdad. The U.S. military also announced the deaths of a Marine and three soldiers; three of the deaths were west of the capital in volatile Anbar province, an insurgent stronghold.

 

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, said the overwhelming security operation launched two weeks ago to rein in violence in Baghdad was moving more slowly than hoped.

 

"It's going to take some time. We do not see an upward trend. We ... see a slight decrease but not of the degree we would like to see at this point," he said at a news conference in the heavily fortified Green Zone.

 

However, Caldwell added, "we don't see this as turning into a civil war right now."

"Right now." They don't think the situation in Iraq is becoming a civil war right now.

 

Apparently, the more accurate phrase for Operation Forward Together, "total fucking failure," wasn't deemed politically correct enough to use.

 

 

 


:: Article nr. 24269 sent on 29-jun-2006 12:56 ECT

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