Dahr Jamail has an interesting article at IPS in which he talks to veterans of Iraq who say the troops there often go on what they describe as "search and avoid" missions.
Phil Aliff is an active duty soldier with the 10th Mountain Division stationed at Fort Drum in upstate New York. He served nearly one year in Iraq from August 2005 to July 2006, in the areas of Abu Ghraib and Fallujah, both west of Baghdad.Aliff isn't the only source. Jamail talked to other veterans - Eli Wright, an active duty soldier with the 10th Mountain Division and Geoff Millard, who served nine years in the New York Army National Guard, and was in Iraq from October 2004 until October 2005 - who describe similiar happenings. Millard says it still goes on.
"Morale was incredibly low," said Aliff, adding that he joined the military because he was raised in a poor family by a single mother and had few other prospects. "Most men in my platoon in Iraq were just in from combat tours in Afghanistan."
According to Aliff, their mission was to help the Iraqi Army "stand up" in the Abu Ghraib area of western Baghdad, but in fact his platoon was doing all the fighting without support from the Iraqis they were supposedly preparing to take control of the security situation.
"I never heard of an Iraqi unit that was able to operate on their own," said Aliff, who is now a member of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). "The only reason we were replaced by an Iraqi Army unit was for publicity."
Aliff said he participated in roughly 300 patrols. "We were hit by so many roadside bombs we became incredibly demoralised, so we decided the only way we wouldn't be blown up was to avoid driving around all the time."
"So we would go find an open field and park, and call our base every hour to tell them we were searching for weapons caches in the fields and doing weapons patrols and everything was going fine," he said, adding, "All our enlisted people became very disenchanted with our chain of command."
"One of my buddies is in Baghdad right now and we email all the time," he explained, "He just told me that nearly each day they pull into a parking lot, drink soda, and shoot at the cans. They pay Iraqi kids to bring them things and spread the word that they are not doing anything and to please just leave them alone."The more we hear from servicemen when their words aren't massaged through military PR filters, the more it seems they've no more confidence in a happy outcome for Bush's misadventure than the majority of the rest of us do.
(Hat Tip - Ken at Bonehead Compendium)