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[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ] This is an automated compilation of submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org Articles for inclusion in this daily news mailing should be sent to email@example.com. Please include a full reference to the source of the article. Today's Topics: 1. 'Bullet magnets' prepare for Iraqi frontline (Rania Masri) 2. Chalabi, Garner Provide New Clues To War (Rania Masri) --__--__-- Message: 1 From: "Rania Masri" <rania@DELETETHISnc.rr.com> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: 'Bullet magnets' prepare for Iraqi frontline Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2004 10:33:18 -0500 [ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] 'Bullet magnets' prepare for Iraqi frontline The largest troop rotation in US history starts this month - but the reservists have little training or appetite for battle Suzanne Goldenberg in Fort Bliss, Texas Monday March 1, 2004 The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk> The lead vehicle in the convoy has disappeared over the hill. The road ahea= d is flanked by two suspicious-looking car wrecks. In the back of the pick-up truck, the troops are getting twitchy. All six soldiers jump out of the truck and sprawl in the dirt, triggers at the ready. Minutes later, they clamber back in. Nobody thinks to look behin= d until a smoke grenade explodes three yards away. The buzzer sounds. "A grenade. We're dead, dude," says Private Tyler Franzen. They were wiped out within the first five minutes of their drill on convoy movement, and the implications register quickly. Days from now, Pte Franzen and the 319th Signals Battallion could be in Iraq. "This makes me more scared," he says. "I am preparing for the worst." Their trainer calls troops like these "bullet magnets" - army reservists or National Guard soldiers, weekend warriors with minimal combat training pressed into service. Tens of thousands are on the move now as the Pentagon carries out the largest rotation of forces in its history, relieving battle-weary soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait with fresh forces. By late March, 130,000 troops will be leaving Iraq and 105,000, including some of the 319th, will arrive. As many as 50% of these will be reservists or National Guard. Some units, like the 319th, will be raised virtually from scratch. The signals battalion, based in Sacramento, California, was barely at half-strength when it was mobilised, and reservists have been drafted in from as far away as Puerto Rico, Delaware, and Georgia to be sent off to what the troops call the "sandbox" They are joining a different war from the one fought by the invading force that set off last year to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein. Today, the mission is far less clear, and more dangerous. The original rationale for the invasion - weapons of mass destruction - has been discredited, and so has the notion of a swift military victory. The toll for US forces in Iraq is approaching 550 dead. A number of officers and troops at Fort Bliss say it is important to draw a line between personal feelings and duty. A few reservists say they have had run-ins with anti-war protesters; they feel the troops are not being supported as they should. Nobody at Fort Bliss is raring to go off to war, but they are going to honour their obligations. Specialist Michelle Matthis, 21, volunteered to fill vacancies in the 319th once it became clear her own unit would not be deployed. But even she seems somewhat ambivalent. "It's so I can get the wa= r over with," she says. Others are resigned to going to this war, but they say it will be their last. The cost on family life is just too great, says Jim Akers, 40, a warrant officer. This is his first deployment after 22 years in the reserves. He knows the Pentagon is worried about a steep drop in re-enlistments in th= e National Guard and reserves, but after Iraq he will have done his bit. "Eve= n $1,000 extra a month is not going to keep me there," he says. "I will retir= e when I get back. I am not going to put my family through this - or myself." By the time the troops have arrived at Fort Bliss in western Texas, they should be all but ready to go. But the fact of their deployment has yet to sink in. "I kind of expected this, but I didn't think it would happen," Pte Franzen says. He signed on for the college benefits in January last year. Two days before basic training, his girlfriend learned she was pregnant. No= w he is 19 - too young to drink in Texas - has a three-month-old son, and is days away from war. The shock of deployment was even greater for veterans like Maritess Leyson, 37, a computer systems administrator from Chicago who describes her 18 year= s in the army reserves as a "hobby job". When the call came last November, th= e single parent was in a panic to try to soften the news for her three teenag= e children. Then she had to find them a home after her sister balked at takin= g them. "When it was time for me to go, it hit me like a brick wall, oh my goodness," she says. "It's scary, but I signed on the dotted line." None of the reservists raises the possibility that they might be killed - their instructors do that for them. "If the Iraqis executed an ambush with any degree of efficiency some of you might not come home," says Major Shawn Marshall, after drill. What he does not need to say is that the death toll in Iraq has been especially high for reservists, National Guard members and support units. There is no frontline in Iraq, and no zone of safety for non-combat forces. Most reservists and support units have not been trained for a guerrilla war - with lethal consequences. They simply do not know how to fight. Some freeze in training exercises. At the firing range, they blast away, and the targets still stand. They were trained in technical skills, not combat capabilities. "These people are what I call bullet magnets," says Colonel Rick Phillips, who is in charge of training. "What they find over there is that these kids aren't pulling the trigger. They are waiting to engage." At Fort Bliss, that knowledge is especially acute. The base was the home of Private Jessica Lynch and the mechanised unit that took heavy losses in the opening days of the war when their truck took a wrong turn near Nasiriya, and drove into an ambush. Eleven soldiers were killed; and others taken prisoner. Those blunders led the Pentagon to institute basic battleground drills for all forces departing for Iraq. Col Phillips has four days to drill survival instincts into his people. He knows he can not make warriors out of them."I just want to give them enough to help them to come home." "I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq." - U.S. Deputy 'Defense' Secretary Wolfowitz, Reuters, July 21 <http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=3Dstory&u=3D/nm/iraq_wolfowitz_dc> http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=3Dstory&u=3D/nm/iraq_wolfowitz_dc We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes. - Ella Baker -------------------------------------------------------- Ra=F1ia Masri Director, Southern Peace Research and Education Center Institute for Southern Studies http://www.southernstudies.org <http://www.southernstudies.org/> 2009 Chapel Hill Rd. Durham, North Carolina 27707 --__--__-- Message: 2 From: "Rania Masri" <rania@DELETETHISnc.rr.com> To: <email@example.com> Subject: Chalabi, Garner Provide New Clues To War Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2004 12:02:32 -0500 [ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] ZNet | Iraq Chalabi, Garner Provide New Clues To War by Jim Lobe ; <http://www.hipakistan.com/en/detail.php?newsId=en54969&F_catID=&f_type=sour ce> HiPakistan; February 26, 2004 WASHINGTON: For those still puzzling over the whys and wherefores of Washington's invasion of Iraq 11 months ago, major new, but curiously unnoticed, clues were offered this week by two central players in the events leading up to the war. Both clues tend to confirm growing suspicions that the Bush administration's drive to war in Iraq had very little, if anything, to do with the dangers posed by Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or his alleged ties to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda - the two main reasons the US Congress and public were given for the invasion. Separate statements by Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), and US retired Gen Jay Garner, who was in charge of planning and administering post-war reconstruction from January through May 2002, suggest that other, less public motives were behind the war, none of which concerned self- defence, pre-emptive or otherwise. The statement by Chalabi, on whom the neo-conservative and right-wing hawks in the Pentagon and Vice-President Dick Cheney's office are still resting their hopes for a transition that will protect Washington's many interests in Iraq, will certainly interest congressional committees investigating why the intelligence on WMD before the war was so far off the mark. In a remarkably frank interview with the London 'Daily Telegraph', Chalabi said he was willing to take full responsibility for the INC's role in providing misleading intelligence and defectors to President George W. Bush, Congress and the US public to persuade them that Hussein posed a serious threat to the United States that had to be dealt with urgently. The Telegraph reported that Chalabi merely shrugged off accusations his group had deliberately misled the administration. "We are heroes in error," he said. "As far as we're concerned, we've been entirely successful," he told the newspaper. "That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants." It was an amazing admission, and certain to fuel growing suspicions on Capitol Hill that Chalabi, whose INC received millions of dollars in taxpayer money over the past decade, effectively conspired with his supporters in and around the administration to take the United States to war on pretences they knew, or had reason to know, were false. Indeed, it now appears increasingly that defectors handled by the INC were sources for the most spectacular and detailed - if completely unfounded - information about Hussein's alleged WMD programmes, not only to US intelligence agencies, but also to US mainstream media, especially the 'New York Times', according to a recent report in the New York 'Review of Books'. Within the administration, Chalabi worked most closely with those who had championed his cause for a decade, particularly neo-conservatives around Cheney and Rumsfeld - Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Undersecretary of Defence Douglas Feith and Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby. Feith's office was home to the office of special plans (OSP) whose two staff members and dozens of consultants were tasked with reviewing raw intelligence to develop the strongest possible case that Hussein represented a compelling threat to the United States. OSP also worked with the defence policy board (DPB), a hand- picked group of mostly neo-conservative hawks chaired until just before the war by Richard Perle, a long-time Chalabi friend. DPB members, particularly Perle, former CIA director James Woolsey and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, played prominent roles in publicizing through the media reports by INC defectors and other alleged evidence developed by OSP that made Hussein appear as scary as possible. Chalabi even participated in a secret DPB meeting just a few days after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon in which the main topic of discussion, according to the 'Wall Street Journal', was how 9/11 could be used as a pretext for attacking Iraq. The OSP and a parallel group under Feith, the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, have become central targets of congressional investigators, according to aides on Capitol Hill, while unconfirmed rumours circulated here this week that members of the DPB are also under investigation. The question, of course, is whether the individuals involved were themselves taken in by what Chalabi and the INC told them or whether they were willing collaborators in distorting the intelligence in order to move the country to war for their own reasons. It appears that Chalabi, whose family, it was reported this week, has extensive interests in a company that has already been awarded more than 400 million dollars in reconstruction contracts, is signalling his willingness to take all of the blame, or credit, for the faulty intelligence. But one of the reasons for going to war was suggested quite directly by Garner - who also worked closely with Chalabi and the same cohort of US hawks in the run-up to the war and during the first few weeks of occupation - in an interview with 'The National Journal'. Asked how long US troops might remain in Iraq, Garner replied, "I hope they're there a long time," and then compared U.S. goals in Iraq to US military bases in the Philippines between 1898 and 1992. "One of the most important things we can do right now is start getting basing rights with (the Iraqi authorities)," he said. "And I think we'll have basing rights in the north and basing rights in the south ... we'd want to keep at least a brigade." "Look back on the Philippines around the turn of the 20th century: they were a coaling station for the navy, and that allowed us to keep a great presence in the Pacific. That's what Iraq is for the next few decades: our coaling station that gives us great presence in the Middle East," Garner added. While US military strategists have hinted for some time that a major goal of war was to establish several bases in Iraq, particularly given the ongoing military withdrawal from Saudi Arabia, Garner is the first to state it so baldly. Until now, US military chiefs have suggested they need to retain a military presence just to ensure stability for several years, during which they expect to draw down their forces. If indeed Garner's understanding represents the thinking of his former bosses, then the ongoing struggle between Cheney and the Pentagon on the one hand and the State Department on the other over how much control Washington is willing to give the United Nations over the transition to Iraqi rule becomes more comprehensible. Ceding too much control, particularly before a base agreement can be reached with whatever Iraqi authority will take over June 30, will make permanent US bases much less likely. -Dawn/The Inter Press News Service. End of casi-news Digest _______________________________________ Sent via the CASI-analysis mailing list To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-analysis All postings are archived on CASI's website at http://www.casi.org.uk