Friday, August 25, 2006

The road to Haditha: changing face of war
By George J. Bryjak
Originally published August 22, 2006

SAN DIEGO // On Nov. 19, 2005, a unit of Marines arrived at the Iraqi village of Haditha to remove the bodies of civilians reportedly killed by a roadside blast. What they found were infants, women and children shot in the face and chest and the body of a wheelchair-bound elderly man riddled with bullets.

A group of Marines are under criminal investigation that could lead to murder charges in the slayings of 24 civilians in the western Iraqi village. Like Abu Ghraib, Haditha has become synonymous with war atrocities, in this case an alleged act of retribution for the roadside bombing death of a fellow Marine. If the Marines are charged, it will be for a military court to determine their guilt or innocence. But some already have sought to explain what can never be condoned.

"Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood," Rep. John P. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat and former Marine Corps officer, contended based on his discussions with military officials.

While stress may have been a factor in that particular incident, the changing nature of war and the American military's response to those changes provide a history and context for the challenges confronting U.S. servicemen and women in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere today.

In the midst of World War II, U.S. Army Col. S.L.A. Marshall was given the task of determining whether battlefield soldiers were performing their primary duty: killing enemy combatants. He conducted individual and group interviews with more than 400 military companies fighting in Europe and the Pacific. To his surprise - and the horror of Pentagon officials - on average, only *15 percent of soldiers fired their weapons during the course of a battle, even when their lives were threatened.

As a consequence of revised boot camp training, Colonel Marshall later discovered that *50 percent of Korean War soldiers attempted to kill the enemy. That number increased to more than *90 percent by the Vietnam War. ***Convincing young recruits they must kill without hesitation has become an integral component of basic training.

***Killing is made easier when the enemy is *dehumanized, a psychological tactic virtually all armies use. ***no longer merits humane treatment and can be** killed without remorse. Capt. Jason Kostal, a former commander at Fort Benning's sniper school, stated: "We don't talk about 'Engage this person,' 'Engage that guy.' It's always **'Engage that target' ... You're not thinking, I wonder if that guy has three kids."

***Dehumanization is easier when the enemy is of a ***different racial, ethnic, religious or cultural group. In Iraq, as was the case in Vietnam, **our opponent differs on all of these counts.

Combat is stressful. However, in conventional conflicts such as World War II, the tension, anxiety, and mental fatigue of war are lessened somewhat between battles and by movement to relatively safe "behind-the-lines" zones. In Vietnam- and Iraq-type hostilities there are fewer safe zones. Enemy soldiers and combatants are elusive and often pose as civilians.

Military sociologist Charles Moskos notes that when insurgents are supported by the local populace, innocent civilians are likely to be viewed as the bad guys. "In these situations of extreme stress," he notes, "one can lose one's moral balance."
This is especially so when the next attack is unpredictable. And the prevalence of roadside bombs in the Iraq theater has enhanced the fight's unpredicatability.

The Marines charged in the Haditha killings have maintained that their actions fell within the rules of engagement. At one point, when the Marines believed they were under attack, they tossed grenades into a house and then entered firing, as they had been trained to do. That procedure makes sense in clearing bunkers on a traditional battlefield. But it's a highly questionable tactic if you're clearing houses in a village. Gen. Jack Keane, the former Army chief of staff, noted that although the United States fights "big wars" better than anyone, "we have no skills in counterinsurgency."

This **lack of counterinsurgency prowess, coupled with a **kind of on-the-job training needed to fight in Iraq, puts** additional pressure on troops, increasing the likelihood of Haditha-type incidents.

For some, what occurred in Haditha was a tragic yet unavoidable consequence of the "fog of war." To a certain extent, this may be true. But individual responsibility for these deaths cannot be dismissed.

No matter how difficult the military objective, how chaotic the field of battle, the wholesale killing of civilians can never be justified or excused. To absolve military personnel of any responsibility for their behavior is to** take the first step toward condoning war crimes.

George J. Bryjak, a former Marine, is a research associate in the department of sociology at the University of San Diego. His e-mail is

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Thursday, August 24, 2006


Iraqi Soldiers Thankful for Coalition Support

Iraqi Soldiers Thankful for Coalition Support
August 7, 2006
Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
TIKRIT — Coalition forces joined with their Iraqi army counterparts to do something all Soldiers like to do, fire weapons.Weapons firing was held for newly enlisted Iraqi soldiers, “the jundhi,” at Forward Operating Base Dagger and was planned and conducted solely by the Iraqi army.
Iraqi soldiers fire their weapons at Forward Operating Base Dagger, near Tikrit, Iraq. (MNF-I Photo)
“We mainly just provided them with a little input,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Barrick of the 101st Airborne Division. “We were there more as observers than anything.”Iraqi Army noncommissioned officers ran the range. Their U.S. counterparts helped set up targets and provided guidance and demonstrations, but it was an Iraqi-run operation. Members of the Iraqi army welcomed the critique. They were ready to learn more about firing their rifles.“I would like my soldiers to see your military culture and the experience of American Soldiers when it comes to shooting,” said Iraqi Army Capt. Nakeeb Saheed, an executive officer with the 4th Iraqi Army Division. “They want to see how highly experienced you are.”Many of the Iraqi Soldiers had little to no experience on a range. Despite the blistering 110-degree heat of an early July morning, these new Soldiers were eager to launch bullets down range.“It was a good range today,” said Jundhi Adnon Essan, who enlisted in the Iraqi Army only four months ago.The Soldiers were divided into two groups. One group fired while the other provided security for the range. Each Iraqi Soldier was issued one 30-round magazine. They fired 10 rounds each from the prone, kneeling and standing positions. This day’s training was just one more step in the Iraqi Army taking the lead in security for this area in northern Iraq. It’s an arrangement Nakeeb said he hopes to continue in the coming months. “Right now, we want to keep our friendship working for us,” Nakeeb said. “We appreciate everything you do for us.”
Nakeeb also hopes Coalition forces will help train his troops in urban warfare because it is a key task for the future of the Iraqi army. “All the combat now is in the cities,” Nakeeb said.As the firing ended and an after-action review was completed, Nakeeb expressed his appreciation to the U.S. Soldiers. He said he realized many of them were spending a year away from their homes and their families.“As an Iraqi officer, I would like to thank you for the great efforts you are doing for us,” Nakeeb said. “I appreciate the efforts and the sacrifices you are making.”U.S. Soldiers should take heart and know that the majority of Iraqis support their presence here, Nakeeb said. His people would be grateful forever for being freed from Saddam’s reign of terror.“When the Iraqi people see the American trucks, they would like to wave their hands, say ‘Hi’ and greet them,” Nakeeb said. “They are so scared if the terrorists see them that they will be killed or something bad will happen to their families. The Iraqi people love the Americans from their hearts and this is more important than waving their hands.”Barrick thanked the Iraqis for their support. He said he was sure they would win in the end. “We hope we don’t have to come back, and the Iraqi Army will keep the Iraqi people from living in fear,” Barrick said. “We hope Iraq is a place we come back and visit as a tourist, and not as an Army.”

Iraqi Army Assumes Responsibility

The Glass is Half-Full

6 August 2006

By Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
Commander, Multi-National Force – Iraq

This week Iraqis celebrated another significant advance toward their sovereign democracy. Today the 4th Iraqi Army Division assumed responsibility for operations from the American 101st Airborne Division. Half the Iraqi Army divisions are now in the lead for planning and controlling security operations in Iraq.

Although Iraqis still suffer horrendous brutality at the hands of death squads and terrorists, the strategic glass in Iraq is half-full. Now, after decades of dictatorship and oppression, Iraqis mark another milestone on their march to freedom and security self-reliance. Despite the efforts of those who would wrest newfound freedom from their grasp, the Iraqi people and their security forces continue to press inexorably forward. As Iraqi security forces stand up, their Coalition partners can stand down. Indeed, 4th Division’s assumption of responsibility for controlling counterinsurgency operations releases some Coalition forces to support operations elsewhere in the nation.

Gen. George W. Casey Jr. shakes the hand of an Iraqi Army Soldier as the Fourth Iraqi Army Division assumes security responsibility from the 101st Airborne Division. (Photo by MNF-I)

While there are still challenges ahead, the overall strategy for Iraq is working. Violence leads the headlines from Iraq, and threatens Iraq’s nascent democracy. But in the majority of Iraq’s provinces, peace and stability prevail. Last month, Muthanna was the first of Iraq’s provinces to accept responsibility for maintaining domestic security. Other provinces will join her soon. All across the country Iraqis are assuming the lead, gaining confidence, and asserting security self-reliance.

More than 275,000 Iraqi Soldiers and Police work every day protecting their nation. So far, 48 of 110 operating bases nationwide have been transferred to Iraqis.

This week, five Army divisions, 2,522 brigades and 85 battalions – more than half the planned number of Army units - lead security operations in Iraq. By year’s end, 325,000 trained and equipped members of Iraqi security forces will be serving their nation, more than 80 percent of Army units will be in the lead, nearly half the bases in Iraq, and at least half of Iraq’s provinces should be responsible for maintaining domestic law and order within their boundaries.

Fourth Iraqi Army Division headquarters’ assumption of security responsibility lead is one more step in the right direction.

Only Iraqis can achieve enduring strategic success in Iraq. And area by area, province by province, Iraqis are assuming responsibility for securing their country. Much has been achieved and much remains to be accomplished. Some may focus on the negative and claim that the road ahead is hard and long.

Nevertheless, this week, with the 4th Division’s achievement, it is beyond dispute that the Iraqi Army is more than half way to its goal of taking the lead in maintaining security for a free and democratic Iraq.



Medical teams educate, treat villagers

14 Aug. 2006

By Sgt. Nina J. Ramon

345th Mobile Pubic Affairs Detachment

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Coalition forces, to include the Bagram Cooperative Medical Assistance team and New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction team, conducted a joint medical civil action program July 22 to 29 in the Panjab and Waras districts of Bamyan Province.

During the visits to the Tarapass and Petabjoy valley systems, the combined team stopped at local medical centers before traveling to schools to provide medical support to villagers.

Navy Petty Officer Stephanie Baldanado, medical assistant, checks the heart rate of an elderly Afghan woman. The Bagram Cooperative Medical Assistance team conducted a joint medical civil action program with the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team in the Panjab and Waras Districts, Bamyan Province from July 22 to 29. Baldanado lives in San Diego Calif. (Photo by Sgt. Nina J. Ramon, 345th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

The medical centers visited included Panjab District Hospital, the biggest hospital in the area, and the Shinya Ashkarat Clinic of Basic Health Care.

“We provide training best needed for problems and concerns in the area,” said Army Maj. Anthony Littrell, CMA director from Samford, N.C. “The area is inaccessible nine months out of the year due to harsh weather conditions. Because of this, non-urgent cases can be treated at individual homes by community health workers.”

Coalition medical professionals spoke with the doctors and midwives, discussing ways to improve care in the area, particularly during the harsh seasons.

New Zealand team medics mentored community health workers to improve basic first-aid skills so community health workers can take those basic skills into the villages to educate the people and offer medical assistance.

“We are here to assess the health care needs of the local population – people who are not able to visits clinics,” said Littrell. “We’re also providing humanitarian aid supplies including hygiene, school and first-aid kits, along with vegetable oil and bags of beans, rice and salt.”

The medical teams also traveled to various schools, including the Tarapass and Binigaw schools, where local villagers received basic medical checkups and treatment. The team treated more than 5,500 patients over a three-day visit.

Along with treating villagers in each area, CMA team veterinarians vaccinated and de-wormed roughly 3,000 animals.

According to Army Maj. Jessica McCoy, the CMA team’s veterinarian from Wellesley, Mass., an average herd consists of 60 to 80 animals.

“Everything went smoothly,” said New Zealand Maj. Rob Francis, Kiwi team patrol commander. “The only thing that posed a challenge was the large number of people that showed up, which is a good problem to have.”


Seabees Construction in Iraq

9th Navy Construction Regiment Prepares for Turnover

17 Aug. 2006

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Daniel Sanford

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq - The 9th Navy Construction Regiment (NCR), the first reserve regimental headquarters to be deployed to Iraq under its own pennant, is due to rotate out of country within the next few weeks.

Over the course of its six-month deployment to Camp Fallujah, the 9th NCR provided command and control of four military engineering units, including Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCB) 25 and 40, the 9th Engineering Support Battalion and the 46th Engineering Combat Battalion.

Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Four Zero (NMCB-40) prepare a site for the construction of a bridge. NMCB-40 is one of four military engineering units that the 9th Navy Construction Regiment (NCR) has provided command and control for in Al Anbar, Iraq, during this six month deployment. The 9th NCR is completing their deployment as the first reserve regimental headquarters to be deployed to Iraq under its own pennant.(Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class John P. Curtis.)

"We've done projects throughout the Al-Anbar Province that are very diverse," said Navy Cmdr. Mark Bellis, 9th NCR's operations officer. "We created and built more than 40 combat outposts, rehabilitated more than 20 Iraqi police stations, repaired more than 650 road craters, and drilled two water wells that provide fresh water to Iraqi security forces camps.

"We've also done some maintenance all over the Al-Anbar Province, such as repairing concrete on runways and repairing electrical and water systems, both on and off base."

The regiment also designed and built more than 300 Southwest Asia Huts (SWAHuts). These 16-foot-by-32 foot plywood and aluminum-covered dwellings are now used extensively by Iraqi security and coalition forces.

However, according to Bellis, the most rewarding aspect of the job was the opportunity to train Iraqi army engineers and preparing them to one day be self-sufficient.

"We've taught them how to operate heavy equipment and use construction techniques so they can build their own camps for the Iraqi Army," said Bellis. "They've partnered with us for the past three months doing road repairs and providing security and force protection for various Iraqi army camps."

9th NCR's Command Master Chief (SCW) Bruce Blankenship agrees.

"The most satisfying job we've had is working for the Iraqis," he said. "We're building for them and will, one day, turn everything over to the Iraqis."

Being the first reserve unit to command a regiment was not difficult for the 9th regiment, mainly because of the quality of Sailor attached to the unit, said Blankenship.

"We have an outstanding group of people," he said. "Out here, nobody knows if you're active or reserve. My guys did a tremendous job carrying on after we turned over from the regiment that preceded us."

One of those Sailors, Builder 1st Class (SCW/FMF) John Wilkes, says his work with the 9th regiment was extremely rewarding.

"For me the defining moment is knowing that my part of the job is to make sure the material gets to our guys in a timely manner and brings them home quickly from behind the wire."

And behind the wire still lies one of the most dangerous places in the world. But the 9th NCR and its units ensured that the jobs were always completed.

"The Al-Anbar Province is a very dangerous place that requires due diligence, but we've still been able to do quite a bit of construction," said Bellis. "We've done a great job from the start and never missed a beat."


Airmen drive convoys from Kuwait to Interior of Iraq

Airmen risk their lives to make mission happen

August 17, 2006
By Staff Sgt. Ryan Hansen
386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – The mission they have is challenging, critical, grueling and worst of all, treacherous. Yet for more than two years now Airmen have been driving convoys for the Army on some of the most dangerous roads in the world.

From this sprawling Army camp to the border of Southern Iraq, all the way to the most Northern reaches of a country roughly the size of California, members of the 586th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron put their lives on the line every day for the mission.

These 300 plus hard-charging, combat Airmen of the 586th ELRS are assigned to one of two medium truck detachments – the 70th MTD or the 424th MTD. They provide the life blood to our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines at forward operating bases down range by delivering the band-aids, beans and bullets they need daily. Since January 2005 these transporters have driven more than 5.8 million miles in Iraq.

“I have an incredible amount of respect for what our troops do,” said Lt. Col. Jeanne Hardrath, 586th ELRS commander, who is deployed from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. “They’re highly motivated and take great pride in what they do everyday and it just blows me away. They are absolutely incredible.”

These Airmen arrived here for their six-month rotation immediately after attending a five-and-a-half week training course at Camp Bullis, Texas, which included live-fire training at Fort Hood, Texas, and another week-and-a-half validation course at Fort Sill, Okla. The two months of training, although long and physically demanding, was much needed. There they learned the skills they would need to accomplish the mission under the leadership and watchful eye of the Army.

“The training was very intense and very hard,” said Tech. Sgt. Greg Ryan, a convoy commander with the 424th MTD, who is deployed from Scott Air Force Base, Ill. “To go through something that, which was like basic training all over again, was an eye opener. But it was very important.”

The courses not only gave these Airmen invaluable training, it also helped them build a bond with each other. By the time they hit the AOR, they were a tightly knit unit. This is key because at some point they will have to rely on one another in a combat situation.

“Our lives depend on each other out here,” said Amn. Kyle Young, a vehicle operator with the 70th MTD, who is deployed from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. “We’re like a big family. When you’re out on the road for weeks with each other, we’ll have little feuds and stuff, but it’s just tough love. We’d do anything for each other.”

Convoy missions are not like your typical family road trips. They take days to plan, hours to load and weeks to complete. A short mission can last anywhere from one-to-two weeks while a long mission can take three weeks.

The person ultimately responsible for getting the supplies to their destination is the convoy commander, which is typically a master or technical sergeant. Not only is he or she charged with getting cargo down range, but they’re also responsible for the lives of more than 50 people.

“When you think about a convoy commander … they have an awesome amount of responsibility,” said Chief Master Sgt. Tony Killion, detachment chief for the 70th MTD, who is deployed from Scott Air Force Base, Ill. “They’re responsible for the lives about 15 crew members, another 30 civilian truck drivers and the gun trucks crews. It’s incredible.”

A typical set-up for a convoy is what Airmen here call a “five and two.” This includes seven up-armored, heavy-duty, long-haul trucks spread out among thirty or so “whites,” as the civilian tractor-trailers are known because of their white trucks.

Five of the trucks are loaded with supplies and mixed in with the rest of the convoy while two of the vehicles travel without trailers, known as “bobtails.”

One “bobtail” acts as the lead vehicle in the convoy. This truck is the tip of the spear and needs to be more maneuverable as its leading the convoy through Iraq. The second “bobtail” follows at the rear of the pack.

“I make sure the convoy stays intact and that everything is going smoothly,” said Tech. Sgt. Rob Wilson, an assistant convoy commander with the 424th MTD, who is deployed from Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

Airmen push their convoys anywhere from 12-to-20 hours a day to complete their mission. Keeping these trucks running smoothly after all the damage the pot-holed filled roads put on them is another challenge the squadron faces daily. The two dets both have dedicated maintenance troops to provide upkeep on the vehicles and every convoy that goes outside the wire includes one dedicated maintainer.

“Keeping these vehicles in working order can be pretty tough,” said Staff Sgt. Thomas Kessler, a vehicle maintenance troop with the 424th MTD, who is deployed from Sembach Air Base, Germany. “We don’t typically work on these types of trucks back home because they’re Army vehicles, so we got some hands-on training when we first get here. We run them pretty hard, but we do the best we can.”

Both detachments drive their convoys at night to offset the brutal desert heat and to minimize the number of unfriendlies on the road. At any point during their trip they may encounter something as inconvenient as civilians throwing rocks at their vehicles to the constant threat of small arms fire and the very real possibility that an improvised explosive device seemingly around every corner.

“An attack is always in the back of my mind,” said Tech. Sgt. Eric Lyke, a convoy commander with the 70th MTD, who is deployed from Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. “But my guys would rather be out there on the road doing the mission instead of here waiting for one.”

Besides the obvious challenges of keeping thirty plus vehicles together and safe on a 500 plus mile convoy, is quality sleep. At most FOBs Airmen have to stay in old, outdated tents that can’t be cooled. So after a long night on the road, they are forced to sleep in 100 plus degree heat before they hit asphalt once again.

“The tents at the FOBs are old and incredibly hot during the day,” said Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Malenic, detachment chief for 424th MTD, who is deployed from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. “After a long night on the road you just want to catch some sleep, but the heat is almost unbearable.”

Recently, the Army and Air Force started a joint project to improve the worst of these FOBs for the convoys. They’re currently sourcing and relocating new tents, air conditioning units and mattresses.

Mixed in with each convoy are two-to-three Army gun trucks. They typically lead the convoy through the pre-planned route, maneuvering it through intersections while providing an armed enforcer.

“It’s just the same as working with the Army for us, really business as usual” said Army Staff Sgt. Kenneth Green, a gun truck security commander with the Charlie 1/12. “The Air Force will push a little harder though. They’re more willing to drive longer and keep going to get the mission done.”

When the Air Force first started performing convoy missions for the Army there was an adjustment period for both services. But now after two years of proving themselves on daily basis, they are more than welcome by their sister service.

“They’re proud to do the mission and they should be because they do a great job,” said Army Lt. Col. Bill Thewes, Joint Logistics Task Force 57 commander, who has tactical control of the 586th ELRS. “Our overall objective is to make them feel like they’re part of our team and to make sure they have everything they need to do the job.”

“We’re really one team, one fight here,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Tabitha Hodge, JLTF 57 command sergeant major. “We don’t worry about what uniform they’re wearing, we’re very glad to have them.”

Most of these Airmen enjoy their job here even though danger potentially lurks around every twist and turn. They feel as though they are playing a key role in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“I don’t mind it,” said Senior Airman Rachael Cover, a vehicle operator with the 424th MTD, who is deployed from F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. “It makes me feel like an important part of the mission.”

“When we get back from a trip there’s a real sense of accomplishment,” Sergeant Ryan said. “We look at our brethren across the Air Force and we’re doing something here that they’ll never have the chance to do.”

“They’re very proud to do what they’re doing,” Chief Killion said. “But it’s a dangerous business for sure.”

A constant reminder of just how dangerous their job is can be found on the walls of their briefing facility. As the crews meet about 24 hours before departure, pictures of fallen Airmen and Soldiers that went out on a convoy mission but did not make it back are there with them. Although this rotation has not yet had to say goodbye to one of their teammates, they have witnessed to two Purple Heart ceremonies.

“Our goal is always to get everyone back here safely,” Chief Malenic said. “The days are long and the job is tough but we really look out for each other.”

No one is sure how long the Air Force will continue to help the Army with convoy missions, but regardless these two detachments will continue to perform their mission, and perform it well.

“If we don’t do our jobs, the mission suffers, and nobody does it better than us,” Colonel Hardrath said. “Our combat convoy Airmen make sacrifices to make the mission happen, they have great teamwork and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

When the war first started and Gene was on his first duty tour, this is what he did, ferrying supplies from Kuwait to the interior of Iraq as the front moved inland to Baghdad. Now they use airmen for the job.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Depleted Uranium -US Weapon Against Our Own Troops

Depleted Uranium for Dummies-


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Marines Capture Jill Carroll's Kidnappers

Darkhorse Marines Find, Capture Jill Carroll's Kidnappers

Marine Corps News Cpl. Mark Sixbey August 09, 2006Camp Habbaniyah, Iraq

- Editor’s note: Marines from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 captured three insurgents responsible for the kidnapping and detention of Jill Carroll, an American journalist for the Christian Science Monitor, May 19. Only now can the story of those who captured her kidnappers be told.

Jill Carroll’s kidnappers are now locked up.Marines captured four members of an insurgent kidnapping cell responsible for the kidnapping of American journalist Jill Carroll of the Christian Science Monitor.Marines of L Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment captured and detained three members May 19, in a small village west of Fallujah.

A fourth member of the same kidnapping cell was detained later by Marines of 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment. Both battalions operated as part of Regimental Combat Team 5. Carroll was held hostage by insurgent captors for 82 days between January and March 2006. “We went out west of Fallujah and went off key indicators and identified some specific things that led us to believe this was the place,” Cusack explained. “Based on what we’d seen, we knew we had a small window of time to get this guy.”

The next morning, Cusack rode with L Company’s personnel security detachment to return to search the house. They met enemy resistance on the way to the house. Two improvised explosive devices detonated near the convoy. “The lead vehicle got hit twice,” said Cpl. Estafanos Getahun, a scout-sniper with L Company PSD. “Getting there was more interesting than getting to the hit. It was beginning to look like a hard hit.”

Sgt. Jeff Bell, a platoon sergeant assigned to Headquarters Platoon, L Company, said he didn’t know the mission would make headlines when they made it to the house. “Once I set foot in the front door, I was told what was actually going on in the house,” said the 27-year-old from Littleton, Colo. Marines didn’t go in guns blazing. They talked the owner into allowing them into the house. It became clear; they were on target. Marines gathered the family into one room while Marines searched the remaining rooms for evidence of Carroll’s detention. Every corner, every drawer, every shelf was searched. “We methodically went room-to-room and searched the cupboards, pulled everything out,” Bell said. “If it was there, it got searched.”

Inside, they found a number of items that confirmed the identities of the insurgents, including incriminating documents and $3,600 in American paper currency. Marines had what they needed to take the three into custody. Still, they lingered. The three weren’t exhibiting any outward signs of nervousness, and Marines took a few minutes while several from their team were fixing the IED-damaged humvee.“We were still fixing a flat tire from the IED,” Cusack said. “As soon as it was fixed we put everything together.”

“While the Marines were fixing it, people thought it was a normal thing they were doing,” said Getahun, 27, from Las Vegas. “It gave them some peace, because they thought it was a different thing. Then they arrested them.” “As we were leaving, we said, ‘You’re coming with us,’” Cusack said. Marines didn’t realize until a couple weeks later the significance of their seizure of the kidnappers. They took in those responsible for targeting an American for kidnapping and also found out that they were key members of a cell responsible for local attacks against Marines.

“A couple weeks later on we heard they were connected to some cells that were setting IEDs and firing rockets in the area,” Getahun said. “It did help us secure the route to Habbaniyah.”“It’s a pretty good feeling knowing you got the guys who did such a horrible thing,” Bell said. “Hopefully it keeps that particular cell from repeating the kidnappings. Hopefully we can kind of quell that with this huge cell getting taken down and the other guys take note of that, knowing there’s nowhere to hide.”

Cusack said although the Darkhorse battalion arrested numerous insurgents during their seven months in Iraq, this raid held special meaning.“We detained lots of bad guys over here, lots of kidnappers,” he said. “But this one connects with an American, someone people back home knew about. That makes it satisfying to have that direct connection to something people can relate to.” Marines from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment have since redeployed to the United States, finishing a seven-month deployment to Iraq.

Copyright 2006 Marine Corps News. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of
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The War Hawks Get a Second Bite From Troops

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Army Recalling Troops to Iraq
Associated Press August 15, 2006WASHINGTON
- About 300 Alaska-based Soldiers sent home from Iraq just before their unit's deployment was extended last month must now go back, the Army said Monday, setting up a wrenching departure for troops and families who thought their service there was finished.

The Soldiers - all from the 172nd Stryker Brigade - are among the close to 380 troops who had gotten home to Fort Wainwright and to Fort Richardson when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld ordered the unit to serve four more months. The remaining 80 will not have to return to Iraq.

Army officials sent a team of personnel and pay experts to Alaska to help sort out all of the Soldiers' vacations, school enrollments and other plans torn apart by the decision to return them to Iraq. The unit is now being stationed in Baghdad, one of the most violent parts of the country.
Maj. Gen. Charles Jacoby, commander of U.S. Army Alaska, said 301 Soldiers will be returning to Iraq, and most are either infantry troops or cavalry scouts needed for the Baghdad mission.
"From a military standpoint, it makes all the sense in the world," said Jacoby, speaking to Pentagon reporters from Alaska, where he was surrounded by a few Soldiers and family members affected by the decision. "The brigade needs these Soldiers back."

Mary Cheney - no relation to the vice president - was sitting nearby and said she wasn't happy when she learned her husband, Staff Sgt. Anthony Cheney, would be in Iraq for another four months. But she said she knew when she married him that things like this could happen.
"I would never question his dedication to his career," said Cheney, who had a baby just a few weeks ago and has three other children. "His heart is with his family, but his mind and his dedication" are with his extended family of fellow Soldiers.

The bulk of the 172nd Brigade was still in Iraq when Rumsfeld extended their deployment as part of a plan to quell the escalating violence in Baghdad. Overall, the brigade has about 3,900 troops.

Another 300 Soldiers from the unit had left Iraq and gotten to Kuwait, and were about to board flights home when they were called back.
Before Monday's announcement, the troops who had already returned home to Alaska had been told that decisions on their fates would be made on a case-by-case basis.
Army officials said they recalled just one other time during the three-year-long Iraq war when the Pentagon so quickly recalled Soldiers who had served a year on the battlefront and gotten home.
Other units have had their deployments extended anywhere from a week or two to a few months.

The 300 Soldiers recalled from Alaska on Monday got to spend between three and five weeks at home, and will head back to Iraq in the next week or so. Most of the brigade is expected to leave Iraq by the end of the year, although Army spokesman Paul Boyce said Monday there are no assurances the unit's stay will not be extended again.
A second extension, however, would be very rare.

For some, the return to Iraq may mean they will miss the holidays or much-anticipated vacations. For others, it means rescheduling military or civilian college classes, or postponing long-planned moves out of state or to different Army units.

Soldiers who serve more than 365 days on the warfront will receive $1,000 more per month - $800 for incentive pay and $200 for additional hazardous duty pay.

Last week eight Army officials went to Alaska to meet with the Soldiers and their families to work out scheduling conflicts and other problems brought on by the sudden change. Hotlines also have been set up to assist family members.

About 50 of the approximately 80 Soldiers who do not have to return to Iraq were the advance team that headed back to Alaska early to prepare for the unit's return. They will stay in Alaska and plan for the unit's eventual return late this year.

The other 30 or so included Soldiers who were not sent back for a variety of reasons, including medical conditions, school requirements or emergency leave.

Sectarian violence has rocked Baghdad, bringing it to what some believe is the brink of civil war. In response, U.S. and Iraqi military leaders have shifted thousands of troops into Baghdad, targeting four critical regions wracked by attacks between Sunni insurgents and Shiite extremists.

The new offensive has driven the number of U.S. troops in Iraq up to 135,000 - reversing a trend of declining personnel levels that had begun earlier this year. And, the increased level dampens hopes of a significant withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of the year, just as members of Congress returned to their home districts to voters growing increasingly weary of the war.
Rumsfeld must approve any deployment that is longer than a year on the ground in Iraq.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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Friday, August 18, 2006


AlterNet: Fox guest promotes Yellow Stars for Jews

Fox News Contrib. advocates separate queue for Muslims.

Fox guest promotes Yellow Stars for Jews

But just for safety

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Medical and Veterinarian aid to Afghanis

TF Warrior brings medical aid to Afghan villages

7 August 2006

By Capt. Lawrence Sekajipo
2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment

ZABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Coalition and Afghan doctors conducted a three-day village medical outreach operation in July, offering much needed medical aid to various villages in Northern Deh Chopan District, Zabul province.

The 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Warrior, out of Fort Polk, La., together with a medical and veterinary team from the 94th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, Echo Company also out of Fort Polk, conducted the VMO.

Army Spc. Melissa Hykes and Army Staff Sgt. Elena Varela, both with the 94th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, Echo Company, administers de-worming medication to animals during a village medical outreach operation in the village of Larzab, Deh Chopan District recently. The VMO team treated animals and distributed enough de-worming medication for nearly 430 animals. The de-worming medication was to facilitate the fight against worms, one of the most common sicknesses for animals in the province. (Photo by Pfc. Kyle Nelson)

Security for this operation was provided by the Afghan National Army and Creek Company, TF Warrior combat team.

The medical team treated approximately 450 Afghans in Larzab and 160 in Baylough. The veterinarian team treated nearly 430 farm animals and distributed de-worming medication to all of them. It has been known that animals in this area are susceptible to worms, which could cause a serious threat if not controlled.

A number of family humanitarian aid packages, toys, shoes and clothing were distributed by a civil affairs team during this VMO. The humanitarian aid supplies were donated by friends and family members of the Soldiers. Reebok International also donated sneakers to TF Warrior mainly to be distributed to the children of Afghanistan.

The two villages sit in a mountainous and rugged terrain only accessible by foot or helicopter, making it difficult for residents to seek medical assistance.

Local leaders and elders have expressed their medical concerns to government officials, such as Zabul Governor Delbar Arman. With a population of approximately 5,000 and a low number of doctors available, the residents of these two villages hope that VMOs are conducted more frequently. (should have a source; assertion without attribution)

Currently, the nearest hospital for these residents is approximately 13 hours away in Qalat City, which makes it almost impossible at times to take care of medical emergencies.

“The locals seriously need medical care in this area. They trusted and sought our care. We are happy to provide whatever care we can,” said Army Capt. Yuri O. Rivera, physician assistant with TF Warrior. “It was a good turnout even though this is a known Taliban sanctuary.”

During a local Shura or village meeting, 75 local village leaders addressed their needs to improve roads, schools and clinics to government officials and Coalition forces present.

This Shura was hosted by Deh Chopan District Chief Anwar Jan, Afghan National Army Col. Abdul Razak Safi with the 2nd Brigade of the 205th Hero Corps, and TF Warrior Commander Army Lt. Col. Frank Sturek.

To improve the area, ANA soldiers and Creek Company Soldiers are currently working on establishing a forward operating base, which will be used by the ANA to assist Zabul residents.
According to TF Warrior officials, 12 VMOs in seven of the 12 districts have been conducted since March of 2006. Their medical team has treated approximately 3,100 Afghans. Their dental team has treated over 120 patients and conducted 15 tooth extractions. The optometry team has treated 300 patients, and the veterinarian team has treated 3,300 animals.

Deliver Bombs to destroy them, then send aid to help them.

Humanitarian Aid Reaches Lebanon

9 August 2006

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael B. W. Watkins

BEIRUT, Lebanon - U.S. Navy High Speed Vessel Two Swift (HSV 2) delivered more than 100 tons of humanitarian aid to Beirut, Lebanon.

More than $2 million of relief was donated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and, with the help of the Islamic Relief Organization (IRO), was immediately disbursed to approximately 20,000 needy Lebanese citizens.

Chief Boatswain's Mate Ty Ehlers supervises forklift operations during offload operations in Beirut, Lebanon. More than 100,000 tons of humanitarian aid was delivered by the U.S. Navy's High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2), August 4, 2006. More than $2 million worth of humanitarian aid was donated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and with the help of Islamic Relief Organization, will be disbursed to approximately 20,000 Lebanese citizens. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael B.W. Watkins.)

Diana Sufian, an independent project coordinator, brought the IRO and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints together for the coordinated relief effort.

“We’re true humanitarians,” said Sufian. “We’re reaching out feeding the children who are hungry.”
Sufian expressed her gratitude for the U.S. Navy’s support and interest in delivering the supplies.
“I want to put America’s face on this,” said Sufian. “I want the whole world to see that America cares, and see what these brave men and women in uniform are doing out here.”

Swift’s commanding officer Cmdr. Rob Morrison was humbled by the experience and said he was grateful to be able to help. “It’s an honor to be a part of this,” he said. “I have an outstanding crew and I am very proud of them for the work they’ve done here in the last few days.”

Wednesday, August 16, 2006



Coalition Forces Visit Orphanage to Lift Spirits
July 28, 2006
Story by Spc. L.C. Campbell138th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

MOSUL – Soldiers from 3rd Platoon, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team visited an orphanage in Mosul, Iraq July 10, bringing gifts for the children.
During a regular patrol through the city, 3rd Plt. stopped at a local orphanage to drop off soccer balls and other gifts that were donated. Some of the donations came from Forward Operating Base Marez and other donations were made by individuals back in the states.
Soldiers from 3rd Platoon, C Company, 2nd battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team visited several Iraqi schools and an Iraqi orphanage on July 8. These Soldiers adopted one of the schools to help renovate and re-supply with educational goods. The Soldiers dropped off soccer balls and other goodies at the orphanage. (Photo by Spc. L.C. Campbell)
“Our interpreter found out about the orphanage, and started asking people about where it was,” said 2nd Lt. Steven Stock, platoon leader, 3rd Plt, Co C, 2nd Bn., 1st Inf. Rgt., 172nd SBCT. “When we found the orphanage there was approximately 43 kids of all age groups.”
According to Sgt. 1st Class Eric Olson, platoon sergeant, 3rd Plt, Co C, 2nd Bn., 1st Inf. Rgt., 172nd SBCT, they like working with the children of Iraq because they are the future. It is important to make a good impression on the children, so they can understand what Coalition Forces are trying to do.
“Working with the elders, from what I have experienced is that they are more stubborn and more set in their ways,” said Stock. “The children seem to be a bit free flowing and more willing to accept gifts from Coalition Forces. The elders seem to be not as accepting when we try to give them gifts.”
According to Stock and Olsen, the gifts the children are receiving include soccer balls, stuffed animals, coloring books, and pencils and crayons. It was brought to their attention that some of these children are not attending school, so they tried to donate some educational items to help some of the children learn.
“The city of Mosul came together for us and the Iraqi Media Network did a story for us on the orphanage,” said Olson. “We returned after the IMN broadcast to find a lot of pledges from the Iraqi people. The orphanage had a new stove, and the IMN station manager said there were a lot of people volunteering to help the orphanage.”


New hospital to treat detainees, Soldiers
August 3, 2006
MNF-I Article

CAMP CROPPER, Iraq — A medical task force responsible for providing health care to both detainees and Soldiers opened a new hospital near Baghdad International Airport July 30. Fresh from New Orleans, where the unit provided Hurricane Katrina disaster relief in October 2005, the 21st Combat Support Hospital from Fort Hood, Texas arrived in Iraq in May. The medics first set up shop at Abu Ghraib then moved medical equipment, supplies and patient records to the new Camp Cropper Theater Internment Facility here earlier this month.
Army Maj. Gen. Jack Gardner, Task Force 134 commanding general, the group in charge of detainee operations in Iraq, speaks to medical personnel from Task Force 21 during the opening of a new hospital at Camp Cropper Theater Internment Facillity near Baghdad International Airport July 30. Department of Defense photo by Chief Petty Officer Tony Sisti.

“Moving everything in the best of environments would be painful, but you made this move in Iraq from Abu Ghraib under extremely challenging circumstances,” said Maj. Gen. Jack Gardner, Commanding General of Task Force 134. “Your mission is critical to detention operations. It is an honor for me to be here today to watch you open this new hospital,” he said.The hospital provides a full range of inpatient care, including emergency medicine, general and orthopedic surgery, hospitalization to include critical care, nutritional care, laboratory, radiology, pharmacy and long-term rehabilitation.“The mission is unchanged, to provide the highest quality care to the detainees,” said Col. Jeff Clark, Task Force 21 commander. “Now we have new facilities that are safer, cleaner and easier to maintain,” he said.In addition to the hospital, TF 21 is comprised of Soldiers from the 601st Area Support Medical Company, 134th Ground Ambulance Company and 20 Romanian medical professionals. “Support to the medical mission comes from Soldiers in the maintenance, communications, supply, administrative and operational fields,” said Lt. Col. Paula Lodi, TF 21 executive officer. “Teamwork is key, and the entire staff stresses continuity of care. We all respect the challenge, uniqueness and importance of this mission.”
Last Updated ( Thursday, 03 August 2006 )


Parwan government, Bagram PRT build ‘bridge to future’
27 July 2006
By Maj. David Kurle455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

NAWAJ, PARWAN PROVINCE , Afghanistan – In the culmination of more than a year’s efforts, the Parwan deputy governor cut the ribbon on a bridge July 11 in the northern part of this province connecting Afghans to their country.
The new bridge spans a river in the mountains and was built with the future in mind as it accommodates both foot and vehicle traffic. It will connect 600 to 700 families in mountain villages to a main highway and, by extension, to the rest of Afghanistan.
Two Afghan men on crutches cross a newly constructed bridge linking the village of Nawaj and other mountain villages to a main road in Parwan Province. The bridge, an initiative of the Parwan government and supported by the Bagram Provincial Reconstruction team is the first step in a transportation and flood control project for this area of Parwan. (Photo by Air Force Maj. David Kurle, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs)
“This is a very great day,” said Parwan Deputy Governor Gulam Sedeeq Sedeeq as he cut the ribbon to open the bridge. “Now that you have this bridge you have to make sure the bridge is maintained. You must take care of it.”
The bridge is part of a bigger project that will provide a transportation system and flood control in this mountainous region. The initiative is part of the National Solidarity Program, a reconstruction movement by the people of Afghanistan to rebuild after decades of war.
The new bridge, made from concrete and steel, replaced a footbridge where two people were killed last year, said Deputy Governor Sedeeq. It will provide a safe route for village children to travel back and forth to school.
“The people of this village, from the Jihad to the resistance of the Taliban, have been through a lot of hardships,” he said. “Of course it benefits the students, because they can now get to class on time.”
The Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team, led by Air Force Lt. Col. Donald Koehler, oversaw the contract on the project and organized the $38,000 in funding to complete it.
“The people of Nawaj are the reason this is here and this is their bridge,” Koehler said. “This bridge is a bridge to the future that will connect them with greater access to medical care and markets for their goods.”
There are 12 PRTs in Afghanistan , which perform security, governmental interfacing with the provincial governors, and lead the reconstruction efforts in their assigned province. Six of the teams are led by the Air Force, which became involved this year when the Army asked for help.
“Today’s the conclusion to a long process of opening this bridge,” said Army Capt. Don Johnson, the PRT member in charge of the bridge project. “It’s just one step in rebuilding the infrastructure in the Parwan Province. “It just shows the people their government still looks out for them. ‘


New Iraqi Command Opens
27 July 2006
Story by Multi-National Force - Iraq
BAGHDAD — The Iraqi Training and Doctrine Command officially opened in a ceremony at the Cultural Center Compound in Baghdad Tuesday. The ITDC now has the ability and sufficient resources to oversee all Iraqi national defense related education and military doctrine development.
Troops stand at attention during the ceremony. (Photo by Multi-National Force - Iraq)
This is an important milestone as Iraq progresses toward its goal of being fully operable by July 2007, said Gen. Babakir Badir Khan Zebari, Iraqi Joint Forces commander.“Compared to the activities of insurgents and terrorists who try to plant death and destruction in every part of Iraq, our government pursues a project of national reconciliation and the army builds the training and educational infrastructure and the foundations for Iraqi military doctrine that army personnel have desired for a long time,” said the general.“A modern and developed Doctrine coordinated with our national vision and interests helps create a culture for national security,” he said.Subordinate organizations such as the Iraqi Tactical Doctrine Center and the Iraqi Lessons Learned Center have already achieved operational status and the Iraqi Defense Language Institute recently graduated its first students and will achieve operational status by the end of 2006. Assisting Iraqis in establishing the ITDC has been one of NATO’s most important projects since the NATO Training Mission - Iraq started in 2004. NTM-I has until now led the development of the ITDC, but will gradually reduce its role to advising and mentoring.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


VFA Alert: Congress to Spend Billions on Pork While Shortchanging the Troops

Charles Sheehan-Miles at Veterans for America <> wrote:
Date: Wed, 9 Aug 2006 16:03:54 -0400 (EDT)
From: Charles Sheehan-Miles at Veterans for America
Subject: VFA Alert: Congress to Spend Billions on Pork While Shortchanging the Troops


In this morning's USA Today, reporter Gregg Zoroya drops a nuclear bomb on how Congress has their priorities dead wrong when it comes to our soldiers and veterans:

"Congress appears ready to slash funding for the research and treatment of brain injuries caused by bomb blasts, an injury that military scientists describe as a signature wound of the Iraq war" from $14 million to $7 million.

According to this article, funding was just too tight to help our wounded warriors. "Honestly, they would have loved to have funded it, but there were just so many priorities," says Jenny Manley, spokeswoman for the Senate Appropriations Committee. "They didn't have any flexibility in such a tight fiscal year."

In contrast, there was enough taxpayer money so that both the House and the Senate can spend more than $550 million for research into the new VH-71 Presidential Helicopter Fleet.

VFA asks you to take action right now to help our soldiers and veterans who need medical research and treatment for traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Take action today and alert the press that Congress went AWOL while our wounded warriors need urgent medical research and care for TBI.

Take action today by sending a letter to the editor

The scope of the problem is devastating. According to the Brain Injury Center, as many as 10% of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan face traumatic brain injury or concussion, USA Today reports. Based on the 1.5 million service members who deployed to the Global War on Terror in Iraq or Afghanistan, that means up to 150,000 of our service members are at risk for serious TBI that often causes permanent brain damage.

Take action today by sending a letter to the editor

Congress needs to get their priorities straight: TBI research now can lead to more effective treatments that are less-expensive in the long-term. This is better for our soldiers and for taxpayers. Instead of a vacation, Congress should be finding ways to provide medical treatment for our Nation's most important military asset, our troops on the front lines during war.

Take action today by sending a letter to the editor

Thank you for your support of our work, and for doing what you can to help Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Charles Sheehan-Miles
Associate Director
Veterans for America

Veterans for America
1025 Vermont Ave NW 7th Floor
Washington, DC 20005


War Crimes and Consequences - by Dahr Jamail

Click the following to access the sent link:
War Crimes and Consequences - by Dahr Jamail*
Get your EMAIL THIS Browser Button and use it to email information from any Web site.

*This article can also be accessed if you copy and paste the entire address below into your web browser.


An International Outcry to Charge BushCo with War Crimes

Bush Admin plays CYA - to protect the guilty, including themselves. (CYA= Cover Your Ass)

War Crimes Act Changes Would Reduce Threat Of Prosecution

By R. Jeffrey Smith

The Bush administration has drafted amendments to a war crimes law that would eliminate the risk of prosecution for political appointees, CIA officers and former military personnel for humiliating or degrading war prisoners, according to U.S. officials and a copy of the amendments.

To view the entire article, go to

� 2002 - 2006 The Washington Post Company

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Interesting article on

Article on
Iraq war's hidden toll: civilians killed accidentally by U.S. troops


US Troops refuse to testify

Troops accused of killing unarmed, bound civilians refuse to testify

See posts below.

Deliberate Cover up?

Marines may have deliberately killed unarmed, bound Iraqis

See:" Officers pushed kill counts" post below

Are Depleted Uranium Weapons Sickening U.S. Troops?



Article Title: Are Depleted Uranium Weapons Sickening U.S. Troops?

"The Department of Defense takes the position that you can eat it for breakfast and it poses no threat at all," said Steve Robinson of the National Gulf War Resource Center, which helps veterans with various problems, including navigating the labyrinth of VA health care. "Then you have far-left groups that ... declare it a crime against humanity." -- Robinson now serves as Director of Government Relations at Veterans for America.

NEW YORK - It takes at least 10 minutes and a large glass of orange juice to wash down all the pills - morphine, methadone, a muscle relaxant, an antidepressant, a stool softener. Viagra for sexual dysfunction. And Valium for his nerves.

Four hours later, Herbert Reed will swallow another 15 mg of morphine to cut the pain clenching every part of his body. He will do it twice more before the day is done.

Since he left a bombed-out train depot in Iraq, his gums bleed. There is more blood in his urine, and still more in his stool. Bright light hurts his eyes. A tumor has been removed from his thyroid. Rashes erupt everywhere, itching so badly they seem to live inside his skin. Migraines cleave his skull. His joints ache, grating like door hinges in need of oil.

There is something massively wrong with Herbert Reed, though no one is sure what it is. He believes he knows the cause, but he cannot convince anyone caring for him that the military's new favorite weapon has made him terrifyingly sick.

In the sprawling bureaucracy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, he has many caretakers. An internist, a neurologist, a pain-management specialist, a psychologist, an orthopedic surgeon and a dermatologist.

He cannot function without his stupefying arsenal of medications, but they exact a high price.

"I'm just a zombie walking around," he says.

Reed believes depleted uranium has contaminated him and his life. He now walks point in a vitriolic war over the Pentagon's arsenal of it - thousands of shells and hundreds of tanks coated with the metal that is radioactive, chemically toxic, and nearly twice as dense as lead.

A shell coated with depleted uranium pierces a tank like a hot knife through butter, exploding on impact into a charring inferno. As tank armor, it repels artillery assaults. It also leaves behind a fine radioactive dust with a half-life of 4.5 billion years.

Depleted uranium is the garbage left from producing enriched uranium for nuclear weapons and energy plants. It is 60 percent as radioactive as natural uranium. The U.S. has an estimated 1.5 billion pounds of it, sitting in hazardous waste storage sites across the country. Meaning it is plentiful and cheap as well as highly effective.

Reed says he unknowingly breathed DU dust while living with his unit in Samawah, Iraq. He was med-evaced out in July 2003, nearly unable to walk because of lightning-strike pains from herniated discs in his spine. Then began a strange series of symptoms he'd never experienced in his previously healthy life.

At Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C, he ran into a buddy from his unit. And another, and another, and in the tedium of hospital life between doctor visits and the dispensing of meds, they began to talk.

"We all had migraines. We all felt sick," Reed says. "The doctors said, 'It's all in your head.' "

Then the medic from their unit showed up. He too, was suffering. That made eight sick soldiers from the 442nd Military Police, an Army National Guard unit made up of mostly cops and correctional officers from the New York area.

But the medic knew something the others didn't.

Dutch marines had taken over the abandoned train depot dubbed Camp Smitty, which was surrounded by tank skeletons, unexploded ordnance and shell casings. They'd brought radiation-detection devices.

The readings were so hot, the Dutch set up camp in the middle of the desert rather than live in the station ruins.

"We got on the Internet," Reed said, "and we started researching depleted uranium."

Then they contacted The New York Daily News, which paid for sophisticated urine tests available only overseas.

Then they hired a lawyer.

Reed, Gerard Matthew, Raymond Ramos, Hector Vega, Augustin Matos, Anthony Yonnone, Jerry Ojeda and Anthony Phillip all have depleted uranium in their urine, according to tests done in December 2003. For months during that time, they bounced between Walter Reed and New Jersey's Fort Dix medical center, seeking relief that never came.

The analyses were done in Germany, by a Frankfurt professor who developed a depleted uranium test with Randall Parrish, a professor of isotope geology at the University of Leicester in Britain.

The veterans, using their positive results as evidence, have sued the U.S. Army, claiming officials knew the hazards of depleted uranium, but concealed the risks.

The Department of Defense says depleted uranium is powerful and safe, and not that worrisome.

Four of the highest-registering samples from Frankfurt were sent to the VA. Those results were negative, Reed said. "Their test just isn't as sophisticated," he said. "And when we first asked to be tested, they told us there wasn't one. They've lied to us all along."

The VA's testing methodology is safe and accurate, the agency says. More than 2,100 soldiers from the current war have asked to be tested; only eight had DU in their urine, the VA said.

The term depleted uranium is linguistically radioactive. Simply uttering the words can prompt a strong reaction. Heads shake, eyes roll, opinions are yelled from all sides.

"The Department of Defense takes the position that you can eat it for breakfast and it poses no threat at all," said Steve Robinson of the National Gulf War Resource Center, which helps veterans with various problems, including navigating the labyrinth of VA health care. "Then you have far-left groups that ... declare it a crime against humanity."

Several countries use it as weaponry, including Britain, which fired it during the 2003 Iraq invasion.

An estimated 286 tons of DU munitions were fired by the U.S. in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991. An estimated 130 tons were shot toppling Saddam Hussein.

Depleted uranium can enter the human body by inhalation, the most dangerous method; by ingesting contaminated food or eating with contaminated hands; by getting dust or debris in an open wound, or by being struck by shrapnel, which often is not removed because doing so would be more dangerous than leaving it.

Inhaled, it can lodge in the lungs. As with imbedded shrapnel, this is doubly dangerous - not only are the particles themselves physically destructive, they emit radiation.

A moderate voice on the divisive DU spectrum belongs to Dan Fahey, a doctoral student at the University of California at Berkeley, who has studied the issue for years and also served in the Gulf War before leaving the military as a conscientious objector.

"I've been working on this since '93 and I've just given up hope," he said. "I've spoken to successive federal committees and elected officials ... who then side with the Pentagon. Nothing changes."

At the other end are a collection of conspiracy-theorists and Internet proselytizers who say using such weapons constitute genocide. Two of the most vocal opponents recently suggested that a depleted-uranium missile, not a hijacked jetliner, struck the Pentagon in 2001.

"The bottom line is it's more hazardous than the Pentagon admits," Fahey said, "but it's not as hazardous as the hard-line activist groups say it is. And there's a real dearth of information about how DU affects humans."

Reed and the seven brothers from his unit hate what has happened to them, and they speak of it at public seminars and in politicians' offices. It is something no VA doctor can explain; something that leaves them feeling like so many spent shell rounds, kicked to the side of battle.

But for every outspoken soldier like them, there are silent veterans like Raphael Naboa, an Army artillery scout who served 11 months in the northern Sunni Triangle, only to come home and fall apart.

Some days he feels fine. "Some days I can't get out of bed," he said from his home in Colorado.

Now 29, he's had growths removed from his brain. He has suffered a small stroke - one morning he was shaving, having put down the razor to rinse his face. In that moment, he blacked out and pitched over.

"Just as quickly as I lost consciousness, I regained it," he said. "Except I couldn't move the right side of my body."

After about 15 minutes, the paralysis ebbed.

He has mentioned depleted uranium to his VA doctors, who say he suffers from a series of "non-related conditions." He knows he was exposed to DU.

"A lot of guys went trophy-hunting, grabbing bayonets, helmets, stuff that was in the vehicles that were destroyed by depleted uranium. My guys were rooting around in it. I was trying to get them out of the vehicles."

No one in the military talked to him about depleted uranium, he said. His knowledge, like Reed's, is self-taught from the Internet.

Unlike Reed, he has not gone to war over it. He doesn't feel up to the fight. There is no known cure for what ails him, and so no possible victory in battle.

He'd really just like to feel normal again. And he knows of others who feel the same.

"I was an artillery scout, these are folks who are in pretty good shape. Your Rangers, your Special Forces guys, they're in as good as shape as a professional athlete," he said. "Then we come back and we're all sick."

They feel like men who once were warriors and now are old before their time, with no hope for relief from a multitude of miseries that has no name.

Please visit Veterans for America at

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