Saturday, October 27, 2007

Not worth another soldier's life

By Edward Copeland

"They just know back there what the higher-ups here tell them. But the higher-ups don't go anywhere, and actually they only go to the safe places, places with a little bit of gunfire. They don't ever [expletive] see what we see on the ground."

-- Staff Sgt. Richard McClary

The Washington Post today has an illuminating story about a U.S. Army division who has spent 14 months on the ground doing, what they eventually realized, was little more than helping sectarian cleansing in the town of Sadiyah:

"When we first got here, all the shops were open. There were women and children walking out on the street," Sgt. Victor Alarcon said this week. "The women were in Western clothing. It was our favorite street to go down because of all the hot chicks."

That was 14 long months ago, when the soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, arrived in southwestern Baghdad. It was before their partners in the Iraqi National Police became their enemies and before Shiite militiamen, aligned with the police, attempted to exterminate a neighborhood of middle-class Sunni families.

The story shows a rare, on-the-record glimpse from the people in the line of fire, who have the best view of what a nightmare our occupation of Iraq has become, who can tell it as it is free of Dubyaland spin. The division is more nervous than usual as their tour of duty nears its finish:

"The closer we get to leaving, the more we worry about it," said Alarcon, 27, sitting at a plastic table with several other soldiers outside their outpost in Sadiyah. "Being here, you know that any second, any time of the day, your life could be over."

The realization that they are actually acting as proxies for the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government to cleanse areas of Sunnis have left the soldiers bitter and cynical:

"It's just a slow, somewhat government-supported sectarian cleansing," said Maj. Eric Timmerman, the battalion's operations officer.

Sgt. Alarcon summed up the feelings of the battalion, which has lost 20 soldiers in its mission, best:

"I don't think this place is worth another soldier's life."

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

<< Home