March 26, 2003

Casualty Reports and Murkiness in

Casualty Reports and Murkiness in Safwan

Alarming story in tomorrow IHT. Per my post below entitled "The Najaf Battle" it appears something fishy is going on with regard to coalition reports on allied casualty figures:

General Brooks declined to comment on the number of United States casualties in the war and explicitly said the military would not provide numbers. "As a matter of practice, we just aren't going to announce numbers of casualties," he said. [Brooks is deputy commander of operations based in Qatar].

That's certainly not a positive development and I'm hoping Vincent Brooks made a mistake when he said the above. The U.S. people need to know what is going on on the battlefield. We're adults, we can handle the difficult truths, transparency is critical. I am getting a nagging feeling that casualties are significantly higher than we are aware at this juncture.

He goes on: "The practices that have been conducted by these paramilitaries, by these others who are out there sometimes in uniform, sometimes not in uniform, are more akin to the behaviors of global terrorists than they are to a nation," General Brooks said.

Well sure. But as I've said before, no one thought Saddam was going to play by Marquess of Queensbury rules. There will be feigned surrenders, soldiers in civilians garb, all manners of ambushes--in a word, brutal guerilla warfare. But, apropos this discussion, that Brooks would say this, with apparent frustration, indicates to me that we've lost more than 20 odd GI's over the past six days.

And, sorry to be so damn gloomy (this article really got to me) but check this out:

"In Safwan, close to the border with Kuwait, reporters said food was distributed in a chaotic scene in which local residents chanted their support for Mr. Hussein even as they collected boxes of goods. Scores of Iraqis scrambled into the backs of three trucks driven over the border by the Kuwait Red Crescent Society. Some 21,000 meals were packed into the convoy, including bread, flour, tea, water and cooking oil.

"With our blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you, Saddam," a group of Iraqis were reported to chant."

Safwan? Shi'a territory just over the Kuwaiti border? Folks, if we're having difficulties there then it's not looking pretty regarding a warm reception in the Sunni heartlands (of course, locals could have been putting on a show for the journalists).

Could it be that, even when on the cusp of liberty from the most brutal totalitarianism, populations revert back to a nationalistic posture when they begin to suffer significant losses from a foreign invader? Another reason to be very intent on keeping to a minimum civilian casualties in the difficult days ahead.

UPDATE: Video from Safwan food distribution.

UPDATE: Publicized coalition casualties to date.

Posted by Gregory at March 26, 2003 11:51 PM
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