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Mounting troop casualties are the real concern

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted July 21, 2003

To watch the cable news networks, you would think that "questionable intel" on Iraqi WMDs is the overarching issue captivating America. However, the current controversy is really more about media sensationalism and vicious ankle-biting by the political Left, which has not been lost on the American public.

In fact, the majority of the American people, two-in-three according to a recent Zogby poll, said it makes no difference whether Iraqi WMDs are ever found. The public exhibits keen insights, and is quite delighted that the Iraqis have been able to cast off the shackles of tyranny and the bane of state-sponsored terrorism. And Americans understand that one less rogue regime accrues to the safety and security of our nation, and the world, for that matter. Sure most Americans would like to know what happened to the Iraqi WMDs, but they're not about to lose any sleep over it. Forty-five percent of those polled thought that the WMDs would eventually be found anyway.

President Bush's waning job approval rating, which now stands at 53 percent, does indeed represent a pivotal statistic recently released by Zogby. Why is this slippage occurring? Of course, it's axiomatic that a less-than-stellar economy is part and parcel of the mix. That said, economic recovery appears to be looming. However, there's another issue that is quite worrisome.

Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division pay their respects at a memorial service for Spc. Joel Bertoldie, of Independence, Mo, at the US army base in Habbaniya, Iraq on July 20. Bertoldie was killed when a bomb was detonated beneath his vehicle in Fallujah
Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division pay their respects at a memorial service for Spc. Joel Bertoldie, of Independence, Mo, at the US army base in Habbaniya, Iraq on July 20. Bertoldie was killed when a bomb was detonated beneath his vehicle in Fallujah

It's beginning to weigh heavily upon Americans that our troop casualties in Iraq are steadily mounting as a consequence of the low-intensity warfare being waged largely by Ba'athist loyalist and Fedayeen paramilitary forces. It goes without saying that we must rout these awful thugs that continue to besiege our soldiers in this current war of attrition. Unfortunately, President Bush's poll ratings will continue to spiral downward if troop losses cannot be reasonably stifled. At present, we are suffering casualties in Iraq at an unsustainable rate of about one per day, which is something that the American public will not countenance.

I don't always concur with Col. David Hackworth (ret.), but he's right on the money in his July 15th column, "Holding in Afghanistan While Winning in Iraq". The Iraqis, who certainly have a considerable stake in their own nation, must be properly trained by "Special Forces snake-eaters" to help overcome the guerilla fighters in their midst.

According to Hackworth, the US must launch a "strong counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq to get that nation back on its feet. Two key planks in a successful counterinsurgency program are U.S. leadership on the ground and a strong Iraqi grassroots force to fight Saddam's Ba'athist plants busily fomenting mayhem and forming guerrilla cells".

And Hackworth's statements are thoroughly congruent with those of Col. David Hunt (ret.), a frequent Fox News Channel contributor. Hunt made the point that Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Abrams Tanks are not particularly helpful when low intensity warfare is in play. He underscored that better intelligence and more Special Forces are required, both of which are integral to effective counterinsurgency efforts. And, of course, the US must be prepared to train indigenous troops and work in cooperation with them. As Hunt said, "we need to get the Iraqis involved". Moreover, Hunt was particularly concerned by the fact that Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) are now being utilized by guerrilla fighters in the vicinity of Baghdad Airport.

And the man tasked with military oversight in the Middle East is Four-star General John Abizaid, who now leads US Central Command, having recently replaced General Tommy Franks upon his retirement. Col. Hackworth and other military analysts within media circles are tremendously impressed by General Abizaid and his overall credentials. Hackworth wrote, "Four-star unconventional warrior Abizaid – out of West Point, Ranger School and Harvard – is not only smart and tough, he speaks Arabic and well understands the culture of the Muslim world…Abizaid, who jumped into Grenada in 1983 with a Ranger unit, is a fighter as well as a thinker. The word is that he understands how to handle guerrillas – folks who served down in the mud with him say he thinks like a G (guerrilla) and well understands that in a guerrilla war, if you're not winning you're losing".

At a July 16th Dept. of Defense News Briefing, General Abizaid was both frank and exceedingly knowledgeable regarding the guerrilla tactics now being employed by the enemy in Iraq. Moreover, the General was fully confident in the abilities of the US military as he asserted, "We can handle the tactical problems that are presented".

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

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