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a report of what the US Marines are really doing in

This is NOT what you'll find CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, or FOX reporting, as TRUTH
such as this shatters a lot of myths...
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Eyewitness In Fallujah
By Jo Wilding
The Sunday Herald - UK
4-18-4

Trucks, oil tankers and tanks are burning on the highway east to Fallujah. A stream of boys and men goes to and from a lorry that's not burnt, stripping it bare. We turn on to the back roads through Abu Ghraib, past the vehicles full of people and a few possessions heading the other way, past the improvised refreshment posts along the way where boys throw food through the windows into the bus for us and for the people still inside Fallujah.

The bus is following a car with the nephew of a local sheikh and a guide who has contacts with the mujahidin and has cleared this with them. I'm on the bus because a journalist I know turned up at my door at about 11 at night telling me things were desperate in Fallujah. He said aid vehicles and the media were being turned away. There was some medical aid that needed to go in and there was a better chance of it getting there with Westerners to get through the American checkpoints. The rest of the way was secured with the armed groups who control the roads we'd travel on. We'd take in the medical supplies, see what else we could do to help and then use the bus to bring out people who needed to leave.

When we arrive, we pile the stuff in the corridor of a clinic, a private doctor's surgery treating people for free since air strikes destroyed the town's main hospital. Another has been improvised in a garage. There's no anaesthetic. The blood bags are in a drinks fridge and the doctors warm them up under the hot tap in a toilet.

Screaming women come in, praying, slapping their chests and faces. Maki, a consultant and acting director of the clinic, takes me to the bed where a child of about 10 is lying with a bullet wound to the head. A smaller child is being treated for a similar injury in the next bed. A US sniper hit them and their grandmother as they left their home to flee Fallujah.

The lights go out, the fan stops and in the sudden quiet someone holds up the flame of a cigarette lighter for the doctor to carry on operating by. The electricity to the town has been cut off for days and when the generator runs out of petrol, they just have to manage till it comes back on. The children are not going to live.

I am ushered into a room where an old woman has just had an abdominal bullet wound stitched , a white flag still clutched in her hand. She tells the same story: "I was leaving my home to go to Baghdad when I was hit by a US sniper." Some of the town is held by US marines, other parts by the local fighters. Their homes are in the US controlled area and they are adamant that the snipers were US marines.

Snipers are causing not just carnage but also the paralysis of the ambulance and evacuation services. The biggest hospital after the main one was bombed is in US territory and cut off from the clinic by snipers. The ambulance has been repaired four times after bullet damage. Bodies are lying in the streets because nobody can go to collect them without being shot.

We get into the back of the pick-up to go past the snipers to do what we can for sick and injured people. The men we pass wave us on when the driver explains where we're going. The silence is ferocious in the no-man's-land between the mujahidin territory and the marines' line beyond the next wall; no birds, no music, no indication that anyone is still living until a gate opens opposite and a woman comes out and points.

We edge along to the hole in the wall where we can see a car, spent mortar shells around it. Feet are visible, crossed, in the gutter. I think he's dead already. The snipers are visible too, two of them on the corner of the building. As yet I think they can't see us so we need to let them know we're there.

"Hello," I bellow at the top of my voice. "Can you hear me? We are a medical team. We want to remove this wounded man. Is it OK for us to come out and get him? Can you give us a signal that it's OK?"

I think I hear a shout back. Not sure, I call again.

"Hello."

"Yeah."

"Can we come out and get him?"

"Yeah."

Slowly, our hands up, we go out. The black cloud that rises to greet us carries with it a hot, sour smell. Solidified, his legs are heavy. A Kalashnikov is attached by sticky blood to his hair and hand and we don't want it with us, so I put my foot on it as I pick up his shoulders and his blood falls out through the hole in his back. We heave him into the pick-up and try to outrun the flies.

He's barefoot, no more than 20, in imitation Nike trousers and a football shirt. The orderlies from the clinic pull the young fighter off the pick-up and take him straight up the ramp into the makeshift morgue.

We wash the blood off our hands and get in the ambulance. There are people trapped in the other hospital who need to go to Baghdad. Siren screaming, lights flashing, we huddle on the floor of the ambulance, passports and ID cards held out the windows. We pack it with people, one with his chest taped together and a drip, another on a stretcher, legs jerking violently so I have to hold them down as we wheel him out.

The next morning the doctors at the clinic look haggard. None has slept more than a couple of hours a night for a week. One has had only eight hours' sleep in the last seven days, missing the funerals of his brother and aunt because he was needed at the hospital. "The dead we cannot help," he says. "I must worry about the injured."

We go out again in the pick-up. There are some sick people close to the marines' line who need evacuating. Nobody dares come out of their house because the marines are on top of the buildings shooting at anything that moves. Saad fetches us a white flag and tells us not to worry, he's checked and secured the road, no mujahidin will fire at us, that peace is upon us. Saad is 11, his face covered with a keffiyeh, but for his bright brown eyes, his AK47 almost as tall as he is.

We shout to the soldiers, holding up a flag with a red crescent sprayed on it. Two come over. We tell them we need to get some sick people from the houses. Thirteen women and children are still inside, in one room, without food and water for the last 24 hours.

"We're going to be going through soon clearing the houses," the senior soldier says.

"What does that mean, clearing the houses?" I ask.

"Going into every one searching for weapons." He's checking his watch, can't tell me what will start when, of course, but there's going to be air strikes in support. "If you're going to do this you gotta do it soon."

In the street there's a man, face down, in a white dishdasha, a small red stain on his back. As we roll him on to the stretcher, my colleague Dave's hand goes through his chest, through the cavity left by the bullet that entered so neatly through his back and blew his heart out. There's no weapon in his hand. When we arrive, his sons come out, crying, shouting. "He was unarmed," they scream. "He just went out the gate and they shot him." None of them has dared come out since. Nobody had dared come to get his body, horrified, terrified, forced to violate the traditions of treating the body immediately.

The people seem to pour out of the houses now in the hope we can escort them safely out of the line of fire, kids, women, men anxiously asking us whether they can all go, or only the women and children. A young marine tells us that men of fighting age can't leave. What's fighting age? Anything under 45. No lower limit.

A man wants to use his police car to carry some of the people, a couple of elderly ones who can't walk far, the smallest children. They creep from their houses, huddle by the wall, follow us out, their hands up too, and walk up the street clutching babies, bags, each other.

The bus is going to leave, taking the injured people back to Baghdad, a man with burns, a woman who was shot in the jaw and shoulder by a sniper, several others.

The way back is tense, the bus almost getting stuck in a dip in the sand, people escaping in anything, even piled on the trailer of a tractor, lines of cars and pick ups and buses ferrying people to the dubious sanctuary of Baghdad, lines of men in vehicles queuing to get back into the city having got their families to safety, either to fight or to help evacuate more people. The driver takes a different road so that suddenly we're not following the lead car and we're on a road that's controlled by a different armed group than the ones which know us.

A crowd of men waves guns to stop the bus. Somehow they apparently believe that there are American soldiers on the bus. Gunmen run on to the bus and see there are injured and old people, Iraqis, and then relax and wave us on.

We stop in Abu Ghraib and swap seats, foreigners in the front, Iraqis less visible, headscarves off so we look more Western. The American soldiers are so happy to see Westerners they don't mind too much about the Iraqis with us, search the men and the bus, leave the women unsearched because there are no women soldiers to search us.

And then we're in Baghdad, delivering them to the hospitals. The satellite news says the cease-fire is holding and George Bush insists his actions in Iraq are right.

newsquest (sunday herald) limited. all rights reserved  http://www.sundayherald.com/41338

learning from israel 19.Apr.2004 19:46

brian

The young American Marine is exultant. "It's a sniper's dream,' he tells a Los Angeles Times reporter on the outskirts of Fallujah. "You can go anywhere and there so many ways to fire at the enemy without him knowing where you are."
"Sometimes a guy will go down, and I'll let him scream a bit to destroy the morale of his buddies. Then I'll use a second shot."

"To take a bad guy out," he explains, "is an incomparable "adrenaline rush." He brags of having "24 confirmed kills" in the initial phase of the brutal U.S. onslaught against the rebel city of 300,000 people.

Faced with intransigent popular resistance that recalls the heroic Vietcong defense of Hue in 1968, the Marines have again unleashed indiscriminate terror. According to independent journalists and local medical workers, they have slaughtered at least two hundred women and children in the first two weeks of fighting.

The battle of Fallujah, together with the conflicts unfolding in Shiia cities and Baghdad slums, are high-stakes tests, not just of U.S. policy in Iraq, but of Washington's ability to dominate what Pentagon planners consider the "key battlespace of the future" -- the Third World city.

The Mogadishu debacle of 1993, when neighborhood militias inflicted 60% casualties on elite Army Rangers, forced U.S. strategists to rethink what is known in Pentagonese as MOUT: "Militarized Operations on Urbanized Terrain." Ultimately, a National Defense Panel review in December 1997 castigated the Army as unprepared for protracted combat in the near impassable, maze-like streets of the poverty-stricken cities of the Third World.

As a result, the four armed services, coordinated by the Joint Staff Urban Working Group, launched crash programs to master street-fighting under realistic third-world conditions. "The future of warfare," the journal of the Army War College declared, "lies in the streets, sewers, high-rise buildings, and sprawl of houses that form the broken cities of the world."

Israeli advisors were quietly brought in to teach Marines, Rangers, and Navy Seals the state-of-the-art tactics -- especially the sophisticated coordination of sniper and demolition teams with heavy armor and overwhelming airpower -- so ruthlessly used by Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza and the West Bank.

Artificial cityscapes (complete with "smoke and sound systems") were built to simulate combat conditions in densely populated neighborhoods of cities like Baghdad or Port-au-Prince. The Marine Corps Urban Warfighting Laboratory also staged realistic war games ("Urban Warrior") in Oakland and Chicago, while the Army's Special Operations Command "invaded" Pittsburgh.

Today, many of the Marines inside Fallujah are graduates of these Urban Warrior exercises as well as mock combat at "Yodaville" (the Urban Training Facility in Yuma, Arizona), while some of the Army units encircling Najaf and the Baghdad slum neighborhood of Sadr City are alumni of the new $34 million MOUT simulator at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

This tactical "Israelization" of U.S. combat doctrine has been accompanied by what might be called a "Sharonization" of the Pentagon's worldview. Military theorists are now deeply involved in imagining how the evolving capacity of high-tech warfare can contain, if not destroy, chronic "terrorist" insurgencies rooted in the desperation of growing megaslums.

To help develop a geopolitical framework for urban war-fighting, military planners turned in the 1990s to the RAND Corporation: Dr. Strangelove's old alma mater. RAND, a nonprofit think tank established by the Air Force in 1948, was notorious for war-gaming nuclear Armageddon in the 1950s and for helping plan the Vietnam War in the 1960s. These days RAND does cities -- big time. Its researchers ponder urban crime statistics, inner-city public health, and the privatization of public education. They also run the Army's Arroyo Center which has published a small library of recent studies on the context and mechanics of urban warfare.

One of the most important RAND projects, initiated in the early 1990s, has been a major study of "how demographic changes will affect future conflict." The bottom line, RAND finds, is that the urbanization of world poverty has produced "the urbanization of insurgency" (the title, in fact, of their report).

"Insurgents are following their followers into the cities," RAND warns, "setting up 'liberated zones' in urban shantytowns. Neither U.S. doctrine, nor training, nor equipment is designed for urban counterinsurgency." As a result, the slum has become the weakest link in the American empire.

The RAND researchers reflect on the example of El Salvador where the local military, despite massive U.S. support, was unable to stop FMLN guerrillas from opening an urban front. Indeed, "had the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front rebels effectively operated within the cities earlier in the insurgency, it is questionable how much the United States could have done to help maintain even the stalemate between the government and the insurgents."

More recently, a leading Air Force theorist has made similar points in the Aerospace Power Journal. "Rapid urbanization in developing countries," writes Captain Troy Thomas in the spring 2002 issue, "results in a battlespace environment that is decreasingly knowable since it is increasingly unplanned."

Thomas contrasts modern, "hierarchical" urban cores, whose centralized infrastructures are easily crippled by either air strikes (Belgrade) or terrorist attacks (Manhattan), with the sprawling slum peripheries of the Third World, organized by "informal, decentralized subsystems, "where no blueprints exist, and points of leverage in the system are not readily discernable." Using the "sea of urban squalor" that surrounds Pakistan's Karachi as an example, Thomas portrays the staggering challenge of "asymmetric combat" within "non-nodal, non-hierarchical" urban terrains against "clan-based" militias propelled by "desperation and anger." He cites the sprawling slums of Lagos, Nigeria, and Kinshasa in the Congo as other potential nightmare battlefields.

However Captain Thomas (whose article is provocatively entitled "Slumlords: Aerospace Power in Urban Fights"), like RAND, is brazenly confident that the Pentagon's massive new investments in MOUT technology and training will surmount all the fractal complexities of slum warfare. One of the RAND cookbooks ("Aerospace Operations in Urban Environments") even provides a helpful table to calculate the acceptable threshold of "collateral damage" (aka dead babies) under different operational and political constraints.

The occupation of Iraq has, of course, been portrayed by Bush ideologues as a "laboratory for democracy" in the Middle East. To MOUT geeks, on the other hand, it is a laboratory of a different kind, where Marine snipers and Air Force pilots test out new killing techniques in an emergent world war against the urban poor.

Mike Davis is author, most recently, of the kids' adventure, Land of the Lost Mammoths (Perceval Press, 2003) and co-author of Under the Perfect Sun: the San Diego Tourists Never See (New Press, 2003) among other books.
 http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0419-14.htm