April 06, 2004


The military in Iraq is holding onto the 24,000 troops from the last troop rotation that didn't get flown out before things went south in Fallujah and Sadr City. This was, of course, inevitable, even if those troops have already been there a year.

Also note the news on the foreign contingents:

"Honduran officials say they will pull their 370 troops out of Iraq during the summer. Some U.S. military officials in Iraq have speculated that El Salvador, Nicaragua and possibly the Dominican Republic, all parts of the Plus Ultra Brigade serving with the Spaniards, would also depart. Guatemala President Oscar Berger said his nation would not send troops as promised.

"President Bush was unsuccessful last month in lobbying the Dutch prime minister to keep his nation's 1,300 troops in Iraq beyond June. South Korea has announced that the 3,600 troops it promised to send to Kirkuk to relieve the United States' 173rd Airborne will not go because of U.S. pressure to participate in "offensive operations." South Korean leaders said they would consider sending forces to other parts of Iraq to help rebuild the country."

UPDATE: Norway's pulling the pin, too. (Found on the Agonist).

Posted by BruceR at 10:29 AM


"The Blackwater commandos, most of whom are former Special Forces troops, are on contract to provide security for the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Najaf.

"With their ammunition nearly gone, a wounded and badly bleeding Marine on the rooftop, and no reinforcement by the U.S. military in the immediate offing, the company sent in helicopters to drop ammunition and pick up the Marine."

--Washington Post, today. Now they're "commandos," apparently; I guess the WashPost couldn't take the "contractor" euphemism any longer, either.

In the same story, note how the Fallujah attack now seems to have been on a convoy carrying "food and kitchen equipment," probably to a "U.S. military dining facility." Hmm. Once "kitchen equipment" is included, one could see the value of the goods in a convoy rising to the point where a five-figure guard overhead (2 days x 4 guards x $1,500/day) starts to make sense. It would also seem to make that convoy a "legit" rear-area military target, regardless of whose soldiers were doing the guarding. It does seem clear, though, that the goods in question were not destined for Fallujah, or Iraqis directly, for what that's worth.

The growing consensus on this seems to be that the private guards in this case took a chance on driving a military logistics convoy they were escorting through a town known to be extremely hostile, for some reason (time? bad info?), and the local tribal leadership picked them off as a target of opportunity, in order to send a message. Now the Marines are sending their own message back.

Posted by BruceR at 10:08 AM