Sunday, February 3, 2008
Violence is rising in Iraq along with the power of the
Taliban in Afghanistan. Conditions are not as
favorable as the commander-in-chief reported last week.
Also, our returning heroes with brain injuries may be
more treatable than previously thought.
But they need to be treated.
By Dave McGill
February 03, 2008 03:25 PM EST
Yes, as "Super Tuesday" approaches, following "Super Sunday,"
conditions may not be so super in Iraq. Violence is on the increase
for both our military and civilians.
Last week, the Department of Defense released the obituaries of
12 military personnel killed in that country, ranging in age from
19 to 41. Ten of the deaths were caused by (IED's) improvised
explosive devices, including five soldiers killed on Monday when
a roadside bomb blew up their combat vehicle in an ambush that
took place in Mosul, north of Baghdad.
According to the web site www.icasualties.org, U.S. deaths
in Iraq now stand at 3,944, including one whose family is being
The Department of Defense also released the obituary of one
29-year-old Army soldier killed in Afghanistan who may have
been shot by an Afghan guard, mistaking him for an enemy
Total U.S. deaths in Afghanistan were 415 as of January 26,
according to the Pentagon. The New England Journal of medicine
has just released its study of soldiers that have experienced brain
injuries. According to the report, such common symptoms as sleep
disturbances, memory loss and irritability are generally the result
of post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD's), which are treatable,
as opposed to traumatic brain injuries (TBI's), for which
there are no treatments.
These conclusions are favorable for our returning war veterans
provided only that they are afforded a level of follow-up
treatment commensurate with the sacrifices that they made to
the war effort.
And, at this point, it cannot be said that our returning heroes are
receiving an adequate level of care. In too many instances,
veterans with head trauma are being medically discharged and
largely lost track of until their internal time bombs explode with
dire consequences for themselves and those around them.
As for Iraq, today's edition of the Washington Post carries a story
in which Major General Jeffrey W. Hammond, a commander in
Baghdad, describes the Iraq campaign by U.S. forces as being
three separate but related wars.
The first is against the group known as al-Qaeda in Iraq, the
second is against the domestic Sunni insurgency, and the third,
described as being the most vexing, is against Shiite extremist militias.
A fourth group, the Baathists, being those who previously belonged
to Hussein's party, are simply living in a constant state of fear of the
other groups, according to today's LA Times, as they watch their
fellow members being routinely killed and beheaded.
Meanwhile, a degree of apparent confusion seems to exist
among some of our military leaders. Certain commanders in Iraq
had been quoted as saying that the reductions in troops would pause
come summer, but, according to yesterday's LA Times, the chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday that no such decision had
The Times reported that senior Bush administration officials had
privately acknowledged the existence of tensions between the
Pentagon and our field commanders in Iraq leading up to next
month's planned recommendations to the White House and Congress.
For the civilians in Iraq and particularly those in Baghdad,
violence has risen to its highest level in months. Coordinated
suicide bombing in two popular pet markets on Friday, killed
at least 99 people and wounded 208, according to Iraqi police.
Pet markets are generally magnets for families with children.
Senior American military officials revealed on Saturday that
the suicide bombers, both of whom were women, showed signs
of Down syndrome, suggesting that the insurgents may be
having trouble recruiting men, if not any sane people, to do the job.
A witness to the carnage told the L.A. Times that security for the
area was the responsibility of a U.S.-organized brigade that
managed the checkpoints. He charged that the group allowed
the attacks to take place.
"It's an excuse for the U.S. to stay and declare that the
Iraqis are still not capable of taking care of our country,"
he said. "Each time we think the situation has gotten better,
it deteriorates further."
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