Saturday, March 31, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- March 31st edition

March 31, 2004: Supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr rally in Najaf as U.S. helicopters circle overhead

March 31, 2002:

Army chief puts commanders on alert to attack Iraq

BRITAIN'S most senior general has secretly instructed regimental commanders to prepare for an invasion of Iraq this autumn.

General Sir Michael Walker, the Chief of the General Staff, effectively placed the Army on a war footing earlier this month when he addressed more than 30 senior officers in Warminster, Wiltshire.

His speech, to the cream of the officer corps, warned them to prepare for a major offensive against Saddam Hussein later this year. All the officers are due to take command of armoured, infantry and artillery regiments in the next few weeks, the units that would spearhead the British contribution to a second Gulf war.

The comments by the head of the Army, are the first unambiguous indication that defence chiefs are already formulating detailed plans to attack Iraq alongside American forces.

Read the rest at the Telegraph

March 31, 2003:

U.S. military: 100 Iraqi 'terror squad members' killed

DOHA, Qatar (CNN) -- U.S. Central Command said about 100 "terror squad members" were killed early Monday in fighting around Najaf and Samawah in southern Iraq.

Central Command said soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division also took another 50 Iraqi troops prisoner. Further details were not immediately available.

The announcement came hours after Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said coalition troops were hunting down Iraqi "death squads" and other loyalists of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party operating in Nasiriya and Basra in the south.

Meanwhile, with coalition ground forces poised 50 miles from Baghdad, the 'round-the-clock bombardment of Iraqi regime targets continued into Monday morning, senior military officials said.

Read the rest at CNN

March 31, 2004:

Four civilians killed in Iraq worked for N.C. security firm

MOYOCK, N.C. (AP) — The deaths of four employees of a local security company and the shocking way the bodies were treated helped bring the conflict in Iraq closer to home, Moyock residents said.

The four civilians were killed and their burned bodies dragged through the streets of an Iraqi town Wednesday. They worked for Blackwater Security Consulting, one of five subsidiaries of Blackwater USA based in northeastern North Carolina.

"With what's been going on in Iraq I'm not surprised at anything," said 72-year-old Howard Forbes, 72, of Moyock. "But I was surprised at what they did to the bodies." He said the deaths brought the war home to the community.

Read the rest at USA Today

March 31, 2005:

U.S. delegation rejects U.N. monitor's report on Iraqi malnutrition

GENEVA – The U.S. human rights delegation Thursday rejected a U.N. monitor's claim that child malnutrition had risen in Iraq and said, if anything, health conditions have improved since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Jean Ziegler, the U.N. Human Right Commission's expert on the right to food, cited U.S. and European studies Wednesday in telling the commission that acute malnutrition rates among Iraqi children under 5 rose late last year to 7.7 percent from 4 percent after Saddam's ouster in April 2003. Ziegler blamed the war for the situation.

"First, he has not been to Iraq, and second, he is wrong," said Kevin E. Moley, U.S. ambassador to U.N. organizations in Geneva and a member of the American delegation to the 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission.

"He's taking some information that is in itself difficult to validate and juxtaposing his own views – which are widely known," Moley said, referring to Ziegler's opposition to the U.S. military intervention in the country.

Read the rest at the San Diego Tribune

March 31, 2006:

Army bans use of privately bought body armor

WASHINGTON - Soldiers will no longer be allowed to wear body armor other than the protective gear issued by the military, Army officials said Thursday, the latest twist in a running battle over the equipment the Pentagon gives its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Army officials told The Associated Press that the order was prompted by concerns that soldiers or their families were buying inadequate or untested commercial armor from private companies — including the popular Dragon Skin gear made by California-based Pinnacle Armor.

“We’re very concerned that people are spending their hard-earned money on something that doesn’t provide the level of protection that the Army requires people to wear. So they’re, frankly, wasting their money on substandard stuff,” said Col. Thomas Spoehr, director of materiel for the Army.

Murray Neal, chief executive officer of Pinnacle, said he hadn’t seen the directive and wants to review it.

“We know of no reason the Army may have to justify this action,” Neal said. “On the surface this looks to be another of many attempts by the Army to cover up the billions of dollars spent on ineffective body armor systems which they continue to try quick fixes on to no avail.”

Read the rest at MSNBC