Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- May 22nd edition

May 22, 2005: Soldiers search a building in the farm district near Al Tunis, Iraq, where an Improvised Explosive Device had been set off earlier that morning

May 22, 2002:

Bush Warns Europeans on Iraq

WASHINGTON — President Bush, trying to build support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism as anti-war protesters marched in Berlin on the eve of his visit, told Europeans Tuesday that Iraq is a menace to them.

"Iraq ought to be on the minds of the German people, and they ought to be on the minds of the American people, because the Iraq government is a dangerous government," Bush told the German television station ARD.

"This is a government that's gassed its own people, this is a government that is not transparent, and this is a government we know wants to develop weapons of mass destruction," Bush said. "They may have weapons of mass destruction; we just don't know"...

He emphasized he has "no military plans on my desk that calls for, that plots out a military operation. I'm looking at all options."

Read the rest at Fox News

May 22, 2003:

Surveys pointing to high civilian death toll in Iraq

BAGHDAD – Evidence is mounting to suggest that between 5,000 and 10,000 Iraqi civilians may have died during the recent war, according to researchers involved in independent surveys of the country.

None of the local and foreign researchers were willing to speak for the record, however, until their tallies are complete.

Such a range would make the Iraq war the deadliest campaign for noncombatants that US forces have fought since Vietnam.

Though it is still too early for anything like a definitive estimate, the surveyors warn, preliminary reports from hospitals, morgues, mosques, and homes point to a level of civilian casualties far exceeding the Gulf War, when 3,500 civilians are thought to have died.

"Thousands are dead, thousands are missing, thousands are captured," says Haidar Taie, head of the tracing department for the Iraqi Red Crescent in Baghdad. "It is a big disaster."

By one measure of violence against noncombatants, as compared with resistance faced by soldiers, the war in Iraq was particularly brutal. In Operation Just Cause, the 1989 US invasion of Panama, 13 Panamanian civilians died for every US military fatality. If 5,000 Iraqi civilians died in the latest war, that proportion would be 33 to 1.

US and British military officials insisted throughout the war that their forces did all they could to avoid civilian casualties. But it has become clear since the fighting ended that bombs did go astray, that targets were chosen in error, and that as US troops pushed rapidly north toward the capital they killed thousands of civilians from the air and from the ground.

Read the rest at the Christian Science Monitor

May 22, 2004:

'We're on the Brink of Success,' General Says of Iraq Situation

The nation's top military officer yesterday gave a strongly optimistic assessment of the military, political and economic situation in Iraq, citing "great progress on all fronts" there.

"It's going to be tough, but, no, I don't think we're on the brink of failure" in Iraq, as some have asserted recently, said Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Rather, he told the House Armed Services Committee yesterday, "I think we're on the brink of success."

Read the rest at the Washington Post

May 22, 2005:

Commanders Plan Eventual Consolidation of U.S. Bases in Iraq

BAGHDAD -- U.S. military commanders have prepared plans to consolidate American troops in Iraq into four large air bases as they look ahead to giving up more than 100 other bases now occupied by international forces, officers said.

Several officers involved in drafting the consolidation plan said it entailed the construction of longer-lasting facilities at the sites, including barracks and office structures made of concrete block instead of the metal trailers and tin-sheathed buildings that have become the norm at bigger U.S. bases in Iraq.

The new, sturdier buildings will give the bases a more permanent character, the officers acknowledged. But they said the consolidation plan was not meant to establish a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq.

Instead, they said, it is part of a withdrawal expected to occur in phases, with Iraqi forces gradually taking over many of the bases inhabited by U.S. and other foreign troops. Eventually, U.S. units would end up concentrated at the four heavily fortified, strategically located hubs, enabling them to provide continued logistical support and emergency combat assistance, the officers said.

"We call it BRAC for Iraq," said one general, referring to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission now deciding which bases to close in the United States. "If we're going to withdraw, we need a base plan."

The officers said a master plan for the positioning of U.S. forces in the Middle East, maintained by U.S. Central Command, did not envision keeping U.S. forces in Iraq permanently. Instead, it calls for what one Army colonel here described as "strategic overwatch" from bases in Kuwait, meaning U.S. forces there would be near enough to respond to events in Iraq if necessary.

Nonetheless, the consolidation plan appears to reflect a judgment by U.S. military commanders that American forces are likely to be in Iraq for some years, even after their numbers begin to decline, and that they probably will continue to face danger. The new buildings are being designed to withstand direct mortar strikes, according to a senior military engineer. Funding for the first group of redesigned barracks was included in the $82 billion supplemental war-spending bill approved by Congress this month, he said.

Read the rest at the Washington Post

May 22, 2006:

Stress disorder linked to soldiers' ill health

A year after combat soldiers leave Iraq, those with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder say they're in worse physical health, suffer more pain and are more likely to miss work than veterans without PTSD symptoms, according to a military study out Monday.

The anonymous survey of nearly 3,000 Iraq veterans is the first to look at a link between PTSD and physical symptoms. It was released at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in Toronto.

"Their mental health problems may be taking a toll," says psychiatrist Charles Hoge, chief of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, D.C. Physical complaints may send a disproportionate number of these stressed soldiers to primary-care doctors, he says.

In the survey, about 17% of the soldiers had PTSD symptoms, Hoge says. Compared with those without stress symptoms, they were much more likely to report all kinds of pain — from headaches to backaches — and gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea and indigestion.

Anxiety can contribute to these health problems, Hoge says. Also, nightmares and flashbacks — symptoms of PTSD — can interfere with sleep, leading to worse health, he adds. About one out of five soldiers without PTSD symptoms said they were in fair to poor health, compared with nearly half of those with PTSD symptoms.

Soldiers are screened for mental and physical problems when they leave Iraq, then three and six months later, Hoge says.

New "practice guidelines" are alerting military and Veterans Affairs doctors to possible ties between physical and mental symptoms in soldiers, says Charles Engel, director of the Deployment Health Clinical Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Soldiers sometimes downplay their stress reactions, so the number of soldiers with PTSD who also have physical health problems is, "if anything, conservative," says psychologist Charles Figley, a traumatic-stress expert at Florida State University. "When they come in with back pain, doctors are going to have to keep asking what happened to them in the war, not just now but five years from now."

Read the rest at USA Today