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Qtec
11-24-2004, 04:14 AM
The reality.


[ QUOTE ]

Hunting 'Satan' in Falluja hell
By Paul Wood
BBC News, Falluja


Lt Malcolm was a good chess player. He looked like any other young marines officer: skinny, shaven-headed, although with a quite beaky nose.


Anyway, you could always pick him out. He would be the one with the chess board placed on an up-ended box of MREs (Meal Ready to Eat), working out moves.
I got to know him a little bit, as his bunk was opposite mine.

I would watch as he gave chess tips to those of his men who had not completely given in to poker or hearts.

About five hours into the battle, Lt Malcolm was killed.

He was the weapons officer in Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, the unit I had joined as an "embed".

Just before dawn, Alpha Company blew a large hole in an outer wall, and entered the police station right in the heart of Falluja.

It was still pretty quiet then but as the sun rose the marines found themselves surrounded and under attack from all sides.

Lt Malcolm's squad went up on to the highest roof top they could find - but not higher than the two minarets on either side with snipers.

There was a wall about 40cm (16in) tall for cover. Everyone tried to get close to it while bullets skipped across the paving stones.

When he heard his men were in trouble - the men he'd been giving chess tips just the day before - Lt Malcolm came to get them.

Extraordinary valour

As he ran onto the roof, one of the sniper's bullets hit his helmet, bouncing off.

He kept going, and did not leave until he had shepherded all his men down.

He was killed by the second bullet. It got him in the back, just below the flak jacket, as he jumped down the stairwell.

He must have thought he was home free.

There was no hint of his extraordinary valour in the press release issued two days later.


It said: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of two marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom."
"1st Lt Dan T Malcolm Jr, 25, of Brinson, Ga, died Nov 10 as a result of enemy action in al-Anbar Province, Iraq."

The other dead marine in the press release was a Sgt David Caruso, who was not from our unit.

At the end of the day on which Lt Malcolm was killed, the 1/8 had taken between a quarter and a third of the killed and wounded for the entire force, across the entire operation.

That was about five times their proportion of the attacking troops.

On Monday, the number of deaths for coalition forces stood at 51, with some 450 injured.

These figures represent the coalition's worst losses in any battle in Iraq since the invasion. And the 1/8 still have 20% of those losses.

'Fort Apache

Lt Col Brandl, the 1/8's commander, came striding across the roof top, wearing wrap-around shades and a broad grin.

A cigar was sticking out of one side of his mouth. Everyone else was moving around bent double.

The marines called this building "Fort Apache" since in any particular direction you cared to look, someone was attacking them.

"What's our situation, Colonel?" I asked, a little nervous.

"Our situation is good," he said, pausing for a volley of gunfire. "The enemy is coming to us. And we're killing him."

Col Brandl's insouciance as he strode around the battlefield - his battlefield - was a calculated act of leadership, designed to steady the nerves of the young marines around him.

I also detected a sense of relief in him. The planning was over.

What would happen, would happen. It was up to his marines now.


The enemy has got a face - he's called Satan, he's in Falluja, and we're going to destroy him
Lt Col Brandl

We had got a hint of the enormous stress on Brandl during the eve-of-battle briefing.
For three hours, he and his men pored over slides stamped "Top Secret" and walked around a map of central Falluja drawn with marker pen on the floor of their operations room.

Our camera zoomed in close on Col Brandl while he was deep in thought - almost invading his privacy despite this being a very public space.

We could see an insistent twitch below his right eye. He had had no sleep for a week and held the lives of hundreds of Americans and Iraqis in his hands.

So he would look at a captain pointing a stick at the map on the floor and say things like: "I see an enemy vehicle laden with explosives coming up one of those routes.

"He's going to run one, two, four, five, however many he wants to, right into your flank.

"Once you've got that area isolated, the enemy is yours. It's coming in on your flanks I'm concerned about."

'Nothing will defeat us'

Col Brandl had a good turn of phrase for us journalists. This was one which got widely quoted:

"You've got to remember, gents, that this enemy does not like to show his face.


"A lot of the marines that I've had wounded and killed over the past five months have been by a faceless enemy. But the enemy has got a face.
"He's called Satan. He's in Falluja. And we're going to destroy him."

But to his officers in the briefing he said: "There's nothing out there that will defeat us."

Pointing to his head, then his heart, he went on: "What our marines, soldiers and sailors, and the Iraqi forces that we have with us, have going for them is not only what's up here [head], but what's in here [heart].

"This is a right fight for us, this is a good fight for us. And we're going to win it. And we're going to do it with professionalism and honour."

Lt Bahrns was one of the young officers in the briefing.

When I asked about the massive amount of firepower the marines would bring to bear on Falluja, he said: "If there are civilians in there, they are non-combatants, then by no means do we want to hurt a woman or a child.

"We're here to protect them, we're here to keep them safe and we're here to turn over Falluja back to them. It's just shoot the bad guys and take care of the civilians."

Boy soldier

Lt Bahrns was leading a squad responsible for clearing the insurgents out of the very southern tip of Falluja.

It was by now more than a week into the battle, the longest continuous period of urban, house-to house fighting since the Vietnam war.

Alpha Company were holed up in a house right on the edge of the desert. You could really see that the insurgents had nowhere else to go.

Every night, though, the insurgents would attack, waiting until just after dark.

Half an hour after sunset the first rocket propelled grenades made yellow streaks across the sky, and exploded just behind us.

The marine snipers would try to pick off the insurgents circling around the building.

The next morning, we saw their bodies, splayed out at odd angles, already starting to bloat, the flies thick on their faces.

Lt Bahrns told me he had lost his machine gunner.


The gunner had been first into a house, the lieutenant explained, and been shot and killed by those inside.
The heavy gun was then pulled off the marine's body, and used to fire on the others in the squad outside the house.

There was a long battle. For three hours they could not even get the dead marine's body out.

When the marines finally stormed the house, they found three other bodies inside, each holding weapons: two men, and a boy, "maybe 10 years old".

You could tell that Lt Bahrns was sickened by this, almost in anguish.

"They were shooting at my marines," he said. "What could we do?"

Throughout this entire week, we caught only two glimpses of civilians.

One was a group with white flags running away. Another was a shell-shocked man who was brought into the marines' base on a stretcher after being found wandering the streets.

The marines saw many dead bodies - often being gnawed at by dogs in the streets - but they were all of fighters, even if in this one case the "fighter" was a child.

Paul Wood was embedded with the 1st Battalion of the 8th Marine Regiment during the battle of Falluja. His film will be shown on Newsnight on BBC Two on Wednesday.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/4037009.stm

Published: 2004/11/23 23:16:36 GMT

© BBC MMIV
<hr /></blockquote>



After reading this graphic account of events in Fallujah, I find it difficult to condem the soldier who shot the wounded insurgent. It was wrong, that cant be denied but under such circumstances, its entirely possible that anybody here on the board,even me /ccboard/images/graemlins/blush.gif might have reacted the same way.
When you are in 'survival mode',you dont think- you act! You think about it later.

Q

Chopstick
11-24-2004, 08:22 AM
Thanks. Q

ceebee
11-24-2004, 02:13 PM
here's my two cents..

The Commanding Officer, of the Soldier being reprimanded for shooting an insurgent, should have said..

"Sonny boy, next time you shoot an Iraqi Insurgent or an al-Quaeda Terrorist and there's a cameraman around, taking your picture, shoot him too".

If our soldiers don't win the war over there, we will have to win it over here.

SecaucusFats
11-24-2004, 06:22 PM
This is an e-mail from a Marine in Fallujah:


This is just one story most don't hear:

A young Marine and his cover man cautiously enter a room just recently filled with insurgents armed with AK-47s and RPGs. There are three dead, another wailing in pain. The insurgent can be heard saying, "Mister, mister! Diktoor, diktoor (doctor)!" He is badly wounded, lying in a pool of his own blood. The Marine and his cover man slowly walk toward the injured man, scanning to make sure no enemies come from behind. In a split second, the pressure in the room greatly exceeds that of the outside, and the concussion seems to be felt before the blast is heard. Marines outside rush to the room, and look in horror as the dust gradually settles. The result is a room filled with the barely recognizable remains of the deceased, caused by an insurgent setting off several pounds of explosives.

The Marines' remains are gathered by teary-eyed comrades, brothers in arms, and shipped home in a box. The families can only mourn over a casket and a picture of their loved one, a life cut short by someone who hid behind a white flag. But no one hears these stories, except those who have lived to carry remains of a friend, and the families who loved the dead. No one hears this, so no one cares.

This is the story everyone hears:

A young Marine and his fire team cautiously enter a room just recently filled with insurgents armed with AK-47s and RPGs. There are three dead, another wailing in pain. The insurgent can be heard saying, "Mister, mister! Diktoor, diktoor (doctor)!" He is badly wounded. Suddenly, he pulls from under his bloody clothes a grenade, without the pin. The explosion rocks the room, killing one Marine, wounding the others. The young Marine catches shrapnel in the face.

The next day, same Marine, same type of situation, a different story. The young Marine and his cover man enter a room with two wounded insurgents. One lies on the floor in puddle of blood, another against the wall. A reporter and his camera survey the wreckage inside, and in the background can be heard the voice of a Marine, "He's moving, he's moving!"

The pop of a rifle is heard, and the insurgent against the wall is now dead.

Minutes, hours later, the scene is aired on national television, and the Marine is being held for committing a war crime. Unlawful killing.

And now, another Marine has the possibility of being burned at the stake for protecting the life of his brethren. His family now wrings their hands in grief, tears streaming down their face. Brother, should I have been in your boots, I too would have done the same.

For those of you who don't know, we Marines, Band of Brothers, Jarheads, Leathernecks, etc., do not fight because we think it is right, or think it is wrong. We are here for the man to our left, and the man to our right. We choose to give our lives so that the man or woman next to us can go home and see their husbands, wives, children, friends and families.

For those of you who sit on your couches in front of your television, and choose to condemn this man's actions, I have but one thing to say to you. Get out of you recliner, lace up my boots, pick up a rifle, leave your family behind, and join me. See what I've seen, walk where I have walked. To those of you who support us, my sincerest gratitude. You keep us alive.

I am a Marine currently doing his second tour in Iraq. These are my opinions and mine alone. They do not represent those of the Marine Corps or of the U.S. military, or any other.

END


SF

Ross
11-25-2004, 11:02 PM
SF, this "e-mail" has the strong ring of being a made up to support a particular point of view. Do you have a source for it?

Obviously I support our soldiers. They are there doing what they are told is the right thing to do. They are brave and are risking their lives for a cause they believe in. And I happen to think that if we succeed in making Iraq a functioning democracy, it will - in the long run - ultimately improve the future for people who live in the Middle East, even if we didn't go in for altruistic reasons now being touted.

But I am skeptical of e-mail stories I receive that are touching but just a bit "too pat." Go to www.snopes.com (http://www.snopes.com) and type in "marine" or "soldier" and you will find dozens of such fictional stories. It is hard to define how such stories are so recognizable, but they are.

Why does it matter? Because when you are deciding whether the marine who killed the wounded Iraqi was a soldier that was indeed in fear for his life or a soldier who was taking out his anger by getting revenge on a defenseless captured enemey combatant, you need to be deciding on the basis of fact, not fiction. Truth is the best path to justice, IMO.

If indeed the story if verifiable, I will gladly apologize on this board for questioning it.

SecaucusFats
11-26-2004, 09:10 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Ross:</font><hr> SF, this "e-mail" has the strong ring of being a made up to support a particular point of view. Do you have a source for it?

Obviously I support our soldiers. They are there doing what they are told is the right thing to do. They are brave and are risking their lives for a cause they believe in. And I happen to think that if we succeed in making Iraq a functioning democracy, it will - in the long run - ultimately improve the future for people who live in the Middle East, even if we didn't go in for altruistic reasons now being touted.

But I am skeptical of e-mail stories I receive that are touching but just a bit "too pat." Go to www.snopes.com (http://www.snopes.com) and type in "marine" or "soldier" and you will find dozens of such fictional stories. It is hard to define how such stories are so recognizable, but they are.

Why does it matter? Because when you are deciding whether the marine who killed the wounded Iraqi was a soldier that was indeed in fear for his life or a soldier who was taking out his anger by getting revenge on a defenseless captured enemey combatant, you need to be deciding on the basis of fact, not fiction. Truth is the best path to justice, IMO.

If indeed the story if verifiable, I will gladly apologize on this board for questioning it. <hr /></blockquote>

It appeared in Mackubin Owens' article in The National Review.
Here is the link to the page:
National Review (http://www.nationalreview.com/owens/owens200411190828.asp)

SF

Ross
11-26-2004, 12:08 PM
Thanks for the link, SF. It was an interesting article. I liked the way it grouped the different prinicples that come into play as the "rules" of war. Unfortunately it did not clear up the truth of the e-mail since it just quoted it with no corroborating evidence.

Also, the story in the e-mail seems doesn't make sense to me. He tells the story of "dictoor, dictoor" twice. In the first version, the insurgent sets off several pounds of explosives and it sounds like everyone in the room was pulverized so there wouldn't be anyone alive to tell the story of what happened in there. This story is then re-told (the supposedly publicized version) and this time it is a grenade and one marine gets shrapnel in his face. The the e-mail writer says this is the same marine who is caught on video the next day and has been in the news. But all published accounts I've seen say the marine was shot the previous day, not hit by shrapnel from a grenade. Also this version contradicts both the videotape and what the account from the reporter Sites. A small example, no one yelled "He's moving." That sounds a lot better than "He's f'ing faking dead" but it is not what is on the tape.

For a more detailed (and unfortunately, damning) account as told by the reporter:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6556034/

Nov. 13, 2004
It's Saturday morning and we're still at our strong point from the night before, a clearing between a set of buildings on the southern edge of the city. The advance has been swift, but pockets of resistance still exist. In fact, we're taking sniper fire from both the front and the rear.

Weapons Company uses its 81's (mortars) where they spot muzzle flashes. The tanks do some blasting of their own. By mid-morning, we're told we're moving north again. We'll be back clearing some of the area we passed yesterday. There are also reports that the mosque, where 10 insurgents were killed and five wounded on Friday, may have been re-occupied overnight.

I decide to leave you guys and pick up with one of the infantry squads as they move house-to-house back toward the mosque. (For their own privacy and protection I will not name or identify in any way, any of those I was traveling with during this incident.)

Many of the structures are empty of people -- but full of weapons. Outside one residence, a member of the squad lobs a frag grenade over the wall. Everyone piles in, including me.

While the Marines go into the house, I follow the flames caused by the grenade into the courtyard. When the smoke clears, I can see through my viewfinder that the fire is burning beside a large pile of anti-aircraft rounds.

I yell to the lieutenant that we need to move. Almost immediately after clearing out of the house, small explosions begin as the rounds cook off in the fire.

At that point, we hear the tanks firing their 240-machine guns into the mosque. There's radio chatter that insurgents inside could be shooting back. The tanks cease fire and we file through a breach in the outer wall.

We hear gunshots from what seems to be coming from inside the mosque. A Marine from my squad yells, "Are there Marines in here?"

When we arrive at the front entrance, we see that another squad has already entered before us.

The lieutenant asks them, "Are there people inside?"

One of the Marines raises his hand signaling five.

"Did you shoot them," the lieutenant asks?

"Roger that, sir, “the same Marine responds.

"Were they armed?" The Marine just shrugs and we all move inside.


Immediately after going in, I see the same black plastic body bags spread around the mosque. The dead from the day before. But more surprising, I see the same five men that were wounded from Friday as well. It appears that one of them is now dead and three are bleeding to death from new gunshot wounds. The fifth is partially covered by a blanket and is in the same place and condition he was in on Friday, near a column. He has not been shot again. I look closely at both the dead and the wounded. There don't appear to be any weapons anywhere.

"These were the same wounded from yesterday," I say to the lieutenant. He takes a look around and goes outside the mosque with his radio operator to call in the situation to Battalion Forward HQ.

I see an old man in a red kaffiyeh lying against the back wall. Another is face down next to him, his hand on the old man's lap -- as if he were trying to take cover. I squat beside them, inches away and begin to videotape them. Then I notice that the blood coming from the old man's nose is bubbling. A sign he is still breathing. So is the man next to him.

While I continue to tape, a Marine walks up to the other two bodies about 15 feet away, but also lying against the same back wall.

Then I hear him say this about one of the men:

"He's f------ faking he's dead -- he's faking he's f------ dead."

Through my viewfinder I can see him raise the muzzle of his rifle in the direction of the wounded Iraqi. There are no sudden movements, no reaching or lunging.

However, the Marine could legitimately believe the man poses some kind of danger. Maybe he's going to cover him while another Marine searches for weapons.

Instead, he pulls the trigger. There is a small splatter against the back wall and the man's leg slumps down.

"Well he's dead now," says another Marine in the background.

I am still rolling. I feel the deep pit of my stomach. The Marine then abruptly turns away and strides away, right past the fifth wounded insurgent lying next to a column. He is very much alive and peering from his blanket. He is moving, even trying to talk. But for some reason, it seems he did not pose the same apparent "danger" as the other man -- though he may have been more capable of hiding a weapon or explosive beneath his blanket.

But then two other Marines in the room raise their weapons as the man tries to talk.

For a moment, I'm paralyzed still taping with the old man in the foreground. I get up after a beat and tell the Marines again, what I had told the lieutenant -- that this man -- all of these wounded men -- were the same ones from yesterday. That they had been disarmed, treated and left here.

At that point the Marine who fired the shot became aware that I was in the room. He came up to me and said, "I didn't know sir, I didn't know." The anger that seemed present just moments before turned to fear and dread.

The wounded man then tries again to talk to me in Arabic.

He says, "Yesterday I was shot... please... yesterday I was shot over there -- and talked to all of you on camera -- I am one of the guys from this whole group. I gave you information. Do you speak Arabic? I want to give you information." (This man has since reportedly been located by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service which is handling the case.)

Left in the mosque

In the aftermath, the first question that came to mind was why had these wounded men been left in the mosque?

It was answered by staff judge advocate Lieutenant Colonel Bob Miller -- who interviewed the Marines involved following the incident. After being treated for their wounds on Friday by Navy Corpsman (I personally saw their bandages) the insurgents were going to be transported to the rear when time and circumstances allowed.

The area, however, was still hot. And there were American casualties to be moved first.

Also, the squad that entered the mosque on Saturday was different than the one that had led the attack on Friday.

It's reasonable to presume they may not have known that these insurgents had already been engaged and subdued a day earlier.

Yet when this new squad engaged the wounded insurgents on Saturday, perhaps really believing they had been fighting or somehow posed a threat -- those Marines inside knew from their training to check the insurgents for weapons and explosives after disabling them, instead of leaving them where they were and waiting outside the mosque for the squad I was following to arrive.

...