United States Military

The Iraq War’s ‘quiet’ end: By the numbers

This is an interesting look at the wind down of the Iraq War…

The Week

An understated ceremony in Baghdad marks the end of a mission that lasted nearly nine years, claimed the lives over 4,000 U.S. soldiers, and divided our nation

America’s long, contentious war in Iraq came to a “quiet” end Thursday. In a “muted ceremony” in Baghdad, U.S. troops lowered the flag of command that flew over the headquarters of the U.S. mission for a final time. “After a lot of blood spilled by Iraqis and Americans, the mission of an Iraq that could govern and secure itself has become real,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at the ceremony. Here’s a by-the-numbers look at the bloodshed and monetary toll:
8
Number of years the Iraq War lasted — the official tally is eight years, eight months, and 25 days. As a start date, The Washington Post points to March 20, 2003, when an airstrike was launched in southern Baghdad where Saddam Hussein was presumed to be hiding.

More than 1 million
Number of U.S. troops who have served in Iraq since 2003

4,483
Number of troops who were killed during the Iraq War, according to Mark Leon Goldberg at UN Dispatch

33,183
Number who were wounded

104,080 to 113,728
Estimated number of Iraqi civilians killed during the mission,according to Iraq Body Count

6.5
Number of deaths per day from suicide attack and vehicle bombs in 2011, says Goldberg

$800 billion 
Cost of the war to the U.S. treasury, says Lolita C. Baldor at theAssociated Press

4,000
Number of troops who will remain in Iraq over the coming months, “despite President Barack Obama’s earlier contention that all American troops would be home for Christmas,” says Baldor

170,000
Number of troops in the country during the 2007 surge ordered by President George W. Bush

500
Number of bases and outposts established in Iraq during that surge


Number of bases that remain

61
Percent of Americans who favored the withdrawal of all troops of Iraq by the end of the year, according to a CNN/ORC Internation poll conducted last month. That’s despite the fact that “only half of Americans think their nation achieved its goals in Iraq,” says Richard Allen Greene and Moni Basu at CNN.

The Kill Team

Army Unit Exposed In Gruesome Murders Of Innocent Afghan Civilians

This is heartbreaking as well as sickening.  How were these guys able to get away with this stuff?

Rolling Stone magazine gives an in depth investigative report on some of the men of Bravo Company and their unfathomable acts toward Afghani citizens.

Rolling Stone

How U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan murdered innocent civilians and mutilated their corpses – and how their officers failed to stop them. Plus: An exclusive look at the war crime photos censored by the Pentagon

Early last year, after six hard months soldiering in Afghanistan, a group of American infantrymen reached a momentous decision: It was finally time to kill a haji.

Among the men of Bravo Company, the notion of killing an Afghan civilian had been the subject of countless conversations, during lunchtime chats and late-night bull sessions. For weeks, they had weighed the ethics of bagging “savages” and debated the probability of getting caught. Some of them agonized over the idea; others were gung-ho from the start. But not long after the New Year, as winter descended on the arid plains of Kandahar Province, they agreed to stop talking and actually pull the trigger.

Bravo Company had been stationed in the area since summer, struggling, with little success, to root out the Taliban and establish an American presence in one of the most violent and lawless regions of the country. On the morning of January 15th, the company’s 3rd Platoon – part of the 5th Stryker Brigade, based out of Tacoma, Washington – left the mini-metropolis of tents and trailers at Forward Operating Base Ramrod in a convoy of armored Stryker troop carriers. The massive, eight-wheeled trucks surged across wide, vacant stretches of desert, until they came to La Mohammad Kalay, an isolated farming village tucked away behind a few poppy fields.   

To provide perimeter security, the soldiers parked the Strykers at the outskirts of the settlement, which was nothing more than a warren of mud-and-straw compounds. Then they set out on foot. Local villagers were suspected of supporting the Taliban, providing a safe haven for strikes against U.S. troops. But as the soldiers of 3rd Platoon walked through the alleys of La Mohammad Kalay, they saw no armed fighters, no evidence of enemy positions. Instead, they were greeted by a frustratingly familiar sight: destitute Afghan farmers living without electricity or running water; bearded men with poor teeth in tattered traditional clothes; young kids eager for candy and money. It was impossible to tell which, if any, of the villagers were sympathetic to the Taliban. The insurgents, for their part, preferred to stay hidden from American troops, striking from a distance with IEDs.

While the officers of 3rd Platoon peeled off to talk to a village elder inside a compound, two soldiers walked away from the unit until they reached the far edge of the village. There, in a nearby poppy field, they began looking for someone to kill. “The general consensus was, if we are going to do something that fucking crazy, no one wanted anybody around to witness it,” one of the men later told Army investigators.

The poppy plants were still low to the ground at that time of year. The two soldiers, Cpl. Jeremy Morlock and Pfc. Andrew Holmes, saw a young farmer who was working by himself among the spiky shoots. Off in the distance, a few other soldiers stood sentry. But the farmer was the only Afghan in sight. With no one around to witness, the timing was right. And just like that, they picked him for execution.      More…

Related Articles

Department Of Defense Accepting Openly Gay Applicants

Huffington Post

The Defense Department said Tuesday that it is accepting openly gay recruits, but is warning applicants they might not be allowed to stick around for long.

Following last week’s court ruling that struck down a 1993 law banning gays from serving openly, the military has suspended enforcement of the rule known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The Justice Department is appealing the decision and has asked the courts for a temporary stay on the ruling.

The Defense Department said it would comply with the law and had frozen any discharge cases. But at least one case was reported of a man being turned away from an Army recruiting office in Austin, Texas.

Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith on Tuesday confirmed that recruiters had been given top-level guidance to accept applicants who say they are gay.

Recruiters also have been told to inform potential recruits that the moratorium on enforcement of “don’t ask, don’t tell” could be reversed at any point, if the ruling is appealed or the court grants a stay, she said.

The uncertain status of the law has caused much confusion within an institution that has historically discriminated against gays. Before the 1993 law, the Defense Department banned gays entirely and declared them incompatible with military service.

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