7 years, 10 months ago
There are seasons in any campaign, in any counterinsurgency effort. The Army Chief of Staff may have claimed that U.S. forces could be in Iraq for ten more years, but they will mainly serve to ensure that Iraq is a protectorate of the U.S. American troops will not be performing classical constabulary operations.
In a sign of the nature of the current phase of the campaign, the last Marine artillery is headed home.
CAMP AL TAQADDUM, Iraq – As the security situation in the Al Anbar province continues to improve, the final Marine Corps artillery unit to operate its cannons in Iraq, Battery G, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 6, is preparing to go home, signifying a significant change in the nature of the conflict in Anbar.
Three Marine artillerymen currently deployed with RCT-6 were present during the initial push into Iraq in 2003, and these same men returned with a new mission – to see the conclusion of artillery’s chronicle in Anbar province.
On Monday, May 25, a roadside bomb blast killed three people in demonstration of the fact that Iraq has failed at the present to adequately address the issue of the Sons of Iraq.
A roadside bomb killed three Americans traveling in Falluja on Monday, including a State Department official working at the United States Embassy in Baghdad, American officials said Tuesday.
The State Department official, Terrence Barnich, was deputy director of the Iraq Transition Assistance Office in Baghdad. A resident of Chicago, he was hired for the job in January 2007, according to State Department officials.
The attack also killed an American soldier and a civilian working for the Defense Department. Their names were being withheld pending notification of relatives. Two civilians working for the Defense Department were wounded, the officials said.
The attack took place within a few miles of the bridge where four American contractors were killed in March 2004, their bodies burned and mutilated, and dragged through the streets. The jarring images of that attack were a major factor in the American military’s decision to begin its first major offensive in Falluja, a center of the Sunni insurgency, months later.
The insurgency is fundamentally defeated, but not completely absent. But the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) has ensured that the U.S. forces don’t have the freedom, latitude or authority that was once theirs. Each security incident brings with it the threat that Iraq will demand that U.S. Soldiers be tried in Iraqi courts for crimes against Iraqi citizens.
U.S. Soldiers and Marines will soon be out of cities altogether under the SOFA. There are troubling signs, including the fact that there appears to be a stark failure to honor agreements made to the Sons of Iraq. In the South, the Basra police are simply dreadful.
In March 2008, about the same time the 793rd arrived in Baghdad, the Iraqi army swept through Basra and cleaned out the Shiite-backed militias who waged much of the violence in the area.
During the campaign, some Basra police either joined the militias or abandoned their posts, according to Marine 1st Lt. Mike Masters, the intelligence officer for an Iraqi army training unit inside Basra.
They are attempting to live down this reputation. Nonetheless, violence against the Basra police is as prevalent as ever, and “earlier this month, the top police chief in Basra survived an assassination attempt outside his home. A police lieutenant colonel was not as lucky and died last weekend in an attack.”
But there are also encouraging signs. The newly elected Speaker of Parliament is shaping that institution into one that might be able to hold the Maliki administration accountable for its ineptitude. There will be both encouraging and discouraging reports coming from Iraq for a long time to come. But given the basic framework for U.S. involvement and the phase of the campaign, the Iraqis have an opportunity at a functional society. Any future violence is in their hands and on their collective conscience. It belongs to them now.