More bad news for the anti-war leftwingnuts.
Michael Goldfarb from the Weekly Standard interviews Colonel Ricky Giibs, Commander, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. He discusses the progress of the Army in the Iraq Theater of Operations:
……Gibbs said “things have been going, and continue to be going, very very well.” His command had only seen one casualty in the last three months. They’d gone two and half months without out a single casualty he said, but just in the last two weeks he’d had one soldier killed in action and another suffer wounds from and IED blast. He described the incident as an “unfortunate, but lucky, stray round that killed one of our soldiers.”
The decline in violence was attributed to a number of factors, but primarily the fact that, as Gibbs said, “we have defeated al Qaeda in Rashid, and what little that are here, are low level soldiers that are without leadership or supply.” He said they’d “taken out all of those leaders,” and that he’s “not worried about al Qaeda anymore.” On the other hand, Gibbs did say that Shia extremists groups were a serious concern. But he qualified that statement by saying even there the violence has been kept to a minimum:
The people are tired of the violence, and whenever it comes up, they very quickly, within 24-48 hours, tell us who did it, where they’re at, and we go in and get them.
These tips are a major contributor to the reduction in violence, he said, but he was quick to point out that just as important was the Coalition’s targeting of senior insurgent leaders.
Other “really good news for us,” Gibbs said, was that the people of Rashid have “embraced reconciliation.” I asked him how he would respond to the charge that any reduction in violence might be attributed to massive ethnic cleansing, which has segregated Baghdad’s neighborhoods. His response:
“I dispute that claim that ethnic cleansing is already done. We have lots of mixed areas, we do have some Sunni only areas–and when I say Sunni only I mean 80 percent Sunni, the rest is Shia and others–but we’re not seeing any violence in those mixed neighborhoods. And that’s attributable to the reconciliation efforts we have ongoing here.
Another theory I bounced off him, which was Newsweek, was that the Iraqis are merely getting better at hiding the bodies (Iraq’s Marlo Stansfields as FP Passport put it).
“We have pretty good techniques for finding bodies–and again, dead bodies equal violence, and the people are telling us about the violence when it happens, and we’re getting in there very quickly to confirm or deny those reports.”
Gibbs also described a “great decline in IED events,” though they did have one soldiers seriously wounded last week. But when he first got to Iraq in Feb. 07 (for his third tour), he said his men were hitting two, three, and sometimes four or more IEDs a day. Now he says the frequency is about once every two weeks.
Gibbs also said his men had received 42 MRAPs so far this year, and that the soldiers are very pleased with them. Only one has been hit with an IED, he said, on Thanksgiving Day, but the vehicle sustained only limited damage, and the soldier thanked him for the vehicle, though as he said, “I had nothing to with getting them, but I’m very happy to have them.” We’ve been fairly critical of MRAP here–or at least the excessive politicization of the program. When asked whether MRAP presented any problems from a counterinsurgency perspective–whether the vehicles, owing to their size, might intimidate the local population.
“I don’t know where some of those rumors come from, but we have them all over the Rashid security district, and there’s been no hiccup, or no commotion amongst the Iraqi people as to what is this thing, no talk whatsoever. I don’t even know where that came from….it’s really helped me a lot and my soldiers are happy to have it.”
For the record–I’ve been pushing that theory here (though I’m not the only one), and apparently I’m dead wrong.
Gibbs was positive about the local government, which he says he deals with every day. Though “they’re just learning how to [govern],” he said local officials were focused on two main tasks: restoring essential services and facilitating the return of displaced families. Gibbs said he is helping with funding and security for both these tasks. He said it’s hard to tell how many are coming back, partly because many return at night, but that he believes they are returning in great numbers. Interestingly, he said the neighborhood councils and the tribes have “taken it upon themselves” to clear houses for returning refugees, and to relocate squatters without the involvement of U.S. forces. “We’re not in the business of displacing anybody,” he said.
His priorities for the future: restore essential services and hire police recruits (as many as 6,000 from the 2,000 “sectarian” and no-show policemen they currently have on the roles). His main challenge with regard to hiring new police, he said, was not recruiting, but vetting the candidates. But the district also has its own concerned local citizens, which have not shied away from confrontations with local militias, and as recently as last week battled one group that he could not identify: “it’s all very hush-hush, but there was a flare up of gunshots, they both separated and went their own different directions.”
More good news: Gibbs said “we’ve not seen much” in the way of Iranian influence in his AO. Just a few smaller arms caches, but none showing obvious Iranian materiel. He described this as a “big change” from when he first arrived and the summer months. Asked what this might be attributed to, he posited that the Sadr ceasefire might be a part of it, and he also speculated that it might be a result of political engagement with Iran.
He added that there was “no doubt in my military mind” that the Sadrists could quickly ramp up their operations in his sector and cause more problems. This was his “number once concern,” he said, but he saw no indication that the truce was likely to break down in the near future. He even said that they were dealing with elements of Sadr’s militia, which were assisting in their targeting of rogue elements that had broken the ceasefire.
Finally, he said that while his troops would rather be home for Christmas, “morale is very high,” mainly because for the first time the troops can see the fruit of their labor. “The Soldiers see that,” he said, “they know that progress is moving forward.” “The kids are giving them high-fives, and all you’re hearing now is ‘can you help with my electricity?'” Gibbs said he’d be donning a Santa hat to visit with his troops at their Combat Outposts for the holiday.
Did you get that comment from the Newsweek turd? “The Iraqis are just geting better at “hiding bodies”.
What the fuck, over?
What an asinine statement. But then, Newsweek was the rag that fabricated the “Koran flushing” incident.
First of all, what would the motivation be for “hiding bodies”, as Marlo Stansfields fatuously suggests? To ‘fool’ the MSM? I haven’t read Newsweek or Time for that matter, in years. Everytime one of their imbecilic “reporters” opens their piehole, I’m reminded why.