American soldiers describe the constant stress of living in a war zone, voice their frustrations over the politics with the war strategy in Washington, and are seen as they watch an armored vehicle burn with six of their fellow troops trapped inside, in a rare and raw look at what American troops are experiencing on the front lines in Baghdad.
“I challenge anybody in Congress to do my rotation,” said Spc. Michael Vassell of Apache Company. “They don’t have to do anything, they just come hang out with me and go home at the times I go home, and come stay here 15 months with me.”
Apache Company was sent to Iraq in June 2006 for a 12-month rotation which has since been extended to a 15-month tour.
“It’s a joke. We will have spent 14 months in contact, basically fighting all 14 months,” said Cpl. Joshua Lake. “Our battalion got right to Baghdad … first week we were in Baghdad we lost two guys in our battalion … it hasn’t stopped since.”
“Because we have people up there in Congress with the brain of a 2-year-old who don’t know what they are doing — they don’t experience it. I challenge the president or anyone who has us for 15 months to ride alongside me,” Vassell said. “I [would] do another 15 months if he comes out here and rides along with me every day for 15 months. I’ll do 15 more months. They don’t even have to pay me extra.”
In this photo, six American soldiers and an Iraqi translator are burning to death inside the armored vehicle. Cpl. Joshua Lake from Apache Company told Sean Smith, “It’s a joke. We will have spent 14 months in contact, basically fighting all 14 months…first week in Baghdad we lost two guys in our battalion, and it hasn’t stopped since.”
The fact that the Republican controlled DOD has neglected to provide the troops in Iraq with Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAP), rather than the highly vulnerable Humvees, certainly will not have impressed those whose lives are most at risk.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates late last month, two U.S. senators said the delays cost the lives of an estimated “621 to 742 Americans” who would have survived explosions had they been in MRAPs rather than Humvees.
The report concerning the donations to the Ron Paul campaign are hugely significant. The US military has traditionally been conservative and extremely loyal to the sitting president, especially in a time of war. This departure from the norm would not be visible where it not for major discontent in the military towards Washington in general, but especially the dead enders who insist on supporting the troops while simultaneously voting against placing limits on the number of redeployments.
Meanwhile, the dead enders still supporting the surge and know that the game is over, but even at this late stage, would rather send more soldiers off to die than admit a mistake.
In yesterday’s Washington Post, not only did Bob Woodward report that the Bush administration ignored the fact that CIA Director Michael V. Hayden told the Iraq Study Group that “inability of the [Iraqi] government to govern seems irreversible,” adding that he could not “point to any milestone or checkpoint where we can turn this thing around,” but also the fact that Thomas Fingar, the top intelligence analyst in the office of the national intelligence director, argues that “the surge… has not yet had a sufficient effect on the violence, [and levels of violence] have not yet been reduced significantly.”