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May 06, 2005

Scattered notes.

Thanks to all the emailers informing me that Colonel (ret) Hackworth died. Really long time readers will know that I am *not* a Hackworth enthusiast. I run in a circle which includes several officers and soldiers who served with Hackworth in Vietnam, and suffice it to say, I do not hold his theatrics there and subsequent to that in the same high regard that many readers seem to. Which is okay. Your mileage can vary.

That Colonel Hackworth was a lion of a man as a warrior there is no doubt, and I honor his courage and committment. That he saw himself as a soldier's champion, and worked for their betterment and benefit in his subsequent career is also true.

And he could tell a hell of a war story.

Moving on...

Abu Ghraib. Finally, an officer scalp of sorts. Former Brigadier General, now Colonel Karpinski got busted for incompetence. Good. Oh, well there's also that shoplifting thing.

Neal A. Puckett, Karpinski's attorney, told The Washington Post that the Army is saying "she's the only senior leader that had any part in this, but they're saying she didn't have a direct part in it." The Army is severing the chain of command "right at her eyeball level, and not letting it go higher," Puckett told the newspaper.

The Army did not explain the specifics of the allegations, but a number of previous investigations of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuses have accused Karpinski of failing to maintain order and prevent the abuses. She has said publicly that she was not given full authority over Abu Ghraib and that when photographs of the abuse became public she was made a scapegoat.

A U.S. government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Karpinski was accused of shoplifting a cosmetic item from a shop at a domestic Air Force base while she held the rank of colonel. Karpinski did not report her arrest for this misdemeanor on a later background check, the official said. In an interview with CBS News last year, Karpinski denied shoplifting.

Regardless of culpability of more senior officers, Karpinski looks like she got what she had coming. And her conduct before, during, and after were embarassing to the Officer Corps, much less herself. One wonders how she slipped through the ceiling, in a sense. Her pension is *still* going to be larger than mine, and I kinda resent that... well, mebbe not, I don't know how many points she has.

Then there are the bizarre twists of the PFC England case. She's small potatoes, mostly notorious because of the photos, and it's the photos which make it easier to go for the low-level players in this drama. Smoking guns are hard to come by on the senior people - but it's good to see the Defense teams are still pushing that envelope. There are a string of Non-Commissioned and Commissioned officers between now-Private Graner and BG Karpinski who probably should still dangle from the rope of public scrutiny and judicial or non-judicial action. But you have to have those smoking guns to get at them via the UCMJ, and evidence that satisfies journalists doesn't always satisfy Courts Martial panels. In her case, they're going to start over, from scratch, with a new Article 32 hearing (kind of a Grand Jury equivalent in purpose, if not at all in conduct).

Moving on...

Al-Qaeda has some whiners, too.

Many potential recruits have backed off because they do not want to get themselves killed while murdering civilians, or in futile attempts to kill Americans. Al Qaeda has become like a cornered beast, mad with rage and snapping at anything within range, including its own young. Al Qaeda in Iraq has no future, and a present that is increasingly unpalatable to its own members.

More details on the melt-down and moral bankruptcy of the Wahabist Insurgency is in the Extended post.

H/T, Strategy Page.

Still some major operations occuring in Afghanistan, too. Keep your scan running, MSG Keith!

Keeping with the 'accountability theme - the Blackhawk pilot cited in an earlier post, has pleaded guilty to negligent homicide. Good for him that he takes responsibliity, and I think this answers your questions, Cricket. Very odd quirk of the system that he's going to do 120 days visiting us here at Fort Leavenworth, then retire with his pension, and, one assumes, a "General" discharge. Weirdness.

Moving on...

The Senior Leadership of the Army paid attention to the soldiers doing the taking the risks and doing the dying, and approved the Combat Action Badge, vice the originally proposed Close Combat Badge, which was going to be more restrictive, inaptly so, thought many, including yours truly. From General Schoomaker, Chief of Staff, Army:


The new Combat Action Badge (CAB) has been approved by Army leadership, who created the badge to recognize all Soldiers who are in combat with the enemy. The new badge is in keeping with the Warrior Ethos displayed by all Soldiers, regardless of rank or military occupational specialty. The badge recognizes the reality of today's 360 degree battlefield.

The Combat Action Badge design is still pre-decisional. The requirements to be awarded the badge are as follows.

- Be a U.S. Army Soldier.
- Rank, Branch and Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) are immaterial.
- Performing assigned duties in an area where hostile fire pay or imminent danger pay is authorized.
- Not eligible for award of the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) or Combat Medical Badge (CMB) at the time of the action cited.
- Personally present and actively engaging or being engaged by the enemy, and performing satisfactorily in accordance with the prescribed rules of engagement.
- Battle or campaign participation credit alone is not sufficient; the Soldier must engage or be engaged by the enemy.

Commanders at the rank of Major General will have award authority.

Although a Close Combat Badge (CCB) was considered as an option, Army leadership decided the CAB best meets the intent of field commanders to fully recognize Soldier actions in combat.

For more information about all the Army's badges, symbols and insignia, visit

Moving on... frequent commenter Monteith has asked about this before. Gun Trucks. Here's your answer.

More from Strategy Page:

IRAQ: Frustrated Terrorists Seek Tactics That Will Work May 6, 2005; The January 30 Parliament finally selected government ministers this week. Terrorist attacks have killed over 250 people, mostly civilians, in the last week. The terrorist campaign is remarkable for its persistence, and neffectiveness. Actually, the terror campaign is beyond ineffective. It is the major reason why popular opinion in Iraq, and the Arab world, has turned against al Qaeda. When the terrorist bombings began to kill large numbers of civilians back in late 2003, many Iraqis believed the Americans were behind the attacks. Iraqis didn't believe al Qaeda and the Baath Party terrorists could be so stupid. Now, Iraqis consider al Qaeda and the Baath Party terrorists to be depraved, and rather clueless, butchers. Even the Sunni Arab international media is having a hard time selling the terrorists as brave warriors fighting the foreign invaders. The terror campaign in Iraq is becoming a growing embarrassment in the Arab world.

The al Qaeda and Baath Party strategy of trying to trigger a civil war between the main factions in the country (Sunni Arab, Shia Arab and Kurds) has been a failure. While a few Shia leaders have called to retribution against the Sunni Arab areas where the terrorists are known to hang out, the Shia Arab leadership, particularly the religious leaders, have called for restraint, and been obeyed. There has been a Shia response to the attacks, although it is largely unreported (because most reporters, fearing injury or kidnapping, report from inside U.S. bases or well guarded hotels). The Shia have increased security along roads and in Shia neighborhoods. Most of the new police and security troops raised in the last year have been to provide security for the Shia population. The Kurds have always been well protected, although a suicide bomber got past security last week (even though he was detected and was being chased), got into a crowd of men applying for police jobs, and killed some sixty people. The police applicants always come back after these attacks. Iraqis are hard to terrorize, but easy to piss off.

Iraqis can't help but notice that less than ten percent of the terrorist victims are Americans, and that the reason for this is that the Americans have better security. The continued terrorist attacks have provided an incentive for Iraqi police and troops to pay close attention when their American advisors and instructors explain to them how a high degree of security can be achieved. There's no magic or wondrous new technology involved. The main ingredient of effective security is people who are dedicated, persistent and disciplined. These qualities were never abundant in the Iraqi police and military, except for a few units that Saddam relied on to keep the country in line. Saddam's crack commandos and intelligence operatives are now the core of the terrorist
organization. But the police and army has responded in kind, and have gotten results. It's been over six months since terrorists have been able to overrun a police station. The growing force of Iraqi SWAT teams and commandos have become such a threat that terrorists are targeting them, and their leaders.

For many Iraqis, especially those in central and western Iraq, where most of the violence takes place, security is the major concern. Sunni Arab leaders are caught between popular demands for security, and death threats from Sunni Arab terrorists. The terrorists fear that the Sunni Arab leadership will turn against them, making Iraq a hostile environment for Islamic terrorists. This has already happened in the Kurdish north, and the Shia Arab south. The drawn out debate over which Sunni Arab leaders will take cabinet positions has much to do with when, and how, the Sunni Arab tribal and religious leaders will turn on the terrorists. There are also arguments over which prominent Sunni Arabs are
acceptable as cabinet ministers. Most senior Sunni Arabs either worked for Saddam, or received benefits from him in the past. Many of these Sunni Arab leaders have, as the saying goes, "blood on their hands." The Shia Arabs and Kurds will forgive, but they won't forget. And they know that many Sunni Arabs believe that eventually Sunni Arabs will be able to maneuver themselves back into control. The Sunni Arabs are better educated, and have more dministrative experience. They do have self-confidence, ruthlessness, and the support of the Sunni Arab governments that dominate the region (and the Islamic world in general.) The Sunni Arabs have been responsible for many military coups over the last 70 years. Until 1958 there was a constitutional monarchy in Iraq. Sunni Arab generals killed the royal family and established a dictatorship that lasted
until 2003. For the Sunni Arabs, those were the good old days, and they want them back.

AFGHANISTAN: Taliban Try Using Rape as a Weapon

May 6, 2005: Three young women were found killed, by hanging, after being raped last weekend. A Taliban group took credit for "punishing collaborators" (who were working for a foreign relief organization). These murders have caused an uproar across the country, and done the Islamic radicals no good. Police have arrested two men and a woman as suspects in the case.

May 5, 2005: Fighting continued in the south, with over 64 Taliban and al Qaeda killed so far. This has been the biggest combat action in over two years, with the anti-government forces either standing and fighting, or being cut off and forced to fight. The police and army have new cross country trucks, and more training, making it more difficult for enemy troops to slip away into the hills. Moreover, American troops respond quickly to these combat situations, using helicopters to put troops astride escape routes, and using helicopters and UAVs to keep track of the enemy troops.

May 4, 2005: Fighting continued in the south, with over 70 killed so far in three days of clashes. Ten of the dead are policemen, the rest are Taliban or al Qaeda gunmen.

May 3, 2005: Warlord Jalal Bashgah is in trouble after a large explosion in one of his family compounds (where two of his brothers lived) killed 26 people in a northern Afghanistan village. Locals accuse Bashgah of hiding weapons from the UN disarmament program, while Bashgah insists that the explosives had been collected for a road building project.

In southern Afghanistan, at least twenty Taliban, and one policeman, were killed in a clash. Five policemen and six American troops were also wounded. American helicopters and aircraft cut off retreat for the Taliban, and led to the arrest of over a dozen suspects who could not escape.