Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A report from the field

I ran across this USA today article from a reporter, Kimberly Johnson, who is in Iraq. She gives a detailed view of a marine's life in the theatre of war. It's all there...the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Good for her.

The article is long, but here's how it starts out:

BAGHDAD — As the 1st Marine Division moved across the desert into Iraq on March 19, 2003, each of the 25,000 leathernecks got a letter from their commander.

Although Maj. Gen. James Mattis was known as a tough, blunt warrior — he'd later say at a panel dicussion in San Diego that "it's fun to shoot some people" — he told his troops to treat civilian non-combatants with "chivalry and soldierly compassion." "Engage your brain," he instructed, "before you engage your weapon."

If only it were that easy.

Three years later, the Marines face an allegation that, if proved, would constitute one of the worst scandals in their history: that members of a squad killed as many as two dozen civilians last year in the city of Haditha in retaliation for a roadside bombing that killed one Marine. The military is still investigating the Haditha case, as well as the possibility of a cover-up. There are two contrasting, if not contradictory, versions of what happened Nov. 19 in the city on the Euphrates River in rebellious Anbar province.

For proper context, you have to read the whole thing.

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