Thursday, June 26, 2008

Buried in the back yard: Dig anywhere in Iraq & find wall-to-wall weapons caches?

Anyone who has ever read anything I've written since George W. Bush stole the presidential election in 2000 will know that when it comes to writing about Bush, Cheney and the neo-cons, nothing is sacred. I've lampooned them, criticized them, exposed them for the crooks and liars that they are, demanded that they be put in jail IMMEDIATELY and made jokes at their expense. However, I've always had the utmost respect for the American military and have never ever made jokes at their expense.

Until now.

I'm sorry, guys, but I just can't resist.

Several months ago I got an e-mail from a US military press information center in Baghdad, asking me if I wanted to be on their "Press Release" mailing list. Sure! Maybe I could get some hot tips. And I did. What I discovered was that, according to these daily press releases, apparently there is nothing but wall-to-wall weapons caches lying just underground all over Iraq! Dig anywhere in that country and instead of coming up with oil or date-palm roots or garbage or sewer lines or graves, you will find nothing but weapons caches! Judging by these press releases, the whole country is one big freaking "cache cow"!

Enclosed below some samples of the press releases I have received over the space of only one week. Admit it, guys, this really IS good satire material. Apparently, according to the releases that are flooding my inbox daily, all you gotta do is dig down more than one foot deep anywhere in Iraq and you'll find mortar rounds, rocket launchers, machine guns, dynamite, detonation cords, hand grenades and/or IEDs.

So. After reading approximately 40 or 50 of the US military's press releases listing all kinds of weapons caches buried in Iraq, what have I learned? I've learned that either the US military is really good at digging up stuff, that the insurgency is still going strong even after five long hard bloody years of occupation, or that the weapons manufacturers of the world have a HUGE demand for their products and are experiencing yet another year of fabulous profits!

But there is an up-side to the weapons-cache situation in Iraq. According to journalist Tom Engelhardt, Bush and Cheney are now building or have already built approximately 200 permanent American bases and mega-bases there. "By now," stated Engelhardt, "billions have evidently gone into single massive mega-bases like the U.S. air base at Balad, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. It's a '16-square-mile fortress,' housing perhaps 40,000 U.S. troops, contractors, special ops types and Defense Department employees. As the Washington Post's Tom Ricks, who visited Balad back in 2006, pointed out -- in a rare piece on one of our mega-bases -- it's essentially 'a small American town smack in the middle of the most hostile part of Iraq.' Back then, air traffic at the base was already being compared to Chicago's O'Hare International or London's Heathrow -- and keep in mind that Balad has been steadily upgraded ever since to support an 'air surge' that, unlike the President's [sic] 2007 'surge' of 30,000 ground troops, has yet to end."

So. We can now rest assured that not ALL of the ground under Iraq contains wall-to-wall weapons caches. All those vast expanses of Iraq that are now covered with American military bases -- or which will be covered with even more American military bases in the near future -- are gonna be cache-free. Whew! That's a relief!

Here are the promised samples of press releases regarding weapons caches found in Iraq -- and this is just a example of what I get in my inbox within the space of any given week.

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq -- Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 25th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division found a cache of multiple mortar rounds near Abu Hamid, about 30 kilometers southwest of Baghdad, May 1. Acting on a tip, the soldiers found a cache in two different holes that consisted of over 40 mortar rounds, a 120 mm artillery round, 12 boosters, one canister of TNT and various illumination round components.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq -- Coalition forces found a weapons cache of explosively formed penetrators in the southern Baghdad community of Warij May 2. Soldiers from 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division were on patrol in Warij when they discovered four EFPs hidden in a closet shelf in a factory office. A brand new 107 mm rocket was also discovered. The EFPs were covered with foam and had wires leading from the back. The cache also included 40 pounds of unknown bulk explosives, a rocket sled and blasting caps.

BAGHDAD -- A local citizen's tip led to a cache find in Kartani Fahal village in Sadr al-Yusifiyah, about 25 kilometers southwest of Baghdad. After receiving the tip, Soldiers from 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), arrived on the scene to find Abna al-Iraq, or Sons of Iraq, already recovering the cache, with Iraqi Army troops providing security. The cache contained 36 mortars, 17 rocket-propelled grenade rounds, 11 rocket-propelled grenade launch motors, an improvised rocket launcher, two rockets, a hand grenade, seven 50-pound bags of homemade explosives, over 300 rounds, and 400 blasting cap primers, a mortar tripod and three mortar tube sites as well as other bomb-making materials.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq -- Multi-National Division -- Center soldiers discovered a weapons cache while patrolling the town of Wardia, Iraq. The cache belonged to a local criminal group known for targeting Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition forces 50 miles northeast of Baghdad. Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, and 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, found the cache through tips from Abna
al-Iraq, or Sons of Iraq, and National Police sources. The cache included Iranian rocket-propelled grenades, RPG launchers, propellant, multiple trip flares, a heavy machine gun, ski masks and ISF uniforms.

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi Army Scouts with 1st IA Division, advised by U.S. Special Operations Forces, discovered three weapons cache sites in al-Karmah, approximately 27 miles northwest of Baghdad. IA conducted an operation in the area to find and recover al-Qaeda in Iraq weapons caches in the area. Three separate caches were found containing a total of 24,000 .50 caliber rounds, 50 mortar rounds of various sizes, and 2,000 gallons of nitric acid, a substance used to make homemade explosives.

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq -- While conducting operations in Warij, a local Iraqi led soldiers to a munitions cache. Three criminals were also detained. Two have been linked to indirect fire attacks against Coalition forces south of Baghdad. The cache contained four mortar rounds, a bag of machine-gun ammunition, three cans of DSHKA ammunition and a rocket-propelled grenade motor.

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi Security Forces, Sons of Iraq (Abna al-Iraq) and Multi-National Division -- Baghdad soldiers seized caches and recovered weapons across Baghdad. At approximately 9:20 a.m., SOI members in Adhamiyah discovered a possible improvised explosive device that had been inadvertently picked up by a sanitation truck. The SOI found two 81 mm projectiles, a 120 mm Hera Mark I mortar, a projectile booster and detonation cord.

At approximately 10:45 a.m., Iraqi National Police, along with soldiers from the Company D, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, seized munitions found in an abandoned mosque while conducting a patrol in east Rashid. MND-B soldiers secured the area as the Iraqi Police obtained permission to enter the mosque. The Iraqi Police entered the abandoned mosque and seized two containers of home-made explosive, a rocket-propelled grenade with launcher and a smoke grenade, along with an Iraqi Army uniform.

At approximately 6:50 a.m., soldiers with Company C, 4th Battalion, 64th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, discovered a weapons cache containing three 107 mm rockets, five RPGs, a 60 mm mortar and 200 rounds of PKC light machine gun ammunition during a combat patrol in west Rashid.

At approximately 4 p.m., soldiers with Co. B, 4th Bn., 64th Armored Regt., discovered a weapons cache consisting of eight 155 mm projectiles and five 60 mm mortar rounds while on patrol in west Rashid.

PS: Did you note that bad guys in Iraq are no longer being called insurgents, terrorists, Al Qaeda, militias or even The Enemy in these press releases now? Now they are simply being referred to as "criminals".