Terror Training Camps


If you want a heart-breaking glimpse into the incompetence of president Bush and vice-president Cheney, and the viciousness of the enemy they are losing to, just take a look at what U.S. troops are dealing with in Baquba, Iraq. Because of insufficient troops and hapless war-management, we have spent four years helping Islamist terrorists develop skills, financing and tactics that are the equal of any insurgent army in the world. And the number of troops we have sent is just enough to keep losing and yet also train Islamist thugs and butchers. We should start thinking of vast tracts of Iraq as terror-training camps unwittingly set up by the president. Here's the murderous stew this president's policy has spawned:

Despite recent seizures of stockpiles, the insurgents have a ready supply of artillery shells and material to make bombs, the biggest killer of American troops here. Some bombs destroy American vehicles. Some are used to booby-trap houses to crash down on Americans. Some are used in larger battle plans: Before overrunning an Iraqi Army outpost south of Baquba, guerrillas laid bombs on the road that Iraqi and American forces would later use to try to rescue the outpost. The minefield blocked the reinforcements, and the Iraqi soldiers at the outpost fled.

The guerrillas seem increasingly well organized and trained. An insurgent force trying to overrun an American outpost in southern Baquba was repelled only after American soldiers fired more than 2,000 Coke-bottle-size rounds from Bradley fighting vehicles and 13,000 rounds from M-240 machine guns.

"They were firing from every direction, trying to get us to concentrate on one spot while the other guys were maneuvering," said Cpl. Bill McGrath, who said the M-240 barrels glowed cherry red and had to be swapped out a half-dozen times. "These were well-trained military types, not like the guys who shoot tanks with AK-47s. A lot of these guys we never saw. We’d just see muzzle flashes."

The tactics reflect the skill and resolve of the insurgency here, soldiers say. "To say the guys we are fighting are any less smarter than me, that would be crazy," said Lt. Col. Morris Goins, commander of the 1-12 Combined Arms Battalion.

The only safe space in Baquba is an outpost housing U.S. soldiers who are also being killed at a higher rate in Baquba than elsewhere in the "country." The soldiers, like most soldiers, have a reality-based name for their outpost. They call it Disneyland. It would describe the White House right now as well.

(Photo: Iraqis search for missing relatives among the bodies of victims of violence outside the morgue of a hospital in the restive city of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, 03 December 2006, as sixteen Iraqis were killed in acts of violence in the city. By Ali Yussef/AFP/Getty.)