The Iraq War did not end and US troops continue to die in Iraq. Chad Garland (STARS AND STRIPES) notes that 8 US troops died in Iraq and Syria in 2020. We cover Iraq so we'll include the 6 who died in Iraq:
Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo
Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo, 34, of Simi Valley, Calif., was killed on March 8 alongside another special operations Marine during a joint U.S.-Iraq raid to destroy an ISIS hideout in a mountainous area of northern Iraq.
“They were intelligent, courageous and loyal,” said Col. John Lynch, head of Marine Raider Regiment, to which both men were assigned. “They were also family men.”
Pongo, a member of 2nd Marine Raider Battalion out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., joined the service in 2004 and had served eight years with the elite Raiders. He was an advanced sniper, a foreign weapons instructor and a combat marksmanship leader.
Capt. Moises A. Navas
Capt. Moises A. Navas, 34, of Germantown, Md., was killed along with Pongo on March 8.
Like Pongo, he joined the Marines in 2004 and was with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion. He earned his commission through an enlisted-to-officer program in 2010 and served as an infantry officer before becoming a Raider in 2016.
“They were dedicated leaders, true professionals in their craft, and willing to go above and beyond for the mission and their team,” said Lynch, their regimental commander.
He and Pongo were killed while accompanying Iraqi forces on a mission during which they discovered a well-defended cave complex in the mountains. About two dozen ISIS fighters were reportedly killed in the firefight.
Staff Sgt. Marshal D. Roberts
Air Force Staff Sgt. Marshal D. Roberts, 28, of Owasso, Okla., died March 11 as the result of a rocket attack on Camp Taji, Iraq, that also killed Army Spc. Juan Miquel Mendez Covarrubias and 26-year-old British combat medic Lance Cpl. Brodie Gillon.
Roberts joined the service in May 2014 and was the senior personnel noncommissioned officer on the deployment with the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron of the Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 138th Fighter Wing, which is headquartered in Tulsa.
Roberts was a “dedicated Airman, mentor and leader,” said Col. Michael Meason, commander of the wing, where Roberts’ wife also served. The couple had an 8-year-old daughter.
“We are devastated by the loss of Staff Sgt. Roberts who served selflessly and with honor,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, Oklahoma’s adjutant general.
Spc. Juan Miquel Mendez Covarrubias
Spc. Juan Miquel Mendez Covarrubias, 27, of Hanford, Calif., a member of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Air Cavalry Brigade out of Fort Hood, Texas, was promoted to specialist following his death on March 11 in the rocket attack on Camp Taji.
The signal support systems specialist joined the Army in 2018 and served with the brigade’s 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment since March 2019. He deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in October 2019.
“The regiment and his fellow Soldiers are grieving the loss of a true warrior,” his battalion commander Lt. Col. Adam S. Camarano said in a statement expressing condolences to his friends.
Sgt. 1st Class John David Hilty
Sgt. 1st Class John David Hilty, a 44-year-old soldier from Bowie, Md., died in a noncombat incident on March 30 in northern Iraq, a few months before he was expected to retire.
The petroleum supply specialist was serving with the Fort Hood, Texas-based 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
“He was an exceptional leader who will be sorely missed throughout the entire formation,” said 1-227th commander Lt. Col. Adam Camarano.
The father of a son who was born around the time of his third deployment to Afghanistan in late 2008, Hilty joined the Army as a combat engineer in April 1999 and deployed to Iraq in October 2019.
Sgt. Christopher Wesley Curry
Sgt. Christopher Wesley Curry, 23, of Terre Haute, Ind., died May 4 in a noncombat incident in Irbil, in northern Iraq.
He was serving with the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, out of Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
“His honesty, light heartedness, and wit will always be remembered by his brothers in arms,” said Lt. Col. Jimmy Howell, the battalion commander.
His father, Michael Curry, served 22 years in the Army, and his two brothers are in the service.
“Being in the military, I have lost friends who I consider family,” Michael Curry told Terre Haute’s Fox 10 television news, days after his son’s death. “I never thought it would hit home like it has. I have two other sons that are still in the military. I thought they would all come back home to me safe and sound.”
No, the Iraq War hasn't ended. No, US troops have not left the country. Most of the US media has left, they left primarily as 2008 wound down. They were bored. A war is boring, right? No need to pay attention, right?
Turning to a new topic, a mine on a tanker. Julianne Geigger (OIL PRICE) reported on Thursday:
A Liberian-flagged fuel oil tanker off the coast of Iraq has been identified to be carrying a “suspicious object” according to sailors, which could be a mine.
The suspicious object was reported by authorities on Thursday, and comes as relations between the United States and Iran continue to sour.
According to two private security companies, sailors think they have found a limpet mine on the tanker MT Pola, a floating fuel oil storage tanker that is Liberian-flagged but owned by a shipping company traded in the United States. The vessel serves Iraq’s SOMO.
Friday, AP noted, "Iraqi explosives experts were working to defuse a large mine discovered on an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf and evacuate its crew, authorities said Friday." Today, ASHARQ AL-ASWAT reports:
A mine that was attached to the hull of an Iraqi oil tanker was defused two days after it was discovered, Iraq’s military said in a statement on Saturday.
The tanker was in international waters about 28 nautical miles (52 km) off Iraq’s coast in the Gulf and supplying another ship with fuel when the device was discovered on Thursday afternoon.
AP adds, "The discovery came amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. in the final days of President Donald Trump’s administration." In possibly related news, the government of Iran is accusing the government of Israel of plotting to start a war. THE TIMES OF ISRAEL reports:
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed Saturday that Israeli agents were planning to attack American targets in order to instigate an aggressive US reaction against Iran and spark armed conflict, warning President Donald Trump to avoid such a “trap.”
And he warned that any attack against the Islamic Republic by the US would “backfire badly” on Washington’s “BFFs” (an initialism for “best friends forever”), in an apparent reference to the Jewish state.
Don't you love it when government officials Tweet like tweens?
President Donald Trump's administration argued that the assassination of Revolutionary Guard Quds Force Major General Qassem Soleimani last January made the Middle East and the world a safer place. But on the one-year anniversary of the incident, officials of Iran, Israel and Iraq told Newsweek that tensions remain high across the region.
With less than three weeks left in Trump's tenure, the temperature was especially high for fear of a sudden escalation, planned or miscalculated, which could quickly lead to a conflict of unknown proportions and unforeseen consequences.
So the day before the third, NEWSWEEK discovers the story? Will there be violence in Iraq tomorrow? You can be sure, there's violence every day since the US started the illegal war back in 2003. But will there be violence instigated by the government of Iraq? I hope not. But it is a possibility. And if it happens -- or if something happens that can be misconstrued (intentionally or not) -- the US may go to war with Iran. Would have been nice if US outlets could have given a heads up on that a week or two ago -- or even on a real news day and not the Saturday after a holiday.
At POLITICO, Michael Knights observes, "A number of observers have speculated that a violent clash with Iran would be President Donald Trump’s final and most destabilizing act in office. But there is every possibility that revenge for Soleimani and Muhandis might be the first crisis of the Biden administration instead."
And in 'the stupidity never ends,' RUDAW reports:
Victims and families of Iraqi civilians who were killed by the American
Blackwater security company in Baghdad in 2007 plan to sue outgoing US
President Donald Trump who last month granted pardons for the convicted
killers, victims told Rudaw this week.
“The decision to release these criminals was wrong. Such a decision should not be made. Where is the international community and human rights [groups] on this decision?” asked Jassim Mohammed, who at the time was working as a courier for the Iraqi Interior Ministry and was injured in the incident.
“We, the injured and families of the martyrs, have agreed to hire a lawyer to sue Trump in international courts for releasing the criminals,” he said.
Oh, the international courts? Help me out, Jassim, what idiot told you the US government respects or answers to the international courts? Whoever told you that lied to you. At least the idiot who talked you into suing -- attorneys will always take money from the unsuspecting -- didn't lie to you so big that you're trying to sue in the US.
Evan Liberty, one of the four pardoned, served six years. That's more time than any other Americans got for shooting Iraqi civilians dead. He says that there's more to the story of the incident. I'm sure there is. I don't know if the 'more' would mean that the four are victims of 'fog of war' or not. But I do know the State Dept rushed in back in 2007 and they did so not because they cared about the four men, they did so to cover for the US government.
Blackwater was in Iraq at the behest of the US government (one reason the US State Dept cut the deal they did to keep Blackwater mercenaries out of court) and the Iraqi government allowed them in. Suing over that? Maybe. But to sue a president because he pardoned someone? That's nothing the courts have a say over.
Maybe the international courts will rule in favor of Jassam? Could happen. They could also decide that pardoning someone serving a sentence goes to issues that they can't rule on. For example, had the four not been pardoned this year but applied for parole and received it, would Jassam and company be suing? At what point is the international court comfortable jumping into legal affairs of another country?
Again, it might rule in Jassam's favor. If so, it will only be a symbolic victory because the US government does not listen to rulings of any international court -- not rulings against it. They ignore those and this is not a new development, Donald didn't invent it, it was true under Barack, it was true under Bully Boy Bush, it was true under Bill, it was true under HW, it was true under Ronald, it was true under Jimmy, it was true . . .
Again, this is not new.
In other stupidity news, the retired FBI idiot who was one of the investigators on the case, John M. Patarini, is swearing that the 2007 event was "'a massacre along the lines of My Lai in Vietnam." No, you stupid fool, it wasn't. That is outrageous and offensive.
You can believe what took place in 2007 was wrong -- as I do and called it out from the beginning -- and still say, "Just one damn minute."
That's because Blackwater was driving through the area, transporting an unidentified US 'diplomat,' and the mercenaries opened fire on civilians. This wasn't premeditated or planned -- however, My Lai was.
The Mỹ Lai massacre (//; Vietnamese: Thảm sát Mỹ Lai [tʰâːm ʂǎːt mǐˀ lāːj] (listen)) was the Vietnam War mass murder of unarmed South Vietnamese civilians by U.S. troops in Sơn Tịnh District, South Vietnam, on March 16, 1968. Between 347 and 504 unarmed people were killed by U.S. Army soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment and Company B, 4th Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, 23rd (Americal) Infantry Division. Victims included men, women, children, and infants. Some of the women were gang-raped and their bodies mutilated, as were children as young as 12. Twenty-six soldiers were charged with criminal offenses, but only Lieutenant William Calley Jr., a platoon leader in C Company, was convicted. Found guilty of killing 22 villagers, he was originally given a life sentence, but served only three-and-a-half years under house arrest.
This war crime, which was later called "the most shocking episode of the Vietnam War", took place in two hamlets of Sơn Mỹ village in Quảng Ngãi Province. These hamlets were marked on the U.S. Army topographic maps as Mỹ Lai and Mỹ Khê.
The U.S. Army slang name for the hamlets and sub-hamlets in that area was Pinkville, and the carnage was initially referred to as the Pinkville Massacre. Later, when the U.S. Army started its investigation, the media changed it to the Massacre at Songmy. Currently, the event is referred to as the Mỹ Lai Massacre in the United States and called the Sơn Mỹ Massacre in Vietnam.
The incident prompted global outrage when it became public knowledge in November 1969. The incident increased to some extent domestic opposition to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War when the scope of killing and cover-up attempts were exposed. Initially, three U.S. servicemen who had tried to halt the massacre and rescue the hiding civilians were shunned, and even denounced as traitors by several U.S. Congressmen, including Mendel Rivers, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Only after 30 years were they recognized and decorated, one posthumously, by the U.S. Army for shielding non-combatants from harm in a war zone. Along with the No Gun Ri massacre in South Korea 18 years earlier, Mỹ Lai was one of the largest publicized massacres of civilians by U.S. forces in the 20th century.
So they were gathered together, the US troops involved, the night before and told to kill everything (even anything that "growled"). So, no, this is nowhere near My Lai.
What is? Many other incidents. That would include the murder of four Iraqis by US troops who plotted the murder. They left base, after plotting for days, because they were disgusting pieces of trash who wanted to gang-rape a 14-year-old Iraqi girl. And they gang-raped her. And they killed her two parents and her younger sister while they gang-raped her. Then they killed her.
That's a hell of a lot closer to My Lai.
But, hey, who expects perspective, right? Let's just make up any s**t we want and pretends it's okay to do so, is that how you do it, Patarini? His ego is so large yet his sense of perspective is so tiny.
Jassim, the Iraqi injured, should note that only one person 'served' time for the massacre in Vietnam and he 'served' it under house arrest and before four years were up, he was set free.
Again, take it for a win that the four served time -- actual time, not a house arrest -- and that they served for years (plural). The US State Dept ensured that this case would be problematic.
Beth asked me to note the year-in pieces and to say "C.I." and not "my" to make it easier for others to copy and paste:
C.I.'s "2020: The Year Long Walk Of Shame," Ruth's "Ruth's Streaming Report," Kat's "2020 in music" and Martha & Shirley's "2020 in Books (Martha & Shirley)," Ann's "2020 in films" and Stan's "2020 in films" (joint-post) and Rebecca's "sexiest men of 2020."
The following sites updated: