The Green Zone Follies Baghdad October 12, 2006

“On Tuesday, I was in my quarters, writing a letter to a friend that I knew will be censored so I was being very unspecific about conditions here.

About 2300 there was a huge explosion to the south of the Green Zone, followed at intervals by other, very heavy, explosions that numbered about thirty or forty and lasted all night. I went up onto the roof and saw a great fountain of flames, billowing smoke and flaming debris shooting up into the air like Fourth of July fireworks.

Personnel were running all over the building, wide-eyed with terror and wondering if our compound was going to “get it” next. Usually, we hear distant explosions scattered throughout Baghdad on a daily basis as another convoy is blasted by the insurgent bombs but this ongoing mess was louder, and longer, than anything I have ever encountered.

It was impossible to sleep what with all the explosions and in the morning, I shaved and went to my office. As a note here: I am lucky to have quarters with no windows facing outwards towards Baghdad. The insurgents have sniper rifles, usually U.S. .50 caliber, set up in buildings that have a distant overlook and more than once, personnel shaving in front of a bathroom window have had their brains splattered all over the tile walls as a sniper zeroes in on them. The sound of the shot follows and never, not once, have our security people ever found the sniper’s nest.

In the office I learned that ‘Forward Operating Base Falcon,’ one of our light-headed senior officer’s idea to set up fortified positions in various places, such as the capital of the Al Anbaar province as-Saqr was hit by enemy action, set on fire and suddenly exploded as tons of stored ammunition cooked off.

Camp Falcon at Sukkaniya is located in the southern Baghdad suburb of ad-Durah.. ‘Forward Operating Base Falcon’ was one of the newest and most heavily armed fortified positions.

There now exists a very high threat of suicide bombers in Ramadi who might attempt to ram Falcon with a vehicle packed with explosives, and so heavy concrete barriers were placed around the base designed to prevent such attacks. This did not deter the members of the Resistance movement who lobbed the same type of mortar shells into Falcon as they have been lobbing into the so-called “super secure” headquarters areas of the Green Zone. Falcon had also become the largest US weapons arsenal depot in the American General Headquarters in the south of Baghdad and a very tempting target. This time, we heard later, (and officially denied!) the Resistance used Grad and Katyusha rockets instead of mortars and the results were immediate, prolonged and completely devastating.

The installation itself is full of smoking rubble, and fires were still burning the following day. Although it is still very early to be accurate, reviews here of Falcon’s inventory indicates that losses will certainly exceed $1 billion.

That addresses the loss of property. The loss of life is even worse

Over 300 American troops, including U.S. Army and Marines, CIA agents, U.S. translators and contractors were killed or injured outright or died immediately afterwards en route to hospital or in hospital and over 125 seriously injured, requiring major medical attention and 39 suffering lesser injuries By accounts, charred and totally unrecognizable fragments of personnel were scattered over an eight block area.

122 members of the Iraqi armed forces were killed and 90 seriously injured members of same, were also evacuated to the U.S. military hospital at al-Habbaniyah located some 70km west of Baghdad. U.S. medical personnel at al-Habbaniyah initially stated that the US military hospital at the massive American-occupied air base there had begun to receive dead and wounded personnel. The military hospital in al-Habbaniyah, the largest in occupied Iraq, was opened on 12 May this year in response to sharply rising (and redacted) US casualties.

Initially three large military transport aircraft with the red cross displayed under the wings and on the fuselages, had flown into the base, and casualties were being unloaded and sent into the hospital at the al-Habbaniyah base, and officially, we predictably released a flood of ‘official statements’ that claimed there were “only a few personnel wounded and no fatalities whatsoever.” Also predictably, our people overreacted by launching a wild series of bomb and rocket attacks on random parts of Baghdad, killing an estimated 120 Iraqi civlinans and injuring an unknown number as well as setting fires that were still burning the next morning. There were strong ruimors that a container of artillery shells containing some kind of a nerve gas (for use against Iraqi militant strongholds…shades of Hussein!) turned out to be false. What was involved were a kind of tear gas, thank God, or we would all be dead now!

By now, it should be clearly obvious that the reporting of fatal casualties in both Iraq and Afghanistan are really under stated. For example, we had a young officer in here about three days ago who was talking with several of us. He is assigned to the air field from which the dead are shipped back to Dover, Md. According to him, last month, he supervised the loading of over one hundred and seventy military caskets but amazingly, the official DoD reportage had only a fraction of that. Of course he has no names, only numbers, and perhaps some high officer or Halliburton thief is shipping dope or underaged girls back to the states inside the boxes but this man had no reason to lie. It will be interesting to see if the DoD website shows the deaths over the Falcon incident. Time may tell but they won’t.”