First US Soldiers in Iraq ‘Non-War’ Killed

The first two US soldiers to die in Iraq since Barack Hussein Obama told the country (and the world) that we were no longer at war there were killed on Tuesday, September 7, 2010. To those with a shred of logic and common sense, this poses a problem: if we’re not at war, how do we classify their deaths? If we’re not at war, as Obama and Biden tell us, I guess that makes the deaths of these two soldiers the equivalent of a training accident, or maybe the equivalent of a bar fight gone wrong. If we’re not at war they aren’t combat casualties. Obama and Biden have made it so. The insurgent who killed these soldiers must not have gotten the word when Joe Biden was over there a week ago. Someone needs to tell him the war is over and to go home. Maybe Joe will go back and do that.

In a Wall Street Journal article by Sam Dagher posted yesterday, September 8, 2010, the story behind the deaths of these two soldiers and the injury to nine more is described:

"The deaths were the first U.S. casualties in Iraq since President Barack Obama announced the start of Operation New Dawn on Aug. 31, marking the end of conventional combat activities in the country for American troops. Commanders here have said the new U.S. focus is on advising and assisting Iraqi forces and backing them in areas where they lag in terms of technology and equipment.

"But Tuesday’s attack — like a sophisticated assault on Iraqi facilities in central Baghdad on Sunday that American soldiers helped to repel — underscored what U.S. military commanders on the ground in Iraq have been saying for weeks: A change of mission doesn’t mean the threats are over for the estimated 50,000 U.S. soldiers that remain in the country."

In recent posts I have discussed the precarious dilemma the Obama administration has placed itself in by setting a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq. I have stated that wars do not operate on a timeline like a football game, whereby it’s over in 60 minutes. Not having a clue about any of this, and being advised by 4-star officers who would never open their mouths and say this to him, Obama is telling the people of Iraq, and also the insurgents, that we’re going home in little more than a year.  All they have to do is wait.  Maybe the guy who killed the two soldiers on Tuesday couldn’t, so he decided to pull off his own little jihad.  The simple reality of Iraq is that the fighting is nowhere close to being over, and I doubt it will be as long as we are in the process of leaving the people of Iraq behind before the insurgency is definitely finished. To Obama, political promises are far more important that the realities of the situation on the ground in Iraq.

"’This is a tragic and cowardly act, which I firmly believe was an isolated incident and is certainly not reflective of the Iraqi Security Forces in Salahaddin,’ said Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq.

"Tuz Khurmato is located in the northern tip of Salahaddin province and adjacent to oil-rich Kirkuk province."

Major General Cucolo is spinning the story for the Obama administration.  This is the same line we would expect from any senior US officer who is more concerned with keeping his rank and retiring as high as possible.  Now that he’s got two stars, he needs to hold onto them for two or three years to retire at that grade. So, he’s going to be the good soldier and tell the world the death of two of his men was an "isolated incident." Sure it’s an isolated incident. Was there any other incident at the same time and place as this one?  Of course there wasn’t, so the term "isolated incident" is thrown out there to make it look just like the "isolated incident" at Fort Hood, Texas last year. All terrorists and insurgents commit "isolated incidents" when they murder someone.  Maybe an exception would be if one insurgent murdered a person within ten feet of another insurgent who is also murdering someone, and within five minutes of each other. Then they wouldn’t be "isolated incidents." I wonder what the spin would be for that?

Who’s going to tell the families of the two dead soldiers their sons didn’t die in combat? Joe Biden? Obama should send Joe to tell the families of these two young men that their sons were killed by some guy while they were conducting an "advise and assist" mission in Iraq. Of course, he’ll also have to tell them their sons aren’t getting the Purple Heart, because they didn’t die in combat. He’ll also have to tell them they won’t be receiving any combat-related compensation for their sons’ death because, you see, they didn’t die in combat.  They just died in a place called Iraq.

Maybe Joe will give the families of these soldiers a new "Advise and Assist" medal, posthumously, of course.  I wonder what it will look like. Maybe a ribbon twisted like all the other ribbons we see on the back of cars these days? What color would it be? Purple, as in Purple Heart? Or maybe yellow, as in running away.   

I have absolutely no doubt these brave young men will be awarded the Purple Heart. This goes for the nine injured soldiers too.  They’re in combat. But the box Obama and Biden have put themselves in means saying one thing to the American people, and doing another. I have little doubt these awards will be given, but you probably won’t read about it in the paper. Obama will instruct the Department of Defense to issue these awards, but not in public, because it’s in direct conflict with Obama’s statement that the war is over. It’s not over, regardless of what Obama and Biden say.

Author: Michael O'Brien

Michael O'Brien is the author of America's Failure in Iraq. He was a Department of Defense contractor in Iraq from 2006-2007. He was on the national headquarters staff of the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign in Austin, Texas, and served in the administration of George W. Bush at the State Department and the Office of Homeland Security. Michael O'Brien is a graduate of West Point and was an infantry officer, an Army Ranger, and a paratrooper. He lives in Arlington, Va.