Wednesday, December 17, 2003

The Rhetoric of Body Counts II 
Here’s another reason I don’t trust body counts:

Every day, the brigade staff sends us what amounts to a “police blotter,” -- a daily list of all the contacts, ambushes, the daily horoscope, IED sites, intel reports, assessements, and other conspiracy theories, along with the stock tip of the day. Ok, well, they edit out some of the more useful stuff for the sake of brevity.

Yesterday we received a report that a civil affairs unit ran into an ambush on the freeway just north of town. They were engaged at a range of 150 meters with a volley of several rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire from an unknown number of assailants, who were firing from behind a berm on the side of the highway.

The convoy commander, quite reasonably, just stepped on the gas and booked on down the highway and out of the kill zone. No U.S. personnel were injured.

Despite not holding the battlefield after the engagement, and despite having engaged the enemy while down the highway at between 45 and 60 mph, and despite the fact that the insurgents were firing from behind a berm, the brigade claimed 3 insurgents killed, and an unknown number of wounded.

Now, it may come to pass that the brigade had sent another element to clear the ambush site and found the bodies of three insurgents, but no mention was made of that in the report. As far as I can tell, the convoy commander must have had the luckiest bunch of wild-eyed shooters in the history of warfare, and some kind of psychic connection with the souls of the dead.

I dunno...Maybe he’s the guy who writes the horoscope?

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