AL-KUT, IRAQ -- AN AFTER-BATTLE REPORT:
THE FULL STORY
By David Stokes
The unclassified report, written by a Coalition security contractor, highlights dysfunction between regional Coalition offices and the Coalition Provisional Authority headquarters in Baghdad, as well as tension between diplomats and security officers. The summary faulted a British diplomat who had "toned down" reports of Islamist activity so as not to alarm superiors in Baghdad. From my own personal observations while stationed in Baghdad, many U.S. diplomats committed the same offence out of either naiveté or a desire to be politically correct with regard to militant Islam. The report gave a minute-by-minute update of the battle.
The summary is provided here. The editors obtained the document through officials not in the U.S. government. — Michael Rubin
Sandbags: On December 9, 2003, I requisitioned 3000 sandbags for use in hardening sites within the compound and installing fighting/defensive positions around the perimeter. The sandbags were not delivered until March 7, 2004.
Scud-bunkers: On December 9, 2003, I ordered 8 scud-bunkers... I received three (3) of the 8 on March 10, 2004. As a result of this incomplete order, several locations had no cover, and that was crucial when mortar rounds began falling into our compound during the assault.
One problem, however, was that they were never prepared to fight a ground offensive. Towards the end of the night on April 6, the Ukrainians began to run low on ammunition. Additionally, they had no Night Vision equipment nor did they have any heavy weapons which could be set up in defensive positions.
The Ukrainian command structure also caused some problems and nearly cost us our lives. The Ukrainian command would not authorize the deployment of ordinance from fast movers, even as a show of force, due to the possibility of collateral damage.
During the assault, we took numerous RPG rounds from across the river. Additionally, we took heavy machine gun fire from that direction as well.
The GC intentionally "toned down" reports of insurgent activity to his superiors in Baghdad. While every entity on post was reporting numbers in the hundreds of insurgents, the GC was typically calling this a small clash with 50 or less angry teenagers, to borrow his words. The enemy that we faced numbered between 250 and 300 and was a determined fighting force. At one point, the GC specifically asked me to "tone down" my reports as well, as it was causing him to answer inquiries from Baghdad.
The GC attempted to control and to manipulate the flow of information ... At one point, he advised that he wanted all reports going out to be cleared through another member of the CPA staff ... I am confident that he also had knowledge or forewarning of these events through his contacts with local leaders. If so, then he failed to disseminate that information and thereby allowed the enemy to maintain the element of surprise.
During the firefight, a request was made for fire to be drawn from the enemy so that the gunship could pinpoint the enemy locations and take them out. As everyone prepared to fire, the GC told everyone not to do so, as it would break the terms of the "cease-fire" that had been arranged. There was no cease-fire in place, as we had already taken rounds and continued to do so. As a result of his decision, personnel were subjected to additional fire that could have possibly been eliminated …
The final straw in this saga was his insistence that we not abandon the compound. He attempted to order the convoy halted while he pleaded with the General to reverse his decision. I am sure that he was under orders to hold as long as possible, but I feel those orders would have not been given had the facts about the situation been truthfully told. He then attempted to have one of his PSD [Personal Security Detail] block the convoy with their vehicle. The PSD disregarded that order and eventually told the GC to get in the vehicle or he would be left behind. His delay jeopardized our security. We were already aware of enemy mortar positions being erected on rooftops near our perimeter, and we were expecting incoming fire at any moment.
The Problem of Rogue States:
Iraq as a Case History
The foregoing after-action report by David Stokes, a Coalition Provisional Authority security contracor, was originally published in the Middle East Quarterly, Fall, 2004, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum.
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