Saturday, October 27, 2007
Sadiyah, Iraq, and 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment
Soldiers talk about the other side of Iraq -- one that the Bush Administration stays away from.
Joshua Partlow reported from Sadiyah, Iraq, about soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division:
- Asked if the American endeavor here was worth their sacrifice -- 20 soldiers from the battalion have been killed in Baghdad -- Alarcon said no: "I don't think this place is worth another soldier's life."
They stop, look around. The streets of Sadiyah are deserted again. To the right, power lines slump down into the dirt. To the left, what was a soccer field is now a pasture of trash, combusting and smoking in the sun. Packs of skinny wild dogs trot past walls painted with slogans of sectarian hate.
A bomb crater blocks one lane, so they cross to the other side, where houses are blackened by fire, shops crumbled into bricks. The remains of a car bomb serve as hideous public art. Sgt. Victor Alarcon's Humvee rolls into a vast pool of knee-high brown sewage water -- the soldiers call it Lake Havasu, after the Arizona spring-break party spot -- that seeps in the doors of the vehicle and wets his boots.
"When we first got here, all the shops were open. There were women and children walking out on the street," Alarcon said this week. "The women were in Western clothing. It was our favorite street to go down because of all the hot chicks."
That was 14 long months ago, when the soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, arrived in southwestern Baghdad. It was before their partners in the Iraqi National Police became their enemies and before Shiite militiamen, aligned with the police, attempted to exterminate a neighborhood of middle-class Sunni families.
Next month, the U.S. soldiers will complete their tour in Iraq. Their experience in Sadiyah has left many of them deeply discouraged, by both the unabated hatred between rival sectarian fighters and the questionable will of the Iraqi government to work toward peaceful solutions.
California Wildfires - FEMA Staged a Press Conference
- "The Federal Emergency Management Agency's No. 2 official apologized yesterday for leading a staged news conference Tuesday in which FEMA employees posed as reporters while real reporters listened on a telephone conference line and were barred from asking questions.
- "We are reviewing our press procedures and will make the changes necessary to ensure that all of our communications are straight forward and transparent," Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson Jr., FEMA's deputy administrator, said in a four-paragraph statement.