Tuesday June 18, 2013
Dangerous Times in Iraq War ZoneTim King Salem-News.com
Victims from a car bomb attack fill the hospital at the Balad Joint Air Base
(BALAD, Iraq) - A sandstorm reminiscent of a Hollywood movie is descending over the base in Iraq where I have been for the last few weeks, yet it seems like small change next to other events here in the last two days.
Medical personnel from all over Balad were called out last night as victims from a car bomb that exploded in an undisclosed location launched medical crews and helicopter rescue teams into action. The victims from what I understand were soldiers from the Iraqi Army and small children who reportedly received serious burns.
Medical technicians told me that it was as busy of a night as any they have seen in the past three to four months. The sandstorm accompanied by wild lightning strikes only seemed to raise the tension. At first a report of 32 injured people was received; prompting the mass call out that reminded me of an episode of the TV show MASH only with a Mideast twist.
More wounded were brought in today and again the sirens wailed. It was not clear if these victims were from another incident. At least one Iraqi soldier died before being delivered from the medivac helicopter to the Balad Hospital. It is a medical facility with an amazing history of saving lives and performing reconstructive surgery on local nationals who fall victim to the car bombs, suicide bombers and IED's which seem to be on the increase here.
They also have an awesome record of saving the lives of American combat soldiers who are injured during firefights and explosions.
The story in Iraq is one of much personal success, but it seems apparent that paying your former enemies to do the right thing is an effort with a self-imposed time limit. This has been the strategy that accompanied the often discussed "surge" whicht has brought about a more peaceful atmosphere, but one that may be reaching the end of its relatively short life.
In an upcoming video report I will explain how local sheiks and even members of the Iraqi Army are perfectly honest about how important the continued U.S. funding is to the cause of peace. It is a simple case of "pay up or else" when you really boil it down.
Even though Iraq's economy has billions of dollars to work with, and the U.S. economy is farther in debt that at any other time in recent history, or possibly ever for that matter, it is still up to the American taxpayer to ensure that the peace continues. It is not going to happen, and many of us here fear that many more will die as a result.
Earlier today when I was writing to the staff at Salem-News.com, the loudspeaker here at Balad sounded the news that we had just been the scene of an indirect attack, either mortars or rockets.
Attacks are not uncommon at this base with the nickname "Mortaritaville" and while almost none actually hurt or kill anyone, it is the notion that they could that keeps the thoughts of many people here occupied.
I fear that the much touted peace in Iraq is a fragile and temporary thing that possibly makes the Presidential Administration look a little more competent, a little less flagrant.
But in a land that will perhaps never be at peace, it seems highly questionable whether or not several thousand American lives were worth it.
The term "outside the wire" here at Balad is that insurgents are actually less worried about attacking American combat patrols at this time, and instead are concentrating their resources on attacking the Iraqi Army and U.S. and British contractors or "mercenaries" as they should properly be known.
Those are the deaths that are not necessarily ever reported in the states and the people usually die in total obscurity to all but those who knew them.
The attack that sent at least seven victims into the hospital here last night and six more today, seems like plenty of evidence that the problems here are far from over, and more likely just at a temporary stall.
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