The war on Iraq has taken a brutal turn over the past week on both sides of the shifting front line.
Some Iraqi soldiers have shifted to guerilla tactics utilized by Vietcong fighters during the Vietnam War: dressing as civilians as well as pretending to surrender and then opening fire on coalition troops.
There have also been several suicide bomb attacks, including one on March 29 that killed four U.S. soldiers.
In a war that is already needlessly endangering the Iraqi civilian population through massive air strikes, the Iraqi soldiers are only adding to the danger that civilians face.
U.S. troops are becoming jittery and distrustful of anyone who is not a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
This fear exploded on Monday, March 31, when U.S. soldiers opened fire on a truck that was speeding towards a checkpoint that they had set up on a major crossroads.
At least 10 women and children were killed, and several other occupants of the vehicle were severely injured.
According to an April 1 Washington Post report by William Branigan, the U.S. soldiers did not respond to an officer’s commands to first fire a warning shot and then opened fire on the vehicle as it drew closer.
“You just [expletive] killed a family because you didn’t fire a warning shot soon enough,” said Capt. Ronny Johnson, according to the article.
The Pentagon contradicted this statement and said that the vehicle was fired upon only after the driver ignored both verbal orders and warning shots.
In either event, the fact remains that the war has moved to a new level of danger for both American soldiers and Iraqi civilians.
Unsure of where an attack might come from, U.S. troops are now taking a more belligerent stance toward the general population.
During Vietnam, guerilla fighters swam like fish in an ocean of people, as the Chinese communist leader Mao Tse-tsung described them.
These tactics led to atrocities by U.S. grunts that had no way to distinguish between friend and foe.
Although war crimes like the My Lai massacre, in which U.S. soldiers slaughtered an entire Vietnamese village, cannot be blamed on the guerilla’s tactics, the psychological stress caused by these stealthy forms of combat contributed to the poor judgment of the American troops.
The U.S. military staged a war game last summer that closely resembled a war with Iraq in which the commander of the mock opposing force used guerilla-style tactics against the U.S. side, according to an April 1 Philadelphia Daily News article by William Bunch.
The opposing commander staged suicide attacks against U.S. ships and “destroyed” 17 warships.
The commander’s guerilla tactics also resulted in thousands of hypothetical U.S. troop deaths.
The organizers of the war game scrapped the results and ordered the game to be replayed-this time with a rule prohibiting guerilla tactics.
The war in Iraq is clearly not shaping up to be a quick mop-up of a few ragtag Republican Guard units.
The U.S. military and American citizens must guard against this war turning into another Vietnam, consuming millions of lives and billions of dollars until Iraq is nothing but a vast wasteland.
The Temple News editorial board members are:
* Mike Gainer, Editor in Chief
* Jeremy Smith, Managing Editor
* Brian White, News Editor
* Kia Gregory, Opinion Editor
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