Monday, March 10, 2008

Another Michael In Iraq (Yon this time) who Deserves a Pulitzer

Guitar Heros in Mosul.
Men crept in darkness to plant a bomb. They moved in an area where last year I was helping to collect fallen American soldiers from the battlefield.

Terrorists. The ones who murder children in front of their parents. The ones who take drugs and rape women and boys. The ones who blow up schools. The ones who have been forcibly evicted from places like Anbar Province, Baghdad and Baqubah by American and Iraqi forces. Terrorists are here now in Mosul. They call themselves al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). AQI cannot win without Baghdad, and cannot survive without Mosul. The Battle for Mosul is evolving into AQI’s last great stand.

And there were the men planting the bomb. It is unknown if the men with the explosives were al Qaeda, but they were planting a bomb and that was enough. Many terrorists murder only for money. Like hit men. They might have nothing against the victim. It’s just business. Although understanding enemy motivations is key to winning a war, out on the battlefield, such considerations can become secondary, as divining the motives of a would-be killer is less important than stopping him.

The bombers were being watched. Invisible to them, prowling far overhead, was a Predator.
Next, Kiowa helicopter pilots who were playing Guitar Hero while on standby, flew into action to take the terrorists out.
Sometimes I sit up on a hill and watch them in the air. The other day two Kiowas were screaming low right over the rooftops and doing hard turns. I couldn’t see the combat because they were too far away, but I knew they were toe to toe and there was plenty of shooting going on or they wouldn’t have been flying so violently. It’s scary watching them because I’ve met them and know they are mortals doing the work of immortals. At any second there could be a fireball. A “fallen angel.” I remember the call over the radio last year of a “fallen angel” down by Baghdad. All aboard had been lost.

If I am down on the street and they pass overhead, I wave. In the dining facility, I step respectfully out of their way. All the time thinking, these folks are more than Guitar Heroes.
The dichotomy is strange.

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