Jewish World Review May 23, 2003 / 21 Iyar, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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DISPATCHES FROM THE DESERT: Hard-won capture lost in a mix-up over papers


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | NEAR THE SYRIAN BORDER, Iraq Some of the bitterly frustrated soldiers of Apache Troop are referring to it as the "V Corps 'Catch and Release' policy."Three carefully planned, meticulously rehearsed, flawlessly executed "snatch and grab" missions have produced a net result of zero.

Soldiers from Apache troop and the 94th Military Police Company arrested the police chief of Husabayah, Abdul Karim Manthour, and six of his lieutenants. Capt. Justin Brown, the Apache troop commander, entered the police station with the same number of troops who usually accompanied him to meetings with the police chief. But this time they were the biggest soldiers in Apache troop. They quietly took up positions along the walls and in front of the windows, so the Iraqi cops could not see there were many more soldiers than usual outside.

Then the squadron commander, Lt. Col. Bill Dolan, walked in. "I'm detaining you and your officers," Dolan told Manthour. The words were barely out of his mouth before a burly sergeant had pulled Manthour to the floor, and the other Americans in the room had trained their guns on the Iraqis. They had three pistols and an AK-47 assault rifle among them, but no Iraqi reached for his weapon. The Americans had the drop on them.

Each of the officers to be detained had his hands zip-tied behind him, and was blindfolded. They were led out one by one and put into a truck, which sped away to Tiger squadron's headquarters at a railroad station about 30 kilometers east of Husabayah.

Dolan has suspected right away that Manthour was an important Baath party figure, but waited to act until conclusive evidence had been assembled. Manthour was one of Saddam's executioners. He would hunt down and murder deserters from the Iraqi armed forces.

A number of Iraqis who had provided information to Tiger Squadron soldiers had said Manthour was "a bad man." Among them were most of the police patrolmen, who told interpreters they didn't want to be policemen if Manthour remained as chief.

But joy in Apache troop was short-lived, thanks to a snafu at what Lt. Col. Dolan has described as "echelons above reality."

Manthour was put on a helicopter to be flown back to the headquarters of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at the al Asad air base. Maj. Jessica Voss, who had the file on Manthour, was to fly back with him. Normally the detainee and his file stay on the same chopper, but this time there wasn't room. Maj. Voss got on a second helicopter. But when she arrived at al Asad, she learned that Manthour had been flown on to V Corps headquarters at Baghdad International Airport.

"But I have his file," she said.

At V Corps headquarters, some officer ordered Manthour released, because he was "just a police officer," and V Corps had no paperwork on him. The order to release Manthour was given without checking with Tiger Squadron to see why he had been arrested in the first place.

An order has been issued to re-arrest Manthour, but he and his crony have high-tailed it for parts unknown.

"Due to a f*** up beyond our control, the chief of police has been released," Dolan told his staff and subordinate commanders this morning. "Tell your contacts we need to know where we can find him so we can re-arrest him."

Dolan was unwilling to criticize publicly higher headquarters for the snafu - and remember the military origins of that word - that resulted in the release of the police chief. "We haven't got the Paul Harvey version of the story yet," he said. "There may be more to this than we know."

But off the record, subordinate commanders and staff officers said higher headquarters needed to interfere less in command decisions and to provide more material support for peacekeeping operations.

"We need to deliver on promises of aid," said one. "We can't do this until the REMFS [rear echelon m***** f******] kibbitz less and provide more help." The nature of the problem facing Tiger Squadron was crystallized by a conversation Staff Sgt. John Gary Pullen, a linguist with the 66th Military Intelligence Company, had with an Iraqi at a checkpoint.

After checking first to make certain he wouldn't get arrested for saying so, the Iraqi told Pullen he preferred it when Saddam Hussein was still in charge.

"When Saddam was in power, we had jobs, we could buy gasoline and propane [for cooking], and the border was under control," the Iraqi said. "Now the Americans are here. There are no jobs. There is no gas. There is no propane. Smuggling is out of control."

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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

05/21/03: In danger of losing the peace?
05/19/03: Dispatches from the Desert: The truth tellers
05/14/03: They won the battle, but lost the morale
05/12/03: Dispatches from the Desert: Cavalry scout's skills include coffee-making
05/08/03: Dispatches from the Desert: Ammo boxes in trucks get attention of soldiers
05/06/03: Syrian border diarist: Only trouble in Iraq seems to be news
04/28/03: Loser generals : They shot (off their mouths) and missed
04/25/03: A war we could lose
04/21/03: The "Collaborators' News Network"
04/14/03: Axis of Weasels is coming to its senses?
04/11/03: Peace will be a mess
04/08/03: It's a mad, mad (Arab) world
04/03/03: Ah, the life of a war correspondent this time around
04/02/03: The difference between hopes and expectations
03/31/03: Iraq is a steppingstone, not a final stop
03/24/03: European media and former 'human shields' are beginning to get it
03/20/03: Was getting the UN involved worth it?
03/18/03: South Koreans no longer behaving as if they were the French of Northeast Asia --- why?
03/11/03: Ultimatum's moment of truth
03/11/03: Thank you, Turkey, we needed that
03/07/03: The fight against Saddam isn't a distraction from the war on terror --- it's is the main event
03/04/03: Bioterror nightmare approaching --- how it could likely happen
02/27/03: Iranian student: Can America hurry up with Iraq already, so they can get on with attacking us?
02/25/03: Yahoos on both the Left and the Right are trying to prevent government from maximizing technology in protecting us
02/20/03: Anti-war group gets it right about great humanitarian tragedy in last Gulf War
02/18/03: Iraqis: Why are these people marching for tyranny?
02/07/03: French kiss(ed)-off
02/05/03: Does the FBI have the ability to protect us from terrorists already here?
02/03/03: The "Axis of Weasels"
01/29/03: A bit of the jitters
01/27/03: The world's mediocre intelligence agency
01/21/03: By reaffirming GOP opposition to racism, president demonstrates willingness to confront liars
01/16/03: Why the United States should withdraw all of its military forces from South Korea as rapidly as we reasonably can
01/14/03: Federal incompetence driven by political correctness, not trampling of civil liberties, is what we should fear
01/09/03: Bag this boondoggle: The V-22 Osprey would hurt our national defense
01/07/03: Another Korean war?
01/02/03: Ostriches
12/26/02: Learning from Canada's economic suicide
12/24/02: A moral dilemma: Support a vicious fascist dictator or the poor and downtrodden?
12/20/02: Time to tell the truth: The great movement of blacks to the Democratic Party took place for economic reasons, not because of civil rights
12/18/02: Nothing better illustrates Trent Lott's unfitness for the post of Senate Majority Leader than his desperate efforts to cling to it
12/16/02: Debunker mentality: It's hard work not seeing ties between Iraq and al-Qaida
12/12/02: GOP ideologues turning on Lott --- better sacrifice the leader than the party
12/06/02: Curing our democracy of afflictions
12/02/02: Conscription, like the horse cavalry, is an artifact of a bygone time
11/27/02: What Saddam faces
11/25/02: Why war with Iraq can be averted
11/19/02: A draft would harm the military
11/12/02: The 2002 elections and Nixon
11/07/02: Democratic overreaction to our recent "cosmically important" election
10/30/02: Show North Korea we're serious: Polish off Saddam
10/22/02: The squealing in the Pentagon is a proof of Rummy's effectiveness
10/16/02: The tactical challenge we face
10/10/02: Silence more despicable than seditious noise
10/08/02: Bu$h and the bu$ine$$ of war
10/01/02: Gore's calculated risk may well get him the Dems' nomination
09/25/02: Schroeder may find the fruits of victory sour
09/25/02: Making Saddam change his spots
09/19/02: Bush's resolve already has paid dividends
09/17/02: Courageous Iranians
09/13/02: If you never served in the military, you have no right to an opinion
09/10/02: Why the 'air marshals' will fail
09/05/02: Resurrecting the "Happy Darky"
08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
08/23/02: Dems can't take the minority vote for granted any longer
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
08/15/02: Mineta's war on what?
08/13/02: When Gore said he wanted to be his 'own man,' what was he thinking!?
08/08/02: Picking a tree for Cheney's hanging
08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
07/26/02: Journalists are making sure Americans can't differentiate between the stock market and the economy
07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
07/12/02: The ICC tramples on rights Americans take for granted
07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
07/02/02: What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great
06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
06/21/02: Stirring the security pot
06/18/02: Why the military is so messed up
06/14/02: Vast majority $68.7 billion proposed for weapons will be spent on systems of little use in the war on terror
06/12/02: Bush saw them and raised them, and he's holding the aces
06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
04/29/02: Islamic 'smarts'
04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly