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Good News From the Front

MEDIA

May 11, 2003|William M. Arkin | William M. Arkin is a military affairs analyst who writes regularly for Opinion. E-mail: warkin@igc.org.

"I have seen scores of dead Iraqi soldiers lying on the roadside, more dead bodies than I have seen in my entire 20 years of work as a journalist, both in battlefields and as a police reporter in the inner cities of the United States," Synovitz reported.

The battlefield is a chaotic place, and reporting from the 3rd reflects that chaos. It is also, by its nature, a view of the trees, not the forest. On April 3, hardly anyone could digest such rapid movement on so many fronts. At the airport and on the southern doorstep of the city, no one quite knew what lay ahead.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday June 01, 2003 Home Edition Opinion Part M Page 3 Editorial Pages Desk 1 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Heinz Guderian -- In an article analyzing tactics in the recent Iraq war ("Good News From the Front," May 11), a World War II German tank commander was referred to as Hans Guderian. The first name should have been Heinz.

"The seizure of the airport raised one pressing question that even commanders here said they could not answer: What comes next?" wrote Steven Lee Myers of the New York Times.

"Hopefully this is a sign that we're able to send to the residents of Baghdad that we're here and they can rise up and deal with the regime appropriately and save some future battle inside the city," Lt. Col. Scott Rutter, commander of the 2nd Battalion 7th Regiment of the 3rd Infantry, told AP.

The Los Angeles Times, in a story by Geoffrey Mohan and Tony Perry, speculated that "control of the airport should give the Pentagon the ability to fly in a brigade-sized force of the Army's 4th Infantry Division.... There now are about 40,000 U.S. Army and Marine troops on the outskirts of Baghdad -- not enough, in the estimation of many military officials, to mount a well-thought-out and cautious attack on a city of more than 5 million people."

Embedded reporters were describing an Iraqi opponent that was, although they couldn't know it, already defeated.

Two days after the 3rd Division's drive north through the Karbala Gap, it undertook the most audacious move of the war. "Desert Rogue," the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor, left the crossroads of Highways 8 and 1 at dawn to drive through downtown Baghdad on a mad dash for the airport. "It was three hours of organized chaos," the battalion commander told the New York Times' Myers.

All along the 15-mile route, Iraqis fired from rooftops and storefronts, bridges and underpasses. When it was over, U.S. commanders estimated that 1,000 Iraqi fighters had been killed. One U.S. soldier died.

"It's called 'Let me poke you in the eye because we can and you can't do anything about it,' " Col. William Grimsley told Agence France-Presse.

Can anyone who reads this record really contend that it is the product of a controlled and manipulated news media?

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