Troops begin combat operations in New Orleans
By Joseph R. Chenelly
[Army] Times staff writer
NEW ORLEANS — Combat operations are underway on the streets “to take this city back” in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“This place is going to look like Little Somalia,” Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force told Army Times Friday as hundreds of armed troops under his charge prepared to launch a massive citywide security mission from a staging area outside the Louisiana Superdome. “We’re going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control.”
Jones said the military first needs to establish security throughout the city. Military and police officials have said there are several large areas of the city are in a full state of anarchy.
Dozens of military trucks and up-armored Humvees left the staging area just after 11 a.m. Friday, while hundreds more troops arrived at the same staging area in the city via Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters.
“We’re here to do whatever they need us to do,” Sgt. 1st Class Ron Dixon, of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 1345th Transportation Company. “We packed to stay as long as it takes.”
While some fight the insurgency in the city, other carry on with rescue and evacuation operations. Helicopters are still pulling hundreds of stranded people from rooftops of flooded homes.
To be generous here, one could note that (a) this was written by a professional newspaper reporter, so the writer probably didn't know the meaning of the word 'insurgency' and simply has fallen into a type of lingo, and (b) if soldiers are being shot at (see the following) then maybe you could stretch the term to cover that, if you are ambitious, although I'm not that ambitious. Gangs shooting it out with 'cops' is not an insurgency.
Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and police helicopters filled the city sky Friday morning. Most had armed soldiers manning the doors. According to Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeremy Grishamn, a spokesman for the amphibious assault ship Bataan, the vessel kept its helicopters at sea Thursday night after several military helicopters reported being shot at from the ground.
Numerous soldiers also told Army Times that they have been shot at by armed civilians in New Orleans. Spokesmen for the Joint Task Force Headquarters at the Superdome were unaware of any servicemen being wounded in the streets, although one soldier is recovering from a gunshot wound sustained during a struggle with a civilian in the dome Wednesday night.
“I never thought that at a National Guardsman I would be shot at by other Americans,” said Spc. Philip Baccus of the 527th Engineer Battalion. “And I never thought I’d have to carry a rifle when on a hurricane relief mission. This is a disgrace.”
Spc. Cliff Ferguson of the 527th Engineer Battalion pointed out that he knows there are plenty of decent people in New Orleans, but he said it is hard to stay motivated considering the circumstances.
“This is making a lot of us think about not reenlisting.” Ferguson said. “You have to think about whether it is worth risking your neck for someone who will turn around and shoot at you. We didn’t come here to fight a war. We came here to help.”
I'm not ready to believe the reports above. The Army is very good at bullshitting. The quoted soldiers might all be covert propaganda operatives, for all I know. On the other hand, maybe these soldiers are experiencing something like what New Orleans police would have expected, which is consistent with reports that many New Orleans police have said the hell with it.
If Mike Malloy already knows about the stuff in this article, he's probably climbing the walls. If you are shocked each time the Bushists reach a new low, you will be shocked again and again; so don't be shocked by any new lows, believe in them ahead of time. Furthermore it is a good time to keep your eyes open; after all, combat troops going in, where martial law is in force by request of the city's Democratic mayor, isn't too surprising, and for combat people to talk like combat people also isn't surprising. They are doing their jobs, and few of them are as articulate as Wesley Clark. It could have happened with Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter as president. What makes it very anxiety-worthy in this case, though, is that the Bushists must view this disaster as an opportunity. They certainly are not treating it like a first class disaster.
Our only real hopes that I know of are a re-awakened media (we'll see) and Patrick Fitzgerald.