(HOST) The Bush administration is taking stock of the situation in Iraq. Commentator Bill Seamans will be interested to see what conclusions they reach.
(SEAMANS) President Bush tells us in his latest public statements that, despite what the news media are reporting, there is, indeed, “progress” in Iraq. At the same time Bush has sent a highly regarded retired four-star General named Gary Luck to review our military operations in Iraq.
This follows estimates by our Generals on the ground there that the “progress” they see is an insurgent enemy who has improved his tactical ability and effectiveness. Also, the recent deadly attack on the mess tent in Mosul, which killed 15 GI’s, indicates that the natives hired by American contractors to run our bases are, in fact, infiltrated by informants feeding information about our operations to the insurgents.
Among the major problems facing Gen. Luck are the two most effective enemy weapons that are taking a grievous toll of American dead and wounded: the roadside bomb and the suicide bomber. The suicide bomber has, in fact, created a new kind of battlefield that has stymied the most powerful army in modern history. The suicide bomber is not only causing many casualties, he is also hurting morale because he is almost impossible to detect – either carrying a bomb on his person or driving a load of explosives in an innocent looking civilian vehicle.
Also I expect that Gen. Luck will be deeply concerned by the seemingly endless line of volunteers willing to die to kill American troops. Lately, we hear about at least one suicide bombing every day. Gen. Luck will probably report back to President Bush that the suicide bomber has tended to level the battlefield in Iraq – this, despite the overwhelming power of our Army and Marine forces, because we have not yet found a way to counteract an invisible enemy who hides out in the open among the people.
The sacrifice of a suicide bomber is glorified as the heroic act of a martyr, and he becomes the pride of his family, clan and village. But our military forces regard him as a deadly guided missile. They see a human smart bomb loaded with explosives, aimed by a highly motivated brain – which is the ultimate guidance system. Once this enemy smart bomb is launched it is virtually undetectable and impossible to stop.
Thus, no matter how many millions we spend on defensive weaponry, the insurgents in Iraq have added a military dimension for which we have not yet found an answer; the suicide bomber who is fighting to die, while our troops are fighting to live. Gen. Luck has been given a tough mission by President Bush because he will be looking for answers to what seems, up to now, like the unanswerable.
This is Bill Seamans.
Award-winning journalist Bill Seamans is a former correspondent and bureau chief for ABC News in the Middle East. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.