The Military Tactics of U.S. Colonialism

November 11, 2003

As the resistance to U.S. occupation grows in Iraq, the U.S. government keeps escalating its counter-insurgency war.

Earlier this month, Bush again repeated that the war may continue for years. On November 4, the Pentagon alerted another 43,0000 Reserve and National Guard troops for a yearlong duty in Iraq or Kuwait. In the same week, Congress approved Bush's request for another $87 billion to continue the war while Tom Daschle and other Democratic Party leaders sent Bush a letter, insisting that the "U.S. stay the course" in Iraq. The attitude of the government is well expressed by Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, the current top U.S. commander in Iraq, who, in commenting on the growing U.S. casualties and the strength of the Iraqi resistance, called it "strategically and operationally insignificant."

The methods and tactics used by U.S. imperialism in this war reflect its aims. The U.S. has trampled the sovereignty of the Iraqi nation underfoot and everyday the U.S. army is determined to show the Iraqi people who is the master and who must become the servant. Therefore, the Pentagon not only wantonly violates the rights of the people and indiscriminately attacks them. The Pentagon, in fact, consciously targets the entire population, regularly employs the methods of collective reprisals and aims to terrorize the entire people.

The following incidents, only a few amongst many, give some idea of the methods employed by the U.S. occupying army.

- On November 8, the U.S. military launched "Operation Ivy Cyclone" in Tikrit, a city of 120,000 people about 120 miles north of Baghdad. In a pre-dawn barrage which included the dropping of 500-pound bombs on residential buildings, U.S. warplanes, helicopters, tanks and armored vehicles destroyed a section of the city in retaliation for the downing of a U.S. Black Hawk helicopter. "We want to remind this town that we have teeth and claws and we will use them," said Lt. Col. Steven Russell of the 4th Infantry Division which led the raid on Tikrit.

- Earlier in the week, U.S. soldiers backed by Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles repeatedly launched midnight raids on Tikrit residential neighborhoods, bursting into homes, battering down the doors and arresting many villagers. Hundreds of villagers, with hoods placed over their heads, have been seen in many other towns being led-away by U.S. soldiers.

- On the morning of November 2, in the Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib, U.S. troops destroyed an entire market area during a "search for suspected militants." Eyewitnesses reported that U.S. soldiers opened fire indiscriminately on the market place with high-caliber weapons, while destroying every single market stall.

- On October 31, U.S. troops sealed off the town of Uja, a village about 95 miles north of Baghdad. At midnight, soldiers erected razor wire around the entire perimeter of the village, set up checkpoints, and then ordered all adults to register for identity cards for movement in and out of the village.

Numerous other eyewitnesses have reported that it is common for U.S. troops to react with a hair-trigger response and lethal force at checkpoints or in civilian-populated areas.

In a 56-page report released in October, "Human Rights Watch" admitted that 100 civilian deaths occurred at the hands of U.S. forces from May 1 to October 1, all of which appeared to have taken place "in circumstances that warrant an official investigation." The human rights investigation found a "pattern by U.S. forces of over-aggressive tactics, indiscriminate shooting in residential areas and a quick reliance on lethal force." The report also found that Baghdad residents complained frequently of "reckless and disrespectful behavior, physical abuse, and theft by U.S. troops." In many cases, the report states, U.S. soldiers often "behave in an arrogant and abusive manner, often in ways that are considered highly insulting or even taboo to Iraqis....such as the touching or even searching by soldiers of women and girls and soldiers' putting their feet on the heads of detained Iraqis."

The U.S. military occupation authorities have established largescale " detention camps" holding thousands of prisoners across Iraq and the U.S. carries out daily mass sweeps and arrests. Ordinary court procedures have been nullified and calls for political reform have all been postponed.