US troops, which officials are forever reminding us are in Iraq purely in a non-combat role, engaged in heavy combat again yesterday, underscoring the realities of a war that is still going on in everything but name.
The exact details of the fighting were kept somewhat quiet yesterday, but today reports came out of heavily armed US troops, wielding machine guns and firing mortars, attacking insurgents who responded by throwing hand grenades. One US soldier was wounded.
Spokesmen referred to this as “assisting and advising” but in any sane world it would have another name: combat. The details of the official explanation, peppered with the words “advise” and “assist” to the point of almost absurdity, suggest another thing — that the US is still very much taking the lead here.
US forces “advised” the leaders on strategy, US soldiers fired the mortars, US warplanes bombed the entrenched insurgents. Seemingly the only reason the Iraqi troops were on hand at all was so they could claim the whole thing was something other than the continuation, as always, of the US war in Iraq.