Article Overview: Nearly a dozen  Iraqi police were killed by American troops by mistake the other day, and the world roared in disgust.  But are casualties of the War of Terror victims or Martyrs of Vigilance?   Find out in this compelling dissection of the Price Of Vigilance.


Sunday--September 14, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 732
Martyrs of Vigilance:  Or, Why We Shouldn't Eat Our Children Of Vigilance!
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Sep 14, 2003-- Ten Iraqi police were buried yesterday after being shot to death by American troops who mistook them as Terrorists.    Many wailed and mourned that America is the Beast of Terror in Iraq, the true tyranny that should leave the country.  But were the police victims or Martyrs of Vigilance?

..... of the ten Iraqi police mistakenly slain by American troops

Iraqis chanting anti-American slogans at the funeral.......

       If we accuse America of being the "bad guy" in this tragedy, are we eating the Children of Vigilance?   Are we feeding the Beast of Terror's thirst to chew and spew out America's role in helping liberate Iraq?
        I am forced always to buttress my opinions about war and Terrorism to my own experiences in battle.   It is easy for those who have never been at war to cast their moral opinions from the safety and security of lofty philosophical bunkers, without danger facing them or the threat of their own lives compelling them to react.
       Thirty-five years ago when I was one of the first Marine Corps Combat Correspondents to land in Vietnam, I hooked up with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, commanded by Lt. Col. Leon Utter.    His unit had been the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, the first official American Marine unit to set foot in Vietnam.
       It was chaos.
       In the early phases of the war everyone was trigger happy.
       The biggest problem wasn't casualties from the enemy, but from friendly fire.
       Green, inexperienced troops were at the low end of the Survival Learning Curve.   If a leaf rustled, it was blown to pieces.    Shadows in the night became columns of V.C. marching toward our lines.
       In the dark of night, a troop of monkeys walking down a trail were obliterated with machine gun fire, mistaken for V.C. sneaking up on our lines.

One of the saddest of experiences in Vietnam was the ambush when Americans mistakenly killed Americans

      One of the saddest of all experiences was the ambush.    In the first phase of the war, edgy patrols would set up their cross fire hurriedly.  When firing began, Americans killed Americans because they faced one another on either side of the trail, mistakes that were deadly to our own people.
       I remember when I met up with my Drill Instructor from boot camp, Sgt. Earl Ponder.  He was fresh to Vietnam and had no combat experience.  I'd been there a few months and had countless patrols, ambushes and battles under my belt because whenever and where ever there was action, I found a way to be at the forefront.  I was, after all, there to report the war, to extol the virtues of heroes and to polish the legend of Marine Corps bravery in battle.
        I offered to go out with Ponder on his first ambush.   He was scared.  His eyes flicked about and as he led us into the jungle he kept asking me questions.    Back in boot camp he had been powerful, assured, the man in charge.  But out in the jungle with its shadows and creepy crawly creatures, including humans who hunted the hunters, he was turning to Jell-O.
        He was trying to not look nervous, frightened.    He ordered us to set up the ambush around a 500-pound bomb crater that punched a big hole in the womb of the earth, offering what is known as a clear "killing zone."
        But, he screwed it up.
        He had us in a "V" so that if the enemy were to pass through our kill zone and we opened up, we would end up shooting one another.  He carried an M-79 rocket launcher, and in front of him were trees that would explode the shell prematurely should he fire it.
        I called him to the side and asked his permission to suggest we set up the ambush slightly differently.  I didn't tell him he had it set so we would all have a great chance of being killed or wounded.
        He didn't argue.  He knew.
        We reset the positions and I felt better.    We were ready to do our jobs, with the last amount of danger to ourselves.
        In Iraq, the troops are still trigger happy.
        That doesn't justify accidental deaths, or the mangled mess of war's errors that cause unnecessary death.
        It also doesn't mean America should abandon its mission, or that there was any intent on American troops' side to shoot Iraqis because they were Iraqis.
        No one, not even a warrior, wants to kill anyone.

No one, not even a warrior, really wants to kill anyone

        Killing fouls one's senses because there is always the thought, the danger, that you will kill an innocent.
        But, in the heat of the moment, survival rules.   Like blinking the eye, the finger squeezes the trigger, almost in automatic response to some threat, or perceived threat.
        You know you can't take a chance.  You are trained hesitation means death.
        The Iraqi police volunteered to die, whether by friendly or enemy fire.  All warriors volunteer to die.   Death's hand can come from many different sources.
        A green mamba viper can lift its head and strike dead a warrior in the jungle, or, a building can collapse and crush another in the desert--random attacks of circumstance.
        Warriors, whether soldiers, police, firemen or emergency services, take a life-giving risk each time they step into the world.  So does the average citizen who may be hit by a car, or slip and fall and crack his or her head on concrete.
         The deaths of the Iraqi police, no matter how harsh and cruel it may seem on the outside, is not a matter of right and wrong between America and Iraq.   It is not another reason to jettison our role to bring Iraq into a state of stability, or to provide the best possible carpeting for the furniture of democracy.
          We went to Iraq to fight the Beast of Terror.  He still exists.  He will continue to exist.

The Iraqi police died as symbols of Vigilance

          The Iraqi police died as symbols of Vigilance.  They were Martyrs of Vigilance, not Victims of Terrorism.
           All those who died in the World Trade Center as police, fire department or EMS personnel, died as the Iraqi police--Martyrs of Vigilance.    In America, certain factions are trying to blame the deaths of many of more than 300 fireman on faulty radios, on lack of preparedness for battle, on incompetence. 
           Political candidates daily smear the image of the President, accusing him of deceit and nefarious acts, for mismanaging the war and efforts to stabilize Iraq.   They besmirch America's role as a nation of people who seek to spread democracy, and attack the nation's leader as though he were Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein.   
           The Beast of terror loves it when Vigilance is cannibalized.
           We should be cautious about throwing rocks at the death of the Iraqi police just as we should be cautious about throwing rocks at the legitimacy of our actions to let the Beast of Terror know he no longer has free reign over the globe.    He knows now he will be hunted down and destroyed.  He didn't know that before when the U.N. chose to sit on its hands and wait the Beast out.
          Attacking the incompetence of the Sentinels of Vigilance battling the Beast is dangerous.

The Iraqi police join the ranks of our firemen, police and EMS people who died in Nine Eleven as our Children of Vigilance

         Those rocks could be fuel for the Beast of Terror who loves to make us turn on ourselves, and to eat our own Children of Vigilance.
          I believe the Iraqi police who died in the tragic shooting were our Children of Vigilance.   They were the firemen, police and EMS people of Nine Eleven.    They died in the crossfire of the War on Terror.
          We should give them the honor of an honorable death.
          They were Martyrs of Vigilance, not Victims of Terrorism.    


Sep 13--Johnny Cash:  Sentinel of Vigilance Against The Beast of Terror

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