Iraq: Yanks get fragged

The US, it seems, barely has control of its own proxy forces in Iraq. From AP, June 22:

Two California soldiers shot to death in Iraq were murdered by Iraqi civil-defense officers patrolling with them, military investigators have found.

The deaths of Army Spc. Patrick R. McCaffrey Sr. and 1st Lt. Andre D. Tyson were originally attributed to an ambush during a patrol near Balad, Iraq, on June 22, 2004. But the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division found that one or more of the Iraqis attached to the American soldiers on patrol fired at them, a military official said Tuesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the military did not plan to release the report until Wednesday.

The families of McCaffrey and Tyson were to be briefed on the report’s conclusions Tuesday and Wednesday by Brig. Gen. Oscar Hilman, the soldiers’ commander at the time, and three other officers. “When they come I have my list of questions ready, and I want these answers and I don’t want lies,” McCaffrey’s mother, Nadia McCaffrey, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Soldiers who witnessed the attack have told her that two Iraqi patrolmen opened fire on her son’s unit. The witnesses also said a third gunman simultaneously drove up to the American unit in a van, climbed onto the vehicle and fired at the Americans, she said.

“Nothing is clear. Nothing is clear,” she said. Her son was shot eight times by bullets of various calibers, some of which penetrated his body armor, she said. She believes he bled to death.

Nadia McCaffrey has become a vocal critic of the war in Iraq, and said her son had reservations about it, too, though he served well and was promoted posthumously to sergeant.

“I really want this story to come out; I want people to know what happened to my son,” she said. “There is no doubt to me that this (ambushes by attached Iraqi units) is still happening to soldiers today, but our chain of command is awfully reckless; they don’t seem to give a damn about what’s happening to soldiers.”

Patrick McCaffrey joined the National Guard the day after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, his mother said.

Tyson’s family could not be located, and a message left with his former unit was not immediately returned.

McCaffrey, 34, and Tyson, 33, were members of the California National Guard. Both were assigned to the Army National Guard’s 579th Engineer Battalion, based in Petaluma.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., pressed the Pentagon for answers about the case when Nadia McCaffrey was unsatisfied by explanations from the military. “Mrs. McCaffrey is set to receive a briefing from Pentagon officials (Wednesday) afternoon in California, during which we hope they will provide her with a full report of the facts surrounding Sgt. McCaffrey’s death,” said Natalie Ravitz, a Boxer spokeswoman.

See our last post on Iraq.