More mortar attacks on the Green Zone, with more casualties; this is a persistent trend.
Mortar rounds hammered the U.S.-controlled Green Zone for a second day Wednesday, killing at least two people, wounding about 10 more and raising new fears for the safety of workers at the nerve center of the American mission in Iraq.
Residents of the Green Zone are now routinely wearing helmets and flak jackets. Housing there is not particularly sturdy, and many residents are worried.
In spite of the attacks, embassy employees complain, most staff members still sleep in trailers that one described as “tin cans” that offer virtually no protection from rocket and mortar fire. The government has refused to harden the roofs because of the cost, one employee said.
Embassy employees have been ordered not to talk about security concerns or precautions with reporters, but three State Department employees in Baghdad discussed the issue.
One official called it “criminally negligent” not to reduce the size of the embassy staff, which a year ago was estimated at 1,000. “What responsible person and responsible government would ask you to put yourself at risk like that? We don’t belong here,” the employee said, adding, “They’re not going to send us home because it’s going to be another admission of failure.” The employees said their trailers have been surrounded with sandbags, but that nothing has been done to reinforce the roofs to withstand a rocket or mortar hit. When some employees asked during the meeting if they could move into a hardened structure, they were told to wait for the completion of a new embassy that’s still under construction.
“In any other embassy, we would have been evacuated,” one of the employees said. “As always, the U.S. government is reactive, not proactive. They are going to wait until 20 people die, then the people back in Washington will say we have a problem.”
We have already overstayed our welcome, and it seems like we’re getting further and further behind the eightball. I hope that General Petraeus has the safety of his soldiers uppermost in his mind. As far as the Green Zone is concerned, sometimes fortifications make it difficult to get out, as well as hard to get in.