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Monday, July 26, 2004

The Coalition of the Unnoticed

While working in Korea, the streets of Itaewon are often teeming with U.S. soldiers. I wasn't suprised that a many of them were black, but I was surprised that I heard so much Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba being spoken. In a conversation with one of them, I found that he was serving in the army as a means of obtaining his green card so that he could live and work in the United States. It seems that many would-be immigrants from African countries are willing to risk being shot or blown up in order to get a shot at living in America. After seeing the wretched lives many Nigerians are faced with, I might make the same choice if I were in their shoes.

The question I've been pondering for the past few months is "what role do these men and women play in the war in Iraq".

According to a Russian military analyst as quoted in an Indian newspaper, a largely unnoticed one...

"'Official statistics do not include casualties among non-U.S. nationals who sign up to serve in the American armed forces in order to get a U.S. `green card.' According to reliable information the share of non-Americans in the U.S. force in Iraq may be as high as 60 per cent,' the source said. 'The real number of U.S. losses may be as high as 2,000 casualties and up to 12,000 wounded,' the military diplomat said".

Judging from my firsthand observations, this seems like a credible report. I've yet to hear of any news reports of Africans fighting and dying in Iraq for the United States, but I know for a fact that many have been deployed. Do you think their names have shown up in any press releases? If they have, I haven't seen them, have you?

Don't you think that, if the pentagon has deployed foreign nationals, they would most likely deploy them to the most troublesome areas, knowing that the fallout from their deaths would be less politically damaging to their public relations?

Is this occurring? I think it's more than likely, and it's time for the media to start asking the question. Uncounted troop deaths contribute to the fog of war. They create the impression that the conflict is less intense than it actually is. If the report is correct and we actually have over 2,000 killed and 12,000 injured, that's almost a ten percent attrition rate...How would that compare to past wars? My suspicion is that a ten percent attrition rate would indicate that we're still in the midst of "major combat operations".

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