The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Success! 'Operation: Swarmer' nabs freshly-baked bread

There always was something a little peculiar about Operation: Swarmer, an 'air offensive' ( a fishy term in itself) in Iraq that was pitched as one of the boldest offensives of the war. The press was given the number of aircraft and troops involved (with special focus on the number of American-trained Iraqis involved-- something the government really, really wants to highlight), but information about the mission's strategy or goals was pretty sparse. Initially, I chalked that up to the White House's notorious love of secrecy. But a reporter for Time magazine who was there on the scene had this to say about the mission: "Meh." To be fair, 'Operation: Poll Numbers' just doesn't sound as snappy.

The press, flown in from Baghdad to this agricultural gridiron northeast of Samarra, huddled around the Iraqi officials and U.S. Army commanders who explained that the "largest air assault since 2003" in Iraq using over 50 helicopters to put 1500 Iraqi and U.S. troops on the ground had netted 48 suspected insurgents, 17 of which had already been cleared and released. The area, explained the officials, has long been suspected of being used as a base for insurgents operating in and around Samarra, the city north of Baghdad where the bombing of a sacred shrine recently sparked a wave of sectarian violence.

But contrary to what many many television networks erroneously reported, the operation was by no means the largest use of airpower since the start of the war. ("Air Assault" is a military term that refers specifically to transporting troops into an area.) In fact, there were no airstrikes and no leading insurgents were nabbed in an operation that some skeptical military analysts described as little more than a photo op. What’s more, there were no shots fired at all and the units had met no resistance, said the U.S. and Iraqi commanders.

There's more. Recommended reading, especially for fans of homemade baked goods.