Operation First Casualty
July 4, 2007
Most reasonable people, regardless of their political persuasion, are aware of the reality that the first casualty of war is the truth. Any person who has actually participated in a war, knows the second casualty is the plan. The list of casualties and costs escalates from these first two items to include killed and wounded soldiers on both sides, killed and wounded civilians on both sides - often in far greater numbers than combatants, despite propaganda to the contrary by both belligerents - and of course the losses suffered by the families of the military and civilian victims of war. Let us not forget also, the cost to national treasuries, and the cost to taxpayers.
Yesterday, July 4th, 2007, Independence Day
The veterans, dressed in authentic desert
combat uniforms, staged a series of mock combat patrols
depicting actions and missions they performed in
Scenario one was called a "detention" mission, wherein the patrol encountered a peaceful gathering of Iraqi citizens (portrayed by veterans' family members, friends, members of Colorado Veterans for Peace, and Viet Nam Veterans Against the War) which the patrol dispersed, by apprehending "suspected resistance leaders" whom they "detained for later interrogation". Those who were apprehended were forcibly thrown to the ground, their hands secured behind their backs with nylon tie-wraps, and bags were placed over their heads. "Iraqi" bystanders protesting the detention of their friends or family members were threatened with simulated weapons (real or toy weapons were deemed too dangerous and intimidating for the purposes of the production, so the veterans portraying the occupiers held their hands in positions simulating holding an M-4 assault rifle) and forced to submit, with loud shouts of "Don't make me shoot you!"
Scenario two was a "riot control" mission, wherein an "Iraqi" anti-American demonstration was broken up by the patrol. The methodology was similar, except the simulated Iraqis were more militant and aggressive. The results were the same - violent apprehension and detention.
Scenario three was a simulated event in which the patrol received sniper fire from an imagined Iraqi insurgent. In this scenario, one soldier would go down as if hit by the sniper. The other soldiers would provide both covering fire, and administer first aid, before carrying their wounded comrade to safety.
To move from the site of one scenario to the next, the patrol used the standard urban combat movement techniques. These techniques involve cautious, watchful movement taking advantage of available cover offered by the urban street. It is a slow process, but essential to survival in a moderate to high threat environment. Using this movement technique provided not only realism, but time for the "Iraqi civilian" actors to move up to the next contact point. The idea was to keep moving, repeating the various scenarios for as many bystanders as possible.
The production began in
The purpose of this production was to
graphically illustrate to the American public the daily reality of the
American occupation of
Several volunteers served as
pamphleteers, preceding the actors along the route handing
out pamphlets, explaining what was happening, and the reasons these
We were very gratified that the reception was overwhelmingly positive. Once people understood what was happening, they very quickly grasped both the seriousness of the production, and the sincerity of the actors.
At the close of the day, the Iraq Veterans
conducted a memorial ceremony at Veteran's Memorial Park, immediately south of
To a man, each of these combat-seasoned veterans volunteered in the wake of 9/11 to serve their nation in defense of democracy. And, to a man, after one or more tours in Iraq, each one of these citizen-patriots realized that they had been lied to by their government, had been used by politicians to make Iraq safe for exploitation by corporate profiteers, and having returned alive but physically scarred and emotionally wounded, are now being given short-shrift with respect to health care by the military, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The stated goals of the IVAW are: to bring our troops home now; to care properly for our physically and emotionally wounded troops in a timely manner; and to pay reparations to the Iraqi people, who have suffered egregiously as a result of the American invasion and occupation of their nation.
Colorado Veterans for Peace extends
our deepest gratitude to each of these courageous veterans of the
Charles R. Elliston