Posted by Peter
On the battle for Fallujah:
THE green video screen in the back of a Bradley fighting vehicle is the ultimate in reality television and that is how we watched the battle of Fallujah unfold as our 30-tonne steel beast advanced into the district of Jolan, a rebel bastion, in the small hours of yesterday.
Outside, in the bomb-blasted streets, up to 5000 diehard insurgents were out to kill. Inside, on a screen accurate enough to show rats scavenging on the rubbish piles, the battle between luminous green tanks and luminous green gunmen seemed almost abstract.
Progress was a mere crawl as the drivers spotted huge IEDs – improvised explosive devices – that can blow a Bradley in half. The gunners fired into them, triggering a series of massive explosions.
“There were too many IEDs to count,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Rainey, the cavalry battalion commander who rode into battle with his men.
Watching the green screen was nerve-racking. With buildings wrecked and streets churned up, there were potential booby traps everywhere. Then, as the column lumbered down a main road, the guerillas appeared.
They emerged from gates, alleyways and rooftops, alone or in small groups. Wherever they faced an armoured vehicle, they died where they stood.
The resistance was determined, but hardly the apocalyptic showdown the guerillas had pledged. They had threatened to throw hundreds of suicide bombers at the Americans. But in the darkness they were at a disadvantage, stumbling blind while the US gunners could see clearly.