Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Updated: 06:45 PM EDT

Army to Miss Annual Recruiting Goal

WASHINGTON (Sept. 12) - The U.S. Army posted its best recruiting month in four years in August, but will still miss its first annual recruiting goal since 1999, officials said on Monday, as the Iraq war makes it difficult to attract new soldiers. August, the penultimate month of fiscal 2005, saw the regular Army send more recruits into boot camp than any month since July 2001.

But the part-time Army National Guard and Army Reserve, both missed their monthly goals again and will fall far short of their annual goals. The regular Army was 6,972 recruits behind its year-to-date goal by the end of August, too big a deficit to make up with September's recruiting, officials said. Iraq is the first test of the all-volunteer U.S. military during a protracted war.

About 1,900 American troops have been killed and another more than 14,000 wounded. Some defense analysts have argued that the United States may have to consider resuming the draft, abolished in 1973 during the Vietnam War era, if the military is unable to attract sufficient numbers of recruits. The regular Army, aiming for 80,000 recruits this year, has achieved its goals for three months in a row after missing four straight.

But officials conceded it will miss its goal for the full fiscal year for the first time in six years. The situation was worse in the Army Reserve and in the National Guard, which is under the command of state governors. These part-time troops can be called to active duty by the Pentagon and they now make up about 40 percent of the U.S. force in Iraq. The National Guard has missed its recruiting targets every month this fiscal year and was poised to miss its third straight annual recruiting goal.

The Army National Guard missed its recruiting goal by 18 percent in August and was 12,683 -- or 22 percent -- behind its year-to-date goal, certain to fall far short of its annual target of 63,002. The Reserve, which last missed an annual goal in 1999, was short of its August target by 9 percent and 19 percent behind its year-to-date target. It also will miss its 2005 goal of attracting 28,485 recruits. The Army has attributed the recruiting shortfalls to a growing wariness about military service because of the Iraq war and an economy that is creating more civilian jobs.

The Army has increased financial incentives for enlistment, added recruiters and bought advertisements appealing to young Americans' sense of patriotism. In July, the Pentagon asked Congress to raise the maximum age for military enlistment to 42. The ceiling now is 35 for active-duty and 39 for the reserves or National Guard. The Marine Corps made its August goal and was 2 percent ahead year-to-date. The Air Force and Navy both achieved their targets.

09/12/05 18:38 ET

Updated: 07:28 AM EDT

Insurgents Shell Green Zone in Baghdad

Bounty Placed on Heads of Iraqi Leaders By


(Sept. 13) - Insurgents shelled the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad early Tuesday, and U.S. and Iraqi commanders said more than 400 suspects were captured during an offensive to retake the northern town of Tal Afar. Two mortar rounds exploded near a military hospital inside the protected area that houses the Iraqi government, parliament, and foreign missions, police said. There were no reports of casualties.

Security inside the Green Zone was boosted earlier this month after reports that suicide bombers were trying to penetrate the area. Meanwhile, U.S. commanders in Tal Afar said that more than 400 suspected rebels were in custody as a result of recent offensive there.

The Iraqi military reported on Tuesday that its troops had detained 36 more rebels, including a Yemeni citizen, just south of Tal Afar. "Now, (the guerrillas) are just trying to save themselves by hiding in houses and communities," Col. H.R. McMasters, commander of the American contingent from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, said. "The enemy no long enjoys any kind of a safe haven or a support base in the city." "This operation was very precise. We've had access to all the terrorist safe havens," said Brig. General Muhsen Yahya, commander of the Iraqi Army's 1st Brigade in Tal Afar.

On Monday, officials said the insurgent death toll in three days of fighting in Tal Afar totaled 200. Seven Iraqi soldiers and six civilians also died; the U.S. military said no American soldiers were hurt. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari flew to Tal Afar on Monday to congratulate his army, and Al-Iraqiya state television said he went despite insurgent threats "to attack the city with chemical and biological weapons."

There was no known public threat from the insurgents to use unconventional weapons in Tal Afar, but militants made two Internet postings in recent days vowing to stage chemical attacks on the Green Zone. The Islamic Army in Iraq, which has previously claimed responsibility for kidnappings and killings of foreigners, made a bounty offer for the assassination of key Iraqi officials. The militant group called in a Web posting for its "holy fighters to strike the infidels with an iron fist."

It offered $100,000 to the killer of al-Jaafari, $50,000 for the interior minister and $30,000 for the defense minister. Iraq's U.S.-trained forces and U.S.-backed government are waging their own media offensive, using the Tal Afar operation to position themselves as a confident and strong team leading the fight to wipe out insurgent forces. "I met today with the commander of the 3rd Division in Tal Afar and his officers and soldiers and found them in high spirits," al-Jaafari said. Hundreds of Iraqis danced, sang and waved flags as the prime minister toured the region.

In other developments Tuesday:
- Gunmen shot and killed two Sunni clerics in Baqouba, a town 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.
- Two truck drivers delivering concrete blast walls from a factory in Iraqi Kurdistan were ambushed and killed in Baghdad. The blast walls are used throughout Baghdad to secure government buildings, hotels, embassies and other potential targets from suicide bombers.
- Police found the body of a former judge in Baghdad's eastern neighborhood of Sadr City. A note left next to it said: "This is the destiny of those who support Saddam."
- A bomb planted aboard a minibus exploded in Hilla, a town 60 miles south of Baghdad. Two civilians were killed and six injured, police said. - In Samarra, north of Baghdad, U.S. soldiers killed two insurgents who were trying to plant a roadside bomb, the military said.

09-13-05 07:16 EDT

Syria rejects US charges on Iraq

Monday 12 September 2005 9:48 PM GMT

Syria has rejected US accusations that it allows fighters to sneak into Iraq, describing what it called Washington's threat of using force as part of its relentless pressure on Damascus. "It is regrettable that such language should come from the ambassador of a great power who is supposed to show more commitment to the norms of international relations," Syrian Information Minister Mahdi Dakhlallah said on Monday.

The US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, fired a strong warning to Syria earlier during the day over help that Washington accuses the Damascus government of giving to radical groups in Iraq. "Our patience is running out with Syria," Khalilzad said in Washington. When asked how the US could respond, he said "all options are on the table", including military. US threat "I would not like to elaborate more, they should understand what I mean," Khalilzad said.

Dakhlallah retorted: "There is a threat of aggression there, and a style which is reminiscent of colonial eras and cold and hot wars. "Moreover, there are old, groundless accusations relating to the Iraqi-Syrian borders." Dakhlallah said: "Syria has exerted efforts almost beyond its capacity as a small and developing country to protect the border because Iraq's stability is a Syrian concern, not just an Iraqi concern. Stability is indivisible and dangers most often come from two directions. "

In any event, we have got used to this language from the United States. It represents a clear escalation in a chain of successive pressures on Syria," he added. Khalilzad said the US believes that Iraqi Sunnis are refusing to agree to a proposed constitution because of threats from Sunni extremists who have infiltrated into Iraq from Syria, where they have training camps. "Syria has to decide what price it's willing to pay in making Iraq success difficult.

And time is running out for Damascus to decide on this issue," he warned. Khalilzad offered no proof of claims of Syrian interference, which he called "blatant". Syria has repeatedly rejected charges that it allows anti-US fighters to cross its border into Iraq.

Agencies You can find this article at:
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/89619962-B3D3-46DB- 931A-E4B799533570.htm

Iraq closes Syrian border point

Iraq has closed a border crossing point with Syria as US and Iraqi forces wage gun battles with insurgents in the northern town of Talafar. The move came as US and Iraqi troops swept through Talafar, smashing walls with armoured vehicles. Iraq's defence ministry said more than 140 insurgents had been killed in the town in the last two days.

The Americans believe the town is being used as a staging post by foreign fighters crossing into Iraq from Syria. The Rabiah border crossing - about 100km (60 miles) east of Rabiah - is now closed to all vehicles except those with special permission from the interior ministry. Iraqi and American authorities have complained that the Syrians have done too little to stop the flow of foreign fighters crossing into Iraq to join the anti-US insurgency.

The BBC's Jonathan Charles in Baghdad says the operation in Talafar is the biggest against rebels since the assault on Falluja last year. 'Terrorist elements' The assault on Talafar has been expected for some time and the authorities earlier urged Talafar's 200,000 residents to leave.

It has been the scene of heavy fighting and US air strikes in the past week. Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari said action had to be taken in Talafar because insurgents were trying to isolate it from the rest of Iraq and the political process. "At 0200 [local time] today, acting on my orders, Iraqi forces commenced an operation to remove all remaining terrorist elements from the city of Talafar," Mr Jaafari said in a statement.

"These forces are operating with support from the Multi- National Force," he said. The US military drove the insurgents out of Talafar a year ago, only for them to return once the troops had withdrawn. Iraqi Defence Minister Saadoun Dulaimi said 144 insurgents had been killed during the operation in Talafar in the last two days and 192 captured. Many of them were Arabs from other states. He said attention would be turned to other parts of the country which needed help.

"We tell our people in Ramadi, Samarra, Rawa and Qaim that we are coming," Mr Dulaimi told a news conference. "There will be no refuge for the terrorists, criminals and bloodsuckers."

Amnesty The Iraqi Red Crescent has set up camps outside Talafar to receive civilians trying to escape the fighting. "There is bombing missiles and tanks bombing everywhere in sight," says Dr Salam Ismael Obaidi, of the Doctors for Iraq organisation. Mr Obaidi told the BBC that families fleeing the fighting were being separated at checkpoints outside the city, with women and children sent to refugee camps and some young men arrested at random and taken away.

But Adnan Ali, a spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister, insisted the government had taken necessary measures to avoid loss of innocent life. He added that those who had not committed any crime would be granted amnesty. "We are calling on them, we are distributing leaflets through the aircraft, requesting the civilians to leave," Mr Ali told the BBC.

Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/4234122.stm Published: 2005/09/11 03:20:13 GMT

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