Reporters on the Job
ANOTHER URBAN SWAMP: Baghdad may be thousands of miles from Mogadishu, says the Monitor's Scott Peterson, but if American troops find themselves in the Iraqi capital (page 1), they may be forgiven for a sense of déjà vu.
Somalia in 1993 was the last battlefield where US forces saw action in a hostile city. They were conducting a manhunt for warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid. And Scott, who covered the effort, says all the US military's weaknesses in such an environment were on display from convoys getting shot up to one soldier who over-reacted when his sunglasses were stolen and fatally shot the boy thief.
The enemy, after awhile, included almost every Somali civilian, since women and children often took part in ambush operations. Scott vividly remembers how, in search of their prey, elite Delta Force teams bungled one raid after another.
"Once, Delta ripped into the house of a rival clan, a highly unlikely hiding place for Gen. Aidid. From the air, it all looked the same. But on the ground, it was a different world. The next day, US diplomats made a special trip to the house to apologize, and pay reparations."
SURVIVAL COURSE: The Monitor's Cameron Barr says the statements and actions recorded in his story today are not the only reason he believes the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians may calm down for a while (page 1).
He jokes that the "x" factor is that the Monitor has just sent him on a war-correspondent survival course - a five-day affair where former British marines teach how not to get shot or blown up. "It's perfect," says Cameron. "Now that I think I know something about how not to get shot or blown up, the conflict will go quiet not that I'm complaining."
David Clark Scott