22 Killed in Attack on U.S. Base Near Mosul

Pentagon officials: 22 killed in attack on U.S. base in Iraq (CNN)

Multiple rounds hit a dining hall at a U.S. military base near Mosul on Tuesday, killing 22 people, including U.S. troops, members of the Iraqi national guard, and Iraqi civilians, Pentagon officials said. Fifty-one people were wounded in the incident — which occurred at noon (4 a.m. ET), the officials said.

No other details on the attack were immediately available.

Tuesday’s attack came shortly after British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in Baghdad on a surprise visit to Iraq.

This is very worrisome. Recently, the insurgents had shifted to hitting Iraqi soft targets rather than taking on our forces directly. Our inability to protect even our own bases is troubling.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ken says:

    James, An attack on a mess hall during lunch time with accurately placed mortor rounds (I am assuming the attack was with mortors) shows that the insurgents are learning. If this tactic is repeated then I think it is indeed troublesome. Without some corresponding improvement in our Iraqi forces or a significant addition of US military forces it could hasten our defeat in Iraq.

    That it happened at all, IMO, is just more evidence of the incompetence of the Bush administration in it’s conduct of this unnecessary war.

    (Moved to appropriate thread – JJ)

  2. James Joyner says:

    The Administration can be blamed for several things, including being too slow to recognize the insurgency and react to it. I would think physical security of a base would fall below NCA span of control, however.

  3. Fersboo says:

    “This is very worrisome.”

    Not really. If it continues to happen, then it is worrisome.

    “That it happened at all, IMO, is just more evidence of the incompetence of the Bush administration in its conduct of this unnecessary war.”

    Blah, Blah, Blah.

    “I would think physical security of a base would fall below NCA span of control, however.”

    I agree, physical security is the responsibility of the commanders on the ground. But then again, when your only understanding of military matters, as I must consider Ken’s (and like minded libs)understanding to be, is what you learn from playing with toy soldiers and video games, I could see how such an asinine statement could be made.

  4. Fersboo says:

    Alas, I am an accountant and have an imperfect command of the English language despite 30+ years of practice. When I said ‘asinine statement’ I was refering to Ken’s statement about McChimpHaliburtonHilter’s failure, not JJ’s rebuttal, with which I agree. But I don’t agree with Ken’s, which I hope is obvious.

    Move along, nothing to see here.

  5. Mike says:


    As I recall, this is the first significant attack on a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in a very long time. That is not to say that other FOBs have not been attacked, just that this attack was very successful. If this is an isolated success, no impact.

    Having said that, the loss of 22 soldiers / airmen and/or marines, will not – and should not – effect operational decisions and actions. The commander’s on the ground will look at what happened, identify counter measures and them.


  6. Igor Volsky says:

    The latest poll WP-ABC NEWS poll is the first time a majority of Americans have admitted that the war in Iraq was a mistake. Most disapprove of Bush’s Iraqi policy, Rumsfeld’s job performance, and are skeptical about the future of U.S. occupation. All of these factors could serve as a turning point in public opinion and lead to a realization, within the administration, that the war cannot be maintained at its current levels. Thus, after the Jan. 30th elections (if they have an ounce of legitimacy) we may see some reduction in forces and influence.

    Public disapproval over Bush’s handling in Iraq and the sense that the war is “not worth fighting” are at their highest today, after the election. This serves as yet another testament to the failure of John Kerry in shaping the Iraqi debate and using the news in Iraq to his advantage. The public realization (in great majority) that the war was not worth fighting was not enhanced by the clever catchphrases of John Kerry (“wrong war, wrong place, wrong time”). Instead, he served as a distraction from the events on the ground and the ever-increasing U.S. casualty rate.

    more: http://www.politicalthought.net.

  7. ken says:

    James. I think when the administration decided to occupy Iraq with too few troops attacks like this are inevitable. You cannot hold the local commanders responsible for security when they do not have the manpower necessary to provide security. And that is entirely the fault of the Bush administration. We all knew this from day one that Bush was scewing this up. Throw in another 100,000 soldiers to bring the number up to the minimum Shalikashvili said was needed and then we can say the administration is not to be faulted. Until then Bush is indeed responsible. He created chaos in Iraq by destroying its governing infrastructure and then refused to replace it with a large enough army of occupation to restore order.

  8. Fred Boness says:

    If enough mortar rounds are fired in enough directions something significant is going to get hit sooner or later. It’s a variant of monkeys and typewriters.

    Forward Operating Base Marez is on the South side of Mosul. It’s RIGHT THERE smack up against Mosul. It used to be an Iraqi installation and it is now a U.S. / Iraqi base.

    The base could be better protected if it was twenty miles outside of town with a clear zone around it but, then it wouldn’t be of much use for operations in Mosul.

  9. David Harris says:

    I wish I could actually recall an opponent of the Bush administration saying, at the time of the invasion of Iraq, that we should have “no troops” and “more troops” simultaneously. While your hindsight is exquisite, Ken, I get the feeling you were not leading a push two years ago to send 400,000 American soldiers to die in a quagmire.

  10. Ernie says:

    We have only lost about 1200 people in a two year old war, I think we are doing well.
    Last year my daughter was in northern Iraq and she stated that almost every night hear mortors overhead. They might be getting a little better in using the mortors.
    The more soldiers we have in Iraq, the more body bags we will bring back.

  11. anjin-san says:

    Why should Fersboo find a devestating attack on our forces troubling? After all, it is not his ass getting shot off.

    Yes, The Chairborne Rangers are blogging off to war..

  12. David Fowler says:

    I am outraged that Saddam is allowed to have contact with counsel that uses the privledge to insight the insurgents. This should be stopped! At least until after the election. Saddam needs to be kept underwraps as his followers are surely still there. I don’t understand why he needs to be tried right now. Stick him an a hole and keep him there!

    Oh, I have a nephew who is wounded Army and my youngest daughter goes this summer.

    David Fowler

  13. Fersboo says:


    Quip away dumbass, I was protecting the free world while you were still suckling at your mama’s teat. When I talk about commanders on the ground, I happen to know what I am talking about.

  14. Mike says:

    It’s really no more troubling than have been all of the other recent attacks: that is, very troubling but no longer surprising. Further, I wouldn’t doubt iif the attacks got help from some local on the inside, that is somehow connected with the troops. Oh well! Look for something big on the 25th…

  15. Cassandra says:

    If enough mortar rounds are fired in enough directions something significant is going to get hit sooner or later.

    Thank you…you have restored my faith that there is at least one person on this earth left with a functioning brain.

    My God… common sense rears its head.

    Here’s a thought: why doesn’t Rummy encase all our bases in huge fricking plexiglass bubbles, with crisscrossing laser beams so we can shoot down all incoming mortar rounds BEFORE THEY EVER HIT THE GROUND?

    Joe Biden and Ted (“why yes, I do believe I’ll have another”) Kennedy should be all over this one — shameful lack of planning! Our troops don’t have what they need! Rummy failed to foresee a critical need!

    But then, from Ken’s POV, the apparently startling fact that mortars fly through the air and casualties do sometimes occur during wartime (who knew?) provides both proof of administration incompetence and the joyous opportunity for us all to join hands and sing “kumbaya”.

    All together now…

  16. LJD says:

    A perfect example of why we’re a REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY, not a pure democracy. First, not everybody can reach agreement (latest election as case-in-point).

    Second, public opinion ALWAYS wavers when things are tough. Who says government must follow what poular opinion says, when it says it?. What perspective have “they” got anyway (biased news reports)?

    Perhaps the outcome in VietNam would have been different had we fought the war the way it should have been, and were not so concerned about Hanoi Jane and John’s buddies up North. Alas, hindsight is a slippery slope about which the left frequently treads.

    But what in history may have been different acting in such a way? Would we have discovered Aushwitz? Would there have been a Valley Forge? Would the Union have prevailed at Gettysburg?

    Today, we keep on tying the hands of our troops, and prevent them from accomplishing their missions. It’s not because of the Administration: It is the media, the left, Al Jazeera, defining what actions are appropriate. Meanwhile the left keeps fanning the flames. What, no flight suit or vehicle armor comments on this one?

  17. ken says:

    Once again conservative prove just how brain dead they are. Blaming the press for ‘defining what actions are appropriate’ (giving orders?) to our troops is about the dumbest thing, among a litany of dumb things, said here.

    I stood proudly against this illegal, immoral and unjust invasion of another country by Bush. But if, against better judgement, you’re going to go to war anyway, it seemed to me common sense to listen to the generals. Bush not only got us involved in a war based upon a lie, he cannot even fight the war successfully. For the occupation of a country the size of Iraq he needs to send in at least another 100,000 troops. Don’t blame me for telling it like it is.

  18. ken says:

    The Washington Post is reporting that there was just one explosion and that a militant group is taking credit for martyrdom on its website. If this is true this is even more troubling than a mortor attack. It looks like an insurgent was able to drive a car or truck bomb right up to a mess hall inside a military base. Some security.

  19. Fersboo says:


    Excellent point! Since you did not do enough to ensure that Geo.W.Bush got elected in the first place, and as President, he got us into this “illegal, immoral and unjust invasion of another country” situation, the blame of those deaths rests solely on your shoulders.

    I hope you are proud of yourself!

  20. ken says:

    Actually Fersboo I did do everything legally, within my means, I could to elect John Kerry, but my state of California was for the good guy all along so I doubt if my effort made much difference.

  21. LJD says:


    I am not blaming the press for orders that were or were not given, rather orders that could not be given. Orders that are simply not an option because of the pervasiveness of cameras on the battlefield and the failure mentality of those against the war, who like to align themselves with the philosophy of the enemy.

    To fight and win this war, or any war, will take actions distasteful to the 6 o’clock news, and your hightened sensibilities. I thought that was obvious from the text of my post. Of course, your philosophy has proven time and time again to have ignored the obvious.

    …and Mortar, has an “A” in it.

  22. LJD says:

    …and keep getting your news from the Washington Post’s reporting of what an insurgent said. It’s much more reliable than what our troops (who you’re supporting, right?) are saying.

  23. LJD says:

    …some security?

    I suppose Bush and Rumsfeld are directly to blame for this attack. Of course you don’t mean to throw mud in the faces of those on guard duty at the time…

  24. anjin-san says:


    If you were in the military when I was a babe, that would make you hmmm about 70. If you are going to try and match quips with me at least try not to sound stupid.

    As I said, it is not your ass getting shot off in Iraq…

  25. Attila Girl says:

    A little literal-minded, Anjin-San? There’s something called hyperbole, and it . . . aw, nuts. Not worth it. I’m going to bed.

  26. Cassandra says:

    It looks like an insurgent was able to drive a car or truck bomb right up to a mess hall inside a military base.

    Hellooooo Ken…

    It was a mortar attack. M-O-R-T-A-R.

    A group claiming responsibility on a web site is hardly definitive evidence. Holes (symmetrical ones, indicative of MORTAR ROUNDS) on the other hand, would generally be considered EVIDENCE.

    And as far as listening to the generals, my husband just got back from being over in Fallujah for two weeks talking to those “generals” you so blithely reference, so I’d wager I have a better idea what their opinions are than you do from reading the WaPo, which has an agenda a mile long.

    LJD, of COURSE it was the guards’ fault – they were supposed to jump up into the sky and block incoming mortar rounds!

    Don’t all guards do that when they’re on post? That’s the very first thing they teach you at MP school.

  27. Cassandra says:

    And another thing Ken, it’s extremely difficult to stop a truck bomb anyway on a desert outpost.

    If they get up a good head of speed and don’t mind dying in the attempt, they can always sabotage the fence and drive right through or charge the gate. In a civilian post you have a series of concrete chicanes, but I’m not sure how effective that is in the desert, and anyway I wouldn’t come through the gate as that’s the most fortified point. What you hope to do is place the gate far enough away from the people so you can blow them to hell before they get there. It’s very hard to keep them from entering.

    You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  28. LJD says:

    “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    An observation about Ken made so painfully obvious by none other than himself.

  29. anjin-san says:


    Fox News reports the bombing was a suicide attack by a single man, no evidence of mortars.

    Seeing that you were absolutly wrong in your facts, and it seems Ken was right in his, you should consider an apology.

  30. anjin-san says:

    Attilla Girl,

    This type of “hyperbole” usaually comes from guys who have never been witin a thousand miles of combat.

    I know a lot of combat vets who served at places like Bastogne, Midway, Frozen Chosin & Khe Sahn. They almost NEVER talk about it. They certainly do not shriek about having “defending the free world” to complete strangers…

  31. LJD says:

    Yeah, well I “know” alot of people who fought in the Civil War. What did YOU do, Mr. judgemental?

    You have a hell of alot to say about something YOU have never done. How can you understand anything about how a vet feels, when you are so obviously not one yourself.