Here’s the article, along with my commentary in bold:
U.S. General Says Baghdad Power to Be Restored
Thu April 17, 2003 06:20 AM ET
By Matthew Green
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The commander of U.S. Marines in Iraq said on Thursday his forces would soon put an end to looting in Baghdad and start to restore power while also continuing their hunt for top Saddam Hussein loyalists.
The Marines have next to nothing to do with restoring power. Neither does the army. Power is being restored by Iraqi power plant workers going back to work, without pay, on their own. The Marines guard the power plants, but otherwise do nothing else. I know this because I saw it with my own eyes.
Major General James Mattis told Reuters in an interview that electricity would be restored to some of the city by Friday, addressing a major complaint among Baghdad residents deprived of power since before U.S. forces swept into the city last week.
“We expect to get the power back on by tomorrow,” Mattis said, adding that Marines were working alongside Iraqis to try to restore other services. “Getting the water, the power, the trash back up, that’s absolutely critical,” he said.
The Marines are not tasked with any of this–restoring power, water, or trash. In fact, the Marines are going to be leaving Baghdad in a few days. I don’t know what this guy is talking about.
It was unclear how much of the city would have power again and Mattis warned there would still be significant blackouts.
Mattis is the commanding general of the First Marine Division, whose troops occupy Baghdad east of the river Tigris. The U.S. Army is responsible for the western side of the city.
“It’s very secure, very few incidents of violence anywhere in town, we have gone from fighting our way into the country to where it’s very unusual to have any shooting in a 24-hour period, that’s a tremendous truth-teller,” Mattis said.
There is gunfire all the time. Some times an hour goes by without–during the day, but at night it’s very common. In fact, the Marines guarding my hotel had a fire fight with Iraqis across the Tigris just last night.
“We continue to get waves and smiles which shows that something we’re doing is right,” he said.
I’m sure they’re out there, but I have yet to meet a Baghdadi who is grateful to the Americans for this war at all. One young girl told a friend that she waves at the Marines but she really hates them. And she thinks they’re ugly.
The point of my radio piece today is that the talk of the Army and the government about Baghdad has no similiarities to what I actually see. What little progress is made, at least what I see, is done by Iraqis themselves. The troops are a stabilizing presence, and they do keep things a bit quiet. But they have very little to do with restoring any of the infrastructure.