The first I heard about what happened to Lt. Col. Timothy Karcher, the last U.S. commander of Sadr City who recently signed over jurisdiction to Iraqis, was from a reader. He e-mailed me about my last column, which argued that "allies" don't declare victory over each other (as Iraq's prime minister Nouri al-Maliki declared "victory" over the United States), and the sooner we realize Iraq isn't our "ally," the better. It also bemoaned the U.S. military's deference to Iraq, quoting top brass beginning with Gen. Raymond Odierno and including Lt. Col. Karcher, in their execution of what I, myself, consider a futile U.S. policy to Westernize Islamic cultures.
"I appreciate your fervor and feelings about Mr. al-Maliki's comments, but I must say that your biting commentary regarding the quote from Lt. Col Karcher has driven me to reply," he wrote. "You may not be aware," he continued, but since signing over jurisdiction to the Iraqis, Lt. Col. Karcher suffered a roadside bomb attack and lost both legs. One of his men, Sgt. Timothy David of Beaverton, Mich. -- a veteran of six tours in Iraq and Afghanistan -- was killed by a second EFP.
I was not aware. This grievous attack received scant coverage. Pieced together, news briefs tell us that on June 28 -- two days before Iraq's "victory" celebration, and 10 days after Lt. Col. Karcher signed over jurisdiction to Iraq -- the vehicle Lt. Col. Karcher was riding in near Sadr City drove over an explosively formed penetrator (EFP, also called an explosively formed projectile), the particularly lethal, Iranian-made roadside bomb. The blast severed both legs above the knees. After delivering their commander to Baghdad's Combat Support Hospital, his men were hit by a second EFP. It was then that Sgt. David was killed.
Lt. Col. Karcher is now hospitalized at Walter Reed in Washington, DC. Sgt. David , 28, was buried in Beaverton, Mich., this week.
Whether al-Maliki counts this as another "great victory" over the "foreign presence" in Iraq, we don't know. The incident elicited no statements, no calls for an investigation into how and why, shortly after turning over security responsibilities to the 11th Iraqi Army Division, Lt. Col. Karcher was hit. And the official silence blankets both Baghdad and Washington, DC.