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This week marks the fifth anniversary of the battle for Baghdad. We'll be reviewing that event here. As part of that look back, here's a Mudville entry from 2004...
On the west side of the highway, Schwartz noticed a series of flower shops and greenhouses. It looked like one of those nurseries commonly seen on highways outside American suburbs. There were drooping awnings, perennials in big plastic pots and trays of annuals, shrubs and hanging baskets, and sheets of plastic blotting out the hot April sun. Behind the plants were rows of heavy clay pots, and behind them were men with automatic rifles and RPGs, crouching and hiding, apparently in the mistaken belief that a half inch of baked clay and a few pounds of dirt would shield them from coax rounds or Twenty-five Mike Mike. They were all reloading, having pelted the front of the column. Now they were setting up to unload on Schwartz and his vehicles. Schwartz was amazed. The gunmen appeared to have no idea how vulnerable they had left themselves.
Schwartz yelled to his gunner, "Spray some ammunition in there." That would get their attention, Schwartz thought. It would keep their heads until the Bradley gunners behind Schwartz could get a fix on them, Schwartz radioed the Bradley commanders: "There's a florist, a nursery coming up on your left. Destroy that nursery."
The Bradleys obeyed. Schwartz watched the clay pots explode, right down the road, one by one. Twenty-five Mike Mike is a high explosive round. It hits and pops. The clay pots disappeared, and so did the men behind them. They evaporated in a spray of dirt and clay, their weapons flying. Four of the Bradleys went at it, killing a few, then passing the targets back to the next Bradley, which killed a few and passed the work back. They were finishing their work. They put perhaps a hundred rounds of Twenty-five Mike Mike into the nursery, and then it was gone, and a couple dozen fighters, more or less, were gone too.
"Okay, you're done," Schwartz said. "Shut it off." The 25mm gun tubes swung back north and the Bradleys plowed forward, the gunners searching through their thermal sights for more targets.
The enemy kept coming. Soldiers and civilian gunmen were arriving now in every available mode of transportation-hatchbacks, orange-and-white taxis, police cars, ambulances, pickups, big Chevy�s, motorcycles with sidecars. Major Nussio, the battalion executive officer, opened fire on a huge garbage truck with a soldier at the wheel. He was thinking to himself as the soldier keeled over and the truck crash-landed: A garbage truck? These people are so stupid - stupid but determined.
They were not giving up. It seemed suicidal - men with nothing more than AK-47s or wildly inaccurate RPGs were charging tanks and Bradleys. It was like they wanted to die, or worse, they just didn't care. That disturbed some of the tankers. They weren't trained to fight people who didn't give a damn. Nor were they quite prepared to fight people who didn't have a plan - didn't have a clue. As each RPG team or pack of dismounts attacked with utter disregard for what the other Iraqis or Syrians were doing, the tankers kept thinking: It's all a big trap. They really do have a plan. They're just luring us in with those haphazard, disjointed tactics. Sometime soon, they're going to get organized and attack with some serious tactics.
At one point, a little white Volkswagen Passat suddenly appeared on the highway. It came off one of the access ramps. Before anyone could react, the Passat turned sharply and smacked into one of the Bradleys. Everyone thought it was a suicide car, but nothing exploded. The driver opened the door and stepped out, his hands raised over his head. He was a portly middle-aged man with a trim black mustache and wavy silver hair. He wore an Iraqi military uniform with a colonel's gold rank on his epaulets. There was a pistol on his hip.
The Bradley commander radioed Captain Hilmes. "Sir we got an Iraqi general here," he said, misreading the colonel's rank. "He just crashed his car into our Bradley. What do you want us to do with him?"
"Capture his ass," Hilmes ordered.
Several infantrymen climbed out of the Bradley's hull and snatched the colonel and dragged him inside. Later under interrogation by U.S. military interpreters, the Iraqi said the was the military quartermaster for all of Baghdad. He was a brown shoes guy, a desk officer. He had been driving to work, minding his own business - and suddenly he was involved in a fender-bender with an American Bradley Fighting Vehicle. He told his interrogators that he had no idea American forces were in Baghdad. From what he had been hearing on government-controlled radio, American forces had been stopped cold below the Euphrates River, well south of the capital. He certainly never expected to see tanks in Baghdad. Every officer he knew was convinced the Americans were afraid to bring tanks into a city.
It was baffling. Senior Iraqi officers in the capitol seemed content to believe their own lies, that the war was going well and the Americans were bogged down south of the city. Even many ordinary civilians seemed unaware that there was a war going on. Despite the columns of black smoke from burning vehicles and the thunderous pounding of the tanks and the Bradleys, civilians in family sedans were coasting down the southbound lanes of Highway 8 and along the access roads, like it was just another Saturday morning in the suburbs. For all they knew from listening to government radio, the war was confined to the southern desert, where American forces were being routed. It was only the Fedayeen and Syrians, and unknown numbers of Special Republican Guards, who seemed to understand that American forces were invading the capital. And if these soldiers and fighters and militiamen were disorganized and poorly trained, they did not lack for determination or gall - and there seemed to be an endless supply of weapons and ammunition, and of gunmen eager to fight and die.
Chaos and carnage, as described in the book Thunder Run: The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad, picked up by yours truly at the exchange today. If there are fewer posts than normal here this weekend, it's because I'm turning pages.
Until CB's book comes out, this will do nicely.
Original post: 2004-08-28 03:23:08
guess i need to add this book to the order I placed at Amazon yesterday. thanks for the tip!Posted by Kathleen A at August 28, 2004 06:15 AM
If the brigade commander is taking out enemy with his nine millimeter, we're in serious trouble.Posted by Cannoneer No, 4 at August 28, 2004 01:06 PM
Amazing.Posted by Pat in NC at August 28, 2004 07:20 PM
I've read it. It's a great book. (Could use some maps though.)
These are the idiots that the Left and our media have fooled the general public into believing that they are winning the war.
Victory after Victory is blacked out in this propaganda hole.
To give some credit to the media, not all of them are leftwing propagandists. Many are just sensationalists who know what kind of stories win journalist awards and readership.
A story about the American victory in Ramadi doesnt compare to a story of a terrorist bombing of unarmed civilians in a restaurant.Posted by Freedom Now at April 9, 2008 06:41 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(5) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)