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Instead of one from the front today, here's a bunch. See if you notice a trend.
All hell seemed to have broken loose yesterday. There were many fire fights and attacks going on all throughout the day. Some of our guys got stuck out for almost 24 hours straight. A car bomb went off taking out one of the armored vehicles. They had mass casualties, but only one that had to be flown out. It's a little surprising the news hasn't covered this at all. Plus a bomb killed some innocent bystanders. Some of the guys were pissed off that they weren't out on the patrols out there because they wanted to get in on the action.Minneapolis Star Tribune Staff writer Mark Brunswick blogs from Taji, Iraq, 3 Apr
The camp was hit with four mortar shells yesterday. No one was hurt and there was no significant damage. We spent 40 minutes in a concrete bunker waiting for the signal that everything was clear.Dave's Not Here, Baghdad, 3 Apr
Following attacks of any kind rumors abound.Boots in Baghdad 3 Apr
Last night, between about 7 pm and 8 pm there were thumping sounds every few seconds. The sound seemed to be coming from either the checkpoint, or from the logbase. I'm not sure which, and I don't really care to become more precise about OPSEC matters anyway.
What does matter though is that there was a sustained firefight around the area of the attacks and that, to quote the SGM, "every [insurgent] we saw, we killed."
More importantly though, and more media worthy, was the attack against Abu Ghraib Prison. I have fellow friends out there, working for my company.
Sorry it has been a little while since the last entry. It has been a busy week. We spent several days in the field doing dismounted missions and did a mounted mission yesterday morning. I had just gotten back from dinner last night and was looking forward to a nice relaxing evening. I was getting ready to take a shower and was planning on a good night of solid sleep when my team leader busted in my room and screamed, ?GET YOUR GEAR AND GET TO THE COMPANY TOC, ABU GRAIB IS UNDER ATTACK!?
An anniversary went almost unnoticed this past week. This time last year four contractors were murdered, their bodies then mutilated and hung on a bridge in Fallujah. An odd coincidence that a spate of attacks occurs in Iraq almost a year to the day? Perhaps.
But by comparison, this year's events drew little notice, with the exception of the Abu Ghraib attack. Here's the official CENTCOM news release detailing events at Abu Ghraib last weekend:
BAGHDAD, Iraq ? Soldiers and Marines successfully repelled a well-coordinated attack by 40-60 terrorists on Forward Operating Base Abu Ghraib April 2 at about 7 p.m. Abu Ghraib is a detention facility for 3,400 detainees as well as an Iraqi-run prison.
In an attempt to gain access to the prison, terrorists launched a simultaneous attack in multiple locations using indirect fires, rocket-propelled grenade fire, small arms fire and a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. Just as the sun was setting, indirect fire from 81 mm and 120 mm mortars began impacting the operating base. This was followed by multiple RPG attacks and a large volume of small arms fire focused on two guard towers, one on the northwestern and the other on the southeastern corner on the operating base. Using the cover of the mortar fire and the intense fire on the guard towers, the terrorists launched a VBIED to penetrate the perimeter wall near the southeastern guard tower. Marines defending the base returned fire and the VBIED exploded before it reached the perimeter. Marines in the tower were forced to evacuate but were quickly reinforced by a quick reaction force.
The terrorists, using residential areas for cover and concealment, then conducted a ground assault towards the southeastern tower. With reinforcements from the quick reaction force, Marines and Soldiers halted the advance of the terrorists. Additionally, Apache helicopters and artillery fire began to engage the remnants of the attackers. The terrorists were forced to withdraw after suffering an estimated 50 casualties. The attack was over by 9 p.m.
US forces sustained seven wounded who were evacuated to a combat support hospital and sixteen minor injuries from shrapnel who have been returned to duty.
Additionally, thirteen detainees were also wounded from indirect fire, and all detainees remained accounted for.
Early press reports had the number of American wounded at more than 40, but as noted above only seven were serious enough to require evacuation. And as was noted on the Boots in Baghdad blog, the attack was repelled without need for reinforcements. Still, it was an event of some significance - certainly a reminder that the war isn't over, and if looked at in light of other attacks throughout the country at the time perhaps cause for more concern.
I survived a "vacation" in Baghdad. Looking back it seems foolish to have ever anticipated any other outcome of my tour of duty there. Of course I survived. I wasn't in combat, after all. And ignoring the rockets that flew overhead from time to time to detonate a few hundred yards away and the British C130 that may or may not have been shot down on the day I was supposed to have flown out I was never in great danger.
But that's true only in hindsight. And while there I couldn't help but realize I was playing Rocket Bingo. Some days the tension was higher than others. The weeks leading up to the US elections saw a gradual increase of pucker factor; each day without something big going boom left a certainty that the big day was just around the corner. Having successfully castrated Spain on the eve of elections in that country it seemed plausible that terrorists would want to try the same with the US. (And they had the largest collection of weapons in the world to do it with.)
When election day came and went with little violence the conventional wisdom was that they were 'saving it up' for special days later in Ramadan. That month was forever long, with some days known to be better than others for glorious death by Jihad. We could only shrug and wonder when those days passed with minimal and ineffective violence. The month passed. Just prior to Christmas a suicide bomber struck a DFAC at Mosul. The terrorists earned media praise for a new level of cunning. Wild claims of terrorist manpower numbering in the hundreds of thousands were trumpeted in the New Year as the Iraqi elections approached. Tet was on everyone's mind - but the best the enemy could do was a series of car bombs that detonated without ever reaching their targets.
Given the numbers of terrorists that were supposedly operating in Iraq, I was surprised each and every day that a thousand or so didn't rush the walls of my happy home, just to create a news story. Obviously the numbers were inflated, but I could think of only two explanations for that. One - the opposition was never the force that the media made it out to be, or two - we had utterly crushed the insurgency, something I thought possible last October but confess I left as a question for fear of a jinx.
What was increasingly obvious was that the reality of Iraq was significantly different from the picture presented to Americans at home. Sure, insurgents can lob mortars over walls, or detonate truck bombs, or assassinate election officials, judges, and others - but where were the thousands wanting death to the point they'd charge the walls of the infidel strongholds? Every passing day it seemed less likely that such a force existed.
Fast forward to the present, and in the story above we see a pale hint of what I always thought was likely, the attack on the walls. But once again the attackers are destroyed, repulsed, routed - their mighty truck bomb detonated short of it's target, their rockets and small arms fire largely ineffective, their mission a failure. But this time they even lack something else: their cheerleaders have melted away. There's apparently no one left in Iraq to report on what an amazingly sophisticated and coordinated assault was launched nationwide this past weekend. No one to declare the insurgents 'increasingly bold'.
Was that Tet? Was that all the bad guys could bring? Is something bigger coming in the near future?
Are we seeing the result of the influx of French teenagers into the Al Qaeda cells? Are the Sunnis ready to pack it in?
We're not just about photography, after all. Whatever comes next, it's good to know the MilBloggers will be there ready for it.
With pen and sword.
This time last year, April 8th 2004 IIRC, was the day that all hell broke loose acros big chunks of Iraq, with insurgents from all factions coming out to raise hell. Sunni's forces in just north of BIAP ambushed a fuels convoy, and insurgents tried to storm the walls of BIAP as well. Sadr's Mahdi Militia tried to partition Sadr City into it's own little Shia enclave, and a larger force Mahdi's Army moved into action from Kut to Najaf to Karbala. Instead of heading south to Kuwait and home, 1st AD along with 2 ACR was extended for 90 days more to deal with that threat among others. This week should be pretty lively, and don't forget, Spc. "Matt" Maupin has been in captivity for almost one year, if he is still alive.Posted by Sfc Ski at April 6, 2005 08:37 PM
Hhhhmmmm...Maybe my history is a little clouded, since I was only in senior high school in 68, and living on an island in the western pacific, where there were lots of Navy, Marine, Coast Guard and Air Force personnel (and the B-52s) but....
This is nothing more than a larger scale attack, and in all fact, a suicide one at that. I guess these guys forgot the ruin brought on them in Fallujah (ah, how soon we forget!)
Tet was a country wide, coordinated assault, in a combined arms (as much as could be given the NVA had essentailly no air force to speak of, and only patrol gun/torpedo boats) manner, supported by the uniformed ground forces of a separate county.
Had the Iranian, or Syrian armed forces, joined in (and, oh, btw, let the "insurgents" take the burnt of the attack, so as not to be living trouble makers later on), then we'd have a Tet like deal.
In the mean time, just more martyrs, not more political pull.
On the other, in a non-military aspect, if the MSM starts howling how we are losing and how could they have attacked in the middle of Baghdad sort of lines, and then repeat them over and over, unitl the "opinion polls" ask "are we losing?" then we may have that attribute of the Tet experience.
We soundly routed/demolished/destroyed major units of the Viet Cong and NVA during Tet, but the press convinced the people that we lost because a few guys got into the US Embassy grounds (and we immediately dispatched them to the beyond).
It should be fun in the next few days to see what might "rather" be said about all this.Posted by Curt at April 6, 2005 08:39 PM
This is definitely the Jihadi Version of the Tet Offensive. The Jihadi's must have skipped the parts of Ho Chi Minh's book where Ho Chi Minh's "Human Waves" suffered 35,000 dead and another 60,000 wounded.Posted by Soldier's Dad at April 6, 2005 09:45 PM
Why the ambiguousness about enemy casualties? Normally there has been a much more exact count. Did the enemy get their dead and wounded off? With Apaches roaming overhead? Something about this story has always sat strange with me.Posted by Mark Buehner at April 6, 2005 10:12 PM
Perhaps most interesting is the fact that these attacks have been uniformly unsuccessful. I don't just mean that they haven't captured any objectives -- Sadr's forces, a year ago, managed to hold several cities for a while -- but that they haven't managed even to hurt many people:
They had mass casualties, but only one that had to be flown out.An all out attack, using VBIEDs, that produces only seven serious enemy casualties and no fatalities has to be regarded as a failure. If you suffer something like 100% casualties yourself, it's an abysmal failure. The report estimates 50 casualties came out of 40-60 fighters; even assuming wild overcounting, a crippling rate of 75-80% casualties would surely be the floor. As in these other attacks, you're seeing rockets, rifles, bombs, whatever being fielded almost without effect. It's like the old Soviet "golden BB" defense, where you just throw up as much fire as you can and sometimes get lucky.
No one was hurt and there was no significant damage.
I'm just thankful that no American Servicemen or prisoners were killed in the action.
A big bomb that takes out an armored vehicle is a success of a sort, but if it only resulted in one severe casualty and no fatalities, it's not much of a victory. The US can build another armored vehicle for every one blown up. It's our soldiers we care about -- every one is, in his way, irreplacable.
My suspicion is that the insurgency is dealing with hastily trained recruits at this point, many of the hardened fighters having gone into the earth. Obviously some of the top guys are still around to plan these things -- the attacks are well planned and reasonably coordinated. But there don't seem to be talented enemy fighters on the line. And they're not surviving the encounters in sufficient numbers to become veteran units.
US forces have the benefit of training; they have the benefit of a vastly higher survival rate, so that the soldier becomes a veteran; they have the benefit of being able to rotate home, to rest and consider as a unit what lessons are learned. At this point, we can rotate Iraqi war veteran forces in even as we rotate the others out.
The war isn't over, as Hawk says. However, the enemy currently in the field is not the threat it once was. I don't see any trends that suggest it's going to improve. Our forces, by contrast, continue to get better.Posted by Grim at April 6, 2005 10:17 PM
Tactically the attack was a failure.
This attacl isn't even hitting the mainstream media to any large degree. There's other, "more important" news, to thank for that. And since no U.S. soldiers were killed, it is a non-event to the MSM.
So politically, the attack was a failure.
Even as a recruiting tool, I don't see how this is anything but a failure as well. For all the grand claims al Queda made about the attack, none are proving true (except that an attack took place.)
There was a good op-ed on National Review Online today about this.
As Austin Bay opined, the attack in Abu Ghraib could just about only have been for publicity purposes only, 'freedom fighters,' 'Abu Ghraib,' etc. Instead, they got nothing. I think they're starting to get a little desparate for some airtime, what with being squeezed out of the 5 o'clock news by the whole election thing.
Look for them to try something real kooky/scary (but sloppily) in order to regain the headlines.
Iraq may have been a training ground for terrorist that spread to the other parts of the world, but if they can't pull out some kind of moral victory in Iraq; and it increasingly looks like they won't, Al Queda is going to have some serious street cred problems. They might have to go for some softer targets, like France.Posted by AnotherScott at April 6, 2005 10:53 PM
There's a great article about the Balad Ruz firefight at http://www.timesfreepress.com/iwwl/pitts040605.htmlPosted by Marlin Kluvers at April 6, 2005 11:27 PM
At the risk of quibbling, I must say that the day of the attack in Sadr City was April 4th, not the 8th.Posted by Filecloser at April 7, 2005 04:28 AM
Their Tet Offensive was last spring with the Fallujah uprising and the Sadr militia. It came close to having an effect on morale, especially here at home when we diverted our efforts from Fallujah to Najef and Sadr City and the rest of that neck of the woods.
I suspect it would have had a larger effect on morale here had it not been for the Milbloggers on the ground explaining why getting the renegade Shi'ites under control had to come before we had the luxury of stacking up piles of bodies in Fallujah. Revenge, while sweet has to take a back seat to long term strategy.
What is going on now looks like the last ditch efforts of those with nowhere to go. Ordinary Iraqis are getting the confidence to turn these clowns in, most of the surviving insurgents have enough blood on their hands so as to not have great faith in any amnesty. The foreign insurgents have no place to go except maybe Iran. The Saudis are actually fighting them, Jordan sure doesn't want them after that attempt to gas downtown Amman, the Democracy Babes would open a can of whoopass on 'em if they try Lebanon and the Syrians are diving under the table every time a car backfires thinking it's the first of many JDAMs.
They're screwed. All they can do is try to take somebody with them as they go. The tragic thing is that some will succeed.
"sixteen minor injuries from shrapnel who have been returned to duty"
I can see why you were worried about the November election, back in 'Nam John Kerry got a Purple Heart for his fiction writing while there was real fighting going on! But most of that fighting was done by 19-20 year olds, including some who were shake-and-bakes. Some things never change, still not too many Ivy Leaguers doing the fighting.Posted by Machias Privateer at April 7, 2005 11:13 AM
Well, I am only going by memory, but I know that on April 4th, things were pretty calm and we were getting ready to leave Baghdad, and on April 8th big pillars of smoke were rising into the sky from burning fuel tankers, Sadr supporters in black and green were running all over the place, and unidentified Iraqis were coming over the wall at BIAP, and by April 9th we knew we were not leaving.
I guess I will have to wait for the book to come out.Posted by Sfc Ski at April 7, 2005 12:31 PM
The latest attacks seem to be 'well coordinated' by terrorist standards insofar as they manage to field a respectable amount of men and weapons to create a real threat. But they are badly executed, very badly. I think we are seeing the results of Fallujah. It seems to me that while the big fish organizers managed to escape the net, the cream of the insurgency's experienced fighters was wiped out. I would say that what we would call their veteran NCOs have by and large been taken out, leaving a reasonably effective braintrust to rely on raw jihadis that immediately get their heads blown off without effective battlefield leadership. This is very good news. If we killed off the bulk of the veteran Chechans and Hezbullah grunts who were stiffening the rest, we may actually have produced a more effective result than nabbing Zarqawi and his ilk.Posted by Mark Buehner at April 7, 2005 04:44 PM
I think the attack on Abu Graib is interesting from a strategic viewpoint. Has anyone asked, "Why?"
There are 3,600 detainees in Abu Graib according to the above post, not to mention other Iraqi prisoners. Maybe... just maybe... we have someone inside whom the terrorists want released. Maybe we have one or more experienced terrorist commanders. Maybe we have someone even higher up whom, if we only knew who we had, could really spill the beans.
Remember, we HAD captured Zarquawi at one point, held him for a bit, and let him go. Maybe we have him, or someone almost as high, at Abu Graib. Maybe we KNOW we have him, and the terrorist higher-ups do too... but we don't tell because we want to extract as much intel as we can and crush the remaining cells, and they don't tell because they don't want to face the crushing morale disaster that acknowledging his capture would be.
It wouldn't surprise me if Zarquawi was killed in the next couple of weeks, and it wouldn't surprise me if he was 'killed' either.Posted by JohnClif at April 7, 2005 06:29 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(14) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)