Battle Blog 20 - 26 June 2004

Other than Coalition air strikes in Fallujah on the suspected hideouts of Jordanian—born terrorist leader Abu Musab al—Zarqawi, the previous week in Iraq had been relatively quiet.  In fact, a Marine patrol entered Fallujah on June 14, without a shot being fired.  This past week, however, saw a series of insurgent attacks primarily against Iraqi police and government buildings concentrated in the Sunni Triangle and in the northern city of Mosul.

Most mainstream wire services report that the lion's share of the ground action is taking place in and around Baqouba, rather than Fallujah.  Here, all government buildings and key facilities have been retaken by Iraqi forces and a brigade of the US 1st Infantry Division.  In a fight that lasted all day, local Iraqi security forces bore the brunt of the casualties in the successful operation to restore order in Baqouba.  While loss of life is regrettable, it appears that Iraqi police and Civil Defense units are starting to show more courage and professionalism under the watchful eye of their Coalition trainers.

Since it is so important to put these attacks in the proper historical perspective, the Battle Blog will slightly bend its prohibition on use of major news services, in order to quote the US brigade commander in the Baqouba area.  According to The Ministry of Truth (a.k.a. The Washington Post) , Colonel Dana Pittard, Commander of the 3d Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division said, "If that was their attempt at a Tet Offensive, it was a yawner.'


Speaking of training Iraqi police and security forces, the Marines have begun this vital mission in the Camp Al Asad area with help from two international police advisors.  Marines prepare boys in blue for duty reports that the 7th Marines' Military Police (MP) detachment began training a group of 10 Iraqi policemen at the camp.  Just as important as training police officer skills, is the requirement to train the first class of police recruits to pass this knowledge on to other policemen.  Establishing the 'train the trainer' concept was so critical, that an additional week was added to the training course.  Most of the Marine MPs are reservists, and are police officers in their jobs back home, so they understand law enforcement in both the military and civilian environments.  According to Major Quinn Auten, Commander of the MP Detachment, "Almost all of us are officers in our regular lives.  It will really help bridge the gap between us.  We can look at them from an officer—to—officer standpoint."

The less glamorous side to military operations in a combat theater, but one of the most critical in any war is described in Driving big rigs on the frontline.  This is a gripping story by Pfc. Abel Trevino about the soldiers from the 3d Platoon, 660th Transportation Company, who drive the big rigs that provide the needed supplies to our forces in Iraq.  In the traditions of the Red Ball Express, the truckers must be prepared to deal with all manner of hazards including ambushes, roadside Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), and constant re—supply missions that offer little 'down time' for rest and refit.  The unit must not only deliver the goods, but must also provide their own protection, since there are no MP or combat arms units to help secure the supply routes.  The bond between the truckers is a strong one.  As Sgt. Jesse Starr said, 'We're a big family more or less, you don't want to go but you don't want your buddies out there without you.  When you're out there on the road, it's just you and your convoy.  That's all you can rely on.'

Once Coalition forces fanned out across Iraq, Americans became aware of the immense amount of ammunition and weapons that were stored at military sites around Iraq and in civilian neighborhoods in of many cities and towns.  Field Artillery Soldiers collect and destroy captured enemy ammunition relates how Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 33d Field Artillery, 1st Infantry Division, have the very hazardous duty of transporting captured enemy ammo and weapons to an ammo supply point in the vicinity of Bayji, Iraq.  Running continuously six days a week, the unit hauls 100,000 pounds of ammo daily, and has destroyed 1.5 million tons of ordnance since February.  Of course, the ammo and weapons are valuable commodities for the insurgents, so even in transit there is a risk of attack from an enemy desperate to obtain the means to continue their operations against the Coalition.  The Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Ken Boehme, noted that the Soldiers must also perform their normal artillery fire support duties in addition to destroying ammunition caches.  Lt. Col Boehme also said 'the battalion supports the community around the surrounding area by giving the people clean water, repairing their vehicles and the like.  In the process, Soldiers are winning the locals' trust, and the Iraqis have helped the troops locate weapons and ammunition.'

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, a successful Coalition action entitled Operation Blue Candle, conducted at the end of May, is just now coming to light.  Operation Blue Candle brings hope to Afghanistan  describes the Army's 2d Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment's (the 'Cacti Battalion') successful push against elements of the Taliban, Al—Qaeda, and other anti—Coalition fighters in the Mizan District of Afghanistan.  There was no direct confrontation with anti—Coalition forces, but the battalion's operations freed the Afghan people from constant harassment, by providing a security zone to stop 'fourteen days of violence, of fighting.'  Because of the Soldiers' efforts, 'Mizan now has a doctor, a school and a light at the end of the tunnel.'

Link to Battle Blog 13 June —19 June, 2004

Link to Battle Blog 6 June to 13 June, 2004

Link to Battle Blog 30 May — 5 June, 2004

Link to Battle Blog 23 — 29 May, 2004

Link to Battle Blog 16 — 22 May, 2004

Other than Coalition air strikes in Fallujah on the suspected hideouts of Jordanian—born terrorist leader Abu Musab al—Zarqawi, the previous week in Iraq had been relatively quiet.  In fact, a Marine patrol entered Fallujah on June 14, without a shot being fired.  This past week, however, saw a series of insurgent attacks primarily against Iraqi police and government buildings concentrated in the Sunni Triangle and in the northern city of Mosul.

Most mainstream wire services report that the lion's share of the ground action is taking place in and around Baqouba, rather than Fallujah.  Here, all government buildings and key facilities have been retaken by Iraqi forces and a brigade of the US 1st Infantry Division.  In a fight that lasted all day, local Iraqi security forces bore the brunt of the casualties in the successful operation to restore order in Baqouba.  While loss of life is regrettable, it appears that Iraqi police and Civil Defense units are starting to show more courage and professionalism under the watchful eye of their Coalition trainers.

Since it is so important to put these attacks in the proper historical perspective, the Battle Blog will slightly bend its prohibition on use of major news services, in order to quote the US brigade commander in the Baqouba area.  According to The Ministry of Truth (a.k.a. The Washington Post) , Colonel Dana Pittard, Commander of the 3d Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division said, "If that was their attempt at a Tet Offensive, it was a yawner.'


Speaking of training Iraqi police and security forces, the Marines have begun this vital mission in the Camp Al Asad area with help from two international police advisors.  Marines prepare boys in blue for duty reports that the 7th Marines' Military Police (MP) detachment began training a group of 10 Iraqi policemen at the camp.  Just as important as training police officer skills, is the requirement to train the first class of police recruits to pass this knowledge on to other policemen.  Establishing the 'train the trainer' concept was so critical, that an additional week was added to the training course.  Most of the Marine MPs are reservists, and are police officers in their jobs back home, so they understand law enforcement in both the military and civilian environments.  According to Major Quinn Auten, Commander of the MP Detachment, "Almost all of us are officers in our regular lives.  It will really help bridge the gap between us.  We can look at them from an officer—to—officer standpoint."

The less glamorous side to military operations in a combat theater, but one of the most critical in any war is described in Driving big rigs on the frontline.  This is a gripping story by Pfc. Abel Trevino about the soldiers from the 3d Platoon, 660th Transportation Company, who drive the big rigs that provide the needed supplies to our forces in Iraq.  In the traditions of the Red Ball Express, the truckers must be prepared to deal with all manner of hazards including ambushes, roadside Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), and constant re—supply missions that offer little 'down time' for rest and refit.  The unit must not only deliver the goods, but must also provide their own protection, since there are no MP or combat arms units to help secure the supply routes.  The bond between the truckers is a strong one.  As Sgt. Jesse Starr said, 'We're a big family more or less, you don't want to go but you don't want your buddies out there without you.  When you're out there on the road, it's just you and your convoy.  That's all you can rely on.'

Once Coalition forces fanned out across Iraq, Americans became aware of the immense amount of ammunition and weapons that were stored at military sites around Iraq and in civilian neighborhoods in of many cities and towns.  Field Artillery Soldiers collect and destroy captured enemy ammunition relates how Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 33d Field Artillery, 1st Infantry Division, have the very hazardous duty of transporting captured enemy ammo and weapons to an ammo supply point in the vicinity of Bayji, Iraq.  Running continuously six days a week, the unit hauls 100,000 pounds of ammo daily, and has destroyed 1.5 million tons of ordnance since February.  Of course, the ammo and weapons are valuable commodities for the insurgents, so even in transit there is a risk of attack from an enemy desperate to obtain the means to continue their operations against the Coalition.  The Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Ken Boehme, noted that the Soldiers must also perform their normal artillery fire support duties in addition to destroying ammunition caches.  Lt. Col Boehme also said 'the battalion supports the community around the surrounding area by giving the people clean water, repairing their vehicles and the like.  In the process, Soldiers are winning the locals' trust, and the Iraqis have helped the troops locate weapons and ammunition.'

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, a successful Coalition action entitled Operation Blue Candle, conducted at the end of May, is just now coming to light.  Operation Blue Candle brings hope to Afghanistan  describes the Army's 2d Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment's (the 'Cacti Battalion') successful push against elements of the Taliban, Al—Qaeda, and other anti—Coalition fighters in the Mizan District of Afghanistan.  There was no direct confrontation with anti—Coalition forces, but the battalion's operations freed the Afghan people from constant harassment, by providing a security zone to stop 'fourteen days of violence, of fighting.'  Because of the Soldiers' efforts, 'Mizan now has a doctor, a school and a light at the end of the tunnel.'

Link to Battle Blog 13 June —19 June, 2004

Link to Battle Blog 6 June to 13 June, 2004

Link to Battle Blog 30 May — 5 June, 2004

Link to Battle Blog 23 — 29 May, 2004

Link to Battle Blog 16 — 22 May, 2004