Battle Blog 1 - 7 August 2004

The big story in Iraq this past week is the resurgence of extremist Shiite cleric Muqtada al—Sadr's militia in Najaf.  Reports stated that during the initial fighting that broke out on August 5, a U.S. helicopter was shot down, however, the crew was successfully evacuated.  Also, one US soldier was killed and five others wounded in an ambush on a convoy outside the city.  Later, U.S. close air support aircraft bombed the cemetery where Sadr's men were hiding.  This is the same cemetery where a few months ago, the US 1st Armored Division fought a decisive battle resulting in the deaths of thousands of Shia militia members.  On August 6, when US forces engaged Sadr's men, the militants suffered about 300 killed in action, and an undetermined number of wounded.  Almost immediately, Sadr proclaimed a desire to return to the 'relative calm' of the truce that had been in effect since last June.

The UK also had problems with Shia extremists in Basra in southern Iraq, with two Mehdi Army members being killed in a 15—minute firefight with UK troops.  A spokesman for the militia, Sheikh Saad al—Basri, said his men would fight a jihad against "foreign troops" and any Iraqi security forces that supported Coalition forces.  Meanwhile, Shia gunmen also fought US troops of the US 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad's Sadr City area, wounding seven US troopers.

Given the obvious subterfuge on the part of Iran in regard to its nuclear weapons program, and the widespread coverage it has received (yes, even in the major press), it is entirely possible the mullahs are trying to take the focus off their flaunting of the Non—Proliferation Treaty by stirring up trouble via their thug in Najaf.  It's time Sadr went away; preferably, the Iraqis should handle this task.  Iraq and the Coalition should send a clear message to the mullahs in Tehran: hands off this fledgling democracy!

Almost universally ignored in the accounts of the fighting in Najaf is the prominent role Iraqi security forces played in the fighting.  An American Forces Press Service article, Iraqis Tired of Attacks, Want Stability, General Says  reports that Iraqis are tired of the terrorism, the killings, and bombings.  In an interview with Brig. Gen. Erv Lessel, deputy operations director for Multinational Force Iraq, we learn that these feelings are motivating Iraqis to take a greater role in their security.  The fighting in and around Najaf is a case in point.  What was not reported in major press accounts, was that Iraqi security forces called on US Marines only as a last resort.  Brig. Gen. Lessel said,

"Iraq's police force was able to fend off the attack without multinational force support.  With the help of the Iraqi National Guard, ...police were able later to fend off a second attack by more than 300 militia members.  It was only with the chance of a third attack that multinational forces were called in.  This is a great example of how the Iraqi security forces are becoming more capable, and able to defend themselves.'

Also not acknowledged in mainstream press reports is the slow but steady progress of the equipping and training of more Iraqi Army battalions to be deployed to the field, to enable Iraqis to protect the borders of their country.  A US CENTCOM press release reports on the training and graduation of the Iraqi Army's 7th Battalion.  The 723 members of the battalion will complete the first full brigade of the new Iraqi Army.  What was critical to the success of their training, was that they were trained solely by a cadre of 170 Iraqi officers and NCOs.  Marine Corps Lt. Col. Kevin Foster said,

"It validates that the training model produces a cohesive unit with well—trained soldiers that will only increase in capability over time.'

Another example of the increasing frequency of combined US—Iraqi operations is covered in Cobra Sweep cleans up Baghdad district.  Iraqi Police, Iraqi National Guard, and troopers from 2—8 Cavalry of the 1st Cavalry Division, conducted a sweep of the Hay Muthana district of Baghdad.  The Coalition and Iraqi forces were suspicious of the area since four IEDs were detonated in a nearby traffic circle in the last three weeks.  Even though no bomb—making materials were found, Capt. Steven Gventer said that the mission was a success from the coordination involved in a combined, synchronized cordon and search operation.  Capt. Gventer said,

'In addition to coordinating with the immediate IPs [Iraqi Police] and ING [Iraqi National Guard] Soldiers, we also had both an American and an Iraqi [explosive ordnance disposal] team standing by in case we found any explosives.'

It isn't everyday that a father gets promoted by having his son pin on his new rank in a combat zone, but that is exactly what happened at Camp Al Asad, Iraq recently.  Marine serves with, pins dad with CWO4 rank in war zone  describes how Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael R. King, assistant Wing embark officer, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) had his new rank pinned on by his son, who, incidentally, serves with his Dad in the same unit.  Lance Cpl. Jonathan R. King is a tactical network administrator also serving in the 3rd MAW.  This is a tremendous story about the father—son relationship, and how they became Marines serving together in a combat zone.  CWO4 King, formerly a Gunnery Sergeant, said,

'I think the word surreal is probably a good definition for how it feels to have my son pin on my rank, especially in a war zone.  This promotion will most likely be my last before I retire, so I'd have to say this is one of the more special things that has happened to me in my 22 years in the Marine Corps.'

The big story in Iraq this past week is the resurgence of extremist Shiite cleric Muqtada al—Sadr's militia in Najaf.  Reports stated that during the initial fighting that broke out on August 5, a U.S. helicopter was shot down, however, the crew was successfully evacuated.  Also, one US soldier was killed and five others wounded in an ambush on a convoy outside the city.  Later, U.S. close air support aircraft bombed the cemetery where Sadr's men were hiding.  This is the same cemetery where a few months ago, the US 1st Armored Division fought a decisive battle resulting in the deaths of thousands of Shia militia members.  On August 6, when US forces engaged Sadr's men, the militants suffered about 300 killed in action, and an undetermined number of wounded.  Almost immediately, Sadr proclaimed a desire to return to the 'relative calm' of the truce that had been in effect since last June.

The UK also had problems with Shia extremists in Basra in southern Iraq, with two Mehdi Army members being killed in a 15—minute firefight with UK troops.  A spokesman for the militia, Sheikh Saad al—Basri, said his men would fight a jihad against "foreign troops" and any Iraqi security forces that supported Coalition forces.  Meanwhile, Shia gunmen also fought US troops of the US 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad's Sadr City area, wounding seven US troopers.

Given the obvious subterfuge on the part of Iran in regard to its nuclear weapons program, and the widespread coverage it has received (yes, even in the major press), it is entirely possible the mullahs are trying to take the focus off their flaunting of the Non—Proliferation Treaty by stirring up trouble via their thug in Najaf.  It's time Sadr went away; preferably, the Iraqis should handle this task.  Iraq and the Coalition should send a clear message to the mullahs in Tehran: hands off this fledgling democracy!

Almost universally ignored in the accounts of the fighting in Najaf is the prominent role Iraqi security forces played in the fighting.  An American Forces Press Service article, Iraqis Tired of Attacks, Want Stability, General Says  reports that Iraqis are tired of the terrorism, the killings, and bombings.  In an interview with Brig. Gen. Erv Lessel, deputy operations director for Multinational Force Iraq, we learn that these feelings are motivating Iraqis to take a greater role in their security.  The fighting in and around Najaf is a case in point.  What was not reported in major press accounts, was that Iraqi security forces called on US Marines only as a last resort.  Brig. Gen. Lessel said,

"Iraq's police force was able to fend off the attack without multinational force support.  With the help of the Iraqi National Guard, ...police were able later to fend off a second attack by more than 300 militia members.  It was only with the chance of a third attack that multinational forces were called in.  This is a great example of how the Iraqi security forces are becoming more capable, and able to defend themselves.'

Also not acknowledged in mainstream press reports is the slow but steady progress of the equipping and training of more Iraqi Army battalions to be deployed to the field, to enable Iraqis to protect the borders of their country.  A US CENTCOM press release reports on the training and graduation of the Iraqi Army's 7th Battalion.  The 723 members of the battalion will complete the first full brigade of the new Iraqi Army.  What was critical to the success of their training, was that they were trained solely by a cadre of 170 Iraqi officers and NCOs.  Marine Corps Lt. Col. Kevin Foster said,

"It validates that the training model produces a cohesive unit with well—trained soldiers that will only increase in capability over time.'

Another example of the increasing frequency of combined US—Iraqi operations is covered in Cobra Sweep cleans up Baghdad district.  Iraqi Police, Iraqi National Guard, and troopers from 2—8 Cavalry of the 1st Cavalry Division, conducted a sweep of the Hay Muthana district of Baghdad.  The Coalition and Iraqi forces were suspicious of the area since four IEDs were detonated in a nearby traffic circle in the last three weeks.  Even though no bomb—making materials were found, Capt. Steven Gventer said that the mission was a success from the coordination involved in a combined, synchronized cordon and search operation.  Capt. Gventer said,

'In addition to coordinating with the immediate IPs [Iraqi Police] and ING [Iraqi National Guard] Soldiers, we also had both an American and an Iraqi [explosive ordnance disposal] team standing by in case we found any explosives.'

It isn't everyday that a father gets promoted by having his son pin on his new rank in a combat zone, but that is exactly what happened at Camp Al Asad, Iraq recently.  Marine serves with, pins dad with CWO4 rank in war zone  describes how Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael R. King, assistant Wing embark officer, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) had his new rank pinned on by his son, who, incidentally, serves with his Dad in the same unit.  Lance Cpl. Jonathan R. King is a tactical network administrator also serving in the 3rd MAW.  This is a tremendous story about the father—son relationship, and how they became Marines serving together in a combat zone.  CWO4 King, formerly a Gunnery Sergeant, said,

'I think the word surreal is probably a good definition for how it feels to have my son pin on my rank, especially in a war zone.  This promotion will most likely be my last before I retire, so I'd have to say this is one of the more special things that has happened to me in my 22 years in the Marine Corps.'