September 6, 2006
Winning The Battle For BaghdadBy John B. Dwyer
On August 20 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, acting on a tip, conducted a raid that freed a kidnap victim being held in Baghdad's Adhamiya district. In the house where the victim was held soldiers found 2 rocket—propelled grenades (RPGs), 20 RPG rounds, an AK—47 rifle, 2 sniper rifles and 12 hand grenades. Two suspected terrorists were detained.
Also on August 20, Iraqi Army forces conducted multiple, simultaneous, precision raids on three objectives in Baghdad's Al Rasheed district, capturing two key insurgent leaders during ongoing Operation Forward Together missions. The captured personnel controlled death squads operating in the Dura, Al Sahha and Abu D'Shair districts of Baghdad. Four others were detained during the raid.
On August 22 Iraqi army and coalition forces discovered and destroyed seven IEDs in and around Baghdad. The deadly IEDs, consisting variously of 120, 122 and 152 millimeter rounds, were found south and north of the city by soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry, 8th Squadron, 10th Cavalry, 1st Battalion, 66th Armor and 2nd Brigade Combat team, 101st Airborne Division and Iraqi army units. In all cases EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) teams were called in to destroy the terrorist munitions.
An August 27 raid, targeting an Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist leader associate resulted in one terrorist killed and two detained.
During two raids on August 28 searching for a known Al Qaeda in Iraq leader, one terrorist was killed and 4 detained in southwest Baghdad.
Both the 27 and 28 August raids here were conducted in populated areas where terrorists hoped to induce civilian casualties. There were none in either operation (see date specific Multi—National Force Iraq press releases here).
I begin with this snapshot of one element of the ongoing Operation Forward Together in Baghdad to supply context for the more recent Big News announced by Iraq's national security adviser Dr. Mowaffak al—Rubaie: that Al Qaeda in Iraq's No. 2 man, Hamed Jumaa Farid al—Saeedi, has been captured. In a nationally televised statement, al—Rubaie said that al—Saeedi was the
Al—Saeedi's chief mission in Iraq was to promote sectarian violence. Al—Rubaie stated that he
Since his capture, al—Saeedi has provided interrogators information that led to the death or detainment of 11 top Al Qaeda in Iraq personnel. It will be recalled that locating and killing Zarqawi was the result of piecing together the intelligence mosaic through tireless, ongoing efforts by various personnel and agencies. Since his death, that same process has allowed Iraqi and coalition forces to continue to attack and degrade the effectiveness of Al Qaeda in Iraq.
If Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, then Baghdad is its main battleground. As I wrote here earlier,
A recent report titled 'Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq' was trumpeted gleefully by the MSM because it stated there has been a 51% increase in civilian casualties over the past 3 months. Well then, we must be losing? Not at all.
In his most recent press conference Multi—National Force Iraq spokesman Maj. Gen. Bill Caldwell talked about what's been done in Baghdad over the past month in Operation Forward Together:
Discussing operational methods, MG Caldwell explained:
Once protection is assured, Iraqi and coalition forces move on, leaving area security to the Iraqi National Police, of which there are now 27 battalions. How well they do is assessed on a continuing basis. MG Caldwell continued,
MG Caldwell provided a series of statistics:
The MNF—Iraq spokesman reminded everybody that context is an important factor when judging Iraqi army and police forces. They
Yet, he stressed, Iraqi citizens are showing increased confidence in the reliability of their army and police forces.
MG Caldwell noted that Operation Forward Together is concentrating on a handful of baladiyats, such as Dura, Mansour and Kadhimiya. Commenting on the nature of enemy attacks, he said:
In his September 1 briefing, Colonel Thomas Vail, whose 4th Brigade, 101st Airborne is responsible for the east Baghdad area, cited progress in the Adhamiya sector where, before Operation Forward Together, there were 11 crimes per day. That number has been reduced to 6 per day. Six of the top 10 most wanted terrorists have been captured. Tips from citizens are increasing. When a tip is received, units from the 34 ISF battalions in the sector, backed by coalition forces, can respond quickly.
As important as these security efforts, perhaps more so in the long run, are the ongoing efforts at improving basic services and cleaning up neighborhoods. In each one, a specific Iraqi police unit and U.S. company is assigned to cement relations and strengthen confidence. Emphasis is on the Iraqi police who patrol the neighborhood. Coalition forces units meet regularly with local leaders in Neighborhood Advisory Councils to discuss what they need most in terms of water, electricity and sewage, etc. so the relevant agencies can focus on improving them. Actions we take for granted such as trash removal are provided so Iraqis can be proud of a clean neighborhood.
While the Iraq security and stability report cited above noted the civilian casualty percentage and some other sobering statistics, it also provided other positive information which the MSM did not tell you about for obvious reasons.
The only way the Battle for Baghdad, that Iraq, can be lost is if we Americans wimp out and surrender to the 24/7 drumbeat of negative news, the Cassandra chorus of commentators and the cut & run crowd. That way lies defeat, disgrace and disaster.
We are Americans, whose ancestors saw their way through bloodier wars and tougher times than these. We are Americans, whose sons and daughters, families, friends and relatives are fighting, being wounded and dying in this 21st century war for liberty, freedom and our very way of life. Are we going to act the cowards and render their sacrifices to have been in vain?
We are Americans. Are we going to allow our national will to be eroded and crushed; allow Iraq to be left to the tender mercies of Islamofascists? A great and terrible danger lies down that path. As President Bush reminded us in his August 21 speech,
John B. Dwyer is a military historian.