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Al Qaeda, Unless They Find a Way to Escape, are About to be Slaughtered

Via embedded milblogger Michael Yon, who is in the middle of the most intense combat operation of the war effort in Iraq to date: Operation Arrowhead Ripper: Day 1

The first day of operation Arrowhead Ripper was intense. The Army is giving full access to the battlefield, and while on base full access to the TOC (HQ) which means I see the raw truth on the ground, and as it feeds through the TOC. They are hiding nothing. Or if they are, it’s in plain view. (Special operations notwithstanding.) A reporter can see as much as he or she can stand.

Civilian casualties are occurring, despite much discretion being used on the firing. I saw three MLRS rockets hit targets downtown today (June 20) and more were fired. Watched the video feed from the TOC as some of them hit. The targeting was perfect. Our guys had cleared out the civilians, but the enemy starts shootouts using civilians as cover. American officers are trying to account for civilian casualties; media is asking and command is still unable to answer, which of course looks like a cover-up. From what I see on the ground, there is no cover-up. The number is unknown but certainly there must be some.

Michael Gordon is a NYT reporter who is in the battle. Gordon will be an important resource. The commanders take a break from fighting each day to have meetings with each other, and Iraqi officers, and he comes off the battlefield with one of the commanders to the briefings. I saw Gordon today, his shirt stained white from sweat. Gordon and I were at a commander briefing when one of the battalion commanders, LTC Smiley, talked about how his soldiers shot some terrorists today (June 20); on different occasions today, women and children came out and “gave aid” to the wounded terrorists. My guess is that the number of civilian casualties is not high. Gordon has been running with other soldiers, so it will be important to hear his accounts. From what I’ve read so far, Gordon has been very accurate and on target.

By the end of the first day (June 19), about 30 enemy had been killed, 1 U.S. killed and 5 WIA. At least two soldiers were heat casualties, including one who was with my group.

The combat has only just begun, and media has now figured out this is serious business. During the morning brief (June 20th), Major Robbie Parke mentioned that CNN, TIME, Reuters and some others, are trying to get out here now. Problem is space. Looks like Gordon and I are mostly alone for now. Others are said to be in Baqubah, but if they are here, they are missing some of the most important parts, and if they were at the important commander’s meetings, I would have seen them.

The heat is intense for the enemy and for us. Soldiers, during any chance, would lay-down during the heat of day, and in complete body armor and helmets, fall asleep in the dirt. I took photos of course. Our guys are tough. The enemy in Baqubah is as good as any in Iraq, and better than most. That’s saying a lot. But our guys have been systematically trapping them, and have foiled some big traps set for our guys. I don’t want to say much more about that, but our guys are seriously outsmarting them. Big fights are ahead and we will take serious losses probably, but al Qaeda, unless they find a way to escape, are about to be slaughtered. Nobody is dropping leaflets asking them to surrender. Our guys want to kill them, and that’s the plan.

A positive indicator on the 19th and the 20th is that most local people apparently are happy that al Qaeda is being trapped and killed. Civilians are pointing out IEDs and enemy fighters, so that’s not working so well for al Qaeda. Clearly, I cannot do a census, but that says something about the locals.

Much going on here in Baqubah. Unfortunately I have no assistant with me, and so no time for photos or video.

More soon.

Read it all and pass it on to all your friends, including the leftists. Do NOT allow the Left to lie about this operation and paint it as a failure and spin it incorrectly (I already have read some blogs from Leftists here on MySpace who are doing just that, including one who says she is a big supporter of the troops… uh huh). Get the FACTS out there about our success and progress. Direct them to Michael Yon’s website to keep up with the updates. And please donate anything you can to Mr. Yon so that he may continue his excellent dispatches from the battlefield and bring us the facts and perspective that the MSM, the Left and our politicians fail to do.

UPDATE 06/21/2007 at 11:50 EDT: You want to know much, much more, from the mouths of the soldiers, about what is going on in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere? Then be sure to read Mrs. Greyhawk’s DAWN PATROL, which is where I found the link to today’s Michael Yon post about Operation Arrowhead Ripper. And go back every day to read further updates. She does an absolutely amazing job rounding up commentary from milbloggers all over the military engaged in the war effort. She is a daily must-read.

June 21, 2007 , 4:03PM Posted by | Embed Bloggers, Iraq, Islam, Jihad, Michael Yon, Military, Muslims, Terrorism, US Army, US Marines, War Effort in Iraq | Comments Off on Al Qaeda, Unless They Find a Way to Escape, are About to be Slaughtered

Operation Arrowhead Ripper, the Offensive is Massive

I previously posted about the start of the surge-offensive/major combat operation in Iraq:

The Most Widespread Combat Operations Since the End of the Ground War are Now Unfolding

Major Combat Operations Now Underway in Iraq: Be Not Afraid

Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail has more details: The Battle of Baqubah II
Be sure to read it all and to make sure to click on all the links to get proper perspective and background. This looks to be the most intense, most dangerous and most deadly combat operations of the war effort to date. The terrorists are now experiencing the full wrath and power of the Coalition and Iraqi military forces.

Major offensive in al Qaeda’s so-called capital of the Islamic State of Iraq
The Diyala Campaign is underway. As part of major offensive operations throughout the belts regions of Baghdad, Iraqi and U.S. forces have launched a large scale operation in the city of Baqubah, the provincial capital of Diyala. Dubbed Operation Arrowhead Ripper, the offensive is massive. This is a division sized operation of “approximately 10,000 Soldiers, with a full complement of attack helicopters, close air support, Strykers and Bradley Fighting Vehicles.” Over 30 al Qaeda operatives have been killed since the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division kicked off the operation with a “quick-strike nighttime air assault.”

Elements of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, and the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, are operating in Baqubah, along with the 2nd Brigade of the 5th Iraqi Army Division. American forces are in the lead of the assault, with the Iraqi Army in support. The 2-5 Iraqi Army Brigade killed four al Qaeda after receiving sniper fire, and captured 2 others.

The New York Times, which incorrectly reported the operation as consisting of 2,000 U.S. troops, reported that the western portion of the city of Baqubah has been sealed off with ground and air units as troops pursue the 300 to 500 Qaeda believed to be operating in the area.

The 1920 Revolution Brigades, which turned on al Qaeda in Diyala and cleared the city of Buhriz with U.S. assistance, is actively working along side Iraqi Army units in Baqubah. “The Iraqi forces were joined by some members of the 1920s Revolutionary Brigade, a Sunni Arab group with units that have recently repudiated a longstanding alliance with Al Qaeda, and witnesses said the two groups were welcomed by the residents,” note the Times.
Back in May, we noted Diyala has become the main hub of al Qaeda’s operations. Al Qaeda in Iraq made Baqubah the capital of its rump Islamic State of Iraq last year. Since the inception of the Baghdad Security Plan in mid-February, the security situation, which was deteriorating after U.S. forces pulled back last fall, has markedly worsened. Al Qaeda has prepared fighting positions, supply bases, IED traps, bomb rigged buildings, and training camps in the province.

Over 2,000 hardened al Qaeda fighters fled Baghdad and are operating in Diyala. An American intelligence official and a U.S. military officer informed us that al Qaeda is operating along the lines of Hezbollah’s military structure in Lebanon. Al Qaeda attacks in the region proved this, as a series of assaults along the Iranian border and elsewhere in the province bore the hallmark of a well led, well trained fighting unit.
The fighting in Diyala will be hard. Al Qaeda is organized in small military units with infantry, mortars, anti-tank and anti-aircraft teams, as well as suicide and IED cells and the accompanying logistical nodes. Al Qaeda has been conducting a terror campaign to remove tribal leaders and others who oppose them, while waging a campaign of intimidation designed to cow the local population.

The Diyala Campaign has been a long time coming. The 10,000 U.S. troops and supporting Iraqi units won’t sit pat in Baqubah, but will reach out to strike at other al Qaeda bases in the troubled province. These areas include Khalis, Muqdadiyah and a host of small towns up and down the Diyala River Valley and along the Iranian border where al Qaeda has established bases, training camps and logistical nodes.

June 21, 2007 , 3:59PM Posted by | Embed Bloggers, Iraq, Islam, Jihad, Michael Yon, Military, Muslims, Terrorism, US Army, US Marines, War Effort in Iraq | Comments Off on Operation Arrowhead Ripper, the Offensive is Massive

The Most Widespread Combat Operations Since the End of the Ground War are Now Unfolding

I posted previously about the beginning of massive combat operations in Iraq today, as reported by Michael Yon, here: Major Combat Operations Now Underway in Iraq: Be Not Afraid.

I want to highlight the last part of the dispatch by Michael Yon (see below), because it hit me hard for some reason. I did not realize how desensitized to the war effort I had become until I read this last part and became overcome with emotion and worry and dread for our soldiers in Iraq. I sent out this note to my e-mail distribution list asking people to pray for our soldiers who are, to say the least, right now in harm’s way and undertaking possibly the most dangerous and intense combat operation of the war effort in Iraq:

I suggest everyone say prayers today for our soldiers who have gone into harms way. From what Mr. Yon describes, our military will experience many casualties as they are going into massive combat operations right now, and the enemy is well-prepared for them.

Semper Fi to the Marines and Godspeed to all our soldiers. May God watch over all of them in the dangerous times ahead…

A couple hours after sending this out, I received a short e-mail from Matt Burden at Blackfive directing me to his post he put up this morning: Prayer and Support for Our Troops

Many of you know that General Petraeus has announced the beginnings of combat operations in Iraq now that the surge forces are in place.

“Kinetic” doesn’t do justice to the description of what is now happening.

On Sunday, a friend of mine brought the chaplain to his area to speak to his men. There’s only one reason to “bring in” the chaplain. The @#$% is about to hit the @#$%ing fan and the leaders know it.

Here’s a note from another pal of mine in the middle of it:

Serious fight taking shape. City is surrounded. So far the plan seems to be going well. There is fighting within Baqubah. Casualties on both sides.

Matt lists some military charities to which to donate. Please go to his site and donate anything you can to the great organizations which help our men and women who sacrifice for us. Anything will help, even a dollar. Imagine… If every person in the country gave $1, these charities would have $300 Million each.

Matt adds:

Unfortunately, their help will be needed in the coming weeks and months.

A prayer for General Petraeus and our soldiers, beset by the enemy and our own oily politicians, wouldn’t hurt either.

Update: Speaking of prayers, Mike Yon has an update about his activities and how we got to this point in time in Iraq. Mike is sure to be in the middle of the fighting by now. He posts a prayer, but you should say one for him too (although, knowing him, he’d rather you direct those thoughts and prayers to the troops – send him one, anyway).

Keep them all in your prayers during this very important time in the war effort. Many, many people are in need of our prayers. There will be many casualties, including many deaths. Many families will lose their loved ones in the coming days and weeks. Many children will lose a parent. Many parents will lose a child. They all need our prayers and support to get through these trying times.

In case the intensity and seriousness of the situation going on right this minute has not hit you, take a few minutes to read this and let it sink in:

The doctor has made a decision: Al Qaeda must be excised. That means a large scale attack, and what appears to be the most widespread combat operations since the end of the ground war are now unfolding. A small part of that larger battle will be the Battle for Baquba. For those involved, it will be a very large battle, but in context, it will be only one of numerous similar battles now unfolding. Just as this sentence was written, we began dropping bombs south of Baghdad and our troops are in contact.

Northeast of Baghdad, innocent civilians are being asked to leave Baquba. More than 1,000 AQI fighters are there, with perhaps another thousand adjuncts. Baquba alone might be as intense as Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah in late 2004. They are ready for us. Giant bombs are buried in the roads. Snipers — real snipers — have chiseled holes in walls so that they can shoot not from roofs or windows, but from deep inside buildings, where we cannot see the flash or hear the shots. They will shoot for our faces and necks. Car bombs are already assembled. Suicide vests are prepared.

The enemy will try to herd us into their traps, and likely many of us will be killed before it ends. Already, they have been blowing up bridges, apparently to restrict our movements. Entire buildings are rigged with explosives. They have rockets, mortars, and bombs hidden in places they know we are likely to cross, or places we might seek cover. They will use human shields and force people to drive bombs at us. They will use cameras and make it look like we are ravaging the city and that they are defeating us. By the time you read this, we will be inside Baquba, and we will be killing them. No secrets are spilling here.

Our jets will drop bombs and we will use rockets. Helicopters will cover us, and medevac our wounded and killed. By the time you read this, our artillery will be firing, and our tanks moving in. And Humvees. And Strykers. And other vehicles. Our people will capture key terrain and cutoff escape routes. The idea this time is not to chase al Qaeda out, but to trap and kill them head-on, or in ambushes, or while they sleep. When they are wounded, they will be unable to go to hospitals without being captured, and so their wounds will fester and they will die painfully sometimes. It will be horrible for al Qaeda. Horror and terrorism is what they sow, and tonight they will reap their harvest. They will get no rest. They can only fight and die, or run and try to get away. Nobody is asking for surrender, but if they surrender, they will be taken.

We will go in on foot and fight from house to house if needed. We will shoot rockets into their hiding spaces, and our snipers will shoot them in their heads and chests. This is where all that talk of cancer and big ideas of what should be or could be done will smash head on against the searing reality of combat.

These words flow on the eve of a great battle, but are on hold until the attack is well underway. Nothing is certain. I am here and have been all year. We are in trouble, but we have a great General. The only one, I have long believed, who can lead the way out of this morass. Iraq is not hopeless. Iraq can stand again but first it must cast off these demons. And some of the demons must be killed.

And while the battle rages, that prayer card will be in my pocket:

Be Not Afraid

You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst. You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way. You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand. You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid.
I go before you always;
Come follow me, and I will give you rest.

June 21, 2007 , 3:35PM Posted by | Embed Bloggers, Iraq, Islam, Jihad, Michael Yon, Military, Muslims, Terrorism, US Army, US Marines, War Effort in Iraq | Comments Off on The Most Widespread Combat Operations Since the End of the Ground War are Now Unfolding

Major Combat Operations Now Underway in Iraq

Via Michael Yon: Be Not Afraid

Be Not Afraid You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst. You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way. You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand. You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid.
I go before you always;
Come follow me, and I will give you rest.

[From a prayer card I found on a base in Anbar Province, Iraq.]

Thoughts flow on the eve of a great battle. By the time these words are released, we will be in combat. Few ears have heard even rumors of this battle, and fewer still are the eyes that will see its full scope. Even now — the battle has already begun for some — practically no news about it is flowing home. I’ve known of the secret plans for about a month, but have remained silent.

This campaign is actually a series of carefully orchestrated battalion and brigade sized battles. Collectively, it is probably the largest battle since “major hostilities” ended more than four years ago. Even the media here on the ground do not seem to have sensed its scale.

Go read it all.

June 21, 2007 , 3:32PM Posted by | Embed Bloggers, Iraq, Islam, Jihad, Michael Yon, Military, Muslims, Terrorism, US Army, US Marines, War Effort in Iraq | Comments Off on Major Combat Operations Now Underway in Iraq

U.S. Troops Rescue Orphan Boys Left Starving, Chained To Beds

You will not see this highlighted on the evening news or the front pages of national newspapers or touted on liberal blogs. But this is the kind of nightmare of human rights violations in which the innocent Iraqis live and from which they are being rescued by Coalition soldiers. And this is what the Democrats and the media and worldwide Leftists want us to stop doing.

Via Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs: Iraqi Orphanage Nightmare

CBS News reports an appalling discovery at an orphanage in Iraq: Iraqi Orphanage Nightmare, Exclusive: U.S. Troops Discover And Rescue Orphan Boys Left Starving, Chained To Beds.

(CBS) It was a scene that shocked battle-hardened soldiers, captured in photographs obtained exclusively by CBS News.

On a daytime patrol in central Baghdad just over than a week ago, a U.S. military advisory team and Iraqi soldiers happened to look over a wall and found something horrific.

“They saw multiple bodies laying on the floor of the facility,” Staff Sgt. Mitchell Gibson of the 82nd Airborne Division told CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan. “They thought they were all dead, so they threw a basketball (to) try and get some attention, and actually one of the kids lifted up their head, tilted it over and just looked and then went back down. And they said, ‘oh, they’re alive’ and so they went into the building.”

Inside the building, a government-run orphanage for special needs children, the soldiers found more emaciated little bodies tied to the cribs. They had been kept this way for more than a month, according to the soldiers called in to rescue the 24 boys.

“I saw children that you could see literally every bone in their body that were so skinny, they had no energy to move whatsoever, no expression on their face,” Staff Sgt. Michael Beale said.

“The kids were tied up, naked, covered in their own waste — feces — and there were three people that were cooking themselves food, but nothing for the kids,” Lt. Stephen Duperre said.

Logan asked: So there were three people cooking their own food?

“They were in the kitchen, yes ma’am,” Duperre said.

With all these kids starving around them?

“Yes ma’am,” Duperre said.

June 21, 2007 , 11:45AM Posted by | Iraq, Islam, Jihad, Media Bias, Military, Muslims, Terrorism, US Army, US Marines, War Effort in Iraq | Comments Off on U.S. Troops Rescue Orphan Boys Left Starving, Chained To Beds