Making Strides in Baqubah

June 25, 2007

It sounds like Operation Arrowhead Ripper in Diyala province, which began early Tuesday, June 19th is so far seeing success. The US casualty count in this operation has remained low, while a large number of terrorists have been killed and/or detained. Hopefully, as this Operation continues, Diyala province will once again become a safe place for it’s citizens.

Photo taken June 19th Baquba, Iraq, by Army SSG Antonieta Rico

When they first entered the western part of Baqubah for the first time on Thursday, troops with the Iraqi Ary had considerable doubt. They had heard that the western part of the city was the worse and that everyone there, including the women and children were allied with the terrorists. They were surprised at the reception they got.

“Honestly, I thought this operation would never be successful because I had information that al-Qaeda had big guns and RPG’s (rocket propelled grenades)” said Iraqi Army commander Lt. Qusai. “We thoughts that all the people here are terrorists and everyone is bad, even the women and children.”

The reception they got surprised them, as many of the Sunni Arabs in that part of the city, welcomed them and their US counterparts. One man graciously offered them glasses of water that he brought out on a tray, a woman happily wept at the sight of them. The patrols were a step towards ridding Baqubah of al-Qaeda operatives, who have been terrorizing the citizens. The insurgents had declared Baqubah as the capital of their shadow government, which they called the Islamic State of Iraq.

“It was the worse part of the city,” said Lt. Qusai. “But I found … that not all the people here are bad.”

It’s imperative that the Iraqi forces are able to control the streets of Baqubah. Baqubah lies between Baghdad and the border with Iraq, in Diyala province. Last summer, Iraqi forces had been given the responsibility for security in Diyala province, only to see security break down. That began to slowly change in October, when 1st Cavalry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team arrived in Iraq, whose commander Col. David Sutherland, declared that al-Qaeda forces would be routed from the province. It’s imperative that once Baqubah is cleared of al-Qaeda operatives, that Iraqi security forces are able to maintain security in the city.

“They will be the forcese that retain, hold and secure the neighborhoods, after US troops have swept through,” said Army Brigadere General Mick Bednarek, deputy commanding officer for operations in northern Iraq.

As a means to that end, training was stepped up for Iraqi fordces, last year. Once US reinforcements arrivevd in mid-March from Baghdad, they began to systematically pursue the insurgents, starting one neighborhood at a time and setting up permanent security outposts in those neighborhoods. According to US Commanders, 2 of the neighborhoods in eastern Baqubah have been largely pacified.

According to US Commanders, the Iraqi army Soldiers who deployed to western Baqubah are much more professional than those in the past. They are dressed in full uniform and body armor. They’re more disciplined and focused, than in the past. The Iraqi forces have been sent into areas that were previously cleared by US troops, in an attempt to gain further information.

“We are shoulder to shoulder with Iraqi Security Forces in this fight,” said Brig. General Mick Bednarek. “Specifically the 5th Iraqi Army Division led by Major Gen. Saleen Ali alotbel, along with the provincial director of police.”

The weeks ahead are crucial, not only to show the citizens of Baqubah that the Iraqi Security Forces can be trusted and are there to help them, but also to maintain control over the city, making it a safer place for the citizens of Diyala. So far, as Operation Arrowhead Ripper continues into it’s 7th day, Iraqi and American forces are beginning to root out al0Qaeda and to safely neutralize their traps, such as explosive rigged schools, abandoned buildings, and cars. The citizens are cooperating more and more and are learning that the Iraqi forces can be trusted to help them.

“They weren’t a ragtag bunch,” said Captain Matthew James. “We just want to introduce them to the neighborhood and maybe pick up some human intel.”

James shared that he was impressed with the Iraqi troops and their ability to pick up on details. They’ve been able to gather information which has led to the discovery of several weapons caches. On the first day, they also made three arrests. The Iraqi Army is stepping up in other areas as well, taking responsibility for supplying food and water to their troops, instead of relying on US transportation. James said that the troops showed much enthusiasm for patrolling alongside American troops. US forces allowed the Iraqi’s to take the lead. One instance James cited, was when residents had pointed out vehicles that had been used by insurgents. The Iraqi forces wanted to burn the vehicles. US forces allowed them to do so, sending a message to the citizens of the area that the Iraqi Security forces are in charge.

LA Times


So far, since the beginning of Operation Arrowhead Ripper, coalition forces have taken few casualties, while killing at least 51 al-Qaeda operatives and more than 20 detained. 7 weapon caches have been discovered, 21 IED’s destroyed and 9 booby-trapped buildings have been destroyed. I’ll try to update as more news comes in about the progress of Operation Arrowhead Ripper.


10 Responses to “Making Strides in Baqubah”

  1. University Update - Iraq - Making Strides in Baqubah on June 25th, 2007 1:47 pm

    [...] Korea Link to Article iraq Making Strides in Baqubah » Posted at A Soldier’s Mind on Monday, June [...]

  2. Phil Cote on June 25th, 2007 5:19 pm

    I respect the fact that the troops are doing the best that they can do…but it is one step forward, one back every
    day. The military news is about as reliable as the MSM….There is no way to win this…How do you still support this after today’s action:

    These are the facts, no bias…..You are working against a population that does not want to step up and fight….I work every day making sure that all those around me know that the only option is to leave Iraq, bring our troops home to their love ones…..Respectfully, Phil

  3. Terri on June 25th, 2007 5:43 pm

    And the people who do those types of things are associates of the same people our troops are arresting and killing every day. The more sensational things they do, the more they know that the media and those screaming to bring our troops home will holler. That’s exactly what they want. I shudder to think what would happen there, as well as here, if we just suddenly jerked our troops out.

    Sure, in a perfect world, it sounds great, but unfortunately this isn’t a perfect world and our Troops have a job that they must finish.

  4. VTSharon on June 25th, 2007 6:14 pm

    Just look at the success we are having in Afghanistan, which is a relative cakewalk to the difficulties we face in Iraq.

    Bring em home.

  5. Terri on June 25th, 2007 6:37 pm

    I can’t believe you even read that rag… on second thought, yeah I can. Enuff said.

  6. SealPatriot on June 25th, 2007 7:36 pm

    Phil- CNN is a huge part of the MSM, and whatever they post isn’t more reliable than military news. Both aren’t reliable, personally I don’t think I can trust anybody when they say something is the truth because even if what they are saying isn’t a lie, it’s definately less than half the story.

    At the same time, since when is hardship a reason to quit fighting a war? The last time we quit just because the going got rough, it didn’t really turn out any better given that Vietnam isn’t exactly a country you would call in perfect shape. Besides, how do you call a war hard when our troops spend most of the time waiting for something to happen? Don’t get me wrong, there are some nasty stuff that happen there and some brave things that troops do everyday, but Iraq isn’t exactly a John Wayne movie, and it is pretty rare to find action there because the cities that you keep hearing about in the news that talks about bombings and civil unrest doesn’t make up much of the country.

  7. SealPatriot on June 26th, 2007 10:05 am

    Seriously, the bring them home now slogan is getting really old. It’s hard for anybody with a fully functioning brain to accept that as your version of supporting the troops because your not supporting every effort they make to turn a beleagured country around. They have to allowed to do whatever it takes to finish the job and you have to be willing to cooperate with that. That’s how you support the troops. So please, knock the pseudo-support, it’s getting old (like Ted Kennedy).

  8. Phil Cote on June 26th, 2007 5:32 pm

    And after 5 years and 3500 deaths the “success takes time story” is really old. The “they will follow us home” is equally home….we are not buying it, so respectfully, time to come home and I suspect sooner then what you may want to believe…the big mo is there, thankfully….but, as I said, thanks for you service, come home to your loved ones..I appreciate your service and I appreciate the efforts of this website to pass on the good that is happening in Iraq…..Steve

  9. Terri on June 26th, 2007 6:31 pm

    Good Lord Phil, a little over 4 years and you’re screaming like a banshee. How many damn years did it take for the United States to get on their feet? Read up on your history. Unfortunately, like most of the TV saturated Ameican citizens, who expect everything “right now,” you don’t seem to be able to grasp the idea that rebuilding an entire nation just doesn’t happen over night. Compared to the years it took for the US to get on their feet, 4 years is minute.

  10. SealPatriot on June 26th, 2007 9:39 pm

    3,500 deaths that aren’t a result of our efforts their or are not linked at all to our presence. The argument that us leaving will settle the troubles that Iraqis face is also getting old. So respectfully, why don’t you realize that when a terrorists straps on a bomb and blows himself up in the middle of a recreation area where people gather in large numbers he aims for civilians and not soldiers. Another old argument that I hear constantly from those who would agree with you is that the civilians die in attacks directed at our troops. In fact, the attacks on our soldiers and the attacks on civilians rarely happen at the same time, with the same weapon, or at the same places. Besides, after twenty plus years with two attempted genocides and one of them being on Shia with the help of Al Qeada that has killed more than 300,000 people and a war that killed more than a million (Saddam’s War with Iran), wouldn’t you say it was time for somebody to remove Hussein and made sure nobody like that comes back? Wouldn’t this make the argument that days under Saddam were better old? Why can’t people realize that there is a connection between Iraq’s death rate dropping from 10 for 1000 people during Saddam years to 5 every 1000 now and our troops fighting to prevent as many terror plots from being succesfully carried out? There is also probably a link between our troops’ efforts in Iraq with the fact that the country moved ahead like 200 years in these five years you dread so much. At the same time, how’s it our government’s fault when an Iraqi man decides to kill his brother for land, or money, or his brother’s wife. Face it, Iraq’s violence isn’t organized and isn’t centralized around a war. This fact alone tears all your arguments down to the ground let alone the fact that they have no credability whatsoever. Honestly, I feel the same way everybody here feels when somebody dies whether it be a civilian or one our troops. It is an awful feeling, and I truly feel bad for the loved ones. I don’t smile as soldiers are carried out of any country in a flag draped coffin. Who would? But your not blaming the right people and nobody deserves blame for that.

Got something to say?