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The Battle of Ramadi


Codex WMDicanious
Jan 4, 2002
The Battle of Ramadi

Almost everywhere I have been in the Middle East is more “normal” than it appears in the media. Nowhere is this more true than in Beirut, but it is true to a lesser extent in Baghdad as well. Baghdad isn’t a normal city, but it appears normal in most places most of the time. Ramadi, in my experience, is the great exception. Ramadi was worse than it appeared in the media.

Baghdad suffers from political paralysis, a low-grade counterinsurgency, and a very slow-motion civil war. It doesn’t look or feel like a war most of the time, although it does sometimes. What happened in Ramadi wasn’t like that. It wasn’t the surreal sort-of war that still simmers in Baghdad. Two American colonels in charge of the area compared the battle of Ramadi to Stalingrad.

Al Qaeda was initially welcomed by many Iraqis in Ramadi because they said they were there to fight the Americans. The spirit of resistance against foreign occupiers was strong. But the Iraqis got a lot more in the bargain than simply resistance.

I toured the destruction in South Lebanon at the end of last year, but I didn’t see anything there on the scale of what happened in Ramadi. Nor did I see anything even remotely like this in Baghdad.

American and Iraqi soldiers live in this place. “Most Americans have no idea how bad we have it here,” someone told me, and I’m certain he’s right. But most of them didn’t complain. Life is a lot better in Ramadi now that the war is over, regardless of the heat and living conditions.

“What are you doing here anyway?” he said. “Not much happens in Ramadi anymore. Nothing blows up anymore. There’s no blood and guts here

“To get paid by AQI for killing Americans,” Lieutenant Hightower said, “the attack must be videotaped. They often used tracer rounds so they could prove it was real. We found whole piles of these tapes when we cleaned the city out. We found and killed a sniper just northeast of the city. He had all kinds of video tapes of himself shooting and killing American soldiers.”

“Al Qaeda hit a six month old baby with a mortar when they were trying to hit us,” Lieutenant Hightower said when he got off the phone. “They also hit a six year old girl. We went in and medi-vacced the victims, and we made lots of friends that day. It was a clarifying experience for the Iraqis.”

It was a clarifying experience for the Iraqis because they had been raised on virulent anti-American conspiracy theories and propaganda from Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party. They truly believed the Army and Marines were there to steal their oil and women. Americans saving the lives of children wounded by fellow Sunni Arabs who passed themselves off as liberators was not what many Iraqis ever expected to see.

“The six month baby had shrapnel in his head,” Lieutenant Hightower said. “The six year old girl had shrapnel in her leg. It was the most disturbing thing I’ve seen since I got here.” This from a man who saw one of his own men shot in the head by a sniper.

“A massive anti-Al Qaeda convulsion ripped through the city,” said Captain McGee. “The locals rose up and began killing the terrorists on their own. They reached the tipping point where they just could not take any more. They told us where the weapon caches were. They pointed out IEDs under the road.”

Credit for purging Ramadi of Al Qaeda must go to Iraqis themselves at least as much as to the American military. The Americans wouldn’t have been able to do it without the cooperation of the people who live there, and the Iraqis wouldn’t have been able to do it, at least not so easily, without help from the American military.

Ramadi isn’t completely safe yet. Al Qaeda wants to take back their “Capital of the Islamic State of Iraq," and they have tried unsuccessfully to attack it from outside on a couple of occasions since they lost it.

“It’s boring here now,” Private First Class Baringhouse said. “It’s like we’re babysitting the Iraqis. But it’s weird and amazing to be bored here.”


Man it really gives you a sence of whats its like on the ground in Iraq.
The massive destruction and poverty is really eye opening (well for most of us anyway).
Hats of to the marines and Gen Peteraus. its a start, though long dangerous and risky road ahead. Saddly the shirek whom lead the fight has been assasinated and there is immense work to be done.

PS. Bush can go [cheny] himself If anything the poor saps on the ground have succeded despite the incompetence of this administration. :D
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