Iraqi, US troops press forward against the Mahdi Army in Baghdad and Basrah


Sadr-City-IA-04072008.jpg

Iraqi Army soldiers help conduct a dismounted patrol in the Sadr City District of Baghdad, Iraq, April 7, 2008. US Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Adrian Cadiz.

Iraqi and Coalition forces are pressing the fight against the Mahdi Army in northeastern Baghdad and the southern port city of Basrah. Iraqi troops have cleared two Mahdi Army strongholds in Basrah and reportedly have surrounded three others as they prepare to press the operation. In Baghdad, the Iraqi Army and US forces continue to clash with the Mahdi Army while forces have moved into southwestern Sadr City and set up a "demonstration area" to distribute aid and provide local security.

The battle for Sadr City

The Iraqi government signaled that it was willing to take on the Mahdi Army inside its Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City and the outlying neighborhoods since Muqtada al Sadr ordered his militia to cease fighting six days after the Basrah operation began in March. Last weekend, Ali al Dabbagh, the spokesman for the government of Iraq, said Iraqi and US forces would "continue [operations] until we secure Sadr City." Multinational Forces Iraq said it was backing the Iraqi government and military in its efforts.

The operation involves more than military operations, as the Iraqi government seeks to wrest control of the Mahdi Army's grip on public services inside Sadr City. "The aim now is to launch an ambitious plan of 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day public works and services-improvement projects designed to convince the local population that the Iraqi government -- and not Sadr's Mahdi Army militia -- is best able to improve the quality of life in an impoverished expanse of pot-holed streets, open sewers, and joblessness," the Christian Science Monitor reported. "US and Iraqi military are now set up and living among the Sadr City residents in the 'demonstration' area of the southern third of the sector."

Clashes in Sadr City continue as the Mahdi Army attempts to disrupt the government's attempts to gain a foothold in the neighborhood. US troops killed five "criminals" in a series of engagements starting on the evening of April 14 up through this afternoon. Two "criminals threw grenades at an M1A2 main battle tank followed by an additional two criminals engaging the armored patrol with small arms fire," Lieutenant Colonel Steven Stover, the Public Affairs Officer for Multinational Division Baghdad told The Long War Journal. "The patrol of Abrams Tanks and Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles fired 25mm and 1 x 120mm HEAT round and killed all four."

Two more clashes took place in the early morning and afternoon of April 15. "Today, at approximately 3 a.m. an air weapons team reported five heavily armed criminals with 2 PKCs (machineguns) and multiple AK-47s," Stover said. "The group splits and the (air weapons team) engages and kills two criminals with a Hellfire missile. Finally, at 2 p.m. an (air weapons team) engaged a minivan transporting a mortar tube after radar acquisition identified the point of origin of a mortar attack. Both the minivan and the mortar tube were destroyed and the criminal killed."

A US solider was also killed in a roadside bomb attack in northeastern Baghdad on April 14. An Iraqi soldier was also killed and a school damaged in a rocket attack in eastern Baghdad. The day prior, US troops killed six more "criminals" after they attacked a US tank patrol. An air weapons team crew killed one Mahdi Army fighter in an open field while an Abrams tank crew killed another five as they attacked the US troops from a rooftop.

Operation Knights' Assault moves forward in Basrah

A map of Basrah. Click to view.

As Iraqi and US troops work to gain control of Sadr City from the Mahdi Army and allied Iranian-backed Shia militias, Operation Knights' Assault continues in the southern port city of Basrah. Knights' Assault has "entered a new phase of operations," Multinational Forces Iraq reported in a press release. Iraqi troops, backed by US and British advisers and Coalition air and logistical support, have "started the process of clearing strongholds previously dominated by criminal militias." Iraqi and Coalition spokesmen continue to refer to the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed militias as "criminals."

Iraqi troops have cleared the Qiblah in the southwestern portion of the city and the Taymiyyah neighborhood in central Basrah, while the Mahdi Army strongholds of Hayaniyah, Khamsamile, and Garma in the northwest "are now encircled by Iraqi troops who are carrying out door-to-door searches," according to AFP.

Iraqi troops took control of the ports of Khour al Zubair and Umm Qasr in Basrah province on April 1, and the ports are now open for business. Iraqi Marines are now securing the ports, freeing the Iraqi Army to conduct operations elsewhere in Basrah province.

Elements of the Mahdi Army in Basrah have vowed keep their weapons as the Iraqi security forces move into the Mahdi-controlled neighborhoods. The 17/3 movement, a Mahdi Army faction "loyal to the Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr" said it would not abide by the government's order to surrender its weapons. "The movement would not surrender heavy arms to security forces," Sheikh Abdullah al Ashmani, the leader of the 17/3 movement told Voices of Iraq. The weapons would be used "only against the occupier" and "not against Iraqi forces," Ashmani said.

Clashes between the Mahdi Army and Iraqi and Coalition forces are ongoing in Basrah. Coalition air forces killed four Shia mortar men and wounded another in an attack west of Basrah on April 15. An Iraqi intelligence officer was killed in an ambush by "unidentified gunmen" in central Basrah on April 14. Iraqi soldiers also captured one kidnapper while freeing a British journalist who was kidnapped in Basrah more than two months ago. The Iraqi troops were fired on by the kidnappers as they were clearing the neighborhood.

Iraqi and Coalition forces have inflicted serious casualties on the Mahdi Army since launching Operation Knights' Assault. Four hundred Mahdi Army fighters have been killed since the March 25, while Iraqi soldiers have lost 15 killed in fighting and have had another 400 wounded. More than 400 Mahdi Army fighters were captured and 1,000 wounded in the clashes in Basrah alone.


Background on the fighting between the Mahdi Army and the Iraqi government

Mahdi Army forces rose up after the Iraqi government started the assault on Basrah on March 25 to clear the city of the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed Shia militias. Sadr called for his forces to leave the streets on March 30 just as Iraqi Army and police reinforcements began to arrive in Basrah. Sadr later admitted he ordered his followers within the Army and police to abandon their posts and join the fighting against the government.

US and Iraqi forces killed 173 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad alone during the six days of fighting from March 25-30. The fighting has not abated in Sadr City and other Mahdi Army-dominated neighborhoods in northern and eastern Baghdad.

Sadr and his political movement have become increasingly isolated since the fighting began in Basrah, Baghdad, and the South. The Iraqi government, with the support of the political parties, said the Sadrist political movement would not be able to participate in upcoming provincial elections if it failed to disband the Mahdi Army. On April 13, the cabinet approved legislation that prevents political parties with militias from contesting provincial elections this year. The bill will now be sent to parliament for approval. Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, the senior most Shia cleric in Iraq, said the Mahdi Army was not above the law and should be disarmed.



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READER COMMENTS: "Iraqi, US troops press forward against the Mahdi Army in Baghdad and Basrah"

Posted by crosspatch at April 15, 2008 4:30 PM ET:

"The operation involves more than military operations, as the Iraqi government seeks to wrest control of the Mahdi Army's grip on public services inside Sadr City."

This is one area where I see a parallel with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian areas. If Sadr is allowed to provide services, he becomes a de facto government. This must not be allowed to happen and it appears that the central government of Iraq isn't going to allow that to happen. From here it looks as if Sadr's days are numbered and the Iranians have failed to create another Hezbollah in Iraq.

Posted by Tom W. at April 15, 2008 6:50 PM ET:

"Also, Gen. Hammond the U.S. commander in Baghdad said that as far as U.S. forces are concerned their job in Sadr City is pretty much done."

Link, please. I can't find that quote anywhere.

Posted by Rubin at April 15, 2008 7:44 PM ET:

.
"The patrol of Abrams Tanks and Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles fired 25mm and 1 x 120mm HEAT round and killed all four."

Throwing grenades [contact or otherwise] against a M1-A2 tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles is NOT the most reasoned course of action one might take.

>:)


Posted by Bill Roggio at April 15, 2008 8:08 PM ET:

motown67,

A couple of weeks ago there were "no plans" for the US to move into a 1/3 of of Sadr City, rush trainers into Basrah, conduct AWT/Predator strikes in Sadr City on a daily basis, etc.

The US wants to maintain a low profile in Sadr City and let the IA lead. Perhaps the Iraqis have the plan for Sadr City, and the US will just act in support....

Posted by SoldiersDad at April 15, 2008 9:52 PM ET:

"There are "no plans to go beyond where we are," said Major General Jeffery Hammond, commander of US forces in Baghdad."

As the Israli's learned painfully in Lebanon...an "Occupying Army" is the wrong force to put down a domestic insurgency.

The number of Coalition Forces in Basra is trivial in the grand scheme of themes. The number of Iraqi forces isn't.

Every major operation I've seen in Iraq in the last 18 months had a sizable "Connect the Iraqi Security Forces" to the Iraqi people. That means the IA delivers the humanitarian assisant et al.

At the moment there aren't any "free" Iraqi forces to "connect" further into Sadr City than we already are.(Which is substantial)

General Hammand says he plans on 90 days of intensive humanitarian aid in the portions of Sadr City Iraqi Army forces are in.

IMHO At the end of the 90 days...the people of Sadr City will be able to make their own judgements...would they rather live the "Moqtada" lifestyle or the lifestyle of people just a few blocks to their south.

If the people of Sadr city, genuinely are willing to die for Moqtada...then there is a decision to be taken...accept Moqtada..or kill them all. Two million people is a lot to kill.

My money is betting that the people of Sadr City will opt for the "Malliki Lifestyle"...I.E. I get my humanitarian aid regardless of who I vote for. The Iraqi army provides me security regardless of sect or political affiliation.

Posted by Tom W. at April 15, 2008 10:59 PM ET:

"'There are 'no plans to go beyond where we are,' said Major General Jeffery Hammond, commander of US forces in Baghdad."

This is entirely different from "Gen. Hammond the U.S. commander in Baghdad said that as far as U.S. forces are concerned their job in Sadr City is pretty much done."

No wonder I couldn't find the quote. Hammond never said it.

Posted by Michael at April 16, 2008 12:29 AM ET:

From Feature stories, MNF-I...

"Basrah is one step closer to realising its true potential," said Maj. Tom Holloway, a spokesman for Multi-National Division - Southeast. "There is much further to go, but recent operations in the city have been described by locals as the most significant events since 2003. The sense of optimism is palpable, and the desire by Basrawis to seize the moment is evident."

Posted by JOhn Knowlton at April 16, 2008 12:39 AM ET:

We and the Iraqi military are making good progress. News out of Mosul is minimal - what is going on up there?

Posted by Richard at April 16, 2008 11:51 AM ET:

My personal feeling is the Basra offensive has created many issues to come to the forefront. The Iraqis are taking the initiative to apply the rule of law to their own land in a more democratic way then as a dictatorship would. Also, the offensive clearly caught many off guard. Maybe that was Maliki's idea all along as a link following is showing a strained relationship between Iran and Sadr. Iran is nervous for a few reasons as explained in the story. Here is an excerpt: link to follow.

The rebel cleric has been in Iran for several weeks, and possibly longer, ostensibly to perfect his religious training at a Qom seminary. But sources within Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, which has trained, equipped, and funded Sadr's Mahdi Army since 2003, tell Newsmax they now have concerns that Sadr may have gone too far.

They fear that Sadr's support for the uprising in Basra, which was successfully put down by the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with U.S. support, could push the United States to attack Iran, the sources said.

President Bush has upped the ante against Iran in recent weeks, giving rise to speculation that the United States is close to making a final decision on whether to launch military strikes against Iran, Newsmax reported on Monday.

http://newsmax.com/timmerman/shiite_Muqtada_Sadr/2008/04/15/88245.html

Posted by Dan at April 16, 2008 11:52 AM ET:

Bill,

Is the IA still having problems with new troops? This is one of the headlines in the New York Times this morning that read,

"Iraqi Unit Flees Post, Despite American's Plea

By Michael R. Gordon

BAGHDAD - A company of Iraqi soldiers abandoned their positions on Tuesday night in Sadr City, defying American soldiers who implored them to hold the line against Shiite militias."

I was under the impression that the IA was doing a pretty good job of holding their own right now. Has Michael Gordon even been to Basra lately?
Dan


Posted by mjr007 at April 16, 2008 12:42 PM ET:

Richard,

The Newsmax article references www.tabnak.com as a website controlled by Maj. Gen Mohsen Rezai. I went to that website and found nothing of the sort.

It was a site about guitars and such. Nothing whatsoever related to Iraq/Iran.

Could it have been an error by Newsmax and if so, what kind of credence can we give their story?

Posted by DaMav at April 16, 2008 1:32 PM ET:

The MSM continues the drumbeat of defeat today, giving wide coverage to the IA company that pulled out and to the Refugee study that claims Sadr is recruiting by giving humanitarian aid. It recommends that the US give humanitarian aid as well. (Totally ignoring the concurrent stories that we are doing just that. Aren't the same people pushing this story complaining that we are picking up too much of the bill? It's just ludicrous the way they completely ignore the billions in aid we have poured into Iraq. Sadr, however, gets credit for being a great humanitarian. How 'bout that?)



No follow up on yesterday's report that Sadr demanded those expelled from the IA be rehired with an apology. The MSM headlined it "Sadr Tightens the Screws", as if he were in charge and dictating terms to Maliki.



If it weren't for blogs like this most of us in the US would be completely in the dark and led down the garden path on the status of the war. No wonder the North Viets were able to create the impression that the US had been defeated by the Tet Offensive. There was no internet then. Still, the information flow remains overwhelming controlled by those opposed to the war. :-(



As far as Newsmax, I really really wish I could recommend them because they have the right perspective but they are unfortunately not especially accurate.



longwarjournal.org is one of the best. Hit the tip jar. We need 'em. As in NEED them.

Posted by patrick at April 16, 2008 1:55 PM ET:

"Newsmax article references www.tabnak.com"

A search for tabnak found it referred to as : "Iranian ezine Tabnak"

Posted by patrick at April 16, 2008 2:07 PM ET:


In fact newsmax probably means http://www.tabnak.ir/

Posted by anand at April 16, 2008 2:14 PM ET:

Sadrists still control (except for formally the top spot) 5 or 6 major Iraqi government ministries, including health, education and transportation.

As a result, Sadrists do provide many social services as part of the GoI, using Iraqi government (oil) revenue.

This is exactly as it should be. To the degree the Sadrists execute their ministries well, it is good for Muqtada, the GoI as a whole, Maliki, and the Iraqi people.

Much of the press seems unsophisticated. They don't ask who selected Sadrists to head GoI ministries, and who pays for social services.

Significant amount of American tax payer aid has been distributed through GoI institutions led by Sadrists.

Does anyone know what political party now controls the trade ministry (that controls food rations among other things)? It seems like many Dawa party operatives are in the trade ministry. Many Iraqi Shia simultaneously back Dawa, Maliki and Muqtada (many simultaneously back the entire UIA including Fadheela and ISCI.) Therefore, much of the press gives credit to Muqtada for the good work of the trade ministry.

Posted by Bill Roggio at April 16, 2008 2:30 PM ET:

Dan, it seems problems, which certainly exist in the IA as it forms, are being blown out of proportion to what is going on. Here is my take on the NYT article today:

The Bigger Picture in Sadr City.

Posted by Richard1 at April 16, 2008 3:37 PM ET:

Bill or DJ,

How common is it for a major in the IA to command a unit as small as a company?

Posted by Mike at April 16, 2008 3:39 PM ET:

We, meaning the US, during the formation of the Continental Army under General Washington, had many desertions. They were encamped surrounding Boston for almost 2 years. It took time, money, and the infusion of confidence before the Army was fully formed. When the British Army evacuated Boston (on St. Pats Day), Washington's Army marched to NYC and took up camp. Maybe we ought to cut some of these new IA units some slack.

Posted by Bill Roggio at April 16, 2008 3:55 PM ET:

Richard1,

Very common. Captains can lead platoons, LTCs or COLs lead battalions.

Posted by anand at April 16, 2008 5:14 PM ET:

Richard1,

Generally:
1st Lts lead platoons (2nd Lieutenants are 1st Lietenants in training)
Captains lead companies
Majors are XOs for battalions
Lt. Colonels lead battalions
Colonels lead brigades
Brigadier Generals are XOs for divisions
Major Generals lead divisions
Lt Generals lead corps
4 star Generals lead army groups are major regional commands (Central Command, Pacific Command, NATO, now Africom (subordinate to NATO), 8th Army (subordinate to Pacific command), MNF-I (subordinate to Central Command))

As you can see, a Major leading a company is not that unusual. On occasion, especially in combat, a first Lieutanent might also lead a company before being promoted to captain. This happened many times in WWII.

Posted by anand at April 16, 2008 5:27 PM ET:

Nice article on the Weekly Standard Bill.

The IA are big boys. They need to be able to take the criticism, and press forward in spite of it.

Is there current public source data on which IA and INP battalions (or brigade HQs) are engaged in Sadr city ops?

11th IAD HQs seems to be in charge of Baghdad East of the river (except for the North which is 9th IAD.)

DJ's OOB indicates what ISF units were adjacent to Sadr City (Thawra) in March.

How 11th IAD is performing is an important question. Another question is what additional 11th IAD battalions will be upgraded to tracked and wheeled mechanized, and over what time frame. 1 battalion in 11th IAD is already confirmed as tracked mechanized.

Posted by DJ Elliott at April 16, 2008 5:29 PM ET:

A detail that keeps getting ignored and puts the minor problem in the IA at Sadr City into perspective. 80 ran. Only 80.

A year ago, 25-35% of the current IA did not exist.
At the End-2006 the IA was listed at 125,000 and had 35 bdes (incl ISOF), now it is 180-200,000 depending on which numbers you use and 48 Bdes.

And one more combat Bde (2500-3000 pers) is added each month.

Posted by DJ Elliott at April 16, 2008 5:42 PM ET:

Anand
The IA Bde assigned to Sadr City is the 44th and it graduated USF in Dec.
Next door in Rusafa is the 4th Bde, one of the oldest, To the north is the 42nd, not green but, known to have problems.

9th Div is mostly out of garrison and deployed to Mosul, Basrah, and south Baghdad. Only two operational combat Bns of the 9th are located there, the rest is training, support and in-training. INP's 2nd Bde is covering northwest Baghdad Province.

Posted by cjr at April 16, 2008 7:20 PM ET:

So 80 IA soldiers ran. Hum, I wonder how many in the Mahdi army have run over the last 3 weeks.

Posted by Neo at April 16, 2008 8:04 PM ET:

Nothing in these accounts of problems shows any real tactical setbacks, just growing pains with new units. Unless one insists on using raw casualty counts as the sole measure of success, things certainly haven't gotten worse this spring. To the contrary, the campaign in Basra still proceeds well ahead of schedule. Being ahead of schedule presents its own set of problems and that is finding enough troops to ever more aggressively disrupt JAM and control insurgent areas. We must remember that there are simultaneous large-scale offensive operations in Mosul, Sadr City, and Basra. I don't know if many people have noticed but JAM has some huge problems of their own. JAM is able to mount significant resistance at the point of attack but is having increasing problems running it's harassment outside their areas of control campaigns, and more seriously has no real answer to government incursions into JAM controlled areas.

It is now clear that the Sadr initiated cease-fire is not a gesture of goodwill, but its purpose rather is to mask weakness. JAM don't have either the numbers or the level of public support they once had, plus the Iraqi government has much more at its disposal than ever before. Another significant thing has changed too, Sadr's cease fire is no longer mutually beneficial to both sides. At this point US and IA forces would like nothing better than for JAM to go on the offensive. Such an offensive would score media points but little more, and would leave JAM with little left in play. In fact, that may have a lot to do with why JAM had to pull out of the last round of fighting when they had been able to cause significant confusion at the beginning of the battle. At the end of the battle they were taking it on the chin pretty much everywhere they were fighting.

In this context the biggest problem for the Iraqi government is still a shortage of troops to cover all existing obligations. I suspect JAM may be nearing the tipping point, but finding enough troops to keep pushing them without causing significant problems elsewhere is still a problem.

Posted by Neo at April 16, 2008 8:09 PM ET:

Strike the word "campaigns" from the first paragraph, last sentence.

It's a cut and past left-over.

Posted by Dan R. at April 16, 2008 10:18 PM ET:

Regarding the "80 that ran", I got the impression that had that company been blessed with better leadership, they would have held their ground. The
IA major commanding that unit sounds like a real wimp. Despite the fact that he had American units only 100-150 yards behind him and that his
company had suffered no KIA at all despite being engaged all night with Mahdi Army units, he made the decision to pull his men back, opening up a
hole in the perimeter. You could tell by the quotes from the American officers on scene that they wanted to wring his neck. I sincerely hope that
the Iraqi general staff comes down on this major like a ton of bricks.

And ya gotta love the NY Times, don't ya? They're nothing if not consistent. I sit down to read today's San Diego paper and I see a headline on the front page blaring "Iraqi Units Retreat From Sadr City". I think to myself "Aw man ... what's happened???" Then I read down a bit and very quickly see that the "retreat" consisted of a single unit of 80 soldiers out of a total IA force of thousands. I then quickly checked the by-line on the story and saw "NY Times News Service" I just had to sigh and smile.

Posted by Neo at April 16, 2008 10:25 PM ET:

There may be some who might quibble with my repeated characterization of the Basra operation as being ahead of schedule. If one wants to be literal, the criticism might be made that there either is no schedule or none has been given. But lets suppose for the sake of argument that a step-by-step counterinsurgency plan had been implemented instead. Such a plan might offer an opportunity to have a much more methodical, far less chaotic operation, but doesn't give a lot of opportunities to grab large gains away from JAM, should the enemy give way.

I'm not a military man so I must confess a weakness in my ability to predict how such a step-by-step operation to take the city would proceed. My best guess is that such a campaign would begin with shaping operations to set up control points around the periphery of the city, notably south of the city along the Al Faw Peninsula along with Um Qasur, the neighborhoods directly on the east side of the river, and sympathetic neighborhoods in the far north of the city. Whether a direct push into the city center would be prudent so early under a step-by-step plan might be debatable. The advantage of a controlled operation is that it allows for a methodical takeover without taking chances on overexposing troops or getting overcommitted. The disadvantage would be it also allows JAM an opportunity to methodically defend each critical point, quite likely making for an long, exhausting, if predictable, campaign.

Would a methodical campaign have been better? If so how far along would we expect to be in such a case? Look at what did happen. After the initial fighting and withdrawal of JAM forces, IA forces quickly ceased the opportunity to take control points southwest of the city along the Al Faw Peninsula, Um Qasur, the neighborhoods on the east side of the river, and sympathetic (and unsympathetic) neighborhoods far to the north. These gains are in addition to the initially contested area of control at the commercial center of the city and its ports. With JAM calling a cease-fire and retreating back into its primary areas of control, a golden opportunity presented itself. That opportunity presented itself to go back and cease control of all the important control areas around the city largely uncontested. That is now done.

Call what unfolded a fortuitous and even lucky series of events, but I doubt that any methodical campaign to take Basra would have gained anywhere near as much ground. Sometimes a little chance pays off, especially if you're in a position to take advantage. The IA has taken advantage. That's why I conclude that things are well ahead of any predictable scheduled plan for Basra.

OK, that horse should be dead as well. Enough.

Posted by Marlin at April 16, 2008 11:04 PM ET:

The Iraqi Army appears to already be moving from the military phase to the 'generate the economy' phase in the Qibla neighborhood in Basra. Hats off to them.

Iraqi Maj. Gen. Tariq, commander of the 1st Division Iraqi Army, met with local sheiks in the district of al-Quibla to help give them an economic jump start in their neighborhoods.

The Iraqi Army, with assistance from a Civil Affairs team, is working to boost economic growth within al-Quibla by asking the local population to clean their streets of trash.

The program gives citizens jobs and increases the local economy's activity by putting money into the hands of the citizens. It also begins a cycle of sanitation to soon be funded by the Government of Iraq and become self supporting.

MNF-Iraq: General talks economic boost with local leaders (al-Quibla)

Posted by Michael at April 16, 2008 11:38 PM ET:

Marlin,

Good catch, so it appears they'll be applying COIN, or some form of it?

Bill, DJ? Will we have any PRTs with these IA forces? Or will it be exclusive MOD/MOI?

Posted by anand at April 17, 2008 3:51 AM ET:

This article describes one company in the 42nd Brigade.

The 42nd brigade started as the 2nd Bde, 6th Iraqi Army Division. It is one of the oldest in the IA, and has fought quite effectively on many ocassions over many years. It was one of the first IA brigades to reach level C2 ORA.

In 2006/2007 there were allegations that the brigade was not stopping Shia militias from targeting Sunni Arabs. The Brigade added a lot of Muqtada supporting recruits.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/17/world/middleeast/17deserters.html?_r=2&ref=world&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

I wonder how well the 42nd Brigade is holding up in this fight.

Posted by Rhyno327/lrsd at April 17, 2008 8:24 AM ET:

Maybe Maliki wanted to strike now before the Brits are gone, and the US starts to draw down. Any organization that is an arm of the IRGC, Qods Force, Iam in favor of eliminating. Crosspatch was right on in his comments about Iran trying to create another Hezbollah type situation in Iraq. From wat this article says, the IA is cordoning off neighborhoods, then sweeping them. Since they have no heavy armor, are the Brits and the US providing armor when needed?

Posted by anand at April 17, 2008 12:28 PM ET:

Wonder how the 11th IAD MTR and forming BSU (still not fielded as best I can tell) are performing? Their EOD and combat engineering companies? The Thawra operation will be an important test for these nascent capabilities.

The 14th IAD's MTR appears to be still in formation stages. And it has no BSU based on what can be discerned. (has 1st IAD's BSU/MTR moved south?)

A few weeks from now, when the dust clears, it might be useful to review how the IA's logistics and combat engineers/EODs performed in the current operation.

Posted by Ammo Guy at April 17, 2008 12:45 PM ET:

Neo. love your comments and I always take time to read them carefully. However, just for the record, I'm sure you meant "seize" rather than "cease" in your fine post above. Don't mean to nitpick, but don't want to confuse the occasional reader as to your intent. Keep up the good work.

Posted by Neo at April 17, 2008 2:28 PM ET:

Ammo Guy, You're right, it is "seize" not "cease". I'm not good at proofing my own writing. I always read what I think I said, rather than what is on the page.

Anyone got any official news on whether the abandon outpost in Sadr city was reestablished. No news is usually good news. I figure if it hadn't we would be hearing quite a bit about it. I do worry a bit that placing Iraqi troops without embedded US troops right in the middle of the heaviest action may be too ambitious. Many units are doing just fine, the units in question seem a little shaky. If the situation calls for a band-aid of some sort, give it one.

Posted by pedestrian at April 19, 2008 1:01 AM ET:

There is something wrong. While there is a mix of non-combat and combat members, the Mahdi Army was expected to add up to 60,000. The surge in Sadr City and Basra sounds less violent and with less resistance than what could be 60,000. Was the Mahdi Army weaker than expected? I was expecting a much more tough battle than it was in the central region. If a door to door search was to be engaged in Basra, it should take months just like in Baghdad to finish it in a large city like Basra.

Posted by DJ Elliott at April 19, 2008 1:20 AM ET:

pedestrian

You actually believed the JAM claims as to what their strength was?

In March, it became glaringly obvious that their strength was grossly exagerated.

Why do you think the MSM dropped the adjective "powerfull" when referring to JAM? Even they couldn't justify parroting JAM's propaganda about their strength...