US troops kill 28 Mahdi fighters during Sadr City ambush


Heavy fighting broke out between Coalition and Mahdi Army forces in Sadr City as US troops killed 28 Mahdi Army fighters after being ambushed during a patrol. Seven more Mahdi Army fighters were killed during strikes yesterday.

The 28 Mahdi Army fighters were killed during a four-hour battle in southern Sadr City after a US soldier was wounded by gunfire and US forces began to evacuate the soldier, Lieutenant Colonel Steven Stover, the chief Public Affairs Officer for Multinational Division Baghdad said. "The fire came from the portion of Sadr City we are not in - the northern neighborhoods - and militants fired at our patrol in the southern neighborhoods," Stover said in an email to The Long War Journal.

During the evacuation, Mahdi Army fighters triggered three roadside bombs and fired rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns at the US patrol. Five more soldiers were wounded in the attacks and two vehicles were damaged. None of the soldiers' injuries are reported as life-threatening.

During the battle, US soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division directed "a combination of weapon systems available," including munitions from a Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, at Mahdi Army fighters "firing from buildings, alleyways and rooftops" in the dense urban areas of Sadr City. "The enemy continues to show little regard for innocent civilians, as they fire their weapons from within houses, alleyways, and rooftops upon our Soldiers," said Colonel Allen Batschelet, the chief of staff for Multinational Division Baghdad.

The Mahdi Army took heavy casualties during the single engagement. "A total of at least 28 militants were killed in the four-hour engagement," Multinational Forces Baghdad reported.

Stover refuted reports that US forces used aircraft to attack civilians in Sadr City. "Our Soldiers have a right to defend ourselves," Stover said. "This engagement began as we were evacuating a US Soldier shot while on patrol in south Sadr City and continued as militants continued engaging US Soldiers. We are NOT targeting law-abiding civilians. Those targeted were firing weapons at US Soldiers."

Today's clash follows days of heavy fighting with the Mahdi Army as they attempt to eject US and Iraqi force from the southern third of Sadr City. Iraqi and US troops currently control the Ishbilya and Habbibiyah neighborhoods and are in the process of walling off these areas to restrict the movement of weapons and supplies. The Mahdi Army has used these neighborhoods to launch mortar and rocket attacks against the International Zone.

Yesterday, US air weapons teams and ground forces killed seven Mahdi Army fighters in Sadr City. On April 27, US and Iraqi troops killed 38 Mahdi Army fighters during separate engagements. Twenty-two Mahdi Army fighters were killed in a single battle. US and Iraqi troops have killed 186 Mahdi Army fighters since Sadr threatened to conduct a third uprising nine days ago.

The Iraqi government has insisted that Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi Army, disarm his militia or his Sadrist political movement will be barred from the upcoming elections. The Iraqi government has also insisted it would establish security in Sadr City and Basrah. Sadr has refused to disarm his militia and threatened to conduct a third uprising if the government did not halt offensive operations.



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READER COMMENTS: "US troops kill 28 Mahdi fighters during Sadr City ambush"

Posted by rmwarnick at April 29, 2008 1:00 PM ET:

You have some of the very best, most up to date reporting on the Sadr City battles. But some of the details are sobering. Firing MLRS artillery into inhabited civilian neighborhoods? That's a clear violation of the law of land warfare.

Posted by mjr007 at April 29, 2008 1:05 PM ET:

By all means, rmwarnick, let's see if we can get Sadr's militia, the Iranian special forces and the AQI to sit down with us at the UN and discuss the provisions of the Geneva Convention.

Oh, wait!!! They're not wearing uniforms are they?

My bad.

Posted by Daniel at April 29, 2008 1:11 PM ET:

re: rmwarnick,

When you have the choice of having your own men killed, or firing into civilian quarters from which you are receiving hostile fire, I think that both the moral and logical choices are clear.

Armies take care not to harm civilians, true, but when criminals are firing at you behind civilian backs - you have no choice.

Geneva accords are in support of this, as long as your reaction is appropriate. So if you can reference the relevant "law of land warfare" I will be thankful.

Posted by Neo at April 29, 2008 1:43 PM ET:

A few facts should be taken into consideration about casualty reports from the fighting in Sadr City. It is typical for news reports to report two sets of casualty figures. One set comes from US and IA military sources reporting estimates taken from the scene. The other set often attributed to anonymous health ministry sources are coming from hospital officials at the Imam Ali and Al-Sadr hospitals within Sadr City. With that information, it should be pointed out that Sadr's party has direct oversight over these health ministry officials, and both hospitals within Sadr City. Many reporters are being good enough to state directly where reports are coming from these hospitals although in most cases attributed to unnamed health ministry sources.

I will let people draw their own conclusions but there are several curious things about the casualty figures coming out of Sadr City Hospitals.
1. Casualties are always stated as civilian casualties never as militia casualties, or broken down into militia and civilian casualties.
2. Casualty reports stated by the hospitals are roughly within order of magnitude of military source but invariably are higher by as much as half again added.
3. Casualties stated are almost always attributed the major clashes of the day. No statement is made for casualties out of the area of major clashes.
4. No reports of casualties due to crime, militia activity, stray fire.
5. No civilian casualties are attributed to militias.
6. The great majority of casualties are male, either of military age or teenage years.
7. Usually no age related details are given about child casualties unless there are actual small children involved. In those cases we often get accompanying pictures.

So, are we to believe that these casualties are predominantly unarmed civilians killed by direct fire during major engagements? That while many of these engagements are happening near to established checkpoints known to civilians as hazardous areas. I would maintain that such a casualty distribution of is improbable.

Posted by LDG at April 29, 2008 1:47 PM ET:

Hypthesis: likely the concern about using a guided round from an MLRS is in part a concern about using bomblet-warheads... which overlooks the availablity of a unitary warhead for that weapons system.

One unitary guided warhead would be, for example, a 90kg (200 lbs). Smaller than almost anything air-delivered.

@Bill Roggio

Is it possible/prudent to discuss openly the type of MLRS strike that was mentioned in your report, just to clear the air?

Posted by Neo at April 29, 2008 1:49 PM ET:

Sorry, I should have cleaned that up a bit. In a hurry!

Posted by David M at April 29, 2008 1:50 PM ET:

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 04/29/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

Posted by Neo at April 29, 2008 2:05 PM ET:

Bill article does specify that GMLRS munitions were used. The advisability of using such a weapon would depend on the type of warhead not the launcher.

Posted by Bill Roggio at April 29, 2008 2:10 PM ET:

LDG, I see no problems with this. It is pertinent to the report and the military mentioned the MLRS. The specs/warheads on MLRS are all available in the public domain.

Posted by Dan R. at April 29, 2008 2:27 PM ET:

Please, rmwarnick ... What exactly do you expect our soldiers and the IA soldiers to do? Sit there and do nothing while taking fire from militants who are deliberately hiding behind civilians? Your reaction is prescisely the reaction on which the militants are counting. I don't like the idea of firing long-range munitions into civilian areas either. But if it has to be done to kill the bad guys, then so be it.

Posted by rmwarnick at April 29, 2008 3:30 PM ET:

Wow, I seem to have sparked a little discussion. Does anyone stop to consider that the Shiite people we are now fighting are the very same ones that were expected to welcome US forces as liberators?

It's hard for me to understand how attacking Sadr City is good strategy. No matter how good your tactics may be, you can't substitute tactics for strategy. Look at the big picture.

Now, on to the law of land warfare. It not only prohibits the targeting of civilians, but also requires that loss of life and damage to property must not be out of proportion to the military advantage to be gained. The prohibitory effect of the law of war is not minimized by military necessity. Every violation of the law of war is a war crime.

Posted by ME at April 29, 2008 3:38 PM ET:

"Does anyone stop to consider that the Shiite people we are now fighting are the very same ones that were expected to welcome US forces as liberators?"

Thats simply not true. The ones expected to treat us as liberators are the ones who did treat us as liberators. The Iranian backed, "hizbulla want to be" militia are the enemies of the new, fee, democratic Iraq just as much as al-Qaida.

Posted by Frozen Al at April 29, 2008 4:06 PM ET:

rmwarnick,
The GMLRS rounds are probably set to air burst to clear the rooftops of JAM snipers.

I agree that firing salvos of rockets into civilian areas would be a cause for concern. However, smart round technology has advanced to the point that we can specify very accurately where the round is going to explode relative to the target.

The JAM IEDs are more dangerous to civilians than our GMLRS.

Al

Posted by Freedom Now at April 29, 2008 4:29 PM ET:

rmwarnick works from a false premise that the appropriate response of force against guerillas hiding among civilians is a war crime. I respectfully assert that this is not true. The crime belongs to the guerillas themselves, who violate the Geneva Conventions.

I must remind him or her that while Al-Sadr never carried out military operations against his real oppressor, Saddam Hussein (the man who murdered his father), he used the liberation of Iraq to launch attacks against his fellow Shia by seizing mosques, killing nonviolent political opponents and he even destroyed a whole village... Qawliya.

There is a huge difference between attacking civilians and attacking enemy combatants firing on your troops.

Yet the Mahdi Army can attack civilians without objection from almost anyone except the Coalition and the Iraqi Army.

This is sad 

Posted by Neo at April 29, 2008 4:32 PM ET:

Frozen Al,

The GMLRS rounds are probably set to air burst to clear the rooftops of JAM snipers.

Wow, I really doubt that. I would think more along the lines of something a little more powerful than a Hellfire shot at a greater range. Something less than a 300 or 500 pound bomb though. Maybe we should find someone who understands the specs.

Posted by Neo at April 29, 2008 4:33 PM ET:

That should have been quotes around the first sentence.

Posted by rmwarnick at April 29, 2008 4:36 PM ET:

This is sad, indeed.

Baghdad, Apr 29, (VOI) - The death toll from the U.S. shelling on Sadr City in the past 6 hours reached 24 dead and 60 wounded, a medical source said on Tuesday.

"The U.S. shelling in sectors 10 and 11 in Sadr City from 11:00 am until 6:00 pm on Tuesday left 24 dead and 60 wounded, most of them women and children," the source, who asked for anonymity, told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq - (VOI).

...Hundreds of Sadr supporters were killed or wounded in intense fighting, which still continues.

Posted by Neo at April 29, 2008 4:38 PM ET:

rmwarnick,
"Does anyone stop to consider that the Shiite people we are now fighting are the very same ones that were expected to welcome US forces as liberators?"


When someone uses a phrase like "Did anyone stop to consider" it is meant to denigrate someone's thoughts on the subject before they have a chance to speak on the issue. It's bait.

Posted by DJ Elliott at April 29, 2008 4:43 PM ET:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/27-10/

Cite the chapter and quote supporting your claim.

It took me less than three minutes to find the relevent document and the correct chapter contradicting your fraudulent acusation of a war crime...

Posted by rmwarnick at April 29, 2008 4:44 PM ET:

Semantics are beside the point when innocent people are being killed. It was a strategic error to attack Sadr City, whether or not anyone stopped to consider it beforehand.

Posted by Neo at April 29, 2008 4:47 PM ET:

Rmwarnick is a troll.

No one seriously argues that accusations of "war crimes" are merely semantics.

Posted by Bobby D at April 29, 2008 4:49 PM ET:

wow, rmwarnick, it is sad indeed. An unknown source from inside Sadr City told these figures. Hmm, you ever think that is a militiaman who used to roam the streets intimidating people? Its sad that you believe thugs and terrorists over your own military.

Posted by rmwarnick at April 29, 2008 4:50 PM ET:

FM 27-10 (Change 1), Appendix A, paragraph 41.

"[L]oss of life and damage to property incidental to attacks must not be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage expected to be gained."
(HR, art. 23, par. (g); GC, art. 53)

Posted by LDG at April 29, 2008 4:51 PM ET:

re: Bill Roggio's comment at 2:10pm
"I see no problems with this. It is pertinent to the report..."

I concur as well, and well done. Your link in the article is very clear on the M30 series, and it is public info. My only question was whether the military publicly specified the warhead type.

Thank you for the reply.

Posted by Neo at April 29, 2008 5:10 PM ET:

rmwarnick,

And by the way even if your VOI source had some authenticity. (which is very much in doubt) There still is nothing in the VOI news release reporting shelling that rises to indiscriminate force as stated in Geneva Conventions. Not even close. Using unguided munitions in a civilian area may be highly undesirable but there is absolutely no precedent for war crimes charges on the subject.

Anyway, you haven't even proven unguided munitions were used

Posted by Matthew at April 29, 2008 5:18 PM ET:

No, it wasn't a strategic error to attack Sadr City, the wall off accomplishes a primary military goal - to secure the green zone. Hopefully, a secondary goal would be to provide better services to the southern neighborhood of Sadr City than the Mahdi Army did. Once the southern neighborhood is secure, then the northern neighborhoods may be targeted.

It is not an easy fight, the Mahdi Army knows that its power is reduced if they cannot attack the Green Zone and is thus counterattacking hard trying to push the U.S. troops from constructing that wall.

If the Madhi Army truly cares about civilians - they would not allow civilians from their firing postions. Forcing them to remain at firing positions is a war crime.

Posted by BobbyD at April 29, 2008 5:23 PM ET:

You do know you are quoting an US Army field manual right rmwarnick?

Posted by rmwarnick at April 29, 2008 5:34 PM ET:

Yes, FM 27-10 is a field manual. I was a US Army officer for four years. That's why I'm worried about what's going on in Iraq.

Posted by BobbyD at April 29, 2008 5:37 PM ET:

I am an Army officer too. That is not a "law of war". Just our laws for us. Even if these people were all civilians, which they were not, what is proportional?

Posted by rmwarnick at April 29, 2008 5:42 PM ET:

You may not have noticed, but below the quotation from FM 27-10 I included the relevant footnote. This footnote refers to international law.

HR, art. 23, par. (g) - Annex to Hague Convention No. IV, 18 October 1907, embodying the Regulations Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land.

GC, art. 53 - Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, 12 August 1949.

Posted by BobbyD at April 29, 2008 5:47 PM ET:

So then what is proportional?

COIN is being pumped through every school, command, etc in the Army. Every single officer and NCO understands one incident of civilians being killed by reckless soldiers could undo all the hard fought ground that has been made. I would seriously doubt that soldiers just started shooting Sadr City up.

Posted by rmwarnick at April 29, 2008 6:00 PM ET:

I am trying to find out what's going on. That's why I value Bill Roggio's reporting. However, there is no point in denying that the attack on Sadr City is resulting in numerous civilian casualties. As you say, not a good thing. It's not enough to say civilians are not being targeted, they are dead and wounded just the same.

Posted by Ron R. at April 29, 2008 6:04 PM ET:

So let me get this straight: The Coalition, at the behest of the democratically elected government of Iraq, has entered a stronghold of an illegal armed militia that extorts, tortures, and murders Iraqi citizens.

As a Coalition patrol is carrying out its legal duties, it is attacked by criminals who detonate three roadside bombs and fire machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades in the densely packed neighborhood.

Yet we're supposed to believe that the only casualties were to civilians, and they were caused only by the Coalition, wantonly shelling helpless, unarmed women and children?

And we're supposed to be "sad," "concerned," and "worried" about the actions of our troops, because if we don't automatically believe reports that we've killed only innocent women and children, there's something wrong with us?

Here's my opinion: Cram it.

I'm really tired of knee-jerk criticism of our troops, even from alleged former army officers. I'm especially tired of people who use condescending terms like "Does anyone stop and think..."

General Petraeus has obviously "stopped and thought." I'll trust his judgment any day over that of a commenter on a blog. If he says it was a good idea to support the Iraqi government's incursion into Sadr City, that's good enough for me.

Posted by rmwarnick at April 29, 2008 6:13 PM ET:

OK, let me try to answer the question, "what is proportional?" The headline of this post says "at least" 28 Mahdi Army fighters were killed in the entire four-hour battle, citing a US Army source. The Iraqi news, citing a hospital source, says the artillery fire alone killed 24 civilians and wounded 60, most of them women and children. We cannot verify either number. I'd venture a guess that both are approximations, and that nobody really knows.

I am not a lawyer, so this is just a guess. If you fire artillery and kill more civilians than you do enemy combatants, that seems excessive to me. Only my opinion.

Posted by Daryl at April 29, 2008 6:36 PM ET:

rmwarnick

You are trolling this board. Why don't you go back to the Daily Kos, or whatever leftist board you came out of? This is a board for people who understand and support the strategic importance of our military involvement in the region. If you want to promote anti-American propganda you will be better offelsewhere. You aren't going to change anyone's mind here. You are just trying to wind us up.

As to the attack on Sadr City. This is necessary. There are (at least) 3 civil wars in Iraq that have to be resolved. The first is the intra-Shia civil war. That's what's happening now. The next will be the Shia-Sunni civil war. Once that is resolved, then the Arab-Kurd civil war will take place. When I say civil war, this does not mean these conflicts will necessarily be resolved violently, but they probably will be, at least in part. The important thing for US is to stand up enough of a Shia based Iraqi Army that isn't tilted too far toward Iran, so we can withdraw most of our troops into secure bases, and provide mostly just air support. That way we can avoid the US casualties that undermine our resolve due to our contentious domestic political environment.

Posted by Michael at April 29, 2008 6:53 PM ET:

I agree with Neo,

The language utilized; "Has anyone stopped and thinked...," the anonymous sources quoting "mainly women and children" is trollish behavior and the stats from anonymous sources as usual most likely rubbish.

The reporters and commenters here are always very situational aware and our soldiers have in fact been heroically careful, overtly cautious to the point of being killed or wounded themselves in battle to avoid civilian casualties.

I feel your statements are a real insult making assumptions without at least waiting on more details or the military to respond. 99% of the time these accuations made by enemy controlled areas are false. That fact has to be taken into consideration.

The numbers of dead add up closely to militants as is usually the case for anyone following these battles past or present. These are propaganda tactics. For an anonymous source to only report civilians is frankly laced with enemy rhetoric.

And someone who automatically makes negative assumptions with commenters here is also propaganda based. I think your statements questioning or implying commenters here do not care, or had not thought of these issues is a ludicrous assumption.

Anyone who reads here for more than a few days understands this is a good group of people, that they do care and take it all very seriously. This is not some blog rant fest.

Bill has regularly demonstrated the will to cut off wild statements. I respect the intelligent discussions here by most commenters led by Bill's staff of reporters who work hard to winnow out the rubbish of propaganda and bad soures in any war.

The charges inherant in your statement that is found offensive to many on here are built upon your personal preconceived assumptions about evreyone here. Have you "stopped to think" that we should wait for a rebuttal by the military on these numbers of killed and wounded being only women and children? Instead of running to conclusions and accusations against our military? Or to insuate that anyone hear does not think? At least you should acknowledge the bad use of wording and at worst the false assumption inferred by such rhetoric.

I've seen this type of knee-jerk reaction in the past from those who largely disagree with the war and our militaries mission there. Our military is then painted as evil with such conclusions. Then only later to find out the great majority of the time, these stats are false, started by stringers that are tied to the enemy, unchecked, unverifiable and proven wrong.

Before making accusations and throwing mud on our forces and the commenters here who the majority have service backgrounds, I'd expect a former military person to understand just how careful our military leaders and those under their command have been.

Finally, I'd expect a consideration for the propaganda tactics utilized by our enemy. I'd consider the publically known tactics utilized by Nasrallah's Hezbollah and Hamas leaders false reports from the past. Using terrorist stringers to even fake deaths, fake numbers and take phony pictures. The evidence stands against our enemy for falsifying the records daily in such conflicts in order to draw outrage by Muslims and guilt by the West. These stories run like a virus thru our media who fails to inspect and investigate the stories. The viral impact of the propaganda then infects the internet blog sites. And in the end those who are anti-Iraqi Freedom, use the false stories to attack those for liberating Iraqis and to smear our military.

This worked for a long time. But has since been discovered to be hideous propaganda tactics by a well oiled machine. These tactics are much like that employed by Hezbollah who also controls the healthcare systems. Hezbollah has been found in command positions and training for Shia criminal groups, supported by Iran.

I have learned to be suspicious of any statements made by such an enemy. And al Sadr's militia is the enemy and they do control the hospitals and health authorities making such reports.

Lets wait and see what is the military response is and if they give these numbers any credence. It is likely there are "some" wounded civilians due to the illegal war tactics utilized by the terrorist.

But if the past is any indication, the number of civilian dead is much lower, as is the wounded.
And as was pointed out in above post. Is it not interesting they do not mention any militia deaths in this report or offer a different view from Iraqi government?

And finally, the IA and Coalition Forces did not attack Sadr city. The special groups attacked Baghdad Green Zone. This is a counter attack, justified by the indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Baghdad by the enemy forces.

Posted by KW64 at April 29, 2008 6:55 PM ET:

Given that it was necessary to halt the indirect fire into the Green Zone in order to preserve the function of a democratically elected government, it seems inevitable that taking control of the areas where the indirect fire came from is necessary. If that is conceded, then it should also be conceded that in order to hold that area, (and by the by protect civilians in the area we are holding) one must not allow the enemy to fire into the territory we are trying to control without response. If that is conceded, the issue boils down to how to best respond.

If that is conceded, it then falls on the shoulders of those who second guess the munitions choice made by those on the scene to offer a better choice; so that it can be evaluated. OK rmwarnick, lets hear your choice and do not say you are not close enough to the action to say because you gave up that argument when you rejected the choice that was made.

Posted by DJ Elliott at April 29, 2008 7:00 PM ET:

- Posted by rmwarnick at April 29, 2008 1:00 PM ET:

"Firing MLRS artillery into inhabited civilian neighborhoods? That's a clear violation of the law of land warfare."

- Posted by rmwarnick at April 29, 2008 6:13 PM ET:

"I am not a lawyer, so this is just a guess. If you fire artillery and kill more civilians than you do enemy combatants, that seems excessive to me. Only my opinion. "

You just pled guilty. You accused the forces on the ground of comiting a war crime without having the proof to back it up. Yet you now admit to not having facts, just your opinion.

All you have is your opinion based on the reporting so far. Reporting that is inconclusive and lacking the details to come to any conclusion. Yet you accused the troops on the ground of commiting a crime from your comfy beltway office based on what? A feeling?...

When you accuse someone of a crime, you had better have hard fact to back it up. If you don't, then you have committed the crime....

Posted by Tyrone at April 29, 2008 7:17 PM ET:

I agree that rmwarnick is simply a troll. His primary premise is that Sadr City should be left alone when he says "It's hard for me to understand how attacking Sadr City is good strategy." This is rope a dope troll language - open ended opinion with no facts.

The premise for a state or country is that only the government can use force to accomplish its edicts. Whenever there exist militias who can also use force, one doesn't really have a state. If the militias are controlling Sadr City, then they are in violation of the concept of statehood for Iraq. One option for eliminating them are to ask them politely to turn in their (heavy) weapons and join the political process. This request has been made by the Iraqi government. Those who have not done so and are making war on coalition forces must be dealt with in an appropriate counterforce. No real progress towards a stable secure state can be made until all the militias and insurgents in Iraq are dealt with. The government of Iraq must be the only government in Iraq for there to be a State of Iraq.

Re: the civilian casualties in the Sadr city fighting ... the standard for hospitals in most of Iraq is to report all injuries and deaths of those arriving in civilian clothes as civilians. I saw a recent report of a couple of dozen males and a female and a child being brought into a hospital after a firefight (not sure on exact numbers, but you get the idea). The hospital reported 26 civilian wounded. A good guess would be that most of the males were militia involved in the fighting.

This rmwarnick is a troll pure and simple. He will only argue, not be convinced by logic, nor be reasonable. Best response to those creatures is usually to ignore their posts by not responding. Which is what I will do henceforth.

Posted by Freedom Now at April 29, 2008 7:40 PM ET:

If there is one thing that Islamist militants are good at it, it is killing innocent civilians or putting them in harms way. The term HUMAN SHIELD is lost on those who propagandize on their behalf.

The same sort of propaganda was used in the Al-Anbar province.

Yet the Sunni Arabs chose to support the U.S. rather than blood thirsty tyrants who impose Sharia Law on a secular society and target innocent civilians for assasination and kidnapping.

Posted by Richard1 at April 29, 2008 7:54 PM ET:

Please note that we are still taking indirect fire from Sadr City. It hasn't stopped.

Posted by KnightHawk at April 29, 2008 8:00 PM ET:


--
"Rmwarnick is a troll."
--
Yup, has made that perfectly clear.


Posted by Bill Roggio at April 29, 2008 8:12 PM ET:

If you all want to know why we delete comments and people are confused as to why, look no father than this thread.

You may disagree with rmwarnick's view of what happened in Sadr City, but you can do so without resorting to hurling insults. You all know the comments policy, yet you chose to attack rmwarnick as a troll and such.

I expect far better from those of you that did this. The next time I won't be so tolerant as to let this discussion go on.

We have a strict comments policy because we want an intelligent, adult discussion about the war. As soon as we let up, this happens. So now you shouldn't be surprised when your comments wind up in the can.

The comments policy is clearly stated. Read them and abide by them, or don't comment. Its as simple as that.

Posted by DAPolson at April 29, 2008 9:41 PM ET:

Gentlemen:

I have been reading with great interest the thread here and have been inspired by the rhetoric to toss my 2 cents in.
Our history is repleat instances similar theme as to what is occurring now. The folks who "feel" that if only we would be nice to them they will be nice to us have been around for a long time. They have a disproportionate amount of influence now because the media is in the tank for this mentality of "feel" first, think last. WWII we were ill prepared partly because of the pacifist movement in the '30s and a media who did not read what Hitler and his buddies had in mind. Even now you can show these folks what the Jihadists are saying they are going to do to us and they will find a way to rationalize this as our fault.
Our Military is acting professionally and with valor in a very difficult situation. Historically civilians have only really gotten a break in war since the Vietnam war. I can not now think of another nation who gives as much concern for civilian casualties as we do. Certainly none of the other many conflicts currently going on in the world is this a consideration.
This is a war for hearts and minds, both American and Iraqi. Propaganda is part of the game and the other side is very good at it. Unfortunately many of the "feel" good folks will believe our enemies instead of our military, and this is truly sad. I can understand why too, Lyndon Johnson and his minyons were not exactly truthful with the American people in another war a long long time ago. Johnson tried to micro manage a war from DC when he should have either gotten out or let the military loose either way a lot less people would have been killed.
We must not again make the mistake of the past by sending our troops into harms way with such rules of engagement that they become ineffective. The "feel" folks will always be with us and truly believe in thier hearts that all we needed to do was talk nicely to Bin Laden or Saddam.
History has shown the "feel" good folks to be wrong time after time. We need to have compassion for their wrong headedness and use our energies to be ready to clean up their mess as has always been the case in the past.

Posted by Joseph Sixpack at April 29, 2008 10:08 PM ET:

Absurd statements made in bad faith generally should not be given the dignity of a response. When you do respond, you get what unfolded on this thread, regardless of what form that response takes.

Regarding the recent activity in Sadr City, does this in any way impact the ability of Sadr's militia to conduct operations elsewhere? By that, I mean, is this portion of Sadr's militia in Sadr City it's own entity that stays in Sadr City? Or is it capable of sending men and equipment to Hilla, Najaf, Basra, etc, in significant number and in short periods of time?

Posted by DAPolson at April 29, 2008 10:23 PM ET:

I was just reading an AP story about the "ambush" on Yahoo by Kim Gamel. In reading the story they apparently had a reporter on scene and a video crew on scene because they got both. That or they have a very ambidexterous reporter who can duck and shot film and take notes all at the same time. In the middle of an Ambush? Hmmmmmm. Could it be that the AP was there waiting for this to happen????? Does AP use Iraqi stringers who might be working for the Mahdi Army????? Of course the photo was of a 2 year old being dug out of the rubble and the film was of children running for cover. Dr. Goebbles would be proud.

Posted by Daryl at April 29, 2008 11:10 PM ET:

"You may disagree with rmwarnick's view of what happened in Sadr City, but you can do so without resorting to hurling insults. You all know the comments policy, yet you chose to attack rmwarnick as a troll and such."

Understood, Bill. Appreciate this blog and your reporting. I agree this is a very civil board with intelligent discussions. I am not a big internet board poster, but I don't think the term "troll" is meant as an insult. It is simply a term to describe someone who is trying to disrupt a good board discussion with needlessly provocative posts. People are just calling a spade a spade when referring to remwarnick as a troll. It's a way the boards try to police themselves.

I support your efforts to keep the conversation polite, civil and mature. Just wanted to make a point about the term "troll". Keep up the good work!

Posted by Neo at April 29, 2008 11:25 PM ET:

OK guy's!

Let's not test our host's patience any further. Time to move along to another topic.

Posted by jeandon at April 29, 2008 11:48 PM ET:

Thank god warrnick is no longer an officer, if he ever was, with this caliber of fighter we'd have lost long ago.

Our finest generation, doing a great service for the world, methodically incinerated entire cities with little worry about collateral casualties. Recall Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and others.

Posted by AMac at April 30, 2008 12:00 AM ET:

Pay attention to what Neo said at 11:25pm !

Posted by Ogrepete at April 30, 2008 12:21 AM ET:

I believe that the Iraqi government is finally doing what it can to exert control over its sovereign territory. Having militias control pieces of your country is no way to run a country. Democrats in Congress have been talking about how wimpy the Iraqi government is/was. These recent military operations by the Iraqi army (backed up by or flanked by US and British advisors and/or units) are necessary for two reasons; negotiating with a terrorist is only asking for more terrorism, and exerting sovereignty over its own soil is a must for any nation who wishes to remain a nation.

Posted by ME at April 30, 2008 1:09 AM ET:

Given the recent fighting in Sadr city its easy to over look the fundamental changes in Iraq. An Iraqi planned and lead operation appears to have largly reclaimed Basra from militias (I suspect predominantly Sadrs militia). US forces have engaged and killed large numbers of Sadrs fighters in Sadr city itself and there appears to minimal backlash in Kut, Hilla, Najaf, Karbala, Nassayiyah et al across the South. Three years ago such a brazen assult would have sparked large marches in support of Sadr and possibly attempted power grabs in the Shia holy cities. It seems Sadrs star has faded a lot and the Iraqi government is capitalizing on this. Sadr seems wounded.

Posted by Trivr at April 30, 2008 1:36 AM ET:

I'm struck by the utter foolishness of our enemy in Iraq especially the Mahdi army. These thugs rush out in their t-shirts and tennis shoes to pick a fight with the most advanced military on the planet. The kill ratios always seem to be completely lopsided yet they keep coming back for more. It's like they can't wait to get up in the morning and run headlong straight into our big guns. Cannon Fodder!

Their deaths are accomplishing nothing and they're now being isolated politically and losing support from the locals. I keep asking myself, at what point do they start asking themselves....what's the point?

Posted by Mark Pyruz at April 30, 2008 2:22 AM ET:

Were these combinations of weapons platforms (including the MLRS) employed due to weather grounding coalition air assets? Or were they found to be a more effective means of firepower, against the targets they were directed towards? This question also applies to the formation of rubble that is of advantage to the defender, caused by destruction from certain types of ordinance dropped from air power.

Great reporting, and appreciate the enforcement of the comments policy.

Posted by Sam at April 30, 2008 3:42 AM ET:

The Associated Press is headlining a story about this crushing defeat of the Sadrists like this:

"Militiamen ambush drives back US patrol in Sadr City"

Posted by DJ Elliott at April 30, 2008 4:19 AM ET:

Joseph Sixpack

JAM tried to act thruout the south and across Baghdad in March. By 01Apr, they were down to Basrah and Sadr City. Rolled up everywhere else. Just review the articles since 25 March and you can see the progression. And notice the protesters against JAM in many of those cities...

There are still cleanup ops, in Basrah and Kut especially. But, Sadr City is the serious last refuge for JAM.

I do not see a further push into Sadr City until the mop-up in Basrah is done and 1st IA Div is available for redeployment. Sadr City, at this time, is an economy of force operation. Mostly the 42nd and 44th IA Infantry Brigades supported by 35th Tank Brigade.

The US contribution is only a brigade strength force supporting the IA's three brigades. Mostly security for the engineers putting up the wall.

The IA is fully committed and is cleaning up the easier and smaller pockets first before taking on the headache of Sadr City.

DAPolson

Most of the press from Iraq is from Iraqi stringers, and the MSM does not vet them worth talking about. So they have no clue who they are really working for. Inflitrating into the press is SOP for Iranian surogates and any terrorist organization....

Posted by Rhyno327/lrsd at April 30, 2008 7:49 AM ET:

The use of the MLRS system is not wat you saw during Desert Storm. This is a totally different animal that goes under a different acronym. I will say no more, but these guys hit wat they are aiming at.

Posted by Joe Six-Pack at April 30, 2008 10:46 AM ET:

This is the most informed site that I have found. EXCELLENT! Yes, my personal rule is to attack the position, not the person.

Atrocities occur in all wars. Not that this is a good thing. Warfare lends itself to not being very nice. A relationship exists between the amount of training and atrocities committed. Generally, the more thorough the training, the fewer the atrocities.

Wartime news reporting is historically inaccurate. U.S. reporting tends to be very good at political reporting, but does not understand the fundamentals of warfare very well.

Posted by Colin at April 30, 2008 1:37 PM ET:

One thing that was missed in this discussion is how artillery used for urban combat in Iraq.

When firing at an enemy-occupied building the weapon chosen is based in the smallest warhead size that is large enough to damage the building's foundations and cause it to collapse in on itself.

This tactic is why you see so many pictures of one collapsed building while the buildings to either side of it have comparatively minor damage.

Posted by Michael at April 30, 2008 5:42 PM ET:

Bill,

Understood.

Posted by Blackopp7 at March 14, 2011 7:31 AM ET:

Ok I'd like to agree with neo on the whole war crime and "strategic error" that guy calls it... Were u even there? Because I was... U want specs.. It wasn't air burst it was fuze delay to blow up inside the building to reduce collateral damage. No civilians were killed during that strike. And it was a 200 lb warhead 9 ft long that can penetrate Up to four feet of reinforced concrete and if it gets lost from the GPS for some strange reason, not likely, but if it does it has what's called a "BIP" ballistic impact point where it disarms And buries itself 6-8 ft in the ground and completly disengages the war head. The military did a perfect job cause we got thier main cache of rockets, weapons, Mortars everything. You sir probably have never been to war.

Plz do not accuse me or my fellow soldiers n heroes that
fight for your very freedom. We followed orders. And we did not murder innocent civlians.

lost friends and brothers in arms in that fight. They shot at us first and use thier own kids to do suicide missions, so if you want to talk about war crime those terrorist don't believe in Geneva ok. Get ur facts straight and see the bigger picture...my unit set an all time low of indirect fire attacks on Iraqi and coalition forces in 08 we helped set up A democracy for them, women have more rights.. Those people like us and want a change I've spoken with many of them. So what a few ambulances got damaged half of em belonged to the US! It's a media backed fight the officer said. They used thier own people as shields and have raped many women trust me. I was a soldier over there n know first hand. We sent a message loud n clear we ain't Playing games. PROUD to be AMERICAN!