Five soldiers killed, 3 kidnapped near Mahmudiyah

Red cirle likely region of attack; green is Amiriya. Click map to view.

Al Qaeda attackers said to be moving towards Fallujah

Al Qaeda in Iraq conducted a successful assault on U.S. Army forces in Mahmudiya. “This morning at 4:44 a.m. (0044 GMT) in Iraq, a coalition force team of eight soldiers (seven Americans and an Iraqi army interpreter), were attacked 12 miles west of Mahmudiya. As a result of this attack, five soldiers were killed in action and three are currently missing,” noted the Multinational Forces Iraq press release. It is unclear if one of the captured is the Iraqi interpreter, or all are U.S. soldiers. “After an unmanned aerial vehicle observed two burning vehicles, a quick reaction force was dispatched, arriving on scene at 5:40 a.m.”

The location of the attack sits astride of the operational boundary of Multinational Forces West and the newly created Multinational Forces Division Central. The Army team was “in a static position, providing overwatch,” an unnamed U.S. Army officer serving in the region informed us this morning. The position was located “near a small village” and was “hit with an IED,” according to the Army officer.

According to reports, the terrorists are believed to be fleeing towards the Fallujah region. “Last we heard was that they were headed in this direction, presumed captured,” Gunnery Sergeant James Curtis of the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment told AFP. The 2/6 Marines are in the Fallujah region. Gunnery Sergeant Curtis’ company commander confirmed the checkpoints have been established.

“Curtis’s patrol threw up a checkpoint on a stretch of road on the eastern edge of the restive city of Fallujah in a bid to intercept the abductors if they attempted to take their captives there from western Baghdad,” AFP reported earlier today. “Some of the trucks and cars arriving at the roadblock were marked as having been searched, showing that other military checkpoints had been set up on the road, which connects the western Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib to Fallujah.” There are 3 main roads that lead to from Mahmudiya to Fallujah.

The decision to flee towards the northeast makes tactical sense. There are numerous Forward Operating Bases and battalion garrisons to the north and east [Baghdad and the “Fiyahs”], and south [Karbala], while Lake Razzazah lies directly east. The corridor in the northeast is relatively open until you approach Amiriya. The Marines have traditionally patrolled this region with a Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in the past, which do not set up static positions.

Amiriya remains a hot spot for al Qaeda and its allies in the region. In addition to U.S. ground forces, the full weight of U.S. air observation platforms will be employed in the search for the missing U.S. soldiers. Expect the Anbar Salvation Council to devote all available resources in an attempt to secure the release of the missing U.S. soldiers.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Deborah Aylward says:

    All I have to add is a thought carried over from another site which is that I hope that it’s Shi’ite extremists who have the Soldiers and not Sunni’s. The only thing I have to offer as support are prayers for the Soldiers and their families, the ground and air forces conducting the search, and for all our Troops and their families. Know that this Canadian stands beside you all. God Bless.
    Veritas et Fidelis Semper.

  • Tony says:

    From what I’m hearing this terrorist act took place in a Sunni stronghold.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Sunni areas.

  • Elroy Jetson says:

    May the Marines find them safe and sound, and may they deliver justice to the terrorists.
    Thoughts and prayers go out to those who perished, those who were taken capitve, and their families.

  • Steve Kulik says:

    What is with Army officers sending undermanned units into Indian Country, and putting them in a static position to boot? The officer that ordered this action should have to personally go to the homes of each of the fallen heros to beg for forgiveness and then be discharged. You would think that the Army would have learned from their last failed mission which allowed captives to be taken.

  • Denis Eugene Sullivan says:

    I don’t think there enough information yet to draw conclusions on this incident.
    The US Marines Combined Action Patrols in Vietnam experienced a similar situation. Small patrols (squad-size) are effective against insurgencies in increasing the areas patrolled and establishing relationships with the indigenous population. But they were always vulnerable to superior-sized hostiles.
    Just because you’re on ambush, doesn’t mean you can’t be ambushed.

  • Anti-Herman says:

    If these are Marines, why are you so mad at the Army? This is combat. There will be casualties.
    Thank God, we didn’t have this mentality 65 years ago.

  • RTLM says:

    It makes me sick to think about the fate of the three abducted soldiers. Prayers for all five men them and their families.

  • RTLM says:

    Correction: Prayers for all EIGHT men and their families.

  • Fight4TheRight says:

    Yes, prayers go out to all of the families and more hopeful ones go to the captured, that they are found and returned safely.
    Mark my words. This recovery action will show the World what American Marines and American Soldiers are made of – this effort, to find the kidnapped soldiers, I believe, will be a HUGE signal to Al Qaeda that the “kidnap strategy” will be dealt with swift, complete American Justice.
    And if Al Qaeda wishes to repeat earlier trangressions and atrocities towards Americam military captives, then I only hope our Commanders over there loose the warriors upon them and “take them alive” will not be uttered.

  • Jody says:

    This really ticks me off. I hope U.S. forces rescue the soldiers that were taken. Then they should blow the neighborhood to which they were taken to bits. And if they find any Al Qaeda anywhere at any time, they should throw those human garbage one at a time (while the others watch) into a cage with some hungry lions. I think we need to get the journalists out and get a lot more ruthless. Any of those industrial shredders left over in Iraq? No prisoners, just shredded Al Qaeda. It’s not like they’d give any of our guys any decent treatment. Al Qaeda is not a Geneva Convention signatory, and doesn’t do anything to deserve it’s protection. All those young Americans over there trying to give a decent life to Iraqis, it just totally enrages me that people don’t see what good America is doing. It hurts me so much to think of moms and dads in America losing their beautiful sons and daughters. It was someone else who came up with the term, “more rubble, less trouble”, and I think that’s a great idea. Grrrrr!!! I’m not a military person, so maybe there are more effective ways to deal with this than what I would do, but I like to think that if I was in charge, there wouldn’t be any of these problems. Not for long, anyway (Dresden, Hiroshima…)
    -Jody from Canada

  • Tony says:

    I’m concerned with the rhetoric and the expectations.
    Of course every effort should be made to find them, no expense spared for however long it takes.
    All of us support that.
    But we must not equate success with their safe return. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, there will be good decades and bad decades. This is after all, a Long War.
    I recall that despite valiant efforts, the Israelis were unable to free their soldiers captured by Hezbollah despite massive bombing and a large war.
    There are no guarantees. We just have to pray and keep in mind that this war could take centuries.

  • Fight4TheRight says:

    Agreed. However, I do wish that we wouldn’t see these 5 to 8 man teams out there – Al Qaeda is adamant about capturing U.S. military and I just read an interview with an Al Qaeda operative in Iraq who states that it is extremely difficult to capture Americans because they patrol in such large numbers …the operative actually used the number 15 in referring to the size of American patrols.
    If this is an Al Qaeda aim, then it seems to me we are asking for this with these small patrols going out.
    But in the end, you are right, Tony – this is a long process – good days, bad days, stellar days and horrific days. I only hope certain members of Congress will get out of the way so our young men and women over there can do what they do so well.
    By the way, here is the link to the full interview of the Al Qaeda operative as it was posted at Counterterroism Blog:

  • Anti_herman says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but is this not the area east of Fallujah that Bill has discussed as Al Queda’s last Abnar stronghold?
    I would say we have to expect action in this area and then turn our attention to Dilaya.

  • Jim Rockford says:

    I hate to beat a dead horse, but aside from obviously prayers for those (all 8 and their families) involved this seems a political action. The enemy gets a vote. This seems a carefully planned operation to insure our political defeat.
    What would be the political impact of the Marines being paraded, tortured, and perhaps brutally killed on video? Isn’t that the objective of the enemy, to create in America a sense of an unstoppable enemy that we must surrender to? Never mind of course objective facts, merely emotions which appeal to our deeply feminized leadership class.
    Or will the enemy copy the Iranian strategy of parading hostages in front of the complicit Western Media to increase the sense of Western impotence and the urgency of surrendering to the enemy? It worked with the Brits. It worked with Jimmy Carter. It might work again with the feminized Congressional leadership.
    In any sense I don’t think this incident can be understood outside the political goals of the enemy to force a surrender by political actions. Our political class is weak and surrender minded. Already Captain Stone is on trial for holding the lives of Marines more valuable than that of civilians at Haditha (and is under trial btw by the Army leadership and the politicized, PC, and Surrender-caucus friendly leadership I personally see in the Army top brass).
    I somehow doubt that the Army leadership which seems to aim at all costs avoiding any civilian casualties or scandals of any kind will conduct much of a search. Costs (Media/Congressional investigations and witch hunts if any civilians complain) outweigh the benefits. These are the rules in the frankly failed and dysfunctional Army leadership which seeks to curry career objectives over duty to their soldiers.
    At any rate, I expect a desultory search hampered by PC fears of hurting careers by enraging Congress and the Media. A show on video somehow of the captured soldiers. Demands in Congress for an immediate pull-out and essentially, surrender.
    Our Soldiers and Marines have performed magnificently, never has there been seen such professionalism, courage, and heroism. And never has our political class so failed them.

  • Tony says:

    This terrorist kidnapping cannot be viewed strictly in political terms however.
    News reports today are stating that the last time soldiers went missing in the vicinity last year 8000 troops participated in the search for them.
    If we commit thousands of troops once again to the search, and it takes more than a few days, how would that affect deployments elsewhere in Iraq? We are already shorthanded in Diyala as you know.
    So this is not strictly a political move. If they are successful in hiding their captives for more than a few days, then this could have implications elsewhere in a context where an effeminate Congress is afraid to commit more troops, to a level of 250,000 or more.
    This is why I am not at all convinced there will be any videos at all for the next few months.
    There may well be videos. But that is not a foregone conclusion.

  • serurier says:

    How coalition just use 2 hummers in there ? that’s danger

  • Jack says:

    A dirty translator???

  • Neo-andertal says:

    Well if they ever needed an excuse to go into Amiriyah and the other Al Quada enclaves in the area and turn the place upside down, they have one.

  • Dan Smith says:

    I have no doubt that AQI plans to use the captured Marines in some kind of macabre video production. I only hope that end comes swiftly for them because we do not have a prayer of rescuing them alive. My second prayer is that those responsible are dealt with quickly and out of sight of CNN videocameras.

  • Michael says:

    I’ve read they have 4,000 mobilized in the search. As a civilian, this is a reminder how deadly and dangerous their assignments are. I hope and pray they find them. And prayers for them and their families. I am always moved by the courageous individuals that sacrifice so much. We take so much for granted here. Unlike the enemy who sacrifice women, children and innocents in death, our forces have always stood the higher ground to protect and liberate the oppressed. It continues to come home daily how much we need our forces between these brutal fanatics(that worship death more than life) and our society at large. It reminds me how much our armed services and their families need our support as well.
    Thanks to all currently and who have served in the past for your unwavering and steadfast resolve in these wars against such insanity around the world. And for getting information out at how deadly the enemy truly is and how our forces are combatting them. Thanks again for standing between us and the enemy.

  • Mike says:

    Marines were not the ones captured. It was an army unit. The Marines are in charge of the AO where the main search is happening.
    This may be off-topic but there is something wrong with Army SOP. This is the third time that an Army unit has been attacked and soldier have been taken captive.

  • Wild Bill says:

    If and I know it is a big if, it took the quick reaction force almost one hour to actually get to the scene that seems a little long. I would think that there is a force loaded and ready to go either by helo or ground. I have no idea of where the nearest FOB is to the location of the downed soldiers so maybe at best speed it took an hour to drive to that location. But an hour seems like a long time. If the attacking force drove away at only 40mph and they had a one hour head start you can imagine how many square miles the coalition had to start searching.
    Wild Bill out

  • bnelson44 says:

    We don’t know anyone has been taken captive yet. Last year they took two bodies and mutilated and boobie trapped them.
    If there were only 2 vehicles, then the force may have been a soft target.
    We just don’t know right now.

  • Mike Hollins says:

    One way to deter seizures like this–and the gross abuse or murder that usually follows–would be to change the way we deal with war criminals. Almost everything the various opponents of the U.S. do in Iraq is a war crime. Holding them in camps is not enough.
    Nor is taking them to Guantanamo, where foreign savages whose mission in life is to murder us wholesale enjoy an outrageous overprotection that nothing in our constitution requires. Islamist vermin benefit from the naive largesse of an American people grown shockingly silly and ignorant of its own laws. What contempt they must have for people who extend presumed war criminals most of the legal protections its own citizens enjoy, when accused of an ordinary crime! And should, by some off chance, one of them ever be sentenced to death after years of legal red tape, he would be gently put to sleep.
    Because these people commit their war crimes in Iraq, why should Iraq not have jurisdiction over them? Let the Iraqi government take charge of every presumed war criminal captured there, whether his victims were Iraqis or Americans. Let that government then subject these people to its own military tribunals.
    The result would be a summary process, which–before America shamefully and irrationally began to cosset its deadliest and most immoral enemies–is all the law of war was ever thought to require. The guilty would be quickly convicted and sent to the gallows. These executions should be recorded and shown on television. Many jihadists are prepared to die, but I notice they always imagine a glamorous end as a martyr. I doubt that many would find it quite so glamorous to be hooded and strung up by a rope, for all the world to see.
    Mike Hollins
    Los Angeles

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Mike Hollins
    Most of the detention and trial proceedures in Iraq are handing off to GoI.
    Read the weekly CCCI sentances. When they have evidence/witnesses they are tried in Iraqi courts. Amnesty International is already complaining about the rate of executions by the GoI.
    Iraq is a soveriegn nation and their Judicial system does employ hanging for capitol crimes such as murder. CCCI extended its investigative Judges into Ramadi last week.
    Gtmo is for very special cases that need long term interogation. The population there is dropping steadily as the Iraqis take over jurisdiction, detention, interogation, trial and punishment.
    If these AQI kidnapers are caught, they will face hanging…


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