Keeps on ticking

Troops kill 13 in fierce 12-hour firefight near Baqubah

Army Times has a story on a 12-hour battle in Baqubah, northeast of Baghdad. Soldiers from the Big Red One rolled into town to answer the challenge of a local leader who vowed he’d engage any coalition forces who entered the city.

Adding fuel to the fire, a pair of area Mosques were known to have been preaching continued violence against coalition forces, defying pleas by sheiks and the governor’s office to stop.

“If they want to work with us, we’ll work with them. If they want to preach hate, we’ll fight them tooth and nail,” [3rd BCT commander Col. Dana] Pittard told the province’s deputy governor a few days before the operation, but the violence continued.

There are an average of 25 attacks on coalition forces every week in the western Diyala province, but the last straw came June 16 when a civil affairs team meeting with the town’s mayor was ambushed by rocket-propelled grenades.

Local Iraqis claim that hired fighters from Fallujah and Najaf have been coming to Baqubah to fight American forces. 1st Infantry soldiers entered the city on Thursday with a dozen vehicles including some Bradleys and three times the basic combat load of ammo, commandeered a local house for $200, and waited for the engagement to come.

And come it did.

The troop taunted the bad guys by playing the division’s Big Red One song, and songs by Metallica and Toby Keith on a giant loudspeaker.

Just four hours later — just before 10 a.m. — they got their fight when incoming small arms fire broke the morning calm and sent townspeople scattering for cover.

The Army Times page includes a Real Media video of the action. I haven’t checked it out, but Frontline Photos for June 18 includes many pictures of the action, including this one of a Bradley hit and damaged by an RPG:


The story says the Bradley was “crippled” but the caption says the Bradley, despite the hit, brought more supplies to the troops. Here are a couple more:

Baqubah1.jpg Baqubah2.jpg

They estimate that about 100 insurgents attacked the 45 US troops, and close to 100,000 rounds were fired. 13 insurgents were confirmed killed and the rest finally broke off the engagement that evening. If 100,000 rounds seems like a lot of ammo to fire for 13 confirmed kills, there’s one other statistic that needs mentioning.

There were no US casualties.

The 120-degree heat certainly took a toll, but our guys were in what amounts to Indian country for 12 hours fighting irregulars brought there specifically to stir up trouble. We killed a few, probably wounded many more, and scattered them.

Big Red One!