“18 months behind where Mosul is right now”

Challenges of the wilderness

Here’s a great story by Margaret Friedenauer in the Fairbanks Daily-Miner on the 4-14 Cavalry of the 172nd Stryker Brigade. They’re in Rawah in the Euphrates river valley southwest of the bulk of the brigade, which is mostly based in Mosul.

At Rawah, the 4-14, which includes the Bravo Co. of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, has dealt with an enemy with a very particular modus operatus–improvised explosive devices.

IED’s are not only more prevalent here than in Mosul, they also pack an extra punch. They are harder to locate when hidden in sand and can contain a large amount of the same or combination of explosives.

Freitag said he’s lost 14 Stryker vehicles to combat damage, mostly from IED’s.

But the soldiers are also becoming keen to the techniques. First Lt. Gabriel Scheinbaum said soldiers develop an instinct for noticing something amiss or seeing when something is not right in the sand.

“It really has turned into a CSI investigation for our guys,” he said.

The area’s Iraqi army battalion just set up shop a couple of months ago, and there are no police. The US troops are trying to convince the locals that they’re not there to take charge, they’re there to provide security so that the Iraqis can take charge.

Friedenauer is doing great work. Go read.

I’d also be curious to know more about the “lost 14 Strykers” statement. Nothing I’ve seen indicates that that number means “destroyed”. Probably “seriously damaged” (which depends on your definition of ‘seriously’).