Legacy Media seems to have suddenly discovered Baqubah, capital of the Diyala province northeast of Baghdad.
First, the New York Times has this: Attacks Surge as Iraq Militants Overshadow City:
While the –surge” plays out in Baghdad just 35 miles to the south, Baquba has emerged as a magnet for insurgents from around the country and, perhaps, the next major headache for the American military.
Some insurgents have moved into Baquba to escape the escalation in Baghdad. But the city has been attracting insurgents for years, particularly after American officials in Baghdad proclaimed it and surrounding Diyala Province relatively pacified over a year ago and drew down their troop presence.
Let’s think about this description of the situation for a moment. Boiled down, it seems to say that Baqubah has long been a bit of a problem but that it’s recently become worse, at least in part because of the “surge” in Baghdad. The fact that US troops were drawn down over a year ago after things looked calmer eased the return of the insurgents, militiamen, and terrorists.
Seems to Murdoc that the “surge” of troops (more boots on the ground) coupled with more aggressive tactics and a continued presence after an area is cleared would address these issues. Which is exactly what the new plan is doing. (see: The Diyala Operations, which has several links to Bill Roggio’s excellent ongoing coverage of the situation in Diyala)
Meanwhile, the Washington Post gives us: U.S. Bolstering Force in Deadly Diyala, Violence Against Troops Has Risen Sharply:
The Stryker battalion reinforcements showed up March 13 and plunged into Baqubah, about 35 miles northeast of the capital. Their first day of reconnaissance turned into more than eight hours of urban combat against snipers, roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades.
“This is the most stressful environment we’ve been in, easily,” said Capt. Ben Richards, a company commander with the Stryker unit, which fought in Tall Afar, Mosul, Anbar province and Baghdad before coming to Diyala.
As a sign of the province’s strategic importance, almost a full brigade of between 2,000 and 3,000 additional soldiers is on the way to Diyala to interdict the volatile terrain between Baghdad and Baqubah, soldiers said.
U.S. Army Soldiers prepare to enter a house during a cordon and search for weapons caches and insurgents in Old Baqubah, Iraq, April 2, 2007. The Soldiers are from the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stacy L. Pearsall) (Released)
The scuttlebutt about another brigade makes Murdoc wonder if the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, might not be headed in that direction. The vehicles should be arriving in Kuwait (despite a pathetic attempt by American quasi-insurgents to derail the deployment) as we speak. Give them a couple of weeks and then we’ll see.
It appears that Baghdad operations have been fairly successful in that a lot of bad guys are popping up in what’s being called the “outer belt” area. While the Stryker 5-20 IN has been busy prepping the battlespace in Diyala, other Strykers, Apocalypse Troop of the 1-14th Cavalry, has been attached to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, operating out of the new FOB Echo as part of Operation Wyatt Earp in Diwaniyah south of Baghdad.
As insurgents and terrorists are fleeing or being flushed from Baghdad, we’re giving chase. And the Stryker is just the vehicle to give it.