Thursday, May 24, 2007

Perspective: In Baghdad, fighting their 'Alamo'

Above: Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division in Amiriyah in March

BAGHDAD — The 16-man platoon from Ft. Hood, Texas, uses a decrepit Iraqi national police compound for its outpost. Chickens, turkeys and sheep laze on the lawn, drenched by an overflowing septic tank. Each day, the soldiers venture out for a few hours onto the dangerous streets of what was once a fashionable Sunni Arab neighborhood.

Led by a 24-year-old West Point graduate, the Americans weave their Humvees among villas commandeered by Sunni fighters who snipe at them from rooftops, bury bombs in the streets and evade searches with the help of two men dubbed the "moped twins," who relay the platoon's position by walkie-talkie at nearly every turn.

The troops stay overnight in makeshift quarters, nursing their wounds and attempting to hold onto any gains they've made through the day in the now-downtrodden Amiriya and Khadra districts.

The latest U.S.-Iraq security plan, based on occupying neighborhood bases and having close contact with the community, is nowhere more intense and focused than here in west Baghdad, where Iraqi forces battle daily with homegrown Sunni Muslim insurgents and foreign Islamist fighters.

Read the rest at the LA Times