Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Perspective: Small Iraqi Outposts Add Risks for Soldiers

Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq, inspects Zaganiyah Patrol Base on April 29.

BAGHDAD -- The roof is like many others in western Baghdad, except for the American soldier hiding behind sandbags, training his rifle on the street below.

Outside the house, Iraqi children weave their tricycles between rolls of barbed wire. Inside, U.S. and Iraqi troops plot raids and collect information on their new neighbors.

The U.S. hopes that placing troops on small, discreet outposts like this one in the heart of one of Baghdad's toughest neighborhoods will pay off in goodwill from the public and tips on militant activity.

But there are risks: Two suicide bombers killed nine Americans at one such base north of Baghdad in April.

"We could build a fortress around ourselves that no one can penetrate, but then we will have lost," said Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, who commands the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery. His unit belongs to one of the five U.S. brigades sent here as part of President Bush's plan to stabilize Baghdad.

Read the rest at the LA Times