The Citizens Have had Enough

The Iraqi people are standing up and taking back their homes, their cities, their lives! 1st Cavalry News

Iraqi, U.S. forces in Adhamiyah try to build on momentum of residents’ stand against terrorism

By Sgt. Mike Pryor
2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs 
   

          BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers operating in the Adhamiyah District of the Iraqi capital used to wager bets on what kind of attack they would come under when patrolling near the Abu Hanifa Mosque.
          “We’d be like, I wonder what we’ll get hit with today?” said Maj. Jim Schaffer of Cleveland, Ohio, a civil affairs team leader who has been based in Adhamiyah since February.
          Small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bombs struck patrols traveling near the mosque on such a regular basis that Schaffer and the other Soldiers were convinced insurgents had made the Abu Hanifa their base.
          But when the mosque was finally raided and the terrorists thrown out, it wasn’t Coalition Forces or Iraqi Soldiers who did it. It was the residents of Adhamiyah.
          On Aug. 5, a group of citizens, fed-up with terrorist activity in their community, stormed the Abu Hanifa Mosque and expelled the insurgents, beginning a chain of events that led coalition forces to detain more than 50 suspected terrorists and seize five large weapons caches over the next two days.
          The surprising turn of events was welcome news for coalition forces in the area.
          “I think (the people) were just saying, enough is enough,” said Fort Knox, Ky., native Lt. Col. Jeff Broadwater, commander of the Fort Stewart, Ga.-based 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment “Sabers,” the U.S. unit responsible for security in Adhamiyah.
          “I think it was a tipping point,” Broadwater said.
          The challenge for Coalition Forces now is to capitalize on the situation, and not let the momentum created by the uprising go to waste, Broadwater said.
          One way the Sabers are exploiting the situation is by stepping up combat operations against insurgents. As more tips and information have started to come in following the uprising, U.S. and Iraqi forces have responded by conducting nightly targeted raids. But another, equally important component in the strategy to drive a wedge between the people of Adhamiyah and the terrorists is the large number of reconstruction projects the squadron is mounting.
          “Now is a critical point,” said Maj. Ike Sallee, the squadron’s operations officer. “The most important thing for us now is that we build more than we destroy. All of our offensive operations have to be balanced by (humanitarian efforts).”
          The Sabers took over responsibility for Adhamiyah just last month. Yet the unit has already approved almost $500,000 in development projects. Some of those currently underway include micro-loans for economic revitalization, sewage and trash removal, the employment of a local security force for a hospital, and numerous school rehabilitation projects, said 1st Lt. Chadwick Knight, the squadron’s targeting officer.
          “The non-kinetic operations we have here are extremely important to our mission,” Knight said.
          But the Soldiers also realize their resources are limited.
          “We’re doing what we can, but we can’t do it ourselves,” Broadwater said. “The government of Iraq has to come in.”
          To that end, the Sabers have been focusing on strengthening their relationships with local leaders and government officials, such as members of the Neighborhood and District Advisory Councils.
          For the Sabers, local government issues are as crucial to mission success as military operations, and are treated with equal importance. On one recent afternoon, sniper fire in the Antar Square area made it unsafe for some of the staff at the DAC to walk home from their office. Soldiers from Troop C came to their rescue, providing a dismounted escort and leading the frightened group of men, women, and children through the square safely.
          “Actions speak louder than words, and doing this stuff shows the people ‘we care more about you than you think we do,’” Sallee said.
In the past, Coalition Forces have struggled to get that message out, and there is still a lot of distrust among the people of Adhamiyah towards the U.S. and Iraqi Soldiers. It’s something that Sabers know won’t change overnight, Sallee said.
          “It takes a long time to change people’s perceptions,” he said.
          But the Sabers hope the mosque uprising may be an indication that opinion in the community has begun to shift in their favor.
          To find out, St. Louis native Sgt. Aaron Johnson, a tactical psychological operations team sergeant was out on the streets in the days after the Mosque uprising to gauge the mood of the people. At the market across from the Abu Hanifa, he struck up a conversation with a group of men sitting outside a coffee house.
          Reaction to the uprising at the mosque was mixed. Some of the men said the weapons that had been discovered in the mosque had been planted there by Iraqi Soldiers. Others were happy that the mosque had been liberated from terrorists, but wanted to talk about other problems like the lack of electricity.
          But other residents seemed emboldened by the news. Hajji Kasem, a local businessman, said he was glad the terrorists were out of the mosque, and he had plans to organize a neighborhood watch to keep them out. He said he was happy to work with Coalition Forces, even though some of his friends would question the relationship.
          “They say, why do you work with these guys? But I just want Adhamiyah to get better,” Kasem said.  “All I care about is helping my people.”

St. Louis native Sgt. Aaron Johnson, a psychological operations sergeant attached to the Fort Stewart, Ga.-based 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, talks to Adhamiyah residents in a shop across from the Abu Hanifa Mosque Aug. 8. Johnson was trying to get a sense of the mood of the community after residents rose up and ousted terrorists from the mosque Aug. 5. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs)

St. Louis native Sgt. Aaron Johnson, a psychological operations sergeant attached to the Fort Stewart, Ga.-based 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, talks to Adhamiyah residents in a shop across from the Abu Hanifa Mosque Aug. 8. Johnson was trying to get a sense of the mood of the community after residents rose up and ousted terrorists from the mosque Aug. 5. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs)

St. Louis native Sgt. Aaron Johnson, a psychological operations sergeant attached to the Fort Stewart, Ga.-based 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, talks to a local Adhamiyah man across from the street from the Abu Hanifa Mosque Aug. 8. Johnson was trying to get a sense of the mood of the community after residents rose up and ousted terrorists from the mosque Aug. 5. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs)

St. Louis native Sgt. Aaron Johnson, a psychological operations sergeant attached to the Fort Stewart, Ga.-based 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, talks to a local Adhamiyah man across from the street from the Abu Hanifa Mosque Aug. 8. Johnson was trying to get a sense of the mood of the community after residents rose up and ousted terrorists from the mosque Aug. 5. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs)Lamirada, Calif., native Pfc. Josh Nelson (right), of the Fort Stewart, Ga.-based 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, shares a laugh with a local man while out on patrol near the Abu Hanifa Mosque in Baghdad's Adhamiyah District Aug. 8. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs)

Lamirada, Calif., native Pfc. Josh Nelson (right), of the Fort Stewart, Ga.-based 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, shares a laugh with a local man while out on patrol near the Abu Hanifa Mosque in Baghdad’s Adhamiyah District Aug. 8. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs)

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6 Responses to The Citizens Have had Enough

  1. “…St. Louis native Sgt. Aaron Johnson…”

    Yaaaayyyy! Wooohoooo!!! Let’s hear it for the Show Me State’s Missouri Mules!!! Way to go!!! Makin’ us proud!!! Woooohoooooo!!!!

    Okay, you’re right, I better switch to decaff…

    Cheers

  2. Maggi Cook says:

    It is impossible to turn on the TV or radio, pick up a newspaper, or even log-on to the internet without a self-appointed expert telling the rest of us why we need to get out of Iraq or why the US will have “no choice” but to leave. After all, that’s the polls say we all want.

    Amazingly enough, I’ve yet to hear the Iraqi father whose toddler’s burns were treated by a squad of Army Infantry doing house to house searches voice this same opinion. Or the middle aged widow who moved into on of Bagdhad’s most dangerous neighborhoods immediately after the American’s moved in because, as she told the squad’s translator, she knew what remained of her family would be safe now that the Americans were there. When she was questioned by the Sgt. she showed him her cell phone. The last four calls were made to the help line.

    One thing we can agree on is that this war has been mismanaged from the start. It’s the multi-car wreck in the south baound lane that slows the north bound traffic as everyone wants to take a look. Unlike Iraq, we don’t leave the victims of the wreck to fend for themselves because EMS and other rescue personnel have been there “too long” or because the driver that caused the wreck hasn’t been trusted by anyone for awhile.

    What would have happened in the third year of our own Civil War when General Grant’s forces suffered 66,000 casaulties in 6-weeks of the Overland Campaign if President Lincoln had called a halt to the fighting and withdrawn the Union forces from Virginia? Between 1861 and 1865 3% of the population – 970,000 people – were killed; 620,000 were soldier deaths. Should Lincoln have pulled the Union troops north of the Mason-Dixon line? I imagine that’s what his media advisers and the polls would have wanted.

    Reconstruction didn’t end unil 1877, 12-years after the shooting stopped. When our own Congress in 2007 can’t reach a compromise or agree on anything more significant than names for federal building; when our own representatives feel completely justified in placing, and passing, anoymnous funding for museums and bridges to nowhere, we hold th Iraqi government to a completely different and higher standard. And then when things don’t go like we want them, we stomp our feet like a two-year old who doesn’t want to eat spinanch. The Union Army was in the South for 12-years, but we think today’s soldiers should leave Iraq after 4-years.

    Fifty-four years after the shooting stopped in Korea, and only twenty-years after the first direct and fair elections in 1987 in South Korea, there are still US troops on the border with North Korea maintaining a peace of sorts. Why do we expect Iraq to be different?

    We ned to accept that we are going to be in Iraq for a while, and that the father’s and widow’s in Iraq want us to be there.

  3. cavmom says:

    Doc??? Are you doing alright? Are you still flying high on caffeine? 😀 Actually, I love your enthusiasm!

  4. cavmom says:

    Maggi ~ When did Amarica become so impatient? There is absolutely no way to turn Iraq into a quick-fixin microwave war.

    We know this, as do our leaders in Washington. However, many are more bent on proving that the president is wrong, than trying to work out a solution.

    On a positive note, I got a wonderful email from my favorite Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) TX:

    ” Dear Mrs. J******:

    Thank you for contacting me regarding support of our men and women in uniform. I welcome your thoughts and comments on this issue.

    I have consistently voted to provide the necessary funding, equipment and facilities our Armed Forces require and agree that in these critical times it is important to stand united behind our troops and our commander-in-chief.

    I appreciate hearing from you and please do not hesitate to keep in touch on any issue of concern to you.

    Sincerely,
    Kay Bailey Hutchison”

    I suggest we keep in contact with those who represent us in Washington. Let them know where we stand and ask them to stand up for us!

  5. Paige says:

    I have two boys, one almost five and the other almost two. My husband is a former Marine (if there is such a thing) who served in Desert Shield, Desert Storm and humanitarian efforts in Somalia. He wants us to raise our boys to become Marines someday. Whether they do or not, I thank GOD EVERY DAY that our forces (Marines/Army/Navy/Air Force) are doing what they are doing now, making the incredible sacrifices they are making now, ESPECIALLY in the face of the sheer stupidity and defeatism they face from back home. My prayer is that my boys will not someday have to face the same enemies–because today’s forces will have defeated them. I thank God for mothers and fathers who have raised the people serving today; our servicemembers are some of the very finest people our country has produced and the rest of us really aren’t worthy of their sacrifice. They have my respect, my admiration, my love, my prayers. Any servicemember of any color/religion/gender is welcome at our house in Albany (GA) for dinner when they come back. God be with you all.

  6. cavmom says:

    Paige~ It is people, such as you and your husband, who give me the much needed hope in the future of our country. Whether your sons decide to enlist or not, it is obvious that you are teaching them honor and resect. Qualities that will take them far and make them leaders amongst their peers.

    Give your family a big hug from us.

    Y’all ROCK!

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