Thursday, March 1, 2007

Surge News: Soldiers Move to Outposts Throughout Baghdad

This from the Washington Post, discussing the move out of large cantonements into smaller bases throughout Baghdad occurpied in part by their Iraqi counterparts.

Informed by counterinsurgency theory that calls for placing units full-time among the people they want to sway, U.S. troops are using their new bases to work with their Iraqi counterparts, uncover more battlefield intelligence and reinforce, by their sustained presence, the message that they will not allow militants unfettered freedom of movement.

These little combat outposts, they are more exposed: Your routes in here are very limited, and they're definitely watching us," Staff Sgt. Marcel Weaver, 35, said of the insurgents operating in the neighborhood around the base. A grenade "attack is coming, I can guarantee that."

U.S. soldiers have opened 15 of about 30 planned "joint security stations" in the capital. They have also set up an unspecified number of smaller "combat outposts." U.S. military spokesmen did not respond to requests for information about how many such outposts are operating in Baghdad or how many times they have been attacked.
. . . .
Some American soldiers say the days patrolling the streets and nights drinking tea and playing dominoes with the Iraqis have fashioned a fledgling camaraderie. The Americans also have grown closer to one another while enduring the spartan lodgings -- sleeping on cots, living without showers or toilets, burning their waste -- that feel far removed from the buffet dinners and air-conditioned gyms on the Camp Liberty base, near the Baghdad airport, they left behind.

"Liberty's like being in Kuwait," Torres said. "If we stayed at Liberty the whole time, then we're not bringing the fight to them. This at least gives us an intimidation factor, knowing we're out here on the grind ready to take it to them."
Kuehl said he believes that over time, operating out of smaller bases will be safer for his soldiers as the neighbors grow to appreciate their backyard policemen and act as an alarm system about impending trouble.

"We're going to get more information, and when we get that information, we can target better, and if we target better, we can get more bad guys off the street and we don't hurt the locals while we do it," he said. "And the other part of getting out here, and I think it's something we've missed in the mission for a while . . . is our purpose to protect the people."

U.S. commanders say they choose the location of the security stations and combat outposts based on where soldiers can most disrupt the insurgency. Kuehl said he moved a platoon into the second floor of the al-Khadraa outpost to stop insurgent weapons traffic through the area.

Read the whole story here.

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