Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Michael Yon from the Middle of Operation Arezzo in Basra

Michael Yon has some great posts up on his imbed with British Army units (these are the real soldiers - not the British marines and naval units who apparently have lost the plot of what it means to be a soldier). He covers their operations against the Iranian sponsored Shia militants in Basra.

A dramatic surge in IDF attacks (indirect fire: rockets and mortars) began here in September 2006, subsequent an increase in British troops. Locals cite Iranian influence behind the attacks, while British officers say this is the most IDF’d base in Iraq. The dozens of bombs that exploded on the base in the first five days of my embed with a British infantry platoon punctuated those claims.

. . . They opened on us with massive small-arms fire from many directions, and RPGs. One RPG slammed into a British vehicle and exploded in the slot armor, but the vehicle took the hit, and the men inside continued to fight. The enemy pounded at one of the platoons with at least one large machine gun, possibly a 12.7 mm, which can blow a man in half and easily defeat British or American armor. But soldiers in that platoon responded with blistering fire, and silenced the gun.

The ensuing firefights were vigorous. As more enemy joined and the battle progressed, British elements maneuvered and fired, making adjustments to the plan to mold the fight. With no helicopters above to help develop ground awareness or to help shape the combat by engaging targets, British commanders directed their elements by map and ground-feel. Having no helicopters also left rooftops open to the enemy, adding another dimension to the combat.

Read the entire post here. It's a riveting read. I am a little confused with the rise in Iranian sponsored violence in Basra just as the Brits are drawing down their forces in Iraq. It would seem smarter to try and wait out the Brits rather then increase the violence. Perhaps someone with more insight into the Iranian efforts in Basra can explain this one.

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