Dispatches From Iraq: Battle for Hearts and Minds
Last Edited: Wednesday, 01 Aug 2007, 2:43 AM EDT
Created: Tuesday, 31 Jul 2007, 3:43 PM EDT
By Michael Yon
The Battle for Baqubah is still underway.
Small TICs [Troops In Contact] continue to occur, but those enemy attacks have had little effect since combat kicked off on June 19. As of July 30, we lost one soldier, while the enemy losses number about 100.
This battle is best measured not in the losses, but the gains.
The people of Baqubah have been demonstrably ecstatic. Other than in the Kurdish areas, I have never seen such overt gratitude from so many Iraqis. Iraqis continue pointing out Al Qaeda operatives and their hidden bombs.
Despite the fact that many Al Qaeda escaped, the success so far is overwhelmingly obvious. The challenge remains to make it stick, but the gains are undeniable and the sense of momentum is palpable.
Before the Battle for Baqubah, (Operation Arrowhead Ripper), thousands of refugees had streamed out of Baqubah and the surrounding towns. I’ve heard Iraqis throw around a number of 17,000 IDPs [Internally Displaced Iraqis], although I have no idea how accurate that is, if at all.
Two weeks after the start of Arrowhead Ripper, 3-2 SBCT was tracking just over a thousand IDPs, and since I shared a tent with the soldiers who did most of the counting (C-52), I put stock in that number and believe it to be roughly accurate. I saw many of the IDPs with my own eyes.
Some of the fleeing families had kept out of the sun by moving inside Baqubah’s electrical plant. The plant had been captured by C-52, a group of 54 soldiers who have fought all over Iraq. I accompanied C-52 on the night of 19 June...
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