The Battle of Ramadi
Marines patrolling Ramadi
Unseen Enemy Is at Its Fiercest in a Sunni City
By SABRINA TAVERNISE
Published: October 23, 2005
RAMADI, Iraq, Oct. 22 - The Bradley fighting vehicles moved slowly down this city's main boulevard. Suddenly, a homemade bomb exploded, punching into one vehicle. Then another explosion hit, briefly lifting a second vehicle up onto its side before it dropped back down again.
A marine driving a Humvee in Ramadi was killed when a series of homemade bombs destroyed it on Oct. 4. Four other Americanswere injured.
Two American soldiers climbed out of a hatch, the first with his pant leg on fire, and the other completely in flames. The first rolled over to help the other man, but when they touched, the first man also burst into flames. Insurgent gunfire began to pop.
Several blocks away, Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Rosener, 20, from Minneapolis, watched the two men die from a lookout post at a Marine encampment. His heart reached out to them, but he could not. In Ramadi, Iraq's most violent city, two blocks may as well be 10 miles.
"I couldn't do anything," he said of the incident, which he saw on Oct. 10. He spoke quietly, sitting in the post and looking straight ahead. "It's bad down there. You hear all the rumors. We didn't know it was going to be like this."
Here in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, Sunni Arab insurgents are waging their fiercest war against American troops, attacking with relative impunity just blocks from Marine-controlled territory. Every day, the Americans fight to hold their turf in a war against an enemy who seems to be everywhere but is not often seen.
The cost has been high: in the last six weeks, 21 Americans have been killed here, far more than in any other city in Iraq and double the number of deaths in Baghdad, a city with a population 15 times as large.
"We fight it one day at a time," said Capt. Phillip Ash, who commands Company K in the Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, which patrols central Ramadi.
"Some days you're the windshield," he said, "some days you're the bug."
Ramadi is an important indicator of just how long it may be before an American withdrawal.
The city has long been a haven for insurgents, but it has never fallen fully into enemy hands, as Falluja did last fall, when marines could not even patrol before an invasion in November. Senior commanders here will not rule out a full invasion, but for now, the checkpoints and street patrols continue.
Still, more than two years after the American invasion, this city of 400,000 people is just barely within American control. The deputy governor of Anbar was shot to death on Tuesday; the day before, the governor's car was fired on. There is no police force. A Baghdad cellphone company has refused to put up towers here. American bases are regularly pelted with rockets and mortar shells, and when troops here get out of their vehicles to patrol, they are almost always running.
"You can't just walk down the street for a period of time and not expect to get shot at," said Maj. Bradford W. Tippett, the operations officer for the Third Battalion
The Marines don't control shit. They are penned up in their bases and take fire when they leave them. That's not control.
posted by Steve @ 12:01:00 AM