Thursday, October 9, 2008

Battle of Baqubah 30BCT NC Guard

This is the link to the a description of NC Guard Units combat action in Baqubah. When we took over combat operations on around December 18th 2004 it was NC that we replaced. The first thing I did was clean out the closet for our TOC and in it was left over stuff from NC and included were the personal photos of CPT Cash who was killed in action during the combat described in the link above.

It was definitely a moment in which I realized someone was going to get killed in the 278th RCT, the first such moment occurred in Kuwait while standing looking at both the 278th RCT and ID BCT standing in chow line, about 9000 soldiers, I stated to SSG Cooper, "man if we get killed nobodys even gonna notice out of this mob" , meaning the realization of how small one soldier was in the overall operation it was a sobering moment that made one think of WWII guys and how they must have felt the same when seeing the thousands of guys preparing for battle.

The Battle of Baqubah (June 24th, 2004)

The first Battle of Baqubah (not to be confused with Operation Arrowhead Ripper in 2007) was some of the fiercest fighting that the brigade encountered during its deployment. The battle began at approximately 5:30 a.m. local time as insurgents from the group Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad (aka Al-Qaeda in Iraq) attempted to ambush 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 120th Infantry (Mechanized) with small arms and RPG fire. The platoon was able to break through the ambush and attempted to turn the battle around with a counterattack. As the battle wore on, however, mechanical difficulties with all three of the platoon's M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles forced the counterattack to halt and once again the advantage lay with the insurgents.[3]

At around 6:00 a.m. reinforcements from Co A, including company commander Captain Christopher Cash, left the unit's Forward Operating Base and were also ambushed almost immediately. In the process CPT Cash was killed. The Bradley in which CPT Cash was killed as well as one other returned to base, leaving only three Bradleys from 1st Platoon to reinforce 3rd Platoon.[4] As the reinforcements advanced on 3rd Platoon, an RPG struck one of the Bradleys, hitting SPC Daniel Desens and wounding several others. The platoon sergeant, SFC Chad Stephens, moved under fire without body armor or a weapon from his Bradley to SPC Desens' to retrieve the wounded Specialist. As SPC Desens was treated by the platoon medic, SPC Ralph Isabella, the platoon regrouped and continued its march towards 3rd Platoon. As they advanced once again towards 3rd Platoon, SFC Stephens's Bradley was also hit by an RPG, severely wounding his gunner and wounding several others including SFC Stephens.[3]

After SFC Stephens's platoon reached its objective, SPC Desens and six other wounded personel were evacuated via helicopter and the platoon carried on the fight until 3:00 a.m. the next morning. SPC Desens later died of his wounds. SFC Stephens would ultimately receive a Silver Star for his actions.[3]

As the well coordinated attack raged on for another eight hours, insurgents were able to overrun two Iraqi police stations as rocket and mortar attacks racked FOB Warhorse, the unit's Forward Operating Base. Ultimately, Coalition forces were able to root out enemy hiding spots and strong points with UAVs as attack aircraft bombed them. In the end two soldiers from the 30th Brigade were killed and six wounded. While the actual enemy death toll varies, Coalition forces estimated at least 60 insurgents were killed in the attack. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the attack although some experts question if Al-Qaeda in Iraq was actually capable of planning and carrying out such an organized attack, despite the fact that Al-Qaeda in Iraq flags were seen being raised by insurgents over the two captured police stations.[5]

Zarqawi claimed victory over the Americans in the battle, although it may have been a Pyrrhic victory as the insurgent death toll was much higher than the Coalition one and the attack neither forced the Americans from the city nor stopped the planned transfer of authority for the city from the Coalition Provisional Authority to the Iraqi Interim Government at the end of the month. In the end, Zarqawi was killed in an air attack two years later outside of Baqubah and a year after that Operation Arrowhead Ripper succeeded in forcing a large part of the remaining insurgent forces out of the city.