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Mission 16 - Tactical Considerations
Sadr City
"[al-Sadr's] soldiers were messing around with some bombs and blew up a warehouse full of ammunition. These are far from professionals. "

Places like Fallujah and Sadr City have a huge difference between them. Fallujah’s sort of the Greenwich Village of Iraq, where it’s hip to be an insurgent. They even have this insurgent union of sorts. In Sadr City, they have their cleric, Mutaqa al-Sadr, who has really crystallized the movement. He’s like a mafia guy who takes control of, and credit for, the inter-workings of the city.

The Red Cross had arranged for propane delivery to the people of Sadr City, fuel for cooking and what not. Al-Sadr arranged for his guys to go down to the distribution point and hijack the propane then delivered it to the people so they thought it came from him. He stopped the sewers, a much needed service, from being fixed because he didn’t want the Americans to provide a service he couldn’t do himself. We need to stay and make sure the people know the good stuff is coming from us and from the new Iraqi government, because those are their countrymen.

Even Iran is more interested in Sadr City than places like Fallujah. Because of al-Sadr, Iran has a chance to mirror what they have in their own country, which is leadership by cleric. But we can’t just go to the Mosque when he’s delivering a sermon and snipe him or blow the place up because he’d just be romanticized in death. Arab nations have a tendency to look for excuses as to why they don’t have stable states. And they blame it on outside forces quite often. Even people who think Sadr is an idiot - and there are probably quite a few in Iraq - will go to one of his sermons. They’ll think, this guy isn’t so great, but the movement is great and at least it’s not Western. So for the same reasons we didn’t take out Hitler or Mussolini, killing al-Sadr would only confirm the fears of the people.

So the enemy is running around Sadr City causing all kinds of problems and those are the guys we can take care of. Although al-Sadr is not a super charismatic guy, not a great speaker or motivator, he’s going on name-brand approach from his father. If he dies, other members of his family could take over and do every bit as well and the story will get stronger and stronger. He’s a guy from an illustrious family with a lot of backing, but it’s not real quality guys he’s got. His soldiers were messing around with some bombs and blew up a warehouse full of ammunition. These are far from professionals.

The insurgents spend part of their time holing up in a mosque, partly because we won’t target it. But there are underlying reasons they do this, too. The nature of the insurgent movement is to inflate religion with aggression. They have this justification: God is behind us so we’ll start from the holy center. You might think it’s cowardly to hide in church, but they look at is affirmative stance. The whole point is Islam, so too, in Sadr City, you have these totally secular police troops with no law based in Islam. They will be attacked. And we’re prepared for that.

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