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Mission 17 - Detail
Baghdad: Mahdi Army Assault
"Even the children fling the candy tossed to them back to the US soldiers, often followed by a handful of rocks."

Bradley Fighting Vehicles face a violent assault by Mahdi Army forces in a daring nighttime attack.

It’s been 15 months of start and stop reconstruction in Sadr City. The residents are angry and disenchanted. US soldiers are tired and frustrated. And the guerrillas are pleased. US troops have been in Sadr City for nearly a year, yet the most basic services - garbage collection, human waste disposal, and electricity - are still luxuries in the Baghdad neighborhood due to unrelenting attacks by Mahdi Army guerillas. Mahdi Army fighters claim the US is using the appalling situation as an excuse to continue occupation, fueling the smoldering rage among residents.

Each sweltering 115 degree day, the First Cavalry attempts to bring clean water into the city and cleanse the streets of the pools of sludge and sewerage that flood them. For their efforts, soldiers are greeted by jeering, disgruntled mobs, raising their fists to troops and their voices with loyalty to Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric whose militia has killed eight soldiers and wounded hundreds more from the First Team.

The hostile civilian attitude is a far cry from when Saddam Hussein was first overthrown. Residents of Sadr City initially welcomed US soldiers, who represented revolution in a city that had been stripped of nearly every basic necessity. But as the weeks turned into months, US soldiers - in an endless struggle to train local law enforcement, fight crime, battle insurgency, and clean up the city - appear to have overstayed their welcome. Even the children fling the candy tossed to them back to the US soldiers, often followed by a handful of rocks.

At this point, it seems anything offered by the troops is thrown back in their faces. Operation Iron Broom began months ago during the fiercest uprisings, but the desperately needed clean-up operation was sabotaged when the dumpsters used for free trash collection disappeared. Nowadays, the lids from the huge receptacles are often seen around the city as makeshift garage doors for creative crooks.

The Army's First Cavalry Division has been on patrol and engaged in combat in Sadr City for more than 80 straight days. Col. Abe Abrams calls his troops the most experienced combat soldiers in the field at this stage.

On this particular night, a Bradley convoy is on patrol. Eight roadside bombs lay up ahead. Using technology and experience, the troops are able to pinpoint and destroy most of the IEDs, but the lead vehicle is hit with an explosion that rocks the Bradley and halts the convoy. There are no casualties, but the vehicle is inoperable. Suddenly, a second bomb hits, crippling another Bradley. This time, there are wounded. First team soldiers are forced to evacuate the vehicles and help their teammates.

It is a three-hour ordeal, one which gets worse by the minute. As soldiers attempt to repair the damaged Bradleys and evacuate the wounded, they are unarmored, stationary, and the perfect targets of opportunity. They hear incoming fire and feel explosions. Guerrillas armed with RPGs and AK-47s move in. Cloaked in darkness, they surround the soldiers.

Screenshots

Baghdad: Mahdi Army Assault
 


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