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Mission 10 - Detail
Samarra Stryker Brigade

Samarra, Iraq. December 15, 2003: Army snipers and Stryker brigades combine forces to save innocent children - and themselves - in a double-ambush.

Saddam Hussein is captured and within minutes of hearing the news, troops’ ovations are replaced with uncertainties about the days to follow. Would the insurgent attacks grow fiercer in the face of their leader’s being caught? No doubt the humiliating details of Saddam’s cowardice could strengthen his underlings’ resolve, making them braver and fueling their desire to go down martyrs rather than surrender. The unfavorable images of Saddam as a disheveled deserter had to sting.

Due to Saddam’s capture, the Stryker brigades’ agenda changes. On the eve of December 14th, Company A makes passes through the city of Samarra while waiting for their mission to be announced. A Company executive officer 1st Lt. Joel Beck reminds his men the enemy might be incensed. He fears the air guards in the rear of the Stryker might be particularly vulnerable and warns his men to proceed with caution. Company A makes it through the night without incident.

The next morning, Stryker Company C travels through Samarra for the first time. They make some traffic stops and intervene in a disturbance at a gas station. Following behind, Company B is distracted by something more ominous: pigeons. A large flock takes flight overhead, possibly a primitive signal used to announce the Strykers’ arrival.

It is only moments later when two men on a motorcycle appear, blasting rounds from their automatic weapons at US troops. Soldiers are at the ready, but there’s a Mosque nearby, a huge consideration in retaliation strategy. Worse yet, in order to protect themselves, the enemy presents the most powerful weapon in their arsenal: human shields. They swiftly take hold of passing school children and introduce the coalition to a disturbing form of asymmetric warfare.

For all its immense capabilities, the Stryker battalion recognizes the enemy is off-limits. B Company decides to employ snipers, their only chance of eliminating the threat while saving the children. Snipers enter nearby buildings with stealth and speed, armed with 9 mms and M4s. Years of MOUT training swiftly puts them into position on the rooftops, where they successfully kill seven attackers. The remaining insurgents wisely retreat under the pressure. Both their plan and the children are abandoned.

With the immediate threat gone, B Company continues its path through Samarra. But just a short distance from the initial battleground, the patrol finds itself under fire again. This time the assault comes from insurgents hiding in the adjacent brush. Before troops can counter, an IED is detonated to the south of the patrol. The Strykers are quickly inundated by fire from all sides. Rocket propelled grenades are approaching from the west, and mortar fire is incoming from the north.

The enemy needs to be contained. Soldiers radio a nearby patrol and request support. A Company Stryker brigade responds, and "Attack" Company Snipers take position on the roof near a casualty collection point. The combined elements fight the insurgents using M4s, pistols, and grenades.


Samarra Stryker Brigade

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