Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hunkered Down

It's been a quiet day in Lake Woebegone, my home town ... ooops, sorry, Garrison, didn't mean to steal your line. But it's been a quiet day in Baghdad, at least. Today was one of our Big Milestones, the day when all American soldiers are supposed to be withdrawn from the cities. And they are, pretty much, except for a big bunch here in the IZ and a few at scattered small bases around the city. We've been hunkered down for the past couple of days. All movements outside the wire (meaning outside of bases or the IZ) have been prohibited. My command has restricted our movements even around the IZ. This is a day that's very important to Iraqis, the day that they regain control over us foreign invaders, and we didn't want to upset any schwarma karts.

So we stayed inside our bases and waited to see what would happen. Would there be riots in the streets? Rockets and mortars raining down on our heads? Swarms of Al Qaeda goons crawling over our T-walls? And the answer was: No. None of that. I heard some sirens earlier today, but it turned out to be Prime Minister Maliki's security detail (seemingly half the Humvees in the Iraqi armed forces) racing at high speed to or from some event. That was pretty much it. It was so quiet, in fact, that around mid-afternoon, our restriction to the base was lifted. We celebrated by walking down to FOB Phoenix for dinner. Hey, it's gyros night, and they make good gyros. Can't miss that.

Not that we didn't have a reason to be nervous. As I've noted in earlier posts, and as most of the serious news outlets have commented on, there has been an uptick in attacks over the last week. Most of the violence prior to this was against other Iraqis. This past week, they've shifted to attacking American forces out on patrol. One day last week, there were multiple IED attacks, a few mortar attacks, and some rifle and hand grenade attacks, all but one against our forces. No deaths that day, some minor injuries. Oh, and they kidnapped a 10-year-old girl. Now what does that tell you about these goons? That they're responsible, upstanding citizens with their nation's best interest at heart?

It seems that the only real trouble in Iraq today was a car bomb up in Kirkuk that killed about 25 people. None in Baghdad, at least none that I'm aware of yet. (Pay attention to Kirkuk: it's one of the potential flash points in this country, sitting on top of a huge pot of oil, and a focus of Kurd and Arab disagreement). So, in all, it looks like a successful day. A day in which nothing much happened.

Sometimes that's about all you can hope for.

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