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Balad is ground zero for Baath Party sentiment in Iraq. About 80 percent of the attacks against coalition forces occur in this triangle area formed by Baghdad, Tikrit and Ar Ramadi. the paramilitary activity centers around the Tigris River between Baghdad and Saamara, more than 100 kilometers to the north. Balad falls right in the middle of that zone.

On 30 November 2002 the UNMOVIC team inspected the Balad Chemical Defense Battalion, a site about 90 km north of Baghdad. This site, which reported to the Chemical Corps Directorate of the Ministry of Defence, conducted training activities in the area of chemical, biological and radiological defense, for military personnel and was considered by Iraq as one of the sensitive sites. It had been inspected before 1998. The inspection team arrived unannounced at the site and had immediate access. The team was able to perform all the activities in the inspection plan.

American troops in Iraq blunted a night attack by pro-Saddam regime fighters, counter- attacked, and routed the enemy, killing more than 20 in a June 12-13 battle fought north of Baghdad. The US battalion that was engaged pursued those enemy forces, made contact with them, and killed over 20 of them. The fighting involved U.S. forces participating in Operation Peninsula Strike, a series of raids and searches undertaken to eliminate Saddam-regime loyalists remaining in Iraq. The 4th Infantry is leading the strike force. The battle was fought in an area known as "the Peninsula," McKiernan continued, that's located northeast of the city of Balad, which is north of Baghdad. The area is a hot spot that's been identified by intelligence sources as harboring supporters of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein. Iraqi fighters had attacked an element of the 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, which was working with the 4th division as part of Peninsula Strike.

The United States military says U.S. troops killed 27 people in Iraq after coming under attack on 13 June 2003 in Balad, northeast of Baghdad. A statement by U.S. Central Command said an "organized group of attackers" had fired rocket-propelled grenades at a 4th Infantry Division tank patrol. The statement said the tanks returned fire, killing four attackers and forcing the others to flee. It said tanks and other military vehicles, backed by Apache helicopters, pursued the remaining attackers, killing another 23. The incident occurred as the U.S. military continues "Operation Peninsula Strike," a search north of Baghdad for supporters of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Desert Sidewinder is a more targeted operation than previous ones. The troops appear to be singling out specific locations and individuals, rather than the door-to-door searches that initially characterized Operation Desert Scorpion, which began in May 2003. Soldiers in Balad said most of the activity was taking place at night or early in the morning in late June 2003,.

On the night of 03 July 2003, American forces were attacked in two separate incidents in Balad, 90km north-west of Baghdad. The well-coordinated ambushes led to 18 American soldiers being injured and left 11 Iraqi fighters dead. The attacks involved typical guerilla weapons such as machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, as well as a new element - highly accurate mortars which can be fired from as far away as 6.5km. In one attack on a highway near Balad, US soldiers were ambushed three times over a span of eight hours by about 50 enemies lying in wait in trenches and behind earthen berms on both sides of the highway. The guerillas were armed with AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns. Previously, most attacks on American forces in Iraq had involved smaller groups of gunmen. Troopers from the 3rd Squadron 7th Cavalry for the 3rd Infantry Division defeated three separate attacks on Highway 1 near Balad early this morning killing 15 attackers.

Three 4th Infantry soldiers were killed and four were wounded as they guarded a children's hospital in Baqubah July 26, about 40 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Camp Paliwoda [FOB Eagle]

The base is shaped like a fat horseshoe; its perimeter is 1 miles long. On the north side is a road and the entrance. On the south there's a canal, on the east a mosque, and on the west a school soccer field. In the middle, behind giant chain-link fences, is housing still occupied by the families of former Iraqi soldiers. In the middle, behind giant chain-link fences, is housing still occupied by the families of former Iraqi soldiers. One side of the horseshoe used to be a school, but it is now the battalion headquarters. The other side used to be a training camp for Saddam Hussein's guerrilla fighters.

The US military clearly thinks the area around Balad is a trouble spot, and they sent reinforcements. Soldiers in the town and nearby Ba-Qubah were re-deployed from elsewhere in Iraq in late June 2003.

Fifty miles north of Baghdad, Forward Operating Base Eagle had the look of Fort Apache. An earthen berm traces the 1-mile perimeter. Outside it runs a woven wire fence topped by barbed wire. Beyond that, a ring of concertina wire encircles the entire base. The base is home to more than 300 members of the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, part of the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, including the tactical operations center and Company A, also known as Attack Company. From the base, the soldiers bring peace and democracy to their portion of Iraq's Sunni Triangle, an area where support of Saddam Hussein is common. The base is near Balad, a town of Shiite Muslims who mostly embrace the US presence. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited the "pointy end of the spear" in Iraq 27 July 2003. Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers spoke with the infantrymen of the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division.

The base was once ground zero for mortar attacks on a regular basis, but now a week may pass with no incoming rounds at FOB Eagle. One reason may be the aggressive nature of the response to any attack. A mortar launch is met with a howitzer round.

After President Bush declared major combat operations over 01 May 2003, the battle lines were completely redrawn and new fronts opened. These fronts included gaining the confidence of the people of Iraq. The 443rd Civil Affairs Detachment of Warwick, R.I. is on the forefront of this effort. Members of this unit are out everyday, in varying provinces of Iraq, helping to rebuild schools, infrastructure organizations, such as police and fire departments, or sometimes dropping off badly needed supplies to children's hospitals and charity foundations. A common project for the 443rd is refurbishing area schools. The schools were damaged by vandalism, looting, and from years of neglect. The schools need repair, and members of the 443rd will contact local contractors to facilitate renovations. In the Balad area, most of the schools had been untouched by U.S. forces. After the 443rd came through, almost all of the buildings had contractors assess them and plans for renovations began.

Since arriving in June 2003, the troops of the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment used aggressive policing to calm the simmering conflict between the Shiite, pro-American city and its sullen Sunni suburbs. The soldiers built the dusty infantry camp into something like home, with Internet service, telephones, air conditioners and toilets. They rigged up a power grid, fixed showers and built desks, tables and cabinets out of salvaged plywood

Camp Paliwoda, formerly known as FOB Eagle, was renamed in memory of Capt. Eric Paliwoda, who died 02 January 2004 when an enemy mortar round scored a direct hit on his room. Forward Operating Base Paliwoda is a former training base for Saddam Hussein's elite fighters.

Forward Operating Base Paliwoda, like many bases in Iraq, has portable shower units for soldiers to use. But at Paliwoda, persistant problems with the makeshift electrical system installed by an Iraqi contractor mean the water often is cold if it is running at all. Despite improvements, there is an enormous contrast between this forward operating base, and camps such as 1st ID's new division headquarters at Tikrit, or LSA Anaconda, the air base 12 miles from Paliwoda. MWR at Paliwoda is a second-hand pingpong table, a big-screen TV and a few board games. Once a day a convoy delivers some lukewarm leftovers from the Kellogg Brown & Root chow hall at Anaconda.

In March 2004 the 1st Infantry Division's Task Force 1-77 arrived to take over the camp and the mission.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:47:41 ZULU