This is the first in the series of Michael Yon’s reports on Operation Arrowhead:
Operation Arrowhead Ripper: Day One
The first day of operation Arrowhead Ripper was intense. The Army is giving full access to the battlefield, and while on base full access to the TOC (HQ) which means I see the raw truth on the ground, and as it feeds through the TOC. They are hiding nothing. Or if they are, it’s in plain view. (Special operations notwithstanding.) A reporter can see as much as he or she can stand.
Civilian casualties are occurring, despite much discretion being used on the firing. I saw three MLRS rockets hit targets downtown today (June 20) and more were fired. Watched the video feed from the TOC as some of them hit. The targeting was perfect. Our guys had cleared out the civilians, but the enemy starts shootouts using civilians as cover. American officers are trying to account for civilian casualties; media is asking and command is still unable to answer, which of course looks like a cover-up. From what I see on the ground, there is no cover-up. The number is unknown but certainly there must be some.
…..The commanders take a break from fighting each day to have meetings with each other, and Iraqi officers, and he comes off the battlefield with one of the commanders to the briefings.
…..By the end of the first day (June 19), about 30 enemy had been killed, 1 U.S. killed and 5 WIA. At least two soldiers were heat casualties, including one who was with my group.
The combat has only just begun, and media has now figured out this is serious business. During the morning brief (June 20th), Major Robbie Parke mentioned that CNN, TIME, Reuters and some others, are trying to get out here now.
…..The heat is intense for the enemy and for us. Soldiers, during any chance, would lay-down during the heat of day, and in complete body armor and helmets, fall asleep in the dirt. I took photos of course. Our guys are tough. The enemy in Baqubah is as good as any in Iraq, and better than most. That’s saying a lot. But our guys have been systematically trapping them, and have foiled some big traps set for our guys. I don’t want to say much more about that, but our guys are seriously outsmarting them. Big fights are ahead and we will take serious losses probably, but al Qaeda, unless they find a way to escape, are about to be slaughtered. Nobody is dropping leaflets asking them to surrender. Our guys want to kill them, and that’s the plan.
A positive indicator on the 19th and the 20th is that most local people apparently are happy that al Qaeda is being trapped and killed. Civilians are pointing out IEDs and enemy fighters, so that’s not working so well for al Qaeda. Clearly, I cannot do a census, but that says something about the locals.
My note to Michael:
I want to extend my sincere thanks for the balanced reporting on your site. I haven’t watched or listened to the mainstream media in years because of their asinine anti-war/anti-American crap. I retired December 2006 after 30 years as a Soldier in the United States Army. I served in Desert Storm, Bosnia,and Operation Iraqi Freedom. More often than not, the war I saw firsthand never jived with the leftist bullshit emanating from the NYT-WaPo-CNN-ABC-NBC-CBS-PBS conglomerate. I recently stopped by the local Army recruiting station and spoke with the fine young women and men still in uniform. They’ve been there as well and share my anger and frustration. Thankfully, there are people like you, along with the boots-on-the-ground troops, to tell the truth and counter the leftist, pro al Qaida moonbats. Iraq and Afghanistan are just two battlefields in the war against Islamofascism. If they don’t understand that, then 9/11 didn’t hit close enough to their own backyards.