Update from Iraq: For Al Qaeda, Nowhere to Hide in Samarra

Aug 28, 2008

This is a communication from MSG Jeffrey Pennington, currently stationed at Patrol Base Kaufman, Samarra, Iraq: 

Enemy activity here is starting to increase as we push Al Qaeda further out of the city. As their backs are against the wall, and they have few if any places to hide, more frequent battles have been taking place. One such battle [recently] claimed the life of a U.S. soldier in the unit that operates in Samarra with us.

Patrol through alley in the Hadadhah neighborhoodAlthough the enemy seems emboldened by sporadically successful attacks on convoys with IEDs [Improvised Explosive Devices] and grenades, they still lack the capability—and the centralized leadership—to conduct full-scale attacks on Coalition Forces.

On a lighter note, I participated in a security patrol around the Al Askari, or the “Golden Mosque” inApproaching Golden Mosque Samarra, when thousands of Shi’ites poured into the city to conduct their pilgrimage (Hajj) to several Shi’a holy sites. Samarra is predominately Sunni, so we expected some issues, but it was a testament to the spirit of reconciliation among the Iraqi people that we experienced no activity at all.

I was surprised, but well relieved.

1175th MPs staging for patrolAll is well with me; we are successfully hammering Al Qaeda at the moment in Samarra—however, Security Halt just outside the Golden Mosquetheir presence is limited here. But we expect it to start getting a little more difficult in the near future as we increase pressure in other areas of the country. Areas to the north of us have more activity, and when pressured, [the enemy] either becomes desperate—then suicide attacks increase—or they relocate.

The area I’m in just happens to be midway between Mosul and Baghdad, both heavily populated cities with commensurate insurgent activity.

Waiting for Far Side Security to clear areaWe gain invaluable intelligence from our Iraqi counterparts and the citizens of Samarra as we all prepare for theSGT Coveyou discusses activities with Iraqi Emergency Response Unit members coming storm. When that time comes, Al Qaeda will hit a wall and be forced to either retreat to the desert or face certain decimation by the combined efforts of the Iraqi and Coalition Forces.

I am so very thankful for the continued support for our efforts. Our mission is tough, but through the power of the support of the American public, there is no army that can defeat us, nor any terrorist that will win.

So when people thank me, I say, “Thank you!” We really can’t do it without you.

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