Tuesday, May 08, 2007

It Continues to Work in Ramadi

Despite occasional setbacks, parts of Iraq's Anbar Province are trending toward peace. This occurs as Sunnis in the Anbar heartland realize that al Qaeda does not have Anbar's best interest at heart.

While I was in Ramadi, a change in sentiment began to occur. That sentiment is coming substantially to fruition 18 months later.

More and more Iraqis in the Anbar province have had enough of al Qaeda's crap. Police and military forces are beefing up in Ramadi and other cities and towns, and they're working closely with American forces to "clear, hold and build". It seems, over the past two or three months, to be working.

Here's the story of Saif Sahed

As recently as two months ago, U.S. forces didn't dare stake out the Al Tash neighborhood of this insurgent stronghold in Al Anbar province. Enter 22-year-old Saif Sahed, a go-getter recruit for the Provincial Security Force, a new auxiliary police unit that offers hope for at least a bit of stability in the mean streets of Ramadi.

Sahed lives in Al Tash, the kind of neighborhood where everyone knows everyone and newcomers are immediately noticed — and in recent years often have been insurgents.

"If I find strangers or strange cars, I go to tell my officer. Last week we found some who were insurgents and they were detained," Sahed said matter-of-factly. "The important thing is to make my neighborhood safe."

Because Sahed is young and illiterate, he ordinarily would not qualify for the Iraqi army or police. But for the last several weeks, he and his ragtag cohorts, wearing castoff army fatigues and numbering about 2,200, have filled crucial intelligence-gathering, patrol and checkpoint functions in the new provincial force.

Local residents find people that don't belong there, and get rid of them. In the case of an American soldier who was injured in a bomb blast recently, it didn't take the Ramadians long to ferret out the insurgent who had caused the blast.

"We could have never developed that kind of actionable intelligence that fast," said Lt. Jimm Spannagel with the Army 1st Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade. "The PSF [Provincial Security Force] speaks the same language, establishes rapport with the locals and inspires trust. It's allowing us to extend our reach."

Enlistments have grown, and the number of uniformed Iraqi police officers and provincial troops on Ramadi's streets has multiplied to 6,700 from only 200 in July. Security has improved correspondingly.

From an average of 30 insurgent attacks per day in December, such assaults had fallen to an average of fewer than four by last month,

Politics aside, I dream of the day when I can return to al Anbar in a time of peace. I pray each day that peace and liberty will succeed in Iraq. People like Saif Sahed and his friends are the ones that will make it happen.


Anonymous said...

Ah, peace and freedom. Our friends, the Anbar Salvation Front will make it so.

"The group does not hand over captured al-Qa'ida suspects to the Iraqi police or even to the US military. When a group has concluded that any captive works with the al-Qa'ida militias, the suspect is executed with a bullet to the head."


Frank Staheli said...

"Ah peace and freedom." Apparently you take yours a bit too for granted.

Otherwise, what is your point?

Anonymous said...

I'll plead guilty to often taking peace and freedom for granted. But I am sorry for the people of Anbar Province. Did you read the article?

Dan Gubler c/222/hooah! said...

The people whom I came in contact with in the Anbar city of Ramadii, constantly told me of their fear of the US leaving and that terror from before would be visited on them with a vengence. Never once did i speak with someone that wasnt scared of the Saddam regime returning to power. They were really concerned with who would protect them without our being there. Good question.Nobody anticipated the secular violence would be so brutle on primarily the Iraq's. We have been teaching them to protect themselves, to create active units that will protect the innocent and destroy the "baddun's" We certainly havent given the soldiers time enough to train enough. Many say "to hell with Iraq's". But I assure you the time will come that they can support themselves. Alot of mistakes have been made, there is no questions. The answers to those mistakes is to look at and implement new ideas. Have you heard of one liberal candidate come up with any ideas at all! All they seem to do is point the finger and say "you were wrong" Listening to them talk of a new course in Iraq( which always seem to be to bring um home with the job at hand unfinished) is totally disgracefull!Having had the opportunity to interact with the children of Iraq, I find they are like every other child in the world. all they want is to do what kids do everywhere. They need a stable gov't that can take care of their needs. Who is going to see that the goal is met? The only people are those who are serving over there right now. God bless those in harms way.

Frank Staheli said...


Admittedly I did my trademark skim of the article the first time, so I just read it through. (Most of) Their tactics seem very sound. I don't advocate "a bullet to the head", but then again that was al Qaeda's calling card as well, wouldn't you agree? The interesting thing is that this is Sunni on Sunni violence. The point is that they're sick and tired of the al Qaeda crap. I hope they stop using summary executions as a tactic. But I hope just as well that al Qaeda gets the heck out of dodge and crawls back in their hole in Tora Bora or Waziristan someplace.

Then maybe the people who really belong there can live in peace.

It's okay to criticize President Bush (even strongly) for the mistakes of his administration, as I have done as well. What I don't find very palatable is when you or others, through your silence, condone the activities of America's enemies, but then criticize the same activities in America's allies. I am left to conclude that this myopia is due to your hoping that everything goes against America because then it will be a discredit to George W. Bush.