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Baghdad Battle, First Hand

Pick up the paper today, and you'll read reports of "fierce gun battles [that] erupted between about 40 insurgents and the police... in western Baghdad."Here's what those battles looked like, from a soldier who was there. He was kind enough to copy me on an e-mail he wrote home immediately after the fighting.

I just strolled back in to the safety net of my surroundings and have been dragged through chaos the past couple of hours. My brain is still spinning and I am not sure where to even start.102_0699.JPGWe received a request to conduct a post-blast investigation of a VBIED (Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device) that detonated near the base camp. The initial report indicated that the target was an Iraqi Police (IP) car. We responded to the incident site and found the smoldering remains of a couple of vehicles in the middle of the road. It appeared at first glance that the only fatalities resulted from the suicide bomber in the car and perhaps the occupants of the IP car. As we walked from our vehicles to the incident site, we heard another car bomb detonating near an IP station approximately 2 kilometers away.We soon received a request to respond. We quickly finished up with the first incident site, but not before we found additional casualties persons in the near vicinity. While we prepared for movement to the second site, we heard on the radio that the second site was now getting hit people were driving past the IP station, and firing RPG's [rocket propelled grenades] at IP's in their vehicles. We conducted movement to the IP station and when we arrived, the scene was full of chaos.IP's were frantically running down the streets helping injured persons. IP vehicles were speeding up and down the streets looking for the culprits. Vehicles were burning. Gun fire erupted in the background and we just pulled our vehicles into a formation to provide a good tactical posture and prepared to unleash a heavy volley of steel. After everything settled down, we continued to do our work. We found an IED nearby that was meant to add to the attack.I don't usually write home and talk about the details of specific incidents because I feel compelled to keep the chaos out of the homes of family and friends. But today felt different. I don't know why I had the need or desire to talk about today's events -- other than the fact that perhaps it was time to vent some fumes. All of my soldiers deal with the reality of what we face everyday in different ways. Some have made pacts to not write home and possibly worry family. Perhaps I am wrong in doing so, but I thought I would provide some insight to what you might not see on the news tonight. You will not be able to smell the burnt remains of the suicide bombers or the IP's. You probably won't see the charred remains of persons in the vehicles. And you won't be able to see the full effects of a carefully placed VBIED with a follow-up attack with RPG's and small arms fire.While writing, I decided to comb through my pictures and add one. But I'll adhere to my promise to not send anything too graphic. Perhaps, if you catch the news, you might just see that suicide bombers once again rocked Baghdad.
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