Michael Yon in Mosul

Michael Yon: Desolate roads.
Mosul is poised. Mosul is poised to become an example of progress and success. Yet with each passing day here, it becomes clear that Mosul is at least as equally poised to fall again into the wretched chaos of crime, violence and anarchy that define certain other areas of Iraq. ...

History shapes the future. In 2005, I spent five months in Mosul, chronicling a little of both. As “The Surge” begins down in Anbar and Baghdad, Mosul’s back alleys likely will tremble with at-first-imperceptible aftershocks, because historically, this crossroads city has served as a reliable bell weather. Sensing that this 2-7 battalion is suddenly about to become an important pivot in the war, I changed course. Instead of heading back down to Baghdad or Anbar, on 14 January, I requested to extend my time with the lone infantry battalion in Mosul. The commanders-that-be, whoever they are, permitted my stay.

Next morning, the Iraqi Army 2nd Division was to officially take over its battle space in Nineveh, meaning there are now two Iraqi Divisions operating in Nineveh, leaving 2-7 CAV in a largely supporting role. Yet there is more to standing up an army than giving people guns and training them to fight, and the Iraqi Army depends on the Coalition for much of its logistics. On 31 December 2006, free fuel was mostly cut off to the IA in a further attempt to show the Iraqi government that the Coalition means business. There is finite time to stand up; the Coalition wants to go home sooner than later, and if we leave the nipple wet, the baby will never grow up. Free fuel was cut.

As predicted by our military leadership, this caused lurches in the system. In Mosul the IA scaled back patrols. This is where national policy meets the road. Literally. At the battalion level. The route where the giant bomb was hidden had not been swept by IA in four days.

There were five occupants in the humvee: 2LT Mark Daily born in Los Angeles; SSG John Cooper born in Cleveland; SGT Ian Anderson born in Prairie Village, Kansas; Specialist Matthew Grimm from Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. Matt Grimm had recently been awarded a Purple Heart for injuries he suffered while on patrol in a humvee that came under attack. It was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade that killed Sergeant Brent Dunkleberger. Matt had been driving the day Brent was killed, and he was driving again on the morning of 15 January. The fifth occupant was “Jacob,” a Christian Assyrian-Iraqi, born in Mosul in 1967, now performing arguably the most dangerous job in Iraq: interpreter for American combat forces. ...

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