This month in U.S. Army History:
A US Army (USA) Soldier assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 12th Calvary Regiment, armed with a 5.56mm Colt M4 carbine, provides security during a patrol near Forward Operating Base Camp Eagle, Sadr City, Iraq, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
The April 2004 Battle of Sadr City
April 21, 2014, CMH
The arrest of a top lieutenant of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on charges of murdering a rival religious leader, coupled with the Coalition Provisional Authority's 28 March 2004 decision to close al-Sadr's official newspaper for sixty days, set the conditions for an imminent clash between Shia militia and U.S. troops.
While al-Sadr's militia, known as the Mahdi Army, also attacked coalition troops in Kut and An Najaf, the most costly and intense fighting took place in the eastern Baghdad district of Sadr City. The Mahdi Army initiated the battle on 4 April by attacking a 2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry patrol escorting a garbage truck through the district.
The patrol, consisting of nineteen soldiers from the 1st Platoon of Company C, holed up in an alley after losing one of their three Humvees to enemy fire. Early attempts by the 2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry to rescue them failed in the face of fierce resistance offered by hundreds of enemy combatants.
Existing rules of engagement prohibiting use of the unit's Bradley M-2A3 Infantry Fighting Vehicle main armament also played a part in the opening setback. Lacking the firepower necessary to overwhelm numerically superior opponents, the relief force suffered dozens of casualties.
As the situation became clear to senior commanders, the 1st Cavalry Division unit received permission to employ the main armament of its armored vehicles. Assistance provided by reinforcements in the form of 1st Armored Division M-1A2 Abrams tanks from Company C, 2d Battalion, 37th Armor ultimately proved the decisive factor in extracting the isolated platoon.
The fighting in Sadr City gradually tapered off as Mahdi fighters in other cities failed to achieve lasting gains in the face of a decisive coalition response.
US Army (USA) Soldiers from the 3rd Platoon (PLT) Bravo Company (CO), 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment (1-12 Cavalry), provide street security onboard Up-Armored High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) during a presence patrol around Sadr City, Iraq (IRQ), near Forward Operating Base (FOB) Camp Eagle during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
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