Time: War-torn Baghdad neighborhood is quiet — too quiet

posted at 6:12 pm on February 21, 2007 by Allahpundit

No, seriously. The troops stationed there think so, too.

The silence is eerie. After opening the US Army’s first combat outpost (COP) in Baghdad last month the men of Charlie Company, 2-12 Cavalry, had gotten used to gunfights raging nearby, the crack of bullets passing overhead, and the explosion of rocket-propelled grenades. After all, this was Ghazaliyah, where Sunni insurgents and Shi’a militiamen have battled each other, the Iraqi Army and Police, and the Americans for months.

In the past week, though, the men have been unnerved by absence of the sounds of war. “It’s been quiet-really, really, quiet,” said Sgt. Sergej Michaud, 24. Michaud has cropped his dark hair nearly to the scalp, and he has a tattoo of a helmeted skull on his left forearm with TANKER printed below. Like many other soldiers at the COP he relishes the chance to drive towards gunfire and separate the combatants in Iraq’s sectarian war. That was routine for his platoon until a few days ago, when the violence suddenly dropped almost to nothing… Gunfights with insurgents and militiamen worry Sgt. Michaud less than figuring out where those enemies have gone. “I have no idea,” he said. “It’s kind of scary. It’s kind of scary.”

Shot in the dark here, but does Michaud’s name ring a bell? It should. He was mentioned in a high-profile NYT story a month ago about Charlie Company being besieged on all sides of the makeshift fort they’d built inside Ghazaliyah. So gripping was it that it warranted the rare HA double-link, first in one of my posts about the Mahdi Army and then in Bryan’s essay about reporting in Baghdad. It’s great to see the situation’s improved, sort of: according to the troops there, the Shiites are still muscling Sunnis out of the area (albeit with a lower profile per Sadr’s orders) and a big jihadi attack on the base is expected at any time, but the rounds whizzing by Michaud’s head as described in the Times piece are, for the moment, absent.

Still, these are soldiers we’re talking about so they’re expecting the worst. I leave you with a darkly funny quote comparison. From the NYT piece on January 22nd about Ghazaliyah’s thunderstorm of violence:

Over the course of three days spent with the 105 soldiers here — Company C of the Second Battalion, 12th Cavalry — four American vehicles were hit by roadside bombs near the outpost. No soldiers from Company C were wounded, but they know the fighting will intensify.

“I’m a juicy target they are just trying to figure out,” said Capt. Erik Peterson, 29, the commander at the outpost.

And from Time’s all-quiet-on-the-Ghazaliyah-front article today:

An attack on the COP would send a powerful message, and Charlie Company has redoubled its effort to secure the compound. On Wednesday night a platoon sergeant taped “CCP” in giant red letters to a wall in one of the COP’s main rooms. “CCP” indicates a casualty collection point, where wounded soldiers would be gathered for treatment and possible evacuation. “I think I’m a big, fat, target right now,” Peterson said.

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The uestion is, will the MSM report the lack of violence? How do you spin what isn’t there? I guess just talk about Anna Nicole untill the next suicide bomber attack racks up enough bodies for an above the fold (non)”revenue generating” story for the NYT.

Max Power on February 21, 2007 at 6:18 PM

Hurry, pull out now!

JammieWearingFool on February 21, 2007 at 6:19 PM

good news
oh no! must…make it bad….get bushco….to…pull…out

Defector01 on February 21, 2007 at 6:32 PM

If only MSM would report the violence in this country the way they do in Iraq. Or perhaps when Iraq becomes stable they will not report the regular everyday violence they way they don’t in this country.

For some reason I have the nasty suspiscion they will cherry pick and only report the violence that does maximum damage to the Bush strategy.

csdeven on February 21, 2007 at 6:56 PM

I’m surprised they didn’t give the kudo’s to the Democratic congress.

William Teach on February 21, 2007 at 6:59 PM

I have a sinking feeling that this may be the Tet that the MsM has been waiting for all this time…

Kid from Brooklyn on February 21, 2007 at 7:06 PM

Obviously the terrorists left ’cause Madam Hillary threatened to restructure redeploy retrograde surrender. Makes perfect sense to the drive-by media.

My own personal theory is that they realized that all the explosions they were causing were contributing to global warming so they, in keeping with the Kyoto protocals, simply withdrew from the battlefield unilaterally disregarding previous instructions from Mohammad to kill all the Jews, Christians, and Muslims from a different sect. (See, that year I spent in a Military Intelligence S-2 slot paid off!)

Mojave Mark on February 21, 2007 at 7:08 PM

Run away! Run away!

SWLiP on February 21, 2007 at 7:21 PM

Oh gawd, this must mean we’re LOSING!

NTWR on February 21, 2007 at 7:31 PM

no problem–the Usual Media Suspects are shifting their Cassandra Coverage to Afghanistan, where they’ve just realized that we are losing there, too.

Janos Hunyadi on February 21, 2007 at 8:02 PM

I’m confused. It is bad news when there is violence. It is bad news when there isnt.

Resolute on February 21, 2007 at 8:57 PM

A little too Raph? Anyway, I think they’re feeling like how your hands feel when you turn off the lawn mower.

- The Cat

MirCat on February 21, 2007 at 8:57 PM

“This is a great opportunity to drive a wedge between the militia and the general population.”

Go, boys, GO!

PinkyBigglesworth on February 21, 2007 at 9:17 PM

War-torn Baghdad neighborhood is quiet — too quiet

Do you mean, it’s life goes on minus jihad instantaneously . . .or . . .

Too quiet, as in where did everybody go?

Recall . . .• Iraq insurgents using chlorine gas in ‘dirty’ attacks

heroyalwhyness on February 21, 2007 at 9:21 PM

WAIT, Only when our troops leave, THEN AQ can head for the hills….Murtha has yet to give AQ the ‘leave’ order.

shooter on February 21, 2007 at 10:30 PM

I’m inclined to trust the soldier’s judgment on this one.

On a related subject. Tonight I saw PBS’s The Marines on my local TV station. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly recommend that you do.

One scene showed the mock Iraqi village at 29 Palms that they use for training units about to deploy to Iraq. They role play using Arabic speaking “Iraqi’s” in order to train the troops. I’ve read that the Army does something similar.

It strikes me that the Sgt’s description of quiet is probably outside of their training, and clearly outside his experience. While welcome, the troops must be getting edgy.

After watching this fine documentary about the Marines, I caught the last few minutes of our local news sportscast. Before switching channels. One second, I was watching images of young men getting their Eagle, Globe and Anchor. The next moment was I watching a bunch of professional athletes whining about not getting more millions.

I came away convinced that professional athletes are spoiled, overpaid, undisciplined, poseurs, who are for some reason that I simply cannot understand, are held out to be heroes and roll models, while America’s finest men and women work their hearts out for a bit of brass to wear on their uniforms.

God bless the soldiers of Charlie Company, 2-12 Cavalry, America’s real heroes. Keep you heads down and come home safe.

georgej on February 22, 2007 at 12:56 AM

I wouldn’t want to state with any assurance as to why there’s is so little violence now, but maybe it’s because the idiots have all killed each other off and there is no one left to fight? That’s probably not very likely.

My guess is that they are laying low until Congress does something really stupid, like vote on a amendment that would limit the response by US troops in this area. When they are sure that US troops won’t be allowed to intervene, they’ll gleefully go back to killing each other.

RedinBlueCounty on February 22, 2007 at 4:45 PM