Gut-wrenching story–and video–in the Wall Street Journal (Paid Sub Required) of a battle in Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad, back in February. One day the 35 soldiers of Demon Company woke up to find the city marketplace deserted, and then Sunni insurgents drive a 1000-lb. truck bomb through their outpost gates.

It’s not a happy article–in fact, it’s downright despair-inducing. The failure of the Iraqis to warn them of the attack–or to take the initiative in fighting the insurgents–is weighing heavily on the soldiers. But I think that’s somewhat offset by the heroism of the soldiers involved–who recovered from the truck bomb and held off 70 or 80 insurgents until the uh-PAH-shays showed up.

This could easily have been a massacre. Tarmiyah used to be a success story, the WSJ reports, but last summer the Iraqi army contingent was transferred into Baghdad to stabilize things there, and soon after the 150-man police force all went out an patrol and just vanished. That left Demon company as the only pro-Iraqi force in town–and easy pickings for the Al-Qaeda in Iraq insurgents.

But not as easy as they thought.

One last note. Here’s a pic from the WSJ slideshow. The night before the attack, Demon Company got a tip about the sniper that had killed one of their soldiers. They found this car with the trunk adapted for sniper use and a fake brake light panel the sniper could shoot through.

tarmiyah snipermobile--from WSJ
I don’t know if this is a common insurgent technique or where it originated, but I thought immediately of a very similar mobile sniper setup a little closer to home.