Sunday, July 30, 2006

AJC: What happened after the 48th left Iraq?

The AJC has a fascinating look at the change in approach from the citizen soldiers of the 48th to the "real soldiers" in the 101st: "Soon after Doraville's police chief, Lt. Col. John King, arrived with his soldiers in Iraq's treacherous Triangle of Death last summer, they set about the civilian task of nation-building.

Within months, the Georgia Army National Guard's 48th Brigade Combat Team began earning trust from the residents in Mahmudiyah, a small, rural town 45 minutes south of Baghdad that had become notorious for insurgent attacks and criminal activity.

The citizen soldiers knew that the key to their success would be their ability to nurture relationships with the Iraqi people.

'They were telling us where the bad guys were, where the IEDs [improvised explosive devices, or makeshift bombs] were put in so that we could destroy them instead of hitting them,' said Brig. Gen. Stewart Rodeheaver, commander of the 48th Brigade.

But, after just five months on the job, the Army replaced the Georgians in Mahmudiyah and southwest Baghdad.

Brigade officers found themselves handing over control to the 101st Airborne Division, the storied regular Army unit out of Fort Campbell, Ky., that has a well-respected history dating back to the beaches of Normandy.

What happened after the 101st Airborne units moved in, however, has raised questions among military analysts about what type of combat unit is best suited for Iraq."


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