Defeating the enemy at Donkey Island near Ramadi

The purpose of military patrols is reconnaissance and avoiding surprise attacks on your defensive positions. Such as the case when an army patrol came across enemy troops in superior numbers. While the Washington Post writer tends to describe the event as an "Oh my God, we nearly lost the war" event, in reality it was about troops doing their job under difficult circumstances and prevailing.


Stark and his men exchanged few words as their Humvees turned east, progressing with more difficulty along narrow and sometimes swampy trails as they neared the Nassar canal, looking for possible weapons smugglers using wooden boats. Just after 9:15 p.m., the heat was still sweltering, and the armor-clad soldiers were soaked with sweat.

About 200 yards from the canal, Stark's Humvee crested a small dirt berm, and his driver, Spec. Kevin Gilbertson, saw something odd: two large semitrucks parked just to the left of the road ahead.

"I wonder what they're doing?" Gilbertson called to Stark. Then they spotted a few men fleeing across the field to the south and accelerated toward the trucks.

Stark recalled that he turned and to his disbelief saw clustered behind the trucks -- only a few feet away -- at first 10, then 20, then as many as 70 heavily armed men.

"Traverse left, open fire!" he yelled instinctively to his gunner. Startled, Pfc. Sean Groves unleashed a rapid burst from his M240 machine gun.

In the same instant, the insurgents returned a barrage of fire with AK-47 assault rifles, heavy machine guns and hand grenades. Bullets shattered the ballistic glass on Stark's Humvee, breaking the driver's window and cracking the windshield like a spider's web. Shrapnel tore into Groves's face and hands. He dropped down inside the vehicle. Gilbertson jumped into the gunner's sling, and Groves took control of the Humvee, now limping with two flat tires on the left side. Stark tried to radio the two vehicles behind him but had lost communication.

"Red 8, what the hell is going on?" Sgt. 1st Class Feliciano Young, the platoon sergeant in the next Humvee, recalled shouting into the radio, using Stark's call sign. There was no reply.


Wearing matching white dishdashas, or traditional robes, and toting black backpacks filled with first-aid kits, rations and grenades, the insurgents marched down a path concealed by tall reeds, chanting jihadist songs, according to captured videos and other intelligence gathered by the U.S. military. Half of the men, who the military has said were affiliated with al-Qaeda in Iraq, wore suicide vests.

After months of planning, according to U.S. military intelligence, the well-armed and highly trained contingent of as many as 70 fighters set up a hasty camp beside a canal to make final preparations for their mission three miles to the north. It would be the first major counterattack targeting Ramadi.


Trained in a lake district north of Ramadi, the fighters approached by a circuitous route carefully planned to bypass checkpoints, Charlton said. They rode in two semitrucks with false compartments covered with hay. The trucks were packed with suicide vests, pressure-plate bombs, grenades, machine guns and sniper rifles -- enough to wage attacks in Ramadi for months, U.S. military officers said.

Facilitators prepared the area for the fighters' arrival, stashing weapons caches to defend their camp, located among prickly brush in a Bedouin area south of Ramadi. Once there, the fighters posed as shepherds and used nomad tents. When the U.S. patrol stumbled upon them, the insurgents were within days or hours of launching their attacks and were ready, as one U.S. officer said, "to fight to the death."


There is much more. Additional US forces arrived to help defeat the enemy force. The US had two KIA and killed at least 32 enemy. While this enemy force may have intended to make an attack on Ramadi. It was not a force sufficient to capture even a portion of the city much less push the US forces out of the area. As with most al Qaeda attacks it was primarily for its PR value to give the Democrats in Congress some talking points in their push for retreat. The Washington Post writer does her best to throw them some scrapes out of the al Qaeda defeat to use for that purpose. It is not enough. What the story really shows is that some relatively inexperienced troops overcame a numerically superior force and prevailed. This is the kind of action that deserves medals and commendations. It does not deserved to be used in someones talking points for defeat.

The Belmont Club discusses the battle as described by MSNBC. It is clear that the US forces are not demoralized and they are an effective fighting force against a determined enemy unit which they destroyed.


  1. You have got it exactly right. We put up a post citing your analysis, here.

    The interesting thing is that she seems to have gone out of her way to get the facts correct, but then cast them in an unrealistically pessimistic light.


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