By Sgt. Maj. Eric Lobsinger
4th Infantry Division public affairs
BAGHDAD — The efforts of the soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division and Multinational Division-Baghdad, along with their partners from the Iraqi security forces, have been bearing fruit and are clearly evident as the division enters its 10th month in Iraq.
Their combined efforts have led to safer and more secure neighborhoods for the people of Iraq as the populace strives for a return to normalcy in the capital city.
“Protecting the population is our No. 1 mission, as directed by Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond,” said Col. Allen Batschelet, the division’s chief of staff, in speaking of the guidance provided by the division’s commanding general. “Protecting the population is our first and most essential task.”
To accomplish this, the division has the vital tasks of ensuring the brigade combat teams are provided the resources, the personnel, the equipment and the funding that they need in order to be successful, explained Batschelet.
The results of these efforts bear witness to the successes of the brigades and the division.
The increases in security our clearly evident when comparing the historical number of overall extremists and militant attacks within MND-B’s operational environment.
In July 2007, there were more than 1,100 attacks, or an average of 27 attacks per day in the area. This compares with less than 100 attacks for the month of July this year, an average of three attacks per day. In fact, the three month average for July, August and through the mid-point of September has been three attacks per day, which is an astonishing 87 percent decrease in that time period.
This trend has been mirrored in the reduction of attacks by the militants and extremists on the civilian population as well.
In July 2007, there were 225 attacks directed against the Iraqi people, which resulted in 736 civilian casualties. In July of this year, that number dropped to 16 attacks resulting in 52 civilian casualties and 26 attacks in August with 40 casualties. This represents an 86 percent reduction in attacks targeting the population and a 92 percent decrease in civilian casualties. There was also a 98 percent decrease in murder events and a 99 percent decrease in murder victims during this period as well.
The reasons for this dramatic decrease in violence are many and varied, said Batschelet, who explained the division was presented an opportunity by the 1st Cavalry Division, which is the Ivy Division’s brethren unit from Fort Hood.
“We picked up where they left off,” he said. “We made a couple of key adjustments that fit our circumstances.”
Perhaps one of the most key influences in achieving these dramatic reductions of violence was the emphasis by the commanding general to put soldiers out on the streets of Baghdad, where they are currently operating out of 53 joint security stations and 20 combat outposts and are now living amongst the people they were charged with protecting.
The soldiers adopted Hammond’s philosophy of — attack, attack, attack — when it came to removing the extremists and militants as a threat for the local populace. This attack style can clearly been seen through the aggressive approach to safeguarding the security for the citizens of Baghdad.
Since the 4th Infantry Division conducted its transfer of authority with the 1st Cavalry Division, it has conducted more than 2,500 company level or higher operations since Dec. 19, 2007. These included more than 500 raids, more than 1,300 cordon and knock or cordon and search missions, in addition to more than 650 clearing operations.
The number of patrols conducted by the division to date is mind-staggering — more than 394,000 patrols — which include more than 45,000 combined patrols, more than 208,000 Coalition Forces patrols, more than 34,000 Iraqi Army patrols and more than 106,000 Iraqi Police patrols.
Accomplishing this task has fallen squarely upon the shoulders of the more than 28,000 service members and coalition forces assigned to Bagdad’s five brigade combat teams and three enabler brigades: 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division; 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division; 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Brigade Combat Team.; 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division; 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division; Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division; 18th Military Police Brigade; the 926th Engineer Brigade.; in addition to two Macedonian platoons and an Estonian platoon.
The division’s soldiers brought a significant amount of experience with them to theater as more than 8,600 of the soldiers are on their second deployment. Additionally, more than 4,300 are on their third deployment and approximately 2,000 on their fourth deployment or more. Less than half of the soldiers, approximately 11,000, are on their first deployments.
The combined efforts of the coalition and Iraqi security forces have resulted in the detainment of more than 630 al-Qaida in Iraq members and more than 710 special groups operatives. Additionally, they have seized approximately 500 improvised-explosive devices, more than 1,600 pounds of C4 explosives, more than 420 explosively formed penetrators, approximately 500 explosively formed penetrator bodies, more than 860 rockets, more than 8,500 mortar rounds, more than 2,300 artillery rounds, approximately 1,900 rocket-propelled grenades and more than 11,000 rifles.
The soldiers also have been concentrating their efforts on helping to expand the healthcare and education systems as well as helping to establish water-purification systems, power substations and cleaning the streets of debris.
Although their have been tremendous successes since the division arrived in country, the successes have also come at a price.
“A lot of sacrifices have been made by both the soldiers, their families and the American people,” Batschelet said. “We are, and I know everyone at home is, proud of our soldiers and family members for all that they have endured and achieved.”