On 12 July 2007, an Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment embarked on a mission to clear Al-Amin District of New Baghdad of Anti-Iraqi Forces, aka Mehdi Militia, aka Jayish al-Mahdi in order to provide freedom of maneuver to Coalition Forces. By 10:20 AM, Baghdad time, they had taken significant amounts of SAF (small arms fire) and RPG (rocket propelled grenade) fire, sporadically. Two AH-64D's were in the area and responded. What would happen next would inspire a movie, that would be nominated for an Oscar, but not win one.
"Now the war is over and in a lot of ways we're still fighting it. It is my accretion that despite what many leaders of this very government said publicly or otherwise, we won. We won through the blood sweat and tears of the troops on the ground, that refused to give up." Doc Bailey
To understand the situation, one must realize the Mehdi Militia was led by Moqtada al-Sadr, a relative of Bani al-Sadr, who had mentored the Ayatollah Khomeni. Moqtada's father had been assassinated, allowing the firebrand mulllah to take the reins of power his father had once held. Moqtada was at the time, for all intents and purposes, the dictator of a Million Man slum in North Baghdad controlled 100% by his Mehdi Militia.
Moqtada al-Sadr regularly escaped to Iran to live under the protection of Iran when things got too hot for him in Iraq. He is believed to have been behind the assassination of his own father. The Mehdi Militia and al-Sadr were atrocious terrorists.
"They were smart lethal and cruel. I treated a boy that had been drug out of his home kicking and screaming in full view of his mother, doused with gasoline and lit on fire. This boy was perhaps 8 or 9. What sin had this boy committed? None as far as the Terp who questioned the mother could ascertain." Doc Bailey
When the Apaches arrived on scene, they immediately began a search for the AIF, i.e. Mehdi Militia, that had been shooting at Our Troops. They identified one insurgent aiming an RPG at a HumVee. They identified a group of other insurgents with AK-47's and RPG's gathering in front of a building. They reported their findings to the Ground Commander, and in order to prevent a friendly fire incident, requested permission to fire. They were cleared to fire. When the smoke and dust cleared, it appeared the enemy had been neutralized, i.e. killed or wounded beyond capacity to continue to fight.
Soon, a black mini-van arrived with more "military aged males." These men jumped out of the truck and began moving around the area of the weapons and at least one wounded military age man, which they proceeded to pick up and put in the van. It appeared to be an operation to either re-enforce the Mehdi Militia insurgents, or to clean the evidence that the dead terrorists were armed. The Apache pilot requested permission to engage the mini-van. He received permission and fired, disabling the van, killing its driver.
"Van that came on scene came a little too quickly, and to many observers that day seemed to come as if summoned. Two military aged males jumped out.." Doc Bailey
The insurgent stronghold had been neutralized, and within minutes Infantry & Medics of B/2/16 entered the area to secure it. Multiple AK-47's, RPG-7's, RPG rounds, and 2 Canon cameras were discovered. A couple of insurgents had survived, and were treated by the medics. The van was secured and aside from the dead insurgents, two children were discovered inside, one wounded, and the other motionless. A medic began working to save the life of the wounded female child. She was evacuated to a Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV) tasked with Casualty Evacuation. The boy moved. He was alive. He too was evacuated to the BFV.
"The children were treated by one of the very best medics I have ever known, and transported to FOB Loyalty, where they went on to the 28th CSH." Doc Bailey
Ryan Searles, the Senior B Company Medic, was first on the scene of the van, along with a battle buddy. His element pushed past it, dealt with insurgents shooting from the rooftops, and then inspected the van, finding the wounded girl. He made the call to use the BFV for CasEvac, and carried her to it. Someone saw the boy had moved, and Searles returned for him, with his battle buddy. Inside the BFV, he continued treating both children, until they were handed off to the Doctors of FOB Loyalty.
The Medics worked to preserve their lives, until they could reach a Doctor for more thorough treatment. Another Medic worked to save the lives of the wounded insurgents. The wounded insurgents were evacuated by Iraqi Police, while the wounded children were evacuated to FOB Loyalty, stabilized, and transferred to (Iraqi) Medical City in West Baghdad, the following day.
"I, as 2nd Platoon's Medic, gave care to two men who perhaps 15 minutes earlier were trying to kill me and mine" Doc Bailey
The scene was secured and turned over to the Iraqi Police. The weapons & cameras were secured and turned over to military authorities for processing. The deceased Iraqi insurgents were the responsibility of the Iraqi Police, to handle in accordance with Iraqi customs. It had been a long, hard day, but a Victory against the Mehdi Militia. The men of B/2/16 had walked into the lair of the enemy, kicked his butt, and left on their own terms.
But by the end of the day, Reuters was reporting that two of its reporters had been killed by an American helicopter that had been involved in "random aerial bombardment," while they were "taking photographs of a damaged building." Things were going sideways but the only clue that B/2/16 was involved was that Reuters reported the event occurred in the al-Amin al-Thaniyah neighborhood and "9 other people" had been killed.
"There was nothing identifiable that they were at the time of the incident. They were not wearing distinctive vests, or have any kind of markings that could be clearly seen." Doc Bailey
The cameras afforded no indication that "press" might have been in the mix. It had long been the MO of the Mehdi Militia, as well as Al-Qaeda, to film their attacks. In fact, as early as 2005, one of the best indicators that you were about to get attacked was to see someone taking pictures/video of you. In time, it was learned that these propaganda videos were demanded by higher level terrorists as proof, before payment was made. Every Soldier knew to watch for cameras, as well as weapons.
This time, the cameras had been recovered. The first RPG noted had been an EOS Canon with telephoto lens. Date-time stamps on the digital memory card and Apache gun-camera proved the camera was pointed and taking pictures of an American HumVee, using the exact tactics that an RPG grenadier used at the time in New Baghdad, Iraq.
"but the fact that he was in a perfect firing position (as his pictures show) to destroy a HMMWV makes it clear that he was a threat. I know a lot of civilians can not wrap their minds around this one but if that had been the RPG tube (which its only really able to be seen after the fact with much enhancement) he could have had a catastrophic kill on that vehicle" Doc Bailey
Other pictures on the camera included that of an American General, giving an update, in the Green Zone. This camera memory card had been in the most secure places in the country, and the heart of enemy territory. It also contained pictures believed to be of the journalist, apparently in the Green Zone.
The military immediately launched an investigation. The children had barely began treatment at the Iraqi hospital, before an Investigating Officer was on the ground, asking the Medics & Officers, and anyone else they thought pertinent, who saw what and when. Did anyone see anyone that might not have been a combatant? Yes, in the aftermath they found two wounded kids in the minivan. Anyone else? No, everyone else appeared to be military aged males involved in the combat that day.
But the Press Passes had been returned to Reuters!?! Reuters had a report in their hands that said 11 people, including their two "innocent" journalists had been shot in a "random bombardment" while they were just taking pictures of a damaged building. Those "journalists" had not been wearing anything that identified them as "Press" and had not attempted to convince anyone that they were press when the shooting started. Where ever they had hid those "Press" ID's, they weren't found until after the Iraqi Police had taken control of the dead bodies.
Two years later, the whole thing would explode again. A Private, who now claims he was too distraught about being gay, and in the Military, to be allowed to have access to classified information illegally downloaded the information from a classified system. He sent it to Julian Assange, who claims he is to gay to have sexually assaulted two European women. Assange launched it online, with the name "Collateral Murder." It was to make Assange a rich man, and make WikiLeaks a household name. The pair would go on to conduct an espionage operation that put hundreds of Iraqis and Afghans in danger for their lives, and publish hundreds of thousands of classified reports, some of which amounted to diplomatic gossip and others which were far more deadly.
The video footage was grainy, but the anti-war crowd had put arrows pointing to white blobs where the children had later been found and arrows pointing out who in the crowd the two journalists were. They ignored the more obvious things in the video, like the Mehdi Militia flag, the AK-47's, and the RPG's. Eventually, the hype over the video died down, but that was only a lull.
Soon, an IVAW member took the stage to tell kids and peaceniks, he was there. Ethan McCord claims he was the one that found the kids and carried the girl to the Bradley. He described Soldiers out of control and shooting up Iraq on a whim. He claims carrying that kid reminded him of his own children. The peaceniks ate it up. They invited him to speak time after time. He was the new celebrity of the IVAW. Unlike other IVAW members, McCord actually was on the ground in Iraq, and he was in New Baghdad that day.
But it was Ryan Searles that had treated that little girl. He was the Senior Company Medic. And despite the immediate radio communications, those kids had been taken and treated at FOB Loyalty. The sworn statement by the Company Commander says it was a Medic, not an Infantryman, he had tasked with treating the girl. And the Company Commander had no reason to mess up that detail. He wrote it 48 hours after the event, and 4 years before McCord would claim he was the hero.
And it didn't take long before McCord got the attention of a filmmaker and a few journalists. They saw fame, acclaim, and profit in publicizing the story of an Infantryman turned from the atrocious life of warfare in a short film that Hollywood bigshots would love for the political fallout.
The unit awoke. Members of B/2/16 Infantry may have sat silent while the WikiLeaks fallout blew over, and some had not known their old colleague had turned on them for 30 pieces of silver, but when the short film was nominated for an Oscar, everyone knew. It was time for them to get the truth out, but how? Doc Bailey was there that day. He had treated the insurgents. He formed a FB group for the Troops to tell their part. It didn't take long for members of the MilBlog community to show up. They offered to tell the rest of the story. And a Washington Post journalist offered as well.
The WaPo is bigger than War On Terror News, or BlackFive, or Assoluta Tranquillita. If this went well, they'd have the Truth out to the Nation, not just an internet news site, or MilBlog. Three Veterans of the battle agreed to talk to him. The WaPo reporter listened to the stories of 3 other Soldiers that were there that day. He wrote an "unbiased" article that reduced it down to "He said, they said." The weight of testimony of 3 Soldiers was less than that of McCord, in his article.
I don't blame these Veterans of the "Incident in New Baghdad" for being distrustful of me. I may be a Veteran, but I have "News" associated with me. There are plenty of "Professional Journalists" out there that can claim to be Veterans, but are neither fair to or unbiased against the Troops.
The bottom line is this: On 12 July 2007, two Arab reporters, working for Reuters, were mixing it up with Mehdi Militia terrorists, 100 yards or less from US Troops that were being attacked by those same terrorists. The two reporters were less than arms length from armed insurgents when they were killed. Other terrorists chose to bring children into the battle, and NO ONE saw those kids until the battle was over. When B/2/16 arrived on the scene, Our Medics used every tool in their medical capacity to save the lives of two insurgents that had been attempting to kill them and those two children that the enemy had brought to the battlefield.
The 15-6 Investigation: Download Incident in New Baghdad 070717-2nd-BCT-15-6