Baqubah, Iraq – Today marks D+30 since the start of Operation Arrowhead Ripper. The initial goal of Arrowhead Ripper was to clear Baqubah of al Qaeda, and then attempt to “jump start” the city back into civic life, which had all but ceased while the terrorists were in control. Though relatively minor clearing operations are still underway, there is little combat in the city.
Today Colonel Steve Townsend, the American commander of the 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, presided over a meeting with Iraqi Army officers and former insurgent leaders. The insurgent leaders who seem to be sincerely working toward peace are now collectively referred to as “the Baqubah Guardians.” I was allowed to attend the meeting, but was—understandably—not permitted to photograph or videotape the proceedings.
Colonel Townsend clarified the purpose of the meeting; it was not to formalize relations or to establish a chain of command, but to work out ways of cooperating to bring better days to Baqubah.
Colonel Townsend’s staff had prepared a slideshow that started off with a draft of “7 Rules.” The final version of the 7 Rules were open to discussion and suggestions from those in attendance. The rules were followed by an Oath, also still in draft.
First Colonel Townsend reviewed the 7 Rules, presented here verbatim from the slides:
1) Protect your community from AQI, JAM and other terrorist militia.
2) Accept both peaceful Sunni, Shia and others.
3) Stay in your neighborhood/AO [area of operations] for your safety.
4) Take an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of Iraq.
5) Register with Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces [biometrics for CF].
6) For your safety, wear a standard uniform and markings [an example was proposed].
7) Receive hiring preference for Iraqi Police and Army.
Then came the Oath, also presented here verbatim from the slides:
1) I will support and defend the Constitution of Iraq.
2) I will cooperate fully with the Iraqi government.
3) I will guard my neighborhood, community and city.
4) I will bear no arms outside my home without coordination of Iraqi Security Forces or Coalition Forces
5) I will bear no arms against the Government of Iraq, Iraqi Security Forces or Coalition Forces.
6) I will not support sectarian agendas.
After the proposal for the 7 Rules and the Oath were presented, the most interesting — fascinating, really — part of the meeting unfolded…
Click here to read the full dispatch — with photos — from Michael Yon, from Iraq.
– Michael Yon is an independent writer, photographer, and former Green Beret who was embedded in Iraq for nine months in 2005. He has returned to Iraq for 2007 to continue reporting on the war. He is entirely reader supported and publishes his work at www.michaelyon-online.com.