FOB NORMANDY, Iraq -- Capt. Chris Hassan and Second Platoon, Charlie Company had a different mission scheduled with their Iraqi Army partners. Plans changed in the wake of an unsuccessful rocket attack against American forces the previous night.
"Jesus, that's down by Warhorse," the 28-year-old Hassan spluttered as the headquarters of 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment radioed the new instructions.
Each of the 1-25th Stryker Brigade Combat Team's sub-commands wields responsibility over designated portions of Dilaya Province. The rockets took off from a grove less than 10 miles from the brigade's headquarters at Forward Operating Base Warhorse, near Ba'qubah.
The platoon's home borders Muqdadiyah, roughly 90 minutes north. It might have made sense for soldiers from the closer base to respond. But Iraqis call the shots on U.S. involvement since June 30, and the IA command in Diyala Province wanted the assistance of Hassan's Strykers searching the date palm grove linked to the attack.
Local police met the combined force of Americans and Iraqis shortly after 8 a.m. in a village near the Shaki River. Hassan directed his soldiers down a narrow road, bordered with mud walls on either side, toward the grove targeted for searching. As the road emptied into a grassy field, the local sheik arrived with news.
"Guys were seen escaping when the rockets were launched," the sheik explained through a translator.