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More outposts being built to accommodate troops for ‘surge’

American troops continue to build small, neighborhood outposts to support the troop “surge” in and around Baghdad, while the final extra Army brigade is poised to arrive in Iraq next month.

Units such as the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, have moved from larger foward operating bases to combat outposts. In the case of the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry, three new outposts named after soldiers from the unit killed in combat have replaced their home at Forward Operating Base Hammer. The combat outposts include Cleary, Cahill, and Cashe, in Wahida, Salman Pak, and Tuwaitha, respectively, officials said.

“To live with the populace and experience what they experience, you get a better appreciation for the area,” Maj. John Cushing, the battalion’s operations officer, was quoted as saying in a news release.

In one case, a combat outpost was built in a former government building and a set of greenhouses, officials said. The COPs, as the outposts are known, are being outfitted with showers and dining halls, among other amenities.

In another area of Baghdad, the eastern district of Sha’ab, officials are touting successes since February, when Iraqi police trucks with blood-stained beds looked “like they had just come from a butcher shop,” one officer said.

But now, the sectarian murders have largely ended, according to Capt. Will Canda, commander of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment.

The battalion patrols an area of the city that includes Sha’ab, Ur, and Sadr City. Some 20 percent of Baghdad’s population lives in the area, giving a ratio of one U.S. soldier for every 26,000 Iraqis, officials said.

While acknowledging there is still “a ways to go,” officials have said they’re confronting militias, failed local governments and breakdowns in public services.

That unit too operates from a combat outpost, this one named Callahan; it was formerly an upscale shopping center that had been abandoned.


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