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In spring 2005, while embedded with an infantry battalion in southwest Baghdad, I was hanging out late one night in the battalion command post bs’ing with the battle captains when radio traffic suddenly spiked with reports of a massive attack on the Abu Ghraib prison compound, located just west of Baghdad. Hundreds of insurgents attacked the compound with suicide car bombers, accurate mortar, small arms and RPG fire, and simultaneously tried to seal off the battlespace; the first American reinforcements that rushed to the scene ran into clusters of roadside bombs and ambushes.
As the battalion command group packed into the TOC, orders came from division to spin-up a quick response force to rush to Abu Ghraib by an alternate route. The battalion commander decided to go in heavy, and use his 70-ton Abrams tanks to blast through any insurgent obstacles or ambushes along the route. He told one of his ablest company commanders, Capt. Ike Sallee, to ready his mechanized platoons. Within thirty minutes, Sallee radioed the TOC that his tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles were ready and assembled on the main road outside the FOB awaiting the go order. As it turned out, Apache gunships drove off the insurgent attack and Sallee was told to stand down. While Sallee’s soldiers didn’t end up battling the insurgents that night, there is every reason to believe their training, coupled with superior technology - thermal sights, heavy armor and overwhelming firepower - would have easily tipped the scales.