Ambush In Sadr City, Iraq

Every night, U.S. troops in Sadr City roll their 60-ton armored Bradley fighting vehicles onto hostile streets, to play a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse.

Combat troops are wedged in cheek-by-jowl, the outside world reduced to one small screen.

In the turret, Lt. Col. Gary Volesky with the Army's First Cavalry Division is master of an array of deadly weapons.

The enemy targeted the patrol with eight roadside bombs. Most of them were spotted and destroyed.

But then, as CBS News Anchor Dan Rather reports, the lead vehicle hit an improvised explosive device, or IED. There were no casualties.

Then, a second bomb hit, launching a three-hour ordeal to retrieve both crippled Bradleys and evacuate the wounded.

Outside, as soldiers tried to fix their vehicles, militants closed in for the kill.

The gunmen never had a chance.

But at dawn, their enemy celebrated what they saw as a victory, despite those they lost.

Col. Abe Abrams says his soldiers have been fighting the Shi'ite militants of Sadr City since April.

As of today, Abrams says they are the most experienced combat soldiers in the U.S. Army.

"They've been in sustained combat operations for 80 straight days," he says. "There is no one in the Army who has the experience fighting in that dense terrain, over that length of time."

The soldiers spend daylight hours helping rebuild the infrastructure and the nights fighting those trying to stop them.

Some 500 mortars have been fired at this base alone, but morale is high and so is re-enlistment.

Asked if ever wished for a slightly better assignment, Capt. Trent Upton of the 1st Cavalry says, "No, I'm glad I'm here. I want to be in the tough place where I can do my duty, whatever that may be. This is exactly where I want to be."
  • Jaime Holguin

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