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'Route Irish' Blog

category international | anti-war / imperialism | other press author Monday February 07, 2005 15:42author by 'Route Irish' Blog Report this post to the editors

an blog of media references to 'Route Irish'

'Route Irish' is what the Pentagon and US Troops call the road from Baghdad Airport...

Blog media references to 'Route Irish' below...



author by 'Route Irish' Blogpublication date Mon Feb 07, 2005 15:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

General Richard Myers:
Morale was good.  Everywhere we went.  Tough work, I had breakfast with some folks that just got off [Route Irish], the one that runs between Baghdad and the airport, and the troops are very realistic about what they face but they're also very confident they can face what the issues were.  There were some guys that had been up all night working their part of that route, and nevertheless being tired and just coming off a fairly challenging mission were proud to be doing what they were doing.

Thielen and Soldiers from 2-14 Inf. were escorting an explosive ordinance detachment to a suspected improvised explosive device along Route Irish, a notoriously dangerous road between the International Zone and Camp Victory. An Iraqi vehicle approached the convoy and attempted to ram Thielen’s humvee in the side....

Yesterday personnel from a private security company were traveling on Route Irish when their convoy was attacked in northwest Baghdad from an overpass by crew served weapons.  One Iraqi security guard was killed and one was wounded.  The wounded Iraqi citizen is receiving treatment at a coalition medical facility.


author by 'Route Irish' Blogpublication date Mon Feb 07, 2005 16:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The battalion’s 10-member vehicle recovery team is responsible for collecting inoperable vehicles in the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division’s operating area around much of Baghdad.

“Most have been around central Baghdad,” said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas McDiffitt, vehicle recovery team noncommissioned officer in charge. “Fifty to 60 percent have been on Route Irish (the road from central Baghdad to the airport), the rest were north and northwest Baghdad.”

Some people call this road, the only way from the airport to Baghdad's Green Zone, the most dangerous highway in Iraq. Lately, it has become a magnet for enormous, fiery explosions. People boast that they've traveled it and are relieved when they make it from one end to the other. To the Army, it's just Route Irish.

"Recently, we escorted trucks back down to Kuwait. ... We've done everything from convoy security, VIP escorts, dismounted and mounted patrols, secured areas that were hit by car bombs, secured money from Baghdad banks, runs up and down Route Irish to the International Zone ... we've done it all," he said.

The two soldiers will recover and by now it's clear that three Australian light armoured vehicles were attacked in the suicide car bomb incident on Route Irish in Baghdad.

The attack on Australian troops occurred about 5km from the Australian Embassy. Three light armoured vehicles were in a convoy ferrying diplomats between the embassy and Baghdad Airport along a four-lane urban road known as Route Irish.
Senator Hill denied suggestions Australians were being specifically targeted, saying suicide bombers were "loitering" along Route Irish, waiting for military vehicles.,5936,12074145%255E911,00.html

author by 'Route Irish' to Sanctuary Projectpublication date Mon Feb 21, 2005 18:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Road with a bad Rep
The Army got the bad guys off Baghdad's airport route. Now, about the good guys...

By Julian E. Barnes

As Capt. Mike Drew led his patrol slowly down Baghdad's notorious airport road, a man came running toward him across the median, waving a small American flag. Drew called his patrol to a halt and got out of his humvee. The man said he had driven to Camp Victory, the U.S. base next to the airport, for a $3 haircut. He was on his way back to the Green Zone, where the U.S. Embassy is located, when a convoy of trucks sped past his BMW. A gunner in the convoy fired a .50-caliber gun into the hood of the car. "I stuck my hand out the window, waving this flag, shouting, 'I'm an American!' "the man told Drew. "And he still shot me."

The highway connecting the Baghdad airport with the Green Zone--what the military calls Route Irish--has come to be known by many westerners in Iraq as "the road of death" and "the most dangerous road in the world." Late last year, insurgent attacks prompted the State Department and the British government to bar staffers from using the road, requiring helicopter transport between the airport and the Green Zone. Private security consultants recommend travel only in armored cars. As a result, the airport road became a symbol of the military's inability to provide security in Iraq.

New reality. Today, though, the major threat on the road may no longer be snipers, insurgents with grenade launchers, or suicide bombers. What drivers most need to fear: trigger-happy security contractors. "The most dangerous thing on Route Irish is its legend," says Lt. Col. Geoffrey Slack, whose 1-69 Infantry from the New York National Guard patrols the road. "As a result of its legend, civilian contractors fire indiscriminately."

author by 'Route Irish' to Sanctuary Projectpublication date Wed Mar 09, 2005 22:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

New York Nerve, Tested on Meanest Streets

"Taji? It's one of those things when you get in the vehicle and you say, 'Is today my day?' " said Sgt. Javish J. Rosa, 25, from Washington Heights in Manhattan. "Anywhere you ride, you feel like you're going to die." The battalion was reassigned a few weeks ago to Camp Liberty, a military base in Baghdad, and was given the job of safeguarding a roughly five-mile stretch of highway linking the Baghdad airport and the green zone, the fortified compound that houses American and Iraqi government buildings. The trash-strewn highway, known as Route Irish within the military, is frequently called the most dangerous road in Iraq.

author by eeekkkkpublication date Wed Mar 09, 2005 22:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors


author by 'Route Irish' to Sanctuary Projectpublication date Wed Mar 09, 2005 22:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Danger on Route Irish
by Austin Bay
March 8, 2005

My Army staff section dubbed the dangerous high-speed dash through Baghdad "Route Irish Racing." Route Irish is the military code name for the 8 kilometers of highway linking Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) with the Green Zone.

When heavily armed and armored men cram into Ford SUVs, jam the pedal to the floor and weave through freeway traffic at 70 miles an hour, film fans may think Road Warrior or the Keystone Kops. However, the Road Warrior's auto macho and the Kops' slapstick car chases are misleading.

War in a sprawling, complex megacity isn't a movie that ends in two hours -- it's a relentless experience where training, courage and discipline are constantly challenged by fear and adrenaline.


U.S. soldiers fired on Sgrena's speeding car as it approached their roadblock. The fire killed Italian security agent Nicola Calipari. His death is a tragic mistake. President Bush says we'll investigate the incident. I suspect Italian officers serving with multinational forces will help conduct that investigation. We need the facts.

author by 'Route Irish' to Sanctuary Projectpublication date Tue Mar 15, 2005 15:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This was during the early-morning hours of Halloween, when a rocket-propelled grenade tore through the roof of a vehicle in which he was riding shotgun, seriously wounding Young and two other soldiers.

His unit was moving at a cautious 10 mph down Route Irish, or Airport Road -- known to be one of the most dangerous stretches of road in Iraq -- doing one of the twice-daily IED (Improvised Explosive Device) sweeps he went out on every day.

"I was sitting there looking at the side of the road," he recalled. "Next thing I know, there’s a lot of explosions -- a fireball and smoke and everything else. We were pretty much knocked silly."

When the smoke cleared and he could hear again, Young called out to see if everyone was OK. They were not.

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author by 'Route Irish' to Sanctuary Projectpublication date Fri Mar 25, 2005 13:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Two Years in Iraq: 2005 to be 'Pivotal,' General Says

The Iraqis’ and coalition’s vision for Iraq’s security forces “is becoming a reality,” he said, as they grow in numbers and capabilities so they are able “to take over this counterinsurgency fight and provide for the security of their own people.”

Iraq’s security forces “are earning their spurs,” demonstrating tenacity as they face insurgents and gaining confidence as they do so, Weber said at the Multinational Force Iraq’s Camp Victory headquarters.

“You just drive up and down Route Irish between here and the embassy and you can see them in uniform. They are squared away, they have their gear, they are very professional in what they are doing,” he said. “And as that capacity builds and spreads, the people are going to gain confidence in their own security forces.”

author by Barrypublication date Fri Mar 25, 2005 14:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

erm...except that is when the citizens of Iraq keep waking up and finding their headless corpses strewn about the place on a weekly basis.

Or when every few weeks they seem to end up in a shoot out with their US allies.

But maybe im just nit-picking on that one.

call me sceptical

author by eeekkkkpublication date Sun Apr 17, 2005 19:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Marla Ruzicka, a former protege of Medea Benjamin --according to Alternet -- "has been working tirelessly in Iraq to help the many innocent victims of the U.S. invasion." The site for Marla's work is CIVIC, where you can sign up for Marla's journals from Iraq. The "About Us" page explains that "CIVIC seeks to mitigate the impact of the conflict and its aftermath on the people of Iraq by ensuring that timely and effective life-saving assistance is provided to those in need." The site offers no news yet of Marla's death"

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author by eeekkkpublication date Sun Apr 17, 2005 20:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

this story is not being reported to any extent - bloggers are very suspicious of what has happened as they are taking into account the 'italian incident'.

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author by eeekkkkkpublication date Wed Apr 27, 2005 16:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"All aircraft come only for Americans," Samson says. "So ... for people going and coming from the airport, because everyone knows they work for the Americans" they're a target. "Everyone working for the Americans must be killed, this is what they think."

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author by redjadepublication date Mon May 09, 2005 13:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Lieutenant General James T. Conway, Director, Operations, Joint Staff
Defense Department Regular Briefing

Q General, to get back to the IEDs. The Baghdad road, for some of us it seems difficult to understand why it's been so hard to have a relatively short stretch of road -- why it's been so hard to secure that area of road. Can you help us understand why that road today is still such a hotbed of insurgent activity, why it's so dangerous still?

GEN. CONWAY: Well, not entirely, but I will offer a few thoughts. I think that the insurgents realize the political and the media value in continuing to have Route Irish be perceived, at least, to be as dangerous as it is. They are willing to accept the risk associated with attempting to lay those weapons, because what you don't hear about are the number of Iraqis that are intercepted, the number of IEDs that are found and those types of things. I just think it's one of these areas where they deem that it's sufficiently worth the cost to continue to try to lay the IEDs alongside the road. There are --

-- -- --

Dueling views of the Sgrena shooting
It reached a US checkpoint stopping traffic feeding onto "Route Irish," the notoriously dangerous highway to Baghdad International Airport.

But the two reports disagree over whether the Italian car approached at a reasonable speed and whether it accelerated or slowed down once warnings were given.

-- -- --

Italian report on Iraq shooting fails to impress
5 May, 2005

Calipari was shot dead at a US army checkpoint on the evening of March 4 while he was escorting an Italian hostage, journalist Giuliana Sgrena, to Baghdad airport.

The agent had just completed his secret mission – that is, to secure her release through negotiations with her Iraqi captors – and was seated next to Sgrena on the back seat of a grey Toyota travelling on Iraq’s notoriously dangerous ‘Route Irish’.

-- -- --

GI cleared in Iraq killing
May 5, 2005
According to the report, at about 8:50 p.m. March 4, Italian agent Andrea Carpani was driving the car carrying Calipari and Sgrena as they headed to Baghdad airport along Route Irish, which is known for its roadside explosive attacks. Two days before the Italians were shot, two soldiers from Brown's unit, the 69th Regiment, were killed by a roadside bomb.

-- -- --

Iraqi insurgents' attacks evolve in attempt to trip up U.S. forces
Robert Burns,  Associated Press
May 8, 2005
The report described the highway from downtown Baghdad to Baghdad International Airport, west of the city, as particularly vulnerable because there is no alternative route.

"These conditions make Route Irish [the military's name for the route] a lucrative target for insurgents to employ improvised explosive devices of varying types," the report said. It cited "a large number of evolving techniques" adopted by the insurgents to plant IEDs.

U.S. officials have described some of these techniques, which include placing artillery shells in concrete casings meant to look like ordinary cinder blocks or beneath animal carcasses.

-- -- --

Loisaida Guardsman guards Baghdad’s highway to hell
The entire unit works on three shifts mainly guarding the Baghdad International Airport highway, known by the military as Route Irish. It is by far the most dangerous stretch of road anywhere in the country. Albeit that it is only 7 miles long, the daily attacks are routinely portrayed on the evening news and newspaper front pages around the world.

It was Mojica’s unit that was involved with the shooting of Italian journalist and former hostage Giuliana Sgrena. The incident, which is still under investigation, wounded her and left one of her bodyguards dead.

author by redjadepublication date Fri May 20, 2005 18:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Galva unit spent much of its time patrolling Route Irish, a two-mile road leading from Baghdad International Airport on the southwest edge of Baghdad to the Green Zone. It was an assignment few would want.

"The State Department calls it the most dangerous two miles in Iraq, and we got stuck with it," Kessel said.

Despite that, Kessel asked his men to conduct their service guided by three P's:

- Be polite.
- Be professional.
- Be prepared to kill.

author by 'Route Irish' to Sanctuary Projectpublication date Mon May 30, 2005 17:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

May 26, 6 p.m.
Capt. Neele Brus, an Estonian press officer with the coalition forces, greets us in the 110-degree heat outside the Baghdad airport and escorts us to the optimistically named Camp Victory just outside the airport. This way, we don't have to travel to Baghdad on one of the most dangerous roads in Iraq – the road that connects the airport and the city, known among the military as "ambush alley" and "Route Irish." This is the road where Marla Ruzicka, a human rights worker from Lakeport (Lake County, northern California), died when a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of security contractors passing next to her car last month.

"That road has not changed for the better," Capt. Brus said. "Baghdad is only 10 miles away, but you just can't go there."

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author by 'Route Irish' to Sanctuary Projectpublication date Tue Jun 07, 2005 15:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mr Ahmelman, 34, of Queensland, and two other security workers employed by British-based firm Edinburgh Risk, American James Hunt and Canadian Stefan Surette, were killed.

The Baghdad-to-airport highway, known as Route Irish, is the deadliest arterial road in Iraq, with insurgents seeking to attack military, officials or corporate managers and their security escorts as they arrive or try to leave the country.

The US military is now flying most diplomats and officials by helicopter from the airport, formerly known as Saddam International, to the Green Zone in central Baghdad.

Related Link:,5478,15461956%255E662,00.html
author by eeekkkkkpublication date Wed Jun 08, 2005 00:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A brutal death in Baghdad's gridlock

By Paul McGeough Chief Herald Correspondent in Baghdad
June 8, 2005

Chris Ahmelman … died after being shot at least three times.

In the last terrible minutes of his life, the world Chris Ahmelman and his buddies thought they knew so well collapsed in confusion, chaos and - for three of them - death.

The Australian security contractor was pinned down with seven others near Baghdad International Airport. They did not even know where the insurgency fire was coming from - and they made too many mistakes as skill and instinct deserted them.

Ordinarily, the war in Iraq moves so fast that back-tracking to ask "how?" and "why?" can be difficult. But James Yeager, an American colleague of Ahmelman who survived the attack, has written a chilling seven-page account that is being passed around in Baghdad.

As they set out for the airport from the Edinburgh Risk and Security Management bunker on May 20 it would have been difficult to disguise their convoy - a bullet-proof Mercedes and two soft-skin BMWs. But their 20-plus weapons were out of sight and they hoped their Arab dress would let them blend in among the locals.

However, seeming to be local backfired when they came to a US-manned barrier at the scene of yet another roadside bombing. They looked so local that they risked drawing friendly fire if they attempted to move up to shelter under the American guns.

So they sat in no man's land, chit-chatting by radio as they willed on the Americans to reopen the road before their cover was blown.

As Yeager explains it, every member of a private security detail has his assigned tasks and his AOR (area of responsibility) which is allocated as though the convoy is at the centre of the clock. Yeager was driving Car 1 and his AOR was 8 to 12 o'clock, roughly the top-left quarter of the dial.

Ahmelman, 34, was the driver of Car 3. With him were Jay Hunt, his rear gunner, whose AOR was 3 to 9 o'clock; and the overall team leader Al Johnson, whose AOR was 12 to 3 o'clock.

But then, as Yeager tells it, Johnson suddenly and quite bizarrely alighted from Car 3, firing bursts from his MP5 submachine-gun into the air. Yeager suggests that, subsequently, Johnson told him he had been trying to warn off Iraqi motorists banking up behind them. But apart from neglecting his own AOR, Johnson had pretty well blown any cover they had left; every Iraqi and any insurgency "dicker" - or lookout - on a nearby slip road, now had to know a Western private security detail was stranded on the highway.

Frightened that the Americans at the bomb site up the road would look in their direction and see what they thought was an Iraqi firing into the air, Yeager decided it was best to whip off his Arab disguise - thereby revealing his identity to the Iraqis around him in the traffic.

They had been directly under a highway overpass, but after 10 minutes they edged the cars forward about 100 metres.

The engines were still running and, in Yeager's case, Car 1 was in neutral and the emergency brake was on.
Ian Harris, the marksman in Car 2, was the first to notice the small white sedan on a slip road running parallel to the highway and about 75 metres away from it.

Yeager writes: "He asked that someone look at it - Mark (in Car 1) had a telescopic sight. He said it was parked; the sole occupant was talking on the phone; wasn't paying attention to us, wasn't a threat. I said aloud: 'He's a f---ing dicker!"'

The shooting erupted in less than five minutes. Yeager writes: "I thought to myself, what the f--- is Johno (Johnson, the team leader) shooting at now? [But] then I felt rounds hitting the car and I heard the distinctive supersonic crack of a round as it passed right through the car. It was inches from my face. Stef Surette yelled 'I'm hit'."

Yeager says that in the minutes before the attack, the other two in his car - medic and vehicle commander Surette and rear gunner and medic Mark Collen - saw what appeared to be classic insurgency pre-positioning for a drive-by shooting: a big white SUV with tinted windows rolled down the slip-road, did a U-turn and returned to face the security team.

Collen saw the passenger window was down, but he dismissed it as a potential threat as he concentrated on his own AOR. Yeager was becoming exasperated: "There were two other people with AORs in which the attack came from. They were in Cars 2 and 3, and nobody reported anything."
But then Yeager slipped up himself, which he admits with disarming honesty. Deciding it was time to get out of the area, he hit the accelerator, but the car would not move.

Thinking the engine had taken a hit, he immediately did what he was supposed to do in such circumstances - abandon the vehicle. It was only as he hit the dirt that he remembered: he was not in an automatic. He had put the BMW in neutral and engaged the emergency brake.

Yeager does not use the word panic, but readers might draw their own conclusion. "I moved to the right wheel. I wanted to kill the terrorists but nobody had told me direction, description or distance. If I couldn't make hits I was sure going to make noise."

Then Yeager saw that Collen had followed his lead and he too had abandoned Car 1. Yeager decided to become a smaller target by getting right away from the vehicle.

He ran and sprawled on the edge of the median strip, shooting at the houses beyond the slip road but "feeling useless" because he still did not know where the shooting came from.

Sporadic gunfire from Cars 2 and 3 caused him to believe that his other five colleagues were still in this fight against an unseen enemy, but then: "I looked at Car 3 and I saw Jay Hunt [the rear gunner] with blood all over his crotch. I heard him calmly telling [the team leader] Johno: 'I'm hit in the femoral, buddy'.

"Jay slid towards the front of the car so that Johno could apply first aid from behind the safety of the engine block. I looked at Chris [Ahmelman] - he was still in the driver's seat, slumped lifelessly towards the door. Car 2 was OK. Stef was out of Car 1. I didn't realise the extent of his injuries, but he was going down."

At this stage Yeager says he got no reply when he yelled: "Who are we shooting at?"

They tried to move Car 2 to cover the medic Mark Collen as he treated Stef Surette's wounds. But unlike Car 1, it was knocked out of action. Yeager, who describes himself as a "12-year cop" without military experience, went to Car 3. "Johno was working frantically on Jay's injuries - calling for help. He was trying to cover 360 degrees and work on Jay at the same time. Jay was still breathing, but his respirations were becoming laboured."

It was over in a flash - most of the noise had been their own chaotic response to the carefully placed shots of an insurgency marksman who had long fled the scene.

The Americans arrived and took control of the mop-up, ordering Yeager to retrieve Ahmelman's body from the white BMW.

"He began to fall out as I opened the door. I caught him, but as I pulled him out, the car started to roll forward - it was going to crush Jay. I had to drop Chris's body, and run around the opposite side of the car, to get in.
"Chris was wounded through the leg first. But instead of [trying to get away from the cars], he spent the last seconds of his life telling Johno about it [until] he took another round through the throat and another through his head."

Jay Hunt and Stef Surette died from their injuries in a US combat hospita

author by 'Route Irish' to Sanctuary Projectpublication date Wed Jun 08, 2005 15:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's just 12 kilometres long, but those who use Route Irish in Baghdad say it's way beyond the edge, writes Paul McGeough.

The colour fades from Amar's knuckles as he grips the wheel. He eases the car towards the on-ramp and plants his foot, whipping the Nissan till it is nudging 140kmh as we enter Route Irish - the most dangerous stretch of highway on earth.

At the city end is the Green Zone, the fortress-like government, military and diplomatic quarter in the heart of Baghdad. At the other are Baghdad International Airport and the US military headquarters in Iraq.

Between them is this terrifying void that must be chanced by all who come to the Iraqi capital. The Americans have opened a helicopter bridge to reduce the number of VIPs at risk. And an extortionist Baghdad-based security firm offers bullet-proof taxi rides - $3000-plus one-way.

But because Route Irish is the only way in and the only way out, it's a terrorist's gift, a ready-made shooting gallery in which there are few dud ducks. Virtually everyone is a trophy - senior military officers, busloads of Western coalition staff and their baggage wagons, lumbering supply convoys, Western businessmen or a journalist going home, and all the coalition and Iraqi military patrols sucked into an exhaustive and grinding security operation along the road.


There is at least one attack a day on Route Irish. Invariably, the aftermath reveals a collision of fate and randomness that makes it seemingly impossible to fend off these strikes, which have the unsettling effect of making the firepower of the coalition, Iraqi forces and private security contractors as grave a risk for those who travel Route Irish as the insurgency bombs.

Take March 4. If bad weather had not prevented the then US ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, from taking a helicopter out of the Green Zone to the Camp Victory military complex adjacent to the airport, there would have been no need for the roadblocks thrown up the length of Route Irish that night to give his convoy safe passage.

But one of the US patrols sealing Route Irish to make it Negroponte's exclusive domain opened fire on a white sedan which the soldiers said did not respond to their instructions to stop.

They killed the man on the back seat - Nicola Calipari, an Italian intelligence officer who had just pulled off the remarkable rescue of Giuliana Sgrena, who had been an insurgency hostage for a month. Calipari died trying the shield Sgrena, a correspondent for Il Manifesto, from the American fire.

The Sydney Morning Herald....

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author by 'Route Irish' to Sanctuary Projectpublication date Thu Jun 09, 2005 00:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

by James Dunnigan
In practical terms, being the “deadliest road” means that it has, in the last
six months, suffered one attack or “hostile incident” a day. About once every
four days, a roadside bomb goes off along Route Irish. Most of the attacks or
incidents do not result in any friendly casualties. For example, once or twice a
week, a roadside bomb is found before it can detonate. That is considered a
hostile incident. The road is heavily patrolled, both on the ground, and in the
air with UAVs and helicopters. As a result, terrorists have to go to
extraordinary lengths just to plant a roadside bomb on Route Irish. Terrorists
have largely given up trying to sneak out at night to plant a roadside bomb on
Route Irish, as they continue to do on thousands of kilometers of less heavily
patrolled roads. In fact, most of the attacks on the road are from people in
vehicles, or on the side of the road, firing AK-47s or RPGs at American
vehicles, or tossing hand grenades. Sometimes a mortar will drop some shells on
the road. These attacks often hit innocent civilians, which just adds to the
unpopularity of the terrorists.


author by 'Route Irish' to Sanctuary Projectpublication date Sat Jun 11, 2005 13:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

11 June 2005
But because Route Irish is the only way in and the only way out, it's a terrorist's gift, a ready-made shooting gallery in which there are few dud ducks. Virtually everyone is a trophy - senior military officers, busloads of Western coalition staff and their baggage wagons, lumbering supply convoys, Western businessmen or a journalist going home, and all the coalition and Iraqi military patrols sucked into an exhaustive and grinding security operation along the road.,2106,3309631a12,00.html

author by 'Route Irish' to Sanctuary Projectpublication date Mon Jun 13, 2005 14:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The road, which the U.S. military has dubbed “Route Irish,” is really a highway. It has two directions of traffic split by a median in the middle and surrounded by parallel side roads and neighborhoods on the outside.

The patrols have to worry about both: Insurgents can place bombs near the median and trigger them as military patrols, embassy vehicles or Iraqi residents drive through. The neighborhoods serve as shelter for snipers, grenade launchers and other attackers, said First Sgt. Clifford Ockman, 34, of Ama, La.

Ockman’s company — Company C, known as Black Sheep — is one of three whose only job is to patrol these six kilometers between the airport and the Green Zone, the collection of Iraqi government buildings, embassies and housing for many international dignitaries and the media.

The Black Sheep have lost more men than any other company within the 256th Bridge Combat Team formed of Louisiana and New York reservists: nine men in the nine months they’ve been deployed.

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author by 'Route Irish' to Sanctuary Projectpublication date Wed Jun 15, 2005 15:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

High-ranking embassy officials and visiting U.S. congressional delegations long ago traded the 7-mile drive to the Green Zone for a helicopter ride. But few other foreign visitors are able to avoid the road, and so, contractors buzz along the highway in armored SUVs, while private security services offer media outlets and non-governmental organizations the high-priced rides from the airport to downtown Baghdad hotels.

While Slack and other officers charged with patrolling the road have said concerns about its danger are overblown, the U.S. command acknowledged in a recent report that the road, which they refer to as Route Irish, is a white-knuckle drive.

"Route Irish is commonly referred to as `the deadliest road in Iraq' by journalists, soldiers and commanders," according to a report that cleared soldiers from the 1-69 for firing on a car speeding toward an American convoy on Airport Road that resulted in the death of an Italian security agent in March.

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author by 'Route Irish' to Sanctuary Projectpublication date Sun Jun 19, 2005 20:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

June 18, 2005 “Route Irish” is the local name for the heavily travelled, and highly dangerous road between the secure Green Zone in Baghdad and Baghdad International Airport. There have been so many ambushes and IED explosions on that route that all U.S. State Department personnel were forbidden from travelling the route by road last December (2004) and must use helicopters instead.


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author by 'Route Irish' to Sanctuary Projectpublication date Tue Jun 21, 2005 22:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Soldiers feel force of bomb
"It felt like a force pushing you," Hisatake said. "The best way to describe it is like a vacuum."

The explosion occurred at a gathering point for civilian vehicles near the entrance to Camp Victory along Airport Road, a seven-mile drive the military calls Route Irish that connects with the heavily fortified International Zone in Baghdad.

Published reports earlier this year placed the number of attacks on the road at 135 in the four months up to early March, including 15 suicide car bombs, 19 roadside bombs, and 14 attacks with rocket-propelled grenades.

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Route Irish a fearsome gantlet
Route Irish is the military code name for the expressway arcing eastward from what was once Saddam International Airport, flanked by mainly Sunni Arab neighborhoods that were strongholds of support for Saddam Hussein.

Like neighborhoods across the Tigris River from Saddam's seat of power in the Republican Palace, these suburbs — some little more than slums, others thick with palm-shaded mansions — were populated with Saddam loyalists by design.

Ever alert to potential assassins, Saddam, a Sunni, built Sunni suburbs at strategic points to shield him from attack.

'Route Irish'
'Route Irish'

author by Joepublication date Thu Jun 23, 2005 14:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Soldiers in the field have long been muzzled when it comes to the details of where, when, who and how. And that makes sense. You don’t want PVT Snuffy letting the world (and the bad guys) know that his squad is leaving in a fuel convoy from Forward Operating Base Yahoo at 0600 hours, with five vehicles, along Route Irish. "

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author by conpublication date Sun Jun 26, 2005 05:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Cash row closes Baghdad airport

It is understood that Global has not been paid by the Iraqi government for three months.

It is not clear whether there is any connection but the Iraqi transport ministry is frequently accused of corruption.

The airport highway is also one of the most frequently attacked roads in the country.

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author by eeekkkkkpublication date Thu Jun 30, 2005 22:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors


News flash: Iraq is a disaster. I've been back one day, and the airport road was the worst I've ever seen it. We had to go around a fire-fight between mujahideen and Americans while Iraqi forces sat in the shade of date palms on the side of the road, their rifles resting across their laps. My driver pointed to a group of men in a white pickup next to me. “They are mujahideen,” he said. “They are watching the Americans.” Indeed, they were, and so intently that they paid no attention to me in the car next to them. We detoured around two possible car bombs that had been cordoned off while Iraqis cautiously approached.

Rumsfeld's assessment of “good progress” on the constitution is not accurate, as the committee to draw it up still hasn't completely agreed on how the Sunnis will take part.

When I was in Ramadi, I found the morale to be lower than expected. It wasn't rock-bottom among the Marines of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, but it wasn't great. Most of the ones I talked to weren't confident they were doing anything worthwhile, and were instead focused on getting home alive. If a few Iraqis had to die to make that happen, well, war is hell.

I'm not sure who's winning this war, the Americans or the insurgents. But I know who is losing it: the Iraqi people. Those bumps in the road are their graves.

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author by 'Route Irish' to Sanctuary Projectpublication date Sun Jul 03, 2005 16:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Saturday, July 02, 2005
News staff writer
Alabama Birmingham News

Some Alabama National Guard members would gladly trade the locked-and-loaded sprint they periodically make along Iraq's infamous Route Irish for U.S. 280's stop-and-go slog.

Route Irish is the military's nickname for the five-mile stretch of highway running from Baghdad International Airport to the Iraqi capital's heavily fortified International Zone. It has been called the most dangerous stretch of road in Iraq. From November to mid-March, it averaged one attack a day.

"Route Irish starts innocently enough as you pass the entry checkpoints ...," said Capt. Ronald McBay, commander of the 128th Medical Company, an Ashland-headquartered Guard unit that went to Iraq about eight months ago. "But then you notice the vehicle shells and the markings on the road that indicate a recent explosion."

author by James Cagneypublication date Wed Sep 07, 2005 17:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This treacherous road in Iraq is named after a famed US Army reserve regiment - the "fighting 69th' - which has begun its return home. This unit traces its founding to Irish immigrants to NYC.

While in Iraq, this unit was, among other things, responsible for guarding this road. Consequently, it became known as Route Irish because of the regiment's ancestry.

author by OHara,Johnpublication date Sun Sep 25, 2005 02:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am a member of the 69th Airport Rd was named that before we took it over. When you are going to say stuff get the facts straight. It is stupid stuff like that people believe and it is not true. Research the it!!

author by Jeff - 60 Minutespublication date Tue Oct 11, 2005 19:33author email jsnewt2003 at yahoo dot comauthor address N/Aauthor phone 910 286-9612Report this post to the editors

Howdy> We just spent a couple of weeks driving on route irish for a story we are working on... We spent time with the Fighting 69th... Great guys... What we are NOW looking for is more video of attacks along the BIAP road (AKA Route Irish, AKA Baghdad's Airport Road? We are looking for attacks on the road itself? Car bombs, ambushes, etc... Thanks folks... Jeff N.

author by eeekkkkpublication date Tue Oct 11, 2005 21:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors


author by Cpublication date Sat Oct 15, 2005 03:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

RTE IRISH was known as RTE IRISH long before 1-69 IN took over the misison. Guess again Trigger!

author by redjadepublication date Sat Dec 10, 2005 12:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

''Aegis is a major U.S. government contractor in Iraq providing "personal security detachments" to guard military reconstruction teams.

In each clip, gunfire from AK-47s can be heard over Elvis Presley's "Mystery Train" in the background as civilian cars speed up into view behind the Aegis vehicle. Some of the footage was apparently taken during convoys driving the dangerous Baghdad airport road known as Route Irish.

In the first clip, a silver Mercedes is peppered, causing it to swerve and rear-end a taxicab. The other clips show cars hundreds of yards behind getting sprayed by automatic gunfire.''

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Watch the video...

• Tim Spicer's Aegis Mercs Hunt Civilians for Fun

Background Info:
• Tim Spicer's Mercenaries in Iraq

author by redjadepublication date Mon Dec 19, 2005 09:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

BAGHDAD, Iraq, December 15, 2005 13:44

He beamed like a schoolboy! Nick, a 48 year old South African, was the head of today’s Personal Security Detail (PSD). He was patently professional. His graying hair cut short, his demeanor clearly indicated consummate commitment to doing his work well. But then again, he needed to be, to make a mistake could cost him much more than merely his job.

With the exception of a few - all too brief but wonderful - trips home to visit his Irish wife in Northern Ireland, he’d been in Iraq for 26 months and said that he might stay up to another three years.

The source of his 500 watt smile was when he’d, almost shyly, shared with us that he had a 16 month old daughter named Saorla -- Gaelic for Noble Princess. "I never thought I’d have children," he confided, "but she is, indeed, a wonder."

Later, as we prepared to leave, in the confident, assured manner of one who knows their job, he quietly informed us of our route and the security situation. "This morning we’ll take Route Irish (appropriate enough) to and through Camp Victory going close to BIAP (Baghdad International Airport)." "Over the last seven days there have been three IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) roadside explosions, one RPG (rocket propelled grenade) attack and a small arms incident."

author by redjadepublication date Mon Jan 02, 2006 22:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Maj. Gen. William Webster:
December 30, 2005
'As -- relates to the airport road, you're generally talking about the road that we call Route Irish that runs between the Green Zone and Baghdad International Airport.  The last major attack on that road occurred in about June of '05.  The big difference that has occurred there is that we have trained an Iraqi special police brigade that is conducting checkpoints, and they have erected some barriers where the enemy was able to get out on the road easily.'

author by redjadepublication date Fri Oct 20, 2006 21:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

An Ulster war hero has spoken for the first time about the incredible courage he displayed to win one of the British Army's most prestigious bravery awards.

Corporal Trevor Coult, 31, of the First Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment, was awarded the Military Cross for his actions during an ambush by suicide bombers and gunmen in Baghdad in 2005.


Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph from the RIR headquarters at Fort George in Inverness, Corporal Coult recalled the moments when his convoy came under attack.

He said: "We had just left Baghdad airport and were heading up Route Irish. The next thing there was a suicide bomber driving towards us.

"We sounded horns and fired warning shots but he just sped up.

"We blew out his back left tyre but he still kept coming and we had no choice but to kill the driver and the passenger.

"I thought that was it but then the next thing there were guys on the other side of the road who fired upon the convoy and there were two guys ahead with an antiaircraft gun who also engaged us."

When one of the vehicles in Corporal Coult's convoy stalled, he drove his armoured car in front of it and directly into the line of fire.

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