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Journalist Examines Iraq Battle In-Depth

The First Cavalry Division was caught largely unawares in Baghdad's Sadr City in April 2004. Soldiers who thought they were on a peacekeeping mission faced intense gunfire instead. Many had just arrived in Iraq. For some, it was their first battle.

"Everything they had been told about where they were going, Sadr City, was that it was pretty peaceful, that it would probably be a babysitting mission. And they end up in Iraq pretty much thinking they're going to be passing out candy," says ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Martha Raddatz.

The troops were unprepared for combat. They lacked the proper gear — even basics such as GPS information. Communications broke down. Unable to call for backup, the soldiers struggled to defend themselves.

Raddatz details the devastating attack that ensued — which became a turning point in the Iraq war — in a new book, The Long Road Home.

After a dramatic rescue, she says, the surviving soldiers and their families struggled to make sense of the ambush.

"They all beat up on themselves, when, in fact, it was the circumstances," she says.

Raddatz recounts the dramatic battle for Sadr City — and the lessons it holds for U.S. troops today.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.