Sadr City, Iraq

Camp Rustamiyah
formally Camp Muleskinner / Camp Cuervo

In mid-September 2004, as part of an Army-wide renaming of its facilities around Baghdad with friendlier connotations, Camp Cuervo was renamed Camp Rustamiyah, with its Arabic translation "Camp Rustamiyah".

Camp Cuervo is located six miles southeast of Sadr City, and was formally named Camp Muleskinner.

Camp Muleskinner, home of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment’s support squadron was renamed in honor a fallen trooper 01 April 2004. The forward operating base was renamed “Camp Cuervo” in memory of Pfc. Ray D. Cuervo, Apache Troop, 1st Squadron, 2nd ACR, who was killed-in-action during a combat reconnaissance patrol in Baghdad, on Dec. 28, 2003. “Today we are here to pay tribute in honor of Pfc. Ray D. Cuervo, a fallen hero who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving here,” said Lt. Col. John P. Curran, Regimental Support Squadron commander. Lt. Col. Mark E. Calvert, 1st Squadron commander and Col. Brad May, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment commander, also paid tribute to Cuervo’s memory. “It’s fitting today that we pay tribute to Pfc. Ray D. Cuervo – a soldier, a hero – by renaming this camp after him and his actions here in Baghdad,” Calvert said “This is a tribute that will serve as a reminder to all, of his service and of his sacrifice for the security of our nation – and our world.” Calvert said Cuervo developed a sense of responsibility for passing along his knowledge and experience. He shared his cavalry scout skills with Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers. “Cuervo was one of many soldiers serving a cause greater than one’s self,” Calvert said. “A cause that often demands great personal sacrifice and, in Ray’s case, the ultimate sacrifice.” During the ceremony, a marble pyramid was unveiled in Cuervo’s honor, officially declaring the camp “Camp Cuervo” in memory of the fallen cavalry scout.

In an urban landscape like Baghdad, a place peppered with a variety of cars, buildings, people, and animals under the ever-present sheen of neon lighting, the tracked monster that is an M1A2 Abrams tank doesn’t make for the most inconspicuous or mobile of vehicles. So when the tankers of White Platoon, “Cobra” Company of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT), left the gates of Camp Cuervo the night of July 29 to patrol their sector in north-eastern Baghdad, they decidedly left their Abrams’ behind them. Instead, White Platoon rolled-out in its more mobile, but still quite noticeable up-armored humvees. It wasn’t long however, before they came to a stop, parked the vehicles, and threw open their doors to begin part of its patrol that is usually left to the Infantry: the foot patrol.

Eight civilians and four Iraqi police officers were killed 13 June 2004 in a car bombing outside Camp Cuervo, a joint US-Iraqi military base in eastern Baghdad. Twelve people were injured in the attack.

Camp Cuervo is home to four two-stories barrack facilities, built at a cost of $2 million, each of which is composed of rooms equipped with air conditioning, beds, and wall lockers and can house two soldiers each. These are to be eventually equipped with a flat panel computer connected to the Internet. A carpeted dayroom, located on the ground floor, is equipped with a big screen TV with satellite, a pool table, couches, as well as other comforts. Both floors of each building have a large restroom with eight showers, sinks, and toilets. These other barracks will house soldiers from 2-8 and 1-15, our sister battalions from Ft. Hood.

Camp Cuervo is also equipped with a small PX, a dining facility, a laundry facility, a 24/7 internet café, a kick boxing/aerobic room and two restaurants, one of which has become famous for its fresh fruit smoothies, while the other serves “cookouts”, including baked fish or lamb kabob. Both restaurants serve local cuisine along with American favorites such as pizza, hot dogs, burgers, and fries. The 24/7 internet café fields 22 computers while allowing individual, personal laptop connectivity and is staffed by two civilians. Internet usage there is limited to 30 minutes.

Camp Cuervo is also home to the Camp Cuervo Detention Facility. Surrounded by two chain-link fences with strands of razor wire, the detention facility serves as an initial processing and detention center with detainees being deemed of having taken part in anti-coalition activities being kept there for additional periods of time before being transferred to the Abu Ghraib Prison. The detention facility, a converted indoor pistol range, is located on the back portion of Camp Cuervo and consists of an air-conditioned building with 24 cells, each capable of housing two detainees. Ceiling fans are located over each cell, while each cell holds a bunk bed. A hot-and-cold shower facility is located directly outside the front of the building. The new Camp Cuervo Detention Facility replaces an old detention facility located on the back side of Camp Cuervo. That back half of the camp was, as of mid-July 2004, due to be handed back to the New Iraq Army.

Additional security is reportedly provided by former members of the South African Army and will be tasked with securing that part of the camp.

Sadr City
(Saddam City/Al Thawra)
Baghdad, Iraq

Once known as Saddam City, then as Al Thawra, Sadr City is named for the Imam Mohammed Sadr, an Iraqi religious leader killed by Saddam Hussein. Many residents still call it Al Thawra, meaning "Revolution City."

Subdivided into six sections, the district is one of the poorest in Baghdad. The population consists mostly of Shiite Moslems. Unemployment is rampant. Homes are in disrepair. It is also a haven for criminals released from Iraqi prisons by Saddam shortly before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sadr City, built by Saddam Hussein, was the scene of numerous confrontations between coalition forces and residents in 2003. Infrastructure problems still plague portions of the district. Electrical services are intermittent. Parts of some streets in some neighborhoods are flooded with sewage from long-neglected pipes. Trash pickup stopped during the war, and residents started dumping their trash on the medians in the potholed streets.

The centerpiece of Sadr City is the municipal building. According to reports from Iraqi guards and unit translators, Saddam ordered that the Sadr City municipal building be constructed, gave one speech from the balcony of the new building and then never set foot in that low-income district again.

When US forces arrived in the district in June 2003, looters had stripped the building of everything –- even its wiring, plumbing, and marble stairs. After hauling away anything of value, they torched what was left, leaving a burned shell of a building. US soldiers assessed the building's condition, determined what repairs were needed, and hired contractors to make repairs. After $30,000 in repairs, Sadr City’s 30-member district advisory council met regularly in the once-gutted building. In mid-November 2003, the head of the US-appointed interim council in Sadr City was killed in a confrontation with US forces outside the municipal building.

In early April 2004, coalition troops fought gun battles with members of Muqtada al-Sadr's Imam Al-Mahdi Army militia in Sadr City, as well as in Al-Nassiriyah, Amara, Karbala, Basra, and Kut. On Sunday, April 4, 2004, at approximately 5 p.m., militia supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr attacked the central municipal building, housing the District Advisory Council, as well as two police stations. Coalition troops arrived soon thereafter, followed by a tank company, Apache helicopters and OH-58 Kiowas at approximately 9pm. Coalition forces wrested the municipal building and police headquarters from milita control, and the fighting finally abated around midnight.

NIMA City Map of Baghdad. On this pre-war map, Sadr city is labeled with its old name, Saddam City.

Landsat imagery showing location of Sadr City at the northeastern edge of Baghdad.

Overview of Sadr City as of Nov. 03, 2002.
(Source: DigitalGlobe)

Sadr City's neighborhoods are tightly packed, with an estimated 2 million people
living in an area of 8 square miles (about 20 sq. km).
(Source: DigitalGlobe, 11/03/02)

Typical Sadr City street, where a coalition tank company arrived as troops
clashed with local supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr.
(Source: DigitalGlobe, 11/03/02)

Sadr City municipal building
(Source: DigitalGlobe, 11/03/02)

The Sadr City municipal complex includes a soccer field
and a 50-meter swimming pool with a diving board.
(Source: DigitalGlobe, 11/03/02)

A mosque in northeastern Sadr City.
(Source: DigitalGlobe, 11/03/02)