Pragmatic, applied geography: Baghdad

November 27, 2007

Do your students ever ask why we bother to study geography? Consider these sources for a one-day exercise in geography, world history or U.S. history:

How U.S. forces took back Baghdad


al Quaeda map of Baghdad, used to take back Baghdad by U.S. forces

Geographic Travels with Catholicgauze alerts us to this interesting story of applied geography.

The map of Baghdad, above, was found in a raid on an al Quaeda house in the past year. It details the organization of al Quaeda, especially with regard to shipping guns, ammunition and explosives into Baghdad.

Armed with this knowledge, U.S. forces set about severing each of the cells from each other, separating the pieces of the snake to kill the beast.

Here is the New York Times story. (So much for wild claims that “mainstream media” do not cover such news.) Here is the Fox News story, with a link to a .pdf version of the map.

A map drawn by Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — who was killed last year by U.S. forces — turned up last December in an Al Qaeda safe house and essentially gave U.S. war planners insight into the terrorist group’s methods for moving explosives, fighters and money into Baghdad.

“The map essentially laid out how Al Qaeda controlled Baghdad. And they did it through four belts that surrounded the city, and these belts controlled access to the city for reinforcements and weapons and money,” said Maj. Gen. Bob Scales, a FOX News contributor who recently visited Iraq.

That’s what geographic knowledge can do. It can be the difference between peace and war, the difference between life and death.


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