Purpose, Scope and Methodology. This report describes, in narrative form, the attack on an element of the U.S. Army 507th Maintenance Company by Iraqi military forces and irregulars in the city of An Nasiriyah on 23 March 2003 during OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. It is the result of an intensive, focused effort to determine those facts that could be determined in a relatively short period of time. This report does not answer all questions. In particular, in order to ensure the integrity of war crimes investigations, this report does not address in detail the conduct of Iraqi combatants during the battle, provides only a brief description of the death or wounding of each U.S. casualty, and does not address Iraqi treatment of U.S. Soldiers held captive. All these matters are under separate investigation. This report presents but does not assess decisions made and actions taken. These are matters for the unit’s chain-of-command and for “lessons learned” reviews. This report does not address possible recommendations for decorations for valor. These types of recommendations are initiated by the unit chain-of-command according to Army regulations, and require substantiation. This report is intended to be an objective presentation of facts corroborated by multiple sources. Variances in individual perceptions, particularly during the intense strain of combat, make a perfect reconstruction of events impossible. The Review Team had access to the extensive work of trained experts and scrutinized a great deal of information. Finally, ongoing investigations may discover additional relevant information. This report should be read with these factors in mind.
This report was researched and prepared by a small team of Headquarters, Department of the Army officers working under the direction of the Commanding General, Training and Doctrine Command, tasked by the Chief of Staff of the Army to conduct a fact-finding review to determine what happened to the 507th Maintenance Company element in An Nasiriyah, Iraq on 23 March 2003.
Overview. In the early morning hours of 20 March 2003, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and coalition ground combat forces crossed from Kuwait into southern Iraq and attacked northward, beginning the ground phase of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. By dawn on 23 March, major U.S. ground combat units had advanced more than 200 miles into Iraq and were approximately 130 miles north of An Nasiriyah, an advance historically unprecedented for speed of execution and depth of penetration, designed to unhinge the Iraqis’ ability to mount a coherent defense.
The rapid advance of coalition troops in thousands of vehicles and hundreds of aircraft was made possible by the determined, aggressive support of scores of logistics, medical, and maintenance units, many moving constantly to maintain contact with their supported units. One such unit was the 507th Maintenance Company, tasked to support a vitally important asset – a Patriot missile battalion.
At about 0700 hours (local time) on 23 March 2003, while moving through the outskirts of the city of An Nasiriyah in southeastern Iraq, an element of the 507th Maintenance Company was attacked by Iraqi military forces and irregulars. There were 33 U.S. Soldiers in the 18-vehicle convoy. All but two Soldiers in the convoy were members of the 507th Maintenance Company from Fort Bliss, Texas. The other two Soldiers belonged to the 3d Forward Support Battalion (3d FSB) of the 3d Infantry Division from Fort Stewart, Georgia, and were traveling in their 10-ton wrecker with the 507th.
The Iraqi forces in An Nasiriyah conducted fierce attacks against the convoy. Of the 33 U.S. Soldiers in the convoy, 11 were killed in combat or died as a result of injuries, seven were captured by Iraqi forces, and the remaining 16 Soldiers were able to rejoin friendly forces. Of the 22 U.S. Soldiers who survived, nine were wounded in action. Although all details of the battle could not be determined with certainty, it is clear that every U.S. Soldier did their duty.
It was not until 31 March 2003, that elements of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) would take control of the city of An Nasiriyah.