COB Basrah, Southern Iraq Iraq 2010 - 2011
Photos by Danny Toma
Posted with permission
COB Basrah was located at the airport 5 miles west of the 2nd largest city in Iraq and home to 1.7 million people, For a time, it was for a time one of the most dangerous places in the country where an estimated 10,000 people were killed by militias in 2007. Despite the efforts of the British and Iraqi Army to stabilize the city like in Operation Sinbad in 2006, the city was overrun by insurgency groups including the Mahdi Army. For most of 2007 COB Basrah and other UK bases in the area were under siege with the Mahdi Army launching an average of 6 rocket salvoes per day at the base and limiting coalition operations to a few armored convoys.
It was not until March 2008 when the Iraqi Army moved 30,000 troops into the city in operation 'Charge of the Knights' that forced the Mahdi Army to withdraw. The British forces remained in control of the COB until March 2009 when it was transferred to the American military. The once bustling Contingency Operating Base Basra- also known as Camp Blue Diamond closed in 2011.
"To learn more, check out Danny's Book "Outside the Wire: A Foreign Service Officer in Southern Iraq" (Vanguard, 2020)
'Not everyone who serves in wartime wears a uniform. Outside the Wire is a story of one of these men, Danny Toma, a veteran Foreign Service Officer, who spent sixteen months with the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Basra, a joint State Department-U.S. Military operation in southern Iraq. Carrying out his duty alongside the 1st Infantry Division, and later the 36th ID, Toma describes in great detail the day-to-day experience of living in a war zone, from the thrill and uncertainty of enemy attack to coping with the frustration of trying to rebuild a country while others labor to tear it down.
Combining humor with an attention to detail, he allows the reader to feel a part of the action and to get to know the personalities of those who were there on the ground - Americans, Iraqis, and British among them. More than just a history, it is also a tribute to the men and women, both civilian and military, who volunteered when their country called upon them and who forged a bond that the passage of time will never break.'