Maine National Guard soldiers were prepared for a spike in insurgent activity as coalition forces began retaking Fallujah, but raging street battles have died down, according to the commander of the 133rd Engineer Battalion.

“There were a few tough days here in Mosul, but every day gets better,” Lt. Col. John Jansen told the Morning Sentinel from Mosul.

Jansen described Nov. 10 as the heaviest fighting in Mosul, where many of the Maine soldiers are based in Iraq.

There were many engagements on that day but the city calmed down by nightfall, he wrote in an e-mail. “Over the next two days, the fighting was sporadic, and since then it has been isolated,” Jansen said.

“It is hard to be sure, but it is estimated that there are only 200 insurgents in the city of Mosul, which is very small considering the population is close to 1.8 million,” he said.

About 500 members of the 133rd were deployed last January and are expected to return home in April.

The attacks have not had a dramatic impact on the 133rd soldiers, and all of them remained safe as of Tuesday, he said. While reports of increased fighting have focused on Mosul recently, Jansen said, his troops have looked after their safety from the time they arrived.

“It is a dangerous place, but we are ready for anything when we leave our compounds,” Jansen said. “We study the enemy’s actions and adjust our techniques to better defend ourselves.”

Despite the attacks in Mosul and elsewhere in Iraq, the Maine construction battalion will not be switching their hammers and shovels for rifles, Jansen said.

“The 133rd soldiers will not be conducting offensive combat missions. These missions will be left to the Stryker Brigade, Iraqi Security Forces, and elements designed to execute these types of missions,” Jansen said.

Jansen said reasons for increased fighting on the ground are hard to discern.

“I can say with confidence that the vast majority of the Iraqi citizens in Mosul do not support the insurgents and are ready to move on,” Jansen said. “We will do everything we can to make their future brighter. They deserve it.”



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