Sgt. Konrad R.K. Ludwig, Ret.
Stryker: The Siege of Sadr City
In the spring of 2008, Coalition troops responded to an uprising that would quickly grow into one of the largest, bloodiest and most influential battles of the Iraq War. Out-numbered and spread thin, American combat troops were forced into a brutal campaign against the Ja'Ish Al-Mahdi, fighting for control over the most dangerous district of Baghdad. Sergeant Ludwig's gripping account of the final battle of Sadr City offers an unfiltered view of what really happened in the late years of Operation Iraqi Freedom through the eyes of a young, idealistic soldier - and how that conflict changed him forever.Kindle - $3.99 Nook / IPad - $3.99
"This is not a book for the faint of heart... Simply amazing... Whatever the rationale at the top, here is a true war diary that tells you what urban combat amidst a hostile populace is actually like."
F.J. 'Bing' West, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
"Sergeant Ludwig captures what so few people understand about the realities of war... A timeless story of men in close combat that few have told as eloquently has he."
Dr. David E. Johnson, Senior Political Scientist at the Rand Copropration
"Well done, revealing, and authentic... Ludwig's insights on leadership and camaraderie in battle were especially illuminating. It will have a prominent place on my OIF reference shelf."
Lt. Col. Mark J. Reardon, Senior Historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History
Liberate Sadr City and Defeat the Mahdi Army
By the end of 2006, nearly half of Baghdad and most of Iraq remained largely uncontested by Coalition Forces. Despite the large amount of money and resources going into the war effort, the American military simply lacked the manpower necessary to secure key strongholds throughout the Iraq, which had fallen prey to powerful paramilitary criminal organizations after years of neglect.
Of all these "miltias", none had gained so much influence and power as the Ja'Ish Al-Mahdi, lead by a man named Muqtada al-Sadr, from their stronghold in Bagdhad's densely packed district of Sadr City. Millions of people suffered under the Ja'Ish Al-Mahdi, who enforced the brutalities of sharia law without mercy. Al-Sadr's militia served as judge, jury and executioner, while his wealth corrupted community leaders to do his bidding until he had finally earned his seat on the political stage.
When President George W. Bush announced the "troop surge" in 2007, the American Army finally had enough men to push across the Tigris and fight back the influence of the Ja'Ish Al-Mahdi. Their advance brought with it a range of public works projects, micro-loans and new schools, raising tensions with Al-Sadr's militia, who had long claimed that American intervention was no different than Saddam's despotic rule.
By the spring of 2008, American troops had pushed the Ja'Ish Al-Mahdi back to the outskirts of Sadr City and starved them of the supply of weapons and munitions flowing in from Iran. Tensions were at an all-time high, and with the Iraq Army's invasion of Basra -- an attack on Al-Sadr's black-market oil trade -- the one of the largest battle's of the war kicked off just across the river from the so-called "Green Zone" in the heart of Baghdad. Outnumbered and spread thin, American troops set out to defeat the Ja'Ish Al-Mahdi once and for all.
Bull Comany, 1/2 SCR
The story of "Bull" Company and the entire 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment (1/2 SCR) began with their first deployment to Iraq as the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment (1-5 INF) in 2004. There, in the streets of Fallujah and Mosul, the future leaders of 1/2 SCR cut their teeth learning the hard lessons of block-to-block urban combat. After 12 months of fighting, they returned home to take on a new class of privates and teach them the skills necessary to survive in house-to-house fighting.
One year after returning home from Iraq, the men of 1-5 INF re-flagged and moved to Germany, where they applied their extensive combat experience training with America's NATO allies in Europe. In mid 2007, they received orders to deploy once more to Iraq and serve a crucial role in the surge as a front-line element securing the eastern districts of Baghdad.
It was in the streets of Sadr City where the men of Bull Company -- along with the entire 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment -- would face the true test of their skills. For fifteen months, they served as a quick reaction force element and the only unit authorized to carry out conventional kinetic-action raids against high value targets of the Ja'Ish Al-Mahdi.
Upon their return from Iraq, the men of 1/2 SCR ultimately received a Valorous Unit Citation for their critical role in Operation Stryker Denial and Operation Gold Wall during the 2008 Battle of Sadr City.
Stryker: The Siege of Sadr City was made possible thanks to 850 backers who contributed ove $37,500 to its pre-order campaign. The book has received widely positive reviews since its launch in 2013 and earned the support of veterans who served in Siege of Sadr City before, during and after the battle. Thanks to the success of the book's pre-order campaign, Sergeant Ludwig has managed to retain ownership of the rights to the book and any auxiliary works, allowing him to protect the accuracy and fidelity of his work and protect its reputation as an authentic first-hand account.
Konrad's account remains one of the best selling books about the Iraq War and among the most accurate first-hand accounts of the 2008 Battle of Sadr City. Woven throughout his narrative, Sergeant Ludwig offers an educated and heavy-hitting critique of American foreign policy, Army leadership, counterinsurgency doctrine and western rules of engagement as they apply to kinetic urban combat with a brutal and unforgiving enemy. Because of his honesty and insight, Stryker has been cited in a major RAND Corporation study, served proudly as a reference work for a senior historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History and course material for undergraduate and postgraduate classes on foreign policy, contemporary history and literature.
Stryker: The Siege of Sadr City provides a valuable contribution to the body of work surrounding Operation Iraqi Freedom and tells a unique story of the last major turning point in the war. Sergeant Ludwig's work stands for itself as a classic story of men in combat, fighting to liberate an urban district housing millions of people from the oppressive and militant rule of the Mahdi Army, far away from the comfort and safety of American shores.
Sgt. Konrad R.K. Ludwig, Ret.
Sgt. Konrad R.K. Ludwig, Ret., was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. In 2005 he tested out of high school and joined the U.S. Army to serve his country as an Infantryman during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In February 2006 Ludwig was assigned to the "Deathmasters" of 1-5 INF and followed their history through their re-flag to "Bull Company", deployment to Germany and later to Iraq for combat.
For most of his time with "Bull" Company, Ludwig served as the radio operator and technical subject matter expert, through which he was given hands-on experience with the leadership and management of his unit. He was later promoted to serve as a machine gunner shortly before the battle began and ending his service with 1/2 SCR shortly after their returning to Germany in November of 2008. In 2009, Sergeant Ludwig was assigned to the Army Evaluation Task Force (AETF) in Ft. Bliss, Texas, where he served as a squad leader testing and evaluating future weapons technology.
Sergeant Ludwig was medically discharged from the Army in 2010 due to symptoms from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) inflicted during a roadside bomb attack and severe post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from his experiences in combat. He started writing Stryker as an emotional release and therapy, and later decided to publish his work when controversy arose among veterans of the battle of how little coverage the conflict had received. When the first draft of Stryker was finally complete, Konrad decided to independently publish the book in order to maintain the work's authenticity and narrative authority. He has since served as an advocate for veteran authors and a voice for combat related PTSD.