In Context: Day Two of Steel Curtain in Husaybah and the Anbar Campaign
Cpmbat operation continue in and around Husaybah as day two of Operation Steel Curtain completes. Fighting has been reported as both sporadic and alternatively intense. Marine Lt.Col. Dale Alford, commander of the 3rd, Battalion, 6th Regiment reported Coalition forces encountered "pockets of resistance throughout the day." Insurgents attempted to attack a Marine company providing security for the assault force, but were repelled.
About 50 suspected insurgents have been captured, with seventeen confirmed killed, and many more believed killed in the day's fighting. Three Marines and a cameraman from the Army Times received minor wounds during a sniper attack.
The Army Times concisely explains how prior operations along the border set the stage for Steel Curtain. The establishment of bases in and around Sa'dah laid the groundwork for the current offensive.
Troops from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, had anticipated a march on Husaybah since the end of Operation Iron Fist last month. That operation halted along a dry creek bed in Karabilah, a farming village just east of Husaybah. That left insurgents in a pocket in Husaybah and western Karabilah, sandwiched between Camp Gannon to the west, and to the east by a series of fortified hilltops occupied by small groups of Marines and Iraqi soldiers.
CNN provides video of combat in Husaybah, as well as the training of Iraqi troops. Finally, the media provides context to Steel Curtain, and CNN explains the current operations are but a piece of the Anbar Campaign.
When looked at in isolation, individual operations in Anbar province may be interpreted as a futile game of whack-a-mole, with the Coalition blindly striking at the latest insurgent hot spot against an elusive enemy that will rematerialize elsewhere. But a careful look at the past year's operations and efforts to train and deploy the Iraqi Army westward shows the Coalition has a plan, and is executing it.
Steel Curtain will not be the last operation in western Iraq. There will be more. The current operation will set the stage for the next, just as prior operations did so for Steel Curtain