1 The Long War Journal: Fighting the Sunni Insurgency

Written by Bill Roggio on November 19, 2006 10:22 PM to 1 The Long War Journal

Available online at: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2006/11/fighting_the_sunni_i.php

Recent Iraqi and Coalition combat operations in Kirkuk, Baquba, Yusifiyah and Ramadi

Iraqi army soldiers and 82nd Airborne Division Paratroopers discuss their upcoming mission, Operation Portland, Oct. 28, 2006, at an Iraqi army base near Tikrit. U.S. Army photo by SSgt. Michael J. Carden. Click image to view.

Over the past week, U.S. and Iraqi forces fought Sunni insurgents in lopsided battles in the Iraqi cities of Kirkuk, Baquba, Yusifiyah and Ramadi. In each engagement, Sunni insurgents took massive casualties with no U.S. or Iraq forces killed.

In Kirkuk, the 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 5th Division of Iraqi Army, in conjunction with the 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division conducted a brigade sized operation in and around the northern city of Kirkuk. The operation, originally announced on November 16th, was a major success. The Iraqi Army and U.S. forces killed nearly 50 insurgents and captured an additional 20 in a raid on a "large cache complex." "The caches included over 400,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition, 15,000 rounds of heavy machine gun ammunition, five mortar bipods, three heavy machine guns, three anti-tank weapons, two recoilless rifles and numerous mortar rounds, grenades, flares and artillery rounds," according to Multinational Forces Iraq. The soldiers also found materials to make roadside bombs as well as "propaganda materials and a large amount of U.S. dollars." Seven al Qaeda were detained in a seperate raid in Kirkuk.

In Baquba, Iraqi and U.S. Army forces engaged Sunni insurgents. Eighteen were killed and 19 wounded, although it is not clear if these were insurgents or if civilians are included. Multinational Forces Iraq has not released information on the contact. Iraqi or U.S. soldiers were killed in the fighting. On Saturday, Coalition forces killed nine insurgents and captured two during a raid in Yusifiyah.

In Ramadi, the flashpoint of the the Sunni insurgency in Anbar province, and arguably the most dangerous city in Iraq outside of Baghdad, Iraqi and U.S. forces conducted two large raids over the past week. On November 13 and 14, U.S. forces killed 11 insurgents in 3 separate incidents. The insurgents were emplacing roadside bombs and were engaged with tank and small arms fire. An American soldier that was in the engagement confirms the report, and notes three soldiers were wounded, one seriously, in an IED strike on a Bradley fighting vehicle. He also notes the Los Angeles Times report of civilian casualties is boilerplate insurgent propaganda.

On Saturday, Coalition forces killed 8 insurgents and detained 2 during a morning raid in Ramadi. Michael Fumento, who recently returned from Ramadi, sums up the lopsided losses that occur during the fighting against al Qaeda and the Sunni insurgents when describing the successes of the sniper teams in the city:

During [the sniper team's] deployment, [team leader SSgt. Ken] Cooke's handful of snipers (the exact number is under wraps) with those 120 kills have accounted for about a fifth of the total known kills of the 1/506th. Meanwhile enemy snipers, though generally the most skilled of the enemy fighters and armed primarily with good 7.62 millimeter Soviet Dragunov sniper rifles, have killed 1 member of the battalion. The battalion plus its support units have lost a total of 8 men while killing about 600 - a stunning ratio of 75:1. Think about that the next time you hear of the prowess of the enemy.

Mr. Fumeto's report from Ramadi on the expansion of Combat Outposts and the cornering of the insurgency into the northern regions of the city is a must read. Mr. Fumento also notes the city's hospital was wrested from insurgent control over the summer. The Iraqi police just delivered medical supplies to the hospital. While Ramadi is still a contested city, the Iraqi Army and Coalition are making progress. The insurgent's deadliest tactics continue to be hidden bombs and snipers, designed to slowly bleed the U.S. military and sap the will of the American public.

While Baghdad and the surrounding areas remain real problems, particularly with the steady output of bodies from sectarian violence and difficulties with the Iraqi police, the U.S. and Iraqi armies slowly whittle away at the power of al Qaeda and the Sunni insurgency.

It is crucial that the sectarian violence be brought under control to allow the reconciliation process to proceed. The Sunni insurgents not beholden to al Qaeda are searching for an out to the fighting, but as long as the Shiite death squads continue their work, they insurgents will not lay down their arms. Al-Qaeda has a vested interest in preventing reconciliation, and continues to stoke the sectarian murders by well planned suicide attacks, such as today's suicide attack in Hillah. A man posing as a contractor rounded up day laborers onto a bus and then detonated his bomb, murdering 21 and wounding 47. The suicide bomber was identified as a Syrian by an Iraqi and 2 Egyptians who were rounded up by police.