I’ll be brief as I am heading out for a weekend vacation…
The latest offensive in the Anbar Campaign on the Euphrates River has been designated Operation Quick Strike. The battle was planned prior to the deadly attacks on US Marines earlier this week, and has been engaged since Wednesday. The cities targeted are Haditha, Haqlaniya and the Barwanah area.
About 1,000 U.S. Marines and Iraqi soldiers are participating in Operation Quick Strike, which began Wednesday.
The offensive was not retaliatory but planned in advance of three insurgent attacks that killed 21 Marines earlier this week in Haditha and Hit, Sunni Arab cities along the Euphrates River, said Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, director of the U.S.-led Combined Press Information Center.
Iraqi forces are participating in complex operations; “On Friday, Iraqi special operations forces directed a Marine airstrike on insurgents firing from buildings near Haqliniya, southwest of Haditha.”
The battle of the Euphrates River will not be decisively won until Iraqi troops are prepared to fully commit battalion-sized units to occupy and police the troubled towns and man the border. The presence of company sized Iraqi units and special operation forces are welcome signs the Iraqis are developing the capabilities needed to move into Anbar in force, but it appears there is still much work to be done until large units can enter the battle.
Wretchard digs out a quote from Anthony Cordesman that puts Quick Strike into the larger perspective of the Anbar Campaign:
“This (assault) is part of a pattern of offensives to deny the insurgents sanctuary along the Euphrates River to match ongoing operations along the Tigris” … Cordesman said the coalition’s goals in the Euphrates valley are to make harder for foreign insurgents to infiltrate from Syria and find “stable sanctuary” in the region. Another aim is to put pressure on Sunnis to join the political process, he said. “The political and military effects will play out over months, not days,” he said in a telephone interview.
See this post from June for more on the political dimensions of the Anbar Campaign…