Operation Quick Strike

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.

Update:

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…

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.

14 Comments

  • vucommodore says:

    These operations are beginning to appear completely futile as insurgents are returning to all of the cities where operations have been carried out. Offensive operations to clear Haditha of insurgents have been undertaken in the past and insurgents returned. Why would it be any different this time? It has to be asked whether the Al Anbar province of Iraq will ever be pacified.

  • Ike says:

    Eventually, this is going to have to include raids all the way into Syria and cut this nonsense off before they are armed and organized INSIDE Iraq. We have the locations of these bases in Syria, it’s time to take them out.

  • legion says:

    Al Anbar has contained smuggling routes since time immemorial. Some tribes and families have been smugglers in this territory for hundreds if not thousands of years. This trade in the tools of death is ancient, and the people of this region are implicated in this trade of death since their ancient ancestors.
    Will Al Anbar ever be “cleaned up?” Not a good question. The only way to “clean up” Al Anbar is to totally depopulate the region, perhaps sending the populations to live with their relatives in Syria. But that won’t happen. What will probably happen is that those most involved with the foreign jihadis will be forced to forego that involvement, betray the jihadis, then go back to smuggling more mundane merchandise—–being careful to pay off Baghdad’s representatives in the ancient regime of corruption.

  • anymouse says:

    Some tribes and families have been smugglers in this territory for hundreds if not thousands of years.
    Put a curfew out…violaters will be hellfired. No more smugglers at night. If whole clans don’t get the message…then whole clans go the way of the dodo bird.
    Shoot..water is the single chokepoit for the entire area. No cooporation? No water. period.

  • Brad says:

    Well, simply because the insurgents return doesn’t mean that they begin where they were before. The Al Anbar campaign seems to mimic lightly the old method of urban warfare except we don’t bypass the cities, we pulse through them. Follow up forces return later, by piece and piecemeal to secure them.
    The urban environ is a rough, rough bit of soldiery, it’s hard for a professional military like the US to fight there proficiently, and we’ve built up our institutions, our logistics, command, communications, actually have a government (a mixed blessing), and proficient troops in the basics. The Iraqis have very little of any of those, even under Saddam plus under Saddam they had great liabilities (such as the possibility of a coup from the Baathist military and its quite unacceptable not-so-gentle record of humanitarianism within Iraq itself).
    The only forces that can really hold the Al Anbar province are Iraqis. God speed.

  • vucommodore says:

    2 years after the start of the insurgency, the problem towns are still the same. Nothing has changed in Al Anbar province. The way we are fighting this war is starting to look like Vietnam. It just doesn’t seem like we’re fighting it to win. I think it’s time to make 1 of 2 possible decisions.
    1) Decide that Iraq is not worth our while and the costs are too high to justify the benefits and start withdrawing from Iraq. If the people want democracy, they will fight for it. If they don’t, then they won’t.
    2) Double or triple the number of troops in Iraq and put them all in the Sunni triangle. Use overwhelming force like the Powell doctrine. Use enough troops so that insurgents escaping from one battlefield will face a plethora of American troops at another.
    We have to make one of those two decisions. Otherwise, it’s just going to be the same nonsense in the Sunni areas of Iraq for another 2.5 years. “Staying the course” is not working right now.

  • Doolie says:

    Not like Vietnam a bit! No terrorists were waiting to hit us at home in the 60’s, 70’s. Gives us a bit of resolve. Chinese and Russian supplies were POURING into NVN. I doubt the Iranians and Syrians are having an easy time even getting in what they now are. And it’s easier to spot people on open desert than it was in the jungle.
    We can’t double or triple the manpower because this country isn’t politically ready for anything like that.

  • Justin Capone says:

    vucommodore,
    The Constitutional Referendum and the final election are at the end of the year. Millions of Sunnis are getting ready to vote. If we derail that we will have screwed our best chance at winning the war.
    We are in a delicate dance at the moment. If we are too heavy handed the Sunnis will boycott. Too little response and it seems like we are losing and just sitting around getting bombed by IEDs. The gloves can only come off after the December election when you have an Iraqi government with a clear enough mandate and considered legitimite enough by the people that it will be able to do what is necessary and there won’t be a civil war.
    By early next year we will have 250,000 Iraqi troops and an Iraqi government with true legitimacy from all segments of Iraq that they will be able to really start clearing Anbar. The Kurds are right now drafting 32,000 Peshmerga into the Iraqi Army and these are the best fights in all of Iraq. After the Constitutional Referendum in October and more so after the December election the Sunnis will also start flooding the enlistment sites in Iraq.
    Once the Iraqi government has enough popular support and enough troops those on the fence will move to support the new government. Right now the political process and the Iraqi security forces are like a snowball running downhill getting bigger and bigger by the day, right now we are pushing that snowball, but very soon it will be self building and it will be far too big for anyone to stop.
    ————————————————–
    Iraq: Kurdish Peshmerga Forces To Join Iraqi Army
    Arbil, 3 August (AKI) – Enrolment has begun in Iraqi Kudistan for the first Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to join Iraq’s national army. The recruitment represents the completion of the first phase to create a special brigade within the fourth division of the Iraqi army. Peshmerga is the term used by Kurds to refer to freedom fighters, and literally means “those who face death”.
    The agreements reached in the last few months will see some 32,000 former guerrillas join the ranks of Iraq’s new armed forces, said Jaafar Mustafa, a member of the Peshmerga leadership, but “so far only one brigade has been set up”, whose members come from the Sulaymaniya area.
    //www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Security&loid=8.0.193259602&par=0

  • Brad says:

    Again Vucommodore you seem hell-bent on unlearning every lesson of war. Doubling or tripling the number of troops is a fine thing, but doubling the number of troops doesn’t double combat power, at all. Look at the old Marine Corps Small Wars Manual, p. 34…
    (1) Attempt to attain the aims of the interventions by a simple, clear, and forceful declaration of the position and intention of the
    occupying force, this without threat or promise.
    (2) By a demonstration of the power which could be employed to carry out these intentions.
    (3) The display of the naval or military force within the area involved.
    (4) The actual application of armed force.

    Seems that’s what we’re doing. Not only is expansion of the military presence wrong headed, it would be disasterous if not done properly…i.e. without properly shaping the battlespace.
    The military is a bit more complicated than a bunch of guys with guns…the most guys with the best guns win. Doesn’t work like that. So politely try to keep the triple canopy jungle separate from the desert, South EAST Asia seperate from South WEST Asia, and a professional army, the NVA, supported by Two World Empires, China and the Soviet Union, seperate from al Queda and the Baathist confederation supported by Syria and Iran.
    “Why, it appears that we appointed all of our worst generals to command the armies and we appointed all of our best generals to edit the newspapers.
    I mean, I found by reading a newspaper that these editor generals saw all of the defects plainly from the start but didn’t tell me until it was too late. I’m willing to yield my place to these best generals and I’ll do my best for the cause by editing a newspaper.”
    Robert E. Lee

  • vucommodore says:

    Brad:
    All your analysis would be great if it wasn’t for what was occurring on the battlefield. In 2.5 years, insurgent attacks have not decreased. The new elections are not going to reduce violence just like the last ones did not. Don’t you think it’s time to either withdraw or try something new?
    The old saying goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Well, this whole situation is very broke and it’s time to fix it.

  • Kartik says:

    Vucommodore,
    Vietnam : 50,000 US deaths
    Iraq : 1800 deaths, of which 1400 are to hostile fire.
    It is more than a bit premature to say a campaign that has led to 1400 deaths is analogous to one that led to 50,000.
    However, I do think that teaching Syria a lesson, whether military or otherwise, is in order.

  • Brad says:

    Hold on.
    If the goal is to reduce pain, well, duh, obviously the best way to do that is to not step into the ring. Or to quit in the third round. Or the seventh. Maybe the tenth.
    There’ll be less pain then, in sum total.
    But the goal ‘AIN’T’ that.
    The goal is to increase the price of international terror intolerably. Defeating terror at its roots will increase the cost of international terror. The IRA just folded. Al Qaeda is losing sympathy, fast, around the world. The Taliban have to remodel their caves. More but I simply don’t care to list or ennumerate. It simply doesn’t matter.
    Tertium non datur, there is no third option here, and maybe never was.
    We stay and defeat the Iraqi insurgency or we leave and leave Iraq to the insurgency.
    But if you think you’ve gained anything, you’re wrong. Gulf War I figured into the rationale for 9/11, Gulf War II is just as good as any other, and ten times better with a premature defeat of the US forces.
    I hope that you have a better plan than just hiding.

  • The Situation in Iraq

    We cannot let the terrorists, with the help of their media allies and ill informed war critics, sap our morale. The odds still favor victory in Iraq, so long as we maintain our resolve.

  • Bayosphere says:

    On Miliatry Affairs: Context for recent Marine casualties in Iraq

    The MSM was all over the story of 21 Marines killed in three separate (though related) engagements last week in Iraq. Based on the main stream reporting, one would think that the infiltration had spiked up in activity.

    There has been a spike in

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis