Quick Strike Update

News reports from Operation Quick Strike are sparse. According to the Washington Post, the strke force consists of “180 Iraqi soldiers and 900 members of the 2nd Marine Division, backed by M1-A1 Abrams tanks, helicopters and jets.” This equates to about a company of Iraqi forces attached to a marine battalion. A car bomb factory containing six vehicles was uncovered in Haqlaniyah. According to the Kuwait News Agency, the Coalition is in control of the region targeted by Quick Strike, and operations are intensifying in Haditha:

The joint US-Iraqi forces tightened their grip on Haditha town and Al-Khafajiya village after having total control on the towns of Al-Haqlaniay, Barwana and Al-Hawaija  Eyewitnesses told Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) today that MNF [Multi National Forces Iraq] wrecked Barwana Bridge over the Euphrates to isolate the gunmen in Haditha. American warplanes, the eyewitnesses added, intensely bombarded the gunmen’s locations in Al-Khafajiya village, which has been cut of power and water for three days.

The destruction of the bridge is suspect, as the US would want to maintain lines of communication across the Euphrates in order to conduct operations north. KUNA’s report also conflicts with a report from Tom Lasseter, which states Haditha was basically abandoned by the insurgents. Likely, the Marines are encountering insurgents left behind to engage the Marines while the core of the fighters escape. Colonel Bob Chase explains the movements of the insurgents along the Euphrates.

“When we did operations out west, the insurgents moved to the Haditha-Haqlaniyah area  That area is a geographic crossroads where they can get north to Mosul and east to Ramadi and Baghdad. It has good urban terrain for them to melt into. And we are well aware there are still plenty of ammunition supplies from the Saddam Hussein era for them to make use of.”

The problem of insurgents picking up and moving as Coalition forces direct their attention at an area is a real source of frustration. This is clearly seen in the comments of Iraqi Army Sgt. Ahmed Waheed with respect to the insurgency in Haditha; “Back in the Iraqi formation, Waheed said he didn’t know where the insurgents were, but he was certain of one thing: “When we leave, they will come back.” ”

The limited operations currently being conducted on the Euphrates River do serve the purpose of the first phase of the Anbar Campaign, “to keep the insurgency off balance, disrupt the ratline along the Euphrates, deny the enemy complete freedom of movement and gather intelligence.” The enemy does not benefit by having to constantly remain on the move, wasting resources on finding a new home and abandoning established bases, weapons factories and depots.

The situation along the Euphrates will get mighty interesting when the Coalition decides it is time not to leave the dusty towns along the Euphrates. The insurgents and al Qaeda will be force to stand and fight or abandon their positions and move on to other locales, which will increasingly become occupied by Coalition forces. There will be nowhere to run.

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

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.

9 Comments

  • Justin Capone says:

    Bill,
    I am hearing that we are planning on increasing the number of US forces to around 160,000 through the October and December elections. When do you think we will have enough Iraqi troops to start occupying these towns in Western Iraq in large numbers?

  • leaddog2 says:

    Good question, Justin?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Justin,
    My guess (and its just a guess) is sometime this fall/winter. I think we are getting close.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Justin,
    Changes in the last couple of weeks
    From ArmyTimes –
    //www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-1021198.php
    “A joint U.S.-Iraqi committee has been established to identify areas that could be handed over and to work out the technical details of the transfer.
    The chairman of the committee, Mouwaffak al-Rubaie, last month listed the Shiite cities of Najaf, Karbala, Samawah, Diwaniyah and Nasiriyah as well as the Kurdish areas around Sulaimaniyah and Irbil as regions that could be handed over to Iraqi control….. Iraqi officials say the Americans are already preparing to leave their base in the northern part of Najaf and will relocate at another installation about 25 miles north of the city.”
    From 42nd ID –
    //www.42id.army.mil/newsstory/CF%20transfer%20authority.htm
    “20% of Diyala Province has been turned over to ISF”
    //www.mnf-iraq.com/Transcripts/050807a.htm
    “FOB Dagger(tikrit) has been turned over to ISF”
    In my humble opinion, Al Anbar province will be nailed shut with coalition troops by October 15th. 25,000 troops looking after 300,000 households.(Not counting the 12,000 Iraqi troops)

  • Jeff Medcalf says:

    I think that there is an additional component to the Iraq situation that I haven’t seen addressed. The enemy in Iraq is three components: domestic insurgents (primarily former Ba’athists), smugglers and other criminals, and foreign terrorists. This campaign appears to me to be the first effort both to target all three major elements of the enemy, and also to deny them the ability to reconstitute. Cutting the ratlines, occupying the major urban nodes along the river corridors, aggressively operating in the border zone and bringing as many Sunni as possible into the political process all act against one or more elements of the enemy, and all of the enemy’s components are addressed.
    If things go well, history will likely look at November 2004 as the beginning of the end of the war, and the period between October 2005 and October 2006 as both the most deadly period of the war, and also the end of the enemy’s ability to decisively influence events in Iraq.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Soldier’s Dad is on the positive end, but I’ll pretty positive as well.
    Jeff,
    Let’s come back to that prediction in mid 2006 to see where it stands. Its not out of the question. But the election in December gives the enemy another opportunity to disrupt if they haven’t been queezed.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Bill,
    I think they are going to put everything they have into disrupting the October 15th Referendum. Which is going to make it very hard for them to come up with largescale disruptions for the December election. As we have seen from the insurgency, after and extremely violent period they need a period of time to regroup, re-equip, and plan new attacks.
    I also think we will see a similar outburst of support for the Iraqi government, belief in the Iraqi security forces, and patriotism overall in Iraq after each election if they are successful, and if the Sunnis vote in both elections that patriotism and support for the government will move strongly to the Sunni community for the first time.
    Thus, I suspect if the Sunnis vote in the October election the number of tips will go up incredibly and the Insurgency will really be on the ropes, and the December elections could be the knock out punch if enough Sunnis vote.

  • Justin Capone says:

    I would also like to say as part of my prediction that I don’t think the violence will taper off for some time to come, as it doesn’t take much to cause the violence. But, the insurgency will be beaten and won’t have a prayer of winning by the beginning of 2006 if the Sunnis vote in the two elections.

  • Alan says:

    western Iraq, “Operation Quick Strike” has 180 Iraqi Security and Special Operations Forces focused on disrupting hostile forces, especially foreign terrorists, in the areas of Barwanah, Haditha and Haqliniyah.
    “Operation Able Warrior,” has pulled in 40 terrorist suspects operating west of Baghdad International Airport. The operation has specifically targeted those who have been responsible for a deadly wave of roadside bombs.
    Multiple operations concentrate on terrorism eradication

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis