The Anbar Campaign

The series of operations being conducted in the Anbar province along the Euphrates River must be looked upon not as isolated operations, but part of an overall campaign to wrest the Anbar province from the insurgency and al Qaeda. During a Department of Defense press briefing, General Ham alludes to the existence of the Anbar Campaign. Wretchard astutely picks up General Ham’s cue during a line of questioning on the violence in Haditha.

Reporter: Can you describe like how many forces, what the — I mean, is this a — I mean, I understand Operation Sword had been going on and that was completed. I mean, is there a name for this operation? Are there — is this, you know, running from, you know, Hadithah all the way out to the border? You have a large operation that’s going on right now, and can you tell us how many troops are involved?

GEN. HAM: I don’t know in their entirety. It’s about a battalion strength from Multinational Force Northwest that is assisting in this effort, and they have — I’m trying to — at least a battalion strength of Iraqi army with them.

Reporter: This is just in the Hadithah corridor area, or is this going all the way out to the border?

GEN. HAM: This is all the way out to the border.'”

As I stated in June, the series of operations is part of the overall plan to conquer the untamed regions of Iraq that serve as the home of the insurgency and al Qaeda.

The military and political advances since the January election cannot be viewed in isolation, but must be viewed as part of the overall plan to push through the Sunni Triangle and the restive Anbar province and pacify it, either through negotiation or military action. Military operations in Qaim, Haditha, Mosul, Tal Afar and various other towns and cities in the untamed areas of Western Iraq have demonstrated the capacity of Coalition forces to execute large scale missions in areas thought to be untouchable. The insurgency has experienced the unpleasantness of direct military confrontation with US forces, and knows the closest they can come to success is IED or hit-and-run attacks that will not alter the situation on the ground.

The evidence supports the existence of the Anbar Campaign, which technically can be traced back to the assault on Fallujah last November, but did not increase in its intensity until the inception of Operation River Blitz.

Look at the following map and list of major combat operations. Note the increase in tempo in operations, particularly in May with the start of Operation Matador. Matador is immediate followed by Squeeze Play, which occurs in conjunction with New Market and Thunder/Lightning. In mid June, Veterans Forward commences in Tal Afar, which occurs in conjunction with Spear, Dagger and Sword, and immediately followed by Scimitar, Rawah in early/mid July, and Operation Quick Strike at the beginning of August. Each of these operations consist of battalion sized forces or greater, and often were accompanied by Iraqi forces.

The Anbar Campaign

[click map for larger image]

Operation Dawn

November 8 – 20, 2005


10,000 American and 2,000 Iraqi troops

Operation River Blitz

February 2005

Ramadi, Hit, Baghdadi and Hadithah.

Iraqi Security Forces and elements of the 1st Marine Division

Operation Matador

May 7, 2005 – May 14, 2005

Western Iraq

2nd Regimental Combat Team, 2nd Marine Division

Operation Squeeze Play

May 23, 2005


Two battalions from the 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division; two battalions from the 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Intervention Force; three battalions from the 2nd Brigade Special Police Commandos; and Soldiers from Task Force 2-14, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

Operation New Market

May 2005


Marine Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division; a company of the Iraqi Security Forces

Operation Thunder/Lightning

May 25-29, 2005


Upwards to 40,000 Iraqi and Coalition soldeirs

Operation Veterans Forward:

June 16, 2005

Tal Afar

Operation Spear

June 17, 2005


Regimental Combat Team-2, 2nd Marine Division and Iraqi Security Force

Operation Dagger:

June 19, 2005

Thar Thar

1,000 Marines and Iraqi troops

Operation Sword

July 6, 2005


Regimental Combat Team-2, 2nd Marine Division and Iraqi Security Force

Operation Scimitar

July 9th, 2005

Zaidan about 20 miles southeast of Fallujah

3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team-8, a company of Iraqi soldiers

Operation Hunter

July – October 2005

Deployment of U.S. and Iraqi forces into forward positions in Anbar, first move was at Rawah


July 18th, 2005

Elements of the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division’s Stryker Brigade Combat Team

Operation Quick Strike

August 3, 2005

Haditha, Haqliniya and Barwana area.

About 1,000 Marines and Iraq forces


August – September 2005

Series of airstrikes targeting al Qaeda safe houses

Operation Restoring Rights

September 3, 2005

Tal Afar

6,000 Iraqi and 4,000 U.S. forces

Operation Cyclone

September 9, 2005


Seal the border crossing west of Tal Afar

Operation Iron Fist

October 1, 2005

Sa’dah (Qaim Region)

1,000 U.S. Marines

Operation River Gate

October 3, 2005

Haditha, Haqliniya and Barwana

2,500 Iraqi and U.S. forces

Operation Mountaineers

October 3, 2005


500 U.S. and 400 Iraqi forces

Operation Saratoga

October 3, 2005

The provinces of North-Central Iraq:

Salah Ad Din, Diyala, Kirkuk and Sulayminayah

U.S. 42nd Infantry Division and Iraqi Army and police forces

Operation Steel Curtain

November 5, 2005

Qaim region: Husaybah, Karabilah, Ubaydi, Ushsh, Albu Harden

1,000 Iraqi Army, the local Desert Protection Force, and 2,500 Marines

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


  • ricksamerican says:

    I also found encouragement in General Ham’s explanation that the size and tempo of these operations are greatly restricting the enemy’s freedom of movement. As the joint offensive expands, the jihadis find fewer and fewer holes to hide in–and therefore we should expect more frequent and more ferocious contact with the enemy.
    What do you make of the comment by Iraq the Model on the Lebanon meeting:
    “The attendants were trying to put plans for post-liberation Iraq (liberation from what the call western occupation) considering that kicking coalition troops out of Iraq is something they don’t need to worry about because they (the armed “resistance”) are already triumphing . . .”
    Is this more BBDS (Bagdad Bob Delusional Syndrome)? Do they think they are winning the media war to the extent that Bush will cut and run? Or is their delusion merely a function of their brand of Islam–they are the sword of Allah, fighting to put Allah’s enemies to death. How can they lose? That is a factor to be reckoned with, if anyone is harboring the false hope that the jehadis (at least the leadership) will lose heart and go home.
    In this light, the American strategy of denying them planning, training, and staging areas is right on the money. Can’t take the hate out of jihadi, but can we drive them beyond range of their target, at least until Iraq is up and running as a political and military entity?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Bagdad Bob Delusional Syndrome. Remember, the insurgency is a grouping of disparate organizations: Baathists, jihadis, Sadrists, ‘nationals’. They are often at odds in their endgame, and can’t even agree on how to work together. I commented ont he ITM post briefly.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Why the hell can’t we do anything about these IEDs? If we can’t figure out something the media is going to screw us. They can kill us all day long with these goddamn things without any harm to themselves.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    What exactly do you want to do about these IEDs? Detonate them before we enter the KZ? There are ways around that from the terrorist’s side (running wire, changing up frequencies on remotes, etc.)
    There is no such thing as perfect armor. Every weapons system has its flaws, and you can count on a clever enemy to find and exploit them. The AAVs are better than Hummers, probably better than the modified guntrucks, but definitely ighter in armor than Bradleys ir M-113s.
    The enemy will always adapt to situations on the battlefield. And adjusting armor has its drawbacks in speed and maneuverability, and safety. More hummers are rolling because of the up-armor kits, for example, and cannot drive as fast or as well. There are no perfect solutions.

  • Justin Capone says:

    How about increasing the number of vehicles in Iraq and making it so that only three US personal are allowed per vehicle. That might make a big difference in lowering the number of US casulties from IEDs. Thanks to the media the war effort in the states won’t be able to take 5, 7, 14 casulties per IED for much longer.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    More vehicles, more tail (logistics required to keep said vehicles on the road), more targets. No perfect solutions.

  • AMac says:

    Remember the controversy surrounding the rollout of the Strykers–would the sacrifice in armor and in off-road mobility be worth the extra on-road speed and relative stealth? From a web-gazing perspective, it was not clear whether Strykers would be unworkable boondoggles or not. With the passage of time, it seems that the cavalry equipped with Strykers like them well enough. Given the increasing size of IEDs and employment of shaped charges, they have been called under-protected. But then M1A1s get destroyed by big enough detonations. So even a reasonably good solution is far from perfect.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Support for the war isn’t going to hold up much longer, all the enemy has to do is hit us hard a couple more times and support will be gone.
    Clearly something needs to be done, I am just not sure what.

  • Mixed Humor says:

    Excellent overall look Bill, nicely done. For some reason my trackback attempts are coming up with an error.
    – MH

  • Cutler says:

    I concur with MH, both the excellent look and the failed trackback.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Sorry about the failed trackbacks, I never even saw them hitting the MT Blacklist panel. Any suggestions are welcome.

  • leaddog2 says:

    You are too pessimistic. The only ones being destroyed by the Legacy media are the media themselves. Some newspapers have lost up to 30% of their readers and revenue sources. They will RIGHTFULLY become dodo birds.
    The LA Times is a good example of a dying scandal rag.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Public support has been on a downward slope since the war began. Other then bumps upword for big events the media has to portay positively like the capture of Saddam or the January 30th elections the support for the war has been on a downward trend.
    If we pull off the Constitutional Referendum (and the Constitution doesn’t totally make Islamic law the law of Iraq which the media would have a field day with) and if we pull of the December elections and the trial of Saddam will will have maybe until mid-2006 before the media and the public starts screaming for us to leave.
    I wonder if there is any way we could speed up training of Iraqi forces, maybe send them to US bases overseas. That and creating an infostructure for the Iraqi Army to build on itself is essencial.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Iran caught sending high explosives into Iraq
    Shipment of high explosives intercepted in Iraq: Most sophisticated of roadside bombs reportedly coming from Iran
    PENTAGON – It’s the number one killer of American troops in Iraq: Roadside bombs. The massive roadside bomb that killed 14 Marines Wednesday flipped their 37-ton vehicle on its top and blew it some 40 feet down the road.
    Tonight, there’s disturbing information that some of the most sophisticated of these deadly weapons are reportedly coming from Iran. U.S. military and intelligence officials tell NBC News that American soldiers intercepted a large shipment of high explosives, smuggled into northeastern Iraq from Iran only last week. The officials say the shipment contained dozens of “shaped charges” manufactured recently. Shaped charges are especially lethal because they’re designed to concentrate and direct a more powerful blast into a small area.
    “They’ll go right through a very heavily armored vehicle like an M1-A1 tank from one side right out the other side,”

  • John says:

    When reporter asked hime “how many forces are there” the gen should tell him about that bcs now it’s the public issue.

  • Tom Murphy says:

    This is incredible work. You just gave a text book company alot less hours to do research. Well done. Bill I like to hear your evaluation of the Brookins Institute Statistics that just came out. It gives a different picture then what is shown in the news. I love see you break it down. Thanks for the great work,

  • Grim says:

    It’s not true that IEDs allow the enemy to kill us with no harm to themselves. The techniques needed to detonate one without it being subject to our remote-jamming and detonation techniques also require being close to the thing — like running a wire, as Bill notes.
    As soon as an IED is detected, because we spot it or because it blows up, we throw out a cordon to search for the bombers. They are very often caught or killed. The media doesn’t care, of course, but you’ll notice reading MilBloggers in Iraq that talk about IEDs that the capture or death of the enemy is the usual ending. This is one reason we’ve seen the shift away from attacking American forces and to attacking Iraqis: when they attack American forces, it costs them.
    I think Bill/Wretchard are correct. The recent upsurge in casualties, and particularly the loss of the sniper teams, indicates that we’re applying a lot of pressure. The military has announced an operation as of this morning (“Quick Strike”), but all evidence is that it’s been ongoing for a week in a classified fashion.

  • James says:

    Just stumbled on this site via Wretchards link. It is bookmarked, let me tell you. Great stuff.
    The operations of the US military over the last few years have really raised the bar in terms of operations and tactics. Much has been said about how much more powerful the US military is as compared to thier nearest rival…farther ahead than any other nation in the history of the world, etc. We are in the presence of probably the greatest (and most benevolent…the former soviet union had grandiose plans with similar objectives, but could only watch thier plans evaporate when coming into contact with reality) military force in the history of the world.
    I may even quite smoking so I can be around long enough to read the “untold” stories and military anthologies of OIF when they are finally written in a few decades times (ie. a Ballantines Illustrated History kind of thing). I suspect your analyses will not be too far off, if at all.

  • Cover Me, Porkins says:

    Fox News’ website, unfortunately, is reliant on Associated Press feeds and the explanation for what is apparently called “Operation Quick Strike” is that this particular thousand-man operation follows “deadly attacks” on American troops. The corresponding article starts wrongheaded and goes downhill &#8212 losing Marines is framed by the AP as possibly mutually exclusive of successful combat operations. Bottom AP line: US troops caught flat-footed, polls at new lows. What rubbish.

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  • Walter E. Wallis says:

    I am curious as to why they use amtracks there instead of Bradleys and Strykers. Is the river being used as a transit corridor?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Marines don’t have Bradleys/Strikers. AAVs are what they own.

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Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram