Operation Quick Strike has ended. According to Colonel Stephen Davis, the commanding officer of Regimental Combat Team 2, which was executing the operation; “This is another operation, similar to those conducted before, that has disrupted the insurgents’ ability to operate freely in the western Al Anbar region.”
The importance of local intelligence in conducting the string of raids along the Euphrates River should not be overlooked, nor should the local population’s frustration with the insurgency and al Qaeda’s presence and mode of operations. A trusted source whose son is on his second tour of duty in the region explains “the biggest difference he has noticed since he has gotten back in-country [is] the regular Iraqis have had enough!” The operations along the Euphrates were not possible until “the intel was coming from the locals well enough to plan the [operations]”.
Col. Davis states Quick Strike was instrumental in gathering information for future operations; “The intelligence collected throughout this operation will enable us to better assist the citizens of western Al Anbar in their quest to participate in the upcoming referendum.” This puts Quick Strike in the classification of another cordon and search operation along the Euphrates ratline.
The end result of Quick Strike appears meager at first glance.
Quick Strike netted 36 suspected terrorists for questioning Nine car bombs were discovered. Three were identified by a local citizen, and the remaining six were discovered in an assembly garage used for rigging vehicles with explosives for insurgents to attack Iraqi civilians and military targets. And 28 improvised bombs were discovered during the operation. Most were planted as roadside bombs; others were rigged to destroy entire buildings.
There are several conclusions that can be draw from the modest results of Quick Strike:
• The enemy picked up and moved their operations prior to Marines entering the towns, including their weapons caches.
• The insurgents and their weapons caches are well hidden and were missed by the sweeps.
• The enemy was not as well-established as previously seen during operations such as Fallujah and Matador, where pillboxes, fighting positions, makeshift prisons, torure rooms, and massive weapons depots were uncovered.
It is reasonable to surmise based on the available reports that the insurgents fled the towns targeted by Quick Strike, but were unable to build a level of infrastructure seen in prior towns (Qaim) and cities (Fallujah) where the insurgency became entrenched.
The current phase of the Anbar Campaign, (which I refer to as Phase 1, “A series of search & destroy and cordon & search operations designed to keep the insurgency off balance, disrupt the ratline along the Euphrates, deny the enemy complete freedom of movement and gather intelligence” ), while not satisfying from the standpoint of those who seek a quick victory, is working as designed.
The enemy’s paltry infrastructure in Haditha, Haliqniyah and Barwana demonstrates this, which bodes well for the time when forces are prepared to permanently occupy the region.