The city of Ramadi currently appears to be the focus of a Coalition operation. Four soldiers were killed in the city on Monday, and today two Marines were killed in separate attacks. Capt. Nasir Al-Alousi of the Ramadi police reports fighting has broken out after U.S. forces airlifted equipment into the stadium and has since moved into an industrial complex. The movement of equipment to the stadium may indicate it will be used as a staging area within the city. A look at the map shows the stadium is just south of the industrial zone, where the fighting moved, so it is possible the industrial park is a haven for terrorists. West of Ramadi, Coalition forces conducted operations in and around the town of Baghdadi [not to be confused with Baghdad].
There is at least a battalion of Marines stationed in Ramadi, with Army units attached (as the MNF-Iraq press release on the soldier’s deaths indicates – “Several U.S. Army units are attached to II MEF (Fwd))” . Just downriver from Ramadi, there are about 3,000 members of the Iraqi Intervention Force in the town of Habbaniyah (page 7, September 17, 2005 edition of The Advisor).
There are numerous American battalions “missing” from the battlefield (I will not disclose the unit designations or number of battalions, let the enemy figure that out for themselves). Ramadi is the capital of the Anbar province, a city of 300,000. The force needed to clear Ramadi depends on the security situation in the city. A police force does exist, so operations may be limited to clear several pocket in troubled neighborhoods. It is unclear if an operation the size of Fallujah or Tal Afar is required.
The question is whether the recent clashes in Ramadi are the precursor to or beginning of an attempt to clear and hold the city, or just isolated incidents of violence. If Ramadi is indeed another clear and hold operation, then we will have a better picture of the status of the Iraqi Security Forces and the Iraqi government’s willingness to use them.
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