Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Barwana – A Permanent Presence

Marines from 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, search for improvised explosive devices in the city of Haditha, Iraq during Operation River Gate.

Operation Hunter, the overarching operation that includes Iron Fist and River Gate, is living up to its reputation of moving Iraqi forces westward and establishing bases in key cities along the Euphrates. Sa’dah, which resides in the Qaim region on the Syrian border, now hosts several outposts to interdict the ratline. The towns of Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Barwana, which are the focus of Operation River Gate, will now host Coalition forces that will secure the region and prevent the infiltration of insurgent and al Qaeda forces, a problem that plagued the region in the past.

The latest Multi National West press release states “these cities join the growing number of cities in the Al Anbar province, to include Fallujah, Ramadi, Hit, Amiriyah and Ferris, that have a joint Coalition and Iraqi Security Force presence. Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces are now focusing on security operations, building forward operating bases and establishing a persistent presence in the area.

Since the operation began, 119 improvised explosive devices and mines, two vehicle car bombs and 14 weapons caches have been discovered. About 160 suspected insurgents are currently in custody. Coalition forces are working to establish security for the election on Saturday while continuing clearing operations. The Haditha of today is a far cry from Zarqawi’s “Islamic Republic”, and if al Qaeda tries to raise the black banner of al Qaeda in the city, the Marines and Iraqi Army will be there to greet them this time.

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

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  • The Honest Liberal says:

    It appears that the US military is attempting to make progress against the insurgents.
    However, the progress is tiny and nothing of note has been achieved, so the MSM is happily able to continue to undermine the war efforts.
    The US has little chance of overcoming this obstacle, no matter how many small operations are conducted. The US is losing the propaganda war.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    The unclassified quarterly report to Congress.
    Interesting chart on page 14 Bagdhad,Ninewa,Tamin and Diyala all are sitting right at 4 attacks/million population/day.
    Salahadin is at 16 attacks/million/day
    AlAnbar is at 19 attacks/million/day
    Everywhere else is less than 2 attacks/million/day

  • Karensky says:

    Bill, keep up the great work, your site is invaluable. As a conincidence the Combined Forces are clearing out the malcontents from the Sunni area just before the elections. This will have two beneficial effects; more Sunnis will be able to vote for or against the proposed Consititution and AQI and the dead ender Baathisits will be further isolated within the Sunni sectors. Add to that the nullification or inhibition of young Assad’s rat line of zealots will, for all practical purposes be shut down.
    Looking further down the road if the Iraqi government can police itself while keeping the G&C (graft and corruption) to a minimum we could see, careful now) real Sunni democrats emerging. For western Iraq this could create the democratic buffer the government will need to tackle Mookie and the Iranians (sounds like a sick punk band) on the eastern border.
    Should the Kurds finally and completely buy in to the democratic Iraq we would be seeing Sunnis protecting the West, Shiia holding the south and west and Kurds keeping the Turks at bay in the north. When you think about it, this could be something really wonderful for all Arabs. In this scenario I can see Iraq will be having an immigration problem in the short and long term. Arabs flocking to a real future in the Arab world. Quite possibly-even Muslims flocking to Iraq for a real future of prosperity, safety and freedom to think and act like humans without some sociopathic “higher than Allah” dictator deliniating what every individuals life can be.
    Just dreaming here in the AM.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Insurgents bomb Sunni Arab office in Iraq
    Insurgents determined to derail this weekend’s referendum bombed an office of Iraq’s largest Sunni Arab political party on Friday, after the group dropped its opposition to the draft constitution.
    No one was wounded by the roadside bomb outside the Iraqi Islamic Party office in Fadhal, a district of central Baghdad. The attack was rare in that it targeted Sunnis, the ethnic group behind the insurgency, and appeared aimed at punishing the party for deciding to end its “no” campaign.
    Lawmakers agreed Wednesday night to several amendments to the constitution designed to win Sunni support in Saturday’s vote. The Iraqi Islamic Party subsequently removed banners urging a “no” vote from prominent positions around the capital. “This attack by insurgents against the Islamic Party was expected because of its new stand toward the referendum,” Iraqi army Maj. Salman Abdul Yahid said in an interview. “Insurgents had threatened to attack the group and its leaders to get revenge.”
    A senior party official, Alaa Makki, condemned the attack, saying it won’t stop the group’s efforts to “use the political process to fight terrorism and promote stability in Iraq.”
    We need to let the Iraqi Islamic Party and the other Sunni parties that take part in the political process build their own militias like the Badr otherwise they are going to get slaughtered by the terrorists. Giving them their own militia would be a great way to get moderate Sunnis involved in the fight against the insurgents

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    “We need to let the Iraqi Islamic Party and the other Sunni parties that take part in the political process build their own militias”
    We tried that…there was a militia called the “Fallujah Brigade” that was handed control of Fallujah. Another one was the “Mahdi Army”, which we ended up fighting against in Najaf,Fallujah and Sadr City.
    There was also the “National Guard” experiment. Similar to the US National Guard, each province got its own national guard units. That didn’t work out either. (As they lived in the Areas where they served, it was too easy for insurgents to intimidate their families)
    Militias are not the answer…blending the militias into a professional Army is the answer.

  • Justin Capone says:

    soldiers dad,
    I am no fool, I hate militias and believe they are very damaging to Iraq long term. But, we can’t defend them, we and the Iraqi government couldn’t defend their office in Fallujah we can’t defend their office in Baghdad. If we want them to stay in the political process we have to find some way of keeping them alive and I have heard it from anyone yet.
    Your Fallujah Brigade analogy is very flawed because the Fallujah Brigade had loyalty to no one. If the Iraqi Islamic Party had their own militia it would be loyal to them and unlike the Madhi Army they would be loyal to a group like the SCRII or the Kurds who are a part of political process. The Kurds can do it and the Shia can do it all because they are apart of the new government, then we should let the Sunni Islamic Party that is allied with Allawi to have their own on a short term basis.
    Long term we need to get rid of all of them.

  • Justin Capone says:

    I also like to say that when we have double the number of Iraqi police officers we will be able to defend them, but until that point we can’t do much.

  • liberalhawk says:

    what are your thoughts on the two bombing in Tel Afar.
    On the one hand, its good they werent in Baghdad, and that AQ seems to have to focus on towns near the Syrian border. But on the other hand I wonder what it says about the security situation in Tel Afar, in light of recent coalition operations?

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Expect to see more musical chairs on security forces after October 15th. FOB Danger is being turned back to the Iraqi’s. The 48th Infantry Brigade is being split from TF Baghad, 1/2 to AlAnbar, 1/2 to Salahadin. Add 5000-6000 ISF coming on line every month.

  • desert rat says:

    The idea of forming a milita, just to disband it later is nonsensical. There are now US and Iraq forces numbering over 356,000 in Iraq. If we cannot provide sufficent urban security with this size force, it could be that it will never be provided. Arming another 20,000 or so civilians, not loyal to the National Government, is not the answer.
    Incorporating another 20,000 men into an even larger ISF may be.
    Better yet a reallocation of existing resources, within Iraq, may be the best short term answer.

  • desert rat says:

    Recently there was another bombing in Oklahoma. Media Might Be Missing a Story and Ignoring a Terrorist
    After McVeigh’s attack that makes two terrorist strikes in Oklahoma. Obviously Oklahoma is not secure. Their Police insufficient to the task of securing the State. Oklahoma may well be on the verge of anarchy. Martial Law may have to be declared. Posse Comitotus (sp) suspended and the Military brought in.
    In truth suicide bombers are not a real military problem, they are a Police challenge. Just as in Israel, after a Homicide bombing it is not the Military on the scene, it is the Police.
    Suiciders may plague Iraq for decades, it is an Internal problem for the Iraqis to solve, themselves.

  • Justin Capone says:

    I am still thinking about ideas that might protect the Sunni political parties like the Iraqi Islamic Party who wants to join the new government.
    Long term militias are of course a bad idea, and building Iraqi security forces are the only way. But, we also want groups like the Iraqi Islamic Party and the Sunni Endowment that join the new government to be safe. Right now they are easy targets as they are the only ones without a militia.
    We don’t want more militias, yet we can’t protect them and if the insurgency decides to wipe them out, we won’t be able to stop them.
    I am well aware that long term the problem will solve itself if the US has the political will to stay a year or two more which is an open question, but in the short term these Sunnis that chose to be a part of the democratic process are very easy targets.

  • desert rat says:

    The link to the above mentioned story “Media Might Be Missing a Story and Ignoring a Terrorist”

  • desert rat says:

    If we cannot protect Iraqis with 356,000+ troops, it is time to come home, in shame.

  • Kenneth says:

    But on the other hand I wonder what it says about the security situation in Tel Afar, in light of recent coalition operations?
    I suppose one could look at 2 ways. It was a deadly attack, & therefore a security failure. On the other hand, it was the 1st significant attack since the US-Iraq force took control of the city a month ago, so it shows the weakness of the terrorists. My bias is for the 2nd point of view. If the terrorists had been able to do more, they would. The fact that they have managed only 1 attack in Tal Afar in over a month shows they’re reduced effectivness.

  • leaddog2 says:

    “Suiciders may plague Iraq for decades, it is an Internal problem for the Iraqis to solve, themselves”.
    Desert Rat,
    As long as Wahhabi Islam exists in any form anywhere on the planet, suicidal killers will exist!
    Since I do not yet see the balls for the needed extermination anywhere, this will be a problem for the next several centuries, I believe. Some day, some group of humans will say ENOUGH and take the required action, but not in our lifetimes, I suspect.

  • desert rat says:

    I’d agree with that assessment. We squandered the opportunity, this round, to take most of the “sting” out of the Mohammedans. To much Nation Building, not enough destruction, IMO.
    Given the current state of affairs, Homicide bombers both in US and abroad may well be with US for the long haul. My point is that these bombers, in Israel, London, Madrid or Oklahoma are best answered with with local Police not US Military.
    Even the weapons cache discovered a few days ago, near the car bomb factory, is insignifcant militarily. My Engineer Company, in Panama, had larger stockpiles of demo and small arms rounds in our Ammo bunker, as part of our Basic Load, and there were only 150 or so men in the unit.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Todays Security Incidents –
    9 people wounded
    15 Insurgents arrested in Mosul
    Some empty offices got bombed and burned.
    The only deaths reported were from 3 days ago.
    This may be a first.

  • Dave From Chicago says:

    Hey guys,is Iraq 8 hours ahead of us? What time does the voting beging EST?

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Iraq is 8 hours ahead of EST. The voting will pretty much be done by 10 AM Eastern.


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