Iron Fist III – Matador or Restoring Rights?

Marines entered the town of Sada and conducted house by house searches. Anna Badkhen, embedded with the Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Regiment reports many of the residents fled the town, and the terrorists took the opportunity to rig homes with explosive devices. Ms. Badkhen also states the Marine are receiving inaccurate mortar fire from the east in the direction of the town of Karibalah. Karibalah is the home of the tribe which has supported al Qaeda in and has battled the Karabilah tribe for control in the region.

The media has failed to place Iron Fist into the proper context. Here is an example of a common theme in media reports:

[Iron Fist] is at least the third large-scale offensive U.S. forces have conducted in the area in the past four months. Previous operations appear to have failed, as insurgents have quickly returned to reoccupy the towns and resume guerrilla activities.

Iron Fist is improperly being compared to prior operations in the region, which were operations Matador and Spear. Both of these operations were not designed to take and hold territory, but to keep the enemy off balance until the proper forces – Iraqi troops – were available to occupy the region. The real failure is the media’s inability – or unwillingness – to understand the nature of the operations.

Captain Kerr clearly placed Iron Fist into the context of operations within the region; “The offensive is part of an overall operation called Sayaid (Hunter).” This has been widely ignored.

Sada is a small town of 2,000 which is accessed by a single rural road. The Marines are unlikely to base a significant force in a town of this size. Yet, as we saw in Tal Afar (Operation Restoring Rights), the outlying towns are important when attempting to strangle the insurgency. The keys to securing these small town are installing a police force, conducting patrols and basing rapid reaction forces close by to respond to al Qaeda incursions. If Iron Fist is reported at the micro-level – without placing it into the overall scope of Hunter, just as Matador and Spear were not placed into context of the Anbar Campaign – then the Marines’ “failure” to occupy Sada will be portrayed as that.

The Coalition’s ultimate goal s are securing the border and establishing an environment where the citizens can vote, which requires Qaim and Husaybah to be occupied by Iraqi troops. To effectively secure these cities, the surrounding towns of Karibalah, Sadah, Ubaydi and others in the area will be denied to the enemy. Expect the Marines of Iron Fist to turn their attention toward Karibalah next. Al Jazeera reports operations in Karibalah, and in a town called Rumana, may already be underway.

In Karabila, troops using loudspeakers were warning residents to stay inside for their own safety, and in Rumana, a town on the other side of the Euphrates River, helicopters fired on a few houses, sending plumes of black smoke up into the air, the witnesses said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of concern for their security.

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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9 Comments

  • ex-democrat says:

    bill – “…the witnesses said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of concern for their security.”
    why do you think these people are afraid of reporting an attack by US forces?

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    ex-democrat,
    “the witnesses said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of concern for their security.”
    why do you think these people are afraid of reporting an attack by US forces?”
    We will soon get the report of the water and electricity being cut, dozens of woman and children being killed. Maybe even a report of chemical or nuclear weapons being used by coalition forces. It is the standard AlQueda disinformation crap that happens in every engagement.
    An Anonymous Resident in fear calls AlJazeera to report the advance of US Forces.
    An Anonymous hospital official calls AlJazeera to report the huge number of woman and children being killed.
    An Anonymous citizen calls to report seeing a “Mushroom” cloud.
    An Anonymous citizen calls to report seeing people “melt in the street”.
    IMHO, the Anonymous citizen is the same guy who claimed on worldwide TV “There are no tanks in Baghdad”

  • Huan vu says:

    I took ex-democrat comment to suggest the anonymous sources fear reprisal by al Qaeda.
    It would be a tactical error for US marines to fight for and to hold territory rather than to eliminate the enemy ability to conduct offensives.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Bill,
    It would appear there are some “Cordon and Searches” happening on the North Side of the river combined with some civil affairs missions.
    //www.mnf-iraq.com/mnfphotos.htm

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Bill,
    Interesting history of AlQaim, prior to 1991, AlQaim produced 110 tons of Uranium for Saddams Nuclear Weapons program.
    //www.isis-online.org/publications/iraq/alqaim.html

  • Justin Capone says:

    Iraq’s president calls for Jaafari to step
    KIRKUK, Iraq Oct 2, 2005 – Iraq’s Kurdish president called on the country’s Shiite prime minister to step down, the president’s spokesman said Sunday, escalating a political split between the two factions that make up the government.
    President Jalal Talabani has accused the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance, which holds the majority in parliament, of monopolizing power in the government and refusing to move ahead on a key issue for Kurds, the resettlement of Kurds in the northern city of Kirkuk.
    “The time has come for the United Iraqi Alliance and the Kurdistan coalition to study Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari’s stepping aside from his post,” said Azad Jundiyani, a spokesman for Talabani. “This is for the benefit of the political process.”
    Asked if the Kurds would withdraw from the government if the Shiite alliance does not back them in removing al-Jaafari, Jundiyani said, “We will wait and see.”
    //abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=1177624

  • ex-democrat says:

    SD/hv – hv got my drift, but – given the source -sd is probably right as i imagine all-that-jaz would not want to highlight that particular scenario.

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