Recent Operations on the Euphrates

Created by Steve Schippert, Marvin Hutchens and Bill Roggio

The following presentation details the current operations being conducted along the Euphrates River which began on October 1, and are still ongoing. The purposes of the operations are threefold: drive al Qaeda, the most dangerous and violent element of the insurgency from the region; establish the security conditions to allow elections on the constitution [October 15] and the parliament [December 15]; and establish a permanent presence of Iraqi Army and police forces.

The current operations must be looked at in the context of the Anbar Campaign, which began in November of 2004 when U.S. and Iraqi forces executed Operation Dawn in Fallujah. Fallujah was al Qaeda’s easternmost headquarters, a safe haven where thousands of terrorists and their insurgent allies operated freely and directed attacks towards the heart of Iraq. Over one thousand terrorists and insurgents were killed and fifteen hundred were captured. Operation Dawn ejected the insurgency from Fallujah, but it was only the beginning of the Anbar Campaign. Operation River Blitz followed in February, which focused on establishing a presence in the city of Ramadi.

Iron Fist in Sadah, River Gate in Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Barwana, and Mountaineers in Ramadi, were preceded by several important operations which established the environment for their successful execution. Multiple search and destroy missions were executed along the river to keep the enemy off balance, such as Matador, Spear and Quick Strike (see the Anbar Campaign for a full listing of major operations).

Hunter was the overarching operation to push Iraqi and Coalition troops westward to secure the river cities and towns. The city of Hit was secured in Operation Sword on July 9. Rawah followed shortly after on July 18. The northern ratline in the Tal Afar-Mosul region was shut down during Operation Restoring Rights in early August, as was the northern crossing at Rabiah and the southern crossing in Ruthbah [Operation Cyclone]. Khan Al Baghdadi was secured on September 23. The river region was essentially segmented, with Coalition bases being set up for the prepositioning of troops and material for future operations. During this time, Coalition forces struck al Qaeda targets of opportunity, using airpower and ground forces in raids along the length of the river.

The Iraqi Security Forces have taken an increasingly larger role as operations progressed over the summer. They have a strong presence in Fallujah and Habbaniyah, and are beginning to appear in battalion strength in the Euphrates cities of Ramadi, Hit, Haditha and Rawah. In Tal Afar, the Iraqi Army took the lead and outnumbered U.S. troops three to two.

Iron Fist, which began on October 1 and ended October 7, was directed at the town of Sadah near Qaim. Over seventy five terrorists and insurgents were killed in combat. Over 1,000 Marines, soldiers and Navy personnel were involved in the operation. Coalition forces have established multiple outposts in the area surrounding Sa’dah, which will work to interdict the flow of support to al Qaeda and the insurgents.

River Gate began on October 3 and is still ongoing. River Gate is focused on the cities of Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Barwana. Over 2,500 Coalition forces are involved, including 2,500 Marines and soldiers, 350 Iraqi Army and police forces. River Gate is the largest operation on the Euphrates River since Matador this spring. Seven enemy have been killed and over two hundred captured since the operation began.

Mountaineers also began on October 4, and was a single day cordon and search operation made up of 500 U.S. Marines and 400 Iraqi Army troops. Twelve insurgent were captured and a key bridge was seized to prevent the movement of insurgents and munitions into the city.

The seizure and destruction of bridges across the Euphrates is a crucial part of ongoing operations. Of twelve bridges that cross the river between Qaim and Ramadi, eight have been destroyed and the remaining four have been placed under the control of the Coalition. The Coalition now controls the flow of traffic from the border to Baghdad, and from north to south of the river, making the insurgent’s movement of men and material all the more difficult and dangerous.

Recent Operations on the Euphrates

Operations Iron Fist, River Gate and Mountaineers

October 1 thru October 9, 2005

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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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  • Super 6 says:

    Excellent reporting and perspective (as usual). Thanks Bill……

  • Justin Capone says:

    Great Job Bill
    Any idea when we will be seeing battalion strength operations by the Iraqi Army west of Haditha?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    RE: Iraqi battalions west of Haditha. Just not enough information to make an educated guess. I think when we see a large presence in Haditha, we’ll know they are ready to move westward.

  • cjr says:

    “1 battalion of the 48th NG brigade will be sent(in Oct or Nov) near the Syrian border and will be responsible for a specific piece of terrain.”
    From an Atlanta newspaper in September, but I cant find the link now..

  • Sgt. York says:

    Re: “…destruction of bridges across the Euphrates…”
    You only destroy bridges when you can’t secure them. Other then the GreenZone and a few FOBs, the US Military controls nothing in Iraq. When the dust settles, a bunch of puritanical fundamentalist Islamists will be running that country and every guy who got his legs blown off fighting this stupid war will realize that those politicians and you political pundits don’t give a damn.

  • GK says:

    Looks like that ridiculous fool Jimmy Carter is off praising Liberia for having an election. Liberia is a country where as recently as last year, political opponents would routinely kill each other and eat the body parts.
    How much do you wanna bet that Jimmy Carter will NEVER find the time to praise Iraq’s or Afghanistan’s success at Democracy?
    America lost 4 years of her life under this person….

  • ghoullio says:

    Sgt York, when has a US Soldier EVER faught or died for a politician? do they scream “4 MORE YEARS” as their battle cry?
    but i agree, the US Army does NOT control squat in Iraq. that distinction belongs to the Iraqi people, the Iraqi Army, and the Iraqi Police…we arent there to run their country for them, we are there to remove Hussein and the Ba’athist element and provide security while the Iraqi alliance decides on a representative government.

  • Mixed Humor says:

    Bill, Marvin and Steve…good presentation, thanks for the insight.

  • antimedia says:

    “Sgt York” writes, “You only destroy bridges when you can’t secure them.” Military strategy expert are you?
    Perhaps you should read before coming to conclusions.
    “Of twelve bridges that cross the river between Qaim and Ramadi, eight have been destroyed and the remaining four have been placed under the control of the Coalition. The Coalition now controls the flow of traffic from the border to Baghdad, and from north to south of the river, making the insurgent’s movement of men and material all the more difficult and dangerous.”
    Get it? By destroying SOME of the bridges, they force the enemy to move where they WANT them to move. It’s called thinking ahead. It’s called controlling the battle space.

  • PeterArgus says:

    I think Sgt York was just trying to give us a sneak preview of the new Disney movie “Chicken Little”.
    Nice job Bill and Co.

  • john k says:

    Your blog has been outstanding. My Marine son’s unit is in the Haditha area. Thank you from all in our family for giving us some context for the activity in Anbar province. Saw this casualty report on Defense Link: Lance Cpl. Shayne M. Cabino, 19, of Canton, Mass., died Oct. 6 from an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations against enemy forces near Al Karmah, Iraq. Is Al Karmah in Anbar province?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Hello john k,
    The thanks goes to your son. Please give him our best. This Al Karmah is located near Fallujah in Anbar province.

  • Mixed Humor says:

    Al Karmah is about 12 miles northeast of Fallujah, and about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad. Let me see if I can attach a link to the map.

  • Mixed Humor says:

    After looking at the map, it looks like it may be a few miles further than my above comment states, but nonetheless, the map link works.

  • I’ve got two worries about the follow up. In the first place, garrisoning these towns may still be a problem. After all, there was an Iraqi police force in Haditha for a while until it was chased out by insurgents in this most recent summer. Our guys and the Iraqis on our side have to keep playing offense or there’ll be a repeat of these towns gradually slipping back into insurgent control.

    My other big worry is that there are going to be too many Iraqi units pushed into combat before they’re ready. While there are a lot of Iraqi units that are good (the units in Fallujah come to mind), there are still a lot that are as of yet made up of unmotivated shitbirds. If you go pushing the latter into combat, there’s a real danger that you’re going to have desertions that lead you if not back to square one than at least several steps back with respect to the units employed.

    Still, if there is an Iraqi army and police force capable of garrisoning Anbar, Salah ad Din, Ninawah, and the suburbs south of Baghdad, then there’s a chance of coming out of this thing if not with a win, then at least with a non-loss (there’s too a high level of shady activity in the south by factions that seem to answer only to Tehran going on for us to be entirely pleased with the outcome that we get).

  • Alicia Taylor says:

    Any idea how long much longer operation river gate will go on? Usual operations last about 5-10 days. How about this one?

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    “Iraqi Army West of Haditha”
    The ISF is as far west as Rawah.(oct 5 MNFI press briefing slides). I would expect an increase in ISF in Ramadi before an expansion of ISF into the AlQaim area.

  • hamidreza says:

    When the U.S. military invaded in 2003, busloads of Iraqi exiles — and some Jordanians — drove into Iraq from Jordan to join the defense. As the anti-U.S. insurgency grew, Jordanian newspapers called it “al-Muqawama al-Sharifah” — the honorable resistance.
    But such phrases are vanishing from news reports, and some see disillusionment setting in, including in Salt, another Jordanian city that, like Zarqa, has sent fighters to Iraq.
    “At first the propaganda worked on a few young men here,” shopkeeper Mohamed Dabbas, 28, said over coffee at a Salt cafe. “But after the losses in Iraq, and the stories about what was going on there, they’re not so ready to die.”
    The stories of endless carnage — of innocent Iraqi civilians killed by Zarqawi’s bombers — have repelled many Arabs.
    “Saddam Hussein, bin Laden, Zarqawi and whoever thinks like them have set back the Muslim nation 2,000 years!” complained Mohamed Arabiyat, 50, a relative of one young man from Salt who died in the Iraq conflict.
    A leading regional scholar believes most young Arabs willing to die in Iraq are already there. “I don’t think the reserves of the extremist Islamist groups are very strong any more,” said Mohamed el-Sayed Said of Egypt. But others believe Sunni-Shiite bloodletting, an Iraq conflict between Islam’s rival branches, may awaken old hatreds and replenish the ranks.

  • ItalianGuy says:

    Thanks for this report and for your site.
    There is one thing that I really don’t understand. The bridges’ destruction. It was impossible to conquer them and then make these bridges a sort of attraction pole or important checkpoint? I think that with coalition firepower an heli assault could be considered. Or insurgency is so well armed to make an heli assult too risky?
    To rebuild a bridge is vary expensive and its destruction make life for civilian and reconstruction of herats and minds much harder…

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    “There is one thing that I really don’t understand. The bridges’ destruction. It was impossible to conquer them”
    The problem is that the so called terrorists run everytime someone shows up to fight them. Cutting the bridges limits the options of where they can run to a group of soldiers guarding the remaining bridges.
    Fixing the bridges will be cheaper than building an Army outpost at every bridge.

  • Jeremy's mom says:

    Thank you for keeping me up to date. There is nothing in the news, they only report on non essential things in order to downplay the war on terror. My son is in Haditha, got a call Sat and was glad to hear his voice. He said to watch the news and this is the best I’ve found.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Jeremy’s Mom,
    Bill’s site is the best there is.

  • Regarding the bridges, I read somewhere (probably Strategy Page) that they are using a type of bomb that does minimal damage to the bridge to make it impassible, but cheaper to repair. I think the bomp just puts a hole thru it so that a car can’t use it, but you have to walk across it.
    Could be wrong.

  • leaddog2 says:

    “(there’s too a high level of shady activity in the south by factions that seem to answer only to Tehran going on for us to be entirely pleased with the outcome that we get)”.
    Andrew, you are correct, BUT one country at a time, please! One at a time! We will have to do something about Iran’s mullahs, but Syria is a more immediate problem.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    The bombs they are using are filled with concrete (I discussed this briefly here at the beginning of September). You are correct, it renders the bridge impassable but does not destroy the foundation. It should be noted that the need to repair the bridges makes a VERY good incentive for the locals to turn in al Qaeda and convince the domestic inusrgents to put down their arms. hamidreza mentioned the import of the bridges for local commerce a while back, and he a correct.
    Jeremy’s mom,
    We need to thank you and your son. What I do here is easy. What our men and women are doing in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere is hard.

  • dlw says:

    Hey Bill,
    Great Site, I’ve been lurking for a long time.
    Two questions. The first is about those inert bombs. If the bridge is made impassable to cars, does that mean that it is still walkable? Isn’t that a bad thing? We don’t want the terrorists using these bridges to walk their suicide bombers across either, do we?
    Second, I’m concerned about what happens to all these “captured” terrorists. From reading Michael Yon, it seems that alot of the home grown terrorists are released after capture. Do we have an idea as to what percentage are really being held long term and what percentage are being put right back out on the street to attack our men again?
    thanks again and please, keep the information coming.

  • Janice says:

    Maybe you know the answer to this, or someone else who reads this blog. What happens to all these terrorists that are captured by coalition forces? I have read in other blogs (i.e., Major K) that they are often released. If so, are they just being “recycled” to do their dirty work another day?

  • JarheadDad says:

    Hey john k, along with LCpl Cabino we lost PFC Jason Frye, Cpl Nick Cherava, and LCpl Patrick Kenny. 2/2 Marines and in my son’s Plt. We also lost three WIA. All friends and all fine young men. Warlords Always – Marines Forever!
    MH gave you a great look at it. Karmah is 18 miles NE of Camp Fallujah.
    2/2 is working with 1-4-1 IA in that Karmah AO. And doing a bang up job too! That entire IA Bn is strong and well trained. It is one of six at that level that I know of. But you won’t hear that anywhere unless you dig deep on the internet!
    Jeremy’s Mom, I am soooo jealous! heh! We haven’t heard from Da Grunt in a month. He is an HQ Marine that went back outside the wire four weeks ago. Third deployment. They are tasked with making sure the elections can be held the same as all our military right now. Maybe after the 15th we’ll get to hear from him again. They’ll definitely be due a break for sure!

  • exhelodrvr says:

    Jarhead Dad and Jeremy’s Mom,
    Thanks so much for the service your sons are providing all of us.

  • The Colossus says:

    Choose Your Poison

    So to speak. Bill Roggio offers a comprehensive overview of military operations in Iraq; detailing the strategy being implemented and the results. Full of analysis, details, and a multimedia presentation. Or, you can go to Reuters and get the car bomb …

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Detainee Procedures – Recycling
    Some detainees are released shortly after interrogation. “Suspicion” is reason enough to be detained. Many are released after initial interrogation, just like policeman might release a suspect after initial investigation.(Running away from a crime scene could be an indication of guilt, or that you jog past that location everyday)
    The detainees are then transferred up the process, where their files are reviewed again. Similar to criminal matters all over the world, there may be a determination of insufficient evidence, and the detainee may be released.
    After a few months go by, the files are reviewed again for a determination to Prosecute, Release with Bond, Release or continued detention.
    It is a legal process, and at some point, it favors the defendent.

  • desert rat says:

    LTC Kurilla of the 4/2 in Mosul was shot last month by a “recycled” Insurgent. The Iraqi theater is treated more like a crime scene than a war zone.
    My thanks to the other fathers of deployed troops. My own young Marine returned from Iraq last Spring. He’s to short to return to Iraq and so is off to Okinowa for a second time.
    The Iraqis will be more than capable of securing Iraq for their Government. The Iranian border traffic will flow BOTH ways. Freedom’s call is louder and more powerful then the Iranian Mullah’s siren song. They have more to fear from cross border traffic than Iraqi civil society.

  • Ike says:

    CBS is taking comments and questions TODAY ONLY about their reporting on Iraq. Please guys let take the time to ask them about the things we ask about on here all the time.
    Here is the link //
    and the email to send the questions to is [email protected]
    Please let him know how we feel. This is their Iraq correspondent.

  • The Euphrates Campaign

    BILL ROGGIO has an excellent summary of recent military operations in western Iraq. The seizure and destruction of bridges across the Euphrates is a crucial part of ongoing operations. Of twelve bridges that cross the river between Qaim and Ramadi,…

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Couldn’t manage to register with CBS.
    I have a question for them.
    Why would I turn to a network that employs Mike(Yes I would let US Soldiers walk into an ambush for the story) Wallace and Yes our camera man in Mosul was actually a terrorist killing American Soldier’s for news about anything?

  • Dave From Chicago says:

    Hey guys, I just read an AP article at //
    and it seemed to suggest mostly US forces would be guarding polling places. Didn’t Iraqi forces do it last time? Does anyone have any information on the plan and what soldiers will be used? thanks!

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    I read the article to say US Forces will be protecting the ballots. In any case, it is the UN’s call.

  • Dave From Chicago says:

    Oops, yeah you’re right. I should of read it closer. So I’m guessing US soldiers will be near the polling stations but out of site and the Iraqi’s will do the searches at the polling places

  • Ike says:

    Thanks to all who are posting on the CBS thing.

  • Sgt. York says:

    Iraq Unveils Security Measures for Vote
    BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraq announced a curfew, weapons ban, border closings and other security measures Saturday to clamp down ahead of next weekend’s key constitutional referendum and prevent insurgent attacks. Sunni Arabs geared up their campaign to defeat the measure at the polls.
    Read more

  • john k says:

    Jarheaddad. We are sorry for your loss. These men are doing a great work that could change the middle east for generations to come. During the fighting, I have come to rely on Fourth Rail for truth. Our son called this AM, back in camp, first contact in 10 days. “I am fine, saw action, and what you see on the news is totally different than we see here. The people whose house was used for a sniper post served them tea on the roof. The terrorists are few and hard to find. When we do, with local intelligence, they are dead or captured. Send wipes, dried fruits, ziplock bags all sizes” In quotes, but rough paraphrase.

  • Big Lizards says:

    Dawn Breaks Over Iraq

    Dafydd and Sachi conspired on this post. Bill Roggio’s military blog, the Fourth Rail, has several detailed analyses and descriptions of the Anbar Campaign, an overarching military strategy that includes both Iron Fist and River Gate as recent operatio…


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