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.
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