The Anbar Campaign – A Flash Presentation

By Steve Schippert, Marvin Hutchens and Bill Roggio

The Coalition must execute political, economic and military solutions to defeat the insurgency and establish a democratic nation in Iraq. The creation of democratic institutions, promotion of elections, inclusion of minority parties in the political process, co-opting the non-radical domestic elements of the insurgency, and the establishment of Iraqi Security Forces to shoulder the burden of the fight against the insurgency are part of the political realm. The restoration of public utilities and services, relief of foreign debt, rebuilding the oil infrastructure, establishment of a strong currency and other related activities lie in the economic spectrum.

But political and economic progress cannot progress in an uncertain security environment. The popular perception that the Coalition does not have a coherent military strategy to assist with defeating the insurgency is untrue. The plan is clear: interdict al Qaeda and the insurgency along their lines of supply: the ratlines along the Tigris and Euphrates River; strike at targets of opportunity when they appear (search and destroy missions); push al Qaeda and the insurgency’s bases of operations further west towards the Syrian border and occupy the cities and towns along the river with Coalition forces, while handing over responsibility to Iraqi Security Forces when they are prepared to handle the mission.

This is the Anbar Campaign.

The following presentation should help visualize the operations over the past year, and demonstrate the Coalition’s push westward. The cities and towns along the Euphrates will change from “red” (hot spots where search and destroy operations are taking place) to “blue” (locations where clear and hold operations were executed, and the Coalition left behind a force strong enough to hold the region). The involvement of the Iraqi Security Forces increases over time and are crucial to success.

We are now in Phase 2 of the Anbar Campaign, where Coalition forces are executing clear and hold operations to secure cities and towns and are beginning to surge Iraqi troops further west. It should be noted the cities and towns changed to “blue” do not necessarily have a 100% acceptable security situation, as the Iraqi Army is still being moved in and local police forces are still being established. Ramadi is a good example of this. Coalition forces maintain a presence in Ramadi and control the levels of local government, and a small local police force does exist, but the insurgency is still fighting to eject the Coalition from the city. The infusion of Iraqi Army and Police Commandos, and the bolstering of the local police force will help advance the security situation.


The Anbar Campaign

November 2004 thru October 2005

Version 1.0

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Also See:

Jason at CounterColumn looks at how the insurgents will be affected at the tactical and stategic level due to the pressure being aplied by the Anbar Campaign.

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


  • ex-democrat says:

    outstanding presentation; thankyou.

  • Justin Capone says:

    We Are Fighting For An Islamic State, Says Al-Qaeda in Iraq
    Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the terror group led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has released a new statement in which it explains the reasons for its terror campaign and states that they are not fighting the US occupation of Iraq, but to create “an Islamic state which is part of the caliphate and the Muslim territory.”
    The message from the terror group appeared on the Internet on Tuesday, just a few days ahead of a visit to Baghdad by the secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa. “The secretary of the Arab League has been tasked with going to Iraq to convince the Sunnis to enter the political game so as to stop the Jihad [holy war] in the Sunni areas. With the excuse of national interest, they are trying to save the Americans,” the statement says.
    The terror group then goes on to reveal its real objectives, saying: “We are not fighting to chase out the occupier or to save national unity and keep the borders outlined by the infidels intact,” the statement continues. “We are fighting because it is a religious duty to do it, just as it is a duty to take the Sharia [Islamic law] to the government and create an Islamic state.”
    In the last few weeks the Islamic forums on the Internet have regularly broadcast images relating to the possible creation of al-Qaeda’s hypothetical Islamic state, which could take shape within Iraq’s rebel al-Anbar province.
    One thing I got to say about Z-man is that he is pretty upfront about his intentions. This reminds me when a BBC reporter said that Zarqawi’s goal was to force an end to the ‘occupation’.
    Here is my favorate Z-man quote.
    “We will either we achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life.”

  • PeterArgus says:

    Thanks Bill. I dunno it looks like a strategy to me.
    Interesting how Al Qaeda in Iraq’s objective of an Islamic caliphate in Iraq is entirely consistent with the message in Zawahiri’s letter, which AQ in Iraq disavowed as a fake.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Nebraskans’ trust in Iraqis fades quickly
    RAMADI, Iraq – With each passing day, distrust of the Iraqi people grows among Nebraska soldiers who patrol the streets of this city known as a stronghold for insurgents.
    Iraqi men displayed a less than welcoming attitude toward members of the Nebraska National Guard’s 167th Cavalry last week as the soldiers checked cars and people for contraband in Ramadi, Iraq.
    “I don’t trust anybody,” said Sgt. Lucas Smith of Lincoln, who has endured enough brushes with roadside bombs that the medics know him by his first name. “They don’t know how to help themselves.”
    “The IED is a mind game,” Hestermann said of the soldiers’ fears of the booby-trap bombs. “Snipers work the same way with the insurgents.”
    “The Sunni Triangle is hard to understand – how all the IEDs can be placed by the side of the road and no one sees a thing,” McConnell said.
    Giving the Fallujah treatment to Ramadi can’t come too soon.

  • legion says:

    Western Iraq is the world equivalent of an inner city slum. The residents are not the sharpest knives in the drawer, and criminals predominate. No wonder any authority figures who show up are treated with suspicion and mistrust. You see the same thing in the hood. Lowlife individuals do not like having their activities scrutinized by anyone in a position to clamp down.

  • Chester says:

    Fantastic job, guys! Music: Oustanding. Imagery: Outstanding. Red blips turning blue: Outstanding!
    Here’s to more blue blips!

  • GJ says:

    What I’ve been wondering is How Many of these insurgent terrorists are the same ones that Sadam released from prisons before the war. I wouldn’t know if those in prison were political type prisoners or actually thugs. Are we then also fighting a criminal element left over from the prisons. If that being the case surely there’s nothing we could’ve done to prevent it.

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  • GK says:

    Outstanding presentation. I actually know much more than I used to, because of this.
    So why can’t places like the Washington Times, Fox News, etc. present this on their websites and (in the case of Fox), on TV?
    This should be seen by tens of millions of Americans. It must.

  • Mike Rentner says:

    Excellent presentation.
    But I’m surprised that you left out Operations Outerbanks I and II. 3d Battalion, 25th Marines did cordon and knocks/searches on just about all the cities in the Hit-Hadithah corridor, specifically Hadithah, Haqlaniyah, Barwanah, Bagdadi, (but NOT Hit), and Kubaysa. Kubaysa is about 15 miles or so west of Hit.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Thanks, everyone.
    Hi Mike,
    I didn’t have that one listed. What are the dates? I used the operations I covered at this site, then cross referenced with Global Security’s tally (here:
    Outerbanks I and II were not listed at Global Security nor covered by me, hence the miss. I realize not every single operation is represented here, but I feel this is an accurate representation of the major operations in the region.

  • Marine Uncle says:

    Thanks for your continued presentations. Surely anyone viewing this site over a period of time should gain a good overall picture as to what goes down in Iraq. Ar Ramadi may end up being the final battle that breaks the insurgencies back. As we all understand it is the main stronghold left to them. A rather large city by Iraq standards, with heaven only knows how many safe house below ground, and within buildings. And with such a large part of the population having previous ties with the Butcher, e.g. ex Army/government surely they are not going to just quit. Perhaps the US/Iraqi G3/G4 are planning a major assualt in the months to come. How else are they going to be rooted out then by brute force, forcing them to flee the city, and hopefull then get tagged. There could be over 50,000 active Baathist insurgent types alone in Ar Ramada. And surely they have the blessings of the local government and sheiks, and population at large. If the long range plan is to allow for increased effecient Iraq Army, commandos, and police to root them out by ten or twenty at a time, this method could take literally years. And if the goal is to house a few Iraqi BN’s in and around Ar Ramada, again, how many years would it take to weed them all out, assuming they simply refuse to joined the political process and want to continue a low level insurgency. So it would appear that perhaps the only solution is a fallujah level battle to literally destroy them, and bring the city under total control. That’s my thoughts on Ar Ramada. If our Army and Marines had did this as a follow up on Fallujah way back when perhaps the internal insurgency may really have collapsed at this point, with the understanding all the riverin ops would have proceeded as they did, and will continue as required.

  • cjr says:

    Nice presentation.
    The following is my opiniion:
    I dont think we can charaterized Ramadi as Blue(cleared and held) yet. There are too few Iraqi units for such a large city(just 2 battalions). The 7th division still needs more experience and then there needs to be a a “Fallujia/Tel Afar” type operation.
    I also dont think Op Saratoga was a Clear and Hold”. Given the very high level of attacks in Saladhdin province, I think we are still in the “Search and Destroy” mode there.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I was clear about this in the text of the post:
    “It should be noted the cities and towns changed to “blue”

  • ctc says:

    re #s 2 and 3.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if this were psyops. IIR they recently got the webmaster for one of their sites and may have turned him. If it is then well done. If not then i think the zman might be thinking the end is near.

  • cjr says:

    I think we just have an honest difference in opinion. To me, Ramadi doesnt have much of a coalition presents within the city, the local govenment is fairly powerless, the small local police force is insignificant and that there is still a lot of work to do to change this situation. Again, this is my personal opinion. I respect your opinion and I am happy to agree to disagree.
    The rest of you presentation, I agree with.

  • Robert M says:

    I have asked about whether or not Iraqi units are integrated by religious and ethnicity. In my haste to post this and deal w/ some personnal issus I cannot find the commenter whom said this is not a real issue because of Iraqi intermarriage and no one has good statics on it because of a lack of a census which is where I would like to put this link. Here is Christopher Hitchens commenting on the issue:

  • Forrest Reynolds says:

    Great presentation guys music and all! If only the MSM would broadcast this many people would gain a much better understanding of the overall strategy and success we have been having in the Anbar Campaign. People might then begin reevaluating their perception of the “war is a quagmire” that is taken for fact these days.
    FOX needs to get this to air and the rest will most likely follow.
    Keep up the great work!

  • Mike Rentner says:

    Bill, I guess it didn’t make it into the news. Must not have been important to whoever decides that. Outerbanks followed River Bridge and River Blitz. I always forget which came first, the R Bridge or R Blitz, both were done with 1/23 and 3/25 during our Relief in Place. Once 1/23 left we continued on without hardly a pause and launched Outerbanks and then Outerbanks II.
    All the cities listed were visited, including Dulab, Kubaysa, and several even smaller ones. We raided train stations, the local refinery, and other key sites.
    These all took place in late march and early april.

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  • Mixed Humor says:

    Steve, Marvin and Bill…excellent presentation once again, perhaps the best one yet. Why this isn’t on CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC, or CBS is a mystery (well not really). Keep up the outstanding work.

  • Enigma says:

    Awesome presentation! Very appropriate music.

  • Delta Dave says:

    Not much to be found on Operations OuterBanks but this URL

  • Delta Dave says:

    This is about the only other reference to Opn Outerbanks that is easily found

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Differences of opinions are fine, I have a feeling ours are not too far off. Ramadi is certainly no “Islamic Republic” in Zarqawi’s empire, where terrorists and insurgents roam free without threat of retaliation. Right now it’s a battleground where the Coalition has the upper hand, but also has a lot of work to do before the security situation improves. U.S. and IRaqi troops are in the city conducting patrols, but the police need more support and the IA needs to move in in greater numbers.

  • Shawn says:

    Excellent presentation!
    Due to these informal briefings on operations in Iraq, I feel I could now sum up for anyone the basic strategy coalition forces have employed and the primary cities involved.

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  • hamidreza says:

    Kenneth – yes. There is no chance of Iran invasion IMO. Iranians are in many ways the most nationalistic of all people in that area. Bombing, even precision bombing nuclear sites will arouse nationalistic passions through the roof and deliver the population, who have gradually moved away from the ruling mollas, back into their bosom. Nuclear development has been the ruling molla’s sneaky attempt to capitalize on this pseudo-nationalism to assure regime longevity.
    On the other hand, it may be possible to exploit this sense of misplaced nationalism towards regime change. One such possibility is to assist Kurdish (and Azari and Baluchi) self-determination aspirations and assist them materially and logistically. Once the Islamic Republic hardliners mobilize their forces against the Kurds, the US may declare that area protected with a no-fly zone, and dispatch special forces to target IRGC troops with the help of the Iranian Kurds.
    This action which is de facto autonomy of Iranian Kurdestan – may arouse anti-molla passions in Tehran in excess of anti-US passions and cause the destabilization of the Islamic regime. In the least it should cause other minorities who perceive US protection to rise up and make federalism or separatism an issue. This can lead to the necessary destabilization for regime change.
    But before US can make all of this happen, the US should develop a compact with Iranian opposition groups as to the post-molla constitutional process. I am pretty certain that the foremost reason why Iranians are not revolting at this time is because there is no consensus post regime overthrow, and Iranians, ever weary of future chaos a la Iraq, rather keep the devils they know than inherit devils that they don’t know. That is why the constitutional process should be nailed down in stone NOW and not during the chaos of regime overthrow.
    There was a report by Michael Ware, a reporter “embedded”

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  • goesh says:

    I just wanted to comment briefly on the post about Nebraska Nat. Guards and trusting. Since we at home don’t automatically trust everyone, that common sense only magnifies with indigenous people on their turf. Trust has to be earned and demonstrated but the jihadis as we know don’t play by the rules. Average Iraqis who just want some peace and quiet and some work and with no bone to pick with anyone are intimidated by the jihadis. They know jihadi retribution is swift and brutal and jihadis set examples early on. No Iraqi family man is going to want his family to be destitute by getting himself killed over informing on the presence and actions of jihadis in his neighborhood. That just won’t happen and you can’t blame them for being afraid and silent.

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    MNF article on Suicide Bomb Cell capture.
    IMHO, One of the best written and informative press releases I have seen in a while.

  • Cacciaguida says:

    Amazing! How did you know that PATTON is my favorite war movie, its score is my favorite military march, and that my son the Marine Lance Corporal knows all that too? Can’t wait till he clicks on this too.
    Thanks again!

  • Kenneth says:

    Thanks for the view on Iran. Yes, I’m a regular reader & poster at Chester’s place.
    I read of another possible US strategy against Iran at the Strategy Page. They too argued against a direct invasion for the reasons you cited. Instead they put forward the idea of the US, possibly together with UAE forces, occupying some disputed islands in the Straits of Hormuz. These islands once belonged to UAE but Iran occupied them. The mullahs would be forced to fight the US there, and they would loose. At the same time, this move would enable the US to protect the Gulf oil supply to the world. This challenge would cause a loss of respect (ie. fear) for the regime, & the Iranian opposition would rise up and topple the mullahs. This assumes of course, that the opposition is unified & strong enough to do so.

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    Charlie Foxtrot

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Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram