Western Anbar Roundup

Military operations continue along the Euphrates River basin as Coalition forces look to consolidate their gains after Operations Iron Fist and River Strike. Several terrorists were killed and a large weapons cache was uncovered during raids on safe houses in the city of Hit.

Coalition forces struck a safe house in the town of Ushsh in the vicinity of Qaim. It is believed another al Qaeda leader, Abu Dua was killed in the attack. According to Coalition intelligence, Dua was the “emir of Rawah” who was a facilitator of foreign fighters entering from Syria and Saudi Arabia. He also was responsible for running Taliban-like courts to terrorize the local population; “Dua held religious courts to try local citizens charged with supporting the Iraqi government and coalition forces. He would kidnap individuals or entire families, accuse them, pronounce sentence and then publicly execute them.”

Three separate reports appeared about snipers in western Iraq, both about the 3rd Regiment, 6th Marine Battalion. The snipers are positioned to intercept al Qaeda and insurgents slipping across the Syrian border. Battalion commander Lt. Col. Julian reports on the nature of the enemy on the border and their tactics; “There is a good mix of both insurgents and foreign fighters… They infiltrate at night and fire at us.” Col. Stephen Davis, commander of Regimental Combat Team – 2 reports the enemy has taken heavy casualties in the region; “We kill an average of 10 a day for the last 20 days. But they keep coming and keep doing the same stupid things.” The Marines report that intelligence has increased “from residents who have gradually become convinced that the U.S. troops and their Iraqi counterparts are in town to stay.”

In Ramadi, Marine Snipers take up positions during a cordon and search operation at the Malaab Soccer Stadium in the eastern part of the city, and kill three insurgents in the process. This is the same stadium that was the focus of fighting towards the end of September. From Ramadi out to the border, the Marines are learning the lay of the land and positioning their sniper teams well.

Also noted is the increase in the presence of Iraqi Security Forces. According to the Arab News, “Checkpoints guard the road southeast from Al-Qaim toward the insurgent strongholds of Ramadi and Fallujah, and are manned by Marines, and soldiers of the First Iraqi Brigade.” Antonio Castaneda reports from the city of Haditha, where two companies of Iraqi troops are operating with the Marines to restore order and conduct patrols. Mr. Castaneda is negative about the prospects of the Iraqi troops, but he fails to understand these are currently “Level 3” troops, which units that are paired up with U.S. Forces and are not yet able to operate independently.

The Iraqi units currently west of Hit appear to be made up of inexperienced troops who are receiving on-the-job-training. The Marines and soldiers in Anbar province are compensating by maintaining pressure on al Qaeda and the insurgency, with round raids, air strikes and well placed sniper teams until the Iraqi soldiers improve their combat proficiency and more troops are moved into the region. al Qaeda and the insurgency are on the defensive already, and will be further on their heels once the Iraqi troops gets up to snuff.

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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  • Rookie says:

    “We kill an average of 10 a day for the last 20 days. But they keep coming and keep doing the same stupid things.”

  • Moose says:

    It is disturbing that Ramadi and especially Fallujah are still considered insurgent strongholds according to the Arab News. I thaught we had driven the insurgents out of Fallujah. Bill, what is the real picture.

  • ike says:

    Tens of thousands of Iranians stage anti-Israeli protests few days after president calls for the countries destruction. //news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051028/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iran_israel
    THIS is why this country cannot have nukes and why responsible people have been attempting to prevent them from doing so.

  • Matthew says:

    Safe house, what safe house? I propose that any safe house that was raided by coalition forces be called unsafe houses if any press comes forward describing such raids after the fact.

  • liberalhawk says:

    “from residents who have gradually become convinced that the U.S. troops and their Iraqi counterparts are in town to stay.”

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    “Insurgent strongholds”
    There really aren’t any “insurgent stongholds” left in Iraq. There are neighborhoods, where there is sufficient passive resistance(see no evil, hear no evil) where insurgents can operate without substantial fear of being reported to the Security forces.
    If one thinks in terms of neighborhoods in the US where drug dealers operate somewhat openly and replace the drug dealers with armed terrorist, that is probably a fairly accurate picture of Ramadi and Samarra.

  • desert rat says:

    Unless those additional US troopps spoke fluent Arabic, they would not have had a positive impact. Success was ALWAYS dependent upon the Iraqis, their Government and Military.
    The tactics that would have been required to “pacify” the Insurgency by force of arms, with more US boots on the ground, would not have passed the MSM and Public Opinion smell tests. Imagine Jenin writ large. No obvious military solution but destruction of the Insurgent infrastructure, Sunni cities razed, communities devasted. We chose a more progressive path.

  • blert says:

    Strength versus endurance.
    To seize and hold ground.
    American troops have unequaled proficiency and strength at arms. They can seize any ground. However, they cannot hold it – Iraq: that’s policy.
    Strategically, American forces are a stopgap. We will certainly be leaving. Our manner of leaving is the question.
    For Iraqis ‘what must come after’ is the worry.
    The Iraqi Army has perpetual endurance. It can’t leave; that is its essence.
    And so, it’s makes all the difference now.
    “from residents who have gradually become convinced that the U.S. troops and their Iraqi counterparts are in town to stay.”

  • ike says:

    Allawi’s party sounds like it should do well. This should be a good thing.

  • cjr says:

    #8 bert
    “They can seize any ground. However, they cannot hold it – Iraq: that’s policy.”
    Hum. Cant hold ground? How exactly does this jib with the fact that US kept >300,000 troop in West Germany during the 45 years of the Cold War. Or the 30-50,000 US troops that have been in S Korea for the last 55 years?
    It think the issue is a little more complex.
    The question isnt whether US can hold ground or not. US can if it wants to. The quesition is: is it the correct miltary or political strategy to hold some particular ground in the first place.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    October 30th will be the Ramadan “Night of Power”, technically one of the odd numbered days in the last 10 days of the month of Ramadan, usually the 27th day. (The muslim calender is a lunar calender rather than solar, the days aren’t the same)
    In Muslim religion, being Martyred in the Month of Ramadan gets extra bonus points, being martyred on the “Night of Power”….gets even more bonus points.
    Ramadan ends on November 3rd this year, and ended on November 13th last year. It is an especially dangerous time. For those hoping to see a drop off in attacks/casualties post referendum, if a drop off were to occur, it would not occur until after the “Night of Power”.

  • Grinder says:

    If you haven’t read Bing West’s book “No True Glory”, I highly recommend it. You’ll get a good idea of some of the politics that is influencing the military activity.

  • desert rat says:

    blert is right on target, it’s POLICY not for US to hold the ground, not capacity. That is what he said, you agreed.
    Your sking if it was the correct policy, that question is one of conjecture. Guesses of what could have been, compared to what is at hand. Each of US have, in their minds, POLICIES that would have made our Iraqi experience “better”. Where we are, now, is not such a bad spot, perhaps we could have gotten here sooner, but we are here, just 40 plus days to an Iraqi Government 1st General Election and an Army to defend it, none the less.

  • Tom W. says:

    The thing to keep in mind is that Saddam himself was unable to hold most of the towns in western Anbar. The residents have a long tradition of lawlessness and smuggling, and they’re loyal only to their clans and tribes.
    The fact that they’re now cooperating and giving us good intelligence is astonishing. Remember: Saddam couldn’t subjugate these people by force of arms, so we took a different approach and it appears to be working. Flooding the area with hundreds of thousands of Coalition soldiers would’ve been a disaster.
    We should all marvel at the skill and professionalism of our troops. We’ve never done anything like this, yet look what we’re accomplishing.

  • Jamison1 says:

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2005 – Considerable progress has been made in bolstering security across north-central Iraq as increased numbers of trained Iraqi forces are taking the fight to insurgents, a senior U.S. military officer told Pentagon reporters here today. “One thing we are certain of: progress in every line of operation has been realized,” Army Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Taluto, who commands Multinational Division North-Central, Task Force Liberty and the 42nd Infantry Division, said from Baghdad during a video-teleconference.
    Taluto said his New York State Guard unit, nicknamed the “Rainbow Division,” is getting ready to redeploy back to the states after conducting anti-insurgent security and Iraqi army training missions for the past 18 months. The 42nd Division’s headquarters in Iraq is in Tikrit, and its area of operations covers the country’s north-central region, which also includes the cities of Samarra, Balad, and Kirkuk. “The role of the ‘Rainbow Division’ task force in Iraq has been to protect the democratic process while building up the capabilities and sustainability of our Iraqi partners,” Taluto said.
    He said substantial progress has been made in organizing, training and equipping Iraqi security forces within his area. For example, the general said, in February just one Iraq army division headquarters and four brigades and 14 battalions were operational in the region. Today, he said, two Iraqi Army division headquarters, five brigades and 18 battalions are operating in the north-central region.

  • Dave From Chicago says:

    Wow, it sure looks like progress in Iraq in being made! I’m getting sick of this libby thing. The DEMS are trying to use this as a tactic to pull the troops out of Iraq. Stay strong Bush!!!!!!!

  • Jamison1 says:

    Have you all seen this?
    CPL. Jeffrey B. Starr: What the NYT Left Out

  • John says:

    #17, Yeah, I think this is pretty close to a treasonable offense,but I guess rules don’t apply to the MSM.

  • EddieP says:

    The argument for more US troops does not hold water. The buildup of Iraqi forces and installing them as the holders is the obvious answer. More US troops, more targets, more logistics problems, more expense and less pressure on Iraq to hold up their end.
    We will come home when Iraqis are blooded and ready to assume 100% operational control. Hiding them behind US troops doesn’t achieve that. Regards


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