Operation Steel Curtain in Husaybah

The battle on the Syrian Border has a new twist. While prior operations in Qaim, Husaybah, Sadah and other towns on the western run of the Euphrates River have been comprised of U.S. Marines, the latest operation, Steel Curtain, is made up of a joint force of 2,500 Marines, Sailors and Soldiers with Regimental Combat Team-2, 1,000 Iraqi Army soldiers from the 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, and scouts from the newly created Desert Protection Force. This is the largest operation in Anbar province since Dawn in Fallujah in November of 2004.

Steel Curtain is directed at the town of Husaybah, and the objectives are to “restore security along the Iraqi-Syrian border and destroy the Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist network” on the Syrian border. Steel Curtain is a subordinate operation to Hunter, whose objective is to bolster the U.S. and Iraqi presence in the western Anbar region from Qaim to Haditha and deny al Qaeda in Iraq the ability to establish safe havens in the region. Operation Hunter likely began with Operation Sword in the city of Hit, which was followed by the establishment of a forward operating base in Rawah; Quick Strike, a search & destroy mission in Haditha, a series of raids and airstrikes against al Qaeda and insurgent forces along the length of the Euphrates River Valley, then the clear and hold operations of Iron Fist in Sa’dah and River Gate in Haditha, Haqliniya and Barwana.

The press release details the growth of the Iraqi Army in Anbar over the course of the past six months:

Since early summer, the combat capabilities of the Iraqi forces have grown in Al Anbar province.  Iraqi Security Forces now include almost two full infantry divisions of Iraqi Army soldiers.  During the past six months, two division headquarters have formed in the province, four brigade headquarters and ten infantry battalions have deployed to the Al Anbar to join the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq led insurgency.  Operation Steel Curtain marks the first large-scale employment of multiple battalion-sized units of Iraqi Army forces in combined operations with Coalition Forces in the last year.

In a recent interview, Maj.Gen. Richard A. Huck, the commanding general of the 2d Marine Division discussed Operation Hunter and the importance of involving the Iraqi Security forces in the fight.

“The Marines and Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Marine Division understand that we won’t be the ones who win this counter-insurgency, it will be the Iraqi soldiers… We do this by partnering our battalions with Iraqi battalions. This is the way we’re going to win. By partnering with Iraqi Security Forces we are gaining a lot of insights previously denied to us… We could walk down the same street ten times and not notice anything out of place, but an Iraqi soldier will notice something his first time on the street. It is not uncommon for them to stop a patrol and say ‘those men over there have Syrian accents’ or ‘that graffiti is anti-government propaganda’. Having the ISF out with us is truly a force multiplier.”

Two battalions of Iraqi Army, along with the local scouts of the Desert Protection Force and two plus battalions of Marines are now operating right on the Syrian Border. al Qaeda’s leadership and networks have been experiencing frightening attrition rates in the region without a strong presence in the area. Now, al Qaeda’s ability to run its networks across the Syrian border in the Qaim region has just gotten a whole lot tougher.

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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  • Tom W. says:

    This is so encouraging. I no longer watch TV news–not even Fox–and I canceled my subscription to the L. A. Times in 2001, when they started the “quagmire” nonsense during the third week of Operation Enduring Freedom. I can only hope that by the time we have to fight the next war, most of the seditious MSM outlets will have died and rotted into dust.

  • blert says:

    Bringing the Iraqi brigade into the fight is like jeep carriers joining the Atlantic convoys in WWII. It’s a back breaker.
    We are witnessing the beginning of the end for AQIZ.
    Their losses are just like the U-boats: unbearable.

  • DaveK says:

    It would be interesting to relate the losses on the insurgent side to what that would relate to in terms of a good-sized army… say 150,000 strong. What percentage of the comparable command, control, and logistics functions are being eliminated or badly damaged? What would it mean in terms of the rank structure (Generals to basic enlisted ranks)?
    And another thought… It sounds like the war on the Western front is likely to get turned over to mostly Iraqi forces in the relatively near future. Will we see a shift to action on the Eastern front as well? We don’t hear much yet about battles in the East, but with the continuing support coming from Iran, that seems the obvious next step.

  • vuc says:

    The number of attacks has now increased to an average of over 100 per day (according to Time Magazine Pentagon sources). That is double what it was in the first few months of the year and up 30% from before the election. The constitutional referendum and the masses of Sunnis that were upset by it seems to have increased the size of the insurgency.
    The MSM is not the one misrepresenting the situation in Iraq at all. It is the government that is.
    Tom W: You can’t find one media outlet that is saying what you want to hear. You want to know the reason? The reason is that what you want to hear is NOT HAPPENING and that is why it isn’t being reported.

  • vuc says:

    There is also a Shiite insurgency going on in the province of Maysan in the South against the British and this is not being reported in the MSM.

  • hamidreza says:

    On the contrary, things are letting up. Consumer confidence is up in Iraq. Shops are reporting 30% sales increase.

  • hamidreza says:

    Iraqi and US casualties for the month of October:
    Number of Iraqi civilian deaths has DROPPED 20% compared to September, mainly due to reduction in the quantity of Islamist suicide murderer attacks.
    Number of Iraqi army and policemen deaths also DECLINED by about 10 – 20% compared to previous months.
    US hostile deaths were essentially flat, even though the number of operations in insurgent infested areas were a record. 75% of the casualty was due to IEDs, up from 50% from previous months. Therefore the number of deaths due to hostile fire has DECLINED considerably.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Let’s say vuc is right, just for the sake of argument. Perhaps he is. Although I tend to ignore unnamed sources these days….
    We have been conducting persistent combat operations for well over two months. Does vuc not expect the enemy to react? The “doubling of attacks” has been so successful Iraqi troops are now fighting in large formations right on the Syrian border, where even Saddam never ventured.
    If you want to use the number of attacks as soome type of baseline for success or failure, put the number into context. Or at least try.

  • desert rat says:

    By never announcing it’s own matrix for Victory the Administration let others set the Goals.
    Is Victory to be defined by the quantitiy of attacks, their lethality or ?.
    Of course Iraqis can patrol Iraq’s streets better then the US troops can. That is so obvious, if the Police do not speak the language of the policed, either anarchy or despotism is the result. Since the US is not despotic, we’ve had anarchy, in Iraq. By utilizing Iraqi Nationals instead of US troops there is a path to US withdrawl. Hand the country over to the Iraqis ASAP after the December vote.
    That is where Victory resides.

  • Tomo says:

    “Vuc” is probably quoting from here. It is actually an excellent article on three points:

    It explains precisely the MSM problem: foreign reporters cowering in their hotel rooms turn over actual collection of the news to Iraqi stringers who base their reporting on the desire not to be murdered by insurgents: ergo, the insurgency controls half the mainstream press.

    It also points out the newest shift in the war: a retreat back to simple terrorism. The goal becomes, like the Irish Troubles, to maintain just enough violence to propogate the Oppressed Meme.

    It points out the Ba’athist myth that Saddam controled all of Iraq — it always was a cauldron and it may continue that way for another score of years, so if anyone thought we would see another Kuwait come out of our efforts the answer may be: Sicily is not Ticino and never will be.

  • desert rat says:

    If Iraq is the main front in the War on Terror, then we’ve won. Reading the Authorization for Use of Force is clear in it’s reasoning. Both for the invasion and occuppation. If we need to stay much longer, after the establishment of a democratic Iraqi Government, we will need a new Comgressional debate, as the Goals outlined in the Use of Force will soon be completed. Mission Accomplished, finally. Or the War Powers Act may finally be tested, in Court.
    As an American that believes we live in a Nation of Laws, rather than of Men, I welcome that debate. We should not fear it, but embrace the opportunity it provides our Leadership to make it’s case.

  • phil says:

    “The Marines and Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Marine Division…”
    Does anybody know which Army units are attached to the Marines?

  • snowflake says:

    There are too many to list. 155 BCT, 2/28 BCT, 2 BCT, 3/504 PIR, 4/14 CAV are some that I can think of right off the top of my head.
    There are many good things happening in Anbar right now. Judging by your regular commentary, you don’t know your butt from a hole in the ground. Sit back, shut up, and wait until Roggio gets out here. Then open your eyes and read.

  • Nicholas says:

    Desert Rat,
    I don’t think Iraq could be said to be the “main front” in the WOT. I would call it, perhaps, a keystone. A victory there should remove a lot of terrorist support, generate a lot of good will and provide a model for many others. I don’t for a minute think that it alone will end the elevated level of terrorism we’ve been seeing for a while now.
    I think if Iraq descents into chaos it will be a major step backwards in the WOT but if it comes out in good shape (which will probably take a while) then that paves the way for the next stages which will be necessary in the WOT.
    Even with Iraq in good shape there will still be lots of problems – Iran, North Korea, Syria, possibly still problems in Israel, and plenty of disaffected populations in other countries like the Phillipines, Thailand and perhaps even France and Norway.
    A stable and free Iraq will put everyone in a good position to deal with the next set of threats but I don’t think it will be a silver bullet.
    Then again I’m no expert. I’d like to defer this to someone who is. I just thought I’d point this out.

  • desert rat says:

    Well, President Bush has, I believe, called Iraq the “Main Front” in the War on Terror.
    If anyone can find a Congressional Authorization for a multi national, cross border, “War on Terror”, please provide a link. I do not believe there is one. I have been wrong before, of course, but do not think, however, I am wrong now.
    Offical US Policy is that there is no “Clash of Civilizatons”, no War on Islam, or Conflict with Syria or Iran, even while they provide sanctuary to anti US, British and Iraqi Forces operating in Iraq.
    It would seem to me, by Law, that the AfUoFiI is all the Congressional Authority there is. That will run out soon, obsolessed by success, as it were.
    While I wholeheartedly agree, Nicholas, that there are many other “Hot” spots across the Globe, some you mentioned, some you did not, they are not, as yet, on an active target list.
    There will have to be debate in Congress and further Authorizations provided, or the President has just a 90 day window in which to complete any Military action required, as per my understanding or the War Powers Act. Whether the WPA is Constitutional is a matter that has often been debated, but never decided.

  • Operation Steel Curtain

    With a permament presence established in the western Euphrates river towns in Iraq near the Syrian border, and having conducted a vigorous series of operations aimed at exterminating the facilitators that bring in foreign fighters from Syria, Coaliti…

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    The number of attacks last week, according to Maj Gen Lynch was 569, 81 per day. The Battle of Fallujah occurred during Ramadan last year.
    This year there was a constitutional referendum and what was billed as AlQueda’s Great Ramadan Offensive.
    I have no doubt that attacks peaked at more than 100 per day during the Great Ramadan Offensive.
    In the Tet Offensive, 1500 US Soldiers were KIA with more than 7,000 wounded, along with 2700 South Vietnamese Troops KIA at a cost to Ho Chi Minh of 45,000 KIA.
    Zarqawi doesn’t have 45,000 insurgents to sacrifice in a Great Offensive. He has now taken his best shot, and the Marines,Army and ISF are hunting him and his fighters down like the rabid dogs that they are.

  • Juan says:

    In war, bluster, belligerence, and bold action will often win over meticulous planning and superior intelligence. In the short term, but not in the long term. Paris is under siege from muslim thugs who aspire to the conquest of Europe. How do the leftist twits excuse this? Insurgency in a foreign country? It looks like September 11 was premature ejaculation. Stupid deluded thugs. Muslims are just another version of third world corruption.

  • ikez78 says:

    A question I was wondering about…If Zarqawi is caught by Iraqi forces what is done with him? They try him? We take him? What are the odds that this guy is killed or caught before we leave? Will we leave if he is still on the loose?

  • ikez78 says:

    Security Watchtower has a great map and pictures of the Syrian border with identifications of outposts.

  • What? says:

    My metric for measuring the strength of the insurgency is the number of Coalition forces, specifically US forces, wounded in action. This is being tracked at icasualties.org.
    I don’t care if there are 100 hostile contacts a day if there are zero casualties as a result and that type of rate does happen from time to time where all of numerous insurgent attacks come to so much as nothing.
    So far as of October’s end 2005 , US WIA numbers are down over a thousand soldiers from the same time in 2004 and stand a decent chance of being down 2000 by years end.
    The insurgency is being diluted and attrited by having to attack more than just the US forces and this trend promises to continue. Personally I am expecting a major collapse in the insurgencies effectiveness among all metrics at any time because they really are being beaten like a drum at this point. They have been holding out surprizingly well despite being driven backward constantly.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Zarqawi is wanted in dozens of countries around the globe including Somolia for sending agents to kill their PM. In fact he is sentanced to death in a number of countries including Jordan.
    If it were up to me I would take him to the US to get intel out of him and then put him on trial in the US and have him put to death. Putting him on trial in Iraq or any other ME country would attract too many crazies would would want to do something stupid like drive truck bombs into the trial or fly a plane into the trial. I feel the same way if Osama is found.

  • Justin Capone says:

    My real problem with the current situation is that I think the enemy can keep placing IEDs until the cows come home. And, that it will take years until that can be shut down to a great degree. Thus, they can kill US troops in large numbers as long as there is an enemy that exists and we patrol the roads of Iraq.

  • desert rat says:

    Justin C
    The US has no International nor National mandate to secure every road nor capture every terrorist in Iraq, forever. The Congress Authorized Force to take down Saddam, ensure UN Resolutions were complied with and to support the emergence of a democratic government in Iraq.
    All accomplished. Iraq is not the 51st State, they can handle their own criminals, themselves.
    Unless, of course, you favor deployment of US troops to London, Paris, Madrid, Gaza, Beirut, Damascus, Tehran, Boston and New York in an attempt to stop Mohammedan violence, everywhere. But even desiring that, Congress has to agree, again.

  • Enigma says:

    You can’t find one media outlet that is saying what you want to hear. You want to know the reason? The reason is that what you want to hear is NOT HAPPENING and that is why it isn’t being reported.
    I want to hear about:
    -Reconstruction projects being completed, the new schools and hospitals being built.
    -US troops handing out candy and toys to smiling Iraqi children.
    -Increasing participation by the ISF in the security of their country.
    -That things are better for the Iraqis since Saddam’s overthrow.
    -Coalition victories over the terrorists.
    -How Iraqi police and troops stand and fight back when attacked, instead of running away as in the past.
    -Progress Iraq is making towards democratic self-governemens.
    -The high morale of our troops, who believe in the cause for which they fight.
    -Freedom defeating tyranny, and hope overcoming fear, the promise of a bright future for the Iraqi people, a future that was not possible under the rule of Saddam.
    I hear nothing of these things in the media, and I know the media would not supress the truth to support any kind of agenda, so it is clear that these things really are NOT HAPPENING.

  • Justin Capone says:

    desert rat,
    That is exactly what I am trying to say. People keep asking why the US death count never goes down. And, I am explaining that we can’t beat the IED threat in Iraq and we need to find a way to stop patrolling Iraqis streets as soon as possible.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Every time I explain to people that we aren’t going to beat the IED threat they tell me that we shouldn’t have to.
    Which is exactly what I am trying to say. We can’t beat the IEDs so we need to find a way around them. And, that way is to get our boys off the roads of Iraq any way possible. Even if it means US troops have to walk that would be far safer then what we are currently doing.

  • Super 6 says:

    Haven’t you guys learned to speed scroll past VUC’s posts? It is obvious that he dines daily on the left’s talking points and pukes them here. Has he posted one, just one positive post? Hey VUC the posts here look for encouraging signs in our operations but are not blindly following dogma. Wake up, pessimists don’t accopmlish anything worthwhile. Can you not find anything encouraging about these operations?

  • MG says:

    Hey, all,
    Don’t beat up VUC too much. I have encountered all too many people who want to understand the world around them, but are too fearful to engage in real conversation with people they perceive to be different from them.
    Commonly, their communication method starts with an over the top polemic, and then they await responses.
    I am NOT claiming that VUC communicates in such an adolescent manner. He may very well be an amoral troll who seeks attention. Either way, his commentary has no practical effect.

  • Christina DeLucia says:

    VUC~ You must be a damn moron! I am the proud wife of a US Marine Sgt who is fighting right now in Operation Steel Curtain! He left our 5 week old and our 2 year old to go there bc he felt that it was the right thing to do!! And I know for a fact that the media does not represent things correctly. He is over there putting his life on the line for a cause that he truly believes in! Most of the Iraqi’s he has met are very happy that we are there and are proud that they are becoming a free country. The media does not and has not told the whole story and for you to sit at your computer and think you really know what is going on is nuts. You have no f-ing clue.
    Proud Marine wife for 4yrs now!!!


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