Ramadi, the capitol of Anbar province, has long been the focus of a struggle between Coalition forces and the insurgency. Recently, we discussed how the Coalition is attempting to address the Ramadi problem by slowing bringing in Iraqi troops and pairing them off with U.S. units, and trying to avert a full scale operation like the one conducted in Tal Afar.
Coalition forces continue to press small scale offensives in Ramadi, which are designed to target specific neighborhoods as well as outlying areas of the city. Mountaineers in the beginning of October was one such operation, designed to disrupt activity in the south of Ramadi, and gain control over a bridge crossing the river.
The most recent operation is Panther, which is aimed at the Sufia region of Eastern Ramadi. About 150 Iraqi Army Soldiers and 300 Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team [2BCT], 28th Infantry Division are involved in Panther, which is “a continuation of operations to capitalize on three key al Qaeda in Iraq insurgents captured in Ramadi, during the month of November.”
Col. John L. Gronski, commander of the 2BCT, states; “We have recently knocked the insurgents off balance with the effective use of multiple combat systems. The (Iraqi Army) and the 2BCT Soldiers will continue to conduct aggressive offensive operations to further neutralize the insurgency and set the conditions for a secure December 15 election.” An example of the “effective use of multiple combat systems” would include the deployment of sniper teams in hot spots in an around the city. Another would be the usage of the Scan Eagle, “a ightweight unmanned aerial vehicle that provides live, high-quality video to locate and eliminate enemy fighters.”
In Western Ramadi, Iraqi Army Soldiers and Soldiers from Bravo Troop 1-104th Cavalry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team have arrested Hatim Asfur Asef, who was “part of an insurgent network in Ramadi that involved kidnapping, extortion and counterfeiting passports… [and] responsible for emplacing improvised explosive devices in and around the city.” Asef is one of the three high value targets captured in Ramadi this month.
In northern Ramadi, soldiers from the 2BCT uncovered a large weapons cache that spanned “an area several soccer fields in length… hidden among farms and a residential area” .
The December 15th parliamentary election is fast approaching, and splits between al Qaeda and the domestic elements of the insurgency in Ramadi are beginning to surface. The Coalition would do well to create a secure environment in Ramadi to facilitate a large voter turnout. This would create further rifts between the foreign terrorists and the local insurgents, and give the citizens of Ramadi a voice in the new Iraqi government.
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