The Heat in Hit

Coalition forces disrupt al Qaeda plot to disrupt communications and assassinate tribals

The city of Hit has been a Coalition success story, and for this reason also a focus of counterattack for the insurgency and al Qaeda. Hit was one of the first cities on the western Euphrates River Valley to be secured (July 2005) during the first phase of the Anbar Campaign. Colonel Stephen Davis’ Regimental Combat Team – 2 secured the city during Operation Sword. In August, the terrorist al-Ahwal Brigade was skillfully dismantled within two weeks.

The river crossing in Hit was destroyed during Operation River Gate to disrupt the insurgency’s line of communications and funnel traffic at the crossings in Rawah and Ramadi. Over a month after River Gate, a joint and combined task force of Marines, U.S. soldiers and the Iraqi Army launched Operation Iron Hammer in Hit to clear the Hai Al Becker region on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, an area intelligence thought to be a way station for foreign fighters transiting from Syria. After the New Year, Hit has been the focus of counterinsurgency operations such as Koa Canyon and Smokewagon, the last of which resulted in four insurgents are killed and three captured. One was discovered wearing a suicide vest, a sign of al Qaeda affiliation.

al Qaeda has intensified efforts to dislodge due to the Coalition and Iraqi Army successes in Hit. Last December, Major Tom Shoemake, the commander of the Civil Affairs Group in Hit explained the Civil Military Affairs mission in the city. He was a frequent target of assassination due to his successes in Hit.

During a recent operation north of Ramadi, Coalition forces uncovered an al Qaeda plot directed at assassinating members of the Albu-Nimr Tribe and disrupting communications nodes in Haditha, Khan al-Baghdadi and Hit. The selection of targets is clear – al Qaeda wants to intimidate the tribes working in conjunction with the Iraqi government and Coalition forces, and sever their ability to communicate with the government. Tips from Iraqi citizens are on the rise, and are a major threat to al Qaeda’s ability to safely operate.

Several military officers in Anbar have informed me about the existence of al Qaeda “hit-teams” – squad sized units well armed, well financed, with a mission to goad Coalition forces into fights designed to kill and injure civilians, and sow suspicion and distrust (more on these hit-teams in the near future). While the insurgency and al Qaeda are down, they certainly are not out in Anbar province.

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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5 Comments

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Standard insurgency tactic. Force the Government forces to over react. Thereby fueling support for the insurgency.
    And ICG doesn’t think US forces understand the enemy…
    Good to hear our guys are on top of the situtation.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    There is a lot wrong with that IGC report, Soldier’s Dad, so much that I just don’t have the time to refute it. While their facts are interesting, they certainly are selective. Note how they take the word of jhadis but ignore the word of the U.S. government on the validity of the Zawahiri and Zarqawi letters. Acknowledging the Zawahiri and Zarqawi letters would force them to rethink their preconceived notions. And when they tipped their hand by calling U.S. policy “imperialism” I figured I got the picture just fine. I find the analysis in the IGC report to be sub-par.
    Our troops know what they are up against. I know because I saw it first hand.

  • GK says:

    They definitely know what they are up against in Iraq, but how aware are they that they are simultaneously being undermined by a seditious fifth column here in the US?
    The fifth column in the US comprises of a few in the media, a few university professors, some Hollywood stars, individuals like Cindy Sheehan, Al Gore going to Saudi Arabia and trashing US treatment of Arabs, and organizations like the ACLU, CAIR, etc.
    What is the troops opinion of this domestic fifth column?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    The Marines and soldiers I spoke to to a man know they have a mission to do and want to see it through. They cannot understand the anti-war reactionaries, and are concerned about it. But frankly, that isn’t their fight, that is a political problem.
    GK, despite the constant drumbeat from the anti-war camp, policy in Iraq is not changing, and a solid majority of Americans are against a premature pullout. You’ve been beating this drum for some time, and yet the administration’s policy has not changed when it comes to troop deployments. Over the summer I saw people saying we had 6 months max before the public pulls the rug out from under Iraq.
    It hasn’t happened, and we are nowhere near that point. I put this in the same camp as the ‘civil war’ issue. It is something to keep an eye on but not something to excessively worry about.

  • GK says:

    Bill,
    I want to win, and then pull out. Certainly not before we win.
    But the fifth-column has made this war much harder and longer than it needed to be. By publicizing Abu Ghraib and Cindy Sheehan ad nauseum, but avoiding all mention of any of the positives, it has sapped the will of the American public.
    55% of Americans realize that we can’t pull out until we win, but about 53-54% wish we had never gone in, as they didn’t know it would take this long. This is particularly sad given we have had only 1800 hostile causualties. In Vietnam and Korea, there were 45000+.
    The fifth column really had made this harder than it otherwise might have been…

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