Iraq Operations Update

Independent Iraqi operation in the Haditha Triad, U.S. operation in Ramadi and an update on Swarmer & north-central Iraq

Operation Swarmer: A soldier in Troop A, 2nd of the 9th Cavalry, shields his face from the fly dust and debris the Blackhawk kicks up during lift off. Image courtesy of Bill Putnam/Zuma

The fight against the insurgency is increasingly focused in the provinces of Saladhadin, Baghdad and the eastern portion of Anbar province. Some of the recent operations have been executed by Iraqi troops alone, some by joint U.S. and Iraqi troops, and some by U.S. troops alone.

In Anbar province, two recent counterinsurgency operations were conducted in the Haditha Triad region and Ramadi. As part of Operation Raging Bull, the Iraqi Army’s 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 7th Division “conducted a day-long, fully independent counterinsurgency operation in the towns of Albu Hayatt and Khaffajiah to disrupt insurgent activity and to search for weapons caches.” The operation was conceived, planned and executed by the Iraqi Army, with the only assistance being provided by U.S. forces being the Military Transition Team, which consists of officers and enlisted Marines embedded with the Iraqi unit to provide advice and logistical assistance. This is the third fully independent operation conducted by the Iraqi Army in Anbar province, with Moonlight on the Syrian border at the end of December, and Final Strike at the end of January in the Jazerra region north of Ramadi.

In Ramadi, the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 506th Regimental Combat Team, part of the 2/28 Brigade Combat Team (Pennsylvania Army National Guard) launched Operation Normandy in the Julayba area, and according to the 2-BCT “Insurgents in the Julayba area are linked to the Al Qaida in Iraq (AQIZ) cell in the Al Anbar Province.” Three insurgents were killed, seventeen were arrested and weapons, equipment to manufacture IEDs were discovered. There is a brigade and headquarters of Iraqi Army, along with several separate Iraqi Army battalions, and an armored company, but none of these units appear to be involved in the operation. The Wolf Brigade Police commandos [now called the Freedom Brigade] recently departed Ramadi. [note: the disposition of Iraqi forces has been corrected]

Locations of recent operations in north-central Iraq.

The bulk of the heavy lifting is being done in Baghdad and north-central Iraq. Iraqi police claim to have arrested the (unnamed) leader of Jamaat Al-Tawhid w’al-Jihad (Unity and Jihad Group), which is Zarqawi’s origninal terrorist group and predecessor to al Qaeda in Iraq. Several of Al-Tawhid w’al-Jihad’s leaders have been killed in the past in northern Iraq, including Abu Azzam al-Iraqi and Suleiman Khalid Darwish. The Interior Ministry also reports it has recently arrested 21 members of the insurgency throughout Iraq. The Iraqi Army detained thirteen more insurgents after receiving a tip from a “known al Qaeda member who had turned himself in to authorities.”

North of Samarra, Operation Swarmer continues for its fifth day. A total of sixteen caches have been uncovered and over 60 suspected insurgents have been detained, with about half of them being released. Pamela Hess provides an update from Samarra and background on the insurgency in the troubled city, and states “the attack on the Golden Mosque has tipped public sympathy in the favor of Iraqi government forces.” Swarmer “was meant to go after reports of terrorist training camps in the outlying areas.” Bill Putnam is embedded with the 101st for Swarmer and provides more pictures of the operation.

In Kirkuk and Hawijah “two battalions of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, detained 46 suspected insurgents during numerous cordon and search missions” over the course of a week. Among those captured were four insurgents who were in the process of planting roadside bombs. In Tal Afar, a local resident provided a tip to the Iraqi Army that lead to the discovery of a large weapons cache. And near Mosul, “Sixteen insurgents were detained in a raid conducted by 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team Soldiers” and the Iraqi Army discovered and destroyed a weapons cache was discovered.

But the insurgency has not remained silent, and has pulled off a highly successful operation of its own. Seventeen Iraqi police were killed and seven wounded in Muqdadiyah after an insurgent assault on an Iraqi police station, and two more police were killed in a roadside bomb when they attempted to reinforce the beleaguered police station. Over thirty prisoners were freed from the prison during the attack, including “the son of a Rasheed Taam, a Baathist official in the western city of Ramadi… the father is a fugitive sought by both American and Iraqi authorities.” This assault was likely carried out by the Baathist elements of the insurgency, and Muqdadiyah is a known Baathist stronghold.

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


  • remoteman says:

    All I heard about on the news this morning was the prison break. I guess it is only the terrorists/insurgents that are doing anything. The good guys must be hiding…or something. Thanks for the continuing clarity Bill.

  • cjr says:

    “There are several Iraqi Army battalions in the city, along with a brigade headquarters and an armored company and the Wolf Brigade Police commandos, but none of these units appear to be involved in the operation.”
    The Wolf Brigade(2nd Police Commando Brigade) has been withdrawn from Ramadi: 2 battalions in early January and the 3rd in early March. It(or some portion of it) is being sent to Samarra. The brigade was renamed to “Freedom Brigade”.
    Still in Ramadi is:
    1st bde / 7th div
    1 or 2 brigades from the 1st division

  • doc99 says:

    Any info on the so-called ‘Haditha Massacre?’

  • Marlin says:

    Iraqi soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division received 24 High Mobility, Multi-wheeled Vehicles (Humvees) yesterday after graduating from a three-week Humvee licensing and preventive maintenance course at Camp Al Asad in western Anbar province.
    “We get new vehicles to help us fight terrorism,”

  • Neo-andertal says:

    Thanks, Marlin
    The ‘Christopher Hitchens’ article is a must read.
    I’m going to repeat Marlin’s post. Everyone read it, Bill too.

  • Neo-andertal says:

    Sorry, if I got overly critical yesterday, but I thought that some of the recent blog entries had broken with form, and were not up to the usual quality.
    Today you seem back in form.
    I think you do provide an element of analysis of military maters that is chronically lacking in much of the MSM. That being said, you are of more use adding to what is said by the MSM, rather than joining the information wars. Remember you are just one voice amongst a multitude. It’s of more use to try to work yourself into the debate at critical points, rather than just add to the symphony of hollering.

  • Neo-andertal says:

    Ah yes! A critical juncture of roads between Baghdad and Iran. It’s been a particular problem area for a long time, if I remember right.
    Hmm! I remember AQ trying this a similar thing at the start of the Fallujah troubles back in Spring 2004. Things are on the ground are a lot different now, but it might be a similar tactic. Is AQ trying to stir up another wave of Sunni support, along with a play to secure their supply lines. I wouldn’t let this pass, if I were the US Army.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I pick my spots and combat the problems with the media reporting from Iraq from time to time. Since I cover operations, I think I have a perspective on how the media fails in its reporting. Swarmer was a good time to address these shortcomings, and I did so while covering the operation. When journalists claim they know the intent and scope of operations when they don’t really track them, who else is better to tell them where they went wrong?
    CNN invited me on the program to discuss the shortcomings of the war reporting in Iraq. This was a good opportunity to reach out and talk to potential readers who might be looking a different approach to covering the war. Perhaps I should have declined because you do not consider this a constructive use of my time?
    But I don’t just focus on operations. I discuss other issues in the War on Terror, such as al-Qaeda’s attacks & operations, the death or capture of al-Qaeda leaders, developments in Pakistan & Afghanistan, etc.
    Perhaps you should Google “Bill Roggio” and “Eason Jordan” together. My guess is you haven’t been around all that long.

  • Muqdadiyah,
    There is going to be more to this story over time. The police chief was arrested.
    “The governor of Diyala province, which has a volatile ethnic and sectarian mix and has seen many al Qaeda attacks in recent months, had the police commander and other officers arrested.”

  • Enigma says:

    I fail to understand why you keep beating Bill over the head about his criticism of the media. How is he supposed to persuade non-readers to check out his blog if he doesn’t at least point out the media’s failings in regard to the military analysis that he provides? It’s simply a matter of Bill pointing out that he provides a better product.

  • Neo-andertal says:

    Thank, Bill Roggio
    “Perhaps you should Google “Bill Roggio” and “Eason Jordan” together. My guess is you haven’t been around all that long.”

  • Neo-andertal says:

    “I fail to understand why you keep beating Bill over the head about his criticism of the media.”

  • ECH says:

    If you asked the average American to name one Iraqi political leader could they do it? No, because the media gives almost no coverage to the Iraqi political scene.

  • pedestrian says:

    >The fight against the insurgency is increasingly focused in the provinces of Saladhadin,
    >Baghdad and the eastern portion of Anbar province.
    It seems that someone here also felt the winds blowing eastward. Good analysis. Bill Roggio is one of the few I admit knowing in depth about the security environment of Iraq.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram