More Coalition & Insurgent Ops

In Babil province, another strike on a police station & Operation Iron Strike

Recent Operations in Babil Province

A day after insurgents successfully overran a police station in Miqdadiyah, another attempt was made in the town of Madain, which sits at the tip of the “Triangle of Death”, a region of insurgent activity which lies south of Baghdad and is demarked by the towns of Yusufiyah, Latifiyah and Mahmudiyah. The assault was beaten back by a joint U.S. and Iraqi rapid reaction team. The insurgents took a staggering 83% attrition rate during the strike in Madain. The Associated Press provides the details:

Sixty gunmen, firing rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles, attacked the Madain police station before dawn, police Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammadawi said. U.S. troops and a special Iraqi police unit responded, capturing 50 of the insurgents, including a Syrian, al-Mohammadawi said. Four policemen, including one commander, were killed and five were wounded, he said. None of the attackers was killed.

al Qaeda’s front organization in Iraq, the Mujahideen Shura Council, has claimed responsibility for the attack in Miqdadiyah. There are also accusations the Miqdadiyah assault was aided from inside the police force; ” 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. He suspected them of complicity in the dawn raid…”

The Madian assault, at first glance appears to be a similarly organized operation. While no group has yet to claim responsibility for the Madain attack, there are indications this may have been another al Qaeda operation. First, al Qaeda tends to conducted high-profile strikes within the same timeframe to magnify the propaganda effects. Both assaults struck at identical targets, consisted of a massed strike force and used similar tactics (coordinated attack; opening salvos with RPGs, mortars and small arms fire).

al Qaeda has attempted two large scale assaults such is this in the past; the attacks on Camp Gannon in Husaybah and on Abu Ghraib prison in the spring of 2005. Both of these attacks were fended off by U.S. forces with heavy casualties inflicted on the assault force. But the two latest attacks did not involve suicide car bombs, which is certainly an interesting development. With the successful attack in Miqdadniyah and the failure in Madain, al Qaeda overall success rate is 1 for 4 from a military standpoint, but the propaganda value of these strikes are incalculable. It should be noted that after the al Qaeda failures at Camp Gannon and Abu Ghraib, al Qaeda halted large scale assaults on armed compounds. While these operations may have produced good propaganda, it is likely the operations took a toll on resources, morale and manpower. It has taken almost one year for al Qaeda to reinitiate such operations.

Coalition and Iraqi forces initiated an offensive of its own in Babil province. A combined Iraqi and U.S. strike force comprised of elements 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, and 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division conducted Operation Iron Strike a cordon & search operation in the town of Samra, which also lies in the Triangle of Death. Eleven insurgents were detained and a weapons cache was uncovered. This was a night air assault operation, with U.S. and Iraqi troops being ferried in by Blackhawks.

Iron Strike follows a similar operation which was aimed at Sadr-Yusufiyah, where Coalition and Iraqi forces established a battle position to patrol the region. Coalition forces are increasingly using air assaults, which is an indication that there is little concern the insurgency possesses shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles. Air assaults also add the element of surprise and allow Coalition forces to bypass the threat of roadside bombs.

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


  • JAF says:

    83% attrition rate ?
    I hope that is not an exaggeration. I love it when the bad guys get their due. I just hope that they don’t get caught up in the catch and release program.
    I think the most encouraging words in your post is “combined” and “joint”. Those 2 words seemed to be used more and more. It conveys to me that there are a lot of fed up Iraqis willing to fight back. Hopefully the day will come soon when it is the Iraqis themselves that are leading the fight.
    By the way Bill, I know it takes a lot of hard work to gather this information together and give us your thoughts (especially when you have kids). I hit the tip jar yesterday as a token of my appreciation.

  • cjr says:

    Early March, for operations company level or higher:
    34% were planned and executed by ISF alone.
    43% were joint ISF/Coalition operations.
    23% were Coalition operations alone.
    In early December05 the numbers were:
    21% were planned and executed by ISF alone.
    29% were joint ISF/Coalition operations.
    50% were Coalition operations alone.
    So the ISF seems to be making significant progress.

  • Marlin says:

    The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) were clearly up to the task of providing the public face in Karbala for adequate security for the major Shiite holiday, Arba’een.
    Additionally, I thought Lt. Gen. Pete Chiarelli, commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq, had an insightful comment on who/what is behind all recent violence in Iraq.
    By late Monday afternoon, no incidents had been reported in the city, which attracted an estimated 5 million pilgrims from throughout the Middle East. Monday marked the end of Arba’een, a major Shiite holiday.
    Security in the area included American air cover and numerous Iraqi army checkpoints along the roads around Karbala packed with pilgrims on foot.
    “Iraqi Security Forces have clearly taken the lead in providing security for the Arba’een,”

  • JAF says:

    Those statistics are encouraging and hopefully will keep improving. What is the source of those statistics?

  • Scott Malensek says:

    “But the two latest attacks did not involve suicide car bombs, which is certainly an interesting development. ”
    Given that (according to the Brookings Inst report a few months ago) most of the suicide bombers in Iraq came from outside Iraq….One might wonder if perhaps the lure of being a suicide bomber has faded, and the pool of wanna-dies is being dwindled. It’d be interesting to see a chart listing the suicide bomber attacks in the ME, and in Iraq specifically. IF in fact suicide bombings are down across the board, then it would make yet another strong case for winning the war against terrorist.

  • cjr says:

    MGeneral Lynch gives a 30 min briefing on Iraq every Thursday(last week it was Wed for some reason). He presents a goldmine of statistics each time. You can watch it on the Pentagon Channel either live, streaming or downloaded.
    If you click on “Briefings” in the upper left corner, his briefing for the last month or so are available. He presents the operations percent statistics pretty regularly. The ones I posted are from March 9th.

  • JAF says:

    I feel better knowing that the stats came from the Pentagon rather than some news organization that may be biased.

  • The slides on the 16th March Briefing are 35% ISF,39% Combined 26% Coalition. The transcript postings at are/were incorrectly labeled as Gen Casey.

  • hamidreza says:

    There was at least one suicider carbomb used in the Miqdadiya attack to stop US and Iraqi reinforcements from joining the fight from the east and south of the city.,1,1030491.story?coll=la-headlines-world
    Question is why such a feeble response to such a major attack?
    Why only 2 Kiowa helicopters were sent to attack the terrorists and chase them down – when there are 100 terrorists and at least 20 cars involved in the attack? Why not send 10 Apaches and take them all out?

  • hamidreza,
    This article seems a bit more complete, 10 insurgents killed, 16 wounded and captured.;_ylt=AkoVjVFFNmnw2NENA7kHDWWs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3b2NibDltBHNlYwM3MTY-
    As far as why the choice of equipment, I’m pretty sure it is an Armor Unit looking after Miqdadiya.

  • cjr says:

    3/329th Field Artillery Battalion / 3rd Brigade / 4th ID is the unit stationed in Miqdadiya

  • cjr says:

    So, insurgents lost 26 men in order to release 32 from prison? Not much of a return on such a large operation.
    Not sure this belongs in the “victory” column. 26% losses is more like a Pyrrhic victory.

  • hamidreza says:

    What stops this base and other bases from sending in more helicopter fighters? I am sure you agree that this was a feeble response.
    Is it that US is too eagre to test the IA? This cannot be just a bureaucratic snafoo. We all knew al-Qaeda is moving east. The propaganda loss is immense and huge. Fortunately Al-Qaeda was stupid enough to mount another attack in Salman Pak and get wiped out the next day.
    Edward Wong of NYT is having a field day reporting more lies on Miqdadiya and putting down IA, IP, and the coalition. Is anybody keeping a public file on these lying “reporters”?

  • dj elliott says:

    Report I saw was the landlines were cut first, causing a delay in response.
    Not sure why the radios were not effective. A noise jammer for the radios would not be that hard to do.

  • blert says:

    It was an inside job, bought and paid for.
    Station commander and others under arrest already.

  • cjr,
    “So, insurgents lost 26 men in order to release 32 from prison?”
    Leaving 16 wounded on the battlefield is a serious strategic error, wounded just are not in a position to care about OpSec.

  • pedestrian says:

    Terrorist groups have engaged in multiple large scale attacks in recent days. Other than attacks in Diyala province against the prison involving 50 or more terrorists arriving with around 10 vehicles, there were also attacks reported on governor’s office, court, police headquarters and prison in Diyala. The police oficers guarding the prison were lacking ammunition and the terrorists cut off the phone line to delay reinforcement. After this incident, terrorists engaged attacks on another prison south from the capitol, but failed with 50 insurgents captured. Recently, terrorists engaged in attacking an anti-terrorist headquarters in the capitol. Meanwhile, US Armed Force engaged in operation Operation Northern Lights, capturing two key terrorist members. Bill Rogio, let’s hear more from you and let us know your thoughts about these incidents.

  • JAF says:

    Hmmm, lack of ammo is highly suspicious. Insider job?

  • hamidreza says:

    #17 – the mayor’s office, court, police headquarters, and prison were all the same compound in Miqdadiya. One fortified building and compound. These are not separate incidents.
    This is clearly al-Qaeda’s job (backed by Iranian pasdaran death squads). This is not insurgent activity. The insurgency is finished. The oh so romantic freedom guerillas are now engaged in targetted killings. Such darlings of some western leftists – who deliberately confuse ethnic cleansing with fighting for freedom and equality.


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