The Ramadi Factor

Fighting and counterinsurgency operations continue in the restive city

As negotiations to form the Iraqi government proceed, Coalition and insurgent forces continue to battle over the contested city of Ramadi. The Associated Press reports “Sunni insurgents made their strongest attack in six weeks against the Anbar provincial government headquarters in Ramadi” and “U.S. Marines guarding the government headquarters fought back with anti-tank rockets, machine guns and small-arms fire.” Marine air support from Al Asad Air base was called in, and an F/A-18 conducted a bombing run on insurgent positions. “Sporadic shooting occurred around the government building after sunset.”

No Marines were reported killed in the fighting, and the number of insurgents killed is unknown. A reader from Holland (Niels) emaiedl and said a Dutch news source indicated fifty insurgents were killed during the counterattack [translation from Niels]:

“The US Marine Corpse announced that their troops in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, repelled an attack on the office of the governor of Anbar province. Insurgents attacked the building which was protected by sandbags and marines, from various directions. The marines haven’t counted body’s yet. But a spokesman said perhaps 50 insurgents have been killed in the counterattack, from which marines got air support.”

The provincial government headquarters sits directly on Route Michigan, perhaps the most dangerous stretch of road in Iraq, and is the symbol of power in Anbar.

Insurgents have conducted false propaganda operations in the past, such as the incident in early December where the Associated Press reported a fake uprising based on stringers, so the possibility exists this report is false as well.

While we wait for further word from the heart of Ramadi, Coalition and Iraq troops conducted another operation, Bastogne, in the Julayba area which lies east of Ramadi. Bastogne is the second counterinsurgency operation conducted in the Julayba region in the past several weeks, as Normandy was conducted at the end of March. Bastogne is a joint U.S. and Iraqi operation, conducted by Iraqi Army Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Division “

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


  • ECH says:

    How much time do we reasonably have in Iraq before the calls to leave become overwelming? The problem I see is that it doesn’t matter how many insurgents we catch or kill all the insurgents have to do is kill an Iraqi family somewhere and that will be what makes the news not 40 insurgents captured.
    We may stabilize this thing, but it will take quite awhile for the media and thus the public to figure that out.

  • The governor’s center/mayor’s cell has been the frequent target of insurgent assaults at least since May of 2003 – one of the first pitched battles in Ramadi was on that ground, between Bravo Company, 1-124th Infantry Regiment, Florida Army National Guard (a company out of Palm Beach) and what I guess were Ba’athist types. It was probed pretty regularly the whole time I was there (between May 03 and February 04). I didn’t spend a lot of time on the post, though.
    The post was later occupied by Alpha Company, 1-124th Infantry, out of North Miami/Hollywood.
    It’s interesting to me that it still falls to U.S. troops, apparently, to defend the compound.
    That said, it’s not an easy compound to defend, as it’s in a very built-up urban area, and it’s pretty easy for moojies to close to within grenade-throwing range before springing an attack.
    If I recall correctly, this isn’t the first time the USMC has called in fixed-wing close air support in response to an attack on that compound – the hotel across Route Michigan, less than 50 meters away, was heavily damaged last year. (I want to say it was the Rashid Hotel, but my memory fails me.)
    I was actually pretty suprised and impressed that the USMC could deliver ordnance so close to friendly positions from a fixed-wing platform.
    But the proximity of the old hotel – a multi-story building, four-six stories high, so close to the compound, illustrates the tactical challenge the commander on the ground faces.

  • The Julayba area, east of Ramadi, has been a tough spot for a long time, too. I had to drive along Route Michigan a couple of times a day during the summer of 2003, on various logistical missions down to Camp Fallujah and Khalidiyah and back, and I recall noticing the residents of that area, around the “Arches” east of Ramadi, were decidedly less friendly than people in downtown Ramadi itself. We got the “shoe-wave” all the time in Julayba.
    The area north of Julayba is the Sofia district, and the word was that that area was the roughest of all – even Saddam’s people didn’t go there.
    There were a number of IEDs planted around Julayba in 2003, and if you heard about a fatality due to an IED or ambush in Ramadi during that time, chances were pretty good it actually happened in Julayba. Sofia didn’t lie on the main thoroughfare, but I’m sure a lot of people from Sofia were responsible for the attacks.
    Also, if you heard about a mortar or rocket attack in Ramadi, chances were pretty good that the attack was either initiated from the Julayba/Sofia area, or a hit & run hipshoot from Highway 10, the freeway that runs north of Ramadi.
    Just giving folks the lay of the land.

  • cjr says:

    Odd. 1-506th is part of the 4th bde /101st div based in Sadr City/Badgdad. Yet, it is taking part in operations with 2/28th in Ramadi..

  • Tester says:

    So when do we win? The events in the article Bill wrote above could just as well have occurred 12 months ago.
    This is an interminable stalemate. We may have built and Iraqi Army and held elections, but there is still enough that Al-Qaeda can do to put on a show for the MSM, who in turn can continue to push War approval downward.
    The US military does NOT have an infinite amount of time to ‘win’. The public will grow weary and get fed up before the Nov. elections.

  • hamidreza says:

    Jason, couldn’t the Marines have done a demolition job on the old and abandoned hotel and just brought it down? Why should this be such a challenge? Apologies for my ignorance.

  • Dave From Chicago says:

    Tester, I couldn’t agree more. If you look at the big picture we are winning this war. Elections, army, and government. But the problem is Al-Qaeda is winning through the average person’s view. It’s not that hard for 1 nut to walk into a big crowd and blow up 100 people. Bill is very upbeat about the whole thing but if you look at poll numbers the majority aren’t. It just seems like people are getting fed up and soon we will have to pull out.

  • Tester,
    “So when do we win?”
    Insurgencies are rarely “won”. Over time they weaken to something called “Unrest” and then finally to something called “Violent Criminal Activity”. US forces will be around long enough to see the transition from Insurgency to Unrest.
    Most of Iraq can be reasonably classified somehere between unrest and violent criminal activity. The ISF can deal with unrest without a lot of US intervention.
    “Odd. 1-506th”
    There have been lot’s of pieces popping up in odd places recently. Someone has been re-arranging the chess board.

  • ECH says:

    Exactly Tester,
    I am not sure public support can hold up for another year and a half of daily coverage of car bombings and IED attacks. We are going to need about a year and a half before the Iraqi police are ready to work for the country and not be death squads for there own community.

  • Les B says:

    Bill, I wonder if you could give your estimation of the overall strength of the insurgency, as compared with, say, a year ago and two years ago. Is the total number of insurgents up or down or the same? I am asking because I hear different stories from different sources, and my impression is you are pretty well-informed.

  • Jimbo says:


    Have you heard about this raid north of Baghdad Saturday night into Sunday. US Raid kills Eight Insurgents…

    Sounds like a raid on a leadership target…

  • kingsley smith/nailgun says:

    I think we need to keep things in perspective here. Things are problematic at the moment but also if things would just break for us on the Jaafari stalemate a lot of problems could be fixed pretty quick. A competent and fair Prime Minister and Interior Minister would make a lot of difference. Certainly the civil war nonsense would dry up pretty quick. Al Sadr will set off some bombs and unfortunately no doubt some more innocent people will die but it will be his last hurrah.
    My view is we really need Jaafari to do the right thing and real progress will be made again. My hope and best guess ( and that is all it is, a guess) is that his resignation is just a week or two away.
    That said the MSM seems to be completely unable to understand an incremental improvement story.
    In other fields I am delighted with this chronic media over reaction, particularly share/stock investment as you can pick up shares/stocks way cheaper than you really should, but this time lives are at stake.
    My view is Republicans need to spend big to present the other side and they might as well start now to give time for story to sink in by November

  • Tester says:

    Remember that in VietNam, we actually won almost all of the military conflicts. We were killing the VietCong at a rate of 20 to 1.
    But public support just did not hold, and there was enough fifth-column activity in the US to prevent people from sticking it out.
    This is a similar situation here. We are and always have been militarily, but the propaganda campaign is not going in our favor.
    We do NOT have an unlimited amount of time to ‘win’. We have 4-5 months more at best.

  • Tester says:

    Soldier’s Dad,
    What you are saying is technically true, but is not what the average American perceives to be true. Al-Qaeda knows this, and merely needs to maintain a stalemate, ande put on a show for the MSM.
    Time is on their side. Time is NOT on our side, unfortunately.
    That is the problem.

  • Tester,
    “but is not what the average American perceives to be true.”
    I live out in Seattle, a somewhat left wing protest over everything city. The protests against someone cutting down a single 50 year old dead tree are bigger than the “anti-war” protests.
    The depth of the so called “anti-war” sentiment is shallow. I don’t like to call it anti-war, because I am anti-war. I am also, anti-capitulation to the jihadis.
    Public opinion polls rarely show “depth of sentiment”.
    Wendy’s makes a better burger than McDonald’s in my humble opinion, but I’m not prepared to drive 8 miles out of my way to get a Wendy’s burger.
    All politicians poll poorly against “NONE OF THE ABOVE”, but none of the above isn’ on the ballot.
    Someone should make all the killing stop in Iraq immediately.(As well as LA,Detroit,DC,NY etc). That option isn’t on the ballot.

  • Tester says:

    Soldier’s Dad,
    I see what you mean, but I don’t think that is the case.
    Polls that had War approval above 50% a year ago are at 35% now.
    We only have a few month to show some type of ‘victory’ that the average person can digest. Victory that is not easily understood will not cut it.
    Otherwise, the GOP will lose in November, the Democrats will keep pushing for a pull-out, and then re-write the history of the whole thing as a failure.

  • Indigo Red says:

    Whether we like it or not, we are pretty much locked into leaving Iraq beginning this year and completing early to mid 2007. That is what the American public is expecting. Beyond that time, most Americans will not allow.
    I am willing to stick it out for as long as it takes in Iraq, but I also realize Iraq is just one battle in this first (and perhaps only) war of the 21st Century. The war will go on even if we were to simply quit. The Islamofacists are not going to quit and will bring the war to us. The war must be taken to them, thereby destroying their ability to wage war in both material and spirit. Even if that were achieved, victory would be hard to define and probably harder to maintain.

  • Jim,MtnViewCA,USA says:

    Tester, I tend to agree with Soldier’s Dad. I live in very Left northern California. My perception is that people are discouraged by the slanted coverage of Iraq but they tend to tune out rather than rise up.
    Demonstrations seem to be lightly attended, and mostly by wackos.
    In other words, people are being told we are losing, and to some extent accept that viewpoint BUT they would prefer that we were winning. This is a huge difference from Vietnam, IMO. I say this as someone who was on the “wrong side” that time. I was there at many demonstrations, the difference from today could hardly be more stark. I fwd’ed this
    to some old “comrades” and they were impressed and astonished. I was impressed and astonished that they were not dismissive.
    In the media, anti-war sentiment is at an all-time high. In spite of polls I am not at all convinced this is true of the people, though of course it is certainly true of the media itself.

  • HK_Vol says:

    My best guess is that troop levels drop below 100,000 before election day. Two reasons – 1 – it gives the Republicans an election boost and 2 – the troops probably aren’t needed.
    We’ll end up with 4 large bases where the troops are under no threat, a decent number that patrols in small numbers with Iraqi troops, and a few special forces teams to fly off on a moment’s notice to deal with any flareups.
    We’ve had troops in Germany, Japan & South Korea for over 50 years on a benign, supportive level. I suspect that things will move in that direction for our troops in Iraq between now and January 2009.

  • GJ says:

    I don’t think the public fully comprehends the far scope as of yet. .
    It is because the MSM have no clue of WHO we are up against and their intentions and goals. Until they can fully realize this how can the GP understand it. This is a much bigger problem than many in the MSM want to admit and accept. Until the Muslims take a stand we will have to continue the fight. There will be no change of heart from the terrorists. By hitting them HARD, they will, for a time, back down.

  • Marlin says:

    CNN has an article that describes some of the unique techniques used by the anti-government forces in Ramadi.
    It’s the latest insurgent ruse in an evolving war pitting the world’s most powerful military against guerrilla fighters using their most effective weapon: ingenuity.
    Insurgents in Ramadi recently have flown kites over U.S. troops to align mortar-fire, released pigeons to give away U.S. troop movements and staged attacks at fake funeral processions complete with rocket-stuffed coffins, U.S. forces deployed here say.
    “They’re crafty, I’ll give ’em that,” said Marine Cpl. John Strobridge, 20, of Orlando, Florida, as his Humvee passed the mannequin along one of the most bomb-infested roads in town, a street Americans call Route Michigan.
    CNN: Iraqi insurgents use mannequins, pigeons to kill

  • skipsailing28 says:

    just to respond to an early post from Jason:
    “I was actually pretty suprised and impressed that the USMC could deliver ordnance so close to friendly positions from a fixed-wing platform.”
    It’s those ANGLICO guys!!! lightning from the Sky, thunder from the sea.

  • CIALIS says:

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Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram