The Baghdad Security Operation Order of Battle: April 9, 2007

The Baghdad Order Of Battle as of April 9, 2007. Click map to view.

By DJ Elliott, CJ Radin and Bill Roggio

The Baghdad Security Plan is approaching the eighth week since its official announcement, and Baghdad has seen a relative level of calm compared to the security situation just last year. There have been no major mass casualty attacks inside Baghdad since the suicide bombing in the Shia market on March 29. The deaths in Baghdad the past week have been attributed to low level attacks such as roadside bombs, mortar attacks and street fighting. The sectarian related murders have remained much below the levels reported prior to the inception of the security plan.

The mass casualty suicide attacks, which have incited the Shia population to support sectarian violence in the past, have been absent from Baghdad since an attack at a Shia market on March 29th. Al Qaeda has conducted several attacks in the provinces, most notably a chlorine gas suicide strike in Ramadi and conventional suicide bombings in Kirkuk and Khalis. The Ramaid attack, the eight chlorine attack in Anbar province, is designed to break the Anbar Salvation Council, a grouping of Sunni tribes and former insurgent groups opposed to al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq. The Khalis strike is aimed to stir up sectarian violence in the mixed Sunni-Shia province of Diyala, while the Kirkuk strike is designed to pit Kurds against Arabs in the contested oil rich northern city.

In Baghdad, the establishment of neighborhood security stations and troop deployments in support of the Baghdad Security Plan continues. The Joint Security Station (JSS) concept, which puts Iraqi Army and police and U.S. troops directly inside the neighborhoods, has proven so successful that the number of stations has expanded. There are currently 54 JSS and small Combat Outposts (COP) inside Baghdad. Major General William Caldwell stated 76 JSSs and COPs will be built and that the Baghdad Commander, General Aboud, is considering building 104 stations.

The 3rd Brigade, 3rd U.S. Infantry Division (Mechanized) has arrived in Iraq, and “will be deployed in and around the city of Baghdad.” This is the third of five U.S. combat infantry brigades assigned to the Baghdad Security Plan that has arrived in theater. The 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade of the 4th Iraqi Army Division, a Kurdish battalion, is en route to Baghdad from Kirkuk.

To date, 16 Iraqi Army battalions and 5 brigade headquarters have deployed into Baghdad from the provinces. The first brigade to deploy into Baghdad, the 4th Brigade of the 1st Iraqi Army division, is expected to rotate back to Anbar province as it has reached the end of its 90 day deployment to the capital. Another Brigade from the 1st Division is expected to replace the 4/1. The Bayaa district currently does not have an Iraqi Army unit, however two battalions from the Kurdish provinces are expected to deploy soon. The 7th Brigade of the 2nd Iraqi National Police Division was relieved by the 2nd and 3rd INP brigades. The 7th INP Brigade is expected to attend Quicklook II, the operation designed to vet, retrain and reequip the Iraqi National Police units.

The Baghdad Security Plan has resulted in the death or capture of three senior al Qaeda operatives over the past week. The Iraqi Army announced Abu Bara’a Al Libi (the Libyan), who was described as “one of the prominent leaders in Al Qaeda,” was killed in a raid. The U.S. announced the capture of two unnamed al Qaeda leaders. One was described as the “gatekeeper to the al Qaeda emir of Baghdad.” The other ran a car bomb cell which has upwards of fifty members.

As the U.S. and Iraqi forces are still in the process of deploying into Baghdad, operations are underway in the provinces. Al Qaeda and the insurgency have increased attacks in the provinces after moving significant numbers of forces from Baghdad in anticipation of the Baghdad Security Plan. Operations in Diyala, Diwaniyah, Anbar, and Mosul were underway last week in an effort to disrupt al Qaeda, the insurgency and in Diwaniyah, the Mahdi Army.

Violence in Diyala has spiked since U.S. forces began to draw down forces in the province, and worsened since al Qaeda redeployed forces from Baghdad in February. Multinational Forces Iraq deployed a Stryker Battalion to Baqubah the provincial capital, and since has been conducting a series of targeted raids, clearing operations, search and destroy missions and some permanent presence missions in the Diyala River Valley north of the city. The latest operation resulted in 30 terrorists killed and another 28 captured. The raids also uncovered an al Qaeda in Iraq training facility and 25 weapons caches.

In Mosul, over 179 insurgents were captured and 8 killed during operations over the past week. Violence in Ninewa province has increased since U.S. and Iraqi forces have shifted towards Baghdad. In Anbar, Iraqi and Coalition forces are pushing outward from the larger cities and towns into the rural farmlands that snake along the Euphrates River Valley.

Operations are ongoing in Diwaniyah, where elements of Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army fled after the announcement of the Baghdad Security plan. The split in Sadr’s Mahdi Army has led to a large segment looking to reconcile with the Iraqi government. The extremist elements of the militia have reestablished themselves in Diwaniyah, and security in the city is said to have been deteriorating ever since. The Iraqi government and Coalition is pursuing the Mahdi Army holdovers remaining in Diwaniyah. Thirty-nine Mahdi fighters have been captured since the operation began on April 6, and several have been reported killed.

Sadr has made a semi-personal plea for Iraqi forces fighting in Diwaniyah to break from the Coalition and halt the fighting. On April 8, Sadr issued an official statement, “which was distributed in the holy Shi’ite city of Najaf and stamped with Sadr’s seal.” The statement called for Iraqi Security Forces to end the fighting against the Mahdi Army. Reuters excerpts portions of Sadr’s letter:

“And here we can see in … (Diwaniyah), a civil strife the occupier planned, to drag the brothers into clashing, fighting and even killing… Oh (Mahdi Army) and my brothers (Iraqi forces) enough of this clashing and killing. This is success for your enemy … and (Iraqi army and police) don’t be dragged behind the enemy… God has ordered you to be patient in front of the enemy and to unify your efforts against it, not against the sons of Iraq.”

The operation in Diwaniyah is likely an attempt to preempt Sadr’s forces. Sadr called for a protest against the U.S. occupation on April 9, the date of Iraq’s liberation from the Saddam Hussein dictatorship. Sadr shrewdly asked Iraqis to fly the Iraqi flag to capitalize on the patriotism of Iraqis. Sadr also instructed his followers to demonstrate in Najaf.

The demonstration in Najaf has been muted. While the Middle East Online claimed “hundreds of thousands of Shiites burned and trampled on US flags,” the reality is the protest was far smaller than Sadr would have liked. Reuters puts the protest size in the thousands, and during a press round table briefing today, Rear Admiral Mark Fox noted the Coalition is closely monitoring the protest, and put the numbers at five to seven thousand. The protest is monitored both on the ground and via air, which allows for a relatively accurate count of the numbers of protesters. Sadr’s weak showing during the April 9 protests highlights the setbacks he has suffered both politically and militarily since the inception of the Baghdad Security plan and his flight to Iran.

We have witnessed some positive signs during the first eight weeks of the Baghdad security Plan. Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s government has shown a willingness to move forward on reconciliation while appears committed to curbing the power of the Shia militias. Sadr’s flight from Baghdad to Iran, and fragmenting of his Mahdi Army have been a pleasant surprises. The Iraqi Army has redeployed its battalions into Baghdad from the provinces, something it could not do just last fall. The reduction in sectarian attacks has provided a welcome respite to the Iraqi government and the people of Baghdad. The relaxation of the U.S. rules of engagement and the commitment to end the catch & release program, where insurgent prisoners are released from custody within months of capture, will pay dividends in the long run. The Coalition has regained the initiative and is taking the fight into the provinces, even though the full contingent of U.S. combat brigades has yet to reach the theater.

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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20 Comments

  • RJ says:

    “The reduction in sectarian attacks has provided a welcome respite to the Iraqi government and the people of Baghdad.”
    Then where is there in this article activities and statements by the Iraqi government supporting such efforts and demonstrating to their citizenry the confidence that better days are in fact ahead? We know what the soldiers want to do (Iraqi, American, et al.) but where do we learn; read the quotes; see the videos of those who were elected to the Iraqi government? And what about the religious leaders in Iraq? Have they presented themselves to the various media? Where are their stories of hope, determination, their videos which could be shared across the internet? Seems to me if I turn on my tv this evening, hell any day this week; didn’t spot it last week; I would see these people, leaders within Iraq, speaking to what this article says is good news, a change, etc. Something just does not smell right here. Call me a skeptic, but when fresh water flows on a desert I expect to see signs suggesting it’s a good thing…

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    RJ,
    There is a determined effort to not let expectations exceed reality. As soon as someone proclaims “victory”…a suicide bomber will come along and prove them wrong.
    The Iraqi politico’s are allowing events to speak for themselves.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    RJ
    You should have seen sunday’s brief. Everything was coached in “still early yet”, “still more forces to arrive”, “cautiously optimistic”, etc.
    All of the briefs this time are in those terms.
    Every time in the past that they point to someplace as going well, AQI targeted it. This time they have decided not to provide them with a target list.
    They learned this from the Karadah District of Baghdad which has been under ISF control in all but name for over eight months now. Until that was mentioned two months ago, very little occured there.
    Do not expect them to brag this time. Not until is is unmistakable…

  • The Baghdad Security Operation Order of Battle: April 9, 2007

    Courtesy of The Fourth Rail:
    By DJ Elliott, CJ Radin and Bill Roggio
    The Baghdad Security Plan is approaching the eighth week since its official announcement, and Baghdad has seen a relative level of calm compared to the security situation just last…

  • Lori says:

    RJ did you miss the ferris wheel pictures? Must have.

  • Gary says:

    Rj
    The Shi’ite Prime Minister recently went to Ramadi to meet with the Sunni led Anbar Salvation Council.
    He furthered displayed to the Iraqi Sunnis that have turned on al Qaeda in their midst, that he would fight the Shi’ite militias also… and that support for Anbar from the central govt is on the way.
    Reconciliation is underway. Patience.

  • ECH says:

    RJ,
    Things are improving as the others have said, reconciliation is occuring and the Iraqi Army is growing as Bill pointed out. Anbar is getting its own 4000 strong Army Brigade for security made up of the sons of Anbar.
    //www.iraqslogger.com/index.php/post/2290/Iraqi_Army_to_Form_Anbar_Brigade_of_4000
    And, as Bill just said another Kurdish battalion is on its way to Baghdad right now.

  • Neo-andertal says:

    I don’t see a big outburst coming out of the Shiite community in support of Sadr. On the one hand they don’t care to see one within the Shiite coalition shot up, even Sadr’s people. Simply put they don’t like America to do their dirty work of putting down extreme elements within their community. On the other hand Sadr’s organization creates such a mess that confrontation is inevitable. Instead of asking Iraqi’s whether they like the US to attack the Mahdi army (They don’t), ask them if they are resigned to the conflict. Ask them if Sadr is causing problems and is bringing much of this on himself.
    If Sadr can’t get any real resistance to American troop going in the next week he’s going to have even more trouble later. My guess is Sadr won’t get his insurrection restarted and will have to resort other less direct methods. My suspicion is that Sadr (and Iran) will increase EFP attacks as a response. It seems that they are having some success at this already.
    The EFP attacks won’t slow American operations but it will create an impression on the nightly TV news.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    ECH:
    I had read that one.
    Do you have anything other than Al Jazeera quotted by IraqSlogger to confirm that?
    The sourcing is suspect.
    That being said, I have been looking for an IA Motorized Bde for the Al Rutbah District since last summer.
    That is the minimum strength practical for filling that gap in coverage.
    A 4th Bde for the 7th IA Div in western Anbar.
    I just wish the source had more credibility…

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 04/10/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

  • Andy says:

    The “reduction in sectarian violence” in Baghdad has often been cited, but I’ve yet to see any data on it. Press reports (like the link below from yesterday’s new hours) indicate the overall level of violence has remained the same.
    //www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/jan-june07/protests_04-09.html
    If anyone has specific numbers or a link to some, I’d be very appreciative.

  • Michael says:

    I am sick of tired of everyone justifying everything that happens by citing stats in order to discern who is winning or losing. This is not a ballgame like the way the press wants to play it.
    We may see causalties increase and all of a sudden news comes that Al-Qaeda in Iraq collapses. The number crunchers would never see it coming because they lose sight of the large picture

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Michael,
    “I am sick of tired of everyone justifying everything that happens by citing stats”
    You are correct, the only stats that matter are the psycho-metrics. Unfortunately the only psycho-metrics publically available are very crude polls. Polls tend to ask yes and no questions rather than the question of “How much” someone cares about a particular issue.

  • ME says:

    Andy,
    Read Bills daily updates from recent weeks and you will see that violence in Baghdad has been cut dramatically.

  • Neo-andertal says:

    Andy,
    You’re trying to get your numbers way too early. This is the beginning of the operation not the middle or the end. The numbers of dead being picked up off the street due to street fighting is down. The numbers of dead from US and IA clashes with insurgents are up and are going to stay up as long as tactics are aggressive. That includes an increased number of US and IA casualties. I was a bit surprised that the US and IA casualties didn’t go up initially but it seems the insurgents backed off for about a month than reengaged. I’m not sure what you include as sectarian violence either. Is IA or INP engagement in Sunni areas to be included as sectarian. Some do include those numbers too.
    If your idea of a succeeding operation is a downturn in violence during an aggressive campaign than your sure to be disappointed. I guess that’s really the point for some though. Finding a way to be disappointed before things play out. There’s a reason the generals say they won’t see results like that until next fall. As more US troops arrive and more IA units gradually come on line the level of fighting will go up further and will expand further north. In the mean time there’s no all out civil war that’s going to break out in Baghdad and the IA is now stronger than anyone’s militia and getting much better.

  • Andrew R. says:

    “In the mean time there’s no all out civil war that’s going to break out in Baghdad and the IA is now stronger than anyone’s militia and getting much better.”

    The trick, though, is to inculcate the soldiers of the IA with a strong enough sense of identity as Iraqis so that in another couple of years they don’t simply use those nifty new arty batteries we’ll be giving them to start leveling Adhamiya. The IA unit charged with Diyala should serve as a strong cautionary note as to what happens when we have IA units not ready to function without adult supervision prematurely running the show.

  • ECH says:

    That is where the role of the advisors comes in Andrew, we are going to vastly increase the number of advisors amoung the Iraqi Army and they were going to be there for years.

  • crosspatch says:

    “The “reduction in sectarian violence” in Baghdad has often been cited, but I’ve yet to see any data on it. ”
    Okay, so far for the month of April there are 303 reported Iraqi civilian casualties from all media sources. That is a rate of 33.7 per day or on a pace for 1010 deaths this month. Compare that with 1711 civilian deaths in January.
    In the last 9 days of January there were 463 deaths in Baghdad alone. In the first 9 days of April Baghdad has seen 139 civilian deaths.
    Remember that the first priority of this is to secure the capital. You can not get the business of government going unless you have a secuure capital. Yes, this has pushed much of the violence out to some areas but overall it is down considerably. The sectarian killings … the finding of people shot on the street is are also way down from 20 to 30 people per day to around 10 people every few days.
    One measure of success in this is watching the prices of everyday items needed to survive. Inflation was down in Baghdad in February, fuel prices (for heating and cooking) were steady in most districts and down in several. The civilian casualty data is from icasualties.org and the inflation information from iraqslogger.

  • RJ says:

    I have read the comments since posting my concern. Seems to me we are all wanting to win this fight, yet each has his/her measuring systems. What if we all just drove to a far away hill and took our binoculars and transistor radios with us: What would we need to see and hear till a general concensus would arise suggesting this war in Iraq (even Bagdad itself, alone) was turning toward a very good direction…with momentum, not just trending?
    I know we are in the early stages (after three plus years) of a new and more concentrated effort (last ditch if I really think about this) to secure Bagdad and the surrounding areas, plus whatever else we can deny the enemies control. I really wouldn’t mind watching on my tv screen, here in America, a very powerful speech; a rallying speech much like Dr. King’s of years ago, given by a native Iraqi to his/her people who were spread about in the tens of thousands. Even if, during this speech shots rang out, or a bomb went off, all hell broke loose… What I want to see are normal (what would that be given all this warring?) Iraqis out in the streets energizing themselves with true leaders for the democratic fight. I don’t think this is too much to ask for. After all, who do the troops expect to pick up where they leave off? Isn’t it supposed to be the average citizens, those for whom our blood is being spent? Iraqi leaders: Where are they? Hiding somewhere or non-existant?

  • crosspatch says:

    “What would we need to see and hear till a general concensus would arise suggesting this war in Iraq (even Bagdad itself, alone) was turning toward a very good direction”
    When that happens I can tell you what we are *likely* to hear. Silence. The media will simply stop reporting on it once it starts going well and will concentrate on something else like the firing of 8 US Attorneys or talk show host comments about a basketball team or something.
    Iraq will simply fade out of the news once it starts going well, with the exception of some punctuation whenever the odd mass casualty attack happens or the next “grim milestone” is reached. In other words, when there is less bad news to report, there will be less reporting. You will be able to tell that things are going well in Iraq when several days pass without mention of it in the news.
    One thing is certain, you will *never* hear a drumbeat of good news and praise of success. The media has already invested themselves too much in Iraq as a failure to report otherwise. Besides, that might make a Republican look good which goes counter to the political agenda of the owners of most commercial media outlets.

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