Operation Lightning Hammer in Diyala

The Baqubah egion. Click map to view.

Clearing operation launched against al Qaeda in Iraq in the Diyala River Valley

On the same day Multinational Forces Iraq announced Phantom Strike, a major operation against the networks of al Qaeda in Iraq and Iranian-backed Shia terror groups, Coalition forces announced the onset of a major clearing operation in Diyala province. Dubbed Operation Lightning Hammer, elements of two Iraqi Army divisions, Diyala police, five US combat brigades and a combat air brigade are striking al Qaeda positions in the Diyala River Valley north of Baqubah

Multinational Division – North is “Taking advantage of concentrated forces in Diyala province” to launch the search for al Qaeda operatives who fled Baqubah Over 16,000 US and Iraqi troops are involved in the operation. Lightning Hammer began when “Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, partnered with members of the 5th Iraqi Army Division, initiated the operation with a late-night air assault into targeted locations to capture or kill al-Qaeda.”

Lightning Hammer follows Operation Arrowhead Ripper, the Iraqi and US effort to clear Diyala’s provincial capital from the grip of al Qaeda and its Islamic State of Iraq. US and Iraqi Security Forces have focused in on the towns and cities north and east of Baqubah ver the past week. US and Iraqi Security Forces established a series of combat outposts in a series of strategic towns during the spring in preparation for this operation.

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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  • B.A.Hokom says:

    I get the feeling that the momentum the military is creating has a tremendous effect on insurgent activities, especially sleeping somewhere safe. It appears to be a well organized trap, take the larger cities, cut off access and flank to focus. At some point in the next couple of weeks the insurgents will either stand and die or try to make their way into Iran, the northern command is acting like a lid. Since the surge took full effect we no longer here from AQIA, no more tapes or propaganda hitting the airwaves or internet, they are running for their lives with no where to turn…

  • B. Lackey says:

    Your dispatches are truly informative. Between you and Michael Yon’s first-hand reports of the great progress being made not only by our U.S. forces, but by the ever growing and increasingly competent Iraqi Security Forces, we are getting a much better look at a very crucial topic. We may not all agree on whether or not going into Iraq was the right thing to do, but we ALL should agree that we have to win now that we are there. I think future generations will judge this as a crucial point in the history of the world, if our Washington politicos would just allow it to happen. Keep up the great work informing the world of this very important fight against those who want to kill us because of who we are and the freedoms we have.

  • crosspatch says:

    It would seem that the clearing of Diyala has moved into a second phase. More operations of this type should be expected and then a likely third phase with more isolated attacks in widely scattered locations to take out what knots of enemy might remain after the second phase is complete. And it might transition to the third phase in some areas while second phase operations are ongoing in others.
    It would appear that we are chopping them up into smaller elements, disrupting what infrastructure they might have for communications and hitting them wherever we find them. If they don’t stand and fight soon, it may well be impossible for them to do so in a relatively short span of time. Then as another poster mentioned, I would expect to see any foreigners among them attempt exfiltration to conserve resources and fight another day. Iraqis would probably be dead-enders or attempt to melt back into the population.
    At this rate I give AQ 6 months to being irrelevant in Iraq.

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 08/14/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  • Neo says:

    About five weeks ago, when operations against Baqubah were in full swing, one of the commanders outlined the extensive preparations for securing the immediate area that were already being applied. They were already putting in their security checkpoints, barrier walls, and setting up policing, right on the heels of clearing out the insurgents and bombs.
    I didn’t highlight it at the time, because I thought it was putting a little too much out there. What this meant was instead of taking a six weeks to sweep the place than another six weeks or so to build up security infrastructure this would all be done concurrently in a much shortened time frame. Troops would also be available for further operations in six to eight weeks instead of three months. This was very bad news for Al Quada setting themselves up a few dozen miles up the road. Not only did they not have time to set up and settle in, they barely had time to regroup before being pounced upon. This is what we are seeing now with operation Phantom Strike and Lightening Hammer so soon on the heels of securing Baqubah. This combined with operations south of Samarra on the west side of the Tigris have swept up much of the enemy that fled Baqubah only weeks ago.
    This was all made possible by extensive preplanning and pre-positioning before the campaign started. An added bonus was the comparatively ineffective defense of Baqubah by what remained of AQI forces left in place. No longer are we fighting for an area, taking our time settling in afterward, than waiting to see what happens next. One wave right after another is the mode of operation from here on in. I might add that it seems to produce about the same casualty rates as less aggressive action too.

  • RHYNO327 says:

    the most important thing Gen.Petraeus has going for him is MOMENTUM. sounds like they are on the run, and there is no time to stop and regroup. maybe they are in a state of confusion and thats just wat the Coalition wants. AQ may be the real danger for now, but the Shia militias are a greater long term threat. it is good news they are being engaged, and destroyed. i think this is wat al-Maliki does not want. maybe this explains his hatred for Petraeus. the Shia do not want to share with the other groups, and there are reports of shia on shia violence in Basra. so, wat would lead anyone to believe they will want to share power, oil rev. etc. with Sunni or Kurd? we can only hope Gen.Petraeus gets enough time to dismantle these groups. al-Maliki is NOT the answer, he is part of the problem.

  • Thanks for amazing reporting, Bill. Your reports have always been more complete and more up to date than anything else I track on the net, and I really rely on them. In addition, the combination of your team’s expertise and the cadre of intelligent commentators here gives me a sense of the big picture which I simply do not see elsewhere. Keep up the good work, and thanks to everyone!


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