Operation Omens of Prosperity begins in Diyala

Map of Diyala province [PDF]. Click to view.

The long awaited offensive to secure Diyala province has begun. Iraqi Army and police forces, backed by the US Army, officially started Operation Omens of Prosperity today.

Iraqi sources originally said the operation would begin in early August. An indefinite curfew has been imposed on the province to restrict the movement of al Qaeda and allied terror groups.

The bulk of the offensive is likely to take place in the rural northern regions of the province, where al Qaeda still maintains strongholds. US and Iraqi special operations forces have been hunting al Qaeda in the Hamrin Mountains, which span Diyala, Salahadin, and Tamin provinces. This area is a major fallback position for al Qaeda in Iraq and allied insurgent groups.

The Miqdadiyah region was reported to be an al Qaeda stronghold earlier this year. Also the Khanaqin district, which borders Iran, is a haven for al Qaeda, Ansar al Sunnah (which has reverted to its original name, Ansar al Islam), and other Islamist groups. The Mahdi Army also operates along the fault lines in the eastern and southern areas of the province.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has also operated female suicide bomber cells from the Baqubah region in Diyala province. In February, US special operation forces captured Karrar, a senior intelligence leader for al Qaeda in Iraq’s network in Baqubah. Karrar facilitated suicide bombing attacks in the Diyala River Valley. This network also has been responsible for female suicide attacks in Baghdad. Yesterday, four female suicide bombers killed 70 Iraqis and wounded more than 300 in attacks in Kirkuk and Baghdad.

More than 30,000 Iraqi soldiers and police are said to have massed for the Diyala offensive. Elements from the 1st Iraqi Army Division — redesignated the 1st Quick Reaction Force — along with the 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized), and several Emergency Response Brigades will likely join the 5th Iraqi Army Division based in Diyala. The 1st, 9th, and the Emergency Response Brigades have been used to conduct operations against the Mahdi Army in Baghdad and throughout central and southern Iraq.

Iraqi troops move in Kirkuk

Yesterday’s suicide attack in Kirkuk, which killed 38 and wounded 178 Iraqis, has put the Iraqi military on high alert. The 15th Brigade of the 4th Iraqi Army division has shifted elements from a region west of the city of Kirkuk to the Arafa region to tamp down any potential threats.

Iraqi police also detained three members of Ansar al Islam in central Kirkuk. Ansar al Islam is a Salafist terror group that operates closely with al Qaeda in Iraq. The group is known to operate in Ninewa, Kirkuk, and the Kurdish provinces. Ansar al Islam may have been behind yesterday’s attack in Kirkuk.

Ansar al Islam is using Iran as a base of operations. On July 22, the Deputy Minister of the Kurdistan Guards Forces said Kurdish forces halted an Ansar al Islam attempt to infiltrate across the Iranian border. In February, the Kurdish media reported Ansar al Islam established cells in two Kurdish cities, with the help of the Iranian government.

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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  • KaneKaizer says:

    Interesting names the Iraqis come up with for their operations. Ours would no doubt have been Phantom something. =P
    Godspeed ISF and CF!

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Phantom is the Corps nickname. In corps level ops, the first codeword is the corps nickname.
    I can’t remember the MND-N name for our support ops in Diyala and the rest of the north, but it is “Iron ____”. 1st Armored Division is the “Iron” Division.

  • Joakim Ekström says:

    Iron Pursuit, I think.

  • KaneKaizer says:

    I see, thanks for the info DJ. I noticed the pattern with TF Marne and TF Lightning’s operations last year, but I wasn’t aware there was a TF Phantom. I just thought it was a cool trend that caught on.
    Good stuff to know, especially for when I join the Marines next year.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    The III Corps (MNC-I) is the Phantom Corps.
    Every formation in the US military has a nickname.
    Operations are named for the formation.
    Corps sized operations are named for the corps
    Div for the Div
    Bde for the Bde.
    We are only providing divisional level support for the current operations in northern Iraq. No simultanious ops in the other TF AOs, so no corps name.
    3ID (Marne) and 25ID (Lightning) are back in Georgia and Hawaii now…

  • KaneKaizer says:

    Sweet, thanks for making sense out of it for me.

  • Alex says:

    That last part about how Iran might be stepping up activity in the Kurdish areas was a bit disturbing. Michael Totten says that it is nothing new, but it’s good to see that the Peshmerga realize that the Revolutionary Guards aren’t the best people to be doing business with.

  • David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 07/29/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  • bard207 says:

    Since the action in Basrah, the Iraqi Army has grown more confident and able.
    Are they still making the projected (expected) capability milestones in the field or have they impressed by turning the corner a bit quicker in some areas.
    Logistics, artillery, air force etc will be on a longer time horizon as you have mentioned in the past. Just curious about what they have demonstrated over the past 4 months.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    In terms of capabilities of individual divisions, they are about on modified time-line. They traded delaying some capabilities (EG Artl, armor) for more divisions.
    – In terms of expansion, they are expanding faster than most projected. The Iraqis are looking at a larger end-force than we are and are paying the money to build it. The 9010 reports are tending to be behind the power curve of MoD plans, as the Iraqis do not always mention to US what they are doing until it is in-progress.
    – Absorption of the peshmerga has also started and 50% will be IA (2 Div)/INP (1 Div) at end-2009. This is moving faster than expected. Looks like they plan to transition all by 2011.
    INP is expanding to objective COIN force size by absorbing the Emergency Brigades and re-training them. They are as much as two-three years behind the IA in some ways and on par in others. Unbalanced force.
    DBE is the stepchild. They are using DBE training facilities to support the INP expansion. The lack of reporting on DBE indicates serious problems. (Note: both Basrah and Maysan DBE cmdrs were relieved…)

  • bard207 says:

    Thank you for the information. Other than DBE, the rest seems fine.
    What are the impressions on unit cohesion and NCO development? The ability of units to hang tough when the going gets a little rough? As expected or a bit better than expected?
    Thank you

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Varies with the units.
    You have to consider that 25% of IA Bdes did not exist a year ago.
    They have a seriously high percentage of green formations and a shortage of senior/mid-range NCOs. As they mature they get tougher. This is a factor that will take a decade to correct.
    Note: This factor is true of all militaries…
    A bit more on topic:
    – 1st IA Div is confirmed in Diyala.
    – Looks like elements of 35/9 Armored Bde and 37/9 ArmCav Bde are also there.
    – Elements of 4th Div are also reported, that is probably 14/4 Bde.
    – No IDs on the INP components as yet. Still leaning towards 5/2 and 1st NPM Brigades. 5/2 has elements up at Taji where they tend to deploy prepatory to moving into Diyala and 1st NPM just finished route-clearance training (very usefull for Diyala).

  • anand says:

    The NCO problem is more severe than the officer problem. Much of it is cultural. Iraq had a weak NCO corps under Saddam. The IA officers are also not using the NCOs properly.
    There also does not seem to have been enough of an emphasis on Iraqi NCOs by MNF-I in 2003 and 2004. It took them a while to realize the importance of improving the NCO corps. Otherwise, a jundi that entered basic training in 2003 would be an experienced sergeant by now. The 2004 class would also be sergeants. The 2005 class would be corporals and sergeants. 2006 would be corporals and lance corporals.
    Now they put the top 10% of every incoming jundi class into corporal school, and are emphasizing the NCO academies. But the culture of the new IA has partly set in a way that does not fully utilize NCOs.
    With respect to officers, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of captains any more, with the 2003, 2004 and 2005 Lt. school classes in the field.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    The Officer and NCO ranks are still only 60% overall.
    They have enough senior officers,
    they have enough junior officers,
    they are seriously short of Field Grade.
    As to NCOs,
    Schools do not make NCOs,
    Experience does.
    They have plenty of junior NCOs,
    not so good in mid-range,
    and badly undermanned in senior NCOs.
    And the constant expansion is exacerbating these shortages.
    That is why this will take a decade…

  • AMac says:

    > Absorption of the peshmerga has also started and 50% will be IA (2 Div)/INP (1 Div) at end-2009. This is moving faster than expected. Looks like they plan to transition all by 2011.
    Will the Kurdish regional government, Pres. Talibani, and other Kurdish politicians accede to the transfer of former Peshmerga units to central government/Ministry of Defense control? Or will there be some sort of parallel structure, with Kurdish commanders obeying Baghdad’s orders… but only after back-channel communications with an informal Kurdish structure?
    We read a lot about how Iraq is pushing its problems into the future, rather than solving them, and the “Kurdish Question” is one of the biggest examples. In particular, there is not yet a resolution to the fate of Kirkuk (historically majority-Kurdish, Arabized by Saddam through organized migrations and expulsions). Will it become part of Kurdistan, or stay in a majority-Arab province?
    It would seem that a willingness of Kurdish politicians to see much of the organized and armed Kurd-staffed units to integrate into the national command structure would be terrifically important–a sign that Iraqi Kurds are willing to stay in a unitary Iraq, even if a federal one.
    On the other hand, retention of C-and-C could argue in the other direction–who would cede crown-jewel forces to a central government that might turn into your enemy in the future?

  • DJ Elliott says:

    That is the question.
    We will have to wait and see if the de facto status of the KRG units transferring to the IA/INP/IP is the same as the de jure.
    The same can be (and is) said of all of the former militias that have been absorbed by the ISF. Or for that matter, former gang members that join the US Military. Pay close attention to sources on this subject and look for confirmation vice circular reporting. The MSM tends to throw such accusations around without any real evidence. According to them, Basrah was just the Badr fighting JAM…


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