Thursday, March 16, 2006
Bill Roggio has an account of Operation Swarmer, and his commenters have additional information as well.
Bloomberg has interesting details on the composition of the assault.
One of Bill Roggio's commenters has put together an order of battle based on CENTCOM video briefings.
Though I wouldn't want to make too much of it, there are a couple of things worth noting about this operation. First, it has an information warfare component aimed to convey, I think, two things: that the Coalition is doing something about the terrorists trying to incite sectarian violence; and that the Iraq Army, not Shi'ite militias or vigilante groups, should be entrusted with exacting vengeance. The information warfare component is probably meant to answer both Iraqi and US critics who say that the Coalition is standing by "helplessly" in the face of the insurgents.
Secondly, despite press reports that insurgents were trying to turn Samarra into a Second Falluja none of the LZ's appeared to have contested by the enemy to the point where the helicopters had to fire suppressive munitions. (See my italicized excerpt from Bloomberg). Nor is the force at 1,500 men a very large one for a cordon and search operation lasting several days. Considering the bulk of the force appears to consist of Iraqi Army one can only conclude that either the operation is only for show or that the units involved are quite professional. They have to interoperate with the 101st AB not only during the assault phase, but presumably for the duration of the operation. That suggests these Iraqi units are not anything to scoff at.
It also says something about the relative strength of the insurgency. Recall that the insurgents felt confident enough to contest much a larger force of USMC and US Army units for the possession of Falluja in 2004. Even in 2005 insurgents were prepared to fight for Tal-Afar against Iraqi units and the 3rd ACR. But if Iraqi units assaulted essentially uncontested into the town that says something, and I don't think it says that the insurgency is gaining in strength.
But the operation's not over yet. Let's see what happens.
posted by wretchard at 2:20 PM
March 16, 2006
Operation Swarmer Near Samarra
A joint U.S. & Iraq force launches large air assault operation; Iraqi military uniforms discovered
North-central Iraq has become a main focus in the fight against the insurgency. In what is described as the "largest air assault operation since Operation Iraqi Freedom I," a joint Iraqi & U.S. multi-battalion task force, comprised of elements of the Iraqi Army’s 1st Brigade, 4th Division, the Iraqi police 2nd Commando Brigade, the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team and the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade struck at a town northeast of Samarra. Samarra and the surrounding region has been a hotspot and it is believed al-Qaeda is operating in this region.
CENTCOM reports the task force is made up of "more than 1,500 Iraqi and Coalition troops, over 200 tactical vehicles, and more than 50 aircraft..." and gives the blow-by-blow on the raid:
Blackhawks from the 101st Airborne Division's aviation brigade departing a military base to begin Operation Swarmer near the city of Samarra. Image courtesy of Sgt. First Class Antony Joseph, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade.
The assault netted "a number of enemy weapons caches have been captured, containing artillery shells, explosives, IED-making materials, and military uniforms." The inclusion of the military uniforms, while certainly not a new development, serves as a reminder that insurgents are using Iraqi Army and police uniforms, and that some of the reported sectarian-related violence may in fact be initiated by the insurgency to discredit the Iraqi security forces and stir up ethnic tensions.
Further evidence of masking insurgency action under the guise of police forces is discovered in a separate raid in north-central Iraq; "After receiving information on a possible fake identification workstation, Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, conducted a cordon and search with members of the Iraqi Police. Once inside the target residence, the combined force discovered more than 300 false identification cards, including Iraqi Police IDs."
Again, while none of this is earth shattering news, these insurgent activities must be remembered and factored into reporting of sectarian related violence as well as claims the Iraqi security forces are involved in death squads. No doubt there are illegal actions by rogue units or individuals in Iraqi security forces, but some of these killings are very likely the actions of insurgents hoping to discredit the ISF and degrade the security situation.
By Bill Roggio | Posted March 16, 2006 | Permalink | Print Article
The second death
Bing West, writing about the battles of Fallujah in No True Glory noted that the biggest American urban battles since the Tet, actions which resulted in the defeat of an entrenched enemy force, had been portrayed by the press in the same tone as a traffic accident.
The power of the press to inflict a Second Death was evident again in the coverage of Operation Swarmer. A Time article entitled How Operation Swarmer Fizzled complained that it was anticlimactic: there were no explosions, no frenzied yells, no victims dying.
I'd like to write another version of the Time dispatch, perhaps the version they would have preferred.
I rewrote the paragraph to pose a number of serious questions. How would the press have portrayed Swarmer if instead of the "cordon and search" operation it was planned to be, it turned out to be pitched battle? A severe defeat. And how does the press account for the absence of American casualties and the feeble performance of the fabled and invincible Resistance in Samarra itself, where in years past dozens of Americans had died in combat and into which Iraqi government forces dared not go? A "fizzle".
What Time refused to see is an Iraqi government increasingly able to control its territory. Not completely, for then Iraqis would not have needed an air assault to capture suspects, but fundamentally, in the sense that they could go anywhere they wanted and detain whoever they purposed. Iraq is in the zone between where you needed a 500-lb bomb to break down the door -- as in 2004 -- and where a firm knock and a flashed badge would serve the purpose. The fruits of peace, no less than the sacrifices of war, need to be recognized. But as Bing West so eloquently puts it, "unsung, the noblest deed will die".
posted by wretchard at 2:12 PM | 30 comments links to this post
Saturday, March 18, 2006
In Plain View
More on Operation Swarmer.
From the AP:
Washington Post, Fighting Smarter in Iraq
ABC News: US says raid shows Iraqi army taking control
BBC: How US assault grabbed global attention
The US is not "finally becoming adept" at fighting in Iraq so much as reaping the result of a two pronged strategy. First, building up indigenous and de-Baathized forces (with a large Shi'ite and Kurdish component) and second, destroying the infrastructure of the insurgency. The extent of the Iraqi troop buildup can be seen in the CENTCOM 2006 posture statement.
The campaign contained a significant political component as well. Again, from the CENTCOM 2006 posture statement.
Just how impressive the bumbling, unsophisticated effort in Iraq is will be evident when compared to the decades-long failure to create a working Palestinian Authority, which till now has no effective and reliable security forces and only a desultory form of "government" despite the efforts of far the more legitimate, understanding and capable United Nations and the sophisticated European Union.
In retrospect three of the decisive weapons of victory in Iraq will have been the 190 military transition teams which raised the new Iraqi Army, the Transitional Administrative Law which made a new coalition government possible, and the US Armed Forces itself, which held up the shield behind which the training and political components could take shape. It now seems fairly clear that many of the 'far better' strategies which were suggested in 2004 and 2005 in place of CENTCOM's may not have been as good as they were made out to be. There were many calls for more American troops on the ground, up to 400,000 men. There were even calls for a return to the draft to rescue a "broken army". It had been suggested that it was a "mistake" to fire the old Saddamite Army, which alone could maintain control, or so it was said. In the end, CENTCOM's strategy did not prove so amateurish after all. If the public has ever heard of the MTTs, the political transition process or the River War it will not be the result of their concealment. These three decisive weapons were lying in plain view from the end 2004 onwards though their significance had not been noted -- their existence hardly even acknowledged -- by the Press even until now. Ironically, this may have contributed to overall success. The enemy in reading the leading newspapers of the West remained ignorant of the doom descending upon their heads, confirmed in their eventual victory even as catastrophe overwhelmed them. Thank you MSM.
posted by wretchard at 9:47 PM | 15 comments
Operation Swarmer: Legit or Theater?
Swarmer is the latest in a series of Air Assault missions, not a "wag the dog" moment
Soldiers and aircraft are positioned on the airstrip at Forward Operating Base Remagen in advance of Operation Swarmer. Image courtesy of Sgt. First Class Antony Joseph, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade.
As soon as Operation Swarmer kicked off, the pundits rushed to assign political motivations to the operation. One author of this school of analysis is Richard Beeston, the Diplomatic Editor of the London Times, who claims the air assault is "politically opportune for both the Bush Administration and the fledgling Iraqi government in Baghdad," "a show of US strength" and a "demonstrate that that they [American and Iraqi commanders], in fact, are in charge."
Such analysis highlights the shortcomings of the media in covering war, particularly the inability to track combat operations and provide meaningful analysis. Instead of looking at the big picture, a single combat operation is viewed as an isolated incident, and there is little attempt to provide the context for an operation. The perfect example of this was the media reporting on the operations in western Anbar province during the spring and summer of 2005. Instead of viewing the operations as part of an overall campaign to subdue the insurgency and establish a permanent presence in the region, the operations were viewed individually, and judged as failures based on some undefined set of metrics.
But by the time the December 15th election was conducted, every major city and town on the Euphrates, from Ramadi to Husaybah right on the Syrian border, had a presence of U.S. Marines and troops, and the Iraqi Army. Not once did the media ask how they misunderstood what happened in Anbar, and to this day still refer to the Qaim and Triad regions of Anbar as the most dangerous regions in Iraq. That just is not so.
The fact is Operation Swarmer is the latest in a series of air assault operations conducted by U.S. and Iraqi troops over the past few months. On November 21, a small Iraqi and U.S. force of about 100 men conducted an air assault, code name Operation Old Baldy, on a “terrorist hideout” on Bayji Island, on the Tigris River. On February 13th, the Iraqi Army, with a force of about 100 men, conducted its first nighttime air assault against a suspected terrorist training camp in the village of Bit Shaitin, near Salman Pak. On March 2, Coalition and Iraqi forces conducted a multi-battalion air assault on the town of Sadr-Yusufiyah during Operation Morning Glory. Two full battalions of U.S. and Iraqi troops conducted this assault, along with a full brigade of Iraqi troops on the ground. The 101st Airborne division is trained for air mobile / air assault missions, and they are training their Iraqi counterparts in this mode of operations as well (that the Iraqis do not have an air mobile unit, or organic equipment, yet are being trained to conduct air mobile operations is another interesting topic of discussion).
The planning, equipment, and training required to conduct an air assault is more sophisticated than conventional methods of assault. If the Iraqi Army and Coalition wished to conduct a show of strength, there are easier, safer and cheaper ways to do so. An armored assault immediately comes to mind, and the Iraqi Army possesses their own armored units, which would be an impressive and accurate show of the Iraqi flag as opposed to riding shotgun on U.S. Blackhawks. But claims the dog was wagged makes for far more entertaining reporting, and far shallower reporting, too.
By Bill Roggio | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack (1) | Print Article
Update on Operation Swarmer
Joint U.S. and Iraqi cordon & search operation enters day 2
Iraqi troops from the 4th Division dismount from a Chinook during Operation Swarmer. Image courtesy of U.S. Navy/mate 3rd class Shawn Hussong.
As day two of Operation Swarmer near completion, further details about the raid are unearthed. Bloomberg provides an excellent summary of the scope and progression of the operation. The area of operations is a 100 square mile region northeast of Samarra, which is concentrating on the towns of Jillam, Mamlaha, Banat Hassan and Bukaddou. Some have incorrectly reported the assault was directly on Samarra proper and included intense air-to-ground fire. The fact is Swarmer is directed at the outlying areas of Samarra and no airstrikes were conducts. An Air Assault is the insertion of troops via air, and may or may not involve air strikes.
Salahaddin's Governor, Abdallah Hussein, states the target of the strike is "a mix of local nationals and foreign fighters" and believes "about 200 insurgents were active in the area, including members of the Sunni extremist group Jaish Muhammad [Army of Muhammad]." U.S. intelligence believes about 40 insurgents are in the region. At this point, fifty suspected insurgents have been detained, and thirty have been held for further questions. Six weapons caches have been uncovered, and no Iraqi or Coalition casualties have been reported at this time.
In December of 2005, we reported that due to the successful operation in Anbar province, "the core of the insurgency has moved back to the central environs of Iraq. Terrorist attacks continue in the capital of Baghdad. The cities and towns on the Tigris River directly north and west of Baghdad are a bastion of the Baathist insurgency." Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari echoes this sentiment, "After some of the operations that were carried out successfully in the Euphrates Valley, or near the Syrian border, many of these insurgency groups moved to other parts of the country, to Diyala, to Samarra, to some other parts around Baghdad."
The main focus of operations has clearly shifted to the regions around Baghdad, and a brigade-size air assault such as Swarmer is an indication of this.
By Bill Roggio | Permalink | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0) | Print Article
March 18, 2006
Swarmer & Media Coverage
Operations Swarmer nets some results while the media coverage of the war continues to disappoint
Amid cries of an "Overblown... Potemkin Operation" which "fizzled", Operation Swarmer nets some results. Iraqi officials have disclosed further information on the objectives. While the U.S. and Iraqi intelligence disagree on the size of the insurgent contingent operating in the region (100 vs. 200), the region is believed to be an area of operations for insurgents in the Samarra region, and the targets of the raids were the group responsible for the destruction of the dome of the Alaskaria mosque in Samarra, and the murderers of Iraqiya television correspondent Atwar Bahjat and two of her partners.
Six suspects were detained in the Iraqiya TV case, as well as a ringleader of the attack in Samarra. Jaish Muhammed (or Army of Muhammed) is believed to be behind the Alaskaria mosque bombing, and a 'ringleader' is said to have been captured.
A look at the major attacks in Iraq over the past three days provides further evidence and reinforces the belief the insurgency and al-Qaeda are concentrating attacks in central Iraq, in the areas around Baghdad and to the north. The air assault near Samarra is but the most recent in a series of air assaults and other operations in the region which has become the central front in Iraq.
The reporting on Operation Swarmer is a microcosm of the sub-par reporting on the Iraq war. Events are immediately placed into a political context. Commentary is often mixed in with reporting. There is little understanding of operational intent or how the military even works. Operations are viewed as individual events, and not placed in a greater context. Failure and faulty assumptions are the baseline for coverage and analysis. Success is arbitrarily determined by a reporter or editor's biases. The actions of the U.S. and Iraqi military are viewed with suspicion and even contempt.
If you don't believe me, just read the "objective" reports from Time's Brian Bennett and Christopher Allbritton. Would they have preferred a bloody battle? Should the military sought their advice in advance to determine the size and composition of the assault force?
By Bill Roggio | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0) | Print Article
Operation Swarmer and Sudden Iran-US Talks on Iraq: Connection?
The Same-Day Timing of the Two Major Developments May Not Be Purely Coincidence
By Steve Schippert
Yesterday, two major unexpected events took place: Operation Swarmer commenced to clear the Samarra area of insurgents and terrorists in the largest single operation since early in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and just as suddenly, Iran asked for and the United States agreed to face-to-face talks on the situation in Iraq.
But of far greater importance could be the potential that the American/Iraqi operation and the sudden Iranian calls for talks may not be merely coincidental in timing, but quite possibly directly related.
One potentially revealing quote came from Iraqi presidential security adviser Lt. Gen. Wafiq al-Samaraei, who said the operation was targeting “a bunch of strange criminals who came from outside the county [sic] and among them a bunch of Iraqi criminals who help them.”
American and British officials have long stated that Iran has maintained far-reaching tentacles into Iraq, injecting money, munitions, manpower and malicious intent.
“Tehran’s intention to inflict pain on the United States and Iraq has been constrained by its caution to avoid giving Washington an excuse to attack it,” said John Negroponte, director of national intelligence during a Senate hearing.
In the latest proof of Iran ‘inflicting pain’ with attacks on US military personnel came in the form of milled and shaped copper IEDs. They were not captured from a warehouse and presumed from Iran. They were captured in transit crossing the Iran-Iraq border headed into Iraq.
Iran’s activities in Iraq have been reported by various media outlets as well, as noted by Dan Darling in his October 2005 Weekly Standard column on Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps General Qassem Suleimani and his Qods Force.
Fast forward to this past month and the implications remain. Consider the direct words from Donald Rumsfeld barely one week ago regarding Iran’s operations in Iraq. “They [Iran] are currently putting people into Iraq to do things that are harmful to the future of Iraq. We know it, and it is something that they… will look back on as having been an error in judgment.”
Does the sudden Iranian call for talks with US on the same day of an operation aimed at Iraqi and foreign fighters in eastern Iraq point to an Iranian recognition of the ‘error in judgment’ that Secretary Rumsfeld spoke to?
Rumsfeld characteristically leaves very little room for nuanced interpretation. But he continued when pressed by questions. Consider the following response from Secretary Rumsfeld:
Regarding Operation Swarmer, it is somewhat curious how little information is being made available. Considering that it is the largest operation since the invasion, it is at least curious that the same series of still photographs were used by nearly every media report concerning the operation, even many hours into the operations. While no operation is intently and actively telegraphed (willingly), Operation Swarmer has the feel of a relatively tightly sealed operation regarding the flow of information.
This morning, The Telegraph reports that, as Operation Swarmer continues, around 48 people have been detained as of the time of their writing. A quote from the deputy governor of the province of Salaheddin, Abdallah Hussein is very interesting:
Again, foreign fighters. One wonders how many of the recordings might possibly be voices speaking Farsi.
It is unlikely that Operation Swarmer (as well as the American and Iraqi pressure its design represents) and the sudden call from Iran to hold discussions on Iraq are unrelated. Early yesterday, Iran’s call appeared to be a way for Iran to maneuver into direct talks regarding their clandestine nuclear weapons program and UN sanctions. Upon closer inspection, that conclusion, while convenient and plausible, seems to differ from the reality on the ground.
March 17, 2006 08:45 AM | Permalink
Tag for later.
God, I hate "journalists."
Our MSM should be renamed, "Hate America First" Club. I sure hope Al Quaeda and the Ayotollah`s are happy with their press.
Samarra was a very active sector when I was there, we lost 2 KIA and had 3 WIA from an IED when they were returning from a supply run to Balad. They bermed off the city before we left. One of our squad leaders was sent down there as liason to the Iraqi Police for the year beause he was NYPD. He spent the year knee deep in brass and shit.
The media is full of shit and will only report shit.
Example. My platoon trained and operated with Iraqi Army. They drove Nissan trucks. I scrounged 4 M998 HMMWV with add on armour kits for them. The Washington Post reporter didnt report that their level of protection had increased, but instead that they rode in HMMWVs differant than our gun trucks.
I have no use for the media.
Hey Stryker, thanks!
Some lady was complaining on Fox is morning about the lack of embedded reporters but then she bitched about how dangerous it was for reporters to be embedded. I thing she was a dem because no matter what happened I think she was going to bitch.
fuck Time magazine
+1. I don't follow all of the details that closely, but it's clear enough that the only quagmire in Iraq is the media's campaign to report Iraq as a failure, no matter what effect it has on our troops, whom they claim to support, the Iraqis, who we just went to a lot of trouble to free from oppression, and the terrorists who still want all of us dead.
March 21, 2006
Iraq Operations Update
Independent Iraqi operation in the Haditha Triad, U.S. operation in Ramadi and an update on Swarmer & north-central Iraq
Locations of recent operations in north-central Iraq.
The fight against the insurgency is increasingly focused in the provinces of Saladhadin, Baghdad and the eastern portion of Anbar province. Some of the recent operations have been executed by Iraqi troops alone, some by joint U.S. and Iraqi troops, and some by U.S. troops alone.
In Anbar province, two recent counterinsurgency operations were conducted in the Haditha Triad region and Ramadi. As part of Operation Raging Bull, the Iraqi Army's 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 7th Division "conducted a day-long, fully independent counterinsurgency operation in the towns of Albu Hayatt and Khaffajiah to disrupt insurgent activity and to search for weapons caches." The operation was conceived, planned and executed by the Iraqi Army, with the only assistance being provided by U.S. forces being the Military Transition Team, which consists of officers and enlisted Marines embedded with the Iraqi unit to provide advice and logistical assistance. This is the third fully independent operation conducted by the Iraqi Army in Anbar province, with Moonlight on the Syrian border at the end of December, and Final Strike at the end of January in the Jazerra region north of Ramadi.
In Ramadi, the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion, 506th Regimental Combat Team, part of the 2/28 Brigade Combat Team (Pennsylvania Army National Guard) launched Operation Normandy in the Julayba area, and according to the 2-BCT "Insurgents in the Julayba area are linked to the Al Qaida in Iraq (AQIZ) cell in the Al Anbar Province." Three insurgents were killed, seventeen were arrested and weapons, equipment to manufacture IEDs were discovered. There is a brigade and headquarters of Iraqi Army, along with several separate Iraqi Army battalions, and an armored company, but none of these units appear to be involved in the operation. The Wolf Brigade Police commandos [now called the Freedom Brigade] recently departed Ramadi. [note: the disposition of Iraqi forces has been corrected]
A soldier in Troop A, 2nd of the 9th Cavalry, shields his face from the fly dust and debris the Blackhawk kicks up during lift off. Image courtesy of Bill Putnam/Zuma
The bulk of the heavy lifting is being done in Baghdad and north-central Iraq. Iraqi police claim to have arrested the (unnamed) leader of Jamaat Al-Tawhid w'al-Jihad (Unity and Jihad Group), which is Zarqawi's origninal terrorist group and predecessor to al-Qaeda in Iraq. Several of Al-Tawhid w'al-Jihad's leaders have been killed in the past in northern Iraq, including Abu Azzam al-Iraqi and Suleiman Khalid Darwish. The Interior Ministry also reports it has recently arrested 21 members of the insurgency throughout Iraq. The Iraqi Army detained thirteen more insurgents after receiving a tip from a "known al-Qaeda member who had turned himself in to authorities."
North of Samarra, Operation Swarmer continues for its fifth day. A total of sixteen caches have been uncovered and over 60 suspected insurgents have been detained, with about half of them being released. Pamela Hess provides an update from Samarra and background on the insurgency in the troubled city, and states "the attack on the Golden Mosque has tipped public sympathy in the favor of Iraqi government forces." Swarmer "was meant to go after reports of terrorist training camps in the outlying areas." Bill Putnam is embedded with the 101st for Swarmer and provides more pictures of the operation.
In Kirkuk and Hawijah "two battalions of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, detained 46 suspected insurgents during numerous cordon and search missions" over the course of a week. Among those captured were four insurgents who were in the process of planting roadside bombs. In Tal Afar, a local resident provided a tip to the Iraqi Army that lead to the discovery of a large weapons cache. And near Mosul, "Sixteen insurgents were detained in a raid conducted by 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team Soldiers" and the Iraqi Army discovered and destroyed a weapons cache was discovered.
But the insurgency has not remained silent, and has pulled off a highly successful operation of its own. Seventeen Iraqi police were killed and seven wounded in Muqdadiyah after an insurgent assault on an Iraqi police station, and two more police were killed in a roadside bomb when they attempted to reinforce the beleaguered police station. Over thirty prisoners were freed from the prison during the attack, including "the son of a Rasheed Taam, a Baathist official in the western city of Ramadi... the father is a fugitive sought by both American and Iraqi authorities." This assault was likely carried out by the Baathist elements of the insurgency, and Muqdadiyah is a known Baathist stronghold.
By Bill Roggio | Posted March 21, 2006 | Permalink | Print Article
It's gotten to the point that I don't even watch televised news, since I know beforehand it's going to be shallow in inaccurate.
I get my news from blogs. And I preach how useless the TV media is to anyone who will listen.
March 22, 2006
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:
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.
By Bill Roggio | Posted March 22, 2006 | Permalink | Print Article
March 24, 2006
Northern Lights & Other Counterinsurgency Ops
A cordon & search operation in Abu Ghraib includes an air assault by elements of the 10th Mountain Division; sweeps around Baghdad likely part of Scales of Justice
Locations of recent operations in and around Baghdad.
Iraqi and Coalition forces have increased the tempo of multi battalion sized operations in the outlying regions surrounding Baghdad. Two multi-battalion operations, Iron Strike and Northern Lights were conducted in the past two days in the towns of Salman Pak and Abu Ghraib. Meanwhile, Operation Scales of Justice, which began when a battalion of the call forward force was deployed from Kuwait to provide additional security during the "run-up to [the Muslim holiday of] Arba’een and over the vulnerable period of the formation of the new Iraqi Government."
Operation Northern Lights is a combined and joint multi-battalion operation consisting of 1,400 soldiers and Marines from the 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment and the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division. Northern Lights kicked off with the Marine and Iraqi Army battalions "moving to blocking positions by ground" and the battalion from the 10th Mountain conducted the air assault. This is a a counterinsurgency sweep designed to uncover weapons caches and flush out insurgent and al-Qaeda members. Two large weapons caches were unearthed, which included RPGs, assault rifles, bomb making equipment, mortars & mortar rounds, ammunition and an Iraqi police jacket. Iraqi soldiers wounded an insurgent after he opened fire at one of the cache site, and "Iraqi and Coalition Forces have detained two persons of high-value interest and 16 suspected terrorists." Northern Lights is the fifth air assault operation in the past three months.
Task Force Black, Image from the London Times
Inside Baghdad proper, Operation Scales of Justice appears to be designed to beef up security. Scales of Justice is a brigade plus task force comprised of the call forward battalion from the from the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division and "two Iraqi Army battalions, three National Police battalions and three Coalition battalions." Also in Baghdad, three peace activists were freed from captivity by British Special Air Service commandos assigned to Task Force Black, "a combined team of about 250 US, British and Australian special forces backed up by intelligence personnel." al-Qaeda conducted its own mission and murders twenty five during a suicide strike on the the Baghdad headquarters of Iraq's anti-terrorism squad.
North of Baghdad, Operation Swarmer concludes after six days of sustained operations in the farmlands northeast of Samarra. CENTCOM reports Swarmer resulted in "104 suspected insurgents currently being detained and questioned, and 24 caches discovered," and breaks down the results of the weapons caches:
- Six shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles
- Over 350 mortar rounds and three mortar systems
- 26 artillery rounds
- A variety of IED-making materials and other military items
- Over 120 rockets
- Over 3200 rounds of small-arms ammunition
- 86 rocket-propelled grenades and 28 launchers
- Six landmines
- 12 hand grenades and 40 rifle grenades
- 34 rifles and machineguns of various types
It seems Swarmer wasn't the fizzled Potemkin operation some made it out to be. Coalition forces have also been conducting a sustained counterinsurgency sweep on the Jabouri Peninsula near Balad. This is a combined U.S. and Iraqi operation made up of the 1-8 Combined Arms Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division. Bomb making material, weapons and ammunition have been discovered, along with four SA-14 surface-to-air missiles.
Also, South of Samarra, Coalition forces killed four al-Qaeda and detained one during a raid against a High Value Target described as a "a top al-Qaida in Iraq cell leader who controls a large number of al-Qaida in Iraq associates in the Samarra/Balad area." In Diyala province, Coalition forces arrested Fares Kadhim Lafi, an "aide to al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi" who "carried out 27 operations including an attack on a minibus that left nine civilians dead."
By Bill Roggio | Posted March 24, 2006 | Permalink | Print Article
good content, thanks for sharing. I'm increasingly skeptical of the MSM....