October 13, 2005

Dawn Breaks Over Iraq

Hatched by Sachi

Dafydd and Sachi conspired on this post.

Bill Roggio's military blog, the Fourth Rail, has several detailed analyses and descriptions of the Anbar Campaign, an overarching military strategy that includes both Iron Fist and River Gate as recent operations. (Hat tip to commenter Terry Gain.) From Recent Operations on the Euphrates:

The current operations must be looked at in the context of the Anbar Campaign, which began in November of 2004 when U.S. and Iraqi forces executed Operation Dawn in Fallujah. Fallujah was al Qaeda’s easternmost headquarters, a safe haven where thousands of terrorists and their insurgent allies operated freely and directed attacks towards the heart of Iraq. Over one thousand terrorists and insurgents were killed and fifteen hundred were captured. Operation Dawn ejected the insurgency from Fallujah, but it was only the beginning of the Anbar Campaign.

The Anbar province is the poinky part in the middle-left (west) of Iraq, roughly hexagonal, which points at Jordan; the northwestern border of Anbar is Syria, and the Euphrates River runs near the northeastern edge. Big city: Ramadi.

The section of Iraq in between the Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers comprises Salahuddin, spreading northwest from Baghdad, with the Tigris running northwest through it; big city: Samarra; and Ninevah, almost the very north of Iraq; upper Tigris runs right along the big city here, Mosul.

If we understand an earlier post on the Fourth Rail, the Anbar Campaign focuses on these three provinces... basically, in and around the two rivers and the land between them. This is where we find the "ratlines" connecting Syria in the northwest and the terrorists in the Triangle of Death south of Baghdad; it is through here that al-Qaeda elements in Syria and Syria itself ship jihadis and weapons: this is one of the two areas we must bring under control if we are to defeat the enemy (the other being the South, where Shiite militias receive arms and terrorists from Iran).

Operation Dawn was aptly named, for it began a year-long squeeze-play that first saw a number of search-and-destroy missions and battalion-sized or smaller operations, coupled with air strikes on al-Qaeda safe houses (or not-so-safe houses, to be more accurate); these were punctuated by some very large operations (corps-sized or larger).

The tempo is increasing. From Operation Dawn (Fallujah in November 2004) to River Blitz (Ramadi, Hit, Baghdadi and Hadithah in February 2005) was three months; another quarter-year elapsed before there was a flurry of operations in May. Since then, not a month has passed without multiple operations.

Not only is Operation Anbar squeezing the terrorists farther and farther west, right to the border with Syria, and seizing both banks of the two rivers, it's also the baptism by fire of the Greater Iraqi Army. From Recent Operations:

The Iraqi security forces have taken an increasingly larger role as operations progressed over the summer. They have a strong presence in Fallujah and Habbaniyah, and are beginning to appear in battalion strength in the Euphrates cities of Ramadi, Hit, Haditha and Rawah. In Tal Afar, the Iraqi Army took the lead and outnumbered U.S. troops three to two.

Through the Anbar Campaign, the Iraqi Army and Coalition forces are isolating the terrorists, ripping up their ratlines, driving them back into Syria, and seizing or destroying bridges that are crucial to the enemy being able to maintain his strength and resources. If that's not good news, I don't know what is!

Hatched by Sachi on this day, October 13, 2005, at the time of 5:15 AM

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Tracked on October 14, 2005 5:36 AM


The following hissed in response by: harkyman

Things really have been going very well for the coalition for the last half-year. It seems that they've finally reached a tipping point in intelligence gathering, due in no small part to the efforts of the increasingly effective Iraqi police and National Guard.

I find two things instructive:

1. The complete lack of ability on the part of the larger media organizations to be able to piece together what we've been doing over there. There's been a great plan, and people who are perceptive (or who get pointers in the right direction) have discerned exactly what's going on. No analysis of the plan to cut the IED/jihadi pipeline off at both ends, then roll 'em up like a garden hose.

It's a very deep bias thing, not in a conscious way, and I don't make that claim derogatorily against the reporters. I used to do I.T. at a j-school, and I knew lots of the profs and students. People who go into that field are kind of self-selected to not grasp military matters at a gut level. It's not their fault that the best they can do it parrot DoD casualty figures. It is, however, the fault of the editors who are supposed to provide comprehensive coverage, but fail, due to a lack of diversity in their reporters. They should be actively recruiting people who understand this stuff.

So the reporters, in my book, are off the hook. The editors and publishers, though... they should be ashamed.

2. The beginning of backpedalling by formerly anti-war politicians. Now, the non-politician loonies aren't ever going to back off or admit they were wrong. But the politicos only believe what they say in the most ephemeral way. By talking trash about the war in Iraq, they've been playing to their base or their party leaders. As long as it looked like there was a reasonable chance we could lose, it was a safe bet.

But now, they're seeing that it might turn out to be a gigantic success instead of a (*ahem*) miserable failure. cf. Senator Dodd (D-CT) starting to hedge his bets today. No one wants to be seen backing the losers (or betting against the winners, which is not exactly the same thing), and the politicians will be the first ones in line to claim that they knew it all along. When anti-war Dems start hedging their bets, you know things must be looking up. Good news!

The above hissed in response by: harkyman [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2005 8:26 AM

The following hissed in response by: dougrc

"The beginning of backpedalling by formerly anti-war politicians."

So true. The latest round of spending votes for military items bear this out. In the Senate there used to be solid no votes everytime a military bill came up. Now the support for the spending is almost unanimous. The libs are finally realizing that most Americans wish there would have never been a reason to go to Iraq, but that we expect our country to finish the clean-up job in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I predict that the campaign in western Iraq will be studied in the future as a model for subduing a lawless region agains guerilla forces. The terrorists find themselves under extreme duress and not just from American forces, Iraqi forces in the region are being brought along pretty quickly and becoming battle hardened. That will bode well for them when we start drawing down. I love good news!

The above hissed in response by: dougrc [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2005 9:11 AM

The following hissed in response by: harkyman

I agree about your assertion that our campaign in Western Iraq will be long studied. A lot of the guys over there have been reading the French book on counter-insurgency tactics. I'd be willing to bet that twenty years from now, people will be reading the books written by our guys about this very situation. Ditto for the reduction of Fallujah, and triumph in Mosul.

The above hissed in response by: harkyman [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2005 9:31 AM

The following hissed in response by: RBMN

I always believed that our military knew what they were doing. I guess the right-left difference is, conservatives believe that our military's mistakes (in Iraq) are the aberration, and the libs believe that our military's successes are the aberration.

Obviously, the military can't always explain what they're doing at the moment, or else the surprise is lost. Like all wars, we’ll have to wait for the memoirs and the historians to tell us exactly what happened.

I knew it wasn't going to end like Vietnam, because John Kerry hasn't gone to Paris yet to meet with Zarqawi and apologize.

The above hissed in response by: RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2005 11:01 AM

The following hissed in response by: Terry Gain

Thanks Sachi and Dafydd,

Good summary of Bill Roggio's posts. If anyone is doing a better job of describing how the war is being won I don't know who it is. Roggio is required daily reading for anyone interested in the outcome and how we get there from here.

He is the first thing this Canadian reads every morning- just before my fantasy hockey league.

Please add his site to your blogroll. And keep up the good work.

The above hissed in response by: Terry Gain [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2005 3:53 PM

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