Bill Roggio, Marvin Hutchens, and Steve Schipperthave put together a great presentation on the recent engagements in Western Iraq, near the border. Just in time for the upcoming Operation Sayaid (Hunter) to root out and destroy the enemy near the border:
U.S. and Iraqi commanders have begun bolstering forces in western Iraq’s Euphrates River valley, hoping to choke the flow of foreign fighters along what intelligence officers say has become the primary infiltration route from Syria toward Baghdad.
The buildup, called Operation Sayaid, is aimed at securing the border area around the restive town of Qaim and suppressing other insurgent activity in the villages that hug the winding banks of the Euphrates west of Baghdad.
In recent public remarks, Iraqi Defense Minister Sadoun Dulaimi signaled plans to step up military operations in the valley. Gen. George W. Casey, the senior U.S. commander in Iraq, said in an interview that his forces were intent on “restoring Iraqi control of its border by the end of November, before the December elections.” Iraqis are expected to vote for a new parliament by Dec. 15, following a referendum Oct. 15 on the country’s draft constitution.
The effort follows months of growing concern, both inside and outside U.S. military ranks, that not enough forces had been committed to the western reaches of Anbar province, a stronghold of Iraq’s Sunni Arab resistance and of Abu Musab Zarqawi’s foreign-dominated insurgent group, al Qaeda in Iraq. Although U.S. Marines have conducted a series of raids in the far west, most lasting about a week, the longer-term presence of U.S. and Iraqi troops there has been relatively small.
Out of 32,000 U.S. service members in the province, only one Marine regimental combat team — fewer than 5,000 troops — and some Special Operations forces have operated in the far western region.
Consequently, insurgent fighters have continued to move freely in many places, according to U.S. officers. Zarqawi’s network, in particular, is said to have established safe houses throughout the valley to shelter foreign fighters who enter from Syria before moving on to stage attacks in Baghdad and elsewhere.
“It’s not something we haven’t known about,” said a senior U.S. officer involved in overseeing military operations. “It’s just something we’re now in position to do something about.”
Iraq’s 7th Army Division will be playing a major role in the operation and Bill has been updating us on the operation’s in the west for the last few months:
The first phase of Operation Sayaid came in July when an Army squadron of Stryker vehicles, augmented for intelligence gathering, rolled south from Mosul to set up an outpost near the Euphrates River town of Rawah. The contingent of more than 1,000 troops established an American presence on the north side of the river; the Marines had been operating on the south side. Also arriving in Rawah was an Iraqi Intervention Force battalion.
The troops have imposed tight controls on traffic that now must use the single bridge in Rawah. U.S. warplanes this month blew up two smaller pontoon bridges farther west in the towns of Karabilah and New Ubaydi, making the Rawah river crossing even more critical.
He also states how well the operations in the Western part of Iraq has gone:
Operation Sayaid must be looked at in the greater context of the Anbar Campaign. The Coalition is often accused of not having a coherent plan to establish control in western Iraq, but the pace and design of operations over the past year do not support this conclusion.
Last fall, Fallujah was removed as the premier terrorist safe haven, which sat on the doorstep to Baghdad. Then operations in Mosul slowly pried Iraq?s second largest city from the grip of the insurgency. The spring and summer consisted of a series of operations in Qaim, Hit, Haditha, Ramadi, and a host of cities and towns that were designed to keep the enemy off balance and deny them freedom of action. [Note: the full compliment of major operations can be viewed here.]
In July, a large base was established in Rawah, the strategic town that sits at the crossroads of the Anbar province, with roads leading in all directions. Earlier this month, Tal Afar was removed as the northern terrorist safe haven, and Coalition forces moved into the city to establish control. The Rabiah crossing in the north and the Rutbah crossing in the south were secured. Raids and airstrikes along the Euphrates River continued during this time. Hundreds of al Qaeda and insurgent operators were killed or captured during these search and destroy missions.
The key to reaching the current phase of the Anbar Campaign is the availability of Iraqi troops. Tal Afar was the first operation where Iraqi forces took the lead, and outnumbered U.S. forces.
The Iraqi government has stated it will secure Tal Afar with Iraqi forces, yet still plans to send multiple battalions to western Anbar for Operation Sayaid. This indicates that Iraqi forces are now available to be deployed to the most dangerous regions of Iraq. Whether they are ?fully operational? (able to provide for their own logistics or have organic heavy weapons) is immaterial. The Iraqi units will be taking to the fight to the insurgency in the heart of their area of operations.
Would you know any of this if you only read and listened to the MSM? No way.
For example, check out The Adventures Of Chester and read a comparison of 3 articles:
To give a concrete example of what I mean, I’d like to do a comparison of three texts. First, Chasing the Ghosts an article in the September 18th edition of Time magazine, and secondly, an interview with DoD News: Press Briefing on Overview of Operation Restoring Rights in Tall Afar, Iraq, and finally, DoD News: Special Defense Department Operational Update Briefing on Operations in Northwest Iraq [h-t to Belmont Club over the past week or so for all three sources].
We can start with the titles of the articles themselves. “Chasing the Ghosts” of course implies trying to catch something that is forever out of one’s grasp. It of course reeks of drama, but not of a good kind, but of a tragic sort of failure. The other DOD headlines relfect the mundane manner in which the DOD assigns and tracks its news. These two documents should be pushed out to every media outlet possible, not just released on the Pentagon website. The headlines reflect that mentality.
First, let’s examine the overall tone of both sets of documents just through some of the descriptive phrases in each. In the TIME article, here are representative words, reflecting, and shaping, the overall tenor of the piece:
“elusive and inexhaustible enemy”
“success” is “elusive”
“inexhaustible enemy emboldened by the US presence”
“gradual . . . erosion” in public support
“millions of Iraqis will vote on a constitution that threatens to further split the country”
“beleaguered US mission in Iraq”
“unwinnable military fight”
“series of failures”
“hardened local fighters”
“politically compromised outcome”
“dangers, dilemmas, and frustrations that still haunt the US in Iraq”
“temporary tactical gains”
“doubts about whether anything resembling victory can still be achieved”
“powerless to do anything” about atrocities
“intelligence suggests insurgents are displaying their mettle”
“This enemy is not a rabble.”
“shaken US officer”
“troops . . . embittered”
“insurgents proving so resiliant”
Do you really even have to read the article to know what it says? When I was a child, my father told me that Life magazine was for people who don’t like to read, and TIME for people who don’t like to think. Seems an accurate characterization. Let’s contrast those above phrases with the ones used by Col H.R. McMaster, Commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the subject of the first DOD link, who led the attack on Tall Afar, and those of Col Robert Brown, Commander of the 11st Brigade, 25th Infantry, who is the subject of the second interview, conducted as his unit is about to leave Iraq after a full year there.
Col McMaster’s interview:
“The enemy . . . is the worst of the worst in terms of people in the world.”
“no better enemy for our soldiers and Iraqi army soldiers to pursue and defeat”
“our troopers were very aggressive”
“we pursued them very effectively”
“gain access here by a very good relationship with the people”
“they can’t hide in plain sight anymore”
“there’s a permanent security presence here”
“the enemy is denied that area”
“very capable Iraqi security forces”
“tremendous amount of capability”
“we conducted very effective combat operations against the enemy”
“we relentlessly pursued the enemy”
“these Iraqi soldiers are brave”
“more effective every day”
“there is no really greater pleasure for us than to kill or capture these particular individuals”
“discipline of our soldiers . . . ability to overwhelm the enemy in every tactical engagement”
“apply firepower with discipline and discrimination has saved civilians’ lives”
“desperate situation for al Qaeda and the insurgents in Mosul”
“sources we have inside the al Qaeda network . . . have . . . informed us of that”
“population clearly understands they want freedom . . . they are sick and tired of the terrorists”
“the government has really improved their legitimacy”
“the Iraqi forces are getting better”
“the situation improving on a daily basis in Mosul”
“normalcy has come back to the city”
“They’re absolutely fantastic”
“huge improvement just over the last three months”
“we have a number of sources that provide information”
“foreign fighter that we’re seeing now — very poorly trained”
“80 percent say they’re going to come and vote”
“they want the people in fear”
“many of these former regime elements are coming forward”
“mistake to align themselves with al Qaeda”
“the level of proficiency is down in the foreign fighter”
“the level of complexity of attacks is way down”
“the leadership is severely disrupted”
Go read the whole post, he goes into even more detail about the differences and you will come away being amazed. Well maybe not, most of us with a little common sense already know the biased attitude the MSM takes toward this War and Bush.
By the way, Bills blog The Fourth Rail is a must read if your interested in how the various operations are going in Iraq.