Steel Curtain


Gotta tell ya, without Bill Roggio most of us would only hear the doom and gloom coming from the MSM about Iraq. But thankfully we have Bill around and I will be shamelessly quoting him here about the ongoing operation “Steel Curtain” going on near the Syrian border.

Before I go on tho, Bill is going to Iraq next week with the help of many contributers:

A couple of weeks ago I received an invitation to visit and tour the operations environment I’ve been covering here for the last year. That invitation, from senior Marine officers with the Regimental Combat Team – 2, 2nd Marine Division, presents an opportunity for me to provide first hand reporting from Iraq, as well as to continue to provide context to the reports coming from other sources as I’ve done here at the Fourth Rail.

Please contribute to sending him over there so we can get even more first hand account’s from this excellent blogger. I put up his donation picture on my sidebar, click it and donate.

Onto Steel Curtain. Below is a picture of the theatre where operations are taking place:

Bill writes on Nov 13th:

In early August, Iraqi Defense Minister Saadoun Dulaimi laid out the Coalition’s plan to wrest control of the Euphrates River Valley from the grip of the insurgency, and indicated the operation had the political backing to proceed; “Our forces will start from the Syrian border ? till we reach Ramadi, then to Fallouja?We have taken precise measures on the ground and acquired the president’s approval to start the operation.” Since Defense Minister Dulaimi issued his proclamation, Coalition forces have executed Iron Fist in Sa’dah and River Gate in Haditha, and now Steel Curtain directed at Husaybah and Karabilah.

“Husaybah has been cleared and secured”, and it now appears Karabilah has been as well, or if not will be shortly. The Army Times’ Gordon Trowbridge is embedded with the Marines in Western Iraq, and indicates the resistance in Karabilah was light to non-existent. It is believe the bulk of the insurgents either escaped or went to ground. CENTCOM reports over 67 IEDs and mines, and 30 weapons caches have been discovered since Steel Curtain began. Neneteen IEDs, three homes rigged as bombs and one car bomb have been found in Karabilah alone.

And on the 14th:

As we mentioned yesterday, Operation Steel Curtain was not stopping at Husaybah or Karabilah, but would likely push further eastward and address insurgent activity in the towns of Ushsh and Ubaydi. The troops of Steel Curtain are maintaining the pressure and have now shifted the focus of combat operations to Ubaydi. This town was the location of the stiffest insurgent resistance during Operation Matador and another stronghold of the insurgency out west.

The CENTCOM report indicates “Insurgent fighters have been battling with Iraqi and Coalition forces since the operation began at dawn”, indicating an active resistance by the insurgents holed up in the town. Colonel Stephen Davis, the commander of Regimental Combat Team – 2, anticipated a tough battle to dislodge the insurgents; “This is a fight all the way through the city. This area is well bunkered especially up the southwest portion, but it’s what we expected.” An estimated 45 insurgents have been killed and another 25 have been taken prisoner.

And today he had two updates on the operation where it appears the Al-Qaeda forces we’re prepared for a last stand in Ubaydi:

The insurgents and al Qaeda in Iraq appears to have made a stand in Ubaydi as Coalition forces press the fight in Operation Steel Curtain. Coalition forces have engaged bands of terrorists while entering the city in what is described as “sporadic but heavy fighting.” Over fifty of the enemy has been killed. The most recent Multinational West press release indicates the half of the town is now under Coalition control; “Old Ubaydi has been cleared and now the Iraqi Army and Coalition forces are focusing on clearing the al-Qaeda in Iraq stronghold of New Ubaydi”.

The town of Ubaydi is important for reasons other than being an al Qaeda redoubt. There are two bridges over the Euphrates River are located in or near the town. These bridges were destroyed during Operation River Gate with concrete bombs, which denied al Qaeda their use but allowed for relatively easy repair by U.S. forces. Once repaired, the Coalition will control the western most crossing points on the river, reestablish the crossing points for local use, and be able to conduct military operations north or south with greater ease.

And his latest update:

al Qaeda has taken heavy casualties in the western town of Ubaydi. Since the assault force of Operation Steel Curtain moved from Husaybah and Karabilah to Ubaydi early Monday, eighty insurgents and terrorists have been killed in the town, with thirty killed since just last evening. Over 150 insurgents are believed to have been captured since Steel Curtain began

Operation Steel Curtain has had a noticeable impact on the terrorist?s supply chain. Reports indicate 36 weapons caches, including ?several that contained suicide vests and bomb making material?, along with 107 IEDs and multiple homes rigged as bombs have been discovered. These are weapons that will not be able to be used to disrupt the upcoming parliamentary election on December 15th.

Multinational Forces – West also states ?Intelligence reports indicate that the strong resistance to the Iraqi and Coalition push into the city is due in large part to the fact that insurgents believe they are trapped and have nowhere else to go.? The high casualty counts in Ubaydi support this theory.

You need to read the end of his latest update which details a new tactic by Al-Qaeda. The new tactic involves sheep…I won’t give anymore info away no matter how many female panties you put on my head so just give it up and head over to The Fourth Rail.

Too bad you don’t hear this kind of reporting from the MSM.

There is also this story indirectly related to Steel Curtain:

CAMP GANNON, Iraq, Nov. 15, 2005 ? Most Marines will proudly tell you, if asked, one of the greatest and most selfless moments of their lives is when they raised their right hand and swore to serve and protect the country they love.

Lance Cpl. Nicholas M. Zallis, assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion-2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward) serves aboard Camp Gannon alongside his fellow brothers-in-arms.

Normally a motor transportation operator, Zallis is now on a different kind of mission. He is standing guard as part of the camp’s perimeter security. Wedged into a precarious corner of the globe, the native of Chicago scans his new environment for signs of danger.

To his left a sign, ?Welcome to Syria,? while to his right the sights and sounds of combat ring out relentlessly as Operation Steel Curtain sweeps through the city of Husaybah, ridding its citizens of their unwelcome insurgent neighbors.

A little over a year ago, Zallis was nearing the end of his sophomore year at Columbia Art Institute of Chicago. Majoring in photography, he was certain he knew what he wanted to do in his life. But after losing two cousins during Operation Iraqi Freedom I and two more during the invasion of Fallujah, his sense of service became more prominent.

After two more cousins were wounded during the same improvised explosive attack on their convoy from Camp Fallujah to Baghdad, Zallis announced to his family that he was joining the military.

Fearful for their son’s safety, Zallis said his parents did not immediately approve.

?They didn’t want me to join the Marines,? Zallis said. ?I was going to join the Coast Guard as sort of a compromise, but then I really started noticing the Marine Corps commercials and you had to pass their recruiting office to get to the Coast Guard’s so I stuck with my decision.?

[…]?After boot camp I saw my Dad cry because he was so proud. I’ve never seen him cry. I bet he cried when the White Sox won the World Series too though,? Zallis joked.

Zallis was deployed to Iraq within the year where he would serve as an ambulance driver with Al Asad’s Surgical/Shock Trauma Platoon in the country’s volatile Al Anbar province.

But still, he wasn’t as close to the fighting as he expected to be. When his unit asked for volunteers for an upcoming operation, Zallis jumped at the chance.

[…]Zallis said when he was home on recruiter’s assistance last year around Christmas, he stopped to buy some new clothes at the local mall. Not wanting to look clumsy in the Marine uniform he was wearing, he left a number of items with the cashier to hold until he was through shopping. When he returned, the cashier explained that a woman came by and paid for all of his items, leaving only a note thanking him for his service.

Ooh Rah to this young Marine, a job well done.

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