Leadership: Combat Operations in Iraq


August 27, 2007: Coalition Forces (CF) operations continued with increased "surge" operations because of recent reinforcements. These operations pressured Anti-Iraqi Forces (AIF) throughout the country, especially the Baghdad area. CF operations focused on areas surrounding Baghdad and Western Iraq. Activity decreased in some areas of Baghdad. Activity in southern Iraq was sporadic and affiliated to Jaish al Mahdi (JAM) and associated Shiite organizations. In the northern half of Iraq, most activity was connected to Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Incidents recorded were mostly attributed to either AQI or JAM. Activity attributed to other groups could not be independently confirmed. This may be an indication of reconciliation. AIF activity comprised 31 percent of all recorded activity.

Operation Phantom Thunder has continued since June 16. The operation consists of four separate operations: Fardh al Qanoon in Baghdad, Marne Torch and Marne Avalanche, southeast and south of Baghdad, Arrowhead Ripper in Baqoubah and local areas, and Mawtani in Western Anbar. The Fardh al Qanoon operation continued to improve security throughout Baghdad, especially the southern districts and the northwest areas of the city. Activity decreased in the northern part of the city, but increased other eastern areas of the city, especially New Baghdad. Overall, total AIF activity decreased throughout the city.

Operation Arrowhead Ripper continued to eliminate an AQI stronghold in and around Baqoubah . Activity in the area indicated that AQI moved from the city into nearby areas. An additional 12 AQI fighters were killed and 156 captured since the operation began in June. In the operations south of Baghdad, operations included clearing the area of AIF and installing or recruiting of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). The operations targeted both AQI and JAM groups in the area.

Western Anbar operations focused on eliminated AQI cells near the Syrian Border. The operations occurred mostly in the Euphrates River Valley, in the area of Al Qaim and Karabila. The most significant event for AQI in July was the capture of Khaled al-Mashhadani on July 4 in Mosul. Al-Mashhadani was the Minister of Information for the "Islamic State of Iraq". After his capture, he revealed that Omar Abu Abdullah al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, was a fictional character created by al-Mashhadani and Abu Ayyub al-Masri, leader of AQI, to put an Iraqi face on AQI operations. Al-Mashhadani also worked as a connection between AQI and Al Qaeda Senior Leadership. Without an Iraqi face on the jihad, AQI will lose local support and be seen as a foreign element.

AQI lost regional and operational level leaders to include local emirs and foreign fighter directors. The loss of these leaders reduces the organizational structure and capabilities. Elimination of experienced AQI members will play a larger role in the loss of AQI capabilities. Over 5,900 individuals have been killed or captured including top tier leaders since November 2006, when AQI announced they supposedly had 10,000 fighters and 20,000 support personnel.

More activity in Baghdad was associated with JAM. Mostly, these consist of murders, explosive attacks, and mortar or rocket attacks. Due to the fragmented organization of the JAM organization, it is difficult to distinguish the actions of particular groups. Iranian support will likely continue for JAM as part of their strategy in the region. In July, additional evidence was found for Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) support for parts of the group. The discovery of Iranian-made weapons and technology show clear evidence for this connection.

Reconciliation efforts have improved over the past months. In the previous months, reconciliation occurred with CF operations against AIF, especially with the 1920 Revolutionary Brigades. As Iraqi Security Forces begin to expand and develop capabilities, reconciliation efforts will improve but will depend on the reduction of AIF morale and motivation. --Jonathan Henry ([email protected])




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