Ramadi is Still a Troubled City

BY Herschel Smith
8 years ago

Ramadi has seen successes recently, not only from action by the U.S. forces, but also from the Sunni tribes, some of which have turned against al Qaeda.  However, al Qaeda is still very active, and Ramadi remains a deadly city with troubled times ahead.

The 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, recently returned home from Ramadi, Iraq.  There is good news and bad news to convey.

During their deployment, the unit had its hands in counter-insurgency operations, detaining more than 300 insurgents, said Lt. Col. Steve Neary, the battalion commander. They also cut the violence in half in the western sections of the city.

“Central Ramadi is a different story,? Neary aid. “There’s contact with the enemy every day.?

A price was paid for that work: 17 Marines from 3/8 were killed and 129 wounded during their seven-month tour.

With the Battalion being roughly 900 strong, this is a casualty rate of 16%.  Ramadi is still a dangerous and restive city.  There have been positive steps regarding al Qaeda.  An associate of Abu Ayyub al-Masri was recently arrested along with 31 al Qaeda suspects, and the pressure is constant on al-Masri himself.  Col. Sean MacFarland attributes the pressure to the cooperation of the tribes in al Anbar.

Attacks against U.S. and Iraqi security forces “are down by 25 percent over the past couple of months,? from 20 per day to 15, MacFarland said.

“Overall, the effectiveness of the enemy attacks has decreased somewhat,? MacFarland said. “This month, particularly, there’s been a noticeable drop-off — I’d say about a 50 percent drop-off in effectiveness.?

[ ... ]

Insurgents, meanwhile, are less willing to face coalition forces head-on, MacFarland said.

“The enemy is shifting to a standoff, low-risk type of attack,? he said. “The number of guys running around in black ninja suits during an attack has been cut by probably two-thirds.?

In the heart of Anbar Province, Ramadi is dominated by tribal sheiks who until recently showed little interest in aligning with Iraq’s new central government.

But earlier this month, the sheiks announced they would band together to flush out insurgent forces.

That change of heart is one of the reasons “the situation [in Ramadi] is beginning to spiral in our favor,? MacFarland said.

There is indeed intense fighting going on between the tribes and al Qaeda.  But al Qaeda is still active.  At the same time that the tribes have turned on them, al Qaeda conducts visible and deadly raids.  Five days ago, they took over a hospital in Ramadi and killed injured police and soldiers.  They have also been accused of robbing banks and government payrolls, killing journalists and human rights workers, and carrying out highway robberies.  We have pointed out that the mission of the U.S. troops has not been to kill or capture al Qaeda, per se, but rather, to train the Iraqis to do it.  We we have also pointed out that the coalition does not gain experienced troops with the addition of the tribal members to battle al Qaeda.  In fact, the demand by the tribes for the coalition to arm them has brought condemnation from some Iraqi military leaders and politicians.

New Iraqi Army Brigadier-General Jassim Rashid al-Dulaimi, from Anbar province, said: “I cannot imagine 30,000 more guns in the Iraqi field. I hope they will reject the idea. Iraq needs more engineers and clean politicians to solve the dilemma of the existing militias rather than recruiting new ones to kill more Iraqis. The idea sounds to me [like] turning the country into a mercenary-recruitment center.”

Shi’ite leader Jaafar al-Assadi said the move would bring more violence. “Al-Anbar will fight even more now with the guns given to those fools,” he said. “They are surely going to sell their weapons to the terrorists or surrender to them sooner or later.”

At least one Sunni tribed has joined up with al Qaeda, and even after al Qaeda is defeated in the al Anbar Province, we have pointed out that the remaining Baathists must be disposed of either by military action or amnesty deals (which the U.S. opposes).


You are currently reading "Ramadi is Still a Troubled City", entry #326 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Iraq and was published October 7th, 2006 by Herschel Smith.

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