web counter Media Lies: Kicking ass and taking names

Monday, November 29, 2004

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Kicking ass and taking names

The coalition, building on its success in Fallujah, is even more successful in Operation Plymouth Rock, an effort to clean out the "triangle of death". The triangle, so called because of the number of bombings and assassinations occuring there, is the "safe haven" that terrorists fled to, abandoning their more radical comrades in Fallujah.
The operation, code-named "Plymouth Rock" (because it was launched Thanksgiving week), began last Tuesday when Coalition forces struck enemy forces in the town of Jabella, some 50 miles south of Baghdad. The strike was followed by a series of precision raids — conducted by a 5,000-man combined force of U.S. Marines, members of the famed British Black Watch regiment, and Iraqi soldiers — aimed at cleaning out a region of southern Baghdad and northern Babil Province known as the Triangle of Death. The triangle — its three points connecting at Fallujah, Baghdad, and then south to Najaf — is located just below the Sunni Triangle where the Coalition has focused much of its efforts over the past several months.
These are the guys who, like bin Laden, Zarqawi and Arafat, are more than happy to have others die for their cause while they studiously avoid contact with the enemy - what we in America would call "cowards".

However, they're dying now.
In the Triangle of Death, Coalition raids have been characterized by collecting and processing intelligence on a specific enemy stronghold, planning a raid, then attacking that stronghold with a modicum of surprise by units trained to fight both as shock-troops and room-clearing commandos. In nearly all cases, large numbers of insurgents have been killed or captured, weapons caches seized, and new intelligence gleaned which serves planners for the next raid on the next town.

It's not an easy task. An estimated 6,000 insurgents — former members of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard, followers of Abu Masub Al Zarqawi who slipped through the Fallujah net, as well as unemployed locals or those coerced into fighting the Americans — are believed to be operating in the region.

Still, the success of Plymouth Rock has been overwhelming. And much of that success can be attributed to the Iraqi SWAT team (see here), a U.S. Marine-trained police-commando force that reportedly leaves postcard-size calling cards at raid sites that say, "Are You a Criminal or Terrorist? You Will Face Punishment."
Good to see the Iraqis have a sense of humor.
Capt. Thomas "Tad" Douglas, commander of the Marine Force Reconnaissance platoon that has trained and led the Iraq SWAT team since July, points to a bond between his Marines and the Iraqi commandos that is as strong as any found in any elite unit in the world. With that combined force "we are taking advantage of the enemy while he's reeling from Fallujah to push the fight to them," Douglas told NRO on Thanksgiving Day. "We conducted a combined ground/air assault yesterday with my Force Recon guys and Hillah SWAT [the Iraqi SWAT team is also known as Al Hillah SWAT because most of the team members are from the town of Al Hillah], and it went off flawlessly, netting us 43 detainees."

Douglas, a key leader in the dramatic rescue of Army Pvt. Jessica Lynch in April 2003, added, "To my knowledge, this is one of the first successful joint Iraqi/American air assaults."
"Experts" say (my father used to tell me that "expert" is a compound word made up of "ex" = "former" and "spert" = "drip under pressure") that the Iraqis won't be able to take over their own defense for some time to come.

Tell that to the Hillah SWAT team. :-)
Col. Ron Johnson, commander of the 24th MEU, tells NRO that the operations have been seamless and effective. "We can tell by the reaction of the enemy," he says. "We can tell by the increase in their activity, for example the fever pitch at which they're laying IEDs [improvised explosive devices]. We're starting to suffocate them, and they're panicking. We have a large target list, and we're going to continue to stay after them."

On Thanksgiving Day, elements of the 24th MEU, the 1st battalion of Britain's Black Watch, and the Iraqi SWAT team attacked a number of targets near Yusufiyah, netting 81 guerrillas (55 bad guys for the Americans and Iraqis, 26 for the British).
Are you worried about the future of Iraq?

I'm not.