Peace Like A River

It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Thursday, November 17, 2005

quick update on Steel Curtain

This from CentCom today, indicating post-combat type activities are already underway in Ubaydi, as well as Husaybah and Karabilah.

Construction of bases for the Iraqi Army and U.S. military’s long-term security presence is steadily progressing in Husaybah, Karabilah and Ubaydi. Simultaneously, Iraqi Army Soldiers and Marines continue patrolling to ensure terrorists do not return. These patrols also involve detailed searches, looking for hidden weapons caches and deadly improvised explosive devices. Approximately 120 bombs and mines have been located over the course of Operation Steel Curtain.

Three aspects of the operation which makes Steel Curtain different from previous operations in the western Euphrates River Valley are increased Iraqi Army participation, immediate establishment of long-term security presence, and Iraqi Army Soldiers taking the lead in security and care of the citizens temporarily displaced by the operation.

The press release highlights how involved Iraqi troops are in this operation, involvement without which this kind of operation could not have happened.

Approximately 1,000 Iraqi Army Soldiers took part in Operation Steel Curtain. During Operation Romhe (Spear), conducted in this same area last June, fewer than 100 Iraqi Soldiers took part.

Today, more than 15,000 Iraqi Army Soldiers are stationed in al Anbar province and recently locally-recruited Soldiers are joining and operating with Iraqi Army units and U.S. forces. The Desert Protectors, recruited from the al Qaim region, fought alongside Iraqi Army Soldiers and Coalition forces in Operation Steel Curtain.

Iraqi Army Soldiers provided security and helped facilitate the care and well-being of residents displaced from their homes due to the operation. Iraqi Army Soldiers provided perimeter security and screened displaced civilians to weed out al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists trying to infiltrate the shelter areas. Iraqi Soldiers also helped to distribute thousands of meals, blankets and health and sanitation items to their fellow citizens.

The NYTimes has an article telling how 5 Marines were killed yesterday.

The sequence of events was not clear, Marine commanders said, but testimony by survivors indicated that a squad had just entered a farmhouse in eastern Ubaydi when an explosion occurred, possibly from a hand grenade or a homemade bomb planted by rebels. The blast inflicted at least one casualty, and as squad members struggled to extract the fallen marine, insurgents hiding in the house attacked them with small arms and "a lot of grenades," said Col. Stephen W. Davis, commander of Regimental Combat Team 2, Second Marine Division.

The dead and wounded were recovered from the farmhouse, and 16 rebels in the house and its vicinity were killed in the gun battle, the commander said.

Here is a video clip of an interview with Col. Davis.

(The page dates the interview at November 9, but Col. Davis said they were concluding "Day 6" of the operation, which began November 5.)

In it, Col. Davis says (at the time) the operation was going "moving ahead much more quickly than we envisioned that it would."

The CentCom press release also says "Operation Steel Curtain continues."

As mentioned the operation began in Husaybah on November 5. The operation moved to Karabilah on November 10. The operation then moved to Ubaydi on November 14. I would expect in the next day or two we will see Steel Curtain move to another target.


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