Steel Curtain Unmasked

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  1. Steel Curtain Unmasked
    The Story Behind the Battle for the Western Euphrates
    By Bill Roggio
    AL QAIM: The western branch of the Euphrates River, what is know as the Al Qa’im region, which spans from Husaybah on the Syrian border to the town of Ubaydi, at a heart-shaped bend in the river, has long been a haven for al-Qaeda and the insurgency. While the problem was well known, for some time the right mix of forces was not available to address the problem.

    Until these forces were on hand, the Coalition conducted a series of raids to keep the insurgents off balance and from gaining too strong a foothold in the region. Operations Matador, Spear, Quick Strike and a host of others are examples of such targeted strikes. Many insurgent and al-Qaeda commanders and foot soldiers were killed in these attacks, but until the Coalition could muster the forces to stay in the towns, their impact was limited.

    The inclusion of Iraqi forces has been seen as vital to the efforts. These forces would have the knowledge of the local customs and language, as well as the ability to discern between domestic and foreign fighters.

    The development and deployment of the Iraqi forces in the peaceful provinces of Iraq has also freed up U.S. Forces to conduct combat operations in Anbar province. As Iraqi units took responsibility for security in the Shiite and Kurdish regions, as well as in Baghdad, excess U.S. Forces became available to clean out the rat’s nests along the Euphrates River. What was a limited Coalition presence in the Al Qa’im region in March of 2005 has now transformed into a major presence of Coalition forces, and allowed for the successful execution of Operation Steel Curtain.

    Article