Operation Vigilant Resolve
April 5, 2004
Operation Vigilant Justice began on or about April 5, 2004 (some reports put the date as early as April 4) in an around the Al Anbar Province and was designed to pacify violent elements in the area. The operation was conducted by U.S. Marines and Coalition forces. Coalition forces began preparations for Operation Vigilant Resolve following the March 31st killings of four contractors in Fallujah, and the five soldiers near Habbaniya.
Marine Aircraft Group 16 moved elements of its Marine Light Attack Squadron 167 in support of Vigilant Resolve on April 5 and 6. A small contingent of aviation maintenance Marines, aircrews and helicopters was sent to the Sunni Triangle area to bolster forces already in place there conducting missions in the city of Fallujah.
I Marine Expeditionary Force continued to execute Operation Vigilant Resolve on April 6, 2004 throughout the Al Anbar Province and in several cities known to harbor anti-Iraqi forces. Operations from the Syrian border to the Baghdad suburbs resulted in the capture or death of a significant number of anti-Iraqi Forces and foreign terrorists. To the west, a combination of the ongoing efforts in the Husaybah and Al Qa'im regions are undercutting the ability of the anti-Iraqi Forces to import foreign fighters, cash and equipment. Heightened operations to the east, to include the cordon around Fallujah and combat operations in other major cities in the Al Anbar Province, are drawing out anti-Iraqi Forces.
The citizens of Ar Ramadi remained in their homes during the engagement. Several calls from Iraqi citizens to the Coalition tip line aided Coalition Forces in identifying, isolating and combating the terrorists. Throughout the fight, members of the Iraqi Police Service and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers secured key city government facilities and helped control traffic in and out of the city.
When the fighting subsided, Ar Ramadi remained under the supervision of the governor of the province, the chief of police and the Iraqi security forces.
As of 8 p.m. on April 6, the Iraqi Police Services and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps were providing security for the residents of Ar Ramadi. Coalition Forces are monitoring the situation and ready to provide support in the event that terrorists resume hostilities.
On April 8, one F/A-18 Hornet from Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW-7), flying from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) in the Arabian Gulf conducted a 20-mm strafing run against an enemy position. Another F/A-18 dropped two 500-pound GBU-12 laser-guided bombs on another enemy position in Fallujah, Iraq, on April 9. The F/A-18s were from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131. Both Hornets were recovered safely aboard the Norfolk, Va.-based carrier. An assessment of their missions is being conducted.
At noon on April 9, Marines and Coalition forces unilaterally suspended combat in Fallujah in order to hold meetings between members of the Governing Council, the Fallujah leadership and the leadership of the anti-coalition forces, to allow the delivery of additional supplies by the relevant departments of the Iraqi government and to allow residents of Fallujah to tend to their wounded and dead.
Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 161, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, provided support to Marines operating in Al Fallujah, Iraq, during Operation Vigilant Resolve. The unit, during that deployment was tasked with casualty evacuation.
Of the 250k-300 thousand population, it appeared that during April 2004 the insurgency totaled around 20 thousand. Some Iraqi police were reinforcing the insurgents and ICDC-giving them ammo, and Red Crescent Ambulances dropped off ammo and weapons and then picked-up bodies. The typical insurgent came out and fired at the Marines roughly half a dozen times each dayr day, exposing himself for only a couple of seconds. There seemed to be one to two dozen groups of "Hard Core," or "Minute Men," each with approximately two dozen members armed with IEDs, MGs, lots of RPGs, mortars, and some anti-aircraft weapons.
The Marines divided Fallujah into four quadrants. The Order of Battle on 24 April 2004 consisted of 2/1 in the NW, 3/4 (ME) w/2 tanks in the NE, 1/5 w/6 tanks in the SE, and 2/2 w/4 tanks in the SW. The Marines were supported by AC-130 at night, F-15s and Cobra's in the day. However, the Cobra's were limited in their ability because of the threat from ground fire. The Marines were equiped with Advanced Combat Optical Gunsights (ACOGs) on only a quarter of their weapons. The US approach was to isolate via cross-streets, tanks, and back-clear. The insurgents fought from hard points, vehicle QRF, IEDs, rigged houses, and melted away to fight again.
The typical roof top in Fallujah consists of a wall approximately 4 feet high. The Marines learned to sand bag roof tops to build them up for snipers and mortars. Sniper use was heavy, especially, as FOs and covering the long axis of the roads. They became the main element once the Marines got into a static situation. The typical Marine sniper had 31 kills (one kill every 3-4 hours). The Marines had limited laser designation ability for mortars since there were no lasers designators at platoon and below. The PSYOPS teams were used to "bait" the insurgents [lots of Metallica was played]. Maps were not standardized at all levels, especially grid designation, and there were constant worries that units were working off of different maps. Everyone had city graphics-down to fire team. Marine platoons were organized with almost company strength.
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