The border town of Al Qaim at the western edge of Anbar province is about a mile from the Syrian border. Al Qa'im is located on the Syrian border along the Euphrates River about 200 miles northwest of Baghdad.
The word "al-Qaim" means "firm" or "steadfast." Muhammad al Mahdi (the guided) is the 12th and last Imam of the Twelver Shi'i, and is also known as al Qa'im (the one to arise).
On 07 April 2005 insurgent fighters took over Al-Qaim and forced Iraqi army units and police to leave the city. More than 70 'Iraqi policemen' deserted their positions. An influx of 150-200 Resistance fighters from the neighboring cities of Hit, Haditha and Fallujah joined the battle.
On 10 April 2005 insurgents launched a rocket attack on the American military base near Al-Qaim. With an Egyptian accent, an American announcer challenged the fighters: "If you are brave men, then come out and fight us. If you want paradise, come out from your hiding and fight us face to face and man to man and don't be like women by striking us and withdrawing like cowards". The challenge was not heeded.
On 11 April 2005 over 100 military vehicles advanced on Al-Qaim from Ain-Assad American military base in Hit. American leaflets warned women and children from aiding or hiding Resistance fighters.
Families fled the Iraqi town of al-Qaim following the start of an offensive on 07 May 2005 by US troops against insurgents linked with wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was believed to be taking refuge in the city. By 12 May 2005 more than 100 families from the town had moved to A'ana, some 75 km from al-Qaim. An unknown number of families have fled to Rawa and Haditha, some 70 km to the northeast.
The main hospital in al-Qaim was reportedly attacked during the fighting, according to local doctors. US forces said they believed insurgents were hiding inside. Eight people were reported to have been killed inside the building by the hospital's deputy director. The offensive, codenamed 'Operation Matador' was one of the biggest US offensives in Iraq since militants were driven from the city of Fallujah several months earlier.
By the end of May 2005 hundreds of families remained displaced on the outskirts of the town, 320 km west of the capital, Baghdad, following clashes between US forces and insurgents in the second week of May. According to the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) nearly a thousand families were displaced and living in the desert of al-Jazera'a, west of al-Qaim but were returning when the offensive ended, leaving only 100 families there.
On 11 June 2005 US fighter planes launched airstrikes near the Syrian border, killing about 40 insurgents who were stopping and searching civilian cars. Seven missiles were fired at heavily armed insurgents near Karabilah, close to Qaim. The insurgents had set up a barricade on a main road to the city and were threatening Iraqi civilians. The coalition aircraft and fighter jets and attack helicopters from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing attacked the insurgent compound and surrounding area targeting the armed men.
FOB Tiger / Tiger Base
On 02 May 2003 1st PLT was attached to A/1-3ACR and moved with the A/54th Company Commander to FOB Tiger located at the Al Qaim Rail Yard, a 130km movement. 1st PLT conducted a route recon of RTE LOGROAD during movement to FOB Tiger. They also conducted a recon of an extensive Iraqi ASP vic KC 3070 along the route. Company HQ remained integrated in the 1-3ACR TOC at OBJ Weber. A&O PLT remained at OBJ Weber awaiting movement of 1-3ACR's main body up to FOB Tiger. 2nd PLT remained at OBJ Weber awaiting the arrival of and attachment to C/1-3ACR. A&O PLT remained at OBJ Weber awaiting movement of 1-3ACR's main body up to FOB Tiger. 2nd PLT (minus 1st SQD) remained at OBJ Weber awaiting the arrival of and attachment to C/1-3ACR. A&O platoon repaired approximately 65% of the holes in the fence around FOB Tiger, the train station, with concertina wire and barbwire ties.
As of mid-October 2003 about 1,000 soldiers from the 1st Squadron of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR), based in Fort Carson of Colorado Springs, Colorado, were stationed in al-Qaim. The 3rd ACR has converted an abandoned train station into home and called it Tiger Forward Operating Base. There is a cafeteria, or chow hall with a Pueblo motif painted on its walls. The men of the 3rd ACR police a porous Syrian border 195 kilometers wide. They studied historical patterns and compiled intelligence to establish Named Areas of Interest, or locations where people are known to cross borders.
By the end of October 2003 parking was at a premium at Tiger Base, as Tiger Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment consolidated as a complete squadron for the first time since entering Iraq on April 30th. The consolidation took place at Tiger Base near the border town of Al Qa'im. The assumption of responsibility for the Al Anbar province by the 82d Airborne Division allowed the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment to reorganize its largely spread-out Tiger Squadron. Tiger Squadron covered over 20,000 square kilometers of Iraqi's western desert before the consolidation. Units were spread between three different operating bases at Al Asad Airbase, Haditha Dam, and Al Qa'im. The squadron's area of responsibility now covers just over 14,000 square kilometers along the border of Iraq and Syria.
The consolidation in Al Qa'im allowed the squadron to focus and concentrate both its intellectual and tactical energy in a battlespace that includes roughly 195 kilometers of the Iraqi-Syrian border. They were unable to do this efficiently while operating split-based and more in depth. Securing the border is critical to the stability of Iraq. The consolidation of the squadron also allowed many soldiers to meet comrades that they had not seen in nearly six months.
Camp Al Qaim
Lt. Col. Christopher Woodridge, commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment officially transferred authority of Camp Al Qaim and their area of operations to Lieutenant Colonel T.S. Mundy, commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 2d Marine Regiment in a ceremony held 09 March 2005. The battalion deployed to continue stability and security operations in and around Al Qaim for roughly seven months, which was the same amount of time 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment was in the area. The battalion's primary mission was to continue assisting the Iraqi Security Forces in preventing this influx into Iraq by helping them assume responsibility for their region.
The Marines at this forward operating base provide air support to Marines operating in this region. A variety of job specialties have a place in Al Qaim, but one area of expertise lies in the hands of skilled Marines...Marines skilled in the art of controlling aircraft. These eight Marines have guided a growing number of flights to either takeoff or approach at this desert-landing site. A small strip of asphalt has been transformed from road to landing field. Although vehicle travel in the form of tanks, amphibious assault vehicles, supply convoys and other traffic continues to charge through here, this piece of pavement gives priority to helicopters of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. With their headquarters, Marine Air Control Squadron 2 (Forward), located in Al Asad, Iraq, these Marines, Marine Air Control Squadron 1, have deployed to this western air field to provide a key ingredient to air support.
The Marines of Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron 269, Detachment Al Qaim were very busy since arriving at this remote base near the Syrian border. The 'Gunrunners' deployed to Al Asad in February 2005 and immediately sent a small detachment of personnel and aircraft to Al Qaim. They participated in Operation Matador and provided close air support, conducting armed reconnaissance, escorting convoys and flying over the areas where Marines from 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment conduct operations in the desert.
Camp Husaybah Camp Gannon
Camp Gannon, formerly known as Camp Husaybah, is located in the town of Husaybah near the Syrian border. The border crossing at Husaybah recieves a lot of traffic and is a well-known entry and exit point for smugglers. The camp itself is located in an abandoned warehouse.
The camp was renamed to honor Major Richard J. Gannon. Major Gannon was killed in action on April 17, 2004 trying to save three members of his company. He was commanding officer of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. He recieved the Silver Star.
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