Haditha, about 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, is home to approximately 75,000 Iraqis, a vital hydro-electric power plant, and 28 schools. The Euphrates and Tigris Rivers which originate in Turkey provide the majority of the country's water resources. Two very large reservoirs, the Haditha Dam on the Euphrates and Mosul Dam on the Tigris supply the majority of M&I and irrigation water through an extensive system of dams, regulation and pumping stations, and irrigation and drainage canals.
In order to optimize export capabilities (i.e., to allow oil shipments to the north or south), Iraq constructed a reversible, 1.4-million bbl/d "Strategic Pipeline" in 1975. This pipeline consists of two parallel 700,000-bbl/d lines. The North-South system allows for export of northern Kirkuk crude from the Persian Gulf and for southern Rumaila crudes to be shipped through Turkey. During the 1990/1991 Gulf War, the Strategic Pipeline was disabled after the K-3 pumping station at Haditha as well as four additional southern pumping stations were destroyed. In June 2003, the NOC estimated that it would take "a long time" to repair the K-3 pumping station and resume operations on the Strategic Pipeline. The whole system also reportedly is in need of modernization.
The "T1" station is a crude oil pumping station near the city of Haditha, 150 miles northwest of Baghdad, and 200 miles northeast of the Jordanian border. Under the Jordan-Iraq protocols, oil was delivered by pipeline to the T1 station, where it was then loaded onto trucks for transportation by road into Jordan for use in the Zarqa refinery.
When U.S. Army Rangers seized the Haditha Dam and hydropower complex on the Euphrates River on 01 April 2003 to prevent its possible destruction by Iraqi forces, a potential non-traditional weapon of "mass destruction" had been eliminated from the Iraqi arsenal. The U.S. Central Command decision to employ the rangers to seize the dam was based in large measure on information and briefings from the Army Engineer Research and Development Center's (ERDC) TeleEngineering Operations Center in Vicksburg, Miss. The possible destruction of this critical hydropower facility, located about 125 miles northwest of Karbala, Iraq, posed potential catastrophic effects throughout the country. In addition to its impact on the war fight, the resulting flooding as an immediate aftermath and and lack of water supply during the summer months would have added to the hardships being experienced by the Iraqi people.
As of 01 April 2003 Special operations forces remained in control of the Hadithah Dam. They had seized that to prevent its destruction and the release of certain water flow that would affect the down-river areas particularly near Karbala. The town of Hadithah is just to the south of it. There had been repeated attacks against the force holding the dam by artillery and mortars, and these were being shot by counter special operations units operating from the town of Hadithah. The coalition forces in place have been well-supported by close air support, and that has enabled them to hold the dam. The initial seizure of the dam by special operations forces did occur at night. Initial fires against known targets that were in the area. This is a very robust structure that had 16 floors inside it and underground.
By 10 April 2003 C-17 Globemasters were busy delivering key ground capability to secure the Haditha Dam on the Euphrates River. Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, deputy operations officer for CENTCOM, said that by delivering ground forces to the area, the C-17s relayed a key message to the forces of Saddam Hussein's crumbling regime.
By the end of October 2003 Tiger Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment consolidated as a complete squadron for the first time since entering Iraq on April30th. 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 Marine Corps developed a riverine capability in the late 1980s. It became a fully funded and operational unit really in the late 1990s. The Marine Small Craft Company has been in combat in Iraq since 2003, both on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, and since 2004 securing the Haditha Dam, which has been their primary mission.
With the completion of new transmission projects and the rehabilitation of a turbine unit at Haditha Dam in Haditha in June 2004, for the first time since 1990 all six turbines were in full operation and the clean hydropower plant operated at full capacity, generating 660 megawatts. The progress at Haditha was one example of the strides made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its partners to increase the overall capacity of the Iraqi power system. Work continued as the plant personnel were trained to operate and maintain the new equipment, switchgear and controls. In some cases, these technologies represent advances and efficiencies enjoyed by those in the free world for the last 30 years, but not seen before in Iraq.
The $12 million project overseen by the Corps of Engineers in support of the CPA and its Program Management Office, began 06 February 2004. At times it had employed more than 100 local Iraqi workers, including those who had worked previously at the dam. Previous projects at Haditha included the restoration of transmission lines, under contract with Washington Group International to link the hydropower dam to the Iraqi power grid. Combined, an additional 460 megawatts of capacity has been added to the overall national grid due to the efforts of this partnering team, according to Robert Goss, project manager for the Restore Iraqi Electricity Directorate for the Corps of Engineers.
Terrorist presence and activity have increased in the area. During the early months of 2005, since the arrival of coalition and Iraqi forces, numerous roadside bombs have been discovered in the vicinity of Haditha and numerous indirect-fire attacks have been launched against coalition forces assigned to protect the area. Running across the street in Haditha is not safe. In many cases, though, it's a lot safer than not running across the street.
Haditha is an important crossroads for AQI's smuggling activities from the Syrian border. Once in Haditha, smugglers can go north to Mosul or continue on to Ar Ramadi, Fallujah or Baghdad. Coalition and Iraqi Forces located in western Al Anbar province had seen a recent increase of AQI violence in Haditha. In Spring 2005, insurgents attacked Haditha General Hospital, the largest in western Al Anbar, with a suicide car bomb, destroying more than half of the building with the explosion and ensuing fire. Insurgents also established fortified firing positions inside the hospital and used patients and staff as human shields as they attacked Marines from the hospital and later retreated from the Marine counterattack.
Though Coalition Forces make every effort to minimize collateral damage in local towns and villages during military operations, some damage can occur, such as broken doors and damaged vehicles. The money used to reimburse locals for such damages are more than just reparation payments. When the civil affairs team visits locals to pay them, they can explain that the damages were not caused intentionally or maliciously - which often times means just as much as monetary reimbursement to locals. The Marines are working to improve local communications by repairing the local telephone system, which was destroyed by insurgents so residents can not pass information about insurgent activity to Coalition Forces.
In August 2005 two major attacks killed 20 Marines in one week in Haditha, evidence of shifting tactics. One of the attacks involved small-arms fire, and the other used an exceptionally large improvised explosive device. On 03 August 2005 a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) made out of three bombs put together killed 14 Marines and their translator in an amphibious assault vehicle near Haditha. There was initially speculation that the IED may have been an "explosively formed projectile," which is a more sophisticated explosive used to defeat armored vehicles. It subsequently developed that the improvised explosive device used in Wednesday's attack was not a shape charge, but an ordinary, albeit a very large, bomb. As devastating as the bombing was in Haditha, shaped charges were far more worrying to U.S. troops because they are not just designed to destroy vehicles, but to penetrate armor. The area around Haditha had become a hot spot for terrorist activity because of the easy accessibility to the area and because stepped-up coalition operations had made it difficult for terrorists to leave. Operations were continuing there as planned to deal with this density of insurgents.
On 04 October 2005 the 2nd Marine Division launched Operation Bawwabatu Annaher (River Gate) in the cities of Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Barwana. Approximately 2,500 Marines, Soldiers and Sailors from Regimental Combat Team - 2 and Iraqi Security Force soldiers are participating in the operation, making it the largest operation in the Al Anbar province in 2005. The operation's goal was to deny Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) the ability to operate in the three Euphrates River Valley cities and to free the local citizens from the insurgents' campaign of murder and intimidation of innocent women, children and men. Insurgents would intimidate and threaten any potential local contractors with death or kidnapping for cooperating with Coalition Forces.
In March 2006 Time magazine released a videotape that it obtained at the beginning of 2006, in which residents of Haditha, west of Baghdad, spoke of US Marines carrying out what they described as a massacre against civilians of two families in the cities. The videotape, filmed by a journalist, shows bodies of individuals who had been shot and killed. The magazine quoted residents of the city as saying that US Marines raided two nearby residences and executed 15 individuals, including a three-year old girl, after one Marine was killed in an explosive device blast. The US military said on that day that one US Soldier and 15 Iraqi civilians were killed in the explosion.
The story, as it was published in the magazine, indicated that on the morning of 19 November 2005, a bomb exploded on the side of the road and struck a military vehicle carrying Marines, killing Sergeant Miguel Terrazas. A military statement released the next day indicated that Terrazas and 15 civilians were killed in an explosion that was followed by an insurgent attack on a U.S. military convoy.. U.S. forces returned fire, killing eight gunmen and wounding another. But the truth, as told by Time, seems different. On the morning of 19 November 2005, a remote-controlled missile attached to a gas canister was launched and killed the US Sergeant driving the vehicle and wounded two of his colleagues. According to a nine-year old girl named Iman, Marines raided her home and fired indiscriminately at her family, killing six and wounding her and her eight-year old brother. The magazine quoted military officials who said that the US military investigated the case and discovered that 23 individuals, including 15 unarmed civilians, were killed and that 19 of them were killed by the Marines. Time said that the case was assigned to the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service to find out whether the Marines violated the rules of engagement and intentionally murdered civilians.
By May 2006 the US had spent more than $230,000 in renovations and quality of life improvement projects, such as repairing schools and water pipes in the Haditha Triad area - a Euphrates River Valley-city with about 75,000 people, which is still considered by some as a hotbed of insurgent activity. Detachment One of the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based 3rd Civil Affairs Group, which was comprised of more than 30 Marines, worked throughout Al Anbar Province with local government officials, sheikhs, mayors and other key leaders to identify and jumpstart various reconstruction and quality of life projects designed to rebuild damaged infrastructure in the region.
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