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ON POINT II: Transition to the New Campaign

The United States Army in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM May 2003-January 2005





Part II

Transition to a New Campaign


Chapter 5
Intelligence and High-Value Target Operations

 

The Muhalla 636 Operation


One operation conducted by the 2d BCT, 1st AD, serves as an excellent example of how tactical-level units used intelligence operations to make a significant impact on the security environment in their AOR. In a high profile attack on 26 October 2003, insurgents fired 30 rockets at the Al Rasheed Hotel in northern Baghdad, a large building on the edge of the International Zone and the temporary home of diplomats and members of the press. The attack killed Army Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Buehring and wounded a number of others. However, most of the occupants, including Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz who was visiting Baghdad, remained uninjured. The hotel was within the 2d BCT’s AOR, and Colonel Baker immediately ordered the Iraqi sources and contacts developed by the brigade’s subordinate units to begin collecting information about the attack.

Within 5 days, HUMINT pointed at an insurgent cell located in Muhalla (neighborhood) 636 in western Baghdad. After further developing its sources and information, the brigade had identified 22 individuals who were likely involved in the cell and determined their locations in the city.37 Baker then arranged for non-US personnel to confirm these locations, fearing the sudden appearance of Americans in the neighborhood would cause the alleged insurgents to flee. On 8 November, once surveillance confirmed locations and identities, the 2d BCT sent the Soldiers of two infantry companies, a cavalry troop, the brigade reconnaissance troop, and a battalion headquarters to raid 15 target sites. An FBI team accompanied the brigade units on these raids to gather critical materials, as did a brigade SSE team that included female Soldiers to search the Iraqi women who might be present on the objectives.


New Roles for the New Campaign
Female Search Teams in OIF

Female Soldiers in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM took on an unprecedented set of missions once full spectrum operations began in Iraq. As the Army became attuned to the cultural norms of the Iraqi population, the role of female Soldiers in cordon and search and traffic control operations became especially critical. Arab cultural norms forbid a male touching a woman who is not related to him, especially another man’s wife. To maintain cultural sensitivity and facilitate cooperation between Iraqis and Coalition forces during operations, many units added female Soldiers to the teams that searched houses and vehicles. For example, the leaders of the 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, which operated in the Sunni Triangle in 2003 and early 2004, integrated females from their forward support company into the teams that went into Iraqi homes looking for insurgents and weapons caches. In 2004, units such as the 1st Infantry Division and the 2d Brigade, 2d Infantry Division continued this practice, finding that including their women Soldiers on searches of Iraqi houses often defused tension by making the female inhabitants feel more at ease. These types of operations placed female Soldiers alongside their male comrades in infantry, armor, and other combat arms units. Such novel use of female Soldiers illustrates the dramatic ways in which the US Army reinvented its tactics and techniques to meet the requirements of the full spectrum campaign.

Captain Donald Stewart, Captain Brian McCarthy, and Captain James Mullin,
“Task Force Death Dealers: Dismounted Combat Tankers,”
Armor, January-February 2004, 12.
Erin Solaro, “Lionesses of Iraq,”
Seattle Weekly, 6 October 2004.

The 8 November operation yielded 36 suspected insurgents, 30 computers, and more than 100 boxes of documents that included fake passports and other identification cards. Brigade Soldiers also found weapons and materials to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs). After detention and questioning, brigade leaders determined that the operation had netted 7 members of the cell leadership, 7 Iraqis involved in financing the cell, 4 suppliers and recruiters, and 12 operators.38 In the 3 weeks that followed the raid, the brigade S2 section concentrated solely on interrogating the detained suspects, translating and analyzing the collected documents, and using link analysis—a proven police and intelligence technique of developing information on organized crime and insurgent organizations—to construct a picture of the insurgent cell and its relationships with external figures and agencies. Employing its organic intelligence Soldiers, an attached mobile interrogation team from the division, and daily coordination with the FBI and CIA, the brigade identified 12 additional alleged members of the cell.39 These suspects were picked up and further collection and analysis led the 2d BCT to determine that local businesses and mosques in the AOR had played a significant role in the activities of the insurgent network. A subsequent raid on one mosque, the Umm Tubal Mosque in Baghdad, yielded bomb-making material, insurgent financial records, and individuals suspected of having important roles in the insurgency.40

This intelligence operation, which essentially lasted for months following the initial attack on the Al Rasheed Hotel, had a significant impact on the security environment in Baghdad. The disruption of the cell led to an immediate decrease in IED and mortar attacks on American forces in Muhalla 636. In the long term, the operation greatly improved the 1st AD’s understanding of the organization, financing, and operations of insurgent networks in Baghdad. Colonel Baker’s Soldiers had accomplished these effects not with large-scale cordon and sweeps or other combat operations, but through their own carefully designed and synchronized intelligence operations.


Chapter 5. Intelligence and High-Value Target Operations





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