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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 8
Combined Arms Operations in Iraq


Major Combined Arms Operations

All US Army maneuver units in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 participated in large-scale operations. The majority of these operations, however, consisted of raids, cordon and searches, and other counterinsurgent-type operations coordinated to occur simultaneously across numerous AORs throughout much of Iraq. Put more simply, most of the large-scale operations were synchronized in time but not in space. Operations such as DESERT SCORPION, which began on 15 June 2003 and continued for 2 weeks, consisted of a series of raids on suspected insurgent sites and follow-on stability operations conducted simultaneously in many parts of the country. DESERT SCORPION included the 1st AD in Baghdad, the 4th ID in the Sunni Triangle, the 101st Airborne Division (101st ABN) in Mosul, and the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment (3d ACR) in Al Anbar province. Operations at division level often shared these characteristics. In Baghdad, for example, the 1st AD launched Operation IRON HAMMER on 12 November 2003 in response to increased insurgent attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. During IRON HAMMER, the division directed its subordinate units to conduct an increased number of patrols, IO, intelligence-gathering missions, and raids throughout the city as a way of blunting the attacks and demonstrating to the population that Coalition forces would not allow the insurgent network to grow unimpeded.15 Operations like DESERT SCORPION and IRON HAMMER put a great deal of pressure on insurgent networks across specific areas. However, in reaction to the dispersed and elusive nature of the insurgent network, these operations did not normally focus the combat power of brigade-size elements on any one limited geographic objective.

Still, at critical times in 2003 and 2004, Army commanders decided to launch large-scale combined arms combat operations, usually in response to the concentration of insurgent forces in specific cities. These cases are important to the full understanding of how Coalition forces managed the shift between stability and major offensive actions, the type of transition that is fundamental to the concept of full spectrum operations. The operations described below are examples that demonstrate how the Army attempted to wield its advantages in training, firepower, and technology against an irregular enemy and offer important insights into how the Army integrated information warfare, stability operations, and reconstruction efforts into what was often very intensive combat.

Chapter 8. Combined Arms Operations in Iraq

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