CHESTER HAS MOVED!: The Triangle of Death: The End of Zarqawi?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Triangle of Death: The End of Zarqawi?

The Belfast Telegraph has some interesting tidbits about Operation Plymouth Rock, the offensive through the Latifiyah, Mahmudiyah and Yusufiya triangle: "Lieutenant Colonel Mark Smith, the commander of the 2nd Battalion based at Mahmudiyah, said: "We have insurgents returning home from Fallujah and finding us on the way. With Fallujah over, the action has moved here. This is now the most dangerous place in Iraq. Increasingly, we are coming up against Zarqawi's people; they are better armed and better trained." "Lt-Col Smith had just returned from an all-night operation, and still had camouflage paint on his face. The raid, on a farm, followed information that Zarqawi was hiding there. They did not find him, but, Lt-Col Smith said, they caught two senior militant leaders." "We have had lots of engagements and we have killed a lot. We keep on getting reports that Zarqawi is in this area. If he is we shall find him and we shall capture or kill him." More: "Lieutenant Michael Loring Mayne, who was involved in the battle at Yusufiyah, said: "What is very noticeable is that we are coming across well-trained fighters. In Yusufiyah they carried out a fighting withdrawal. That is not easy; it needs skill and discipline. We faced some pretty fierce and sustained fire and some of it was at pretty close quarters, some of my guys were pretty badly hurt." The 2nd Battalion mentioned is probably 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, a reserve unit from the midwest, apparently attached to the 24th MEU. The battalion landing team for the 24th MEU is 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, from Camp Lejeune, NC. Here's an in-depth piece on Col Ron Johnson, the Commanding Officer of the 24th MEU. Interesting, but of course, the anti-war tone is ubiquitous in the British press, and this story is no exception. UPDATE: A reader has asked my opinion of the fighting withdrawal. This is referring to a tactical withdrawal, not an operational one. For example, the relocation of a large group of insurgents from Fallujah to the Trianlge of Death could be termed an operational movement (displacement, or withdrawal). But this context implies an insurgent defense of a particular piece of terrain, followed by a fighting withdrawal to another piece of terrain, or town nearby. The fact that they are fighting while moving means they have more skill than average; the fact that they are moving means we are hurting them enough to make them do so, certainly good news.


Blogger Miss Prissypants said...

Could you comment on the "fighting withdrawal" - is it truly significant? And do you think this and the statements that the fighters seem more skilled and better armed means Zarqawi is really around this area?

Thank you for keeping us up to date.


November 23, 2004 at 10:43 PM  
Blogger Brian H said...

Blankets left for Marines in Falluja by grateful residents.

November 23, 2004 at 11:25 PM  
Blogger tequila rose said...

It’s too bad that the British press has to distort the facts to sell papers. Many Americans have come to read stuff like that with an ocean of salt. Media loses credibility every time they put out stuff that lowers morale. The turnover in media elite over the next five years will be interesting to watch. Here is a response by the photographer who taped the shooting in the Mosque. Open Letter to Devil Dogs of the 3.1 He pretty well tells it like it is. Very upfront with the consequences of his decisions he struggled to make.

November 24, 2004 at 5:20 AM  
Blogger JarheadDad said...

Yes, that would be 2/24. They relieved 2/2 in the Mahmudiyah AO. Mahmudiyah itself was pacified twice by 2/2 and remains relatively quiet now. 2/2 was pulled out to the first Fallujah fight last April and upon their return had to re-stablize Mahmudiyah. That is a large AO (800 sq kms) and the the most problematic areas are definitely Latifiyah and Yusufiya. The largest weapons caches to date were found in that area. Buried in massive underground complexes.

It'll be interesting to see if Plymouth Rock can pin Zarqawi down. His resources are dwindling rapidly but he still has strong support in Latifiyah where much of the same type of slaughter houses, mosque weapons caches, anti-coalition imams, and local populace intimidation can be found a la Fallujah. He's running out of support and logistics quickly though!

I totally agree with your seam theory on rotations. I know 2/24 didn't get much time with 2/2 before the Warlords rotated stateside but the funny thing about Marines is that they catch on fast! ;-)

That large of an AO is tough on a single BN but with support from another BN and the Blackwatch they will be able to pacify the AO in short order. I'll be interested to see how the next rotation plays out with the elections. But you will have large numbers in IIMEF that have already deployed to Iraq so the transition will be much smoother. Some for the third time also and that experience is invaluable. JMHO!

November 25, 2004 at 7:39 PM  

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