Something I meant to point out and comment on last week was Bill Roggio’s most excellent analysis of current operation in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad.
I noted that the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, part of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, began moving into the area about a month ago and that excitement immediately ensued.
Iraqi and Coalition forces have conducted several operations, including an air assault, against al Qaeda targets and their puppet Islamic State of Iraq in an attempt to dislodge the terror group from Diyala. Over 2,000 plus al Qaeda are thought to have fled to the province since the inception of the Baghdad Security Plan in mid February, and the security situation has markedly decreased since then. Al Qaeda has been conducting a terror campaign to remove leader who oppose them, intimidate the local population and keep the tribes from supporting the government.
In January, MO noted that many Al Qaeda operatives were fleeing Baghdad ahead of the “surge” (see: The surge: Already succeeding?) and that many were headed to Diyala. Getting them out of the capital was a huge victory for the plan, and as these guys will probably be fairly hesitant to head into Iranian territory, this could be a chance to destory many of them in place.
Also, the fact that they’ve headed northeast into Diyala rather than west toward Anbar could mean that maybe Anbar isn’t quite so friendly to murdering terrorist foreigners and Baathist insurgents as previously.
Roggio says that we’re “prepping the battlefield” in Diyala while the situation in Baghdad develops and the reinforcements from the States arrive.
The Diyala Campaign will not kick into full gear until the full compliment of U.S. forces are deployed into Iraq (this should be completed by late May or early June of 2007). Until then, the Iraqi government and Multinational Forces Iraq are working to lay the groundwork for local support by fostering the creation of a Diyala Salvation Front.
Meanwhile, during the prepping, see the latest Baghdad Security Operation Order of Battle which includes
In Baghdad, the establishment of neighborhood security stations and troop deployments in support of the Baghdad Security Plan continues. The Joint Security Station (JSS) concept, which puts Iraqi Army and police and U.S. troops directly inside the neighborhoods, has proven so successful that the number of stations has expanded. There are currently 54 JSS and small Combat Outposts (COP) inside Baghdad. Major General William Caldwell stated 76 JSSs and COPs will be built and that the Baghdad Commander, General Aboud, is considering building 104 stations.
Good stuff, and you should be reading Roggio every day.