The Fight for Samarra: Full-Spectrum Operations
in Modern Warfare
The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance
of leaders of the 2d BCT (1st ID) as well as Colonel Keith Cooper,
Colonel Wayne Grigsby, and Majors James
MacGregor, Scott Znamenacek, and Steven Maranian.
Shortly after midnight on the morning of 1
October 2004, Iraqi and U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division (1st ID)
forces attacked the predominantly Sunni Muslim city of Samarra,
Iraq, to kill or capture anti-Iraqi forces (AIF) and return the
city to competent civilian control. The operation was deliberate,
precise, and struck the enemy simultaneously from multiple directions.
By noon, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) controlled key government and
religious sites. In slightly more than 2 days of fighting, over
125 AIF were killed, 60 wounded, and 128 detained.
The combined operation of the ISF and Colonel
Randy Dragon's 2d Brigade Combat Team (BCT) swiftly defeated the
enemy and freed Samarra from the clutches of the AIF. Iraqi and
U.S. leaders heralded the operation as a model for the rest of Iraq.1
The Interim Iraqi Government (IIG) had needed a "Sunni victory"
to jump-start a nationwide campaign to deny insurgents safe havens
and set conditions for successful national elections. The 1st ID's
victory at Samarra was the first such victory and had a strategic
effect, both in Iraq and the United States.
However, victory in the battle for Samarra
during the early days of October 2004 marked neither the beginning
nor the end of Operation Baton Rouge, which was a full-spectrum
operation. The fight for Samarra was not won on completion of the
kinetic phase of operations. A months-long division effort along
four lines of operations executed from the strategic to the tactical
level preceded and followed the kinetic phase. In fact, the kinetic
phase much read about in newspapers was not at all the decisive
point in the fight for Samarra. Clearing the city of AIF was necessary,
but not sufficient.
The Road to Baton Rouge
What was decisive to the operation was restoring
control of Samarra to competent, respected Iraqi civil and police
authorities. This required the 1st ID to-
-Prevent a security vacuum from developing
when coalition forces (CF) reduced their postcombat presence.
-Conduct concurrent information operations
(IO) to reinforce the legitimacy of Iraqi civil and security force
-Begin reconstruction efforts to improve the
quality of life in Samarra and give its residents alternatives to
Success in these three tasks required-
-Envisioning a full-spectrum end state.
-Developing a range of options based on changing
conditions in Samarra.
-Setting the right conditions for the decisive
phase of operations before beginning the kinetic phase.
-Applying diplomatic, informational, military,
and economic instruments of power, not only at the IIG and Multinational
Force-Iraq (MNF-I) levels, but down to the company command level.
During the transition phase of operations,
the division expected setbacks, even months after major combat operations
ended. These expectations proved correct. In the Iraqi theater of
operations, decisive does not mean rapid. While the 1st ID won battles
against insurgents elsewhere in Iraq through stability operations
and support operations (SOSO) and relatively low levels of combat
operations, the 1st ID's fight for Samarra is an excellent example
of full-spectrum operations.
Some observers contend that only an Iraqi-led,
nonviolent, negotiated solution in Samarra would have represented
true success. Others point to the rapid execution of the kinetic
phase of the operation as the success. Both are wrong; the former
turned out to be infeasible, and the latter misses the larger picture.
The 1st ID and ISF were close to creating a peaceful solution, but
either through their strength or by intimidation, the insurgents
made a nonviolent solution impossible.
The success of Operation Baton Rouge is that
soldiers, noncommissioned officers, and leaders throughout the 1st
ID combat team understood the nuances of SOSO and combat operations
and simultaneously executed them in such a manner that they-
-Reduced support for the insurgency. -Enabled
a rapid, precise kinetic operation with minimal loss of innocent
life and damage to civilian property. -Facilitated a quick transition
to the decisive phase. -Created an environment in which the most
difficult tasks, those associated with transitioning to Iraqi control,
of the decisive phase could be tackled.
Violence in Samarra
In July 2003, Task Force (TF) 1-66, 4th Infantry
Division (4th ID), established a forward operating base (FOB) in
Samarra after major ground combat operations in Operation Iraqi
Freedom ended. Because of increased insurgent activity in Samarra
and the surrounding area, the 4th ID conceived Operation Ivy Blizzard
in November 2003. Its mission: kill or capture the enemy and return
control of Samarra to the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, later the Iraqi
National Guard (ING) (now the Iraqi Army [IA]). Operation Ivy Blizzard
began on 17 December 2003, but key enemy leaders had fled Samarra
in anticipation of H-hour. By February 2004, many insurgent leaders
had returned to Samarra to regain their influence in the city. After
the transfer of authority (TOA) from the 4th ID to the 1st ID in
March 2004, Samarra remained restive.
In April 2004, attacks against coalition forces
in Samarra increased from 5 to 15 a week as a result of uprisings
in Fallujah and Najaf. Some ISF personnel deserted or collaborated
with the enemy. On 30 May 2004, TF 1-26 (the Blue Spaders), which
had assumed responsibility for Samarra after the TOA, began Operation
Spader Strike, encountering stiff resistance when it sought to kill
or capture highpayoff targets.
Samarra had become a safe haven for several
hundred insurgents and foreign fighters and was plagued by the rivalries
of crime families and 7 major and 11 minor tribes, all vying for
influence. On 2 June 2004, Samarra's city council president resigned,
and a person known to have connections with AIF replaced him. Four
days later, provincial police reinforcements arrived to help bring
the city under control, but most abandoned their posts or collaborated
with the enemy. In June, the commander of the 202d ING Battalion
deserted his post, and most of his soldiers followed suit. He was
later murdered in the streets of Baghdad.
A local security vacuum quickly emerged, and
the enemy launched sporadic, unorganized attacks against coalition
forces. Several civilian leaders presented the police a list of
demands and promised an end to hostilities if CF and ISF vacated
the city. In early July, enemy forces shifted their focus to the
202d ING Battalion headquarters located just outside the city across
the Tigris River at Patrol Base (PB) Razor. One week later, a suicide
bomber dressed in a police uniform and driving an Iraqi police vehicle
attacked the headquarters with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive
device (VBIED). Nearly simultaneously, AIF attacked PB Razor with
small arms and indirect fire. Five Blue Spaders lost their lives;
20 others were wounded.
The 2d BCT isolated the city by closing the
Tigris River bridge, the only approach into Samarra from the west.
A major operation to reassert control over Samarra became necessary.
With MNF-I and Multinational Corps-Iraq (MNC-I), the division had
been planning for a month what would later be called Operation Baton
Rouge. The key question was, "What must be done to ensure long-term
The Campaign Plan
After enemy attacks in and around Samarra
during the spring and summer, including the perfidious VBIED suicide
attack at PB Razor, it would have been easy for 1st ID leaders to
see Samarra as a relatively straightforward problem; that is, as
a densely populated urban area of 250,000 people under the control
of several hundred enemy forces the 1st ID had to capture or kill.
However, viewing the fight for Samarra through
the lens of the campaign plan enabled 1st ID leaders to see a host
of complex problems with no quick or easy solutions. The 1st ID
would have to envision the full-spectrum end state, wage a deliberate
campaign, and set conditions for its decisive phase. Otherwise,
any victory would be short-lived, and the insurgents would quickly
fill any power vacuum. Operation Baton Rouge would be a full-spectrum
Task Force Danger was a 22,000-soldier-strong
1st ID task force responsible for four provinces of northcentral
Iraq.2 Task Force Danger's mission and
commander's intent (derived from the MNF-I campaign plan) set forth
four lines of operations:
3. Economic development.
Full-spectrum operations, which were necessary
to break the cycle of violence within the provinces of northcentral
Iraq, would simultaneously-
-Execute intelligence-driven combat operations
to kill or capture AIF while also equipping, training, and mentoring
ISF. -Forge relationships with civic, religious, and tribal leaders
and empower them to establish functioning local governments. -Rebuild
the nation's infrastructure and economy. -Change attitudes. -Give
Iraqis alternatives to the insurgency.
In short, any operation in Samarra had to be
driven by and nested within the overarching campaign plan. Developing
a range of options in response to changing conditions in the city
was also important.3
On 16 July 2004, Operations Plan Baton Rouge
was approved as a four-phase operation. Phase I was to set conditions
and conduct reconnaissance and preparation. During Phase II, forces
were to isolate the area. Phase III included search and attack operations.
Phase IV was the transition-and decisive -phase. Phases I through
III could be adapted to changing conditions or eliminated altogether.
Task Force Danger employed the 1st ID's fires
and effects coordination cell (FECC), led by Division Artillery
Commander Colonel Rich Longo to develop the effects the division
desired to achieve across the battlespace. The division devised
programs to achieve lethal and nonlethal effects along the four
lines of operations and synchronized them to maintain unity of effort
throughout the battlespace. Setting the conditions in Samarra was
a subset of this larger effort.
Governance. The 1st ID defined the line of
operation as the engagement of ISF, provincial, city, religious,
and tribal leaders. The 1st ID's experience in the Balkans led it
to name this group the "sphere of influence" (SOI). Task
Force Danger engaged with the SOI daily at all levels. Company commanders
engaged village or neighborhood leaders and individual sheiks; battalion
commanders engaged groups of sheiks, city councils, and mayors;
brigade commanders engaged provincial governors, and governing and
imam councils. The commanding general met monthly with all four
provincial governors at a governors' conference and convened a sheiks'
council, which gathered the senior and most influential sheiks from
across the area of operations (AO).
Task Force Danger took the line of operations
one step farther by developing the Iraqi Senior Advisory Council
(ISAC), whose members were prominent academics, doctors, former
military officers, imams, sheiks, and other elites. The ISAC met
bi-weekly and was useful in enabling TF Danger to see the situation
in Samarra through the eyes of the Iraqi people. More important,
the relationships the task force developed with council members
The 1st ID required its major subordinate commands
to appoint ministry coordinators (MCs) to work with ministers at
the provincial level and frequently at the national level in Baghdad.
For example, the 1st ID Engineer Brigade, led by Colonel Bill Haight,
was responsible for the ministry of oil and ministry of electricity.
The ministry of oil MC worked with Iraqi officials to ensure Samarra
had ample supplies of fuel, heating oil, and natural gas on hand
after the cessation of hostilities. The ministry of electricity
MC worked with ministry representatives to restore and improve electrical
service to Samarra and to turn off power quickly to any part of
the city to take advantage of night-vision optics during military
operations. The relationships, trust, and confidence ministry coordinators
forged with their Iraqi counterparts were critical to the mission.
Communications. Any spectacular enemy attack
made headlines around the world. In our opinion, the international
news media, including major U.S. television networks and print media,
largely emphasized negative events, especially during the period
leading up to the U.S. presidential election. Of course, the enemy,
using media representatives sympathetic to his cause, waged disinformation
campaigns to discredit the Iraqi government and coalition forces,
which called for a proactive, agile, and coordinated IO, psychological
operations (PSYOP), and public affairs (PA) battle drill to correct
inaccurate or incomplete reporting. This team never allowed such
reporting to go without a response of nonlethal "counterfire."
As an example, the task force expected the
enemy to fight from mosques, use human shields when crossing open
areas, and intentionally gather in congested areas. When the enemy
later confirmed these expectations during Operation Baton Rouge,
some news agencies were inclined to report the few (although tragic)
deaths of innocent people and attribute them to the wanton use of
overwhelming U.S. firepower-a totally false conclusion. The IO/PSYOP/PA
team prepared and coordinated talking points for leaders to counter
these reports. Subsequent coverage by all major news agencies reported
the story correctly. The enemy had used innocent people and holy
sites as shields, and CF and ISF had been careful to respond with
the appropriate level of precision fires.
Furthermore, insurgents often indiscriminately
launched rockets and fired mortars in cities throughout northcentral
Iraq. After one attack in Tikrit, an international news agency reported
that civilians were killed because they were caught in crossfire
between U.S. forces and insurgents. Within an hour, the IO/PSYOP/PA
battle drill resulted in broadcast and publication of accurate reports
and on-the-scene coverage by local media for independent verification
of the facts. Both Arabic and international agencies began reporting
the correct story, using talking points written by the division.
The key was never letting an inaccurate report go by without an
attempt to correct it. One measure of effectiveness was that such
efforts resulted in Iraqi and several international news outlets
regularly checking facts with the division PA officer before publishing
Task Force Danger banged the good news drum
loudly, not only to obtain balanced and accurate reporting globally,
but to inform the Iraqi people of the genuine progress being made
to restore order and to convince them their security forces and
leaders were capable. If the drumbeats were many and frequent, public
awareness of progress could create an irreversible momentum toward
representative government and prosperity. The task force seized
the IO initiative and isolated the enemy from the populace.
Units throughout the division produced daily
"drumbeats"- simple one-page English and Arabic summaries
of good news stories across the four lines of operations-and distributed
them to media outlets and higher headquarters. After the 28 June
2004 transfer of sovereignty in Iraq, the drumbeats increasingly
emphasized the growing proficiency and independence of governmental
bodies and security forces. To increase the IIG's credibility in
the eyes of the Iraqi people, the FECC generated IO themes, messages,
and talking points and disseminated them to leaders down to squad
The division also held regularly scheduled
press conferences, issued an average of more than 120 press releases
per week, and took painstaking care to remain impartial and transparent.
Task Force Danger encouraged leaders and soldiers to talk to the
press and routinely embedded journalists and reporters with units.
"Embeds" from the major news networks and print media
proved invaluable during Operation Baton Rouge. Embedded reporters
gained a perspective on the situation in the division's AO that
was impossible to obtain in Baghdad. On many occasions, journalists
commented they had been unaware that so much was happening in the
AO until they were embedded with units. Reporters embedded with
units before and during Operation Baton Rouge had unfettered access
to soldiers and leaders, witnessed the events of the operation as
they unfolded, and gained an appreciation for CF and ISF accomplishments,
the difficulties inherent in restoring Iraqi control to Samarra
and moving the city forward. As a result, Iraqi and international
audiences enjoyed fair and balanced reporting.
The commanding general recorded radio addresses
every week, and brigade and many battalion commanders hosted radio
or television talkshows with their Iraqi counterparts. After the
transfer of sovereignty, the division did not halt these efforts.
It prepared Iraqi leaders for appearances in front of the camera
or behind the microphone and held events that enabled tribal, religious,
and ethnic leaders to come together to discuss pressing issues.
The explosive growth of media attendance at, and the enthusiastic
public participation in, these events demonstrated their effectiveness
in building public confidence in governance. These participatory
activities provided peaceful, constructive outlets for social pressures
created under Saddam Hussein's regime.
In addition, a mobile broadcast station located
at a FOB 10 kilometers from Samarra broadcast IO messages and Iraqi
music as part of a sophisticated IO campaign to discredit the AIF
and gain the support of Samarra's residents. The task force distributed
thousands of handheld radios throughout Samarra to support this
The net effect of the 1st ID's communications
lines of operations was that Samarrans saw that a better life was
possible if they supported (or at least did not actively oppose)
CF and ISF efforts to free Samarra from AIF control. Overt support
of coalition forces was risky for the average Samarran because of
the level of intimidation in the city before Operation Baton Rouge.
After the kinetic phase of the operation, however, human intelligence
(HUMINT) tips and active reporting to the city's Joint Coordination
Center spiked, providing ISF with actionable intelligence daily.
The 2d Ministry of Information (MOI) Battalion, which was assigned
duties in Samarra after the kinetic phase of Operation Baton Rouge,
conducted over 200 raids during the next 5 months, using information
Samarrans provided. The people of Samarra knew the AIF stood in
the way of progress and a return to normalcy. The 1st ID's communications
operations reduced the pool of opportunists or fence-sitters available
to insurgents and criminals.
Economic development. Another way to drive
a wedge between the people of Samarra and the AIF was to improve
the quality of life in the city and give Samarrans an alternative
to the insurgency by putting them back to work. The 1st ID used
economic development and reconstruction in several important ways,
showcasing progress on this front in other parts of the region to
demonstrate to Samarrans what they were missing. The 1st ID emphasized
that progress would come to Samarra only after the city met certain
conditions. Task Force Danger sought to meet people's needs, but
also leveraged them to ensure its time and resources were well spent.
Once CF and ISF cleared the enemy from the city, the task force
began construction projects to build the credibility of newly installed
leaders. The rapid start of projects bought leaders enough time
to get the city back on its feet and gave fence-sitters an alternative
to the insurgency. To this end, 22 high-impact projects that would
generate large numbers of jobs were identified before the first
shot was ever fired. Contracts for projects valued at $10 million
were let under the Accelerated Iraqi Reconstruction Program.
Security. Killing or capturing AIF in Samarra
was necessary. However, to ensure success, the 1st ID had to set
other conditions before beginning kinetic operations. Perhaps the
most critical was sustaining a stable, secure environment. The division
had to not only kill the enemy but prevent a security vacuum from
developing after combat operations ended. To accomplish this, CF
and ISF remained in Samarra while the task force recruited, trained,
and equipped a police force of 1,200 officers-an ongoing task. The
division allocated additional combat power to the 2d BCT to weight
the division main effort.4 With the
exception of TF 1-26 and the 1-4 Cavalry, which operated in and
around Samarra, units attacked from the march and withdrew back
to their areas of responsibility within 96 hours. The division tactical
command post, led by Brigadier General (BG) John Morgan, controlled
this complex facet of the operation. In a battlespace the size of
West Virginia, the division decided where to take risks everyday,
but leaving vacuums in battalion sectors for long periods of time
was unacceptable. ISF were needed in Samarra.
The 2d BCT received help from the IIG's MOI
and the ministry of defense (MOD) to integrate elements from six
Iraqi battalions into the concept of the operation.5
The 1st ID made it clear to the IIG it was unwise to begin Operation
Baton Rouge without these Iraqi forces in place because they increased
the overall size of the force to prevent a power vacuum and demonstrated
that the ISF was potent and credible. Unfortunately, the new IIG
bureaucracy moved slowly and allocated these forces to the division
just days before execution of the operation. The governor of Salah
Ad Din Province promised to supply hundreds of provincial police
to Samarra after the cessation of hostilities. At a nearby FOB,
the task force stockpiled force-protection materials to harden government
buildings and police stations and readied equipment, weapons, and
new vehicles for the police force, including several mobile police
stations, which TF Danger engineers fabricated using milvans.
Operation Baton Rouge was a test for the new
IA battalions. A few of the battalions had previously been put to
the test and the results had been unsettling. In April and June
2004, soldiers of the poorly led and not well-trained 202d IA Battalion,
based in Samarra, deserted their posts in the face of the enemy.
Task Force Danger and the 2d BCT set out to rebuild the 202d IA
Battalion from the ground up by finding the right leaders, recruiting
soldiers loyal to the cause, and training and equipping the organization
while it was out of contact with the enemy. Two cohort classes of
new recruits were trained at a division training facility in Tikrit.
This approach proved effective and later served as a model for training
Samarran police. An important point is that these new recruits for
the 202d IA Battalion did not come from the Samarra area. This prevented
AIF in the city from threatening and intimidating the soldiers'
families, which would have severely affected the unit's effectiveness.
The plan to retake Samarra permitted only the
ISF to enter sensitive sites (such as the famous Golden Mosque),
an aspect intended to send another important message to the Iraqi
people. The nativespeaking ISF also provided a much quicker reaction
to HUMINT gleaned from Samarrans and detainees and could recognize
foreign fighters and Iraqis who were not from Samarra.
The division learned an important lesson from
Colonel Dana Pittard's 3d BCT (the Dukes) operating in neighboring
Diyala Province: even with additional ISF, coalition forces should
not leave Samarra during the transition phase. In June 2004, the
3d BCT routed the enemy from Baqubah, a city once a hotbed of insurgent
activity. The Dukes never left Baqubah after major combat operations
concluded; they maintained a strong, unobtrusive presence but responded
forcefully to any enemy move, which emboldened the ISF. Coalition
forces would thereafter have a permanent foothold in the city. Staying
in Baqubah filled the ISF with confidence and sent a clear message
to the AIF that it could not exploit a vacuum. Accordingly, Operation
Baton Rouge called for the 2d BCT to maintain a foothold in Samarra
at permanent patrol bases, later named Uvanni and Olson (after two
U.S. soldiers killed in action during the fight for Samarra).6
In mid-July, with Operation Plan Baton Rouge
planning complete, 1st ID leaders joined the MOI and MOD at strategic
planning group and senior advisory council meetings in Baghdad to
discuss courses of action. Naturally, all involved desired to resolve
the situation in Samarra peacefully, and the IIG wanted to explore
Shaping operations. Task Force Danger began
shaping operations to deny the enemy time to set his defenses while
the IIG deliberated. On 22 July, the 2d BCT conducted Operation
Cajun Mousetrap I, the first of three shaping operations. Operations
Cajun Mousetrap II and III followed on 5, 13, and 14 August. In
total, an estimated 59 insurgents were killed, and the Mousetrap
operations allowed the 2d BCT to gather critical intelligence about
how and where the enemy intended to fight, which allowed the brigade
to employ its combat power more effectively during Phases II and
III of Operation Baton Rouge. Not surprisingly, the shaping operations
persuaded prominent leaders and residents of Samarra to seek a peaceful
resolution to the crisis.
Conditions for peace. In late August, the 1st
ID commanding general and the 2d BCT commander told Samarran leaders
the city had to meet four conditions before the Tigris River bridge
would reopen. Samarrans had to-
1. Identify and seat a new mayor and city council.
2. Install a new chief of police capable of
exercising control of the security situation.
3. Cease insurgent activity.
4. Provide CF and ISF unimpeded access throughout
The division communicated these conditions
and its IO themes and messages to selected SOIs- prominent sheiks
and imams-who lent legitimacy to these negotiations. By 10 September,
Samarra had reseated a city council and selected a police chief,
and CF and ISF had entered the city for the first time in several
weeks with unimpeded access. As a result, the 1st ID opened the
bridge over the Tigris River for limited periods of time. Because
Samarra had met the outlined conditions, the 2d BCT moved directly
to Phase IV of Operation Baton Rouge. Coalition forces and local
leaders consulted and finalized contracts for 22 high-impact reconstruction
and infrastructure improvement projects.
A spike in violence. Regrettably, the halt
in insurgent activity was short-lived. Between 10 and 19 September,
the AIF attacked CF and ISF no less than 83 times. On 16 September,
Samarra's acting chief of police buckled under intimidation and
resigned. Enemy activity spiked the following day. On 19 September,
the 2d BCT again closed the Tigris River bridge and prepared to
return to Phase I-B.
Even though the conditions required to resolve
the situation peacefully were not upheld, the 1st ID's attempts
to reach a nonviolent solution gave the CF and ISF legitimacy for
future operations and enabled the sheiks to convince Samarrans not
to support the insurgents or resist CF and ISF operations.
Meanwhile, the 7th and 202d IA Battalions moved
into staging areas near Samarra. The 7th IA began rehearsals and
training with the 2d BCT. Having additional ISF assets was beneficial,
but their reception and staging proved to be a challenge for the
already strapped Division Support Command (DISCOM), the 167th Corps
Support Group, division engineers, and the 264th Combat Engineer
Group. Led by BG Steven Mundt, the DISCOM and the engineers quickly
executed a superb plan to build a FOB from the ground up to accommodate
the 7th IA Battalion. Without adequate facilities, these Iraqi soldiers
would have simply returned home. Because the ISF's participation
was a critical element to success, the 1st ID simply could not let
The kinetic solution. By the end of September,
through violence and intimidation, the enemy had rendered Samarra's
government and police force ineffective. Samarrans wanted to resolve
the situation peacefully, but the insurgency reached levels that
city leaders and the fledgling police force found unmanageable.
The IIG acknowledged that a kinetic solution was unavoidable. On
28 September, the IIG reached a formal decision to conduct offensive
operations to defeat the insurgency.
Shortly after midnight on the morning of 1
October, CF and ISF began Phase II of Operation Baton Rouge, a well-rehearsed,
deliberate, precise strike from multiple directions to kill or capture
the enemy. By noon, key government and religious sites were under
ISF control and the enemy was largely defeated.
Baton Rouge Continues
Coalition forces and ISF now controlled the
city, but the most difficult challenges still lay ahead. As expected,
generating a police force was the long pole in the tent of transitioning
to Iraqi control. Progress came slowly. On several occasions in
November 2004, concurrent with Operation Al Fajr in Fallujah, a
number of insurgents returned to the city to target the police force,
killing 15 policemen in one raid.
By mid-November, Samarra had seen 6 different
chiefs of police in 6 months, and the provincial governor had not
followed through on his promise to supply hundreds of provincial
police. In fact, Salah Ah Din Province largely washed its hands
of Samarra after the MOI appointed an interim administrator to direct
police operations, thus removing any incentive for the province
to invest time and resources in the city.
Although efforts to build the police force
had been moving slowly, the MOI's December decision to remove provincial
authority over Samarra's police force reversed much of what had
been accomplished in the previous 2 months. By January 2005, however,
the 1st ID had regained traction in establishing a cohesive police
force, and on 3 February the first cohort of 280 policemen began
an intensive training program in Tikrit, out of contact with the
enemy. A new, competent, dedicated police chief accompanied the
Notwithstanding the rocky start in establishing
the police force, other ISF operating in the city soon began exerting
pressure on the remaining insurgents and criminals that once held
Samarra hostage. The loss of more than 90 AIF weapons and munitions
caches to CF and ISF after 1 October 2004 severely hurt the insurgents.
Intelligence-driven raids to capture or kill AIF continue to knock
the enemy off balance, keep him on the move, and limit his ability
to conduct deliberate operations or acts of intimidation. The insurgents
were unprepared for and unable to defend against the MOI's Special
Police Commando Battalion exploitation force. The MOI's soldiers
are gradually reducing the pool of AIF combatants, denying the AIF
fresh recruits, and earning the trust and confidence of Samarrans.
After Action Report
Life in Samarra has returned to normal. Schools
are open, businesses are recovering, and power and water services
outpace pre-Operation Baton Rouge levels. The high-impact projects
coordinated with local leaders in September began immediately after
the conclusion of combat operations, and an additional 136 projects
valued in excess of $15 million were identified early in Phase IV.
Four months after kinetic operations, 46 projects had been completed
and 44 were in progress. Working through MNC-I, the division secured
over $25 million from the IIG for Samarra's reconstruction. In November,
the division pushed for and received an additional $10 million in
U.S. funds to maintain forward momentum in the city.
Although Samarran Sunnis are still apprehensive
about their role in the new Iraq, insurgents and criminals no longer
hold Samarra hostage. Operation Baton Rouge instilled hope of a
brighter future in Samarra, and there is no turning back. In the
words of one sheik, "We are proud that Samarra did not turn
out like Fallujah."7 Successful
elections on 30 January locked in the irreversible momentum. The
citizens of Samarra now have an alternative to the insurgency.
Coalition forces are still working the decisive
phase of Operation Baton Rouge. A true victory- long-term security
and stability under competent civil and police authorities-will
require persistence and patience. However, operations thus far appear
to have validated the Army's doctrine of full-spectrum operations-kill
or capture the enemy, change attitudes, and provide alternatives
1. See "Rumsfeld Sees
Retaking of Samarra as Model: Defense Secretary Outlines Three-Step
Process for Defeating Iraqi Resistance," The Washington Post,
5 October 2004, A20. See also "Rumsfeld: Samarra is Model,"
Cincinnati Post, 5 October 2004, A4. For comments by interior minister
Falah Naqib and national security adviser Qassim Daoud, see "U.S.,
Iraqi Forces Control Samarra; Sporadic Fighting Continues After
Major Offensive North of Baghdad," The Washington Post, 3 October
2004, A30; "Aided by Iraqis, U.S. Seizes Part of Rebel Town,"
The New York Times, 2 October 2004, A1; "Americans and Iraqis
Press Effort to Secure Samarra," The New York Times, 3 October
2. North central Iraq
consists of Salah ad Din, Diyala, Kirkuk (formerly At Ta'mim), and
As Sulaymaniyah provinces.
3. Leaders of the 2d
Brigade Combat Team (BCT) developed the concept of developing a
range of options, which allowed the BCT commander to choose from
a menu of lethal and nonlethal actions based on the dynamic situation
4. 1-4 Cavalry, Task
Force (TF) 1-26, TF 1-18, TF 1-77, TF 1-14, the 2-108 Infantry (IN),
C/1-150 IN, TF 1-7, the 9th Engineers, and 1-1 Aviation. Task Force
1-7 was based on 1-7 Field Artillery (FA), the direct support artillery
battalion for the 2d BCT. Minus several gun sections, the battalion
trained and deployed as a motorized infantry battalion task force.
Task Force 1-14 is a light infantry battalion assigned to the 2d
Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (ID). The 2-108 IN is an air assault
infantry battalion from the New York National Guard. Both 2/25 and
2-108 IN were attached to TF Danger during Operation Iraqi Freedom
(OIF) II. The 1-150 IN is part of the 30th BCT (North Carolina National
Guard). The 30th BCT was also attached to TF Danger during OIF II.
5. Iraqi Security Force
(ISF) formations included the 201st, 202d, 203d, and 7th Iraqi Army
(IA) Battalions, the 1st Ministry of Information (MOI) Special Police
Commando Battalion, and the 36th Commando Battalion.
6. Patrol Base Uvanni
was named in honor of SGT Michael A. Uvanni the only soldier lost
during Operation Baton Rouge, Phase III, 1 through 4 October 2004.
Uvanni, a member of C Company, 2d Battalion, 108th Infantry, New
York National Guard, was killed by sniper fire on the morning of
1 October. A second patrol base (PB), originally named PB Casino,
was later renamed PB Olson in honor of SSG Todd Olson, C Company,
1-128 IN, Wisconsin National Guard, who was killed in Samarra on
26 December 2004.
7. Sheik Najmi made
this statement at a December 2004 Iraqi senior advisory council
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