In December 2006, before the Counter-Insurgency program known as "the Surge" began, this is how the map of Iraq looked with respect to al Qaida
As of last month, the map looks very different as a result of "the Surge"
Clearly, however improved the map may look, there is still work to be done. And on January 1st, 2008, Operation Phantom Phoenix was launched to hunt down, kill and drive out al Qaida in Iraq
- Operation Phantom Phoenix began on 1 January 2008 and has targeted and degraded extremists and AQI. [Coalition Forces] CF have repositioned two brigades in areas where insurgents have taken a stronghold. There is a significant non-lethal component to the operation which is striving for economic development and improved governance. The non-kinetic operations gain the confidence of the people and solidify gains.
- There have been 10,000 members of the [Concerned Local Citizens] CLC integrated into the [Iraqi Security Forces] ISF with many more to follow. The CLCs will remain on the US payroll as long as necessary. There are members of [Al Qaida in Iraq] AQI and other groups who are trying to infiltrate the CLCs. CF are closely monitoring the CLCs and have already found some who have tried to infiltrate and disrupt the gains of the Awakening Groups. The CLCs are extremely resilient and have faith in the ISF and CF.
- CF are beginning to work with many Shia groups who desire reconciliation. There are still many groups who are supported by Iran and want to see Iraq in a weakened state by inciting violence. Iranians continue to pay and train extremists but CF are unsure whether weapons are still being smuggled into the country.
- The ISF continue to grow and their capabilities as a whole have increased. They are not yet fully equipped, but we are fielding them with the necessary materials. The ISF are much further ahead than they were only a year ago. The ISF have increased their abilities to fight and continue to show steady progress.
- CF are currently releasing more detainees than they are capturing/detaining due to increases in security. TF 134 is working to decide who should be released based on how they have been rehabilitated, what they did to be detained, and how they behaved while detained.
More than 10 targets were hit during an ongoing night air raid against suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq safe havens in Arab Jabour Jan. 20.
The joint operation involved precision air strikes by F-18 fighter jets and B-1 bombers, including Air Force, Navy and Marine aircraft.
The Air Force and Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division worked in coordination to prevent collateral damage, and to prevent use of any area for attacks on Coalition Forces.
The raid follows the Jan. 10 and Jan. 16 air strikes in the same region which hit a combined total of 64 targets with a total weight of more than 80,000 pounds of bombs.
“The strikes that we conducted (Jan. 20) were focused on IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and caches that we have targeted, that will allow us to get our ground troops further into the zone,” said Col. Terry Ferrell, 2nd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. commander. “These targets, the IEDs specifically, are designed as part of the defensive belt to prevent our Forces from entering into areas that we have not been before.”
The raid supported Operation Phantom Phoenix, the overarching operation that includes Operation Marne Thunderbolt, and is aimed at pursuing and defeating extremist elements throughout the country.
Bill Roggio has more