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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Isn't That A Ride At Disneyland?

Some news for you all on Phantom Thunder.

What? You don't know what Phantom Thunder is? Not surprising as the media has hardly said two words about it (except for this morning's NYT to report that its failing because much of the Enemy's top ranks have fled.)

The "Battle for the Belts" is underway and our boys are smashing through AQI in what is the largest combined arms operation since the end of "major combat operations" in 2003. The Baghdad security plan has been largely successful with a large drop in sectarian violence and a severe disruption of AQI activities (although sadly, not enough to prevent the "bomb a day" headline grabbers.)

The problem is that violence has migrated outward into the "belts" around Baghdad. Now that the surge has started (last week) our valiant troops are engaged in a massive cordon, sweep and destroy operation in the belts - the largest being in Baquba (Operation Arrowhead Ripper.) Below is some coverage that you won't get i the NYT:

BillRoggio gives the update after one week:

Operation Phantom Thunder, the corps coordinated operation across three theaters in the Baghdad Belts, has completed it seventh day. Ground forces commander Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno gave a briefing on the operation. To date, Coalition and Iraqi forces have killed 159 al Qaeda fighters and other insurgents, wounded 41, and detained 721 suspects. Coalition and Iraqi forces found and destroyed 304 roadside bombs, seven car bombs and 128 weapons caches.
AJ Strata gives another update and commentary on the sad state of reporting on the battle:

We are rounding up or killing al-Qaeda. While al-Qaeda’s top leaders may have fled for now, they have left their forces surrounded and taking a pounding. The leaders will have no forces to lead, and it is doubtful new recruits will run to sign up with leaders who run from a fight and who have lost two capitol cities of the modern caliphate in less than a year.
Finally, Michael Yon, brilliant as always, gives the ground's eye view on the eve of battle:

Thoughts flow on the eve of a great battle. By the time these words are released, we will be in combat. Few ears have heard even rumors of this battle, and fewer still are the eyes that will see its full scope. Even now—the battle has already begun for some—practically no news about it is flowing home. I’ve known of the secret plans for about a month, but have remained silent.

This campaign is actually a series of carefully orchestrated battalion- and brigade-sized battles. Collectively, it is probably the largest battle since “major hostilities” ended more than four years ago. Even the media here on the ground do not seem to have sensed its scale.


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