Today in the Army Times
HAQLANIYAH, Iraq — The U.S. military launched a major offensive early Tuesday in a cluster of cities in the Euphrates River valley, an operation aimed at insurgents using the area as a safe haven in a region where 20 Marines were killed in August.
It was the second U.S. offensive launched against al-Qaida in Iraq militants in the western Anbar region in four days.
Air strikes by U.S. warplanes and dozens of helicopters set off explosions that lit the city skylines of Haqlaniyah, Parwana and Haditha before dawn Tuesday. Bridges across the Euphrates River between Haqlanaiyah and Haditha were bombed to prevent insurgents from using them.
About 2,500 U.S. Marines, soldiers and sailors, and hundreds of Iraqi troops, took part in the operation, codenamed River Gate, the largest U.S. offensive in Anbar this year, the military said. More Iraqi soldiers appeared to be participaing in the operation than any other offensive conducted in the region.
The military reported some U.S. casualties but wouldn’t give details. No information was immediately available on insurgent casualties.
“The operation’s goal is to deny Al-Qaida in Iraq the ability to operate in the three Euphrates River valley cities and to free local citizens from the insurgents’ campaign of murder and intimidation of innocent women, children and men,” the U.S. military said in a statement.
On Saturday, about 1,000 service members launched a separate U.S. offensive, Operation Iron Fist, farther to the west in the Euphrates River valley near the Syrian border in the village of Sadah and two nearby towns, Rumana and Karabila.
Iron Fist, which continued Tuesday, was aimed at al-Qaida in Iraq insurgents who receive reinforcements and supplies from Syria. At least 57 insurgents have been killed, the military said, and one Marine was reported killed. Soldiers with air support were conducting house-to-house searches for militants.
Now read this editorial by Richard Perle
, published May 2, 2003, the day after Bush declared major combat ended beneath a "Mission Accomplished" sign on the USS Abraham Lincoln. (Link via Operation Truth
RELAX, CELEBRATE VICTORY
by Richard Perle
From start to finish, President Bush has led the United States and its coalition partners to the most important military victory since World War II. And like the allied victory over the axis powers, the liberation of Iraq is more than the end of a brutal dictatorship: It is the foundation for a decent, humane government that will represent all the people of Iraq.
This was a war worth fighting. It ended quickly with few civilian casualties and with little damage to Iraq's cities, towns or infrastructure. It ended without the Arab world rising up against us, as the war's critics feared, without the quagmire they predicted, without the heavy losses in house-to-house fighting they warned us to expect.
What can one say?