Commander in Ramadi confident that no major offensive is needed
July 15, 2006
ARLINGTON, Va. — A U.S. commander in Ramadi said he is confident that coalition forces can pacify the city without the type of offensive seen in Fallujah in 2004.
“And with each new section of Ramadi that we move into and establish a control base and begin to move out into the neighborhoods, I become more and more confident that a Fallujah-type of offensive is not going to be necessary, certainly not across the entire city,” said Army Col. Sean MacFarland, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.
Speaking to Pentagon reporters via teleconference Friday from Ramadi, MacFarland did not rule out entirely the prospect of an operation against insurgents.
“There’s always the chance the enemy may establish a final redoubt that has to be reduced by force,” he said.
Of the insurgents now in Ramadi, foreign fighters and al-Qaida terrorists are few in number but carry out almost all of the suicide bombings, MacFarland said.
The majority of insurgents are either “rejectionists,” who refuse to accept the Iraqi government, or criminals, he said.
Applying lessons learned last year in Tal Afar, troops in the brigade have been working since June 11 to cut off insurgents in Ramadi from being resupplied and reinforced, MacFarland said.
MacFarland stressed that coalition efforts in Ramadi will be different than those in Tal Afar, which culminated in Operation Restoring Rights to drive insurgents from their safe-havens.
For example, MacFarland said he has no plans to build a berm around Ramadi because he feels he can control access to the city using roadblocks.
“Operation Restoring Rights was a great success up in Tal Afar, but each area is a little bit different, and Ramadi is a little bit different from Tal Afar and it’s different from Fallujah, and the approach that we’re taking now of clearing, holding and building one neighborhood at a time is the approach that we’ll stay with,” he said.
As part of the clear, hold and build strategy, MacFarland said he plans to demolish about a dozen derelict buildings around the government center in Ramadi that provide cover for insurgent snipers and roadside bomb triggermen.
The move is intended to improve security for U.S. troops and also bolster the local Iraqi government, MacFarland said.
“That will help the government workers feel safer about coming to work and that help, in turn, get the provincial government accelerating towards control of the province,” he said.
MacFarland went on to defend the planned demolition as a positive step for Ramadi. “People sometimes liken that to destroying a village in order to save it — absolutely nothing of the sort. These buildings are already destroyed, and what we’re really doing is accelerating the further renewal and rejuvenation of Ramadi by just taking them down,” he said.