Iraq Report: Expanding Security In Diyala

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Jared Young
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WASHINGTON D.C. - Today, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), issued its latest Iraq Report on Diyala that provides a timely history of operations in the province during the last year. The report, Expanding Security in Diyala, is the tenth report in the series, and is released in conjunction with The Weekly Standard. The expansion of security discussed in the report has paved the way for the recent Iraqi led offensive, which was launched only weeks ago. The full report can be found at http://www.understandingwar.org/report/expanding-security-diyala .

Security operations in the 'Breadbasket' area have provided key developments that have improved security conditions in both Diyala Province and Baghdad,"report author Eric Hamilton said. "Diyala was once a strong hold for al Qaeda in Iraq. As current operations have shown, there is still some work to be done, and the recent offensive highlights the importance of holding terrain. The security dynamics in Diyala Province demonstrate the continued need for Coalition forces to defend against al Qaeda in Iraq."

Iraq Report: Expanding Security in Diyala - Points of Interest

  • Throughout 2007, Coalition forces and Iraqi Security Forces made Diyala Province the main effort for security operations in northern Iraq.
  • Battles in Baqubah, Muqdadiyah, and rural areas in Diyala Province soon proved to be some of the toughest fighting in the Iraq War.
  • Despite a concerted and largely successful offensive in 2007, pockets of al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) remained in Diyala. As a result, Coalition forces adopted a 'concentric rings' strategy (a process of securing the population center by setting a security perimeter then gradually extending the security perimeter outwards) to establish and maintain security.
  • As the operations advanced, Coalition forces built Iraqi police and military facilities, and initiated reconciliation efforts to establish effective tribal and government relationships. They also engaged the populace to foster trust and rebuild the economy.
  • In early 2008, responding to increasingly-effective Coalition operations, AQI shifted its tactics from Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) to a campaign of suicide bombers using men, women, and even handicapped persons. In the first few months of 2008, over twenty female suicide bombers effectively detonated their explosives, aggressively targeting the Sons of Iraq (SOI) organization in Diyala.
  • In response, Coalition forces accelerated their operations to target top AQI leadership and cut lines of communication in a campaign that disrupted AQI's suicide bombing networks in Baqubah and Southern Diyala.
  • By spring 2008, Coalition forces were employing SOI groups to hold terrain taken back from AQI.
  • This emphasis on holding terrain via local security volunteers has largely contributed to security gains. However, given AQI's vigilance, it is important for the Coalition to continue partnering with Iraqis to maintain the security gains.

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