Operation Marne Torch I

Operation Marne Torch, a month-long operation subordinate to the Corps-level offensive Operation Phantom Thunder, aimed to clear al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) elements from the agricultural areas along the Tigris River southeast of Baghdad, particularly in the Arab Jabour region. Al-Qaeda in Iraq had used these sparsely populated areas as a logistics base for operations in the city, particularly for supporting its strongholds in Dora, Haider, and Mechanics. The broader operational concept of Operation Phantom Thunder was the simultaneous execution of clearing operations in all of the Baghdad Belt areas, so as to deny Al-Qaeda the opportunity to regroup elsewere.

Drawing on resources made available by the “Surge,” particularly the arrival of an extra infantry battalion (1-30th Infantry) for Arab Jabour, Multi-National Division – Center (MND-C) conducted a series of kinetic and non-kinetic operations aimed at clearing AQI from these areas. These operations denied AQI safe haven and prevented them from moving so-called “accelerants of violence” – men, material, vehicle-born improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), and funds – into Baghdad. In addition to conducting raids targeting AQI figures and facilities, U.S. forces established additional patrol bases and began conducting presence patrols in Hawr Rajab, south of Baghdad, and in Arab Jabour, to the southeast of the capital. These presence patrols were accompanied by efforts to stimulate the development of local governments and economic enterprises.

Operation Marne Torch resulted in 1,152 structures cleared, 83 insurgents killed, 278 insurgents detained, 51 caches found, 51 boats destroyed and 872 citizens entered in a biometric identification system. Although U.S. forces aimed to transition from clearing to holding after about a month of operations, AQI proved sufficiently deep-rooted and Iraqi Security Forces too immature to make the transition so quickly.

In mid-July 2007, MND-C transitioned to Operation Marne Avalanche