Operation Marne Dauntless
On May 15, 2008, MND-C kicked off Operation Marne Dauntless, which has a similar operational concept to Operation Marne Piledriver, an operation conducted in April in the area around Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad.
Marne Dauntless seeks to build government and Iraqi Security Force capacity and defeat extremists in the Mada'in Qada, which lies east of Baghdad. The operation will specifically aim to create jobs, while providing locals with better infrastructure, improved health care, more water for irrigation, and cleaner water for drinking. These development projects will rely on approximately $7 million in Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) funds for short-term, immediate impact projects while using Government of Iraq funds to ensure that the projects are maintained over the long-term. The Iraqi Government has improved its delivery of funds to Mada'in Qada. In 2007, the government spent $1 million in the district; so far in 2008, it has spent over $86 million.
MND-C is kicking off this operation as the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division relieves the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. According to 3rd HBCT, 3rd ID commander Col. Wayne Grigsby, the ability to build capacity is due to the security that his brigade was able to deliver to the region during its fifteen month deployment. When the brigade first moved into the Mada’in Qada, it was experiencing an average of four or five attacks per day. By the end of the deployment, that average has dropped to approximately one attack every other day.
Much of this success was the result of successful operations against al-Qaeda in Iraq and Shi'a extremist groups during the Troop Surge. These operations included Operation Marne Torch I, Operation Marne Anvil, which sought to make inroads into territories previously controlled by Sunni and Shi'a extremists and Operation Marne Grand Slam, which sought to terminally disable Sunni extremist groups in the Mada'in Qada. For more information on these operations, see Backgrounder #28: MND-C's Operations During the 2007-2008 Troop Surge.
In addition to economic and governance development, Marne Dauntless aims to eliminate lingering Shi'a criminal elements that support Shi'a extremists inside Baghdad. The operation will see Iraqi Security Forces take the lead in targeting these networks through intelligence-driven operations, with Coalition forces providing support to ensure that these groups cannot conduct attacks or smuggle munitions into Baghdad.
Though other efforts seem to have put the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in the lead prematurely, the 3rd Infantry Divison's planners believe that they have shepherded the ISF in Mada’in Qada to the point where they are ready to take the lead. In order to better provide security and build capacity, the Iraqi National Police will establish a presence in the northern Jisr Diyala area (which is immedietely east of Baghdad) and Narhwan (which is several miles further east of Jisr Diyala). There are also plans to construct a new Iraqi Police base and to expand a nearby Coalition combat outpost to accommodate joint operations. This will enable the ISF to embed their forces more deeply among the population which will in turn provide the Iraqi government with a stronger link to areas that had previously been insurgent sanctuaries.