Operation Marne Roundup
Operation Marne Roundup, a Multi-National Division-Center (MND-C) operation, was launched on December 15, 2007, targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) extremists near Iskandariyah, in north Babil province. This area has housed key supply depots and sanctuaries for AQI. Marne Roundup is the follow-on to Operation Marne Anvil, as part of the corps-level Phantom Strike offensive. Under Marne Roundup, elements of the 4th BCT, 3rd Infantry Division and the 3rd BCT, 101st Airborne, in conjunction with Iraqi Army forces, will conduct ground operations to defeat AQI in the southern Baghdad Belts, by denying the enemy sanctuary and escape routes as they are squeezed from areas south and west of Baghdad. Marne Roundup also seeks to degrade the ability of al-Qaeda to move weapons and ammunition into the capital. Following the clearing of the target area, Coalition Forces will build Patrol Base Khidr and develop a Concerned Local Citizens program (now called "Sons of Iraq") in the area. Coalition Forces also plan to establish a second base, Patrol Base Kelsey, and organize a supplemental Sons of Iraq (SoI) program.
On December 16th, just one day into the operation, Coalition Forces discovered and destroyed an underground network of tunnels northwest of Iskandariyah, along the banks of the Euphrates River. The tunnels had been used by AQI to store weapons and hide fighters. This was the first discovery of a tunnel network in MND-C. That same day, near Al Bawi, a large cache was turned over to Coalition Forces by a newly-formed Concerned Local Citizens group. The cache contained 100 land mines, two 105 mm projectiles, two 120 mm mortars, two 120 mm projectiles, two 152 mm projectiles, 100 pounds of propellant, 7.62 mm ammunition and an explosively-formed projectile casing. The cache discovery followed an operation to clear the main route to Al Bawi, during which Coalition Forces aided the Sons of Iraq in establishing checkpoints along the route. A second large cache, containing over 100 mortars, was also discovered and destroyed on December 17th.
Operation Marne Roundup transitioned to Operation Marne Thunderbolt in the beginning of January, 2008.