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IRAQ: The results were stunning

April 27, 2008 |  6:28 am


Iraqi troops have made two major assaults in recent weeks on Shiite militia forces in the oil city of Basra. For the second — more successful — of the assaults, the Iraqi government called in troops trained by U.S. Marines in Anbar province, west of Baghdad.

The after-action reports of that assault, in which a Marine lieutenant was killed, are now becoming available. The battle was dubbed Operation Charge of the Knights.

Col. Robert Castellvi, senior military advisor to the commanding general of the Iraqi army's 1st Division, is giving high marks to the troops trained by his Marines. Two brigades and a headquarters company moved 500 kilometers with 48 hours' notice and within 24 hours of arriving were engaged in combat.

Castellvi writes:

"They fought their way into a city that had been taken over by Shi'a militias and in less than one month's time conducted five major operations, all of them Iraqi army-led, maneuvering multiple units in an urban battlefield. They have taken back the city and given the initiative back to the government of Iraq." 

Although Marines were there as advisors, Castellvi said, "this has been an Iraqi army-led operation and the results have been stunning." 

Castellvi and his Marines are advising and tutoring the Iraqis on topics such as weaponry and logistics. The sooner the Iraqi army can stand alone, the sooner the Marines can come home.

Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: A Marine supervising training of Iraqi troops at Habbaniya in Anbar province. Credit: Tony Perry / Los Angeles Times.

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