The Ramadi Debacle
AL QAIM, IRAQ: The reported “mini-Tet offensive” in Ramadi has turned out to be less than accurate. In fact, it has been anything but. The Associated Press reported a massive citywide insurgent attack, and Reuters and other news outlets quickly picked up on the story.
Captain Jeffery Pool, Public Affairs Officer for the 2nd Marine Division, disputed the claims in the harshest of terms, and rebuked the media for its mis characterization of events. “Today I witnessed inaccurate reporting, use of unreliable sources, media using other media as sources, an active insurgent propaganda machine, and the pack journalism at its worse.”
Cori Dauber, an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, looks at how old Associate Press Television Network footage was used to support the case for the faux “Ramadi Uprising” by all of the news networks, and little has been done to retract the charges.
The AP and other media organizations have bought into a sophisticated and clever al-Qaeda information operation designed to weaken support for the war in the United States and project an image of strength for the insurgency. After al-Qaeda’s defeat along the border, there is a dire need for them to do so.
Operation Shank begins in Ramadi
While the false Ramadi reports continue to filter down, Coalition forces launch the latest offensive in the city. Operation Shank is directed at an unspecified area of the city, and is made up of a battalion-sized assault force “approximately 200 Iraqi Army soldiers from 1st Brigade, 7th Division and 300 Marines from 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment”.
The Multinational Forces Iraq press release states this is the fifth such operation, but is in fact the sixth, as Operation Mountaineers preceded Operations Panthers, Bruins, Lions and Tigers. Ramadi will be subdued piecemeal. Since operations began in Ramadi, attacks have decreased by sixty percent.
Coalition successes do not come without a heavy price. Outside Fallujah, ten Marines of Regimental Combat Team – 8 were killed and eleven injured while on a foot patrol. The MNF-I press release indicates “the patrol was attacked with an IED fashioned from several large artillery shells”, which makes sense as it is difficult to take such high casualties while patrolling without multiple explosives being employed. Thankfully seven of those wounded were able to immediately return to duty, indicating their wounds were minor. Our thoughts are with the four injured Marines and the families of those ten lost in the attack.
Events in Fallujah show that if you are looking for bad news in Iraq, there is no reason to propagate al-Qaeda propaganda or manufacture news from whole cloth.