Battle of Ramadi (2006)

Battle of Ramadi (2006)
Battle of Ramadi (2006)
Part of the Iraq War
Ramadi august 2006 patrol.jpg
US soldiers take up positions on a street corner during a foot patrol in Ramadi, August 2006
Date June 17, 2006 - November 15, 2006
Location Ramadi, Iraq
Result Coalition Victory[1][2]
United States United States
Flag of Iraq.svg New Iraqi Army
Flag of Jihad.svg Mujahideen Shura Council (Iraq)
Commanders and leaders
United States COL Sean MacFarland
United States 5,500 soldiers and Marines[3]
Iraq 2,000 Iraqi Army soldiers[4]
Casualties and losses
80+ killed,[5]
200+ wounded
30 troops and policemen killed[6]
750 killed (U.S. estimate) [7]

The Battle of Ramadi (sometimes referred to as the Second Battle of Ramadi) was a battle fought during the Iraq War from June 2006 to November 2006 for control of the capital of the Al Anbar Governorate in western Iraq. A combined force of U.S. Soldiers, U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy SEALs and Iraqi Security Forces fought insurgents for control of key locations in Ramadi, including the Government Center and the General Hospital. Coalition strategy relied on establishing a number of patrol bases called Combat Operation Posts throughout the city.

U.S. military officers believe that insurgent actions during the battle led to the formation of the Anbar Awakening. In August, insurgents executed a tribal sheik who was encouraging his kinsmen to join the Iraqi police, and prevented the body from being buried in accordance with Islamic laws. In response, Sunni sheiks banded together to drive insurgents from Ramadi. In September 2006, Sheik Abdul Sattar Abu Risha formed the Anbar Salvation Council, an alliance of around forty Sunni tribes.[8]

U.S. Navy SEAL Michael A. Monsoor was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions during the battle. On September 29, 2006, he threw himself upon a grenade which threatened the lives of the other members of his team. Monsoor had previously been awarded the Silver Star in May for rescuing an injured comrade in the city.

The battle also marked the first use of chlorine bombs by insurgents during the war. On October 21, 2006, insurgents detonated a car-bomb with two 100-pound chlorine tanks, injuring three Iraqi policemen and a civilian in Ramadi.



Iraqi insurgents on the roof of the municipality of Ramadi

Since the fall of Fallujah in 2004, Ramadi had been the center of the insurgency in Iraq. The Islamic State of Iraq, a front group for Al-Qaida in Iraq, had declared the city to be its capital.[9] The city of 500,000, located 110 kilometres west of Baghdad, had been under the control of the insurgency except for a few places where the Marines had set up remote outposts, that were virtually under siege. Law and order had broken down, and street battles were common.[10]


On June 14, U.S. and Iraqi forces in Baghdad began Operation Together Forward, an operation intended to curb the sectarian killings in the capital.

In early June 2006, the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 1st U.S. Armored Division and elements from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division were deployed to the Ramadi area from Tal Afar and Kuwait respectively and began preparations to take on the insurgents in the capital of Al Anbar province, Ramadi. Word of an offensive already gotten to the 400,000 citizens of the city who feared another Fallujah style attack. But the U.S. commander of 1/1 AD decided to take it slowly and softly, without using heavy close air support, artillery or tank fire. By June 10, U.S. troops had "cordoned off" the city. U.S. air strikes on residential areas were escalating, and US troops took to the streets with loudspeakers to warn civilians of a fierce impending attack.[11]

Preparations for the attack had been under way for weeks. The objective of the operation was to cut off resupply and reinforcements to the insurgents in Ramadi by gaining control of the key entry points into the city. U.S. forces also planned to establish new combat outposts (COPs) and patrol bases throughout the city, moving off their forward operating bases in order to engage the population and establish relationships with local leaders.

On June 17, there were several skirmishes with the insurgents which killed two American soldiers.[12]

The battle

U.S. troops used an armored forklift to emplace concrete barriers during the construction of Combat Outpost Falcon in downtown Ramadi, June 2006

The offensive opened on June 18 when two columns of U.S. mechanized troops and Iraqi Army units pushed north into the city's suburbs, cutting off two major entrances to the city for the first time during the war. At the same time, 3rd Battalion 8th Marines held on to the western half of the downtown area and patrolled the river and its two bridges (the only northbound exits from the city) on foot and in boats, and the 1-506th Infantry, 1-6th Infantry (Baumholder, Germany), and 1-35th Armor continued to hold the main thoroughfare and the eastern exits. While A CO. 40th Engineer BN was responsible for the rural western edge of the city and route "Mobile" the main supply route to Syria. 3rd Battalion 5th Marines set up a number of outposts to the east of Ramadi along "Route Michigan", the main highway between Baghdad and Syria through Ramadi and Fallujah, which had been nicknamed "IED Alley".[13]

Hundreds of American and Iraqi troops, backed by an AC-130 "Spectre" gunship overhead, pushed into an insurgent-controlled section of eastern Ramadi. Six insurgents were thought to have been killed by fire from the Spectre gunship in the initial hours of the operation. Sporadic gunfire between U.S. troops and insurgent snipers echoed throughout the neighborhood. The troops were trying to establish a new outpost in Ramadi's eastern Mulaab neighborhood that would allow U.S. and Iraqi troops to better patrol a troublesome area where insurgents had frequently attacked. The outpost would be less than a mile deeper into the city from their current base. Soldiers also scoured through dozens of homes in the area, finding several weapons caches and equipment used to construct roadside bombs. During the first day of the battle only one American soldier suffered a broken leg from a roadside bomb. But that would soon change.[14]

Insurgents attack Ramadi Government Center

US troops take cover from small arms fire while investigating a car bomb explosion in Tameem, Ramadi, August 10, 2006

The operation had some initial success but the effect that the Americans wanted to achieve did not happen. Very soon the American forces were bogged down in heavy street fighting throughout the city. Insurgents launched hit and run attacks on the newly established outposts, which were sometimes assaulted by as many as 100 insurgents at a time. In a major battle on July 24, al Qaeda forces sustained heavy casualties when they launched a number of attacks throughout the city.

The main target throughout the campaign was the Ramadi Government Center which was garrisoned by U.S. Marines who had sandbagged and barricaded the building. In an attempt to reduce attacks, U.S. forces demolished several buildings around the government center and planned to convert it into a park area.

Roadside bomb attacks and ambushes of patrols on the streets happened nearly every time the Marines went outside the wire. Sniper attacks were also a constant threat to Marines during the battle. There were also several suicide-bombing attacks on the outposts. One sniper had used the fourth story of the Ramadi General Hospital to kill a number of Marines before he was counter-sniped.[15][16]

Ramadi General Hospital captured

Iraqi police prepare to enter the Ramadi hospital, July 5, 2006

At the beginning of July the American forces managed to push deep enough in to the city to reach the Ramadi General Hospital, which was captured by the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment on July 5. The Marines reported that members of al-Qaida in Iraq had been using the seven-story building, which was equipped with some 250 beds, to treat their wounded and fire on U.S. troops in the area. They said wounded Iraqi police officers who had been taken to the hospital were later found beheaded. Though there was no resistance during the operation, the Marines found about a dozen triggering devices for roadside bombs hidden above the tiled ceiling of one office. They knocked down dozens of locked doors and searched medicine chests and storage closets for additional weapons. Hospitals are considered off-limits in traditional warfare. In western Ramadi, however, insurgents have fired on Marines from the rooftop of a women and children's hospital so often that patients were moved to a wing with fewer exposed windows.[17]

Formation of the Anbar Awakening Council

Sheikh Abdul Sittar speaks with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of Multi-National Corps - Iraq at Camp Ramadi, April 2, 2007. Sheikh Sittar helped spark the Anbar Awakening Movement

On August 21, insurgents killed Abu Ali Jassim, a Sunni sheik who had encouraged many of his tribesmen to join the Iraqi Police. The insurgents hid the body in a field rather than returning it for a proper burial, violating Islamic law and angering Jassim's tribesmen. Following this, 40 sheiks from 20 tribes from across Al Anbar organised a movement called the Sahwa Al Anbar (Anbar Awakening). On September 9, Sheik Sittar organised a tribal council attended by over fifty sheiks and Col. MacFarland. During this council, Sittar officially declared the Anbar Awakening underway.[18]

Shortly after the council, the tribes began attacking al-Qaeda in Iraq insurgents in the suburbs of Ramadi. By October, nearly every tribe in northern and western Ramadi had joined the awakening.[19] By December, attacks had dropped 50% according to the U.S. military.[16][20][21]


In mid-September 2006, the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines (1-6) relieved the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines in western Ramadi.[22] The battalion commander, Lt. Col. Jurney, deployed his companies throughout the city. Alpha Company was deployed to OP VA, a combat outpost close to a large three-story building on 17th Street. OP VA was the target of a major insurgent attack in April 2006. Insurgents drove a dump truck loaded with 1000 pounds of explosive up to the outpost and detonated it. Insurgents with small arms and RPGs moved in on the post and a major firefight ensued. The Marines eventually defeated the attack with no serious casualties.[23] Bravo Company took up position in the Ramadi Government Center and Charlie Company was deployed to OP Hawk, the main combat outpost around Ramadi General Hospital.[24][25]

In late September, Pentagon officials announced that the troops of the 1st brigade, 1st Armored Division would have their tour extended by 46 days.[26] This extension was ordered to give the relieving brigade, the 1st brigade, 3rd Infantry Division time to prepare for their deployment at the start of 2007.[27]

In mid-October, 1-6 conducted its first major offensive, taking the large building on 17th Street in the Jumaiyah neighborhood where they established the 17th Street Security Station. This was the first joint Marine-Iraqi outpost in the city.[25][28]

November incident

During heavy fighting between November 13 and November 15, U.S. forces were alleged to have killed at least 30 people, including women and children, in an airstrike in central Ramadi. Interviews by an unnamed Los Angeles Times correspondent in Ramadi supported eyewitness statements that there were civilian deaths during the fighting. Residents said the houses in an old Iraqi army officers quarters had been destroyed, including one being used as an Internet cafe. News photos showed bodies of civilians allegedly killed by coalition forces.[29]

A Marine spokesman disputed the account, saying that an airstrike on November 14 targeted a bridge 10 miles east of Ramadi and there were no casualties in the attack. He said that on the 13th and 14th, Coalition forces killed 16 suspected insurgents, who had been placing IEDs and firing mortars and RPGs, in fighting in three separate incidents in Ramadi[30] . At least one U.S. soldier was also killed in the fighting.[29] The spokesman did not respond to inquiries about the number of civilian dead, but admitted that it was often difficult for coalition forces to distinguish between insurgents and civilians and did not deny that some collateral damage had occurred. He neither responded to inquiries made by The Times regarding the number of homes destroyed or tank rounds fired in the fighting.[29][31]


By mid-November at least 75 American soldiers and Marines were killed along with an unknown number of Iraqi soldiers and police. The U.S. commander, Col. MacFarland, claimed 750 insurgents had been killed in fighting in Ramadi and that his forces had secured 70% of the city.[7]

The Devlin report

Two years before the battle, in 2004, then commander of the Marine garrison, MajGen James Mattis, stated that, "if Ramadi fell the whole province (Al Anbar) goes to hell".[32] Two years later, a classified report written by Marine Col. Pete Devlin in August 2006 and leaked to the Washington Post in mid-September 2006, said Al Anbar had been lost and there was almost nothing that could be done. Devlin was the chief Intelligence Officer for the Marine units operating in the province. The report said that not only were military operations facing a stalemate, unable to extend and sustain security beyond the perimeters of their bases, but also local governments in the province had collapsed and the weak central government had almost no presence.[33][34]

On November 28, 2006 another part of the classified Marine Corps intelligence report was published by the Washington Post which said US forces could neither crush the insurgency in western Iraq nor counter the rising popularity of the al-Qaeda terrorist network in the area. According to the report, "the social and political situation has deteriorated to a point that US and Iraqi troops are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in al-Anbar." The report describes Al-Qaeda in Iraq as the "dominant organization of influence" in the province, more important than local authorities, the Iraqi government and US troops "in its ability to control the day-to-day life of the average Sunni." [35]

Operation Squeeze Play

Insurgents still remained well entrenched in the city with coalition forces continuing combat operations throughout November and December. On November 28, 2006 six civilians, including five Iraqi girls, were killed when a U.S. tank fired into a building from which two insurgents were firing upon U.S. soldiers.[36]

On December 1, 2006, a 900-strong task force centered around the 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment (1-37) launched a month-long operation known as Operation Squeeze Play targeting the "Second Officers District" in central Ramadi.[37] On December 6, six American soldiers were killed in heavy street fighting. Three of these, two soldiers and a Marine, were killed in an area of western Ramadi controlled by the Abu Alwan tribe, which was aligned with the Awakening movement. According to Col. MacFarland, the tribe saw the killings as a personal attack by the insurgents against their tribe and killed or captured all of the insurgents involved in the attack within ten days.[38] By the end of the operation on January 14, 2007, US forces had killed 44 insurgents and captured a further 172. Four additional Iraqi police stations were established during the operation, which brought the total to 14.[39][40]

Marine reserve force committed

In mid-November 2006, 2,200 Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (15th MEU), a reserve force on ships in the Persian Gulf, deployed to Al Anbar as reinforcements. This force included members of Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment who were sent by General Abizaid to help in the fighting in Ramadi.[41][42] In January 2007, as part of the U.S. troop surge in Iraq, 4,000 Marines in Al Anbar had their tour extended by 45 days. The order included the 15th MEU and 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment fighting in Ramadi, as well as the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment fighting elsewhere in Al Anbar.[43]

Manchu 1-9 Infantry : Operation Murfreesboro : Battle of Ma'Laab

Captured Insurgents

After the first 2004 tour in Ramadi, 503rd Infantry Regiment, reflagged to 1-9 Infantry, deployed back to Ramadi in October 2006. In the beginning months of 2007, 1-9 Infantry (1st Battalion 9th Infantry Regiment), 2ID (2nd Infantry Division (United States)), with direct fire support from "Chaos" 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, Navy SEALS, "Bushmaster" 1-26 Mechanized Infantry (an element from 1st Infantry Division (United States)), and 1/1/1 Iraqi Army, launched an offensive in East Ramadi, Operation Murfreesboro. The operation was intended to cut off the Ma'Laab district from the rest of Ramadi in order to drive out the AQIZ. In February, the operation was in full force with tank support, airstrikes, and GMLRS and successfully divided the district by setting up a barrier of concrete walls. There were more than 40 engagements, 8 large weapons caches found, about 20 IEDs exploded, about 35 more found, 70 EKIA, 10 EWIA, and 32 detainees. The success of this operation led to the forming of the Ramadi Police Force working alongside with US and IA. 1-9 INF also worked with the head Shiek in the Sofia district which assisted in valuable information to the success of operations for the 1-9 INF in Ramadi. This led to the peaceful summer months of 2007 with the average of attacks of zero. Furthermore led into the succession of the The Anbar Awakening.

"Raider" Brigade takes over Ramadi

In January 2007, the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, on its third tour to Iraq, arrived in Ramadi and assumed responsibility from Macfarland's brigade on February 18 at a transfer ceremony at Camp Ramadi. During the ceremony, which was attended by Sheikh Sattar, MacFarland said that his brigade had lost 86 soldiers, sailors and Marines during the 8 month campaign.[44][45]

At this point, Ramadi was averaging around 35 attacks a day. Following heavy fighting over an 8-week campaign by the brigade, also known as Task Force Raider, attacks in the brigade's area of operations dropped to one a day. At one point in August 2007, Ramadi had gone 80 consecutive days without a single attack and the brigade commander, Col. John Charlton, stated that "al-Qaida had been defeated in Al Anbar". However, insurgents continued to launch attacks on Ramadi. On June 30, a group of between 50 and 60 insurgents trying to enter the city were intercepted and destroyed, following a tipoff from Iraqi Police.They were intercepted by elements of the 1st Battalion 77th Armor on the 30th and on the 1st were finished off the by Bravo company 1st platoon second squad, 1st Battalion 18th Infantry Regiment.1-18 operated out of the Ta'Meem district of the citys west side. By March 2008, Ramadi had gone 300 days without an attack.[46][47][48]

Participating Units

1st Battalion, 6th Infantry
2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry
1st Battalion, 35th Armor
1st Battalion 36th Infantry
1st Battalion 37th Armor
2nd Battalion, 37th Armor
2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery
16th Engineer Battalion
40th Engineer Battalion
46th Engineer Battalion
501st Forward Support Battalion
47th Forward Support Battalion
Asymmetric Warfare Group
1st Battalion 9th Infantry Regiment Task Force 1-9
3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment Task Force 1-9
1st Battalion, 77th Armor
1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment
1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment Task Force 1-9
Regimental Combat Team 5
3rd Battalion, 5th Marines
2nd Battalion, 11th Marines
1st Battalion, 6th Marines
3rd Battalion, 8th Marines
3rd Battalion, 7th Marines
2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 15th MEU
Combat Logistics Regiment 15
  • 101st Airborne Division United States
1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment
  • Navy SEALs United States
SEAL Team 3
SEAL Team 5
9th Naval Construction Regiment
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Forty
  • Iraqi Army Iraq
    • 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division[49]
    • 1st Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division[49]


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  2. ^ Dick Couch. The Sheriff of Ramadi: Navy Seals and the Winning of al-Anbar. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781591141471. 
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  20. ^ Kagan, Kimberly (April 2007) (PDF). The Anbar Awakening:Displacing al Qaeda from its Stronghold in Western Iraq. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
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  • Couch, Dick (2008). The Sheriff of Ramadi: Navy SEALs and the Winning of al-Anbar. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-138-9. 

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