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Operation Desert Shield
Part of Iraq War and the Global War on Terrorism
DateJanuary 2006 – May 2006
LocationAl Anbar Governorate, Iraq
Result Unclear
United States
Iraq Iraqi insurgency
al-Qaeda in Iraq

Operation Desert Shield was a 2006 operation by the Iraqi insurgency and al-Qaeda in Iraq, planned in December 2005 as a push against American forces during the Iraq War. The goal was to destabilize the American foothold in the Anbar Governorate over the course of six months.

The planning of the operation wasn't discovered by the Americans until documents captured after the death of Faris Abu Azzam were finally translated, and revealed the details of the operation.[1] The army said the documents surprised them, showing that the insurgents had a "pretty robust command and control system".[1]

The operation[]

Phase I: January 2006 – March 2006[]

The first phase, scheduled from January through March 2006, focused on isolating American targets by attacking supply convoys, destroying bridges and restricting the ability of helicopters to provide support.[1]

On 7 January, a two-page memo suggested that those insurgents who had infiltrated American bases be asked to reconnaissance the physical area and send back reports to help select potential targets. It also suggested that ammunition caches be placed in advance of the attacks, that only soldiers who had pledged their willingness to die in battle should be sent, and that they first be trained in a series of rehearsed mock battles.[1]

A later memo was drafted, which contained the names of the American bases that could potentially be assaulted - including a list of weapons each target would require, including explosives, rocket-propelled grenades and Katyusha rockets.[1]

At the suggestion of the unnamed security chairman, it was decided that operational security required the project to move ahead on a need to know basis, letting individual brigade commanders believe their orders were isolated attacks and not know about their over-arcing strategy.[1]

Phase II. March 2006 – May 2006[]

Starting in March 2006, al-Qaeda in Iraq began keeping reports of each attack against American troops, tracking casualties on both sides, and offering analysis of why attacks were or were not successful.[1]


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