The fall of Ramadi is highly symbolic and of substantial strategic significance, despite the protestations to the contrary of Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey. In a joint press conference with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on April 16, Dempsey stated: “The city itself is not symbolic is any way. It’s not been declared part of the (Islamic State) caliphate or central to the future of Iraq, but we want to get it back. The issue here is not brick and mortar, it’s about defeating ISIL.”
In fact, Ramadi is considered by ISIS to be part of its caliphate that now stretches from northern Syria to central Iraq. It is a key communications center along the Euphrates River corridor and the capital of al-Anbar province, a Sunni area in western Iraq that U.S. troops struggled to pacify for several years after the U.S. invasion in 2003.
AQI back in 2005 and the days of Zarqawi considered Ramadi the capital of their Islami State of Iraq. In early 2005, this is where the heart of the Iraqi insurgency boiled.
This Memorial Day, I am thinking of those soldiers who sacrificed their lives fighting in Ramadi.
A revisit of Michael Totten’s excellent blogposts:
I’m in the middle of Dick Couch’s “The Sheriff of Ramadi” which follows the story of the Navy SEAL Task Unit who helped achieve victory in Ramadi through a successful implementation of counterinsurgency strategy. It’s sat on my bookshelf for the last few years and I had hoped to finish it before today.
Why does Ramadi matter? Why is its loss to ISIS so painful not only for Gold Star Moms like Debbie Lee? Why shouldn’t their pain be our pain?
Ramadi is where Marc Lee became the first Navy SEAL to be KIA in Iraq.
Ramadi is where Michael Monsoor sacrificed his life.
During 2006, Ramadi and the Al-Anbar province accounted for half of the casualties endured by U.S. forces. By the end of 2006, there was a definite turnaround. And it was thanks in no small measure on account of the sacrifices made by those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
It’s where “the Legend” Chris Kyle undoubtedly saved American and Iraqi lives.
It is important for Americans to know and to remember:
Any remembrance of war that doesn’t include the telling of individual stories lessens the purpose of the day–and why it is important that we remember.
Sometimes the enormity of war overwhelms the truth that all great struggles are just the sum of individual stories. Each is more than just the story of one soldier’s service and sacrifice. Their service ripples across their families, friends and their communities. Memorial Day reminds us it is the noble sacrifice of many that makes us who we are.”
Strategically and symbolically, Ramadi matters.
This was a comment left by Dewey Barker on an FB page dedicated to honoring George W. Bush.
On Ramadi: The interpersonal dynamics between the people of Afghanistan and Iraq have been shaped by many years of a life that is different than our own, in the West. When we are with our Afghan and Iraqi partners, it helps. Maybe not in his exact words, but in what I felt that he was basically communicating, an Iraqi Officer sums it up very well. He said, “When the Americans were here with us we were assimilating their Spirit of Selflessness and their heart of Love and Respect for their fellow Soldiers. When they left, those values began to evaporate and the old model, that does not contain those values, began to re-emerge.”
It cost us dearly to win it. It should not have cost us dearly only to lose it again.