By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
Dec. 13, 2007 - Ongoing U.S. military efforts to disrupt insurgent operations in and around Baghdad are garnering continued success, a senior military officer posted in Iraq said today. Before the surge, Sunni, Shiite and Iranian extremists operated across much of his present area of operations, Army Col. Wayne W. Grigsby Jr., the commander of the 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, said during a conference call with online "bloggers" and reporters.
Yet today, the insurgents "no longer can do that," Grigsby said, noting the terrorists' capabilities have been greatly degraded in an area that runs east and south of the Iraq capital city along the Diyala and Tigris rivers.
Grigsby's unit deployed to Iraq as part of the surge strategy designed to eliminate enemy sanctuaries close to Baghdad that could be used to launch attacks on the capital city.
"It is just evident that the surge was the right thing to do," Grigsby said. Overall attacks in Baghdad have decreased significantly since the surge took hold, he said.
A series of anti-insurgent offensives in his area that began in June have disrupted insurgent operations and kept them on the run, Grigsby noted. The most recent operation, named "Marne Anvil," was aimed at a known extremist sanctuary in the Narwan area near Baghdad, he said.
Marne Anvil-related operations to date have resulted in the killing of 128 insurgents and the capture of almost 500 suspected extremists, Grigsby said, 25 of whom are considered to possess high informational value.
The operation also disabled 119 roadside bombs and seized 43 weapons caches and destroyed 160 boats, the colonel said.
"We are continuing to kick the insurgents' butt each day," Grigsby said.
Additionally, concerned Iraq citizens' groups continue to step up to aid coalition and Iraqi troops in confronting the insurgents, Grigsby said.
"This is probably the biggest piece that I've seen that has allowed us to do things out here that we weren't able to do in the past," Grigsby said. A group of 24 local Iraqi leaders, he added, is involved in helping communities reject insurgent violence and regain security and stability.
Grigsby said his soldiers will next target Salman Pak, an area southeast of Baghdad.
"Our focus for the next five or six months is to get in and clear and control Salman Pak," Grigsby said.