Operation “Breaking Terrorism”: the Third Battle for Fallujah
May 25, 2016 3 Comments
On Monday, 23 May, after a three-month siege of Fallujah, the Iraqi Government launched Operation “Breaking Terrorism”, an effort by the Iraqi Army’s 1st Division and associated Shiite militia forces to take the city back from Islamic State forces.
I’ve created a variant scenario for Joe Miranda’s game Fallujah 2004: City Fighting in Iraq, appearing in Modern War magazine #23, to allow people to try and play this battle out as it unfolds in real time over the next few days or weeks. It may well be ridiculous, but it is yet another attempt of mine to commit “game journalism”, as I tried with Ukrainian Crisis.
The Iraqi Government forces are casualty-averse and want to avoid causing civilian casualties and collateral damage. The allied Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces are rather more casual about the latter, as Fallujah is largely a Sunni city. And ISIL forces, while they want to make a stand in this symbolic city, have somewhat brittle morale after being under siege for three months.
Try it out, if you happen to have the game! (Microsoft Word file, .docx)
Editing notes: I made a small addition, a change to 9.2 OPFOR Morale Check, after my first post of the file. A few people might have been swift on the download and missed it, so here it is:
9.2 Morale Checks.
OPFOR Morale begins the scenario at Fanatic. Any time a Morale Check is required you roll 2 dice, not 3. In a Fail result, OPFOR morale will go down by 1 level; in a Pass result, OPFOR morale will stay the same. OPFOR morale will not go up during the scenario (the city has been under siege for three months and while ISIL wants to make a stand, they will at some point start to slip their forces away under cover of confusion and the refugees fleeing the city).
Also, players who think the scenario is too hard could give the Government forces one or more additional engineer battalions, or even a couple of tank companies on their reverse (1-step, 2-(0)-3) side.
Meanwhile, keep checking the newspapers for real-world updates on this scenario!
EDIT, Wednesday 1 June:
After a week of announcements and deploying, on Monday 30 June Iraqi government forces shuffled forward into the city’s outskirts from the south, meeting what was described as “determined resistance” from ISIL elements. The furthest advance was to the edge of the southern suburb of Al-Shuhada (not sure which phase line this would be, looking at the image ghosted on the map and comparing it to Google Maps it’s looks like barely Phase Line 12, Routes of Advance 3 and 4). Today, after two days of fighting, Prime Minister al-Abadi announced that Iraqi government forces have suspended the offensive for fear of civilian casualties, saying that ISIL is using them as human shields. But Iraqi forces are still lobbing shells and rockets into the city, hopefully not completely at random.]
EDIT, Monday 6 June:
Here is a good update on the situation from the Institute for the Study of War website, including a nice map:
The site has been doing weekly updates so there should be a new brief and map soon.
Not surprisingly, there are numerous reports of the Shia militias (the Popular Mobilization Forces are just one component of these) behaving provocatively as they edge in on the city. Though there are two “humanitarian corridors” set up to allow civilians to leave the city, they have not been heavily used as ISIS has been preventing civilians from leaving, or charging them a hefty exit fee. Today’s news features stories of ISIS fighters shooting civilians as they try to cross the Euphrates and get out of the city.
EDIT, Friday 16 June:
It seems that the government forces have been making progress, and have raised the government flag over the city’s municipal government building (“Government Centre” on the map):
Story also details continued fighting for the main hospital, between “Al Samari” and “East Manhattan” on the map.
ISW backgrounder for 9 June, a week ago, shows the advance getting under way from the south, along two axes.