Sword/Vernon Interchange: A Crossroads in Combating Improvised Explosive Devices
CPT Dustin Navarro, CPT Clint T. Edwards, and CPT David M. Williams
While deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 08-09, conventional U.S. Armed Forces continued to work toward sustaining local security and developing civil capacity in a post-"surge" environment. As these operations progressed, U.S. forces reduced their forward presence, as the Government of Iraq and Iraqi Security Forces became effectual.
The 2007-2008 surge in Iraq allowed U.S. and Iraqi forces to clear and hold Baghdad, but current units must continue to build on past successes by employing assets other than boots-on-the-ground as the forward footprint of coalition forces declines. Since 2004, the intersection of Alternate Supply Route (ASR) Sword and Vernon in Western Baghdad has been a consistent improvised explosive device (IED) engagement area where attacks directly impact the local populace, logistics movements, and coalition forces attempting to maneuver throughout the battlespace.
By employing enablers available across the brigade combat team (BCT) and Multi-National Division-Baghdad (MND-B) organizations, combined with the support of Iraqi public works directorates, Comanche Troop, 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment (5-4 Cavalry), executed engagement area development to allow the Iraqi army to effectively target enemy forces while ensuring key terrain in Baghdad remained secure. The doctrinal steps of engagement area development still apply in the contemporary environment; however, the continuous mission and existing threats necessitate an out-of-sequence execution to allow the Iraqi army to protect the terrain while the environment is shaped as assets become available.
Visualize how the enemy might attack.
The local populace's freedom of movement in northwestern Baghdad heavily depended on ASR Sword (locally known as highway 97 or highway Abu Ghuraib) and Vernon (locally known as the Khalid Bin al-Waleed highway). Likewise, these ASRs were vital to coalition forces executing resupply operations throughout Iraq. Coalition forces, logistics convoys, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and thousands of local nationals use these routes daily to bypass congestion inside the city, which is caused by ISF checkpoints. Numerous insurgent groups employed IEDs at this intersection due to a constant flow of coalition force sustainment convoys, multiple on and off ramps, and convenient natural cover.
ASR Vernon runs off of Main Supply Route (MSR) Tampa, just north of Baghdad, and extends south through Baghdad's western Hayys (Shulla, Ghazaliya, Adl, Jamia, and Khadra) to MSR Irish. The route served as a vital supply line for moving supplies north on MSR Tampa from Kuwait. ASR Vernon allowed lengthy coalition force logistics convoys to bypass the congestion in the city, theoretically creating a faster and safer route. It further supported the sustainment operations of multiple forward operating bases (FOBs). Likewise, ASR Sword supported operations west of Baghdad, allowing support to FOBs throughout Fallujah and Ramadi. Furthermore, within Comanche Troop's area of operations, the two ASRs facilitated support from FOBs to a multitude of joint security stations (JSSs) in northwest Baghdad. Given the sheer volume of daily traffic, this intersection was a natural hotbed for IEDs.
Visualize how the enemy might attack.
The intersection of ASR Sword and ASR Vernon was a known hotspot for IED activity. The disruption of coalition forces' freedom of maneuver through these crossroads represented tactical success for enemy forces and a sustained information operations defeat for coalition forces. Since October 2004, more than 350 significant activities (SIGACTS) occurred in the immediate vicinity of this intersection; by and large, the majority has been IED related. Prior to the 2007 surge, the intersection averaged more than three attacks per month on coalition forces and ISF. The surge allowed coalition forces to effectively reduce the number of attacks and reestablish freedom of maneuver along the two major supply routes.
Combat logistics patrols also used the intersection, which provided predictable, easy targets for anti-coalition force IED cells. While very few of the attacks produced coalition force fatalities, insurgents were successful in damaging and destroying vehicles. IEDs remained the weapon of choice to exploit coalition force and ISF weaknesses in an attempt for local insurgent networks to delegitimize coalition and Iraqi security forces.
Enemy forces primarily launched attacks out of Khadra (southwest of the intersection) or Ghazaliya (northwest of the intersection) where they maintained freedom of maneuver. Due to stealthy IED emplacement under the cover of darkness, engaging responsible insurgents was challenging. From 2004-2006, very few SIGACTs report any enemy battle damage assessments; however, other information sources indicate otherwise. Nonetheless, enemy freedom of maneuver made the intersection of ASR Sword and Vernon a high-risk engagement area.
As a result of the surge during the spring of 2007, an additional 20,000 soldiers deployed to Iraq, which dramatically decreased the number of IED attacks at the intersection. During the first half of 2005, the intersection averaged 2 to 3 attacks a month; likewise, during the height of sectarian violence in 2006, the intersection saw approximately three attacks every month. However, in late 2007, following the surge, the amount of attacks dropped to less than one attack every month.
In conjunction with the surge, the movement of U.S. forces to Baghdad, where they would operate from a JSS, further reduced the number of attacks at the intersection. MND-B selected the Adl Mall as an FOB, and later as a JSS, because its location provided direct overwatch to key terrain and the capability to rapidly deploy forces as part of the clear, hold, and build strategy. The Adl rapid aerostat initial deployment (RAID) tower, which facilitated 24-hour surveillance of the intersection, allowed coalition forces to rapidly intercept attempts to emplace IEDs and provide rapid response to attacks. The five-story building was guarded by five observation posts (three of which provided direct observation of the intersection) and included two long-range scout surveillance systems (LRAS3), which provided excellent coverage of the intersection. Likewise, the 80-foot RAID tower, posted on the roof, also permitted continuous and detailed observation of the intersection. The 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry (4-10 Cavalry), landowners of JSS Adl, conducted extensive research of enemy activities and methods at the intersection, and effectively placed its observation assets on the intersection at historic enemy activity timelines. The benefit of JSS Adl's intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, and a battalion of U.S. forces within 2km of the intersection, were evident by the complete absence of attacks during the first half of 2008, while July 2008 to January 2009 averaged less than one attack per month.
The presence of JSS Adl and its tremendous force protection assets forced a lull in the enemy's operational tempo at the interchange. However, the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) drafted near the end of 2008 and the redeployment of surge forces called for a drawdown of troops in Iraq cities. As part of the drawdown, MND-B was forced to make a decision as to which JSS would close.
With the growing Sunni rejectionist employment of RKG-3 antitank hand grenades throughout northwest Baghdad, 4-10 Cavalry's redeployment, and 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry's expanded area of operations, the decision was made to close JSS Adl in late January 2009. The transfer of JSS Adl resulted in a direct loss of continuous coalition force observation of the intersection and also increased reaction time to IED attacks and suspected emplacements. Before long, the enemy realized the absence of coalition forces at JSS Adl and quickly returned to emplacing IEDs throughout the intersection; almost immediately, attacks spiked.
In February 2009, there were four attacks or attempted IED attacks at the intersection. The new landowner of the intersection, Comanche Troop, decided to incorporate a combination of disrupting obstacles designed to impact the enemy's planning and execution cycle and thus his ability to emplace IEDs in and around the intersection, while implementing long-term efforts to shape the terrain to deny the enemy access to the area.
Visualize how the enemy might attack. Select where and determine how to kill the enemy.
As Comanche Troop began its transition in early February 2009, to control the intersection, an increased number of IED attacks on coalition force logistics convoys and ISF security patrols made it apparent that great emphasis would have to be placed on securing the intersection. Moreover, reports from the combined explosives exploitation cell (CEXC) confirmed that Sunni rejectionist groups were experimenting with explosively formed projectile (EFP) emplacement at the intersection where Shia extremists previously held exclusive control of this weapon. Comanche Troop recognized the tactical, operational, and strategic importance of securing the intersection and began shaping the terrain through combined intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) with its partnered IA battalion. They also began engagement area (EA) development through ISF, coalition, and local government interaction to combat the growing number of attacks and secure coalition force and ISF movements, as well as the local populace.
Prior to 4-10 Cavalry closing JSS Adl, intelligence analysts and landowners realized that insurgents were stopping their vehicles, along routes, under the guise of maintenance problems to cover their IED emplacements. After reviewing reports and after-action reviews, it was apparent that a greater understanding of enemy techniques was required. Comanche Troop successfully identified insurgent techniques and developed countermeasures, as shown in the examples below:
The SOFA further altered the strategic and operational framework of MND-B and further complicated Comanche's ability to conduct unilateral security missions. With the burden of security being transferred to ISF, it was apparent that C Troop would have to "sell" its ideas for engagement area development to the Iraqi army landowner, the partnered 3d Battalion, 54th Brigade, 6th IA Division (3/54/6 IA). While C Troop could provide most of the leg work and various combat enablers, it would truly be up to the IA to maintain security. With that requirement, their input into security improvements would be invaluable. Moreover, support from the local government would be necessary. Comanche's leaders faced the daunting task of selling the project as a benefit to the population's security, quality of life, and a further return to normalcy. With support from the populace, Comanche gained contact to local agencies, which proved to be vital multipliers. Likewise, backing from local support councils and neighborhood advisory councils (NAC) would generate overall support from the local populace, who would be heavily affected by a large-scale operation.
With Comanche moving through troop leading procedures, attacks were still on an uptick. In February 2009, as Comanche Troop assumed joint ownership of the intersection with 3/54/6 IA, three more IEDs were detonated at the intersection and an additional IED was found and cleared by a route-clearance element. While it was readily apparent that the "final" security solution would take time to implement, Comanche knew that they had to impact the enemy's planning and execution cycle in the short term. In an all-night, troop-level mission, Comanche executed a traditional scout mission and emplaced a deliberate 110m triple-strand concertina wire (c-wire) obstacle along the most IED-prone portion of ASR Sword. This temporarily halted potential enemy foot traffic from the adjoining swamp land. While this measure was never meant to be permanent, it was the first in a series of disrupting actions, which would strive to eliminate IEDs as the primary threat at the intersection.
Select where and determine how to kill the enemy. Position forces to kill the enemy with direct fire. Plan indirect fires [floodlights] to support direct fires and obstacles.
From day one in sector, Comanche Troop knew that Sword/Vernon interchange was a key enemy engagement area where the last Shia and Sunni rejectionists could effectively place IEDs targeting against coalition and Iraq security forces. The intersection also represented key terrain not only for the troop, but for the squadron, brigade, and division. It was apparent that the lack of continuous ISR assets in the area would require Comanche to dedicate additional manpower to physically patrol and secure the area. The initial step was to coordinate with the partnered IA battalion to conduct joint area security patrols and dismounted observation posts (OPs) focused on templated emplacement and attack windows. This began with a series of leader recons executed by Comanche Troop and 3/54/6 IA's battalion commander. These recons would focus on solidifying a combined plan to emplace Iraqi army OPs and attack positions to more effectively overwatch the terrain surrounding the intersection.
The squadron commander of 5-4 Cavalry confirmed that the intersection represented key terrain and began allocating support and prioritization for key enablers at echelons above troop. On completion of these engagements, the IA battalion commander moved two redundant traffic control points (TCPs), which were not in position to check vehicles on the busy highway, to an elevated position on a closed off-ramp. This new position allowed the IA to observe enemy infiltration routes rather than sit on an ineffective TCP. The IA would endure the brunt of the 24/7 positions, but Comanche Troop provided support with patrols during key hours to provide additional overwatch and combat enablers. Moreover, Comanche continued to conduct joint mounted patrols of the interchange that supported the OP overwatch. Using split HMMWV pairs, patrols established mounted attack positions at differing positions around the intersection, and used LRAS3 to establish additional eyes-on templated engagement areas. While observation improved, Comanche faced another problem.
The intersection marked an IA brigade boundary between 22d Brigade and 54th Brigade; units from both brigades refused to conduct patrols in the other's area of operation. The intersection was technically in 3/54/6 IA's area of operation, but they could not effectively provide overwatch without operating in Ghazaliya, which belonged to 4th Battalion, 22d IA Brigade (4/22 IA). Because 5-4 Cavalry partnered with both 4/22 IA and 3/54/6 IA, the squadron commander leveraged his relationships with the two IA battalion commanders and facilitated a cross-boundary coordination. This coordination proved to be the key in successfully integrating overwatch along an IA boundary traditionally exploited by enemy forces.
While 4/22 IA manned a guard tower on ASR Vernon, it was too far north to effectively overwatch the intersection. Through extensive coordination, Comanche assisted the IA in conducting cross-boundary coordination with 4/22 IA's battalion commander and developed a plan that provided eyes-on the northwestern portion of the intersection from Ghazaliya. Much like 3/54/6's observation posts and attack positions, 4/22 would occupy a guard tower that provided a better line of sight on much of the dead space located under the intersection's overpasses. Moreover, high-powered floodlights provided additional illumination in the dark areas under the overpasses and helped mask the tower's occupants. More importantly, the tower provided an overt demonstration of the security of the intersection. The conditions were now set for Comanche Troop and 3/54/6 IA to begin its physical engagement area development.
Operation All Nighter
Position obstacles groups to support direct fires. Plan indirect fires to support direct fires and obstacles.
As mentioned earlier, with observation posts effectively covering the intersection and Comanche still in its planning/coordinating phase, it was necessary to emplace temporary, yet effective, obstacles to prevent dismounted traffic from using the swampy, tall-grass under the overpasses as cover to emplace IEDs. In the short term, Comanche emplaced a deliberate triple strand of c-wire over 110m of the most IED-prone portion of ASR Sword's southern shoulder. Unlike most of the c-wire strewn throughout the AO as a haphazard and "fix-all" solution to channel enemy movement, the c-wire obstacle emplaced along ASR Sword was deliberately emplaced in a 9-hour, limited-visibility, troop-level mission. While a section provided cordon/security, two sections of troopers pounded metal fence posts and tied together individual strands of c-wire and barbed-wire, as the troop's maintenance section cleared the route of tons of garbage and construction debris with an M88 recovery vehicle. This debris was used to conceal IED emplacement in previous attacks. During this operation, Comanche emplaced mock security cameras and large warning signs along key avenues of approach as a psychological operations (PSYOP) effort to reinforce terrain denial efforts and create the perception that coalition forces maintained continuous overwatch of the intersection. In the end, Comanche had successfully conducted the first phase in an operation that would end up spanning 3 months and involving support from various combat and combat service and support units.
NAC Cooperation - Beladiyah Trash Pick-up
Position [remove] obstacles groups to support direct fires.
As the long-term plan for the intersection continued to solidify, Comanche leaders, with the help of the civil affairs (CA) team from the 403d CA BN, continued to coordinate with the local government for help. Crucial to the success of the operation would be the Beladiyah's help in keeping the intersection clear of trash and debris that could be used to help disguise IEDs. After initially refusing, Beladiyah's director general of trash began to see the worthiness of assisting coalition forces since the project provided a direct security benefit to the populace by reducing the number of IEDs. Through additional coordination, Comanche Troop and the Khadra Provincial works substation (PWSS), which provided trucks, developed a schedule that allowed for routine trash pick-up throughout the intersection. Over a series of council meetings, Comanche leaders coordinated with the neighborhood advisory council representative for Khadra to assist with the project by establishing an ongoing community service effort in which local citizens would assist Beladiyah with trash removal. With the debris cleared, Comanche could now focus on the meat of the operation, barrier and terrain manipulation.
Operation Tunnel Rat
Position obstacle groups to support direct fires.
While Comanche continued its necessary coordination, 2d Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, Special Troops Battalion (STB), spearheaded a significant effort to secure the intersection with the support of 46th Engineer Battalion. The intersection's construction/maintenance tunnels, and damage from years of IED explosions, allowed the enemy freedom of maneuver to emplace IEDs and run command wire beneath the on and off ramps at the interchange. The counter-IED cell specifically identified that the tunnels and existing damage to the bridge structures posed significant risk to intersection traffic. Through a series of leader recons, engineers developed a thorough understanding of the "tunnel network" and devised a plan for constructing terrain-denial measures.
The concept was simple. 731st Explosive Ordnance Detachment would clear the tunnels of any explosive hazards, which would allow the engineer battalion to effectively seal off all tunnel entrances. Enemy forces previously exploited these entrances to place EFP devices beneath the road's surface. These entrances included drainage ports and detonation craters, as well as typical entry ways, which the engineers blocked with steel plates bolted into the structural concrete. All potential entry ways into these tunnels were then solidly obstructed with steel and concrete. With this terrain successfully denied to the enemy, Comanche could now shift its focus to the swampy, grassy, marshland under the intersection.
Operation Scabbard I
Position obstacle groups to support direct fires.
Operation Scabbard was to be the main effort to combat the intersection's IED problems. Originally a two-phased operation, it evolved into a three-phase operation involving, in some aspect or another, every troop in the squadron, as well as attachments from the 299th Brigade Support Battalion (299 BSB), 225th Engineer Brigade, and the 46th Engineer Battalion. Operation Scabbard I did not involve the intersection, but set conditions for its future security success. In fact, although Scabbard I occurred about 2km west of the intersection, the operation secured exfiltration and infiltration routes for the heavy number of coalition force movements, which due to the heavy equipment, such as palletized loading systems with trailers, flatbeds, engineer equipment, and cranes, necessary for the mission, were severely restricted to one or two routes in the area of operations, due to the heavy equipment, such as palletized loading system with trailers, flatbeds, engineer equipment, and cranes, necessary for the mission.
Due to the threat of RKG-3 and IED attacks in the area, coupled with the majority of movement being conducted during traditional attack windows, it was necessary to construct force protection barriers along critical portions of ASR Sword to deny insurgent cells operating out of Ghazaliya and Khadra freedom of maneuver along canalized routes. In conjunction with A Company, 299 BSB, and a contracted Turkish crane contractor (providing two cranes), Comanche Troop replaced approximately 50 "Jersey" barriers with taller "Alaska" barriers to effectively hinder the enemy's ability to conduct attacks on slow-moving and vulnerable convoys, which would be necessary throughout the duration of the mission. The stage was officially set to allow Comanche to physically attack the intersection and its enemy-friendly terrain.
Operation Scabbard II
The existing barriers in north Khadra, hastily emplaced as makeshift vehicle obstacles during the 2007-2008 surge, effectively controlled vehicle access, but were ineffective in controlling dismounted access to the intersection out of Khadra. Previous c-wire emplacements further disrupted access but were not a 100-percent solution. Scabbard II targeted enemy dismounted infiltration and exfiltration routes in and out of Khadra. As proven by the enemy, it was extremely easy to find cracks in the crude wall, squeeze through, and stealthily maneuver through the tall grass and swamp to cache and emplace IEDs and/or components along the ASRs. Again, Comanche was supported by Apache, Blackfoot, and Delta Troops, as well as patrols from 7th Field Artillery, 299 BSB, and the Turkish crane contractor. The mission's decisive point was to move 7-ton T-wall barriers from the recently vacated JSS Ghazaliya in north Ghazaliya, down the RKG-3 prone Ghazaliya Main, and link-up with Comanche in north Khadra. Once downloaded, Comanche carefully emplaced the recycled T-walls along Khadra's northern-most and eastern-most routes. In the end, Comanche emplaced nearly 300 T-walls covering more than 800m of routes. In addition, Comanche conducted thorough searches of the area with military working dogs prior to all movements to ensure the enemy did not take advantage of the large-scale static mission by emplacing IEDs within the work zone. Meanwhile, with the interior "Khadra wall" complete, Comanche disposed of the old barriers. While most were damaged beyond use, barriers still intact were reallocated to the south Adl wall, inhibiting enemy enagagement areas in the vicinity of IA command posts on the north side of the intersection. To finish up the operation, the Beladiyah continued to follow through on its end of the operation and executed a thorough cleanup of remaining trash and debris.
Neighborhood Advisory Council Cooperation and Population Buy-in
Plan indirect fires to support direct fires and obstacles.
Iraqi citizen support was crucial to the success of the mission because Comanche executed each stage of the operation in extremely close proximity to work and living areas. The populace supported the operation based on the fact that security would improve; therefore, coalition and ISF would levy fewer accusations of insurgent support against them. However, more critical to their support were the point obstacles inside of Khadra, which were removed and opened interior traffic as the completed Khadra wall denied the populace mounted and dismounted access to the intersection. In this sense, the project actually increased freedom of movement within the Khadra muhallas and simultaneously blocked all infiltration routes to the intersection. Likewise, neighborhood advisory and security council coordination, as well as detailed "consequence management patrols" and numerous coalition force recons, minimized the mission's impact on the local populace. The troop kept local citizens informed of coalition force intentions and, on numerous occasions, took additional steps to ensure minimal impact, such as power-line disruption, on their lives. These efforts proved extremely beneficial as Comanche enjoyed freedom of maneuver throughout the muhallas without the traditional resistance to additional barrier emplacement.
Comanche executed key leader engagements with select stakeholders from the NAC, tribal support council, and IA, and informed them that the completed operation would allow previously closed on-and-off ramps to be reopened as the enemy was systematically denied access to the area. This effort allowed local leaders to sell the large-scale operation to constituents as a restoration of essential services and a return to normalcy, even as Comanche reshaped the terrain as part of a deliberate engagement area development.
Contracted Vegetation Removal
Position [remove] obstacles groups to support direct fires.
To effectively conduct operations within the intersection, the 8-feet tall vegetation near the intersection, which previously provided enemy concealment, had to be reduced. Using field ordering officer funds, 5-4 Cavalry's S4 coordinated with a local national vendor to use manual labor to complete the task. Within days, numerous local nationals had completed the mission using hand scythes to cut the grass. With the grass eliminated, the area was now prepared for the heavy engineer assets to break ground.
Operation Scabbard III
Position obstacle groups to support direct fires.
While the Khadra wall was being constructed, 46th Engineers broke ground in the south-east quadrant of the intersection with Comanche in support and overwatch. Because this quadrant was lower than the swampy quadrant directly west, the engineers graded the quadrant and dug a borrow pit designed to accommodate swamp runoff from the west. In theory, the grading, coupled with the borrow pit, would create a collection pond runoff from both quadrants, thereby preventing standing swamp water and foliage growth beneath the overpasses. This operation was the last step in denying the enemy terrain that previously provided concealment for their IED trafficking, caching, and emplacements. While the 225th Engineer Brigade considered a contracted approach to the problem set, the significant enemy threat and potential for immediate security gains provided the necessary urgency to commit engineers to this operation rather than contract the mission over a period of months.
Phase III of Scabbard III proved to be the most daunting portion of the operation. While Comanche secured the site, the engineers worked to establish the drainage system to effectively divert all standing water in the southwestern quadrant to the newly dug collection pond in the southeastern quadrant. In essence, the engineers created an earth mound in the center of the quadrant, filling in the deepest part of the swamp and creating an elevation gain, which forced water into a drainage ditch running to the collection pond. The southwestern quadrant was also graded to facilitate water runoff. Upon completion of the terrain manipulation, the engineers spread aggregate throughout both quadrants to further assist water flow.
As this phase of the project began, the engineers faced immediate problems. The swamp naturally proved to be a significant barrier to operating the heavy engineering equipment. In addition, numerous old sewer and water mains ran under the quadrants, pumping even more sewage and water as the engineers continued progress. Despite these setbacks, as a testament to their skill, discipline, and professionalism, the 46th Engineers worked extremely long days and late nights to ensure the mission was completed on schedule.
Civil Affairs Team Support
Plan indirect fires to support direct fires and obstacles.
Meanwhile at Comanche's request, the civil affairs team continued private coordination and discussion with the ministry of electricity (MOE) representative from the district council essential services to restore approximately 15 high-powered lights to working condition. These lights were erected to provide lighting over the intersection but had been inoperative since 2003. The MOE had planned to repair the lights prior to Comanche's operations as part of an ongoing effort to restore services in Baghdad. Surprisingly, after years of inoperability, the lights were in remarkably good condition. With the assistance of the civil affairs team, the MOE secured funding to replace and/or repair a number of bulbs and transformers. Approximately 1 week after completion of the final barrier emplacement, the lights were restored, which provided very good lighting over the entire intersection and contributed to the IA's ability to observe the intersection while denying the enemy concealment.
The combination of initial disrupting operations, with a phased implementation of long-term efforts to shape the terrain and deny enemy freedom of movement, proved effective in securing both the populace and security forces in western Baghdad. Once measures were in place, coalition forces were significantly reduced, continuous coalition force ISR coverage stopped, and a there was a considerable reduction in significant activity at the intersection. The implementing unit maintained buy-in and support from the populace, local government, and ISF throughout all phases of the operation by ensuring the operation fostered a return to normalcy while increasing security.
This operation's success relied on a number of nontraditional partnerships and engagements. Regular communications of the operation's components promoted a return to normalcy and ensured population support and buy-in. The operation also allowed coalition and IA forces to reopen seven of the interchange's eight ramps and restore local national freedom of movement in a more secure area. Truly combined IPB and engagement area development with the partnered IA battalion provided the buy-in that allowed an American troop to shape the terrain while the IA maintained support and readiness to overwatch the terrain through cross-boundary coordination. Deliberate and effective civil affairs engagements secured support from higher levels of the Iraqi government and also ensured that local public works directorates understood the desired end state and benefits to the local populace. Coalition force maneuver units, combat service support units, Iraqi Security Forces units, Iraqi public works directorates, and the populace worked together to achieve sustainable security in western Baghdad. These seemingly disparate efforts have ensured that a once dangerous enemy engagement area was reshaped and secured in a way that does not require continuous coalition force overwatch.