DefenseLINK News: General: Marines Not Hampered by Rules of Engagement

Marines Cut the Rat Line:

Major General of Marines John Sattler, USCENTCOM, spoke about I MEF operations:

The general also said that coalition forces in the area are comfortable with the level of intelligence information they're getting in the area and are content to let the Iraqi Governing Council work to negotiate an end to the tense situation in Fallujah.

He noted that he feels it's important to give the negotiations a chance to succeed. "Keep in mind, our goal is not to capture the town of Fallujah," Sattler said. "Our goal is to go and free the town of Fallujah, to go in and eliminate those fighters, foreign fighters, those extremists that are in the town that have taken it away from those who reside there."

Garnering far less publicity than operations around Fallujah, Marines have stepped up efforts to shut down Iraq's border region with Syria as a throughway for foreign fighters and smugglers.

Sattler said efforts are particularly focused in an area known as "the rat line," where foreign fighters were traveling through the countryside around Qaim, near where the Euphrates River passes from Syria into Iraq.

"We had an extreme amount of success on the front side, meaning that we did find, fix, and ultimately finish a number of cells that were out there, that were facilitating this type of movement," he said.
This seems to be the result, in part, of good recon and planning:
Part of the Marines' success in tightening the border region can be attributed to their forethought in upping the number of troops they brought when they replaced the Army's 82nd Airborne Division in the region.

"When (the Marines) went out and did their reconnaissance (before assuming control of the region), they made a conscious decision to bring more so they could, in fact, work that border region very hard," Sattler said.

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