Winds of Change.NET: Enter Operation Thunder: "
In the wake of American led offensives in Western Iraq and Haditha, the Iraqi government has stated it is prepared to commit a massive force to take the initiative away from the insurgency. Iraqi Defense Minister Dulaimi has announced Operation Thunder will commence shortly and will consist of over 40,000 Iraqi troops. The purpose is to secure Baghdad then fan out to other trouble spots, presumably in the restive Anbar province.
It will initially focus on Baghdad but will then expand to other parts of the country. [Defense Minister] Dulaimi did not say when the operation would begin. 'These operations will aim to turn the government's role from defensive to offensive.'… He said troops would be drawn from interior and defence ministry forces and would begin operating in the capital, with the city divided into sections, a unit responsible for each. 'We will also impose a stringent blockade around Baghdad, like a bracelet around an arm, God willing, and God be with us in our crackdown on the terrorists' infrastructure. No one will be able to penetrate this blockade.'
The ability to muster 40,000 Iraqi troops for a persistent offensive speaks volumes on the progress of the Iraqi security forces, as well as the security situation in other provinces in Iraq. Either the Iraqi government has accumulated a significant excess of available forces, or these forces are being pulled from other areas of Iraq deemed to be secure, or a combination of the two.
The announcement of Operation Thunder puts the recent offensives of Operation Matatdor and Operation New Market into perspective. The American led strikes appear to be designed to weaken the presence of the insurgency in selected hot spots while the Iraqi government prepares its forces to move into these regions and hold them permanently."