Ramadi is considered to be the southwest point of Iraq's Sunni Triangle. It has been a focal point of resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Because it hosts the main railway line into Syria, it has long been suspected by American commanders of being a staging area for terrorist activity against US and Iraqi security forces.
The city outstretched to a distance of more than 60 kilometers on the Euphrates, the largest city in Al-Anbar.
Ramadi's population has been stated as 444,582 according to UN data from 2003. and 483,209 according to UN from 2004.
however, According to the former regime there are about 700,000 inhabitants.
Several smaller buildings along Highway 10 between the two larger bases are routinely occupied by U.S. and Iraqi units, and just outside the city there are a number of other, less dangerous and better equipped camps, where an Army brigade headquarters and its support units are based.
During the Iraq War, in March 2003 to July 2007, a series of operations by US forces, was not successful in driving resistance from Ramadi.
During this period of time 1-124th Infantry was responsible for most of Ramadi's AO (Area of Operations), including the central area. Members of the Battalion received many injuries but none were fatal. Most of them were due to IEDs and firefights with terrorist groups.
The 3rd ACR controlled other sectors to the west of Ramadi. The Florida Guard conducted most of the city patrols and manned many observation posts located throughout the city.
The 3rd ACR departed Ramadi in September 2003, handing it over to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division (1st BCT, 1st ID) of Fort Riley, Kansas; however, until March, the 1st BCT fell under the command of the 82nd Airborne Division. In March, the 1st Marine Division deployed to Anbar, replacing the 82nd. While Army units in Iraq complete year-long tours, Marine units stay for seven months; in Ramadi, one Marine battalion typically augments an Army brigade. During the first half of 2004, 1st BCT's two battalions (1-16th Infantry, 1-34th Armor) were augmented by the 2nd Battalion 4th Marines (2/4). When 2/4 left in September, they handed their sector of Ramadi over to the 2nd Battalion 5th Marines (2/5), who completed their tour in April 2005, then 1st Battalion 5th Marines (1/5) took over.
The spring of 2004 was particularly bloody in Ramadi. In the opening days of the rebellion that began in April 2004, and which was dominated by the siege of Fallujah, 2/4 suffered one of the deadliest attacks of the war, losing 12 Marines in a single day. During this time, with most of the 1st Marine Division's resources focused on Fallujah, 1-16 Infantry was left with the burden of controlling Ramadi; for the most part, the four battalions occupying the Ramadi-Fallujah corridor (including the insurgent den of Khaldiyah) hunkered down and defended what ground they already held along the city's central thoroughfare. The remainder of the month was also costly for resistance groups: between 800 and 1000 were killed in running battles with the Marines, and the 1-16 Infantry.
In March 2006, as 3rd Battalion 8th Marines arrived to replace 3/7, violence again began to escalate in Ramadi, with U.S. casualties spiking. With the 2-69th gone, the 2-28th BCT was again reinforced to help damp the terrorist activity, this time by the 1-506th Infantry, a newly arrived unit of the 101st Airborne Division that was transferred to Ramadi from Baghdad's Sadr City. During March 2006 two soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment were killed in Ramadi, possibly indicating that elements of the secretive Task Force 145 (which later helped to kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi) were present in the city. Additionally, at least 200 terrorists were killed by Army Ranger and 101st Airborne units during the month of April.
In early June 2006, 2-28th BCT completed its year long deployment and the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division was shifted from Tal Afar in northern Iraq to replace the departing Pennsylvanian National Guardsmen. 2nd Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment remained in Tal Afar. To reinforce the 1st BCT, 1st Armored Division General Casey ordered the deployment to Ramadi of two of his three strategic reserve battalions (the 1-6th Infantry and 1-35th Armor, and also the A Co. 40th Engineer company from the 2nd BCT, 1st Armored Division in Kuwait).
On June 18, 2006, the 1st BCT, 1st Armored Division launched its offensive. Despite fears that the assault would be a repeat of the Marine offensive in Fallujah, the brigade took a different approach, discouraging residents from fleeing and moving in slowly with much more limited use of heavy weapons such as Abrams tanks, artillery, and close air support. As the offensive opened, two columns of U.S. mechanized troops pushed north into the city's suburbs with Iraqi Army units, cutting off two major entrances to the city for the first time during the war; meanwhile, 3rd Battalion 8th Marines held onto the western half of the downtown area and patrolled the river and its two bridges (the only northbound exits from the city) on foot and in boats; The 1-506th Infantry, 1-6th Infantry, 1-35th Armor and 40th Engineers continued to hold the main thoroughfare and the eastern exits. As the operation began, there was controversy over the number of refugees who left the city despite the U.S. military's assurances that the offensive would be of a very different character than the Fallujah assault of 2004.
1/1 AD and forces under its command proceeded to establish a series of mutually supporting combat outposts manned by US and Iraqi forces both inside and outside the city. These outposts put increasing pressure on Al Qaeda and their allies. According to Colonel MacFarland, "These [COPs] have had a very disruptive effect on the enemy. Most importantly, though, it’s given us the opportunity to engage the people of Ramadi.... And we’ve established real relationships with the people in parts of the city that we hadn’t been able to in the past".
Throughout July, insurgents operating in multiple platoon strength units attacked the new outposts during their construction. These attacks culminated in a city-wide battle on July 24 during which insurgents suffered heavy casualties after being beaten back.
In Mid September 2006, 1st Battalion 6th Marines took over the AO of Downtown Ramadi. The Battalion conducted several crucial missions along with the security and construction of numerous security stations through out the downtown area. This was a crucial step in the deterring of IED attacks, IRL attacks and increasing the ability to conduct patrols in the Sook and NE corner of their AO. 1/6's progress and continuous pressure began to force out the city's insurgents and allowed the formation of a current and functional Iraqi Police force and Iraqi National Guard unit. 1st Battalion 6th Marines was extended in the 2006/2007 surge of 30,000 troops to the Al Anbar province. This allowed the battalion to continue to regulate and patrol the once "deadliest city in the world" and allow other Iraqi cities to begin the movement towards stability and away from insurgency.
In the beginning months of 2007, 1-9 Infantry (1st Battalion 9th Infantry Regiment), 2ID (2nd Infantry Division (United States)), with support of the 1st Armored Division (United States), Navy SEALS, and 1/1/1 Iraqi Army, launched an offensive in East Ramadi, Operation Murfreesboro. The operation was intended to cut off the Ma'Laab district from the rest of Ramadi in order to drive out the AQIZ. In February, the operation was in full force with tank support, airstrikes, and GMLRS and succefully divided the district by setting up a barrier of concrete walls. There was more than 40 engagements, 8 large weapons caches found, about 20 IEDs exploded, about 35 more found, 70 EKIA, 10 EWIA, and 32 detainees. The success of this operation led to the forming of the Ramadi Police Force working along side with US and IA. 1-9 INF also worked with the head Shiek in the Sofia district which assisted in valuable information to the success of operations for the 1-9 INF in Ramadi. This led to the peacful summer months of 2007 with the average of attacks of zero. Furthermore led into the succesion of the The Anbar Awakening.
On 14 September, these tribal leaders met with the 1/1 AD Brigade Commander and formed the Al Anbar Awakening movement. The brigade commander, Colonel Sean MacFarland, immediately pledged coalition support to the movement. After that, the numbers of recruits for the Iraqi Security Forces increased dramatically, attacks against coalition forces dropped precipitously, and other tribes began to come forward to cooperate with the Coalition against Al Qaeda, spreading across Al Anbar province and beyond.
By summer 2007, Ramadi had gone weeks without significant conflict or attacks, and has become a functioning capital of Al Anbar again. It is considered the most prominent success story of the counterterrorist campaign to date.