Accession Number:



The 2008 Battle of Sadr City: Reimagining Urban Combat

Descriptive Note:

Corporate Author:


Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



This monograph was written as part of a project that assessed U.S. military operations in Sadr City, principally in spring and early summer 2008, to stop Shiite extremists from firing short-range rockets and mortars into the International Zone. These operations also set the conditions to allow stability and Iraqi government control to be extended to the whole of Baghdad. This study of the Battle of Sadr City offers insights and lessons learned that can inform a broader understanding of urban operations particularly those conducted as part of irregular warfare and thereby help the Army understand what capabilities it will need in the future. In late March 2008 a key battle took place in Sadr City, a Shia area of Baghdad with an estimated 2.4 million residents. This battle solidified the authority of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and enabled him to extend government control to the whole of Baghdad. Thus, the battle helped create conditions in which U.S. forces could realize important contemporary operational objectives in Iraq. The U.S. and Iraqi security forces that fought the battle had as their objective the stopping of enemy activity, rather than clearing insurgents from Sadr City. Their methods and success provide lessons for how U.S. forces might reimagine the conduct of urban operations, particularly in large cities that will likely be a key challenge in the future. This monograph adds to a small but growing body of literature on the Battle of Sadr City. The action did attract some journalistic attention, mostly because of the extensive use of unmanned drones and other high-technology assets. Indeed, 60 Minutes aired a segment on the battle. Within U.S. military circles, such debate as has occurred has centered on the relative value of lethal force and reconstruction in counterinsurgency. In spite of the battle s importance, relatively little has been written about it. RAND Arroyo Center s study was designed to provide a more complete description of the

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement: