Thursday, August 04, 2005

A Briefing at the DOD

The following are excerpts from a Department of Defense news briefing. They've been edited to focus on remarks dealing with operations in Haditha, Iraq, with my running commentary along the right hand side.

Transcript Commentary
GEN. HAM: This morning at about 06:30 local time in Iraq, a mounted U.S. Marine element operating near Hadithah was attacked by an explosive device. Initial reports are that 15 personnel were killed in the attack: 14 United States Marines and one interpreter. One Marine was wounded and has subsequently been medically evacuated from the scene. Multinational Force West, which you know is the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force Forward, is investigating this incident. Notification of next of kin is underway, but has not yet been completed. The attack this morning occurred in the same general area as an attack, which occurred yesterday in which six U.S. Marines were killed. This is the first indication that an operation may be underway.
Q General, what do these attacks over the past couple of days, in which 20 -- actually, 21 Marines were killed, because there was another Marine from that same unit who was killed by an IED two days ago -- what does that say about the state of insurgency in that region? What information do you have about the status of the insurgents, what they're up to there, and what the U.S. Marine Corps has been trying to do over the past couple of months in trying to root them out?

GEN. HAM: Well, it is, I think, very important to always remember that this is a very lethal and unfortunately adaptive enemy that we are faced with inside Iraq.

It's important, I think, to put this in a larger context: that if you look along the Euphrates River and the number of towns and villages along the river that have previously been locations from which insurgents have operated. Multinational Force West is conducting a number of operations in a number of those towns simultaneously, in an effort to deny the enemy freedom of movement, to deny them safe haven.

And so I think what we're seeing here is a concerted effort to assert control -- ultimately Iraqi control in those towns, and there's resistance that is coming from the insurgents in those towns.

Perhaps previously they may have had an opportunity to move. For example, if there was pressure in Hadithah, they could perhaps move someplace else. Well, now because of the simultaneity of operations that Multinational Force West is conducting, they don't have that freedom of movement, and I think that's one of the contributing causes to this -- to these number of direct contacts that are occurring.

...

Q Can I ask -- I just wanted to make it clear because I'm not sure we're on the same wavelength here. I think the point that I tried to make was that because of attacks over the past couple of days, it appears that the insurgents' capability to operate has not been diminished. Is that the case? Are they still able to operate pretty freely in that region? 

GEN. HAM: Well, I think not. Again, they are dangerous, and they certainly have a capability. But as to whether they are not -- whether they have an ability to freely operate throughout the area, I think not. And that's specifically the focus of Multinational Force West's operation

Here's the first hint that this operation is qualitatively different from anything previous. The implication of Gen. Ham's statements is that in the past the coalition only had the ability to drive out insurgents locally, like chasing a soap bar around a tub. He strongly suggests that this time, there is no place to hide and the loss of the 21 Marines was in line with this new and offensive goal.
Q General Ham, can you -- there have been reports by Ansar al-Sunna that they may have beheaded one of these Americans. Their bodies may have been mutilated. Can you -- number one, are all Americans and Marines at least in these operations accounted for? Is there anybody missing? And do you have any credible reports that any of the bodies that have been recovered have been mutilated, beheaded, anything like that? 

GEN. HAM: We do not have any indication of the latter. And Multinational Forces Iraq has recently conducted an accountability, and now all forces are accounted for. 
This provides an insight into the kind of homework the press does prior to attending the briefings. They have access to collateral sources of information -- Jihadi websites -- possibly tips from people they know.
Q Are there any Iraqis involved in these operations, these simultaneous operations that are going on in these towns, the Euphrates River Valley, in conjunction with the Marines, and if so, can you describe those? 

GEN. HAM: The Iraqi security forces are involved. They were not specifically involved in this particular operation in Hadithah, but in the next town to the northwest, if you will, in Rawah, the Iraqi security forces have been significantly involved. On the 1st of August they discovered with -- based on local tips from a local Iraqi, they discovered a fairly sizeable weapons cache in that area. So the Iraqi security forces are clearly operating in that area, as they are throughout the country. 

Q General, the details of the six who were killed, the snipers, is still sketchy. Can you fill in any blanks about what happened? Was it an enemy force that found their location, or was it perhaps some people that were thought to be friendly forces that ended up killing the Marines? 

GEN. HAM: There's certainly no indication of the latter. As you might understand, I'm not desirous of talking about specific tactics, techniques and procedures that are employed by various units. But I think, as you all understand, we have a variety of capabilities, ranging from very small units to very large units. This was a unit that was properly prepared, trained and equipped for their operation. They came under attack, and as we know today, that the six U.S. Marines were killed in that attack. 

Q But you're kind of ruling out that they thought they were Iraqi friendlies and then were killed by them? 

GEN. HAM: What I think I said was there's no indication that that was the case. 

Finally the penny drops and the press are trying to press for details on what must be an ongoing operation.

Gen. Ham finally hints at where the access of coalition manpower came from -- Iraqi troops. Almost instantly he senses the next question: were the Marines betrayed by the Iraqis and pre-emptively answers it.

Q Sir, have any troops been moved into that Euphrates River valley? And can you talk a little bit, for people who might not understand that area, of that line that runs from Baghdad all the way up to al Qaim, how important that is to you and your goals in Anbar province? 

GEN. HAM: Well, certainly western Anbar province has been an area of concern for a very long time. And the Euphrates River and the towns and villages along it are likely locations for the movement of insurgents either cross-border from Syria or inside Iraq itself. There have been additional forces that have deployed from other parts of Iraq, and specifically from Multinational Force Northwest, to assist in this effort along the Euphrates River. 
The press now talks about the River War and the role of this line of communications in supporting enemy fighters in Iraq from sanctuaries in Syria.
Q Sir, have any troops been moved into that Euphrates River valley? And can you talk a little bit, for people who might not understand that area, of that line that runs from Baghdad all the way up to al Qaim, how important that is to you and your goals in Anbar province?

GEN. HAM: Well, certainly western Anbar province has been an area of concern for a very long time. And the Euphrates River and the towns and villages along it are likely locations for the movement of insurgents either cross-border from Syria or inside Iraq itself. There have been additional forces that have deployed from other parts of Iraq, and specifically from Multinational Force Northwest, to assist in this effort along the Euphrates River.

Q Can you describe like how many forces, what the -- I mean, is this a -- I mean, I understand Operation Sword had been going on and that was completed. I mean, is there a name for this operation? Are there -- is this, you know, running from, you know, Hadithah all the way out to the border? You have a large operation that's going on right now, and can you tell us how many troops are involved?

GEN. HAM: I don't know in their entirety. It's about a battalion strength from Multinational Force Northwest that is assisting in this effort, and they have -- I'm trying to -- at least a battalion strength of Iraqi army with them.

Q This is just in the Hadithah corridor area, or is this going all the way out to the border?

GEN. HAM: This is all the way out to the border.

Now questioning turns to the "adequacy of troops issue", a subject to which the briefing will return again and again.

It turns out from the answer that the ongoing operation, which has no public name, is quite large. This operation runs all along the Euphrates River line "all the way out to the border".

Q Until the last couple of days, Iraqis have borne a lot of the recent casualties. Of course, the last two days there have been heavy American casualties. Does this represent any kind of change in strategy on the insurgents to target Americans more forcefully? 

MR. DI RITA: To target Americans? 

Q To target American troops -- a shift of emphasis? 

GEN. HAM: Not that we're able to discern. We don't think so. We think the insurgent effort remains very much focused on discrediting coalition presence, and discrediting the Iraqi security forces, and discrediting the Iraqi transitional government. So I don't think -- we haven't seen a particular waiving of effort, if you will, on the insurgents that says, "Okay, now we're going to go after coalitions." It just -- we think they remain focused on each of those three entities. 

Q And these recent casualties are because American troops have been in harm's way to a greater degree recently with these operations? 

GEN. HAM: In this particular operation, which the operation in Hadithah was largely conducted by the U.S. Marines, I think just a -- it was just a fact of that circumstance, not any discernible change in the tactics used by the insurgents.
This is exchange which suggests a tendency -- perhaps only a rhetorical tendency -- to assign the role of the offensive to the enemy. The fact that fewer Americans have been recently killed is put down to the fact that the enemy has stopped targeting them. Gen. Ham suggests that the Americans died because they were operating against an enemy stronghold.

The most interesting questions remain unanswered. The unnamed operation must be large -- and ongoing. Just what is happening? Recently, retired General Jack Keane kicked up a public relations hornet's nest  by saying that US forces had killed or captured 50,000 insurgents in 2005. That enormous lethality would suggest that, despite the loss of the Marines, the ongoing fighting must be lopsided. Nothing to do but await events.

99 Comments:

Blogger PalaceRat said...

Due to login problems, I wasn't able to post a comment to the other thread, based on Gen. Keane's comments ("All Ye Know On Earth, And All Ye Need To Know"). I was just going to add that I understand the number of enemy KIAs in Iraq in 2005 to be only a small fraction of the overall number used by Keane.

As for the other component in his global number -- those captured ---it's pretty well known (and very understandable) that a very large percentage of suspects detained is released fairly quickly -- only a bit of wheat in all the chaff that's gathered up. I think the gross numbers on security detainees are constantly moving targets, but as of mid-year there were something like 9,000 in custody and more than 15,000 had been processed and released. But given varying timelines and various levels of detainees, it's exceptionally difficult to know if certain of Keane's apples match up against other known oranges.

Divining trends from "the data" in this war I believe is very challenging. The military tries, of course. For us outside kibbitzers I think it's wiser to stay close to a practical, strategic framework: don't focus on body counts, but instead, for example, on such things as the number of Iraqi transitional political milestones disrupted by the enemy (zero, to date).

Okinawa was a meatgrinder that had no impact on the strategic outcome (except, perhaps, to confirm the need for continuation of the brutal, total war against the Empire).

More to the point of this post, though it's not as stark in this transcript as it can be, one of the standard media distortions that's so extreme it's almost amusing occurs when US casualties increase due to US offensives. I recall wire-service stories out of Baghdad (back when there was more action there, and all the city was patrolled by US forces) with headlines and lead paragraphs recounting US losses and noting the increase in levels of violence. Down in the article, the fact that the action was the result of a US attack was slipped in quietly.

Some shades of that here. Decreasing enemy freedom of movement, decreasing enemy total capability, decreasing enemy options -- all obviously consistent with a brief uptick in Coalition casualties. But to the media and most of the Beltway crowd, it's substantially beyond their grasp.

8/04/2005 02:52:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

palacerat,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. The fact that all 50,000 are not KIAs or long term detainees is probably a good thing. But if we take the numbers -- 9,000 in custody and 15,000 processed -- and add them up as apples that still leaves a lot of oranges. But this is bad news from a certain point of view, because it can be used to argue, with some justification, that the insurgency is extremely durable. It can take a licking and keep on ticking. There were hints in the Washington Institute summary quoted at surprise that the insurgency did not go down for the count after being hit so hard.

This type of shock at the tenacity of the enemy happened often in World War 2. The shock at the Japanese being able to survive battleship bombardment on small atolls. The shock that the European War, slated to be over by Christmas, was rescheduled by the Bulge. In Korea MacArthur had declared the war all but over when the Chinese came across the Yalu.

But if the need not to underestimate the enemy has to be learned time and again, the need to remember he is human must also be recalled. Japanese determination was ultimately brittle. Even the invincible SS had its limits. We know now that Giap was at the point of quitting at the Tet.

I used to think the military briefers were being disingenuous when they denied doing a "body count" tally in the sense of using it as a metric; and I realize now they might actually be telling the literal truth because it is dangerous to fasten on one indicator to judge progress. Body counts are probably important, but other intangibles like willingness to fight, leadership, etc are probably of similar importance.

I'm sure there are people on the Left who will maintain quite sincerely that it is possible to concede that the US military is killing or capturing 50,000 every six months without losing the slightest faith in a Sunni insurgent victory. In their own way they are saying that a body count doesn't matter.

Yet of course it does, thought not in a direct way. When 21 Marines die in an offensive operation it has a tremendously demoralizing effect on much of the nation and heartening effect on the war's critics. There's a running body count of American KIA in Iraq at many sites run by the very same people who would deny that a similar count of enemy dead had any meaning, as if the enemy were not men, as if they never wearied, never lost hope.

It's an open question whether the current operation will achieve its strategic objectives. The only thing to do is watch and see.

8/04/2005 03:22:00 AM  
Blogger Paul A. Gaddis said...

Now I understand why the media is always talking about an "up surge" in the"violence".
They don't want people to think that the US is doing anything but sitting around and waiting to be killed. They want us to think that the momentum is all on the terrorist side. I KNEW they where spinning but did not know in which direction and how fast.

8/04/2005 03:54:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

But still, the facts are troubling. As abhorrent as having 21 Americans die to free a bunch of total wasters is, I find:

1) the lack of appreciation of the sacrifice of these brave men

2) the continued murdering of so many innocent Iraqis by their 'own' countrymen

unsettling.

Is it "East is East and West is West, and never the t'wain shall meet"?

Should we just bunker down and let the Sunnis/Shiites kill each other?

ADE

8/04/2005 04:12:00 AM  
Blogger Heraclitus said...

Seems a pretty consistent course over the past 16 months since the Fallujah contractor murders and the Sadr uprising.
1. Stop Sadr and the Iranian intelligence supported Shia Sadr bunch.
2. After the first Fallujah offensive was stopped by Iraq interim government, wait for the car bombs to turn Shia opinion towards a Fallujah offensive. Work on pacifying Baghdad. Sadr City turns against Sunni.
3. Fallujah offensive, repression of Mosul uprising.
4. National elections.
5. Offensives south of Baghdad and Fallujah outlying areas.

Now its finally time to work the river network forming the Sunni heartland stretching to Syria. Do so in a concentrated manner. Drive them out to the countryside where they can be targeted.

I've a feeling the Iraq Shia are secretly cheering this one. I think they think its time their Sunni brothers really felt the hammer.

Meanwhile the political process needs to stay on track for end of year elections and U.S. troop levels need to start coming down in the spring.

8/04/2005 04:39:00 AM  
Blogger cahmd said...

Dear Wretchard:
Your insight and perspective is what is missing from the MSM. It would be wonderful if a larger audience, as in the millions, had the opportunity to hear or read you. I really think you would have a positive impact on public opinion vis-a-vis the WOT and Iraq.

8/04/2005 04:54:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

W
"Nothing to do but await events".

Actually, I think that's the bit I don't like. How about being more pro-active. Why can't we make it even more lopsided? Let's stir the pot and tell the Iraqis we are returning to barracks to see how they get along on their own. Then, when you've killed each other, we'll emerge and run the place properly (and set up our bases so that we can repeat the process in Iran).

We need a bit more left field, if you'll forgive the expression.

ADE

8/04/2005 05:27:00 AM  
Blogger Goesh said...

Once Iran has nuke weapons, and I don't buy into the notion one bit that it is a long ways off, they can essentially enter Iraq full force with agents and there isn't a damn thing that can be done about it. Iraq will be named Shariaville or Shiaville, your choice. Iran with nukes is the ace in the hole for the spread of fundamentalism - look at the President they just elected. Given the oil reserves in Iran and Shiaville and the energy market with India and China in particular, we haven't even seen the real exportation of terrorism. We are extremely vulnerable on our southern border and it will be but a matter of time before we get a few suitcase nukes or dirty nukes compliments of Iran. We have to ask ourselves, can we truly survive financially if New York city and D.C. got hit with suitcase nukes? The US appears incapable of sealing the border with Iran and Syria and both accomodate jihadis that want to go to Iraq and engage Americans. It is a matter of time and attrition. why else did al sadr compromise? Time is on his side and his ilk pretty much has control of Basrah already. The political process will follow and is already following, with no better example of this than the exection of the journalist exposing some of this. The Brits won't engage but does this really surprise anyone when, they can't even stop imams in London from advocating terrorism? The bottom line is oil, the cartels and magnates to whom it doesn't matter who is buying it and for what reasons because their lifestyle will not be affected.

8/04/2005 05:37:00 AM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...

Goesh, I think you're on the right track as to the future direction. I think, though, that China has a bigger role in all this than anybody is officially admitting, and is using the jihaadis as deniable proxies

The long-term strategy is to make the US spend lots of money, time, energy, and manpower fighting the jihaadis, and so prevent US forces from building up their conventional and strategic arms in ways that could be used to challenge China when China makes its move

8/04/2005 06:16:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Thanks for the breakdown. It helps to see what is said and what they really mean.

All to often it goes unreported that U.S. deaths are the result of constant offensives against the insurgents. The insurgents would no doubt love to be allowed to hole up and attempt to outlast the coalition troops. The coalition troops are not letting them do that.

21 American lives is no doubt an expensive price to pay, but one that must be paid.

8/04/2005 06:30:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The General reports that the Coalition is operating in the Euphrates River Valley in Battalion strength.
That is aproximately 1,000 - 1,500 troops. 1% of our Force in Iraq.
It is time to pick up the pace, both in the tempo of operations and in the removal of US troops from Garrison duties.
Two tracks that must be pursued in tandem to achieve success in Iraq.
Iraq for Iraqis

8/04/2005 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Michael Yon has an excellent account (complete with pictures) of the deadly game of hide and seek in Mosul. The enemy sets up spot checkpoints to kill any they find with government ID. The US has methods to spot this in real time and counterambush the checkpoints. Intel anticipates an enemy ambush. Yon comes along and snaps a sequence of photos of the counterambush. Two enemy dead. No doubt.

Yon's article gives a great sense of how different this fight is from say, the Gulf War. Imagine chasing Toyotas with Strykers. Adapation cuts both ways. People come to the party as they are. As an aside, there is also apparently (not in Yon's article) an electronic war going on between jammer designers and IED designers, reminiscent of the Wild Weasels versus SAMs. Move countermove. It was interesting to learn (via Google) about all kinds of technologies that can provide a near realtime way of detecting the delta on movement routes to uncover mining efforts. Maybe one of these methods was used to spot the 'hasty' enemy checkpoints in Mosul.

When you examine the insurgency in detail it is clear that it bears no resemblance whatsoever to the caricature described by the George Galloways, consisting of jut-jawed, resolute peasant resistants armed with nothing but a rusty rifle. That fantasy picture is strictly for the consumption of the same people who believed in all the touching myths of 30s Leftism. The actual fight is carried forward by enemy personnel who understand third harmonic effects of non-linear junction technology as applied to IED triggers; people who can create spot checkpoints and kill targets they find instantly without blinking. The enemy are pros.

That in its turn implies they are tangible, with lines of supplies, methods of training, systems of rewards, professional standards. That's what they are in reality. Galloway's fantasy figures cannot be defeated. The real insurgents can be.

8/04/2005 06:34:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Agreeing with the physical and tactical assessments here, and noting Wretchard's keen dissection and commentary, I call our attention to the ideological (attitude, motivation, commitment, passive support, madrassah rants) front in This War.

Islam, including Iraq and Iran, recognizes and respects its own embedded prophecies about The Qaim (The Point); its prophecies about The Mahdi and the Return of the 12th Imam.

By mounting a PUBLIC, WIDESPREAD and UNIGNORABLE media-borne dialogue to inform Muslims worldwide of the coming, in the "Holy Year" predicted (1260 AH) of THEIR Promised One, the dialogue will catalyze enormous energies within the Muslim world, including but not limited to:
1)discrediting of and refutation of imams, mullahs and other self-appointed 'teachers' and 'leaders';
2)the enrollment, by the millions, of ex-Muslims in the Cause of Baha'u'llah;
3)the expression BY those masses of newly-declared Baha'is of their own determination TO ACT POSITIVELY, instead of living lives defined by 'hatred of the Great Satan'; and
4)a further dynamic energizing of the catalyzing dialogue itself, leading to further examination, commentary and acceptance of the Station, Teachings and Life of the Lord of Hosts, the Glory of God.

Or, Christian clergy COULD lead the way, but I doubt if they have the courage of their convictions; they'll continue to "scoff and deny our Lord Who redeems us" has returned, even though St. Peter warned us AGAINST that, calling it a "damnable heresy."

8/04/2005 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Papa Bear nails it. (sorry, OT) At the end of the Cold War we learned the extent to which the western anti-war and anti-nuclear movements had been influenced from Moscow. And we knew throughout the Cold War the role the Soviets had played in training various 'liberation movements' (terrorists).

The Chinese are simply better at it -- as we'll discover to our dismay.

8/04/2005 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger Monty said...

The uptick in American WIA and KIA indicates to me that a large operation is going on; you always see a spike in casualties when the military is engaged closely with the enemy.

It's always sad and a shock when we get news of American combat deaths, but I think that shock is doubled because we never hear of enemy KIA and WIA. If fourteen Americans were killed, how many of "them" did we get? The American deaths in isolation seems to be a senseless waste; in context it might be seen as a sad but necessary part of an ongoing combat operation.

The combat reporting in this war -- apart from the early "embedded" reports during the invasion -- has been absolutely miserable. The only really good and in-depth stuff is coming from Michael Yon and Steven Vincent (who, tragically, was murdered in Basra recently).

The main problem in Iraq for us civilians right now is that we have no real way to gauge progress in a military sense other than Iraqi political milestones -- if they make it to an election, we assume we're winning. But there are core questions I'd like to see the military answer:

1. How much of the insurgency is local (i.e., Iraqi, whether Baathist or Islamist) and how much is foreign (Syrian/Saudi/etc.)?

2. How porous is the border with Syria? Is it mainly men or material being spirited across? Which way is the cash flowing, in or out?

3. If the insurgent ranks really are much larger than 10,000, then the jihadis must be recruiting and training from somewhere. How is the recruiting and training done? If local, where are the camps? If foreign, how are the jihadis infiltrating?

4. Can any useful lessons be drawn from the size, strength, disposition, and composition of the IEDs and VBIEDs? Is the explosive something like PETN (homemade), scavenged from artillery shells, or is it higher-quality stuff like Semtex or C-4?

5. Are the insurgent attacks coordinated at the tactical level, or simply aimed at targets of opportunity?

I'm not sure how much of this information the military can share without giving the game away, but I find it difficult to gauge how well or badly things are going without knowing at least some of these details.

8/04/2005 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger sunguh5307 said...

Re: upsurge in violence near the end (ie Okinawa, Battle of the Bulge, Tet, Korea, etc...)

Hindsight is always 20/20- I know a bit more about the Korean War and the Chinese side. After the Chinese invasion, the U.S./U.N forces were forced back, but by the time they made their way back the China/USSR/North Korean forces were begging for a halt. But we didn't realize that until much later. Too late, we accepted their presence with the '53 Armistice when we could have pushed further. We had the same mistake after Tet. Why have we been so reluctant to call them at their bluff?

Perception of weakness or strength can prove to be as critical as the reality of the battlefield. Hannibal and Pyrrhus's victories against the Romans proved to be that- 'Pyrrhic'. We could learn alot from that, and some are.

In retrospect, looking back on the wars of the 20th century, we see that the people we faced and feared (with some major exceptions like the Soviets in the Fulda Gap)were much less formidable than they appeared in our gushing media. I wouldn't want to advocate censorship, but this backstabbing does have a name and a presence in our media- and we would profit greatly from clarifying what treason is and how we would prosecute it.

But maybe I'm just a digital brownshirt.

pmclassic.blogspot.com

8/04/2005 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Monty,

One of the problems with officially discussing any aspect of the war is that any statement becomes part of the 'record'. You are not allowed to make any mistakes about estimates of enemy strengths, timelines, locations. There's always a Congressional blue ribbon committee at the end of that road.

Nor is it necessarily good to say 'lookit how many bad guys we got'. Remember the Highway of Death? There are human rights advocates still looking to bring Schwartzkopf to a War Crimes court over that one. Losing's a crime. Winning's a crime. The only safe course is to do nothing.

8/04/2005 06:50:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

"Losing is a crime, winning is a crime."

Agree, and this lack of a moral compass is a BIG part of the disease-state the Free World is in now!

8/04/2005 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger Monty said...

Wretchard,

Your point is well taken, but this only confirms to me that we need some equivalent to the old Hays Office restrictions that we had during WWII. (Boy, I can hear the lefties scream bloody murder at the mere *mention*...)

Civilian morale is just as important as military morale during a campaign like this, and if there's a real weak point in the Coalition campaign during OIF it's been their neglect of the home front. When all we see every day is young American soldiers getting blown up, absent any larger context about why this happened, it chips away at the national will to stay there (which is very much the intention of the terrorists who do the bombing).

I think it would be a huge help to have a high-profile once-weekly military briefing to the whole country, run in prime-time, to update everyone on the state of operations in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters. It needn't involve too much detail, but it would go a long way to showing the American public that progress is being made that the Cassandras of the press are focusing only on the negative.

If, as I think likely, we are forced to engage Syria militarily, this groundwork will need to be laid to get the public on board.

8/04/2005 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

You can't collapse a marketplace through actions designed to fight a centralized movement.

http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2005/08/the_ied_marketp.html#more

8/04/2005 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

John,

Wonderful article on the management of the IED industry. Some quibbles wiht its thrust though. Americans are decentralized too. They also learn from each and every IED. Americans also take video and analyze it.

But on a more fundamental level the technical race soon gets beyond what 'insurgents' can learn over the Internet or word of mouth. Making self-forging warheads, creating unjammable IED triggers gets tricky and requires specialized material. What we are in fact seeing the consequences of this tech race in (see the Di Rita transcript and Gen. Ham's discussion) a decline in the numbers of IEDs and a concentration on their sophistication and size. Fewer but bigger and better. Big enough to destroy an AAV. They used a 500 pounder to destroy a Humvee.

This is pretty revealing development, because the competitive effects of the model described in the article you cited is creating a consolidation in the IED market, to extend the metaphor. The problem with this, from the insurgency's point of view, is that it has cut down on the numbers of effective IEDs. It's made a lot of their IED cells obsolete. So I'll make this bold prediction. The fewer but more sophisticated IEDs must be husbanded for offensive operations, where the American target can be selected, or to defend high value insurgent strongholds. This makes them vulnerable to swarming and upticks in American tempo. If you hit them harder and faster they can't cover because they don't have the numbers to do it. Just my thoughts.

8/04/2005 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger Monty said...

Wretchard and John:

Another thing about the sophisticated IED "market": there's a limited number of quality manufacturers. You can't just make shaped charges and camouflaged bombs anywhere and by any one; they are sophisticated mechanisms. Further, you can't just gin up a "cookbook" and farm it out to the locals in whatever town.

It's the same with car bombs -- not just any yahoo can wire up a vehicle to make an effective bomb.

I suspect that we'll find several IED "factories" in and around Baghdad that ship out their products for local consumption. In the short term, that's bad for us: we have to figure out how this marketplace works. In the middle to long term, it's bad for them: we can disrupt the market with relatively few strikes and in a fairly small area.

We will never totally eliminate the threat from IEDs. It's not hard to make things explode -- worst case, you can just use gasoline or ANFO to make crude but effective explosive devices. You can do away with electronics by implementing low-tech timers or fuse-type systems. (Or by just brainwashing some dummy into being a suicide-bomber, thus turning your explosive into a low-tech guided missile.) The big "win" against IEDs will be to make them an ineffective weapon, and that means keeping them from being big or sophisticated enough to take out military vehicles.

I also have a feeling that as military targets get harder and harder to hit, the insurgents will go back to slaughtering civilians. And this ultimately will be their downfall -- when the Sunnis hate them more than they hate us, the war is effectively over.

8/04/2005 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger PalaceRat said...

Some of the enemy are pros, but many aren't. The pros are most likely to be the ones with no future in the new Iraq, true "dead-enders". Blood on their hands, powerful enemies now running the country -- whatever.

Parts of the opposition have experienced localized collapses, or at least marked declines. Fallujah, obviously, after November '04 was a mere shadow of its former troublesome self. In the last few months Mosul has seen a drop-off in VBIED attacks, vastly inflated prices charged by criminals to perform "insurgent" logistics, and severe recruiting problems indicated by the sudden use of low-grade and ineffective street criminals. Haifa Street is far from the trouble spot it was just a few months back.

In each case, vigorous coalition action brought about the changes. Fallujah was across the board assault, Mosul was a combo of successful leadership targeting and skilfull tactics, Haifa Street was perhaps the most infuriating in that it was a microcosm of much of the struggle: a "hornet's nest" yielded rather quickly and meekly, once serious pressure was applied.

I've gone at it with MNF-I folks repeatedly on the informal black-out of enemy KIA numbers. Many of them agree -- the avoidance of publicly acknowledging body-counts is essentially misleading, and can lead to many of the problems that government entities encounter when they withhold info from the public. And the "body counts" we're talking about are very accurate, they're not estimates. There's almost no jungle or other natural cover, the coalition nearly always controls the battlefield when the smoke clears, and the enemy is rarely able to remove their dead.

It's premature, but it's been hard for me to shake the feeling since April 2004 that the only important mistake in Iraq has been the decision to pacify, not suppress, certain areas. Winning hearts and minds in the Sunni heartland is almost entirely about domination. Part of the hard-nosed approach that probably would have yielded faster results would have been many obvious tactics that apparently were eschewed as well - mass preventive detention of Ba'ath and mukhabbarat and Rep. Guard personnel, extensive and permanent checkpoint control of all major roads in Anbar, northern Nineweh, and parts of Diyala and Salah ad-Din governorates. Probably some long-term cordon and other isolation of selected Baghdad neighborhoods.

The adaptable, resilient Iraqi enemy is probably quite mediocre, by historical standards. They certainly have faced an utterly hopeless strategic situation from the outset (and ours has been correspondingly advantageous). But when they're given free reign to intimidate, kill, and plot in relative peace most of the time, it takes longer to suppress them.

I've not mentioned the jihadis, but my assumption is that the bulk of that problem will virtually evaporate once the easily-detected and widely-despised foreigners are no longer given critical passive support in Sunni areas.

There aren't that many Iraqis in troubled areas likely to be able to deal with the third harmonic issues involved with triggering devices, and who otherwise fit the profile. Detain every one who does, preventively. I'd be happy to see them try and adapt to that.

8/04/2005 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

From Windsofchange.net:

"There is no insurgency in the sense of Vietnam, Algeria, or even Chechnya. There is not a web of like-minded (much less amenable) patriots gaining succor and inspiration from the populace. There are a thousand disparate cabals and petit punks and opportunists, each with competing motivations and interests. A water truck leaving a coalition base may be fired upon by a host of various suspects. The "usual suspects" rounded up may include:

1) a 17-year-old who was paid $50,

2) a competitor of the truck's owner who covets his contract,

3) a local tribesman who resents the presence of another affiliate,

4) a garden-variety criminal out to steal the truck, or embezzle the business,

5) a former Ba'athist apparatchik fearing the end of his gravy train,

6) a Jihadist from Yemen or Saudi Arabia or Egypt hoping to please God, or
7) an Iraqi, proud and nationalistic, believing the US is on a craven crusade to plunder his country's oil and rich culture."


In a way, more troubling than a simple insurgency. The human frailty on display in Iraq is sobering, and disheartening. Saddam was a bastard, and these truly are his people.

8/04/2005 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Recently shaped charges have been intercepted at the Iraq-Iran border. This can’t be helpful. Without effective controls to limit access to primary explosive materials the anti-coalition forces can operate with near impunity. The high tech genie is out of the bag and techniques for remotely detonating IEDs can be easily achieved by purchasing components from the middle east equivalent to Radio Shack. But this spiral will continue with growing costs for both sides. The process is insidious and must be broken by a change of the rules. The vulnerabilities are in the weapons depots, the emplacer’s, and the borders of cities and the nation.

8/04/2005 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger Cardozo Bozo said...

Operations have moved from "operations in series" to "operations in parallel".

Thinking about this from a processor design p.o.v., this suggests that intelligence is being burned through at a great rate, which means it must be generated at a great - also in parallel, as intelligence must be local to support each local operation.

This also suggests a high degree of coordination between US forces operating in the same area, but given modern communication technologies, this is not too surprising.

Most interestly, is to look at this from a system-load p.o.v. When a whole bunch of operators (whether server nodes, or anything else) have the ability to shift resources between them, attacking any one of them is like striking a pillow. The load is shared by the whole system. Attacking all of them at the same time however prevents them from helping each other in any way, and each node is left to its own resources to deal with the crisis. The system is suddenly much more brittle, and prone to collapse.

But again, this all comes back to massive amounts of local intelligence being generated at an amazing rate, and in a timely manner.

8/04/2005 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger al fin said...

If technological assistance is being provided to the terrorists by the Chinese, there will be consequences that China may not like. If sophisticated explosives technology is being smuggled across the Iran/Iraq border, there will likewise be consequences the Iranians may not like.

Both China and Iran are susceptible to decapitation attacks, since both are tightly controlled from the top down. Government has a tenuous hold on things in both China and Iran. It would not take much for both China and Iran to start looking like parts of Iraq. The feeble minded fools who run those countries should be made aware of the danger.

8/04/2005 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Our strategy vis a vis Syria and Iran is taking shape. Bolton's first day on the job as UN Ambassador saw a resolution passed calling on Syria and Iran to close down their borders and stop the infiltration of terrorists and supplies into Iraq.

I think this is the start of a paper trail of UN resolutions against both countries. The Iraqi Government and the US Administration are arm in arm in this effort, which neuters the Leftist complaints of American imperialist or hegemonic aims. The Iraqi government, at the very least, is a real strategic asset in that regard. They give us cover for the next step.

Now, I don't think the Administration planned around Syria behaving like Syria and Iran behaving like Iran, which now allows the Administration to use their predispositions, their real transgressions, and the subsequent, and legitimate, Iraqi complaints against them at the UN after-the-fact. But man, that would be impressive.

The pieces are moving.

8/04/2005 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger Cutler said...

In a way, more troubling than a simple insurgency. The human frailty on display in Iraq is sobering, and disheartening. Saddam was a bastard, and these truly are his people.

Some thoughts, maybe completely off the wall but thinking out loud.

The place simply may be too diseased by corruption, blood feuds, and ignorance to save. I'm reminded of the question that Victor Davis Hanson asked after our contractors were strung up in Fallujah, "we must ask the question, did Saddam create Fallujah, or did Fallujah create Saddam?"

Certainly there are kind people in Iraq who simply want a better life, probably the majority. But Iraq, reflective of the Arab world as a whole, may be too dysfunctional to pull anything meaningful out of for a long time.

At the current rate, I expect the Kurds to show signs of pulling themselves out of "Iraq". In the interwar years they created a workable society, economy, and democracy. Even the Turkish factor may not be enough to keep them tied to the rest of the crazy yahoos.

8/04/2005 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

bozo
As we shift to more Iraqi participation in the "Operations" the level of 'actionable' Intel will increase.
If our troops are uncomfortable working with next to the Iraqis it is just another indicator of the necessity for our troops to withdraw.

8/04/2005 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Just an aside about losing 14 Marines at once in that IED attack.
We lost so many in one attack because of the KIND of vehicle used. The Corps had bigger, somewhat more lightly armored fighting vehicles, because of the nature of the primary mission, amphibious assault. The AAV has to be light enough to 'drive' from the transport ships to the beach and large enough to move a whole squad and it's equipment.
It would be nice to have a Marine Corps so rich in funding that, once securely on the beach they could turn to smaller, more heavily armored vehicles but that's a dream world.
The advantag in unit interity of having the whole squad in one vehicle is obvious. Unfortunately we see the disadvantage when the bad guys manage to take one out.

8/04/2005 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Cutler said...

IMO [and this may be just stating the obvious] the problems with Syria and Iran are that we don't have any real military stick available. Iran is too big to deal with. Syria isn't, but to deal with them we'd have to get around the idiotic notion that "if you break it, you bought it." We don't have the troops to occupy and pacify Syria, but we can break the Ba'athists so long as we're not worried about stability.

Actually doing it is less important than convincing the Syrians that you have the will. It is the only way atm to regain the stick.

Resolutions aren't going to matter. They can read the writing on the wall, Iraq is aimed at both them - this is there chance to throw us off the beach.

8/04/2005 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

One wonders how much forensics or "service engineering" the bomb makers get to do. Logically, tehre must be many instances in which faulty design or assembly resulst ina failure to detonate, other cases in which our countermeasures work and the bomb does not go off.
I would think that they do not get to much in the way of teardown and investigation at the "bomb depot" when someone comes back and says "Hey Omar, that stupid bomb you made for me did not go off!" I would very much doubt that any failed bombs are retrieved for analysis or to be returned for a refund.
Given that likely situation, making engineering improvements to the bombs must be rather difficult.
I would think that this alone would drive the terrorists toward larger bombs that can include multiple detonation approaches, be shielded against RF, etc.

8/04/2005 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Of course Peter, all it took was one lucky bomb on a vehicle that dates back to Vietnam. The same attack could have happened 3 months ago, or 6 months ago. We could have barely avoided any number of potential disasters.

That one incident in isolation is tragic, but means next to nothing so far as the ebbs and flows of the entire operation is concerned.

8/04/2005 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Cutler,

Resolutions used to not matter. Bush has made it a centerpiece of his foreign policy to change that. This is why Bolton was such a key player. Get him in, bludgeon the inert SC to pass some resolutions, then use the Iraqis as cover (the political timeline now makes even more sense). Once they are passed, the US will use the same reasoning of "giving the UN relevance" as we did for 1441. Also, now the French will be behind us, as will the British and most likely the Germans, because they have been embarrassed, absolutely shamed, by the Iranians at the negotiating table.

The military option is not even the most dangerous to these regimes, for if we attack it could unify the disparate groups in these countries. However, with resolutions, we can absolutely destroy the economies of these countries with sanctions, and neither regime would outlast that.

Believe me, today's events perked the ears of both the Iranians, and the Syrians. They know what lies down that road.

8/04/2005 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew Scotia said...

It may be nearing the time that we collate our intel about what is going on in Syria and make one or two over the border "demonstrations" accompanied by diplomatic representations. Syria, so far, has not had any consequences for their actions in supporting the insurgency.

8/04/2005 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew Scotia said...

Cardozo Bozo: Good point. Operations do burn up intel at high rates. But the current methods of integrating local intel development with unit TOC's (TOC=Tactical Operations Center) avoids the Vietnam problem of intel to Saigon and then, if you're lucky, actionable material to units.

Once again technology plays a role in that the intel flowing into the TOC's is shared out quickly and then goes on to Higher for more "strategic" analysis.

To get a feel for this read Michael Yon's reports and, if you're an Intel Dweeb, read between the lines.

8/04/2005 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

andrew
The Lebanon experience has been quite costly to the Syrians. All in the cause and effect of OIF.
When we did not move on to Damascus, after the fall of Baghdad, we lost the political ability to do so at will. Now we will wind up the whole justification machine prior to military action.

8/04/2005 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

wretchard said: That in its turn implies they are tangible, with lines of supplies, methods of training, systems of rewards, professional standards. That's what they are in reality. Galloway's fantasy figures cannot be defeated. The real insurgents can be.

Think big: islamo-facism - iran - saudia arabia - pakistan

Think tactical: borders borders borders

Think Finite: Syrian Border to start, why? cause it's there and close and active...

Shoot the ducks down, drain the pond, shoot more ducks, drain more ponds, soon ducks will be endangered as long as outside sources cant refill the pond..

Drain Syria....

8/04/2005 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Goesh said...

Everybody seems to agree that Syria in particular is doing next to nothing to stem the the jihadi flow, yet nobody seems to want to spank them, even mildly, say by devastating one of their air fields. Are we worried about diplomatic pouting and temper tantrums and sabre rattling from 3rd world nations? UN condemnation? ( what a farce that is, eh?) The arab street with all their arms waving in the air chanting like robots while burning a flag? Liberal frothing at the mouth? Scathing editorials from MSM? The lives of our troops are worth much more than all of that combined I should think. What if there was a war on terrorism and nobody was willing to prosecute it?

8/04/2005 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Cutler said...

2 questions:

Is there a case where sanctions have worked against a government as ruthless as the Syrians or Mullahs? And how long did it take?
Hussein's seemingly defeated Iraq limped along for years, its people blaiming the UN and US for their troubles.

8/04/2005 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

cutler: Hussein's seemingly defeated Iraq limped along for years, its people blaiming the UN and US for their troubles.

problem is that the west (and israel) have not waged total war against any of the islamic/arab nation states. To me, as terrible as it sounds, one must read what the "beaten" arabs/islamists say, they say "destroy the zionist entity" they say "great satan" they say "infidel"

if they refuse to "surrender" then total war is the solution. The complete destruction of every sewer, electric power substation, water pump, commercial enterprises, school, road etc...

8/04/2005 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

"Civilian morale is just as important as military morale during a campaign like this, and if there's a real weak point in the Coalition campaign during OIF it's been their neglect of the home front."

Monty, this came up in conversation a couple of weeks ago when I complained at the lack of information coming out of CENTCOM's AOR, leaving the public merely to speculate - well or poorly, as the case may be.

"Where's the combatant command and the State Department?" was the response. "Why aren't they out there communicating to the public regularly?" Why is it that this is thought to be necessary only during primary (and always brief) combat operations, such as the Gulf War and the opening phases of OEF and OIF? Is it only important to establish and maintain public trust and some sense of accountablity, of responsibility, when your Army and Marines are on the move, en mass, to their initial objectives? And in indefinite operations, such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the State Department plays such an enormous role, where are its representatives to stand at a podium in primetime and give regular updates on its efforts, successful and not?

Without this, there is paranoia, deep suspicion and skepticism, rumor- and conspiracy-mongering, persistent, pervasive misunderstanding and misapprehension, and increasing rejection of the whole affair - or, on the other hand, wild optimism, unrealistic expectation, blithe assertion, and far-fetched proclamations of certainty. This is, by the way, more in character of Arab and authoritarian societies than open and fully democratic Western societies.

When Anthony Cordesman is forthright enough to point out that the objective of our various military operations in Iraq has never been and never will be to "break the back of the insurgency" but rather to limit it in sweeps that deprive it of stable sanctuary (in Iraq, anyway), I'm struck by how helpful this information would have been coming from commanders themselves over a year ago. Public expectation has been unmoored from actual policy objectives. And if limiting an insurgency sounds weak, it is just what is done in Afghanistan. Iraq is not unique in this regard.

As for the foreign fighters in Iraq, it seems the predominate points of origin are not Gulf states but rather north Africa, especially Sudan, where the recruitment is extensive and relatively sophisticated. There's certainly important work to be done out of Djibouti.

8/04/2005 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

So pork rind
The Terrorist today, that killed three before he succummed to the mob.
Some kind of Jewish Terrorist, striking out to retain the Gaza.

The Administration has not wanted to cross the Syrian Border, it seems obvious that they have 'looked the other way' as a matter of policy.

It goes back to defining the enemy in actionable terms. Hot pursuit border crossings, by US or Iraqi troops should be encouraged.

The Columbian President was visiting in Crawford, today, that battle front continues to simmer.

8/04/2005 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Lieutenant Fishman said...

It is amazing how NOT ONE SOURCE in the mainstream media has been reporting this was AN ATTACK by US, not just us driving around waiting to be killed. It sure makes a difference that we are on the offensive rather than if the enemy all of a sudden figured out ways to blow up AMTRACS at will..

I can't stand the idiots in this country.

8/04/2005 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Desert Rat:

Is your point that this "jewish" terrorist should have been shot? Or that one man's freedom fighter is another's terrorist. (no, anyone that shoots civilians like that is a terrorist) This single mindless moron, was on the run, underground, that belongs to an illegal organization that is being hunted down.. The definition for for terrorism for my purposes is that it is STATE supported with billions of dollars.. Last I checked Israel is not refusing to shut down private munitition factories that product "rockets & mortars" to shell civilians.

news story: An Israeli army deserter shot dead 4 people, injured 5, on a bus in the northern mixed town of Shfaram.
August 4, 2005, 8:20 PM (GMT+02:00)
The gunman was Eden Tsuberi, 19, had been hiding for a year in Tapuach on the West Bank. A member of the fringe group Kahana Hai, he was killed in the incident. It is not clear if he died at the hands of an angry Druze lynch mob in Shfaram or on the bus. Three of the victims were Christian Arabs living in the town. Police are investigating the motive of the crime.

Again, the battle on the west by militant islam, to me, is the issue at hand. as the Palestinain Leader Abbas says, there are always stray dogs wanting to fight, the question is simple, in PA jails there are literally ZERO people arrested for attacking Israel, whereas in Israel there are ISRAELI's in jail for shooting/abusing Arabs...

8/04/2005 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Lesley said...

When asked by Henry Kissinger what he thought about the historical consequences of the French Revolution, Mao Tse Tung replied, "It is too early to tell."

In spite of all the difficulties we face in this GWOT, we must not lose heart, for surely, it is too early to tell.

8/04/2005 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

I am proud to post the HEADLINE in the JPOST:

Jewish terrorist kills three on bus in Shfaram
Tapuah resident Eden Tzuberi killed by mob after opening fire on bus in Druse-Christian-Muslim town.

We will KNOW if the war is winning when the islamic world will print "Islamic Terrorist attacks Jews in Israel", until then we are fooling ourselves...

It's the canary in the mine...

8/04/2005 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Natalie said...

I love your blog! For creating this entertainment, In return, here is a link where you can make SIX FIGURES next month. I am walking proof. It's all from Google's pockets too!

8/04/2005 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

One of the things that HAS been made plain by senior officers and State Dept officials in the past couple of months is that the newly sovereign and reconstituted Iraq is gong to inherit an insurgency that will not diminish for at least a couple of years, and is unlikely to grind down inside of the decade - that is, not within the timeframe of our presence in there. It is extremely difficult to conceive of either US or Iraqi forces taking a swipe at the Iraqi Baathist habitat in Syria. Not at this late date. If it were going to happen, it would have happened 18 to 24 months ago, when Powell was trotted out to make angry noises.

Is the yearning high among the JCS or NSC or White House itself to carry the battle into Syria? Is the desire there in Iraq's political establishment? Open to correction though I am, my guess is absolutely not.

8/04/2005 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Monty said...

trish:

I too am baffled by lack of action against Syria, but it may have been a simple miscalculation: hoping the "Cedar Revolution" in Lebanon would extend to Syria and lead to a downfall of the Ba'athist government there.

On the face of it, it makes sense. The ruling clan in Syria, the Assads, are not even Muslims; they are Alawites, and not particularly beloved by the people. Bashar himself is widely seen as being a mere figurehead, commanding none of the loyalty or power of his father. This means that the Army and Intelligence services are calling the shots in Syria.

I think the Administration was hoping that the situation in Syria was more chaotic than it turned out to be; yet again, the over-estimated the Arab power to force political change. The whole Arab world seems to be in some kind of terrible thrall to fatalism: Insh'Allah, or "It will be if God wills it."

8/04/2005 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Trish
I don't think there is any desire to expand the Conflict in Iraq at the JCS. How to handle the Syrians will be fleshed out in the next few months. The optimum scenario would be to have Assad moderate the behavior of his Intelligence Community. As well as the transit of the Mohammedan Jihadists through Syria.
A few cross border incursions while in hot pursuit of retreating Opfor.
Also don't be surprised if an independent Iraqi Government acts in a Nationalistic way and creates an enemy in Baathist Syria. Especially if that is where the Insurgents are being Headquartered and Supplied.

8/04/2005 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

I read the briefing yesterday. I felt there is indeed a push to clean up the river all the way to Syria. I also got the notion that the bombs were getting more sophisticated and accurate - which I believe is due to state sponsorship.

As other posters have pointed out Syria is a real problem (they work hand-in-hand with Saddam's thugs - and it must be remembered that Saddam is on trial for his life). Plus, Syrian staging ground problem is getting worse - not better. I would suggest the neutralization of men, materials and training sites in Syria. The problem in not the Syrian boarder - it is much deeper in Syria. The longer we wait the more American troops will be killed.

8/04/2005 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Alawites
Arabic: calawî (sing.), calawîya (pl.)



ALAWITES IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Last column: % Alawites of the population
Lebanon 50,000 1.4%
Syria 1,950,000 11%
Total *) 2,000,000 0.45%
*) Calculated for the total population of North Africa and the Middle East, approx. 430,000,000.
Islamic sect, stemming from the Twelver Shi'is. They live in Syria, mainly in the mountains near the city of Latakia, but many also live in the cities of Hama and Homs, and in recent decades there has been a migration to Damascus.
Their exact number is not known, but estimated to be between 1.5 and 2.5 million. Most of them live from agriculture, but the Alawites are also central in the leadership of Syria, President Bashar al-Assad being an Alawite (similar to his late father, Hafez).
Their name is a recent one — earlier they were known as Nusairis, Namiriya or Ansariyya. The names 'Nusairi' and 'Namiriya' came from their first theologian, Muhammadu bni Nusairi n-Namiri. The name 'Ansariyya' came from the mountain region in Syria where this sect lived.
TEACHINGS

In their view, Ali, cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, is the bearer of divine essence, and he is the second most elevated prophet (next to Muhammad).
The Alawites have 7 pillars in their religion. Five of these are similar to those of other Muslims, (the creed, the prayers, alms, pilgrimage to Mecca and fasting during the month of Ramadan), but the Alawites consider these as symbols, and therefore they do not practice what other Muslims consider as duties. The other 2 pillars are jihad, holy struggle, and waliya (devotion to Ali, and struggle against his enemies).
The Alawites celebrate the same festivals as most other Shi'is, like Idu l-Fitr, Idu l-Kabir and Ashura. But they also celebrate some of the same festivals as the Christians, like Christmas and Epiphany, as well as Nawruz, which originally is the Zoroastrian New Year.
Through their history, the Alawites have often been in conflict with the rulers as well as other Muslims, who often have claimed that they are not Muslims. The Alawites consider themselves to be moderate Shi'i Muslims.

HISTORY
857: Muhammadu bni Nusair claims to be the gate (Bab) or representative to the 10th imam among the Shi'is, Ali al Hadi.
10th century: The sect is firmly established by Husayn ibn Hamdan al-Khasibi, during the Shi'i Hamdanid dynasty of Aleppo.
1004: The Hamdanid dynasty falls, and the Alawites are driven out of Aleppo, and centuries of hardship begin.
12th century: The Alawites are badly treated by Crusaders.
1971: The Alawite Hafez al-Assad becomes president of Syria. This brought an end to the Alawites being outcasts in Syrian society. Since then their status has significantly improved, as have their living standards.
1974: The Lebanese leader of the Twelver Shi'is, Imam Musa al-Sadr, issues a legal decision saying that the Alawites are Shi'i Muslims.

8/04/2005 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

This comment has been removed because it linked to malicious content. Learn more.

8/04/2005 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"don't be surprised if an independent Iraqi Government acts in a Nationalistic way and creates an enemy in Baathist Syria. Especially if that is where the Insurgents are being Headquartered and Supplied."

Desert rat, I WOULD be surprised if this happened - even knowing that the Baathist old guard has parked its monstrous ass in Syria. A weak Iraqi Shiite state won't do it without the military and diplomatic support of Iran, which it is in the process of forming, but not for that particular purpose. Without Iranian consent and willingness to provide the insurance in a conflict with Syria, it's just a death wish.

8/04/2005 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

trish: "A weak Iraqi Shiite state won't do it without the military and diplomatic support of Iran, which it is in the process of forming, but not for that particular purpose. Without Iranian consent and willingness to provide the insurance in a conflict with Syria, it's just a death wish."

Aren't you forgetting a rather important factor, like the US military? As Seinfeld would say, that's a pretty big matzah ball hanging out there.

Plus, no budding Iraqi government wants to be Iran's patsy.

Cutler,

The UN sanctions on Libya led to Qadhafi's compliance. With the US in the region, any sanctions on either country would be brutish, nasty, and short. The regimes would crumble, or they would give us our casus belli.

I expect the timeline, from this first resolution to crisis, to also be short.

8/04/2005 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

Via my babelfish, I receive a real-time translation of the MSM’s “questions”:

Q General, what do these attacks over the past couple of days, in which 20 -- actually, 21 Marines were killed, because there was another Marine from that same unit who was killed by an IED two days ago -- what does that say about the state of insurgency in that region? What information do you have about the status of the insurgents, what they're up to there, and what the U.S. Marine Corps has been trying to do over the past couple of months in trying to root them out?

= "The recent attacks show that even the Marines have failed to suppress the insurgency in that region despite two months of trying."

Q Can I ask -- I just wanted to make it clear because I'm not sure we're on the same wavelength here. I think the point that I tried to make was that because of attacks over the past couple of days, it appears that the insurgents' capability to operate has not been diminished. Is that the case? Are they still able to operate pretty freely in that region?

= "LET ME REPEAT: THE RECENT ATTACKS SHOW THAT EVEN THE MARINES CANNOT SUPPRESS THE INSURGENCY!"

Q General Ham, can you -- there have been reports by Ansar al-Sunna that they may have beheaded one of these Americans. Their bodies may have been mutilated. Can you -- number one, are all Americans and Marines at least in these operations accounted for? Is there anybody missing? And do you have any credible reports that any of the bodies that have been recovered have been mutilated, beheaded, anything like that?

= "Remember General, if one of your troops is captured alive, we in the MSM will make certain the American people feel completely demoralized."

Q General, the details of the six who were killed, the snipers, is still sketchy. Can you fill in any blanks about what happened? Was it an enemy force that found their location, or was it perhaps some people that were thought to be friendly forces that ended up killing the Marines?

= "All Iraqi’s are actually insurgents at heart."

Q But you're kind of ruling out that they thought they were Iraqi friendlies and then were killed by them?

= "General, are you lying or just plain stupid?"

Q This is just in the Hadithah corridor area, or is this going all the way out to the border?

= "Where should the terrorists plan to re-locate?"

Q Until the last couple of days, Iraqis have borne a lot of the recent casualties. Of course, the last two days there have been heavy American casualties. Does this represent any kind of change in strategy on the insurgents to target Americans more forcefully?

= "Note to terrorists: it’s much easier for us to cover for you if you stick to killing Americans!"

Q And these recent casualties are because American troops have been in harm's way to a greater degree recently with these operations?

= "Note to MSM readers: don’t forget that until we pull-out, Americans will be “in harm’s way." "

8/04/2005 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"I too am baffled by lack of action against Syria..."

I stopped being baffled some time ago, monty, on the day I realized that the outrages and ambitions and urgencies of neoconservative writers and casual commentators, however valid and noble, far exceed those of the defense establishment. I don't think there was a miscalculation so much as a conscious decision stemming from the determination to pick your territory and stick with it, come hell and high water both. We like known quantities.

I think we put a lot of time and effort into Lebanon and it definitely paid off - the expectations were there before OIF began - but Lebanon's not Syria, is it?

8/04/2005 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

aristides: One thing I can guarantee you, we are not going to militarily insure the Iraqi Shiite government in a fight they pick with Syria. They're going to have to find another sponsor.

8/04/2005 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

PalaceRat,

I have no real first-hand sense of how good a public information warrior the US government is. My sense is that it is not. So the military sits on information, even information that would allow reasonable, openminded observers to detect progress, rather than let any out. If that hinders hostile gentlemen in the press, it also puts a blindfold over the public's eyes so that people support or oppose the war only for the most fanciful of reasons.

But there are information smugglers like the think tank people of former high rank and current clearances; there are a few sharp newsies; hopefully some bloggers who lift the veil somewhat. Alas, even they sometimes have axes to grind. It's almost as if we try our best not to understand in the best Arab style, as you say.

About the only thing one can do, apart from devoutly wishing the US military gets a public information capability it doesn't have, is to use the legit channels at hand to disseminate what we can. One encouraging development is that changes in platform technology have made it possible to partially fix the public information gap in ways that were not possible in the 1960s, when the government case collapsed catastrophically. The same Internet which has empowered the Al Qaeda is to some extent, empowering guys like Yon and the PalaceRat. Of course, it also amplifies people like Marcos Zuniga and Juan Cole. But that's the battle for the home front, and the actual challenge to those who say they want truth and clarity is to win this home front in the way we expect the armed forces to win the battlefield.

8/04/2005 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The US would definately use the Iraqi as proxies in Syrian cross border actions. While we may not let the Iraqis march on Damascus, the US could and would use them in this manner.

8/04/2005 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

I would feel better about accepting Trish's guarantee, or anyone else's guarantee, if they were to establish their bonafides. Following Trish's link leads to a dead end.

It would be great if more posters were to fill in their backgrounds a bit, perhaps publish a blog of their own that others could access.

Some people seem unaware that just one well trained special forces team could form the nucleus for an insurgency inside Syria which could turn most of that country into the equivalent of al Anbar province. The level of expertise inside a special forces team exceeds that of virtually the entire muslim terrorist organisations.

Take off their handcuffs, expand the rules of engagement, let slip the dogs of war. You know you want to. Let them wreak havoc inside Syria and Iran. Take the hell to the heartlands of terror.

8/04/2005 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

trish,

If you think that the US government would turn down perfect diplomatic cover, I will not be able to tell you anything that will change your mind.

On our pacing, I too am sometimes impatient, but there are benefits in going slow, too.

The international fervor over Iraq has been quelled, which would not have happened had we gone immediately into Syria. Terrorism has been brought to the Arabs, instead of being an abstract, and the verdict is not looking too good for terrorism. Because we gave a chance for our narrative to catch up to our actions, and because so many people around the world finally believe we are doing what we have always said we would, even if they don't agree with it, any subsequent action on Syria will be viewed in the proper context. Iraq will stand with us shoulder to shoulder, and the world will nod or look the other way.

Working the political angle was slow and painful, but Lebanon is sure glad we did. Because of the January elections and the righteous anger over the murder of Hariri, Syria lost Lebanon and gained an enemy. Syria has long been labeled an international pariah, but now, even worse for them, they are seen as a weak and unstable pariah. Iran won't rush to defend them, Assad is boxed in and his regime is failing, and not since before Hafez Assad gained power in 1970 has Syria been so weak and vulnerable.

This may not have been the plan; in fact, it would be more than amazing if it was. But it is not all brown on this side of the fence.

8/04/2005 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

In the article in today's NYT about this subject Insurgents Using Bigger, More Lethal Bombs, U.S. Officers Say the author focuses on what he calls a trend of increasing size and sophistication in IEDs. He also mentions that there's been an appearance of bombs very similar to those used by Hezbolla against Israel.

The attack against the amphibious assault vehicle is reminiscent of the bomb that severely damaged an Israeli Merkeva tank in Gaza a couple years ago. In that case the bombers knew that there was likely to be Israeli action in their area and they buried the bomb, which was quite large, in a road that they predicted would be used by the Israelis. I believe that the Israelis eventually settled their score with the bomb maker.

The author of the NYT article quotes a US officer saying that the bombers in Iraq have gone to school to learn their trade. It is also possible that some "teachers" have come to Iraq to teach their trade. There can be a limited number of master bomb makers in Iraq so it seems certain that our forces need to find them as part of our offensive.

As others have remarked it seems clear that the bombing technology is coming from outside of Iraq. I think it was Rumsfeld who said that if a problem is unsolvable it should be enlarged. This would be a good time to enlarge it right into Syria.

The only reason I can see that we haven't put much more pressure on Syria up to now is domestic politics similar to the actions surrounding Falluja I, and I don't see it changing any time soon.

8/04/2005 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Al fin,
"Some people seem unaware that just one well trained special forces team could form the nucleus for an insurgency inside Syria which could turn most of that country into the equivalent of al Anbar province. "

You are making a huge assumption there, and that is that there is a significant part of the Syrian populace that would be willing to take part in such an effort. I don't think that that is the case at all. They have been living under the thumb of the Assads and their secret police/military for so long, I would be very surprised if more than a small handful of people would be willing to be involved. And they would not last long after the secret police got wind of what was going on.

8/04/2005 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

These interpretations are a brilliant idea. More of those please, it is very enlightening when reading this stuff!

8/04/2005 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Chester is back with an excellent restrospective of Steven Vincent.
theadventuresofchester.com

“And it won't be over until Iraq reaches one benchmark: the government has the monopoly on violence.”

Steven Vincent

8/04/2005 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"So the military sits on information, even information that would allow reasonable, openminded observers to detect progress, rather than let any out."

- wretchard

It does exactly that, and it's a complete mystery to me as to why.

8/04/2005 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

UtopiaParkway,

I have no doubt that the strategists are trying to shape a battlefield which will address Syria and Iran. Whether they will succeed is another matter. This River War campaign was started many months ago and the press is only now belatedly discovering it. That's not to say that some newsies didn't catch it early on; but it is only creeping into common awareness now. One way to think about the River War is that it is the defensive phase, the prepatory phase for dealing with the Syrian problem.

But as PalaceRat points out, there is no equivalent public relations phaseline. Our means are getting ahead of our message. Sometimes I think 'I am failing' -- not personally because I have no illusions about my unimportance -- but as the representative of those in the information war. We are not spreading the understanding fast enough; not facilitating the process of getting the public to think this thing through quickly enough.

8/04/2005 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

In a way, the gatekeepers are still in control, even with the advent of the blogosphere and the uptick in information dissemination. We are making headway, but our handicap remains our late arrival to the scene.

Which leaves the administration, as we've discussed several times before. A smart route would be to hold off on our message, and on the inherent threats to Syria and Iran, until we have shaped the battlefield and prepared the way for swift punitive action at the UN.

Our mistake with Saddam was allowing him time to plan against our obvious intention. The lead up to war was too prolonged and our enemies have benefited. But now the tables have shifted and the enemy only sees what is before their eyes: the struggle for Iraq.

The coming Iraqi vote on the constitution gives us the impetus, Syria's behavior the pretext, the UN the forum, and Bolton the messenger. Speculation is all we have, but I think our open-sourced continuous conversation has actually put us out ahead on this one. We see its inevitability; I can't imagine the same goes for Syria.

8/04/2005 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"This may not have been the plan; in fact, it would be more than amazing if it was. But it is not all brown on this side of the fence."

Why would it be amazing?

Brown on this side of the fence? I think it's brown on this side of the fence most notably to those who lament our lack of (visible, readily gratifying) action against Syria and Iran, not to mention Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and others.

To me, it's just brown in Iraq. And as fortune would have it, I don't live there.

8/04/2005 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

aristedes,

"We see its inevitability; I can't imagine the same goes for Syria."

I wonder. At one level the enemy is very realistic. You have to be in order to survive against the US Armed Forces. But on the other hand, he is susceptible to purblindness too. Saddam is exhibit A, who in his wildest dreams never though his friends on the UNSC couldn't protect him.

But I'm not entirely sure this whole campaign is going to change direction by surprise in response to seem deep, secret American plan. Part of the unpredictability arises from the fact that we just don't know where we will wind up on the decision tree. The earlier exchange on the US reluctance to discuss enemy losses is interesting because it is that kind of knowledge, plus a great deal else, which is going to take us down one branch on the decision tree or another. Maybe the commanders know, that to hide their intent in the plain sight of todays information gathering systems, it is important to keep some of the pieces hidden or distorted. But if so, it ought not to totally neglect the process of public salesmanship. Sometimes the US military resembles one of those companies with a good production division but really lousy marketing arm.

8/04/2005 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

The shaped charges and sophisticated IED's are quite possibly the handiwork of Iman Mugneheh(spelling) and his artful demo guys in Hezbollah,the party of Hell.as they are proxies of both Syria and Iran they are likely suspects.
A nice demonstration project in Syria might be accomplished with stealth technology taking out some real estate.I'd like to see Bolton telling the third world twits at the UN to shove it when they complain and watch the sob sisters on the left wet their pants all over CNN.While we're at it dropa couple calling cards on the Bekaa valley subdivision of Hezbollah.

8/04/2005 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Threaten something that the enemy holds dear, and he will have to defend.

8/04/2005 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

You then introduce an element of predictability.

8/04/2005 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Wretchard: "But if so, it ought not to totally neglect the process of public salesmanship. Sometimes the US military resembles one of those companies with a good production division but really lousy marketing arm."

This has occurred to me, too. It seems almost unbelievable that we would sit on information that could facilitate our long-term goal of Syrian and Iranian regime change. Especially when you expose information like this almost every day: massive movements and offensives that extend hundreds of miles along the Euphrates, the astronomical casualties of the enemy, the nature and the origin of insurgent supplies and reinforcements, the governments that are fighting us, etc.

As a previous poster said, the war would have a very different flavor if the military and the Administration framed the debate the way Belmont Club has done, which is, really, nothing but the truth. When you read the statements of Rumsfeld and Meyers, you see that they grasp and understand the problem. In fact, almost every day these gentleman complain about the public's sources of information, yet they do nothing to supplement or improve them.

We are left to speculate whether it is all due to incompetence, which surely is a possibility, or whether these omissions are due to the restraints that adhere to some otherwise unknown overarching plan. I cannot believe that Bush is satisfied and mollified by taking down Saddam. There must be another step coming, right?

Syria, as I said, seems inevitable, the question is how and when. I think Bush was surprised by the international pushback over OIF, which he believed in his soul to be obviously, and urgently, necessary. I think he learned some lessons that he may never admit, but which are nonetheless constraining his strategy, and I think in the next campaign you will see the entirety of American might, with a profound focus on the diplomatic.

I have been waiting for a sign of forward momentum, and today I saw it. I have asked myself, "Why Bolton?" Why did Bush think that Bolton was so necessary that he would expend his scarce political capital to see him in the UN? My conclusion: the UN is Bush's chosen vehicle for global change, and Bolton is the guy that Bush believes can force through the necessary resolutions.

It comes down to cover, to the international legitimacy that so eluded the Iraq war. It comes down to the diplomatic nod that Bush discovered means so much more than it seems to, or should. We've always known we had the sheriff. Bush is looking for, and will probably get, his warrant.

8/04/2005 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Wretchard,

If you're saying that solving the Syria problem is just a matter of time I guess that's possible but I'm not sure.

Before the war some were saying that the road to peace in Israel ran through Baghdad. Today it seems that the road to peace in Baghdad runs through Damascus and Teheran.

The way that Syria has always served as a safe haven for anti-Israel terrorists has made peace in Israel difficult or impossible. I suppose it's no coincidence that the same players that prevent peace in Israel are preventing peace in Iraq.

What are the likely actions to be taken against Syria? Should we act against them in a limited fashion just to stop their support of terrorists or do we go for the whole enchilada and break it and buy it? I'd say that proof of their active support of the insurgency is a cassus belli for us. I'm certain that militarily we could take the place over in a matter of days, if not hours. Iran and Hezbolla would be unpredictable actors in this play however.

8/04/2005 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger cjr said...

You seem to be right about an operation in progress: From NYTimes:

Foreign fighters, mostly Saudi and Egyptian nationals, according to senior United States military officers, have been filtering into the country from Syria using multiple entry points along Iraq's vast western border, which is primarily protected by a double berm of bulldozed sand. The berms have been breached in dozens of places along the border with Syria making it easy for even passenger cars to slip into the country along tracks in the hard-packed desert sand.

Most of those fighters are believed to enter the country north of the where the Euphrates river crosses into Iraq. Because the American military presence has until recently been on the south side of the river, the north side has become something of a sanctuary for insurgents moving foreign fighters south along the river to Baghdad and north across desert tracks to Mosul.

There are only a few bridges across the Euphrates between the Syrian border and Haditha, a small farming town where American marines have a base to protect a dam and hydroelectric plant that supplies power to Baghdad. Even fewer of the bridges are substantial enough to allow coalition forces to safely move armored vehicles from one side of the Euphrates to the other.

The United States military began addressing the flow of foreign fighters in May with a major operation along the Syrian border north of the Euphrates. The number of insurgents encountered in those operations - at least 125 were killed - convinced Gen. George Casey, the topAmerican commander in Iraq, that it was time to focus on the north bank in order to stem the flow downriver.

A combat outpost was built on the north side of the river near the town of Rawah to provide logistical support, fuel and ammunition, to special operationsforces moving by helicopter on targeted raids along the north side of the river. An Army quick reaction force was also put there to aid the raiders if they got into trouble. An Iraqi unit was based in a nearby abandoned water treatment plant to control the bridge and help patrol the area. There are about 12,000 Iraqi forces in the vast province.

"Now we own the Rawah bridge and they can't move across the river," a senior intelligence officer in Baghdad said Wednesday, adding that "the operations are making it harder and harder for them to move around."

Meanwhile, the Marines based at Haditha have begun a major hunt for insurgents south of the river.

Operations and intelligence officers say they don't believe there are more than a few dozen insurgents operating in the area but that the new military presence north of the river has triggered a rabid response.

"We struck a nerve," the intelligence officer said. "All along the river we're seeing an upsurge of activity."

8/04/2005 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

>The UN sanctions on Libya led to Qadhafi's compliance. With the US in the region, any sanctions on either country would be brutish, nasty, and short. The regimes would crumble, or they would give us our casus belli.

First, how long did it take? Do we have that kind of time here?

Second, Qadhafi was always a maverick, even when he was a Soviet client. He wasn't a ideologically committed Soviet agent, he simply used them for the support. As a result, he had no problem using the opportunity provided after 9-11 to switch to reverse his stance.

The Mullahs and Syrians don't have that option.

8/04/2005 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

I expect the timeline, from this first resolution to crisis, to also be short.

Ah, sorry, I didn't see that part.

I don't think it is going to be so easy, I wouldn't underestimate the European [especially their population's] capacity for self-delusion.

We'll see, hopefully you're right.

I still think Libya is a poor example.

8/04/2005 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

"We are not spreading the understanding fast enough; not facilitating the process of getting the public to think this thing through quickly enough."
wretchard

And your not ever going to just by using the internet.

Get some capital and start a cable "blogger central" network. Then you will be able to influence the mindless boob tube addicts and others that don't use or want to use a computer.

Of course, you will have to disguise it as a new "Reality Show".

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

8/04/2005 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

"Shipment of high explosives intercepted in Iraq - most sophisticated of roadside bombs reportedly coming from Iran".

I agree with you about Syria, exhelo, we've seen no indications there is any indigenous opposition movement to build on. It isn't Iraq, the Kurds are unarmed, a mere 7-8% of the population, and have never been in serious dialogue with us. The rest of the population is Sunni Muslim, aside from the 10% Alawite ruling caste, which has skillfully blended itself into the majority.

8/04/2005 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Cutler,

Libya is an example of sanctions working, as you asked. Now imagine how sanctions will work, if we were serious, with so many US assets in the area.

If we are serious about moving ahead in the GWOT, the time span from our beginning to make a case in the UN to the culmination of a crisis will continue to shrink as the problems of OIF are absorbed. You don't have to believe it, of course. It's just a hunch.

8/04/2005 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

To a number of you, including our host (by the way, I absolutely love getting up in the morning and finding multiple new essays by Wretchard),

I have been somewhat confused by the contentions that enemy casualties have not been reported, because I have found the exact opposite to be true. I have seen them reported in just about every article/column I have read that deals with specific incidents. And here is a link to a Brookings report (via Instapundit) that also discusses them for the entire period.

http://www.brookings.edu/fp/saban/iraq/index.pdf

8/04/2005 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"The US would definately use the Iraqi as proxies in Syrian cross border actions. While we may not let the Iraqis march on Damascus, the US could and would use them in this manner."

- desert rat

I agree. If we haven't already done so. The target would be former regime officials and other Baathists critical to the insurgency. (I think something along this line took place a few months back, but it could have been the Syrians acting under sudden pressure and needing to produce, in the manner of our good friend Musharraf.) Helluva job, though.

8/04/2005 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

exhelodrvr,

I got a baffled look today when I mentioned the missing number contention to someone who keeps up with reports and reports of reports.

But the public communication campaign has been in the toilet pretty much since the fall of Baghdad - it's a problem long known, acknowledged, and discussed within the military itself.

Rumsfeld did a good job in the beginning. Myers was unimpressive. Sanchez even less so. But 'Mission Accomplished' seemed to be the end of that effort anyway.

Could we get a little reverse psychology going by having spokesmen in Qatar give a Power Point highlighting 'Imminent Defeat. Bush is an Evil Bastard. All is Lost. Send Dean.'?

8/04/2005 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

IMO, Libya isn't an example of sanctions bringing down a government, it is an example of us guarenteeing someone's rule in exchange for him shutting up and giving us the goods on Pakistani/North Korean nuclear hijinks. As far as the region's problems and recent involvement with terrorism, he was way on down the list.

That's my personal theory on what happened. There was no reason for him to squeal like a pig unless we guarenteed his rule for the time being. I don't buy the "I was terrified" line, he put that out to cover us.

8/04/2005 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Do I have evidence? No, nothing besides his interesting history and our convenient dislosures on the A Q Khan and the North Koreans.

But the official story stunk.

8/04/2005 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

...and for relatively obvious reasons, we aren't guarenteeing Assad's rule.

8/04/2005 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

al fin - Both China and Iran are susceptible to decapitation attacks, since both are tightly controlled from the top down. Government has a tenuous hold on things in both China and Iran. It would not take much for both China and Iran to start looking like parts of Iraq. The feeble minded fools who run those countries should be made aware of the danger.

That, I'm afraid, is feeble-minded foolish strategy.

Iran's leadership is disbursed. Revolutionary Guard is garrisoned in 33 towns and cities. No "surgical" airstrike will come close to destroying Iranian leadership. Look at our "decapitation" air attack strategy on Iraq...not a single of the 52 deck of cards leadership was killed in our decapitation efforts.

As for "plucky little" Israel "surgically" removing Irans nuclear facilities - fat chance unless they do a premptive nuke strike employing 30-35 bombs that kill millions. Nor America. Iraq signed a defense treaty with Iran. America is not allowed under the sovereign Iraqi Gov't to use their bases or let Zionist aggressors cross Iraq unchallenged.

No, the matter goes to the UN Security Council, where it should be.....France will be calling a meeting soon. If China vetos - then our whole relation with China also goes down at the same time..

As for attacking China - China's leadership is quite clear on decapitation strikes. Kill the Politburo, power goes to the Generals through the District Party commissars. Under guidance of the Party, the Generals have complete authority to do what it takes to restore order and safeguard the Party....and authority to punish those committing an attack on Chinese soil with every weapon in the Chinese arsenal.

Monty 7:42AM - I think you completely misread the "talented, mastermind bomb-makers" being in short supply. It's the same conceit as believing Osama bin Laden was "the evil mastermind" and a la` a James Bond movie - remove him and you end the threat...

Another thing about the sophisticated IED "market": there's a limited number of quality manufacturers. You can't just make shaped charges and camouflaged bombs anywhere and by any one; they are sophisticated mechanisms. Further, you can't just gin up a "cookbook" and farm it out to the locals in whatever town.

It's the same with car bombs -- not just any yahoo can wire up a vehicle to make an effective bomb.

I suspect that we'll find several IED "factories" ....... In the middle to long term, it's bad for them: we can disrupt the market with relatively few strikes and in a fairly small area.

I suspect that it is no more difficult to sit down motivated, intelligent Islamoids for a ne month-long school taught by Hezbollah or Iranians or an Al Qaeda master trained by American operatives in Afghanistan or Bosnia...than it is for equally motivated, intelligent Army Rangers to be trained in a month long school to do the same.

We failed to secure conventional weapons depots as we went in. Went right by them and left them unguarded because we lacked the troops and were obsessed with non-existent WMDs. So with the rampant pillaging and hidden depots there before we went in - there is "Plenty & Plenty, and Plenty more" TNT, 155mm HE shells, landmines, Semtex, Egyptian made C-4 all over Iraq in insurgents hands. We screwed up with no postwar plan to secure it - watching as Iraqis hauled out truckloads of mines and shells. The shit is all over Iraq now. A 100-year supply that will fuel ME bombs for generations. So we are paying in blood for the early low priority we placed on securing explosives and weapons stockpiles in favor of "finding the evildoers, locating the vast stockpiles of WMD, guarding schools and oil ministry buildings..."

In case the Islamoid forgets something he learned in shaped charge remote Det bomb-making school, I'm sure the plethora of burned DVDs detailing specs & tactics - and posts on Islamoid web sites discussing exact measures of TNT, Copper reverse cone specs, cell phone ringer CKTs and safety instructions will help. Their field manuals on placing the IED and use of multiplexing RF devices and lasers.

It's not "bad for them". There are not a few specialists making these bombs. There are trained squads now in most Sunni towns. There are no "limited strikes in a small area" possibilities.

Not that I would, but I have metalworking skills, equipment - and accurate measuring equipment in my workshop. Give me some C-4, a translated infidel-blasting 101 DVD with detailed specs, detonators and the 2 redundant circuit design the Islamoids are now using and I could do the same. Even better if some Jihadi sat down with me for only a week and got me through safety basics and the "oolies" that only come from experience at killing infidels successfully and living to tell others how to do it right...Then I, as a hypothetical Iraqi, could build bombs or help "grow" the insurgency by training more in the same skills so that soon there wasn't a place the Americans go that didn't have looted explosives and a bombmaker within 10K of the occupiers...

And don't forget it all is made a whole lot easier by HE left unsecured for 6 months and now as common in Iraq as dogfood is in America...and from the fact that we are more concerned with ensuring captured bomb-planters get their own Koran and tasty Halal meals than in beating bomb intel out of them with rifle butts then hosing them down in public with 20 or so .223 rounds per unlawful combatant Islamoid...

8/04/2005 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Ha--you're unusually bitter tonight, Cedar. Herpes outbreak?

8/04/2005 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Cedarford,

According to the informative post "The IED Marketplace in Iraq" over at Global Guerillas, the IED emlacers are the most difficult cell members to replace once captured. Takes about two weeks to fill the position and get up and running again. Not so with the capture of makers. The best bet is to target whole 6-8 man cells, of which there are apparently many. Too many.

The materiel won't run out before we do.

The Afghan Arabs and muj had missiles supplied by us. The Iraqis have imported knowledge and no need of imported weapons - the supply is local. The knowledge is now, too, for that matter.

You want grisly executions of captured cell members and skull-cracking interrogations. Let's leave that stuff to our fine hosts, shall we?

8/04/2005 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger chthus said...

'BEVERLY HILLS, California (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Thursday criticized Syria's leaders for "not behaving in a wise manner" by aiding Iraqi insurgents and warned that such conduct could come back to haunt them.

"(Syria is) going to have to live in that neighborhood and Iraq doesn't like what Syria's doing," Rumsfeld said in a question-and-answer session following his speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

"Iraq is going to be in that neighborhood for a very long time. It's a bigger country and a richer country and will be a more powerful country," he said. "(In my view) the Syrians are not behaving in a wise manner at the present time."

He added that "other countries and the United States are simply going to have to continue to try and put pressure on them so that they understand the disadvantages that accrue to them by their behavior."'

=====

While these disadvantages are accruing, two other things are ongoing. The first is the further legitimatization of the Iraqi govt., with Aug 15 (constitution deadline), Oct 15 (popular vote on constitution), and Dec 15 (national election) as the upcoming milestones. The other is the continued training of the Iraqi military.

======

"(I-Newswire) - Air Force Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, said the Iraqi army now has eight ground divisions, 29 brigade headquarters with 101 battalions, plus a mechanized division with one brigade headquarters and two battalions. Three battalions are undergoing training now, he said.

The Iraqi army is attracting 1,000 to 1,400 recruits per month, and training courses are now in place for noncommissioned officers and officers alike, the general said.

Nearly 94,000 Ministry of Interior forces have been trained and equipped, including more than 63,000 Iraqi police of a planned force of 135,000, Alston told reporters. About 1,500 police officers graduate from training every eight weeks in Jordan, and another 1,000 from a 10-week class in Baghdad, he added."

=====

Couple this with 15-0 UNSC vote on a resolution condemning recent attacks in Iraq, while singling out Iran and Syria as needing to do more to help stop them (ahem). This was coincidentally Bolton's first vote at the UN. These pieces start to point to things coming to a head, and lines being crossed, early next year, if the level of border incursion does not change. Most likely it would be Syria's lines, called for and led by Iraqis, with not just a little US support.

8/04/2005 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Put into circulation some ammo that explodes in your face when you use it. Then follow the dead/wounded jihadis to the address of their family/relatives and execute them for sheltering these jihadis.

8/04/2005 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

So, what are WE doing about the problem borders of Iraq? What are the Iraqis doing about them? If we and they are simply passive recipients of unwanted traffic, why in the hell is this? C'mon, we're more than two years into this campaign and still bitching and whining about transit from neighboring countries? And expecting Syria and Iran to identify and turn back every unsavory yahoo for us? Did we give them a helpful list of names or profiles or BOLOs to facilitate that little mission?

Please.

8/04/2005 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

trish,

New thread up on possible developments along the river and the Syrian border.

8/04/2005 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Jeremiah said...

Hi there,

The implication of the new techical sophistication implies either in-country capability to manufacture higher-technology IED charges or it implies a rise in the amount of clandestine border traffic. My guess is that it's both.

you may be interested in an article on my blog about the evolving IED battlefield.


organicwarfare.blogspot.com

8/05/2005 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger ColonelJim said...

As a 26 year veteran of the U.S. Army (infantry and war plans), I am constantly amazed at how the destruction of a SINGLE vehicle (albeit a large one) can be construed to mean a strategic reversal and that the insurgency is out of control and gaining. Any time you put a number of troops in a vehicle (and an amphibious personnel carrier can carry around 25 people) and that vehicle is hit by a lot of explosive, there will be significant casualties of those on board (somehow people have gotten that idea that the US has or should have indestructable weapons and that when soldiers are hurt it means that they have been deprived of the 'good stuff' which is really invulnerable)

Now the insurgency may be growing and out of control and we may have be suffering a strategic reversal, but unfortunately nothing that has been discussed about a bad week (that is a week with atypically high casualties as measured against the average casualties) in which 21 marines were killed can in any way be construed to demonstrate that. Particularly when the majority of the casualties are the result of one vehicle.

If a bad week involving 130K U.S. troops is 21 dead (which could just as easily have come from an aircraft crash from mechanical failure), I think that someone is either woefully ignorant of any sort of historical context or merely tryig to spin human tragedy into a bogus military/political conclusion about the failing nature of the war.

I would like to also refute the inevitable assertation that I am indifferent to the loss of 21 American servicemen. I am not. But we made a decision to fight a tough, unscrupulous and adaptive opponent. The war is not yet won, and more lives will be lost before it is, which is unfortunately the nature of war.

8/09/2005 02:43:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger