Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Unstoppable IED

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are more than physical objects, they are symbols of asymmetrical warfare, along with the suicide bomb and the sniper. They are exemplars of 'insoluble' threats against which resistance is supposedly futile and to which surrender is the only viable response. In times past, the submarine and bombing aircraft occupied the same psychological space. In the late 19th century, Alfred Thayer Mahan theorized that sea control, exercised through battlefleets, would be the arbiters of maritime power. But rival theorists believed weaker nations using motor torpedo boats and above all, the submarine, could neutralize battlefleets. The way to checkmate global superpower Britain, so the theory went, was through asymmetrical naval warfare.

In the early days of World War 1, three British armored cruisers HMS Aboukir, HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy were patrolling the North Sea making no attempt to zigzag. The German U-9 fired a single torpedo into the Aboukir which promptly sank. HMS Hogue gallantly raced up to rescue survivors, believing the Aboukir was mined and came right into the U-9's sights. She was sunk in turn. The HMS Cressy, believing both were mined, sped like a clay pigeon in a shooting gallery into another one of the U-9s torpedoes. In under an hour the asymmetrical weapon had killed 1,459 British sailors and sunk three cruisers.

In the 1930s the bomber airplane took the place of the U-boat as the unstoppable weapon in the public's imagination. Fired by the concepts of Italian airpower theorist Giulio Douhet, many interwar policymakers believed that bomber aircraft alone could bring a nation to its knees. The destructive capacity ascribed to the biplane bombers of the day approached that later attributed to nuclear weapons during the Cold War and so terrified politicians that it fueled the policy of appeasement. According to Wikipedia:

The calculations which were performed on the number of dead to the weight of bombs dropped would have a profound effect on the attitudes of the British authorities and population in the interwar years, because as bombers became larger it was fully expected that deaths from aerial bombardment would approach those anticipated in the Cold War from the use of nuclear weapons. The fear of aerial attack on such a scale was one of the fundamental driving forces of British appeasement in the 1930s.

Stanley Baldwin told the House of Commons in words calculated to convey the futility of war that "the bomber will always get through. The only defense is in offense, which means that you have to kill more women and children more quickly than the enemy if you want to save yourselves." From there, as with those who ascribe the same irresistibility to the suicide bomber, it was natural to turn to appeasement. And that was what Baldwin did. Yet in an ironic twist of history, it was not the 'weaker' nations which successfully turned the submarine and the bombing airplane into decisive weapons but their intended victims. The USN presided over the only ultimately triumphant submarine blockade in history against Japan, while the Army Air Corps fielded the Enola Gay over Hiroshima. One possible reason for this reversal of fortunes is that neither the submarine nor the bombing aircraft existed in a state of ultimate perfection, invincible per se. Rather, they were effective relative to the countermeasures that could be deployed against them. They were one thread of an arms race spiral and their advocates found these weapons neutralized and ultimately turned against them by the very nations they sought to destroy.

IEDs have grown from relatively weak and simple devices into sophisticated demolitions weighing several hundred pounds in response to American countermeasures which began with uparmoring vehicles to monitoring patrol routes for disturbances in the roadway. As American countermeasures have improved, so has the IED, but not to the same degree. Brig. Gen. Joseph Votel, head of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Task Force said that while the incident rate of IED attacks has gone up, the probability of death per attack has declined from 50% in 2003 to about 18% in early 2005. The Iraqi insurgency may be detonating more IEDs than ever but their yield per attack is not what it used to be. USA Today reported: "While IED attacks have increased, U.S. casualties from them have gone down. From April 2004 to April 2005, task force spokesman Dick Bridges said, the number of casualties from IED attacks had decreased 45%."

To regain effectiveness, the enemy has turned bigger explosives and better triggering devices and aimed them at more lucrative targets. David Cloud of the New York Times describes what this means.

The explosion that killed 14 Marines in Haditha, Iraq, on Wednesday was powerful enough to flip the 25-ton amphibious assault vehicle they were riding in, in keeping with an increasingly deadly trend, American military officers said. ... on July 23 ...  a huge bomb buried on a road southwest of Baghdad Airport detonated an hour before dark underneath a Humvee carrying four American soldiers. The explosive device was constructed from a bomb weighing 500 pounds or more that was meant to be dropped from an aircraft, according to military explosives experts, and was probably Russian in origin. The blast left a crater 6 feet deep and nearly 17 feet wide. All that remained of the armored vehicle afterward was the twisted wreckage of the front end, a photograph taken by American officers at the scene showed. The four soldiers were killed.

In response, USA Today reports the deployment of more (and presumably better) electronic jammers and new directed energy weapons.

The Pentagon now has about 4,200 portable electronic jamming devices in Iraq and more are on the way, Bridges said. The military is about to test a new device at its Yuma, Ariz., proving ground that is capable of exploding bombs by sending an electrical charge through the ground. That device, called a Joint Improvised Explosive Device Neutralizer (JIN), could be deployed to Iraq sometime this year if tests prove successful, Bridges said.

Many bomb jammers work by preventing the triggerman from sending his detonation signal to the explosive device. Other equipment relies on detecting the electronic components of bombs, which echo a signal from a sniffer. The JIN neutralizer, now being test fielded to Iraq is an interesting application of directed energy weaponry. It works by using lasers to create a momentary pathway through which an electrical charge can travel and sending a literal bolt of lightning along the channel. A link to a Fox News video report on the manufacturer's website shows a vehicle equipped with a strange-looking rod detonating hidden charges at varying distances, some out to quite a ways.

Just as the enemy has resorted to bigger bombs to defeat better armor, so too will they seek ways to defeat the new American countermeasures. Yet it seems clear that the IED, like the submarine and bombing airplane before it, is not some mystically invincible device, but simply a weapon like any other caught up in a technological race with countermeasures arrayed against it. One consequence of this development is that while the enemy may employ larger numbers of IEDs against Americans, the number of effective IEDs -- the bigger and better ones -- available to them may actually have declined. The penalty for raising weaponry to a higher standard is making existing stock somewhat obsolete.

Yet a more fundamental problem may be in store for the enemy. By engaging America in a technological arms race of sorts they are playing to its strengths. The relative decline in IED effectivity suggests the enemy, while improving, has not kept up. The move to bigger bombs may temporarily restore his lost combat power, but the advent of new American countermeasures plus increasing pressure on the bombmakers, means he must improve yet again. It is far from clear whether the insurgents can stay in the battle for innovation indefinitely. The logic of asymmetric warfare suggests the enemy will at some point abandon the direct technological weapons race and find a new paradigm of attack entirely. That is essentially what they did when they abandoned the Republican Guard tank formation in favor of the roadside bomb in the first place.

One way to achieve this (and they have been perfecting their skills by attacks against Iraqi civilians) is to switch to other targets. In this way, they can find employment for weapons and skills which are no longer effective against American combat forces. The other is to invent some other surpassingly vicious method of attack; to create the successor to the IED. Whatever that new paradigm turns out to be, it will be probably be regarded as an unanswerable weapon, like the biplane bombers of the 1930s.

123 Comments:

Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

Wretchard, I'm OT, but I thought you might be interested in this, since it's in your region: after the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting the other week, the communique decried associating terrorism with any "region" (according to the VNA full text), but other sources quote it as "religion". I think it's an interesting difference.

I made a post out of it.

8/11/2005 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

If the enemy is fightling an asymmetrical war against us, and is likely to shift targets to counter our success at improving technologies, should we also seek to fight an asymmetrical war against them?

8/11/2005 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

Why don't we call them "mines"?

8/11/2005 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Ironically, the bomber, the submarine, and the IED/Mine are all "American" inventions.
The IED/Mine was first used in combat by the Confederate States of America.
Actual experience inevitably drives development toward Bigger and Better versions of weapons, whether they be battleships, bombers, tanks, or spacecraft. And we do Bigger and Better better.

8/11/2005 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

Limiting ops to Iraq and making Syria, Iran, et al explicitly off-target puts a severe cramp in our ability to exercise military initiative. Military planners should consider if, at this stage, it makes sense to restrict military ops to Iraq or if U.S. resources are better employed by expanding, if practical, the WOT further into another theatre where the terrorists openly recruit, rearm, rest, and gather strength.

U-boat attacks ceased only when the Allies captured enemy ports; within a few months, the remaining U-boats at sea surrendered. Create a political and police structure that denies terrorists lasting safety and sanctuary in Iraq, then move forward; the Iraqis will finish the job for us.

8/11/2005 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

More innovations coming to Iraq, this from Defenstech.org:

"New Scientist is right in saying that cells "provide a simple yet effective way for terrorists to remotely trigger a bomb." And that's why it'd be great news if an idea for "a portable device devised by US defence contractor Raytheon [to] quickly identify and disable such weapons" really works out.

The device includes a transmitter that mimics a cell phone base station and a metal horn to concentrate the signal from a 10 milliwatt power source in a single direction. Scanning... a concealed phone... with the tool... tricks it into thinking it is in range of a new network base station and blocks it from any genuine stations in the vicinity.

The suspect phone will also respond with a “handshake signal” containing its phone number, allowing a network operator to temporarily disconnect it from the real network, and preventing it from receiving a detonation call."

Wretchard's right. This is a game the terrorists can't win. The higher the stakes, the further back in time our enemies must go to find tactics that we haven't neutralized. Osama used to use email and satellite phones. Now he uses the communication tactics of Marathon.

The knowledge and skills we are learning in Iraq are probably the most underappreciated aspect of OIF. For decades we've studied how to beat powerful enemies; now, we are perfecting our approach to the weak. How long before the effectiveness of the car bomb and the suicide vest is deconstructed?

When the most powerful innovative force the planet has ever seen looks your way, it is only a matter of time.

8/11/2005 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

Submarine warfare and IED's eh ? Now you've got me thinking. What about "Q Ship" APC's ? Robot controlled Bradleys, Humvees or whatever, maybe even an M-1 -- cruising thru IED alley, remote controlled at a distance. Bad guys set off their IED -- then you blanket the area with the reaction force and find your bombers.

Just an idea. I'm sure there are tons of holes. But the makers and users of the IED's are a vital resource for the enemy. They can't produce bombers with that much sophistication immediately.

I wonder if the sniper team they got awhile back is part of some kind of IED counter ? You have to plant these things, which would take some doing. Seems like you could stake-out likely areas with sniper teams.

8/11/2005 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger geoffgo said...

Isn't it ironic that the new electronic counter measure is called a "muslim evil spirit," a JIN?

8/11/2005 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger Hanba'al said...

The insurgents have calculated correctly that they are at war with us but we are not at war with them. This is the major difference between resiliency of US & British citizens in W's 2 WW1 & WW2 examples and today's and they hope to bank on that difference to win another Vietnam War.

But this time it will be remarkably different than in Vietnam War because within the same time frame of 10 years, information and distributed intelligence of Western citizens of this information age will grow five folds while the dark cage insurgents and their MSM accomplices will reduce their influences significantly. Distributed intelligence does not take side with sophistry and backward mindset, hence there is no way they can win either in technological front nor in the information front. The longer we hold, the worse they got. But then, there will be some minor setbacks to test the mind of the weaklings. :)

8/11/2005 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Solomon 2,
Mines are prosaic, not invincible new age "devices."
---
Nuclear level destruction by Biplanes reminds me of a poster at R. Simon's:
Namely, The uber competence of our adversaries explains everything:
"...Rep. Weldon is not the brightest bulb in the congressional string...
---
And it is absolutely true that the sniping from the childishly irrational folks are a real and significant danger when it comes to having good policies and actually following them.
And yes, putting on the 9/11 Commission one of the key authors of one of the key policies which helped the terrorists succeed doesn't help us either.
.But make no mistake about it -- the terrorist succeeded, and will succeed in the future, primarily because of their competence rather than our incompetence
".
This brilliant poster at R. Simon's got a few huzzah's for her "analysis," yet she was apparently uninformed about "DIM BULB" Weldon's knowledge of the Army's Special Forces already having the ability well BEFORE 9-11 to prevent it.
Duck and Cover (up) THEY are invincible, WE cannot do anything here at home.
(like requiring accountability from the liars in DC)
Just repeat the mantra:
Holding no one accountable for demonstrable negligence/traitorous behavior is not a threat to our security.
Promote them, keep paying them for their work.
Don't worry, be happy, compassionate, and loyal:
Leave lefty/commie lawyers and Minetta in place at DC, don't clean out the State Dept Traitors, and pretend the ONLY war is overseas.
Makes sense to me.

8/11/2005 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Lan,

All we have to fear are the defeatists and apologists among us. Half the people in this country seem ready to go back to the "noble war protestor" of the Seventies, history and the future be damned.

There is no doubt that we'll dramatically and asymmetrically improve out technological fixes. But as long as there is a huge number of braying asses in the media saying this war is useless (no connection between Saddam and 9/11 you know), the greatest danger we face is the country losing its stomach for the fight.

The reduction in losses to IED's is proof of progress, but how many voters in this country will ever know about it?

8/11/2005 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger Monty said...

The IED is the most advanced weapon that the insurgency can bring to bear -- if we counter that threat, their strike capability is severely curtailed. They are a low-tech enemy and must "live off the land" in a tactical sense, and an IED is not a very efficient military weapon -- it's main value is in propaganda rather than actual lethality. Also, as we have seen, the insurgents are having to build bigger and bigger bombs to get the same "return on investment" they got previously with smaller bombs.

I think the outcome, unfortunately for the average Iraqi, is a return to hitting "soft targets". The insurgents know that they cannot contend with the American military -- they just can't keep up in the race for effective countermeasures. Thus, the insurgents will play to their own real strength: using the media as a proxy to generate fear and disillusionment among his enemies. This will mean lots of high-profile attacks against civilian targets, especially as the elections come near.

As depressing as all of this is, we should be heartened by the fact that the insurgency has abandoned all pretense of a larger strategic aim: they have already lost the war. All they want to do now is spoil the aftermath. Al Qaeda seems to have accepted that the Americans aren't going to leave any time soon, and that AQ can't materially affect our operations there; thus Zawahiri seems to be directing his troops to abandon Iraq for more fertile pastures. This leaves the Baathist and Sunni thugs, who will continue to be a thorn in Iraq's side for many years to come -- but the Iraqi military and police will thin their ranks over time.

The big unknowns right now are Syria and Iran. Syria is desperate to keep the Iraqi project from succeeding, and their desperation may lead them to do something foolish. And the overt Iranian support for the insurgency is clearly vexing the Americans; this, combined with the ongoing nuclear standoff, could have military repurcussions.

8/11/2005 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Asymmetric warfare is an imbalance on relative terms. The atomic bomb tipped the technology scales of asymmetry in late WWII, it is ironic that 60 years later we are still struggling to keep that asymmetry intact. The nuclear genie once uncapped cannot so easily be put back, belligerent states would never be allowed to go the way of the bomb but the right of developing the technology is thoroughly muddled with the right of energy dependence in the shadow of shrinking energy reserves and rising petroleum revenues.

In the end, an IED is merely a booby trap in urban terrain. The key to defeating them is in denying the use of the electromagnetic spectrum in which they are activated. Effective counter measures have been deployed to identify and jam signals automatically. A ruse of defusing a device and leaving it in place puts the intended victim in charge of the arming codes. Interesting ‘brinksmanship’ theater to behold. I can see clearly where US forces are putting themselves well inside of the Opfors decision loop.

Bigger and better bombs require greater logistics. We can only hope that the enemies resources can be eventually drained, but consider, when mopping up spilled milk, one must start at the overturned container and wipe the dripping table before mopping the floor.

8/11/2005 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

I hope everyone here has visited Michael Yon's site recently. He shows an example of one of these detonators with some close up pix. His latest piece is an extremely riveting read.

The one pictured uses a talkabout like we all use to communicate with our group when we go skiing (we all ski here, right?) No need for cell phone technology even.

None the less, I would think such devices are every bit as vulnerable to the correct countermeasure.

One last note, add the tank to the list of weapons. Some thought tanks would be the ultimate wonder-weapon.

The most important thing is no matter the technology having soldiers who are aware and observant. After all if the operator does not pick up on what his device is telling him the device does not work. E.g. the radar picking up the incoming Japanese planes on a December morning in 1941.

8/11/2005 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Marcus,
The Army's "Able Danger" was the Radar, the Army operators knew exactly what it meant, and the Gorelick Lawyers in DC refused to take the message.
3,000 died, no big deal.
Retain traitors in DC, keep the borders unguarded, and eliminate the enemy worldwide.

8/11/2005 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Military strategists are often accused of planning for the contingencies of the “last war”. If this is true it can be expected that the ‘Axis of Evil’ is now seeding their roadways with well engineered explosives the way the Swiss have mined and pre-placed explosives on roads and bridge ways into their snowy redoubts.

This is a crude but effective way to deny the avenues of mobile warfare. If the French had focused their resources in such a manner rather than on the folly of the Maginot Line perhaps the outcome would have been different for them.

The current IED dilemma makes me wonder when these explosives were originally placed. Certainly with airborne surveillance and the excellent imaging capability in infrared they would be discovered if they were new?

8/11/2005 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Don't you think that al-Queda is waiting for Iran to come up with the ultimate IED: the nuke?

Is there any question that once the mad mullah's have it, that Muqtada, Zaqari and bin Laden will also have their own copies? And does it really make any difference if its big enough that it needs to be carried in an SUV or if it's suit-case sized?

If they're perfecting their techniques, it seems to me that the technique they're perfecting is where and how best to set off a nuclear weapon.

I don't know, however, that the mind of an Iraqi terrorist can comprehend exactly what that means, since I'm betting to someone wearing rubber flip-flops and hopped up on speed, the vision is simply of a really Really *REALLY* big IED.

8/11/2005 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Boston said...

The two biggest mistakes the Islamists can make are to congregate and to try to out-tech the US. Overwhelming firepower and overwhelming brain power will defeat them every time. Neither the military nor its civilian supporters, however, can defeat so easily the idiots, useful and otherwise, MSM and political, who constantly glorify enemy strategy, tactics, and weapons while deprecating everything American.

During the Fallujah asskicking NYT reporter (no surprise) Dexter Filkins wrote a piece glorifying the tactics of the jihadis even as Marine Combat Teams were killing them by the hundreds. Filkins was almost orgasmic describing how Islamist fires were holding up a Marine unit. It seems that the Islamists were signalling each other by waving black flags. Here's an excerpt:

The flags are the insurgents' answer to two-way radios, their way of massing the troops and - in a tactic that goes back at least as far as Napoleon - concentrating fire on an enemy. Set against radio waves, the flags have one distinct advantage: they are terrifying.

The Marines have been to hell and back how many times in their 229 year histoy? Filkins and the NYT had them terrified by flags. I was hoping that Filkins would finish his piece with a bon mot that the black flags were even more terrifying at night but even the NYT has to sometimes concede that its American readers may actually have a few functioning neurons.

Thanks Wretchard. This is a timely post given recent events.

8/11/2005 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

The best commentary I ever read on tanks (I am not a military man) was in one of the books written by the GRU defector "Victor Suvorov". He recounts reading a book arguing that the day of the tank was over: tanks are vulnerable to attack by mines, aircraft, and the "invincible" power of defensive anti-tank guns.

Suvorov agreed with every one of these facts but pointed out that they did not support the author's central thesis. That's because the defending weapons and troops can't be everywhere at once. Build a defensive "wall" and the tanks will simply go around it if it is strong, or blast through it if it is weak, so it takes many anti-tank guns to defend even ten kilometers of line.

Soviet anti-tank guns - towed, so the crews had to fight without maneuvering - were mainly employed behind the line of battle, to defend a narrow supply line from flank attacks. Suvorov purchased the book in Paris; it was written in the 1930s.

The corollary here is that Strykers are useful despite "IEDs". The Stryker's job isn't primarily to protect its troops, but to carry them to battle and help defeat the enemy. In battle, a soldier's best protection is a weapon that is successfully used to defeat the enemy.

What if the U.S. had only captured half of Iraq and left Saddam or his Ba'athists in power? Would the situation of our men be better or worse -- or would naysayers still jibe, "We need more troops?"

Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead!

8/11/2005 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Doug,

Excellent take! I blogged a bit on Able Danger late last night sorta from the view of the spin that is going to be given to it (i.e. Bush knew).

8/11/2005 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Peter,
LOL, forgot about the only good Filkins is a dead Filkins piece.
Dexter, that is.

8/11/2005 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger jeff said...

To the guy who mentioned "Q-Ships", read Michael Yon. He describes a situation where we did just this... "blew up" a Humvee, dragged out sandbag bodies, and then waited for the local Jihadi's to swarm over it doing the "monkey pump" with their AK's.

Then the prepositioned snipers took the Jihadi's out.

8/11/2005 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Marcus' Blogger Beer LGF link.
. Bloggerbeer.com

8/11/2005 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

But Able Danger was largely using open-source information that was available on the Internet and other public mediums, Weldon said, adding that there was no law prohibiting such information from being passed on to law enforcement.

Read it all. The 9/11 Commission may be reopened to investigate this stunning failure by the PC-obsessed Clinton White House.
---
Forgot to post that crucial info.
End of off thread, sorry, just would like a policy that does not keep these moron/traitors in DC.

8/11/2005 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew Scotia said...

Let's look at the insurgency from the point of view of a resources model.

In the end, all resources are finite, even time. But in this case time is the resource that insurgents believe is on their side and that has become their dependent or outcome variable.

We know that the incidence of hostile actions, like IEDS, depends upon the people being brought together w/ the material.

That leaves people and material. Counter measures are tactical in nature and can be countered, in their turn, by new measures.

In the final analysis disrupting and fragmenting the organization of the people, atomizing the groups into individuals, turning organized resistance into leaderless associations and then into individuals, gruntled, disgruntled or passive. It is a process of devolution.

A similar process can be used on the material side. Eventually the IRA was reduced to caching one or two weapons that needed five or six people to maintain, cache, retrieve, deploy and employ. The risks became too great the payoffs became too small and the whole thing fell apart.

Large caches become smaller and smaller. And, since both people and materials are finite resources. The payoffs get relegated to page 22 of the newspaper, finally becoming simple crime statistics.

It is hard to compress the data and studies upon which the above rests, so coherence suffers. But this is how it's done now. Stand back. Observe the situation in the abstract and then take everything down to the Company, Platoon, Squad and individual soldier level.

Then measure, tweak, observe, measure, tweak in a cycle. This is a feedback model. It depends upon brains and not glands.

The process of measure, countermeasure, counter-counter measure, new measure... Rinse repeat goes on and on.

Wretchard is absolutely correct, in more ways then he realizes. Databases are weapons.

I've been at sight picture, cheek weld to the stock end and at this end. I will stay that I stay cleaner and smell better on this end and I don't have to run as much.

8/11/2005 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger cahmd said...

Excellent post as always. However, the other target of the IED is the American populace. The enemy uses the MSM as their vehicle of propaganda and despair to demoralize the nightly news viewers or the morning paper readers. In that respect, I think the enemy has held its own, if not improved its position. I really think that this current phase of the GWOT in Iraq would be over sooner, with fewer American and Iraqi casualties, but for the enablers and propagandists in the leftist dominated MSM and Democratic party. Our countermeasures in this arena appear to be lacking.

8/11/2005 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger ricpic said...

Isn't their biggest advantage over us the fact that we are sensitive to individual deaths and they are not?

If 43 American deaths were attributable to IEDs last week how many more such weeks will it take before public support of the war falls-off drastically?

8/11/2005 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Goesh said...

- and they couldn't get through the hedgerows either and mustard gas was the doom of all and kamikazes couldn't be stopped and sappers were destroying the morale of troops in Nam and the thousands of Red Coats with their brown bess rifles were too strong and the human wave assaults of Korea were demoralizing the troops and the banzai charges of the Japanese spelled the demise of our troops - it's the same old tired song sung by the same old tired minority who is able to repeatedly foist their opinions on the rest of us

8/11/2005 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Thanks Doug,

For posting the link to my blog. I get a little sheepish about doing so myself. I just completed a follow up blog on this. I do not add a whole lot to what was said here but want to point out the discussion to the six or so readers I do have.

8/11/2005 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

aristides has a good point here:

The knowledge and skills we are learning in Iraq are probably the most underappreciated aspect of OIF. For decades we've studied how to beat powerful enemies; now, we are perfecting our approach to the weak. How long before the effectiveness of the car bomb and the suicide vest is deconstructed?

It echoes Wretchard's dry remark at the end of the post about the unbeatable bi-planes...when it comes to innovations in aggressions and shields to protect against them, we evolve, we evolve.

That's the #1 reason I come here: low kvetch ratio to the amount of optimism (not to mention dry humor, you sly Wretch. It must be your Irish genes).

8/11/2005 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

The common thread in these comments is that we are winning the war in Iraq but could lose the war at home. I couldn't agree more -- the primary conflict is within the mind of the West, and a nasty uncivil war it is.

The number of people in the English-speaking world who seem to want us to lose this war is truly staggering.

8/11/2005 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

Marcus -- by all means put in your links. Don't be shy; it saves us the trouble of searching for your post.

8/11/2005 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

George,
I recently chased away a commenter who was bitchin’ about GW’s conduct of the war and then segued into gay marriage. It’s a ruse to conflate totally unrelated topics. Alternately, your homo rants do not add to the discussion. Particularly your long winded diatribes. So you’re writing a book. Why don’t you wait until somebody thinks it is worthy of being published and let us read it on our own volition rather than publish it here, warts and all, to a group of people who are following the worthy commentary of Wretchard.

I don’t care what Jihadis stick into what parts of other Jihadis anymore than I care about who does their hair or what, if any, underarm deodorants they use.

If you cannot comment in this arena in good faith, YOU SHOULD PUBLISH YOUR MANIFESTOS ELSEWHERE.

8/11/2005 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Hanba'al said...

Tony,
Besides the internal desire to be accepted and be certain of every outcomes making everyone eager to win every single hand or seeing the majority to be on their side making them anxious at every turn of events, the law of average of human progress favors us in this war. The internet and the information age tilt the average even more (evidenced by China's problem to contain information AND still advancing in technology) but even a crazy hand once in a while wins a battle against all odd.

This is just the start of the battle of life and death for the MSM and the Muslim fanatics with regard to their religion and their practices.The sicko mind at the MSM still control a vast amount of informational gates (roughly between 50 to 60% I believe) but its quality perceived has been discounted tremendously within the last few years. The next 5 years will reduce them even more (Moore law applies even to the dinosaurs in inverse relation).

Islam & MSM have never been challenged vigorously since 1996 to 2001 when the broad base internet just started. Look at the internet landscape today and you can see how the philosophical and psychological landscape have changed. Fundamentally, they just can't win.

8/11/2005 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I think the analogy between bombers and submarines and the like, and IEDs breaks down a bit in this sense. Large-scale military weapons such as bombers and subs tend to be used by military personnel in uniform. They tend to operate out of bases separate from civilian populations. The terrorists employing IEDs tend to be contained within Iraqi civilian populations. If they are foreign, they do stick out to native Iraqis, but they look concealed to us, and the Iraqis are not motivated to help us find them if they are cowed and terrorized, believing they are in danger if they help US forces.

IEDs are not an effective strategic weapon. They will not have an effect on the US military campaign. But, they can still affect Iraqi attitudes, they can still foment civil war, and neutralizing them will take different tactics than those needed to neutralize the latest and greatest bombers and subs.

8/11/2005 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

Of course they can win. Just kill off the vocal opposition with whatever weapons are handy. So the MSM tries to denounce, and the Islamists try to murder, those who point out their shame.

8/11/2005 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

George, I wonder how many of the soldiers fighting the enemy at this moment, would agree with you.

Unless they--and we at home--believe that there are Muslim people that need our help and are worth fighting for, then everything we're doing is all wrong.

Taking that a step further, I think that your attitude would be very welcome in the camps of the enemy, as nothing is so valuable to him as blind hatred--regardless of which side from which it emanates. You, George, are just exactly what Osama needs at the moment.

I'm sorry, but that's the way I see it.

8/11/2005 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Merv said...

The difficulty with using 500 pound bombs is that they weigh 500 pounds. It would be difficult for two guys to lift one out of a trunk and place it in the ground. If they used specialized equipment to transport and place the bombs, it is more likely they would be spotted.

The device that killed the 14 Marines was actually three antitank mines stacked on top of each other. Whether they are using 500 pound bombs or stacking antitank mines, the larger more cumbersome devices require more time and effort to set in place giving us more opportunities to catch them.

8/11/2005 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

So it appears that the terrorists are between a rock and a hard place... They have to expend more materiel for less effectiveness if they aim at Americans, but if they switch targets and aim at Iraqis, they undermine whatever popular support they have. If, to counteract the latter, they put out the word to their supporters to avoid such-and-such market at time x so that only their Iraqi opponents will die, they commit several security breaches at once, from increasing their monitorable contacts with noncombatant allies to telegraphing their next punch. If they move out of country and carry out attacks elsewhere, they face the prospect of eroding whatever general support they have among disgruntled Muslims, if they act in a Muslim nation. If their attack takes place in a Western nation, they may stiffen the resolve of the West unless their attack is not perfectly calibrated to public sentiment there - the response in London was perfectly predictable and makes me question how much guidance those bombers received.

All this leads me to wonder, in light of the anniversary observed a week or so ago, whether al Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist actors find themselves in the same boat as the Japanese in 1945: aware that they can't actually defeat the other side, but fighting on to achieve a conditional surrender. A distasteful prospect, since a fault I think I perceive in Bush is his tendency to be overly forgiving of and generous to his foes.

Alternatively, are they just biding time until 2008, on the (dishearteningly likely) chance that the next Prez, of whichever party, will be more squeamish? As I keep saying, PLEASE, both sides, put up the sharpest-taloned hawk you have.

8/11/2005 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger al fin said...

The chances are quite good that the next American President will be an appeaser, when compared to the present President.

Nothing else but a defeatist appeaser will satisfy the mainstream media, the democratic party base, or the intellectual vanguard in the universities and leftist thinktanks.

The defeatism of an appeaser President would propagate from the White House through the media to the troops on both sides of the conflict.

For victory to be achieved there must be the will to win.

8/11/2005 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger brdavis said...

Hmm. Anyone know if the electronic triggering device in the cell-phone-as-trigger for IEDs is usually on-hook (i.e., ring-in), or a sequence of rings, or a number sequence entered off-hook?

I'd assume that the usual trigger signal was just the phone ring itself? I mean, while it's true you can set cellphones to auto-answer (the auto off-hook condition), I'd imagine that due to timing, the "triggerman" (for lack of a better term), would tend to favour a simple dialup to the triggering device than having to press several more buttons during an auto-answer off-hook scenario?

Okay ...all that to suggest this: why couldn't we just ring ALL new cell-phones [numbers] on a random basis several times a day? ESPECIALLY numbers recently activated? Annoying for the general Iraqi populace, of course ...and damn sure annoying to a bomb-maker (or anyone - a courier - using that number as an IED trigger: could ruin their whole, er day ...but on the bright side, it would speed up their post-corporeal sexual encounters). So? Don't see a real problem with being merely "annoying" in theater myself.

And it's not like we don't "own" the CO's (central office switching controllers) and the cellphone microwave towers ...in fact, ALL the phone infrastructure. Wouldn't seem like the technological hurdle would be a real barrier (although I'm not really a phone guy).

Ditto's for randomly triggering garage door openers, etc. Just send out random - and powerful - transmissions on the usual frequencies.

Ka-booms at random and unexpected times and places would rather tend to take the efficacy out of IED production, transport, and implantation, don't you think?

Wouldn't work that well for cabling triggers, of course.

...isn't exactly a "rocket science" solution, of course. But I don't see why it wouldn't actually work (or rather, couldn't be made to work), either though.

...been thinking about this for awhile. Seems like a fairly simple - and effective - solution to the IED problem (at least, in Iraq).

Be funny as hell if bomb-making facilities suddenly started blowing up all over Iraq.

On the off-chance ...just the off-chance.

8/11/2005 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger iotm said...

You refer to the Iraqi people as "the enemy". This is pretty telling and typical of attempts to frame everything in the context of WWII, instead of parallel conflicts like Vietnam or Algeria. Gotta make it seem noble to occupy and oppress a people. The sad thing is that most of your readers agree with you, and you're simply parrotting propaganda back and forth. How about some actual analysis if you're such a military expert?

8/11/2005 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Al Fin, we must expect more and more of this. There is no answer for it. A death is a death is a death. A normal human emotion would rather have the family whole and living under a Saddam bootheel than to lose a child in order to live free. What do we make of this, what do we say?

8/11/2005 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...

re George M Weinert V's comments about queerjihad:

The use of people who are already alienated from the mainstream culture is nothing new. See
The Pink Swastika about the goings on in the Nazi Party and particularly the original Brownshirts

8/11/2005 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

Papa Bear -- until the "Night of the Long Knives" (June 30, 1934) Hitler had to share control of the Nazi Party with a kind of "gay cabal" centered in the SA. After Ernst Roehm was executed, along with most of his nancy boys, the SA lost its power and the remnant was subsumed into the SS.

There are some historians who think that Hitler had his own nancy boys on the Western Front in WWI, and arranged for the demise of Roehm (who was an old war comrade) and his boys to make sure the shameful truth would never come to light.

Interesting speculation...

8/11/2005 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

IOTM,
It is clear that the US is not fighting the Iraqi people but what the media calls an insurgency. It is this so called insurgency embedded in the Iraqi populous that is the enemy. So that you may better understand, please see the definition of ‘enemy’ below.
en•e•my ( n -m )
n. pl. en•e•mies
1. One who feels hatred toward, intends injury to, or opposes the interests of another; a foe.
2.
a. A hostile power or force, such as a nation.
b. A member or unit of such a force.
3. A group of foes or hostile forces.
4. Something destructive or injurious in its effects: “Art hath an enemy called Ignorance” (Ben Jonson).
By my take of your comments, I see that you are firmly in the category of definition #1;

“One who feels hatred toward, intends injury to, or opposes the interests of another; a foe.

You may consider it unbearable that most of us find countenance in the Belmont Club, but the offal you offer in retort shows the baseless venality at your core. Most of us here find Wretchard’s analysis to be thought provoking at the very least. If you had half a mind perhaps you could dazzle us with some of your own wisdom.

I find your sniping views oppressive.

8/11/2005 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

annoy mouse

I believe the entity calling itself "iotm" is a troll, or a troll-like nonentity.


Jamie Irons

BTW: Hi, buddy!

8/11/2005 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

George is a spammer, human or otherwise. When I see his name I minimize his post. No need to read it, and no need to respond.

IOTM is a troll and the same rule applies. The creature is not interested in argument.

8/11/2005 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Jamie Irons beat me to it.

8/11/2005 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

RWE - Actual experience inevitably drives development toward Bigger and Better versions of weapons, whether they be battleships, bombers, tanks, or spacecraft. And we do Bigger and Better better.

We don't do bigger and better anymore. Now we do more expensive, more complex, in smaller deployed numbers to fight an enemy that does bigger and better. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

We lack troop numbers to block infiltration of bombers, and no "high tech" HUMVEE equipped with the latest and greatest stands a chance against an undetected 500 lb bomb with a triggerman on an unjammable, undetected wire willing to die.

And bombers and subs still rule, are largely unstoppable - as does the 3rd weapon still basically unstoppable in their thousands (ballistic missile thermonuclear warheads) despite the 5 interceptor missiles we now have.

Tony - The reduction in losses to IED's is proof of progress, but how many voters in this country will ever know about it?

Actually, the new IEDs and tactics are doing quite well in killing Americans. August is shaping up to be a record casualty month if current trends continue.

Too often Americans see "wonder high tech toys" as the solution to all their problems. But the other side has tied down a good part of our infantry with low-tech tactics, equipment, and big balls. If we come up with a half-million a copy "wonder pulse jammer" to mount on HUMVEEs, the Islamoids will eventually cook up a new IED fusing scheme, like one that detonates when the magnetic field of a M-1 tank drives over it. Or back to car bombs, or mechanically timed bombs.

And if Islamoids ever get anthrax or nerve gas, they can be deployed in very creative ways, even getting in the Green Zone Fortress. Then we can put billions into defending against that tactic. All while Jihadis and Marines kill one another effeciently with 50 year old rifles...

A new tactic that might be tried sometime is just automatically killing on the spot those caught with bomb parts, any setting up an IED attack, the all the men in a shop found to be bomb-making.

annoy mouse The key to defeating them is in denying the use of the electromagnetic spectrum in which they are activated.

There is evidently an unlimited amount of explosive material in Iraq. Part our fault because we just let the Sunnis pick ammo dumps clean while we searched for the "vast stockpiles of WMD" and ignored conventional munitions locations. The problem is not so simple, annoy mouse. Fusing options for lighting off 1/2 ton of HE near or underneath infidels are numerous and you can't jam them all. Only hope you anticipate and neutralize the fusing option selected.

Land line, fiber optic, laser, pressure activated, radar proximity, magnetic, sound activated, cell spectrum, shortwave spectrum, walkie talkie spectrum, Infrared, mechanical timer, lit fuse, human bomb trigger...and a dozen more means...

Lotsa luck! If we can jam or disable half of them, we are doing OK.

The key will never be high tech solutions to IEDs, but high tech, intelligence and the Will to kill anyone we find involved in IEDs.

8/11/2005 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Jeff - IEDs are not an effective strategic weapon. They will not have an effect on the US military campaign.

What alternate universe do you live in? Every soldier in the Sunni triangle knows his next trip outside base may result in death or worse from IED. Billions have been spent trying to deal with this threat. It has deeply impacted the US campaign by forcing layers of defense and hindering free movement. They add billions in force protection cost for support elements moving supplies about Iraq. They have harvested over 1200 soldiers so far and wounded, even horrifically maimed and made dozens of soldiers into brain damaged, incognitive Terri Schiavos...IEDs have hindered Iraq reconstruction and killed over 10,000 Iraqi civilians.

They are a strategic weapon. Used successfully enough that Iraq may be the template for other insurgencies. They have aided the insurgents in tying down half the US military, caused diminished public support for Iraq, helped make allies reluctant to join us, and pretty well ended the neocon dream of embroiling the US in simultaneous major wars against Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Lebanon to help make Israel's Settlements safe.

Their effect is profound. Ask any soldier who has been there. It's one thing to die in combat. It's a completely other sort of fear that you may go out or be rendered limbless from an enemy threat you are oblivious to right to the moment of detonation.

Homefront civvies mean well when they diminish the threat or abilities of the enemy compared to "our magnificent, superior troops". Every nation does it.

In WWII, a prosperous war corporation published propaganda saying their bomber was superior, fearsome. And matched it up against the German Fockewolf bomber...asking rhetorically..."Who fears the Fockewolf??" They got hit with angry mail from frontline soldiers that said, yes, they feared the Fockewolf...lost half their company to them in fact....and frankly, they not only feared the Fockewolves...the plane scared the crap out of them.

On the other side, the Germans did not take kindly to backtalk. If the Propaganda Ministry said no need to fear poorly made primitive Soviet guns and artillery, pointing out that inferior weaponry nevertheless decimated your unit likely got you a spot in their grave.

8/11/2005 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Out of curiosity, Wretchard, are you able to ban people from posting here? That is, is there some blogger tool for that? Contrary to some folks' feelings here, I actually like that there are a small group of people who post here and the discussion is generally free of the nattering criticisms of the typical stupid. Unfortunately, I think there are at least 2 who have to be purged posthaste. Just my 2 cents.

8/11/2005 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Cedarford,

By "strategic" I meant in the large-scale, military sense. Clearly IEDs are dangerous, clearly they have an effect at the tactical level. Clearly the terrorists have a "strategy" in using them.

However, the terrorists will not achieve a military victory across the theater (at the "strategic" level) simply by killing US soldiers a few at a time with IEDs. IEDs will not push the US military out.

If the US does retreat because of the effect of IEDs, it will be a political decision, not a military one.

8/11/2005 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Baron Bodissey said...
The common thread in these comments is that we are winning the war in Iraq but could lose the war at home. I couldn't agree more -- the primary conflict is within the mind of the West, and a nasty uncivil war it is.

The number of people in the English-speaking world who seem to want us to lose this war is truly staggering.

10:51 AM
///////////////////////
the issue is not whether the USA is or is not in Iraq. If dems were doing it-- it would be ok with the sodomite one worlders. the issue is rather power. who has it and who doesn't.

there's more than one way to skin a cat.

if they can't break the pubbies on iraq, then they can turn them on border issues.

this is the way bad guys win. how? why? the mexicans have never been known for either their good government or their pro israeli policies. let the mexicans overwelm americans and by the natural work of the ballot box government will become predatory and weak just like it is in mexico. And too, the US would become much less interested in the fate of israel--because the people who are interested in israel would be voted out. finally the usa would be become maleable to the plans of the one world sodomites.
.............................
Texas Becomes a Majority-Minority State
YAHOO NEWS ^ | 8/11/05 | By ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press Writer


Posted on 08/11/2005 12:17:25 PM PDT by Die_Hard Conservative Lady


Texas Becomes a Majority-Minority State By ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press Writer Thu Aug 11, 7:50 AM ET

Texas has become the fourth state to have a non-white majority population, the U.S. Census Bureau said Thursday, a trend driven by a surging number of Hispanics moving to the state.

According to the population estimates based on the 2000 Census, about 50.2 percent of Texans are now minorities. In the 2000 Census, minorities made up about 47 percent of the population in the second-largest state.

Texas joins California, New Mexico and Hawaii as states with majority-minority populations — with Hispanics the largest group in every state but Hawaii, where it is Asian-Americans.

Five other states — Maryland, Mississippi, Georgia, New York and Arizona — aren't far behind, with about 40 percent minorities.
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1461471/posts

8/11/2005 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Actually, the new IEDs and tactics are doing quite well in killing Americans. August is shaping up to be a record casualty month if current trends continue.

Well, a casualty spike can be expected whenever an enemy reactively alters its tactics. The bulk of these casualties come from single events rather than huge numbers of onesies and twosies as they had previously. Thus the import of their effects is different regardless of the strict numbers involved. The relevant statistics change: for instance, the likelihood of any one Marine being involved in an IED event may be significantly lower now than it has been previously. On the other hand, for those Marines who become involved in an IED event, the likelihood of serious injury or death may now be much greater.

Too often Americans see "wonder high tech toys" as the solution to all their problems.

The interesting thing about the rest of your post is that you seem to acknowledge that the "wonder high tech toys" remain part of the solution, and are hardly unimportant. I posit that engineers in particular understand that better than anyone else, being fully appraised of both the capabilities and limits of the systems they create. What is unrealistic and dangerous, however, is the undue expectation from non-scientists and non-engineers that these systems will somehow perform miracles. Which brings up one of your earlier statements:

And bombers and subs still rule, are largely unstoppable - as does the 3rd weapon still basically unstoppable in their thousands...

I presume here you mean aircraft. Unless you are referring to the B2 in particular, bombers are quite stoppable. Even the B2 is vulnerable under certain conditions. The B2 and systems like it have simply transformed the problem; countermeasures are feasible, but uneconomical. Submarines are even easier to stop. The question is merely whether one is willing to spend the money to do it.

Ballistic missile defense is a somewhat more complicated arena. There are both political and technological competitions that have interfered with commitment to developing mass deployable systems. First of all, politics has been thoroughly ingrained for decades in the illusory protection of MAD. MAD is not protection. It is simply faith in the rationality of the enemy. In this day and age this faith is obviously misplaced. Yet there remains an institutional opposition to the ongoing development of ABM technologies; although this has impeded progress, it has not yet ended it. The end result is that although reliable systems are needed now, at our current pace we are at least ten to twenty years away from production and deployment en masse.

The larger point remains, however; ballistic missiles are not unstoppable. Neither are submarines or stealth bombers. We can stop them; just show us the money.

8/11/2005 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger ambisinistral said...

George M Weinert V,

May I off a bit of posting advice. Consider it constructive criticism. When I finally realized your post was about a bajillion lines long, I scrolled to the top and made note of your screen name so's I would never make the mistake of starting to read one of your posts again.

Even at that, you're causing a lot of wear to my mouse's scroll wheel. Brevity does have its charms.

8/11/2005 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

George, what do we talk about when we want to express our love for our nation's exceptionalism, in the times after we've listened to you and genocided the Muslim religion? Dutch Elm Disease was a bitch to conquer, but we never just cut down all the trees everywhere. Tho that would've best ended the threat to the forests.

8/11/2005 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Jamie, "hi" back atcha. You're just in time, there's a poster nearby who needs a psychiatrist badly!

8/11/2005 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Cedar,

Almost one-third of casualties to date this month were in one event. About half of them were in a relatively large offensive operation. I don't think you can argue that this constitutes a trend in the longer term.

I was referring to Wretchard's reference: USA Today reported: "While IED attacks have increased, U.S. casualties from them have gone down. From April 2004 to April 2005, task force spokesman Dick Bridges said, the number of casualties from IED attacks had decreased 45%."

Here are the actual details:
Iraq Coalition Casualties Count

Of all the high-tech approaches we are taking, 'running back the tapes' of overhead surveillance to find the bomb makers after bombs go off seems most practical, if hugely expensive.

The most effective approach is going to be empowering the Iraqi police and military to kill these guys. Apparently detainees sing like birds in the hands of the Iraqis.

Just today, Bush said "When the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down."

8/11/2005 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

I forgot to add:

The technological restrictions often flow down from political requirements. For instance, the nonsense regarding weapons in space. There is considerable engineering rationale for launching a constellation of ABM satellites equipped with either or both kinetic interceptors and high powered lasers; but a certain proportion of the voting populace will have none of that.

So we are stuck with certain operational constraints. In order to intercept at boost phase, an airborne or other mobile theater based ABM asset must be deployed on-station; for instance, an ABL flying in conjunction with AWACS and a full fighter escort off the coast of North Korea. Obviously this implies that a regional airbase must be nearby, in this case, in Japan. Failing that, in order to intercept mid-course, the launch must have been detected by DSP and relayed from the AF Space wing in Colorado to the MDA launch facility at Kwajalein. Failing that, the individual reentry vehicles would need to be acquired and tracked by AWACS flying CAP for mainland or outlying USA and intercepted terminal-phase by one (preferrably more) ABLs per warhead.

The economics of this layered defense are already unfavorable, and they become more and more unfavorable as more weapons are put into the air at once. In contrast, a space-based system has the potential to autonomously 1) recognize the launch anywhere in the world, precluding the necessity of regional airbases for theater level assets; 2) relay information about the launch to the most proximately located group of weapons satellites, rather than depend on the fortuitous placement of fixed ground installations such as Kwajalein; 3) acquire and track the missile during all phases of flight; 4) remain in constant engagement from the time of launch to the time of successful interception.

I have a hard time seeing why anyone wouldn't want a system like this. But economics and politics have dictated that it's more comfortable to pay for an inferior system piecemeal with the boost, mid-course and terminal phase defense systems as separate, unconnected long-term proof-of-concept programs, than to commit to building a superior, unified defense umbrella through a single ultra-high-budget program.

8/11/2005 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Bigger mines mean bigger holes. More time digging and covering.

More time to camouflauge.

This is a disadvantage.

Since the current crop uses shells and bombs, metal detectors should be of some use.

8/11/2005 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Cedarford,
IED’s are effective weapons of terror. A soldier develops an existential acceptance of dieing, especially in combat, but every soldier expects to be able to fight his or her way out of an engagement. IED’s offer the possibility of becoming a red mist without the ability to fight back, or even knowing that you are already dead, that is truly terrifying.

Money alone will not buy victory but being the firstest with the mostest will. High tech weaponry has it’s place though one must be careful not to solely rely on it. The marines are largely a “can do” force of men who rely on hand-me-down weaponry from the Army.

So it is irresponsible to rely on unproven, unavailable, high tech weapons as well is it irresponsible not to use those that we have at our disposal.

“It is true that an advantage once denied will be replaced by a new modus operandi, but denial of capability is still useful. It thwarts some plans in mid step and forces a realignment of enemy means and methods towards new spheres of operational cover and new targets. If nothing else this is disruptive to ongoing operations of the opposing forces and keeps them dependent on evolving their tactics. This requires even more command and control from upper echelons or a previously written rule book. Plans rarely survive contact with the enemy and it at these times that mistakes can be made”.

In summary, IED’s must be fought by employing all means available. The easiest is to deny the enemies methods of choice, EM spectrum.

8/11/2005 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger bosco said...

Wretch, there is one way that the jihadis can keep up with the technological loop and that's through state sponsership. ie Iran and Syra. There's only so much Ahmed can do on his own in his cave or his hideout with a few hundred pounds of explosives. With state sponsorship you get new and more technologically advanced munitions that are more effective. Thus the recent use (and confiscation of)of shaped charges that killed those 14 marines. The danger of state sponsorship of course is that the state (Iran) will get caught and have to face the consequences. Personally, this most event is a declaration of war by Iran. What are we going to do about it?

8/11/2005 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

If IONATRON's JIN works as hoped, it could take IEDs/VBIEDs right out of the Sunni Arab insurgency. To adapt, our opponents will have to find some way of shielding their bombs from the device, or start using old-fashioned cannon fuses and matches.

8/11/2005 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Cedarford,

Where were the FockeWolfs on 6 June 1944?

In the main: not in evidence.

Why? If none are in the air they do no damage to people on the ground.

The Allies had gained air superiority.

Radar. Tracking stations. Bombing of aircraft factories. Flack guns. Proximity fuzes. Fuel shortages. Pilot shortages. Training shortages.

The reasons were many and compounded each other.

8/11/2005 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Land lines mean that movement is restricted. It also means covering the line as well as the explosives.

And unless the line is shielded an EMP type pulse can detonate the IED. The longer the line the more suceptable.

Fiber optics are good. But then the electronics are more complicated and expensive. And you have to bury the fiber.

Everything you do leaves a trail. The question always is the sensitivity of the detectors and signal to noise.

8/11/2005 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

The majority of innovations in this new war will not be technological. The networking of our military and the decentralized market of ideas it helps to foster will play a much bigger role in our victory.

Substitute "military" with "people" and the statement remains true, in general.

8/11/2005 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Charles,
Caught that:
And our "non-white" populace, while voting democrat, is probably less defeatist than the general population.
OTOH, the argument that INCREASING the demographic of another group that votes majority democrat is GOOD for the GOP escapes me.
Not to mention that our "educational" and social welfare establishments have rendered such immigrants less and less patriotic.

---
For George:
. The Dope's Outta Rope.
Clark last made headlines in 2002, when, in his homily during a Sunday Mass, he said the United States was "probably the most immoral country in the Western Hemisphere" and called homosexuality "a disorder."
Egan's spokesman said the cardinal is looking into the matter and has asked Clark to explain his actions.
. I saw my momma kissin...

8/11/2005 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Read Bill Roggio http://billroggio.com/archives/2005/08/tactics_strateg.php#more

"It can be deployed against terrorists, too. It can apply to 4G conflicts as well as conventional ones.

But the network one seeks to take down, when the battlespace is an entire society, is the whole society.

We know that these terrorist networks are run and handled by men of education and some prosperity. Often al Qaeda in particular has relied upon men who had every benefit of the West, yet themselves came from benighted places. They had been brought halfway, found that they could not climb the rest of the way, and became bitter and hateful. And they had the education and the ability to carry out a terrible revenge.

As we enter an age of nuclear terror, we must remember how high the stakes are. We will not have the luxury of choosing not to fight. If we cannot win by raising these societies the rest of the way up, we must win by tearing them all the way down."

8/11/2005 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger brdavis said...

Here's an article on ICE (IED Countermeasure Equipment) that seems relevant to the discussion: New device counters terrorism, keeps troops alive.

8/11/2005 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Nathan,

You must be talking about Brilliant Pebbles .

Of all the options, they are the cheapest and easiest. Pretty much a COTS integration. We have boosters, seekers, small rocket engines, micro-thrusters for steering, warheads and we can build the buses toot sweet. The kill vehicles with all the above (except the bus they ride in) were supposed to be as big as an oil can.

Once again, the only thing we have to fear are the fearful themselves.

Obviously, Brilliant Pebbles have nothing to do with IED's, but they would put a Hard Ceiling on the missileer dreams of our enemies, like Iran, NoKo and China.

Without missiles, our enemies would stare in the cold face of our recent conventional military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. They might realize that guerillas and IED's are the best shot they are ever going to have.

Star Wars would send the message: So, brother Tehranis, do you want your future to look like current day Baghdad?

8/11/2005 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger Soldier's Dad said...

"Actually, the new IEDs and tactics are doing quite well in killing Americans. August is shaping up to be a record casualty month if current trends continue."

General Myers made a statement yesterday about the 14 casualty IED incident in Haditha during the pentagon briefing.

The IED did not breach the armor. The vehicle was flipped in such a manner as to prevent egress.

IMHO The only effective weapon the terrorists have is relative anonymity.

The IED is only effective if the person triggering it is in a crowd, triggering a "super IED" in a crowd results in too many civilian casualties, which results in loss of "passive support" and effective anonymity.

Without a crowd, the trigger man risks capture, capture results in intelligience.

8/11/2005 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Nathan,
It is not just a bunch of limp wristed liberals who oppose the weaponization of space. We may consider the world our backyard but space is not ours alone to colonize. If a nation put nuclear weapons platforms in space it would be a matter of time when we would have an FOB on the International Space Station. It may be inevitable that we will base weapons in space, but let us exploit terrestrial options before the debris from IEDs in space are denying the possibility of all satellite conveniences.

“a space-based system has the potential to autonomously 1) recognize the launch anywhere in the world, precluding the necessity of regional airbases for theater level assets; 2) relay information about the launch to the most proximately located group of weapons satellites, rather than depend on the fortuitous placement of fixed ground installations”

Is it just me or does this sound ominously like “Sky-Net” on terminator or some other sci-fi, man meets machine, self induced disaster?

8/11/2005 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger brdavis said...

Oh ...and Cedarford? Jeff was talking about strategic weapons, not tactical weapons.

Simply, you can't fight "battles" with IED's; their tactical effectiveness is extremely limited in scope, militarily.

Now. For the Iraq theater, IED's are indeed tactively effective against individuals and small units - as you note - in some situations, but their only strategic value is the dubious one of whether terror itself is ultimately effective (on anything other than - potentially - the political level).

I mean, you'd certainly agree that 9/11 was a huge strategic error (if their goal actually is the establishment of the Caliphate); inasmuch as the result was the GWOT, and the total destruction of the entire core of their op's infrastructure in Afghanistan.

Seems that the Japanese made a similar error 60 or so years ago, eh? (With FAR better battlefield tactical systems.)

Meh. It's already obvious there are no "Hannibal's" in AQ, or Iraq. And the traditional Islamic war techniques (which is what we're really seeing here, with only minor updates for local modern weapons: but their strategy dates back to the Bedouian raider, pre-Islamic era), have proven historically ineffective against the Western way of warring.

The Islamist's only real hope is if a Jane Fonda redux can pull it out of the hat for 'em.

Because they sure haven't shown that they've really learned anything strategically in the last 1,400 years.

They're toast.

My best guess is we're stringing this out mainly to update weapons systems (gotta have a budget), unit operational/battlefield experience, and to give us regional bases against the Chinese (who DO have strategic implications for us) ...and fill the region's strategic vacuum created by the fall of the Soviets.

All of which takes time.

8/11/2005 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Cindy Sheehan's Crowd .
In other words, Ms. Sheehan's "coalition" includes a lot of people who think the persons who killed her son were justified.

8/11/2005 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

We may consider the world our backyard but space is not ours alone to colonize. If a nation put nuclear weapons platforms in space it would be a matter of time when we would have an FOB on the International Space Station.

I do consider the weaponization of space an inevitability, and I would prefer that the United States participate proactively rather than reactively to certain developing space powers who will undoubtedly have absolutely zero qualms about developing and deploying their own ABM and ASAT assets. Would you prefer that these foreign powers, unbound militarily by the restrictions of Western morality, be the first to acquire space weapons before the United States suddenly discovers a reason to commit to development of countermeasures? At that point our launch vehicles- themselves the progeny of the ballistic missiles ABM spacecraft are intended to destroy- will be at risk. ISS will be held hostage. We will not then be able to enter space without the express permission of that foreign power.

It comes down to a matter of trust. Whom do you trust to safeguard the passage of men and material into space? The United States, or somebody else?

8/11/2005 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger brdavis said...

Is it just me or does this sound ominously like “Sky-Net” on terminator or some other sci-fi, man meets machine, self induced disaster?

Yeah, annoy mouse "it's just you." We'll have to weaponize near space (at least), what with the de-rationalization of the world polity.

Population numbers ...eventually ...matter. The USA doesn't have the numbers (one reason why we've allowed out-sourcing of some very lucrative high-tech industries to our - newfound - friends in India, to help jumpstart their previously moribund economy) if push really comes to shove on the global playing field.

And if we also can't count on rational response from political entities (and Islamic cultural polities have NOT shown any kind of rational perspicacity ...historically or recently ...they really, actually do think that the enslavement of the West into Dhimmitude is inevitable ...even the "moderates" want, believe in the Islamic utopian vision of the Caliphate): well, robotic space weapons with advanced automatic AI control systems sound pretty good to me.

Not that I'm agin' ANYTHING that will get us off-planet. Even near-orbital weaponization.

I do NOT trust Mother Nature ...time to expand (and thereby insure) human potentials by moving off-planet.

8/11/2005 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Is it just me or does this sound ominously like “Sky-Net” on terminator or some other sci-fi, man meets machine, self induced disaster?

Hundreds of years ago, did the imagination of sea monsters thwart the exploration of the Navigators or the establishment of seaborne trade routes? A mere half century ago, did we allow the imagination of hostile space aliens to prevent our advance into space? The fear of the unknown has not and should never impede the pursuit of much more meaningful motivations despite the entailment of risks both real and imagined.

8/11/2005 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Fear of the unknown isn’t the issue, it is rational decision making with regard to the known that is at stake.

The US has been developing ABM, ASAT, and space-borne weapons since the 50’s and this is good. I have little doubt that there are ASAT payloads that we can launch in a pinch (I hope I’m right) at a moments notice. If not, we should have them as well as any ABM capability that we can muster and I think that we should continue developing these technologies as aggressively as possible.

The Chinese as well as India and others are developing a space-borne capability and I am doubtful it is for the purposes of peaceful scientific exploration. But it would play to our strengths not to deploy “permanent”, orbiting nuclear warheads to deliver at any moment at the push of the button. I personally am very limited in my defensive capability but would not hesitate to cheap shot somebody who was holding a stick over my head. Putting nukes in space is provocative and the resulting arms race would be certain to create a coalition of our former allies.

We should deploy as we have Communication and ISR equipment into space as needed and we should deploy C4I if necessary. We should develop systems that can be delivered when needed, orbit in the case of imminent conflict, a deorbited in times of peace.

8/11/2005 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

c4: "Every soldier in the Sunni triangle knows his next trip outside base may result in death or worse from IED"

In every war solders face death from "various bits of hard matter" aimed at all points of their bodies" in all military actions, even simply driving equipment or training is (not can be) deadly, implying that our guys & gals are at higher "fear/risk” because its an "ied" is nonsense, I am sure our brave guys and gals do have moments of human emotion, including fear, as in all war situations, regardless of it being a bullet, knife, mortar, poison gas. Your point is meaningless.

The better question is death rate, for which you pounce next....

c4: They have harvested over 1200 soldiers so far and wounded, even horrifically maimed and made dozens of soldiers into brain damaged, incognitive Terri Schiavos...IEDs have hindered Iraq reconstruction and killed over 10,000 Iraqi civilians.

Please compare and contrast ANY other military (hostile) occupation in HISTORY that has cost LESS from the point of view of deaths of occupying force. (or civilians as well)

basic numbers gang...

an usa army of 160,000
occupying an iraq population of 22 million
total square miles: 438,317 sq km (169,235 sq mi)

total death allied forces: approx 2000
total wounded allied forces: 20k

look at vietnam as comparison:

3 years 67 - 69 average "active years" an army of 500,000
vietnam population of 16 million
total square miles: 329,560 sq km s (204,000 sq mi)

American Dead approx 58,000
South Vietnam approx 220,000
north vietnam soldiers 1,100,000
wounded allies & america 1.4 mil
wounded North Vietnam 600,000

PLUS 2 - 4 MILLION civilian deaths

c4: They are a strategic weapon. (IED)


they are a weapon... period

c4: Used successfully enough that Iraq may be the template for other insurgencies.

All insurgencies are a work in progress, so what's the point? All major military conflicts are studied and learned from, as we do, we learn and adapt, so you could say : Used successfully enough that Iraq may be the template for other counterinsurgencies.

total waste of bandwidth...

C4: They have aided the insurgents in tying down half the US military, caused diminished public support for Iraq, helped make allies reluctant to join us,

No my friend, the world did not support us (except those 42 nations publicly and 1 nation COVERTLY) before the use of IED's, as for tying down 1/2 the US military, MOST of the US military aint even in iraq...

C4: and pretty well ended the neocon dream of embroiling the US in simultaneous major wars against Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Lebanon to help make Israel's Settlements safe.

Neo-cons are far deeper.. who is to say all conflict is resolved in the identical way? what a foolish concept...

Iraq - UN sanctions - Military Operation
Lebanon - Support democracy
Iran - Allow Russia, France and Britain to talk
North Korea - again, group dialogue
Palestine - Support abbas and “so-called” democracy w/tax dollars Syria - sanctions and diplo pressure

Sorry the Neocon dream is NOT for "simultaneous" major wars to make israel safe. In case you haven't read the paper in the last 5 years, Israel has been advocating dismantling to "so-called" settlements in the internationally agreed DISPUTED territories, leaving all but a few square miles of Jerusalem contested. I doubt seriously major wars in 4 countries are needed to make Israel safe.

To your point that the neo-cons dream of simultaneous major wars in it's self quite revealing...

If neocons were as war-like as YOU dream, you'd have MILLIONS already dead....

8/11/2005 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

The submarine and aeroplane were not defeated by the advancing technology of counter-measures by one side alone. They were defeated by stopping the other guy developing his side faster.

The Americans find a way to stop IEDs, the enemy needs to find another tactic. As long as they have time, manpower and funding to do so then it will not prove an inoluble problem.

The only way to defeat an enemy is to make them give up, or degrade them to the point of irrelevancy. As long as the fundamentalist wahhabists have access to funds, time and men they will remain active.

8/11/2005 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Wretchard,
I thank you for insightfully revealing the meta-context of the IEDs.

And I take pleasure in knowing how the thugs are playing to American strengths! It is THIS fundamental ignorance (or arrogance, or pride of God's favor, whatever) that is proving the thugs' undoing!

8/11/2005 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Annoymouse wrote Is it just me or does this sound ominously like “Sky-Net” on terminator or some other sci-fi, man meets machine, self induced disaster?

You are writing about all the stuff we were afraid existed in 60's.

You can go see all that stuff now at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum . It looks old and clunky now. You can't believe that particular piece of corny junk in front of you could have spent the Swinging Sixties in Outer Space.

Then you find yourself thinking about Moore's Law in space technology. My POS laptop has about 50,000-500,000 times the computing power of those ancient Univac and Dec dinosaurs that ran into the 90's, controlling our spacecraft.

If my junker laptop is that much more advanced than that pale green JOKE of a computer in the Smithsonian ... what has Moore's Law done to Star Wars?

8/11/2005 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

In the early 80s, a device like this was used in Beirut by US SOF while driving around the town. It detonated at least one bomb prematurely.

8/11/2005 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Doug said...
Charles,
Caught that:
And our "non-white" populace, while voting democrat, is probably less defeatist than the general population.
OTOH, the argument that INCREASING the demographic of another group that votes majority democrat is GOOD for the GOP escapes me.
Not to mention that our "educational" and social welfare establishments have rendered such immigrants less and less patriotic.
////////////////////
the betrayal comes on both sides of the isle from the leadership --against the wishes of the rank and file. the top pubbies calculate illegals as cheap labor. the top dems calculate illegals as cheap votes. both carry passports as accessories.

8/11/2005 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Red River said...
In the early 80s, a device like this was used in Beirut by US SOF while driving around the town. It detonated at least one bomb prematurely.

any sources? I'd give a month's pay to see the IDF drive through Jenin, Ramallah, Nablus or Gaza City with one of those... or better yet, have them stationary at border crossings and the security fence... sort of like bugs to a blue light bug zapper....

8/11/2005 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

brdavis - Oh ...and Cedarford? Jeff was talking about strategic weapons, not tactical weapons.

And so was I. This is assymetric war, and the IED is a weapon that has revolutionized the battlefield. It dictates the manner of our deployments, has added 10s of billions in extra costs, has hindered US movement amongst the people. In Lebanon, the IED forced Israel into strategic withdrawal. In Iraq, it is responsible for turning opinion of the war and deterring allies from any desire to join US troops and be blasted to bits by an enemy you never see.

simply, you can't fight "battles" with IED's; their tactical effectiveness is extremely limited in scope, militarily.

Really! That's not what the Pentagon, the troops, or Congress is saying.

Now. For the Iraq theater, IED's are indeed tactively effective against individuals and small units - as you note - in some situations, but their only strategic value is the dubious one of whether terror itself is ultimately effective (on anything other than - potentially - the political level).

Blow up 100 Americans a month, 1,000 Iraqis, never run out of ammo, money, or Jihadis and you can tie up the American military and prevent Iraq from progressing until the point where American political will breaks, or a higher crisis comes up and we need our infantry back, or DOD weakens because all the infrastructure and weapons buys are limited because of the 75 billion a year Iraq costs and they recommend exit...

Unless of course we find the troops to seal the Syrian Border and make being caught in the act of building IEDs or planting them somewhat worse in consequence than prison with 3 squares a day and your personal free Koran.....

I mean, you'd certainly agree that 9/11 was a huge strategic error (if their goal actually is the establishment of the Caliphate); inasmuch as the result was the GWOT, and the total destruction of the entire core of their op's infrastructure in Afghanistan.

There was no total destruction of the entire core of Al Qaeda leadership for their strategic use of 4 IEDs on 9/11. The GWOT is a joke phrase. The war is an ideological struggle against radical Islam. Not the insurgents in Occupied Palestine, the IRA, the Tamil Tigers, abortion clinic bombers, radical Jihadis, and Earth Firsters. This is a struggle with radical Islam over religion and foreign policies.....and culture. 20% of Muslims are radicals, and they are our enemy. Not just the 1/100th of 1% that use terror as a tactic.

8/11/2005 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

porky, I don't think you understand the neocon agenda. Here, straight from the horses mouth:

"ESTABLISH FOUR CORE MISSIONS for U.S. military forces:
• defend the American homeland;
• fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars;…"

http://www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf

Wretchard,

After reading your post I am troubled. I feel that you are either propagandizing or, maybe, simply, trying to provoke discussion. You cite that USA today figure on the declining effectiveness of the IED 's killing US personnel, yet it was based on stats upto only April of this year and somehow I doubt it factored in the 'targeting' of IED's. Stats can be very misleading.

I also am somewhat dismayed at how you equate and IED with the 'next best thing' in weaponary. The 'insurgents' are primarily wiring together old artillery shells with detonators triggered by cell phones, infrared (i.e tv remotes, and washing machine timers, among other things). Hardly high tech but effective. Like occupations throughout history, if you don't win the hearts and minds of the inhabitants you can take all your superior firepower and shove it where the sun don't shine. They won't submit, and you die slowly of attrition. That slow attrition means a loss when the war is waged by a democracy.

8/11/2005 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Porkrind goes chickenhawk -

implying that our guys & gals are at higher "fear/risk” because its an "ied" is nonsense,

You have never served in the military. It is not something common to people like you in the neocon ranks.

If you have any active duty soldiers in your circles, you would know that certain weaponry elicits much more fear than others, and is hardly the "nonsense" that you, in your ignorance, state it is.

You, as a cosseted civvie, think there is nothing intrinsically different between fighting hand to hand with knives, taking a bullet, being shelled, or being in a vehicle whose armor is burned through by IEDs. No doubt you would have counseled VC to "get over their undue fear of napalm or B-52 strikes" since it's just another way of dying like being in a firefight with the enemy and getting tagged by a mortar round.

Hardly.

8/11/2005 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

c4: In Lebanon, the IED forced Israel into strategic withdrawal.

The initial success of the Israeli operation led officials to broaden the objective to expel the PLO from Lebanon and induce the country's leaders to sign a peace treaty. In 1983, Lebanon's President, Amin Gemayel, signed a peace treaty with Israel. A year later, Syria forced Gemayel to renege on the agreement. The war then became drawn out as the IDF captured Beirut and surrounded Yasser Arafat and his guerrillas.

PLO Tyranny in Lebanon

For Arab residents of south Lebanon, PLO rule was a nightmare. After the PLO was expelled from Jordan by King Hussein in 1970, many of its cadres went to Lebanon. The PLO seized whole areas of the country, where it brutalized the population and usurped Lebanese government authority.

On October 14, 1976, Lebanese Ambassador Edward Ghorra told the UN General Assembly the PLO was bringing ruin upon his country: “Palestinian elements belonging to various splinter organizations resorted to kidnaping Lebanese, and sometimes foreigners, holding them prisoners, questioning them, and even sometimes killing them.”

Columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, not known for being sympathetic toward Israel, declared after touring south Lebanon and Beirut that the facts "tend to support Israel's claim that the PLO has become permeated by thugs and adventurers" (Washington Post, June 25, 1982). Countless Lebanese told harrowing tales of rape, mutilation and murders committed by PLO forces.

New York Times correspondent David Shipler visited Damour, a Christian village near Beirut, which had been occupied by the PLO since 1976, when Palestinians and Lebanese leftists sacked the city and massacred hundreds of its inhabitants. The PLO, Shipler wrote, had turned the town into a military base, "using its churches as strongholds and armories" (New York Times, June 21, 1982).

When the IDF drove the PLO out of Damour in June 1982, Prime Minister Menachem Begin announced that the town's Christian residents could come home and rebuild. Returning villagers found their former homes littered with spray-painted Palestinian nationalist slogans, Fatah literature and posters of Yasir Arafat. They told Shipler how happy they were that Israel had liberated them.

The PLO's Reluctant Retreat

When the IDF captured Beirut, the civilian population was forced to suffer because of the PLO's refusal to surrender. By mid-June, Israeli troops had surrounded 6,000-9,000 terrorists who had taken up positions amid the civilian population of West Beirut. To prevent civilian casualties, Israel agreed to a cease-fire to enable an American diplomat, Ambassador Philip Habib, to mediate a peaceful PLO withdrawal from Lebanon. As a gesture of flexibility, Israel agreed to permit PLO forces to leave Beirut with their personal weapons. But the PLO continued to make new demands.

The PLO also adopted a strategy of controlled violations of the cease fire, with the purpose of inflicting casualties on Israel and provoking Israeli retaliation sufficient to get the IDF blamed for disrupting the negotiations and harming civilians. For more than a month, the PLO tried to extract a political victory from its military defeat. Arafat declared his willingness "in principle" to leave Beirut, then refused to go to any other country. Arafat also tried to push the U.S. to recognize the PLO. Throughout the siege, the PLO hid behind innocent civilians, accurately calculating that if Israel were to attack, it would be internationally condemned.

"The Israelis bombed buildings, innocent looking on the outside, where their intelligence told them that PLO offices were hidden," wrote Middle East analyst Joshua Muravchik ("Misreporting Lebanon," Policy Review, Winter 1983). "Their intelligence also told them of the huge network of underground PLO storage facilities for arms and munitions that was later uncovered by the Lebanese Army. No doubt the Israelis dropped some bombs hoping to penetrate those facilities and detonate the dumps. The PLO had both artillery and anti aircraft [equipment] truck mounted. These would fire at the Israelis and then move." The Israelis would fire back and sometimes miss, inadvertently hitting civilian targets.

In numerous instances, the media mistakenly reported that Israel was hitting civilian targets in areas where no military ones were nearby. On one night in July, Israeli shells hit seven embassies in Beirut. NBC aired a report that appeared to lend credence to PLO claims it had no military positions in the area. Israel, Muravchik noted, "soon released reconnaissance photos showing the embassy area honeycombed with tanks, mortars, heavy machine guns and anti aircraft positions."

The Lebanon war provoked intense debate within Israel. For the first time in Israel's history, a consensus for war did not exist (though it did at the outset). Prime Minister Menachem Begin resigned as demands for an end to the fighting grew louder. The national coalition government that took office in 1984 decided to withdraw from Lebanon, leaving behind a token force to help the South Lebanese Army (which Israel had long supported) patrol a security zone near Israel's border.

Though the IDF succeeded in driving the PLO out of Lebanon, it did not end the terrorist threats from that country. The war was also costly, 1,216 soldiers died between June 5, 1982, and May 31, 1985.

Ongoing Violence

Jerusalem repeatedly stressed that Israel did not covet a single inch of Lebanese territory. Israel's 1985 withdrawal from Lebanon confirmed that. The small 1,000-man Israeli force, deployed in a strip of territory extending eight miles into south Lebanon, protects towns and villages in northern Israel from attack. Israel also repeatedly said it would completely withdraw from Lebanon in return for a stable security situation on its northern border.

Israel withdrew... Israel could have just simply destroyed the bottom 10 miles of Lebanon into useless rubble...

but they did not...

the IED was a weapon, certainly not the reason for the IDF's withdrawl

8/11/2005 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Cedarford said...
You have never served in the military. It is not something common to people like you in the neocon ranks.

hmm... can you give us, oh wise one what the % of military service of neocons are? or are you just making this stuff up as you go?

c4: If you have any active duty soldiers in your circles, you would know that certain weaponry elicits much more fear than others, and is hardly the "nonsense" that you, in your ignorance, state it is.

sure, there is fear of being blown to bits by a IED, however there is also fear of a sniper's bullet, a stray mortar, a suicide bomber, to say that the IED is the weapon that inspires fear is NOT measurable...

c4 prejudges: You, as a cosseted civvie, think there is nothing intrinsically different between fighting hand to hand with knives, taking a bullet, being shelled, or being in a vehicle whose armor is burned through by IEDs. No doubt you would have counseled VC to "get over their undue fear of napalm or B-52 strikes" since it's just another way of dying like being in a firefight with the enemy and getting tagged by a mortar round.

No again, I am sure the fighters in wwII (and you are correct, i never served in that war) had incredible fear of phosphorus bombs.. but to say that an IED is supreme in fear is utter nonsense.. You fear what weapons the enemy has and uses...


nice that you skipped all over your "harvested" nonsense....

8/11/2005 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

The US has been developing ABM, ASAT, and space-borne weapons since the 50’s and this is good.

Not really. The ABM and ASAT programs are notorious for intermittent commitment even when it was well known that we were lagging behind the Soviets in this area. Not only did the Russians successfully demonstrate the proof-of-concept of a non-nuclear orbital system in 1968, but that this system was actually produced and deployed in numbers by 1976. By the fall of the Soviet Union that system had probably passed its design life. The Soviets played briefly with ground-based systems in the interim. For reference, the first successful non-nuclear American ASAT system, a small missile air-launched from an F-15 in vertical flight at high altitude, was first tested in 1983.

I have little doubt that there are ASAT payloads that we can launch in a pinch (I hope I’m right) at a moments notice.

I am not aware that the ASAT missile was produced in strategically useful numbers let alone a training program developed or air wing dedicated to their deployment.

If not, we should have them as well as any ABM capability that we can muster and I think that we should continue developing these technologies as aggressively as possible.

Yes, we should. This is exactly what I'm advocating. I agree with you on your other points about nuclear weapons in space; one of the first ABM/ASAT concepts was discarded because it utilized an atomic blast as its energy source, although the destructive implement was directed energy. The idea of orbiting atomic bombs was (and continues to be) a bit much. Although I do not yet see the need to deploy space-based nuclear weapons per se, I do advocate the eventual deployment of nuclear reactors- if ever one could fit into the payload envelope of a launch vehicle- on our permanently space-based manned and unmanned spacecraft.

8/11/2005 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Abu Mus’ab al-Suri and the Third Generation of Salafi-Jihadists:

The decimation of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in 1982 had many long-term implications, the most pernicious of which was the emergence of a particularly extreme form of Syrian Salafism. At the center of this is Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, better known as Abu Musab al-Suri (the Syrian), who is widely believed to be the most prolific al-Qaeda ideologue and trainer alive. Currently working closely with the Zarqawi network, and probably based in Iraq, Nasar also allegedly exercises operational control over several al-Qaeda linked networks in the West.

Abu Mus’ab al-Suri is the nom de guerre of Mustafa Abdul-Qadir Mustafa Hussein al-Sheikh Ahmed al-Mazeek al-Jakiri al-Rifa’ei whose family is known as “al-Set Mariam” after their grandmother. [1] He was born in Aleppo in 1958, where he studied mechanical engineering and is also known by the name of Omar Abdul-Hakeem.

After taking part in the war against the Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan, Nasar traveled to Spain and subsequently joined the embryonic al-Qaeda organization in 1992. [2] In due course Nasar left Spain for Britain and began associating with Algerian Islamic militants. According to some reports, Nasar attended the initial meetings which led to the creation of the Algerian al-Jama’a al Islamiyah al-Musaliha (Armed Islamic Group). Also in London, Nasar established a center called Conflicts of the Islamic World and it was reported that he had arranged – through that center – two interviews for CNN and the BBC with Osama Bin Laden.

An important feature of Nasar’s work revolves around what he terms the “third generation” of Salafi-Jihadists: “I believe that a new generation of Jihadists is born today in the post 9/11 climate, where Iraq is occupied and the Palestinian uprising has reached a climax, thus leaving it at a crossroads. We are at a juncture where the believers have exhausted all their resources, and the nation stands by as a spectator in relation to their sacrifices because of the compelling silence of the ulama, the oppression of its rulers, and the inability to retaliate.”

From a strategic perspective, Nasar offers interesting insights into the failure of what he calls the “Jihadist experience in Syria”. In short, the failure is attributed to a lack of strategy and planning, unified ideology, jihadist theory and weaknesses in informational and media groundwork. While Nasar does not offer any ready-made solutions to the jihadis in Syria and the wider Islamic movement in that country, it is clear that the inspiration he exercises over Iraq returnees, coupled with wider dynamics, could pose serious problems for the Syrian Ba’ath regime. Meanwhile, Mustafa Setmariam Nasar continues to educate, train and inspire jihadis the world over.

http://jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2369766

8/11/2005 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger luminary said...

Sounds interesting... this pulse wave device that uses a laser to create an eltrical path.
Being optical, how does it work in smoke or a sand storm?
Don’t get your hopes to hight on proprietory hardware.
"During the heat of the space race in the 1960's, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration decided it needed a ball point pen to write in the zero gravity confines of its space capsules. After considerable research and development, the Astronaut Pen was developed at a cost of about $1 million U.S. The pen worked and also enjoyed some modest success as a novelty item back here on Earth. The Soviet Union, faced with the same problem, used a pencil."

I use pencils.
Plus, Life is too short to drink cheap coffee, play crummy guitars and write with ballpoint pens.

Bayonet.

8/11/2005 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger Hanba'al said...

Unaha,

Granted that cutting their supply lines is always the main goal of any military commanders, desktop generals included, advance in technology will also turn the tide of the battle, boosting moral, changing the outlook of a war, as evidenced in WW2 Radar, Sonar techonlogy against surface ships, submarines and early warning/target of enemy fighters, bombers. If Japan also developed Radar, Sonar and used in abundance as in US Navy, it would be hard to go after their bases since their bases are not reachable by foot.

With respect to the current war, the enemy doesn't have a base within Iraq to research weaponry into high tech so their crude weapon might be ingenous to the innocents but relative crude to the known. Any RF engineer worth his salt could build a mobile jammer to jam all frequencies using by walkie talkies, cell phones within 20 feet or more, within a couple of weeks. In order to build more sophisticate weapons to elude some low level RF engineers' brute force mobile jammer, the enemy has be at very well advance in technology and I don't think that is impossible. Hence, it is the main theme of W's article.

The only way to make it possible for them to to continue having advance in weaponry is to have bases outside of Iraq, namely in Syria and Iran, mostly Iran because their engineers are well advance. This scenario will open another can of worm for both countries and it would be a very interesting outcome.

8/11/2005 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

A jewel for al-Qaida’s crown:

Washington sources have indicated in the past week that it might prove possible to reduce United States military deployments in Iraq, perhaps by 20,000 troops in early 2006. As with earlier such suggestions, the timing is singularly unfortunate, for the first ten days of August have been one of the most deadly periods for American forces since the war began in March 2003: forty-four troops have been killed and many more have sustained serious injuries.

A remarkable account of the current development of the Iraqi insurgency, by far the most detailed assessment to appear in the open defence literature, has been published in the Washington-based Defense News (Greg Grant, "Inside Iraqi Insurgent Cells", 1 August 2005 [subscription only]). It finds that an average of forty IEDs are currently being deployed each day in Iraq. The head of the US army's IED Defeat Task Force, Brigadier-General Joseph Votel, says: "The enemy is evolving and constantly innovating. If there were any thoughts that this is a rudimentary and unsophisticated enemy, those thoughts have been replaced."

The frequency and intensity of insurgent attacks, backed by this cellular organisation, indicates the depth of the problems facing United States and Iraqi security forces. It seems likely that a campaign on this scale must have significant community support across the large areas of central Iraq where the conflict is most endemic.

The combination of an increasingly effective insurgency and the use of innovative worldwide information distribution techniques must be seen in the context of the tough measures and heavy firepower that the US forces believe necessary to subdue the insurgency. The propaganda videos distributed by the insurgents make extensive use of the effects of US actions. As a result, the victims of American firepower and insurgent "successes" are circulating widely in sympathetic communities across the world in the attempt to garner support for the Iraqi insurgency and the wider campaigns of al-Qaida affiliates.

Indeed, Iraq – where more than 150,000 "crusader" troops are occupying the historic home of the Abbasid caliphate – is an absolute "gift" to Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and their comrades. Moreover, the insurgency is primarily an urban conflict that provides a training environment whose relevance to future "anti-elite" actions is greater than the largely rural civil war in Afghanistan a decade ago.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/insurgency_2747.jsp

8/11/2005 11:04:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

The only way to make it possible for them to to continue having advance in weaponry is to have bases outside of Iraq, namely in Syria and Iran, mostly Iran because their engineers are well advance. This scenario will open another can of worm for both countries and it would be a very interesting outcome.

Well anticipated. Nice.

http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1740872005

8/11/2005 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Islam’s Torture of Lebanon:

Frontpage Interview guest today is Brigitte Gabriel, a survivor of Islam's Jihad against Lebanese Christians. She is now an expert on the Middle East conflict who lectures nationally and internationally on the subject. She's the former news anchor of World News for Middle East television and the founder of AmericanCongressforTruth.com.

FP: First things first, tell us a bit about your background.

Gabriel: I was raised in the only Christian country in the Middle East, Lebanon.

FP: Can you expand a bit on some of the tragedy that befell your family? I am sorry that this is painful territory.

Gabriel: I lived 50 yards below the last military base left in the hands of the Christians. While attempting to bombard the military base their shells missed landing directly on my home bringing it down and burying me under the rebel. I was 10 years old.

FP: What is life like under the threat of Islamic terror?

Gabriel: We borrowed life one day at a time. After sleeping in cardboard boxes for a month that had been stored in the bomb shelter, thinking this will be over soon, we realized this situation is getting worse and worse.

FP: Discuss your intellectual journey about your view of Jews and Israelis, from what you were told in your childhood to when you started questioning whether it was true, to what you think today.

Gabriel: My town was 2 and half miles from the Israeli boarder. Israel agreed to help the Christians. The only reason we stayed alive is because Israel came into Lebanon and drove the Muslims away from the surrounding hills and set up positions in our town to protect us. The Muslims had one vision, to take control of the only Christian country in the Middle East and than attack Israel. By 1982 Israel was fed up with Syria’s repeated attacks on its northern boarder. During the first two days of the invasion as the Muslims were retreating they shelled us frantically. In their last artillery barrage, they scored a direct hit on the front of our bomb shelter. My mother was seriously wounded and would die without immediate medical attention. We had to take her to Israel for treatment. Before we left my father gave me $60 dollars in case I needed some money since we were going to Israel for treatment. The drive to the hospital inside Israel was an hour long. The driver was a middle-aged soldier. The ambulance ride is a free service from us to you. Keep your money, I wish everything goes well with you. I wish your mother, health, and speedy recovery.” I thanked him from the bottom of my heart and thought to myself: what an honest man!!! We went into the emergency room and I was shocked at such a scene. They took my mother to the 4th floor of the hospital and put her in a room with two other Lebanese ladies one Muslim and one Druze. While I was standing there, I felt someone tapping on my shoulder. I looked up to see a nurse standing next to me. She put her arm around me and looked into my face and said don’t worry we’ll take good care of her, everything will be fine.” I broke out crying, I never felt such compassion and love. When Israelis heard there were Lebanese wounded in the hospitals they came barring presents, they brought chocolates, they asked people what they wanted and what they needed. I became friends with Israeli mothers staying at the hospital with their wounded sons. One in particular Rina, her only child was wounded in his eyes. I thought: "What a contrast between her, a mother looking at her deformed 19 year old only child, and still able to love me the Arab, and between a Moslem mother who sends her son to blow himself up to smithereens just to kill a few Jews or Christians." The Moslem woman who was in the room with my mother stayed in the hospital for about 12 days. I had to go back to Lebanon because I had to take care of my parents but I vowed that one day I would return to Israel.

FP: What hope is there? I doubt that if the Palestinians get their own state that they will suddenly love the Jews and that the whole Islamic-Arab world will put anti-Semitism on the backburner. What do you think?

Gabriel: Israel is stepping out in “good faith” again to do whatever it takes to achieve peace with its neighbors.

FP: It is interesting that most people think of Hamas as an Israeli problem. Which it is of course. But it is also an American problem. And it will become a great American problem. Can you comment on this?

Gabriel: Many terrorist organizations have already set up shop here in America.

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=19016

8/12/2005 12:52:00 AM  
Blogger brdavis said...

Cedarford? Don't be silly.

The strategic military problem and issues within Iraq are minimal. Actually, there is NO way that AQ - or the Iraqi insurgency - can even be effective strategically. The game is ours alone.

C'mon, figure out (from context if nothing else), the correct use of "tactical" and "strategic". They mean something; they're not interchangeable rhetorical terms.

You might - incorrectly - argue about the strategic value of terror, but it's inane to argue that a minor weapons system like IED's has anything other than limited tactical value in extremely proscribed battlefield scenarios. Tsk.

And the ONLY reason IED's are even getting so much press is their usefulness by a leftist media emotionally and politically antithetical to any military venture (no matter how justified) by a Republican administration ...and who are intent on reinforcing their anti-war bias onto the polity: "if it bleeds, it leads" (unless its the effective kill ratios of US soldiery). But the polity is much less susceptible to such manipulation than it was during the Vietnam era. Leftists. Pah. Useful idiots.

To the military planners, IED's are a minor situational obstacle to overcome. Don't fall for the hype of press accounts.

The claim that IED's have "revolutionized the battlefield" is ahistorical nonsense. IEDs are simply another form of anti-personnel mine, which weapons type has a long and storied history ...no different conceptually from the pongi sticks of the Viet Cong, though with a different area effect, they are tactically useful in limited battle scenarios against individuals and small units (which describes the urban warfare of the Iraq theater), but useless in typical battlefield engagements where massed force will always win the field.

As for your statement about the GWOT ...well, I tend to agree. But that desultory philippic just highlights the inevitable political calculations that are STILL (50 years after Vietnam) trumping strategic operational realities in theater.

US politicians are execrable military strategists. Yes, including Bush. I understand why they feel they have to make the political calculations they're making ...but I don't have to like it.

And the almost inevitable - and unintended by the political mind - impression they leave on the enemy (and overly impressionable public, Cedarford) is that the battlefield difficulties the military is facing are enormous obstacles to victory.

Nonsense. Let the military solely determine effective rules of engagement in theater to their tactical goals, and a lot of the crap we're seeing would simply ...cease. The outcome in Afghanistan was not a fluke! But if they're forced to constantly bend in the wind to absurd political calculations ...well, they're fighting the war they're being given from Washington (not the one they could fight). Whaddaya expect. Oh they'll win anyways, but Washington is making it harder than it needs to be.

And as far as your casualty figures go: good Lord. We were bagging a few hundred bodies a week in 'Nam. And THOUSANDS during WW2. It's war ...soldiers - and people - die. The amazing thing here is not how many are dieing, but how few are. Every death is a tragedy ...a potential life not fulfilled on this plane ...but it's goofy to try and argue a military point about any war that's producing less casualties than the kill count on US freeways on a major holiday. Hollow rhetoric ....

Last. The expressed strategic goal of AQ is the religio-mystical vision of the establishment of the global Caliphate. That is not yer typical rebel insurgency scenario. The goal implies the ability to take on - and overcome - opponents at nation levels. To achieve that strategic vision will require enormous infrastructure resources.

Which they no longer have; the national structure they were using no longer exists. Potential national structures that they might co-opt would (will) face a similar fate. THAT is the strategic fact.

Not some paen to "assymetric war" (which is a term of a tactical battlefield scenario, not some kind of magically effective strategic superweapon). Hell, every war has some assymetries ...but to try and argue that anything other than Western methods is going to be more than temporarily effective tactically OR strategically is to ignore the lessons of 3,000 years of war-making.

8/12/2005 01:24:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Nice pic posted by Omar,
. Marines dining near Haditha

8/12/2005 03:19:00 AM  
Blogger al fin said...

The muslim terrorists know nothing about helping people live productive, creative, satisfying lives. Death is the strange attractor for the muslim terrorists. The greatest act of worship for the muslim terrorists would be a doomsday weapon that would destroy the entire world in one mighty explosion.


If Al Qaeda ever does gain complete rule over any muslim country, the IED will be utilized to good effect--by the enemies of AQ! The IED will certainly boomerang against its current ardent advocates.

8/12/2005 05:23:00 AM  
Blogger iotm said...

annoy mouse:

The invasion is over, we've been into occupation mode for awhile now. Occupations target the population, the invasion wipes out military resistance, the occupation is intended to wipe out civil resistance. The people fighting the US are the Iraqi people. They are heroes in the vein of other resistance fighters such as those who initiated the American revolution.

We should be applauding the efforts of any Iraqi who is willing to get out there and risk his/her life to try to kill some americans.

If some hypothetical nation were to invade the US and occupy it, would you be calling for total submission to the new occupying power? As much as I'd like to use this to prove a contradiction, I really do think that you, and most of the American people would be too placated to do anything, you would simply accept the destruction of your country and start pandering to the new authorities. This is the ultimate sign of weakness and shows how the notions of freedom and democracy are all but dead in the US.

It's interesting how the american people maintain such blatant contradictions in their thinking. Americans who fought against british repression in the war of independence were heroes, but when iraqis do the exact same thing they're terrorists. When American patriots at the boston tea party destroyed a bunch of private property in a symbolic protest they were heroes, when anti-neoliberalism protesters do it today, they're violent evil thugs simply out to cause trouble.

How do you reconcile the fact that the US was founded by people who today you would consider to be your worst enemies? I guess the utter lack of knowledge of history is beneficial to most americans in this regard.

8/12/2005 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger iotm said...

Aristides:

I'm not interested in argument, or is it that you can't respond to my arguments so your only recourse is to try to pretend I don't exist?

8/12/2005 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

brdavis wrote:

"Last. The expressed strategic goal of AQ is the religio-mystical vision of the establishment of the global Caliphate. That is not yer typical rebel insurgency scenario. The goal implies the ability to take on - and overcome - opponents at nation levels. To achieve that strategic vision will require enormous infrastructure resources."

Fighting AQ is but a small subset of the fighting going on in Iraq. The majority of the fight is against Iraqi's opposed to the US occupation. By mistakeningly identifying the enemy a major portion of your arguments become irrelevant.

8/12/2005 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

ied's vrs bullets

Bombs bad enough, but guns worse in Baghdad
Death toll from shootings soars in capital's streets

By Liz Sly
Tribune foreign correspondent
Published August 11, 2005

BAGHDAD -- July was a record month at Baghdad's main morgue, where the bodies pile up so fast they often have to be buried before they can be identified to make way for the next day's arrivals.

A total of 1,100 corpses were received in July, a sharp increase from the previous record of 879 in June, and far exceeding the morgue's 10-a-day capacity, according to its overworked director, Faed Bakr.

The figures exclude casualties from bombings, which are not taken for autopsy because the cause of death already is known. While car bombings and suicide attacks have garnered the most attention and have claimed thousands of lives in Iraq, shootings have accounted for thousands more civilian deaths since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.

At the morgue last month, more than 60 percent of the deaths--676, or more than 20 a day--came from shootings, in yet another indicator that overall violence in the world's most violent capital keeps getting worse, even as the U.S. military and the Iraqi government insist that the insurgency is being tamed.

"When you have this number of killings every day, when you have 676 people die from shooting in a month, you're talking about mass killing," Bakr said. "It's not civil war, but it's instability, and it's out of control."

It is impossible to attribute all the killings to the insurgency. The statistics include common murders as well as civilians killed by Iraqi security forces and American troops.

Many mutilated before death

But the rise in shootings coincides with surging reports of assassinations, drive-by shootings and unexplained killings. Many victims handled by the morgue were mutilated before they were killed, and almost all of them have been men, Bakr said.

The figures point to the only clearly discernible trend to the violence in Iraq's capital: It keeps getting worse. The patterns shift, the methods evolve, the tactics adjust and the nature of the killings changes month to month, but there has been no letup in the dying.

June was a peak month for beheadings, May was a record month for suicide bombings, and now assassinations and drive-by shootings are the trend. In recent weeks, politicians, government employees and religious leaders have been among the victims in what appears to be a coordinated campaign of assassinations.

Ten police officers were killed Tuesday in drive-by shootings. A Baghdad police captain was slain by gunmen Wednesday. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi has lost two of his aides and a bodyguard to shooting attacks in the past two weeks.

In July, three Sunnis involved in drafting the nation's new constitution were slain in a drive-by shooting and two aides to the top Shiite religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, were gunned down.

Measuring the impact of the violence on Iraqis always has been difficult. The U.S. military says it doesn't keep a tally of Iraqi casualties, and the Iraqi government generally refuses to release casualty totals, making it difficult to discern trends or even to estimate the total number of Iraqis being killed.

Two attempts to quantify the violence, by the UN's Development Program and by Iraq Body Count, a Web site, each came up with the figure of about 24,000 violent deaths in the two years after the invasion, or an average of 1,000 a month. The Brookings Institution's Iraq Index puts the number of victims of car bombings at 3,310 since May 2003.

In June, the Interior Ministry said 12,000 Iraqis had been killed nationwide by insurgents in the previous 18 months, but that figure excluded insurgents killed in military operations and civilians killed by American troops or Iraqi security forces.

The morgue's figures apply only to Baghdad, and there is no reason to believe that other cities are witnessing a parallel rise in violence. But the number of bodies received at Baghdad's morgue has risen steadily this year, from a low of 596 in March to July's 1,100. Last year the morgue received 8,035 bodies -- more than 60 percent of them gunshot victims -- but 2005 is on track to exceed that number.

Body count in Hussein's era

"In the days of Saddam, we had maybe 16 shootings a month," Bakr said. "Now we have more than that every day."

Just as disturbing, Bakr said, are the growing number of reports of mass killings, some of which appear to be motivated by sectarian hatred. The bound bodies of 20 abducted Shiites were found in western Baghdad last week, and a Shiite family of eight was slaughtered in their home last month, in two examples of killings that appeared to stem from the deepening hostility between Shiite and Sunni Muslims that has accompanied the transfer of power to a Shiite-majority government.

Sunnis also are being slain, and several leading Sunnis have accused the new government's security forces of responsibility for some of the killings.

Other deaths slip below the radar screen of the news reports, such as the Shiite street seller felled by a hail of bullets outside his home after defying a warning posted in a local market telling Shiites not to sell there. His killing was recounted last week by family members who asked to remain anonymous because they fear being targeted by the same gunmen.

"Nobody knows who's killing whom. Even the police don't know," Bakr said. "Everybody is vulnerable, and no part of the community is immune."

The increase in shootings coincided with a dip in the number of car bombings, according to the U.S. military, which took the unusual step this week of releasing statistics for the past three months to demonstrate that the effort to interdict the insurgent activities is working.

From a peak of 132 car bombings in May, 59 of which were suicide attacks, the number fell to 83 in July, 39 of them suicide bombings, the military said. In June there were 108 car bombings, 58 of them suicide attacks.

But U.S. officials warn the decline may represent only a lull as the insurgency gears up for the Aug. 15 deadline for the completion of the constitution and the Oct. 15 nationwide referendum on the charter.

Already, August is turning into one of the bloodiest months yet for U.S. forces in Iraq, with 38 deaths reported so far. The deadliest month for U.S. troops was November 2004, with 137 deaths.

8/12/2005 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

If the U.S. were to dip into its nuclear arsenal occasionally, we would be delivered from ruminations about "asymmetrical warfare." Asymmetrical warfare has a purely moral existence; you must already be decent to think it's real and to think it's a problem.

8/12/2005 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger brdavis said...

Fighting AQ is but a small subset of the fighting going on in Iraq. The majority of the fight is against Iraqi's opposed to the US occupation. By mistakeningly identifying the enemy a major portion of your arguments become irrelevant.

Ash? That is a simply an absurd argument to try and make.

Do at least try and follow the thread of a point being made son. I was discussing observations on the strategic value of IED's as weapons systems. To the scope of which the theater's actual mix of participants has little relevancy.

The mention of AQ and the GWOT was an aside ...although it was a relevant minor detour. But it is extremely unserious - an outright error - to aver that in any discussion of OIF, there is no strategic element of the GWOT. Or our response to same.

Next. You have a nomenclature problem. Stating that we're fighting "the Iraqi's" is simply inaccurate, and isn't remotely descriptive of the scope of the insurgency.

We're not fighting "the Iraqi's" ...the insurgency is primarily composed of Ba'athist remnant elements of the Sadaam regime, which is a very minor political subset of the Sunni's, whom themselves number only 20% of Iraq's overall population. (With an unknown - probably minor, although one wonders, as they seem to be the focus of much of the US effort along the Euphrates - percentage within the actual insurgency of Syrian and Iranian agents provocateurs ...whose primary importance is likely logistical.)

The vast majority of the remaining 80% of the indigenous population of Iraq (the Shiites and Kurds), are quite pleased to have us there (granted, with the caveat that our welcome is only so long as they remain reasonably assured that we'll leave once the new national infrastructure is able to adequately handle internal problems on its own). Indeed, to "the Iraqi's", the greater fear right now is of a precipitous US exit from the country.

You are correct (your sole valid observation) that the mix of fighting is primarily locally grown insurgents, and jihadists are a minor numerical element of unit encounters as a percentage of the ongoing conflict. (Which is however, extraneous to a discursion of the strategic value of a weapons system).

8/12/2005 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

BrDavis -To the military planners, IED's are a minor situational obstacle to overcome. Don't fall for the hype of press accounts.

Unless you are talking about the same planners that drafted the postwar plan....I don't give any credence to that. Because the IED not only dominated the hearings and sucked up all resources intended on other things at the outset - it changed the entire frontline deployment strategy and caused major alterations in logistics. Talking to Army troops that were there in 2003 and back again in 2004-early 2005, they say the 2nd tour was a completely different, more threatening and stressful Iraq for them than the 1st tour.

(IEDs)but useless in typical battlefield engagements where massed force will always win the field.

Well, duh!

That's why the insurgents are fighting assymetrically. And have tied down half of our military. And prevented our military and civilian reconstruction force from much contact within the Sunni Triangle and eaten up half of the reconstruction budget on IED security for contractors.

But you are right. If we line up our high tech military on one side of a battlefield and have the entire opfor on the other side armed with only IEDs, start the battle....well, Bush can confidently fly out to an aircraft carrier and say "Mission Accomplished". Pity the enemy won't fight the way you want them to.

impression they leave on the enemy (and overly impressionable public, Cedarford) is that the battlefield difficulties the military is facing are enormous obstacles to victory.

Well, yeah. I consider the fact that the US is now out 240 billion, soon to exceed Vietnam and become our 3rd most expensive war and even the Shia looking forward to the day they are rid of the American occupier a sign that we face enormous obstacles to victory. And what "victory" we decide to declare will be far short of the Israel-loving, liberal Western democracy the fucking neocons swore was "a cakewalk" two years ago.

The expressed strategic goal of AQ is the religio-mystical vision of the establishment of the global Caliphate. That is not yer typical rebel insurgency scenario. The goal implies the ability to take on - and overcome - opponents at nation levels. To achieve that strategic vision will require enormous infrastructure resources.

Nonsense. You don't even know who the enemy is in Iraq. The insurgency is not "foreign evildoers" as the neocons foolishly say. It's 95% Sunni Iraqis.

But for the record, you should listen to what bin Laden said was his strategy. It is that his fighting style does not require enormous infrastructure resources, but fighting his forces will. And his goal is not to kill the infidel, but bleed them of money like the Mujahadeen did the Soviets until they withdraw and amend policies. Their key strategic weapon is the IED - be it the 4 used on 9/11 that bled the enemy of 120 billion for a 700,000 investment or the 9 billion invested by AQ or the Saddamites that has caused US spending of 240 billion and our Coalition of the willing spending 42 billion.

The 6 Madrid IEDs, at a cost of 70,000 dollars and 17 Jihadis - won AQ an election and got Spain to withdraw from Iraq.

Saying that IEDs have no strategic use and insurgents cannot affect the outcome of real war makes you appear silly. You sound like a Vietnam general touting his new wonder weapons and the weekly body count.

8/12/2005 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger iotm said...

brdavis:

Still with the ba'athists eh?

So people like oh say Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite, is a Ba'athist?

If the resistance is made up of primarily ba'athists as you say, then it turns out Saddam Hussein had the support of pretty much everyone in Iraq, even the Shiites who the US says he was repressing. Thus they overthrew a popular president. Oh wait, that's a giant contradiction!

game,set,match.

8/12/2005 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger brdavis said...

Sigh.

Cedarford, do you find it even slightly embarassing to have posted this interrogatory:
"You don't even know who the enemy is in Iraq."

...and responded to your rhetoric with this:
"The insurgency is not 'foreign evildoers' as the neocons foolishly say. It's 95% Sunni Iraqis."

...when I've posted this:
"...the insurgency is primarily composed of Ba'athist remnant elements of the Sadaam regime, which is a very minor political subset of the Sunni's, whom themselves number only 20% of Iraq's overall population. (With an unknown - probably minor, although one wonders, as they seem to be the focus of much of the US effort along the Euphrates - percentage within the actual insurgency of Syrian and Iranian agents provocateurs ...whose primary importance is likely logistical." ...in the immediately preceding post?

And this: "...It is that his fighting style does not require enormous infrastructure resources, but fighting his forces will. And his goal is not to kill the infidel, but bleed them of money like the Mujahadeen did the Soviets until they withdraw and amend policies. Their key strategic weapon is the IED ...."

I (again, previously) anticipated you with this:
"......but to try and argue that anything other than Western methods is going to be more than temporarily effective tactically OR strategically is to ignore the lessons of 3,000 years of war-making."

To which I will add: a restatement by OBL of a school of war-making that predates the Prophet Mohammad himself (founded within the raiding practices of his ancestral desert Bedouian predecessors), doesn't exactly fill me with, er, terror.

Because if AQ wants to revisit a school of war that frickin' Alexander obsoleted (and, ironically, in the same country that our current efforts are directed at, some 2700 years later), and you wish to tremulously repeat their error (while ignoring the US as the primary participant of logistical support that resulted in the defeat of the Soviets' foray into Afghanistan), who am I to deter their - and your - folly?

One of us is reading old history books, old man. Or, as seems more likely, misreading them.

As for this "...You sound like a Vietnam general touting his new wonder weapons and the weekly body count." - and although you obviously didn't mean it in a complimentary fashion - I sincerely thank you, undeserving as I am, and as backhanded and unintentional as the compliment was.

Life is good.

8/12/2005 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger brdavis said...

iotm ...I draw your attention to a previous post (and quoted in my response to Cedarford) declaiming the presence of elements of Iranian agents provocateurs in the insurgency.

For you to have somehow overlooked the voluminous online references to the obvious connection between Sad'r and the mullahs bespeaks an astonishing depth of self-delusion.

And as for allusions to "game - set - match" ...professionals don't play games with netkeepers ...it's demeaning to the staff, and dull for the players.

I see that the thread is dieing.

Tah.

8/12/2005 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger ColonelJim said...

I applaud the vigorous dialog of almost every Belmost Club post and the level of knowledge displayed by many.

However, and I think this opinion is shared by some in this thread, this obsession with treating the destruction of a truck or an amphib as the Iraqi equivalent of Stalingrad is absurd.

If the enemy has the power to destroy an armored HUMVEE or an amphib or a Bradley or even an M-1, and on a given day does so, this is the nature of war - it is not a turning point or much worthy of mention except that American lives are lost - but I suspect that the number of Americans killed in vehicles by six packs of beer is a much greater threat than the IED. It is not equivalent to a submarine - which cost thousands of lives and almost cut Britain off in two wars, with potentially catastrophic consequences; it is not the heavy bomber and it is certainly not the main battle tank - which despite what Marshal Suvorov said, seems to be a pretty effective piece of gear in many scenarios - see Mogadishu as well as Bagdad.

When we determine we are winnng or losing by the destruction of a vehicle or two during a week; then I fear that the Islamacist belief that we cannot take it is correct. We are clearly winning - attacks are down; enemy casualties are up; suicide attacks in major cities have declined; intelligences improves, the attack is being taken to the enemy.

So when a team of Marines gets ambushed or they blow a mine under a vehicle, however painful it is for the families involved, it is not a defeat, it is a minor skirmish in a war that is being won.

The only thing that gives these events such grossly exagerated importance is the constant obsessing over the seemingly obvious fact that we are still fighting an enemy that wants to kill us and sometimes he does.

That is the cost of war and by any historic standard, it is quite low especially for the stakes involved.

So, get a grip.

Crinean
COL(R), IN

8/12/2005 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger ColonelJim said...

I applaud the vigorous dialog of almost every Belmost Club post and the level of knowledge displayed by many.

However, and I think this opinion is shared by some in this thread, this obsession with treating the destruction of a truck or an amphib as the Iraqi equivalent of Stalingrad is absurd.

If the enemy has the power to destroy an armored HUMVEE or an amphib or a Bradley or even an M-1, and on a given day does so, this is the nature of war - it is not a turning point or much worthy of mention except that American lives are lost - but I suspect that the number of Americans killed in vehicles by six packs of beer is a much greater threat than the IED. It is not equivalent to a submarine - which cost thousands of lives and almost cut Britain off in two wars, with potentially catastrophic consequences; it is not the heavy bomber and it is certainly not the main battle tank - which despite what Marshal Suvorov said, seems to be a pretty effective piece of gear in many scenarios - see Mogadishu as well as Bagdad.

When we determine we are winnng or losing by the destruction of a vehicle or two during a week; then I fear that the Islamacist belief that we cannot take it is correct. We are clearly winning - attacks are down; enemy casualties are up; suicide attacks in major cities have declined; intelligences improves, the attack is being taken to the enemy.

So when a team of Marines gets ambushed or they blow a mine under a vehicle, however painful it is for the families involved, it is not a defeat, it is a minor skirmish in a war that is being won.

The only thing that gives these events such grossly exagerated importance is the constant obsessing over the seemingly obvious fact that we are still fighting an enemy that wants to kill us and sometimes he does.

That is the cost of war and by any historic standard, it is quite low especially for the stakes involved.

So, get a grip.

Crinean
COL(R), IN

8/12/2005 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

c4: Well, yeah. I consider the fact that the US is now out 240 billion, soon to exceed Vietnam and become our 3rd most expensive war

and yet you say the 3 billion spent on israel is 50% of our foreign aid...which is it? How much of that 240 is actually war expense and how much is for rebuilding roads, schools, power lines (nation building) or as I like to call it... AID

8/12/2005 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

ash,

America has been occuping Germany for 60+ years.

Do you think occupation is a root cause?

Or perhaps the root cause is the acquisition of power in the usual Middle Eastern way.

8/12/2005 11:58:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

M.Simeon: Concur Yr Analysis!

To try and discuss Islamo-fascism divorced of an understanding (or at least a STUDY) of the 'religious' roots, aspects and ideological impact, is much akin to doing dentistry after studiously poring over plumbing handbooks!

Interesting, but not really conducive to oral health!

8/13/2005 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger Abakan said...

While IED's, assinations, and suicide bombers continue to plague Iraq there remains a troublesome constant.

The political machine carefully built continues a process which will determine victory in Iraq.

The TECH is what makes us adaptable and persistant. It forces the enemy to change or die.

However, in Iraq, the primary weapon against the insurgency is a stable government in Iraq that is allied with or neutral to the US and our allies.

It is the measure for our Victory and the insurgencies Defeat.

8/14/2005 12:26:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Abakan,

Popular self government is always the #1 weapon against an insurgency.

8/14/2005 04:27:00 AM  
Blogger Minstrel Boy said...

It costs $150 to buy an IED on the blackmarket in Iraq and about as much to have it placed and detonated. There is a bonus if there are casualties.

Compare that to the cost of countering this weapon. An armored humvee M1114 costs $225K delivered to Iraq. An ASV approximately $800K. A bomb disposal robot $140K delivered.

When Osama said it would cost us 1000 times as much to counter their efforts, he was being modest. The IED may not kill us, but the cost of countering it might in the end.

8/14/2005 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger Red A said...

Minstrel Boy,

How many IEDs at that price do they need to get a result?

That price is probably for a 155mm shell, not a 500 lb bomb or the newer ones. Also, the larger size bomb requires more people to handle...could be a sign of their strenth, but obviously a weakness in terms of deploying.

Also, most of our armor costs is due to the fact we want to protect our soldiers...

8/15/2005 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger brdavis said...

Crinean (one of the more useful voices in this thread), has blogged on the up-armoring issue from the informed perspective of an infantry officer (US Army, retired) in an article - The Myth of the Indestructible Army Vehicle - on his blog The Carolingian Conservative (clever blogname) ...well worth reading.

8/16/2005 01:17:00 AM  
Blogger Michael Hammerschlag said...

The reason we have to deal with this endless danger of hundreds of thousands of tons of heavy ordinance is that NOBODY SECURED OR DESTROYED them as we conquered country, due to Rummy's and Frank's lack of planning, foresight, and sanity. First rule of occupation: "Take Away the Weapons". By my calculations, the insurgents stole enough ordinance to detonate 20 500 lb. IED's a day for 328 years.

8/22/2005 03:27:00 AM  
Blogger Granite Sentry said...

Comment to Michael Hammerschlags blog: "Rummy's and Frank's lack of planning, foresight, and sanity. First rule of occupation: "Take Away the Weapons". By my calculations, the insurgents stole enough ordinance to detonate 20 500 lb. IED's a day for 328 years."

...You're real good in playing armchair SECDEF or General of the Armies. Just at any captured base in IRAQ, there are hundredths-thousanths millions of pounds of conviscated weapons and bombs. Munitions in IRAQ have everyones name on them...Mother Russia, China, Iran, Syria...and any other bad dude/folks that the enemy is buds with. Hundreds-thousands of millions of munitions are still out there. They have been stockpiling for decades....underground, in churchs, mosques, hospitals, farms. We destroy tens of thousands of pounds a day in Iraq. I was there and know first hand. I talked to the EOD experts and the securtiy forces who beat down doors, looking/following up on their kazillionth intel lead. Not as easy as it looks, bro. You know munitions are out there but you can't plan 100% for something you can't see...The iceberg that stuck the Titanic didn't look too big from the surface up. That sucker had alot more mass than they thought. First rule of ocupation was a lot simpler back in the middle ages, Napolean's day, Revolutionary or Civil War times. This age is much different.

11/05/2005 03:31:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger