Presentation at the Fourth Rail
An earlier post remarked that the US was employing a "headhunting" strategy in contrast to the enemy plan of 'killing whoever you can'. This is graphically illustrated by Bill Roggio's Flash summary of operations along the Euphrates and in the Mosul area. It is an absolutely brilliant animated presentation that lets you see for yourself the many closely spaced ops that switch between the Syrian border on the Euphrates to the infiltration channel debouching on Mosul. There are pinpoint, but devastating operations against leadership targets and operations, like Tal-Afar, which are wider body blows to the infantry strength and logistical base of the insurgency. It resembles nothing more than the up and down, left and right flurries delivered by Sugar Ray Leonard in his heyday.
If you watch the presentation, you'll see that the Marine operations against the Syrian border towns on the Euphrates are in the nature of exploitation and pursuit. They consist of a string of precision attacks against insurgent leadership targets taking out two or three dozen at a time, occasionally interspersed by precision strike and infantry attacks against towns in the middle of the Euphrates line. These are probably consequent to Marine infantry operations undertaken earlier in the year -- the earlier body punching. The Battle for the Border post noted that the US had set up logistical bases and river crossings that would enable them to pursue targets on both sides of the Euphrates. At that time, I wrote "the whole point of strangling the enemy lines of communication while building support bases is to set up the stage for pursuit. And they will be pursued."
From the other side -- the Tigris/Mosul river line -- the US Army is doing the same thing. The battles for Mosul and Tal-Afar, like the earlier Marine infantry operations along the Euphrates, are geared at displacing enemy combatants and disrupting their bases. With Iraqi troops coming on line to keep insurgents from regrouping in other towns, the enemy is now similarly ripe for pursuit. The raids against specific targets on the Tigris-Mosul line by the Army may be the beginning of exploitation operations there. Whether the Army and the Marines will succeed or the insurgents can survive this pounding will be revealed in the coming weeks.
The news coverage of Iraq frequently fails to convey the cumulative linkage of military events in that country. Operations are often reported in a disconnected fashion, as if some operations officer got up in the morning and asked 'what are we going to attack today?', and then troops rush out to do whatever just occurred to them. Worse, definite types of military operations on both sides, whether car bombing, cordon and search, precision strike, etc. are often described according to some political theme -- 'standing up for freedom', 'deepening quagmire', 'the body bags mount', 'reduced to high altitude bombing' -- and the reader gets no sense of the logic behind the events. Both the US Armed Forces and the enemy are led by experienced professionals schooled in the operational art; and if we can be sure of nothing else, we can be certain that their acts have a specific military intent which often does not correspond to the themes articulated by some talking heads. Whether one is on the Left or the Right, it should be abundantly clear that we are watching the battle for the Syrian border and for the control of the Euphrates and Tigris river lines. No matter whose side you're on, you should know what game you are in.