Saturday, March 18, 2006

In Plain View

More on Operation Swarmer.

From the AP:

Troops rounded up dozens more suspected insurgents today, including the alleged killers of an Iraqi television journalist. ... Also, police there say they have captured a Sunni extremist who confessed to leading a gang that killed hundreds of Shiites in recent months.

Washington Post, Fighting Smarter in Iraq

Three years on, the U.S. military is finally becoming adept at fighting a counterinsurgency war in Iraq. Sadly, these are precisely the skills that should have been mastered before America launched its invasion in March 2003. It may prove one of the costliest lessons in the history of modern warfare.

I had a chance to see the new counterinsurgency doctrine in practice here this week. U.S. troops are handing off to the Iraqi army a growing share of the security burden. As the Iraqis step up, the Americans are stepping back into a training and advisory role. This is the way it should have happened from the beginning.

ABC News: US says raid shows Iraqi army taking control   

The U.S. military said on Friday a joint U.S.-Iraqi offensive marked a change in the fight against guerillas, showing Iraq's army was becoming increasingly effective and taking more control. U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq hinge on the capability of the Iraqi army, disbanded by U.S. authorities in 2003 and now being rapidly rebuilt, in the face of a raging insurgency and a surge in sectarian killings.

BBC: How US assault grabbed global attention

In what was clearly a combing operation using cordon-and-search tactics in a patch of remote desert terrain with scattered farms and homesteads, military spokesmen said the advancing forces uncovered six caches containing arms, explosives and other insurgent material. They detained 48 people, of whom 17 were freed without delay. Officials said they did not believe they had captured any significant insurgent leaders. "Any leaders there must have seen the forces coming, and escaped," said one senior Iraqi security source.

Commentary

The US is not "finally becoming adept" at fighting in Iraq so much as reaping the result of a two pronged strategy. First, building up indigenous and de-Baathized forces (with a large Shi'ite and Kurdish component) and second, destroying the infrastructure of the insurgency. The extent of the Iraqi troop buildup can be seen in the CENTCOM 2006 posture statement.

The most significant change in terms of troop levels in 2005 was the number of trained and equipped Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). In January 2005, there were 127,000 total Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior security forces, or 78 battalions. About a year later, there were approximately 231,000 combined security forces constituting more than 160 battalions. More important, these increasingly capable Iraqi forces are assuming greater responsibility for combating the insurgency. ...

This past year, U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq focused on: training, building, and conducting operations with capable Iraqi security forces; providing the shield behind which political and economic progress can continue and legitimate government institutions can form and take root; and killing and capturing terrorists and neutralizing the insurgency.

The campaign contained a significant political component as well. Again, from the CENTCOM 2006 posture statement.

The political component is decisive. ... The political accomplishments of the Iraqi people during 2005 were remarkable. Iraqi citizens, by the millions, braved threats of violence to vote for an interim government in January 2005. These elected representatives formed an interim government and ministries, and crafted a constitution, which was approved by the Iraqi people in a national referendum. Then in December over 10 million Iraqis voted again to elect a permanent government. All of these political milestones were set out in the Transitional Administrative Law, demonstrating that the rule of law is beginning to take hold in Iraq. When compared to our own political experience in forming a new republic, Iraq’s political progress in 2005 is impressive.

Just how impressive the bumbling, unsophisticated effort in Iraq is will be evident when compared to the decades-long failure to create a working Palestinian Authority, which till now has no effective and reliable security forces and only a desultory form of "government" despite the efforts of far the more legitimate, understanding and capable United Nations and the sophisticated European Union.

In retrospect three of the decisive weapons of victory in Iraq will have been the 190 military transition teams which raised the new Iraqi Army, the Transitional Administrative Law which made a new coalition government possible, and the US Armed Forces itself, which held up the shield behind which the training and political components could take shape. It now seems fairly clear that many of the 'far better' strategies which were suggested in 2004 and 2005 in place of CENTCOM's may not have been as good as they were made out to be. There were many calls for more American troops on the ground, up to 400,000 men. There were even calls for a return to the draft to rescue a "broken army". It had been suggested that it was a "mistake" to fire the old Saddamite Army, which alone could maintain control, or so it was said. In the end, CENTCOM's strategy did not prove so amateurish after all. If the public has ever heard of the MTTs, the political transition process or the River War it will not be the result of their concealment. These three decisive weapons were lying in plain view from the end 2004 onwards though their significance had not been noted -- their existence hardly even acknowledged -- by the Press even until now. Ironically, this may have contributed to overall success. The enemy in reading the leading newspapers of the West remained ignorant of the doom descending upon their heads, confirmed in their eventual victory even as catastrophe overwhelmed them. Thank you MSM.

28 Comments:

Blogger khr128 said...

WaPo: Sadly, these are precisely the skills that should have been mastered before America launched its invasion in March 2003.

One of the most moronic statements ever produced by a BDS afflicted "journalist". In 2003 it was impossible to come up with a way to anticipate what skills will be needed right after victory, let alone what would work 3 years later.

W. is right. These are the results of the flexible strategy that was developed on the ground taking into account the actual situation.
The outcome of this war is not clear, but it is clear that MSM and Democrats were wrong about this war, they are not on our side at all.

I hope it will cost them dearly.

3/18/2006 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger ib1netmon said...

WaPo: "It may prove one of the costliest lessons in the history of modern warfare."

I guess the Washington Post never heard of Operation Tiger, a training mission in WWII where over 900 men were lost in a single day, mostly due to friendly fire.

By the standards of WWII, Korea, or Vietnam, Iraq isn't even a WAR. Not that the loss of even a single serviceman is acceptable, but that statement is like comparing an inflamed cuticle with an high amputation.

3/18/2006 10:44:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

No matter what it costs them, it won't be enough. They're trying to destroy the future of civilization, and for no good reasson other than to show that they can.

3/18/2006 10:46:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

WaPo: "It may prove one of the costliest lessons in the history of modern warfare."

Taking Monday morning quarterbacking to a new, almost ethereal level.

Without a trace of self-irony.

Jamie Irons

3/18/2006 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

When will the MSN honestly admit they have morphed into "opinion journals" and no longer make any attempt to honestly print the news?

Wave goodbye to the WaPo, folks. The beginning of the end began over eight years ago, and the middle of the end is now in sight.

Adieu, farewell, good riddance!

3/19/2006 12:04:00 AM  
Blogger Milan Oskoryp Sr. said...

49erdweet.

Never.

3/19/2006 12:25:00 AM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

wretchard:

The enemy in reading the leading newspapers of the West remained ignorant of the doom descending upon their heads, confirmed in their eventual victory even as catastrophe overwhelmed them. Thank you MSM.

Maybe Rummy planned on hostile media and incorporated them into his deception plan.

3/19/2006 03:26:00 AM  
Blogger Starling David Hunter said...

"Well, there's still Iran and North Korea, don't forget. There's still hope for the rest of us (Democrats) ... There's always hope that this (bringing democracy to the Middle East) might not work."

- Nancy Soderberg, former Clinton National Security Council member Nancy Soderberg discussed the recent outbreak of democracy in the Middle East with "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart. [March 2005]

3/19/2006 04:21:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Just how impressive the bumbling, unsophisticated effort in Iraq is will be evident when compared to the decades-long failure to create a working Palestinian Authority, which till now has no effective and reliable security forces and only a desultory form of "government" despite the efforts of far the more legitimate, understanding and capable United Nations and the sophisticated European Union.

The difference is of course, the "palestinians" are not a real people, they are a false construct, no matter how much the EU wanted to create a new arab people to counter the jews the palestinians are not real, they are just a gang of cut throats on the drug of free money and no accountabity, the truth? the palestinians are nothing, they have no real history, they create nothing, they are nothing but a construct of UN/UNRWA & the arab league.

Now all the pseudo creation of a "people" is happening in gaza.... It will fester and and birth it's self as it's creators want... A West hating, jew hating, self hating murderous gang of insane islamic facists.

3/19/2006 04:31:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

(gasp! pant!)
If there is ANY way to twist this with innuendo, sharpening, flattening or by altering the order, quality or extent of my 'reporting', I'LL DO IT!

3/19/2006 05:00:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Not ME, Gang, that was /sarc

3/19/2006 05:04:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

I suppose someone has already noticed that the name "Operation Swarmer" was last used in a large, helicopter-borne assault exercise - in North Carolina, in 1950 So, I suppose Desert Rat was correct early on when he said this was an exercise, primarily.

What if President Bush, before the invasion, had gone before the American people to prepare them for the long war, saying:

I've listened carefully, as people and leaders around the world have made known their desire for peace. All of us want peace. The threat to peace does not come from those who seek to enforce the just demands of the civilized world; the threat to peace comes from those who flout those demands. If we have to act, we will act to restrain the violent, and defend the cause of peace. And by acting, we will signal to outlaw regimes that in this new century, the boundaries of civilized behavior will be respected. (Applause.)

Protecting those boundaries carries a cost. If war is forced upon us by Iraq's refusal to disarm, we will meet an enemy who hides his military forces behind civilians, who has terrible weapons, who is capable of any crime. The dangers are real, as our soldiers, and sailors, airmen, and Marines fully understand. Yet, no military has ever been better prepared to meet these challenges.

Members of our Armed Forces also understand why they may be called to fight. They know that retreat before a dictator guarantees even greater sacrifices in the future. They know that America's cause is right and just: liberty for an oppressed people, and security for the American people. And I know something about these men and women who wear our uniform: they will complete every mission they are given with skill, and honor, and courage. (Applause.)

Much is asked of America in this year 2003. The work ahead is demanding. It will be difficult to help freedom take hold in a country that has known three decades of dictatorship, secret police, internal divisions, and war. It will be difficult to cultivate liberty and peace in the Middle East, after so many generations of strife. Yet, the security of our nation and the hope of millions depend on us, and Americans do not turn away from duties because they are hard. We have met great tests in other times, and we will meet the tests of our time. (Applause.)


President Discusses the Future of Iraq, February 26, 2003

3/19/2006 05:21:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

The Pentagon has been compared to a log floating down the Potomac River, subject only to the vagaries of the wind and the current, as the 25,000 ants aboard yell directions, each convinced that he is influencing the direction of travel.

As harsh - and as often true - as that characterization is, one must realize that in the conventional wisdom there are a hundred times as many ants - and the log is sitting on dry land.

And as for the MSM, there is not even a log....

3/19/2006 05:26:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

RWE!
ROFLMAO!

What a great metaphor!

And after all, what's a meta for?

Explanations!

3/19/2006 05:52:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Thank you MSM.

But, sadly, no thanks to Representative Murtha, who just now was on Meet The Press telling us once again how Iraq was Vietnam revisited, that U.S. influence was on the wane as a result of our military bungling, that we could not, would not--probably should not--win this battle for the hearts and minds of a people whose hopes and desires for a better life we've kindled to the point of a self-sustaining fire.

No, we should, "redeploy" our forces as quickly as possible and forget what it means to be men and women worthy even of our own respect.

3/19/2006 07:05:00 AM  
Blogger james wilson said...

The histoy of warfare reveals less of mastered skills than the incompetence of pride. The solution is to suffer the consequences and change, if you are good enough. The American Civil War and our involvemnet in WW11 showed little but the early shorcomings in officers and politicians. Rumsfield clearly knew this when he made flexibility key in the war and the occupation. The Iraq War is not a means unto itself. It is a developing template for The Long War. We are learning, we are changing, we are assesing,we are building. Well, some of us are.

3/19/2006 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger Bob Stone said...

I just sent the following to Ignatius...

As my father often told me, the beagle "woulda" caught the rabbit if it hadn't stopped to take a dump. Coulda, woulda, shoulda…

"costiest lessons in the history of modern warfare"??? Give us a break.

The U.S. military has done a masterful job in Iraq. They are fighting faceless cowards who tend to blow up themselves in the name of some violent religion. Give the professional soldier his due. Come home.

3/19/2006 07:33:00 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Iraq will have been won and becoming an operational, stable democracy long before the Western MSM becomes objectively fair.

3/19/2006 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Iraq will have been won and becoming an operational, stable democracy long before the Western MSM becomes objectively fair.

Iraq will have astronauts on the space station, win nobel prizes and still the palestinians will worship death and destruction and the MSM will call arafat a moderate

3/19/2006 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

I found these two paragraphs from the Ignatius column interesting:

The town of Abu Ghraib, just west of Baghdad, faced a similar test after Samarra. The area is almost entirely Sunni; the Iraqi army unit that has responsibility there is largely Shiite. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, but the Iraqi brigade commander, a feisty Shiite from southern Iraq named Gen. Aziz, is making it work. After the Samarra explosion, Aziz told me, he convened a meeting with local tribal and religious leaders.

"I am responsible for your safety," he admonished them. "The law should protect us all. There are no militias in this area." He told the local leaders they could protect their homes and mosques, but if he found anyone carrying weapons on the streets, he would kill him. The message seemed to work. A fiery local Sunni imam told his worshipers last Friday they should try to live with their neighbors.


No militias. Violators to be shot on sight.

How long before that policy is applied to, say, Sadr City?

3/19/2006 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Bruce said...

Sadly, these are precisely the skills that should have been mastered before America launched its invasion in March 2003. It may prove one of the costliest lessons in the history of modern warfare.

Sorry to repeat the same thing, but I found this to be insulting. Insulting to me, insulting to those who died during the mistakes made in WWI and WWII, and insulting to the profession of journalism.

3/19/2006 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Steve White said...

As the Iraqis step up, the Americans are stepping back into a training and advisory role. This is the way it should have happened from the beginning.

This point can't be hammered too often. In 2003 there was no way for us to be 'trainers and advisors', for there were far too few people to train and advise. The Iraqi Army had disintegrated, and what Army there was was run by officers (mostly Sunni) more interested in their own welfare than that of their men. Were we supposed to 'train and advise' the Republican Guards? Not hardly.

This once again demonstrates how a lack of basic military understanding, by journalists who have never served, hampers their understanding. Anyone who has gone through basic training and AIT understands that armies, police officers, border guards, etc. aren't created in a day. One can snipe at the bungling and disorganization of the CPA, but once it became clear that the Iraqi Army couldn't be reconstituted, it was going to take at least two years to get to where we are today.

It's very unfortunate that WaPo, NYT, etc. refuse to be educated on these basic points.

3/19/2006 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/19/2006 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

"It had been suggested that it was a "mistake" to fire the old Saddamite
Army, which alone could maintain control, or so it was said."

Saddam's Delusions: The View from the Inside by Kevin Woods, James Lacey, and Williamson Murray From Foreign Affairs, May/June 2006


Go read the article linked above right now. RTWT. I will wait for you to finish.

Done?

Good.

The article makes it clear that Saddam's Army was a wreckage.

Completely useless. We could not have used it if we had wanted to.

3/19/2006 10:12:00 PM  
Blogger skipsailing said...

It's all about expectations. the press expects to have the last word, be the final arbiter.

Sadly, they have confused skepticism with cynicism. They are convinced that everyone is lying to them. Thus the insulting questions aimed at public figures. Just recall the public meltdown over the cheney accident. The press lost their chance to have the last word and they lost their chance to ask rude and insulting questions. so they went on a tirade.

It should have been embarassing, but these guys have no self control.

finally the snide comments contained in the Ignatius piece is IMHO simply a smokescreen. he was forced to say something positive about people he hates, so he's got to add window dressing lest he be set upon by the running dogs of the world wide left.

3/20/2006 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger Mearcstapa said...

Juan Cole saying reasonable things?! Something's happening here.

3/20/2006 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger A Dilettante said...

So often Conservatives blame the MSM for undermining the war, but here we have just the latest example of the anti-military and anti-Bush media actually abetting Bush's war on terror. There are several other instances. For instance, given the Western hysteria about Guantanimo, military interrogators have "cracked" some detainees by threatening to send them there. Another is the negative reporting that claimed that we would get bogged down in urban warfare on the way to Bagdad. Saddam swallowed this hook, line, and sinker, we now know. We have this negative reporting to thank for why Saddam didn't torch his oil fields or blow up the dams. Thanks again, MSM!

For documentation of this last assertion, see the fascinating analysis of the JFCOM Iraqi Perspectives Prospect in Foreign Affairs here: http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20060501faessay85301/kevin-woods-james-lacey-williamson-murray/saddam-s-delusions-the-view-from-the-inside.html

I'm hoping Wretchard gets a chance to review it. I'd love to get his take, but I found it fascinating how (a) people are cherry-picking its anaylsis to support their pre-conceived notions and (b) how much insight it gives us into what Saddam was thinking.

3/20/2006 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Wretchard,

Just how impressive the bumbling, unsophisticated effort in Iraq is will be evident when compared to the decades-long failure to create a working Palestinian Authority, which till now has no effective and reliable security forces and only a desultory form of "government" despite the efforts of far the more legitimate, understanding and capable United Nations and the sophisticated European Union. In retrospect three of the decisive weapons of victory in Iraq will have been the 190 military transition teams which raised the new Iraqi Army, the Transitional Administrative Law which made a new coalition government possible, and the US Armed Forces itself, which held up the shield behind which the training and political components could take shape.

Smack on. Now the Euros have a solution they can apply to the Palestine. 1 - equip the Palestians with an effective fighting force, capable of coordinated mass action. 2 - impose a transitional government of national unity. 3 - prevent attacks by opponents of the Palestian peace by killing/capturing any insurgents from the neighbouring states.

3/20/2006 04:06:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger