Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Baghdad Security Operation Starts

An ongoing security operation is reported underway in Baghdad. Reuters reports:

IRAQ'S prime minister launched a security crackdown against al-Qaeda in Baghdad today but extended an olive branch to Sunni rebels who want to join the political process in a twin strategy to ease violence. Backed by tanks and armoured vehicles, about 50,000 Iraqi security forces and 7200 US-led troops were deployed across Baghdad, setting up checkpoints and patrolling streets in the strife-torn capital, officials said.

Clashes erupted between gunmen and Iraqi troops and a car bomb killed two people, but the clampdown appeared to help keep violence at bay in a city hit almost daily by carnage and kidnappings. In Adhamiya, a violent Sunni Arab rebel stronghold, gunmen armed with automatic rifles blocked roads and exchanged fire with Iraqi soldiers before Iraqi army tanks rumbled through the area to restore order, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.

Mohammed at Iraq the Model comments:


Baghdad looked tense today as the city witnessed the launch of the new massive security operation "Forward Together". The feeling here ranges from anxiety to hope which I saw clear in the voice and looks of the people I met; in addition to the understandable anxiety that accompanies every new military operation I saw a lot about hope that this new operation may be able to stop or even reverse the deterioration of security in the capital. ... Some Baghdadis have shopped for extra amounts of water, food and fuel expecting the operation and curfews to take more than a few days and there's a minor internal immigration within Baghdad from the more dangerous districts to the relatively safer ones. This isn't happening in large numbers and I knew about it only from some families that I know that have temporarily left their homes in some districts.

In Baghdad you can't find the same feeling you would find in Ramadi, that is the fear that the operation will include collective punishment and this is because Baghdadis are used to living standards of a big city (in Middle Eastern standards though) but in the past few years they have suffered enough from militants of all types and want their city life back, they want to see militias and insurgents defanged and they want schools and markets and services to function properly again. ...

I don't want to bet on the citizens' cooperation in this regard but at the same time I can say that they won't give the militants a hand. The militants are getting more and more isolated by the day and this isolation is directly related to the increasing suffering and contempt of the citizens from this useless armed opposition especially that most of the once were opposition parties have joined the political process and became an integral part of the government and they smothered their tone and making their demands through political routes. ...

The militants know the strategic value of Baghdad so they will probably try hard to keep a low profile during the operation in order to stay in Baghdad and I don't expect them to risk an open confrontation with the authority and they will not be dragged to such confrontation; they depend almost entirely on hit and run attacks using the advantage of looking like civilians until the moment they strike. So for this operation to work out, we will need to focus on disarmament and collecting every piece of weapons that can be collected because each weapon represents a chance for more violence.

An email from the White House, probably sent out to a lot of bloggers, dated 21:43 EST on June 13 details background which may be relevant to the security operation in Baghdad. As will be evident from the extracts below, the security plan includes not only securing Baghdad but also Ramadi, though this does not seem imminent.

With the President in Baghdad, the group was joined for breakfast Tuesday by Iraq's Ambassador to the U.S., Samir Sumaidaie. Following breakfast and earlier Baghdad meetings between the President and the Iraqi Prime Minister, the two leaders and the Iraqi cabinet met via secure teleconference. The Prime Minister discussed his top priorities for the new government, and he and members of his cabinet briefed the President and the U.S. team on Iraqi plans for improving security, national reconciliation, and economic reform. The President hailed the Prime Minister for the leadership he has shown and for laying out a bold agenda for Iraq. American and Iraqi leaders discussed how the U.S. government could best support the Prime Minister's agenda and together advance security and renewal in Iraq.

Prime Minister Maliki Is Focused On Taking Immediate Actions In Three Areas:

1. Improve security by both military and political actions; secure Baghdad; eliminate armed gangs; and promote national reconciliation and the rule of law.

2. Immediately build economic and government capacity; increase production of oil and electricity; and build a foundation for prosperity.

3. Engage the nations of the region and the world in Iraq's democratic and economic development.

Securing Baghdad: The Prime Minister has made the security of Baghdad his top priority. He has briefed the U.S. government on his campaign to crack down on the violence and at the same time promote reconciliation.

Coalition Action: Prime Minister Maliki will soon announce more specifics of his plan to secure Baghdad. The President will provide, through the Commander, MNF-I, 12 battalions (approximately 7,200 troops) of Coalition forces in Baghdad to support 36 battalions of Iraqi Army forces (approximately 26,000) and nearly 23,000 Iraqi police who will work together to secure the city. Their goal will be to deny terrorists safe haven in areas around Baghdad and to deny terrorists freedom of movement in the city.

Securing Ramadi: Terrorists/insurgents have been focusing on destabilizing Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar, both to undermine the government in that province and as a transfer point and staging ground for attacks elsewhere.

Coalition Action: Coalition forces are working with the Iraqi Government to stabilize the city by keeping the pressure on terrorists/insurgents while recruiting, training, and fielding Iraqi army units to serve in and around Ramadi. A locally recruited police force is also being built.

Commentary

Mohammed is very probably correct when he says that the success of the security operation, despite the dramatic "tanks in the street" account by Reuters, is in intelligence gathering and weapons collection. It is the small unit, house to house stuff. Ideally, informers should be recruited or move in with the covering security force and emplace themselves while the local gangs are temporarily disorganized. The good news in using Iraqis to lead this effort is that they are far better equipped, linguistically and culturally, for this kind of combing operation. The bad news is that small unit actions in a big city (where there may be a temptation to pocket cell phones, money, and other valuables) requires a great deal of discipline and cohesion which a fledgling force may not have, especially when the security forces may be from another Muslim denomination. Hence the fear of "collective punishment".

14 Comments:

Blogger Doug said...

Haditha Update
- Katharine Ham
Senator Inhofe has made 11 trips to Iraq.
Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe tells of Iraq's new defense minister's hatred of CNN.
Senator James Inhofe Mp3
More:
Reconciliation is a non-issue, (lots of intermarried Iraqis)
Haditha a story here, NOT there.

6/14/2006 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The Inhofe link is a good one Doug.

6/14/2006 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

"there's a minor internal immigration within Baghdad from the more dangerous districts to the relatively safer ones. This isn't happening in large numbers and I knew about it only from some families that I know that have temporarily left their homes in some districts."

hmmmm, I'd be wary of folks who felt it was fine to live amongst those in the more dangerous districts and only now find it prudent to leave. I don't know the author's stance but if he knows such...well...

Why would the new PM announce such an operation unless he wanted such movement that would surely include those causing the violence? Seems like it would be more effective if they adopted a more stealthy approach.

6/14/2006 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

Obviously something had to be done about the security situation in Baghdad but my experience watching old Hollywood westerns leads me to believe that the net effect will be that the bad guys "head for the hills and lay low 'til the Marshal leaves town."

6/14/2006 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

That is the whole point of using 50,000 Iraqis, the Marshall is not leaving.
If successful the US can begin to discuss leaving and staying.
If unsuccessful, well we'll just be leaving. It's "that" important, Iraqi success.

Best news I've heard was the Iraqi engaged their armor in direct fire operations in the city.

6/14/2006 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

From the Guardian UK is a very interesting poll conducted by Pew Research. They polled 17,000 people in 15 countries between March and May. In a press release, it says: "Despite growing concern over Iran's nuclear ambitions, the US presence in Iraq is cited at least as often as Iran - and in many countries much more often - as a danger to world peace."

6/14/2006 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

This is a good time to push the terror-enablers in Baghdad to the wall. Zarqawi bites the dust, the Iraqi government finally takes a vague shape, and Baghdad terrorists, militias, and terror enablers come due for a reckoning. It sounds about right.

6/14/2006 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

I believe that my position is shared by a significant portion of people in that I am against US troops being used in a police function occupying an Islamic country. My inclinations are such that I am sceptical of the theory about an Islamic society yearning for democracy. My bias is that a society can be Islamic or Democratic, not both. Turkey is not an exception!. That said, if the Iraqi government has decided to make a stand, it is in our interest to support that effort. That support should be contingent upon an increasing momentum of Iraqi participation. There should be no time limit and one can reasonably expect setbacks. I will support this experiment. I hope my inclinations and suspicions are wrong.

6/14/2006 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

doug,

The new Iraqi Minister of Defense hates CNN

6/14/2006 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Is it just my faulty memory, or is this the first time since the US-led invasion that the operation has been reported before the inevitable rise in casualty rate that results from aggressive action? Could the White House finally be getting ahead of the news? (Dare I dream it?)

On the downside, how long before that rise in casualty rate takes center stage? Sigh...

6/14/2006 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

First response is a loud 'Huzzah!' for the troops and for freedom.

MASSIVE, intelligent, trained, visible and firm presence, almost instantly!

"WE, the People, OWN these intersections, these streets, these loving parents wanting good for their children, and we're here to arrest or kill ALL who want otherwise! We are the Freedom Loving Tribe!"

6/15/2006 12:22:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

From the AP today:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- American and Iraqi forces have carried out 452 raids since last week's killing of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and 104 insurgents were killed during those actions, the U.S. military said Thursday.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said the raids were carried out nationwide and led to the discovery of 28 significant arms caches.

He said 255 of the raids were joint operations, while 143 were carried out by Iraqi forces alone. The raids also resulted in the captures of 759 "anti-Iraqi elements."

452 raids yielded 104 killed, 769 captured. 28 arms caches taken out. Not a bad week's work. And they clearly planned this - including taking out Zarqawi - for a long time.

6/15/2006 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Hey, Desert! al-Zarqawi is yielding MASSIVE BENEFITS, now we got his Rolodex from the thumb-drive in his pocket!

6/15/2006 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Off-topic: Update on two missing troops who were captured yesterday?

On-topic: The fact that all of this very encouraging news is coming from Iraq, while concurrently the Dems in Congress are saying NOW is the time to surrender, is just absolutely fascinating. I guess they decided that their ticket to pandering to the weakest among us is to give up on the war and blame Bush for a "disastrous" "pointless" "failure" is their platform. Should events change to make them appear blind and deaf but unfortunately not silent, they bluster on anyway. Yet more proof that the Dems' base is the least informed among the entire electorate. They can mouth their empty pronouncements of defeat even as good news is trumpeted from the battlefield, knowing in perfect comfort that the MSM will not share the good news, and even if they did, the majority of the Dem base would never hear about it anyway.

In the local Philly Inky, the main article about the captured documents that have lead to the back-breaking 450 raids in the last week ran under a headline: "U.S. Death Toll Reaches 2,500."

Meanwhile, say a little prayer of thanks that we (not just the U.S., the entire Free World) dodged a bullet in the last election with the defeat of the pompous moron Kerry.

6/17/2006 09:00:00 AM  

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