US troops kill scores of insurgents in huge, set piece battles east of Baghdad where al-Qaeda in Iraq had set up training camps in marshes in an area from which US troops had departed, according to the New York Times. This is probably the "big fight" Former Spook had got wind of and discussed in a Belmont Club post, Dust in the Wind.
I'm getting word of a major battle last week in Iraq last week, between terrorists and elements of the 82nd Airborne, east of Baghdad. One U.S. officer described the engagement as "one of the five biggest battles" between U.S. troops and insurgents in recent years. Other reports indicate as many as 100 terrorists were killed in the fighting, which lasted for several days. American casualties were described as "light." The engagement reportedly began when the 82nd discovered--an attacked--an apparent terrorist training camp. So far, no confirmation of this operation from the "western press" in Iraq, nor the Multi-National Forces in Iraq (MNF-I) public affairs office.
The NYT account continues:
Senior commanders training Iraqi Army units here say other rural areas of eastern and central Diyala where American forces have had little oversight have been transformed into camps similar to the one at Turki. The “graduates,” many of whom belong to an umbrella group called the Sunni Council, then spread to urban areas such as Baquba, the provincial capital, said Maj. Tim Sheridan, an intelligence officer. Sectarian violence is rampant in Diyala, where Sunni Arab and Shiite militants are vying for control.
The enemy will reinforce and likely redouble their reinforcement now that they know that the Iraq mission has lost domestic political support. That's just the reality. And the intensity of the enemy effort is likely to increase because this post-election period, compounded by the need to establish a strong bargaining position in the forthcoming Paris Peace Talks, I mean discussions with Syria and Iran, will increase the incentive to attack.
Parenthetically, one might recall that Richard Nixon briefly allowed the US Armed Forces off the leash in Linebackers 1 and 2 and that practically ripped the jaw off the enemy in that limited period. Henry Kissinger and James Baker are old enough to remember it. Maybe history does repeat itself.