Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Battle of Iraq

Bill Roggio says, "this is big". Read his roundup of the biggest offensive in Iraq since 2003.

Five days after the announcement of major offensive combat operations against al Qaeda in Iraq and its allies, the picture becomes clearer on the size and scope of the operation. In today's press briefing, Rear Admiral Mark noted that the ongoing operation is a corps directed and coordinated offensive operation. This is the largest offensive operation since the first phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom ended in the spring of 2003.

The corps level operation is being conducted in three zones in the Baghdad Belts -- Diyala/southern Salahadin, northern Babil province, and eastern Anbar province --- as well as inside Baghdad proper, where clearing operations continue in Sadr City and the Rashid district. Iraqi and Coalition forces are now moving into areas which were ignored in the past and served as safe havens for al Qaeda and Sunni insurgent groups. As the corps level operation is ongoing, Coalition and Iraqi forces are striking at the rogue Iranian backed elements of Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army and continuing the daily intelligence driven raids against al Qaeda's network nationwide.

Interestingly, this operation was inside a wrapper of disinformation: the Surge.


Blogger Ramon said...

It is amazing that this operation has been going on for days and yet only Bill Roggio and Mike Yon have really reported on it.

Just Google "Baquba" and see what you get.

It must be going very well indeed to merit such a level of obscurity.

6/20/2007 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

That the NYT and the BBC didn't publish the battle plan ahead of time suggests that operational security is much improved.

I think you are correct Ramon about the reason for the absence of MSM coverage. How big a jerk does Harry Reid look like when the Iraqi/US start piling up the AQ corpses while the local citizens cheer the progress?

It's difficult to internalize that half the US Senate wants our troops to fail but it is what it is.

6/20/2007 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

What about Mookie. We are hearing that there is some fighting in Sadr City, but I have heard nothing about his head being carried through the streets on a stick.

If he is NOT killed, that says to me that he's being protected (still) by Maliki.

6/20/2007 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Wretchard, I'm hoping you're putting together one of your patented analyses of troop movements, tactics and who's doing what to whom.

They are always enlightening and sometimes brilliant.

6/20/2007 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Well, it is a surge. Just like the Normandy Invasion was a surge.

Note this from Bill’s article: “striking at the rogue Iranian backed elements of Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army.”

Okay, so they are taking out Sadr’s forces as well. Interesting indeed. This is the equivalent of not only the Normandy Invasion but Operation Market Garden as well – and simultaneously.

Also, did anyone see the news from the last week where “Sunni insurgents” were knocking out bridges on key routes to Baghdad as a form of infrastructure attack? That will not bother our forces – but it will bother people trying to flee. Looks like they screwed themselves.

6/20/2007 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

There are two ways to think about the operation as a whole. The standard framework, one echoed by the New York Times and other outlets, is that past offensives have failed because the enemy was always left with some place to regroup. This time, the NYT suggests, the US military is spread out so much that the enemy will have no place to regroup.

Bill Roggio's post has an interesting characterization which suggests that one objective is to get the enemy to transition and hit him while he is transitioning.

Bill's framework is subtly richer than the standard "give them nowhere to run" line. Because obviously Iraq is so big that the US cannot literally be everywhere and give them "nowhere to run". The more apt description, probably, is that the US won't let the enemy run anywhere for long. That is to say, you can conceive of the campaign as a series of evictions with the AQI leaking a little more each time. If you can increase the tempo of the evictions quickly enough, then what happens is that the AQI gets pursued to pieces.

Most of the pieces of information the public needs to understand what the military intends is probably already known to the public, but it has explained in ways to camouflage the true purpose. We know that the forces have been deployed closer to the ground; that they are operating in coordination with the Iraqi Forces; that new command groups have been set up; and -- if you have been following the deployments a little closely -- a certain amount of unspecified logistical and hardware capability has been added. One item which should be mentioned separately is the existence and battlefield use of biometric database systems, something which was also explained away in connection with a largely defensive Surge.

My own guess -- and it is entirely speculation -- is that Petraeus has attempted to shape his battlefield for the offense while masking it as defensive preparation. I remember distinctly hearing at a round table or someplace where his first item of business in the morning was what was captured in the previous day's raids. Iraq is unique in that it is the first war in history where prisoners vastly outnumber the enemy KIA. I think the number is 10 EPWs to every 1 enemy KIA. Hence, it is above all a war of intelligence prosecution. And many of the pieces needed to accomplish that task are precisely the pieces Petraeus has put in place, except they advertised as being something else.

Beyond that, we should wait and see what happens.

6/20/2007 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Maybe they weren't terrorists blowing up the bridges. After the first bridge that collapsed on American soldiers and killed some, I don't remember reading any reports of casualties in the other bridges that were bombed. Surgical strikes in advance of?

6/20/2007 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Pushing them so hard and fast they can't stop to get their breath is pure George S. Patton, God bless him.

Now what happens if any of these guys try to flee across the border into Iran with us in hot pursuit? Hmmm? Hard to believe that is not going to happen if we are pushing them that hard.

6/20/2007 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The problem of course is that both sides will reinforce the fight. Iran and al-Qaeda do not regard losing their position in Iraq as an option. For them it is existential and this gives them the psychological advantage over the US, where half the country, or maybe more, thinks victory is optional and losing has no long term consequences.

The key question then is whether they can feed in more reinforcements than the US can. The US probably cannot kick in any more US troops. However, they are still generating about an extra brigade of Iraqi forces (I am writing from memory, and may be wrong on this number) per month and they are not out of force multipliers. That is, technological enhancers, like databases, combat UAVs, electronic wizardry etc, etc. So both still have considerable fuel they can add to the fire.

The question then becomes, is the enemy center of gravity vulnerable from Iraq. In some sense it is. Because the AQI and their Leftist allies have invested so much prestige in Iraq and declared their victory so often that they cannot afford to lose it. Iran too must smash Iraq or see a long-term threat arise there which will have existential consequences. We circle back to their advantage which is really a statement of vulnerability. Neither the AQI nor Iran can afford to lose in Iraq because to do so would be to risk a serious strategic political defeat. It would be their Stalingrad. The only road would be backward. And the Jihad depends, much more than any other movement, on the continuance of their "miracle" narrative. Remember that God as they understand Him has vouchsafed their victory. A loss would mean they are being punished by God himself.

6/20/2007 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Remember too that the enemy does not have to respond symmetrically. He doesn't necessarily have to come up with a military response to his dilemma. For example Iraq the Model warns about a "War of the Shrines":

Iraq the Model writes, "an Iraqi author ... outlined an unlikely yet truly scary scenario ... his point can be summarized by the following; he's saying that as long as there are attempts to ignite civil war through attacking shrines then we really should expect a large-scale incident that would make the entire Shia world shake and end any chance for peace in Iraq, that is attacking the Shrine of Imam Hussein."

There are indications that both AQI and Iran will cooperate, if necessary, to stay alive. So it is not out of the question for the AQI and Iran to respond to this offensive by moving sideways. That would be in character, in fact.

6/20/2007 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Now what happens if any of these guys try to flee across the border into Iran with us in hot pursuit?

Michael Yon's latest piece was from the Brits patrolling along the Iranian border. He describes them as being energetic and capable ... just the sort of folks you might want to have waiting if you were chasing a bunch of bad guys in their direction in hot pursuit.

Wonder why the Beeb is so interested in wanting to know where the British forces in Iraq are right now, too.

6/20/2007 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger Crazy Marzouq Redneck Muslim said...

My comment on Iraq The Model:


As my redneck buddy in Georgia sez,"It's ON!"

I'm taking the day off and PRAY MY BUTT OFF, WEAR MY KNEES OUT for victory of Coalition Forces, which by the way, include Iraqi Forces in this all out 3GW/4GW effort.

I shall also wear my fingers out in this net war for Iraq and the ME.

Long live the Great Muhajideen of the Coalition and True Islam.

Long live General David Petraeus!

Long live Ayatollah Sistani!

Allah please protect the shrines of Imams Ali and Hussein! In the name of your messenger the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him), please do not let these shrines be desecrated! I cry out to you, Most High, Lord of the Worlds! Please bless your servants O Most High, the benificent, the merciful!

Great posting friends! Joe Koch, beautiful blessing! Unbelievable, here on ITM a Christian, Muslim and Jew allied in the cause of liberty and prosperity for the Cradle of Civilization, the Birthplace of the Law, Land of Hammurabi!

May the Most High bless and sustain us all on this first day of summer, possibly one of the hottest summers in history!

Salaam eleikum, Allahu akbar!

P.S. The comment section on ITM is rich in resources and excellent commentary in reply to the "War of Shrines" post by the Fadhil brothers. Please check it out.

May the Most High bless you Wretchard, I consider you a good and valuable friend.

6/21/2007 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Amir Ali Tayyab said...

I request MODERATORS to remove BELMONT CLUB's abuses against me

As long the abusive content against me online at will remain at the blog of Belmont Club, this blog of mine against them will continue as a protest. As soon that is removed, it will be removed accordingly.

Amir Ali Tayyab

6/26/2007 08:32:00 AM  

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