Glenn Reynolds writes:
MICHAEL YON EMAILS: "This is a very serious offensive kicking off in Iraq. The NYT realizes it's serious, but nobody that I am seeing realizes just how big this is. Relatively massive."
What does the NYT say?
With the influx of tens of thousands of additional combat troops into Iraq now complete, American forces have begun a wide offensive against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia on the outskirts of Baghdad, the top American commander in Iraq said Saturday. The commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, in a news conference in Baghdad along with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, said the operation was intended to take the fight to Al Qaeda’s hide-outs in order to cut down the group’s devastating campaign of car bombings.
Actually, it is quite noticeable, although Michael Yon is probably right in saying we don't know the half of it. Readers should go to MNF-Iraq's press release page and look at the action over the past two days. Heavy action.
Most of the coverage of the Surge has focused on the additional numbers of troops. But it was apparent to anyone that the augmentation was relatively small. As past posts have emphasized the real news consisted in the redeployment of US troops out of the mega-bases into Joint Security Stations, where partnered with Iraqi forces, US troops were far closer to the fight. The principal benefit of this has been to increase the amount of intelligence available to US forces and shorten the decision and action loops. I also noted this had the disadvantage of moving Americans to less protected positions. However, the powers-that-be probably calculated the gains would be greater than the losses.
This is important to recall because this enhanced intelligence capability and reaction capacity is at the heart of the current offensive. Some weeks back I was at a blogger round table where they were discussing plans to interdict the flow of the "acclerants of violence" into Baghdad. This could not be accomplished by passive methods like checkpoints and barricades. Anyone who was listening must have understood this meant they were preparing to go after the VBIED and arms smugglings cells to interdict the flow of attacking munitions. That meant offense. And those who have been following Bill Roggio's accounts know US forces were prepared to expand into the "belts" around Baghdad. That spells offense too. All of these were indicators that the Surge, far from being a purely defensive strategy contained within it an offensive component coiled and waiting to strike.