Monday, September 10, 2007

What was said and not said

Some of the slides accompanying Gen Petraeus' testimony on the situation in Iraq can be found at the Politico in PDF format.  Here are the threats as Gen Petraeus sees them, disaggregated by internal and external sources and further broken down by internal party.



The conflicts are plainly an intersection of external interventions and internal civil strife. For instance, the AQI threat is joint result of both Sunni nationalism and external influences just as the anti-AQI movement is the product of US efforts and indigenous tribal structures. Although it is common to refer to "war in Iraq" as if it were a unitary conflict, it is really many wars as the combatant parties, both international and domestic, form and re-form alliances depending on the flow of events. As Petraeus put it, "The fundamental source of the conflict in Iraq is competition among ethnic and sectarian communities for power and resources. This competition will take place, and its resolution is key to producing long-term stability in the new Iraq. The question is whether the competition takes place more – or less – violently. This chart shows the security challenges in Iraq. Foreign and home-grown terrorists, insurgents, militia extremists, and criminals all push the ethno-sectarian competition toward violence. Malign actions by Syria and, especially, by Iran fuel that violence." Although Petraeus' slides don't explicitly address the political alignments within the Iraqi government in Baghdad the alliances those parties form reflects the conflicts on the ground.

The slide on page 8 depicts the decline, over time, of the Sunni insurgency centered in Anbar and along the towns of bordering the Euphrates river. In his testimony, Petraeus said, "In mid-June, with all the surge brigades in place, we launched a series of offensive operations focused on: expanding the gains achieved in the preceding months in Anbar Province; clearing Baqubah, several key Baghdad neighborhoods, the remaining sanctuaries in Anbar Province, and important areas in the so-called “belts” around Baghdad; and pursuing Al Qaeda in the Diyala River Valley and several other areas." By August of 2007 the density plot of insurgent attacks had shifted not only in intensity but location. The insurgent tentacle that once reached out nearly to the Syrian border following the line of the Euphrates had shriveled to a stump centered around the towns northwest of Baghdad. Bill Ardolino describes the what these declining attack numbers imply in his recent report on Fallujah. 

Although news reports have emphasized the US military's recent ability to organize the tribes in Anbar and Diyala, there has been some success at reducing conflict within the capital itself.

But it's important to understand that Petraeus is claiming only a partial victory in some, but not all of the wars that raging inside Iraq. The successes have primarily been against al-Qaeda in Iraq and only secondarily against Shi'ite militias and Iranian proxies. "Our operations have, in fact, produced substantial progress against Al Qaeda and its affiliates in Iraq. ... Al Qaeda is certainly not defeated; however, it is off balance and we are pursuing its leaders and operators aggressively. ... In the past six months we have also targeted Shia militia extremists, capturing a number of senior leaders and fighters, as well as the deputy commander of Lebanese Hezbollah Department 2800, the organization created to support the training, arming, funding, and, in some cases, direction of the militia extremists by the Iranian Republican Guard Corps’ Qods Force."

Over the longer term US forces will be drawn down to 15 brigades and fewer as Iraqi Army Forces are available to replace them. If those plans materialize then Iraq as a theater of combat operations will begin to wind down. What is less clear is whether the War on Terror as a whole will similarly decline or whether the emphasis will simply shift to other areas of operation.


One of the questions Petraeus' report left out was a roadmap to dealing with the other major conflict in Iraq. That involving the Shi'ite militias and Iran. Iran's goal, even before OIF was to do to America what it did to Israel in Lebanon. Kimberly Kagan describes the Iranian War effort at the Weekly Standard. The essential idea was to drive the US out of Iraq and establish an Iranian sphere of influence a la Hezbollah, something Kagan called the "Lebanonization or Hezbollahzation of parts of the south". The successes against the Sunni insurgency does not directly bear this aspect of the conflict, except insofar as it frees forces to deal with it.

Just as in Lebanon, the Iranians have used Hezbollah-like tactics to undermine the Iraqi government and insinuate their own agents. Kagan describes the Iranian command and control system as well as their infiltration system in her article. The infiltration map is shown below.

One indication of how the campaign in Iraq, including the withdrawal, may be moving is this from this AFP article:

The US military said on Monday that it is to build a base on Iraq's border with Iran to stem what it charges is rampant smuggling of weapons and fighters. ... The province, currently the theatre of a massive US-led military crackdown targeting Shiite militiamen allegedly involved in weapons smuggling, shares a 200 kilometre (125 mile) border with Iran. ... The newspaper gave further details about the base, saying it will have living quarters for some 200 soldiers, will be built six kilometres (four miles) from the border and should be completed by November. It said the US military also plans to install X-ray machines and explosives-detecting sensors at Zurbatiya, the main border crossing between Iran and Iraq.


Blogger Sammler said...

I have seen credible claims that sectarian violence is strongly seasonal -- the Iraqi summer is to hot to kill infidels. This, together with the absence of an August 2006 baseline slide, would mean that General Petraeus's claims were too optimistic. Is there a clear comparison spanning more than a year which could address this issue?

9/11/2007 05:59:00 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

I suppose that these violence graphs are unavoidable but they will only turn loose another barrage of nitpickers. I would rather see some measure of local economic activity and how that has changed over time.

Just a few minutes of the House hearings brought home that a staggering number of House Members don't know enough about Iraq to ask an intelligent question. This has to be the most incompetent group of legislators since the mid 1800's.

9/11/2007 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger JeffC said...


If you take a look at the Anbar province slide you can directly compare June, July and August '06 with the same months in '07. The drastic reduction in attacks should be obvious. The Baghdad numbers show a similar trend.

9/11/2007 07:41:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

But still well above the start of the spike in violence, in Iraq, May of 06. Still above 1,500 Iraqi killed each month.

An increase in violence, from the Apr06 until today, without the intervening spike, even that'd be discouraging.

Security and stability are not measured by attacks on US forces, but by Iraqi civilian deaths and the resulting instability.
That is the essence of the COIN Doctrine. The Manual, recently released, clearly describes the manpower requirements for a country the size of Iraq.
500,000 troops, loyal and true

Funny, the General was not asked about that.

9/11/2007 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Peter said...

"Just a few minutes of the House hearings brought home that a staggering number of House Members don't know enough about Iraq to ask an intelligent question. This has to be the most incompetent group of legislators since the mid 1800's."

Admittedly there are a lot of "Barbara Boxer" types in the U.S. Congress. Whether this is the worst Congress since the 1800s is a tough call since there have been some very bad congresses in the past.

When they got elected to Congress last year, the Democrats made a Faustian Bargain with the Moonbat Left. Now we have the situation if the Democrats appear too rational then the moonbats shriek hysterically with the MSM happily magnifying the cacaphony. The Democrats are obligated to "appear" to be as deranged as the moonbats while still trying to do a competent job. This is very hard to do. Obviously the MSM needs to be reformed and the influence of moonbats diminished.

9/11/2007 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Neil said...

desert rat,

I agree that required troop strength is an important point that the congresspersons should have addressed. However, I don't think The Manual states that the 500K troops have to be American. No source at the moment, but I seem to remember that the end goal for the Iraqi Army is approximately 500K combat troops over the coming three years or so. I would like to know if that is considered to be sufficient to pacify Iraq, while "Iraqifying" the pacification.

9/11/2007 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The Manual calls for 1 trooper, loyal and true, for each 500 natives.

There are 25 million in Iraq.

As General Lynch said in early August, where the US Military stands, they control. When the US Military is absent, they're not in control.

When the US squeezed the balloon in Baghdad and Anbar, the violence shifted towards the Kurds in the north, with over 500 Iraqi civilians killed in a single episode. Four coordinated bombing attacks.

The US would have to be stationed every where, @ 500 to 1, to achieve the Goals described in the Manual. For a period of eight to ten years.

The description of Iraqi forces, by both Mr Totten and the 82nd Airborne Seven is one of sectarian division, radical infiltration, and acquiescence to and participation in attacks upon US troops in their areas of responsibility.

General Jones reports the Iraqi will be ready soon, which is what was reported, by the military, in 2004.>By David H. Petraeus
Sunday, September 26, 2004; Page B07

BAGHDAD -- Helping organize, train and equip nearly a quarter-million of Iraq's security forces is a daunting task. Doing so in the middle of a tough insurgency increases the challenge enormously, making the mission akin to repairing an aircraft while in flight -- and while being shot at. Now, however, 18 months after entering Iraq, I see tangible progress. Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt from the ground up.

The Iraqi Forces are not dependable, Their control of the ground not synonomous with US control of the ground.
Certainly not to according to some of the reports from Basra.
When, at the same time, Basra is held up by the Administration and the miltary as an example of Coalition Success.

If Basra exemplifies the desired end state for Iraq. If Mr Cheney, Ms Rice & General Simmons are to be believed then the Coalition has achieved success in Basra.
Which, if that is truly the case, well then, 500,000 troops would not be needed.

Then Basra and the Shia south needs no coalition presence. Bet the Iranians will be pleased as punch.

Is Basra the approved End State, or are the US Generals and diplomats engaged in spreading decaption as to the realities on the ground?

9/11/2007 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

desert rat said...

"When the US squeezed the balloon in Baghdad and Anbar, the violence shifted towards the Kurds in the north, with over 500 Iraqi civilians killed in a single episode. Four coordinated bombing attacks."

That was probably the action of a single al Qaeda cell. The target of the attack had never been defended by the Iraqis or the US (no one thought it needed defense against al Qaeda). The leader of that cell, Abu Muhammad al Afri was killed by the USAF on 3 Sept (probably with the help of Special Ops). I would imagine that cell didn't have more than 20 people in it. It is noteworthy than al Qaeda did not stage a major bombing yesterday when General Petraeus was presenting his report to Congress.

9/11/2007 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Exactly the point, eggplant.
No where can be abandoned to aQ. The Security must be pervasive to be effective.

Tally ho!, another mussulman KIA. Not many more where he came from, are there?

Is Basra the desired end state, if it is, then we can leave Iraq, anytime. The Government has control, through the Police, Army, various other Iraqi security agencies and private militias.

If Basra is not an acceptable end state, we need to read the COIN Doctrine's Manual, then ask the pertintent questions of it's author.

that is the thread
"What was not said"

Anyone that'd been informed, cared about their own success, would know the manpower requirements outlined in the Manual.
An informed questioner would ask the General the wheres and hows of he'll achieve success, with just 32.4% of doctrinal force levels available, at current surge levels, from US?

But no one did, connect the two.

Are they all so ignorant,
or just playing to script?

9/11/2007 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Instead the General proposes pulling out five or six thousand troops, by Christmas. Hattip to Senator Warner.

Then draw down to 132,000 presurge levels, by July through November '08.

So the Iraqi Army, total manpower, per Doctrine, all 350,000 of them is committed to the COIN fight in July to November time frame, while General Jones says a year or two more training by he Iraqis is needed.

The 82nd Seven and Mr Totten, they're not as optimistic as General Jones. But no one says the Iraqi will be ready in July '08.

Not today.

9/11/2007 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

If we are to believe Michael Yon (and I think we should), the counter insurgency in the Sunni heartland (Anbar Province) is acheiving success. Supposably the tribal leaders have realized that al Qaeda is not their friend. Getting the tribal leaders to become the enemy-of-our-enemy has been the main accomplishment of Petraeus' strategy. Given time, al Qaeda in Iraq will be spending all of their resources defending themselves from the local populace rather than launching spectacular attacks against undefended targets.

9/11/2007 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

And ...
We can leave?

or have to stay?

If Anbar is a success
If Basra is a success
If Kurdistan is a success

Why stay, we've won and can begin withdrawal.

Just as General P reccomends, starting with five or six thousand out by Chritmas.

132,000 by July. That is his reccomendation. Then fewer still, one supposes, moving towards the election.

It is a watershed moment, but no dancing in the street. Why is that?

The End State, not what they wished it'd been. Look at who's been empowered, in Anbar, in Basra, even in Baghdad.

The successful End State not worth the costs involved. General P calls for withdrawal.
By Christmas

9/11/2007 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Just heard Gneneral P claim that there are over 450,000 Iraqi Security Forces.
More than enough, that with just a little help, 50,000 or 75,000 guys and gals from the US, for Iraqi to secure Iraq, per Doctrine.

In a year or two, when they're really ready. Force 'em to stand up

Double Hat tip to Senator Warner

9/11/2007 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

25 million divided by 500 = 50,000,
not 500,000.

So was that a typo and the War Manual actually says 1 soldier for every 50 citizens?

9/11/2007 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

One of American's strategic advantages is that it only has to hold in Iraq in order to win. The war aims of both the AQ and Iran were to turn Iraq into a new Afghanistan and Lebanon respectively, extending their existing models. If they can't drive the US and its sponsored successor out of Iraq they have a long-term threat to them in the region.

My own guess is that the architects of the Surge aren't aiminging only for a pure withdrawal. They are aiming to win, if only because maintaining the initiative is the only viable way to defend. Just as the Surge was really an offensive (against AQI) wrapped up in a security plan, looking for offensive components in the offered drawdown.

One reason is that the enemy is likely to counterattack. A pure drawdown without an offensive component will return the iniative, wrested at such great cost, from the enemy. The only way the current gains are going to be maintained is if the momentum is somehow continued.

And while the Surge has been described in terms of numbers, the actual increases in strength have been relatively small in comparison to the improvement in effects. Some, if not most of the improvements have been due to new capabilites, doctrine and approach. And the new doctrine affords opportunities which I don't think are going to be missed. So I don't think the drawdown is going happen purely for its own sake. There will offsetting pressures on enemy forces, though not necessarily involving direct military force. This might be by proxy, sanctions, diplomacy or covert action.

I think the AQ has taken a huge loss in prestige and fighting strength in Iraq. It's been turned into the graveyard of Jihadis, but more importantly of its reputation. Iran is going through really hard times and there is significant economic and social unrest there. If the US can hold in Iraq and increase unconventional pressure that may be enough to maintain the offensive. It's possible that for the first time since 1979 that the Islamic Revolution is on the strategic defensive.

9/11/2007 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Right again, keep messin' up on math, and memory.

Here ist is, quoted, not 1 for 500, that is not the number.
Nope its 20 per 1,000
better force requirement gauge is troop density, the ratio of security forces to inhabitants. Most density recommendations fall within a range of 20 to 25 counterinsurgents for every 1000 residents in an AO. Twenty counterinsurgents per 1000 residents is often considered the minimum troop density required for effective COIN operations; however as with any fixed ratio, such calculations remain very dependent upon the situation.

20 per 1,000 is 10 per 500, not 1

Mea culpa.

1-68. As in any conflict, the size of the force needed to defeat an insurgency depends on the situation. However, COIN is manpower intensive because counterinsurgents must maintain widespread order and security. Moreover, counterinsurgents typically have to adopt different approaches to address each element of the insurgency. For example, auxiliaries might be co-opted by economic or political reforms, while fanatic combatants will most likely have to be killed or captured.

To directly quote, the Manual goes yp to 25 per 1,000
Could be 600,000 trops loyal and true, required.

the new counterinsurgency doctrine in Field Manual 3-24, published on December 15, 2006. It clearly states on page 1-13 that a troop density--ratio of security forces to inhabitants--from 20 to 25 to 1,000 in the area of operations is needed for "effective COIN operations," adding that any fixed ratio is dependent on the situation. That ratio was already the norm and explained in a 1995 Army War College article in itspublication Parameters: "Force Requirements in Stability Operations." It is found throughout the literature on COIN operations.

Thanks for allowing me to clarify that.
500,000, that's the low end of the extimated manpower needs, per the new Manual.

9/11/2007 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

desert rat said...
Exactly the point, eggplant.
No where can be abandoned to aQ. The Security must be pervasive to be effective.

Exactly wrong. You don't win this by defending, so you need to rethink the word "security". You only stop this sort of stuff by agressively attacking. We must continue to seek out and destroy AQ cells.

9/11/2007 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

You have been left outside, looking in. As per how US Military Doctrine goes in Iraq, eggplant.

Your's is not the Doctrine the US is employing, or will employ in the future.
Listen to the General, or Mr Crocker. If we were not winning, the troops would not be available to leave, before their 15 month tour ended, but the General advocates withdrawal. No need for those troops militarily, they have a greater impact, politically, leaving.

It is a political fight, not a military one, given the troop levels the US can maintain.

Get with the Program, hermanos.
We've won, we can leave.
Basra is the acceptable end state.

Ain't life Grand!

Bail on your fantasies and imaginative projections.
Look to what the realities are.

6,000 troops home by Christmas!

Better believe it!
The President does!!!

WASHINGTON (Associated Press) -- President Bush will tell the nation Thursday evening that he plans to reduce the American troop presence in Iraq by as many as 30,000 by next summer but will condition those and further cuts on continued progress, The Associated Press has learned.

In a 15-minute address from the White House at 9 p.m. EDT, Bush will endorse the recommendations of his top general and top diplomat in Iraq, following their appearance at two days of hearings in Congress, administration officials said. The White House plans to issue a written status report on the troop buildup on Friday, they said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Bush's speech is not yet final. Bush was rehearsing and polishing his remarks even as the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker were presenting their arguments for a second day on Capitol Hill.

In the speech, the president will say he understands Americans' deep concerns about U.S. involvement in Iraq and their desire to bring the troops home, they said. Bush will say that, after hearing from Petraeus and Crocker, he has decided on a way forward that will reduce the U.S. military presence but not abandon Iraq to chaos, according to the officials.

The address will stake out a conciliatory tone toward Congress. But while mirroring Petraeus' strategy, Bush will place more conditions on reductions than his general did, insisting that conditions on the ground must warrant cuts and that now-unforeseen events could change the plan.

Petraeus recommended that a 2,000-member Marine unit return home this month without replacement. That would be followed in mid-December with the departure of an Army brigade numbering 3,500 to 4,000 soldiers. Under the general's plan, another four combat brigades would be withdrawn by July 2008.

That could leave the U.S. with as few as 130,000-135,000 troops in Iraq, ...

Now we can all party, like it's 1999. Shop until you drop!!!

9/11/2007 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Support the Course!!!

Do not be a Defeatist, now!!!

Democracy and the Religion of Peace, winning strategies for US, in Iraq!!

9/11/2007 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Yeam 43 brought Mr al-Hakim and Mr al-Sadr into the political center, along with the Baathists of Anbar, reconciliation, bottom up solutions, they have brought success. The corner is turned!

Embrace it hermanos mio, embrace this success of US Foreign Policy, celebrate with friends and neighbors,

The Good News of 9-11-07

Success is at hand!!!

9/11/2007 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger MarkJ said...

Dear desert rat,

Judging from your frantic, sarcastic, factually debatable, stream-of-consciousness postings today, I cordially and respectfully suggest you get back on your meds.

9/11/2007 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Do not need them any more
Got success in the War to celebrate

Dance to the music!!!

Basra is the model, since Omar is movin' to NYCity

Celebrate! Celebrate!
The War is won!!!

Troops home for the holiday !!!
6,000 of them !!!

We're ROLLIN' now!!!

Stay the Course!!!

9/11/2007 08:19:00 PM  

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