Monday, June 13, 2005

By Other Means

One of today's lead stories is that the U.S. Toll in Iraq Pushes Past 1,700. This is a cumulative number. A comparison of US deaths with the same month a year ago yields the following figures. (Source: Global Security Org. Note these numbers included nonbattle casualties.) 

2004 Killed 2005 Killed 2004 Wounded 2005 Wounded
Jan 47 107 188 496
Feb 19 58 150 409
Mar 52 36 323 364
April 135 52 1,214 590
May 80 79 757 385
333 332 2,632 2,244

Another view of the same picture is provided by the Iraqi Coalition Casualty Count website.

Period US UK Other* Total Avg Days
Jun-05 35 0 0 35 2.69 13
May-05 80 2 6 88 2.84 31
Apr-05 52 0 0 52 1.73 30
Mar-05 36 1 3 40 1.29 31
Feb-05 58 0 2 60 2.14 28
Jan-05 107 10 10 127 4.1 31
Dec-04 72 2 3 77 2.48 31
Nov-04 137 4 0 141 4.7 30
Oct-04 63 2 2 67 2.16 31
Sep-04 80 3 4 87 2.9 30
Aug-04 66 4 5 75 2.42 31
Jul-04 54 1 3 58 1.87 31
Jun-04 42 1 7 50 1.67 30
May-04 80 0 4 84 2.71 31
Apr-04 135 0 5 140 4.67 30
Mar-04 52 0 0 52 1.68 31
Feb-04 20 1 2 23 0.79 29
Jan-04 47 5 0 52 1.68 31

From a statistical point of view combat in Iraq has been as deadly as the year previous. The absolute numbers of fatalities are roughly comparable though the number wounded is down from the same period in 2004. The arrival of significant larger numbers of Iraqi police and army into combat means that the actual level of combat operations is probably increasing. This is reflected in the Iraqi government casualty returns which are in addition to US losses. Iraqi government soldiers are taking casualties at a rate three times larger than the American.

2005 Iraqi police and army casualties


Feb 103
Mar 200
Apr 199
May 270
Jun 97
2005 Total


Total prior to 2005 1,300


Fester, a self-described "Lefty Political Blog" claims that the Coalition is actually losing the war using the following calculation. (Unfortunately Fester's estimate of the number of enemy losses, which he argues are equal to the American is based on a dead link.)

However, US forces, due to superior armor and medical care, sustain roughly five incapacitating woundings for every fatality (on average) and four or five more minor woundings. The approximately 70 US combat deaths means that 330 other troops are also incapacitated (evacuated or removed from their units for at least 72 hours due to combat wounds). This increased resilency masks some of the effectiveness of the insurgent operations. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that the insurgents lost roughly 500 men to any future combat operations in the month of May while inflicing roughly 450-500 permanent direct losses on the Iraqi government forces and another 400 US soldiers are out of action due to death or serious combat injuries. Therefore the incapacitation ratio is roughly 1.8:1 in favor of the insurgents. Against US forces only, the ratio is near unity. ...

Why do I argue that a smaller force (even if compared only against the international troops) that is taking near unity fatalities is winning? Simply because it has always been far cheaper, easier and quicker for an insurgent force to regenerate than for a counterinsurgent force to regenerate. Additionally, it is highly probable that the vast majority of insurgent fatalities and incapacitations are coming from direct combat with American combat units. In this arena, the insurgents are trading roughly 5 total insurgents killed or incapacitated for every 4 US soldiers killed/incapacitated.

If Fester were right, then Iraqi insurgent kill ratios against US troops would be an historical high rate. Common Dreams, a left of center site, used the reverse of Fester's argument to reach the same conclusion, which was that American kill ratios, no matter how high, were an exercise in futility.

US soldiers are already successful at killing Iraqis. In the invasion itself, from mid-March to May 1, 2003, US and British forces killed Iraqis at a rate of 60-1, according to the Cambridge-based Project for Defense Alternatives. Rumsfeld boasted that Iraqi military personnel would become our loyal friends once "they are persuaded that the regime is history." Over the winter Saddam Hussein was captured. But chaos continues. In the latest insurgency, we have killed at least 1,000 Iraqis. Despite the American fatalities, we are still killing Iraqis at a 10-to-1 ratio. Yesterday, the commander of US forces in Iraq, Ricardo Sanchez, boasted that the insurgents have "seen the might of the American military unleashed." Yet Rumsfeld needs more soldiers to unleash more might. We have been here before. In 1966 in Vietnam, we killed North Vietnamese soldiers and the Viet Cong at a 14-1 clip. The US military was convinced it would win a war of attrition. We escalated the war. But in 1967, 1968, and 1969 -- the years where Americans suffered the most battle deaths -- the kill ratio remained one US soldier to 14 fighters for North Vietnam.

Engagements individually covered by the Press almost never exhibit an insurgent-US kill ratio of unity. ABC News recorded the relative casualties of the recently concluded Operation Matador at 125 insurgents killed against 9 Marines KIA and 40 wounded. It may be argued that IED attacks, however, cause a steady dribble of unanswered casualties which statistically offset the gains of set-piece battles which the US wins. But on the other hand, there are many insurgent losses which are hardly reported at all as those who read the posts of soldiers based in Iraq will attest. But even if one were to disregard these, Fester's arithmetic does not include enemy prisoners of war, who are also removed from combat and moreover provide a source of intelligence the dead do not. All in all, the insurgent-US casualty exchange rate is unlikely to be unity. Nor is it clear that it will be "far cheaper, easier and quicker for an insurgent force to regenerate than for a counterinsurgent force to regenerate"  where the insurgents come from the Sunni minority while the counterinsurgent force comes from the Shi'ite and Kurdish majority of the population.

Yet the question remains: if the insurgency is losing then why is the level of combat constant or increasing? The only answer, admittedly one that will not convince everybody, is to point to the pattern of operations. In 2004 the insurgent strategy was to co-opt or infiltrate government security forces. That failed and the insurgents are now meeting government forces in combat, a fact attested by the losses the Iraqi police and army are taking in the fight. When the Daily Kos argues that Iraqi government soldiers are so much "fresh meat" it glosses over the fact that these forces are in fact fighting the enemy and not spying or secretly colluding with the insurgents.  After the First Battle of Fallujah, coalition operations went on the strategic offensive: Najaf, the Second Fallujah, Ramadi, the Elections, and then in rapid order Matador, New Market, Lightning and the recent cordon and sweep at Tal Afar.  It does not seem like a force which, as the Daily Kos claims, "is treading water". During World War 2 the years with highest American casualty figures were 1944 and 1945. The US lost nearly 1 in every 20 men killed in World War 2 on the one island of Okinawa, but America was on the offensive and winning; while the years with the lowest casualty figures in Vietnam were 1972 and 1973 where America was in retreat. One rarely noticed statistic that is highly inconsistent with military parity suggested by Fester and Kos is the almost absolute lack of American prisoners in insurgent hands. In Vietnam, almost 2,500 men were taken prisoner by the NVA. On the global battlefield against terror (not just in Iraq) the number of American prisoners in enemy hands is nearly zero, despite the fact that hostage taking and beheadings are a favorite mode of terrorist combat.

The intensity of fighting in Iraqi is probably equal or greater to 2004 as a direct function of increased offensive contact with the enemy, but not at parity ratio of exchange that Fester suggests. One engagement of which a long-term account has been kept in Michael Yon's narrative of the Battle of Mosul, which never flinches from describing Coalition losses but is never ignorant of enemy losses as well.

My previous post, The Battle for Mosul (posted May 14, 2005), described in detail how the fighting came to Mosul. As bloody as May has been, it's important to see it in the proper historical context. In November and December, as the elections approached, Mosul erupted in violence. The Iraqi police were killed or run off, literally abandoning stations, weapons and all, to insurgent thugs. The US forces were suddenly fighting through ambushes, complex attacks threatening their lives, launched by an organized and equipped enemy who fully intended to chase the American "occupiers" away.

The enemy fired thousands of mortar rounds, seeded roads with innumerable bombs so that IEDs were like light poles, and fired tons of ammunition. Bases were attacked with mortars, rockets and small arms, and the moment the Americans launched off in response, it was full-on firefights. Dozens of American soldiers died, and hundreds were wounded. The enemy gained their dwindling victories largely through audacity and determination, but audacity goes both ways, and determination is never enough.

In each engagement, the Americans were decimating the enemy, chiseling off chunks of combatants, and seizing and destroying their weapons and explosives. The harder the enemy fought the more fighters they lost; they were facing a foe that was better equipped, more resilient, and a lot harder than the enemy expected. After months of intense fighting, Coalition forces changed the ground conditions dramatically. The Coalition now owns the open roads, while the enemy scrambles to hiding places in the alleys. The challenge has always been to hold Mosul without destroying the city. It remains the order of the day. ... 

Instead of leveling the enemy with outright combat like they did in November and December when they were openly fighting in the streets, Deuce-Four uses every intelligence apparatus available to aid in capturing the enemy, because the enemy, once captured, usually sells out the cell members who've squeezed themselves into cracks in the back alleys of Mosul. The change in operations is also because the enemy no longer presents the targets that they did in November and December when they massed and tried to fight Deuce-Four head to head.

Capturing the enemy creates a cascading effect through the insurgency. A dead enemy is just dead. Game over. But every singing captive leads to another and another and another, and Deuce-Four can hardly keep pace with the flow of information. As sobering as the casualty numbers are for May, the number of insurgents captured and in custody in that same month—133—are a strong indicator of the success that is mounting. The success comes with a high price: it's always more dangerous to capture an enemy than to kill him. Don't get me wrong, if they see an enemy with a weapon he is dead, no questions asked, nor will they shoot an unarmed man, but Deuce-Four goes through detailed planning and considerable effort to capture the enemy wherever he operates—when he is sleeping at night, when he is eating at his favorite restaurant, or when he is meeting in the darkest corners of the dirtiest alleys.

Yet even Yon, while sensing that progress is being made, cannot put a date certain on when the finish line will be crossed. "How long this might take is anyone's guess. Progress is made every day, but it always takes more time and effort to build than to destroy." In summary the situation can be described as follows. The Coalition is on the strategic offensive, probably inflicting a multiple kill-ratio on the enemy, capturing its leadership, improving its intelligence capacity and generating ever larger numbers of indigenous combat forces. It is basically ascendant in every measurable military category. On the other hand, the insurgents are counting on making America tire of of serial combat victories without apparent end in the belief that if they simply do not admit to loss they will eventually win -- not on the battlefield as Fester and Kos would have us believe -- but on the political front, as they always aimed to do. In a sense, neither Michael Yon nor anyone else can say us when the finish line will be crossed because it lies on a plane which includes, but is not limited to the battlefield. Karl von Clauswitz famously said "War is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means." The US military has provided most of the "other means"; it now remains to be seen whether the remainder of its society can provide the rest.


Blogger desert rat said...

An interesting set of ideas. Kill ratios and other combat statistics can lead to any conclusion the reader wants.

"Until the Job is Done"
Talk about your Newspeak. The "Job" is constantly changing, definitions constantly in flux.
The Administration, while not setting timelines, should if we are to successful in the "War on Terror" define, both the "Job" and the standard by which "Done" is accomplished.
The DoD and President Bush are as much to blame for the moving Goal Posts as the MSM.
Public Support will continue to dwindle for the War if there is no end in sight, especially if Victory cannot be defined, or even spoken of.

6/13/2005 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger romanesq said...

A brilliant current analysis of the distinct separation of the battle on the ground and the battle on the home front. As the howls to retreat become louder on the home front, one can guess that the reality on the ground is entirely different.

And so the shrieks for withdrawal in the face of victory continue.

Another fine piece of work Rikard (Wretchard).

6/13/2005 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

I think its ironic that its the Left that is using body counts.

Its also instructive that many are looking at body counts, rather than examining the qualitative measures of success. Who has the initiative? Where are operations occurring and against which targets?

The focus on body counts indicates a lack of knowledge about what is going on or an historical vantage point from which to make references.

From a Classic Guerilla perspective, the Iraqis and Americans have forced the insurgents to Escalate their attacks - the daily car bombings are indiscriminate and serve to de-legitimatize the insurgency. The daily killing of Muslims plays into the Coalition hands. This is extremely corrosive for the insurgency. Its the equivalent of spray and pray.

What is striking about Yon's article is that we are capturing so many insurgents. And that they are so willing to turn their buddies in. What is the equivalent technical term for breakout and pursuit in counter-insurgency?

6/13/2005 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Prariepundit said...

The enemy in Iraq is too weak to engage in direct combat and for the past few months has been killing mostly noncombatants. Everytime the enemy attempts to mass his forces even a little they are destroyed as the example of the 40 enemy KIA's in an air attack on their "road block" in western Iraq this weekend. Wars are generally won by reducing the combat effectiveness of the other side. The enemy has been completely unsuccessful in that and no longer even tries, while the US and the new Iraqi units continue to have success in destroying the effectiveness of various enemy cells by killing them are capturing them. To the extent that this is some battle of attrition the math does not work in the enemy's favor.

6/13/2005 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

There is no doubt that the Insurgents will be defanged. The Jihadists will continue bombing and killing as long as they have capacity.
The Jihadists, in Iraq, will be a Police problem for Iraqis, not a military one for the US troops.
The Jihadists do not mass.

Indiscriminate bombings have always been a police problem, here in the US (ie: Weathermen and Abortion Clinics) they should be handled in a similar manner in Iraq

6/13/2005 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

Leftist blogs continue to 'whistle in the dark' while rapturing over supposed kill ratio numbers that 'prove' anything and everything.

(Shouldn't it be treason to desire your own country suffer defeat)?

Reasonable men adjust their thinking once they've had a chance to observe the favorable interim results of actions which they orginally disapproved. Not so flat-earth leftists. They seem to continue fearing 'the edge is nigh'. Strange.

6/13/2005 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Our experience has been that as the fighting draws near an end it intensives rather than petering out. Japan was finished by early 1945 but the fighting on and around Okinawa probably was the most intense of the entire war. The Kamikaze attacks alone inflicted the heaviest casualties on the USN of the entire war - and then there were the fire raids and nuclear attacks on Japan.
What I have began to wonder about is the long term impact on the societies of those involved. We hear that the terrorists come not from the desperately poor but from those educated enough to be subject to terrorist propaganda and wealthy enough not to focus on a hardscrabble existence. What will happen to the countries who are supplying the terrorist fighters, sending such a large percentage of their "middle" classes? Are they disposing of the troublesome trash or bleeding their futures into the sands of Iraq?

6/13/2005 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

I don't think that the numbers of jihadists are high enough that their loss will threaten the middle class of their native countries. I think the bigger question is how many of the middle class in their native countries support the jihadist ideals, and what will they next turn their energies to?

As far as the kill ratio question, there is still a viable possibility that political expediency will cause us to leave Iraq too early. I don't think that the real question is the kill ratio itself. The real issue is the total number of American deaths/casualties; as long as that number still remains politically significant (as it has been lately), the terrorists will be at least breaking even strategically.

6/13/2005 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Chennaul said...

Oh no!

When the Daily Kos argues that Iraqi government soldiers are so much "fresh meat" it glosses over the fact that these forces are in fact fighting the enemy and not spying or secretly colluding with the insurgents. After the First Battle of Fallujah, coalition operations went on the strategic offensive: Najaf, the Second Fallujah, Ramadi, the Elections, and then in rapid order Matador, New Market, Lightning and the recent cordon and sweep at Tal Afar. It does not seem like a force which, as the Daily Kos claims, "is treading water"

I can arrange for Kos to tread water. Ugh links even! When is jinderella -the double agent- going to do Kos.alt?

That's the only way I could stomache reading that twerp -who supposedly use to be army [Gak! is this true?]- is via the jinderella filter.

As for statistics boy they can be cold and manipulated,ey?

Operation Matador Nine dead? Nine too many.

Man- am I stretching Clausewitz or making this up?

Did he say that almost everything is politics?

For example everyone wants their will-

If I talk to you at the water cooler or don't- that could be construed as a B.F. Skinner lame attempt to get my way a la Clausewitz...

"Politics is everything"- well that sounds absolutist now doesn't it- young-Vader/Bushite?

6/13/2005 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Chennaul said...

desert rat-

You're first comment I am almost always reflexively defensive of Bush and Rummy-they are just under so much flack you are almost obligated to provide them cover...

But I almost have to agree with you...

The public expectations are so high-over at Conservative blogs you have a demand to conquer Syria, nuke Iran-heck nuke Korea-it's usually the commenters-oh and hey! have the military cover the Mexican border damnit!

They are so out of touch it's frightening- hell do we still have guys sitting in Iceland watching the stupid scopes for "bears"?

6/13/2005 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think that kill ratios will become increasingly misleading, if still politically potent.

By any conventional measure, the insurgency has been devastated, but still capable of suicide tactics, a capability that will likely remain far into the future. There are still huge weapons caches unaccounted for, and a dwindling if not exhausted supply of sociopaths willing to blow themselves and others up. Hence, we will likely suffer casualty rates at or near current levels for quite some time. In the meantime, the mission remains the same, and we will be successful.

6/13/2005 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Harley said...

To those that think we cant win this war or that it will be never ending.

When was the last time the Cherokee or Navajo conducted raids against civilians and US military forces here in the states?

This war is a generational thing, it will take time. Of course there are some that demand instant victory and instant satisfaction.
This is foolish and hurtfully for our cause.

6/13/2005 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

"By Other Means" indeed. Since Newsweek was pilloried for the Koran mishandling story, it seems the NYT has ratcheted up their opposition, they've come out of the closet and they are going to be in open and vicious opposition from now on.

It wouldn't be so bad if they (or the rest of the MSM) would run one story and say: "okay, we really are in a world war against a determined enemy with whom we can never come to a just peace. So, the way to win this thing is to...."

But that's never going to happen, our domestic opposition offers no positive alternatives, offers no thoughts beyond "war is bad, man."

It seems our best hope is to do what Rummy has been saying all along, provide the circumstances for Iraqi forces to defend their own country, and then we're going to get out of Dodge.

Unlike our late, lameneted Vietnamization strategy, at least in this case our side will be able to hold their own. I pray.

I hope it doesn't become what Desert Rat is warning us against, that we just pull out no matter what, based on the same domestic forces that lost Vietnam for us.

6/13/2005 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Chennaul said...

Great! I just saw jinnderella commenting at Winds of Change-and I am spelling her handle wrong.

[ya-I want that Kos.alt site-Heh.]

6/13/2005 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Chennaul said...


I think rat is saying define the finish line-not an easy task-but it would stop the rule of "rising expectations'...we can't solve Lebanon, Iran, AND Syria by the end of George Bush's watch-times up!

He only has a little more than three years left-and the way that McCain and Hagel and Lindsey Graham are navigating the "third way" Perot waters-

I don't think an heir appointed by Bush would win all that apparent.

6/13/2005 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

A war on terror is akin to taking out the garbage. It can be taken out to the curb, disposed of, but new accumulation will eventually need to be rounded up and put in its proper place. Why clean the house when it will only get dirty again? Because that is what civilized people do. When the administration says that this war is going to be a long slog, I think it is fair to say that is going to be an eternal slog, with a certain small percentage of the human race looking for new ways of bringing their life to a violent end. Guantanamo Bay would be paradise for the few and the foul.

The problem with this analogy is that the garbage tends to generate itself of its own accord and therefore could possibly be dissuaded from ensconcing itself in the way of those that would eliminate it. The filth knows where other filth lies too. The challenge will be to placate the reactive elements of the public while the garbage men go about the dull and perpetually thankless task of taking out the garbage. Parts of the house will require major demolition and remodeling from time to time but usually will require little more than routine maintenance.

Although it is difficult to assess the degree of deterrence that has been created, its effect cannot be ignored. One must catalog the cost of the war as its stands right now and ask themselves if it was worth it. Most importantly, perhaps, is whether the Iraqis themselves think it worth it, for the task will ultimately be theirs.

I believe that it was, is, and will continue to be.

6/13/2005 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

If Kosfester had been around during the Festive Season 1944-45 when this took palce,what would they have said,"The War Is unwinnable and will go on for ever,pull out now".

· Over a million men, 500,000 Germans, 600,000 Americans (more than fought at Gettysburg) and 55,000 British.

· 3 German armies, 10 corps, the equivalent of 29 divisions.

· 3 American armies, 6 corps, the equivalent of 31 divisions.

· The equivalent of 3 British divisions as well as contingents of Belgian, Canadian and French troops.

· 100,000 German casualties, killed, wounded or captured.

· 81,000 American casualties, including 23,554 captured and 19,000 killed.

· 1,400 British casualties 200 killed.

· 800 tanks lost on each side, 1,000 German aircraft.

The Germans offensive in the Ardennes Dec16 1944 - Jan 25 1945 had all the appearance of a breakthough,but although the Germans committed their best reserves ans King Tiger tanks it was the last gasp of a defeated Army.Only bad weather neutralised Allied air supremacy,German fuel reserves were low and the Red Army were at the gates of Berlin.
The Battle of the Bulge was the last throw of the dice for the Third Reich.a dying scorpian can still sting but it is still dead.

6/13/2005 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

From two previous threads:
Pierre Legrand said...
...How badly must the system already be broken for the press to allow something as horrendous as the sneaking subversion of freedom in Europe?

.What are the parallels here in the states? What are the conditions in Europe that have so hamstrung the press that they sit idly by while basic freedoms pass by on their way to the trash heap? Is it soley because of government ownership of the power of the press?

M. Simon said...
There is a difference between murder which can happen in any country in Europe and defeat.
Defeat is when the forces of democracy and self government give up.

I understand that the murder rate in Washington DC is about 80 per 100,000 per year. The murder rate for soldiers in Iraq is 60 per 100,000 per year.

Perhaps the Americans don't know that defeat is staring them in the face in their own capital. Perhaps you could send a note.

The MSM's chief weapon these days is touting casualties:

Think how worried people would be about getting in their cars if the nightly news spent hours each day reporting and analysing and rethinking each and every auto accident that day that resulted in 4 or more deaths.
...or the deaths refered to in Simon's post not only in DC, but LA, Oakland, Detroit, etc etc.

6/13/2005 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Harrywr2 said...

In other news -

via AlQueda propaganda site, AnSar Al Sunna and Al Queda have announced joint operations. It would appear to be a strategic shift from seperate but coordinated to joint operations.

6/13/2005 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Tony said,
"It wouldn't be so bad if they (or the rest of the MSM) would run one story and say: "okay, we really are in a world war against a determined enemy with whom we can never come to a just peace. So, the way to win this thing is to....""
No, of course not.
What they say is:
...only they yell louder and longer than that.

6/13/2005 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Doug wrote: "Think how worried people would be about getting in their cars if the nightly news spent hours each day reporting and analysing and rethinking each and every auto accident that day...."

If they did, it would just mean that Bush's evil friends in Detroit and Japan were not putting enough armor on the cars.

6/13/2005 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Jack Wayne said...

If you want to know when the Iraqi war will be over - it's simple. When most or all of the Sunnis are dead or in prison.

6/13/2005 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

To repeat Peter's post, the closer the end came in WWII, the higher the casualty rate. The final months were the 'killing months'. Then it was over.

6/13/2005 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Peter UK and Buddy,

The differences between the current situation on the ground in Iraq and the Ardenne ca 1944 are so stark that it caused me to miss a larger point.

The Germans were defeated when their capability to make war was destroyed. We killed them wholesale, and fire bombed their cities, at great cost to the Allies in blood and treasure.

I'm not advocating total war in Iraq, but your analogy makes it plain that victory will follow destruction of the terrorists capacity to make war. It will be expensive and bloody. Perhaps, we need to escalate operations.

Another historical analogy occurs, too. Patton wanted to finish the War in Moscow. Perhaps, Tehran via Damascus?

6/13/2005 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

My point was that a Kosfester commentator would have aduced from the Ardennes offensive that the German military machine still had the capability to wage war,it did but only once.
Although it was costly to both sides it was more costly to Germany.It was an ill judged and suicidal offensive and it was the last throw of the dice.

6/13/2005 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

If the USA has listened to Churchill and Patton, how many bad things would not have happened? Start with Korea, Vietnam, the GWoT, and all the gray generations that passed without a sound in East Europe.

6/13/2005 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Mannning said...

There is a key point here. Shiites are natural enemies of the Sunnis.
At some time the mostly Shiite army will be strong enough to wage total war of annihilation against the Sunnis. They are supposedly at 150 thousand effectives now, and will soon be at 200 thousand.

If we withdraw now, that total war would happen within months. If we withdraw a little later it becomes even more likely to happen a few months later.

If we scale back our presence too far, say from 150 thousand to 50 thousand or less, it will happen then within months.

So my conclusion is we either stay there at about the same levels of troops we now have to act as a break on Shiite desires and to reduce the insurgents "piecemeal" with the help of the growing Iraqi army, or the Sunnis will be wiped out, and the insurgency will be at a definite end.

A few more years of our presence would ensure a better-trained, combat experienced, even more numerous and more cohesive Iraqi force, and, hence, an even more likely bloodbath in the Sunni region, after the current gevernment tells us to leave.

It is no wonder that the Sunnis are not convinced to join the government wholeheartedly.

So when would you withdraw our forces?

6/13/2005 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

How did Bushitler pay off the Japs?
...or was it just a professional courtesy among Nazis?

6/13/2005 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

I don't think that's a likely possibility, but I could be shown wrong, of course. There are significant incentives to dissuade a Shiite majority in Iraq from perpetrating a Sunni genocide. Is some other, more limited persecution possible? Perhaps. Will there remain a mutual distrust? Certainly. But here's to hoping the Shiite majority understands where its long-term interests lie.

6/13/2005 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

We should make a list of what would have been required to "stop" the insurgency in Iraq as a means of answering the issue of "not planning" for it.
Wretchard might take a stab at outlining that task.
When I start making such a list - it is not a pretty list. It starts with ensuring the Tikriti Triangle gets nominated for an Emmy in the role of "Best Smoking Hole" followed by large prison camps set up in the middle of the desert with the entire Iraqi armed forces contained within along with all known Batthists and anyone who looks suspicious - followed by air attacks on suspected terrorist training camps in neighboring countries. And that is all just for starters. You get the idea.
And people now are complaining about Gitmo, for God's sake!
All "planning for the insurgency" would have done is give the Left a much longer, much nastier list of things to complain about.

6/13/2005 01:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My comments on this matter are at Liberating Iraq blog "Casualties and the Flow of battle":

A summary of my comment ...

Strategically, we are winning, we are on offense, there have been significant gains against insurgents in the past month, and Iraq is far better wrt the insurgency and its political and security stability than it was a mere 10 months ago.

I think we SHOULD care about the trendline of casualties as a key indicator of the flow of battle, but it's not the only one... I agree with Belmont that we are
"basically ascendant in every measurable military category."

If that is true, and if the Ardennes/Okinawa analogies are true, I'd predict 2 outcomes/events:
- Significant #s of Sunni insurgents give up within next 3 months
- Casualty rate goes down after some months (3 months), as terrorist network capability is degraded.
Taking out about 1,000 of the enemy in the past month alone suggests that the insurgency could not last past the end of the year as a significant force. So either the pace slackens, or the force is crushed.

6/13/2005 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...


Thanks for the plug.

I think I made a mistake. The figures should be per month.

6/13/2005 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Never do I recall hearing of a plan for a Federal Iraq prior to invasion. I recall that Iraq National Congress was to provide indig scouts for our troops, but that plan was nixed by the State Dept.
WMD threat and other threats to our allies and friends were discussed. Saddams funding, harboring and other working relationships with Terrorists put him high on the list of States Supporting Terror. His ouster has rendered all of those prewar goals complete. Victory has been achieved. Major Combat Operations are over.
We now have developed new goals for Iraq. These Goals are both ambitious and ambiguous. This is the reason that Public Support for the War is dropping like a spent .45 slug.
The lack of Goals or a Definition of Success leads to failure every time. Unless and until the Administration has developed a New Mission Statement that has achievable and distinct goals we will be at risk.
The only articulated post war Goals left, for the Iraqis and the Coalition is a written Constitution followed by elections in December. Then it is all theirs. If the US means or needs to stay longer than that we had better start making the case, today. If not, after they have the election the US role in the Iraqi Front of the War on Terror will be all but over. For good or ill.
There will be even less cause for public support of Military Operations after the Elections then there is today.

6/13/2005 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

Another of measure of how the battle is going is the attrition of opposing skill bases.The "insurgents" have a very finite skill base and cannot, as is posited renew this very easily.There may be many willing recruits but many are simply cannon fodder.The best they had have already seen contact with US troops,they did not prevail,the expertise gained in Afghanistan and Chechniya was not sufficient. They have not taken ground,they are not winning hearts and minds.
What is being seen here is similar to a protection racket,"We will protect you against our violence"
This approach can only bring destruction,it has no positive constructive aspect.The "insurgents" cannot risk the static position that constructiveness requires.
But,the "Insurgency" cannot let up now because violence is the only weapon left in their arsenal,without it they cease to exist.

6/13/2005 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

There are, as Rummy has said three distinct parts of the Opfor
1. The Insurgents, native Iraqis that are, for the most part Sunni Baathists.
2. Common Criminals, released by the Baathists prior to their ouster
3. the Jihadists, Young men from Saudi Arabia and other Mid Eastern nation states that come to Iraq to fight and die in the Holy War

Each portion of the Opfor will take a different skill set to defeat.
The keystone to the Iraqi Challenge is the Sunni Insurgents. If they can be bribed or otherwise convinced to join the Federals the rest of the War will quickly collapse into Police work and paramilitary ops

6/13/2005 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Maybe someone important reads Belmont Club or maybe we are seers of the future past

What goes Around
Comes Around

"TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's intelligence minister blamed Iranian Arab extremists Monday for violent protests and a spate of deadly bombings and claimed the ringleaders were connected to foreign intelligence services.
Four bombs in the southwestern city of Ahvaz killed eight people Sunday, and two more people were killed in explosions later in Tehran.

Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi said the bombers were Iranians based outside the country.

"We have proof of a link between these people outside Iran and some intelligence services in the world," Yunesi was quoted as saying by the official Islamic Republic News Agency. He did not identify the leaders of the protests or the intelligence services and stopped short of directly linking foreign hands to the bombings.

He said the Tehran bombings were not related to those in Ahvaz, the capital of oil-rich Khuzestan province, bordering Iraq.

"These explosions (in Tehran) were carried out by amateurs, without a clear goal. In the Khuzestan incidents ... it was a well defined operation with a clear goal. It was a professional operation," he said.

On Sunday, an Iranian security official blamed the bombings – the deadliest in Iran in more than a decade – on supporters of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The New Insugency

This tune is Music to my Ears
Play it again, Uncle Sam

6/13/2005 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

rwe said, "All "planning for the insurgency" would have done is give the Left a much longer, much nastier list of things to complain about."

Amen. Victor Davis Hanson has made this same point often: locking down Iraq with a heavy-handed occupation may have prevented things like widespread looting after the fall of Baghdad, but the price we'd pay in the media's non-stop show trial of the United States may have been far more damaging. So, too, with military police on every street corner and salting the earth around Falluja.

I used to think smothering Iraq with resources and turning it into an unassailable showpiece, a la Japan, Germany or South Korea, would have shut up the Left. But now, I also realize that the culture of dependency cultivated during Iraq's long nightmare with dictatorship needed to be broken quickly -- that Iraqis would need to do the hard work themselves, the better to make them want to protect what they'd built.

One other observation: while I've reached back to the Barbary pirates campaign and WWII in order to understand this war, the slow pacification of the American West may hold interesting parallels for what's happening in Iraq, as well.

6/13/2005 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

For obvious reasons,it isn't a good idea to go there.

6/13/2005 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Doug asked: "How did Bushitler pay off the Japs?
...or was it just a professional courtesy among Nazis?"

They were all in Skull & Bones togther at Yale. Either that, or the Trilateral Commission is pulling the strings, as Chomsky would have it.

6/13/2005 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Rwe posits: "We should make a list of what would have been required to "stop" the insurgency in Iraq as a means of answering the issue of "not planning" for it."

For starters, do a search and replace for "Hiroshima and Nagasaki" with "Kandahar and Tora Bora."

Then translate "Linebacker I and Linebacker II" to "Desert Fox I and Desert Fox II" - and do them immediately on 9/11/01.

The striped-pants brigade would be in Paris by Christmas, 2001, talking Peace, eating croissants, sipping café américain.

And any country thinking of taking on the "Paper Tiger" would be having crises of courage.

6/13/2005 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Desert Rat,

Wait, when you say "The only articulated post war Goals left, for the Iraqis and the Coalition is a written Constitution followed by elections in December. Then it is all theirs. If the US means or needs to stay longer than that we had better start making the case, today. If not, after they have the election the US role in the Iraqi Front of the War on Terror will be all but over." ... you are forgetting one other legacy of Okinawa. That's where the Blackbirds fly from, that's still a strategic military base.

We pulled out of Saudi, but we haven't yet pulled out of Okinawa, Germany, Korea - we're not going to actually evacuate Iraq. ANOTHER major difference with Vietnam. There won't be any helicopters flying off the roof of the Green Zone.

Domestic politics may weaken our offense, but our defense will not be let down again as far as it was in the '90's or '70's. I pray.

6/13/2005 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I think that there will be a large equipment and logistical depot set up at the air bases in the western desert. There will be an enforced Brigade or Light Division sized unit there. There will be SF types acting as Air Controllers and advisors to the Iraqi troops.
Total deployment by December '06, my guess, under 50,000 closer to 35,000.

6/13/2005 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

That's right. Conviently forward deployed with the message on the gate; "Don't call unless you really want things broken and people killed".

6/13/2005 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I agree doug but remember, in
Germany, Korea we never engaged the enemy after we established our presence. We never moved offensively from those bases to confront a foe. They were defensive outposts.
Following that analogy will not win us the peace, it will just prolong the misery.

6/13/2005 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Huan said...

the combat aspect of iraq is largely an attrition process meant to buy political time for the iraqi, thus the casualty rate is not particularly useful without a cocommitant analysis of the iraqi political process.

war is a mean to achieve a political end.

6/13/2005 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

Desert Rat,
The bases in Germay and Korea were the frontline with a new foe,there was the
capability to engage this enemy.
The Berlin Airlift was a demonstration of this and was very near out and out conflict.If there had been no nuclear weapons this might have been the case.

6/13/2005 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger Abakan said...

Yay! Thanks Huan, I was about to lose all hope.

I don't think I can find more clearly articulated goals, strategies, and objectives than those established nearly 8 months before the hostilites began.

It would be even harder to show a historical case for the speed and success at which those objectives have been met.

I often wonder when I hear complaints about how ill defined this war has been just what would be required to satisfy those who still at this point require more definition.


Just suppose that we had from the begin outlined the entire process, targeted to the level of the average 9th grade level of reading comprehension, that included daily or monthly projections of casualities, daily rates of expenditures, and the recruitments rates of military service for the duration of our pacification, occupation, and reconstruction phases.
Would that have been enough?

I'm always left wondering why in the world anyone would think that Victory in Iraq would require the end to all death by insurgents and radical jihadists.

Will an Iraqi Constitution creating a representative democracy founded on Islamic principles be enough to quiet the dissent? Probably not.

Will Victory be widely heralded after political inclusion of the Sunni Minority? Probably not.

We will be in Iraq in some fashion for decades. This will be someones measure of our defeat. It doesn't matter how clearly we defined the objectives, because some people are delusional, and unreachable.

6/13/2005 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I think you must have been responding to Tony there 'Rat, but accidentally put in the other four letter word that starts with "D."
I'm a little confused by that 5:42pm post.
What specifically would prolong our agony?

I definitely agree with Tony and Peter and a bunch of well known Neocons that having a potent presence out in the desert for a Long time is a good thing, not only for Iraq, but for the entire area.
I'm sure our little illegal nuke tipped missile bases in Korea gave lots of second thoughts to many a commie dreamer.
The kind of high tech intel we can obtain for ourselves and provide to the Iraqis and others is just one example.
Having armed predators at the ready maintains that high touch capability that eats on the minds of the great Jihadi leaders.
And the entire base represents an almost instant reach out and touch ability for both Syria and Iran
Red River Said
"The daily killing of Muslims plays into the Coalition hands. This is extremely corrosive for the insurgency. Its the equivalent of spray and pray."
49erDweet said...
Leftist blogs continue to 'whistle in the dark' while rapturing over supposed kill ratio numbers that 'prove' anything and everything.
(Shouldn't it be treason to desire your own country suffer defeat)
It is Treasonous of you to suggest you doubt their patriotism in the least, Dweet.
Dissent is a cherished right:
to hope for our defeat goes beyond the normal call of duty and should be given the highest respect.
First and foremost thank them for taking the time and effort to act out on their patriotic ferver..
exhelodrvr said...
I don't think that the numbers of jihadists are high enough that their loss will threaten the middle class of their native countries.
I think the bigger question is how many of the middle class in their native countries support the jihadist ideals, and what will they next turn their energies to?
RWE said...
We should make a list of what would have been required to "stop" the insurgency in Iraq as a means of answering the issue of "not planning" for it.
Wretchard might take a stab at outlining that task.
When I start making such a list - it is not a pretty list.
It starts with ensuring the Tikriti Triangle gets nominated for an Emmy in the role of "Best Smoking Hole.

I think if some of those things had taken place right at the beginning when we were getting positive coverage from the embeds, and there was kind of a win the war fever, the outrage would have been pretty well masked.
We rubbled quite a few areas in the first few months, and it was still a popular war.
Certainly large number of folks in and immediately around Tikrit deserved whatever fate poured down on them from our arsenal.
Had the Turks not kept the 4ID out, things would have been better from the start.

6/14/2005 03:04:00 AM  
Blogger The Apologist said...

Here is the text of the "dead link" - it worked for me- hope this helps.

Posted on Wed, Jun. 01, 2005

Casualties from Iraq insurgency up in May


Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi civilian deaths in May from the insurgency increased nearly a third from the previous month, a Health Ministry official said Wednesday.

Separately, an Interior Ministry official said 151 police were killed in May, compared with 86 in April, up 75 percent. He added that at least 325 policemen were wounded in May, compared with 131 in April.

Dr. Sabah al-Araji of the Health Ministry said 434 civilians were killed in May, up from 299 killed in April.

Some 775 civilians also were wounded last month, compared with 598 in April, al-Araji said. The figures were based on people's identity cards and other documentation.

A Defense Ministry official said 85 Iraqi soldiers were killed in May, compared with 40 in April. Another 79 soldiers were wounded, compared with 63 in April, he said.

The increases coincide with the April 28 announcement of Iraq's new Shiite-led government, which was followed by a wave of violence - particularly suicide attacks - believed launched by Sunni insurgents targeting Iraqi security forces and civilians.

It was unclear if the three ministries were working with the same set of data.

A separate count by The Associated Press since April 28 puts the number of slain Iraqi civilians and security personnel, as well as American troops, at 765, with 261 insurgents killed. The figure of 765 dead includes 66 U.S. military personnel, two British soldiers and two U.S. contractors killed in insurgent-related violence.

Defense Ministry spokesman Radhi Badir, who has been collating the figures of insurgents killed in Iraq, told the AP that more than 260 insurgents were killed in May.

"The figure is more than 260, especially if you consider the 125 killed in Qaim and those killed in Haditha and the many suicide bombings this month," Badir said.

He was referring to two U.S. military operations, dubbed Matador and New Market, in and around the western Iraqi cities of Qaim and Haditha last month aimed at rooting out insurgents allied to Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The military said 125 insurgents were killed in Qaim and 14 in Haditha. U.S. officials said there were at least 66 suicide bombers last month.

The largest police attacks included Monday's twin-suicide bomb attack that killed at least 27 policemen and wounded 118 in Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad. Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack.

The government has never released an overall inclusive figure for Iraqi deaths.

6/14/2005 05:00:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Prolonged misery = A long war of attrition in which we hold Defensive positions that are sniped and harassed by the Jihadists. A Phase that is niether War nor Peace. If we do not achieve Victory.... Misery

6/14/2005 05:52:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

But an offensive Bastion in the Desert is a Good Thing, Right?

6/14/2005 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Yeah, but we will have to give the cities to the indigs.
The 2nd ID did not Police Korean cities or arrest Koreans that rioted in opposition the S. Korean Government, at least during my tour. Neither did we chase the Baader-Meinhof gang with the 3rd Armor Div in Germany. When the Red Brigade was on its rampage in Italy, the 501st Airborne did not mobilize from its' Italian base.
In Iraq after their elections, we should follow a similar path. It is their country, let them figure it out. If the Opfor were to mass in combat formations our SF FACs could always call down the thunder in support of our Allies.

6/14/2005 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

I Corps here.
The guys that actually did something (not counting the poor grunts working on 6x6's in the Korean winter) tended missiles w/ non existent nuke warheads.
I guess even in their non existent state, they performed good duty.

6/14/2005 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger JD said...

Just finished 3 months in Fallujah as an embedded reporter with the Regimental Heavey Combined Arms Team. (Heading back next week for 4 more months)

You and Greg are both wrong.

6/14/2005 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger yahoo said...


6/15/2005 01:26:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Jd wrote: "You and Greg are both wrong."

Please, who and what are you referring to?

6/15/2005 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger David Simon said...

Either submit and become dhimmi or fight the marauder. No other choices exist. Pulling back in order to re-trench is a plausible strategy. Unfortunately most people advocating pulling back intend that as a first step toward serious downsizing of the military. Their motto is that resistance is futile. They intend to become dhimmi.

6/15/2005 03:01:00 PM  

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