Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Oil Spots and Maneuver

Bing West in Slate describes USMC patrols in Fallujah, a place where roles have been reversed. "Ten months ago, Fallujah exported suicide bombers on a weekly basis. Now, the terrorists try to sneak suicide bombers into the city." That doesn't mean there's no danger left. A relatively small number of enemy still remain -- "scattered cells" according to West -- but they no longer have the sting they once packed. They will start almost no firefights with American troops. They'll still try to plant IEDs in the dark of night, but half of all IEDs are spotted before they are detonated.

One reason for this American ascendancy lies in their growing experience. Marine battalion commander Lt. Col. Joseph L'Etoile in Fallujah is on his third tour of Iraq and half of his men are on their second tour. Although the troops may not know much about Iraq despite being there, "the battalion's re-enlistment goals for 2005 had already been exceeded", possibly because they have not had to the opportunity to read newspapers informing them how things are going from bad to worse.

To catch insurgents laying IEDs by night L'Etoile ordered 96-hour patrols all along the highway. 

(For four straight days 24x4=96) dozens of Marines scoured the palm groves, checking farms and back roads, thinking like guerrillas about hide sites and escape routes. At night, the Marines moved to their own hide sites, sent out night patrols, got up in the morning and moved on, usually startling farmers accustomed to seeing Americans only on the roads.

Spotting one group of insurgents emplacing an 800-lb IED on the highway, a 26 man Marine patrol surrounded them then closed in. Taken by surprise the digger and his armed guard fled right into a blocking force and died in a lopsided exchange.

The Slate article goes on to describe the key aspects of keeping a town secure and expanding the zone of security -- what some have called the "oil spot" strategy. It consists in identifying all the residents with identification cards and keeping a close watch on any new faces who may enter town, a process denounced in virtually all Leftist literature as establishing "strategic hamlets". 

L'Etoile next visited a registration center where military-aged males lined up to be issued the ID cards required in the city. Through these separate pieces -- patrols, check points, identification cards -- L'Etoile was putting into effect the essentials of counterinsurgency in an urban setting: First, establish a zone cleared by heavy force (this occurred in November), then cordon off the zone, patrol constantly, do not permit civilians to possess weapons, identify the residents, and arrest the remaining insurgents.

West notes the relationship between "oil spots" and wider operations designed to destroy major enemy bases and concentrations. He uses the word "cleared by heavy force" because "oil spots" can exist only in an environment free of major enemy units. The 96-hour patrols involving small units would have been impossible with large enemy formations on the loose. To have dispatched 26-man patrols in April 2004, with thousands of insurgents in Fallujah, would be tantamount to sending them to their death. After the place had been "cleared" of major enemy units the small patrols became possible.

In places where the enemy is still present in strength and small patrols unable to sneak up on them, other methods must be used. Bill Roggio describes precision strikes in Qaim, on the Syrian border, which eliminated the new al Qaeda Emir in the area just days after similar attacks had killed the old one.

The Coalition continues to conduct targeted strikes on al Qaeda in the Qaim region along the Syrian border. A safe house in the town of Al 'Ushsh, which is about two miles from Qaim, was destroyed. Abu Nasir, who according to CENTCOM was believed to be "a senior al Qaeda in Iraq foreign fighter facilitator and the alleged new al Qaeda in Iraq Emir of Karabilah" was among an estimated twenty terrorists killed in the attack. Abu Nasir's tenure as al Qaeda Emir of the Qaim region was short-lived. He follows in the footsteps of Abu Ali, who was confirmed killed during a targeted airstrike in Haditha on September 18. Command in the Qaim region, like that in the Mosul region, is becoming a difficult job to retain.

Analysts who talk about the 'unstoppable IED' should consider the problems posed to the enemy by the American precision strike, which is in its way the rival "weapon from hell". If a modified cell phone represents a detonator to a triggerman lying in wait for an American target, a regular cell phone in the hands of an Iraqi working for American intelligence is a means to rain down certain destruction on any safehouse, hideout or enemy installation. The defense against IEDs, while difficult, is a known quantity: route surveillance, snipers scanning the roads, the "96 hour" patrols of Lt. Col. Joseph L'Etoile, electronic countermeasures, vehicle armor, etc. But difficult as these are, the defense against precision strikes is far harder because it requires preventing any unvetted person from viewing your movements. Abu Nasir, the late Emir of the Qaim region, may have had twenty or more bodyguards or companions with him; but they simply perished with him because his security measures failed to prevent some person, perhaps a man in the employ of America, perhaps someone with a grudge against him, perhaps even a rival in his own organization from making a cell phone call which brought down a guided weapon on his head. (It's a little more complex than that because verification is required before the strike, and positioning coordinates established, but the principle holds). The insurgents too must maintain their oilspot, by patrols, checkpoints and identity controls -- not to prevent a man with a truckful of explosive from entering their haunts -- but to keep the man with the cellphone or miniaturized American radio in his pocket from reporting on them. Defending against an IED means interdicting a physical object of several tens of pounds; defending against a precision strike means embargoing information. It's hard to defend against a precision strike.

But the worst of it is the wastage to cadres. Those who write that body counts are a meaningless metric to apply against the insurgency ignore the fact that formations which sustain heavy casualties lose their organizational memory while those who suffer lightly retain them. Lt. Col. Joseph L'Etoile is on his third and half of his men are on their second tours of Iraq . For Abu Nasir and many of his foreign fighters, the memory of what to avoid next time has been lost on this, their last tour of Iraq.


Blogger wretchardthecat said...

I'd like to ask all commenters to observe basic rules of civility. The threads have been getting a little wild and wooley lately.

9/27/2005 02:33:00 AM  
Blogger TigerHawk said...

Your post actually describes the two separate approaches we are adopting in Iraq. We have fused traditional "oil spot" or "ink blot" counterinsurgency strategy with the "search and destroy" tactics that allegedly failed in the first years in Vietnam (if, for example, you believe Max Boot's book on small wars and others). Lt. Col. L'Etoile is spreading his oil spot, but the air strikes al Qaeda that you describe were perfected by Israel and are the thinking man's "search and destroy" operation of 1966. Some critics of the current conduct of the war (see Kenneth Pollack's Senate testimony here) believe that success against Iraq's insurgency requires use of the oil spot tactic exclusively, at least given American force levels. The problem with the Pollack's well-articulated argument is that it leaves no opportunity to pick off al Qaeda's force structure.

The way I look at this, then, the "oil spot" strategy is critical for securing Iraq and ultimately defeating the insurgency. But we have an additional objective, which is the specific humiliation and destruction of that portion of the insurgency that identifies itself as al Qaeda in Iraq. So yes, we must secure all the Fallujahs and that requires oil spots that spread, but we also have to humiliate the enemy that specifically declared war on us almost a decade ago. In that regard, traditional counterinsurgency tactics are not nearly as useful as the "search and destroy" operations that destroyed Abu Nasir.

9/27/2005 03:42:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

One would hope the body counts might represent a deterrent to recruiting also, but maybe not yet?

If our guys could stop socializing, watching DVDs, writing home and the like, and start paying more attention to the NEWS, maybe they could overcome that deficiency of not knowing much about Iraq despite being there, thus allowing them to make better informed choices regarding their careers.
We can hope, or at least some of "us" who support the Troops but not the cause can hope for such an outcome.

9/27/2005 03:43:00 AM  
Blogger StoutFellow said...

Those who write that body counts are a meaningless metric to apply against the insurgency ignore the fact that formations which sustain heavy casualties lose their organizational memory while those who suffer lightly retain them.

Those same writers assiduously include a body count of American forces as the tag line for every article that they write from their Baghdad hotel room. I recall someone in the MSM stating early on in OIF that they were not going to serve as a cheerleading squad for the American military. Those of us who support OIF/GWOT will happily settle for some real journalism like the Slate article or Michael Yon's pieces. In each case, no cheerleading is needed. Simple reporting reveals admirable qualities of the US fighting forces - our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and children.

As for institutional memory, the problem is only getting worse for the insurgency.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A man believed to be al Qaeda's No. 2 operative in Iraq has been killed, a U.S. Defense Department official confirmed to CNN.

Abu Azzam was a "significant" figure in the al Qaeda network in Iraq, the official said.

Next thing you know they will have to resort to killing teachers and terrorizing school children.

9/27/2005 03:46:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

StoutFellow said...
"Those who write that body counts are a meaningless metric to apply against the insurgency
Those same writers that assiduously include a body count of American forces as the tag line for every article that they write from their Baghdad hotel room.
That is to preserve the symmetry in reportage overseas and on the domestic front, where the same reporters who damned Bush for not visiting the Katrina area often enough are the same reporters that now criticize Bush for visiting New Orleans/Houston too often.

9/27/2005 04:11:00 AM  
Blogger goesh said...

The terrorists have killed so many civilians who have large, extended families that more and more people are willing to report their presence and activities - a simple matter of retribution. I have alwasy suscribed to the flypaper theory. There is no telling the number of jihadi field commanders, the equivalent of our senior NCOs and junior officers, that have been killed in Iraq. These dead men leave often leave families with no means of support. It must be demoralizing to have Uncle Mohammed go off to fight Americans and never return - no body comes home, no insurance check, no word or inkling of how he died, no funeral, no letters to cherish, no future income. They glorify his martyr status with empty bellies which fiery rhetoric cannot fill, and the Americans remain.

9/27/2005 04:39:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

StoutFellow, yeah, right: Gunmen Kill Five Shiite Teachers in Iraq

9/27/2005 05:17:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Sometime between that cell call and when it's too late.

9/27/2005 05:52:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


Crazy isn't it? The Emir would probably have been safer with one bodyguard, because physical protection is useless against guided weapons; only information denial could have shielded him. The score of bodyguards made him that much easier to spot. But then having one bodyguard makes him easier to snatch and vulnerable to the random gangs native to lawless places. There are tradeoffs.

So you adapt, as Hamas leaders have adapted, by wearing disguises on your way to the meet, which becomes less and less a commander's conference than furtive contact between agent and handler. Or you hook up in a moving vehicle but that doesn't always work because the Hellfire can hit mobile targets and the JDAM is being adapted to do the same.

9/27/2005 06:20:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

If another barometer of the state of affairs in Iraq is needed, one need only have looked toward D.C. this past weekend.
Certain People like to use Vietnam analogies, but one we should consider was the violent reaction of the Anti-War Left to our most effective military actions in Vietnam. The more devastating to the enemy, the more violent was the reaction in this country.
The same thing is happening today. Effective operations and undeniable progress in Iraq clearly spurs the Left to action over here. In teh case of Vietnam, we eventually found out that we were not poking one animal and seeing another react; we were poking the same animal.
It sure looks like the same phenomenoa today.

9/27/2005 06:23:00 AM  
Blogger buck smith said...

Great post Wretchard with a great final sentence...

9/27/2005 06:24:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

That would make a great Verizon commercial. "Can you hear me now?"

9/27/2005 06:34:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

gmat link above:
"In the next two years, in my opinion, the U.S. will have established the kind of presence in Iraq and Afghanistan that will enable us to wage the long-term war on Islamic terrorism that George Bush had in mind when, right after 9/11, he warned about the need for the American people to be prepared to fight a very long war.

During the Cold War the U.S. ringed the Soviet Union with bases in countries all over the Northern Hemisphere. That encirclement drove the Soviet leadership to fits of apoplexy and, occasionally, to very foolish foreign ventures.

During this war we won't be on the fringes of Islam. We will be in Iraq. We will be right in the heart of Islam. Right in the midst of the enemy who would kill us all. And, when the realization of that sinks in, the American people will finally know why we went to war in Iraq."
Hopefully they have better service than Verizon.
Just Kidding, I'm satisfied.

9/27/2005 06:43:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

It would be funny, if it weren't so sad.

"... usually startling farmers accustomed to seeing Americans only on the roads ..."

That is now the American way.
Road Hunting.
Have seen that during deer season. "Hunters" driving up and down the road, hoping the deer jump out in front of the truck. Always makes me laugh.
The "country" being to "rough" to walk, for most city/ suburb dwellers. Not to tough for the deer, though.
To bad it took 2.5 years to learn how to really hunt, in Iraq.

A 26 man patrol foot patrol is a lot safer, even in Indian Country than driving, in convoy, without being allowed to enforce a Security Zone around that convoy.
That is one reason why the car bombs and IED are were so effective. Routes of transit are well known, the intersections & kill zones well defined.
Finally we are beginning to utilize the natives, getting out of the vehicles and off the roads.
Better late than never.

9/27/2005 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

thxs for the Walsh link, an interesting read.

9/27/2005 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

What is the cloak of invisibility that's protecting Zaqawari himself? Either he's not in Iraq any more, but is over the line in Syria, or he's found some way around not being seen and pinpointed by civilian Iraqi's. He was supposed to have been wounded several months ago, so in addition to being obvious because of the flow of people to and from him, he's also probably got limited mobility and/or some kind of medical attention being directed to him.

In other words, he's had exactly the same set of conditions to deal with as bin Laden, yet we can't seem to find either one of them.

9/27/2005 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

the "oil spot" approach sounds like what my pal bibi has said for years... drain the swamp...

9/27/2005 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


I don't presume to know the answer to your question, but you may recall that there was a great deal of discussion in British intelligence during the later part of World War 2 over whether or not it was advisable to asassinate Hitler, even if the chance presented itself. The case against killing Hitler rested on the fact that he was, by that time, a known loser. They had his measure. As long as Hitler remained in charge of the OKW, Germany would continue on its way to defeat. Change him and anything could happen.

I don't mean to say that this consideration is actually protecting Zarqawi, but I've observed elsewhere that his policies have made it impossible to create a Sunni-Shi'ite united front against America; and were it possible to eliminate him this minute -- would you?

9/27/2005 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

damn right you eliminate him.
the arrogance of power, that we could strike, but choose to leave the enemy in place, to "use" them leads to defeat here at home.

pc^killer made that same argument about Osama. Does not hold water better for you and Z than it does for pc & Osama.
The Able Danger boys could not track Mohammed Atta on a day to day basis, the FBI could not survail each of his contacts. The CIA did not pass data on other of Atta's team members, coming to US from the Phillipines.
No great loss though, we could have rolled up his network anytime we wanted.
Any time before 11 September 2001, that is.

9/27/2005 07:28:00 AM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

rat - "..but choose to leave the enemy in place, to "use" them leads to defeat here at home."
translation: war-fighting strategy must be circumscribed by any feckless defeatism on the home-front.
not so sure about that. i'd say the white house/pentagon have been willing to take a fair amount of heat 'in the polls' in order to do the right thing: win.

9/27/2005 07:41:00 AM  
Blogger Harrywr2 said...

"Why no Zarqawi or OBL"

Almost all organizations function on Middle Management, if the chairman of GM doesn't show up for work, cars keep getting made.

In terms of replacability, the Top of the Heap, and Bottom of the Heap are the easiest to replace.

The biggest challenge in building the Iraqi Army isn't fresh recuits, it is building an NCO and Junior Officer Cadre.

Capturing Zarqawi and OBL are important in a political sense. However, the short run political gain of having "Captured" the other sides leader is quickly forgotten when the other side keeps on fighting.(Everything would be better if Saddam was captured...oops)

Decimate the middle management, then capture the top guy.

9/27/2005 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Wretchard: I presume that you saw this past weekend's TV presentation on The History Channel (or maybe it was Discovery) on a British plan to kill Hitler. It covered the options considered and described the final plan devised: use of a sniper in a German uniform.
The experts of the time and those of today agree that the war would have ended much sooner, perhaps right after Hitler was killed in Jan 1944 and certainly not later than the end of that year.
I thought not the eternal question of whether Hitler was an asset to Germany or one to the Allies but rather, what ending the war in such a way would have had on the peace. While it is true that a 1944 end to the war in Europe would have saved the lives of many, and perhaps even kept the Soviets out of much of Eastern Europe, the way the war did end brought home to ardent Nazis and ordinary Germans alike that they had been well and truly beaten. They could do little else than look on the Allies with respect if not outright admiration.
The line attributed to Ghengis Kahn (and Conan) comes to mind, that of the satisfaction of seeing your enemies crushed and hearing the wails of their women. Perhaps we don't need that kind of victory to be satisfied, but maybe THEY do.

9/27/2005 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

There is NO ONE in either Iraq or Pakistan or Afghanistan who can step into the "PR Legend" that Osama has built.
The same holds true for Z in Western MSM.

If it is by command decision that we leave Osama and Z on the 'street' those that made it a guilty of criminal negligence, if those KNOWN Terrorist Commanders are involved in the death or destruction of any target anywhere in the World.

If it is true that we have them in our sights, and let them live, to track Osama's or Z's couriers. Well, if it became public knowledge, the political firestorm would ensue would ensure the loss of US Public support for the Administrations continued "War".

The Democrats would get their shot, for sure. They wouldn't be percieved as possibly doing worse, for US.

9/27/2005 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I could not imagine doug arguing the "Pro" 9-11 Commissioner Jamie Gorlick position.
Her "Wall" would be nothing, compared to knowingly allowing Osama to run free in the mountains of Central Asia.

9/27/2005 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

It depends on where Zarqawi is.

If he is in Syria, then do we go after him?

There is no fast and hard rule on taking him or any other leader out. If letting someone run takes you to others, then let them run.

One can see in each operation the intent behind it. Dropping a JDAM says volumes as does a shootout in Baghdad about the Coalition intent and estimation of someone's worth.

A bomb is dropped on fighters, a leader is taken alive if possible.

Wretchard in som many words makes the point that every person with a cell phone becomes a sensor in the shooter matrix. General Franks talked about how every soldier was linked to the shooter matrix. So - this analogy has been extended out to all people.

9/27/2005 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

As a further example of red river statement, it was local input, by cell phone, that allowed Pablo Escobar to be taken down.

If Z is in Syria, he is no longer a Combatant. That is offical US Policy. There are no Combatants in Syria. We are not engaged in a Regional War.

In the GWoT, I'd assume Z is "Wanted". It seems the GWoT has already evolved into a Police/ Criminal investigation. Just like the War on Drugs.

So our efforts in Iraq and the "Global War" really ARE just a big Police effort, captured prisoners are released by revolving door Judges, Gangs are left to rule their "turf" and we persue selective prosecutions.

It's to bad the War on Drugs is a failure, with dope still sold on the corner and used in US High Schools. Oh well.

9/27/2005 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

I'm glad the Marines haven't heard this news: “That final battle of the war in Iraq was lost in New Orleans when Bush showed up three days after Katrina.”

9/27/2005 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

It is interesting that our Armed Forces are being devolved into a Police Force. Both in US and Iraq.

With Mr Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, saying, as he did on 20 September, that "...“I don’t think there is a big need for military activity in Afghanistan
anymore," ... "

When he says
"..."The use of air power is something that may not be very
effective now because we have moved forward. And similarly, going into the Afghan homes -- searching Afghan homes without the authorization of the Afghan
government -- is something that should stop now. No coalition forces should go into Afghan homes without the authorization of the Afghan government. The Afghan
government is now capable of doing that. The Afghan society is now better organized [and] can handle things like that better than it could a year or two years ago. That’s what I mean by a change of strategy.” ..."

“Go fight somewhere else”

Even Afghanistan.

9/27/2005 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Mr Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan now agrees with Ms. Pelosi's statement from last June.
"... "I assume that the war in Afghanistan is over, or is the contention that you have that it continues?" she said to a reporter.
A few moments later, she said: "This isn't about the duration of the war. The war in Afghanistan is over."

The President of Afghanistan and the Minority Leader of the US House of Representitives agree.
The War in Afghanistan is over.
Soon the War in Iraq will be over as well.

The GWoT will be homeless.

9/27/2005 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

desert rat, forgive me, but it seems you have no capacity to appreciate the need for Karzai to make public statement necessitated by the maneuvering of forces below him.

You consume and eat this stuff whole, when it is basic political posturing on his part. I think you are wrong to do so. Assuming we have a very definite bead on UBL and Zarqawi, bully for us! And to assert criminality in holding off on killing them seems irresponsible to me. Exploit, exploit, exploit.

In fact, I'm in part convinced that the incessant Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party carping about "why no UBL capture" is all part of a strategy to force us to show our hand.

I like what President Bush has consistently maintained: we will deal with these fools at a time and place of our choosing.

You damn skippy!

9/27/2005 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

rat - i don't mean to pick a fight but doesn't your 7.59 post portray two basic pillars of clinton/kerry thinking: (1) micro-managing the military command, and (2) running a war by electoral poll? Your subsequent posts also seem to portray another: the tendency to declare yourself right based on highly attenuated 'evidence'.

9/27/2005 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...


I believe that the US is ill govermed by a strategy of "winks & nods".
I believe what Presidents say.
Ours & Theirs.
Do you take Iran's President at his word?
I do. They will be building their Nuke Program.
Do you take Mugambe at his word?
I do, they will continue to "disposses" his opponents.
Do you believe President Jalal Talabani of Iraq when he says we are engaged in an Iraqi Civil War?
I do.
Do you believe Bush & Blair?
or are they liars, too?

9/27/2005 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The GWoT was declared, by President Bush, as being against those using Terror as a weapon and those "States" that sponsor Terror..
The list of those combatants is almost endless.
The primary Nation Sates, Syria and Iran are unmolested.
No War there.
The "Headliners" of the opposition are militarily unmolested.
I believe Porter Goss.
If we did not know Osama's location then to pursue other targets is acceptable, to me.
If we DO know where Osama is, and we leave him to continue his plots and plans, that is unacceptable, to me.
The opportunities for US incompetence is to great.
Somalia, USS Cole and 9-11 and Tora Bora are proof enough of that.

If, after 3 years we have lost focus on our real enemies, it should be noted.

Terrorist trainees from Jordon, KSA and Syria, killed in Tel Afar are not the dangers to my future grandchildren that should be primary on a realistic target list.

9/27/2005 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

off topic...

Hamas releases Zarqawi-style CD Rom of kidnapped Israeli Sasson Nuriel before his murder.


Very interesting that Hamas is doing this at the same time trying to look legit in the eyes of the world in "elections" coming up in January.....

Once again i think this will show hamas's and the palestinian national movement to be nothing more than murderers not nation building...

sorry for the off topic, this man named Sasson Nuriel was murdered by hamas... he deserves some attention since the MSM only keeps saying how hamas is so wonderful...

9/27/2005 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

from the WaPo's David Ignatius
"...The commanders' thinking is conveyed by a set of "Principles for a Long War" for combating the main enemy, al Qaeda and affiliated movements. Among the precepts they discussed here: "use the indirect approach" by working with Iraqi and other partner forces; "avoid the dependency syndrome" by making the Iraqis take responsibility for their own security and governance; and "remove the perception of occupation" by reducing the size and visibility of American forces. ..."
" ... Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who commands U.S. troops in Iraq. "The sooner we can shift [to Iraqi security forces] the better." Casey explains: "A smaller U.S. footprint, that is allowed to decline gradually as Iraqi forces get stronger, actually helps us." ..."


Which is just what President Bush has said.

A counter insurgency IS A police effort. Iraq's, more so than others. Our Poicy is not to raze Insurgent areas. Tikrit, Mosul and even Fallujah are all still functional cities. No masses of Refugees, no displaced persons, no resettlements.
Suspects are spotted, detained and released to fight again.
Read Mr Yon.

9/27/2005 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Rem870 said...

Cedarford said, Getting Binnie would be satisfying as long as he is not immediately surrounded by 20 Jewish lawyers from the ACLU and 10 sweet-talking Southern Lawyers committed to making his trial a 5-year long indictment of America the Evil.

So, now you are going after Southerners, too? You might want to rethink that position.

9/27/2005 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

andrew k
The Mohammedan Mahdi Hordes are those foreign fighters in Iraq, a few thousand at best.
They are the in the KSA, Iran and Pakistan. In the Sudan members of the Mohammedan Horde have been killing African Christians, for years, enough for US to declare it Genocide.
The 300,000 armed men reported to be in Warzistan do, I think, constitute part of the Horde. They have been more than a match, so far, for the Pakistani National Army. They also have repulsed some US efforts to infiltrate their area.
In Malaysia and the Philipines they control large swaths of countryside. In Thailand there seems to be almost constant bloodshed, by members of the Horde.
Look to Chechnya, Georgia and Uzbeckistan and you'll also find portions of the Mohammedan Horde.

Some of the Mohammedan Horde is unarmed, today, much like the invaders that cross the US's southern frontier, averaging 6,000 infiltraters per night.

Iraq is but a minor Front in a Major War.

9/27/2005 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

We all know that individuals can have NO effect on War. The outcomes, of course, are preordained. Either allah's will or US omnipotence decides all.

From the tales of Hector and Achilles, individuals have always made a difference.

In David McCullough's 1776 he makes the case that if Washington had been lost in the New York Campaign, which almost occurred, the US Revolution would have been lost with him.

To argue the Brits were better off watching Washington and tracking his couriers than they would have been with him dead, is nuts.

When "Stonewall" was shot, the Confederates were not unaffected.

After Kasserine Pass, Patton's taking command of USII Corps was vital to the US Army's future Victories.

The second string is usually just that, for a reason.

9/27/2005 12:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is inconceivable that any order would go out down the U.S. chain of command to spare the life of bin Laden or Zarqawi. U.S. troops would be outraged and confused by such an order and it would quickly leak to the gleeful MSM, resulting in a huge embarrassment to Mr. Bush. Such a scenario is just not logical.

If bin Laden and Zarqawi are incompetent leaders, they are unlikely, unlike Hitler, to have much command and control over their forces, due to extreme communications problems. So there is no such utility to keeping them alive. On the other hand, there is great utility for the U.S. side in killing them - the war on terror is now much about symbolism and media impact. The klling of the Big Three - bin Laden, Zawahiri, or Zarqawi - would be demoralizing to the jihadist cause. The GWOT will fade away when Islamic teenage boys come to the conclusion that jihadism is pointless and futile. Killing the Big Three will help achieve that goal.

9/27/2005 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

damn right

9/27/2005 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Heh. Notice the last line.

9/27/2005 12:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the matter of body counts, we don't think they are that useful a metric in counterinsurgency operations. The MSM thinks body count reporting by CENTCOM is a sign of U.S. desperation, but think they are a perfectly great metric when measuring insurgent strength. Logical? We think not. We had something to say about this in our post

Educating Ms. Knickmeyer,

a critique of a bad WaPo story.

As for "oil spot" versus "search and destroy", we think that U.S. strategy is necessarily eclectic. The Marine Corps commandant recently said that the enemy can adjust his tactics within ten days. U.S. tactics must also be fluid and changing. But the main pillars of U.S. tactics are to 1) train the (mainly Shi'ite and Kurdish) Iraqis, and 2) immediately strike high-value targets they stumble across.

The most useful metric in both the Iraq and Afghan wars is calls by locals to the tip lines - and CENTCOM claims that the phones are ringing off their hooks.


9/27/2005 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Osama is a PR pillar of the Mohammedan Movement.

Yes, the types of Wars and Armies are different now, than in the past.
Without massed Armies, but great masses, the Mohammedan threat is amplified by their apparent victories, both large and small. Against Eygpt, the Soviet Union, US, Russia, Spain, England. The "Leaders" that engineered these Mohammedan wins...Osama & Zawahiri.
aQ's biggest marketing tool is US impotence in spite of it's omnipotent position.
Osama's greatest worth to the Mohammedan cause is as a Living Legend.
They have a history full of losing martyrs, he'd just be another name on that list.

I think we have them in our sights and are waiting, taking them at a time that will "Cover" our "public impotentcy" upon announcing withdrawal from Iraq.
A strategic plan, for the Spring, perhaps.

9/27/2005 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

Desert Rat,
I think it is pretty obvious that bin Laden and Zarkawi are not where they can be easily reached by us, because clearly we would have gotten them by now, for domestic political purposes if for no other reason.

I don't think that your comment that leadership matters, with the Gen. Washington reference, applies to the above two individuals, particularly bin Laden, though. The nature of al Queda and these terrorist cells is that they generally don't take direct orders/op plans from those at the very top.

9/27/2005 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

andrew k

While Saddam assisted, trained and perhaps funded the Mohammedan agents, he was not in the forefront of their movement.

As we invaded the country, it became OUR main front in the War on Terror. I do not believe it is or was ever theirs.

The Mohammedan aQ objective in Iraq is to tie US down, show our impotence. Osama thought the battle would be in Afghanistan, he was wrong. Iraq became the US tar baby, instead.

The fact that so few internationalists have flocked to Zarqawi's "aQ Iraq" banner is indicitive that Iraq is not really a major front, in the Mohammedan Plan, or that their overall strength is terribly over rated.

9/27/2005 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Leadership forms can change with changing times and cultures.

Osama's "Leadership" is not tactical, it is philosophical, while at the same time personal.
A cult of personality has grown up around the guy. The Doctor, Zawahiri has always been the "Brains" IMO.

Perhaps the Washington anology is not perfect, but aQ was born from Osama's Jihadist Roledex.

9/27/2005 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

andrew k,
no "Sorry everyone" necessary.
I too was so optimistic even after having read the first parts of C4's post, that things had changed.
Then bam! Slam binnie, throw a few inflammatory cocktails here and there and draw previously focused posters to the eternal, damnable flame.
Rick Ballard:
Come deliver the sermon on the Charginghawk Pledge!

9/27/2005 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Leaddog2: what you say about the left side overlapping the text is true on my computer at work - but not on the one at home, where everything is Okay.
I have no idea why.

9/27/2005 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

In NYC subways system they must have checked out, what, 100,000 bags by now?
Still not 1 bomb.
Or have they given up the search, now that the cameras have left?

What was that FDR used to say about Fear?
Something about fear being all there was to fear, wasn't it?

9/27/2005 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Folks: There is a big 'ol difference between killing a leader as part of our overall operation aimed at defeating the enemy and making taking out the enemy leadership the major thrust of our operations. We launched the P-38's that killed Yammamoto from Guadacanal but we did not take that island for that express purpose. We did not capture the Marianas for the purpose of basing B-29's so they could kill Hirohito and Tojo. We did not invade Normandy so that we could strafe Rommel in his staff car. We did not win air superiority over Germany so that we could chase Hitler and other high-ranking Nazis around with our P-51's. Kerry and his like would have us do that; focus our efforts toward killing and capturing Osama so that we could quickly declare victory and go home. It is simply another way to state the "Terrorism is a law enforcement problem" approach.

9/27/2005 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Doug Santo,
You have said that before, and it is certainly true.
That is what I think is most exceptional about GWB:
LBJ based his decisions on Walter Cronkite.
GWB is the anti-LBJ.
When discussing OBL, doesn't the Golden Chain still figure in this?

9/27/2005 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Or have they given up the search, now that the cameras have left?"
Katrina and Houston are great examples of Media Hysteria inflaming public hysteria and public policy.
As Limbaugh mentioned, very few CAT 5s remain CAT 5s all the way home.
If in the future all decisions are made per Houston, the economy will suffer (repeatedly) and more people will die than if we went back to historical response to Hurricanes.
...at least for areas 45 MILES away from the coast.
Don't think I'll take on the rest of your post right now! ;-)

9/27/2005 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

they did, in Afghanistan.
They may, now, in Pakistan
Some have claimed there were such training centers in Iraq. Perhaps Tel Afar was one such "Center", Fallujah was.

There are varied levels of training, in all Forces. In the "Major" wars, a little Basic Training and off to the Front a young troop went. In the pre 9-11 environment "training" could go on for years and years, without ever a shot fired against a real foe.

In the mid 80's "training" was often just physical conditioning, the average US teen being a bit of a couch potato, then. The average troop could be "in the dark" about training or doctrine for a couple of years.

Most of the foreigners in Iraq have been described as Ordinance, walking suicide bombers. That may be another reason for them not flocking to aQ's banner

9/27/2005 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Does Gen. Myers read Belmont, or is it the other way around?

"They're going to have to go to the bench and find somebody that is probably less knowledgeable and less qualified," Myers said. "It's like fighting the al-Qaida network. It will have some impact, but over time they will replace people."

Myers said Abu Azzam played a key role not only in running al-Qaida in Baghdad but also in handling its finances.

"There are others, foreign fighters, marching to the guns on a regular basis," who can be promoted to leadership roles, Myers added, although in many cases they are less experienced at planning and executing attacks.

I like you guys, but it's probably the other way around.

Here's some uplift from The Rumster:
"As the coalition moves forward with its strategy," he said, "it's worth mentioning that the enemy has a strategy as well. They have brains. (They seek) to make their pattern of defeats look like progress, to hold on long enough and to inflict enough damage, often to innocent men, women and children, Iraqis, in the hope that the coalition decides that the cause isn't worth the price and that the U.S. and coalition will abandon the millions who have put their faith in democracy and risked their lives for freedom.

"I believe that the coalition will prove the enemy wrong and that we'll persevere with patience."

We have 2.33 years left under our current leadership, I think we have a good shot at success in Iraq.

On the question of leaving Osama alive if we have him in our sights? No way, Jose, that was the Clinton approach, that led to 9/11. Osama is no Hirohito.

9/27/2005 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

But that is the point, really. In Iraq, the War on Terror HAS already taken a Law Enforcement approach. Read Mr Yon's story of LTC Kurilla, again. Catch and release, revolving door justice, these are not "Military" terms that I learned in the Army.

There are no Hammer & Anvil platoon or Company maneuvers.
No, we have LTC's leading squads, in SWAT type raids, against targets of opportunity on the streets of Mosul.
Just like Starsky and Hutch and the LAPD.

We sent unarmored convoys out, with Rules of Engagement that preclude active defence, to draw IED and sniper fire.

Where we find a massed Insurgent Force we eventually may bring over whelming Force and destroy it. re: Fallujah or Tel Afar. But not Sumarra or Rhimadi, yet. (sp on both towns)

In the past, we would not secure an area for the long term. Clear and move on was US policy. Now with Iraqis as a follow-on force we will do better, holding the cleared area against reinfiltration by armed insurgents.

The Insurgents are just that Insurgents, fighting a National Iraqi Government they see as illegitimate, installed by infidals to the benefit of non Iraqi interests. Both US and Iranian

The number of aQ in Iraq is low enough to be inconsquential to the Insurgency, but not the MSM.

9/27/2005 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Catch and release, revolving door justice"
rr, I think, made a post earlier refering to that as part of some coherent strategy.
I didn't get it.
Still don't.
Help, please?

9/27/2005 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

or, he was refering to the release, perhaps for the first time, of Sunni Prisoners, which we just did again.
What is the "strategy" behind that?

9/27/2005 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Pacification by Selective Appeasement.
That is what is being attempted.

All in an attempt to "buy" those Sunni Ratification votes.

18 days & a wake up.

9/27/2005 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

If we were at War with a mass movement, the Mohammedan Religion, or something like that, Osama and the two Zs could be considered inconsequential, just symptoms of a greater problem.

The President has stated numerous times in many locations, that this is not the case. The Use of Force authorizations for both Iraq and Afghanistan a do not discuss Mohammed or his religious devotees.
No they mention specific and defined challenges.

aQ is Osama and Osama is aQ. aQ is an outgrowth of Osama's ego, will, spirit, cash and connections.
For US aQ is not Mohammedanism, it was not yesterday or today. Without Congressional action it will not be tomorrow, for US.

Osama and the Dr. are more important to aQ than Washington EVER was to the Revolution, and I agree with David McCullough's view concerning Washington.

As to the greater Mohammedan movement, ex-helo may well be right, but then we have no quarrel with Mohammedanism, a Religion of Peace.

9/27/2005 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Rick Ballard said...


Why should anyone be denied the pleasure of watching the Black Knight's head lying upon the path threatening to bite all passersby? Nothing that he has predicted or projected has come to pass, or ever will come to pass.

The hand wringers and defeatists just aren't having much fun these days. I see no reason not to just watch them babble on. It's not as if it were possible to make bigger fools of them than they make of themselves.

It is unfortunate but very understandable that David Charginghawk no longer comments here. Very understandable.

9/27/2005 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Bill Roggio has a post up called The Chopping Block where he has a chart of what happened to one cell together with the photos of their former, now captured or deceased leaders. The cell vanished in under a week from targeted raids and other hits.

The photos of the enemy leaders were probably taken from drivers licenses or some such, and shows them in happier days. Seeing their faces pasted on the chart, like so many bugs in a high-school insect specimen collection is a reminder of the terrible deadliness with which the campaign is being pursued.

Maybe it's just me, but I find it extremely saddening to read MSM reports suggesting that the all-powerful insurgents are out there laughing and taunting their hapless American foes as if it were a game, because it somehow cheapens and trivializes the reality. There are brave men on both sides; there is tremendous endurance and stoicism on both sides and one can recognize that without taking the part of the enemy. The day of victory is the only day worth celebrating in war; and it is strange that some individuals may seek to postpone it unnecessarily believing they are serving the cause of peace.

9/27/2005 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

W: The day of victory is the only day worth celebrating in war; and it is strange that some individuals may seek to postpone it unnecessarily believing they are serving the cause of peace.

Hear hear.

Today's "Anti-War Movement" is an insult to the memory of the what was going on during the Vietnam war in the later 60's and early 70's. Back then, it became apparent that we were not fighting to win, and casualty rates that ran to hundreds per day sometimes, and averaged 1,500 per month in '68-'69.

It had become clear that Vietnam was not going to be Berlin, we were not going to hold the line. Under LBJ we fought the whole war as if we were "sending messages" to our enemies.

Its true that Vietnam was tragically proven non-strategic, but millions died upon our retreat. And while the rest of Asia has seen decades of fabulous new prosperity, Vietnam remains a sad backwater.

If retreat was that costly in Southeast Asia, what would be the cost of retreat in Iraq? Iraq is a truly strategic World Game position, unlike Vietnam.

Vietnam War protestors had a valid point, that's the difference between them and today's self-loathing depression mongers.


Civility? Seeing their faces pasted on the chart, like so many bugs in a high-school insect specimen collection

9/27/2005 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Fox News announces Iran will cut Trade ties to it's Nuclear critics.

Nothing like a little political preemption.
Even if referred to the UN by the IAEA, nothing will come of it.
China or Russia will Veto any meaningful Resolution.

9/27/2005 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

When you say "Iran will do this, or Iran will do that" you are wrong. A country does not act. Only people act.

When you are unhappy with a country, focus on the specific people who are causing the problem, not the country. The country remains although the people are certain to change. Help the people to go away.

9/27/2005 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Zarqawi loses top aide but Iraq may get no respite:

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has lost his deputy but the elusive leader of al Qaeda in Iraq has defied past crackdowns and claims that he was close to capture, keeping up a bloody jihad against the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.

The most feared leader of the Sunni Arab insurgency, with a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head, Zarqawi has inspired an apparently endless supply of militants from across the Arab world to blow themselves up in suicide missions in Iraq.


9/27/2005 05:31:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Sheehan Meets With McCain:

McCain said he might not have met with Sheehan had he known none of his constituents was in the group.

McCain described the conversation as "a rehash" of opinions already well known.


9/27/2005 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...


One thing to remember about the suicide attackers. Many of them do not have a willingness to seek martyrdom. They are junkies doped up with free drugs (see Michael Yon), they are mentally deficient (the one Iraqi suicide bomber on the last election day was a kid with down’s syndrome), they are duped- for example, asked to drive a vehicle that is exploded remotely.

There was a story some months back about an instance of the last case I am trying to find. It occurred in Mosul, I think. A Saudi kid came to fight and was asked to drive afuel truck. When he passed by the target, the whole fuel tank was detonated remotely by his fellow jihadis following at a safe distance. But the Saudi kid was blown free and survived! The local Iraqi responders took him to the hospital. Later the word got out that there was a contract on him and the good guys figured out who he was. He then help finger a couple of jihadi leaders. What a great bunch of guys, our enemy.

I looked for this story on Google and could not find it. I wonder if anyone remembers it?

9/27/2005 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

My gut feeling is that leaving Z to kill more Iraqi's is a Bad Thing. It's simply not the "right thing" to do.

I know that Churchill allowed bombings to happen after the Engima code was broken, but I've always felt that that was a sin, too.

If we know where Z and OBL are, we should kill them. Now. Period. And then deal with the fallout.

I don't want to hear about roll-outs or roll-ups or strategy or alternate scenarios. Kill 'em, and stop their massacres, and then do your roll-up thing, if there's anything left to roll up.


9/27/2005 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

MEMRI has a lovely interview of the Saudi kid in question. I highly recommend it.


As you can hear, the kid killed 12 Iraqi's, but he had only the best of intentions to kill just his very own Americans, and he's deeply sorry about the Iraqi's. Somehow I think once Iraq gets up on its feet and can flex a little power again, they're not going to appreciate Saudi Arabia sending their idiot sons in to kill Iraqi civilians.

9/27/2005 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger Jeff Kouba said...

I really do marvel at the amazing skill shown by the US military in adapting to the situation they faced in Iraq. Given the number of troops they had, the nature of the enemy, they have achieved great successes, and momentum seems to be building.

9/28/2005 06:04:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

cedarford - to quote the Great Seinfeld, "yadda yadda yadda ..."

9/28/2005 09:11:00 AM  

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