Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Two recent raids on Iraqi police

Nic Robertson has some interesting points on the recent raid, the successful one. But there are even more questions after the rebuffed attack. Robertson:
Looking at video of the overrun police headquarters in Moqdadia, the first question that comes to my mind is: Why so little damage?

Burnt out police vehicles, yes. Gutted building, yes. Bloodied clothes, yes. But nothing recorded on the camera footage I saw to indicate a massive, long, drawn-out fight. It begs the question: How could police in a secure compound allow themselves to be overrun?

It's happened before, most notably in Mosul in November 2004, when insurgents stormed multiple police outposts, torching and destroying many of them. Almost over night, the police ran away. The assessment at the time was many of the police were sympathetic to or afraid of the insurgents.

The police force in Moqdadia should be better trained and by most accounts is better motivated than the force in Mosul two years ago. So was there an informer among their ranks giving insurgents vital information about weaknesses? Or were they simply so ill-equipped or poorly trained they couldn't match the insurgents?

U.S. military officers have told me they believe infiltration of Iraq's new security forces is so significant it may take years to eradicate. But if the police were let down by poor equipment or a lack of training, then that raises other questions about the speed with which they are being put in harm's way.

The area around Moqdadia is typical of regions in Iraq where U.S. forces are handing over "battle space" to Iraqis. It puts Iraq's police and army in operational control of a clearly defined area, allowing U.S. troops to scale back and ultimately leave the country.

Regardless of which explanation answers my initial question, the simple answer may be the one provided by U.S. field commanders: Iraq's police and army are a long way from standing alone.
Professor Cole wrote:
The guerrillas have seldom dared to field more than a platoon (say 28 men) for fear of attracting fire from American helicopter gunships. Here, they fielded an entire company or perhaps two companies. The provincial authorities in Diyala seem convinced that the Miqdadiyah police chief was a double agent working for the guerrillas.
It was another violent day in this low grade civil war, CNN:
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Thirteen Shiite pilgrims were gunned down Wednesday in Baghdad in two separate attacks, the latest examples of sectarian violence that have raged since last month's bombing of a mosque in Samarra, police said.
Bush made his fifth consecutive day of upbeat estimates on Iraq, Reuters reports:
He said he hammered home the message during a videoconference from the White House with U.S. Iraq Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and U.S. Gen. George Casey.

"We talked about the need to make it clear to the Iraqis it's time to get a government in place that can start leading this nation and listening to the will of the people," he said.
I am left to wonder if the recent uptick in U.S. popular opposition, Bush's vociferous efforts to rally support, and these brazen attacks are related.

The insurgents have demonstrated a high degree of media awareness. They may anticipate a Tipping Point as much as anyone else.


Blogger Mike V. said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog.
Got a good laugh out of that.

On to serious matters.

George Will (no uber-liberal, of course) had this to say about civil war in Iraq this week:

"[C]ivil wars do not usually begin with an identifiable event, such as the firing on Fort Sumter, or proceed to massed, uniformed forces clashing in battles like Shiloh. Iraq's civil war – which looks more like Spain's in the 1930s – began months ago.

"In Spain, the security forces were united, and in three years were victorious. Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. John Abizaid, U.S. commander in the Middle East, recently said Iraqi forces would cope with a civil war “to the extent they're able to” (Rumsfeld) and “they'll handle it with our help” (Abizaid). Their problematic assumption is that Iraq's security forces have a national loyalty and will not fracture along the fissures of Iraq's sectarian society."

This goes over most Neo-con's heads, of course..

5:15 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Their assumptions are deeply flawed. Though I am pleased by a whiff of honesty we see occasionally from General Abizaid and General Pace, though their veracity is not in sufficient doses.

For the past few weeks, I've been stumbling along trying to understand when a civil war is a civil war to the radicalized right. Bush finally clued me in yesterday: when the army and government dissolves.

Well, the government is about to expire and while the army has done well, it may just have been a few honorable commanders in a tough situation. It may not last.

The American civil war is an interesting point to raise. It really started in the 1850s with "bleeding Kansas," when abolitionists and slavery proponents rushed to the territory to have it join the Congress on their respective sides. This was, in large part, a result of Stephen Douglas outmatching himself. (We had a Lincoln then, thank God.) There were assassinations, paramilitary skirmishes, dead journalists. It looked a lot like Iraq, actually.

But your point and Will's larger point is that this is a civil war, even if the radicalized and loyal parse themselves out of that decision -- they only fool themselves. They want to see battlelines like in the movie Gettysburg.

Well, war is very different these days, especially with a big dog in the neighborhood. You group in small cells and act on limited targets. You have militia men dress in black and execute dozens to strike fear in the opponent. Then, you say that you want a unity government and peace.

Northern Ireland is quite informative with how war would be conducted by occupied populations. Will the Shiite give up their paramilitary special forces (Badr Brigade in uniform)? Will the Sunni drop their weapons?

Each side reinforces the fear of and the reason for the violent militias.

5:44 PM  

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