Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Absent strategic sense in Iraq

John Robb is hardly a novice to matters military. He has a worrying post on Global Guerillas today. He believes that it is increasingly likely that the American military in Iraq will be forced to cease training and counterinsurgency/countersectarianism operations and focus on force protection:
In this near term conflict, we are likely to see a repeat of the lightly manned defensive hedgehog used successfully by Hezbollah against Israel (that lesson was not lost on this war's open source participants). If placed along critical US military supply routes or immediately outside US mega-bases, and augmented by informational superiority (a combination of better local intelligence and advanced signals intercepts), these defensive tactics would extract a heavy toll on US troops (even as the US wins a tactical victory). Further, if repeatably successful, these efforts will force the US to forgo all efforts at offensive pacification operations in favor of basic force protection. From that point on, the timer will be on until a US forward base is overrun (when it goes off, we will be cooked).

Of course, this outcome grows ever more likely as the rhetoric for a war against Iran heats up (the current US administration timeline for this new war isn't the Iranian nuclear development cycle but rather the US election cycle, since they don't trust the next administration to make the tough decisions on the issue), since Iran can easily provide much of the weaponry necessary for these defensive hedgehogs to be extremely effective. It's important to note that this conflict isn't progressing as slowly as US decision cycles are.
The latest indicators of trouble in Iraq are as follows...

The New York Times: "Doubts Rise on Iraqi Premier’s Strength"

The AP:
Gangs of up to 100 children assemble in Sadr City, stronghold of radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia, and in nearby neighborhoods, U.S. officers said in interviews this week.

American soldiers have seen young men, their faces covered by bandanas, talking with the children before the rock-throwing attacks begin - and sometimes handing out slingshots so the volleys will be more accurate, the troops said.

"It's like a militia operation," said Capt. Chris L'Heureux, 30, of Woonsocket, R.I. "They'll mass rocks on the last or second-to-last vehicle. There's no doubt in my mind that they're utilizing these kids in a deliberate, thought-out way."

Sadr's followers insist they are not organizing the attacks.
Anyone who has read "The Sling and the Stone" will recall the potential affect of pictures showing sling-throwers opposite tanks.

BAGHDAD (AP) — Attacks against U.S. troops have increased following a call earlier this month from al-Qaeda in Iraq's leader to target American forces, the top U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday.


Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell also that Iraqi and American troops were expecting violence to increase further during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins next week.

The attacks against U.S. troops were mostly carried out by suicide car bombers or roadside bombs. He added that the number of killings by death squads also had increased in the past week.

The rise in attacks against American forces came after a threat issued Sept. 7 by Abu Ayyoub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajer.
When will the blogosphere's bipartisan and palpable level of unease concerning Iraq show in the administration's analysis? Most likely on the first Wednesday after the first Monday in November.


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