Thursday, December 28, 2006

News from Iraq

Sadr's deputy

The Washington Post:
BAGHDAD, Dec. 27 -- A top deputy of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was killed Wednesday during a raid by U.S. and Iraqi troops in the southern holy city of Najaf, sparking protests from Sadr's followers and complicating an already tense relationship with the powerful anti-American leader.
Gerald Ford on the record

The Washington Post:
In a conversation that veered between the current realities of a war in the Middle East and the old complexities of the war in Vietnam whose bitter end he presided over as president, Ford took issue with the notion of the United States entering a conflict in service of the idea of spreading democracy.

"Well, I can understand the theory of wanting to free people," Ford said, referring to Bush's assertion that the United States has a "duty to free people." But the former president said he was skeptical "whether you can detach that from the obligation number one, of what's in our national interest." He added: "And I just don't think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security."
Major Voorhies on the record

The New York Times:
For Maj. William Voorhies, the American commander of the military training unit at the scene, the moment encapsulated his increasingly frustrating task — trying to build up Iraqi security forces who themselves are being used as proxies in a spreading sectarian war. This time, it was a Sunni politician — Vice Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie — but the more powerful Shiites interfered even more often.

“I have come to the conclusion that this is no longer America’s war in Iraq, but the Iraqi civil war where America is fighting,” Major Voorhies said.
Gordon Smith on the record

The New York Times:
But the real impact of the address came not just from Mr. Smith’s words, but from the way he delivered them. His somber cadence resonated in a way that made political Washington take notice, transforming him into one of the most talked-about Republicans heading into the new Congress.

After acknowledging that he had been “rather silent” on Iraq since voting to authorize the war in 2002, Mr. Smith said he was rising “to speak from my heart” because he had witnessed “the slow undoing of our efforts there.”
Not more troops, different troops

Fred Gedrich and Paul E. Vallely in the Washington Times:
To prevail, the United States has to transition from a conventional to an unconventional war footing and make the enemy pay a heavy price for its despicable tactics. In Iraq and elsewhere, traditional troops, weapons and tactics are less useful than tools of influence, covert operations and intelligence brought to the battlefield by special operators working harmoniously with indigenous forces and local populations. The prime objective is to create a climate of fear within enemy ranks that breaks its will to continue the armed insurrection against the freely elected Iraqi government.

Special Operations Forces (Rangers, Seals, Delta Force and other special units) leaders and troops are uniquely qualified for this mission. Special operators played prominent and successful roles in removing Afghanistan's Taliban regime from power and disrupting al Qaeda's terror base. In Iraq, they have spent most of their time searching for the infamous "deck of cards," the elusive WMD arsenal, and high-value insurgents and terrorists.


Immediately after recently assuming his new post, Mr. Gates correctly stated that the United States must win in Iraq or face a "calamity" that would "endanger Americans for decades to come." Since the fall of Baghdad, the United States has had the will to win but not the right strategy. It's imperative that the United States transition quickly to an unconventional war strategy with USSOCOM generals and/or admirals in charge, or the war will be lost.
I think we can do more with less. More special operations, more intelligence, less combat power. Less total troop numbers.

On the line

The Los Angeles Times:
But there are moments of adrenalin-pumping drama. On this day, the Marines shot an Iraqi spotted planting a roadside bomb. When Lance Cpl. William Shaw was lifting the wounded Iraqi into a vehicle to be taken to a field hospital, the Marine was shot in the back by a sniper.

The round struck the back plate in the flak vest worn by the 22-year-old from Fort Bend, Texas. A few inches lower, and Shaw might have been killed or his spine severed.

The explosive ordnance detail was called to examine the bomb. It was fake.

Fake bombs are a recent wrinkle in the insurgents' game plan. The strategy, apparently, is to fire at Marines who arrive to neutralize the devices.

Navy trauma doctors who have treated wounded Marines say the snipers have also learned how to find vulnerable spots not covered by protective plates.

"We're not bionic men," said Gunnery Sgt. Justin Smith, 32, of Boston.
82nd Airborne

Surge? Department of Defense:
The Department of Defense announced today that the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. will deploy to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility beginning in early January 2007 to become the theater command’s call-forward force.

The brigade is replacing the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) which recently deployed from its call-forward location in Kuwait to support the ongoing operations of Multi-National Forces in Iraq. The call-forward force provides necessary theater capability and flexibility to the commander of U.S. Central Command.

U.S force levels in Iraq continue to be conditions-based, and are determined upon the recommendations of military commanders in Iraq and in consultation with the Iraqi government.
"Nothing to see here, folks"

Shuffle the deck

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has not been able to muster enough support to introduce new changes in his government.

Parliamentary blocs have been adamant in their attitude not to give any concession that would have seen a reformed government brought to light this year.

Maliki had promised President George Bush during a meeting held in Amman recently that he would form a national unity government as part of efforts to contain terror and violence.

The Prime Minister had hoped to have the unity government in place before Bush’s much-awaited for announcement of his new Iraq strategy.


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