Jaish al-Janna and Najaf


An intelligence source provides preliminary information on the players behind the Najaf battle; al Qaeda's Omar Brigade appears to have player a role

Iraqi soldiers capture fighters outside Najaf. Click photo to view.

The motivation and prime actors behind the fighting in Najaf remains uncertain one day after the battle ended. As U.S. and Iraq intelligence attempts to sort out the details, media reports indicate a mix of Shi'ite and Sunni fighters were involved in the battle against Iraqi forces, which resulted in upwards of 300 enemy killed in 24 hours of combat.

As we noted earlier this morning, it appears both a Shi'ite 'end-times cult' and al_Qaeda in Iraq's Omar Brigade are likely the prime actors battling against the Iraqi Army and police. An anonymous U.S. intelligence source informs us that the preliminary information indicates this does appear to be the case. He warns this is based on the best available information at this time, however this is still speculative as the situation remains fluid and U.S. and Iraqi intelligence services are still working to piece together the puzzle of the bizarre engagement in Najaf.

According to the intelligence source, the history of the organization behind the fighting in Najaf is sketchy, however what is clear is this was "an anti-Shi'ite establishment cult," which opposed both the Qom and Najaf schools of Shi'ite Islam as both schools did not recognize Ahmed Hassani al-Yemeni (or Diyah Abdul Zahraa Khadom), the cult's leader, as the Mahdi. Hassani's group received Saddam Hussein's support as it opposed both the leaders of the Iraqi Najaf school, as well as the Iranian Qom school. The Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) infiltrated the group during Saddam's rule to maintain tabs on the organization's activities.

Habbush.jpg

Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti.

After the fall of Saddam's regime, the remnants of the IIS maintained its connections with the organization. Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, the chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) and Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, two of the few Baathists leaders on the original 'Deck of Cards' remained free, and exercised control of the intelligence network.

As al Qaeda in Iraq began to absorb the Baathist elements of the Sunni insurgency, it inherited the Baathist intelligence network. Al-Douri swore bayat (an oath of unconditional allegiance) to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 2004, placing a large segment of the Baathist insurgency under the command of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.

Zarqawi let the network lie fallow, as his hatred of the Shia prevented him from utilizing the Shia group. While Zarqawi did utilize individual Shi'ite mercenaries to conduct operations, his contempt prevented him from activating entire Shi'ite groups.

With the rise of Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the operational possibilities were expanded. Al-Masri is by far a more shrewed operational and political leader. The intelligence network picked up on the cult's desire to initiate its "end-times" beliefs by rising up and assassinating the Shia clerics during the festival of Ashura. Seeing an opening to foment chaos, al-Masri moved in elements of the Omar Brigade, the al Qaeda unit tasked with attacking Shi'ites. The Omar Brigade was to take advantage of the Shia-on-Shia fighting in the Najaf region. "Officials in Najaf said Saddam loyalists bought the groves six months ago," FOX News reported earlier today.

The Shia cult formed the previously unheard of Jaish al-Janna, or the Army of Heaven (also described as Jund al-Samaa, or Soldiers of Heaven in news reports), armed its followers, and prepared fighting positions northeast of Najaf. Women and children were put on the battle lines.

News reports indicate a significant involvement of foreign fighters, as "30 of the dead were Afghans and Saudis and that of the 13 arrested, one was from Sudan." Our intelligence source warns us that the Shia cult did have an international following, however the belief is some of the foreign fighters were indeed members of al Qaeda's Omar Brigade.

Iraqi officials in Najaf are convinced al Qaeda had a hand in the fighting. "I have come to the total conviction from what I have seen with my own eyes on the ground that Al Qaeda is behind this group," said Abdel Hussein Attan, the Deputy Governor of Najaf. "Based on the confessions of interrogated militants and other information, this well-structured group intended to attack Shia clerics and take control of Najaf and its holy sites."

The fog of war is still thick in Najaf, and time will tell if this narrative proves accurate.



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READER COMMENTS: "Jaish al-Janna and Najaf"

Posted by Dave at January 30, 2007 1:18 AM ET:

Does it really matter who these people are? The bottom line is we are finally allowed to take them out. The last 3 years the US/Iraqi forces have been ordered to stay on the sidelines instead of fighting these punks. What a horrible horrible mistake by Rumsfeld and a lack of leadership by Maliki. The insurgents were allowed to walk the streets and it gave everyone the impression they were some supreme force and the Iraqi forces were frightened of them. No wonder support for the war is so low! In reality the Iraqi forces, with US training, are improving and can take them on right now. It seems like things are heading in the right direction, but you gotta wonder why it took this long for the gloves to come off. Malili's attitude changed after the Bush meeting in Jordan. What did he say? Why did that happen after Rumsfeld was fired? Was Rumsfeld happy with Maliki's failing strategy of not taking these miltias on? I have the feeling when people look back on this war Rumsfeld and the 2 generals are going to be judged pretty badly.

Posted by The Infidel Sage at January 30, 2007 1:41 AM ET:

The largest victory since Fallujah and hopefully just a taste of what is too come. Very good article and I appreciate the insight into yesterday's battle.

Posted by ECH at January 30, 2007 1:43 AM ET:

Rumsfield, Abaizad and Casey will all be judged very badly by history. They wanted to slide out of Iraq ASAP instead of securing Baghdad long ago which let Zarqawi start the sectarian war he had been trying to spark for three years.

As for this battle, I was happy at what happened but was very unhappy to learn the enemy was better armed then the Iraqi troops.

It often feels like the Pentagon and the WH want to lose this war.

Posted by ECH at January 30, 2007 1:49 AM ET:

"This group had more capabilities than the government," said Abdul Hussein Abtan, the deputy governor of Najaf Province, at a news conference.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/30/world/middleeast/30iraq.html?ref=world
-----------------------------------------------

The Iraqi Army Needs Heavy Weapons!!!!!!

When are they going to get it through their thick heads that the enemy is getting better arms from Iran and Syria then we are giving the Army we are trying to stand up.

Posted by Luke Willen at January 30, 2007 4:06 AM ET:

Regarding the commnts made by Dave and ECH on the Iraqi army. I saw an interesting report on the BBC yesterday on the subject. An Iraqi unit with American advisors patrolling in the Haifa Street area of Baghdad came under sniper fire. Some did ok, others behaved "llike children" which would suggest that, while there has been some improvement there is still s long way to go.

I was wondering if anyone has thought of attaching trustworthy Iraqi soldiers, particularly those who seem to be promising NCO and officer material to US and UK units so that they can learn on the job at the level they will be operating at. For example, a potential squad leader would serve in a US squad working with the assistant US squad leader and would then serve as the assistant squad leader in another unit. The US assistant squad leader would be seconded to an Iraqi unit to teach them. This would, rather like the KATUSA program of the Korean war, develop a better working relationship between the two armies.

Action also needs to be taken to decisively stop the arms flow from Syria and Iran. Does doing so mean widening the war as a last resort? If so then perhaps a division of labour with the Isrealis taking out Syria with some US support (f they need it) wwhile the US takes down Iran. It would be neccessary to produce a "smoking gun" first in order to justify such a war. Aternatively, perhaps building a domestic opposition to take on the current regiemes might work better or indeed in conjunction with a future military strike.

Posted by hamidreza at January 30, 2007 6:14 AM ET:

I would not be surprised if the fingerprint of Qods (Iranian revolutionary death squads) is found all over this cult. Qods needs to eliminate the Najaf Ayatollas, Sistani being top on their list. That is how Qods arrived at power in Iran 1979 - 1980, by bombing and killing moderate Ayatollas. There is no better way to do this than through a mysterious Shiite cult. And then everyone would have taken the blame except for Iranians and its client Sadr.

This failed incident is a black mark on Ahmadinejad.

Posted by Bill Roggio at January 30, 2007 8:11 AM ET:

To think Iran holds all the cards is overly simplistic, woe-is-me American thinking. Iran has much to lose in Iraq, and has far fewer resources to fight. As always, our weakness is will.

Posted by Michael at January 30, 2007 8:23 AM ET:

The following is from a Media outlet for Iran's Revolutionary Guard in Iran. An escalation of intentions is being mouthed by Iran. AKI reports...

"In an article published by the Pasdaran's mouthpiece, Sobhe Sadegh, the director of the centre for strategic studies of the Iranian presidency, Reza Zakeri, also says Iran will retaliate against any further abduction of Iranian nationals."

I wonder if Kerry does not consider the IRG, sponsors of terrorism around the world and Iranian diplomats with international warrants from Argentina - "Pariahs"?

A direct threat against American soldiers...

"The US military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Caucasus, central Asia, Europe and Latin America is significant and at the same time extremely isolated and therefore abducting a US soldier in uniform is less expensive than buying a low quality product made in China," the article also said.

Followed by a stupid admission of Sadr's Militias participation in kidnapping of American soldiers... This shows they had knowledge of, or are possibly complicit in the abduction of soldiers in the past.

Stressing how the Mahdi militia of Shiite radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who have no military preparation, were able to kidnap US soldiers, the Sobhe Sadegh article claimed it would be an easy enough task for the well-trained Pasdaran.

Money talks, kidnapping American soldiers is easy anywhere, anytime.

"Even if a state had no influence in the country where US troops were posted and had no close relations with local forces and, finally, even if it did not have well-trained officers for similar actions, it would not be difficult to capture blond men with blue eyes wearing a military uniform, it would just be necessary to open a wallet and be generous," Reza Zakeri concluded.

Shortsighted, bigots. Are they confusing Americans with the recent meetins in Davos? Our military is made up of the world. Unlike the current Iranian Regime of Tyrants, the world comes to our nations shores for prosperity and an opportunity of a good life without fear of retribution along sectarian lines. Our people do not flee torture and oppression from darkened souls of medieval zealots that consider women to be half the value of a man.

It is a good look at the heart of yet another dark beast, of leaders who have propelled their nation backwards into 7th century rituals and hatred based upon religion, tribe and ethnic origin.

This in the News links provided on the left: http://www.adnkronosinternational.com/index_2Level_English.php?cat=Politics&loid=8.0.381232740&par=0

I am so thankful for the internet, translattions and the information flow which we never would get thru the MSM that once acted as GateKeepers of Information.

Soldiers indeed, keep your eyes and intuitions sharp about those around you.

Posted by Michael at January 30, 2007 8:35 AM ET:

Lisa,

Calm down. Bill is right. Iran is ripe for possible revolution in the future, especially if Saudi Arabia applies more pressure to the spigots of Saudi oil production increases. They would only need to bring it down into the 40/bbl range and Iran would start hemorraging large debts. They would not be able to keep up flows of cash to Hezbollah and Syria, which also supports Hamas and other terrorist.

The inflation rates in Iran are skyrocketing, the job market is estimated at high double-digits in many areas. The Iranian youth hate the Mullahs. Much of Iran is tired of the Tryants isolating Iran from the rest of the world.

It is not America that is isolated, despite what MSM talking heads and some political leaders say in foreign countries. It is Iran that is being isolated more and more, both financially and politically on all fronts.

What is crucial is to stabalize Baghdad, seperate the sectarian leaders, capture or kill them. Increase the oil flow from Iraq. Keep training the Iraqis. Keep rebuilding the Iraqi nations. Keep encouraging the Iraqis to self government and teach them free enterprise and market economy principles, plus teach them to stand on their own without relying on Saddam like leaders.

Bill is correct. It is up to our will to stand by our troops and our President at this time. We must not give up hope despite the onslaught of pessimism and sometimes outright misinformation being thrown at us daily.

Posted by Matt M at January 30, 2007 10:05 AM ET:

Lisa,

Iran produces/exports about 2% of the world's daily oil supply and Saudi Arabia recently said they have the capacity to make up the difference, which they clearly do. The world market losing all Iranian oil would be a short-term monir disruption, not a major, long-term one.

Also keep in mind that Iran imports about 40% of it refined gas -- which it needs to runs it decrepit economy. The rich irony is that while Iran has among the largest gas reserves on Earth, their refining infrastructure in is abysmal shape.

It would be easy enough for us and our friends in the ME to a) replace lost Iranian oil from the worl marketpalce and b) blockade Iranian gas imports. There would be a diplomatic reaction to all of this, but as Bill said, Iran does not hold all the cards. Not by a longshot.

Posted by Matt M at January 30, 2007 10:08 AM ET:

Let me correct a couple of typos.

"minor" disruption

"world marketplace"

Posted by Neo-andertal at January 30, 2007 10:25 AM ET:

"It is who is backing Iran and that is Russia."

That's massively overstating it. Russia sells both military goods and training to Iran. It is also a major exporter of civilian goods to Iran. The Russian political establishment still sees the US as hostile to their interests, though not to anywhere near the degree during the cold war. Many of them see Iraq as an opportunity to cut the US down to size.

Let's say Russia is sympathetic to Iran when it is in Russia's interest.

Posted by David M at January 30, 2007 10:54 AM ET:

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 01/30/2007
A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention.

Posted by C-Low at January 30, 2007 11:18 AM ET:

Lisa

No one here is saying confrontation with Iran would be easy, nor I would wager did few if any here expect cofrontation with Iraq would be easy or the last stage of the WOT. War is never easy never without cost.

The question thou Lisa is not "can we rage a war with no cost?" but instead "What are todays cost compared to tomorrows possible cost?".

Whatever the Cost of confrontation with Iran will damand today is nothing compared to the cost tomorrow that will be required to confront a Nuclear Iran.

Iran has been technically at war with US since the Iran hostage crisis, Iran has been activley openly supplying supporting terrorist from Hezbollah, Hamas, Mehdi/Sadr, sheltering Bin Ladens Son and much of AQ top leadership in Iran under "house arrest", requesting a new oil embargo against the Big Satan (US) at every opportunity, demanding another nation be wiped off the map, ect... just imagine what they will do when they have a nuclear umbrella to hide under.

Posted by Wlater at January 30, 2007 11:56 AM ET:

So, it's like a helicopter from Vietnam ends up in the year 2000 flying over a city? It was a book.

End of Times Cult? How about some more information? do they mean cease or just disappear things for a couple of days?

A heretic not liking Karbala? Maybe an article on this?

Posted by JewishOdysseus at January 30, 2007 1:51 PM ET:

Actually, Iran produces about 4.4% of the world's petroleum:

http://www.worldoil.com/INFOCENTER/STATISTICS_DETAIL.asp?Statfile=_worldoilproduction

I recently wrote about the possibility of destroying Iran's oil facilities at my blog, jewishodysseus.blogspot.com (I'm FOR IT).

Posted by Marlin at January 30, 2007 1:59 PM ET:

I thought the following clips from today's article in the Washington Post provided insight about the attack that I hadn't found elsewhere.

-----------------------------------------

Wahli said the structure of the group was Shiite, but it involved Sunni fighters and "based on the level of training, support and financing, it obviously has received support from outside Iraq."

[...]

During a news conference in Najaf, the deputy provincial governor, Abdul Hussein Abtan, said the fighters were able to amass the vehicles and weaponry under the pretext that they were moving building materials destined for the Najaf airport, which is under construction. He said the group surged in numbers over the past 10 days in preparation for attacks on pilgrims, shrines in Najaf and clerics on the last day of Ashura. Among the fighters captured or killed were two Egyptians, a Lebanese and a Sudanese, he said.

"There were extensive preparations, they were highly trained, and they fought in an orderly way," said Wahli. "Their leader kept insisting through a loudspeaker that they keep fighting, despite repeated attempts by the Iraqi security forces to get them to stop."

Washington Post: Iraqis Describe Plot To Kill Shiite Clerics

Posted by Dan at January 30, 2007 2:18 PM ET:

Latest report say that Iraqis did fairly badly in the battle and the US ground troops did in fact have to step in.

Now this IS NYT, but still...

Disappointing if true.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/30/world/middleeast/30iraq.html?_r=1&ref=worldspecial&oref=login

Posted by Mike E at January 30, 2007 3:04 PM ET:

Thanks for the link Dan.

Only the NYT could turn the crushing defeat of a force of 200-400 enemies into something that "raises troubling questions".

Posted by Dave at January 30, 2007 5:00 PM ET:

Ok, now the AP has released a negative article called Analysis: Najaf battle raises questions. In it they say:

"Iraqi forces prevailed only after U.S. and British jets blasted the militants with rockets, machine gunfire and 500-pound bombs. Both U.S. and Iraqi reinforcements had to be sent to the fight."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070130/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_what_happened


Bill, has it been confirmed whether or not the Iraqi army fought well? This article makes it seem like they were useless until the US airpower came in. I will never believe another word the AP says until it's been confirmed by a trusted source.

Posted by Bill Roggio at January 30, 2007 5:17 PM ET:

I can't tell you definitively about how the IA performed north of Najaf, but can say the casualty /capture ratio favors them greatly. It's not uncommon for the IA or IP to call Coalition forces for supporting air/armor assets, as the IA does not possess these capabilities. I can say the 8th Division has performed well during operations in the past (in Diwaniyah, Hilla, and elsewhere).

Posted by DJ Elliott at January 30, 2007 5:19 PM ET:

"more than 300 militants were killed and about 650 were arrested. Eleven Iraqi troops were killed and 30 wounded, he said."

Dave:
My read of the reporting is the IA sent a Battalion (~600 pers onhand) QRF to recce from Najaf (1-8 Bde).
They ran into a larger than expected hostile force and called for reinforcements.
A Battalion from a Different IA Brigade (2-8 Bde-Hilliah), Air and coalition QRF was sent.

Hostile KIA and captured was 950 (300/650)
IA KIA: 11 / WIA: 30
US KIA: 2

Just ignore their spin and opinion and look at actual numbers: ~30:1 kill rate and twice as many taken prisoner is not a bad operation.
1.5x as many were killed/captured than the size of the initial recce force...

Posted by Dan at January 30, 2007 6:01 PM ET:

The fact that IA required American air support is normal. We denied them these capabilities by design and they have to call on the US if they need them.

And they did need them in this instance - there is no other way to dislodge an entrenched death-cult from fortified position, unless you are prepared to take truly horrific casualties.

What I do want to know and am waiting on Pentagon to report is:

a - did the IA pretty much rout after their attempt to storm the cult position?

b - was the role of the US ground troops decisive in turning the encounter around.

I am sceptical about (a) due to the casualty ratio. Retreating units always take large losses, and so far even the biggest count places Iraqi Army losses at about 25 -30 men.

Posted by Dan at January 30, 2007 6:18 PM ET:

It is unlikely, due to cultural, historical and ethnic reasons that even a Shiite Iraq will ally themselves with Iran. They have common interests and are natural trade partners. But they are also natural strategic competitors and Iraq has a vested interest in remaining on good terms with the rest of Sunni Arab world.

So it is in Iran's interest bot to stabilize Iraq as Baker-Hamilton postulated but to provoke outright civil war which is why they are arming all sides at the moment. I am quessing they foresee first an ethnic cleansing of Sunnis by the Kurds and the Shia and then fighting among the victors. hell, Badr Brigades and Mahdi Army already had pitched battles in the streets.

The winner in this civil war, and I think Iran will do its utmost for it to be Sadr, will have so much blood on his hands and will have burnt so many bridges that he will become dependant on Iran's support and basically become its puppet.

I think Iran sees this scenario as the only viable way of ensuring controlling influence over Iraq.

Posted by DJ Elliott at January 30, 2007 6:40 PM ET:

Lisa:
US policy since 1970s has been that the use of any weapon of mass destruction will be retaliated for with Nukes.

Definition of WMD is Nuclear, Biological and Chemical weapons.

If Iran wants to commit national suicide, they will use chem. Otherwise, they will not...

Posted by Neo-andertal at January 30, 2007 7:01 PM ET:

Thanks for the news links guys,

Ernesto London's article "Iraqis Describe Plot To Kill Shiite Cleric" was very well written, fair and balanced. We will probably be able to fill in more details later, but I have no real problems with The Washington Posts article.

By contrast, Quiz Mizher's article "Missteps by Iraqi Forces in Battle Raise Questions" for the New York times was a prototypical NYT hatchet job. It editorializes the subject and adds excessive hyperbole for effect. It doesn't ask questions as stated in the title, but makes the assertion that the combat operation was terribly and incompetently handled. It also quickly makes a hidden assertion that earlier unnamed reports of success were disingenuous and propagandistic. The article doesn't try to back up it's assertions but uses battle and confusion about what exactly happened to portray the incident in the worst possible light. I'm not against being critical but this article is deceptive and isn't valid criticism.

I've seen numerous examples of this man's work and they are all characterized by the same problem. I'm not saying he is incompetent. In fact he is obviously trained to write in this sort of editorialized style and produces consistent writing product.

Posted by Neo-andertal at January 30, 2007 7:30 PM ET:

I might add, that people are trying to read way too much into this single incident. It seems to be a rather strange atypical incident. Using this sort of thing as a bell weather of things to come, isn't a good idea. I just want the Ashura crowds to make it home without too many casualties. Than we'll see what happens next.

Posted by DJ Elliott at January 30, 2007 7:33 PM ET:

The Iranian President is not the senior leader in Iran. He serves at the Clerics pleasure. That decision will not be his to make. Most of the clerics are more practical.

NYT discredited its own story with the military details it did provide. Clear example of the level of ignorance on military operations that they have.

Posted by Mark Eichenlaub at January 30, 2007 7:50 PM ET:

So we have Sunni, Shiite, al Qaeda and Saddam loyalists possibly cooperating. Kinda a thorn in the side of those who have told us for 6 years now that these people won't cross ideological lines to cooperate (secular Saddam wouldn't cooperate with al Qaeda and other jihadists...). We are all kindly waiting for their apologies.

Posted by DJ Elliott at January 30, 2007 7:58 PM ET:

Mark Eichenlaub

Too true.

"My enemies' enemy is my friend" is an anceint arab proverb.

People that ignore that proverb when dealing with ME pol/mil are ignorant of basic attitudes...

Posted by DJ Elliott at January 30, 2007 8:54 PM ET:

The problems with calling this an IA failure are:

1. The details as reported by the press do not support it. They claim that this is a failure but, the numbers do not add up. Not to anyone with legit knowledge of IA OOB, military tactics and operations.

2. The only failure was intelligence. The IA knew it was serious or they would not have sent an entire Bn. They did not realize it needed a Bde. (As a retired spook, I hate admiting that one.)

3. The military is not confirming 99% of what has been reported so far. Media blackout judging by the lack of press releases on MNF-I site. That means that we are speculating on MSM Press RUMINT (Rumor Intelligence). Odds are against anyone getting it right using rumor only...

The brief to Pentagon by I MEF on friday had no questions asked about Najaf. The press had apparently been told not to waste the general's time with questions about a different AOR.

I will be watching the 31Jan 0700 (eastern) Baghdad Brief by MG Caldwell on the pentagonchannel.mil,
This will be the first brief by MNF-I since the fight...

Posted by Dave at January 30, 2007 10:13 PM ET:

NBC NEWS confirms a secret U.S. military report that says 'Iranian Agents' may be behind a deadly ambush in Karbala, Iraq that left five American soldiers dead. The report also claims the Iranian revolutionary guard is providing intelligence on U.S. and Iraqi military to Shiite extremists, in addition to sophisticated weaponry. Developing...

Posted by GK at January 30, 2007 10:52 PM ET:

It is absurd to worry about Iran using powerful weapons against our troops. That would justify us taking full conventional military actiona against them. Toppling Iran in a conventional war would be no harder than Gulf War 1991 was.

Iran is not a country with very deep pockets. Their GDP is only $200 billion. We could quickly outspend them and force them into a weak position.

I encourage all of you to look up Operation Praying Mantis on Wikipedia. It was in 1988, but most Americans don't remember it. We fought with teh Iranian Navy. We sank half their Navy for the cost of just 2 US Sailors and no ships sunk.

They are NOT that powerful, and it is silly for us to treat them as though they are.

Posted by Wally Lind at January 30, 2007 11:06 PM ET:

Well, I can't see that the Iraqi Army was so badly trained/equipped, given the almost comical differential in casualties. It sounds like a turkey shoot, just like the ones we have in Afghanistan, when the mighty al Qaida and Taliban stand up and fight. The only place these Islamic radicals can fight with U.S. or U.S. trained/equipped forces is on the evening news.

They are dangerous as hell, but only until they really piss us off. Then they will be the primitives they really are. The Iraqi Army showed me something, just like the ARVN did in 1972. Let's see if they get stabbed in the back, like the ARVN did.

Posted by DJ Elliott at January 30, 2007 11:23 PM ET:

GK

"I encourage all of you to look up Operation Praying Mantis on Wikipedia. It was in 1988, but most Americans don't remember it. We fought with teh Iranian Navy. We sank half their Navy for the cost of just 2 US Sailors and no ships sunk."

I do not have to read the fiction on Wikipedia. I was a participant. It was just one of several engagements in 87-88.
Preying Mantis was the 18Apr88 retaliation for almost breaking the USS Sammual B Roberts in two with a mine on 14Apr88.

IRN sunk:
- FFG Sabalan
- PTG Joshan
IRN damaged:
- FFG Sahand
IRGN sunk:
- 6x small boats
IRAF damaged:
- 1x F4
Other:
60-75% damage to two Iranian oil production platforms.

US losses:
- 1 AH-1 w/2 KIA (USMC)

The eight-hours war was not as conclusive as the fiction would claim...

(03Sep87-13Sep88 assigned COMIDEASTFOR I&W watch.)

IS1(SW), USN(Ret)

Posted by GK at January 31, 2007 5:16 AM ET:

DJ Elliot,

Why was it not conclusive if you sunk a sizable portion of their Navy?

This should be publicized more. I bet 98% of the people in the US have no recollection of Op. Praying Mantis. If they did, they wouldn't think Iran's conventional might was so great.

Posted by DJ Elliott at January 31, 2007 6:44 AM ET:

GK: You claim and wiki claims half.

At that time the Iranian navy had:
3x Destroyers
4x Frigates (1 sunk/1 damaged)
2x Patrol Gunboats
10x Missile Patrol Boats (1 sunk)
20x Patrol Craft/Boats
4x Landing Ship Tank
12x Landing Craft Utility

Iranian Revolutionary Guards Navy had:
250-300 small attack boats (6 sunk)

Iranian Air Force had 18-24x F14, 30-40x F4 and 28-35x F5 operational plus transports, etc.
Only one F4 was damaged.

Total Iranian losses were less than 20% of their operational regular Navy's combatants (30% of DD/FFG) and an insignificant portion of their Air Force/IRGCN, not even close to half...

Posted by DJ Elliott at January 31, 2007 6:52 AM ET:

P.S.
- 99% didn't know about OP Preying Mantis or Nimble Archer, etc when I came home on leave in '88.
- Or that we had weekly shooting incidents during that last year of the Iran-Iraq war.
- They were not reported, not newsworthy...

Why would you expect them to know about an 18 year old segment of the history of the US-Iranian War?

Posted by Marlin at January 31, 2007 9:03 AM ET:

There is a very good article this morning (1/31) in the Los Angeles Times about the cult group.

---------------------------------

But the camp itself, amid lush groves of eucalyptus and palm trees, offered a trove of details about the members of Heaven's Army.

They had plenty of food. Each fighter had his own supply of chocolate and biscuits. They were prepared: A 6-foot dirt berm and an equally deep trench surrounded the 50-acre compound.

They were well organized. Living in at least 30 concrete-block buildings, all the fighters had identification badges. The group published its own books and a newspaper. The members apparently were enamored with their leader, a charismatic man in his 30s named Dhyaa Abdul-Zahra, whose likeness adorned the newspaper.

And they were well armed and ready for battle. High-powered machine guns, antiaircraft rockets, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and late-model pickup trucks with mounted guns were scattered around the eight farms that make up the compound, about 10 miles north of Najaf.

Los Angeles Times: Cult had dug in for massive battle

Posted by Dale in Atlanta at January 31, 2007 4:35 PM ET:

I can hereby attest to as FACT, everything DJ Elliot is posting here on this board about Operation Praying Mantis!

I sat right beside him for six months, during that timeframe, in the SCIF, aboard the USS Coronado!

Posted by Andrew R. at January 31, 2007 5:36 PM ET:

I sat right beside him for six months, during that timeframe, in the SCIF, aboard the USS Coronado!


Surely you mean "SSES?"


/pedant

Posted by GK at January 31, 2007 7:29 PM ET:

DJ Elliot said :

"Total Iranian losses were less than 20% of their operational regular Navy's combatants (30% of DD/FFG) and an insignificant portion of their Air Force/IRGCN, not even close to half..."

Perhaps, but that is almost not even the point. The point is, we can damage a lot, or even all of their navy, with minimal losses to us. The actions of 1987-88 prove that.

Posted by GK at January 31, 2007 7:33 PM ET:

"Why would you expect them to know about an 18 year old segment of the history of the US-Iranian War?"

er..because those details are very relevant today. This would show that Iran is not nearly the mighty force the MSM makes them out to be.

Anti-war critics are quick to trot out VietNam anecdotes from 32, 35, or even 39 years ago, when they can be used to make America look like an imperial aggressor.

Posted by Dan at January 31, 2007 8:34 PM ET:

Does anyone know whether there is going to be some sort of official statement from DoD re Najaf battle?

I am quite interested in whether or not the US ground troops were in fact involved.

Posted by Neo-andertal at January 31, 2007 9:03 PM ET:

I didn't know the clashes against Iran where that significant. The press thought the Vincennes incident was significant, but we never got much of the context surrounding the incident.

Posted by DJ Elliott at January 31, 2007 11:57 PM ET:

Dan:
- Good Question. MNF-I, MNC-I and Centcom are claiming computer problems preventing any releases updating since 27 Jan.
- Fridays I MEF pentagon brief had ZERO questions asked about Najaf. The press must have been told not to bother.
- 31 Jan Brief canx.

= News Blackout still in progress.

Neo-andertal:
- We did not want to go to war with Iran.
So we didn't...
722 Iraqi Air strikes over the gulf of 1-14 aircraft each including long range strikes in the Anchorages off Larak Island (SoH). 212 merchant ships hit by Iran/Iraq plus too many incidents and mines to count during that year alone...
- According to the government owned Iranian National News Agency, they declared war on US eight times that year.

Andrew R:
- As to SSES vs SCIF. La Salle and Coronado are flagship configured with seperate spaces in the SCIF for SSES, CTOs and the Intel Space. You got to SSES by going thru the Intel Space (N2) and the comms section (CTOs).
- Me (IS1, USN) and Dale in atlanta (Cpt, USMC) were working the Intel space on the I&W watch. (I never could understand why the USMC component didn't take the Ground analysis from me over when we went joint.)
- I spent a good chunk of the time during Preying Mantis and Airbus in Flag Plot with phones on relaying to/from SSES.

Posted by DJ Elliott at February 1, 2007 12:03 AM ET:

"La Salle and Coronado are flagship configured"

CORRECTION: were

It is bad when all but one of the ships you served on is decommisioned and the Enterprise is due to go away in 2008...

Posted by Dale in Atlanta at February 1, 2007 1:29 AM ET:

Thanks for that info above DJ; way better than I could remember!

Hard to believe it's been 18 years!

R/dale

Posted by DJ Elliott at February 2, 2007 5:14 AM ET:

I listened to the phoncon with RADM Fox.
Only the Battalion's Scout Platoon was sent initialy.

If a US Platoon ran into ~1000 hostiles do you think they would:
A. Call for reinforcement?
B. Call for Air?
C. Run for nearest cover?
D. Probably start praying?
E. All of the above?

If you answered E you have common sense.

The press claimed that the entire Battalion went to check out the grove when it was just the Battalion's Scout Platoon. Big difference.

Posted by BobK at February 4, 2007 12:47 AM ET:

If you answered E you have common sense.

The press claimed that the entire Battalion went to check out the grove when it was just the Battalion's Scout Platoon. Big difference.

Posted by DJ Elliott | February 2, 2007 5:14 AM


DJ,

Not if you were in the German Army :

Dam straight they would..as LOUD and FAST as possible that radio would be smoking. Thats what those air guys are for, to HELP the guys down low get-r-done.

SOD SAYS;
funny but what i learned on this subject during officers traing was slightly different.

i guess you re talking about the american style of warfare?
sod | 02.02.07 - 10:28 am | #

Posted by BobK at February 4, 2007 1:00 AM ET:

OT

DJ

I have a question about ground troop movement behavior. After watching video after video of our Guys on the streets and hitting doors and entering buildings to check and clear. I want to yell at them to spread out!! My old training from mid 70's makes me go nuts when I see the guys bunched up next each other preparing to enter a door or something. When moving down the streets they seem to be bunched up and frankly , to easy a target. I remember being taught to spead out and stagger so anyone targeting you had a less dense target. It seems to often a IED or RPG would by default hit multiple personel since they are not spread out. Even a well placed machine gun would have little trouble with multiple hits.
Am I nuts or have others thought or seen the same things?

Posted by DJ Elliott at February 7, 2007 3:54 AM ET:

BobK

Urban Assault tactics.
- Look at how SWAT works when taking a building down.
- What you are not seeing is the perimeter and overwatch teams.
- Their job is to prevent the breach team from being blown prior to going thru the chokepoint of the door.
- The bunch up by the breach team is to get thru the door as fast as possible so as to spread out after they go thru.

Normaly the SFD-D/SEAL/SAS crew does the breach and close-quarter drill while the Rangers/USMC/Paras do the perimeter and overwatch.

In the I SOF it is 2CT Bn personnel doing the breach and CQD while 36 Cdo personnel do perimeter/overwatch.

Recommend you ask further questions on more recent posts. I almost missed this one...