Continuing Operations

Sporadic fighting continues as Coalition forces continue to root out remnants of the Islamofascists in Fallujah. The Coalition nets intelligence on terrorist organizations during houes to house searches. Zarqawi’s main headquarters is believed to have been discovered, and information discovered in the city has lead to the capture of insurgents outside of Fallujah. Defying the laws of war, terrorists were using an Islamic medical charity as a front organization for training, weapons storage and bomb making factories.

“On the surface, it looks real, with the Red Cross,” says an Arabic speaker who went through the documentation. “But their real job is something different…. It’s like a front company. This is a medical facility to help insurgents.”

Ledgers listed big ticket, Iraqi donors. More ledgers were for those receiving cash or food. Outside, garbage sacks were full of car alarms – a favorite for rigging command-detonated car bombs and explosives. Homemade RPGs lay in the dirt, not far from scores of Iraqi-made RPGs, oiled and stacked like cordwood. Antitank mines and mountains of rockets and mortars of every size and description choked the buildings. An initial explosion of larger ordnance – including 14 SA-7 surface-to-air missiles- – sent a cement mixer flying 120 yards through the air.

The United States has placed a $5 million dollar bounty on Zarqawi associate Abu Musab Al-Suri, who “trained terrorists in poisons and chemicals ” and “is an Al Qaeda member and former trainer at the Derunta and al-Ghuraba terrorist camps in Afghanistan.” Last year, Al-Suri was indicted in Spain along with Osama bin Laden and a host of other al Qaeda members. There is no indication Al-Suri is in Iraq, however the timing of the release of this bounty suggests he may very well be.

Mosul is the next city to be cleaned out as forces prepare to attack insurgent strongholds in the city. An Iraqi commando force wrests control of a hospital from the terrorists, which was used to treat their wounded. Zarqawi continues his brutality by beheading two Iraqi soldiers stationed in Mosul. Elsewhere in Iraq, Coalition forces raid a prominent Sunni mosque in Baghdad which was being used to incite violence against Coalition forces.

The intelligence finds unearthed in Fallujah cannot be overestimated. In their haste to leave the city before the assault, hand written records, computers, and video were left behind and will assist with the identification of members of the insurgency as well as their contributers and sources of weapons and material. Ongoing operations and arrests throughout the country suggest the intelligence gathered in Fallujah is paying dividends. And the willingness to raid Sunni mosques outside of combat zones indicates the Iraqi government is confident in asserting its power. Operations such as these would have been unthought of as recently as last summer. Expect the tempo of operations in western Iraq to increase. American troop levels will be boosted during the scheduled upcoming rotation of forces, and the return of some units have been delayed to exploit the increase in forces. American generals believe they have the insurgents on the run, and will want to exploit the intelligence gathered in Fallujah and the temporary influx of troops.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Terry Gain says:

    The intelligence finds unearthed in Fallujah cannot be underestimated.
    You of course mean overestimated. Thanks for the excellent posts. This is must reading. I hope that the back of the insurgency has indeed been broken. I don’t see how they can operate as effectively without their base in Fallujah.

  • Justin B says:

    This is an area where the insurgents had full reign for almost a year and a half. Now, they are forced to move into new areas and make new contacts. Many of their old contacts have been discovered.

    Iraq became much more dangerous if you are an insurgent. You have fewer and fewer friends, and many of the ones you do have are also on the run.

  • Bill H says:

    SA-7’s, RPG’s, etc. all that won’t be used against our troops. They can run but they can’t hide. This is the nature of our enemy. I realize the conclusions reached regarding Batth party member involvement are pure speculation. If, however, that scenario is true, then we need to consider how extreme the indigenous Iraqi terrorists have become.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Thanks for the catch, noted & corrected.
    Bill H.,
    I fixed your HTML, excellent article on Hassan. I am skeptical of the conclusion as well. The terrorists have shown zero remorse with killing other Muslims.

  • Tom F says:

    The last few days, I’ve been reading articles here and in the MSM about all the intel finds we’ve made in Fallujah. I’m shocked that even with all the advance warning of an impending U.S./Iraqi assault, the terrorists did not destroy all this documentation. How hard is it to burn it all? I’m not complaining–it’s a really great find–but isn’t it at least a little suspicious? The only explanation I can think of is that all the higher ups fled early, and none of the middle management that remained wanted to make the command decision to destroy the records. That, or some of it is false intel or plans that the terrorists have already thought about and discarded. Such red herrings could have us chasing our tails for months. But somehow, I don’t think they’re that sophisticated.

  • Eric Blair says:

    I don’t think they’re that good, either. They make mistakes. Everybody does. The trick is to take advantage of the other’s mistakes.
    Let’s hope this works.

  • Justin B says:

    Here is all that you need to know about the resolve of the terrorists–every time we have captured one of their leaders, they roll over with new intel almost immediately. They are cowards and the leaders ran as quickly as possible when we started rolling into Fallujah. they left the locals and the nobodies behind to fight.

  • zoomlens says:

    You know, I thought the same thing about the intel. It was just too easy. Obviously they knew we were going to get into that room. The argument is that we won so quickly that it took them by surprise. Hmm. How long does it take to pick something up when you are fixing to leave? And look what they left. I would be thinking why do they want me to think this!

  • Robert M says:

    Everyone needs to be careful here. I am not reading reports which make clear that the Baathist/Sunni insurgency and the Jihadists/foreign links have been destroyed. The amounts of weapons available
    doesn’t seem to have diminished by anyone’s account. The danger is out there from international players whom have their own concerns. The increase in troop strength still is not sufficient that there is a reserve to breach gaps that arise as pointed out in Mosul.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I hope you are not getting that impression from anything I have written. Falljuah is by no means the end of the insurgency and there is a great deal of work ahead. I also am of the mind that our troop levels are too low, but the plan seems to be that this will be suplimented by Iraqi troops as they come on line. Not a perfect solution militarily, but probably better politically in the long run.

  • Anonymous says:

    How about a comment on the NY Times article, just posted on their site, detailing the horrors of battle for Marines in Fallujah?

  • Beard says:

    Changing the subject a bit …
    Some time ago, I wrote here about the problem posed by our gigantic national debt, which has to be financed by lots of foreign investors. I raised the possibility of someone waging economic war against the USA simply by deciding not to roll over their investment and keep financing our debt. The deficit, of course, increases the national debt, and makes us more vulnerable to this kind of problem.
    The readership here was not concerned about this problem, feeling confident that the strength of the US economy is so great that we can overcome any such problem.
    I’ve been conversing with others who know more than I do about economics, and I have learned that it wouldn’t take a deliberate hostile attack to create an “avalanche” that could devastate our economy. (And simultaneously, probably, the rest of the world’s economy.) All it would take is foreign banks and investors to decide (for their own economic best interest) not to keep up with the increasing need for the USA to borrow money.
    A recent bit of trolling uncovered an essay from a commentator on the gold market. (// I don’t know much about that market, and nothing about this guy individually, but his point is pretty chilling.
    This blog focuses on attacks on the USA, and our ability to defend ourself from them. Certainly the most dangerous situation is when we get sand-bagged from a totally unexpected direction. This could very well be one of them.
    I have long been critical of the Bush administration’s casual attitude towards the national debt and the deficit. I consider this a massive failure, completely independent of the situation in Iraq.
    By deliberately creating this situation through irresponsible tax cuts, they have put our entire country in harm’s way. If we see massive economic declines and problems over the coming months, it will be the Bush Administration’s responsibility.

  • Ryan says:

    The insurgency is by no means over but the Fallujah operation seems to have dimished it a little bit by taking away a base where they could roam around freely and plan. I think the next month is huge. This looks like it can be won with proper operations right now. The only problem is that there don’t seem to be enough troops on the ground right now. We need more troops to raid insurgent bases all over the country like Ramadi and certain areas of Baghad and hold them until they are stable.

  • Douglas Muessle says:

    Your “Chicken Little” approach to debate has finally brought me out of lurker mode. You speak of our economy as a fixed entity against the powers of the world. You cite the gold price as an indicator of market conditions disregarding gold has not been pegged to the dollar for years. We have a 10 trillion dollar economy with inflation in check and productivity advancing upwards at a steady level. Almost every country in Europe is struggling with economic conditions much worse than ours. Asia is a comparative basket case. Latin America?
    All money cares about is finding a safe haven and growing. And America is it.
    I could site all this information, but I am tired. I will check back tomorrow, and if the information is requested, I will repost.
    Good Night, Sleep Well, America’s economy will be here in the morning.
    Douglas Muessle

  • Phil in OH says:

    It seems that there are some who actually hope that our economy will stumble so that we will be *forced* to pull back our international commitments. While I would not say that Beard is in that category, perhaps he is listening to those who are. It rather begs the question of how were we able to finance WWII. The country was still in a deep recession, if not outright depression. What was the national debt in the ’40’s as a percentage of GDP? Who bought all those war bonds? How long after the conclusion of the war did it take to restore pre-war economic conditions? Oh, wait, things were horrible before the war. It wasn’t until the early ’90’s that things were that bad again, at least according to one Presidential candidate at the time.
    To be sure, we absorbed some horrific aftershocks to our economy in the months following the 9/11 attacks. Those may impact us for years. But our economy has shown a resiliance that no other economy in the world can match. We can fund the GWOT. We must, or there may not be much worth passing to our children and grandchildren.

  • GIJoe33 says:

    The front of “Muslim Charity” is an old one that was used quite extensively in the Afghan War with the USSR. We will not get to see who all was on that list, because undoubtedly ALL of the Arab nations are on it! The Muslim religion asserts that 10% of all income be tithed and they follow it to the “T”. These so-called “charities” are set up and the $$ is funnelled into anti-western terrorist agencies.

  • Beard says:

    Douglas Muessle and Phil in OH,
    “Chicken Little” versus “Pollyanna”? Or perhaps you prefer Alfred E. Neuman’s “What? Me worry?”
    I’ve always figured that the responsible way to deal with things, personally or internationally, is “Hope for the best. Plan for the worst.” It’s important to look for potential problems and weaknesses that could sandbag us. Many of these problems are not insurmountable if we understand what we are facing, and take appropriate action. But if we ignore their existence, and wait until they explode in our faces, by then it may be too late for any solution at all.
    There’s an important book, “Normal Accidents” by Charles Perrow (Google it), that examines a number of case studies of complex “systems accidents” that have those characteristics. He’s looking at nuclear plants, chemical plants, ship navigation, and the like, but our economy and our ecology pose problems that are structurally even worse. A major characteristic is that these systems have huge momentum, so by the time the evidence is inescapable, it’s too late to avoid the catastrophe. But if you know what to look for, and can detect it (correctly) early enough, you can steer away from the crash.
    The economy may not look too bad on the surface right now, but it ought to make you uncomfortable that a lot of that is based on borrowed money. Borrowed money has to be paid back, and you pay interest in the meantime. All this talk of “It’s your money” is laughable when we are so deeply in debt. We Americans are so used to “living on plastic” that it doesn’t seem to make us nervous that it could all collapse if the debts have to be repaid.
    Where are the fiscal conservatives when we need them?

  • Douglas Muessle says:

    It’s like watching a Mexican jumping bean and trying to keep up.
    I completely and utterly disagree with you assumption that the entire Bush administration is ignoring the potential problems of our economy. Period.
    Second, your original post alludes to an external, directed ECONOCMIC force against the US, while your second involves an accident or some type of physical event. Please make up your mind on which issue we are discussing. I don’t take Ritalin.
    Third, and back to the economy, the US economy is robust and sound. It is also made up of a lot of good, hard-working people who get up every morning and do the best they can. In the 50’s we worried about the rise of Communism. In the 60’s we worried about Vietnam and the Space Race. In the 70’s we worried about Mutually Assured Destruction and Inflation, and Energy Crisis. In the 80’s we worried about Nuclear War, Junk Bonds, and really bad music. In the 90’s we worried about the ecology, Global Warming, and the economy. Now we worry about terrorism, the economy, and whatever else we can think of. This nation has been tested and vetted many times, and we are still here, Chicken Little be damned.
    “A fool can ask more questions in ten minutes, than ten wise men can answer in a day.”
    Douglas Muessle

  • Robert M says:

    The dangers to the national economy are very real if the world was to stop buying our debt. It is not like the early forties and through out WWII when we financed our own debt. Over 70% of our debt is held externally and is currently being debased by the decline in the dollar.
    A similiar situation took place in the 80’s with Mexican debt failure. Mexico used its petrodollars to borrow large sums of capital to build up its economy. It reached an inabliity to pay this debt when the price of oil began its precipitous decline. Soon all of its hard currency reserves were being depleted as the debt was sold back to Mexico and it in turn paid with dollars. This began a run on the currency(peso) bebasing it and a vicious cycle ensued. Mexico ended up borrowing huge amounts of money from the US as Brady bonds. All were paid back(I think the conclusion was 94). but Mexico’s economic growth was stifled for over a decade in order to pay back the debt. Another more current situation was the Asian currencies in the late 90’s.
    As the world’s largest debtor we can suffer such a run. As Mr Muessle points out currently it is not likely as we have the most stable govenment system to prevent a diaster. But if a run was to occur the system would move back to hard assets such as gold as there is currently no other perceived long term safe asset market and the world trade system would begin collapsing. Mr Greenspan himself warned of such a scenario on Fri while speaking at a world bankers conference in Europe(The wall street journal, Financial Times of London(its the pink one)and/or the Nikkei Shibbun(sic?) will be commenting on it for Monday morning.)

  • Beard says:

    Douglas Muessle,
    I didn’t say that the *entire* Bush administration ignored the problems of the economy. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil advised against the second round of tax cuts on grounds of fiscal responsibility, and lost his job for his pains.
    If you’ll look back at my first post here, you will see that the mention of an economic attack was a reference to a previous post, leading into a discussion here of disaster scenarios that did *not* depend on a deliberate attack.
    One of the problems with economic disaster, like the Great Depression for example, is that you can have “a lot of good, hard-working people who get up every morning and do the best they can”, but if there are no jobs, there’s no pay, and their children go hungry. Good intentions aren’t enough. You also need a system that is continuing to function. As Robert M points out (and he obviously knows more about this than I do), this scenario is not a silly fantasy. It really could happen.
    You point out that each decade, we worried about a whole lot of things, and we’re still here and healthy today. What conclusion do you propose we draw from this? That we should stop worrying?
    I propose the opposite conclusion: that by worrying about these things, and talking about them, we eventually got decision-makers to take appropriate action (or to stop taking inappropriate action), and we addressed many of those threats. I think that worrying about all these things is part of *why* we are still here today with a reasonably healthy country.
    Finally, let me say a few words about civil discourse. I’m certainly not always right; I’m willing to be educated; and I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong. But you’re not going to make your point to me (or to any other reader here, I expect) by simply calling me names and restating your claim that you are right and I am wrong.
    Where you do make a substantive point, I will try to address it, as in my paragraph 3 above. Obviously, we disagree, but I have addressed your claim in a courteous, substantive way. I hope I can expect the same from you.

  • Douglas Muessle says:

    I honestly did not intend to come off that strong. I will need to do a better job re-reading my posting in the future.
    I do think the Federal Debt is a problem, a growing storm. I also give the benefit of the doubt to the fact we needed additional funding for events that were out of our control. We were attacked. Now, if some amount of improvement is not provided, or a really, really good reason why not, I suppose a lot of people like myself are going to be less forgiving to the Republicans and the current administration. I believe the jist of our differences lies in trust. I trust Bush to take care of some serious business now, and fix this problem shortly. I assume you want Bush to take care of some serious business now, but don’t trust him to clean up the mess. My view suggests I start worrying in 2006. Yours suggests we start worrying now. But, like you said, we will both be worrying eventually.
    Going back to the apologetic side of this, while I have some coffee in my system, let me try to explain. I spent the last 13 years working for the citizens of the US. I spent the last three working quite a bit in counter-terrorism. I now work in finance. I think you inadvertently hit a nerve on me that I should have suppressed out of courtesy, but I didn’t. You have my apologies.
    Now, lets have some real fun in this debate forum and see how deep it goes.
    “The dangers to the national economy are very real if the world was to stop buying our debt. It is not like the early forties and through out WWII when we financed our own debt. Over 70% of our debt is held externally and is currently being debased by the decline in the dollar.” Robert, well done. However the current holdings of the US debt are 58.1 public and 41.9 intergovernmental. Still uncomfortable, but within the parameters of the design of the Federal Reserve.
    (I don’t know how to tag these things, so excuse my Neanderthal ways)
    In regard to Mexico, and de facto the Asia Crisis, and to a smaller amount, Brazil, I offer the following outcome. These countries, while technically vibrant and industrious, do not have the breadth and depth of the US. Mexico relied heavily on Oil, Asia on Real Estate, and Brazil on agricultural exports. To the best of my knowledge, no one sector of our economy is so dominating as to cause this crisis. Potentially, the nearest issue is energy costs, because these touch so many parts of our fiscal health. But energy has become too much of a “Chicken Little” issue for my tastes. Before my reference drives you away, let me explain. We are inundated with data daily on energy costs, forecasts, and analysis. But some data and economic theories are left out of the discussion. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve sits at 671 Mbls., and has been quietly increasing for a year. We are now at 120 days of reserve against imports, and indefinitely against up to a 10 Mbls/ Day drop in imports available. Saudi last announced a 2 Mbls/day capacity remaining.
    Also, based on Simon’s Argument for the Infinite Extent of Resources, the true extent of our ability to provide Energy to this country is vastly underrated in the typical news broadcast. Based on the three premises that there will be 1) discoveries of new reserves, 2) invention of substitute items, or 3) technological advances allowing continued use of existing resources, we should be using oil,, burning coal, and firing up nuclear plants for a long time.
    My point on this, as I said in a very unfriendly tone earlier, is that I don’t see the particular need for the term crisis.
    Also, you mentioned jobs and wages. I would ask that you clarify that for me. I know what the unemployment rates are, and what the average income for a family is, but could you clarify why that is particularly noteworthy. I feel for people who do not earn enough to survive, but are we at that point now?

  • Robert M says:

    Mr Muessle
    ppThe numbers sited upon analysis show how grave the problems are. Intergovernmental debt in Treasury Securities held by other govt agencies which by law must hold them. So our debt is borrowed against our debt like a second mortgage. If your income doesn’t rise fast enough to cover interest rates you will go broke. The only place to get this money is from the public as taxes. In Mar1994 total holdings of debt was $4,575.9 b of which foreign interest held $661.1. As of Mar2004 the numbers were $7,131.1 and $1,706.9 respectively. Or 1.4% was held in 94 vs 2.39% now and a 64% increase in the total amount of the debt. What has changed is while the conomy is nominally growing the share of taxes paid by everyone to fund it has gone down and by business precipitously. Further everyday more government debt is created as business(airlines currently and steel and coal approx 5yrs ago) sheds its responsiblity for pensions and pension related health costs to either the govt through pension protection funds or as retiress go on Medicare or pay more for the costs themselves decreasing their income. This same income is also taxable leading to a reduction in dollars for consumption. ( A discussion of the use of the Bankruptcy code to discharge societal contracts is another discussion). Worse, the Social Security problem is aggravating the situation because its surplus’ are declining and they currently fund government borrowing.
    ppThe breadth of the US economy is also being hollowed. We all know the Billy Joel song about Allentown, Pa. Let’s think about how long they existed as economic engines approx 35-40 yrs. What replaced them were the outlet mall boom. It lasted about 15 years till the mid 90’s. In Scranton a few miles up the road aboom occurred in manufactoring of Internet goods by NOrthern Telecom, Lucent andCorning Glass from 98 to 01. In short the economic cycle is decreasing and with it comes a decline in long term wealth growth for the average worker. Worse the jobs themselves don’t just decline in number but go to less expensive manufactoring countries. Any remaining ones pay substanially less
    For those who think this is a working class screed think about jobs in the movie industry. Look at where films and especially TV are produced is overseas or the decline in engineering jobs in Silicon Valley.
    For those who think productivity is an answer. Remember for a very small amount of income you can increase the output. As this happens the income earners whom purchase output are becoming fewer and fewer. This leads to a defaltionary cycle. Our costs as consumers do not go into the inflationary numbers. For example anyone who reads this take a look at your insurance bills-health, car, life; or non-energy utility bills. If you adjust for a constant gallon, kilowatt,and/or driving mileage they go up every year and you have no control of them. So again a deflationary effect is occuring domestically.
    ppIf you are thinking it is good for business. You are correct. But for society as a whole and for government expenditures it is a lurking disaster because there is less income to pay off a growing amount of debt.
    The small pp are to indicate paragraphs. I am unable to use blank lines this time for that purpose.

  • Beard says:

    Douglas Meussle and Robert M,
    I greatly appreciate the revised tone of discourse. Internet discussions tend so strongly to flaming that it brings out the school-teacher in me.
    I don’t think we are in the midst of an economic disaster at the moment. What I’m worried about is that we could be hollowing out the strength of our economy so we will sail happily along, confident in the indefinite future, until all of a sudden the boat goes down, with little warning.
    Intricate, feedback-dominated systems often have that characteristic. They compensate for small problems, and keep everything looking normal. At some point, the ability to compensate runs out, and then the dynamics of the system changes to something quite different. Sometimes, what it changes to is a positive feedback “avalanche”, moving the system unstoppably to some entirely different operating point. (This is what happens if you get a run on the bank, or a panic on Wall Street. It happened in 1987 when the automatic trading systems of a number of major players got into a high-speed loop and responded to each other incredibly quickly before humans could realize what was happening and pull the plug. The market lost 25% of its value that day.)
    This could happen in the economy around the problem of financing our public debt. It’s possible it could happen when it becomes clear that we’ve passed the point where the rate of discovery of new oil reserves becomes less than the rate of increase of world oil usage. (That point has a well-known name, but I forget it.) You are correct that there is still lots of oil, and lots of other ways to protect ourselves, but the psychology behind the market changes, so economic actors act differently, in order to protect themselves.
    It could also happen around global warming. Have you seen the movie “The Day After Tomorrow”? Some parts of it are just silly (the ice will not chase you down the corridor). But the fundamental premise is correct: global warming could melt enough fresh water from the ice caps to change the path of the Gulf Stream, eliminating the heat pump that keeps the North Atlantic countries warm. The problem will happen over a decade, maybe, rather than a week, but that really shouldn’t be much comfort if you are thinking about the national economy or the national welfare.
    You figure that George Bush will change his stripes by 2006. I figure that what we see is what we get. But I don’t get to vote in another national election until 2006, so I guess it doesn’t make much difference, does it?
    What I saw in early 2001 (before 9/11) was someone who was handed an economic bonanza in the form of a budget surplus by his predecessor. There were a few economic clouds on the horizon, but instead of saving the surplus to handle the recession and help pay down the debt (and the debt service, too), he declared that everything was great for the forseeable future, and gave each tax-payer $300, and cut taxes to make sure we didn’t get a surplus again. Do you know where your $300 is? Neither do I.
    Then after 9/11, and with the recession in full swing, he says we have to do it again, and cut taxes further, going further into debt.
    So, do I think he’ll change his stripes by 2006? No.

  • Robert M says:

    I’m not sure this blog is the right place to keep having this discussion.I’m very comfortable that the Jihadists can not collapse the US economy through a debt call. A couple of nukes in Manhattan is a different story.
    The ability to fight any kind of war depends on a number of things but to sustain it you need a viable economy. I’m looking for a blog to discuss what is happening to the economy and how it effects us all. Especially the politics of how the economy is effected.
    A good look at the economics of the war against the Jihadists I think would be a source for discussion.
    Staring w/ the costs of just protecting the economy.(see Philadelphia Inquire Sun 21 Nov for the cost to police forces for example). I will leave it to Mr. Roggio to pick the matters for discussion.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Robert, Beard, etc.
    I have no problem with these discussions going on here, I try not to stifle discussion. I am very interested in these subjects as well and learn much from reading your debates. I am not comfortable in writing on economic issues with any authority as my knowledge and understanding in these areas are limited. But please continue to discuss these issues if you wish.
    I have asked a couple of people to write about economic terrorism and hope to have something about this in the future. I happen to think the threat of this is of a magnitude or two lower than physical threats (9/11 style, WMD attacks, etc.), but we should not ignore their potential to damage our economy and way of life.`


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