Squeeze Play

Persistent military pressure is a vital part of defeating the Iraqi insurgency. A question that occasionally emerges after a significant combat operation in Iraq is: Are there enough combat forces available to sustain persistent operations against the insurgency? While there may not be enough American forces in Iraq to effectively execute each and every operation, the responsibility of combating the insurgency is increasingly shifting to the Iraqi Security Forces. As the Iraqi Security Forces have taken a great responsibility for local security efforts, Coalition and Iraqi forces gain greater flexibility to mount offensive efforts to disrupt terrorist and insurgent strongholds.

Security operations continue in the wake of Operation Matador. In the vicinity of Abu Ghraib, just west of Baghdad along the Euphrates River, a joint Coalition – Iraqi operation dubbed Squeeze Play is under way. The assault force is comprised of 4 battalions of Iraqi infantry, 3 battalions of Iraqi Special Police Commandos and elements of the 10th Mountain Division’s Task Force 2-14. This is an Iraqi-heavy operation and has yielded great success on the first day. Over 285 terrorists have been detained.

In the Kerbala province (south of Baghdad, see map), a brigade of Polish and a brigade of Iraqi infantry execute Operation Peninsula and round up 184 terrorists and uncover a significant weapons cache.

Operations continue in the Mosul region, one of the insurgency’s major rat lines from Syria. In the latest news, 18 suspects have been detained. Michael Yon, who has been embedded with the 24th Infantry Regiment in Mosul, reports that the American forces are effectively shouldering the responsibility of providing security. He also states the Iraqi Security Forces are becoming more effective in assisting in local security operations:

The friendly forces in Iraq are also an amalgamation. In Iraq as a whole, the Coalition is comprised of soldiers from many countries. But here in Mosul, the “Coalition” is almost entirely US, charged with building the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), while simultaneously keeping the insurgents at bay until the ISF can take over. Building the ISF is part of a larger plan that will allow our people to come home, but without leaving a wounded Iraq victim to septic fundamentalism from within, or invasion from opportunistic neighbors.

Some definitions: The ISF includes the Iraqi Police (IP), Iraqi Army (IA), Iraqi National Guard (ING), Border Patrol (BP), and sundry other groups, each with their own initials. Every month the ISF becomes a greater and more proximate threat to FRE and extremists groups throughout Iraq. This is borne out in a most ironic fashion; evidence of the growing competence and capability of ISF shouts from the headlines as the Iraqi government becomes the primary focus of insurgent attacks.

Gone are the days when the FREs and extremists in Mosul chased police from their stations and ravaged entire neighborhoods at will. Today, the ISF kills and captures enemy every day in Mosul, something that seldom makes news.

In my own dispatches I rarely mention these successes, yet I see or hear about small operations every day, collecting in ever larger pools of confidence and stability. There’s no time to write about each event; this would be like trying to describe every raindrop that hits the windshield while keeping up with a fast moving storm. Eventually, a competent witness must stop taking mere notes, and step back to see the storm for what it is.

The next dispatch will explain how Deuce-Four has captured nearly one-hundred insurgents in the past three weeks, and how three drugged-up foreign homicide bombers were caught last night.

The attacks on the Iraqi Security Forces and civilians highlight the fears of the insurgency and their perception on the current state of affairs in Iraq. The insurgents’ activities alienate them from most Iraqis, even from those who would provide their natural base of support. The terrorists and insurgents recognize this, and lash out against the Iraqi civilians in an attempt to cow them and at the Iraqi Security Forces in an attempt to destroy their morale.

Meanwhile, Iraqi citizens continue to dime out the “resistance” . The Iraqi Security Forces execute operations at the battalion and brigade level, which require greater sophistication and competence. This is part of the story the media doesn’t want to tell you about Iraq. Car bombs, assassinations and potential civil strife are much more interesting from the media’s perspective, but it is a small part of the picture that reflects the desperation of the insurgents, and not their power.

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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