Hot in Haditha

iraq_hiditha.jpgThe River War continues. US Marines are engaged in a tough fight in the Euphrates River city of Haditha. Operation New Market commenced on May 25 to pacify the city, and the fighting has intensified in recent days. On August 1, six Marines were killed when engaging the enemy in a firefight. On August 2, terrorists conducted the perfect roadside bombing, and fourteen Marines were killed when their amphibious assault vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device.

The terrorists continue to shield themselves by using civilian infrastructure as their bases of operations. A school is turned into a pillbox and an armory.

Marines from Regimental Combat Team-2 were attacked with mortar fire from terrorists occupying a local schoolhouse. The building was rigged with explosives and fortified with .30 caliber machine guns in the windows. Coalition forces determined that the school was being used as a weapons cache site.

The engagement began while forces were conducting a cordon and search of the area, during which a weapons cache of rockets was discovered nearby. M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks were in support of the assault on the building. Coalition aircraft also engaged targets within the building. Numerous secondary explosions were observed. Coalition forces on the scene described the secondary explosions as being larger detonations than the bombs that were dropped.

While the Coalition pushes harder in Anbar, the disparate elements of the insurgency met in Lebanon to create a central front to the American presence and the Iraqi government. Mohammed from Iraq the Model details the meeting, and reports the meeting didn’t last long before turning into a “grand failure” .

After the 1st session, objections came 1st from the armed groups themselves where they said that no one had the right to represent them “we are the ones to lead Iraq and we are the only body that has the right to decide for the Iraqi people and there shall be no politics or negotiations of any kind” That statement of the armed groups left the other groups in bewilderment; who’s going to fill the security vacancy if America left? UN peace-keeping forces? Or forces from the Arab league?

The armed groups answered by “NO” for both suggestions as they believe that both institutions are under American influence and they helped America invade Iraq(!!). The representatives of the armed groups said that they are capable of controlling Iraq and that there’s no need for any kind of foreign troops  Actually even the Sadrists were shocked when the heard those people talking in the name of Saddam and Ezzat [Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the former vice chairman of Saddam’s Baathist Revolutionary Command Council] and referring to them as if they were the legitimate leaders of Iraq.

The Sadrists and the patriotic democratic trend [pan-Arabist] asked the Ba’athists to give up on the past regime and apologize to the Iraqi people for the atrocities committed by the Ba’ath as a condition to resume cooperation. But the Ba’athists refused and the Sadrists left the conference and so did the patriotic democratic trend.

Mohammed reports the Sunni parties are planning on participating in the upcoming elections this fall. Iraq’s constitutional committee has pledged to complete the draft on time, and the committee chairman reports “even the Sunni Arabs insisted on meeting the deadline.”

The push into Anbar province is chipping away at the insurgent’s control of the Sunni regions. The saner elements of the insurgency understand the intractable nature of the extremists. Sunni groups are committing to the political process.

Add these events together, and the reasons for violence in the Sunni regions of Iraq become clear. The insurgency is disjointed and unorganized, and cannot muster any meaningful support among the Iraqi people. To achieve victory, they must disrupt the political process, and the only means they have at their disposal is violence. That they can offer, and do so regularly.

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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10 Comments

  • GK says:

    Bill,
    So, not knowing enough about it, I had assumed that we cleaned out that region already. Is this one of the last strongholds of terrorist/anti-US forces in Iraq, or are they many more? 20 US troops have died in 48 hours.
    It seems like this is becoming more and more like that game where you hit groundhogs with a mallet, and two more pop up out of a different hole. You hit them faster and harder, but then they keep popping up in different holes…
    How do we actually measure whether we are progressing on a macro scale, or not? Short of big events like the capture of Saddam or the Jan’05 elections, there seems to be little that we at home can use to estimate progress..

  • Patrick says:

    GK,
    Let me take a stab at this. Since this war is not to hold ground,it is difficult as all guerilla conflicts are to have failure/success metrics.
    Let’s start with the fact that we entered Baghdad may,2003. Until about 6 weeks ago,we had NOT entered these regions we’re discussing. That’s progress it appears to me. We are free to do so with the same numbers of US troopers that have always be in country. Thank the IA for this,IMO.
    In fact,I think it’s fair to say that the area of revolt is narrowing. My evidence to support this view is Baquba,which I think is in the Diyala Province(northeast of Baghdad),though not nice,has been left to lesser units and a combat battalion has moved from Baquba to Ramadi(Capital of Anbar???) to support ops in Ramadi. It’s still a bad place to be,we are upping the ante there as well as Anbar,leaving the farther eastern regions to lesser prepared US and IA battalions.
    Mosul is a TOUGH as hell fight,has been now for about 8 months. Ramadi,tough nut. West Anbar,Saddam didn’t go there,remember? The IA stayed away from where our Marines are tonight.
    Are we winning? I think so,I see us advancing into their rear areas. Casualty rates are up,because we’re going where the fight is.
    Can we miserably fail? Yes,we can and I posit we just might. I fear we’re close to running out of patience and we ought not be,the IA,while not ready to go solo,is SO much superior today than 1 year ago it is astonishing,1 year from now it will be that much better in all respects.
    The terror side is tough,numerous,well funded,well armed and ruthless,but the only way we fail,IMO,is if we leave too soon OR their young males STOP signing up to the IA and the IP.
    THAT is not happening,so it’s us that will pull this thing down if we both fail.

  • Enigma says:

    Patrick makes some very good points. It is difficult to define metrics for this kind of a fight. But we can take some measure of how things are going by realizing that the political process is the key to victory. I think Bill does a very good job in this post to point out areas where the political process is really starting to bear fruit, especially among the Sunnis.
    And those who believe that military disaster is foretold by every Coalition casualty need to look closer at military history. The most intense fighting of a battle often occurs near the end. When the losing side recognizes the hopeless of their situation, they strike back with full fury in a desperate attempt to stem the tide of defeat. Okinawa and the Battle of the Bulge are excellent examples in recent military history. We may now be seeing this with the insurgency. Only time will tell.

  • GK says:

    OK. The following two things will be helpful to see to understand progress :
    1) A full map of Iraq of what Patrick has said i.e. regions where we have gone in and subdued them, regions we are now going into the first time, and regions where we have yet to go. Then, we can get an idea of whether we are 30%, 50%, or 80% towards our goals.
    2) I understand the Battle of the Bulge/Okinawa concept, and have said very often that people who form theior opnions off of television news would do well to understand how many casualties we had in WW2, Korea, and Vietnam vs. today.
    BUT, we look at the BB/Okin example with the benefit of hindsight. Using that example today implies there is some reason to think we are 6 months from a decisive victory, which it appears we are not. At best, we can hope for a 50% troop withdrawal in 18 months. I don’t know if public support can last that long with the MSM chipping away every day.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Political support at home is essential for this war, which is why big media events have been the only thing that reverse the continued drop in the polls for the war. If we get the Constitution written on time we will be pretty good at least until about May 2006.
    Remember the Constitutional Referendum will be a big media event, not as big as January 30th, but enough to convince people we are making progress there. And, then you are going to have the trial of Saddam at about the same time (followed later by his execution) and that will be a good help and a distraction for the media from their focus on the daily suicide bomb that kills X. And, finally in December there will be the permanent election and if the Sunnis do take part the media will portay it positively and it will be a boost in support for the war.
    After all is said and done I suspect the three big events if they come out positively will buy us another 6 months in Iraq. After that if the daily violence continues the only things that will be able to bring the ratings and buy us another 6 months of support for the war will be the catch of one of the two highest value targets Zarqawi or Bin Laden.

  • GK says:

    So, that is similar to what I said before – we have to have a big positive event every 6 months. If we get the constitution done and the permanent election goes well, we still better be able to have a 50% reduction in troops no later than Dec 2006.
    If not, we might have a problem…

  • Patrick says:

    I think the PATIENCE or DETERMINATION of the people of the USA will decide this war. Not the soldiers,not the thin gray line,but us. The soldiers never fail us,we fail them.
    Additionally,let’s add in this data.
    Our casualties were LOW in 1972 in Vietnam and our casualties were HIGH in 1944 in Europe and the Pacific,all relatively speaking.
    Which one would anyone have predicted victory in?
    1944,right?
    At the end of the day though,it’s a fact,victory or defeat in this GWOT is hostage to a populace that does not remotely understand the conflict we’ve accepted combat in.

  • Al-Reuters At It Again

    The news that the Sunni’s will be participating in the upcoming elections is probably making the terrorist’s even more desperate

  • leaddog2 says:

    Actually, the war on Terror is hostage to the Terrorist Loving and supporting media and the Demoncratic traitors who hate you and America’s military.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    GK:
    “1) A full map of Iraq …”
    I have something like what you have in mind in the works, be patient. The data is difficult to gather, and it won’t pan out 100% like what you want, but it should help.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis