Operation Hunter Redux

Last week, the Coalition announced that Operation Hunter (or Sayaid), designed to bolster Coalition forces in the region of Qaim on the Syrian border, was underway. Yesterday, Iraq’s Chief of Interior Ministry Commandos stated that Iraqi commandos will conduct sweeps in the border area beginning Tuesday (it is unclear if this means operations are currently underway, or if the deployment is moving forward). KUNA intimates the operations will be an Iraqi led endeavor, but no doubt the Marines based in Qaim as well as Special Operations units, Air Force, Naval and army artillery assets will participate.

This news coincides with an article in the San Francisco Chronicle that claims al Qaeda has gained control of the desert towns of Husaybah, Karabila, Sada, Qaim, and Ubaydi. Earlier this month, similar rumors about Haditha were reported, while the claim of the establishment of the “Islamic Republic of Qaim” were dismissed by Marine Major Neil Murphy as a “crock”.

Recently, Lieutenant Colonel Julian Alford, commander of the 3/6 Marines in Qaim reports the terrorists are threatening the townsfolk with beheadings if they did not clear the area. LTC Julian states “For the time being, they run these towns.” Al Qaeda is posting signs warning residents not to cooperate with the Coalition, and has passed out flyers threatening to behead residents of the towns if they do not leave. Colonel Stephen Davis, commander of the Marines Regimental Combat Team 2, states that “Marine forces have played a game of cat and mouse with the insurgency up and down the Euphrates River valley.”

The likelihood is that Colonel Davis, LTC Julian and Major Murphy are all correct. al Qaeda has continually run up the black flag in this region and elsewhere to grab media headlines, and the Marines have continually moved in to eject the terrorists or have conducted numerous strikes at their infrastructure and leadership. There have not been enough forces available to police every town in western Anbar, and the Coalition’s strategy of targeted airstrikes and raids is designed to keep the enemy off balance. LTC Julian alludes to this when he states “have seen a lot of guys in black pajamas and black ski masks and with weapons, and we’ve killed a number of them.”

Whether or not al Qaeda controls the small towns in the region is irrelevant. What does matter is the Coalition, and particularly the Iraqi Army, is prepared to move into Qaim in force. LTC Julian states the operations along the eastern end of the Euphrates River has driven the insurgents and al Qaeda westward. He estimates that upward to 400 fighters are in the region, and the majority are foreign. There are 3,000 Iraqi soldiers prepared to move into the region “soon” .

The pieces are in place to move on Qaim. Col. Davis states the City of Hit is secure, with a strong Marine and Iraqi security force presence. The elimination of the al-Ahwal Brigade in Hit underscores Coalition’s freedom of action and the level of cooperation from the local population in Hit. Rawah has a major base of operations. Habbaniyah, Ramadi, Khan Al Baghdadi, Al Asad Air Base, the Haditha Dam and Qaim all sport a significant Coalition presence, including Iraqi Security Forces [see this article on US and Iraqi forces being moved into the area and the accompanying map]. The Euphrates is clearly being segmented to force the insurgents into smaller and smaller regions.

The San Francisco Chronicle inadvertently gets to the heart of the issue, when it states “Insurgent forces have in the past controlled major towns in Iraq, especially in the so-called Sunni triangle north and west of Baghdad, including Fallujah, Ramadi and, most recently, Haditha.” These cities were major jewels in al Qaeda and the insurgency’s crowns.

Today, Fallujah, Ramadi, Hit and other towns along the eastern branch of the Euphrates River are under Coalition control [with the exception of Haditha, whose status is unclear]. al Qaeda and the insurgency now claim they control the towns of Husaybah, Karabila, Sada, Qaim, and Ubaydi. These are towns with small populations on the outer edge of Iraq, far from the core of power in Iraq. The insurgency is being driven westward, and the Coalition is in pursuit.

This does not mean that al Qaeda and the insurgency cannot conduct attacks within Baghdad and other major cities. They continue to do so, and will be a deadly foe for some time. But these attacks do not forward the goals of al Qaeda and the insurgency – driving the Americans from Iraq and destabilizing the Iraqi government. With without control of territory and safe havens within Iraq, conducting an effective insurgency becomes increasingly difficult, particularly for al Qaeda, whose brutality has been rejected by large swaths of the native insurgency.

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

68 Comments

  • desert rat says:

    Really enjoy your reporting and commentary.
    During the Tal Afar campaign the Iraqi Defense Minister told the people of Samarra and Ar Ramadi not to fear, that help was on the way. He said this in spite of US presence in both cities.
    How is US control of these cities progressing? Do we have control of these places, or only besieged outposts?
    If we have real control, why do you think the Defense Minister speaks of the need to free these cities? As I recall his schedule of liberation was concurrent with the Ratification Election.

  • ted says:

    Hi Bill, Quick question from yesterday’s thread:
    The Reuters report says that Zarqawi’s group is only about 15% of the “insurgents,” and that foreign fighters comprise maybe 10-15% of the “insurgency.” I rarely believe anything on Reuters, but I’m curious: if they’re correct, how does this explain that something like 2/3 of the terrorists captured are foreign? Is it that the Iraqi terrorists always manage to get away, or is Reuters wrong again?

  • Matthew says:

    The coalition can patrol cities and respond and set up ambushes against the terrorists all to their best of their abilities without really controlling the cultural atmosphere of the locale. Which is why it was so important that Iraqi army and police units participate in the “final prep to takeover of the town” so to speak. I suspect the obvious theme that Bill has been developing throughout this series on the Anbar province – that Tal Afar was the first of a classic textbook of breaking terrorist operations within cities. The Coalition forces raiding and striking the enemy throughout the surrounding area and establishing a cordon of support around the city/town in question is prepping the battlefield conditions for the “final takeover” of the town by Iraqi and police forces assigned to HOLD and police the city. As Bill noted, the casulaties taken by the Iraqi/Coalition forces during the takeover at Tal Afar was astonishing low while the disarrayed terrorist castualities and captures high was due to all this battlefield prep.
    Much kudos and thanks to Bill for his hard work of reporting and summary commentary of the front line combat operations of the Iraqi war in the Sunni provinces. This past month has been especially outstanding and, as a result, I am always eager to hear his analysis of the day’s news. Why the MSM cannot do (or will not do) such type of analysis and only relying on body count and disconnected reporting of the day’s events is becoming beyond comprehension and a source of disgust for me.

  • desert rat says:

    ted,
    If I may be so bold, There have been well over 30,000 detainees processed through Coalition Forces. Out of this detainee population, there have been under 1,000 foreigners. According to retired General Jack Keane, former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, last August, we had killed or detained 50,000 enemy. Of the aprox. 20,000 KIA ther have only been a “few” 1,000 – 2,000 foreigner KIA. Mostly, I think, in Fallujah and Tal Afar, as well as most of the homicide bombings.
    I think Rueters estimate of 10- 15$ is high, IMO it should be closer to 5 – 10%. Based on detainee populations.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    ted,
    Without specific references to source quotes it is difficult to determine where Reuter’s get their info.
    To just list some of the “pitfalls” of assumptions.
    Different groups operate in different areas and employ different tactics. So we end up with information based on “locality” being generalized into something broader.
    So a Major giving an interview near AlQaim might say “2/3rds of insurgents are foreign fighters”.
    A Major operating in say Sammarra might say 2/3rds of insurgents are Former Regime Elements.
    A Major operating in Basra might say “2/3rds of insurgents have ties to Iran”
    Then there is the MNF-Iraq official language -which defines 3 groups –
    Terrorist Extremists
    Rejectionists
    Former Regime Elements
    The terrorist extremists generally engage in attacks with little military value other than to intimidate the civilian population. Blowing up bus stations etc.
    The rejectionists and Saddamists tend to focus their attack on what some would describe as “legitimate” targets, Coalition Soldiers, ISF, and Government officials. As such, they are not referred to as terrorists, but Anti-Iraqi Forces.

  • snowflake says:

    Desert Rat is right on. The vast majority of FF we pick up in Iraq is done with a shovel, leftovers from suicide attacks. To date we have captured less than 300 FF out of the 70,000 (most released) or so detainees. I would guess the number is much lower than 10%.

  • nancy says:

    One hopes for the best and especially that the hopes in the Chronicle article are correct, that the terrorists have been forced from many areas and are concetrating in an attackable region.
    But unless this Marine commander is lying, then the claim made a few weeks ago that terrorists did not hold Qiam was *crock* It was a lie. You can’t hold and not hold.
    For you to rationalize this shows a complete lack of integrity and a desire to undermine faith in our effort by supporting the same sort of dishonest PR that helped undermine support in Vietnam. Remember Congressman Rumsfeld himself attacked the method of “spin” back then.
    For you to rationalize and justify it now shows a lack of history.

  • Justin Capone says:

    al-Qaeda in Iraq is 85-90% Iraqi according to Reuters, which is something that is important to remember.
    Although the Jordanian-born Zarqawi has long been associated with foreign fighters, officials believe 85 to 90 percent of al Qaeda in Iraq’s members are Iraqi.
    //www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N27231955.htm

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Ted & desert rat,
    It seems to me your questions are in good hands.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    nancy,
    As for your slight against me, perhaps you should re-read the post, and perhaps you will see I attempted to fairly address both sides of the argument in as brief a manner as possible, and gave LTC Julian’s statements more keystrokes than the one liner I gave to Maj. Murphy. I presented their arguments, and am not rationalizing anything.
    I am not of the habit of calling officers liars. I think there are good reasons for the disagreement on the status of Qaim between Major Murphy and LTC Julian. There is a time difference in the statements, and the situation out west has been admittedly fluid. LTC Julian is new in theater, and his perception of the situation appears to be different than Maj. Murphy. Maj. Murphy was adressing Qaim specifically, while LTC Julian discussed five towns. Just because the Coalition is not holding Qaim does not mean that al Qaeda is; it is possibile (and quite likely) Qaim is in an indeterminate stated. Running up an al Qaeda banner or handing out leaflets does not mean al Qaeda holds anything. It means they can run up an al Qaeda banner or hand out leaflets…
    Make of that what you will.

  • Ike says:

    The media now wants us to believe that Zarqawi’s men are only a tiny percentage of the insurgency..
    //rds.yahoo.com/S=53720272/K=Zarqawi/v=2/SID=e/l=NSR/R=1/SIG=140lqam15/EXP=1128016235/*-http%3A//www.usnews.com/usnews/welcome/entry.php?refer=25181&pageUrl=/usnews/news/articles/050928/28natsec.htm
    and at the same time believe that they are in control of the majority of the insurgency…//rds.yahoo.com/S=53720272/K=Zarqawi/v=2/SID=e/l=NSR/R=4/SIG=13v82ip58/EXP=1128016235/*-http%3A//www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/27/AR2005092701601.html?nav=rss_nation/special
    Its somewhat amusing that both of these contradicting stories come out within hours of each other. Only one of them can be right, which is it?

  • GK says:

    What is the current progress of building the Iraqi military? How many battalions are Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, etc…?

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    nancy,
    “Holding and Not Holding”
    Sammarra is a better example of the problematic definition of “holding”
    There are 300 or so US Soldiers(according to 42ID official press releases) that have been permanently parked in the center of Sammarra since last October. They patrol, they make arrests, they kill bad guys. It is also one of the most violent towns in North Central Iraq.
    Who “holds” Sammara?

  • Annoy Mouse says:

    What is most fascinating to me is that the terrorists are forcing residents to leave. It doesn’t seem to me to be for humanitarian reasons either, if you don’t leave you will be “beheaded”

  • Ike says:

    //www.csmonitor.com/2005/0928/p01s01-woiq.html
    Christian Science Monitor reports that the US military is making serious intelligence gains into al Qaeda in Iraq.

  • Buckster says:

    Seeing how things are going, wouldn’t it be fairer in a comparison to VietNam to view the Terrorists as being in a quagmire ? with the Coalition Forces playing the role of the NVA and VC and the Terrorists playing the role of the Western forces (French or US) at their least effective point in the most VC oriented regions ? The terrorists may go just about anywhere they want and do some damage, but they can’t hold anything for long and are losing the support of the populace. Kind of like the days when Western forces could do what they wanted with helicopters but couldn’t really hold the VC territory. Meanwhile, the Coalition has lots of safe strongholds, overwhelming manpower that is growing daily, growing populace support, and growing areas of total dominance. In Vietnam, the French gave up and the US learned different approaches to start winning over the populace and to secure the ground – until it also gave up due to politics and media.

  • Cruiser says:

    One possible narrative for what is going on out west along the Euphrates is that there were some Sunni tribes who wanted to try to kick out the Jihadi’s (and reduce the power of other tribes supporting the jihadis) themselves without the support of U.S. or Iraqi troops on the ground (but with some tactical air power). This is evident in the reports of “red-on-red” fighting in the past several months and in the occassional devastating air strike on Jihadis in the area. It appears that they have not succeeded. It is not not suprising given the fanaticism of the jihadis, the neaby Syria border and the fact that the Jihadis are being concentrated in this area as a result of being foced out of other areas in Iraq. I suspect that those tribes that tried to kick out the Jihadis have given the green light to Iraqi operations (not as hard to swallow as an American operation) to clear their towns.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Bill,
    Some interesting tidbits in GWB’s Rose Garden speech
    //www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/09/20050928.html
    12+ Iraqi Army Battalions in Ramadi and Fallujah
    20+ Iraq Army Batalions in Baghdhad
    100+ Iraqi Army Battalions Countrywide

  • GJ says:

    Buckster, That’s a real dumn ass thing to say. That comparison completely lacks any form of reason whatsover. WE DIDN’T have a problem holding onto territory, as you so ineptly put. This is a tiring analogy the Left constantly brings up. Unfortuantely, because of the media, few nowadays Really KNOW what was going on in Vietnam. Find another analogy, because this dog doesn’t hunt anymore.

  • Annoy Mouse says:

    In Bucksters defense, he said that the rolls were reversed which is kind of an anti-vietnam.
    Since considering the exfiltration strategy argument, I have an alternate theory that the anti-coalition forces know that the coalition will evacuate noncombatants, therefore, they might as well do it early so they have time to build their defenses while denying the coalition useful intelligence. The added advantage is that they get to draw the line in the sand and coerce fence sitters into commitment one way or the other. You’re either with jihad or your against jihad, choose a side.
    It is clever as a tactic but as a strategy, it will turn those towns into free fire zones and the coalition forces can apply whatever level of force necessary to obtain its objectives of security and control.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Annoy Mouse
    “What is most fascinating to me is that the terrorists are forcing residents to leave.”
    If you take a look at Bill’s Iraq Op’s presentation, someone in those areas keeps calling in Air Strikes.
    The “hiding among civilians” plan doesn’t seem to be working so well.

  • GK says:

    Soldier’s Dad,
    By why are there only 110 battalions total, when the goal is about 270 battalions? Howcome it takes this long to train them?
    In the US, basic training is, what, 8 weeks? I recognize that this situation is much more challenging, but why is it taking months and months and months?

  • exhelodrvr says:

    GK,
    The problem is not providing basic training to recruits; the biggest part of the problem is getting the “middle management” (corporals through approx the rank of major) the training and experience necessary to provide the leadership and additional training that will be needed.

  • exhelodrvr says:

    Soldier’s Dad,
    And how can they hide when they have forced out the non-combatants? It seems like they are in a lose-lose situation.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    GK,
    There is not a goal of 270 Iraqi Army Battalions.
    The goal is 135 Iraqi Army Battalions, of which the latest number was actually 126 battalions formed, which is different than “functioning”.
    Figure a 9 month lag time between graduating from “basic training” and being a category 2 Unit.
    Our US reserve soldiers undertake roughly 3 months additional training prior to deploying to Iraq.
    The training program has been going at a rate of 2 battalions per week. Which is about the rate the US trains its own recruits.
    If we sent any more of our trainers to Iraq, there wouldn’t be anyone left to train US troops.
    It took 4 years from the time the US instituted the draft in 1940 until D-Day in 1944.
    Fortunately, the Iraqi’s now have their own basic training instructors, so US trainers can focus on NCO’s and NATO has just opened the training program for Officers.
    The other 135,000 Security forces are “police”, of which 100,000+ are now trained and on duty. They get trained at the Jordan International Police Training Center, which is staffed by trainers from a variety of countries.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    OT – Goodnews
    //www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/12765217.htm
    “Rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s representatives said that while he’s not thrilled about the constitution, he likely wouldn’t encourage his followers to oppose it.”
    It would appear that Moqtada AlSadr has decided that openly opposing Ayatollah Sistani was less than a wise decision.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Soldier’s Dad,
    That isn’t the best news from that article. The best news is this part. The Iraqi Islamic Party even though they don’t like the Constitution they aren’t going to actively campaign hard against it. Because, if they did try hard to kill the Constitution and failed Sunni voters would be much more disenchanted with the political process and wouldn’t show up at the polls in December.
    The worst possible thing that could happen is the Sunnis really think they have the power to reject this thing and try hard to do so and fail, making them think the whole process is a sham and thus leading them to stay home for the December elections.
    With Sadr not giving his opinion and the Iraqi Islamic Party not pushing hard against it, the expectation Sunnis will have is that it will pass, and that expectation is very important. Because, if Sunnis go into this thing sure they are going to kill the Constitution, but will get really pissed at the whole process and might bail on it. If Sunnis go into this thing thinking it will likely pass it won’t be such a blow to them when it does.
    ————————————————
    The largest Sunni political group, the Iraqi Islamic Party, said that although it has encouraged its supporters to vote down the document, its efforts are focused on the December election for a new National Assembly.
    Hazim Abdel Hamid al-Nuaimi, a professor of politics at al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, said the Islamic Party is focusing on the December elections because it wants to influence how the constitution is implemented.
    //www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/12765217.htm

  • Justin Capone says:

    Soldier’s Dad,
    One thing I have been unhappy with is I have been hearing getting decient equipment, housing, etc for the Iraqi Army and police has been going really slowly.
    It also might be a good idea to send well known Shia and Kurds to officer training schools abroad.
    Soldier’s Dad, do you have any idea how many Iraqi troops and police there is supposed to be by this time next year?

  • Jamison1 says:

    Soldier’s Dad said:
    “Our US reserve soldiers undertake roughly 3 months additional training prior to deploying to Iraq.”
    So do our active units. Also note that OSUT is about 4 months long. That is what is Basic training now for combat units. So we are talking about approximately 7 months of training, then our guys are assigned to EXPERIENCED units, not green units.

  • bbb69 says:

    I know it’s another can of worms, but the situation in Basra is really bad. I just knew that when they let sadr go, it was a big mistake. Now that he has taken over Basra and created a little Taliban-type city with sharia law, he and his buddies will probably kill supporters of other candidates before or after the election. Of course if they listen to some tips from Iran, they’ll fraudulently control the elections anyway. Is Sadr friendly with Iran or is the other fundamentalist party? Either way things look bleek down there. I just can’t see any secular types holding office down in Basra now.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Justin,
    The planned total is 270,000. 135,000 Ministry of Defense and 135,000 Ministry of Interior. The current training rate is 1,500 a week.
    In addition there are 74,000 “Rent a cops” in the Facility Protection Service.
    As far as the housing, the original plan called for MOD forces to be 90,000. 45,000 Army and 45,000 National Guardsmen(that would live at home). The numbers were then increased in June 2004 to 135,00 Army. Obviously, there had been no planning as to housing for the additional 90,000 Iraqi Army troops that would not be living at home.
    Another issue is having “double” facility requirement while the Iraqi units go from “Very Green” to “Work on there own”.
    The Iraqi Army plans on having 10 major bases.
    At the onset of OIF, Kellog Root and Brown was contracted for 14 “More than temporary” bases.
    The pentagon has already released that the current draw down plans(Timing to be decided) call for reducing to 4 bases with Quick Reaction Forces.
    That would mean 10 perfectly good bases will at some point become available to Iraqi forces.
    MNSTC-I lists 500,000 bullets,2500 Weapons and 271 vehicles being issued to the Iraqi Army this week.
    //www.mnstci.iraq.centcom.mil/docs/advisor/currentissue.pdf
    IMHO – The “tipping” point for ISF was the 180,000 mark. This was the estimated number of police/soldiers that would be needed to “keep the peace” without any sort of “Insurgency”. With ISF forces now at the 190,000+ mark, we see that they are transitioning to “Leading” in offensive operations, as well as assuming significant holding operations.
    Today the primary responsibility for Karbala was turned over to the ISF. Najaf was turned over a few weeks ago.

  • Jamison1 says:

    Soldier’s Dad,
    It seems to be happening but 250 vehicles is not very many for a force that size.

  • Jamison1 says:

    By the way, the current training rate of 1,500 a week has to be close to what we are doing stateside.

  • Jamison1 says:

    bbb69,
    Basrah is really a local issue. Like New Orleans, they need to clean up their PD.

  • desert rat says:

    soldier’s dad
    Great news, thx for the update

  • desert rat says:

    gilliam1
    10 men per vehicles
    1 squad per. Sounds about the right proportion.

  • Jamison1 says:

    desert rat
    “10 men per vehicles”
    What kind of vehicles are you talking about? Not Humvees and not tanks.

  • GK says:

    Soldier’s Dad,
    So, if the goal is 135 battalions, and 110 are already at various stages of training, is it safe to say that in about 8 months, we will have the full Iraqi army in place, with a good fraction of them Level 1 or Level 2?
    Does that mean the US will be able to reduce our troop strenght (and silence a lot of the relatively sane detractors)?

  • Jamison1 says:

    That is the goal, GK.

  • desert rat says:

    I would assume trucks, but do not really know, they would need deuce & 1/2 or 5 tons, mostly.
    With 2500 weapons and 271 vehicles You’d outfit 3 or 4 Iraqi Battalions. Each Iraqi Bn is aprox. 600-800 men.
    The Iraqi Army is basically a light infantry force. They’d move around their country in trucks, most likely. It is what our Army used to do.
    The Iraqis have 77 T72 Tanks on order, from Hungary, to form their Heavy Force. They most likely would not be part of this week’s 271 vehicle placement

  • Jamison1 says:

    “The Iraqis have 77 T72 Tanks on order, from Hungary, to form their Heavy Force. They most likely would not be part of this week’s 271 vehicle placement”
    Thanks. I have seen some T72s in photos in Iraq, but I don’t know if they are deployed.
    Trucks are OK for moving infantry in protected areas, but in urban warfare? They need something armored.

  • desert rat says:

    As Sec Rumsfeld is paraphrased, “You go with what you got”
    There are reportedly 300-400 Saddam era tanks that are not fully functional. I have read, but do not remember where, that they could be “reconditioned” and contracts were being let.
    This was prior to their Defense Ministry Procurment scandal. So I don’t know the actual status of this program. A practicle solution could be to recondition what ever other BMP or armored personal carriers left over from Saddam’s inventories.

  • Jamison1 says:

    I stood in front of a Saddam era tank at Ft. Knox’s Patton Museum. It is VERY intimidating to everyone but an Abrams’ tanker.
    Virtual tour here.
    //www.generalpatton.org/qtvr/qtvr17f16.stm
    I don’t suppose the Pentagon would free up some Strykers for them 😉

  • Justin Capone says:

    We ought to be arming the new Iraqi government (after the December elections) to the teeth as long as it is stable and sane. I really think if we gave the new Iraqi government some old B52s with alot of heavy bombs it would be a huge deterrent to Syria and other nearby countries to stop the Wahhibist infilitration of Iraq far more then the US. But, more importantly it would be a huge deterrent to Sunni tribal and religious leaders from going the civil war route and we would be able to leave earlier. Because, you really think some Sunni tribal leaders in say Ramadi are going to chose to openly rebel when the Iraqi government could bomb their city into the ground overnight if they chose to.
    Sure it would be taking a risk by giving a democratic muslim country such weapons, but I think it is a risk worth taking.
    We can build the airbase for the bombers in the Kurdistan for protection.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    GK,
    “Troop Drawdown”
    IMHO, Any units scheduled to deploy between now and Jan 30th will still deploy. Most of their gear is already on a ship. Then I would expect as those tours end, some of the units won’t be replaced. Rotation times for the most recent contingent of Marines and the 3rd ACR are in that time frame.(A 17 brigade to 14 brigade adjustment, and probably lose 60% of the international contingent)
    The “rocket scientists” in the Pentagon drew down to 105,000 troops in Feb 2004, and everything went to hell in a handbasket real quick. The “powers that be” are going to want to have plenty of spare troops in Iraq, even if all they do is spend time at the pool.

  • exhelodrvr says:

    Soldier’s Dad,
    Aren’t they keeping the equipment in Iraq, and rotating the soldiers? I know that is what at least some of the USMC units are doing.

  • hamidreza says:

    Looks like a situation similar to Talafar is developing in Qaim. The townsfolk are divided. In Talafar, 25% (the Shiites) were vocally against the terrorists. In Qaim, this may be as high as 50% (unfriendly Sunni tribes), based on red-on-red reports we have had in the past few months.
    The terrorists are probably figuring that they need to evict and expel the unfriendly tribes and townsfolk, because it was precisely these people who facilitated the capture of Talafar and prevented the terrorists from hiding in their neighborhoods, and were instrumental in identifying and informing on them.
    The terrorists cannot hide in a town where a part of the local population will rat on them and pick them up from a lineup.
    On the other hand, they need the friendly folks to remain as a human shield, and for logistical support. Without a human shield, the terrorists can relatively easily be picked off like in Fallujah. Note that Qaim, the largest city there, is 1/6 the size of Fallujah and 1/4 size of Talafar (Qaim pop. 50,000).
    Justin, there is an article in a Kurdish website that Sadr has done an about face and now is “neutral” about the Const. referendum. I will post it. Looks like Sadr is unsure that his MSM supposed 2 million people in Baghdad will vote No, so he wishes not for his hand to be forced. This is a sign of his weakness.

  • #22 Soldier’s Dad,
    Our guys take 8 weeks. I spent six years teaching young Arabs in the UAE and let me tell you, you are not just teaching guys how to march, shoot, etc.
    There is some cultural reeducation having to be done. As, I saw over at Internet Hagganah recently Arab Armies look very tough on paper but on the field they are not. The reason is simple, lack of discipline and lack of meritocracy.
    Wasta is a concept for the most part absent from our armies. A soldier’s father may be the commander of the XYth Infantry Division but if he isn’t capable he will never get a decent command.
    This does not happen in most Arabic nations. Ali Abdullah Al Calamansi may be a lazy good for nothing but since his uncle is the driver of the Emir’s driver Ali Abdullah Al Calamansi commands a division. Good for Ali Abdullah Al Calamansi, he gets invites to important events, he always has someone to get tea for him but when it comes time to fight he and his cronies lead their charges to death and ruin.
    The idea of delegation too is lacking. I have heard it said a captain in our army has the authority of a colonel in a typical Arab army (or something along those lines). If you share authority and power you are much weaker yourself, they need to start learning this is what makes a team stronger.

  • Media Lies says:

    What’s going on in Iraq?

    Read Bill Roggio’s thorough and ongoing analyses and you will know. The core of the “insurgency” is being driven westward, toward Syria, and boxed in. While they…

  • hamidreza says:

    Justin, there is a simple technical solution to stopping a formerly friendly army from using procured American arms against the US. This can be done using asymetric key encoding.
    An aircraft, tank, or a Stryker vehicle can be engineered such that its central computer controlling the engine and the battle system could not be bypassed or hacked.
    This computer would then require a special code to be downloaded every once in a while – otherwise the computer would refuse to perform its function, disabling the weapon. The code would be different each time, and only US central command will know how to generate the code – so the weapon can always be disabled at will.
    A weapon as small as a shoulder launched surface to air missile could thus be disabled at will, using this technology. This is what the CIA SHOULD have given the Afghanis back at the time of the Soviet occupation.

  • hamidreza says:

    I see the article on Sadr mea culpa, and Iraqi Islamic Party “no contest” of the referendum has already been linked above. As Justin notes, it is rather significant that the Sunni IIP has decided not to contest. I wonder if the Association of Muslim Scholars, the other Sunni grouping has also adopted a similar position.
    Basically I believe this means that the Sunnis have finally come to accept the on the ground realities. They are coming out of their self-delusion that somehow they comprise 55% of Iraq. Believe it or not, that is how they feel – but maybe not anymore.
    It would be a major step-down for them to accept that their decades long (century long?) rule over the Shiites, which they consider their birthright, has now ended. That in fact the constitutional process is good for them and is the only way they can be protected as a minority.
    I have not seen anything seriously objectionable in the new constitution for a Sunni, except for the problem of federalism as it relates to oil income and Arab nationalism. The Constitution makes it clear that their oil rights are protected. Maybe if the US assures them of this fact as a guarantor, it will help them overcome their mistrust of the process.
    The only way to contain Shiite (hardline and moderate) Islamist and Iran’s deep encroachment into the Iraqi security forces, including the Iraqi Army, is to have the Sunni tribes and former Baathists on the side of the constitutional process and thus indirectly on the side of the Coalition. Iran knows this and that is why it is doing everything in its power to impose Zarqawi as the undisputed leader of anti-occupation resistance.

  • hamidreza says:

    NATO’s program in training Iraqi officer corp.
    Seems to me it should be scaled by a factor of 5.
    NATO in Iraq

  • hamidreza says:

    Trying to post NATO link again:
    NATO in Iraq

  • Ike says:

    //www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/09/28/MNGF8EV3UF1.DTL
    Residents continue to flee Syrian border town in preparation for major fighting.

  • jim says:

    Ike –
    Thanx for the link.
    Has anyone else wondered why any place or town that the media reports to be held or controlled by terrorists is termed “key”?
    “… insurgents loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his organization, al Qaeda in Iraq, who have boldly taken over al-Ubaydi and at least four other key western Iraqi towns in this western corner of volatile Anbar province ….”

  • Ike says:

    Jim,
    The media does this because they have no idea of what towns are key or not and will give the benefit of the doubt to the enemy of the U.S. that if they have control of a town that it is key, because their leaders are (to them) obviously superior military decision makers.
    I think anyone worth their weight in spit knows that these towns will be cleared out within a few days if they really are controlled by terrorists. They will be pushed all the way into Syria exactly the way Bill has been predicting on here for months. The strategy being employed by U.S. and Iraqi forces on this is brilliant and why people in the media ignore/don’t understand/don’t care about the context of these events infuriates me to no end.

  • jim says:

    Ike –
    Heh-eh!
    I also noticed their use of “boldly”, as in “boldly taken over” …..
    On that “key” thing, though, it reminded me of one famous college football coach who bitterly claimed that sports writers declared a game as a “big” one only if his team had lost it.

  • desert rat says:

    I spent part of my younger years at Fort Gulick, Panama, at the School of the Americas. The School was often refered to, by my Panamanian friends, as the School of the Dictactors. Seems now, in retrospect, it was really the School of Democracy.
    We should be opening a School of the Arabias, in Iraq, ASAP. It would really be, by Mr. Blair’s standard, a Progressive action

  • Ike says:

    //www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2005/09/29/publiceye/entry889779.shtml
    CBS seems to admit that there “might” be bias in the way the media covers news from Iraq. Then they interview a jackass from CNN who actually lived with “insurgents” for 3 months and says that since Iraqis aren’t living in equivalence to what the average American lives in that the mission is a failure and it is too dangerous to be considered a success.
    Here’s another interview with that jackass Ware, this guy basically slobbers all over himself complimenting and singing the praises of the “insurgents”
    //www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2004/s1145069.htm
    I suggest you guys let CNN know what you think of another one of their journalists coddling anti-American thugs (hiding evidence about Saddam in the past).

  • Aaron says:

    Just a quick note of thanks to Bill Roggio. I should be readings something similar to this in my paper instead of the laundry list on Iraq they print every day.
    Keep up the excellent work.
    A side note: if the insurgent have to threaten people with beheading to get them to leave town, then I think they are in bad, bad shape.
    Not only are they expelling the sea in which they need to swim, they will alienate the populace just as much as early US ‘mistakes’ did, e.g. killing people in demonstrations, etc. Who wants to become a refugee?

  • Seismic says:

    Lets see:
    The insurgent run off and “take over” several Iraqi towns – driving off the inhabitants in the process.
    A couple of thoughts. Either:
    This is a foolish move in openly challenging a vastly superior enemy while removing the human shields. This strategy being end result of losses in key leadership personel, leaving the dopes in charge.
    or
    This is a move to divert Coalition forces from some other more important target.

  • desert rat says:

    There are 147,000 US troops in Iraq, today.
    In Tal Afar, aprox 4,000 US troops were employeed.
    If we utilized the same force structure in Qaim that we used in Tal Afar, that would leave 143,000 troops to be diverted.
    That would be quite a chore.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    #49 Marcus Aurelius
    I spent a year at USMTM-SA many,many moons ago.
    The cultural factor is a problem, no doubt about it.
    The biggest challenge to security in Iraq is having enough “eyes and ears” knowledgeable enough about individual neighborhoods to be able to say “something is out of place at the 3rd house on the left”.

  • Seismic says:

    I guess your opinion in this matter is that it constitutes a foolish move.
    Or maybe a coalition infiltrator has fooled them into undertaking a disasterous strategy.

  • hamidreza says:

    Seismic – I believe the terrorists are expelling only the unfriendly tribes from Qaim. When the inevitable Coalition sweep happens, the unfriendly tribes will locate and identify the terrorists. That is why the terrorists dont want them around. The friendly tribes (the Karabila tribe) is staying to help the terrorists as human shields. This way, the terrorists avoid the mistakes they did in Fallujah (total depopulation) and Talafar (allowing the unfriendlies to remain in town).
    So Qaim is depopulating, but not emptying, I believe. The Coalition can cordon off the town of Qaim, and order a general evacuation, like they did in Sarai. Whoever remains is fair game. Just watchout for those “tunnels”.
    If these “tunnels” are the ancient aquifers which are still in use (a “qanAt”), then there should be none in Qaim because there are no springs around Qaim, being in a desert, as the river provides ample water. So there should be no qanAts in Qaim, unlike Talafar. If there are qanAts, then the local farmers and townsfolk should know where they are.

  • GJ says:

    Ike, Who is that Michael Ware. That name is definitely familiar. I did read a small part of that abc.net.au article with that PUKE Ware. I Just Could Not Believe what I read. This Line here..
    I’ve been joining their groups, visiting then in their safe houses, their villages, I’ve been travelling with them, I’ve seen their weapons caches, I’ve been trying to keep as close tabs as possible over the last 12 months.
    If That isn’t giving aid and comfort to the enemy I don’t know what is. It’s probably good I’m not in the military right now and meet up with this Son of a Bitch. I really think I’d blow the SOB away and take punishment gladly. I mean this really burns my ass. No doubt he’s the consultant for the series “Over There”.
    That name still brings up some hostile memories from the beginning of the war, but I still can’t place the name.

  • Ike says:

    I know, I read that too. You guys should use that CNN link I put up to tell them what you think of Michael Ware.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis