Sa’ud, Syria and Security

Coalition forces maintain the hunt for al Qaeda and insurgents along the Syrian border. Abu Sa’ud, a Saudi al Qaeda commander, and three of his associates were killed when attempting to evade a Coalition dragnet, which was initiated by tips from locals in Ubaydi and intelligence sources. The intel on Sa’ud is interesting; “Intelligence sources believe that Sa’ud recently arrived from Saudi Arabia to shore up the leadership of al Qaeda in Iraq foreign fighter and terrorists cells whose previous leaders have been captured or killed in recent months.” Coalition forces have had great success in decapitating al Qaeda leadership in western Iraq, and if the intelligence is correct, al Qaeda is throwing in the reserves in an attempt to stop the bleeding.

Meanwhile, Syria, the main source of al Qaeda infiltrators into Iraq, continues to complain about U.S. cross border operations. As Coalition forces step up operations on the border, the cross border raids are likely to intensify as Syrian complicity in aiding the insurgency becomes clear. Diplomats cited in the Telegraph are concerned about a showdown between the United States and Syria, but ignore the fact that Iraq has a direct stake in their neighbor’s role in killing Iraqi citizens. This is not merely a U.S. – Syrian problem any longer.

Across Iraq, the Coalition continues to pursue the insurgents. Outside of Abu Ghraib, a cyclists planting IEDs is observed and killed. In Taji, six insurgents are killed and five wounded during an engagement with Coalition forces after they were observed setting IEDs. The insurgents were attacked after attempting to reform and assault Coalition ground units and a supporting attack helicopter. Over sixty-five suspected insurgents are rounded up in two days of operations in Baghdad.

While operations to interdict the insurgency continue in the run up to the December 15th election, security responsibilities continues to be transitioned over to Iraqi forces. The Christina Science Monitor reports on progress in the city of Baquba. According to Lt. Col. Rob Risberg, commander of the 1st Battalion of the Army’s 10th Field Artillery Regiment, the Iraqi Army is to be credited for the success; “The Iraqi Army and the Iraqi police have really come along – they can handle most of what comes their way now… We’re here to back them up, but I think we’re seeing the benefits of getting cops on almost every street corner.”

The Los Angeles Times reports greater control is being turned over to Iraqi Security forces. As Soldier’s Dad’s post earlier today indicates, this is freeing up U.S. combat power to take the fight to the more dangerous areas of Iraq, including Anbar province, to tackle the most dangerous element of the insurgency – al Qaeda and associated jihadis, who also poses a very real threat outside of Iraq’s borders.

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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  • James says:

    I just heard on the news that seven US troops were killed today from IEDs? Are we any closer to beating these things. They are sapping the national morale like nothing else.

  • Matthew says:

    Here is some info about what the Army is buying and using in Iraq to help combat the IED problem:
    or check out the awesome pdf pictures here, too, for size comparision:
    IEDs are a tough nut to crack, the downside to these weapons is that they are very difficult to properly time against an armored moving vehicle.
    Good intelligence and luck will continue to be factors in continuing to combat and survive encounters with this deadly weapon.
    It’s not easy at all…

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    We are in the last 4 days of Ramadan. Zarqawi promised a “Great Ramadan Offensive”…he is taking his best shot.

  • blert says:

    The only true solution is saturation police coverage. It does take time to position a road side bomb.
    The numbers required can only be achieved by Iraq itself.
    It will not be too long before urban American foot patrols are rare.

  • Justin Capone says:

    It doesn’t seem like foot patrols are the big problem, it seems to from patrolling in vehicles.
    I know Talabani badly wants the ISF to be given a lot of these responsibilities.

  • exhelodrvr says:

    An IED would have to be a lot more powerful to cause the same amount of casualties against a foot patrol (presumably with the troops spread out) than it could against a vehicle, if it is able to penetrate the armor (like the shaped charges). More powerful means bigger, which means harder to hide. Plus, the burning, mangled vehicle is good footage for the MSM to display.

  • Mac says:

    Just a question I don’t have the answer to.
    When the coalition forces “capture 6 insurgents” based on a tip, how do we know that they are insurgents? How often is the tip just a local grudge amongst tribal members, etc? How many of those captured are released within the next week as not really being insurgents? Is it none, 10% 50%? Anyone know?

  • Nick Rizzuto says:

    In reference to the IED question, here is a pretty good video of a buffalo setting off an IED:

  • blert says:

    Mines are set on foot. They are best discovered on foot. Command detonated mine operate like one shot anti-tank guns. So it is hard to understand why sweeps for terrorists would be performed while mounted. The reduced visability alone makes you vulnerable.
    Since each patrol is largely a sweep for mines, I take it for granted that foot patroling is the norm. Upon discovery of anything suspicious, the engineers are brought up.
    It is a fact that the enemy keys on killing engineers. Their reasoning is obvious.
    I say again, the solution is saturation coverage performed by Iraqis.
    BTW, I question the tactics I witnessed on BlackFive’s video download. It strikes me as too obvious to plant a small roadside bomb to bring up the engineers. And then detonate a serious bomb at them.

  • Justin Capone says:

    I say again, the solution is saturation coverage performed by Iraqis.
    Of course, but then we are talking about what a year or a year and a half before US IED casulties taper off?

  • hamidreza says:

    There can be some interesting technical solutions to the IED problem. The US has captured many constructed IEDs and also tons of ordinance.
    Just take a shell and remove all the explosives and replace that with a GPS receiver and a transmitter that broadcasts the coordinates of the IED, good to a few meters, once a minute. Then have infiltrated middlemen and arms dealers deliver these doctored and harmless IEDs to the insurgents.
    It would then be relatively easy using UAVs or roving patrols to track the movement of the doctored IEDs from when the insurgents receive them, store them at their safe houses, take them to their workshops, cycle them through the insurgent network, and plant them in the road. Raids can be conducted to pick up the IED crowd or to blow up the shop from the air.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Iraq: ‘Child’ Bomber Dies as US Military Raises Alarm Over Roadside Attacks
    A child thought to be just ten years old, wearing an explosives belt, has died in a roadside explosion at the al-Quds intersection, near the oil rich city of Kirkuk.
    The ‘suicide’ attack occurred as a car carrying a senior Iraqi police official, Colonel Khatab, passed by. The report of such a young child being used for terror attacks comes as the US military issued a report showing how difficult it can be for its soldiers to prevent roadside bombs.
    Z-man is digging at the bottom of the barrel.
    Also, ABC News got its hands on an IED report (maybe the one in question) conserning the Iranian shaped charges

  • desert rat says:

    that’s a tactic, old as the hills. we instructed the technique at the School of the Americas and Jungle Training Operations Center, back in the day. The technique was used against the Israelis in the hey day of the Intafada.
    The target is not always engineers, of course, but whom ever the first or second responders are.
    In Iraq car bombs or VBIEDs are used in this manner of “follow on” ambush.
    If you recall the incident last summer where there were dozens of children killed in a follow on car bomb assualt of an improvised US road block/ check point. It was the second bomb that caused most of the civilian casualties.

  • desert rat says:

    Against dismounted troops the type of device would change. Improvised Claymoore anti personel mines are not difficult to design or build. These would be ineffective against even lightly armoured vechiles, but devastating to boots on the ground.
    The “mechanical” ambush, which is all these IEDs are, is nothing new. In a “normal” conflict the casualties from them would be incidental. In Iraq those casualties have become the focal point, because that is all the Opponents have.

  • blert says:

    Only two provinces are first class headaches.
    I don’t believe that it will take more than six months to dramatically lower our casualty rate.
    The Iraqi Army build up is rapid. But since the priority is to fill up the quiet Shia zones first; it is not yet impressive. (This is driven by Shia politics, dominant in government. Now, the Shia are peaceful, as against Spring of 2004.)
    Count the blessings. The plan is working.
    The displaced Americans fight now in al Anbar, etc. This must increase the casualty tempo.
    I’d say the IA priority is to flood the zone in Baghdad.
    Next, the IA ought to saturate the Tigris axis. It contains the oil pipelines and the high voltage grid. It is essential to the economy. Oil production is now an critical priority for the Iraqi government. The American ‘donation’ will run out….
    Al Anbar is of lower priority to the Iraqi government. Certainly, some units will be sent to buddy up with the Americans.
    The Iraqi economy does not hinge on al Anbar. It certainly does on Baghdad and the Tigris.
    Al Anbar is one big long finger of dependency. Which is why the locals are frantic about losing their welfare checks.


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