Facilitating

The Coalition remains quite active along the Syrian border in the area of Qaim. In Husaybah, multiple airstrikes were conducted on al Qaeda safe houses and resulted in the destruction of an IED cell and the death of yet another al Qaeda facilitator, Abu Asim.

The death of Asim highlights both the success of Operations Iron Fist and River Gate in creating the conditions to engage al Qaeda and the insurgency, and the attrition of al Qaeda facilitators and leaders in western Iraq. The CENTCOM press release on the recent western operations states Asim was brought in to replace others who were killed in the region; “Asim was a senior al Qaeda in Iraq foreign fighter facilitator who was recently brought in to replace another facilitator thought to have been killed by Coalition Forces. Sources report that Asim had contacts across the border in Syria, who would arrange the smuggling of foreign fighters and suicide bombers into the Husaybah and al Qaim region.”

Over the past week, four al Qaeda facilitators and leaders in western Iraq have been removed from the scene: Abu Dua, the “emir of Rawah” and facilitator of foreign fighters (October 26); Abu Mahmud, a Saudi facilitator and terror brigade commander responsible for multiple terror cells (October 28); Abu Sa’ud, another Saudi facilitator and brigade commander, who incidentally was also brought in to plug holes in western Anbar (October 29);; and now Abu Asim (November 2).

These are senior leaders with connections, knowledge and experience that are not easily replaced. And the death of leaders, particularly over such a short time, has a negative effect on the rank & file. Experience, trust, command style and other issues must be addressed before a commander can become effective. While it is difficult to rate their value in Western military terms, al Qaeda’s losses may be analogous to losing four colonels or generals in the period of one week.

Their deaths do not spell the end of al Qaeda in western Iraq. No doubt al Qaeda is attempting to replace these commanders with capable leaders. The have to, as the Qaim entry point is a vital lifeline for foreign fighters.

But the supply of experienced al Qaeda leaders is not limitless, and the attrition rate of the newly frocked commanders may give some pause about taking on such a thankless and dangerous task. in the near future, those volunteering to be “emir for the week” (or less) may not be the cream of al Qaeda’s crop.

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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44 Comments

  • Marlin says:

    Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador to Iraq, had an interview earlier this week where he stated directly that certain Sunni tribes, like the Albu Mahal, are now coming forward to volunteer to fight against Zarqawi.
    “One is we’ve got some key Sunnis supporting the Constitution. Second, many more are supporting the political process. Now we have some tribes coming forward, like the Albu Mahal, that are saying they will fight against Zarqawi. So what’s happening for maybe the first time since the liberation is a real struggle going on in the Sunni community between those who want to participate in the process and those who want a protracted insurgency.”
    Since the Albu Mahal are based in the general Husaybah area, they are more than likely playing a big role in helping the MNF forces identify these targets.
    ‘Failure Is Not an Option’

  • cjr says:

    An interesting quote from Gen Pace:
    Q But on the makeup of the insurgency, are there more foreign fighters today than there were last month?
    GEN. PACE: I don’t know that that’s definable. I think what is definable is the amount of territory that is being controlled, for example, by the Iraqi armed forces. Today we have one division headquarters, four brigade headquarters and 24 battalions that are Iraqis, who are in fact controlling areas of their own country, providing protection for their own citizens, and that will continue to grow, which will squeeze out the insurgents.

  • Glenmore says:

    Some would say “Despite these successes, casualties in the month of October were way up, so we are taking one step forward and two steps back.” Others would say the increased casualties are the RESULT of aggressive operations which led to these successes.
    I wonder if the increased casualties are (at least in part) due to increased support and activity of DIFFERENT groups of bad guys – ones we are not concentrating on at the moment. Say, Iranian-backed groups, with tighter organizational structure provided by Iranian cadres. I have thought for a while that we were taking a ‘gentle’ approach with the Baath enemy (not the AQ though) to try to ‘convert’ them to the cause rather than crush them, so they would remain a viable counterbalance to the Shia and Iranian militias. It may be that the above ‘successes’ represent just such conversions.

  • desert rat says:

    Iraq for Iraqis, the only viable exit strategy.
    I notice that two of those targeted were Saudi, were the others Iraqi or ?.

  • cjr says:

    #3 Glenmore:
    I think the answer to your first question can be answered by the following statistic:
    In Oct, 60% of coalition casualites were in one provence: Anbar. This also is the site of coalitions most active operations.

  • C-Low says:

    Marlin
    Good article I really like this Ambasador its a damm shame Bush cant make such a case when he talks. Simple sweet to the point. Dont matter how we got here We are HERE NOW the battle has been joined and FAILURE IS NOT A OPTION.
    This along with numerous other things like the insanley low number of US loses historical wise and hell the fact that we have not been attacked on the homefront now in 4yrs been in active offensive war for that period a occupation of two nations with inherent hostile populations and still to this day have not matched the number we paid in one day on 9-11. If this is not sucess I dont know what is especially when the talking heads and LLL’s were screaming thousands would be lost in Afghanistan campain then even more in the occupation the Dem gov would never make it, we were in imminent attack again on the homefront with thousands of casualties, thousands would be lost in the conquest of Iraq, thousands would be lost to take Baghdad ohhh the urban warefare we would lose hopeless hoplelesss, then thousands in the occupation with no Iraqis would vote then well the new voted in gov would not survive or be able to get respect, then constitution impossible, then ahhh the Shia will go Mullah style (even thou in pre-mullah Iran Iran was a starch ally and they were Shia then to ya know), then the Iraq army would never stand up, every marker the LLL panzies scream the next marker will cost thousands of lives to achieve. Well in total today we havnt even matched 9-11. That to me is amazing and anyone who knows anything about military history would know this aswell. Our media is absolutley criminal in thier actions during this war the LLL’s have been equally criminal in putting political partisanship above the good of the nation. War is a national endeavor and wether you like it or not if you are american and your nation is in war you can cry about how we could of should of but you do your part to defeat the enemy. the battle has been joined fight their is no changing what is already been done. I bet Al Queda wishes they made 9-11 not in the US but they cant change that all they can do is deal with todays reality and that is the battle has been joined,, Do or Die time.

  • Justin Capone says:

    The Iraqi government issued a plea on Wednesday to former junior officers in Saddam Hussein’s military who were sacked by the U.S. occupiers after his fall to return to the army as it battles a fierce Sunni Arab insurgency.
    In a statement, issued on the eve of the main annual Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, Defense Minister Saadoun Dulaimi, one of the few Sunnis in government, invited former officers with the ranks of major, captain and lieutenant to return to the forces.
    //tinylink.com/?xRuxjmQaM0

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Justin,
    “The Iraqi government issued a plea on Wednesday to former junior officers”
    I would take a different tonality to the “plea”.
    At the end of WWII, a fundamental problem was what to due with former Nazi’s. Excluding them as a whole would insure a permanent group of very unhappy people. Including them as a whole, would pretty much guarantee that the Nazi’s would come back into power once the Allied forces drew down.
    Prior to Saddam’s fall, the entire Army, Police Force, and GOvernment was made up of ex-bathists.
    Finding a way to include people who were part of Saddams government, without handing the government back to a Saddam wannabe is a complex problem.
    Inviting junior officers back is a good sign.

  • desert rat says:

    Not Generals, mid ranked officers.
    Great idea, they were not criminals, unless they were. Then they should be prosecuted, by Iraqis. There is no one else who can control Iraq, but Iraqis. Not the French, Germans, all of NATO, nor Japan and India.
    US troops for all our sophistication are combating mechanical ambushes, not enemy military formations. We are in a Policing mode, in most of the country. Releasing detainees by the thousands, while we hand over local command and control to Iraqi Nationals, as we should.
    The Iraqis, using native resources, have succeeded in obtaining actionable intel. The gains we are making, because of their input are substantial. They will soon be able to do it with a lot less of US.
    The Sunni ex officer in the reuters article does not want US in his chain of command. Seems a reasonable position, to me, for an Iraqi patriot to take.
    Who sets the goal posts for Victory, in Iraq?
    And where are they?

  • Justin Capone says:

    Soldier’s Dad,
    Oh I agree that it is a good sign, but there were alot of ways we could have kept large parts of the old army without handing the government back to the Baathists.
    As long as US forces were there we would have had all the time we needed to remix the military with Kurds and Shia. However, all of that is water under the bridge now.

  • Mike E says:

    I agree with Soldier’s Dad. Dismantling the Iraqi army was vital. If left sort of intact it would have been riddled with cabals of Baathists. That would have resulted in a huge risk of a true army on army civil war down the road.

  • ikez78 says:

    My fault, not generals, sorry.

  • Tom W. says:

    Paul Bremer said in a TV interview a year or so ago that Shi’ite and Kurdish leaders told him that they wouldn’t participate in any postwar government unless the old Iraqi army and government bureaucracy were disbanded.
    Since the Shi’ites and Kurds make up 80% of the population, Bremer had a choice: Get the cooperation of 80% of the country or 20%. And remember that the leadership of that 20% had thirty years of blood on its hands.
    Bremer made the only decision possible. Disbanding the old Ba’athist army and bureaucracy wasn’t a “mistake,” it was vital to long-term success in Iraq.

  • Jim, Mtn View, CA says:

    I thought I read that the Iraqi Army melted away? Wasn’t the “disbandment” simply acknowledging a done deal?
    I think it is true that suspension of salaries and pensions was something that the Bremer Admin chose to do.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Paul Bremer said in a TV interview a year or so ago that Shi’ite and Kurdish leaders told him that they wouldn’t participate in any postwar government unless the old Iraqi army and government bureaucracy were disbanded.
    ——————————————
    Shia and Kurdish officials were able to say alot of things and get exactly what they wanted. It reminds me of the Sunnis threatening civil war if the federal provision wasn’t removed from the Constitution. Very big talk, very little action.
    The Shia and Kurds would have grumbled, but accepted it as long as we made it clear we would clean out the ranks and fill them with many Shia and Kurds.
    But, as I said before it is water under the bridge. There is alot we could have done differently in 20/20 hindsight. But, it is only academic, we are where we are.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Unit cohesion in the US military is based substantially around “protecting your buddy”.
    Duty,honor country are in there…but ask a front line soldier…his buddy’s are right at the top of the list.
    At some level, all Armies work this way. Finding a way to modify unit cohesion when many of the “Buddy’s” were Saddam loyalists would be a serious challenge.

  • cjr says:

    #18 Justin:
    Hum. In hindsight, you may be right.
    But, at the time, would you have been willing to take that risk? Did we know enough then to make any other decision?

  • Randy Perkins says:

    The old Saddamist army was full of criminals, sadists, cowards, and spies. It had to be obliterated. The new army had to be put together from scratch. There wasn’t any other way. Anything else would have led to another Sunni dictator before long.

  • Justin Capone says:

    But, at the time, would you have been willing to take that risk? Did we know enough then to make any other decision?
    ————————————————-
    No, what I would have done is called up parts of the Army that I felt were the least overtly loyal to the Saddam and disbanded the rest. And, I would have brought in Shia and Kurds right off the back.
    The biggest problem I see wasn’t even disbandening the army, it was after we disbanded the army we didn’t hit the ground running to build a new one. We dithered for a long time and only really got focused on building their Army in mid 2004. When Allawi came into office Iraq had one army battalion, when he left office less then a year later it had almost a 100.

  • MG says:

    Re: The Army formerly known as Iraqi
    As I reflect the past 30+ months in Iraq, I suspect (but can’t prove) that the twelve months or so of the apparent dithering was actually spent building the infrastructure for training Iraqi security forces in country. That process would include:
    1. Development of training doctrine. How does one train a culture with no tradition of effectiveness to be something much different?
    2. Development of training infrastructure. The pre-existing Iraqi military facilities were looted almost completely. The logistical consequence was that of an unimproved theater.
    3. Development of trainers. Having the Americans train individual and small unit skills is far inferior to having Iraqis do it. It is also extremely helpful to have Iraqis who speak competent English. Prior to 2003, the bulk of the English speakers were Baathists.
    4. Trainup and equipping of Iraqi security forces to sustian operations. This requires a logistical base independent of the American one, and can develop in parallel with the combat units.
    5. Oh, did I mention there were insurgencies from at least five groups? And that coalition troops had to put them down enough to secure a geographical reason for all the above?
    5. Going from one batallion to 100 in 12 months is like an actor being an “overnight success”. Most of the heavy lifting occurred out of view during the 18 months prior. Sort of like the American experience in WW2 — we only really got rolling in 1944.
    — MG

  • Jamison1 says:

    I wonder how many old Iraqi senior officers are in the insurgency?

  • serurier says:

    Now I think we must attack Ramadi , there has become a base of terrorists .

  • desert rat says:

    seriur
    To soon, just yet. Look to the pattern, Iraqi negotiations with whomever they negotiate with until the deadline. We build up around the city prior to the end of negotiations. Striking as a last resort, after local politics has been tried.
    The Irqis promisec that they were goining to Ramadi and Samarra. Samarra is under Government control, now, and Ramadi is next on the list. About 1 Dec 05 would be my guesstimate

  • Tom W. says:

    Justin Capone:
    The Shi’ite and Kurdish leaders didn’t say they’d “grumble” if the old Iraqi army wasn’t disbanded; they said they wouldn’t participate in the new government. Period.
    We’ve seen what’s been happening as a result of the Sunnis not participating for two years. Imagine where we’d be today if 80% of the country hadn’t participated for two years. Kurdistan would’ve declared its independence, sparking a war with Turkey, and Iran would’ve effectively annexed the southern part of Iraq. We’d be left with a Ba’athist rump state that would’ve put Saddam back into power.
    We called off the first attack on Fallujah because the provisional government threatened to resign, and they would’ve done it, too. The Iraqis will not be dictated to beyond a certain point. The Shi’ites and Kurds would have categorically refused to work with people who were slaughering them only weeks earlier. And they would’ve been right to refuse.
    Bremer did the right thing by disbanding the old army and bureaucracy. We need to accept that most of this violence was inevitable, given the power-hungry nature of Iraqi Sunnis in general and the Ba’athists and jihadis in particular. Bremer prevented the country from splintering, for which he should be praised.

  • cjr says:

    #23
    No, we readly did screw up the first year. Not until Fallujia was taken over by insurgents in April2004 did we really realize how serious the insurgent problem was going to be. Until then, there was no orgainzational structure for training ISF and nobody accountable for it. It was done ad hoc and on a second priority basis. The ISF this produced basically fell apart in April2004. (50% deserted, 10% went over to the insurgents).
    It wasnt until Gen Patraeus (as the man specifically in charge of ISF development) arrived in Iraq in June 2004 and created the MNF organization, that the training and equiping of the ISF became serious business. Your items 1-3 happened from June2004 to about December2004. Number of ISF increased slowly during this timeframe(~4000/month). After Dec2004, the number of trained troops accelerated (~8000/ month).

  • Justin Capone says:

    The Shi’ite and Kurdish leaders didn’t say they’d “grumble” if the old Iraqi army wasn’t disbanded; they said they wouldn’t participate in the new government. Period.
    ——————————————–
    Doubtful.
    We could have disbanded part of the army and kept part of it and brought in lots of Shia and Kurds. The Kurds and the Shia would have done nothing. The religious Shia were the ones by far the most for total de-Baathification and they were in no position to give orders since we could leave at any time we want which would mean the Sunnis would retake Southern Iraq in a matter of months.
    In fact the people I have talked to have said that the decision was made not by Bremer, but by Wolfawitz. It was Chalabi who had the ear of US at that time and pushed through much of this stuff, especially the purges of the Sunnis in all bureaucratic positions.

  • Tom W. says:

    Justin:
    Your approach is one of the problems. You refuse to take the Iraqis at their word. These are serious, deeply committed people who look you in the eye and tell you that they will absolutely not cooperate if we don’t get rid of the Ba’athists, and you shrug them off with “Doubtful.”
    This is why it’s taken so long for us to win their trust. They think that a lot of us don’t regard them as equals. Your assurance that the Kurds and the Shia would’ve “done nothing” if we hadn’t disbanded the army proves that you don’t take them seriously. Bremer did, and that’s how he won their trust.
    We need to start treating the Iraqis with the same level of respect that we ourselves demand. We they tell us something, we have to believe them.
    Also, I heard Bremer himself say in his own words that he made the decision to disband the army. Since he’s taken so much flak over that, I’m pretty sure he would’ve shifted the blame to Wolfowitz if in fact Wolfowitz had made the call.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Bremer fell on his sword and took the blame for Wolfawitz’s decision as I have said many times before.
    It is very important to look behind the scenes at these decisions and who is making them and why.
    And, let me tell you again from everything I know of the Shia and Kurdish community they wouldn’t have stopped us from bringing back units from the old Iraqi Army.
    Allawi did exactly that on mass and reactivated a number of Baathist units. If you want a good idea of what the US did right and wrong in the early days of the war you should read what Allawi has to say about it.

  • C-Low says:

    Bill & guys
    Check this article out from the marine corps gazette 1989 yeah that is not a typo either 1989. These guys basicly outlined the war we face today pre-World trade 93 this piece below is just a tidbit. I scooped it becuase I have been wondering when the military is going to realize their flank is undefended. But either way thier is alot more good stuff in this peice and especially after what I see in France after their recent joining US in pressuring Iran weapons, Syria out of Lebanon, disarming of Hezbollah and Paleo terrrosist groups in S Lebanon, and now Demanding basicly Syria to gut thier upper leadership Esholens and turn them over for Murder trial and now I believe Iran instigated behind scenes the current answer of 7days of rioting in Parris Paris and the french plolice cant take control. I think Iran is pressuring the EU while testing thier abilities on many occation they brag of having agents all over the world maybe that was more truth than retoric.
    “”Psychological operations may become the dominant operational and strategic weapon in the form of media/information intervention. Logic bombs and computer viruses, including latent viruses, may be used to disrupt civilian as well as military operations. Fourth generation adversaries will be adept at manipulating the media to alter domestic and world opinion to the point where skillful use of psychological operations will sometimes preclude the commitment of combat forces. A major target will be the enemy population’s support of its government and the war. Television news may become a more powerful operational weapon than armored divisions.””
    //www.d-n-i.net/fcs/4th_gen_war_gazette.htm
    After reading this I keep wondering Where are these guys today and how soon can we bring them into our top echolen positions to work on phase two of this article the cures and coutners!

  • C-Low says:

    Justin
    I would disagree on this one I think the disbanding of the Iraqi army was a nessecary evil. Sure we could have keep it and just replaced Saddam with a friendly Saddam type. We could have even had them make a show of democracy for awhile until we left in a couple of years. And yes I do agree the Kurds and Shia wouldnt have done to much about it. The problem is that the street, we sacrifised the Sunni street in return for the Kurd and Shia street, both of who were highly suspect of the US due to 91′ sell out. If we had left the bathist in charge in position of power they would have seen that as a sell out and one slip up of the bathist old timers (that by them knowing they could never win power in Democracy would have made that slip up happen sooner rather than later) and bamm Sadr would have taken advantage and this insurgency we fight today against 20% of a population and cross border Syria would be in the South, and middle Sadr backed by Iran and Zark in the west,middle and North kurd area as Ansar al Islam. A certian portion of Sunni would never have joined us and would be poisoning the waters to make us leave faster so they can fully take over. It would have been a huge mess we would be at war with not less than 20% but over half of the whole population over a huge swath of territory. And our allies would be a little over 20% supposing we held onto the Kurd street.
    Our current path was the best albiet most risky and the slower if successfull. The Sunni are at the disadvantage and by history the most easiest besides the kurds to bring to our side. The Sunni will just as they are begining to join our idea as they may not rule they will have a huge advantage of power and money in a capitalist democracy over thier couterparts who are not as westernized. The reason it has taken them so long is the world belief that the US cant take loses and is really a giant with no heart but that is being proven as not true. We are earning our props the hard way.

  • Justin Capone says:

    I would disagree on this one I think the disbanding of the Iraqi army was a nessecary evil. Sure we could have keep it and just replaced Saddam with a friendly Saddam type. We could have even had them make a show of democracy for awhile until we left in a couple of years.
    ——————————————
    It isn’t an either/or proposition when it comes to keeping the army or disbanding it. We didn’t have to keep the army as it was. In fact as I said before I would have kept about 100,000 of them and got rid of alot of the generals and higher officers and filled them in with Shia and Kurds. From there we could have built a 300,000 man strong Army that reflects all of Iraq in about 2 years.
    But, as I said before it is simply water under the bridge.

  • C-Low says:

    A little clarification on that last posts ending..
    The Sunni had to recognize they were beaten before they surrender total absolute power. The Sunni would have never shared power with the Kurd and Shia pre-defeat. Today they are waking up to the fact they have been defeated and if they join the Capitalist Democracy the US is installing thier history of western ways and education will put them into central positions while not overbearing dominatino of society. They are begining to see that part of something is better than nothing. The bringing of the Shia, Kurd army up to being a capable force is slow but IS and this tells the Sunni that thier last hope of just out lasting the US is gone, the Shia and Kurd live thier and are not going to pull out cause of a bomb in this or that market however they may just due to the Sunni what the Sunni did to them in the past. That with the fact the US weapons and Skills will make that threat real has got to scare the Sunni sh*tless.

  • Marlin says:

    C;Low
    I totally agree that the Sunni need to be defeated militarily before they will acquiesce and play a peaceful role in Iraqi society. I don’t believe they would ever accept an egalitarian role as long as they felt they could terrorize the Shia and the Kurds into minority positions again. Keeping the Sunni in line will require that the U.S. keep some level of troops and equipment in Iraq for some time to come (length unknown at this point) to prevent any possible future coup attempts.

  • Justin Capone says:

    A book New Glory by Ralph Peaters savages Rummy on exactly what you are talking about C-Low. He feels Rummy should have destroyed much of the Army and the Sunni morale before the war.
    I still believe that the Iraqi Army could have been loyal to whoever paid their bills, and would have been more then happy to be loyal to Allawi. Basically, I believe there was two possible paths they should have taken the Peaters path of beating the Sunnis into submission or my path of keeping much of the Army, putting Allawi in there for maybe four years before an election, and remolding the Army over time.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Bah, what I meant to say, is that Peaters believed Rummy should have destroyed Sunni morale and the Iraqi Army in the major combat operations phase of the war.

  • C-Low says:

    But that is exactley what Saddam had. Short the Republican Guard most Iraqi units were mostly Sunni and Kurd they are 80% of the population, the Kicker that kept Saddam and the Sunni in domination was they were they upper esholen the leadership. Yes we would have gotten a large force quickly but it would have been the same old game the Shia and Kurd would have seen that and the Sunni officers would not have allowed the Kurd or Shia upstarts to rise in the ranks. We immediatley had thousands of military trained Kurds and Shia but no officers no leadership they were all Sunni. Those Sunni officers knowing they deserved to rule and that they were only 20% pop how could have they ever allowed or supported a democratic election? We would have just built our enemy a platform to attack our system we would have best case been forced to slink away no democracy. Worst case well I ran over that one. Leaving the Sunni in power was a not a option unless we were just going to put a US freindly Saddam in power then go. But that is the whole point of this war to change the ME the same old stability and instant gratification easy way out is done, proven a failure and can no longer be allowed to continue or be repeated.

  • Justin Capone says:

    The officer core could have been changed slowly over time. It all depended on the government I suspect.
    Also, some pretty good quotes about the decision made today.
    —————————————————–
    “The government made this announcement to put the right people back in the right jobs,” Maj. Manaf Abdul-Hussein, formerly of the Iraqi Air Force, said in a telephone interview. “We’ve worked in the military for a long time, and we’re specialists in the field.”
    The major said he knew of many colleagues clamoring for their jobs back because of the high unemployment rate.
    Another former air force officer, Maj. Maithem al-Qaraghuli, said he had been pleasantly surprised by the ministry’s announcement.
    “I heard about the call today, and I’m thinking seriously of responding to it, because the pension I’m getting right now is not enough,” he said. “It’s just $80 a month. If you’re supporting a family, that’s just not enough.”
    //tinylink.com/?QrtafA2bk7

  • C-Low says:

    Now that I believe 100% instead of pushing the Iraqi units into fading into the populace they should have been heavily assualted and crushed. Those leaders that survived would have then gone back with stories from hell about what the Big Satan did. I think Falluja should have been damm near carpet bombed immediatley after terrorist took over, Falluja was allowed to become a rally point of how the US could lose and were not invulnerable. The arab world needs to understand that we can be Barbarians when pushed. Even as bad as it hurt western moral I think Abu Gharib, Gitmo dog cages, heavy urban warfare civilian casualties in Falluja 1, Afghanistan trailiers full of dead prisoners, has done more to prove to the Arab street that the West is still the Barbarians that crushed them time and time again in the past brutaly just with better restraint but beware cuase it can and will be allowed out when needed. I also think Karbala Sadr should have been crushed brutaly as-well.
    I dont know thou I am not a big PR guy I think it more important for the Radicals to fear US more than like us while at the same time I do beleive we should built as many allies as possible. The arabs are natorious for selling eachother out. I am very happy with how things have turned out so far so I cant really say any move done was wrong. I truley believed in the begining that this war was going to be fast in the invasion then a long long very very bloody occupation. I always thought 5yrs was conservative. And the fact we have not again been hit at home still amazes me. How we can defend our society I dont understand at all which in part drove home the point to me this war had to be a offensive campain full alt to draw off as many as possible instead of coming here. I realy dont like the idea of living in a police state I would much rather fight a endless war over seas until thier is either peice or no more enemy.
    The only thing I can say was done wrong with this campain is Bush he has absolutley let me down with his non-ablity to make the point of this war continue to keep people rallied and be aggresive to the media and LLL’s by shaming and such when they subvert our effort. I absolutley believe Bush should have from the begining been calling out poeples patriotism when they put partisanship above the national intrest of winning a war, Bush has been playing defense when he should have been offensive from the begining once you get people rallied it is easier to keep them rallied than it is to re-rally them which is what Bush does after the LLL damage has been done.

  • Justin Capone says:

    C-Low
    Wars have self lives with the US public. The shelf life of modern wars is much smaller thanks to the 24 hour cable news cycle. This war is bumping up against its shelf life and with out very big events like the capture of UBL or Zarqawi it will continue to slowly drop over time in the polls.
    I don’t think there was that much Bush could have done to have changed that fact. He could have done somethings that would have bought him a few more months.

  • hamidreza says:

    It appeared to me back in 2003 that the disbanding of the army was a US nondecision or an indecision that was strongly backed by the religious Shiites, turncoat Chalabi, and by Talebani but not Barezani – all with links to Iran.
    By the time Bremer came around, it was too late. Saddam had dispersed the weapons and had paid up the monies and Zarqawi had won real favor with the Baathists.
    It was a bad decision or nondecision to disband. The lower officer echelons, major and below, could have been bought over if the plan had been put in place at the right time. Maybe discussions with the Baathists could have taken place after the invasion but before the fall of Baghdad. Maybe the friendlier Baathists elements would have delivered the army, or whatever remained of it, and in return received personal assurances.
    I wonder why it has taken them so long to start marketing the new army to these Sunni officers. I thank that the level of irrational anti-Americanism among the Sunni class is actually much deeper than is generally suspected – and it is not going to be an easy job to sell.
    I wonder if the new IA can be sold to the Sunnis as the only way to keep the country from fragmenting. If Sunni IA companies can be deployed to the southern Shiite areas like Basra, then two birds could be hit with one stone.

  • blert says:

    The New Iraqi Army is a social engineering project: it is composed of blended formations.
    Here and there you will find some battalions that are pure Sunni; but that is not desired. Such formations would constitute an endless hazard of civil war — America style.( Standing armies fighting in the field. )
    I can’t imagine any circumstance that would have allowed the Kurds or Shia to survive assasination under the watchful protection of Justin’s Iraqi Army in Detox. They would be absolutely mad to even show up in Baghdad.
    It is quite impossible for an extreme outsider — us — to get the straight dope and make the correct nuanced judgements necessary to detox the old Ba’athist Army. In all of history, it has never been done. From Germany to Japan to Korea success started at the base. In Vietnam we tried to correct ARVN with technical advice and harsh language. The top leadership of ARVN was a total bust; only a handful of exceptions.
    As I have posted before: the number one goof was and is the failure to dry up the weapons dumps. It isn’t necessary to be perfect. Just get the easy stuff first.
    Collective punishment must be used where IEDs are popping up and off: electric power denial. Ditto when power pylons go down, oil pipelines sabotaged.
    Construction battalions must be formed up as soon as practical. They should build what is needed in areas of hazard: projects that are vital but stopped because of kidnappings, bombings, etc. These formations should be provided automatically to contractors building power plants, etc. The desire is to have security provided by armed workers under military discipline directly communicating with combat formations. When the troops leave the army, they will have good trade skills.
    Oil production must surge from here as fast as possible so that the Iraqi government can continue to hire more troops. This ball is being dropped right now.

  • Nicholas says:

    Doesn’t collective punishment just generate resentment amongst those who are innocent? When has it ever worked? I suspect bribery has historically been more successful (turn in your neighbour – fabulous rewards!)
    The way to win people over and dry up the support for insurgents and/or terrorists, I suspect, is to give them security, electricity, water, food, jobs, etc. People aren’t stupid. They know when they’re on to something good and I think for the most part they will stop supporting the forces of chaos when they see that order really is there to stay.
    It’s a slow process but I suspect it’s heading in the right direction and as long as nothing major changes it’s just a matter of time… a lot of engineering projects take years to finish and so does training the ISF.

Iraq

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