Failure in Iraq

“We haven’t imposed any terms at the moment, we’re just trying to get a cease-fire in place and we have asked the insurgents to stop attacking the Marines.”

“They didn’t do that yesterday, we had a number of attacks yesterday, so we proposed a different time for one today. What we are trying to do is simply get the forces to stop firing, have the insurgents stop firing on the Marines. And then we’ll have a delegation from the governing council go in and we’ll try to find out how we can proceed from there.”

Paul Bremer
ABC’s “This Week”
April 11 2004


Steve Gilliard on how the Assault on Fallujah is going for the Marines

Failure in Iraq

US Marines are sitting outside Fallujah, using a cease-fire to reenforce their two outnumbered battalions, and hoping that some Iraqis can decide to stop killing each other and them. Despite all the big talk of “surrender or die” US forces are essentially stuck a mile inside the city and unable to move father without calling in the big guns and air support.

If a regular Iraqi battalion held the town, US forces would make short work of them. But the fact is that this is as much political as military and all the resistance has to do is kill Americans and hold on. They have turned one of the most hated towns in Iraq into a nationalist symbol across the country. The commanders tell the reporters one story, their unit movements say another.

One exmple, the use of the AC-130. That plane is never used in offensive operations. It can kill a football field’s worth of soldiers. No one can move forward when Spectre is above, unless they want to die. It is usually used when US forces are pinned down. Then, it can wipe an attacking enemy out. The fact that it was used in Fallujah indicates that their attack stalled out. Then, they had to call in more AF fighters, which means they were in serious trouble. Marines hate calling in the Air Force because they have a habit of killing Marines.

Then, of course, they bought up a third battalion. A full regiment of troops still stuck in that one mile area of Fallujah.

In no war game you could play, in no Lessons Learned, do you bring up another unit if your attack is going well. You do that when your other units are getting hammered.

What the US thought was that the guerillas would collapse and run deep in the city and the US can get the bad guys and call it a day. Well, the resistance in Fallujah turned out to be Iraqi Army vets who knew how to fight. Don’t let the causality figures fool you. Many of the Iraqi dead are civilans. I wonder how many guerillas are being killed. Remember that they don’t have helmets, body armor and armor. The fact that so many Americans are being killed is the stunner. 50 dead in one week is stunning. The guerillas are amazingly effective combatants.

Read the rest…..

Worse than Saddam

Before driving to Ramadi on Wednesday, we spent the night at the home of a Shia family in Sadr City. ‘There is no difference between Falluja and Sadr City,’ said Nassir Salman, a barber who was working late. ‘They are fighting and we are fighting. Inshallah , there will be jihad. But we are jealous of Falluja. We are waiting for our leaders to declare jihad. Now, it is worse than Saddam. He killed secretly – but the Americans kill us on the streets.’

Read the article. It’s illuminating.

Email from Iraq

Josh Marshall posts this email he received from Baghdad. He describes the sender as”a friend of mine who spent a career in US military intelligence specializing in counter-terrorism, now in Iraq working as a contractor providing security for companies and NGOs.”

The fighting two nights ago was loud and widespread throughout the northern and northwestern parts of Baghdad … areas such as Yarmouk, Sadr City had almost continuous gunfights and rocket attacks. When we heard US forces using the main gun on M-1 tanks at 1 AM we knew it was serious insurgency at hand. The night is no longer the refuge and domain of the Americans. I have to tell you although the wide open areas of Iraq give a false sense of security. Even though much of this is unseen to most people the situation has gone from bad to really bad to unbelievably bad! Westerners are getting hit everywhere. Security companies escorting CPA, themselves and other Westerners are now on the menu for all the armed resistance groups. There was a report of a massive ambush by one security firm that tried to drive in from Amman. Reports have 25-40 gunmen opening up on them. They lost all of their vehicles and had to be given a mercy lift by a passing Iraqi minivan. Several other firms lost western security personnel killed this week in drive-by ambushes and even a seige by the Sadr Militia. Several NGOs, security firms and military bases were literally under siege for days in Kut, Nasiriyah and Baghdad. The boldness and sophistication of the attacks is staggering and it is clear that every one of the resistance fighters and Islamic militiamen have taken heart at the ease of inflicting damage on the Westerners. The abductions of the Japanese hostages is a sign that we have entered a new phase of bad as abduction requires a permissive environment for the hostage taker.

I refer to this entire mess as the second Intifada of Iraq. The first Intifida was last August in Fallujah when US soldiers killed 15-17 Iraqis and Fallujah fell into revolt. Vehicles are being hit where they are easiest to find and the security firms who are here to protect the Westerners are taking casualties because the US Army and Marines are literally stretched thin throughout the country and quit over their own capacity to stop the violence. The resistance’s combat operational center of mass is and will continue moving from known mass resistance organizations (such as uniformed Badr Brigade) to small leaderless or autonomous teams or supporters who are now deciding to do what they please to the first target available. Those targets are easy … Westerners. Any and all. This burst of energy won’t last long though …

I suspect we will have a cool down period in the next few days or within a week but it will be simply to “re-arm and re-fuel for re-strike and re-venge.” A true sustained explosion of violence has yet to be coordinated by the myriad of resistance teams but as the independent or semi-centralized resistance groups form, choose leadership and communicate at the internet cafes, you can be pretty sure the second wave of violence is going to come and it will be equally, if not more, dramatic. This time it won’t be men in black uniforms, they have learned that lesson in Najaf … They will shift to urban terrorism and un-uniformed attacks. God forbid if Sadr is killed or captured … then we have an entire second front that won’t give up until we leave.

General Kimmet is wrong if he thinks that he will destroy the Badr brigade or Sadr Army as a military organization because there isn’t really one … he will disperse them into small, highly armed teams of friends and … voila! Al Qaeda-Iraq or Hezbollah-Iraq will be borne in numbers we will not be able to control. Since the ICDC [the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps] seem to have run off and joined the opposition in Nasiriyah it may reflect the true loyalties of the new Iraqi army and Police. No one is going to cross their family, tribe or religious community for the Americans.

The correct answer is to back off, leave Sadr alone and start to throw lots of money into jobs projects and utilities for the south before this summer’s electricity and gas shortages … will that work? Probably not. But we have just antagonized the core of the Shiite resistance and putting them to work is better than letting them fight us 24/7. General Sanchez is right about one thing … this is not Vietnam … Oh no, its not that easy. I refer you to Israel humiliating defeat in Southern Lebanon by Hezbollah’s armed resistance for a reference to our potential future.

Via Sean-Paul’s Iraq Update XI