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25 January 2007


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Chris Marlowe

It is impossible to fight this kind of war effectively without good local intelligence. This means natives who actively support and believe in the American cause, and believe that they will not be sold out by the Americans.

The Americans have turned about 90% of the local population in Baghdad against them; just about the only thing Sunnis and Shias (including pro-Iranian and Iraqi nationalists under al-Sadr) agree on is that they want the Americans out.

The only thing the anti-American forces need to do to turn someone over to their side is to say "Who is going to protect your family after the Americans are gone? Iraq is just the desert version of Vietnam. Remember Vietnam?"

This is exactly the strategy which turned many South Vietnamese into spies for the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army; appeal to the personal safety of the fighters' families. It is something which will weaken even the most determined fighter. Personal bravery in the battlefield is one thing; being reckless with one's own unprotected family members is quite another.

While there were many South Vietnamese who were loyal to the Americans, the number of South Vietnamese who were functionaries in the Republic of Vietnam government who became officials in the Communist government of South Vietnam showed that the South Vietnamese government had been completely compromised on the intelligence level, and the Communists were able to counter every move the ARVN made. The same situation is now happening in the Iraqi government, except that there are more sides, factions and loyalties in Iraq.

There simply is no good clear response to this question for the Americans.

So what are the chances for Petraeus being successful? I would say that they are about the same as Bush's popularity getting back above 80% in the US.


Meanwhile, in Mosul and Diyala...


i had run across the term before in reading about the battle for Algeria


"Late in 1957, General Raoul Salan, commanding the French army in Algeria, instituted a system of quadrillage, dividing the country into sectors, each permanently garrisoned by troops responsible for suppressing rebel operations in their assigned territory. Salan's methods sharply reduced the instances of FLN terrorism but tied down a large number of troops in static defense. Salan also constructed a heavily patrolled system of barriers to limit infiltration from Tunisia and Morocco. The best known of these was the Morice Line (named for the French defense minister, André Morice), which consisted of an electrified fence, barbed wire, and mines over a 320-kilometer stretch of the Tunisian border. "
Remember that Algeria was a department of France, considered as French as Paris or Normandy, yetin the end they gave it up.

the one counterinsurgency that is helf up as successful is Malaysia. I am mostlyiignorant about that affair. But it appears to be a Marxist movement in a Muslim country. the Commies haven't had longterm success among the Muslims- from Yemen to Indonesia to Afghanistan.


we support the sunnis in lebanon, we support the shia in iraq, we support extremists in saudi arabia, we support shia in afghanistan, and are against shia in iran.

these religious wars are increasingly perceived to be fabricated. I'm starting to believe that if the americans leave Iraq, there will be a precipitous fall in sectarian violence

Got A Watch

"Quadrillage" - a word derived from the four-sided skulls of the failed strategists who believe it is a viable plan to secure victory. The most advanced Washington practitioners are known as the "Square Heads" or "Block Heads" and are ususally found at White House strategy meetings.

All kidding aside, another spot-on analysis Col.

For a recent look at life in one of the new dispersed garrisons, see "They've got us surrounded (cont'd)"
key quote: "The New York Times this morning pays a visit to the leading edge of Dubya's "new way forward" in Iraq, and the (sacrificial lambs) troops involved don't seem thrilled:
Their outpost here, a cluster of fortified houses officially designated a joint security station and unofficially called the Alamo by some of the soldiers, is a test case for President Bush’s new Baghdad security plan. The strategy envisions at least 20 more facilities like it in other troubled neighborhoods, all jointly staffed by Iraqi and American forces.

Even after the stations are set up, American commanders say, it will be many months, at best, before they can even hope to prevent bombings like the one that killed at least 88 people in a central Baghdad market area on Monday.

In the week since the Americans arrived, however, the troops have seen the truth of what their commanders warned in announcing the plan: it leaves Americans more exposed than ever, stationary targets for warring militias.

The outpost sits on the fault line between Sunni and Shiite enclaves: Ghazaliya to the south, where fighters with Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia have moved in among the Sunni population, and Shula to the north, a base for Shiite militias that have been raiding this neighborhood for months.

Over the course of three days spent with the 105 soldiers here — Company C of the Second Battalion, 12th Cavalry — four American vehicles were hit by roadside bombs near the outpost. No soldiers from Company C were wounded, but they know the fighting will intensify.

“I’m a juicy target they are just trying to figure out,” said Capt. Erik Peterson, 29, the commander at the outpost.

During the week, the soldiers also received their first glimpse of the green Iraqi forces who will share the mission and eventually, they hoped, take it over. The soldiers talked about them with a mixture of bemusement, disdain and mistrust.

“You could talk about partnership, but you would be lying,” said one soldier who asked that his name not be used, for fear of punishment by his superiors.

And just think, things haven't started getting worse yet. This is as close as the new plan is going to get to a "honeymoon" phase."

Bush conclusively proves again there is no bad strategy so stupid he will not try it.


More "chatter" on Iran.

Troops authorized to kill Iranian operatives in Iraq

The administration's plans contain five "theaters of interest," as one senior official put it, with military, intelligence, political and diplomatic strategies designed to target Iranian interests across the Middle East.

The White House has authorized a widening of what is known inside the intelligence community as the "Blue Game Matrix" -- a list of approved operations that can be carried out against the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon. And U.S. officials are preparing international sanctions against Tehran for holding several dozen al-Qaeda fighters who fled across the Afghan border in late 2001. They plan more aggressive moves to disrupt Tehran's funding of the radical Palestinian group Hamas and to undermine Iranian interests among Shiites in western Afghanistan.


A senior intelligence officer was more wary of the ambitions of the strategy.

"This has little to do with Iraq. It's all about pushing Iran's buttons. It is purely political," the official said. The official expressed similar views about other new efforts aimed at Iran, suggesting that the United States is escalating toward an unnecessary conflict to shift attention away from Iraq and to blame Iran for the United States' increasing inability to stanch the violence there.

Les Izmore

Why have the military leaders abandoned the lessons learned in Vietnam so completely? I find it hard to believe that the men who send soldiers into battle would waste their most precious resource, ie. soldiers, so unwisely. Is this a function of Rumsfeld's technology heavy armed forces model? Does the new breed of military brass actually think cruise missiles and satellite controlled drones are what constitutes an an army? Have they bought into the politically motivated idea that 'will' is what wins wars rather than men fighting on the battlefield? It seems our military has completely lost it's way in the modern world. Allowing battlefield decisions to be made based on political and economic, read appropriations, bases will not serve the US interests at all well in the long or short run. As far as I can tell, barring a stunning defeat by the insurgents inspired by a preemptive attack on Iran, we must still be in Iraq at the end of the Bush II reign. The stabilization our oil supply needs won't happen any quicker than that and Bush will be more than happy to hand that turd over to his successor, especially if the Democrat party takes the White House. What will happen if a withdrawal government comes into power two years from now? Will the generals do an about face and rediscover the knowledge they seem to have deliberately misplaced?


Meanwhile.. the US is quietly targeting http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/01/26/us.iran.reut/index.html> Iranian Agents In Iraq can Iran be that far behind?

semper fubar

The concept of "4th Generation Warfare" is a fraud perpetrated as a marketing device by scholars of warfare for the purpose of assuring senior officers that they are not to blame for their ignorance of military history.

Brilliant. Pat, that one sentence pretty much sums up the whole stinking fraud, "Global War on Terror" included, perpetrated on all of us.


Two comments on your excellent point here:

1. As you point out, as warfare moves into neighborhoods in Bagdhad, civilians will either be killed or move out. In this kind of war, the people are the center of gravity. If your ultimate strategic goal is to "hold" land, you have missed the whole point. The civilians will move, and, if anything, they will become even more hostile to the occupation.

2. It is important to connect the US "Alamo" strategy to your earlier comments about artillery's role in US tactical doctrine. If US dispersed targets (Alamos) come under sustained attack the ultimate US response will be either airborne or land based artillery. While US artillery has always been among the best in the world, it will kill a lot of people in Bagdhad neighborhoods. This tactical response will lead to strategic disaster.

The US soldier is at his best when fighting for a good cause on the offensive. Our cause is no longer good, and our combat soldiers are now simply targets. Bush's "new" plan has just made them even better targets. May God help the grunt, because no one else seems to be interested.


Global War on Terror

Did 1984 not translate that into War is Peace?


I agree about Iran: If things go real bad in Iraq during the surge, and the US get bloodied badly ... it wasn't because of moronic US decisions, but it was all because of ... ta-dah! ... this vile Iranian influence that the US failed.

The Iraqis couldn't have possibly been so good without Iranian help. There already is lots of talk about Iranian 'support', 'involvement', 'meddling'. The careful wording is telling. It also is never specified what exactly that means. Something as 'solid' as Saddam's 'ties to al-Qaeda'? In this reading the Iranians actively undermined US progress and that could be utilised as the 'Tonking Incident' to trigger the long desired bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities.

The forces for the air strikes are already in place, free to operate as they are not required for the operations in Iraq.


patrick cockburn

January 26, 2007


It is extraordinary that, almost four years after US forces captured Baghdad, they control so little of it. The outlook for Mr Bush's strategy of driving out insurgents from strongholds and preventing them coming back does not look good.
On Monday, a helicopter belonging to the US security company Blackwater was shot down as it flew over the Sunni neighbourhood of al-Fadhil, close to the central markets of Baghdad. Some of the five American crew members may have survived the crash but they were later found with gunshot wounds to their heads, as if they had been executed on the ground.

what will happen in the rest of Iraq while the US concentrates on trying to secure Baghdad. The degree of violence in the countryside is often underestimated because it is less reported than in the capital. In Baquba, the capital of Diyala province north-east of Baghdad, US and Iraqi army commanders were lauding their achievements at a press conference last weekend, claiming: "The situation in Baquba is reassuring and under control but there are some rumors circulated by bad people." Within hours, Sunni insurgents kidnapped the mayor and blew up his office.
The situation in the south of Iraq is no more reassuring. Five American soldiers were killed in the Shia holy city of Karbala last Saturday by gunmen wearing American and Iraqi uniforms, carrying American weapons and driving vehicles used by US or Iraqi government forces. A licence plate belonging to a car registered to Iraq's Minister of Trade was found on one of the vehicles used in the attack. It is a measure of the chaos in Iraq today that US officials do not know if their men were killed by Sunni or Shia guerrillas.
US commanders and the Mehdi Army seem to be edging away from all-out confrontation in Baghdad. Neither the US nor Iraqi government has the resources to eliminate the Shia militias. Even Kurdish units in the capital have a high number of desertions. The Mehdi Army, if under pressure in the capital, could probably take over much of southern Iraq.

John Howley

Carriers Stennis and Eisenhower are already on station in the Gulf area. This makes three...

USS Ronald Reagan to Surge Deploy
Navy News | January 25, 2007

SAN DIEGO -- USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Carrier Strike Group (CSG), with more than 5,000 sailors, will surge deploy Jan. 27, while USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) undergoes scheduled maintenance in Yokosuka, Japan.

The Ronald Reagan CSG is deploying under the Navy's Fleet Response Plan (FRP) and will operate in the western Pacific in support of U.S. commitments in the region. FRP provides the U.S. with the ability to respond to any global commitment with flexible and sustainable forces and the ability to rapidly respond to a range of situations on short notice.


I think its about time we stopped talking about whether the US is going after Sunni or Shia. Its time the media figured out that while Bush talks of Iranian meddling, his plans call for the eradication of the 2 groups, the Sunnis and the Mehdi, who are not heavily backed by Iran.

Whether its Al-Sadr or Hamas, Iran or Hizbullah, the sect doesnt matter. They are going after every and any state/group/organisation that is a threat to US strategic interests in the region, be that oil or Israel. It really is that simple.

Jon Stopa

You've got a bright young man who has a plan--in fact, he has written a book about it. Now, as an experiment at small scale, he wants to try
it out. Come on, only 20,000 troops! Whether it work or not, that's not a big loss. I mean, we'd like to know if it works when the next counter-insergency war pops up. Besides, now is the time to make any revisions it needs.


Has there ever been a counter-insurgency war fought by European/American forces that was not, either: perceived as in colonial/imperial context, or was, in fact, a colonial/imperial war?

Babak Makkinejad


It reminds me of a sequence in the Woody Allen movie "Bananas":

Paratrooper: "Sarge, who are we fighting this time?"

Sargent: "This time CIA is not taking any chances - half of us are fighting for them, half of us are fighting against them."


There is a history of successful invasions from the salting of Carthage through the Conquest of the Aztecs to the Battle of Berlin. They all were commanded by leaders who knew that there was the possibility of their defeat but had one single minded goal, winning.

Iraq is a colonial war led by the mediocre fought on the cheap. The USA is unwilling to pay the costs in lives and treasure to control Middle East oil and will be forced to retreat. In the meantime grunts will be spending their time in Hell in a Very Small Place; "Joint Security Stations".

The soft American Empire of industrial democratic allies and autocratic third world sources of raw materials built after “WWII” has been shredded by the Bush “Global War on Terror”; a strategic defeat as devastating as the melting of the polar ice cap.


there's a NeoKon paper around somewhere about the threshold acceptable American casualty levels. Of course we have already reached them. Or maybe, we have reached the unacceptable time duration level. More casualties coming.

But one thing for sure about the quadriallage a.k.a. clear and hold, and that's the sitting duck for truck bomb and mortar feature.

"Salan's methods sharply reduced the instances of FLN terrorism but tied down a large number of troops in static defense "

Taking the most mobile Army in the world, engaging it in urban warfare among rubble & making it a sitting patsy gives truth to the Col's phrase "Stalingrad on the Tigris."


Hi Colonel,

"The concept of "4th Generation Warfare" is a fraud perpetrated as a marketing device by scholars of warfare for the purpose of assuring senior officers that they are not to blame for their ignorance of military history."

Hmmmm.I find that to be an odd critique.

William Lind and the 4GW school can probably be accused of a number of things in how they argue the theory but your statement certainly isn't one of them.

I've been reading Lind for a few years and he is a particularly harsh critic of senior military leaders ignoring the lessons of military history.

Chris Marlowe

In 1946, George Marshall tried to negotiate a coalition government agreement in China between Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang government and the Communists under Mao Zedong, who was the ultimate practitioner of insurgency warfare in the 20th century, along with Tito in Yugoslavia and Ho Chi-minh in Vietnam.

When the discussions crumbled, Marshall told Mao that his coalition initiative had ended, and the US would supply conventional arms to the Kuomintang to fight the Communists.

Mao responded: "You fight your war, and I'll fight my war. We'll see who wins."

Three years later, in 1949, the People's Republic of China was founded. Mao had switched from a guerrilla war, then to conventional warfare, and won.

If there is anything which I find amazing, it is America's blind belief that complex insurgencies which depend on human intelligence and local knowledge can be won on the basis of conventional warfare and multi-billion weapons systems. Hundreds of billions of American taxpayer dollars continue to be spent on weapons which are designed to fight the Soviet Union. They are great weapons against the al-Qaeda Air Force, but are useless for fighting insurgencies.

Mao had another good response to this:"The Americans believe in powerful weapons; I believe in good fighters with strong local knowledge who are dedicated to our cause.With the right fighters, a just cause and the peoples' support, I can defeat any enemy. "

This refusal to learn is responsible for literally mountains of dead Americans in lost causes. All they get is a name on an memorial. American lives are so cheap!

In 30 years' time, there will be a memorial to the Iraqi-Iranian campaigns, probably right by the Vietnam memorial. Just names on stone...


Confused -

Yeah. And of course the only reason HB was effective last summer in Lebanon was because of Syria and Iran ...
It's another demonstration of practiced prevarication by the architects of this disaster. The technique is that one tells a lie that is intended to be exposed, but has more prepared levels of untruths layered underneath, each to be revealed by necessity as 'the real truth.'

So -

It's Saddam
It's the Baathists
It's the Sunnis
It's Islamofascism [sic]
It's the Shia militias
It's the media
It's that the military didn't execute correctly
It's the Iranians

It's NEVER pertinent or something you can be responsible for - like screwing up a plan that was ill-conceived in the first place.

W. Patrick Lang


All the advocates of "generational warfare " as a paradigm live by their contracts from DoD. Get it? pl



You're on to something. There maybe method to the madness. The only issue is Iraq. If the belief is that SCIRI would be a reliable ally that may not exactly work out in the intermediate term. Who do you think Hakim would be more loyal to - the Decider or the Ayatollah? Sure he would use the US forces in a temporary alliance to defeat his competitors - Sadr and the Sunni. But the whole Iraq project has shown that with the exception of the invasion nothing has gone according to plan. So too the stratagery of providing Israel time and weaponry to nullify HA.

IMO, Lebanon is on the path towards conflict. Israel having failed to destroy HA last summer, now with the support of the US and France is on to Plan B - get the Hariri led grouping to do it with Saudi financing and Israel delivered weapons. Use the conflict to try and peel off Syria with threats that the conflict would be expanded.

It seems that US and Israel want to expand the conflict zone for each of their internal political reasons. Bush to checkmate the congress and Olmert to recover from the summer drubbing.

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