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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.

dell

Meanwhile, in Mosul and Diyala...

Will

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algerian_War_of_Independence

"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.

eaken

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)"
http://www.needlenose.com/node/view/3752?PHPSESSID=486b403d94cd8c95b279e54a87818739
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.

zanzibar

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.

SNIP

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?

Michael

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.


bh

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.

John

Global War on Terror

Did 1984 not translate that into War is Peace?

confusedponderer

Zanzibar,
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.

jamzo

patrick cockburn

January 26, 2007

http://www.counterpunch.org/

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.
http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,123378,00.html

Mo

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.

jonst

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

eaken:

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."

VietnamVet

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.

Will

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."

zenpundit

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...

ikonoklast

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

Zenster

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

zanzibar

Mo

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.

binkieandmarcel

Col. Lang: Your explanation of quadrillage was very instructive for a military semi-literate like me. Among other benefits, it put into perspective the raid on the post in Karbala by insurgents wearing U.S. uniforms: "The first U.S. military statement on the raid, which reported five soldiers killed and three wounded, said 'the PJCC is a coordination center where local Iraqi officials, Iraqi security forces and coalition forces stationed within the center meet to address the security needs of the population.'"
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070126/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_sneak_attack

In other words, this sounds very much like the "joint security centers" which will anchor each quadrille in the new plan. Not very encouraging. Its vulnerability shows how the insurgents keep morphing ahead of our attempts to contain them.

zanzibar

The security failure and killing of US soldiers at the governor's office in Karbala is getting curioser. Someone had pretty good intelligence and the capability to execute a very sophisticated operation.

AP Disputes Military Claims

What's the real story here?

ali

Quadrillage et ratissage, like Bigeard in the Casbah. Has this ever been tried in a metropolis the size of Baghdad?

Sadr City alone is as big as Algiers. Resupplying dozens of tiny FOBs is a force protection nightmare.

The French had large numbers of very reliable local allies. Algiers had a majority colonist population and there were also many supportive Arabs loyal Paris. Algeria had been French for over acentury. The city was as French as Marseilles and spoke the Paratroopers language.

They where lead by ruthless men often with first hand experience of the Gestapo. They were just back from bitter defeat in Vietnam and already felt deeply betrayed by their nation.

This was an army so motivated that leaving Algiers to the mercies of the FLN called many of them to armed revolt. The 1st Régiment Étranger Parachutiste had to be disbanded by a frightened Paris. De Gaulle himself was lucky to avoid assassination. Some soldiers did turn to covert terrorist action in mainland France in the aftermath.

I could go on there are so many ways the French were advantaged in Algiers compared with the US in alien Baghdad.

Petraeus is a smart man he may even have an intellect to rival Trinquier; it will not be enough. To win he has to achieve an impossible balance between many factions. Baghdad is seven times the size of Algiers in 57. One misstep with the Shi'a and the surging fobbits could be facing something more like Camarón.

http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/documents/swjmag/v6/menning.pdf
"Both Trinquier and Aussaresses, for example, repeatedly emphasize the importance of
population control and show that it was attainable without staggering numbers of troops
and with support from the population the military was seeking to control."

And let's not forget the French trounced the FLN in Algiers but they still lost the war.

zanzibar

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that the Sadr Movement of Muqtada al-Sadr gave its unstinting support to al-Maliki's security plan. It was speculated that this step is an attempt to avoid a confrontatation with US forces. The London daily also confirms that the Sadrists have appointed a negotiator to talk directly to the Americans on behalf of the commanders of the Mahdi Army militia. It says that some Mahdi Army commanders have scattered to Kut, Babil and Taji or even to neighboring countries, and that al-Maliki has avoided having to choose between his American partners and his Sadrist allies by convincing the Mahdi Army to fade away for the moment. It says US ambassador in Baghdad Zalmay Khalilzad expressed concern that gunmen in Iraq may go into hiding during the US "surge," and then reappear when it is over.

From Juan Cole.

Since the Decider's "quadrillage" will happen slowly over many months the Mahdi seem to have decided to use the insurgents favorite tactic - blend in and disappear. Or maybe cause mayhem outside Baghdad. We have seen this movie before in Iraq. US troops in Fallujah - bombs away in Ramadi and Baghdad.

Michael

I found http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070126/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_sneak_attack>this story particularly disturbing. Colonel Lang is it normal for the US military to make up a different story regarding an ambuse, or is this just another example of political spin doctoring?

Charles

There is a mustsee video over at youtube of an American company "supervising" an Iraqui patrol.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nuMAooG6SM&eurl=

They stay in their vehicles as the Iraquis apprehend three men found with three mortars in a car up ahead. This sounds about the level of planned U.S. troop involvement in the quadrillage op. They beat the shit out of their prisoners as the Americans provide jocular running commentary. It gives a real flavour of the unbiased, neutral sectarian stance of the U.S., and how they, and no doubt their Kurdish surge recruits, will be percieved.

Then it shows the Americans, after directions by children in the street, inspecting some rooftop sniper nests, the general character of which they are obviously ignorant. Not a good sign.

Will

of course, Gen Salan went on to found the OAS.

penetrating interview w/ former Iraki PM Ali Alawi. He gives his view of the "surge."

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/IA26Ak04.html

MarcLord

Charles, saw that vid this morning and got around to posting it. Perfect exemplar of daily life in one of the new Iraqi "Gated Communities."

Petraeus is a bright guy. But no genius. His field manual makes the assumption that Iraqis want security, first and foremost, that once he achieves it everything will fall into line. Apparently he made the mistake of taking Iraqi requests for security, repeated ad infinitum, at face value.

A dictator would ignore these demands. A dictator would do whatever it took to elicit reflexive obedience, and that opportunity is past. For obedience to be instilled, there must be a level of trust, and the US has blown all credibility. The clerics, so long boxed in and suppressed, have flourished. They are the ones instilling reflexive obedience.

patricia smiley

Here is a quote from Lind which addresses your comments.

Still, even such a capable and well-read commander as General Mattis seems to miss the point about Fourth Generation warfare. He said in his missive, "Ultimately, a real understanding of history means that we face NOTHING new under the sun. For all the ‘4th Generation of War’ intellectuals running around today saying that the nature of war has fundamentally changed, the tactics are wholly new, etc., I must respectfully say…’Not really…"

Well, that isn’t quite what we Fourth Generation intellectuals are saying. On the contrary, we have pointed out over and over that the 4th Generation is not novel but a return, specifically a return to the way war worked before the rise of the state. Now, as then, many different entities, not just governments of states, will wage war. They will wage war for many different reasons, not just "the extension of politics by other means." And they will use many different tools to fight war, not restricting themselves to what we recognize as military forces. When I am asked to recommend a good book describing what a Fourth Generation world will be like, I usually suggest Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century.

Nor are we saying that Fourth Generation tactics are new. On the contrary, many of the tactics Fourth Generation opponents use are standard guerilla tactics. Others, including much of what we call "terrorism," are classic Arab light cavalry warfare carried out with modern technology at the operational and strategic, not just tactical, levels.

As I have said before in this column, most of what we are facing in Iraq today is not yet Fourth Generation warfare, but a War of National Liberation, fought by people whose goal is to restore a Baathist state. But as that goal fades and those forces splinter, Fourth Generation war will come more and more to the fore. What will characterize it is not vast changes in how the enemy fights, but rather in who fights and what they fight for. The change in who fights makes it difficult for us to tell friend from foe. A good example is the advent of female suicide bombers; do U.S. troops now start frisking every Moslem woman they encounter? The change in what our enemies fight for makes impossible the political compromises that are necessary to ending any war. We find that when it comes to making peace, we have no one to talk to and nothing to talk about. And the end of a war like that in Iraq becomes inevitable: the local state we attacked vanishes, leaving behind either a stateless region (Somalia) or a façade of a state (Afghanistan) within which more non-state elements rise and fight.

General Mattis is correct that none of this is new...

jt davis

Zenster

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

Posted by: W. Patrick Lang

Not to put too fine a point on it but Eisenhower did warn us about something like that. DoD is the true engine of our economy and DoE fuels that engine. Most of us pay a generous fare to ride this bus. A select few ride for free in well armored, chauffered limousines.

jr786

Doesn't this quadrillage tactic neutralize our heretofore tactical advantage in using precision, air-delivered munitions? If Americans are positioned so close to potential enemy, doesn't that level out the battlefield significantly to the advantage of insurgents who already know the streets? It seems we will have to fight the enemy on his streets using more or less the same type of small arms. Are there any casualty rate predictions for this type of scenario?

Mo

Zanzibar,

Whether its Hakim, Al-Maliki or anyone else, if you want to remove the power of Sadr so that you are in prime position when the US moves out, then you are going to ally yourself (privately)with the only people that have any chance of doing it, namely the US. And the theory will be that if once finished with Al Sadr, if the US turns on you, guess who they expect all the followers of Al Sadr will start supporting?

In Lebanon, conflict is a possibilty, but can only happen if the govt. supporter push the secterian battles to the absolute limit. However, in doing so, they risk losing the little support they have left.

Eaken

Part of the reason why the US military command feels compelled to divide the city up is because US troops very often get lost. The video Charles posted touches on this, but I've seen many more that show US troops continuing to have a very difficult time navigating the streets of Baghdad.

For instance, in the video, if those individuals targeted by the Sunni militia were to call the "TIP Line", I find it very hard to believe the US troops would be able to respond in any time sensitive fashion, if at all

Ian Whitchurch

Jr786 wrote

"Doesn't this quadrillage tactic neutralize our heretofore tactical advantage in using precision, air-delivered munitions? If Americans are positioned so close to potential enemy, doesn't that level out the battlefield significantly to the advantage of insurgents who already know the streets? It seems we will have to fight the enemy on his streets using more or less the same type of small arms. Are there any casualty rate predictions for this type of scenario?"

Yes, yes, yes and I'd assume about proportional to the number of troops in contact with hostile enemies, which is higher than if you leave them in large, well defended base complexes.

But it's the only way to do COIN that might work.

walrus

I wonder if I can still find my course notes? I was trained as a counter insurgency instructor. Maybe I could send them to General Petreaus?

I am in furious agreement with Col. Lang. "Fourth Generation warfare" is pure and simple BS. It is the same garbage as has been portrayed for at least thirty years in magazines such as Aerospace and Aviation weekly.

You know these articles about new weapon systems, complete with the diagrams showing an enemy tank being video'd by a drone(Lockheed) that is beaming the picture to a satellite(Raytheon) which sends it to another satellite(Boeing) that downlinks it to a DC command centre (L3) where a guy presses a button and a submarine(Electric Boat company) launches a cruise missile (McDonnel Douglas) that zaps the tank in the last frame of the diagram.

Sorry guys, counterinsurgency isn't like that because the problem is targetting, pure and simple. You simply do not know who is an insurgent and who is not, and to complicate matters, the "right" answer changes from hour to hour and from day to day. All the high tech weaponry in the world cannot look into a man's heart and tell you what he is thinking.

this is what you are, in part up against:

Let me give you a fictional example, lets call him Ali. Ali is a gas station owner. When the Americans arrived in Baghdad, Ali was optimistic. He hated Saadam Hussien. Ali's uncle, a minor Shia Imam, had been imprisoned for three years by the Baathists.

Ali thought the Americans would bring american style prosperity to Baghdad, and eagerly looked for their leadership in building a new and better Iraq.

Unfortunately for Ali, things got worse, not better. Gas became in short supply which meant his wages went down. While some Iraqis were getting rich, it wasn't Ali. The Americans were throwing money around but none of it was thrown in Ali's direction.

Then Ali's brother, a plumber was shot and killed by a frightened American nineteen year old at a checkpoint. His little old Toyota had poor brakes and didn't stop quickly enough at a checkpoint. They didn't know about the brakes, or that his brother was almost blind.

Ali was then enraged when the Americans went to Ali's brothers house and interrogated his sister in law with no relatives present.

Then Ali heard about a relative who had been locked up and tortured in Al Ghraib and similar happenings. Ali was not feeling very secure either. There were rumors of Sunni's "getting even" with Shia people. Ali wondered if he had ever made any enemies who would come after him. If they did, the police would be no use, they were corrupt anyway, and as for the Americans - forget it!

After two years of depressing violence, Ali was desperate. His business was going nowhere. It was becoming dangerous to visit certain areas. He had bought an AK47 at great expense for home safety, but things were getting worse.

But then he met Omar at the local Mosque. The next week Omar appeared at his gas station and bought some fuel. Omar agreed with Ali that the situation was bad and blamed it all on the Americans, corrupt Iraqi politicians and the Sunnis. A week later Omar came to Ali's for a meal. Omar said that he knew someone who could help Ali keep his house and business safe.

The next week, after Friday prayers, Omar introduced Ali to Maki. Maki explained that he was part of a Shia militia and that he would be happy to keep a watchful eye on Ali's home and business, purely out of friendship and religious duty. Ali was relieved.

Things got a better for Ali. Maki and his friends bought their gas from him and violence in their suburb declined.

Then one day Maki asked a small favor in return. Would Ali mind ringing this phone number if he saw any Americans or security contractors? Of course Ali would.

Six months later Maki asked Ali if he would mind burying this package in the floor of his house? It was ammunition, Maki explained, and he might need it at any hour of the day or night. He was asked to bury it under something metal so that it could not be easily detected.

Six weeks later Maki rang Ali at six pm. Could he please dig up the package and bring it to a certain place where Maki's friends would meet him? The next day Ali heard an IED explosion had killed two Americans nearby. Maki told him that the IED was his package, congratulated him and thanked him for doing his patriotic and religious duty. Maki gave Ali three mortar rounds to hide.

As if in retaliation, American troops then conducted a "search and destroy" sweep through the neighbourhood, Ali was warned it was coming, but his wife and daughters were interrogated but said nothing. Others were not so lucky, a friends teenage son was shot while running away from his house.

Ali introduced the grieving friend to Omar.......


Multiply this by millions of Iraqis and you have your insurgency.

Gum chewing, sunglass wearing idiots in body armor with a "bad attitude" cannot defeat Ali and his ilk. They have to be won over, and our opportunities to do so have been squandered.


Against such "insurgents" all of "shock and awe", "net-centric networked warfare", "precision guided munitions", "surgical strikes" is just BS.

As for little forts scattered through Baghdad, this is not a good idea. It worked in Malaysia (fortified towns)because when the bad guys attacked them, the search and destroy that followed was through country where anyone was fair game.

I shudder to think what a "rapid reaction" force is going to do when one of these forts are under attack.

SubKommander Dred

28 January 2007
Charlottesville, Virginia

Sir;

Comrade Davis above said;
"Not to put too fine a point on it but Eisenhower did warn us about something like that. DoD is the true engine of our economy and DoE fuels that engine. Most of us pay a generous fare to ride this bus."

Yes, indeed, I think we have become Bozo's on this bus, if you know what I mean. In point of fact, I feel like I live in world where Bozo T. Clown is actually the president, With Sideshow Dick and Condi as cohosts/characters in a seriously whacked out children's TV show. I have this very nagging and uncomfortable feeling that GW Bush and The Neoconfederacy of Dunces take their governing style the Marx Brothers (my favorite flick being "Duck Soup" with Groucho as the President of Freedonia, whoe declares war on a rival country with a big song and dance musical number. Truly twisted in a way, don't you think?).
But alas, I digress.
Friends, as always, let me say it is a pleasure to participate in this forum. Colonel Lang, as always, I consider it pleasure to read your thoughtful analysis, insight and commentary on the state of affairs regarding our (allegedly) Democratic Republic. As for myself, I attended the Anti-War rally in DC this past Saturday, and though those of us who turned out who an enthusiastic lot, I am afraid there were far to few of us out there. By my reckoning (I have attended a number of protests in DC over the years, and have learned to gauge the size of the crowds at these gatherings with an accurate degree of certainty), there were only about 50,000 or so of us (Citizens a Democratic Republic, that is) that bothered to show up.
An accurate description of this event would be beyond the scope of this correspondence; suffice it to say, I walked about through the crowd ( a mix of Freaks, Geeks, Hipsters, Mod's, Punks, Hippies, Commies, Families, Kids, Oldsters, Vets, Queer, Black, Brown, other...) I randomly shouted out "Dick (Cheney) is a killer" and "Down with the Shah."
Though it was a very peaceful gathering (as usual with such things) I was, for a time, accosted by the Ann Coulter/Sean Hannity/Chickenhawk Chapter of the DC Young Republicans for Freedom, which consisted of some 8 or 10 some lads and lasses from the bowells some beer soaked Frat house basement, attempting to persuade us we were engaging in TREASONOUS ACTS that would AID AND COMFORT THE ENEMY! Naturally, I couldn't help but jeer them mercilously, getting in their respective faces wanting to know why, if they felt so strongly about this war, then why the hell weren't THEY in Iraq, in uniform and carrying a gun?
They could supply me with no suitable answer other than to state they were fighting the "War of Ideas" or some such tripe.
It made me want to puke.

Right then. Sorry for the off topic nature of my posting. Once again, I consider myself fortunate to have this valuable resource at my fingertips. I'm what you might call a "Sic Semper Tyrranis" junkie, and go online for my fix, so to speak, several times a day. Colonel, keep up the great work. You are a fine American.

Your most humble servant,
Subkommander Dred

FDR_Democrat

Excellent comment about how many of the supposedly "new" concepts and techniques of warfare as in fact as old as mankind itself. "Clear and hold" could just as easily have been used by English King Edward I, as he built a series of castles to conquer Wales in the twelfth century. I am sure there are earlier examples.

Shloky

Walrus - I think you're confusing the technology binge for 4GW.

walrus

Col. Lang,

I'm not sure if you have seen this, but it had me rolling on the floor laughing:

http://www.curevents.com/vb/showthread.php?t=68566

"The American Way Of War & how to never lean anything"

extract:

"(4) A misunderstanding of military reality helps. Besides, comprehension would only lead to depression. As Napoleon said, or may have, in war the moral is to the material as three is to one, which implies that unpleasant facts should be played down in favor of cultivating a cheerful attitude. Most especially, it should not be noted that a few tens of thousands of determined, probably genetically-stupid primitives with small arms can tie down a cheerful force however gaudily armed.

Pay no attention to tactics, which are boring. It should never enter your mind that in this sort of war, if you don't win, you lose; if the enemy doesn't lose, he wins. Think about something else. Above all, do not understand that the enemy's target is not you, but public opinion at home. You don't need to remember this, as the enemy will remember it for you."

anna missed

What Walrus said#28.

Generally, between 0.5% - 2% populations participate in (modern era) insurgent resistances (http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC05.php?CID=2362>link) This would put the Sunni insurgency at 27k - 108k participating (Abizaid put it at around 20k in 2004). The Mahdi Army is estimated between 60k - 70k active members, with 2% of Sadr City (pop. 2 million) being supportive its probably 200k more involved. The facilities Protection Service is estimated at around 150k. And then there are the other various and sundry militias, like the Virtue Party, Al-Queda, various other foreign fighters, and previously unknowns like the militia fighting in Najaf -- indicate that the total resistance numbers could easily be in the hundreds of thousands. Indeed, if the 0.5%-2% were applied to the whole poulation of Iraq the numbers could be as high as 550,000.

Which, if the ocean of resistance is really this big, could explain (all the incompetence aside) why everything the U.S. tries, fails to bring security, or why an unarmed western man would end up dead in 5 minutes on literally any street in Iraq (except Kurdistan).

Babak Makkinejad

Walrus:

I cannot imagine a Shia named "Omar". That's like a Catholic named "Judas".

walrus

Thank you Babak, I'm showing my ignorance yet again!

confusedponderer

I predicted that the argument "The Iraqis couldn't have possibly been so good without Iranian help." would be used. There we are, and it delivered to you by the NYT:

"Investigators say they believe that attackers who used American-style uniforms and weapons to infiltrate a secure compound and kill five American soldiers in Karbala on Jan. 20 may have been trained and financed by Iranian agents, according to American and Iraqi officials knowledgeable about the inquiry.

The officials said the sophistication of the attack astonished investigators, who doubt that Iraqis could have carried it out on their own — one reason a connection to Iran is being closely examined."

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/31/world/middleeast/31karbala.html?ex=1327899600&en=6a5099cca2648c7c&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss%3Cbr%20/%3E

Which first of all suggests a predisposition to think the Sunni Iraqis are incapable of such a stunt. Why? Because they're 'genetically stupid'? It suggests to me contempt for the enemy in Iraq, which I doubt is a healthy attitude.

And why necessarily Iran? The Iraqi Sunnis had time to reconnoitre, practice, gather intensive field experience, time to develop leaders under combat conditions, and are manned or led by members of Saddam's former from military and intelligence. Their insurgency has inflicted damage on US troops, and has survived US onslaughts for 3 years. They must be more than just capable to absorb a severe beating and regenerate. If they were not much more than practice targets for US firepower, the US wouldn't find itself in all the trouble they're in in places like the 'Sunni Triangle'.

Which will not prevent the argument from being made over and over again.

zanzibar

confusedponderer

I watched Michael Ware the CNN Baghdad correspondent on Anderson Cooper's show yesterday. I have seen his reports in the past and always seemed more reality-based than the rest of the corporate media.

What is interesting is that he said that the Iranians flooded southern Iraq with agents and Iraqi Shia exiles as the US forces were driving into Baghdad at the time of the invasion. This aligns with PLs comments that there are thousands of Iranian operatives in Iraq. These Iranian operatives are working with Shia militias as "advisors" and effectively enabled the Shia militias to occupy all the seats of power that the Baath party vacated in the south.

I infer from this that they could cause havoc to our supply lines out of Kuwait if the Decider attacks Iran.

Another point that Michael Ware mentioned is that the Decider's escalation is not going to do anything and that there is very little the US could do change facts on the ground in Iraq. He also said that Al Qaeda is very strong in the Anbar and Zarqawi played an important role in fomenting the current anarchy.

With respect to the sophisticated Karabla attack as you point out it could be anyone including Baathists or Iranians. Considering that the US military tried to paint a false story initially I doubt we will ever hear about who or what actually transpired as we now see with the Najaf story.

Bottom line Iraq is FUBAR! This from a guy who gets out of the green zone and who nearly was executed by Al Qaeda types controlling a section of Haifa St.

confusedponderer

Zanzibar,

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-01-30-iraq-iran_x.htm?csp=34

I read General Odierno babbling about 'Iran arming Iraqi militias', supplying Katyusha's to them. If Iran arms militias, then that means Shia militias, or militias close to them, namely SCIRI and the Badr corps - who are relatively close to the government.
Well, that's not who the US picked as their enemy of choice, Sadr.

I basically think that Iran will try to do two things: Have friendlies in Iraq just in case it becomes necessary to disrupt US supply lines, and second, IMO more important, to takle over quietly to ensure that a friendly government emerges and stays in Baghdad. Iran doesn't need to pick fights because their Shia partners are a majority and cooperate freely.
The Bushies are now trying to eliminiate the cultural and soft power leverage the Iranians have though using military force against them. It's the equivalent of switching from chess to checkers in mid-game, after beating your superior opponent in the face for daring to take your queen -- insisting that he plays on and loses, without resisting, or else.

And while it would be technically true, it would not not neccessarly pose a provocation, unless you still believe the US can and must have it their way. The Bush men would accuse the Iranians anyway, for good measure, be it only 'to keep up the heat' on them. Which makes it all but a welcome pretext.

Really funny it gets with this report:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070201/wl_nm/iran_usa_burns_dc

"We have picked up individuals who we believe are giving very sophisticated explosive technology to Shia insurgent groups who then use that technology to target and kill American soldiers,"

The headline suggests Iran shall stopp arming insurgents? I see there are three insurgencies in Iran - Shia, Sunni and AQ. From these Iran may be arming the Shias. Burns said Iran armes Shia insurgents.
But iirc still the bulk, some70% iirc, of anti-US attacks is mounted not by them, but by the Sunnis and AQ, which have become those which whom the term 'insurgents' is most commonly used, certainly do not receive US arms. The current expansive use of the word is simply spin. The headline already is misleading, and the article compounds this error by reiterating the babble of a profound idiot like Burns, basically uncommented. Bleh.

It's a concerted effort to blame Iran for everything that goes wrong in Iraq.

In the meanwhile air force hawks are getting all excited:

http://www.ynetnews.com/Ext/Comp/ArticleLayout/CdaArticlePrintPreview/1,2506,L-3359545,00.html

A new set of fixed targets! Hooray!

"Thomas G. McInerney, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who advocates military strikes in Iran, told the LA Times that US planes along the border could be better used to keep bomb-making materials out of Iraq.

"We know they are doing this. Why do we accept it?" McInerney was quoted by the Times as saying. "For every (improvised explosive device) that goes off in Iraq, a bomb should go off in Iran."

Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute, told the newspaper that many military targets in Iran were susceptible to Air Force weapons.

"Iran is precisely the type of enemy they know how to deal with," Thompson told the LA Times."

Right. Because IED can only be conceived in Iran, the Iraqis are just too stupid to build their own, every IED can only be blamed on Iran. Their AQ, Sunni and Shia stooges are just a cunning attempt to confuse the Americans. But if you know your enemy well, and Bush knows evil when he sees it, you look through this transparent ploy and identify the real culprit -- the Mad Mullahs of Teheran (tm).

zanzibar

confusedponderer

I'm sure you have read Juan Cole and others that the Karbala attack was carried out by "regime dead-enders". You had a point.

confusedponderer

Actually I did not read it. I was guessing.

I ought to read JC more often, if time allows.

Rob in NoVA

Does deployment of ADS (Active Denial System) into the perimeter of the Joint Security Stations environment allow them some level of force multiplier, or will the occupants of the JSSs eventually be mortared into displacing?

Oldpilot

'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.'

I haven't seen a Gallup poll on Bush lately but, two years down the line, it does seem that Petraeus was successful. How about that?

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