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07 January 2007

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zanzibar

Sgt. York, I doubt the "pacification" of Baghdad will follow the same script as Tal Afar but I speculate it would have many similar elements.

Maybe they only surround neighborhoods with the now "surged" forces and the Peshmerga and then follow up with the "clear" strategy of artillery and air campaign. The same result of rubble and casualties. Then use this as an example to get the "locals" to betray the militias/insurgents in other neighborhoods. I am afraid its going to be the Sunni neighborhoods that get this treatment with the active connivance of al-Maliki. When it gets time for Sadr City I am not sure what they plan unless they want to bring down Maliki's government and incite a more virulent Shia rebellion probably even incited by Sistani. Not sure where Hakim will hide in such a maelstrom.

Now that all these moves have been telegraphed to the Iraqis and its going to take several months for the "surged" forces to arrive in theater wonder what counter-measures the Sunni insurgents and the Mahdi plan to take?

dasher

vis-a-vis pl's continuing concern regarding the vulnerability of US supply lines, . . .
this commentator casts the McCain/Lieberman/Kagan/AEI "plan" as an admission of this increasing danger

Grimgrin

This piece reaises a few questions for me. First, how was Petraeus involved in the U.S. offensives in Tal Afar?

I was under the impression the 101st Airborne had left the area in 2004. When the U.S. assaulted Tal Afar in 2005, Petraeus was in charge of training the Iraqi army.

Second, where does Gen. Petraeus cite Tal Afar as a shining example of how to fight?

He may have done so elsewhere, but the quoted section reads more like a description of an event rather than a prescription for future action.

It also seems odd that Petraeus would have had anything to do with the 2005 operations Tal Afar. Everything else I've read, either in interviews he's given or in the COIN manual he wrote suggests he's an advocate of highly targeted, specific missions over massed sweeps and searches. That could just be him talking a good game though.

dasher

One does wonder at Mr. Cole's seeming determination to put a positve 'spin' on the whole current mess . . .

Will

Thank for the info S. York. I get confused easily enough on my own and the lack of quote marks added to it.

The way I understand it is that 1) Don Juan likes Petraeus and 2)correctly condemned the tactics used at Tel Afar (we destroyed the village to save it). And the point is being made that Cole's two viewpoints are mutually contradictory.

I read Cole differently. He is preferring Gates to Rummy. He prefers Petraeus to Sanchez.
from Juan I. Ricardo Cole's Informed Comment:

"I'm stricken with a case of the "what ifs" and "if onlys"! What if Gates had been at the Pentagon in 2003 and Petraeus had been in charge of the US military in Iraq and Crocker had been there instead of Paul Bremer? These are competent professionals who know what they are doing. Gates is clear-sighted enough to tell Congress that the US is not winning in Iraq, unlike his smooth-talking, arrogant and flighty predecessor. Petraeus is among the real experts on counter-insurgency, and did a fine job of making friends and mending fences when he was in charge of Mosul. Crocker has been ambassador to Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon and Pakistan, and knows the region intimately (as does Khalilzad). Bremer had been ambassador to . . . Holland. Despite all the talk of the resurgence of the Neoconservatives with their "surge" (actually ramped up occupation) plan, this team is the farthest from Neoconservative desires that you could possibly get.

I wish these seasoned professionals well. They know what they are getting into, and it is an index of their courage and dedication that they are willing to risk their lives in an effort that the American public has largely written off as a costly failure. If the US in Iraq can possibly have a soft landing, these are the individuals who can pull it off. It is a big if. "

Of course the Lewis Paul Bremer was given instructions by Doug Feith who was controlled by Irving Lewis Libby- Pumphead's brain.

SubKommander Dred

Charlottesville, Virginia
7 January 2007

Sir;
Will this madness ever end?

DeLudendwarf

A fortified area, surrounded by levees.

Hell of a plan, Pet!

sbj

Regarding Tal Afar, I'd be interested to learn what the situation is there now and what the prognosis is for that town's near future.

John

SGT York’s comments are on target. By Petraeus’ admission the doctrine was merely updated with contemporary vignettes – not rewritten. The flaw of this doctrinal version, and its predecessor, both virtually IGNORED the American insurgency (as do most revolutionary war historians). Insurgency is neither good nor bad, it is merely a form on the continuum of warfare. Legitimate reasons may exist for an insurgency, such as protecting or defending a constitution, or to counter an illegitimate and corrupt government. To highlight that insurgency is neither good nor bad one turns to Thomas Jefferson’s admonition that our revolution ought be refreshed in blood every generation or so.
Insurgents resist with available means. As the Algerians told the French, they would be happy to give the French Algerian womens’ baskets in which in which Algerians hid weapons if the French would give the Algerians French jets. We are quick to realize that Mao’s army was not solely responsible for winning, but rather the mobilization of the peasants and their resistance was significant in a total response; yet we ignore the affect of a thousand cuts of the American colonists resistance to British sheriffs, tax collectors, magistrates, and governors – all outside the scope of formal Lobsterback verses colonialist army / militia clashes.
Officers like Odierno, who exploit firepower, didn’t read or practice the former doctrine and likely won’t read (or likely practice) the new.

W. Patrick Lang

York

How about a revised version with quotes and citations? pl

Minnesotachuck

I just finished reading Tom Ricks' Fiasco less than a week ago, and sent it back to the library. But IIRC, when the 3ACR took on Tal Afar the unit was under the command of Col. H. R. McMaster, an officer supposedly well-regarded for his counter-insurgency expertise. Ricks regarded it as one of the few relatively successful operations over there. Can anyone else here confirm whether or not this info is the case?

Human

The is a big difference in "securing" Tal Afar as contrasted to Baghdad.

Tal Afar is a border town easily cut off from the outside.
Much smaller too.
Also as I remember the reports then, the neighboring tribes were quite helpful.Being on the border, the tribes have been smugglers for generations. I'm sure the price was right.

Not many people left to bribe in and arouund Bahgdad. The lines have been quite thickly drawn. In blood.It's just one big hell hole.

Peace.

Got A Watch

Today Mr. Maliki stated that the new operation would feature Iraqi troops in the lead with "support" from American forces. The Iraqi's would concentrate on the "inner" areas of Baghdad, while the USA would tackle the "outer". Or words to that effect were reported. I take this to mean the Iraqi's will "pacify" Shiite areas, and the USA will deal with the Sunnis, to try to avoid "death squad" action.

The composition of Iraqi forces then becomes critical - rumors abound it may be mostly Kurdish and units from deep southern Iraq (Shiite - Basra?). Guess the Iraqi Gov. doesn't trust their own Shiite troops for real security missions, and who can blame them? And the reliablity of troops from southern Iraq is highly questionable, just look at the problems in Basra now - most would probably desert rather than be sent to "pacify" Baghdad. If their commanders could only round up all those "ghost" troops and relatives on the payroll for some actual combat.

The Kurds are already reported to be providing a brigade (not sure how many Peshmerga this would be - 3-5,000?) to secure the government in Baghdad. So it seems unlikely the Kurds will provide many thousands more men to secure Baghdad for the Shiites, leaving Kurdistan under-defended. America will have to guarantee them the Turks don't make a move.

If the Shiites are going to take the lead in Sadr City, it could be one large "nudge,nudge,wink,wink" and the Mahdi Army, the reputed target, could lay low and avoid getting hit. I don't see any mention of SCIRI/Badr/Dawa having to disarm, they are all OK, it's just those pesky Sadrists that are the problem. If push comes to shove, the Mahdi Army seem to have the numbers, the other Shiites might just lose unless America backs them up with firepower.

The real fighting will probably be in Sunni neghborhoods, and this is where American troops will have to unleash some armament. I don't see the Sunni's letting Kurds or Shiites police their streets, being well aware of who the death squads are.

My prediction - the smart insurgents on all sides will hide their weapons and wait it out, this "surge" won't last forever. This state will last until the wrong troops are sent to the wrong area, and then local militias will have to defend their homes. That's when the urban warfare will really break out, which will probably force Bush to order airtrikes or artillery barrages or "clear and hold the rubble" operations to try to subdue warring factions. If the Shiites get hit too hard, sympathetic militias in the south may try to block supply convoys, as we have discussed before. But if the Shiite bloc splits, the government falls, and Moqtada may well win the next election.

With the media coverage and the lag time, as noted above, this is a punch telegraphed well in advance. I'm sure the insurgents will put their time to good use getting ready.

With the shining examples of Fallujah, Tal-Afar and Ramadi to learn from, it's all going to be painless, I'm sure. The mind reels.

anon

If this blog has expertise and interest in the topic, would like to hear tthoughts on the story that US backed law will be adopted in Iraq giving very generous deal to US oil companies. Not sure this geopolitico-military strategic resource war and supply line security stuff is your area, but seems like you would have thought about it from time to time, judging from your bio.
see:
http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/011826.php

johnf

>"Now that all these moves have been telegraphed to the Iraqis and its going to take several months for the "surged" forces to arrive in theater wonder what counter-measures the Sunni insurgents and the Mahdi plan to take?"

From this recent description of fighting in Samoudi, it looks as though they've gone straight to the Hizbullah Handbook:


"...As dusk fell Saturday, an urgent message came in over a crackling radio: A blast, apparently an antitank mine, had ripped through one of the vehicles in the Iraqi convoy. Flames shot out of the stricken Humvee and ignited ammunition, sending rounds streaking into the sky. One Iraqi was killed in the blast and three were injured.

Along another stretch of road, two mines exploded Saturday less than 15 yards apart, injuring five American soldiers.

This morning as U.S. and Iraqi troops started to pull out, two more antitank mines tore through two Iraqi troop carriers one after another, injuring at least 21 soldiers, five seriously.

Antitank mines have become one of the top threats as U.S. and Iraqi forces press their assault in a Sunni insurgent redoubt said to be riddled with weapons caches, secret tunnels and training ranges. Their convoys have hit at least 10 explosive devices since the operation was launched early Thursday, most of them antitank mines...

...The devices first were used in the area in November, when U.S. forces faced off against fighters maneuvering through the irrigation canals that lace the region..."


http://fairuse.100webcustomers.com/fairenough/latimes713.html

With all this discussion of irrigation canals and levees, perhaps its time to dust off some Xenophon.

jamzo

which is the better prism through which to analyze emerging "the surge" strategy?

gw bush's character (george bush's persoality)

domestic politics (what the people want)

clash of cultures

geo politics

Geopolitics is the study that analyzes geography, history and social science with reference to international politics. It examines the political and strategic significance of geography, where geography is defined in terms of the location, size, and resources of places

middle east - iraq - oil

jan 6 2007

http://news.independent.co.uk/business/news/article2132467.ece

The Independent today reveals a draft for a new law that would give Western oil companies a massive share in the third largest reserves in the world. To the victors, the oil? That is how some experts view this unprecedented arrangement with a major Middle East oil producer that guarantees investors huge profits for the next 30 years


from
http://www.kurdmedia.com/news.asp?id=13749
"This is the conflict you have," said Mohammed Zine, regional manager of Middle East for the energy analyst IHS.

He said now Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is facing heat to end violence in Iraq and is in turn resting "big pressure on the government and Oil Minister" to deliver an oil law to the Parliament.

He said he doesn't think this will happen by the end of the year, though there is no telling on daily events in Iraq.

"I don't see what the rush is. Even if you sign a contract there is still big problems with security."

A final oil law will have three main results: settle internal disputes over control of and revenues from oil; lay a groundwork for the estimated $20 billion of investments needed after years of neglect and mismanagement under Saddam Hussein, the toll of U.N. sanctions, the U.S.-led war and ongoing attacks by Sunni and Shiite militias; and both will lead to increased income that can be put toward other reconstruction and upgrade security in the country.

News reports over the weekend claimed a deal on the oil law was close, though Talabany explained each glossed over major remaining issues.

He said while the Kurds have compromised on oil revenue sharing and allowing the central government to be responsible for this collecting and redistributing it, "the mechanisms for distribution of revenues have not been agreed upon yet."

He said oversight, technical and constitutional details "to ensure regions get their share of revenues" have not been finalized. This comes from the fear a central government, be it fueled by greed or a sectarian agenda, will not deliver on the money a region may be due.





Got A Watch

Juan Cole has confirmed my fears this morning:
"Sunni's are criticizing the plan because it concentrates on Sunni West Baghdad and exempts Shiite Sadr City in the east. Members of parliament warned that this lack of even-handedness would exacerbate civil conflict rather than ending it. Kurdish politician Mahmud Osman objected to the planned use of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters who are in Iraqi army units, saying he worried that it might provoke fighting between Arabs and Kurds. He admitted that the plan had been approved by President Jalal Talabani and the leader of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Masoud Barzani. Three Iraqi army brigades are expected to head down from northern Iraq to the capital, two of them Kurdish. MP al-Faluji also said that the use of the Peshmerga should be presented to parliament for its approval...At the same time, the Mahdi Army in Sadr City has begun a conscription drive to expand its ranks. Every family with a male between the ages of 15 and 45 is being forced to relinquish him to the militia."

This isn't boding well for the success of the GWB plan - probably because Kagan/Kristol et al couldn't plan their way out of a wet paper bag. I say we send the neo-cons to Sadr City, give them small arms and tell them to "subdue" it. Good luck.

taters

Dear Col. Lang,
I recall reading a thread of yours on Tal Afar, in regards to McMaster. I believe it was entitled the "Brave Rifles of Tal Afar" - it was a well done piece.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/insurgency/interviews/mcmaster.html

arbogast

This is the true context for "surges", "democracy", "investment", etc.

http://www.monthlyreview.org/0107tabb.htm

Standard, vanilla colonial war for resources.

The, once great, United States impoverishes itself fighting a hopeless "war" in Iraq, drugging its citizens with easy money, which easy money is given to the Chinese who proceed to buy most of the natural resources in the world.

And you know what it is all based on?

George Bush and Dick Cheney's sociopathology?

Nope. It's based on the insular, fat, ignorant American public who, in general, don't know a Sunni from a sun-dried tomato.

Americans are going to, and are getting what they deserve. Too isolated for too long. So long U. S. of A.

And it's a pity, because, as an example, American medical science is the best in the world. But who cares?

Chris Marlowe

How many more Iraqis will join the insurgency with the proposed passing of this new law re Iraq's oil, something which all Iraqis consider to be a national resource and asset? Why even discuss this now; there is no way this law would even have a ghost's chance of enforcement once the occupation forces depart Iraq. This so-called Iraqi parliament's authority extends to all of the Green Zone; they are going to pass a law re Iraq's oil exports? Give me a break!

What are these Washington and Baghdad Green Zone genius policymakers THINKING? Or have they all become lobbyists, paid to justify anything for their clients?

Pacifying Mosul and Tal Afar is vastly different from pacifying Baghdad. Using Kurds is sheer genius; up till now it has been mainly Sunnis/Shi'ites killing each other. No reason why the Kurds should be left out...

Can anyone name one single instance where an outside invasion and occupation force fighting a conventional war, has been able to defeat a locally-supported guerilla insurgency without a reliable local political partner which does not have its own national army, instead relying on partisan militias?

I would like to hear of just one instance. If there is one, then maybe this escalation would at least have a small chance of success.

confusedponderer

Johnf,
I read the article too, and don't think it's about Hezbollah.

http://fairuse.100webcustomers.com/fairenough/latimes709.html

"Diyala has become a sectarian killing ground, with the number of attacks on civilians more than doubling since February. A resource-rich province with a population divided among Iraq's major ethnic and religious groups, Diyala is home to at least 50,000 former officers of the Iraqi military and has become a staging ground for Sunni Arab insurgent attacks in Baqubah, the provincial capital, and Baghdad."

Which brings me to the point: The Iraqis have been pretty good at light infantry operations, at least that's the conclusion the Marines came to when assessing the Iran-Iraq war. Admittedly, the report is old, but I think that Iraqis, too, have a collective memory.

http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/ops/war/docs/3203/

The IMO most relevant part of the report:
"Light Infantry.
The most prominent lesson about light infantry was that, in the proper geographical/topographical situations, it can deal handily with armored forces unsupported by covering/accompanying infantry. Many of the Iraqi Army’s most embarrassing moments resulted from attempts to crush Iranian infantry with pure tank attacks. In the dry, open areas, tanks and a few accompanying APCS did an admirable job of slaughtering Iranian light infantry, but in the marshes, along the causeways, and in the cities, Iranian infantry, armed principally with RPGs, inflicted terrible losses upon Iraqi armor and several times stopped it cold.
(...)
In any event, when the situation was right, light infantry showed itself able to deal with armor, but the ability to frustrate the infantry was easily available, and one is driven to conclude that light infantry forces are of very limited utility against a well-trained combined arms team. This is a very old lesson, but one we are reluctant to learn.

Another aspect of light infantry, for which little information is available, bears deeper examination. The Iraqi Army made widespread use of “commando” and “special forces.” Exactly what their function was is unclear. At the higher headquarters, the function of the commando units seems to have been raiding and deep penetration patrols...
Late in the war, large numbers of additional special forces units were formed, which may have reflected a number of demands. (...) It has been reported that the Iraqis were very good at executing deep penetration reconnaissance and strike missions, which they performed with a high level of professionalism...

Summary.
We have derived the following lessons from the war:

(...)
Operational.
-The Iraqis are formidable in the defense. They are trained and experienced in the conduct of both positional and mobile defense.
(...)
They are detailed planners, but are not inflexible. They are excellent problem solvers and will work diligently at solutions even making strategic adaptations if required ...

Tactical.
(...)
Deception operations are normal.
(...)
-A mobile defense can be expected unless time permits development of a deep fortified zone.
-Conduct of the defense will involve attempts to lure attackers into fire traps and killing zones..."

What you see here is simply good military tradecraft. Mining streets with anti tank mines sounds very military to me, it's by the book anti tank warefare.

The Iraqis have enough war experience of their own to not need Hezbollah as a role model. I think the Sunni resistance is primarily building on the experiences they made in the Iran-Iraq war.

JF Meyer

Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends. -- Isabel Paterson (1886–1961)

Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.--Sir Winston Churchill


Chris Marlowe

James Fallows (Atlantic Monthly) had this commentary for Petraeus:

http://jamesfallows.com/test/2007/01/07/you-can-say-this-for-david-petraeus/

walrus

All this talk about using Iraqi "Out of Town" troops reminds me of the old communist tactic. You can tell the "out of towners" anything you like about who they are fighting because they don't know any better.

I also believe that the militias are rational human beings who will have planned a defence in depth, complete with mines and IED's.

Our response will naturally be to pulverise whole neighbourhoods and kill anything that tries to escape. This is not going to be pretty. It's not going to be effective either.

Will

from the jamesfellows article refrenced above

"Conceivably 20,000 U.S. troops could make things look better around Baghdad for a brief enough time to let the Administration declare “success” and turn things over to the Iraqis. Conceivably. But not probably; if anything, it’s more likely that more troops will mean more targets for IEDs, more large-scale urban combat (with all that does to win “hearts and minds”), and an even higher-stakes disaster. The former Special Forces officer W. Patrick Lang and the former Pentagon budget analyst/ revolutionary-for-truth Franklin “Chuck” Spinney have each recently made this point, in two separate posts both called “Stalingrad on the Tigris.” (Spinney’s here; Lang’s, here.) "

calling Lang a Special Forces Officer is technically accurate but rather under-descriptive. It's like describing John Abizaid as a Ranger. Lang's specialty is HUMINT and served as a high ranking official of DIA who supervised all the military attaches worldwide. He sorted the wheat from the chaff and directly briefed No. 41, or that is my understanding.

I think I know why Dr. Juan Cole has a a positive spin for Dr. David H. Petraeus, Phd.- collegiate respect, academe.

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