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24 March 2007


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I have to agree with you Col. Lang.

What concerns me is the distinct possibility of an attack on a blockhouse followed by a series of IED ambushes on the rapid reaction force we no doubt have ready to deal with such attacks.

My guess would be that following such a "successful" (from the insurgents point of view) attack, our strategy will revert to destroying entire nieghbourhoods and killing any men of military age that we find - like Fallujah.

Cloned Poster

Well when a katushya make shit stains in the UN's General Secretary's pants and the Sunni's VP gets targeted by a suicide bomber, it looks like surge is SFA against who?

SubKommander Dred

Charlottesville, Virginia
24 March 2007

I caught you on CNN this evening, and was a bit dissapointed regarding the brevity of your contribution. Teevee news being what it is, I suppose I shouldn't be at all surprised, the sale of dish soap and SUV's being the primary motivator for what passes for broadcast journalism these days. In either case, I wanted to mention that your attire (Black suit, black shirt, contrasting tie) seemed more suitable for the consigliere of the Massucci crime family (or perhaps, Hit Man) than a seasoned veteran of this country's cold and hot wars. Just a thought I wanted to pass along.

Your most humble servant,
Subkommander Dred

Tim Ryder

Colonel, I think that soon on some dark and stormy night when the helicopter gunships are ineffective, a couple of the smaller platoon sized outposts will be attacked in force. The relief columns will be ambushed and we will have a minor military disaster. The surge will then be over.


Colonel, regarding the Iraq war spending bill & withdrawal dates attachment passed by the Democrat-controlled House yesterday -- having poured over a lot of political analysis I guess I'm in a minority position, being very disappointed that the Dems continued to fund the war instead of using the power of the purse to stop it.

The reasoning of the pundits is that this is the beginning of the end of the war, and the Dems acted responsibly, and their September 2008 withdrawal date was a valuable contribution to the antiwar effort.

But I am finding it hard to believe that the situation in Iraq will wait upon US political pragmatism.

Do you think the chances are good that the US will be able to make an orderly withdrawal from Iraq beginning in April and ending in Sept. 2008, as per the spending bill attachment?

Charlie Green

This outcome was forecast when the "surge" began. The Sadrists faded away to allow the US troops to kick some Sunni ass. When the US troops end their efforts, they are expected to reappear. Needless to say, the Sunnis don't appreciate this tactic and will be waiting for payback time against the "cowardly and unpatriotic" Shia.


I watched a TV report (can't remember on which station) that showed the building of one of these "small" command posts. In order to build it, the Americans needed to raze 45 buildings after evicting the occupants. First, this doesn't sound (nor look) like a "small" command post...and second, I can't see how doing this is going to win over a hostile population. Quite the contrary.


The omens do not look very good.

I've been keeping an eye out on the news stories since the "surge" was deemed the new tactic and have noticed bombings continue unabated even with the Mahdi in a stand down position. Our position in Iraq just does not make any sense. Our military is focused on "taming" the Sunni insurgents who are financed by the Saudis - the Decider's best pals, only to enhance the position of the Shia parties who owe their allegiance to Tehran.

Now, we have racheted up the sanctions against Iran, got Russia to read the Iranians the "riot-act" regarding the Bushehr plant and the Iranians have captured some Brits supposedly patrolling the Shatt-al-Arab. How long before this escalates into a shooting match? After all the Decider and Darth need a way out of keeping the Dems from investigating their shenanigans from being given all this press even in the Decider-friendly corporate media.

James Pratt

I expect any Iraqi who has knowledge of American 'force protection'and the means will try to move out of Baghdad ASAP to avoid the response when those small forts are hit with mortars and katyushas. It would be nice to know the monthly turnover rate of the Iraqi complement of those forts,it will certainly give the US garrison troops an opportunity to meet nervous Iraqi men, if only for a short time per Iraqi. After the Baghdadis have experienced the road-clearing by gunfire used by convoy vanguards and the killing of snipers by leveling entire city blocks from the air it is very optimistic to believe those forts will be tolerated.
The Green Zone rocketing is an obvious inside job, proving that the Iraqi GZ government is talking to the insurgency every day, even if they don't know it at the time.


When one reads this:

Crack U.S. Marine Unit Recalled After Afghan Deaths

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An elite U.S. Marine Corp unit accused of killing at least 10 Afghan civilians has been called home early after commanders decided they could no longer operate effectively, a spokesman said on Saturday.

The order to remove the 120-member unit came from Maj. General Francis Kearney, who commands U.S. Special Operations forces in the Middle East and central Asia, after local anger over the March 4 fighting hampered their mission.

``General Kearney assessed that the relationship was damaged to the point that the unit could not as effectively conduct counterinsurgency operations, so he moved them out,'' said spokesman Lt. Col. Lou Leto.

Afghan officials say U.S. Marines shot dead at least 10 people during fighting outside Jalalabad, a city in eastern Afghanistan near Pakistan. New York-based Human Rights Watch says between eight and 16 civilians were killed.

Hundreds protested against the U.S. military after the violence and President Hamid Karzai condemned the incident.

The U.S. military at the time cited a ``complex'' Taliban ambush involving a suicide car bombing and gunfire in a populated area.

The military said the Marines, members of a highly trained special operations force, fired in self-defense and that 16 civilians died in the suicide raid and subsequent fighting. The group was several months into a six-month deployment.

The U.S. military has since opened an investigation into the deaths. Leto said that an investigating officer had visited the area to interview local people.

No provincial or central Afghan government official has confirmed the U.S. military's account that the convoy came under rebel attack.

One would have to be certifiably insane to advocate a continued military presence in Iraq. Not Afghanistan, Iraq.

These were crack Marine troops? Leaving aside how to judge that proposition, we are left with the impotence of the gun.

If you want someone to agree with you or work with you, you can kill them. I admit that.

But they are of absolutely no use to you once they are dead.

We don't know who the "enemy" is. That's the problem. In that environment, guns don't make sense.

Clifford Kiracofe

For the sake of discussion does anyone have a sense of against just whom the Neocon (Frederick Kagan of AEI) Surge is aimed? What is the composition of "the enemy"? What sort of "insurgent" numbers are we looking at? What is the level of foreign "guerillas", al-Qaeda or otherwise, as opposed to Iraqi (resistance) insurgents [Cordesman estimated last year around 3-5000 foreigners I think it was]? Do locals support the foreigners?

The pool from which to recruit Sunni BadGuyz is not small, it is in the hundreds of thousands: ex-Baathists, ex-military, ex-police, ex-security services types, common criminals, etal. Just a very small percentage of such folks deciding to "do something" against the US creates a large insurgent force, and associated support base, one would think.

So, is the present force including The Surge "enough" to do "the job?" Also, there has been a massive flight from Iraq of the middle class who, presumably (?), would be the most likely to support the US.

Conversely, if withdrawal is inevitable, then how is force protection/operational security going to be implemented effectively without a regional political-diplomatic arrangement of some kind that includes Syria and Iran for a "safe passage" for the withdrawal (retreat).

Of course now that we have reached this stage in an unnceccary war we were betrayed into, Iraqi Neocon groupie and media darling Kanan Makiya has second thoughts:
Appropriately, he teaches at Brandeis.

anna missed


I once calculated that every month 9,000 Sunni arab males (in Iraq) reach military age per month. Over the last 4 years that would mean close to one half million young men arrive at maturity in a climate of political chaos, 50% unemployment, the threat of ethnic genocide, and a steady stream of funds from neighboring countries in support of the insurgency. Go figure, the peer pressure alone.....


the "html" i missing off the kiracofe Guardian link.

Mikaya is also featured in a NYT interview. the guy is the author of the "Republic of Fear."

Babak Makkinejad

Kanan Makkiyah is a sad figure. He and his first wife, an Iranian, subscribed to the socialist utopian ideals of Europe with all that such ideas entailed. Later, he put his hope in the transforming power of US and her military forces.

Like Stalin, Ataturk, the Shah of Iran, and Saddam Hussein, Makkiyah sought a Revolution from Above that could cut through the Gordian Knot tied by History in Iraq - like many other such polities.

All these attempts at historical short-cuts, in my judgement, are doomed to failure. The most successful one was that of USSR and we all know what happened there.

There are no short-cuts available; just a long hard slog through decades of work - if not centuries.

Clifford Kiracofe

AM: Thanks for the real world insight, very interesting.
Will: it is in today's Guardian by Peter Beaumont, and summarizes and comments on NYT.
All: Martin Sieff has a most interesting review of Neocon Max Boot's new book at:
Says Sieff: "War Made New is significant in that it appears to represent an attempt by a prominent neoconservative to reclaim his and his friends’ reputations for expertise on modern war that were so damaged by their repeated and documented incompetence in crafting U.S. policy and dominating public discourse on the Iraq War—not to mention the unfolding fiasco in Afghanistan. The enthusiastic recommendation of Sen. McCain, an acknowledged war hero and the clear Republican frontrunner for the 2008 presidential nomination, confirms that this bogus rehabilitation remains a very real possibility. The book is therefore of significance as a political and propaganda ploy. But as serious military history or any kind of useful guide to U.S. policymaking, it is simply farcical. "
An old colleague of mine in the US Senate nicknamed McCain, "The Manchurian Candidate" which captures the persona I encountered.
Per Boot:
I think he was a Russian or (Soviet era?) national before emigrating to the US.


74 dead is just the "seventh deadliest day since U.S. and Iraqi forces launched the security operation on Feb. 14"?

What was all th coverage I saw about Petraeus's plan working last week?

Clifford Kiracofe

Babak: Indeed. Magna Carta was in the year 1215; Virginia began to be settled permanently in 1607 (we celebrate the 400th anniversary this year); the United States as a constitutional republic emerged in 1789.

Neocons do not operate from an American mindset so their policies do not reflect traditional American values. Various analysts offer different explanations of the Neocon mindset: Zionist, Jacobin, Trotskyist, Fabian, Straussian, Nietzschean, all of these in a salad, etc. Makiya is just another delusional "intellectual" of this type like Neocon "defense intellectuals" Max Boot, Richard Perle, and Elliott Cohen (now Counsellor at the State Department).


I would like to address a question to Colonel Lang.

How good is Iranian intelligence?

We hear a great deal about the CIA and Mossad.

But what about the Iranians?

Isn't it possible that their intelligence is very good indeed?

Peter Principle

Col. Lang: "There is every reason to think that the insurgents will try to expand their offensive activities to include the many little posts that we are building all over Baghdad."

Sometimes I think the Army really is determined to refight the Vietnam War in Iraq -- not our war, but the French one.

"Even larger posts, such as those facing the Chinese frontier, were usually more of a liability than an asset. Typically held by a company or two of bored, jungle-happy European or North African infantry . . . they were usually able to defend themselves against all but the most determined assaults; but their control of the surrounding countryside was illusory. It took a major effort simply to keep open the roads upon which they dependeded for their supplies."

Martin Windrow
The French Indochina War 1946-54

So far, what Petraeus
is doing with his troops seems to fit that description a hell of a lot more than it does Krulak's civil action teams.

It's not that blockhouses can't work -- the Egyptians used them quite effectively, also in an urban environment, along the upper Nile during the 1990s. But plunking a couple of platoons of GIs down in the middle of a Baghdad slum, with Iraqi forces of very dubious loyalty to keep them company, sounds less like an exercise in creating "oil spots" than a recipe for setting them on fire.

It also seems to me the Ft. Apache strategy could quickly turn into a REAL loser if (when?)the cold war with Iran turns hot.

John Howley

The website Iraq Coalition Casualty Count reports average daily deaths of Coalition soldiers by month since the invasion began.

Excluding 2003, March and February of each year have had the lowest rates of the year. Some unexplained seasonal factor at work.

2007 marks a clear break from this pattern. Feb 2007 was well above the previous February and March looks to do the same.

Since Sept 2006, the rate has stayed at 2.5 - 3+ per day.

This does not bode well.


Here's an Omen.

Last night, a 3.30 am CBS 1/2 hour tv news roundup reported that the usual suspects have just announced that Iranian forces were in combat against combined Iraq/US forces on smuggler patrol somewhere in the south on the border last May.

Then a FEW details about how an Iranian border force of unknown size and character just up and attacked the joint patrol on the Iraq side of the border. Minimal if any casualties all around. No real attribution. No explanation why this pearl was doled out now.

But the news is clear: Iranian Forces in combat
against US/Iraq.

John in LA

Things may well appear "better" for the duration of the "surge". Certainly, that was the very successful tactic during the original invasion: let the Americans walk in unopposed, and then, when they're settled, complacent and smug....shred them.

This "surge" could last a year, two, five....and when the Americans go home to their day jobs, the Iraqis will still be there.

The new Shia government is going to face enduring, constant harassment from the Sunnis.

As in the 80s, Iraq is going to be a cockpit in which the Saudis and Iranis play their regional power games.

Several unkind AIPAC types back then used to smugly speak about the wonders of the Iraq-Iran war -- that it was slaughtering both sides. That inhuman response, I'm afraid, will oft be heard over the next years.

We must keep remembering: the real war hasn't begun yet. The real war is when Turkey invades Kurdistan, when Iran sends in divisions to defend the legitemately elected (Shia) government of Iraq. The real war is when the Sunnis spill into Syria and Jordan, overthrow the Shia dictator and the British-accented "King" and declare a Jihadi government allied to Hamas.

The real war is just over the horizon, I'm afraid.



a previous post had mentioned the case of Col. Ted Westhusing


provides this link

"I am Sullied-No More
Faced with the Iraq war's corruption, Col. Ted Westhusing chose death before dishonor"



anna missed:

Let's accept your figure that 9,000 Sunni arab males in Iraq reach military age every month. However, I'm not sure that you make the implied case that close to half a million men have been added to the cohort of those of military age (however defined) over the past 4 years.

You see, to a first order approximation, for every one entering that cohort another one automatically leaves it through his advancing years, thus keeping the size of the cohort roughly constant.

Obviously, the real-world situation is a bit more complex. Assuming a 1% per year population growth rate, these additions to the cohort would tend to slowly increase its size. But, on the other hand, deaths in this vulnerable cohort age range would tend to reduce its size. Consequently, if the death rate amongst the cohort were greater than 1% p.a. the size of the cohort would actually be reduced.

My tentative conclusion is that there is probably not an increasingly large group of angry young men, unless the number of available jobs is steadily declining.


So, now Iran has 15 British hostages.

Now, we are going to see impotence in action.

Please recall the "war" in South Lebanon started over hostage taking.

I will eat the hat of everyone commenting on this blog, if this is not an intentional plan by the Iranians to provoke military action by the US and Britain.

They want us to strike. They want the US and Britain to feel the same impotence that Israel felt in Lebanon. And suffer the same defeat in the Arab street.

"You can dish it out, but you're getting
so you can't take it no more. You're through."

Edward G. Robinson

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