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15 April 2007

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Don Schmeling

Col.,

When I saw the location of the two bridges on a map from Iraq slogger, I too thought this could be bad. They are both bridges that connect to the edges of the green zone.

Isn't it to the insurgents advantage to slow down the road movements of the American Army and all the private contractors that live in the green zone?
With bridges down, will they have an easier time lobbing motors into the zone?
Will the private contractors have a harder time with backup of their convoys?
Or are these two bridges usually not used by Americans?

The other thing that caught my attention, but hasn't made much news is this Idea of a War Czar. In WW2, Pres. Roosevelt and Generals McArthur, and Eisenhower worked as a team. Shouldn't that be what is happening now?

Sincerely,
D.S.

Charles

Huh, sounds like a reverso-quadrillage op. Blow up little points of insecurity with a view to reducing the security potential of the of the other "surged" bits.

And here's the view of the surge from the hinterland, by the Governor of Karbala, taken from McClatchy, quoted over at Juan Cole today after the latest slaughter:

Squeeze in one place, and the balloon expands elsewhere. Good luck to Gen Petraeus and his newly extended troops, but surely he's a couple-three hundred thousand short. So the "surge" really is as or more temporal than numerical, and the effects likely as fleeting as time.

Just last month, it was trumpeted that the U.S. was "increasing" its troop strength in Afghanistan by 3,000. Hallelujah, more cavalry on the way! Well, no. The poor saps already there and due to go home, just wouldn't be allowed to go home. Presto! an "increase". Its really helping - we lost 8 Canadian soldiers last weekend in 48 hours, although I must acknowledge that the "extra " U.S. troops are under separate U.S. command down by the border on their Snark hunt, or whatever the hell they're doing down there, as opposed to being part of the NATO mission in chief.

And experts, please: now that forces are being concentrated in Baghdad, what are the military implications of all the bridges being dropped?

For local reaction to the bombing of the Sarafiya bridge, please go here for photos:
<http://healingiraq.blogspot.com/>

And please read blogger Iraqi Confused Kid's visceral reaction here:

http://ejectiraqikkk.blogspot.com/2007/04/sarafiya-bridge.html

arbogast

It is crystal clear that we are blind in Baghdad. No intelligence.

We don't know where they are, what they're doing, or who they are.

And the amount of planning and intelligence they display is impressive.

I think, based on my total ignorance, that the goal today must be to preserve our army to fight another day.

I say the reason to withdraw is to permit our army to recover from this ordeal.

Purely selfish. Purely tactical.

blowback

I suspect that a truck loaded with several thousand pounds of ANFO would take down a bridge, it may not be elegant but it would be effective.
Read Mike Davis' articles The Poor Man's Air Force and Car Bombs with Wings for more details.

walrus

Ahhh yes! I still remember getting my ten pound ticket on the demolition range all those years ago - and I wasn't even officially on the course, just tagged along on a beautiful day. TNT to "lift and separate", C4 to cut.

We broke windows in the married quarters with our ammonium nitrate "cratering" charge, and I can still remember the headache from handling C4 without gloves.

Whoops, but back on topic, Like you Col. Lang, I'm surprised a "truck bomb" blew that bridge. If a truck bomb did it I would have thought there would be hundreds dead and massive collateral damage to the surrounding buildings.

It looks, in the one photo I've seen, that someone has expertly "dropped" the centre span by cutting out the pivot points.

On a totally unrelated note (actually perhaps not), I'm concerned about the apparent size of some of the "demonstrations" lately, especially the one at Karbala. If, say, a 100,000 person "demonstration" was held in Baghdad and the crowd was handled 'just right", they might decide to take over the Green Zone and I don't believe a group that big could be stopped. I've seen a demonstration get out of hand when manipulators hijacked it once before and it wasn't pretty, so I'm sort of wondering if blowing the bridges is perhaps a form of "crowd control"?

W. Patrick Lang

blowback

I am inclined to believe that the supporting members were cut rather atfully in order to drop the bridge that way. pl

fasteddiez

Mr. Schmeling,

FDR's conduct of the American participation in WWII was conducted through Gen. George Marshall (same of the Marshall Plan), to the two field commanders you cite. This man was not known for Hemming and Hawing nor biting his tongue if he thought FDR was making a mistake. His advice was not always taken, but his opinion was always proffered.

Today, Marshall's equivalents have been a long line of cretinous sycophantic bootlicks, more focused on their post military prospects and avoidance of all controversies that displease the leadership; Lakeitels, all!

Clifford Kiracofe

Initial reaction from US State Dept official (former Army civil affairs) on site per Sarafiyah Bridge:

"Mr. Bisbee: I spent most of (Thursday) responding to the bombing of the Sarafiyah bridge — many of the Iraqis that I work with use the bridge and see the attack as strategic terrorism. It is an assault on Baghdad's history, it will widen the sectarian divide and it will harm the economic and social life of the city.

It's one of the few spans across the Tigris that connects the historical Shia district of Kadhamiyah to the rest of the city. The holy Kadham shrine, the centerpiece of Shia Islam in Baghdad, is in this neighborhood; now any Shia who lives in Sadr City or Rusafa, on the east side of the river, who wants to go to this shrine will have to go through Sunni areas of the city. This complication is both symbolic and practical.

Commuter traffic is terrible in the city already and this makes it worse.

False checkpoints set up by both Sunni and Shia militia squads target people traveling through the "wrong" neighborhoods. The destruction of this bridge will empower extremists on both sides of the sectarian divide.

I work with municipal and provincial leaders here in Baghdad, and while accustomed to tragedy and crisis, the next few days and weeks will certainly be a challenge for all here."
http://www.dailyitem.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070415/NEWS/704150322

Charles

In my post above, my pasted quote didn't make it into my comment. Here it is.

And here's the view of the surge from the hinterland, by the Governor of Karbala, taken from McClatchy, quoted over at Juan Cole today after the latest slaughter:

<' Aqeel al Khazaali, the governor of Karbala, blamed the Baghdad Security Plan for the attack inside the relatively safe southern city. Karbala is about 50 miles south of Baghdad. "The Baghdad crackdown and the tribes in Ramadi are forcing the terrorists to leave their cities," he said. "Now Karbala is under fire from terrorists, and the central government has to take the necessary steps to help us to protect the holy city." '>

mike

fasteddiez:

George Catlett Marshall, being a VMI graduate, must be close to Col Lang's heart even though he was a northern boy from Pennsylvania. He was a 145 pound tackle on the VMI football team. And academically he was only 15th in a class of 33. But he was smart enough to marry a Virginia girl, organize the mobilization and shape the strategy that beat the Axis, create the European Recovery Act (later named for him), and win a Nobel Peace Prize.

mike

PS - And oh, BTW, he also was the guy that deep-selected Ike over the heads of a ton of senior officers who all thought they should have had the job.

Leila

I am in shock this morning 4/16/07 at the news from Virginia Tech (VPI). My earliest memories are from Blacksburg and that school, where my father got his Ph.D.

A friend and colleague and fellow Arab-American teaches English there, and I am just waiting to hear that he is okay.

What madness comes upon our country that our own slaughter each other at random in this fashion? How can it be?

I have to go on about my business but this shock, close to home, makes it very hard.

PS my father was getting his masters at VPI in the late 50s when he met my mother, then a sophomore at Randolph-Macon Womens College. VPI is the reason why I exist.

jamzo

the destruction of the Sarafiyah Bridge seens like a powerful counter-strike against petraeus's neighborhood security strategy

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