"QAIM, Iraq (AP) — Hundreds of U.S. troops combed through a village near the Syrian border Sunday, breaking into houses and fighting sporadic gun battles with gunmen on the second day of a new offensive against al-Qaida insurgents. At least eight militants were killed, the military said.Many residents fled Sadah village into Syria before the offensive began, witnesses said, and the 1,000 U.S. soldiers involved appeared to be widening the sweep into two nearby towns."
General John Abizeid said on TV today that it is mere "parsing" (evidently now an Army ‘term of art’ like ‘clever’) which makes it look like General Casey stepped all over himself in testifying that the number of fully functional Iraqi infantry battalions (650 men or so) had declined from three to one in the last month or so. Casey, himself, had said previously that the number was three. Now, "parsing" here means detailed analysis on the basis of some kind of rules and numerical scoring to "award" a "grade" of some sort to describe readiness for combat. As I have written below, this is an inherently flawed process because it is impossible for any human now alive to reduce so complex a phenomenon as "combat power" to factorable numerical values. There are simply too many factors and too many judgments involved that require "scorers" with "natural pitch" in "listening." In other words, the judgement as to when a unit is "ready" is inherently a subjective one.
No matter. The strategy being followed in Iraq by the US requires a constant and dependable increase in the number of "ready" Iraqi combat units. Are we getting it?
At Tel Afar, the US brought the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment to the fight as well as the 5,000 man Iraqi 3rd Infantry Division. This is a small division, more like a brigade but presumably the desire to build "force structure" for the future required an Iraqi Major General. Perhaps the officer inherited from the Pash Merga demanded this grade. This is the grade of the officer who would normally command a division. Another difficulty with the Iraqi troops at Tel Afar is that they were pretty much all Kurds operating against their ancestral Turkmen enemies in an area in which the Kurdish people have irredentist ambitions.
No matter. At least they were there with the mission of occupying the city (200,000 inhabitants) once they and the 3rd Cav. had cleared the place of guerrillas. So far as I know they are still there.
Now we see a smallish (1000) man US task force fighting in a couple more small towns (Sadah and Karabilah) of the Euphrates River Valley. (see my earlier post "Guerrillas and Water") This is not a large force for that job, and to put it together it was evidently necessary to pull together both Army and US Marine units. This is indicative of the relatively small number of forces available on the ground in Iraq. In a small operation like this one ("Iron Fist") any commander would prefer to have troops from the same unit and certainly from the same service. Coordination problems rise dramatically in "scratch" provisional task forces unused to workiing together. This task force will have to be withdrawn from the immmediate area when the shooting dies down for the same reason that it was necessary to create a provisional task force for the operations. Bottom Line: There are too few American forces available to leave them there. AND we need to see if Iraqi forces can hold these towns as well.
So, where are they? None of the press accounts that I have seen mention Iraqi troops in "Iron Fist." Why is that? Is it because there are none available? If that is true, then where are we?
Anyone who would care to enlighten me on the subject of Iraqi Forces in operation "Iron Fist" is invited to do so.
I’ll ask around. And I don’t know.
But i bet part of it is it was certainly easier and safer to bring the peshmerga to Talafar then to bring the Badr Brigade… erhm, the “New Iraqi Army,” to these places in Western Anbar. IED’s everywhere, and no armored transport of their own for the Iraqis. When Iraqi troops are being moved in Iraq, you typically see this: A US humvee or two up front, a soft-sided 7-ton (usually looks unarmored, but i’m no expert) or two, then a a US humvee in the back. If I’m holding the garage door opener or the clapper, do i hit the humvee or the truck? Choices, choices.
The Iraqi army is so poorly equipped, which in turn was a US policy decision, that I don’t see how they would be able to meaningfully contribute to operations in Anbar. And that’s with US support. Without US support, “there be dragons.”
Well, that maked the whole scheme seem more improbable in the time remaining.
If you read the last few posts by this guy he claims to be in the know.
Note he is one of those rightwing “strategists” who have a long record of predicting victories.
To me this isn’t strategy, it is wack-a-mole. Casey and Abizaid seemed confident today, but they put great stress on a political process that is broken.
The political process seems to me to be driven by Washington. The timing of events does not appear to be based on natural political outcomes.
I don’t see the progress that Casey and Abizaid see, maybe someone here can enlighten me.
Pleaze don’t tell me that Abazaid and Casey are now drinking the same hooch that Dubya’s inhaling.
In the Vietnamization (i.e., “Yellowing the Corpses”) Program I served in, the designated Vietnamese casualties didn’t take well to “dying for their country so ‘American Boys’ wouldn’t have to do that for them.” In the current Iraqification (i.e., “Browning the Bodies”) Policy, I suspect the designated Iraqi casualties have the same aversion to dying for the American occupation of their country.
President Bush mousetrapped himself (and thus America) by selling “democracy” to Middle American voters as an ex-post-facto “reason” for why America did what it did in Iraq. The Shiite-Kurdish Alliance (I won’t dignify through use the euphemism “Iraqi Government”) thus has Deputy Dubya and the US military by the short hairs as long as the Shiites and Kurds cloak their separate ethnic cleansing operations as “democracy.” The SKA’s subsidiary American armed forces do the large-scale, “industrial grade” Sunni killing and Sunni refugee-creating while a few Kurdish and Shiite finks go along to finger the targets. The SKA then spends its time and effort “cleansing” ethnic and sectarian groups that dilute the separate Shiite and Kurdish “voting” demographics.
As long as the American military insists that it won’t leave Iraq until a proxy “Iraqi Army” can fight for American policy in Iraq, no proxy army will emerge. No Iraqi incentive exists for it to do so. The Shiite-Kurdish Alliance has done very well for itself letting the Americans do what they do — and on America’s own dime, too. When your big, hired gun hires itself to do your gunning for you, what possible reason would you have to do any but the most precisely targeted political killing yourself?
In her classic study, “Fire in the Lake: the Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam,” historian Frances Fitzgerald has a great chapter called “Bad Puppets” that deals with this captive-American-puppeteer phenomenon. Read it, and you’ll understand how proxy “dependents” somehow always learn to make “dependency” on Nixon’s “Pitiful Helpless Giant” pay. The SKA tarbaby and some other interested parties have no intention of letting Br’er Uncle Sam loose.
He is clearly a marine or a marine “wannabe.” He will be talking about “doggies” next. I am unimpressed with all the details of this little battle. you have to be able to see beyond that.
I’m not sure if he has any military experience. Certainly he and he guy at the “Belmont Club” have hallucinated victories before.
Note his claim that Iraqi troops are prepared to occupy the areas the Marines go through. Last spring they claimed the offensives would destroy the “ratlines” and denied even after the Marine commander in charge admitted, that a significant number of the guerillas had escaped.
It is fascinating to watch the claims and the predictions which are curiously forgetten by both readers and writers after their failure.
The effect is simlar to 1984 or perhaps 1945 Germany, victory after victory after victory…
And of course very selective choices of what news is covered.
I will be interested to see if they come up with some Iraqi troops to hold these towns. pl
The imaginary troops are ready and waiting. One purpose of the exercise if you read the blog is to chastise the main stream media for not mentioning them.
The cadre seeks to implant a set of “facts” that provide a mythical picture of the situation. I’m not quite sure why I linked to that place, but observng it over time along with it’s counterparts gives a glimpse into an “expert” sounding spiel that describes perpetual victory.
I can predict that the prediction that *this* offensive will result in the implantation of Iraqi troops will never be looked at again if it doesn’t pan out. Yet it will have served it’s purpose. It will have “proved” that the MSM distorts reality by saying things like guerillas melt away and return.
The influence of this nonsense is extensive. And if one goes back through the entries they are completely baffled about why guerillas might want to fade away and return, having never heard when the enemy advances we retreat… yet they style themselves experts.
I ramble, but I find the thing fascinating.
The discussion of America’s War on Iraq — at least in America — has become tiresomely Orwellian. How many times can you lie to a people and yet have them come back the next day and ask for more of the same?
“All that was needed,” Orwell wrote in 19884, “was an unending series of victories over your own memory. ‘Reality control,’ they called it; in Newspeak, ‘doublethink.'”
“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, … to forget whatever it was necessary to forget then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again …”
Today, in America, we accomplish all that defeat of memory — and therefore learning — through the simple repetition of one phrase: “old news.” That pretty much disposes of history.
I’ve repeatedly quoted the Ron Suskind interview with Bush officials and media advisors who proudly claim to make their own reality, but this whole farce in Iraq has long since passed the point where even Orwell’s pathetic proles would tolerate it.