Wednesday, July 23, 2003

War News for July 23. 2003 Bring ‘em on: CENTCOM reports US troops disarmed four improvised explosive devices (that means home-made bombs) in separate incidents throught the Iraqi area of operations.. Numerous patrols confiscated weapons, ammunition, money and arrested Iraqi suspects. Troops responded to small-arms fire at the new Iraqi police station in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: CENTCOM reports one US soldier killed, seven wounded by IED ambush near Mosul. Bring ‘em on: CENTCOM reports one US Soldier killed, another US soldier and civilian contractor wounded by IED ambush near Ramadi. India would reconsider troop support to Iraq only with “explicit” UN mandate. “If there is no UN mandate, there is no question of sending the troops. If there is, we have said we would consider it.,” said Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha. Army announces troop rotation plan. Forces in Iraq to be maintained at 145,000. Two National Guard brigades will be activated for one-year tours of duty. “The scramble to find replacement units for Iraq duty is stark evidence of how thin the 480,000-strong American Army is stretched. Of its 33 active-duty brigades, 21 are deployed overseas: 16 in Iraq, two in Afghanistan, two in South Korea and one in Bosnia. All but three of the rest are either preparing for one of those missions, recovering and retraining after one of those missions, or held in reserve.” Japanese public support for troop deployment declines. Bremer announces 60-day reconstruction timetable. Of course, it appears intended more as a shield to temporarily defuse domestic criticism that a workable solution to the Iraqi revolt. Yankee’s Rant of the Day: Lieutenant AWOL swaggered out to the Rose Garden today and crowed about the deaths of Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay, killed during an American attack on their hide-out in Mosul. As usual, Bush made sure his comments emphasized meanness and rottenness, saying of the dead men, "Saddam Hussein's sons were responsible for torture, maiming and murder of countless Iraqis.” No doubt about that. But we're also seeing Bush’s consistent self-appointed God schtick: these here Hussein boys were a just couple of no-good terrorist varmints who needed killing and I’m the rootin’ tootin’ cowboy who can git the job done. But the other part of Bush’s consistent schtick was evident also: the faith-based belief that a desired result can be obtained regardless of the evidence at hand. The administration’s best-case scenario in Iraq is that the death or capture of Baathist leadership will end the revolt. “Now more than ever all Iraqis can know that the former regime is gone and will not be coming back," Bush said. Plan A, or Rosy Scenario, is that the Iraqi revolt will end just as soon as Saddam Hussein and the Baathist Party leadership are eliminated. There appears to be no Plan B on the shelf in case Plan A falls flat on its ass, as it surely will. The Bushies solely blame Baathist “dead-enders” for the Iraqi revolt. American forces have already killed or captured 35 of the 55 Baathist critical leadership personalties identified in the CENTCOM deck of cards, and the revolt is growing. Press reports indicate that low-level Baathists provided the leads that led to the assault in Mosul, and Army intelligence has made progress in penetrating the Baathist network at the tactical level. But the revolt is growing, not diminishing. Other groups, some directly opposed to Baathist rule, have claimed credit for attacks against US forces. Influential and charismatic Iraqi clerics are beginning to chafe and exert power. Ordinary Iraqis are pissed because the infrastructure has collapsed, security is virtually non-existent, soldiers at checkpoints are jumpy and sometimes shoot good guys by mistake, and there are no jobs. Those folks don’t blame the Baathists. They blame us. Further, the Bushies have always claimed that there is no central organization behind the revolt. Maybe they're lying to us, maybe they're lying to themselves, maybe both. Actually, it's good news if they're lying. The Turkish terrorist group Dev Sol caused no end of problems in Turkey throughout the 1980s and early 90s. Organized in a stovepipe, rather than a pyramid configuration, each cell was a self contained unit that responded to direction from the central leadership cell. When the Turkish National Police decapitated the organization, individual cells spazzed out (I remember one spectacular shootout at the Topkapi bus station in 1992 - you could hear gunfire all over European Istanbul ) but the movement quickly died. But if the Bushies claim is true, eliminating Baathist leadership does nothing to end the revolt except remove perceived intimidation as a motivating factor for the population. Insurgents require a compliant population for support and cover. They can obtain compliance either through intimidation or by consent. The Bushies are crossing their fingers and hoping that eliminating Baathist cells will remove insurgent support by intimidation. But their other policies seem aimed at obtaining security through force, and Bremer's 60-day Miracle Plan appears more for US domestic consumption than a workable solution. If they’re wrong about Baathist intimidation as the primary motivating factor supporting the revolt – and it looks like they are wrong – they will find an insurgency supported by a consenting population. That’s the worst-case scenario and, true to the Bushie pattern, there is no Plan B.


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