War News for Saturday, September 17, 2005
Bring 'em on: US convoy attacked by car bomb near Abu Ghraib
; prison mortared; second convoy attacked by RPG fire.
Bring 'em on: Insurgents attack Iraqi Army checkpoint near Tikrit
Bring 'em on: One Iraqi killed, six wounded in car bomb attack on Iraqi Army patrol in Baquba
Bring 'em on: Fighting continues in Tal Afar
. "The Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) estimates at around 5,000 the number of families from Tal-Afar in northern Iraq that have had to flee their homes and take refuge in surrounding towns and villages following the escalation of violence in the city. While some are staying with friends or relatives, others are living in abandoned villages or small camps, with no access to such basic items as food, water or bedding. The IRCS has set up camps around Tal-Afar to host displaced families." Thanks to alert reader zig.
. "Bloodshed in Iraq is expected to worsen markedly by Christmas as insurgents try to disrupt next month's constitutional referendum and elections planned for December, John Howard said today after meeting with the Iraqi Prime Minister. About 200 people have been killed in terrorist attacks in the country in the past four days, the latest coming when a suicide bomber attacked worshippers leaving a mosque in a town north-west of Baghdad. Iraqi Prime Minister Ebrahim al-Jaafari said the carnage would probably get worse in the run-up to the elections. After a 15-minute private meeting at the United Nations world summit in New York, Prime Minister John Howard said he and Mr al-Jaafari agreed the attacks would escalate in coming months."
In recent days, one new tactic was tried: in advance of the Tal Afar offensive, Col. H. R. McMaster, commander of the Third Armored Cavalary Regiment, ordered his troops and Iraqi security forces to stake out villages where guerrillas might seek refuge. Although the solution may have been imperfect, scores of insurgents were intercepted - including a group of five men disguised as women.
But independent analysts suggest that the strategy of driving the insurgents from urban centers and trying to capture or kill as many as possible, aiming especially at leaders, may be flawed. The violence in Baghdad is only one problem. Another is that the fighting may work against the search for political consensus among Iraqis.
Iraqi defense officials insist they are still trying to come up with a political solution that will avoid an all-out battle in Samarra, another insurgent base, because the offensive may further alienate the Sunni minority, who would view it as a means of suppressing the Sunni vote. Similar attempts failed to head off the offensive at Tal Afar, as they did a year ago in Falluja.
The insurgency knows it cannot win a conventional battle with American forces, but it has become quite proficient at fighting "the asymmetric war," said Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
"They are protected by the sheer number of cells and elements and different groups involved," he said. "There is no central structure to attack."
. "Support for the war in Iraq has fallen to an all-time low, according to the poll. Only 44 percent now say the United States made the right decision in taking military action against Iraq, the lowest rating since the question was first asked by this poll more than two years ago. The findings underscore the difficulty President Bush faces as he calls on the public to show patience and resolve with the American effort in Iraq, particularly in the face of a persistent insurgency, punctuated this week by the killings of nearly 200 people in coordinated assaults in Baghdad. When asked how long American troops should remain in Iraq, for example, 52 percent of people interviewed called for an immediate withdrawal, even if that means abandoning President Bush's goal of restoring stability to that country. Only 42 percent said that troops should remain for as long as it takes to accomplish that mission, 12 percentage points lower than slightly over a year ago, when the question was first asked."
A pattern of behavior
. "The federal government's slow response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina is the latest example of an administration big on talk, but short on accountability, said U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. Speaking before about 400 community members and students at the University of Michigan Friday, Levin, the state's senior senator, called for Americans to insist on accountability for those who fail to do their job in government as he delivered the 2005 Josh Rosenthal Education Fund Lecture - named for the 1979 U-M alumnus who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Specifically, Levin said President George W. Bush's "bungled'' response to the disaster follows a disturbing pattern in which the president and his administration remain isolated from real change despite significant failures in the past four years. He cited intelligence failures prior to the Sept. 11 terror attacks and a lack of planning for a post-war Iraq, among other things."
. A local soldier accused of killing two of his superior officers in Iraq allegedly detonated a Claymore mine outside a room where the men were working, and then tossed two hand grenades in an attempt to make the explosion look like an enemy mortar attack, according to a source familiar with the Army's investigation.
. "US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former CIA director George Tennet no longer have reason to fear for their freedom should they decide on a trip to Germany. A state court in Stuttgart ruled Thursday that German federal prosecutor Kay Nehm is not required to prosecute the two men for war crimes in relation to the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib in 2003 and 2004."
Q: What's Bush's position on Roe v. Wade?
A: None. He didn't give a shit how people got out of New Orleans.
A constant throughout all counterinsurgency literature is the importance of understanding not just the finer points of the nation and culture where one is operating, but the nature of insurgency itself. It was, therefore, nothing short of jarring when, on June 23, 2004, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz declared on MSNBC that what was happening in Iraq was "not an insurgency."
Wolfowitz explained that an "insurgency" is only synonymous with an "uprising." As such, he continued, the fighting in Iraq does not constitute an insurgency, as it's a "continuation of the war by people who never quit," waged by the same enemy "that fought us up until the fall of Baghdad and continues to fight afterwards."
Those with an appreciation for the nuances of counterinsurgency were shocked. Wolfowitz's comments demonstrated that the Pentagon leadership still believed that Iraq could be pacified through the conventional (and escalating) application of force. Moreover, it suggested that senior Bush administration officials were ignoring intelligence reports that the insurgency was far more diverse than holdouts from Saddam Hussein's regime. But perhaps most troubling was that Wolfowitz revealed either flagrant disregard for--or complete ignorance of--an esteemed National Defense University (NDU) text that foresaw these problems 13 years before the fall of Baghdad.
This article provides a superb summary of fourth-generation warfare, and explains how Rummy's ideologically-driven policies got us into the Iraq quagmire.
Local story: Washington State
Marine killed in Iraq.
Local story: California
Guardsman dies from wounds received in Iraq.
Local story: Four Alaska
soldiers wounded in Iraq.