November 21, 2006
Good Hunting in Ramadi
After surviving three weeks in Virginia before, during, and after the election mania, followed by three weeks underway a-sea, I am finally back on land. As usual I did not get sick at all in the stormy weather on board. But I am quite land-sick at this moment! Now if I can somehow find my way back to California just before Thanksgiving without living the nightmare of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, I will be OK.
Now let's get back to the serious business of war shall we?
If the terrorists and "insurgents" in Iraq thought Democrats taking both houses meant American defeat in Iraq, they are devastatingly mistaken. Last week, American and Iraqi forces engaged in a series of attacks against Sunni terrorists, killing and apprehending a large number of targets without any deaths of our own. Bill Roggio reports: (Hat tip Belmont Club)
In Kirkuk, the 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 5th Division of Iraqi Army, in conjunction with the 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division conducted a brigade sized operation in and around the northern city of Kirkuk. The operation, originally announced on November 16th, was a major success. The Iraqi Army and U.S. forces killed nearly 50 insurgents and captured an additional 20 in a raid on a "large cache complex." "The caches included over 400,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition, 15,000 rounds of heavy machine gun ammunition, five mortar bipods, three heavy machine guns, three anti-tank weapons, two recoilless rifles and numerous mortar rounds, grenades, flares and artillery rounds," according to Multinational Forces Iraq. The soldiers also found materials to make roadside bombs as well as "propaganda materials and a large amount of U.S. dollars." Seven al-Qaeda were detained in a separate raid in Kirkuk.
In Baquba, Iraqi and U.S. Army forces engaged Sunni insurgents. Eighteen were killed and 19 wounded, although it is not clear if these were insurgents or if civilians are included. Multinational Forces Iraq has not released information on the contact. [No] Iraqi or U.S. soldiers were killed in the fighting. On Saturday, Coalition forces killed nine insurgents and captured two during a raid in Yusifiyah. [The missing word "no" at the start of the last sentence is clear from Roggio's earlier summation that "in each engagement, Sunni insurgents took massive casualties with no U.S. or Iraq forces killed" and by the odd sentence structure. -- Dafydd]
In Ramadi, the flashpoint of the the Sunni insurgency in Anbar province, and arguably the most dangerous city in Iraq outside of Baghdad, Iraqi and U.S. forces conducted two large raids over the past week. On November 13 and 14, U.S. forces killed 11 insurgents in 3 separate incidents. The insurgents were emplacing roadside bombs and were engaged with tank and small arms fire....
On Saturday, Coalition forces killed 8 insurgents and detained 2 during a morning raid in Ramadi.
This kind of lopsided victory is typical of our battles against terrorists. Then why, you may ask, do "insurgents" keep on fighting?
There are two major reasons:
- The western media, American reporters in the lead, keep telling them that any moment now, Americans are going to lose interest in the war and quit. If the terrorists will just persist, eventually they will win. (There are always plenty more where their lost comrades came from -- or so our own media keeps telling them!)
Second, we have not yet seriously engaged either Iran or its sock puppet Syria along the borders, putting an end to those two terrorist states supply of weapons, manpower, and terrorist training to the Iraqi Shia, specifically to the Mahdi Militia of Iranian agent Muqtada Sadr... who continue to kill ordinary Sunni at an alarming rate.
Because of that, as Bill Roggio points out, Sunni terrorists believe they must "fight back"... not only against Iraqi Shia but also against American forces, who they see not as neutral arbiters but active collaborators in the "genocide" of Sunnis in Iraq.
I cannot completly blame them for believing that, since we pushed for this government and we're not forcing them to crack down on the Shiite militias -- so far, at least. But the Sunni must come to realize that siding with al-Qaeda and fighting against Americans is not the way to ensure their safety. Contrariwise, it's a certain path to their own ultimate destruction.
I believe we could seal the borders, if we were willing to continuously patrol them by air and change the rules of engagement (ROE) such that we simply fire missiles upon any vehicles or bodies of men crossing the border anywhere but one or two checkpoints manned by heavy joint American and New Iraqi Army forces. So far, we have not done so, at least so far as I've heard.
Historian Victor Davis Hanson is thinking along the same lines. Here is how he ended a recent column on NRO:
So yes, let us talk about sending more troops, or taking them out altogether, or cry about bad news coverage. But the truth is that, if they were given more tactical leeway to go on the offensive, we would already have enough soldiers in Iraq to win a victory that even a hostile media will have to acknowledge and enemies watching must respect — but only if we persevere here at home in this latest climate of renewed hysteria.
The time is now: we must disband all the Shiite militias, starting with the Mahdi Militia -- and Muqtada Sadr must go. Permanently. As long as they (and he) exist, there will be no peace in Iraq.
But, saying and doing are not the same thing. In the battle against the Shiite militias, American forces are facing the same problem we faced back in 2004 against al-Qaeda in Fallujah and elsewhere: while we have overwhelmingly superior forces and we win every battle, even after taking territory we cannot hold it. The enemy simply trickles back as soon as we leave. (In fact, that was Hussein's very intelligent resistance plan from the very beginning, something we didn't realize until two years after we invaded.) This is the "whack-a-mole" situation, and it's very hard to break out of that routine.
The way we resolved the Fallujah situation was to train up Iraqi troops -- and then use them to secure the cities we captured: Americans conquered, Iraqis held. The danger is that we cannot trust the Iraqi troops entirely: many of them are sympathetic to the Shiite militias. I still believe that is the only workable approach; but we need more American troops to keep and eye on the Iraqis as they hold the territories.
It will take time to purge the Shiite militia members from the Iraqi Army and police forces. But if we can secure the area temporarily with American troops, we will have time to clean up the Iraqi forces and kill off militia. Pace Victor Davis Hanson, but maybe that would be a good reason to send 20,000 or 25,000 more American troops to Iraq: to serve as occupation forces. (With such emphasis on lightning-war as we've had recently, could we even successfully occupy territory? I think we would still remember how to do that.)
I hope Americans will have the political will to commit ourselves to this. It can be done. Military victory can be achieved. All we need is a renewed commitment.
Hatched by Sachi on this day, November 21, 2006, at the time of 7:01 PM
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Tracked on December 5, 2006 7:17 PM
The following hissed in response by: Terrye
I agree to a great extent, but I can not help but wonder how much less powerful those militia might have been if the Sunni had not helped kill them for so long. I can remember Sistani urging them month after month to not retaliate and then came the Golden Dome, if not for that those militia and Sadr with them might have remained a fringe.
The above hissed in response by: Terrye at November 21, 2006 7:16 PM
The following hissed in response by: CayuteKitt
"The western media, American reporters in the lead, keep telling them that any moment now, Americans are going to lose interest in the war and quit. If the terrorists will just persist, eventually they will win."
I can't tell you how much that statement upsets me. If this is true, and the reporters over there are actually telling the terrorists to "persist" because eventually they'll win, doesn't that amount to flat out treason on the part of American reporters???
The following hissed in response by: Big D
Terrye and Sachi
Correct as usual.
It is funny how so many of the problems we faced later in this war (Fallujah, Sadr, not pursuing Taliban into Pakistan, etc.) resulted from calls for "restraint" in our pursuit of the war. In war restraint only delays the inevitable, making it more virulent and difficult to deal with when it finally comes.
I would argue that restraint = appeasement, with all its subsequent bitter fruit.
Death itself does not win or lose wars. Wars are most frequently won by those who have the greatest will to win. The death toll from WWII was so high because the will on both sides to win was so great. Israel's conflict grinds on because the Arab will to win remains unbroken.
The great generals knew, it is better to break an enemy than to kill an enemy.
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