April 13, 2007

AP Quantizes Counterinsurgency Success

Hatched by Dafydd

Grudgingly -- peevishly -- truculently, the Associated Press has started to report figures that show us just how successful Lt.Gen. David Petraeus' counterinsurgency has been so far:

Figures compiled by the AP from Iraqi police reports show that 1,586 civilians were killed in Baghdad between the start of the offensive and Thursday.

That represents a sharp drop from the 2,871 civilians who died violently in the capital during the two months that preceded the security crackdown.

Outside the capital, 1,504 civilians were killed between Feb. 14 and Thursday, April 12 compared with 1,009 deaths during the two previous months, the AP figures show.

Let's put this into perspective. In Baghdad, civilian deaths dropped 45% in the last two months; throughout all Iraq, 20% fewer civilians were slain. The rise in killings was in parts of Iraq still in the red zone -- or red zone transitioning to pink -- while the drop in killings was in areas transitioning from pink to white.

Just to remind folks of what these terms mean, I refer you to the Arthur Herman article from the Wall Street Journal. I don't know if subscription is required, so let me quote the relevant portion (you can read more, along with our analysis, in How to Win/Lose In Iraq):

Galula divided his own district into zones: "white," where government control was complete or nearly complete; "pink," where insurgents competed with the government for control; and "red," where the insurgents were in complete control. A successful counterinsurgency involved turning pink zones into white zones, then red into pink, through a block-by-block, neighborhood-by-neighborhood struggle to force the terrorists into the shadows.

Before the counterinsurgency operation began, Baghdad comprises a relatively small red zone (consisting of Sadr City, completely controlled by the Mahdi Militia, and Haifa Street, a.k.a. Sniper Street, controlled by Sunni extremists including al-Qaeda in Iraq, "AQI"); a very large pink zone, where nobody really controlled the streets -- and where most of the violence on both sides occurred; and a tiny white zone -- confusingly called the "Green Zone," which I'll call the GZ to avoid perplexity -- which Coalition forces controlled.

Today, both Haifa Street and Sadr City have become pink zones, and parts of them are actually white (under the control of Iraqi government forces). The white zone around the GZ has expanded markedly, and many pink-zone areas are now much whiter.

Before continuing, let's quickly discuss one controversy, to which this very article contributes:

On Thursday, extremists managed to penetrate the most secure part of the capital - the Green Zone - and launch a suicide attack in the building where the Iraqi parliament meets.

In yesterday's attack on the Iraqi parliamentary, extremists did not "penetrate... the Green Zone," for the simple reason that the parliament building is not in the Green Zone, and hasn't been since 2006 -- at lease according to a State Department official quoted in Black Five.

The Iraqis evidently decided that all the security measures we had implemented when we controlled that building were too intrusive; they didn't like being searched, so they ended the searches and other "intrusive" protections. That building was less secure than the county courthouses in Los Angeles. Surprise, surprise, the building was attacked!

This says nothing at all about the counterinsurgency strategy; the only thing it illustrates is Larry Niven's famous maxim: "Not responsible for advice not taken."

Speaking of the counterinsurgency success, let's get back to it...

In Anbar, the change is even more marked: With 14 of the 18 Sunni tribal chiefs flipping from supporting al-Qaeda to fighting al-Qaeda, that whole province shifted from very reddish pink to very whitish pink. It's not a white zone yet, but it's moving very strongly in that direction.

This shift in Anbar resulted in a lot of civilian deaths during the last two months, because red zones that were fairly firmly under AQI control suddenly became pink zones, where (by definition) the two sides are fighting. In this case, AQI started bombing its own former supporters to try to intimidate them into neutrality. It didn't work, and AQI is on the run from their former stronghold:

The rise in deaths outside Baghdad may also be partly a result of clashes in Anbar province between al-Qaida extremists and Sunni tribes that have broken with the extremist movement.

For example, at least 52 people were killed Feb. 24 when a suicide truck bomber struck worshippers leaving a Sunni mosque in Anbar after the mosque's preacher spoke out against al-Qaida.

Al-Qaeda attacks Sunni worshippers leaving a Sunni mosque -- does that not smack of desperation?

Common sense dictates that when you push vermin out of one area, they will flow into an adjacent area; that is the underlying genius behind Galula's counterinsurgency strategy, which Big Lizards characterized many months ago as not Whack-a-Mole, but rather Seal-a-Hole:

  1. You clear an area of vermin;
  2. You hold that area in perpetuity;
  3. Then you expand control to adjacent areas.

Note that step 2 requires native forces, since otherwise, Americans would have to stay in control of volatile areas forever. But since Iraqis generally plan to live in Iraq for the rest of their lives anyway, that's the job for them. Oh, did we mention who took over the responsibilty of training the Iraqi Army after our early debacle? Some feller named Lt.Gen. David Petraeus. I suspect we're in pretty good shape on that front.

As you can see, we expect the Sunni and Shia terrorists expelled from the red zones (Sadr City or Haifa Street, i.e.) to show up in red or pink zones outside of Baghdad. But when we expand into those areas as well, we force them to flee still further out. And eventually, they run into the Gulf, the rivers, or Iraqi and Coalition forces in the outlands -- where they're trapped between hammer and anvil and ground into dust.

So not only is increased violence outside the white zone not a sign that the "surge" (a woefully inadequate term for counterinsurgency) is failing, it's a nearly infallible sign that it's succeeding: When pink zones are turning white and red zones turning pink, there is always accompanying violence (which is why you need an army), but that still means you are winning.

AP doesn't like to admit it; they spend much of their article trying to mitigate it; but the news of the countersurgency so far is spectacularly good. It is proceeding exactly as planned. And that's as good as warfare ever gets.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 13, 2007, at the time of 4:36 PM

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Tracked on April 15, 2007 6:40 AM


The following hissed in response by: Watchman

This is one of the most important things ever posted on Al Gore's Internets. I can't get the trackback to work, but I've linked it. Outstanding work!

It's also worth reminding people that we're just halfway to the increased troop levels too...when we get up to speed, progress should pick up even more.

The above hissed in response by: Watchman [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 13, 2007 7:53 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 14, 2007 12:40 AM

The following hissed in response by: AMR

So the Iraqi Parliament Building is not in the Green (International) Zone/under its protection which is to me the same thing. I follow the Iraq story very closely and this is news to me. If this is true, this degusts me to no end; so the news media lying SOBs can’t even get this right; oh but it is a better story when the 6 layers of security were penetrated by the courageous freedom fighters in Iraq who are opposed to our occupation. Does the media they think that they can get away with this; yes is the answer since I have seen no clarification yet. One outlet showed a map with the building in the Green Zone. Now I can’t trust their maps?!!! I’m going to do a little research on my own and if I find the Blackfive is correct, I’m going to let a few people know what I think.

The above hissed in response by: AMR [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 14, 2007 8:24 AM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

You're 'Da *BEST* at exposing, stripping, and hammering MSM!!!

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 14, 2007 8:24 AM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

Stratfor's Green Zone map.

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 14, 2007 10:03 AM

The following hissed in response by: Rovin

And that's as good as warfare ever gets.

Great roundup Dafydd, but even with AP's grudgingly report, we'll have to search the backpages of most of the MSM for anything close to your analysis.

The "dream" would be to see a frontpage headline in the NYT's saying SURGE WORKING TO PERFECTION!-------(editorials say the opposite)

The above hissed in response by: Rovin [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 14, 2007 10:21 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


I was actually more emphatic until I read the Black Five comments section, where a couple of commenters are arguing that it is so in the Green Zone. But I find their comments unpersuasive, since all they do is look at a map of unknown provenance (the BBC's map, e.g.) and unknown date.

The point is not whether it's technically inside the boundaries of a "zone," but rather, who is handling security -- the Iraqis or us?

According to several reporters who have been there to conduct interviews, the security is extraordinarily lax compared with the parts of the Green Zone that we absolutely control... which lends some credence to the claim by that State Department guy that we handed over the parliament building -- not necessarily nearby areas -- to the Iraqis in 2006.

And in fact, think about it: I think the Iraqis would be really, really unhappy had we not. It's their parliament, for heaven's sake. So on the whole, I believe the quoted State Department guy -- who is anonymous to us but known to the poster -- rather than the arguers, who simply look at a map and insist that the map shows it to be within the Green Zone.

Not even any of them claims to have evidence that we run the security there. But we'll see how that point develops.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 14, 2007 11:41 AM

The following hissed in response by: AMR


I have Googled the story and every media report I read from here and overseas flatly states the Parliament is inside of the “breached” multiple layers of security for the Green Zone. Now we know that many media stories "assume" certain things and continue to report such even after changes are made. Anyway, I believe that the Iraq Parliament story is an important one that needs to be corrected, if necessary. Many have run with this as an indication that the "surge" has failed and we will lose/have lost. Harry Reid said the bombing was further evidence that the war was going badly and U.S. troops should come home. If the security has been reduced for the Iraq Parliament building per the Iraqis insistence, so be it, but it is a totally misleading story otherwise if it is that the US security failed; i.e. the surge is failing. Does the Parliament bldg have a separate entrance and is it surrounded by a fence/barrier to preclude a back door entry into the rest of the Green Zone, around the layers of security the media writes about? I don’t know and those I know in Iraq are not in the Green Zone. I have written media outlets with Blackfive’s story and asked for clarification. I doubt if I will receive any satisfaction, but I may just luck out. Anyway I’m surprised that no one from the Green zone has responded to Blackfive with specific info. Why the government/military is silent on this is beyond me.

From media reports: Mohammed Abu Bakr, who heads the legislature's media department stated that a security scanner for pedestrians at the entrance to the Green Zone near the parliament building was not working. People were searched only by hand and had to pass through metal detectors, he said. (That sounds like a single layer of security-amr) Hadi al-Amiri, head of the parliament's security and defense committee, said Iraqi forces are in charge of security in the building, and that explosives could have been smuggled in amid restaurant supplies. Newsweek on line reported that the blast was in one of the outer cordons of the Green Zone, which is mostly screened by Iraqi personnel. The security for the Parliament building, which is directly in front of the Al-Rashid Hotel, is also run by Iraqi.

Now I am very curious about this and don’t like not knowing what is correct.

The above hissed in response by: AMR [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 14, 2007 6:19 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


I have Googled the story and every media report I read from here and overseas flatly states the Parliament is inside of the "breached" multiple layers of security for the Green Zone.

Because news organizations generally just play follow the leader.

For another example, remember that Shiite anti-America march that Sadr called?
Google it, and see how many news sources use the identical phrase to describe the number of participants: "tens of thousands."

What does "tens of thousands" mean? 20,000? 90,000? In fact, the first estimate by the U.S. Military on the ground was 5,000 to 7,000; and a later, better estimate, from aerial surveillance photography taken by a Predator drone, was about 15,000 at the peak.

Some previously unknown (to me, at least) "Police Brigadier" in Najaf (probably a Sadrite) claimed it was 650,000; but that's so preposterous that not even the BBC is willing to run with that.

Yet not a single news story I have read actually explains that discrepency... not even those that report it! So they report that the Pentagon says it was 15,000, by a careful aerial-photographic count... yet they still announce, ex cathedra, the attendance was "tens of thousands." They don't even tell us where they got that vague range; it appears out of the blue.

Why? Because that's what the first news service to report it said! (I think it was AP, but I can't be sure at this date.)

Similarly with the bombing: The first news service to report the bombing in the parliament building cafeteria said the bomber "penetrate[d] the most secure" part of Baghdad, the "heavily fortified Green Zone." And every news report since then has loyally repeated the line.

It might be true; but the point is that none of them has discussed and refuted the claim by that State Department guy that the parliament building itself was handed over to Iraqi control in 2006 (probably because they don't read either Black Five or Big Lizards!) They simply repeat the mantra over and over.

Until someone actually deals with that challenge and presents evidence that it's wrong, I'll stick with it.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 14, 2007 7:35 PM

The following hissed in response by: SDN

Unfortunately, Dafydd, most people are unfamiliar with the terrorist motto: "You have to win every time. We only have to win once." Which is why I pretty well discount propaganda targets like the Parliament building to determine how the surge is going.

The above hissed in response by: SDN [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 15, 2007 2:36 AM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

Yet not a single news story I have read actually explains that discrepency... not even those that report it!

99.9% of news media have a Leftist or Islamic templete that they use, and if a story doesn't fit that templete, then they come up with an excuse not to run it:

"So, is Zuhdi Jasser what you might call a "moderate" Muslim? If you do, then the Public Broadcasting Service has a problem with you."

"Hero's tale is 'too positive' for the BBC"

Amazing that either of those 2 stories made any news at all...especially at the Telegraph.

Remember Dan Rather? He still claims that story was true, even if he used forged 'evidence'. Media is all over Rove and Gonzalez, but Sandy Berger 'deserved' a pass...along with the passes for Plame & Wilson, Bill Clinton, Rubin, Gorelick, Pelosi, Reid, etc.

Win or Lose, America needs a prunning, and with so many in the news media and in America supporting Terrorism, humble me suspects that prunning will come sooner rather than later...so to speak.

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 15, 2007 6:54 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Win or Lose, America needs a prunning, and with so many in the news media and in America supporting Terrorism, humble me suspects that prunning will come sooner rather than later...so to speak.

By coincidence, Sachi and I were just talking about this point, anent France, before I looked at comments. I think I should blog on civilization and inevitability.

Simply put, we the majority did not become the majority by accident. I think you are going to see a "pruning" in a lot of places; we already see it going on in Australia, which is in the midst of a massive crackdown on immigration, illegals, and Moslems.

And you're going to see it in France, one way or another: either by the institutions of civilization (if, say, Sarkozy is elected) -- or failing that, the French will rise up and take matters into their own hands, a la Cronulla Beach in Australia.

I would much prefer the former; rampaging mobs tend not to distinguish between the guilty and the innocent; and they often lead, in the aftermath, to a fascist state, as in Spain, Germany, and Russia.

But if the former doesn't happen, if the forces of anarchy are not crushed, then the latter becomes inevitable.

We didn't get to be the majority by accident.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 15, 2007 2:41 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist


I think I should blog on civilization and inevitability.

Sounds very interesting...already.

France had better act yesterday unless they expect a dwindling population in wheelchairs to whip their growing Muslim immigrants...thru "institutions of civilization" or "rampaging mobs". The 'Aussies' still have time, of course.


Simply put, we the majority did not become the majority by accident.

After the 2006 elections, i'm not very impressed by America's "majority". This "majority" is playing with Freedom (and National Security) like some child playing with matches...so to speak of *POOF*, as in Freedom disappears, and the child becomes a pile of ashes.

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 15, 2007 7:50 PM

The following hissed in response by: Trickish knave

It is unfortunate that the information from military sources showing success in our efforts has such a lag in making it to print. I read about them weekly but cannot talk about them outside the confines of my secured building because of the classification level. Amazing that when an Admiral or General says it then the classification level can be lowered. Anyway...

But when we expand into those areas as well, we force them to flee still further out.

Classic effect of extermination that can be seen by anyone who lives in an apartment complex. The roaches find comfort in your apartment after your neighbor fumigates his- same phenomenon you talk about with the counterinsurgents. Every once in a while a roach slips past the front line and makes it to the Green Zone but I think the attacks are getting more and more infrequent. The attacks that do occur are sensationalized by the media to promote their agenda.

A few of my friends were sent to Iraq on Independent Assignment (funny how they joined the Navy so they wouldn't have to worry about sand in their underwear) and they tell me about the all the stuff that will never make it to the MSM, sadly limited to military blogs, emails, and letters.

The Green Zone security is still under our cognizance but only in an over-instruction capacity. We are passing the torch in small increments to the Iraqi police force and they have taken it and are running with it. Two years ago these guys couldn't clear a room by themselves and now their own guys are leading huge raids and only have US soldiers there in small numbers 'just in case'.

I think if we can keep the training up and get a few more of our military over there to keep control of the expanding safe zones (while the front line continues to expand) then we will hve given the Iraqi's a strong foothold to manage their own country.

And that's as much archair analysis as I can give ;)

The above hissed in response by: Trickish knave [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 16, 2007 12:26 PM

The following hissed in response by: exDemo

I always thought the surge was an attempt to gain time. There are two statistics that I think are important in this conflict. How big and how good are a) the Army; and b) the Police?

Early this year the disbanded and now reconstituted Iraqi Army was finally at programmed strength, but readiness was still a question, but improving.

The Police force was neither at planned strength nor planned readiness, but slated to be at strength my late spring. We are reaching late spring now, so the Police force must now be near planned strength. Readiness can be addressed now.

It may sound astounding, but the fact is that no big "guerrilla war" has won an outright victory without major out side assistance, since the end of WWII.

Despite lots of colonial-war liberation efforts, none succeeded without outside assistance usually from the Red Bloc but occasionally from elsewhere as in Afghanistan, the East Europe communist collapse, and the Balkans.

The disorder in but three Iraqi provinces Anbar, Diyala and Baghdad of the 18 Iraqi provinces shows to me that we are winning. More importantly the Iraqis are making progress with their Army and Police and state institutions, and contesting for and extending the areas under their control, in all three last stand opposition areas.

The Iraqi's have won two wars and are making progress on the third. The secular Nazi Baathists are gone and will never return; the Sunni Al Quedists have been destroyed except for Anbar province and are losing badly there. Crafty tribal chiefs have turned on them, the national government is killing those the locals don't get. Anbar will turn white and join the 15 other safe provinces by mid year. That will finish the Sunni Al Quedist opposition. Efectively two wars won.

That leaves only Baghdad, the city province, and Diyalla where the Iranians efforts among the Shia are led by the puppet Sadr, is headquartered. They are being pounded in both places; I consider it significant that Sadr has been driven into exile in non-Arab Persia.

It is hard to measure victory in a "guerrilla war" but if government is shrinking the area under opposition control rather than abandoning it; the government is winning. If the insurgents are expanding the uncontested areas that they control then they are winning. The opposition areas are shrinking; therefore they are losing.

This has been a strange "guerrilla war"; in the usual such war, creating disorder, advances to part time war. long since by now, the guerrilla movement would have advanced to part time platoon and company sized units if not to full time battalion and regiments to harass the government monopoly on state power and order.

Yet there are no company sized units, full time, or even part time, in the whole insurgency. Just small squads of gunmen under no one's nominal control.

In the riots of the '60s and 70's in the black ghettos, there was zero chance of the black militants overthrowing the US government at State or Federal level. Militants could raise hell, and destroy some lives and property, but never were a serious threat of the government. They had neither guns nor numbers.

The same situation exists in Iraq; when the present government's forces is up to strength and readiness, the US can go over to providing support, and then evacuation, with victory. Without an outright Iranian military invasion, no one group of militants in Iraq is going to overthrow it,although tthe iramians could continue to stir trouble for years, wihtout really threatening the Iraqi government.

The MSM media and the Democrats, invested in defeat, won't like it, but I can see victory on this Iraqi front of the GWOT being declared before the end of 2008, if not a lot earlier.

The above hissed in response by: exDemo [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 16, 2007 1:28 PM

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