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Saturday, October 02, 2004

Samarra 
Well, so much for our Marine major's idea that Samarra was retaken without firing a shot.Nothing can be easy, can it?

Wretchard is impressed, though, that Coalition Forces could close an entire brigade on Samarrah and still apparently achieve tactical surprise.

Now, I wish I could figure out what the news reports say when they say we've "retaken" Samarra. Because if the objective was simply to drive to the mosque, or drive across town, everybody knows we could have done that at will all along. In an urban environment, the only insurgents that are going to be killed in a straight, movement-to-contact mission using the approach march technique--unless we're willing to level the city--are the ones dumb enough to try to fight it out.

This operation, then, is not what roots out the insurgency. It does set up the preconditions for operations which DO root out the insurgency. These preconditions include the following:

1.) Freedom of maneuver anywhere in the city, and frequent patrolling therein. Yeah, it sucks that any coalition soldiers out on patrol become targets. But it's these patrols that gain contacts in the community and provide valuable human intelligence. Nobody's going to risk their necks providing information on an insurgent's hideout if they don't think you can rub it out. And he's not going to be seen going to an American post. You gotta be out in the community.

2.) A municipal government structure made up of Iraqis. Iraqi police and US forces are valuable sources of information for one another.

3.) An Iraqi police force on the ground, with some credibility among the locals.

Once those things are in place, then coalition forces can switch to the "Search and Attack" technique. Raids. Driven and guided by real-time, human intelligence percolating up from the grass roots level. Deliberate attacks at the local level.

If we're executing these kinds of operations consistently, it means we have the initiative and we're making progress.

If we're executing approach marches, it generally means we've lost the initiative, at least locally, and we're trying to gain it back.


But there's always a give and take. The enemy has a mind of his own, and a will which he is trying to impose upon the battlefield. He will score tactical successes and gain initiative locally from time to time, anywhere he puts his mind to. The key is, can he maintain it? And can he gain civilian support while so doing?

But I encourage the observer from afar--and the journalist covering the war, to learn the difference between the Approach March technique and the search and attack. And look at the interplay between the two techniques. The way they're used will tell you a lot.

It's clear that the population of Samarra doesn't want to live under the chaotic rule of the insurgency. They don't want to live under the US, either. But with a credible alternative in a decent Iraqi municipal government, they'll take that. And work to push the insurgents out.

Apparently no one was bothering to warn the insurgents about the approach of coalition forces.

Let's hope that continues.

Splash, out

Jason

Comments:
Phil Carter is very pessimistict about Iraq.
http://www.intel-dump.com/archives/archive_2004_10_00.shtml#1096737672
 
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Hey, excellent website. A great Iraq resource is Deaths in Iraq. It breaks all of the casualties down by age, race, branch of the military, country, etc.
 
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Dropped by your site to get some ideas for a blog I'm putting up about Viet Nam. I was there in 1968, in and around DaNang with the 1st Marine Division. You might find it interesting ! ---Jack--- vietnam war pictures
 
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