Thursday, November 11, 2004

Assessing News Reports from Falluja 
Pay little attention to comparative body counts. There's no reliable way to tell who's an insurgent and who's a civilian. Both sides will manipulate body counts to suit their own purposes.

There's little doubt that we're killing far, far more insurgents than they are killing our guys. Don't worry about the body counts. Just make sure the town is hermetically sealed and kill the insurgents where you find them.

Body counts aren't totally meaningless here, because the number of insurgents is finite. Even more finite is the number of insurgents willing to make martyrs of themselves in Fallujah. And the more of them we kill now, the better -- they won't be around to disrupt the elections. But since we don't know how many insurgents are there to begin with, then there's no point in counting down. Just kill, kill, kill, until they give up fighting. And keep killing them some more, just as quickly as they can be identified.

I cannot emphasize enough how brutal and ruthless the U.S. and Iraqi forces must be here. There can be no quarter asked nor given. War to the knife, and knife to the hilt.

But the media's obsession with body counts and casualty figures is pointless and counterproductive.

Even the media's obsession with friendly casualty figures is counterproductive. More US wounded in the short run is not neccessarily bad news - it means pursuing American forces are maintaining close contact with the enemy. We should be much more worried if Americans were overrunning the town and not taking ANY casualties - which would indicate that the insurgents had all escaped, or had successfully gone to ground to avoid the American onslaught, in order to plant more IEDs and engage American troops on more favorable terms later.

It's not about the body counts.

Don't worry about how much of the town has been overrun, either. If it really wanted to, the US could operate in any part of the town at any time, all along. If it showed up in enough strength, the insurgents would simply go to ground and strike somewhere else.

It makes no difference if the US controls 10% of the town or 70%. Because at that stage of the game, it's all about a house-to-house search, which could take weeks. It's very easy to imagine a scenario where the US controls the streets but the insurgent is able to hide out comfortably inside the apartments waiting for the heat to pass.

But if the Iraqis and US are methodical and successful in searching these neighborhoods and finding caches, we can put a serious hurting on the insurgency.

In this instance, more fighting, again, would be a GOOD sign, since it would indicate that the insurgents had tried to go to ground for a while, but are being flushed out and forced to fight or die trying to flee.

Again, we should be more worried if things are quiet. We don't want things to be quiet now. We have found the enemy, and must now ruthlessly close with and destroy him in an orgy of one-sided violence reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, to coin a phrase.

The recent attacks on police stations elsewhere in Iraq, such as Hadithah and Mosul, are very interesting to me. They indicate that the insurgency is able to concentrate in company strength or better, sure. But this we knew already. But the fact that the insurgency is flaring up in demonstration attacks elsewhere in Iraq hundreds of miles from Fallujah confirms that there is, indeed, some sort of central command and control node to the insurgency. Which is both a strength and a vulnerability, because any command and control node can be attacked.

The primary means of communication is likely by cell phone, which can be intercepted. Alternatively, they can communicate by courier. But couriers can be intercepted as well.

The insurgency's goal with the demonstration attacks, in part, is to force the US to transfer resources from the cordon around Fallujah to other areas, hopefully permitting part of their force in Fallujah to escape.

I doubt they will succeed. Meanwhile, the more the insurgents expose themselves in demonstration attacks the better. They can be more efficiently dispatched that way. The more die now, the fewer who will be available to disrupt and discredit the January elections.

It is much better to bite the bullet and kill them now.

What historical models come to mind?

I'm thinking the Russians outside of Berlin in 1945, or the German destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943.

My sympathies, of course, is to the ghetto fighters of '43. But this isn't about sentiment. This is about firepower. This is about winning. And not so paradoxically, it's also about saving lives, in the long run.

In the short run, let the insurgents' corpses stink up the streets. Gun their buddies down as they try to recover the bodies.

Bury them with pig entrails.

Splash, out


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