Saturday, August 13, 2005

Why is Haditha important? 
We're starting to see some attempt to contextualize the deaths of those 14 Marines - not in our mainstream media sources, which can't be bothered with anything outside their standard frames, but in the alternative conservative press. (The more detailed article in the New York Post requires a subscription, and I haven't read it for that reason.)

Here's the synopsis:

As usual, reporters have focused on the loss of life without any apparent effort to understand the context of the fighting that led to these casualties. I suggested that the casualties stem from Coalition forces having stepped up their campaign in Al Anbar province to destroy the insurgency by depriving it of its base in the Sunni Triangle and its "rat lines" — the infiltration routes that run from the Syrian border into the heart of Iraq.

I said that the latest action, Operation Quick Strike, is substantially larger in both scope and magnitude than earlier operations Matador and New Market, and thus will enable the Coalition to apply simultaneously force against a number of insurgent strongholds. The previous operations, although successful up to a point, still could not prevent insurgents from abandoning one town and moving to another that was not threatened by allied forces. According to one U.S. officer, Operation Quick Strike has substantially hindered the movement of insurgents on both sides of the Euphrates River.

All in all, it's great news. It's news that we're out clobbering the enemy. But why is the enemy choosing to put up such a fight for Hadithah, when it's easier and safer to skedaddle in front of the Marine combat formations, fall in on prestocks in other towns along the USMC main supply route, and blast the logistic convoys to smithereens with IEDs?

Well, Hadithah happens to be the site of a major hydroelectric power plant, which supplies most of the power to the Euphrates River Valley for more than a hundred miles, all the way to Baghdad.

From the WaPo:

When the U.S. military planned its invasion of Iraq, strategists pondered the Haditha Dam, recalling oil wells set ablaze by then-President Saddam Hussein in his scorched-earth retreat from Kuwaiti during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Sabotage to this dam could unleash walls of water from Lake Qadisiya on towns and villages for hundreds of miles. It would cripple the country's electricity supply. It would destroy vast fields of irrigated farmland.

The insurgents want the dam. Not to run it, obviously, but to break it, just as they do their damnest to break oil pipelines and cause millions of barrels to dump in the Euphrates river, which brings life to millions.

If the insurgents are able to turn Haditha into jihadi-owned real estate - as the US foolishly allowed them to do in Fallujah in the spring of 2004 - they could muster the strength to pose a serious threat to overrunning the dam itself. It's unlikely in my view that they would succeed, but they did try to storm Abu Ghraib at one point, so I wouldn't put anything past them.

More likely, though, they would focus on attacking the transmission cables that carry the power from the dam itself to the surrounding countryside, while forcing Americans to pay a heavy price for maintaining and supplying a battalion task force (-) on the dam itself.

As this satellite image shows, the town of Haditha sits astride the Main Supply Route linking the U.S. garrison at the Dam itself with its bases at Al Asad, Camp Fallujah, Junction City (outside of Ramadi) and Baghdad in the south.

The U.S. must therefore not let the moojies gain traction in Haditha. They have the heat to make themselves heard, but they cannot be allowed to attain dominance in the region. The U.S. must therefore carry the fight to the enemy in order to prevent that from happening, and in order to keep the Iraqi security forces in the game. As long as the ISF are in the fight, they are much better than the U.S. at rooting out "inside baseball" intelligence on the rat lines that feed the insurgency in Ramadi, Fallujah, Baghdad, and points south. Haditha is one of a number of towns that if held, will help cut the moojies in the larger cities off. As long as the IPs can stay in the game, you can keep a lid on things. If the IPs are driven out of Haditha and other towns like Khan al Baghdadi, Hit, Rutba, and of course Al Qaim, then all hell will quickly break loose in Baghdad and Ramadi in short order, since the moojies will be able to smuggle car bombs, terrorists, and weaponry into those cities unmolested except by US checkpoints on the highways, which will themselves become vulnerable to attack by car bombs.

The US is therefore fighting to retain Haditha, and the moojies are fighting to take it, or at least drive the IPs out (hence the bombing of the Haditha police station and other operations in which they moojies clobbered the Iraqi security forces near there).

That is why the Marines were out in force, and that is why the moojies built such a large IED, and that is why they were willing to devote a 500 pound bomb to interdicting American tactical operations there, rather than saving it for a more spectacular op in Baghdad.

Splash, out



ISF to start working with Marines to guard Haditha Dam

ISF to help Marines guard Haditha Dam
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