It looks like Petraeus is throwing out his own book. So much for clear, hold and build surge strategy. We're back to the "bomb them into glass ashtrays" tactics with the latest operation in Diylala that is being billed as an a containment offensive. I'm figuring that is going to work about as well as the last "early sign of improvement" when this lastest escalation of troops started.
Taking the fight to insurgents from Al Qaeda did not so much destroy them in Anbar Province as dislodge them, prompting the fighters to build up their strength elsewhere, including Baquba, the capital of Diyala Province.
Witness the newest new plan.
So the planners of this latest operation are attempting to plug the holes that have allowed the insurgents to escape in the past. The goal is not merely to reclaim western Baquba from insurgent control, but to capture or kill the estimated 300 fighters to 500 fighters who are believed to be based in that part of the city.
If memory serves, that's what they said they were doing in Fallujah, what is it now -- three years ago. In fact, I distinctly remember the insurgency being declared all but dead then. And Fallujah was pratically empty when that offensive started. The good citizens of Baquba are apparently unwilling to flee or hide, so this latest offensive is destined to greatly offend the other 200,000 or so innocent civilians in the city, many of whom are likely to die and/or lose their homes and livelihoods in the crossfire. And this part of the plan ought to do wonders towards winning the hearts and minds of the people.
The presence of so many civilians on an urban battlefield affords the operatives from Al Qaeda another possible means to elude their American pursuers. If the insurgents do not manage to sneak out, some may hide their weapons and try to blend with the city’s residents.
To frustrate such plans, the Americans intend to take fingerprints and other biometric data from every resident who seems to be a potential fighter after they and Iraqi forces have gained control of the western side of the city. The Americans will also test for the presence of explosive material on suspects’ hands.
Since they have no idea what an insurgent looks like, one might assume this means at least every male over the age of twelve. I don't know about you, but being stopped and fingerprinted by an armed foreigner while I'm on my way to the grocery store for milk and eggs is a surefire way to win my lasting affection. Heck I'd probably buy some extra sweets to throw at my inquistor's feet on the way back home... Seriously - can someone please explain the difference between this and Hitler's drop the pants testing of the Jews?
Ironically, the US commanders are banking on moles to make the offensive work.
Officers are hoping that local residents and even former insurgents who have split with Al Qaeda may quietly help the American troops pick out insurgents. American troops have already begun to work with more than 100 Iraqis on the eastern side of the city — a group American soldiers have nicknamed the “Kit Carson scouts.” To try to prevent insurgents from escaping, American commanders are also stepping up their reconnaissance efforts.
What a fool's hope. That only leaves 199,900 potential informants on the insurgents side. The insurgents know what we're doing, before the troops do. In this whack-a-mole war the moles are all on their side.
An indication of what may be in store for those units came Tuesday when a Bradley fighting vehicle was upended by a large, buried bomb, which killed an American crew member. The insurgents have fortified their position by burying many such bombs and laying wires that can be triggered from safe houses. What made the loss of the Bradley particularly worrisome is that the explosion occurred in a heavily trafficked area that American forces had considered successfully cleared.
Ah, they forgot the hold part or more likely they simply don't have the boots to hold anything, much less prevent the insurgents from melting away again. Time after time, our troops have bravely fought and died for this failed tactic and in the end all they have to show for it is a few empty rooms with a pathetic collection of small arms and the occassional implements of torture left behind like a mash note from a serial killer taunting the police for failing to catch him.
This offensive is destined to become a disaster on every level but at least it will finally bring some truth to Condi's lie way back in 9/02.
On Tuesday afternoon, a Stryker company tried to blaze a path through the road believed to be full of buried bombs by firing a line-charge, a cable festooned with explosions. The hope was that the explosion would cut the wires that the Qaeda fighters use to set off the blasts.
After a delay in getting the line-charge to detonate, the weapon went off. There was a resounding thud and the skies over Baquba were smeared by a spiraling mushroom cloud.
Condi is finally right. We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud and we sure as hell don't want to be the ones holding that gun in our own hands. We can argue until doomsday about how to define victory in Iraq but as long as we're causing more damage than we presumably are trying to prevent -- everybody loses.