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Iraq
Fall-out with Sunnis has Zarqawi running for cover
2006-03-11
Insurgent groups in one of Iraq's most violent provinces claim that they have purged the region of three quarters of al-Qa'eda's supporters after forming an alliance to force out the foreign fighters.

If true, it would mark a significant victory in the fight against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qa'eda in Iraq, and could partly explain the considerable drop in suicide bombings in Iraq recently.

"We have killed a number of the Arabs, including Saudis, Egyptians, Syrians, Kuwaitis and Jordanians," said an insurgent representative in the western province of Anbar.

The claims were partly supported by the defence ministry, which said it had evidence that Zarqawi and his followers were fleeing Anbar to cities and mountains near the Iranian border.

It is this move that is believed to have prompted a statement a fortnight ago from the insurgent groups in the central city of Hawija that they were declaring war on al-Qae'da. It is being interpreted by intelligence experts as a response to an unwanted influx of foreign fighters seeking refuge. Iraq's Sunni Muslim insurgents had originally welcomed al-Qa'eda into the country, seeing it as a powerful ally in its fight against the American occupation.

But relations became strained when insurgents supported calls for Sunnis to vote in last December's election, a move they saw as essential to break the Shia hold on government but which al-Qa'eda viewed as a form of collaboration. It became an outright split when a wave of bombings killed scores of people in Anbar resulting in a spate of tit-for-tat killings.

In reaction, the insurgent groups formed their own anti-al-Qa'eda militia, the Anbar Revolutionaries. The group has a core membership of 100 people, all of whom had relatives killed by al-Qa'eda. It is led by Ahmed Ftaikhan, a former Saddam-era military intelligence officer.

It claims to have killed 20 foreign fighters and 33 Iraqi sympathisers. Many more are said to have fled. The United States has confirmed that six of Zarqawi's deputies were killed in Ramadi.

Osama al-Jadaan, a tribal chief, has claimed that with the support of the Iraqi army his supporters have captured hundreds of foreign fighters, and has sought to prevent jihadis entering the country from Syria.
Posted by:Dan Darling

#8  Interesting post, AlterEgo. Keep it up.

nb: Fred accepts Paypal, that Amazon thingy, or cash in the mail. Go for it! ;-)
Posted by: trailing wife   2006-03-11 22:21  

#7  No argument from me, AlterEgo. The logistical, doctrinal and political issues you raise would have required tactics that we're using now selectively, but which raise great resentment among many Iraqis. 4-5 times the troops there would have done so even more, without (as you noted cogently) guaranteeing we could have prevented / controlled the insurgency very much better than we have.

Ultimately we can set the conditions for Iraqi freedom, but they have to put it into action.

America is blessed to possess the finest military force in history

You'll get no argument from this wife of a retired career officer. ;-)
Posted by: lotp   2006-03-11 22:02  

#6  Sorry the last excessive post was me and concerns the option of placing 600,oo boots in Iraq.A few problems with edicting,lost parts of it twice
Posted by: AlterEgo   2006-03-11 21:24  

#5  
This is an option but it is a basically a "putting all your eggs in one basket option"
Why?
The option is based on the belief that with 600,000 combat troops one would overwhelm the Iraqi resistance thereby:
1) ending it quickly or
2) rendering it insignificant/politically acceptable losses(one is too many for myself)
However there was a couple opposing factors:
1) The Bush Administration was operating under the belief that they would basically be welcomed in large parts of Iraq (as seen by their original choice to head the occupation, LtGen Garner).
2) Current military doctrine is based on maneuver warfare, using our superior training/technology as a force multiplier (being more places, more powerful with a "much less" logistic train).It is what our forces have trained for and is the best at.
3) With today’s current forces putting 600,000 boots in Iraq is much easier said done. To accomplish this would require using a major portion of our active global forces(stripping them from some other needed places) and the activation of a very large portion civilian reserves for replacement/needed Iraq Force support(remember much of the '90s force reduction was transferring these functions to the National Guard).
Could we have done it, yes, but would it have accomplished reducing the resistance to at least an acceptable loss (the political left would howl about the loss of one but I believe you mean like me the excessive sickening loss of Coalition and civilian lives).
In this scenario the presence of large forces would permit the physical garrisoning/patrolling of Iraq. The resistance in larger areas would be faced with superior firepower and their lines of logistics/communications would be disrupted. It is also is possible that such a force would discourage much of the resistance from forming.
Would it work, maybe.
Factors working against short term resistance resolution:
1) It would require months to activate/transit/supply the forces. The resistance lives there and already have their stuff.
2)600,000 boots does not mean 600,000 combat troops. It takes many soldiers to service those on the pointed end of the stick. Today every soldier is a combat trooper that was not the case then.(lack of armor plating/insufficient small training for logistic forces). More forces in more places means more target of opportunities against logistic/protection forces. It is reasonable to expect proportional losses to increase force size. Would this have been politically viable?
3) Failure to understand Sunni/Arab character:
A) Sunnis are not Nazis. The have been on the top so long that can not imagine being on the bottom (a view shared by many in the west” if we leave the sunni/baathist will be back in power tomorrow”. What foolishness, if we left the summer of ’03 the Shiite and Kurds would’ve slaughtered the Sunni but if the west believed it why not the Sunnis.
B) Combat forces are trained to fight with superior firepower and mobility (simply put pin it – move – kill it).This doctrine is not as effective because firstly, it is difficult to id on non uniform opposition and fails to take into account the Arab character. Two words to desribe Arab culture-Honor and fatalistic. Insh’allah (as god wills it) is the viewpoint of those who fight. Honor to ethnic/family/etc. or revenge compel them to fight. Sunnis.Revenge, war is not clean; innocents get caught in the crossfire compelling Iraqis to seek revenge. More combat troops may very well increase support for insurgents due to crossfire. It took a sadist brutal Saddam to force the Iraqis to swallow their honor. Not an option for the Coalition.
Factors working against long term resistance reduction:
Will keep this short since I already owe Fred a car in bandwidth usage
1) War breaks equipment. Needed repair/maintenance/retrofit is presently accomplished during rotation, some repairs/maintenance require specialized facilities. Many retrofits were accomplished while gear was stateside/Established foreign bases.
2) Soldiers are human beings. Reading the mil-blogs one see the emotional stress or joy at midpoint of tour our forces endure. We could not ask multi-year combat deployments of our best yet it would be necessary since we do not have the reserves to replace them.
3) Political Correctness.600,000 boots would not deal better with Sadr or discourage support for insurgent/al queda.
4) Political viability. I am sorry to say this but America would not tolerate a long term massive deployment of forces (“sorry boss my guard has been called up for a few years” or”I only see my child/spouse/parent 2 weeks a year”).
600,000 may have reduced the short term resistance but it would have reduced the militaries options and may very well have increased the problems.
Unfortunately, it requires an Iraqi forces/solution to finally solve the resistance and that takes time.
Fred, I apologize for the length but second guessing our forces really frustrates me (no offense perfesser/lopt).
IMHO America is blessed to possess the finest military force in history and global society should kiss its ass in gratitude
Posted by: Glert Clomoger8136   2006-03-11 21:19  

#4  Only way is to see how things fare... and frankly, under what conditions the USG will actually determine are sufficient for getting out.
Posted by: Whumble Whater5278   2006-03-11 18:43  

#3  agreed...600,000 US boots would have been a 2-edged sword.
Posted by: anymouse   2006-03-11 15:37  

#2  That's my suspicion too, Prof.
Posted by: lotp   2006-03-11 09:57  

#1  I wonder how this would have turned out if we had a 600,000 U.S. boots on the ground. I'll admit I've on occasion lapsed into tirades (not here) about overthtrowing Saddam "on the cheap," but I have a hard time believing that we could have gotton the Sunnis to see anyone but the U.S. as an enemy if we had gone the McCain/Powell/Shali route of "overwhelming force."
Posted by: Perfessor   2006-03-11 09:49  

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