Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Over the last two years, I've said that we need to atomize the enemy in Iraq. As long as the enemy can mass in company-sized units, they can overrun police stations. If they can mass in platoon strength, they can wipe out road blocks and patrols.

If Iraqi patrols, road blocks, and police stations can't hold alone, it is more likely that more sophisticated forces with tanks and artillery and air power will be needed to fight the enemy. Right now, that's US forces.

Make it so that the enemy can only gather squads or fire teams, and low tech Iraqi light infantry and police can fight the enemy effectively. Iraqis can provide reaction teams to reinforce threatened Iraqi units.

If the Iraqis can fight effectively, we can pull back sooner into large bases to deter Iranian attack until the Iraqi army defeats the insurgency and then builds up conventional defenses.

Strategypage writes:

July 18, 2005: Normally, guerilla warfare strategy is to start out small, escalating attacks and operations until the insurgents have gained enough popular support and recruited enough fighters that regular military units can be formed that are able to defeat enemy troops on equal terms. In Iraq, this is playing out in reverse. The current “insurgents” started out over two years ago as the Iraqi army and security forces. This crew, led by the Baath Party, had the support of most of the population via an ongoing terror campaign that convinced people that disloyalty was not worth the risk. Right after Saddam’s crowd was driven from power in early 2003, many of Saddam’s core supporters, members of his security forces, and Sunni Arabs in general, continued to fight. But over the last two years, the number of Sunni Arabs supporting the fight declined. Increasingly, the attacks were carried out by foreign Sunni Arabs. Since the guerilla warfare process is rarely tried in reverse, there’s not a lot of research available on how it will all turn out. It would appear that the Baath Party and al Qaeda terrorists, if they continue to make themselves unpopular by killing Iraqi civilians, will eventually disappear.

This seems about right. Attacks per day are still there in the numbers of a year ago but they are more likely to be suicide bombers by the jihadis than the Baathists who are declining in importance.

So the enemy is descending the escalation ladder. We are atomizing them and making them easier to fight even as we also increase the capability of the Iraqi military and security forces to fight them. Training Iraqis is important, but relative strength is most important, and we've done a good job of working on both ends of the equation.

Pretty soon the Iraqi insurgency will be distributing pamphlets, bitching on internet web sites, and painting "Romans go home" on the Colliseum walls.