View Full Version : Looking at the Surge From the Other Side

01-26-2007, 07:13 AM
26 January Washington Post commentary - Looking at the Surge From the Other Side (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/25/AR2007012501384.html) by Gary Anderson.

Policy Memo From the Planning Directorate, Mahdi Army:

We have completed a review of the new American surge strategy announced by their president. In analyzing possible courses of action, we must make two key assumptions.

First, it represents their administration's last chance to change course given the reported mood of the American public and their legislature. For us, this presents both opportunity and danger. We have to assume that we are the primary Shiite target of this plan. How we respond will largely determine how we position ourselves for operations after the Americans are gone.

Second, our Sunni adversaries will not be able to react in a coordinated manner; they are expected to remain divided in their actions and motivations...

Col. Gary Anderson (USMC Ret.) is a consultant with Hicks and Associates (who I work for in my day job) and conducts red teaming (Defense Adaptive Red Team - DART) for the Department of Defense.

01-26-2007, 01:20 PM
Interesting article, and I think he has the main options covered. There is, however, a fourth option that he doesn't mention that may also be worth looking at. Historically, the Shiites haven't hesitated to use children in combat settings (e.g. the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980's). I we also consider that the Mahdi Army is using fairly classic recruitment techniques, then they will recruit unblooded youngsters who are all fired up.

The fourth option would be to take a fair number of these youngsters with, maybe, a few C&C people, withdraw their main force and leave he kids behind to find "Glory". This has several effects. First, it means they don't have to train a number of hard to train kids. Second, it gives them some really gruesome images of Americans killing children to further their IO campaign in the US. Third, it gives them martyrs and more leverage to call blood fued. The costs are minimal while the returns are high.


Rob Thornton
01-26-2007, 05:51 PM
I don't know. While Sadr and crew are politically astute in many ways - he has to balance what he wants with maintaining devotion and attracting new recruits. I think he's scared that his power base will fragment if the government has some success in establishing securities and services. I've also wondered why the violence between Shiite and Sunni seems viral. If the epidemic loses steam where will Sadr stand. Also, how much does he believe what he has built himself up to be?

The policy memo seems too western - its too logical by our standards.

01-26-2007, 10:55 PM
I just finished watching Pat Lang (Sic Semper Tyrannis (http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/)) on the Wolf Blitzer show at CNN. He said it was well known that there are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF THE IRANIAN REVOLUTIONARY GUARD IN IRAQ! Does anybody know for sure if that is true?

Rob Thornton
01-27-2007, 06:01 AM
Slapout, that is an awufully large number - I'd like to hear them pin it down. I hear rumors about Iranian agents and assassination teams, but even the IA numbers are no where near that big. How would they support so many - not on the economy, how would they get their instructions to so many without attacting attention? Where do they live? I think its closer to the truth to say that Iran has a significant capabilitiy here in manners that we are not particularly good at countering. They are here to either help make Iraq into a client state relationship which gives them room and furthers their goals, or they are here to set Iraq so far back that they will be a non-factor as Iran tries to reach its goals. They'd like the hydrocarbon resources, but if they can't have it they don't want a neighbor who can challenge them.

I don't think they need real large numbers to do that, maybe a few small hitman cells with good intel. They would not be here to challenge the CF directly (it'd draw too much attention), instead they'd find the out of work professionals who basically stay at home, or work odd jobs, and assassinate them. Its easier because the garden variety AIF keep the CF more or less confined to the MSRs. Lots of people turn up dead here that CF don't track any deeper then the numbers - they don't have the resources and it becomes white noise in the background of IEDs and mortar attacks. If this is happening, then its a very efective tactic and we are missing the boat - its much harder to bring about the type of stability we envision if all the smart people are in the morgue.

How do you combat this? Develop capabilities in the ISF that focus on securing the people not the MSRs/ASRs, not the CF. Create a HUMINT capability that is covert and operates with the same advantages the bad guys use. Have them patrol more inside the neighborhoods with the uniformed assets. Execute an IO campaign that talks about the real threats and develops a larger common fear vs. mutual distrust. Whatever the number of Iranians operating inside of Iraq to further their own goals, they are/have been doing so with a great deal of freedom as long as they don't challenge the CF - its hard to tell one Iraq victim from another in terms of why they were killed - we just don't have the resources.

01-27-2007, 03:21 PM
Rob, I agree that would be a large force to hide. Pat Lang posted the transcript form the interview on his website and I went back and double checked the numbers. He flat out says hundreds of thousands:confused: Why he believes that or his exact source of his information is not revealed but if there are that many that surely changes the situation.

Your comment on counter measures is dead on! Get some undercover brothers and secret sisters out there with some cell phones:wry: and beat them at there own game.

As usual for your listening pleasure and cultural enhancement.