View Full Version : Casualties, the Election, and Insurgency - A “Red Team” View

01-10-2006, 04:25 PM
From CSIS: Casualties, the Election, and Insurgency - A “Red Team” View (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/060106_redteam.pdf)

There is no certain way to know the motives behind the latest wave of attacks in Iraq, but there are good reasons for such attacks as seen from the viewpoint of hard-line insurgents. The efforts to form an inclusive coalition government are underway, and one key insurgent objective is to block the creation of a stable coalition that includes Arab Sunnis, Arab Shi'ites, and Kurds.

Bloody attacks on Shi'ites are a key way to do this. So is attempting to discredit the whole process of governance by exploiting the recent rise in fuel and gas prices and attacking/threatening refineries to make things much worse. At least for the near term, the primary goal of hard-line insurgents is logically to disrupt coalition building and discredit the government.

This, however, is only part of the strategy hard-line insurgent will logically follow. They also need to maintain their Sunni base and attack/discredit Sunnis moving towards compromise. This did not make sense during the elections. Security was at an all time peak that US and Iraqi forces could not sustain.

Giving Arab Sunnis legislative power made sense as long as those elected used it to check Shi'ite power and limit coalition building. Zarqawi and Al Qa'ida still opposed the elections, but it made more sense to wait and intimidate the Sunnis who gained office, exploit charges of election fraud, and make it clear that it was safe to oppose coalitions and compromise within the political system, but not to oppose it.

If one "red teams" insurgent motives, there are also reasons for insurgents to be more optimistic about what they can accomplish during the coming year:

—They still can mount large numbers of attacks. The Coalition forces stress that the number of attacks has risen, but that successes have dropped. It is far from clear this is true about success if one considers the impact of the attacks, and the key point is that the insurgents are still strong enough for the number of attacks to increase.

—Some key aspects of the fracture lines between Sunni and Shi'ite are growing. The Arab Sunni vs. Arab Shi'ite and Kurd tensions in the security forces are more serious, although the US and UK have made major efforts to control and ease them. Sectarian divisions within the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior continue to grow. The new army is becoming steadily more Shi'ite and there are growing problems in promoting Sunni officers. The police remains divided along sectarian and ethnic lines. These problems are being increased by rushing new Iraqi units into the field, many in areas where they create sectarian friction. (There seems to have been some manipulation of readiness data to get the number of battalions with level 3 and level 2 readiness up to 50. Low quality units may have been added somewhat prematurely to the level 3 readiness total in spite of poor quality and experience.)

—The election has been highly controversial among Sunnis, with all kinds of charges and conspiracy theories. Many who voted, voted against the constitution and as a check to the growth of Shi'ite and Kurdish power.

—The new Coalition will inherently be unstable even if it does include the one Sunni group that seems willing to compromise. There will be at least 6-8 months in which ongoing political debates occur over federation, control of oil resources and revenues, power of taxation, allocation of government funds, role of religion in government and law, and virtually every other "hot button" issue.

This does not mean the insurgents — particular radical insurgents like Zarqawi and Al Qa'ida — are winning. There is no charismatic Iraqi Sunni leader, there is only limited foreign support, the hard-line insurgents are a distinct minority within the Sunni majority, and most of the successes in building new Iraq forces are real.

But, outsiders should understand that for many insurgents, the immediate goal is not to be able to win, or implement a given program (most have no coherent practical program). It is rather to deny victory and success to the newly elected Iraqi government and push the US and Coalition out in a war of attrition. From a "red team" view, this must still seem all too possible and the insurgents seem to be acting on this strategy.

Tom Odom
01-11-2006, 02:50 PM
The fact is we gamed this out in 1990-1991 and set our campaign objectives accordingly.