View Full Version : In the Battle for Baghdad, U.S. Turns War on Insurgents

02-26-2006, 06:08 AM
26 Feb. Washington Post - In the Battle for Baghdad, U.S. Turns War on Insurgents (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/25/AR2006022501738.html) By Tom Ricks.

... Interviews with U.S. soldiers -- from top generals to front-line grunts in Tall Afar, Mosul, Ramadi, Balad and throughout Baghdad -- as well as briefings at the U.S. military headquarters for the Middle East in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, reveal a markedly different war from that seen in 2003 and 2004, or even last year.

Current U.S. military commanders say they have come to understand that they are fighting within a political context, which means the results must first be judged politically. The pace and shape of the war also have changed, with U.S. forces trying to exercise tactical patience and shift responsibilities to Iraqi forces, even as they worry that the American public's patience may be dwindling.

The war also has changed geographically. Over the last three years, it has developed a pattern of moving around the country, from Fallujah to Najaf to Mosul and Samarra and back to Fallujah. Last summer and fall it was focused in Tall Afar, in the northwest, and in the upper Euphrates, in the remote western part of Anbar province near Syria.

This year the war seems to hinge on the battle for Baghdad. Inside the capital, that promises to be primarily a political fight over the makeup of the future government of Iraq -- and whether it can prevent a civil war, a threat that appeared much more likely this week with the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra and retaliatory attacks on Sunni mosques and clerics.

U.S. officials don't talk much about the prospects of civil war. It is unclear what role the United States would play if such a war broke out, but military strategists said American forces would be used to try to minimize violence but not to actually intervene between warring groups...

02-26-2006, 06:57 AM
26 Feb. Washington Post - An End to the Soft Sell By the British in Basra (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/24/AR2006022402380.html) by Jonathan Finer.

In a region long insulated from the rampant unrest in Iraq, relations between British forces and local leaders have deteriorated sharply in recent weeks as violence has escalated in and around this southeastern city, military commanders and residents said.

A series of damaging incidents began in September with an attempt by British troops to forcibly free two of their soldiers from a local prison, and escalated when they arrested 14 Iraqi police officers last month. In late January, a roadside bomb in nearby Umm Qasr killed the 100th British service member to die in the Iraq war. Less than two weeks later, the release of a two-year-old video showing British soldiers battering Iraqi boys sparked several small but angry demonstrations...

Gone are the days when British forces, who came to Basra during the 2003 invasion, won wide praise for their less confrontational approach, patrolling city streets in floppy berets and soft-skinned vehicles -- which they still use, though not as often. As they prepare to transfer more responsibility for security to Iraqi forces, the British acknowledge that their methods have failed to prevent the rise of the militia groups -- many of them linked to mainstream political parties -- that they now consider the region's greatest security threat.

Troops in Iraq's second largest city, which sits on the Shatt al-Arab River, Iraq's gateway to the sea, are fighting a different type of insurgency from that faced by American forces battling Sunni and foreign militants elsewhere in the country. In the Shiite-majority south, British commanders say, the enemy is harder to identify and is often closely associated with the Iraqi security forces that the British are training...