View Full Version : Iraqi-U.S. Forces Aim To Win By Not Doing Battle

Rob Thornton
06-18-2008, 12:35 PM
I thought this was an interesting story. I think it fits better under OIF IO as it get to how the ISF is sending a message.

Here is part, more at the link:

USA Today
June 18, 2008
Pg. 9 (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2008-06-18-iraqnews_N.htm)

raqi-U.S. Forces Aim To Win By Not Doing Battle

Today's deadline for surrender of al-Sadr's militia a test of strategy

By Charles Levinson, USA Today

AMARAH, Iraq — When Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki went on TV last Saturday, he told the militants in this southern city they have until today to surrender or face battle on Thursday.

"The government doesn't want a big battle and a lot of bloodshed, so they tell the enemy beforehand," says Gen. Hussein al-Awadi, who is in charge of the paramilitary force of 40,000. "If we can do this without fighting, the people will support us more."

For the Iraqi government, giving the enemy plenty of warning and allowing top militia leaders to slip away has become the preferred approach. That was done this year in successive offensives against al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia in Basra, Sadr City and Mosul.

The tactic has advantages and shows that the Iraqi government grasps the fundamentals of battling an insurgency, in which winning the hearts and minds of the people is more important than capturing the enemy, U.S. officials say.

It gives Iraqi leaders time to ward off the enemy without a fight and avoid civilian casualties that can erode public support.

As you read the USA Today Story consider:

-how telegraphing is considered by the Iraqi Population

-how telegraphing is considered by the enemy

-how the ISF views the enemy (do they see them as a hardened enemy, or do they see them as Grant saw many of the rebels at Vicksburg? as indicated in his memoirs)

- how telegraphing might be considered by a regional audience

-how telegraphing is might be considered by U.S. units a few years ago

-how the U.S. advisor in the story considers it now

-how does it benefit the Iraqi government's domestic and international legitimacy to use the carrot made possible by using the stick?

There are differences in all I think. One significant thing the story does not cover is how you get to a point where your force is credible enough to convince the enemy he is better served to abandon his fight. Its not purely a matter of being bigger, or even past actions which have increased your reputation, but it also has to do with what those actions do with regard to your base of support. One thing we might consider is inquiring to both the local population and those members of militant groups willing to discuss why they might leave or abandon their cause - what is influencing them? Is resistance no longer a viable or desirable action? why?

One of the differences is in our perspectives. The Iraqis see a different set of stakes (or maybe its just they see the stakes differently) - after all they are the ones who live there and will remain long after we are gone.

Why do people commit to armed resistance? Why do they stop? We've not really thought much about this directly, but we've talked allot about it around the margins. I think a better understanding is key. I know it gets subjective quickly, but its a question that all to often is not asked until after the fact.

Best, Rob

06-18-2008, 02:56 PM
Rob, this is a fascinating story, thanks for posting it. Is there any published work that discusses this approach? It seems a very interesting approach, and quite possibly more fruitful than what we have currently been up to. How is this received generally by our military leadership? I can see the approach being well outside of the comfort zone of many senior leaders.

06-19-2008, 02:30 AM
I'll start it off...

Why do people commit to armed resistance?

Their way of life and things they value are threatened enough to decide for armed conflict (not to be confused with total war).
Desire to acquire or maintain higher needs such as power and/or wealth (deadly and dangerous endeavor).
They are conscripted.

Why do they stop?

Their way of life and things they value are no longer threatened enough for armed conflict (not to be confused with victory).
Failing at acquiring or maintaining higher needs such as power and/or wealth at some point (killed, maimed, flight, or captured).
They lose the will to fight.