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    Default CSIS: Securing Baghdad

    Securing Baghdad: Understanding and Covering the Operation

    ...a short paper, but here's a few key excerpts:
    ...there are several points that observers of this operation need to consider:

    - Prior operations and the changing security problem: The operation comes after a major sweep of al Qa'ida and insurgent cells in Baghdad and the country. It builds on previous success. At the same time, the "red" or dangerous areas in Baghdad have crept back to at least the size they were in early 2005. Senior Iraqi officials make it clear that they also see the threat as both insurgent and a mix of militias and local security forces.

    - The problem of force ratios: ...Regardless of the numbers, even 80,000 men would be a small force in terms of the total population and area to be covered....for an operation to have real meaning, and produce sustainable results, it has to go far beyond manning check points, establishing a visible presence, and creating the image of security. These are politically important, but they also will be hollow if they are the core of the operations. Insurgents and militias can simply wait out the operations, bury their arms, shift to targets in other areas, and operate around and outside the checkpoints and areas where forces are present.

    - What does matter -- Focused operations: ...the real impact will consist of active operations in the "red" or high threat areas that directly attack insurgent targets on which there is good intelligence, and efforts to disarm, disperse, or directly control the militias.

    - Credibility and restraint: The public side of the operation needs to do as much as possible to restore Iraqi faith in US operations, the MOI forces, and the police.

    - Phasing the operation and dealing with the militias: ...Prime Minister Maliki has been very clear about the need to bring militias under control, and their has been some discussion of relocating some elements, giving them jobs, disarming them, etc. They cannot be treated in the same way as the
    insurgents, but they must be dealt with. Moreover, the clear litmus test is Sadr City and the Mahdi militia. Any operation that does not deal with this problem cannot bring security or stability to Baghdad.

    - Follow-up and persistence: ...No matter how successful this operation appears to be, or is claimed to be, it will only have meaning if Iraqi police and the Iraqi government establish a lasting presence and control in red areas.

    - The limits to what can be done: ...Victory in Baghdad will always have its limits until there is a much broader defeat of insurgents and a political process that that Arab Shi'ites, Arab Sunnis, Kurds, and others can support. There cannot be a lasting military or security victory in Baghdad without such developments.

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    Default Operations in Baghdad and Elsewhere

    Over on Strategypage, where I often post, I've had an argument with an Israeli gentleman where I've suggested that Moqtada Sadr's militias and the Badr Brigades have a bullseye upon them.

    I wonder if my thoughts are, in fact, true? I wonder if, despite Maliki's journey south to Basra and this most recent announcement of intent, whether their government will possess the will to face the source of Iraq's real problems- shia militias and the gun culture underlying this which has led to vigilante/vendetta atmosphere that has spiked violence far beyond that which is simply attributable to the Sunni insurgency or Al Qaeda? Or the cover which the militias provide to common criminals acting in alliances of convenience with these militias? One doesn't need much imagination to understand the internal stress that active operations will place upon the shia and sunni representatives within their coalition government.

    I do know this much. Their government's credibility is more at stake than ever, based upon this proclaimation to restore security in Baghdad. Our president had best understand that BAGHDAD is where OUR media is entrenched. It is therefore from Baghdad that results must be derived to establish some baseline credibility between the Iraqi government and the American people.

    Certainly, one day does not define an ongoing security operation of this magnitude, but down where the rubber meets the road I'd wonder if it isn't more business as usual. Frankly, active combat against insurgents in the western suburbs and militias within Sadr City would indicate the aggressive determination of the Iraqi and American forces. Nothing else. We would expect nothing less of the insurgents and militias than extreme resistance if faced with their survival.

    Question is, will they indeed be facing a fight for their continued existance? I rather doubt it, though hope I'm wrong.

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    Default Some early tangible results from raising the force to space in Baghdad

    CNN:

    Iraqi troops Wednesday uncovered a kidnapping ring, seized weapons -- including three rockets -- and defused two roadside bombs after beginning a security clampdown on the often lawless streets of Baghdad.

    In the first day of the new government's push to restore order in the capital, Iraqi troops also enforced a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. and issued a weapons ban for civilians.

    Four insurgents were detained at one checkpoint after three people emerged from a car "screaming for help," said Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.

    "We found eight people that had been kidnapped now for four days that we were able to return back under control of the Iraqi government," Caldwell said. "They worked for an electrical company down south of Baghdad."

    ...
    I think it will have an effect. Whether 80,000 is enough may be a question, but I don't think Saddam needed more than that to keep control. His methods were, however, much more brutal and terrifying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Merv Benson
    I think it will have an effect. Whether 80,000 is enough may be a question, but I don't think Saddam needed more than that to keep control. His methods were, however, much more brutal and terrifying.
    Saddam had a much stronger security forces-to-population ratio, which consisted of concentric rings of watchers watching watchers. Each ring consisted of a blend of military, "law" enforcement and intelligence elements. Not to mention the ranks of informants, which, although they may not have reached East German levels, was still a formidable operation. I had the very interesting opportunity to view Saddam's Baghdad up close when I worked with UNSCOM in the mid-'90s. Think of Moscow under Stalin.

    Having so many individuals with a depth of experiencing in running HUMINT and technical collection ops against their own people in their own country certainly provided the Sunni Arab insurgents with a certain advantage from the get-go. The Kurds, having essentially fought a vicious CI battle with the Mukhabarat since gaining autonomy during Provide Comfort, have developed a significant degree of expertise within their AO at foiling their ops. The Shi'a, having been constantly under the thumb of Saddam until OIF, never developed an equivalent CI capability. The new Iraqi regime still faces a significant challenge in developing an integrated CI capability that can meet the insurgent threat, but is still suitable for an emerging democracy. In fighting off the threat, we don't want to end up recreating the building blocks of dictatorship.

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    Default Insurgent Leadership vs. soldiers

    The sunni insurgent leadership will certainly take measures to "go to ground". However, their "soldiers" will have a much harder time doing so, I would think, if faced by the appearance of strong Iraqi Army/U.S. Army forces in their neighborhoods. If the checkpoints are indeed pervasive, coupled by our active patrolling of these neighborhoods, combat should ensue.

    Moreover, while the Sunni insurgency is a long term endemic issue, which means that their forces and key operatives may do as much as possible to avoid combat, I can't imagine the same for Sadr City, nor it's militias, who derive their power by their open control of this huge ghetto. Both the Mahdi Army and the Badr Brigades must be confronted and fought. They will, no doubt, lose and attempt exfiltration from Baghdad if confronted. This means following them south to Najaf and Basra.

    My expectation is for this to happen. I can't imagine a facade of control existing for long in any circumstance short of bringing the militias, who are much more visible, to battle. High time it occurs, should it finally happen. Otherwise our commanders are kidding themselves on this latest endeavor.

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    Default

    Item: - Phasing the operation and dealing with the militias:...Prime Minister Maliki has been very clear about the need to bring militias under control, and their has been some discussion of relocating some elements, giving them jobs, disarming them, etc. They cannot be treated in the same way as the insurgents, but they must be dealt with. Moreover, the clear litmus test is Sadr City and the Mahdi militia. Any operation that does not deal with this problem cannot bring security or stability to Baghdad.

    BBC: Dozens Killed in Baghdad Attacks
    Gunmen in the Iraqi capital Baghdad have killed at least 40 people at a fake police checkpoint, in an apparent sectarian attack against Sunni Muslims.

    Police say Shia militants stopped cars in the western Jihad district, separated Sunnis and shot them...
    Al Jazeera: Shia militia kills dozens in Baghdad
    ...The victims were gathered together, Sunnis were then separated according to the names on their identity cards and killed after about an hour, said Maitham Abdul-Razzaq, an Iraqi police lieutenant.

    An Iraqi interior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, said Shia militiamen wearing masks and black uniforms also roamed through the area, grabbing people from the street...
    We are very damn close to the tipping point between fighting the insurgency and the outbreak of full-fledged sectarian warfare. Although both the coalition and the nascent Iraqi government have taken measures to interdict this drop into the abyss, too many missed opportunities and a lack of operational focus continues to channel actions in that direction.

    If you haven't give it a read already, I recommend a once-over of Dr. Terrill's Strategic Implications of Intercommunal Warfare in Iraq, published last Feb by SSI.

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    Default Battle for Baghdad: Grab A Slice at a Time

    26 July New York Times - Battle for Baghdad Boils Down to Grabbing a Slice at a Time by Michael Gordon.

    The Bush administration’s announcement on Tuesday that it will shift more forces to Baghdad is much more than a numbers game. It reflects a new strategy to reclaim control of the Iraqi capital and a new approach for deploying the troops.

    The plan is to concentrate on specific neighborhoods rather than distribute the forces throughout the city, control movement in and out of sectors of the capital and try to sweep them of insurgents and violent militias.

    In effect, the scheme is a version of the “ink blot” counterinsurgency strategy of grabbing a piece of terrain, stabilizing it and gradually expanding it. Only this time the objective is not a far-flung Iraqi city or town, but the capital, the seat of the fledgling government and home to some seven million Iraqis.

    The plan has risks. It will divert American military police from deploying to Anbar Province, where the insurgency continues to rage. And an increased presence of American troops on the ground in Baghdad, where insurgent attacks have soared, carries the potential of more American casualties.

    But Baghdad in military parlance is the “center of gravity” for the larger effort to secure the country...

    By securing the city a sector at a time, American and Iraqi commanders hope to allow the Iraqi government to restore essential services and build support and legitimacy among an anxious public.

    Once the areas are stabilized, the Iraqi police are to be brought in to maintain control, freeing the American and Iraqi military to extend their reach elsewhere. The Iraqi police are to be accompanied by American military police, who will act as advisers and trainers.

    The Americans and the Iraqis are likely to start with the easiest sectors, calculating that they need to demonstrate a measure of success before taking on the most contested areas. Even as they expand their control the American and Iraqi forces will maintain the ability to conduct raids in less secure areas of the city.

    The war is a contest of moves and countermoves, and the insurgents and the militias that the new American and Iraqi forces will confront can be expected to strike back...

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    Default Iraq: Troops Flood Baghdad In Security Push (TAKE-2)

    So we have this happening 2 times in the past 30 days. Should not be a surprise to anyone.

    Below is the announcment from 14 June news article.

    Iraq: Troops Flood Baghdad In Security Push

    The Iraqi government has ordered thousands of extra troops onto the streets of Baghdad and tightened security measures in a fresh bid to curb violence in the capital.

    June 14, 2006 (RFE/RL) – The newly formed Iraqi government today visibly stepped up the presence of Iraqi Army soldiers on the streets of the capital, Baghdad. It has also extended the hours of curfew and banned unauthorized citizens from carrying guns outside their homes.

    The measures, introduced one day after they were announced, are to reassure the capital's residents of the new government's determination to tackle insurgents, to crack down on warring Sunni and Shi'a militiamen, and to reduce crime.

    Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki says his new initiative will "provide security and confront terrorism and ... enable Iraqis to live in peace in Baghdad."

    "No mercy toward those who show no mercy to our people." -- Iraqi Prime Minister al-MalikiHe also promised the security forces would be "very tough" and would show "no mercy toward those who show no mercy to our people."

    Today the increased security presence in the streets is clear, with more checkpoints, longer queues of cars at checkpoints, and more troops visible on the streets.

    However, some groups of gunmen have resisted the security sweep, with some violence reported in the north of Baghdad, particularly in the Al-Adhamiya district, where gunmen and security forces clashed. The Al-Adhamiya district is considered to be an insurgent stronghold and one of the most dangerous areas in the capital.

    Clear Rules, Unclear Enemies

    The new security campaign, dubbed "Going Forward Together," is the first such initiative launched by the new government since it took office a month ago.

    The government said on July 13 that operation will involve more than 40,000 Iraqi and U.S.-led forces. U.S. forces are, however, reported to be taking a low-profile role.

    The operation comes just a week after U.S. forces killed the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Mu'sab al-Zarqawi.

    Al-Zarqawi's successor, identified as Abu Hamza al-Mujahir, is reported to have vowed revenge and to defeat "crusaders" and Shi'a" in Iraq.

    A key aspect of the operation will be to reduce the number of unauthorized -- and often unidentifiable -- men carrying guns in the city.

    General Abd al-Aziz Mohammad Jassem, Iraq's combined-forces operations chief, said that "anybody on the street, in his car or in his shop caught with a weapon, any kind of weapon, will be considered a terrorist" and "will be killed or captured."

    Ordinary Iraqis say the problem of unknown, armed men roaming Baghdad cannot be overstated.

    The gunmen include not only insurgents and criminals but also members of armed forces associated with various government ministries. The guards are often recruited from members or sympathizers of the armed wings of the political party that holds the ministry.

    Elements in some of these forces are suspected of taking part in the ###-for-tat violence between Sunni and Shi'ite militias.

    Doubts About The New Measures

    It is unclear how the new security operation can crack down on such forces given their close ties to ruling parties.

    Major General Mahdi al-Gharrawi, the commander of public order forces under the Interior Ministry, has however said there are plans for a single uniform to distinguish legitimate security officers.

    As part of the security campaign, the nighttime curfew in the capital is being extended by two and-a-half hours, to run from 8:30 p.m. until 6 a.m. In effect, Baghdad residents must now remain indoors from dusk to dawn.

    The exact number of people who die in Baghdad daily from insurgent attacks, sectarian killings, and shootings and kidnappings by criminal gangs is unknown.

    But the scale of the killing is suggested by the number of bodies brought to Baghdad's central morgue.

    Doctors at the morgue at Bab al-Mu'atham, near the city center, say they have been receiving more than 1,000 bodies each month this year.

    A doctor at the morgue, Kais Hassan, says that is three to five times higher than the number received prior to 2003, when U.S.-led forces toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein.
    Last edited by SWJED; 07-26-2006 at 02:07 PM.

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    Default The Baghdad Problem

    From CSIS, 26 Jul 06: The Gains and Risks in Sending in More US Troops
    ...The US and Iraqi forces are unlikely to be able to do more than buy time in Baghdad, or anywhere else, unless they can operate in a climate where there is a major move towards a new political bargain between Iraq's factions, where people can see reconciliation working at least at the top, and there is hope that the government is finally becoming effective. The political dimension must move in tandem with the military and security dimensions, and it is not. The fact that Iraqis voted to divide by sect and ethnicity—Arab Sunni, Arab Shi'ite, and Kurd—remains the driving reality. It is being increasingly compounded by intra-Shi'ite tensions, particularly Moqtada al-Sadr's factions but also tensions between Dawa and SCIRI.

    This lack of the political dimension necessary to succeed in the military and security sectors is particularly critical in Baghdad and its surrounding areas—although Basra, Kirkuk, and Mosul all have their own growing divisions. The more mixed the city, the greater the tensions, and Baghdad has at least 5 million people, and possible now some 7 million in the greater Baghdad area and surrounding towns. Some 15-20% of Iraq's people are now in major urban areas which daily requires them to divide to survive...

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    Just a thought, but we had the type of "ink blot" coverage in Baghdad during 2003-2004. The neighborhoods belonged to coalition troops with Iraqi counterparts working the streets alongside of us.

    The city had its districts and the prevaling idea was that the US forces patrolled them and helped to keep the Iraqi Security Forces in charge and in the right locations.

    Nearly all of the civil sites were guarded by Iraqis. The larger more important structures were guarded by joint CF-ISF troop elements. The CF patrolled the city.

    Yes, there were issues, Iraqi Police stations blown up, checkpoints blown up. But those issues started to happen after the consolidation of troops.

    A true ink blot or oil stain strategy has the outside force, the CF in this case, living in small enclaves within the larger Iraqi society. Living on large Forward Operating Bases and patrolling into the center of the city takes time. It takes the same routes. It shows the enemy that our addiction to Burger King and Green Beans is more important than long term success.

    The Marines are and have been using a tactic the Army shied away from in late 2003, small outposts where a company had control of a sector. Where knowing your constituents meant soemthing and patrolling the local neighbor brought contacts.

    COIN is so much about the boring police work that we do not seem to have the patience to stick with it as a military. The current return to Baghdad in force is the last chance we have to swing this center of gravity. I hope it succeeds.

    Cheers

    Mike

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    Default The Battle of Baghdad

    23 August Wall Street Journal commentary - The Battle of Baghdad by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad.

    Although there has been much good news to report about security progress in Iraq this summer--the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the handover of security responsibility for Muthanna province, the fifth of 10 Iraqi Army Division Headquarters to assume the lead in its area of responsibility--Iraq faces an urgent crisis in securing its capital, Baghdad. Although Iraqi leaders and the Coalition have a sound strategy to turn the situation around, it is vital that Iraqis control sectarian violence and come together against the terrorists and outside powers that are fomenting the violence.

    In July, there were 558 violent incidents in Baghdad, a 10% increase over the already high monthly average. These attacks caused 2,100 deaths, again an increase over the four-month average. More alarmingly, 77% of these casualties were the result of sectarian violence, giving rise to fears of an impending civil war in Iraq. While statistics should not be the sole measure of progress or failure in stabilizing Iraq and quelling violent sectarianism, it is clear that the people of Baghdad are being subjected to unacceptable levels of fear and violence.

    This trend is especially troubling because we cannot achieve our goal of a secure, stable and democratic Iraq if such devastating violence persists in the capital. Baghdad represents one-fifth of Iraq's total population, and is a microcosm of Iraq's diverse ethnic and sectarian communities. Baghdad is also Iraq's financial and media center, the latter of which is especially important given that the declared strategy of the terrorists and violent sectarian groups in Iraq revolves around creating a perception of growing chaos in an effort to persuade Americans that the effort in Iraq has failed. Therefore, violence in Baghdad has a disproportionate psychological and strategic effect.

    The deterioration of security in Baghdad since February's attack on the Samara Mosque is the result of the competition between Sunni and Shiite extremists to expand their control and influence throughout the capital. Although the leadership of al Qaeda in Iraq has been significantly attrited, it still has cells capable of operating independently in Baghdad by deploying car bombs to Shiite neighborhoods. At the same time, Sunni and Shiite death squads, some acting as Iranian surrogates, are responsible for an increasing share of the violence. This cycle of retaliatory violence is compounded by shortcomings in the training and leadership of Iraq's National Police. To combat this complex problem, Iraq's national unity government, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, has made securing Baghdad its top priority. The government's Baghdad Security Plan has three principal components:

    • Stabilizing Baghdad zone by zone. Four Iraqi Army battalions, two Coalition brigades and five military police companies will be redeployed to Baghdad, resulting in more than 12,000 additional forces on the city's streets...
    • Disrupting support zones. Even as Iraqi and Coalition forces concentrate on securing specific neighborhoods, they will continue to conduct targeted operations in other zones that are staging areas for the violence...
    • Undertaking civic action and economic development. One of the most tragic elements of the increasing violence in Baghdad is that it has robbed the Iraqi people of the sense of normalcy they desperately seek after living under crushing tyranny for more than three decades...


    It is understandable that when the American people hear of new U.S. casualties and witness the images of bloodshed from the streets of Baghdad, they conclude that our plans for stemming sectarian violence in Iraq have failed. Yet, implementation of the Baghdad Security Plan has only recently begun. Iraq's national unity government has been in office barely three months, and its ministers of defense and interior have been on the job for less than 80 days. Iraqi ministers are still hiring key staff, and they are learning to work together, under the leadership of a new prime minister...

    Moreover, as tragic and dangerous as the ongoing violence is to our shared vision of a free and prosperous Iraq, it is not representative of the Iraqi people's sentiments toward one another...

    These programs are already beginning to show positive results...

    Although it is too early to determine whether these success stories will be replicated throughout the city, this initial progress should give Iraqis, as well as Americans, hope about the future. Contrary to those who portray Iraq as hopelessly mired in ancient ethnic and sectarian feuds, Iraqis themselves want to put the divisions of the past behind them. The Battle of Baghdad will determine the future of Iraq, which will itself go a long way to determining the future of the world's most vital region. Although much difficult work still remains to be done, it is imperative that we give the Iraqis the time and material support necessary to see this plan through, and to win the Battle of Baghdad.

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    Default Reinforce Baghdad

    12 September Washington Post commentary - Reinforce Baghdad by William Kristol and Rich Lowry.

    We are at a crucial moment in Iraq. Supporters of the war, like us, have in the past differed over tactics. But at this urgent pass, there can be no doubt that we need to stop the downward slide in Iraq by securing Baghdad.

    There is no mystery as to what can make the crucial difference in the battle of Baghdad: American troops. A few thousand U.S. troops have already been transferred to Baghdad from elsewhere in Iraq. Where more U.S. troops have been deployed, the situation has gotten better. Those neighborhoods intensively patrolled by Americans are safer and more secure. But it is by no means clear that overall troop numbers in Baghdad are enough to do the job. And it is clear that stripping troops from other fronts risks progress elsewhere in the country.

    The bottom line is this: More U.S. troops in Iraq would improve our chances of winning a decisive battle at a decisive moment. This means the ability to succeed in Iraq is, to some significant degree, within our control. The president should therefore order a substantial surge in overall troop levels in Iraq, with the additional forces focused on securing Baghdad.

    There is now no good argument for not sending more troops. The administration often says that it doesn't want to foster Iraqi dependency. This is a legitimate concern, but it is a second-order and long-term one. Iraq is a young democracy and a weak state facing a vicious insurgency and sectarian violence. The Iraqis are going to be dependent on us for some time. We can worry about weaning Iraq from reliance on our forces after the security crisis in Baghdad has passed...

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    Default Iraqi army to dig trenches around Baghdad

    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20060915/D8K5CH7O1.html

    Please don't tell me they're going to try "Clear, Hold, Build" strategy around Baghdad....

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    Default Security Ring for Baghdad Underway

    16 September Washington Post - Security Ring for Baghdad Underway by Sudarsan Raghavan.

    U.S. military and Iraqi security forces have begun a massive effort to seal off Baghdad with a ring of reinforced checkpoints, berms, trenches, barriers and fences in an attempt to clamp down on insurgents, officials said Friday.

    A few dozen checkpoints will be placed along key arteries in and out of Baghdad to ensure that people move through "predictable paths" that can be controlled, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman, said late Friday night. Iraqi forces will man the checkpoints and patrol the terrain, with support from U.S. troops...

    The construction of a ring around Baghdad would be the most ambitious security endeavor yet for the U.S. military and its Iraqi allies as they try to block militias, death squads and insurgents from funneling in weapons, explosives, funding and recruits from outside the capital...

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    Default More From the Post...

    Anbar Called Secondary to U.S. Efforts in Baghdad by Ann Scott Tyson.

    American troops face "significant challenges" in western Iraq's volatile Anbar region -- the deadliest province for U.S. forces -- but military efforts there are secondary to the priority of quelling sectarian unrest in Baghdad, the second-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq said yesterday.

    "Al Anbar today is a supporting effort to what we're doing in Baghdad," Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, commander of Multinational Corps-Iraq, said in a videoconference with Pentagon reporters. "Baghdad is our main effort right now," he said, explaining why a battalion of U.S. troops was recently moved from Anbar to Baghdad.

    On a day of sober talk about Iraq, Chiarelli also issued a dire warning on the risks of pulling out U.S. troops and allowing the country to slide into civil war, drawing an analogy from the 1980s Iran-Iraq war to suggest the loss of life from such a conflict could be staggering...

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    Default U.S. Denies Baghdad Trench Plans

    16 September Reuters - U.S. Denies Baghdad Trench Plans

    The U.S. military denied reports on Saturday that Iraq plans to dig a giant ring of trenches around the city of Baghdad.

    Iraq's Interior Ministry announced earlier this week that it plans to set up 28 checkpoints that would allow controlled access to the city, while closing off other roads as part of a security crackdown.

    The New York Times quoted an Interior Ministry spokesman on Saturday as saying the Iraqis would also dig a giant trench around the city of seven million people...

    But Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson said the description sounded like an exaggeration of a plan that mostly would rely on existing terrain features to ensure that traffic moved through the 28 checkpoints...

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    What happened to plans to dig trench around Mosul (kicked around in summer 05)? Were they shelved or what?

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    Default 'Ink Spot' Strategy Latest Attempt to Quell Baghdad

    18 September London Daily Telegraph - 'Ink Spot' Strategy Latest Attempt to Quell Baghdad by Oliver Poole.

    ... For the last three and a half years, Adhamiyah has been the centre of the Sunni insurgency in Baghdad. A rundown district, US troops called it "Little Fallujah" due to the near-daily roadside bombs and sniper attacks.

    That was then. In an unlikely reversal, Adhamiyah is now one of Baghdad's safest areas, a place where Americans patrol on foot and where the number of bodies found dumped on the roadside in sectarian killings has halved.

    For it is at the heart of the US military's new strategy for seizing back control of the capital. In August, 12,000 US and Iraqi troops launched the first co-ordinated counter insurgency operation — Operation Together Forward — to be conducted in the city. Their orders: to "retake Baghdad".

    Unlike previous operations, which emphasised the need to "locate and kill" the enemy, it put into practice the "ink spot" theory, which aims to secure specific areas and provide security to win the confidence of the people. Once achieved, the secure zone could then spread as an ink spot spreads when dropped into a bucket of water.

    Adhamiyah is the centre of the "ink spot" in east Baghdad. Last month a brigade of troops started methodically searching 11,000 buildings there. Around 30,000 cubic metres of the rubbish which had previously covered the streets was taken away. Areas were cleared for electrical substations and half a dozen clinics are planned.

    All but seven roads leading into the area were closed off and those manned by fortified checkpoints. Iraqi troops now stand at almost street corner...

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    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    18 September London Daily Telegraph - 'Ink Spot' Strategy Latest Attempt to Quell Baghdad by Oliver Poole.
    ...or oil spot, whatever it takes.

    I think even Andy Krepenevich would tell you that this isn't going to work. By and large, oil spot theory won't work on a robust and dynamic center of gravity with linear infrastructure or the lines of communication that a contiguous city-base like Baghdad has. A rural Tal Afar or even a city like Ramadi that can be isolated from the rest of the country's population are good candidates. The Capital city is not.
    Last edited by RTK; 09-18-2006 at 11:31 AM.

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    18 September Associated Press - Appeal of Militias Seen As Iraq Obstacle by Antonio Castaneda.

    U.S. soldiers trying to win back Baghdad's streets say they have been surprised by the power and popularity of Shiite militias, whose presence they view as a major obstacle to curbing violence in the city.

    Some soldiers, interviewed during operations in recent days in eastern Baghdad, said they believe the militias outnumber and outgun Iraqi forces. That is troubling because Iraqi forces are supposed to maintain order once the Americans are gone.

    Even more troubling, the soldiers suspect that militia leaders, most notably radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, enjoy greater support among the Shiite residents of the capital than do Iraqi security forces...

    More than 3,000 of the best-equipped U.S. troops from the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team were moved to Baghdad last month after Iraqi forces failed to stem Sunni-Shiite killings in the capital, renewing fears of civil war.

    U.S. commanders hope that American troops will find and sweep away enough weapons and militiamen to allow Iraqi troops to regain control...

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