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Thread: The Battle of Baghdad

  1. #21
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    Default Related...

    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...

  2. #22
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    Default Military Veterans see Desperation in Baghdad Bombs

    6 October Washington Times - Military Veterans see Desperation in Baghdad Bombs by Rowan Scarborough.

    The four-month-old offensive to retake Baghdad with more troops and neighborhood sweeps so far has failed to quell violence, but at the same time commanders hope that the spasm of bombings betray a belief by the insurgents that they are losing control of areas and are running out of time.

    Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, a Vietnam combatant and former head of the U.S. Army War College, said that in some ways what is going on in Baghdad is classic insurgency warfare. The enemy, a mix of Sunni, Shi'ite and al Qaeda insurgents, believes it is losing control of regions or neighborhoods and tries to reverse the trend with a spike in violence.

    The 1968 Tet Offensive is an example. The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army invaded major cities in South Vietnam, aiming to reverse U.S. gains in the countryside and turn U.S. public opinion against the war. It worked. President Lyndon Johnson announced that year he would not seek re-election as the war dragged on. Although Tet failed militarily, it had a major propaganda effect.

    Gen. Scales said the typical thinking of insurgents is "no reason to rush. We can meter the campaign because we maintain the initiative."

    But an offensive to assert control over Baghdad's neighborhoods has changed the battlefield...

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    I've merged a few threads that all discuss or report on the fight to stabilize and secure Baghdad. This is a critically important strategic objective, and, hopefully, this expanded thread will facilitate discussion by allowing review of material that illustrates how we've progressed to the current situation.

    Here's today's (19 Oct 06) news: Baghdad Strategy Failing, Officer Says
    ...Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the senior spokesman for the American military in Iraq, said that the strategy of concentrating on a limited number of highly troubled neighborhoods had not slowed sectarian violence in the city as a whole. General Caldwell said that attacks in the Baghdad area went up 22 percent during the first three weeks of Ramadan in comparison with the three weeks before.

    The crackdown, which began in August, "has made a difference in the focus areas but has not met our overall expectations in sustaining a reduction in the level of violence," General Caldwell said, adding that American commanders were consulting with the Iraqi government on a change in plans...

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    Default General Says Mission In Baghdad Falls Short

    20 October Washington Post - General Says Mission In Baghdad Falls Short by John Ward Anderson.

    A two-month U.S.-Iraqi military operation to stem sectarian bloodshed and insurgent attacks in Baghdad has failed to reduce the violence, which has surged 22 percent in the capital in the last three weeks, much of it in areas where the military has focused its efforts, a senior U.S. military spokesman said Thursday.

    The assessment by Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV followed a 43 percent spike in attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces in the capital since midsummer that has pushed U.S. military fatalities to their highest rates in more than a year. The military reported that three soldiers were killed in Anbar province west of Baghdad on Wednesday, bringing the number of U.S troops killed so far this month to 74.

    Caldwell's appraisal of the Baghdad campaign known as Operation Together Forward was in stark contrast to reviews during the opening weeks. At that time, U.S. military leaders said the deployment of 12,000 additional U.S. troops in Baghdad's most violent neighborhoods was significantly improving security for residents.

    The operation "has not met our overall expectations of sustaining a reduction in the levels of violence," Caldwell said Thursday at a weekly news briefing. Violence has risen in the areas where the U.S.-Iraqi operation has focused, because of counterattacks, he said.

    "We're finding insurgent elements, the extremists, are pushing back hard. They're trying to get back into those areas" where Iraqi and U.S. forces have targeted them, he said. "We're constantly going back in and doing clearing operations."

    Under the program, joint U.S.-Iraqi teams of soldiers and police entered dangerous Baghdad neighborhoods and used aggressive tactics to try to secure them, engaging with fighters, searching door-to-door and patrolling the streets. Teams then moved on to the next sector, leaving behind a fixed force that attempted to ensure gunmen would not return. The goal of the program was also to restore basic services such as trash collection.

    Now, Caldwell said, "we are working very closely with the government of Iraq to determine how best to refocus our efforts...

  5. #25
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    Default There it is

    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    20 October Washington Post - General Says Mission In Baghdad Falls Short by John Ward Anderson.....

    "We're constantly going back in and doing clearing operations."
    At the risk of over simplifiying (admiitedly this hypocritical of me to do this as I often point out simplistic analysis is a lodestone around our collective necks), this sentence to me goes back to the roots of our problems, troop numbers and the long term effects we have seen.

    Best
    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    At the risk of over simplifiying (admiitedly this hypocritical of me to do this as I often point out simplistic analysis is a lodestone around our collective necks), this sentence to me goes back to the roots of our problems, troop numbers and the long term effects we have seen.

    Best
    Tom
    It seems pretty clear that the troop numbers issue is not going to be fixed - we've just got to do better with what we have.

    As regards Baghdad, I'd like to refer to the my previous post on displacement. Virtually all of those elements are present in the reaction of the bad guys to our efforts in Baghdad. I may be beating a dead horse, but we need better intelligence and better integration of intelligence with operations. Of course, to be truly effective, all of that needs to be tied in tight with close cooperation with Iraqi security elements - which is tough, because many of them are tied in with (or are part and parcel of) the elements we're attempting to disrupt and destroy.

    With intel in the context of "displacement", I'm talking about true predictive intelligence, based upon in-depth knowledge of the city, its population, and the multitude of factions and their shifting alliances along with deep analysis of historical operational trends projected in sync with current and planned ops. We need analysts with significant experience not just in Iraq, but working the Baghdad AO to be tied in with trusted counterparts from among the indig. As long as this ain't happening we're not succeeding.

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    Default Troops and intel

    Gen. Abizaid seems determined to keep troop numbers down in order to force the Iraqis to do more. This strategy had some positive results when we were primarily fighting al Qaeda as intelligence seem to improve dramatically.

    As others have pointed out, the situation in Baghdad now has Iraqis of questionable allegiance dealing with militias that they may support. This is not a situation that is going to yeild much new intelligence on those operating the Shia half of the death squads. You also have the situation this week where one of the leaders of the militia is arrested and the Iraqi governemtn orders his release. That suggest that the governemtn is being influenced too heavily by these militias are that it is not serious in doing anything to stop their activities. If the government wants our continued assistance it is going to have to do better than this.

    The General's resistance to fixing the force to space ratio issue also suggest that this situation is not going to be fixed soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Merv Benson
    ...As others have pointed out, the situation in Baghdad now has Iraqis of questionable allegiance dealing with militias that they may support. This is not a situation that is going to yeild much new intelligence on those operating the Shia half of the death squads. You also have the situation this week where one of the leaders of the militia is arrested and the Iraqi government orders his release...
    The "situation this week" is only one of many similar incidents that have been occuring as we struggle with the militias. Most don't make it to the media.

    The Economist, 5 Oct 06: Your Man or His? Keeping an Eye on the Security Forces
    ...Iraq's political parties work on the theory that if you don't fill the post with your partisans, the enemy will fill it with theirs. As a result, say American officers, they can judge the importance of a captured Sunni insurgent or Shia militiaman by the number of high-ranking Iraqi commanders calling up to demand his release...

  9. #29
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    Default Mass Kidnapping Stuns Baghdad - Police Linkage

    14 November Voice of America and Washington Post:

    VOA:

    Gunmen in Iraq dressed as police commandos have kidnapped as many as 100 people during a lightning raid on a Baghdad research institute. Authorities say at least three people were later released. It is believed to be the largest mass abduction since the start of the conflict.

    In a well-organized raid, police and witnesses say about 80 gunmen wearing the uniforms of Iraqi police commandos closed off the streets surrounding the Scientific Research Directorate of the Ministry of Education in the central Karradah district.

    Ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khallaf, told The Associated Press the police chief of the Karradah neighborhood where the kidnappings occurred has been placed under investigation along with some of his officers.

    The head of the parliament's education committee told legislators that the kidnappers had a list of names of those to be taken away.


    Education committee chairman Alaa Makki told legislators that the kidnappers claimed they were on a mission from the government's anti-corruption body.

    In contrast to the usually sectarian nature of Iraqi violence, Makki said the kidnappers did not discriminate between Sunni or Shiite Muslims, taking every man including institute officials, employees, visitors and even the building's cleaning staff.

    A police spokesman said the entire operation took only about 20 minutes.

    One witness, a female professor who was visiting the ministry when the raid occurred, said the gunmen forced men and women into separate rooms, handcuffed the men, and then took them away in about six pickup trucks. She added that some of the gunmen wore face masks.

    Iraq's Minister of Higher Education Abed Dhiab al-Ujaili immediately suspended classes at Baghdad universities until the government provides them with adequate security.

    The minister told parliament that he had no other option until authorities find out what happened. He said he is not ready to lose any more professors.

    At least 155 educators have been killed since the war began in 2003. Most recently, a university dean and a prominent Sunni Arab geology professor were murdered.
    Washington Post:

    Armed men in Iraqi police uniforms and driving police vehicles kidnapped as many as 150 people from a government agency on Tuesday, and several senior police commanders were arrested in connection with the abductions, Iraqi officials said today.

    The abductions were a well-orchestrated reminder of how challenging basic security remains in Iraq at a time when U.S. officials are pressing the local government to assert more control.

    News of the mass kidnapping was announced dramatically on the floor of the national Parliament, and within hours an Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman said on national television that several police officials in charge of the area where the kidnappings occurred had been arrested.

    Precise figures on how many people were kidnapped and how many were later released were hard to come by. The prime minister's office said more than 50 people were kidnapped and 20 later released. The Interior Ministry said 30 people were kidnapped and the Ministry of Higher Education said it was as many as 150 employees and visitors who were abducted...

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    Reuters, 23 Nov 06: Bombs kill 133 in Baghdad, curfew imposed
    ...six car bombs killed 133 people in a Shi'ite stronghold in Baghdad on Thursday, one of the most devastating attacks since the U.S. invasion and likely to inflame sectarian passions in a nation sliding toward civil war. The authorities slapped an indefinite curfew on the city....

    ...A further 201 people were wounded in the bombings, police said. The Health Minister said the toll would rise. "Many of the dead have been reduced to scattered body parts and are not counted yet," Ali al-Shemari told Reuters. The blasts came at the same time as gunmen surrounded and fired on the Shi'ite-run Health Ministry in one of the boldest daylight assaults by militants in Baghdad. Mortars later crashed down on a nearby Sunni enclave in an apparent reprisal attack...
    Other sources are reporting a greater number of dead; the situation is still developing...

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    Default Baghdad's Ethno-sectarian Fault Lines

    How Violence is Forging a Brutal Divide in Baghdad - London Times.

    More and more, Baghdad is splintering into Shia and Sunni enclaves that are increasingly no-go areas for anyone from outside. The trend is fuelled by the ugliest sectarianism. It also reflects a crude power grab, with both sides egged on by political parties aiming to maximize their clout in the Iraqi Government by dominating as much of the capital as possible. The result is that since February, when Sunnis bombed the golden-domed mosque in Samarra, a Shia shrine, 146,322 individuals have been displaced in Baghdad, according to the International Organization for Migration. The pattern is so pronounced that the US military has drawn up a new map of Baghdad to reflect its ethno-sectarian fault lines...
    U.S. Military's Classification of Baghdad's Ethno-sectarian Divide - London Times graphic. U.S. Military map of Baghdad reflecting ethno-sectarian fault lines.

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    The Economist, 5 January 2007: Shuffling and Surging
    ...Mr Bush is reported to be mulling a plan by Jack Keane, a former general, and Frederick Kagan, a military analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank. The two men propose a temporary and concentrated surge focused on Baghdad. They would send around 30,000 extra combat troops to Iraq, most for the capital but a few also for Anbar, the most violent Sunni-majority province....
    CSIS, 4 January 2007: Looking Beyond a Surge: The Tests a New US Strategy in Iraq Must Meet
    The current debate over surging US military manpower has steadily lost focus on the real issue: Providing more US troops can only serve a purpose if it is tied to a new and comprehensive approach to providing stability and security in Iraq.

    The problem is not total US force levels or the security of Baghdad. It is the ability to reverse the current drift toward a major civil war and separation of the country by finding a new approach to US intervention in Iraq...

    ...One key problem the US must face is that it is now fighting a new kind of war. The “threat” from the insurgency and militias is only part of the problem. Iraq’s central government is weak and divided and the nation is steadily dividing into sectarian and ethnically controlled areas...

    ...This division affects its cities, as well as areas in its provinces, and most of the major ministries in its government. It often is reshaping neighborhoods, village, and towns, or rural and tribal areas in ways that are so complex that they are difficult or impossible to map. It is creating growing problems in many Iraqi military units, regardless of their warfighting capability. It is a major problem in the Iraqi national and regular police, the facilities protection services, and virtually every element of civil government and the courts...

    ...No one has as yet provided an official US definition of “surge.” It seems almost certain, however, that the Congress will insist that any surge be limited in scope and time, and quite possibly in ways that will make it difficult to achieve success even in a limited mission like securing Baghdad...
    (complete 44 page document at the link)
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-05-2007 at 05:30 PM.

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    The Economist, 13 Jan 07: The President's Last Throw
    ...The critical terrain is Baghdad: Iraq's most populous city, with 6m inhabitants of all sects (see map). It is both a main target for insurgents attacking coalition forces, and the centre of the sectarian war that has broken out since Sunni extremists blew up the Golden Mosque in Samarra, a Shia holy place, in February 2006....

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    Default Lie Low, Fighters Are Told

    1 February Washington Post - Lie Low, Fighters Are Told by by Josh Partlow.

    The instructions delivered by emissaries of anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr at a recent meeting in Baghdad were clear to militiaman Massan Abdul Hussein.

    "They informed us to hide the weapons," Abdul Hussein recalled of the Jan. 21 meeting in the Shula neighborhood. "They said: 'We will not allow anyone to carry any arms, even if it's a pistol under their shirt. This is not acceptable.' "

    Abdul Hussein, 30, considers himself a minor figure in the Mahdi Army, the powerful yet amorphous band of thousands of Sadr followers that the Pentagon said in November had "the greatest negative effect on the security situation in Iraq." But Abdul Hussein said the militia's foot soldiers had received a clear message from Sadr's headquarters in southern Iraq as Iraqi and U.S. troops prepared an intensified security crackdown in the capital...

    In recent weeks, Mahdi Army leaders have left Baghdad to avoid being targeted, according to Iraqi and U.S. officials. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office has received reports that some Mahdi Army leaders are moving to Iran and Syria, according to an aide to Maliki who spoke on condition of anonymity...

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    Default General: Shiite Militia Leaders Leaving Baghdad Strongholds

    1 February Washington Post - General: Shiite Militia Leaders Leaving Baghdad Strongholds by Tom Ricks.

    Shiite militia leaders already appear to be leaving their strongholds in Baghdad in anticipation of the U.S. and Iraqi plan to increase the troop presence in the Iraqi capital, according to the top U.S. commander in the country.

    "We have seen numerous indications Shia militia leaders will leave, or already have left, Sadr City to avoid capture by Iraqi and coalition security forces," Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said in a written statement submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee as part of his confirmation hearing today to be Army chief of staff...

    If Sadr's militia does indeed attempt to wait out the security crackdown, Casey said, that "would clearly present a challenge" to the Iraqi government, which he said underscores the need to have Iraqi forces capable of bringing security to the country. Developing effective Iraqi forces has been a U.S. goal for more than three years. Casey noted earlier in his 46-page statement, which was filed yesterday with the committee, that one of the most significant mistakes that U.S. officials made in Iraq was overestimating the speed with which Iraqi forces could be developed...

  16. #36
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default No answers expected (for now)

    I don't really expect any answers to this now, but I really have to wonder if this "flight" was viewed as an opportunity by the CF. I would hope that these fleeing "leaders" would have a) been predicted and b) watched so that c) they could be grabbed.

    On a related note, this type of flight actually fits in with Shiite mythography. I fully expect that there will be little feeling of "being abandoned" amongst the lower level members of the Mahdi army - they will probably view themselves as being a "glorious rear guard" allowing the leaders to escape, regroup and come back for final victory.

    I really hope that no one is planing an IO campaign using a "rats leaving the sinking ship" metaphor, because it won't work. In fact, it will backfire badly and just reinforce the determination of the current members and expand their recruiting base. What might work, although it's a lowish probability, would be trying to make a symbolic tie in between the Mahdi army leaders and the Mongol governors from the 12th century or, possibly, a tie into the Ottoman period (maybe something tying into Murad the Mad's period - ca. 1630).

    Marc
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    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Default Opportunity time

    It should be viewed as an opportunity to be seized. The same can be said for the retreat ordered by al Qaeda.With their departure, the government should have the opportunity to establish order and build on it so that it will be more difficult for them to return. That they can do it without bloodshed is a mixed blessing at this point, but destruction of the infrastructure of terrorism is still the goal. If the COIN objective of protecting the people is still the goal, then there departure should make that easier at lest in the near term.

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    I really hope that no one is planing an IO campaign using a "rats leaving the sinking ship" metaphor, because it won't work. In fact, it will backfire badly and just reinforce the determination of the current members and expand their recruiting base. What might work, although it's a lowish probability, would be trying to make a symbolic tie in between the Mahdi army leaders and the Mongol governors from the 12th century or, possibly, a tie into the Ottoman period (maybe something tying into Murad the Mad's period - ca. 1630).
    An excellent point I had not thought about, and a concrete example of the sort of inputs that would make a CST http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=2063 valuable

  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    An excellent point I had not thought about, and a concrete example of the sort of inputs that would make a CST http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=2063 valuable
    I think some of Rob's ideas on CSTs have been formed by the discussions here . In many ways, the SWC is acting as a combined Red Team / CST at a general level (amongst other things ).

    Marc
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    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
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    Executive Summary

    Iraqis on the move: Sectarian Displacement in Baghdad
    ...This report focuses on the alarming nature and pace of displacement trends over the last three months, sparked by the events around the Al-Sadr City car bombing in November 2006. In this short period alone, the number of displaced has increased by over 43 percent and only a few districts in the capital, such as Karrada and parts of Al-Mansoor, can be described as still mixed along sectarian lines....
    Selected Findings and Conclusions

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