Results 1 to 19 of 19

Thread: Profusion of Rebel Groups Helps Them Survive

  1. #1
    DDilegge
    Guest

    Default Survey of Armed Groups in Iraq

    Quick-look overview of the adversary in Iraq, compiled by Radio Free Iraq - Survey of Armed Groups in Iraq.

  2. #2
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Largo, Florida
    Posts
    3,989

    Default Profusion of Rebel Groups Helps Them Survive

    2 Dec. New York Times - Profusion of Rebel Groups Helps Them Survive.

    Here is a small sampling of the insurgent groups that have claimed responsibility for attacks on Americans and Iraqis in the last few months:

    Supporters of the Sunni People. The Men's Faith Brigade. The Islamic Anger. Al Baraa bin Malik Suicide Brigade. The Tawid Lions of Abdullah ibn al Zobeir. While some of them, like the Suicide Brigade, claim an affiliation with Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and Al Qaeda claims them, others say they have acted alone or under the guidance of another group.

    While on Wednesday President Bush promised nothing less than "complete victory" over the Iraqi insurgency, the apparent proliferation of militant groups offers perhaps the best explanation as to why the insurgency has been so hard to destroy...

  3. #3
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default Assessing Iraq's Sunni Arab Insurgency

    Assessing Iraq's Sunni Arab Insurgency
    How does one assess the Sunni Arab insurgency in Iraq? The answer is critical to the public debate about the ongoing war and to U.S. strategy. Yet, this task has proven more than challenging to experts within and outside government, for a number of reasons: it is often difficult, if not impossible, to calculate accurately the numerical strength of an insurgency; there are no front lines whose movement could provide an indication of the war’s progress; and military factors are usually less important than political and psychological considerations in deciding the outcome of such conflicts.

    Part of the challenge is that the coalition and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) face a composite insurgency whose elements act out of diverse motives. These include former regime members and Iraqi Islamists, foreign jihadists, angry or aggrieved Iraqis, tribal groups, and criminals, who draw considerable strength from political and religious ideologies, tribal notions of honor and revenge, and shared solidarities deeply ingrained in Iraq’s Sunni Triangle.

    The motives of these groups include a desire to:
    1) resist occupation
    2) subvert or overthrow the new Iraqi government
    3) establish an Islamic state or caliphate in Iraq.

    More fundamentally, the insurgency is about power: who had it, who has it now, and who will have it in the future. Indeed, major elements of the Sunni Arab insurgency seek to regain power—as individuals, as members of the former regime, or as a community.

    U.S. officials have estimated that the insurgency consists of perhaps some 3,500 fighters and 12,000–20,000 total members (although the actual figure may well be much higher) and another 1,000 or so foreign jihadists. Much of the public debate about the insurgency has revolved around the credibility of these figures. However, insurgent numbers are only one measure—and not even the most important one—of a complex and incompletely understood phenomenon.

    Because insurgencies are complex, dynamic, adaptive systems, an assessment of the Sunni Arab insurgency should examine multiple dimensions over time,including: its operational environment; its structures, processes, and functions; and the degree to which it has penetrated public and private institutions in the Sunni Triangle and won over “hearts and minds” in the Sunni Arab community...

  4. #4
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

  5. #5
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Stafford, VA
    Posts
    262

    Default

    In the absence of information or intelligence, commanders and planners must often use a "reasonable man" approach to operations. Given the fact that the US has a prison population of 2.5 million people or roughly 1% of the population, which does not include those on probation or parole; is it not reasonable to assume that Iraq also has 1% of its population living "outside" the rule of law? Using this formula, an Iraqi population of 26 million has 260,000 criminals, passive and active insurgents, and pure-terrorists. Given an alien population of 13 million in the US, or 4% of the population; Iraq would have an alien population of over 1 million of which some undetermined number are foreign fighters.

  6. #6
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Major Strickland
    Given an alien population of 13 million in the US, or 4% of the population; Iraq would have an alien population of over 1 million of which some undetermined number are foreign fighters.
    That last bit is an unrealistic comparison. Mirror imaging is never a good way to conduct analysis. The alien population in the US is drawn to our country by the large number of relatively well-paying (in comparison to their native country) menial jobs available to them.

    Iraq never had a significant foreign worker population along the lines of Saudi Arabia's TCNs. Not even before its economy began going in the crapper. Iraqi's are actually willing to perform manual labor.

    Those foreigners coming to Iraq explicitly to fight the US and the coalition are a relatively unique group - if you wish to make a comparative analysis that may be of use, look at the foreigners that joined the Afghan Muj, the Bosnian Muslims, and the groups operating in Kashmir.

    But its more than just a numbers game. Borders and border security, travel routes and support lines, reception support networks, levels of direct/indirect outside state support - Iraq's context is different from the others, and they are useful only as a guide...

  7. #7
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default In Their Own Words: Reading the Iraqi Insurgency

    From ICG, 15 Feb 06: In Their Own Words: Reading the Iraqi Insurgency

    For those who don't feel like reading through the entire 30 pages, here's the report's Conclusion:
    The current anti-insurgency approach does not appear to be working. To date, it has centred on three core pillars: the enemy’s destruction (elimination of the largest possible number of fighters), decapitation (suppression of insurgent leaders and leadership structures) and dislocation (recovery of their sanctuaries and disruption of their lines of communication). Yet the armed opposition has been able to replenish its ranks and mobilise necessary (albeit limited) popular support. Even Tandhim al-Qa’ida, a prime target for both coalition and Iraqi security forces, has not displayed any sign of exhaustion.

    The insurgency is built around a loose and flexible network, feeds on deep-seated family, tribal and local loyalties, with allegiance to a cause rather than to specific individuals. Insurgent leaders are an important part, but there is no evidence their individual roles are crucial; those who have been killed or captured have been swiftly replaced with no notable impact on any group’s
    performance. The insurgents, meanwhile, have been both playing on and exacerbating Sunni Arab hostility, first toward the occupation, and now also toward sectarian Shiite parties seen as intent on taking over national institutions and resources, waging a dirty communal war and pursuing an essentially Iranian agenda. The combination of social networks, an ample supply of weapons, a powerful message and adequate funds has allowed the insurgency to maintain a relatively constant level of violence.

    The armed opposition also has found ways around the coalition’s attempt to dislocate it by regaining territory (e.g., Tall ‘Afar and al-Qa’im) or disrupting internet sites. On the ground, the insurgency is responding to the U.S. strategy – “clear, hold, and build” – by one of its own: recoil, redeploy and spoil. Rather than confront the enemy head on, it is taking advantage of its military flexibility, the limited number of U.S. troops and the fragility of Iraqi security forces to attack at the time and place of its maintaining internet communications despite coalition efforts to interrupt them.

    The content and evolution of the armed opposition’s discourse carries important lessons in this respect. Over time, the insurgency appears to have become more united, confident, sensitive to its constituents’ demands, and adept at learning from the enemy’s successes and failures and its own. The trend remains fragile – the surface homogeneity in all likelihood conceals deep-seated tensions; the confidence may be short-lived; and the sensitivity has its limitations. But the U.S. needs to take these into account if it is to understand the insurgency’s remarkable resilience and learn how to counter it.

    A central message is that the coalition’s most effective tools have not been of a military but rather of a political nature. Televised confessions of insurgent combatants and accusations of sectarianism, brutality and depravity, as well as the various 2005 polls all had a visible impact on the armed opposition, bringing about tangible changes in its behaviour and rhetoric. This was only a start, but it suggests something more profound: the importance to the insurgency of its legitimacy, which essentially relies on opposition to the occupation, anger at its specific practices and the feeling shared by Sunni Arabs of being under siege.

    Conducting an effective counter-insurgency campaign requires emphasising this political dimension, taking the armed opposition’s discourse seriously, and directing one’s efforts at the sources of its popular support. Excessive use of force by coalition troops, torture, resort to tactics that inflict widespread harm on civilians and reliance on sectarian militias simultaneously undermine U.S. legitimacy and boost the insurgents’ own, thereby clearly outweighing any possible military gain.

    For the U.S. and its Iraqi allies to prevail on this battlefront, they first of all must establish a monopoly over the legitimate use of violence – which means establishing the legitimacy both of the means being deployed and of the state on whose behalf violence is being exercised. That, to date, has been far from the case. Instead, the insurgency flourishes on widespread Sunni Arab perception of U.S. and official Iraqi arbitrariness and coercion. As a result, the U.S. runs the risk of seeing the armed opposition durably entrenched in predominantly Sunni Arab areas which, in a vicious cycle, the central government can reach only through periodic assaults and repressive actions.

    A first imperative, of course, is to reach out to the Sunni Arab community, amend the constitution and build a more inclusive polity.206 But that aside, important steps must be taken to alter radically how the counter-insurgency campaign is being waged. For the U.S. and its Iraqi allies, this entails:

    �� closely monitoring, controlling and, if necessary, punishing, the behaviour of security forces;

    �� halting recourse to the most questionable types of practices, including torture and extraordinary methods of interrogation and confinement, collective punishment and extra-judicial killings;

    �� ending the use of sectarian militias as a complement to, or substitute for, regular armed forces and beginning a serious process of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of militia fighters;

    �� the U.S. holding the new government accountable and making clear that longer-term relations, economic assistance and future military cooperation will depend on the steps it takes to rein in and ultimately disband militias, halt politically-motivated killings and respect human rights and the rule of law;

    �� the U.S. making clear its willingness, while it remains in Iraq, to negotiate openly the terms of its presence and its rules of engagement;

    �� the U.S. making repeatedly clear at the highest level that it accepts that the oil resources of the country belong to the Iraqi people and no one else, and that it will withdraw as soon as the newly elected government so requests.

  8. #8
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Washington, Texas
    Posts
    305

    Default Conclusions based on ignoring evidence to the contrary

    There has been substantial evidence of red on red activity for over a year. It has only intensified recently. If you really want to lose the war you could follow their advice and not disrupt the enemy's activities and not clear his sanctuaries, and not take and hold. The report offers no suggestion for winning. It seems to suggest we should stop doing the successful things we are doing in Iraq and read insurgent websites. I am not impressed.

  9. #9
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Merv Benson
    If you really want to lose the war you could follow their advice and not disrupt the enemy's activities and not clear his sanctuaries, and not take and hold. The report offers no suggestion for winning.
    What the report boils down to is the author's recommendation that a serious focus be taken on delegitimizing the insurgent factions - not attacking their legitimacy from our perspective, but from the perspective of those who currently support their operations. Legitimacy has long been recognized as a key strategic component of counterinsurgency. The relative degree of legitimacy of the government versus that of the insurgents as perceived by the indig population can make or break the COIN effort over the long term. And, at the risk of repeating myself, I cannot stress enough that legitimacy needs to be viewed through the eyes of the population - not mirror-imaged through our own point of view.

    And it is correct that there are no purely military prescriptions for winning in the paper. That is not the author's intent, and it does not fit with his premise. But neither does he advise a halt or reduction in our current efforts. Nowhere in the paper does the author advise not disrupt the enemy's activities and not clear his sanctuaries, and not take and hold.

    I would like you to consider that, of the six bulleted recommendations in the Conclusions section which I quoted above, several elements are already being implemented - although perhaps more gradually and quietly than the author would like. The elements he harps on most - torture, excessive civilian casualties, reigning in sectarian militias - are ones that we've been taking very seriously for quite a while now.

    Finally, I just want to say that I found the paper of interest simply because of the unique nature of his analysis - looking at the evolution of the various insurgent groups through their open discourse - primarily on-line, although other, more traditional forms of media were also used.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 02-16-2006 at 05:45 AM.

  10. #10
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Washington, Texas
    Posts
    305

    Default When he said the current strategy was not working, I thought he wanted to abandon it

    In the opeing quote the author says:

    The current anti-insurgency approach does not appear to be working. To date, it has centred on three core pillars: the enemy’s destruction (elimination of the largest possible number of fighters), decapitation (suppression of insurgent leaders and leadership structures) and dislocation (recovery of their sanctuaries and disruption of their lines of communication).

    I think he is ignoring substantial evidence that the enemy had delegitimized itself by attacking non combatants and ruling like the Taliban in areas it did control. As the story in the WaPo on Tal Afar shows US forces are adapting to defeat the enemy. The story leaves out the mayor's letter to McMaster and his earlier letter to Gen. Casey that demonstrate just how successful the US has been in defeating the insurgency in places like Tal Afar where the take and hold policy has been employed. Incidents around Ramadi also demonstrate how the enemy has alienated the Iraqis. In the hearts and minds war, the enemy has been the big loser and my reading of the article does not suggest the author comprehends that.

    Of course, I think it is important to study enemy communication. I just think his assertion that the current strategy is not working is not even close to the mark.

  11. #11
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Merv Benson
    ...I think he is ignoring substantial evidence that the enemy had delegitimized itself by attacking non combatants and ruling like the Taliban in areas it did control. As the story in the WaPo on Tal Afar shows US forces are adapting to defeat the enemy. The story leaves out the mayor's letter to McMaster and his earlier letter to Gen. Casey that demonstrate just how successful the US has been in defeating the insurgency in places like Tal Afar where the take and hold policy has been employed. Incidents around Ramadi also demonstrate how the enemy has alienated the Iraqis. In the hearts and minds war, the enemy has been the big loser and my reading of the article does not suggest the author comprehends that...
    The "enemy" is not monolithic. A blanket statement such as the enemy had delegitimized itself are utterly false, because it only applies to certain factions within the insurgency we are fighting. Elements among the foreign jihadists fighting in Iraq have alienated sectors of the indig Sunni Arab population by some of their recent actions - that is absolutely true (the author does address that in the paper - although only to a limited degree). However, the indig Sunni insurgent groups are not affected and continue to fight on with the general support of their tribes and clans - despite our efforts to integrate Sunni Arabs into the government. In the big picture, we have yet to reach any sort of tipping point or seen any real decisive trend that indicates we are coming out on top of the insurgency. However, the insurgency itself is stagnant at the stragegic level; although tactically it continues to dynamically evolve and adapt. It is far to early to declare anyone the "big loser".

  12. #12
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Washington, Texas
    Posts
    305

    Default Enemy factions

    I just do not believe that other enemy factions such as the ones who want to restore Saddam or Baath party rule of some Sunni theocracy have legitimacy with most Sunnis much less most Iraqis. They are a minority of a minority. The elections have pretty well demonstrated that they have been rejected by most Iraqis. If they had legitimacy they would have been more successful in the election. The non al Qaeda groups are made up of the former regime elements and some Sunni supremicist religious bigots who fear rule by the Shia and Kurds. They have all the legitimacy of the Klu Klux Klan. I just do not see the need to elevate them to "legitimacy." Just what is the legitimate greviance of any of these groups?

    Any close reading of operations in Iraq over the last year such as Michael Yon's and Bill Roggio would show that US troops are sensitive to the local community and are working with them. I just do not have a lot of patience for reports suggesting that US troops and their leaders are a bunch of dummies or that their strategy is not working when it clearly is.

  13. #13
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Merv Benson
    They have all the legitimacy of the Klu Klux Klan.
    If that were true, then we would be rolling up insurgent cells left and right in the final victorious stage of the COIN effort. Unfortunately, that just ain't the case.

    Remember, we are discussing legitimacy in the context of the perceptions of their supporters. It doesn't matter one iota what you or I think about their legitimacy. It is clear that, despite successes in many other aspects of the COIN effort, we have yet to significantly degrade support for the insurgents within the communities where they thrive.
    Quote Originally Posted by Merv Benson
    I just do not have a lot of patience for reports suggesting that US troops and their leaders are a bunch of dummies or that their strategy is not working when it clearly is.
    On reading the paper at the head of this thread, I did feel that the author did not have a complete picture of what we are doing - as I stated, we are implementing aspects of several of his recommendations. However, as one who has spent a significant amount of time in Iraq, I did not take his criticisms as insults.

    As for our strategy working...well...the results are not yet final. It is certainly unreasonable to state that it is clearly working, unless you are very selective in your reading and analysis. In certain aspects, we seem to be doing very well. However, the insurgency continues, as we continue to have issues (quietly, quietly...) with the new Iraqi government. Operationally and tactically, we have done a great job of integrating lessons learned - both current and reaching back for those we had forgotten. But we damn sure have not yet reached a point where victory is certain.

  14. #14
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Washington, Texas
    Posts
    305

    Default Rolling up the KKK

    Not to be too flip, but it took over a 100 years to roll up the Klan. We clearly have a ways to go in Iraq. I think we are defeating the enemy but he is not yet defeated. He may even have a better chance than the Klan had in achieving his objective, but if you analize his position given his objectives, he is losing.

  15. #15
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Largo, Florida
    Posts
    3,989

    Default Iraq's Insurgents: Who's Who

    19 March Washington Post - Iraq's Insurgents: Who's Who by Jonatahn Finer.

    Long considered a fragmentary and disorganized collection of groups with varying tactics and aims, Iraq's insurgency is showing signs of increasing coordination, consolidation and confidence, those who study it now say. There is no consensus on the precise number of insurgent fighters, but estimates range from a few thousand to more than 50,000. The vast majority of insurgents, probably more than 90 percent, are believed to be Iraqis from the Sunni minority group that largely ruled the country before the fall of Saddam Hussein. But U.S. commanders say that most of the deadliest attacks, and particularly suicide attacks, are committed by foreigners from a range of neighboring countries, including Jordan, Syrian, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Sudan...
    Finer categorizes the insurgents into larger and smaller groupings.

  16. #16
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default

    A very bare-bones piece. The author's sources:

    The SITE Institute: Some searching is required. The info on Iraq insurgents isn't gathered into one comprehensive document or even specific section of the website.

    International Crisis Group: The link is to their index of Iraq reports, rather than to their home page. I like ICG, but with the exception of one report, which I posted on SWC when it was published, they tend to focus more on the pure political aspects than on the insurgents per se.

    That's why I'm surprised he only goes on to list news reports as his final source, and didn't bother with Cordesman's CSIS - they have published a number of in-depth reports looking at the insurgents. I won't even bring up his failure to mention Jane's...

  17. #17
    Council Member Stratiotes's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Richmond, Missouri
    Posts
    94

    Default

    I think this is one of those questions where we tend to believe what we want to believe and ignore evidence that does not confirm what we want to believe.

    There is a strong desire to believe, for instance, that the insurgents are a hodge-podge of foreign influences and therefore more credance tends to be given to the reports that confirm that belief and less to others. Since it seems to be a universal malady of human beings to believe what they want, we ought to be very careful to consider if we are giving in to that tendency. And it behoves us to consider what anybody else might "wish" to be true in this case. Add to that the desire of some to report what they think their boss or their political benefactor "wishes" and you have the formula for a lot of noise with little substance.

    For that reason, I'm always a little hesitant to trust anyone who says they "know" who the insurgents are.
    Mark
    Discuss at: The Irregulars Visit at: UW Review
    "The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." - G. K. Chesterton

  18. #18
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default Iraq Insurgency Snapshot

    From CRG, 17 Aug 06:
    ...US military authorities in the capital Baghdad on 17 August released data showing that the number of actual or attempted roadside bomb attacks against US and Iraqi forces had doubled from 1,454 in January to 2,625 in July. Attacks using mortars, RPGs and small-arms fire also increased.

    The increase indicates that the Sunni Arab insurgency is growing in strength at a time when increased sectarian violence has eroded the authority of the Shia-dominated central government. Despite periodic military successes, the government's authority over Sunni Arabs may collapse in many areas in the west and north-west of the country and insurgent groups and their affiliated tribal supporters may increasingly come to fill the resulting power vacuum. This will increase instability and security risks in these areas until a dominant local actor emerges.

    Many Sunni Arabs view the predominantly Shia Arab and Kurdish security forces with distrust, a sentiment that has been reinforced by increasing sectarian attacks against Sunni Arabs by Shia militia members linked to the security forces. As a result, Sunni insurgents have been able to attract sufficient support from tribes and young people to step up their recruitment, intelligence and logistics operations. In Baghdad, a government security clampdown announced in June met with little success, and US and Iraqi troop reinforcements were called in to launch a new security campaign.

    The data reveals a shift in insurgent targeting patterns; 70% of attacks between January and July were aimed at US forces compared with almost 85% in the previous year. Of the remaining 30%, 20% targeted the Iraqi security forces, compared with just 9% in 2005, while 10% targeted Iraqi civilians compared with 5% a year earlier. The data uses roadside bombs as a barometer of insurgent activity because they require a support network including a bomb-maker, financiers, and operatives to carry out...

  19. #19
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Wonderland
    Posts
    1,284

    Default Rules for Identifying Insurgents in Iraq



    Gotcha!

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •