Saturday, November 13, 2004

On Fallujah

I've been trying to work up the enthusiasm to post on the operations underway in the Sunni Triangle and elsewhere but every time I get close to ready I click on Belmont Club and decide that Wretchard has it covered... as usual.

The fight in Fallujah isn't about Fallujah. We (those on the end of the media information pipe) see images of destruction and are provided with dozens if not scores of eight hundred word essays written for the most part by untrained observers. The journalistic community persists in reminding us of the technological edge we have via brilliant weapons, comms, night vision, and other gadgets and what effect that edge has in isolated combat but seems to run into a Luddite wall when it comes time to extend the effects of our technological expertise beyond mere hardware and into philosophy, theory, and analysis. We've been in combat inside Iraq for almost two years and the media still breaks into scheduled broadcasts to report one 82mm mortar shell being fired in the general direction of the Green Zone while ignoring the fact that a routine call for fire for mortars in a firefight will generate tens of rounds on target on our behalf in a minor skirmish. One or two mortar rounds or a daisy chain of IED's or another beheading video won't win the war in Iraq for the opposition. Those tactis failed to sway our election and that event has probably had even more calamitous effect on the insurgency's rank and file than even the investment of Fallujah. The indigenous resistance has two months to establish themselves politically or they lose any chance at participating in government at all.

The broader strategy of which Fallujah is only a manpower-intensive part is intended to force the opposition, especially their leadership, to move or communicate. By observing communication patterns and changing specific variables such as land access routes and physical redoubts in Fallujah, Mosul, Sadr City, and elsewhere we can add to all the intelligence sources developed over our time in theater, collate the new data, and develop specific strategies aimed directly at the command and control structure that the enemy must have if they are to exert any influence at all on the January elections.

Stacking up bodies in the 'Strong Horse' column of local politics is important, too. The men in black with AK's and RPG's need to be dealt with whenever we find them, regardless of their origin being Sunni holdouts or foreign fighters from Syria, Iran, or elsewhere. They aren't going to be lining up for Get Out The Vote efforts, ever, whether we kill them or not. Eyewitness evidence of coalition forces, to include ING troops, agressively rooting out the insurgency will serve to sway the Iraqi's that we aren't near walking away from them.

I don't know if it will all work. Nobody does. That's what war is all about - uncertainty until the issue is decided. There will be victories and defeats and mistakes and lost opportunities but none of them will fit accurately inside a TV news story or even a multi-part news article.

God bless our troops, and our leaders.

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