MIL Iraq: Guerilla Evolution

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  1. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    Iraq: Guerrilla Evolution

    By Gary Brecher ( [email protected] )

    Funny thing happened in Iraq: the war came back. Just when we were settling into the national pastime of premature high fives with purple-stained thumbs, the place blew up again. Car bombs, assassinations, and a big, Nam-style sweep by the Marines in Anbar province near the Syrian border, complete with body counts and PR officers claiming they'd "flushed out the insurgents" once and for all.

    Every so-called expert in the media is trying to explain why the supposedly defeated insurgents showed up in force. They told us it's just a few foreign agitators, or it's the insurgency's last gasp, or the da Vinci Code.

    These damn amateurs! They're way off base. The sudden return of the insurgency isn't a surprise. It's par for the course in guerrilla war. What we're seeing now is a stage every guerrilla war goes through: the leaner, meaner insurrection. It's all about learning: learning by seeing your buddies blown up.

    Armies in peacetime never learn anything. They're the slowest, dumbest organisms since the Stegosaurus. Or maybe even the Democratic Party. Whereas armies in combat learn incredibly fast.

    Americans should know that better than anybody, because what with being isolated on our own private continent and depending on citizen-soldiers, we usually start out even more unclear-on-the-concept than other armies. And we pay for that. The first battles fought by US armies aren't pretty to watch: First Bull Run, Kasserine Pass, Task Force Smith at Osan -- a long list of military bloopers. But just check out our armies a year or two on from those battles and you'll see the finest troops in the world: Gettysburg, D-Day, Inchon. That trend hit its glorious high point at the Battle of New Orleans, when we inflicted the worst defeat in history on the British Army two weeks after the peace treaty was signed. Oops, sorry ol' chaps.

    The Iraqi insurgency has been at war for two years, and it's been learning, trying different strategies and adapting. They started slow. That's typical too.

    Insurgencies don't start right away. For a while after the invading army grinds in, the locals are intimidated by all that firepower. And depressed at what a bad showing their conventional army made against it. We saw a clear case of this after the fall of Baghdad: it was months before the Iraqis' morale rose again, and it wasn't until November 2003, eight months later, that the attacks on our troops really spiked.

    What happened in those eight months is that the invincible invaders turned into occupiers, and the locals started to see what dummies they were when it came to running the neighborhood. Going against the Brit generals' advice, Rumsfeld dissolved the Iraqi army, so we had no native allies to work with. That meant our GIs were running security without a clue. They couldn't speak the language or read faces, tell friends from enemies, or even get the power and water working.

    Naturally the locals started to realize these foreign troops aren't invincible at all. The first attacks came over the summer of 2003, when people were at their most pissed-off sitting in the heat without AC. And when the Iraqis saw how easy it is to blow up a convoy, everybody wanted to help throw out the invaders. So you got a sort of "rainbow coalition" insurgency -- room for everybody! Climb on board the bandwagon!

    There was huge range of tactics, from the high end by ex-officers in Saddam's army to pitiful pranks by neighborhood kids. Nobody was running it, least of all Saddam, hunkered down in his backyard kiddie fort.

    It was potluck resistance, with everyone invited: "Hey, I've got a detonator! Anybody have a spare bomb?" So far, this was all strictly by-the-book, standard guerrilla warfare evolution. (And like the man said, we all evolved from guerrillas.)

    Normally, the next stage would be penetration by the invaders' security forces and the collapse of the big, open insurgency. The problem with this first stage of insurgency is it's just so easy to penetrate. Everybody's sharing info, bragging to each other about how they helped set up the last ambush -- and any halfway decent intelligence service will be able to smash that kind of big-mouthed, trusting organization in a few months.

    That didn't happen in Iraq, because -- and it shames me to admit it -- we never penetrated the insurgency at all.

    It shouldn't have been that hard to do, when you could be dead certain that every man, woman, dog and cat in Sunni towns was in on the secret. All an invading army normally has to do is grab somebody off the street, bundle them into an APC and take them to HQ for a little torture. You take down all the names they give you while you're crushing their fingertips, then grab everybody they named and do the same to them, killing as you go, till you've got the whole network safely buried out in the desert, with any survivors on the run and terrified.

    Well, we tortured lots of people -- and that blew up in our faces too, thanks to those idiots with their cellphone cams at Abu Ghraib -- but we never got the dope on the insurgents. That decision not to use Saddam's guys (who were totally ready to work for anybody who paid them) was coming back to haunt us.

    And behind that, the real blame goes to Bush & co. for refusing to admit that we were invading, and that invaders are never popular. An invasion is a war, not a friendly visit. If you don't face that fact, you're going to have problems.

    With no Iraqi allies, we were a blind giant stumbling around Iraq. And nothing's more fun than tripping up a blind man, especially one that just stomped into your neighborhood claiming to be the toughest guy around. What teenager could resist joining a fun game like that?

    So naturally, the all-comers resistance just got bigger and bigger, until the Shia joined in with their Sunni enemies because it just looked so easy and fun to mess with the Americans. By April 2004 we were fighting a two-front open war in Iraq. We lost 140 men in one month. The low point came when we backed down on our threat to invade Fallujah in April-May 2004. Soon it was a "free" zone, under rebel control day and night. Now even that could've worked to our advantage if we were fighting smart. These "free zones" are a deadly trap for guerrilla armies. They concentrate all the most important people in the insurgency in one known spot where they can be subjected to superior firepower. We could've let all the top rebels drain into Fallujah like bacteria into a zit, then popped it hard and sudden with a massive surprise attack.

    Naturally that didn't happen, because Bush and Rummy care more about politics than they do about winning the war or saving GIs' lives. They actually announced that we were going to retake Fallujah months in advance and even provided a countdown to the invasion, hour by hour! It was the stupidest political interference with a military operation since the Austro-Hungarian Empire went out of business. Any half-way intelligent insurgents would've melted away into the countryside, and left nothing but cannon fodder in Fallujah.

    And that's where we may have gotten lucky with the "martyr" complex these Islamic guerrillas have. They love dying, even when guerrilla doctrine says they should vanish and fight when it's more to their advantage. So it looks like a lot of dumb Jihadis stuck around in Fallujah to gain a glorious death and all those afterlife virgins.

    Dying is a powerful weapon of war, absolutely. Thermopylae, the Alamo... these kinds of suicide stands can be militarily effective, especially to buy time for the main army. But you have to be careful, because it's a one-shot weapon. You want to use it when it helps the cause.

    Suicide bombers die smart; they blow themselves up and take a dozen of the enemy with them, and lots of times they penetrate the enemy's most secure areas (GI mess halls, the Green Zone), devastating enemy morale. But dying in a burnt-out house in Fallujah, firing an AK against an M-1 tank, is dying stupid. So we managed, after all, to do our job: we zapped a lot of those romantic suckers last November when we took Fallujah -- by leveling the city, Warsaw-style.

    Now comes stage two of the insurgency: the flag-waving fools are gone, and it's the survivors in control -- guerrilla evolution, survival of the practical guys who want to win instead of dying gloriously. You see the same pattern with insurgencies in Algeria, Chechnya, Colombia: the martyrs get killed off, and the cold-blooded guerrilla operatives take over.

    These guys know that there's only one way to win a guerrilla war: blinding the enemy by killing his spies, his native police force, anybody who cooperates with him. That's what's been happening in Iraq for months now, and nobody understands it. All they notice is that attacks on US troops are down.

    Of course they are; they didn't work. Killing US troops was the insurgents' Plan A: "If we put enough bloody GIs' bodies on US TV, the cowardly Yankees will run away!" It was a reasonable idea, considering we pulled out of Somalia after losing only 18 men. But what the insurgents didn't realize was that Americans had toughened up after 9/11. Casualties didn't faze us like they used to. By election time the Iraqi insurgents had killed 1100 GIs, but Bush still won.

    Time for Plan B. Plan B is classic guerrilla doctrine: "the long war," where you attack the invaders' local allies, not the foreign troops themselves. The idea is, if you wipe out Iraqi collaborators, the US is just a blind giant. He'll stick around for a while, stumble over the countryside wrecking stuff, but sooner or later he'll get sick of stubbing his toes and go home.

    So the insurgents are ignoring the hunkered-down, heavily fortified American bases and hitting the key, soft targets: the Iraqi police. And damn, are they killing a lot of those boys! On one day, May 9, 80 Iraqi police were killed. On average, five cops a day are dying. It's safer selling Bibles door-to-door in Peshawar than strolling through Baghdad in an Iraqi cop suit.

    The insurgents' other strategy is using foreign and Iraqi-Sunni suicide bombers against Shia and Kurdish civilians, hoping to set off a civil war. This doesn't seem to be working as well. It rarely does. Just look at Beslan: the Chechens killed all those kids hoping to draw the Ossetians into an all-out war, but all the raid did was ruin whatever was left of the Chechens' rep.

    The Kurds and Shia aren't retaliating. Why should they? The whole US-funded military machine is doing that for them. Besides, their casualties in the bombings have been mighty small by Iraqi standards.

    The Shia are sitting pretty, laughing at us while they wait for us to leave. Thanks to our obsession with the "democracy" thing, the Shia, who are 62% of the population, are guaranteed to win -- and in the meantime, we're footing the whole bill for their takeover! Sweeeet! Why should they shoot back and queer a great deal like that?

    So with the civil-war strategy failing, everything comes down to a long, slow guerrilla war between our cops 'n' soldiers and their suicide bombers and assassination squads. It's going to be an Iraqi vs. Iraqi war from here on. US ops, like the Marines' big search-and-destroy sweep in Anbar, are just sideshows. Sure, they flushed a few foreign guerrillas who fought to the death, yelling about Allah like idiots. But in a guerrilla war, foreigners are hopeless. The game is about fitting in, avoiding detection, and foreigners just can't compete.

    That goes for us too. We're never going to be able to pick out the bombers from the shoppers in Baghdad. It all depends on whether we can propagandize, or just bribe, enough Iraqis into doing that for us. And if we can't stop the insurgents from killing our allies as fast as they are now, it's going to take a non-stop flood of C-5B's full of motivational speakers to keep those cops from stripping off their uniforms and digging their own backyard forts to hide in, Saddam-style.

    When we've raised the life expectancy of a rookie Iraqi cop from crane-fly level to lizard's level, then we can talk about gaining the upper hand. Til then...round up those motivational speakers, put 'em in uniform, teach 'em Arabic, and send 'em to Baghdad to see if they can persuade enough dummies to wear a uniform that might as well have "Shoot me, I'm expendable" in neon on the back.


    Gary is rude, and slightly political. I urge you to ignore that, and focus on the analysis... which is one I haven't heard before: why the insurgents seem to be focusing their assasinations/terrorist attacks on the police forces.
     
  2. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    Anyone care to comment? I'm interested in hearing how Gary's analysis comapres with people that have actually been in the shit.
     
  3. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    That means the situation is too complicated to understand :(

    Its actually a good read... if you start it, I think you'll finish it. Its not dry, like most war analysis.
     
  4. Ranger-AO

    Ranger-AO I'm here for the Taliban party. Moderator

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    Do you have a link to the original?

    It's not an easy read. The author likes to hear himself talk way too much, and he could use a class in how to write a more concise and readable story.

    A lot of what he said is true. But with his incredible one-sided sarcasm and arrogance, it was hard to focus on the data in his message instead of the rant.

    It may be true that we should not have completely disbanded the Iraqi military. They could have become one of our best advocates in keeping the country held together. We caused every Iraqi military member to lose face yet again when we disbanded them. But leaving the military intact would also have been a huge gamble, and unlike the author, I can't fault the decision to disband them. Would you wage a deadly fight with someone and then give him his guns back after you beat him up? That would have been a helluva tough sell. And if that had happened, we would be sitting at our safe little computers right now debating why the hell someone would do such a thing, because either way they decided would have led to a set of bad consequences.

    He mentioned nothing about the Iraqi citizens that are turning in insurgents and pointing out IEDs at an ever increasing rate. But I chalked that up to his obvious need to feel superior.

    He barely mentioned the Sunni Kurds who are living in peace and who's economy is prospering because they decided that they would not tolerate the insurgency.

    In the end, all I can say is he has some facts dead on; some facts wildly off-base, and the rest is just political filler and ego-stroking.
     
  5. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    Gary Brecher is a rude fucking asshole. That goes without saying. Still, he educates me about military things that I, as a civilian, don't get anywhere else. Also, sometimes he's really, really funny.

    So you don't think the campaign to prevent insurgent group infiltration by terrorizing the Iraqi police is being effective? Would you agree that the strategy has shifted to that of a traditional guerilla war?
     
  6. Ranger-AO

    Ranger-AO I'm here for the Taliban party. Moderator

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    That depends on what you mean by "effective". Yes, they are killing people. No, they are not driving down the numbers new recruits to the Iraqi police force.

    The Iraqi's themselves created the Iraqi Commando brigades as an elite force capable of going anywhere in the country and sitting on a hot spot until they were able to cool it down. They did that in response to the humiliating display of cowardice and dessertion that the US-led Iraqi troops showed in the first attack on Fallujah. They are much more effective at knowing who the bad guys are than we will ever be. Once we saw what they were doing, and admitted to ourselves that our way was not working, we got behind it and provided training, equipment, intell, and logistical support. And now the Iraqi Commando brigades are the best indigenous millitary and propaganda weapon we have against the insurgency.

    The insurgency has absolutely adopted new tactics. And it is absolutely true that they are evolving into a more dangerous force. But the more they kill off Iraqis, the more support we get from the population.

    We and the Iraqis are in this for the long haul - and Iraq will win in the end because of it.

    By the way - the evolution of the conflict in Iraq is going almost word-for-word according to this Army Field Manual on Counter-Guerrilla Operations, written in 1988: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/90-8/Ch1.htm
     
  7. BassBoy14

    BassBoy14 New Member

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    You tell him Ranger, turn his bull shit back at him and he cant think right
     
  8. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    Or, and here's a novel idea you may or may not like: instead of trolling on this forum, which is against the rules: type up your next obnoxious flame, and instead of posting it, shove it up your fucking ass.

    And then please drive through ;)

    Ther article is a little bit out there. I stated that. I asked for comments, which others have provided in a civil and intelligent manner. If you can't participate like an adult, then go hang out in OT. Thats for brats. This place is not.

    Thanks :)
     
  9. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    Its not my bullshit. Its Gary Brecher's bullshit. His email is at the top of the post, if you'd like to communicate with him about his bullshit directly. I'm sure he'd appreciate it.

    I read it, it was interesting to me, and I thought I'd see what the guys who are actually there think about it. :hs:
     
  10. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    Actually, if you'll look, the forum moderator not only engaged me in intelligent discussion, he directed me to a better source. He articulated a response.

    You articulated a flame. So please shove this one up your ass too. You are a poor representative of our armed forces.
     
  11. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    Buddy, I don't care what you think of me either. And to be perfectly honest: I don't think of you.

    But...

    THIS IS NOT THE PLACE TO DISCUSS THAT.

    Its called flaming. Its called trolling. Its against the forum rules.

    If you want to do that shit, PM me, or put it someplace else. Stop violating forum rules.
     
  12. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    You're now being civil, and not flaming. Watch the difference in response that you get:

    I don't post bullshit content to this forum. In fact, this is the only one that anyone has objected to so far.

    Admittedly, this piece was somewhat political, and Gary Brecher is an asshole. I posted all that before you got involved. What I was interested in, were soldiers' opinions about the state of the insurgency. Gary is more blunt about presenting the evolution of the insurgency than anyone I've seen.

    Except for the link that Ranger posted, which is actually right in line with Gary's analysis, sans all opinion, since its a manual.

    Now that you and I know what we think of both each other, and the author of the article... would you care to contribute to this thread and explain what you think about the development of the insurgency?
     
  13. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    First of all, no you were not civil. Second of all, you continue to refuse to contribute to this thread, so its time to step out of it. I made it quite clear that I was not attempting to initiate a political thread, but was rather interested in the evolution of the insurgency, and in the discussion of their tactics.

    You can't handle that, so you should never have gotten involved. Thanks.
     
  14. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    You are not being civil right now, through your repitition, and non-contribution. And so you continues to contribute nothing, but attack attack attack. I heard you the first time. It is noted.

    Answer: No.

    I'll post whatever I want, as long its appropriate for this forum, and Ranger and the other moderators don't disapprove. Ranger's participation in this thread pretty much backs me on this. He corrected Gary, and I learned alot from his link.

    You are the problem here, not me.
     
  15. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    Never have, never will. ;)

    Have some respect for your brothers in arms and try not to view your personal opinions about posts as the sole guide to whether they are appropriate or not.

    I'm done interacting with the troll. :broly:
     
  16. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    No thanks. I'll continue to discuss tactical matters right here. And you'll keep reading it, and you'll keep suffering, because thats how you are.
     
  17. Soren

    Soren OT Supporter

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    is this true? would there be a PR hit?
     
  18. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    I'll go on thinking that, and so will Ranger, apparently... who was discussing tactical and strategic matters with me, and even provided a link to a manual.

    And yes, I know you'll keep reaing, because you've been willing to go on and on for two pages about nothing but what a shitbag me and that leftie War Nerd are. Its called psychology. Ask a Psy Ops guy about it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2005
  19. Ranger-AO

    Ranger-AO I'm here for the Taliban party. Moderator

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    end of thread.
     
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