Looking at the "Surge" from the other side

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Red Shrek, Jan 26, 2007.

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  1. Looking at the Surge From the Other Side

    By Gary Anderson
    Friday, January 26, 2007; Page

    Policy Memo From the Planning Directorate, Mahdi Army:

    We have completed a review of the new American surge strategy announced by their president. In analyzing possible courses of action, we must make two key assumptions:

    First, it represents their administration's last chance to change course given the reported mood of the American public and their legislature. For us, this presents both opportunity and danger. We have to assume that we are the primary Shiite target of this plan. How we respond will largely determine how we position ourselves for operations after the Americans are gone.

    Second, our Sunni adversaries will not be able to react in a coordinated manner; they are expected to remain divided in their actions and motivations.

    Our first potential course of action would be to openly resist government and American efforts to gain control over Sadr City and other predominately Shiite neighborhoods. Potential advantage: Waging a stand-up battle could create such chaos and so many disturbing images of casualties -- American and Iraqi -- that the American public and Congress will demand an immediate withdrawal.

    The disadvantages here are that such a battle would weaken us by causing attrition to our best fighters. We are just now recovering from the casualties that we sustained in the 2004 fighting with the occupiers. We must keep in mind (and be prepared for) the inevitable post-American battles with the Sunnis and the Badr Organization.

    A second potential course of action is classic insurgent strategy: going to ground when confronted by enemy strength. The object here would be to lull the enemy into a false sense of security, perhaps enough for him to begin decreasing his strength early. Once the Americans have carried out a significant drawdown, we could openly challenge the government forces and attempt to push them out of our areas of influence. It is very likely this would have the effect of the Vietnamese Tet Offensive in convincing the Americans that nothing they do will work. It is also unlikely that their administration could get support for reinforcing Baghdad once they have begun to reduce troop levels.

    Potential drawbacks:

    First, there is always the chance that the Americans and the Maliki government will use this period to significantly increase the capability of the security forces and actually gain public support through increasing public service and employment, rendering us far less useful to Maliki. Given their performance to date, this is a remote possibility, but it cannot be totally discounted.

    More likely is that some of our more enthusiastic fighters will resist on their own authority. Given the decentralized nature of our command-and-control system, this possibility must be considered. One solution would be to create training camps outside of Baghdad where we could hone their skills for urban combat (necessary if we are to succeed in the future). This would keep them occupied and out of the way.

    A third course would be to avoid challenging the Americans and government forces directly but continue to attack them with IEDs and snipers. There will be many more American targets on the street, and a continuing stream of casualties would further undermine American public support. This has the advantage of keeping our fingerprints off such operations because the Sunnis will probably do this regardless of what we do. This also conserves our combat power. It shares the potential disadvantage that the American "hearts and minds" strategy may actually work and that the security forces will increase in capability. Again, we think this is unlikely.

    Consequently, this final course seems to be the one most likely to serve our long-term interests by preserving our capabilities and allowing the Sunnis to bear the brunt and take the blame for most anti-government action. Clearly, America's time here is limited. Hurrying its exit at the cost of weakening our position does not make sense. We have been patient for a thousand years; another year or so is nothing.

    If God wills it, we will be successful.

    The writer, a retired US Marine Colonel and currently a defense consultant, has been an opposition player in many war games regarding Iraq and Afghanistan.

  2. Sorry but have I misread this?

    "Policy Memo From the Planning Directorate, Mahdi Army:"

    "The writer, a retired US Marine Colonel and currently a defense consultant"

    So is a retired US Colonel now the Mahdi Army Planning Directorate?
  3. He is writing up the possible scenario that Sadr and his boys could play. This is not really from Sadr, it is from the Retired USMC Colonel who normally plays OPFOR on Exercises.
  4. The writer, a retired US Marine Colonel and currently a defense consultant, has been an opposition player in many war games regarding Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I think the bit in bold explains it.
  5. I'm sure I said just this...
  6. Umm,

    For Red Shrek and Brewmeister - a "WAAH" would surely seem to be in order. :biggrin:

    Anyone else: I wonder if this is the same bloke (ex-USMC?) who played OPFOR leader in a major US CPX a few years ago, and consistently trounced a US Naval/Amphib task force by using blokes in little boats and suchlike, until he was gripped and told "play nice". Dam'd if I can remeber his name, but he's a sharp cookie.

    Razor sharp compared to that dunkin' donut in the Oval Office.
  7. I believe you are referring to Retired USMC Lt.General Paul Van Riper

  8. Thanks - the very man.

    The world needs more like him.

    Sadly, they ain't working for Big George Dubya (or lttle Tony, for that matter).
  9. Methinks that the septics want to be a bit more careful about allowing opfor thinking to get out.

    They may change thoughts like "hit them with all the boys we can muster up, all the time, with whatever we've got . . . until we run out of all of the above" to "Let's play the long game, keep our attrition rates down, plan for both their exit and after their exit, draw support in both training and materiele from neighbours in Iran, try and get the other side mullahed as those reponsible for our attacks, go to ground when we get hit etc etc etc".

    If a US opfor guy manages to trounce the good guys using f-all, best not to publish for an enemy how he achieved it!
  10. Errmm, you didn't lift that from Saddam Hussein's field notebook did you?

    He certainly revised his game plan after GW1, and it rather caught Rummy and Dubya on the back foot.

    Von Moltke the Elder is supposed to have taught his subordinates:
    "You will naturally conclude that the enemy has only two possible options, of which, of course, he will naturally choose the third".
  11. What that military fellow's stab at an analysis does is perpetuate and re enforce the idea that Moqtada is in fact running any sort of an organisation that resembles an army as the coalition forces understand one.

    He's a cleric for gods sake. He's a pulpit thumper. He's good for getting crowds out on a street and or for telling crowds to stay in doors.
    As such he spends a great deal of time pontificating in halls in front of respectful if not adoring congregations.
    A lot of his other time will be spent receiving petitioners and gifts and dispensing favours.
    His main role is to articulate and give a steer to the hopes, wishes and ambitions and allay the fears of the inarticulate whilst setting it all in a shia tradition. In so expressing the peoples narrative he therefore perpetuates the very tradition that he serves.

    In other words he is just like religious leaders of other faiths.
    It is important even from a military point of view to understand this.
    And I no doubt expect the British military do so.

    By inspiring his 'flock', as it were, about all matters of life on a regular basis, Moqtada is more capable than any military commander to call his 'flock' to arms.

    Unlike a good military commander however, he wouldn't be so good at directing them in what they then should do.

    The religious leaders life is one of contemplation, a military leaders life is one of action.
    Religious leaders consider the here after, the general considers the here and now.
    These are two completely different skill sets and indeed mindsets.

    It is therefore in my view important to try and understand as clearly as possible the deep underlying difference between those in their own homeland who fight for reasons inspired by their faith and those who oppose them with the professionally run armies from mature industrial nations.

    If the motives of the western powers are honest ones and a stable and secure Iraq for all Iraqis is actually the intended goal of all this war an understanding of the other fellows point of view is essential in order that future aggresive military operations can be limited and more focused leading to less death and destruction that might otherwise occur.

    The analyst was heading in a direction that I take myself and which Moqtada might most fear. That his support could be pulled from under his feet by an active program of renovation and developement in Sadr city.

    This I am quite sure has long ago occured to British commanders and had they had control of Baghdad I'm also sure would have begun well before now.
    However the designs for what is actually wanted in Iraq back in the Whitehouse are I suspect quite different and indeed at variance with the idea of a truely stable Iraq governed by its people for the people.

    I want to return later to this matter of the real reasons for the surge as I see them but this post is long enough and I don't want to hog the thread.

  12. Ooooh you are a dark horse slurboy!

    There are some critical problems in respect of your post - the first is that the US has the dosh and the the British don't.

    If Broon et al can't even afford a couple more helichoppers, how the feck will we get money for a British effort at reconstruction? (Unless the cnuts have earmarked giving money away for the ragheads that should have gone on UK kit).

    As for the septics, they haven't got passed "dammit man, woss the point of havin'a army in Iraq if you aint gunna knock stuff down wid it?"
  13. I'm guessing that many of them are wily enough to figure out the details for themselves.

    Big problem for military is the 'headless' nature of insurrection and terrorist groups. Rupert Smith has some fancy term for it (something about root systems in weeds?).

    As long as MaS's people ar fired up, they'll go on having a pop. It's a bit like sticking your hand into an anthill. You can take out the Queen Ant, but the rest aren't going to stop stinging you.
  14. ...but Mr al-Sadr as a follower of a Prophet who led his people in prayer as well as on the battlefield may not agree with you.

    Without reverting to pop psychology - how much control does al-Sadr exercise over the people who call themselves his followers?

    Does it have a centralised command structure or is it a looser coalition of parties and gangs who have allied themselves to the Sadrist cause, often for local political reasons?

    If not al-Sadr, is anyone in charge of the overall strategy of the Mahdi Army? Or is Iraq so chaotic that this would be unworkable?