Phase One is continuing . . .
Thank you all for continuing to read daily! My traffic is increasing very quickly. If you get a chance, be sure to visit one of my sponsors' ads. In today's news, we find that shaping actions are continuing in Fallujah. These have thus far included: -an increase in airstrikes against prepared enemy positions, command and control nodes, and weapons caches -some very aggressive patrolling on the outskirts of the city -- this is building expectations in the minds of the enemy that we are serious and committed. -press releases which highlight the resolve of US forces (every single press release from I MEF for the past few days has ended with a phrase like, "We will not stop until Fallujah has been returned to the Iraqi government." -final unit positioning I continue with my assessment that we are in the shaping phase of the campaign. Here is how I estimate this operation will go: Phase I: Shaping Actions: We're seeing this now, as described above. Phase II: Ground Assault. The mission will be to remove anti-Iraq forces (AIF) from power within Fallujah and other cities. The beginning of this phase may be event-driven. When this starts, watch the press releases very closely. "Defeat" means we will try to break their will to fight. "Destroy" means we will physically destroy the enemy forces. Both of course involve combat, but to differing degrees and with different objectives. Phase III: Exploitation and Reconstruction: I expect that our victory will be followed swiftly with very aggressive moves to pursue any fleeing enemy forces, and to immediately move in to reconstruct the city, flooding it with Civil Affairs teams, probably interacting with Iraqi National forces. Our victory will be advertised a great deal in the Iraqi national and Arab regional media (more than just the token headlines we'll get in the US and Europe). Intelligence exploitation teams will be sifting through everything (and everyone) they can get their hands on too. An alert reader, 'cjr' has mentioned that perhaps we are attempting to use the same method with Fallujah as the Brits did in Basrah: that is, wait outside the city and gather intelligence, then have lightning strikes inside to quickly defeat bad guys, then quietly moving back to the perimeter. I am too unfamiliar with the British actions in Basrah to comment on this yet, but my first thoughts are: who were they fighting, insurgents or bypassed Iraqi military units? My gut tells me we will have a fast, violent assault, and my gut tells me we have excellent intelligence on the positions and dispositions of enemy forces. A question for you analytical types: presumably, the insurgency is a result of an Iraqi Army that melted away under the US onslaught, found itself linking up with foreign fighters, and now is funded from both domestic sources and abroad. The question is, what keeps the fighters from leaving, melting into the populace and dispersing from their concentration in the city? I think there are two answers: First, they still think they can win. Battles are won or lost in the minds of the commanders, and they still have hope in their minds. Second, the sanctuary of weaponry, local political support, command and control infrastructure (however sophisticated), and ready ties to cash sources cannot be picked up and moved. I've touched on this earlier when I mention why I think Zarqawi is still in the city. I'm not saying that small bands of insurgents can'tleave, posing as civilians and setting up shop elsewhere. What I'm saying is that by doing so, they will completely cut themselves off from command and control from above, and will no longer be able to mass in a single place. The US won't let this happen again. Therefore, if some small groups do leave, even if they are successful afterwards in some bombings or beheadings, eventually they will run out of steam without the logistical, moral, and command support that can be readily found when they have coalesced in a physical place. Another topic floating around in the news: Have the Iraqi forces that will fight alongside the Marines bee infiltrated with insurgents? I think not. I have no doubt that insurgents have been successful in hiding themselves amongst many of the fledgling Iraqi units, but I think that the ones going into the Sunni triange will be heavily vetted. And we only need a few thousand out of the total (which is over 100,000) to put an Iraqi face on the victory. And the units fighting with us will be vets of other battles, like Samarra. If there are insurgents amongst them, why wouldn't they have disrupted that battle? It seems to have gone off with few problems. A reader asks in the comments section how I can know what is going on if I'm not there. Excellent question. Short answer: educated guesswork. I was a staff officer involved in planning before, during and after the invasion. Though I was in nary a firefight, figuring out the big picture was my job. I should note that I am not going to post anything that I think will endanger our boys. I have some pretty wild ideas about the ground assault that I will keep to myself. I am a combat engineer by training and the idea of going into a fortified city has my creative juices flowing . . . Future topics to be covered on these pages: -the Iran situation: military, political, or other solution? -the future of American politics: since everyone is talking about this, I will offer my own ruminations -a general critique of military-related film -applying business models to the use of military power: problems and opportunities -the future of labor unions -thoughts on the idea of "netwar" and many other topics. So keep tuning in. I will do my best to hold your attention. [Admin note: I welcome comments on the layout, appearance or of course, content of my blog. Please let me know, via the comments, if you have concerns or ideas.]