CHESTER HAS MOVED!: Phase One is continuing . . .

Thursday, November 04, 2004

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.]


Blogger DSM said...

Airstrikes against fighting positions in the streets. Standby, hell and the Dogs are about to be unleashed. Semper Fi!

November 5, 2004 at 12:18 AM  
Blogger schutzhund said...

Any Hue' veterans out there? Is Fallujah shaping up like it? I am reading and hearing we face up to 5000 "insurgents". If so, and the city is booby trapped in every street and doorway, this is going to be tough.
What say you all?
I ask because I am a combat veteran of 'Nam, but it was all in the jungle and hamlets.

November 5, 2004 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger Bacelic said...

I remember when I first read the word: Fallujah. It was during the initial invasion sometime at the end of March 2003. I saw it on a map at (for those of you who remember Venik and his "russian intelligence reports regarding the progress of Iraq war"). I remember the guy who wrote these "reports" ( which were of questionable value, it seems to me now, but at the time, it seemed to be a good place to get intel) said something about US armored units racing to cut the strategic highway leading from Baghdad into Al-Anbar province near the town called Fallujah. It struck me as an interesting name. But there was something else in the name. Something dark, powerful, determined. It sounded dangerous, ominous. Was it a premonition of things to come? Probably just my brain playing tricks on me today.

Russians had Stalingrad, Americans had Alamo, Jews had Massada, Croats had Vukovar... places that where often to become decisive turning points of wars. Places where desperate men resisted the superior armies. Flesh against steel. Places that inspire grim respect, today.

U.S. armed forces can take Fallujah. They have the firepower, they have the numbers. It can be done, no question about it, from the purely military point of view. But the ultimate result and the consequences it will trigger can not be predicted. It may become a martyr city that will serve as a battle-cry for all those opposing the US presence in Iraq. What more can be said? What price glory?

November 5, 2004 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger Bacelic said...

These guys will be tougher than Mahdi Army in Najaf. Many experienced Iraqi army officers came from Fallujah. These guys know the ground and are reportedly digging tunnels to move beetween houses witout being seen and setting up booby-traps and they had more than 6 months to prepare.

November 5, 2004 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

We are hearing rumors of Chemical warfare threats by the Fallujah Terrorists. What do you think about that?

November 5, 2004 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

I think it has begun or their is a sizeable ground probe going on. Check ou the video on Reuters. I'm pretty sure I hear controlled bursts of fire from the Bradley's 25MM and I suspect I'm seeing the the explosions from the 105MM on the C-130H.

November 5, 2004 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger starfalcon said...

The folks there seem to have a plethora of small arms and explosives available..are they just issue from Sadam in anticpation of the invasion or have they been pilfered from Iraqi military supplies? I would think that a constant pressure on the perimiter of the enclave would tend to reduce their munitions supply.

I also understand that the residential area is undermined with all kinds of rooms and tunnels. is this a truth or fiction?

November 5, 2004 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger j house said...

To paraphrase the NY Time's reporting of the insurgent's preparedness for the assault-
'The insurgency must be getting advice from military experts, as they have created a layered defense, an outer perimeter and and inner perimeter, that will allow them a fall back defense'

This totally discounts a key US advantage-air supremacy (and ownership of the night)

"Death from Above"
Semper Fi

November 8, 2004 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger Dr. Applebreath said...

I know this sounds hopelessly naive on this blog, but I'm not finding answers anywhere else so I'll take the risk embarrassing myself.

Why is this intense ground assault necessary? A vet above mentioned Hue as a possible comparison. If the civilians have mostly evacuated, why aren't we using something like the incredible air war that reduced the terrorist strongholds in Afghanistan?

Even if their underground defenses are as mature and formidable as those at Cu Chi, today's penetrating weapons will be terribly effective. Fuel-air weapons would clear large blocks at a time of surface combatants, even those in small and medium buildings.

Why does the Third MEF have to go in like this?

Asked with all due respect and honest interest. Sorry if I sound stupid.

Thanks to all you vets on this blog, thank you for your service to this country.

November 8, 2004 at 3:47 PM  
Blogger Dominic said...

I see the Battle of Fallujah as being necessary. This will be a Stalingrad or a Hue type of battle. Not a Kursk style of fight. Should American forces be able to quickly and utterly destroy the insurgents in Fallujah, it does more than the state purposes of freeing the region:

1) It dampens the spirits of the Muslim world! It can be a great demotivator to the Arab street. Offering the die hard Muslims a peek at a formidable foe.

2) It destroys a large concentration of insurgence all at once. The death toll will be high, but it serves a purpose. I guess you can say that this would be a decisive battle?

3) Prime minister Alliwi made stronger politically. I see the inclusion of the Iraqi forces as a facade designed to do just that, put an Iraqi face on the battle along with provide justification for the government.

4) Allows us(America) to exact a bit of revenge for events which should have occurred in April

I served in the Marine Corps,and I know the fighting spirit of these guys; many will sacrifice their lives but this may shape up to be another victory that goes alongside the others that have made us who were are.

November 8, 2004 at 4:51 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

"...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." -Chester

I agree with all of the above. One key element of Zarqawi's command and control structure is the media (possible al-Jazeera TV). They have the means, the motive and the method to be Zarqawi's information network. They have communication gear, vehicles, and well position camera men filming from enemy positions. Just take a look at the major networks and you will see films of the enemy in action. This is no fluke. TV "News" networks can be used as a cover for a command and control structures. I believe this aspect of Zarqawi's network must be dealt with along with his thugs.

Finding Zarqawi will require basic information gathering tactics. This would include detaining and aggressively debriefing all of Zarqawi's family and associates. The entire Zarqawi group must be squeezed for information. And, it would be wise to interview of "newsmen" who just happened to be embedded with the enemy. It could be a gold mine of information.

November 8, 2004 at 6:20 PM  
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