Ramadi, Iraq: A Mess

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 11 months ago

This post has been updated with Ramadi is Still a Troubled City.


Those of you who are consistent readers at my site (believe it or not, there are actually a few of you) know that when I think I see a spade, I call it a spade. Right or wrong, I call it like I see it.

I am a patriot.  This post is not about the war in terms of its rightness or wrongness.  It is about how we are conducting part of the war and the potentially terrible cost to U.S. lives that might result from our current strategy.  It is time to weigh in on Ramadi.  I think it is a mess, and I think that its a mess because of the tactical approach taken by the brass.  This will not make me popular with the brass, but they don’t read my blog anyway, so I have lost nothing and I’ve kept my honesty.

Early on I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, but pointed out that this tactic of surgically striking at the insurgents in Ramadi (while also leaving the civilians in the city) was prone to disaster and carried the risk of utter failure.  Now, I feel that it is not only prone to disaster, but will also cost U.S. lives in the future.

I questioned in a earlier post on Ramadi “what kind of strategy digs a hole and puts U.S. troops in it waiting to be attacked,” or something like that (and in fact, the U.S. troops were taking bets as to when they would be attacked).  Now, this from Ramadi:

Ramadi, Iraq – Peering over piles of sandbags in this ravaged city, US Marines sometimes see more gunmen on the streets than municipal employees going to work.  The provincial governor regularly arrives at his office with armed gaurds in tow.

After three years of war in Ramadi, the US military has yet to move from combat to stabilization operations in most of this Sunni Arab city of 400,000 people, the capital of Anbar province.

Here full-fledged combat still rages. Efforts to build a local government have faltered.

In just four months, one Marine has fired 27 rockets. Another estimates he has fired 5,000 rounds from a .50-caliber machine gun. One marksman has 20 confirmed kills. His superiors believe he has probably killed another 40 but they are not sure.

The US military said Sunday that four US Marines assigned to the Regimental Combat Team 7 were killed in action in Anbar province, although it did not say where.

Residents of Ramadi are afraid of even walking near the offices of the Anbar provincial government, which is supposed to administer an area the size of Greece, and with about 1 million inhabitants.

“There’s been a concerted campaign against government officials that’s had some great success … the government center is nearly devoid of governance,? said the top Marine intelligence officer for the 3rd Battalion, 8th Regiment, who asked not to be identified because of security policies for intelligence officers.

Earlier this year, policemen were stationed in a rebuilt station within the compound  but daily attacks scared them away. Now the freshly painted police station is empty, surrounded by police cars with tires flattened by mortar shrapnel. Iraqi soldiers were also relocated to safer parts of the city, leaving the government’s defense again in the hands of Marines.

[ … ]

In recent weeks the US military has tried to remove neighborhoods from insurgent control, building new outposts deeper into the city to extend the reach of its patrols. Marines are also trying to expand the so-called “Green Zone? of the city, a calmer western neighborhood of about 25,000 people near a cluster of US bases.

But in the heart of the city, the war is unabated.

I could have stopped reading after the words “peering over piles of sandbags.”  It was George Patton who famously said “fixed fortifications are monuments to man’s stupidity.”  Don’t get me wrong.  I would dig a deep hole too.

But the solution is not to dig a hole.  I do understand that war has changed.  But it hasn’t changed so much that it now becomes a good thing to give the enemy time to re-group, deploy more weapons, recruit more troops, litter the landscape with more explosives and target practice at U.S. troops.  Patton understood that time could be your enemy or your friend in war, depending upon how the war is conducted.  He understood that had it not been for sending his precious gasoline reserves to Montgomery, he likely would have been in Berlin with the war having been concluded within weeks of concluding his push across France.  Without U.S. gasoline, the Germans managed to launch the Battle of the Bulge at a terrible cost in U.S. lives.  Politics, i.e., sending gasoine to our British allies, cost U.S. lives.  Montgomery’s role was not critical.  Patton’s role was.  I am not being jingoistic here.  This is just how it is.

Given time, the insurgents in Ramadi will lay enough IEDs and recruit enough men to cause terrible losses to the U.S.  Time is our enemy in the battle for Ramadi.  We can turn it into our friend by pushing through Ramadi now.  We can treat it like Fallujah, or we can take terrible losses.

That is how I see it.


**** UPDATE ****

I have sent a note to the Multi-National Defense Command in Iraq offering to give them equal time (or space) to supply a rebuttal to this post.

  • http://www.youmbkidding.blogspot.com You Must Be Kidding

    Ramadi was a hell hole LAST year, too and 3ID took some terrible losses there… I hope the Marines and Army units there now are not just dug in waiting for the clock to tick down… and then 3ID or whoever rotates back there end of this year aren’t the worst for it… I say put everything we’ve got into it now and blast the crap outta the insurgents once and for all and let us go home and the Iraqis get on with it.

  • caelestis

    Ramadi was a hellhole back in 04 when I was with the 1st of the 1st ID. I was almost killed a few times, and it seemed like we never took the fight to the enemy.

  • http://yahoo.com Chris

    in ramadi now and it seems the politics is what is holding us back on taking the city. I agree fully lets blast the hell outta these bastards. Sorry to say we are letting time kill us too…it sucks!!

  • SGT Brad

    I was with 3ID in Ramadi in 2005 and I know all about those terrible losses. Political issues aside, we never should have pulled the heavy 3ID out and replaced us with the light guys of the 101st. We should’ve been replaced with 4ID. All respect to the legs, but Ramadi has IEDs that split Brads and Tanks in half. We need a respectable heavy force (not just our one battalion) to go in there and crush the terrorists. Then the light boys can go clean up.

You are currently reading "Ramadi, Iraq: A Mess", entry #186 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) War & Warfare and was published August 1st, 2006 by Herschel Smith.

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