The Administration Implementation Of The Cloward-Piven Strategy

Herschel Smith · 29 Jun 2014 · 39 Comments

The setup for this has been occurring for quite a while.  The collectivists on the right have helped the leftists gain strength, but the rate and fury of activity that has been consequential in destabilizing the United States has increased almost beyond comprehension. The long term evolution of America to a position where such a strategy might stand a greater chance of success began long ago with the move towards urbanization.  The flight from rural America was helped along with family…… [read more]

Sun Tzu Speaks to James Baker

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 7 months ago

Honorable Secretary Baker, I wish you had consulted with me before you and your colleagues wrote your report about Iraq.  I lived long ago, but thought I would return and visit just this once, since it seems that my counsel is so badly needed.

It is with dismay that I read your heart in the report.  I have always found that it is best to hide your intentions.  If I am able to determine the enemy’s dispositions while at the same time I conceal my own, then I can concentrate and he must divide.  And if I concentrate while he divides, I can use my entire strength to attack a fraction of his (VI.13).  War is based on deception (VII.12), and I am afraid that you have told the enemy your dispositions.

It seems that you have set great burden upon this idea of training other armies to do your work for you.  Be careful!  One who sets an entire army in motion to chase an advantage will not attain it (VII.5).  Your approach to victory should be like a jewel – with many facets.  The good and experienced general makes no mistakes in war (X.25).

Remember this adage to assure that your army will have what it needs.  Use normal force to engage; use the extraordinary to win (V.5).  And whatever you do, hasten to push forward with your forces, because speed is the essence of war (XI.29).

You have enemy both in the middle of combat with your armies, and yet also off to the side, watching, aiding, and providing succor to the enemy you are fighting.  I note with dismay that you wish to talk with them and ask for their assistance in attaining victory.  Oh, please be careful here.

I am a proponent of winning wars without fighting, but to do this requires being in a position that you have not attained and apparently to which you do not aspire.  When your ardour is dampened, neighbors will take advantage of you (II.5).  You must not miss any opportunity to master your enemy (IV.13).  Requesting their help will only empower them, tell them the thoughts of your heart, and convince them that you are weak.

You must always assume that the enemy will come to fight you, and be prepared for him (VIII.16).  Do not ever assume that your enemy will provide you with help, for it is at that time that he will take the advantage and master you.

If you wish to engage the enemy in talk, then you must do so by first positioning yourself as the master.  He who intimidates his neighbors does so by inflicting injury upon them (VIII.14).  Your enemies must be intimidated by you in order for talk of peace to have the affect you desire.

You will know when you have attained this position.  Your enemy will come to you and ask for talk, rather that you going to him.

Ansar al Sunna Capture to Aid Eventual al Qaeda Demise

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 7 months ago

In Ansar al Sunna Leadership: U.S. Forces Net Big Insurgent Catch, I discussed the coup that had been accomplished against what might be the most significant insurgent group in Iraq.  In Failure of Main Stream Media to Report Huge Victory Against Insurgents, I discussed how the MSM had utterly failed to understand or report the significance of this.  The Multi-National Force Web Site is now fully engaged in the story (why so late?), and is giving us some of the details of the story.

BAGHDAD, Iraq – On Wednesday, the Government of Iraq released the names and photos of several suspected senior-level Ansar al Sunna emirs who were captured by Coalition Forces during a series of raids in mid-November.

The AAS network is responsible for improvised explosive device attacks and suicide attacks on Iraqi government, Coalition Forces and Iraqi civilians.  The AAS network is also responsible for multiple kidnappings, small arms attacks and other crimes in the central and northern part of Iraq. 

One terrorist emir, Abu Mohammed aka Ismail, AAS Emir of Yusifiyah was killed during a raid late November.

The suspected Ansar al Sunna emirs who were captured are:

National level:

- Ramadan Muhammad Salih Ahmad (Bilbas) aka Abu Mustafa, AAS Emir of Iraq.  Abu Mustafa is a founding member of AAS.
- Taha Ahmad Pir-Dawud Ahmad (Surchi), aka Hajji Sa’id, Senior AAS representative and al-Qaida facilitator.
- ‘Adnan ‘Abdallah ‘Alaywi Muhammad (al-‘Ithawi), aka Abu Jaffar, AAS Secretary.  He was Abu Mustafa’s personal assistant and he was responsible for arranging AAS senior-level meetings.

Regional level:

- Hatim Abd-al-Ghafar Muslim Muhammad (al Shimar), aka Abu Taha, AAS Emir of Al Qa’im and Western al Anbar.  He allegedly was a Colonel in the Iraqi Army before the war.
- ‘Abd-al-Basit ‘Abd-al-Razzaq Hasan ‘Ali (al-‘Abbasi), aka Abu Asim, AAS Emir of Tikrit.
- ‘Ali Hasayn ‘Ali “Abdallah (Zandi), aka Abu Bandar, AAS Emir of Baqubah.
- Amjad ‘Abd-al-Sattar Muhammad ‘Ali (al-Ta’i), aka Abu Najila, AAS Emir of Ramadi and Eastern al Anbar.
- Sa’id Jasim Muhammad Khudayyir al-Jadid (al-Juwaynat), aka Abu Sayf, AAS Emir of Bayji.
- Husayn Khudayyir ‘Abbas Majid (al-Zubaydi), aka Abu Husayn, AAS Emir of Bazayiz.
- Salih Khudayyir Salman Jadi (al-Juburi), aka Sajad, AAS Emir of Fallujah.

This is another step closer to defeating al-Qaida in Iraq and helping establish a safe and peaceful Iraq.  Coalition Forces will continue to target not only senior al-Qaida in Iraq leaders, but all associated terrorist movements like Ansar Al Sunna.

What they are not telling you is just how this relates to al Qaeda.  I had known some of the relationship, but in posting originally on this, Michael Ledeen saw some inaccuracies and, by use of one of his contacts, gave me the correct scoop.  I thought I would provide you with it below, citing from my original post linked above.

“Ansar al-Islam was formed out of a merger of the majority Kurdish groups Hamas (inspired by but not identical to the Palestinian group of the same name), Second Soran Unit, and al-Tawhid. I think September 2001 was the last time that they were majority Kurdish, because after that they started receiving a heavy influx of “Afghan Arabs? – you know the drill – and they soon outnumbered the original Kurdish fighters.

Fast forward to OIF in 2003. Most of the group is killed by the US and the battered remnants flee to Iran. They reorganize under the protection of the IRGC, but there is a lot of internal controversy.

Some members want to go join Zarqawi (AMZ), while others blame him and the international attention he brought to their activities for their current plight. By November 2003, the split finalizes and about half join AMZ while the others go back into Iraq as Jaish Ansar al-Sunnah.

They are pro-AQ but anti-AMZ and keep sending nasty reports back to AQ HQ talking trash on AMZ. Right now with AMZ dead, the major concern is that they will merge with al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) since its new supremo doesn’t carry the personal baggage that AMZ did with the Ansar al-Sunnah leaders. If you look at the list of captured or killed AQI leaders that CENTCOM just released, you will note that at least one of them was an Ansar al-Sunnah leader who was discussing such a merger.

AQI has never been majority Kurdish, now or at any time in the past since its formation in October 2004. Its predecessor group al-Tawhid wal Jihad was the same thing, made up primarily of Palestinian Jordanians from AMZ’s Bani Hassan tribe with a healthy sprinkling of international jihadis, mostly Algerians and Saudis. After the capture of Saddam, they were able to use AMZ as an alternate “alpha male? for a lot rank-and-file Baathist henchmen and picked up most of Saddam’s former lapdogs.

Bottom line, the Kurdish component in Iraqi jihadis has always been small and is likely to remain so in the future. The only time when Kurds made up a majority of Iraqi jihadis was when there were only 500-800 of them back in 2001 and most of those are captured or dead.?

 

B-1B Bomber Belly Flops

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 7 months ago

Ever wonder what a B-1B Bomber looks like after it has landed without the landing gear down?

B-1B Bomber: Landed Without Landing Gear

The pilot(s) forgot to lower the landing gear.  Air Combat Command has the story, and more pictures can be found here.

Silly String and IEDs

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 7 months ago

I might be behind the news cycles a bit on this, but there is an interesting story concerning innovation and adaptation from troops in Iraq.  Hat tip to Arms and the Law, troops have discovered that they can find trip wires by shooting silly string at them:

Dear KSFO Listeners,

My good friend Deborah Johns, Vice-President of Marine Moms of Northern California, whose son William has is now serving his third tour of duty, sent me this very important letter.

Hi Melanie,

I have heard from William for the first time in 3 months. I was so excited to get a call from him. He told me that the Marines really have the pressure on the insurgents and the Marines are really uncovering big stuff that makes it difficult for them. William also said that good things are happening and to let everyone know, and to hang in there with them and keep supporting them because they need the support of the American people.

William also said that they need handwarmers because it is cold and more importantly–send Silly String. They are able to dispense that stuff from 10 feet away and it will detect trip wires that are not visible to the naked eye and saves their lives before entering a building. He said the Silly String just floats through the air and lays gently on any trip wire and works pretty cool. If there are no trip wires then it just falls and hits the ground.  So, we are trying to send any Silly String possible.

Thought you might like to know some good news from the battle field.

Love, Deb

No high tech gadgetry or gear necessary.  Purchasing it from Walmart and sending it over by mail is the most efficient way to put it in the hands of the troops.  If a defense contractor gets hold of the idea and it becomes part of the DoD budget, the cost will go up by three orders of magnitude (product testing, product QA, management oversight of the program, retirement benefits, etc.).

Politically Correct Rules of Engagement Endanger Troops

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 7 months ago

Note: This article has been updated and expanded with The NCOs Speak on Rules of Engagement.

In his article Spinning Haditha, Marine W. Thomas Smith made the following sad but prophetic observation:

… every student of military science understands the ugly nature of insurgencies; where insurgents are un-uniformed, unconventional fighters who move freely throughout the community during the day, and become bushwhackers at night. They routinely use women and children as human shields, and often coerce the latter into the service of operating guerrillas.

This is particularly effective against U.S. forces, because the enemy knows that no matter how much stress they may be under, American soldiers will go to great lengths to avoid killing women and children; and even hesitate (at great risk to themselves) when they see women and children shooting at them.

I followed on to predict that charges of civilian casualties and inappropriate rules of engagement would become a staple of enemy propaganda, that rules of engagement would be modified, and that U.S. troops would become increasingly hesitant to fire on the enemy. Every one of these predictions has come true.

As discussed in Newsweek’s expose on Marine Captain Rob Secher, Captain Secher wrote home that “any time an American fires a weapon there has to be an investigation into why there was an escalation of force.”

In my article Unleash the Snipers!, I noted that Marines in Ramadi have noted the hindrance the rules of engagement have become to their missison:

The military has also tightened rules of engagement as the war has progressed, toughening the requirements before a sniper may shoot an Iraqi. Potential targets must be engaged in a hostile act, or show clear hostile intent.

The marines say insurgents know the rules, and now rarely carry weapons in the open. Instead, they pose as civilians and keep their weapons concealed in cars or buildings until just before they need them. Later, when they are done shooting, they put them swiftly out of sight and mingle with civilians.

In my article Racoon Hunting and the Battle for Anbar, I noted that Marines from Fallujah report that:

“A lot of us feel like we have our hands tied behind our back,? says Cpl. Peter Mattice, of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment. “In Fallujah, [insurgents] know our [rules of engagement] – they know when to stop, just before we engage.?

Most recently, from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who interviewed PGA golf professionals on a tour of Iraq to entertain the troops, we have this sobering report directly from the front:

“One guy told me, ‘I’m hesitant to do the job I was trained for. I don’t want to return fire because I might be on CNN the next day.’ That’s sad. That’s a guy risking his life for us. He doesn’t want his family to see him on CNN being portrayed the way those guys are being portrayed.”

“He said, ‘The hardest thing for a soldier to do, despite all his training, is to return fire when he is fired upon,’ ” Kelly said. “It shows the smallness of the position I’m in, comparably speaking. Fear of failure (in golf) and fear of death, come on, there’s no comparison.”

For those who know about the confused ROE, this should not be surprising. As noted by Newsmax, Rules of Engagement: Can Our Troops Defend Themselves?, the vaccilating and politically correct ROE are described as having changed to the point that our troops are afraid of defending themselves:

Well before the conflict in Iraq and up until apparently this past summer, U.S. combat troops found comforting words in the ROE for the individual fighter facing an unpredictable enemy, seeking to kill him or her through any trick or stratagem:

“Nothing in these ROE limit an individual soldier’s right to defend himself or a commander’s inherent authority and obligation to use all necessary means available and to take appropriate action to defend his unit and other U.S. and friendly forces in the vicinity.”

And these words for the unit leader:

“These rules do not limit a commander’s inherent authority and obligation to use all necessary means available and to take all appropriate actions in self-defense of the commander’s unit and other U.S. forces in the vicinity.”

However, the new standard ROE promulgated this past summer (CJCSI 3121.01B) has individual self-defense described as a subset of unit self-defense.

Furthermore, the new regulation ominously adds some specific wording that says, “as such, commanders may limit the individual right of self-defense.”

One informed source, a former military lawyer, noted to NewsMax that with the new language in place it is problematic to tell soldiers during their training that they have an inherent right to defend themselves. Indeed, the new rule can only add to the bewilderment and suspicion with which some soldiers regard ROE.

Analysis and Commentary

From the beginning of a Marine’s time in the Corps, to the last day that he is active, he lives with the concepts of “fire watch” and “guardian angel.” When Marines are sleeping, deployed on a base, or any other time they are not actively engaged in operations, a “fire watch” is set up, and Marines rotate through this duty. This is a defensive posture, taken twenty four hours a day. The guardian angel is supposed to locate to a position of concealment in order to move in offensive operations against any enemy who would do harm to Marines. Defensive and offensive postures – the two go hand-in-hand and are employed at all times.

The Marine is taught that he is always free to defend himself and other Marines. The protection of Marines is thought- and activity-consuming and is paramount in their tactics. Fast forward to Iraq and current ROE. Now he is taught that commanders may limit the right of individual self-defense. If there were only one or two anecdotal pieces of evidence that Soldiers and Marines felt hamstrung and confused by the current ROE, then this might point to a problem.

I have given the broad outline of a change in ROE, along with four such pieces of anecdotal evidence, and this is only from main stream media reports. Further, while orders flow down in the military, complaints flow up. If Captain Secher felt this way (noting that any time a weapon is fired, an investigation has to be conducted), it is extremely likely that his men felt this way. There certainly is a problem.

Consider the psychology of the warrior. Even if not a single Soldier or Marine had died as a result of hesitation due to ROE (that is, even if this danger is only potential and has not become actualized), the psychology of fear has set in. Not fear of the enemy, but fear of firing a weapon. This fear can cause hesitation, and even the enemy knows the U.S. ROE and can and has taken advantage of them. Hence, there is increased danger for our troops, and they know it.

What we need are robust rules of engagement. What we have are confused Soldiers and Marines, afraid to fire their weapons.

Failure of Main Stream Media to Report Huge Victory Against Insurgents

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 8 months ago

There is enough bad news coming from Iraq, and I have done my fair share of reporting and commenting on it.  But from time to time there are outstanding and remarkable stories of victory and success, and these instances are made all the more remarkable by the fact that the main stream media completely ignores them.

In Ansar al Sunna Leadership: U.S. Forces Net Big Insurgent Catch, I reported on the capture of eleven senior level leadership of terrorist group Ansar al Sunna.  Specifically, among those captured were the emirs of Iraq, Ramadi, Baqubah, Tikrit, al Qa’im, Bayji and Baghdad.  They also captured two terrorist facilitators, a courier, an explosives expert and a financier.  The detention of these terrorists delivers a serious blow to the AAS network that is responsible for improvised explosive device attacks and suicide attacks and on Iraqi government, Coalition Forces and Iraqi civilians.  The AAS network is also responsible for multiple kidnappings, small arms attacks and other crimes in the central and northern part of Iraq.  AAS is considered by some to be a leading terror organization in Iraq … Although some AAS senior leadership allegedly hide in Iran, they continually plan attacks to disrupt Iraqi reconstruction efforts.  This allows the AAS leadership to attempt to disrupt Iraqi reconstruction progress using their followers, while keeping the leadership out of harms way.

I went on to point out that an emir is a chieftan, or a military governor of his assigned territory.  This was no small catch of trouble-makers.  Ansar al-Sunna is considered by some experts to be the most important insurgent group in Iraq, and U.S. forces captured more than half a dozen high level leaders of the group.

There is a case to be made that while the killing of Zarqawi had a Hollywood aspect to it, the capture of these insurgents was more significant and will have greater ramifications than the demise of Zarqawi.  Major news organizations should have been clamoring for information in order to weave a story together for the American public.  Americans should have information to share with each other over nightly dinner, and this specific victory should be in the public consciousness for several weeks to come.

Writing the article was relatively easy.  A few minutes worth of study of the press releases, a few more studying the relevant articles about it, and finally a few more studying the research and scholarly works on Ansar al-Sunna, and presto, there was the article.  Granted, Michael Ledeen had to write me and correct (what I hope to be a somewhat inconsequential) point of history on the group, but still, the reader now knows more than s/he did prior to reading my article.  Ignoring my foible on history, the main thrust of the story is encouraging, and would have taken a seasoned reporter only a few minutes to a couple of hours to construct.

But again, on what might be the most significant counterinsurgency victory in months, the main stream media is noticeably absent.  I posted my article on December 2, and decided to give the main stream media Monday, the start of the normal weekly news cycle, to pick up on the story.  But a quick check of the major outlets shows that there is nothing out there.  Is this a symptom of their incompetence or their bias?

U.S. Now Second Most Powerful Tribe in Iraq

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 8 months ago

And the ghosts of U.S. servicemen cry out … and haunt the memory of a nation who sent them off to war without what they needed to win.

In Options for Iraq, I mentioned something that might have come as a surprise to readers.  The U.S. is under what is called by the U.N. Security Council a “security partnership? with the Iraqi government.  This explains what is so strange to some people, that al Maliki can balk at U.S. military actions against Muqtada al Sadr and cause a cessation of operations.  The U.S. in a very real way is subservient to the Iraqi government.  While it is customary among the main stream media to criticize the war, it is rather unusual to see honest, insightful commentaries on the nature of the problem.  The Washington Times recently had one in which they made these stunning remarks:

There wasn’t much Mr. al-Maliki could do to disband the Mahdi army. A blend of religious fanaticism and pitiless ambition, Sheik al-Sadr revels at U.S. discomfiture, a sort of Islamic Schadenfreude. He listens to the Aytollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s top Shia prelate, who has advised him to keep his powder dry against American forces. Meanwhile, he continues to build his army with Iranian funding and weapons, and training by Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Iraq’s partition, into Sunni, Shia and Kurdish mini-states, as advocated by Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, the incoming Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is a recipe for a larger civil war. Most towns and villages have mixed Sunni and Shi’ite populations.

All sides anxiously await the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group’s findings. It is already common knowledge they will recommend talking to U.S. opponent Syria and U.S. enemy Iran. Members of ISG have already spoken to both. Iran now wields more influence in Iraq than the United States.

In Demonstrations, Violence and Preparations in al Anbar Province, I said, speaking of the Anbar Province, that “right now the U.S. is yet another tribe in a region where tribes have cut deals, aligned themselves for and against al Qaeda, and are defending themselves daily against Shia death squads … The demonstrations, the violence and the politics are all preparatory for when the U.S. presence is not determinative in the direction al Anbar takes.  Sooner or later, they apparently feel, the stronger tribe will be gone.”

I ascribed the position of “strongest tribe” to U.S. forces in Anbar.  If the commentary by the Washington Times is accurate, we are not even the strongest tribe any more.  We come in (a distant?) second to Iran.  Not surprisingly then, the U.S. State Department and Military are at odds with each other over whether to end the outreach to the Sunnis, while aligning themselves more strongly with the Shi’ites.  Indeed, this makes us look like the second strongest tribe looking for a political partner.

And the ghosts of U.S. servicemen cry out … and haunt the memory of a nation who sent them off to war without what they needed to win.

Rumsfeld’s (Not So New) Approach

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 8 months ago

Apparently, Rumsfeld has begun thinking about how we have failed in Iraq and has recommended a potential remedy to the administration.  We are limited to main stream media reports about the contents of a letter he sent to Bush, reportedly on November 6 (note, prior to the election), but some of the recommendations he allegedly made are:

  • Publicly announce a set of benchmarks agreed to by the Iraqi government and the U.S. … to chart a path ahead for the Iraqi government and Iraqi people (to get them moving) and for the U.S. public (to reassure them that progress can and is being made).
  • Significantly increase U.S. trainers and embeds, and transfer more U.S. equipment to Iraqi security forces.
  • Initiate a reverse embeds program … by putting one or more Iraqi soldiers with every U.S. and possibly coalition squad.
  • Aggressively beef up Iraqi ministries by reaching out to U.S. military retirees and Reserve and National Guard volunteers.
  • Conduct an accelerated drawdown of U.S. bases, noting they have already been reduced from 110 to 55. “Plan to get down to 10 to 15 bases by April 2007, and to 5 bases by July 2007.
  • Retain high-end … capability … to target al Qaeda, death squads, and Iranians in Iraq, while drawing down all other coalition forces, except those necessary to provide certain key enablers for Iraqi forces.
  • Provide U.S. security forces only for those provinces or cities that openly request U.S. help and that actively cooperate.
  • Stop rewarding “bad behavior” with reconstruction funds and start rewarding “good behavior.”
  • Position substantial U.S. forces near the Iranian and Syrian borders to reduce infiltration and, importantly, reduce Iranian influence on the Iraqi government.
  • Withdraw U.S. forces from vulnerable positions and move to a quick reaction force status, operating from within Iraq and Kuwait, to be available when Iraqi security forces need assistance.
  • “Begin modest withdrawals of U.S. and coalition forces (start `taking our hand off the cycle seat’) so Iraqis know they have to pull up their socks, step up and take responsibility for their country.

Rumsfeld further remarks that “In my view it is time for a major adjustment,” Rumsfeld wrote in a November 6 memorandum to the White House. “Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough.”  Rumsfeld further noted that the situation in Iraq “has been evolving” and said U.S. forces have adjusted from “major combat operations, to counterterrorism, to counterinsurgency, to dealing with death squads and sectarian violence.”

It is a stunning assertion that the man who superintended three and a half years of an increasing U.S. casualty rate now concludes that it is “time for a change.”  But the ideas Rumsfeld profers are not novel.  In Options for Iraq, I cited a Stratfor assessment which, in part, concluded that

We do believe that the ISG will recommend a fundamental shift in the way U.S. forces are used. The troops currently are absorbing casualties without moving closer to their goal, and it is not clear that they can attain it. If U.S. forces remain in Iraq — which will be recommended — there will be a shift in their primary mission. Rather than trying to create a secure environment for the Iraqi government, their mission will shift to guaranteeing that Iran, and to a lesser extent Syria, do not gain further power and influence in Iraq. Nothing can be done about the influence they wield among Iraqi Shia, but the United States will oppose anything that would allow them to move from a covert to an overt presence in Iraq. U.S. forces will remain in-country but shift their focus to deterring overt foreign intrusion. That means a redeployment and a change in day-to-day responsibility. U.S. forces will be present in Iraq but not conducting continual security operations.

Then, after presenting the least likely option for Iraq (based on lack of political support for appropriate force projection in Iraq), I presented what I saw as the most likely option for U.S. forces, an option that, while similar to the Stratfor position, was somewhat more detailed:

… withdraw forces to the north in Kurdistan, supporting the Iraqi army and police in offensive operations on an as-need basis.  This support would not include regular or routine “security? patrols, since these patrols are not bringing security to Iraq.  This presence in Kurdistan would have the side benefits of ensuring that Turkey and Kurdistan remain at peace and limiting the influence of Iran and Syria in Iraq.  In addition to assisting the Iraqi forces, the U.S. forces could then ensure security along the porous borders with Iran and Syria.

It is troubling that it took three and a half years to admit to the trouble that Iraq had become.  The generals certainly saw it.  If the outgoing Secretary of Defense observes that “clearly, what U.S. forces are doing in Iraq is not working well or fast enough,” then where were the generals during all of this thing called the war?  What sort of group-think existed in the Pentagon to cause the failure to hold each other accountable — for three and a half years?  Since this failure to hold each other accountable at the highest levels of the Pentagon is now seen to be at least a contributing cause of the situation in Iraq, what has been done to rectify it?  This is not such an odd question to ask.  Parents ask hard questions of children, teachers of students, and colleagues of colleagues.

Rumsfeld’s (Not So New) Approach

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 8 months ago

Apparently, Rumsfeld has begun thinking about how we have failed in Iraq and has recommended a potential remedy to the administration.  We are limited to main stream media reports about the contents of a letter he sent to Bush, reportedly on November 6 (note, prior to the election), but some of the recommendations he allegedly made are:

  • Publicly announce a set of benchmarks agreed to by the Iraqi government and the U.S. … to chart a path ahead for the Iraqi government and Iraqi people (to get them moving) and for the U.S. public (to reassure them that progress can and is being made).
  • Significantly increase U.S. trainers and embeds, and transfer more U.S. equipment to Iraqi security forces.
  • Initiate a reverse embeds program … by putting one or more Iraqi soldiers with every U.S. and possibly coalition squad.
  • Aggressively beef up Iraqi ministries by reaching out to U.S. military retirees and Reserve and National Guard volunteers.
  • Conduct an accelerated drawdown of U.S. bases, noting they have already been reduced from 110 to 55. “Plan to get down to 10 to 15 bases by April 2007, and to 5 bases by July 2007.
  • Retain high-end … capability … to target al Qaeda, death squads, and Iranians in Iraq, while drawing down all other coalition forces, except those necessary to provide certain key enablers for Iraqi forces.
  • Provide U.S. security forces only for those provinces or cities that openly request U.S. help and that actively cooperate.
  • Stop rewarding “bad behavior” with reconstruction funds and start rewarding “good behavior.”
  • Position substantial U.S. forces near the Iranian and Syrian borders to reduce infiltration and, importantly, reduce Iranian influence on the Iraqi government.
  • Withdraw U.S. forces from vulnerable positions and move to a quick reaction force status, operating from within Iraq and Kuwait, to be available when Iraqi security forces need assistance.
  • “Begin modest withdrawals of U.S. and coalition forces (start `taking our hand off the cycle seat’) so Iraqis know they have to pull up their socks, step up and take responsibility for their country.

Rumsfeld further remarks that “In my view it is time for a major adjustment,” Rumsfeld wrote in a November 6 memorandum to the White House. “Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough.”  Rumsfeld further noted that the situation in Iraq “has been evolving” and said U.S. forces have adjusted from “major combat operations, to counterterrorism, to counterinsurgency, to dealing with death squads and sectarian violence.”

It is a stunning assertion that the man who superintended three and a half years of an increasing U.S. casualty rate now concludes that it is “time for a change.”  But the ideas Rumsfeld profers are not novel.  In Options for Iraq, I cited a Stratfor assessment which, in part, concluded that

We do believe that the ISG will recommend a fundamental shift in the way U.S. forces are used. The troops currently are absorbing casualties without moving closer to their goal, and it is not clear that they can attain it. If U.S. forces remain in Iraq — which will be recommended — there will be a shift in their primary mission. Rather than trying to create a secure environment for the Iraqi government, their mission will shift to guaranteeing that Iran, and to a lesser extent Syria, do not gain further power and influence in Iraq. Nothing can be done about the influence they wield among Iraqi Shia, but the United States will oppose anything that would allow them to move from a covert to an overt presence in Iraq. U.S. forces will remain in-country but shift their focus to deterring overt foreign intrusion. That means a redeployment and a change in day-to-day responsibility. U.S. forces will be present in Iraq but not conducting continual security operations.

Then, after presenting the least likely option for Iraq (based on lack of political support for appropriate force projection in Iraq), I presented what I saw as the most likely option for U.S. forces, an option that, while similar to the Stratfor position, was somewhat more detailed:

… withdraw forces to the north in Kurdistan, supporting the Iraqi army and police in offensive operations on an as-need basis.  This support would not include regular or routine “security? patrols, since these patrols are not bringing security to Iraq.  This presence in Kurdistan would have the side benefits of ensuring that Turkey and Kurdistan remain at peace and limiting the influence of Iran and Syria in Iraq.  In addition to assisting the Iraqi forces, the U.S. forces could then ensure security along the porous borders with Iran and Syria.

It is troubling that it took three and a half years to admit to the trouble that Iraq had become.  The generals certainly saw it.  If the outgoing Secretary of Defense observes that “clearly, what U.S. forces are doing in Iraq is not working well or fast enough,” then where were the generals during all of this thing called the war?  What sort of group-think existed in the Pentagon to cause the failure to hold each other accountable — for three and a half years?  Since this failure to hold each other accountable at the highest levels of the Pentagon is now seen to be at least a contributing cause of the situation in Iraq, what has been done to rectify it?  This is not such an odd question to ask.  Parents ask hard questions of children, teachers of students, and colleagues of colleagues.

Ansar al Sunna Leadership: U.S. Forces Net Big Insurgent Catch

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 8 months ago

**** SCROLL FOR UPDATES **** 

The Multi-National Force – Iraq Combined Press Information Center has issued a press release concerning the capture of some high ranking insurgents in Iraq.

“In one week’s time, Coalition Forces captured 11 suspected senior-level terrorists of Ansar al Sunna during a series of raids in north-central Iraq during mid-November.  During the raids, Coalition Forces captured the terrorist emirs of Iraq, Ramadi, Baqubah, Tikrit, al Qa’im, Bayji and Baghdad.  They also captured two terrorist facilitators, a courier, an explosives expert and a financier.  The detention of these terrorists delivers a serious blow to the AAS network that is responsible for improvised explosive device attacks and suicide attacks and on Iraqi government, Coalition Forces and Iraqi civilians.  The AAS network is also responsible for multiple kidnappings, small arms attacks and other crimes in the central and northern part of Iraq.  AAS is considered by some to be a leading terror organization in Iraq … Although some AAS senior leadership allegedly hide in Iran, they continually plan attacks to disrupt Iraqi reconstruction efforts.  This allows the AAS leadership to attempt to disrupt Iraqi reconstruction progress using their followers, while keeping the leadership out of harms way.”

An emir is a chieftan or ruler, and in this case, the military governor of his territory.  Ansar al Sunna is today believed to be the most significant insurgent group in Iraq.  Its core membership is believed to be 500-1000 strong.  Going initially under the name Jund al-Islam (Soldiers of Islam), Ansar al-Sunna is an outgrowth of Ansar al-Islam [Defenders of Islam], a group with ties to Iran and which administration officials have linked to al-Qaeda.  Ansar al-Islam grew out of the September 2001 unification of several militant Islamist groups which had taken root in the mountains of northern Iraq along the Iranian border.

Prior to the US occupation of Iraq, Ansar al-Islam based itself in the mountains around Khurmal, a small town three miles from the Iranian border. On March 29, 2003, US Special Forces, coupled with PUK peshmerga, attacked the town, killing or scattering hundreds of fighters. In the wake of the fighting, Ansar al-Islam went underground. Most fled to Iran, which continues to provide safe-haven to a variety of wanted individuals. In February 2004, Kurdish intelligence officials uncovered a cache of Syrian, Yemeni, and Saudi passports – all bearing Iranian entry stamps – in an Ansar al-Islam safe-house on the Iranian side of the border. That the passports have Iranian stamps indicates that the terrorists did not secretly infiltrate into Iran, but entered with the cognizance of the Iranian authorities.

During the summer, the jihadists began infiltrating back to Iraq, often bribing corrupt Kurdish border guards for safe passage. By August, according to American intelligence reports, hundreds of Ansar terrorists had re-entered the country.  There is a connection between them and al Qaeda.  The Kurdish Islamic militants who initially formed Ansar al-Islam dispersed into two different paths.  One path eventually formed Ansar al Sunna, while the other path followed al Zarqawi to form al Qaeda in Iraq.  With the Coalition capture of so many al Qaeda leadership, Ansar al Sunna had emerged as the more significant threat in Iraq.  Unwelcome in more secular Kurdistan, they have appealed to a wider constituency and brought in terrorists from other parts of the world, including Europe.

The methodology of Ansar al Sunna is primarily kidnappings, ambushes, car bombings, and more recently Hamas-like tactics of suicide bombers.  They do not usually engage in direct combat with U.S. forces.  The “Army of Ansar al Sunnah” claims responsibility for assasinations, bombings and violence from Haqlaniyah, to Haditha (in the west) and Mosul and Kirkuk (in the north).  They have been a prolific terror organization, and catching so many senior level leaders of this group is a victory of major proportions.  It is just the kind of thing that will not receive publicity in the main stream media.

Each arrest fed the information flow for subsequent arrests.  “We have caught a lot of the major players from multiple insurgent cells, providing a lot of useful information leading to the capture of more insurgents and the discoveries of their hideouts and weapons caches,? said 1st Sgt. Micheal Green, Company C.  In one extraordinary find, U.S. troops came across a weapons cache that contained so many weapons and so much ammunition that the ordnance disposal team ran out of explosives while destroying the contents of the cache site.

Apparently in response to the capture of its leaders, Ansar al Sunna issued eight communiqués between Tuesday, November 28, 2006, and Thursday, November 30, claiming responsibility for attacks targeting American forces.  But U.S. forces know the significance of the catch.  “It was exciting,? said Staff Sgt. Mica Snell, fire support sergeant, Company C, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. “You fight everyday, and when your spirits are getting low and you find (an insurgent), it brings them back up.?

At a time when Jimmy Carter and Colin Powell are calling for talks with Iran, the details of Iranian involvement as a sponsor of terror should not be lost.

**** UPDATE ****

Michael Ledeen challenged my article regarding the details of Ansar al-Sunna’s relationship with and dependence on the Kurds.  It took a couple of days to track down his contact (who will remain unnamed), but since Michael knows about 100,000 times as much as I do about this subject, I am providing a correction on AAS:

“Ansar al-Islam was formed out of a merger of the majority Kurdish groups Hamas (inspired by but not identical to the Palestinian group of the same name), Second Soran Unit, and al-Tawhid. I think September 2001 was the last time that they were majority Kurdish, because after that they started receiving a heavy influx of “Afghan Arabs” – you know the drill – and they soon outnumbered the original Kurdish fighters.

Fast forward to OIF in 2003. Most of the group is killed by the US and the battered remnants flee to Iran. They reorganize under the protection of the IRGC, but there is a lot of internal controversy.

Some members want to go join Zarqawi (AMZ), while others blame him and the international attention he brought to their activities for their current plight. By November 2003, the split finalizes and about half join AMZ while the others go back into Iraq as Jaish Ansar al-Sunnah.

They are pro-AQ but anti-AMZ and keep sending nasty reports back to AQ HQ talking trash on AMZ. Right now with AMZ dead, the major concern is that they will merge with al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) since its new supremo doesn’t carry the personal baggage that AMZ did with the Ansar al-Sunnah leaders. If you look at the list of captured or killed AQI leaders that CENTCOM just released, you will note that at least one of them was an Ansar al-Sunnah leader who was discussing such a merger.

AQI has never been majority Kurdish, now or at any time in the past since its formation in October 2004. Its predecessor group al-Tawhid wal Jihad was the same thing, made up primarily of Palestinian Jordanians from AMZ’s Bani Hassan tribe with a healthy sprinkling of international jihadis, mostly Algerians and Saudis. After the capture of Saddam, they were able to use AMZ as an alternate “alpha male” for a lot rank-and-file Baathist henchmen and picked up most of Saddam’s former lapdogs.

Bottom line, the Kurdish component in Iraqi jihadis has always been small and is likely to remain so in the future. The only time when Kurds made up a majority of Iraqi jihadis was when there were only 500-800 of them back in 2001 and most of those are captured or dead.”


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