April 8, 2004

Thoughts about Iraq

Scott Konig makes two excellent points in relation to the action in Iraq. Here’s what he says.

With twelve Marines killed in fighting on Tuesday and numerous more wounded, things are definitely getting ugly – but this is our kind of ugly.

What our troops have been dealing with over the past several months has been the type of low-level insurrection that can slowly but gradually sap the strength of an occupying Army, forcing them to remain constantly alert and severely impacting morale. It’s very difficult to fight back against an enemy that plants remote-detonated bombs on the side of the road, or launches hit and run strikes against lightly defended targets.

But it’s a much simpler problem to deal with an enemy who fights in the open, as the Sunni militia in Fallujah and Sadr’s “Mehdi Army” have been doing in the past week. These forces may be able to temporarily seize public buildings, as recently happened in the southern Iraqi town of Kut, but this will only serve to provide us with easy, fixed targets to destroy.

Fallujah is now coming back under the control of the US Marines, and the Sunni militia have sacrificed a significant number of their fighters and weapons attempting to defend that town. Sadr’s militia, which does not enjoy the popular support of the Shiite majority, will undoubtedly suffer similar losses in Kut and elsewhere. Indeed, they might not ever recover from this campaign.

All US Marines and Army infantry receive extensive training on Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT). While fighting in cities and towns is often very difficult and costly, there is no military force in the world better trained and equipped to carry out such operations.

The enemy would have been much wiser to lay low for a few years until the Coalition finishes handing over the security operation to local authorities, who would likely prove to be a much easier force to defeat militarily. That they have not done so is an indication of their desperation to prevent the establishment of a viable, popular Iraqi government.

We all recognize that war is ugly, and the human toll over the past week in Iraq has been terrible. But as long as our national resolve remains strong, there can be no doubt that we will prevail in establishing a free and representative government in Iraq, and a model for democratic reform in the Arab world.

Posted by Ted at April 8, 2004 6:56 AM