THE SECOND BATTLE OF FALLUJAH
By Michael Fumento
The “saveges” aren’t leaving anytime soon, but not for lack of trying on the part of the enemy. During the week I spent in t he Fallujah area, in the vast rough-and-tumble Sunni province of Al Anbar that’s a way-station for Jihadists between the Syrian border and Baghdad, I heard countless firefights, repeatedly felt the thumps of outgoing howitzer fire from Camp Fallujah, was targeted by heavy mortars, and visited two Iraqi Army (IA) observation posts that had just been attacked.
It wasn’t like Ramadi, a terrorist hotbed closer to Syria, where I was personally in two firefights. And yet, when I was in Fallujah for over a week last year, I never heard a single firefight or a single explosion, friendly or enemy.
After the hard-fought Battle of Fallujah in November, 2004, is the enemy slowly taking back the area? Is beating off enemy attacks somehow better than not having them at all?
As I discuss in the May 8, 2006, issue of the Weekly Standard, in “Back to Fallujah,” the answers are not simple. But what’s happening now in Fallujah illustrates what must be done if we are ultimately to defeat the insurgents and terrorists throughout all of Iraq.
Part of the uptick in violence is simply because, when I was there in May, 2005, residents had just started trickling back to their homes. Now, they’re back and the enemy can hide among them.
Yet, the other reason almost certainly has something to do with the “Iraqization” program. At it’s highest, U.S. troop strength in the area was something above 3,000. Now it’s down to about 300, with a few thousand IA and IP (Iraqi Police) filling the vacuum. (Exact numbers are confidential.)
The bad guys continue to attack Marines, but around Falluja, at least, they prefer Iraqis. Is that because they’re softer targets?
Colonel Thomas C. Greenwood says no.
Greenwood is Assistant Chief of Staff for Marine advisers to all three branches of the Iraqi security forces: the army, the border forces, and the police.
There’s truth to his claim. But it remains that the enemy needs softer targets. I watched a video that had fallen into Coalition hands, a video of an attack on a Fallujah police station with a surrounding wall.
The film depicted one bad guy firing a rocket propelled grenade while running, making the odds of hitting the target slightly less than zero. Another fired his light machine gun at a wall directly in front of him, while yet another kept tripping over the ammo belt that dangled from his weapon. Others simply held their weapons above their head and fired over the wall.
It also remains true that the IP and IA provide softer targets; they are not yet up to the job of defeating these Keystone Kop “warriors.”
The police are still woefully undertrained and undermanned; they spend all too much time sitting in their reinforced stations and often require protection themselves.
Iraqi Army personnel are clearly superior to the Iraqi Police, in terms of ability and weapons. Yet, IA troops lack the aggressiveness of American troops. The IA seems to equate victory with merely forcing the enemy to break off an attack.
The Iraqis will never be up to American fighting standards. But they’ve greatly improved as a fighting force in the last year. Moreover, while there’s no evidence enemy numbers are increasing, the sizes of the IA and IP are growing dramatically.
“We only have about 3,000 IP now” in Al Anbar, Greenwood said, “but we expect to break the 10,000 point by next fall." Further, “we have about 18,000 Iraqi soldiers in Al Anbar and had only half of that last year.”
Says Greenwood, “One high-ranking Iraqi officer told me ‘Al Anbar is worse than the devil!’” But Greenwood disarmed him. “I said, with your help, we’re going to make it too nice for the devil to visit.”
The Problem of Rogue States:
Iraq as a Case History
National Strategy for Victory in Iraq
Middle East -- Arabs, Arab States,
& Their Middle Eastern Neighbors
Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
Page Three Page Two Page One
War & Peace in the Real World
Page Two Page One
Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
Counterterrorism & U.S. National Security
U.S. National Security Strategy
Michael Fumento is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, an associate of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a columnist
syndicated by Scripps-Howard, and the author of numerous books, including BioEvolution: How Biotechnology Is
Changing the World.
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