Friday, April 4, 2008

The Smoke Clears In Basra & The WaPo Spins Like A Top

More information is becoming available about the difficulties of the Iraqi military's offensive in Basra and the other cities in the south of Iraq while the Washington Post puts an incredible spin on the operation.


Today, we learn more about the offensive from Bill Roggio:

1. One recently formed battalion freshly out of basic training was thrown into combat and disintegrated.

2. "Overall "1,000 to 1,500 Iraqi forces had deserted or underperformed,” according to the Times, a number “that represent a little over 4 percent of the total” forces in Basrah."

3. The offensive was rushed at the order of Maliki, apparently because of reports of ever increasing violence in Basra. The offensive was scheduled for this summer when all forces would be in place.

4. There was a complete breakdown in coordination with British or American forces. I am not sure what the command and control assets of the Iraqi Army are today, but they fell on their face. This is a "rookie" mistake.

5. Outside of Basra, Iraqi units took the lead against Mahdi Army uprisings in all areas but Baghdad. The Iraqi Army was able to secure Hillah, Kut, Karbala, Najaf, Diwaniyah, Nasiriyah, and Amarah in a matter of days after the fighting started. By March 29, the fighting in these cities largely stopped.

And then we have the Washington Post. Their article Basra Assault Exposes U.S., Iraqi Limits, is a despicable example of agenda journalism, spinning the offensive to turn chicken salad into chickenshit. To go through some of the real lowpoints of the article:

. . . The offensive, which triggered clashes across southern Iraq and in Baghdad that left about 600 people dead, unveiled the weaknesses of Maliki's U.S.-backed government and his brash style of leadership. On many levels, the offensive strengthened the anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Those bald assertions are just completely baseless. As I wrote yesterday:

Claiming the outcome of the Basra offensive as anything other than a tactical defeat for Sadr ignores the reality both of the offensive and the aftermath. The government went into Basra in order to establish government control over the city. The militias do not control Basra today, the government does. True the government has not destroyed Sadr’s militia, but it did not need to do so. And the media's speculation about the offensive spiraling into mass hostilities have proven groundless.

The Iraqi Army are, at this moment, continuing operations, going into every section of the Basra hunting for wanted criminals – the majority of whom are Mahdi Army members. This in fact was what the offensive was originally intended to do. Army soldiers now control Iraq's port, having replaced all of the port's "security forces" that were, in reality, highly corrupt militia forces. The Army is conducting house to house searches for weapons. The Mahdi Army suffered significant casualties over the six days of fighting – "571 Mahdi Army fighters have been killed, 881 have been wounded, 490 have been captured, and 30 have surrendered . . . "

Sadr did not order his fighters to stand down because they were winning. Both Time Magazine and Bill Roggio reported that the high casualties, inability to resupply - the Army sealed the border with Iran - and low morale gave rise to Sadr’s call for a cease fire. To claim that Sadr won something out of this exchange is simply not justified on these facts.

Read the post here. While WaPo asserts that Sadr somehow won and that this is a defeat for the U.S. and Maliki, it is complete bull.

. . . The United States has spent more than $22 billion to build up Iraq's security forces, but they were unable to quell the militias.

Wow, this is amazing in its degree of either complete misunderstanding of military operations or it is simply being deliberately disingenuous. As to Basra, as I wrote yesterday:

The worst terrain from an attacker’s point of view is a large city. In the military, its referred to as MOUT – military operations on urban terrain. It is a multidimensional battlefield ranging from sewers to skyscrapers with virtually unlimited cover and concealment for defenders. In large cities, such as in Russia during WWII, the Germany military lost entire divisions in MOUT operations, and that was even with a willingness to destroy the infrastructure and total unconcern with civilian casualties.

Basra is a highly developed city of 1.7 million people. That is huge. The Sadrists were defending, they had knowledge of the impending offensive months in advance and fortified defenses, and they were supported with Iranian heavy weaponry, if not field leadership. The Iraqi government was not out to level the infrastructure nor to break the will of the people through causing civilian casualties. Expecting the Iraqi government forces to cake walk over the Sadrists in a period of six days in that scenario is just incredibly unrealistic – just as it is unrealistic to walk away with any sort of inflated belief in the strength of Sadr’s militia. In that type of environment, six weeks after initial contact would likely be a point where one could make assessments about the strength of the Iraqi Army or the strength and sustainability of Sadr’s militia – certainly not six days.

Note also that the Iraqis put down Sadrist uprisings in every city that they ignited, as indicated above.

. . . And it was Iran that helped broker an end to the clashes, enhancing its image and illustrating its influence over Iraq's political players.

Are these reporters do everything possible to denigrate the U.S. and the Iraqi government? One, what does it say about Sadr's relationship and that of his militia to Iran that they should have such extensive and ready influence over his decision to call a cease fire? Two, the only thing Sadr got out of this cease fire was a short term reprieve. Given Iran is allied with Sadr, how does this enhance Iran? What an ass.

I will end my fisking here - and direct you to Talisman Gate who does just a tremendous job of fisking both the Wapo artice and an equally despicable one from the NYT.

1 comment:

Dinah Lord said...

Unbelievable, the lengths these America haters will go to denigrate and defame this country and it's mission.

It will be interesting to see how they react to General Petraeus next week...