Friday, September 28, 2007

Britain preps to dedicate post WWII Memorial

In Staffordshire, the memorial will commemorate those who lost their lives to terrorism worldwide.

The Rush To War

With a better hand at the helm, Saddam might have left ...

Existe un 15% de posibilidades de que en ese momento Sadam Hussein esté muerto o se haya ido. Pero esas posibilidades no existen antes de que hayamos mostrado nuestra resolución. Los egipcios están hablando con Sadam Hussein. Parece que ha indicado que estaría dispuesto a exiliarse si le dejaran llevarse 1.000 millones de dólares y toda la información que quisiera sobre armas de destrucción masiva. [Muammar El] Gaddafi le ha dicho a Berlusconi que Sadam Hussein quiere irse. Mubarak nos dice que en esas circunstancias existen muchas posibilidades de que sea asesinado.

- newly released transcript of discussion with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, El Pais

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Weekly Casualty Lists: Week 39

A new feature this week, to keep the discipline of not letting the names go by, unremarked.


-------Name, AgeSrv BranchHometown
Rank, Unit
Location; Circumstance of Death
Tomczak, Zachary B., 24U.S. ArmyHuron, SD
Staff Sergeant, 2nd BN, 325th Infantry Reg, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division
Baghdad; Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire25-Sep-07
Brown, Kevin R., 38U.S. ArmyHarrah, OK
Staff Sergeant, 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Reg, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division,
Muqdadiyah; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack25-Sep-07
Bento, Anthony K., 23U.S. ArmySan Diego, CA
Corporal, 1st BN, 505th Parachute Infantry Reg, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division
Bayji; Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire24-Sep-07
Watson, David L., 29U.S. ArmyNewport, AR
Specialist, 2nd BN, 23rd Infantry Reg, 4th Brigade, (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) 2nd I
Ba'qubah; Non-hostile - accident22-Sep-07
Reeves, Joshua H., 26U.S. ArmyWatkinsville, GA
Specialist, 2nd BN, 16th Infantry Reg, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division
Baghdad (eastern part); Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack22-Sep-07
Lankford, Jonathan M., 42U.S. ArmyScottsboro, AL
Command Sergeant Major, Task Force Lightning
Diyala Province; Non-hostile - illness - heart attack22-Sep-07
Stansfield, Mark, 32Not reported yetOxfordshire-UK
Sergeant, 32 Close Support Squadron, UK Logistic Battalion
Basra (Basra Air Station); Non-hostile - vehicle accident21-Sep-07
Young, John J., 24U.S. ArmySavannah, GA
Specialist, 2nd BN, 14th Infantry Reg, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, (Light Infantry) 10th Mountain Division
Baghdad (Camp Stryker); Non-hostile21-Sep-07
Grosaru, Dumitru Ioan, 35Romanian Armyn.a.-ROM
Second Lieutenant, Mircea Infantry Battalion 22
Tallil; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack21-Sep-07
Hoffmaster, Roselle M., 32U.S. ArmyCleveland, OH
Captain (Doctor), Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division
Kirkuk; Non-hostile - accident20-Sep-07
Marciante Jr., Luigi, 25U.S. ArmyElizabeth, NJ
Private 1st Class, 2nd BN, 23rd Infantry Reg, 4th Brigade, Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division
Muqdadiyah; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack20-Sep-07
Mcmahon, Graham M., 22U.S. ArmyCorvallis, OR
Corporal, 4th BN, 9th Infantry Reg, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Stryker Briga
Balad; Non-hostile - illness19-Sep-07
Neff, Christian M., 19U.S. ArmyLima, OH
Private 1st Class, 1st BN, 64th Armor Reg, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
Baghdad (West of); Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack19-Sep-07


------Name, AgeSrv BranchCountry
Rank, Unit
Location; Circumstance of Death
Milam, Charles Luke, 26U.S. NavyLittleton, CO
Petty Officer 2nd Class, 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion
Helmand Province; Hostile - hostile fire25-Sep-07
Hornburg, Nathan, 26Canadian Army Reserven.a.-Canada
Corporal, The King's Own Calgary Regiment
Panjwayi District (Kandahar Province); Hostile - hostile fire - mortar attack24-Sep-07
Vera, Stanley Mera, 20Spainish ArmyGuayaquil-Spain
Private, 3a Compania de la Bandera "Roger de Flor" de la Brigada Paracaidista (BRIPAC)
Shewan (Farah province); Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack24-Sep-07
Burgos, Germã¡N Pã©Rez, 33Spainish ArmyAlange-Spain
Private, 3a Compania de la Bandera "Roger de Flor" de la Brigada Paracaidista (BRIPAC)
Shewan (Farah province); Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack24-Sep-07
Blaskowski, Matthew D., 27U.S. ArmyLevering, MI
Sergeant 1st Class, 2nd BN (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Reg, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team
Asadabad; Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire23-Sep-07
Pican, Laurent, 34French ArmyVains (Manche)-France
Warrant Officer (Adjudant), 13e Bataillon de chasseurs alpins de Chambéry (Savoie) (BCA) (Maountain Bat)
Kabul; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack21-Sep-07
Hoogland, Tim, 20Royal Dutch Armyn.a.-Netherlands
Private 1st Class, 13 Infantry Battalion Airmobile (RSPB)
Deh Rawood (near); Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire20-Sep-07
Tunnicliffe, Brian, 33British Armyn.a.-UK
Private, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters)
Gereshk (north of) Helmand province; Non-hostile - vehicle accident20-Sep-07
Newman, Phillip, 36British Armyn.a.-UK
Colour Sergeant, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters)
Gereshk (north of) Helmand province; Non-hostile - vehicle accident20-Sep-07


Estimated Civilian Casualties: 282
Tuesday 25 September: 33 dead
Baghdad: car bombs kill 8 people, most of them pensioners queuing to collect their pension, Zayuna; roadside bomb, Kamaliya; 8 bodies.
Basra: suicide bomber kills 3 at police station.
Mosul: suicide bomber blows himself up at petrol station, killing employee.
Kirkuk: man is shot and burnt to death inside his car.
Diyala: 3 bodies.
Monday 24 September: 82 dead
Baghdad: 2 children die when a mortar hits their home, Talbiya; female bank employee is shot dead inside bus; 12 bodies.
Baquba: suicide bomber kills 28 inside mosque -the victims include tribal sheikhs and police officers who were holding reconciliation talks.
Abu Maria: suicide truck bomber hits police checkpoint, kills 5.
Balad Ruz: US forces kill civilian during security operation; another civilian is killed by militants.
Amiriyat al-Falluja: 3 police officers are killed in an attack on police patrol.
Hadid: 3 bodies.
Al-Abara: 20 bodies of abducted students found in mass grave.
Tikrit: US forces shoot dead 90-year-old Ayid al-Shamri and his 2 sons, as they drive in their car.
Sunday 23 September: 33 dead
Baghdad: convoy of Higher Education Minister hits roadside bomb, 2 bodyguards killed; journalist Jawad Saadoon al-Daami, working for al-Baghdadiyah TV, shot dead; 10 bodies.
Iskandariya: 2 killed by mortars.
Ramadi: 3 bodies.
Jbela: 4 bodies.
Muqdadiya: 7 bodies.
Kirkuk: mayor's convoy hits roadside bomb, 1 bodyguard killed; 1 body.
Saturday 22 September: 43 dead
Baghdad: Sunni man is pulled out of his car and shot dead, Washash; 9 bodies.
Iskandariya: 10 family members killed by US forces during house raid, 12 more residents killed during ensuing clashes.
Yethrib: gunmen kill police commander, then abduct and kill 3 members of his family.
Mosul: 2 policemen killed in separate attacks.
Kirkuk: shop owner killed in his shop; 1 body.
Friday 21 September: 27 dead
Baghdad: Mahdi Army kills 4, Washash; 8 bodies.
Baquba: Kurdish Peshmerga kill child.
Albu Aziz: gunmen attack village, kill farmer.
Basra: attack on convoy of senior police officer kills him and 2 bodyguards; 3 women's bodies found.
Yusufiya: 3 bodies.
Thursday 20 September: 37 dead
Baghdad: 2 civilians reported killed during US/Iraqi raid, one of them a 5-year-old boy, Sadr City; roadside bomb kills policeman, Zayuna; suicide car bomber kills civilian on bridge; a judge and his driver are shot dead near Shaab stadium; mortars kill 3, Madaen; 7 bodies.
Saqlawiya: roadside bombs kill 2 policemen.
Mosul: radio presenter shot dead; Sheikh Farhan Brjis Edil al-Sindi killed by gunmen; 3 bodies found, including those of a mother and daughter.
Al-Ahemar: 8 bodies.
Basra: gunmen kill Sheikh Amjed al-Janabi, al-Sistani representative.
Wednesday 19 September: 27 dead
Baghdad: 8 bodies.
Mosul: 17 killed in clashes, followed by car bomb.
Muqdadiya: suicide bomber blows himself up at US army checkpoint, killing civilian.


Jawad al-Daami23-Sep-07
Gunmen killed Jawad al-Daami, a journalist for Baghdadiya television, on Sunday in al-Qadissiya district of southwestern Baghdad, an Iraqi journalists' association said.
Muhannad Ghanem Ahmed20-Sep-07
Ghanem Ahmed was gunned down near a mosque in the Muharibin suburb of eastern Mosul on 20 September and his attackers escaped. He was the sixth journalist to be killed in the city this year

src: MNF-I, MNF-A, journalists from; Iraqi Civiilan: iraq body count;

Monday, September 24, 2007

What to do about reports of human shields

More reports of fighters in Afghanistan using human shields, children, even.

Few need additional lessons in how horrible al-qaeda and the Taliban are.

But, we need the pictures. A "camera scope" is probably more valuable than a rifle scope in that regard.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Unfit for command

Kimberly Kagan makes the case against Iran.

The neocons decide that a democracy right in the heart of the mid-east, restoring civil society to Iraq, will put pressure on the region, provide the golden-path, the third-way.

They utterly fail to mention or understand that the region (and the mosques) might put pressure right back.

The most apt phrase to cover this failure is "unfit for command."

And the AEI think that anyone should listen to them on matters of war and peace ... pshaw!

Monday, September 17, 2007

A counter-insurgency air-war?

According to this piece, Fallon appears ready to blow shit up.

So much would likely yield about as much "success" as the Israelis have had with that, with the same recriminations.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

McCain's Vietnam "dis-experience"

I already made some hay over McCain's error in pushing a line that we fight wars for our troops rather than with our troops (although, in no case, in spite of our troops - they are not mercenaries).

But his broader argument is bogus that the U.S. military was cracked for "a generation" after Vietnam and we must press on in order not to repeat that.

The reverse is true, arguably.

As part of the Vietnam effort, negative sentiment toward the military itself built up, centered around all kinds of things. In the aftermath, the damage was to perceptions of the military.

This time, few are upset with the troops. Quite the contrary.

Instead, people are upset with the prosecution of the war. They have no confidence in the wartime leaders, who continue on the scene. With continued prosecution of an unpopular war, the risk of a "late" withdrawal is not to the military, per se, but to the public's willingness to wage war at all, i.e. the creation of a dangerously gun-shy public.

Would "victory" - if such a thing is possible, after having born such high costs - solve everything, either way? Yes, but that's not the point. As long as "victory" is not certain, we all have to make decisions under uncertainty about what to do. A decision to withdraw need not be a blow to the military, this time around.

One could certainly make a case for forging ahead, as well, just not base it on a post-Vietnam era analysis of the impact to the military, it seems.

What's Wrong with The "Petraeus" Force Recommendations

Gone are the days of GOP blustering, "We will Prevail!". Finally - finally - a SecDef who can say quite candidly, "The enemy have a vote." Strangely, once you admit that you might lose (which includes stalemate in COIN), you may have a greater chance at winning ...

Hilzoy (at Obsdian wings) did a great job of exposing the longstanding, bogus benefit-benefit analysis done by the GOP (while at AS's blog).

Are COIN operations so different that we break from what seems "standard" for the military, which is to release troops after they are no longer needed, rather than request of the military to predict when forces won't be needed? What is going on with that?
This week Senator Graham introduced worst-case analysis to criticize the Democrats, without realizing that what the GOP under Bush has been doing for a long time is not worst-case analysis but "hope-for-the-best, don't-plan-for-the-rest". We can term this bogus GOP exercise as "maximize benefit" analysis (instead of the conservative "minimize regret" analysis).*

Today, we can look at a new kind of analysis.

How should troop drawdown occur?

Proposition: when forces are no longer needed, they are demobilized, that day, that week, or just as soon as the logistics can be worked out, provided there is no re-tasking to be done.

Therefore, what does it mean to 'demobilize' troops at an announced future date?

I dunno, but the options are
  • (a) it's a political statement, not a military one, designed for whatever purpose
  • (b) it's a resource utilization statement, not a facts-on-the-ground-as-we-know-them-now statement (which is how it is being portrayed)
  • (c) it' s a gambit, a prediction about where the battle will have evolved by a future time

To be honest, I think it is all three of these things.
  1. There is internal and external pressure to show a "crest"
  2. Even if you make the case that COIN requires greater continuity and makes possible longer deployments than "conventional" warfare, going from 12 to 15 to 18 months may not be tolerable and just another sign of drips-and-drab "coin"tingency planning at the top. Most importantly, no one knows what the facts on the ground will be six months from now - there is absolutely no history of successful forecasting in Iraq on which to even predicate such a dashing tomfoolery.
  3. I believe that Petraeus, et. al., are making a gambit on the growth of the ISF. (more later)

Are COIN operations so different that we break from what seems "standard" for the military, which is to release troops after they are no longer needed, rather than request of the military to predict when forces won't be needed? What is going on with that?

A Second Problem

It's worrisome, to some degree, that there is a unanimous recommendation to the President from all "senior military officers".

This is like a gift to the President. Did Roosevelt never face anything but unanimous recommendations? Truman? Wilson? Ike?

There have to be a range of military options that make sense under different sets of assumptions.

The President makes a decision among these. To "tee it up" doesn't seem ... credible, unless you really, really believe that there is a consensus and not simply disagreements that are getting buried in the interest of maximizing some other perceived good or goal.

*This showed up in Peter Pace's talk with reporters, today (pictured above). We had assumptions when we went to Baghdad about the Iraqi Army. They were violated. Therefore, we failed. ARRG! Now, you cannot cover all contingencies, but if you undertake an operation like Iraqi Freedom where "success" hangs on a razor's edge, you had better cover 99.1% of the contingencies, right? Pretending that you can strike forward and deal with the consequences as they come up as a matter of lessons learned or whatever, which seems to characterize the Abrams-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz posture, to me, sometimes, is daft in a "too big to fail" situation.

Friday, September 14, 2007

No Bullet Dodged In Iraq, Except WMD

At the time of "Mission Accomplished" (the "first 100 days of freedom", as the State Department called it), we all thought we'd dodged the bullets of a massive refugee crisis and the epidemics that usually accompany them, as well as the misery of urban warfare (one of the possible reasons the timeline of the war was 'rushed' along) and WMD.

Now it appears that the Coalition of the Willing will face all three of these:
1. There has been a refugee crisis - for sure, it's no the fault of the USA, but America has a role
2. Now there is an epidemic - it's not related to occupation, per se, but it could be serious
3. We've certainly had our share of urban warfare

that leaves only WMD.

All evidence suggests that [cholera] transmission is still circulating. It is unclear what caused the outbreak, but initial investigation show some evidence that, in Sulemaniya, polluted water that residents were forced to rely on due to a shortage of drinking water may have been to blame. In Kirkuk, cracked water pipes allowed contamination by sewage, and because of the close geographic proximity the outbreak spread to Erbil, Dr. Mekki said

The Fine Art of Listening With a Grain of Salt

It's good to hear all the first-hand accounts of people's attitudes and to read attitude surveys. However, it is also important to simply just look at (a) peoples actions and (b) where they are putting their money, to the extent the two are different.

Why? Because I keep reading contradictory things and everyone who has an opinion in the region is likely used to having two opinions, one that they share with their friends and the other they share 'for the Americans' or 'the public face', as it were.

Here's one example:

The Kurdish Islam is a moderate, tolerant strain, explained Salam Barwari, head of Kurdistan’s Democracy and Human Rights Research Center. “We have a culture of pluralism,” he said. “We have 2,000 years of living together with people living around us.” Actually, there are still plenty of Arab-Kurdish disputes, but there is an ethos of tolerance here you don’t find elsewhere in Iraq.
There is no reason to doubt Tom Friedman's account or the earnestness of his source.

However, just as the Sunni insurgency was getting started, I can recall interviews with the Kurds -- who have participated in their own "reverse ethnic cleansing" in some places -- one in particular in which the officer said the US should not be surprised by sunni-arab violent attacks, calling them "a bunch of animals down there".


In any case, if you follow this reasoning, then one comes away with at least this: (a) money is finally being spent on the "hold-build" part by Iraqis for Iraqis across sectarian lines, even (but maybe not crony ones?) and (b) the Shia-led government has finally taken steps to "buy off" the skilled, secular part of the Sunni insurgency by agreeing to pay pensions and to accept some former military back on a 'contingent immunity' basis.

That's not the whole enchilada - "the Kurdistanis" are outside that purview, for one, and don't seem in much mood for, mediation from the central government on anything - and the actions are not univocal (the purging in Baghdad continues), but it is still significant.

The bomb crater formerly known as Zarqawi

...gets a cousin (in a sign that US intelligence is improving / has improved):

On September 3, the US Air Force killed Abu Muhammad al Afri, the emir of Sinjar in Mosul province.

Al Afri was one of al Qaeda leaders who ordered the devastating attacks against the Yazidi villages near Singar. The US military say over 334 were killed during the multiple suicide truck bombings in the remote village, but media outlets put the death toll at over 500. The bombings accounted for about 30 percent of the 1,809 Iraqi deaths over the course of August; the figure of 500 dead is used in the monthly reporting.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Peter Pace, Semper Fi

See, despite everything, this is why I liked Pete Pace.

The man was grounded.

Revenge supplants any semblance of ideology for AQI

Abu Risha, leader of Anbar Salvation council, killed by treachery today ...

Al-qaeda is no longer playing for ideological influence, but bold (and foolish) enough to merely play for revenge:

BAGHDAD - The most prominent figure in a U.S.-backed revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida in Iraq was killed Thursday by a bomb planted near his home in Anbar province, 10 days after he met with President Bush, police and tribal leaders said.

Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha was leader of the Anbar Salvation Council, also known as the Anbar Awakening — an alliance of clans backing the Iraqi government and U.S. forces.

Let's hope is was al-qaeda.

If not, it means the old rejectionist attitudes are not nearly dead, and it may be an unforgivable act to meet with a greatly "impure" man like Bush.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Rafsanjani Orchestrates Comeback, Taking Top Slot

New Head Guardian, Rafsanjani, To Guard Old Supreme Leader, Kahmenei, who Appointed New Head of Guards, Jaafari

Any questions?

As always, Iranian politics is almost inscrutable.

Rafsanjani's advance may show that the system is under stress, and therefore looking to 'old leadership' that is 'tried-and-true'.

Else, it may simply be part of regular, on-going jockeying.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The 'Revolution' Quietly Changes Hands In Iran


AFP reports that Khamenei ... does something other than throw himself at the ever-elusive dream of making the revolution in Iran 'permanent' ... or not:

TEHRAN: Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a surprise move on Saturday replaced the head of the elite Revolutionary Guards force.

State television said that General Yahya Rahim Safavi would be stepping down to become a special military adviser to Khamenei, and would be replaced by fellow Guards Commander Muhammad Ali Jaafari as the new overall head of the Guards.

“Acknowledging General Safavi’s 28 years of honest service in various military fields and 10 years of successful leadership of the Revolutionary Guards, I appoint you top adviser in military affairs,” said a decree from Khamemei.

A separate decree read, “General Jaafari, taking into account your valuable experience and your brilliant record in the Revolutionary Guards, I appoint you as head of this revolutionary organisation.”

Mr. Jaafari, of course, is ... ready to throw the lives of Iran's kids away just as quickly as the last Supreme Leader, who had Generals allowing children to clear minefields with their lives, even ... To wit:

Tehran, Iran, Aug. 23 – The commander of Iran’s “Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison” – who is a general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – vowed that his suicide volunteers will destroy United States’ interests all over the world in retaliation to any attempt by the U.S. to hit Iran’s nuclear installations.

Who knows how much of this is just bluster to "press buttons", to play on the deepest psychological fears of 'asymmetrically informed' Westerners.

Meanwhile, the Iran President continues to try to build internal support for his brittle and failing leadership by blaming the world for Iran's inability to modernize and goading the world by a dangerous form of saber-rattling.

"We have more than 3,000 centrifuges working and every week a new set is installed," Mr Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by Iranian news agencies.

No one needs an ever growing centrifuge capacity for peaceful energy, do they?