Strategy in Baghdad operation


Iraqi and U.S. troops have used an “isolate, clear and hold” strategy during Operation Together Forward to dampen insurgent activity in some troubled Baghdad neighborhoods, a senior operational officer said on Friday.

The operation “is part of a larger effort across Baghdad to significantly reduce the amount of violence that was hindering progress in our area of operations,” said Col. Robert E. Scurlock Jr., commander, 1st Armored Division, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, speaking to reporters via satellite from Camp Liberty.

Scurlock said his Soldiers and Iraqi troops of the 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, began a sweep of Baghdad’s Ameriyah neighborhood Aug. 13. This operation, he said, was conducted in concert with other anti-insurgent operations launched across the capital city.

The security sweeps were designed to rid violence-prone neighborhoods of murderers, kidnappers and other terrorists, Scurlock said. Baghdad had been experiencing about 52 insurgent attacks a day in July, the colonel said; now it sees about 31 such incidents per day.

Isolated attacks on civilians, Iraqi security forces and Coalition forces have taken place since the clearing operations were completed, Scurlock acknowledged. But, “these attacks are still fewer than the average we’ve seen in recent weeks,” he said.

What makes these operations possible is the increase in the force to space ratio of US and Iraqi troops that have been added to the Baghdad area. History has shown that the best way to defeat an enemy using a raiding strategy like that used by the insurgents is to increase the force to space ratio to a point where the enemy cannot maneuver without threat of being discovered and destroyed.

It is truly unfortunate that it has taken US commanders this long to figure this out. Early in the war commanders thought they could make up the ratio by getting better intelligence. They did not start getting the intelligence until they got the ratio up witht he addition of the Iraqi troops.

The enemy remains weak. He still must avoid contact to avoid destruction. This applies not only to contact with US and Iraqi forces, but also with the competing militias. While some have described the current situation in Iraq as a civil war, it would be the only one in history where the competing forces never faced each other in battle, but instead concentrated on killing each others non combatants.


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