Monday, January 22, 2007

Commandos in Karbala... new game

David Seaton's News Links
It's front page news in today's Washington Post and well it should be. The audacity and quality of execution of the commando attack in Karbala, which cost the life of 5 Americans, probably officers of significant rank, opens a cruel new chapter in the ongoing Iraqi fiasco.

This attack sends a powerful message. Only Americans were killed... this in the land of indiscriminate suicide bombers who kill dozens of innocent passersby at random. The message to the USA is its precision. Obviously the message to Iraqis who are willing to cooperate with the American occupation forces is clear: the visitors know perfectly well who is who, but next time they won't make such careful distinctions.

The United States' professional armed forces are well trained and superbly equipped and their advantage in fast moving, high tech "modern battlefield" situations is probably insurmountable. However, in commando work, which is low tech and "personal", training, however exhaustive and "realistic" is no substitute for the "real thing". After their eight year war, unsurpassed for its brutality, the officers and most especially the noncoms of the commando forces of both Iraq and Iran probably have between them more "practical" experience in this sort of face to face, short distance warfare than all the other regular soldiers in the entire world taken together. They add to that experience command of the local languages, exhaustive knowledge of the terrain, cultures, tribal loyalties. And, of course, plenty of inside information. As to motivation, they are fighting a foreign invader who is kafir to boot.

Bush's latest error is declaring what most experts consider an inadequately conceived and undermanned "surge",
a "decisive battle". In this way Bush is inviting the insurgents to take actions like these that play to their comparative advantages and which give the impression that the Americans are not in control. This commando raid in Karbala is probably the first of a series of daring actions to come. With the political climate in the USA solidly against the war, risks taken in this kind of action, could have huge payoffs. In short, although spectacular, this will be no video game. DS

Disguises Used in Attack on Troops - Washington Post
Abstract: The armored sport-utility vehicles whisked into a government compound in the city of Karbala with speed and urgency, the way most Americans and foreign dignitaries travel along Iraq's treacherous roads these days. Iraqi guards at checkpoints waved them through Saturday afternoon because the men wore what appeared to be legitimate U.S. military uniforms and badges, and drove cars commonly used by foreigners, the provincial governor said. Once inside, however, the men unleashed one of the deadliest and most brazen attacks on U.S. forces in a secure area. Five American service members were killed in a hail of grenades and gunfire in a breach of security that Iraqi officials called unprecedented.(...) U.S. military officials said Sunday that they could not discuss the attack in Karbala in detail because it remained under investigation. But they said the version of events provided by the governor's office was consistent with their preliminary findings. After arriving at the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, 60 miles southwest of Baghdad, the attackers detonated sound bombs, Iraqi officials said. "They wanted to create a panic situation," said an aide to Karbala Gov. Akeel al-Khazaali, who described the events with the governor's permission but on condition of anonymity because he fears reprisals. The men then stormed into a room where Americans and Iraqis were making plans to ensure the safety of thousands of people expected to visit the holy city for an upcoming holiday. "They didn't target anyone but the American soldiers," the governor's aide said. After the attack, the assailants returned to their vehicles and drove away. It was unclear how many people participated, and the men's identities and motive remained unclear, but the attack was particularly striking because of the resources and sophistication involved, Iraqi officials said. The men drove off toward the city of Babil, north of Karbala, where they shot at guards at a checkpoint, said Capt. Muthana Ahmad, a police spokesman. Vehicles later recovered contained three bodies and one injured individual. The U.S. military took possession of the vehicles, the spokesman said.(...) "The way it happened and the new style, the province has not seen before," said Abdul al-Yasri, head of the provincial council in Karbala. "And this will make us insist on carrying on the security procedures even on official delegates and diplomats when they are coming to Karbala province." READ IT ALL

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