11/04/2004

Impending Thunder

The impending thunder I'm speaking of is the up coming battle for Falluja. Prime Minister Allawi's government is in the process of holding negotiations with the Fallujans attempting to stave off a full-scale invasion of the city, but I wouldn't hold my breath. As we are all rather well aware, negotiations mean little to terrorists. The US has bolstered the number of troops in country and a fight is brewing.

We tried this maneuver before and we failed, mainly because the Iraqis did not have the stomach for the fight. Instead we pulled back and installed "the Falluja Brigade" in an attempt to allow the Iraqis to control their own destiny. That attempt failed. In fact, members of the Falluja brigade quickly became absorbed into the Sunnis and foreigners who infest the beleaguered city. Many did not require coercion those who did, quickly changed their minds as high-ranking dissenters were killed as examples.

I'm sure some of my readers are wondering, "If we failed the first time, why would a second attempt fare any better?" To that I would say that the atmosphere in Iraq has perceivably changed. Many of the rank and file Iraqis are now tired enough of the barbaric acts these thugs perpetrate that they now support an assault. Reports from inside Falluja also seem to paint a picture of a population held hostage. In other words, many of the Fallujans themselves are growing weary of being under the iron fist of the terrorists.

One very interesting report even went so far as to say that young girls were being forcibly rounded up to be brides for any foreign fighter who came to the city to join in arms with Zarqawi's terror organization.

Intelligence leaks from inside the city have grown more frequent as the population has come to see the "insurgents" less as freedom fighters and more as oppressors. This has allowed the US to target air and artillery raids more effectively.

For weeks now, the frequency of these air and artillery raids has increased to a fevered pitch, in an attempt to weaken the enemy prior to the assault. Additionally, electricity and water to the city has been cut for quite some time.

Here is a map of Iraq and here is a map of Falluja. Refer to these to orient yourself for the next part of this post.

If we look at the map, we see that Falluja is west of Baghdad. It is situated on the east bank of the Euphrates River. It is the east most of a string of three cities (Ramadi, Habbiniyah and Falluja).

We've already moved into the west most of these three cities (Ramadi) and are evicting enemy elements there.

Reports that I've read show these enemy forces moving between Ramadi, Habbiniyah and Falluja via cover provided them by the dense vegetation along the Euphrates river corridor in this area. In addition, this corridor has been used for movement to the south to exit the area and engage in terror attacks in the rest of Iraq.

Should we move into Falluja itself, we will be executing a classic pincer tactic, pressuring the enemy on two fronts.

Intelligence on the number of enemy occupying this area varies from 2,000-10,000 men, but this number can be increased by forcibly impressing members of the community (i.e. putting their families at gun point).

A peek at the aerial reconnaissance shot of Falluja (linked above) shows that Falluja is a rather tightly packed urban area. It is dissected by Highway 10 into a northern portion and a southern portion. Enemy strongholds appear to be located in the northern industrialized area of Falluja and in the extreme South. You'll also notice that large quarries impede approaches from the north and southeast.

I would anticipate a rapid attack along the Highway 10 corridor, moving to both secure the two bridges across the Euphrates (cutting off that easy avenue of re-supply, reinforcement and escape) and to split the enemy forces. Further, as this is a broad highway, tanks will have enough room to maneuver and employ their main guns. This will create a roughly 5 kilometer long front. An advance along the highway will not be as easily bogged down as an incursion via another route. This would be a tactic that mimics the second Baghdad "thunder run" during the initial invasion.

From there, forces are likely to fan out to the north and south to engage and destroy enemy fighters.

During this action a rather tight cordon will need to be maintained to prevent the enemy from fleeing the battle. The assaults north and south from the highway will press the enemy into ever tightening killing pockets between the aggressor force and this outer cordon.

Enemy elements moving in from Ramadi and Habbiniyah will be abandoning posts opposite US forces there, allowing a rapid assault to their rear as they engage the elements securing the bridges.

The enemy is likely to fight in small units of about 10 men each with larger units tasked with defending vital command and re-supply points and providing a counter assault force. They will employ guerilla tactics, striking from cover then retreating once met with force. In other words, they're likely to fade into the population at large and then re-emerge to fight again. The same tactics we've seen employed throughout Iraq are also likely to be employed here too. The enemy will attempt to lure units into pre-set ambushes and traps with IED's.

Additionally, as this is a rather dense urban area, the enemy is likely to retreat into areas where the tight quarters preclude the use of armored vehicles. This means much of the engagement is liable to be fought on foot and building to building.

Further complicating the attack is the fact that the enemy has elements dispersed outside the theater in the rest of Iraq. These elements are likely to fall on the cordoning force outside the city. Consequently, these guys will have to set up full 360o perimeters to defend front and rear. Further, if cornered, the enemy is liable to fight to the death.

Make no mistakes, this is liable to be a very tough fight. Casualties among all involved (US, Iraqi National Forces, Enemy and Civilians) are likely to be high. Some of my more pacifist readers I'm certain, will not see the value of engaging in this battle if indeed my prior statement is true.

Allow me to explain the situation. Iraq has been besieged by terrorist attacks. Of that, I'm sure we are all aware. This "insurgency" as some call it, has its roots in this area. This is where the command and control lies; this is the re-supply point and the font of their financial assets.

Removing this safe haven will greatly weaken their ability to disrupt the nation. It will help to cull the influx of foreign fighters and allow the Sunni population of Iraq to get out from under the influence of these disruptive elements. Millions of dollars of reconstruction funds can finally be brought into play to better their lives and they can be brought into the national elections slated for January. Lastly, the psychological effects of losing this bastion will greatly demoralize the enemy. It will be especially demoralizing if we can nab al Zarqawi as a byproduct of this action.

There might be some who are concerned that I am tipping the US’s hand. To that I'd say, this is just an armchair general's assessment of the possibilities, certainly not worthy intelligence material.

Here's an idea that I had. I'd like to see the employment of artillery deployed CS rounds (non-lethal tear gas). In every picture I've seen of enemy fighters, they do not appear to be prepared or equipped to fight in that sort of environment. Further the weather has moderated, making the employment of NBC protective equipment less of a burden for our forces. This could act as a non-lethal area denial weapon and greatly hamper the mobility of the enemy. Further, the civilian population will suffer no long-term effects from its employment beyond the initial discomfort that it would present. This is something that I proposed while we were engaged in al Najaf but I was advised that we do not have those assets in country. Pity...

The forces that we will commit to this fight are some pretty tough hombres. They're very well trained and battle hardened. They have plenty of firepower at their beck and call. Further, our units will be bolstered by elements of the Iraqi Army and National Guard. These are likely to be forces on par with the units we used to such great effect in Ramadi. Lastly, the units that will take Falluja have been engaging in extra urban combat training to get ready for the mission for some time now.

This engagement will certainly be deadlier for the enemy than it is for us.

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Blogger Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

I generally agree with your assessment with the exception of the recommendation of using CS rounds. Waco has taught us (reminded us, rather) that when incinerated, CS releases cyanide gas, and the terrorists would love nothing more than to take out the fury of their defeat on the children of Fallujah in that fashion. Even if not incinerated, children can sometimes die from excessive concentrations of CS. It would be a good thing to use along resupply routes in the less populated periphery of the city, but I can't imagine it being worth the risks of employing it in the city itself.

I would also strongly advocate night operations to fully make use of our forces' night vision advantages over the enemy.

I absolutely agree with the way you describe how the cordon operation will have to work. It will have to be a double-edged sword encircling the city, able to fight outward to keep reinforcements away, and inward to prevent escape.

I also think that for MindWar purposes, as much of the battle as possible, especially those parts most lethal to the enemy, should be recorded and selectively televised on Iraqi TV, to "subtly" make known the end result of joining in with the terrorists. Each clip should be similar to this video here.

An analysis should be made of what elements of the terrorists, if any, should be taken alive. Some might have some slight intelligence value, but really, most of them would hold the most value to us, when dead. The deaths of Uday and Qusay come to mind, and I think that manner of death is highly appropriate for them, and that should be televised too. Show, on Al-Jazeera, exactly what happens to these foreign fighters when they try conclusions with us. Label each clip with "The End Result of Taghut thinly disguised as 'Jihad'".

I say again, the fewer prisoners that result from this thing, the better. The more grizly the aftermath, for terrorists to stew on, the better. The fewer civilian casualties for the terrorists to claim, the better. With the latter in mind, I would strongly advocate a large contingent of Arabic-speaking civil operations people to evacuate and isolate non-terrorist citizens OUTSIDE the city, at all points that come under U.S. and Iraqi security forces' control. Yes, this means a temporary holding camp. It would be for their safety while the battle is still going on. In fact, advertise via leaflets ahead of the invasion that such a camp is setup, and those citizens wishing to avoid the dangers of the battle, may line up at a particular set of checkpoints for processing into that camp. No weapons allowed, of course.

The Ninja teams that are already there, and already calling in airstrikes (like the one in the linked video footage), should continue to operate in such a way as to forbid the terrorists from operating in large groups, or assembling in assembly areas. If they hide in mosques, cook them with microwave radiation--leaving the buildings intact, but bye bye to the subhuman flesh infesting the interior.

In fact, time would be on our side if the cordon remains tightly in place around the city, we continue to evacuate civilians into temporary holding camps, and the Ninja teams continue to make it impossible for the terrorists to mass.

All offers to negotiate from this point on should be refused, apart from unconditional surrender.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

I think I would go further than that. At this point, if there are civilians left, they should exit the city on foot and proceed on foot to the check points.

Any cars on the road will be considered hostile and will be shot as potential VBED. Put all men in one line some ways from the women and children. Separate them by sex and age. That way if some suicide bomber guy decides to approach, there is only so much explosives he can carry and damage.

They should bring no baggage. I know that sounds mean but we need to protect the soldiers and the civilians that will be standing in those lines. Food, shelter and blankets should be provided.

Crap...if we can set up camp for 130k soldiers in days we should be doing that for refugees as well. And then they should be registered in a computer system so we can track down the potential terrorists that are bound to escape with them.

I can't believe we don't have these types of abilities.

And yes...the propaganda thing is driving me completely nuts. I wrote a letter to a PR guy over there (we've been e-pals for a bit) and asked him what the hell was wrong with our side. was it the administration? higher ups? media? I asked him to explain to me what the plan was since it seems so damn lame.

course, I put it nicely.

2:08 PM  
Blogger The G-man said...

Actually the company I work for has this sort of software that tracks people biometrically. We're using it right now in Africa in a project funded by the WHO to distribute free AIDS medications.

The points you made vis-a-vis CS being lethal are of course noted. If the gas however is used primarilly outdoors, there would be no issues with the gas reaching a lethal concentration. The idea was to use it as an area denial weapon... "can't go through there or you won't be in any shape to fight" It would allow us to pin the enemy inside of structures, fix their location and destroy them in place.

We are already blanketting the city with leaflets and radio broadcasts informing the civillians to clear the area. Psy-Ops are in full swing.

2:17 PM  
Blogger Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

With the smarter half of the civilians already evacuated, that should give us less cause for hesitation when acquiring a target in the sights of our troops' M-4s. Outdoor CS should definitely be used, especially as a ring around the city to prevent escape during day operations. During night operations it's best not to have to combine gas masks and NVGs, so switch over to infrared and have the clear ability to smoke any of those assholes who try to sneak out through the brush by the river.

I'm hoping that the forces there are doing all the smart things, all the right ways. We no longer have blogs like CBFTW's to give us that first-hand account we all crave, but maybe in books later on we'll be able to read details of how it all went down.

Meanwhile, my fingers are crossed.

2:14 PM  

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