Sunday, June 3, 2007

Progress in the Iraq War?

This from today's Washington Post article, "Attacks on U.S. Troops in Iraq Grow in Lethality, Complexity":

Commanders credit U.S. military operations with sharply lowering civilian deaths in Baghdad. The numbers of civilians killed and wounded as well as sectarian murders have all fallen roughly 50 percent in Baghdad in the 90 days ending in mid-May, compared with the previous three months, Simmons said, despite what some military officials described as a slight upturn in civilian deaths in May.

U.S. patrols and raids have also uncovered nearly 2,500 weapons caches and killed or captured more than 20,000 insurgents, militia members and other fighters nationwide since January. Among the enemy killed or captured are more than 1,700 individual targets considered "high value," in what military officials and analysts say is an effort to eliminate leaders of enemy cells in hopes they cannot quickly be replaced.

"Maybe this is the bloody period when we are doing the heavy fighting to get at the bad actors so we can have a more peaceful future," said Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
That is the factual news on the single issue of importance in Iraq - the success of the surge to date. It also seems to be very good news. So why does the Washington Post bury this at the end of an article on Iraq that spends the bulk of its print dwelling, seeingly in awe, on the tactics of an enemy? See here.

Not only does the Post bury the critically important news, but it misses the important points in the rest of its article. The lethality of attacks are largely due to an increasing number of EFP's. Yet the WP blissfully ignores that the critical point, that this implies an increasing role of Iran's theocracy in Iraq. Two, the WP seems in awe of the fact that fighters on the opposing side are capable of occaisionally conducting an ambush that involves combined small arms. That is hardly news - and certainly it is far less important news then the hard facts quoted above. So why does the WP spend the majority of its print dwelling on it? And lastly, the WP, in discussing why the summer will likely be a deadly one for U.S. forces, wholly ignores the 800 lbs gorilla in the room. That gorilla, of course, is a composite of the Democratic leadership in Congress who are looking for any excuse to claim the surge failed and justify ending the war in September. Clearly, Iran and its proxies as well as al Qaeda are attempting to help. The enemy are increasing attacks against the U.S. despite suffering tremendous casualties. Why does the WP ignore the role of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, et. al, in the death of our soldiers?

The Washington Post does a very good multimedia presentation of both a combined arms ambush of an American Special Forces led Iraqi patrol for which the A-Team Commander earned both a silver star and a bath in goat's blood:
A declassified U.S. military report describes a complex insurgent attack last December on a convoy in Iraq. "It was one ambush with three separate kill-zones," according to the report, "all of which were in communication with one another." Such ambushes are among the deadliest attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq. Fighters have grown skilled at sophisticated ambushes using multiple weapons — such as roadside bombs, mortars and gunfire — and also target forces aiding the fallen. Special Forces Maj. Jim Gant's nine-man U.S. military advisory team, with the call sign "Spartan," had orders to travel with more than 100 Iraqi police in 26 vehicles south from Balad to Baghdad through an area where insurgents "have complete freedom of maneuver," according to the after-action report. Gant's team had spent two months working with Iraqi police to quell sectarian violence in the Shiite town of Balad, facing resistance from al-Qaeda fighters in Sunni villages. On Dec. 11, 2006, Gant loaded his vehicles with thousands of rounds of ammunition, tried to confuse insurgents by driving north first, and requested cover from F-16 fighters, which never came. Instead, he and his men faced the heaviest ambush of Gant's 17-year-career. They pushed through the kill zones, inspired police to fight back, and used large bursts of machine-gun fire to create a "momentary impression of superior firepower," the report said. Gant, 40, was twice decorated for his actions: After the battle, Iraqi police slaughtered goats and covered his team with crimson handprints to celebrate. On May 3, he received the Silver Star for "selfless courage under fire."

See the multi-media presentation here.

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