Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Prediction --- More Bad News From Iraq


[N.B. This was my commentary for June 17th on K's Frame of Mind, an "Internet radio" show. Every Sunday evening, I pop on for a few minutes to discuss the previous week's political developments -- usually the subject is presidential politics, but occasionally, as you can see below, it's not. Listen in -- the show is great fun!]

Over the last 4 years, Al Qaeda in Iraq and their fellow insurgentshave painstakingly developed and then demonstrated their capabilities. They've developed those capabilities because that's what fighting forces who want to win wars do. They've demonstrated those capabilities because proving to the world -- and especially to the American public -- that they cannot be stopped from continually increasing their ability to kill American troops is their key to victory.

What we're seeing in Iraq right now is the beginning of a new phase in the war, based on a demonstration of the third of three operational capabilities the insurgents have worked hard to develop.

The first capability was to effectively attack American military ground vehicles. With the help of (allegedly Iranian) shaped charges for their improvised explosive devices, that capability has been developed and demonstrated.

The second capability was to effectively attack American helicopters. Once again, developed and demonstrated. An insurgency without an air force can't deny the US Forces air superiority. It can however deny them air supremacy to the extent that that supremacy relies on rotary-wing support.

The third capability, now being demonstrated, is the ability to isolate areas of Baghdad. The insurgents received some help with thes from the US and Iraqi government forces themselves, who closed off all but 28 routes into and out of the city, starting last fall with the trenches. In the last week they've demonstrated their own capability by bringing down several bridges.

Prediction: US casualties are about to rise precipitously as the insurgents isolate sections of Baghdad, force US troops out of their vehicles, keep the skies clear of American helicopters, and engage on a much leveler playing field -- light infantry versus light infantry. Casualties will still be disproportionate -- the US troops are better trained, better equipped and better able to bring larger forces to bear as needed -- but the cost is still going to rise ... and the insugents will be seen as having a fourth key capability, that of dictating the terrain and terms upon which the fighting occurs.

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