Iraq: The War Is Not Over In Country's South

High_Gravity

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Iraq: The War Is Not Over In Country's South



COS GARRY OWEN, Iraq — Soldiers at this base sleep with their shoes on so they don't cut their feet running under rocket fire. Elsewhere in Iraq the tanks are being packed up, but here they still serve in the hunt for insurgents. And when U.S. troops hand out soccer balls to village children, Apache helicopters circle above.

In a little more than 100 days, the U.S. military is supposed to be gone from Iraq after a war, insurgency and occupation that has stretched across nearly nine years. But in marshy southern Iraq, where Shiite militancy runs strong, the war is still being waged.

At Contingency Operating Station Garry Owen, the last American military base in the southern province of Maysan, Maj. Steven Gventer spells out their doctrine: "You don't want to be soft and chewy. You want to be hard and prickly. And we are hard and prickly at Garry Owen. ... focused on getting out and aggressively trying to target bad guys."

Garry Owen, named after the fabled U.S. Cavalry song, sits in treacherous territory next to Iran, near weapons' smuggling routes, in a province whose governor views them as "occupiers."

This territory, known most of 2011 as United States Division-South on the military maps, plays a vital role in combating the militias and protecting U.S. convoys heading south on their way home. But the challenges they face hint at the wider problems still facing Iraq and any residual American force that stays beyond the Dec. 31 departure deadline.

To Americans who battled al-Qaida's allies farther north, in Mosul or Fallujah, southern Iraq promised to be quieter.

"When I was told I was going to USD-South I said 'USD-South?' What the heck happens in USD-South?'" recalled Lt. Col. Tim Brumfiel, Sr., who commands the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, based at Fort Hood, Texas.

To him it was "a small blip on the radar screen." But within days of the troops' arrival in February, the trouble started – roadside bombs, 107 mm rockets, and a particularly lethal type of rocket-propelled mortar.

In the southern marshes that straddle the Iraq-Iran border, weapons smugglers slip past the water buffalo and reed huts to easily elude the poorly paid and under-equipped Iraqi guards and fan out across southern Iraq to supply Shiite militias.

Ties with Iran have always been close, and the governor of Maysan is a follower of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which made for a frosty relationship with the newly arrived battalion and left the Garry Owen base isolated and vulnerable.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is vulnerable too. He depends on Sadrist support, but is negotiating with the U.S. about keeping some American troops in Iraq beyond December – something the Sadrists fiercely oppose. Then again, Iraqi nationalists look with suspicion on perceived attempts by Iran to use allies like al-Sadr to deepen their influence, especially in the south.

So when Brumfiel's battalion arrived, it stepped into a fraught situation and a mission that quickly changed.

The Americans had come with orders to train Iraqi security forces. Instead, Brumfiel used more and more men and resources battling Shiite militias. He brought in tanks, rarely used anymore by American forces elsewhere in Iraq, because they could better spot militants and scare them off.

The battalion also stepped up its presence around the base and started patrolling deep into the marshes.

During a recent patrol, Lt. Lon McBride pointed out a 5-meter- (15-foot-) deep crater caused by a misfired rocket. Insurgents had set themselves up in a village house undeterred by an Iraqi checkpoint about 100 meters (yards) away.

In July, when fire directed at the base more than doubled and a U.S. soldier was killed, the U.S. military mounted a training mission involving AC-130 gunships and Apache helicopters. The show of force threw the local government into a "tizzy," said Brumfiel.

Government officials claimed the U.S. was terrorizing the local population, and a delegation was sent from Baghdad to investigate. But far from siding with the local government, it replaced the Iraqi police chief. The new police chief joined an Iraqi Army general who was also new to the province. Both have been praised by American commanders for being much more aggressive in targeting Shiite militias.

The Iraqi Army launched stepped up patrols, checkpoints and operations designed to hinder the militiamen, and August saw a marked improvement in security at the base and around the country. No American forces were killed in combat anywhere in Iraq, and at Garry Owen the rocket attacks plummeted. So far, no Americans have been killed in combat in Iraq this September.

U.S. commanders acknowledge that it's hard to pinpoint exactly why. Among the theories: the U.S. and Iraqi Army's anti-militia operations, Iraqi moves to curb smuggling, or U.S. threats of action against Iran. Al-Sadr has also moved to rein in disobedient militias and announced days ago that he would halt attacks on U.S. forces as they withdraw from Iraq.

The critical question is whether the Iraqi security forces will keep the pressure on the Shiite militias as the withdrawal picks up speed. The Iraqi security forces, dominated by the country's Shiite majority, have been much more aggressive in pursuing Sunni militants than in targeting Shiite militias. So far, officers at Garry Owen say they've been happy with the improvement but will keep hammering the weapons smugglers and thus increase the protection of convoys passing through this fall en route to Kuwait.
Iraq: The War Is Not Over In Country's South
 

RoccoR

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High_Gravity, Mr. H, et al,

Well, that is not exactly it.

Its for the best, they were talking about keeping a small troop number like 10,000, they would be sitting ducks for the insurgents in Iraq.
(COMMENT)

US foreign policy is a very complicated issue. But at at the heart of it, there is something we can all understand. What chances the USG takes are not motivated by the benevolence of America. We take the initiative because it serves some higher US purpose (political, economic, militarily, etc). The micro-Thumbnail looks like this.

  • In the case of Iraq, the US wanted to establish a military outpost in the middle of the region. The initial thought was, that with the Congressional AUMF, if a terrorist link/threat is established over Iraq, the US could move in and "liberate" the country. And the liberated nation, in thanks to the US, would align itself with the US and allow the establishment of one (or more) military bases that could be used in a hegemonic fashion, to influence the Regional nations that have resisted US influence. What went un-computed is that the Iraqis would open-up an insurgency and eventually become a cascade failure that would pressure the US military component to leave. The US strategy never foresaw the possibility that Iran would become the dominant influence.

The Iraqi Government, under the administration of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, is in bed with the Iranians and under siege from the insurgency. They are intentionally trying to drive the USG out of Iraq; with emphasis on military forces. They are appease the Iranians that made it possible to for al-Maliki to hold onto the government. They are making the particulars of the SOFA Agreement beyond the acceptable parameters for the USG. Both internal elements of the nation and the Iranians want the US Forces removed. And that is about to be accomplished. They are doing it this way because it is face saving towards the US. The Iraqi Government doesn't want to ask the US to leave, so they make the conditions to stay "unacceptable."

We are being asked to leave (kicked-out).

Most Respectfully,
R
 
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High_Gravity, Mr. H, et al,

Well, that is not exactly it.

Its for the best, they were talking about keeping a small troop number like 10,000, they would be sitting ducks for the insurgents in Iraq.
(COMMENT)

US foreign policy is a very complicated issue. But at at the heart of it, there is something we can all understand. What chances the USG takes are not motivated by the benevolence of America. We take the initiative because it serves some higher US purpose (political, economic, militarily, etc). The micro-Thumbnail looks like this.

  • In the case of Iraq, the US wanted to establish a military outpost in the middle of the region. The initial thought was, that with the Congressional AUMF, if a terrorist link/threat is established over Iraq, the US could move in and "liberate" the country. And the liberated nation, in thanks to the US, would align itself with the US and allow the establishment of one (or more) military bases that could be used in a hegemonic fashion, to influence the Regional nations that have resisted US influence. What went un-computed is that the Iraqis would open-up an insurgency and eventually become a cascade failure that would pressure the US military component to leave. The US strategy never foresaw the possibility that Iran would become the dominant influence.

The Iraqi Government, under the administration of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, is in bed with the Iranians and under siege from the insurgency. They are intentionally trying to drive the USG out of Iraq; with emphasis on military forces. They are appease the Iranians that made it possible to for al-Maliki to hold onto the government. They are making the particulars of the SOFA Agreement beyond the acceptable parameters for the USG. Both internal elements of the nation and the Iranians want the US Forces removed. And that is about to be accomplished. They are doing it this way because it is face saving towards the US. The Iraqi Government doesn't want to ask the US to leave, so they make the conditions to stay "unacceptable."

We are being asked to leave (kicked-out).

Most Respectfully,
R
Rocco I have read several articles about the US leaving behind a token force in Iraq around 10,000 strong for rebuilding and training the Iraqi Military, I posted several threads about this on the Iraq board. I am against that because in a country the size of Iraq 10,000 troops won't cut the mustard and will be in huge danger of attacks from insurgent groups, if the Iraqis want us to leave I say fine, I think things in Iraq are pretty much as good as they are going to get, the rest of this work is on the Iraqis shoulders.
 

RoccoR

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High_Gravity, et al,

Yes, I read (I think) all of them.

Rocco I have read several articles about the US leaving behind a token force in Iraq around 10,000 strong for rebuilding and training the Iraqi Military, I posted several threads about this on the Iraq board.
(COMMENT)

However, with the Iraqis, such a thing is "never" a sure thing. As much as it makes sense from a USG perspective, the fact of the matter is, their are powers within Iraq that really don't want us there.

Radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called for public rallies on Jan. 1 to celebrate the U.S. withdrawal, but the idea hasn’t gained much traction with other Iraqi political leaders. For now, there are no formal ceremonies planned in Iraq to mark the end of the U.S.-led mission there or to commemorate the thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed in the conflict.
One Source: http://www.nationaljournal.com/nationalsecurity/iraq-war-ends-with-a-whimper-not-a-bang-20111017

I suspect that the USG will keep about 200 (or so) active military (not counting the Marine Security Guard) in official status within the DOS (Embassy) contingent.

Without regard to the "spin" that political truth-sayers and administration officials will place on this, the objective judgement should be based on the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq; look at the prediction and definitions against the actual outcomes.

Victory in Iraq is Defined in Stages
  • Short term, Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces.
  • Medium term, Iraq is in the lead defeating terrorists and providing its own security, with a fully constitutional government in place, and on its way to achieving its economic potential.
  • Longer term, Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well

Well after, the Dead, the Wounded and the Treasure spent, to further this cause into Iraq (those lovable and very worthy people), where are we in terms of "victory;" as defined by Washington.

Most Respectfully,
R
 
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ekrem

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We are being asked to leave (kicked-out).

Most Respectfully,
R
They didn't invite you despite your fabricated lies which led to war and your inflated rhetoric of Iraqis awaiting the US with flowers. What happened was a classical occupation and the aggressor being the USA. Off course they're going "to ask you to leave".
They surely won't build memorial shrines for the fallen US soldiers there who died for nothing.
 
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We are being asked to leave (kicked-out).

Most Respectfully,
R
They didn't invite you despite your fabricated lies which led to war and your inflated rhetoric of Iraqis awaiting the US with flowers. What happened was a classical occupation and the aggressor being the USA. Off course they're going "to ask you to leave".
They surely won't build memorial shrines for the fallen US soldiers there who died for nothing.
Go fuck yourself ekrem.
 

RoccoR

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ekrem, et al,

Well, I thought I would give others an opportunity to answer before I chimed in again on this comment.

We are being asked to leave (kicked-out).

They didn't invite you despite your fabricated lies which led to war and your inflated rhetoric of Iraqis awaiting the US with flowers. What happened was a classical occupation and the aggressor being the USA. Off course they're going "to ask you to leave".
They surely won't build memorial shrines for the fallen US soldiers there who died for nothing.
(COMMENT)

The entire "Iraq Adventure" is a complex issue. Clearly, it is emotionally charged; which complicates an objective view even more. And I see your emotion bleeding through your response; not that it is entirely wrong - but (a bit) one sided.

  • One of the reasons stipulated (now known to be an incorrect rationale) for the invasion, was the WMD argument. It was in the shadow of 911 and anything was adjudicated as possible out of the radical Middle East. Terrorism was not new to us, it had been there before I arrived in Europe after serving in Vietnam. The entire ME region was considered troubled and tricky; permeated with very cut-throat people (literally) hiding behind an unchallengeable cloak of religion, that would go to any length, commit and sin, perform any cowardly act, execute any innocent, in the furtherance of the radical religious views. They became an indelible image, soaked in blood, of the dominate personality projected out of cradle of civilization. They lost, entirely, any genetic connection to the ancient scholars that invented algebra.
  • While over dramatized, Iraq was portrayed as a country that harbored and supported terrorism. (While true, it was not put in context, relative to the actions of other countries activities in the region. This comparative analysis was much beyond the average American.)
  • Then, as normally associated with despot regimes, the leadership was accused of committing outrageous human rights abuses. While actually being secular as a state form, it was lumped in with the other militant Islamic entities that have proliferated regionally and spawned the 911 event.
  • The emotional engine of the day (911 driven), changed the way Americans viewed Iraq and the leadership. Then, Iraq was projected the image of a rouge state in the way it demonstrated compliance to international directives. Iraq did not mount a defense (legal or political) understood by the International Community. And the view that Iraq was stubbornly non-compliant with various UNSC Resolutions, including 678 (Last Chance for Compliance) and 687 (Repatriations and Compensation) was commonly held; not just by the US - but other nations as well.

The idea behind the notion that "they didn't invite you," in your claim, is highly contested. There were several groups, out of Iraq, that reached out to the US and encouraged military intervention; all of whom had their own agenda for opposing the Regime of Saddam Hussein. In addition to the Kurdish groups in the north, certain Shia Groups in the south, there where calls from the Iraqi National Congress, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, and the Constitutional Monarchy Movement. It is not reasonable to assume that President Saddam Hussein was going to issue an invitation. The invitation appeared to come from nearly every quarter of the Iraqi community.

Did the US do everything right? (Clearly debatable!) Did the US interpret every thing correctly? (Arguable!) But was it invited? "Undisputed!!!"

Most Respectfully,
R
 
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khaled

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Iraq and all the honorable Muslims respond Akhj the occupier of the land so pure and innocent children where they want many manufacturer promises, Obama Nkerhecm Nkerhecm not for some reason ill kill you IANA
 
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Iraq and all the honorable Muslims respond Akhj the occupier of the land so pure and innocent children where they want many manufacturer promises, Obama Nkerhecm Nkerhecm not for some reason ill kill you IANA
:bsflag:
 

Samson

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Iraq and all the honorable Muslims respond Akhj the occupier of the land so pure and innocent children where they want many manufacturer promises, Obama Nkerhecm Nkerhecm not for some reason ill kill you IANA
Um.

Yeah.

Ironically, I think US strategy would be best served by leaving behind a few WMD.

We may even let the Iraqis know about them.......:eusa_whistle:


Sorta "The Mothers of All IEDs"
 

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