When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

May 11, 2005

The Western Approaches


The primary characteristic of the current operations in western Iraq, which the Belmont Club discusses here in great depth and with typically impressive insight, is that the insurgents aren't slipping stealthily away as they have in previous engagements. Their "investment" is anchored at these approaches to the Syrian border, and while they may be able to swing a wide arc through the country allowing them the option of relocation after they've been ejected from Fallujah or Ramadi, that arc must be anchored *somewhere*. They may not have other options.

American forces have simply rolled up the axis, directly through the echelon of their operations, to its anchoring point. What Wretchard doesn't make so explicit is that the anchor is probably an inflection point for another, broader, arc that funnels the flow of militants to where they can be injected into the Iraqi bloodstream. That axis too must be rolled up from the other direction... a much more complex and challenging part of the strategy, but not one that is being neglected. He closes with this:

The US military would at first glance appear to be at a tremendous disadvantage. Unlike Zarqawi's terrorist force, they must move uniformed men and vast quantities of materiel and must seem helpless against the Al Qaeda meme dissemination machine. But in reality it is not so. The US military forms the counterbackground against which its real maneuver assets, which are intelligence assets, can operate. Just as Zarqawi's terrorists move in a civilian sea from which they can improvise weapons, US intelligence assets maneuver in a battlespace dominated by the uniformed armed forces. In their own way, US intelligence assets can match Zarqawi's men for flexibility: once they find Zarqawi's men the American dominated battlespace can quickly kill them. They have a nimbleness of a different kind. From the US perspective, the Euphrates River ratlines are a human infrastructure to be disrupted, infiltrated and turned. For different, but equivalent reasons, the Syrian border and its approaches are an opportunity to bankrupt Zarqawi's investment in militants. Some indication [of] the nature of the contest between US intelligence and Zarqawi's army of zombies, and the role of the uniformed military, which delivers the actual blow, can be seen in this statement by Col Bob Chase, operations officer of the 2nd Marine division. "The enemy, as you expect, once you hit them hard they have a tendency to go to ground ... There are some locations that we are waiting for the timing to be correct." From that it is reasonable to infer that we are not witnessing an isolated operation, but part of a campaign. In the coming months, both sides will probably attack and counterattack not only in geographical breadth, but in along the depth of each other's echelons.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia and The Jawa Report)

Launched by Demosophist at May 11, 2005 10:12 PM

Retaliatiory Launches

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