Sunday, April 02, 2006

Some Contextual Examples

I realize the post below lacked examples to illustrate my assertions. Read on fair Horatio.

A commenter at Jason van Steenwyck's Iraq Now went all in with off suit 2 & 3 and said this about Operation Swarmer: "How many insurgent attacks do you think that amount of ordnance represents? Doesn't look like a lot to me. 34 rifles with less than 100 rounds each, wow, color me unimpressed".

Jason, holding a pair of aces replied:

I don't want to say that Operation Swarmer was a screaming home run that knocked the insurgency out of the war. But I will defy anyone to show me anything that ever billed it as such. But the commenter's remarks are fundamentally dishonest. Unfortunately, the techniques - the sleight-of-hand devices exhibited by this anonymous commenter are all too prevalent in many circles. By focusing exclusively on the "34 rifles with less than 100 rounds each," this commenter seeks to decoy his reader from the real and substantial progress made by this operation.

The rifles themselves, if they are AK 47s or variants, are not in short supply. Nearly every household in the country has one. Dragonov sniper rifles are a different story, though - and a few of them in the hands of well-trained snipers could possibly change the battlefield, at least for a time. I would assume, however, that if any Dragonovs were found, the press release would have mentioned them separately.

But the commenter fails to address a simple battlefield fact: The seizure of ten surface-to-air missiles, including four SA-14 guided missiles in one area, is by itself a significant find, and very possibly short-circuits an insurgent plan to win a huge political victory on the screens of America's television sets. (emphasis mine)

Follow on fast dear readers, here comes the flop, two more aces, and a joker:

Anyone with a military memory spanning back 13 years will remember how the downing of two American military helicopters in Mogadishu near an urban stronghold precipitated the American withdrawal from an entire continent. These helicopters were downed at very low level with comparatively antique unguided RPG 7s. The SA-14s are guided systems which can home in on a helicopter exhaust and destroy the craft and crew from a range of four-and-a-half kilometers.

Now, imagine the following scenario:The insurgency identifies a coalition unit that uses helicopters for fire support, medical evacuation, and tactical reinforcement. Any of the three will do. They mass in company strength, detaching a squad with all four SA-14s and a couple of videocams perhaps a kilometer away in an apartment building with ready access to a rooftop.

The urban terrain they select helps them rule out a fixed-wing response, while ruling in the use of helicopters. They choose their ground carefully, and wait.They wait for a squad-or-platoon sized coalition patrol element to wander into their kill zone so they can pin them down. But that's not the real objective. The real objective is to force a medevac flight or a provoke a helicopter airstrike. It will also probably provoke artillery fires as well, but the enemy doesn't care, because his anti-aircraft gunners are safe and sound a klick away, sitting like a venus flytrap, waiting for an unsuspecting fly.

And this is where the real ambush is triggered: As soon as the helicopters come in to evacuate the wounded, or as soon as the gunships come in to strafe and rocket the Ali Baba line, the anti-air contingent is activated. With as many as ten anti-aircraft missiles - not RPGs, MISSILES -concentrated against a flight of two helicopters, the insurgency has an excellent chance of bringing them down. And the cameramen will be at the ready to make sure the footage gets on the six-o-clock news. At that point, the original ambush becomes secondary - it becomes a footrace to get to the scene of the downed helicopters - a race the Iraqi locals will have no problem winning. More footage for the six-o-clock news. The insurgents then form a ring around the helicopters, force the coalition to fight their way through to the helicopters, and draw as much blood as they can in the fight - and hopefully provoke the U.S. into destroying a city in the process.

Instant Mogadishu II.

Instant Tet.

All this can be effected with a few anti-air missiles and an element of real fighters at about company strength (+)

And if you don't think the insurgency is racking their brains to try to figure out a way to create exactly this scenario, you're off your rocker. This is Ali Baba's wet dream. And this would be precisely the scenario I would try to create if I were a commander on their side. Downed helicopters destroyed the United States on an entire continent. Desert One helped to destroy a president.

And politically, this operation would cause renewed calls for an American pullout from Iraq in the United States, when what really happened is that the six-o'clock news got played like a cheap harmonica.

There is more, just a few paragraphs. Here is a permalink. He's written up his insights before. The ability to ask good questions indicates intelligence. Here is a questioin for the press, " What don't I know about this"? The beginning of wisdom.

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