Pay attention to key points, because I am posting an article afterwards that is relevent, followed by commentary. Think of Iraq as you read it. -SG
(from Full Spectrum Disorder – The Military in the New American Century, pp. 53-57)
[from Chapter 5, "Somalia - The Meanings of Bakara"]
South Mogadishu – 1993
In Somalia, all [Somali] parties significantly, and predictably, strengthened their defensive postures to ensure they held onto the terrain they already controlled.
A Pakistani attack in June 1993 against Mohammed Farah Aidid’s Somali National Alliance (SNA) in Mogadishu met that well-prepared defense, and the SNA delivered them a decisive tactical defeat that pivoted on a very well-prepared anti-armor ambush â€“ which the Day paper refers to, demagogically, as a “massacre.” The SNAâ€™s next major ambush would be against the Americans in Bakara.
There is another inherent weakness for outside forces in this situation, and that is the necessity to develop fixed installations and then supply them. The airport had to be secured to maintain an airhead. The roads from the airport to Sword Base (the main U.S. installation), a good forty-minute drive by armored convoy past a miniature Maginot line of 10th Mountain Division roadside bunkers, each themselves vulnerable to small attacks, went all the way around Mogadishu to avoid the ubiquitous mining and mortar/sniper attacks. These two installations and the corridor that linked them were all “fixed.”
Against a highly-mobile, lightly-equipped enemy, this translates into a total loss of battlefield initiative, like timber wolves taking down an elk. The mobile indigenous force can pick away at the edges of the fixed positions, when they want and how they want at minimal risk to themselves, especially in urban areas. Each mildly successful strike can inaugurate a whole new set of policies, procedures, and countermeasures from the fixed force, keeping them perpetually in a state of reaction to the initiatives of their enemies. The U.S. political emphasis on â€œforce protectionâ€ (that is, an obsessive avoidance of any U.S. combat casualties, an implicit component of the Powell Doctrine) only increases the vulnerability associated with loss of battlefield initiative.
This not only drains resources and decreases flexibility. It is very hard on troop morale. I point that out not only in passing, but because it is significant to discussions about operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. [first written in April 2003 -SG]
[The following is a key point! -SG]
There was a way out of this dilemma from a strictly tactical perspective, and that was to regain the initiative through audacious, aggressive, sustained ground action against the SNA. But the Powell Doctrine is one that seeks to avoid ground combat engagements unless there is overwhelming superiority in firepower and a low likelihood of American combat casualties. For the ground tactical commander, ever mindful of the priorities of his or her superiors, that translates into a powerful reluctance to engage in decisive combat, or to even risk combat, and an inordinate emphasis at every level of command on force protection.
Audacious, aggressive, sustained offensive operations against one enemy organization will yield tactical victories, but it will inevitably cost â€œfriendlyâ€ lives, and thereby risks losing the unseen but essential element in all U.S. military operations â€“ the support of the civilian population at home.
So regaining the tactical initiative (forcing your enemy to react to your plans and actions, instead of you reacting to your enemyâ€™s) depends on a type of action â€“ one with a higher probability of â€œfriendlyâ€ casualties â€“ that could threaten domestic acceptance of the military action. This is one reason the Bush-Rumsfeld regime, after 9/11 gave them their pretext for war, began to warn the public about the â€œcostsâ€ of the Infinite War. We were being inoculated in order to give the military more tactical flexibility.
A key and integral part of the Powell Doctrine â€“ and still one of the predominant thrusts of current military doctrine in the U.S. â€“ is information/spin control. Controlling the public’s perceptions of operations is as important a part of military operations, under this doctrine, as logistics or intelligence. One of the primary difficulties for the U.S. military, for example, in Haiti was that Haiti’s porous borders allowed swarms of uncontrolled international reporters loose across the country. Not so in Iraq and not so in Afghanistan. These actions were sifted, sanitized, and packaged for public consumption.
With the release of Black Hawk Down, we have seen the retrojection of this policy to past operations through a public-private partnership including the Department of Defense and Hollywood â€“ another piece of Powell Doctrine image management.
The Powell Doctrine is named for Colin Powell, who is the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as of this writing is the U.S. Secretary of State.
Powellâ€™s first test as a young Black officer was as Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for the Americal Division in Vietnam, where he was given the difficult and dubious task of damage control after revelations about the My Lai massacre, in which U.S. soldiers from the Americal Division tortured, raped, and eventually slaughtered 347 unarmed civilians in a remote Vietnamese hamlet.
He performed brilliantly in that role, showing a real talent for negotiating politically sensitive bureaucratic and diplomatic mazes, and was noticed by one Caspar Weinberger, who would eventually appoint him his Deputy Security Adviser when Ronald Reagan appointed Weinberger Secretary of Defense. Powell was then personally groomed to become the youngest (and only Black) Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
Powell never forgot the â€œlessonsâ€ [he imagined] heâ€™d learned from Vietnam:
â€¢ that there needs to be some simple and clear criteria for â€œnational interestâ€ that determines when military force will be used
â€¢ that the full weight of government and press influence should be mobilized to ensure public support of the military action
â€¢ that overwhelming and devastating force must be employed against the entire society with whom we are at war (as opposed to â€œproportionalityâ€ , the bugaboo that manyâ€”including Powellâ€”incorrectly hold responsible for the U.S. defeat in Vietnam, which was resurrected to explain the defeat of Task Force Ranger)
â€¢ and that there is some clear â€œexit strategy.â€
Implicit in the Powell Doctrine, with its heavy public relations emphasis, is an obsessive minimization of U.S. casualties, which is directly related to the emphasis on maximizing offensive force. Holding down U.S. casualties and hiding U.S. â€œcollateral damageâ€ resulting from the heavy-handed operations that keep U.S. casualties low are the two halves of the public relations issue…
…We had launched ground patrols out of the airport after the first night, August 26, in response to mortar attacks â€“ a tactic that, had it been pursued aggressively, would have regained some of the initiative. But the firing of a warning shot to halt a fleeing Somali spooked the command element and they halted the patrols.
Veterans of Special Ops blunders like Grenada began complaining early, especially after we accidentally â€œcapturedâ€ several UN aid officials on an August 30 raid in yet another classic goat fuck. The next two raids were done in exactly the same way. Our complaints centered on the execution of one raid after another using the exact same tactical template, which some of us were convinced was giving the SNA and others an opportunity to analyze that template and prepare counter-measures. (We were right, but most officers consider enlisted men, even senior ones, to be stupid.)
Each time we raided another target, we would simply go back to the airport and hunker down for a day or two until we did it again â€“ the same way!
Our grouplet of malcontents were privately saying that we should fire up the coffee pots and launch one raid on top of another, using a different template each time, as fast as we could re-arm and refuel, until we were dropping out from exhaustion, then sleep for six hours and start again. But we were not in charge. And greater tactical efficacy would only have altered the superficial features of the overall situation, as the retaliation rousts in Iraq are now showing.
We were still American troops in Somalia. The only way we could change that was what we eventually did â€“ leave.
The Powell Doctrine pushed â€œforce protectionâ€ and overwhelming firepower. The Special Operations commanders were a generation removed from an earlier Special Ops establishment that made the soldier, the team, and creativity the centerpiece of its doctrine. This new lot had been raised under a regime that constructed its doctrine around its technology (instead of the inverse). And the political context was very poorly understood, if at all. This is a perennial problem in the U.S. military.
Iraqi Troops to Lock Down Baghdad, Defense Minister Says
Conflicting Reports on Zarqawi, Possible Successor Posted on Islamist Web Sites
Thursday, May 26, 2005; 7:25 AM
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s defense and interior ministers announced a massive security operation on Thursday that will see more than 40,000 Iraqi troops deployed in the capital to hunt down insurgents and their weapons.
During a press conference to announce the new security measures, Iraq’s Interior Minister Bayan Jabr also said his office believes Abu Musab Zarqawi was wounded, but doesn’t know if he is dead.
The statement by the Interior Ministry came hours after an Internet statement claimed Iraq’s most feared terror group had appointed a fill-in for purportedly wounded leader Abu Musab Zarqawi.
The Internet statement, the authenticity of which could not be verified, was quickly denied in another Web site claim disputing Abu Hafs Gerni had taken over from Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born head of the al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist group. The conflicting statements follow days of rumors Zarqawi was wounded and possibly killed or moved outside Iraq for treatment.
Jabr said his office believes Zarqawi was wounded, but said he did not know how seriously or if he was dead. It was not clear on what evidence Jabr was basing his statement.
Defense Minister Sadoun Dulaimi said the 40,000 force would include troops from the interior and defense ministries. It would be by far the largest anti-insurgent operation carried out in Baghdad by Iraqi security forces.
“We will divide Baghdad into seven main areas, and the number of the forces who will take part in the operation from the interior and the defense ministry will be more than 40,000 security men,” he told a news conference.
Dulaimi said it would be the first phase of a security crackdown that could eventually cover the whole country.
“We will also impose a concrete blockade around Baghdad, like a bracelet around an arm, God willing, and God be with us in our crackdown on the terrorists’ infrastructure. No one will be able to penetrate this blockade,” Dulaimi said.
“You will witness unprecedentedly strict security measures.”
“These operations will aim at turning the government’s role from defensive to offensive,” Jabr said.
END article excerpt
Note the special attention the press constantly gives to al Zarqawi — the evil personification of the war. This is part of the massive disinfo campaign that has characterized this image-management war from the outset. I have serious doubts about who this person is, and whether “he” is responsbile for everything the press claims — since the info-tainers simply repeat what the Centcom PAO and the Pentagon tell them. This is to divert us from the fundamental understanding that the resistance, in all its forms, is primarily Iraqi… and it experesses with arms a widespread Iraqi hositlity toward American forces.
The recent spate of US and US-directed “offensives” is a dcsperate attempt to regain the initiative, which has been largely lost since around Day Two of the invasion. What is interesting is how this condition is constantly transferred back onto the resistance by the administration, who never tire of telling us how the resistance is “on its heels,” its “back is broken,” and that every upsurge of resistance activity, which is becoming increasingly adaptable and sophisticated, is an indication of their own “desperation” and impending defeat.
This only increases the hostility of the general population toward both US forces and Iraqi collaborators. Tactically, these round-ups are what someone once called the equivalent of “squeezing Jell-O,” because the insurgent forces simply vacate the operational area except for a few delaying actions when one of the US/Collaborator operations begins.
The US is now being hoisted on its own political petard in Iraq, even as it has scored remarkable imperial success in Central Asia at quietly installing bases there on the doorsteps of Russia and China, and with the proposed Georgia-Turkey oil pipeline (Let’s hope Turkish comrades wil ramp up their efforts to close down US bases!). The military operations are increasingly being hemmed in (even though these “offensives” look like the opposite, for now) by the politic of unintended consequences — the stickiest being the fact that the US now has ZERO option to attack Iran. For those who haven’t noticed, or failed to understand, the new “government” is a kind of Pinocchio, part puppet, part “real boy.” It still depends on the US to some degree; it hasn’t managed to extricate itself from US control; but it is a decidely pro-Iranian government, with a pro-Iranian popular base that is being held back by Sistani and others from joining the open resistance. If the US attacks Iran, there will be a general Shia rebellion in Iraq, which will rapidly deliver the United States a decisive military defeat. How’s THAT for a Catch-22?
And the attacks on any and all collaborators will continue. This is not a moral or political choice for the resistance, but an ironclad tactical necessity. Every Iraqi who speaks with Americans in any form of cooperation is a source of intelligence for the occupiers. The resistance, which is massively outgunned, cannot allow the occupation to maintain a steady flow of intelligence, so the attacks on collaborators are — in effect — the only method available to the resistance to “blind” the occupying forces. It is not only easier, tactically, to attack collaborators. It is in many cases a higher battlefield priority. The Americans can never become “oriented” in Iraq without Iraqi assistance, because the culture is too foreign to them; and this disorientation is a tremendous ally for the resistance.
The generals have figured this out — at least some of them have — and I’d bet a paycheck that the most powerful voices behind the scenes clamoring for an “exit strategy” are them. The dilemma is that their political masters are hell-bent on permanent bases there, and they wouldn’t know a sound military doctrine if it bit them square in the ass (Rumsfeld is the chief moron in this regard, and he runs the Pentagon!). So these Brook Brothers warriors in the administration directed the generals to build a puppet Iraqi military force to do the heavy lifting, which hasn’t worked worth a tinker’s damn, and more recently, to organized multiple militias out of semi-criminal military organizations like the Badr Brigades and the peshmergas.
So here we are… back in Beirut, or should I say Mogadishu?
During training scenarios, I used to ask young officers who were faced with a tactical dilemma, “What are you going to do now, Lieutenant?”
“What are you going to do now, Donald?”