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(A companion piece to this entry can be read here: Slaughter)
BAGHDAD - A suicide car bomber killed 12 people outside a Baghdad take-away shop on Thursday, one day after 190 people died in a bombing blitz that brought into question the US-backed security plan for the capital.One thing generally absent within stories that bring "into question the US-backed security plan for the capital" are any attempts to answer said questions. But explanations of exactly what Coalition Forces are doing are available and unclassified - in the broader details - thus there's no valid reason to leave the reader to conclude that the answer is "nothing".
The latest bomber blew up his car in the central Jadriyah district -- a majority Shiite area -- killing 12 and wounding 28 and also setting ablaze a nearby truck loaded with gas cylinders, a security official said.
The force of the blast ripped through civilians outside the popular Hassan take-away eatery, where university students had stopped to buy lunch, said a police colonel scrambled to the scene.
But for reasons as inexplicable as the motives behind suicide attacks on university students, most reporters are content to do just that.
Kudos to the New York Times (yes, the New York Times) for not leaving that gap in their report on this week's atrocities:
American commanders have said that the Baghdad security effort has reduced the kinds of sectarian killings associated with Shiite death squads, in part because of the decision by many militia fighters to lay low. But the plan has failed to curb the spectacular attacks, many of them suicide bombings, that have become a gruesome hallmark of the Sunni Arab-led insurgent group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. As a result, commanders say, overall civilian casualty rates are actually higher now than they were before the plan was initiated.With only 60% of the surge troops deployed, there are obvious holes in the perimeter. But the strategy is in place to take those into account:
“As we’ve said before, it’s going to be a tough fight,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, an American military spokesman. But, he added, “The plan is not even fully implemented yet.”
Two American brigades — a total of about 7,000 soldiers — are still scheduled to arrive in Iraq and join three other brigades that have poured into the capital and surrounding areas, he said. American commanders say their strategy to prevent these sorts of attacks focuses on rooting out insurgent redoubts in predominantly Sunni towns and villages on the capital’s periphery, or what they call “the Baghdad belts.”
Before the surge of forces, the 1st Cavalry Division headquarters was commanding the Multi-National Division-Baghdad (MND-B). Major General Joseph Fil Jr had responsibility for all the forces in Iraq’s capitol city, a city the size of Los Angeles with a population of more than 6 million. With the addition of several new brigades, it was painfully obvious that the 1st CAV HQ would need some assistance. A new command was established called the Multi-National Division-Central (MND-C) and this command was given responsibility for the brigades on Baghdad’s outskirts.As the New York Times reported,
“A high-priority mission is finding these car bomb factories and getting rid of them, and capturing and killing the terrorists who make the bombs,” Colonel Garver said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. Because of the complexity of building a car bomb — the process can require a near-complete dismantling of the vehicle — most are probably made in sparsely populated areas where the work can be more easily concealed, the American commanders say.i.e., not Baghdad, but "the belts".
Side note: Joe Biden, perhaps through lack of knowledge of the situation, recently attempted to point to the belts as a failure of the strategy:
While violence against Iraqis is down in some Baghdad neighborhoods where we have "surged" forces, it is up dramatically in the belt ringing Baghdad. The civilian death toll increased 15 percent from February to March. Essentially, when we squeeze the water balloon in one place, it bulges somewhere else.While his very use of the term "belt" suggests he knows full well he's giving a half truth (and disparaging our efforts), I'll acknowledge that fighting terrorists won't reduce violence until the fight is over - but then return to explaining the plan.
Take a look at a map and the strategy becomes clear. Multi-National Division - Baghdad (MND-B), Multi-National Division-Central (MND-C), and Multi-National Force - West (the Marines and Soldiers in Anbar) divide responsibility for three connected geographic regions that are the focus of the strategy for Iraq. All, along with coalition forces in other areas of Iraq, are under the command of General Petraeus, Commanding General, Mutli-National Force - Iraq (MNF-I).
While Iraqi Army troops are also a significant factor in the surge - these will be the last areas for which security authority will be transferred. (And by the way - the American goal is to leave Iraq. The difference in American political Party views is the definition of victory and their vision of the land left behind.)
Meanwhile, back to the New York Times:
The Baghdad security plan calls for 28,000 additional American troops, as well as thousands of Iraqi soldiers, most of whom will be deployed in the streets of the violent capital in an attempt to pacify it. But Mr. Maliki said the gradual transfer to Iraqi authority would continue, with three provinces in the relatively tranquil region of Kurdistan the next to come under Iraqi security authority, followed by Karbala and Wasit Provinces in the south.That end of the year prediction might be overly optimistic - but I could be wrong. An important distinction: Provinces under Iraqi authority are not free of violence or threat of future failures - they are simply locations where authority has been transferred. While Baghdad and Anbar are essential to ultimate success, al Qaeda retains obvious ability to choose battlefields in Iraq, and the struggle goes on.
“In this way, province by province, we will reach the end of the line before the end of the year,” the prime minister said in a speech delivered by Mowaffak al-Rubaie, his national security adviser. The speech observed the transfer of the southern province of Maysan from British to Iraqi control. Maysan is the fourth of Iraq’s 18 provinces to be handed to Iraqi security forces.
For now, with the surge as yet incomplete, Baghdad violence increases - but Anbar is heading in another direction altogether. This is not amazing coincidence. The bad guys have "limited resources" too - they are not as invincible or unbeatable as Joe Biden (or anyone else) would have you believe - and they are feeling "the squeeze".
It's an early effort in a long war, but for a look at the implementation of the "belt" strategy thus far, here's Bill Roggio.
And for some finer details on the strategy, read this.
Thanks so much for these updates--they provide much needed context; I just can't trust the AP anymore with their use of descriptives "spectacular" and "bold" when describing heinous acts of murder by cold-blooded terrorists. They don't realize that they are giving the enemy what they want...just report the news, leave the descriptives to us.Posted by Richard Romano at April 19, 2007 06:32 PM
According to yesterday's pentagon J3 brief: 4BCT-2ID is moving into Iraq ATT...
That will be 80% by monday.
Richard, so the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor wasn't bold or spectuacular? Get yourself a dictionary, child. Using those words doesn't imply support.Posted by Just Wondering at April 20, 2007 11:20 PM
This is the AP, Mr. Just Wondering--they are often quite guilty of spreading misinformation and lies to suit their agenda. Pearl Harbour and such came at a time when the media at least appeared more objective--and comparing that to a terrorist attack is another logical stretch. Asleep during logic class jackass?
Sounds like you're just another gullible reader who loves the "honest" MSM reporting.Posted by Richard Romano at April 21, 2007 11:54 PM
Whether an attack is "bold" or "spectacular" has nothing to do with who launches it, and to use those adjectives doesn't imply support. Only frightened losers demand that the news be turned into propaganda. Winners have a realistic assessment of their enemy, including when the enemy is bold and spectacular.
The attacks of Sept. 11th were bold and spectacular, too. Not to mention innovative, efficient and brilliant. Bin Laden spent less than $1 million on them, and in doing so caused the U.S. to spend $1 trillion in response. Not only that, he goaded the U.S. into the type of response that would fracture its relationships with allies and turn neutrals in the Middle East and elsewhere against us.
Does saying this mean that I support Bin Laden? Well, if you're an idiot like Richard Romano, maybe so. But if you've got half a brain, no. The U.S. isn't some god-like force, it's just another historical empire. We too can collapse if our leaders are stupid enough.Posted by Just Wondering at April 22, 2007 12:43 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(5) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)