DUNNIGAN ROUNDUP

A couple of interesting snippets from StrategyPage:

There are suspicions that the increase in attacks on Iraqi oil facilities is the work of fuel smuggling gangs. The current spate of attacks are directed at refineries and pipelines that supply them. These refineries supply oil products for Iraqi consumption. The less fuel there is in Iraq, the more the gangsters can charge for their smuggled stuff. Criminal gangs have grown enormously since Saddam’s government fell. Most of their crimes are committed against Iraqi civilians, although the recent increase in police on duty had made the streets somewhat safer. But this just forces the gangs to look for new scams.

Interesting if true. And it stands to reason: Just because there’s an insurgency doesn’t mean there isn’t also garden-variety crime. Speaking of which, apparently crime-fighting techniques help fight insurgencies:

American troops have computerized their fight against violent Iraqis, using some of the same software and techniques that has helped dramatically reduce crime in the United States over the last decade. Iraqis have no experience with this, and have difficulty adapting to the rapid responses of American troops to attacks on them. There’s no magic involved, the software simply tracks criminal events and suspected bad guys. The Iraqis are operating in dozens of gangs (or “cells” as the troops call them), each operating in familiar territory and, often, in a predictable pattern. While all American casualties are reported, it is not generally known that far more of the attackers are killed, wounded or captured. Most attacks are disrupted or turned into an ambush of the attacker. Surveillance by UAVs, troops or videocams catches many Iraqis in the act of planting bombs or setting up ambushes. The Americans have satellite photos of neighborhoods on their laptops, along with GPS locations. As a result, raids rarely hit the wrong house. The troops also have built training areas where they can practice the routines used to quickly execute a raid. No American soldier has been killed on any of the thousands of raids carried out.

The US database software records everything about any Iraqi arrested or killed in such incidents, and six months of collecting names and other information has provided a picture of the web of family and criminal connections that often leads to other suspects. The increased danger of making attacks on Americans has caused the payments to attackers to escalate. While some attacks are made “for free,” most are paid for. Iraqis know it’s dangerous to shoot at the coalition troops, particularly the Americans. But the offer of thousands of dollars in cash is irresistible to many young, unemployed Sunni Arabs. These men supported Saddam, and see their economic future as bleak in an Iraq dominated by Shia and Kurds. By making, and surviving, a few attacks on Americans they can obtain enough money to emigrate to Europe or America.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.