HARD ROAD AHEAD

Hellblazer’s “John Constantine” points to an Independent News story of a report [PDF format] compiled by Anthony Cordesman and the folks at CSIS. The report, in a nutshell, says that stabilization operations in Iraq are going to be difficult.

US army commanders are also learning how Saddam Hussein forced his officers to read Black Hawk Down – the account of the shooting down of US helicopters in Mogadishu during America’s disastrous intervention in Somalia in the early 1990s – to convince them the US would leave if it suffered major casualties. The Iraqi resistance movement is believed to have a war chest of up to $1bn – with a further $3bn hidden in Syria – and it is paying between $25 and $500 for each attack on US forces.

It also says 95 per cent of the threat is from former regime loyalists and that suicide bombings are being carried out largely by foreigners.

The 95 percent figure is at least double what I’ve seen from other reliable sources. I hope it’s right, though: It’ll be much easier to defeat FRL’s than Islamic ideologues.

The report makes clear that there is no long-term future for the US military in Iraq: “Some Sunnis and others will always treat the US as “antibody” and cannot even get intelligence up to the point where [it] will stop all attacks.”

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Mr Bremer said that there was no evidence of a direct role by al-Qa’ida, though he felt that the devastating suicide bombs were carried out by non-Iraqis. But he made clear that he had “no hard intelligence to confirm that they were foreigners”.

Mr Bremer told the CSIS that “the most critical problem is intelligence” on local guerrillas and possible foreign supporters. He said: “We do not have a reliable picture of who is organising attacks, and the size and structure of various elements.” He suspected that there was local co-ordination and possibly greater co-ordination on a regional level. There were estimated to be at least eight resistance cells in Baghdad, each with some 25 members.

The interview with Bremer is already OBE; it’s a virtual certainly that there are al Qaeda cells operating in Iraq as an active part of the insurgency. (Which is not to say that there was a significant AQ presence before the war; the evidence of that is slim.)

And I’ve been saying this for over a decade:

There is little in the track record of the US administration to suggest that Dr Cordesman’s recommendations will be carried out, particularly at a time when Washington wants to show results on the ground in Iraq in the months before the presidential election.

One problem is that the US army is designed for major combat. It does not have the resources or training for the conflict it is now fighting. “The army as a whole does not have the MPs, civil action, intelligence, and trained counter-insurgency assets it needs.”

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.