Iraq Operations Reducing Insurgency
Despite the escalation of suicide bombings in the past couple of dys, U.S. forces insist that their operations are disrupting the insurgency.
The U.S. military defended its operations in western Iraq, insisting it is reducing insurgent attacks despite the deaths of 14 Marines in a huge bombing and four U.S. service members killed in action, the military said. Iraq’s prime minister sought to assure his demoralized public on Thursday that the government is on top of the security situation, announcing a new plan for restoring order and declaring “we are in a state of war.”
U.S. military spokesman Brig. Gen. Donald Alston said American military operations in Anbar province, which includes the area where the Marines died, have succeeded in disrupting insurgent activities. “We still have deaths. We still have suicide car bombs,” he said. “But the numbers we see indicate (the insurgents) can’t generate the same tempo, and I think that’s because we’ve had some degree of effect in interdicting these forces.” Alston cited figures showing there were 13 car bombs in Iraq last week Ã¢€” the lowest weekly number since April. “There’s a clear indication to me that the tempo has decreased.”
Alston warned that militants will likely rally their forces in a concerted effort to derail the country’s political progress, including a referendum on the constitution in October and an election in December.
U.S. commanders have warned that although the number of vehicle and roadside bombings are decreasing, they are increasing in potency and sophistication. Bombs on the roads or planted in vehicles account for 70 percent to 80 percent of the U.S. deaths in Iraq, command spokesman Lt. Col. Steven Boylan said. The blast that killed the 14 Marines and their civilian translator on Wednesday was so powerful that it flipped the 25-ton vehicle and engulfed it in a huge fireball. The extremist Ansar al-Sunnah Army claimed responsibility in a Web posting and said its fighters used two bombs to destroy the vehicle.
One hopes these claims are correct. The fact that the enemy is reduced to the occaisional suicide bomb is a good sign that they believe themselves outmatched. Still, all indications I’ve seen are that we have no clue as to the overall size of the insurgency, or even the ratio of homegrown insurgents to foreign terrorists that comprise it. Partly, that’s because the numbers seem highly fluid. Without a minimum baseline metric, though, one wonders how we can know whether we are beating it back.