"So, Grim, you're just back from Iraq... what does it mean that we're 'out of the cities?'"
It means that the ISF -- especially the Iraqi Army, and the National Police -- are the first line of defense for urban Iraqis.
"Will it work?"
No. The ISF know what they have to do, but they don't want to do it yet. They're a proud people, and though they've been well-trained, they believe they know their country better than we do. So, they're going to be bullheaded at first, which will leave seams that AQI and others will exploit.
That means you should expect to see a spike in mass casualty attacks for a while.
"So this is all doomed?"
Not exactly. The fact is that only the Iraqis themselves can "win" the counterinsurgency campaign. We've taught them the techniques, but now they have to decide to do it.
They need to fail to learn -- Thomas Barnett once said that our own army only learns when it fails, and that may well be true of any large organization. Plus, whereas the IA are Shi'a-led, the NP are the only part of the apparatus that wasn't de-Baathified -- which means they need to learn to work together, and are likely to do it only under fire.
Expect to see them fail, because they have to fail to get over the next step. The thing to watch is whether they learn. They know what they have to do; the time has come to see if they will do it.
My money's on them. They just need a good whack to the head, now that they know the weight is on their shoulders.
Nick from Ranger Up wanted me to let you know that he's offering a 20% discount to Blackfive readers on Ranger Up gear. The discount is only valid between now and the 4th of July. To get the discount, use the following coupon code: July04.
The Black Watch Air Assaults Into Taliban Stronghold
Posted By Blackfive
Soldiers from 1 Platoon, A Company, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of
Scotland, deploy from a Chinook helicopter at the start of a operation. [Picture: Cpl Rupert Frere, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]
The 3rd Battalion (The Black Watch) of the Royal Regiment of Scotland is on the move...
3rd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland Launch Massive Air Assault Into Taliban Stronghold International Security Assistance Force HQ Public Affairs Date: 06.23.2009
KABUL, Afghanistan – International Security Assistance Force soldiers have launched an assault on one of the last Taliban strongholds in one of the largest air operations in modern times.
Twelve Chinook helicopters, supported by 13 other aircraft including Apache and Black Hawk helicopter gunships, a Spectre gunship, Harrier jets and unmanned drones, dropped more than 350 troops from the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, into Babaji, north of Lashkar Gah, just before midnight, June 19.
The aim of the operation, called Operation Panchai Palang, which means Panther's Claw, was to secure a number of canal and river crossings in order to establish a permanent ISAF presence in the area, which has previously been a Taliban stronghold.
The troops were quickly followed by another company of soldiers from the Black Watch arriving by Viking armored vehicle plus royal engineers and counter-improvised explosive device teams who have spent the last two days building a number of checkpoints on the main routes in and out of the area to stifle any movement by insurgents. In total more than 500 troops took part.
A soldier from 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland deployed on
Operation TORA ARWA in the Zhari district of Kandahar province. [Picture: Sgt Chris Halton RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]
Over the last two days insurgents have launched a number of attacks against the Black Watch but each one has been repelled allowing the troops to secure three main crossing points: the Lui Mandey Wadi crossing, the Nahr-e-Burgha Canal and the Shamalan Canal.
In addition, on June 22 they also found 1.3 tons of poppy seed and a number of IED and anti-personnel mines before they could be laid.
Left to right; U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Brown, Staff. Sgt., retired,
Bradley Gruetzner and Sgt. Christopher A. Burrell, soldiers wounded in
combat while deployed to Iraq, walk through “Hero’s Highway” at Air
Force Theater Hospital before returning to Camp Victory after a visit
to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, June 25, 2009. Brown, Gruetzner, Burrell and
four other soldiers had the opportunity to return to Iraq and to visit
the places they once served. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Brian A. Barbour
“It really is a sovereignty day. I agreed with Maliki. It is a very important day in our history. But we are still worried about security. We hope that our forces will be able to handle security. The way will be a long one.” - Balqis Eidan, a 30-year-old state employee
There's a lot of discussion around the US pull out of Iraqi cities today. Iraqi President Maliki has declared today a day of celebration. Iraqis, who haven't had much of a reason for national pride, might enjoy today. Of course, insurgents who are very desperate to gain attention (and credibility from the media) will try to disrupt the "celebration".
I believe that General Odierno does not get enough credit for the Surge and the way Iraq has changed over the last two years. There are also a large number of strategic corporals and captains to thank for the progress. I also think that there are a lot of Iraqis who deserve credit too.
That said, I did not agree that pulling out from all cities on the exact same day and time was a strategically sound idea. I would have liked to have seen a phased approach. The majority of the urban centers could have been turned over today without a problem and with a very reasonable assurance that the Iraqis could handle their own security. But there are a few hot spots that might need our attention - Sadr City being just one.
GEN Odierno might feel the same way, but he has his orders and he has his plans to enact.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all people who strive for a secure Iraq today.
Update: Here's an Al Jazeera broadcast about today from an embed in Mosul.
The official Huggin' and Kissin' Grandmas are going to be for the first
time in history giving hugs for donations to the Warrior Legacy
Foundation! These aren't your average grandma hug, their hugs
simoltainiously fill you with joy and make you feel like the most
special person in the world. Their hugging reputation spans the globe!
So Friday for a $2 donation you will get a hug and kiss from each
Grandma (and for an extra dollar they might even goose you!).
As many of you know TSO has an aversion to hugging, so if you are not
able to attend our festivities this Friday let me encourage you to make
a donation to the Warrior Legacy Foundation in the name of "Hugs for
TSO." Not only will you be doing good for a wonderful foundation, but
you will also be helping one of our own!
Although it was already announced on the massively popular USO Girls site, I figger I should mention it here. There is a Warrior Legacy Foundation fundraiser party this Friday in the Big D, actually Grapevine.
Join us for happy hour from 4pm - 7pm next Friday July 3rd, at the Tap In, on Main Street in Grapevine TX! Stop by and see us next Friday, Jamie and I will be the two singing patriotic songs at the top of our lungs in the corner!
You are all cordially invited, so I hope to see some B5 readers there.
"Out of every 100 men, ten shouldn't even be there, Eighty are just targets, Nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back." - Hericletus, circa 500 BC
Sergeant Jermaine Nelson, far right, with his legal team and Sergeant Ryan Weemer
For background, here are the historical links from BlackFive:
Sergeant Jermaine Nelson needs your help. Sergeant Nelson is still awaiting trial and all signs point to
the prosecution using unfair tactics against him. We want
Sergeant Nelson freed.
Capt Nicholas Gannon, a young, inexperienced J.A.G. prosecutor, has
attempted to disadvantage Sgt Nelson's defense by retaining experts to
testify on behalf of the prosecution against Sgt Nelson, but refusing
to allow Sgt Nelson to present similarly experienced and qualified
On two separate occasions Capt Gannon denied Sgt Nelson's defense
team a forensic expert, despite the fact that the prosecution was
presenting their own experts. In addition, Capt Gannon attempted to
retain an international expert on P.T.S.D. to testify for the
prosecution, while refusing to provide the defense team's request for a
qualified P.T.S.D. expert of their choice. The judge presiding over the
case ruled that the prosecutor's actions did in fact prejudice Sgt
Nelson's defense and ordered the prosecution to provide qualified
experts to the defense. As a direct result of the prosecution's
improper actions, Sgt Nelson's trial has been delayed twice, causing
him additional undue emotional and psychological stress.
The bottom line is that former Marine Sergeant Jose Nazario, Sergeant Ryan Weemer, and Sergeant Nelson were charged with the murder of prisoners during the Battle of Fallujah in November of 2004. Jose Nazario and Sergeant Weemer have been acquitted of all charges.
There is now a petition that is being sponsored by GI Wilson, a veteran of Al Anbar province
and retired Marine, William McNulty, the Secretary of the Marine Corps
Intelligence Association, and me, as Chairman of the Warrior Legacy Foundation.
Our mission is to build support and help Sgt
Jermaine Nelson with the ultimate goal of having the charges against him
Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Nyman and Retired Army Sgt. 1st
Class Bob Haines pause on their way up Mount McKinley, sometimes known
as Denali, June 9, 2009. Haines was part of the team that supported
Nyman and three other wounded warriors during their effort to ascend to
the summit. U.S Army courtesy photo
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.