"American troops withheld their firepower on Sunday outside three Iraqi cities where insurgents have seized control, allowing Iraqi intermediaries time to seek negotiated solutions to the most serious challenge yet to the year-old occupation," the Times reports.U.S. military officials said they decided to pause for the Shi'ite festival of Arbaeen. And, according to the Times, they warned that the resistance in Falluja, Najaf, and Karbala "would be crushed if the insurgents maneuvered for long."But The Agonist notes that "you do not negotiate a cease-fire from a position of strength if you are the occupying power."Steve Gilliard agrees, noting that the Marines' tactics in Falluja don't bode well for their operations there.

One exmple, the use of the AC-130. That plane is never used in offensive operations. It can kill a football field's worth of soldiers. No one can move forward when Spectre is above, unless they want to die. It is usually used when US forces are pinned down. Then, it can wipe an attacking enemy out. The fact that it was used in Fallujah indicates that their attack stalled out. Then, they had to call in more AF fighters, which means they were in serious trouble. Marines hate calling in the Air Force because they have a habit of killing Marines.Then, of course, they bought up a third battalion. A full regiment of troops still stuck in that one mile area of Fallujah.In no war game you could play, in no Lessons Learned, do you bring up another unit if your attack is going well. You do that when your other units are getting hammered.
Not so, says Defense Tech reader RB. Although 18 Marines have died in a week's worth of fighting in Falluja, "citing Marine casualties as a flat number is misleading in the extreme."
The real issue is a) ratio of Marine to enemy casualties, b) casualties as a percent of engaged Marines and c) effective control of the city vs. damage to infrastructure & civilian casualties.From what reports are available, the Marines are doing an unprecedented job in all 3 of these categories... Apart from the missiles that took down the wall around a mosque early on, this operation seems to be highly effective without the use of major force options. The house to house fighting is in fact a sign of our strength we can do this with a minimum of collateral damage.
THERE'S MORE: Defense Tech reader MS thinks Steve Gilliard's all wrong about the AC-130 gunship's symbolism."This is far, far, far from your daddy's orbiting bullet hose of yesteryear," MS writes. "Steve's statement may have had some accuracy back in the day of the original(s) going to the DC3 with 7.62 miniguns, up through the shortlived -119 version, and even the original -130 variant."Current models, however, while useful in a perimeter defense, are also very, very useful in plinking individual targets with limited collateral (damage)."
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