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COUNTERINSURGENCY FROM ABOVE

Can you fight an urban insurgency -- from the air?"In Fallujah and other Iraqi cities not controlled by American forces, the military is turning increasingly to air power to target suspected insurgent hideouts," the AP reports."The counterinsurgency led by U.S. forces has been fought mainly on the ground against a resilient enemy. But air power is taking a more prominent role" -- because, in cities like Fallujah, there aren't any American ground troops in place to fight the guerillas.

Air Force F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, as well as Navy F/A-18s flying off the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy in the Persian Gulf, have been used in the recent attacks, Pentagon officials said.Air Force AC-130 gunships, with side-firing 105mm artillery guns, also have seen action lately.On Monday, U.S. planes attacked a suspected militant hideout in Fallujah, the center of operations and support for a group led by Jordanian-born terror suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. It was at least the fifth airstrike in Fallujah in the past week...Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Arlington, Va.-based Lexington Institute think tank, said Monday the Americans seem to believe that airstrikes in Fallujah will wear down the insurgents and buy time for U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces to prepare for a ground assault in the weeks ahead."But you have to wonder whether we're radicalizing the Iraqi civilian population" in the meantime amid claims - substantiated or not - that airstrikes are killing innocent people, Thompson said. (via Juan Cole)
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