Follow Their Every Move


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If youre the kind of person who knows what order of battle means, then thisll be right up your alley.

Compiled by former West Point professor and military historian Kim Kagan whos the sister in law of Robert Kagan, a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and frequent commentator on foreign policy and wife of Fred Kagan, one of the principle authors of Bushs new surge plan the newly-released Iraq Report is a bi-weekly operational posting on the situation in Iraqs most restive provinces. Call it an unclassified Battle Update Brief.

This report describes in detail and evaluates significant combat on Haifa Street in Baghdad, and clear-and-control operations south of Baqubah in Diyala province, placing these operations within the overall strategic context of the struggle. It discusses coalition efforts to disrupt al Qaeda networks in Iraq, the probable effects of those efforts, and the integral relationship between those efforts and efforts to stem sectarian violence. This report also briefly addresses the evidence for at least tacit Iranian support for Sunni insurgents in Diyala.

Drawing from news reports, media releases, briefing transcripts and military publications, Kim Kagan takes an apolitical approach to her Iraq Report. Theres no fluff or editorializing, its just the no-nonsense movements of U.S. troops and enemy action.

On Saturday, January 6, 2007, Iraqi troops on patrol discovered a fake checkpoint in the neighborhood, manned by insurgents. The Iraqi forces killed thirty insurgents on that day. That night, the insurgents dumped in the neighborhood twenty-seven corpses of Shiites whom they had executed. On Sunday January 7, an insurgent sniper killed two Iraqi security guards at a neighborhood mosque where he was hiding. On Monday, January 8, "gunmen roamed the streets, distributing leaflets threatening to kill anyone who might enter the area." When the Iraqi unit in the area attempted to oust the insurgents from their stronghold later that day, two of their soldiers were killed in action. The Iraqi unit then called in American forces to help them clear out the insurgents' safe-haven.

But she also uses her considerable expertise to analyze the military commands moves both good and bad.

Eliminating large weapons caches and known insurgent strongholds in the Baghdad beltway helped set the conditions for the Baghdad Security Plan to unfold more safely. But it is difficult to see any path by which targeted raids and strikes would end the insurgency without an area security plan. In January, the Iraqi Army conducted patrols to show their presence, and U.S. troops accompanied them intermittently. Patrols that show the physical presence of forces in an area are not the same as establishing area security. Units on intermittent patrols do not establish close relationships with the local population that are essential for generating useful intelligence, and the intermittent nature of patrols creates the opportunity for insurgents to regenerate their organizations.

The first installment examines the period after the first of the year a time when U.S. forces spent the majority of their efforts training Iraqi troops and chasing after al Qaeda shooters up to the time when counter-insurgency guru Gen. Dave Petraeus took command in mid-February.

Kagan, who also heads up a new non-profit called the Institute for the Study of War, will next focus on the start of the Baghdad security push, including the teaming of U.S. and Iraqi army forces. Shell also take a more detailed look at Iranian meddling in Iraq and the supply pipeline to Shiite insurgents.

You can find the updated bi-weekly reports at the Weekly Standard.

-- Christian Lowe

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