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Politics & Policies: Bush Has A Strategy

Send me 10 chainsaws and the boys and I'll do some pruning over the holidays.

Washington DC (UPI) Aug 05, 2005
"I have a strategy for success in Iraq," said President Bush, speaking to the American Legislative Exchange Council in Grapevine, Texas, Wednesday. That is good news. We could use a good strategy in Iraq right about now. The bad news, however, is if such a strategy exists, the president does not seem to be sharing it with anyone else, least of all with his military commanders.

"On one hand, we've got a military strategy," said the president. "...We'll continue to hunt down the terrorists." The president's remarks came as the U.S. Marines suffered 21 fatalities in just three days in Iraq.

Fourteen Marines and their civilian translator were killed in a single massive roadside bomb that exploded as they rode by in their armored vehicle. The bomb that killed the Marines was larger than usual, meant to rip right through additional armor protection U.S. forces have been adding to their combat vehicles. However, in this case, reports from the area say the Marines were traveling in a lightly armored personnel carrier.

The attack in Haditha, in western Iraq Wednesday, was one of the deadliest single attacks on U.S. forces since the invasion of Iraq began in 2003. It was claimed by the Army of Ansar al-Sunna, (Defenders of Tradition) via a statement issued on the Internet. Ansar al-Sunna emerged from Ansar al-Islam (Defenders of Islam), a group with ties to Iran, and whom officials in the Bush administration have linked to al-Qaida.

"The mujahedin chose the biggest vehicle, the one carrying the most troops, and detonated the devices, causing a massive explosion..." the statement read.

The makeshift explosive device was the largest U.S. forces have encountered to date in western Iraq, said a Marine official who spoke to the Los Angeles Times on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing operations.

What is becoming particularly disturbing is that the insurgency is adapting and learning very quickly from ever-changing tactics on the ground, adjusting to the demands of the battlefield.

"The insurgents are getting better with every battle, with every attack," a European intelligence source told United Press International. "But to change the ways of an army takes years, if not decades," said the source, speaking on condition his name not be mentioned.

"In this instance, time is not working for us, it is working for them, for the insurgents. This can be a big problem," said the intelligence officer.

The Bush administration is not alone in thinking Iran is backing Islamist groups in Iraq, such as Ansar al-Sunna. The European intelligence officer, who is very familiar with the Middle East, believes Iran is somehow involved in the fighting which led to the killing of the Marines. "For sure they, the neighbors who just had an election, are involved," the source told UPI.

The other seven Marines appear to have died in combat, with at least one of them killed by an enemy sniper.

"The problem here is that the Marines are being used as special forces," said the European intelligence officer, familiar with the inner workings of special forces operations.

"Close your eyes and run the film of events through your mind. The Marines are dressed up in protective Kevlar body armor, and yet seven are killed in action, some by sniper fire. What does that tell you?"

What this tells me is that the current strategy for success is not working too well. The U.S. Marines is among the best-trained professional fighting force in the world. For seven to die in a firefight, it also tells me there is a real fight going on in Iraq.

The death of 14 Marines killed by a giant improved explosive device was blamed on a newer, larger and deadlier generation of roadside bombs. This new crop is meant to kill more U.S. troops and to counter the additional protection U.S. troops have been layering their Humvees and other combat vehicles with.

But let's get back to the president's strategy. What does it contain, and how will it help win the war?

"We'll continue to hunt down the terrorists as we train Iraqi forces, so they can defend their own country. As Iraqis stand up, Americans and coalition forces will stand down. And we're making progress," said Bush.

In the meantime, the president reminded the country that we are still at war.

"Make no mistake about it: we are at war. We're at war with an enemy that attacked us on September the 11th, 2001. We're at war against an enemy that since that day has continued to kill. They have killed in Madrid and Istanbul and Jakarta and Casablanca and Riyadh and Bali and London and elsewhere.

"These are ideologues. See, these people have an ideology," said Bush, adding, "Theirs' is really different from ours.

"To win this war on terror, we will use all elements of national power. We'll use our military. We'll use our diplomatic corps. In other words, we're working with friends and allies."

Meanwhile, a videotape released earlier in the week of Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaida's No. 2, promises more acts of terror unless the coalition withdraws from Iraq.

"Our message to you is clear, strong and final: There will be no salvation until you withdraw from our land, stop stealing our oil and resources and end support for infidel, corrupt rulers."

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Outside View: Preparing Iraq's Army
Washington DC (UPI) Aug 05, 2005
A detailed analysis of the current Multi National Force-I and Multi-National Security Training Command-I effort to train and equip Iraqi forces indicates that this effort has been comprehensively reorganized over the course of the last year and that it now includes far better readiness standards and significant allied contributions.

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