Prime Minister Allawi has given the "green light" and so U.S. forces have stormed Western Fallujah. This is what we in the business like to call a shaping operation (or supporting effort) in support of the main effort, which will occur when the proper conditions are set. The primary goals of this shaping operation were to "seize a hospital and two bridges over the Euphrates River" and essentially "gain a foothold in the city." So far, the operation appears to be going well. Some things I like about what I'm seeing so far:
The 3 to 1 Factor
US Military doctrine dictates that we hold a 3 to 1 advantage over enemy forces before launching an offensive operation. However, this doctrine was written with soviet-style, organized, state-sponsored military enemy forces in mind- not the rag-tag mixture of foreign extremists and local mercenaries that we're up against now. It would therefore be acceptable in the minds of some commanders to "ease up" on the "3 to 1 rule" and go with a smaller invasion force that would be a little more tailored to the situation. I'm glad to see this didn't happen. Our estimates have enemy strength at 3,000 in Fallujah, and our international forces involved in the operation are said to be well over 10,000. It's better to overestimate our enemy than to underestimate them. We're treating them as if they were the most capable fighting force in the world (after us of course). This is not good news for the enemy...
What's With the Hospital?
This relates to a theme I've touched on a few times in my earlier posts. Notice how just about every air strike that you hear about on the news is followed by a report that says something like "Al-Jazeera quotes a local doctor as saying that all of the casualties are women and children" which is then supported by a familiar-looking video clip (re: stock footage) of innocent civilians being pulled out of some rubble? This is not a coincidence. Al Jazeera is the voice of the jihad, and for whatever reason, our media agencies constantly see fit to air their anti-coalition propaganda. Well, this "hospital" that we seized was a key component of the insurgent/Al-Jazeera conspiracy. They will not be reporting any phantom civilian casualties during this offensive:
The U.S military said insurgents had been in control of Fallujah General Hospital- located on the west bank of the Euphrates- and were "forcing the doctors there to release propaganda and false information."
It underlined in a statement that when hospitals "are used for military purposes they lose ... protected status."
Hospital director Dr. Salih al-Issawi said Monday he asked U.S. officers to allow doctors and ambulances go inside the main part of the city to help the wounded but they refused. There was no confirmation from the Americans.
Al-Issawi denounced the U.S. seizure. The Americans "thought that they would halt medical assistance to the resistance," he said by telephone to a reporter inside the city. "But they did not realize that the hospital does not belong to anybody, especially the resistance."
Um...okay, Dr. al-Insurgent. Thanks for the scoop...
Show Me the Money!!!
Most of you know that I was heavily involved in the "financial war" that the 101st Airborne Division waged, quite successfully, in Mosul. I never went anywhere in that city without at least $50,000 in my briefcase. General Petraeus gave us orders to "use cash as our ammunition of choice. If we fire dollars (not bullets) at all the right targets," he insisted, "there will be no limit to our success." In other words, these people can be bought. He was right, and now he's wearing a 3rd star and has the most important job in all of Iraq. I'm glad to see this strategy is still in effect. This from the London Telegraph (hat tip: Chester):
'Cash On The Spot- If They Tell Us Where The Weapons Are'
When Capt Kirk Mayfield of the US army goes into battle he will have Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and sniper teams at his disposal. But one of his most important instruments of war will be in his back pocket- a thick wad of dollar bills.
"I'm going to get five grand," he told his platoon commanders at one of their final briefings yesterday. "If they tell us where the weapons caches are, where the IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and the bad guys are, we'll give them cash on the spot." Capt Mayfield, commander of Phantom troop of the 2-2 Task Force, emphasised that intelligence gathered on the battlefield could not only save the lives of American soldiers but also lay the foundations for stabilising the city after victory had been secured.
Never underestimate the power of the almighty dollar...
Also worth note- from the same article:
Standing by a tent in front of a large aerial photograph of a sector of the city taken from an unmanned drone, Capt Mayfield pointed out mosques and schools on a "no strike list" of 217 places in Fallujah that must be spared.
One member of his troop was Sgt Kimberly Snow, a "combat camera" photographer whose job was to record what happened in the battle to prevent the insurgents later boosting their cause with propaganda. "If they're firing out of a mosque or a hospital I don't care where she is, bring Sgt Snow forward. So when we level that thing, we have pictures to show they were using it as a bad place," said Capt Mayfield. He urged his men to play close attention to where they were firing. "God forbid I don't need to blow up a mosque and somebody yells about it," he said.
Sounds like they're doing everything right so far. Let's keep them in our thoughts...
More tomorrow- thanks for your continued support.