Military Operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A Fourth Generation (asymmetrical, Guerrilla) War in Central Asia.

How do Western and Pakistani Armies develop their military operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda?  What is the idiosyncrasy of the 40 million Pasthuns who live in the territories infected by them? How is the Pashtunwali or honor’s code of their tribes? How can be better attacked the presence, a perfect control does not exist, of the rebels and terrorists in the wide zone on both sides of the «Northwest border» Afghan Pakistani? The instruction, the omnipresent use of the heavy fire support and the mentality of the great modern armies, do they facilitate the efficient military operations against indomitable fanatic religious rebels in their own lands?

The social and military situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Taliban and al-Qaeda form two vertically organized movements and from below to up. The ideological and geographical nearness allows them to collaborate tactically. That does that its cells do not know exactly which are the higher chiefs. They only know where they have to go to receive support or to send or to receive information or to communicate with another «peer» cell. The commands of these movements act by exception, not by presence or by deliberate action. This allows them to operate well, without the intervention of its high commands. The death of the mullah Omar and two or three chiefs in an American bombardment, would concern little its efficiency, its real military irregular levels of action. The «martyrdom» of the aforesaid or Bin Laden or his «managing director» al-Zawahiri would perform almost equal importance as their existence.
The operative key of the Taliban resides in their innumerable local chiefs (sheiks), with their small guerrillas bands. They are the persons in charge of intimidating, teaching, scaring, attacking and occupying more or less temporarily some of the numerous settlements and hamlets. According to the pressure degree that they should exercise on the villagers in order that they inform them, hide them and support them. Evidently its elementary degree of operative development keeps the movement at the defensive. Without being able to dispute to any of the present Armies in these areas, any territory or village. Without being able to realize other attack actions beyond ambushes, assaults to very small enemy isolated units, harassment by medium range fire, kidnapping, short duration isolated incursions and ways and paths mined. Ideologically concentrated in the conversion to their movement, to their semi nomadic cells, of the most related or nearby Pashtuns. In a minor and less extensive degree, operate the more independent cells of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Their usual procedure for assault a weak defended or without fighting spirit position is this: at dawn they bombard with the fixed rocket launchers heavy fire, then they approach to use mortars, finally, the assault it is realized by several independent squads, that converging advance shooting AK and RPD or PK machine gun bursts and their RPG and RL personal grenade-launchers.
Afghanistan almost lacks asphalt roads: there are only two. The most important gives itself a round turn all over the country, joining the principal populations, Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, etc. So they called it Ring Road. Then there is the North-South Road, which follows this tour, at the east of the country. They are not great thing. The asphalt have between half and one inch of thickness; the heats soften it and pot-holes and bubbles are easily formed. But, under a protuberance can hide an explosive device. It is necessary to cross slow the roads, looking at the soil and looking over the horizon, searching for carelessness observers, not very distant. The Taliban have the habit of recording on video the ambushes, to hang them on Internet. They are not in the habit of using cables activators; these are expensive and weigh, and the rebels are in isolated zones and the logistics is weak and complicated. The devices are activated by the pressure of the vehicle or by an frequency  transmitter with a given range; even serves an electronic opening door device. With the frequency inhibitors, the soldiers try to offset the radio waves in the probable frequencies used in the zone. Being the most expensive and complicated transmitters, that with more range, power and frequencies range. It is the game of the cat and the mouse. The problem is that the guerrillas of an area receive a radio activator that uses an unforeseen frequency.
As for the usual attack by the light and medium weapons fire, the guerrillas do not approach too much. They are less trained and equipped than that the professional military men. They act roughly scourging. Their more frequent weapon, the AK in its variants 47 and M are not precise beyond 150-175 m., in linear shooting. The mortars fire turns out to be imprecise and can be eluded against a mounted patrol. Nevertheless, against the civilians and the vehicles and goods traffic these assault skills are sufficient and effective. The most  terrifying and effective weapon of the Taliban is the illuminated fanatic suicidal. That looks for, as passport to the Houris’ Garden (it is not an eternal prize!!), to carry with him the major number of dead and mutilated enemies. But the attacker could be a religious madman, but is not an idiot. The suicides do not attack the military prepared or fortified positions. Endowed in their defensive perimeter with complicated wire fences, pits, walls, spaces between obstacles, alarms. Because they know that the explosion will vanish in the air and that they will not let him to approach the sentries outposts, because already they are waiting for him. The principal weapon of the suicide is not his explosive belt or jacket. They are the surprise, the freedom of action and the initiative.
The units of the Allied armies (in Afghanistan) or of the Pakistani army act employing battalions and regiments. With the battalion forces they try to sweep a zone in a direction, in whose opposite limit they have deployed a military «bolt». With a regiment they are in the habit of carrying out a search and annihilation operation in a given area. They are probably too much forces. The highland guerrillas have a natural weapon which lack the soldiers trained in «our way «: the patience and sobriety. In Vietnam they were lonely raised to the trees, and there were silently and stilly waiting, until the crossing of the soldiers who were sweeping the operational zone. Covering with mud the roof of an Afghan hut, it prevents the observation of its interior by the thermal vision airborne devices, crewed or not.
In 2002 the Pakistani began to send troops to the Waziristan and other Pashtuns zones, reaching progressively 80 thousand deployed men there. In their operations, destroyed Taliban training fields and captured many terrorist chiefs. But their regular war tactics and techniques, alienated them the favor or the neutrality, according to the cases, of the tribes, since there were taking place very easily civil innocent victims with them. Finally, in the autumn of 2005 the Government reached an agreement with the tribe chiefs or Maliks, moving back from the zone. It was a low intensity conflict: in the last 2 years 700 military men died. The problem was that it was clearly seen that the military men could not dominate the Pashtuns areas and clean them of terrorists. Since then, the reprisal raids are sporadic and punctual, over detected and given targets, which not always is obtained or destroyed.

The geographical space of the Pashtuns tribes (Afghans and Pakistani).

From Pakistan, looking from the Punjab (or «the land of the five rivers») towards Afghanistan, appears the great bed of the Indus river. This acts as geographical border with the Pashtuns lands, forming an enormous natural moat, which never stopped their raids. Then appears an irregular mixture of plains and mountainous spurs, in lands that turn out to be fertile when they can be watered, shaped by the first heights of the Suliman great mountainous chain. Beyond, the big mountains crown. Towards the north, forming perpetual snow zones, there are Alpine type pastures and heights forests, up to reaching the spurs of the massive chain Hindu Kush. Towards the south, spread the lowest Waziristan mountains, in which appear rocky outcrops at more than 3000  m. of altitude. Descending more toward south, are bush covered spurs and gullies, up to the desolation of Zheb and Mekran areas, already near the Indian Ocean, in the Baluchistan.
These intricate heights provide a wall that prevents massive invasions from one or another side of them, provided the passes are dominated. The most famous still nowadays is Khiber, since it opens the way between Kabul and Peshawar.
In the Baluchistan live the Baluchi, Braui and Pashtun (in the northern part) etnia tribes. In the South and North Waziristan’s regions the Pashtuns are more concentrated, forming a real Pakistani Pashtunistan. Within the great pashtun etnia, the Mahsuds (these specially inclined to break the agreements and treaties) are in the Waziristan central zone, the Wasirs and the Afridis live in the zone of Tirah and the Mohmands, at the north of Tirah. The zone of Chitral, at the north of the border, is formed by the Bajaur, Dhir and Swat districts. The Waziristans are the most problematic, independent and turbulent tribes. Their lands are poor and rough, in which scarcely they find an elementary sustenance. Formerly, up to the first third of last century, they were in the habit of descending occasionally in armed raids up to the Indus valley. To obtain value goods, mounts, jewels, foreign women, attacking and harvesting its inhabitants, which were Hindu of race and religion, and therefore, unbelievers. More to the south-east of the lands of these tribes, without coming yet to the Indus valley, are the lands also mountainous of the Khattaks, Bangashis and Yusufzais, all also Pashtuns. Tribes that produced first class Sepoys for the semi irregular British units operating in these zones.
The Afghan heights around the border with Pakistan are the other great slope west of the mentioned mountainous chains, crowned at the north of the country by the great Hindu Kush. The absence of European explorers in the Afghan side (Afghanistan was an independent country opposite to Russians and British), does that they are less studied and very little known by non specialist people.
In Afghanistan, the Pashtuns are at the south and south-east, reaching 35% of the population and around 12,5 millions persons. Another important Afghan etnia are the Uzbecs (10%) and the Tajiks (25%), which live in the north of the country, bordering the Tajikistan and Uzbekistan independent republics. In the center live the Hazaras (20 % of the population), related with the Persian and in the south are the Baluchis (10 %), related, in turn, with the Pakistani Baluchistan tribes. The flow of Afghans, specially Pashtuns, towards Pakistan or coming back home, when the military conditions are smoothed, does that the figures, lacking for decades of an official census, are variable and vague.
In Pakistan are 4 great etnias: the Pashtuns, the Punjabis, the Sindhi and the Baluchis. Precisely, the country is nowadays divided in four big provinces: Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan and the Northwest Border, each one formed by numerous administrative districts. There exists an autonomous tribes zone, that goes between the last province and the border with Afghanistan and that is governed by the central federal authority. The tribal zone possesses 7 tribal agencies and 6 small districts. The individuals of Pashtun etnia are approximately 25 millions in the country.
After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the dispute arose with Afghanistan for the possession of the wide frontier tribal zones, which was looking for its exit to the sea. Both countries almost came to the armed conflict, until they signed in 1963 an agreement of borders determination. The borders existing during the British domain were ratified in it. And Afghanistan stayed as an interior country, without access to the sea routes.

Social anthropologic particularities of the Pashtuns tribes.

The internal relations of the groups, families and local families groups and clans, are characterized by incorporating into them certain rites, rules, attitudes and taboos. These gather, value and quantify their vital needs, their primary emotions and their beliefs. The Islam is rigorously followed in the wide zone we treat. They are all of the sunni branch, that accepts the Koran and the Prophet Sunna, his acts and remarks (hadices) due gathered by his disciples, as the orthodox sources of Allah’s revelation to the men. The differences reside in the rigor with which they examine and accept the sources of the Sunna. This assumption forms a part of the social inculturation, strengthening and cohesion of these groups.
These societies agree and are ruled by an authority, more or less respected and obeyed. The more be perfected and advance towards the exterior the society, the power of this authority will become strong and grow and will spread in influence areas. The smaller and isolated is the group, the authority power will be more moderating and integrating, acting as the first between the «equal ones». In these last cases, the meeting of the active members (men, hunters) of the clan in assemblies, “jurgas” (in its language), etc., has supreme and sanctioning value of the deviant or solvent conducts for the group. Evidently, in these local councils, the prestige and the power of each individual member counts, and in them some are more «equal» than others. These local chiefs or Maliks are like favored negotiators with the different governments, who enjoy a personal more than institutional authority, and whose agreements can be ignored by the adult males, if are not confirmed by the assemblies.
Their code of customs and honor is the Pashtunwali. It establishes to the individual certain rights and demands from him certain social duties towards the family, the clan and the tribe. The basic disputes on women, gold or valid money and lands are in the origin of the durable hatreds in these tribes. And that must be kept up to avenging the perceived affront. The own fragility and weakness of the society demands the appearance of the protective values. These might be the hospitality, the loyalty, the friendship, the scorn of the strange, the revenge of affronts and damages, the individual and collective honor. Each of them protects and enlarges in some measure or shade the small human group. As we will see the relations they are interpersonal, in the areas of the family, the clan and the region. They are projected by the opportunity, the nearness, the exchange of goods and the relation. And become strong with the loyalty, the respect of the accepted procedures and the treatment time. And depending on the accumulation of these elementary successive acts. A stranger can aspire this way to his integration, in a personal manner. And not for the quality or importance of his category or institutional position.
The hospitality takes implicit the reciprocity, when one travels, is alone and is not aggressive. This sometimes is perfected by the endowment of an escort to the traveler through insecure zones. The violation of this «escort» by an assault supposes a serious affront for the clan that provided it. The loyalty between the members of the group, sometimes very unstable, cohesion it. The honor inflates the self esteem and appearance before everybody. The revenge, in absence of a real justice, search to punish and then to repair the damages and affronts real or perceived. The scorn of strange not adorned with good qualities or menacing the group, seeks to prevent a priori their integration in it, as a passive defense form. The friendship embraces the ties with the equals and within the group. If someone joins these elementary groups, he is object of loyalty and friendship in a personal way. These values would increase by his performance, ways and personal behavior. It would be the case of a native forces chief, accepted by them for the pays, the honor and the status that they offer and project on the regional clans. The acceptance is not with the cargo, but with the person.
Another characteristic of the social organization of these frontier semi independent tribes is that they stimulate a relative endogamia. With it they seek to isolate, to protect, to support or to increase their idiosyncrasy, influence and patrimony. But, without been biological harmful its use. As it would be between the members of the same family or small or nearby clan. In effect, the marriages not only suppose and carry individuals exchanges between the families of the married. They also produce exchanges and flows of gifts, visits, relations and power plots. In a few little evolved societies, living in a difficult way and, sometimes surrounded temporarily by hostile, the matrimonial relations produce a «revenue», an increases of social positions, influences and goods, which are very estimated by the families.

How is it necessary to confront the approximation towards the frontier tribes and foment their pacification? So that they isolate and expel the violent radical elements. And assume a more lasting and strong ties with the central authorities of both implied countries.

The highland villages are numerous, small and spread for both sides of the common border. In them can be camouflaged a small group of «regulars» Taliban, waiting that the jerky military flood passes away. Apart, the Taliban enjoy a complicated system of natural caves, reinforced by communication tunnels, endowed with extended zones for waiting and the storage of all classes of goods. This system is used to facilitate the traffic between both countries, without having to use the frontier passages or the most habitual and known gorges, as «parts» of the complete journey. And as temporary refuge, when the Allies carry out reprisal or rebels searching operations, on Pashtun zones where they have been more active. Taliban are Pashtuns. Only are distinguished from the local tribes by their major religious proselytism and military activity. Some of the villagers whom the soldiers meet in their patrols and searches, could be «part-time» Taliban and sympathizers. Two or three men of a native group that pass along a rural way, can be a  Taliban team moving across.
Here it is possible to exploit an atavism that survives in all the collectivities. And that is shackled by the civic and moral education in the so called educated nations. And that is the egoism, as original fruit of the defense need and of the chronic shortage of original resources. That generates in the most primitive societies a distrust towards the non nearby neighbor, who is collectively estimated as a competitor and a probable enemy. The Taliban are foreign in Pakistan, and committed in a foreign war. Apart from their select and absorbent radical interpretation of the sunni Islam. Following the mentioned general guidelines it is easy and simple, though laborious and necessarily progressive, to achieve that the Pakistani Pashtuns close up their lands to the Taliban. Avoiding this way the spread of their doctrine and methods. And the extension of their operative refuges towards the west of the Indus, which always will prevent their possible eradication of Afghanistan.
The military operations in the modern wars (of third generation) demand to detect the most rapid and precisely a mechanized enemy, along all his deployment, up to his reserves. Then attacks him with ground and air heavy fire, including tactical rockets. But here the enemy is evasive, dispersed, worse armed, bad trained, unruly. He is native, is tough and scanty, hides easily, is a born predator, usually does not defend his positions. The operations of the military big units and units let escape the guerrilla teams, through infinity of tactical «interstices» or microvacuums of military «combat capacity». It is necessary to operate with nearness at his microtactical military level. To the diffuse, tenuous, but omnipresent «swarm» of the Taliban is necessary to interpose a civic military «swarm». Formed by voluntary elements, more qualified, professional and trained than the guerrillas.
It is necessary to create small «action units», for combined “social military” actions. That are capable of reaching the Taliban habitat and to expel them from it, progressively and firmly. Interposing between them and the tribes, his real guerrilla habitat. Units that, in its basic or standard model, would be formed by a squad of infantry light local loyal trained forces, a squad of professional foreign infantries and a group of civil technical personnel for tribe promotion and education with suitable material. Its logistics and support will be based on ground units and heliborne forces, centrally controlled from 2 or 3 near operative bases. And complemented by mobile columns in vehicles or of cavalry, forming a support patrols’ network in a region.
Once made firm these small flexible units, can arrive there major forces and brigades of work and education, to go garrison the zone and stimulating its social improvement. It is necessary to possess money to buy the will of collaborators and sympathizers. This can become facilitating work and social distinction to them. And to realize the necessary plans of development.
To eradicate the opium crops can be an independent strategic goal. And it is necessary to value very well its opportunity and possibility for every small zone. It is necessary to offer the natives an alternative of peace, progress and well-being, within their beliefs and ways, in order that they expel the Taliban.

The defense of the military positions in the asymmetrical counterinsurgency warfare.

The effective defense of the billeting, redoubts and military camps from the attack and harassment of the irregular armed rebels is based on three operative qualities: the initiative, the mobility and the offensive action. These, in turn, are directly determined by the mentality and the combative disposition of the military men (which depend fundamentally on them) and by the military capacity or available means in the operations zone (that depend fundamentally on the politicians and the public managers).

The countless military, social, ethnic and economic guerrilla targets in an asymmetrical conflict.
Almost by definition, the military and police available means in a war against the irregulars are very scanty, and even they can be scandalously insufficient. And this does not depend so much of them not on the established authorities, but it is a direct function of the strategy inherent in a guerrilla right development process. The number of possible, potential goals and targets, which offers an organized modern, more or less developed society, to the operative solvent strategy of an armed insurgency is almost countless and inexhaustible.
Let’s see an expressive, but not exhaustive relation:
Attempts on civil and religious authorities and on isolated members or little groups of the armed forces and policemen.
Destruction and sabotage of the plants and energetic networks: thermal plants, dams, combined cycle plants, wind fields, refineries, fuels deposits, crude oil and gas pipelines, electric transformers and high tension lines and their centers of control and distribution.
Assaults to the lines of communications: television and mobile telephony repeaters, broadcasting stations, radio antennas, telegraphic wires, bridges, tunnels and viaducts, halts and railway stations, railroad track and catenary parts, trains and buses, great tonnage trucks and distribution transport vehicles, temporary obstacles in the roads and railway tracks, covered or not by indirect or direct fire.
Destruction or incapacitation of directly economic means of all sizes and importance: mines, plantations, industries, shops, hotels and resorts, groups of tourists. In these cases the insurgency must value the direct loss of working places and the probable alienation of part of the popular sympathy towards it; the effect is similar if there gets depressed the economic activity, but the employment is not destroyed directly.

The biased political intervention in this kind of social irregular military conflicts is a plague for the military struggle.
Sun Tzu is the real or supposed name of a Chinese author, who wrote The Thirteen Chapters on the Art of War, between 400 and 320 BC The style unit and its originality allow to affirm that it is neither a collective work nor a summary. And the use of the cross-bow did not generalize until 400 BC and the cavalry was not incorporated into the army before 320 BC And, what does Sun Tzu say on the military missions and the political spurious interference on them?
«Normally, when the armed forces are employed, the general first receives the general orders from the sovereign. Later he assembles the troops, and makes the army a quite homogeneous and harmonious unity and installs it in its camp”. Chapter 7, verse 1.
«It is necessary to know the sovereign has three ways of taking his army to the disaster. They consist in proceeding as follows:
To ignore that the army must not advance and order that it should advance, or, to ignore that it must not withdraw and arrange a retreat. This is what is called «to put the army in a difficulty». Chia Lin’s commentary: «there is no major calamity that the orders of a sovereign that resides in the court».
To ignore all the military matters and to take part in its administration. This disorients the officials.
To ignore all the problems of the command and to take part in the exercise of the military responsibilities. This destroys the spirit of the officials » Chapter 3, verses 19 to 22.
«That who has competent generals and protects them from the interference of the sovereign, will be the victor”. Ibid, verse 29. Hsi Ho Yen’s commentary: «In the war hundreds of changes take place in every stage. To say that a general must wait for all the orders from his Superiors is like to inform a Superior that you want to extinguish a fire. Before the orders come the ashes will be cold. And it has been said that in such circumstances it is necessary for  him to consult the General Inspector of the Army! To tie shortly a competent general, while he is asked to suppress a crafty enemy, is like to hold the Black Greyhound of the Han and later give it the order to  catch unattainable hares»
«There are cases in which the orders of the sovereign do not have to be executed necessarily. Chang Yu’s commentary: «The king Fu Chai has said: ‘ If you know which is the conduct to follow, go on; do not wait the instructions».
A general who possesses a perfect knowledge of his trade, knows how to handle the troops. Chia Lin’s commentary: «The general must be sure of being able to exploit the situation in his profit, according to its circumstances» Chapter 8, verses 8 and 9.

A vivid example of a right camp defense taken from the Vietnam’s war.
2 º battalion of the 28 North American infantry regiment carried out in March, 1966 the operation Cocoa Beach, of “search and destroy” units of the Viet Cong, in the Ben Cat district, Binh Dueng province of South Vietnam. The battalion, at lieutenant colonel Kyle M. Bowie’s orders, moved afoot on March 2 from the base of its brigade in Lai Khe up to the Lo Ke rubber plantation. There it established a strong defensive perimeter, in a flat and free of bushes area, except for some hedges and elephant grass spots. West of the plantation a thick jungle was raising. The time was good.
The following day, the companies A and B initiated their missions, remaining the company C in garrison. In its return, company B located an enormous trench of several km, which was passing in North and North-East directions from the US camp. And that had been occupied recently by an important enemy force, as the new excavations in it were proving.
Colonel Bowie supposing that a great Viet Cong force was in the vicinity, coordinated with the 3 ª brigade to assure himself the air and artillery supports. The fighting positions of his men in the camp were improved and protected everything possible. Bowie also established three observation and combat positions, each for a reinforced section, advanced by each company, at approximately 500 m. out the camp perimeter.
Around 06:00 on March 5, the second lieutenant Robert Hibbs, company B, in positions with his section on the perpendicular crossing of the routes Blue and Red, at the northwest of the camp, observed a group of armed women and children carrying ammunition. They were moving slowly through the Red route (parallel to the trench) and stopped at approximately 100 m. from the patrol.
Immediately he detected a company of the Viet Cong advancing from north to south in the Blue route, which stopped at approximately 50 m. of his position. Three Viets went to the group of civilians. The patrol used the delay to direct all her Claymore grenades on the Blue route. Finally, the guerrilla company continued the march. When its main body was at approximately 6 m. of the patrol, this one detonated her Claymore and threw hand grenades, dispersing finally the rest of the Viets with the fire of the M-16s. On having heard the explosions colonel Bowie ordered Hibbs to return. In her way of return, the patrol reached the rear of another enemy company, deployed already to attack. The American patrol attacked the enemy and crossed its assault deployment, routing it totally. Hibbs died trying to recover with his sergeant a wounded straggler. Before falling down definitively, hurt several times, he destroyed his night vision devices. Honor’s Medal of the Congress was granted to him.
The patrol of the company A was operating south of the camp. Soon she was totally surrounded by Viet Cong columns, which ignored her presence and which were going towards the American battalion. The patrol stuck at the end of an enemy squad, to go approaching the perimeter. Already near it, this way out was made initially shooting and launching grenades over the nearby guerrillas, slipping towards the camp.
Bowie withdrew patrol C. Around 07:00 the battalion was occupying his defense positions almost in full force.
The opportune detection of the enemy intention, the premature dislocation of part of his attack deployment, the precise support by the brigade heavy fire and the defensive positions in depth of the battalion were decisive. Around 12:00 the enemy assault, by the 272 regiment of infantry of the Viet Cong, reinforced by a heavy weapon battalion in war subordination, had vanished with the most serious losses.

One example from the Iraqi counter insurgency war. The  Spanish base in Diwaniya
On August 28, 2003 an Spanish infantry brigade assumed the control of the sector centered in Diwaniya, as part of the Hispanic Polish division, deployed in the south center of Iraq. Diwaniya, city of approximately 100 thousand inhabitants, is the capital of Al-Qadisiya’s province.
Scarcely come to the power in April, 2004, one of the first orders of the Spanish Chief of the Government Rodríguez was the retreat of our forces of Iraq. The following one was to grant the Great Cross of the Military Merit to the minister of Defense, for the above mentioned withdraw operation. The shame of his family made resign Mr. Bono the above mentioned high decoration. On May 21 were transferred officially the control of our three barracks, Spain, Al-Andalus and Santo Domingo, in Diwaniya to the North American forces.
The North American command initiated this April an offensive in this zone against the so called Army of the Mahdi (the guided by Allah) of the imam chií Muqtada al-Sadr (see our article » Iraq Hoy” in this blog) and they requested the active Spanish help. As our forces did not have a Parliament “mandate” to take part in attack operation, the continuity of their mission in the reconstruction and stabilization of Iraq was staying in precariously indefinitely.
The situation had deteriorated so much that the Iraqi governor of Al-Qadisiya, more extensive than Estremadura Spanish province and with approximately 800 thousand inhabitants, had just deserted and to form a band of approximately 40 followers, to make worth) his master of the war’s rights.
Diwaniya’s facilities, where were lodging our more than thousand men, remained turned into Fort Apache’s imitation. Because the Iraqi rebels are not in the habit of estimating these subtleties like: «I am here, but I do not attack you» or «I am white, rich and use Kevlar helmet, but I am not Yankee». We were an easy and comfortable target for their fury and hatred to a not Islamic democracy and to the winning Christians occupants.
During more than one month the irregular rebels chiíes realize a permanent harassment of our barracks, tremendously defended (sensors, pits, wire fences and fortifications) against the islamist suicides assault bombs. But it happens that these suicides, who are illuminated but not silly fanatics, attack enemies groups not protected sufficiently, searching as passport to the Houris Garden, to take with them the major possible number of dead or mutilated enemies. There was not even a suicidal attempt against us.
The majority of the days of wait up to the announced retreat, our billetings were scourged by automatic fire of light weapon and mortar shells, with an average of 10 grenades for assault. In order to remove the origin of the indirect fire, our forces realized assaults with limited aims, expelling the irregular mortars up to the other side of the river. In the encounters and ambushes suffered, we killed approximately 20 rebels. We suffered a dozen of injured men in the whole process and several Arabic collaborators died. We do not have any news or help from the chií battalion of the Iraqi Army that we were training. And whose colonel was asking formally us not to return to Spain.

Some possible right fighting missions for this type of defense.
The gravity center of the active defense of the military fixed positions resides in the observation and the control of the approximation routes. That in rural zone can be a semi flooded rice field; in mountainous area, a heights line below the military crest; in urban zone, the streets orientated towards them, from certain distance, and in a road, a verge. All this compounded by the climate and the day hour.
The observation and fighting positions can consist from the couple of snipers up to a platoon, according to the characteristics of the area and the intentions and capacities of the enemy. Those are apart of the perimeter defense and of the patrols who cross it randomly, that constitute a part of the camp static defense.
The enemy is in the habit of exploring, at least initially and also in fluid fighting conditions, by observation. It is important to locate and to eliminate these reconnaissance positions. The patient observation is the way. Bearing in mind that if the exigency is intense, every 30 minutes the observer must be replaced, because he looks, but already not sees.
If additional means exist for it and as complement, it is very necessary to use the energetic patrolling (see our article “Irak, hoy” in this blog) against the enemy, moving away much more.
A passive defense, limited to rejecting the assaults, with the initiative and the election of the moments in hands of the enemy, is almost the most solvent of the combat morale that can experience a force, leaving apart a defeat. Ask about it to the Frenchmen who were defending multitude of redoubts and positions in Indochina before Dien Bien Fu in 1954 and to the nationalistic Chinese until 1949.


The first level of the activity of the defense of an organized Society is called national strategy and also, some old-fashioned, great strategy. In it must be considered also the economic and diplomatic resources of the State, as part of the resources of a nation to obtain her big strategic goals in a war.

The military strategy or simply strategy treats, in the second great level of activity in the national defense, of the definition of the big goals of a war, of a theatre of operations or a campaign, and of the assignment of the military, generally scanty or very scanty resources, to get them.

The tactics devote itself to the best accomplishment of the combats against an enemy, whom is opposed to the achievement of our strategic goals by military means. The combat skills and technics are the bricks which help to construct the tactics. They are the specific knowledge of weapons, movements, protections, which the men personally and collectively learn with the training and their experience.

Between both levels of the military action exists a space of essentially practical and eminent activity, so called operational level or operational strategy. Its mission is to optimize the use of the tactics and of the available resources in the campaign and in the theatre of operations. To do that, it defines and conceptualizes the battles, the marches, etc., both the military operations and their correct succession, depending on those decisive goals.

So it gives to the tactics and the decision to which it is orientated, a superior importance. Which is far beyond of the pursuit and the exploit of the tactical success. That is to say, the operative strategy uses the tactics as one of its immediate instruments. Integrating them to reach the goals that are entrusted to it and being orientated to them, taking part then of its strategic nature.

This way, the operational strategy defines its own goals in the military theatre or campaign, which are the incapacitation and the disorganization of the enemy, through the action over his operational and strategic vulnerabilities. The first is orientated against the enemy combat capacity, seeking to incapacitate positionally or functionally it, and simultaneously protecting the own combat capacity. The second is achieved by the occupation or the destruction of the enemy critical vulnerabilities in the operations zone.

These vulnerabilities are those elements, possessions or reasons that give sense to the fight that the enemy makes against us. That is to say, whose loss inevitably infuses a hopelessness sensation and a uselessness sense in continuing the fight in these circumstances, which only is now oriented to accumulate more losses.

In the World War II, the occupation of the enemy capital and the fall of his government were critical strategic vulnerabilities. To which get through an operative strategy of mobile offensive war: as example, the spring campaign of 1940 in the western front. The same thing Hitler looked for in 1941 in the Soviet front in relation with Moscow. Surely in this total war, almost of extermination, in the East front, its occupation had not had the importance that was assuming him. But Moscow was constituting a great railway «hub», a vital center of railway communications for the whole USSR at the west of the Urals mountains. And, in this respect, it had been a critical permanent vulnerability of the military operational level.

To achieve these intermediate strategic aims, the operational level has several specific operational means that are the intelligence, the imbalance and the incapacitation of the enemy, the tempo or operations and combats relative speed, the logistic organization and its physical support, the full supplies line and the correct sense of the commands.

It uses these means to lead and to optimally use (without squandering) the tactical – operational means at its disposition.

These are:

the area transitability (in the whole geographical dimension of the nature of the lands, climate, station and day hour),

the combat capacity (all kind of military means like men, equipment, supports and combat or carrier vehicles) and the operational movement capacity (big and small tonnage transports, the supplies and replacements of all kinds and combustible and the deposits and accessible parks in the zone) available,

the freedom of action and the «favorable interfaces of action» with the enemy (that exist and that can also be created always, by means of the extension or the decrease of the «field of action» over him, like a tactical operative zoom, or by means of its change to another sector of the front or in the depth of the enemy zone). With these last 2 «systems» we can act always according to our criterion and interest and not simply reacting to the enemy actions.

Hereby, the mentioned 10 «operational systems» realize the employment and the functioning of all the levels of the National Defense. And they go from the conception and the great creation of goals and interests. Received from the high command and ultimately from the nation, including the allocated resources, up to the practical final accomplishment of them. Involving also the necessary and the inevitable and imposed by the enemy tactical employment of the military means, as stages for the optimal attainment of those entrusted goals. These “operational systems” are full developed in my book “On the Nature of War”, specially dedicated to the international educational military market.