Possibilities and Faults of the Conflicting Rivals. Why can win the Iraqi authorities?
The whole virulence and force estimated in the Iraqi insurgency are ballasted by his divisions, his divergent or opposite interests, his scanty real combative capacity and his problems to join combative major effective units. The people is neutral in these moments and only a certain degree of constraint, at least suggested, inclines it punctually and temporarily in favor of one or other. The Iraqi army is lacking experience, spirit of body and combative interest; but it is native, not occupant, and does not depart from zero and with the skill and professionalism of his advisors and cadres, it can advance stages rapidly. The cost to pay for all is the time, prolonged in an internal painful and costly struggle.
The Iraqi insurgency and his political-military characteristics.
The Iraqi rebels constitute a strange and not miscible miscellany. Among other factions or groups, they are present: Al-Qaida groups of with nearly autonomous character, coordinated by Abu Ayyub al-Masri; this nickname wants to say, «father of Ayyub, alias The Egyptian», very slightly identifying, except in villages and places in the field. Loyal Baazists (the party had militias that were activated militarily very little before the assault on April, 2003) to Saddam Hussein and former members of his army and administration. Islamic volunteers of several countries. Members of the intelligence agencies of, at least, Syria and Iran. The Sunnis and Chiís social religious local and regional militias. The national resistance Sunni net, principally formed by previous members of the Iraqi administration and army, opposite to the ex-president, but dismissed with excessive wisdom and hurry by Paul Bremer, which are joined now by patriots and religious Iraqis and irritated young unemployed men, before the prolongation of the occupation and the good work of the Coalition forces. Not very much time ago, there were detected common criminals bands. Local groups of clans chiefs and masters of the war, making be worth his political and economic rights.
The Iraqi rebels do not have to win a war. Its principal strategic goal is to remain active with a sufficient wearing intensity. Its forces do not have to return to home. All those of the coalition, yes. Simply not retiring, not losing, they compel the Coalition forces to keep its onerous struggle for a vague, indefinite time or to withdraw and return to house.
Something similar happened in Cyprus. The National Organization of Cypriot Fight or Ethniki Organosis Kipriahou Agonos or E.O.K.A., commanded by general Georgios Grivas, alias «Dighemis», took to end a difficult guerrilla warfare, because the scanty of the field, the force of the enemy and the lack of good hiding places, for the independence of the island against the British domination. Finally, the Enosis or political union with Greece was not obtained, but the independence of the island. Grivas, in his «General Plan for the Revolutionary Action in Cyprus» was emphasizing, «it is not necessary to believe that we, by means of these form and procedures, will get a material and total defeat of the English forces in Cyprus. We rather look for his moral defeat, harassing and upsetting them in such a way that, ultimately, we obtain the goal of the struggle. That one was until the end our strategic goal. We owe the success to the fact of having stuck firmly to it».
The propaganda constitutes a strategic basic aim of all the Iraqi rebels, with which the agencies and the western communications means collaborate filled with enthusiasm. Any rebellious assault successfully and showy is immediately broadcast to the world. This always debilitates the will of permanency of the USA and his allies. His legions called by his families, want to return, to enjoy the varied and superfluous consumption goods and the exotic vacations. The Spartan mothers, something unthinkable nowadays, were saying to her children when they were going out in campaign, when the benign station came and they leave the winter barracks: «you shall return with the shield or on the shield». When they were fleeing, the big and heavy shield of the Greek hoplite, capable of resisting the tremendous blows of the Sarisas or long lances of 5 m., principal weapon of their phalanxes, was a hindrance and they were rejecting it.
The insurgents know that the fight will not finish simply with the returning home of the forces of the coalition. This makes that some Iraqi groups, more worried by the serious and always unforeseeable consequences of a social chaos that could be established then, could be attracted with political and civil arrangements to leaving the weapons. Also, a great majority of the Iraqis do not want the return to the power of the Baaz party and its exclusive repressive methods of government and permanency in power. On the other hand, it is necessary to explain and convince the Iraqi people that the best way, in order that the military foreign presence stops, is the disappearance of the armed general revolt. The constant improvements in trade, services, supply of energies are having positive effects and must be exhibited emphatically by the National administration. Reciprocally, its destruction or sabotage by the rebels must be capitalized always against them by the communications means and agents of the Iraqi state.
The existential and ideological dispersion of the armed rebels does that its military co-ordination is difficult and only temporal, partial and for convenience. This dispersion, in turn, makes very difficult the political fight of the Iraqi government and his foreign allies against an insurgency with multiple and yet opposite interests and political and social aims.
Its operative characteristics.
The armed rebels are elusive, defending themselves by the concealment and, in less measure, with a certain local mobility. Also they possess a higher availability or combative alert during the offensive actions that they tackle. Let’s remember that any military set, from the crew of a tank up to an army, spends most of his time not deployed or ready to fight. His time passes doing labors and operations that will allow him to fight in the chosen moment. So much if he is training, embarking, moving, being equipped, being supplied, being reorganized, waiting or resting, any unit is not in full combat availability.
An autonomous advanced Iraqi band, depending on a chief of sector, consists of ambush groups, execution and kidnapping groups and sabotage groups. His functions are evident. Every functional specialty has a coordinating chief, who depends on the former one. In the cities and related road ways, the components of each group are not numerous, as maximum a few teams. They try to support its communications across a communications point, functionally dependent on the headquarters, which acts as intermediary in them to avoid enemy detection. The “effective modern” electronic follow-up of the mobile phones is deceived with corridors and couriers. In this auxiliary group of the command (a primitive and without logistics S-4, which depends on a civil parallel organization of supply), a primary service of health joins, carry out by male nurses. The most serious cases go to hospitals or particular loyal doctors, if they exist in the zone.
The insurgents nets are secret or latent and operate aggressively only against the mobility of the army and the police, which they surprise, are a nuisance, cause damages, kill and mutilate. The assault from several directions creates bags of fire and enfilade zones on the enemy. This produces besides a synergetic and enervating effect in the attacked one. That is similar to the result of multi traumatism or to that of multiple nº 8 or 9 pellets in a minor hunt piece. They lack of enough punch to give decisive blows or to finish off an important enemy. They erode a military unit (not a small unit or isolated elements), but they do not annihilate it.
Against the prepared military positions established in depth they are not effective, though it exists afraid of the guerrillas and a lot of money is expended protecting them. Their bands lack important combat capacity and are also easily canalized towards approximation avenues with registered heavy fire and medium grazing fire. For the moment, they lack engineers’ training, which would allows them the punctual break of the static protector barriers. And of superior training, to use the crawling individual approximation, without time limitation, in their diverse missions out and inside the military and police camps and facilities.
The logistics is a great disadvantage, especially the supply of equipment and no handmade goods. They possess many small active rears or bases, many full surrounded by their enemies, which activities can be detected always. The supply of the bands is provided by the support organization.
To win the battle for the favor of the Iraqi people.
The rebels, by force or thanks to their popularity, are capable of being mixed and to be diluted in the civil population. And to hide safe in houses, stores, garages, buildings, caves, etc. Though a part of the population is with them, a degree of constraint exercised by armed rebels exists always. If the Iraqi army is capable of permanently protect a neighborhood or population from the assaults or the presence of hostile irregulars, it also can progressively demand the due national loyalty to its inhabitants. What is inadmissible is that the civil local populations are intermittently subject to the armed pressure of one and another rival. So demanding from them a loyalty that does not offer safety to them. The clearly hostile recalcitrant elements in the different places, can be temporarily re-located in zones assured by the government, to neutralize them. The collective punishments of the populations are never suitable. Probably these are only justified, at least largely, by the immediate safety of the military forces. In any case, it is necessary to explain well the reasons for its application.
The rebels are tactics and operatively semiautonomous. The communications between the bands are moderated and even scanty, both the explicit ones and, especially, the tacit ones. They win the combats fitting their advantages with the weaknesses of the enemy army. The techniques of feigning retreats and establishing ambushes are useful to they against non skilled forces and still not too much motivated. They can choose the place and the moment of their attacks and carry out the necessary training to dominate the skills to be used in those.
Command, control and communications of the bands.
Its high dispersion exercises a considerable tension in its command structure (principally in the middle and high commands), because of its extensive and flat flowchart.
At the same time, this spatial extension allows them to cut temporarily the lines of communications of the enemy, with a psychological important negative effect. The systems of command, communications and control are slightly primitive at the moment, which impedes the regional concentration of bands or groups for more important actions. Its effective real command is divided by the dispersion of the chiefs and groups and the disparity or the antagonism of interests.
The Iraqi Army and its allies.
The abuses against the civil population are always counter-productive in a counterinsurgency struggle and more in an internal revolt. Sometimes, the hurries to form new troops lead to a deficient or incomplete training of these. They are not vaccinated against the stress, specially here the mental one, nor against the frustration of the not fulfilled plans or of the ungrateful enemy surprises. This leads to discharge almost inevitably the anger and the enervating impotence in the civil population, intermingled voluntary or by force with the rebels.
The wars against the armed irregular are by its Nature long, painful and difficult. The prolong character originates from the need that a popular force, departing almost from nothing, develops and spreads. And managing to moral or militarily defeat a regular own or of occupation army. The difficulty and the cruel evil arise from the high civil component that takes part in them. They are wars located in the home courtyard, in the own or occupied rear.
It is necessary, therefore, to avoid the prolongation of the conflict, which is mining the conviction of the own forces and allowing that the enemy should spread, strengthen and prevail.
The basic problem of the new Iraqi army is its lack of democratic convictions in the western style, in order to defend the new regime. It operates, as much, as a civil Police, which is not forced to die in its trade and which normally acts in its operations with overwhelming means superiority. If they do not feel and assume some values, it is not possible to accept the commitment with them. And acquire this way the necessary availability to work actively for them or to die in its defense. Already there have entered in active service several hundred thousands of Iraqi military and police men formed by the North Americans. But they are fundamentally destined to surveillance, custody and garrison labors. Their frame of mind and combative disposition are low and unequal, according to their origin. This is now a mass army.
The American military doctrine. Has it effective application here?
The massive employment of the heavy fire capacity continues being the principal «argument» of the US Army. Its doctrine (Field Manual 100-5, Operations, last edition of 1986) does not emphasize the initiative and rests in reacting to the enemy action from covered positions in the whole operations zone. One of the operative principles that gets force in this renewed doctrine is that of the simultaneity. This one establishes to beat at the same time, with heavy fire of artillery and aviation, the first and the second enemy assault echelons and even its reserve, using then aviation and tactical rocketry. The infantry and tanks forces are designed, in a secondary employment, to counter-attack this beaten enemy in all its depth, to assure the decision.
Here the detection and the selective attack to the enemy weak points don’t exist. Nor the general saving of means (that the contributors pay to the industrial corporations) and human lives. Nor the skilful, risky and fruitful maneuvers of functional or positional dislocation of the enemy forces. The Marshall Von Hindenburg invented the adage: «A battle without Schwerpunkt (principal effort) is like a man without character». Acting the North American army evokes a heavy, forceful mace, hammering and excessive. The Afrika Korps, on the contrary, remembers us an elegant, agile, unforeseeable, sufficient and effective foil.
The pompously so called fourth generation wars are the counterinsurgency wars or guerrilla warfare or irregular wars or armed revolts or liberation wars or organized banditry, which always have existed, coexisting with the conventional variants of warfare. They are those that the USA has lost or not gained lately: Vietnam, The Lebanon (peace disembarkation of “marines”, then demolished in their barrack) and Somalia (the uncontrollable and unforeseeable wasp’s nest of «all against all» by the local lords of the war and the Islamic militias). They are uneven wars (they call them now «asymmetrical warfare») against an enemy of lower technological military level relative to the regular enemy forces, always rooted in the own or occupied civil population and slight militarily intense but very extensive in the space and the time.
With embarrassing frequency, when the human or technological North American «sensors» detect some probable rebellious Iraqi or from the foreign “muyaidin” activity, first they devastate the building, the «block», the zone. Then they go to sweep up and to do the corpses inventory, the «body count», because they are very scrupulous with their statistics. Sometimes among the rubbles they can meet the corpses of an Arabic innocent and numerous family. They abuses of the attrition, which is indiscriminate and perverse when the enemy fuses with the civil ones. They neglect the active, unexpected patrolling, which needs proportionally less material and human means, but more trade, moral courage, freedom of action and creativity in the low and intermediate commands and NCO and in the men.
Effective counter insurgents operations in Iraq.
A complex operation of search, location and combat and destruction of the bands will demand successively to the military forces: to locate them, to converge on the zone, to attack and to defeat them, to be reorganized and reequip and to be dispersed. These seemingly unconnected operations of numerous small units, coordinated by the intention and aims of the high command and by the responsibility in the execution way of the direct commands, they enjoy great initiative, rapidity and maximum flexibility. This allows to the national army to take the freedom of action and to keep the initiative and a high relative mobility with the enemy, during all the offensive decided operations. Technique, tactical and operatively, the Iraqi military men must be, by trade and capacities, more professionals, more actives, better equipped, more lethal, more effective, that the irregular forces to which they search and fight.
During long time yet the air and spatial North American means, as spy satellites, not crewed planes and planes of the system Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), will have serious limitations for the detection and monitoring of small ground forces, even regular ones, in the difficult crossing areas and with possibilities of concealment, as mountains, jungles and forests, marshes and urbanized zones (industrial, of storage and distribution and of housings). These not only offer concealment, but also covered from the heavy and light fire up to the close distances of combat.
An observation and of combat patrols’ net constitutes the fighting system adapted and advised for this type of irregular warfare. Carry out against an enemy trained (it has been given sufficient time for do it), with aroused fanaticism, re-grown by the successful or believed successes and improved by a natural selection (the most clumsy and worse are falling down first, and let’s not say the suicides of only one use, who immediately leave the fighting), but that still has not matured structurally nor operatively. They constitute the natural sensors to detect the operative rebellious activity previous or between offensive actions, so as that the civil Iraqi population accepts and supports moderately well its own army.
In January, 2004, the North American intelligence intercepted a memorandum of 17 pages written by Abu Musad al-Zarqawi (the former Al-Qaida local delegate chief, which has passed away to the Houris Garden) and directed to Osama bin Laden, in which he was expressing to him his worry for his survival: «In Iraq there are no mountains where we could shelter, nor forests in whose thickness we could hide. There are spies on eyes everywhere. Our backs are exposed and our movements, in view of all».
Locating, deceiving and penetrating them.
A necessary complement of the regular net are the false rebels bands. These would be destined to operate in zones inclined to the insurgency, from where some of their members come from. Their activity and concealment would be favored by the decentralized character of the rebels groups. Their missions would be to obtain information, to prove the loyalty of the civil ones and to annihilate small enemy groups or lone suicidal terrorists. They should not be bigger than a reinforced squad or section, except in combat special occasions.
The false rebels bands were used by enough success in the fighting against the kikuyos of the Mau-Mau in Kenya, against the Soviet guerrillas by the Germans during the World War II and against the Hukbalahap communists of Luis Taruk, the Supreme, in The Philippines by the Philippine army. In Spain the so called «counterparts» were used between 1946 and 1949. Their operative scope was minor. It was a question of «neutralizing» the rural population of the zones where the forces of the hostile «groups” were operating, by means of visits of the simulated guerrillas to the villagers. There came a moment that in the villages all were distrusting of the not habitual bands, that were coming in search of food and other helps, since it was not known if it was a counterpart.
The patrols’ and small military positions net has three operative purpose: to deny the initiative and the mobility to the guerrillas; to cut their communications with their bases, with their collaborators’ net and between the groups; and to frighten away them, like to the hunt, from their protective civil bases and their isolated redoubts.
The official net operatively covers a wide extension and so is capable of receiving the sensitive information. The knowledge of the rebels of its neighborhood and of its zone can be one of its major assets. Their refuges and depots would end located. The present impunity conviction of the rebels would disappear. With the advantage of being a native army, its initial weapons must be the discretion, the silence, using more the knives and hand grenades than its assault guns, the relative mobility with the enemy, with the night as collaborator and shelter in its operations.
The necessary ideal supply system.
The difficulties of supply in a great extension area, «empty» of enemies and without «hard» targets, can be overcome with: an anticipating logistics (a good calculation of the foreseen necessary supplies, with the commitment of the commands users); endowed with smaller and nearby pre located depots; using heavy fire pre located bases for support covering the operations zone; using all the possible common parts in equipment, food (caring of religions influence), etc.; and using small mobile armored units (minimum the reinforced interarm platoon provided with light vehicles, which could rapidly reinforce the normal military patrols). The utilization of gun and transport helicopters centralized directed, allows to rapidly create, once clarified the situation, a gravity center of the counterinsurgency effort and to supply rapidly and provisionally the most committed small units.
Lightness, mobility and relative speed in operations.
The necessary mobility of the regular forces in the fighting against the hostile irregulars of all kind prefers light combat vehicles. The Abrams tanks and the VCI Bradley need re supply every 8 hours in constant actions and are not silent, but very evident in their operations. They are designed to act massively by the fire, maneuver and shock in a gravity center of the effort against enemy regular modern forces. Also they can serve to crush a civil enemy population, as the Israelis did in Gaza, during the operation of rescue of their captured soldier.
But here we are trying to eliminate diverse guerrillas, intermingled with the Iraqi people. The armored light vehicles type Mowag 25 Piranha (14 Tm.) of Swiss design and with several manufacturing plants and the new American armored Humvee (4 Tm.) might mark the superior and low limits for the military armored vehicles to be employed in this counterinsurgency struggle.
To surround, to disperse the enemy rejection, to disturb its command and its plans and to destroy them.
Also they (the net) can react to the rebel detected activity, establishing rapidly way controls, and sufficiently sealing a more or less extensive zone. While the hermetic ring is closed next with other nearby troops or with heliborne forces. This simultaneity of initial actions has a synergetic effect that protects the small isolated military units, with exposed vulnerable flanks, in their initiative.
The surprise, besides, is a fundamental principle of this war. The relative rapidity neutralizes the alert notices that their civil Iraqi friends can pass to the bands. In Cyprus, the scanty British helicopters (it were the 50s in last century) were turning irrelevant the communication efforts of the collaborators’ net of the E.O.K.A. about the movements of the British troops.
The best effect on the detected boxed band is achieved here by the concentric and inconsiderate attack (maximum impulse or quantity of used movement) with limited aims, by some advance spears with enough combat capacity (minimum, the reinforced platoon with heavy infantry weapons) over the interior of the siege. Since the sweep of the siege area from one or two directions is more laborious and gives the enemy, specially individual or by teams, a slip away chance. The static military forces can then be contracting by successive jumps the internal or both perimeters, according to the cases, established of the siege.
To gain the struggle through the time.
The patience must be a characteristic of all the implied ones in this war. Also it is necessary for to be effective, to reach a minimum of trade and seniority. In the zones most favorable to the bands, it is very easy that the operations of search and siege are initially closed in emptiness. It is necessary to go gaining and selecting their zone population, as we have said before, in order that the military trade and the people loyalty combined should produce its military and social incomes. The successive victories of the Iraqi army will be gaining to it the favor of the people, because all they want to be emotionally with the winning side. And because the interests of the Iraqis are volatile, unlike and yet contradictory, based on the loyalty to the family, to the clan and to the tribe.
In this type of war the armed forces cannot defend from the enemy all its possible targets. Besides, never there would be enough remaining troops to keep the initiative and to carry out a multiple, flexible and mobile offensive action against the armed rebels. Here there are no fronts to establishing and cozy, protective and supplying operative rears. What exists are armed enemies groups, their logistic support and information groups and many groups of sympathizers with them. That are integrated all according to the different personal courage of their different members. And all of them widespread and established through a big territory without limits or classic rears.
To liberate sufficient forces, the Iraqi army has to defend only its strategic objectives and its operative communications. The defense of towns and minor objectives, specially out of the Sunni zone (in the center and south center of the country), must fall in local units of police and of loyal civil self defense. These supported by military mobile units of its sector. With help of the heavy fire and the airborne mobility of the North Americans, even with the support of some of its elite units (rangers, marines, armored), the Iraqis can be trying to carry out major actions of siege and annihilation of bands and groups of them. To increasing the confidence and the respect of the own population and its experience in the resolution of its challenge of pacification of the country.