Friday, November 05, 2004

The election is over and it's time in Iraq

The gutting of the insurgency is about to take place in Iraq's Sunni triangle. As reported by Fox's News and others, an American force of more than 10,000 is positioned and making final preparations for the thumbs up from Alawi.

Iraqi military forces are also present in numbers. Though the extent to which they will participate is not clear, something much more than policing action in the rear should be expected for at least two reasons - the suffering inflicted on the Iraqi people by terrorists and Ba'athist remnants operating from this area and to send a message to both the insurgency and the Sunni's that it is not just the Americans that are the force for law and order in the country now. A forceful and successful showing by the Iraqi's military will do that; sweeping-up action after the Americans come through will not.

Anecdotal evidence indicates this will be thorough, complete and brutal, albeit, by US standards. Much time has been spent preparing, not only the plan but the battleground. Much effort has been made to evacuate the civilian population and it appears this has been done 'under the radar' to some extent. And it has been effective. As long as three weeks ago, reports have indicated as much as 75% of population have left the city and as reported here, evacuation is at the final stages:
U.S. air and artillery strikes shook rebel-held Falluja late on Friday after troops, using leaflets and loudspeakers, urged Iraqi civilians to leave ... Most of the Sunni Muslim city's 300,000 people have already fled after weeks of intensive air and ground bombardments.
Over the weekend it was reported that all but one road leading from Fallujah were closed. Today, that one was closed. It is clear that everything will be done to prevent anyone in the insurgency/terrorist/Ba'athist triad from paying their final dues:
U.S. troops sealed all roads to Falluja and urged women, children and non-fighting age men to flee, but said they would arrest any man under 45 trying to enter or leave the city.
I suspect there are arrangements for peeking at all those who are burqa'd on the remote chance that Amina is actually Abu. But there are always holes and as this report indicates there is some leakage from the cordon.
Marines just outside Fallujah say some of the suspected terrorists and insurgents who have been holed up in the city have been able to escape past military checkpoints.
That is one checkpoint and I suspect the holes may only be apparent. There is also the likelihood that they did not get all the way through the gauntlet of forces arranged in the area. I would hazard a guess they haven't - while Fox News reports forces numbering 10,000, the report above notes forces number closer 35,000.

As for thorough and complete, it appears that intel has been on-going and in-depth with the intention of reducing the enemy's arsenal to what they have in their pockets in Fallujah while not taking their eye off Ramadi.

How will the operation be implemented? In the words of one commander, "The operation will be over when the terrorists are crushed and Fallujah is handed back to the legitimate Iraqi government." For the US military in this day and age, that sounds brutal to me.

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