What, No Moats?

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Here's the Iraq headline of the day:

Iraq to Dig Trenches Around Baghdad

The whole story isn't so gloomy, but it's awfully hard to square "trenches" with "war that's going really, really well."

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  1. Freedom Fjords? Progress Pits? Constitutional Canyons? Democracy Ditches? Victory Valleys?

  2. What about all the schools we are building in the trenches? Why do you always focus on the bad news?

  3. I can see the militias now:

    “Roll up the trebuchets & ballistas! Prepare the petards!” [The last is particularly appropriate for Iraq.]

  4. I have my doubts that moving the 172nd Styker Brigade from northern Iraq to Baghdad is going to improve our sitution, but I can state with confidence that it will get to Baghdad faster than a pre-Rumsfeld armored brigade would have been able to.

  5. My experience in uniform is limited to the Cub Scouts, but I’d think trenches mean you’re going to hedgehog in fixed positions and let the islamokamikazenazis run wild everywhere else. Which isn’t a new development exactly.

  6. Two words: Maginot Line.

  7. I find amazing that a bunch of otherwise smart (smartass?) people can’t read the whole article and understand what is going on.

    Baghdad has a lot of open land that allows insurgents to avoid major roads and transport weapons, etc in and out of it. Forcing the smugglers to move through checkpoints is a proven method of decreasing these activities.

    I am not going to say the war is going well, it’s going to be a long hard fight. I do feel that how we fight, and how long we have the will to fight, will make a difference throughout the world and our future path in it.

  8. I find amazing that a bunch of otherwise smart (smartass?) people can’t read the whole article and understand what is going on.

    Baghdad has a lot of open land that allows insurgents to avoid major roads and transport weapons, etc in and out of it. Forcing the smugglers to move through checkpoints is a proven method of decreasing these activities.

    I am not going to say the war is going well, it’s going to be a long hard fight. I do feel that how we fight, and how long we have the will to fight, will make a difference throughout the world and our future status in it.

  9. SFC SKI

    Point taken.

    However:
    1) A move into a defensive posture, such as building a ditch around Baghdad, is a definite sign that the countryside cannot be controlled. Mao would have been very happy.

    2) There are already substantial numbers of militants of all stripes within Baghdad.

    3) Reducing the resupply of the militants in Baghdad is not going to stop a general civil war, which is looking more likely each day.

  10. Did they have trenches that could be filled with oil to stop our advance?

    I agree that the trenches are useless, they can be bridged relatively easy unless that are real big.

    I can see the headline now. Million dollar trench defeated by 10 dollar ladder.

    Maybe the trenches are more about keeping people in Baghdad for phase III. When they are running away from you, and they make it to the trench, you just shoot them and they fall right in.

  11. I like “Victory Valleys” best of your options, Tony.

  12. Hopefully they’ll fill the trenches with the bodies of islamo-facists.

  13. I’m for “Victory Valleys”, on the condition that after we withdraw they get to rename them “Ha-has of Allah”.

  14. Well, I don’t think the trenches are a sign of withdrawing inside them; the trenches are a way to disrupt the flow of insurgent personnel and material. Not only that, in Iraq the problem is is controlling the urban areas, it’s where the people are, and where almost all of the sectarian killing is going on. Another thing that the article does not fully explain is what will go on inside Baghdad; Army outposts and Iraqi police stations will be pushed into areas that were rarely patrolled. At the same time, the troops or police inside those areas can start influencing activities in those neighborhoods, and provide security so viable reconstruction can be made without the pressures moving in from outside Baghdad. The trench ,which I’ll bet is actually a berm, a built up earthwork rather than a removal of dirt, mox nix in any case, the idea is the same, isolate Baghdad in an effort to exert control.

    Also, the control of insurgent personnel outside of Baghdad will change the dynamics at work in the countryside. The earthworks can also isolate to some extent, the peaceful parts of Iraq (they do exist) from the fighting inside Baghdad.

    Like I said, it’s a long tough fight, but progress is being made in small but noticeable and lasting steps in many areas. Too bad we do such a poor job of publicizing it, and the cynicism of many only further darkens the perceptions of the war by most.

    All the progress in the world won’t matter if we decide to cut and run, and whether you believe it or not, the public lack of resolve on our part does influence whether Iraqis will back the new government, or throw in with a militia that will best suit their need to survive. Most of you can try to understand life here from what you read, past lessons of history, or what you think you know, but if you are not here you cannot have a true feeling of what the Iraqis face on a daily basis, and how brave some of them are to try and work towards a better future in the face of so much adversity.

  15. This plan to divide Baghdad into walled districts with only one point of entry each and surround the whole city with a wall affords me the opportunity to recomend a fun French movie called Banlieue 13. It’s a near future in which the unruly outskirts of Paris have been walled off and abandoned. Abandon is the operative word here. Maybe this fiction has nothing to suggest to our Iraqi experiment but in the movie all attempts to pacify the surrounded areas are given up and the wall is only meant to contain the violence. And you get lots of amazing Parkour action.

  16. Can we use Korea as a comparison?

    In June 1950 North Korea invaded, and except for a bare foothold, had within six weeks overrun the entire country. Take out the fifty plus years of intervening political jibberish, lives lost and firefights across the 38th parallel, we still have troops in South Korea.

    Suppose we had not gone into Korea. Not only would we NOT have an ally in the western Pacific now, but we would not have South Korean troops in Iraq either.

    It is true that after 50 odd years we still have troops in Korea. But there was never an end to that war, only a truce.

    So is there a comparison to Korea and Oraq?

    It looks to me like pure police frustration in controlling, or the lack of ability to control, the infiltrators makes someone think it requires a ditch. More US troops can only be a band-aid.

    They need more Iraqi police. They need more citizen whistleblowers, who are willing to risk their entire family’s survival just to be a whistleblower. Sitting back here half a world away, that is easy enough to say. What they have is 130 more dead bodies in the streets being talked about on today’s news breaks.

    So far, through it all, the Maliki government “seems” to be trying to get a handle on Baghdad, and the rest of Iraq at the same time. As long as that effort continues, there is hope.

    Iran has told Iraq that their terrorist insurgency problems will be solved if Iraq will just kick the US out. Does that mean Iran is ready to recognize anything like an American “Bill of Rights” for Iraqi citizens? Or does that mean they just want Iraq as an easier target, say something like the Hezbollah got in the recent cease fire between Israel and Lebanon?

    Given Iran’s fancy dancing over it’s nuke program, and now it’s burlesque pronouncement about Iraq’s insurgency problems, who can predict with authority that we won’t have a presence in the Middle East far, , , that is, far , , ,into the future? It may or may not be in Iraq, but if self defense of the US has any meaning at all, it will be somewhere close.

    And Bush will only be a footnote.

  17. joe writes: “it will get to Baghdad faster than a pre-Rumsfeld armored brigade would have been able to.”

    Perhaps, but it’s been three and a half years. That’s plenty of time to move an armored brigade.

    Anyway, speed of movement isn’t our problem – our problem in Iraq has been *too much* movement.

  18. Elmo writes, “They need more Iraqi police. They need more citizen whistleblowers, who are willing to risk their entire family’s survival just to be a whistleblower. Sitting back here half a world away, that is easy enough to say. What they have is 130 more dead bodies in the streets being talked about on today’s news breaks.”

    I agree. And the conditions – political and social – that will allow your vision to be realized will never come to pass so long as the United States military is occupying the country against the wishes of its populace. Our presences enlarges the insurgency, and makes comrades of nationalists and foreign jihadists who would otherwise be at each other’s throats (as they were before we launched this invasion).

    Our troops need to be used to dictate the situation, not respond to it. Announcing a policy of pulling back from the occupation, negotiating its details, and carrying it out are tools we need to use in order to bring about the political conditions that will end the insurgency and allow the Iraqis themselves to defeat the Al Qaedists.

    Ditto for Afghanistan.

    Kurdistan is a different story. Our presence helps sustain and defend the existence of their…let’s call it a potentially liberal republic.

  19. Have the occupation authorities considered putting sharks with laser beams on their heads in the Tigris and Euphrates?

  20. We might need to dig more Peace Pits- news is, as part of thier agreement w/ Al Queda AND the Taliban, our “partners in the war on terror”- the nukeler military dictatorship of Pakistan- has just let 2500 or more Taliban & Al Q pow’s out of Paki prisons.
    Ahhh, yes. Lets climb in bed with dictators. That ALWAYS works…….

  21. Did the Crusaders dig moats?

    One of the ironies here is that Bush the Father was unwilling to do a siege of Baghdad.
    How the hell, in just a few short years, did the military in which I served (many years ago) transmogrify from potential siegers to siegees?

    I’ve read enough history to know siegees usually lose. May they have a firm grip on their ankles.

    Has anyone in our military today got the balls to stand up for a winning strategy and to call bullshit on a losing strategery?

  22. All the fortifications, chokepoints and ditches in the world are worthless without adequate trained, reliable manpower to secure them. The Iraqi security forces are thoroughly infiltrated with Shia militamen, and many of those who aren’t Shia are planted insurgents, insurgent sympathizers or willing to look the other way for a buck.

    Baghdad has a circumfrence of 80 km, with literally hundreds of egress points – how on Earth are the Iraqis going to maintain security, especially if many of their Army and security personnel are actively or passively aiding and abetting the bad guys? US Army forces are totally inadquate in number for this task, and one or two additional brigades aren’t going to make a whole lot of difference. Trenches can be tunneled under or flown over, and there simply aren’t enough reliable men to keep it from happening. There’s no disguising the fact that this is a sign of desperation, and I take no pleasure whatsoever in noting that.

  23. This plan to divide Baghdad into walled districts with only one point of entry each and surround the whole city with a wall affords me the opportunity to recomend a fun French movie called Banlieue 13.

    HAHA! Funny you should mention that; I saw that DVD in the Corregidor (Ar Ramadi) “Quick-E-Mart,” and picked it up to practice my French and because it looked interesting. Certainly entertaining, and fun action.

    I don’t know about the berms, SFC Ski; they were pretty specific about digging in the article. Although with all of the canals around here, building a berm would quite possibly make it easier to drop in a culvert and cross over.

  24. “”Has anyone in our military today got the balls to stand up for a winning strategy and to call bullshit on a losing strategery?”””

    Ruthless, you know the deal. You follow orders. The Commander in Chief says what to do and every one is expected to do it. Failure to play ball can cost you your career. But they do criticize him after they retire when it’s ok for them to speak.

    I would bet that all of the curent upper brass have a very differnt personal opinion than their professional one.

    I’m curious what the criticize/support Bush ratio is for all retired military in the last 5 years.

  25. Corregidor? brother, I am right across town!

    Well, the ditch is probably standard bulldozer width, it would take some work to get across. you know how these guys are.

  26. “I would bet that all of the curent upper brass have a very different personal opinion than their professional one.”

    TrickyVic,
    You got me thinking there ought to be some sort of system of tenure for upper brass, eh?
    So they can call a spade a spade.

    When a high level executive has a disagreement with upper management, he or she resigns and probably goes to almost, if not a more, lucrative career path.
    Top military brass should at least have tenure?
    This violates my anarchist credo. (No standing army. No standing anything.) I’m just throwing it out for discussion.

  27. The decline of the US military- from officers who’s first concern was thier troops- to the careerist politicians & influence peddlers who now make up the highest rank, started after War Two.
    To read savage appraisals of “managers” (as opposed to warriors) you cant get any better than Col. David Hackworth, (RIP) one of my few heroes
    while Hack is gone, his outfit, Soldiers for trhe Truth” advances quickmarch…..
    http://www.hackworth.com/
    you can acess a lot of his writing here……
    While graveyards are filled with indespensible men, the common grunt lost a real advocate. his contempt for the neocons & thier idiot supporters was truly admirable. And well articulated.

  28. “”When a high level executive has a disagreement with upper management, he or she resigns and probably goes to almost, if not a more, lucrative career path.
    Top military brass should at least have tenure?
    This violates my anarchist credo. (No standing army. No standing anything.) I’m just throwing it out for discussion.”””

    I don’t think that would work very well. The hierarchy system in the military serves it’s purpose most of the time. In war it is important for the military to be on the same page. The big problem is when the Commander in Chief and his staff enjoy partisanship and fail to attend the realities on the ground.

    On a similar topic. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/16/AR2006091600193.html?nav=rss_world/mideast/iraq

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