Ramadi lessens odds of strike against Iran

This current rotation of forces into CENTCOM had pushed fifteen US combat brigades into Iraq, while keeping a brigade in Kuwait. That brigade has functioned as an oncall theatre reserve while also lowering the impact of its deployment and thus increasing future availability by staying in a non-combat zone rather than hanging out near Baghdad and getting dinged every couple of days for the past year. I had also speculated that this brigade was being kept in Kuwait as a contigency measure in case the southern supply lines from Kuwait to Baghdad were threatened by another Sadrist style uprising.

Well the Washington Post reports this morning (h/t to Swopa @ Needlenose that this brigade is moving out of Kuwait to reinforce the Marines at Ramadi. In the same article, the Marines control five blocks of the city, and are in almost constant contact with insurgent forces. Time Magazine recently reported that Marine officers believed that they needed at least three US brigades to secure the city, but only had a single brigade present at the time of the article. This reinforcement is still below their requirements but it should put the Marines off the defensive and allow them to expand their perimeter within the city.

However the most interesting thing that I see is not that the insurgency is still very strong in Anbar province, and that the US if fundamentally pinned to its firebases for that is old news, but the lowering of the probability of an attack on Iran. The reserve brigade most likely had a contigency role of clearing the southern supply lines in case there was an attack against Iran. It has become public knowledge that several Iraqi Shi’ite militias, most notably the Mahdi Army, have vocalized support for Iran. This vocalized support increases the probability that they could sit on US supply lines unless there was a credible counter-attack force.

With the US moving a brigade out of Kuwait that could credibly threaten a southern advance in conjunction with US units moving out of Greater Baghdad and going south, the US supply lines become a whole lot more vulnerable if there is an attack against Iran which inspires a general “take a potshot at a US convoy” mentality in the South.

Right now we are entering a window of opportunity for US strikes on Iran as the US is rotating two carriers into the general region while a third is still in the region. The third carrier should be departing 5th Fleet relatively soon if nothing is going to happen. I think that the odds of something happening have gone down.

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