As they stand up, we stand down Watch Part MCM

I actually read through Central Command’s press releases as this is an interesting source to see an angle of what is going on. A couple of days ago, an insurgent group ambushed an Iraqi police column and inflicted twenty five dead and twenty or so wounded Iraqi police. Here is the Centcom press release on the incident:

The police under fire fought back in intense house to house fighting.

An element from 1-68 Combined Arms Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Lightning, was diverted from another mission and rapidly responded to reinforce the IPs in contact.

The reaction force consisted of ground and air elements; they engaged the AIF immediately upon arrival.

Iraqi and Coalition forces engaged AIF with direct fire, killing 18 AIF, wounding eight and capturing 27 more. Additionally, enemy weapons and ammunition were captured.

One Iraqi civilian and 24 IPs were killed in action. Seven IPs were wounded and transported to FOB Warhorse for medical treatment.

Let us assume that the Centcom version of the story is 100% true. It is still not a good story if we look at the underlying data.

First, Centcom is claiming there were at least 51 insurgents involved in the attack. This confirms that the insurgency is very comfortable operating in at least large platoon sized groups, but more likely company sized groups of 100-200 men at a time in the open as it is very rare for an entire unit to be eliminated.

Secondly, the Iraqi police are still dogmeat when faced with a determined attack. They have been dogmeat for last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. A counterinsurgent force needs to be able to inflict 5:1 or better casualties to be making significant military progress against an insurgency, and in this situation, the counterinsurgent force was able to inflict a little less than a 2:1 loss rate on the insurgent attack force.

Finally, this quasi-favorable ratio was only achieved with the intervention of heavily armed and armored American forces. The reaction force was from a heavy mechanized infantry brigade which means either tanks or infantry fighting vehicles backed up by attack choppers. Yet the insurgent force was able to break contact with heavy but acceptable casualties.

Remember, the Iraqi military that is supposed to stand up and replace American troops does not have any air support more powerful than a guy pissing out the back of a Cessna, remember, the Iraqi Army has a double handful of thirty year old tanks that are notably vulnerable to light anti-tank weapons that are more common than snow in Buffalo.

So three year into the process of standing up Iraqi police and military units and a continued campaign designed to pressure and fragment insurgent operational ability and we still have company sized insurgent attacks that would have shattered an equivilant sized Iraqi government security unit except for the intervention of very heavy US units.

The strategy still ain’t working.

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