I don’t have any intention on becoming a news clearing-house for the battle. First of all, there just isn’t a lot of good, detailed info coming out yet. Second of all, others are doing a far better job than I ever could.
See (in no particular order):
As for the Murdoc take on things, I think we’re still waiting to see exactly what our strategy really is. This map from the NYT (via ACE) gives the impression of a even-handed, steam-roller advance into the city from the north like this:
Now this is all nice and neat, and it may actually indicate the starting points for the units in question. But I don’t think it even begins to tell the story of what’s going on and what will be going on over the next several days to a week.
Here’s MO’s stab at what we’re trying to do:
The main assault (red) still comes from the north, but it’s intent is to compress the enemy forces. Don’t forget the Euphrates River bridges the Marines took. Once enemy fighters go to ground in the face of our assault, the Marines will be able to send significant forces (yellow) into the city from the west, adding to the pressure from the northwest and northeast on the Sunnis to regroup somewhere in middle where Jolan meets Askari (green).
One thing that’s totally unclear is the status of the southern sections of the city. I’ve got siege forces (blue) down there, but I don’t have the slightest clue how far, if at all, they will advance into the city during the initial battle. If they can press northward toward Route 10, they will certainly help cut off any fleeing fighters.
And that’s the crux of the entire matter. If things go TOO easily for us, it probably indicates that the bulk of the enemy fighters have long since left Dodge. That’s not what we want, as our intent is not really to capture the city but to destroy large numbers of insurgent fighters.
If they are still in the city, and if we manage to drive them back into a smaller area, we will be able to pick them off, bomb them out, or simply lay siege to them as circumstances dictate. If any mosques are going to be stormed, I expect that it will be Iraqi soldiers who lead the way.
Although Allied forces will suffer casualties, I imagine that the numbers will be fairly low (considering that this is urban warfare) unless a booby-trapped building works as hoped for the bad guys.
And by the time I post this it will be badly out of date…
Maybe the Marines in the west will merely hold the bridges against fleeing insurgents. Maybe the forces in the north will pin the Sunnis down, allowing forces in the south to sweep up on them from behind. Maybe once the insurgents are dug in the knock-out blow will come from the west in the form of a Thunder Run down Highway 10.
UPDATE: First of all, I forgot to include Debbye in my list of sites to watch. Serious oversight on my part. Fixed. And it has nothing (NOTHING, I TELL YOU!) to do with the fact that she wrote
Murdoc is always right.
She’s very smart, so I wouldn’t even dream of trying to argue with her on this one.
U.S. and Iraqi forces have faced less resistance than expected and suffered minimal casualties, a commander said Tuesday, as the troops continue their second day of assaults on militant-controlled Falluja.
Soldiers pushing through the outskirts of Falluja dodged sniper fire and destroyed booby traps, but not as many as anticipated.
There has been less organized resistance than expected so far, said Lt. Col. Pete Newell with Task Force 22 of the 1st Infantry Division. . .
Although low casualties and lighter-than-expected resistance is welcome, it also might indicate that more bad guys escaped the city than we hoped. It’s still way too early to tell, of course. And I wouldn’t welcome news of major fighting and heavy US casualties, either. But we want to get these guys and if we don’t here, we’ll have to deal with them at some point. Maybe in Ramadi (which is probably next on the list anyway). Maybe elsewhere.
UPDATE 2: Michael Gilbert reports that Stryker troops may be taking part in the battle. These would be units from the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division which replaced the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. They’re based in the Mosul area, so this would be quite a move for them. (via Stryker Brigade News)
UPDATE: Belmont Club seems to think that the Euphrates is going to be used as a barrier to prevent insurgents from fleeing westward, not as a crossing point for Allied invaders. Also, a number of folks seem to think that there’s a lot more going on in the southern sections of the city than anyone has let on. This line of thinking would make my map look like this:
To me this seems to think that the insurgents will be driven from their long-prepared fall-back positions, most likely in the inner city, toward the outskirts. This doesn’t sound all that reasonable to me. Maybe the Marines won’t cross the river, but I don’t think the enemy is going to abandon his scattered “Alamos”. Instead he will fall back as we drive into the city, hoping for a glorious last stand against the infidel.
If he’s still in the city, that is.
Another possibility is that instead of the river, Highway 10 will be used as the barrier against the enemy’s escape. If we can occupy the territory south of the highway while the attention is on the north, it will be THEIR turn to creep into enemy-held urban areas. Maybe the big push from the north is akin to the grass-beaters driving the lion toward the waiting hunter.
I don’t think it will be that easy to dislodge the fighters from what’s reported to be their warren of tunnels, booby-trapped buildings, and hidden arms caches. I think, if they’re going to fight, they won’t give up their treasures easily.
With the possible exception of the Marines not crossing the Euphrates, I’m sticking with my first map for now. I’m thinking that reports from embedded reporters will really start to clarify things within the next 24 hours or so.