In what is probably going to be the standard procedure for the next couple of years, stepped-up insurgent activity in Iraq is being met head-on and probably being defeated.
Large-scale operations against fighters, many of them probably entering the country from Syria, are showing results. It’s not clear how many Iraqi forces are involved in the operations.
After taking quite a pounding, losing many men and weapons, the insurgents will melt away into the hills and villages, lick their wounds, recruit new fighters, and wait for an opportunity to launch another offensive.
This is going to be the norm for quite some time. As Iraqi security and military forces improve (a slow process, to be sure) and the Iraqi and American intelligence services mature we should see the effectiveness of the insurgent attacks decrease and the speed and lethality of our responses increase.
I’ve always felt that security along the Syrian border needed to be much stronger than it appeared to be. The apparent weakness of that security lent credibility to the so-called “fly paper” theory, but if we had really planned from day one to lure jihadists to their deaths in Iraq we would equipped our forces differently. (As in: We would have given everyone armor.)
So while I think the “fly paper” theory is, in fact, a reality, I believe it to be a tactical side effect and not our strategy.
There’s a chance that this new operation has been timed to take advantage of the fact that Iraq’s neighbors have pledged to increase security along their borders. Syria, of course, has lots of extra troops all of a sudden since they pulled out of Lebanon.
Murdoc estimates that the chances of actually seeing improved security from Syria are somewhere in the neighborhood of “yeah…right!”, so this is probably just a case of the Americans and Iraqis getting tired of being blown up all the time.