Apparently enough is enough

More than 100 insurgents killed near Syria border, military says

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.


  1. Dave: I’ve got to agree with you. To be honest, I expect that Special Forces types have already either pursued into Syria or at least crossed to reconnoiter. In fact, I’ll be disappointed if they haven’t. But I think that we’ll see US troops into or at least firing into Syria this year. Probably won’t be pretty, but it’s bound to happen and will be the next step if we really manage to get the insurgents in Iraq under control.

  2. Beyond serving our immediate tactical interests in the border region, the idea of ‘hot pursuit’ into Syria is good from a strategic perspective too. I have to think the Syrians are at least a little nervous about our large scale presence, and advanced capabilities right next door to them. A couple of cross border ops would be just the thing to remind them of the current ‘preemption’ policy, and that if they were addressing the problem effectively; we wouldn’t have to. Sorry about that Bashar! Didn’t really mean to blow that #$%@ up. You weren’t using it much anyway, were you? Take the hint?

  3. Flanker: You mean something like ‘That was a military base? We thought it was a garbage dump where terrorists were hiding. If we would have known it was a military base we would have used bigger bombs.’? Or even better, a press conference along these lines: ‘American planes bombed a garbage dump over the Syrian border used as a base by terrorists.’ Syria responds: ‘The Americans bombed a Syrian military base!’ Rummy then says: ‘We’ve got pictures proving it’s a garbage dump. Hmm. At least it LOOKS like a garbage dump. Look at all those old wrecked tanks.’