Wrong playbook

Open Season on Iraqi Insurgents

Darren Kaplan notes a letter in Strategy Page from a soldier in Iraq. He notes the money graph:

This is a country where most of the Saddam Hussein thugs are being chased around like scared rabbits by Coalition forces. It is literally open season on them! We hunt them down like animals. There were about a million soldiers in the Iraqi army at the beginning of hostilities and most of them took off before we attacked. There are some that were very loyal to Saddam that are trying to sneak around and take pot shots at us. We are cleaning them up pretty fast.

Kaplan writes

I’ve written before that the Iraqi insurgents are still playing by the old Somali militia playbook and paying for it with their lives. The reports out of Iraq seem to confirm this.

He’s on the money there, folks. It’s true that our guys were surprised and suffered terrible losses in Mogadishu in 1993. But everyone (including most of the Western media) seems to think that those events portray standard operating procedure. They don’t.

Those guys in Mogadishu were unprepared for an engagement that day. Most didn’t bring their body armor, their night vision goggles, a standard load of ammunition, or any water. When the first helicopter was shot down and they moved toward its position, there was no back-up support available, for them or for the helicopter. The leaders back at HQ were handcuffed, both by their own ineffectiveness and by a political straightjacket that severly limited their options.

Those Rangers and Delta Force soldiers were in the middle of Indian country, totally surrounded by a mob of drugged-out irregulars who shielded themselved behind women and children, and almost completely without hope of rescue.

Just like Custer, except that they kicked ass.

The losses, in dead and wounded, were of course tragic. But the damage they inflicted upon their attackers was almost beyond comprehension. And everyone almost always forgets that we got the guy we were after that afternoon.

If our enemies want to call plays against that team, they’re welcome to do so. But the games in Iraq are played on a field where we have tanks and other armored vehicles supporting our fully-equipped men, with American leaders who have reserves, artillery, and apocalyptic air support at their beck and call.

Will Iraqi insurgents score hits against our troops? Sure. But the record in Iraq proves that our guys have learned some lessons. Mogadishu was an exception to the rule. It was brought about by many factors, most of which were within our control but ignored. Those factors aren’t being ignored in Iraq. Ask the bad guys.


  1. This is what gets me about the people who faint at the thought that we’re fighting a guerrilla war. These are the most incompetent guerrillas in history. A typical ambush results in dead, wounded and captured ambushers, with few to no losses for the ‘victims.’ They’re like a basketball team whose fast breaks somehow result in three-pointers for the other team. Tactics without execution is suicide.