Guest Comment Iraq Prognosis Canny

Guest Comment: Iraq Prognosis

A canny Vietnam veteran wrote me the below but requested that it be posted without attribution. I thought it well worth sharing.

As I see it, these are some of the things we can expect in the next seven months in Iraq:

1. The last of the “surge” forces (American), will arrive by mid June;

2. About 1400 British soldiers, well trained and adept at urban conflict, will leave the South of Iraq. As one can see by reviewing icasualties.org’s latest listings, 13 (at least), British and/or Polish troops stationed in the South have been killed, almost all by hostile fire. Ths is a increase in British hostile fire losses, and comes when the prospect of Iraqi or American troops entering the fray in the south would pose a dilution of the surge forces. No Americans have really ever been stationed in the south of Iraq, among predominantly Shia populations. The methodology the UK forces have used has been learned in Northern Ireland, and is much more sophisticated than any approach Americans have used. As a result, units which may have been in Iraq previously, but are now peopled by a fair number of new grunts, will cut their teeth in the southern Iraq. Because of much more heavy handed approaches, lack of sophisticated skills in urban war, and an increase in various Shia militia more radical than Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, the Americans will cause one incident of cause celébre in the South;

3. More EFP’s (Explosive Formed Projectiles), manufactured and assembled by more radical Shia militia, will take a serious toll on Americans moving in behind British troops leaving;

4. The U.S. WILL have more difficulties as they step between rival Shia groups in the south, and elsewhere;

5. As was demonstrated by an entire school being wired as a complete booby trap, insurgents with good inside intelligence are anticipating American-Iraqi troops taking over abandoned schools, police stations, etc., as “outposts.” Even if Americans inspect these facilities early, with sophisticated devices, there is no guarantee that stay behind explosives experts among the insurgents won’t trigger these massive booby traps — killing American and Iraqi inspection teams;

6. At least one more outpost will be attacked by al-Qaeda, or others, as we recently saw, where 9 Americans were killed and two dozen or more wounded. Al-Qaeda will try a Khobar tower attack, where they used an 18-wheeler fully loaded with tons of explosives. This will depend on whether an outpost is sufficiently distanced from the local population enough to destroy the outpost, but not killed any more Iraqis than necessary;

7. improved rocket and mortar fire will continue to hit the Green Zone with greater accuracy. As a result, we will see a “time on target” attack against the Green Zone, where multiple katyusha rockets or heavy mortars will fire, simultaneously, on a mark, on the Green Zone, with any number of rockets or mortar rounds hitting simultaneously. There is evidence that the mortar and rocket fire is becoming more accurate. That implies insiders gauging the accuracy and feeding that data back to the gunners. Multiple rockets/mortars fired from multiple azimuths on the compass will make counter battery fire more difficult;

8. Every attempt will be made in the next seven months to cause at least two dozen or more American fatalities in one event, plus many more wounded;

9. As the Army and Marine Corps troops are told that they will stay the entire 15 month tour, and the follow on forces get notified of deployments for same, it will become evident that President Bush WILL NOT reduce American numbers in Iraq in 2007. His arrogance and stubborness will cost him support by year’s end among the GOP;

10. It will become increasingly clearer that Maliki, and his Shia dominated government, have no intent on handing back any substantive power to Sunnis or even Kurds;

11. As the Kurds become more disillusioned and embittered at not receiving substantive increases in their real power, they will make moves which will draw severe warnings from Turkey of intervention if Iraqi Kurds stir up Turkish Kurds;

12. If the Sunnis do not cooperate with the Kurds, they will be ejected from the Kurdish north, or at least threatened of that possibility. If so, more violence could erupt in those areas which thus far do not present a severe test for American occupiers;

13. More attempts will be made to capture Americans and hold them hostage. Additionally, in a symbol of resistance that will become a cause for rally, more Iraqis will booby trap their doors or front gates, so that the scene of Americans kicking in doors, or knocking them open with battering rams will be less prevalent as some Americans are blown up performing that task. A simple tactical response to the occupation such as that will lead to a slow down in American offensive operations as more Americans are killed or wounded, and they become more hesitant to perform such duties. This will become the counter part to Americans crawling down into tunnels in Vietnam — a very nasty and undesirable task which had to be performed, but which was psychologically very anxiety producing;

14. At least one event will occur where Sunnis with ground-to-air missiles will take out more than two choppers in one fire fight;

15. If any additional Iranian officials are captured by Americans (like the four captured whom the Iranian Government say are Iranian diplomats), another ambush will occur where Americans are killed or captured;

16. The effects of the recent DOD study on the increasing number of mental health risks American soldiers and marines face in Iraq will be one more very serious reason for at least a few more congressmen or women to call for a real change in the level of forces maintained in Iraq;

17. Some Republicans will demand that if the “surge” is deemed to “be working,” that that be used as a positive reason to lower American force presence in Iraq. Bush won’t do it;

18. At least one high level intelligence failure will occur do to infiltration or manipulation by an Iraqi “agent in place” which will cause the loss of American lives;

19. Some Democrats, and certainly, many night time comedians will begin calling George Bush, Our Decider in Chief; or, “Our Commander Guy,” or, His Majesty, King George II, or His Highness, when referring to our fearless leader;

20. If the “surge” does not show appreciable improvement on the ground in Iraq, Bush will ABSOLUTELY refuse to bring any troops home by Christmas. Very, very sadly, American soldiers or marines will show an increase in suicides, in Iraq, and among troops alerted for a second, third or fourth deployment. There will be at least one family killing by an American soldier or marine slated to return for a multiple tour in Iraq.