There Is No Iraq War; There Is Only the Euphrates War

The Anbar Campaign,” by Bill Roggio, The Fourth Rail, 4 August 2005,

Is “the Iraq War” now really a name for operations in Anbar province, the Sunni Arab rejection portion for the country? Is our focus really just subduing a small violent minority?

The Anbar War?

That is one impression of a detailed post over at The Fourth Rail, arguing that recent Coalition offensives are all focused on the Euphrates River in Anbar province.

Map of Battles:


List of Battles:

Operation River Blitz
February, 20 2005 to Present
Ramadi, Hit, Baghdadi and Hadithah.
Iraqi Security Forces and elements of the 1st Marine Division

Operation Matador
May 7, 2005 – May 14, 2005
Western Iraq
2nd Regimental Combat Team, 2nd Marine Division

Operation Squeeze Play
May 23, 2005
Two battalions from the 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division; two battalions from the 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Intervention Force; three battalions from the 2nd Brigade Special Police Commandos; and Soldiers from Task Force 2-14, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

Operation New Market
May 25 to Present, 2005
Marine Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division; a company of the Iraqi Security Forces

Operation Thunder/Lightning
May 25-29, 2005
Upwards to 40,000 Iraqi and Coalition soldeirs

Operation Veterans Forward:
June 16, 2005
Tal Afar

Operation Spear
June 17, 2005
Regimental Combat Team-2, 2nd Marine Division and Iraqi Security Force

Operation Dagger:
June 19, 2005
Thar Thar
1,000 Marines and Iraqi troops

Operation Sword
July 6, 2005
Regimental Combat Team-2, 2nd Marine Division and Iraqi Security Force

Operation Scimitar
July 9th, 2005
Zaidan about 20 miles southeast of Fallujah
3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team-8, a company of Iraqi soldiers

July 18th, 2005
Elements of the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division’s Stryker Brigade Combat Team

Let’s hope so. The Iraq War has been a skilled combination of encircling, subverting and co-opting the most important state in the region: Iran.

The correlation of forces is constantly improving. If we can remove the Sunni Arab threat to the free Iraqi Government, the Kurdish-Shia government can be a force for liberation in neighboring dictatorships and one of the greatest achievements of the Bush Administration.

8 thoughts on “There Is No Iraq War; There Is Only the Euphrates War”

  1. I beleive this localization has been the case for at least a year or so now. The problem is that regardless of whether or not we can effectively localize the violence, we never had enough troops to create stability, even just in Anbar. Historically, nation-builing ops have required large numbers of troops to reduce levels of violence and overall casualties. Rand did a thorough study on this, here’s the link if you’re interested.

    We go in, clear the insurgents out, leave, and watch them come back in. Now in the end, the Iraqis will have to be responsible for dealing the insurgency its final blow, but we will be leaving them a heck of a mess. And at this point we will even have difficulty rolling back the insurgency, despite the fact that we can localize it.

  2. Andrew,

    I mostly agree. However, America’s job is much easier than true nation-building. The past few years have been a concerted attempt to break the Sunni Arab’s ability to effectively organize in a way that can threaten the survival of a Shia-Kurdish government. By driving the resistance to anti-civilian terrorism, the US has largely done that. This final phase appears to be centered on further disrupting the remaining networks, obviously driving the resistance into nihilistic terrorism.

    The outline of a post-US Iraq has been clear: a coalition of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, The Call (al-Dawa), The Kurdish Democratic Party, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, operating in Iran’s sphere of influence.

    Only a rational, effective, Sunni-led political resistance could have derailed this. Quite literally, every month the probability of that further and further approaches 0.

  3. Dan,

    I would agree that the US does not have the full task of nation-building beofre it in the sense that it is not politically responsible for Iraq. However, for the past two years we have essentially assumed both the security aspects and developmental aspects, both of which are not independent of the political aspect. I think we would be fooling ourselves to think that the country would have approached anything resembling stability follwing the invasion, but the political process would have enjoyed much more legitimacy in a more stable and prosperous context. Treating this more like a traditional nation-building project would have better served not only the US, but Iraq as well. Then again we seem to repeat the same mistakes in almost every one of these types of endeavors.

    Furthermore, I do not think we have broken the Sunni Arab ability to threaten the survival of any type of government nor do I think we have done anything of significance in disrupting insurgent networks. All the insurgency has to do is keep up the attacks on civillians. Whether the US is still there or not, if the government cannot provide the most basic of services, security, it will face a real crisis of legitimacy.

    Lastly, I would stronly disagree with the idea that the insurgency has been driven to nihilism or that we significantly disrupted networks. This is a classic Maoist insurgency, and we are deadlocked in phase two. In my view, the insurgency’s ability to operate in a loose conglomeration of networks is growing. Knowledge, raw materials (people, munitions, money) are plentiful and diffuse, thus making any efforts at disrupting a cell very difficult unless we actually kill or capture the whole “cell”, which is rare. Even when we use counter-measures, such as up-armoring vehicles, the insurgents adapt much easier than we can. Now they are using larger, shaped explosives to penetrate the additional armor that cost us a year and millions of dollars to add.

    It is my opinion that we cannot reduce the levels of violence with the numbers of soldiers we have now. More importantly though, is the fact that adding more troops now would not only be difficult politically and practically, but counter-productive to the political process in Iraq as well. We missed our chance one and half years ago to make any dent in the security situation. Now the best we can do is buy time until the Iraqis are ready, both politically and militarily, to take up the fight.

  4. Andrew,

    Good comment. However, things are not that stark.

    While “we are deadlocked in phase two [of a 4GW]” may be true in a limited sense, it is not true generally. Last year we were faced by an opposition that had begun graduating to stage three (when they occupied Fallujah, etc). Likewise, it appeared that it was linking with radical Shia elements (the occupation of the Grand Mosque).

    Given that, I don’t know what you mean by “We missed our chance one and half years ago to make any dent in the security situation”

    Now the situation is much better. There is no region in stage 3. Commentators like Juan Cole now complain that al-Sadr and other radical Shia are illegally assassinating Sunni Arabs, which is a great turn-around. And the focus on attacks on civilians argues that it is backsliding into stage 1. “All the insurgency has to do is keep up the attacks on civillians” is a stage 1 strategy, not a sign of being at stage 2.

    The Iraqis are ready to take up the fight. They have been ready for years. SCIRI and The Call are not peaceful Western-style political parties, and the Kurds are used to defending themselves. All of them are backed by the Islamic Republic to the east, which has vivid and unkind memories of the Iraqi Sunni Arabs.

    Step by step, we have ended the Sunni Arab ability to regain Iraq. By wisely disbanding the Iraqi Army, we destroyed the only means of state-wide control the Iraqi Sunni Arabs had. Seperated from their ability to rule on their own, the Iraqi Sunni Arabs rejected the Allawi Government’s offer to disproportionte influence. So their political network has been deformed into a galaxy of semi-autonomyous cells, capable of murder but not government.

  5. David,

    Indeed, Bush was correct (if by “major” he meant “intense”). The “intense” part of our military force, the Leviathan, is well-night unstoppable. Easily the best such force in the history of the world. Our “Leviathan” force is top notch, and won Iraq in 3-6 weeks.

    But the back-half team, the “Systems Administrator” that has to do the nation-building, isn’t so good. These less intense but longer lasting “minor combat operations” are serious business. In both the Spanish-American War and the Iraq War, we lost most Americans during the “minor” SysAdmin part that the “major” Leviathan part.

    Tom Barnett, a former professor at the Naval War College, has discussed this on his blog [1] [2]. I’ve talked about it too [3]. A free video presentation by Barnett is available online, and he goes into some more details there [4].


  6. “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” – George W. Bush, May 1, 2003, San Diego, CA

    What Bush meant was that we have Penetrated our enemy’s country. We will now Isolate the government from it’s people. We will Subvert it’s people by Reorienting its people’s government, in our image. Then we can Reharmonize its people to conform to it’s new government’s rules. A pure source code for 4GW, PISRR movement, changing kinetic energy to potential energy.

    Yes, I think Iraq was supposed to be the crowning glory for the US military. It was suppose to show that we could change any society to fit our image, any where in the world, if we wanted to. However this all fell into the crapper when the civilian leadership took over. Of course you would have to believe the added forces that the generals wanted, and Rumsfeld denied, were the system-administrators that Barnett is asking for.

    If the generals had wanted to wage Boydian 4GW, they messed up because of the trust factor. There must be absolute trust in a 4GW. The military didn’t ask for the trust of the people. They instead trusted the leaders of the people. It was for good reasons that the military restrained itself from giving the people of the USA, and our enemies, the information on how we would change the Saddam regime into one that would be a good ally. Normally this is information that the citizens of a nation wouldn’t want anyway. Normally you don’t tell your enemy your plans, although, in a way, as if part of a script, Bush did.

    Would the people of the USA support a war, which began a process of nation building to the area of conflict, unlike the Vietnam War. (I am not sure but the South Vietnamese “invited” us in to perform our mission of stopping the communist, not to change their government. If we had invaded and won South Vietnam first, then change its regime; it would have made the Vietnam War closer to what our situation is in Iraq. The system-administration force was already in place when we arrived in South Vietnam.) However, as to supporting our efforts to 4GW nation build Iraq, there is still support for Bush even after all the supposedly mistakes they made in Iraq. This would leave me to conclude that the American people wanted something and wanted to win.

    For the most part, information about 4GW would not have helped Saddam at all. He couldn’t have stopped us if he tried. We knew all his defense systems and had a tested, except for WMD’s, system to destroy all. So as to the question: whom can we trust? The answer would have to be: no one who could use this information, on 4GW, to destroy us. The answer then is: we cannot give this information to future adversarial governments who could use this information against us or future adversarial governments who don’t already know 4GW. If the future adversarial governments were already schooled in Boyd’s methods of 4GW there would be no need to hide what we were going to do, only when we were going to do it. Bush got the script wrong, you show our allies not our enemies. Of course, as I said, it doesn’t really matter if we show our enemies, but it would be a critical mistake if our allies didn’t understand what we were doing. It would have been mission one in the war for Iraq for the president to inform our allies and our enemies before Penetration.

    Of course our diplomatic core would also have to understand 4GW. It would have been great if a General, understanding the principles of Boyd, were in charge of the diplomatic core. I suppose, the diplomats would have been forced to the task of convincing our up-coming enemies that we don’t want and never will attack them. If our enemies knew 4GW, they would know how powerful it is and they would not like a program in which they felt threatened. I am not sure that is part of the job description (explaining 4GW to our enemies) for which the trade of diplomats belong to, or if the diplomatic core was fully staffed to cover present and future crises simultaneously.

    The system administrators wouldn’t look like the ones, in which Barnett is talking about. They would have looked just like the kid down at the service station, similar to the form of the person at your supermarket’s checkout counter, or resemble the face in the window of the person who is handing out your order at the fast food restaurant. They may have also looked like the clerk, mayor, or city administrator in you home town; too bad we screwed it up, it may have worked.

    Of course this scenario is probably not true. I couldn’t, and may not even want to, prove any of it. It is kind of like potential energy, it has no mass or substance, but it (sunlight) can kick the heck out of you, if you stay outside in the sun too long. Potentially all or parts of this entire comment could be true (it’s potential may approach zero but it isn’t zero), but potentially it might not be true. All I can say, it looked like our military had its Act together on gulf war one! While the Gulf War I may have not been 4GW, Act (the release of all potential into kinetic energy) should have similar results even if you call it by its mirror image Penetrate!

  7. Larry,

    I really like these PISRR discussions. It’s making me see things that weren’t there for me before.

    PISRR is the complement to OODA [1]. While OODA is student-centered, PISRR is teacher-centered [2].

    I like the sunlight comparison. While the wandering goes through the OODA loop, the sunlight goes through the PISRR loop.

    Some random thoughts:

    You’re right that the SysAdmin was already there in Vietnam. Much of the tragedy of Vietnam is the SysAdmin crack-up caused by unwise American policies all around.

    I disagree that “There must be absolute trust in a 4GW,” though trust is vital. “Absolute” reminds me of the authoritarian “Zero Defect Policy.” 4GW is fault tolerant.

    Good point on the number of soldiers, and their intended use. Chet Richards’ book [3] argues that there were too many troops for the Leviathan part of the war.

    In Iraq as with Vietnam, local groups should make up the bulk of the SysAdmin force. [4]


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