Monday, May 07, 2007

Fantasy Football, Ramadi-Style

[Steve Schippert]

Another peek at the situation on the ground in Anbar, where al Qaeda is being confronted by Iraqi Sunnis summarily unimpressed with AQI's murderous ways.

"If I find strangers or strange cars, I go to tell my officer. Last week we found some who were insurgents and they were detained," Sahed said matter-of-factly. "The important thing is to make my neighborhood safe."

Kudos to Chris Kraul of the LA Times, who writes of the "tipping point" in Ramadi against al-Qaeda and — in case anyone missed it — for both Iraq itrself and the Americans on the ground fighting for her.

A lead collected by Sahed's crew recently was a case in point. After an attack on a coalition Humvee cost a GI his legs, the group fanned out in Al Tash. The tip soon led them to a "stranger" who had a 155-millimeter artillery shell in his house and said, "Don't worry, I'm using it against the Americans, not you."

Sahed's commander, Maj. Sabaa Yusef Ju, arrested him on the spot.

"We could have never developed that kind of actionable intelligence that fast," said Lt. Jimm Spannagel with the Army 1st Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade. "The PSF speaks the same language, establishes rapport with the locals and inspires trust. It's allowing us to extend our reach."

But, by all means, let's withdraw from Iraq. Winning is impossible, right? In contrast, while Chris Kraul is interviewing Iraqis, the AP is still interviewing bomb fragments and telling an entirely different story. Bill Roggio passed that along this morning to highlight the following opening passage:

Two suicide car bombers attacked a market and a police checkpoint on the outskirts of Ramadi, killing at least 20 people and dealing a blow to recent U.S. claims of success in reclaiming the Sunni city from insurgents.

Consider the undead al-Masri's message meant to assure friend and foe that he is indeed alive. In his message he openly admits having lost control of Anbar when he states that al-Qaeda in Iraq "is capable of taking the initiative in Al-Anbar." Read the AP above and one would think the are close to this aim. They are not.

Car bombs are not control. They are murderous and horrific, but they are not control. Just as US aerial bombardment is not control. (Would detractors please recall their own [right] criticism of Tora Bora?) Yet this is percisely how Harry Reid and others apparently intend on executing an Iraq withdrawal that is (stunningly) "more focused on counterterorism."

For crying out loud, what is Saif Sahed of Ramadi's new Provincial Security Force doing? Forgive the seemingly oft-used refrain, but senators, this is counterterrorism.

Please, please, please... Pay very close attention to the following, gentlemen:

"About 10% of our intelligence is actionable, while 90% of their [PSF] intelligence is actionable," said Lt. Ed Clark, whose Army platoon patrols west Ramadi.

If it's counterterrorism you want, stay out of the way.

What sad commentary that American political leaders are not interested in victory. One gets the sense that it just doesn't matter. There's no other way to put it. We're likely to have more success selling space heaters to the Ice Cream Man.

Washington reminds me today of those who play fantasy football for money. They draft their teams and players before the season. And when Sunday rolls around, they are so invested in their 'fantasy team' that they root for their drafted players even against their own favorite team. The beauty and purity of the game is lost upon them. They are invested...there is money on the line...and besides, their favorite team can lose today and still make the playoffs.

That there is a single representative or senator in Washington invested in defeat is revolting, let alone a driving force of them. And they wonder why those in military service so distrust them. Today we are witnessing the worst fears of American military men and women.


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