Saturday, August 12, 2006

Forward Together: Stage Two

US and Iraqi forces conduct extensive security operation in al-Doura (hat tip:Pajamas)

Iraqi and Coalition forces are systematically combing through businesses and homes in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Al-Doura as part of a continuing operation to stem the tide of violence plaguing the capital’s 6 million residents, U.S. and Iraqi commanders said Thursday.
more than 5,000 Soldiers have been conducting focused operations in mahalas, or city districts, of the Al-Doura area. He (Col. Michael Beech, commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division) said every home and business within the targeted mahalas is being searched.

This sounds like encouraging news that the plan is going to deliver some positive results in extremely dangerous areas as al-Doura and the commanders are saying that similar operations will be repeated throughout the entire capital which is good, but I also have some concerns as to the durability of expected stability to be brought by this operation(s).
It is common sense that to keep an area secure after cleaning it, it will be essential to prevent a relapse that can happen when new criminals and weapons flow into that area from other places which is not unexpected since al-Doura for example lies at the south-western corner of Baghdad not far from the triangle of death which is where many criminals and terrorists operate in/from.

I think what US and Iraqi commanders are planning to do is to leave a force of certain size to guarantee that newly cleaned districts remain clean but I think this will also mean that after completing 5 or 6 operations like al-Doura's, there will be a significant amount of troops pinned to the areas after those operations are completed and this will mean that a lot of the striking power of US and Iraqi armies in Baghdad will not be available for further operations.

I think a better strategy would be to activate and empower the checkpoints at the entrances to the capital. In my estimation this will mean less pinned troops and more troops free to take action inside the city because these checkpoints already exist and what is needed is just to reinforce them and enhance their functionality and if this is achieved, then we can be sure that flow of weapons and militants into the capital from other areas will be controlled, meaning that when criminals and terrorists lose men or weaponry anywhere in Baghdad it will be very difficult for them to receive reinforcements from outside.

I'm suggesting that because the current performance and efficiency of checkpoints that are supposed to guard the entrances of Baghdad can only be viewed as poor by all standards. I have passed through many such checkpoints at different corners of the capital and vehicles rarely, if ever, get searched…and that's not right.

I will not talk about installing X-ray tunnels to scan vehicles or any sophisticated equipment but I will suggest that US and Iraqi commanders try to make those checkpoints at least as strict as those around Erbil where every single vehicle gets searched and every single passenger is asked for identification and I'm sure many of the commanders know what I mean and have seen how that works. All is needed is to increase the number of men and give them the suitable orders and maybe it will be a good idea to increase the number of lanes at these 'crossing-points' to avoid massive waiting lines from forming and that's all.

Sounds very simplistic I may agree but it worked for Kurdistan which almost entirely relies on paramilitary Peshmarga so why can't organized military do the same?

Update: August 15

Instead of reinforcing checkpoints on the outer circle of Baghdad, US troops are installing concrete walls and creating designated gates around/at the entrance to localized areas where the troops alongside Iraqi forces conducted extensive cordon_and_search operations:

On Tuesday, the US military said the Dura district of southern Baghdad had been walled in behind concrete barricades and fortified check points.
All vehicles in the neighbourhood are to be stopped by Iraqi police looking for "terrorists, bomb-making materials and illegal weapons,"

Now this looks like a method that has good chances for success, and I believe the chances will be much better if US advisors keep an eye on the performance of the IP units manning these fortified check points.

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