Monday, November 08, 2004

Entering Fallujah

It's difficult to write about what should be done in Fallujah; considering that we likely shouldn't even be in Iraq, the upcoming battle is going to leave too many dead; Americans and Iraqis. But our soldiers are there and the civilians have declared that Fallujah must be cleared of "insurgents." So the attack is on.

Once they are in the maze of building inside Fallujah, they will have to fight as I described in this post, below. But just getting into the city will be no mean feat, depending on the amount of damage that the US is willing to inflict on the city. Because Fallujah has basically been a no-go zone for American troops, they will have to clear the roads and alleyways of IEDs they may not be able to see. As they move along the main approaches to the city, they will have to secure the bridges and roads so that follow-on troops and supplies do not have to re-clear the same terrain.

Usually, reconnaissance units are assigned to move ahead and to the flanks of the main units on the move as well as securing the lines of communications behind. But with only about 10,000 troops at their disposal, there may not be enough troops to not only fight their way into the city, but to secure their flanks and rear. Each move along the way, some troops must be left behind to secure key areas and choke points. All the while, insurgents in the city have the "high ground" for observing their movements and to fire on them.

US forces will have plenty of technology on their side, and hopefully they will use it to full effect. This would included aerial manned and unmanned observation vehicles, long range optics, laser range finders, night vision systems and anti-battery radar for pinpointing enemy mortar positions. The problem becomes minimizing "collateral damage." And with more than 100,000 Iraqis potentially still in the city, this will not be easy.

This battle has the potential to be a turning point in our occupation of Iraq. If it goes well - for us, that is - it may temporarily result in fewer insurgent operations. If it goes poorly - that is, we could still win the battle but devastate the city and cause massive civilian casualties - we could spark not only a general uprising against US and Iraqi forces, but potentially unite the Sunni and Shi'a as never before.

The next several days will tell...

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