This Guerrilla War is Likely to Last A Generation

“We have a soldier wounded or killed every other day” in the Baghdad area. “Is it slowing us down? Yes, because some soldiers who would otherwise be doing reconstruction, we have to use for security. Every attack means we’re going to have to be here a little longer.”
- Maj. Scott Slaten 07/29/03:

In a most audacious attack on American troops, an Iraqi fired a rocket-propelled grenade from the sunroof of a Chevrolet car at a passing patrol yesterday, incinerating one of the army vehicles and seriously wounding four of those travelling in the convoy. (TimesOnline, 7/2/03)

Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defense Secretary, insisted
“that Iraq was not a new Vietnam,” there are no jungles there! 7/2/03

Its all over the press now. America is facing an intensifying urban guerrilla war in both Afghanistan and Iraq. That it is coordinated and has leadership and organization is being debated so as to not admit the obvious: That this was the strategy of both the Taliban and the Republican Guard of Iraq. They number in the tens of thousands. Craig B Hulet has argued in numerous interviews and several white papers and in his latest book the following: to defeat an entrenched enemy that will fight a guerrilla war, the attacking force must have at least a ten to one ratio in favor of the attackers. That we are hopelessly outnumbered in both countries means quite literally we cannot defeat these guerrilla forces. We will lose. We will have to increase the number of troops to even stay stationed in these countries. Precisely as the war in Vietnam escalated from some 50 “Advisors” under president Kennedy to an incremental increase every year to 1.3 million American troops fighting Ho Chi Minh’s forces, we will have to do the same; or we can leave now.

The press is today filling-up with reports that the Pentagon is puzzled by these events particularly in Iraq:

07/01/03: BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops in Iraq are getting ambushed everywhere and every day – while guarding gas stations, investigating car thefts or on their way to make phone calls home. Each new attack is raising questions about whether the violence is a last gasp from Saddam Hussein loyalists or signs of a spreading revolt. The Pentagon is puzzling over how many resisters there are, how well they are organized and how they can be stopped. Private risk analysts are warning of an even chance of Iraq descending into open revolt. And although the term is rarely used at the Pentagon, from every description by military officials, what U.S. troops face on the ground in Iraq has all the markings of a guerrilla war – albeit one in which there are multiple opposition groups rather than a single movement. (Source: “Iraqi attacks could signal wide revolt” The Associated Press and Los Angeles Times, 7/2/03)

Puzzling over this? This was planned by Saddam Hussein and his Republican Guard just as it was planned by Mullah Omar Mohammad of the Taliban. They melted into the population in the face of the American ground forces rather than (stupidly) stand and fight the most formidable conventional military forces on earth. As they would put it on one of TV’s insufferable SitComs, “It’s a no-brainer.” So rather than admit that they knew this was going to come to pass, as this analyst predicted over and over since September 20, 2001 (during my first national radio interview), they are arguing over who it is they might be fighting, who the opposition might be, who the bad guys are? The media puts it all rather blandly as well, because they were the cheerleaders stacking the deck in favor of war. Here is how one reporter reported it:

Certainly, the statistics paint a worrisome picture. Since President Bush declared an end to the major combat phase of the war on May 1, 62 U.S. troops have been killed, according to a count based on Defense Department press releases. Of those, 22 died as a result of enemy attacks, 36 in accidents and four in incidents whose cause is under investigation….More revealing, however, is that the number of deaths from hostile fire is on the rise. Six Americans were killed in May in enemy attacks, while 16 had died in June as of midnight Saturday. Until the past few days, U.S. military officials had insisted that the attacks were merely a product of the final rooting out of the remnants of Saddam’s regime. Now they are beginning to float the idea that U.S. forces face several different opposition forces – and military experts outside the government concur with that assessment. (Ibid.)

In that same article they refer to the guerrillas as a “spectrum of resistance,” to sublimate the reality that it is clearly organized and deliberate. “There are disgruntled Iraqis, upset about house searches or whatever, who might throw rocks or the occasional grenade,” said retired Maj. Gen.. “Disgruntled” over “whatever”…? This valley-girl response is hardly befitting a commander of dead and more to come, dying troopers! At the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, William Nash, now a senior fellow there finally put it together after much deep-thinking “And at the other end of the spectrum, there are members of the old regime, reinforced by foreign fighters, that are looking more organized every day.” There are foreign fighters in Afghanistan; there are foreign fighters in every Arab, Muslim or Persian state in the entire Middle East! That is what Pan-Arabism means in this context, it wasn’t just a dead dream of Egypt’s Anwar Sadat. On the other hand WE are the real Foreign Fighters in the region.

On occasion we get a stunning example of understatement like Nash’s further remarks; commenting on what took place over the weekend of the 6/26/03, where on Saturday, U.S. forces found the bodies of two U.S. soldiers who disappeared with their Humvee while on guard duty at a captured munitions storage depot. Nash suggested that “those killings appear to have been carried out with ‘the upper levels of sophistication,’ [as] it is a difficult operation to snatch an enemy combatant and his equipment,” he noted.

There are some who feel like, that conditions are such that they can attack us there,..

My answer is bring them on.
–President George Bush Jr. 7/2/03

I am continually at a loss as to why the press will not do their job this year. Ask the tough questions and act like the fourth estate they used to be (prior to 9/11 that is). Instead it was reported in these words “Nonlethal grenade and small-arms attacks also appear to be continuing unabated.”… “We have a soldier wounded or killed every other day” in the Baghdad area, said Maj. Scott Slaten, a public-affairs officer for the 1st Armored Division, which has responsibility for Iraq’s capital. “Is it slowing us down? Yes, because some soldiers who would otherwise be doing reconstruction, we have to use for security. Every attack means we’re going to have to be here a little longer.” Nonlethal grenades? I spent a good amount of time in Vietnam 1969-1970 (101st Airborne) and I do not recall seeing what could be described as a nonlethal grenade, let alone any “nonlethal small-arms.” “Is it slowing us down”? Well no kidding, it certainly slowed down the dead guys.

“We are going to fight them and impose our will on them and we will capture or… kill them until we have imposed law and order on this country. We dominate the scene and we will continue to impose our will on this country.”
–Paul Bremer, Washington’s overlord in Iraq 6/29/03

Not even General Westmoreland would have made such a declaration in the 1960s as he was a statesman soldier unlike our current crop of apparatchiks. In Vietnam there was a joke told regularly that when you went to Vietnam you could tell who Charlie was because he’d be wearing black pajamas; of course everyone was wearing black pajamas! That was the punch line. We seem to have learned little because…

For troops on the ground, there is a constant, uneasy sense that nothing and no one are what they seem. Civilians have approached checkpoints and lobbed grenades, and canvas-sided Humvees have become a hazard. “You’re not sure who your enemy is,” said Army Sgt. Gary Qualls, who is stationed at the U.S. military’s base in Ramadi, a town in the heart of the Sunni area north and west of Baghdad long loyal to Hussein. “You don’t know who to trust.” (Ibid.)

What was these troop’s briefing before being deployed? What are they being told now?

Still, military officials say they believe the security situation overall has improved in the country. And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, when asked Friday (6/27/03) if the fighting was turning into a guerrilla war, replied: “I don’t know that I would use the word.” Really? This man should retire as his senility is showing. Maybe “he” wouldn’t use that word…but then he did say he “don’t know” if he would use it…so maybe he is just confused and not senile. So he can stay in charge then.

Asserting who’s in charge

The story gets even better the more the press presses the issue, issuing these further comments: “However, military experts both inside and outside the Pentagon said they fear the U.S. has failed to assert itself strongly enough on the ground in Iraq because of political pressure to send a message that American forces would leave the country as soon as possible. That may have led the opposition to try to speed the U.S. military’s departure, and each successful killing or act of sabotage becomes an advertisement to recruit more foot soldiers for the resistance.” Failed to assert itself strongly enough…”? We bombed them into the stone age and stood by and watched them destroy all records of who the Iraqi army, the Republican Guard in particular, were made up of, and went straight for their oil! It was precisely what we have “strongly” done and will do as occupying foreign forces which has brought a guerrilla war to us.

“Clearly, they are emboldened by success,” said a senior military official in Washington. “You have to go in and tell them: ‘Were gonna do what we did in Germany and Japan. We’re gonna write your constitution. We’re gonna install your government. We’re gonna write your laws. We’re gonna watch your every move for a decade, and then maybe you’ll get a chance to do it yourself.’” (Ibid.)

Who is WE? Who are these people saying these things? “WE” are going to do nothing of the sort. We are going to likely lose this war and an awful lot of young men and women the world over shall most certainly die for “our” strategic energy needs and hegemonic ambitions. But the message gets better the more one reads these reports in the submissive press:

The limited resistance put up by Iraqi military forces during major combat operations may also be having an impact. “It may sound a little strange to say it, but because we didn’t fight in Fallouja and Tikrit, probably the ‘bad guys’ have made it back into the community and we’re going to have to move them out,” a senior Bush administration official said recently. (Ibid.)

That clever Nash, of the Council on Foreign Relations, said the United States missed the window to establish itself as the unequivocal authority when the war ended. “When Baghdad fell is when you establish yourself; it’s when you set the rules. If you miss the opportunity to do it then, it’s not impossible, but it’s harder,” he said. “Resistance feeds resistance – the bad guys have had a chance to get organized.” Baghdad didn’t fall and we didn’t win the war. The Republican Guard and the Iraqi army didn’t fight us. They wisely and tactically never tried because they were already under instructions to fight a guerrilla war forever against the occupying foreign forces! That was the strategy all along. (As I reported over and over again in the media since September 20, 2001; I hate to belabor that point, but if I knew these things, then the Pentagon knew, then Bush and Rumsfeld knew; that is the point, not that I‘m such a smart guy! but they knew all along.) In a separate account it was admitted. But I have yet to see it repeated nor analyzed anywhere else.

Allied officials now believe that a document recently found in Iraq detailing an ‘emergency plan’ for looting and sabotage in the wake of an invasion is probably authentic. It was prepared by the Iraqi intelligence service in January and marked ‘top secret.’ It outlined 11 kinds of sabotage, including burning government offices, cutting power and communication lines and attacking water purification plants. What gives the document particular credence is that it appears to match exactly the growing chaos and large number of guerrilla attacks on coalition soldiers, oil facilities and power plants.(Source Washingtonpost.com 6/26/03)

Can Rumsfeld continue to evade the obvious and suggest still that “I wouldn‘t know that I would use that word…”? the “G” word. Guerrilla War. In Europe they use the word because that is what is happening. Can the Pentagon still claim this is some unorganized “resistance” supported by outside foreign assets? Well, yes indeed the Pentagon, after the above report was public, did precisely that:

Now is the most dangerous time since we’ve been here. It’s not like when we were first here–pushing forward, shooting at everyone who had a gun,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary Conklin of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. “You get attacked, but there’s no definite enemy. You can’t shoot at all the civilians.”… “Many times, they’d been there–waving, saying hello, watching us,” Spec. Joseph Broullard said. “Then they were shooting at us.” (Source: 6/ 29/2003, Chicago Tribune) “It’s being planned and being planned well by small groups,” a U.S. official said. “But we don’t see a real command-and-control structure.”(Source: 6/27/03 washingtonpost.com , Iraqi Ambushes Beset Troops, By Peter Finn)

Where, in South Vietnam, China in the 30s, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, Bolivia and for that matter the American “revolutionary” forces fighting a guerrilla war against the British did they “see” a command-and-control structure? You don’t see a control center in a guerrilla war whether with jungles or an urban community. That is the whole point of the above document unearthed in Iraq reported above. All the evidence strikes a chord with those who have served in the military in combat against a guerrilla army.

There’s some evidence that some Islamist groups are forming in some instances tactical alliances with remnants of the former regime or simply acting on their own. And also, of course, we have the tribal factor, which means there are a number of tribes who were armed by the regime in the couple of years or so preceding the fall of it and these tribes indeed may be providing protection for some senior regime figures — even possibly Saddam himself.” (Source: 6/29/03, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc., http://www.rferl.org Iraq: ‘Operation Sidewinder’ Attempting To Root Out Insurgents By Valentinas Mite)

Not only is one American dying each day now in either Iraq or Afghanistan or both, but many more wounded. Some former U.S. National Guardsmen are asking the right questions though having never served in combat. For instance from the reports in the press we are seeing troops being killed while making a phone call home, or shopping in Baghdad! To wit:

A U.S. soldier was shot in the head while buying digital video discs at a shop in Baghdad on Friday, the shop owner and other witnesses said. (BAGHDAD Reuters 6/27/02)
Response:

“Such B.S, how is it credible to call this growing and obvious guerrilla war a last gasp of Saddam Hussein?? I heard Bremer say this morning something like a pathetic last gasp of Hussein loyalists!! Our soldiers are being picked off like sitting ducks. Why the hell is the command letting these guys go fucking shopping, or making phone calls in a hostile environment?? Where are their platoon leaders, their Top?? I don’t understand why they haven’t protected them, why aren’t they in garrison. Do they want to fill up the body bags? I don’t get it. (Source: KC&A client [former NG] responding to the above article, CW, Seattle WA, 7/1/03)

In Iraq, years of vilification of the United States have compounded Iraqi uncertainty about U.S. intentions, a problem complicated further by the United States’ backtracking on promises to let Iraqis choose their own new government. This same problem is to be found in Afghanistan where the Taliban are flooding back into the region and warlords are bringing the guerrilla war to Kabul. The Post reports that “The situation is worsened by the continuing communications difficulties of the U.S.-led occupation authority, which still has trouble reaching Iraqis with basic information because of weak television signals and the limited access of many Iraqis to mass media. Furthermore, many members of the sizable Sunni minority, who prospered under Saddam Hussein, perceive themselves as losing rather than gaining ground as a result of the U.S. presence and are willing to offer tacit, if not outright, support for those who want to actively fight the U.S.-led troops.” (Source: “Iraqi attacks could signal wide revolt” The Associated Press and Los Angeles Times, 7/2/03) “The Sunni population has every reason to destabilize the situation, since they know that when there are elections, they are going to get the short end of the stick,” said Charles Pena, director of defense policy studies at the Washington-based Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. (Ibid.)

In an effort to put a different face on what is clearly identifiable as a strategically planned and now tactically implemented guerrilla war the press scours the sod for sop, experts of every stripe are asked the same questions and the most absurd responses are printed. Those who say, no, we are facing a well-armed, well-planned, long term guerrilla war which was inevitable, are ignored.

Here is what a recent LA Times article concluded from the experts regarding who we are facing. The subtitle to the piece was “Three opposition factions” It begins with this intellectual hogwash, “At the Pentagon and the White House and among military experts, there is a growing consensus that there are at least three forces involved in efforts to destabilize the country: Saddam loyalists, foreign fighters and those angry at living conditions since U.S.-led forces routed the Saddam regime….” The first group is outlined as such:

Discontented members of Saddam’s ruling Baath party, especially in the area of central Iraq known as the Sunni triangle, have the money to finance a resistance. Also present are a number of Fedayeen, paramilitary fighters loyal to Hussein who underwent brutalizing military training designed to inure them to the horrors of assassination. The combination of money to pay for the attacks and fighters to carry them out is a dangerous mix. (Ibid.)

This is an effort to make it seem as though these “discontented” wealthy individuals must pay other “followers” to act as mercenaries to fight on their own soil rather than the reality: i.e., they are military personnel fighting a guerrilla war against their foreign occupiers! Unbelievable! they base this on the following “evidence”…

There have been at least two execution-style attacks in the past two weeks in which U.S. soldiers who were talking with or helping civilian Iraqis were shot at close range near the base of the neck. In one case, in which a soldier was helping Iraqis line up to buy cooking fuel, the shooting was lethal; in the second attack, which occurred Friday as the soldier considered buying some DVD movies in a crowded shopping area, the soldier was critically wounded. (Ibid.)

Because there were a couple of “execution style” killings this provides these high-brow thinkers to discern a trend that means not guerrillas but criminal mafia type resistance.

“We ended major combat operations because the Iraqi army had disappeared, but what we don’t have is the Saddam Fedayeen and Baath leadership, who are trying to disrupt the coalition efforts,” said a senior military official in Iraq. Nash believes “that there is enough residual regime in place that they are starting to build a constituency.”

Add to that kind of thought process Paul Bremer, the chief US administrator in Iraq

said the “violence [ which has killed at least 29 US and British soldiers since President George W. Bush declared major combat operations over on May 1] – showed the “desperation” of “members of the ex-regime” and “terrorists with connections to Iran, al-Qaeda and other countries in the region.” (Source: FT.com, 7/1/03: “Bremer pushes on despite attacks on US forces” Gareth Smyth) To continue to delude themselves is one thing but to delude the American people further about where this war is taking us is critical and dangerous in the extreme. This idea that many of the guerrilla attacks are terrorists persists in the media. From the same LA Times article the second group of these so-called “opposition factions” and “residual regime” is looked at .

The second group, foreign fighters, encompass both anti-American al-Qaida-type characters from Syria and Jordan, among other nations, as well as possible agents provocateurs from Iran, who may be fomenting trouble in Shiite Muslim-dominated southern Iraq. Just last week, Iraqi police in Baghdad picked up a group of Palestinians and Jordanians, now being held for questioning by the Americans. Military officials acknowledge that they have little control of the Iraqi borders. (Ibid.)

This argument that foreigners from outside Iraq, “al Qaida type characters, are to blame for some of the attacks, while this may be true, is nonsensical in the context of the Middle East. In Afghanistan fighters came from all over the world including America, China and from all parts of Europe and Africa. Indeed, over 60 countries were represented at some level. It was known, should have been known by all, that if we attacked Iraq, as in Afghanistan, the same would take place. And it is going on in Afghanistan again tonight. This is not an anomaly where “outsiders” are agitators, but the expected outcome of our presence in the Middle East, anywhere in the Middle East.

The third group is a hodgepodge of common criminals and people frustrated with the lack of services. Saddam released large numbers of prisoners last fall during a general amnesty. Iraqis say the Americans should not be surprised by the violence directed toward them. “It was predictable,” said Iraqi political scientist Saad al-Jawwad. “To any man or any woman or anybody who’s living in despair, what could he do? He has nothing left but to carry arms and defy the people who are here occupying his country and doing nothing for him or his family. Where is democracy? Nonexistent. Where is stability? Nonexistent. Where’s electricity? Where’s water? “What do you expect these people to do? To keep on sitting like sheep?” said al-Jawwad. “Of course they would organize themselves, and they will get more organized and more organized.”…”And that will develop into a revolt,” he predicted. (Ibid.)

Here is another example of obfuscation and deliberate deception on the part of the media and the Administration’s spokesmen. Every guerrilla army finds its recruits from the angry civilian population and those who feel the unjust “footprint” (in the newest Pentagon jargon) of the American occupying forces. It is a popular resistance that makes up a guerrilla army backed by professional soldiers who are, as well, disgruntled with the occupation of their country. To call these guerrillas “criminals” and the “frustrated” because of lack of “services,” is disgraceful! But to add to the mix the blame placed on Saddam Hussein because he released prisoners in a general amnesty is raw propaganda directed at the ignorant.

Kroll, a U.S.-based corporate risk consulting company, told its clients that an Iraqi revolt against occupying forces was one of two most likely scenarios in 2003. The other was a so-called wobbly landing, with some instability but not outright revolt. They are going to persist in calling this “guerrilla war” a revolt, or saboteurs, foreign agitation and pathetic remnants of Saddam’s “followers,” i.e., the last gasp theory. We will find this is a growing guerrilla war with all of the main components in place, planned from the beginning, before Bush and Blair ever launched this war, before America was prepared for the real outcome. The war hasn’t started yet. This war will never really end until America leaves. As in Vietnam, as in Libya when Mussolini occupied that country, Sudan against the British Empire, as in every country on the wrong soil that has faced a guerrilla force, no foreign conventional army has ever defeated a local guerrilla force of any significant size. This is not Belfast, not the Red Brigades. This is war Mr. Bush has gotten us into and it will not end in a decade, maybe not a generation. And no matter how it ends, history will haunt Americans again with that horrendous self-reflective question: “What were we doing there”? Then we will debate, hold another contest? where to place yet another monument to the dead; though really a monument to the failed statesmen that fought yet another wrong-headed war in our name.

(End 7/28/03)

Craig B Hulet lost nearly his entire unit in Vietnam (C Troop, 2/17th Air Cavalry, 101st Airborne 1969-70) with the colors sent home (80% losses); he was Special Assistant to Cong. Jack Metcalf (Ret.) and periodically consultant to ATF&E Of The US Dept. Justice/Homeland Security. Craig B Hulet is the author of The Hydra of Carnage: Bush’s Imperial War-making and the Rule of Law: An Analysis of the Objectives and Delusions of Empire) www.craigbhulet.com