I feel Dawn’s pain, as expressed passionately here. It also feel the deaths of our young military men and women in Iraq piling up in my soul, crushing my optimism.
The key to this enterprise is to remain on the offense, as is supposedly our entire modus operandi for the greater War on Terror. We seem to have been in maintenance mode since our forces’ stunning victory in the war proper – obviously, this is not working. We need more personnel not less, we need to be much more aggressive in hunting down and eliminating the foreign and domestic scum that are killing Iraqis, Americans and international aid workers using time-honored Islamofascist techniques of terror. We must take the fight to them instead of allowing ourselves to be caught back on our heels.
That is why I am greatly heartened by this report:
- Insurgents killed two U.S. paratroopers and wounded another west of Baghdad on Saturday as the U.S. military unleashed a show of force in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, rocketing buildings to rubble and dropping 500-pound bombs near the site where a Black Hawk helicopter crashed.
….The pre-dawn barrage in Tikrit came hours after the Black Hawk – apparently shot down by insurgents – exploded in flames in a grassy field just outside the city, a hotbed of anti-American sentiment. Six Americans in the copter died, capping the bloodiest week in Iraq for U.S. forces since the fall of Baghdad.
In retaliation, U.S. rocket and heavy machine gun fire destroyed a warehouse and two houses believed to have been used by militants. Air Force fighters screeching overhead dropped bombs, which rattled houses. Mortar rounds howled, and tracer bullets lit up the sky.
“We want to remind this town that we have teeth and claws and we will use them,” said Lt. Col. Steven Russell of the 4th Infantry Division, who led raid in Tikrit, a city of 120,000 people about 120 miles north of Baghdad.
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told reporters in Baghdad that the Bush administration was “sobered by the problem” of increased violence.
Still, he said his talks in the Iraqi capital convinced him that “we have a very solid plan to go out and get these people who are killing us and killing Iraqis.”
“I’m pretty convinced after this short visit that we’re going to take the fight to the enemy,” Armitage said Saturday.
….The U.S. Army quickly took action, reimposing a 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew that had been lifted so people could celebrate Ramadan, which lasts for another two weeks.
After midnight, Russell’s convoy of Humvees and Bradley fighting vehicles, their headlights turned off, set out across Tikrit toward the three buildings insurgents were suspected of using.
Shoulder-fired rockets, a missile, and heavy machine gun fire slammed into an abandoned warehouse. Soldiers yelled, “Knock, knock,” and “Good morning” in celebration as the structure crumbled amid clouds of dust and smoke. [AP]
Symbolically, strategically, and for the sake of our own morale, our forces need to become the ruthlessly efficient fighting machine they were in taking Iraq in the first place, the enemy is no less deadly just because its head is no longer visible.
There is no stasis: there is only moving forward or moving backward.
The offensive continued over the weekend:
- After a wave of increasingly bloody attacks that have killed 37 American soldiers this month, the military has said it will intensify operations against centers of resistance. On Saturday, U.S. warplanes twice dropped giant, 500-pound bombs on sites near Fallujah in a show of force.
Lt. Col. George Krivo said the military has “picked up the intensity of our offensive operations” – particularly concentrating troops in areas west of Baghdad where guerrillas operate.
The downing of a Chinook transport helicopter and the crash of a Black Hawk helicopter made the first week of November the bloodiest for American forces since President Bush declared an end to major combat May 1.
On Sunday, a senior Iraqi official warned that mounting violence may delay steps toward a new constitution, considered a major condition for returning the country to full Iraqi rule.
….Soldiers arrested 18 people in connection with a deadly missile barrage last month against Baghdad’s Al-Rasheed hotel, where U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying at the time. Wolfowitz, an architect of the Iraq war, was not injured but a U.S. colonel was killed.
….Gen. John Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command, met over the weekend with mayors and tribal leaders of Anbar province – where the so-called “Sunni Triangle,” scene of the heaviest anti-U.S. resistance is located – an Iraqi who attended the meeting said Monday.
Abizaid pointed to Fallujah, one of the main towns in the Sunni Triangle, as a “hot area” and warned that if the city refuses to cooperate “in the rebuilding process,” there “might be another policy,” Fallujah Mayor Taha Bedawi told The Associated Press.
The general did not specify the new measures, but told the local leaders in Saturday’s meeting, “Irresponsible behavior such as explosions and strikes against coalition forces are prohibited and we will take measures. We have the capabilities and equipment,” Bedawi said. [AP]
Good, use them.