June 15, 2005

Austin Bay: Live from Baghdad

Austin Bay, now touched down in Baghdad and far from the swanky Lebanese restaurant fare of Doha, reports:

The current chief of operations gave us a briefing in the Corps’ Joint Operations Center. I’ll comment on the difference in operational emphasis at a later date– but it’s clear the Iraqis are taking on a larger share of the operational burden. After the ops briefing we talked with the current corps commander, Lieutenant-General Vines, for about an hour. When asked about Iraqi participation in security missions, Vines gave us a rough percentage figure. In at least nine out of ten security operations, the new Iraqi military is providing half of the forces. The Iraqi units demonstrate tactical combat proficiency but –this is the short version– lack logistical support organizations and heavy weapons (eg, sufficient artillery).

Color me somewhat skeptical. But I'll be reading Austin's Baghdad dispatches with great interest--not least with regard to this critical issue that Austin has flagged straight out of the gates.

(thanks to the commenter in a thread below for the hat tip)

Posted by Gregory at June 15, 2005 04:05 PM | TrackBack (21)

Artillery? Does Bay mean mortars?

My understanding had been that even American units operating in Iraq's urban environments made relatively little use of indirect fire from heavy weapons, and in less populated areas relied heavily on tactical air support.

Posted by: JEB at June 16, 2005 02:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I have a question for those of you who know more about these types of military issues than I do (which is pretty much everyone :) ).

Could part of the upsurge in violence (or at least a current upswing of the oscillating levels of violence) be due in part to Iraqi forces partially taking over some security responsibilites and thus not as, er, efficient? Or is that just a ridiculous question?

Posted by: MD at June 16, 2005 09:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It is a very apt question, MD, and goes to one of the major problems in the whole "train and equip" effort our guys are making with Iraqi government forces: what do you train and equip them for?

One example out of many: suicide bombers wearing army or police uniforms, able to infiltrate groups of soldiers or policemen and kill many of them. Knowing how to recognize your own guys isn't high on the list of things we teach our own recruits, partly because it's hard to mistake an American soldier on patrol for anything else in the world. But it needs to be for Iraqi units. How do you do that? Can you? These are questions the answers to which are still being worked out, but in the short run at least it is absolutely true that Iraqi units are more vulnerable to insurgent attack than American ones.

Posted by: JEB at June 17, 2005 08:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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