Friday, May 12, 2006

Battle for Baghdad II: Zarqawi on the Offense

Another blogger notes other documents found during the raids on Yusufiyah that oulines Zarqawi's plan for a new offensive. He has finally determined that fighting inside Sunni areas and killing Sunni would erode the support they need and he is desperate to get it back.

3- Reduce the attacks on Sunni areas (Adhamiya, Mansour, Rusafah-mixed) – in proportion to the area - and areas where the people are calm, in order to reduce the pressure on the Sunni so as to leave them as restful and progressive, and to be dedicated to cleansing them, calmly, of spies and of Shi’ahs.

This will be done in the following ways:

A) Refrain from attacking moving patrols and concentrate on stationary patrols by using snipers without provoking the matter.

B) Drive away the Shi’ahs and expel their businesses and workplaces from our areas.[ed...been happening; reason for kidnappings on businesses in Baghdad are not simply for ransom money]

C) Move the battle to the Shi’ah depths and cut off the paths from them by any means necessary to put pressure on them to leave their areas.

D) Our areas are considered strategic areas according to the Americans because the primary roadways, as well as transportation and financial pathways, are near them, therefore, we will leave or reduce our operations against them in our areas for the near future, and will perform our work against them in the areas of Baghdad itself, as well as the surrounding areas.

And, here he is overly optimistic about the success of his plans:

therefore it is necessary to leave the Americans to feel safe at this time in our areas and attack them on the exterior roads or in the Shi’ah areas. Then we will have control over our areas in a month, God willing, and we will open the door once again with the Americans.

Later he talks about another phase of his operations that will be over in 3 to 4 months and result in victory. However, what I thought was the most telling and, shall I say "interesting" piece was this:

What is the strategy of the Commander of Al-Rasafah – for example- for the next six months, instead of the next year, two years or twenty years?

One, it says they are looking at long term battle even though they talk earlier about the "quick" victories. Two, if any of you have been through business planning or management strategy sessions or even "career planning", this comment comes right off the list of things you could be sure to hear. So, whoever wrote this little outline is not some schmuck mujihadeen from a sheep farm in western Iraq or a laborer from Saudi or Syria. As usual, the people running the mujihadeen are not "disaffected poor", but educated middle class or wealthy. This fellow has definitely been to management classes or worked in a business field as at least a low to mid-level executive. Three, the outline format with brief discussion points also shows someone that has been "in business" and knows that the only way to keep his leader's attention and the worker bees below him is to be brief (make your points in five bullet points or less).

As far as that goes, my military brother and other military power point rangers have probably seen this outline before, although I don't know how prevalent it was in the Iraqi or other regioinal military, it smacks either of military college and officer corp background or, as noted, business management. I'd even lay odds that the writer of this memo was far away already when the US troops came. He's not mujihadeen cannon fodder. Would be nice if any of the countries around about there had any idea or gave up any "missing" officer corp members' names from a branch of their military just to see and compare.

Odds are also that he young and not long out of university. Thirty or less. I doubt this was written by Zarqawi. It's the language, the tone and the references to certain "management" concepts that strike me.

Read the rest. It is very detailed about his plans. I hope he wasn't really planning to use this one though.

The road to the airport [ SW Baghdad] is very strategic for them, as well as the new International Abu-Ghurayb Highway[ W Baghdad]. These roads are very important to the Americans, and the Americans are more susceptible to be attacked than the government forces, as they may use these roads to mobilize government forces against us with ease and extensive pressure (as the government wants only the opportunity and the authority to put pressure on our Sunni areas [ed...adhamiya, Rusafah, Mansour and al Karkh]) therefore it is necessary to leave the Americans to feel safe at this time in our areas and attack them on the exterior roads or in the Shi’ah areas[Thawra-Sadr City].

Note he is talking about not striking at targets that are moving on the Abi Talib Street. This is the red line that runs through the heart of Baghdad through Adhamiya, Rusafah and al Karkh. He wants to strike on the outer ring to reduce the ability to push forces into Baghdad proper either on operations or in support of other facilities that might be under attack later in the plan. He wants to isolate every facility inside Baghdad. Classic warfare: surround and cause implosion from the inside.

Striking and Sabotaging the Centers,
which the patrols dispatch from
, or possibly use them. Make this one of the priorities, because they will not be able to compensate for their losses in this manner even if there was continued dispatching. According to the plan, continue these operations on this faction. However, the centers from which no patrols operate are much less important.

Most likely targets are the police center east of Ali Talib St, the parade grounds with it's forces moving back and forth on the Abu Graihb Highway and the forces from the industrial center in the south on Ad Dawrah. Possibly the two airports as well. Most interesting, what they want to do appears to be to move away from strikes in al Karkh. This is probably also because that is the heart of the Green Zone and, as previously noted, the al Karkh commander is very restricted in movement and he has been ratted out (which is the only conclusion considering they have "voice print" and possibly pictures - he's probably holed up somewhere and can't even leave the house, much less organize good attacks or "lead by face").

Other interesting comments:

It is best to say that there must be booby trapped cars also, consistent with our vision and strategy.

Notice that he says "booby trapped" and makes no mention of "martyrs". As noted in the previous post, he says they only have about 30 to 40 mujihadeen in the two main commands, al Karkh and Rusafah. With those limited numbers, even though he talks about increasing them, using the remaining forces as suicide fodder is pretty wasteful. Part of a counter insurgency is to attrit forces and resources while simultaneously cutting off ability to resupply. That has been the actions in the Al Anbar provence, particularly up and down the Tigris in places like Al Qaim, Haditha, etc as Bill Roggio points out in this presentation. At this point, he can't afford to use men up. So, what we're talking about are cars on the side of the road or in parking lots that are rigged to explode, probably by remote trigger. Most likely attacks will also be IEDs. He also mentions using "snipers" to attack and then leave.

He is thinking small units and tactics because of his limitations. He needs to preserve his resources. Not to say that there won't be more suicide attacks as young Muslims trickle in without any training and get sent to do what they can do best, but, as the recent reports have shown, these numbers are going down.

Then he goes on to say:

It is known, by the rank and file of the Mujahidin in Baghdad, that their leadership do not operate according to a broad view, or a well-knit plan, and that the operations are based upon mere reactions, or on a media strategy by researching through daily news bulletins looking for feed back, and this has led to strategic losses for us.

Again, the reference to the media. The are looking for the attacks that get the most print and angst response.

The Commanders [except those that God has mercy on] demand from everyone continuous daily operation with the most force possible, with the intention of exhausting the enemy, but in reality, the Mujahidin are the ones who are exhausted.

Again, the leadership is limited in capabilities and are using up their forces with no territory to show for it. The exhaustion felt is both spiritually (because they make no headway), physically (because they are limited in men and must all carry out double or triple duty on a continuous basis - little relief) and materially (men, materials and money must travel through perilous areas patrolled by coalition forces, with routine check points, on a regular basis; suicide bombings mean more duty spread among less men or less well trained men)

So, Zarqawi is on the Offensive, but reducing it down to even smaller units, fewer targets and tactics designed to preserve his forces while trying to cut off the center and continue to press the civil war issue.

His only problem now is, we've got his plan and probably a lot more where that came from.

It looks like we are not going to take the pressure off the Sunni strongholds.

FOB LOYALTY, Iraq – Elements of the 6th Brigade, 2nd National Police Division, and 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, seized a large cache of deadly explosives in a residence in eastern Baghdad at approximately 4 p.m. May 10.

The search in the New Baghdad neighborhood by the national police and Soldiers resulted in the discovery of 142 land mines, 58 blocks of C4 explosives, approximately 8,000 feet of detonation cord, 107 fuses, 22 rocket-propelled grenades, a launcher, 59 mortars, 40 pounds of mortar propellant, four shape charges, 43 blasting caps, explosive-formed projectile materials, two gas masks, six two-way radios, multiple mortar launching tubes, maps of Baghdad and Iraq, and anti-Iraqi force literature.

The precision operation took place with no rounds fired and no injuries.

Three men were detained in connection with the cache. One female was detained and then released to a local leader under house arrest. A group of more than 300 residents gathered in the area. A local Imam and civic leaders ensured that the group demonstrating did not turn violent.

New Baghdad I believe is in the Ahmadiya district previously noted as a problem with Sunni rejectionists and Saddamists.

And, to support Zarqawi's plan:

Elsewhere, three U.S. Army soldiers were killed Thursday when roadside bombs hit two U.S. convoys southwest of Baghdad, the military said. The U.S. command also announced that an American soldier died Tuesday from wounds not suffered in combat.

Southwest Baghdad: Airport Expressway

Checkpoint killings for "fixed detachments" and clearing roadways.

An Iraqi soldier died at a checkpoint in a shooting in western Baghdad on

Another report indicates a "booby trapped" car (VBIED) went off at the office of Al Maliki's al Dawa party. No one was injured. Military indicating they believed it was aimed at US and Iraqi forces, but more likely a direct attempt on the "Shia centers". No link yet.

Hat tip Mudville Gazette

Cross posted at the Castle

Battle for Baghdad II: Zarqawi's Alamo

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