June 2007

Here is a good resource on the ISF Order of Battle. The ISF has traditional military forces – Army, Air Force, Navy, Special Forces. Iraq also has a National Police, local police, and a coast guard.

This phase technically began in August 2006, but only starting taking effect in January 2007.

Tribes are the dominant military force in network-based warfare. If they have sufficient motive and materials, they can outfight most other network insurgents, including Islamists. The Anbar Tribes rose against Al-Qaeda in Iraq and is moving to secure Anbar Province and encourage other tribal awakenings. This effectively destroyed Al-Qaeda’s center of gravity in Iraq.

This phase occurred between 2005 and 2006.

In 2005, sovereignty was transferred to the elected Iraqi Government. The Sunni populist insurgency of 2004 was destroyed. Sunni Insurgents switched to using network warfare tactics to disrupt the Iraqi and American government and the economy. The American reaction is poor and insufficient to defeat the network-based insurgency until 2007. The Insurgency lacked power to overthrow the Iraqi government. The result is a two year stalemate.

Muqtada al-Sadr led an uprising with his militia from April to June of 2004.

This uprising was not widespread or long enough to be considered a true insurgency.  It lacked any revolutionary aim despite the rhetoric. The militia uprising occurred to prevent American forces from arresting al-Sadr. Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani intervened to end the uprising and encouraged al-Sadr to enter the new Iraqi provisional government.

 This phase began around March and lasted until November 2004.

Overall: Al-Qaeda in Iraq took command of a decentralized insurgency. Sunni Tribes, former Ba’athists and indigenous Salafis launched a major attack against US forces from the Sunni Triangle. Insurgent forces captured a number of cities and posed a worse threat to the US than any other insurgent period.

This phase took place between April 2003 and December 2003.

The situation in Kurdistan was peaceful and secure and would remain so until the present.
The rest of Iraq faced several problems
1) Widespread looting and crime following the breakdown of law and order
2) Tribes and Religious militias began fighting each other for dominance
3) Sunni Tribes and Ba’athists began an insurgency

The First Phase lasted from March 20th to the end of April. There’s no definitive end date, but the fall of Baghdad on April 9th marked the end of the Ba’ath regime.

This is a brief review of the invasion

This is the Spanish Civil War of our time. Much like Spain in the 1930s, there is no particular reason why the battlefield was selected. Both sides more or less converged on a location which became important simply because the enemy went there.

There are two basic objectives to define victory
1) Establish a stable allied government with security forces to enforce its will over the country
2) Prevent Insurgents from establishing their government and security forces over the country

Richard E. Lenski put some E. Coli in a jar and watched for 20 years. That’s 40,000 generations of bacteria.

He witnessed adaptation, natural selection, parallel evolution and more


A Youth Bulge is when military age males, 15-30 make up at least 20% or more of the population. The greater their percentage of the population, the more likely war follows. Right now, there are youth bulges in the Middle East, Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Arab world is just starting to shake from the pressures of a youth bulge. 65% of the population is under age 25. As the children become men, the fun begins.

Attrition does not just kill men. It destroys skills.  Military organizations can regenerate losses in terms of manpower but they have far greater difficulty in regenerating skill.

Managing and using skills poses a series of tradeoffs that have long-term effects.  In World War II, the Japanese believed the best way to use aces was to kill American pilots. Americans believed the best way to use aces was to train more American pilots. The result was the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.

To get straight to the point, attrition has an impact in the current war. Bluntly, moron terrorists replace elite terrorists.

On September 12, 1864, Gen. Sherman answered the pleas of the Atlanta government with his famous admonition that war is a cruelty that cannot be refined.

But, saying war is a cruelty misses the full message of Sherman’s letter. This letter contains the core message of the “tit for tat” strategy. Once attacked, you ruthlessly fight back until the enemy surrenders. Then you are magnanimous in victory and not one moment beforehand. Sherman’s March to the Sea devastated the South, including Atlanta, but it helped break the Confederacy. In all, the South lost 5% of its population and almost 2/3rds of its property from the war. The South could have ended the suffering at any point by saying “enough.”

Here is the letter in full:

The Israeli defensive wall successfully reduced suicide bombings and may have sparked the Palestinian Civil War.

Passive defenses like walls and fences constrict movement to guarded chokepoints. It allows a small number of troops to patrol and guard a larger range of territory. The Israelis used a multi-layered defense. Informants uncovered Palestinian militant cells. The IDF eliminated many bomb-makers to disable cells. The remaining suicide bombers have to move through guarded checkpoints to reach their targets. This allowed the IDF to intercept attacks and disable entire terrorist networks.

Here’s a thought. Democratic policies are good for coastal cities while Republican policies are good for the South. And the two should not project their economic policies onto the other. Federalism is the best way to compromise between the two factions. I don’t view America as a single nation so there cannot be a single one-size-fits-all policy


Chinese students grew bored with socialism.

The best feature about any science, including the softer social sciences, is that you can only fake it for so long. At some point, people realize the idea does not correspond with reality. The next generation never reveres the delusions of their parents. They’re bored by the irrelevance of it.

StrategyPage notes that the Taliban admits defeat. In a manner of speaking. The Taliban is no longer a major military/political force in Afghanistan. They became a less threatening terrorist organization. This is what victory looks like – incrementally weaking the enemy and reducing their capabilities.

The Sinaloan and Gulf Cartels called for a ceasefire. They’re going to divide the drug trade and stick to their sides. The Drug Cartels realized they were about to be the biggest losers in this war unless they stopped competing.

This is because of various pressures like the Mexican government’s crackdown and the Cartels loss of control over their own paramilitaries like the Zetas. This won’t end the fighting of course.

The Drug Cartels and paramilitaries are using the internet to spread propaganda, often on YouTube.

The “heroes” of these stories display dead bodies and decapitated heads of their enemies in rival gangs. They portray themselves as protectors of the people or some such.

Here’s the Washington Post report on the narcocorridos.

The three-way battles between the Sinaloan Cartel, the Gulf Cartel, and the Mexican Government intensified this year. The Mexican military deployed 26,000 troops to engage in counterinsurgency operations.


Edge published a book on Dangerous Ideas.

Steven Pinker notes that science seeks to discover what reality is. Dangerous ideas are discoveries about reality that destroy pleasant fantasies and delusions. He phrases it more politely, of course.

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