A blind army in Iraq

News & Politics

Considering that the L.A. Times is still clinging to the belief that Zarqawi is the godfather of the Iraqi insurgency, it managed to convey the central weakness of our occupation: We have no counter-intelligence. I've replaced the references to Zarqawi with more accurate terms:

"There is a huge network of intelligence operatives over there who are watching our every move. And they are watching every time we recruit an Iraqi to come back and inform to us about [who is killing our soldiers in IED attacks]," said one U.S. Justice Department counter-terrorism official, who is familiar with the campaign to track down [insurgents, any insurgents]. "And every time we have been able to do that, the person has ended up dead."
Later, a more honest assessment: "Eavesdropping satellites, unmanned drones and even U-2 spy planes are gathering intelligence on the insurgency, some of them specifically watching for Zarqawi, the officials confirmed."

The last sentence in the piece is thankfully Zarqawi free: "There's no upside for helping the Americans," one U.S. counter-terrorism official said. "Even if you were willing to make a personal sacrifice" to help the U.S. effort, "they'll go after your family. Actionable intelligence is a challenge in any country, but particularly so in Iraq."

Gary Brecher, the War Nerd columnist for the eXile, wrote recently about why Iraqi insurgents manage to kill our soldiers in IED attacks with impunity:
The stats are clear: IED victims make up a bigger chunk of our casualties every month. Over the last six months, IEDs have caused 63% of US combat deaths. Last month (October 2005) was typical: out of 96 US troops killed, IEDs were responsible for 57.
Compare that with April 2004, a terrible month when we lost 140 troops. Back then the insurgents relied on RPGs and small arms. Only 19 of our 140 KIA that month-barely more than a tenth-were killed by IEDs.
The insurgents have decided to do it the easy way. As long as they can use IEDs, their low-tech standoff weapon, why should they risk close combat?
The real question is why they can get away with it. And here-well, I hate to keep saying this, but somebody needs to. The reason they can do it is because we still have NO INTEL on them. It's the biggest failure of the war, and nobody talks about it. CI warfare is about people, not hardware. We're all hardware and no intelligence, like a Tim Allen show.

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