Monday, February 19, 2007
The Shape Of Things To Come?
This article in the Times about a bold, co-ordinated daylight attack on a US outpost north of Baghdad is troubling , because it describes a sophisticated insurgency that's capable of picking off isolated American units and inflicting heavy casualties (2 dead, 17 wounded). Casualties that could have been considerably higher given that four helicopters were flown in to evacuate American wounded while the firefight was still going on.
Remember that the Surge plan for Baghdad calls for not just sweeping the city, but quartering American troops outside the fortified Green Zone in neighborhood outposts. Which makes them particularly vulnerable to this kind of attack.
Up to now I'd been basing my reaction to the troop escalation in Baghdad on two assumptions. One, that it would have a short-term impact on that city's level of violence by displacing attacks to other areas of the country. Two, that whatever violence continued in Baghdad would not be directed at American troops.
Now it looks like the Sunnis have decided to take the fight elsewhere while continuing to blow up civilians in Baghdad. And if that continues, it's a safe bet the Shiites won't be laying low for long. Add in an insurgency that's shown it's willing and able to inflict damage in well-coordinated conventional attacks, and it looks like a volatile mix just got even more volatile.