Peace Like A River

It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The stones in the mosaic

In this post, I detailed the seven operations conducted in Ramadi in November and December, as part of the larger effort to secure that area for the elections last Thursday.

A graphic in the Dec 14 issue (PDF) of This Week In Iraq shows the locations of these operations. (Operation Skinner is not shown on this graphic. That operation was in central Ramadi.)

(click the thumbnail for a graphic of the Ramadi operations)

In this post, I gave a nod to the operations all across Iraq leading up to the elections. Did they have an impact? Here is a graphic from the same issue TWIR showing a steep decline in attacks from October to November.

The numbers, benign and abstract on the screen, do not adequately convey the hard work, the sacrifice, the courage on the part of the US and Iraqi forces that went into making these numbers a reality. It is human sweat, blood and tears that make the numbers on charts like this change. Each house searched by a platoon, each door knocked down, each alley driven down, each patrol, each weapons cache dug up, each Iraqi interviewed for leads, they are all the small stones that make up the larger mosaic of contuining success in Iraq.

(click the thumbnail for a graphic showing the decline in enemy activity)

Also in TWIR, Gen. Casey gives us an idea of what to look for in the coming months in Iraq. With the Iraqi army performing better with each passing month, the Coalition would like to focus on helping the Iraqi government develop effective institutions.

However, to ensure the military and police maintain the momentum they have achieved, the next year will see a focus on enhancing the capacity of various ministries, such as the Ministry of Defense, Interior, Finance and Justice. Increasing ministerial capacity is key to making the elections decisive, supporting the newly elected government and maintaining the momentum achieved over the past two years. Remember, the elections are not the end. They are only the beginning.

No one is running around waving their hands, shrieking, wondering what ever will we do in Iraq. Mountains are being moved in Iraq, by Americans and Iraqis, to achieve success. Is it not a sign of how far we have come, that the Coalition can consider the progress of the Iraqi army well in hand, and that they can start to focus on the Iraqi government?

Update: Speaking of the progress of the Iraqi army, on Dec 19 Operation Moonlight got underway near Ubaydi, one of the towns targeted in Steel Curtain. This is an Iraqi ballgame, with some support from US forces.

Iraqi Army soldiers from three Iraqi battalions are conducting a cordon and knock operation east of Ubaydi. The Iraqi soldiers are being supported by 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, Regimental Combat Team-2 and 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward).

This is the first large-scale operation planned and executed by Iraqi soldiers of the 1st Brigade. The operation objective of Moonlight is to disrupt insurgent activity along the northern and southern banks of the Euphrates River near Ubaydi.

The Iraqis are doing the work the US forces would've done a few months ago. This operation, coming in the wake of Steel Curtain, is to just make sure the bad guys don't creep back into these western river towns. It is the kind of operation done by a permanent security presence. It is a sign of a maturing Iraqi army.


  • At Mon Dec 19, 12:35:00 AM, Joey said…

    Great post! I haven't seen any statistical looks at the Iraqi violence, and greatly appreciate this one. Clearly, significant progress is being made in Iraq - and now there are the numbers to prove it.

    If you do a follow-up post, you may want to look at trends in violence for specific months over the last few years. For example, in 2003 and 2004, violence levels (as measured by fatalities and number of attacks) in November spiked by 100%-300% compared to other months. However, your graphs show a significant decrease for November compared to October. I have never seen that before. It is certainly good news, and the cause behind it should be explained more fully. I think you have the wits to do just that.

  • At Mon Dec 19, 09:16:00 AM, jngriff said…

    Thanks for all your excellent sleuthing, Jeff. You give us hard news, that is real facts. Which is always missing from the MSM. It's exactly what the world needs.

  • At Mon Dec 19, 09:34:00 AM, Jeff said…

    That's an idea, Joey. I, too, wondered specifically what goes into those numbers, the difference between October and November. Is it just that a whole lot of bad guys were killed, etc...? I'll see what I can find.

    Thanks, John. The sad thing is I'm just a guy sitting at his computer doing this for free. You'd think the MSM, with all its resources, could do a tremendous job putting all of this in context.


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