According to a report written by Bryan Bender for the Boston Globe, “Insurgents in Iraq have staged increasingly sophisticated attacks in recent weeks, according to US military assessments, moving beyond roadside bombings and suicide attacks to mount large-scale assaults against US and Iraqi forces and civilians,” prompting “some commanders to reexamine their belief that the insurgency was on the wane, even though the number of daily attacks has fallen since the landmark Jan. 30 election.”
“[T]hey worry that insurgents are making inroads toward sparking a full-blown sectarian war and offered cautions about recent predictions that the United States could significantly reduce its forces from the current 142,000 within a year.” The present US military deployment is unsustainable with an all-volunteer force. If insurgents succeed in forcing the US to resume a draft, they will be well on their way to inflicting another Vietnam-style humiliation on the United States.
[[R]etired Army General John] Keane took issue with those military officials who have suggested that the insurgency was waning because the number of attacks across the country had declined to about 50 a day, compared with more than 200 per day last year, according to Pentagon figures.
”It’s always dangerous to look at [the numbers of] enemy attacks,” said Keane, a Vietnam veteran and member of the Defense Policy Board, which advises Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. ”They can be very misleading, as much as the body counts in Vietnam. . . . It can lead to wrong conclusions.”
Keane has recently returned from a fact-finding mission to Iraq. Keane emphasized the resiliancy of insurgent forces.
Echoing Keane’s concerns, retired Army General George Joulwan cautioned against declaring military victory too soon.
”Never underestimate the enemy,” he said in an interview. ”The worst thing we can do is paint too rosy a picture. The insurgents may not be able to defeat us on the battlefield, but they have developed their strategy. Can we prevail in the end, yes. But I think it is going to take a long time.”
Time is something the US military may not have. The particularly frightening part is that the mostly Sunni insurgency seems to be seeking to provoke the Shi’ite majority. This is not a tactic which would likely be employed by a force worried about its own ability to sustain conflict. even if outnumbered by Shi’ites and outgunned by Americans. According to a story originally published in the Wall Street Journal, “Despite claims that the insurgency in Iraq has declined, an internal Army analysis finds that attacks haven’t necessarily lessened in recent months, but rather appear to have shifted away from U.S. troops to more vulnerable Iraqis.”
It is clear to the local population that US forces are failing to control the situation even in a small area. According to a story in the Belfast Telegraph, “The inability of the US army to secure the seven-mile road between Baghdad and the airport, also the site of the main US military base, has become a symbol of the failure of the US in Iraq. Heavily armoured US patrols, prone to open fire unpredictably, are regarded as being as dangerous as the insurgents.”