[FoRK] Fallujah and the River War

Jim Whitehead ejw at cs.ucsc.edu
Wed Nov 17 09:53:02 PST 2004


The Fallujah battle, which is just winding down, should be seen in the
context a wider campaign against the enemy in the Sunni triangle.


By plotting the enemy strongholds on the map it is at once evident that they
are coextensive with two pathways. The first goes northward along the
Euphrates from western Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, Hadithah, Anah and
Qusabayah -- along the river and road from Baghdad to the Syrian border. The
omission of Qusabayah from mention is very peculiar, since it has been the
scene of battalion sized battles between infiltrators and Marines guarding
the Syrian frontier since the earliest post-OIF days, but I include it here
on that account. The second set of towns goes northeast along the Tigris
towards Tikrit and parts of Kurdistan: Hawijah, Balad and Samarra. A spur
runs off toward the Iranian border: Baqubah and Baladruz, on the road to the
Iran. It is hard not to think that we are looking at their lines of

The towns along these pathways are probably waystations where men and
weapons can be smuggled by stages, a kind of Sunni Ho Chi Minh  Trail. My
own guess is they are probably superimposed on traditional smuggling routes
from Syria and Iran which have now been converted to serve the enemy cause.
I caution the reader that this is guesswork, but I think it is correct. The
discovery of carbomb factories in Fallujah suggests that town was the
easternmost terminus of a finger that extended straight from the Syrian
border, a final launching pad where enemy delivery systems were "bombed up"
for their sorties at US targets in the city or as convoys made their way
along the highways west of Baghdad.

Taking Fallujah then, was not merely a symbolic political act to reduce a
'symbol of defiance', but a sound operational move. It interdicts the
conveyor belt of destruction that flowed from the Syrian border towards
Baghdad. The logical next step is to cut the line again near the Syrian
border, perhaps at Anah, so that by taking out both ends the middle is left
unsupported. Alternatively, the US could roll up the enemy line of
communication going north by taking out Ramadi which would force the enemy
to sortie from Haditha, a little ville a lot farther from Baghdad. Although
this will not totally destroy the insurgency, it will throttle movement
along their lines of communication considerably. Guerilla warfare, like all
warfare, is logistics. It just takes different forms.

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