August 5, 2005

Al-Hadithah - again?

After the loss of two dozen Marines in combat in the Al-Hadithah area, about 1000 Marines and Iraqi special forces supported by airpower are mounting another offensive around the city that straddles the main infiltration route from Syria along the Euphrates River.

This is a necessary action - these pockets of insurgency must be eradicated. The question, though, is why this pocket continues to exist. There was an offensive earlier this year in this region. So what happened? Unfortunately, immediately after successfully conducting the operation, American forces moved to other fights, other areas. When they do this, they cede the territory to the insurgents. Why? Because then, and probably even now, there are not enough American forces to adequately maintain security, nor are there enough trained and capable Iraqi forces to do the job. That day may come, but it does not appear to be imminent.

So, after a few days of searching, arresting and fighting, the Marines will once again withdraw from Al-Hadithah, and the insurgents will return. We have to break this cycle.

A recent AP-Ipsos poll indicates that only about 38 percent of Americans approve of the way President Bush is handling the war in Iraq. I am not in that number. While supportive of the effort in Iraq, I think that the President and Secretary of Defense are pursuing it the wrong way. This strategy only confirms my belief.