Monday, April 28, 2008

Backward Iraqis

Definition: complex
Antonyms: naïve, unsophisticated
Definition: complex, advanced
Antonyms: easy, naïve, simple, slow, unsophisticated
Definition: cosmopolitan, cultured
Antonyms: backward, crude, naive, uncultivated, uncultured, unrefined, unsophisticated

This blogger remains surprised at the continued insistence by the U.S. military and administration that the Iraqis, or at least the Iraqi insurgents, are unsophisticated rubes…

Case in point the EFP, or Explosively Formed Penetrator, a “sophisticated” roadside bomb that has been plaguing coalition forces. So “sophisticated” that Iraqis surely aren’t smart enough to make them themselves, and the existence of EFPs is prima facie evidence that the Iranians are smuggling these “advanced” devices to their militia friends in Iraq.

Ignore the fact that EFPs are simply a variant of a shaped charge, and that shaped charges have been around since before World War II. This technology has been used in anti-tank weaponry since 1940. High explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds are made of an explosive shaped charge that uses a variant of the Munroe effect (itself dating to 1888) to create a high-velocity jet of molten metal that can penetrate solid armor. With the tens or hundreds of thousands of tons of munitions from the Saddam era all over Iraq it’s not a stretch that knowledge re this old technology was widespread among members of the old Iraqi military. The Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF – Red Army Faction a.k.a Baader-Meinhof Gang) murdered a German banker in 1989 using a EFP. And most of the pictures of these “sophisticated” weapons that have been released by the military have had a distinctly artisanal look (e.g. see link below) about them…

A second example consists of “sophisticated” attacks carried out in Iraq. For example, the January 2007 attack on government ministry buildings in Karbala surely had to be carried out by Iranian infiltrators, given “the sophistication of the attack and the level of coordination necessary.” This meme has been repeated on several occasions since.

I have seen that Sun Tzu is required reading for the Marines and for COIN experts, but for some unknown reason they are ignoring his maxim - “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” Underestimating the enemy, internalizing Rumsfeld’s “dead ender” propaganda, assuming that they are stupid, etc. is a big error paid for in lives.

Iranian weapons in Iraq

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