July 27, 2007

Conference Call: Ninewah Progress

I had the opportunity today to attend a conference call with Colonel Stephen Twitty, Commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Division-North (MND-N) on the progress in Ninewah. Col. Twitty had just completed a press briefing, which I could not catch, but he covered the same material with us. Better known as Ninevah, the province has been rife with al-Qaeda in Iraq elements, and the latest surge strategy aims to correct that situation.

Col. Twitty started off by noting they took command of the battle theater in December, and started by consolidating the battalion in Mosul. That's training the Iraqi army, and it has performed brilliantly, according to the Colonel. He noted some "interesting dynamics" in Ninewah. The average attacks per day has been cut in half in this province, which he credits to better training for native forces -- 40,000 of them in Ninevah alone -- and the new, aggressive tactics ordered this year. Progress is steady on security, and that has allowed the US to start a lot of reconstruction projects.

Note: Despite Robert Gates' fence-mending with Hillary Clinton over the withdrawal rhetoric coming from Congress, Col. Twitty confirms that the highly-publicized demands to retreat from Iraq have damaged his command's ability to get good intel from the local populace. It has left them distrustful of the Americans, and fearful of a takeover by the terrorists in the wake of our departure. See the Colonel's answer to my question at the bottom.

In his last comment at the end, Col. Twitty noted how difficult it is to get the media to come to Ninewah and his command to get a better sense of the progress we have made there. The blogger conference calls are all we have, apparently.


* Biggest story that Twitty would want publicized? -- The great work that the native forces are doing in Ninewah. Most of the operations conducted in the province are commanded by the Iraqi Army. The second-largest city in Iraq has only one American battalion, which is a tribute to their skill.

* AQI: Can you paint a picture of the AQI network in this province and its cooperation with the Sunni insurgencies? -- Biggest threats are AQI and Ansar al-Sunnah. They have a marriage of convenience. They will coordinate when necessary. On 16 May, the last serious offensive operation, the two organizations coordinated, but it mostly came to nothing. They're watching to ensure that the pressure in Diyala and Baghdad doesn't allow them to re-establish themselves in Ninewah. They do have a strong ability to regenerate leadership.

* Are there more foreign fighters in your area now? -- Not really; they've only captured a dozen or so in Ninewah. Most of the problems come from native insurgents. Not to say that none are coming in, but they're not apparent.

* EPTs and PRTs -- helpful? -- Twitty loved that question. They haved helped on completed projects and coordinating with local leaders. A great asset.

* What measures of effectiveness are used to get a sense of commitment to the central government? -- 3,000 new police are ready to come on line, three new battalions in the IA, all in Mosul, all locally recruited. That's a good measure of effectiveness and commitment. These are predominantly Sunni, and part of a reconciliation effort that will hopefully bring Sunnis into the mainstream. HUMINT reporting has increased "huge" since they first arrived in December. The 16 May attacks turned the locals against AQI and Ansar al Sunnah.

* Logistics and supply capacity? -- These Iraqi forces are weak in this area, and we need to put more pressure on the Iraqi government to fix this. They have problems sustaining themselves in fuel, ammo, and uniforms. They are getting training on logistics, but they need the goods.

* [My question] Withdrawal debate - has it made the Iraqis fearful and damaged HUMINT capabilities? -- "Absolutely". It comes up daily. They accuse us of betraying them, and have stopped giving good intel as a result. It's significant.

UPDATE: It should have read "three new battalions", not two. I've made the correction, thanks to DJ Elliott.


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Comments (9)

Posted by bulbasaur | July 27, 2007 11:19 AM

His comment on your question, whether cut & run talk hurts the cause, is demoralizing to me.

I wish democrats were willing to listen to this side of the story in Iraq. They never get past the slogans.

Yes, I do question their patriotism.

Posted by docjim505 | July 27, 2007 11:37 AM

[My question] Withdrawal debate - has it made the Iraqis fearful and damaged HUMINT capabilities? -- "Absolutely". It comes up daily. They accuse us of betraying them, and have stopped giving good intel as a result. It's significant.

Wow. You mean that people will stop cooperating with you when they think you're getting ready to sell them out???


I'm with bulbasaur. It would be nice if the dems would realize that their statements are harmful to the war effort, but they couldn't care less. Indeed, it's clear that they WANT defeat as they think that this is good for them politically.

Yes, I also question their patriotism.

Posted by unclesmrgol | July 27, 2007 12:21 PM

I stand with the others above. The Democrats (aka the Party of Slavery) are doing what they think will make them most electable -- they are not doing the right thing.

But I doubt that this proof that their position is actually hurting the peace prospects in Iraq will drive them to change it -- there's too much political capital tied up in the flock flying parallel to Cindy Sheehan here.

If our friends in Iraq think we've betrayed them or are on the verge of doing so, I wonder about what the al-Qaeda adversaries which the good Colonel can't talk to think -- they must be relishing their "impending victory" with glee.

Posted by DJ Elliott | July 27, 2007 12:32 PM

"3,000 new police are ready to come on line, two new battalions in the IA, all in Mosul, all locally recruited."

That is three new IA Battalions.
The IA is standardizing its Divisions at four Bdes each and 3rd Div only has three Bdes.

Posted by Pho | July 27, 2007 12:50 PM

If we were "debating" leaving, I could well imagine it not having a significant impact on the confidence of the Iraqi people, or potential informants.

But we aren't having a debate, are we? Is screaming "I DEMAND WE LEAVE NOW!!!" usually considered a debate tactic? Where I come from that's more of a demand, than a debate.

Should we stay or go, why, and when... is a debate. Reasonable people debate. Reasonable debate is usually helpful. Even dissent is reasonable, unless it is taken to extreme.

Screaming "leave now" regardless of the consequences is not debate. Calling the President a war criminal when the facts don't indicate such... is not dissent.

That... undermines much of what this Col in particular, and the entire force in general, are trying to accomplish.

Anyone saying otherwise, just can't be taken seriously in my opinion. Neither can a congressperson (particularly a presidential candidate) who voted to start this dance, and absolves themselves of responsibility by claiming they didn't do their homework and check their "facts" and blaming someone else for their action.

I wish more people would look at the crop of politicians we have and say "You voted to start the dance, you'd better be prepared to finish it. And I can't trust you with anything more serious than tacos for lunch... if you can't do that."

That's probably the only admirable quality the President has for me currently. At least when he jumped into the thing he was and still apears to be serious about finishing it. And it's why none of the serious Democrat contenders for 08 are suitable alternatives to the Republican field that I don't much care for either.

Posted by unclesmrgol | July 27, 2007 2:56 PM


Your position seemingly absolves Obama, since the kid wasn't even a federal office holder at the time of the invasion.

Of course, he's the candidate who claims that the possibility of genocide is insufficient reason for us to remain in Iraq, but who would send our military into Darfur. Certainly not a "seamless garb" kind of guy.

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | July 27, 2007 3:14 PM


You're confusing a silvery tongue with coherence. ;) That observation (of Darfur) from the farthest Left tickles me. Commit troops there while simultaneously insisting upon our immediate withdrawal from Iraq. I don't care how smooth one's speech is. Advancing such a position is categorically contradictory to an extent that should disqualify a candidacy. Perhaps he could write inane poetry rather than try to run a country.

Posted by swabjockey05 | July 27, 2007 8:18 PM


You miss the point of the moonbats....

We should pull out of Iraq because it IS IN our National Interest to be there....

We should go into Darfur because it IS NOT in our National Interest to be there...

Posted by Thomas Jackson | July 27, 2007 10:59 PM

Why is it the impact of withdrawal on Iraqi cooperation with the USA is never asked of the dhimmiecrats? Why isn't the MSM asking them how a withdrawal from Iraq enhances our national security and our allies?

The MSM is just recycling the same old memes from Vietnam.