In the aftermath of the Mosul bombing last week, the Washington Post reported comments made by former DIA analyst Jeffrey White that the next phase could be a full frontal assault on an American military base. At the time, I wrote that such an attack would be so blindingly stupid that American military planners should welcome it. I also wrote that Iraqi terrorists were lunatics, not idiots, and that the Saddam remnants knw better than to take on American forces in open battle.
Apparently I overestimated the intelligence of the enemy:
United States troops and warplanes killed at least 25 insurgents who used car bombs and rocket-propelled grenades to try to overrun an American combat outpost in Mosul on Wednesday afternoon, the American military said. It was the fiercest fighting the restive northern city has seen in weeks. …
The attack began about 3:45 p.m., when insurgents armed with a car bomb tried to blow down the concrete barriers of the combat outpost, which is manned by a small force of soldiers. An armored military vehicle then sped to the outpost.
The armored vehicle “found itself pretty much in the middle” of a improvised car and roadside bombs that had been set up to attack any American vehicles coming to the aid of the outpost, said Lt. Col. Paul Hastings, a military spokesman in Mosul, using military acronyms for improvised roadside bombs and car bombs. The armored vehicle, he said, fired its .50-caliber machine gun to explode or disable the bombs, and proceeded to the outpost.
There, the American troops were attacked by a coordinated force of about 50 insurgents who fired rocket-propelled grenades and semiautomatic weapons.
So far, it sounds like a well-planned attack. The enemy put the Americans into a booby-trapped corner and pressed their attack with coordination and skill. It sounds like the worst fears of the Washington Post came true.
And then …
At that point, two F-18 and two F-14 military jets swooped down on strafing runs and also fired Maverick missiles, wiping out much of the insurgent force. “That’s when the close-air support came in and did a job on them,” Colonel Hastings said.
So much for the big fear of a frontal assault.
That’s why a frontal attack on American forces makes no sense whatsoever. One would suppose that insurgents fighting an asymmetrical war would understand that issue and, in fact, have that provide the overriding reason for fighting asymmetrically in the first place. The sudden change to frontal assaults either demonstrate a degradation in insurgent leadership or a desperation to try every last option to drive the Americans out. It could also be a combination of both, especially after the heavy losses suffered by terrorist forces in Fallujah.
The stupidity and desperation of Zarqawi’s terrorists show that the upcoming elections have them rattled and the American military has them on the run. A few more assaults like this and even their sympathizers in the Sunni Triangle will understand their cluelessness.