Washington Post    November 28, 2006

Anbar Picture Grows Clearer, and Bleaker

By Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks

The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq or counter al-Qaeda's rising popularity there, according to newly disclosed details from a classified Marine Corps intelligence report that set off debate in recent months about the military's mission in Anbar province.

The Marines recently filed an updated version of that assessment that stood by its conclusions and stated that, as of mid-November, the problems in troubled Anbar province have not improved, a senior U.S. intelligence official said yesterday. "The fundamental questions of lack of control, growth of the insurgency and criminality" remain the same, the official said. The Marines' August memo, a copy of which was shared with The Washington Post, is far bleaker than some officials suggested when they described it in late summer. The report describes Iraq's Sunni minority as "embroiled in a daily fight for survival," fearful of "pogroms" by the Shiite majority and increasingly dependent on al-Qaeda in Iraq as its only hope against growing Iranian dominance across the capital.

True or not, the memo says, "from the Sunni perspective, their greatest fears have been realized: Iran controls Baghdad and Anbaris have been marginalized." Moreover, most Sunnis now believe it would be unwise to count on or help U.S. forces because they are seen as likely to leave the country before imposing stability.

Between al-Qaeda's violence, Iran's influence and an expected U.S. drawdown, "the social and political situation has deteriorated to a point" that U.S. and Iraqi troops "are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in al-Anbar," the assessment found. In Anbar province alone, at least 90 U.S. troops have died since Sept. 1.

The Post first reported on the memo's existence in September, as it was being circulated among military and national security officials. Several officials who read the report described its conclusions as grim. But the contents have not previously been made public. Read as a complete assessment, it paints a stark portrait of a failed province and of the country's Sunnis -- once dominant under Saddam Hussein -- now desperate, fearful and impoverished. They have been increasingly abandoned by religious and political leaders who have fled to neighboring countries, and other leaders have been assassinated. And unlike Iraq's Shiite majority, or Kurdish groups in the north, the Sunnis are without oil and other natural resources. The report notes that illicit oil trading is providing millions of dollars to al-Qaeda while "official profits appear to feed Shiite cronyism in Baghdad."

As a result, "the potential for economic revival appears to be nonexistent" in Anbar, the report says. The Iraqi government, dominated by Iranian-backed Shiites, has not paid salaries for Anbar officials and Iraqi forces stationed there. Anbar's resources and its ability to impose order are depicted as limited at best. "Despite the success of the December elections, nearly all government institutions from the village to provincial levels have disintegrated or have been thoroughly corrupted and infiltrated by Al Qaeda in Iraq," or a smattering of other insurgent groups, the report says.

The five-page report -- written by Col. Peter Devlin, a senior and seasoned military intelligence officer with the Marine Expeditionary Force -- is marked secret, for dissemination to U.S. and allied troops in Iraq only. It does not appear to have been made available to Iraqi national forces fighting alongside Americans. The report, "State of the Insurgency in Al-Anbar," focuses on conditions in the province that is home to 1.25 million Iraqis, most of whom live in violence-ridden towns such as Fallujah, Haditha, Hit, Qaim and Ramadi.

Devlin wrote that attacks on civilians rose 57 percent between February and August of this year. "Although it is likely that attack levels have peaked, the steady rise in attacks from mid-2003 to 2006 indicates a clear failure to defeat the insurgency in al-Anbar." Devlin suggested that without the deployment of an additional U.S. military division -- 15,000 to 20,000 troops -- plus billions of dollars in aid to the province, "there is nothing" U.S. troops "can do to influence" the insurgency. He described al-Qaeda in Iraq as the "dominate organization of influence in al-Anbar," surpassing all other groups, the Iraqi government and U.S. troops "in its ability to control the day-to-day life of the average Sunni."

Al-Qaeda itself, now an "integral part of the social fabric of western Iraq," has become so entrenched, autonomous and financially independent that U.S. forces no longer have the option "for a decapitating strike that would cripple the organization," the report says. That is why, it says, the death of al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in June "had so little impact on the structure and capabilities of al-Qaeda," especially in Anbar province.

The senior intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his work, said yesterday that he largely agrees with Devlin's assessment, except that he thinks it overstates the role of al-Qaeda in the province. "We argue that it is a major element in Anbar, but it is not the largest or most dominant group," he said.

In a final section of the report, titled "Way Ahead," Devlin outlined several possibilities for bringing stability to the area, including establishing a Sunni state in Anbar, creating a local paramilitary force to protect Sunnis and to offset Iranian influence, shifting local budget controls, and strengthening a committed Iraqi police force that has "proven remarkably resilient in most areas." Devlin ended the assessment by saying that while violence has surged, the presence of U.S. troops in Anbar has had "a real suppressive effect on the insurgency." He said the suffering of "Anbar's citizens undoubtedly would be far worse now if it was not for the very effective efforts" of U.S. forces. The Marine Corps headquarters had no comment on the August report or the updated assessment, Lt. Col. Scott J. Fazekas, a spokesman, said yesterday.

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.
 

COMMENTS

After Japan capitulated in 1945, with a vision to reconciliate and reconstruct promptly and effectively, but despite the undeniable responsibility for Japans war crimes, a wise, principled and history-conscious U.S. General Douglas MacArthur kept its Emperor in place - at a distance, but still. Why, while he's still alive, not treat the former Iraqi President as an asset, as a perhaps crucial element for bringing Iraq back from the abyss? E.g. by way of recognizing and providing for the still-valid international guarantees concerning minority and private property rights which the League of Nations wrote into the fundamental document preceding the creation of Iraq in 1932 (www.solami.com/UNGA.htm). Which have already been accepted by the leaders of all constitutive ethnic, cultural and religious communities of the Mosul Vilayet (.../invitation.htm). Which model could be adapted to suit the conditions of the other Iraqi vilayets (.../recres.htm) - with or without a Principality of Tikrit tied into a new Iraqi Confederation. And whose realization might be helped by a more active role by such international garantors as France and Iraqs neighbors, particularly the Kingdom of Jordan in the sense of the UN paper "PROPOSED CONFLICT RESOLUTION PATHWAYS FOR IRAQ" E/CN.4/1994/NGO/48 (.../a3b.htm#Shiite). Where are the Churchills and MacArthurs of today?
By solami | Nov 28, 2006 6:18:01 AM | Request Removal

re: my blog solami ¦ Nov 28, 2006 6:18:01 As this blog - regretfully - automatically amputates internet addresses, I try to circumvent that obstacle to basic information, better understanding and less misunderstanding by inviting those interested to send me an email [swissbit@solami.com]; if this trick doesnt do it: 3w.solami.com is the core address, stands for and should be typed instead of the 3 dots given in the short addresses. So the non-amputated key phrase should end with 3w.solami.com/UNGA.htm and read as follows: E.g. by way of recognizing and providing for the still-valid international guarantees concerning minority and private property rights which the League of Nations wrote into the fundamental document preceding the creation of Iraq in 1932 .../UNGA.htm
By solami | Nov 28, 2006 5:10:14 PM | Request Removal

The Marines knew this in September and did nothing to change their strategy? Whats wrong with them? --- The Democrats didnt have a plan? Sure we did, and it wasnt the two false choices Bush presented to the nation. --- Here it is again: 1 Stop doing police work with the army. 2 Withdraw our troops to the border and oil field regions. 3 Partition the country into 3 states, each to share oil revenues, and guaranteed a certain number of seats in parliment. Each state would be responsible for their own internal security. 4 Start an honest dialong with Iraqs neighbors. 5 Begin a phased drawdown of our troops. --- Why wait for the Baker commission? They werent elected, and what does a Supreme Court justice know about international security anyway? Nothing.
By cpwash | Nov 28, 2006 6:19:37 AM | Request Removal

To sum it up: Al-Qaeda has become entrenched, autonomous and financially independent in western Iraq. Thats great. Youve done a heckofajob Rummy.
By stupit2001 | Nov 27, 2006 9:37:24 PM | Request Removal

Its like it was in Crusader times. The Christian outsiders are unable to bring in enough men with good enough tactics to defeat the Moslem hordes. So they are ceding territory to the indigenous people, falling back into their castles. By this, I mean the so-called Green Zone and the permanent bases the U.S. is building to try and hold sway over its oil colony. And like the Crusaders, they will be driven out of Babylonia, at great cost in lives among the invaders and locals. How much longer will the killing go on? We can only wish that King George the Chicken-Hawked will have the same outcome as King Richard the Lion-Hearted...
By Bukkonen | Nov 27, 2006 9:37:35 PM | Request Removal

Anbar Province will be the new Afghanistan. Nice going, Pres. Fredo!
By piniella | Nov 27, 2006 9:46:06 PM | Request Removal

Coming from a family of Marines this makes me cry, and wish I could understand how this administration could not prepare for reality. God bless every U.S Soldier and family everywhere, at this saddened holiday season.
By robertjgray94103 | Nov 27, 2006 9:53:13 PM | Request Removal

NEWS-FLASH:AWOL.........IF YOUR IN ROTATION TO GO BACK IN COUNTRY DONT!.GO TO CANADA
By hankomatic1 | Nov 27, 2006 10:07:51 PM | Request Removal

If Anwar is un-winnable - why keep fighting there ? 6 Americans died their in just last 2-3 days. I am sure US army kills atleat 10-20 Iraqi insurgents for every American killed. So why not stop this mindless carnage borne out of a invasion and occupation based on lies. Just out of mercy.
By shoreyr | Nov 27, 2006 10:14:01 PM | Request Removal

Al-Qaedas control of Iraq before the United States invasion: Zero percent. Al-Qaedas control of Iraq 3 1/2 years after the United States invasion: 25 percent and growing. Bush will be remembered as the man that single-handedly created the newly-partitioned Al-Qaeda Republic of Iraq. All it took were a few thousand dead American soldiers and a few hundred thousand dead Iraqi citizens. And close to a trillion dollars from the American taxpayers wallets. Thats one heck of a legacy there, Bushie.
By munkle | Nov 27, 2006 10:18:59 PM | Request Removal

Marines opt to lose one for the gripper.
By slim | Nov 27, 2006 10:35:59 PM | Request Removal

Bleak. If the ratio of 7:1 holds, were looking at 90 KIA and 560 WIA. Not a pretty picture. And, how long have we been throwing good lives into a rathole? Id guess that Anbar Province is going to be the Sunni stronghold if the country actually decides to partition it could be the bastion of Sunni militia and quasi military forces that will attack Shia and Kurds if the Sunni establishment of Islam click into action. There is every reason to believe that the next major phase of violence in Iraq will be thousands of Sunni firebrands, militants, extremists, Wahabists, Salafists ... pour into Iraq and show a willingness to die killing Shiites. Vali Nasrs book, The Shia Revival, demonstrates that these type of dynamics will be the next clear line of departure in violence. Thats bad news for the Marines and Army troops fighting in Anbar Province. At some point, theyll represent an impediment that is interfering with Sunni Islamic establishment forces attempts to take back Iraq from the Shia. As that violence escalates, what were seeing now, Id guess, will look like little kiddies playing at Daycare center. As always: thank you, King George Prince of Darkness Dick Cheney Turqemado Donnie Rumsfeld for destroying Iraq. We are so proud to be Americans under your guidance!!!
By zennhead | Nov 27, 2006 10:45:06 PM | Request Removal

WOULD THE LAST BUSH / CHENEY SUPPORTER PLEASE TURN OUT THE LIGHTS WHEN YOU LEAVE WASHINGTON? THANK YOU.
By washingtonpost | Nov 27, 2006 11:04:52 PM | Request Removal

This is just further evidence that Bush-Cheney Corp. are CRIMINALS. Misusing our military for B-C Corp. lies and greed is probably the most unpatriotic and traitorous act I can think of short of being a terrorist. To paraphrase Monty Python, Thats a nice army youve got there. Be a shame if something happened to it. Say it were sold to Halliburton? GIVE OUR TROOPS THE JUSTICE THEY DESERVE. DEMAND IMPEACHMENT AND CRIMINAL PROSECUTION OF BUSH-CHENEY-WOLOFWITZ-PNAC!
By foolsuperior | Nov 27, 2006 11:14:33 PM | Request Removal

Actually foolsuperior, the German court, which patterned their global reach laws after Republican pushed laws in the US, may do the job for you after DUMBBYA and TRICKY-DICKY leave office.
By washingtonpost | Nov 27, 2006 11:24:30 PM | Request Removal

The US must stay in Iraq until Al Queda has been destroyed!!!! If it be 10 years or a hundred, our brave troops will prevail!!! All we need to win is to stop the Liberal Media from reporting and let the real men fight!!! I am sure we have all the troops we need with Stop-Loss programs and extended redeployments doing the job!!! Remember!!! We are fighting Al Queda in Iraq so we wont fight them in the US!!!
By aldous | Nov 28, 2006 12:09:26 AM | Request Removal

Excuse me, Ive been in coma the last three years and I just woke up. Is the world a safer place now without Saddam??
By tribe3 | Nov 28, 2006 12:19:29 AM | Request Removal

So, Iranian agent Ahmed Chalabi convinces the Bush team to remove Saddam, which is Irans number one foreign policy goal. Reagan supported Saddam, butcher that he was, as a counterweight to Iranian power. Now that Bush has handed the Middle East to Iran on a silver platter he is suddenly alarmed at their growing power. Talk about a strategic blunder! Now if only we had allowed Mossadeq to remain in power, we might have a socialist government in Iran, but it would be far better than the mullahs. Just goes to show that so-called covert operations end up being glaringly obvious in the light of history. What a mess, and the establishment and the media still ignore the full measure of Bushs folly. All this to execute the Cheney energy plan, which basically consisted of grabbing Iraqs oil. Even if the US manages to force the present government to sign contracts ceding us long-term control of Iraqi oil, how are we ever going to enforce them? Too bad most of the discourse about this issue is so degraded. The media seems incapable of sustaining a narrative based on facts. The media are a big part of the problem here.
By md_spiers | Nov 28, 2006 1:01:44 AM | Request Removal

Bush violated Rule #1 in Machiavellis The Prince: Never, ever take an action that will strengthen the hand of a local power. By removing Saddam from power, he completely destroyed the balance of power that maintained a check on Iran. This mess will haunt us for 20 years - mark my words. The real irony is the U.S. has made the same fatal mistake the USSR did when it invaded Afghanistan: huburis. We took one look at the barbarians and thought well kick their ass with our $100M weapon systems and theyll fall in line. It didnt work in Vietnam, it didnt work in Afghanistan and no matter what the neocons think it wont work in Iraq or anywhere else. Short of nuking the place and wiping out everyone which Machiavelli would recommend, weve lost the war.
By john.f.titor | Nov 28, 2006 2:20:25 AM | Request Removal

The news that Al Qaeda is well entrenched in Iraq proves that the war on terror is failed . Imagine the consequences if the oil is controlled by Al Qaeda ,once the American troops withdraw from Iraq, nay in a phased out manner!. Why not reinstate Saddam offering him reprieve ,rescind the death sentence ?. Considering the ground realities and the failure of Maliki and company , the PM who is wading through the Iraqi troubled waters one would think ,though do not hold brief for him, that Saddam if allowed by the Bush and Blair company to stage a come back and to re-organize his Army , will prove better than the present politicians who created mess and failed to contain the sectarian civil war as Kofi Annan described!. And you can check-mate Al Qaeda and Taliban influence. No doubt Saddam has insulted Senior Bush but he has suffered enough, paid dearly and must have repented sotto voce for his sins. Even now the Americans should realize that their pet theme “regime change “ could be brought by force but it does not last long nor could they foist democracy on a unwilling country .If the Bush administration really serious to fight against terrorism , the US troops should remain in Iraq for one more year till the civil war is over and normalcy is restored. Allow any radical leader to take over the reigns of power. Democracy is “foreign” to Islamic countries and moderates will never reign in power. Remember that those who indulges in are anti-West rhetoric more so against US will gain greater clout , survive and rule the roost than the propped- up ones in the Middle East. Otherwise the Al Qaeda will gain where the US loses albeit with heavy cost !.
By ravantsa | Nov 28, 2006 2:52:49 AM | Request Removal

Yonkers, NY, 28 Nov. 2006. There is no way the Iraqi and the U.S. governments could find themselves in a position to implement Devlins recommendations on how to stabilize Anbar province. Bring in 20,000 more U.S. troops? How in the world could Central Command and the Pentagon do this when they are already severely overstretched right now? The hard reality is that Anbar might as well be considered lost to al-Qaeda. U.S. forces now in Anbar might as well be pulled out of there and reassigned to Baghdad. Mariano Patalinjug. MarPatalinjug@aol.com
By MarPatalinjug | Nov 28, 2006 5:12:16 AM | Request Removal

Ravantsa, we should stay until normalcy is restored in Iraq? Russia, China, Iran, Sryia are some of the many countries offering insurgent arms and logistical support. Maybe its payback for the US supporting Iraq agianst Iran, Taiwan against China, Israel against Syria, Taliban agianst Russia. Our past foreign policy decisions are coming back to haunt us.
By fieldmice | Nov 28, 2006 5:14:05 AM | Request Removal

Shred all copies of the report and the problem will go away.
By kuseldavid | Nov 28, 2006 5:30:31 AM | Request Removal

The Marines knew this in September and did nothing to change their strategy? Whats wrong with them? --- The Democrats didnt have a plan? Sure we did, and it wasnt the two false choices Bush presented to the nation. --- Here it is again: 1 Stop doing police work with the army. 2 Withdraw our troops to the border and oil field regions. 3 Partition the country into 3 states, each to share oil revenues, and guaranteed a certain number of seats in parliment. Each state would be responsible for their own internal security. 4 Start an honest dialong with Iraqs neighbors. 5 Begin a phased drawdown of our troops. --- Why wait for the Baker commission? They werent elected, and what does a Supreme Court justice know about international security anyway? Nothing.
By cpwash | Nov 28, 2006 6:19:37 AM | Request Removal

Of course this is at root the fault of the Republican party and above all the arrogant majority of the American people who supported them both before the war and after, in 2004. But the Generals bear a heavy burden of responsibility for the current impasse. They want out of Iraq, they want out now, and they want out bad, but they wont say it publicly because theyre hoping civilians will make the decision so the military can blame this defeat on weak will at home rather than the real causes - massive incompetence at nearly every level of command, and a flawed concept at the outset. Gen Abizaid, on March 16, gave testimony to Congress painting a rosy picture of progress in Iraq. He then crossed the street to Jack Murthas office in the Rayburn building. Sitting with Murtha, he held his thumb and finger a quarter-inch from each other, and said: Were that far apart END QUOTE. Yet here he is, back again before Congress, saying everything is ok and he doesnt want a pullout or drawdown. Yes he does, he just doesnt want to take the responsibility of asking for it. The generals have been priming politicians like Hagel, Shays, Warner and Murtha for over two years. These guys are delivering the message that the generals lack the balls to deliver themselves. All this prevarication, which will drag on for years and kill hundreds of thousands more, is aimed purely at salvaging some American military prestige, and allowing commanders to claim they never lost on the ground but were stabbed in the back. What a waste of time. The world is already profoundly unimpressed with the US military and knows a defeat when it sees it. Never in history did a country get less bang for its buck.
By Bud0 | Nov 28, 2006 7:46:20 AM | Request Removal

It is really hard to believe that anyone could make such a mess, unintentionally.
By DAD693 | Nov 28, 2006 7:56:13 AM | Request Removal

Im not talking about their ability to use their weapons, by the way. We all know how good they are at blowing things up. Im talking about their ability to use their brains. And this is only going to get worse, because the best commander yet to serve in Iraq, Lt Gen Chiarelli, the brains behind the clueless frontman Casey, is now being rotated out. And his replacement is one of the worst officers ever to serve in Iraq, Lt Gen Odierno, who as 4th Inf Div CO did more than almost any other commander to botch the occupation and inflame the insurgency. His performance merited a war crimes tribunal, but instead he got this promotion and is being sent back to f**k up at an even higher level. If the situaion in Iraq can possibly be made any worse, Odierno is the man to do it.
By Bud0 | Nov 28, 2006 7:56:40 AM | Request Removal

Iraq is a failed state, because America is a rogue state.
By kevrobb | Nov 28, 2006 8:02:26 AM | Request Removal

How is it that the US military with all its money and expensive toys regularly gets its arse kicked black and blue by much smaller, poorer nations? It is a sure sign of the decline of an empire. Clueless leadership, pitiful execution. The world needs America to be an intelligent, honourable and wise country - not what weve got at the moment.
By harkadahl | Nov 28, 2006 8:15:21 AM | Request Removal

The document is marked SECRET?. When did the Washington Post get the authority to declassify Secret U.S. documents? Somebody should go to jail.
By SouthernRet | Nov 28, 2006 8:37:56 AM | Request Removal

Sure they can defeat these insurgents. The American public simply does not have the stomach for what actually needs to be done.
By Frishoo | Nov 28, 2006 8:46:43 AM | Request Removal

To aldous, Idiot say’s what!!!!
By lonewolf20706 | Nov 28, 2006 9:01:42 AM | Request Removal

I wonder what part of the definition of classified your reporters and editorial staff dont understand? A document clearly marked SECRET and not for dessimination outside the United States Military is shared with the Post by person or persons unknown within the HQ, Marine Corps and is immediately made public knowledge on the front page of the 11-28 Washington Post. Talk about giving aid and comfort to the enemy. I wonder how many Americans would have died if the knowledge that we had broken the Japanese code in WW II been as publically announced or the Germans been informed that the shadow army under Patton was just that and the main assualt would come at Normandy? Jeff Dombroff Warrenton, VA
By fod210 | Nov 28, 2006 9:19:21 AM | Request Removal

The Bush legacy revealed
By staggerlee | Nov 28, 2006 9:22:18 AM | Request Removal

We Americans can certainly take pride in the last few sentences of this article, in that we are at least holding the suffering down to a level where it will not make the evening Fox news, or any other news service, for that matter.
By wp | Nov 28, 2006 9:22:49 AM | Request Removal

re:southernret.....This information is TOP security. When you have read it destroy yourself.
By hankomatic1 | Nov 28, 2006 9:52:13 AM | Request Removal

To lonewolf20706, your the idiot for calling another person an idiot just because he or she doesnt agree with you.
By rguiny | Nov 28, 2006 9:58:58 AM | Request Removal

re:rguiny..........Please have America call me when she gets back!
By hankomatic1 | Nov 28, 2006 10:07:49 AM | Request Removal

The writer used a verb in place of an adjective. Post editors should have caught this and identified it with a sic. He described al-Qaeda in Iraq as the dominate organization of influence in al-Anbar, surpassing all other groups, the Iraqi government and U.S. troops in its ability to control the day-to-day life of the average Sunni. Other than that slight error, the article points out a sad fact of life in Iraq.
By bobchancellor | Nov 28, 2006 10:08:44 AM | Request Removal

Well It seems that America is finally waking up to the realities, and cost of BUSHS war. The shame is that so many people have died for nothing. There was never a clear reason or benefit for fighting this war, except for greed. Question? Is America safer today then in 2001?
By dmassiah | Nov 28, 2006 10:47:26 AM | Request Removal

Why is it that Democrats have to take the majority in congress for the real picture in Iraq to be revealed? Is it up to the American people themselves, not our duly elected representatives or the news media, to force the govt to give us a true picture of the war in Iraq. I dont think it is a coincidence that we Americans are now being made aware of the out-of-control and unredeemable situation in Iraq, and I dont think that it is a new development there. It was predictable from the first--I, myself, an ordinary participant in American life, saw from Bushs first declaration to make war that this was the likely outcome. And now, the truth of that situation, is only now being delivered by the media and our military leaders to the American people. Common sense should tell us that the truth has been hidden all along and is only now revealed as a problem to plague those taking office in January. Thank you, Republicans who watch Fox News to glut your already stagnant, stinking swelter of self-righteous complacency and turn your back on the corruption that has been part and parcel of this war--a war that, in my opinion, was begun to garner wartime powers for the Presidency and wartime favors for Republican corporate contributors. I think the midterm elections showed, however, that Americans may be slow to catch on, but we may eventually come to rue the day when we were fooled by the lipservice that Republicans give to conservative values enough to give them majority power in all three branches of government. Its a shame that, for that decision, almost 3000 of the strongest, bravest of our nations vitality were lost to a senseless, corrupt Republican thirst for power.
By psmithallen | Nov 28, 2006 10:54:33 AM | Request Removal

Very simply, why arent we in the Sudan instead of Iraq? Doris Porter gjp1@msn.com 301-982-4640
By PorterDH | Nov 28, 2006 11:09:41 AM | Request Removal

I am baffled by the constant suggestions of partitioning Iraq into 3 states, each to share oil revenues. I wonder if it will work like the way oil revenues are shared here, among our 50 states. In the 1970s, during the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, the state realized that the new oil leases would produce an enormous windfall. Its citizens set up the Alaska Permanent Fund to manage this income, directing that the revenue be invested, the principal remain untouched and the gains be used for state infrastructure investments. A part of the proceeds was distributed as dividends to every Alaskan. By July 2002, the fund had grown to more than $23.5 billion. Dividend payments to Alaskan families averaged about $8,000 per year. I do not remember ever getting a check in the mail here in Idaho. Nor do I get one from Louisiana, or Texas, or California.
By mellowyellow | Nov 28, 2006 11:12:30 AM | Request Removal

Where to now? It seems to me that in order to accomplish this mission the United States Military needs to return to the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force and if the civillian population suffers from collateral damage then it cant be helped. It appears they are going to suffer any way if order is not acheived in Al Anbar.
By dlonon | Nov 28, 2006 11:16:10 AM | Request Removal

my comment was way off topic, but still.....
By mellowyellow | Nov 28, 2006 11:16:13 AM | Request Removal

HEY GEORGE AND OTHER SUPPORTERS, READ THE FIRST SENTENCE AGAIN! Only simple minded idiots with easy to program brains are still supporting this war. Dah...were fighting them over there, so we dont have to fight them here! WAKE UP! You are buying into an advertising campaign and propaganda spin of the simplest kind use your head for more than a hat rack. WE CANNOT WIN!!! Dont you get it? THEY ARE EVERYWHERE NOW! Our mere presence in Iraq is like pouring gas on a GLOBAL fire. We have more enemies scattered about now than ever in history. It has nothing to do with fighting them there! Tens of thousands of people are maimed, injured and dying over there, and for WHAT? Bush and Darth Cheney, give it up, you will NOT NOW, NOT EVER gain control over those precious, lucrative oil fields you spent months salivating over. Shame on all of you that voted for and still support this debauchery. Furthermore, why are the twins gallivanting all over South America when they should be in Baghdad driving world dignitaries in and out of the Green Zone? If I see that, maybe, just maybe I might realize there is some merit to your personal global disaster.
By Lmullen1 | Nov 28, 2006 11:45:18 AM | Request Removal

Suprised to see that there are 3 idiots on this blog who still believe that yet more killing by the USA in Iraq will miraculously solve the horrendous mess over there. GWs dog is not yet totally alone.
By kuseldavid | Nov 28, 2006 11:58:11 AM | Request Removal

Quick, quick. Karl, Rush, Rupert, Jerry! What spin to put on this? How to blame it on the liberal media, secular humanists, Nancy Pelosi, or *Slick Willy*? How to trash the source?
By jkoch | Nov 28, 2006 12:22:34 PM | Request Removal

If this is a classified report, why is the Post reporting its details? Im constantly amazed at the medias willingness to undermine military efforts. Reporters and media outlets who reveal classified information should be subject to prosecution and barred from further access.
By wolfenstock | Nov 28, 2006 12:31:47 PM | Request Removal

King Richard has been mentioned. He does provide a precedent in that he used his major victory over Muslim forces around 1190 to make a peace that lasted for decades, conceding Muslim sovereignty over Jerusalem but providing Christian access. Perhaps Bush for all his faults has accepted that peace in Palestine is as essential now as it was then and that the painful concessions of which the Israelis speak must now be made.
By MHughes976 | Nov 28, 2006 1:06:39 PM | Request Removal

I think President Bush is a poor propagandist when he insists that the United States will not leave Iraq. The world knows too well, we do not have manpower and money to achieve that goal. This administration is too ignorant and too arrogant to be of any value, at least in world affairs. Ich Nguyen
By ichnguyen31 | Nov 28, 2006 1:08:32 PM | Request Removal

If the report was marked secret, what the heck is the Washington Post doing disseminating the information inside it? Doesnt this seem slightly treasonous? I guess anythings OK when youre cheer leading for the terrorists of al qaida. Rah! Disgusted in Hayward, CA
By inn4itt | Nov 28, 2006 1:31:16 PM | Request Removal

This is so sad and where do we go from here? I feel sad that someone we played a part in what is happening in Iraqq right now and we want to blame their PM who depends on us for his own protection. There is no substitution for planning.
By dentalwellness | Nov 28, 2006 1:57:40 PM | Request Removal

I would like to know how many people condemning Bush and Cheney here actually voted for them in 2000 and 2004. It was obvious to me in 2000 that Bush will be a disaster for the US. Complaining about our tax dollars going into the sensless war that only makes US weaker? We deserve the government we elect, so stop complaining and start voting next time.
By vagayan | Nov 28, 2006 2:12:04 PM | Request Removal

For those that claim this is a secret report, calling the Washington Post treasonous. I agree with you. Why isnt the Press lying to us about how the war is going? Why arent we being shown Iraqis smiling, claiming to love the fact the US is there? Why isnt the Press showing us the prosperity the Iraqis now enjoy, due to the dictator being overthrown? Oh, I forgot, thats TOP SECRET!!
By psouffrant | Nov 28, 2006 2:13:57 PM | Request Removal

It is criminal what the U.S. invasion of Iraq has wrought. All neocons who pushed this preemptive war in Iraq should be brought up on charges.
By eprentis | Nov 28, 2006 2:24:01 PM | Request Removal

To all those like inn4itt who want to remain ignorant about the war: if you really cared a damn about the values you claim to be fighting for, you wouldnt be whining about how the nasty Post violated the Governments right to lie about the progress of the war to the people paying for it, people who were also lied to about the cause and justification of the war. Anyway, you dont get it - this and other bad news items are being deliberately leaked by the generals themselves, who are desperate for someone to pull their chestnuts out of the fire.
By kevrobb | Nov 28, 2006 2:26:39 PM | Request Removal

Two falacies: 1] it is better not to know ugly facts, 2] MacArthur, Clay, or Marshall were somehow wiser when reconstructing Japan and Germany. People who insist on the first are destined to ruin or delirium. Meanwhile, people who say to do in Iraq what we did in [fill in the blank] forget that the Axis states were surrounded by hostile states not fellow believers, were internally homogeneous, worshiped central authority, and had no options but to chose between bland US stewardship or the Stalins Gulag brand. Churchill? He was the biggest clown of all. Guess who invented Iraq in the first place? W, who always craves to be considered churchillian, may have marched in the WC path after all.
By jkoch | Nov 28, 2006 3:04:48 PM | Request Removal

The Republicans feed on one another over the late firing of that idiot Rumsfeld, and claim much of the election would have gone another way, had Bush just done the honorable thing and fired Rumsfeld before the election. I would pose another caveat - If the Republicans had ever reported truth about the situation in Iraq, before the election, the Democrats might now have the power to fix the problem. As it is, those pesky, evil Republicans will drag their feet until we have lost so many more soldiers that they can then blame all the soldier deaths on the Democrats. What are you doing, America, are you insane to allow these republicans to remain in charge any longer. Lets flood their offices and the White Hous with demands that the problem be solved immediately!
By 274627 | Nov 28, 2006 4:27:54 PM | Request Removal

A poor analysis. When Saddams regime was decapitated by the US most Westerners, from Bush to Washington Post-NY Times types thought the whole Iraqi nation would celebrate and view the Americans as liberators. First, only the Kurds and Shiites were glad to see Saddam overthrown. The Sunnis who were oil-less during Saddam but due to preferential treatment made sure their part of Iraq received much more than their share of oil profits and wealth. The fall of Saddam was a fall for the Sunni populations which had no problem in brutal suppressions of Kurds and Shiites long before the current invasion began. Secondly, and most importantly you failed and still fail to realize that the US has no friends in any Arab country. There are relationships of convenience and sources of wealth but there is no vision among any Arab nation that sees what Americans accept as positive political values as truly worth fighting for. That realization - that we have no friends in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and even among so-called allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia is critical to making a successful US policy in the Middel East. If an American or British tank or helicopter, for one reason or another, becomes disabled you can be sure the average citizens who just happened to be there will not only do nothing to assist the injured soldiers but try to harm them. From Shia Basra with the Brits and throughout Iraq, teenages and adults stood on burning American vehicles cheering. They didnt destroy them but that is where their sentiments are and have always been. What you are seeing now is not because of anything the US did over the past few years but because they are Americans. The Sunnis who watched us defeat Saddam hated us then and hate us now. Nothing has really changed.
By rmartens | Nov 28, 2006 5:09:17 PM | Request Removal

This is a secret report and it gets published in an American newspaper? Unbelieveable that one, someone would leak this report and two, the Post would publish it. I wonder what would have happened during WWII during the fight for Iwo Jima, where 7,000 US Marines were killed and thousands more wounded, I wonder if the Post would have published this news for American consuption?
By warepro | Nov 28, 2006 5:22:01 PM | Request Removal

What are you blaming Rumsfeld for? He was given a task overthrow Saddam and he did it well and actually insisted on having more troops but did not get them. Whats ensued cannot be blamed on him but is entirely the mess that Bush et al. have created by going there in the first place. Admit it, most people in this country are so much locked in their way of thinking and so illiterate politically and oblivious about other countries history that they could seriosly believe that we would be bringing democracy to Iraq. And in Bushs perverted view democracy equates free elections. Read a history book for God sakes! And now you want to demand that the problem be solved immediately... seems so childish... Grow up! Actions have consequenses and serious actions have serious consequences. We have screwed ourselves and our kids big time, we have provided fuel for al-Queda for generations, and admit it, there is no way the situation can be fixed now. Not by Republicans, not by Democrats. We are pleading with the very two countries that we called axis of evil just 2 years ago Iran and Syria and are at their mercy to stop further penetration of al-Quaeda into Iraq... Not only the Iraq war is lost entirely, but we have lost on a much bigger scale -- this very well may be a beginning of a decline for US as a superpower in both political and military dimensions.
By vagayan | Nov 28, 2006 5:22:44 PM | Request Removal

The US is the best friend the Mullahs in Tehran ever had! The Americans completely neutralized their most hated enemy in Baghdad while Irans own religious doctrinal influences upon such religious leaders such as Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and his cohorts such as Moqthada Al Sadr now run the country as Shia proxies of Iran. America pays the price for this enabling by spending ungodly amounts of US $s every month while its army bleeds itself to death in this contemporary counterpart of Vietnam, all thanks to the village idiot and his cabal of criminals in DC. Ironic how the evil doers in the White House are now seeking the cooperation from their Iranian and Syrian counterparts in the Axis of Evil. Birds of A feather that should be shot together-someone call TOP GUN Dick Vedar Cheney, and ask him to reload!
By SMMajid_1 | Nov 28, 2006 5:45:44 PM | Request Removal

Do you truly believe that the Western world is in a fight to the finish with Wahhabi-inspired, Islamic barbarians? If you are fully convinced of that awful reality, then the thought of substituting Tehran for Nagasaki and Damascus for Hiroshima on a target list is no longer inconceivable.
By fbsequim | Nov 28, 2006 5:47:21 PM | Request Removal

When will someone be arrested for leaking these Secret documents? We do have laws against such things, but the rising Insurgency amongst our media seems to feel themselves immune to any such Pro American ideas.
By kesac | Nov 28, 2006 6:56:04 PM | Request Removal

Lying to the American people, the taxpayers who fund the war and are supposed to vote to decide foreign policy, is pro-American? Telling them things are getting better when your own reports say the opposite is pro-American? You sound more Russian than American to me.
By kevrobb | Nov 28, 2006 7:31:45 PM | Request Removal

Well, there you have it, one of the reasons why Baghdad is the center of the universe. With Anbar in an irrecoverable state the politicians decided to forget about it and look to secure the Green Zone, if nothing else in Baghdad. If Devlin is correct in the way forward, it will cost us even more to get out of Iraq. Difficult as it must have been to write that report, thank you for the truth Col. Peter Devlin. As an aside, perhaps Devlin should be the one to give us an honest assessment of the other problem areas in Iraq, including Baghdad. Clearly, Abizaid will lie through his teeth to avoid the fallout.
By horodys | Nov 28, 2006 8:57:27 PM | Request Removal

Some jerk leaked a memo which described the worst case scenario. Why do you believe the leakers?
By mmazu | Nov 28, 2006 10:27:36 PM | Request Removal

Why the hell does the Post 1 have a classified Marine Corps intelligence report and 2 feel that it is in the public interest to publish it?! I dont care what is in the report, if it’s classified it SHOULD be considered treason to publish it. Why not give out the codes for the nuclear foot ball if you have that available too? There is no difference!
By mnmhart1 | Nov 28, 2006 10:55:31 PM | Request Removal

mhart ksac Because we, the public have a right to know the truth about the killings that proceed in our name. This is what you get , when you have an arrogant, clueless, out of control chief executive of our government. Lies, lies, and more lies are ALL weve gotten from this regieme. People of good conscience inside the govnt increasingly, have had enough. When you hear of these leaks, think: Pentagon Papers. You 2 are more concerned about the leakers - who have done us a vital service - and the liar in the WHouse whos ignorance has cost the lives of almost 3,000 of our dedicated servicemen, drained our national treasure, and broken faith w/ our military. Did I mention that Bush has incurred the hatred of millions of Muslims worldwide towards our nation for generations to come? Wake up. Its ugly. Its real.Deal with it.
By jjaycott | Nov 28, 2006 11:47:07 PM | Request Removal

Anbar is another Helmand. Other regions where Taliban like forces are taking over are increasing in number on many continents. Somalia, Palestine, South Afghanistan, Waziristan and probably Chechnia as well. Many of Central Asian states may follow soon. After all what Talibanism actually is. Many religeous people are fast taking their religions more religeously of late. It not the Muslims alone. When more people from different faiths start becoming more religeous, the bickering among people is certain to be experienced. What makes taliban different than others is that Muslims of all the ones with far fewer number of countries where governements rule to the liking of common people who incomparison are more religeous in practice. The state of deprivation Muslims find themselves gives them a feeling of being betrayed. Betrayed by their rulers who respond to bidding from outside. Taliban may be be extremist in their views and attitude but they do ring about peace, justice and good morals with control on liberalism. These are the few ingredients a common man looks for.
By zaogirwazir | Nov 30, 2006 7:56:15 AM | Request Removal

Anbar is pised to form a Taliban like state. But it is not a prologue to the break up of Iraq as many would wish it to. Afghanistan did not break into petty states, of Shia -Sunni Pashtoon -dari speakers and along other fractures. So would Iraq stay one. As for the blood soilling, it will slow down once the Americans are out but will continue as it ever did.
By zaogirwazir | Nov 30, 2006 8:09:29 AM | Request Removal



WP    9 December 2006
Iraq Strategy Review Focusing on Three Main Options
As pressure mounts for a change of course in Iraq, the Bush administration is groping for a viable new strategy for the president to unveil by Christmas, with deliberations now focused on three main options to redefine the U.S. military and political engagement, according to officials familiar with...
- By Robin Wright and Peter Baker

Commentary
How about bringing back Saddam? The only winning strategy U.S. may have left. Lets go back to the beginning.
By f_raiser | Dec 9, 2006 12:14:48 AM

f_raiser has a point. Even the venerable members of the Iraq Study Group have no claim to a monopoly for good ideas. Whats more, if all options are indeed to be examined by the powers that are, why not discuss any of the Iraq-specific traditional iron claw or strong-man solutions, obviously not excluding prompt substitution of the sham trial of Saddam Hussein with genuine reconciliation measures? As pointed out before, after Japan capitulated in 1945, with a vision to reconciliate and reconstruct promptly and effectively - but despite the undeniable responsibility for Japans war crimes - a wise, principled and history-conscious U.S. General Douglas MacArthur kept its Emperor in place, at a distance, of course, but still. Thus why then, while hes still alive, not treat the former Iraqi President as an asset, as a perhaps crucial element for bringing Iraq back from the abyss? E.g. by way of recognizing and providing for the still-valid international guarantees concerning minority and private property rights which the League of Nations wrote into the fundamental document preceding the creation of Iraq in 1932 3w.solami.com/UNGA.htm. Which have already been accepted by the leaders of all constitutive ethnic, cultural and religious communities of the Mosul Vilayet .../invitation.htm. Which model could be adapted to suit the conditions of the other Iraqi vilayets .../recres.htm - with or without a Principality of Tikrit tied into a new Iraqi Confederation. And whose realization might be helped by a more active role by such international garantors as France and Iraqs neighbors, particularly the Kingdom of Jordan in the sense of the UN paper PROPOSED CONFLICT RESOLUTION PATHWAYS FOR IRAQ E/CN.4/1994/NGO/48 .../a3b.htm#Shiite. Where are the Churchills, De Gaulles and MacArthurs of today?
By solami | Dec 9, 2006 6:32:11 AM




Washington Post   September 30, 2007

'The single most effective weapon against our deployed forces'

By Rick Atkinson

It began with a bang and "a huge white blast," in the description of one witness who outlived that Saturday morning, March 29, 2003. At a U.S. Army checkpoint straddling Highway 9, just north of Najaf, four soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division, part of the initial invasion of Iraq, had started to search an orange-and-white taxicab at 11:30 a.m. when more than 100 pounds of C-4 plastic explosive detonated in the trunk.

The explosion tossed the sedan 15 feet down the road, killing the soldiers, the cabdriver -- an apparent suicide bomber -- and a passerby on a bicycle. Lt. Col. Scott E. Rutter, a battalion commander who rushed to the scene from his command post half a mile away, saw in the smoking crater and broken bodies on Highway 9 "a recognition that now we were entering into an area of warfare that's going to be completely different."

Since that first fatal detonation of what is now known as an improvised explosive device, more than 81,000 IED attacks have occurred in Iraq, including 25,000 so far this year, according to U.S. military sources. The war has indeed metastasized into something "completely different," a conflict in which the roadside bomb in its many variants -- including "suicide, vehicle-borne" -- has become the signature weapon in Iraq and Afghanistan, as iconic as the machine gun in World War I or the laser-guided "smart bomb" in the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

IEDs have caused nearly two-thirds of the 3,100 American combat deaths in Iraq, and an even higher proportion of battle wounds. This year alone, through mid-July, they have also resulted in an estimated 11,000 Iraqi civilian casualties and more than 600 deaths among Iraqi security forces. To the extent that the United States is not winning militarily in Iraq, the roadside bomb, which as of Sept. 22 had killed or wounded 21,200 Americans, is both a proximate cause and a metaphor for the miscalculation and improvisation that have characterized the war.

The battle against this weapon has been a fitful struggle to regain the initiative -- a relentless cycle of measure, countermeasure and counter-countermeasure -- not only by discovering or neutralizing hidden bombs, the so-called fight at the roadside, but also by trying to identify and destroy the shadowy network of financiers, strategists, bombmakers and emplacers who have formed at least 160 insurgent cells in Iraq, according to a senior Defense Department official. But despite nearly $10 billion spent in the past four years by the department's main IED-fighting agency, with an additional $4.5 billion budgeted for fiscal 2008, the IED remains "the single most effective weapon against our deployed forces," as the Pentagon acknowledged this year.

As early as 2003, Army officers spoke of shifting the counter-IED effort "left of boom" by disrupting insurgent cells before bombs are built and planted. Yet U.S. efforts have focused overwhelmingly on "right of boom"-- by mitigating the effects of a bomb blast with heavier armor, sturdier vehicles and better trauma care -- or on the boom itself, by spending, for example, more than $3 billion on 14 types of electronic jammers that sometimes also jammed the radios of friendly forces.

For years the counter-IED effort was defensive, reactive and ultimately inadequate, driven initially by a presumption that IEDs were a passing nuisance in a short war, and then by an abiding faith that science would solve the problem.

"Americans want technical solutions. They want the silver bullet," said Rear Adm. Arch Macy, commander of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Washington, which now oversees several counter-IED technologies. "The solution to IEDs is the whole range of national power --political-military affairs, strategy, operations, intelligence."

The costly and frustrating struggle against a weapon barely on the horizon of military planners before the war in Iraq provides a unique lens for examining what some Pentagon officials now call the Long War, and for understanding how the easy victory of 2003 became the morass of 2007.

This introduction and the four-part narrative that follows are drawn from more than 140 interviews with military and congressional officials, contractors, scientists, and defense analysts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Washington and elsewhere. Most agreed to speak candidly only on the condition of anonymity, because of the sensitivity of the subject, or because they are not authorized to comment. Ten senior officers or retired officers, each of them intimately involved in the counter-IED fight, were asked to review the findings for accuracy and security considerations.

As U.S. casualties spiraled from dozens to hundreds to many thousands, the quest for IED countermeasures grew both desperate and ingenious. Honeybees and hunting dogs searched for explosives. Soldiers fashioned makeshift "hillbilly armor." Jammers proliferated, with names like Warlock, Chameleon, Acorn and Duke. Strategists concocted bomb-busting techniques, such as "IED Blitz" and "backtracking" and "persistent stare."

Yet bombs continued to detonate, and soldiers kept dying. The 100 or so daily IED "events" -- bombs that blow up, as well as those discovered before they detonate -- have doubled since the 50 per day typical in January 2006. The 3,229 IEDs recorded in March of this year put the monthly total in Iraq above 3,000 for the first time, a threshold also exceeded in May and June. "The numbers," one Army colonel said, "are astonishing."

In Afghanistan, although IED attacks remain a small fraction of those in Iraq, the figures also have soared: from 22 in 2002 and 83 in 2003, to 1,730 in 2006 and a thousand in the first half of this year. Suicide attacks have become especially pernicious, climbing to 123 last year, according to a United Nations study, a figure that continues to grow this year, with 22 in May alone.

Insurgents have deftly leveraged consumer electronics technology to build explosive devices that are simple, cheap and deadly: Almost anything that can flip a switch at a distance can detonate a bomb. In the past five years, bombmakers have developed six principal detonation triggers -- pressure plates, cellphones, command wire, low-power radio-controlled, high-power radio-controlled and passive infrared -- that have prompted dozens of U.S. technical antidotes, some successful and some not.

"Insurgents have shown a cycle of adaptation that is short relative to the ability of U.S. forces to develop and field IED countermeasures," a National Academy of Sciences paper concluded earlier this year. An American electrical engineer who has worked in Baghdad for more than two years was blunter: "I never really feel like I'm ahead of the game."

The IED struggle has become a test of national agility for a lumbering military-industrial complex fashioned during the Cold War to confront an even more lumbering Soviet system. "If we ever want to kneecap al-Qaeda, just get them to adopt our procurement system. It will bring them to their knees within a week," a former Pentagon official said.

"We all drank the Kool-Aid," said a retired Army officer who worked on counter-IED issues for three years. "We believed, and Congress was guilty as well, that because the United States was the technology powerhouse, the solution to this problem would come from science. That attitude was 'All we have to do is throw technology at it and the problem will go away.' . . . The day we lose a war it will be to guys with spears and loincloths, because they're not tied to technology. And we're kind of close to being there."

Or, as an officer writing in Marine Corps Gazette recently put it, "The Flintstones are adapting faster than the Jetsons."

***

Military explosives technicians learning their craft at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida are taught that the bomb triggering the Haymarket Riot in Chicago in 1886 was the first modern IED. T.E. Lawrence -- of Arabia -- wrote in "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" that roadside bombs, which mostly targeted Turkish trains in World War I, made traveling around "an uncertain terror for the enemy."

The bomb that destroyed the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, the truck bomb Timothy McVeigh used to kill 168 people in Oklahoma City in 1995, the devices detonated on trains in Madrid in 2004 and in the London transportation system in 2005 -- all were IEDs.

British troops encountered 7,000 IEDs during 30-plus years of conflict in Northern Ireland, according to a U.S. Army ordnance officer. But what the British faced in more than three decades is equivalent to less than three months in today's Iraq. Indeed, "the sheer growth of the thing," as a senior Army general put it, is what most confounds Pentagon strategists.

"The IED is the enemy's artillery system. It's simply a way of putting chemical and kinetic energy on top of our soldiers and Marines, or underneath them," said Montgomery C. Meigs, a retired four-star Army general who since December 2005 has served as director of the Pentagon's Joint IED Defeat Organization, the Pentagon's multibillion-dollar effort to defeat the weapon. "What's different is the trajectory. Three 152mm rounds underneath a tank, which will blow a hole in it, are artillery rounds. But they didn't come through three-dimensional space in a parabolic trajectory. They came through a social trajectory and a social network in the community."

Unlike conventional artillery, IEDs have profound strategic consequences, because the bomber's intent is to "bleed us in a way that attacks American political will directly and obviates the advantages we have in military forces," Meigs added. Thousands of bombs have also made U.S. troops wary and distrustful, even as a new counterinsurgency strategy expands the American military presence among the Iraqi people.

Insurgents often post video clips of their attacks on the Internet, the equivalent of taking scalps. They also exploit the Web -- either openly or in password-protected sites -- to share bomb-building tips, emplacement techniques, and observations about American vulnerabilities and countermeasures.

For example, a 71-page manual titled "Military Use of Electronics Prepared by Your Brother in Allah" was posted on a jihadist Web site earlier this year. Comparable in sophistication to an introductory college electrical engineering class, the manual provided color photos and detailed diagrams on "remote wirelessly operating circuit using a mobile phone for moving targets" and "employing timers to explode detonators using transistors."

The lack of success in combating IEDs has left some military officials deeply pessimistic about the future. "Hell, we're getting our ass kicked," said a senior officer at U.S. Central Command, which oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "We're watching warfare that's centuries old being played out in a modern context and we're all confused about it. The toys and trappings have changed, but asymmetric fighting, and ambush, and deceiving and outwitting your opponent, and using the strengths of your opponent against him, are ancient."

Others point to several heartening developments. The number of IED attacks declined in Iraq late this summer after five more U.S. brigades took the field as part of a troop "surge" ordered by the White House. American casualties from IEDs also dropped. Throughout Iraq, more than half of all makeshift bombs are found before they detonate.

Moreover, improved body and vehicle armor, as well as sophisticated combat medicine, mean that the proportion of wounded U.S. soldiers to those killed in Iraq is about 8 to 1, a survivability ratio much higher than in previous wars. Also, about 70 percent of wounded soldiers return to duty within three days, according to Pentagon figures.

"We've saved a lot of lives," Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon R. England said in an interview last month. "We've had people killed and injured, but we've probably saved five or 10 times that number of people by preventing attacks, or capturing and killing [insurgents], or getting caches of weapons, or disabling them."

In 2003, almost every IED caused at least one coalition casualty. Now, Pentagon figures indicate, it takes four of the bombs to generate a single casualty. In addition to more aggressive attacks against IED networks, rather than simply defending against the device, various technological advances have shaped the battlefield.

The military, for example, now has about 6,000 robots, compared with a handful four years ago. And bombs detonated by radio-controlled triggers, which had become the most prominent killer of U.S. forces, today amount to only 10 percent of all IEDs in Iraq after the deployment of 30,000 jammers, with more on the way.

Still, as a "Counter IED Smart Card" distributed to American troops warns, "In Iraq, nothing is as it appears." The cycle of measure, countermeasure and counter-countermeasure continues.

Two particularly deadly IEDs now account for about 70 percent of U.S. bombing deaths in Iraq: the explosively formed penetrator, an armor-killing device first seen in May 2004, and linked by the U.S. government to Iran, and the "deep buried," or underbelly, bomb that first became prominent in August 2005.

Grievous as the IED toll has been on U.S. and coalition forces, the impact on Iraqis is greater. The Pentagon considers an explosion to be "effective" only if it causes a coalition casualty; this reflects a judgment that the strategic impact of an IED derives from its ability to erode American will, which in turn is predicated on casualties suffered by U.S. troops or their non-Iraqi allies. By this yardstick, the suicide truck bombs that killed more than 500 civilians in northwest Iraq on Aug. 14 of this year are considered "ineffective"; so, too, the IED on Sept. 13 that killed a prominent sheik in western Iraq whom President Bush had publicly praised a week earlier for his opposition to al-Qaeda extremists.

But few military strategists doubt that Iraq's future depends on reducing IED attacks of all sorts. "If you can't stop vehicle-borne IEDs from being detonated in public spaces, you can't build a stable society," a Navy analyst said.

No one is ready to declare the dip in the number of bombs this summer to be an enduring decline. Insurgents appear "able to put out more IEDs to maintain that constant level of death-by-a-thousand-cuts," a senior Pentagon analyst said. "We have not seemed able to put an upper bound on that number."

And there is another mostly unspoken fear. With approximately 300 IED attacks occurring each month beyond the borders of Iraq and Afghanistan -- a Pentagon document cites incidents in the Philippines, Russia, Colombia, Algeria and Somalia, among other places -- the question occupying many defense specialists is whether the roadside bomb inevitably will appear in the United States in significant numbers. "It's one thing to have bombs going off in Baghdad, but it will be quite another thing when guys with vests full of explosives start blowing themselves up in Washington," said the Navy analyst. "That has all sorts of repercussions, for the economy, for civil liberties."

For now the device remains an indelible feature of the Iraqi and Afghan landscapes. "The enemy found a seam," said an Army colonel. "I don't think they knew it was a seam, but it just happened."

Staff researchers Madonna Lebling and Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.




Washington Post     September 30, 2007

'The IED problem is getting out of control.
We've got to stop the bleeding.'

By Rick Atkinson

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan -- By the late summer of 2002, as the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington approached, an American victory in Afghanistan appeared all but assured.

A pro-Western government had convened in Kabul. Reconstruction teams fanned out through the provinces. U.S. and coalition troops hunted Taliban and al-Qaeda remnants in the mountains along the Pakistani border.

Among the few shadows on this sunny Central Asian tableau -- besides the escape of Osama bin Laden -- was the first appearance of roadside bombs triggered by radio waves.

There were not many. U.S. forces would report fewer than two dozen improvised explosive devices of all sorts in Afghanistan in 2002. But the occasional RC -- radio-controlled -- bombs were much more sophisticated than the booby traps with trip wires typically seen by American troops.

A triggerman with a radio transmitter could send a signal several hundred yards to a hidden bomb built with a receiver linked to an electrical firing circuit, which in turn detonated an attached artillery shell or a scavenged land mine.

That receiver included a slender box about three inches square housing a modified circuit board resembling a long-legged spider. The Spider Mod 1, as the device was dubbed, would remain a weapon of Afghan bombmakers in various iterations for more than five years -- and an emblem of defiance against the world's only military superpower.

Captured Spider devices were shipped to the United States for forensic examination. Maj. Gen. John R. Vines, commander of the U.S. task force in Afghanistan, had a sense of what his troops were up against. "What can we do to protect our forces?" he asked his subordinates. "I'll take a 30 percent solution. That's better than zero."

Even that modest request seemed daunting. U.S. soldiers and Marines had no mobile electronic countermeasures capable of disrupting RC triggers by blocking the radio signal.

Bomb squads -- known in the military as EOD teams, for explosive ordnance disposal -- carried a feeble jammer called the Citadel, which created a stationary protective "bubble" around technicians defusing a device. But the few Citadels in service could not be mounted on vehicles to protect patrols and convoys, and they were too weak to provide protection beyond a few yards.

Special Operations units employed electronic countermeasures, and the Secret Service used powerful mobile jammers to shield presidential motorcades and other prominent targets. Yet such gadgets were few in number, much in demand and highly classified.

That left the Navy as a solution. For decades, electronic countermeasures had been a vital part of airborne combat for Navy fliers. Submariners also considered it a "core mission," as did surface ship officers. "It's how I deal with cruise missiles coming at me," said Rear Adm. Arch Macy, commander of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Washington.

After a yellow Mercedes-Benz truck stuffed with explosives killed 241 U.S. troops in Beirut in October 1983, the Navy began investing in a top-secret program in counter-RC technology. That led to a family of jammers, known as the Channel series, intended to protect ships arriving at foreign ports where RC bombs could be hidden in the docks.

By 2002, some of these devices were considered obsolete and had been consigned to a warehouse shelf. But Navy specialists in Indian Head, Md., 30 miles south of Washington, reconfigured a jammer they called Acorn, which neatly matched the frequencies used by the Spider Mod 1 in Afghanistan. In November 2002, 45 days after the first plea for help from Afghanistan, several dozen Acorns began arriving at Bagram Air Base.

Army EOD experts distributed each device, mounting the gray box and antenna on Humvees and Special Forces sport-utility vehicles. Instructing soldiers in the nuances of wave propagation and other electronic mysteries proved challenging; one device reportedly was installed on a water truck that never left the base. Successful jamming meant troops had no way of recognizing that they were even under attack by a radio-controlled IED. Acorns could also interfere with radios and other electronics.

Still, Vines's "30 percent solution" was more than fulfilled. As one retired Navy captain later recalled of Acorn: "We expected it to last six months before the bad guys figured it out." Instead, more than 2,000 Acorns eventually outfitted the force in Afghanistan where, like the Spider, it would remain a fixture on the battlefield for the next five years.

* * *

While U.S. forces parried the fledgling IED threat in Afghanistan, secret planning for the invasion of Iraq had accelerated. Little thought was given to roadside bombs as a serious obstacle to the American juggernaut. But U.S. strategists feared that Saddam Hussein would destroy his own oil production facilities rather than let them be captured. Scorched-earth tactics by retreating Iraqi troops in 1991 had turned Kuwait's oil fields into an inferno.

U.S. intelligence in early 2003 reported that wellheads in southern Iraq had been wired for detonation, and that Iraqi forces probably had the ability to use radio-controlled triggers to detonate those demolition charges. Jammers would be needed to secure the fields.

Even as the Navy converted Acorn into a battlefield countermeasure, Army engineers at Fort Monmouth, N.J., were working on their own mobile jammers. First in a laboratory and then in field tests, they modified an old system called Shortstop, originally built in 1990 as a footlocker-size gadget to confound the proximity fuses in incoming artillery and mortar shells.

By intercepting and modifying the radio signals emitted by such fuses, Shortstop tricked the shells into believing they were approaching the ground, causing them to detonate prematurely. Shortstop had been completed too late for use in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and it was deployed to Bosnia only briefly. A Pentagon inventory showed that the Army had almost 300 systems in storage.

With different computer chips and a cleverly modified ham radio antenna, Shortstop made an admirable jammer. The wife of one Fort Monmouth engineer collected miniature kitchen witches that inspired a new name for the device: Warlock Green. After final fixes in California, five Warlocks were shipped to Kuwait in time to accompany the invasion forces plunging into Iraq in March 2003, according to a senior officer involved in the effort.

The countermeasure proved unnecessary. Not a single oil well was rigged for radio-controlled detonation. Some oil facilities were sabotaged, but the damage was less grievous than feared.

Yet the Army jammer had found a home on the battlefield. As Shortstops were transformed into Warlock Greens -- each device cost about $100,000, according to a contractor involved in the program -- they were shipped in large Rubbermaid storage cases to Afghanistan, where a technician laminated his business card onto the devices so soldiers knew whom to call for help. Others would be packed up, driven to the Baltimore-Washington international airport in a rented van and flown to Iraq.

By late summer 2003, almost 100 Warlocks had been deployed, according to an Army document that said IEDs were "increasing in number and complexity at an alarming rate." Another Navy jammer, originally designed to protect four-star flag officers, also began arriving in the theater -- first six, then 30 and eventually 300.

If no one foresaw that within four years more than 30,000 jammers of all sorts would be in Iraq, a few suspected that something big had started. "We're going to need a lot more jammers," Col. Bruce Jette, who commanded the Army's Rapid Equipping Force at Fort Belvoir, told a Fort Monmouth engineer in August 2003. "And eventually we're going to need a jammer on every vehicle."

***

Bombmaking by definition required explosives, and in that commodity, as in oil, Iraq was richly endowed. "The entire country was one big ammo dump," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates would observe this past March. "It's just a huge, huge problem."

The problem was also huge in 2003. Yet U.S. strategists, who before the invasion failed to anticipate an insurgency, also drafted no comprehensive plans for securing thousands of munitions caches, now estimated to have held at least 650,000 tons and perhaps more than 1 million tons of explosives. "There's more ammunition in Iraq than any place I've ever been in my life, and it's not securable," Gen. John P. Abizaid told the Senate Appropriations Committee shortly after taking over U.S. Central Command in July 2003. "I wish I could tell you that we had it all under control. We don't."

To forestall looting, U.S. forces tried spreading putrid substances across the dumps, as well as cementing artillery rounds together or burying large caches. "We're now finding people tunneling 30 feet down and carting the stuff away," an analyst noted earlier this year. Sloshing diesel fuel across the dumps and lighting it, among several haphazard "blow and go" techniques, often simply scattered the rounds. More than a year after the invasion "only 40 percent of Iraq's pre-war munitions inventory was secured or destroyed," the Congressional Research Service reported this summer.

Tens of thousands of tons probably were pilfered, U.S. government analysts believe. (If properly positioned, 20 pounds of high explosive can destroy any vehicle the Army owns.) The lax control would continue long after Hussein was routed: 10,000 or more blasting caps -- also vital to bombmaking -- vanished from an Iraqi bureau of mines storage facility in 2004, along with "thousands of kilometers" of detonation cord, according to a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst.

In the summer of 2003, pilfered explosives appeared in growing numbers of IEDs. Main Supply Route Tampa, the main road for military convoys driving between Baghdad and Kuwait, became a common target. Three artillery shells wired to a timer west of Taji, discovered on July 29, reportedly made up the first confirmed delay bomb. Others were soon found using egg timers or Chinese washing-machine timers.

Radio-controlled triggers tended to be simple and low-power, using car key fobs or wireless doorbell buzzers -- Qusun was the most common brand -- with a range of 200 meters or less. Radio controls from toy cars beamed signals to a small electrical motor attached to a bomb detonator; turning the toy's front wheels completed the circuit and triggered the explosion.

U.S. troops dubbed the crude devices "bang-bang" because spurious signals could cause premature detonations, sometimes killing the emplacer. Bombers soon learned to install safety switches in the contraptions, and to use better radio links.

Camouflage remained simple, with bombs tucked in roadkill or behind highway guardrails. (Soldiers soon ripped out hundreds of miles of guardrail.) Emplacers often used the same "blow hole" repeatedly, returning to familiar roadside "hot spots" again and again. But early in the insurgency, before U.S. troops were better trained, only about one bomb in 10 was found and neutralized, according to an Army colonel.

Coalition forces tended to concentrate at large FOBs -- forward operating bases -- with few entry roads. "Insurgents seized the initiative on these common routes," according to a 2007 account of the counter-IED effort by Col. William G. Adamson. "The vast majority of IED attacks occurred within a short distance of the FOBs."

Each week, the cat-and-mouse game expanded. When coalition convoys routinely began stopping 300 yards from a suspected IED, insurgents planted easily spotted hoax bombs to halt traffic, then detonated explosives that had been hidden where a convoy would most likely pull over.

By the early fall of 2003, IED attacks had reached 100 a month, according to a House Armed Services Committee document. Most were a nuisance; some proved stunning and murderous. A large explosion along a roadbed near Balad in October of that year flung a 70-ton M1A2 Abrams tank down an embankment, shearing off the turret and killing two crewmen. Even more horrifying was a truck bomb at 4:45 p.m. on Aug. 19 that demolished the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, killing the U.N. special representative and 22 others.

Day by day, as Adamson would write, "the concept of a front, or line of battle, vanished" in Iraq, giving way to "360-degree warfare."

***

IEDs had quickly moved to the top of Abizaid's anxieties at Central Command. A Lebanese American who spoke Arabic and who had studied as an Olmsted scholar at the University of Jordan in Amman, the four-star general had seen for himself the aggravation that roadside bombs caused Israeli forces in Lebanon in the 1980s.

Two weeks after taking command from the retiring Gen. Tommy R. Franks, Abizaid publicly described resistance in Iraq as "a classical guerrilla-style campaign," a blunt appraisal that reportedly irked the Pentagon's civilian leadership. But the amount of unsecured ammunition in Iraq, particularly in Sunni regions, alarmed him. So did the realization that many Iraqi military officers -- unemployed and disgruntled after the national army was disbanded in late May -- possessed extensive skill in handling explosives.

Abizaid hoped that American technical savvy would produce a gadget that could detect bombs at a distance, "a scientific molecular sniffer, or something," as he put it. "We thought the problem would spread," Abizaid later reflected, "but it didn't appear overly sophisticated." Underestimating the enemy's creativity and overestimating American ingenuity, a pattern established before the war began, continued long after the capture of Baghdad.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the senior U.S. ground commander in Iraq, told Pentagon strategists that he hoped to minimize the military's "footprint" in Iraq by maintaining an occupation force that was two-thirds motorized and only one-third mechanized. "What I don't want is a lot of tanks and Bradleys," Sanchez said, according to a senior Army commander.

That meant mounting most troops on Humvees, few of which were built to withstand bombs or even small-arms fire. Soldiers had begun fashioning crude "hillbilly armor" for their vehicles from scrap metal. Even factory-built armored vehicles had been designed to resist projectiles fired at a distance, according to a senior Army scientist, and not against point-blank explosions in which steel fragments and blast overpressure -- from gases hotter than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit forming in 1/10,000th of a second -- struck simultaneously.

Production of the stout "uparmored" Humvee started in 1996, but as a specialty vehicle for military police and Special Forces; an average of one per day had been built before the war, according to congressional documents. The entire fleet of uparmored Humvees in the theater in 2003 totaled 235, the Army chief of staff would later report.

With no master list of where uparmored Humvees were deployed, logisticians searched U.S. motor pools around the world. Seventy were found in Air Force missile fields in North Dakota and elsewhere, according to a former senior officer on the joint staff, but it took a four-star order to pry them away for duty in the Middle East.

Protecting individual soldiers was a bit simpler. In June 2003, the Pentagon decided to outfit every trooper in theater with tough interceptor body armor. By December, eight vendors would produce 25,000 sets a month, according to congressional documents, and by April 2004 all U.S. military personnel in Iraq had received high-quality protection. The documents show that Congress has appropriated more than $4 billion for body armor so far.

But as summer yielded to fall in 2003, the final defense against roadside bombs often fell to a few hundred EOD technicians, whose informal motto -- "Initial success or total failure" -- suggested the hazards in what was known as "the long walk."

Summoned to neutralize a suspected bomb, a tech donned a cumbersome, blast-resistant outfit that resembled a deep-sea diving suit, with a transparent face shield and extra padding to protect femoral arteries, genitals and the spinal column. The robots then available to "interrogate" a device were crude and few in number, forcing the tech to conduct the examination himself.

"All you can hear is the fan in your helmet, your heart beating and your breathing," recalled Sgt. First Class Troy Parker, who served in Iraq in 2003. "And you're wondering if this is the last walk you're ever going to take."

Sometimes it was. On Sept. 10, 2003, in Baghdad, Staff Sgt. Joseph E. Robsky Jr. was trying to disarm an IED when an apparent RC-trigger detonated a mortar shell packed with C-4 plastic explosive. Robsky, 31, would be among more than 50 EOD technicians killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by the late summer of this year.

Within hours of his death, a call went out to assemble all EOD robots in Baghdad at the international airport for an inventory, according to a senior Navy EOD officer in Iraq at the time. They found 18 robots, and only six of them worked.

***

By late September 2003, Lt. Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army's operations chief, believed that IEDs not only threatened soldiers in Iraq, who included his two sons and a nephew, but also posed a strategic risk to U.S. ambitions in the region. "The IED problem is getting out of control," he told Col. Christopher P. Hughes, a staff officer. "We've got to stop the bleeding."

A Lebanese American West Point graduate like Abizaid, Cody was the son of a Chevrolet dealer in Montpelier, Vt. Stocky and intense, with thick hair the color of gunmetal, he had fired the first shots of the Gulf War in January 1991 while attacking an Iraqi radar site as commander of an Apache helicopter battalion. His appetites ran to hard work, New York Times crossword puzzles, Red Man chewing tobacco, Diet Coke and two-pound bags of peanut M&Ms, which he could eat in one sitting.

Hughes drafted a sheaf of PowerPoint slides labeled "IED Task Force: A Way," which proposed forming a small unit with a Washington director and two field teams "designed to respond to incidents." To recruit active-duty Special Operations troops would take at least nine months, so with Cody's approval and a chit for $20 million, Hughes hired Wexford Group International, a security consultant in Vienna, Va. Two retired Delta Force soldiers soon arrived in room 2D468 of the Pentagon to begin assembling the field teams from a "black Rolodex" of former special operators.

To run his task force, Cody chose one of the Army's most charismatic young officers, Joseph L. Votel, then 45, who had just been selected for promotion to brigadier general. A tall, good-humored Minnesotan, Votel had commanded the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002. More recently, in Iraq, three of his Rangers had been killed near Haditha with a suicide bomb detonated by a pregnant woman; two other Rangers had died in a roadside bombing on Route Irish, near the Baghdad airport.

Votel expected the job of controlling IEDs to take six months, maybe eight. "And then we move on," he said. He moved his small staff into a shabby, malodorous corner of the Army operations center in the Pentagon basement and posted a sign on the wall: "STOP THE BLEEDING."

Even by Pentagon standards, the hours were brutal. Those who lived in the Washington exurbs typically rose at 3:45 a.m. to be at their desks by 5:30, where they remained until 9 p.m. or later. To avoid bureaucratic friction with other agencies, Votel advised: "Stay small, stay light, be agile, move quickly. . . . There's goodness in smallness."

About a dozen former Delta Force operators were hired as contractors for the nucleus of the field teams. Some would earn $1,000 a day while deployed, according to two knowledgeable officers. Cody sent them to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to interview soldiers wounded by IEDs, to learn "what they wished they had done" before being blown up.

To arm the teams, the task force borrowed rifles from the Old Guard ceremonial regiment at Fort Myer and drafted permission slips for the contractors to carry weapons in Iraq. Instead of standard Army pistols, the men requested the Glock 9mm. "Sir," Votel told Cody, "these guys want Glocks." Cody gestured impatiently. "So get them Glocks."

In his diary on Nov. 17, 2003, Cody scribbled: "We have to make sure our commanders and soldiers are not at the end of this process but are engaged throughout the process." Toward that end, Votel and Hughes flew to Baghdad to secure a small compound at Camp Victory and to explain the task force to senior officers in Iraq.

The intent was to train troops to recognize and counter IEDs, Votel said, and to "build an architecture between the theater and Big Army" back in the States. IED incidents would be documented in detail at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and notably effective tactics and techniques would be disseminated to units preparing to deploy.

Eventually, Votel added, the effort would move "left of boom" by attacking bomber networks before devices could be placed and detonated. In the IED battle, the task force was to help "protect, predict, prevent, detect and neutralize" -- known as "tenets of assured mobility" -- which Votel borrowed as his conceptual framework from the Army Engineer School.

"Why are you bringing me a 7,000-mile screwdriver to fix this from D.C.?" asked one skeptical general in Baghdad. "Nothing good ever comes from Washington." Still, most commanders welcomed the assistance.

The first seven-man field team flew to Iraq on Dec. 12, 2003. Several others were to follow, including one sent to Afghanistan. Working initially with the 4th Infantry Division, and shuttling between bases in unarmored Chevy Suburbans, the team members in Iraq advocated infantry basics: "shoot, move, communicate, clear routes, don't set patterns." Troops were advised to watch for wires and triggermen away from the road, to be unpredictable, to use a "porcupine approach" in patrols and convoys, with all guns bristling and flank guards deployed.

By February 2004, the number of IED attacks in Iraq approached 100 a week. About half detonated, a proportion that would remain relatively constant for the next three years. The bleeding had hardly stopped, but to Central Command it seemed to have stabilized.

The casualty-per-blast ratio was dropping. Troops quickly learned counter-IED survival skills. Some bombers were arrested or killed. On good days the number of attacks dwindled to single digits, and U.S. bomb fatalities in February totaled nine, fewer than half the number in January.

"It looks to me like we're winning this thing," Air Force Lt. Gen. Lance Smith, the Centcom deputy commander, told Abizaid at their forward headquarters in Qatar. "We're kicking ass."

Abizaid gave a thin smile. "Stand by," he said. "They're just plotting."

***

On March 28, 2004, U.S. troops shut down the incendiary newspaper of Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric with a volatile following in the Baghdad slums. "All hell broke loose," a Centcom officer later noted. By late spring, IED attacks had nearly doubled, with bombers apparently drawn from the ranks of disaffected Shiites as well as Sunnis.

IEDs had become "the greatest casualty producer" in Iraq, Abizaid told Congress, surpassing RPG-7s, a rocket-propelled grenade. Insurgents increasingly promoted their deeds with videotapes released to al-Jazeera and other Arab media outlets. Spectacular explosions of Abrams tanks and other "icon vehicles," as U.S. officers called high-value targets, soon filled airwaves and Web sites.

For Joe Votel and his task force in Washington, the IED fight had become a complex exercise in phenomenology. How did blast and shrapnel interact at close range? How did bomber cells thrive? Why did jammers seem to work in some areas and not others? The six- to eight-month time frame he foresaw for controlling IEDs would require an extension.

More than 500 mobile jammers had reached Iraq, but thousands more were needed. By late spring 2004, the task force had finally established a jammer strategy: get as many systems into theater as possible -- including Warlock Green, a sister device known as Warlock Red, and a Navy jammer called Cottonwood, which was removed from the Suburban in which it typically rode, installed in an armored vehicle and renamed Ironwood. Meanwhile, engineers would develop a single powerful variant that covered as much of the RC spectrum as possible.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a former paratrooper and Vietnam veteran from San Diego who chaired the House Armed Services Committee, watched the Army's response to IEDs with impatience. In February 2004, a committee memo to the service noted that "arsenals, depots, industry, and steel mills" were not at full capacity in making heavy plates for uparmored Humvees. House staffers visited the steel plants, extracting pledges to defer commercial work until almost 7,000 Humvee armor kits were finished in May, six months ahead of the Army's original schedule.

Hunter was particularly incensed to find skittish troops bolting thin steel and even plywood to military trucks traveling along Route Tampa and other hazardous Iraqi roads. In January, he had asked Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory near San Francisco to design an armored gun truck similar to those used in the Vietnam War, the sole surviving example of which he found in the Army's transportation museum at Fort Eustis, Va.

In March, a five-ton prototype, with steel and ballistic fiberglass protection added to the cab and truck bed, was shipped for testing to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

On June 4, Hunter appeared at the Pentagon's River Entrance with a freshly painted gun truck and placards, mounted on easels, listing its virtues. Cody and others from the top brass wandered out to kick the tires. No one wanted to buck the powerful chairman, but several paratroopers soon appeared to inform Hunter "how much they loved the Humvee better than these big things, how nice and small and agile it was," he later recalled.

Hunter was not dissuaded. Nearly 100 gun-truck kits would be sent to Iraq, at $40,000 each, and 18 to Afghanistan. Some soldiers sang the truck's praises, while others found it top-heavy and "something of a grenade basket," according to a senior commander in the 10th Mountain Division. Still, of more than 9,000 medium and heavy military transport trucks rolling through Iraq in late 2004, only about one in 10 had armor, according to GlobalSecurity.org. The convoys remained vulnerable.

A Vietnam-era relic would hardly solve the IED threat permanently. Several influential voices in Washington now questioned the Pentagon's approach. Retired Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the president of the Institute for Defense Analyses and a former U.S. commander in chief in the Pacific, complained to the joint staff about the lack of systematic, rigorous analysis of IED trends. "The Army is not dealing with the IED problem well, because it's not in their nature," Blair said. "They're used to taking off from the line of departure, capturing the enemy capital and having a victory parade."

Moreover, the emphasis on defeating the device, Blair added, was "like playing soccer and you're spending all your money and attention on the goalie's gloves. At that point, not only is this the last line of defense, but the ball is already in the air."

At Centcom, Smith also was frustrated by the lack of urgency. Four months after concluding that "we're winning this thing," he now had doubts about the national commitment to overcoming IEDs. "We have got to get at this thing in a different way than we're addressing it right now," he advised Abizaid in Qatar in June 2004. "We've got to have something like the Manhattan Project."

The allusion to the crash program that had built the atomic bomb in World War II -- an effort eventually employing 125,000 people and many of the nation's finest scientific minds -- appealed to Abizaid's imagination. Several days later he wrote a personal message to the Pentagon leadership asking for a "Manhattan Project-like" approach to IEDs.

"What the [expletive] does he think we're doing?" Cody snapped upon learning of the request. But the Centcom commander's plea could hardly be brushed aside. In a meeting with Cody and Votel, according to a participant in the session, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked whether the Army could meet Abizaid's request.

The Army believed it could, particularly if the service was made the executive agent for an expanded effort that involved the entire Defense Department. That meant getting the other services to relinquish money, personnel and bureaucratic control, an encroachment that quickly triggered alarms.

Meetings convened, exchanges grew stormy. The Navy and Marine Corps had pursued their own counter-IED programs, and the Air Force particularly resisted putting the Army in charge of a Pentagon-wide enterprise.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz believed change was necessary. Why, he had asked his staff, did it take so long for armor, jammers and other counter-IED materiel to reach Iraq and Afghanistan? "Where is all this stuff?" he complained. "When is it going to get to theater?"

The effort seemed fragmented and ad hoc -- "sucked into technology rabbit holes," as Votel put it. A survey by the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk that spring had found that at least 132 government agencies were now involved in IED issues, from the FBI and CIA to the National Security Agency and the National Ground Intelligence Center in Charlottesville, Va., according to an Army brigadier general.

The battle against IEDs exceeded the management capacity of a single service, Wolfowitz concluded. On July 12, 2004, he signed a one-paragraph order that transformed the Army task force into a joint task force. Votel would remain director, with cramped offices in the Army operations center. But he now reported to Wolfowitz rather than to Cody, and the task force would draw expertise from all services.x

Cody, who became the Army's four-star vice chief of staff in late June, accepted the decision graciously, even as he told one senior Army officer who now worked for Wolfowitz, "Don't forget where you came from."

Creation of the Joint IED Task Force would dramatically expand the U.S. effort. A $100 million budget in fiscal 2004 would mushroom to $1.3 billion in 2005. In subsequent meetings with industry executives and the national research laboratories, Wolfowitz declared that there was no higher priority.

Within the Defense Department, countering IEDs would be second only to exterminating Osama bin Laden.

"This is a major strategic effort," Wolfowitz told one group. "What can you put into it?"

Staff researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.