Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Fascinating Story of IED's in Iraq : Unlearned Lessons of History

MSNBC has posted a 5-page story on the IED problem in Iraq and how impotent the United States seems to be to counter this deadly insurgent weapon. "New type of bomb is unexpectedly lethal in Iraq," is the title of the piece and this opening paragraph frames the story:

"On Aug. 3, 2005, the deadliest roadside bomb ever encountered by U.S. troops in Iraq detonated beneath a 26-ton armored personnel carrier, killing 14 Marines and revealing yet another American vulnerability in the struggle against improvised explosive devices."

By the way, those 14 Marines were reservists were from Ohio. I mention Ohio for two reasons. First, I am from Ohio and mourn the loss of any soldier, but one from my area tugs especially hard at my heart. Secondly, I think back to the early history of Ohio when the white settlers began to pour into this 'wilderness' and staked claims to this pristine area. Of course, they didn't ask the Native Americans living here whether they minded the intrusion. White folks seldom have asked brown-skinned natives for such permission.

The hunters and trappers who came to Ohio were little threat to the Ottawa, the Wyandot, the Shawnee and the Miami who called Ohio their home. But the farmer was the one whose presence and whose land-destruction policies riled the natives. Fences and the axe disrespected both Mother Nature and the native way of life.

The newly formed American government cared little about Native rights and began campaigns to suppress the natives who were trying to defend their lands. Two incompetent generals were sent to the Ohio territory by President Washington to do just that. However, both generals, St. Clair and Harmar, were badly defeated because the Native American tribes used 'insurgent' tactics on the hapless American forces.

I recall a list of military battle advantages and disadvantages that need to be assessed prior to engagement of troops. Romans, millenia ago, knew them. Some I recall include: leadership- purpose- tactics and formations - group cohesion - effects of terrain and environment - influence of equipment on tactics - deployment of battle lines - command and communication - morale - weather- discipline of troops and so forth. However, the sports term 'home court advantage' is one of the most important factors to consider.

The so-called insurgents in Iraq clearly have that home court advantage just as the Native Americans did in the late 1700's here in Ohio. Hopefully, our current set of military experts advising Mr. Bush have laid out this advantage before him; I could have done the same. Folks fighting for their own homeland are tenacious; that is a simple fact of history which Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld failed to grasp before their preemptive invasion.

IED's seemingly provide the ultimate advantage to the 'insurgents' which may, in fact, trump all of power of the mighty American military machine. One needs only recall our colonial fight with the mighty British military some 230 years ago to help understand home court advantage. Sadly, those ideologues who planned the Iraq War should have been better students of history.

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