The United States has seen what officials describe as a
significant improvement in the capability of Sunni insurgents in Iraq.
Officials said the insurgents have become better organized, equipped and
coordinated over the last few weeks.
[On Thursday, the U.S. military reported capturing a large amount of
plastic explosives in raids by the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division, according to Middle East Newsline. A
military statement said that in 14 raids the division seized 50 crates of C4
military-grade plastic explosive, 250,000 blasting caps, nearly 300 assault
rifles and 500 grenades.]
"It is getting more organized, and it is learning," U.S. Central Command
Gen. John Abizaid said. "It is adapting. It is adapting to our tactics,
techniques and procedures, and we've got to adapt to their tactics,
techniques and procedures."
"At the tactical level, they're [insurgents] better coordinated now,"
Abizaid told a
Pentagon briefing on Wednesday. "They're less amateurish, and their ability
to use improvised explosive devices and combine the use of these explosive
devices with some sort of tactical activity."
The Defense Department has concluded that the next three months will be
crucial in efforts to stabilize Iraq. A team of independent experts from the
Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies sent by the
Pentagon concluded that the the U.S. military has until November to stem the
Sunni insurgency and impose order on Iraq.
Officials reported increased coordination between loyalists of the
regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Wahabi combatants supported by
Saudi Arabia and criminals who are paid to attack U.S. troops. They said the
insurgents have improved their use of mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and
surface-to-air missiles, particularly against the army's quick-reaction
The general said much of the insurgency war is being conducted by
Islamic combatants, particularly Al Qaida or its supporters. Abizaid said
the Al Qaida-aligned Ansar Al Islam has been infiltrating northern Iraq from
Iran and has become a threat to the U.S. military presence. The bulk of the
insurgency threat, he said, continues to stem from Saddam loyalists,
particularly members of the former ruling Ba'ath Party.
"And then it's unclear, but it's troubling that Al Qaida either
look-alikes or Al Qaida people are making an opportunity to move against
us," Abizaid said.
Abizaid expressed confidence that the U.S. military can respond to the
improvement in the Sunni insurgency capability. The general said he does not
have evidence that the insurgents are being directed by a national command.
"But there is some level of regional command and control going on,"
Abizaid said. "And when I say regional, probably you look over at the Al
Ramadi area, there's probably something going on over there, if you look up
in the Tikrit-Baiji area, there's something up there, Mosul. That they are
all connected? Not yet. Could they become connected? Sure, they could