Sunni insurgents are demonstrating increasing
capability against the U.S. military and coalition forces still hampered by poor intelligence.
A report by the Washington Institute asserted that Sunni insurgents and
their Al Qaida allies continue to demonstrate increasing capability against
both coalition forces and Iraqi security units. The report said the
capability includes suicide strikes against Iraqi security facilities as
well as coordinated military-type operations.
The report said the Sunni insurgency could exploit the rotation of U.S.
troops as new inexperienced forces will have to learn about their
adversaries in Iraq. The biggest problem, the report said, will be the lack
of intelligence on Sunni capabilities and targets.
Author Jeffrey White assesses that the increased capability reflects a
Sunni insurgency organization that is well-organized and intent on a
campaign against Iraqis who have joined the U.S.-led coalition. White said
the coalition has been unable to obtain and distribute the intelligence
required to foil these strikes, Middle East Newsline reported.
"Despite the setbacks of November-December 2003, resistance elements
have demonstrated the capacity to mount high-impact terrorist- and
military-style operations while maintaining some level of more routine
attacks," the report said. "Their targeting and planning capabilities also
seem to be improving. They reflect the work of dedicated and embedded
organizations with substantial capabilities."
"As fresh units are introduced, these forces will inevitably begin
operations with less skill and knowledge regarding local environments,"
White, a former U.S. government intelligence analyst, said. "Even currently
deployed units have not received advance intelligence on certain important
incidents. As they withdraw to more secure locations outside towns and
cities, U.S. forces will perhaps lose some awareness of, and sensitivity to,
Written before the Shi'ite insurgency in April, the report said the
Sunni resistance has rebounded from their losses in November and December
2003. White cited the flurry of attacks in Faluja and south of Baghdad in
mid-February that killed about 125 people.
"The February 10-11 suicide bombings of Iraqi recruiting facilities were
shocking, high-visibility events, killing as many as 100 army and police
recruits and bystanders," the report said. "These incidents reinforced
widespread perceptions that the coalition is unable to prevent attacks on
important Iraqi targets, a fact that may have a chilling effect on
recruiting for the new security forces."
Michael O'Hanlon, senior fellow at the Brooking Institution, said the
Shi'ite revolt pointed out the inadequate U.S. force level in Iraq, which he
said would require about 150,000 soldiers. O'Hanlon said that for the past
year the U.S. military and other coalition forces were unable to perform
what he termed were vital security missions, such as the guarding of Iraqi
ammunition depots or border patrols.
"I'm still nervous that we haven't yet developed a serious strategy to
restore order in the Sunni Triangle, where we
have essentially taken ourselves out of many of these cities," O'Hanlon
said. "The marines are now trying to correct that mistake and get back in at
a terrible price to their own troops. But in terms of numbers of troops, my
impression is we may still not be quite high enough."