Officers Fault US Command
For 'Failure To
Surprise' In Iraq

BAGHDAD -- U.S. military sources said combat units have failed to develop effective tactics required to defeat the insurgency in Iraq.
The Abu Dhabi-based Gulf News reported that senior officers from the 82nd Airborne Division have criticized leading military planners for their force protection tactics.
"The result has been a lack of mobility and failure to surprise," a military source said. "By the time, we arrive at an insurgency stronghold, half the city knows about it."
The failed U.S. military tactics are based on a strategy for force protection that require the use of armored fortresses, heavy vehicles, heavy weapons and large forces to withstand insurgency attacks, Middle East Newsline reported.
The sources said U.S. commanders have overruled junior and mid-level officers who advocate the development of streamlined light combat units to initiate stealthy attacks on insurgents. They said the commanders have also refused to allow troops to enter Iraqi communities without heavy vehicles and weapons.
"The problem is that we all sit around in our bases and just wait for them to come and blow us up," another officer said. "It didn't used to be like that. We used to go out and take the fight to them. I can only think that someone in the Pentagon is scared of what will happen if we start taking casualties."
More than 1,400 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the U.S. invasion of March 2003.
In many cases, the sources said, U.S. commanders have ordered the withdrawal of troops when confronted by insurgents in an effort to reduce casualties. They said such orders have encouraged insurgency attacks.
The officers cited by the Gulf News said the U.S. military must demonstrate its ability to patrol anywhere in Iraq to ensure that the insurgents remain off balance. The sources said that despite nearly two years in Iraq, U.S. military commanders still fall back on tactics that surrender the initiative to insurgents..
"Of course it's more dangerous for us, but there's no alternative," a paratrooper from the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division said. "You can't catch an insurgent with a tank or helicopter, and you certainly can't if you're hiding behind a barricade."
"All too often we see Americans riding around in armored vehicles or running away when they get shot at," the paratrooper said. "It sends the wrong message and makes the insurgents think we're scared of them."
Another criticism by junior and mid-level officers was the reliance on military fortresses to house and protect U.S. troops. The sources said this has fostered a siege mentality and enable insurgents to operate freely around U.S. facilities.
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