Skip to comments.Iraq battling more than 200,000 insurgents: intelligence chief
Posted on 01/04/2005 12:54:36 PM PST by Rennes Templar
BAGHDAD, Jan 3 (AFP) - Iraq's insurgency counts more than 200,000 active fighters and sympathisers, the country's national intelligence chief told AFP, in the bleakest assessment to date of the armed revolt waged by Sunni Muslims.
"I think the resistance is bigger than the US military in Iraq. I think the resistance is more than 200,000 people," Iraqi intelligence service director General Mohamed Abdullah Shahwani said in an interview ahead of the January 30 elections.
Shahwani said the number includes at least 40,000 hardcore fighters but rises to more than 200,000 members counting part-time fighters and volunteers who provide rebels everything from intelligence and logistics to shelter.
The numbers far exceed any figure presented by the US military in Iraq, which has struggled to get a handle on the size of the resistance since toppling Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003.
A senior US military officer declined to endorse or dismiss the spy chief's numbers.
"As for the size of the insurgency, we don't have good resolution on the size," the officer said on condition of anonymity.
Past US military assessments on the insurgency's size have been revised upwards from 5,000 to 20,000 full and part-time members, in the last half year, most recently in October.
Defense experts said it was impossible to divine the insurgency's total number, but called Shahwani's estimate a valid guess, with as much credence, if not more, than any US numbers.
"I believe General Shahwani's estimation, given that he is referring predominantly to active sympathizers and supporters and to part-time as well as full-time active insurgents, may not be completely out of the ballpark," said defense analyst Bruce Hoffman who served as an advisor to the US occupation in Iraq and now works for US-based think-tank RAND Corporation.
Compared to the coalition's figure, he said: "General Shahwani's -- however possibly high it may be, might well give a more accurate picture of the situation."
Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, put Shahwani's estimates on an equal footing with the American's.
"The Iraqi figures do... recognize the reality that the insurgency in Iraq has broad support in Sunni areas while the US figures down play this to the point of denial."
Shahwani said the resistance enjoys wide backing in the provinces of Baghdad, Babel, Salahuddin, Diyala, Nineveh and Tamim, homes to Sunni Arabs who fear they will lose influence after the elections.
Insurgents have gained strength through Iraq's tight-knit tribal bonds and links to the old 400,000-strong Iraqi army, dissolved by the US occupation in May 2003 two months after the US-led invasion, he said.
"People are fed up after two years, without improvement. People are fed up with no security, no electricity, people feel they have to do something. The army was hundreds of thousands. You'd expect some veterans would join with their relatives, each one has sons and brothers."
The rebels have turned city neighborhoods and small towns around central Iraq into virtual no-go zones despite successful US military efforts to reclaim former enclaves like Samarra and Fallujah, he said.
"What are you going to call the situation here (in Baghdad) when 20 to 30 men can move around with weapons and no one can get them in Adhamiyah, Dura and Ghazaliya," he said, naming neighborhoods in the capital.
The spy chief also questioned the success of the November campaign to retake Fallujah, which US forces have hailed as a major victory against the resistance.
"What we have now is an empty city almost destroyed... and most of the insurgents are free. They have gone either to Mosul or to Baghdad or other areas."
Shahwani pointed to a resurgent Baath party as the key to the insurgency's might. The Baath has split into three factions, with the deadliest being the branch still paying allegiance to jailed dictator Saddam Hussein, he said.
Shahwani said the core Baath fighting strength was more than 20,000.
Operating out of Syria, Saddam's half-brother Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan and former aide Mohamed Yunis al-Ahmed are providing funding and tapping their connections to old army divisions, particularily in Mosul, Samarra, Baquba, Kirkuk and Tikrit.
Saddam's henchman, Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, still on the lam in Iraq, is also involved, he said.
Another two factions, which have broken from Saddam, are also around, but have yet to mount any attacks. The Baath are complemented by Islamist factions ranging from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda affiliate to Ansar al-Sunna and Ansar al-Islam.
Asked if the insurgents were winning, Shahwani answered: "I would say they aren't losing."
Oh brother. If it were that large, our forces would have been run out of the country by now.
doesn't have to be garbage. Let's learn a lesson from history, hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, Alexander the great and an army of 50k soldiers defeated a Persian army of 300k. The region's fighting qualities should not be overestimated though.
emphasize the sympathizers and de-empathsize the terrorists/fighters on that total....
I would guestimate that the total number of terrorists/fighters is under 15,000, most of which is not Iraqi....
Sounds like a bit of taqqiyah-speak to me.
Their spy chief is an idiot.
Just because we declared victory in May 2003 doesn't mean that the enemy declared defeat.
What is 200,000 based on? Really? It's based on nothing. I say there's 1,000,345. My number's just as valid as anyone's. The fact is we don't know how many there are, but it's a good guess there aren't 200,000. In fact, if there are 5,000 they're doing a piss poor job.
From the article, some of our people seem to agree with him.
So they join the movement that is causing all these problems in the first place rather than fight against it . . . What to do if there is no security, for example? Go pick up a machine gun and help destoy a police station, of course. Logic has never been the Arabs strong suit has it?
If they have 200,000, then only .01% of them have enough guts to even attempt fight.
#1- I don't know who "we" is, but the U.S. didn't declare victory in May 03.
#2- How does "not being a force of 200K" equal "enemy declared defeat?"
Yes, even if there's a thousand there still totally inept by any military standards.
Sure, a regime like Saddam's requires a lot of sympathizers to stay in business. The Ba'ath Party wasn't a team of fifty guys running Iraq from a hardened bunker. Those who lost their privileged positions when their boss was ousted would certainly be trying to help disrupt the new government - in the hope that they might one day return to power. But it's still a stupid (but typical MSM) way to look at it to say that there are "200,000 insurgents". More accurately, 23 million+ people are glad the Ba'athists are gone and glad the US is around to help.
Only 200,000 tangos?.....what the heck are all the other Marine platoons gonna do?
I'm afraid the Americans are too tender hearted to deal effectively with this kind of action. Besides, mere interdiction and hunting down of insurgent forces in Iraq is inadequate. Iraq must somehow be preserved from infiltration from Iran and Syria, and possibly Arabia.
Recently a special on TV featured the life of Hannibal. They mentioned that at the last of the three major battles with the Romans, the Romans lost more men than the Americans did in the entire Viet Nam War. Rome's response was to refuse to negotiate with Hannibal, refuse to ransom any hostages, banish any Roman troops who managed to flee away from the battle to Sicily, and raise and even bigger army. They refused to accept defeat, even when defeated.
Consequnetly, they won.
There are lessons for both sides in Iraq from this. I hope, as an American, we can learn to be more like Romans.
Are you sure these troop assesments weren't made by a General named George McClellen. ("I'm telling you that there are 200,000 rebels facing me right now on the other side of that river")
The key thing will be the election - if it does take place with little Sunni participation then we can probably expect continued irruptions from Syria and Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Sunni "insurgency." How they deal with those will be key to the survival of a Shi'a/Kurd government.
The liberal press must be counting themselves in the 200,000.
You shouldn't get your material from discarded old Kerry speeches.
The President didn't declare anything but an end to major combat operations and the first phase of the war in Iraq (the fall of Baghdad). It wasn't really that complicated.
It's garbage. If they had 200,000 we'd be long gone with thousands of more dead.
Is he related to Baghdad Bob?
Perhaps their inept by conventional military standards but they aren't stupid. They need only outlast us. Though if you think about it we've been taken out of Saudi Arabia which was an al-Qaeda objective. We're tied down in Iraq and less so in Afghanistan. We look like occupiers in Iraq instead of liberators; an image that serves our enemies. We don't have OBL after 3 1/2 years or his number 2. We spend $100 billion a year to fight their so called ineptness without resolution. We pay more for oil than before the war. We are the only organized fighting force capable of holding Iraq togther during the coming civil war there. One wonders why we would even want to to hold the pieces together.
I don't think the numbers are in-acurate. What I do think is that our military does not hand out information as to what their real estimates are for a number of reasons. Just the number of Fedaymen (Iraqi special loyal Army group) easily had over thirty or forty thousand strong. Probably less then 5K of them got killed during the war. They, like most of the regular Army that did not get killed just stopped fighting when they realized the gig was up. Now with guys like Saddams general Izzat el Douri and other top Intel generals etc., not captured earlier on, running the insurgency from Syria, and funded by lots of bucks, things simply have gotten to the point where they are running a pretty good insurgency. You don't fight American Army and Marines face to face unless you have no other choice. You create a very long miseriable insurgencies that breaks the will of the Iraqi people, to cause havoc etc..
For those that are not aware..........Any large organized resistance would be over in a few hours or less once our Army and Marines spotted any concentrations of enemy. If one looks at what happened in Fallujah, as usual they did not mass into any fighting force in the conventional way. They know they cannot win battles against us. They must continue hit and run tactics, mostly aimed at Iraqi citizentry to keep them hateing us, and making many of them forget how much we have done in humanitarian aid for their peoples.
Surely our Intel tries it's best to locate groups and then take them out as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, we cannot kill lots of em at a time. They are not going to mass in one area to be annihilated within hours.
SO? What is/was the population of Tikrit? The whole clan is "after us?"
Where were all these "fed up" Iraqis under Saddam? I guess they have have the ability to fight against their freedom, but not for it.
It was based on exit polls! He can't be wrong.
I flippin' doubt it...not enough by at least half.
"no electricity, people feel they have to do something. "
This is pure BS. The country has more power now for more hours regulary then it had before we went in. There are many towns/hamlets etc., in many of the 18 provinces that never had any power grid, no water treatment plants, etc., which now have them for the first time in their lives. And we are quite aware of how bad many of the power generation facilities where prior to the war. It will take time to put into use brand new turbines and associated equipment to increase the whole countries power grid to the planned 600 megawatts plus planned over a year back. So much was in bad shape, we did not realize just how bad it was until after the fact. This is no ones fault. Internal info was just not available to paint a more accurate picture.
I hope you gentle readers are careful as to how you base info in one article against the two years worth of info that has been produced on these issues.
"If it were that large, our forces would have been run out of the country by now."
By who? 200,000 camel jockeys? Please. These camel f**kers don't have a chance against our boys.
Our armed forces simply need to slaughter more of 'em.
Exactly right. If anyone had any sense of war, they would see the folly of stating such numbers. The terrorists will be defeated; it is only a matter of time. This is all playing out as well as can be expected. War is messy.
They're a gang of hateful, drugged, suicidal terrorists bent on thwarting an emerging democratic society through random terror, operating under the guise of a party. The only thing they can do is hit and run. I say in one year most of them will be dead or captured.
The victory declared was over Saddam and his defeat. Not the defeat of terrorism or actions by terrorists from outside of Iraq. The leftist still think Bush and his people put up the sign on the carrier, Mission Accomplished. That was put up by the crew. They felt they had accomplished their mission, which they had, and they proudly put it up. The leftist press took that and said Bush and party did it. He didn't. The Crew put it up.
We need to begin our exit plan shortly after the election with a tacit suggestion that the Shias get even for the Sunni Repression of the last decades. These Sunni idiots deserve what they get.\
I think this is an overestimation. There is probably more to the statements where the intelligence chief talks about the lower limits and upper limits of the estimates... and of course only the upper limits are included in the quotes.
But who knows... When they say the numbers outnumber the Americans, they neglect to mention that one American equals 100 terrorists in training and ability, and I may be underestimating our soldier by a factor of 100. =) In fact, I'm certain I am.
"....The leftist still think Bush and his people put up the sign on the carrier, Mission Accomplished. That was put up by the crew. They felt they had accomplished their mission, which they had, and they proudly put it up. The leftist press took that and said Bush and party did it. He didn't. The Crew put it up."
Tommy Franks suggested they put it up. And for good reason. As you stated. The war was defined quite clearly to remove Saddam from power, and neutralize his military. This was accomplished ahead of schedule. That was the "war". Then as defined from day one, we where to enter the SASO. Why do people make things so complicated? Notice I am not critical of your statement, simply adding to it.
"When they say the numbers outnumber the Americans, they neglect to mention that one American equals 100 terrorists in training and ability, and I may be underestimating our soldier by a factor of 100. =) In fact, I'm certain I am."
You got the right idea. If our Intel could find lets say ten thousand of them tighly clustered about some complex, in say an old steel mill..........few old broken down buildings, while most of them where assembled outside. Drop a daisy cutter on them, poof........ ratio:
one C130 crew = 10,000 mop heads.
One more quicky: 100 mop heads centered in two buildings in NE Fallujah firing off mortars from roofs, couple machine gunners on roofs spraying lots of badly aimed 50 cal into the air, as they all jabbed one more needle into their arms, while the rest are in the old stone two stone buildings....
Airstrike by a F-18 with a 2000lb JDAM. poof...........
one USA Marine or Navy Avaitor = 100 mop heads.
This is the way it has been from day one in Iraq for the most part. Problem is they just don't mass into groups where they can be taken out very quickly. At least not most of the time.
HOOAH.....save some for the Army..
I hope your right.
The crew put it up agreed. The fault is with us. We wanted it to be true and so declared it ourselves for the country and not their cruise. Unfortunately with 4th ID tied up on boats and unable to swing from Turkey into the Sunni areas in the west, the war really wasn't brought home to the sunnis there.
IF that number is remotely true, I'd suggest the current Iraqi hierarchy to order troops to show no mercy, and shooting now, and asking questions later.
I think we'll have to protect the Kurds out of moral obligation in any event, but I agree and I don't think we have to limit ourselves to a united Iraq if a civil war breaks out. A confederacy of states might be an acceptable alternative too in my book.
Faulty Towers Intel?
Don't believe anonymous sources. It's as bad as Katie Couric saying "some say the resistance numbers 200K."
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