And the recent episode of the two Blackwater helicopters being brought down, and five private contractors murdered, show that while the Sunni and Shi'a are mainly fighting each other, they are still taking the time to target us. Most disconcerting is the increasing level of sophistication in these assaults. Suicide bombers are for the open-air marketplaces and such. They cannot get military personnel using those methods, so this is what they're doing:
- Hook. A State Department official protected by a Blackwater PSD (personal security detail) convoy was attacked.
- Line. QRF (quick reaction force) ground teams were dispatched from the Green Zone to relieve the convoy. These teams were ambushed. One retreated and the others were halted.
- Sinker. Two Blackwater Boeing Little Birds (small helicopter gunships) were dispatched to provide support. One was shot down and the other was damaged and forced to return to base. Recovery teams found the four bodies (one more died on the other helo that returned to the green zone) from the helicopter crash were stripped of their weapons.
IraqSlogger has the details.
One very important aspect of the coverage of the war that has been chronically under-reported involves the roles and responsibilities -- and level of accountability -- of private military contractors.
It's something of a boondoggle -- there are thousands of them there, many of them making six figures, on the taxpayers' dime. Many are on high-level security details, making five or six times what Army personnel make for the same job.
Others are involved in logistical or reconstruction efforts, many of these brought in from the Philippines and elsewhere, to a country where unemployment is north of 60% in most parts, and the populace, seeing the only available jobs going to foreigners, become increasingly embittered about the whole situation.
Thus they are now devising these little hit-and-run missions, luring contractors and service personnel into their traps, forcing them to expend lives and equipment. According to Robb, episodes such as this are presaging the transition to 5GW, and as we've seen extensively for the past four years, we still have not figured out how to effectively combat 4GW without massive, indiscriminate violence.
The biggest danger right now is that the "exterminate the brutes" claque gains more traction as the war of attrition continues. They are correct that we cannot fight with full efficiency with one arm effectively tied behind our backs; what they fail to acknowledge is that unleashing full powers of destruction is also its own war of attrition, and would exhaust the last remaining shred of comity with the rest of the world.
It is a choice between worse and worser, and kicking the surge can down the electoral street, for the next administration to deal with, simply allows the pattern to wear on a little more, and a little more.