American Forces Press Service # While the number of attacks against coalition troops in Iraq has remained constant, the tactics enemy forces use have changed, coalition officials said today.
The nature of enemy action against coalition forces has changed since the end of major combat operations May 1, said coalition officials in Baghdad.
Enemy forces are moving away from small-unit infantry attacks against coalition forces. Regime holdouts are moving toward more hit-and-run
attacks, using improvised explosive devices, mortars or rocket-propelled grenades.
“They are using different tactics so they do not need to engage our forces
directly,” said a Combined Joint Task Force 7 spokesman in Baghdad. “If they
stay to fight, they die.”
The change in tactics did not create a rise in the number of incidents.
Officials said roughly half of the attacks against coalition forces are
small, with fewer than six people ambushing coalition convoys or patrols.
The other half is a mix of improvised explosive devices, remotely fired
rockets or mortar attacks. The targets often are Iraqis rather than
coalition personnel. “These elements are trying to discourage the population
from cooperating with the coalition,” the spokesman said.
The number of attacks fluctuates. The beginning of Maysaw six to 30 attacks
each day. The upper number has dropped; in October, the average has
fluctuated from the mid-teens to low 20s.
“I think what we all need to understand is that (with) some of these
improvised explosive devices, all that is required is someone with a paper
bag or a plastic bag to drop it as a walk-by,” said Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo
Sanchez, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 7, during a press briefing
Oct. 2. “I don’t know that my security measures are too lax or too weak at
this point. I think what it requires is for us to remain vigilant
constantly, which is what we are trying to do. It requires us to work with
the local population.”
And coalition personnel are working with local Iraqis. The coalition
“offensive” is often fought by building schools, stocking hospitals or
repairing power pylons rather than with bullets, coalition officials said.
Coalition Provision Authority officials said more than 8,000 separate
projects all over Iraq are aimed at improving life for the average person.
But there will still be casualties, Sanchez warned. “I have repeatedly
stated that as long as we are here, the coalition, and specifically the
American forces, need to be prepared to take casualties,” he said.
Coalition forces are still encountering Baathist remnants, he said. The area
west of Baghdad and through Tikrit is especially dangerous. “We should not
be surprised if one of these mornings we wake up and in fact there has been
a major firefight with significant casualties, or a significant terrorist
attack that has killed significant numbers of people,” Sanchez said. “This
is still a war zone.”
Coalition forces are working to minimize casualties by examining what the
enemy is doing and modifying coalition tactics.
“We synchronize our operations with the Iraqi security capacities that are
out there, to try to accomplish our mission at least cost,” Sanchez said.
“Every single day, my focus is to attempt to accomplish that mission very
aggressively, but yet be able to preserve the human cost to the American