Friday, March 17, 2006

Time: Operation Swarm "Fizzles" In Iraq

I know I'm coming late to this story, as Atrios and John at Americablog have already blogged about how Time reporter Chris Albritton has exposed Operation Swarmer in Iraq as a Potemkin assault that has netted a few weapons and even fewer insurgents and Mike at Bornatthecrestoftheempire was calling this bullshit assault Operation P.R. yesterday, but nonetheless I'm shocked by just how big a bust this is.

Here's Albritton in Time on Operation Swarmer:

The press, flown in from Baghdad to this agricultural gridiron northeast of Samarra, huddled around the Iraqi officials and U.S. Army commanders who explained that the "largest air assault since 2003" in Iraq using over 50 helicopters to put 1500 Iraqi and U.S. troops on the ground had netted 48 suspected insurgents, 17 of which had already been cleared and released. The area, explained the officials, has long been suspected of being used as a base for insurgents operating in and around Samarra, the city north of Baghdad where the bombing of a sacred shrine recently sparked a wave of sectarian violence.

But contrary to what many many television networks erroneously reported, the operation was by no means the largest use of airpower since the start of the war. ("Air Assault" is a military term that refers specifically to transporting troops into an area.) In fact, there were no airstrikes and no leading insurgents were nabbed in an operation that some skeptical military analysts described as little more than a photo op. What’s more, there were no shots fired at all and the units had met no resistance, said the U.S. and Iraqi commanders.


With the Interior Ministry's Samarra commando battalion, the soldiers had found some 300 individual pieces of weaponry like mortars, rockets and plastic explosives in six different locations inside the sparsely populated farming community of over 50 square miles and about 1,500 residents. The raids also uncovered high-powered cordless telephones used as detonators in homemade bombs, medical supplies and insurgent training manuals.

Before loading up into the helicopters for a return trip to Baghdad, Iraqi and American soldiers and some reporters helped themselves to the woman’s freshly baked bread, tearing bits off and chewing it as they wandered among the cows. For most of them, it was the only thing worthwhile they’d found all day.

48 suspected insurgents captured, 17 already released. 300 weapons. No shots fired.

Amazing payoff to the assault considering the Bush administration sold us Operation Swarmer yesterday as the "largest air assault" since the beginning of the war.

48 suspected insurgents captured, 17 already released. 300 weapons. No shots fired.

Jesus, these guys can't even run a P.R. operation well anymore!

And P.R. used to be their strong suit!

Operation Swarmer was launched after Iraqi intelligence indicated the Samarra area was loaded with insurgents and weapons.

The Iraqi intelligence was obviously wrong.

The Bushies will blame it on the Iraqis, but the reality is, Operation Swarmer is a fine metaphor for the Iraq war right from the beginning when Preznit Bush told us we had to take out Saddam before he used his WMD's on us.

Those nonexistent WMD's Bush had so many thousands of troops looking for in the summer of 2003 that we didn't have enough troops to quell the burgeoning Iraqi insurgency.

The same insurgency the American and Iraqi army can't find.

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