Wednesday, November 01, 2006

CentCom Power Point: Sliding Towards Chaos

From the NYTimes:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 — A classified briefing prepared two weeks ago by the United States Central Command portrays Iraq as edging toward chaos, in a chart that the military is using as a barometer of civil conflict.

A one-page slide shown at the Oct. 18 briefing provides a rare glimpse into how the military command that oversees the war is trying to track its trajectory, particularly in terms of sectarian fighting.

The slide includes a color-coded bar chart that is used to illustrate an “Index of Civil Conflict.” It shows a sharp escalation in sectarian violence since the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February, and tracks a further worsening this month despite a concerted American push to tamp down the violence in Baghdad.

In fashioning the index, the military is weighing factors like the ineffectual Iraqi police and the dwindling influence of moderate religious and political figures, rather than more traditional military measures such as the enemy’s fighting strength and the control of territory.

The conclusions the Central Command has drawn from these trends are not encouraging, according to a copy of the slide that was obtained by The New York Times. The slide shows Iraq as moving sharply away from “peace,” an ideal on the far left side of the chart, to a point much closer to the right side of the spectrum, a red zone marked “chaos.” As depicted in the command’s chart, the needle has been moving steadily toward the far right of the chart.

An intelligence summary at the bottom of the slide reads “urban areas experiencing ‘ethnic cleansing’ campaigns to consolidate control” and “violence at all-time high, spreading geographically.” According to a Central Command official, the index on civil strife has been a staple of internal command briefings for most of this year. The analysis was prepared by the command’s intelligence directorate, which is overseen by Brig. Gen. John M. Custer.

So yesterday Prime Minister Maliki essentially orders the US forces out of Sadr City which in turn means that, at least temporarily, we have to stop looking for our missing soldier. Muqtada al-Sadr gets stronger and we get....well, certainly not stronger nor better positioned. The Shiite militias become stronger, more entrenched into what passes for a central government, forcing the Sunni insurgency to take more and more desperate steps. And our guys are caught in some truly nasty crossfire. And the plan is .......?

Maliki might just want to read up on what happened to this feller over here on the right -- I'm a thinkin' their fates will be shared.