token resistance

Steven Den Beste offers optimistic words about the progress of the war:

We successfully moved two entire divisions and a Cav regiment plus other units within striking range of Baghdad in only a few days, and there was only token resistance.

I think this is more right than he realises - "token" implies "for the sake of appearances" - and it's now obvious in hindsight that the Iraqi strategy was not to challenge American forces as they advanced (which would have been suicidal) but to simply let them pass by. This is the very nature of antisymmetric warfare. This deliberate strategy essentially refutes SDB's observation "Clearly we're doing a lot better than they are, on an absolute basis."

Likewise, his optimistic assessment:

Our ground combat formations have hardly been damaged. They're getting resupplied now. Three American divisions are moving into the theater. The Navy and Air Force get bombs and missiles from supply ships to replace the ones they've used. Our power in the theater is rising, even as our helicopters and jets continue to degrade the combat value of the Republican Guard.
Iraq's air force has been a total no-show, and they've only fired a handful of missiles. (So far.) What we've seen, rather, amounts to little more than harassment.

Well, don't rule out the Iraqi air force yet. Ultralights are being used for reconnaisance, which is effective since they can take advantage of the heavy air traffic to sneak around undetected:

The crowd of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft flying through this airspace probably accounted for the ultralight pilots� ability to fly over such a sensitive assembly area before being detected, according to Smith. The mass of aircraft showing up on radar screens makes it difficult for soldiers watching those screens to distinguish, for instance, an Iraqi ultralight aircraft from a small U.S. Army helicopter

Ultimately, the "harassment" that we have experienced is not the real worry. Note that in Basra, the British have faced a lot more than mere harassment. Likewise with An-Nasariyah - these aren't scatterred and "misleading-vividness" reports by embeds, these are real reports from the field (if you haven't already, see agonist.org's ongoing coverage). The Washington Post, LA Times, New York Times, Army Times, BBC - all are confirming that there is *real* resistance in Basra and An-Nasariyah on a scale that suggests real organization and functioning command and control. CNN is actually reporting that the only city Coalition forces have declared secure is Umm Qasr, right on the Kuwait border.

Were this war to be fought exclusively on the sand, SDB's assessment would actually be understating our advantages. But the reality is that we are indeed in for a long urban combat scenario. We haven't been able to secure Basra or An-Nasariyah, and treading too heavily near Karbala and Najaf will inflame the Shi'a whose hearts and minds we are ostensibly fighting this war for. And then there is Baghdad.

Of course, some analysts invoke the warblogfogvergnugen, saying that Iraqi tactics are unexpected, that our tactics are shrouded in mystery, that this will all end tomorrow just like it did with the Taliban (an unschooled gang of primitive thugs whose crude method of oppression relied on hangings and clubs). Special Forces Ex Machina. But these Iraqi tactics were predicted, and ignored by military planners during wargames.

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