The insurgents' "way forward"?

The "brazen" and "unusual" attack on a joint US-Iraqi base north of Baghdad that killed two American soldiers and wounded seventeen more may represent a shift in tactics by Iraqi militias. As America moves forward with the new arrangement of smaller joint security stations, insurgents seem to be probing the arrangement for weaknesses - and new ways to inflict harm.

As American troops move into small combat outposts throughout Baghdad for the first time since the early months after the invasion in 2003, today’s attack underscored the inherent risks in the Bush administration’s new security strategy. [...]

The American combat outpost, located in the abandoned police headquarters in the center of the town, was fortified by large blast walls. Typically, the Americans keep one company of about 100 soldiers at such outposts.

The suicide bombers who attacked the outpost today timed their assault to inflict maximum damage, witnesses said.

Shortly before dawn, two suicide bombers drove cars filled with explosives into the outer perimeter of the outpost. As American soldiers tried to assess the damage and help the wounded, a third bomber drove his car into the building.

This reads like a blueprint for future attacks on joint stations.

Even as Shiite militias seem to have gone to ground in advance of the surge, possibly following the directive of the notably-absent Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, Sunni insurgents seem to be stepping up their challenge to US and Iraqi security. Even if the Sunnis are responsible for this particular attack, it is certain that their Shiite counterparts are taking copious notes.

Details on the suicide bombing are still being gathered. "Not typical" was all that one US security official would say to describe the attack - but such assaults on joint outposts, fortified but outside the protection of larger bases, may become all too common in days to come.

An assessment of the joint security station approach - or what little is publicly known of the strategy - is up at DKos.


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