Here's the latest manifestation of the US military strategy in Iraq to keep politically-sensitive American casualties down while trying to make progress against an entrenched insurgency. It comes as a part of Operation Phantom Phoenix (which should be called Operation Together Forward VI: The Undiscovered Country). One component of the operation is taking place in Arab Jabour, which already has had 80,000 lbs of bombs dropped on it since been declared safe a few months ago. More air raids last night:
“The strikes that we conducted (Jan. 20) were focused on IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and caches that we have targeted, that will allow us to get our ground troops further into the zone,” said Col. Terry Ferrell, 2nd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. commander. “These targets, the IEDs specifically, are designed as part of the defensive belt to prevent our Forces from entering into areas that we have not been before.”
So they're using F-18s and B-1s to bomb anything that looks like a makeshift bomb -- which could include piles of dirt. How this fits with the hearts and minds strategy of building support among the Iraqi population is not explained. Or, how, if IEDs have so multiplied that they have to be bombed out from the air, the US will ever be able to get out of Iraq.