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Insurgents Changed Tactics After Fallujah Fight, General Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2005 – Insurgents in Iraq are increasingly employing suicide bombers and roadside explosives and not engaging U.S. and coalition forces in stand-up battles like the one at Fallujah last fall, a senior U.S. military officer said in Baghdad today.

"I think that the ability of the enemy to sustain high-volume attacks is just something that we haven't seen" since the Fallujah operation in November, Air Force Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, told reporters.

That operation was "a unique challenge," Alston noted, where U.S. ground troops engaged "thousands" of the enemy and drove them from the city.

The insurgents had used Fallujah as a haven and likely perceive their loss of the city as "a failure," Alston said. Since then, "we have seen nothing like those levels" of massed insurgent forces, he said.

The insurgents apparently have switched tactics, Alston said, noting they're increasingly using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and roadside bombs.

"We have seen, this spring, a move toward car bombs, because of the high pay-off" in causing casualties, Alston said. Many car bombers are thwarted before they can kill or wound, the general noted, thanks to security vigilance and an intelligence network that's improving daily. And it's not uncommon that car bombers "blow up before they get employed," Alston noted, or for explosives to fail to detonate.

Still, "those very lethal, precision weapons that the enemy uses have caused great concern and have significant effect wherever they're employed," Alston acknowledged. A suicide car bomber, he noted, drove a vehicle into a U.S. convoy in Fallujah on June 23. That attack killed five servicemembers and wounded 13.

The insurgents "have gone to more spectacular systems that can inflict more casualties per attack likely because they can't sustain high-volume attacks," Alston said. This development, he added, represents "a distinctive shift" in insurgent tactics.

It's also illustrative of an adaptable enemy "trying to be as productive (as) they can with the limited capacity that they're able to sustain," Alston said.

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