This is a first, and a demonstration of why the application of counterinsurgency tactics will be so difficult in the midst of a civil war. The joint patrol bases–they’re precinct houses, really–are vulnerable to enemy attack, which is why Generals Abizaid and Casey opposed the strategy. Two other thoughts:
–When John McCain says he’s worried about a Tet Offensive in Iraq, I suspect he’s thinking about a coordinated series of attacks on joint patrol bases throughout Baghdad.
–Senator Jack Reed seems to be absolutely right: the Shi’ite militias have gone to ground and we’ve been left to do their work for them, i.e. fighting the Sunni insurgency.
The problem is, joint patrol bases are absolutely crucial to the Petraeus COIN strategy. If there isn’t a constant presence in the neighborhoods, you can’t protect the population–which is the point of this mission.