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Grange: Insurgency wasn't in Saddam's prewar plan

image: CNN military analyst David Grange
CNN military analyst David Grange

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The U.S. military turns up the heat on insurgents by launching fresh airstrikes in Iraq. CNN's Jamie McIntyre reports.
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(CNN) -- With U.S. forces in Iraq striking back at insurgents after deadly attacks on coalition forces, CNN's Soledad O'Brien talked to retired Brig. Gen. David Grange, a CNN military analyst, early Thursday about the strategies of attacks and counterattacks in Iraq:

O'BRIEN: From the attacks we saw yesterday and the days before as well, is it fair to say that the air war is back on in full force?

GRANGE: I don't know if [it's just] the air war. What you're going to have is a continuous air/ground approach. A lot of pressure is on the insurgents, more than before. The coalition forces kind of reduced patrolling and aggressive offensive operations during Ramadan in respect for the religious holiday.

And what happened is the insurgents actually picked their [operations] up, so the U.S. and other coalition forces have to respond in order to keep it in check and to keep the offensive on against the insurgent forces.

O'BRIEN: There's a story on the front page of The Washington Post today that says that this methodical insurgency to some degree was exactly Saddam Hussein's plan all along, because he knew he could not win any kind of conventional war -- that this was the plan, to create an insurgency later on when the American forces were occupying.

GRANGE: I don't think he was that clever, or would take that kind of a chance. I think I agree that he wasn't prepared and he was shocked with the speed that the coalition forces reduced his regime. And he was going to try to fight an insurgency during the war -- in other words, use guerrilla tactics and then maybe any pieces left over to go ahead and put something together, but not just lie back and wait for it all to go down and then start it.

So this is just these insurgent forces reorganizing more effectively and gaining more public support of the Iraqi people, and that's why the pace is picking up.

O'BRIEN: The U.S. response, the attacks on these insurgents yesterday, do you see that as a pre-reprisal, or would you say this is a whole new tactic on the part of the U.S.?

GRANGE: There's a lot of aggressive patrolling going on, but small-scale patrolling -- that quite often doesn't hit the news -- [has been] very successful, I might say. The strategy is to increase the pressure. This is not a tit for tat -- [like] if you blow up a bus and in retaliation take out an apartment building from a Hamas leader. It's not the same type of thing. This is a counterinsurgency operation, and they are picking up the pressure on the insurgents.

O'BRIEN: Is there a risk when you increase the pressure that way? You also encourage the insurgents to strike back?

GRANGE: They're going to strike back anyway because they smell blood and know that this is a key turning point in the ongoing war in Iraq. And as they see any kind of will of the United States start to wane or the people of Iraq itself saying, "Hey, this isn't worth the buy-in," they're going to increase pressure anyway. So U.S. pressure actually would be advantageous -- instead of reducing it, you're going to have the fighting going on. But at the same time, you've got to continue to do the nation-building and transition as fast as you can as well.

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