“It was the best money I ever spent”

While doing stability operations in the Shiite-heavy south immediately following Saddam’s fall, Mattis was confronted with fiery Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s rapid trajectory toward insurgency kingpin. One day when al-Sadr was trying to pull together a mass meeting of his followers for another of his stem-winders, the kind that eventually launched his bloody uprising, Mattis cut him off at the pass, or, more specifically, at the bus station. Knowing that the cleric would use buses to bring followers into his urban stronghold from outside, Mattis hired as many buses in the region as he could get his hands on. “So when he went to contract his buses, they were gone,” Mattis says. “Didn’t have to shoot a single person. We sent the buses out for a trip — empty there, empty back. A waste of money? It was the best money I ever spent.”

from an otherwise unremarkable Esquire profile on various general officers.

3 responses to ““It was the best money I ever spent”

  1. So basically cut off their logistics. I wonder if anyone has tried this in other aspects of the enemy’s logistics train. We buy equipment from a lot of different countries to supply the ANA and ANP, but what if we started buying ammunition from Pakistan. It may not prevent any ammunition from reaching (whatever acronym we are calling bad guys these days), but in theory it should increase the price of ammunition so it would cost terrorists more thereby eating up their resources. Of course it is easier to bring more bullets into Afghanistan than buses so the correlation may not be sound. But I definitely like this strategy of defeating the enemy by preventing him from getting to the battlefield.

  2. I had a line on some pseudo-JAM dudes that were selling EFPs out of Sadr City. My sector was just down the road, so it was easy. They’d call me when they had one, I’d secure the cash, then they would drive into one of my checkpoints. $800 for a 10 incher that could have easily catastrophiced a vehicle? Sounds like a steal to me. Brigade disagreed and told me to quit after I bought 2 or 3. Strikes me as the bureaucrats not wanting to draw more cash, but I could be wrong. Driving the costs of EFPs up (supply-demand) seems like a good idea, too, right? Plus stripping it down and getting the bomb-makers signature … I dunno.

  3. maybe i’m looking at it wrong, but it seems like buying up EFPs is a pretty great idea. as long as you were buying legit ones and not creating a secondary market in pretend ones.

    you could figure out whatever the bad guys were paying for an EFP emplacement, double or triple the price, promise amnesty, and get them off the market. and exploit the device itself. maybe even have a UAV to shadow the guy who dropped it off and blah blah blah.

    does anyone know anything about the success of weapons buyback programs? domestically or in this context? i know they were briefly in vogue, and then they were not, but i don’t remember why.

    i guess to a certain extent this is what neighborhood cleanup projects and so on are supposed to be–you offer a better (and safer) wage for picking up trash than the bad guys can offer for emplacing IEDs. so instead of buying up the buses or the bullets or the EFPs, you’re buying the labor.

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