Welcome to Medary.com Friday, June 14 2024 @ 06:10 AM CST

The "surge" is already successful

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Several items in the news indicate that our new strategy in Iraq is already working:

Item 1:  Sadr tells his Mahdi Army to stand down and for his followers to return to the Iraqi political process.

Last Friday, in a bid to fend off an all-out American military offensive, al-Sadr ordered 30 lawmakers and six Cabinet ministers under his control to end their nearly two-month boycott of the government. They were back at their jobs Sunday.

Al-Sadr had already ordered his militia fighters not to display their weapons. They have not, however, ceded control of the formerly mixed neighborhoods they have captured, killing Sunnis or forcing them to abandon their homes and businesses.

Item 2:  In the same article, Iraq Prime Minister al-Maliki tells Sadr his militia is no longer off-limits to American forces.
Iraq's prime minister has dropped his protection of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia after being convinced by U.S. intelligence that the group was infiltrated by death squads, two Iraqi government officials said Sunday.

By the way, did you know that all of the troops who make up the "surge" were scheduled to go to Iraq anyway?  The "surge" is simply speeding up the schedule to send new units in, along with delaying the return of some units which are already there.  That's it.

Meanwhile, the Small Wars Journal reminds:  Don't confuse the "surge" with the strategy.

What matters here is not the size of forces (though the strategy will not work without a certain minimum force size), but rather their tasks. The key element of the plan, as outlined in the President’s speech, is to concentrate security forces within Baghdad, to secure the local people where they live. Troops will operate in small, local groups closely partnered with Iraqi military and police units, with each unit permanently assigned to an area and working its “beat”.

This is different from early strategies which were enemy-centric (focusing on killing insurgents), or more recent approaches that relied on training and supporting Iraqi forces and expected them to secure the population.

The new strategy reflects counterinsurgency best practice as demonstrated over dozens of campaigns in the last several decades: enemy-centric approaches that focus on the enemy, assuming that killing insurgents is the key task, rarely succeed. Population-centric approaches, that center on protecting local people and gaining their support, succeed more often.

Here's how I look at it.  I can listen to and believe a bunch of politicians crying Withdraw!  Withdraw!, many of whom have never seen the business end of an AK-47, or I can listen to and believe a large group of professonal soldiers, including the guy who wrote the book updating U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine.  Now, I never served in the military--I guess I'm one of those "chickenhawks" that the left delights in attempting to shout down.  But I can either listen to the actual chickens, or I can listen to the actual hawks, to try to determine what the best path forward might be.

No matter which way we go, I think we owe ourselves an honest answer to a seemingly-simple question:  If we do XYZ, what happens next?