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On Counterinsurgencies

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A while back, I downloaded the Counterinsurgency Manual . . . the one that was written by the incoming U.S. General in Iraq, David Petraeus.

Does any of this sound familiar?

One common feature of insurgencies is that the government that is being targeted generally takes awhile to recognize that an insurgency is occuring.  Insurgents take advantage of that time to build strength and gather support.  Thus, counterinsurgents often have to "come from behind" when fighting an insurgency.  Another common feature is that forces conducting COIN operations usually begin poorly.  Western militaries too often neglect the study of insurgency.  They falsely believe that armies trained to win conventional wars are automatically prepared to win small, unconventional ones.  In fact, some capabilities required for conventional success--for example, the ability to execute operational maneuver and employ massive firepower--may be of limited utility or even counterproductive in COIN operations.  Nonetheless, conventional forces beginning COIN operations often try to use these capabilities to defeat insurgents;  they almost always fail.

The military forces that successfully defeat insurgencies are usually those able to overcome their institutional inclination to wage conventional war against insurgents.  They learn how to practice COIN and apply that knowledge.
Emphasis mine.

UFO's attack Iran!

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Well, maybe "attack" is a bit optimistic, but They're Here (er, um, there), the Iranian FARS news agency says so.
Deputy Governor General of Kerman province Abulghassem Nasrollahi told FNA that the crash which was followed by an explosion and a thick spiral of smoke has caused no casualties or damage to properties.

He further denied earlier reports that the explosion has been the result of a plane or chopper crash, reminding that all the passing aircrafts have been reported as sound and safe.
Via Gateway Pundit and Instapundit.

"The New Way Forward in Iraq"

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Hot off the White House web site:

The President's New Iraq Strategy Is Rooted In Six Fundamental Elements:

  1. Let the Iraqis lead;
  2. Help Iraqis protect the population;
  3. Isolate extremists;
  4. Create space for political progress;
  5. Diversify political and economic efforts; and
  6. Situate the strategy in a regional approach.
  • Iraq Could Not Be Graver The War On Terror Cannot Be Won If We Fail In Iraq.  Our enemies throughout the Middle East are trying to defeat us in Iraq.  If we step back now, the problems in Iraq will become more lethal, and make our troops fight an uglier battle than we are seeing today.

Key Elements Of The New Approach: Security


  • Publicly acknowledge all parties are responsible for quelling sectarian violence.
  • Work with additional Coalition help to regain control of the capital and protect the Iraqi population.
  • Deliver necessary Iraqi forces for Baghdad and protect those forces from political interference.
  • Commit to intensify efforts to build balanced security forces throughout the nation that provide security even-handedly for all Iraqis.
  • Plan and fund eventual demobilization program for militias.


  • Agree that helping Iraqis to provide population security is necessary to enable accelerated transition and political progress.
  • Provide additional military and civilian resources to accomplish this mission.
  • Increase efforts to support tribes willing to help Iraqis fight Al Qaeda in Anbar.
  • Accelerate and expand the embed program while minimizing risk to participants.

Both Coalition And Iraqi:

  • Continue counter-terror operations against Al Qaeda and insurgent organizations.
  • Take more vigorous action against death squad networks.
  • Accelerate transition to Iraqi responsibility and increase Iraqi ownership.
  • Increase Iraqi security force capacity both size and effectiveness from 10 to 13 Army divisions, 36 to 41 Army Brigades, and 112 to 132 Army Battalions.
    • Establish a National Operations Center, National Counterterrorism Force, and National Strike Force.
    • Reform the Ministry of Interior to increase transparency and accountability and transform the National Police.

Key Elements Of The New Approach: Political


  • The Government of Iraq commits to:
    • Reform its cabinet to provide even-handed service delivery.
    • Act on promised reconciliation initiatives (oil law, de-Baathification law, Provincial elections).
    • Give Coalition and ISF authority to pursue ALL extremists.
  • All Iraqi leaders support reconciliation.
  • Moderate coalition emerges as strong base of support for unity government.


  • Support political moderates so they can take on the extremists.
    • Build and sustain strategic partnerships with moderate Shi'a, Sunnis, and Kurds.
  • Support the national compact and key elements of reconciliation with Iraqis in the lead.
  • Diversify U.S. efforts to foster political accommodation outside Baghdad (more flexibility for local commanders and civilian leaders).
    • Expand and increase the flexibility of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) footprint.
    • Focus U.S. political, security, and economic resources at local level to open space for moderates, with initial priority to Baghdad and Anbar.

Both Coalition And Iraqi:

  • Partnership between Prime Minister Maliki, Iraqi moderates, and the United States where all parties are clear on expectations and responsibilities.
  • Strengthen the rule of law and combat corruption.
  • Build on security gains to foster local and national political accommodations.
  • Make Iraqi institutions even-handed, serving all of Iraq's communities on an impartial basis.

Key Elements Of The New Approach: Economic


  • Deliver economic resources and provide essential services to all areas and communities.
  • Enact hydrocarbons law to promote investment, national unity, and reconciliation.
  • Capitalize and execute jobs-producing programs.
  • Match U.S. efforts to create jobs with longer term sustainable Iraqi programs.
  • Focus more economic effort on relatively secure areas as a magnet for employment and growth.


  • Refocus efforts to help Iraqis build capacity in areas vital to success of the government (e.g. budget execution, key ministries).
  • Decentralize efforts to build Iraqi capacities outside the Green Zone.
    • Double the number of PRTs and civilians serving outside the Green Zone.
    • Establish PRT-capability within maneuver Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs).
  • Greater integration of economic strategy with military effort.
    • Joint civil-military plans devised by PRT and BCT.
    • Remove legal and bureaucratic barriers to maximize cooperation and flexibility.

Key Elements Of The New Approach: Regional


  • Vigorously engage Arab states.
  • Take the lead in establishing a regional forum to give support and help from the neighborhood.
  • Counter negative foreign activity in Iraq.
  • Increase efforts to counter PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party).


  • Intensify efforts to counter Iranian and Syrian influence inside Iraq.
  • Increase military presence in the region.
  • Strengthen defense ties with partner states in the region.
  • Encourage Arab state support to Government of Iraq.
  • Continue efforts to help manage relations between Iraq and Turkey.
  • Continue to seek the region's full support in the War on Terror.

Both Coalition And Iraqi:

    • Focus on the International Compact.
    • Retain active U.N. engagement in Iraq particularly for election support and constitutional review.

Democrat Defeatists, continued

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A reminder from Melvin Laird (via Gateway Pundit) that we didn't lose Vietnam.  We quit.

The truth about Vietnam that revisionist historians conveniently forget is that the United States had not lost when we withdrew in 1973. In fact, we grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory two years later when Congress cut off the funding for South Vietnam that had allowed it to continue to fight on its own. Over the four years of Nixon's first term, I had cautiously engineered the withdrawal of the majority of our forces while building up South Vietnam's ability to defend itself. My colleague and friend Henry Kissinger, meanwhile, had negotiated a viable agreement between North and South Vietnam, which was signed in January 1973. It allowed for the United States to withdraw completely its few remaining troops and for the United States and the Soviet Union to continue funding their respective allies in the war at a specified level. Each superpower was permitted to pay for replacement arms and equipment. Documents released from North Vietnamese historical files in recent years have proved that the Soviets violated the treaty from the moment the ink was dry, continuing to send more than $1 billion a year to Hanoi. The United States barely stuck to the allowed amount of military aid for two years, and that was a mere fraction of the Soviet contribution.

Yet during those two years, South Vietnam held its own courageously and respectably against a better-bankrolled enemy. Peace talks continued between the North and the South until the day in 1975 when Congress cut off U.S. funding. The Communists walked out of the talks and never returned. Without U.S. funding, South Vietnam was quickly overrun. We saved a mere $297 million a year and in the process doomed South Vietnam, which had been ably fighting the war without our troops since 1973.

Those advocating withdrawal from Iraq have taken to reciting the old saying, allegedly from Benjamin Franklin:  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

But who's doing the same thing?  Who led the charge to cut off Vietnam at the knees, and who's leading the charge to do the same in Iraq?

The legacy of Democrat foreign/military policy

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Cold war (containment policy) = win
Korea = draw

Bay of Pigs = disaster
Cuban Missile Crisis = The last Democrat backbone sighting in human history
Vietnam escalation = disaster

Vietnam escalation = disaster

Iran hostage crisis = An Iranian Act of War is responded to with Carter-era malaise and fecklessness
Israel-Palestinian Accord = enabled the Intifada

Bosnia war = modest success
Somalia = Black Hawk Down
Dayton Agreement = Enabled the thug Arafat to maintain power

Let's now look at significant foreign policy initiatives of Republicans:
Gary Powers incident = oops! No harm done, really. Soviets drained significant resources into their anti-aircraft systems afterward.
Cold War = executed the policy

Vietnamization = Cleaning up the mess Democrat foreign/military policies made
China = Imagine the world had he not gone?

Iranian Hostage Crisis = Coincidence they were released the same day as Reagan took office?
Cold War = Ended it by out-spending the Russians and proposing "Star Wars."
Grenada = Snuffed out an attempt to create a Mini-Me Cuba

George H.W. Bush:
Kuwait-Iraq War = Possibly the greatest military victory in human history
Panama = Regime change completed, Drug-lord Noriega overthrown.

George W. Bush:
Iraq Liberation = Ultimate outcome still in doubt. People with the same anti-war mindset who were responsible for the failure to win in Vietnam are reprising their role here (which is about the only parallel between the two situations, actually.)

I'm not saying that Republican achievements in foreign/military policy are uniformly successful, but can someone tell me why anything Democrat leaders say regarding foreign/military policy has any credibility at all?

Bill Russell on education

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NBA player Bill Russell, speaking on an NCAA Convention panel on gang influences in academics (link goes to a PDF file):
"We have a responsibility to educate these kids," he said, "not just to read and write, but to educate them philosophically and even religiously.  Our duty, the educators', is to correct this culture because the nations with the best standard of living are the most educated places."
It's odd to think that such a statement would be considered notable let alone newsworthy, but we are talking about academia here.

A Primer on radical Islam

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Via Hugh Hewett, a link to a primer on global jihadism written by Peter Wehner, deputy assistant to the President and director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives.

The entire article is worth the time to read, but the concluding remarks are especially important:

It is the fate of the West, and in particular the United States, to have to deal with the combined threat of Shia and Sunni extremists. And for all the differences that exist between them -- and they are significant -- they share some common features.

Their brand of radicalism is theocratic, totalitarian, illiberal, expansionist, violent, and deeply anti-Semitic and anti-American. As President Bush has said, both Shia and Sunni militants want to impose their dark vision on the Middle East. And as we have seen with Shia-dominated Iran's support of the Sunni terrorist group Hamas, they can find common ground when they confront what they believe is a common enemy.

The war against global jihadism will be long, and we will experience success and setbacks along the way. The temptation of the West will be to grow impatient and, in the face of this long struggle, to grow weary. Some will demand a quick victory and, absent that, they will want to withdraw from the battle. But this is a war from which we cannot withdraw. As we saw on September 11th, there are no safe harbors in which to hide. Our enemies have declared war on us, and their hatreds cannot be sated. We will either defeat them, or they will come after us with the unsheathed sword.

All of us would prefer years of repose to years of conflict. But history will not allow it. And so it once again rests with this remarkable republic to do what we have done in the past: our duty.

(Of course, that this was written by someone working for Bush is enough to send the Bush Derangement Syndrome sufferers to stick their necks deeply into the sand. C'est la guerre.)

I'm a DVR guy now!

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The Palatial Abode entered the middle-of-the-first-decade-of-the-Twenty-First-Century this morning, as the nice DirecTV installer guy pulled away in his van at about 11:30 a.m., leaving a DirecTV HR-20 HD-DVR receiver behind, installed, and fully functional.

So, what do those obscure letters and numbers mean? Well, it's basically a satellite TV receiver with a hard disk inside it, which can record up to 200 hours of standard television (or, 50 hours of high definition TV).

So far, so good. I've recorded the movie Heartbeeps (a terrible little thing featuring Andy Kauffman and Bernadette Peters) and also, simultaneously, an hour of CNBC's "Street Signs."

The big, big, big plus is . . . it records.

The major disappointment is that the on-screen guide is significantly slower than the HD-20 receiver (which moved upstairs to be Snookums' Tennesee Lady Vol/Sports Pack-and WE/Oxygen network receiver). But, for the ability to record programs up to two weeks in advance, I'll take that trade. I'd had difficulties with my old VCR tapes (getting eaten by the recorder) as well as my older (2000-vintage) DVD-recorder unit (not recording reliably--that might have been due to bad media but it was really consistently bad).

(I also need to figure out how to re-program the upstairs DirecTV receiver remote to control the TV . . . a minor implementation detail to be sure, but Snookums seems to hate on a visceral level the concept of more than one remote control in any room . . . )

I'll post more if and when I find really neat or really awful things about DirecTV's HD-DVR receiver.

Darrent Williams and black culture

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Darrent Williams, a second-year cornerback for the NFL's Denver Broncos, died of a drive-by shooting while in his stretch limosine this morning in Denver.

As always happens when a young person is cut down in the prime of their life, the first question is "why?"

My attention is drawn to an article written by Byron Williams, a pastor from Oakland:
Black culture today, for all intents and purposes, is thug culture.

While not a blanket statement, we would be fooling ourselves if we did not acknowledge that this is the reality for too many young African Americans, regardless of economic status. For every African-American parent who spends painstaking hours trying to invoke messages of responsibility and hard work, there are larger, more influential forces overtly and covertly saying such things are reserved for "whites only."

How did we go from aspiring to excellence to glorifying debased and otherwise degrading behavior? Can this all be blamed on racism or the lack of affirmative action?

Today's so-called black culture finds its roots in prison behavior.

This does not mean that young whites and other groups do not engage in similar practices. What I am witnessing through personal, nonscientific observation is a black community embracing these behaviors so that they become synonymous with who they are. There appears to be no line of demarcation that separates the cultural statement de jour from their reality.
I do not know if Pastor Williams is black or white, although he is writing in a newspaper for the California Bay Area black community.  I do know that he is absolutely right.

Darrent Williams, rest in peace.

"The only terrorist victories are in the media"

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Strategy Page looks at the wars and hot spots in the world at the end of 2006:
International terrorism has created a international backlash and a war unlike any other. The only terrorist victories are in the media. On the ground, the terrorists are losing ground everywhere. There least refuges are places like Somalia, a few of the Philippine islands, and tribal regions of Pakistan. They are being chased out of Somalia and the Philippines, while Pakistan is under constant pressure to do the same.
Reading the whole article is educational--not only because it documents how many of the world's current conflicts are between radical Islam and whoever else the Jihadists encounter, but also how the Islamists are defeated every time they're confronted, as in Somalia.

The only way the Islamists win is if Old Media continues its suicidal anti-Western reporting.