Thursday, June 28, 2007

The surge in Iraq

If you read anything today, make sure to read this, written by David Kilcullen, our senior counterinsurgency advisor in Iraq. The gist: we've made an important strategic shift in Iraq, from trying to hunt down and kill all the terrorists to instead suffocating their ability to work within -- and intimidate -- the lawful Iraqi citizenry. In Kilcullen's words:

These operations are qualitatively different from what we have done before. Our concept is to knock over several insurgent safe havens simultaneously, in order to prevent terrorists relocating their infrastructure from one to another, and to create an operational synergy between what we're doing in Baghdad and what's happening outside. Unlike on previous occasions, we don't plan to leave these areas once they’re secured. These ops will run over months, and the key activity is to stand up viable local security forces in partnership with Iraqi Army and Police, as well as political and economic programs, to permanently secure them. The really decisive activity will be police work, registration of the population and counterintelligence in these areas, to comb out the insurgent sleeper cells and political cells that have "gone quiet" as we moved in, but which will try to survive through the op and emerge later. This will take operational patience, and it will be intelligence-led, and Iraqi government-led. It will probably not make the news (the really important stuff rarely does) but it will be the truly decisive action.

Will it work? The obvious complaint is that the Iraqi Army and Police have, to date, shown no signs of being able to control the country (see recent National Intelligence Report on Iraq); some even think they are a large part of the problem. But the police may be ineffective now because we have failed to secure the regions the Iraqis are supposed to be policing. If we can effectively eliminate and hold large regions of Iraq -- big, big if -- we might begin to salvage something of the country.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Might want to read Juan Cole's article in today's Salon:

which details some of the results so far.

If Baquba is any indication, it's going to be a long hard summer....

-- Big Daddy

4:43 PM  

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