View Full Version : The Surge: First Fruits

04-13-2007, 08:59 AM
13 April Washington Post commentary - The Surge: First Fruits (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/12/AR2007041201823.html) by Charles Krauthammer.

By the day, the debate at home about Iraq becomes increasingly disconnected from the realities of the war on the ground. The Democrats in Congress are so consumed with negotiating among their factions the most clever linguistic device to legislatively ensure the failure of the administration's current military strategy -- while not appearing to do so -- that they speak almost not at all about the first visible results of that strategy.

And preliminary results are visible. The landscape is shifting in the two fronts of the current troop surge: Anbar province and Baghdad.

The news from Anbar is the most promising. Only last fall (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/10/AR2006091001204.html), the Marines' leading intelligence officer there concluded that the United States had essentially lost the fight to al-Qaeda. Yet just this week, the Marine commandant, Gen. James Conway, returned from a four-day visit to the province and reported (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/09/AR2007040900775.html) that we "have turned the corner."

Why? Because, as Lt. Col. David Kilcullen, the Australian counterinsurgency adviser (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/04/AR2007020401196.html) to Gen. David Petraeus, has written (http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/03/from-the-advisors-bombs-in-bag/), 14 of the 18 tribal leaders in Anbar have turned against al-Qaeda. As a result, thousands of Sunni recruits are turning up (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/25/AR2007032500600.html) at police stations where none could be seen before. For the first time, former insurgent strongholds such as Ramadi have a Sunni police force fighting essentially on our side...

The situation in Baghdad is more mixed. Yesterday's bridge and Green Zone attacks show the insurgents' ability to bomb sensitive sites. On the other hand, pacification is proceeding. "Nowhere is safe for Westerners to linger," ABC's Terry McCarthy reported (http://time-blog.com/real_clear_politics/2007/04/is_the_surge_working_video.html) on April 3. "But over the past week we visited five different neighborhoods where the locals told us life is slowly coming back to normal." He reported from Jadriyah, Karrada, Zayouna, Zawra Park and the notorious Haifa Street, previously known as "sniper alley." He found that "children have come out to play again. Shoppers are back in markets," and he concluded that "nobody knows if this small safe zone will expand or get swallowed up again by violence. For the time being though, people here are happy to enjoy a life that looks almost normal."...

More at the link.

04-13-2007, 11:52 AM
It does my heart good to read that, thanks for posting it.

04-13-2007, 04:36 PM
CSIS, 12 Apr 07: Iraq's Troubled Future: The Uncertain Way Ahead (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/070412_iraqfuture.pdf)

...the Congress and American people must accept the fact that the US build-up will not be complete until June, that it will take months to get the Iraqi Army fully in place and ready for the mission, that the Iraqi police at best will be largely passive, that the US aid team and flow of aid will probable only be fully ready in August or September, and that the Iraqi government is not ready to provide services and a meaningful presence in the city and “ring areas.”

It is not going to be possible to see just how well the resulting mix of capabilities will counter the insurgency until the late spring of 2008 at the earliest. The various insurgents and hostile groups may be weakened or suppressed early on, but will do their best to react....
If only our politicians and the media could present current ops with this sort of broader perspective and instead of the instant success or complete failure nonsense. The "American people" have to understand before they can accept.

Cordesman makes another important observation:

...the US must accept the fact that the civil struggle for political and economic space is now more important than the insurgency, and that the US must prepare to do what it can even if its largely forced to withdraw its forces from Iraq. The US and Iraqi governments and forces now face what US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates described as four wars, all of which were interconnected. Secretary Gates said at a March 7, 2007 media roundtable with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Peter Pace:

“I think that the words "civil war" oversimplify a very complex situation in Iraq. I believe that
there are essentially four wars going on in Iraq. One is Shi'a on Shi'a, principally in the south; the
second is sectarian conflict, principally in Baghdad, but not solely; third is the insurgency; and
fourth is al Qaeda, and al Qaeda is attacking, at times, all of those targets. So I think I just -- you know, I -- it's not, I think, just a matter of politics or semantics. I think it oversimplifies it. It's a bumper sticker answer to what's going on in Iraq.

It would seem that Sunni versus Sunni struggles may have to be added to this list. Good
news to the extent they are Sunni “nationalist” vs. Sunni Islamist extremist. Uncertain
news because the Islamist may win and even if the Sunni “nationalists” win, this does not mean the winner will support the government or US on any basis other than short term expediency...
Full 22 page report at the link.

04-22-2007, 10:14 AM
22 April Washington Post - Top U.S. Officers See Mixed Results From Iraq 'Surge' (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/21/AR2007042101471.html?hpid=topnews) by Ann Scott Tyson.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said the ongoing increase of nearly 30,000 U.S. troops in the country has achieved "modest progress" but has also met with setbacks such as a rise in devastating suicide bombings and other problems that leave uncertain whether his counterinsurgency strategy will ultimately succeed.

Assessing the first two months of the U.S. and Iraqi plan to pacify the capital, senior American commanders -- including Petraeus; Adm. William J. Fallon, head of U.S. forces in the Middle East; Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of military operations in Iraq; and top regional commanders -- see mixed results. They said that while an increase in U.S. and Iraqi troops has improved security in Baghdad and Anbar province, attacks have risen sharply elsewhere. Critical now, they said in interviews this week, is for Iraqi leaders to forge the political compromises needed for long-term stability...

Dr Jack
04-23-2007, 03:21 AM
From President Bush's speech to the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan on April 20, 2007:.


General Petraeus has been carrying out this new strategy for just over two months. He reports that it will be later this year before we can judge the potential of success. Yet the first indicators are beginning to emerge -- and they show that so far, the operation is meeting expectations. There are still horrific attacks in Iraq, such as the bombings in Baghdad on Wednesday -- but the direction of the fight is beginning to shift...

The most significant element of our new strategy is being carried out in Baghdad. Baghdad has been the site of most of the sectarian violence; it is the destination for most of our reinforcements. So far, three additional American brigades totaling about 12,000 troops have reached the Baghdad area; another brigade is in Kuwait preparing to deploy; and one more will arrive in Kuwait next month. The Iraqi government is also meeting its pledge to boost its force levels in the city. For every American combat soldier deployed to Baghdad, there are now about three Iraqi security forces -- giving us a combined total of nearly 80,000 combat forces in the Baghdad area.

My point is, is that the American combat forces are not alone in the effort to secure the nation's capital. And just as important as the growing number of troops is their changing position in the city. I direct your attention to a map showing our troop presence around Baghdad late last year. This is how we were positioned. Most troops were at bases on the outskirts of the city. They would move into Baghdad to clear out neighborhoods during the day, and then they would return to their bases at night. The problem was that when our troops moved back to the bases, the extremists, the radicals, the killers moved back to the neighborhoods.

And we're changing. Part of our strategy change, part of the new mission in Baghdad is for American troops to live and work side by side with Iraqi forces at small neighborhood posts called joint security stations. You can see from this map, there are now more than two dozen joint security stations located throughout Baghdad; more are planned. From these stations, Iraqi and American forces work together to clear out and then secure neighborhoods -- all aimed at providing security for the people of Baghdad. If a heavy fight breaks out, our forces will step in, and Iraqi forces learn valuable skills from American troops; they'll fight shoulder to shoulder with the finest military every assembled.

This new approach to securing Baghdad brings risks. When I announced the new operation, I cautioned that more troops conducting more operations in more neighborhoods would likely to bring more casualties. Since the security operation began, we have seen some of the highest casualty levels of the war. And as the number of troops in Baghdad grows and operations move into even more dangerous neighborhoods, we can expect the pattern to continue.

04-23-2007, 04:55 PM
Attached are two articles, one written by Max Boot the other by Fred Kagan, both give a pretty good and honest assessment of the surge after 2 months of effort. Pretty balanced report. I would like to see more emphasis put on the team that Gen Petraeus and AMB Crocker are forming. For the surge to work, and for that matter success in Iraq, the partnership bewteen Petraeus and Crocker is probably the most critical realtionship in the country. A Joint Campaign plan between MNF-I and the Country team to provide strategic direction and synchronization of efforts is a key docuement that should be forth coming from this dynamic team.

--------ed. by SWC Admin -----------
Attachments deleted. See links and excerpts in posts #8 and #10 this thread.

04-23-2007, 05:14 PM
For the surge to work, and for that matter success in Iraq, the partnership bewteen Petraeus and Crocker is probably the most critical realtionship in the country.

I disagree. The most important relationships in the country are not between Americans, but between Iraqis, or possibly Americans and Iraqis.

The surge is not sustainable over the long term even given political will because of the relatively small size of deployable Army and Marine Corps combat units. Is Iraq worth sacrificing the viability of the volunteer military?

The most important political developments happening right now are not in Washington, D.C. but in Baghdad, Ramadi, Baqubah, and Mosul. IF the Sunni insurgent groups can unite around a unified political program, for instance the one put out by HAMAS-Iraq (http://www.alquds.co.uk/index.asp?fname=today\22s19.htm&storytitle=ff%20%CD%E3%C7%D3%20%C7%E1%DA%D1%C7%DE% 20%20%CA%DA%E1%E4%20%DA%E4%20%C7%E1%CE%D8%E6%D8%20 %C7%E1%DA%D1%ED%D6%C9%20%E1%C8%D1%E4%C7%E3%CC%E5%C 7%20%C7%E1%D3%ED%C7%D3%EDfff&storytitleb=&storytitlec=), and eventually come to a working compromise with a unified Shia-Kurd political alliance that also includes the major elements of the Mahdi Army, then victory in Iraq is assured. A low-level war against AQIZ elements and hardcore insurgents on both the Shia and Sunni sides would ensue, along with likely violent political struggle between Shia groups in the south. However, the ultimate viability of Iraq would be assured.

Anything else and fragmentation is most likely.

04-23-2007, 08:42 PM
30 April edition of the Weekly Standard - Can Petraeus Pull It Off? (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/551cokdv.asp) By Max Boot.

The news from Iraq is, as usual, grim. Bombings, more bombings, and yet more bombings--that's all the world notices. It's easy to conclude that all is chaos. That's not true. Some parts of Iraq are in bad shape, but others are improving. I spent the first two weeks of April in Baghdad, with side trips to Baqubah, Ramadi, and Falluja. Along the way I talked to everyone from privates to generals, both American and Iraqi. I found that, while we may not yet be winning the war, our prospects are at least not deteriorating precipitously, as they were last year. When General David Petraeus took command in February, he called the situation "hard" but not "hopeless." Today there are some glimmers of hope in the unlikeliest of places.

Until recently Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, was the most dangerous city in Iraq if not the world. It was run by al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which had declared it the capital of its Islamic State of Iraq. The Iraqi police presence was limited to one police station, which the police were afraid to leave. Soldiers and Marines engaged in heavy combat every day, losing hundreds of men since 2003, simply to avoid having insurgents overrun the government center and close down Route Michigan, the main street.

That began to change last year when the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Armored Division expanded the U.S. troop presence on the west side of town...

Much more at the link...

04-23-2007, 09:11 PM
Anonymous sources often means "the voices in my head told me."


I wish I had your optimism. As events in Virginia unfolded, I found myself wondering what we as a country would do if attacked. I’m not sure most in this country have what it takes to defend their own country—the ones who do are in the military, but it might require more than just the military to defend our country.

I like the subsequent statement a tad better:
Clear and hold is ok if you have the 10 million men in the Army, but we don’t.

04-24-2007, 12:28 AM
30 April edition of the Weekly Sandard - Friends, Enemies and Spoilers (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/550bllyz.asp) by Frederick Kagan.

The new effort to establish security in Iraq has begun. At this early stage, the most important positive development is a rise in hostility to al Qaeda in the Sunni community. Al Qaeda has responded with its own "surge" in spectacular attacks, which so far has not revived support for the terrorists or reignited sectarian violence. The Coalition has also made unexpectedly rapid progress in reducing the power of Moktada al-Sadr, including killing or capturing more than 700 members of his Mahdi Army. At the same time, the rhetoric of the Iraqi government has changed dramatically, and there are early indications of an increased willingness to attempt reconciliation among Iraq's Arabs. Meanwhile, some challenges are intensifying. Diyala province in particular poses serious problems that do not admit of easy or rapid solutions. On balance, there is reason for wary optimism.

President Bush announced the new strategy on January 10, and shortly thereafter named General David Petraeus overall commander of Coalition military forces in Iraq. His mission: establishing security for the Iraqi people and only secondarily transitioning to full Iraqi control and responsibility. In January, five new Army brigade combat teams started reaching Iraq at the rate of one a month. An additional division headquarters to assist with command and control and an additional combat aviation brigade are also headed to Iraq, along with logistics, military police, and other enablers. No timeline for the increased American presence has been announced, although public comments suggest it will last at least through the fall and probably into early 2008. Activation warnings to National Guard brigades and the extension of the tours of Army brigades already in Iraq from 12 to 15 months, issued in April, would make such an extension possible.

The new strategy resulted from a combination of Iraqi proposals and discussions within the Bush administration and among American commanders. The collaborative nature of the plan led to the creation of dual chains of command: American forces report to Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I), and from him to Petraeus. Iraqi forces, both army and police, report through their own commanders to one of two division commanders (one on either side of the Tigris River, which divides Baghdad). Those commanders report to Lieutenant General Abboud Gambar, commander of Operation Fardh al-Qanoon (Enforcing the Law), the Iraqi name for what we call the Baghdad Security Plan. Gambar reports to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. This bifurcation of command poses significant challenges of coordination, but Generals Petraeus, Odierno, and Gambar have developed tactics that mitigate them...

Much more at the link...

04-26-2007, 08:54 AM
26 April Washington Post commentary - One Choice in Iraq (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/25/AR2007042502410.html) by Senator Joe Lieberman.

... What is needed in Iraq policy is not overheated rhetoric but a sober assessment of the progress we have made and the challenges we still face.

In the two months since Petraeus took command, the United States and its Iraqi allies have made encouraging progress on two problems that once seemed intractable: tamping down the Shiite-led sectarian violence that paralyzed Baghdad until recently and consolidating support from Iraqi Sunnis -- particularly in Anbar, a province dismissed just a few months ago as hopelessly mired in insurgency.

This progress is real, but it is still preliminary.

The suicide bombings we see now in Iraq are an attempt to reverse these gains: a deliberate, calculated counteroffensive led foremost by al-Qaeda, the same network of Islamist extremists that perpetrated catastrophic attacks in Kenya, Indonesia, Turkey and, yes, New York and Washington...

04-26-2007, 10:05 PM
26 April Washington Post - Petraeus: Iraq Situation Is 'Exceedingly Challenging' (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/26/AR2007042600896.html?hpid=topnews) by William Branigin.

A surge of U.S. troops into Iraq has achieved "some notable successes" in recent months, but the situation remains "exceedingly challenging" as Americans battle a resilient al-Qaeda network capable of spectacular attacks and deal with a fractious Iraqi government composed of political leaders with "narrow agendas," the top U.S. commander in Iraq said today.

Presenting a mixed picture to Pentagon reporters at a news briefing, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus declined to specify how many U.S. troops might need to stay in Iraq in coming years. But he said the U.S. effort "clearly is going to require enormous commitment and commitment over time." He also warned that it "may get harder before it gets easier" and told Americans to be prepared for "more combat action and . . . more casualties" as troops move into new areas.

While al-Qaeda is "probably public enemy number one" in Iraq, Petraeus said, Iran has become increasingly active, providing help to "extremist secret cells" that have targeted U.S. forces. He said a group that carried out a brazen assault on a U.S. post in Karbala in January, killing one American soldier on the spot and four others after abducting them, had links to Iran, although there was no evidence of Iranian involvement or direction in that particular attack.

Petraeus pointed to "heartening" signs that Sunni Muslim Arabs in the western province of Anbar are increasingly "turning against al-Qaeda" and joining the Iraqi security forces to fight against the largely foreign-led group...

CQ Transcripts Wire via Washington Post - Gen. Petraeus Holds Defense Dept. News Briefing (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/26/AR2007042601332.html).

26 April New York Times - Senate Passes Iraq War Bill Requiring Pullout (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/26/washington/26cnd-cong.html?_r=1&hp=&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1177624971-hrr1RJJC0xULwFkLqLC1Fw) by Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny.

The Senate narrowly passed a $124 billion war spending bill early this afternoon after an emotional debate about the best way forward in Iraq. The vote will send the measure to President Bush, who has vowed to veto it because it would require American troops to begin withdrawing by Oct. 1.

The 51-46 vote, far short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override Mr. Bush’s veto, came after a morning-long debate in which supporters of the bill called it a way to make the Iraqis take responsibility for their own security, while opponents called it a blueprint for defeat...

John T. Fishel
04-27-2007, 12:11 AM
On March 31, 1987 the FMLN conducted a major attack on 4th Brigade HQ in El Salvador killing a large number of troops and one US advisor. It "proved" that the ESAF was not winning the war despite the fact that overall killing was down and the government was both governing and the economy was slowly recovering. In Nov 1989 the FMLN launched a major offensive in San Salvador which caused significant disruption and the effects of which were compounded by the stupid atrocity of killing the Jesuits at the UCA on the orders of the emergency city commander. Nevertheless, when the war ended in 1992 the government and ESAF had achieved all their stated war aims. The point is that while no analogy is the same as the situation it seeks to enlighten, it can shed light on the nature of a different conflict. Iaq is not El Sal but the Iraqi insurgents can mount spectaculars any time they choose. And a major offensive like 1989 (or TET 68) would be an operational and tactical disaster for them. Unfortunately, our Congress seems prepared to view any spectacular or major defeat for the insurgents as an American defeat even if it is clearly a tactical and operational victory.

Tom Odom
04-27-2007, 12:22 AM
And modern COIN theory as expressed in Kilcullen's 28 for example, suggests that such offensives are to be expected. That is hardly surprising; it is entirely logical. An insurgent movement losing its grip would seek to regain the initiative.

Now the real issue is how does that apply to Iraq. I am not sure that either side of this debate or me as I see myself in the middle can make any judgement as yet. I listened to GEN Petraeus today and that's what I heard him say. The dilemma in this is his candid assessment maybe too late to alter the poltical reality that GEN (ret) McCaffrey described so accurately in his even more candid assessment.



04-27-2007, 02:50 AM
I heard him some with the media. His flow of words reflected real confidence and conviction on his part. He spoke easily and in a relaxed manner, neither too clinical and abstract nor conjoling or consoling and certainly not at all condescending. He elaborated fully and freely and was not once defensive. IMO, the media was impressed and for once respectful in a genuine way. His bearing and ability coupled with Bush's pending veto of the just-passed Senate bill gives pause for hope, that much is certain. General P. is a steady man at the helm, there can be no doubt of that and the Anbar progress certainly helps too.

05-11-2007, 06:50 AM
11 May Washington Times commentary - Interim Report on the Surge (http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20070510-092026-5150r.htm) by Michael O'Hanlon.

Viewing trends through April, it is possible to be a bit more specific now about what is and what is not with the surge-based strategy so far. That said, it must be underscored that with only three of the five additional planned U.S. brigades in place, and only about half of all "joint security stations" established throughout Iraq's neighborhoods, results must be viewed as provisional.

On the positive side, extrajudicial killings are down substantially in Iraq, with official U.S. data showing a two-thirds reduction relative to January levels...

There are some additional good signs. Most notably, the willingness of Sunni tribal leaders in Al Anbar Province to collaborate with each other as well as U.S. and Iraqi authorities in opposing al Qaeda in that region has been very heartening. Correspondingly, violence is down in the region, with reported daily attack rates in and around Ramadi declining from 25 to just four over recent weeks.

That said, on balance it is hard to view the surge as a success to date. Two major problems stand out...

The first major enduring problem is the continued resilience of al Qaeda and related terrorist elements...

Second, Iraqi political compromise remains very limited. All American officials including Gen. David Petraeus underscore the degree to which the surge cannot succeed based on a narrow military logic. At best, it can create political space for compromise that has often proved elusive during Iraq's periods of most intensive violence...

05-22-2007, 06:24 AM
"The Case for U.S. Military Disengagement from Iraq"

Author: Steven Simon, Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies

After the Surge: The Case for U.S. Military Disengagement from Iraq is premised on the judgment that the United States is not succeeding in Iraq and that Iraq itself is more divided and violent than ever. It concludes that the administration’s decision to increase U.S. force levels will fail to prevent further deterioration in the situation—and that there is no alternative policy with the potential to turn things around.

As a result, Simon urges the United States to disengage militarily from Iraq, a disengagement that in his view should involve a negotiated accord with Iraq’s government, a dialogue with Iraq’s neighbors, and new diplomatic initiatives throughout the region. Simon argues that if the United States does all this, it can minimize the strategic costs of its failure in Iraq and even offset these losses in whole or in part.


05-22-2007, 09:26 AM
22 May Washington Post commentary - After the Surge (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/21/AR2007052101439.html?hpid=opinionsbox1) by David Ignatius.

President Bush and his senior military and foreign policy advisers are beginning to discuss a "post-surge" strategy for Iraq that they hope could gain bipartisan political support. The new policy would focus on training and advising Iraqi troops rather than the broader goal of achieving a political reconciliation in Iraq, which senior officials recognize may be unachievable within the time available.

The revamped policy, as outlined by senior administration officials, would be premised on the idea that, as the current surge of U.S. troops succeeds in reducing sectarian violence, America's role will be increasingly to help prepare the Iraqi military to take greater responsibility for securing the country...