View Full Version : Another Success Story

02-16-2006, 02:21 PM
16 Feb. Captain's Quarters - Another Success Story (http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/006356.php).

The Washington Post has an excellent article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/15/AR2006021502586.html)on the adaptations made by the US military to gain ground against the insurgencies in Iraq. Unfortunately placed on page A14, this in-depth look at the adjustments made by the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tall Afar shows that the US military has conducted thoughtful analysis of their successes and failures and continue to adapt tactics and strategies as a result...

So what changed? The unit commander, Colonel H.R. McMaster, changed the focus of the unit from simply fighting all comers to integrating a "hearts and minds" strategy to win the trust of ordinary Iraqis. He trained the unit in Arabic, Iraqi history, and customs in order to change their presence from menacing to respectful. He met with local tribal and civic leaders, even those sympathetic to the insurgency, and listened to their concerns. The 3rd ACR brought Iraqi soldiers into their operations and encouraged more to join them. Mostly they changed their tactics to confound the insurgents by taking advice from the local leaders.

When the time finally came to retake Tall Afar from the lunatics, they found that they had already captured most of them in the preparation phase. McMaster devised new battle tactics to flush out the rest without exposing American and Iraqi soldiers to IEDs unnecessarily. The result? Tall Afar's liberation came at a far lower price in both US and Iraqi lives and assets.

Read the entire article. Thomas Ricks' effort should not get lost on A14.

Merv Benson
02-16-2006, 07:14 PM
While the story was good and long overdue it had some serious ommissions. For one, it made no mention of the letters written by the Mayor of Tal Afar to McMaster as well as the one written to Gen. Casey. It is almost like the WaPo is trying to suppress these documents because they praise US forces and they tell how awful the enemy forces were.

Ricks also writes the story without any appreciation for the way the US military has been able to adapt. If you read anthing about the Tarawa campaign or the North African campaign in World War II, you see US commanders and troops who immediately assess the results and lessons learned and apply them to the next campaign. What McMaster did was in that tradition. As I pointed out in my blog, I think McMaster is one of the Army's rising stars and it would not surprise me to see four stars on his collar one day. I think one reason he is so good is because he understands history and applies the lessons learned.

Merv Benson
02-16-2006, 08:12 PM
Bill Roggio (http://billroggio.com/archives/2006/02/counterinsurgency_le.php#more) has a good take on this story.


The U.S. military is often accused as being incapable of fighting an insurgency, bot politically and militarily. The Washington Post hails the counterinsurgency efforts in Tal Afar as a model for U.S. forces to follow in Iraq (note the media generally ignored this operation last summer, or when they did address it, they portrayed Tal Afar as just another failed operation in a string of failures). Colonel H. R. McMaster, the commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, fought a masterful battle to uproot the insurgency in the outlying areas, then applying pressure to the city itself, in contradiction to Andrew Krepinevich's “Oil Spot” theory, which advocates occupying the centers of major cities, then slowly moving outward. Mr. Krepinevich's theory would essentially cede the initiative to the insurgency and al-Qaeda in the suburban and rural areas, and allow them to establish safe havens.


The 3rd Armored Cavalry is by no means the only unit in Iraq which understands these concepts and is succeeding in conducting counterinsurgency operations. The Marines of Regimental Combat Team – 2, stationed in Western Iraq and led by Colonel Stephen Davis, have grasped the vital concepts of counterinsurgency warfare and are executing with great success. Lt. Col. Dale Alford's 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines operating in the Qaim Region, and Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani's 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines operating in the Haditha Triad region have mastered these concepts as well.

I spent time with these Marines and the Iraqi soldiers operating with them as they patrolled the streets and interacted with the local populations and tribal leaders. The professionalism and innate understanding of how to successfully conduct their mission is present in the ranks from the privates to the Commanding General of the 2nd Marine Division, Major General Huck. The U.S. military, often slow with adapting to new paradigms in combat, is grasping the essentials in fighting an insurgency, and executing well.


I agree.