View Full Version : Observations from a Year in the Sunni Triangle

04-15-2008, 02:04 AM
Observations from a Year in the Sunni Triangle (http://smallwarsjournal.com/mag/2008/04/observations-from-a-year-in-th.php) by LTC Craig Collier, SWJ Magazine.

From September 2005 to September 2006 my brigade deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom IV. Most of our time was spent in Salah-ad-Din Province, part of the "Sunni Triangle" north of Baghdad. The brigade’s mission was to defeat the insurgency and create the conditions for a successful Iraqi democracy. The latter part of the mission involved working along all of our lines of operation to assist and train the Iraqi Security Forces, establish a working government and improve the local economy.

We can still achieve victory in Iraq in spite of the dramatic rise in violence and public dissatisfaction with our progress. However, we need an honest assessment of why 2006 was such a disappointing year and apply those lessons. From my perspective, we had too much faith in economic incentives and too little confidence in combat operations as a means to lower the level of violence. We didn’t fully recognize the powerful influence of money on Iraqi behavior and hence did not do enough to address the corruption which fueled the insurgency. Finally, we had too many Soldiers and contractors whose presence in Iraq was more burdensome than helpful.

The Army's new Field Manual (FM) 3-24, "Counterinsurgency" accurately states that an insurgency "…is a shifting ‘mosaic war’ that is difficult for counterinsurgents to envision as a coherent whole." 1 My observations may be significantly different from what others experienced in other parts of Iraq at different times, but I believe that they are at least common to what leaders in my brigade experienced in our area of operations during our year in Iraq...