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Thread: A War We Just Might Win

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default A War We Just Might Win

    A War We Just Might Win - Kenneth Pollack & Michael O'Hanlon op-ed, NYTIMES, 30 July.
    VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

    Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

    After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.

    Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

    Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done ...

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    Default George Packer's take

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/georgepacker/

    O'Hanlon and Pollack on the Surge


    Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack, of the Brookings Institution, fresh from an eight-day trip to Iraq, have an optimistic Op-Ed titled “A War We Just Might Win” in today’s New York Times. It raises more questions for me than it answers. Among them:


    Who organized their schedule?


    How much time did they spend in each place they visited (Baghdad, Ramadi, Mosul, Tal Afar)?


    How many Iraqis did they speak with, and whom? Did they meet Iraqis without American officers present?


    What could and couldn’t they independently confirm from their briefings by military sources? For example, how do they know that, in Mosul and Tal Afar, “the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate. Reliable police officers man the checkpoints in the cities, while Iraqi Army troops cover the countryside”?


    Finally, what do they mean when they declare at the end, “There is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008”? As of a few weeks ago, O’Hanlon advocated a partition of Iraq and Pollack was talking about containing the civil war within Iraq’s borders. Neither of them had much faith that the Administration’s strategy could succeed. Have they changed their minds? If so, what’s their political strategy for sustaining the surge into 2008?


    O’Hanlon and Pollack have long been critics of the war. They are serious analysts and have nothing to gain by supporting the strategy of an Administration that they say has “lost essentially all credibility.” I don’t doubt that they believe what they saw and heard and wrote, and I’m certain that some of the gains they describe are real. I would like to know more about what they didn’t see and hear. At the heart of arguments over the war there has always been the question of what’s happening “on the ground.” It’s never been harder to find out than it is now, and in my experience, no news is generally bad news. Over the past four years, Iraq has humbled a lot of people. What’s missing from the Op-Ed is a necessary humility.


    I’ll try to get some answers to my questions and report back to you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Granite_State View Post
    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/georgepacker/

    O'Hanlon and Pollack on the Surge


    Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack, of the Brookings Institution, fresh from an eight-day trip to Iraq, have an optimistic Op-Ed titled “A War We Just Might Win” in today’s New York Times. It raises more questions for me than it answers. Among them:


    Who organized their schedule?


    How much time did they spend in each place they visited (Baghdad, Ramadi, Mosul, Tal Afar)?


    How many Iraqis did they speak with, and whom? Did they meet Iraqis without American officers present?


    What could and couldn’t they independently confirm from their briefings by military sources? For example, how do they know that, in Mosul and Tal Afar, “the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate. Reliable police officers man the checkpoints in the cities, while Iraqi Army troops cover the countryside”?


    Finally, what do they mean when they declare at the end, “There is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008”? As of a few weeks ago, O’Hanlon advocated a partition of Iraq and Pollack was talking about containing the civil war within Iraq’s borders. Neither of them had much faith that the Administration’s strategy could succeed. Have they changed their minds? If so, what’s their political strategy for sustaining the surge into 2008?


    O’Hanlon and Pollack have long been critics of the war. They are serious analysts and have nothing to gain by supporting the strategy of an Administration that they say has “lost essentially all credibility.” I don’t doubt that they believe what they saw and heard and wrote, and I’m certain that some of the gains they describe are real. I would like to know more about what they didn’t see and hear. At the heart of arguments over the war there has always been the question of what’s happening “on the ground.” It’s never been harder to find out than it is now, and in my experience, no news is generally bad news. Over the past four years, Iraq has humbled a lot of people. What’s missing from the Op-Ed is a necessary humility.


    I’ll try to get some answers to my questions and report back to you.
    Also, can someone tell me how to put my quotes in a blue box like everyone else does? I'm an idiot.

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Quoting

    Drag over (highlight) the text you want quoted then click on the cartoon balloon icon (far right on the toolbar).

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default

    What could and couldn’t they independently confirm from their briefings by military sources? For example, how do they know that, in Mosul and Tal Afar, “the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate. Reliable police officers man the checkpoints in the cities, while Iraqi Army troops cover the countryside”?
    Well, although I've been out of Mosul for a few months now, the ISF were making real headway. The partnership with CF (4/1 CAV BCT in Mosul and the 2-7 CAV (IN BN)) could be a blueprint for how to turn things over. The 2-7 TF CDR understood the need to resource the IA and work CF out of a job. The IA and increasingly the IP got tired of taking it in the shorts and were going after the AIF hard. All the right things started to fall into place with efforts from both sides. 2nd and 3rd DIV IA are perhaps two of the best IA DIVs around. It should also be mentioned that 4/1 was able to build on the success of 1/25th, the 172nd, 3/2 and several iterations of MiTT & PTTs.

    We are strating to understand how to do this, how to enable our partners and we have good leadership coming out of MNFI. For the Iraqis part, if the security and beginnings of stability can be exported to the South I think they can succeed.
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 07-31-2007 at 07:27 PM. Reason: IN BN was actually 2-7 not 1-7

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    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    Drag over (highlight) the text you want quoted then click on the cartoon balloon icon (far right on the toolbar).
    Thank you.

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    Default I wondered abput that too...

    Thanks, GS, for asking the question and SWJED for the answer!

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