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Thread: The Success of the Surge

  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Largo, Florida

    Default The Success of the Surge

    The Success of the Surge by Dr. David Glasner at SWJ Blog.

    The real world, even under normal conditions, is a complicated and confusing place. In war, complications and confusion increase exponentially. Ever since January, when President Bush announced what he called a new way forward (and others called “the surge”) in Iraq and selected General David Petraeus, whose ideas for counterinsurgency warfare, codified in the Army’s new Counterinsurgency Manual which he co-authored, provided the rationale and blueprint for the new strategy, to take command of American forces in Iraq, arguments about whether the new strategy was really working have been going back and forth. After months of confusion, the picture has become unmistakably clear. The surge worked.

    At first, critics of the surge refused to acknowledge that anything new was being tried other than to send another 25,000 troops into what had become a hopeless situation. In fact, the surge was the first (or second if one counts the belated sacking of Secretary Rumsfeld) serious, albeit tacit, acknowledgement by the Bush administration that it was facing a real insurgency in Iraq and that any strategy for success (as opposed to a classic but irrelevant concept of military victory) had to aim at changing the conditions on the ground that allowed the insurgency to flourish and gather strength.

    The most critical condition fostering the insurgency was the lack of security for the local population. During the first four years after the invasion, the provision of security to the local population was at best a subsidiary part of the military mission that American forces were supposed to accomplish in Iraq. Secretary Rumsfeld and Undersecretary Wolfowitz made that very clear from the outset, when they sacked General Eric Shinseki for daring to tell Congress that a post-invasion force of several hundred thousand troops would be required in Iraq to provide security and was emphatically punctuated with an explanation point by Secretary Rumsfeld’s infamous “stuff happens” comment when the looting started in Baghdad in April 2003. The provision of security was a mission for Iraqis not Americans to discharge. If Iraqi forces were unable to provide security, the Iraqis would just have to live without security until American forces trained and equipped enough Iraqi police and troops that could provide it. Aside from training Iraqi forces, the primary American mission was to wage a “war on terror” by killing “terrorists” wherever they could find them...
    Much more at the link.

  2. #2
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Jul 2006


    Very well written and this
    For example, the IEDs that took such a large toll of American forces, are now a much diminished threat thanks largely to cooperation and intelligence obtained from the local population. The best way to reduce the number of deaths by IEDs was not to add more armor to Humvees (as if insurgents could not add more explosives to the IEDs), but to gain more and better intelligence about who was making them and where they were being placed. This is just what General Petraeus meant when he wrote in the Counterinsurgency Manual “sometimes the more you protect your forces the less secure you are.”
    is near and dear to my heart, but that chart needs work.

    SFC W


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