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Thread: Back to Search & Destroy?

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    Default Back to Search & Destroy?

    What happened to the Petraeus strategy of dispersing US forces around Baghdad in small groups for population security? This month Operations Marne Thunderbolt & Iron Harvest, both parts of Operation Phantom Phoenix, have been on multi-battalion "kill or capture" operations in Diyala and other northern provinces, involving 74,000 US & Iraqi forces. Shades of Westmoreland!
    Where did all those troops come from? Did the population security operations succeed, fail, been turned over to the Iraqis, or what? Surely large search and destroy sweeps are not part of the new counterinsurgency operations.
    Que pasa?

    Tom Collier
    tcollier

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcollier View Post
    Surely large search and destroy sweeps are not part of the new counterinsurgency operations.
    Since when? Maybe not in FM03-24 but they fine if done with good judgement and skill. "Search and destroy" is just an expression of Core Functions. Core functions are the basis of all military success.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Quote Originally Posted by tcollier View Post
    What happened to the Petraeus strategy of dispersing US forces around Baghdad in small groups for population security? This month Operations Marne Thunderbolt & Iron Harvest, both parts of Operation Phantom Phoenix, have been on multi-battalion "kill or capture" operations in Diyala and other northern provinces, involving 74,000 US & Iraqi forces. Shades of Westmoreland!
    Where did all those troops come from? Did the population security operations succeed, fail, been turned over to the Iraqis, or what? Surely large search and destroy sweeps are not part of the new counterinsurgency operations. Que pasa? Tom Collier
    Sure they are; the manual points out in many places that at various times and localities in a Coin military operations (of the kinetic type designed to put bullets through the heads of insurgents) will take priority and be paramount.

    A couple of added points here:

    There is really no substantial difference in terms of method and tactics between Surge forces and what happened before the Surge. Granted prior to the Surge there were 30,000 less American troops and fewer combat outposts in Iraqi neighborhoods. But by and large American forces in Iraq prior to the Surge used the same Coin tactics and methods as being used today. The key and significant difference, however, was the decision to buy-off our former enemies the non-alqueda sunni insurgents to stop attacking us and Sadr's related decision to stand down his attacks against us. The standard narrative created by the neo-con spin machine is that the American Army in Iraq (except for a few exceptional units) were screwed up and didn’t “get it” until the Surge began with the so-called adoption of new Coin methods and leadership. I argue a very different conception: that is by and large by mid-04 the American Army had mostly figured out how to do Counterinsurgency and has been doing it about the same across the board since.

    Lastly; too much has been made in a pejorative way about Westmoreland and Vietnam. You know: Westy was the screw-up but Abrams came in and would have saved the day if the media and political leaders had not cut and run and ditched the country. That basic plot has been carried forth today to the narrative surrounding the Surge in Iraq. For more on Westmoreland and Vietnam see Andrew Birtle's excellent new book on the history of American Coin, “US Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine, 1942-1976" recently published by the Center of Military History. By the way Birtle's book is a very good counter to the reductionist history provided in Nagl's "Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife." Nagl’s book is important for its contribution to organizational theory and how militaries learn and adapt, but as a work of history (which it is not) it leaves much to be desired.

    gg

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    From an Operational Art perspective, I think understanding when conditions offer opportunities to put your enemy at a further disadvantage - and enhance your own opportunities - they should be taken with few exceptions (meaning the operational risk is too great to the larger objective). In this case I think its a good fit. We have the kind of agility in the field to change gears and mass where opportunity presents itself - without losing much if any traction along other lines of operation and lines of effort.

    Our tactical and operational commanders (and their staffs) are getting good at anticipating new developments, creating and seizing opportunities - through the understanding of the environment. A large part of setting the other conditions for our COIN efforts to succeed involve eliminating the enemy that can not or will not conform.

    Best, Rob

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcollier View Post
    What happened to the Petraeus strategy of dispersing US forces around Baghdad in small groups for population security? This month Operations Marne Thunderbolt & Iron Harvest, both parts of Operation Phantom Phoenix, have been on multi-battalion "kill or capture" operations in Diyala and other northern provinces, involving 74,000 US & Iraqi forces. Shades of Westmoreland!
    Where did all those troops come from? Did the population security operations succeed, fail, been turned over to the Iraqis, or what? Surely large search and destroy sweeps are not part of the new counterinsurgency operations.
    Que pasa?

    Tom Collier
    You have to "clear" before you can "hold."

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