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Thread: The Surge Narrative - Question

  1. #1
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    Default The Surge Narrative - Question

    I was reading a late review by Dexter Filkins of Ricks' newest book today, and the second paragraph, especially the last sentence, jumped out at me:

    In the first two years of the war, the country's Shiite leadership had held its fire in the face of the Sunni onslaught. Then came the elections in December 2005, which brought to power the country's first Shiite-dominated government. The gloves came off. Iraq's new leaders, Nuri Al-Maliki and Abdul Aziz Hakim, were determined to crush the Sunni insurgency at any cost. Police and paramilitary units, now dominated by Shiite gunmen who moonlighted as militiamen, were turned loose in the Sunni neighborhoods, where they began, in late 2005, to carry out large-scale massacres of military-aged men. By early 2006, a civil war was well under way.

    In the face of all this, the Americans, most crucially, decided to back away. From the summer of 2004 onward, the objective of the American strategy, which was formulated by General John Abizaid and General George Casey, was less the defeat of the Sunni insurgency than the training and equipping of the Iraqis to fight it for them. "As they stand up, we'll stand down," President Bush was fond of saying. By the middle of 2006, American soldiers were congregating, or more precisely isolating themselves, on large bases, with Burger Kings and Baskin-Robbins ice cream shops, only occasionally venturing into Iraq. Meanwhile the Iraqi security forces had grown in quantity if not in quality, and were taking over larger and larger pieces of the war. It was difficult, in the summer of 2006, to drive around Baghdad and find any American soldiers at all.
    http://www.tnr.com/booksarts/story.h...5edee42d01&p=1 (pp. 1-2)

    Now, Colonel Gentile has attacked that narrative many times, here and in other places. And I'm sure figuring out what really happened in Iraq from 2004-2008 is going to be very important to our counterinsurgency doctrine going forward. So the question from my armchair is this: isn't there a way for either internal or (down the line) external historians to figure this out using metrics? I assume most battalions keep pretty good records on where their companies and platoons are and what they are doing day to day. Am I wrong about this?

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    While I hate to agree with a NY Times writer about anything, Filkins is correct. It is important to note that he is talking big picture - the trend of the entire country. Where Gentile's narrative differs is to point out that HIS BATTALION was not doing any such congregation. Filkins is correct and Gentile is correct.

    The real confusion in this issue stems from the assumption that the narratives of Filkins and Gentile are mutually exclusive.

  3. #3
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default True that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    While I hate to agree with a NY Times writer about anything, Filkins is correct. It is important to note that he is talking big picture - the trend of the entire country. Where Gentile's narrative differs is to point out that HIS BATTALION was not doing any such congregation. Filkins is correct and Gentile is correct.

    The real confusion in this issue stems from the assumption that the narratives of Filkins and Gentile are mutually exclusive.
    Currently, you'll find narratives. I've written a few for SWJ trying to explain what I saw in 2003, 2005, and 2006-2007. If you truly want to understand the Surge or Iraq from 2003-2007, then you'll have to wait a bit.

    For a holistic view, you'll need narratives from everyone....

    1. Coalition Force
    2. Iraqi Government
    3. "Enemy"- AAS, AQI, JAM, etc...
    4. Populace- Everyday Mustafa "the plumber" Iraqi
    5. Non-Governmental leadership (Sistani, tribes, etc...)
    6. On the Ground Reporters- Mark Kukis.
    7. NGO's.
    8. Etc...Etc...

    IF you can get all these narratives, and that's a BIG if, then in the middle you may find the true narrative on the surge.

    I would caution you not to rely on anyone's metrics. If someone writes a book, then the first question you should pose is, "do the men/women under his command agree with him?"

    Mike
    Last edited by MikeF; 05-13-2009 at 10:50 PM.

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