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Old 09-04-2007   #1
tequila
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Default Weighing the "Surge" - Dora Market

Weighing the "Surge" - Washington Post, 4 Sep.

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Nearly every week, American generals and politicians visit Combat Outpost Gator, nestled behind a towering blast wall in the Dora market. They arrive in convoys of armored Humvees, sometimes accompanied by helicopter gunships, to see what U.S. commanders display as proof of the effectiveness of a seven-month-long security offensive, fueled by 30,000 U.S. reinforcements. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. military leader in Iraq, frequently cites the market as a sign of progress.

"This is General Petraeus's baby," said Staff Sgt. Josh Campbell, 24, of Winfield, Kan., as he set out on a patrol near the market on a hot evening in mid-August.

Next week, Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker will deliver to Congress their much-anticipated response to the central question that has dominated U.S. policy in Iraq this year: Is the "surge" working?

...

In many areas, U.S. forces are now working at cross-purposes with Iraq's elected Shiite-led government by financing onetime Sunni insurgents who say they now want to work with the Americans. The loyalties of the Iraqi military and police -- widely said to be infiltrated by Shiite militias -- remain in doubt.

Even U.S. soldiers assigned to protect Petraeus's showcase remain skeptical. "Personally, I think it's a false representation," Campbell said, referring to the portrayal of the Dora market as an emblem of the surge's success. "But what can I say? I'm just doing my job and don't ask questions ..."
Good report on conditions in the Dora market, which appears to be something of a Potemkin village for visiting VIPs.
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Old 09-04-2007   #2
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Default "Potemkin Pacification?" - John Robb

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Indications of calm and tranquility in the "pacified cities" of Iraq is at the expense of viability. Essentially, to pacify urban areas we have destroyed the basic levels of connectivity that make them work. For example, Fallujah residents are disconnected...

* from the country. A wall around the city with biometric entry points.
* from each other. The city is divided into 10 walled districts with few entry/exit points. Each is guarded by a combination of neighborhood militias, police and US soldiers.
* from basic mobility. The city has been under a vehicle ban since May 2007.
http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/...l-potemki.html
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Old 09-04-2007   #3
DGreen
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I wouldn't say this is entirely correct. I am presently in Fallujah with the U.S. Navy working on tribal and leadership engagement. The next stage of this plan is to remove the vehicle ban and barriers in a methodical and deliberate manner. This decision will be made by the Iraqis in conjunction with Coalition Forces. The neighborhood "militias" are actually residents who are paid a very small amount of money per month to watch their respective community. Each neighborhood also has a police precinct, muktar, neighborhood watch, and a community council to provide security and improved governance. The real test of whether this is a Potemkim type situation will be when the vehicle ban is lifted and the barriers are removed. We are presently in the process of registering all of the vehicles in the city in order to limit a VBIED threat and to improve vehicle monitoring by the Iraqi Police. A second challenge will be how Iraqi institutions respond to the first security incident that takes place after the vehicle ban is lifted. Thus far, they have been very quick to respond to a problem and have actually solved cases because of the enthusiastic support they receive from the community.
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Old 09-04-2007   #4
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Default What Robb Misses ...

I like to keep up with John Robb. Without studying analyses that run counter to your own one can become rather closed-minded. But what were the conditions like in Fallujah prior to this? I had interviewed Lt. Col. William Mullen concerning the conditions in Fallujah in this article:

http://www.captainsjournal.com/2007/...-6th-regiment/

And so I knew full well what we have had to do to pacify Fallujah. The tribal influence is much weaker in Fallujah, so more traditional counterinsurgency TTPs have been required, such as gated communities.

But is Robb seriously claiming that this has hindered true progress or otherwise caused conditions in Fallujah that are worse than they were prior to these actions? Is he seriously claiming that our efforts have caused unemployment or the lack of communication with the balance of Iraq?

He misses the point. The unemployment was already there, because it was the last major city in Anbar to undergo pacification. I claim exactly the opposite of Robb. Now ... and only now ... can Fallujah BEGIN its communication with the rest of Iraq.

More on Biometrics here from Noah Shachtman:

http://blog.wired.com/defense/2007/0...iary-fall.html
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Old 09-04-2007   #5
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Originally Posted by DGreen View Post
I wouldn't say this is entirely correct. I am presently in Fallujah with the U.S. Navy working on tribal and leadership engagement. The next stage of this plan is to remove the vehicle ban and barriers in a methodical and deliberate manner. This decision will be made by the Iraqis in conjunction with Coalition Forces. The neighborhood "militias" are actually residents who are paid a very small amount of money per month to watch their respective community. Each neighborhood also has a police precinct, muktar, neighborhood watch, and a community council to provide security and improved governance. The real test of whether this is a Potemkim type situation will be when the vehicle ban is lifted and the barriers are removed. We are presently in the process of registering all of the vehicles in the city in order to limit a VBIED threat and to improve vehicle monitoring by the Iraqi Police. A second challenge will be how Iraqi institutions respond to the first security incident that takes place after the vehicle ban is lifted. Thus far, they have been very quick to respond to a problem and have actually solved cases because of the enthusiastic support they receive from the community.
Thanks, it's great to hear from someone who's there.
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Old 09-04-2007   #6
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Originally Posted by Danny View Post
But is Robb seriously claiming that this has hindered true progress or otherwise caused conditions in Fallujah that are worse than they were prior to these actions? Is he seriously claiming that our efforts have caused unemployment or the lack of communication with the balance of Iraq?
"NOTE: This post doesn't make the claim that things are worse in Fallujah today than it was under jihadi committee. Rather, it does make the case that locking down a city until it stops doesn't prove that we have a solution for urban insurgency."

I think he's saying that our recent "progress" doesn't mean we're moving toward our stated goal: achievement of the political benchmarks. He's also saying that things could deteriorate as soon as we lighten restrictions which Mr Green agrees could happen.

A second challenge will be how Iraqi institutions respond to the first security incident that takes place after the vehicle ban is lifted.

Last edited by Rank amateur; 09-04-2007 at 11:04 PM.
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