Sunday, September 02, 2007

What the Surge is Doing

No this isn't the lame-ass analysis of politicians but a statement from someone working in Iraq.
Petraeus' theory is playing out in real life.

Initiative: The coalition and the Iraqi army, rather than waiting to be attacked, are identifying and attacking enemy enclaves. This means that insurgent causalities are increasingly being suffered in engagements initiated by Iraqis and the coalition forces rather than by insurgents.

Co-optation: In the Anbar province, the Sunni area west of Baghdad once thought lost, previously unimagined levels of normality and security are in evidence. Coalition forces and Sunni tribal leaders have made common cause against Al Qaeda. The sheiks realize now that Osama bin Laden's surrogate gang of foreign cadres and local thugs trash local traditions in favor of their bizarre interpretation of Islam. The coalition's arming of local Sunni self-defense groups has been criticized as support for militias. But the Petraeus plan appreciates the distinction between good and bad groups of armed locals -- sort of like the distinction between good and bad cholesterol, with the good flushing out the bad.

Intelligence: Intelligence is from the ground up, including a local census, new identity cards and widespread, street-level information gathering. Among the goals is to identify and root out "sleeper" agents left behind to intimidate the local population.

Ground game: Insurgents can make promises they never intend to keep. Coalition forces and the Iraqi government cannot afford to fall short on promises. A key component of the surge is deployment of Provincial Reconstruction Teams into Baghdad neighborhoods and outlying provinces to work with local officials and community leaders on the small, but essential, aspects of daily life. These brave people work in tandem with military combat teams, both taking up residence in neighborhood encampments. Message: The new security is for real and tangible benefits flow from maintaining security.

Insurgent reaction: News of rocket or mortar attacks on the Green Zone or a spectacular truck bombing is actually evidence that the insurgents are trying to inflate perceptions of their capabilities as an antidote to the reality that their fingers are being pried from their grip on the throat of the Iraqi people. As more areas are secured, the insurgents must rely on high-profile attacks to sway public opinion, especially in the United States. Counterinsurgency theory tells us that this is as certain as night following day.

It is not counterinsurgency theory that's new. What's new is that Dr. Petraeus has shaped an old theory with new experience and Gen. Petraeus has taken it out of the classroom and into the battle space.
Note this isn't declaring victory or failure, which the politicos seem to keep doing without actually making any argument for why. For the most part these are good indicators only if the US has enough intestinal fortitude to keep at it.

Caught the link from SWJ Op-Ed Roundup.

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