It Might Work.
During various waits in the cleanroom or at my desk during simulations, I've been reading in the final draft of FM3-24, the Army's and Marines' new counterinsurgency manual. It would seem that General Petraeus and his other authors have a strong sense of the history of insurgent and counterinsurgent operations. There are many historical insurgencies discussed with what reads to be great facility. The claim (and a reasonable one it is) is that one of the keys to defeating an insurgency is providing security for those who are not participants; the butcher, baker, and candlestick maker need to be able to go about their business and provide for their families. Clearly, the bombs and murders in Iraq indicate that despite our troops being in Iraq, they may be located in the wrong places. We read in the papers and magazines and hear on CSPAN that most of the troops are currently located in either forward operating bases (FOBs) , or in other secured locations, and they sally forth to conduct tactical operations. Strangely, this is probably both the safest and the least safe organization for our guys and ladies, depending on the time horizon. They (authors of FM3-24) say that in the short run, the situation is security punctuated by periods of danger, and in the long run, the situation is indefinite exposure to these periodic vulnerable moments--because we can't effectively provide security to the mass of people who are afraid of being exploded at the market or abducted at work and murdered in an alley, and without that security, the population won't turn out their assailants. Therefore, it seems the plan that is being implemented is to put more troops in more immediate danger, with the idea that by allowing our troops to stay in the areas they secure, making connections with the populace, and building trust and incremental other improvements, the insurgents will lose the power of terror over the populace--the people will be free to collaborate with our forces in achieving their security. The upshot of this plan is that in the short term, things are likely to get worse for our troops. More injuries and deaths. However, it may work. I don't know--it may be too late for a change tactics to achieve the goal of stability and safety in Iraq. I don't like the idea of more young men (and women; support troops will not be any safer than they have been) being asked to give the "final measure of devotion," but we've started another civil war that may lead to another Rwanda... I worry that with the current civilian leadership in the White House, we can never expect better results. If someone else were there, I might be able to advocate the extra troops and more time... but I can't trust our current Executive; they've been wrong on too many occasions.
Posted by Tom at 1:27 PM