Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Understanding Current Operations in Iraq Understanding Current Operations in Iraq

Dave Kilcullen in Understanding Current Operations in Iraq (SWJ Blog) goes in a fair amount of depth about the changes that have been implemented in Iraq. The added troop levels in the "Surge" were only enabling. The big thing is the major change in tactics.

The tactics being implemented are similar to, and no doubt derived from, the French experience in Algeria, as described by Arthur Herman in How to Win in Iraq—and How to Lose. To some extent, we have an easier time in Iraq than the French did in Algeria, since the major players on the other side are foreigners in our case, either Wahhabi Sunnis, primarily from the Gulf states, or recently, Iranian Shia agents. On the other hand though, both the French and the U.S. have similar troop levels to work with, but Iraq has several times the population that Algeria had in the late 1950s.

But that is what is critical, separating the terrorists from the population in which they hide. And to do this, the population has to be made secure enough that enough of them are willing to finger the terrorists hiding in their midsts. The way that this was done in Algeria, and is now being done in Iraq, is that areas where the terrorists hide, or may try to hide in the future, are cleared, and then protected. This later is the big difference between the present tactics and those we used in the past. Then, we would clear an area, and then have to come back later and do it again. Instead, after areas are cleared, fortified compounds are installed in each such area, staffed by local police and military, and with U.S. (or in the case of Algeria, French) troops, all working together. Then, the local police and military personal take the lead in working with the people in that area, maintaining peace, and going after any terrorists who are there, or try later to come in there.

One reason that I suspect that this is going to go more easily than the French experience in Algeria, is that Public Enemy Number 1 in Iraq is al Qaeda and its associated groups of foreign terrorists. They have, in short, worn out their welcome in Iraq, primarily by trying to implement strict Sharia law, over a people who prefer a somewhat more liberal view of Islam. Also though, it appears that the foreign terrorists trampled on tribal sensibilities in the tribal areas of, for example, Anbar, by insisting on marrying the women there, in a culture that still practices arranged marriages. So, women were stolen and/or raped. Their male relatives who resisted were killed. And as a result, many of the Anbar tribes apparently have declared blood feud againstjavascript:void(0)
Publish al Qaeda. And because of these terrorists have worn out their welcome, all the Iraqis need to turn them in is the security that the terrorists are unlikely to be able to retaliate if fingered. And that is what the new tactics provide.

So, it really isn't that important that all the terrorist leaders are caught in these operations, since what is important is that they are prevented from hiding within the population in more and more of Iraq.

Of course, the biggest problem in Iraq continues to be the anti-war movement in the U.S., and in particular, in Congress. It almost seems like the better we do on the ground there, the more politicians jump on the "War in Iraq is Lost" bandwagon.

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