Thursday, March 29, 2007

How to Win In Iraq - Counterinsurgency Ops Explained

From today's Wall Street Journal:

As recently as two years ago, Galula's book was virtually unknown in Pentagon circles. Today it has become the bible of American counterinsurgency thinkers like Gen. Petraeus, whose field manual (known as FM 3-24) it largely informs. Its masterful approach to breaking, isolating and then uprooting a terrorist insurgency is the core of our revised near-term strategy for Iraq, a strategy based, in Gen. Petraeus's words, on the principle that "you're not going to kill your way out of an insurgency."

The current surge of 21,500 troops in Baghdad is a textbook example of Galula's lessons in action. First, as in the northern city of Mosul in 2003-04, where he used a similar grid system, Gen. Petraeus aims to turn things around in the single most vital "pink" zone--namely, Baghdad and its environs, within whose 50-mile radius 80% of the violence in Iraq takes place. Critics have already charged that our recent successes in suppressing the militias in this area signify only a temporary respite. But Gen. Petraeus, like his predecessor Galula, understands that in counterinsurgency warfare, temporary respites are all there is. The goal is to make those respites last longer and longer, until eventually they become permanent. As he has said, "The idea is to end each day with fewer enemies than when it started." Anything more ambitious leads to overreaching, disenchantment, and ultimately failure.

That from WSJ column authored by the scholar Arthur Hermann disecting the tenents of counterinsurgency operations as applicable to Iraq. It is an exceptionally well written and informative piece. See here.

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