The “new” strategy in Iraq, generally characterized merely as the “surge”, is moving ahead very nicely, thankyouverymuch.
As discussed previously, the “surge” of 21,500 additional combat troops is the least important part of what is basically a three-pronged strategy:
- The additional boots on the ground will make it a bit easier to conduct missions as quickly as possible when opportunities arise.
- More importantly, the missions themselves appear to be much more offensive in nature, “war fighting” rather than “peace keeping”, and we seem to be intent on maintaining a presence in areas once they’ve been cleared rather than pulling back to base.
- Most importantly of all, the Iraqi government finally seems almost serious about dealing with the issues they’re facing. The protection of Sadr was lifted, and additional Iraqi forces have been committed to the problem areas.
As I said last month before the President’s speech:
I’m not 100% certain that the supposed move to deploy an additional 21,500 US troops to Iraq is the best move, but it will work if
A) They are there to play offense
B) The Iraqi Army also plays a lot of offense
If we’re sending more troops to play peacekeeper, it’s a bad move that will merely put more of our men and women in the cross-hairs.
However, if we’re sending these troops to take the fight to the insurgents and anti-government militias, 21,000 could do the trick. 17,000 are headed to the Baghdad area, which will be good as long as the mission and rules of engagement are designed to smash, kill, and destroy. We’ll need the Iraqi Army to step it up a notch, but I think they’ve reached the point where they can do just that.
Both ‘A’ and ‘B’ seem to be the order of the day, and that’s very encouraging. Many al Qaeda in Iraq operatives have apparently fled Baghdad, and Darth Sadr himself has apparently fled the country.
And this is just getting started.
What we’re seeing is the reaction of demoralized troops. Their troops. The terrorists and thugs and insurgents who probably believed that they were on the verge of victory after November’s elections in the United States must be reeling. They expected deadlines for withdrawal, not more troops. They expected moves to limit US casualties, not an offensive. They expected US leadership to waffle, not replace the commander in Iraq with one apparently hell-bent on victory.
Another important factor is the Iraqi economy. Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell spokesman for Multi-National Force – Iraq, mentioned this in a briefing on Wednesday:
Second, the non-kinetic efforts will take time to produce effects on the streets of Baghdad. The government of Iraq’s economic development program, for example, places greater emphasis on long-term job creation, rather than make-work programs.
Just as the recruiting and retention rates of the US armed forces are impacted by a healthy job market, so are the recruiting and retention of the insurgents and militias. When living profitably in peace becomes more attractive than death in battle, the pool of suicide bombers and insurgents will dry up. When that happens, we win.
There is a long, long way to go. There will be many difficulties to come. But we continue to be on the right track and I’m more optimistic than I’ve been since the days following the initial invasion.
Meanwhile, Don Surber notes the most dangerous enemy we face today:
The Democratic position is We Support The Troops But Hope They Fail.
We won’t really know if we’ve won or not for about 15 years. But things seem to be back on track after a period of self-inflicted quagmire.