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March 20, 2007

Why The Surge Is Working

1, Iraqis have had enough; 2, they believe we intend to stay until the situation is tabilized; and 3,more permissive ROE:

'I WALKED down the streets of Ramadi a few days ago, in a soft cap eating an ice cream with the mayor on one side of me and the police chief on the other, having a conversation." This simple act, Gen. David Petraeus told me, would have been "unthinkable" just a few months ago. "And nobody shot at us," he added.

...

What tactics are working? "We got down at the people level and are staying," he said flatly. "Once the people know we are going to be around, then all kinds of things start to happen."

More intelligence, for example. Where once tactical units were "scraping" for intelligence information, they now have "information overload," the general said. "After our guys are in the neighborhood for four or five days, the people realize they're not going to just leave them like we did in the past. Then they begin to come in with so much information on the enemy that we can't process it fast enough."

In intelligence work - the key to fighting irregular wars - commanders love excess.

And the tribal leaders in Sunni al Anbar Province, the general reports, "have had enough." Not only are the al Qaeda fighters causing civil disruption by fomenting sectarian violence and killing civilians, but on a more prosaic but practical side, al Qaeda is bad for business. "All of the sheiks up there are businessmen," Petraeus said. "They are entrepreneurial and involved in scores of different businesses. The presence of the foreign fighters is hitting them hard in the pocketbook and they are tired of it."

...

Petraeus has his troops applying a similar formula in Baghdad's Sadr City: "We're clearing it neighborhood by neighborhood." Troops move in - mainly U.S. soldiers and Marines supported by Iraqi forces, although that ratio is reversed in some areas - and stay. They are not transiting back to large, remote bases but are now living with the people they have come to protect. The results, Petraeus says, have been "dramatic."

...

Rules of engagement (ROE), highly criticized as being too restrictive and sometimes endangering our troops, have been "clarified." "There were unintended consequences with ROE for too long," Petraeus acknowledged. Because of what junior leaders perceived as too harsh punishment meted out to troops acting in the heat of battle, the ROE issued from the top commanders were second-guessed and made more restrictive by some on the ground. The end result was unnecessary - even harmful - restrictions placed on the troops in contact with the enemy.

"I've made two things clear," Petraeus emphasized: "My ROE may not be modified with supplemental guidance lower down. And I've written a letter to all Coalition forces saying 'your chain-of-command will stay with you.' I think that solved the issue."

Are the policies paying off? "King David" as Petraeus is known from his previous tour of duty up near the Syrian border, is cautiously optimistic. "Less than half the al Qaeda leaders who were in Baghdad when this [surge] campaign began are still in the city," he said. "They have fled or are being killed or captured. We are attriting them at a fearsome rate."

Other tactics include protecting markets and mosques and other big gathering places with concrete barriers and soldiers; obvious, perhaps, but sometimes jsut doing the obvious is the key to success.


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posted by Ace at 03:12 PM

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