Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Five Reasons we're Winning

Think it sounds crazy? Read them, courtesy of NRO's W. Thomas Smith from Lt. Jason Nichols, USN:

Nichols and I discussed five primary reasons he and others in Iraq believe in the effort and want to see the war through to its completion.

First, aside from the complexities of establishing a working, unified government (not necessarily the task of the military), the U.S. military does have a sound plan for victory that is being implemented. The enemy does not. The U.S. plan is based on developing the Iraqi military and police forces to a point that they can independently assume most extra-national defense and all intranational defense/security operations in that country. This includes an improved Iraqi capability for logistics and command-and-control.

“It’s not enough just to have people in the security forces,” Nichols says. “You need to make sure they can lead, gather intelligence, and be resupplied effectively. And we are accomplishing those things.”

The enemy’s only plan for victory is to force the U.S. to leave before those things happen. Instead, the enemy is experiencing “a surge” of U.S. forces.

Second, the enemy — including the Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda terrorists — is progressively splintering into smaller sub-groups.

“This is often reported in the media as a bad thing — an unknown force being broken up into many unknown forces,” says Nichols. “Fact is, breaking up a larger force into smaller ones is what you want to do.”

Breaking up forces is in fact a textbook means by which a superior military force destroys an inferior enemy force — dividing and conquering. And in Iraq, some of those splintering subgroups are now providing intelligence to — and cooperating with — coalition forces.

Third, an increasing number of Iraqi civilians are providing the U.S. military and Iraqi security forces with information about the enemy that is being processed into solid intelligence.

Fourth, Coalition forces are increasingly “driving a wedge” between the insurgents and the general population. And more and more insurgents are turning against the sectarian violence-instigating terrorists.

And lastly, as I discussed at National Review Online’s military blog, “The Tank,” while I was in Iraq, one of the most effective elements of General David Petraeus’s strategy is his approach to a given area of responsibility (AOR). Petraeus’s predecessor, General George Casey, would have his subordinate commanders move their forces into an AOR, kill, capture, or run the enemy out; bring in some infrastructure for the community; and then leave. It worked to be sure, but only temporarily. The enemy almost always came back.

Petraeus’s approach is to do those things, but never completely leave. His commanders are responsible for ensuring their AORs are progressing. And U.S. soldiers are staying. In Sadr City for instance — as dangerous as it is — U.S. soldiers are living there, bunking side-by-side with their Iraqi counterparts.

Oh, but to read such straight-forward and solid analysis in the NY Times...

Nichols goes on to make it clear that morale remains good in spite of Harry Reid's best-efforts to the contrary. He's not the first to suggest that the only thing needed to ultimately defeat the insurgency is time.

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