Thursday, December 01, 2005

The New Old Strategy

The president put forth his strategy Wednesday. It's not a new strategy. While he went into more detail than previously, if anyone was following the war with any degree of attention beyond the two minute clips on TV, the strategy would not surprise them.

However, the strategy as an outline may be accurate, but is cold without some idea about, not just our troops and the Iraq security forces, but Iraq civil, political, judicial and economic life. I think that the president's speech, by necessity or accident, still gives people a false idea that we will be completely withdrawn from Iraq within the next two years. Frankly, this is something that I highly doubt for many reasons.

Before I discuss that, I want to talk about the development of the strategy we are using which is largely about putting an Iraqi face on the efforts. It's not just a propaganda stunt, nor an effort to get out of Iraq quick because we "messed up" whatever it is that you could possibly mess up in a messed up country. Back in October of last year, I pointed to the side bar where I have T.E. Lawrence linked. Back in the day, he was trying to give advice to other officers for the Commonwealth who continued to have difficulties working with the local Arabs. He sent a 22 bullet point memo that outlined some very basic points and instructions about Arab culture. One thing that he said and I pointed to last October was the directive to allow the Arabs to take the lead in their efforts.

It wasn't a biggotted approach nor singling out Arabs. In truth, it's good advice whenever fighting a "war of liberation" in any country. They know the terrain, the people, the customs, roads, what belongs, what doesn't, who to contact, best times to get information and who has it. It also does one more, very specific function: makes them part of the fight. And, when I say "they" I mean the residents of whatever country we are in if that country has any significant opposition to the previous ruling party.

We will end up with significant troop draw downs because it is not necessary to maintain 150k warriors and support assets to fight an insurgency nor to rebuild a country. What we will need is several thousand "advisors" continuing to work with all parts of the Iraq security forces, not just from a training aspect, but logistics, personnel and even basic administrative functions. The air force exists, but barely and that goes for the navy so we will continue to be these elements for quite sometime.

What we will still have is special forces that will operate with Iraqi forces or even independently within Iraq as they continue to investigate, hunt, disrupt or destroy terrorist cells. This may even be backed up by CIA and other intel assets that will work with and teach the Iraqi sister agencies on gathering information, working assets, etc.

I believe we will see a number of JAG and other civil affairs officers in country that will continue to help work out the kinks and advise on setting up independent judiciaries around the country, crime investigation, health, water, electricity, communication, other important infrastructure.

Most of all, what I think we should get used to is that Iraq will be free, but will most likely still have some terrorist activities in it for years to come. As I noted before, we are not going to get our old version of "victory" where a defeated foe hands over his sword and signs a peace treaty. The dissimulation of the opposition in the country does not allow for that by any step of the imagination. It will slowly fade away as it has been for months. What Iraq will look like will undoubtedly be either Malaysia or Indonesia where business goes on as usual and the guerrillas come out occassionally to reek havok on the populace.

Which is why I tell you we will have some sort of American forces in country, just like the Philipines or Malaysia, for a decade or more, only changing if we actually do go to classic war with Syria or Iraq.

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