GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD

Okay, it's Friday night, so relax. Apparently, someone has favorable commentary concerning Kimberly Kagan's The Surge: A Military History. That someone is GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD who opines:

"The Surge" is essential reading for anyone who wants to know how Iraq was saved from the brink of disaster. Perhaps out of modesty, Ms. Kagan does not stress her own role, as pres and creator of Institute for the Study of War, in pushing for the surge or the role of her husband, Frederick Kagan, in designing (with Gen. John Keane) many of its components.

"The Surge" challenges existing accounts in two ways.

First, although Ms. Kagan is rightly respectful of Gen. David Petraeus, who led American forces during the surge, she avoids celebrating his genius at the expense of other important figures.

She draws attention to the pivotal role played by Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, who commanded the day-to-day operations of the Multi-National Corps in Iraq. She shows him helping to ensure that co-operating tribal forces submit fingerprints, weapons serial numbers and family details that would make it difficult for them to take up arms again.

Honestly, how many times can we beat this dead horse? That said, she has some salient points here. More honestly - the post caught my eye more for the visual, rather than the written word - so sue me. That said, back to the SWJ command bunker, conveniently located along the I-95 parking lot in Northern Virginia.

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GSG seems to have survived the revelation that it's a collective rather than an individual effort. The blog always seemed to me a mass of largely unreadable neo-neocon babble suffused with that hyperconfidence that is available only to the very very young, but the pictures are entertaining.

Oh, I only visited that site for the articles;-)

I think I fell for her when she described M18 Claymore as "...a large exploding 2 handed sword used for perimeter defense..."

Checking out her site, she is pro military with an impressive knowledge of military history and hardware. Appearantly a neocon, her analysis is definately out side the box and fun to read.

Brandon Friedman

Hmm your comment implies you know what the strategy regarding the invasion of Iraq happened to be. Aside from a lot of overblown and as usual off the mark political rhetoric -- which is always meaningless -- I've never seen the real reasons published, If you know what they are, perhaps you can let us know.

If you don't know but are merely speculating like the rest of us who were not sitting in the WH for a number of days during all of the 2001-03 period, then perhaps you'll acknowledge that in your opinion the strategy was flawed or the attack was an error. That "let's not forget" implies that the bad strategy bit is factual. May or may not be.

In mine, the strategy as I perceive it made sense, the execution was flawed and it's way too early for anyone to tell if it is or will fail or be successful...

We can agree on the Think Tank, all are moderately to highly partisan and thus pretty well suspect om most topics.

Tom Ricks

Good for you on the sources. We might disagree on your conclusions drawn from those interviews but glad to know you have them -- I for one never doubted that you would have voluminous records.

Last Anonymous

On pre conceived stances; yes...

Lot of that about.

^ oops, The oft widely claimed - that The Gamble and Fiasco are not properly sourced - is called out here - as it should be. Ricks takes great pain in properly citing his works - me thinks that those who claim otherwise are taking the easy path, not addressing the issues, but rather, addressing speculation in support of a particular preconceived stance.

Tom Ricks commenting at GSGF:

Hi, I saw this on SWJ.

Cute post, but I am not sure what you mean by my book being "source free." I have a copy here next to me and it is chockablock with on the record stuff, from hundreds of hours of interviews done in Iraq in 2007 and 2008.

Best,
Tom Ricks

Kimberley has it right -- and no lack of ultimate respect to the gutsy Americans who carried out this new strategy on the ground in Iraq, but the reality is that the senior levels of the US military rejected the surge and the new strategy and had essentially thrown in the towel as of the end of 2006 -- I know, I used to be one of them. By the end of 2006, the US military -- led by the then commander in Iraq -- was driving at high speed toward the edge of the cliff, and was unable to self-correct -- the first time I saw than type of failure in my thirty years of service. The AEI effort (in which I also played a small role) provided the independent top cover that the President was able to use to overrule his senior military commanders (who were wrong) and reverse field to execute what was in truth a surprise counter-offensive and break the back of the enemy momentum. The JCS was not behind that call and as Tom Ricks rightfully observed, in some ways even fought it well after the President made the decision. The troops in the field led by Gens Petraeus and Odierno succeeded brilliantly. The generals in Washington only made it harder, by most measures. Good tactics inside a bad strategy lose wars --see Vietnam. Good tactics, strong leadership on the ground nested in a sound strategy drives home victory. Let's hope we can be as successful in Afghanistan. And lets not re-write history to cover up some near-fatal military mistakes in 2006 in Iraq.

I'm with Anonymous above. Great rant. Short, but great.

Iron Forge 76, if you're going to bring up "good tactics" and "bad strategy," let's not forget that the principal "bad strategy" was invading Iraq in 2003 in the first place. And the Kagan family you seem to admire so much has always supported that really squared away idea. These people are not credible.

^ What he said.

I really wish that anyone in a think tank and any of their fans would just take a vacation from patting one another on the back as a reward for the hard work and bloodshed of others. Reading the blogs, reports, books, and listening to the interviews and panel discussions of point-headed wonks is good stuff for those of us who are interested in this material. But I wish that people would spare us the claims or suggestions that so-and-so at XYZ think tank contributed SO MUCH.

The improved security situation is due to the hard work of a bunch of nervous, hungry, filthy, and tired teenagers and 20-somethings sweating their balls off, getting shot at, getting maimed or killed - and doing the REAL intellectual heavy-lifting of figuring out how to implement policy at the individual level. So-and-so wrote a paper? Good for so-and-so. Here's an invite to a swanky cocktail party. Meanwhile in Iraq...

Has the pedestal ever towered so high above the arena?