Iraq's Counterinsurgency College

Iraq's Counterinsurgency College - Yochi Dreazen, Wall Street Journal

The US focus in Iraq is fast shifting from fighting a war to preparing for its aftermath.

The cornerstone of the transition is an effort to rehabilitate and release thousands of Iraqi detainees, including many former insurgents. According to the military, there are more than 19,000 Iraqi detainees in American custody, down from 26,000 in November 2007.

The effort, centered in Baghdad and Basra, includes courses in literacy, mathematics and moderate Islamic thought. The military hopes the courses will temper the detainees' religious beliefs and give them the skills to find and hold a steady job.

"The idea is to move from punishment to rehabilitation," said Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, one of the officers leading the push. "It's not enough to simply lock these guys up and hope they somehow turn into productive members of Iraqi society."

Few in the military question the need for the rehabilitation effort, but some wonder whether troops should be leading it. Some officers privately complain the program is turning them into social workers who coddle violent extremists. But few are —to voice those criticisms because the effort is a favored project of Gen. David Petraeus, the former commander of US forces in Iraq. Gen. Petraeus believes the country's stability will be shaped by how well former insurgents are integrated back into Iraqi society. He sees the rehabilitation push as a powerful weapon in that fight...

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