Misreading the History of the Iraq War

In his latest missive on the U.S. endeavor in Iraq ("Misreading the Surge Threatens U.S. Army's Conventional Capabilities"), Army Lieutenant Colonel Gian Gentile claims that the Surge forces and the new U.S. Army and Marine Corps counterinsurgency doctrine had little effect on the situation in Iraq. Rather, U.S. forces paid off the insurgents, who stopped fighting for cash. Once again, Gian Gentile misreads not just what is happening today in Iraq, but the history of the war.

To borrow a quote from Ronald Reagan, "Gian, there you go again."

Gentile's analysis is incorrect in a number of ways, and his narrative is heavily influenced by the fact that he was a battalion commander in Baghdad in 2006. His unit didn't fail, his thinking goes, therefore recent successes cannot be due to anything accomplished by units that came to Iraq during the Surge.

The facts speak otherwise. Gentile's battalion occupied Ameriyah, which in 2006 was an Al Qaeda safe-haven infested by Sunni insurgents and their Al Qaeda-Iraq allies. I'm certain that he and his soldiers did their best to combat these enemies and to protect the people in their area. But since his battalion lived at Forward Operating Base Falcon and commuted to the neighborhood, they could not accomplish their mission. The soldiers did not fail. The strategy did.

The "big base" strategy only changed when General Dave Petraeus and Lieutenant General Ray Odierno came to Iraq and implemented the new counterinsurgency doctrine in the recently published FM 3-24. Few U.S. Army units were implementing that doctrine as early as 2004, as Gentile claims. Some units were moving in that direction, as Colonel H. R. McMaster's accomplishments with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tal Afar in 2005 attest. But these units were exceptions to the general rule. Most units were still more intent on finding and killing the enemy than they were on protecting the Iraqi people and making it impossible for the insurgents to survive in their midst.

The Surge succeeded on a number of levels. Lieutenant General Odierno brought the operational level of war back into play with his brilliant plan for securing Baghdad and eliminating Al Qaeda-Iraq sanctuaries in the areas surrounding the capital, the so-called "Baghdad belts." If the U.S. Army were doing so well in COIN operations from 2004-2006, as Gentile claims, then why wasn't Baghdad secured earlier? Perhaps it was because our forces were poorly positioned on large bases, unable to protect the Iraqi people, as claimed by "a senior Army officer who was [sic, is] a member of Gen. Petraeus's 'brain trust'."

Gentile's assertion, that we paid the insurgents off, does not stand up to a close reading of recent history. The fact is that the Surge was a success in securing Baghdad (and Al Anbar) well before we began to grant security contracts in large numbers to "Concerned Local Citizens." The sheiks and other community leaders turned against Al Qaeda-Iraq first, due to terrorist depredations on their communities and also due to their belief that they would be supported by U.S. forces —to live among their people to protect them. With this 24/7 support, they could get rid of the terrorists of Al Qaeda-Iraq for good. The additional U.S. forces positioned in their communities meant that the terrorists could not return to enact revenge on those who turned against them.

This scenario played out first in the fall of 2006 in Ramadi in Al Anbar Province, where Colonel Sean MacFarland and my old unit, the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, conducted a superb campaign to rid the city of Al Qaeda-Iraq. MacFarland positioned his forces in platoon and company strongpoints that slowly squeezed the area under enemy control. He also backed tribal auxiliary forces that supplemented the local Iraqi police. By the late spring of 2007, U.S. Army troopers and Marines along with local tribesmen eventually eliminated the Al-Qaeda-Iraq presence in Ramadi.

The success in Ramadi served as a template for other areas, to include the enemy stronghold of Ameriyah where Gentile and his battalion served. Once the Iraqi populace understood that U.S. forces would live among them, assist Iraqi security forces in battling the terrorists and other irreconcilable insurgents in their neighborhoods, and ensure their long-term protection, then a number of insurgents came forward to turn against their former allies who had gone too far in their intimidation of the local citizenry. Multi-National Force-Iraq applauded when these reconcilable elements of the insurgency offered to turn their weapons against the terrorists rather than continue to use them against us. They did so initially without being paid for their conversion -- that came later.

In short, the turning of the tribes against Al Qaeda-Iraq in Al Anbar came first, then the Surge provided forces to secure Baghdad's neighborhoods and eliminate enemy sanctuaries surrounding the capital, and then a number of insurgents turned against their former allies in Ameriyah, Ghazalia, and elsewhere. Only later did we start to pay money for the security offered by these reconcilable elements of Iraqi society.

The other cause to which Gentile ascribes the reduction in violence is Sadr's freeze on the operations of Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM), which he presents without context. The freeze cannot be understood unless you acknowledge that it came a time when JAM was under tremendous and increasing pressure from U.S. and Iraqi operations enabled by the surge and the new COIN approach. By the late summer of 2007, the Iraqi people increasingly perceived less of a need for JAM to secure their neighborhoods, because U.S. and Iraqi Security Forces had supplanted the role of militias in this regard. The incident in Karbala in August 2007 -- when JAM militiamen killed several hundred people during a Shi'ite religious festival -- jeopardized much of the remaining popular support for Sadr's military organization, which Iraqis increasingly viewed as thugs and criminals operating under the otherwise honorable banner of Sadr's father. Again, the Surge and the operations it enabled came first, and they were causal factors in Sadr's freeze on JAM operations.

Gentile worries that the U.S. Army has lost the capability to conduct conventional warfighting operations. I disagree. The Army has not lost that capability; today's Army is the most experienced, professional, and capable combined arms force in our nation's history. Since 2003 the U.S. Army and Marine Corps have routinely engaged in conventional warfighting. Battles in Karbala, An Najaf, Fallujah, Tal Afar, Mosul, Baqubah, Baghdad, and elsewhere have proven the capabilities of our ground forces to engage in conventional combat operations. Combat units routinely use armor, artillery, mechanized infantry, attack aviation, close air support, and other assets to accomplish their missions. The fact that our units are doing non-kinetic operations doesn't mean they've stopped doing high-intensity kinetic operations or have forgotten how. Gentile also doesn't mention how much more capable our brigades are now in terms of command and control and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance than they were when the war began in 2003.

The larger concern, in my view, would be if our senior leaders allow our newly developed counterinsurgency capabilities to lapse, and like Gentile, focus instead on preparing the Army to fight the next "big one." After all, why worry about fighting real wars in the Middle East and South Asia when we can instead keep our military forces in the United States to fight imaginary ones? Iraq and Afghanistan are a long way from being over. To paraphrase a certain high ranking former official, let's fight the wars we have, rather than the ones we want.

Colonel Peter Mansoor, USA, is the executive officer to General David Petraeus in Iraq. Previously he served on a "Council of Colonels" that assisted the Joint Chiefs of Staff in reassessing the strategy for the Iraq War, as the founding Director of the US Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center, and as Commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, in Iraq in 2003-2004. He will retire this summer and assume duties as the General Raymond E. Mason Jr. Chair of Military History at The Ohio State University.

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SWJ Editors Links

Iraq Success: Happy Confluence - Tom Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett

Does Iraq Really Prepare the Army for Everything? - Westhawk, Westhawk

Peter Mansoor Weighs In - Charlie, Abu Muqawama

Two Sides of the COIN - Phillip Carter, Intel Dump

Inside the Military's Civil War Over Counterinsurgency - Noah Shachtman, Danger Room

Getting the Strategy Right - Herschel Smith, The Captain's Journal

Reading Or Misreading The Surge? - Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic

Discuss at Small Wars Council

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Comments

I agree that things are not perfect.

"The Army is not adequately training combined arms warfare, and this degrades our capability to face the myriad threats in the world today."

But the same is true of the inadequate training that we conducted prior to 9/11.

"While I would acknowledge that we did execute combined arms operations in Fallujah, Ramadi, Baghdad, and Mosul, it was all within the construct of the COIN fight. These operations were high intensity at the BDE level and below, but compared to major combat operations involving multiple brigades and divisions - they dont measure up. With the previous examples notwithstanding, one could make the argument that the Army as a whole conducts combined arms every day in Iraq and Afghanistan since leaders are forced to conduct fire planning, ISR integration, and fixed/ rotary wing coordination to conduct daily operations."

That means that we are a better trained force than we were on 9/11. I would also add that we are now better equipped, better housed, better paid, and more educated. Our military is far more capable today.

I agree that we should not slant our focus too much toward COIN, but I guess I don't share the same degree of concern.

Too much is being made of COL Gentiles discussion of what contributed to success in Iraq in 2007 - 2008. Whats not being discussed is his concern that the Army as an institution is losing the knowledge to conduct combined arms in major combat operations. We currently have an entire generation of leaders (enlisted and officer) whose combat experience consists solely of counter-insurgency (COIN). This emphasis on COIN (albeit much of it due to necessity) erodes our capability to conduct combined arms warfare, as it existed prior to 2003. Far from trying to re-fight the last war, Im only advocating that we focus on the fundamentals so that were prepared for potential future contingencies. Moreover, I agree with COL Gentiles argument that Soldiers and units trained and capable to conduct combined arms operations are able to transition quickly to whatever contingency they may face. In short, theyre prepared for anything by training on the fundamentals. The goal is to have a force thats flexible enough to meet any contingency in the 21st century.

The Army is not adequately training combined arms warfare, and this degrades our capability to face the myriad threats in the world today. While I would acknowledge that we did execute combined arms operations in Fallujah, Ramadi, Baghdad, and Mosul, it was all within the construct of the COIN fight. These operations were high intensity at the BDE level and below, but compared to major combat operations involving multiple brigades and divisions - they dont measure up. With the previous examples notwithstanding, one could make the argument that the Army as a whole conducts combined arms every day in Iraq and Afghanistan since leaders are forced to conduct fire planning, ISR integration, and fixed/ rotary wing coordination to conduct daily operations. The reason this doesnt meet the mail is that it isnt being synchronized at the highest levels - division, corps and army. Yes, company commanders (and even battalion commanders) are conducting small scale combined arms synchronization, however few brigade (and no division) commanders are actually coordinating/ synchronizing the fight since high level commands have ceded that responsibility to subordinate commanders.

Theres no substitute for well-trained Soldiers and this fact must include a combined arms focus if our Army is to meet whatever contingencies may arise in the battles of tomorrow. One cannot ever accurately predict what form that conflict may take, however through effective combined arms training, along with a focus on fundamentals, our Army will be prepared to act. A combined arms focus for our training regimen will allow us to conduct operations across the spectrum of conflict - from stability to major combat operations, along with a hybrid of both. The key to all of it is combined arms training so that we maintain this institutional knowledge throughout the Army as a whole.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

Too much is being made of COL Gentiles discussion of what contributed to success in Iraq in 2007 - 2008. Whats not being discussed is his concern that the Army as an institution is losing the knowledge to conduct combined arms in major combat operations. We currently have an entire generation of leaders (enlisted and officer) whose combat experience consists solely of counter-insurgency (COIN). This emphasis on COIN (albeit much of it due to necessity) erodes our capability to conduct combined arms warfare, as it existed prior to 2003. Far from trying to re-fight the last war, Im only advocating that we focus on the fundamentals so that were prepared for potential future contingencies. Moreover, I agree with COL Gentiles argument that Soldiers and units trained and capable to conduct combined arms operations are able to transition quickly to whatever contingency they may face. In short, theyre prepared for anything by training on the fundamentals. The goal is to have a force thats flexible enough to meet any contingency in the 21st century.
The Army is not adequately training combined arms warfare, and this degrades our capability to face the myriad threats in the world today. While I would acknowledge that we did execute combined arms operations in Fallujah, Ramadi, Baghdad, and Mosul, it was all within the construct of the COIN fight. These operations were high intensity at the BDE level and below, but compared to major combat operations involving multiple brigades and divisions - they dont measure up. With the previous examples notwithstanding, one could make the argument that the Army as a whole conducts combined arms every day in Iraq and Afghanistan since leaders are forced to conduct fire planning, ISR integration, and fixed/ rotary wing coordination to conduct daily operations. The reason this doesnt meet the mail is that it isnt being synchronized at the highest levels - division, corps and army. Yes, company commanders (and even battalion commanders) are conducting small scale combined arms synchronization, however few brigade (and no division) commanders are actually coordinating/ synchronizing the fight since high level commands have ceded that responsibility to subordinate commanders.
Theres no substitute for well-trained Soldiers and this fact must include a combined arms focus if our Army is to meet whatever contingencies may arise in the battles of tomorrow. One cannot ever accurately predict what form that conflict may take, however through effective combined arms training, along with a focus on fundamentals, our Army will be prepared to act. A combined arms focus for our training regimen will allow us to conduct operations across the spectrum of conflict - from stability to major combat operations, along with a hybrid of both. The key to all of it is combined arms training so that we maintain this institutional knowledge throughout the Army as a whole.

I have to endorse COL Mansoor's position that FOB = limited maneuver. Our BCT controlled southern Baghdad from May 2003 - January 2004. We spread our companies/batteries/troops out in key locations and combed the AO on foot every day. In November we moved onto Camp Falcon. We thought that meant the war was basically over and the follow on forces would be coming for mop up, peace keeping and transition team training. One thing was clear - our engagements with the locals suffered a very sharp drop off when we occupied the FOB.

One of the key details in the OIF narrative that is rarely discussed in operational criticism is the role of religion in OIF. Part of the early "wins" in OIF were due to quickly recognizing the following:
1. The Baath Party and all forms of local government were completely liquidated;
2. The only forms of controlling the population that remained were the Mosques and the tribes;
3. The Mosque preachers could go against the tribes, but the tribes would not/could not defy the Mosque preachers, especially the Shiites.

Religious leader engagement became the primary linkage to population control in the summer of 2003 in the Baghdad AO. BG Dempsey adopted MG Petraeus' plan from the MND-N AOR and prosecuted robust cleric engagement that resulted in the establishment of religious leader councils which were dominant spheres of influence and to a great extent informed the activities of the NACs and DACs (neighborhood and district advisory councils). These were the first halting steps of a fumbling, ugly and unstable foray into self-government by a people who had been psychologically brutalized by Saddam and who were willing to put very little faith in government. They were however, willing to trust in their Mosque preachers and clerics.

When the OIF II [Legacy] Divisions rolled in in 2004, they inherited battle space that they were unfamiliar with, lived on relatively mature, comfy FOBs and knew almost nothing of the cleric engagement policy that had been such a large part of early wins, but had begun to unravel with the FOB-based strategy in the fall of 2003. Once the clerics were marginalized, the enemy began to engage them in earnest with their very persuasive religious IO. We did not do much to effectively counter that IO or engage the Imams. Part of the Anbar Awakening narrative that gets very little attention is the key role of the clerics, especially the Sunnis, who began to oppose AQI when they began to see CF/GOI as committed partners. One fatwa is worth more than 1,000,000 PSYOP handbills, any amount of wells, trash collection, clinic restoration, etc...

Those units (OIF II and beyond) fought bravely and did everything that was asked of them. I agree with COL Mansoor that the wrong thing was asked of them.

Part of the COIN story you won't read about much is the inter-religious councils that forged the strategic work of reconciliation that is the subtext to any lasting success in OIF. http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/item/2008/0103/maki/maki_godpol.html#A...
Part of why things have turned around in OIF is that outreach to the clerics is part of the COIN key leader engagement strategy. In this view, LTC Gentile's assertion that other factors besides actions taken by US military formations could very well be true. 70% of Iraqis polled said the leader they most trust and respect is their religious leader. Robert "Bud" McFarlane corroborated this assessment in his WSJ Op Ed 26 March 2008.
(link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120649298824364057.html?mod=googlenews_wsj )

It is good to see the truth put out by someone who actually knows the facts. Well done Mr. Mansoor

Yet I have a beef. Mansoor mentions Tal Afar and Ramadi as areas where the "new" COIN tactics were already taking place before the Surge. I wish he would have mentioned that al Qaim, Husaybah and Karabilah had already been tamed and the Sunni people already converted to the Coalition cause by the time the military in Tal Afar and Ramadi figured it out.

I appreciate Colonel Pete Mansoor taking the time to write up his missive in response to my opinion piece where I argued that misrepresenting the success of the Surge puts American conventional capabilities in question. Colonel Mansoors opinions are important and need to be considered by the SWC especially in light of his extensive combat experience in Iraq as a senior commander and then advisor to General Petraeus. Colonel Mansoor and I go back a long way and I respect his opinion and appreciate his service to the nation.

The same comment I made in another posting in response to a currently running article in Military Review on Anbar province by Colonel McFarland and Major Smith applies to Colonel Mansoor: his assumption of positive knowledge of cause and effect in Iraq is breadth-taking to say the least. Like the McFarland/Smith piece, Colonel Mansoor assumes that almost every positive event in Iraq over the past year has been caused by the application of American military force. I as a student of history am much less confident in such positive knowledge and suggest that there are multiple causes in Iraq to the lowering of violence. And I still believe that a relatively small cause for the lowering of violence has been the Surge (involving an increased number of troops, practicing so-called new Coin methods and tactics). The necessary causes of the lowering of violence were the paying off of our former enemies the non-alqueda sunni insurgents and Sadrs related decision to stand down his militas attacks. If these two conditions had not been in place then I dont see how any informed and serious observer can see the violence being lowered regardless of the increased number of troops as part of the Surge.

Colonel Mansoor argues that it was the Surge and with it the establishing of combat outposts in "neighborhoods" that convinced the Iraqis to "turn" against the enemy. I acknowledge that a sense of commitment by the Americans was critical, but that sense of commitment came from senior American leaders. How those senior American leaders applied American military power once they made that commitment was irrelevant. What was important was the commitment to halt the draw-down of forces. How those forces were employed (either in a relatively few combat outposts, or more concentrated on larger bases) was irrelevant.

I argued in my opinion piece that the Coin methods practiced by American military outfits since about the middle of 2004 have been pretty much unchanged and by the book. I believe that in 10-20 years when tactical histories of the Iraq war are written they will prove this point. Do we really think that the task and purpose statements for infantry and scout platoons have changed since the Surge has begun? They have and still as examples look like this to list just a few: "conduct recon patrols to locate possible ambush positions for future ops; conduct a patrol to meet with the local imam to establish service requirements for his neighborhood; conduct engagement meeting with local governance to build on capabilities of local leaders; conduct a security patrol to protect local concrete workers in improving roads in area; conduct a cordon and search to capture or kill an hvi." I am sure that a scout or infantry platoon leader today in Iraq would recognize these types of missions just like his company commander who was in Iraq in 2004 would too. These tasks remain unchanged whether conducted out of a cop or a fob.

Colonel Mansoor, like so many others who want to see success in Iraq as resting on the Surge, way overstates the role of combat outposts. The notion that these cops are deep inside Iraqi neighborhoods is fallacious. I have seen open-source briefing maps of their locations in areas I knew quite well in Baghdad. Relatively speaking they are few and far between and many of their locations would have violated Galulas guidance of not making them into large defensive positions on key terrain. The idea that these cops and the additional Surge troops caused in a matter of months the drastic lowering of violence still in my mind does not square with the facts.

Colonel Mansoor suggests that it was the Cops and the Surge that had much affect on Sadrs decision to stand-down his attacks. But how many cops have been established in Sadr city? If Colonel Mansoor is right then the logical answer should be at least 25-30; I doubt that there are even close to that many in place.

Remember, it took Galula almost a year and a half with an infantry company of about 150 men in a square of about 4 by 4 miles in the isolated mountain region of north Algeria with a population of about 15,000 people scattered in small villages in the area to pacify his area of operations. Why do we think we--American military power--did it in a matter of months in Baghdad in the summer of 2006?

I am much less sanguine than Colonel Mansoor about the ability of the American Army to conduct high-intensity fighting. Any serious observer has to take into careful account what happened to the Israeli Army in summer 2006 in Lebanon. I agree with Colonel Mansoor that the American Army has gained much combat experience in Iraq. But that combat experience is of a certain kind and quality and if we are serious about the Amreican Armys need to still conduct high-intensity, fighting operations then we should at least be ready to acknowledge that we have a problem in this regard.

I am not trying to return the American Army to the days when Colonel Mansoor and I were company grade officers and need only worry ourselves with a Soviet Army attacking through the Fulda Gap or the North Koreans attacking across the 38th (you know, that undergraduate level of war as many Coin experts describe things). I am trying to understand the past and present, and then devise a conception of a future security environment that doesnt peg the American Army into a Coin-only approach and capability.

If we dont think that our American Army is in trouble now in this regard then we have succumbed to the matrix and the existential ingestion of the blue pill.

In reference to MikeF's concerns:

"[T]oday, with populations and homelessness everywhere on the increase, masses of people are continuously rendered superfluous if we continue to think of our world in utilitarian terms" (Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, pg. 459). This systemic instability creates dangerous anxiety among the populace, which Arendt sees as unpredictable. The peoples' increased "incapacity to bear the burdens of modern life" combined with the "constant threat[s] of unemployment" can create a scenario where "surplus people" can be eliminated, especially if aided by a police force (Arendt, pg. 437). Elimination doesn't always have to happen from the barrel of a gun...
I can see this situation being experienced in Iraq since the US invasion in 2003. There are 2 million homeless people in Iraq, as well as 2 million externally displaced (essentially 1 out of 6 Iraqis). Also, there are conditions of massive unemployment among Iraqi citizens, especially in more rural areas.
In the past, Iraq employed its people in two ways which are different then today's efforts. The first is that the state, though a mixed economy, utilized a socialist methodology that employed a large number of its citizens. The second difference, which is directly related to the first, is that Iraq used to employ the majority of its workforce in either the production, distribution, or servicing of domestic agriculture. Contemporary problems in Iraqi employment have been perpetuated in a variety of ways, from the encouraged use of foreign nationals for labor by foreign companies and corporations, of which a vast majority are connected to the US in some way, to the restructuring programs dictated by international lending organization. The reactions in Iraq to these systematic burdens (among others) have been along the lines of what Arendt was afraid of.
They need schools and they need creative work.

Soldiers Dad/Tinfoil Hat**

What SECDEF didn't do-that he identified that needed to be done-was free up 300K military personnel in congressionally mandated make-work jobs or doing the jobs of DOD civilians. That was identified by Rumsfeld pre 9/11.

Now of course he had other things on his mind post 9/11..but it cannot be argued. We have too many people in non-combat/non-deployable positions. Think what we could do with half those 300,000. We could win Afghanistan/Punjabistan (I mean there's not really a border, eh) with those extra 150,000.

The National Guard needs reform too...it's an Operational Reserve...structured and funded as a Strategic (last ditch) reserve. GEN Steven Blum identified that, had a plan for consolidation and reorganization...and the state governors shot it down because it's a patronage racket for them (and their own personal Army).

So we are hurting ourselves by wasting our scarcest resource-people.

As far as Economy of Force..there's a lot to be said for that in a 50 to 500 year war. That's what the enemy is doing...and wearing us down doing it.

And it's working.

As far as telling LT's/SGT's what's going on...oh they know better than anyone. You don't have to tell them...but you should admit it if asked. It's not that they don't know it's that they endure it in silence.

**funny line. At least you admit it.

I'm gonna put on my pretend SecDef hat.

It's early 2004 and after having enjoying a crushing victory against Saddams Army you find out that someone had planned an insurgency to co-incide with the US election cycle...I.E...they used HoChiMinh's game plan.

So you have an Active Army of 33 Brigades and you've pretty much spent your reserve forces.

The Army Chief of Staff gives you a very detailed briefing on what rotation options are sustainable.

Another senior briefer explains troop densities required to end an insurgency and secure the Iraqi population.(540,000)

Another briefer explains how it will take a minimum of 3 years to expand from 33 to 43 brigades without going to conscription...a "trial balloon" conscription bill is floated in the House of Rep and gets all of 1 vote.

You call up to MNSTC-I and ask how long it will take to grow the Iraqi Security Forces to 540,000. You get an answer of 4 years.

Knowing that you won't have enough forces for at least 3 more years...what plan does one implement?

Could it be an "economy of force plan" until such time as enough forces become available?

/tinfoil hat on

I would note that the 2004 US Deaths in Iraq were 849 and the 2005 US Deaths were 846. 2004 was a leap year and had an extra day.

How does one end up with two years statistically the same without controlling "Op Tempo"? Death rates from natural causes fluctuate from year to year. Yet death rates for Iraq were identical for 2 years.

Does one explain to the Lt's and Sgt's that they are an "economy of force" operation?

/Tinfoil hat off

2 points.
Editorial:
"Support for Regime = Net Expected Beliefs - Net Expected Cost". Heh. That would be "Support for Regime = Net Expected Benefits - Net Expected Cost", no?

Cynical: I boycotted the elections, and now the government doesn't adequately represent me!
Doh.

BTW, the playing field has changed. It was revealed that SH-suppressed seismic studies show Anbar has almost as much in potential reserves as the ROI put together. Hmmm ....

Spot on Sir (no offense to LTC Gentile).

In most things in life..if your doers can do the small things well, they can scale up to the big things (the management will have the hardest time scaling up).

Mao wrote it..and Chesty Puller lived it..if you learn in small wars..you can scale up to big ones. If you can fight insurgents rural, urban or urbanized...you can scale up to whatever big (unlikely) war we might find ourselves in..not that I want to live in a world where the US military doesn't have Air and Naval Superiority..as well as enough tanks and artillery to triumph.

We actually started to ease into this in Summer 2006 at Snak-oh-condo...it got immediate results but we were unable to sell 24 x 7 presence never mind COP, etc. Risk Aversion.

Gentlemen,
Ive been in Iraq every year since 2003 with the exception of 2004 in serving as tank platoon leader (B/1-64 AR), SOF LNO, and Recon Troop Commander (A/5-73 Recon) in the Diyala Province. I will provide several observations on warfighting capabilities and strategy from my perspective and pose a question on governance that Im still struggling to understand. Then, Ill go back to my cubby-hole.
WARFIGHTING CAPABILITIES
"Gentile worries that the U.S. Army has lost the capability to conduct conventional warfighting operations... Gentile also doesn't mention how much more capable our brigades are now in terms of command and control and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance than they were when the war began in 2003."
Granted, some warfighting capabilities are diminishing- specifically in the artillery branches, but on the whole, Id submit that were a much more capable force today than in 2002.
Observations:
1. Platoon Leaders talking directly to CAS and guiding them on to a target from the embedded Rover in the HMMWV. (JTAC and CO CDR had final control, but we streamlined the process to create efficiencies in time-on-target).
2. FISTERs at the grade of specialist guiding AWTs on to targets.
3. Dismounted scouts effectively conducting close tactical reconnaissance uncompromised for 72 hours.
4. Combined arms clearing operations in Turki Village and Diyala River Valley consisting of Tanks, Bradleys, light infantry, scouts, engineers, EOD, CAS, AWTs, UAVs, etc AND Iraqi Army and Police forces.
5. A tanker orchestrating air assaults and urban clearance ops.
Id submit that the real question is not "are we prepared to fight conventionally?" The real question is "will the Army be able to retain those platoon leaders and specialists?"
ON STRATEGY
In 2006, my battalion commander was on the spot everyday justifying why my troop lived in a patrol base. During this time, we were the exception, not the rule. To us, it was an easy answer- in this fight, you cant drive to work. However, the strategy at the time was to transition security responsibilities and sovereignty to the Iraqi Government while we exfilled to LSAA to provide overwatch. That was the strategy. After the MNF-I change of command, the strategy changed, and everyone went to patrol bases.
This difference in attitudes of the insurgent is best illustrated in Pierre Leullietes Saint Michael and the Dragon,
"If we go through a village in the daytime, the rebels come there at night. If we camp in one for the night, they are back in it next morning, a few hours after we have left. All they want is to make fools of us and to prove to the Arabs that they cant be caught, and that even an army will never be able to force an engagement on them unless they want it... Meantime the rebels are winning the savage hearts of the people."
Furthermore, the difference in the local nationals sentiments is best expressed by an interpretive version of Popkins Rational Choice Theory,

Regime Support
What is the expected value of backing the government't?

 Support for Regime = Net Expected Beliefs - Net Expected Cost
 
EVr = [EBr - ECr] - [EBi -ECi]

EVr= Expected Value of backing regime, EB= Expected Benefits, EC = Expected Costs, r= Regime, i= Insurgency
Eight independent Variables
Assume: Iraqi National desires to support the government, but government is minimal in his area and insurgency controls terrain.
EBr = (.1)*8 = 8 denotes the benefits of supporting the regime. .1 is the perceived probability of it happening
 ECr = (.9)*10 = 10 costs of supporting of the regime (beheading, displacement). .9 is the perceived probability of it happening
EBi= (.9)*1 = 1 denotes the benefits of supporting the insurgency. .9 is the perceived probability of it happening
ECi = (0)*2 = 2 denotes the cost of supporting the insurgency. 0 is the perceived probability of it happening
= [(.1)*8-(.9)*10] - [(.9)*1-(0)*2]
= -9.1

In this scenario, the local national will choose to remain silent and effectively support the insurgency through inaction. This model debuncts "hearts and minds theory." Despite the love of government, LN chooses to support insurgency.

LIMITATIONS
As defined by Dr. Gordon McCormick and outlined by Dr David J. Kilcullen,
"An insurgency is a struggle for control over a contested political space, between a state (or group of states or occupying powers), and one or more popularly based, non-state challengers.9 Insurgencies are popular uprisings that grow from, and are conducted through pre-existing social networks (village, tribe, family, neighborhood, political or religious party) and exist in a complex social, informational and physical environment. Think of this environment as a sort of 'conflict ecosystem. It includes many independent but interlinked actors, each seeking to maximize their own survivability and advantage in a chaotic, combative environment. Pursuing the ecological metaphor, these actors are constantly evolving and adapting, some seeking a secure niche while others seek to become "top predator" or scavenge on the environment. Some actors existed in the environment before the conflict. They include government, ethnic, tribal, clan or community groups, social classes, urban and rural populations, and economic and political institutions. In normal times, these actors behave in a collaborative or competitive way: but now, due to the internal power struggle, they are combative and destructive. The relatively healthy competition and creative tension that sustains normal society has spun out of control, and the conflict threatens to destroy the society. This new state of the environment also produces new actors. These include local armed organizations, and foreign armed groups drawn into the conflict from outside. Often, that includes intervening counterinsurgent forces such as ourselves. Foreign terrorists are also increasingly "swarming" from one conflict to another in pursuit of their global agenda. In addition, the conflict produces refugees, displaced persons and sometimes mass migration. It creates economic dislocation, leading to unemployment and crime, and creating armed groups such as bandits, narcotics traffickers, smugglers, couriers and black marketeers."

After securing the populace, how do you effectively transition the area from coercive control to normative control?
In the DRV, we effectively cleared AQIZ; however, we were unable to resolve the underlying struggles that facilitated AQIZs initial entry--tribal struggles for power and resources in the post-Saddam era and the Sunnis argument that their insurgents groups(1920s, AAS, etc.) were actually resistance groups b/c the Shia controlled government did not adequately represent them.
This is the question that I cannot resolve.

Scouts out!