Things Looking Up in Iraq

This Time, Things Are Looking Up by Dr. John Nagl, 14 September edition of The Washington Post

When I retired from the Army in June, my comrades in arms laughed at my summer vacation plans: another August in Iraq.

But I had unfinished business...

Everyone I talked to, Iraqis and Americans alike, stressed that the security gains are fragile and reversible; there were two car bombs and a suicide vest attack in Mosul three days after our visit. But the improvements in Baghdad and Basra are striking, with increasingly competent Iraqi security forces on every street corner -- although they will continue to need our advice and assistance for some years to come.

I am no cheerleader for the war in Iraq. We've made horrible mistakes that cost the lives of too many of my friends, American and Iraqi. It took us too long to learn from our errors and adopt an effective counterinsurgency strategy, and even now the war is far from won...

So they are -- as long as we continue to back them with air support, intelligence and US combat units, whose numbers are steadily diminishing. Iraq will need American advisers for years to come. For starters, it takes five years to produce a competent fighter pilot or tank company commander. Moreover, Iraq faces significant external security threats, as well as the remnants of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Shiite militias and Sunni insurgent groups. But US forces will increasingly be able to turn combat over to the Iraqis, allowing the United States to scale back its involvement significantly...

Much more at The Washington Post.

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