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Give War A Chance Remains The Mantra

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by Claude Salhani
UPI International Editor
Washington DC (UPI) March 13, 2007
If former Beatle John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono sang "Give Peace a Chance" while holed up in the Amsterdam Hilton during their "bed-in," Washington's general in charge of directing the war in Iraq is asking the American public to give war a chance.

Known by some as the "intellectual warrior," the new commanding officer in charge of the Iraq campaign, Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, believes the president's new initiative to surge tens of thousands of more U.S. troops into Iraq might actually just have a chance to work.

The new plan calls for deploying the troops in the cities, towns and villages so that they can secure neighborhood by neighborhood, starting with the capital, Baghdad, and then keep on holding those neighborhoods, or hand them over to U.S.-trained Iraqi government forces. But first the villages, towns and cities have to be cleaned of insurgents and jihadi fighters.

"Gen. Petraeus has adopted a philosophy similar to that of Gen. Victor H. 'Brute' Krulak," said Charles Henderson, a former U.S. Marine who served in Vietnam and Beirut and who is now author of half a dozen books on warfare.

Krulak (Sr.) was a decorated officer who saw action in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Today he is considered somewhat of a visionary by fellow Marines. He's the author of "First to Fight: An Inside View of U.S. Marine Corps," and the father of Charles Krulak, the 31st commandant of the Marine Corps.

Reading what Krulak Sr. wrote about the problems Marines faced in Vietnam, one can easily understand why Petraeus wants to employ similar tactics in Iraq. In a great number of respect the similarities are striking.

"The problem of seeking out and destroying guerrillas was easy enough to comprehend, but winning the loyalty of the people, why it was so important and how to do it, took longer to understand," wrote Victor Krulak.

"Protection is the most important thing you can bring them (the people). After that comes health. And, after that, many things -- land, prosperity, education, and privacy to name a few," wrote Krulak.

Henderson told United Press International the plan consists of the following: "Secure the cities and increase friendly forces gradually. Put a ring of troops around the cities and eliminate all weapons." Indeed, this sounds very similar to the tactics employed in Vietnam by Krulak.

"At one point you eliminate the enemy from his logistics," says Henderson. "And all wars have been one through logistics."

Henderson goes on to explain: "The enemy's logistics are the people. So you secure the cities. Secure the borders. And the enemy ends up without anything. No food, no water."

However, said Henderson, "For such an operation on a city the size of Baghdad you would need more than 21,000 troops. You would need at least half-a-million troops to secure the Iraqi capital."

But will the plan work? So many other plans have been tried and failed in the four years since U.S. forces and a few faithful allies began the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Gen. Petraeus thinks it will. And, analysts say, he wrote the book on counterinsurgency. Well, according to the New York Times, "he helped oversee the drafting of the military's comprehensive new manual on counterinsurgency." And according to the Washington Post, Petraeus "gained fame for his early success and training of Iraqi troops."

And so far, everyone, it seems, has nice things to say about Gen. Petraeus. But these are early days.

Still, a number of analysts ask why the sudden optimism? Part of it may be explained by the media hype created by the Bush administration in handing over, and from Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the man Petraeus is to replace. But, says writer William M. Arkin, this may be the equivalent of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

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Source: United Press International

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