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Making Progress In Iraq - Part 2

Victory against the terrorists in Iraq will require innovative thinking, even adopting successful tactics used by the enemy.
by Lawrence Sellin
UPI Outside View Commentator
Washington (UPI) Oct 06, 2006
Fourteen out of 18 Iraqi provinces are relatively secure. The main problems lie in the other four and in the capital, Baghdad. Our enemies see Baghdad as the center of gravity and their control of adjoining areas as necessary to support the insurgency.

We need to hold the line there while, in parallel, maintaining security and rebuilding the economy and infrastructure in those 14 provinces, thereby creating a zone of stability around those four renegade provinces. This cannot be done without also securing the borders.

Although attacks on critical infrastructure have been decreasing, the impact of these attacks is disproportional higher because reconstruction is inhibited by both the general insecurity and corruption. Security and productivity of the oil industry should be a primary focus.

Oil is Iraq's cash crop and expanding production is the most direct route to economic sustainability and popular support for Iraq's fledgling democracy. It could also ease global demand and price pressure and help alleviate America's financial burden in Iraq.

Addressing the security challenge in Iraq does not come without a price. Specifically, it means more boots on the ground. If it is true, as recent July-August data suggest (USA Today), that more U.S. and/or Iraqi troops in an area lead to a decrease in violence, then it is logical to increase significantly troop levels to gain control of Baghdad, while encircling the other troublesome provinces with the zone of stability eventually squeezing the life out of the insurgency.

Victory against the terrorists in Iraq will require innovative thinking, even adopting successful tactics used by the enemy. Greg Jaffe of the Wall Street Journal wrote recently about Gen. John Abizaid's counter-terrorism strategy in the Horn of Africa, which in some ways mimics Hezbollah's hybrid approach to war simultaneously using guerrilla violence, political activity and social aid over the course of many years, the long war as some describe it.

Implementing this "long war strategy," in the Horn of Africa has involved sending small teams to train local forces, gather information and build clinics and schools that extend the local government's influence. That is, fighting the insurgency and, at the same time, addressing some of the root causes of terrorism in a region. This is the same integrated approach of parallel military, political and economic activities implied in the U.S. Department of Defense's own report.

In the short term, this may require additional investment in force structure to ease the burden on the existing Active and Reserve units. Similar to the temporary expansion of the military in World War II, it might be feasible to stand-up, temporarily, eighteen-month volunteer brigades (six months of training and 12 months in Iraq).

These troops can be specifically trained for stability operations (thereby also contributing to needed force transformation by addressing 21st century threats) and take responsibility in the more secure areas allowing seasoned troops to be redeployed to Baghdad and its surroundings.

In the end, however, success in Iraq is less a matter of financial considerations than a matter of political will. The country as a whole requires the will to win, the acceptance of short-term sacrifice for long-term security. We are frequently reminded by our government that, "we are a country at war".

Up until now, however, except for the American military and their families, there has not been much in the way of sacrifice by the majority of the population. The business community seems more focussed on benefiting from the "war dividend", rather than helping veterans and Reservists. Many politicians think it's more important to win an election than win the war. And much of the American media and intellectual elite can't seem to decide, which side they're on.

All Americans need to recognize that our enemies are not lunatics, but determined fanatics who, like totalitarians of the past, want to impose their ideology upon us by force. And that ideology is neither liberal nor democratic. No American, regardless of his or her political persuasion, has anything to gain if these fanatics win.

There is no fall back position because sooner or later they will be on our doorstep. The comparison to totalitarianism is fitting. This war is as grave as those we have fought in the past. One would do well to remember the words of previous American leaders.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke to his troops on that cold morning in June 1944. He said, "The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you."

Referring to communist threat, John F. Kennedy said "in the history of our great nation, only a few generations have been granted the privilege of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger".

We are, quite literally, in a fight for our lives. And time is working against us.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is an Army Reservist and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.

Related Links
Iraq: The first techonology war of the 21st century

Baghdad Overrun With Corrupt Police
Washington (UPI) Oct 04 2006
The Iraqi government late Tuesday recalled an entire national police brigade from northwest Baghdad for complicity with death squads, a U.S. official said Wednesday. "I don't know what degree any of the leadership knew, but there is clear evidence that there was some complicity in allowing death squad elements to move freely when in fact they were supposed to have been impeding their movement, that perhaps they did not respond as rapidly when reports were made" said Maj. Gen. William Thurman, the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.







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