Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Iraqi child's drawing

from Michael Totten's Spring 2008 report from Fallujah, which included this:
“I feel the sincerity in the American support for the Iraqi civilians here,” one Fallujah resident tells me.
Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, then head of the movement’s Anbar Salvation Council, made himself al-Qaida’s most formidable enemy in the province. “Our American friends had not understood us when they came,” he said to Johns Hopkins University professor Fouad Ajami. “They were proud, stubborn people and so were we. They worked with the opportunists, now they have turned to the tribes, and this is as it should be. The tribes hate religious parties and religious fakers.” He was assassinated by a car bomb in front of his house in September 2007, almost certainly at al-Qaida’s hands. His brother Ahmed took over his leadership role, vowing “to fight al-Qaida until the last child in Anbar.” By then, every tribal leader in Anbar Province had flipped to the American side.
Before the surge, American counterinsurgency had followed a “light footprint” model: soldiers and Marines lived on large protected bases and did everything they could to avoid casualties. The thinking was that this approach not only protected the military; it also would keep Iraqis from viewing Americans as oppressive occupiers. But the light footprint model prevented the Americans from providing security to Iraqis, who began to regard their occupiers as not merely oppressive but incompetent to boot.

When Petraeus surged additional troops to Iraq in January 2007, the light footprint model was replaced with aggressive counterinsurgency operations that, perhaps counterintuitively, prioritized the protection of local civilians over American forces. “Sometimes, the more you protect your force, the less secure you may be,” the Army’s new manual on counterinsurgency (COIN) explains. “Ultimate success in COIN is gained by protecting the populace, not the COIN force. If military forces remain in their compounds, they lose touch with the people, appear to be running scared, and cede the initiative to the insurgents. Aggressive saturation patrolling, ambushes, and listening post operations must be conducted, risk shared with the populace, and contact maintained. . . . These practices ensure access to the intelligence needed to drive operations. Following them reinforces the connections with the populace that help establish real legitimacy.”
It is little known, today, that from 1968-1972 America largely dominated Vietnam via use of counterinsurgency techniques which were instituted by General Creighton Abrams. Like General Patraeus after him, General Abrams came into a tough situation and then bent it to America's favor. General Abrams was one of the great Generals in American history. General Patreus learned from those techniques, then incorporated the lessons (along with many other lessons) into Iraq in 2007-2008.

Question: When that final helicopter left the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon in 1975, how many American troops were in Vietnam?

Answer: None.

Today, few remember that, by 1975, American troops had been out of Vietnam for three years. South Vietnam fell, and the slaughter of South Vietnamese began, because the U.S. Congress broke our agreement with South Vietnam, via cutting off funding South Vietnam needed to defend herself. After 1972, South Vietnam had a sophisticated military, and defended itself quite effectively, until it's funds were cut off in 1975. That helicopter leaving the roof has come to represent American military defeat. In truth, it represented U.S. Congressional surrender. neoneocon:
Sorley reminds us that Abrams assumed command in 1968 when 500,000 American military were in Vietnam, yet the Vietnamese countryside remained dangerous–a testament to the bankruptcy of the strategy of attrition. Four years later, when Abrams departed MACV to become Army Chief of Staff, only 50,000 Americans remained in country, but well over 90 percent of the countryside was secure. Pacification had worked, and although South Vietnam’s imperfect democracy and military forces had vulnerabilities, Hanoi’s go-for-broke 1972 Easter Offensive had failed, North Vietnam’s army was in disarray, and it was our war to lose from that point forward.
Two weeks ago, America formally turned Anbar Province over to Iraqi authorities.

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