In the NYTimes today there is a story titled "Winning in Iraq" that attempts to bring a very strong theory into the mainstream. It is a theory by a very smart man (and former Army Lt. Colnel) named Andrew Krepinevich that outlines a plan that could help us actually win the war in Iraq.
I urge you all to at least read the NYTimes piece and if you are really interested, read the actual essay by Mr. Krepinevich (which is very readable and actually quite interesting). But, for those of you who want the quick synopsis, I’ll give you my take on it.
We are fighting the insurgency like a game of Whack a Mole. For the uninitiated, this means that we are going into towns, trying to stamp out insurgents, and then we move on to the next place that they are. This method is understandable. In Iraq, we all can agree that there was no post invasion planning done. In the absence of a plan, the plan becomes “put out the fires you can see”. I mean, you’re a military force, you are there and you can see little goals along the way, why not follow them?
This is a huge problem for a number of reasons on a number of levels. I don’t need to outline them here, you can see them. The people in Iraq are not helping us fight the insurgents (even though they are usually victims), the people here and around the word see no progress at all, and the insurgents just keep coming.
It seems to mr. Krepinevich (and I fully agree with him) that a good strategy to the fight over there would be one that restores the good will of the Iraqi people, shows the world that we are making progress, and actually increases security in the nation.
His plan is simple and it’s simply incredible that the people of our government haven’t thought of it earlier. I mean, aren’t there people in the Pentagon sitting around thinking of ways to win this war?
Anyway, the plan is this. Start with a piece of land, a town or a city, move in and make it secure, stay there, fix the electric, sewers, and plumbing. Train the Iraqi forces there to help you patrol and make that area safe. Make it so that the residents there feel as safe as we do here in our cities and towns. Once that is accomplished, expand the borders of the safe zone a bit. Repeat, continue outward.
These are things our government wanted to do all along. They wanted to make the country safe, they wanted to restore power and water, they wanted to train the Iraqi people to protect themselves. The difference is that we are focused on one area. This focus has obvious benefits across the board. But there are two benefits that aren’t so obvious. First is that the people will finally trust us and will actually aid us in intelligence gathering a bit. The second (and the BWH would love this one) is that the media can actually see progress. It is centered in one place. So instead of a fixed power plant in one town and a insurgent free day in another and a new school in another, it’s all happening at once in one place.
Think of the people who aren’t living in that town. They will be begging us to include them next once they see how nice things can be. Once they see that America is actually there helping them. The world at large would become more positive as well. The insurgency, which feeds on national discontent will finally wane out.
I could totally see a “grass is greener” kind of accelerated positive revival thing happening in Iraq.
I’m not smart enough to say weather we should totally pull out of the county or not but I am smart enough to demand that if we’re going to stay there, we should at least have a plan and a strategy to actually accomplish something.