Streetwise Professor

August 27, 2007

Don’t Let Up Now

Filed under: Military,Politics — The Professor @ 8:15 am

I find this WSJ article (subscription required) disturbing. It says that General Casey, who ran operations in Iraq in 2005-2006 when things spun out of control, and who was kicked upstairs to the Joint Chiefs and replaced in Iraq by General Petraeus, is still pressing on with his plan to reduce the US troop presence. He is also continuing to advocate a change in the mission of US troops. Under Casey’s plan, the US troops would withdraw to bases, and focus on counterterrorism and training Iraqi troops. According to the article, Casey has the ear of SecDef Gates.

I understand that the Surge is stressing the Army and Marine Corps, and that the current troop level and aggressive posture cannon continue indefinitely. But the objective evidence suggests that it is putting much more stress on the enemy. Casey’s preferred strategy of a return to a more passive, hunkered down, less aggressive, and less persistent mode of operations–the very strategy that created the openings that Al Qaeda and Iran-allied Shiite groups (notably the Sadrists)–threatens to undo all that has been accomplished since the Surge began. We have a good chance to snatch victory from defeat’s jaws. Let’s not throw it away. Premature relaxation of the Surge’s pressure would allow Al Qaeda and the Iranians and their Iraqi clients to regroup and roll back the progress we’ve made.

The most recent declassified National Intelligence Estimate (for whatever it’s worth) argues that changing our mission from Counterinsurgency to Counterterrorism threatens to undo the recent progress we’ve achieved in the past 7 months. I would state things somewhat differently; classic counterinsurgency methods are the best way to combat the type of terrorism that has plagued Iraq. The CI focus has seized initiative from the terrorists, and made them devote more resources to self-preservation and fewer to terrorist offensives. Moreover, by improving security, the Surge has improved intelligence, and allowed us to target the terrorists more effectively. Counterinsurgency and counterterrorism are not antithetical. Counterinsurgency is the best way to combat insurgents who rely almost exclusively on terror tactics.

We don’t want to be in the position of Sisyphus, having to roll the rock up the hill again and again. We need to suck it up and keep pushing. Even if we reduce troop levels, we must continue to use those that remain aggressively in order to maintain the initiative. Casey’s plan threatens to surrender the initiative that we have fought hard and well to win. I hope Secretary Gates and President Bush recognize this, and tell Casey that his approach had its day–and failed. Now is time for a different approach, one that puts higher stress upon the armed forces, but which holds out the prospect of success.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress