The Broader War: Redefining our Strategy for Iraq

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 2 months ago

In Concerning the Failure of Counterinsurgency in Iraq, I argued that the counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy employed by the U.S. in Iraq has failed. I argued that this failure is not attributable to the warriors in the field, nor is it a detraction from the effort they have expended and the blood and limbs they have lost. Rather, it is due at least in part to the adoption of David Galula’s principles of COIN, coming mostly from the situation he faced in Algeria. To be sure, his book is serious study, and much wisdom can be gleaned from his theories. But the global war on terror is a “horse of a different color,” and requires its own theoretical framework.

While the list isn’t comprehensive, I cited seven reasons that the Iraq situation is not entirely conducive to application of the same COIN doctrine, and gave hints as to things that might be considered in the development of revised doctrine for the war. President Bush will soon announce his strategy for going forward in Iraq, and it seems prudent and timely to pull one thread in the tapestry of a revised strategy, perhaps the most important one. Without this thread, the rest of the fabric unravels.

Pointing to a border with Syria that has not been secured, I said that “The battlefield, both for military actions and so-called “nonkinetic

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Blogs of War » The President’s Plan for Iraq

[…] The media and politicians are focusing on these miniscule numbers (20,000 troops) as if additional troops alone will make a difference when we really need bold shifts in both strategy and rules of engagement. A quick scan of my email inbox reveals that few conservative bloggers, mostly supporters of this war, are optimistic that we’ll see those kinds of changes in the President’s plan. Herschel Smith: On a larger scale still, the Iraqi borders must be shut down. But on a macroscopic level, Syria and Iran must be dealt with, both as part of the Iraq war and also as subsets of the global war on terror and jihadism. If the deaths of more than three thousand sons and daughters of America are to mean anything, our strategy must outfit our troops to win. […]

Donald Sensing
Guest

An outstanding analysis! The administration has deliberately not admitted that our enemies comprise far more than the various insurgencies inside Iraq. No one in the Middle East, excepting Israel, wants us to succeed in Iraq, including putative allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

This is one more reason the “surge” won’t work; the most lethal insurgencies get foreign direct support that the Keane-Kagan tactics don’t really address.

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One Hand Clapping » Blog Archive » The gloomy months ahead

[…] See also Herschel Smith’s insights in “The Broader War: Redefining our Strategy for Iraq.” […]

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Kennedy: Bush’s Vietnam…

Yesterday, Sen. Ted Kennedy sought to undercut the President by offering his own sound byte: Iraq is Bush’s Vietnam. Not our Vietnam, as in we, the American people, but Bush’s. Life must be something when you can rationalize like that….

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War without Borders…

Dave N.
Guest
This posting presents several good points. Porous borders are something that bedevils Americans. The Iraq borders are open and causing us trouble. The reference to the Ho Chi Minh trail is apt. Another example might be the US failure to notice the Chinese Army crossing the Yalu during the Korean war. Although not a military event, the present porous border with Mexico is just another example that, as a national characteristic, we tend to neglect the importance of borders, compared to what might be more reasonable behavior on our part. But if we can recognize this flaw in our priorities, we can take steps to correct it. It’s good to point out the open Iraqi borders with Iran and Syria, even if it’s obvious and a known problem, because if we keep talking about it, it makes it harder for the leaders to continue to ignore it. The inverse of “don’t mention it, and maybe people won’t notice” is, if we people keep mentioning it, it’s harder for leadership to ignore. Regarding the “Jihad TV” satellite station (leasing a channel on an Egyptian-owned satellite), here’s another idea: Why isn’t the US military producing 10 or 20 TV channels worth of… Read more »
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World Roundup Blog Style…

Australia Australian jihadist “took orders from bin Laden”, Jihad Watch Iran What do Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and George W. Bush have in common? , TigerHawk Iranian President to Vist Latin American Socialists, New Zeal Impeachment proceedings finally begi…

Dominique R. Poirier
Member
My mind being much wrapped up in the reading of a long paper, I missed to read this recent article with all care it deserves. Actually, I have nothing but praise for this serious and documented analysis. Securing Iraq’s border seems to be a recurrent subject since some times and I still have in mind the difficulties one may have at successfully undertaking such task, as Col. David Galula meticulously describes it in his account of the costly techniques he experimented along the Algerian border during the Algerian War. It seems that progress and technology did little for our expectations to find such kind of works less costly since previous estimates relating to the cost of securing the Mexican border provides us a hint about the feasibility of this enterprise. Iraqi’s perimeter is 3,650 km long. This number includes an Irak-Iran border 1,458 km long, and 605 km for the Iraq-Syria border. The U.S. Mexican border is 3,141 km long, for comparison. According to estimates previously made about the cost of securing (fencing) the U.S.-Mexican border, and the Israel West Bank we may rely on a building cost of about $1.7 million per mile. So, in the case of Iraq,… Read more »
Herschel Smith
Guest
Dominique, I enjoy your comments. As usual, they are thought-provoking and well-done. On the issue of illegal immigration and the border with Mexico, it really is very easy to solve, logistically and strategically. The border is not secure and illegal immigration is a problem for one simple reason: the political will to end it does not exist in the U.S. at this time, and probably never will. If the U.S. enacted federal laws to put CEOs in prison (who were found to have hired illegals) for mandatory terms without the possibility of parole, no matter how large or small the company or corporation, and then actually did begin sending them to federal prison, the hiring of illegals would desist and there would be a flood back across the border. The incentive being removed, part of the problem would be solved. Next, rather than put Guardsmen on the border with no ammunition, send more of them to the border and give them orders to arrest those who violate our borders and shoot those who resist. Finally, construct a fence from California to Texas with electronic surveillance and regular Guardsmen/dog patrols. Again, the political will does not exist, because companies are benefiting… Read more »
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Sweet Home Nashville » Music in warfareThe Taliban Meet AC/DC (and lose)

[…] Read the whole thing. […]

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You are currently reading "The Broader War: Redefining our Strategy for Iraq", entry #441 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Iran,Iraq,Syria,War & Warfare and was published January 9th, 2007 by Herschel Smith.

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