9 years, 4 months ago
In Payment to Concerned Citizens: Strategy of Genius or Shame?, I discussed payments to neighborhood watch police and “concerned citizens” in Anbar and elsewhere to help achieve community security:
First, this approach is effective. It was used in Fallujah (a variant of it), and use of this strategy has proven to reduce crime, violence, and increase local control over communities. Its expansion into Baghdad and surrounding areas has reduced the available terrain in which the insurgency can operate.
Second, this approach is anthropologically sound. A search of scholarly works pointing to the role of head of house as the income-earner and supporter of the family unit yields so many results that it is utterly impossible to digest it all … Giveaway programs and inability among men to support their families is dishonorable. More honorable, however, is the earning of income for services rendered.
Third and finally, it is the right thing to do. Men and women both are searching for a way to support and provide for their families in the wake of collapse of their civilization.
Regarding the first two points, we see the results of the expansion of this program into areas other than Anbar first hand from an officer who was recently deployed Southwest of Baghdad.
Army 1st Lt. Michael Kelvington has seen things change dramatically for the better in the town where he has served in Iraq for more than a year.
The 2001 Springfield High School and 2005 West Point graduate, serves with Company A, 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, in Jurf as Sakhr, a town southwest of Baghdad.
Today, Kelvington, 25, who spoke via telephone from Iraq and expects to leave Iraq later this fall, talks about how the town’s people have come to the aid of the Americans and have told al-Qaida warriors to stay away.
Q: What was going on in the town before you got there?
A: To make a long story short, and to sum up the last 12 months of the deployment, we had small-arms fire, mortar attacks, IEDs in the roads. Something happened pretty much every day. Along with us and the Iraqi Army guys, the people in the town were getting tired of it.
We got a new sheik. And basically, he came to us with this idea of civilians from the area manning checkpoints and basically arming themselves against al-Qaida in our area.
One of the big problems in our area is unemployment. Al-Qaida would recruit these guys to do things like place bombs in the roads and try to attack our patrol base and shoot at our towers. A few times we’ve had hand grenades come over the wall where we operate. They would pay them to make those attacks.
Those people had no alternative. It’s a poor agrarian area. They have mouths to feed. A lot of times that is what they would do for money.
Now, with this new program, they are getting paid to protect their own areas and secure their neighborhoods, almost like an armed neighborhood watch program.
Q: Is what’s happening in your town happening elsewhere in Iraq?
A: The idea originally started in Anbar province …
As I have stated before, the Anbar narrative is rich and involved counterinsurgency applied in one of the most difficult regions of the world, far more involved and complex than the story about a tribe or two “flipping” to support the U.S. The Anbar province represents three years of investment by U.S. forces (primarily Marines, but certainly supplemented by Army and National Guard), and its model is proving successful in other parts of Iraq. So what will happen to the Marines now that Anbar is relatively safe? We have covered the Commandant’s plans to redeploy Marines to Afghanistan in The Future of the Marines and Marines Take, Army Holds? The Commandant has taken some flak for his preliminary plans, but recently shot back a retort:
The proposal to remove Marines from Iraq and send them to Afghanistan is neither a power grab nor an attempt to get out of Iraq “while the getting is good,