4 years ago
The Small Wars Journal has a paper up entitled The Tribal Path – a Better Alternative? I think there are a whole host of problems with this paper, not the least of which is that I stop listening when someone implies that everyone else is wrong and they have the only true solution to our counterinsurgency ills, a sort of Gnostic insight that everyone else is lacking.
But this stunning statement appears in the paper: “Greater tribal cooperation and understanding would further allow the government to appeal to the Taliban nationalists, (the Afghans), whose only real concern and cause is a free and peaceful Afghanistan, without the presence of foreign troops.”
Uh huh. The rights of women is high on the Taliban’s list of things to work on, and hiding behind women and children so that they die instead of the Taliban certainly ensures the peace of Afghanistan. What a foolish statement. Then there is this: “Afghanistan is much more complicated than Iraq with many more tribes to study and understand.”
This is a tip of the hat to the Iraq narrative for idiots, you know, the one that goes like this. In 2003 – 2006 we were stepping on our crank, couldn’t do anything right, and were totally confused. Along came General Petraeus who implemented a brand new counterinsurgency strategy, and we suddenly reduced the kinetics, made friends with the tribal leaders, and Iraq became Shangri La.
Anbar was won due to a number of different things. Tribes were indeed important, but only in Ramadi. In Haditha policing and pacifying the population required sand berms to prevent the influx of fighters from Syria, along with a police strong man named Colonel Faruq. In Al Qaim it required a police strong man named Abu Ahmed aligning with the U.S. Marines, and heavy kinetics by the Marines. In Fallujah in 2007 it required heavy kinetics, biometrics, gated communities and concrete barriers, census taking and aggressive policing.
What was going on in Anbar happened as a result of Marines and many casualties. It was going on prior to General Petraeus’ arrival and continued after it. More than 1000 Marines perished in Iraq, many of them in the Anbar Province. Many tens of thousands more were wounded and maimed. I have read the names of many of them, and read the stories of their wives and parents.
Iraq wasn’t easy, and its success remains a testimony to the hard work, blood, sweat and tears of U.S. Servicemen. It’s offensive when I hear dumbed down narratives, but Marines Corps and Army parents can at least rest assured that some of us understand the truth.