Thursday, May 07, 2009

There's more to a Surge than boots

I finished up my work at Quantico's Gray Research Center at 1:30 yesterday afternoon, chock full of information and intuitions on how John Boyd would run a counter-insurgency campaign. What better time for a reality check? I have blogged before about the Great John-Gian Debate, between the COINinista John Nagl and the traditionalist Gian Gentile. Behold, on a website with the unlikely title of Antiwar.Com, I found the best explication yet of Colonel Gentile's argument. (That's Gentile above. I think he's pronounced gen-tee-lay.) Here's a sample:

'Aside from the sectarian cleansing in Baghdad — where the few remaining Sunnis now live walled off, and in tiny urban enclaves — Gentile zeros in on what he believes were the two critical events that made the real reduction in violence happen. First, Muqtada al Sadr’s decision to stand down his rebel forces in the summer of 2007. Second, the U.S Army’s decision to start paying off some 90,000 Sunni militiamen and former insurgents to turn against al Qaeda.'

All of which is certainly true, though I'm still a believer in the Surge, broadly defined. (I just don't think that what worked in Iraq will necessarily work in Afghanistan--see below. War sucks--get over it! What worked yesterday won't work today because the adversary is already changing his tactics if not his strategy.)

In any event, the article is a splendid reality check, and for gosh sakes it's supplied to us by a blonde with glasses and a know-it-all expression. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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