January 2, 2008:
Over a year ago, a new
plan was announced for improving security in Iraq. The plan was simply to increase U.S. presence
in the country by 30,000 personnel with a three-fold contribution by Iraqi
forces. Other Coalition nations provided
additional personnel for the plan. The
center of this plan would be Iraq's center of gravity, Baghdad, which is the
political center and largest city in the country. The sectarian "fault line" runs throughout
out the city.
Now, over a year later, the Surge plan
has been successful. Violence is down 60
percent nationwide. Al Qaeda in Iraq
(AQI) has been expelled from Baghdad and Anbar Province and is currently on the
run. Iraqi Ministry of the Interior
(Waziriat al Dakhaliyah) has recently stated that AQI is 75 percent
destroyed. Both the reduction in
violence levels and AQI losses can be reinforced through Open Source
Critics insisted that the plan would
fail. They declared that U.S. forces in
Iraq were already ineffective because the situation was beyond repair. The increase of U.S. forces would be seen as
more as "occupiers" and would "create more insurgents". Critics also insisted that the Surge would
destroy the already strained US military.
Predictions by critics were a bust.
The question then becomes, "Why did the
Surge work?" There are numerous factors
that contributed to the success of Gen. Petreaus' Surge plan. The quick and simple answer is that it was
the right plan at the right time. The
new 2006 Counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine was a key piece to the success of
the Surge. The COIN doctrine showed a
well-developed understanding of the causes of insurgencies, their make-up, and
the best method for defeating them. The
plan used an effective "clear, hold, build" tactic for improving local
conditions. The net result of this has
been reconciliation through most of the country.
Another contributing factor was that
Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) were ready.
The majority of the Iraqi military is under the control of Iraqi elected
leadership and is nearly fully manned and equipped. With additional forces in the area, it was
possible to remove corrupt elements from the Iraqi Police in Baghdad. Without the three-fold contribution of ISF,
cleared areas would have again fallen back into instability.
The people of Iraq were significant
factor in stabilizing Iraq. They had
become tired of both Al Qaeda and Jaysh al Mahdi (JAM) and the violence that
came with both of them. The Iraqi people
developed trust in security forces and began providing tips. The tips then led to the discovery of caches
and arrests of insurgents. Again, without
the support of the Iraqi people, the plan would have failed.
Iraq is also a democratic nation. The local citizens turned out in 2005 to
elect their government with 80 percent voter turnout. This makes the government in Baghdad more
accountable. The citizens expected and
will continue to expect results from their leaders.
AQI had also seriously blundered in
Iraq. In areas they controlled, they
imposed their strict version of Islamic law.
Within months, the local populations turned against them. These locals, and the support of Coalition
Forces, gave rise to the Awakening (Sahawa) Movements and Concerned Local
Citizens programs. AQI had gone so far
as to help create their own undoing.
With the failure of al Qaeda and
increasing stability, steps toward reconciliation continued. The two largest insurgent groups, the 1920
Revolutionary Brigades and Jaysh al Mahdi (JAM), ceased their attacks on
security forces and began working toward stabilizing the country. Before reconciliation, the 1920 Revolutionary
Brigade was in discussions with the Iraqi government. The assassination of a key leader by AQI
resulted in the group turning on and attacking AQI. During the Battle of Baqoubah, the first initial
cooperation between 1920 and Coalition Forces exploded into full-scale reconciliation
and the creation of Fursan al Rifadayn (FAR- Knights between the Two
Rivers). JAM also reconciled after it
came under severe criticism for fighting in Karbala. By August, Muqtada al Sadr called for a
ceasefire and has continued to call for longer extensions and increased
As stability increases and violence
drops, U.S. forces are returning victorious.
They have tamed the streets of Baghdad and Anbar, put AQI on the run,
and reconciled the largest insurgent groups.
Lessons learned from the Surge include having a well-developed and
evaluated plan, a understanding of the battlespace, and political trust in
military leadership. As violence
continues in Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Palestine, and elsewhere, allies
and other key players worldwide should adopt this doctrine to defeat the global
Islamist movement. -- Jonathan Henry firstname.lastname@example.org