"The other implication is that, to be perfectly honest, the pattern we are seeing runs somewhat counter to what we expected in the “surge”, and therefore lies well outside the “benchmarks”. The original concept was that we (the Coalition and the Iraqi government) would create security, which would in turn create space for a “grand bargain” at the national level. Instead, we are seeing the exact opposite: a series of local political deals has displaced extremists, resulting in a major improvement in security at the local level, and the national government is jumping on board with the program. Instead of coalition-led top-down reconciliation, this is Iraqi-led, bottom-up, based on civil society rather than national politics. And oddly enough, it seems to be working so far. This does not necessarily invalidate the “surge” strategy: we are indeed seeing improved security and political progress, but at the local not national level. This was not what we expected, and probably will cut little ice with domestic opponents of the strategy, but the improvement in daily lives of Iraqis and willingness to talk rather than fight is a substantial real-world improvement nonetheless.
As we all know, there is no such thing as a “standard” counterinsurgency. Indeed, the basic definition of counterinsurgency is “the full range of measures that a government and its partners take to defeat an insurgency”. In other words, the set of counterinsurgency measures adopted depends on the character of the insurgency: the nature of counterinsurgency is not fixed, but shifting; it evolves in response to changes in the form of insurgency. This means that there is no standard set of metrics, benchmarks or operational techniques that apply to all insurgencies, or remain valid for any single insurgency throughout its life-cycle. And there are no fixed “laws” of counterinsurgency, except for the sole simple but difficult requirement to first understand the environment, then diagnose the problem, in detail and in its own terms, then build a tailored set of situation-specific techniques to deal with it.
With that in mind, it is clear that although the requirements for counterinsurgency in a tribal environment may not be written down in the classical-era field manuals, building local allies and forging partnerships and trusted networks with at-risk communities seems to be one of the keys to success – perhaps this is what T.E. Lawrence had in mind when he wrote that the art of guerrilla warfare with Arab tribes rests on “building a ladder of tribes to the objective”. Many excellent recent posts and discussions here at the Small Wars Journal have explored these issues. Marine and Army units that have sought to understand tribal behavior in its own terms, to follow norms of proper behavior as expected by tribal communities, and to build their own confederations of local partners, have done extremely well in this fight. But we should remember that this uprising against extremism belongs to the Iraqi people, not to us – it was their idea, they started it, they are leading it, it is happening on their terms and on their timeline, and our job is to support where needed, ensure proper political safeguards and human rights standards are in place, but ultimately to realize that this will play out in ways that may be good or bad, but are fundamentally unpredictable. So far so good, though…." Kilcullen in SWJ
You have to admire a man who can say that WE did not foresee this development "but, this is a good thing."
This all seem very familiar to me, but I will let that go for now except to say that there are more forces at work in Arabia than those under the commander guy’s control.
Kilcullen points to the fact that this movement is building a new, possibly more stable balance of forces among the communities.
The Jacobins must be "turning and burning" over this frustration to their ambitions.
Unfortunately, the "kinetic" generals and the "flatheads" are interpreting this as they will while just plain Dick and the decider guy seem to have other plans only tangentially related to /Iraq’s welfare. pl