Friday, March 16, 2007
BAGHDAD -- From the Philippines to Vietnam, a question commanders faced every time they bolstered their forces: If the war is going as well as you say, why do you need reinforcements? And if it's not going so well -- despite what you've said -- why should we believe that more troops are the answer? A suspicion of mine throughout Donald Rumsfeld's tenure at the Pentagon was that his reluctance to add forces had something to do with avoiding this schematic, very familiar to him as Gerald Ford's defense secretary. Now with the surge, the dynamic is likely to gear right up.

Yesterday, for instance, we had a teleconference with Colonel David Sutherland of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based in Diyala province, and Lieutenant General Shakir Halail Husain of the Iraqi Army's 5th Division. Sutherland and Shakir are experiencing an increase in attacks "that replicate those normally seen in Baghdad," the colonel said. While sectarian violence is down since July in this mixed province by 70 percent (measured by the number of murders and kidnappings), indirect and direct fire attacks, suicide bombings, suicide car bombings and complex attacks (more than one method of assault) have risen significantly since the New Baghdad Security Plan was put into place.

Basically, it's the belief of Sutherland and Shakir that Sunni insurgents have moved out of Baghdad and into Diyala. So Sutherland requested his own mini-surge: a battalion from the 5th Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division. "Make no mistake," he said, "we will establish security in Diyala."

But that raises the question: if Sutherland succeeds in Diyala, where will the insurgents go next? He conceded that "the movement of terrorists and insurgents around the country is an effect we may have as a result" of securing Diyala, but as a brigade commander in Baquba, "inside Diyala is what I'm concerned about here." It's perfectly understandable from Sutherland's perspective. But get ready to hear the same contention from more and more commanders.
--Spencer Ackerman
I spent many years in Vietnam between 1965 and 1975. For the first four I was under contract to the US Defense Department.
One of the major reasons for the US defeat was a mental incapacity in Washington to define the motivation of the enemy. Also probably to overrate the threat imposed on the world.It was a very unnecessary war. I do not regret my own participation though. In Iraq I see an incomprehension of who the enemy is. Washington again interprets events to meet their own goals. Sadam was bad news for his own people, he wasn't a good neighbour, his death is no loss to the world. I wonder what the tens of thousands of Iraqi dead since the war began think. We seem to have a reverse of the body count here. Oh, I'm sorry. Collateral damage is (or are) not people. As a Briton I am more than lost at Blair's attitude.
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