I agree with what some experts say about this lull in violence being the result of militants keeping their heads down for a while. It is also possibly the result of the flight of the commanders of militant groups. Grunts left without planners, money or leaders wouldn’t want to do much on their own.
His first point is very valid. If, in fact, the insurgents are still in place with most of their leadership, this most likely is a lull. They will spend time observing the way the US and ISF are conducting the COIN ops and adjust their methods, tactics and strategy. What that would then see is a gradual resumption of the violence.
However, if his second point is true, then perhaps what they're beginning to see will remain true. Obviously everything is relative in terms of what constitutes peace, but in Baghdad a marked decrease in bomb blasts and gunfire is tantamount to peace and quiet.
Some quick points garnered from Fadhil's article:
During my tour in Baghdad today I had to pull over to be searched at several checkpoints — something that has rarely happened to me before. When you are searched soldiers or policemen check the identity cards of passengers, and the registration papers of the vehicle along with a thorough physical search. Checkpoints deal even more strictly with large vans and cargo trucks.
The interesting thing about new checkpoints is the constant shifting of their location. One hour the checkpoint would be here and two hours later it would relocate to another position within the area. I think this helps security forces avoid becoming targets instead of hunters.
In addition to soldiers and policemen, most checkpoints have one or more traffic policemen reportedly being equipped with laptops that enable them to flag suspected vehicles by offering instant access to vehicle-registration databases.
More check points, a disciplined and thought out method of checking and searching, shifting check points (to keep insurgents who might be targeting them from having the time necessary to plan such an attack) and technology to keep track of vehicles and identify possible threats among them.
Side by side with new security efforts is a campaign to clean and redecorate many streets, circles and parks in Baghdad. New trees are planted and damaged street medians and sidewalks are being refurbished. This offers a small yet much needed breeze of hope and normalcy to the traumatized city.
Psychologically these are extremely important touches. They are a return to normalcy. They proclaim ownership. They tell the population that those doing these repairs and other refurbishments are here to stay. Very important.
And reporting from a local newspaper:
The most significant and encouraging development is certainly this report from al-Sabah:
Brigadier Qasim Ata, an authorized Baghdad Operation spokesman, told al-Sabah that for the 3rd day in a row dozens of displaced families are returning to their homes. 35 families returned in Madain, 7 in hay al-I’ilam and small numbers of families in various districts of Baghdad.
Later reports in the local media indicate that the total number of families that returned home is as high as 130 families across the city, including several families in the, until recently, hopelessly violent district of Hay al-Adl.
The report adds that Maliki ordered that the Bab al-Muadam and al-Shuhada bridges on the Tigris be reopened to traffic next week. This decision came in response to the “notable increase in traffic activity which in turn is a result of the growing feeling of safety”.
Again, the media has been full of stories about the 2 million that have fled Iraq as well as the internal displacement of another 1.8 million. This, then, is indeed an important sign of progress brought on by "the growing feeling of safety".
Last point. This isn't an operation exclusive to only Baghdad:
As the effort continues in Baghdad, four other provinces are launching simultaneous plans to support operation ‘Imposing the Law’. Officials in the provinces of Diwaniya, Salahaddin, Wasit and Babil announced that the security forces are implementing a security plan to support and empower the ongoing operation in Baghdad, and to deal with the threat of possible infiltration by terrorists coming from Baghdad.
And of course that means the border with Iran, etc.
Hopeful signs, and yes, something to be happy about. But far, far to early to celebrate. But anyone who wishes for a safe and stable Iraq can't help but be at least encouraged by these developments.
>But anyone who wishes for a safe and stable Iraq can’t help but be at least encouraged by these developments.
Unless you know war. The surge idea is too little but not too late. What’s missing is the proper number of troops. The insurgents are laying low watching and learning.
It’s what I would do if confronting something that could be a new tactic of the enemy. (Problem is it isn’t all that new.)
But the advantages are all insurgents. They can hit anywhere any time they want. Idea isn’t to have a certain amount of fighting going on from day to day. Idea is to pick targets, then act on them after a great deal of planning.
If the surge were to work I’d want 10 times the troops for 10 years. The target would be the psychological mind of the insurgents. You have to plant the idea that any further fighting for today is useless, and any fighting to be done is going to be in the furture. You need to get the insurgents into "sleep mode", thinking that one day they can restart the fight again. However, once in sleep mode reality has a way of changing things enough that "sleep mode" turns into "quitting", and not wanting to restart the fight. This gives the government time to actually rebuild and show that it’s no longer important to take up the fight again. You have to "trick" the insurgents into stopping attacks. The problem for Iraq you are dealing with 4 wars, not one. The word "insurgents" doesn’t really describe what groups are fighting and WHY.
If you had the proper number of troops then you could cross your fingers and have hope.
Unfortunately, people are going to be let down again. So if you want to hope go ahead with a healthy dose of disappointment around the corner.
Viewing "the surge" as just a military operation is likely to be futile. The ultimate goal is to put together a functioning democracy and depart, right? So while it is going on, there ought also to be some sort of parallel soft action to capitalize on the military effort. Make hay while the sun shines.
What should be (or is being) done, though? Could the insurgents be wrong-footed by also extending an olive branch while their leaders have fled abroad? Or how about yanking off the anonymity of the mass of insurgents and crying out for peace while naming and shaming those against it? Other approaches?
Jimbo, dude you and others CONSISTENTLY make one mistaek, that this is the US’ war and the US must fight it...The "lacking" troops you are noting are IRAQI’S...so the surge is going to fail if you keep looking to the US to provide the bulk of them. The Iraqi’s field some 300,000-400,000 troops, of admittedly varying quality. So let’s try to move past the simpole numbers game...