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The "Surge"
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, June 30, 2007

Apparently there are some out there who are still clueless as to what the "Surge" is all about, believing that since it was announced as starting in January, it must be a failure since we're in June and things are still blowing up. That would include such luminaries as Professor Juan Cole, Senator Richard Lugar, the entire Democratic leadership and our own commenter Retief.

So for their benefit, I quote Dr. David J Kilcullen who is the Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to the Commanding General Multi-National Force - Iraq.
Ten days ago, speaking with Austin Bay, I made the following comment: "I know some people in the media are already starting to sort of write off the "surge" and say 'Hey, hang on: we've been going since January, we haven't seen a massive turnaround; it mustn't be working'. What we've been doing to date is putting forces into position. We haven't actually started what I would call the "surge" yet. All we've been doing is building up forces and trying to secure the population. And what I would say to people who say that it's already failed is "watch this space".

Because you're going to see, in fairly short order, some changes in the way we're operating that will make what's been happening over the past few months look like what it is-just a preliminary build up."

The meaning of that comment should be clear by now to anyone tracking what is happening in Iraq. On June 15th we kicked off a major series of division-sized operations in Baghdad and the surrounding provinces. As General Odierno said, we have finished the build-up phase and are now beginning the actual "surge of operations". I have often said that we need to give this time. That is still true. But this is the end of the beginning: we are now starting to put things onto a viable long-term footing.
To make it even more understandable: phase I was "surge the troops" (which inevitably has a dampening effect on the level of terrorism), phase II, the phase we are presently in, the surge of operations (clearing). The phases which follow will deal with holding, building and training after the clearing portion of phase II is complete.

Understanding that will likely help you not put out foolish articles and polls like the one here entitled "The Verdict on the Surge".
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Previous Comments to this Post 

The surge is an effort to reduce the strength of the insurgency in order to allow a shift in 2008 to a smaller American force (one viable politically even beyond the election) supporting an improved Iraqi security force to continue counter-insurgency efforts. Militarily, it must achieve the result of creating a much weaker insurgency by sometime in early 2008. Optimally this would be done by: a) allowing reconciliation amongst Sunni and Shi’ite groups, including those previously part of the insurgency; and b) attacking and weakening groups unlikely to engage in reconciliation, most notably al qaeda or religious extremist movements.

One problem militarily is if al qaeda leaders are able to slip away and shift positions, and at the same time continue recruitment and maintain a reserve of operatives (either Iraqis or foreign fighters), they will still be "on the scene" and able to create problems next year. So large elements of al qaeda man power and leadership must be eliminated, not just moved from one town to another.

But the biggest problem for surge success is Iraqi: will there be progress towards reconciliation? Will the Iraqi security forces improve enough to take on a much larger part of the counter-insurgency burden.

So I’d say look for this: 1) is al qaeda being fundamentally weakened, or just shifting location; 2) are Sunnis and Shi’ite militias and sectarian groups moving towards reconciliation, or do they remain violently opposed to each other; 3) is the Iraqi security force (both army and police forces) up to taking on a fundamentally larger role in counter insurgency within a year; and 4) is the Iraqi government more stable and effective in running the country. Success of some sort, even if partial, in those four parameters would be a good sign. Failure would be a very bad sign.

My question: do both proponents and opponents of the military action in Iraq agree that these parameters are fundamental? If not, what should be changed, added, or deleted?
Written By: Scott Erb
PS - I think that the reason Lugar and others think it has failed is that insurgencies have a long time frame, the US seems down to a political time frame of a year or so. The US strategy is relatively transparent, the insurgents are able to adapt and change tactics without much warning. If one thinks these two factors dooms the "surge," one could consider it a failure. That, of course, is a judgment call.
Written By: Scott Erb
You did number them. How thoughtful of you. So Surge Phase I succeeded during February through April in dampening violence, except when it didn’t. And now Surge Phase II (the one that started last week) is, of course, succeeding in chasing AQI out of their strongholds in the Baghdad Belt, among other foes. Fantastic. How many phases are we going to have before the phase that degrades our enemies’ capacity to attack us and the other Iraqi factions? Degrades it to the point that Iraqi forces can keep the government in power? Also, given the past four years of failure and the urgency of the mission, isn’t waiting six months to launch Phase II a little bit crazy?

You are quite right to note that it is obvious that we have been building up forces and trying to secure the population, and are now launching another offensive effort that Dr. Kilcullen calls the "Surge of Operations" and that you label Phase II. It should be equally obvious that if you tell us for months that "the Surge is working" and then come up with "the Surge just started last week" you’re going to get called on that. (Yes, even if you do include the its early days yet caveat.) It is not my fault that you jumped the gun and kept reporting every hopeful sign during the months long "preliminary build up" as "the Surge" working. Clearly six months of building up forces and trying to secure the population has not, in fact, secured the population. In spite of the the increased patrols, new emphasis on getting out of the FOBs and into the COPs, and the new troops, additional offensive operations are now required. Calling whatever we are doing this week the real surge is just silly.
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
The Surge will fail, just like the last 2 surges failed. We don’t have enough troops and the Iraqis don’t even have enough ammunition!

Jun 24, 4:56 PM (ET)

BAQOUBA, Iraq (AP) - The U.S. commander of a new offensive north of Baghdad, reclaiming insurgent territory day by day, said Sunday his Iraqi partners may be too weak to hold onto the gains.

The Iraqi military does not even have enough ammunition, said Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek
Written By: Steve J.
You did number them. How thoughtful of you. So Surge Phase I succeeded during February through April in dampening violence, except when it didn’t.
But it did if you’ll actually take the time to find the numbers.

Retief ... you need to quit this. You really are looking rather foolish as you persist.

Otherwise you’ll look like this:
The Surge will fail, just like the last 2 surges failed.
Which two "surges" are those Steve?
Written By: McQ
I found the linked Teixeira article to have been shocking in its willingness to define leadership as nothing more than following the polls, even public opinion is wrong.

That kind of implicit concession is an example of why the leftists are so dangerous to our American culture.
Written By: The Real Sporer
McQ, you handed them a clue with a handle they could clutch onto and they still don’t get it.

There has only been one surge, and the surge of operations associated with it just started a week ago. If you are talking about the surge in forces, yes it succeeded, they all arrived in Iraq intact. If you are talking about the Baghdad security plan then it is ongoing as they need to clear the area outside the city, which they are doing quite effectively. But violence is down to around 50-60% (Depending on what type and how you count) of the level prior to the Baghdad security plan.

In regards to ammo, ok, there are shortages. I’ll bet my bottom dollar the shortfalls get rectified.
Written By: civdiv
URL: http://
I think the biggest difficulty will happen if the Iraqi army is not expanded enough to hold the areas we are "taking" in the surge. Anyone know anything on how that is progressing?

Also, according to Erb’s first comment, I’d say AQ is really helping us out here - they bomb Shias and behead Sunnis. Common enemies often help people unite...
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Harun: I’m becoming more confident that the extremists are fighting a losing cause. Their own fanatacism and extremism lead them to self-defeating actions. That isn’t enough to assure their defeat, but as gruesome as their acts are, the silver lining is that they are not likely to win over the masses with such displays. I’m cautiously optimistic that a reconciliation is possible between Sunni and Shi’ite. So far I think our presence in Iraq has made that less likely, though recent tactics have been better — I just hope that American forces (military and civilian) in Iraq are truly starting to understand the culture. That’s fundamental.
Written By: Scott Erb
BTW, I like how google chooses advertisers based on the subject: surge suppressors, surge devices...let’s hope al qaeda doesn’t order any of those surge suppressors!
Written By: Scott Erb
I’ll look foolish?!?
You did number them. How thoughtful of you. So Surge Phase I succeeded during February through April in dampening violence, except when it didn’t.
But it did if you’ll actually take the time to find the numbers.
When it didn’t. Of course it did, sometimes, somewhat. Not enough, obviously, thus the current operations.

To return to a question you ignore, can something which takes six months to build itself up to the point where it can really start be legitimately called a Surge? Isn’t that more of a trickle? Maybe a seepage?

McQ in February: The surge is working!
McQ in March: The surge is working!
McQ in April: The surge is working!
Dale & McQ in June: The surge really just started last week, but its totally working.

Your ongoing explanations of the above don’t make me look foolish. Especially not as these past six months of the Surge working come on the heels of a year of you telling us that the previous Three Phase Plan was also totally working.
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
McQ: No matter how you try and make a comment or a plan idiot proof, idiots are just too persistent. Example: Retief. It is obvious he is an idiot but what other problems may he have?

You gave him a clue with the phases clearly laid out.
Phase I was "surge the troops" (which inevitably has a dampening effect on the level of terrorism), phase II, the phase we are presently in, the surge of operations (clearing). The phases which follow will deal with holding, building and training after the clearing portion of phase II is complete.
Seems pretty straight forward to me. Surge, Clear, Hold, Build & Train. We surged - got the troops into theather. We are now Clearing - one of a series of operations meant to deny the Insurgency any safe havens, killing them if possible.

So far, we surged - yep, we got the troops in place. Any failure there - No.
We are clearing - yep, we are in the middle of that phase. Any failure there - not yet.
The following phases are soon to start sliding into view. Failure? Haven’t gotten there yet.

Yep - plain as day - Retief is an idiot!
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Headline, July 2, 1944;

Defeat in Europe! Allied Buildup Fails!

It is clear now that the two year long buildup of American forces in the UK has failed. Increased violence and civilan casualties in France show that, despite claims of progress from Washington, we are losing the war. The much touted preparatory air offensive against Nazi forces in France, part of the massive buildup, has not succeeded in neutralizing Axis resistance. Experts say the only feasible course left is negotiation. Over two long years of blood and treasure have not brought the promised victory, and this latest offensive has failed, bogged down in the mire of the Normandy countryside. Why should we sacrifice for a people who won’t fight for themselves. Yes, there is some resistance to the enemy on the continent, but most of the population seems quiet enough, and violence has declined since the summer of 1940. Blah blah blah...
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
SShiell, I am rubber; you are glue. What you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

timactual, Nice analogy. COIN in Iraq is just like fighting the Wehrmacht across France. But haven’t you missed something key? Following your analogy of the the Invasion of Iraq and D-Day, shouldn’t your dateline read July 2, 1948?
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
SShiell, I am rubber; you are glue. What you say bounces off me and sticks to you.
I was wrong. Retief, you are not an idiot. You are an 8th grader who has snuck into your father’s home office and is secretly using his computer. Boy, you better not get caught or your Daddy is gonna spank you!
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
"COIN in Iraq is just like fighting the Wehrmacht across France"

If you say so. But maybe you missed the significance of the word ’buildup’. I guess I should have used ’surge’ instead, but I think that word is being used in a rather erroneous and undefined manner. Then again, you would no doubt still have missed the point.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

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