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From Galula, to Anbar and the Surge
Posted by: Lance on Friday, July 25, 2008

In the ongoing discussion of who has done a better job of describing the time line around the surge, I certainly recommend McQ's discussion.

The Minuteman however has a couple of key points to make on this issue as well:
But if McCain has the timing wrong, what about Obama? How could the US have failed to anticipate a Sunni uprising that was already occuring?

In fact, President Bush cited the Anbar uprising in his Jan 2007 speech announcing the surge:

As we make these changes, we will continue to pursue al Qaeda and foreign fighters. Al Qaeda is still active in Iraq. Its home base is Anbar Province. Al Qaeda has helped make Anbar the most violent area of Iraq outside the capital. A captured al Qaeda document describes the terrorists' plan to infiltrate and seize control of the province. This would bring al Qaeda closer to its goals of taking down Iraq's democracy, building a radical Islamic empire, and launching new attacks on the United States at home and abroad.

Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing al Qaeda leaders, and they are protecting the local population. Recently, local tribal leaders have begun to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda. And as a result, our commanders believe we have an opportunity to deal a serious blow to the terrorists. So I have given orders to increase American forces in Anbar Province by 4,000 troops. These troops will work with Iraqi and tribal forces to keep up the pressure on the terrorists. America's men and women in uniform took away al Qaeda's safe haven in Afghanistan — and we will not allow them to re-establish it in Iraq.
Of course that is correct, and as I have been arguing long before this dustup (in fact I had many posts pointing this out over a year ago) the only reason many people didn't "anticipate" the awakening is because they were busy denying it was even happening in Anbar up until the Fall of 2007.

Some of us were discussing it in late 2006, and linking it to the surge before the surge officially began (As a side note, I am fond of that post, because it treated me to the odd sensation of having a post used as the basis for a segment on David Galula by Rush Limbaugh. Strange bedfellows.)

This revisionism is tiresome. The campaign in Anbar was a precursor to what was done on a larger scale once the surge was put in place. As the post of mine points out, what happened in Anbar was exactly the kind of thing that COIN is designed to achieve. It is true (and because David Kilcullen and others admitted it, it is used in a misleading manner) they didn't foresee the awakening in its specifics.

That is the point though, to create an environment in which things such as the Awakening can occur. Galula's laws, and modern COIN theory, make that clear. The particulars are always unpredictable, the outcome however has been proven to be more so. My post wasn't prescient (in fact I end it discouraged in the belief that the effort would be ended before it could prove its effectiveness) just seeing clearly what was being attempted. If you didn't see it then, no wonder the connection eludes you now.

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Previous Comments to this Post 

You know when they decided to use the atomic bomb during World War II, they first tested one out in the deserts of New Mexico.

Petraeus didn’t have the plan for the "surge" jump forth from his head, like Athena sprang from the head of Zeus. The results of these early attempts in Anbar, call them "surge-lite", were the basis for the entire plan of the "surge."
Written By: Neo
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