Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Putting the "Surge" in Insurgency

Here's the thing about insurgencies; the insurgents want to avoid, at all costs, meeting the occupiers on the field of battle. The term "asymmetric warfare" was created for just the kind of tactics our military is facing in Iraq. The insurgents cannot defeat us head-to-head and much like Vietnam it really doesn't matter. They don't need to.

So what do recent events in Iraq tell us about the incipient success or failure of Bush's surge?


If attacks are down it's because during this time of year, over the past 5 years the late winter and spring have always seen the number of attacks go down. There just isn't any way to judge whether the few additional troops already there are making a difference. It's too early.

If the attacks are bigger and more deadly, as they have been for the past week, it's only because the insurgents are carefully following the dictates of asymmetric warfare; hit fast, hit hard and then disappear. And with a few more soldiers in-country, now starting to relocate to more dispersed, less heavily fortified bases, the opportunities for mayhem are increased.

But don't count on BushCo. to discuss the finer points of counter-insurgency operations in public - most of them probably can't even spell it - as it doesn't fit well with their current spin cycle. And don't count on hearing about the vagaries of insurgency peaks and valleys or about the methods of asymmetric warfare in the media. It takes too long to spell out and there are no good sound-bites to be had from such a discussion. Finally, don't count on hearing much public discussion about any of these things in your local pub or grocery store. Most people you meet would think that COIN Ops refers to how they get their laundry done.

The lack of information from our government and our media and the general lack of knowledge about military operations in the citizenry means that BushCo. can spin events however they want. And only a very few will know that - as usual - they're lying through their teeth.

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