Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Surge Part II

General Petraeus sure isn't sitting in his easy chair in Iraq, that's for sure. After getting an additional 31,000 troops into the country and radically changing how we are fighting the bad guys in Iraq, the second part of his strategy has begun outside of Baghdad. Instead of having big bases and trying to lure the enemy into set piece battles, Petraeus has made the soldiers and their Iraqi counterparts a daily part of Iraqi life in both the capital and Anbar province, where according to recent reports, (h/t Burkean Reflections) the situation has gone from dire to promising and that's before the 31,000 troops had all arrived.

Now the General hopes to catch or kill as many of our enemies as possible in this new offensive by plugging as many of their escape routes as possible by driving them into the flanking troops who are cutting off their retreat. The other change is the lack of publicity this offensive was given ahead of time. Strategic surprise is difficult to achieve considering you're talking about 10,000 troops, but tactical surprise is another thing entirely. Hopefully tactical surprise was achieved and we were able to catch them with their pants down. (that depends on the quality of the Intel we get, and the indications are that our Intel has been getting better and better since the new strategy was implemented) Every time we have a firefight with the enemy they get crushed at a ratio of 60:1. That means for every coalition soldier that loses their life in the line of duty we kill 60 terrorists. To give you an example of how overwhelming this is, during the Korean war we had a kill ratio of 12:1 in the air which many consider to be total domination. We're talking 5 times that kill ratio in Iraq, talk about taking your enemy to the woodshed!

If this move succeeds and we can make headway on the policital front then things are indeed looking brighter in Iraq and the matter of the troops coming home will become 'when' and not 'if'.
I say this because there has to be a political element to this as well, a purely military solution is impossible and the Iraqis need to do more of the heavy lifting so that we can go from doing most of the fighting to supporting the Iraqis while they take care of their own country, much like we did in S. Vietnam from 68-73.