“Surge” is an old military term. It describes a rapid redeployment of forces. A surge is about logistics, not strategy.
Pelosi declared that the “surge” strategy failed. I want to take a close look at how utterly ignorant this statement is. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita said that as politicians approach a critical moment, their rhetoric becomes ever more vague. They cannot commit to anything specific, because this forces them to explain the undesirable consequences of specific alternatives. As such, it’s best to vaguely protest curent actions and appeal to emotion instead of offering specific alternatives. This is the crux of irrationality.
Congress approved of Gen. Petraeus’s appointment and his strategy without a single nay vote. Then Congress funded the COIN strategy. Yet Congressmen politicize Gen Petraeus’ explanation of how he is executing the Congressional mandate.
This is exactly what Grim talked about in Clausewitz and the Triangle.
The irrational aspects are out of balance because few Americans have the background to evaluate war in a rational way. The military science is absent from teaching at the high-school level, and taught to only a minority of college students. Americans in general do not know what to do with the information they get from the media, and so they are especially vunerable to fear, anger, anguish, and worry — the irrational aspects.
Keep that in mind and read how Pelosi responded to Petraeus:
“Last November, the American people voted for a New Direction in Iraq, but the President chose instead to escalate the war by reverting to a ‘surge’ strategy that had failed four times before.
I’ve been following the entire global insurgency very closely, and I’m not sure what strategy Pelosi thinks has been implemented five times in a row.
1) A surge is not a strategy
2) The Counterinsurgency Strategy implemented in mid-June 2007 has never been attempted before in Iraq.
Pelosi reveals an extreme ignorance of military operations in general. This is the false foundation for her following arguments.
If you want to be serious, you have to describe the alternatives clearly and specifically.
First identify the enemies Center of Gravity. If you do not know where that is, very well, look harder. If you do not know *what* that is, please do not pretend you have an alternative.
The Center of Gravity in Iraq (and most theaters) is the tribes. All other action occurs at the margins and has little importance. So, let me ask this, what is Nancy Pelosi’s tribal strategy?
The President promised the American people that this surge would be a short-term effort to provide space for political reform and national reconciliation in Iraq. Today, despite overwhelming evidence that neither goal has been achieved, General Petraeus testified that the surge would last at least until next summer.
For starters, Congress authorized and funded the “surge” at least until next summer. This should not be unexpected.
Gen. Petraeus and many others constantly say “10 years” – that’s the average duration of small wars. We are most definitely not being deceptive about the length of engagement.
The Schwerpunkt of the COIN strategy is the tribes. The goal is to separate the tribes from the insurgency and help sponsor the widespread tribal uprising in Iraq. This happened faster and more broadly than anyone expected. If Pelosi has evidence that this has failed, she should present it in detail.
I disagree with the view that Iraq is a “nation.” It’s a collection of tribes and should be viewed as such.
It is time to change the mission of our troops to one that will promote regional stability and combat terrorism
So far as I can tell she demands to return to the failed 2006 strategy to get many more Americans killed through a futile strategy. And I’m sure she doesn’t even realize that’s exactly what she is saying.
Let me try and translate politician-speak to something sensible. I believe she is arguing in favor of an enemy-centric strategy, as opposed to the COIN population-centric strategy … yet she calls for population-centric stability operations. So she simultaneously wants to abandon the civilian population to insurgents, ignore the tribes, and insert American troops to provide “stability”
Just to clarify, the issue in Iraq is insurgency, not terrorism. Terrorism is a tangential propaganda strategy and should be treated as such. It doesn’t affect the center of gravity.
I’ve spent countless posts describing in detail why enemy-centric strategies cannot work. How about first understanding the Insurgent Ecology and its role in COIN? The war is a competition for control over the population. As you secure the population, you weaken the insurgency, and can then begin economic reconstruction and political stability operations. It is not an armed struggle between combatants.
Finally, and importantly, Pelosi quantifies nothing in her statement. Pelosi’s statement is completely lacking in specifics, ignorant of current operations, and loaded with emotional hysterial. This is not the way to implement rational, evidence-based, policies.
How many troops she wants to remain in Iraq? What alternative strategy does she propose? When and how should the withdrawals proceed?
Actually, we sorta know the answer to this. Pelosi and the Congressional Democrats refuse to answer these questions because they have no specific alternative. The speak in vague platitudes to the American public then continue funding whatever the Pentagon tells them (which they do not understand anyway).
I’ve basically dedicated this entire blog to explaining key concepts of modern Counterinsurgency and Military Science. I’ve barely scratched the surface and realize how little I have yet to learn. I don’t expect everyone to know it in extreme depth. Many officers and veterans, like LTC Kilcullen, LTC Nagl, bloggers like Grim Beorn at BlackFive and others have tried to explain what the strategy is. I guess some simply do not want to understand. The Information is out there for anyone who cares.