Iraq War Ain't by the Book

There was a disconnect, when the Army first released its interim manual for fighting insurgencies, two years ago. The book said to stay off of big bases, and to emphasize "secrecy and surprise." American operations often went in the completely opposite direction.gi_stairs.jpgThe field manual has now been finalized. But, as the L.A. Times notes, many of those gaps between theory and practice remain.

The U.S. military's new counterinsurgency doctrine takes issue with some key strategies that American commanders in Iraq continue to use, most notably the practice of concentrating combat forces in massive bases rather than dispersing them among the population...The authors of the manual say the new doctrine is not meant as a critique of the Iraq strategy... [They] rather were saying they simply did not want people to hole up and become "fobbits.""You put a protect force in that lives in the neighborhood. They stay 24/7 to protect the people," Keane said at a briefing this week. "That piece is what we have never been able to execute in Baghdad..."The new doctrine, which was begun in January and released in draft form in June, cautions that campaigns against insurgents are "often long and difficult" and that progress is hard to measure. Conventional militaries often stumble in the beginning of an insurgency but can succeed if they learn, adapt and push ahead against it, according to the manual."The military forces that successfully defeat insurgencies are usually those able to overcome their institutional inclination to wage conventional war against insurgents," the doctrine says...Overall, the doctrine says, a counterinsurgency operation is "a struggle for the population's support." To win that confidence, militaries must learn about the culture and people they are trying to protect as well as fight the insurgents who are attempting to destabilize the country, it says..."I do not know how they will translate this to the field," [one author] said. "But I do think this will be No. 1 on the reading list."
By the way, I'm in the middle of going through the new field manual. It's fascinating -- and an easy read, not at all jargon-filled. I'd encourage everyone to check it out for themselves.UPDATE 7:20 PM: Eason Jordan's new IraqSlogger site is trying to launch with a little controversy, by questioning why this new manual was posted on public sites -- and highlighting online Jihadists' reactions. "How would a U.S. soldier... feel knowing the hot-off-the-presses counterinsurgency manual is available to the 'bad guys' at the same time it is available to the 'good guys?'" the site asks.
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