Monday, June 04, 2007

The Surge - "Short of Goals" so far

Via the NYT - Commanders Say Push in Baghdad Is Short of Goal
Three months after the start of the Baghdad security plan that has added thousands of American and Iraqi troops to the capital, they control fewer than one-third of the city’s neighborhoods, far short of the initial goal for the operation, according to some commanders and an internal military assessment.

[. . .]

The assessment offers the first comprehensive look at the progress of the effort to stabilize Baghdad with the heavy influx of additional troops. The last remaining American units in the troop increase are just now arriving.
It is no secret that I was never in favor of The Surge and it is no real surprise that it is not working out exactly as planned. It is important to remember that the military can only do so much, and is only designed to do so much. Once the military "secures" an area, it is the responsibility of the local police to maintain order. If they cannot, or will not, the military is all but wasting its time.

There in seems to lie the problem.
In an interview, he [Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks] said that while military planners had expected to make greater gains by now, that has not been possible in large part because Iraqi police and army units, which were expected to handle basic security tasks, like manning checkpoints and conducting patrols, have not provided all the forces promised, and in some cases have performed poorly.

That is forcing American commanders to conduct operations to remove insurgents from some areas multiple times. The heavily Shiite security forces have also repeatedly failed to intervene in some areas when fighters, who fled or laid low when the American troops arrived, resumed sectarian killings.

“Until you have the ability to have a presence on the street by people who are seen as honest and who are not letting things come back in,” said General Brooks, referring to the Iraqi police units, “you can’t shift into another area and expect that place to stay the way it was.”
The problem is, the administration should have known that this would be the case. Yes, it is true that to a very large degree we caused the current problems in Iraq by invading the country and disrupting the existing power structure. Because of that, we retain a great deal of responsibility in returning the area to some modicum of order before we leave it. But it is difficult to force order on an area that is not willing to do what it takes to maintain it. It is not even clear that those in charge desire the type of order that we want to instill.

At some point one has to reach the realization that it is simply wasteful to continue to throw good money after bad.

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