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Iraq and Strategic Lessons for Counterinsurgency
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The Iraq War and its Strategic Lessons for Counterinsurgency
Here's the condensed version of his conclusions from the end of the paper:
Quote:o Warfighters must focus relentlessly on the desired outcome of the war and not simply the battle or overall military situation
In strategic and grand strategic terms, it doesn’t matter how well the war went last month; it doesn’t matter how the US is doing tactically. The real question warfighters must ask is whether the US is actually moving toward a strategic outcome that serves the ultimate interests of the US?

o Warfighters need to understand, as Gen. Rupert Smith has pointed out, Iraq has shown that enemies will make every effort to try win counterinsurgency conflicts by finding ways to operate below or above the threshold of conventional military superiority
It is stupid, as some in the US military have done, to call Iraqi insurgents cowards or terrorists because they will not fight on our terms. The same remarkably stupid attitudes appeared in 19th century colonial wars and often cost those foolish enough to have them the battle.

o Warfighters and their political leaders need to acknowledge that enemies can fight above the threshold of US conventional ability, not just beneath it
The character of America's political system, culture, and values are not the answer to winning the political and ideological dimension of many counterinsurgency campaigns. There is no reason Americans should think it can win an ideological struggle over the future of Islam and/or the Arab world. Our Muslim and Arab allies, in contrast, may well be able to win this struggle, particular if the US works with them and not against them.

o The US does need to improve our counterinsurgency technology, but cannot win with “toys”
Technology is a tool and not a solution. Israeli technology failed in Lebanon as US technology did in Vietnam, and like Israel, the US can use technical means to defeat many IEDs, but not enough. Moreover, it is possible that the total cost of every insurgent IED to date is still lower than that cost of one AH-1S that went down over Iraq.

o The best “force multiplier” will be effective allies, and interoperability with a true partner
If it is true that the US can win most counterinsurgency campaigns if it creates strong allies, the US must act decisively on this principle. US victories will often only be a means to this end. The real victories come when the US has allied troops that can operate against insurgents in the field, and a friendly government to carry out nation building and civil action activities at the same time. The US really begins to win when it can find ways to match the military, political, economic, and governance dimension.

o Political legitimacy in counterinsurgency is measured in local terms and not in terms of American ideology
Effective warfighting means the US must recognize something about regional allies that goes against its present emphasis on “democracy.” In most of the world, “legitimacy” has little to do with governments being elected, and a great deal to do with governments being popular.

o The US needs to have a functional interagency process and partner our military with effective civilian counterparts
The Bush Administration began by going through an interagency process before the war, but largely chose to ignore it after January of 2003. This is the wrong approach. Counterinsurgency wars are as much political and economic as military. They require political action, aid in governance, economic development and attention to the ideological and political dimension. The US can only succeed here if the interagency process can work.

o Humancentric warfare does not mean "supersoldiers" or super intelligence officers
This is a particular problem for warfighting intelligence, given the limits of today's technical systemsand means. It is true that better intelligence analysis and HUMINT are critical. But, there will be many times in the future where we will also have to go into counterinsurgency campaigns without being able to put qualified Americans in the field quickly enough to recruit effective agents and develop effective HUMINT on our own. To create effective HUMINT abilities to deal with security issues, the US will need an effective local partner in most serious cases of both counterinsurgency and counterterrorism.
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