Killing Insurgents Will Not Win The War

Terence J. Daly, a retired military intelligence officer and counterinsurgency specialist explains in The New York Times why Bush’s strategy is not working. Killing insurgents does not stop the insurgency:

There is a difference between killing insurgents and fighting an insurgency. In three years, the Sunni insurgency has grown from nothing into a force that threatens our national objective of establishing and maintaining a free, independent and united Iraq. During that time, we have fought insurgents with airstrikes, artillery, the courage and tactical excellence of our forces, and new technology worth billions of dollars. We are further from our goal than we were when we started.

Counterinsurgency is about gaining control of the population, not killing or detaining enemy fighters. A properly planned counterinsurgency campaign moves the population, by stages, from reluctant acceptance of the counterinsurgent force to, ideally, full support.

American soldiers deride “winning hearts and minds” as the equivalent of sitting around a campfire singing “Kumbaya.” But in fact it is a sophisticated, multifaceted, even ruthless struggle to wrest control of a population from cunning and often brutal foes. The counterinsurgent must be ready and able to kill insurgents — lots of them — but as a means, not an end.

Daly explains how this is more a function of police than the military, and concludes:

Forcing the round peg of our military, which has no equal in speed, firepower, maneuver and shock action, into the square hole of international law enforcement and population control isn’t working. We need a peacekeeping force to complement our war-fighters, and we need to start building it now.

If George Bush hadn’t rushed to war, and if removal of Saddam turned out to eventually be necessary, taking the time to build a multinational force would have allowed the United States to do this right, such as having a peace keeping force ready to stabilize areas after the military did its job.

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